Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

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Aryjna
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Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Aryjna » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:56 am

Edit: double post
Last edited by Aryjna on Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Aryjna
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Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Aryjna » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:57 am

Gatinho wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:30 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:45 am


Nor is it modern.
Well I may be wrong of course - but the impression I get from reading the early days of lineages and the Tibetan/Indian culture and so on - is that the limitations of travel and communication meant that most practitioners had a fairly narrow range of choice in either the sect or individual teacher. It certainly wasn't like today with google and skype teachings I'm sure you'd agree.
I don't think this is really the case, though of course there was no internet. I'm pretty sure that in Tibet it was much easier to meet many more different teachers more easily than you can do that today in Europe or the US, though I could be wrong too of course.

I think there is a general impression that everything was in a way better or that people were better practitioners in Tibet in the past than they are today in the West, which is simply absurd. Or that being born in a buddhist country means that you necessarily have the slightest clue about the dharma. If anything, someone who is a cultural 'buddhist' is more likely to know absolutely nothing about the dharma other than customs and appearances compared to someone who actually took interest in it and studied it.

PeterC
Posts: 479
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by PeterC » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:56 am

Gatinho wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:30 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:45 am
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:18 am

Believe me it is not just a western phenomena
Nor is it modern.
Well I may be wrong of course - but the impression I get from reading the early days of lineages and the Tibetan/Indian culture and so on - is that the limitations of travel and communication meant that most practitioners had a fairly narrow range of choice in either the sect or individual teacher. It certainly wasn't like today with google and skype teachings I'm sure you'd agree.
Can I recommend:
https://www.amazon.com/Life-Marpa-Trans ... e+of+marpa

...as a counterpoint to that perception

Gatinho
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:32 pm

Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Gatinho » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:41 am

PeterC wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:56 am
Gatinho wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:30 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:45 am


Nor is it modern.
Well I may be wrong of course - but the impression I get from reading the early days of lineages and the Tibetan/Indian culture and so on - is that the limitations of travel and communication meant that most practitioners had a fairly narrow range of choice in either the sect or individual teacher. It certainly wasn't like today with google and skype teachings I'm sure you'd agree.
Can I recommend:
https://www.amazon.com/Life-Marpa-Trans ... e+of+marpa

...as a counterpoint to that perception
Thanks. I've read the life of Marpa several times. My understanding is that what made Marpa exceptional is his 2 (or 3 ) journeys to India to receive and bring back to Tibet teachings (apart from his mastery of said teachings). Although not unique it was, I thought, an unusual thing to do.

Gatinho
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:32 pm

Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Gatinho » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:15 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:57 am
Gatinho wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:30 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:45 am


Nor is it modern.
Well I may be wrong of course - but the impression I get from reading the early days of lineages and the Tibetan/Indian culture and so on - is that the limitations of travel and communication meant that most practitioners had a fairly narrow range of choice in either the sect or individual teacher. It certainly wasn't like today with google and skype teachings I'm sure you'd agree.
I don't think this is really the case, though of course there was no internet. I'm pretty sure that in Tibet it was much easier to meet many more different teachers more easily than you can do that today in Europe or the US, though I could be wrong too of course.

I think there is a general impression that everything was in a way better or that people were better practitioners in Tibet in the past than they are today in the West, which is simply absurd. Or that being born in a buddhist country means that you necessarily have the slightest clue about the dharma. If anything, someone who is a cultural 'buddhist' is more likely to know absolutely nothing about the dharma other than customs and appearances compared to someone who actually took interest in it and studied it.
I think if you are born into a Buddhist culture - while indeed it doesn't mean you necessarily understand dharma - it does mean you will receive an embedded conceptual/cultural framework (partly subconsciously) which gives you a basis that western Buddhist lack. Of course this can be turned to an advantage as everything is fresh for a westerner and not stale or 'establishment'. But in the same way those brought up in the West have what is basically a Judeo-Christian embedded cultural view which from my observation 'leaks' into dharma - what I mean is that many self professed western Buddhists are really still Christians in outlook. On top of this is the large number of dodgy translations of Buddhists texts where English is used which is only a loose fit for the original Sanskrit/Tibetan terms - so for us there is some sorting out to do.

Part of this might be - to keep on track with the OP - what exactly does samaya and the the First Root Downfall actually mean - not so much 'what' but 'why' - what's the point? Why is sticking to one teacher (or sect) being stressed and so on. If viewed from the Judeo-Christian POV it resonates with 'belief' - 'only through me will you come to the father' and so on. But perhaps this is a red herring. And I do mean this mistaken interpretation could be made by the teacher Ole Nydhal himself as well as his Diamond Way people.

Sorry if a bit rambling.

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Aryjna
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Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Aryjna » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:56 pm

Gatinho wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:15 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:57 am
Gatinho wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:30 pm


Well I may be wrong of course - but the impression I get from reading the early days of lineages and the Tibetan/Indian culture and so on - is that the limitations of travel and communication meant that most practitioners had a fairly narrow range of choice in either the sect or individual teacher. It certainly wasn't like today with google and skype teachings I'm sure you'd agree.
I don't think this is really the case, though of course there was no internet. I'm pretty sure that in Tibet it was much easier to meet many more different teachers more easily than you can do that today in Europe or the US, though I could be wrong too of course.

I think there is a general impression that everything was in a way better or that people were better practitioners in Tibet in the past than they are today in the West, which is simply absurd. Or that being born in a buddhist country means that you necessarily have the slightest clue about the dharma. If anything, someone who is a cultural 'buddhist' is more likely to know absolutely nothing about the dharma other than customs and appearances compared to someone who actually took interest in it and studied it.
I think if you are born into a Buddhist culture - while indeed it doesn't mean you necessarily understand dharma - it does mean you will receive an embedded conceptual/cultural framework (partly subconsciously) which gives you a basis that western Buddhist lack. Of course this can be turned to an advantage as everything is fresh for a westerner and not stale or 'establishment'. But in the same way those brought up in the West have what is basically a Judeo-Christian embedded cultural view which from my observation 'leaks' into dharma - what I mean is that many self professed western Buddhists are really still Christians in outlook. On top of this is the large number of dodgy translations of Buddhists texts where English is used which is only a loose fit for the original Sanskrit/Tibetan terms - so for us there is some sorting out to do.

Part of this might be - to keep on track with the OP - what exactly does samaya and the the First Root Downfall actually mean - not so much 'what' but 'why' - what's the point? Why is sticking to one teacher (or sect) being stressed and so on. If viewed from the Judeo-Christian POV it resonates with 'belief' - 'only through me will you come to the father' and so on. But perhaps this is a red herring. And I do mean this mistaken interpretation could be made by the teacher Ole Nydhal himself as well as his Diamond Way people.

Sorry if a bit rambling.
I don't know anything about Ole Nydahl specifically, but his refusal to allow his students to attend teachings by other teachers (if that is the case) is strange. I would not take as a teacher someone who wants to cut you off from other teachers. But in any case, we cannot generalize based on one person.

As for cultural buddhists, in my limited experience, they often really have no idea. They may think 'buddha' is a god to whom you pray and that is all. In that sense they can be exactly like Christians. It is the same with people who are Chistians in name only, in the West, just because it is the standard in their country and/or they were baptised as children but have never actually been to church other than for a wedding or something like that. What kind of conceptual network do you think a cultural buddhist can have, except maybe some vague idea of rebirth?

PeterC
Posts: 479
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by PeterC » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:12 pm

Gatinho wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:41 am
PeterC wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:56 am
Gatinho wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:30 pm


Well I may be wrong of course - but the impression I get from reading the early days of lineages and the Tibetan/Indian culture and so on - is that the limitations of travel and communication meant that most practitioners had a fairly narrow range of choice in either the sect or individual teacher. It certainly wasn't like today with google and skype teachings I'm sure you'd agree.
Can I recommend:
https://www.amazon.com/Life-Marpa-Trans ... e+of+marpa

...as a counterpoint to that perception
Thanks. I've read the life of Marpa several times. My understanding is that what made Marpa exceptional is his 2 (or 3 ) journeys to India to receive and bring back to Tibet teachings (apart from his mastery of said teachings). Although not unique it was, I thought, an unusual thing to do.

There are a lot of namtars that describe the subject seeking instruction from many teachers, though they always emphasize the relationship with the root guru

What I always liked about Marpa’s story is how different it feels from most - he’s a serious practitioner, but he’s also a translator that needs to make a living.

Gatinho
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:32 pm

Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Gatinho » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:25 pm

Aryjna wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:56 pm



I don't know anything about Ole Nydahl specifically, but his refusal to allow his students to attend teachings by other teachers (if that is the case) is strange. I would not take as a teacher someone who wants to cut you off from other teachers. But in any case, we cannot generalize based on one person.

As for cultural buddhists, in my limited experience, they often really have no idea. They may think 'buddha' is a god to whom you pray and that is all. In that sense they can be exactly like Christians. It is the same with people who are Chistians in name only, in the West, just because it is the standard in their country and/or they were baptised as children but have never actually been to church other than for a wedding or something like that. What kind of conceptual network do you think a cultural buddhist can have, except maybe some vague idea of rebirth?

I don't know much about Nydahl either - but I think it is possible to interpret his actions in more than one way. It may be that he is trying to control his students in a non-productive way or it may be that he is trying to preserve some kind of purity or authenticity for the teachings which he is passing on from 16th Karmapa. Either way I would be just speculating as to if this is a good thing or not.

As to the more general idea of conceptual frameworks I think that if you look at the Buddhas teachings themselves they are embedded in a Vedic (and Sramana) framework - rebirth, karma and samsara are not original views produced by the Buddha but more a case of reinterpretation of culturally embedded ideas which make sense within the context of dharma as a whole. It is also clear that as Buddhism travelled to new cultural environments there was 'interference' from those new environments. That is not to say that dharma deviated from core principles like the four seals - but that in certain periods the way in which dharma was understood changed. I don't know if you have read 'How Buddhism Acquired a Soul on the way to China' by Jungnok Park - this is based on his doctoral thesis presented at Oxford assessed by Cousins and Gombrich. In it he shows how for a period at least the Taoist concept of 'shen' was used to create the idea of an agent which migrates through samsaric incarnations - rather like 'atman'. This arose it seems because of the way in which translation of mahayana texts into Chinese occurred - which was actually quite a rigorous process but which allowed a kind of interference from classical Confucian and Taoist ideas as well as literary forms.

As far as the Judeo-Christian effect occurs - speaking personally I was raised humanist/atheist and so had very little direct Christian influence. However I realise that western culture (and even in some sense atheism) carries core themes from the Bible which informs values and attitudes. I observe in many Western Buddhists that they may or may not be Buddhist but they still have those same values and attitudes - I think this is particularly evident in phenomena like Secular Buddhism and so on - and also the popular acceptance of a historical narrative for Buddhist development which frequently compares things like the supposed Mahayana/Hinayana 'schism' as being like Protestant/Catholic schisms, the reaction to the tantras as being odious and decadent, and even the the presentation of the Buddha as a rational, atheist, humanist philosopher. Scholars have done a lot to deconstruct these myths but they still persist.

Gatinho
Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:32 pm

Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Gatinho » Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:28 pm

PeterC wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:12 pm
Gatinho wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:41 am
PeterC wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:56 am


Can I recommend:
https://www.amazon.com/Life-Marpa-Trans ... e+of+marpa

...as a counterpoint to that perception
Thanks. I've read the life of Marpa several times. My understanding is that what made Marpa exceptional is his 2 (or 3 ) journeys to India to receive and bring back to Tibet teachings (apart from his mastery of said teachings). Although not unique it was, I thought, an unusual thing to do.

There are a lot of namtars that describe the subject seeking instruction from many teachers, though they always emphasize the relationship with the root guru

What I always liked about Marpa’s story is how different it feels from most - he’s a serious practitioner, but he’s also a translator that needs to make a living.
yes Marpa is personal hero of mine :)

User avatar
Aryjna
Posts: 826
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: Ole Nydahl´s sectarian meltdown

Post by Aryjna » Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:03 pm

Gatinho wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:25 pm
Aryjna wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:56 pm



I don't know anything about Ole Nydahl specifically, but his refusal to allow his students to attend teachings by other teachers (if that is the case) is strange. I would not take as a teacher someone who wants to cut you off from other teachers. But in any case, we cannot generalize based on one person.

As for cultural buddhists, in my limited experience, they often really have no idea. They may think 'buddha' is a god to whom you pray and that is all. In that sense they can be exactly like Christians. It is the same with people who are Chistians in name only, in the West, just because it is the standard in their country and/or they were baptised as children but have never actually been to church other than for a wedding or something like that. What kind of conceptual network do you think a cultural buddhist can have, except maybe some vague idea of rebirth?

I don't know much about Nydahl either - but I think it is possible to interpret his actions in more than one way. It may be that he is trying to control his students in a non-productive way or it may be that he is trying to preserve some kind of purity or authenticity for the teachings which he is passing on from 16th Karmapa. Either way I would be just speculating as to if this is a good thing or not.

As to the more general idea of conceptual frameworks I think that if you look at the Buddhas teachings themselves they are embedded in a Vedic (and Sramana) framework - rebirth, karma and samsara are not original views produced by the Buddha but more a case of reinterpretation of culturally embedded ideas which make sense within the context of dharma as a whole. It is also clear that as Buddhism travelled to new cultural environments there was 'interference' from those new environments. That is not to say that dharma deviated from core principles like the four seals - but that in certain periods the way in which dharma was understood changed. I don't know if you have read 'How Buddhism Acquired a Soul on the way to China' by Jungnok Park - this is based on his doctoral thesis presented at Oxford assessed by Cousins and Gombrich. In it he shows how for a period at least the Taoist concept of 'shen' was used to create the idea of an agent which migrates through samsaric incarnations - rather like 'atman'. This arose it seems because of the way in which translation of mahayana texts into Chinese occurred - which was actually quite a rigorous process but which allowed a kind of interference from classical Confucian and Taoist ideas as well as literary forms.

As far as the Judeo-Christian effect occurs - speaking personally I was raised humanist/atheist and so had very little direct Christian influence. However I realise that western culture (and even in some sense atheism) carries core themes from the Bible which informs values and attitudes. I observe in many Western Buddhists that they may or may not be Buddhist but they still have those same values and attitudes - I think this is particularly evident in phenomena like Secular Buddhism and so on - and also the popular acceptance of a historical narrative for Buddhist development which frequently compares things like the supposed Mahayana/Hinayana 'schism' as being like Protestant/Catholic schisms, the reaction to the tantras as being odious and decadent, and even the the presentation of the Buddha as a rational, atheist, humanist philosopher. Scholars have done a lot to deconstruct these myths but they still persist.
There are of course cultural differences. Even if some of them are partly based on the dominant religion, I do not think they really make a difference in regards to how good a practitioner or how good an understanding of the dharma someone may have, as long as they actively study and practice. At least I have not noticed any such influence by their background in people I have met, both those culturally buddhist and those culturally something else. Whenever something has stood out, it was that someone who is supposedly familiar with this or that religion, because he was born into it, had a very superficial or even completely mistaken understanding of it.

As for the various examples, I don't see them as very relevant in this particular sense (affecting how effective one's practice is), for different reasons. Secular buddhists are not buddhists in the first place, atheism is in most cases not really something people have looked too much into, it is a rejection of Christianity and as such closely related to it, academic scholars are irrelevant to the whole thing in my opinion.

But of course I cannot speak for everyone, these are my own observations in people that I have met, and I haven't really had long discussions with too many practitioners so far.

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