Saturday, May 29, 2010

And a bit of back...and forth to come?...with 12 Step Buddhists

Darren Littlejohn illustrates the problem with mixing and matching Buddhist ideas (not necessarily the practices) with other ideologies, in this case, 12 Step ideology...

From a Buddhist perspective, emotions are considered poison and need to be restrained or transcended fully to achieve enlightenment. Ask any monk or nun about their vows and they'll tell you - getting carried away emotionally is a no-no. In 12-Step practice, emotions are based on instincts gone wild and need to be leveled off to maintain sobriety (clean-time). 

 My comments:

  1. From a Mahayana Buddhist perspective, emotions are an aspect of the 5 aggregates, a manifestation of Mind, and fundamentally empty.   They are not poisons, and "getting carried away emotionally" isn't the problem with the emotion it's a problem with the being stuck in dukkha doing the emoting.  In Buddhism, and in Zen, we try to act in accordance and in harmony, and this harmony means recognizing responsibility.
  2. Denial and suppression of emotions is a sure-fire recipe for some bad karma; this has been part of the human story since at least the ancient Greeks, the ancient Chinese, the ancient Indians, and even the Buddhists. Feelings that are harmful - "evil, unskillful, thoughts" exist, have existed and will continue to exist; they are no different from an itchy nose in their form and substance and yield to similar techniques.
  3. Simply abstaining from intoxicants won't do jack for you, in the Buddhist view.  Also in the Buddhist view, it affords you no bragging rights.  There's a whole lot more to it, and, well, it just ain't captured in the holy doctrines of Bill Wilson. 

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