Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday thoughts

So I've begun to read The Path To Awakening: How Buddhism's Seven Points of Mind Training Can Lead You to a Life of Enlightenment and Happiness.

There is a 6 page introduction to the teachings of the Buddha. I have not heard the teaching about the various turnings of the wheels. I have heard the teaching the three lakshanas.

In the introduction by Shamar Rinpoche he says he doesn't want his teaching to be secetarian, but then the first paragraph of the explication of the root text he says this is the primary teaching in the Kadam School. I think he can have it both ways, I don't get so caught up on contradictions, I see it more as a dialectic. There is something good about understanding what your tradition really is.

With Buddhism hitting the wide world, with the invasion of Tibet in 1950, culminating in the Dali Lama fleeing in 1959, you get the teachings going into a lot of different cultures, and that process can be like sifting for the gold. With Tibetan Buddhism spreading over the world, other traditions have found the west to be more open. Zen, Theravada and other traditions have seen an opening of receptivity and curiosity in the west. The dirt of culture drops out. Actually, I don't see culture as dirt, but it is important to see what is culture and what dharma transcends culture, and what culture does to the dharma. And dirt is a positive association for me, live rich soil is so important. This whole interplay between culture and dharma is interesting and important.

One of the things in America is that secular mindfulness is about denuding Buddhism of all the various sort of religious aspects. No foreign chanting, no weird drawings, no foreign rituals.

One of my facebook friends noted a study that showed meditation did not help with stress relief as much as therapy and medication. I'm OK with that, because to make meditation into stress relief is not really the Buddha's intention. That might be one of the things that's needed to progress on the spiritual path, and that might just be trying to curb some of the negative aspects of materialism, the idea that life is all about amassing the most possessions possible. People torque themselves up to a high pitch to succeed, and then need a way of winding down, when they realize alcohol or drugs come at a price. You can turn to meditation for that, and that might help, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just not particularly Buddhism, we have to be frank about that. You can use meditation to enhance your materialistic quests for security, housing, exquisite experiences, and status. This is why the military and the business world like secular mindfulness.

Phil Jackson can be the Zen basketball coach, and make millions and millions of dollars. And I am happy for him, and I'm really glad the Knicks are looking into him running the Knicks. But I don't see him as particularly Buddhist, and all the stuff about Zen and him is really overblown. Just like the Zen of Steven Jobs. I'm happy for people to be open to outside influences, but Steven Jobs doesn't really need to be co-opted by Zen to make Zen any better. I don't want Buddhism to become a kind of Scientology where it's really about making it in Hollywood. It's not some in club that is exciting because it's an in club.

People need a lot of metta though. I could use more. My partner was saying that the other day, people just need to try and be a little nicer. She thinks that would make our world a better place. There's nothing wrong with meditation making you nicer to people. Lets just be clear what our intension is. Are we meditating to be nicer so we can make more money or are we just meditating to be nicer. Are we meditating to move towards enlightenment, not matter how far off that might be? In the acceptance verses in the ordination ceremony of the TBC, you accept ordination for the sake of enlightenment. I've heard people disavow enlightenment, it seems to far off, it's said you can't know what it is until you are that. I personally see that as a denial of what the Buddha did as being special, that you can do it, and that it's worth aiming for.

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