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Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

The last thread went well, but it was agreed that it slowed down and was far too weighty in the middle, to revitilize it, it is reborn! Read through the op, ask away with a question, or talk to us about why we are all giant hippies.

A little about the Big guy.
“He who sees me, sees the Dharma, he who sees the Dharma, sees me”(SN 22.87)

Buddhism is a religion and a philosophy based primarily on the teachings (or Dharma) of one man, Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha (The awakened one). According to Literal tradition, the Buddha was born between 7th and 5th centuries BCE to king Suddhodhana somewhere around Nepal. Suddhodhana received a prophecy that his son would either become a great military warlord in the tradition of his father, clan, and caste; or that the Buddha would become a great spiritual leader. Thinking this disgraceful and not a life for a prince, the king decided to shelter the Buddha from all the ills of the world.

Eventually though, the Buddha had to leave the palace, his father ordered the city cleared of all ills that could plague the prince, but was ultimately unable to clear them all. Over the course of three trips a shocked prince was exposed to the suffering of life, and vowed to discover the cure from death and suffering. He left to become a vedic priest and ascetic. While living an extreme life deprived of everything, a life in total suffering, the Buddha heard a musician speak to his son while floating down the river. “If a string is too tight, it will snap, if it is too lax it will not play.” And then inspiration came to the Buddha, he knew that the answer lay not in one or the other, but in balancing both deprivation and indulgence, in walking the middle path. He meditated on this under a bodhi(a type of ficus) tree for some time and found true enlightenment. Siddhartha became the Buddha, and resolved to help others achieve the same as he had.

Schools and Sects; The True Scotsman's Buddhism

Though the Buddha’s teachings are largely the same across all the traditions, there are varieties of interpretations and different addendums onto the basic teachings. Theravada is the most orthodox and traditional of Buddhist traditions, while Mahayana is a word to mean New Schools of Buddhist thought that arose after the early Buddhist councils. Vajrayana is a whole different bag, it is esoteric Buddhism and has many different, often hard to conceptualize features. Zen is Mahayana but throws out a lot of scripture in favour of a more mind and practice oriented approach, Tibetan Buddhism is Vajrayana with many Tibetan traditions.

Theravada- The strictest branch of buddhism. There are very few surviving schools of Theravada; as such it suffices to call the practise in general “Theravada”. Theravada buddhism is a very orthodox buddhism with a stark divide between laity and monks. They have an intense reliance upon scriptural support and study to attain enlightenment, often the focus here is scholastic study, though the Thai forest tradition has emerged as a reaction against this scholasticism by returning to a percieved original state of monastic life. Usually associated with southeast asia and sri lanka, there is a growing movement in the US and Europe of Theravadin groups called the “vipassana” movement, which is a semi-secular insight meditation movement meant to accompany a sectarian Theravada practise.

Mahayana- Meaning “New Vehicle”, Mahayana arose as a new school of thought out of the original orthodox buddhism. Rather than focusing on attaining enlightenment as an arahant (an enlightened one) it posits that the goal should be to become a Bodhisattva(someone who delays final enlightenment until all other beings have been liberated). There are many different schools and philosophical traditions in Mahayana, and it is a very diverse branch of Buddhism, especially when compared to Theravada. The main difference between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism is the presence of the Bodhisattva vow and the encouragement of Laity in participating in practise. Prior to anti-colonial reactions, Theravada Buddhism restricted meditation to monks while lay people concerned themselves with trying to be good people so as to be born again as monks..

Vajrayana- Oh boy. Perhaps the second most popular form of buddhism in the US because of it's association with tibet and the dalai lama, Vajrayana traditions are a very difficult subject to broach. Ostensibly part of the mahayana tradition, vajrayana is usually classified seperately because it is an esoteric faith that delves deep into meditative, ritualistic and obscure teaching and practises. Yep, it requires initiation and a studious master-student kind of relationship. Recommended for literal wizards and sadhu-aspirants.

Zen- By far the most popular form of buddhism in the west, there is some debate as to whether this is a seperate part of buddhism or part of the greater Mahayana Tradition. It arose from a school of Buddhist High Philosophy when bodhidharma, a student of that school, travelled to china and converted the Shaolin Monastery. Also he invented Kung-fu. From the shaolin temple this stripped down highly meditative school of buddhism spread throughout asia and established a number of seed schools each derived from the Chan buddhism taught in the Shaolin Temple. The local japanese growth of this was Zen. Zen still has many mahayana leanings in it's practise, including the bodhisattva vow, but in keeping with it's focus on simplicity has stripped down many teachings and sutras to their bare forms (the zen vows are just four lines!). Most known for koans and so popular it entered into the american lexicon as a word for "going with the flow"

For a basic overview of the differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism look here!

But what IS buddhism?
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts" (DHP 1.1)

This is such a tough and tricky question to handle; Buddhism works like a giant circular chain would. You can pick up one link, and show that off, but it is almost impossible to do without also lifting up other parts of the chain. Likewise it is hard to talk about any one part of buddhism without going all in on the multitude of logical dialectics and philosophical treatises that elaborate on and expand on the plethora of what constitutes buddhism.

But the simplest answer: Buddhism, more appropriately called Buddhadharma, is a religious tradition of thought based on the teachings of the Buddha. It holds that our self-concept propagates conditions that lead to clinging which ultimately creates distress, and that this clinging or desire should be broken down. In doing our best to live the eight steps that the buddha outlined, we can eliminate both trouble-causing wanting and that self-concept: and then experience the world as it is, without subjectivity. The best way to live those eight steps is by practise which develops your mind.

That is the easiest way I can sum up the vast theology and metaphysics of buddhism, and there is still much I want to touch on because they are such powerful and critical concepts- but all buddhist schools and means of thought share the same similar underpinning, the same basic roadmap to enlightenment that the buddha put forward, and that's all you really need to start buddhist practise. So if you are wondering how you get into buddhism, the answer is to look around for local groups to help you out while you pursue your own growth and development- and to recognize the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path as your most critical tools:

The Four Noble Truths
The buddha proposed four statements to illustrate the problem of suffering, these are called the Four Noble truths-
1) Life as we lead it will, one way or another, lead to suffering or uneasiness. This suffering is referred to as Dukkha.
2) Suffering is caused by want and craving. This want often arises from clinging to a falsehood perceived as fact such as selfhood, or that we hold to things we believe cause happiness and fetishize them in a way. Or perhaps even that we want things that are to not be.
3) The end of Dukkha arises when that want and craving ends. By eliminating those falsehoods such as the self, we are able to cease want and then reach a state of Nirvana.
4) Reaching this state arises in following the eightfold path.

The Eightfold Path
The Eightfold path is the path one should strive to follow to end suffering. There are three aspects of the Path: Prajna, or wisdom and the first two aspects, Sila, or Morality and the next three aspects, and Samadhi, or discipline and the final three aspects.

Right Wisdom:
1) Right View- Drsti- To view reality as it is, without imposing judgements on things we perceive.
2) Right intention- Samkalpa- The intention to eliminate suffering and work to the end of attaining enlightenment.

Right Morality:
3) Right speech- Vaca- This is speaking in a manner so as not to be hurtful to others or cause suffering.
4) Right action- Karman- This is acting in a manner so as not to be hurtful to others or cause suffering.
5) Right Livelihood- Ajivana- this is living and practicing a livelihood in a manner so as not to be hurtful to others or cause suffering. This is the hardest to deal with in terms of modern Buddhism, as we are all connected in some way to violence and exploitation. As an example: Use a cellphone? Probably involved exploitation!

Right Discipline
6) Right Effort- Vyayama- This is the answer to ajivana. This is acting upon right Intention, and acting to improve yourself.
7) Right Mindfulness- Smrdi- Being aware of things for what they are. For example, being aware that using a cellphone might connect you to suffering. It is keeping mindful of the ill effects of everything
8) Right Concentration - Samadhi- Meditating and practicing in a regular manner.

Taking Refuge
When one decides to live by the eightfold and become a buddhist, they do what is called "taking refuge". This is a statement and action, similar to Islam's shahadah. It means that one has decided to become a buddhist and states "I will take refuge in the three jewels of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha". In that phrase, to take refuge is to seek shelter from the plights of suffering. They are called Jewels because they are three radiant and immensely valuable things. Taking refuge in the buddha is to look at the buddha as an example of someone who has conquered suffering for inspiration, in dharma is to look at the teachings and philosophy that constitute buddhism as a way of helping you also conquer suffering- showing you the path to conquer it; and the sangha is to recognize those who also seek shelter from the plights of the world with you, and to help them and be helped by them.

Five Precepts
These are five vows taken by those when they take refuge. These expand to more precepts for monks, ranging from the traditional eight precepts, to two hundred and twenty seven precepts! For lay people though, the five are often a helpful guide to right living because they are five things that refraining from doing will help train you for the rigors of buddhist practise. It is important to note that these are not commandments, but should still be taken seriously. To not take them seriously is to not really be serious about attaining enlightenment.

1) I vow to undertake abstinence from taking life
2) I vow to undertake abstinence from taking that which is not mine
3) I vow to undertake abstinence from engaging in sexual misconduct
4) I vow to undertake abstinence from hurtful and false speech
5) I vow to undertake abstinence from intoxication

The first one seems simple at first, don’t kill people. But it expands to ways that get more complicated. It means don’t kill. Obviously killing an animal is different than killing a human, but this is only because when you kill a human, you also kill a mind that might become enlightened. Even by killing an animal, you still take life. Life is life. Try to not to let any of the precepts cause undue suffering for you, You won’t be damned to hell for eons because you had to put down your dog or because you swatted a mosquito. The intention for these actions separates them. It is all about mindfulness.

The second one is fairly clear, don’t steal something. This causes suffering.

The Third one has a storied history. The original sexual misconduct meant not engaging in excessive sex, or sex with a caste of people that included hermaphrodites (but not transgendered) and those born with disabilities. This was entirely because of the culture of the time, and in modern times it’s sort of okay to have sexual relations with someone who was born with a disability as long as you’re not a creep about it. And that’s what it boils down to for laypeople, gay or straight, just conduct yourself appropriately in sexual situations, don’t take advantage of those who cant consent, etc. Yes, it is true that buddhism more explicitly prohibits homosexual relationships: This is because the faith is oriented towards monasticism, and in a monastic life the sexes are seperated, and heterosexuality though equally frowned upon is not as possible. There’s more difficult interpretations about what constitutes misconduct for Monks, but that doesn’t belong in an OP.

The fourth precept is also very difficult. So often we tell little lies, or tell white lies, for a multitude of reasons, many of which are compassionate. But the premise is that a white lie causes suffering too- it misleads someone to something that is false. In situations where frank honesty is also very hurtful for someone, the best resolution is to speak carefully, wisely, and rightly, like Vaca suggests. However for many the more practical solution is the old adage "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"

The fifth Precept warns against intoxication because to willfully imbibe in intoxication for the purposes of fun or recreation etc is almost to tacitly condone a lie to yourself- to deny what is really happening and to deny enlightenment. This just runs counter to what buddhism and is often difficult for people. For many Buddhists abstinence is important for their practise, for others it is less so.

Is there a holy book?
In buddhism, there are important texts, mostly as means of preserving teachings. The critical relationship is not between practitioner and text, but between student and teacher. The most important texts are the massive volume of works known as the Pali Canon. These are arranged by Sutras (or commonly Suttas) and exist originally in pali, a language closely related to what the buddha spoke and consist of suttas that early buddhist councils agreed created the fundamentals of buddhist doctrine. Related to this is the Dhammapada- a collection of verses directly attributable to the buddha. Verses which arose likely as seperate answers to a string of questions and were later codified.

There are many other important texts in the form of sutras, especially for mahayana buddhists which expand and grow infinitely more diverse than theravada buddhists- who are still very reliant upon the pali canon as the be-all-end-all. Schools of thought and different practises will all have their own unique important texts and readings, and can be worthy of study if only to learn about them.

What's with meditation? How do I meditate?
Meditation is actually a part of most religions, though it is often not as overt as it is in Buddhism. The common image of buddhism is that of monks sitting in silence and thinking, mostly because of the extreme importance buddhism places on meditation. There are a few different kinds of meditation, as the term in buddhism refers to an introspective practise, however the most common kinds of meditation are Metta and Insight. A buddhist works to meditate for the same reason an olympic lifter works on the clean and jerk, to strengthen themselves.

The assumption is that most minds are clouded by unwanted thoughts, or by distractions more often than not. Our minds think about this and that, we desire this and that, this and that come to conflict within us. Meditation is a way of cultivating the mind so that when such unwarranted thoughts do arise, we recognize them as just that. Thoughts. Not things with any bearing, not that which can distract us, or cause us to do things. Meditation teaches you to stop thinking about things and to simply be. For perspective try a quick experiment: Sit and don't have any thoughts for five minutes. No thoughts, no judgements, don't think anything. It is very likely that during those five minutes you had at least one thought about something, a judgement about something. The purpose of meditation is to do away with all that and to just be. Or rather, that is a sort of end goal; the purpose is more a way to practise and train the mind towards meeting that goal.

Insight meditation is a common buddhist practise of sitting and not dwelling upon any thoughts, but just keeping your concentration and focus on one thing, usually the breath or a mantra. It is best to learn this with someone else, a group of people or a teacher who can help to show you where you are messing up, and with whom you can discuss things: Still if you want to begin, or are looking to hone your current meditative practise, the best resource is without a doubt Mindfullness in Plain English, by the Ven. Henepola Gunaratana

The other common buddhist practise is Metta, which is best translated as "compassion" or "loving-kindness". Buddhism asserts that people are fundamentally empathic beings, but that the conditions of our being mean that it is often difficult to act on that compassion, or even to realize a compassion for another. The solution, like insight meditation, is to engage in a mental training exercise that encourages us to be compassionate. This exercise is Metta. Simply, you would start by thinking happy thoughts about yourself, then expand that out to dear friends, family, then your enemies, then groups of people you do not like, and finally to the millions of people who suffer in any aspect. You would focus all of your concentration on feeling these happy thoughts for others, and it can leave you feeling emotionally drained or warm and fuzzy, but repeated practise of metta is a form of therapy which will teach you compassion. A more expanded explanation is here.

If you're still looking for tips on how to meditate, or want something more to give you a guided practise, here is a good online six-week course on meditation: http://www.audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1762/

Is Buddhism a religion/Atheism and buddhism
""We do not know what God is. God Himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being."" (Johannes Eriugena, on Pseudo-Dionysius)

This is also a really complicated question: The simplest answer is that such things are not important- Learn buddhadharma and practise it to free yourself of suffering, it matters not what else you do or how you think, as long as it is conducive to practising buddhadharma.

If that's fine for you, and you want to skip to atheism and buddhism, go ahead! The following is a bunch of about buddhism as a religion that may be offputting for some, or encouraging for others.

However, this is still something important to consider. Buddhism is very much so a religion, rather than a simple philosophy. There are many great secular purposes that can be derived from buddhism- Psychology for example has recently found a ton of copacetic values within much of buddhist practise, or is arriving at what buddhism has been doing for centuries. Still, buddhism requires a good bit of practise and study, and it is more than a philosophy because it fulfills a spiritual role, soteriology and supernatural concepts aside buddhism is a praxis by which we arrive at abnegation of ego-differentiated self. It is a vehicle for mystic experiences as any long-term buddhist practioner will assure you. The great trouble here is what has been the biggest weakness of buddhism- It is a monastic faith at it's heart. This means that among the laity a sort of "low" religion has emerged- You do things that make a good buddhist just because that's what you do. You give food to monks and lamas, you say a few prayers, and that's that. But these trappings and material clingings all have a purpose as a means of engaging the mind in certain activities. Take the tibetan prayer wheel for instance: On the surface you turn it and that gives you good merit, which means a better birth. But deeper than that, the wheel is a praxis by which you engage in the mental experience of having prayed without the activity of prayer, it is useful for not only illustrating the divide between participation and agency, but as well encourages that ego-death state by means of a tacit participation in compassion practise.

The faith is built entirely around the idea that all that we percieve, and experience is mediated, often greatly, by language and learned or assumed concepts that have become a deep part of out intellectual processes: Cognition and Emotion. The mystic attainment in buddhism is that which allows one to enter a psychological state of consciousness capable of affording participation in an unmediated world. The mediated world, it is argued, leads to cognitive and emotive processes that are not ultimately desireable reactions to the stimuli of the world. The question of these religious trappings in relation to attaining this psychological ego-death is that many of means we might use to reach this unmediated state are forms and methods that are themselves mediators of the world. The low religious, or lay, application of this high religious pursuit becomes the application of those means which are ding-fur-sich: sometimes linguistic means like koan, sometimes cognitive ablations like mantra recitation, sometimes tactile methods of conditioning such as mala. It is generally acknowledge that the most efficient vehicle for attaining this kind of ego-death in any permanence is still that of meditation- the conditioning of the mind to guide it towards conditioning ego-death as a default measure to ensure a finality in the assumption of that mental-psychological state. However those means which function as ding-fur-sich do so and are done with the understanding that their practise and encouragement conditions the end-goal of nonmediated participation. Often buddhism avoids this kind of deep analytical discourse because it is not usually itself one of those means which encourages those conditions, being a linguistic and conceptual construction of dialectic that is reliant upon the assumption of those learned concepts that lead to mediated, rather than unmediated, participation. The dialectic becomes that which reifies mediative-mind.

This is why you so often see mysticism in buddhism relegated to the esoteric, requiring initiation. Even so, there is an encouragement, through meditative practises and through many aspects of mahayana or post-mahayana buddhist thinking which afford, divorced again from the supernatural, that egoistic abnegation before the totality of all-that-is-as-it-is. It is the fact that buddhism strives for this spiritual participation among it's followers that so poignantly makes it a religion, NOT any theistic trappings.

The appeal for many, and the reason many avoid calling it a faith, is because they see buddhism as a non-theistic belief system, and this is a little disingenuous. Buddhism is not non-theistic, rather it is apophatic. In lieu of discarding celestial entities or shifting focus away from them, buddhism approaches them as an accepting mind- if enlightenment is that which cannot be understood, and by definition cannot be reified by assumption of position on matters, then the determining of these aspects of religion as aspects of spiritual becomes defined by the negative. Buddhism is not non-theistic just because it has no deities, rather it asks and defines it's soteriological pursuit by the measure of what it does not include, or is not. This becomes that method of encouraging dialectic and questioning for those that seek it, without reifying itself upon these linguistically dependent concepts.


Now. Atheism.
Buddhism is wholeheartedly a faith. It reeks of a post-colonial western chauvanism to suggest that the intention of it is as a philosophical structure by which good is done and humanity is bettered, while simultaneously rejecting the very vehicles of the system's goals. Or even to dismiss the entire soteriology that those goals are dependent on as nothing more than a misguided superstition taught to ignorant masses by an enlightened master. I have much I could say about atheism in the west, but I will suffice myself to say that this kind of atheistic approach to buddhism is reliant upon abrahamic theological and philosophical concepts to define itself, and that kind of cultural remnant only debases an approach to buddhadharma.

That said- Buddhism is a religion that an atheist can very easily approach- it does not necessitate a belief in divine entities- as a religion most of the concepts that are assumed to be supernatural are rooted in empiricism and logic. Early buddhism is very easily characterised by the development of logical discourse and argumentation. This focus on differentiating the objective (noumenal) from the subjective (phenomenal) is called phenomenology, and buddhism has been greatly devoted to that.

Additionally there has long been a strong concept in post-mahayana thought known as upaya, or expedient means. Essentially upaya means that if it is something which helps you reach the end-goal of liberative wisdom, even though it cannot serve as a means of reaching that itself, it is generally okay to practise. So don't worry about not believing in dieties or not really thinking about rebirth.

You should though, think long and hard, and consider why rebirth is so antithetical to an atheist viewpoint- why do most atheists hold an abrahamic conception of life as ceasing upon the cessation of physical activities? There is no soul, so why the insistence that oblivion is the result of that ego-state passing, and what about when that ego-state passes but the physical form persists? What happens to the matter of that body, etc etc.

Karma and Reincarnation
For many people, this is a difficult part of the doctrine to accept or deal with. Many western buddhists will suggest a disbelief in supernatural things, or that one takes what is important from buddhism but disregard supernatural aspects such as karma or rebirth. Others will disavow a supernatural point of origin for this and suggest a metaphorical interpretation, some even going as far to suggest that the buddha talked down to those he spoke to in order to convey these metaphoric ideas. Why does this occur so much in western buddhism, and less so in “eastern” buddhism? In regions of the world traditionally subscribing to buddhist, hindu, or folk religious practices, the ideas of the supernatural expressed in buddhism are commonplace, a facet of every day life, similar to how heaven is for many in the west a common trope as an extension of our culture.

Now, why does this occur so much in western buddhism? As a newcomer among the western cultural sphere Buddhism is built largely on a convert base; ethnic buddhists notwithstanding. This means that most buddhists in the west are converting to it from a background of christianity or secular rationalism, which do not lend themselves well to rebirth as a concept. However, there is a clear sort of cognitive dissonance in rationalizing rebirth or in dismissing it as superstition, because rebirth forms much of the underpinning drive for what the Buddha taught. When you read the early buddhist texts like the nikayas or the agamas you will notice there is an overwhelming acknowledgement and referencing of rebirth. The simple assumption that death is a final permanent state is one that is repeatedly attacked as wrong view, as being uchcedavada or anihilationist. There's extensive countering of annihilationist ideology within the oldest Buddhist texts, and this isn't a new argument that I'm presenting.

Even assuming that the discarding of these things is not in line with anihhilationist thinking becomes an act of supreme dissonance when the views attacked state thusly:"Great king, there is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves. . . At death, the earth (in the body) returns to and merges with the (external) earth-substance. . . With the break-up of the body, the wise and the foolish alike are annihilated, destroyed. They do not exist after death."

This is, however, very unsettling for practitioners, and may turn them away from pursuing the buddhadharma- It can be a form of upaya, mentioned earlier, to not dwell on this, or to begin by approaching it's most simple aspect- The moment to moment becoming of changing with every thought or new action. Defining yourself by your thoughts means that there is also a tacit definition that as thoughts cease or fade, so to does that experiential self fade.

It is also important, perhaps critical to point out that the buddha equally attacked those who held the view of an eternal soul that migrates across bodies and forms. Rebirth is not a reincarnation, because to have an essential essence or self goes against some of the most fundamental aspects of buddhist teaching. Rebirth is a continuation of life past the death of a body, but at the time is not an assertion of a supernatural soul that continues past the physical death of a body. The basic teaching is that birth is facilitated by dependent co-arising. "When X arises, Y arises; when X ceases, Y ceases." Birth is conditioned upon clinging, because birth arises from becoming, which arises from clinging. Life continues, so when a material death approaches, one who is still experiencing this co-arising will have that life continue to experience co-arising after the dissolution of one physical form. A succinct summary of this in the canon is via the Upadana Sutta.

Karma is part of what governs rebirth. Simply put the Karmic Law is a buddhist explanation of causality: For consequences, there is an action that originates it. More expanded, for every action we take, there is an appropriate consequence. If it is an action which leads away from suffering, it will lead to a consequence which in turn leads away from suffering. It does not mean that good things happen only to good people, simply that a person who is leading a karmically "good", will lead a comparatively better life than if he were taking actions that were karmically "bad". This is important to buddhism, because we are constantly taking actions to reinforce the ego (the self), which in turn causes suffering or want. Or for a more detailed explaination, see here



So what now?
You come and ask questions! To ask is to learn, to learn is to understand


Some additional things:

Web Resources on Buddhism:
(Submissions Welcome)

http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Main_Page
http://www.buddhanet.net/
http://www.khandro.net/index.htm
http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Main_Page
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/index.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/
The Dalai Lama on stress and depression
Ajahn Brahm on Depression
Ajahn Brahm on Dealing with Fear
Find a local group of buddhists
Mahamudra for the Modern World - Reggie Ray


Audio Resources:
(Submissions Welcome)
Audio Dharma - http://www.audiodharma.org/
Buddhanet - http://www.buddhanet.net/audio.htm
Ken McLeod - http://www.unfetteredmind.com/
Joseph Goldstein at Dharmaseed - http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/
The Buddhist Channel - http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?index
Dharma Downloads - http://www.dharmadownload.net/pages...load_Natsok.htm
Access to Insight - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/outsources/audio.html
Buddhist Geeks - http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/
Urban Dharma - http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma9/dharmatalks.html
Dependent Origination in Buddhism and Science by Alan Wallace http://www.archive.org/details/B_Al...ent_Origination
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche on meditation - http://www.chronicleproject.com/CTR...meditation.html
Sounds True - http://soundstrue.com
Dhammatalks - http://dhammatalks.org/

Introductory Books

General Buddhism
"Touching Enlightenment with the Body" - Reggie Ray
"The Posture of Meditation" - Will Johnson
"Mindfulness in Plain English" - Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, Available here: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html
"Buddhism Plain and Simple" - Steve Hagen
"Buddhism For Beginners" Thubten Chodron
"The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation" Thich Nhat Hanh
"How to Meditate: A Practical Guide" - Kathleen McDonald
"Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" - Daniel Ingram (also available for free: here)
"How To Practice" - HH Dalai Lama
"Buddhism for Dummies" - by Jonathan Landaw, Stephan Bodian, Gudrun Buhnemann
"What Makes You Not a Buddhist" by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

Vajrayana Buddhism
"Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" - Sogyal Rinpoche
"The Crystal and the Way of Light" - Chogyal Namkhai Norbu
"Secrets of the Vajra World" and "Indestructible Truth"- Reginald Ray
"The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep" - Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
"Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior" - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
"Carefree Dignity" - Tsoknyi Rinpoche
"As It Is" volumes 1 and 2 - Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
"Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
The Myth of Freedom - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
One City - A Declaration of Interdependence - Ethan Nichtern

Mahayana Buddhism
"Cave in the Snow: Tenzin Palmo's Quest for Enlightenment" by Vicki Mackenzie
"Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" - Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
"Zen Buddhism" By D.T. Suzuki
"The wisdom of Insecurity" Alan Watts"
"The Way of the Bodhisattva" by Shantideva
"The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti" by Vimalakirti and Robert A. F. Thurman
"Buddha Nature: The Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra With Commentary" by Arya Maitreya and Rosemarie Fuchs

Academic Buddhism
"Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction" by Paul Williams
"Early Buddhist Discourses" by John J. Holder
"The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika" By Jay L. Garfield
"Living Yogacara" by Tagawa Shun'ei

2013 lunar holidays!
Febuary 25- Magha Puja
March 26- Avalokitesvara's Birthday
May 24- Vesak
May 25 - Saga Dewa
July 22- Asalha Puja
August 21- Ulambana
October 19- Pavarana
October 19 through November 17 - Kathina
November 17- Anapanasati
December 8- Bodhi Day

Quantumfate fucked around with this message at Dec 13, 2013 around 10:01

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Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

So what kind of buddhism do you practice?
I practice Mahayana Buddhism, though I practice a lot of mystic approaches. I am very drawn to a lot of academic and philosophic buddhism, which means I read a lot of sutras and that I follow a yogacara tradition. Yogacara is one of two deeply meditative (yogic) schools of Mahayana thinking, the other being Madhyamaka. As for what that entails, think in terms of the platonic allegory of the cave, though it isn't an exact fit. The world has an objective state in its material properties, but our mind is the only thing that is ultimately real within our percieved reality.

Were you always buddhist?
No, I was raised christian, though loosely. I had my falling outs with that faith which resulted in my present apostasy. However, while I was busy telling people to "deal with it" I discovered more and more religions. Baha'i, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Islam. I devoured the books hungrily, and I was shown some of buddhism's tenets. I was pretty offput by it though, because I was in a sort of atheist phase, and reluctant to consider much that was a religion as applying to me. I never really delved as deep into it as I should and relegated a lot of it to superstition or just being good. I'm not sure young me could even really tell you what buddhism was. Later on I was shown the dhammapada, and had a chance to learn about meditation, the goals of buddhism, more on bodhidharma, on vasubandhu and asanga etc. The academic nature of buddhism and these teachings and texts solidified my interest in the subject. From there, I found that what had been my world-view all along now had words that could be put to it. I swallowed my pride and took refuge, got a dharma name, and I've been pretty content with that decision since.

Do you worship any gods? Are you a pagan crystal theosophist witch?

"Proclaim the utmost mantra, the supreme mantra, the mantra which is true and not false, the mantra which says: I am gone, gone, beyond gone, absolutely gone. Behold, the awakened"
(Hridayaprajnaparamita Sutra)

I live on the west coast of the US, in the general cultural sphere of north california. New age stuff is kind of a thing, by extension, and a lot of people get the two confused. Personally I do not worship any gods or follow a lot of alternative medicine. I do think that there is vast amount to be gained from a lot of buddhist phenomenology and practices that can made secular and apply to many of the stresses and upsets that so many people unfortunately suffer. I'm not sure if that's alternative medicine though, as psychology is applying a fair bit of that to its own prescriptions these days.

As for gods? Not really, and not quite as what can be called conventional literacy. In Mahayana (and by extension vajrayana, zen, pure land) there is the concept of the bodhisattva (or bodhicitta)- beings who have attained enlightenment but vow to forego final liberation until all beings may be helped to attain enlightenment. In buddhism the concept is similar to a christian saint- and many aspirants take vows to become bodhisattvas. While each region and school and tradition and even monastery may have their own host of bodhisattvas; there are eight bodhisattvas usually recognized across cultures and schools, these are eight celestial beings called “Mahasattvas” or the Great Sattvas. Though very important and powerful as a concept in many schools of buddhism, this is not a requisite part of the faith. For myself, I tend to fall in line with the orthodoxy here and acknowledge them, they aren't gods, and don't have any sway or control over my fate, my life or my death. But they are there to help me out when I'm struggling! For reference's sake, and as a resource for many newcomers, here's a good overview:

Avalokitesvara is the bodhisattva of compassion, who has pledged to help all beings attain by means of compassionate kindness. By far the most popular of the Mahasattvas, Avalokitesvara is not necessarily the greatest. Avalokitesara has many different incarnations and forms, across all genders, and is usually understood to be genderless by compassionate desires to help all. He is especially important to tibetans who venerate him as Chenrezig, and who see the Dalai Lama as a manifestation of Chenrezig. My personal favourite representation of avalokitesvara is the thousand-armed bodhisattva; in trying to help all beings who are suffering, avalokitesvara's head and arms shatter, but because of his great compassion to keep helping all beings has those pieces become eleven faces and a thousand arms to see, hear, and assist all beings with problems- a good story about helping others!
Mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum

Manjushri is the Bodhisattva of supreme wisdom, whose realization of the greatest wisdom often puts him at odd expressing that wisdom to others. He has vowed to help others by destroying all ignorance. He is depicted with a flaming diamond sword in the right hand which shows wisdom cutting through all obstacles and a lotus in the left. Lotuses tend to represent sutras, and for Manjusri this is the prajnaparamita (transcendent wisdom) sutra and also shows his own attainment as blooming from a seed of wisdom. My favourite representation of Manjusri is in the Vimalakirti sutra where the eponymous lay practitioner out-debated the Bodhisattva of wisdom who is shown as too wise for his own good. (Vimalakirti becomes a Bodhisattva by his own right)
Mantra: Om ara pa ca na dhi

Ksitigarbha is the Bodhisattva of instruction, hell and children. He has vowed to help all being be instructed in how to help themselves from the death of the Buddha until the Maitreya becomes a buddha. Additionally he has vowed to help all beings end all hellish suffering, and is sometimes known as the hell bodhisattva. As an instructor by nature, Ksitigarbha is a special patron to all children, who are beings in constant search of instruction. Usually depicted as a bald monk holding a staff and a rosary.
Mantra: Om Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva ya

Samantabhadra is the bodhisattva of practise. He is the patron of one of the more important sutras: the lotus sutra, and the bodhisattva who orchestrated the ten great vows of Bodhisattvas. His is the realm of action and putting wisdom and knowledge into practise, and has vowed to help all beings in their practise. His main teaching is that there is no value in wisdom unless put into practise. He is depicted as a many-faced being riding a white elephant with six tusks and holding a lotus parasol which represents the Lotus Sutra.
Mantra: Om Samyats tvam

Maitreya is a special bodhisattva. He is understood as a being who has vowed to learn and understand the pure dharma, and to be reborn as a human when the dharma of the Buddha is forgotten by humanity. When this happens, he will be born and come into full enlightenment, spreading again the pure dctrine of the faith. Until then he helps all beings who seek to reach enlightenment without corruption. The specialness of Maitreya is in the many, many movements and cults that have co-opted his messianic-like status for their own and often violent or wrong ends.
Mantra: Om Maitri Mahamaitri Maitriye Svaha

Akasagarbha is the esoteric bodhisattva of Akasha, which is probably best translated as spirit, void and space. He is a bodhisattva of wisdom and of emptiness, and is the bodhisattva of the void store. He is often associated with yogic practises to hone the body for enlightenment, and unfortunately not much is known or capable of being made available to the public because of his esoteric status.
Mantra: Namo akasagarbhaya om arya kamauri mauli Svaha

Mahasthamaprapta is the bodhisattva of powerful wisdom and the coming of great strength. He is the bodhisattva who attained enlightenment by esoteric means of recitation. He is also the bodhisattva who emanates as Vajrapani, a herculean celestial figure that he is better known as. Vajrapani often uses his terrifying power to defend the doctrine and as a means of helping others.
Mantra: Om jam jam sam svaha (As vajrapani: Om vajrapani hum pat)

Sarvanivarana-Vishkambin is the Bodhisattva of meditation. He has vowed to help all meditators in overcoming the five mental distractions: Hostility, Laziness, Doubt, Distraction and worry, Desire. Interestingly he is one of the earlier bodhisattvas, as the Nivarana in his name refers to the five mental distractions and occurs mostly in theravada traditions rather than Mahayana. He is not usually venerated as much as he is known to those who practise deep meditation.
Mantra: Nama samantabuddhanam! Ah! Sattva Hitabyudgata Tram Tram! Ram Ram! Svaha!

Additionally I'd like to point out a bodhisattva that I feel deserves special attention: Tara. She is a bodhisattva who has vowed to help all women attain enlightenment. It has unfortunately been the view that being born a woman is a less meritous birth than being a man (usually because women have held second-class roles in relation to men, and therefore have been a less lucky birth). She was a great being who learnt much in the way of wisdom from an enlightened being, but other monks had told her that she should strive to be born as a man to attain that enlightenment. Upset at this, she strove, worked hard, and attained enlightenment as a woman, vowing to help all women do as she did without trying to become a man instead.
Mantra: Om tare tuttare ture svaha!

What about other goons? Are there other goon practitioners?
Certainly! We post a lot and talk about buddhist things, a number of us have even speculated about an informal internet practise group.

If you want to be included here, please let me know how you'd like to be listed and I'll update it!


Brain Dance - Buddhist leanings, Taoist Leanings.
Frobert Blamble - undeclared
Mcustic - Undeclared
Miss Fats - Undeclared
Reene - Undeclared
Wafflehound - Yogacara
Quantumfate - Yogacara
Paramemetic - Drikung Kagyupa
ToxicSlurpee - general
Ugrok – Zen
Edged Hymn - Zen
North of Graviy - Zen
Shnooks - Zen
Mad Wack - Vipassana
Sir Azrael – Jodo Shinshu
Cumshot in the Dark - Soto Zen

Quantumfate fucked around with this message at Feb 20, 2014 around 00:54

WAFFLEHOUND
Apr 26, 2007

A DOG THAT FUCKING LOVES WAFFLES

Yet another second post reminder that the fat guy isn't Buddha.

≠ Buddha

North of Gravity
Jun 30, 2007

did y0u pr0gram this r0b0t t0 have feelings f0r y0u?
R0MANTIC FEELINGS???

D --> Is that not ok

I lurked in the last thread a bit, but was too shy to say anything. You guys definitely helped me learn more about Buddhism, though!

I've been attending a Korean Zen Buddhist temple in my area for almost two years now, and I'm studying to take my precepts this summer. Buddhism has profoundly changed the way that I interact with the world around me, and I look forward to fully committing myself to the practice with the upcoming precept ceremony.

CivilDisobedience
Dec 27, 2008


Want to help others? Learn to listen. Want to help yourself? Discover warm-heartedness. Buddhism is essentially just common sense with some ritual thrown in for mystique.

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006



I've been approached by a few people associated with SGI Buddhism. Is there any sort of consensus about them?

Edged Hymn
Feb 4, 2009

by Y Kant Ozma Post


Great OP. Been practicing Zen on and off past few years, and even with my shoddy discipline the rewards have been incredible.

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

RandomPauI posted:

I've been approached by a few people associated with SGI Buddhism. Is there any sort of consensus about them?

They're a cult.

To be more specific, requires a little explanation. They're not exactly a cult, more like a buddhist version of sun myung moon's christian church. It's more apt to say they are a new religious movement with a lot of controversial methods and strong "encouragement" of financial and material donation that is inspired by a buddhist movement. They focus pretty heavily on one sutra, the lotus sutra, and don't teach a lot of the commentary and necessary materials to go with it. They don't have a proper ritual observance to qualify as the buddhism they draw from, which is nichiren buddhism, a rather devoted sect of pure-land buddhism that actually calls all other schools of buddhism corrupt and wrong and was partially responsible for instigating some of the most militant and violent revolutions in japanese history.

What it comes down to though is whether you would gain any benefit from keeping aware of yourself and learning to seperate the lay buddhist practises from the new religious movement practises, they can show you the fundamentals of meditation and buddhism, but with a large caveat. I also feel like I need to say that soka gokkai is a large charity organization, then again so is scientology.

North of Gravity posted:

I lurked in the last thread a bit, but was too shy to say anything. You guys definitely helped me learn more about Buddhism, though!

I've been attending a Korean Zen Buddhist temple in my area for almost two years now, and I'm studying to take my precepts this summer. Buddhism has profoundly changed the way that I interact with the world around me, and I look forward to fully committing myself to the practice with the upcoming precept ceremony.

I am glad that you posted then, please feel free to jump in! we need more people to keep a lively discussion going.

CivilDisobedience posted:

Want to help others? Learn to listen. Want to help yourself? Discover warm-heartedness. Buddhism is essentially just common sense with some ritual thrown in for mystique.

Weeellll. . . Yes and no.

No because the "ritual" is not included just for mystique, it has a critical and very important role in the system, especially as regards breaking down the psychological construct that is the ego.

Yes, because for the most part sramana(and consequently buddhism) is based strongly on debate, argumentation, and logical discourse. The faith has a strong reliance on empricism for many aspects of it's phenomenonological suggests. The secular method you suggest can lead to immense suffering, taken as is.

Mecca-Benghazi
Mar 31, 2012



Lurked the last thread for a bit. I'm ethnically Vietnamese and can offer perspective on Mahayana Buddhism as practiced by non-converts I suppose, although I'm not really familiar with any non-Vietnamese names for anything.

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

Do you still engage in practise? When you grew up, how much "high" buddhism did you encounter vs just following lay rituals?

Plus_Infinity
Apr 12, 2011



I was raised as a Buddhist too, but by western convert parents who were students of Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche. I didn't start practicing regularly until a year ago (I turn 30 this year) but always felt as though being raised Buddhist strongly shaped who I am today. Because my parents are Vajrayana students and were pretty dedicated when I was a kid, I saw them doing a lot of the more esoteric practices but they couldn't really talk to me about most of them, beyond "we're doing some visualizations".

I did learn to sit from an early age and having a solid foundation in basic sitting practice I think has really helped me with some of the more subtle techniques that my teacher has me working on at the moment. I can't imagine Buddhism not being part f my every day life- even when I wasn't sitting every day my perspective always seemed pretty different to other people because of the way I was raised.

Shnooks
Mar 24, 2007

I'm being born!


Not to be a stickler about it, but I actually practice Zen under the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

I went out and bought Bhikkhu Bodhi's book "In the Buddha's Words" and try to read a bit of it every night along with all of the books I have by Thay. I'm starting to try to meditate every day, too. I really need to create a place in my home where I want to meditate and buy a bell or something. I love the little singing bells we use.

I know it's kind of weird to say, but I really want to devote myself to this. Buddhism has kind of opened a whole new world for me and has allowed me to meet such interesting people, so I'm trying to be a regular practitioner.

Shnooks fucked around with this message at May 10, 2013 around 01:39

The-Mole
Aug 5, 2003

Don't tempt fate
Fate isn't real, of course.
But she can be tempted to become real for a few seconds.
And that's all it takes.


Schnooks, when I was your age, I ran into Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace is Every Step and to this day it is probably the best book I've ever come across about integrating mindfulness into all aspects of one's life.

If you haven't already, it is probably worth checking out.

Also, it's probably worth figuring out what kind of devotion feels sustainable and balanced. Treasure the road, not the destination, and all that. There's no rush whatsoever, Buddhism definitely isn't going anywhere.

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

The-Mole posted:

Schnooks, when I was your age, I ran into Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace is Every Step and to this day it is probably the best book I've ever come across about integrating mindfulness into all aspects of one's life.

If you haven't already, it is probably worth checking out.

Also, it's probably worth figuring out what kind of devotion feels sustainable and balanced. Treasure the road, not the destination, and all that. There's no rush whatsoever, Buddhism definitely isn't going anywhere.

This is such good advice and warms the cockles of my heart, same with plus infinity. This is the kind of stuff that's good to see. Plus Infinity, do you still practice? Also, sorry shnooks, you mentioned wanting to be in the OP, but all you said about what you practiced was that you were doing vipassana.

Plus_Infinity
Apr 12, 2011



Quantumfate posted:

This is such good advice and warms the cockles of my heart, same with plus infinity. This is the kind of stuff that's good to see. Plus Infinity, do you still practice? Also, sorry shnooks, you mentioned wanting to be in the OP, but all you said about what you practiced was that you were doing vipassana.

Yep, I sit every morning and am part of a small Shambhala sangha. I'm taking it slow as my parents are pretty hardcore (my mother has been on semi retreat alone on the side of a Welsh mountain for 10 years) and I'm not sure that's the life for me. But I am enjoying daily practice and as it was just said, Buddhism isn't going anywhere and it's not a race to acquire all knowledge immediately. I think it's best to figure out where it fits for me personally and go from there. My boyfriend (he1ixx) has been supportive and enthusiastic and has been enjoying reading about this more than me, so he helps too! We've just been learning some new meditation techniques from our teacher that have totally changed my assumptions and experience with meditation which is also pretty great.

Warsteiner
Jan 14, 2006



Plus_Infinity posted:

I was raised as a Buddhist too, but by western convert parents who were students of Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche. I didn't start practicing regularly until a year ago (I turn 30 this year) but always felt as though being raised Buddhist strongly shaped who I am today. Because my parents are Vajrayana students and were pretty dedicated when I was a kid, I saw them doing a lot of the more esoteric practices but they couldn't really talk to me about most of them, beyond "we're doing some visualizations".

I'm really curious to know why that is.

Incarnate Dao
Dec 2, 2012

Namo Yesu

Warsteiner posted:

I'm really curious to know why that is.

Infinity I hope you don't mind me chiming in:

The reason this is the case is because Vajrayana Buddhism practices esoteric ritual. That means that unless you have been initiated into the tradition and into that particular technique/meditation by a master you cannot be taught it. So her parents had been initiated into the practice so they could do it, but since she was not herparents were not allowed to reveal the secrets. Part of the reason for this is that it is believed that if one is exposed to secret practices before they are ready the practices will either be harmful or unhelpful. The system through which the initiate passes is meant to guide the initiate in a way that will lead to awakening.

EDIT: Because I am silly and presumed gender.

Incarnate Dao fucked around with this message at May 10, 2013 around 13:50

Plus_Infinity
Apr 12, 2011



Incarnate Dao posted:

Infinity I hope you don't mind me chiming in:

The reason this is the case is because Vajrayana Buddhism practices esoteric ritual. That means that unless you have been initiated into the tradition and into that particular technique/meditation by a master you cannot be taught it. So his parents had been initiated into the practice so they could do it, but since he was not his parents were not allowed to reveal the secrets. Part of the reason for this is that it is believed that if one is exposed to secret practices before they are ready the practices will either be harmful or unhelpful. The system through which the initiate passes is meant to guide the initiate in a way that will lead to awakening.

Yep, this is correct, except I'm a woman

Incarnate Dao
Dec 2, 2012

Namo Yesu

Plus_Infinity posted:

Yep, this is correct, except I'm a woman

My bad! Sorry about that, I'll edit that now.

Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003

A gift from Coyote! Nothing could possibly go wrong here!


A lot of the Vajrayana practices are considered dangerous or unhelpful for people who are uninitiated for a variety of reasons, that's true, and beyond that "some visualizations" is probably as accurate an answer as one would want if they didn't know what was up.

My Lama explains the three vehicles as such. The Theravada/Hinayana vehicle is like a good car. It is reliable, but only maybe one person can fit in there. It takes a long time to get where you're going, but you can be pretty confident you'll get there. But when you do, maybe you're the only one there. Mahayana is like a bus. It's reliable as well, but everyone else can fit on there. It's also pretty slow, but again, you can be confident you'll get there.

Vajrayana is like an airplane. It might get you there really really fast, and it's pretty safe, but if you screw it up, it might crash and you'll be in some big trouble then. Or maybe you'll turn it around and go in the opposite direction. It's a lot harder to fly, but on the other hand, it'll get you there maybe even in one lifetime.

When asked the capacity of the airplane, he replied "infinite."

Basically Vajrayana uses a lot of techniques to help obtain liberation but some of those are potentially very harmful. For example, if I self-identify as a wrathful deity and I'm not ready for that, maybe I'll become very angry. If I start practicing wind channel bindu or other advanced yogas without having attained tummo, then maybe I'll not do anything, or maybe I'll cause illness. Even if I practice compassion through a Chenrezig sadhana, I could potentially bring about harm or distress, because when practicing compassion it is not uncommon to become extremely sad from all the suffering of sentient beings.

So yeah it's not so much that it is secret because of some kind of "we have the real secrets of enlightenment " but more because it is sincerely believed that if you're not ready it could cause some harm to be exposed to Tantric practices. It can also cause a lot of confusion because some of the practices become superficially self-contradictory, and if you haven't attained the first lesson then the next might not make sense.

Buried alive
Jun 8, 2009


There was mention in the OP about psychology starting to discover things that lined up with the teachings of Buddhism. Can you go into more detail about what exactly those things are?

Tonsured
Jan 13, 2005

I came across mention of a Gnostic codex called The Unreal God and the Aspects of His Nonexistent Universe, an idea which reduced me to helpless laughter. What kind of person would write about something that he knows doesn't exist, and how can something that doesn't exist have aspects?

Is there a palpable difference, in your experience, between meditating in isolation versus a group/community setting.

Plus_Infinity
Apr 12, 2011



Tonsured posted:

Is there a palpable difference, in your experience, between meditating in isolation versus a group/community setting.

Yes! Absolutely! Most of the really great experiences that I've had with meditation have been during day-long or extended sessions with a group. It gets me "in the zone" a lot more easily and is very motivating.

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

Buried alive posted:

There was mention in the OP about psychology starting to discover things that lined up with the teachings of Buddhism. Can you go into more detail about what exactly those things are?

I can find some articles on that if you really want; but mostly I'm referring to the recent surge in rational-emotive or cognitive behavioural therapy. Although on my campus the psychology department was advertising finals stress management techniques; and handing out "worry bracelets" that looked, and functioned, suspisciously like malas. You were supposed to run your hands over the beads and count them one at a time if you felt stressed



Consider that buddhism has been a philosophical religion for thousands of years; monks encouraging in deep introspection and arguments with one another about the nature of a soul-less mind and consciousness. Psychological developments emerge from this. Modern psychology has found that mindfulness meditation and something like metta meditation is enormously helpful for those who suffer from stress, anxiety, depression and other similar issues.

As well, the buddhist model of the mind and the origination of negative is similar to the one many therapists and psychologists are developing- There is no occasional thought: Negative thoughts predicate themselves without needing external factors. There is an order to phenomenon that occur.

With regards to metta: focusing on loving-kindness feelings in a secular matter can help you feel better.

Though there's something to be said from a buddhist perspective of being highly critical of romantic adoptions of the dharma with regards to how they can close the doors on further dharma practise

Tonsured posted:

Is there a palpable difference, in your experience, between meditating in isolation versus a group/community setting.

Group meditation is always great to correct your form or address worries. it's also nice to do it with other people because group activities play on that natural sense of togetherness that humans have. As part of a group, you will try to do what the group does, so group meditation can help trick your mind into working itself. This is what I find supremely useful and enjoyable, making a noted difference.

For isolated meditation, however, I find I get the best results. I'm able to experience the Dhyanas when I'm alone, that I can better dissolve the ego or temporarily abolish any desires I have. I really recommend meditating outside if you're doing it alone: the thai theravadans have something right here; it's a powerful experience.

Quantumfate fucked around with this message at May 10, 2013 around 20:29

Secret Sweater
Oct 17, 2005
dup

This is a bit verbose, you can read the last question if you'd like but I wanted to put down some of my thought process. I've been struggling lately with the definition of consciousness. Consciousness that is it brought about as response to the stimuli of vision, sound, taste, smell and touch are fine, but the mind sense eludes me.

I can create a memory in my mind and my body responds to it. But what is the 'flame' that generates a reaction in the mind? I read a bit on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manas-vijnana to see if it had a explanation of it, but it got me nowhere.

quote:

When an object is presented before the eye, it is perceived and judged as a red apple or a piece of white linen; the faculty of doing this is called eye-vijñāna. In the same way, there are ear-vijñāna for sound, nose-vijñāna for odour, tongue-vijñāna for taste, body-vijñāna for touch, and thought-vijñāna (manovijñāna) for ideas—altogether six forms of Vijñāna for distinguishing the various aspects of world external or internal.
The example preceding the list is of the most basic and does not translate to manovijnana to me. What is the red apple for thought-vijnana to react to? All of the other senses are reactionary, the mind is something that I can control and will.

quote:

Viññāṇa refers to awareness through a specific internal sense base, that is, through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind. Thus, there are six sense-specific types of Viññāṇa. It is also the basis for personal continuity within and across lives.

Manas refers to mental "actions" (kamma), as opposed to those actions that are physical or verbal. It is also the sixth internal sense base (ayatana), that is, the "mind base," cognizing mental sensa (dhammā) as well as sensory information from the physical sense bases.

Citta includes the formation of thought, emotion and volition; this is thus the subject of Buddhist mental development (bhava), the mechanism for release.
Vinnana and Manas are understandable, it is Citta where I am getting thrown for a loop.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citta :

quote:

The complex causal nexus of volitions (or intentions) which one experiences continuously conditions one's thoughts,
This is where I view a contradiction. The mind as a sensory organ is being broken down into 3 categories and one of those categories is one with its own volition. Your vision does not have volition, yet it is a sense categorized with the mind, even though the mind has characteristics unique from the rest. The problem for me is: what is driving Citta?

Secret Sweater
Oct 17, 2005
dup

Buried alive posted:

There was mention in the OP about psychology starting to discover things that lined up with the teachings of Buddhism. Can you go into more detail about what exactly those things are?

I had some experience recently with cognitive therapy and on a whim did some reading on Buddhism and it was eerie seeing the correlation. I'll tell you the two big ones I'm aware of. I first learned of these from The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller http://www.psych.yorku.ca/eavitzur/...giftedchild.pdf
I'm going to reference a couple page numbers from that.

The idea of the true and false self: beginning page 12.
Trauma vs Dukkha : Beginning page 5.
The expression needs and their connection to Trauma.

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

Secret Sweater posted:

This is a bit verbose, you can read the last question if you'd like but I wanted to put down some of my thought process. I've been struggling lately with the definition of consciousness. Consciousness that is it brought about as response to the stimuli of vision, sound, taste, smell and touch are fine, but the mind sense eludes me.

I can create a memory in my mind and my body responds to it. But what is the 'flame' that generates a reaction in the mind? I read a bit on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manas-vijnana to see if it had a explanation of it, but it got me nowhere.

The example preceding the list is of the most basic and does not translate to manovijnana to me. What is the red apple for thought-vijnana to react to? All of the other senses are reactionary, the mind is something that I can control and will.

Vinnana and Manas are understandable, it is Citta where I am getting thrown for a loop.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citta :

This is where I view a contradiction. The mind as a sensory organ is being broken down into 3 categories and one of those categories is one with its own volition. Your vision does not have volition, yet it is a sense categorized with the mind, even though the mind has characteristics unique from the rest. The problem for me is: what is driving Citta?

Ooo! Ooo! I can answer this! I feel the need to qualify however that I follow a yogacaran viewpoint; so this response is not applicable to all forms of buddhism and that ajahn Walpola Rahula would reprimand it as totally wrong.

That said, the mind is broken down into eight interworking consciousnesses that can be lumped into four categories

the five sensate consciousnesses (caksur-srota-ghrota-jiva-kaya vijnanana)
Interpretive Consciousness (Mano-vijnana)
Ego Consciousness (Klesha-vijnana, or more appropriate and commonly, klistamanas)
Karma Conciousness (alaya-vijnana)

There are also some underlying assumptions made that need to be understood: There is no absolute mind-ego, mind-ego is a concept. There is no ego-differentiated self, the experiencing body is part of the absolute mode of reality. This absolute mode is an objective existing world where everything exists in itself. This is not a reification of conceptual reality applied to an absolute world. All experiences of an egoistic being are predicated and perfumed by karma. This is your predicate "flame".

In western philosophy, the objective material "thing" is called the noumenon, that which exists without definition by the senses. That which exists by senses is the phenomenon. In buddhist thought, the phenomenal object arises from an interaction between the Media that interprets it (eye-consciousness) for example. This interplay of perception of an object and the formation of your reality experience around it is mind. Vision has a form of volition because the thoughts connected to it work on it to create ideas. Perception divorced from any sort of attribution or ideation is not mind.

Remember the twelve Nidanas; without fabrication you do not have consciousness. The sensate conciousnesses are understandable to you it seems, and citta can be seen as comprising the mental ideative world that organizes the self, sensing with the mind, (i.e thinking). The ego-consciousness is the mode of thinking and thought generation that creates the Kleshas, the attachments, and is also citta. What drives Citta? The Kleshes, prior thoughts, etc.

The critical part is to understand that the ultimate predicate of the kleshas and what "drives Citta" is being ignorant of objective reality and suffering, the first nidana. By extension this means the main operant for most thought-generation is karma, actions in this or prior life that come to fruit with every thought, every perception, every experience being colored by prior experiences that can further trap you in an ego world.

Secret Sweater
Oct 17, 2005
dup

Quantumfate posted:

By extension this means the main operant for most thought-generation is karma, actions in this or prior life that come to fruit with every thought, every perception, every experience being colored by prior experiences that can further trap you in an ego world.

It is the main operant most of the time? What about the other times? Are there other driving forces? If I understand correctly, Karma is the manifestation of Cetana which is the manifestation of Citta?

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

Citta doesn't have a simple manifestation, its like asking what the manifestation of kleshas would be. The manifestation of cotta would essentially be ego, but that's easy to conflate with intrinsic self. There's four manifestations of citta that arise. Wholesome or kusala thoughts, neutral thoughts, akusala thoughts and the experienced fruits of karma. The sensate consciousnesses yield sensate experiences and can enforce the sensate derivations of ego. The klesha consciousness yields the aggregates, the karma consciousness yields karmic experience

Quantumfate fucked around with this message at May 11, 2013 around 08:26

Warsteiner
Jan 14, 2006



I'm not making an complaint or extending a distaste for this thread when I say "this thread is really confusing".

Thank you to the posters that explained Vajrayana Buddhism to me. That part now makes perfect sense, especially the not so secret secret.

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

What's confusing?

The-Mole
Aug 5, 2003

Don't tempt fate
Fate isn't real, of course.
But she can be tempted to become real for a few seconds.
And that's all it takes.


Using sanskrit terms for stuff when anyone who is not, uh, unusually familiar with sanskrit is going to feel confused or left out.

Plus_Infinity
Apr 12, 2011



The-Mole posted:

Using sanskrit terms for stuff when anyone who is not, uh, unusually familiar with sanskrit is going to feel confused or left out.

I agree with you and I grew up with Buddhism! I don't know what any of the Sanskrit words are and you don't NEED to know them all to have a fulfilling practice. Some people love getting academic about Buddhism - it lends itself very well to that. My dad was one of those people. But it is also possible to be very simple about it. I think this thread probably has room for those who like to debate in a more scholarly way while also being there for those of us who are not! At least I hope so!

ashgromnies
Jun 19, 2004


What tradition is that academicism from? Theravada? I have only been to a Korean Zen temple and they are much more focused on matters of more practicality eg dhammapada.

Where are those things described? In which texts, I mean.

Shnooks
Mar 24, 2007

I'm being born!


Yeah, I never understand the scholarly stuff . It just confuses me even more. I try to make it as simple as possible. Fortunately Zen has been kind to me that way.

Secret Sweater
Oct 17, 2005
dup

Shnooks posted:

Yeah, I never understand the scholarly stuff . It just confuses me even more. I try to make it as simple as possible. Fortunately Zen has been kind to me that way.

Sorry if I introduced that. I don't really know any of the sanskit stuff myself, I just look it up as needed to ask my questions :S It got me in trouble though because I was using a term completely wrong for what I thought it was.

Quantumfate
Feb 17, 2009

Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him:


"Motherfucker I will -end- you"

Yeah, I can see how the pali and sanskrit terms can be offputting; I try not to use them but can slip into using them every now and then. It's just more useful and expedient than english terms to explain the concepts. how do you describe sankhara, kleshas and skandhas when all of those terms refer to formations: likewise with Dhyana, Panna and Samadhi which all essentially mean wisdom.

For what it's worth the academic buddhism in theravada arises from the focus on scriptural study; in mahyana and vajrayana it comes out of a deep tradition of dialectics.

I'm sorry for being weird, goons.

Shnooks
Mar 24, 2007

I'm being born!


They're ok words when they're used alone, like...in a description or whatever. But when I see all of them put together its kind of like my history books in college where I'm pretty sure people just took words, smooshed them together, and made a new one. Also I find everyone spells the Sanskrit and/or Pali a bajillion different ways, which gets confusing.

It's ok, though. It's still interesting to read.

Yiggy
Sep 12, 2004

"Imagination is not enough. You have to have knowledge too, and an experience of the oddity of life."


Shnooks posted:

They're ok words when they're used alone, like...in a description or whatever. But when I see all of them put together its kind of like my history books in college where I'm pretty sure people just took words, smooshed them together, and made a new one. Also I find everyone spells the Sanskrit and/or Pali a bajillion different ways, which gets confusing.

It's ok, though. It's still interesting to read.

A few points which may help explain. So, in English we have compound words that will normally be two, sometimes three words. In Sanskrit there is no limit to this, and there are sometimes compound words composed of many, sometimes 23 words for really heady concepts. So in the history of Sanskrit and new terms within it, people literally did just take a ton of words and smoosh them together. Re: the spelling thing, Sanskrit and Indic alphabets are normally incredibly specific with their phonemes, many times having 40-50 letters an an alphabet and 10, sometimes more vowels. How its written, in the proper alphabet, is a clear guide to how it sounds. In English, for instance, we have those same ten or so vowel sounds, but we use five characters to express them, often depicting the same sound in different ways. So proper transliteration is pretty difficult, and especially outside more scholarly works, the conventions are poorly held to.

You also have the problem of mistransliteration into one language, embedding itself in that tradition and new language, and then eventually being mistransliterated again into English. For instance, take an influential Buddhist monk from Thailand, which in English is often referred to as Buddhadhasa. Well in Thai it's "Putatut" (and here, I probably just butchered a convention). Putatut itself literally meaning Buddhadhasa when you trace the threads back to sanskrit, but over time as the language spread it adapted itself to local phonemic distinctions, not always caring for precise phonetic distinctions. Especially in literature meant to popularize and spread Buddhist ideas in a more ecumenical fashion, transliteration standards can be held to with even less rigor. Considering that Pali itself was never really a living language, but one meant to crystallize concepts and stabilize them by removing them from the living, shifting web of Middle Indic languages and prakrits. Add to this that Buddhism is rarely interpretted or studied purely in this context, as many of the eastern traditions are based off of later sanskrit texts, with their own translation problems as they were ported into Chinese, then Japanese and other Asian contexts, etc.

Much of the dharma we see and talk about is a palimpsest of reinterpretation and translation. So it's going to be difficult to get to conceptual core of any of it. This is also one of the reasons a lot of Zen Monks became disdainful of text, language and the obscuring nature of words and terms.

Yiggy fucked around with this message at May 11, 2013 around 19:59

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Paramemetic
Sep 29, 2003

A gift from Coyote! Nothing could possibly go wrong here!


Edit 2: I wrote a bunch of words here that were super goofy because I was hecka tired after a long shift. I'm sorry if they were disruptive.

I'm editing them because as written I can't stand by them.

Paramemetic fucked around with this message at May 12, 2013 around 13:18

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