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Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Hi Buddhism thread, I've been busy obsessing over coronavirus and hanging out with my insane bundle of energy semi-new dog, but good to see this thread chugging along as always. I hope everyone is staying healthy. I spent like 7 weeks with some horrible lung cold that matches all the covid symptoms and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Hiro Protagonist posted:

I saw a post online recently, and couldn't come up with a good response: why do English speaking Buddhists (generally) chant in the language of their tradition instead of English? Isn't it important to understand what you're chanting, not just in a "someone told me it means X" way, but through your own language?

Chanting in both languages has been more common than one or the other in my experience. Though that's certainly not definitive. Also as far as chanting is concerned, in some contexts the actual syllables are considered more important than the meaning. Plus it's just a nice way to not instantly anglicize everything in a tradition. Also, at least in practice places (and this should be true pretty much regardless of tradition) there's often a sense that someone from the same tradition should be able to show up at any practice place (including past or present) and recognize the core practice

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Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


In response to some slightly older posts: Just on average, for every place that is minimally sufferable to hang out and chat about buddhisms, you're going to run into half a dozen wildly toxic, weirdly competitive 'im more enlightened than thou,' deeply dysfunctional groups or communities or cliques or whatever that aren't worth wasting your time with. maybe if you have the patience of a whole bunch of saints it's worth participating in and trying to be a generally positive force, but tbh you're probably always better off just finding a community that isn't mired in a ton of dysfunction.

Don't necessarily give up on a community the second they aren't perfect, but also don't think that you can't just move on if there's too much weird baggage with a group.

Online buddhist spaces in particular are extremely a mixed bag.

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


There's definitely an expectation generally that if you invest enough into a tradition to formally become someone's student (which can be formal or informal) that you direct the majority of your energies in that direction if possible, at least for some time. There's definitely nothing against double dipping and generally if you asked anyone in a teaching role, 'hey i'm curious to check out x' or 'hey it's way more convenient for me to go practice at y a few days a week' you'll probably just get nodded at and told to report back how it goes. Depending on a few things you might also get told a bit about how to speak of previous practice.. or not to.

That last bit is primarily an etiquette thing: it's just more respectful to show up and take in the experience rather than barraging out a bunch of comparisons to 'back at the zen center' or whatever. Besides, you can't really experience something without experiencing it from the beginning.

If you want to make a good impression and contribute, come up with some really good questions to ask.

Also I believe the vast majority of people who have practiced a decent while have practiced in multiple places or with different traditions. After you've become fairly grounded in one it becomes a good way to gain some depth of understanding and insight into wtf all goes on under the banner of buddhism.

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Paramemetic posted:

Okay so there are some layers here.

First layer is, don't make the mistake of thinking that psychedelic experiences are comparable here or a useful frame of reference. They can be, but I've more often seen people confuse their psychedelic experiences for The Experience You're Looking For and think that Buddhist methods are trying to reproduce those states.

The other ones are tricky to answer because you can't give a dualistic answer to a question of non-dual states. I can't say thoughts happen in a non-dual enlightened state because that would mean thoughts are occurring in a dualistic mode (happening, as opposed to not-happening) or what the cognitive processes involved are. The physical body of someone who has achieved an enlightened state still go through normal processes, including the brain - but I don't necessarily think that the brain and the mind are are linked as people would like to believe. The brain is physical hardware that addresses a lot of sensation and perception including the embodied experience of thoughts (these being a class of perception) but we don't really have a good reason to associate this with mind itself.

The unfortunately probably-unsatisfactory answer that Jigten Sumgon gave to this question, in the Single Intention, is basically "play to find out what happens." You can't express the enlightened, non-dual experience using a dualistic modality like answering these questions. It can only be experienced. When you have an experience that you can't express, that's maybe a glimpse, but don't dwell on it. Trust in the method to get you where you need to be and don't get distracted pursuing after things that can be pursued.

So that's the Buddhist answer. From a Western transpersonal psychology perspective, I'm going to say: It's not just "zoning out," it's not "flow," but it is superficially similar to both in that it's an altered state of consciousness of which the present goings-on of our lives are merely a fragment. That is, this experience that we're having now doesn't necessarily go away, but our view of it and our understanding and engagement with it fundamentally changes. I can't speak to the enlightened state from experience, but this is my take on what it could very well be like from a scientific perspective.

I think one of the really key distinctions between drug-induced non-dual experience and uh a non-dual baseline (by whichever name you want to call it) is that one requires doing something specific to induce it as an experience each time; the other is just a background state that exists, but is generally obscured or otherwise rather difficult to notice or perceive (or even to think to look for, as the case may be).

One other important aspect is that the drug experience is more or less by definition one of confusion and even as the experience of self breaks down it's simultaneously hyper-subjective. That's not to say that a drug-induced experience of something more or less nondual in nature is bad or not worth experiencing or not occasionally helpful to people, but one of the handful of things in Buddhism that are put truly unequivocally is that drugs/intoxicants are not the way. That feels as true a statement as ahimsa. If anything, the opposite of intoxication: sober, unhindered, wide-awake awareness is the state to cultivate, what zen likes to call 'manning the sense-gates.' I think that's the condition you have to be in to be generally useful in the world.

That said, as far as experiencing nondual states go, I suspect most people would find it far easier to experience in dreams than with drugs. Should be a lot safer, too.

Herstory Begins Now fucked around with this message at 03:31 on Jul 10, 2020

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


imo anger is probably the main felt form that suffering takes in daily life. Depending on one's disposition it might be sadness, but I think they're generally two sides of the same emotion, just one tends to be directed more inwards and the other more outwards.

Yeah it's normal, reasonable, healthy, etc. to feel anger at all the myriad things in the world that are absolutely worth getting angry about. Frankly it would be weirder to look at the world and not feel outraged. For all the emphasis on being somewhat calm and measured and reasonable in interacting with the world, really none of it is saying 'don't confront injustice head on.' The emphasis on equanimity is more about taking an emotional step back so you can see what actions would have the most effect with clearer eyes. Equanimity for no other reason than wanting the veneer of calmness is just numbness or something. On a practical level, that question of 'gently caress the world sucks, how the hell do i do anything to confront the injustice' is really one of the core questions that pretty much everyone and especially every practice place and every tradition grapples with. Imo just find something you find meaningful and sustainable to do that helps in some facet and do what you can, because that's all people really can do.

Basically what I'm getting at is: from what you've said, yeah you're feelings seem entirely reasonable and understandable and even healthy, albeit I'm sure frustrating and at times overwhelming. And yeah there's really no way to side-step feeling anger.

That said, if you need a break from staring at all the hosed up poo poo in the world, by all means take a break to reset. Personally I watch lovely sitcoms or romcoms or just stop reading the news for a while when I find it to be too much, but all that really matters is you find something that works for you.

Herstory Begins Now fucked around with this message at 04:24 on Jul 25, 2020

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Paramemetic posted:

The "is it okay" phrasing makes the answer, for me, very straightforward: yeah, of course.

There are all kinds of ins and outs and what have yous in the sense of like "what do you mean by 'to be a Buddhist'" or "what do you mean by believing in Jesus?" But they don't really concern the question of whether it's okay.

To answer whether it's okay, I would suggest it depends on another question: who's judging?

Buddha doesn't really do a judging, it's just cause and effect, and if doing both gets you closer to the cessation of suffering, great!

Jesus supposedly judges, but if he judges you poorly for pursuing liberation from suffering for self and others, he'd be a dick. By all accounts he's not a dick, so that's fine.

You might judge yourself, but self is made up, so don't worry about it.

Basically if it works for you, then it works for you.

There are some other hardline answers from both camps, but they don't address whether it's okay, only whether they think it's okay.

There's a chapter in Walking an Uncommon Path where the Gyalwang Drukpa talks about a student of his who comes to confess they've recently become Christian, thinking he'd be upset. He basically responds "sounds good, seems like it's working for you, great!" If I recall correctly he spends the rest of the chapter talking about how religious dogma fucks us up and we've got enough in this world to gently caress us up without getting hosed up by firmly held beliefs.

Yeah there's very little intrinsically preventing anyone from either having a syncretic belief structure or even just finding both valid at the same time. Especially with a view of christianity that is primarily centred around jesus, the two are very compatible even if there would definitely be people from either camp who would probably have some objection. The only place it would maybe be a problem is if someone tried to be a full practicing member/vow taker in both a christian and a buddhist order. That said, there's a fair amount of overlap between christian and buddhist monastics on a practical level and i know of several christian orders of various types that clearly consider it fine to live and practice in a non-christian practice place.

So yeah the response i think largely comes down to 'what is someone's goal? what is their formal engagement with a specific tradition that might have some standards around this?' Otherwise, yeah it's nbd. It's not hard to consider jesus a sage or a saint or some such.

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Eh there's been both a significant history of buddhist dogmatic orthodoxy as well as many other religions that spread in a similar manner. Tbh most religions at their most doctrinally established points start complaining about all the casually religious just practice whatever the hell asssortment of local customs they feel like and how it's literally impossible to get them to stop all the local traditions.

That said, buddhism being a generally non-evangelical religion does seem to make it's spread much more syncretic

Achmed Jones posted:

If you believe the four noble truths, you're a Buddhist. I'm not sure it's a necessary condition but it's certainly sufficient. I don't think you have to take refuge to be a buddhist. Then again, id say that since I haven't formally done so and consider myself a capital b buddhist, write "buddhist" for religion on demographic surveys, etc.

zhar posted:

Refuge in the three jewels isn't just some ceremonial thing. The dharma jewel is the last 2 truths (cessation and paths), sangha is whoever has made progress along the path and buddha jewel is both the physical buddha and maybe the culmination of the path (may be a little different in theravada).

After recognizing that there is suffering, one takes refuge from it by trusting the buddha as someone who had it worked out and that the path he taught is the way out of it. I think this may be the point at which one becomes a full-assed 'Buddhist'.

It's supposed to be a virtuous cycle where the benefits of practicing the path produce more faith in the buddha (as his teachings turn out to work) which deepens refuge and inspires further practice, so it can start very shallow and doesn't require belief in anything too crazy.

These two posts are accurate describe roughly where I'd see the line for 'can reasonably be considered a buddhist.' I'd probably add that some kind of tangible practice has been undertaken and sustained for a while, but I think that's largely secondary to the above (though it's probably the line for when other people, and in particular other buddhists, will start to consider you a buddhist).

Still there are situations where those aren't set in stone and imo the label is a lot less important than whether someone considers living by the precepts important. Or even just taking one or two of the precepts really seriously.

Herstory Begins Now fucked around with this message at 00:19 on Oct 16, 2020

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Thirteen Orphans posted:

At work (I work in a cafe inside a bookstore) we have an ant problem. They often congregate on the counter, and theyíre had to see, so Iíll wipe down the counter and pick up a dozen of those little guys. Iím stuck; I donít want to kill the ants, but I canít let them get around and into the food and drinks, for obvious reasons. It isnít my authority to call a professional, but can they do anything outside of termination? To me that sounds like being complicit in taking life. Iím curious about the Buddhist(s) perspective to this moral quandary. For the sake of the argument presume I took the precept vow not to take life.

I think I've posted about this before, but one of the big zen communities on the west coast opened one of their forest center/retreat places and long story short, a bunch of wideyed zen folks thought the rats that showed up were cute as hell and let them wander around and basically have the run of the place. Eventually someone with some sens came by and chewed them the gently caress out for having a massive vermin infestation that they did gently caress all about and they had to kill all the rats. I think about this story a lot because it's such a, idk, concrete clash of idealism and the realities of vermin infestation.

Also I had to kill a couple rats recently and it sucked. I say a little thing for them and try to make sure it's really quick, but ugh. Basically, do what you have to do to not put people at risk.

Herstory Begins Now fucked around with this message at 04:40 on Oct 31, 2020

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Paramemetic posted:

Psychedelics provide altered states and some of those altered states have similarities to some characteristic of enlightenment but they don't deliver the Actual Goods.

I personally think they're fine, do whatever. They're especially useful got illustrating that much of our experience comes from within and that the world we experience is largely about what's going on in our mind and not something that exists outside of us. Dissociatives and deliriants can be useful for that too.

But the states you get from psychedelics don't really approximate the enlightened state as I understand it. They're transient and dependent on breaking faculties and not creating a recognition or accomplishment that persists.

So I personally think they're great for psychologists and psychonauts and philosophers and so on, but they aren't a shortcut to enlightenment. And strictly speaking neither are vajrayana rituals, which facilitate the conditions for liberation happening but don't really skip anything.

The other danger is that the psychonaut can confuse the psychedelic state for the real deal. I know a guy who is super convinced that LSD and shrooms showed him enlightenment. So, when he meditates, he's striving for an experience that resembles when he takes acid. If you're striving for an experience, you're never going to get the real deal. Hell, even when doing meditation, when you get a glimpse, the instruction is usually "okay neat but ignore that and keep meditating normally." It's super easy to get fixated on various experiences and then to grasp for them, but doing so can be a big mistake. So the real danger of psychedelics is thinking that these transient states are like the real deal, and then comparing meditation to the drug experience, and ruining the meditation as a result.

This is well put. Two other things I would add to this:

1) psychedelics in particular add a great deal of confusion and the overall experience is very muddled in most respects and generally inhibits the ability to perceive the world, even while it strips away the sense of self. That's not to say psychedelics aren't cool or fun or people should never do them, but all the intoxication parts of the experience is just replacing one obscuration of some non-selfed state with another obscuration. It's essentially exchanging one hindrance for another.

2) Drugged states not being the way is one of a handful of things that trace back very directly to Buddha himself and he really was quite extensively clear on that and for how many other points he otherwise was more circumspect or suggested seeing things for oneself, it's notable that he was so emphatic that intoxicants are not a shortcut or even really any part of the path. Anyways that's all to be taken in the context of plenty of people from all over are buddhists and do all kinds of drugs and while, imo, it's not ideal, someone doing some drugs is not going to outweigh an otherwise rightly lived life. I just think it's useful to ponder why that precept against intoxication exists and that it's very much not an accident that it's a precept.

With that said, speaking as someone who did hella psychedelics, yeah they're good for getting you to start asking some good questions about just wtf is the nature of your perceptions, how much does mind or no-mind affect experience, or other similar sorts of questions.

echinopsis posted:

Thank you for that. I had heard stories of people who have apparently experienced non dualism and walk away with a underwhelmed vibe, this is posited as a reason to avoid showing people nondualism too early.

I wonder if some of that ďmagicĒ is stuff like the pointing out instruction. Iíve heard of a number of ways of attempting this, but nothing obvious occurs. So I assume I am missing it. Iím lead to believe it may initially be experienced as a glimpse, so I also wonder if I am getting it but missing it.

🤷‍♂️

For all the elaborate practices and art and imagery and stories or the bhakti-type practices and so on, fundamentally, buddhist practice is by and large extremely mundane, and especially so to an observer unfamiliar with the internal drama, so to speak. It just looks like someone leading their life and, to be fair, that's also what it is. There's often a misconception people have when showing up to buddhist communities that there's some super cool esoteric secret 'good poo poo' that they're holding out on and while it's true that there's some weird stuff that gets held back, all the 'good poo poo' is given free, up front.

Herstory Begins Now fucked around with this message at 03:38 on Nov 18, 2020

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Mushika posted:

After a lot of self searching and some advice of my therapist, I reached out to the Thay of my temple in regards to my alcoholism, and also my spiritual practice. I was honestly afraid to do so; my problems are so small to the world at large, why would I bother someone who has an entire community to attend to? The Vietnamese Buddhist community here in southern Louisiana is quite large, and then there is the non-Vietnamese community that often go to him for guidance. I also didn't even really know where to begin. I emailed him and he enthusiastically agreed to meet and have tea on the temple grounds. It turns out that he has a PhD in addiction counseling and agreed to take me on as his pupil. He has agreed to meet with me for once or twice a week sessions with him as well as him being always on call via phone, text, or email. He also invited me to wander the temple grounds whenever I feel the need. The only thing he asks is that, once I'm comfortable with my progress, that I go out and help other people like myself who battle with addiction. I can't quite describe how happy and hopeful I am about this.

That owns and is incredibly sweet and it sounds like a good community. Good luck with sobriety, it's a lot more doable when you've got multiple support structures behind you. As an aside, I've spent a few years totally sober and it's really eye opening on a bunch of levels, like it's staggering just how much people rely on alcohol to socialize or have fun.

quote:

Paramemetic and Herstory, thank you for your thorough and continuing contribution to this thread. And all of you other posters as well. You are most graciously helping the Dharma reach people. I, for one, dearly appreciate it.

imo paramemetic and everyone else who participates deserves far more credit. I'm just happy to be able to participate sometimes because this thread is exceedingly friendly and encouraging compared to most other online buddhist spaces I've experienced.

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


NikkolasKing posted:

Karma and rebirth. I'm open to the idea but can I say for certain that I think my mental stream or whatever term you want to use for it will survive after my body dies? No. That can't be proved so far as I'm aware, any more than a Christian soul can be proved.

karma is literally just cause and effect (or cause and conditions, more broadly).

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


^yeah that owns

Also re the faith and rebirth stuff: First, faith isn't really a thing in buddhism in anything approaching the way it is in christianity (or any of the abrahamic religions, for that matter) where it is very much central to the entire matter. Faith does occasionally play a role in things (some devotional practices involve or ask some act of faith, but even then rarely in anything approaching the christian conception of faith. Guruyoga or some deity practices will invoke something approaching faith as a tool, but that's still in contrast to the baseline of skepticism. I don't remember the source offhand, but buddha famously told people to examine teachers and teachings the way a gold merchant scrutinizes gold before purchasing. If it passes the test, then put stock in it.

Second, On the subject of rebirth, by all means apply that same level of scrutiny to it, there's no need exactly to believe anything about the literalness of rebirth in one way or another. That said, rebirth is still an immensely important aspect of things and of all the various virtuous things in buddhism, bodhicitta (eg the intention to attain enlightenment specifically so as to be continually be reborn for the benefit of all beings) is widely considered the key thing that makes buddhist practice *work* (and this is consistent among every major school of buddhism afaik). Fortunately, cultivating bodhicitta doesn't require a concrete belief in rebirth to be beneficial, though they clearly are mutually supportive. Even with the most bare bones concept of rebirth (eg that the causes and conditions and effects and so on that led to your birth in the first place will continue after you, along with the additional things caused and conditioned and effected by what you did in life), cultivating bodhicitta is sitll going to work and be of benefit.

Third, to tie all this together, it's useful to think about rebirth and karma literally as they frame and indeed are the foundation for a lot of buddhist morality and some really key points, like why buddhist views towards emptiness or non-duality are neither nihilism nor amorality. Really the opposite: with bodhicitta those things that some people see as a reason to not care or to argue that there is no good or bad instead become a reason and a means to work for the benefit of others.

Anyways, that's a lot of questionably clear words to say, 'cultivate the desire to be of service' or more succinctly 'cultivate bodhicitta.' Hopefully I explained the relationship between these decently. The experience of wrestling with the implications of karma and rebirth and the like is something that pretty much everyone spends time on. That question eventually gets down to the differences between simple arhats (someone who escapes the cycle of rebirth) and bodhisattvas (someone who vows to seek enlightenment and stay in samsara---keep taking rebirths---until all beings are free).

Herstory Begins Now fucked around with this message at 22:57 on Nov 24, 2020

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


thorsilver posted:

Recently, alongside my readings of sutras and commentaries, I've been trying to learn more about the history of Tibetan Buddhism and some of the most famous figures in it, like Padmasambhava, Milarepa, Naropa, and so on. I got the bright idea to search 'Padmasambhava' on YouTube and see if I could find any interesting Dharma talks about him, but instead I found this documentary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HStACYTbvgA

Right from the start they hit you with the 'Guru Rinpoche produces eight quantum energy fields' or some poo poo. But it really starts to come alive when we hear about the universal vibrational power of mantras from the woman with a PhD from someplace called 'Energy Medicine University'.

Also, it feels significant that the entire film has Chinese subtitles, and every time the main weirdo goes somewhere new, the on-screen map does not label Tibet but instead calls everything China.

So, does anyone have any links to actual good videos/talks/books/etc. about Padmasambhava, rather than... whatever that was?

If you want talks, https://dharmaseed.org/teachers/ has a ton of good talks on a huge variety of subjects from basically every tradition under the sun. Idk about good documentaries offhand, you'd have better luck probably just finding one of the biographies and reading that tbh. For pretty much everything else, rigpawiki is another good resource that generally will link you to the definitive works on a given subject or person if you're trying to track down where to even start your reading (eg https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Milarepa#Further_Reading or https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Padmasambhava ).

Also if you've got any tibetan buddhist centers around you, they likely have libraries and/or book clubs and are worth reaching out to if you'd prefer not to buy copies of books yourself or you want suggestions or w/e

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


There's a considerably longer answer, but more to the point: the art is itself a point of meditation

Yiggy or paramemetic could probably give you a better and much more expansive answer though. I'll write something later if I have some time

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


Paramemetic posted:

Yes and no.

Online empowerments are semi-controversial but only when people want them to be. Personally, I think they are fine and great and cool. We're talking about some pretty lofty stuff and like, why would I think a fully enlightened being couldn't empower someone to a practice lineage because they're not in the same physical space? Makes no sense to me.

Garchen Rinpoche was one of the first big names to do this with any regularity, and many of his centers will do it now also. I know which center you're talking about and I think it's a good thing.

There are traditionalists who would argue this is ineffective or at least dubiously effective, and there's merit for that too. But the effective part of any empowerment is entirely on the practitioner, right? It's whether or not we accept the commitments and see the Lama as the Buddha and see the connection and I don't see any reason why that would not be effective online. It's not like you can get a fake samaya, and an empowerment is a permission to practice, it's not an accomplishment, so there shouldn't be credential concerns, but... Whatever.

Short answer yes, it's becoming more common. Whether or not that's a good thing varies based on who you ask.

afaik the vast majority of the controversy is cuz 'does spiritual stuff over the internet' was for a long time one of the like top 3 red flags of bullshit spirituality peddling or worse. On a doctrinal level, yeah there's a very strong case to be made that the precise medium of interaction shouldn't matter that much, particularly when one is using the method that is available that doesn't put people at needless risk.

Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


BIG FLUFFY DOG posted:

Transferring my merit to beings in Avici but no idea how to do it to a guy 3 towns over by computer

it's well known that 5g inhibits merit transfer~

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Herstory Begins Now
Aug 5, 2003


In case you've ever wondered how it is that statues get the heads knocked off

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