A few thoughts about recurring threads

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  • disastermouse

    A few thoughts about recurring threads

    As people float in and out of here, I see a few repeating themes come up that I thought we might discuss. Feel free to add and comment.

    Vegetarianism vs omnivorism:

    I feel this is something we have to sort out for ourselves. Much of the energy in this debate comes from the vegetarian side insisting that the only way to observe the precepts is to refrain from meat, but omnivore proponents (myself included) can be equally vociferous in defense of our own views. And that's maybe part of the problem. We are defending OUR views and sometimes there's a bit of a "God is on my side" aspect so that the real issues and opportunities to hear one another are clearly lost in the "I'm right, you're wrong" back and forth of the debate. Honestly, I think this is the part of the debate that is most instructive - not the resolution to the disagreement so much as the energy with which we interject our views as the Truth - full-stop.

    Rebirth:

    This is another area where I've seen a "You're not a real Buddhist unless you agree with me" attitude. I'm a re-birther (see what I did there?), but I've got no real beefs with rebirth agnostics - right up until I see the argument that mind=brain. I think my biggest problem with this is that, if true, then aren't we all just practicing Buddhism as a stop-gap until the right pill/surgery/genetic treatment can manipulate our brains into brains of perfect expressions of enlightenment? There are a lot of problems with both these views (rebirth vs non-rebirth) - but neither side seems to want to acknowledge the ontological problems with BOTH views. If we can acknowledge these problems with BOTH views, maybe we can have some more productive conversations!

    Challenge the teacher!

    Ooh, this one's fun, isn't it? There's plenty of crazy to go around here. The original instinct is aggressively egoic, but the group dynamic thinking that goes with it is just as or maybe even more screwed up. What causes this constant dynamic? Person questions teacher(s) in an attacking way, sangha responds defending teacher for underlying reasons arguably as questionable as the attacker's, attacker senses that and seizes on it and now we're in high school again. There has to be a more intelligent way to enter these threads but I'm not sure I know what it is. I know that I often do not have the objective awareness to not get sucked into the dynamic.

    I NEED an answer!!/Just sit!

    I think a lot of people think that Zen practice is some sort of final answer to life, the universe, and everything - an ancient Eastern "42" that magically solves all problems. So they seek that answer as a philosophical structure - even when they don't think they are. The flip side of this is "just-sit-ism". Both are attempts to solve or escape the discomfort of the sense that something isn't right, IMHO. Looking for an escape is what I think is problematic here. Seeing the problem without an agenda helps. Still, we get the 'Solve my problem!/Just sit!!' dynamic a lot. Why is that?


    Chet
  • Myoku
    Member
    • Jul 2010
    • 1487

    #2
    Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

    Great collection Chet,
    you pretty nailed it and I find myself clearly in your description. Nothing to add from my side, besides a

    Gassho

    Peter

    Comment

    • Geika
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Jan 2010
      • 4971

      #3
      Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

      Very interesting topic. I like to notice and build patterns.

      Gassho,

      Amelia
      求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
      I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

      Comment

      • Kyonin
        Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
        • Oct 2010
        • 6739

        #4
        Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

        Great post, Chet.

        Maybe it could be a good idea to have a Treeleaf FAQ for this? Not sure, since all cases and situations are differente, but I also have noticed that some common answer is: just sit!
        Hondō Kyōnin
        奔道 協忍

        Comment

        • disastermouse

          #5
          Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

          Originally posted by chocobuda
          Great post, Chet.

          Maybe it could be a good idea to have a Treeleaf FAQ for this? Not sure, since all cases and situations are different, but I also have noticed that some common answer is: just sit!
          There's nothing wrong with 'just sit', really - but 'just sitting' isn't exactly what you think of when someone says 'just sit', IMHO. It's shorthand for 'attend to your practice' - the whole thing - Sangha, precepts practice, etc., also IMHO.

          I didn't start this thread to criticize, I just saw the same things coming up. Anista had a 'challenge the teacher' thread ... and that other guy had one recently. The vegetarian one is perenial. Rebirth as well - so I wondered if we could advance the dialogs instead of rehashing them nearly verbatim when they come up, we might be aware of them and dig a little deeper. Just a thought though.

          Chet

          Comment

          • JohnsonCM
            Member
            • Jan 2010
            • 549

            #6
            Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

            Well, I think they try to address this with the "Talks for new people" section and whenever someone rehashes a topic, Jundo or Taigu usually post a link to the previous post and such. I think that as new people cycle in and out of Treeleaf, or for those who don't really know where the threads for the previous talks are, they will always come up. But again, there is a lot of that Western Dynamic in this sangha, which isn't all bad, but we have been taught to push back on the ideas of others instead of opening our mind to the other person's way of thinking. My wife is fond of saying that people can't tell her how she feels is wrong, it's how she feels. I know she means to say that her way of feeling is acceptable to her, and should be at least recognized as valid even if you don't agree, but the sound of "you can't tell me I'm wrong, that's how I feel" should be obvious. Many people are racist, that's how they feel, but that's still wrong. They remain racist when they won't accept the validity of the oppinion that people of other ethnic origins are not less then them.

            Same with challenge the teacher. Not to say that it is wrong, it can be good, but when done constructively, and with a genuine motivation to understand the other's point. But to question, just to question, or to try to prove another wrong (not teach them, but "one up" them) to question to satisfy one's ego, that's a different matter. As to things like rebirth, I never understood arguing over things that one either can't prove or can't do something constructive with. If I say "no we are not physically reborn" and you say "yes we are" best case scenario for you is that if we both die, both get reborn, both remember our previous lives and everything in them, and both somehow manage to meet again, well then you can say "I told you so!" but that's about it.

            It's like majoring in philosophy, only good to become a teacher of philosophy. :twisted:
            Gassho,
            "Heitetsu"
            Christopher
            Sat today

            Comment

            • Rev R
              Member
              • Jul 2007
              • 457

              #7
              Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

              Chet,
              Originally posted by disastermouse
              right up until I see the argument that mind=brain
              Well we can start right there. Unless you have seen something I haven't, the only direct reference to this debate is your claim that they are not. If you want to discuss this particular aspect, we can start a new thread and see where it goes. The only thing I recommend remembering is that it should be taken for fun rather than an opportunity to shove a right view down someone's throat. Deal?

              an ancient Eastern "42" that magically solves all problems.
              My reading of St. Douglass was that "42" actually created more problems than it solved.

              R

              Comment

              • michaeljc
                Member
                • May 2011
                • 148

                #8
                Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                Well, when some one finds a better solution than just sit, let me know. Meantime ..........
                m

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39075

                  #9
                  Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                  Actually, maybe my most useful role around here is as "air traffic controller", making sure that all the new folks get the information they need when a subject comes up, and linking new threads to old. I am the one who always remember "the thread we had back in 2007 right on that point!" :wink:

                  I am sure it has been the same for thousands of years ... with brand new monks in the Buddha's Sangha in India coming up to the old boy again and again, year after year, "So, what were the Four Noble Truths again?"

                  It was probably enough to drive the Buddha batty! :?

                  In the new Forum reorganization we will have, we will probably have a section with key threads on perpetual or basic topics.

                  Gassho, J
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39075

                    #10
                    Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                    Oh, and by the way ...

                    "Just Sit" is a Total, Complete and Thorough Answer to All Things, Leaving No Doubt Unresolved ... I kid you not ...

                    ... even though it may not be the answer to all one's little questions and all life's mysteries, nor the fixer of all problems. Zazen is useless ... and won't even fix a flat tire or tell you what to have for lunch. 8)

                    Funny how that works.


                    Gassho, J
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • Hans
                      Member
                      • Mar 2007
                      • 1853

                      #11
                      Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                      Hello,

                      an interesting topic.

                      Please excuse a bit of internet-cynicism and let me add that (according to my gut) 15% of people just can't be bothered to do even the slightest bit of forum searching but would much rather have everybody else do the work for them.

                      Gassho,

                      Hans Chudo Mongen

                      P.S. And YES, I might be projecting because of years of experiences in other forums

                      Comment

                      • lorax
                        Member
                        • Jun 2008
                        • 381

                        #12
                        Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                        Hi Chet, good to see you around Treeleaf again.... Hope things are going well with you. I think Hans has nailed it, we have travled the same trails over the last few years, however I think we are still shaking out the challanges of an on line sangha. We all need to use the search option and take a look at our own footprints from time to time.

                        Take care,

                        Jim
                        Shozan

                        Comment

                        • AlanLa
                          Member
                          • Mar 2008
                          • 1405

                          #13
                          Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                          Well said, Chet. I don't spend a lot of time here any more because it's become pretty repetitive of those themes you listed. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but when "been here, read that" became so common I started tuning quite a bit of it out. I assume I do this because I have been here for a number of years now, but there was a time when everything here was new and those themes were fresh and fertile ground for experience and study. It's not the forum's fault; it's me that's gone stale.
                          AL (Jigen) in:
                          Faith/Trust
                          Courage/Love
                          Awareness/Action!

                          I sat today

                          Comment

                          • anista
                            Member
                            • Dec 2009
                            • 262

                            #14
                            Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                            Originally posted by disastermouse
                            I didn't start this thread to criticize, I just saw the same things coming up. Anista had a 'challenge the teacher' thread ... and that other guy had one recently.

                            Chet
                            Hello Chet,

                            You must have me confused with someone else. No biggie!

                            Nice to see you, by the way, and great thread! It reminds me of an old poem:

                            "Those who grow tired
                            of the dharma
                            see everything
                            as the same shade
                            of grey"

                            /anista
                            The mind does not know itself; the mind does not see itself
                            The mind that fabricates perceptions is false; the mind without perceptions is nirv??a

                            Comment

                            • Risho
                              Member
                              • May 2010
                              • 3179

                              #15
                              Re: A few thoughts about recurring threads

                              I think we should maybe add a new topic called BASHING THE TEACHERS. It would be really useful especially for days when I need to vent. :mrgreen:

                              Gassho,

                              Risho

                              P.S. I'm in a very sarcastic mood by the way, and I have a devious sense of humor, so no hate mail from any of you's. hahahhaha :mrgreen:
                              Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                              Comment

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