Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

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SonamTashi
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Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by SonamTashi » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:06 pm

https://www.lionsroar.com/beyond-the-upper-middle-way/

I think this is a long overdue discussion. American Buddhism, and Buddhism in general in fact, has a long history of narrow association with certain classes. Throughout its history Buddhism has been associated with the noble and merchant classes. This is seen in Ashoka's promotion of Buddhism, the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road amongst merchants, and the almost complete exclusion of monasticism to well-to-do families.

For example, historically monasteries and monastics have been funded largely by donations from the families of monastics. In other words, access to monasticism has historically been associated with the monastic's family's ability to regularly donate to the monastery. There are all sorts of examples that demonstrate Buddhism's association with class. The creation of monasteries, temples, stupas, works of art and statues were historically associated with sponsorships from the merchant class and nobles/royalty as well. The reason that historical Buddhist institutions in Asia thrived and Buddhist institutions in America are barely hanging on is directly because of Buddhism's association with middle to upper class society, but with one difference: historically Buddhists of these classes were willing to donate lots of money, land, etc. for the sake of Buddhism, but Western Buddhists do not usually have the same generosity in donations, because, for better or for worse, Western convert Buddhists are averse to anything that looks like tithing.

But Buddhism's reliance on donations has a huge drawback beyond the struggle of Western Sanghas to remain open: it functionally limits and even sometimes bars lower class people from participating in Buddhism. If this reality makes you uncomfortable, you should take a look in the mirror and also ask yourself: should poor people be restricted from the dharma just because they don't have much money? This is a serious question, and I don't see how it can have any more than one answer: no. The dharma should be available for all, and working-class movements have to arise and progress for that to happen. I don't know what the answer is, but Buddhism has to somehow move beyond the donation system that limits it to middle and upper class individuals.
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Queequeg
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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Queequeg » Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:07 pm

SonamTashi wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:06 pm
https://www.lionsroar.com/beyond-the-upper-middle-way/

I think this is a long overdue discussion. American Buddhism, and Buddhism in general in fact, has a long history of narrow association with certain classes. Throughout its history Buddhism has been associated with the noble and merchant classes. This is seen in Ashoka's promotion of Buddhism, the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road amongst merchants, and the almost complete exclusion of monasticism to well-to-do families.

For example, historically monasteries and monastics have been funded largely by donations from the families of monastics. In other words, access to monasticism has historically been associated with the monastic's family's ability to regularly donate to the monastery. There are all sorts of examples that demonstrate Buddhism's association with class. The creation of monasteries, temples, stupas, works of art and statues were historically associated with sponsorships from the merchant class and nobles/royalty as well. The reason that historical Buddhist institutions in Asia thrived and Buddhist institutions in America are barely hanging on is directly because of Buddhism's association with middle to upper class society, but with one difference: historically Buddhists of these classes were willing to donate lots of money, land, etc. for the sake of Buddhism, but Western Buddhists do not usually have the same generosity in donations, because, for better or for worse, Western convert Buddhists are averse to anything that looks like tithing.

But Buddhism's reliance on donations has a huge drawback beyond the struggle of Western Sanghas to remain open: it functionally limits and even sometimes bars lower class people from participating in Buddhism. If this reality makes you uncomfortable, you should take a look in the mirror and also ask yourself: should poor people be restricted from the dharma just because they don't have much money? This is a serious question, and I don't see how it can have any more than one answer: no. The dharma should be available for all, and working-class movements have to arise and progress for that to happen. I don't know what the answer is, but Buddhism has to somehow move beyond the donation system that limits it to middle and upper class individuals.
Following up re: Soka Gakkai and its international branches, particularly in the West, but in Japan also. Their practice is based on Nichiren Shonin, a 13thc. Japanese monk.

You will find vibrant Nichiren communities in poor, minority neighborhoods across the United States. The communities in places like NY, LA, Chicago, are very diverse in terms of race - I'm not exaggerating that my eyeballs tell me at gatherings in NY, it is predominantly people of color, and I'm not counting the Japanese in attendance as POC.

I'd suggest a few reasons:

1. The teaching is simple: Direct one's devotion to the Ekayana, and everything else falls into place. They eschew guilt statues and ornate paintings going back to the founder - their honzon/ista-devata/yidam is embodied in a simple (and cheap) calligraphic mandala representing the transmission of the Lotus Sutra.

2. They don't have any reservation with the material benefits traditionally associated with lay Buddhism, and energetically encourage practice for material benefits. Only rich people find mixing material benefits and their spirituality distasteful. (See Everclear) Gotta have money to find wanting it distasteful, I think.

3. They go out and meet people where they are. They don't hold themselves back in some sort of posture of, "If they have the karma, they'll find their way here." They speak to people in their own language. They share sublime dharma in the language of the street. This goes back to Nichiren who came from an undistinguished family of fishermen (very low on the socio-economic totem pole) but, due to ability, studied at the main centers of learning in his day. Unlike other prominent teachers of the Kamakura period, he was not an aristocrat, and crassly wrote letters to people in vernacular Japanese in terms they could relate to. Some of his letters are worth a read just for the tone and mode of communication. Its not like anything else I've read in Buddhist contexts.

4. They're joyful. Nothing promotes what you do like actual proof, and the actual proof is in the joy you find among them.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Queequeg
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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Queequeg » Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:37 pm

One more note about that article... its the same labored concern you find among American liberals generally - "Gee, we stand for working class and POC, but they don't seem to respond to us!" Psst. They don't like you. You talk at them, but you don't get them.

I'm sure this article describes the hand wringing among some readers here...

When was the last time you actually had a conversation with someone who is not in your socio-economic class? Do you even have anything more than passing associations with people outside your socio-economic class?

I look forward to high Dharma beings something for more than privileged white people but the approaches in that article are not going to do it. POC and working class people just don't feel comfortable around you. Don't you get it?

Some catholic Western Buddhism will emerge, probably out of some community that is fully American and fully Buddhist for at least a few generations. Its going to take that kind of internal fluency.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:49 pm

Part (and only part) of the issue with some forms of Buddhism - particularly those that emphasize meditation, is that well..meditative Buddhism *does* lend itself more to people with free time and money, this is inescapable. It's hardwired into such teachings, and you can even find mention of it historically. I've known people with no means that were intersted, and some do it, but factually it is much harder for them. Traditions like Pureland, Nichiren, etc. have broader appeal, and you can see that in their respective communities. At least -some- of this dynamic is simply things working as intended, though there is always room to make the Dharma more accessible providing the message of a given teaching is not lost.
The dharma should be available for all, and working-class movements have to arise and progress for that to happen.
Go to a Vietnamese temple sometime, the one I've gone to (Pureland) is definitely working class.

I'd like the above to be universally true, but the fact is that people who are struggling financially and have little time are poor fits for some traditions. The only way around this wold be for those traditions to be something they are not, and that is not good neccessarily.

One place where this could change as an example though:

I have seen lay Tibetans whose practice is quite devotional, who work a lot etc. I don't think they are that into philosophy, getting and HYT empowerment as anything but a blessing, etc. They like to do their Chenrezig practice, get blessings. Often Westerners will actively put this approach down.

Within the Vajrayana in the West, there just needs to be a wider permission for people to not all do the same stuff. if an average non-Tibetan student doesn't have the funds, time, or interest to get that HYT empowerment, read a bunch of Nagarjuna or whatever, they should be able to take same the route as those lay Tibetans without being belittled. Vajrayana as one example is -supposed- to be for people of varying capacity, but factually here it's often for a certain "type" of person - moneyed, free time, intellectually inclined.

P.S. People can attend the Dharma center I go to completely for free, we do scholarships for retreats etc. It;'s still mostly upper middle class and above people, simply due to area demographics and the sort of people who are interested.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Queequeg » Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:24 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 11:49 pm
Often Westerners will actively put this approach down.
If they're putting it down, their development is deeply suspect.

Small sample but I've seen some of the worst behavior on this site from practitioners of High Dharma...

We're all human, but you'd expect better behavior from such practitioners.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by tkp67 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:44 am

If I take the same truth and offer it to the poor for a million dollars I won't sell much and if I offer it to the rich for free they won't see the value in it.

If they both know it is the same neither would want it any more.

Of course this speaks to the mind that is grasping poverty or wealth as a basis of their being.

I am sure we all have our moments even in light of practice.

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by muni » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:11 am

The dharma should be available for all, and working-class movements have to arise and progress for that to happen. I don't know what the answer is, but Buddhism has to somehow move beyond the donation system that limits it to middle and upper class individuals.
That is for sure. Having the money for each and every retreat is great but gives no guarantee. Having a warm heart and longing to understand how is beyond suffering for "all and all" could perhaps be better. Then of course there is the need for guidance. May all have that guidance, all who are suitable and all other who are not suitable get other, adapted help. No any should be abandoned, no any left without help.

Bodhicitta abandons or excludes not, impossible.
Which human beings are “fortunate and connected?” They are the ones who generate love, compassion, and devotion, as well as the commitment to remain steadfast on the path until all beings are liberated. Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches.

Not to identify oneself with something, or to associate things with the 'me,' and to see that the idea that there is a 'me,' which is distinct from things, is a delusion. H H Dalai Lama.

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:10 am

Something hovering just off the edge of the discussion so far (including the quoted article) is the fact that normal, everyday, accessible-to-all Buddhism in all traditionally-Buddhist countries is simple and essentially devotional. This is about as close as Gleig gets to it -
Lion's Roar wrote:Pure Land Buddhism developed in large part as an alternative to the elitism in monastic and scholastic forms of Buddhism. Shinran (1173–1263), the founder of Shin Buddhism, a Japanese stream of Pure Land, taught a simple practice of nembutsu (chanting the name of Amida Buddha), and elevated “ordinary” workers over scholars and monastics. A similar nonelitist rhetoric is found in his contemporary Nichiren (1222–1282), who believed that all people had the potential to attain buddhahood through chanting the daimoku, the seven-syllable title of the Lotus Sutra.
The "meditation-based lineages" she talks about are, as lay practices, a radically new kind of Buddhism. They depend critically on levels of education and leisure which have always been out of reach of most working-class people in those societies. When we think about it we might see that the new practices are (almost) out of reach for the same kinds of people in the West, and for almost the same reasons.

This should not be a surprise. Lay Christianity in the West is also a devotional religion. Adherents don't spend much time discussing theology or attending meditation retreats (yes, the Christians do have them) or analysing historical variants of their scriptures, do they? Most people are just not that interested in religion - whatever the local religion happens to be.

I'm not sure whether Buddhism will ever attract a large lay following in the West, especially in a time when religion in general is declining under the onslaught of consumerism and scientism, but IMO it will be something more like Pure Land than Vajrayana if it does.

:namaste:
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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Miroku » Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:24 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:10 am
I'm not sure whether Buddhism will ever attract a large lay following in the West, especially in a time when religion in general is declining under the onslaught of consumerism and scientism, but IMO it will be something more like Pure Land than Vajrayana if it does.

:namaste:
Kim
Honestly, I am share the feeling too like 50%. Despite being primarily a vajrayana follower one of my dreams is to introduce pure land buddhism into my country as I believe it could serve as the proper mahayana ground teachings which would be for all. The teachings are simple to practice and grasp, but also offers quite a depth of wisdom. Not to mention it is slightly more accessible to people who are used to religions being devotional mainly.

Vajrayana is an amazing system of teachings and we are oh so lucky to have it here. But there can be some problems with it and there are. In the west we are forgetting the devotional aspect of vajrayana. The simple thought of lama 24/7. We are more likely to shout "shit" than "Lama khyenno" when a car hits us and we die. Vajrayana has teachings for everyone, yet we ignore the "simple" aspects of it. And it is a shame. Seems to me like many people here want to be yogis but rarely do people focus on doing their best right here right now, including me unfortunately.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by SonamTashi » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:15 pm

Miroku wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:24 am
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:10 am
I'm not sure whether Buddhism will ever attract a large lay following in the West, especially in a time when religion in general is declining under the onslaught of consumerism and scientism, but IMO it will be something more like Pure Land than Vajrayana if it does.

:namaste:
Kim
Honestly, I am share the feeling too like 50%. Despite being primarily a vajrayana follower one of my dreams is to introduce pure land buddhism into my country as I believe it could serve as the proper mahayana ground teachings which would be for all. The teachings are simple to practice and grasp, but also offers quite a depth of wisdom. Not to mention it is slightly more accessible to people who are used to religions being devotional mainly.

Vajrayana is an amazing system of teachings and we are oh so lucky to have it here. But there can be some problems with it and there are. In the west we are forgetting the devotional aspect of vajrayana. The simple thought of lama 24/7. We are more likely to shout "shit" than "Lama khyenno" when a car hits us and we die. Vajrayana has teachings for everyone, yet we ignore the "simple" aspects of it. And it is a shame. Seems to me like many people here want to be yogis but rarely do people focus on doing their best right here right now, including me unfortunately.
I agree, and I have a similar dream. There is a group called The Utah Buddhist Fellowships which is associated with Bright Dawn Sangha and The North American Shin Buddhist Association, so it has connections to Shin and Soto Zen, but it is largely a Pure Land sangha. The man who began the group has been trained by both BDS and NASBA, and if I remember correctly he also has a masters or doctorate in Buddhist Studies. I want to eventually help them start a group in Southern Utah, where I live, but that is probably a while down the line. However, it has seemed to be quite successful in Northern Utah, so the Pure Land approach seems to resonate.

I practice Tibetan Buddhism as well, and I love it, but I think it is just as you said. Many of the simple and devotional aspects are ignored or shamed. And at least in my experience, Tibetan Buddhism seems to have a much bigger time commitment than Pure Land Buddhism, which is a huge barrier to lower-middle to lower class people who often work 50, 60 or more hours per week. For example, my teachers recommend practicing for around two hours a day. Most of the people in my sangha are older, retired folks, so this is no problem for them. Then there's the money issue. I'm very fortunate, because I'm able to serve my sangha in other ways, setting things up, taking things down, etc. and that allows me to often participate with the costs of classes, retreats and donations reduced or eliminated. But my sangha is tiny, and if there were more people in my position I wouldn't have this many opportunities.

So these to me are the first barriers against working class people that I usually think of. Time, money, and a third one would be location. Oftentimes sanghas are not in easily accessible locations for working class people.

Kim: I disagree a little that people most people aren't interested in religion. Certainly there are more and more people every year who aren't interested. But I think the biggest issue right now is that people don't have time to be interested in religion. It is one of the reasons working class people sometimes ignore politics as well. People simply do not have enough time to learn and study these kinds of things in a Capitalist society.

And that is part of what I mean when I say working class movements need to arise to make Buddhism accessible to the lower class. While devotional forms of Buddhism, like Pure Land, Nichiren/SGI, devotional Tibetan Buddhist methods, etc. are an important part too, worker's movements need to gain more power in society to fight for things like better pay, less working hours, etc. and, imo, eventually the eradication of capitalism. I don't want this to become a socialism vs. capitalism thread though, so I'd prefer to focus on general worker's rights and more accessible forms of Buddhism for now.
:bow: :buddha1: :bow: :anjali: :meditate:

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by tkp67 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:02 pm

I agree to be delusional but I have great faith in the buddha, dharma and humanities capacity to know it. I think it is already happening but because the adaptations are not "seemingly traditional" so they are hard to recognize as such.

Seemingly traditional means the way it spread in generations past and the reason is it is spreading in the same way if we take relativity into account. The big differential from now to a few generations outside of geopolitical is technology. Electricity is a wink of the eye even in the timeline of mankind's written history let alone the time between the time Buddha first appeared and now.

This means the differences in how it is spread (say meditation developed by a ex monk in an app) are relative to the people, their minds and their environments. They spread accordingly. This type of adaptation is new and while it it a component we have yet to measure how it "turns the wheel" for those who encounter it, bringing them closer to dharma. This result of the future perceptions and how they are led to emancipation is still empty.

The one most transcendental thing about the Buddha's teachings over his lifetime is that they appeal to the unfolding and unknown conditions of humanity equally over the term and throughout. It is as it his mind is an open algebraic equation with which is in accord to the laws in such a way it can reconcile our relative existence to ultimate reality. Our interconnection and dependent origin have a fractal nature to them, as does all life on earth. This wisdom of Buddha's knew it before it manifested in order to have the medicine of the mind needed later to access it.

It seems to me that the Buddha built motivation in the teachings according to the minds that would embrace them. In the degenerate age these will differ because of how minds are reflected in this age creating a challenge.

Perhaps the best thing one can do in this degenerate age is uphold the dharma with greater ambition because the teachings lead to emancipation of sentient beings in all ages regardless of how those ages are perceived to those sentient beings at the time.

So I simple pose the question In this age where perception is more clouded do we need to shine brighter in our own lives? or is my faith based in the teachings grandiose?

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Queequeg » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:34 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:10 am
Something hovering just off the edge of the discussion so far (including the quoted article) is the fact that normal, everyday, accessible-to-all Buddhism in all traditionally-Buddhist countries is simple and essentially devotional.
I think there is also an ethical aspect and a narrative aspect (in the sense of informing experience with a Buddhist meaning). There are a few Sravakayana Sutta/Sutra addressed to householders - they basically tell lay people - fulfill your responsibilities, carry out the rites appropriate to your station in life, be good, be generous, be kind. You see, especially in Theravada countries the emphasis on Jataka tales which relate the kinds of problems faced in ordinary lay life (sometimes in the form of talking animals, but then I think of those stories as the ancient equivalent of Sesame Street) and relate handling them with propriety with the eventual attainment of Buddhahood. Lay life is explicitly brought into the narrative of the continuum of the Buddhist path.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by PeterC » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:32 pm

There’s a few good articles in that series. A bit too many uses of words like “intersectionality” though. The one about Asian-American Buddhists is particularly good.

I’ve always found the idea of “American Buddhism”, unless it’s used in a sociological sense, to be...vaguely ridiculous? Would someone ever talk about how Belgian Buddhism needs to evolve differently from Swiss Buddhism, or how English Buddhism really isn’t suited to Australians?

That said, the criticism is a fair one. Sanghas tend to homogenize. They can become unwelcoming to outsiders. I don’t think anyone has an obligation to proselytize but I always find it disappointing when sanghas act like social clubs.

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by tkp67 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:37 pm

If I look at as identifying American Buddhism as if it is by volition, yes it sounds incredibly superficial and cheap.

If I look at it as identifying the state of propagation relative to a culture, as in the american adaptation of Buddhism it sounds ok.

When I subliminally identify as buddhist the first arises, when I do not the later arises.

Just how it works for me.

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:42 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:34 pm
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:10 am
Something hovering just off the edge of the discussion so far (including the quoted article) is the fact that normal, everyday, accessible-to-all Buddhism in all traditionally-Buddhist countries is simple and essentially devotional.
I think there is also an ethical aspect and a narrative aspect (in the sense of informing experience with a Buddhist meaning). There are a few Sravakayana Sutta/Sutra addressed to householders - they basically tell lay people - fulfill your responsibilities, carry out the rites appropriate to your station in life, be good, be generous, be kind. You see, especially in Theravada countries the emphasis on Jataka tales which relate the kinds of problems faced in ordinary lay life (sometimes in the form of talking animals, but then I think of those stories as the ancient equivalent of Sesame Street) and relate handling them with propriety with the eventual attainment of Buddhahood. Lay life is explicitly brought into the narrative of the continuum of the Buddhist path.
Yes - devotion upwards, moral guidance downwards.
Just as in Christianity, at least in mainstream denominations up to at least the middle of last century.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by tobes » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:50 am

If one undertakes a Buddhist analysis rather than purely a western/sociological one, it is necessary to ask: what are the causes and conditions upon which rebirth with stable material conditions depend?

i.e. if an upper-middle class person meets with the Dharma in this life, then as a first step, a Buddhist analysis has to see this as auspicious karma manifesting.

This may not be the only step, but it is certainly a necessary one.

I say this as someone who has very regularly fallen into a different view on these kinds of questions.

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by jake » Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:44 am

Related to some of the topics mentioned in this thread is the newest issue of The Journal of Global Buddhism which deals with Buddhism AND Economics (different from Schumacher's Buddhist Economics).

I've begun reading the articles and have found them quite good, particularly those that explore the shift from merit-based economics to the contemporary economies and how Buddhism is having to adjust.

You can find all the articles (open access) at: www.globalbuddhism.org

Perhaps this will be worthy of a stand-alone discussion if enough folks read them.

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Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by Queequeg » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:17 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:42 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:34 pm
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:10 am
Something hovering just off the edge of the discussion so far (including the quoted article) is the fact that normal, everyday, accessible-to-all Buddhism in all traditionally-Buddhist countries is simple and essentially devotional.
I think there is also an ethical aspect and a narrative aspect (in the sense of informing experience with a Buddhist meaning). There are a few Sravakayana Sutta/Sutra addressed to householders - they basically tell lay people - fulfill your responsibilities, carry out the rites appropriate to your station in life, be good, be generous, be kind. You see, especially in Theravada countries the emphasis on Jataka tales which relate the kinds of problems faced in ordinary lay life (sometimes in the form of talking animals, but then I think of those stories as the ancient equivalent of Sesame Street) and relate handling them with propriety with the eventual attainment of Buddhahood. Lay life is explicitly brought into the narrative of the continuum of the Buddhist path.
Yes - devotion upwards, moral guidance downwards.
Just as in Christianity, at least in mainstream denominations up to at least the middle of last century.

:namaste:
Kim
I was taught that "dharma" comes from a verb which means to hold. I've always considered that Dharma is something that holds us in a shape/pattern that leads to enlightenment, and that the path leads from utter ignorance to awakening. It doesn't just start where the Brahma Viharas end, but encompasses them in a complete path. Back to the point... seems communities have a tendency to myopia, ordering the world around themselves and their needs... I get the sense some teachings encourage and exacerbate this natural tendency... ideas like thinking the whole world is just a movie projection, and putting off compassionate action until one has figured it all out for themselves and become a super being - "How can I help others when I'm drowning myself? I will quickly learn to swim, and then I'll help." Whereas service to others is a central teaching in some Christian churches, despite the imperfection of the believer. It seems Buddhists have not developed that muscle very well, in the West or in the countries where it has been cultivated for centuries. I've often wondered at the lack of charitable impulse among Buddhists. Where are the Buddhist soup kitchens and orphanages? The hospices, the outreach?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

tkp67
Posts: 595
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 5:42 am

Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by tkp67 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:56 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:17 pm
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:42 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:34 pm


I think there is also an ethical aspect and a narrative aspect (in the sense of informing experience with a Buddhist meaning). There are a few Sravakayana Sutta/Sutra addressed to householders - they basically tell lay people - fulfill your responsibilities, carry out the rites appropriate to your station in life, be good, be generous, be kind. You see, especially in Theravada countries the emphasis on Jataka tales which relate the kinds of problems faced in ordinary lay life (sometimes in the form of talking animals, but then I think of those stories as the ancient equivalent of Sesame Street) and relate handling them with propriety with the eventual attainment of Buddhahood. Lay life is explicitly brought into the narrative of the continuum of the Buddhist path.
Yes - devotion upwards, moral guidance downwards.
Just as in Christianity, at least in mainstream denominations up to at least the middle of last century.

:namaste:
Kim
I was taught that "dharma" comes from a verb which means to hold. I've always considered that Dharma is something that holds us in a shape/pattern that leads to enlightenment, and that the path leads from utter ignorance to awakening. It doesn't just start where the Brahma Viharas end, but encompasses them in a complete path. Back to the point... seems communities have a tendency to myopia, ordering the world around themselves and their needs... I get the sense some teachings encourage and exacerbate this natural tendency... ideas like thinking the whole world is just a movie projection, and putting off compassionate action until one has figured it all out for themselves and become a super being - "How can I help others when I'm drowning myself? I will quickly learn to swim, and then I'll help." Whereas service to others is a central teaching in some Christian churches, despite the imperfection of the believer. It seems Buddhists have not developed that muscle very well, in the West or in the countries where it has been cultivated for centuries. I've often wondered at the lack of charitable impulse among Buddhists. Where are the Buddhist soup kitchens and orphanages? The hospices, the outreach?
I experienced this in my lifetime.

The realization of the gods realm for the fruits necessary in the preparation of transcending that realm through elimination.

That seems to be the paradox of the buddhist cosmology that is so difficult to grasp.

Realization is function of mind, all realization serves the realms, the realms are as real and not real as realized. Once we realized all realms and eliminate participation thereof we can see how they are reflected in the minds of others in every day cause and effect.

Realization is the function that we instinctively engage to navigate life. It is married to the senses and intoxicated by them through desire that rises from the senses.

It seems clear enough now I am almost willing to deny it hasn't always been part of me, then I realized it is because what I experiencing is clarity exposed as I let go the temporal existence that is self.

It all comes around in regards to this topic when the vehicle was freely offered and supported on the internet.

Because my search has always been so personally existential I refused to let materialism mingle with practice. I have always given my selfless compassion freely without expectation of return because that would evoke bad karma.

This is why I am so hopefully that we are experiencing propagation past the ivory towers that made them accessible in the first place. My experience is resultant of just that. It brought me here as incomplete as I am for the sake of furtherance. In my heart and mind it only concrete my understand that we are all just clear light waiting to be realized. To think otherwise now seems the true delusion.

:anjali:

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well wisher
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Location: Canada

Re: Beyond the Upper Middle Way (Lion's Roar)

Post by well wisher » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:40 pm

I just wanted to point out that: traditional Buddhism practices are not limited to the middle-upper class, but maybe tilted heavily in favour of the impoverished, standing up for the rights as champions of the poor and disadvantaged.

In that case, the traditional Buddhist style monastics would be a great fit for poor beggars! (Although maybe more along the lines of Thervadan / Pali style).
Come on, traditionally we have mendicant bald Buddhist monks begging for food in their alms bowl! It is a perfect fit for the lower / poor poverty class, not just the middle or upper class. Life is not all about the money.

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