Criticising other Buddhist traditions/teachers.

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  • Jun
    Member
    • Jun 2007
    • 236

    Criticising other Buddhist traditions/teachers.

    Hello all,

    I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on criticising the teachings of other Buddhist teachers/traditions. To many it appears that this is a violation of the 6th and 7th precepts, but reading through history it appears that (in Japan at least) it was common to discount the teachings of other teachers and traditions.

    Gassho
    Gassho
    Jun
    The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39459

    #2
    Hi Jun,

    As the Sheriff and Head Honcho of the Treeleaf Zendo, I would like to give you an "Official" opinion. In fact, it is probably one of the few "rules" I would like to maintain around here (this, and "Please be generally kind to each other in our words and acts"). That's the law in these here parts. So, everybody, please try to keep this in mind in our discussions (or I will tickle your nose with my horse hair Hossu):

    It is a very fine line. Personally, I think that there are many paths up the mountain, and not every road is suitable for every person. So, there may be a Muslim road, Jewish road, Hindu road, Buddhist road, Shinto road ... and they all come from and lead to the same place. Some folks prefer, or are raised, to know only certain paths. Even within Buddhism, there are different roads and detours.

    So, I think that it is acceptable to criticize and contrast beliefs intellectually, and to state how our beliefs differ, so long as we recognize that other people disagree and may think the same of us. We can even be direct and strong in the statement, so long as we say that others may have other views and we cannot be sure that we have the one and unique pipeline to god's ear. We can state that others may be incorrect or old fashioned or the like in their beliefs, as long as we offer the same just as our opinion.

    It is a fine line, but you know it when you see it. I think.

    Heck, it is the same line I have recently walked in criticizing certain practices within my own teaching lineage. ;-)

    Gassho, Jundo the Infallible
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Jun
      Member
      • Jun 2007
      • 236

      #3
      Hello Jundo,

      My intention is not to have this turn into a slinging match. I would hope that no schools or teachers are mentioned here out of respect for the various paths and abilities of us all on our quest.

      I ask this question only to know what others think on the very subject of "criticism" itself. I do not want to get into discussing the practices of other schools/teachers or the pros and cons of one method over another.

      In reading through history (Japanese) it is evident that many of the fine traditions we have today have evolved solely (or maybe in part) from one student criticising his teacher's methods, or the tradition itself and going off and forming his own following.

      This may be connected to my interest (still) in the whole authority/lineage thing. Or in my interest in integrating the teachings into other cultures without the need for cultural trappings.

      Basically, as you have answered, I was asking is criticism seen as a positive thing or taboo?

      Gassho
      Gassho
      Jun
      The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39459

        #4
        Originally posted by Jun
        Hello Jundo,

        My intention is not to have this turn into a slinging match. I would hope that no schools or teachers are mentioned here out of respect for the various paths and abilities of us all on our quest.

        I ask this question only to know what others think on the very subject of "criticism" itself. I do not want to get into discussing the practices of other schools/teachers or the pros and cons of one method over another.

        In reading through history (Japanese) it is evident that many of the fine traditions we have today have evolved solely (or maybe in part) from one student criticising his teacher's methods, or the tradition itself and going off and forming his own following.

        This may be connected to my interest (still) in the whole authority/lineage thing. Or in my interest in integrating the teachings into other cultures without the need for cultural trappings.

        Basically, as you have answered, I was asking is criticism seen as a positive thing or taboo?

        Gassho
        Hi Jun,

        May I append to my answer then? Questions like this bring back the lawyer (now retired) in me, and the love of fine distinctions.

        I see nothing wrong whatsoever with mentioning other schools and teachers by name, and discussing the pros/cons of their various methods and recommendations and practices in the most direct and clear terms, stating my opinions and criticisms directly ... as long as I do so with a smile on my face, knowing that such is but my view and others may find things to be otherwise. I will tell you to do things a certain way because I consider them better for many people, but I never insist that other ways might not be better for other people.

        Like any apprentice of a master artist, I will attempt to follow my teacher's ways, then make them my way ... keeping most aspects, changing some in my style. Now that I am a teacher too, I will not hesitate to criticize politely my own teacher's ways if I think I might suggest to him something.

        I think that one reason that this Treeleaf Community Forum has been so very pleasant these past months is that everybody has been doing pretty much these things.

        At least I think so. DARE you disagree????? ;-)

        Gassho, Jundo
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39459

          #5
          Hans,

          Pressed palms. Little to criticize in what you wrote, I think.

          And to Harry, I might add that our news media and the internet are flooded with talking heads and pundits speaking or writing in rhetoric. Opinions are expressed, not to convey an opinion of fact, but to win a debating point. That is a shame, and the art of reasoned discourse is nearly lost.

          If I believe that the traditional Buddhist teachings were sometimes sexist, or that a particular Buddhist teacher's view of Karma and Reincarnation is rather quaint, or that another teacher's instructions on meditation have some flaw I see (such as that magical healing powers will manifest from doing so), I need to say so for purposes of teaching what I have to teach.

          And if I am wrong, well, I am willing to absorb the Karmic burden.

          Gassho, Jundo
          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

          Comment

          • Jun
            Member
            • Jun 2007
            • 236

            #6
            Hello all,

            Thank you all for the responses, Harry, Hans, Jundõ.

            In particular, how does one criticise a school that claims to teach Buddhism that is clearly not, or that is from all observances detrimental to the teachings and possible welfare of it's members?

            The case of Aum Shinrikyõ comes to mind when Buddhists in Japan were reluctant to state that what Asahara was teaching was not Buddhism.

            These days one only needs to say something that another party does not agree with and you may find yourself in a courtroom on charges of defamation or religious intolerance.

            A quick flick through the Yellow pages here shows a number of "Buddhist" schools which are clearly not or that simply use the term "Buddhist." Even the Buddhist Council here has groups listed as "Buddhist traditions" that are healing groups, Reiki schools, Kung Fu schools, etc...

            Gassho
            Gassho
            Jun
            The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

            Comment

            • Hans
              Member
              • Mar 2007
              • 1853

              #7
              Hello Jun!

              The problem in my eyes, is the definition of what "buddhism"is supposed to be at the end of the day.

              The majority of people using a word define the meaning of that word in the public sphere in the long run, when it comes to everyday usage. If six billion people were to use the word karma, didn't know what they were talking about and agreed to simply see it as "fate" in the graeco-christian sense,then that's the meaning of the word.Period. A few hundred people could call themselves true Karmaists, but that wouldn't change the fact that the majority of users always define the language code of a broader society. The word "gay" being a point in case...

              Now most mainstream buddhist schools that have been around for longer than let's say 100 years will all agree on certain key teachings like the four noble truths, the eightfold path, the twelve links of interdependent origination....and thus it is easy to find enough common ground to justify the -ism bit in Buddhism. Now if some organization teaches stuff that is neither based on Theravada, nor on Mahayana-sutras or known shastras....it could still be true, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be a part of Buddhism. Or more likely it's complete rubbish.

              If you see Buddhism first and foremost as a religious tradition, then each one of the older-schools usually has a whole list of house-rules on offer that define true buddhism in their eyes. The question is, who has enough authority in your eyes to make a statement about what is and what isn't buddhism? The Dalai-Lama?

              Nope, he's just the head of the Gelugpa sect, he has no power over other Tibetan schools like e.g. the Karma-Kagyu.

              The Theravada guys? ....in whose eyes mahayana is often seen as an illegitimate outgrowth of original buddhism?

              The Mahayana guys? Who seem to be at leisure to discard a lot of stuff that was going on at the time of the historical Buddha?

              The Vajrayana guys? Who have the fastest way to enlightenment (GUARANTEED!!!) and also the highest percentage of shamanistic influences in their practice system?

              The academics? Who very often write loads and loads of pages about stuff that happens HERE, RIGHT NOW and cannot be put into words?

              Or do we just jump onto the post-modern band wagon and simply pick'n'mix whatever feels good to our consumerist selves and change our own definitions depending on what cereal we had for breakfast?

              So.....what remains is in my eyes another two questions.

              How much practical, historical and cultural knowledge do I (or in your case YOU) have of ALL of the major buddhist traditions in order to allow me to judge another group in a way that seems fair and comparatively unbiased,or at the very least well informed?

              the other question

              How much harm do these horrible people I wish to criticise actually do ?

              Traditionally speaking, proselytizing is something that next to NO buddhist group ever did on a large scale...although there are some rather prominent modern examples that do exactly that....

              If I don't tell other people all the time they have to become Zen buddhists, why should I in turn tell them NOT to be something else? And where does it stop? Christians surely are no buddhists....although nowadays you'll even find people who'll tell you they are, they just don't know it and stuff like that....

              It's of course different should someone you know get involved into something that obviously has a very negative influence on them....general cult check lists apply to buddhist sects as well.

              Let's take Treeleaf as an example. Jundo doesn't charge any money (which is one of the main driving forces behind fake neo-buddhist groups and cults in general), he can't sodomize me through a fibre glass cable and with such small (intended) numbers, the world domination plan seems like a rather unlikely secret masterplan.

              The sometimes sad fact is, that anything can become accepted Buddhism as the years go by, as long as there are enough followers over an extended period of time that can manage to integrate (or infiltrate) into mainstream society and gain a respectable power base. Zen was considered BS for quite some time and was even seen as a heresy, same story with Nichiren and every other innovation within the buddhist circuit.

              I don't have all the answers, but I sure have my own opinion,and if I see someone in my neighbourhood harming people, no matter whether it's through pseudo-buddhism, rumours, or drugs, I'llmake myself heard one way or another, if that's necessary.

              It's always better to give people access to reliable information, rather than to tell them that what they're doing is just plain wrong. Let them make up their own mind , onc ethey have the right info....and if they can't drawtheir own self-responsible conclusions, then they have a big problem anyway, no matter whether there's a Say Swami Bobo brainwashing them or not.

              Gassho,

              Hans

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39459

                #8
                he can't sodomize me through a fibre glass cable and with such small (intended) numbers, the world domination plan seems like a rather unlikely secret masterplan.
                Actually, I'm only doing this for the sodomy and possible world domination. After that, the money.

                Gassho, Jundo :P
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • Keishin
                  Member
                  • Jun 2007
                  • 471

                  #9
                  Criticising Buddhism and other zen teachings

                  Hellos to everyone:

                  This is our life. Picking and choosing.
                  In all aspects of our life--distinctions, distinctions, distinctions.
                  But really, these are just like colored feathers on birds.
                  What are we identifying?

                  Not picking and choosing: this is OUR LIFE.

                  Both picking and choosing and not picking and choosing = living.

                  gassho
                  Keishin

                  Comment

                  • Gregor
                    Member
                    • Apr 2007
                    • 638

                    #10
                    Actually, I'm only doing this for the sodomy and possible world domination. After that, the money.

                    Gassho, Jundo :P
                    Well, the twisted truth comes out at last. . . just when we thought Zazen was a boor we learn its the to key world domination, filthy lucre, and unlimitied diddling opportunities.

                    :twisted:
                    Jukai '09 Dharma Name: Shinko 慎重(Prudent Calm)

                    Comment

                    • Keishin
                      Member
                      • Jun 2007
                      • 471

                      #11
                      criticising Buddhism and other zen teachings

                      oops

                      Comment

                      • Keishin
                        Member
                        • Jun 2007
                        • 471

                        #12
                        criticising Buddhism and other zen teachings

                        There's a difference between criticising and telling the truth.
                        Telling the truth is pointing your finger at the truth.
                        Criticising is pointing the finger at another.

                        Anytime I point my finger at anyone--there are three fingers pointing back at me.
                        I like to think those three fingers point to my anger, my greed and my ignorance.
                        Before I make plans for what someone else should do differently. I can ask myself--what in myself can I change with regard to my own anger, my own greed and my own ignorance.
                        When it comes down to it, that's all I'm ever going to have a chance to really do anything about. That's at least a lifetime's task, and that's plenty for me.

                        When it comes to the truth, sometimes the obvious is hard to see,
                        pointing can be helpful.
                        Not everyone is looking for the truth.
                        That's all.

                        gassho
                        keishin

                        Comment

                        • Keishin
                          Member
                          • Jun 2007
                          • 471

                          #13
                          criticising Buddhism and other zen teachings

                          Dear Harry:
                          My point exactly.
                          gassho
                          Keishin

                          Comment

                          • Keishin
                            Member
                            • Jun 2007
                            • 471

                            #14
                            criticising Buddhism and other zen teachings

                            Dear Guest H:
                            Not so much my point.
                            gassho
                            Keishin

                            Comment

                            • Fuken
                              Member
                              • Sep 2006
                              • 435

                              #15
                              I think it would be good to inset Master Dogen's "Bendowa" in to this conversation som how or way.

                              Gassho
                              Jordan
                              Yours in practice,
                              Jordan ("Fu Ken" translates to "Wind Sword", Dharma name givin to me by Jundo, I am so glad he did not name me Wind bag.)

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