China's super-rich communist Buddhists

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Adamantine
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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Adamantine » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:40 pm

uan wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
That's correct from a Tibetan dharma view too Ayu!
There's a lot of judging going on here, and the truth is, at least for myself, we have no clue what the reality is.
Well.. lol, you are responding to me so I will reply I suppose-- I was setting up hypotheticals, to point out that it is all relative and dependent on our own mind, our intention, etc., not the amount we offer. This was to try to give an antidote to the more cynical view expressed earlier in the thread. Somehow, you have developed the view that I am judging my hypothetical non-existent people? I don't think it matters to them! :rolling: Aside from that point, you are right too of course, I don't see any contradiction in our posts. Of course it is wonderful for wealthy individuals to support the Dharma, and all the more so if their intention is pure. Even if the intention is not 100% pure, (and how many of us are capable of this, or the view expressed in the Diamond Sutra re: giving gifts?) it is still better to make offerings to the 3 Jewels than to not do so.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by uan » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:36 pm

Adamantine wrote:
uan wrote: There's a lot of judging going on here, and the truth is, at least for myself, we have no clue what the reality is.
Well.. lol, you are responding to me so I will reply I suppose-- I was setting up hypotheticals, to point out that it is all relative and dependent on our own mind, our intention, etc., not the amount we offer. This was to try to give an antidote to the more cynical view expressed earlier in the thread. Somehow, you have developed the view that I am judging my hypothetical non-existent people? I don't think it matters to them! :rolling: Aside from that point, you are right too of course, I don't see any contradiction in our posts. Of course it is wonderful for wealthy individuals to support the Dharma, and all the more so if their intention is pure. Even if the intention is not 100% pure, (and how many of us are capable of this, or the view expressed in the Diamond Sutra re: giving gifts?) it is still better to make offerings to the 3 Jewels than to not do so.
I did set up a bit of a straw man using what you (and Ayu) said. I appreciate you looking beyond that! :thanks:

I guess I was trying to take the underlying assumption/hypothetical and bring it down more to our levels. We tend to use billionaires and rich/wealthy people as the default example for things dealing with money and greed and etc... I think at times it's easy to look at those examples and say "I'm not rich so I don't do those things." Also we (I'll be the first to raise my hand here) tend to be inclined without really thinking about it that wealthy people are motivated by more materialistic thoughts so it was a caution for us not to assume the worse of others.

I'm reminded of this documentary called 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. And on the way there, the filmmaker is looking out on the Indian farmers in the field and wondering at how simple there lives were and how complex lives are for those in the West. It sounds like conventional wisdom that would lead us to nod our heads in agreement.

But the truth is - that farmer's life is much more complex (at least equally complex) than a filmmaker living in NYC with the capacity to travel to India to meet the Dalai Lama. In the same way activity doesn't mean action (a fire breaks out and one person runs around Fire! Fire! hand waving and all. Another person pours water on it and puts it out - who's done more activity? Who did an action?), so too, having more things doesn't make life more complex. In someways, life is much simpler. The farmer in the field - maybe there's a drought? Maybe he's in debt to a landlord who is making his wife work as an indentured servant, maybe he's mad that his brother has more buffaloes than he does, maybe he doesn't have enough to eat and there's no safety net. It's a hardscrabble life. He's in survival mode, he's doesn't have the luxury to think about enlightenment, he will never meet the DL, etc. He's worried about how he will stay alive tomorrow. The filmmaker is worried about not asking stupid questions.

The underlying assumption of the filmmaker was the farmer was happy and content because he was living a simple, unencumbered life. The filmmaker gave the appearance of pondering deep thoughts, but he really wasn't.

It's the grass is greener on the other side thing, and we miss opportunities for insight when we do that (and it's easy to do - I've done it too many times to want to count :) )

Anyway, I ramble :)

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Huseng » Sat Jan 31, 2015 5:14 am

Sherlock wrote:There is this saying that no one on retreat ever died of hunger I think.
Or they never lived to tell about the lack of food.

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Adamantine » Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:02 am

Indrajala wrote:
Sherlock wrote:There is this saying that no one on retreat ever died of hunger I think.
Or they never lived to tell about the lack of food.
To be fair, traditionally in Tibet and ancient India it was ingrained in the culture to consider it a great opportunity to sponsor a retreatant with food, since then you'd get to share the merit of their practice and retreat. So not many yogis would go into retreat without having a sponsor arranged. . .
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by WeiHan » Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:01 am

Indrajala wrote:
Ayu wrote: But that idea is quite superficial and materialistic.
Living traditions of Buddhism tend to have a lot of superficial and materialistic elements. If they weren't, they'd be out of business and then fade away or just become subjects of study by specialist scholars.

The Buddhist Church needs to cover its operating expenses and generally it will do this through generating merit for people by donation.

The reason Buddhist institutions in the west seldom really have capital to build or expand is because western Buddhists don't have the same interest in merit generation as their Asian counterparts do. Providing quality classes and retreats by donation won't generate substantial donations, whereas if you befriend rich people and assure them that merit will result in a fortunate rebirth for them and their family members (living and deceased) you'll probably get a ton of cash.


I read in "Abhidhamma in daily life" from Ashin Janakabhivamsa that the greatness of the merit depends on the intention. If lots of money is given with a dry heart and without much effort, it will accumulate only small merit.
Some believe a maṇḍala offering generates even more merit than any offering of money, though still the prevailing belief is that you should give money for pujas or some service as that is a practical way to generate merit.
I agree to what you all said. especially the last point, Even though mandala offering or self practice generate more merit, however it requires more effort which many richer who are involved in businesses may not have the time. Giving money and supporting others to practice and study is seen as an alternative way to accumulate alot of merit while one still do not have the necessary condition to practice intensely.

Milerapa has said that the sponsor who support a retreatant meditating in the mountain cave will attain enlightenment at the same time.

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Huseng » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:38 pm

WeiHan wrote: Milerapa has said that the sponsor who support a retreatant meditating in the mountain cave will attain enlightenment at the same time.
Is there a source for this?

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by WeiHan » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:18 pm

Indrajala wrote:
WeiHan wrote: Milerapa has said that the sponsor who support a retreatant meditating in the mountain cave will attain enlightenment at the same time.
Is there a source for this?
Not the exact words but something of that same meaning...

http://gebchakgonpa.org/donate/prayer-dedications/

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Ambrosius80 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:26 pm

As for the reporter ending the article that way, I actually think a lot of Christian Western reporters have begun to downplay Buddhism in their articles. It is rather clumsily made to look primitive, idolatring and superstitious. Makes me wonder if this is because according to a survey made in 2014, Buddhism is still the fastest growing religion in the West, and appears like a threat to some.

As for the statement itself that the more you offer the more you accumulate merit for yourself, it is only partially true. You can accumulate merit by offering from your own fortune to others, offering incense on altars, lighting candles etc., but all the offerings lose their effect if you do not offer them humbly, mindfully and without an altruistic thought. Bodhidharma commented on this when the emperor of China had large monasteries build and elaborate offerings made just so he could accumulate merit for himself. When he asked Bodhidharma how much merit he had achieved by doing so, Bodhidharma stated: "None".

Bodhidharma actually states in his Breakthrough Sermon what one should think when offering things and how one should understand their true meaning:
Student: Throughout the sutras the Buddha tells mortals they can achieve
enlightenment by performing such meritorious works as building monasteries,
casting statues, burning incense, scattering flowers, lighting eternal lamps,
practicing all six periods" of the day and night, walking around stupas, observing
fasts, and worshipping. But if beholding the mind includes all other practices, then
such works as these would appear redundant.
Bodhidharma: The sutras of the Buddha contain countless metaphors. Because
mortals have shallow minds and don’t understand anything deep, the Buddha used
the tangible to represent the sublime. People who seek blessings by concentrating
on external works instead of internal cultivation are attempting the impossible, What
you call a monastery we call a sangbarama, a place of purity. But whoever denies
entry to the three poisons and keeps the gates of his senses pure, his body and mind
still, inside and outside clean, builds a monastery.
Casting statues refers to all practices cultivated by those who seek enlightenment.
The Tathagata’s sublime form can’t be represented by metal. Those who seek
enlightenment regard their bodies as the furnace, the Dharma as the fire, wisdom as
the craftsmanship, and the three sets of precepts and six paramitas as the mold.
They smelt and refine the true buddha-nature within themselves and pour it into the
mold formed by the rules of discipline. Acting in perfect accordance with the
-Buddha’s teaching, they naturally create a perfect likeness. ‘Me eternal, sublime
body isn’t subject to conditions or decay. If you seek the Truth but dont learn how to
make a true likeness, what will you use in its place?
And burning incense doesn’t mean ordinary material incense but the incense of the
intangible Dharma, which drives away filth, ignorance, and evil deeds with its
perfume. There are five kinds of such Dharma-incense. First is the incense of
morality, which means renouncing evil and cultivating virtue. Second is the incense
of meditation, which means deeply believing in the Mahayana with unwavering
resolve. Third is the incense of wisdom, which means contemplating the body and
mind, inside and out. Fourth is the incense of liberation, which means severing the
bonds of ignorance. And fifth is the incense of perfect knowledge, which means
being always aware and nowhere obstructed. These five are the most precious kinds
of incense and far superior to anything the world has to offer.
When the Buddha was in the world, he told his disciples to light such precious
incense with the fire of awareness as an offering to the Buddhas of the ten directions.
But people today don’t understand the Tathagata’s real meaning. They use an
ordinary flame to light material incense of sandalwood or frankincense and pray for
some future blessing that never comes.
For scattering flowers the same holds true. This refers to speaking the Dharma,
scattering flowers of virtue, in order to benefit others and glorify the real sell. These
flowers of virtue are those praised by the Buddha. They last forever and never fade.
And whoever scatters such flowers reaps infinite blessings. If you think the
Tathagata meant for people to harm plants by cutting off their flowers, you’re wrong.
Those who observe the precepts don’t injure any of the myriad life forms of heaven
and earth. If you hurt something by mistake, you suffer for it. But those who
intentionally break the precepts by injuring the living for the sake of future blessings
suffer even more, How could they let would-be blessings turn into sorrows?
The eternal lamp represents perfect awareness. Likening the illumination of
awareness to that of a lamp, those who seek liberation see their body as the lamp,
their mind as its wick, the addition of discipline as its oil, and the power of wisdom as
its flame. By lighting this lamp of perfect awareness they dispel all darkness and
delusion. And by passing this Dharma on to others they’re able to use one lamp to
light thousands of lamps. And because these lamps likewise light countless other
lamps, their light lasts forever.
Long ago, there was a Buddha named Dipamkara, or lamplighter. This was the
meaning of his name. But fools don’t understand the metaphors of the Tathagata.
Persisting in delusions and clinging to the tangible, they light lamps of everyday
vegetable oil and think that by illuminating the interiors of buildings they’re following
the Buddha’s teaching. How foolish! The light released by a Buddha from one curl
between his brows can illuminate countless worlds. An oil lamp is no help. Or do you
think otherwise?
Practicing all six periods of the day and night means constantly cultivating
enlightenment among the six senses and persevering in every form of awareness.
Never relaxing control over the six senses is what’s meant by all six periods. As for
walking around stupas, the stupa is your body and mind. When your awareness
circles your body and mind without stopping, this is called walking around a stupa.
The sages of long ago followed this path to nirvana. But people today don’t
understand what this means. Instead of looking inside they insist on looking outside.
They use their material bodies to walk around material stupas. And they keep at it
day and night, wearing themselves out in vain and coming no closer to their real self.
The same holds true for observing a fast. It’s useless unless you understand what
this really means. To fast means to regulate, to regulate your body and mind so that
they’re not distracted or disturbed. And to observe means to uphold, to uphold the
rules of discipline according to the Dharma. Fasting means guarding against the six
attractions on the outside and the three poisons on the inside and striving through
contemplation to purify your body and mind.
Fasting also includes five kinds of food. First there’s delight in the Dharma. This is
the delight that comes from acting in accordance with the Dharma. Second is
harmony in meditation. This is the harmony of body and mind that comes from
seeing through subject and object. Third is invocation, the invocation of Buddhas
with both your month and your mind. Fourth is resolution, the resolution to pursue
virtue whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. And fifth is liberation, the
liberation of your mind from worldly contamination. These five are the foods of
fasting. Unless a person eats these five pure foods, he’s wrong to think he’s fasting.
Also, once you stop eating the food of delusion, if you touch it again you break your
fast. And once you break it, you reap no blessing from it. The world is full of deluded
people who don’t see this. They indulge their body and mind in all manner of evil.
They give free rein to their passions and have no shame. And when they stop eating
ordinary food, they call it fasting. How absurd!
It’s the same with worshipping. You have to understand the meaning and adapt to
conditions. Meaning includes action and nonaction. Whoever understands this
follows the Dharma.
Worship means reverence and humility it means revering your real self and humbling
delusions. If you can wipe out evil desires and harbor good thoughts, even if nothing
shows its worship. Such form is its real form. The Lord wanted worldly people to
think of worship as expressing humility and subduing the mind. So he told them to
prostrate their bodies to show their reverence, to let the external express the internal,
to harmonize essence and form. Those who fail to cultivate the inner meaning and
concentrate instead on the outward expression never stop indulging in ignorance,
hatred, and evil while exhausting themselves to no avail. They can deceive others
with postures, remain shameless before sages and vain before mortals, but they’ll
never escape the Wheel, much less achieve any merit.
"What we have now is the best. He who can never be satisfied is a poor man, no matter how much he owns.

What you have results from karmic causes that you created, and what you'll gain hinges on karmic causes that you're creating."
-Master Sheng Yen

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Huseng » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:35 am

Ambrosius80 wrote:As for the reporter ending the article that way, I actually think a lot of Christian Western reporters have begun to downplay Buddhism in their articles.
What makes you think they're Christian?

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by WeiHan » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:14 am

I am not so sure if this article was written by a western christian reporter but misrepresenting Buddhism, setting up strawman to make buddhism looks bad is indeed one of the tactics deployed by christian to win Buddhist converts.

In China, they like to spam endless pamplets and emails to Buddhist monasteries (specific targets) with long theories of how Christianity is superior to Buddhism. One of the theories is that China embracing chirstianity full scale will lead to prosperity and world peace and other rubish. These have been rebutted point by point. Their scholarship seems shabby.

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by WeiHan » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:21 am

I don't understand why the link I provided is not wowrking anymore...

Anyway, the exact words from Milarepa was

The meditator in retreat on the mountain
And the benefactor who provides his or her sustenance
Share the mutual karma to reach buddhahood at the same time
Due to the blessing of the heart of dependent-arising.

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by dharmagoat » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:40 am

The meditator in retreat on the mountain
And the benefactor who provides his or her sustenance
Share the mutual karma to reach buddhahood at the same time
Due to the blessing of the heart of dependent-arising.
Doesn't a bodhisattva have this relationship with all beings?

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by WeiHan » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:07 am

dharmagoat wrote:
The meditator in retreat on the mountain
And the benefactor who provides his or her sustenance
Share the mutual karma to reach buddhahood at the same time
Due to the blessing of the heart of dependent-arising.
Doesn't a bodhisattva have this relationship with all beings?
Which relationship? There is definitely a difference if sustenance has been offered or not. The dependent origination law cannot be violated.

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by dharmagoat » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:51 am

WeiHan wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Doesn't a bodhisattva have this relationship with all beings?
Which relationship? There is definitely a difference if sustenance has been offered or not. The dependent origination law cannot be violated.
If, through the eons of our rebirth, all beings have been our benefactor at some time in the past, that would mean each of us has received sustenance from everyone else at some time. Or does what happens in previous lifetimes not apply?

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Ayu » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:41 am

One method to raise the bodhisattva intention is to think about all sentient beings as our mothers from former lifetimes. This creates a sentiment of love and thankfulness.

In the teachings about samsaric rebirths it is said: since time is beginningless, every being has been unknown people for us, our friends and our enemies before. It is said: "The fish you eat has been your father before, and your best friend today was your enemy before and will be an unknown person in future." Possibly.
I can sense that in this one lifetime already. :namaste:
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by WeiHan » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:52 am

dharmagoat wrote:
WeiHan wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:Doesn't a bodhisattva have this relationship with all beings?
Which relationship? There is definitely a difference if sustenance has been offered or not. The dependent origination law cannot be violated.
If, through the eons of our rebirth, all beings have been our benefactor at some time in the past, that would mean each of us has received sustenance from everyone else at some time. Or does what happens in previous lifetimes not apply?
Yes. The details does make differences in the appearance of dependent origination, the sequence of events etc... For example, the Buddha after gaining enlightenment, the first disciples that he chose to preach to were the six ascetics although he has equal love for all beings. And the details can be anything you can think of. For example, a mother providing for her child is different from a benefactor that provides for someone to practice out of bodhicitta.

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Ambrosius80 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:25 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Ambrosius80 wrote:As for the reporter ending the article that way, I actually think a lot of Christian Western reporters have begun to downplay Buddhism in their articles.
What makes you think they're Christian?
Just my personal speculation. Many times Christian reporters cherrypick quotes/opinions like this in their articles in order to make Buddhism look bad. Of course I could be wrong, and the reporter could have no grudge against Buddhism. But it makes you wonder why there wasn't another opinion, and why the article ends that way.
"What we have now is the best. He who can never be satisfied is a poor man, no matter how much he owns.

What you have results from karmic causes that you created, and what you'll gain hinges on karmic causes that you're creating."
-Master Sheng Yen

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by Huseng » Fri Apr 17, 2015 11:38 am

Ambrosius80 wrote: Just my personal speculation. Many times Christian reporters cherrypick quotes/opinions like this in their articles in order to make Buddhism look bad. Of course I could be wrong, and the reporter could have no grudge against Buddhism. But it makes you wonder why there wasn't another opinion, and why the article ends that way.
I doubt there's any Christian biases. If anything, professional journalists would be more secularist/atheist inclined and anti-religion.

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Re: China's super-rich communist Buddhists

Post by WeiHan » Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:00 pm

Ambrosius80 wrote: Just my personal speculation. Many times Christian reporters cherrypick quotes/opinions like this in their articles in order to make Buddhism look bad. Of course I could be wrong, and the reporter could have no grudge against Buddhism. But it makes you wonder why there wasn't another opinion, and why the article ends that way.
There is a latest religion affiliation survey results just out in 2015 for USA. The finding is that protestant affiliation has drop below the 50% mark to 47% for the first time in history. In my opinion, very few journalist in secular institutions in the west ever report from the christian viewpoint nowaday unless they are working for, for example, Christianity Today etc...In my view, religious people in advanced, democratic society seldom make up the majority. This is true in China, taiwan and it will be true in Western Europe , USA etc...Present statistics still reflect an unrealistically high religion affiliation in the west.

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