Thread: Distortions we bring to the study of the Dharma

  1. #1
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    by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, director of The Cup and Traveler's & Magicians

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.ph...1&limitstart=0

    Intense article. Some parts I love... having experienced the ego-bruising, I ache again thinking about it.

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    For this reason, most Oriental teachers are very skeptical about exporting dharma to the Western world, feeling that Westerners lack the refinement and courage to understand and practice properly the buddhadharma. On the other hand there are some who try their best to work on the transmission of the dharma to the West.

    I think the west has actually helped the Dhamma, helped to move it back to its foundations and away from cultural baggage and superstitions


    Of course im not saying this is all the result of the west, but I do feel the west has helped quite a lot

  3. #3


    Since they originally came to live in the west, some Tibetan teachers have, on different occasions, criticised westerners and their attitude to Tibetan Buddhism.
    Yet... and I don't mean to be disrespectful... their flourishing centres and their relatively luxurious lifestyles and privileges as gurus in the west, are also due to the kindness and efforts of westerners.

    We human beings usually have delusions of one kind or another, whatever part of the world we're from.

    I think that a positive development with some of our sincere western Buddhist practitioners, seems to be that they're able to see beyond cultural add-ons and superstitions, to the core teachings of Dhamma, whatever the tradition is that they've chosen to follow. Also, there are those who have become authentic teachers themselves.




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    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    It would be of great amusement to many learned Tibetan scholars if they could read some of the presentations written by Westerners on such subjects as Buddhism or gurus. It is like imagining an old Tibetan lama reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or listening to a beautiful aria. He would most probably think the former uninteresting and that the latter sounded like a cat being skinned alive!
    Personally, I am unsure about what exactly the Lama is attempting to impart?

    Asia is not a place replete with enlightened beings.

    The proportion of enlightened or 'selfless' beings is Asia and the West, in relation to the general population, is probably the same.

    Either myself or the Lama here appear to mixing up "learned" or "enlightened" Buddhists with "devotees".

    Sure, Asia is replete with guru worshippers or "devotees", just like the West is replete with Christian "devotees".

    I did not read the whole article, but if the Lama is referring to "devotees", sure, he has a point.

    Kind regards




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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    I did not read the whole article, but if the Lama is referring to "devotees", sure, he has a point.
    Neither me (later I will try to go through it again).

    It gave me the taste of a rant with not a very clear purpose. It's in some way the old debate between the idealized Eastern way of living v.s the devilish Western lifestyle. The teachings of the historical Buddha do not need any kind of cultural "go-between" interpretation [adaptation?] so to understand them because they are about of the very human nature and we all harbour it regardless of where we were born.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Element
    Quote
    It would be of great amusement to many learned Tibetan scholars if they could read some of the presentations written by Westerners on such subjects as Buddhism or gurus. It is like imagining an old Tibetan lama reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or listening to a beautiful aria. He would most probably think the former uninteresting and that the latter sounded like a cat being skinned alive!

    Personally, I am unsure about what exactly the Lama is attempting to impart?

    Asia is not a place replete with enlightened beings.

    The proportion of enlightened or 'selfless' beings is Asia and the West, in relation to the general population, is probably the same.

    Either myself or the Lama here appear to mixing up "learned" or "enlightened" Buddhists with "devotees".

    Sure, Asia is replete with guru worshippers or "devotees", just like the West is replete with Christian "devotees".

    I did not read the whole article, but if the Lama is referring to "devotees", sure, he has a point.

    Kind regards

    Grin

    « Last Edit: December 30, 2010, 08:40:14 PM by Element »
    Yeah, I didn't understand the analogy at all. Read it twice and moved on....

    Now that I look again, I think he is saying the cultural differences in expression would be amusing, but i didn't look at the whole context.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaarine Alejandra
    It gave me the taste of a rant with not a very clear purpose. It's in some way the old debate between the idealized Eastern way of living v.s the devilish Western lifestyle. The teachings of the historical Buddha do not need any kind of cultural "go-between" interpretation [adaptation?] so to understand them because they are about of the very human nature and we all harbour it regardless of where we were born.

    Grin
    Ponlop Rinpoche gives the analogy that Dharma is like water and culture is like the cup or container. The water is the same no matter what container... but it may look different because of the shape or color of the glass. the water is what is important, not the container.

    At the same time without any container there would be nothing to hold the water or keep it from going everywhere, so the container does serve a function.

    <shrug> iunno... pretty interesting to me.

  8. #8
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoolAid900
    At the same time without any container there would be nothing to hold the water or keep it from going everywhere, so the container does serve a function.
    The analogy seems to be convenient to Ponlop Rinpoche... the teachings of the historical Buddha are contained by themselves. The Four Noble Truths as are expoused in the Pali Canon are the Four Noble Truths independently of the culture where they are taughted. In that sense they are cultureless and timeless.

    For example, I think this calls for any person regardless of time or culture:

    "Now what, friends, is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; not getting what is wanted is stressful.[2] In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

    MN 141
    It is clearly spoken by itself.





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