Thursday, June 09, 2011

And then there's the Joko Beck angle to all this...or, the confab isn't "old school"

I've got more to say on this subject, including the conflicting things about Roshi Joko Beck, who, despite her being related to some people I could call as teachers of mine, I feel quite conflicted about her relation. Look much of what she said was spot on. No complaints there.  But at least in the incarnation in which I know her school in Portland, it seems that at least her heirs want to fiddle with things associated with the tradition.

I think this is one of the more regrettable things from the Maezumi lineage. ("Big Mind" anyone?)

So, in fact one of the angles which neither Brad nor NellaLou get in their posts on the subject of the confab and the homogenization of "Western Buddhism" is this tendency to throw all kinds of junk into it that wasn't there before 'cause they think they can "improve" the Dharma. 

Folks have been honing this stuff for centuries.  Even when folks said the Dharma was dead in China it was ticking away like the Energizer Bunny.  And folks want to improve on it?


Nathan said...

Things are always being changed. We have stories about "tradition" that are just that - stories. Buddhism has never been static, even when it has appeared to be almost the same for generation after generation.

I don't think "adding or subtracting" in and of itself is a problem. The trouble seems to come when folks don't have enough respect for, and understanding of, what came before.

What I see amongst some in the U.S. anyway, is a desire to chuck out 70-80% of what came before, and just keep the "tasty parts," while adding in stuff that "feels good" and soothes people. On the other hand, there are folks who want cling to every last thing their teacher passed down to them, regardless of whether it functions at all in the current context.

Neither of those is really helpful in my view.

Mumon said...


Of course you're right that things are always being changed.

But the flip side - it's nondual, dontcha know - is that some part of it has remained not only the same, but beyond space and time, in space and time.

If the "adding and subtracting" comes from attachments - or the wanting to keep things static arises from attachments - that's something to watch.

I agree with your points about the tasty parts and the feel good parts.

Sometimes, in sitting, it is just to sit amidst GREAT PAIN AND SUFFERING simply to see that it's all in one's head, and really no more permanent than a soap bubble.

But a big painful one while it's a bubble.

J said...
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J said...

Sometimes, in sitting, it is just to sit amidst GREAT PAIN AND SUFFERING simply to see that it's all in one's head

Another nihilist misreading of what you take to be "buddhism".Suffering ..desire, and death are part of reality, which all humans must deal with.

Phenomena of various sorts may be...impermanent, becoming, evanescent but that does not mean non-existent or meaningless, at all. That's how most frat boys into zen or counseling read it--but yr not getting the ...philosophical kernel of trad.bu. (--which is something like...monism--ie has a spiritual aspect) but merely ..navel gazing

Mumon said...


Normally I'd have deleted your comment, but you demonstrate here how really little you know of your own existence, not at some philosophical level, but at a gut level. So maybe these words can help you see something you might not have seen before.

We Zen folks have some knowledge of philosophy, but ultimately philosophy is in itself useless to live a live I've found. Nobody - nobody exists entirely in an intellectual sphere. And arguing such points that exist merely as intellection isn't worth anyone's time.

Even though suffering, dukkha, being trapped often physical causes, even though these are objectively demonstrable as far as those words have meaning to us, nonetheless, our apprehension of it is inseparable, and interdependent with said suffering, etc.

And as such, as the phenomena themselves, they are impermanent.

The soap bubble too is real. Our discomfort and hatred and disgust and repulsion is as real as the bullet that tore through that Congresswoman's head a few months ago. Our attachments that give rise to such discomforts are something we can act upon though, to alleviate our discomfort.

J said...
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J said...

Ah , mumu's for Zen. You mean, Japanese aristocratic stoicism. Not really buddhism, though authentic zen masters may have at times referred to buddhistic concepts. American zensters, ie inauthentic sort, may have as well, but they generally don't know f**k about traditional buddh.--like, the metaphysical presumptions (ie...s spiritual realm, whether frat boy materialists like it or not), the sacrifices required, the actual dharma itself--ie, ethical precepts. Im not a budh. btw, but I have some understanding of it. (AS did Schopenhauer--one of my guides-- who had studied many budh. and hindu texts in the sanskrit and pali).

Your enigma/zen-paradox game doesn't matter, mumu--indeed, most of what you take to be zen is an elitist code for jap. imperialists. Maybe you can chop up some watermelons with yr sword grasshoppah!
So Zen-zazen away. But that's not budh