"Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

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Quay
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"Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Quay » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:19 am

Ken McLeod has posted an interesting article in Tricycle (adapted from a previous work) with the provocative title Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist. In it he references a lot of Vajrayana and Tibetan traditions and makes points about how those and Buddhism in general do not go well with the transactional view of debt and forgiveness as expressed by Abrahamic religions.

What do y'all think?

Article here: https://tricycle.org/magazine/forgiveness-not-buddhist/
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by climb-up » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:39 am

I read that a while ago,
I don't have time to re-read it right this second, but I remember thinking it was weird.

If I remember correctly, he associates forgiveness with wrathful actions and says that it severs realtionships (using the example of a bank forgiving a debt).
I'm not clear on why forgiveness would end a relationship. If a bank forgave a debt I very well may make a point of keeping using them. The library I work at has periodically forgiven fines precisely so as to re-build relationships with patrons. Also, who has had any type of long term relationship that doesn't involve some level of forgiving and being forgiven.

I also think that at one point I thought maybe he meant, but was not differentiating well, that we shouldn't expect to be forgiven and the being forgiven for our own actions doesn't cancel out the karma achieved. That makes sense, but it seems like forgiving others for mistakes they have made and viewing them with understanding and compassion is quite buddhist.

Probably should have re-read it before I wrote that.
I will tomorrow, possibly taking back everything I just typed.

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:52 am

A deep article and makes a valid point. For some reason, a 1970’s bromide comes to mind, ‘love is never having to say you’re sorry’. So in order for there to be forgiveness, you already have to have a sense of being slighted or wronged. Then forgiveness cleans the slate, so to speak. But I think that McLeod is arguing that in the Buddhist tradition, that sense of indebtedness was never foundational in the first place so that importing forgiveness is introducing an essentially external attitude into the tradition.

I think that his argument is sound, but the only caveat is that, I was reading recently the sense in which the bodhisattva willingly shoulders the burdens of others. That is rather like the ‘vicarious atonement’ doctrine of Christianity, in fact some scholars believe that Buddhism was influenced by Christianity in that regard. A similar idea is found in Hua Yen. So I will have to reflect on it a bit more. But overall, a very thought-provoking piece and well worth thinking over deeply.

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by tranides » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:30 am

Interesting article, setupped hardly within dualistic point of view, not showing another part of the buddhist practice (and i guess its done by purpose). As long as we will operate within self-other space, every conclusion about forgiveness, suffering, harm (between 2 or more beeings) will have self-others aberration. Which means u must have lots of knowledge, wisdom, practice not to be drawn into that dualistic conceptual thinking and to recognize whats behind it. But for nonbuddhist it shows an aproach to the idea of karma which is great imo, becouse the seed is planted :)
I remember the story about previous Tenga Rinpoche - when thief stolen his bag he started to run after the guy yelling "Its yours, im giving that bag to you". This story shows, how compassion and loving kindness works instead of forgiveness.
In fact, that article shows to me that there is nothing to forgive, there is only hard work with karma; there is noone to forgive - there is only hard work with compassion and patience.

Luke

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:08 am

Quay wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:19 am
Ken McLeod has posted an interesting article in Tricycle (adapted from a previous work) with the provocative title Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist. In it he references a lot of Vajrayana and Tibetan traditions and makes points about how those and Buddhism in general do not go well with the transactional view of debt and forgiveness as expressed by Abrahamic religions.

What do y'all think?

Article here: https://tricycle.org/magazine/forgiveness-not-buddhist/
I think it's a lot of over -thought piffle.

But I forgive him. Although if you are one of the students who have made allegations against him you might find forgiving him harder..but then, of course, he doesn't think you need to.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Lingpupa » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:18 am

I haven't got time to do more than skim the article, though I'd agree that Ken is generally a decent enough bloke.

I was, however, quite disconcerted by the headline:
Buddhist teachings do not advise asking others to absolve us from our misdeeds. Instead, they outline a path to purification that will change our relationship to reactive patterns.
As I understand it, the (typically Christian?) concept of forgiveness does "not advise asking others to absolve us from our misdeeds" either. Surely Christian teachings ask us to forgive others, not ask them to forgive us - don't they?
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by muni » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:02 pm



Forgiveness can be seen in different way. Interesting. :smile:
Forgiveness is better than keep a grudge, which is not healthy.
‘Conquer’ own destructive emotions and there is no one any further to conquer or forgive.

The selfishness is the source of outer enemies but it is the selfishness which is usually protected. Forgiving helps to not be lost in own self destructive emotions-aversion.

'Asking' forgiveness as well is own practice, it helps to realize having lost awareness or however you call it. Much better than to believe I was right because….or perhaps to see how own distraction happened, would be more helpful than to justify these very distractions.

o o
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Bristollad » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:33 pm

:good:

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by PuerAzaelis » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:47 pm

Bottom line of the article appears to be:

My concern here is that in today’s world, many people who practice Buddhism seem to feel that when someone forgives them, they have been absolved and the matter ends there. Forgiveness in their minds completes the transaction, albeit not as it would have ended if the debt had been paid. No mention is made of the power of grace, and not many individuals would claim that power for themselves. Karma does not work that way, however. ... Karma is not based in transactions. It is based in evolution.

I have time for Mr McLeod. The point makes sense I suppose. But I'm not sure I really see the issue he's talking about as the oncoming wave or anything.
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:38 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:52 am
But I think that McLeod is arguing that in the Buddhist tradition, that sense of indebtedness was never foundational in the first place so that importing forgiveness is introducing an essentially external attitude into the tradition.
He is wrong of course; the Buddha himself likened karma to a debt, and so too does Nāgārjuna. Given that Buddhism arose within the context of a civilization that was influenced by the Vedas, concern with debt was huge:
[E]ven the very earliest Vedic poems, composed sometime between 1500 and 1200 bc, evince a constant concern with debt— which is treated as synonymous with guilt and sin.
Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years (p. 56). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

The Buddha also describes debt as a kind of suffering in many places.
Buddhahood in This Life
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by liuzg150181 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:31 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:38 pm
Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:52 am
But I think that McLeod is arguing that in the Buddhist tradition, that sense of indebtedness was never foundational in the first place so that importing forgiveness is introducing an essentially external attitude into the tradition.
He is wrong of course; the Buddha himself likened karma to a debt, and so too does Nāgārjuna. Given that Buddhism arose within the context of a civilization that was influenced by the Vedas, concern with debt was huge:
[E]ven the very earliest Vedic poems, composed sometime between 1500 and 1200 bc, evince a constant concern with debt— which is treated as synonymous with guilt and sin.
Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years (p. 56). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

The Buddha also describes debt as a kind of suffering in many places.
Not to mention that merchant class tends to favour Buddhism,so the concept of debt is not alien to them:
https://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/e ... trade.html

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by climb-up » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:10 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:08 am
I think it's a lot of over -thought piffle. But I forgive him.
:rolling:
Lingpupa wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:18 am

As I understand it, the (typically Christian?) concept of forgiveness does "not advise asking others to absolve us from our misdeeds" either. Surely Christian teachings ask us to forgive others, not ask them to forgive us - don't they?
Yes, of course!
muni wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:02 pm


Forgiveness can be seen in different way. Interesting. :smile:
Forgiveness is better than keep a grudge, which is not healthy.
‘Conquer’ own destructive emotions and there is no one any further to conquer or forgive.

The selfishness is the source of outer enemies but it is the selfishness which is usually protected. Forgiving helps to not be lost in own self destructive emotions-aversion.

'Asking' forgiveness as well is own practice, it helps to realize having lost awareness or however you call it. Much better than to believe I was right because….or perhaps to see how own distraction happened, would be more helpful than to justify these very distractions.

o o
:bow:
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:38 pm
Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:52 am
But I think that McLeod is arguing that in the Buddhist tradition, that sense of indebtedness was never foundational in the first place so that importing forgiveness is introducing an essentially external attitude into the tradition.
He is wrong of course; the Buddha himself likened karma to a debt, and so too does Nāgārjuna. Given that Buddhism arose within the context of a civilization that was influenced by the Vedas, concern with debt was huge:
[E]ven the very earliest Vedic poems, composed sometime between 1500 and 1200 bc, evince a constant concern with debt— which is treated as synonymous with guilt and sin.
Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years (p. 56). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

The Buddha also describes debt as a kind of suffering in many places.
:jawdrop:
Making such a bold statement, even though the essence seemed wrong, I just assumed he was right about the debt thing not being historically part of Buddhism!
Well, there you go!

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Josef » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:19 pm

PuerAzaelis wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:47 pm
Bottom line of the article appears to be:

My concern here is that in today’s world, many people who practice Buddhism seem to feel that when someone forgives them, they have been absolved and the matter ends there. Forgiveness in their minds completes the transaction, albeit not as it would have ended if the debt had been paid. No mention is made of the power of grace, and not many individuals would claim that power for themselves. Karma does not work that way, however. ... Karma is not based in transactions. It is based in evolution.

I have time for Mr McLeod. The point makes sense I suppose. But I'm not sure I really see the issue he's talking about as the oncoming wave or anything.
I find his conclusion odd.
If anyone is seriously practicing Buddhism they would be remiss to assume their karmic role in an event was complete after an apology.
The four opponent factors and at the very least some kind of genuine regret for a negative act are basic antidotes that we all have as practitioners. The only setting I can see his "concern" playing out in is the American neo-zen communities that dont accept karma and rebirth.
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by anjali » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:41 pm

In my opinion, a lot of verbage that misses the main point of what forgiveness actually is in practice. A number of years ago, I came across a book that helped me with with a difficult family situation titled Forgiving the Devil, by psychologist Terry Hargrave. The book discusses forgiveness in the context of family dynamics. It provides a definition of forgiveness that, although provided in the context of the family and close personal relationships, is I think generally applicable: "Forgiveness is the process by which love and trust are reestablished in relationships." At least I've found it to be a useful view in the intervening years since first encountering it.

The book also presents a useful model of the forgiveness process, but that's probably outside the scope of discussion here. The first chapter, which includes the model, can be read in it's entirety here.
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by seeker242 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:16 pm

Lingpupa wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:18 am
I haven't got time to do more than skim the article, though I'd agree that Ken is generally a decent enough bloke.

I was, however, quite disconcerted by the headline:
Buddhist teachings do not advise asking others to absolve us from our misdeeds. Instead, they outline a path to purification that will change our relationship to reactive patterns.
As I understand it, the (typically Christian?) concept of forgiveness does "not advise asking others to absolve us from our misdeeds" either. Surely Christian teachings ask us to forgive others, not ask them to forgive us - don't they?
The typical Christian concept of forgiveness does "advise asking others to absolve us from our misdeeds". It's just that in this case the "other" is God, not other people. That's why you go to church and "pray for forgiveness"
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by conebeckham » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:08 pm

climb-up wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:10 pm
Making such a bold statement, even though the essence seemed wrong, I just assumed he was right about the debt thing not being historically part of Buddhism!
Well, there you go!
Let's just say that certain people are quick to distance themselves from concepts and attitudes found in the religion of their cultural upbringing, and to ascribe divergent views regarding those concepts and attitudes to their newly adopted faith.

Karma is certainly equated with debt, but it is debt to oneself, largely.
Forgiveness toward others seems to be consistent with Mind Training, in my view, but it does not absolve the other, it merely benefits oneself when one forgives. And as for self-forgiveness, I see this in some sense as LoJong as well--"starting with oneself" when practicing active application of compassion.

I don't understand McLeod's mention of "Grace," however.
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It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:12 pm

I believe that as long as we are trapped in relative/conditioned reality, with a concept of self and other, higher and lower, victim and perpetrator, then forgiveness plays a positive role. Mainly because of absolving guilt. Guilt can be a rather unforgiving trap, that does not allow us to progress emotionally and spiritually.

Forgiveness can be part of the purification process. Forgiveness can also be self-forgiveness, this helps us overcome self-flagellation and can assist one in overcoming grasping to a situation that strengthens the sense of self. There is no reason why forgiveness cannot be coupled with regret.

And what is with this idea that something "is not Buddhist"? Does that mean that some things are intrinsically Buddhist?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:04 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:12 pm
I believe that as long as we are trapped in relative/conditioned reality, with a concept of self and other, higher and lower, victim and perpetrator, then forgiveness plays a positive role. Mainly because of absolving guilt. Guilt can be a rather unforgiving trap, that does not allow us to progress emotionally and spiritually.

Forgiveness can be part of the purification process. Forgiveness can also be self-forgiveness, this helps us overcome self-flagellation and can assist one in overcoming grasping to a situation that strengthens the sense of self. There is no reason why forgiveness cannot be coupled with regret.

And what is with this idea that something "is not Buddhist"? Does that mean that some things are intrinsically Buddhist?

Aye ( to the above).
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jan 12, 2018 10:13 pm

Oh yeah, just like generosity can come from a point of ego, but if one drops the three points of reference (ie giver, receiver, act of giving) it becomes a paramita; I believe that, in the same manner, forgiveness can be utilised as a liberatory method.

Skillful means, yah know?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: "Forgiveness Is Not Buddhist" Article by McLeod in Tricycle

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:49 pm

Well put.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

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