The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Malcolm » Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:58 pm

nichirenista wrote: In today's world, particularly the West, the image of a Buddhist monk being militant, and of some being "armed to the teeth" and ready to attack rivals, is unimaginable, if not shocking.


I am not so sure about that:

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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Queequeg » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:11 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Queequeg wrote:If you have no familiarity with East Asian Lotus Buddhism, its a looong conversation.
Well, can you at least explain the "not immediately" bit please?


One of the repeated exhortations throughout the Lotus Sutra is to share the teaching with others - even just a single line. Perfecting conduct is not a priority and is said to pale in benefit compared to accepting the Buddha's teaching of the Lotus Sutra and sharing it with others. The perfections, according to the Lotus Sutra, can and will be pursued, but is not the immediate priority. Hence, Nichiren Buddhists are more likely to seek out others and engage, evangelize, before we retreat up to the mountains to get our hair perfect.

Really, what is the primary goal of a bodhisattva? Isn't it the sharing of Buddhadharma with others? The Paramita are achievements that enable a bodhisattva to be more effective, but in no way is it the goal of their practice, or is it? If that's what is asserted, it sounds like the bodhisattva has regressed to pursuit of the individual vehicle, just looking for fancier achievements than the arhat or pratyekabuddha. I don't think anyone is suggesting that. However, I'm genuinely surprised at what appear to be the assumptions in the line of questioning. Are Bodhisattvas really to be defined by the paramita? You have to understand, as perplexed as you might be that we do not prioritize the paramita, I am perplexed that what I describe above is not obvious - that the bodhisattvas first and foremost pursuit should be the salvation of all beings, regardless of perfection.

The f'in house is on fire! Get 'em out!

There is more to this subject, of course, but as I wrote, its a long conversation.
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Queequeg » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:40 pm

Adding to my above post - one of the most important bodhisattvas described in the Lotus Sutra is Sadaparibhuta - "Never Disparaging". He is described as a person who's Buddhist learning and spiritual achievements were meager. His practice was to greet and prostrate to everyone saying, "I would never disparage you because you are destined to be a Buddha!" People would get angry at him saying they didn't need a prophecy of Buddhahood from someone like him, and abuse him, beating him and pelting him with stones and tiles. Sadaparibhuta would never get angry, but just retreat far enough that he was out of range of their abuse, and yell from afar, "I would never disparage you because you are destined to be a Buddha." On his death, he was rewarded by being taught the Lotus Sutra and his lifespan was extended. Shakyamuni explains that Sadaparibhuta was him in a past life and it was that activity then that was the cause of his enlightenment.

Nichiren explained that the NamuMyohorengekyo is the same practice as Sadaparibhuta.
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby nichirenista » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:49 pm

Malcolm wrote:
nichirenista wrote: In today's world, particularly the West, the image of a Buddhist monk being militant, and of some being "armed to the teeth" and ready to attack rivals, is unimaginable, if not shocking.


I am not so sure about that:

Image


I'm not talking about entertainment, obviously. I sincere doubt anyone watching this DVD did so in an attempt to enrich their practice of Buddhism. Yes, popular culture would have it that Asian males are one of two things: 1. Math geniuses. 2. Ninjas. But most Buddhists in the West think of someone like Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama when they think of Buddhist monks, and we don't imagine either man to be "packin.'"
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Mkoll » Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:40 am

nichirenista wrote:I'm not talking about entertainment, obviously. I sincere doubt anyone watching this DVD did so in an attempt to enrich their practice of Buddhism. Yes, popular culture would have it that Asian males are one of two things: 1. Math geniuses. 2. Ninjas. But most Buddhists in the West think of someone like Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama when they think of Buddhist monks, and we don't imagine either man to be "packin.'"

You never know...

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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:47 am

Queequeg wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:
Queequeg wrote:If you have no familiarity with East Asian Lotus Buddhism, its a looong conversation.
Well, can you at least explain the "not immediately" bit please?


One of the repeated exhortations throughout the Lotus Sutra is to share the teaching with others - even just a single line. Perfecting conduct is not a priority and is said to pale in benefit compared to accepting the Buddha's teaching of the Lotus Sutra and sharing it with others. The perfections, according to the Lotus Sutra, can and will be pursued, but is not the immediate priority. Hence, Nichiren Buddhists are more likely to seek out others and engage, evangelize, before we retreat up to the mountains to get our hair perfect.

Really, what is the primary goal of a bodhisattva? Isn't it the sharing of Buddhadharma with others? The Paramita are achievements that enable a bodhisattva to be more effective, but in no way is it the goal of their practice, or is it? If that's what is asserted, it sounds like the bodhisattva has regressed to pursuit of the individual vehicle, just looking for fancier achievements than the arhat or pratyekabuddha. I don't think anyone is suggesting that. However, I'm genuinely surprised at what appear to be the assumptions in the line of questioning. Are Bodhisattvas really to be defined by the paramita? You have to understand, as perplexed as you might be that we do not prioritize the paramita, I am perplexed that what I describe above is not obvious - that the bodhisattvas first and foremost pursuit should be the salvation of all beings, regardless of perfection.

The f'in house is on fire! Get 'em out!

There is more to this subject, of course, but as I wrote, its a long conversation.
Thank you for the explanation. Isn't there the risk, due to ignorance and one's own low/minimal capacities, of leading them from one burning house into another? I guess the logic is that if you rely completely on the words of the Buddha, as exemplified by the Lotus Sutra, then this risk is minimised?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby nichirenista » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:16 am

Mkoll wrote:
nichirenista wrote:I'm not talking about entertainment, obviously. I sincere doubt anyone watching this DVD did so in an attempt to enrich their practice of Buddhism. Yes, popular culture would have it that Asian males are one of two things: 1. Math geniuses. 2. Ninjas. But most Buddhists in the West think of someone like Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama when they think of Buddhist monks, and we don't imagine either man to be "packin.'"

You never know...

Image

:D


Oh geez. I just watched Desolation of Smaug. lol. But I digress….
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Queequeg » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:31 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Isn't there the risk, due to ignorance and one's own low/minimal capacities, of leading them from one burning house into another? I guess the logic is that if you rely completely on the words of the Buddha, as exemplified by the Lotus Sutra, then this risk is minimised?


That's my understanding. One is a transmitter. The Lotus actually identifies people who undertake this practice as the Buddha's envoy. I recall a sutta - maybe its the conversion story of Shariputra where he encounters a bikkhu and asks about the dharma the bhikku follows. The bhikku protests that he understands little, but when pressed recounts what the Buddha teaches. I think its the same principle.
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby plwk » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:45 pm

Isn't there the risk, due to ignorance and one's own low/minimal capacities, of leading them from one burning house into another? I guess the logic is that if you rely completely on the words of the Buddha, as exemplified by the Lotus Sutra, then this risk is minimised?


That's my understanding. One is a transmitter. The Lotus actually identifies people who undertake this practice as the Buddha's envoy. I recall a sutta - maybe its the conversion story of Shariputra where he encounters a bikkhu and asks about the dharma the bhikku follows. The bhikku protests that he understands little, but when pressed recounts what the Buddha teaches. I think its the same principle.
Upatissa-pasine
Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā
tesaṃ hetuṃ tathāgato āha,
tesañca yo nirodho
evaṃ vādī mahāsamaṇo

Ye dharmā hetuprabhavā
hetuṃ teṣāṃ tathāgataḥ hyavadat
teṣāṃ ca yo nirodha
evaṃ vādī mahāśramaṇaḥ


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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Jikan » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:08 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:Isn't there the risk, due to ignorance and one's own low/minimal capacities, of leading them from one burning house into another? I guess the logic is that if you rely completely on the words of the Buddha, as exemplified by the Lotus Sutra, then this risk is minimised?


That's my understanding. One is a transmitter. The Lotus actually identifies people who undertake this practice as the Buddha's envoy. I recall a sutta - maybe its the conversion story of Shariputra where he encounters a bikkhu and asks about the dharma the bhikku follows. The bhikku protests that he understands little, but when pressed recounts what the Buddha teaches. I think its the same principle.


Consider Chapter 10 (quoting a convenient translation):

Buddha wrote:"Medicine King, if there are good men and good women who, after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, wish to expound this Lotus Sutra for the four kinds of believers, how should they expound it? These good men and good women should enter the Thus Come One's room put on the Thus Come One's robe, sit in the Thus Come One's seat, and then for the sake of the four kinds of believers broadly expound this sutra.

"The 'Thus Come One's room' is the state of mind that shows great pity and compassion toward all living beings. The Thus Come One's robe is the mind that is gentle and forbearing. The 'Thus Come One's seat is the emptiness of all phenomena. One should seat oneself comfortably therein and after that, with a mind never lazy or remiss, should for the sake of the bodhisattvas and the four kinds of believers broadly expound this Lotus Sutra.

from: http://nichiren.info/buddhism/lotussutr ... hap10.html

Different interpretations of this passage are possible. One conventional one has it that if one is teaching the Lotus Sutra in just this way, one is indeed embodying the body, speech, and mind of Buddha Shakyamuni. What do you call a being who is sitting in the seat of the Tathagata, wearing the robe of the Tathagata, and articulating the teaching of the Tathagata?
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby anjali » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:52 pm

Jikan wrote:What do you call a being who is sitting in the seat of the Tathagata, wearing the robe of the Tathagata, and articulating the teaching of the Tathagata?

Hmm. Depends on their level of realization. ;) If that being doesn't have the realization of a Tathagata, can such a being truly be said to be sitting in the seat of the Tahthagata, wearing the robe of the Tathagata, or articulating the teaching of the Tathagata? On the other hand, to the extent that the hearer of the teaching has pure vision...
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Queequeg » Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:21 pm

That Chapter 10 as a whole pertains to this principle - that's where the teaching on teachers of the Lotus Sutra being the Buddha's envoy is found (BDK translation):
"After my parinirvana, if there are any sons and daughters of a virtuous family who expound even a single line of the Lotus Sutra in private to even a single person, they should be acknowledged as the ambassadors of the Tathagata. They have been dispatched by the Tathagata and carry out the Tathagata's work. As for those who extensively teach among the common people, know that they are yet greater ambassadors."

Jikan wrote:
Buddha wrote:"Medicine King, if there are good men and good women who, after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, wish to expound this Lotus Sutra for the four kinds of believers, how should they expound it? These good men and good women should enter the Thus Come One's room put on the Thus Come One's robe, sit in the Thus Come One's seat, and then for the sake of the four kinds of believers broadly expound this sutra.

"The 'Thus Come One's room' is the state of mind that shows great pity and compassion toward all living beings. The Thus Come One's robe is the mind that is gentle and forbearing. The 'Thus Come One's seat is the emptiness of all phenomena. One should seat oneself comfortably therein and after that, with a mind never lazy or remiss, should for the sake of the bodhisattvas and the four kinds of believers broadly expound this Lotus Sutra.

from: http://nichiren.info/buddhism/lotussutr ... hap10.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Different interpretations of this passage are possible. One conventional one has it that if one is teaching the Lotus Sutra in just this way, one is indeed embodying the body, speech, and mind of Buddha Shakyamuni. What do you call a being who is sitting in the seat of the Tathagata, wearing the robe of the Tathagata, and articulating the teaching of the Tathagata?


Also from Chapter 10:
"If there are any sons or daughters of a virtuous family who preserve, recite, explain, and copy even a single line of the Lotus Sutra, or who pay homage to this sutra with various offerings of flowers, perfumes, necklaces, scented powders and ointments, burning incense, canopies, flags, banners, clothing, or music, or who honor it with their palms pressed together, such people should be respected by the entire world. They should be revered in the same way as the Tathagata is revered. Know that these people are great bodhisattvas who are to attain highest, complete enlightenment."

I think a common feature of the Buddhist path is to always look on one's teacher as though they are the Buddha. It doesn't matter that they don't perfectly fulfill that role. There is a story in the Lotus Sutra about the Buddha's relationship with Devadatta in a previous life where the Buddha was a mere seeker and Devadatta was a brahmin who claimed to know the Lotus Sutra. He promised that if the seeker served him, he would teach the sutra. The seeker faithfully and energetically served the brahmin, but the brahmin never followed through, and instead took advantage. Nonetheless, the seeker was able to build merit dedicated to the Lotus Sutra and so was later able to encounter it. The point is not whether the teacher is perfect. *I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest Siddhartha looks perfect(ish) to us now - (he actually seems remarkably human in the Tipitaka) - only because there were generations of pious followers rounding out the rough spots and losing unflattering details to time...

Its really difficult to talk about Tientai Lotus thought without taking into account its full scheme. In the perfect teaching, cause and effect, beginning and end, while not discarded, are undermined in their literal sense. The Buddha's Original Awakening is not without cause, but is also infinitely in the past - like the end of a rainbow, forever out of reach. The same with our enlightenment - we as bodhisattvas are vowed to postpone our full enlightenment until such time as all beings are saved; if beings are infinite, then this goal is likewise infinitely far off in the future. This then in a roundabout way directs our attention on this moment, and all the dharmas play out in this moment, and this moment only. That's not novel - I think this principle itself is standard Mahayana, if not Buddhism in general, although I think this explanation is novel. Everything is then focused on the dynamics of now - what is a Buddha? What is an ordinary mortal? nominal selves are apparitions - its all circumstance and interactive dynamics. The Buddha then in a sense is the ideal embodiment of the tendency/draw toward awakening that permeates everywhere - the universal buddhanature. This could appear as a Buddha proper with 32 major characteristics. It could also appear as a father putting on rags to work alongside his long lost son; it could also appear as a Brahmin who promises to deliver a sermon on the Lotus Sutra but never does - anything that draws beings on the path to awakening. Why not a practitioner who enters the room of the Tathagata, puts on the Tathagata's robes and takes the Tathagata's seat?

We enter the room, put on the robes, and take the seat. We do our best, because if not us, then who else can take action when the beings are suffering? Do we stand around and worry that we will only lead beings to another burning house and do nothing? Or do we try, however imperfect our effort might be because really, the choice is everyone perishing fretting that we didn't train enough yet or we at least die trying to get out. Maybe some are successful.
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby nichirenista » Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:56 pm

You know, I've actually printed out some of Queequeg's posts on this forum. :twothumbsup:
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Jikan » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:20 pm

Queequeg wrote:Its really difficult to talk about Tientai Lotus thought without taking into account its full scheme.


I agree entirely. It really is an integral whole; the individual parts can't be understood adequately without reference to the overall project, and vice versa; further, each of the different aspects of Tendai Daishi's great work demands to be understood in concert with the rest of it. To my mind, and this puts me off the reservation of Nichiren's Buddhism as I understand it, TienTai Buddhism as a whole, the "full scheme," includes well-elaborated teachings on seated meditation, Amitabha practice (the famous circumambulating nembutsu), Madhyamika, and more.

I'm delighted with the way our friends in the Nichiren forum, Queequeeg in particular, have shown the strong continuity from TienTai through to contemporary Nichiren practice. There may be some important divergences too--what counts as the full scheme of the TienTai teaching may be one--and investigating these with care may help everyone understand what the particular contributions of Nichren's Buddhism are.

It's not accidental that conversations on the topic "What is this practice about really?" pivots quickly to "why this specific practice now." To the minds of many, the Dharma hasn't changed, but the times have, and difficult times call for drastic measures...
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby rory » Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:35 pm

I agree entirely. It really is an integral whole; the individual parts can't be understood adequately without reference to the overall project, and vice versa; further, each of the different aspects of Tendai Daishi's great work demands to be understood in concert with the rest of it. To my mind, and this puts me off the reservation of Nichiren's Buddhism as I understand it, TienTai Buddhism as a whole, the "full scheme," includes well-elaborated teachings on seated meditation, Amitabha practice (the famous circumambulating nembutsu), Madhyamika, and more.


quickly to "why this specific practice now." To the minds of many, the Dharma hasn't changed, but the times have, and difficult times call for drastic measures


Well this is an interesting topic Jikan. It's easy to say in Nichiren's day Daimoku was a practice that regular people could do. Women were barred from Mt. Hiei, only clerics can perform esoteric rituals, for sutra study you needed money, time and the education, seated meditation such as Shikan also required time, leisure and instruction....

Today things are much different thanks to education, the gradual equalization of the sexes, libraries and the internet and youtube. Basically we're all at the level of monks (Ven. Indrajala and I've discussed this) so yes, people do have the time, leisure and education to engage in most Tendai practices. But you need a priest and you need to be near one, and that's in my opinion an ongoing problem.
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby Queequeg » Sun Aug 10, 2014 1:34 pm

Nichirenista, I am happy that my posts are helpful to others. :) I am particularly pleased that there are dharma friends as interested in the subject as I am. Thank you for the opportunity for dialogue. Its forums like this that have been an indispensable study complement for me for years - pretty much since the early days of the internet way back in the last century. LOL. I can only be grateful that there are opportunities like this and if I can help contribute to a forum like this for others, its the least I can do.

Jikan wrote:
Queequeg wrote:Its really difficult to talk about Tientai Lotus thought without taking into account its full scheme.


I agree entirely. It really is an integral whole; the individual parts can't be understood adequately without reference to the overall project, and vice versa; further, each of the different aspects of Tendai Daishi's great work demands to be understood in concert with the rest of it. To my mind, and this puts me off the reservation of Nichiren's Buddhism as I understand it, TienTai Buddhism as a whole, the "full scheme," includes well-elaborated teachings on seated meditation, Amitabha practice (the famous circumambulating nembutsu), Madhyamika, and more.



One of the most striking things about Tientai for me was the discovery of Zhiyi's logic about mutuality and interpenetration - described in some expressions by Brook Ziporyn as "omnicentric holism". You see it in the three inclusive truths, the mutual possession of the 10 worlds, thousand factors, three thousand in a single thought, and various other teachings - opening the provisional to reveal the true, "two but not two", etc.

Nichiren did not reject the full scheme of Tientai per se, but concluded that everything but the perfect teaching could be set aside. On a practical level, I suspect that even though he did not have a problem with say, Amitabha practice as described in the Mohochikuan, there were truly pernicious interpretations of amitabha going around in his day urging people to discard everything but the Pure Land sutras and more practically, delivering a message of utter hopelessness about this world. People who do not investigate deep enough to see that Honen's message was misguided, detrimental and unfounded in scripture are also not the type to appreciate subtle distinctions like trying to explain that Zhiyi's amitabha practice is different than Honen's. In those cases, maybe you need to be like the good doctor Mahaparinirvana Sutra banning milk from the kingdom.
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby dude » Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:23 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:
There is more to this subject, of course, but as I wrote, its a long conversation.
Thank you for the explanation. Isn't there the risk, due to ignorance and one's own low/minimal capacities, of leading them from one burning house into another? I guess the logic is that if you rely completely on the words of the Buddha, as exemplified by the Lotus Sutra, then this risk is minimised?



Yes. That's why Nichiren instructs us to transmit the teaching exactly as it is, without holding anything back or adding our own ideas.
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed quote function
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Re: The Sin of Slandering the Dharma by Jacqueline Stone

Postby illarraza » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:45 pm

There is a reason why Nichiren never wrote about the finer points of practice. There are no finer points of practice. Everything is contained in the chanting of the Daimoku and shinjin [a believing mind or faith]. There is no reason to read into the teachings any oral transmission, secret or otherwise. I think I can defend this point to the readers' [and your] satisfaction.

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