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Ecstasy in Buddhism

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  • Jeffrey S. Brooks
    Hello Rick, and thank-you for your kind interest. I have had many people that I might have become addicted to ecstasy . I have been saying no all along,
    Message 1 of 23 , Dec 9, 2003
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      Hello Rick, and thank-you for your kind interest. I have had many
      people that I might have become addicted to ecstasy . I have been
      saying no all along, because ecstasy requires dispassion and
      equanimity for it to emerge and deepen. And, some have come out and
      stated that ecstatic contemplatives (jhana yogis) are addicted to
      ecstasy.

      What I find most interesting about the accusation that I am addicted
      to the ecstatic contemplative experience is we live in a culture that
      is addicted to many substances, such as alcohol, nicotine and
      caffeine, not to mention all of the prescription medications people
      are on and the illegal narcotics millions of Americans buy every year.

      Well, in the Buddha's own words, yes, ecstatic contemplatives (jhana
      yogis) are addicted to ecstasy, worse, pleasure seeking. But, since
      it is a pleasure "not of the senses" it is a pleasure worthy of
      seeking for one who seeks Buddhahood, Arahantship, full enlightenment,
      nibbana.

      Please see below.

      Digha Nikaya 29
      Pasadika Sutta
      The Delightful Discourse
      a translation from the Pali by
      Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, Boston 1987, 1995

      24.2 There are, Cunda, these four kinds of life devoted to pleasure
      which are conducive to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to
      tranquillity, to realization, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are
      they? First a monk detached from sense-desires, detached from
      unwholesome mental states, enters and remains in the first jhana,
      which is with thinking and pondering, born of detachment, filled with
      delight and happiness. And, with the subsiding of thinking and
      pondering, by gaining inner tranquillity and oneness of mind, he
      enters and remains in the second jhana, which is without thinking and
      pondering, born of concentration, filled with delight and happiness.
      Again, with the fading of delight, remaining imperturbable, mindful
      and clearly aware, he experiences in himself that joy of which the
      Noble Ones say; "Happy is he who dwells with equanimity and
      mindfulness," he enters and remains in the third jhana. Again, having
      given up pleasure and pain, and with the disappearance of former
      gladness and sadness, he enters and remains in the fourth jhana, which
      is beyond pleasure and pain, and purified by equanimity and mindfulness.

      These are the four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are
      entirely conducive to disenchantment, to cessation, to tranquillity,
      to realization, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. So, if wanderers from
      other sects should say that the followers of the Sakyan are addicted
      to these four forms of pleasure seeking, they should be told: "Yes,"
      for they would be speaking correctly about you, they would not be
      slandering you with false or untrue statements.

      25. Then such wanderers might ask: "Well then, those who are given to
      these four forms of pleasure-seeking - how many fruits, how many
      benefits can they expect?" And, you should reply: "They can expect
      four fruits, four benefits. What are they? The first is when a monk
      by destruction of three fetters has become a Stream-Winner, no more
      subject to rebirth in lower worlds, firmly established, destined for
      full enlightenment; the second is when a monk by the complete
      destruction of three fetters and the reduction of greed, hatred and
      delusion, has become a Once-Returner, and having returned once more to
      this world, will put an end to suffering; the third is when a monk, by
      the destruction of the corruptions in this very life has, by his own
      knowledge and realization, attained Arahantship, to the deliverance of
      heart and through wisdom. Such are the four fruits and the four
      benefits that one given to these four forms of pleasure-seeking can
      expect."

      Blessings to you,

      Jeff Brooks

      Ecstatic Buddhism
      A newsletter for ecstatic Buddhists
      website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Ecstatic_Buddhism/
      Subscribe: Ecstatic_Buddhism-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

      --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Richard St. Clair" <stclair@m...> wrote:
      > >A defense of Ecstatic Buddhism
      > ><snip>
      >
      > Hi, Jeff,
      > My understanding is that ecstasy is not the goal of Buddhism, though
      > there may be ecstatic experiences in some forms of Buddhist
      > meditation. To me, ecstasy implies pleasure, and pleasure is
      > fleeting and impermanent (though it may linger on for a long period).
      > In Pure Land buddhism, the "goal" is said to be birth in the Pure
      > land, also called "Sukhavati" or the "Realm of Happiness." But even
      > that is not the end of the nembutsu life - one returns to samsara to
      > help other beings reach enlightenment through Amida Buddha. At least
      > that is how I understand it.
      >
      > I try to be mindful of how the Buddha advised us not to invest
      > attachment to impermanent things, including (one would conclude)
      > ecstatic states. Shakyamuni Buddha is said to have spent a very long
      > time in a blissful realm called Tushita, but that came to an end.
      >
      > I would say that ecstasy is perhaps more a Hindu or Christian
      > mystical experience. At present, I have no interest in it. If I wake
      > up ecstatic, however, I may post my experience here! :)
      >
      > There is, incidentally, a book (by Jack Kornfield, I believe) titled
      > "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry." The title of the book sounds very
      > practical, though I admit I haven't read it (yet).
      > best wishes, and smooth sailing,
      > in gassho,
      > Rick
      >
      > PS: I have heard it said that the uppermost 4 jhanas do not involve
      > ecstasy, but I am in no position to defend that.>>
    • DAC Crowell
      ... Well, I in fact have experienced some of these things. I try to pay as little attention to them as possible. Ecstatic experience, like any other thing, can
      Message 2 of 23 , Dec 9, 2003
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        --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey S. Brooks"
        <macdocaz1@a...> wrote:
        >And, in hearing about my journey, maybe some of your
        >members might have had similar experiences and would like
        >a friendly and supportive person and place to share and
        >discuss those experiences.

        Well, I in fact have experienced some of these things. I try to pay
        as little attention to them as possible.

        Ecstatic experience, like any other thing, can lead to attachment.
        And while it is true that Sakyamuni Buddha taught contemplative
        methods, one _very important_ thing taught by him was to avoid
        attachment. In fact, I would tend to think that avoiding attachment
        is more significant than a 'sideshow issue' such as ecstatic
        states of consciousness. If I, in my practice, were to constantly
        seek out experiences that led to such things, it would be my
        opinion that it would be a total betrayal of my practice because of
        this point. It would predispose me to seeking experiences that
        were of this specific quality...rather than the total experience of
        life itself, irrespective of how ecstatic or mundane my life
        experience would be.

        If the ultimate goal of Buddha Dharma is to point out the way to
        reach the true, actual self...then this is a true, actual self that
        must occupy this mundane world in which we exist today, here
        and now. To pursue actions which sought to do this through an
        avoidance....deliberate or accidental...of this actual world would
        be akin to believing one could build a house with only a hammer.
        This is the trap of attachment, in this case to a certain tool, but it
        is not dissimilar to attachment to any other 'tools', either physical
        or metaphysical.

        There is, to be sure, contemplative practice in Jodo Shinshu. But
        it is ONE practice, and certainly an adjunct practice to the
        experience of Buddha Dharma in the course of life itself. Seeking
        to experience Dharma in the course of ones' own existance is
        the goal of much of the teaching in this sect...not submergence
        in a set of proscribed actions or methods that takes one away
        from the life experience.

        Namoamidabutsu,
        DAC
      • Richard St. Clair
        ... Actually, Jeff, Japanese Pure Land Buddhism veered away from contemplative practices beginning with Honen, who reputedly achieved all the 13 contemplations
        Message 3 of 23 , Dec 10, 2003
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          >Hello Peter, thank-you for your kind interest. many apologies for my
          >late response, I've been busy responding to inquiries regarding my
          >biography.
          >
          >What brings me to your list is your interest in Buddhism. I assume
          >anyone interested in Buddhism has studied some of the teachings of the
          >Buddha. And, since he was a contemplative, and he taught
          >contemplative practices, then I assumed the members of your list are
          >also contemplative, and would therefor value hearing about the journey
          >of a Buddhist contemplative. And, in hearing about my journey, maybe
          >some of your members might have had similar experiences and would like
          >a friendly and supportive person and place to share and discuss those
          >experiences.
          >
          >Best regards,
          >
          >Jeff Brooks

          Actually, Jeff, Japanese Pure Land Buddhism veered away from
          contemplative practices beginning with Honen, who reputedly achieved
          all the 13 contemplations in the Meditation Sutra (Kan Muryoju
          Ching). However, Honen rejected these contemplative practices as
          beyond the ability of most people, and settled on the Nembutsu
          (recitation of the Name) as the sole practice of his new sect. I
          don't believe Shinran had much of anything to say about
          contemplation. His emphasis, as I'm sure you know, was that the
          saying of the Nembutsu was but an act of gratitude to Amida for the
          assurance of birth in the Pure Land.

          In a separate message you quoted a portion of Digha Nikaya 29.
          Although this would seem inspirational, it is tied to what we call
          self-power practices, as is the Theravada tradition in general (I
          don't want to stri up a hornet's nest in saying this, so I will not
          respond to any flaming). It is a bit risky to take Pali suttas out
          of context to support one's personal views. I have done it, and for
          me it has ended up being a dead end - I keep coming back to the Pure
          Land Sutras of the Mahayana canon and, of course, the writings of
          Shinran. I am not advising you as to what to read or do, just
          stating where I am at.

          I don't relate to contemplation. It strikes me as being a self-power
          practice, though I can concede that it not be so with all people,
          depending on innate personalities, capacities and inclinations. If
          pressed as to whether it is a viable pureland practice, I would
          probably advise against it, but no one is pressing me. So I'll let it
          rest at that.

          But I just wanted to emphasize that contemplation is not usually
          associated with Jodo Shinshu (or Jodo Shu for that matter). It is
          not forbidden by either, of course, so do as you wish.

          in gassho,
          Rick
          --
        • macdocaz1@aol.com
          Hello DAC, it seems you neglected to provide canonical support for your beliefs. At least I provided canonical support for mine Best regards, Jeff Brooks
          Message 4 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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            Hello DAC, it seems you neglected to provide canonical support for
            your beliefs. At least I provided canonical support for mine

            Best regards,

            Jeff Brooks

            --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "DAC Crowell" <dacc@s...> wrote:
            > --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey S. Brooks"
            > <macdocaz1@a...> wrote:
            > >And, in hearing about my journey, maybe some of your
            > >members might have had similar experiences and would like
            > >a friendly and supportive person and place to share and
            > >discuss those experiences.
            >
            > Well, I in fact have experienced some of these things. I try to pay
            > as little attention to them as possible.
            >
            > Ecstatic experience, like any other thing, can lead to attachment.
            > And while it is true that Sakyamuni Buddha taught contemplative
            > methods, one _very important_ thing taught by him was to avoid
            > attachment. In fact, I would tend to think that avoiding attachment
            > is more significant than a 'sideshow issue' such as ecstatic
            > states of consciousness. If I, in my practice, were to constantly
            > seek out experiences that led to such things, it would be my
            > opinion that it would be a total betrayal of my practice because of
            > this point. It would predispose me to seeking experiences that
            > were of this specific quality...rather than the total experience of
            > life itself, irrespective of how ecstatic or mundane my life
            > experience would be.
            >
            > If the ultimate goal of Buddha Dharma is to point out the way to
            > reach the true, actual self...then this is a true, actual self that
            > must occupy this mundane world in which we exist today, here
            > and now. To pursue actions which sought to do this through an
            > avoidance....deliberate or accidental...of this actual world would
            > be akin to believing one could build a house with only a hammer.
            > This is the trap of attachment, in this case to a certain tool, but it
            > is not dissimilar to attachment to any other 'tools', either physical
            > or metaphysical.
            >
            > There is, to be sure, contemplative practice in Jodo Shinshu. But
            > it is ONE practice, and certainly an adjunct practice to the
            > experience of Buddha Dharma in the course of life itself. Seeking
            > to experience Dharma in the course of ones' own existance is
            > the goal of much of the teaching in this sect...not submergence
            > in a set of proscribed actions or methods that takes one away
            > from the life experience.
            >
            > Namoamidabutsu,
            > DAC
          • macdocaz1@aol.com
            Hello Rick, it seems since the Buddha was a contemplative and your sect is desidedly not, that it seems worthy of questioning whether your sect is Buddhist or
            Message 5 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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              Hello Rick, it seems since the Buddha was a contemplative and your
              sect is desidedly not, that it seems worthy of questioning whether
              your sect is Buddhist or not.

              Additionally, my biography here clearly indicates your progenitor,
              Honen, is quite wrong when he said, "contemplative practices as beyond
              the ability of most people," because I am just a common man and yet I
              have had some small success in my contemplative practice that has lead
              to a freedom form suffering in the here and now, not a faith in a
              future pure land who's existence is questionable. Don't you think?

              Best regards,

              Jeff Brooks

              --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Richard St. Clair" <stclair@m...> wrote:
              > >Hello Peter, thank-you for your kind interest. many apologies for my
              > >late response, I've been busy responding to inquiries regarding my
              > >biography.
              > >
              > >What brings me to your list is your interest in Buddhism. I assume
              > >anyone interested in Buddhism has studied some of the teachings of the
              > >Buddha. And, since he was a contemplative, and he taught
              > >contemplative practices, then I assumed the members of your list are
              > >also contemplative, and would therefor value hearing about the journey
              > >of a Buddhist contemplative. And, in hearing about my journey, maybe
              > >some of your members might have had similar experiences and would like
              > >a friendly and supportive person and place to share and discuss those
              > >experiences.
              > >
              > >Best regards,
              > >
              > >Jeff Brooks
              >
              > Actually, Jeff, Japanese Pure Land Buddhism veered away from
              > contemplative practices beginning with Honen, who reputedly achieved
              > all the 13 contemplations in the Meditation Sutra (Kan Muryoju
              > Ching). However, Honen rejected these contemplative practices as
              > beyond the ability of most people, and settled on the Nembutsu
              > (recitation of the Name) as the sole practice of his new sect. I
              > don't believe Shinran had much of anything to say about
              > contemplation. His emphasis, as I'm sure you know, was that the
              > saying of the Nembutsu was but an act of gratitude to Amida for the
              > assurance of birth in the Pure Land.
              >
              > In a separate message you quoted a portion of Digha Nikaya 29.
              > Although this would seem inspirational, it is tied to what we call
              > self-power practices, as is the Theravada tradition in general (I
              > don't want to stri up a hornet's nest in saying this, so I will not
              > respond to any flaming). It is a bit risky to take Pali suttas out
              > of context to support one's personal views. I have done it, and for
              > me it has ended up being a dead end - I keep coming back to the Pure
              > Land Sutras of the Mahayana canon and, of course, the writings of
              > Shinran. I am not advising you as to what to read or do, just
              > stating where I am at.
              >
              > I don't relate to contemplation. It strikes me as being a self-power
              > practice, though I can concede that it not be so with all people,
              > depending on innate personalities, capacities and inclinations. If
              > pressed as to whether it is a viable pureland practice, I would
              > probably advise against it, but no one is pressing me. So I'll let it
              > rest at that.
              >
              > But I just wanted to emphasize that contemplation is not usually
              > associated with Jodo Shinshu (or Jodo Shu for that matter). It is
              > not forbidden by either, of course, so do as you wish.
              >
              > in gassho,
              > Rick
              > --
            • Richard St. Clair
              ... Hi, Jeff, Well, I guess it all depends on how you define contemplative. If you read writings by prominent Shin Buddhists you will, I m sure, detect a
              Message 6 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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                >Hello Rick, it seems since the Buddha was a contemplative and your
                >sect is desidedly not, that it seems worthy of questioning whether
                >your sect is Buddhist or not.
                >
                >Additionally, my biography here clearly indicates your progenitor,
                >Honen, is quite wrong when he said, "contemplative practices as beyond
                >the ability of most people," because I am just a common man and yet I
                >have had some small success in my contemplative practice that has lead
                >to a freedom form suffering in the here and now, not a faith in a
                >future pure land who's existence is questionable. Don't you think?
                >
                >Best regards,
                >
                >Jeff Brooks

                Hi, Jeff,
                Well, I guess it all depends on how you define "contemplative." If you read
                writings by prominent Shin Buddhists you will, I'm sure, detect a strongly
                contemplative tone. Some good examples would be the writings ofShinran,
                or poems of Saichi. Shin Buddhism is also called "deep hearing" or monpo,
                which is a contemplation of reality-as-it-is (tathata). This is very much
                in line with the central import of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings. If
                you mean, by "contemplation," a set of exercises to attain specific states
                defined canonically, no, Shin is not contemplative, but I think that states
                the case much too narrowly.

                There is one point I wish to dispute - Honen was referring to the structured
                contemplations in the so-called Contemplation Sutra (Kan Muryoju Kyo).
                In it there are 13 contemplations consisting of visualizations of the Pure
                Land, attributes of the Amida Buddha, and so on. I would strongly
                question (as did Honen) whether most people could achieve these very
                complex visualizations. Honen said it took him many years to achieve
                them, and he was an extraordinary person. I tried the first and found it
                impossible. The other 12 were out of the question. Have you tried them?

                As to what you call the "questionable" future pure land, it is the pure land of
                the here and now that I am interested in, and that is through simple
                trust in Amida Buddha's Primal Vow. I realize many people have a problem
                with this. That is fine. The Nembutsu way may not be for everyone, at
                least not in this round of births. I wish the very best to you in your
                practice, whatever that is and wherever it takes you.

                best,
                in gassho,
                Rick
                (Shaku Egen)
                --
                Richard St. Clair
                Office Assistant
                Information Services & Technology
                W92-110
                tel.: 617 - 253-1514
                fax: 617 - 258-8736
              • Jim
                Jeff, On needs to keep in mind that the comman man of Honen/Shinran s time was a peasant who worked long backbreaking hours in the fields. Lived in a society
                Message 7 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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                  Jeff,

                  On needs to keep in mind that the "comman man" of
                  Honen/Shinran's time was a peasant who worked long
                  backbreaking hours in the fields. Lived in a society
                  where death could come suddenly and unexpected.
                  Leisure was a luxury for the aristocratic/warrior
                  castes.

                  I relly dont think many commoners in the West (outside
                  of illegal sweatshop workers) would be the equal to
                  the commoner of the 13th century

                  in gassho,

                  =====
                  Jim Davis
                  Ozark Bioregion, USA

                  "The great are great only because we are on our knees. Let us rise! "(Max Stirner).
                  "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws" - Tacitus

                  "Waking up After a Night on the Town With the Mead of Inspiration & Eros Insurgent"
                  http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?&isbn=0-595-18213-5

                  __________________________________
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                  New Yahoo! Photos - easier uploading and sharing.
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                • Richard St. Clair
                  That s a good point, Jim. But the common person of our own time is also burdened by a plethora of time-and-energy-consuming obligations and distractions -
                  Message 8 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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                    That's a good point, Jim. But the "common person" of our own time is
                    also burdened by a plethora of time-and-energy-consuming obligations
                    and distractions - think of raising a family while keeping a full
                    time job in a society as complex as ours. Our life may be easier in
                    terms of healthcare and shorter work hours (compared to medieval
                    times), but somehow there just aren't enough hours in the day to do
                    what we really want to do, including practicing the Buddhadharma.
                    This is why I think the Nembutsu path is perfectly suited for our
                    time, whether we call it "mappo" or not :) .
                    gassho,
                    Rick
                    (Shaku Egen)

                    >Jeff,
                    >
                    >On needs to keep in mind that the "comman man" of
                    >Honen/Shinran's time was a peasant who worked long
                    >backbreaking hours in the fields. Lived in a society
                    >where death could come suddenly and unexpected.
                    >Leisure was a luxury for the aristocratic/warrior
                    >castes.
                    >
                    >I relly dont think many commoners in the West (outside
                    >of illegal sweatshop workers) would be the equal to
                    >the commoner of the 13th century
                    >
                    >in gassho,
                    >
                    >=====
                    >Jim Davis
                    >Ozark Bioregion, USA
                  • dacc@soltec.net
                    ... And I don t have to. To constantly have to turn to the Tripitaka in order to justify my actions is yet another form of attachment. Or worse still, the
                    Message 9 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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                      --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, macdocaz1@a... wrote:
                      > Hello DAC, it seems you neglected to provide canonical
                      >support for your beliefs. At least I provided canonical support
                      >for mine.

                      And I don't have to. To constantly have to turn to the Tripitaka in
                      order to justify my actions is yet another form of attachment. Or
                      worse still, the insistance that I must do so borders on
                      demagoguery.

                      The only 'canonical support' that I require is Nembutsu: "I place
                      my trust in the Buddha of Infinite Wisdom and Compassion". And
                      in Shin, that is _all_ that is required in belief. Oh, suuuuure...I
                      could drag out all sorts of books and citations of various writings
                      in this faith and engage in what would likely be a wondrous
                      scholarly flourish worthy of my years in graduate and
                      postgraduate study and so on. But I don't need to. It's not called
                      for.

                      The practices you seem so enamoured of are not part of the
                      demands of Shin Buddhism, plain and simple. This is why
                      you're seeing a fairly unilateral disagreement with your stance
                      here. Perhaps you may not think this is Buddhism, if we don't do
                      these things you insist are part of Buddhism. And that's fine...it
                      would not be the first time that someone has tried to assert this.
                      But at the same time, people who asserted their belief in
                      Nembutsu in the first couple of centuries or so of this sect were
                      also subject to a lot of persecution and personal threat because
                      other sects of that day attempted to assert that only their beliefs
                      were 'correct', and the Shin Buddhists of that time held fast to
                      this same faith...so it should not come as a surprise to you if
                      there would be some considerable difficulty in convincing people
                      in this group that they should accept some wholly-different path
                      of practice. That didn't work in Shinran's time and under much
                      direr conditions, and it's not likely to work here and now.

                      Before replying further, I strongly suggest that you read
                      something which clearly explains what Shin Buddhism is about.
                      We are certainly not part of any 'path of Arhats', nor do we believe
                      that self-power practice...especially any such practice that
                      reaches a degree of rigor where it begins to obliterate ones' own
                      day to day, routine life...is anything which will bring merit or
                      enlightenment. If you prefer 'canonical support', then I would
                      suggest the _Tannisho_, although there are certainly books of
                      recent scholarship which explain matters just as succinctly such
                      as Dr. Ken Tanaka's _Ocean_ or Dr. Taitetsu Unno's _River of
                      Fire, River of Water_. You may find these writings to be rather
                      eye-opening with respect to this discussion and also this
                      discussion group.

                      Namuamidabutsu,
                      DAC.
                    • dacc@soltec.net
                      ... Precisely. Right now, I sit here surrounded by all sorts of time-saving devices, in a sturdy house with central heat against the cold of Winter, with a
                      Message 10 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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                        --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Richard St. Clair"
                        <stclair@m...> wrote:
                        >...the "common person" of our own time is also burdened by a
                        >plethora of time-and-energy-consuming obligations and
                        >distractions - think of raising a family while keeping a full time
                        >job in a society as complex as ours. Our life may be easier in
                        >terms of healthcare and shorter work hours (compared to
                        >medieval times), but somehow there just aren't enough hours
                        >in the day to do what we really want to do, including practicing
                        >the Buddhadharma.

                        Precisely. Right now, I sit here surrounded by all sorts of
                        'time-saving' devices, in a sturdy house with central heat against
                        the cold of Winter, with a car in the driveway which can take me
                        whereever I need to go, and all the food I need safely kept in
                        refrigeration and cans. Is this any easier than, say, 13th century
                        Japan? Perhaps in terms of comfort level, sure. But in terms of
                        the demands placed upon me by the course of living my own
                        life...no, this doesn't seem to change, irrespective of how cushy
                        things get. Work might get easier, but outside of it there are other
                        things which have crept into our lives, and which take their own
                        parts of our time and energy.

                        Jodo Shinshu was conceived as a 'Buddhism for Joe Average',
                        I'm fond of saying. And it's just as valid for the Joe Averages of
                        the 13th C. as it is for those of the 21st C. The demands on our
                        lives as well as the worth of the Tathagata's teachings...neither
                        seem to change, no matter what the appearance of things might
                        be. And for that unchanging nature of those teachings, I am quite
                        grateful!

                        Namuamidabutsu,
                        DAC.
                      • robertg@dnai.com
                        At our temple we often talk about what causes a person to be ready to listen to the Dharma. For many it takes a profound event like the death of a relative or
                        Message 11 of 23 , Dec 16, 2003
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                          At our temple we often talk about what causes a person
                          to be ready to listen to the Dharma. For many it takes a
                          profound event like the death of a relative or close
                          friend. A lot of people in modern America lead comfortable
                          lives and may not see a need to go to the temple.

                          However, the comforts are within a framework that is
                          based on gratifying the ego-centered self. For the past
                          few years in Japan, suicide has claimed more lives than
                          traffic accidents. These suicides are most often the result
                          of economic misfortunes such as losing a job.

                          I have been thinking about the future of Jodo Shinshu in
                          the United States and will share some of my thoughts in a
                          future posting.

                          Robert

                          --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, dacc@s... wrote:
                          > --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Richard St. Clair" <stclair@m...> wrote:
                          > >...the "common person" of our own time is also burdened by a
                          > >plethora of time-and-energy-consuming obligations and
                          > >distractions - think of raising a family while keeping a full time
                          > >job in a society as complex as ours. Our life may be easier in
                          > >terms of healthcare and shorter work hours (compared to
                          > >medieval times), but somehow there just aren't enough hours
                          > >in the day to do what we really want to do, including practicing
                          > >the Buddhadharma.
                          >
                          > Precisely. Right now, I sit here surrounded by all sorts of
                          > 'time-saving' devices, in a sturdy house with central heat against
                          > the cold of Winter, with a car in the driveway which can take me
                          > whereever I need to go, and all the food I need safely kept in
                          > refrigeration and cans. Is this any easier than, say, 13th century
                          > Japan? Perhaps in terms of comfort level, sure. But in terms of
                          > the demands placed upon me by the course of living my own
                          > life...no, this doesn't seem to change, irrespective of how cushy
                          > things get. Work might get easier, but outside of it there are other
                          > things which have crept into our lives, and which take their own
                          > parts of our time and energy.
                        • Richard St. Clair
                          ... Food for thought, Robert. I got into Buddhism as an offshoot from psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. I needn t (and won t) dwell on the
                          Message 12 of 23 , Dec 17, 2003
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                            >At our temple we often talk about what causes a person
                            >to be ready to listen to the Dharma. For many it takes a
                            >profound event like the death of a relative or close
                            >friend. A lot of people in modern America lead comfortable
                            >lives and may not see a need to go to the temple.
                            >
                            >However, the comforts are within a framework that is
                            >based on gratifying the ego-centered self. For the past
                            >few years in Japan, suicide has claimed more lives than
                            >traffic accidents. These suicides are most often the result
                            >of economic misfortunes such as losing a job.
                            >
                            >I have been thinking about the future of Jodo Shinshu in
                            >the United States and will share some of my thoughts in a
                            >future posting.
                            >
                            >Robert

                            Food for thought, Robert. I got into Buddhism as an offshoot
                            from psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. I needn't
                            (and won't) dwell on the details, but Buddhism gave a meaning to
                            my life that nothing else had, including probably the best
                            psychotherapy available.

                            You are probably right that comfort-seeking is "based on
                            gratifying the ego-centered self." I would add that, for many
                            new converts to Buddhism, this is also the case, i.e. seeking the
                            Dharma as a way, however subtle, of gratifying the ego-centered
                            self. Such gratification-seeking is part of our human nature as
                            bombu (foolish beings). Fortunately, Amida Buddha does not
                            discriminate whether we are wise or foolish, or whether we are
                            selfless or self-grasping. With (and in) Amida, the Dharma
                            Gates are thrown wide open.

                            Namu Amida Butsu

                            gassho,
                            Rick
                            (Shaku Egen)
                          • Richard St. Clair
                            ... Hi, DAC, There *is* canonical support for the Nembutsu way, of course. It is the 18th vow (Primal Vow) in the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Larger
                            Message 13 of 23 , Dec 17, 2003
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                              >--- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, macdocaz1@a... wrote:
                              >> Hello DAC, it seems you neglected to provide canonical
                              >>support for your beliefs. At least I provided canonical support
                              >>for mine.
                              >
                              >And I don't have to. To constantly have to turn to the Tripitaka in
                              >order to justify my actions is yet another form of attachment. Or
                              >worse still, the insistance that I must do so borders on
                              >demagoguery.
                              >
                              >The only 'canonical support' that I require is Nembutsu: "I place
                              >my trust in the Buddha of Infinite Wisdom and Compassion". And
                              >in Shin, that is _all_ that is required in belief. Oh, suuuuure...I
                              >could drag out all sorts of books and citations of various writings
                              >in this faith and engage in what would likely be a wondrous
                              >scholarly flourish worthy of my years in graduate and
                              >postgraduate study and so on. But I don't need to. It's not called
                              >for.

                              Hi, DAC,
                              There *is* canonical support for the Nembutsu way, of course. It is
                              the 18th vow (Primal Vow) in the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite
                              Life (Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra). Nembutsu literally means
                              "mindful of buddha" (Nem + Butsu), and it has a counterpart in
                              the Theravada tradition known as the buddhanusmirti practice of
                              mindfulness of the Buddha. It is one of many Theravadin practices
                              designed to instill concentration and mindfulness. Naturally, the
                              Nembutsu practice of Shin evolved quite differently from the
                              Theravada practices, but so did the whole Mahayana of which Shin is
                              a part. It is part of the very nature of Buddhism to adapt to different
                              cultures and eras. Some people feel almost a fundamentalist loyalty
                              to the Theravada, insisting that it is the only "true" teaching of the
                              historical Buddha. But even the Theravada opens the door to the
                              emergence and development of the Mahayana. All of this can be
                              supported canonically, but I am not a Buddhist scholar and will not
                              pretend to be one.

                              in gassho,
                              Rick
                              (Shaku Egen)
                            • dacc@soltec.net
                              ... Of course. But I m not going to get into a canonical pissing contest here. Partly because I don t see the point in going to the effort to explain matters
                              Message 14 of 23 , Dec 17, 2003
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                                --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Richard St. Clair"
                                <stclair@m...> wrote:
                                >There *is* canonical support for the Nembutsu way, of course.
                                >It is the 18th vow (Primal Vow) in the Sutra on the Buddha of
                                >Infinite Life (Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra).

                                Of course. But I'm not going to get into a canonical 'pissing
                                contest' here. Partly because I don't see the point in going to the
                                effort to explain matters canonically in a circumstance where I
                                feel the effort isn't warranted, and also partly because at the
                                fundament of this argument is the point that this is a 'Buddhism
                                for the common man' and having to drag around a lot of scholarly
                                baggage in order to justify my faith in Nembutsu seems to be
                                overkill. I know the referential points _are there_...but if I
                                approach Shin on the basis of an ordinary person, they're not
                                something that should impact my feelings on the subject.

                                It's all well and good to throw loads of references around, and to
                                delve into the deeper meanings and contexts and what-not...but
                                I've found over the years that if you dive too deep into such levels
                                of study, you risk losing the meaning that such teachings have
                                for the everyday person. And Shinjin is, from all I've come to
                                learn, a faith or entrusting that doesn't imply that you must know
                                and/or be able to cite _everything_. It wasn't a prerequisite in
                                Shinran's time, and it's not one now. Of course, scholarship isn't
                                a bad thing, conversely...but like anything, it's possible to put too
                                much of something into the mix and unbalance matters; a little
                                salt makes the soup taste good, but a whole boxful, well...
                              • Shin02143@aol.com
                                In a message dated 12/17/03 4:50:44 PM, dacc@soltec.net writes:
                                Message 15 of 23 , Dec 17, 2003
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                                  In a message dated 12/17/03 4:50:44 PM, dacc@... writes:

                                  << --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Richard St. Clair"

                                  <stclair@m...> wrote:

                                  >There *is* canonical support for the Nembutsu way, of course.

                                  >It is the 18th vow (Primal Vow) in the Sutra on the Buddha of

                                  >Infinite Life (Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra).


                                  Of course. But I'm not going to get into a canonical 'pissing

                                  contest' here. Partly because I don't see the point in going to the

                                  effort to explain matters canonically in a circumstance where I

                                  feel the effort isn't warranted, and also partly because at the

                                  fundament of this argument is the point that this is a 'Buddhism

                                  for the common man' and having to drag around a lot of scholarly

                                  baggage in order to justify my faith in Nembutsu seems to be

                                  overkill. I know the referential points _are there_...but if I

                                  approach Shin on the basis of an ordinary person, they're not

                                  something that should impact my feelings on the subject.


                                  It's all well and good to throw loads of references around, and to

                                  delve into the deeper meanings and contexts and what-not...but

                                  I've found over the years that if you dive too deep into such levels

                                  of study, you risk losing the meaning that such teachings have

                                  for the everyday person. And Shinjin is, from all I've come to

                                  learn, a faith or entrusting that doesn't imply that you must know

                                  and/or be able to cite _everything_. It wasn't a prerequisite in

                                  Shinran's time, and it's not one now. Of course, scholarship isn't

                                  a bad thing, conversely...but like anything, it's possible to put too

                                  much of something into the mix and unbalance matters; a little

                                  salt makes the soup taste good, but a whole boxful, well... >>

                                  I AGREE COMPLETELY!!

                                  gassho,
                                  Rick
                                  (Shaku Egen)
                                • Robert Garvey
                                  I concur wholeheartedly with Richard and Rick on this. ... These days, however, people seem to engage in learning to put a stop to criticism by others, making
                                  Message 16 of 23 , Dec 21, 2003
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                                    I concur wholeheartedly with Richard and Rick on this.

                                    --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, Shin02143@a... wrote:
                                    >
                                    > In a message dated 12/17/03 4:50:44 PM, dacc@s... writes:
                                    >
                                    > . . . I'm not going to get into a canonical 'pissing
                                    > contest' here. Partly because I don't see the point in
                                    > going to the effort to explain matters canonically in
                                    > a circumstance where I feel the effort isn't warranted . . .

                                    "These days, however, people seem to engage in learning to put
                                    a stop to criticism by others, making ready to devote themselves
                                    wholly to debate and argument. If one studies, more and more
                                    one realizes Amida's fundamental intent and grows in awareness
                                    of the immensity of the compassionate Vow, so that one can
                                    explain, to those who anxiously wonder how birth is possible for
                                    wretched people like themsleves, that the Primal Vow does not
                                    discriminate whether one's mind is good or evil, pure or defiled.
                                    Only then is there meaning in being a scholar."

                                    Tannisho, chapter 12
                                    Shin Buddhism Translation Series
                                    Hongwanji International Center
                                  • Doreen Kamada-Fujii
                                    ... other ... I agree, DAC. It s sort of a paradox how life can be so much `easier today as compared to in Shinran s time…one would think that there would
                                    Message 17 of 23 , Jan 12, 2004
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                                      --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, dacc@s... wrote:
                                      > --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, "Richard St. Clair"
                                      > <stclair@m...> wrote:
                                      > >...the "common person" of our own time is also burdened by a
                                      > >plethora of time-and-energy-consuming obligations and
                                      > >distractions - think of raising a family while keeping a full time
                                      > >job in a society as complex as ours. Our life may be easier in
                                      > >terms of healthcare and shorter work hours (compared to
                                      > >medieval times), but somehow there just aren't enough hours
                                      > >in the day to do what we really want to do, including practicing
                                      > >the Buddhadharma.
                                      >
                                      > Precisely. Right now, I sit here surrounded by all sorts of
                                      > 'time-saving' devices, in a sturdy house with central heat against
                                      > the cold of Winter, with a car in the driveway which can take me
                                      > whereever I need to go, and all the food I need safely kept in
                                      > refrigeration and cans. Is this any easier than, say, 13th century
                                      > Japan? Perhaps in terms of comfort level, sure. But in terms of
                                      > the demands placed upon me by the course of living my own
                                      > life...no, this doesn't seem to change, irrespective of how cushy
                                      > things get. Work might get easier, but outside of it there are
                                      other
                                      > things which have crept into our lives, and which take their own
                                      > parts of our time and energy.
                                      >
                                      > Jodo Shinshu was conceived as a 'Buddhism for Joe Average',
                                      > I'm fond of saying. And it's just as valid for the Joe Averages of
                                      > the 13th C. as it is for those of the 21st C. The demands on our
                                      > lives as well as the worth of the Tathagata's teachings...neither
                                      > seem to change, no matter what the appearance of things might
                                      > be. And for that unchanging nature of those teachings, I am quite
                                      > grateful!
                                      >
                                      I agree, DAC. It's sort of a paradox how life can be so
                                      much `easier' today as compared to in Shinran's time…one would think
                                      that there would be even MORE time to study or contemplate the
                                      Dharma. But sadly, it seems to be just the opposite: there are even
                                      MORE things to distract a `householder'. Less silence,
                                      less `mindless' work which must be done, etc…

                                      I was reading a little book, "Thus I Have Heard", by Rinban Kosho
                                      Yukawa recently…it's a collection of dharma talks/stories he'd heard
                                      over the years and enjoyed. The following one especially rang a bell
                                      with me when I read it because of the above discussion about life
                                      supposedly being `easier' these days… when actually, it seems to
                                      be `easier' to forget and NOT to be mindful things like where the
                                      food we eat comes from since we ourselves are not having to actually
                                      take that life in order to eat, as one who had to fish, hunt, farm to
                                      survive did…
                                      ……
                                      Kansha—Gratitude (from "Thus I Have Heard", Rinban Kosho Yukawa)

                                      The word gratitude in Japanese is commonly translated as _kansha_.
                                      It consists of two characters, _kan_ and _sha_. _Kan_ means "sense"
                                      or "feel" and _sha_ means "to be sorry" or "to apologize,". It is
                                      interesting that the meaning of "feeling sorry" is a part of
                                      gratitude in Japanese.

                                      Buddha-dharma teaches us the interdependence of all existence.
                                      Nothing exists by itself. We, especially as human beings, must
                                      depend on countless numbers of things in order to live each day and
                                      each moment.

                                      For example, in one of his lectures, Rev. Tetsuo Unno mentioned the
                                      following statistics in terms of how much meat an average American
                                      eats in his lifetime of about 75 to 80 years: 12 cows, 29 pigs, 27
                                      turkeys, 984 chickens, 2 sheep and 910 pounds of fish. I was stunned
                                      when I heard this and at the same time realized how many lives I had
                                      taken and will be taking during my lifetime. Although I do not
                                      personally take the lives of animals with my hands, I am demanding
                                      the sacrifice of their lives so that I can live this life.

                                      In Buddha-dharma, nothing is created for another to take for one's
                                      benefit. A life is a life, regardless of what form it is and just as
                                      precious as our own life. I am sure a cow is not willingly
                                      sacrificing its life for me. But in order for me to live my life, I,
                                      either directly or indirectly, take the lives of those mentioned
                                      above. And, I am "sorry" that I must continue to take the lives of
                                      others for me to live.

                                      The true spirit of gratitude is to feel the compassionate acts of
                                      others and express our deep "sorryness" to have to sacrifice many
                                      things.

                                      The Nembutsu and Gassho express the true spirit of _kansha_.
                                      ……

                                      gassho,
                                      Doreen/Shaku ni Myo Jun
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