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Author Topic: Will the Real Buddhism Please Stand Up?  (Read 6750 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 28, 2011, 11:44:45 PM »

Well, I practice "genuine Zen" and am a believing Orthodox Christian.

If you are not a Buddhist, you don't practice Zen. Maybe you practice some neat mental tricks you learned in your Zen monastery, but if it's divorced from Buddhism, it's not Zen.

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But I believe you've misunderstood the expression "a teaching outside the scriptures."  It is the direct experience of fundamental reality. What could that be but God?

Of course God is the fundamental reality. However, to recognize this is to overthrow Zen and all Buddhist doctrine. All the Zen practices and teachings, including the "outside the scriptures" stuff, is based on Buddhist principles... which are in the scriptures. A lot of the distinctive Zen approaches came from the Lankavatara Sutra, Diamond Sutra, Heart Sutra, etc. Much of Dogen's craziness can be traced to the Avatamsaka Sutra. Maybe they left the raft behind, but Buddha-Dharma was still the only raft.

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The point is that rigorous study or the application of sequential logic do not lead to that direct experience. That is the problem with many of Shihfu Sheng Yen's teachings. They do not go deep enough.

Buddhism, including Zen, doesn't go deep enough. It's not Sheng Yen's fault. But terms of Zen and Buddhism, Sheng Yen is miles above most of the narcissists peddling "Zen" in the West. If you have an edge over Sheng yen, it's not because of your Zen insights but because you are a Christian.

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Of course you can find people who "worship" the historical Buddha,

Yes, they're called Buddhists, especially Mahayana Buddhists, all of whom recognize the Lotus Sutra and other scriptures that advocate the worship of the Buddha. In Zen temples incense is burned and offerings are made before statues of the Buddha, just like in every other Buddhist temple.
 
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just as you can find savior figures, such as Amitabha, in movements like the Pure Land schools. You can find the same wide variety in Christianity. Mary the Virgin Mother of God--yes or no?

Amitabha is not a matter of "yes" or "no." All Mahayana Buddhists revere him- whether that manifests in Pure Land practice or not does not indicate a division in any way as deep as the one between Orthodoxy and Pentecostalism.

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You'll get a quite different answer from an Orthodox than from a Pentecostal.  What's your point?

Pure Land and Chan are completely compatible currents ("skillful means") within Buddhism. Chan Buddhists recognize the Pure Land scriptures as legitimate, even if some of them think the practice is not as advanced as Chan. Sure, individual teachers of the sects bickered amongst each other, but the practices became integrated for many (the lines between the sects were never so hardened in China as they were in Japan). Nowadays Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese Chan routinely integrate Pure Land practice. I think you're thinking about Buddhism in general through the distorted lens of Japanese sectarian division. Even in Japan, though,  the Obaku Zen sect integrates Pure Land as a Zen practice. D.T. Suzuki came to believe that Zen and Pure Land are essentially the same.

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That Buddhism manifests in many forms? No one argues against this.

Those many forms are mostly not mutually contradictory, unlike Pentecostalism and Orthodoxy. They are recognized as legitimate and often complementary paths to enlightenment. Is that how you view Pentecostalism?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 12:01:03 AM by Iconodule » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2011, 12:15:35 AM »

I don't think it is just Japanese offshoot sects that teach a radical sort of anti-religious, anti-sutra, anti-dogmatic Zen.  Kwan Um Seon (Zen) in Korea teaches something similar.  Korean Zen master Seung Sahn writes that one can chant "coca cola" all day with the same effect as chanting something from a sutra.  Touching Ultimate Reality by somehow short-circuiting the habitual rational or conditioned responses to everything is the goal.  Seemingly unintelligible Koans are often used for this purpose...  to stump the mind, render it momentarily impotent, so that one can come in contact with things as they really are, right now, without any coloring or interpretation.  

From Zen comes the saying: "If you see the Buddha, kill him!"  In some Zen centers, the Buddha is not even represented, and if a Buddha statue is present, Zen Buddhists bow to it with the idea that they are bowing to their own innate Buddha-nature, which is everything's true nature... not to some numinous God-like Buddha.  That is my understanding from studying (or investigating, rather) Zen.  A Zen center in my current city (while run by Western Zen teachers, I admit) has a big rock in the center of it instead of a Buddha statue so that no one gets attached to some kind of Buddha-out-there idea.

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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2011, 12:26:35 AM »

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Those many forms are mostly not mutually contradictory, unlike Pentecostalism and Orthodoxy. They are recognized as legitimate and often complementary paths to enlightenment. Is that how you view Pentecostalism?


This is true, from my understanding.  Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right, because there are many ways to "wake up" to Ultimate Reality.  I'm generalizing a bit, of course.  Many of their methods, across traditions, are inter-changeable. 


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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2011, 11:55:38 AM »

I don't think it is just Japanese offshoot sects that teach a radical sort of anti-religious, anti-sutra, anti-dogmatic Zen.

First of all, I wouldn't characterize the Japanese Zen sects as "anti-sutra" or "anti-dogmatic." Rinzai and Soto monks are still expected to know the sutras and basic Buddhist doctrine. Dogen remains highly revered in the Soto sect, and Dogen was very much a traditionalist. When a Zen master says to his disciples to burn the sutras or kill the Buddha, it's after a long time of learning the Sutras, to the point where one might get too attached to them. With the average Westerner, the opposite is the problem.

Quote
 Kwan Um Seon (Zen) in Korea teaches something similar.  Korean Zen master Seung Sahn writes that one can chant "coca cola" all day with the same effect as chanting something from a sutra.

I somehow doubt that Zen in Korea would bear much resemblance to the religion that Seung Sahn presented to the US. Seung Sahn was one of a number of Buddhist teachers from the East who exploited the ignorance and prejudices of Westerners to create a personality cult for himself (and bed a few followers along the way) using a watered down "Zen" full of cliches and gimmicks ("KATZ!"). The ironic thing about this supposed "anti-dogmatism" is how the followers parrot the rhetorical style and gimmicks with depressing predictability.

Quote
Touching Ultimate Reality by somehow short-circuiting the habitual rational or conditioned responses to everything is the goal.  Seemingly unintelligible Koans are often used for this purpose...  to stump the mind, render it momentarily impotent, so that one can come in contact with things as they really are, right now, without any coloring or interpretation.

Koan practice is not contradictory of other more standard Buddhist practices. Sometimes other Buddhist practices, like the nembutsu, can become koans themselves. The problem with Koan practice is that it has become very much ossified and many teachers are more likely to use koans as a means to silence critical questioning ("who asked that question?").

 
Quote
From Zen comes the saying: "If you see the Buddha, kill him!"  In some Zen centers, the Buddha is not even represented, and if a Buddha statue is present, Zen Buddhists bow to it with the idea that they are bowing to their own innate Buddha-nature, which is everything's true nature...not to some numinous God-like Buddha.

This teaching is given lots of emphasis to children of the Enlightenment who start to wig out if someone askes them to bow to anything... but themselves. Of course it's not entirely out of line-  the "buddha-nature" stuff is standard Mahayana but this is not considered contrary to the devotion one gives to the Buddha. The Buddha is "numinous" and "God-like" and he is our own nature.

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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2011, 01:00:18 PM »

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First of all, I wouldn't characterize the Japanese Zen sects as "anti-sutra" or "anti-dogmatic." Rinzai and Soto monks are still expected to know the sutras and basic Buddhist doctrine. Dogen remains highly revered in the Soto sect, and Dogen was very much a traditionalist. When a Zen master says to his disciples to burn the sutras or kill the Buddha, it's after a long time of learning the Sutras, to the point where one might get too attached to them. With the average Westerner, the opposite is the problem.

Yes, I can see that. Traditionally, I can see there being an emphasis on learning the Sutras well before moving to the "Only Don't Know" or "Kill the Buddha" mindset.  Personally, I think that the emphasis on practice of zazen over dogma and Sutra study that is prevalent in the West is not a particularly bad thing, whether one wants to call it Zen or not.  

Quote
I somehow doubt that Zen in Korea would bear much resemblance to the religion that Seung Sahn presented to the US. Seung Sahn was one of a number of Buddhist teachers from the East who exploited the ignorance and prejudices of Westerners to create a personality cult for himself (and bed a few followers along the way) using a watered down "Zen" full of cliches and gimmicks ("KATZ!"). The ironic thing about this supposed "anti-dogmatism" is how the followers parrot the rhetorical style and gimmicks with depressing predictability.

Not to be argumentative, but having lived in Korea for a few years, I can say that Seung Sahn (posthumously) and his legacy of students still seem to have a big presence there.  He founded a Zen temple in Seoul that is still very active and where practitioners do intensive meditation retreats.  Apparently, he received the title of Great Master by the Korean Chogye Buddhist order in 2004. http://www.seoulzen.org/foundingteacher.html .  Many of his Western disciples have been adopted by Korean Buddhists as respected Zen teachers.  Hyon Gak Sunim is one in particular who teaches in both English and Korean, and was often featured on the Korean Buddhist television network while I was there.  There are, of course, various Buddhist forms in Korea, but the "Don't Know Mind" (akin to Shinru Suzuki's "Beginner's Mind") approach seems to me to be fairly common in Korean Zen.  That said, I was only a foreign observer of Korean Buddhism, so can't say with certainty how common.

Quote
the "buddha-nature" stuff is standard Mahayana but this is not considered contrary to the devotion one gives to the Buddha. The Buddha is "numinous" and "God-like" and he is our own nature.

Well stated.   Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 01:01:25 PM »


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The Three Refuges essentially set up the Buddha as one's Lord (made even more clear by the fact that many Buddhists refer to Siddhattha Gotama as "the Lord Buddha") in a way that cannot be reconciled with Christ's Lordship. Sure, certain concepts and practices of Buddhism may be able to be incorporated into a Christian life, but I think it's clear that one cannot be a full Christian and a full Buddhist.

The historical Buddha was a human. he's referred to as Lord Budddha in the same way as one might refer to Lord Wellington, as a mark of respect.

Once again, you must be extremely careful to recognize that there are different forms of Buddhism that have far different idea's from one to another. You can never simply state that "Buddhism" teaches so and so.

For example in the Lotus Sutra based Sects it is understood that the Buddha was NOT merely a human. The LS teaches that his enlightement under the Bohdai Tree was an expedient means of teaching and that his disappearance ( death) was only to prevent people from being too attached to him.

In fact,  his "real " identity is as the "Eternal Buddha" ( chapter 15-16 LS)  and he is referred to in the commentaries by St. Nichiren and others as... "Our Father, the Eternally Living Lord Shakyamuni"..... That sort of representation is far closer to how one referrers to someone Divine than it is to Lord Wellington ( with my apologies to the General who was a great hero Smiley

Revisionist LS Buddhist groups like the Soka Gakkai often  take the original language and shorten or delete all the honorifics leaving just "Lord Shakyamuni" or simply "Shakyamuni".

Thanks. I get tired of making this same point over and over. One can no more refer to Buddhism, as if it were something monolithic, than one can derive accurate understanding of Christianity from a children's Bible. On that basis, one would probably conclude than all Christians were like Methodists or Presbyterians.

Buddhism may not be monolithic, but some describe it as "holographic"- the different traditions reflect each other. There is rarely a significant contradiction in doctrine between the different sects- it's usually more a matter of making different emphases or adding some layers to the common cosmology. In China and Japan there were big-tent sects (Tiantai/ Tendai, Hua Yen/ Kegon) that sought to unify all the teachings into one. When Chan became dominant in China, it didn't wipe out the other teachings but absorbed them, no now it is common in Chan to practice Pure Land nian fo and other practices not commonly associated with Chan. The only really radical departures tha I know of would be some of the crazier mappo sects like Nichiren.

Well..the "crazier" Nichiren sect is now the largest Buddhist school in the world.. go figure. But it is important to understand that there is also great diversity within the Nichiren Sect. The largest is of course the Soka Gakkai and it's estranged Order the Nicihren Shoshu. They have adopted a crude Health Wealth and Happiness format. Most everything they teach is inauthentic in terms of what Nichiren Shonin actually taught. Their most prized writings ( "Gosho") are almost all forgeries.

There are many other Nichiren sects: Nichiren Shu, Kempon Hokke shu, Honmon butusryu Shu and others that are very traditional and authentic. Nichiren is disliked because he was Japanese and not Chinese and carried some national prejudices. He famously is credited for conjuring up the Typhoon that sank the entire invading Chinese armada...  

He also had a close encounter with a UFO for those reading the other thread about contact with Aliens. I can tell the story if anyone is interested.  
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 01:57:10 PM »


Quote

The Three Refuges essentially set up the Buddha as one's Lord (made even more clear by the fact that many Buddhists refer to Siddhattha Gotama as "the Lord Buddha") in a way that cannot be reconciled with Christ's Lordship. Sure, certain concepts and practices of Buddhism may be able to be incorporated into a Christian life, but I think it's clear that one cannot be a full Christian and a full Buddhist.

The historical Buddha was a human. he's referred to as Lord Budddha in the same way as one might refer to Lord Wellington, as a mark of respect.

Once again, you must be extremely careful to recognize that there are different forms of Buddhism that have far different idea's from one to another. You can never simply state that "Buddhism" teaches so and so.

For example in the Lotus Sutra based Sects it is understood that the Buddha was NOT merely a human. The LS teaches that his enlightement under the Bohdai Tree was an expedient means of teaching and that his disappearance ( death) was only to prevent people from being too attached to him.

In fact,  his "real " identity is as the "Eternal Buddha" ( chapter 15-16 LS)  and he is referred to in the commentaries by St. Nichiren and others as... "Our Father, the Eternally Living Lord Shakyamuni"..... That sort of representation is far closer to how one referrers to someone Divine than it is to Lord Wellington ( with my apologies to the General who was a great hero Smiley

Revisionist LS Buddhist groups like the Soka Gakkai often  take the original language and shorten or delete all the honorifics leaving just "Lord Shakyamuni" or simply "Shakyamuni".

Thanks. I get tired of making this same point over and over. One can no more refer to Buddhism, as if it were something monolithic, than one can derive accurate understanding of Christianity from a children's Bible. On that basis, one would probably conclude than all Christians were like Methodists or Presbyterians.

Buddhism may not be monolithic, but some describe it as "holographic"- the different traditions reflect each other. There is rarely a significant contradiction in doctrine between the different sects- it's usually more a matter of making different emphases or adding some layers to the common cosmology. In China and Japan there were big-tent sects (Tiantai/ Tendai, Hua Yen/ Kegon) that sought to unify all the teachings into one. When Chan became dominant in China, it didn't wipe out the other teachings but absorbed them, no now it is common in Chan to practice Pure Land nian fo and other practices not commonly associated with Chan. The only really radical departures tha I know of would be some of the crazier mappo sects like Nichiren.
....
He also had a close encounter with a UFO for those reading the other thread about contact with Aliens. I can tell the story if anyone is interested.  
Please do.
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2011, 04:39:00 PM »

The Priest Nichiren was a Buddhist Monk who live from February 16, 1222 – October 13, 1282. You can read his bio on
wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichiren

In 1271 he was abducted by the authorities and taken to Tatsunokuchi Beach which was a killing ground, to be beheaded. The attempt failed when there was a dramatic celestial event ( probably a Meteor or some sort of fire storm). The executioner became frightened and  dropped his sword right at the moment of the beheading. The soldiers guarding him fell back in fear. Just then a messenger arrived with orders to spare his life. Instead of killing him, he was to be sent into exile on far off ( read cold) Sado Island. He was kept under guard not far from Tatsunokuchi awaiting transport. The UFO encounter happened the night after the failed execution.

Nichiren wrote a detailed account of the event. He said late at night he and the guards were awakened be a great noise. winds and a bright light. They went out of their hut to see a vehicle which "Hung over a plum tree". He said some of the guards ran off. Others stayed but fell on their faces.

 Nichiren called the two beings inside the Vehicle "Two Bodhisattvas" . He apparently had a conversation with them. Unfortunately he gave no details of what was said.

There is also a wood block print of the encounter drawn by one of Nichiren's followers ( I don't know how long afterwards). It shows Nichiren standing upright with guards laying prone. The Vehicle is above a Tree and it looks like all the Flying Saucer depictions we have all seen. It was a saucer with a domed cockpit on top with two "Aliens" sitting inside with very big eyes... This all happened in 1271...... Scary , huh?

Nichiren groups know about this letter but  tend to be circumspect about it. I had access to it since my teacher was an Academic. He is certain it is original.    
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 04:40:52 PM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2011, 09:02:03 PM »

Well..the "crazier" Nichiren sect is now the largest Buddhist school in the world.. go figure. But it is important to understand that there is also great diversity within the Nichiren Sect. The largest is of course the Soka Gakkai and it's estranged Order the Nicihren Shoshu. They have adopted a crude Health Wealth and Happiness format. Most everything they teach is inauthentic in terms of what Nichiren Shonin actually taught. Their most prized writings ( "Gosho") are almost all forgeries.

Most Buddhists I've heard from on the matter are of the opinion that SGI is not really Buddhist, more of a new religion, for just these reasons. The more "orthodox" Nichiren seem to have some recognition. I heard there is a statue of Nichiren at the main Tiantai temple in China (as you may know, the Tiantai sect greatly revered the Lotus Sutra).
 
Quote
There are many other Nichiren sects: Nichiren Shu, Kempon Hokke shu, Honmon butusryu Shu and others that are very traditional and authentic. Nichiren is disliked because he was Japanese and not Chinese and carried some national prejudices.

Disliked by whom? In terms of national prejudices, maybe he stood out in his time but after WWII I don't think any Japanese Buddhist sect is untainted. Yasutani Roshi comes to mind, who has a pervasive influence in modern Zen and who was a rabid cheerleader for Japanese imperialism (he was certainly not alone in this among Buddhist leaders).

I think Nichiren tends to raise eyebrows because his teaching is kind of... odd. The Buddha's ultimate teaching is to chant the name of a sutra, even if this practice isn't explicitly taught in the sutra itself? In Japanese? Other Japanese teachers like Shinran or Dogen had their radical moments but nothing quite so outlandish.

 
Quote
He famously is credited for conjuring up the Typhoon that sank the entire invading Chinese armada...

Wasn't that the Mongols?
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2011, 10:19:25 PM »

Well..the "crazier" Nichiren sect is now the largest Buddhist school in the world.. go figure. But it is important to understand that there is also great diversity within the Nichiren Sect. The largest is of course the Soka Gakkai and it's estranged Order the Nicihren Shoshu. They have adopted a crude Health Wealth and Happiness format. Most everything they teach is inauthentic in terms of what Nichiren Shonin actually taught. Their most prized writings ( "Gosho") are almost all forgeries.

Most Buddhists I've heard from on the matter are of the opinion that SGI is not really Buddhist, more of a new religion, for just these reasons. The more "orthodox" Nichiren seem to have some recognition. I heard there is a statue of Nichiren at the main Tiantai temple in China (as you may know, the Tiantai sect greatly revered the Lotus Sutra).
  
Quote
There are many other Nichiren sects: Nichiren Shu, Kempon Hokke shu, Honmon butusryu Shu and others that are very traditional and authentic. Nichiren is disliked because he was Japanese and not Chinese and carried some national prejudices.

Disliked by whom? In terms of national prejudices, maybe he stood out in his time but after WWII I don't think any Japanese Buddhist sect is untainted. Yasutani Roshi comes to mind, who has a pervasive influence in modern Zen and who was a rabid cheerleader for Japanese imperialism (he was certainly not alone in this among Buddhist leaders).

I think Nichiren tends to raise eyebrows because his teaching is kind of... odd. The Buddha's ultimate teaching is to chant the name of a sutra, even if this practice isn't explicitly taught in the sutra itself? In Japanese? Other Japanese teachers like Shinran or Dogen had their radical moments but nothing quite so outlandish.

 
Quote
He famously is credited for conjuring up the Typhoon that sank the entire invading Chinese armada...

Wasn't that the Mongols?

The SGI was the lay organization for a legit Nichrien branch, the Nichiren Shoshu. They had diverged from authentic Nichiren-ism in the 1400's. They adopted a concept called "Hongaku Shi so". Everyone is the Buddha, you need only practice to bring out this inherent Buddha-hood. Lots of Japanese Buddhism was infected by this idea and you can see it all round today. When you see the metaphor " Polish the Mirror of your life to reflect your Buddhahood" it is representative of this concept.

Nichiren had a far different idea. He took the Eternal Buddha seriously and believed in his actual existence ( he was not a metaphor for the "Buddha within"). Nichiren started out as a Tendai Shu monk whom as you pointed out take the Lotus Sutra ( "Hokkeyo" jap.) as the final and supreme teaching of Buddhism.

They believe as does the Nichiren Sect that as we travel in time further and further away from the Buddha's temporal life in India, the capacity of the ordinary person to practice diminishes. At the point in time of master Tendai (538-597)  in China, it was believed that we were about to enter the final Dharma age, "Mappo". Capacity is so degraded in Mappo that the only way people can reache enlightenment is directly from the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni.

The Tendai shu and Nichiren in his early career believed that Buddhist practice was only for a few talented people. They used all kinds of complicated Esoteric practices not suited for everyday use by the common folk. It was on that point that Nichiren evetually broke away and developed a practice so simple and elegant that everyone, Monk and commoner alike could practice it. It was also so potent that a devoted person could reach enlightenment in his current body.

The formula was thus. The Lotus Sutra is the Buddha's highest teaching. It contains the entirety of his enlightenment. The entire Sutra and all of it's merits is contained in it's title "Myoho Renge Kyo".. The Buddha's Dharma ( his word) and the Buddha are identical. Therefore if one hears the Title of the Sutra ( by chanting it) with faith ( adding " Namu" or "devotion to". Thus making the entire recitation "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo") you had the complete practice.

When one takes in the entire Dharma by hearing it, the seed of enlightenment is thereby planted within your life. After awhile one takes notice like a pregnant women who does not at first feel her child but later becomes aware of him ( Paraphrase of Nichiren). Nichiren belived that you thus commune with the Buddha who actually indwells within you, transforms you and leads you to enlightenment which you cannot ( In Mappo) reach by your own power.

So:

The Buddha actually exists as a Divine Supreme Being who has eternal life.

All people have the ability to become enlightend, not just a seperate class of Monks

The Word ( The Sutra) and the Person are for all intents and purposes identical in merit.

You achieve enlightenment by communion with this Supreme Being and by his grace alone.      

You commune by hearing the Dharma encapsulated in an easy to use form, the Title of the Hokkeyo .

The Buddha thereby indwells within your life and transforms you..

Sound at all familiar ?... Nichiren was a smart cookie. He got an awful lot right.  

( Yes, it was the Mongol invasion)
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 09:14:27 PM »

To be fair, Buddhists did the same thing with Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan deities.
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 09:52:22 PM »

To be fair, Buddhists did the same thing with Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan deities.

Yes, that was his point. As Buddhism has spread it has subsumed the local Kami, Deities and Demi-gods into it.

There was a big huff and puff in Medieval Japan over which group of Deities were superior. Were the Buddhists "Gods" in the superior position or were the Japanese Kami ( Local "Gods").
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2011, 03:09:18 PM »


Quote

Then we have a difference of opinion ( FYI, I also have a Dharma transmission and ordination).

First of all, I can detect a different philosophical point of view between us. On the one hand you emphasize intent, do you "Understand" what you are doing when you bow before a Pagen Statue. Do you have a complicated understanding of the Bodhisattva of Compassion ( Kannon) or are you willfully engaged in some sort of worship.

I would prefer not to split those hairs. You have bowed before a Pagan Statue. I am not trying to be overly strict but I see an insidious effect from this bowing ( and often offering a bit of incense) that is not mitigated by what you have in your mind at the time.

In most forms of Buddhism there are a few very pivotal events in life. Being born a human (who has a Buddha Nature ie capacity to become enlightened) is the first. The next is coming into actual contact with the Dharma ( The Buddha's teaching. "Buddha-Dharma" ).

When Buddhists get you to do something very simple, like bowing before Kannon and offering a speck of incense, you have you accomplished what is to the Buddhist, a great passage in life. You may have live thousands of prior lives ( in their way of thinking) without ever once coming into contact with the Buddha-Dharma, and now finally you have. It's a big deal.

This is a form of initiation. Fr. Seraphim Rose ( who was a Buddhist in his youth) specifically warns of this sort of thing.

A few seasons back the TV show "Survivor" took place in Burma ( maybe it was Thailand). During the opening show they took the contestants to a Buddhist Temple for a "Welcoming Ceremony". They were to walk into the Temple with hands folded and then make a deep bow all the way to the floor. They were to then offer a bit of incense in front of the alter where there were Statues of all kinds of Buddhist Deities.

One of the contestants was a Woman who was an Evangelical Christian.. She walked into the Temple looked around and saw what they wanted her to do. To her great credit, she turned on her heals and walked out.

Jeff Probst the host was bewildered by this and argued with her a bit. He was clearly annoyed and kept saying "It's only a Welcoming Ceremony"...."It's only a Welcoming Ceremony" But by her good Christian sense, she could understand that this is not something a Christian should ever do.

You do understand that Christians were put to death in the Arena, torn apart by wild animals or hacked up by soldiers or burned alive for refusing to bow before Statues of Roman God's and offer a speck of incense to them.

What's the source of your transmission and in which tradition?

We do, indeed, have a different view, although I disagree about the characterization that it is splitting hairs. It is exactly the same distinction that needs to be made about bowing before and kissing an icon. What the person is doing and why make all the difference between reverence and idolatry. Just because it's a picture of Jesus and not of Hermes Trismegistus doesn't automatically make the action less idolatrous.

Depending on the tradition you trained in, you may have been taught that when a Buddhist bows to an image of any kind is not the piece of wood or the painting or even the being represented. It is the qualities represented in the image as manifested in ourselves, both actually and as an aspiration. We bow to a statue of Buddha out of respect for the teachings he transmitted to us, as well as in the hope that we ourselves may be able to realize those teachings. We are not bowing to a god or even a saint. Simply a deceased human being whom we respect. To equate that with the observance of a pagan Roman is really over the top.

Now, of course, if you are a Pure Land Buddhist, the image may have a different meaning altogether. That's why I emphasize intent. And I'll reiterate once more that Orthodox Christians are actually much more prone than almost any Zen person to mistake the representation of a thing for the thing itself, and thus, an object of worship. We Orthodox had generations of controversy over just this tendency in the Eighth and Ninth centuries, and it is still an ever-present danger. Icons and relics need to be used very judiciously and with quite a bit of care about what exactly we are doing.

Bowing to a statue of Kannon Bosa is for me the same thing as bowing to a beautiful sunset or a flower or a human being I respect. I cannot say what it is for you, of course, and I don't mind being challenged on the point; but I see no reason at all to allow you, Seraphim Rose, or anyone else to define my actions for me or to assume in the absence of any discussion with me that they know what I am doing or why. You speak about what you think Buddhists as a whole believe, and I question whether that's either possible or advisable. I am speaking about what I personally believe, and my belief isn't that unusual, even among Zen Buddhists who aren't also Orthodox Christians. Certainly, some Buddhists think and believe as you've described. But there are 400 million of them, so there is a range of expression.

I think what this really hinges on is our understanding of joriki and toriki. If we see salvation as something that operates from the outside in, the danger is a little greater that one will end up reifying the concept represented by the image. The kingdom of God is within us. A religious image is at most a reflection of that kingdom. Or to quote a Chinese proverb, the treasure of the house doesn't enter by the gate.

Please do not use a general discussion about what some Buddhists believe to try to knock down a specific individual's practice, especially when their specific beliefs differ from the general ones you've outlined.
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2011, 05:13:07 PM »


Quote

Then we have a difference of opinion ( FYI, I also have a Dharma transmission and ordination).

First of all, I can detect a different philosophical point of view between us. On the one hand you emphasize intent, do you "Understand" what you are doing when you bow before a Pagen Statue. Do you have a complicated understanding of the Bodhisattva of Compassion ( Kannon) or are you willfully engaged in some sort of worship.

I would prefer not to split those hairs. You have bowed before a Pagan Statue. I am not trying to be overly strict but I see an insidious effect from this bowing ( and often offering a bit of incense) that is not mitigated by what you have in your mind at the time.

In most forms of Buddhism there are a few very pivotal events in life. Being born a human (who has a Buddha Nature ie capacity to become enlightened) is the first. The next is coming into actual contact with the Dharma ( The Buddha's teaching. "Buddha-Dharma" ).

When Buddhists get you to do something very simple, like bowing before Kannon and offering a speck of incense, you have you accomplished what is to the Buddhist, a great passage in life. You may have live thousands of prior lives ( in their way of thinking) without ever once coming into contact with the Buddha-Dharma, and now finally you have. It's a big deal.

This is a form of initiation. Fr. Seraphim Rose ( who was a Buddhist in his youth) specifically warns of this sort of thing.

A few seasons back the TV show "Survivor" took place in Burma ( maybe it was Thailand). During the opening show they took the contestants to a Buddhist Temple for a "Welcoming Ceremony". They were to walk into the Temple with hands folded and then make a deep bow all the way to the floor. They were to then offer a bit of incense in front of the alter where there were Statues of all kinds of Buddhist Deities.

One of the contestants was a Woman who was an Evangelical Christian.. She walked into the Temple looked around and saw what they wanted her to do. To her great credit, she turned on her heals and walked out.

Jeff Probst the host was bewildered by this and argued with her a bit. He was clearly annoyed and kept saying "It's only a Welcoming Ceremony"...."It's only a Welcoming Ceremony" But by her good Christian sense, she could understand that this is not something a Christian should ever do.

You do understand that Christians were put to death in the Arena, torn apart by wild animals or hacked up by soldiers or burned alive for refusing to bow before Statues of Roman God's and offer a speck of incense to them.

What's the source of your transmission and in which tradition?

We do, indeed, have a different view, although I disagree about the characterization that it is splitting hairs. It is exactly the same distinction that needs to be made about bowing before and kissing an icon. What the person is doing and why make all the difference between reverence and idolatry. Just because it's a picture of Jesus and not of Hermes Trismegistus doesn't automatically make the action less idolatrous.

Depending on the tradition you trained in, you may have been taught that when a Buddhist bows to an image of any kind is not the piece of wood or the painting or even the being represented. It is the qualities represented in the image as manifested in ourselves, both actually and as an aspiration. We bow to a statue of Buddha out of respect for the teachings he transmitted to us, as well as in the hope that we ourselves may be able to realize those teachings. We are not bowing to a god or even a saint. Simply a deceased human being whom we respect. To equate that with the observance of a pagan Roman is really over the top.

Now, of course, if you are a Pure Land Buddhist, the image may have a different meaning altogether. That's why I emphasize intent. And I'll reiterate once more that Orthodox Christians are actually much more prone than almost any Zen person to mistake the representation of a thing for the thing itself, and thus, an object of worship. We Orthodox had generations of controversy over just this tendency in the Eighth and Ninth centuries, and it is still an ever-present danger. Icons and relics need to be used very judiciously and with quite a bit of care about what exactly we are doing.

Bowing to a statue of Kannon Bosa is for me the same thing as bowing to a beautiful sunset or a flower or a human being I respect. I cannot say what it is for you, of course, and I don't mind being challenged on the point; but I see no reason at all to allow you, Seraphim Rose, or anyone else to define my actions for me or to assume in the absence of any discussion with me that they know what I am doing or why. You speak about what you think Buddhists as a whole believe, and I question whether that's either possible or advisable. I am speaking about what I personally believe, and my belief isn't that unusual, even among Zen Buddhists who aren't also Orthodox Christians. Certainly, some Buddhists think and believe as you've described. But there are 400 million of them, so there is a range of expression.

I think what this really hinges on is our understanding of joriki and toriki. If we see salvation as something that operates from the outside in, the danger is a little greater that one will end up reifying the concept represented by the image. The kingdom of God is within us. A religious image is at most a reflection of that kingdom. Or to quote a Chinese proverb, the treasure of the house doesn't enter by the gate.

Please do not use a general discussion about what some Buddhists believe to try to knock down a specific individual's practice, especially when their specific beliefs differ from the general ones you've outlined.

I dont have much time right now. I have to take my Valentine out to dinner soon.

I dont ascribe to the "Real Buddha" is the Buddha within. I will write at length later when I have more time.

I am ordained as a "Gakato" ( Priest with a secular Job) in the Honmon Butsuryu Shu Sect of Nichiren Buddhism. I also have done extensive zazen and taught Buddhism and sitting meditation as part of a Buddhist Prison Ministry. 

Actually, I am a "Riest"  the Japanese Bishop ( Bishop equivalent) sounded out.. Priest.. when he wrote out my transmission papers..So he dropped the P and wrote an R.... Funny
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2011, 03:57:19 PM »

The idea that people are inherently enlightened took hold in Japan in the 14th Century after the lifetimes of the Great Japanese sages, Nichiren, Dogen, Saicho, Kobo,and the rest.  The doctrine is called “Hongaku-Shi so” or  or more commonly “Original Enlightenment”.

There has always been a sort of Hongaku in Buddhism but how it was thought of changed in the 14th century. Until the change , it meant that the common person inherently posses the capacity for enlightenment. They had "Buddha Nature". People are like a fertile field ready for the seed of enlightenment to be planted.

This changed to “People are already Buddhas inherently” so therefore the Buddha Nature became "The Buddha". People are already the field and seed both. Practice then becomes a method of realizing your already existing enlightenment. You are “Originally Enlightened
.”
In the truer form, you have capacity, the Buddha (who actually exists) has enlightenment and you bridge the gap via your faith. Faith is both mental agreement (the Mind of Faith) and physically practicing ( Chanting, Meditation etc.).

Hongaku has enjoyed ups and downs in popularity. It is consciously taught to Americans/Westerners. The Japanese understand that Western converts are often running away from Christianity or Judaism and want to spin Buddhism in a manner that is sale-able.
I have a close friend who is a well known translator of Nichiren who once confronted a high ranking Priest and asked him:

”Why don’t you tell these people the Truth”?

 In other words why are you teaching them Hongaku? His answer was: “They would never believe it” ( the authentic teachings)

Hogaku ( Original enlightenment) has some similarities to Christian Gnosticism. In one of Elaine Pagles books about Gnostic beliefs she tells the story of speaking to an American Buddhist Monk. He said that if he knew what Christianity “really taught” ( Gnosticism) he probably would never have become a Buddhist.

There are many implications to   a Hongaku styled World View. Mandalas become mere symbols since the "Real Buddha" is always within yourself. The Sutra’s are not the Truth, the Truth is your own experience, since you are a Buddha.
At times this thinking has led to considerable debauchery in Japan. An immoral act is fine since it is the act of a Buddha (we are all Buddha’s deep down inside).

Everything becomes a symbol  or a metaphor and a reflection or a mirror to the central Truth which is that you are a Buddha inherently.  

This is not the teaching of the great Buddhist sages. To them the Buddha was..... imminent..... up close, accessible via faith and practice. “Imminent” is different than inherent.

Unfortunately, Hongaku zealots have produced forgeries under the name of the Great Teachers to make it look as if they are in agreement with all this. Sometimes the document is made up out of whole cloth and sometimes an existing treatise is altered and this Hongaku doctrine is inserted.

This heresy has influenced all the Buddhist Schools. The largest Nichiren group, the Soka Gakkai, is very caught up with this Hongaku idea. They have well over 20 million members. However, no writing by Nichiren that teaches Hongaku has ever been authenticated. Not one , not ever. They are all frauds…………..Go figure
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 04:11:08 PM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2011, 12:59:34 PM »

The idea that people are inherently enlightened took hold in Japan in the 14th Century after the lifetimes of the Great Japanese sages, Nichiren, Dogen, Saicho, Kobo,and the rest.  The doctrine is called “Hongaku-Shi so” or  or more commonly “Original Enlightenment”.

There has always been a sort of Hongaku in Buddhism but how it was thought of changed in the 14th century. Until the change , it meant that the common person inherently posses the capacity for enlightenment. They had "Buddha Nature". People are like a fertile field ready for the seed of enlightenment to be planted.

This changed to “People are already Buddhas inherently” so therefore the Buddha Nature became "The Buddha". People are already the field and seed both. Practice then becomes a method of realizing your already existing enlightenment. You are “Originally Enlightened
.”
In the truer form, you have capacity, the Buddha (who actually exists) has enlightenment and you bridge the gap via your faith. Faith is both mental agreement (the Mind of Faith) and physically practicing ( Chanting, Meditation etc.).

Hongaku has enjoyed ups and downs in popularity. It is consciously taught to Americans/Westerners. The Japanese understand that Western converts are often running away from Christianity or Judaism and want to spin Buddhism in a manner that is sale-able.
I have a close friend who is a well known translator of Nichiren who once confronted a high ranking Priest and asked him:

”Why don’t you tell these people the Truth”?

 In other words why are you teaching them Hongaku? His answer was: “They would never believe it” ( the authentic teachings)

Hogaku ( Original enlightenment) has some similarities to Christian Gnosticism. In one of Elaine Pagles books about Gnostic beliefs she tells the story of speaking to an American Buddhist Monk. He said that if he knew what Christianity “really taught” ( Gnosticism) he probably would never have become a Buddhist.

There are many implications to   a Hongaku styled World View. Mandalas become mere symbols since the "Real Buddha" is always within yourself. The Sutra’s are not the Truth, the Truth is your own experience, since you are a Buddha.
At times this thinking has led to considerable debauchery in Japan. An immoral act is fine since it is the act of a Buddha (we are all Buddha’s deep down inside).

Everything becomes a symbol  or a metaphor and a reflection or a mirror to the central Truth which is that you are a Buddha inherently.  

This is not the teaching of the great Buddhist sages. To them the Buddha was..... imminent..... up close, accessible via faith and practice. “Imminent” is different than inherent.

Unfortunately, Hongaku zealots have produced forgeries under the name of the Great Teachers to make it look as if they are in agreement with all this. Sometimes the document is made up out of whole cloth and sometimes an existing treatise is altered and this Hongaku doctrine is inserted.

This heresy has influenced all the Buddhist Schools. The largest Nichiren group, the Soka Gakkai, is very caught up with this Hongaku idea. They have well over 20 million members. However, no writing by Nichiren that teaches Hongaku has ever been authenticated. Not one , not ever. They are all frauds…………..Go figure


The notion that immoral acts are fine because we are all inherently enlightened (as, for example, in the doctrine of "Imperial Way Zen") was--and is acknowledged by modern Buddhists to have been--one of the great perversions of the Buddha's teachings. Immoral acts are never "OK." Anyone doubting this should take a look at the extremely extensive literature on ethics, morality, and the behavior of monks.

I don't believe your statement that the doctrine of Original Mind arose in the 14th century and that anything purporting to be an earlier appearance of that teaching is a forgery is entirely accurate. Certainly, there are plenty of made up stories in all religions, but that would have had to be very systematic and very complete a job of forgery to have included as much as it did--the entire 95 fascicles of Shobogenzo, for example, and many early sources in all their translated versions.

In any event, I'm not sure what your point is?

As you point out, though, many of Nichiren's followers have been closely associated with a variety of heresies over the years. Most mainstream Buddhists (certainly those outside Japan) would probably regard Soka Gakkai as an heretical group, not genuinely Buddhist--roughly the way Orthodox Christians regard Jehovah's Witnesses.
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2011, 07:46:30 PM »

The notion that immoral acts are fine because we are all inherently enlightened (as, for example, in the doctrine of "Imperial Way Zen") was--and is acknowledged by modern Buddhists to have been--one of the great perversions of the Buddha's teachings. Immoral acts are never "OK." Anyone doubting this should take a look at the extremely extensive literature on ethics, morality, and the behavior of monks.

While you probably won't find this kind of nonsense among some of the more sober Chinese and Theravada Buddhists, Japanese Zen and Tibetan Tantric groups can be rife with it. The problem is that in these traditions the disciple is supposed to regard the master as an enlightened being and there is a strong pressure to regard his immoral acts as esoteric expressions of enlightenment. So if your master sleeps with his students, spends all his monastery's cash to buy himself fancy cars, or is a warmongering nationalist or an alcoholic, these all somehow have to explained away as examples of "crazy wisdom" which only seem immoral to the deluded, unenlightened student. Consider the Karmapa controversy- the Tibetan Karma Kagyu lineage is split in two, because different sets of "enlightened" tulkus recognize a different Karmapa, and accuse each other of lying, thievery, and even murder. Why are these supposed emanations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas bickering? Someone told me, "maybe it's just a test for us, to resist the temptation to judge our gurus."

I don't think "Imperial Zen" has gone away. The Soto sect has renounced it, but I think most of the Rinzai sects have yet to do so.
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« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2011, 09:35:11 PM »

The idea that people are inherently enlightened took hold in Japan in the 14th Century after the lifetimes of the Great Japanese sages, Nichiren, Dogen, Saicho, Kobo,and the rest.  The doctrine is called “Hongaku-Shi so” or  or more commonly “Original Enlightenment”.

There has always been a sort of Hongaku in Buddhism but how it was thought of changed in the 14th century. Until the change , it meant that the common person inherently posses the capacity for enlightenment. They had "Buddha Nature". People are like a fertile field ready for the seed of enlightenment to be planted.

This changed to “People are already Buddhas inherently” so therefore the Buddha Nature became "The Buddha". People are already the field and seed both. Practice then becomes a method of realizing your already existing enlightenment. You are “Originally Enlightened
.”
In the truer form, you have capacity, the Buddha (who actually exists) has enlightenment and you bridge the gap via your faith. Faith is both mental agreement (the Mind of Faith) and physically practicing ( Chanting, Meditation etc.).

Hongaku has enjoyed ups and downs in popularity. It is consciously taught to Americans/Westerners. The Japanese understand that Western converts are often running away from Christianity or Judaism and want to spin Buddhism in a manner that is sale-able.
I have a close friend who is a well known translator of Nichiren who once confronted a high ranking Priest and asked him:

”Why don’t you tell these people the Truth”?

 In other words why are you teaching them Hongaku? His answer was: “They would never believe it” ( the authentic teachings)

Hogaku ( Original enlightenment) has some similarities to Christian Gnosticism. In one of Elaine Pagles books about Gnostic beliefs she tells the story of speaking to an American Buddhist Monk. He said that if he knew what Christianity “really taught” ( Gnosticism) he probably would never have become a Buddhist.

There are many implications to   a Hongaku styled World View. Mandalas become mere symbols since the "Real Buddha" is always within yourself. The Sutra’s are not the Truth, the Truth is your own experience, since you are a Buddha.
At times this thinking has led to considerable debauchery in Japan. An immoral act is fine since it is the act of a Buddha (we are all Buddha’s deep down inside).

Everything becomes a symbol  or a metaphor and a reflection or a mirror to the central Truth which is that you are a Buddha inherently.  

This is not the teaching of the great Buddhist sages. To them the Buddha was..... imminent..... up close, accessible via faith and practice. “Imminent” is different than inherent.

Unfortunately, Hongaku zealots have produced forgeries under the name of the Great Teachers to make it look as if they are in agreement with all this. Sometimes the document is made up out of whole cloth and sometimes an existing treatise is altered and this Hongaku doctrine is inserted.

This heresy has influenced all the Buddhist Schools. The largest Nichiren group, the Soka Gakkai, is very caught up with this Hongaku idea. They have well over 20 million members. However, no writing by Nichiren that teaches Hongaku has ever been authenticated. Not one , not ever. They are all frauds…………..Go figure


The notion that immoral acts are fine because we are all inherently enlightened (as, for example, in the doctrine of "Imperial Way Zen") was--and is acknowledged by modern Buddhists to have been--one of the great perversions of the Buddha's teachings. Immoral acts are never "OK." Anyone doubting this should take a look at the extremely extensive literature on ethics, morality, and the behavior of monks.

I don't believe your statement that the doctrine of Original Mind arose in the 14th century and that anything purporting to be an earlier appearance of that teaching is a forgery is entirely accurate. Certainly, there are plenty of made up stories in all religions, but that would have had to be very systematic and very complete a job of forgery to have included as much as it did--the entire 95 fascicles of Shobogenzo, for example, and many early sources in all their translated versions.

In any event, I'm not sure what your point is?

As you point out, though, many of Nichiren's followers have been closely associated with a variety of heresies over the years. Most mainstream Buddhists (certainly those outside Japan) would probably regard Soka Gakkai as an heretical group, not genuinely Buddhist--roughly the way Orthodox Christians regard Jehovah's Witnesses.

I don't believe your statement that the doctrine of Original Mind arose in the 14th century and that anything purporting to be an earlier appearance of that teaching is a forgery is entirely accurate. Certainly, there are plenty of made up stories in all religions, but that would have had to be very systematic and very complete a job of forgery to have included as much as it did--the entire 95 fascicles of Shobogenzo, for example, and many early sources in all their translated versions.

You need to be careful not to confuse legitimate images of inherency with the later corrupt form.
I am not entirely certain what you mean by "Original Mind" but the idea in Zen of returning to an unfettered natural Mind in not corrupt Hongaku.
Zen teaches that Birds express their Birdness naturally and unfettered. A Tree it's Treeness etc. Only Humans over lay lots of crap on top of their clear Mind. The idea is to return to the clear- Original Mind- of a Human.

That can easily slip into the heresy that I was speaking of. Since we can through practice have this clear natural Mind, we therefore are enlightened Inherently. That is not the intent of the Shobogenzo or other authentic Zen Teachings. though I would not be shocked if later scoundrels added corrupt Hongaku imagery to those idea's.

It takes awhile to spot the tell tale signs of the corrupt form.  

In any event, I'm not sure what your point is?<<

The point you made earlier that it's okay to bow to a likeness of Kannon  because she is a mere representation of your inner self seemed to draw from corrupt Original Enlightenment idea's.

>>As you point out, though, many of Nichiren's followers have been closely associated with a variety of heresies over the years. Most mainstream Buddhists (certainly those outside Japan) would probably regard Soka Gakkai as an heretical group, not genuinely Buddhist--roughly the way Orthodox Christians regard Jehovah's Witnesses. <<

Many Buddhist are jealous of the success of the Soka Gakkai. While they damn them in one instance, they wish they could be as popular with the next.

There is a difference between the Soka Gakkai and the other Nichiren Sects. No educated person familiar with them could rightly accuse the Main Stream Nichiren groups of not being Buddhist.

http://www.nichiren-shu.org/

 The Soka Gakkai does strain credibility. They have adopted a Health Wealth and Happiness approach and also the a fore mentioned corrupt Hongaku philosophy.  



« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 09:39:28 PM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2011, 09:43:34 AM »

The idea that people are inherently enlightened took hold in Japan in the 14th Century after the lifetimes of the Great Japanese sages, Nichiren, Dogen, Saicho, Kobo,and the rest.  The doctrine is called “Hongaku-Shi so” or  or more commonly “Original Enlightenment”.

There has always been a sort of Hongaku in Buddhism but how it was thought of changed in the 14th century. Until the change , it meant that the common person inherently posses the capacity for enlightenment. They had "Buddha Nature". People are like a fertile field ready for the seed of enlightenment to be planted.

This changed to “People are already Buddhas inherently” so therefore the Buddha Nature became "The Buddha". People are already the field and seed both. Practice then becomes a method of realizing your already existing enlightenment. You are “Originally Enlightened
.”
In the truer form, you have capacity, the Buddha (who actually exists) has enlightenment and you bridge the gap via your faith. Faith is both mental agreement (the Mind of Faith) and physically practicing ( Chanting, Meditation etc.).

Hongaku has enjoyed ups and downs in popularity. It is consciously taught to Americans/Westerners. The Japanese understand that Western converts are often running away from Christianity or Judaism and want to spin Buddhism in a manner that is sale-able.
I have a close friend who is a well known translator of Nichiren who once confronted a high ranking Priest and asked him:

”Why don’t you tell these people the Truth”?

 In other words why are you teaching them Hongaku? His answer was: “They would never believe it” ( the authentic teachings)

Hogaku ( Original enlightenment) has some similarities to Christian Gnosticism. In one of Elaine Pagles books about Gnostic beliefs she tells the story of speaking to an American Buddhist Monk. He said that if he knew what Christianity “really taught” ( Gnosticism) he probably would never have become a Buddhist.

There are many implications to   a Hongaku styled World View. Mandalas become mere symbols since the "Real Buddha" is always within yourself. The Sutra’s are not the Truth, the Truth is your own experience, since you are a Buddha.
At times this thinking has led to considerable debauchery in Japan. An immoral act is fine since it is the act of a Buddha (we are all Buddha’s deep down inside).

Everything becomes a symbol  or a metaphor and a reflection or a mirror to the central Truth which is that you are a Buddha inherently.  

This is not the teaching of the great Buddhist sages. To them the Buddha was..... imminent..... up close, accessible via faith and practice. “Imminent” is different than inherent.

Unfortunately, Hongaku zealots have produced forgeries under the name of the Great Teachers to make it look as if they are in agreement with all this. Sometimes the document is made up out of whole cloth and sometimes an existing treatise is altered and this Hongaku doctrine is inserted.

This heresy has influenced all the Buddhist Schools. The largest Nichiren group, the Soka Gakkai, is very caught up with this Hongaku idea. They have well over 20 million members. However, no writing by Nichiren that teaches Hongaku has ever been authenticated. Not one , not ever. They are all frauds…………..Go figure


The notion that immoral acts are fine because we are all inherently enlightened (as, for example, in the doctrine of "Imperial Way Zen") was--and is acknowledged by modern Buddhists to have been--one of the great perversions of the Buddha's teachings. Immoral acts are never "OK." Anyone doubting this should take a look at the extremely extensive literature on ethics, morality, and the behavior of monks.

I don't believe your statement that the doctrine of Original Mind arose in the 14th century and that anything purporting to be an earlier appearance of that teaching is a forgery is entirely accurate. Certainly, there are plenty of made up stories in all religions, but that would have had to be very systematic and very complete a job of forgery to have included as much as it did--the entire 95 fascicles of Shobogenzo, for example, and many early sources in all their translated versions.

In any event, I'm not sure what your point is?

As you point out, though, many of Nichiren's followers have been closely associated with a variety of heresies over the years. Most mainstream Buddhists (certainly those outside Japan) would probably regard Soka Gakkai as an heretical group, not genuinely Buddhist--roughly the way Orthodox Christians regard Jehovah's Witnesses.

I don't believe your statement that the doctrine of Original Mind arose in the 14th century and that anything purporting to be an earlier appearance of that teaching is a forgery is entirely accurate. Certainly, there are plenty of made up stories in all religions, but that would have had to be very systematic and very complete a job of forgery to have included as much as it did--the entire 95 fascicles of Shobogenzo, for example, and many early sources in all their translated versions.

You need to be careful not to confuse legitimate images of inherency with the later corrupt form.
I am not entirely certain what you mean by "Original Mind" but the idea in Zen of returning to an unfettered natural Mind in not corrupt Hongaku.
Zen teaches that Birds express their Birdness naturally and unfettered. A Tree it's Treeness etc. Only Humans over lay lots of crap on top of their clear Mind. The idea is to return to the clear- Original Mind- of a Human.

That can easily slip into the heresy that I was speaking of. Since we can through practice have this clear natural Mind, we therefore are enlightened Inherently. That is not the intent of the Shobogenzo or other authentic Zen Teachings. though I would not be shocked if later scoundrels added corrupt Hongaku imagery to those idea's.

It takes awhile to spot the tell tale signs of the corrupt form.  

In any event, I'm not sure what your point is?<<

The point you made earlier that it's okay to bow to a likeness of Kannon  because she is a mere representation of your inner self seemed to draw from corrupt Original Enlightenment idea's.

>>As you point out, though, many of Nichiren's followers have been closely associated with a variety of heresies over the years. Most mainstream Buddhists (certainly those outside Japan) would probably regard Soka Gakkai as an heretical group, not genuinely Buddhist--roughly the way Orthodox Christians regard Jehovah's Witnesses. <<

Many Buddhist are jealous of the success of the Soka Gakkai. While they damn them in one instance, they wish they could be as popular with the next.

There is a difference between the Soka Gakkai and the other Nichiren Sects. No educated person familiar with them could rightly accuse the Main Stream Nichiren groups of not being Buddhist.

http://www.nichiren-shu.org/

 The Soka Gakkai does strain credibility. They have adopted a Health Wealth and Happiness approach and also the a fore mentioned corrupt Hongaku philosophy.  





Yes, I'm familiar with the difference. I've done a little work with Nichiren monks and found them sincere and rather inspiring. But I know I don't need to tell you that Soka Gakai has some very scary tendencies. I won't tax them with accusations of nationalism, since every Buddhist school (and all the Christians, too, I might add) went right along with the militarization of Japan and the rape of China and Asia generally. But in their present form they feel distinctly cult-like, sort of like a Japanese version of Scientology, but with less outlandish mythology.
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2011, 10:03:10 AM »

The notion that immoral acts are fine because we are all inherently enlightened (as, for example, in the doctrine of "Imperial Way Zen") was--and is acknowledged by modern Buddhists to have been--one of the great perversions of the Buddha's teachings. Immoral acts are never "OK." Anyone doubting this should take a look at the extremely extensive literature on ethics, morality, and the behavior of monks.

While you probably won't find this kind of nonsense among some of the more sober Chinese and Theravada Buddhists, Japanese Zen and Tibetan Tantric groups can be rife with it. The problem is that in these traditions the disciple is supposed to regard the master as an enlightened being and there is a strong pressure to regard his immoral acts as esoteric expressions of enlightenment. So if your master sleeps with his students, spends all his monastery's cash to buy himself fancy cars, or is a warmongering nationalist or an alcoholic, these all somehow have to explained away as examples of "crazy wisdom" which only seem immoral to the deluded, unenlightened student. Consider the Karmapa controversy- the Tibetan Karma Kagyu lineage is split in two, because different sets of "enlightened" tulkus recognize a different Karmapa, and accuse each other of lying, thievery, and even murder. Why are these supposed emanations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas bickering? Someone told me, "maybe it's just a test for us, to resist the temptation to judge our gurus."

I don't think "Imperial Zen" has gone away. The Soto sect has renounced it, but I think most of the Rinzai sects have yet to do so.

It's Imperial Way Buddhism (or Christianity), all sects bought in, as did all Christians. The principle has been repudiated officially, but of course there are still nationalists in all areas of Japanese society.

No rational Zen student sees his master as fully enlightened. The master is a place-holder, if you will, representing Buddha, Dogen, Rinzai, etc. The master ought (one hopes) to have realized his true nature to a much higher degree than the student, so is deserving of respect. Surrendering the ego, as far as this is possible, is for the benefit of the student (and by extension all beings), not the master. The exact same relationship exists in all Christian monasteries, either of the East or the West. All bow to the decisions of the abbot, as well as to their monastic superiors. He is described in the rules as being in the place of Christ. There's no difference at all between the two traditions, except that Japanese tend to be a little more skeptical about it.

Immoral acts are immoral, period.

Having sex with one's students is more complicated a question in our society. I personally feel it is always wrong, but in a society where casual sex is regarded as normative and even healthy, it is not too surprising that boundaries such as these are more porous than we might wish. I don't see how sex under those conditions can be fully consensual, but I know circumstances where it was. It also creates resentment among other students, especially if the teacher's lover gets advanced ahead of others, which I've also seen. So I want to be clear: I am in no way defending it. I'm simply saying in mixed communities of adults, in a society that glorifies practically every manifestation of sex, it is not at all surprising. A good tree produces good fruit. Our society isn't a good tree.

Financial problems are often due to a teacher's incompetence, or to delegating too much oversight to others. But just as in the Christian world (can you say OCA or Antiochian Archdiocese?), money is a huge temptation. Best to keep communities small and poor, in my view.
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« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2011, 10:11:02 AM »

Quote

The SGI was the lay organization for a legit Nichrien branch, the Nichiren Shoshu. They had diverged from authentic Nichiren-ism in the 1400's. They adopted a concept called "Hongaku Shi so". Everyone is the Buddha, you need only practice to bring out this inherent Buddha-hood. Lots of Japanese Buddhism was infected by this idea and you can see it all round today. When you see the metaphor " Polish the Mirror of your life to reflect your Buddhahood" it is representative of this concept.

Nichiren had a far different idea. He took the Eternal Buddha seriously and believed in his actual existence ( he was not a metaphor for the "Buddha within"). Nichiren started out as a Tendai Shu monk whom as you pointed out take the Lotus Sutra ( "Hokkeyo" jap.) as the final and supreme teaching of Buddhism.

They believe as does the Nichiren Sect that as we travel in time further and further away from the Buddha's temporal life in India, the capacity of the ordinary person to practice diminishes. At the point in time of master Tendai (538-597)  in China, it was believed that we were about to enter the final Dharma age, "Mappo". Capacity is so degraded in Mappo that the only way people can reache enlightenment is directly from the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni.

The Tendai shu and Nichiren in his early career believed that Buddhist practice was only for a few talented people. They used all kinds of complicated Esoteric practices not suited for everyday use by the common folk. It was on that point that Nichiren evetually broke away and developed a practice so simple and elegant that everyone, Monk and commoner alike could practice it. It was also so potent that a devoted person could reach enlightenment in his current body.

The formula was thus. The Lotus Sutra is the Buddha's highest teaching. It contains the entirety of his enlightenment. The entire Sutra and all of it's merits is contained in it's title "Myoho Renge Kyo".. The Buddha's Dharma ( his word) and the Buddha are identical. Therefore if one hears the Title of the Sutra ( by chanting it) with faith ( adding " Namu" or "devotion to". Thus making the entire recitation "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo") you had the complete practice.

When one takes in the entire Dharma by hearing it, the seed of enlightenment is thereby planted within your life. After awhile one takes notice like a pregnant women who does not at first feel her child but later becomes aware of him ( Paraphrase of Nichiren). Nichiren belived that you thus commune with the Buddha who actually indwells within you, transforms you and leads you to enlightenment which you cannot ( In Mappo) reach by your own power.

So:

The Buddha actually exists as a Divine Supreme Being who has eternal life.

All people have the ability to become enlightend, not just a seperate class of Monks

The Word ( The Sutra) and the Person are for all intents and purposes identical in merit.

You achieve enlightenment by communion with this Supreme Being and by his grace alone.      

You commune by hearing the Dharma encapsulated in an easy to use form, the Title of the Hokkeyo .

The Buddha thereby indwells within your life and transforms you..

Sound at all familiar ?... Nichiren was a smart cookie. He got an awful lot right.  

( Yes, it was the Mongol invasion)

It was virtually the same rationale as that of the Pure Land school, except in place of the title of a sutra they chant the Nembutsu, the name of the Amida Butsu, the buddha of the Western Pure Land.

As far as simplicity, it is hard to imagine anything simpler than Dogen's zazen. Just sit. But here we are squabbling like a bunch of Japanese pigeons! LOL
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« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2011, 11:43:46 AM »

The idea that people are inherently enlightened took hold in Japan in the 14th Century after the lifetimes of the Great Japanese sages, Nichiren, Dogen, Saicho, Kobo,and the rest.  The doctrine is called “Hongaku-Shi so” or  or more commonly “Original Enlightenment”.

There has always been a sort of Hongaku in Buddhism but how it was thought of changed in the 14th century. Until the change , it meant that the common person inherently posses the capacity for enlightenment. They had "Buddha Nature". People are like a fertile field ready for the seed of enlightenment to be planted.

This changed to “People are already Buddhas inherently” so therefore the Buddha Nature became "The Buddha". People are already the field and seed both. Practice then becomes a method of realizing your already existing enlightenment. You are “Originally Enlightened
.”
In the truer form, you have capacity, the Buddha (who actually exists) has enlightenment and you bridge the gap via your faith. Faith is both mental agreement (the Mind of Faith) and physically practicing ( Chanting, Meditation etc.).

Hongaku has enjoyed ups and downs in popularity. It is consciously taught to Americans/Westerners. The Japanese understand that Western converts are often running away from Christianity or Judaism and want to spin Buddhism in a manner that is sale-able.
I have a close friend who is a well known translator of Nichiren who once confronted a high ranking Priest and asked him:

”Why don’t you tell these people the Truth”?

 In other words why are you teaching them Hongaku? His answer was: “They would never believe it” ( the authentic teachings)

Hogaku ( Original enlightenment) has some similarities to Christian Gnosticism. In one of Elaine Pagles books about Gnostic beliefs she tells the story of speaking to an American Buddhist Monk. He said that if he knew what Christianity “really taught” ( Gnosticism) he probably would never have become a Buddhist.

There are many implications to   a Hongaku styled World View. Mandalas become mere symbols since the "Real Buddha" is always within yourself. The Sutra’s are not the Truth, the Truth is your own experience, since you are a Buddha.
At times this thinking has led to considerable debauchery in Japan. An immoral act is fine since it is the act of a Buddha (we are all Buddha’s deep down inside).

Everything becomes a symbol  or a metaphor and a reflection or a mirror to the central Truth which is that you are a Buddha inherently.  

This is not the teaching of the great Buddhist sages. To them the Buddha was..... imminent..... up close, accessible via faith and practice. “Imminent” is different than inherent.

Unfortunately, Hongaku zealots have produced forgeries under the name of the Great Teachers to make it look as if they are in agreement with all this. Sometimes the document is made up out of whole cloth and sometimes an existing treatise is altered and this Hongaku doctrine is inserted.

This heresy has influenced all the Buddhist Schools. The largest Nichiren group, the Soka Gakkai, is very caught up with this Hongaku idea. They have well over 20 million members. However, no writing by Nichiren that teaches Hongaku has ever been authenticated. Not one , not ever. They are all frauds…………..Go figure


The notion that immoral acts are fine because we are all inherently enlightened (as, for example, in the doctrine of "Imperial Way Zen") was--and is acknowledged by modern Buddhists to have been--one of the great perversions of the Buddha's teachings. Immoral acts are never "OK." Anyone doubting this should take a look at the extremely extensive literature on ethics, morality, and the behavior of monks.

I don't believe your statement that the doctrine of Original Mind arose in the 14th century and that anything purporting to be an earlier appearance of that teaching is a forgery is entirely accurate. Certainly, there are plenty of made up stories in all religions, but that would have had to be very systematic and very complete a job of forgery to have included as much as it did--the entire 95 fascicles of Shobogenzo, for example, and many early sources in all their translated versions.

In any event, I'm not sure what your point is?

As you point out, though, many of Nichiren's followers have been closely associated with a variety of heresies over the years. Most mainstream Buddhists (certainly those outside Japan) would probably regard Soka Gakkai as an heretical group, not genuinely Buddhist--roughly the way Orthodox Christians regard Jehovah's Witnesses.

I don't believe your statement that the doctrine of Original Mind arose in the 14th century and that anything purporting to be an earlier appearance of that teaching is a forgery is entirely accurate. Certainly, there are plenty of made up stories in all religions, but that would have had to be very systematic and very complete a job of forgery to have included as much as it did--the entire 95 fascicles of Shobogenzo, for example, and many early sources in all their translated versions.

You need to be careful not to confuse legitimate images of inherency with the later corrupt form.
I am not entirely certain what you mean by "Original Mind" but the idea in Zen of returning to an unfettered natural Mind in not corrupt Hongaku.
Zen teaches that Birds express their Birdness naturally and unfettered. A Tree it's Treeness etc. Only Humans over lay lots of crap on top of their clear Mind. The idea is to return to the clear- Original Mind- of a Human.

That can easily slip into the heresy that I was speaking of. Since we can through practice have this clear natural Mind, we therefore are enlightened Inherently. That is not the intent of the Shobogenzo or other authentic Zen Teachings. though I would not be shocked if later scoundrels added corrupt Hongaku imagery to those idea's.

It takes awhile to spot the tell tale signs of the corrupt form.  

In any event, I'm not sure what your point is?<<

The point you made earlier that it's okay to bow to a likeness of Kannon  because she is a mere representation of your inner self seemed to draw from corrupt Original Enlightenment idea's.

>>As you point out, though, many of Nichiren's followers have been closely associated with a variety of heresies over the years. Most mainstream Buddhists (certainly those outside Japan) would probably regard Soka Gakkai as an heretical group, not genuinely Buddhist--roughly the way Orthodox Christians regard Jehovah's Witnesses. <<

Many Buddhist are jealous of the success of the Soka Gakkai. While they damn them in one instance, they wish they could be as popular with the next.

There is a difference between the Soka Gakkai and the other Nichiren Sects. No educated person familiar with them could rightly accuse the Main Stream Nichiren groups of not being Buddhist.

http://www.nichiren-shu.org/

 The Soka Gakkai does strain credibility. They have adopted a Health Wealth and Happiness approach and also the a fore mentioned corrupt Hongaku philosophy.  





Yes, I'm familiar with the difference. I've done a little work with Nichiren monks and found them sincere and rather inspiring. But I know I don't need to tell you that Soka Gakai has some very scary tendencies. I won't tax them with accusations of nationalism, since every Buddhist school (and all the Christians, too, I might add) went right along with the militarization of Japan and the rape of China and Asia generally. But in their present form they feel distinctly cult-like, sort of like a Japanese version of Scientology, but with less outlandish mythology.

Yup.. I agree
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« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2011, 01:24:24 PM »

Actually Christianity has a rather long history in Japan, dating back to the 700s.  It died out in the 1100s…devolving and being mixed with bit of Daoism and Buddhism and the like.  The largest Buddhist monastery in Japan is built on the ruins of one of the last Nestorian churches in Japan in the 11th century. One of its timbers still survives with a few words of Syrian script, a Gospel portion, visible upon it and can be seen in the national museum.

So even though Nestorian Christianity died out, a lot of its ideas lingered and took root in Japanese popular religious culture:

http://www.syriacstudies.com/AFSS/Syriac_Articles_in_English/Entries/2009/5/6_SYRIAN_NESTORIANISM_IN_JAPAN__.html

That is very interesting. I makes you wonder.

It doesn't make me wonder.  I've seen this sort of thing before and I did some research on it for this thread from 2004. http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3357.45.html The Mrs. Gordon mentioned was part of it and I do not think that she should be considered a good resource.  

Further, while I have not been able so far to find out the precise quote by "noted English scholar, Professor Lewis Bush" nor what its source is (and the ellipses in the quote make me suspicious) the idea that there was "complete indifference" to knowledge and memory of Prince Shotoku is astounding to the point of being imho ridiculous.  The prince put forth the first constitution in which he promoted Buddhism http://www.sarudama.com/japanese_history/jushichijokenpo.shtml  
He promoted the founding of at least one Buddhist temple and there are statues of him.  He was certainly remembered enough to be controversial:  http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/shotoku-taishi.html  
He was not forgotten, but mentioned in the Kojiki and his image was put in a 10,000 yen note. Here is a picture of one from 1958: http://cuip.uchicago.edu/~tonli/wit2002/Yen2.htm
  
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Ebor

And here is more from another old thread about a copy of the Nestorian stele from Xian which was put up on Mt. Koya in 1911 http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11272.0.html
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« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2011, 04:17:19 PM »

  
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2011, 11:03:05 PM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2011, 11:06:38 PM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley

If you discount SGI, is that still the case?
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« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2011, 11:49:54 AM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley

If you discount SGI, is that still the case?

If you discount the Catholic Church is Christianity still a major religion?

If you discount Prosperity Mega Churches, are Evengelicals still a major faction?

Etc.

Like them or not, the SGI is a legit lineage stemming from Nikko Shonin one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. No one should say they not  "Real" Nichiren Buddhists. The other Nichiren sects would not say that except in a fit of pique.

Yes, they are political ( the are the 3rd largest Party in Japan) and they have dumbed down Nichiren's formula...Much like Protestants have done to Christianity.. No?
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« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2011, 01:07:17 PM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley
Just because there are a lot of them doesn't make them orthodox. And I believe it is actually Soka Gakai that outnumbers the other sects, not Nichirenshu per se. The traditional form of Nichiren (the one that has monks and stuff) is pretty small, compared to Sotoshu and the Pure Land schools.

It's pretty easily settled. Do you know how many Nichiren temples or priests there are in Japan? I don't, so this is a real question. NOT including Soka Gakai.
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« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2011, 04:45:44 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.
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« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2011, 05:26:09 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

That is simply not correct. No expert or scholar with a reputation to protect would say the SGI is not a legitimate form of Nichiren Buddhism. That is not to say that people jealous of their success would not throw rocks but that's all it would be.

lets review:

Do they  have a legitimate lineage?

Yes, without question. They come from the Nikko school. He was one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. Now they would say Nikko was Nichiren's sole heir, which is incorrect but all Japanese groups like to puff up their founders reputation. Par for the course IMHO.

Do they practice Nichiren's formula for enlightenment?

Again, without question. They chant the "Daimoku"  (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and recite the essential portions of the Lotus Sutra. They use the "DaiMandara" or "Gohonzon" as their Object of Worship. Those are the basic elements of Nichirenism.

Now they have adopted the false Metaphysical View of Hongaku Shiso as I wrote about earlier. But most of the current Japanese sects have either flirted with that philosophy or teach it outright.

They have a fearless leader, Daisaku Ikeda but he does not fit the exact mold of cult leaders like Sun Yung Moon.
It is true that many if not most SGI members hang on every trite word he speaks, but it is not at all a requirement. I know many SGI members who are not at all fans of his and have lived within the SGI for decades.  

They have added a strong dose of "Humanism" to their idea's. Happiness in this life. That is not a heresy.

They are not very intellectual. They dont have the snob appeal of many other forms of Buddhism it is true. they have as members more than a few Artists, Musicians and Actors: Patrick Duffy, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner.... She credits her SGI practice for giving her the strength to leave Ike.
Go ahead and tell her she isn't "Really" a Buddhist.  

I recall just recently seeing a Musician being interview after he won a Grammy ( I cant remember his name). he talked very simply about about what a mess he used to be and how Buddhism ( SGI) had changed him.

 Years ago they would go down to the red-light district here in DC and convert Prostitutes. They would go into Prisons. They would build community centers in poorer areas. They are the sole Buddhist sect in the USA to have a very large number of African Americans as members.  

Talk is cheap
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« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2011, 05:34:41 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

Well, the statement that the differences aren't as pronounced as between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is flat wrong. To Buddhists, Christians look the same, too, hardly any significant differences. All Christians believe that Christ rose from the dead--even Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses believe that. They believe that He was born of Mary in Bethlehem, and they believe in the prophecies of the Old Testament. They pray to the same God and they all worship Jesus as His Son. They squabble about bread and what happens esoterically during some of their ceremonies, but on all the main points they see things pretty much the same way...

So you see how dangerous it can be to generalize. A Vajrayana Buddhist has no more in common with a Nichiren adherent than an Episcopalian does with a holy roller. And Zen Buddhists and ALL other sects differ profoundly on the fundamental teachings of what it means to be an enlightened human being. They are really complete polar opposites in terms of how they define the process and the experience.
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« Reply #31 on: March 02, 2011, 05:43:38 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

Well, the statement that the differences aren't as pronounced as between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is flat wrong. To Buddhists, Christians look the same, too, hardly any significant differences. All Christians believe that Christ rose from the dead--even Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses believe that. They believe that He was born of Mary in Bethlehem, and they believe in the prophecies of the Old Testament. They pray to the same God and they all worship Jesus as His Son. They squabble about bread and what happens esoterically during some of their ceremonies, but on all the main points they see things pretty much the same way...

So you see how dangerous it can be to generalize. A Vajrayana Buddhist has no more in common with a Nichiren adherent than an Episcopalian does with a holy roller. And Zen Buddhists and ALL other sects differ profoundly on the fundamental teachings of what it means to be an enlightened human being. They are really complete polar opposites in terms of how they define the process and the experience.

Sorry, I don't think you understand Buddhism much at all.
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« Reply #32 on: March 02, 2011, 05:49:43 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

That is simply not correct. No expert or scholar with a reputation to protect would say the SGI is not a legitimate form of Nichiren Buddhism. That is not to say that people jealous of their success would not throw rocks but that's all it would be.

lets review:

Do they  have a legitimate lineage?

Yes, without question. They come from the Nikko school. He was one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. Now they would say Nikko was Nichiren's sole heir, which is incorrect but all Japanese groups like to puff up their founders reputation. Par for the course IMHO.

Do they practice Nichiren's formula for enlightenment?

Again, without question. They chant the "Daimoku"  (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and recite the essential portions of the Lotus Sutra. They use the "DaiMandara" or "Gohonzon" as their Object of Worship. Those are the basic elements of Nichirenism.

Now they have adopted the false Metaphysical View of Hongaku Shiso as I wrote about earlier. But most of the current Japanese sects have either flirted with that philosophy or teach it outright.

They have a fearless leader, Daisaku Ikeda but he does not fit the exact mold of cult leaders like Sun Yung Moon.
It is true that many if not most SGI members hang on every trite word he speaks, but it is not at all a requirement. I know many SGI members who are not at all fans of his and have lived within the SGI for decades.  

They have added a strong dose of "Humanism" to their idea's. Happiness in this life. That is not a heresy.

They are not very intellectual. They dont have the snob appeal of many other forms of Buddhism it is true. they have as members more than a few Artists, Musicians and Actors: Patrick Duffy, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner.... She credits her SGI practice for giving her the strength to leave Ike.
Go ahead and tell her she isn't "Really" a Buddhist.  

I recall just recently seeing a Musician being interview after he won a Grammy ( I cant remember his name). he talked very simply about about what a mess he used to be and how Buddhism ( SGI) had changed him.

 Years ago they would go down to the red-light district here in DC and convert Prostitutes. They would go into Prisons. They would build community centers in poorer areas. They are the sole Buddhist sect in the USA to have a very large number of African Americans as members.  

Talk is cheap

Marc- I'm not invested in Buddhism anymore, I'm just relaying the attitude I encountered among Buddhists, of various persuasions. The question isn't whether SGI does good stuff for people (can we please ignore the celebrity testimonies? Otherwise Scientology starts to look promising) but whether it's Buddhist. You argue that it is. I'm not going to disagree.
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« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2011, 05:51:59 PM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley
Just because there are a lot of them doesn't make them orthodox. And I believe it is actually Soka Gakai that outnumbers the other sects, not Nichirenshu per se. The traditional form of Nichiren (the one that has monks and stuff) is pretty small, compared to Sotoshu and the Pure Land schools.

It's pretty easily settled. Do you know how many Nichiren temples or priests there are in Japan? I don't, so this is a real question. NOT including Soka Gakai.

The SGI has around 8.3 million members in Japan and about 12 million World Wide;

The Nichiren Shu has around 3 to 5 million members in Japan. I dont know how many outside of Japan. There are six or seven Nichiren Shu Temples here in the USA.

Several Nichiren groups like Honmon Butsuryushu ( "Hapoon Ha"..Eight Chapters branch) have at least one million members and it's sister sect the Hokke Shu with another million. There are probably one or two more that size or close to it. I would think Nichiren Shoshu which the SGI came out of retains around one million

The Risso Kosikai probably has at least 3 million members.

Then there are a dozen or more small sects in the range of 30 to 60 thousand members. Kempon Hokke Shu, Fuju Fuse ha, and others.  
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« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2011, 05:52:57 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, T'ien-tai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

That is simply not correct. No expert or scholar with a reputation to protect would say the SGI is not a legitimate form of Nichiren Buddhism. That is not to say that people jealous of their success would not throw rocks but that's all it would be.

lets review:

Do they  have a legitimate lineage?

Yes, without question. They come from the Nikko school. He was one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. Now they would say Nikko was Nichiren's sole heir, which is incorrect but all Japanese groups like to puff up their founders reputation. Par for the course IMHO.

Do they practice Nichiren's formula for enlightenment?

Again, without question. They chant the "Daimoku"  (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and recite the essential portions of the Lotus Sutra. They use the "DaiMandara" or "Gohonzon" as their Object of Worship. Those are the basic elements of Nichirenism.

Now they have adopted the false Metaphysical View of Hongaku Shiso as I wrote about earlier. But most of the current Japanese sects have either flirted with that philosophy or teach it outright.

They have a fearless leader, Daisaku Ikeda but he does not fit the exact mold of cult leaders like Sun Yung Moon.
It is true that many if not most SGI members hang on every trite word he speaks, but it is not at all a requirement. I know many SGI members who are not at all fans of his and have lived within the SGI for decades.  

They have added a strong dose of "Humanism" to their idea's. Happiness in this life. That is not a heresy.

They are not very intellectual. They dont have the snob appeal of many other forms of Buddhism it is true. they have as members more than a few Artists, Musicians and Actors: Patrick Duffy, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner.... She credits her SGI practice for giving her the strength to leave Ike.
Go ahead and tell her she isn't "Really" a Buddhist.  

I recall just recently seeing a Musician being interview after he won a Grammy ( I cant remember his name). he talked very simply about about what a mess he used to be and how Buddhism ( SGI) had changed him.

 Years ago they would go down to the red-light district here in DC and convert Prostitutes. They would go into Prisons. They would build community centers in poorer areas. They are the sole Buddhist sect in the USA to have a very large number of African Americans as members.  

Talk is cheap

Almost any religion is preferable to active drug addiction or alcoholism. I am speaking from some experience here. And don't forget that Jim Jones was a well-known community activist with impressive credentials (or so it seemed) before he started messing with Kool-Aid recipes. (Rev. Moon wasn't always regarded as a crazy, either, and still commands some respect in Korea.) You are right about the presence of Nichiren/SGI teachings in the African American community. At least some of that success is due to the message of material prosperity than many Evangelical Protestant churches preach to the same community. Like Rev. Ike.

I can only say the few times I attended Nichiren or SGI services in the US they scared the crap out of me. I was a devout Buddhist for several decades and prepared to be sympathetic to almost any effort to spread the Dharma, although not a pushover. As I've written elsewhere, I worked a few times with Nichiren peace activists and was moved by their integrity and sincerity. What I saw and felt in those temples, though, was something else, and it was frightening.
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« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2011, 05:56:30 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

That is simply not correct. No expert or scholar with a reputation to protect would say the SGI is not a legitimate form of Nichiren Buddhism. That is not to say that people jealous of their success would not throw rocks but that's all it would be.

lets review:

Do they  have a legitimate lineage?

Yes, without question. They come from the Nikko school. He was one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. Now they would say Nikko was Nichiren's sole heir, which is incorrect but all Japanese groups like to puff up their founders reputation. Par for the course IMHO.

Do they practice Nichiren's formula for enlightenment?

Again, without question. They chant the "Daimoku"  (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and recite the essential portions of the Lotus Sutra. They use the "DaiMandara" or "Gohonzon" as their Object of Worship. Those are the basic elements of Nichirenism.

Now they have adopted the false Metaphysical View of Hongaku Shiso as I wrote about earlier. But most of the current Japanese sects have either flirted with that philosophy or teach it outright.

They have a fearless leader, Daisaku Ikeda but he does not fit the exact mold of cult leaders like Sun Yung Moon.
It is true that many if not most SGI members hang on every trite word he speaks, but it is not at all a requirement. I know many SGI members who are not at all fans of his and have lived within the SGI for decades.  

They have added a strong dose of "Humanism" to their idea's. Happiness in this life. That is not a heresy.

They are not very intellectual. They dont have the snob appeal of many other forms of Buddhism it is true. they have as members more than a few Artists, Musicians and Actors: Patrick Duffy, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner.... She credits her SGI practice for giving her the strength to leave Ike.
Go ahead and tell her she isn't "Really" a Buddhist.  

I recall just recently seeing a Musician being interview after he won a Grammy ( I cant remember his name). he talked very simply about about what a mess he used to be and how Buddhism ( SGI) had changed him.

 Years ago they would go down to the red-light district here in DC and convert Prostitutes. They would go into Prisons. They would build community centers in poorer areas. They are the sole Buddhist sect in the USA to have a very large number of African Americans as members.  

Talk is cheap

Marc- I'm not invested in Buddhism anymore, I'm just relaying the attitude I encountered among Buddhists, of various persuasions. The question isn't whether SGI does good stuff for people (can we please ignore the celebrity testimonies? Otherwise Scientology starts to look promising) but whether it's Buddhist. You argue that it is. I'm not going to disagree.

But the basis for smearing them as not real Buddhists is based on actions not doctrinal or historical analysis. Testimonies cut both ways. Live by the anecdote then die by it too.

There is no legitimate reason for saying they are not Buddhists. It's just a way to  insult them.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2011, 05:57:18 PM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2011, 06:00:13 PM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley
Just because there are a lot of them doesn't make them orthodox. And I believe it is actually Soka Gakai that outnumbers the other sects, not Nichirenshu per se. The traditional form of Nichiren (the one that has monks and stuff) is pretty small, compared to Sotoshu and the Pure Land schools.

It's pretty easily settled. Do you know how many Nichiren temples or priests there are in Japan? I don't, so this is a real question. NOT including Soka Gakai.

The SGI has around 8.3 million members in Japan and about 12 million World Wide;

The Nichiren Shu has around 3 to 5 million members in Japan. I dont know how many outside of Japan. There are six or seven Nichiren Shu Temples here in the USA.

Several Nichiren groups like Honmon Butsuryushu ( "Hapoon Ha"..Eight Chapters branch) have at least one million members and it's sister sect the Hokke Shu with another million. There are probably one or two more that size or close to it. I would think Nichiren Shoshu which the SGI came out of retains around one million

The Risso Kosikai probably has at least 3 million members.

Then there are a dozen or more small sects in the range of 30 to 60 thousand members. Kempon Hokke Shu, Fuju Fuse ha, and others.  

Sotoshu Shumucho claims about 15,000 temples in Japan and roughly 20 million adherents. It's hard to measure international membership--most US communities aren't registered, for example. But roughly the same amount overseas seems about right. Soto has large communities in Brazil (more than in the US) and Peru, as well as the US, Europe, and Southern Africa, the rest of Asia, etc. (I'm not combining Japanese Sotowith Chinese or Korean forms.)

I think we've gotten very far away from the topic.
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« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2011, 06:01:14 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, T'ien-tai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

That is simply not correct. No expert or scholar with a reputation to protect would say the SGI is not a legitimate form of Nichiren Buddhism. That is not to say that people jealous of their success would not throw rocks but that's all it would be.

lets review:

Do they  have a legitimate lineage?

Yes, without question. They come from the Nikko school. He was one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. Now they would say Nikko was Nichiren's sole heir, which is incorrect but all Japanese groups like to puff up their founders reputation. Par for the course IMHO.

Do they practice Nichiren's formula for enlightenment?

Again, without question. They chant the "Daimoku"  (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and recite the essential portions of the Lotus Sutra. They use the "DaiMandara" or "Gohonzon" as their Object of Worship. Those are the basic elements of Nichirenism.

Now they have adopted the false Metaphysical View of Hongaku Shiso as I wrote about earlier. But most of the current Japanese sects have either flirted with that philosophy or teach it outright.

They have a fearless leader, Daisaku Ikeda but he does not fit the exact mold of cult leaders like Sun Yung Moon.
It is true that many if not most SGI members hang on every trite word he speaks, but it is not at all a requirement. I know many SGI members who are not at all fans of his and have lived within the SGI for decades.  

They have added a strong dose of "Humanism" to their idea's. Happiness in this life. That is not a heresy.

They are not very intellectual. They dont have the snob appeal of many other forms of Buddhism it is true. they have as members more than a few Artists, Musicians and Actors: Patrick Duffy, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner.... She credits her SGI practice for giving her the strength to leave Ike.
Go ahead and tell her she isn't "Really" a Buddhist.  

I recall just recently seeing a Musician being interview after he won a Grammy ( I cant remember his name). he talked very simply about about what a mess he used to be and how Buddhism ( SGI) had changed him.

 Years ago they would go down to the red-light district here in DC and convert Prostitutes. They would go into Prisons. They would build community centers in poorer areas. They are the sole Buddhist sect in the USA to have a very large number of African Americans as members.  

Talk is cheap

Almost any religion is preferable to active drug addiction or alcoholism. I am speaking from some experience here. And don't forget that Jim Jones was a well-known community activist with impressive credentials (or so it seemed) before he started messing with Kool-Aid recipes. (Rev. Moon wasn't always regarded as a crazy, either, and still commands some respect in Korea.) You are right about the presence of Nichiren/SGI teachings in the African American community. At least some of that success is due to the message of material prosperity than many Evangelical Protestant churches preach to the same community. Like Rev. Ike.

I can only say the few times I attended Nichiren or SGI services in the US they scared the crap out of me. I was a devout Buddhist for several decades and prepared to be sympathetic to almost any effort to spread the Dharma, although not a pushover. As I've written elsewhere, I worked a few times with Nichiren peace activists and was moved by their integrity and sincerity. What I saw and felt in those temples, though, was something else, and it was frightening.

You didnt like the Brass Band or the Pep rally songs?

They would say that when you go to meetings of other Buddhists they are filled with nothing but University Graduate Students. Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2011, 06:02:00 PM »

For the record I do know someone who heads a local SGI chapter and she doesn't strike me as creepy or "cultish"- actually a pretty fun person to be around.
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« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2011, 06:04:20 PM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley
Just because there are a lot of them doesn't make them orthodox. And I believe it is actually Soka Gakai that outnumbers the other sects, not Nichirenshu per se. The traditional form of Nichiren (the one that has monks and stuff) is pretty small, compared to Sotoshu and the Pure Land schools.

It's pretty easily settled. Do you know how many Nichiren temples or priests there are in Japan? I don't, so this is a real question. NOT including Soka Gakai.

The SGI has around 8.3 million members in Japan and about 12 million World Wide;

The Nichiren Shu has around 3 to 5 million members in Japan. I dont know how many outside of Japan. There are six or seven Nichiren Shu Temples here in the USA.

Several Nichiren groups like Honmon Butsuryushu ( "Hapoon Ha"..Eight Chapters branch) have at least one million members and it's sister sect the Hokke Shu with another million. There are probably one or two more that size or close to it. I would think Nichiren Shoshu which the SGI came out of retains around one million

The Risso Kosikai probably has at least 3 million members.

Then there are a dozen or more small sects in the range of 30 to 60 thousand members. Kempon Hokke Shu, Fuju Fuse ha, and others.  

Sotoshu Shumucho claims about 15,000 temples in Japan and roughly 20 million adherents. It's hard to measure international membership--most US communities aren't registered, for example. But roughly the same amount overseas seems about right. Soto has large communities in Brazil (more than in the US) and Peru, as well as the US, Europe, and Southern Africa, the rest of Asia, etc. (I'm not combining Japanese Sotowith Chinese or Korean forms.)

I think we've gotten very far away from the topic.

I have heard the SGI claim 26 million members in Japan. The Japanese are very competitive with each other. And they lie  a lot. Smiley

I was just IMing a buddy who lived in a Nichiren Shu temple in  Japan for awhile. He says they have 16 Million members.. I doubt that very much.
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« Reply #40 on: March 02, 2011, 06:07:06 PM »

Quote from: Marc1152
I have heard the SGI claim 26 million members in Japan. The Japanese are very competitive with each other. And they lie  a lot. Smiley

Tokyo's 'oldest woman' missing for decades
By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Tokyo's reputed oldest woman has been missing for decades, Japanese officials have discovered as they made checks after the city's supposed oldest man was found to have died years ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-10848254  Wink



Excerpt of article added to make post compliant with current forum policy regarding naked links.  -PtA
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« Reply #41 on: March 02, 2011, 06:09:00 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

That is simply not correct. No expert or scholar with a reputation to protect would say the SGI is not a legitimate form of Nichiren Buddhism. That is not to say that people jealous of their success would not throw rocks but that's all it would be.

lets review:

Do they  have a legitimate lineage?

Yes, without question. They come from the Nikko school. He was one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. Now they would say Nikko was Nichiren's sole heir, which is incorrect but all Japanese groups like to puff up their founders reputation. Par for the course IMHO.

Do they practice Nichiren's formula for enlightenment?

Again, without question. They chant the "Daimoku"  (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and recite the essential portions of the Lotus Sutra. They use the "DaiMandara" or "Gohonzon" as their Object of Worship. Those are the basic elements of Nichirenism.

Now they have adopted the false Metaphysical View of Hongaku Shiso as I wrote about earlier. But most of the current Japanese sects have either flirted with that philosophy or teach it outright.

They have a fearless leader, Daisaku Ikeda but he does not fit the exact mold of cult leaders like Sun Yung Moon.
It is true that many if not most SGI members hang on every trite word he speaks, but it is not at all a requirement. I know many SGI members who are not at all fans of his and have lived within the SGI for decades.  

They have added a strong dose of "Humanism" to their idea's. Happiness in this life. That is not a heresy.

They are not very intellectual. They dont have the snob appeal of many other forms of Buddhism it is true. they have as members more than a few Artists, Musicians and Actors: Patrick Duffy, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner.... She credits her SGI practice for giving her the strength to leave Ike.
Go ahead and tell her she isn't "Really" a Buddhist.  

I recall just recently seeing a Musician being interview after he won a Grammy ( I cant remember his name). he talked very simply about about what a mess he used to be and how Buddhism ( SGI) had changed him.

 Years ago they would go down to the red-light district here in DC and convert Prostitutes. They would go into Prisons. They would build community centers in poorer areas. They are the sole Buddhist sect in the USA to have a very large number of African Americans as members.  

Talk is cheap

Marc- I'm not invested in Buddhism anymore, I'm just relaying the attitude I encountered among Buddhists, of various persuasions. The question isn't whether SGI does good stuff for people (can we please ignore the celebrity testimonies? Otherwise Scientology starts to look promising) but whether it's Buddhist. You argue that it is. I'm not going to disagree.

But the basis for smearing them as not real Buddhists is based on actions not doctrinal or historical analysis. Testimonies cut both ways. Live by the anecdote then die by it too.

There is no legitimate reason for saying they are not Buddhists. It's just a way to  insult them.


Aren't you doing the same thing when you say they are cut off from God's grace? Not just Nichirens, but all Buddhists: God has damned them eternally, all of them. (Along with most Christians, btw.) That's much more serious than an uninformed layperson making an uninformed statement about Buddhism.
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« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2011, 06:13:54 PM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

That is simply not correct. No expert or scholar with a reputation to protect would say the SGI is not a legitimate form of Nichiren Buddhism. That is not to say that people jealous of their success would not throw rocks but that's all it would be.

lets review:

Do they  have a legitimate lineage?

Yes, without question. They come from the Nikko school. He was one of Nichiren's hand picked heirs. Now they would say Nikko was Nichiren's sole heir, which is incorrect but all Japanese groups like to puff up their founders reputation. Par for the course IMHO.

Do they practice Nichiren's formula for enlightenment?

Again, without question. They chant the "Daimoku"  (Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) and recite the essential portions of the Lotus Sutra. They use the "DaiMandara" or "Gohonzon" as their Object of Worship. Those are the basic elements of Nichirenism.

Now they have adopted the false Metaphysical View of Hongaku Shiso as I wrote about earlier. But most of the current Japanese sects have either flirted with that philosophy or teach it outright.

They have a fearless leader, Daisaku Ikeda but he does not fit the exact mold of cult leaders like Sun Yung Moon.
It is true that many if not most SGI members hang on every trite word he speaks, but it is not at all a requirement. I know many SGI members who are not at all fans of his and have lived within the SGI for decades.  

They have added a strong dose of "Humanism" to their idea's. Happiness in this life. That is not a heresy.

They are not very intellectual. They dont have the snob appeal of many other forms of Buddhism it is true. they have as members more than a few Artists, Musicians and Actors: Patrick Duffy, Herbie Hancock, Tina Turner.... She credits her SGI practice for giving her the strength to leave Ike.
Go ahead and tell her she isn't "Really" a Buddhist.  

I recall just recently seeing a Musician being interview after he won a Grammy ( I cant remember his name). he talked very simply about about what a mess he used to be and how Buddhism ( SGI) had changed him.

 Years ago they would go down to the red-light district here in DC and convert Prostitutes. They would go into Prisons. They would build community centers in poorer areas. They are the sole Buddhist sect in the USA to have a very large number of African Americans as members.  

Talk is cheap

Marc- I'm not invested in Buddhism anymore, I'm just relaying the attitude I encountered among Buddhists, of various persuasions. The question isn't whether SGI does good stuff for people (can we please ignore the celebrity testimonies? Otherwise Scientology starts to look promising) but whether it's Buddhist. You argue that it is. I'm not going to disagree.

But the basis for smearing them as not real Buddhists is based on actions not doctrinal or historical analysis. Testimonies cut both ways. Live by the anecdote then die by it too.

There is no legitimate reason for saying they are not Buddhists. It's just a way to  insult them.


Aren't you doing the same thing when you say they are cut off from God's grace? Not just Nichirens, but all Buddhists: God has damned them eternally, all of them. (Along with most Christians, btw.) That's much more serious than an uninformed layperson making an uninformed statement about Buddhism.


I didnt follow that exactly.. FYI, I wasn't a Layman.
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« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2011, 06:38:24 PM »

None of the Buddhist sects consider the others "damned" or anything like that, especially when it comes to the Mahayana offshoots that emerged in China and spread to Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, and also Tibetan Buddhism. There are disagreements but it is rare that the differences amount to accusations of heresy. Go to any Chan temple and you will probably see Pure Land practiced there. Near me there is a Buddhist monastery in the grand Chinese Mahayana tradition- they are followers of Yin Shun- but they also study Theravada writings and their co-abbot is Bhikkhu Bodhi, a world-renowned Theravada scholar. Vajrayana teachers will routinely tell their students that the hinayana and mahayana paths are legitimate teachings of the Buddha- they are just slower paths to enlightenment than the lightning-quick tantra path.

Buddhist cosmology and soteriology remains remarkably consistent across the different sects. The differences that arise tend to be new "layers" upon the common system- for example, the Dzogchen and Kalachakra cosmologies are different but not contradictory.

The difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is far more profound. A Chan Buddhist can say of a Pure Land Buddhist that the latter's teaching comes from the Buddha. He would have no choice but to say so because Chan, like all Mahayana sects, accepts the common Mahayana canon which includes the Pure Land sutras which are the basis of specific Pure Land practice. Some Mahayanists might question some of the Vajrayana tantras but the tantric practices are still recognizable as stemming from common Buddhist principles.

Even the broadly differing philosophical schools- Madhyamika, Yogacara, etc.- can be made compatible and a number of teachers have proposed systems for reconciling them.

The same sort of thing cannot be said of Protestantism- there are no specficially Protestant scriptures, or specifically Roman Catholic scriptures, or anything else of the sort that we accept, which would make these heresies acceptable paths within the Church.
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« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2011, 07:12:34 PM »

None of the Buddhist sects consider the others "damned" or anything like that, especially when it comes to the Mahayana offshoots that emerged in China and spread to Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, and also Tibetan Buddhism. There are disagreements but it is rare that the differences amount to accusations of heresy. Go to any Chan temple and you will probably see Pure Land practiced there. Near me there is a Buddhist monastery in the grand Chinese Mahayana tradition- they are followers of Yin Shun- but they also study Theravada writings and their co-abbot is Bhikkhu Bodhi, a world-renowned Theravada scholar. Vajrayana teachers will routinely tell their students that the hinayana and mahayana paths are legitimate teachings of the Buddha- they are just slower paths to enlightenment than the lightning-quick tantra path.

Buddhist cosmology and soteriology remains remarkably consistent across the different sects. The differences that arise tend to be new "layers" upon the common system- for example, the Dzogchen and Kalachakra cosmologies are different but not contradictory.

The difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is far more profound. A Chan Buddhist can say of a Pure Land Buddhist that the latter's teaching comes from the Buddha. He would have no choice but to say so because Chan, like all Mahayana sects, accepts the common Mahayana canon which includes the Pure Land sutras which are the basis of specific Pure Land practice. Some Mahayanists might question some of the Vajrayana tantras but the tantric practices are still recognizable as stemming from common Buddhist principles.

Even the broadly differing philosophical schools- Madhyamika, Yogacara, etc.- can be made compatible and a number of teachers have proposed systems for reconciling them.

The same sort of thing cannot be said of Protestantism- there are no specficially Protestant scriptures, or specifically Roman Catholic scriptures, or anything else of the sort that we accept, which would make these heresies acceptable paths within the Church.

You keep making this point over and over, and I keep disagreeing with it over and over. I think you're wrong. I think the differences between a Teravadin Buddhist and a tantric Buddhist are at least as significant as the differences between Orthodox and Anglicans, for example. If you were able to step back from Christianity and see it with the eyes of a non-Christian, many of the sects would seem quite similar. ALL Christians believe in the Risen Christ. I just last night heard a fundamentalist Mormon pray a prayer that could have come out of the mouth of an Episcopalian, a Methodist, or even a liberal Catholic. To the non-Christian Buddhist, the differences between the various sects, liturgies aside, would seem very small indeed. Leavened vs. unleavened? Even the larger issues  would seem more like preferences than like fundamental differences.

Not, for example, like the difference between Chan and Pure Land. Those two sects happen to like each other, but their approach to and teaching about the path of enlightenment (even the source of  enlightenment) is exactly 100% diametrically opposite.

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« Reply #45 on: March 02, 2011, 07:23:40 PM »

None of the Buddhist sects consider the others "damned" or anything like that, especially when it comes to the Mahayana offshoots that emerged in China and spread to Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, and also Tibetan Buddhism. There are disagreements but it is rare that the differences amount to accusations of heresy. Go to any Chan temple and you will probably see Pure Land practiced there. Near me there is a Buddhist monastery in the grand Chinese Mahayana tradition- they are followers of Yin Shun- but they also study Theravada writings and their co-abbot is Bhikkhu Bodhi, a world-renowned Theravada scholar. Vajrayana teachers will routinely tell their students that the hinayana and mahayana paths are legitimate teachings of the Buddha- they are just slower paths to enlightenment than the lightning-quick tantra path.

Buddhist cosmology and soteriology remains remarkably consistent across the different sects. The differences that arise tend to be new "layers" upon the common system- for example, the Dzogchen and Kalachakra cosmologies are different but not contradictory.

The difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is far more profound. A Chan Buddhist can say of a Pure Land Buddhist that the latter's teaching comes from the Buddha. He would have no choice but to say so because Chan, like all Mahayana sects, accepts the common Mahayana canon which includes the Pure Land sutras which are the basis of specific Pure Land practice. Some Mahayanists might question some of the Vajrayana tantras but the tantric practices are still recognizable as stemming from common Buddhist principles.

Even the broadly differing philosophical schools- Madhyamika, Yogacara, etc.- can be made compatible and a number of teachers have proposed systems for reconciling them.

The same sort of thing cannot be said of Protestantism- there are no specficially Protestant scriptures, or specifically Roman Catholic scriptures, or anything else of the sort that we accept, which would make these heresies acceptable paths within the Church.

You keep making this point over and over, and I keep disagreeing with it over and over. I think you're wrong. I think the differences between a Teravadin Buddhist and a tantric Buddhist are at least as significant as the differences between Orthodox and Anglicans, for example. If you were able to step back from Christianity and see it with the eyes of a non-Christian, many of the sects would seem quite similar.

I was a Buddhist for several years. Everything I'm saying comes from my observatons and studies at that time, and not, as you are claiming, from me as an outsider-looking-in . I was told, again and again, by teachers and gurus of various traditions, that the differences are not fundamental. Tantric Buddhists do not consider Theravada heretical or false. At most, they'll say that it's a slower, less advanced path. Read or listen to any basic introduction to Vajrayana and you will probably har about the "three vehicles", one building up on the other.  Theravadins may, at times, express suspicion about Tantra (and Mahayana in general) and suggest that their Buddhism is "purer" but they won't deny that the Tibetans are buddhist.


Quote
Not, for example, like the difference between Chan and Pure Land. Those two sects happen to like each other, but their approach to and teaching about the path of enlightenment (even the source of  enlightenment) is exactly 100% diametrically opposite.

Then why does practically every Chan temple practice Pure Land? Why did so many teachers from both traditions conclude that both taught the same thing?
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« Reply #46 on: March 03, 2011, 07:49:20 AM »

Here's a case of Theravada and Vajrayana nuns going to a Chan master to receive full bhikshuni ordination:

http://www.thubtenchodron.org/BuddhistNunsMonasticLife/the_international_full_ordination_ceremony_in_bodhgaya.html

And this isn't the only time this has happened. Can you imagine Orthodox nuns going to an Anglican monastery to receive tonsure?
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« Reply #47 on: March 03, 2011, 01:12:58 PM »

None of the Buddhist sects consider the others "damned" or anything like that, especially when it comes to the Mahayana offshoots that emerged in China and spread to Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, and also Tibetan Buddhism. There are disagreements but it is rare that the differences amount to accusations of heresy. Go to any Chan temple and you will probably see Pure Land practiced there. Near me there is a Buddhist monastery in the grand Chinese Mahayana tradition- they are followers of Yin Shun- but they also study Theravada writings and their co-abbot is Bhikkhu Bodhi, a world-renowned Theravada scholar. Vajrayana teachers will routinely tell their students that the hinayana and mahayana paths are legitimate teachings of the Buddha- they are just slower paths to enlightenment than the lightning-quick tantra path.

Buddhist cosmology and soteriology remains remarkably consistent across the different sects. The differences that arise tend to be new "layers" upon the common system- for example, the Dzogchen and Kalachakra cosmologies are different but not contradictory.

The difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is far more profound. A Chan Buddhist can say of a Pure Land Buddhist that the latter's teaching comes from the Buddha. He would have no choice but to say so because Chan, like all Mahayana sects, accepts the common Mahayana canon which includes the Pure Land sutras which are the basis of specific Pure Land practice. Some Mahayanists might question some of the Vajrayana tantras but the tantric practices are still recognizable as stemming from common Buddhist principles.

Even the broadly differing philosophical schools- Madhyamika, Yogacara, etc.- can be made compatible and a number of teachers have proposed systems for reconciling them.

The same sort of thing cannot be said of Protestantism- there are no superficially Protestant scriptures, or specifically Roman Catholic scriptures, or anything else of the sort that we accept, which would make these heresies acceptable paths within the Church.

You keep making this point over and over, and I keep disagreeing with it over and over. I think you're wrong. I think the differences between a Teravadin Buddhist and a tantric Buddhist are at least as significant as the differences between Orthodox and Anglicans, for example. If you were able to step back from Christianity and see it with the eyes of a non-Christian, many of the sects would seem quite similar.

I was a Buddhist for several years. Everything I'm saying comes from my observations and studies at that time, and not, as you are claiming, from me as an outsider-looking-in . I was told, again and again, by teachers and gurus of various traditions, that the differences are not fundamental. Tantric Buddhists do not consider Theravada heretical or false. At most, they'll say that it's a slower, less advanced path. Read or listen to any basic introduction to Vajrayana and you will probably hear about the "three vehicles", one building up on the other.  Theravadins may, at times, express suspicion about Tantra (and Mahayana in general) and suggest that their Buddhism is "purer" but they won't deny that the Tibetans are Buddhist.


Quote
Not, for example, like the difference between Chan and Pure Land. Those two sects happen to like each other, but their approach to and teaching about the path of enlightenment (even the source of  enlightenment) is exactly 100% diametrically opposite.

Then why does practically every Chan temple practice Pure Land? Why did so many teachers from both traditions conclude that both taught the same thing?

The two commonly overlap in China, but the same is not true in Japan. After the Manchu takeover of the Chinese central government, religion became very mixed. The Manchus, of course, were Mongolian/Tibetan Buddhists. I don't know too much about Chinese Buddhism in the 15th--19th centuries. When a new strand of Zen came to Japan in the 17th century, however, it did not achieve much popularity. The new school was the Obaku School, and the chief barrier to popularity was the way it mixed different kinds of Buddhist practice--specifically Zen and Pure Land. Everyone was expecting something purer and closer to the source, but what they got was a jumble.

So you have to distinguish when you're talking about these schools which country you're referring to. Vietnam is another entirely different issue, for example.

Also, since Buddhism isn't a "revealed" religion in the same sense as Christianity and Judaism (i.e., the scriptures aren't divinely inspired), the fact that scriptures may differ widely is less of a problem than it would be for Christians of Jews. Orthodox and Catholics would not say they use the same Bible. But the difference in some of the basic Buddhist texts is just as profound. For example, the Heart Sutra is chanted hundreds of thousands of times a day in Japanese temples in a version that is profoundly different than the one used in Chinese temples. It's not just the difference between short and long forms. The texts themselves differ profoundly in a few places. So in a very real sense Mahayana Buddhists are not using the same scriptures, and this affects the meaning of their core teachings.
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« Reply #48 on: March 03, 2011, 01:42:58 PM »


Also, since Buddhism isn't a "revealed" religion in the same sense as Christianity and Judaism (i.e., the scriptures aren't divinely inspired)....
So, the Buddha wasn't "divine"? Roll Eyes
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« Reply #49 on: March 03, 2011, 05:02:07 PM »


Also, since Buddhism isn't a "revealed" religion in the same sense as Christianity and Judaism (i.e., the scriptures aren't divinely inspired)....
So, the Buddha wasn't "divine"? Roll Eyes

Just a man.
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« Reply #50 on: March 03, 2011, 06:12:25 PM »

The two commonly overlap in China, but the same is not true in Japan. After the Manchu takeover of the Chinese central government, religion became very mixed. The Manchus, of course, were Mongolian/Tibetan Buddhists. I don't know too much about Chinese Buddhism in the 15th--19th centuries. When a new strand of Zen came to Japan in the 17th century, however, it did not achieve much popularity. The new school was the Obaku School, and the chief barrier to popularity was the way it mixed different kinds of Buddhist practice--specifically Zen and Pure Land. Everyone was expecting something purer and closer to the source, but what they got was a jumble.

This is nonsense- I think you're just pulling theories out of your back pocket.  The mixing is just a natural expression of the Mahayana concept of "skillful means" (upaya). All Chinese Mahayana Buddhists accepted the same big canon of scriptures from India. All of these sutras were considered authoritative and taught by the Buddha, including not only the Lotus Sutra or the Flower Ornament Sutra but sutras advocating particular devotional practices like the Pure Land sutras or the sutra of Ksitigharbha Bodhisattva, and also a few lower-level tantras. All the schools of Mahayana Buddhism- Chan, Pure Land, Tiantai, etc., accept this canon.  

The first purely Chinese school of Buddhism was the Tiantai school (Tendai in Japan) which tried to put forward a system for integrating this vast range of teachings and practices. The Buddha taught them all, so naturally they must fit together somehow. They took the Lotus Sutra as the highest sutra, but accepted that the varieties of seated meditation practices, and more devotionally oriented practices ike nian fo, were all valid "skillful means" for bringing people to enlightenment, according to their dispositions. The Huayan school had a similar project, but centered on the Avatamsaka Sutra. Other sutras were deemed less central but nonetheless important and edifying.

Both of these schools arose centuries before any Manchu influence and then spread to Japan. Manchus had very little influence on the common religious life in China. Tibetan Buddhism remains rather "niche" among Chinese. Vajrayana practice in general is quite rare in Chinese Buddhism.

Tiantai spread to Japan as Tendai and was the mother sect of almost all the big-name Japanese Buddhist reformers- Dogen, Shinran, Nichiren, etc. And you want to claim that the integration of various Buddhist practices is a Manchu innovation?

Eventually Chan became the dominant sect in China, absorbing the other sects. Instead of wiping out their practices, though, it tended to integrate them more.

Quote
Everyone was expecting something purer and closer to the source, but what they got was a jumble.

"Purer"? Once again, everyone in the Mahayana accepts that the Buddha taught Pure Land, Chan, etc., so how is this a question of purity?

Quote
So you have to distinguish when you're talking about these schools which country you're referring to. Vietnam is another entirely different issue, for example.

Not very different at all. Vietnamese culture is profoundly influenced by China and Buddhism is no exception.  Vietnamese Buddhism is just as "mixed" as Chinese Buddhism.

Quote
But the difference in some of the basic Buddhist texts is just as profound. For example, the Heart Sutra is chanted hundreds of thousands of times a day in Japanese temples in a version that is profoundly different than the one used in Chinese temples. It's not just the difference between short and long forms. The texts themselves differ profoundly in a few places. So in a very real sense Mahayana Buddhists are not using the same scriptures, and this affects the meaning of their core teachings.

 ???The Heart Sutra chanted in Japanese temples is just the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese translation.
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« Reply #51 on: March 05, 2011, 11:28:05 AM »

The two commonly overlap in China, but the same is not true in Japan. After the Manchu takeover of the Chinese central government, religion became very mixed. The Manchus, of course, were Mongolian/Tibetan Buddhists. I don't know too much about Chinese Buddhism in the 15th--19th centuries. When a new strand of Zen came to Japan in the 17th century, however, it did not achieve much popularity. The new school was the Obaku School, and the chief barrier to popularity was the way it mixed different kinds of Buddhist practice--specifically Zen and Pure Land. Everyone was expecting something purer and closer to the source, but what they got was a jumble.

This is nonsense- I think you're just pulling theories out of your back pocket.  The mixing is just a natural expression of the Mahayana concept of "skillful means" (upaya). All Chinese Mahayana Buddhists accepted the same big canon of scriptures from India. All of these sutras were considered authoritative and taught by the Buddha, including not only the Lotus Sutra or the Flower Ornament Sutra but sutras advocating particular devotional practices like the Pure Land sutras or the sutra of Ksitigharbha Bodhisattva, and also a few lower-level tantras. All the schools of Mahayana Buddhism- Chan, Pure Land, Tiantai, etc., accept this canon.  

The first purely Chinese school of Buddhism was the Tiantai school (Tendai in Japan) which tried to put forward a system for integrating this vast range of teachings and practices. The Buddha taught them all, so naturally they must fit together somehow. They took the Lotus Sutra as the highest sutra, but accepted that the varieties of seated meditation practices, and more devotionally oriented practices ike nian fo, were all valid "skillful means" for bringing people to enlightenment, according to their dispositions. The Huayan school had a similar project, but centered on the Avatamsaka Sutra. Other sutras were deemed less central but nonetheless important and edifying.

Both of these schools arose centuries before any Manchu influence and then spread to Japan. Manchus had very little influence on the common religious life in China. Tibetan Buddhism remains rather "niche" among Chinese. Vajrayana practice in general is quite rare in Chinese Buddhism.

Tiantai spread to Japan as Tendai and was the mother sect of almost all the big-name Japanese Buddhist reformers- Dogen, Shinran, Nichiren, etc. And you want to claim that the integration of various Buddhist practices is a Manchu innovation?

Eventually Chan became the dominant sect in China, absorbing the other sects. Instead of wiping out their practices, though, it tended to integrate them more.

Quote
Everyone was expecting something purer and closer to the source, but what they got was a jumble.

"Purer"? Once again, everyone in the Mahayana accepts that the Buddha taught Pure Land, Chan, etc., so how is this a question of purity?

Quote
So you have to distinguish when you're talking about these schools which country you're referring to. Vietnam is another entirely different issue, for example.

Not very different at all. Vietnamese culture is profoundly influenced by China and Buddhism is no exception.  Vietnamese Buddhism is just as "mixed" as Chinese Buddhism.

Quote
But the difference in some of the basic Buddhist texts is just as profound. For example, the Heart Sutra is chanted hundreds of thousands of times a day in Japanese temples in a version that is profoundly different than the one used in Chinese temples. It's not just the difference between short and long forms. The texts themselves differ profoundly in a few places. So in a very real sense Mahayana Buddhists are not using the same scriptures, and this affects the meaning of their core teachings.

 ???The Heart Sutra chanted in Japanese temples is just the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese translation.

No. The text itself is different in at least two places at the beginning. There's an additional phrase in the opening sequence, and the section "Form is emptiness, etc." (Shiki Ku I Fu Fu Ku I Shiki) is expressed differently as well, with one less line in the standard Sino-Japanese version. These aren't slight changes; they significantly alter the meaning of the text. There are no primary Sanskrit sources to consult, the Sanskrit version that exists today being a retranslation. The Kumarajiva translation (the physical document itself) is the oldest attested source. It is amazing it (and its pagoda) survived the Cultural Revolution. But there are several versions of the translation.

Vietnamese Buddhism is mixed in a different way. It is a melding of Mahayana and Theravada. It is more like what you seem to think is typical of Buddhism as a whole.
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« Reply #52 on: March 06, 2011, 02:14:02 PM »

 
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I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

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Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

While Nichiren has not been one that I have studied, it seems that all that there is is silence/no information on this point. So it looks like we're in some agreement.  Smiley

On the matter of Japanese history I have done more and any assertion that there was a Christian presence (Nestorian or otherwise) in that country prior to the coming of the Portuguese would have to have some verifiable and solid support which the various bits from the cited web site do not give. 

More fantasy instead of real history.

Ebor
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« Reply #53 on: March 06, 2011, 08:12:53 PM »

 
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I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

While Nichiren has not been one that I have studied, it seems that all that there is is silence/no information on this point. So it looks like we're in some agreement.  Smiley

On the matter of Japanese history I have done more and any assertion that there was a Christian presence (Nestorian or otherwise) in that country prior to the coming of the Portuguese would have to have some verifiable and solid support which the various bits from the cited web site do not give. 

More fantasy instead of real history.

Ebor

It's possible, however, that Japanese travelers in China encountered Christians there. Dogen spent three years in China in the 1220s, and both Kukai and Saicho spent time there as well some 400 years earlier. I believe Dogen's teacher Eisai spent some time there, too, although I may be misremembering this. I don't know how extensively any of them traveled--Dogen got around a bit in the Five Mountains region, and Kukai spent time at the imperial court, but he was only in China for a year, and China is huge. So it's really all sheer speculation. If any Christians, Nestorian or otherwise, made it to Japan before the Portuguese in the 1540s, there's no record of it.
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« Reply #54 on: March 10, 2011, 11:06:06 AM »

It's possible, however, that Japanese travelers in China encountered Christians there. Dogen spent three years in China in the 1220s, and both Kukai and Saicho spent time there as well some 400 years earlier. I believe Dogen's teacher Eisai spent some time there, too, although I may be misremembering this. I don't know how extensively any of them traveled--Dogen got around a bit in the Five Mountains region, and Kukai spent time at the imperial court, but he was only in China for a year, and China is huge. So it's really all sheer speculation. If any Christians, Nestorian or otherwise, made it to Japan before the Portuguese in the 1540s, there's no record of it.

Indeed, it is *possible* but without some kind of record it is, as you wrote, sheer speculation. China is a BIG place with a large population even back then.   But sites like the one linked to state that a Christian presence in Japan prior to the 1500s as a fact and do not support it with anything but nebulous suggestions and partial quotes from persons who are not shown to know what they're writing about.  That is not true history.

Again, I think that we seem to be in agreement.  Smiley

Ebor
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« Reply #55 on: March 10, 2011, 02:01:36 PM »

It's possible, however, that Japanese travelers in China encountered Christians there. Dogen spent three years in China in the 1220s, and both Kukai and Saicho spent time there as well some 400 years earlier. I believe Dogen's teacher Eisai spent some time there, too, although I may be misremembering this. I don't know how extensively any of them traveled--Dogen got around a bit in the Five Mountains region, and Kukai spent time at the imperial court, but he was only in China for a year, and China is huge. So it's really all sheer speculation. If any Christians, Nestorian or otherwise, made it to Japan before the Portuguese in the 1540s, there's no record of it.

Indeed, it is *possible* but without some kind of record it is, as you wrote, sheer speculation. China is a BIG place with a large population even back then.   But sites like the one linked to state that a Christian presence in Japan prior to the 1500s as a fact and do not support it with anything but nebulous suggestions and partial quotes from persons who are not shown to know what they're writing about.  That is not true history.

Again, I think that we seem to be in agreement.  Smiley

Ebor


Yep. It always amazes me how certain people can be about events that happened so long ago. It's almost like an inverse proportion: The fewer primary sources we have, the more certain we are about the implications of the ones that do exist. It's a peculiar kind of National Inquirer logic.
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« Reply #56 on: March 22, 2011, 09:26:05 AM »

It's possible, however, that Japanese travelers in China encountered Christians there. Dogen spent three years in China in the 1220s, and both Kukai and Saicho spent time there as well some 400 years earlier. I believe Dogen's teacher Eisai spent some time there, too, although I may be misremembering this. I don't know how extensively any of them traveled--Dogen got around a bit in the Five Mountains region, and Kukai spent time at the imperial court, but he was only in China for a year, and China is huge. So it's really all sheer speculation. If any Christians, Nestorian or otherwise, made it to Japan before the Portuguese in the 1540s, there's no record of it.

Indeed, it is *possible* but without some kind of record it is, as you wrote, sheer speculation. China is a BIG place with a large population even back then.   But sites like the one linked to state that a Christian presence in Japan prior to the 1500s as a fact and do not support it with anything but nebulous suggestions and partial quotes from persons who are not shown to know what they're writing about.  That is not true history.

Again, I think that we seem to be in agreement.  Smiley

Ebor


Yep. It always amazes me how certain people can be about events that happened so long ago. It's almost like an inverse proportion: The fewer primary sources we have, the more certain we are about the implications of the ones that do exist. It's a peculiar kind of National Inquirer logic.

It's the part where the real primary sources are ignored or attempts are made to twist them so that they say something that they don't that get me.  This is a case in point with the suggestion that Prince Shotoku was supporting some form of Christianity when his seventeen point constitution has a clear statement about Buddha and Buddhism. 

There's also the pattern of doubting/denying the real primary sources (imho because they don't have what the speaker/writer likes) while saying that the "real truth" (which the person does like) was suppressed or hidden or something like that.   Sigh.

Ebor
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« Reply #57 on: March 07, 2012, 04:40:48 PM »

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If you look at the way meditation, virtue, and generosity are taught here [in America], it's the exact opposite of the order in which they're taught in Asia. Here, people sign up for a retreat to learn some meditation, and only when they show up at the retreat center do they learn they're going to have to observe some precepts during the retreat. And then at the very end of the retreat they learn that before they'll be allowed to go home they're going to have to be generous. It's all backwards.

Over in Thailand, children's first exposure to Buddhism, after they've learned the gesture of respect, is in giving. You see parents taking their children by the hand as a monk comes past on his alms round, lifting them up, and helping them put a spoonful of rice into the monk's bowl. Over time, as the children start doing it themselves, the process becomes less and less mechanical, and after a while they begin to take pleasure in giving.
....
[T]he spaciousness that comes from generosity gives you the right mindset for the concentration practice, gives you the right mindset for insight practice — because when you sit down and focus on the breath, what kind of mind do you have? The mind you've been creating through your generous and virtuous actions. A spacious mind, not the narrow mind of a person who doesn't have enough. It's the spacious mind of a person who has more than enough to share, the mind of a person who has no regrets or denial over past actions. In short, it's the mind of a person who realizes that true happiness doesn't see a sharp dichotomy between your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.
"American" Buddhism has a ways to go.
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« Reply #58 on: March 10, 2012, 04:48:37 PM »

There really are no true Buddhists in the western world; most are just atheists who think they can reconcile Buddhism with rationalism, even though any Buddhist monk in the east will tell you that it is impossible and in a sense is a nihilistic philosophy. Also, I disagree with all of these various 'denominations' if you will of Buddhism. Seems like the Japanese have corrupted Buddhism from its true Thereavada form, now it is all Zen and strange offshoots of Mahayanian roots.
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« Reply #59 on: March 10, 2012, 04:56:21 PM »

There really are no true Buddhists in the western world; most are just atheists who think they can reconcile Buddhism with rationalism, even though any Buddhist monk in the east will tell you that it is impossible and in a sense is a nihilistic philosophy.
Are you saying that the Buddhist monk will claim Buddhism as nihilistic, or that the common American version of Buddhism is seen as nihilistic by Asian Buddhists?
Quote
Also, I disagree with all of these various 'denominations' if you will of Buddhism. Seems like the Japanese have corrupted Buddhism from its true Thereavada form, now it is all Zen and strange offshoots of Mahayanian roots.
Speaking as someone who values deeply the Theravada tradition, I wouldn't be so quick to give Theravada the prize for 'the only true' Buddhism.
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« Reply #60 on: March 10, 2012, 10:50:10 PM »

"Theravadin roots"... you do realize that Theravada is itself a "denomination" among the various Hinayana groups. It just happens to be the only one still existing.

Japanese Buddhism was very much corrupted, but this has to do with the meddling of the state more than anything. Mahayana tendencies elsewhere in Asia maintained their integrity much better.
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« Reply #61 on: March 11, 2012, 04:44:23 PM »

Are you saying that the Buddhist monk will claim Buddhism as nihilistic, or that the common American version of Buddhism is seen as nihilistic by Asian Buddhists?

In a sense, a little bit of both. To the American who views Buddhism through western eyes, Buddhism will seem nihilistic because of its disregard for empirical reasoning and concentration simply on the self, which is entirely foreign to the western world since scholasticism has become engrained into our culture. And if a traditional Asian Buddhist like in India or something was to see American Buddhism, it would seem nihilistic to him spiritually because of the westerner's attempt to rationalize it empirically.

Quote
Speaking as someone who values deeply the Theravada tradition, I wouldn't be so quick to give Theravada the prize for 'the only true' Buddhism.

I would, and that is coming from a former Theravada Buddhist, at least one of those strange, pseudo-intellectual former atheist American ones. Theravada Buddhism is to Buddhism what Orthodoxy is to Christianity; the original and oldest which seems to have preserved the truth of the faith. Everything else is born from schism or straying from the truth. Although, most Buddhists of all colors would disagree with me on this.

"Theravadin roots"... you do realize that Theravada is itself a "denomination" among the various Hinayana groups. It just happens to be the only one still existing.

Theravada is not a 'denomination' in Buddhism anymore than Orthodoxy is a denomination in Christianity because they are predenominational since Theravada Buddhism is the oldest and original school of Buddhism; at least historically if I am not mistaken.
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« Reply #62 on: March 11, 2012, 05:18:20 PM »

I would, and that is coming from a former Theravada Buddhist, at least one of those strange, pseudo-intellectual former atheist American ones. Theravada Buddhism is to Buddhism what Orthodoxy is to Christianity; the original and oldest which seems to have preserved the truth of the faith. Everything else is born from schism or straying from the truth. Although, most Buddhists of all colors would disagree with me on this.

The comparison simply doesn't work and ignores how Buddhism developed and how the different tendencies relate to one another. Mahayanists claim that their sutras were spoken by the Buddha as an advancement upon the initial "Hinayana" teachings. The Hinayana remains valid to them- incomplete, perhaps, but not heretical. The kind of cooperation one sees historically between Mahayanists and Theravadins would be unthinkable between Orthodoxy and other Christian groups. For example, Theravadin nuns are sometimes getting their vows from Chinese Chan monks and nuns, because the Theravadin school basically refused to ordain them. In the early days the divisions were not very sharp either- Mahayana and non-Mahayana monks would live in the same monasteries, belonged to the same lineages, etc.

Quote
Theravada is not a 'denomination' in Buddhism anymore than Orthodoxy is a denomination in Christianity because they are predenominational since Theravada Buddhism is the oldest and original school of Buddhism; at least historically if I am not mistaken

You are mistaken. Theravada is one of perhaps 20 early Buddhist sects; which one was the "original" is basically impossible to prove. It just so happens that Theravada is the only one still existing today which did not embrace Mahayana. This causes a lot of confusion to many who assume that Theravada and what Mahayanists call "Hinayana" are the same thing.
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« Reply #63 on: March 13, 2012, 12:10:54 AM »


Are you saying that the Buddhist monk will claim Buddhism as nihilistic, or that the common American version of Buddhism is seen as nihilistic by Asian Buddhists?

In a sense, a little bit of both. To the American who views Buddhism through western eyes, Buddhism will seem nihilistic because of its disregard for empirical reasoning and concentration simply on the self, which is entirely foreign to the western world since scholasticism has become engrained into our culture. And if a traditional Asian Buddhist like in India or something was to see American Buddhism, it would seem nihilistic to him spiritually because of the westerner's attempt to rationalize it empirically.

Quote
Speaking as someone who values deeply the Theravada tradition, I wouldn't be so quick to give Theravada the prize for 'the only true' Buddhism.

I would, and that is coming from a former Theravada Buddhist, at least one of those strange, pseudo-intellectual former atheist American ones. Theravada Buddhism is to Buddhism what Orthodoxy is to Christianity; the original and oldest which seems to have preserved the truth of the faith. Everything else is born from schism or straying from the truth. Although, most Buddhists of all colors would disagree with me on this.

"Theravadin roots"... you do realize that Theravada is itself a "denomination" among the various Hinayana groups. It just happens to be the only one still existing.

Theravada is not a 'denomination' in Buddhism anymore than Orthodoxy is a denomination in Christianity because they are predenominational since Theravada Buddhism is the oldest and original school of Buddhism; at least historically if I am not mistaken.


Dont be too hasty. There are lots of genuine Buddhist schools that have a pure Orthodox strain. Folk religion has gotten mixed into some but not all...by any means. 
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« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2012, 11:32:36 PM »

A bumper sticker I saw a while back:

"My Other Vehicle is the Mahayana"

 Grin
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« Reply #65 on: June 13, 2012, 02:50:34 PM »

There really are no true Buddhists in the western world;

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« Reply #66 on: June 13, 2012, 03:41:53 PM »

Is that Thich Naht Hahn?
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« Reply #67 on: June 13, 2012, 03:48:28 PM »

Is that Thich Naht Hahn?

Thich Naht Hahn?  Isn't he the brother of Scott Hahn?  Roll Eyes Roll Eyes

Ohhh....I see....you mean Thich Nhat Hanh.   Grin  IOW, this guy:

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« Reply #68 on: June 13, 2012, 03:58:58 PM »

Is that Thich Naht Hahn?

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, founder of a Theravada Buddhist monastery in West Virginia.
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« Reply #69 on: June 13, 2012, 04:01:19 PM »



He's going to have a really difficult time eating soup with a spoon like that.
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« Reply #70 on: June 13, 2012, 04:03:36 PM »



He's going to have a really difficult time eating soup with a spoon like that.

Nah....that's what he uses to skewer the noodles.
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« Reply #71 on: June 13, 2012, 04:15:58 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.
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« Reply #72 on: June 13, 2012, 04:20:43 PM »

Is that Thich Naht Hahn?

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, founder of a Theravada Buddhist monastery in West Virginia.

Shortly after leaving Islam and a few years before becoming Orthodox, I really enjoyed Bhante's teachings.  I had a book of his on the Noble Eightfold Path.  I recall it was pretty good.  But as Fr. Seraphim Rose liked to say, "Buddhism is good as far as it goes.  But it doesn't go far enough."  A study of Orthodox Patristics yields far more insightful gems into the psyche and it's dysfunctions after the fall than anything the Buddha did.  My wife bought this book for me a while back and I'm just awestruck on what the Fathers knew.



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« Reply #73 on: June 13, 2012, 04:21:20 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

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« Reply #74 on: June 13, 2012, 05:19:36 PM »

Yes, they're called Buddhists, especially Mahayana Buddhists, all of whom recognize the Lotus Sutra and other scriptures that advocate the worship of the Buddha

Not exactly. The point is NOT to worship the historical Buddha which the LS reveals as an expedient means of teaching meant for earlier spiritual epochs. It rather advocates faith in the Eternal Buddha, Lord Shakyamuni who is omni present, omniscient and eternally existing. He is considered by LS Prophets (Tendai, Saicho and Nichiren) as "Lord and Father"

Sound familiar ? 
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« Reply #75 on: July 20, 2012, 09:12:01 AM »

I don't think it makes sense to compare the different Buddhist sects to Christian denominations. Pure Land, Chan, Tiantai, Theravada, Geluk, etc. are all different Buddhist sects, but they all recognize each other as Buddhist. Even if a given school might claim that theirs is the "higher" teaching, this does not amount to the kind of division one sees between, say, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. But I doubt anyone from these sects would recognize SGI as legitimate Buddhism.

Well, the statement that the differences aren't as pronounced as between Orthodoxy and Protestantism is flat wrong. To Buddhists, Christians look the same, too, hardly any significant differences. All Christians believe that Christ rose from the dead--even Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses believe that. They believe that He was born of Mary in Bethlehem, and they believe in the prophecies of the Old Testament. They pray to the same God and they all worship Jesus as His Son. They squabble about bread and what happens esoterically during some of their ceremonies, but on all the main points they see things pretty much the same way...

So you see how dangerous it can be to generalize. A Vajrayana Buddhist has no more in common with a Nichiren adherent than an Episcopalian does with a holy roller. And Zen Buddhists and ALL other sects differ profoundly on the fundamental teachings of what it means to be an enlightened human being. They are really complete polar opposites in terms of how they define the process and the experience.

Sorry, I don't think you understand Buddhism much at all.

Thank you.
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« Reply #76 on: July 20, 2012, 09:58:24 AM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley
Just because there are a lot of them doesn't make them orthodox. And I believe it is actually Soka Gakai that outnumbers the other sects, not Nichirenshu per se. The traditional form of Nichiren (the one that has monks and stuff) is pretty small, compared to Sotoshu and the Pure Land schools.

It's pretty easily settled. Do you know how many Nichiren temples or priests there are in Japan? I don't, so this is a real question. NOT including Soka Gakai.

The SGI has around 8.3 million members in Japan and about 12 million World Wide;

The Nichiren Shu has around 3 to 5 million members in Japan. I dont know how many outside of Japan. There are six or seven Nichiren Shu Temples here in the USA.

Several Nichiren groups like Honmon Butsuryushu ( "Hapoon Ha"..Eight Chapters branch) have at least one million members and it's sister sect the Hokke Shu with another million. There are probably one or two more that size or close to it. I would think Nichiren Shoshu which the SGI came out of retains around one million

The Risso Kosikai probably has at least 3 million members.

Then there are a dozen or more small sects in the range of 30 to 60 thousand members. Kempon Hokke Shu, Fuju Fuse ha, and others.  

Sotoshu Shumucho claims about 15,000 temples in Japan and roughly 20 million adherents. It's hard to measure international membership--most US communities aren't registered, for example. But roughly the same amount overseas seems about right. Soto has large communities in Brazil (more than in the US) and Peru, as well as the US, Europe, and Southern Africa, the rest of Asia, etc. (I'm not combining Japanese Sotowith Chinese or Korean forms.)

I think we've gotten very far away from the topic.

I have heard the SGI claim 26 million members in Japan. The Japanese are very competitive with each other. And they lie  a lot. Smiley

I was just IMing a buddy who lived in a Nichiren Shu temple in  Japan for awhile. He says they have 16 Million members.. I doubt that very much.

My experience over five decades living among Japanese is that they don't lie any more than anyone else. Anyway, you might remember in this counting that many Japanese practice more than one form of Buddhism. If you add up all the membership claims, it exceeds the country's total population. Japanese Buddhist scholars say that Sotoshu, Nichiren (including SGI), and all the branches of Pure Land taken as (man would they hate that!) each have roughly the same number of adherents in Japan: somewhere between 15 million and 20 million.

I would also like to say, since I'm a pretty strong critic of SGI generally, that Ikeda-sama did a lot very good work. Not only was Japan devastated by the war; it it been morall bankrupt since at least 1910-when Japanse agents assassinated the last queen of Korea, and then solders marched in and occupied country. Pure Land, Nichiren/SGI, and the new religions seemed to speak to people's sense of bewilderment. There was also a huge Imflux of new vocations at Soto monasteries. Something similar happened in the West
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« Reply #77 on: July 20, 2012, 11:10:15 AM »

 
Quote
I have never seen anything to indicate Nichiren had any contact with Christians but as you said, some idea's may have crept into the general population. However, I think my teacher ( who is a famous translator of Nichiren) would reject the suggestion.

Quote
Without some very good and reliable support I would not believe that Nichiren had ever met any Christians nor that there was Christianity in Japan until the coming of the Portuguese in the 15th

Not unless he traveled in Western China or went to the court of the Khan, and I'm not aware that he did.

Why all this interest in Nichiren? He's one of the most unorthodox of all the reformers. His practice is exactly akin to Christians sitting around praising the title of ONE of the books of the Bible. Not reading the book, mind you, just reciting its name. "Homage to the First Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians!" Because in this degenerate time, we are unable to appreciate or understand the true meaning of the book itself, and because the title represents the contents, at least in an esoteric sense. I am simplifying and reducing to absurdity, and of course devout Nichiren Buddhists study the Lotus Sutra. And there is a way in which mantra practice can be a very deep practice. But I'm only trying to point out that Nichiren's practice is one of the least mainstream, and his is one of the sects where the least correlation with Christianity could be made.

Actually it is the mainstream. Nichiren Buddhists far out number all other sects. It must have happened while you were not looking. Smiley
Just because there are a lot of them doesn't make them orthodox. And I believe it is actually Soka Gakai that outnumbers the other sects, not Nichirenshu per se. The traditional form of Nichiren (the one that has monks and stuff) is pretty small, compared to Sotoshu and the Pure Land schools.

It's pretty easily settled. Do you know how many Nichiren temples or priests there are in Japan? I don't, so this is a real question. NOT including Soka Gakai.

The SGI has around 8.3 million members in Japan and about 12 million World Wide;

The Nichiren Shu has around 3 to 5 million members in Japan. I dont know how many outside of Japan. There are six or seven Nichiren Shu Temples here in the USA.

Several Nichiren groups like Honmon Butsuryushu ( "Hapoon Ha"..Eight Chapters branch) have at least one million members and it's sister sect the Hokke Shu with another million. There are probably one or two more that size or close to it. I would think Nichiren Shoshu which the SGI came out of retains around one million

The Risso Kosikai probably has at least 3 million members.

Then there are a dozen or more small sects in the range of 30 to 60 thousand members. Kempon Hokke Shu, Fuju Fuse ha, and others.  

Sotoshu Shumucho claims about 15,000 temples in Japan and roughly 20 million adherents. It's hard to measure international membership--most US communities aren't registered, for example. But roughly the same amount overseas seems about right. Soto has large communities in Brazil (more than in the US) and Peru, as well as the US, Europe, and Southern Africa, the rest of Asia, etc. (I'm not combining Japanese Sotowith Chinese or Korean forms.)

I think we've gotten very far away from the topic.

I have heard the SGI claim 26 million members in Japan. The Japanese are very competitive with each other. And they lie  a lot. Smiley

I was just IMing a buddy who lived in a Nichiren Shu temple in  Japan for awhile. He says they have 16 Million members.. I doubt that very much.

My experience over five decades living among Japanese is that they don't lie any more than anyone else. Anyway, you might remember in this counting that many Japanese practice more than one form of Buddhism. If you add up all the membership claims, it exceeds the country's total population. Japanese Buddhist scholars say that Sotoshu, Nichiren (including SGI), and all the branches of Pure Land taken as (man would they hate that!) each have roughly the same number of adherents in Japan: somewhere between 15 million and 20 million.

I would also like to say, since I'm a pretty strong critic of SGI generally, that Ikeda-sama did a lot very good work. Not only was Japan devastated by the war; it it been morall bankrupt since at least 1910-when Japanse agents assassinated the last queen of Korea, and then solders marched in and occupied country. Pure Land, Nichiren/SGI, and the new religions seemed to speak to people's sense of bewilderment. There was also a huge Imflux of new vocations at Soto monasteries. Something similar happened in the West


Ikeda is a classic cult guru IMHO. The difference between a "Religion" and a "Cult" is a million members Smiley

I was in a room with him once. He was sitting no more than a few feet away. I found him more impressive than I would have suspected.

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« Reply #78 on: July 20, 2012, 01:00:59 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".
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« Reply #79 on: July 20, 2012, 02:47:07 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

More like the habit we Orthodox have of referring to ourselves as the One True Church.
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« Reply #80 on: July 20, 2012, 02:53:28 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.
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« Reply #81 on: July 21, 2012, 11:15:18 AM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.
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« Reply #82 on: July 22, 2012, 07:26:51 AM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.
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« Reply #83 on: July 22, 2012, 04:55:45 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.
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« Reply #84 on: July 22, 2012, 05:15:11 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?
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« Reply #85 on: July 22, 2012, 05:32:12 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.
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« Reply #86 on: July 22, 2012, 05:57:45 PM »

I was a Zen monk for 20 years.

Wow. Good on ya!
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« Reply #87 on: July 22, 2012, 06:07:04 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!
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« Reply #88 on: July 22, 2012, 06:12:59 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!


Any idea on what do Buddhists think about Christians ? At least your entourage when you were a monk ?
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« Reply #89 on: July 22, 2012, 07:34:30 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!


Any idea on what do Buddhists think about Christians ? At least your entourage when you were a monk ?

In general we thought Christians were ignorant believers in outlandish myths. Most Western Buddhists 40 years ago were ex-Christians or -Jews. It's not surprising we bashed our former faiths.
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« Reply #90 on: July 22, 2012, 07:38:59 PM »

In general we thought Christians were ignorant believers in outlandish myths. Most Western Buddhists 40 years ago were ex-Christians or -Jews. It's not surprising we bashed our former faiths.

You didn't believe in magic and flying men when you were a buddhist? Smiley
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« Reply #91 on: July 22, 2012, 07:50:58 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!

Ditto.....

The Monks at Platina have experience with Buddhism, several are former Buddhists.

Did you practice at an American Zendo or in Japan? If American, who was the Roshi?

My dear late wife had an interesting correspondence going with Bonnie Myotai Terace, one of John Loori's heirs. She had read some article in one of the periodicals I got from them and saw she suffered from fibromyalgia. So my wife, who had no particular interest in Zen, wrote to her with some suggestions. The Roshi wrote back and for a few years they engaged in what can be called "Girl Talk".

I kept asking my wife " You do realize who she is? " A full blown Zen Master, many students, pretty famous. Yet she was just Bonnie to my wife, never tried to convert her or even mentioned Buddhism to my knowledge. They were just friends.. I was very impressed. True Zen...if you asked me.    
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« Reply #92 on: July 22, 2012, 08:11:15 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!

Ditto.....

The Monks at Platina have experience with Buddhism, several are former Buddhists.

Did you practice at an American Zendo or in Japan? If American, who was the Roshi?

My dear late wife had an interesting correspondence going with Bonnie Myotai Terace, one of John Loori's heirs. She had read some article in one of the periodicals I got from them and saw she suffered from fibromyalgia. So my wife, who had no particular interest in Zen, wrote to her with some suggestions. The Roshi wrote back and for a few years they engaged in what can be called "Girl Talk".

I kept asking my wife " You do realize who she is? " A full blown Zen Master, many students, pretty famous. Yet she was just Bonnie to my wife, never tried to convert her or even mentioned Buddhism to my knowledge. They were just friends.. I was very impressed. True Zen...if you asked me.    

Yes, I knew Myotai and Daido.

I hope it's OK if I don't go into the details of masters and lineages. I was trained in the West by Western, Japanese, and Tibetan masters.
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« Reply #93 on: July 22, 2012, 08:13:46 PM »

I have nothing of substance to add to this thread, but I used to work with a fellow who said he was a Buddhist Viking.  It struck me as odd and fairly incompatable.
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« Reply #94 on: July 22, 2012, 08:24:08 PM »

In general we thought Christians were ignorant believers in outlandish myths. Most Western Buddhists 40 years ago were ex-Christians or -Jews. It's not surprising we bashed our former faiths.

You didn't believe in magic and flying men when you were a buddhist? Smiley

Good question. Buddhists really have no place to be calling anyone else outlandish.
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« Reply #95 on: July 22, 2012, 08:27:27 PM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!

Ditto.....

The Monks at Platina have experience with Buddhism, several are former Buddhists.

Did you practice at an American Zendo or in Japan? If American, who was the Roshi?

My dear late wife had an interesting correspondence going with Bonnie Myotai Terace, one of John Loori's heirs. She had read some article in one of the periodicals I got from them and saw she suffered from fibromyalgia. So my wife, who had no particular interest in Zen, wrote to her with some suggestions. The Roshi wrote back and for a few years they engaged in what can be called "Girl Talk".

I kept asking my wife " You do realize who she is? " A full blown Zen Master, many students, pretty famous. Yet she was just Bonnie tTo my wife, never tried to convert her or even mentioned Buddhism to my knowledge. They were just friends.. I was very impressed. True Zen...if you asked me.    

I'm not sure Bonnie would describe herself as a Zen Master. There are dozens of us, if not hundreds, who have the same qualifications, and i definitely never would have described myself that way. But she is a very special person.
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« Reply #96 on: July 22, 2012, 08:55:02 PM »

I meant hundreds in this country. Successors just in Maezumi Roshi's lineage must be in the low hundreds by now. The Suzuki/Katagiri lineage would probably be smaller, but not by much. Plus the others--Aitken Roshi, Eido Roshi, etc.
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« Reply #97 on: July 23, 2012, 10:13:33 AM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!

Ditto.....

The Monks at Platina have experience with Buddhism, several are former Buddhists.

Did you practice at an American Zendo or in Japan? If American, who was the Roshi?

My dear late wife had an interesting correspondence going with Bonnie Myotai Terace, one of John Loori's heirs. She had read some article in one of the periodicals I got from them and saw she suffered from fibromyalgia. So my wife, who had no particular interest in Zen, wrote to her with some suggestions. The Roshi wrote back and for a few years they engaged in what can be called "Girl Talk".

I kept asking my wife " You do realize who she is? " A full blown Zen Master, many students, pretty famous. Yet she was just Bonnie tTo my wife, never tried to convert her or even mentioned Buddhism to my knowledge. They were just friends.. I was very impressed. True Zen...if you asked me.    

I'm not sure Bonnie would describe herself as a Zen Master. There are dozens of us, if not hundreds, who have the same qualifications, and i definitely never would have described myself that way. But she is a very special person.

I understand. This was from my lowly perspective many years ago now. It was a shock when Daido passed away. Do you now how the Mountains and Rivers order is doing these days? 
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« Reply #98 on: July 23, 2012, 10:30:57 AM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!

Ditto.....

The Monks at Platina have experience with Buddhism, several are former Buddhists.

Did you practice at an American Zendo or in Japan? If American, who was the Roshi?

My dear late wife had an interesting correspondence going with Bonnie Myotai Terace, one of John Loori's heirs. She had read some article in one of the periodicals I got from them and saw she suffered from fibromyalgia. So my wife, who had no particular interest in Zen, wrote to her with some suggestions. The Roshi wrote back and for a few years they engaged in what can be called "Girl Talk".

I kept asking my wife " You do realize who she is? " A full blown Zen Master, many students, pretty famous. Yet she was just Bonnie tTo my wife, never tried to convert her or even mentioned Buddhism to my knowledge. They were just friends.. I was very impressed. True Zen...if you asked me.    

I'm not sure Bonnie would describe herself as a Zen Master. There are dozens of us, if not hundreds, who have the same qualifications, and i definitely never would have described myself that way. But she is a very special person.

I understand. This was from my lowly perspective many years ago now. It was a shock when Daido passed away. Do you now how the Mountains and Rivers order is doing these days? 

Well, as far as I know. I believe Shugen Sensei is still at their Brooklyn center. I don't know who took over at Mt. Tremper. Bonnie left some years ago, and I fell out of touch with the comings and goings of the White Plum Asanga. With the overlap between them and Bernie Glassman's peacemaker order it's hard to know what any of the titles and promotions mean these days. It used to be hard and take many years to become a sensei.

BTW--your perspective isn't any lower than anyone else's. It would be great if Bonnie were the standard. She is very special. Being a senior and then a teacher in MRO wasn't easy. But she always had an open heart, despite the pressures.
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« Reply #99 on: July 23, 2012, 10:42:41 AM »

 Buddhists generally don't squabble so much about who is doing it right,
When you see a Theravadan Buddhist, call him a Hinayanan and see what happens.  Answer: squabbling.

That's because to many Theravada Buddhists, Hinayana ("lesser-vehicle") is derogatory. That'd be a bit like Catholics or Protestants calling Orthodoxy the "lesser-way".

That sense of superiority is more pronounced among Western adherents, I believe. None of my Japanese teachers ever evinced anything but respect for the Theravadan teachers. Some, like Nakagowa Soen Roshi, spent several years living and practicing with them. They are closer to the practice of the original Buddhists. And no one, IMHO, can avoid the Hinayana path, however snotty they are about t. It's just the natural place to begin.

Yes..But... The Lotus Sutra condemns them to Hell... so it goes.

Theravada is not a "Good place to start" if you wish to practice  Mahayana. It has different basic assumptions. This is what happens when you take the religion out of Buddhism and turn it into something like Hatha Yoga, all mechanics and technique.

I was a Zen monk for 20 years. I'd say I'm pretty familiar with the religion. But I do agree. It's my main issue with the idea of Zen Catholics or Zen plus anything else. It's not a technique; it's a fundamental experience of all of life,  etc.

Where where you a monk ?

I was ordained within the Honmon Bustsuryu Shu and spent time with the Kempon Hokke and few other stops.

I had transmission in both Soto and Rinzai Zen lineages.

How do you find Orthodox in your church respond to your Buddhist background?

They were more fixated on my Jewish background. They wanted to keep asking me questions about the Old Testament or Jewish Tradition. I kept saying that I was more their man for questions about the Lotus Sutra. It didn't really compute.

Mine literally can't imagine Zen would have anything useful to offer them. One hieromonk said my experience was probably somewhere on a spectrum between completely deluded and demonic.

I suppose it's only fair. I spent a fair amount of my life describing Christians as imbeciles who believed in fairy tales--until I became one myself!

Ditto.....

The Monks at Platina have experience with Buddhism, several are former Buddhists.

Did you practice at an American Zendo or in Japan? If American, who was the Roshi?

My dear late wife had an interesting correspondence going with Bonnie Myotai Terace, one of John Loori's heirs. She had read some article in one of the periodicals I got from them and saw she suffered from fibromyalgia. So my wife, who had no particular interest in Zen, wrote to her with some suggestions. The Roshi wrote back and for a few years they engaged in what can be called "Girl Talk".

I kept asking my wife " You do realize who she is? " A full blown Zen Master, many students, pretty famous. Yet she was just Bonnie tTo my wife, never tried to convert her or even mentioned Buddhism to my knowledge. They were just friends.. I was very impressed. True Zen...if you asked me.    

I'm not sure Bonnie would describe herself as a Zen Master. There are dozens of us, if not hundreds, who have the same qualifications, and i definitely never would have described myself that way. But she is a very special person.

I understand. This was from my lowly perspective many years ago now. It was a shock when Daido passed away. Do you now how the Mountains and Rivers order is doing these days? 

Well, as far as I know. I believe Shugen Sensei is still at their Brooklyn center. I don't know who took over at Mt. Tremper. Bonnie left some years ago, and I fell out of touch with the comings and goings of the White Plum Asanga. With the overlap between them and Bernie Glassman's peacemaker order it's hard to know what any of the titles and promotions mean these days. It used to be hard and take many years to become a sensei.

BTW--your perspective isn't any lower than anyone else's. It would be great if Bonnie were the standard. She is very special. Being a senior and then a teacher in MRO wasn't easy. But she always had an open heart, despite the pressures.
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« Reply #100 on: July 23, 2012, 10:44:11 AM »

Sorry for the double posting. I don't know how that happens. Mea maxima culpa.
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« Reply #101 on: February 13, 2013, 08:31:24 PM »

The real Buddhism is Celtic Buddhism.
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« Reply #102 on: February 13, 2013, 08:42:27 PM »

The real Buddhism is Celtic Buddhism.

Seems legit.
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« Reply #103 on: February 13, 2013, 08:56:47 PM »

Isn't Buddhism and good fortune mutually exclusive?  Just came to mind because a friend posted on facebook those "chain posts" or whatever you want to call them, those "forward and get something", a photo of a statue of the fat Buddha on top of money.  And then it claims you will get good fortune if you share the image.  Anyway, I thought Buddhism is about self denial, so how is Buddha even connected to the acquisition of wealth?
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« Reply #104 on: February 13, 2013, 08:58:54 PM »


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« Reply #105 on: February 13, 2013, 09:00:57 PM »

Isn't Buddhism and good fortune mutually exclusive?  Just came to mind because a friend posted on facebook those "chain posts" or whatever you want to call them, those "forward and get something", a photo of a statue of the fat Buddha on top of money.  And then it claims you will get good fortune if you share the image.  Anyway, I thought Buddhism is about self denial, so how is Buddha even connected to the acquisition of wealth?

Just like in certain corners of Christianity, some branches of Buddhism have devolved into Health Wealth and Happiness cults
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« Reply #106 on: February 13, 2013, 09:12:48 PM »

Isn't Buddhism and good fortune mutually exclusive?  Just came to mind because a friend posted on facebook those "chain posts" or whatever you want to call them, those "forward and get something", a photo of a statue of the fat Buddha on top of money.  And then it claims you will get good fortune if you share the image.  Anyway, I thought Buddhism is about self denial, so how is Buddha even connected to the acquisition of wealth?

Well, not everyone is built for a monastic sort of self-denial, which is why the Buddha had many lay-followers who had jobs and made money (so to speak). In fact, the Buddha encouraged lay-followers to be diligent in their work:

"By whatsoever activity a householder earns his living, whether by farming, by trading, by rearing cattle, by archery, by service under the king, or by any other kind of craft — at that he becomes skillful and is not lazy. He is endowed with the power of discernment as to the proper ways and means; he is able to carry out and allocate (duties). This is called the accomplishment of persistent effort.
....
Whatsoever wealth a householder is in possession of, obtained by dint of effort, collected by strength of arm, by the sweat of his brow, justly acquired by right means — such he husbands well by guarding and watching so that kings would not seize it, thieves would not steal it, fire would not burn it, water would not carry it away, nor ill-disposed heirs remove it. This is the accomplishment of watchfulness.
....
A householder knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.
....
These...conditions...are conducive to a householder's weal and happiness in this very life"
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 09:13:54 PM by Jetavan » Logged

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Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
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Y dduw bo'r diolch.
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« Reply #107 on: February 13, 2013, 10:58:01 PM »

Isn't Buddhism and good fortune mutually exclusive?  Just came to mind because a friend posted on facebook those "chain posts" or whatever you want to call them, those "forward and get something", a photo of a statue of the fat Buddha on top of money.  And then it claims you will get good fortune if you share the image.  Anyway, I thought Buddhism is about self denial, so how is Buddha even connected to the acquisition of wealth?

Well, not everyone is built for a monastic sort of self-denial, which is why the Buddha had many lay-followers who had jobs and made money (so to speak). In fact, the Buddha encouraged lay-followers to be diligent in their work:

"By whatsoever activity a householder earns his living, whether by farming, by trading, by rearing cattle, by archery, by service under the king, or by any other kind of craft — at that he becomes skillful and is not lazy. He is endowed with the power of discernment as to the proper ways and means; he is able to carry out and allocate (duties). This is called the accomplishment of persistent effort.
....
Whatsoever wealth a householder is in possession of, obtained by dint of effort, collected by strength of arm, by the sweat of his brow, justly acquired by right means — such he husbands well by guarding and watching so that kings would not seize it, thieves would not steal it, fire would not burn it, water would not carry it away, nor ill-disposed heirs remove it. This is the accomplishment of watchfulness.
....
A householder knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.
....
These...conditions...are conducive to a householder's weal and happiness in this very life"

Unfortunately several Buddhist groups ( some of the largest btw) are centered on congering up wealth and material things which is crudely equated with happiness. That goes a step or two beyond lay people working diligently.
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« Reply #108 on: February 13, 2013, 11:26:31 PM »

Original  Theravada Buddhism > All Asian offshoots

I find it somewhat sad that Buddhism is virtually extinct in India now and going extinct in the world, save a few pseudo western converts who cherry-pick from it. While admittedly it is a heathen religion, I do still find it MUCH better and more desirable than the Islam and radical Evangelical Protestantism that so many people are converting to.
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« Reply #109 on: February 13, 2013, 11:32:42 PM »

Original  Theravada Buddhism > All Asian offshoots

I've said it before, but Pure Land is the best.
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« Reply #110 on: February 13, 2013, 11:43:03 PM »

Original  Theravada Buddhism > All Asian offshoots

I've said it before, but Pure Land is the best.
I have to admit: you may have a point.
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« Reply #111 on: February 14, 2013, 10:11:31 AM »

The allegation that Theravada Buddhism is the "original" Buddhism is pretty much a matter of belief and not of actual historical evidence.
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« Reply #112 on: February 14, 2013, 10:22:00 AM »

The allegation that Theravada Buddhism is the "original" Buddhism is pretty much a matter of belief and not of actual historical evidence.

Theravadins seem more like Sola Scriptura (Tipitaka) Buddhists, while the Tibetans might have preserved more of the ethos of Indian Buddhism. 

If we compare Buddhism to Christianity, I don't think many of us would be comfortable with the Protestants claiming to be the "original" Christians because they stick to the Bible and refuse Tradition. (Of course, the Theravadins have their traditions/lineage [~Apostolic succession?] and much deeper historical roots than Protestantism.)
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« Reply #113 on: February 14, 2013, 10:25:13 AM »

I thought that Theravada was just the only surviving branch of Hinayana Buddhism.
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« Reply #114 on: February 14, 2013, 10:26:56 AM »

I thought that Theravada was just the only surviving branch of Hinayana Buddhism.

They are. They just wouldn't refer to themselves like that - their "Mahayana" rivals called them that. They purported to be more universal and compassionate, while the "Hinayana" schools would be concerned only with personal enlightenment through ascetic effort.
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« Reply #115 on: February 14, 2013, 10:31:57 AM »

I thought that Theravada was just the only surviving branch of Hinayana Buddhism.
Depends upon how you define "Hinayana".
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« Reply #116 on: February 14, 2013, 10:36:25 AM »

I thought that Theravada was just the only surviving branch of Hinayana Buddhism.
Depends upon how you define "Hinayana".

Well, those buddhist schools who have, traditionally, been located in south-east Asia.
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« Reply #117 on: February 14, 2013, 10:41:16 AM »

The allegation that Theravada Buddhism is the "original" Buddhism is pretty much a matter of belief and not of actual historical evidence.

Theravadins seem more like Sola Scriptura (Tipitaka) Buddhists, while the Tibetans might have preserved more of the ethos of Indian Buddhism. 

If we compare Buddhism to Christianity, I don't think many of us would be comfortable with the Protestants claiming to be the "original" Christians because they stick to the Bible and refuse Tradition. (Of course, the Theravadins have their traditions/lineage [~Apostolic succession?] and much deeper historical roots than Protestantism.)


Comparing the divisions in Buddhism to divisions in Christianity is tricky. The divisions are there but generally much less acrimonious and less doctrinally weighty. Even as they consider the Theravada path to be incomplete or inferior, most Mahayanists accept the Theravada school as a valid Buddhist school. And, while Theravadins are generally leery of some of the Mahayana teachings, there are instances of cooperation and what we might call "concelebration" that would be unthinkable between Protestants and Orthodox. For example, Theravada nuns getting the full nun ordination from Mahayanists (because the lineage was lost in Theravada), or a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery. All this happens without anyone yelling "heretic!" The only place in Buddhism where I know the sectarian divisions (between different Mahayana sects) to be very sharp today would be Japan, and this seems to be a large part due to politics.
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« Reply #118 on: February 14, 2013, 10:42:30 AM »

I thought that Theravada was just the only surviving branch of Hinayana Buddhism.
Depends upon how you define "Hinayana".

Well, those buddhist schools who have, traditionally, been located in south-east Asia.

Generally when the old Mahayana texts polemicize against "Hinayana," they are referring to one of several Indian schools which are now extinct, and which does not necessarily match the modern Theravada school exactly.
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« Reply #119 on: February 14, 2013, 10:43:40 AM »

Comparing the divisions in Buddhism to divisions in Christianity is tricky. The divisions are there but generally much less acrimonious and less doctrinally weighty. Even as they consider the Theravada path to be incomplete or inferior, most Mahayanists accept the Theravada school as a valid Buddhist school. And, while Theravadins are generally leery of some of the Mahayana teachings, there are instances of cooperation and what we might call "concelebration" that would be unthinkable between Protestants and Orthodox. For example, Theravada nuns getting the full nun ordination from Mahayanists (because the lineage was lost in Theravada), or a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery. All this happens without anyone yelling "heretic!" The only place in Buddhism where I know the sectarian divisions (between different Mahayana sects) to be very sharp today would be Japan, and this seems to be a large part due to politics.

While obviously not representative, I have seen very triumphalist Theravadists on forums denouncing Mahayana as a whole.
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« Reply #120 on: February 14, 2013, 11:29:09 AM »

a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery.

You mean Bhikkhu Bodhi and this monastery?

I've read of rivalry/disputes between the Tibetan and Ch'an schools, despite them both being strands of Mahayana Buddhism.
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« Reply #121 on: February 14, 2013, 11:40:43 AM »

a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery.

You mean Bhikkhu Bodhi and this monastery?

That's the one. Very good people there.

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I've read of traditional rivalry/disputes between the Tibetan and Ch'an schools, despite them both being strands of Mahayana Buddhism.

There was a rivalry in Tibet between tantric Buddhism and Chan, which, despite its "transmission beyond the scriptures" is essentially sutra-based Mahayana. Obviously Chan lost out and there is no longer a Tibetan Chan. There were also some bitter rivalries between the different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, which were certainly aggravated by political factions. The Dalai Lama became theocrat of Tibet with the help of Mongol troops after a lengthy period of violence and the divisions have been swept under the rug in modern times.
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« Reply #122 on: February 14, 2013, 11:46:13 AM »

The real Buddhism is Celtic Buddhism.

My word!  and I thought that Shinto shrines in North America were umm pushing the envelope.

Looking at some of the materials there is causing some quite peculiar cultural dissonance
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« Reply #123 on: February 14, 2013, 11:50:19 AM »

a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery.

You mean Bhikkhu Bodhi and this monastery?

That's the one. Very good people there.

I agree (good and learned Buddhist scholars), but I think this is a rather atypical example. I'd compare it to the Monastery of Bose in Italy.  
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« Reply #124 on: February 14, 2013, 11:59:09 AM »

The real Buddhism is Celtic Buddhism.

My word!  and I thought that Shinto shrines in North America were umm pushing the envelope.

Looking at some of the materials there is causing some quite peculiar cultural dissonance

No more cultural dissonance than what initially existed between Buddhism and Chinese culture, I suppose.
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« Reply #125 on: February 14, 2013, 12:15:57 PM »

a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery.

You mean Bhikkhu Bodhi and this monastery?

That's the one. Very good people there.

I agree (good and learned Buddhist scholars), but I think this is a rather atypical example. I'd compare it to the Monastery of Bose in Italy.  

It is atypical but Bhikkhu Bodhi is very high-profile (he has put out a lot of the best stuff on Theravada in English) and as far as I know no one has criticized him for his position at Bodhi Monastery. In the earlier days of Buddhism it was actually not uncommon for Mahayana and "Hinayana" monks to reside in the same monasteries and be part of the same broad schools.
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« Reply #126 on: February 14, 2013, 12:20:07 PM »

In the earlier days of Buddhism it was actually not uncommon for Mahayana and "Hinayana" monks to reside in the same monasteries and be part of the same broad schools.

Once there were Latin monks living on Mount Athos...
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« Reply #127 on: February 14, 2013, 12:43:59 PM »

The real Buddhism is Celtic Buddhism.

My word!  and I thought that Shinto shrines in North America were umm pushing the envelope.

Looking at some of the materials there is causing some quite peculiar cultural dissonance

No more cultural dissonance than what initially existed between Buddhism and Chinese culture, I suppose.


Being as that was many, many centuries one is not sure.  But the Celtic (and that is pretty modern) and Buddhism has come definite clash.
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« Reply #128 on: February 14, 2013, 04:33:51 PM »

The allegation that Theravada Buddhism is the "original" Buddhism is pretty much a matter of belief and not of actual historical evidence.

Theravadins seem more like Sola Scriptura (Tipitaka) Buddhists, while the Tibetans might have preserved more of the ethos of Indian Buddhism. 

If we compare Buddhism to Christianity, I don't think many of us would be comfortable with the Protestants claiming to be the "original" Christians because they stick to the Bible and refuse Tradition. (Of course, the Theravadins have their traditions/lineage [~Apostolic succession?] and much deeper historical roots than Protestantism.)


Comparing the divisions in Buddhism to divisions in Christianity is tricky. The divisions are there but generally much less acrimonious and less doctrinally weighty. Even as they consider the Theravada path to be incomplete or inferior, most Mahayanists accept the Theravada school as a valid Buddhist school. And, while Theravadins are generally leery of some of the Mahayana teachings, there are instances of cooperation and what we might call "concelebration" that would be unthinkable between Protestants and Orthodox. For example, Theravada nuns getting the full nun ordination from Mahayanists (because the lineage was lost in Theravada), or a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery. All this happens without anyone yelling "heretic!" The only place in Buddhism where I know the sectarian divisions (between different Mahayana sects) to be very sharp today would be Japan, and this seems to be a large part due to politics.

There is a doctrine in Japan called Fuju Fuse, No giving no taking.. No sharing anything of value or eating with Heretics.. Some Japanese suffered mightily  when pressued to give this up.. Just sayin.
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« Reply #129 on: February 18, 2013, 01:09:32 PM »

The allegation that Theravada Buddhism is the "original" Buddhism is pretty much a matter of belief and not of actual historical evidence.

Theravadins seem more like Sola Scriptura (Tipitaka) Buddhists, while the Tibetans might have preserved more of the ethos of Indian Buddhism. 

If we compare Buddhism to Christianity, I don't think many of us would be comfortable with the Protestants claiming to be the "original" Christians because they stick to the Bible and refuse Tradition. (Of course, the Theravadins have their traditions/lineage [~Apostolic succession?] and much deeper historical roots than Protestantism.)


Comparing the divisions in Buddhism to divisions in Christianity is tricky. The divisions are there but generally much less acrimonious and less doctrinally weighty. Even as they consider the Theravada path to be incomplete or inferior, most Mahayanists accept the Theravada school as a valid Buddhist school. And, while Theravadins are generally leery of some of the Mahayana teachings, there are instances of cooperation and what we might call "concelebration" that would be unthinkable between Protestants and Orthodox. For example, Theravada nuns getting the full nun ordination from Mahayanists (because the lineage was lost in Theravada), or a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery. All this happens without anyone yelling "heretic!" The only place in Buddhism where I know the sectarian divisions (between different Mahayana sects) to be very sharp today would be Japan, and this seems to be a large part due to politics.

There is a doctrine in Japan called Fuju Fuse, No giving no taking.. No sharing anything of value or eating with Heretics.. Some Japanese suffered mightily  when pressued to give this up.. Just sayin.

I think this fragmentation of Japanese Buddhism is really a departure from traditional Mahayana, which is supposed to be a big tent with a variety of teachings and practices adapted to people of different dispositions and needs. With all the different schools reifying individual practices (nembutsu, zazen, etc.) and cutting out sizable chunks of the Buddhist tradition, they overthrew the whole idea of "expedient means". They often traced their schools to various Chinese patriarchs but Chinese Buddhism never split into such rigid factions. Some of them relied on the doctrine of "mappo" but if you take the teaching of Mappo literally, it means none of the Buddhist practices can be effectual. As it is the Japanese Buddhist sects that most closely resemble the original Mahayana vision are probably Tendai and Kegon.
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« Reply #130 on: February 19, 2013, 01:17:39 PM »

The allegation that Theravada Buddhism is the "original" Buddhism is pretty much a matter of belief and not of actual historical evidence.

Theravadins seem more like Sola Scriptura (Tipitaka) Buddhists, while the Tibetans might have preserved more of the ethos of Indian Buddhism.  

If we compare Buddhism to Christianity, I don't think many of us would be comfortable with the Protestants claiming to be the "original" Christians because they stick to the Bible and refuse Tradition. (Of course, the Theravadins have their traditions/lineage [~Apostolic succession?] and much deeper historical roots than Protestantism.)


Comparing the divisions in Buddhism to divisions in Christianity is tricky. The divisions are there but generally much less acrimonious and less doctrinally weighty. Even as they consider the Theravada path to be incomplete or inferior, most Mahayanists accept the Theravada school as a valid Buddhist school. And, while Theravadins are generally leery of some of the Mahayana teachings, there are instances of cooperation and what we might call "concelebration" that would be unthinkable between Protestants and Orthodox. For example, Theravada nuns getting the full nun ordination from Mahayanists (because the lineage was lost in Theravada), or a Theravada monk serving as co-abbot in a Mahayana monastery. All this happens without anyone yelling "heretic!" The only place in Buddhism where I know the sectarian divisions (between different Mahayana sects) to be very sharp today would be Japan, and this seems to be a large part due to politics.

There is a doctrine in Japan called Fuju Fuse, No giving no taking.. No sharing anything of value or eating with Heretics.. Some Japanese suffered mightily  when pressued to give this up.. Just sayin.

I think this fragmentation of Japanese Buddhism is really a departure from traditional Mahayana, which is supposed to be a big tent with a variety of teachings and practices adapted to people of different dispositions and needs. With all the different schools reifying individual practices (nembutsu, zazen, etc.) and cutting out sizable chunks of the Buddhist tradition, they overthrew the whole idea of "expedient means". They often traced their schools to various Chinese patriarchs but Chinese Buddhism never split into such rigid factions. Some of them relied on the doctrine of "mappo" but if you take the teaching of Mappo literally, it means none of the Buddhist practices can be effectual. As it is the Japanese Buddhist sects that most closely resemble the original Mahayana vision are probably Tendai and Kegon.

The answer to that may be in their perception of (Buddhist) Time.. Buddhism is not exactly like Christianity where we try to emulate the "Original" version. Rather, they see a time line where spiritual capacity diminishes the further out we get from the life of the Buddha. So what was practiced in earlier spiritual eras is totally ineffective today.

This is certainly true of the Tendai Shu and it's offshoots such as the Nichiren Shu. If we have to make an analogy to Christianity, practicing an early version of Mahayana is like Christians who insist on following the Jewish Calendar and following various Jewish observances.
Orthodox Christians today would not share communion with such people. Neither will these Japanese Buddhists commingle anything or sit with "heretics"    
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« Reply #131 on: February 19, 2013, 01:49:02 PM »

Making parallels with Christianity is a dubious enterprise. Comparing big-tent Mahayana Buddhism, which enjoys an unbroken lineage and tradition throughout East Asia, with a contemporary phenomenon like "Messianic Jews" is ridiculous. The fragmentation of Japanese Buddhism could be just as well compared with the proliferation of Protestant and restorationist sects. These kinds of comparisons invariably miss the mark.

I should also point out that the particular thinking we're discussing here is limited to a certain set of Japanese Buddhists. There is nothing really comparable in China, Tibet, or other Buddhist countries. The sectarian attitude in Japan has a lot to do with secular political patronage and interference with Buddhism, which was stronger in Japan than anywhere else. Outside of Japan there is considerable cooperation and mutual recognition between different Buddhist schools.

The problem with the use of mappo to support Nichiren or Pure Land is that the dharma decline meant the decline of all dharma. If one were to take the schema literally, we are now living in a period where it is impossible for anyone to be saved through the Buddha-dharma, and exceptions were not made for any of the particular expedient means. Buddhism today would be a complete fraud and there is nothing to be done until the coming of Maitreya.

Tendai-shu, while holding to the three stages teaching (it's in the Lotus Sutra, after all) continues to employ the variety of expedient means which was the hallmark of Mahayana. In China the Tiantai school, like everything else, seems to have been absorbed by Chan, and this is because the different Chinese Buddhist schools did not generally see themselves as exclusive sects.
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« Reply #132 on: February 19, 2013, 03:52:00 PM »

Making parallels with Christianity is a dubious enterprise. Comparing big-tent Mahayana Buddhism, which enjoys an unbroken lineage and tradition throughout East Asia, with a contemporary phenomenon like "Messianic Jews" is ridiculous. The fragmentation of Japanese Buddhism could be just as well compared with the proliferation of Protestant and restorationist sects. These kinds of comparisons invariably miss the mark.

I should also point out that the particular thinking we're discussing here is limited to a certain set of Japanese Buddhists. There is nothing really comparable in China, Tibet, or other Buddhist countries. The sectarian attitude in Japan has a lot to do with secular political patronage and interference with Buddhism, which was stronger in Japan than anywhere else. Outside of Japan there is considerable cooperation and mutual recognition between different Buddhist schools.

The problem with the use of mappo to support Nichiren or Pure Land is that the dharma decline meant the decline of all dharma. If one were to take the schema literally, we are now living in a period where it is impossible for anyone to be saved through the Buddha-dharma, and exceptions were not made for any of the particular expedient means. Buddhism today would be a complete fraud and there is nothing to be done until the coming of Maitreya.

Tendai-shu, while holding to the three stages teaching (it's in the Lotus Sutra, after all) continues to employ the variety of expedient means which was the hallmark of Mahayana. In China the Tiantai school, like everything else, seems to have been absorbed by Chan, and this is because the different Chinese Buddhist schools did not generally see themselves as exclusive sects.

That's why I said it is not a good idea to compare Buddhism with Christianity but if forced to  the idea that "Original" Buddhism is the standard is much like saying Judaism is the Standard for Christians is a perfectly good analogy.

Much of the Tendai Shu in Japan these days is on the Combo Plan. Some Tendai mixed with Kegon and or other esoteric practices.

Many people believe that Buddhism is very ecuminest, big tent, accepting of every practice as long as the intent is sincere.. I am just reminding you that this is not exactly the case. In fact large sections of Japanese Buddhism is very militant and not because they are wrong or dont get it or are too fiesty or some such. If you want to read some pretty direct condemnations to Hell for disbelief, the Lotus Sutra is the scripture that does that.

Mappo does not mean that no one can be saved. The idea is that there can be no more half measures and that the ordinary worldling ( Bombu) must seek salvation directly from the Eternal Buddha reveled in the Honmon ( Essential) portion of the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha "pounds and sifts" his dharma down to a very simple form which can be easily taken by the spiritually sick people of Mappo. That is how to practice in Mappo,you takee the pill and come into communion with the Buddha. It's not that it is imposible to practice.
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