Post Truth World

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Queequeg
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Post Truth World

Post by Queequeg » Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:16 pm

Cohen makes some excellent points about the demise of facts and its effect.



Another Cohen on the end of truth.



Here's a question.

Do you think Buddhist discourse, particularly on emptiness and anatman has the potential to exacerbate or heal the collapse of truth in our modern society?

Prompted by invocation of flat Earth theory here on DW.
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: Post Truth World

Post by ShantiPeace » Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:26 pm

Heal, because it's based on logic, (Buddhist logic), and equanimity. There's one thing that seems to stand out more than almost anything else in studying scriptures, and that's the principle of equipoise, peace, non-reactivity.

This would also be useful in every endeavor. Working heavy equipment, walking, no matter what, to be calm is always beneficial. (Even in the midst of activity or rigorous activity.)

Because of this, I would say it certainly is a beneificial factor.

God is alive, Magic is alive. (Cohen) :smile:

And of course, the emphasis on metta and so forth.

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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Könchok Thrinley » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:57 pm

Depends really. Dharma is like a really effective medicine, in the right hands it heals, in the wrong hands it is a poison. I am afraid that we might be slowly descending into more madness and confusion, not sure who to trust and more and more coming to wrong conclusions using our "brains", as the entire flat earth theory discourse shows.
“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

Formerly known as Miroku.

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by tkp67 » Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:01 pm

Miroku wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:57 pm
Depends really. Dharma is like a really effective medicine, in the right hands it heals, in the wrong hands it is a poison. I am afraid that we might be slowly descending into more madness and confusion, not sure who to trust and more and more coming to wrong conclusions using our "brains", as the entire flat earth theory discourse shows.
Another way to look at it is as revealing of human nature in accordance to the realms.

what is the effect of dharma on minds that are adherent to specific realms? If someone is on the evil paths is it wrong to think they won't pervert dharma to their fulfill their desires instead of being released from them?

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by ShantiPeace » Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:35 pm

Hello all.

Yesterday I was thinking about this.

Remember how we dealt with magazines and (near) perfect images of people?

I.e., the spectrum of beauty had broadened from a few hundred, or thousand, to millions and billions?

Anyway, it occurred to me this has increased even further.

But- people have also become more accepting of different levels of beauty in many cases.

-- just a thought, about what we had noticed earlier, even more.

Another point is that more and more amazing people are being discovered...

A person named Laurent (I forget the last name) is near to graduating, at age 9....

He wants to go into cybernetic limbs.

The main point is that many new things are happening, with many trends and so forth.

"Future shock" is maybe softened by the fact that people are more connected and so forth...

All in good time. :)

I look forward to seeing peoples' replies.

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:18 am

Agree with Miroku.

I went to a Buddhism conference today, only stayed for two talks. The second, by an ordained Western teacher, made the point that 'Nirvāṇa is natural, suffering is an-natural, compassion is natural, hatred is un-natural', or something along those lines. Everyone nodded in agreement and warmly applauded it. I thought it was completely mistaken, dharma-lite, consumer buddhism. In actual fact, Buddhism is 'going against the current'. It is natural to want sense-gratification, more pleasure, fat and sugar, career advancement, caring for your nearest and dearest. It is not natural to practice meditation and self-restraint.


Just wanted to get that off my chest. :offtopic:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by jake » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:23 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:18 am
Agree with Miroku.

I went to a Buddhism conference today, only stayed for two talks. The second, by an ordained Western teacher, made the point that 'Nirvāṇa is natural, suffering is an-natural, compassion is natural, hatred is un-natural', or something along those lines. Everyone nodded in agreement and warmly applauded it. I thought it was completely mistaken, dharma-lite, consumer buddhism. In actual fact, Buddhism is 'going against the current'. It is natural to want sense-gratification, more pleasure, fat and sugar, career advancement, caring for your nearest and dearest. It is not natural to practice meditation and self-restraint.


Just wanted to get that off my chest. :offtopic:
Thanks for sharing, sounds frustrating indeed. There does seem to be a fair bit of the neo-liberalisation of meditation, like what you mention above. I'm reminded of an article I read this morning: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/h ... al-problem

Perhaps off-topic for this thread, but I find myself still wondering if any sort of exposure to buddhist concepts is better than waiting until there is an introduction/exposure to a solid Buddhist teaching. Things like mindfulness, "pragmatic" buddhism, etc. I don't know.

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:44 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:18 am
Agree with Miroku.

I went to a Buddhism conference today, only stayed for two talks. The second, by an ordained Western teacher, made the point that 'Nirvāṇa is natural, suffering is an-natural, compassion is natural, hatred is un-natural', or something along those lines. Everyone nodded in agreement and warmly applauded it. I thought it was completely mistaken, dharma-lite, consumer buddhism. In actual fact, Buddhism is 'going against the current'. It is natural to want sense-gratification, more pleasure, fat and sugar, career advancement, caring for your nearest and dearest. It is not natural to practice meditation and self-restraint.
I forget which lama said it, meditation is the mind's natural state.
I understand what you are saying. You are correct, Buddhism is 'going against the current'.
But the current is not the natural state,
otherwise, it wouldn't be problematic, would it?
If the natural state of water and air were polluted, then polluting them wouldn't cause any environmental problems.
Likewise, the natural state of mind is to be at peace, which is why all sentient beings constantly crave whatever is their version of
"peace of mind", which is contentment, freedom from suffering, from boredom, from fear, etc.
and perfect peace of mind is nirvana, which is also why the nature of all beings is tatathataghaba, Buddha-nature.

Wanting sense-gratification, more pleasure, fat and sugar, career advancement, and any other pursuit you can mention,
they are all motivated, ultimately, by exactly the same thing. Most of the terrible acts people commit are also motivated by the same thing:
People think that these external things will bring freedom from suffering, contentment, peace of mind.
As The Buddha taught, they do, but only briefly, because they lack inherent substance.
As soon as the conditions change, they no longer bring joy.

If career advancement brought lasting happiness, then one would only need to be promoted one time, or get only one pay raise, ever.
If eating (anything) produced lasting satisfaction, you would have only needed to eat once in your life.
Even your happiest memories, if they are recalled during times of grief, are the causes of almost-unbearable suffering.
and caring for your nearest and dearest is an expression of natural compassion.

It is "natural" to want sense-gratification, as you say, but only because it is natural to want to be happy.
Buddhist teachings have no disagreement there.
What Buddhism argues, however, is that the mind's natural state, it's true nature,
already, inherently has all the potential to realize that happiness
and that sentient beings generally don't realize this.
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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:16 am

that whole idea that 'natural is good' is a product of modernity. I don't think there's a word for 'natural' in the Buddhist lexicon. What there is, is conditioned and unconditioned; for moderns, 'nature' represents 'unconditioned' because it represents purity, the unpolluted and so on.

I went to a seminar some years back on Buddhism and environmentalism. The speaker said that traditional Buddhism had no conception of environmentalism or even 'the environment'. Which is obvious, when you think about it, because 'the environment' didn't become a thing until it started to become polluted; the first top-selling environmental book was Rachel Carlson, Silent Spring, published 1962. Of course nowadays it's natural (there it is again!) to assume that Buddhists have always been environmentally aware, but it's an anachronism to think that.

I think possibly the 'natural great peace' referred to in esoteric Buddhist teachings has coined the term 'natural' from Western culture to connote 'unpolluted' and 'pure', although I'd be interested to see, if it is a Tibetan or Sanskrit adjective, what the word actually is.

Incidentally, on the theme of the OP - I think Buddhism has very important things to contribute to the modern cultural crisis. I'll come back to that point.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Queequeg
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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Queequeg » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:08 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:18 am
It is natural to want sense-gratification, more pleasure, fat and sugar, career advancement, caring for your nearest and dearest. It is not natural to practice meditation and self-restraint.
Interesting experience about the conference. I wonder if I would have been sensitive enough to catch the strain in the argument.

As picked up below, I'm not sure if the natural/unnatural distinction is applicable in the Buddhist context. In a way, our preference for sense-gratification is natural - "living beings want to be happy, and want to avoid suffering". That's the First Noble Truth. Samatha and Vipasyana are "natural", too. Maybe sitting down to actually practice is not quite "natural", but concentration is an innate capacity that has served in an evolution sense, as has discernment. Self-restraint is "natural" - watch a cat stalk its prey, waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. Compare to a dog that just charges. When the Buddha realized his ascetic practices were doing nothing but killing him, he recalled sitting beneath the Rose-Apple tree and watching his father plow the field - how he felt content and removed from desire at that time. That has certainly been my experience since I was a child - I was kind of a spacy kid... The point I took from that story is that the state of peaceful contemplation arises when we don't need anything. The Buddha recalled that experience and thought, "That must be the path to liberation." He then set about intentionally cultivating that state and pursuing it to its end.

If S&V are "good", and gratification is "bad", the Buddhist analysis is that gratification is just a stronger impulse due to delusions. I think many people who cultivate their practice can point to the flip in the brain where the inclination to practice became stronger than seeking gratification.

Anyway, just adding to the discussion on the awkward application of natural/unnatural in Buddhism.
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: Post Truth World

Post by DharmaN00b » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:47 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:16 pm


Do you think Buddhist discourse, particularly on emptiness and anatman has the potential to exacerbate or heal the collapse of truth in our modern society?

Prompted by invocation of flat Earth theory here on DW.
It depends on the generation. I was told what to do what to think and what to feel all my days, and it's like that for a lot of people. You can't pull an ancient tree up from it's roots (Well, I mean you can but I'm using this as an example of a person with strong ties). That person would far sooner remain relevant even when no-one takes notice. There might even be a few nuggets of truth there but the juice apparently isn't worth the squeeze.

But we live in a time where the scientists are crying 'the end is nigh' while the religious zealots are just ignoring it. If irony is merely a reversal of expectations well, I guess that's all she wrote in that regard.
:shrug:
Somethings gotta give

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Queequeg » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:14 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:16 am
that whole idea that 'natural is good' is a product of modernity. I don't think there's a word for 'natural' in the Buddhist lexicon. What there is, is conditioned and unconditioned; for moderns, 'nature' represents 'unconditioned' because it represents purity, the unpolluted and so on.
Some forms of Japanese Buddhism have a strong nature orientation. That's due to the syncretism with the native religion. There isn't a "nature is good" sensibility, though. Nature is. Immersion is experienced as purifying, though. Consider the practitioner standing beneath the waterfall.
I went to a seminar some years back on Buddhism and environmentalism. The speaker said that traditional Buddhism had no conception of environmentalism or even 'the environment'. Which is obvious, when you think about it, because 'the environment' didn't become a thing until it started to become polluted; the first top-selling environmental book was Rachel Carlson, Silent Spring, published 1962. Of course nowadays it's natural (there it is again!) to assume that Buddhists have always been environmentally aware, but it's an anachronism to think that.
It seems to me that there first must be a sense of being independent of nature - a hard distinction between the natural world and the human world. At the experiential level, that has to be based on electric lights, indoor climate control... mechanized transportation, supermarkets, and generally experiencing nature as little more than a stunted tree growing along the sidewalk. A sense of power over the environment so that things that scared us to death no longer are factors - the worry of being eaten by a saber tooth tiger, or worrying about rain, cold, heat. Worrying about gathering enough food. From this perspective, nature is declawed of its dangers, and just is a reflection of our profligate existence. Nature is then just a projection of the opposite of the things we know we are doing wrong.
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: Post Truth World

Post by Queequeg » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:19 pm

DharmaN00b wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:47 pm
It depends on the generation. I was told what to do what to think and what to feel all my days, and it's like that for a lot of people. You can't pull an ancient tree up from it's roots (Well, I mean you can but I'm using this as an example of a person with strong ties). That person would far sooner remain relevant even when no-one takes notice. There might even be a few nuggets of truth there but the juice apparently isn't worth the squeeze.
From the Canki Sutta (emphasis added)
Kapadika thought, "Gotama the contemplative has turned to me. Suppose I ask him a question." So he said to the Blessed One, "Master Gotama, with regard to the ancient hymns of the brahmans — passed down through oral transmission & included in their canon — the brahmans have come to the definite conclusion that "Only this is true; anything else is worthless." What does Master Gotama have to say to this?"

"Tell me, Bharadvaja, is there among the brahmans even one brahman who says, 'This I know; this I see; only this is true; anything else is worthless?'"

"No, Master Gotama."

"And has there been among the brahmans even one teacher or teacher's teacher back through seven generations who said, 'This I know; this I see; only this is true; anything else is worthless?'"

"No, Master Gotama."

"And among the brahman seers of the past, the creators of the hymns, the composers of the hymns — those ancient hymns, sung, repeated, & collected, which brahmans at present still sing, still chant, repeating what was said, repeating what was spoken — i.e., Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa & Bhagu: was there even one of these who said, 'This we know; this we see; only this is true; anything else is worthless?'"

"No, Master Gotama."

"So then, Bharadvaja, it seems that there isn't among the brahmans even one brahman who says, 'This I know; this I see; only this is true; anything else is worthless.' And there hasn't been among the brahmans even one teacher or teacher's teacher back through seven generations who said, 'This I know; this I see; only this is true; anything else is worthless.' And there hasn't been among the brahman seers of the past, the creators of the hymns, the composers of the hymns... even one who said, 'This we know; this we see; only this is true; anything else is worthless.' Suppose there were a row of blind men, each holding on to the one in front of him: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see. In the same way, the statement of the brahmans turns out to be a row of blind men, as it were: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see. So what do you think, Bharadvaja: this being the case, doesn't the conviction of the brahmans turn out to be groundless?"

"It's not only out of conviction, Master Gotama, that the brahmans honor this. They also honor it as unbroken tradition."

"Bharadvaja, first you went by conviction. Now you speak of unbroken tradition. There are five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Which five? Conviction, liking, unbroken tradition, reasoning by analogy, & an agreement through pondering views. These are the five things that can turn out in two ways in the here-&-now. Now some things are firmly held in conviction and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not firmly held in conviction, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. Some things are well-liked... truly an unbroken tradition... well-reasoned... Some things are well-pondered and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not well-pondered, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. In these cases it isn't proper for a knowledgeable person who safeguards the truth to come to a definite conclusion, 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless."
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: Post Truth World

Post by ShantiPeace » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:16 am

Everything is natural because everything comes from nature. :)
But in truth, natural has become in some sense synonymous with 'good,' which isn't bad.

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Sādhaka » Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:28 pm

Well even a late great Dzogchen Master said that when collecting ingredients for medicines, they should all have never been sprayed by synthetic insecticides, etc.

Therefore even though there may not always be a hard line between natural/unnatural good/bad; natural is still usually better.

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by tobes » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:33 am

ShantiPeace wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:26 pm
Heal, because it's based on logic, (Buddhist logic), and equanimity. There's one thing that seems to stand out more than almost anything else in studying scriptures, and that's the principle of equipoise, peace, non-reactivity.

This would also be useful in every endeavor. Working heavy equipment, walking, no matter what, to be calm is always beneficial. (Even in the midst of activity or rigorous activity.)

Because of this, I would say it certainly is a beneificial factor.

God is alive, Magic is alive. (Cohen) :smile:

And of course, the emphasis on metta and so forth.
:good:
I agree: the big problem with 'post-truth' is the (sentimental or affective) partiality that follows. Minds are so inflamed with this at the moment; and actions follow. It is quite agonizing to watch the world lurch more and more deeply into this.

Therefore, an attitude of equanimity, common to all traditions, is perhaps the valuable contribution that Buddhism can make.

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Vasana » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:17 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:16 pm

Do you think Buddhist discourse, particularly on emptiness and anatman has the potential to exacerbate or heal the collapse of truth in our modern society?

Prompted by invocation of flat Earth theory here on DW.
I hope so but I think if it does, it will occur packaged in terms belonging to a more secular epistemology and an increase in eco-literacy. By understanding how complex systems are all interconnected and interdependent. how wolves change the shape of rivers, elephants reshape the forest, how the boundaries between our lungs and the air around us are not solid. How the microbes in the soil alter the microbes in our guts and how our mind and community is influenced by this too. Less 'I', more 'we' , less competition more cooperation.

Emptiness, interdependent origination etc will be more helpful at a global level when framed positively and affirmatively as connectedness and joined-up thinking rather than as a negation.

As for wayfares post earlier about concept of the environment being absent in the Dharma, I think that's totally incorrect. For Dharma cultures the envirioment is related to weather and elemental harmony and associated weather influencing classes of beings. This was important for crops and other dangers. Then there's environmental karma and the interplay with afflictions. The existence of karma amd other beings is obviously problematic to prove or disprove but thinking in terms of elemental dynamics, interdependence and harmony can really serve as an umbrella concept for the rest of science.

There are eco-dharma books out there and a few threads on here
Last edited by Vasana on Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Vasana » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:46 am

Also as for the natural vs unnatural line of thought. I think this problem can also be solved when talking about health and the properties of biological and even psychological life.

Nature has symbiosis and parasitism. Parasitism is no less natural than symbiosis but then resilient systems will be less prone to deadly parasitism and can bounce back from infections.

Natural sytems tend to preserve themselves in a dynamic and interconnected balance. They tend toward homeostasis at different scales. They cool when they need to cool, warm when they need to warm, rest, eats and procreate when the time calls. They fight off infections, raise defenses, create niches and co-evolve in reciprocity with their environment. Or at the level of the climate and weather, it rains and thunders when the pressure is too high or does any number of other weather events to disperse any excessive build ups.

Resilient systems tend to have more variation, complexity and diversity within them. Brittle systems have less diversity and resources available and are more prone to collapse, be it ecological or locally within an organ systems. So natural systems are going to be life supporting, regulatory and regenerative where as unnatural systems are going to be disregulating and prematurely degenerative.

And then as Quegeng mentioned, the universal trait of preferring happiness to suffeeing and physical ease rather than hardship.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:57 am

One of the traditional epithets of the Buddha is ‘lokuttara’. Usually translated as ‘super-mundane’ where ‘mundane’ means ‘of the world’. But to all intents it means ‘supernatural’ - above nature - although of course ‘supernatural’ is taboo in the secular west.

As far as ‘post-truth’ - that is an ironic expression. It’s a dig at the sad fact that the current inhabitant of the office of the US Presidency is a congenital liar. Hopefully the body politic will soon expel this tumour and ‘post truth’ along with him.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Post Truth World

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:30 am

What I am commenting on above is our tendency to say that what is ‘natural’ is intrinsically good. To say of something that it’s ‘natural’ is equated with quality, purity, real-ness - as opposed to ‘artificial’ or ‘manufactured’ or ‘man-made’. It’s true - in a way - but it’s not something you ever really see in the Buddhist texts because they come from a time when the distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ was barely noticed or commented on. In a way ‘naturalness’ does suggest the ‘conditioned/unconditioned’ distinction, but care is needed. Today’s ‘naturalness’ is very much ‘going with the flow’, ‘doing what seems natural’ - and that is often not naturally inclined towards wholesome dharmas. Often it’s conditioned by custom or craving even if it seems ‘natural’.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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