This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:15 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:its not that "western academia" is the key, rather, uncompromising pursuit of truth is the key. this requires not taking anything for granted, not sleepwalking, which unfortunately can occur in either academia or shedra if one simply believes everything one is told and just parrots the words of others, thinking that doing so is the same as realization. questioning everything like a western academic and practicing like a yogi would be my Rx for success.


Your pursuit of truth might be heavily informed by cultural conditioning which is in reality adharmic. The vision of truth in much of western thought nowadays is basically nihilistic, whereas in a shedra you would be directed towards truth as defined in Buddhist terms with liberative aims in mind.
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby Jikan » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:38 pm

On the topic of different modes of learning in the Dharma context... has anyone seen this? Yikes... I'm not sure how to evaluate it, but I don't think it's lighthearted parody.

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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby gad rgyangs » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:28 am

Huseng wrote:
gad rgyangs wrote:its not that "western academia" is the key, rather, uncompromising pursuit of truth is the key. this requires not taking anything for granted, not sleepwalking, which unfortunately can occur in either academia or shedra if one simply believes everything one is told and just parrots the words of others, thinking that doing so is the same as realization. questioning everything like a western academic and practicing like a yogi would be my Rx for success.


Your pursuit of truth might be heavily informed by cultural conditioning which is in reality adharmic. The vision of truth in much of western thought nowadays is basically nihilistic, whereas in a shedra you would be directed towards truth as defined in Buddhist terms with liberative aims in mind.


everyone's pursuit of truth is heavily informed by cultural conditioning, there's no way around that. to me, "adharmic" means "not seeking truth", which can happen anywhere even in a monastary debating courtyard, where 99% of what is going on is nothing but rote memorization and heavy cultural conditioning. You don't have to demonstrate an aptitude for critical thinking to get a geshe degree, you just have to memorize reams of texts and practice all the stock debating moves and responses. Of course, some geshes are brilliant, but just having a geshe degree doesn't mean much, just like having a Ph.D. doesn't necessarily mean much either.

it's best not to confuse methodology with content. critical thinking is about investigating, testing, and suspending judgment until one has justifiable cause to make one. I actually agree that as far as content goes, western philosophy is mostly mental masturbation, but the scholarly methodology is light-years ahead of traditions that still have their heads in the middle ages. as far as practice goes, the asians are light-years ahead of the west. so, if you just want to do mani practice or tara or break your knees doing prostrations, then of course who needs western scholarship and methodology? but if you are attempting to follow and investigate buddhist ontology, epistemology or hermenutics (all of which have enormous traditions in all the major buddhist cultures), then pretending that critical thought is not applicable just because all the tibetans you know who wear robes have no use for it is just plain ignorant.
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby Indrajala » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:40 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:everyone's pursuit of truth is heavily informed by cultural conditioning, there's no way around that. to me, "adharmic" means "not seeking truth", which can happen anywhere even in a monastary debating courtyard, where 99% of what is going on is nothing but rote memorization and heavy cultural conditioning.


Adharma refers to false dharmas, which would be non-truths and ideas which lead one away from liberation. It doesn't mean "not seeking truth".


You don't have to demonstrate an aptitude for critical thinking to get a geshe degree, you just have to memorize reams of texts and practice all the stock debating moves and responses. Of course, some geshes are brilliant, but just having a geshe degree doesn't mean much, just like having a Ph.D. doesn't necessarily mean much either.


While I agree that critical thinking is important, I reckon a traditional shedra program would still produce a more well-rounded student, equipped with sufficient knowledge to pursue a practice conducive to liberation.

Memorizing texts also has value as well. The stigma against memorization is a largely a western bias. It has been employed in Asia and has worked well for people for many many centuries. To tell them they're full of it because you don't like memorizing stuff is basically spitting in the faces of countless eminent scholars.


it's best not to confuse methodology with content. critical thinking is about investigating, testing, and suspending judgment until one has justifiable cause to make one.


In the case of Buddhism, it is best to defer to liberated beings until you're in a capable position yourself. If you want scriptural support for that statement see the following:

"Excellent, Sariputta. Excellent. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation."

SN 48.44
PTS: S v 220
CDB ii 1689
Pubbakotthaka Sutta: Eastern Gatehouse



I actually agree that as far as content goes, western philosophy is mostly mental masturbation, but the scholarly methodology is light-years ahead of traditions that still have their heads in the middle ages.


Those traditions are designed for liberation, not scholarship.


as far as practice goes, the asians are light-years ahead of the west. so, if you just want to do mani practice or tara or break your knees doing prostrations, then of course who needs western scholarship and methodology? but if you are attempting to follow and investigate buddhist ontology, epistemology or hermenutics (all of which have enormous traditions in all the major buddhist cultures), then pretending that critical thought is not applicable just because all the tibetans you know who wear robes have no use for it is just plain ignorant.


I did not suggest any such thing.

You're implying Tibetan geshes don't have much if any critical thought. You're actually just projecting your own cultural biases and expectations onto them.
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby kirtu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:37 pm

Huseng wrote:In the case of Buddhism, it is best to defer to liberated beings until you're in a capable position yourself.


We have to be careful with this. There is too much appeal to authority, sometimes inappropriately, in Tibetan Buddhism in the West and people can make claims that a liberated being said this or that. This can lead to infantilization of the laity.

An example would be a suggestion I made to a group that we do a Nyung Ney. One of the monastics thought this was too difficult for Western people in general and recited an incident from the 70's or 80's during which a revered, strict and now deceased and reborn lama had reluctantly agreed to lead a Nyung Ney but had implied that it was really too hard for Western people ("I can do Nyung Ney, I don't know if you can"). In this tradition this lama is seen as being liberated. Sure enough there was an incident during the Nyung Ney. This was cited in order to bolster this argument that this practice is basically inaccessible to Westerners. However it's not the 70's or 80's any more, people have generally gotten more serious with practice and lots of people do the practice now and anyway stories of this group at that time are not generally very positive. So the views of a revered lama and an unfortunate example are not relevant to the situation anymore.

This can devolve further: I asked a visiting Khenpo what sutras Tibetans might study and got an answer that it is best to not study sutras! That's best left to scholars.

Comparisons to European pre-Reformation Catholic Church control are inevitable and may have the same negative results. I was basically told by a long time Tibetan Buddhist student that Tibetan Buddhist lamas considered that they had tested Westerners to see if they were able to follow Dharma (like the testing of the Tibetans with the original seven monks) and that Westerners were found wanting.

Huseng wrote:
I actually agree that as far as content goes, western philosophy is mostly mental masturbation, but the scholarly methodology is light-years ahead of traditions that still have their heads in the middle ages.


Those traditions are designed for liberation, not scholarship.


They claim that they are also designed for scholarship.

I'm reminded of George Dreyfus' incident in "Sound of Two Hands Clapping" during a formal debate where he couldn't remember the correct move to make in a logical argument (he couldn't remember the next step in a proof in effect). It's true that people outside of Buddhists academic institutions have to memorize (or deeply acquaint themselves with) proofs - it's scary to try to reconstruct results from first principles on the spot in an oral exam (or sometimes at a conference). However in this case Dreyfus had not acquainted himself deeply enough with the reasoning involved and had apparently NOT taken opposing intellectual positions to explore the topic (in this case it had to do with an Arhat's liberation). In fact I find that Tibetan teachers generally do not like to entertain opposing intellectual positions although I may just do this at inopportune times (I did the same thing in grad school to explore topics ). But I think it is the methodology that they tend not to like and the use of the methodology by someone who hasn't approached their academic training.

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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby CapNCrunch » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:53 pm

well, it could, but Lindtner is an academic and his mental problems are an interesting phenomena in light of his scholarly contributions


What "mental problems?"

Wow - I was really surprised that the OP and others are so quick to chalk this guy up as "mental", a "Few Sammy's short of a pic-nic" etc. - And some after getting an entire 16 seconds into the video. That's either evidence of paranormal powers and super-human discernment, or an emotional knee-jerk reaction - how can you write someone off after 16 seconds? What, you didn't like the way he looked?

Granted, there may be more to the story than the clip provided - but if so, it's incumbent on the OP to provide more context - b/c it's the first I've heard of the guy, and this video is my first introduction to his ideas on the holocaust - and based on this video alone, I see absolutely *nothing* - zero, zilch, that would indicate that this man is necessarily bereft of compassion, or that he's a nut-job.

In fact, the knee-jerk reaction to this clip makes his case quite well - that the historical "final solution" and persecution and attempted extermination of the Jewish people by Hitler, and the entire phenomenon of the "holocaust" that has evolved since, are two different, albeit interdependent things. If you took the time to watch more than 16 seconds of the video...

Again - if there's more to it than this clip, and he's a bona-fide nut-job, then please present the evidence, b/c this video doesn't cut it. And if he's an obvious Anti-Semite rascal, then there should be a plethora of evidence to choose from.

If that's the case, then the OP was rather lazy in choosing this particular clip with which to paint this Nargajuna scholar as mentally ill and devoid of compassion - to point to him as the poster-child for a view of emptiness gone awry.

I know I'm new, so maybe that's reason enough for some to say that I must necessarily be an Anti-Semite for daring to say WTF? after reading this thread- but nothing could be further from the truth. I think what Hitler and those he enlisted did to the Jewish people is one of the most heinous blights on humanity I've ever heard of. I think the Jewish people are amazing, and have nothing whatsoever against them collectively, or anyone I've met individually. I think that Hitler was a mad-man, who like Mao, squandered his incredible merit to create a hell on earth - and that if there's any justice or true cause-effect in this universe, that Herr Shicklegruber has a special spot in the most heinous of hells reserved for him, where he is, even now, enjoying the fruits of his demonic actions.

But having said that, it's sad, to me, that it's (apparently) not even possible to speak of the holocaust and discuss it without freaking out and painting anyone who would (shudder) dare to make some distinctions or posit a new idea as mentally ill and devoid of compassion. I expect better, and this thread for me, has the same flavor as any other fundamentalist rant.
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby justsit » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:56 pm

Perhaps OP has an underlying assumption that anyone who is interested in the backstory to a presented topic will pursue it on their own before commenting. :shrug:

Google is your friend. ;)
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby AdmiralJim » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:03 am

I sort of lost respect for him when he said he was part of some Iranian committee. it does appear that a scholar has just discovered what everyone already knew and that my great-grandmother took in German Jews because they were actually being persecuted not because they wanted a holiday in Scotland..............how very sleuth-like and astute. :jedi:
The way he talks about it you could almost think he had just discovered a recipe for scones...........perhaps I am just part of the Holocaust religion though..............so I am terribly biased
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby CapNCrunch » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:21 am

Right. It's MY responsibility to support HIS assertion(through google research) that this guy has gone off the deep end - a result of parsing Madhyamaka teachings w/o the commensurate bodhichitta.

This when I invested 15 minutes of my time reviewing OP's "Exhibit A" to find that it has no bearing whatsoever on his argument.

If he's such an obvious nut-job, then it should be easy to support the assertion that this guy's gone off the deep end with something relevant.

Thank you for taking the time to raise your well thought out point and defend OP.
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby AdmiralJim » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:23 am

The way this guy is is nothing to do with Madhyamaka...........
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby CapNCrunch » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:34 am

I sort of lost respect for him when he said he was part of some Iranian committee



Why does association with Iran make someone immediately unworthy of respect? This is what I find so weird - Iran is somehow the "other", and any involvement with Iranians or an "Iranian committee" is automatically worthy of mistrust and denigration? Studying the Holocaust and trying to make a scholarly addition to the narrative in and of itself indicates that someone is insane and lacking compassion and normal sensibilities?

I'm done b/c I'm not here to defend the guys actions - only to ask where the evidence is to support his supposed madness and lack of any compassion, when there is a disconnect between these assertions and the material provided in support of this idea.
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby AdmiralJim » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:43 am

I didn't say anything about his compassion or anything like that he was elected to an Iranian Holocaust denying committee - I didn't pad out the full context. I think he is an example of what happens when something just becomes academic or scholastic.............not much room for some humility...........I give him credit for researching and changing his mind although he doesn't really apologise for getting it wrong lol he also never added anything to what we already know
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby justsit » Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:49 am

CapNCrunch wrote:Right. It's MY responsibility to support HIS assertion(through google research) that this guy has gone off the deep end - a result of parsing Madhyamaka teachings w/o the commensurate bodhichitta.

This when I invested 15 minutes of my time reviewing OP's "Exhibit A" to find that it has no bearing whatsoever on his argument.

If he's such an obvious nut-job, then it should be easy to support the assertion that this guy's gone off the deep end with something relevant.

Thank you for taking the time to raise your well thought out point and defend OP.

No, it's his responsibility to make his assertion, and your responsibility to refute it, if you so choose.

Sure, OP could have picked different evidence, but if the reader is dissatisfied with his presentation, then s/he can do research and present opposing views.

Nothing personal, CNC.
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Re: This is your brain on Madhyamaka....

Postby padma norbu » Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:55 pm

I watched the video, part 1 of 7, and I didn't really understand what was so obviously insane about it, either. Maybe I missed something by occasionally zoning out or just due to the stilted way of his speech, but it did seem like on odd Exhibit A to back up the idea that he's nuts.
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