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  •  Too bad you didn't get the underlying point, (18+ / 0-)

    that suffering from the lack of these or any other things is caused not by the lack of them, but by the desire for them, and the solution lies in losing your desire for ass this stuff and going without it.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu May 02, 2013 at 11:24:47 AM PDT

    •  s/b "for *all* this stuff" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MeToo, 88kathy, 84thProblem

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Thu May 02, 2013 at 11:26:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, I think I get this (5+ / 0-)

      I understand that the suffering is born of the wanting for things to be other than how they are, but there is a dangerous side to this. We can stop feeling bad about these little things we can't have, but what about the big things that really should be changed, not because of wanting, but because of empathy for the horrible suffering to come - and that exists now for far too many? Acceptance can breed complacency and a larger view of uncaring.

      The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

      by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 11:38:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To the extent that compassion, empathy and (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MeToo, 84thProblem, oceanview

        charity equate with desires, those are the last one should lose, after losing all of ones "personal" desires, presumably starting with the most petty. Bodhissatvas, of course, wind up being totally "all" or "other" directed.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Thu May 02, 2013 at 12:22:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But one should lose them (4+ / 0-)

          That's the problem. Buddhism, and especially California Buddhism, comes from a very privileged place and it's things like this that make that clear. It's rise is based on escapism.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:56:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Buddhism is by its very nature intently individual (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MeToo, enhydra lutris, Creosote

            That is why there are so many innumerable varieties of it. Any viewpoint that centers itself on the individual MUST adapt itself to each individual's needs at the moment. So the proper question is not "is this tradition right?", but "Is this tradition right FOR ME?"

          •  I am sorry (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            eparrot, enhydra lutris

            how much meditation have you actually done?  Because this characterization is quite wide of the mark.  I am curious where your understanding comes from

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:49:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  There is not much Venn diagrammatic overlap (4+ / 0-)

            between Buddhism and California Buddhism.

            Come on, here on DK most of us know the difference between flaky or destructive Christian sects and their mother religion, and so with Islam.  Why isn't this distinction obvious for Buddhism too?

            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

            by dackmont on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:50:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it really isn't (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              enhydra lutris

              I am thinking that this notion of "California buddhism" is a bit strange.  I'd love some insight here.  

              Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

              by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 05:15:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Right speech - something I did not do there (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mindful Nature, AoT

                Sorry, that was a sloppy choice of words on my part, and one that (as you suggested below) could be read as dissing perfectly good groups & teachers in California.  I was using the term as shorthand in the sense that others in this thread have used it, with a couple extra wrinkles:  New-Agey Buddhism, superstitious, hierarchical, overly focused on charismatic teachers, and focusing on peripheral rather than basic issues (per diary) -- e.g. getting bogged down in semantic debates (like "isn't ANY kind of desire bad?") that are about as useful as wondering how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.  Granted, those tendencies always pop up (it's human nature imo), but the flaky strain I meant by "California Buddhism" is a particular product of NEw Age-ish thinking that is muddled and self-absorbed. An especially absurd example would be that late Frederick Lenz, a.k.a. "Zen Master Rama", who taught something he called "tantric zen" that bore only the most superficial resemblance to the Buddhism that Rahula, Thich Nhat Hanh and others espouse.

                "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                by dackmont on Thu May 02, 2013 at 09:24:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  thanks! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dackmont

                  I hadn't encountered that specific strain, but it doesn't surprise me one jot that such a thing would exist and be fairly widespread.  I guess I got lucky in my sources even though I live in hippy central Bay Area

                  Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                  by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 09:28:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, the angels question is valid. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AoT

                  Do angels exist in the physical world in such a way that a given angel has sole occupancy of a closed area of space-time?  

                  If X is the set of angels and U is the set of angel locations during a given moment of time that is perceived as precisely 2013 GMT on 3 May 2013 in Pope Francis' apartment, can the mapping of X to U be considered a function, i.e., can one angel occupy two places in space-time that cannot be connected by a path that at no point is considered "outside" the angel?

                  It should be noted that there are Buddhist traditions that ask questions that are silly on their face, but are used to develop insight into Buddhist teaching.  Among such questions are the ko-ans.

                  ------------------------------------------

                  A "Buddhism" that at no point conflicts with the comforts and prejudices of its practitioners is well within the realm of possibility.  A rather monstrous example of same is developing in Burma, where Buddhist monasteries have taken on a role analogous to the madrassahs in Pakistan -- a place of nominal refuge for boys where in some cases they learn to be "holy warriors".  The shortcomings of "California Buddhism" do not appear as grave.

                  Conversely, the Dalai Lama's strain of Tibetan Buddhism appears to be emerging from the Chinese persecutions stronger and purer than it was when the Dalai Lama was in his palace.  

                  "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

                  by Yamaneko2 on Fri May 03, 2013 at 01:28:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Valid in what sense? (0+ / 0-)

                    Sure, the angels question can be posed in a logical way, as you have done, but it's not testable.  Nor is it likely to be relevant, although I agree it might be used in a koanic way.

                    "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                    by dackmont on Fri May 03, 2013 at 06:07:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  and (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            84thProblem, dackmont, enhydra lutris

            you do realize that it actually is rooted in the renunciation of privilege, right?  I'd take another look at the life or Mr. Gautama, perhaps.

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:53:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Renouncing privilege requires privilege (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              enhydra lutris, marina

              in the first place. And really, I don't know any buddhists that have denounced privilege. Sure, some live a little more simply, but really without abandoning you regular life and family you aren't renouncing privilege.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Thu May 02, 2013 at 05:39:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But I suppose (0+ / 0-)

                this is equally true of every religion, and in fact all people.  This has to be the first time I've heard someone refer to having a family as being privileged.  It is a quite novel definition.

                However, you evidently have never met any monks or nuns or any other such teachers.  I wonder how many buddhists you have in fact met?

                Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 06:56:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I've met many buddhists (0+ / 0-)

                  I live in the bay area, I know more Buddhists than I do Christians. And the Buddha gave up his position including leaving his family. As have millions of monks and nuns throughout the history of the religion. And I didn't define privilege as having a family but you'd certainly agree that one's family is where a lot of one's privilege comes from, would you not?

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Thu May 02, 2013 at 07:55:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  that doesn't really get at it (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    AoT

                    privilege comes from all kinds of places, including family, culture, economics, institutions and so forth.  That is all true, but it still doesn't explain this odd assertion that buddhism comes from a privileged place.  It seems that engaging in an honest practice to cultivate compassion isn't particularly a privileged notion.  Doesn't make sense to me.

                    Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                    by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:57:00 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It was created by a prince (0+ / 0-)

                      And spread by merchants. It's hard to think of a religion other than Confucianism that involved more privilege in it's creation. A rich prince denounces his lifestyle because he saw how poor people lived. Don't get me wrong, that's an impressive thing, but it comes from a place of privilege necessarily. And the specific privilege is based on the family. You literally can't renounce being a prince without renouncing being in your family. Being a prince means you hold a specific place in a specific family.

                      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                      by AoT on Thu May 02, 2013 at 09:09:30 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  ok (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        AoT

                        I don't think that makes a lot of sense, but whatever.  I'd say that since Islam was spready largely by emperors and the catholic church is one of the richest and most powerful institutions in human history, there are perhaps some contenders.  After all, Muhammed was a merchant also, and Jesus a member of a royal house, apparently.

                        Still, I'm not sure that any of this is super relevant.

                        Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                        by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 09:23:42 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Well, we were talking about the creation (0+ / 0-)

                          of the religion and being based on renunciation of privilege and I noted that it necessarily will come from a place of privilege if that's the case. This historical minutia isn't especially important to the point. Buddhism was started by a prince, it comes from a place of privilege and part of that is family. Renouncing privilege means renouncing family, as it meant with the Buddha.

                          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                          by AoT on Fri May 03, 2013 at 10:33:32 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You don't have to be a monk to achieve (0+ / 0-)

                            Nirvana, although the Buddha obviously felt that it helped.  If you're not a monk, you don't have to renounce your family; you just have to follow the precepts for laypeople (something many would-be teachers these days cannot or will not do, fwiw).

                            Buddhism was founded by an ex-prince who had discarded princely privilege, and its popularity at first depended only on his persuasiveness and that of his followers, and only later on wealthy patronage.  I've never heard of the latter having had any connection to the Buddha's former princehood.  Is there a source saying otherwise?

                            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                            by dackmont on Fri May 03, 2013 at 06:28:48 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

          •  No, one should not lose compassion (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            84thProblem, enhydra lutris

            and empathy.  The Buddha did not teach that.  On the contrary, he said those were qualities that lead to Nirvana and are maximized in someone who attains Buddhahood.  Check out the Four Brahmaviharas.

            The Buddha did not counsel abandoning all views, just ones that get in the way of letting go of selfish desire.  

            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

            by dackmont on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:54:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But all desire is selfish (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              enhydra lutris

              That is the nature of desire. If one desires for others to be better off one is compassionate. To see others no be better of then brings suffering. If the goal is to end suffering then compassion and empathy must end as well.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Thu May 02, 2013 at 05:41:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There are different forms of "desire", (6+ / 0-)

                this is also a problem with translating from Pali to English. We can confuse earnest "desire" for change with physical "desire" for a stranger. These are two very different psychic phenomena although they share the same word in common language. Aspirations for improved social conditions are not incompatible with Buddhism. Just watch the documentary, Burma VJ and observe the activism of the monks in protesting the military and government.

                •  Certainly on a practical level i know (0+ / 0-)

                  That Buddhism isn't incompatible with a desire for social change and with working for social change. I can't deny that given the fact that I've worked on social justice issues with Buddhists and am aware of the Buddhists in other countries who have sacrificed and worked for justice. On a day to day basis I think Buddhist methods including meditation can be incredibly useful and I myself benefit from them. My issue is with the basis of the philosophy/religion on a deeper level.

                  First, I know the suffering that comes from compassion and empathy, I feel it most days. And I know what causes suffering, expectation. That says to me that compassion and empathy must be expectations and that expectations then must not be bad because I can't believe that compassion and empathy are bad.

                  I certainly don't dismiss the Buddhist tradition nor the many insights to be gained from it, but what it lacks is an understanding of the interaction between the individual and the community. Community is based on shared suffering. There are other aspects to it, celebrations and changes etc. But at the core of any community is the common suffering.

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Thu May 02, 2013 at 08:13:23 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not at all (0+ / 0-)

                    That seems a very dystopic view of community.  Certainly community can arise out of love and compassion as well.  Now, you may suffer from your empathy, but that does not mean that it must always do so. The suffering arises not from your compassion and empathy but rather from the ideation a and desires you create from it.  In turn, it is clinging to those ideas that causes suffering.  There is no particular need to be attached that way.  Thus, compassion and community and quite compatible with nonattachment.  Consider for a moment the Dalai Lama and his position as an example of what is possible in walking that path.  Just because you personally take a given approach does not mean it is the only one.  Does that make sense?

                    Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                    by Mindful Nature on Fri May 03, 2013 at 01:23:11 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Of course it's not the only one (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      marina

                      I didn't mean to present it as such.

                      And it isn't really distopic, it's realistic and useful in my eyes. Without suffering there is no compassion or empathy and those two things are how community is built. And solidarity in action opposed to imposed suffering.

                      Now, you may suffer from your empathy, but that does not mean that it must always do so.
                      If suffering is inevitable then I will suffer. Certainly I can see people being happy and that's good, but the suffering far overwhelms any of that. I'm certainly not trying to convert anyone. I'm not under the impression that I've got a super happy view of the world. I sometimes jokingly call myself a futilitarian. It's all futile but we've got to try and fix shit anyway.

                      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                      by AoT on Fri May 03, 2013 at 02:16:00 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  not at all (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, dackmont

                this is a bit atray here.  Buddhist philosophy is a fairly subtle thing I've found, with a number of concepts that are easily conflated.  FOr example, "suffering" has a particular technical definition that is distinct from mere unpleasantness or pain.  THose are constant.  First, not all desire is selfish, in the sense of desiring well being for others is not selfish.  Now, one can be compassionate without being attached to the desire or intention. The origin of suffering is the attachment, not that impulse or intention.  Desires and feelings are constant.  Question is, how to you relate to that?

                Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 07:02:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Mr Bojjangles (0+ / 0-)

                Where did the Buddha teach that?  Nothing personal, but your logic strikes me as semantic hair-splitting that misses the point that benign desires lead to good things.  (I agree with the post above mentioning issues of translation.)  Besides the Brahmaviharas mentioned above, he also taught the Seven Bojjhangas:

                1. Sati, which means mindfulness

                2. Dhammavicaya, literally means analyzing dhamma or finding out  what is the truth

                3. Viriya, which means persistence or strong sense of determination

                4. Piti is a feeling of complete contentment in what you are practising

                5. Passaddhi, a state of mind that is filled with tranquillity

                6. Samadhi, a state when your mind completely unperturbed by anything and stays focusing on thing you are doing. It likes having your mind fully concentrated on the task at hand.

                7. Upekkha, which means the simplicity of mind, in which you satisfy with what you are or have, not compare yourself with other people in terms of social status, possession of wealth, fame or whatever other people think fashionable. Upekkha makes you free of envy, jealousy or emotional instability. It also makes you calm about what you are in every sense.

                More than one of these involve benign desires, e.g. in the sense of Right Resolve or Right Intention, and the Buddha of the Pali Canon says that they are useful in attaining Nirvana and indeed remain and become perfected in one who has achieved Nirvana.

                "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                by dackmont on Thu May 02, 2013 at 09:40:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Acceptance breeds complacency and uncaring (0+ / 0-)

        sure...

        But minimizing someone else's issues or insight is also pretty insensitive too

        •  Actually I take that back (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think you understand what "acceptance" means in Buddhist terms.  Acceptance doesn't result in inaction.

          •  That's why I think it can be dangerous (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            congenitalefty, peregrine kate

            Because the concept is a little esoteric and, if misinterpreted, could result in the wrong kind of acceptance. In theory it all works beautifully. As one meditates one becomes wiser and gradually accepts things as they truly are. At the same time, one opens one's heart and becomes empathetic to the suffering of all beings and spontaneously becomes activated to do what must be done to alleviate the suffering that one has become aware of in the world.

            In practice, one becomes a little less neurotic and goes on with a way of living that may be no more effective in alleviating suffering in the world beyond one's self. Perhaps I'm too cynical, but that's the way it feels at the moment.

            The opposite of life is not death, but indifference. -- Jaki Gefjon (A.A.Attanasio)

            by Max Wyvern on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:19:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think it's the opposite. The more you experience (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              84thProblem, Creosote, GreenMother

              how your own thinking works, the more indifferent you become to your own "suffering" that is dragging your own mind around like a rag doll on the ground, and the more capable you are of "interbeing" with others in a way that relieves their suffering rather than increasing it.

              An important aspect of the teaching is that expressed in "Chop wood, carry water".  Being enlightened doesn't mean being liberated from material life completely.  It does change the definitions and priorities of life.
              There is also the sutra on the proper way to handle a snake, which compares the teachings to a dangerous snake which must be handled correctly in order for one to not "be bitten".

              You can't make this stuff up.

              by David54 on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:47:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  One of the things I like about Hayes and (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MeToo, AoT

              others like Batchelor is the way they demystify things like "emptiness" and "acceptance".  Their view is that these concepts have gotten overly "esotericized" (if that is a word) over time.  The more mystical takes on shunyata and nirvana are not without value (although they do need to be taken down a peg IMO), but the demystified ones are good counterbalances and are demonstrably based on the Pali Canon and commentaries thereon (as opposed to what some self-anointed modern teachers imagine).  It's nice to have these ideas explained in ways that make sense here and now rather than being something to be understood only after eons of meditation (and/or when one hangs out a guru shingle ;-).  The Buddha said practice is supposed to be "good at the beginning, good in the middle, good at the end".  Sure it takes effort, but it's not supposed to suck or be a mystery that one has to take on faith from authority.

              "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

              by dackmont on Thu May 02, 2013 at 03:47:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  doesn't sound right (0+ / 0-)

              Sorry, I was away for the weekend.

              Two points
              1) Inaction is also action.  Most people misinterpret "acceptance" as complacency.  "That's just how things are.... so there's nothing you can do about it."
              2) I don't think that you become more wise just because you meditate.  You become more wise because you are introspective and willing to look at what your'e attached to and how that causes you to suffer.  Experience, awareness, honesty and reflection is what creates wisdom.  
              3) Buddhism doesn't neccessarily reduce neuroses.  You're just aware that you're neurotic and understand that component of your personality.  Doing something about your neuroses is a different matter.  It might help you figure out whats causing it but just because you're buddhist doesn't mean all your neuroses go away eventually.

      •  This is another tension (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        84thProblem, pontechango

        just because one is unattached to desires does not mean that one does not experience compassion or intention.  one experiences pains and pleasures, but simply does not cling to those as they pass.  As I mentioned above, unattachment, in theory, gives rise to a compassion that can itself be a basis for action.  Here, you work to change things, through a right livelihood if you will, not out of a desire or clinging to a vision of the world as different, but out of a sense of alleviating suffering as right action.  I am not communicating this very well, but the difference is in how the intention arises and how we relate to it.  I think it's a bit of misconception to say that unattachment means not caring.

        Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

        by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 02:53:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Compassion and unattachment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pontechango

          go together quite naturally, imo, when selfish desire is the main thing one is trying to get beyond.  I think you're putting it well.  Just being a mature, responsible person entails a certain amount of putting selfish desire aside.  It's not as complicated as some of the California/mystical types make it out to be.  Not to say it's trivial, just basic, the kind of thing that is so foundational that getting good at it really changes things.

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Thu May 02, 2013 at 03:59:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have a question (4+ / 0-)

            there's a stream of constant derision of California buddhists I was previously unaware of, yet a great number of quite respected buddhists are here, including some of the oldest buddhist temples and meditation centers in the west.  What is this all about?

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Thu May 02, 2013 at 04:38:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  cf. reply elsewhere in comments (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT, Mindful Nature

              You already replied, but just in case anyone else is following this, here's my clarification (and mea culpa for using a misleading term).  Glad you called that out.

              "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

              by dackmont on Thu May 02, 2013 at 09:43:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Freudian buddhism? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Thu May 02, 2013 at 01:36:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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