Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Post Reply
M.G.
Posts: 438
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:56 am

Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by M.G. » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:22 am

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that there was a traditional practice through which Buddhists could ask for Ganapati's blessings as a way of gaining merit from non-Buddhist practices. I may be misremembering the details. I do have one friend who studied with traditional lamas in Nepal and sees himself as a Buddhist in the Nyingmapa lineage but does some straight Christian practices also.

Historically, how often would serious Buddhists engage in non-Buddhist practices in Asia? And how do people feel about this sort of thing? Crazy wisdom, self-indulgence, or the recognition that truth is pathless?

User avatar
Jechan
Posts: 101
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:07 am
Location: Osaka, Japan.

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Jechan » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:43 am

Hi,
Your practice might become diluted when you mix it with other doctrines.
Focusing on one method while discarding all others will result in the maximum benefit.
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経
南無妙法蓮華経

muni
Posts: 4872
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by muni » Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:32 am

Most follow one kind of methods to be free of oneself, whatever label they may have. We can be already stuck into the different contradicting Buddhist methods since there are many.
Clinging to Buddhist methods themselves can make even Buddhism completely useless. I think to realize to what the methods are pointing to, allows the clinging to dissolve and then no any religion/philosophy/whatever can harm.
Mostly we follow how our heart is calling. No one can give the advice to another based on opinions/preferences.
Since there are medicines for all, when we have a little warmth for all and realize the many ways of suffering of others, at least we are not going to reject their medicines. And one open for all, can even learn from the smallest Christian/Hindu/Sikh… child so to speak or at least no any is a hindrance.

Since not the labelled phenomena are the problem but minds’ clinging is.

Meanwhile we all are helped by our methods. May it be!
The fortress of the spacious and timeless expanse has no division into
higher or lower or in between.

M.G.
Posts: 438
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:56 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by M.G. » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:44 pm

There's a potential secondary discussion here about mixing Buddhist practices from different schools. I know several Tibetan Buddhist practitioners who find Zazen valuable.
Last edited by M.G. on Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Dan74
Former staff member
Posts: 2785
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Switzerland

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Dan74 » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:45 pm

M.G. wrote:I vaguely remember reading somewhere that there was a traditional practice through which Buddhists could ask for Ganapati's blessings as a way of gaining merit from non-Buddhist practices. I may be misremembering the details. I do have one friend who studied with traditional lamas in Nepal and sees himself as a Buddhist in the Nyingmapa lineage but does some straight Christian practices also.

Historically, how often would serious Buddhists engage in non-Buddhist practices in Asia? And how do people feel about this sort of thing? Crazy wisdom, self-indulgence, or the recognition that truth is pathless?
Hi M.G.

I've seen these sort of discussions get a little heated in the past, because some people feel strongly that our practice should be kept pure and focused under the guidance of a realised master rather than shopping around spiritual materialism style. This view certainly has some validity but I'd add that this is a false dichotomy. There have certainly been very dedicated practitioners who've found depth of wisdom and inspiration in Catholocism and Zen Buddhism for instance, like Enomiya Lassale, Ruben Habito, Robert Kennedy, etc.

At the end of the day, whatever inspires us and guides us to relinquish all that is unwholesome and to cultivate all that is wholesome, to grow in clarity and wisdom is Dharma, regardless what label it comes with.

M.G.
Posts: 438
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:56 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by M.G. » Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:00 pm

Dan74 wrote:
M.G. wrote:I vaguely remember reading somewhere that there was a traditional practice through which Buddhists could ask for Ganapati's blessings as a way of gaining merit from non-Buddhist practices. I may be misremembering the details. I do have one friend who studied with traditional lamas in Nepal and sees himself as a Buddhist in the Nyingmapa lineage but does some straight Christian practices also.

Historically, how often would serious Buddhists engage in non-Buddhist practices in Asia? And how do people feel about this sort of thing? Crazy wisdom, self-indulgence, or the recognition that truth is pathless?
Hi M.G.

I've seen these sort of discussions get a little heated in the past, because some people feel strongly that our practice should be kept pure and focused under the guidance of a realised master rather than shopping around spiritual materialism style. This view certainly has some validity but I'd add that this is a false dichotomy. There have certainly been very dedicated practitioners who've found depth of wisdom and inspiration in Catholocism and Zen Buddhism for instance, like Enomiya Lassale, Ruben Habito, Robert Kennedy, etc.

At the end of the day, whatever inspires us and guides us to relinquish all that is unwholesome and to cultivate all that is wholesome, to grow in clarity and wisdom is Dharma, regardless what label it comes with.

If this gets heated, I'd support locking the thread.

I think there is something to say about engaging different perspectives on things which goes beyond spiritual grocery shopping. I'm certainly interested in other takes on this.

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:20 pm

Dan74 wrote: I've seen these sort of discussions get a little heated in the past, because some people feel strongly that our practice should be kept pure and focused under the guidance of a realised master rather than shopping around spiritual materialism style. This view certainly has some validity but I'd add that this is a false dichotomy.
How can something "have some validity" and yet be "a false dichotomy?"
At the end of the day, whatever inspires us and guides us to relinquish all that is unwholesome and to cultivate all that is wholesome, to grow in clarity and wisdom is Dharma, regardless what label it comes with.
Some Dharma is the Dharma of gods and humans, it isn't liberating, but it certainly can cause people to take higher rebirth in samsara because in general it encourages people to avoid the ten non-virtues.

Unfortunately, non-Buddhist Dharmas (and here we really are only talking about religions in which rebirth is accepted) also are contaminated with incorrect views, so whatever wisdom they lead to will only be mundane and contaminated. As the Buddha pointed out, there is no liberation outside of his Dharma and Vinaya. Someone might point out that there so called independent Buddhas (pratyekabuddhas) but it is held that they do not teach, remaining silent about their realization, hence the Buddha's statement, repeated by him in many sūtras through out his life remains true.

In terms of mixing practices, there is not much point. Someone might respond that Tibetan Buddhism is a mixture of Buddhism and Bon, but this is really a huge overstatement, while it is true that Buddhists adapted some worldly rituals into a Buddhist framwork, such as smoke offerings, and various mundane rites to appease spirits and so on, by no means do they form an essential core of Tibetan Buddhism, since they are palliative rites designed to relieve temporary problems. Buddhism has never had a problem with people continuing to use such practices within the framework of Dharma — we can see this when Buddha instructs Ānanda to rely on brahmins to conduct the Buddha's funerary rites. However, just as you cannot be a citizen of two countries, you cannot have two refuges. One cannot, for example, take refuge in Buddha and Jesus. In other words, there is no reason for a Buddhist who is a former Catholic to take communion since a Buddhist understands that a) there is no such thing as original sin and b) that sins in general cannot be eliminated by washing with water, eating a wafer, etc.

M.G.
Posts: 438
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:56 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by M.G. » Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:28 pm

@Malcolm - That was a very informative answer.

Are there historical evidences of practitioners studying under, say, both Vajrayana and Hindu gurus?

User avatar
Dan74
Former staff member
Posts: 2785
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Switzerland

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Dan74 » Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:43 pm

Malcolm,

It has validity because in practice many of us are contaminated by spiritual materialism, lack of patience and perseverance. It is a false dichotomy because it doesn't always apply.

As for worldly dharmas, have you transcended worldly Dharmas, Malcolm? Are you sorted, free of neuroses, joyful, resourceful, disciplined, reliable, kind and forgiving, humble, hard-working and undemanding? These are just a few qualities I've observed in some followers of other religions that I could do well to improve in.

Of course we have the Paramitas and wonderful teachings on them. But for some people other teachings may actually resonate better, work better, because of their karma, their strong affinity with another wisdom tradition. I don't think you or I can honestly say that this is wrong, that this cannot be productive and conducive to liberation.

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:01 pm

Dan74 wrote:Malcolm,

It has validity because in practice many of us are contaminated by spiritual materialism, lack of patience and perseverance. It is a false dichotomy because it doesn't always apply.

As for worldly dharmas, have you transcended worldly Dharmas, Malcolm? Are you sorted, free of neuroses, joyful, resourceful, disciplined, reliable, kind and forgiving, humble, hard-working and undemanding? These are just a few qualities I've observed in some followers of other religions that I could do well to improve in.

Of course we have the Paramitas and wonderful teachings on them. But for some people other teachings may actually resonate better, work better, because of their karma, their strong affinity with another wisdom tradition. I don't think you or I can honestly say that this is wrong, that this cannot be productive and conducive to liberation.
"Are you sorted, free of neuroses, joyful, resourceful, disciplined, reliable, kind and forgiving, humble, hard-working and undemanding."

Yes, for the most part. Though like any ordinary person I have my strongly afflicted moments.

Those "some people" are not followers of Buddhadharma. They follow other paths.

I can say that other paths are not conducive to the "liberation" we practitioners of Buddhadharma hold to be liberation since this liberation is very clearly defined by the Buddha. Liberation or freedom means being free from afflictive emotions which cause rebirth in samsara. That freedom cannot arise through other paths which encourage a view of soul or a self, or through philosophies which negate the truth of rebirth and karma.

It is true that people have their karmic propensities and are more attracted to this or that religion — it is not our job to interfere with their lives; but the sorrow of samsara is that sentient beings are confused about what will bring them ultimate happiness.

I would suggest strongly that anyone who feels that liberation, as defined in Buddhadharma, can be attained by any other means than realizing the nature of dependent origination and emptiness has not really understood the meaning of the Buddha's teachings on any level.

In other words Dan, other "wisdom" traditions are mundane paths that are not conducive to liberation. They are paths of samsara.

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:04 pm

M.G. wrote:@Malcolm - That was a very informative answer.

Are there historical evidences of practitioners studying under, say, both Vajrayana and Hindu gurus?
Yes, of course. The Natha tradition grew out of Hindu-Buddhist syncretism and many Nathas followed Buddhist gurus even though they may have begun as Hindus, such as the Indian Buddhaguptanatha, Tārānatha's teacher.

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:09 pm

These are just a few qualities I've observed in some followers of other religions that I could do well to improve in.
BTW Dan, there are decent people everywhere. That does not take a religion.

User avatar
Dan74
Former staff member
Posts: 2785
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Switzerland

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Dan74 » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:10 pm

So let me get this straight - a Buddhist who is inspired by stories about Jesus's life and some teachings which help him cultivate kindness, forbearance and compassion, is wasting his time and getting further away from liberation?

I see plenty of potential for people to be inspired by all sorts of stories, teachings, day-to-day occurrences. There is Dharma in all sorts of places if one knows how to see.

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:55 pm

Dan74 wrote:So let me get this straight - a Buddhist who is inspired by stories about Jesus's life and some teachings which help him cultivate kindness, forbearance and compassion, is wasting his time and getting further away from liberation?

I see plenty of potential for people to be inspired by all sorts of stories, teachings, day-to-day occurrences. There is Dharma in all sorts of places if one knows how to see.
Dan, what is the topic of the thread? "Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices", right?

So, essentially, we are not talking about whether Jesus is an inspiring character for someone, our warm feelings about St,. Francis of Assisi and so on.

We are talking about a technical issues, e.g, for example, whether one ought to sincerely attend a Catholic Mass, looking for redemption, as a Buddhist. In other words, we are discussing the appropriateness of someone who claims to follow Buddhadharma who also asserts that Jesus Christ is their lord and savior.

Someone who has taken refuge in the Three Jewels cannot at the same time take Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. They may imagine that they can, but all they succeed in doing is ignorantly destroying their refuge in the Three Jewels.

This is also the case with teachings such as emptiness and dependent origination. For example, I heard HH Dalai Lama, that bastion of ecumenicalism, state in 2005 in Tucson, AZ, that emptiness was not the business of Christians and that he generally felt that Christians ought to mind their own business. Emptiness, he said, was the business of followers of Buddhadharma, and that is was inappropriate for Christians to be interested in it. Why? Because Christians believe in ex nihilo creation, souls, and so on. Ex nihilo creation and dependent origination are mutually incompatible. One does not need to be a Buddhist to see this, as Lucretius said, ex nihilo nihil fit, "nothing comes from nothing" (but we leave all similarity with epicurean materialism here).

It's a little different with Hinduism and Buddhadharma. There are many mundane rites Buddhists can avail themselves of from Hinduism, and have done so for millennia. Even so, it is inappropriate for those who have taken refuge in the Three Jewels to take refuge in Brahma, Shiva or Vishnu and so on because the latter are mundane gods who have not realized the nature of reality and are themselves trapped in samsara, like Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, etc.

We cannot allow our warm and fuzzy feelings obscure the fact that Buddhadharma is something very precise and specific. It is not a method of "becoming a better person", nor is it a method of "resolving our unresolved issues", nor is it a practice of "mindfulness", nor is it a method of "becoming more compassionate", and so on. All of these things reduce Buddhadharma to the level of pop self-help manuals.

If someone from outside the Dharma wants to enter the Dharma he or she must leave their previous refuge behind. You cannot have two feet in two boats (try it, it is really, really difficult), you cannot serve two masters, etc.

User avatar
明安 Myoan
Former staff member
Posts: 2461
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:18 pm

We cannot allow our warm and fuzzy feelings obscure the fact that Buddhadharma is something very precise and specific. It is not a method of "becoming a better person", nor is it a method of "resolving our unresolved issues", nor is it a practice of "mindfulness", nor is it a method of "becoming more compassionate", and so on. All of these things reduce Buddhadharma to the level of pop self-help manuals.
Nor should we negate the very real benefits Buddhism has for ordinary beings to be happy in this world, which can engender faith in them to pursue the path to its completion.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:22 pm

duckfiasco wrote:
We cannot allow our warm and fuzzy feelings obscure the fact that Buddhadharma is something very precise and specific. It is not a method of "becoming a better person", nor is it a method of "resolving our unresolved issues", nor is it a practice of "mindfulness", nor is it a method of "becoming more compassionate", and so on. All of these things reduce Buddhadharma to the level of pop self-help manuals.
Nor should we negate the very real benefits Buddhism has for ordinary beings to be happy in this world, which can engender faith in them to pursue the path to its completion.
We don't negate it, but we don't use mundane benefits to to sell the Dharma. If our motivation for practicing Dharma is merely to be happier in this life, then we are not practicing Dharma at all.

User avatar
Sönam
Posts: 1999
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:11 pm
Location: France
Contact:

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Sönam » Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:35 pm

The fact is that there is more buddhists than follower of buddhadharma ...

Sönam
By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
- Longchen Rabjam -

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:44 pm

Sönam wrote:The fact is that there is more buddhists than follower of buddhadharma ...

Sönam

Ironic.

User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
Posts: 6207
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by kirtu » Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:24 pm

Malcolm wrote:However, just as you cannot be a citizen of two countries,
Bad analogy as you can obviously be a citizen of two countries (you can even grow up in multiple countries and/or in multiple cultures).
Malcolm wrote:...you cannot have two refuges.
But indeed you cannot have two refuges.

I personally have denied that one could benefit from the dharma of gods and men but I was wrong. Some/most people can benefit as long as they are secure in refuge in the Buddhadharma. So Hindu mantras and some practices, for example, can have a place. See Mipham's Verses to the Eight Noble Auspicious One's for example. This includes a constrained invocation of Shiva and Ishvara.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

Malcolm
Posts: 30221
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Mixing Buddhist and non-Buddhist Practices?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:32 pm

kirtu wrote:
I personally have denied that one could benefit from the dharma of gods and men but I was wrong. Some/most people can benefit as long as they are secure in refuge in the Buddhadharma. So Hindu mantras and some practices, for example, can have a place. See Mipham's Verses to the Eight Noble Auspicious One's for example. This includes a constrained invocation of Shiva and Ishvara.

Kirt
Who ever said there was no benefit in the Dharma of gods and humans? It assures birth in higher realms, as mentioned above.

If you bothered to read the thread carefully you will note that we addressed the issue of mundane practices from Hinduism already.

Weak countries may let you have citizenship in two nations, but if you are a US citizen, you cannot be a citizen of another country, unless you are a minor, but at some point you have to choose.

Post Reply

Return to “Mahāyāna Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 22 guests