Surprises in Buddhism?

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Queequeg
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:34 am

dharmapdx wrote:
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?
As an original Young Lion... Yeah that stuff was corny. Lol.
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:04 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
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?
Well sorry, this is actually soooo old! It is an image that comes from ancient India, Buddha himself was referred as the "Lion of Men" or "Narasiha/Narasimha", Buddha's speech was likened to a lion's roar etc.
Look at this image at an ancient buddhist stupa in India:
Image
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:05 pm

Among the hordes of animals that roam the wild, whether the jungle, the mountains or the plain, the lion is universally recognized to be their chief. The living embodiment of self-possessed power, he is the most regal in manner and deportment, the mightiest, the foremost with respect to speed, courage and dominion. The expression of the lion's supremacy is its roar — a roar which reduces to silence the cries, howls, bellows, shrieks, barks and growls of lesser creatures. When the lion steps forth from his den and sounds his roar, all the other animals stop and listen. On such an occasion none dares even to sound its own cry, let alone to come into the open and challenge the fearless, unsurpassable roar of the golden-maned king of beasts.

The Buddha's discourses, as found in the ancient Pali canon, frequently draw their imagery from the rich and varied animal life of the luxuriant Indian jungle. It is thus not surprising that when the Buddha has occasion to refer to himself, he chooses to represent himself as the stately lion and to describe his proclamation of the Dhamma, bold and thunderous, as a veritable lion's roar in the spiritual domain. The Majjhima Nikaya, the Collection of Middle Length Discourses, contains two suttas which bear this metaphor in their title. These two — No. 11 and No. 12 in the collection — are called respectively the Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar and the Great Discourse on the Lion's Roar. The variation in their titles, signalled by the Pali words cula, "minor," and maha, "great," evidently refers at one level to their different lengths, the one being four pages in the Pali, the other sixteen. At another level, these different designations may allude to the relative weight of the subject matter with which they deal, the "great" discourse being a rare revelation by the Buddha of his exalted spiritual endowments and all-encompassing knowledge, which entitle him to "roar his lion's roar" in the assemblies of human beings and gods. Still, both suttas, as their controlling image suggests, are of paramount importance. Each delivers in its own way an eloquent and inspiring testimony to the uniquely emancipating nature of the Buddha's Teaching and the peerless stature of the Teacher among the spiritual guides of humanity.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el390.html
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:07 pm

The stanza of the lion of men - Narasiha Gatha

These verses were uttered by Princess Yasodhara to her son, Rahula, on the occasion
of the Buddha’s visit to Kapilavatthu after his Enlightenment. She explained some of
the physical characteristics and noble virtues of the Blessed One.

His red sacred feet are marked with an excellent wheel;
His long heels are decked with characteristic marks;
His feet are adorned with chowrie (camara) and parasol.
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
He is a delicate and noble Sakya Prince;
His body is full of characteristic marks; he is a hero amongst men,
Intent on the welfare of the world.
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
Like the full moon is his face, he is dear to gods and men;
He is like an elephant amongst men;
His gait is graceful as that of an elephant of noble breed
101
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
He is of noble lineage, sprung from the warrior caste;
His feet have been honoured by gods and men;
His mind is well established in morality and concentration.
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
Long and prominent is his well formed nose,
His eye lashes are like those of a heifer;
His eyes are extremely blue; like a rainbow are his deep blue eyebrows.
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
Round and smooth is his well-formed neck;
His jaw is like that of a lion, his body is like that of king of beast;
His beautiful skin is of bright golden colour,
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
Soft and deep is his sweet voice;
His tongue is as red as vermillon;
His white teeth are twenty in each row
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
Like the colour of collyrium is his deep blue hair;
Like a polished golden plate is his forehead;
As white as the morning star is his beautiful tuft of hair(between the
eyebrows)
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
Just as the moon surrounded by a multitude of stars, follows the sky path,
Even so goes the monks of the Lord,
Accompanied by his disciples,
That indeed, is your father, the lion of men.
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

narhwal90
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:45 pm

The lion business in SGI is to suggest the practitioner adopt a fearless and strong attitude towards obstacles so as to overcome them; the lion fears nothing, and so on. As far as the youth division, I think the idea is to train courageous children to help them become courageous adults. I surely don't fault the intent but as with Q the language has always seemed corny to me.

dharmapdx
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:29 am

smcj wrote:
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”?

Probably a true statement, but I wouldn’t want to build an entire religious practice around that.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:46 am

narhwal90 wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:45 pm
The lion business in SGI is to suggest the practitioner adopt a fearless and strong attitude towards obstacles so as to overcome them; the lion fears nothing, and so on. As far as the youth division, I think the idea is to train courageous children to help them become courageous adults. I surely don't fault the intent but as with Q the language has always seemed corny to me.
I suppose that’s yet another surprise for me: The “worldly” emphasis of Nichiren Buddhism. I found Nichiren Buddhism after about two decades of studying “A Course in Miracles” (http://www.acim.org/), which has been referred to as “a Bible for the New Age.” There is a lot of talk in ACIM circles that ACIM is very similar to Buddhism.

Perhaps the most fundamental teaching in “A Course in Miracles” is “there is no world!” This is ACIM’s version of non-duality, which I suppose is ultimately found in Buddhism and Hinduism. But a problem most ACIM students run into (myself among them) is that if there is no world, then you can’t really have a code of conduct and it’s more or less useless to set goals for yourself, and to have a stake in any worldly outcome, because … “it’s all an illusion.”

I left ACIM because I could no longer practice a system that was so abstract.

I suppose I figured that Buddhism (including Nichiren Buddhism) would have some similarities to “A Course in Miracles,” and therefore say that setting goals, and having a stake in any outcome, is ultimately useless.

To be clear: I’m GLAD Nichiren Buddhism encourages setting goals and taking on obstacles and having a stake in outcomes. “A Course in Miracles” was helpful for me in some ways, but it was starting to produce deep apathy (and even depression) in me after two decades. (I now discourage people from reading “A Course in Miracles”). But it’s still A SURPRISE to me that Nichiren Buddhism is so unapologetic about setting goals and taking on obstacles with a firm desire for a specific outcome.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by narhwal90 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:39 am

As the saying goes "Faith equals daily life", the results of the practice are to be seen here and now. The "prosperity cult" thing is a degenerate case, the win is the individual's human revolution; transformation from the inside out.

dharmapdx
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:23 am

narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:39 am
As the saying goes "Faith equals daily life", the results of the practice are to be seen here and now. The "prosperity cult" thing is a degenerate case, the win is the individual's human revolution; transformation from the inside out.
Maybe another way to put it, is to repeat something Q once said: that SGI in many ways resembles self-help material. Now, I love self help material. So I’m not insulting SGI. I’m just saying that it’s a surprise that a Buddhist organization would publish material that would resemble self help.

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:13 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:23 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:39 am
As the saying goes "Faith equals daily life", the results of the practice are to be seen here and now. The "prosperity cult" thing is a degenerate case, the win is the individual's human revolution; transformation from the inside out.
Maybe another way to put it, is to repeat something Q once said: that SGI in many ways resembles self-help material. Now, I love self help material. So I’m not insulting SGI. I’m just saying that it’s a surprise that a Buddhist organization would publish material that would resemble self help.
Sorry for being so frank and direct to you, I know, admire and even envy some aspects of your history and experiences around Buddhism and Buddhist cultures (Japanese). But many of your doubts justs shows how bad you should do a real effort to study Buddhism with some real deal serious teachers, institutions, and materials (be it religious or scholarly)! Mixing Buddhism with modern pop culture, psychology, new age stuff will only lead you to more confusion!

This is my main problem with SGI, putting too much emphasis on just chanting and getting instant gratification while deemphasizing Buddhism as a theory, as a philosophy, as history and going so far as to put emphasis on just some chapters of the Lotus Sutra! Besides also putting people with no proper theoretical background into Dharma to teach! This only lead to serious 'dharma alienation'!
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

narhwal90
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Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:10 am

Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:35 am

FWIW shortly after Nichiren passed away the various schools divided over what chapters of the Lotus Sutra should be studied and considered most important. The Fuji lineages were generally in the Hoben/Juryo only camp, Minobu taking the other position accepting all chapters with Hoben/Juryo most important - this is the Ichi vs Shoretsu argument. SGI being a Fuji lineage still assumes that position though perhaps with less emphasis than Shoshu.

I get strange looks when I talk about actually reading the other sutras and commentaries that Nichiren discusses, which is too bad. OTOH there are other aspects- I was laid up in the hospital for 10 days in June- SGI folks kept me busy with texts, email, phone calls... will be making my 1st meeting this week, to see all those who took the time to reach out and follow Nichiren's example on taking care of members.

dharmapdx
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:52 pm

Enclosed is a picture of me with Rev. Myosho Obata, third generation Nichiren Shu priest (from Japan) . She was often surprised by how much I knew about Buddhism. I have actually corresponded with Jacqueline Stone, professor of Japanese Buddhism at Princeton, and sometimes I even took some of her articles to the Nichiren Shu temple: https://jstone.mycpanel2.princeton.edu

So I don’t know where you get the impression that I haven’t worked with real teachers or scholarly materials. And I certainly don’t know where you get the idea that I am confused about anything. There is a real difference between “confusion” and “surprise.” (Here is a great article a professor of Buddhism wrote, about how surprised a Tibetan Buddhist geshe was to encounter how radical the Lotus Sutra is: https://tricycle.org/magazine/greater-awakening/ I once read a moderator of this forum express “surprise” to find out that the Four Noble Truths are basically nonexistent in Nichiren Buddhism.)

It was Rev. Obata who suggested that maybe I should look into SGI. Nichiren Shu in America is more of a cultural club for Japanese Americans (my words, not Obata’s).

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:13 pm
dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:23 am
narhwal90 wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:39 am
As the saying goes "Faith equals daily life", the results of the practice are to be seen here and now. The "prosperity cult" thing is a degenerate case, the win is the individual's human revolution; transformation from the inside out.
Maybe another way to put it, is to repeat something Q once said: that SGI in many ways resembles self-help material. Now, I love self help material. So I’m not insulting SGI. I’m just saying that it’s a surprise that a Buddhist organization would publish material that would resemble self help.
Sorry for being so frank and direct to you, I know, admire and even envy some aspects of your history and experiences around Buddhism and Buddhist cultures (Japanese). But many of your doubts justs shows how bad you should do a real effort to study Buddhism with some real deal serious teachers, institutions, and materials (be it religious or scholarly)! Mixing Buddhism with modern pop culture, psychology, new age stuff will only lead you to more confusion!

This is my main problem with SGI, putting too much emphasis on just chanting and getting instant gratification while deemphasizing Buddhism as a theory, as a philosophy, as history and going so far as to put emphasis on just some chapters of the Lotus Sutra! Besides also putting people with no proper theoretical background into Dharma to teach! This only lead to serious 'dharma alienation'!
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Nyedrag Yeshe
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:17 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:52 pm
Enclosed is a picture of me with Rev. Myosho Obata, third generation Nichiren Shu priest (from Japan) . She was often surprised by how much I knew about Buddhism. I have actually corresponded with Jacqueline Stone, professor of Japanese Buddhism at Princeton, and sometimes I even took some of her articles to the Nichiren Shu temple: https://jstone.mycpanel2.princeton.edu

So I don’t know where you get the impression that I haven’t worked with real teachers or scholarly materials. And I certainly don’t know where you get the idea that I am confused about anything. There is a real difference between “confusion” and “surprise.” (Here is a great article a professor of Buddhism wrote, about how surprised a Tibetan Buddhist geshe was to encounter how radical the Lotus Sutra is: https://tricycle.org/magazine/greater-awakening/)

It was Rev. Obata who suggested that maybe I should look into SGI. Nichiren Shu in America is more of a cultural club for Japanese Americans (my words, not Obata’s).

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:13 pm
dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:23 am


Maybe another way to put it, is to repeat something Q once said: that SGI in many ways resembles self-help material. Now, I love self help material. So I’m not insulting SGI. I’m just saying that it’s a surprise that a Buddhist organization would publish material that would resemble self help.
Sorry for being so frank and direct to you, I know, admire and even envy some aspects of your history and experiences around Buddhism and Buddhist cultures (Japanese). But many of your doubts justs shows how bad you should do a real effort to study Buddhism with some real deal serious teachers, institutions, and materials (be it religious or scholarly)! Mixing Buddhism with modern pop culture, psychology, new age stuff will only lead you to more confusion!

This is my main problem with SGI, putting too much emphasis on just chanting and getting instant gratification while deemphasizing Buddhism as a theory, as a philosophy, as history and going so far as to put emphasis on just some chapters of the Lotus Sutra! Besides also putting people with no proper theoretical background into Dharma to teach! This only lead to serious 'dharma alienation'!
NS is, in fact, a kind of 'federation' of many schools and Temples and lineages, that before Meiji era were quite independent! It still is many ways envolving practices, despite differences, there is some agreement in basic doctrine. Regarding your experience, I agree with you that not only NS temples but also many Japanese and even Christian churches (I've seen this myself in Eastern Orthodox parishes) related to a diaspora community can become just a kind of 'ethnic club'!

Many Japanese temples in my country are known also for barring entrance for the non-japanese! But ironically Japanese schools have also been doing a great job in forming a whole new generation of Brazilian-bred ministers!

Regarding NS again, there are some very good White American, African American (such as Myokei Caine Barett) teaching NS in the US! And doing a very good job, but still very much in its initial inception, and very much unrecognized! NS and Nipo-American Buddhism is not a monolith, besides your very unfortunate experience with this specific Sangha! HBS is also doing (focusing also on social work) job here in Brazil, and I'm quite proud of them (the first Buddhist minister to set foot on my country was an HBS priest)!
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:45 pm

dharmapdx wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:52 pm
Enclosed is a picture of me with Rev. Myosho Obata, third generation Nichiren Shu priest (from Japan) . She was often surprised by how much I knew about Buddhism. I have actually corresponded with Jacqueline Stone, professor of Japanese Buddhism at Princeton, and sometimes I even took some of her articles to the Nichiren Shu temple: https://jstone.mycpanel2.princeton.edu

So I don’t know where you get the impression that I haven’t worked with real teachers or scholarly materials. And I certainly don’t know where you get the idea that I am confused about anything. There is a real difference between “confusion” and “surprise.” (Here is a great article a professor of Buddhism wrote, about how surprised a Tibetan Buddhist geshe was to encounter how radical the Lotus Sutra is: https://tricycle.org/magazine/greater-awakening/ I once read a moderator of this forum express “surprise” to find out that the Four Noble Truths are basically nonexistent in Nichiren Buddhism.)

It was Rev. Obata who suggested that maybe I should look into SGI. Nichiren Shu in America is more of a cultural club for Japanese Americans (my words, not Obata’s).

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:13 pm
dharmapdx wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 3:23 am


Maybe another way to put it, is to repeat something Q once said: that SGI in many ways resembles self-help material. Now, I love self help material. So I’m not insulting SGI. I’m just saying that it’s a surprise that a Buddhist organization would publish material that would resemble self help.
Sorry for being so frank and direct to you, I know, admire and even envy some aspects of your history and experiences around Buddhism and Buddhist cultures (Japanese). But many of your doubts justs shows how bad you should do a real effort to study Buddhism with some real deal serious teachers, institutions, and materials (be it religious or scholarly)! Mixing Buddhism with modern pop culture, psychology, new age stuff will only lead you to more confusion!

This is my main problem with SGI, putting too much emphasis on just chanting and getting instant gratification while deemphasizing Buddhism as a theory, as a philosophy, as history and going so far as to put emphasis on just some chapters of the Lotus Sutra! Besides also putting people with no proper theoretical background into Dharma to teach! This only lead to serious 'dharma alienation'!
Sorry, but the Tricycle material you shared nowhere says or suggests that the 4 NB are not part of Nichiren Buddhism. I think that reading Nichiren's writings (albeit not directly using the term 4NB) and by observing his own life we can conclude otherwise! The 4NB are very much subsumed in the Ichinen Sanzen doctrine, particularly considering Nichiren's background on it! What the article is discussing is the whole issue in early Buddhism challenged by the Lotus Sutra regarding both gradual and instant attainments, Ekayana and other "yanas" divisions. I think there is a grave exegesis problem here regarding the whole interpretation of the text (that may ultimately lead to the whole Hongaku Shuso issue)! Where did you get it? Especially regarding your experience with Jacqueline Stone!
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

dharmapdx
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:23 pm

Before she returned to Japan, Rev. Myosho Obata actually told me she believes that I was Japanese in a previous life.

I can assure you that I am aware of the history and structure of Nichiren Shu. And that was actually sort of the problem. Here I was a male in his 30s sitting next to elderly Japanese Americans who had spent time in internment camps in their childhood, and yet I often knew more about the intricacies of their religion than they did. At first I didn’t understand why that was a problem, but then someone informed me that Buddhist temples are very “Confucian,” and that it is all about in-groups and out-groups, social status and seniority. In other words, in this context, being overly-educated about Buddhism actually worked to my disadvantage. I was an outsider and a new arrival to the temple, and so it seemed to be an affront ( as if I was bragging) when I made it clear that I study Buddhism from a “scholarly“ level. I even remember taking a copy of the book “Original Enlightenment” (a 500-page tome) to the temple with me: https://www.amazon.com/Original-Enlight ... 824827716/ In retrospect, that was very socially awkward of me.

Please don’t put words in my mouth. I never claimed that this article said that the four Noble truths are absent from Nichiren Buddhism: https://tricycle.org/magazine/greater-awakening/ What I said was that even scholars are sometimes surprised by things they find in Buddhism, such as in this article which depicts a Tibetan Buddhist geshe being surprised by the lotus sutra.

Being surprised by things one finds in Buddhism does not mean one has not studied Buddhism from a scholarly level or with a real teacher. 🙏
Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:17 pm
dharmapdx wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:52 pm
Enclosed is a picture of me with Rev. Myosho Obata, third generation Nichiren Shu priest (from Japan) . She was often surprised by how much I knew about Buddhism. I have actually corresponded with Jacqueline Stone, professor of Japanese Buddhism at Princeton, and sometimes I even took some of her articles to the Nichiren Shu temple: https://jstone.mycpanel2.princeton.edu

So I don’t know where you get the impression that I haven’t worked with real teachers or scholarly materials. And I certainly don’t know where you get the idea that I am confused about anything. There is a real difference between “confusion” and “surprise.” (Here is a great article a professor of Buddhism wrote, about how surprised a Tibetan Buddhist geshe was to encounter how radical the Lotus Sutra is: https://tricycle.org/magazine/greater-awakening/)

It was Rev. Obata who suggested that maybe I should look into SGI. Nichiren Shu in America is more of a cultural club for Japanese Americans (my words, not Obata’s).

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:13 pm


Sorry for being so frank and direct to you, I know, admire and even envy some aspects of your history and experiences around Buddhism and Buddhist cultures (Japanese). But many of your doubts justs shows how bad you should do a real effort to study Buddhism with some real deal serious teachers, institutions, and materials (be it religious or scholarly)! Mixing Buddhism with modern pop culture, psychology, new age stuff will only lead you to more confusion!

This is my main problem with SGI, putting too much emphasis on just chanting and getting instant gratification while deemphasizing Buddhism as a theory, as a philosophy, as history and going so far as to put emphasis on just some chapters of the Lotus Sutra! Besides also putting people with no proper theoretical background into Dharma to teach! This only lead to serious 'dharma alienation'!
NS is, in fact, a kind of 'federation' of many schools and Temples and lineages, that before Meiji era were quite independent! It still is many ways envolving practices, despite differences, there is some agreement in basic doctrine. Regarding your experience, I agree with you that not only NS temples but also many Japanese and even Christian churches (I've seen this myself in Eastern Orthodox parishes) related to a diaspora community can become just a kind of 'ethnic club'!

Many Japanese temples in my country are known also for barring entrance for the non-japanese! But ironically Japanese schools have also been doing a great job in forming a whole new generation of Brazilian-bred ministers!

Regarding NS again, there are some very good White American, African American (such as Myokei Caine Barett) teaching NS in the US! And doing a very good job, but still very much in its initial inception, and very much unrecognized! NS and Nipo-American Buddhism is not a monolith, besides your very unfortunate experience with this specific Sangha! HBS is also doing (focusing also on social work) job here in Brazil, and I'm quite proud of them (the first Buddhist minister to set foot on my country was an HBS priest)!

dharmapdx
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by dharmapdx » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:48 pm

Nyedrag Yeshe wrote: Sorry for being so frank and direct to you, I know, admire and even envy some aspects of your history and experiences around Buddhism and Buddhist cultures (Japanese). But many of your doubts justs shows how bad you should do a real effort to study Buddhism with some real deal serious teachers, institutions, and materials (be it religious or scholarly)!
I think the problem with our correspondence is found right there in your second sentence: I don’t have any “doubts” about Buddhism.

Where have I ever used the word “doubt” in this thread or even anywhere on this forum?

To the contrary, I have said that I am surprised by how much Nichiren Buddhist practice works for me.

Being surprised by something doesn’t mean you doubt it, necessarily.

illarraza
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by illarraza » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:30 am

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.
Organizations, not only are not necessary according to Nichiren, there are none

Nichiren tells us about sangha (Buddhist order)...

"As to the causes that condemn one to this hell, it may be said that those who commit any of the five cardinal sins will fall into this hell. The five cardinal sins are killing one’s father, killing one’s mother, killing an arhat, causing a Buddha to shed blood, and causing disharmony among the members of the Buddhist Order. In our present age, however, since there is no Buddha now living, it is impossible to cause a Buddha to shed blood. Likewise, since there is no Buddhist Order, it is impossible to cause disharmony among its members."

He goes on to say...

(Ibid)

"Thus the only offenses possible are those of killing one’s father or killing one’s mother. And since the laws of the sovereign are so strict in their prohibition of the killing of a parent, it is rare to find anyone who commits such an offense. Hence in our present age, one would expect that very few people would fall into the Avīchi hell."

"However, there are offenses that are similar in gravity to the five cardinal sins. There are many persons who burn the wooden or painted images of Buddhas or Buddhist halls and pagodas, who appropriate the lands donated to such Buddhist images, who hack down or burn the stupas, or who kill wise men. Such persons will fall into the sixteen separate places that are attached to the Avīchi hell. Thus we may be certain that many of those living in the world today will fall into these sixteen separate places, and those who slander the Law will also fall into this hell."

He is explicit. "Disrupting the Buddhist Order is not possible in this age", at least according to Nichiren because there are no Buddhist orders.

Mark

illarraza
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by illarraza » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:52 am

I was surprised about how many Buddhist paradoxes there are, For example, referring to the equality of the Buddha and the common mortal:

"Some mis-teach the principle of the equality of the Buddha and the common mortal because they misunderstand the principle of the general and the specific. They sometimes teach that the common mortal is equal to the Buddha and sometimes that the common mortal is superior. It is different, the Buddha proclaiming that the common mortal is equal to the Buddha, since this realty is a Buddhist paradox. Understanding [living] the paradox with gratitude for Shakyamuni Buddha is a necessary part of the subjugation of ego vital for awakening. Nichiren scolded the Zenmen for this same transgression as the some Nichiren sects. I can support this view with the authenticated writings of Nichiren and the Lotus Sutra. They who mis-teach the equality of the Buddha and the common mortal can not.

"Two but not two, one but not one".

Gratitude for Shakyamuni Buddha specifically and people generally is necessary for the subjugation of ego vital for awakening.

Another Nichiren school paradox is the following from Nikko's Twenty-six articles:

In one article, Nikko teaches that those who claim Gosho are forged are evil and in another article he teaches that those who forge Gosho are parasites. If the 26 Articles itself is forged [as asserted by many], there is no paradox. If they are true there is a paradox. However, it is a paradox easily resolved. One who criticizes false Gosho is upholding the Dharma while one who cites false Gosho is a parasite. It is equally true that one who criticizes authentic Gosho is evil and one who cites authentic Gosho is a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin.

Harder parodoxes to understand, Nichiren asserts that not only the Dharma Body of the Buddha has no beginning and no end but also the Reward Body and the Manifestation Body.

Still another paradox:

"I have accordingly quoted the passages from the Lotus Sutra that read, 'In the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law if there is someone who can uphold this sutra . . . ,' 'in the latter age hereafter, when the Law is about to perish . . . ,' and 'they [the Buddhas] make certain that the Law will long endure' in order to demonstrate the error [of believing that the Lotus Sutra has lost its effectiveness]. " -- Nichiren

But in order to assert that the Lotus Sutra has lost its effectiveness, the SGI often cites the following passage from Reply to Lord Ueno:

"Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, neither the Lotus Sutra nor the other sutras lead to enlightenment. Only Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can do so. This is not my own judgment. Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, the Buddhas of the ten directions, and the bodhisattvas who emerged from the earth as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds have so determined it. To mix other practices with this Namu-myoho-renge-kyo is a grave error. A lantern is useless when the sun rises. How can dewdrops be beneficial when the rain falls? Should one feed a newborn baby anything other than its mother's milk? No addition of other medicines is needed with a good medicine. Somehow this woman remained true to this principle, and continued to uphold her faith until the last moment of her life. How admirable, how worthy!

With my deep respect,
Nichiren

The first day of the fourth month in the first year of Koan (1278)

The Soka Gakkai takes the Gosho out of context in order to debase the Lotus Sutra. What this does to their believers, their minds of faith, and to the teachings, is unpardonable.

The One Great Secret Law is Namu Myoho renge kyo. This is the teachings of Soka Gakkai, the Nichiren Shu, and the Kempon Hokke. The Nichiren Shoshu teaches that the One Great Secret Law is the DaiGohonzon. I will leave aside for the moment who is correct about the One Great Secret Law. Every last Nichiren Buddhist, from the newest member to the most experienced knows that there is no practice in the Latter Day other than chanting Namu Myoho renge kyo. SGI's oft repeated argument implying that the Nichiren Shu, the Honmon Butsuryu Shu, and the other Nichiren practitioners, neither practice nor understand the import of Namu myoho renge, is nothing but a straw man argument. It is a logical fallacy.

Lord Ueno is none other the young samurai, Nanjo Tokimitsu. This writing is from 1278 in response to offerings he received from Lord Ueno and in memorium for the death of Lord Ueno's niece. Here the Daishonin is stating that Namu Myoho renge kyo is the practice for the Latter Day. We read in an earlier part of this letter [which SGI members never cite] :

"After Many Treasures Buddha had closed the door of the treasure tower and the other Buddhas had returned to their original lands, not even Shakyamuni Buddha himself could have denied the Lotus Sutra, whatever other sutras he might have expounded in an effort to do so, because the other Buddhas had all joined in affirming its truth. That is why in the Universal Worthy and Nirvana sutras, which follow the Lotus Sutra, the Lotus Sutra is praised but never disparaged. Nonetheless, priests like Shan-wu- wei of the True Word school and the founders of the Zen school have repudiated the Lotus Sutra, and the entire Japanese nation has now taken faith in their teachings, just like those who were deceived by the rebels Masakado and Sadato. Japan is now on the brink of ruin because it has for many years been the archenemy of Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions, and in addition, the person who denounces these errors is persecuted. Because such offenses thus accumulate one atop another, our nation will soon incur the wrath of heaven."

On the one hand we see that repudiating the Lotus Sutra is a cause for falling into hell and on the other hand we read that, "neither the Lotus Sutra nor the other sutras lead to enlightenment". How does one resolve this seeming paradox? Nichiren Daishonin writes in the True Object of Worship (Kanjin No Honzon Sho):

"Answer: This is a matter that is difficult to believe and difficult to understand. T’ien-t’ai defined two points that are “difficult to believe and difficult to understand.” One lies in the realm of doctrinal teachings and the other in the realm of meditative practice. With regard to the former, in the sutras preached before the Lotus Sutra we read that persons of the two vehicles and icchantikas, or persons of incorrigible disbelief, are forever barred from attaining Buddhahood, and that Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, attained enlightenment for the first time in this world. Nevertheless, we find that the theoretical and the essential teachings of the Lotus Sutra repudiate both these statements. One Buddha who says two things as opposite as fire and water— who could believe him? This is the point that is “difficult to believe and difficult to understand” in the realm of doctrinal teachings.

The point that is “difficult to believe and difficult to understand” in the realm of meditative practice, concerns the principle of the hundred worlds and thousand factors and that of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, which explains that even insentient beings are endowed with the ten factors of life, and that they are endowed with both material and spiritual aspects.":

Thus we see that Nanjo Tokimitsu was confused by the Tientai practice of the Lotus Sutra that was prevalent in Nichiren Daishonin's day. The Lotus Sutra is practiced differently according to the time. Here Nichiren is talking about Tientai's Lotus Sutra teachings and practice. The Lotus Sutra itself must never be disparaged, contrary to the slanderous Soka Gakkai teachings. Disparaging the Lotus Sutra is why their members suffer in the Great Citadel of Hell, why Japan is on the verge of ruin, and why their teachings lead people into the Lower Three Worlds.

One can not read the entirety of the writings, especially the Five Major Writings, and perceive that Nichiren Daishonin disparaged the Lotus Sutra. Soka Gakkai practitioners are evil people, according to Nichiren Daishonin.

Here's one to solve:

Kanjin Honzon Sho ("True Object of Worship")

"It does not mean, however, that any of the Buddhas gives the seed of Buddhahood to the keeper of this sutra. The giver of the seed, the Lotus Sutra affirms, is none other the Original Buddha who reveals himself only in this sutra. It is the perfect Mahayana sutra that reveals the Buddha's accomplishment of a threefold procedure of teaching: To give the seed of Buddhahood to his sons; to grow it; and to let it bear fruit.

The Lotus Sutra is the most perfect of sutras, because it completes the three-fold procedure of teaching. The keeper of this sutra is endowed with the three causes of Buddhahood: the immanence of Buddha-nature, the wisdom for the realization of Buddha-nature, and the qualifications required for the development of Buddha-nature."

How does one develop that which is immanent? (I have worked out the answer if anyone is interested).

Another:

"All Gohonzons are the same but only the SGI Nichikan Gohonzon is valid."

Hope you enjoy!

Mark

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Queequeg
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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:47 pm

narhwal90 wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:35 am
I was laid up in the hospital for 10 days in June- SGI folks kept me busy with texts, email, phone calls... will be making my 1st meeting this week, to see all those who took the time to reach out and follow Nichiren's example on taking care of members.
I hope it was just an acute condition and that you are recovered. I hope you are well, brother.
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Surprises in Buddhism?

Post by Queequeg » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:47 pm

illarraza wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:52 am
"Some mis-teach the principle of the equality of the Buddha and the common mortal because they misunderstand the principle of the general and the specific. They sometimes teach that the common mortal is equal to the Buddha and sometimes that the common mortal is superior. It is different, the Buddha proclaiming that the common mortal is equal to the Buddha, since this realty is a Buddhist paradox. Understanding [living] the paradox with gratitude for Shakyamuni Buddha is a necessary part of the subjugation of ego vital for awakening.
In some sense I can see this as a paradox, but I think that describing it as such is problematic because depending on how the paradox is defined, we might be led to believe that there is some impenetrable mystery here.

Ordinary beings, if they have heard the Buddhist teaching, perceive a distinction between themselves and Buddha in that the Buddha is awakened and the ordinary being is not. A Buddha, on the other hand, only sees provisional distinctions between themselves and ordinary beings, and instead, because of their perfect wisdom, know that buddhas and ordinary beings are fundamentally without distinction.

As Zhiyi explained:

As [it says in] the Ta chih tu lun concerning a burning torch, “It is neither at the beginning nor separate from the beginning; neither at the end nor separate from the end.” If one is endowed with both wisdom and faith, then upon hearing that a single thought-moment is identical with the positive [aspects that are conducive to bodhicitta], faith will keep one from denigrating [what one does not understand], and wisdom will keep one from being apprehensive [about one’s inability to attain enlightenment]. [In this case,] both the beginning and later [stages] are positive. If one does not have faith, then [one despairs that] the exalted levels of the sage are not part of one’s own wisdom, and if one does not have wisdom, one becomes arrogant and thinks that one is already equal to a Buddha...

Identity in principle means that one single thought-moment is identical with the principle of the tathagata-garbha. It is identical with emptiness because of its suchness (tatha), identical with conventional existence because of its function as a treasure-house (garbha) [in appearing in the world in various forms], and identical with the Middle because of its [participation in the] principle [of reality]. The three wisdoms are included in a single thought, though this is beyond conceptual understanding. As explained above, threefold truth is one truth, though neither three nor one; each and every color and scent is endowed with all of reality (sarvadharma). Every single thought is also like this...

Bodhi[citta] [at the level of] ultimate identity means... [a] person [at the stage of] “equivalent to awakening” does not pass [to this fruit]; only a Buddha is able to pass.


The paradox is in how two vastly inconsistent perspectives could abide at the same time. This is one of the basic insights explained through the Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds.
Gratitude for Shakyamuni Buddha specifically and people generally is necessary for the subjugation of ego vital for awakening.
As well our teachers generally, and Nichiren Daishonin specifically.
Harder parodoxes to understand, Nichiren asserts that not only the Dharma Body of the Buddha has no beginning and no end but also the Reward Body and the Manifestation Body.
Yep. People have problems with this.

The paradox is a function provisional suppositions, particularly the supposition that bodhi is acquired, gradually. The gradual path is a provisional path. Instead of trying to understand the teaching of the Trikaya without beginning or end through the Provisional Teachings, in the Sudden and Perfect, we hear the Buddha teach awakening directly: The Triple Bodied Original Buddha is without beginning or end. In the Sudden and Perfect, practice is not a gradual process of purification and perfection, but an instantaneous dispelling of ignorance, including fundamental ignorance. Through the power of faith, the Buddha's awakening illuminates the threefold world, just as light dispels darkness without the slightest effort. Practice is a matter of letting the light of the Buddha permeate our minds and illuminate the Threefold World - our misapprehensions are resolved in accord with the Sudden and Perfect Teaching, rather than a process of starting with utter ignorance and gradually developing wisdom.

In practice, its hard to open ourselves to the Buddha's wisdom - we habitually resist it at the deepest levels because we misapprehend reality and reinforce that misapprehension through concatenating habits expressed in the world around us.

NMRK is literally the expression of intent to be open to the Buddha's wisdom, the real aspect of reality.
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

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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