Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Anonymous X
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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Anonymous X » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:58 am

Matylda wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:
Matylda wrote:

Expression is some sort of puzzle for me.. what does it mean exactly? what worries me is rather an input of nondharma notions and strong hold on culture delusions, which may easily be imported before dharma will be really understood..
Your statement can also apply to Japanese delusions. Certainly Ch'an changed when it was adapted in Japan.
In a way yes in a way no... there was big difference in adopting zen in China, Japan and the West...
How so? Please explain.

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jul 04, 2017 4:27 pm

Anonymous X wrote:
Matylda wrote:
Anonymous X wrote: Your statement can also apply to Japanese delusions. Certainly Ch'an changed when it was adapted in Japan.
In a way yes in a way no... there was big difference in adopting zen in China, Japan and the West...
How so? Please explain.
For one, in the case of Chan --> Zen, it was largely a monastic movement among highly educated Buddhists. Zen -->West, largely nonmonastic, poorly educated Buddhists.
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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Anonymous X » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:
Matylda wrote:
In a way yes in a way no... there was big difference in adopting zen in China, Japan and the West...
How so? Please explain.
For one, in the case of Chan --> Zen, it was largely a monastic movement among highly educated Buddhists. Zen -->West, largely nonmonastic, poorly educated Buddhists.
Ch'an to Zen, was a long process. It probably took generations if not centuries and then the Japonification of it probably looked a lot different than the original Chinese version. Each culture will put their stamp on it. And, if someone genuine rises up out of it, it will change even more because they will not continue the 'old ways' in a new milieu. It's rare to have a genuine master anywhere, but that is another matter altogether.

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Matylda » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:22 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Anonymous X wrote:
Matylda wrote:
In a way yes in a way no... there was big difference in adopting zen in China, Japan and the West...
How so? Please explain.
For one, in the case of Chan --> Zen, it was largely a monastic movement among highly educated Buddhists. Zen -->West, largely nonmonastic, poorly educated Buddhists.
Second part is very true, the first does not mention another important aspect... so one has to understand that transmission of zen in the East was state sponsored event. Moreover rulers depended voluntarily on well known masters who - like in China - were appointed to the rank of National Masters. This was obligation for any choosen teacher and refusal was equal with death sentence by the emperor or king or whoever kept the power. Like shoguns in Japan.. more: those masteres did not serve only as state teachers but also they were judges for the state what is and what is not real dharma.. including zen.

For example, when the rules of soto zen shiho-dharma transmission were changed in Japan, shogunate called on most prominent masters to decide if it is proper or not. Such issues were not decided based on private point of view, but had to be well grounded in scriptures, tradition etc. Shogunate decided in the 17th century about who is rinzai master or soto master, about standards, scope of koans etc.

who cares about it in the West now? I was witness when some letters arrived in Japan with questions about certain teachers and if they were what they claimed.. answers - those which I know - were negative.. what would happen in ancient Japan or China? capital penalty for offenders. What would happen to teachers proclaiming weird, quasi psychological, or completely out of reason strange teachings claiming they are zen or any other dharma? let say banishment would be the lightest penalty..

Considring it, as you wrote about ' poorly educated Buddhists' in the West, I guess that some of so called zen teachers probably would be severly punished what would shock us, if we think about western notions of democracy, freedom of speech, faith, expression etc. etc.... same could happen to others who claim to be masters of certain popular traditions, but in fact are not authorised...

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by MalaBeads » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:06 pm

Matylda wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Anonymous X wrote: How so? Please explain.
For one, in the case of Chan --> Zen, it was largely a monastic movement among highly educated Buddhists. Zen -->West, largely nonmonastic, poorly educated Buddhists.
Second part is very true, the first does not mention another important aspect... so one has to understand that transmission of zen in the East was state sponsored event. Moreover rulers depended voluntarily on well known masters who - like in China - were appointed to the rank of National Masters. This was obligation for any choosen teacher and refusal was equal with death sentence by the emperor or king or whoever kept the power. Like shoguns in Japan.. more: those masteres did not serve only as state teachers but also they were judges for the state what is and what is not real dharma.. including zen.

For example, when the rules of soto zen shiho-dharma transmission were changed in Japan, shogunate called on most prominent masters to decide if it is proper or not. Such issues were not decided based on private point of view, but had to be well grounded in scriptures, tradition etc. Shogunate decided in the 17th century about who is rinzai master or soto master, about standards, scope of koans etc.

who cares about it in the West now? I was witness when some letters arrived in Japan with questions about certain teachers and if they were what they claimed.. answers - those which I know - were negative.. what would happen in ancient Japan or China? capital penalty for offenders. What would happen to teachers proclaiming weird, quasi psychological, or completely out of reason strange teachings claiming they are zen or any other dharma? let say banishment would be the lightest penalty..

Considring it, as you wrote about ' poorly educated Buddhists' in the West, I guess that some of so called zen teachers probably would be severly punished what would shock us, if we think about western notions of democracy, freedom of speech, faith, expression etc. etc.... same could happen to others who claim to be masters of certain popular traditions, but in fact are not authorised...

My understanding (and I could be wrong because I didn't know him) was that Suzuki-Roshi wanted to come to America because he was dissatisfied with the state of zen in Japan. From what Matilda just wrote it is easy to see why.
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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Meido » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:07 pm

Malcolm wrote:...largely nonmonastic, poorly educated Buddhists.
Poorly educated is a problem.

As for nonmonastic: it is developing, slowly. But something not to be forgotten is that Zen practice in the West, though largely lay, still revolves around monastic and retreat practices. Zen folks here are not just showing up when they need funerals. They are going to sesshin, doing sanzen for years, doing things that laypeople in Japan mostly don't do these days.

It's famously been said that Western Zen practitioners are something odd, in-between ordained and lay. My observation is that for many this is true. It is not a bad thing in my opinion. Of course Chan/Zen has a strong tradition of accomplished lay practitioners, along with a hermit tradition and a general history of loose relationship with vinaya, so there is precedent for flexibility.

My prediction on the Japanese-Zen-in-the-West side at least is that in the near future there will indeed be a dozen or so monasteries here that are of sufficient rigor to serve as legitimate sodo. As that happens, my hope is that standards for ordination will tighten. There will always be some folks calling themselves "priest" or whatever...but if the general recognition is that 1-3 years of retreat - at least two ango - are the norm for that, we may be able to push back against the empty title crowd. WIth that, my hope actually is that ordination will become something that very few people choose, as a true vocation. But as far as who is encouraged to attend things like sesshin and dig into practice with nothing held back, the lines between lay and ordained - and between genders - will have little meaning.

It may also be that groups going in the opposite direction from this - the Integral/Big Mind (or anything else with a (tm) symbol), universalist, Zen-as-psychotherapy, Zen for business leadership, etc. groups - will drift further and further away into realms that use the word "Zen", but are in fact something else entirely. They can make all the money, more power to 'em.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:48 pm

A related issue I think:


The general iconoclasm of Zen has a completely different context within a Buddhist culture than it does in a secular one with protestant leanings.

You take something like "if you see the Buddha on the road kill him", plop it in Western culture, and you end up with people railing against tradition, formal teachings, saying you don't need a teacher, don't need to study etc. It is very hard to get nuance when most people in this culture are going to read the purpose of such things as simply an outright dismissal of tradition, formal practice, etc.
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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:59 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:A related issue I think:


The general iconoclasm of Zen has a completely different context within a Buddhist culture than it does in a secular one with protestant leanings.

You take something like "if you see the Buddha on the road kill him",.
Yes, while forgetting the saying has its roots in the story of Angulimala, the mass murderer.
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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Meido » Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:29 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:You take something like "if you see the Buddha on the road kill him", plop it in Western culture, and you end up with people railing against tradition, formal teachings, saying you don't need a teacher, don't need to study etc. It is very hard to get nuance when most people in this culture are going to read the purpose of such things as simply an outright dismissal of tradition, formal practice, etc.
Well, honestly, the folks most vocally iconoclastic in this way don't often actually show up to learn/practice Zen, since they are certain they don't need to. If they do show up, they rarely return.

I don't know how much of this tendency is due to actual misinterpretation or misuse of Zen iconoclasm, and how much is just rationalized laziness and desire for comfort i.e. habitually wishing to mold conditions, activities, and practice forms to oneself, rather than oneself to conditions, activities, and practice forms.

When folks come in who are only slightly bound up with such notions, though, the solution I've found thus far is to point out the base utility - rather than aesthetic or cultural value - of inherited practice forms. Such utility is not always apparent, for example the manner in which the obi (belt) in traditional practice clothing is used to train the breath...something blue jeans or yoga pants just aren't good for. Approached in this way, the light often comes on.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by CedarTree » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:12 pm

Meido wrote:
Malcolm wrote:...largely nonmonastic, poorly educated Buddhists.
Poorly educated is a problem.

As for nonmonastic: it is developing, slowly. But something not to be forgotten is that Zen practice in the West, though largely lay, still revolves around monastic and retreat practices. Zen folks here are not just showing up when they need funerals. They are going to sesshin, doing sanzen for years, doing things that laypeople in Japan mostly don't do these days.

It's famously been said that Western Zen practitioners are something odd, in-between ordained and lay. My observation is that for many this is true. It is not a bad thing in my opinion. Of course Chan/Zen has a strong tradition of accomplished lay practitioners, along with a hermit tradition and a general history of loose relationship with vinaya, so there is precedent for flexibility.

My prediction on the Japanese-Zen-in-the-West side at least is that in the near future there will indeed be a dozen or so monasteries here that are of sufficient rigor to serve as legitimate sodo. As that happens, my hope is that standards for ordination will tighten. There will always be some folks calling themselves "priest" or whatever...but if the general recognition is that 1-3 years of retreat - at least two ango - are the norm for that, we may be able to push back against the empty title crowd. WIth that, my hope actually is that ordination will become something that very few people choose, as a true vocation. But as far as who is encouraged to attend things like sesshin and dig into practice with nothing held back, the lines between lay and ordained - and between genders - will have little meaning.

It may also be that groups going in the opposite direction from this - the Integral/Big Mind (or anything else with a (tm) symbol), universalist, Zen-as-psychotherapy, Zen for business leadership, etc. groups - will drift further and further away into realms that use the word "Zen", but are in fact something else entirely. They can make all the money, more power to 'em.

~ Meido
One thing I really appreciate is how Malcolm can call it for what it is. Zen in the west has the big trapping of becoming a hip word for new-age. It's a sad reality that in a lot of cases the substance just isn't there. Nor are the teachers qualified or well practiced.

Memorize a few quotes of "Every day life is practice", "You are already a Buddha", "Mu!" and baam your good.

However Meido I think you touch upon something that is incredibly amazing to see. There really is a movement happening to develop Zen in America and hopefully broader North America. Places from well respected lineages like your Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery, Shoryu Bradley's Gyobutsuji Soto Zen Monastery, and the international Tenpyozan practice center should hopefully bring the best of each lineage together and hopefully the situation can get remedied :)

Meido you and others like you deserve a lot of respect for putting in the work and getting such great developments happening. Great blessing for years to come and for our generation and the next.

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Meido » Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:54 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

There are actually a few very qualified Western Zen teachers, including senior lay folks who may not have teacher status but are well qualified regardless. Many of the really good people fly quietly under the radar.

Once anything gains traction culturally of course someone will co-opt and commodify it. Hence the embarrassing parade of Zen this and Zen that. More recently Dzogchen has hit the radar, so one hopes it doesn't happen to the same extent there.

In general, it has to be slow and bottom up instead of the next-best-Zen-thing that we can sell at weekend seminars. Right now, there are people presenting Zen like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_FnanGEgR4

We need our own people like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmNx5hAREok

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Matylda » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:39 am

MalaBeads wrote: My understanding (and I could be wrong because I didn't know him) was that Suzuki-Roshi wanted to come to America because he was dissatisfied with the state of zen in Japan. From what Matilda just wrote it is easy to see why.
No one in Japan says that is happy with the condition of zen over there. Japanese are harsh in criticising the state of zen...
however as far as I know Suzuki Roshi went to SF as appointed priest by headquarters of soto zen, to serve Japanese community at the Japanese temple... he did it like many others did and do...
His merit was in opening the temple gates to Americans at that time very interesed in zen... I have seen docu movie when he sent young Richard Baker to Jpan for training stressing that he should learn Japanese to receive proper education in the monastery etc. so it is sort of strange to send most promissing disciple to place one is not stisfied with.

As for time and causes of zen transmission I wrote how it was in the ancient past, today it is resposibility of zen schools themselves for education of young priests... the state has nothing to do with it anymore... but what was shaped like 800 y ago or even earlier gave strong foundations which protected pretty well against weird develpment. Today people can say whatever they like, teach whatever they THINK and call all this junk ZEN. Scary...

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:28 am

Meido wrote: I don't know how much of this tendency is due to actual misinterpretation or misuse of Zen iconoclasm, and how much is just rationalized laziness and desire for comfort i.e. habitually wishing to mold conditions, activities, and practice forms to oneself, rather than oneself to conditions, activities, and practice forms.
IME those things often co exist, and feed off each other..speaking from personal experience, not just my complaining about others.
When folks come in who are only slightly bound up with such notions, though, the solution I've found thus far is to point out the base utility - rather than aesthetic or cultural value - of inherited practice forms. Such utility is not always apparent, for example the manner in which the obi (belt) in traditional practice clothing is used to train the breath...something blue jeans or yoga pants just aren't good for. Approached in this way, the light often comes on.

~ Meido
Sounds awesome;)
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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Astus » Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:30 pm

Matylda wrote:Today people can say whatever they like, teach whatever they THINK and call all this junk ZEN. Scary...
I don't see how it is scary to have freedom of religion, but you can find most of the traditional state control for instance in China. Otherwise, aside from persecuting Buddhists, weird things might come up as well, like the Sanghyang Adi Buddha. Also, the fusion of various forms of nationalism and Buddhism in Asia is also a product of state control (e.g. Buddhism and Japanese Nationalism: A Sad Chronicle of Complicity, found in The Origins of Religious Violence: An Asian Perspective).
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Matylda » Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:21 pm

Astus wrote:
Matylda wrote:Today people can say whatever they like, teach whatever they THINK and call all this junk ZEN. Scary...
I don't see how it is scary to have freedom of religion, but you can find most of the traditional state control for instance in China. Otherwise, aside from persecuting Buddhists, weird things might come up as well, like the Sanghyang Adi Buddha. Also, the fusion of various forms of nationalism and Buddhism in Asia is also a product of state control (e.g. Buddhism and Japanese Nationalism: A Sad Chronicle of Complicity, found in The Origins of Religious Violence: An Asian Perspective).
I have never heard of anyone promoting Japanese nationalism, which had strong causes in the XIX and XX century... look at these causes in actions of all colonial powers in Asia please. It is not entirely Japanese fault.

As for today's China, I think that the idea you present is simply invalid.. I did not write about XX or XXI centry in Asia, but about how it was during the transmission of zen teachings. What scary is, is not religious freedom, but freedom to say uneducated folks whatever one thinks and sell it nicely wrapped in ZEN decoration. It does not include only zen tradition, other traditions are under same threat by fakes, however zen is simply not represented by Japanese teachers in the West.. there were only few...

Tibetan tradition is on the contrary represented by many lamas and Rinpoches in the West, so it is much easier to see what is true dharma and what is not. With zen it simply happens that the education level is simply very low, knowledge is on the verge of ignorance. Many teachings I could find are on the level of POV, far away from genuine zen teaching. Lack of training, lack of proper experience an realisation makes so called 'zen' very strange.

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Astus » Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:41 pm

Matylda wrote:What scary is, is not religious freedom, but freedom to say uneducated folks whatever one thinks and sell it nicely wrapped in ZEN decoration.
That is what freedom of religion means.
zen is simply not represented by Japanese teachers in the West
There might be a few Zen groups without direct connection to Japanese teachers, but it seems that the majority of them has Japanese origins. And since most of the teachers were authorised by Japanese ones, the current quality is not some independent event.
Tibetan tradition is on the contrary represented by many lamas and Rinpoches in the West, so it is much easier to see what is true dharma and what is not.
What constitutes true Dharma should not be defined by the person saying it. So perhaps the four realiances should be one of the first things people learn of Buddhism.
With zen it simply happens that the education level is simply very low, knowledge is on the verge of ignorance.
That is most likely what appeals to many, that in Zen you don't study things, you just sit.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Matylda » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:32 pm

Astus wrote:
Matylda wrote:What scary is, is not religious freedom, but freedom to say uneducated folks whatever one thinks and sell it nicely wrapped in ZEN decoration.
That is what freedom of religion means.
Buddha did not teach freedom of religion... it is recent concept, which is not bad. But in the context of dharma talking freely nonsense is really bad..

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Norwegian » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:36 pm

Matylda wrote:
Astus wrote:
Matylda wrote:What scary is, is not religious freedom, but freedom to say uneducated folks whatever one thinks and sell it nicely wrapped in ZEN decoration.
That is what freedom of religion means.
Buddha did not teach freedom of religion... it is recent concept, which is not bad. But in the context of dharma talking freely nonsense is really bad..
Agreed.

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Tuybachau » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:40 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:A related issue I think:


The general iconoclasm of Zen has a completely different context within a Buddhist culture than it does in a secular one with protestant leanings.

You take something like "if you see the Buddha on the road kill him",.
Yes, while forgetting the saying has its roots in the story of Angulimala, the mass murderer.
Linji's saying has nothing to do with the story of Angulimala.

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Re: Mahamudra same as Shikantaza

Post by Astus » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:42 pm

Matylda wrote:Buddha did not teach freedom of religion
Did he teach then to restrict the beliefs of other people? Did he establish an authoritative institution to govern religion? Did he advise rulers to support only some but not other religious groups?
it is recent concept
The 12th major rock edict of King Ashoka:

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, honors both ascetics and the householders of all religions, and he honors them with gifts and honors of various kinds. But Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values this -- that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions. Growth in essentials can be done in different ways, but all of them have as their root restraint in speech, that is, not praising one's own religion, or condemning the religion of others without good cause. And if there is cause for criticism, it should be done in a mild way. But it is better to honor other religions for this reason. By so doing, one's own religion benefits, and so do other religions, while doing otherwise harms one's own religion and the religions of others. Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought "Let me glorify my own religion," only harms his own religion. Therefore contact (between religions) is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions.
Those who are content with their own religion should be told this: Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions. And to this end many are working -- Dhamma Mahamatras, Mahamatras in charge of the women's quarters, officers in charge of outlying areas, and other such officers. And the fruit of this is that one's own religion grows and the Dhamma is illuminated also.

in the context of dharma talking freely nonsense is really bad
However, there is no single person or organisation to tell what is nonsense and what is not. Already in India there were 18/20 early schools, and more appeared later and in other countries. If there had been only one group that decided things, likely Mahayana could not have ever emerged, not to mention all the numerous changes and reforms over the centuries.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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