words to the west

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Re: words to the west

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:54 am

Silent Bob wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
heart wrote:
Ah, I think no one have except maybe Tricycle. There was some conflict connected with this interview, can't remember what. :smile:

/magnus


You can see the conflict from reading Lama Tharchin's letter, and knowing the editorial bias of Tricycle in general, which is fairly obvious if you've ever looked at a few!


There was actually a mini-scandal over the way the editor, Helen Tworkov, had manipulated Norbu Rinpoche's responses in the published copy of the interview to reflect badly on him and on Vajrayana in general. Tricycle lost quite a few subscribers, including myself, over that little lapse of judgement and I believe the magazine printed a carefully worded not-quite-apology afterward.


I'm not sure I'd characterize it as a mini-scandal. It was a major event, IMHO. Helen Tworkov was accused directly of manipulating the interview though heavy editing. This resulted in the publication of the second version of the interview later. However people took their positions and indeed some readership was lost. Samuel Bercholz publicly resigned from association with Tricycle as did several other people.

I wonder if the non-Asian Buddhist pioneers of the 19th century and the early to mid-20th century had similar problems?

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Re: words to the west

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:10 am

Namdrol wrote: but I am neither and eternalist nor a nihilist.



Yup I wouldn't peg you as either. . . but this isn't really about you... I mean there's not too many of you around.
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Re: words to the west

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:11 am

Namdrol wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
but hardly an over-exaggeration. . . at least, from my POV.


I am not a realized person, but I am neither and eternalist nor a nihilist.


What does it mean to be a realized person? We can say at a minimum attaining the Path of Seeing and that is the canonical answer in Tibetan Buddhism. In Zen Buddhism the answer can be slightly different - a person who has seen the nature of their mind directly (kensho) *could* be considered minimally realized (but probably not until they work on themselves more - it's more like kensho means that you will eventually attain realization).

But in a spiritually barren society practically anyone actively practicing non-harming could be considered to be realized. Then beyond bucking the trend to harm people in the West, if one practices morality and generosity one is really going against the trend and can be seen as quite strange by the general society.

Just actively practicing the six perfections and intellectually understanding the theoretical non-duality between sentient beings almost makes you a saint from the start in this world.

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Re: words to the west

Postby Malcolm » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:21 am

Adamantine wrote:
Namdrol wrote: but I am neither and eternalist nor a nihilist.



Yup I wouldn't peg you as either. . . but this isn't really about you... I mean there's not too many of you around.



I guess I object to the persistent stereptyping of Americans by Tibetans.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:39 am

Namdrol wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
Namdrol wrote: but I am neither and eternalist nor a nihilist.



Yup I wouldn't peg you as either. . . but this isn't really about you... I mean there's not too many of you around.



I guess I object to the persistent stereptyping of Americans by Tibetans.



That's fine, but I don't think that's what was happening in this interview. I mean look at the spectrum from Stephen Batchelor to Dennis Merzel or Roach... and so many others that fall to extremes based on the underlying pervasive influence of the nihilist or eternalist conditioning of their cultural context. I think he was generalizing to make a point, based on real examples, and warn us of a dangerous trend. You don't have to make it all about you! Anyway, I have a feeling the entire interview would read differently, as Lama Tharchin expressed, and you are reacting to the manipulated-by-Tworkov fragments..
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Re: words to the west

Postby Malcolm » Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:26 am

Adamantine wrote:

That's fine, but I don't think that's what was happening in this interview. I mean look at the spectrum from Stephen Batchelor to Dennis Merzel or Roach... and so many others that fall to extremes based on the underlying pervasive influence of the nihilist or eternalist conditioning of their cultural context. I think he was generalizing to make a point, based on real examples, and warn us of a dangerous trend. You don't have to make it all about you! Anyway, I have a feeling the entire interview would read differently, as Lama Tharchin expressed, and you are reacting to the manipulated-by-Tworkov fragments..


I guess I just don't accept TNR's analysis of our situation.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:31 am

Namdrol wrote:
Adamantine wrote:

That's fine, but I don't think that's what was happening in this interview. I mean look at the spectrum from Stephen Batchelor to Dennis Merzel or Roach... and so many others that fall to extremes based on the underlying pervasive influence of the nihilist or eternalist conditioning of their cultural context. I think he was generalizing to make a point, based on real examples, and warn us of a dangerous trend. You don't have to make it all about you! Anyway, I have a feeling the entire interview would read differently, as Lama Tharchin expressed, and you are reacting to the manipulated-by-Tworkov fragments..


I guess I just don't accept TNR's analysis of our situation.



There's a lot in there, what do you not accept? All of it? Or just the part about Western Dharma teachers?

I personally can easily accept it all, as it accords with my experience of teachers and students both.
Additionally, the "meat" of this interview- since out of the three or four Tricycle mags I ever bought this happened to be one-- manifested to me -popped off the shelf- right at significant times of doubt based on cultural-conditioning early on my path. It always became an antidote to arrogant tendencies I was subtly falling into that would have derailed me from progress. I actually owe a great deal to this very interview, and to Dungse Thinley Norbu himself whom I later had the great good fortune to fall into the blessing-field of a number of times.

I guess you had/have a different experience, but maybe it will help you to know how helpful it has been for me.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:56 am

Namdrol wrote:I guess I object to the persistent stereptyping of Americans by Tibetans.
As long as the opportunity is freely available for Americans to become teachers, monks, translators, yogis or whatever then I think prejudice against American Buddhists is a good thing and should continue. Keeps us on our toes and will force us to realize our interest is a fad and leave (or whine about the need to "modernize" Buddhism in some autobiography) or take Buddhism seriously, throw ourselves in to it, and actually progress. Like Tilopa whacking Naro with his shoe, Naropa could have just left you know.
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Re: words to the west

Postby muni » Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:57 am

Huseng wrote:[
This is striking:
Another problem is that almost all Western teachers of Buddhism are either nihilists or eternalists, and not actual Buddhist lineage holders.


This may or may not be true depending on the tradition and locality.

I've heard before that some Tibetan lamas have expressed dismay about the spiritual faculties of students in the west. This is probably related to the prevailing reality-world views which are inherently materialistic and foster adharmic views, doubt and scepticism rather than right views, conviction and intellectual prowess.

My experience in Asia would definitely affirm what is being said here. With the exception of Japan, Buddhism in places like Taiwan, Nepal and India is like night and day compared to what you have in the west. At the most basic level people have faith in the Triple Gem and express concern about their future rebirths, but in the west a lot of self-identifying Buddhists don't really accept even the essentials of Buddhadharma like rebirth and karma, much less having genuine conviction that liberation is possible. If you don't think samsara actually happens or that our actions direct our future rebirths, then liberation in the Buddhist context might as well be a fictional fantasy.

What makes matters worse is you have publishers publishing "Buddhist teachers" who teach false dharma and only reinforce wrong views.


"Buddhism in places like Taiwan, Nepal and India is like night and day compared to what you have in the west".
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Re: words to the west

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:16 am

Konchog1 wrote:
Namdrol wrote:I guess I object to the persistent stereptyping of Americans by Tibetans.
As long as the opportunity is freely available for Americans to become teachers, monks, translators, yogis or whatever then I think prejudice against American Buddhists is a good thing and should continue. Keeps us on our toes and will force us to realize our interest is a fad and leave (or whine about the need to "modernize" Buddhism in some autobiography) or take Buddhism seriously, throw ourselves in to it, and actually progress. Like Tilopa whacking Naro with his shoe, Naropa could have just left you know.


That's the same as saying prejudice against blacks is justified because it means they have to work twice as hard to get as far as their white counterparts, thus fostering some kind of misconceived diligence.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:33 am

Huseng wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Namdrol wrote:I guess I object to the persistent stereptyping of Americans by Tibetans.
As long as the opportunity is freely available for Americans to become teachers, monks, translators, yogis or whatever then I think prejudice against American Buddhists is a good thing and should continue. Keeps us on our toes and will force us to realize our interest is a fad and leave (or whine about the need to "modernize" Buddhism in some autobiography) or take Buddhism seriously, throw ourselves in to it, and actually progress. Like Tilopa whacking Naro with his shoe, Naropa could have just left you know.


That's the same as saying prejudice against blacks is justified because it means they have to work twice as hard to get as far as their white counterparts, thus fostering some kind of misconceived diligence.
No.

1. Blacks don't have chances when prejudiced against.
2. Buddhism is a choice, Blackness is not.
3. There a lot of fad quasi Buddhists, higher expectations would help them go one way or another. There is no parallel here.
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"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: words to the west

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:58 am

Konchog1 wrote:]No.

1. Blacks don't have chances when prejudiced against.


As the saying goes, they gotta work twice as hard.

2. Buddhism is a choice, Blackness is not.


Not really. A lot of people who take up Buddhism do it out of karmic connection to it and would feel incomplete without it.

3. There a lot of fad quasi Buddhists, higher expectations would help them go one way or another. There is no parallel here.


Sure there is. You're condoning discrimination against a particular nationality, saying it is positive and rewarding for Tibetans to have prejudice against American Buddhists. That's like saying it is good for one ethnic group to have ill sentiments against another because it apparently fosters good qualities in the latter.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:29 am

Huseng wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Namdrol wrote:I guess I object to the persistent stereptyping of Americans by Tibetans.
As long as the opportunity is freely available for Americans to become teachers, monks, translators, yogis or whatever then I think prejudice against American Buddhists is a good thing and should continue. Keeps us on our toes and will force us to realize our interest is a fad and leave (or whine about the need to "modernize" Buddhism in some autobiography) or take Buddhism seriously, throw ourselves in to it, and actually progress. Like Tilopa whacking Naro with his shoe, Naropa could have just left you know.


That's the same as saying prejudice against blacks is justified because it means they have to work twice as hard to get as far as their white counterparts, thus fostering some kind of misconceived diligence.


Huseng, either we are moving WAY :offtopic: here, or I am confused--- if you are agreeing with Namdrol that TNR is betraying a stereotyping of Americans, which I don't believe he is-- then this doesn't make sense given your prior post which seems completely in tune with TNR's sentiments:

Huseng wrote:My experience in Asia would definitely affirm what is being said here. With the exception of Japan, Buddhism in places like Taiwan, Nepal and India is like night and day compared to what you have in the west. At the most basic level people have faith in the Triple Gem and express concern about their future rebirths, but in the west a lot of self-identifying Buddhists don't really accept even the essentials of Buddhadharma like rebirth and karma, much less having genuine conviction that liberation is possible. If you don't think samsara actually happens or that our actions direct our future rebirths, then liberation in the Buddhist context might as well be a fictional fantasy.

What makes matters worse is you have publishers publishing "Buddhist teachers" who teach false dharma and only reinforce wrong views.


Ironically your mini-debate with Konchog1 is the opposite of what TNR expresses in his interview: that there is an underlying racism in Americans' views of Asian teachers, which is why there is such a drive to create an "American Buddhism", risking throwing the baby out with the bathwater in order to make it conform to American views, with American teachers leading it, etc.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:54 am

Huseng wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:]No.

1. Blacks don't have chances when prejudiced against.


As the saying goes, they gotta work twice as hard.

2. Buddhism is a choice, Blackness is not.


Not really. A lot of people who take up Buddhism do it out of karmic connection to it and would feel incomplete without it.

3. There a lot of fad quasi Buddhists, higher expectations would help them go one way or another. There is no parallel here.


Sure there is. You're condoning discrimination against a particular nationality, saying it is positive and rewarding for Tibetans to have prejudice against American Buddhists. That's like saying it is good for one ethnic group to have ill sentiments against another because it apparently fosters good qualities in the latter.


Those with a karmic connection would have no problem then. No. It's bad for Tibetans to be prejudiced (same as for anyone else) but it's positive and rewarding for us.

I think the key point is that you've misrepresented my argument as "Tibetans shouldn't let us in temples" whereas I was saying it would good for Western Buddhists IF Tibetans were to assume all western Buddhists were a bunch of hippies and so forth so that the real things are inspired to break from the mold and the people that match the assumption are sidelined into "Modern Buddhism" or "Skeptical Buddhism" or whatever they want to call their group.

So "There's some Westerners, I bet they aren't the real thing" instead of "There's some Westerners, get the hoses and dogs"
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: words to the west

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:57 am

Adamantine wrote:Ironically your mini-debate with Konchog1 is the opposite of what TNR expresses in his interview: that there is an underlying racism in Americans' views of Asian teachers, which is why there is such a drive to create an "American Buddhism", risking throwing the baby out with the bathwater in order to make it conform to American views, with American teachers leading it, etc.


I think what you see in the west is like night and day compared to what you observe in Nepal, India and Taiwan.

That doesn't mean I think all western Buddhists are incompetent, but just that we have a lot of problems with basic Buddhism 101 that elsewhere is not an issue. Prejudice and stereotyping of any group is inappropriate. Namdrol mentioned Tibetan stereotyping of Americans. In Japan I got the sense that I was seen as a token foreigner studying Buddhism, but few of my colleagues and instructors took me seriously. That might have something to do with my age, but in Japanese Buddhism the idea of westerners doing Buddhism is still kind of an uncertain novelty.

As a western Buddhist in Asia, you gotta work twice as hard as a local to get the locals' respect.

I don't know about this apparent underlying racism in Americans' views of Asian teachers. It might exist, but is it really so widespread? I doubt it.

The drive to create an "American Buddhism" is probably more linked with trying to cultivate more appealing and close cultural contexts in which Buddhism can be practised, instead of having to go to Asia to find qualified teachers and/or learning a second language just to get access to advanced dharma teachings and practices. Some are clearly trying to make a Buddhism sanitized of disagreeable religious elements like rebirth and karma. This is most prevalent in Zen, at least in my reckoning.

I doubt it is heavily tied to racism.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:06 am

Konchog1 wrote:Those with a karmic connection would have no problem then. No. It's bad for Tibetans to be prejudiced (same as for anyone else) but it's positive and rewarding for us.


It isn't rewarding. People will get turned off from Tibetan Buddhism if the locals are treating them like unwanted guests.

Have you ever been to Asia?


I think the key point is that you've misrepresented my argument as "Tibetans shouldn't let us in temples" whereas I was saying it would good for Western Buddhists IF Tibetans were to assume all western Buddhists were a bunch of hippies and so forth so that the real things are inspired to break from the mold and the people that match the assumption are sidelined into "Modern Buddhism" or "Skeptical Buddhism" or whatever they want to call their group.


This makes no sense. Western Buddhists are diverse bunch and there is no single mold. Some are neatly dressed professionals, married with children, and clearly not hippies. Others like me are big and haggard looking, but holding academic credentials. There are "hippy" types, especially here in India around Dharamsala, but they're kind of the minority.


So "There's some Westerners, I bet they aren't the real thing" instead of "There's some Westerners, get the hoses and dogs"


You're still advocating an underlying mistrust and prejudice against countless Buddhists who were born in the western world. This is neither healthy nor going to facilitate practice. It is the same as saying discrimination against immigrants is good because it'll make them work harder.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:29 am

I can't really agree with this thesis, as I have spent a great deal of time with Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhist Lamas and have not noticed this so-called stereotyping. I also don't agree that this is what is happening in the article the OP is about. I have only been shown great kindness by my Tibetan Lamas, -- altogether kindness beyond compare. The author of the above text spent the last half of his life living in American and teaching Americans, when hundreds of thousands in Nepal, India, Tibet and Bhutan were longing for his return. This is clearly only a great sign of confidence in us, and nothing else, and if his words are interpreted without keeping this in mind then it is a very shortsighted and unfortunate view. I think it's also a terrible time to be cultivating such views, while Rinpoche has just taken parinirvana and rests in tukdam. We should all instead be cultivating great devotion, merging our minds with his wisdom-mind, and not dissecting his words with critical minds.
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Re: words to the west

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:33 am

Huseng wrote:
It isn't rewarding. People will get turned off from Tibetan Buddhism if the locals are treating them like unwanted guests.

Have you ever been to Asia?



I have stayed with Tibetans in India and Nepal more than a few times, in gompas, in scholastic institutions and in homes, and I have only ever been treated with great hospitality and great kindness. You keep throwing out red-herrings and you have no idea what you're talking about. Are you just arguing for the sake of it? :focus:
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Re: words to the west

Postby Sönam » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:33 am

Adamantine wrote:I think it's also a terrible time to be cultivating such views, while Rinpoche has just taken parinirvana and rests in tukdam. We should all instead be cultivating great devotion, merging our minds with his wisdom-mind, and not dissecting his words with critical minds.


yes !

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Re: words to the west

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:36 am

Adamantine wrote:
Huseng wrote:
It isn't rewarding. People will get turned off from Tibetan Buddhism if the locals are treating them like unwanted guests.

Have you ever been to Asia?



I have stayed with Tibetans in India and Nepal more than a few times, in gompas, in scholastic institutions and in homes, and I have only ever been treated with great hospitality and great kindness. You keep throwing out red-herrings and you have no idea what you're talking about. Are you just arguing for the sake of it? :focus:


That question was directed at Konchog1, not you.
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