THE 6th AND 7th PRECEPTS


I am stunned and amazed by the response to that last post. It proves once again that I have no idea when Im being controversial and when Im not. Ive put posts up here previously that I was certain would set off riots with blood flowing freely through the streets and no one seemed even to have noticed. Then something like my thing about Big Mind which I felt was a pretty minor rant, standard issue for me and a tad boring doesnt just get over 140 responses here, but sets off a long, long thread at something called the Buddhist Community E-Sangha (dont ask me, I never heard of it before someone sent me the link). Maybe its cold out in most of the country this time of year and people dont have much else to do but sit and type on their computers.

I looked at most of the comments. Some were pretty impressive. The one video link someone posted of Ken Wilber wired up to what looks like an Etch-a-Sketch with blinking Christmas tree lights Scotch-taped to it to prove he can go into the most macho deep Samadhi the world has ever known is classic, by the way. Honestly, I cannot even comprehend why anyone would fall for something like that.

The comments about the sixth and seventh precepts deserve a little discussion, though. These are the precepts telling us not to criticize others (or other Buddhists as it is sometimes given) or to be proud of ourselves and slander others. One of the great problems I see in Buddhism today is the way these precepts can be twisted to give just about anything deflector shields worthy of a Klingon Bird of Prey against all criticism by anyone involved in Buddhism merely by stating that what one is doing is a form of Buddhist practice. The very worst example of this was in 1995 after the Buddhist Master Shoko Asahara used poison gas on the Tokyo subways. My friend Taijun, a Japanese Buddhist nun, paid close attention to the TV, newspaper and magazine coverage of that event in Japan. Though a huge number of Buddhist monks and nuns were interviewed about Asahara, and though all of them condemned the attack, not one of the monks or nuns Taijun saw or read about said that what Asahara taught was not Buddhism. Its as if they couldnt bring themselves to cross that line.

Since the Sixties, words like Enlightenment, Awakening, Satori, Kensho and all the rest have entered into our language and popular culture. Lots of people think they want these experiences, but have no idea just what they really are. As long as the deep confusion about these words remains, its easy for unscrupulous people to define anything they please as Enlightenment. In the Sixties and Seventies lots of folks in the West thought that the brain damage caused by the use of various psychoactive chemicals was Enlightenment. A few years ago a couple of pinhead burn-outs tried to revive that idea with a popular book and, amazingly, found a large number of supposed Buddhists who either supported or were unwilling to criticize their position. Now we have organizations trying to promote the idea that Enlightenment is something that can be had instantly through some special technique that Surprise! Surprise! they just happen to hold the patent on.

One of the posters at Suicide Girls pointed out that the purported Buddhist Master Id criticized there recently was the head of a large and highly respected Buddhist organization. I had actually deliberately left that detail out because, to me, that makes it all the more troubling. So long as no one from that group points out that what this man is selling is clearly unrelated in any way to Buddhism, the rest of us have to assume the organization as a whole supports and agrees with it. And that is a sad state of affairs.

It is very important for those who practice and teach Buddhism to be willing to speak out when some popular trend claiming to be Buddhist is clearly not. That doesn’t always mean shouting from a soapbox. But maintaining noble silence may not be the only alternative. As Buddhism becomes more fashionable and establishes itself as a mainstream philosophy the tendency for all manner of charlatans to latch on to the air of sanctity available to anything that labels itself Buddhist will only increase. If we dont criticize these things because we fear we may violate the precepts were doing a terrible disservice to people who want to know what real Buddhism actually is.

287 Responses

Page 6 of 6
  1. guderloy
    guderloy March 13, 2007 at 6:54 am | |

    While Bankei lived among the other monks at the temple, he refused to chant the sutras with them in Chinese.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 13, 2007 at 7:01 am | |

    Brad, are you sure you’re not deceiving yourself?

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 13, 2007 at 9:39 am | |

    and others?

  4. Stuart
    Stuart March 13, 2007 at 10:24 am | |

    > everyone has different methods.
    > the real question is, how to
    > tell which methods work and
    > which are clearly not going to.

    To say a method “works” implies an at least implicit goal: I’m here, but I want to be there, which method moves me closer? That’s OK, but there’s still the question of who set up that goal and why. In other words, what do you want?

    > so what exactly is original mind
    > then?

    What are you doing right now?

    Stuart
    http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

  5. Stuart
    Stuart March 13, 2007 at 10:32 am | |

    > “Western Zen” seems to me to
    > be “imitation Zen.” What’s with
    > all the Japanese robes, Japanese
    > chanting, Japanese ritual,
    > Japanese rules, Japanese
    > Buddhist names…?

    Zen practice involves following a certain form. The particular form you use is absolutely irrelevent. All that matters is that you follow the form, so that when you bump up against it, you can clearly perceive thinking (I like/don’t like this, etc).

    Since we already have forms from Asia (Japanese, Korean, etc), there’s no particular need for new ones. If it happens gradually over time, no problem, but why push it? If we were to create a set of completely American forms, imagine the number of committee meetings it would take to decide all the specifics. And God, I hate meetings.

    Also, since the forms from Asia don’t mean anything to us Americans, they’re particularly well suited for us. These foreign forms didn’t arise from our own desires and opinions, making them good tools for perceiving our desires and opinions. If someone created new American forms, they’d be tainted with the opinions of the person who created them. Who needs that?

    Stuart
    http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

  6. dan
    dan March 13, 2007 at 11:22 am | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 13, 2007 at 12:06 pm | |

    This is why he had no successors.

    You may have missed the point of the teaching of Bankei. :)

  8. Karen
    Karen March 13, 2007 at 1:13 pm | |

    To Esmerelda and Professor Dave,
    I am still out here, occasionally reading, but just choosing not to comment. And, the more of it I read, the less I really want to read, let alone comment. I really have a different view on what “real” buddhism is that doesn’t fit these kinds of forums. I agree that there are a ton of phony teachers, teachers who are acting out what they “think” a teacher should be and I think there are real teachers. If you ever meet a “real” teacher, it probably won’t be in a classroom, temple or zendo. Pay attention to your own life and your own reactions to those little annoyances that come up every day. Know yourself without judging and something will start to unfold. And you won’t have to unload anything on pages like these.
    Karen

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 13, 2007 at 2:27 pm | |

    “If someone created new American forms, they’d be tainted with the opinions of the person who created them. Who needs that?”

    So then the Japanese forms were tainted Korean forms which were tainted Chinese forms which were tainted Indian forms…………

    That’s ridiculous. If Americans can’t be bothered adapting the teachings to their own culture as the various Asian cultures have,
    then it is just an imitation.

    If you aren’t Japanese, Tibetan, Chinese, Vietnamese…..etc why dress and speak as one? Makes the whole Buddhist thing look hokey to me.

    Like the guy who I met in the book store the other day. He was looking through the Tibetan Buddhism books and I asked if he was interested in Buddhism. He replied, “Yes, I’m a Tibetan Buddhist.”

    Clearly he was Anglo-Saxon so I said, “Funny you don’t look Tibetan.” To which he took immediate offence.

    “Tibetan Buddhism can be practised by anyone and can adapt to anyone’s culture,” he said angrily.

    “Then shouldn’t you say you are a Vajrayana Buddhist, or Tantric Buddhist” I asked.

    “Then no one would understand what that was,” was his reply.

    “Then clearly it can’t adapt to another culture” I said.

    “Since we already have forms from Asia (Japanese, Korean, etc), there’s no particular need for new ones.”

    Why?

    “Zen practice involves following a certain form. The particular form you use is absolutely irrelevant. All that matters is that you follow the form, so that when you bump up against it, you can clearly perceive thinking”

    So, playing dress-up, and speaking in a foreign tongue is the “form?”

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 13, 2007 at 2:36 pm | |

    Sounds like Buddhism is doing well In Japan!!!

    From here – http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/waiwai/news/20070313p2g00m0dm012000c.html

    “Punk priestess grinds out grudge to attract lost souls to Tabby Temple”

    Osaka’s Kakuryoji is headed by a self-professed punk priestess called Renzuki who has shunned the traditional money oriented path toward Enlightenment, instead using a smidgen of Nirvana-like grunge to guide lost souls toward the path to, well, Nirvana, according to Spa! (3/13).

    In a far cry from the quite, serene, peaceful Buddhist, Renzuki has become notorious for unleashing vicious verbal barbs directed at AUM Shinrikyo (the death cult that carried out the 1995 deadly gas attack on the subway systems), blasting the Yamagishi (a religious group often accused of being a cult) and also putting on fashion shows and dance displays within her temple.

    “When my dad was the chief priest, there were about 150 parishioner families whose payments kept the temple afloat. By the time my generation took over, the number of paraishioners started dropping one at a time, then two at a time, and so on,” Renzuki tells Spa! “One day, I realized that there were only five paying parishioner families left.”

    Renzuki had long criticized Buddhist priests for charging hefty fees to conduct traditional funerals, so didn’t see that path as an option. When her father died, leaving her as the new chief priestess, Renzuki opted to introduce a little originality, choosing to put on punk funerals. Parishioners were inflamed by the diabolical death rites and cut off financing Kakuryoji. Renzuki was forced to fund the temple on her savings.

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 13, 2007 at 2:38 pm | |

    Sounds like Renzuki is a friend of Brad’s?!

  12. Stuart
    Stuart March 13, 2007 at 3:17 pm | |

    Anonymous said…
    > If Americans can’t be bothered
    > adapting the teachings to their
    > own culture as the various Asian
    > cultures have, then it is just
    > an imitation.

    Sure the teaching needs to adapt. The forms don’t need to change.

    You’re attached to American forms, so when Buddhism uses foreign forms, it causes a problem for you. Much much much better to examine that attachment than to avoid it by changing the forms of Buddhism.

    > If you aren’t Japanese, Tibetan,
    > Chinese, Vietnamese…..etc why
    > dress and speak as one?

    Following a form that’s got nothing to do with your own desires and opinions is called “practice.” Trying it might do you some good; just thinking about it won’t do anything.

    Stuart
    http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

  13. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 13, 2007 at 8:46 pm | |

    stuart said;

    “You’re attached to American forms, so when Buddhism uses foreign forms, it causes a problem for you. Much much much better to examine that attachment than to avoid it by changing the forms of Buddhism.”

    Or perhaps instead:

    You’re attached to asian forms, so when Buddhism uses western or american forms, it causes a problem for you. Much much much better to examine that attachment than to avoid it by clinging to the asian forms of Buddhism.

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 14, 2007 at 5:44 am | |

    As a socially-engaged Buddhist,
    don’t you just hate those
    embarrassing premature announcements?

  15. gniz
    gniz March 14, 2007 at 6:26 am | |

    I love when we get into pissing matches over who is “more attached.”

    haha! ridiculous!

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 14, 2007 at 7:41 am | |

    I’m sick of hearing about the whole twin towers thing. Bad people crashed planes into it, people died. It was terrible, get over it. Move on.

    America asked for it anyhow, a pity innocent people had to suffer.

    But, their collected karma is to blame right?

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 14, 2007 at 8:20 am | |

    I’m confused by all these “Zen masters.”

    What is the CORRECT term for a “Zen master.”

    I’ve seen:

    The Rev. so-and-so Roshi
    Roshi so-and-so
    The Ven. so-and-so
    Rev. so-and-so
    Zen master rev. so-and-so
    so-and-so Roshi………….

    Is there no standard? How can I tell who is legit? How does one address a “Zen master?”

    Is there a difference between Soto, Rinzai and Sanbo Kyodan titles? I know this is an ego thing and relates to being “a self,” but surely there is a correct manner in which to address a Zen priest, no?

  18. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 14, 2007 at 10:07 am | |

    I think Brad fears the Genpo…

  19. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 14, 2007 at 10:22 am | |

    Yep. Upon further consideration, Brad definitely fears The Genpo. I think they should duel…eyeball-to-wacked-out eyeball–one can root, the other toot…then switch!

  20. drunken monkey
    drunken monkey March 14, 2007 at 11:12 am | |

    “gniz; I love when we get into pissing matches over who is “more attached.”

    haha! ridiculous!”

    I am so much more attached and ignorant than you are!

  21. Jinzang
    Jinzang March 14, 2007 at 11:24 am | |

    What is the CORRECT term for a “Zen master.”

    “Venerable” is used if the person is a monk or nun. “Reverend” is sometimes used instead. It’s also proper to refer to anyone who leads a center as “Sensei” (the genreric Japanese name for any kind of teacher.) Or if you really want to lay it on thick, “roshi” (equivalent to “Zen Master.”) Hence it’s okay to say “Sensei Brad Warner.” If you call him “roshi,” you’d better duck.

    Is there no standard? How can I tell who is legit?

    There are lineages in Zen and you can always ask someone who their teacher was and if they authorized them to teach. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean as much in Zen as in the more tightly controlled and hierarchical world of Tibetan Buddhism. Teachers can and do teach any way they want and act any way they want after getting permission to teach. In Zen you have to rely on your own judgement.

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 14, 2007 at 3:45 pm | |

    anonymous said:

    > I’m sick of hearing about the whole
    > twin towers thing. Bad people
    > crashed planes into it, people
    > died. It was terrible, get over it.

    Unfortunately, there is no
    “getting over it”, until you
    Americans open your eyes and
    face the facts.

    The Big Lie you are living wreaks
    unnecessary havoc throughout
    the world and lays waste to what
    once might have been a great
    country. If you are unwilling to
    face the truth, no matter how
    terrible, perhaps you should
    consider returning the
    Statue of Liberty.

    Merci beaucoup.

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 14, 2007 at 5:23 pm | |

    “Hence it’s okay to say “Sensei Brad Warner.” If you call him “roshi,” you’d better duck.”

    Actually, it’s Brad Warner sensei.

    Sensei is NEVER placed before a persons name. The same is true of roshi, -san, -sama, kancho, etc…….

    ‘”Venerable” is used if the person is a monk or nun.”

    But in Japanese Buddhism there can be no such thing as a “monk.” They are all priests. In Japan, ordination is based on the Bodhisattva vows in the Bhrahmajala Sutra, which consists of 10 major vows and 48 minor ones. The Vinaya stipulates that monks, (bhikshus) follow 250 precepts and nuns 348 precepts. Japanese Buddhists are clearly NOT monks.

    “There are lineages in Zen and you can always ask someone who their teacher was and if they authorized them to teach.”

    And what if that “tradition” is of the jigo jisho or mushi dokugo type? What then?

  24. Jinzang
    Jinzang March 14, 2007 at 6:37 pm | |

    Thank you for your corrections.

    If someone claims to be self-enlightened, I would view these claims skeptically, But I don’t entirely rule out the possibility.

  25. Asana Bear
    Asana Bear March 14, 2007 at 8:53 pm | |

    whatever buddhism is, it ain’t enlightenment in an hour. Would all those “real buddhism what’s real buddhism” folks say the same thing if “The Secret” had been called the “Dharma Secret” with how to use “Big Mind” to direct the universe to give you a mercedes benz or color tv or bring janis joplin back to life?

  26. quiksilver
    quiksilver March 15, 2007 at 2:12 am | |

    And again: – Thank You Brad -

  27. guderloy
    guderloy March 15, 2007 at 7:49 am | |

    “I am stunned and amazed by the response to that last post. It proves once again that I have no idea when Im being controversial and when Im not.”

    It looks like there is something else going on here besides controversy. 150 comments followed by 275. That’s sick.. You should try posting your recipe for chicken soup next and see how many hits you get.

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 16, 2007 at 8:57 am | |

    Just what the world needs; another Buddhist teacher with the emotional maturity of a fourteen-year-old. I thought this went out with Bubba Free John, or maybe Trungpa or Maezumi.

  29. cookie
    cookie March 16, 2007 at 4:50 pm | |

    Hol-E Crap. Run away, runaway, all of you. Just when I thought Brad was pretty solid, he touts Dharma Dave the siliest mindfuck imaginable. Guys, I have no idea about the Big Mind process but this is a waste. Buddhism is 2500 years old and it works. This ain’t it. Don’t waste your one and precious life.

  30. Mockney Rebel
    Mockney Rebel March 17, 2007 at 5:54 am | |

    I once read the following regarding ‘dharma dan’ (whom Brad seems to hold in high regard)..

    1. If he is an Arhat and has eliminated all fetters, then he embodies the idea of “no-self”. From the Madhyamikan perspective that means he no longer generates a projection of “self” or “other.” There is no “self” to be found because when all the fetters are extinguished one no longer has the karma (psychological conditioning) to think in dualistic terms. Hence when so called ‘stream enterers’ to ‘Arhats’ are questioned, they are not acting coy or humble when they admit they are not enlightened….it’s just that they don’t think like that because they sincerely don’t conceive of a ‘self’ or ‘other,’ so it is impossible for them to admit say statements like “I am enlghtened”.

    2. I do not see that Sayadaw Pandita has listed him as a qualified teacher. Probably the most imporant of my two reasons.

  31. Brad
    Brad March 18, 2007 at 12:16 pm | |

    Who the fuck are Dharma Dave and Dharma Dan?

  32. cookie
    cookie March 18, 2007 at 2:15 pm | |

    “Dharma Dan” is the self-given name of Daniel Ingram.

  33. Dan
    Dan March 19, 2007 at 6:26 am | |

    and what about dharma dave? when has brad ever mentioned these people? who are they?

  34. Mockney Rebel
    Mockney Rebel March 19, 2007 at 11:49 am | |

    Brad mentioned ‘dharma’ Dan Ingram over on SG…

    “Last week they posted a really great audio interview with a guy named Daniel Ingram on just this subject. You can listen to it here. Daniel is a teacher in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. And for a guy from the Lesser Vehicle hes pretty smart! (This is a joke, OK.) Though I think he lays it on just a tad too thick towards the end like someone else I know has a tendency to do (me) hes spot on in his basic assessment and I really wish more Buddhist teachers would say stuff like this.”

    One might be amused at the irony of Brad mentioning ‘Dharma Dan’ as someone who debunks fake buddhist teachers :)

  35. Brad
    Brad March 19, 2007 at 1:05 pm | |

    I see… At least about Dharma Dan, though I still have no idea who Dharma Dave could be. I know nothing about Dan Ingram save for that one audio interview. So anything I said was in reference to what he says in that specific interview. I really have no interest in the Buddhism scene as it stands today, so I pay no attention unless someone sends me something.

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 12, 2007 at 7:40 am | |

    Hi, Added a new value add to my blog this weekend – a news widget from http://www.widgetmate.com. I always wanted to show latest news for my keywords in my sidebar. It was very easy with this widget. Just a small copy paste and it was done. Great indeed.

  37. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 28, 2009 at 5:21 pm | |

    there are so many snags to get caught in when you take to labeling things; buddhism, enlightenment. Lose it all. Then maybe you’ve made some progress.

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