Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Blue Garuda » Sun Dec 25, 2011 6:28 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:
Does Dzogchen rely upon attainment of the nine yanas? If not, then is it 'above' or simply 'beyond' the nine? If not linked as a progression, then are the Nine and Dzogchen complementary or not associated at all, like a staircase and an elevator?


The nine yānas is one way of presenting Dzogchen i.e. as the result of a gradual progression.

But there there is Dzogchen proper, which is beyond the nine yānas because it and of itself, Dzogchen is not gradual in anyway.

N


Ah, thank you. :) I guess that equates to 'developmental' and 'revelatory', where the latter may occur at any time?
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Malcolm » Sun Dec 25, 2011 7:21 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:
Does Dzogchen rely upon attainment of the nine yanas? If not, then is it 'above' or simply 'beyond' the nine? If not linked as a progression, then are the Nine and Dzogchen complementary or not associated at all, like a staircase and an elevator?


The nine yānas is one way of presenting Dzogchen i.e. as the result of a gradual progression.

But there there is Dzogchen proper, which is beyond the nine yānas because it and of itself, Dzogchen is not gradual in anyway.

N


Ah, thank you. :) I guess that equates to 'developmental' and 'revelatory', where the latter may occur at any time?


The latter is dependent on the instruction of the master and the confidence of the student.

N
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Blue Garuda » Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:05 pm

Thanks. That also answers the point about one school's superiority over another, as Dzogchen seems outside of any school's 'ownership' and thus universally attainable with the right instruction and guru/disciple relationship. Of course, such masters are likely to be more easily found in a school which has a focus on Dzogchen. An ecumenical approach could go both ways, I guess - an increase in correct Dzogchen across the TB schools, or a mish-mash of compromises. Think I'll stick with Mahamudra for this lifetime. :)
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Malcolm » Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:11 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:Thanks. That also answers the point about one school's superiority over another, as Dzogchen seems outside of any school's 'ownership' and thus universally attainable with the right instruction and guru/disciple relationship.


Correct -- no one school "owns" Dzogchen, though since it entered Tibet in the old promulgation period, and is associated with the treasure tradition, it has come to be seen as a "Nyingma" teaching.

These days "Dzogchen" has come to be seen and treated as a "school", but this is incorrect. Dzogchen is a personal experience — not a school, not a religion, and not a philosophical position.

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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:04 am

A lot of the Buddhism I see is already somewhat ecumenial at least.
Most "traditions" or "schools" began as some sort of ecumenial mix at the time, too.

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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Zenshin 善心 » Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:08 am

Huifeng wrote:A lot of the Buddhism I see is already somewhat ecumenial at least.
Most "traditions" or "schools" began as some sort of ecumenial mix at the time, too.

~~ Huifeng


would it be safe to say, given the prominence of Tientai in China and later Tendai in Japan, which had quite an ecumenical approach towards doctrine and practice, and the number of schools which arose from both, that a healthy portion (if not the majority) of Chinese and Japanese forms, have their roots in ecumenicism?
All beings since their first aspiration till the attainment of Buddhahood are sheltered under the guardianship of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who, responding to the requirements of the occasion, transform themselves and assume the actual forms of personality.

Thus for the sake of all beings Buddhas and Bodhisattvas become sometimes their parents, sometimes their wives and children, sometimes their kinsmen, sometimes their servants, sometimes their friends, sometimes their enemies, sometimes reveal themselves as devas or in some other forms.


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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:45 am

dumbbombu wrote:
Huifeng wrote:A lot of the Buddhism I see is already somewhat ecumenial at least.
Most "traditions" or "schools" began as some sort of ecumenial mix at the time, too.

~~ Huifeng


would it be safe to say, given the prominence of Tientai in China and later Tendai in Japan, which had quite an ecumenical approach towards doctrine and practice, and the number of schools which arose from both, that a healthy portion (if not the majority) of Chinese and Japanese forms, have their roots in ecumenicism?


I don't know enough about Japanese Buddhism, but the majority of Buddhism in China comes from a wide range of so called traditions.
Some would argue that this is going from pure traditions to ecumenialism or whatever, but I would argue that these traditions have always been like this.
Which means that in a sense there were never really pure traditions at all in China to begin with, at least in the way in which some portray them.
eg. take San Lun, it is based on madhyamaka texts, but these texts themselves have material from various sutras, sastras, etc.; or Tiantai, which includes madhyamaka and tathagatagarbha, etc.; and if we take a further step back, all these traditions themselves take from a number of pre-Mahayana traditions, etc. etc..

Ecumenailism may imply the joining together of traditions, but whether or not such traditions themselves are really so cut and dry is something we can also look into.

All phenomena arise from a number of causal conditions;
None arise from a single cause.

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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:50 am

Huifeng wrote:I don't know enough about Japanese Buddhism, but the majority of Buddhism in China comes from a wide range of so called traditions.
Some would argue that this is going from pure traditions to ecumenialism or whatever, but I would argue that these traditions have always been like this.
Which means that in a sense there were never really pure traditions at all in China to begin with, at least in the way in which some portray them.
eg. take San Lun, it is based on madhyamaka texts, but these texts themselves have material from various sutras, sastras, etc.; or Tiantai, which includes madhyamaka and tathagatagarbha, etc.; and if we take a further step back, all these traditions themselves take from a number of pre-Mahayana traditions, etc. etc..


I think the notion of "tradition" (宗派), as it were, is more rigid in definition in Japan. The Japanese Buddhists of old were quite keen on drawing out distinct lineages and traditions, attempting at times to envision a historical reality for them on the mainland. As the late John McRae pointed out in his work, Zen was a number of strictly defined sects in Japan; many self-identified with them and moreover whole monasteries fell under their banners, yet in China Chan was not so. Chan was not an institutionalized sect in China, but it was in Japan.



Ecumenailism may imply the joining together of traditions, but whether or not such traditions themselves are really so cut and dry is something we can also look into.


I think though traditions in the present day tend to be coloured and largely identified with cultural backgrounds (for example "Tibetan Buddhism" is regarded as a tradition apart from everything else in the Buddhist world and people's behaviour reflect this perceived reality as well).

That's what I'm wondering about specifically... will the cultural barriers melt away? Most Tibetan Buddhists I know take zero interest in things outside TB. They might be Gelug-pa and while Nyingma or Kagyu practices and teachings might be absorbed, they'd never think to go study under a Chan teacher. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I believe people should do what they feel appropriate given their karmic circumstances. Still, Buddhism underwent a massive holocaust in the last century (in the 19th century Buddhism was probably the largest religion in the world), and unity and fellowship is, in my mind, important to cultivate.

I suppose, though, it depends not so much on institutions, but people's karmic propensities and relations. Some feel great connection to Theravada and nothing else, others feel a connection only to TB and little else.
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby ground » Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:10 am

First there arises the idea of separation and difference, next there arises the idea of unification and oneness. Nothing but ideas.

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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Malcolm » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:28 pm

Most Tibetan Buddhists I know take zero interest in things outside TB. They might be Gelug-pa and while Nyingma or Kagyu practices and teachings might be absorbed, they'd never think to go study under a Chan teacher. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I believe people should do what they feel appropriate given their karmic circumstances. Still, Buddhism underwent a massive holocaust in the last century (in the 19th century Buddhism was probably the largest religion in the world), and unity and fellowship is, in my mind, important to cultivate.

I suppose, though, it depends not so much on institutions, but people's karmic propensities and relations. Some feel great connection to Theravada and nothing else, others feel a connection only to TB and little else.


Once you have settled on whatever practice you are interested in, there is not much point, apart from academic interest, in pursuing other school's teachings.

Also there is a question of terminology and hermenuetics -- Sino-Japanese hermeneutics are not compatible to a large degree with Indo-Tibetan hermeneutics -- their interpretive criteria are simply too different to make comparisons meaningful. For example, take the perennial debate about Chan in Tibetan Buddhism. Anyone who has studied Dzogchen deeply knows that Dzogchen and Chan are not related. But for all of that, there is superficial rhetoric that causes people to consistently conflate the two.

Also the deep differences between Tibetan Buddhism and Sino-Japanese Buddhism sometimes render influences of one upon the other hard to see, for example, underlying current of debt Kagyu Mahāmudra systems own to Chan Buddhism via such texts as the Vajrasamadhi sutra. It is also a contention of certain Tibetan scholars that Chan is influenced by Dzogchen (via Tun Huang).

Whatever the case may be, what we usually observe is people moving through schools and practices until they find people they like and with whom they feel comfortable. I know many people who like Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche's teachings, but do not feel welcome in Dzogchen Community, and so they do not stay -- the DC simple does not address their emotional and social needs. And these two latter factors, the meeting of emotional and social needs, I would argue, are far more important than doctrine in terms of why people select the practices and lineages they do, over all.

N
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Pero » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:39 pm

Namdrol wrote:Whatever the case may be, what we usually observe is people moving through schools and practices until they find people they like and with whom they feel comfortable. I know many people who like Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche's teachings, but do not feel welcome in Dzogchen Community, and so they do not stay -- the DC simple does not address their emotional and social needs. And these two latter factors, the meeting of emotional and social needs, I would argue, are far more important than doctrine in terms of why people select the practices and lineages they do, over all.

Ohh, very interesting observation... I don't think it's like this for everyone though (like myself probably).
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:44 am

Namdrol wrote:Also there is a question of terminology and hermenuetics -- Sino-Japanese hermeneutics are not compatible to a large degree with Indo-Tibetan hermeneutics -- their interpretive criteria are simply too different to make comparisons meaningful.


I agree, but the reality is that most western Buddhists do not strictly subscribe to a specific hermeneutic from Asia, but rather in recent times buddhadharma is analysed through the lens of western thought (such as psychology and philosophy). Just look at all the books which compare some form of Buddhist thought with a western philosopher or psychologist. Much of the vocabulary in English we use to discuss Buddhist thought is also derived from the western, not even Indian, intellectual lexicon. How many times have we seen the word "ego" being used to interpret and discuss Buddhism? I disagree with this practice, but inevitably it does happen and is a sign of cultural mixing -- specifically, western psychology and Buddhist thought being merged. Even terms like "ontology" and "hermeneutic" are problematic in many contexts as they are heavily informed by the western philosophy tradition.

Our general epistemology is also largely divorced from what existed in traditional Indian Buddhist thought. Śabda-pramana or knowing through authoritative testimony is not generally acceptable to most westerners with a western education. I have some understanding of the classical East Asian Buddhist approach to scholarship and while I might reproduce their methods for my own purposes, I don't think it would go over well with most western Buddhists, much less in the academic world.

I think that a lot of modern westerners, even with many years of study, can and will use a common western hermeneutic to interpret all schools of Buddhism. This is happening as we speak actually. Again, I disagree with this and tend to favour traditional Buddhist scholastic approaches, but the reality is that most of the people writing books on Buddhism in the English speaking world are coming from a largely western intellectual background and do not subscribe to a traditional Asian Buddhist hermeneutic.
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:23 am

In that case, do you wish to reword the very OP topic itself?
After all, "ecumenial" is not a Buddhist term.

Is Buddha-dharma open to antara-vadika approaches? :tongue:

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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:47 am

Huifeng wrote:In that case, do you wish to reword the very OP topic itself?
After all, "ecumenial" is not a Buddhist term.

Is Buddha-dharma open to antara-vadika approaches? :tongue:

~~ Huifeng


Well, again, we use the language that is available to us. A word like "ecumenical" and others like "soteriology" have their roots in European Theology, but nevertheless using them in English speaking discourse makes things more intelligible, though mutually understood caveats concerning their applicability to Buddhism need to exist.

However, using the word "ego" for ātman should be discouraged because it is simply misleading and easily conflated with ideas of id and ego as taught in western psychology. The word "ecumenical" is, on the other hand, not going to really mislead people.
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Astus » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:53 am

An ecumenical approach is found in several Chinese masters' teachings, among whom one of the most prominent is Yongming Yanshou. Just as he could personally connect to and comprehend the major teachings of his time, it is also possible today to do the same with diverse traditions.

"The term zong is problematic owing to its different meanings. It can refer to a doctrinal interpretation, particularly the underlying theme or essential doctrine of a text, or to a “school,” which in Chinese Buddhism often refers to a tradition tracing its origin back to its founder. In this case, Yanshou is clearly closer to the first meaning, suggesting a unified underlying theme or essential doctrine of Buddhist teaching as a whole, and clearly countering narrower interpretations favored by sectarian lineage. The means to accomplish this aim are also made clear: using the question-and-answer method to dispel doubts and citing writings that make true principle—the central, unifying source ( zhengzong 正宗 ) of Buddhist teaching—explicit. The suggestion that such a unifying doctrine underlies all Buddhist teaching is essentially antithetical to sectarian concerns.
According to Yanshou, the citation of authoritative scriptures, the teachings of the Buddhas and patriarchs, makes clear that the one, all-encompassing, universal mind ( yixin 一心 ) is the zong , the central, unifying source of Buddhist teaching. The myriad dharmas of phenomenal existence ( wanfa 萬法 ) are the mirror, or reflections ( jing 鏡 ) of the mind. Hence, the title of the work, Zongjing lu , refers to a record ( lu 錄 ) of sources that reflect or mirror ( jing ) the essential, underlying doctrine of Buddhist teaching ( zong )."

(Albert Welter: Yongming Yanshou's Conception of Chan, p. 24-25)
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:19 am

It's funny, for me, that most of the terminology being thrown around and labelled as "Western" is actually Greek and Greece, from my personal experience, has much more in common with the near East and the Balkans than the Anglo-Celtic-Saxon mindset that is currently defined as "Western".
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:32 am

gregkavarnos wrote:It's funny, for me, that most of the terminology being thrown around and labelled as "Western" is actually Greek and Greece, from my personal experience, has much more in common with the near East and the Balkans than the Anglo-Celtic-Saxon mindset that is currently defined as "Western".
:namaste:


It'd be interesting to know what the short-lived Hellenic Buddhists in ancient times had in their vocabulary.
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby muni » Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:09 pm

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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:13 pm

Huseng wrote:
Huifeng wrote:In that case, do you wish to reword the very OP topic itself?
After all, "ecumenial" is not a Buddhist term.

Is Buddha-dharma open to antara-vadika approaches? :tongue:

~~ Huifeng


Well, again, we use the language that is available to us. A word like "ecumenical" and others like "soteriology" have their roots in European Theology, but nevertheless using them in English speaking discourse makes things more intelligible, though mutually understood caveats concerning their applicability to Buddhism need to exist.

However, using the word "ego" for ātman should be discouraged because it is simply misleading and easily conflated with ideas of id and ego as taught in western psychology. The word "ecumenical" is, on the other hand, not going to really mislead people.


Either way, I think that the main issue would simply be whether one is a specialist or not.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Is ecumenical Buddhism realistic?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:40 pm

Huifeng wrote:Either way, I think that the main issue would simply be whether one is a specialist or not.

~~ Huifeng



In what sense? A lot of authors, who might be considered specialists, have questionable ideas about Buddhism.

Maybe this will change in due time as more Buddhists topple the secular monopoly of Buddhist Studies in the English speaking world... then we can do away with Jungian influenced writings on Buddhadharma.
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