Betrayal of the Spirit


I just finished reading Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement by Nori J. Muster. This in spite of the fact that I have two Zen related books waiting patiently for me to review them. One’s about Haukuin, the other is about the Heart Sutra. But, frankly, I’m more interested in what happened to the Hare Krishna movement.

In a nutshell, this book is the tale of Nori J. Muster who once went by the name Nandini and served as a key P.R. person for ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) during its most turbulent years, the late 70s through the late 80s. This was the time from right after founder A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s death through the murders and violence depicted in the book Monkey on a Stick, which covers the debacle of New Vrindaban, the “Hare Krishna Disneyland” (they really called it that) in West Virginia.

The Hare Krishna story in short is that a charismatic, dedicated and sincere monk named A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (the Prabhupada part was added later) came to American with something like $2.75 in his pocket and started a worldwide movement based on the ancient teachings he had studied and practiced throughout most of his life. Then he died without clearly naming a successor. The members of his movement have been fighting about this ever since, although things have settled down a lot in the past twenty years.

I can’t find the precise quote because I borrowed the book from the library and didn’t want to mark it up (though I liked it so much I’ll be buying my own copy). But Muster quotes someone who said that Srila Prabhupada had two kinds of authority. There was the institutional authority conferred upon him by his spiritual master. This made him a monk and a teacher. This type of authority could conceivably be conferred upon anyone who went through the necessary steps to receive it.

The other type of authority Srila Prabhupada had was much more nebulous. It was a personal sort of authority that came through his particular personality and the strength of his commitment to his practice combined with all sorts of accidents of fate such as his coming to America in 1965 just when young people there were searching for gurus.

Not long before he died, Prabhupada named eleven men as having the power to initiate new disciples. Each was responsible for a different territory. But he was a bit vague as to whether these men were gurus like him or not. This has been a point of contention ever since. Be that as it may, Prabhupada could only confer institutional authority upon his disciples. He couldn’t give them his charisma or his commitment to practice. And he sure couldn’t pass on to them the accidents of fate that made what he did possible.

A few of the men among that group of eleven were extremely charismatic but insane. A few others lacked such charisma but were very sincere and tried their best to follow what Praphupada had taught. A couple of those failed spectacularly in their efforts, thus sullying the movement even more. Just two of these eleven men remained in positions of authority within ISKCON at the time Muster wrote her book (1997).

This is all fascinating to me because I find myself in much the same position as those eleven guys. There is a lot less at stake in Dogen Sangha International (DSI). We have no monetary assets at all, no “Palace of Gold” in West Virginia, no one selling our literature or our delicious cookies at airports. Dogen Sangha International is not even registered as an entity with any government agency anywhere. Dogen Sangha Los Angeles is. And I believe Dogen Sangha Bristol in England may be. Dogen Sangha (minus the international) in Chiba, Japan may also be. It’s possible others are legally registered in France, Germany and Israel. I’m not sure. But if they are, they are just local entities using that name. DSI has no worldwide meetings to decide policy, no board of governors, no nothing. It’s just a name, really.

Nishijima Roshi conferred a certain degree of what we might call “institutional authority” upon a number of his students, me included. Like Srila Prabhupada, Nishijima could not confer his personal authority upon anyone. The word authority here is problematic. But I’m using it here because I can’t come up with a better term.

Nishijima also named me as president of Dogen Sangha International. But he never spelled out exactly what that meant. It was extremely important to him, though. And because it was so important to him I said “yes” even though I’m no clearer on what it means to be president of something that doesn’t exist than anyone else is. I have resisted any attempts to make Dogen Sangha International anything more definite than it is. (Dogen Sangha Los Angeles, is something entirely different and I’m working toward establishing that as a religious non-profit corporation in the State of California. DSLA will have no authority over any other Dogen Sangha branch.)

In my book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate I wrote about what happened when that appointment was made. It was remarkably like what happened to the Hare Krishnas, but without anyone being beheaded by a mad disciple.

I’ve heard from dozens of people since that book came out telling me how things went precisely the same way in their aikido dojo when the master died, or in their church when the pastor passed on and so forth. It’s an incredibly common scenario. It happened at the San Francisco Zen Center when Suzuki Roshi died and, to a lesser extent, at some of the temples Katagiri Roshi established after he died. Paul, Peter and James battled over whose interpretations of Christ’s teachings were correct.

It happened after Buddha died too, according to Stephen Batchelor in his book Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. Batchelor believes that Maha Kashyapa, revered by many Buddhists (and pretty much all Zen Buddhists) as Gautama Buddha’s rightful successor was more of a guy with political savvy who pulled the ranks together than someone who actually understood what Buddha was on about. In fact, Buddha is on record as telling his followers not to appoint a successor.

And this will happen again, many more times.

So why do guys like Gautama Buddha, Srila Prabhupada, Nishijima Roshi and so many others even attempt to set up these institutions? Are they so naive as to think that their institution alone won’t go through what every single other one like it has gone through as far back as the beginnings of recorded human history?

Some of them may be that naive. But my guess is that most are not. Because institutions also manage to preserve these teachings even in spite of the power struggles and suchlike that always take place. We know what Buddha taught (or at least some approximation thereof) because of the institution that wily old politician Maha Kashyapa set up to preserve it. Had Buddha’s followers actually taken his instructions not to appoint a successor to heart, we probably wouldn’t know very much about Buddha today except as a minor philosopher in ancient India.

And there you have my dilemma regarding Dogen Sangha International, and why I am so wishy-washy as to what to do about it.

Answers on a postcard please.

****

And now yet another commercial for the new audiobook edition of Hardcore Zen!

GET IT HERE!!

113 Responses

Page 1 of 3
  1. anon #108
    anon #108 April 18, 2012 at 10:25 am | |

    Erm…just a sec…

  2. Moni
    Moni April 18, 2012 at 10:29 am | |

    I think the main problem with Krishna folks is that in general they live so much outside the society and can not speak everyday people`s language.

    They somehow differentiate themselves too much and may be that is why many people do not even get to know their message, cause they are so distant from everyday people.

  3. Mr. Reee
    Mr. Reee April 18, 2012 at 10:42 am | |

    Not being clear on "what it means to be president of something that doesn't exist" sounds like the most important qualification for holding such a position.

    It's like life itself. Someone else put "me" in charge of "my life," but I haven't a clue exactly what it is I'm in charge of, or who exactly this 'me' is that's been bestowed all this authority…

  4. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 18, 2012 at 10:43 am | |

    Moni, true dat!

    But I've been to some Zen institutions that are almost as insulated. I was trying to make up a list of weird buzzwords used at one Zen Center I visited. I wish I'd saved it. These words served as ways to differentiate who was "in" and who was "out." They were peppered into everyday conversation so as to make listeners aware that the speaker who used them was "in."

    One thing to do was to tell someone, "That's comparing mind" anytime they voiced a complaint, legitimate or not. Another was to call actions you didn't approve of "unskillful."

    Fascinating.

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 11:16 am | |

    perception of patriarchal transmission and "actual" patriarchal transmission= dishonesty

  6. mekong46
    mekong46 April 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm | |

    Excellent. That's a good one Sri Rama Warner. Keep them coming?

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm | |
  8. Khru
    Khru April 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm | |

    And I couldn't agree more.

  9. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm | |

    Great post. Expanding on this would make a good chapter or so in one of your next books, IMO.

    Back in the day I knew David Kherdian, a poet who wrote a very good book on being inside a Gurdjieffian community in Oregon titled ON A SPACESHIP WITH BEELZEBUB.

    Its easy to take things for granted, for ex. in the way we think of institutions as somehow solid and "real."

    This too shall pass…

  10. Chris D
    Chris D April 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm | |

    In all your writing you very heavily emphasize the disorganization of Dogen Sangha, but you never say what it does do. If it's so unorganized and non-institutional, what is it? Dogen Sangha does have gatherings; do you just head out to the bar after a nice dinner at Olive Garden, or what?

    Basically, why should it exist at all? It seems like that answer points you to how to direct it in the future.

  11. tyson
    tyson April 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm | |

    "Nishijima also named me as president of Dogen Sangha International. But he never spelled out exactly what that meant. It was extremely important to him, though."

    Why don't you ask him?

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm | |

    Once the mind has let go of phenomena of every sort, the mind appears supremely empty; but the one who admires the emptiness, who is awestruck by the emptiness, that one still survives. The self as reference point, which is the essence of all false knowing, remains integrated into the mind’s knowing essence. This self-perspective is the primary delusion. Its presence represents the difference between the subtle emptiness of the radiant mind and the transcendent emptiness of the pure mind, free of all forms of delusion. Self is the real impediment. As soon as it disintegrates and
    disappears, no more impediments remain. Transcendent emptiness appears. As in the case of a person in an empty room, we can say that the mind is truly empty only when the self leaves for good. This transcendent emptiness is a total and permanent disengagement that requires no further effort to maintain.

    ~ Ajaan Mah? Boowa

  13. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm | |

    Stephen Batchelor believes that Maha Kashyapa was more of a guy with political savvy who pulled the ranks together than someone who actually understood what Buddha was on about.

    I haven't read the book and don't know if Brad is correctly representing it, but if he is, what Stephen Batchelor is saying is silly. There is no way you can judge Maha Kashyapa's level of realization by reading the Pali Suttas.

    In any case it's a mistake to think that the student a teacher appoints as his successor is the most enlightened. Holding a group together requires a specific set of skills. Just as enlightenment doesn't make you a great guitar player, it doesn't make you a great administrator. It seems that some think that the final goal of Zen is to become a Zen Master. That if you don't, you've failed to make the grade. But for every successor who teaches, there are probably several others, equally enlightened, who don't for one reason or another. A teacher's legacy is like an iceberg. Much of what he has passed on goes unobserved.

  14. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm | |

    DSI is a 'group' of people who are collectively interested in reflectively thinking about how the writings of Master Dogen can be interpreted beneficially in the context of current living.*

    *************************

    Master Dogen wrote in an archaic Japanese which is different in context and cognitive equivalencies to modern Japanese. Bridging the gap between the archaic Japanese of Dogen's day and modern Japanese may take decades. Furthermore, there are many words in Japanese that do not have close English equivalents. A liberal tolerance for errors and ambiguity is necessary. The same is true when studying any classical religious text from another culture.

    *Just a thought.

  15. Khru Jr.
    Khru Jr. April 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm | |

    BRAD,

    PLEASE!!!!!

    PLEASE!!

    CUP YOUR HANDS AND FART INTO THEM. DESCRIBE THE SMELL.

    SCRATCH YOUR BALLS AND SNIFF YOUR FINGERNAILS. DESCRIBE THE SMELL.

    PLEASE DO THIS FOR ALL OF US.

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm | |
  17. Rick
    Rick April 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm | |

    I'm the High Druid of the Westland Chapter of the 1759 Society.

  18. Fred
    Fred April 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm | |

    "what it means to be president of something that doesn't exist"

    What exists after the body-mind has
    been dropped?

    Look for the answer there.

  19. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm | |

    Interesting post, Mr. Warner. Interesting comments, usual suspects. Khru Jr., how did a dog learn to speak?

    'Now at that time the venerable Maha Kassapa was journeying along the high road from Pava to Kusinara with a great company of the brethren, with about five hundred of the brethren. And the venerable Maha Kassapa left the high road, and sat himself down at the foot of a certain tree.

    Just at that time a certain naked ascetic who had picked up a Mandarava flower in Kusinara was coming along the high road to Pava.

    Now the venerable Maha Kassapa saw the naked ascetic coming at a distance; and when he had seen him he said to that naked ascetic:– "Oh friend! surely thou knowest our Master?"

    "Yea, friend! I know him. This day the Samana Gotama has been dead a week! That is how I obtained this Mandarava flower."

    On that of those brethren who were not yet free from passions, some stretched out their arms and wept, and some fell headlong on the ground, and some reeled to and fro in anguish at the thought:– "Too soon has the Exalted One died! Too soon has the Happy One passed away! Too soon has the Light gone out in the world!"

    But those of the brethren who were free from the passions [the Arahants] bore their grief self-possessed and composed at the thought– "Impermanent are all component things! How is it possible that [they should not be dissolved]?"'

    (DN ii 162, Pali Text Society pg 183-184)

    Kassapa & Co. proceeds to Kusinara, and after he and the brethren circumambulate the pyre, the pyre ignites spontaneously (whereas previously the townfolk were unable to ignite it by any means).

    Do we want to guess how Kassapa came to be in possession of the bowl and robe, or why the Buddha didn't say anything when Kassapa beheld the flower (the report was that the Mandarva flowers were falling out of season after the Gautamid's death, so kind of by Gautama's hand?).

    Chance and circumstance, in my opinion, has allowed me to discover the positive influence of the teaching so many years after the fact. Beginning with the order that memorized the books, from which I quoted above.

  20. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles April 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm | |

    Fred, Who is supposed to do this looking after body-mind has been dropped?

    And btw, What's on second.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm | |

    Ou-I Chih Hsu
    http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/mindseal.pdf

    My suggestion would be to do it. Everything changes, nothing is perfect…But someone has to create a template, a sales pitch…else nobody will come. In the process of destroying 'it', people discover 'it'…"It" is very strange l0l!

    But how did we all get to this point now? The form of the Triple Jewel!
    We don't need form…and yet we are kinda hopeless without it.

    It's like we have to trash form to see if it is substantial. It's a process of 'Throwing it away' as to discover it. Kill the Buddha!

    We can't escape form, we can only embrace it/desrtoy it as to discover it's true reality.

    Sometimes I am amazed that people are still wrapped up in the form of "God"…and as much as I want to dismiss it, it wont leave our existance! By my theory it is substantial(Gawd!)Sometimes I think compassion, in it's formless/collective conciousness sense, is a god. I think, metaphysically speaking, it is an element of the fabric of everything…since it is a great element within us all(for bette or worse).

    Rama Rama Ding Dong

    jason

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm | |

    PS: I am only posting the Ou-I Chih Hsu link as to show an example of someone elses approach. It's the best I got to offer at the moment…jason

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm | |

    ZEN MASTER DOGEN'S VOW (Eihei Koso Hotsuganmon)

    From this life throughout countless lives,
    we vow with all beings to hear the true Dharma.
    Hearing it, no doubt arises, nor is faith lacking.
    Meeting and maintaining it, we renounce worldly affairs,
    and together with all beings and the great earth
    realize the Buddha Way.

    Past negative actions accumulate and cause the arising
    of many obstacles to the practice of the Way.
    May all Buddhas and Ancestors who have realized the Way
    extend their compassion and free us from these karmic effects,
    allowing us to practice without hindrance.
    May they share with us their boundless compassion,
    and fill the universe with the virtue of their enlightened teaching.

    Buddhas and Ancestors of old were as we.
    In the future, we shall be Buddhas and Ancestors.
    Revering Buddhas and Ancestors, we are one Buddha and one Ancestor.
    Awakening Bodhi-mind, we are one Bodhi-mind.
    As they extend their compassion freely to us,
    we are able to realize Buddhahood and let go
    of the realization.

    The Chan Master Lung-ya said:

    "Those unenlightened in past lives will now be enlightened.
    In this life, take care of the body, the fruit of many lives.
    Before Buddhas were enlightened, they were the same as we.
    Enlightened people of today are exactly the same as the ancients."

    This is the exact transmission of a verified Buddha,
    so quietly explore the far-reaching effects of these causes and conditions.
    Repenting in this way, one never fails to receive help,
    deep and unending, from all Buddhas and Ancestors.
    Revealing before Buddha one's lack of faith and failure to practice
    dissolves the root of these unwholesome actions.
    This is the pure and simple manifestation of true practice,
    of the true mind and body of faith.

    jason

  24. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 18, 2012 at 10:21 pm | |

    I'm a little torn between the Nepal Tripitaka and the LankaSri Pali.

    Whatever was preserved was embellished…

    Scholars do not agree on authentic discourses v. attributed discourses. Linguistic analysis points to fewer than 48 preserved "sayings of Buddha."

    Vinaya Pitaka, (early Buddhist monastic regulations)
    Sutta Pitaka, (contains discourses of the Buddha and his disciples)
    Abhidhamma Pitaka, (contains commentary)

    So I guess everyone can sit around and guess what might have been the actual teachings of Buddha…

    That's why I think it just boils down to the practice and theKalama Sutta and not much more than that.

  25. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 18, 2012 at 10:30 pm | |

    Repenting in this way, one never fails to receive help;

    let me correct myself, Harry; repenting in this way one will never fail to receive help, provided one deserves it.

    I'm just where I am, are you where you are, or Who?

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 18, 2012 at 10:43 pm | |

    Then absolutley. Don't do form a DSL if you think most of it is bunk. It is your choice.

    In Gassho

    jason

  27. Uku
    Uku April 19, 2012 at 12:38 am | |

    Hi Mark Foote,

    I asked this before but I'm not sure if you ever saw it. I haven't checked it. But anyway, I'd like to ask it again:

    you're writing Gautama, Gotama, Gautam very often as "Gautamid". Could you explain why? I haven't saw that style before and I'm interested of the etymology of it.

    Thanks in advance!

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 4:24 am | |

    Tribute to Christopher Hitchens

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR0GyYaeI-k

  29. Fred
    Fred April 19, 2012 at 5:10 am | |

    "john e mumbles said…
    Fred, Who is supposed to do this looking after body-mind has been dropped?

    And btw, What's on second."

    I don't know is on third, so it
    can't be him.

  30. Fred
    Fred April 19, 2012 at 5:17 am | |

    Actually, it's perfect. The fiction
    Brad Warner writes fiction about
    the body-mind dropping fiction,
    and he's president of a
    fictitous order.

  31. Fred
    Fred April 19, 2012 at 5:18 am | |

    And An3drew is 7th patriarch of
    whatever.

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 5:45 am | |

    nice dream!

  33. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 5:48 am | |

    What Nishijima wanted isn't that confusing. He wanted his teaching, and the group that formed around his teaching, to continue after his death. He wanted his students to look to Brad the same way they looked to him. He felt what he had done was important and he wanted it to continue into the future. He wanted an organization. He wanted Brad to organize Dogen Sangha into Dogen Sangha International. Brad likes N so he said yes, but he doesn't like the idea, so he's never done it.

  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 5:49 am | |

    fiction?

    what's real?

  35. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 5:55 am | |

    DSI = The 3P1R-shu

  36. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 19, 2012 at 6:47 am | |

    Jinzang,

    I'm sorry if that I wrote was unclear and appeared to imply that Batchelor questioned Maha Kashyapa's level of enlightenment.

    He doesn't really question his enlightenment. But he speculates that Maha Kashaypa's historical position has far less to do with his enlightenment than with his political skills.

    It is contradictory that Buddha told his followers not to appoint a successor in certain texts while others have him appointing Maha Kashyapa as his successor.

  37. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 7:16 am | |

    The texts are contradictory.

  38. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 19, 2012 at 8:09 am | |

    What Nishijima wanted isn't that confusing. He wanted his teaching, and the group that formed around his teaching, to continue after his death. He wanted his students to look to Brad the same way they looked to him. He felt what he had done was important and he wanted it to continue into the future. He wanted an organization. He wanted Brad to organize Dogen Sangha into Dogen Sangha International. Brad likes N so he said yes, but he doesn't like the idea, so he's never done it.

    The first part is true.

    "He wanted an organization. He wanted Brad to organize Dogen Sangha into Dogen Sangha International," is the problematic part.

    I had many private discussions with N about this point. He was never very definite about what precisely he wanted Dogen Sangha International to be. He essentially said that was up to me.

    "Brad doesn't like the idea" implies that you know what "the idea" actually is. But if N didn't know what precisely "the idea" was, I doubt anyone else does either.

    My developing idea is that the purpose of DSI is to preserve N's teaching. This would include the Shobogenzo translation, the Shinji Shobogenzo translation, To Meet the Real Dragon and the archived tapes of his lectures as well as some of his shorter written works. Whether or not the Nagarjuna translation should be included in this list is problematic. So I've left it off. Anyway, Monkfish Publications is dealing with that right now, so there's no urgent need to address it.

    As for the rest, they are currently all taken care of. The Shobogenzo, Shinji Shobogenzo and Dragon books are all available as print-on-demand. The tape archives are being taken care of. Other pieces of writing are available on the Dogen Sangha website (http://www.dogensangha.org/).

    Whether "the idea" also included annual meetings of all N's dharma heirs, a board of directors, a theme park, a made-for-TV movie, badges, cookie sales etc. N never said. He left that up to me. And I did specifically ask him these things (well maybe not the made-for-TV movie and cookies part).

  39. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 8:19 am | |

    theme park! yes!

    I wanna ride ANS Rollercoaster!

  40. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 19, 2012 at 8:43 am | |

    In all your writing you very heavily emphasize the disorganization of Dogen Sangha, but you never say what it does do. If it's so unorganized and non-institutional, what is it? Dogen Sangha does have gatherings; do you just head out to the bar after a nice dinner at Olive Garden, or what?

    Basically, why should it exist at all? It seems like that answer points you to how to direct it in the future.

    Dogen Sangha International as a whole has never had any gatherings. Well, maybe 30 years ago when there were like 7 members. Since it grew big, none. At this point it would be an expensive logistical nightmare to organize such a thing. I am certainly not up to the task, nor does it seem necessary.

    The other local Dogen Sanghas meet wherever they meet.

    Why should Dogen Sangha International exist at all is a question I ask myself a lot.

    I've contemplated simply killing it off. Maybe I will. But not just yet.

  41. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 9:38 am | |

    What exactly is there to "kill off?"

  42. Khru Jr.
    Khru Jr. April 19, 2012 at 10:15 am | |

    BRAD,

    PLEASE POST A PIC OF YOUR DICK OR AT LEAST SOME PUBIC HAIR. CLIP SOME PUBIC HAIR AND MAYBE PLACE IT ON A PHOTO OF YOU AND PHOTOGRAPH THAT.

    THANKS.

  43. Mumon
    Mumon April 19, 2012 at 10:27 am | |

    Brad-
    One thing to do was to tell someone, "That's comparing mind" anytime they voiced a complaint, legitimate or not. Another was to call actions you didn't approve of "unskillful."

    The irony clings like flypaper to those statements.

    But seriously…what does that tell you about their realization?

    Not that one should really complain…they may be much more developed than the folks at Shaolin-si…it wouldn't be near impossible to do that these days, trust me.

    Not to mention me on one of my less auspicious days.

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm | |

    Who Killed Gautama?

    "But what’s the point in killing an old man who is already dying? Batchelor points out that the best revenge the Buddha’s enemies could have taken on him was to kill not him but Ananda, his faithful attendant. Ananda was the only one left after the death of Sariputta and Moggallana to have memorised the entire teachings of the Buddha. “If you killed Ananda, you killed Buddhism,” points out Batchelor. “By insisting that he alone be served with the pork and the leftovers be buried, the Buddha prevented Ananda from eating it.” The Buddha “hastened his own death”, according to Batchelor, “in order that his teaching would survive”.

    But the monk for whom the Buddha laid down his life ended up being upstaged by a relative outsider even before his cremation pyre was lit. Mahakassapa was a Brahmin from Magadha who became a monk towards the end of the Buddha’s life. He arrived with a large group of monks just before the pyre was lit, and insisted that the cremation not take place till he too had paid his last respects to the Buddha.

    This episode marked the beginning of a power struggle, with the newcomer claiming to be the rightful successor of the Buddha, and taking over the community. “There are two sutras in the Pali Canon where Mahakassapa is very dismissive, almost abusive in his dealings with Ananda,” says Batchelor, “dismissing him as a mere ‘boy’”. Ananda responds to this by pointing to his head, and saying: “Are these not grey hair?”

    On the face of it, the future of Buddhism after the Buddha’s death looked very bleak: at the cremation itself, when various kingdoms and republics applied for a share of his relics, the Kosalans conspicuously didn’t want any of him. And with a stern, elderly Brahmin at the head, sidelining Ananda, it looked set to become just another Indian religion controlled by priests. But that’s what’s so extraordinary about the Buddha, says Batchelor. “Here’s a person dealing with all these ambitious relatives and kings, and yet in the midst of his struggles establishes his dharma sufficiently well so that we are talking about it now, 2,500 years later.”"

    http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?264458

  45. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm | |

    The Life of the Buddha As Pieced Together from the Pali Canon

    "After Buddha was cremated and his relics distributed, the monks agreed to Mahakassapa’s proposal to hold a council in Rajagaha the next rainy season to recount, confirm, and codify what Buddha had taught. Mahakassapa was to choose those elders who could attend. He chose only arhats, those who had attained liberation, and these numbered 499. At first, Mahakasspa did not include Ananda on the grounds that he had not yet attained arhatship. Mahakassapa excluded him despite Ananda having the best memory of Buddha’s discourses. In addition, Ananda was a strong supporter and vocal advocate of Buddha’s wish for his order not to have a singular leader. Perhaps another factor involved in Mahakassapa’s dislike of Ananda was the fact that Ananda was the one who had convinced the Buddha to ordain women. This would have offended Mahakassapa’s conservative brahmin background. In the end, however, the monastic elders protested Ananda’s exclusion and Mahakassapa gave in and allowed Ananda to attend. According to the Theravada account, Ananda attained arhatship the night before the council."

    http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/teachers/lineage_masters/life_buddha_pali_canon.html

  46. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm | |

    Well at least we know what "relic" Khru Jr. will want from Brad's funeral pyre.

  47. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | |

    Could not agree more jinzang

  48. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm | |

    Brad Sed:

    "Dogen Sangha International as a whole has never had any gatherings."

    Well let's have a couple.

    One at SFZC

    A second at Stanford.

    If you throw a party and nobody shows, it's not a party.

    But, if I show up, I'm nobody…

    so if I show, the party is overOverOVER

    or not.

  49. Khru Jr.
    Khru Jr. April 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm | |

    BRAD,

    IF YOU AGREE TO USE THE FUNDS TO GET YOUR ASSHOLE BLEACHED, I WILL SUBMIT A VERY, VERY SUBSTANTIAL DONATION.

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