This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

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PeterC
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by PeterC » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:42 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:05 pm
PeterC wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:45 am
The only measure of success or failure is practitioners coming closer to liberation and, as a support for that, the dharma being preserved and made available in the world.
Can't measure awakening.

You can measure financial health. Bob Thurman has opined Dharma has not yet taken in the West, and the indication that it has will be the financial support of Dharma teachers, institutions, etc.
There’s no point in fixating on something measurable and irrelevant because the relevant indicator is immensurable.

Thurman is an important scholar and has made enormous contributions to the Dharma but there is significant, obvious risk in considering financial stability an indicator of ‘success’. We all know where that can lead.

It’s a frustrating problem because institutions are important. Without them the continuity of knowledge and the conditions for practice are fragile. No financial sustainability, no institutions.

@Nemo - I too chose to make sure I wasn’t poor in my old age. I don’t know if that was or wasn’t the right decision. I’ve thought long and hard about my obligations to support more serious practitioners who made different choices, and the compromise I made is to support translators and retreatants but not golden stupas and big temples. This has put some distance between me and some members of sanghas. But the best way to repay the kindness of the lama is by practising. The rest is often a distraction.

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Queequeg
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:50 pm

Nemo wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:26 pm
Taiwan is where you go to fund your monastery now.
Why is Taiwan a rich source of dana? Because Dharma runs deep in people's lives and they understand already. They don't need to be convinced that giving to the Dharma is a good cause that bears fruit. Grigoris has remarked, getting people to contribute money, while they're walking around with the latest i-phone, is still like pulling teeth.

I recall a comment from DJKR - people in places like Taiwan make better vajrayana practitioners because they are proceeding from a deep Mahayana Buddhist view.

You guys don't seem to understand how deep dharma runs when its generational. You're wondering why great institutions and myriads of teachers and practitioners don't thrive in such a wealthy place like the West... Look at the ground. It has no nutrients. It has never been cultivated.
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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Queequeg
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:03 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:42 pm
There’s no point in fixating on something measurable and irrelevant because the relevant indicator is immensurable.

Thurman is an important scholar and has made enormous contributions to the Dharma but there is significant, obvious risk in considering financial stability an indicator of ‘success’. We all know where that can lead.

It’s a frustrating problem because institutions are important. Without them the continuity of knowledge and the conditions for practice are fragile. No financial sustainability, no institutions.
Abundance of generosity from the householding community can be an indication of fraud. It can also be a metric of devotion. Devotion comes from... well I think this crowd understands how devotion comes about. Just because the path of dealing with the mundane business aspects of keeping institutions up and running is fraught is not reason to turn away from it. I'm sorry, but that's naive. There is no other way. We have to deal with this.

Without financial support, as you observe, no dharma. That goes for the teachers coming from traditionally Buddhist lands. Their lines survived to the present because people supported them with $$.

The question is how to keep this on the up and up.

For this I would suggest looking at the Vinaya - The Buddha set forth reasons for the Vinaya and several of those reasons is to maintain the good opinion of householders.

Buddhism has been around for 2500 years. They've dealt with these questions - how to ethically raise funds, how to benefit ordinary people and as an ancillary matter encourage devotion. When people see dharma is important, dana flows to the point it becomes hard to put the resources to good user... you end up with golden statues and exquisite works of art. Just look at the record.
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: Latest report on Shambala abuse just released.

Post by conebeckham » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:14 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:33 pm
Nemo wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:41 pm
You think being at mass events will teach you what you need to know? Do they live here? Did they even learn proper English? I can see this is getting people very defensive. That is good. This glide path is very obvious and should be talked about.
The way it is successful is for those of us with transmission to realize according to instructions. Individuals are liberated, not institutions. There are many excellent Tibetan teachers that live here, Tulku Sang-ngak for example, who give wang, lung and tri. Jetsun Kushok-la for another. There are excellent Western teachers in greater and greater numbers, such as Sangye Khandro, Lama Tsultrim, Lama Jampa Thaye, Acharya Malcolm Smith, etc.

There is also nothing stopping one from learning Tibetan and flying to India, Nepal or Bhutan to receive full instruction and then coming back to practice. It's much, much simpler to do that than it was for the Sarma translators to travel to India on foot and learn the Indian colloquial languages well enough to receive the teachings they realized and transmitted. Padmakara, 84000, Wisdom's Library of Tibetan Classics, etc. have done tremendous work in translating the source texts into English.

This leaves completely aside the growing use of technology for transmission and instruction. This will only grow more and more, connecting dharma students with teachers without even needing to leave home. How is this not a tremendous success (see Dzogchen Community)?

I think we should rejoice in the numerous successes rather than dwell on the notable failures.
I am in complete agreement. Excellent post.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:19 pm

Following up.

In my village, a wealthy Indian man opened a Hindu temple in a building he owns. I looked into buying that building with a vague idea of opening a Dharma hall in that same place.

This is how wealthy religious Asians think about supporting Dharma. I see this all over Asia. My experience is of course in Japan and its still remarkably common there. If there is no existing facility to contribute to and support, they build the facility and invite teachers to teach, and open it to the public.

Why? Because they know Dharma and its propagation is of paramount importance.

You guys wringing your hands for choosing the householder life and not pursuing practice more vigorously before. You want to make up for it? Be the force that bank rolls the dharma. I know you guys are already retired, but for those who are still working - get rich so you can give it away and support Dharma. There is nothing wrong with the householder life. If you really take to heart that you appeared here and now to practice, to be devoted to dharma, to ensure its perpetuation, look around and see what needs to be done to perpetuate it. This is the path you already chose, so follow through. You chose to appear in the Dharma wilderness, in a land where the name of the three jewels is barely known. There are many with little dust in the eyes and who will awaken if they get the chance to hear the dharma. So, instead of wondering where you can have it easy, consider where you are needed. The hand wringing, man. 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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Nemo
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Nemo » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:43 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:19 pm
Following up.

In my village, a wealthy Indian man opened a Hindu temple in a building he owns. I looked into buying that building with a vague idea of opening a Dharma hall in that same place.

This is how wealthy religious Asians think about supporting Dharma. I see this all over Asia. My experience is of course in Japan and its still remarkably common there. If there is no existing facility to contribute to and support, they build the facility and invite teachers to teach, and open it to the public.

Why? Because they know Dharma and its propagation is of paramount importance.

You guys wringing your hands for choosing the householder life and not pursuing practice more vigorously before. You want to make up for it? Be the force that bank rolls the dharma. I know you guys are already retired, but for those who are still working - get rich so you can give it away and support Dharma. There is nothing wrong with the householder life. If you really take to heart that you appeared here and now to practice, to be devoted to dharma, to ensure its perpetuation, look around and see what needs to be done to perpetuate it. This is the path you already chose, so follow through. You chose to appear in the Dharma wilderness, in a land where the name of the three jewels is barely known. There are many with little dust in the eyes and who will awaken if they get the chance to hear the dharma. So, instead of wondering where you can have it easy, consider where you are needed. The hand wringing, man. LOL
It's not about hand wringing. It's about developing strategy. I know very painfully you can win every single engagement and still lose a war. Preventative maintenance requires inspection. These scandals require a certain amount of introspection and restructuring. The original rate of growth has not been maintained and the entire global economy has changed. We need to change to meet the new environment. If a monk with no money stood out in front of somebodies house silent begging in my town he would be arrested. We need to identify our strengths and weaknesses and then plan a strategy to make Dharma stronger. Then work on smaller tactical engagements that help our strategy. Someone much smarter than me should make a list like this one to put things in perspective.

What are our strengths:
Karma is true.
Highly educated Sanghas.
Stable politics.
Good currency exchange rates.
A decent amount of Dharma has come here and been translated into English.
Many NA monasteries paired with Asian teaching institutions.

What are our weaknesses:
Institutional misogyny.
Upper middle class snobbery.
An aging Sangha.
Coming economic problems.
Competition from Asia for teachers.
The criminalization of poverty in our society.(try being a nomad here and you will quickly meet the boot of the cops)

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Mantrik » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:56 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:33 pm
Mantrik wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:12 am
I wonder if Zen is doing well because it was popularised back in the hippy days and has had more time to establish. I was maybe more typical in finding it through martial arts - we created a Dojo with a Zendo above it back in the 1990's. I didn't have time to get into it properly though as work took me elsewhere.
May also have something to do with the stripped down teachings and aesthetics. Not everyone takes to Boho chic explosions of color. Apple, and tech companies in general, have been tending to clean lines and simplicity... might be an indication of what contemporary minds tend toward.
Definitely was also a fashion in interior design which reflected Japanese styles. I have to admit I have no idea what Cha'an style may be.

I wonder how long it takes for someone to take some simple spiritual teachings, elaborate and extend, form a cult etc. I have a feeling that paths with lots of costumes, rituals and spirits may be easier to abuse for sex etc.
http://www.khyung.com

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Crazywisdom » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:12 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:37 pm
Crazywisdom wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:29 pm
We need a strong subculture of Western Buddhist nomads.
You're talking about tumbleweed yogis. They depend on the settled communities for their support. They've always been a counter-culture. You need the community householders to support that. Horse before the cart.
Not really. Trungpa described in a way that made it seem grand.
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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by PeterC » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:33 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:03 pm
PeterC wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:42 pm
There’s no point in fixating on something measurable and irrelevant because the relevant indicator is immensurable.

Thurman is an important scholar and has made enormous contributions to the Dharma but there is significant, obvious risk in considering financial stability an indicator of ‘success’. We all know where that can lead.

It’s a frustrating problem because institutions are important. Without them the continuity of knowledge and the conditions for practice are fragile. No financial sustainability, no institutions.
Abundance of generosity from the householding community can be an indication of fraud. It can also be a metric of devotion. Devotion comes from... well I think this crowd understands how devotion comes about. Just because the path of dealing with the mundane business aspects of keeping institutions up and running is fraught is not reason to turn away from it. I'm sorry, but that's naive. There is no other way. We have to deal with this.

Without financial support, as you observe, no dharma. That goes for the teachers coming from traditionally Buddhist lands. Their lines survived to the present because people supported them with $$.

The question is how to keep this on the up and up.

For this I would suggest looking at the Vinaya - The Buddha set forth reasons for the Vinaya and several of those reasons is to maintain the good opinion of householders.

Buddhism has been around for 2500 years. They've dealt with these questions - how to ethically raise funds, how to benefit ordinary people and as an ancillary matter encourage devotion. When people see dharma is important, dana flows to the point it becomes hard to put the resources to good user... you end up with golden statues and exquisite works of art. Just look at the record.
I think you miss the point. Buddhism has done a pretty bad job of dealing with these issues wherever there has been an institutional mechanism to accumulate wealth (as opposed to subsistence living on donations, which was the model for the sangha in the Buddha’s time). Dharma plus money tends to be a mess in any country. And if you tell Dharma teachers to try to raise and manage funds they will usually do that in a very inefficient way, because they don’t really know what they’re doing. The same applies to the sort of sangha members who typically volunteer for those responsibilities.

In any case the point of this thread was the putative demise of the Dharma in non-Asian countries, and the argument against that hyperbolic position was simply that today we have access to a multitude of great teachers and it’s quite possible to be a serious practitioner, so no, it isn’t the end of the world quite yet.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:10 pm

Nemo wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:43 pm
It's not about hand wringing. It's about developing strategy. I know very painfully you can win every single engagement and still lose a war. Preventative maintenance requires inspection. These scandals require a certain amount of introspection and restructuring. The original rate of growth has not been maintained and the entire global economy has changed. We need to change to meet the new environment. If a monk with no money stood out in front of somebodies house silent begging in my town he would be arrested. We need to identify our strengths and weaknesses and then plan a strategy to make Dharma stronger. Then work on smaller tactical engagements that help our strategy. Someone much smarter than me should make a list like this one to put things in perspective.

What are our strengths:
Karma is true.
Highly educated Sanghas.
Stable politics.
Good currency exchange rates.
A decent amount of Dharma has come here and been translated into English.
Many NA monasteries paired with Asian teaching institutions.

What are our weaknesses:
Institutional misogyny.
Upper middle class snobbery.
An aging Sangha.
Coming economic problems.
Competition from Asia for teachers.
The criminalization of poverty in our society.(try being a nomad here and you will quickly meet the boot of the cops)
Just to be clear - I'm not trying to be confrontational. Just a little friendly ribbing. We're on the same side.

I think you're bringing us around to a practical approach.

A couple comments and some further suggestions.

High education and upper middle class snobbery might fundamentally be aspects of the same thing. Consider the joke about parlor room liberals: They're all for helping the disadvantaged, until you propose building affordable housing in their neighborhood. And then you hear NIMBY! To be educated and affluent in the West makes for a nice complacent bubble. The sharp edges of life are held at length. That also probably contributes to the graying sangha - its nice and comfortable - bringing in new people is work and stressful. It requires being accommodating and extending yourself, and lessening attachment to comfort zones, maybe even emphasizing aspects of dharma that one has personally worked past. DW as an example - look at the questions newbies ask compared to the conversations the usual suspects have. I imagine newbies look at discussions on the finer points of the formless heavens and have no idea what to make of it, except maybe being intimidated. They're at at different point in life and practice. If you want to open dharma to young people, you have to present aspects that are relevant to them, not expect them to just tune into advanced stuff. There has to be an intentional and sustained effort to appeal to young people.

It does not seem that young people now have fewer questions about the meaning of life than previous generations. What is different is the mode of interaction. So, as people above noted, the online stuff is promising. But teachers face the same problems podcasters face - tens of thousands tuning in to listen but never thinking to contribute. What you end up with is NPR type fund drives and all kinds of other marketing angles. So that doesn't solve it.

How do we get young people out of their caves and into dharma centers?

Last night I was watching a show about O-Bon, which is the Japanese holiday for the dead. On the last night of obon, communities mark it with dancing and festivities. They had the translation of the songs and they were racy... it turns out, back when everyone lived in relative isolation on their farms, obon was a chance for young people to come and meet... Maybe there is a social angle. But its kind of chicken and egg... young people don't want to come and socialize with old people.

Still looking for that hook.
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: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by DNS » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:17 pm

Image

Religion has been on the decline in all nations, especially the economically developed nations. Even the U.S., which has been historically very conservative and religious; has decling church attendance.

Officially some 70 percent or more are Buddhist in Japan, but from what I have heard from people who live there, it is in name only and religion is declining there too. Same for China too.

The modern religion is becoming (or already is) materialism and consumerism. People might call themselves Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, etc but their real religion is consumerism and church / temple attendance is declining.

I track numbers of Buddhists just as a hobby and people say all the time that my numbers are exaggerated. That's okay, I tend to be on the optimistic side of things. :tongue:

https://dhammawiki.com/index.php/Buddhists_in_the_World
https://dhammawiki.com/index.php/United ... of_America

There are some 6 million Buddhists in the U.S., but the reality is that most of those are Asian-born or children of Asian immigrants. The Dharma has not been that long in the U.S. so maybe we are all too impatient. It takes time to take root here in North America. Another problem is the culture. The Asians learn from a young age the value of giving to the monks, nuns, temples. The American convert Buddhists are not known for giving that much unless they receive something in return, for example a retreat, a great talk from a highly venerated teacher, etc. But just going to the temple and giving food or money is not something Americans are used to doing. At many Theravada temples, the monks would have starved were it not for the Asian members who come daily and provide lunch for the monks.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:28 pm

PeterC wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:33 pm
I think you miss the point. Buddhism has done a pretty bad job of dealing with these issues wherever there has been an institutional mechanism to accumulate wealth (as opposed to subsistence living on donations, which was the model for the sangha in the Buddha’s time). Dharma plus money tends to be a mess in any country. And if you tell Dharma teachers to try to raise and manage funds they will usually do that in a very inefficient way, because they don’t really know what they’re doing. The same applies to the sort of sangha members who typically volunteer for those responsibilities.
Talking about pessimism, I think you're too pessimistic about dharma financing. You idealize the time of the Buddha. Have you read the Vinaya? People have been people since the beginning. That's why the rules were implemented in the first place.

Money is necessary. Really, its just a way to manage resources, and I think we all agree, we need to allocate resources to perpetuation of dharma.

So... guys who have spent their lives studying dharma are bad at handling money. Surprise. There are householders who are good at that. Let them do it.

Maybe one model could be taken from the protestant church - the congregation manages the church and hires the teacher so that the business can be segregated from the spirit. Implement Western norms of transparency and checks and balances.

There's always going to be possibility of things going bad. Life is treacherous. Or as the Buddha said, Dukkha. It also can't be avoided. That's why we are counseled to always be vigilant. We do what we can to keep ourselves pure, our sanghas pure, and we go on. When we discover dirt bags in our presence, we expel them.

The crux of the problem with Tibetan Buddhism in particular are these samayas you take that tie you to these teachers. When the teacher goes bad, everything burns. That's your unique problem.
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: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Crazywisdom » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:16 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:19 pm
Following up.

In my village, a wealthy Indian man opened a Hindu temple in a building he owns. I looked into buying that building with a vague idea of opening a Dharma hall in that same place.

This is how wealthy religious Asians think about supporting Dharma. I see this all over Asia. My experience is of course in Japan and its still remarkably common there. If there is no existing facility to contribute to and support, they build the facility and invite teachers to teach, and open it to the public.

Why? Because they know Dharma and its propagation is of paramount importance.

You guys wringing your hands for choosing the householder life and not pursuing practice more vigorously before. You want to make up for it? Be the force that bank rolls the dharma. I know you guys are already retired, but for those who are still working - get rich so you can give it away and support Dharma. There is nothing wrong with the householder life. If you really take to heart that you appeared here and now to practice, to be devoted to dharma, to ensure its perpetuation, look around and see what needs to be done to perpetuate it. This is the path you already chose, so follow through. You chose to appear in the Dharma wilderness, in a land where the name of the three jewels is barely known. There are many with little dust in the eyes and who will awaken if they get the chance to hear the dharma. So, instead of wondering where you can have it easy, consider where you are needed. The hand wringing, man. LOL
Agreed.

Ganachakrapuja is an avenue for householders to incorporate serious practice into daily life. Everyone eats.
I got my Chili Chilaya.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by MiphamFan » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:09 pm

Re: householder donations.

The best thing one could do is take a page out of business/marketing: interview some existing Westerners who do actually donate to support their favoured centres/monasteries without the expectation of receiving teachings/retreats/etc and try to find out what motivated them to start doing it, and whether there is something in their background that separates them from the "donate just for the teaching" crowd.

I have a hunch that one might discover that there is indeed some segmentation in between at least two subsets.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by passel » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:51 pm

I’d add ‘arid elitism’ to that list of weaknesses.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by PeterC » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:52 am

Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:28 pm

The crux of the problem with Tibetan Buddhism in particular are these samayas you take that tie you to these teachers. When the teacher goes bad, everything burns. That's your unique problem.
Not really. Monastic corruption looks pretty similar whether in Himalayan, East Asian or Theravedan institutions. It results from having a mechanism to accumulate wealth rather than just to meet the sanghas needs, and works perfectly well in the presence of a community following the vinaya.

Individual teachers who are assholes will abuse whatever dogma grants them authority. In the case of the vajrayana that happens to be samaya. However there are examples of abuse in other traditions where the teacher-student relationship is sufficient.

The problem of funding is of course an issue that needs to be confronted. But it is far from the most important issue. What sustains the dharma is good practitioners. The total number of those is less important than the existence and quality of a core of really good practitioners, scholars and teachers. Even one teacher in a generation can have a huge impact. The passing away of one great teacher is far more significant than a dozen scandals or bankrupt monasteries. That’s why I think you’re focusing on the wrong point here.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by smcj » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:04 am

The passing away of one great teacher is far more significant than a dozen scandals or bankrupt monasteries.
:good:
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by passel » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:29 am

passel wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:51 pm
I’d add ‘arid elitism’ to that list of weaknesses.
Also, longwindedness.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by Queequeg » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:53 am

PeterC wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:52 am
Queequeg wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:28 pm

The crux of the problem with Tibetan Buddhism in particular are these samayas you take that tie you to these teachers. When the teacher goes bad, everything burns. That's your unique problem.
Not really. Monastic corruption looks pretty similar whether in Himalayan, East Asian or Theravedan institutions. It results from having a mechanism to accumulate wealth rather than just to meet the sanghas needs, and works perfectly well in the presence of a community following the vinaya.

Individual teachers who are assholes will abuse whatever dogma grants them authority. In the case of the vajrayana that happens to be samaya. However there are examples of abuse in other traditions where the teacher-student relationship is sufficient.

The problem of funding is of course an issue that needs to be confronted. But it is far from the most important issue. What sustains the dharma is good practitioners. The total number of those is less important than the existence and quality of a core of really good practitioners, scholars and teachers. Even one teacher in a generation can have a huge impact. The passing away of one great teacher is far more significant than a dozen scandals or bankrupt monasteries. That’s why I think you’re focusing on the wrong point here.
I think we're talking about different things, but I'll roll.

The flow of Dana is an indication that the lay community enthusiastically supports dharma. Corruption is a separate issue.

I don't disagree with what you're saying about the importance of teachers, but, its frankly odd to put emphasis on teachers to the exclusion of the assembly. They're one and the same. No assembly, no teachers. No assembly in NA, no teachers in NA. No assembly, no corrupt, bankrupt institutions, either, so I guess there's that.
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

PeterC
Posts: 624
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: This Western Dharma experiment has been unsuccessful

Post by PeterC » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:36 am

Queequeg wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:53 am

I think we're talking about different things, but I'll roll.

The flow of Dana is an indication that the lay community enthusiastically supports dharma. Corruption is a separate issue.

I don't disagree with what you're saying about the importance of teachers, but, its frankly odd to put emphasis on teachers to the exclusion of the assembly. They're one and the same. No assembly, no teachers. No assembly in NA, no teachers in NA. No assembly, no corrupt, bankrupt institutions, either, so I guess there's that.
I guess the - and I hate this term - mental model we're employing is probably different. Clearly zero sangha means zero teachers. But I don't think a large sangha in a given geography is a measure of success. Actually I don't think a large sangha anywhere is a measure of success. A temple with two monks doing serious practice is worth more than one with a thousand lay devotees burning incense but nobody studying a single line of a sutra, because the former will sustain the Dharma and the latter will not. These are of course extreme examples, and the counterargument would be, surely the second model generates enough income to sustain more serious practitioners than the first, which it clearly does. However - and this isn't just splitting hairs, I think - the measure of success is the number of serious practitioners. The number of incense-burners is irrelevant.

One doesn't need there to be a Dharma center down the road to be able to practice the Dharma and for the Dharma to be preserved. One needs to be able to access, periodically, a good quality teacher. A huge easily accessible sangha with no good teachers is, IMHO, much less desirable than that. I fear the scenario where the pressures of maintaining large organizations result in fewer really great teachers emerging, and from there all the standard signs of the decline of the Dharma result.

Anyway. Anyone in NA can, with very little effort, make contact with a good teacher and receive instruction. Ditto Europe and most of Asia. (Nobody seems particularly concerned about Africa and the Pacific Islands - I guess their karma isn't quite there yet?) The more I read the title to this thread, the more absurd it seems.

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