Surprises in Buddhism?

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dharmapdx
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:50 am

That whole “pain is just an illusion” and “you don’t really exist” talk also goes on among students of “A Course in Miracles.” As I posted above, I was very close to Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, one of the most well-respected teachers of “a course in miracles.” He has many students all over the world. Common sense would seem to dictate that in mourning the loss of Ken Wapnick, I would be able to turn to his students for compassion and reassurance. To be fair, some were indeed compassionate…. But I remember one of his students asking me, “Who is the one who is doing the mourning?” Which was her way of telling me that I don’t exist. LOL. I got a lot of those weird statements from his students.

And that brings me to what has been a positive surprise for me about Nichiren Buddhism: how pragmatic and down-to-earth it is. From what I’ve seen so far, Nichiren Buddhists don’t get that hung up on metaphysics.


Ogyen wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:13 am
I've had a few shockers ... I do understand people are people whenever you go and that 90% mean well albeit ignorance has a way of deviating the course of action to unskillfulness, bigotry, and prejudice.

Major shocker #1: the amount of abuse that happens in monasteries from rape to abusive treatment in the stronger to weaker... Saddening.

Major shocker #2: sexism is the same (rampant) as it is everywhere else.

Major shocker #3: institutionalized Buddhism is the same as any other religion with all its drawbacks, human politics, and sects.

Major shocker #4: how online Buddhists treat each other. Many are just as self-righteous and even less compassionate than Christians (hey at least they preach God is love, mean buddhists tell people their pain is an illusion, and that they don't really exist... :jawdrop: ).. I had a major brain freeze trying to understand this... It was truly shocking. (I'm not referring to DW)

Major shocker #5: how many practitioners in their own traditions lack respect for other traditions that differ from THEIR Dharma... Like Theravadans who say Sutra is basically some scholars opinions, or mahayanists who think the only authority is shakyamuni and that every other Buddha is an invention, or that termas are dreams and delusions, and all those types of situations...

The list goes on...

:meditate:

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:51 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:50 am
And that brings me to what has been a positive surprise for me about Nichiren Buddhism: how pragmatic and down-to-earth it is. From what I’ve seen so far, Nichiren Buddhists don’t get that hung up on metaphysics.
Thank Zhiyi for that. His teachings cut like a Diamond Scalpel.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:32 pm

If I may resurrect this … I suppose one thing I was trying to say was: before I started attending a temple before I started chanting, I had a perception that Buddhism was about “peace.” I suppose therefore I thought that any Buddhist institution, and any Buddhist people, I encountered would be “peaceful.” It was a surprise to me to become involved with various institutions and rather than finding peaceful people, find a lot of fighting.

Maybe what I’m getting around to saying is … it was a surprise to me to find that when you get down to it, buddhism is just like any other religion. Or, “people are people” as they say.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:30 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:32 pm
buddhism is just like any other religion. Or, “people are people” as they say.
I disagree with the former statement. The latter seems about right.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:42 am

split question about how Buddhism is different than was there religions.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by smcj » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:36 am

Buddhism is for people that have defiled minds. If you're enlightened you don't need it anymore. That's in the texts.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Ogyen » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:53 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:30 pm
dharmapdx wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:32 pm
buddhism is just like any other religion. Or, “people are people” as they say.
I disagree with the former statement. The latter seems about right.
I agree with the former statement because institutional Buddhism IS like any other religion with a need to support itself, its vinaya with resources and with a code of conduct for its sangha, that is also btw, based in the same fallacies the rest of the world's religions operate. The people created Buddhism, the Buddha simply mastered dharma.

Dharma on the other hand is beyond institution. And as such is not a religion.
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The Heart Drive - nosce te ipsum

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Minobu » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:42 pm

smcj wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:36 am
Buddhism is for people that have defiled minds. If you're enlightened you don't need it anymore. That's in the texts.
And yet buddhism is for others as well...
So once all cleaned up and enlightened one still does for others...so is it really over?

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Ogyen » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:03 am

Minobu wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:42 pm
So once all cleaned up and enlightened one still does for others...so is it really over?
It's definitely over for your delusion. Ignorance may continue for a few bhumis.
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The Heart Drive - nosce te ipsum

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by illarraza » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:22 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:31 pm
Thanks for the responses, everyone. This has all given me a lot to think about….

With regard to the social hierarchy in Buddhist organizations, I suppose the deeper issue for me is I suppose I don't understand why Buddhist organizations are even necessary to begin with. Which kind of brings me to the New Age issue I referred to above. Most New Age activities are do-it-yourself, and I suppose I had expected Buddhism to be the same. I can understand for example why a publishing house may be necessary to publish books about Buddhist philosophy. But I guess I had considered that the closest one would need to come to being involved with a Buddhist organization would be to read the books published by the publisher. The publisher being "the Buddhist organization" itself.

I suppose I just need to get it out of my head that Buddhism is a do-it-yourself philosophy. I suppose one reason I have come to believe that it was DIY, is because for the Buddha … it basically WAS. He found his enlightenment while alone in the forest.

With regard to social hierarchy, I wish that having social hierarchy would ensure that the people at the top were humane. But what I have seen -- and this includes Buddhist organizations -- is people who want social status simply for the sake of social status, and then they become tyrants. Buddhism is simply a means to an end for them, the end being social status. For someone who has no interest in social status -- for an anarchist -- this is just entirely unappealing.

Not just unappealing. In my opinion this emphasis on social hierarchy is also superficial.
You are correct. Buddhists organizations are not necessary.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dude » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:54 pm

And yet buddhism is for others as well...
So once all cleaned up and enlightened one still does for others...so is it really over?

It's up to you.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:29 pm

Was recently reminded of another surprise in Buddhism…. This Buddhism (Nichiren Buddhism) doesn’t feel like “Buddhism” at all. Before people feel insulted, hear me out….

I was introduced to Buddhism in the late 1990s by way of Americanized “pop culture” Tibetan Buddhism and Thich Nhat Hanh, with this emphasis on the Four Noble Truths. I don’t know about you, but that first “truth” is highly unattractive to me: “All life is suffering.” I appreciated the peacefulness in the Buddhism I was introduced to, and was fascinated by the Dalai Lama’s story. But what a miserable philosophy…. Who on earth would want to practice that? (Note: I was actually introduced to THE FIGURE of Buddha when I was a child visiting Japan. I was fascinated by the figure of Buddha, but no one was about to explain Buddhist philosophy to a 7-year-old American boy.)

As a practicing Nichiren Buddhist, I am often dumbfounded by how unlike this Buddhism is from my initial introduction to Buddhism via that grim First Noble Truth. To be honest, I can see why some would say Nichiren Buddhism (particularly SGI, which I now practice) isn’t even Buddhism at all. And that’s fine with me. Whatever this is, it works for me.

Note: I recall a discussion earlier where Q wrote that the Four Noble Truths are subsumed into NMRK and thus become more or less irrelevant to Nichiren Buddhism. Still, this is all a surprise….

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by markatex » Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:02 am

Well, this really has to do with the way Buddhism has been presented in Western countries.

East Asian Buddhism is a very different thing than Indian or Tibetan Buddhism, and different still from the Theravada Buddhism of SE Asia. Really, the only form of East Asian Buddhism widely known here is Zen.

Academics for a long time have championed Theravada as the “original” Buddhism, so teachings like the Four Noble Truths have been presented as “real” Buddhism, while the Mahayana was, in decades past, regarded as superstitious folk belief for Chinese and Tibetan yokels. That isn’t so much the case anymore, but there still remains this general idea that Mahayana (and especially East Asian Mahayana) is a degraded form, except for Zen.

East Asian Buddhism does not emphasize the Four Noble Truths, and sometimes even looks a bit askance at them. They’re technically foundational, but not really talked about much.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:45 am

That’s interesting. I actually remember hearing a Nichiren Shu minister refer to the Four Noble Truths as “basic Buddhism.”

I’m aware of the academic distaste for Mahayana. I think Nichiren Buddhism and Pureland Buddhism would be, almost dismissively, categorized as “ethnic Buddhism.”

I remember reading, in a Nichiren Shoshu book, that no one can really give a definitive definition of what Buddhism is. Different people simply have different definitions.

markatex wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:02 am
Well, this really has to do with the way Buddhism has been presented in Western countries.

East Asian Buddhism is a very different thing than Indian or Tibetan Buddhism, and different still from the Theravada Buddhism of SE Asia. Really, the only form of East Asian Buddhism widely known here is Zen.

Academics for a long time have championed Theravada as the “original” Buddhism, so teachings like the Four Noble Truths have been presented as “real” Buddhism, while the Mahayana was, in decades past, regarded as superstitious folk belief for Chinese and Tibetan yokels. That isn’t so much the case anymore, but there still remains this general idea that Mahayana (and especially East Asian Mahayana) is a degraded form, except for Zen.

East Asian Buddhism does not emphasize the Four Noble Truths, and sometimes even looks a bit askance at them. They’re technically foundational, but not really talked about much.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:43 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:29 pm
Note: I recall a discussion earlier where Q wrote that the Four Noble Truths are subsumed into NMRK and thus become more or less irrelevant to Nichiren Buddhism. Still, this is all a surprise….
You might find my recent comment here interesting: viewtopic.php?f=39&t=28774&start=20#p452429

Nichiren's teachings are Sudden and Perfect as explained by Zhiyi.
In Zhiyi's Mohezhikuan, (translated by Swanson as "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight"), you can find an explanation how the 4NT are understood in the various teachings.

Arising and Perishing (Tripitaka view) - "suffering and the causes of suffering are the causes and results of the mundane world, and the path and extinction are the causes and results for transcending the world." This takes suffering as real, and transcendence as something other than the real. (Not unreal, either. Simply beyond possibility of definition in terms that arise and perish). The goal is to exhaust karma completely.

Neither Arising Nor Perishing (Shared View) - "suffering is not an afflication and all things are empty... neither do the causes have any mark of coalescing - both cause and effect are empty... The path has the mark of non-duality; there is no one who overcomes and nothing that is overcome." This takes only emptiness as real. The goal is to settle completely into emptiness.

Immeasurable (Separate View) - "a discriminating analysis of suffering reveals that existence has immeasurable marks... the causes have immeasurable marks...the path has innumerable marks... extinction has innumerable marks... these means are empty in themselves; innumerable in their primary and auxiliary variations, but are all not innumerable. Although they are not innumerable, nevertheless you can make innumerable distinctions without confusion or disorder." This takes suffering as empty, but freely resorts to convention to alleviate suffering. This is embodied in the highly advanced bodhisattva who tirelessly works for the liberation of other beings while dwelling in emptiness themselves.

Spontaneous (Sudden) - "The Four Truths are spontaneous and are all the true aspect and are beyond conceptual understanding. It is not only that the supreme truth lacks multiplicity." This takes suffering as such, the causes of suffering as such, the path as such, and the result as such. There is an element of the immeasurable here, but the difference is that where emptiness and conventions are understood as distinct in the Immeasurable view (like the convention that light is composed of waves or particles, and never both, depending on how you look at it), in the Sudden view, emptiness and convention are integrated - this is otherwise expressed in Tiantai as the Threefold Inclusive Truth; but also ichinen sanzen.

Its hard to explain this integrated view, but here's a lame attempt: a can and a can opener are in a sense a completely integrated whole. Similarly, a deluded being and a Buddha are a completely integrated whole. To distinguish one from the other makes each part unintelligible. One half of that equation makes easy sense - Buddha is defined in relation to the deluded being, as its cure. The inverse is harder to consider, and can only really be understood by intuition (or actual knowledge of a Buddha). In any event, this implies that the being is, even as it is deluded, is "seen" by a Buddha as a function of themselves... an expression of awakening. Buddha functions as illumination dispelling ignorance.

The can experience the can opener as something that opens it. The opener experiences the can as something to be opened.

4NT is a teaching for people who conceive of life in cynical terms - which the belief in samsara sets up. If you don't believe in samsara, or are not particularly haunted by its existential implications, what particular use is the 4NT? Some Buddhist paths insist you must wholly accept samsara and then experience the suffering of that in order to really be Buddhist - to experience the liberation offered.

:shrug:

maybe.

But, the sudden and perfect is full awareness in this moment... what's past and future - present recollection of previous circumstances, and speculation about circumstances that may succeed the present circumstances, respectively. Present, though, is the only tangible. Wherever you go, there you are. Seems the only useful teaching is how to deal with the moment.

NMRK is about the moment - ie. the eternal Eagle Peak.

So... what's that thing about 4NT again?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dude » Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:51 pm

Some good (and quite valid) observations, pdx.
On the "life is suffering angle, I once read a commentary that said The Four Noble Truths and other teachings are like a medical diagnosis and prescription....
"suffering," states the condition
"caused by craving" identifies cause
"There is a way to end suffering" good news,there's a cure for this
"The eightfold path" the prescription

The commentator went on to speculate that a more accurate translation in terms of what the Buddha really meant may be "there is suffering in life," which is more the point as well as obvious.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:33 am

Thank you for the wonderful post. I wish I had asked this question more indepth much earlier.

The four Noble truths just are no help for me. I mean, I started complaining at the age of 8 that I wanted to commit suicide. I am well acquainted with the fact that there is a lot of suffering in life. I am not attracted to practicing any religion that is based on the idea that “all life is suffering.” But I kind of had it ingrained in my head that “true Buddhism” teaches that all life is suffering, and so deep down inside I guess I wondered if maybe Nichiren Buddhism isn’t true Buddhism because it ignores the Four Noble Truths.

Prior to starting this thread, it hadn’t occurred to me that the Four Noble Truths are pretty much absent from all East Asian Buddhism, not just Nichiren Buddhism.
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:43 pm
dharmapdx wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:29 pm
Note: I recall a discussion earlier where Q wrote that the Four Noble Truths are subsumed into NMRK and thus become more or less irrelevant to Nichiren Buddhism. Still, this is all a surprise….
You might find my recent comment here interesting: viewtopic.php?f=39&t=28774&start=20#p452429

Nichiren's teachings are Sudden and Perfect as explained by Zhiyi.
In Zhiyi's Mohezhikuan, (translated by Swanson as "Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight"), you can find an explanation how the 4NT are understood in the various teachings.

Arising and Perishing (Tripitaka view) - "suffering and the causes of suffering are the causes and results of the mundane world, and the path and extinction are the causes and results for transcending the world." This takes suffering as real, and transcendence as something other than the real. (Not unreal, either. Simply beyond possibility of definition in terms that arise and perish). The goal is to exhaust karma completely.

Neither Arising Nor Perishing (Shared View) - "suffering is not an afflication and all things are empty... neither do the causes have any mark of coalescing - both cause and effect are empty... The path has the mark of non-duality; there is no one who overcomes and nothing that is overcome." This takes only emptiness as real. The goal is to settle completely into emptiness.

Immeasurable (Separate View) - "a discriminating analysis of suffering reveals that existence has immeasurable marks... the causes have immeasurable marks...the path has innumerable marks... extinction has innumerable marks... these means are empty in themselves; innumerable in their primary and auxiliary variations, but are all not innumerable. Although they are not innumerable, nevertheless you can make innumerable distinctions without confusion or disorder." This takes suffering as empty, but freely resorts to convention to alleviate suffering. This is embodied in the highly advanced bodhisattva who tirelessly works for the liberation of other beings while dwelling in emptiness themselves.

Spontaneous (Sudden) - "The Four Truths are spontaneous and are all the true aspect and are beyond conceptual understanding. It is not only that the supreme truth lacks multiplicity." This takes suffering as such, the causes of suffering as such, the path as such, and the result as such. There is an element of the immeasurable here, but the difference is that where emptiness and conventions are understood as distinct in the Immeasurable view (like the convention that light is composed of waves or particles, and never both, depending on how you look at it), in the Sudden view, emptiness and convention are integrated - this is otherwise expressed in Tiantai as the Threefold Inclusive Truth; but also ichinen sanzen.

Its hard to explain this integrated view, but here's a lame attempt: a can and a can opener are in a sense a completely integrated whole. Similarly, a deluded being and a Buddha are a completely integrated whole. To distinguish one from the other makes each part unintelligible. One half of that equation makes easy sense - Buddha is defined in relation to the deluded being, as its cure. The inverse is harder to consider, and can only really be understood by intuition (or actual knowledge of a Buddha). In any event, this implies that the being is, even as it is deluded, is "seen" by a Buddha as a function of themselves... an expression of awakening. Buddha functions as illumination dispelling ignorance.

The can experience the can opener as something that opens it. The opener experiences the can as something to be opened.

4NT is a teaching for people who conceive of life in cynical terms - which the belief in samsara sets up. If you don't believe in samsara, or are not particularly haunted by its existential implications, what particular use is the 4NT? Some Buddhist paths insist you must wholly accept samsara and then experience the suffering of that in order to really be Buddhist - to experience the liberation offered.

:shrug:

maybe.

But, the sudden and perfect is full awareness in this moment... what's past and future - present recollection of previous circumstances, and speculation about circumstances that may succeed the present circumstances, respectively. Present, though, is the only tangible. Wherever you go, there you are. Seems the only useful teaching is how to deal with the moment.

NMRK is about the moment - ie. the eternal Eagle Peak.

So... what's that thing about 4NT again?

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:39 am

Thank you.

I suppose I got so hungup on that first Noble truth, that I stopped there…. I never really let it sink in that the follow-up Noble truths show how to get out of suffering.

This excellent PBS documentary says that it is an inaccurate translation to say that Buddha said all life is “suffering.” It is probably closer to use the word “dissatisfaction”: “All life is dissatisfying.” Still, that sounds pretty pessimistic to me….

dude wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:51 pm
Some good (and quite valid) observations, pdx.
On the "life is suffering angle, I once read a commentary that said The Four Noble Truths and other teachings are like a medical diagnosis and prescription....
"suffering," states the condition
"caused by craving" identifies cause
"There is a way to end suffering" good news,there's a cure for this
"The eightfold path" the prescription

The commentator went on to speculate that a more accurate translation in terms of what the Buddha really meant may be "there is suffering in life," which is more the point as well as obvious.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:54 am

OK, here’s a new surprise: all the references to lions.

I recently found this article that says, “The Omamori Gohonzon and the Gohonzon enshrined in our home have the same powers of the Buddha and the Law. The Gohonzon is inscribed with the power of an attacking lion.” http://www.sginz.org/assets/documents/U ... honzon.pdf

That doesn’t sound too “Buddhist” to me — attacking lion.

And SGI is now gearing up for the “Lions of justice” festival. And one of the most popular Buddhist magazines is called “lions roar.” https://www.lionsroar.com

What gives? I thought Buddhism was supposed to be about being peaceful…. Why all this attacking lion imagery?

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by smcj » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:57 am

“All life is dissatisfying.” Still, that sounds pretty pessimistic to me….
How about, “It is impossible to find lasting satisfaction in ordinary life”?
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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