Being a Buddhist

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  • will
    Member
    • Jun 2007
    • 2331

    Being a Buddhist

    If being a Buddhist means believing and reading what every Sutra says , instead of finding out for one's self through Zazen, and life, then you can count me out. I am not a Buddhist in that sense.

    The Four Noble Truths, and Zazen seem to be enough for me (at the moment). Along with the Sangha, and life.

    Gassho
    [size=85:z6oilzbt]
    To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
    To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
    To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
    To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
    [/size:z6oilzbt]
  • Aswini
    Member
    • Apr 2008
    • 108

    #2
    Re: Being a Buddhist

    interesting.

    i think a balance is good. many of the masters i have read all place primary importance on the practice, but also getting the practice right. so in that sense a moderate (haha, what a buddhist word) amount of reading as well a sangha or good teacher would be very beneficial.

    actually, remembering back, ajahn mun - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajahn_Mun was asked this question, because he didn't have a teacher himself. His response was that finding a teacher and by that extension reading is good because had he himself had a teacher he could have saved him a lot of time and effort.

    each to their own obviously.

    mettha.

    Comment

    • Hans
      Member
      • Mar 2007
      • 1853

      #3
      Re: Being a Buddhist

      Hello!

      I'll try to write this post for a second time, since the last one (which was originally intended for the ignorance is bliss thread) got swallowed by some digital asura during my posting it This is a rather longish posting due to my quoting extensively from two essays, so if you're in a hurry, just skip all this.

      My favourite definition of whether one is or is not a Buddhist comes down to the four seals (the following is taken from an essay by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche called Buddhism in a nutshell):

      "So what is the particular view that Buddhists try to get used to? Buddhism is distinguished by four characteristics, or “seals.” Actually, if all these four seals are found in a path or a philosophy, it doesn’t matter whether you call it Buddhist or not. You can call it what you like; the words “Buddhist” or “Buddhism” are not important. The point is that if this path contains these four seals, it can be considered the path of the Buddha.

      Therefore, these four characteristics are called “the Four Seals of Dharma.” They are:

      All compounded things are impermanent.

      All emotions are painful. This is something that only Buddhists would talk about. Many religions worship things like love with celebration and songs. Buddhists think, “This is all suffering.”

      All phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence. This is actually the ultimate view of Buddhism; the other three are grounded on this third seal.

      The fourth seal is that nirvana is beyond extremes.

      Without these four seals, the Buddhist path would become theistic, religious dogma, and its whole purpose would be lost. On the other hand, you could have a surfer giving you teachings on how to sit on a beach watching a sunset: if what he says contains all these four seals, it would be Buddhism. The Tibetans, the Chinese, or the Japanese might not like it, but teaching doesn’t have to be in a “traditional” form. The four seals are quite interrelated, as you will see."

      Now whether we agree with Rinpoche's view or not, one should in my opinion take into account what 95% (a guess) of all self- or other-proclaimed buddhists think and what ended up in the dictionary to be frank. Otherwise we'll have a million people running around all pretending to be Buddhists according to their own definition. In the same way I am e.g. not interested what "true Islam" (or any other religion for that matter) is, if it hides in a cave 23 miles to the west of Babylon. We need generally accepted terms, or else any kind of communication becomes meaningless.

      Gassho, Hans

      Comment

      • Martin
        Member
        • Jun 2007
        • 216

        #4
        Re: Being a Buddhist

        Well, Hans, I'd struggle with "all emotions are painful". All emotions are transient, devoid of self, not to be clung to, not to be hankered after, are just what they are, I could accept all of that. But I just don't understand "all emotions are painful". Joy, be definition, is not painful. Chasing joy, hankering after it, may be suffering, but joy is just joy. Happiness is just happiness. Pain is just pain, too.

        There again, perhaps I'm not a Buddhist, and if that's so then that wouldn't trouble me greatly. I don't suppose the Buddha was a Buddhist either.

        Gassho

        Martin

        Comment

        • Hans
          Member
          • Mar 2007
          • 1853

          #5
          Re: Being a Buddhist

          Hello Martin!

          That particular Rinpoche wrote a book called "Why you're not a buddhist" or something...I just read some excerpts, and from what I understand, the "painful" in "all emotions are painful" refers to what you yourself wrote, meaning the transiency of feelings and emotions. No joy ever lasts....thus they call it "painful" emotions.

          Gassho,

          Hans

          Comment

          • Mensch
            Member
            • Jun 2007
            • 77

            #6
            Re: Being a Buddhist

            Originally posted by Martin
            Well, Hans, I'd struggle with "all emotions are painful".
            No real problem here. Unsure abut a proper source I still think that emotions in buddhism are generally regarded a bodily reaction to intellectual judgments and preferences which are the causes of any kind of suffering. Secondly neither dread nor bliss equal that state of mind which I – for lack of better words – call just "peace". The total collapse of any kind of conflict. Egoistic happiness – as opposed to contentment – is an expression of need, hence it's inherently painful.

            Just my two cents.

            Mensch

            Comment

            • Martin
              Member
              • Jun 2007
              • 216

              #7
              Re: Being a Buddhist

              Thanks Harry

              And now you mention it, I've actually got that book! But much easier just to post the first thing that comes into my head here, rather than go and read the book first! I'll have a look at it tonight!

              Gassho

              Martin

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39419

                #8
                Re: Being a Buddhist

                Hi Guys,

                In my view, "Zazen" without Buddhist philosophy, reading the Sutras and such, is raw clay that lacks sculpting hands.

                And Buddhist books and philosophy without Zazen are just dead words on a page.

                One must also, of course, recall that the Buddhist books, including all the Sutras, were written by hundreds and hundreds of human authors (even the Sutras were written down by men long centuries after the death of the Buddha), and they are all over the place. More variety of teachings than the grocery store has varieties of ice cream flavors. Even Zen Buddhist teachings, as we have often discussed, come in many flavors with subtle differences in focus and interpretation.

                It's hard, but you just have to find a teacher you trust, a teachings you trust!

                Martin: Even happiness and joy can be "suffering" if we are attached to them, cling to them, run after them, crave them and are afraid to seem them come and go. That is what is meant.

                I agree with Hans on the Four Seals, but just yesterday we had a discussion in the forum about how (in the particular Buddhist books I use ) there is a particular flavor to the Four Seals:

                Uchiyama Roshi (one of the great Soto Zen Masters whose book we are just reading in the book club) phrased the "Four Seals" a bit differently, especially No. 4:

                "Nirvana is peace", but also this can be phrased in Mahayana Buddhism as "all things are themselves ultimate reality, or all things are as they are ... everything is truth in itself" Thus, we believe that "all phenomena are empty and without inherent identity" ... yet not, and each is absolutely real and complete unto itself. Guatami is 100% Gautami, with not a darn thing that can be done to make her more or less "Guatami than she is (even as, of course, from another perspective ... there's no "Guatami" !!)

                So, one way to "peace" is to see Nirvana, that there is no "self" to bump into other "selfs". Another is that Nirvana is just each "self" as perfectly just what it is, perfectly imperfectly just itself. This is also peace.

                And also No. 2., Everything is suffering. People sometimes think that "life is suffering" because it contains such things as sickness, old age and death, but that is not (in our view) what the Buddha meant. He meant that "sickness, old age and death" are suffering when we resist the natural reality of "sickness, old age and death." If you are, for example, at peace with being ill, growing old and eventually dying .... where's the problem? In fact the Buddha eventually got old, sick and died. He never found an escape from that reality!

                This ties in with what we said above: sickness is just what it is, and absolutely true ... old age and death the same. That was the subject of my talk today on the Leaf "sit-a-long" ...

                http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/08 ... a-xvi.html

                So, live this life ... and though there may be "pain" "tears" as well as "joys" and "pleasures", be at peace with each ... and keep it all in good balance and moderation too! It is all "real" and your life!

                That is our take on the "Four Seals".

                Gassho, Jundo

                viewtopic.php?p=14416#p14416
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • Dainin
                  Member
                  • Sep 2007
                  • 389

                  #9
                  Re: Being a Buddhist

                  Originally posted by Jundo
                  In my view, "Zazen" without Buddhist philosophy, reading the Sutras and such, is raw clay that lacks sculpting hands.

                  And Buddhist books and philosophy without Zazen are just dead words on a page.
                  Hey Jundo,

                  I don't expect that I will (or will ever really want to) read all (or even most) of the Suttas that are out there. I agree with Will's original post. I'm at a place in my practice right now that it consists of Zazen, Precepts, 4 Noble Truths/8-fold Path. That's enough for me right now. I actually think that's probably enough for a lifetime. Being a reader, I do engage in reading more Buddhist stuff than that, but presently with my practice, I can really only handle Zazen, Precepts, 4 Noble Truths/8-fold Path. Are you suggesting that that's not (for lack of a better word) "enough"?

                  Addendum: Okay, I see that, considering the many and divergent Suttas, you wrote that this is a good reason to have a good teacher.

                  Thanks,
                  Keith

                  Comment

                  • Shui_Di
                    Member
                    • Apr 2008
                    • 210

                    #10
                    Re: Being a Buddhist

                    "...to much light can make you blind, to much voice can make you deaf..." (Tao Te Ching)

                    well, words or Buddhist scripture just like fire. it can give you a light, but to much fire can burn your house. It depends on how wise we use it. so... be careful... :wink:

                    (seeing that word is bad, and no word is good, is just another kind of discrimination thinking)

                    Gassho, Shuidi.
                    Practicing the Way means letting all things be what they are in their Self-nature. - Master Dogen.

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39419

                      #11
                      Re: Being a Buddhist

                      Hi Keith,

                      It is physically impossible to read all the pages of Buddhist Sutras, Commentaries, Commentaries on Commentaries (most never translated).

                      And if you did read lots of that, you would find a conflicting and tangled maze of "Buddhisms" ... countless flavors.

                      Take your reading in small doses, lightly and well chosen. Everything in moderation, even Buddhist reading.

                      Even this forum: I have heard folks say that the quantity of words on this forum can be overwhelming. Well, remember, folks, on this forum we are just a "bunch of guys sitting around a barbershop talkin' sports (or talking the "universe")". Don't take it all too seriously. Jump in and out, take what is helpful and leave the rest.

                      Gassho, J
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • Dainin
                        Member
                        • Sep 2007
                        • 389

                        #12
                        Re: Being a Buddhist

                        Originally posted by Jundo
                        Take your reading in small doses, lightly and well chosen. Everything in moderation, even Buddhist reading.

                        Even this forum: I have heard folks say that the quantity of words on this forum can be overwhelming. Well, remember, folks, on this forum we are just a "bunch of guys sitting around a barbershop talkin' sports (or talking the "universe")". Don't take it all too seriously. Jump in and out, take what is helpful and leave the rest.
                        Excellent reminders!

                        Thank you,
                        Keith

                        Comment

                        • Keishin
                          Member
                          • Jun 2007
                          • 471

                          #13
                          Re: Being a Buddhist

                          The map is not the territory.
                          A map is useful when it is understood for what it is.

                          I started to write a lot more, but really this is unnecessary, just really consider maps and how they are made

                          Comment

                          • Dainin
                            Member
                            • Sep 2007
                            • 389

                            #14
                            Re: Being a Buddhist

                            Originally posted by Keishin
                            The map is not the territory.
                            A map is useful when it is understood for what it is.
                            Another great reminder.

                            Thanks,
                            Keith

                            Comment

                            • disastermouse

                              #15
                              Re: Being a Buddhist

                              Unityspirit, if you already know the truth, why do you ask us for validation? If there is really no self, why do care?

                              You are very full of ideas and you want to defend them - but don't be hurt if we don't want to fight with you about it.

                              Chet

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