How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

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plwk
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How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by plwk » Sun Apr 12, 2015 6:30 pm

Image

If you had told me as recently as a few years ago that I'd ever become a Buddhist -- never mind that I might even admit to it publicly -- I would have coughed my beer up through my nose.

Then comes this part...
Some Buddhist purists are upset about this trend; they call it "McMindfulness."
While I share some of their concerns, I largely disagree. I think stripping the Buddhist language out of the practice makes it attractive to millions of people who don't want to be involved with religion -- or who fear being dragooned into abandoning their current religious beliefs.


More here

Okies... what do you guys think? :popcorn:

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Luke
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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Luke » Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:51 pm

I never met Harris, so I can't judge his character, but based on just that article, it seems like his main focus is himself. His main point seems to be that Buddhist meditation makes him feel better. That's good and I am happy he was able to use a few Buddhist techniques to improve his life, but I don't really understand why he calls himself a Buddhist because he didn't say anything in the article which is unique to Buddhism (although perhaps this was intentional to try to avoid making mainstream Christian readers uncomfortable. lol ).
If all one wants is a little meditation instruction and a little bit of ethical guidance, that can be found in many eastern religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc.

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Motova » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:10 pm

Although the article is new, the subject is old... so I just skimmed it.

He is not a Buddhist, because he doesn't take refuge in the Three Jewels.

I think a better subject would be the level of the connection he has made with the Buddhadharma.

Has he made a connection with the Buddhadharma or a secular brand of meditation and ethics called, "Secular Buddhism"?
Last edited by Motova on Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:11 pm

Luke wrote:....he didn't say anything in the article which is unique to Buddhism
Hi Luke,

Just so we're all on the same page (sort of), what do you see as being "unique to Buddhism"?

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Motova » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:12 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Luke wrote:....he didn't say anything in the article which is unique to Buddhism
Hi Luke,

Just so we're all on the same page (sort of), what do you see as being "unique to Buddhism"?
:roll:

:popcorn:
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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Luke » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:19 pm

Lazy_eye wrote: Hi Luke,

Just so we're all on the same page (sort of), what do you see as being "unique to Buddhism"?
The Four Seals of Dharma

http://www.lionsroar.com/buddhism-nutsh ... ls-dharma/

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:21 pm

Not sure what the eye-rolling is about, Motova. Buddhism contains many elements that are not unique to it; the brahma viharas for example. Karma and reincarnation are not unique to Buddhism. The principle of "do no harm" (ahimsa) is found in Jainism. There is some overlap of teachings among the various Sramana movements. Luke didn't specify what he meant precisely; hence the follow-up question.

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by smcj » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:35 pm

The first piece of advice I ever got from my teacher was, "Do not criticize--or even formulate an opinion--on anyone's spiritual practice, whether your own or another's." He went on to say that since I cannot see how someone's karma is working the only thing I have to base such an opinion on is my own ignorance--which by definition does not see things as they really are. That was in the late '70s and to this day I have not yet been able to fully implement that first little piece of sane advice.

However vis-a-vis the current internet discussion of what constitutes "a Buddhist" I'd like to offer an opinion on that definition, and that is simply "has someone taken refuge"? By refuge I mean accepting that the teachings of the Buddha come from an enlightened awareness that is qualitatively superior to their own. By that definition this man is a Buddhist I think. (Plus realistically that definition would cover most of the lay population in East Asia.) And what that definition does is remove the barrier of having to accept certain tenets in order to start to practice. I think that is important.

That's not to say that I'm not in the right-wing camp in terms of what constitutes orthodoxy here at DW. I most certainly am. The distinction I make is I do not think that people should be allowed to make their limited/more secular interpretation of Dharma and say that is what the Buddha actually taught. That is entirely different than simply saying, "I can't buy into that idea (yet)." Making someone bite off more than they can chew is an impediment, but allowing them to water the teachings down to them comfortable and self-satisfied with their limited awareness is not the answer. See ChNN's quote in my signature at the bottom of all my posts.
Last edited by smcj on Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:01 pm, edited 4 times in total.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:49 pm

Although I'm not in the right-wing/orthodox camp, I generally agree with what you wrote, smcj. (Or maybe you just wrote it so eloquently that I'm inclined to agree!).

There were a few things said in the article that I'd quibble with. However, I thought it was significant that he stressed the importance of ethics. That is precisely what is overlooked across much of the secular mindfulness movement.

It's true that ethics and meditation alone don't constitute Buddhadharma. However, the focus for laypeople is often on ethics and cultivation of paramitas, with or without meditation. For example, I have a couple of Hsing Yun's books ("Humanistic Buddhism" and "Living Affinity") and they are largely about ethical qualities and developing a Buddhist outlook. The perspective really isn't all that different from the one presented by Dan Harris in the article. I think there's a tendency for the "black belts" in the Buddhist world to beat up on the white and yellow belts, so to speak -- and that impulse may be worth looking into.

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Motova » Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:56 pm

smcj wrote:The first piece of advice I ever got from my teacher was, "Do not criticize, or even formulate an opinion, on anyone's spiritual practice, your own or another's." He went on to say that since I cannot see how someone's karma is working the only thing I have to base such an opinion on is my own ignorance--which by definition does not see things as they really are. That was in the late '70s and to this day I have not yet been able to accomplish that one little piece of sane advice.

However vis-a-vis the current internet discussion of what constitutes "a Buddhist" I'd like to offer an opinion on that definition, and that is simply "has someone taken refuge"? By refuge I mean accepting that the teachings of the Buddha come from an enlightened awareness that is qualitatively superior to their own. By that definition this man is a Buddhist I think. Plus realistically that definition would cover most of the lay population in East Asia. And what that definition does is remove the barrier of having to accept certain tenets in order to start to practice. I think that is important.

That's not to say that I'm not in the right-wing camp in terms of what constitutes orthodoxy here at DW. The distinction I make is I do not think that people should be allowed to make their limited/more secular interpretation of Dharma and say that is what the Buddha actually taught. That is different than simply "I can't buy into that idea (yet)." Making someone bite off more than they can chew is an impediment, but allowing them to water it down to fit their limited awareness is not the answer. See ChNN's quote in my signature below.
If you have sincere openness and are persistent in practice then faith will arise and you will take Refuge. It's a fact. Karma. Cause and effect.

Taking Refuge is black and white with me. It's not criticizing. If I see a dog I call it a dog and if I see a cat I call it a cat.

Of course it's awesome when someone develops an interest in the Buddhadharma and tries to put into practice.

But lets be real people, the degradation of Buddhism is real and is happening. Secular Buddhism is the start (even if it may lead some people to the Buddhadharma).
To become a rain man one must master the ten virtues and sciences.

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:48 pm

Read this article just before it got posted here heh.

I think it illustrates very well the conundrum of "mindfulness", and the interest in Buddhism currently, usually adopted in a form where (like this guy) it's as safe and culturally accessible as possible.

On the one hand, he makes ridiculous assertions like saying the Buddha taught that you could 'take or leave" Karma and Rebirth (really a downright silly thing to say and he could rid himself of such an incorrect notion just by reading a couple Sutta/Sutra), on the other..he clearly has experienced that Buddhadharma is transformative and is unique..that should be cause for celebration, rather than condemnation.

So to me the thing is to table any desire to "convert" people like him to the parts of Buddhism that make them uncomfortable, without bending over backwards to accommodate their skepticism, when I end up in conversation with them, which is pretty frequently. I think it's possible to strike a balance in our interactions with others (maybe polemics on DW notwithstanding;)) where we allow them to work with their skepticism while not allowing them to co -opt Buddhadharma into something it clearly is not historically.

Basically, I agree with smcj:)
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:55 pm

Motova wrote:
If you have sincere openness and are persistent in practice then faith will arise and you will take Refuge. It's a fact. Karma. Cause and effect.

Taking Refuge is black and white with me. It's not criticizing. If I see a dog I call it a dog and if I see a cat I call it a cat.

Of course it's awesome when someone develops an interest in the Buddhadharma and tries to put into practice.

But lets be real people, the degradation of Buddhism is real and is happening. Secular Buddhism is the start (even if it may lead some people to the Buddhadharma).
None of the secular Buddhists will ever listen to you, or be interested in what you say, because you present yourself as an (often shrill) proselytizer, and base almost all of your arguments on simple scriptural authority, and declarations of faith in the manner of many Christians, rather than examination of said scriptures. IMO your attitude could in some circumstances act as a preventative to them actually more fully embracing Dharma.

It of course won't offend the sensibilities of "converts" who have already taken refuge (other than maybe questioning your intellectual rigor), they will just see you as of the more fundamentalist camp, or just too lazy to really engage. I don't know if you interact with the continuum of people we are calling "secular Buddhist" IRL..I do pretty regularly. I can say in all honestly that what they seem to respect is actual in depth discussion of Buddhist doctrine and explanations of where they might be wrong, rather than blanket condemnations of them - we should respect anyone, -including secular Buddhists- enough to grant them that.

Like I said, I believe it's possible to both respect where people are at, while still refuting wrong view about what the Buddha taught. The point at issue is statements like "The Buddha said you can take or leave karma" - that should be refuted, but it should be refuted (and can be) quite simply by pointing even to things like the Turning The Wheel of Dhamma sutta...this is an easy choice to show people who will likely be attracted to "original Buddhism" and immediately refutes claims like the above.

In short, it's possible to argue for right views while not being shitty or exclusionary towards people, IMO.
Taking Refuge is black and white with me. It's not criticizing. If I see a dog I call it a dog and if I see a cat I call it a cat.
Well thankfully you're not anyone's teacher, because if you were i'd predict an empty Dharma center, empty Dharma talks with an approach like that, honesty with and respect towards people are not mutually exclusive, and the best teachers I've met manage both very well, without any notion of selling real Dharma down the river.
Of course it's awesome when someone develops an interest in the Buddhadharma and tries to put into practice.
And yet, given your comment on things being black and white, you are capable of seeing what is bad about people's situations only, and not of acknowledging what is good, or could grow into something deeper.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by dzogchungpa » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:02 pm

There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Motova » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:16 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Motova wrote:
If you have sincere openness and are persistent in practice then faith will arise and you will take Refuge. It's a fact. Karma. Cause and effect.

Taking Refuge is black and white with me. It's not criticizing. If I see a dog I call it a dog and if I see a cat I call it a cat.

Of course it's awesome when someone develops an interest in the Buddhadharma and tries to put into practice.

But lets be real people, the degradation of Buddhism is real and is happening. Secular Buddhism is the start (even if it may lead some people to the Buddhadharma).
None of the secular Buddhists will ever listen to you, or be interested in what you say, because you present yourself as an (often shrill) proselytizer, and base almost all of your arguments on simple scriptural authority, and declarations of faith in the manner of many Christians, rather than examination of said scriptures. IMO your attitude could in some circumstances act as a preventative to them actually more fully embracing Dharma.

It of course won't offend the sensibilities of "converts" who have already taken refuge (other than maybe questioning your intellectual rigor), they will just see you as of the more fundamentalist camp. I don't know if you interact with the continuum of people we are calling "secular Buddhist" IRL..I do pretty regularly. I can say in all honestly that what they seem to respect is actual in depth discussion of Buddhist doctrine and explanations of where they might be wrong, rather than blanket condemnations of them - we should respect anyone, -including secular Buddhists- enough to grant them that.

Like I said, I believe it's possible to both respect where people are at, while still refuting wrong view about what the Buddha taught. The point at issue is statements like "The Buddha said you can take or leave karma" - that should be refuted, but it should be refuted (and can be) quite simply by pointing even to things like the Turning The Wheel of Dhamma sutta...this is an easy choice to show people who will likely be attracted to "original Buddhism" and immediately refutes claims like the above.

In short, it's possible to argue for right views while not being shitty or exclusionary towards people, IMO.
JD, I'm not attacking or converting anyone. I doubt you have the capacity to judge me accurately through reading my posts.

I just tell it how it is. Someone needs to.

I have no inclination to interact with "secular Buddhists" to be honest. I actually never have interacted with them (that's the beauty of going to Tibetan Buddhist temples :jumping:), besides on this forum.

There's no such thing as fundamentalism in Buddhadharma, unless you count fundamentalism as taking refuge.
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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:18 pm

Motova wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Motova wrote:
If you have sincere openness and are persistent in practice then faith will arise and you will take Refuge. It's a fact. Karma. Cause and effect.

Taking Refuge is black and white with me. It's not criticizing. If I see a dog I call it a dog and if I see a cat I call it a cat.

Of course it's awesome when someone develops an interest in the Buddhadharma and tries to put into practice.

But lets be real people, the degradation of Buddhism is real and is happening. Secular Buddhism is the start (even if it may lead some people to the Buddhadharma).
None of the secular Buddhists will ever listen to you, or be interested in what you say, because you present yourself as an (often shrill) proselytizer, and base almost all of your arguments on simple scriptural authority, and declarations of faith in the manner of many Christians, rather than examination of said scriptures. IMO your attitude could in some circumstances act as a preventative to them actually more fully embracing Dharma.

It of course won't offend the sensibilities of "converts" who have already taken refuge (other than maybe questioning your intellectual rigor), they will just see you as of the more fundamentalist camp. I don't know if you interact with the continuum of people we are calling "secular Buddhist" IRL..I do pretty regularly. I can say in all honestly that what they seem to respect is actual in depth discussion of Buddhist doctrine and explanations of where they might be wrong, rather than blanket condemnations of them - we should respect anyone, -including secular Buddhists- enough to grant them that.

Like I said, I believe it's possible to both respect where people are at, while still refuting wrong view about what the Buddha taught. The point at issue is statements like "The Buddha said you can take or leave karma" - that should be refuted, but it should be refuted (and can be) quite simply by pointing even to things like the Turning The Wheel of Dhamma sutta...this is an easy choice to show people who will likely be attracted to "original Buddhism" and immediately refutes claims like the above.

In short, it's possible to argue for right views while not being shitty or exclusionary towards people, IMO.
JD, I'm not attacking or converting anyone. I doubt you have the capacity to judge me like that.

I just tell it how it is. Someone needs to.

I have no inclination to interact with "secular Buddhists" to be honest. I actually never have interacted with them (that's the beauty of going to Tibetan Buddhist temples :jumping:), besides on this forum.

There's no such thing as fundamentalism in Buddhadharma, unless you count fundamentalism as taking refuge.
I can judge how you sometimes behave on the forum, which is quite often condemning the positions of others with little or no actual debate, and reliance on articles of faith rather than any attempt at reasoning of positions, or engaging with others. I don't need any great capacity to see that. Indeed there is no usch thing fundamentalism, outside of people's behavior.

There are plenty of "secular Buddhists" that at least walk into Tibetan temples, IME. Plenty of Tibetan Buddhist leaders and teachers (obviously) also often teach to non-Buddhists, including basic meditation instructions. I think if the issue were as simple as you are making it out to be, that would be far less common than it is, and one of my teachers (who is Tibetan, and a Loppon btw) regularly gives public talks to people of varying levels of interest and commitment - not exactly a rare thing to happen.
I just tell it how it is. Someone needs to.
Who exactly are you trying to "tell it how it is", and to what benefit would that be? I think your approach to this question (screw em if they don't agree with me) is unskillful.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Motova » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:41 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
I can judge how you sometimes behave on the forum, which is quite often condemning the positions of others with little or no actual debate, and reliance on articles of faith rather than any attempt at reasoning of positions, or engaging with others. I don't need any great capacity to see that.

There are plenty of "secular Buddhists" that at least walk into Tibetan temples, IME. Plenty of Tibetan Buddhist leaders and teachers (obviously) also often teach to non-Buddhists, including basic meditation instructions. I think if the issue were as simple as you are making it out to be, that would be far less common than it is.
I just tell it how it is. Someone needs to.
Who exactly are you trying to "tell it how it is", and to what benefit would it be?
JD, lately I have just been distinguishing what taking refuge is and what it isn't. It is not being unkind, I just don't want to feed ignorance as that would be unkind. Refuge is the base of all vows.

You don't know me, so don't judge me.

Anyways, I don't want to debate refuge anymore.

:techproblem:
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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:42 pm

Motova wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
I can judge how you sometimes behave on the forum, which is quite often condemning the positions of others with little or no actual debate, and reliance on articles of faith rather than any attempt at reasoning of positions, or engaging with others. I don't need any great capacity to see that.

There are plenty of "secular Buddhists" that at least walk into Tibetan temples, IME. Plenty of Tibetan Buddhist leaders and teachers (obviously) also often teach to non-Buddhists, including basic meditation instructions. I think if the issue were as simple as you are making it out to be, that would be far less common than it is.
I just tell it how it is. Someone needs to.
Who exactly are you trying to "tell it how it is", and to what benefit would it be?
JD, lately I have just been distinguishing what taking refuge is and what it isn't. It is not being unkind, I just don't want to feed ignorance as that would be unkind. Refuge is the base of all vows.

You don't know me, so don't judge me.

Anyways, I don't want to debate refuge anymore.

:techproblem:
I'm not judging you, i'm judging your behavior and statements, after reasoning why they seem problematic, from my point of view.

If you can't handle that, or aren't into it, that's fine.

I am no big fan of 'secular Buddhism' myself, I just don't think the rigid viewpoint you are displaying here is any particular solution to it. If it was, I think I would see more leaders within Vajrayana writing polemics, distancing themselves from certain "types" of people as students etc...but that is not what I see, in fact as I mentioned the most skillful teachers i've seen seem able to work with whatever neuroses, and are often pretty patient about it, and still manage to teach authentic "full deal" Dharma.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

smcj
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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by smcj » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:20 am

Anyways, I don't want to debate refuge anymore.
Actually I think that is perhaps the most significant topic not talked about here at DW. Good to see that you recognize it as important!
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:36 am

smcj wrote:
Anyways, I don't want to debate refuge anymore.
Actually I think that is perhaps the most significant topic not talked about here at DW. Good to see that you recognize it as important!

Along this line, while it can't be said the guy in the article takes refuge in the traditional sense at all, I did highlight the fact that he sees Buddhadharma as unique and transformative....IME that kind of thought can be the seed of seeking something deeper. For that reason, I actually thought a portion of the article was hopeful..

He also knew Eckhart Tolle was doing a hack job heh.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

smcj
Posts: 6393
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: How a skeptical anchorman became a Buddhist

Post by smcj » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:46 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Along this line, while it can't be said the guy in the article takes refuge in the traditional sense at all, I did highlight the fact that he sees Buddhadharma as unique and transformative....IME that kind of thought can be the seed of seeking something deeper. For that reason, I actually thought a portion of the article was hopeful..
The awareness with which one recognizes the source(s) of refuge is a matter of degree. You've got to start where you are.

There also is a gamut in styles in what constitutes "Taking Refuge". The Shravakayana has one style, the Mahayana and Vajrayana are a bit different. I personally am still a bit confused about "the Resultant Refuge" is. I have my guesses, but I haven't had my understanding confirmed by anyone that actually knows that stuff, i.e. a lineage lama.
He also knew Eckhart Tolle was doing a hack job heh.
He's got to start where he is too.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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