The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:33 am


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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:23 pm

Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:03 pm

My own experience with Nichiren Buddhists has been very limited.
My firest encounter, after I had already been studying and practicing vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism, was when I dropped in at an SGI place, just to check it out. I try to be very open minded and always curious and eager to explore or at least try to understand all paths which call themselves Buddhist.

The group had just finished a chanting session and was braking up, and I was talking to an elderly japanese woman who said to me, "Oh. that Tibetan...only want to talk about death! Here, you chant Myo Ho Renge Kyo, you can have money, a car, big TV, whatever you want!
And this struck me as rather odd, because praying for "stuff" is not what I normally associate with Buddhism. I can get "stuff" anywhere. Buddhist practice for me had what i would consider somewhat loftier goals. And I think this may also be what you were referring to, many buddhists seeming to reject the material world.

Beyond that, I have had a few acquaintances and one good friend for a long time who is Nichiren. I have also known a person whose experience with SGI was very negative, and who found "what she was looking for" in Tibetan Buddhism.

But all that shows is that everybody is different.
I am also aware that not every Nichiren Buddhist is eager to defend SGI.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:45 am


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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:57 am


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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:03 am

Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:10 pm

At the risk of sounding humorless (I'm actually watching Family Guy as I type this), I would wager that we can assume that when a book titled "Japanese Buddhism" says that in general the Japanese affirm the world and do not seek a way of escaping it, the book is referring to a religious context and not cartoons. :namaste:

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:30 pm

Are you denying that Christianity does basically teach that there is a difference between the physical world and the spiritual world, and that the spiritual world (heaven, which you go to after you die) is better than the physical world?

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:19 am

I am going to cut in late here

I actually disagree with the west having a problem with materialism and spirituality in today's world. I see the west as having two different takes on it, one, and increasingly the more prominent in the west, is that there is NO spiritual reality at all, and silly superstitious uneducated people like to hang on to religious "stuff" and trinkets, or thy cannot resist putting arcades next to temples...which just proves that religion is bupkiss. the other (and this is ironic) is fundamentalism, and this has, due to trying to be diametrically opposed to communism, become welcoming of materialism. they might not SEE it that way, but basically capitalism and fundamentalism are the general mix in this other view. If it were still the case that those with religion in the west see the material world as grubby and animal and coarse and inferior, and the spiritual as higher, better, and godly, this would not be the case. But as it turns out religious people are more materialistic now, in fact I heard that somehow religious people actually make more money. I think the "old" christian world is dead or dying, and the new one is emerging, and the other popular alternative is philosophical materialism.
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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:36 am

Thanks for the response. :smile:

In the first illustration, you say that the West doesn't have a problem mixing spirituality and materialism -- but has trouble with spirituality, period.

In the second illustration, you say that Christianity is mixing spirituality and materialism all the time.

I agree with both points.

But the "directness" of it seems quite different. For example, I think that most of the fundamentalist Christians who make a lot of money off of religion would strongly deny this. I think that, though they make a lot of money off of religion, they would be some of the first to say, "Money is the root of all evil." That is, they pay "lip service" to the standard old fashion Christian view, all the while defying it.

Contrast this with the SGI practice of being very upfront about chanting for material things. No apologies.

I don't think the concept of "money is the root of all evil" exists in the East. I could be wrong, and if I am wrong I hope someone corrects me.

Maybe at some level it goes back to the doctrine of Original Sin, which basically says the material world is wrong to exist, period. Or, rather, the material world is the result of sin. (Is that teaching, Original Sin, a part of other branches of Christianity? I ask, because I don't know. :shrug: )

Thanks.

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:43 am

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:57 am

Thank you. I have a book of meditations by the Dalai Lama. But the Dalai Lama isn't a teacher of Nichiren Buddhism. (I did find a clip on YouTube, though, of him chanting the Odaimoku, which was great to see. :namaste: )

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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby BrianG » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:50 pm

I don't have any experience with Nichiren, but I have practiced Buddhism as a lay follower in both America and China/Thailand, so perhaps I can share some observations.

1. The path in Asia tends to be the opposite of the US. Asian lay followers are usually much more concerned with making merit, than with doing any sort of meditation. Following the precepts tends to be highly regarded here, whereas meditation is seen as a practice for people who are extremely dedicated.

2. With the exception of Japan and possibly South Korea, people make far less money in Asia than the west. Praying for "material goods" when you are single and making 40kusd a year is one thing, praying for "material goods" when you are making 800usd a year and have a family to feed, is something completely different.

3. Even the poor lay followers out here tend to be very generous, some will cook better food for the monks than they will for themselves, and will have no issues donating whatever the can spare. Compared to the west, I've noticed a lot less pressure from monks on the lay followers to donate, people pretty much do it without being told. In the west, many lay followers don't seem to be aware of the Buddha's teaching on making merit, or think they are above it.

4. I've noticed lay followers in the west are generally after "the truth", and "enlightenment", and think that spiritual teachers should be above such worldly concerns as paying the rent. Or figure that the book their teacher just published and sold 893 copies of, is enough to pay the bills, because the teacher is "famous".
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Re: The West's conflict with mixing spirituality and materiality

Postby OregonBuddhist » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:57 am

Interesting. Thank you.


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