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Third Precept...beyond adultery
I think it's just reality that there are different variations of Buddhism. There is no "this is the real Buddhism" in my opinion. But there might be "this is what I find in my awareness at this time".
And then the 'cherry picking' is when you take things you like from different variations of Buddhism. So you could like the meditation method of Theravada but like Nagarjuna's analysis of dependent origination.
Hmmm, picking things you like? Is that a valid basis for discerning truth?
In my experience truth more often than not has facets you will not like. That is why I will stick with the teachings that can be tested, methinks.
At most you can say Thich Nhat Hanh's explanation of interbeing speaks more to me than chemistry as a way for understanding the world, and so I prefer it.
@Kerome you can like things that are true. I think most people do. But you only have so much time so you have to survey things a bit and then really read or watch in depth about the one (or few) that you think is true.
For chemistry it is a limited perspective. It only describes the form of things as composed of particles (and waves) and how those interact. Interbeing talks about the self/non self nature.
Forgive me @jeffrey but I think very many people care more about what they like than about what is true. It creates a lot of overly emotional attachments in the world, and is in my view a pleasant form of delusion.
People vote for Trump or Wilders because they like like what they say. But are these people fit to run a country, if you look at it objectively, when their post-campaign governing strategy consists of two pages of typed A4?
The bottom line is presenting people with what they will like is the bread and butter of advertising and marketing departments around the world, and politicians too. If you base your opinion on that you will find yourself being swept along in the tide of others opinions rather than forming your own vision of the truth.
I should say most people who go for Buddhism want the truth. I think it's essential and it is deep down part of awareness for everybody I am guessing.
Also @vinlyn since you posed the question, where do YOU stand on the 3rd precept and how it works out for people who are gay etc after reading through the thread? I don't think it's a coincidence that the precepts are a bit vague, because I think we are supposed to be figuring out what they mean for us with a basic foundation in place. There is a reason the precepts are very short statements, I think, versus a novel length sutra explaining what they are supposed to mean. Every one of them has multiple layers and each layer has multiple facets. It's up to each of us to explore them all as they apply to us. I can have my thoughts on gay relationships (I find them no different than straight ones and don't believe they should be treated differently. The HHDL has in the past disagreed, and it's quite possible Buddha would have, too. That doesn't mean they were correct, though) but my thoughts don't matter much because I'm not gay. If I were, my thoughts would probably be different in some ways.
Also, I think "cherry picking" sometimes has to be done. But it's up to us to figure out if what we are doing is a result of leaving behind old culture stuff that shouldn't have a place, or if we are doing it out of selfishness, attachment, or whatever other things are going on. There's a lot of stuff in the bible that is out-right rejected as ridiculous by most Christians. Because culturally they no longer make sense. There are other things that, to me, make just as much sense but they haven't gotten to a point where they have let them go or even thought about why they share those beliefs. They truly cannot answer why they believe one line in the bible is right, and the other is poo-poo business. Never questioning why you choose one belief and drop the other is the bigger problem, I think. Asking and looking at why you choose to accept or deny any of them should be an on-going investigation. The nice thing is, as Buddhists we are unequivocally encouraged to do so. Christians largely are not. But the level of questioning we go through is so dependent on all of our experiences, teachings, meditations, understandings and everything else. I don't think another person can declare "you are cherry picking because you follow X and not Y" without having a clue what they have gone through (and hopefully continue to examine why) to arrive at their current decision.
I completely agree if by "like" you mean it makes sense or because it is a method that works for you.
We have to cherry pick just to see which school resonates unless circumstance dictates the school.
Being non-sectarian, I have no choice but to cherry-pick but I see it as testing as well as scrutinizing which comes from being agnostic.
I did just notice how far we've strayed from the original topic so I guess I'm going to wait until either @Vinlyn comes back to steer or another topic is made about the pitfalls and benefits of cherry-picking.
With all due respect -- and I think you're one of our best posters -- I think you're reacting without really thinking about what I'm saying. Or, maybe I'm not explaining it well. Either way, let me explain my position in another way. Yesterday was one of my days to tutor the 2 monks in better English skills. After the lesson we sat and just chatted for a while, and they asked if I was coming to Sunday's weekly Rains Retreat ceremony, and if so, what Thai food would I be cooking. I told them that this week I would be making "laab", which is a ground meet dish that is spicy with lime juice (it can be ground chicken, pork, beef, or even fish). So they decided to test me and ask what ingredients I included in laab. They were pretty surprised when I listed off all the ingredients, included roasted sticky rice. But then I said, "And I add in some slices of tomato." "That's not laab", the said. And I started to take exception, but then though better of it. Because they were right; when you add a major ingredient to that dish, it's no longer Thai laab; it has become something else. Now that doesn't mean that you can't add the tomato if that's what you like, but to no Thai person would that really be laab anymore. You would have taken the recipe for laab and...well, I'll use the term diluted the definition of what laab is.
And that is similar to what concerns me about what I'm referring to as "pop Buddhism". Since I have been away for some time, I'm not sure if there have been any discussions about it lately, but think back to the past when there were discussions about the verbal -- not written -- transmission of Buddha's "exact" words over the first few hundred years after his death (which I think is nonsense). There are Buddhists that will swear up and down that the transmission was flawless, and that that spoken word transmission is exactly what Buddhism is. And then those same people will start tossing in their tomatoes and diluting pure Buddhist thought. It's sort of like the guy I was chatting with one day who said, "Oh, I'm Buddhist, too." And I asked him what school of Buddhism. "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, are you Theravada or Mahayana, or Zen, or...." "Oh, I'm of the Yoga school." Now, yoga is not a school of Buddhism. There is a relationship between Buddhism and yoga. And you might include both Buddhism and yoga in your personalized spiritual practice, but Buddhism and yoga are not the same thing. And what bothers me is that dilution of Buddhism, particularly in the West, by folks adding stuff to Buddhism, or deleting major aspects of Buddhist practice. I don't mean that they're not intellectually free to add stuff or delete stuff as part of their personalized spiritual practice, but I don't like that as more and more people do that, that it is diluting what Buddhism is. They can add in tomatoes and take out galanga, but they can't still call it Thai laab.
Another person I was talking to said they were Buddhist, and I asked if they followed the concept of the Triple Gem. They didn't know what that was. Did they believe in the Four Noble Truths. They didn't know what they were. Did they take the Five Precepts? What's that? Did they follow the Eightfold Path? Hadn't ever heard of that. So my complaint was that they were mistaking incorporating some Buddhist principles into their personal spiritual practice, as opposed to being a Buddhist. Whatever they include in their personal spiritual practice is fine with me. That there are some aspects of Buddhism in their personal spiritual practice is great. But for them to say, "I'm a Buddhist", is not accurate. They are diluting the essence of Buddhism by doing so.
And that brings up cherry picking, for wont of a better term. I do it. You do it. We all do it. It's fine. But when we cherry pick, or when we add that tomato, we need to stop fooling ourselves that it is pure Buddhism. I believe there is a God. But I also know that is not a Buddhist teaching, and I don't try to make it a Buddhist teaching. It's something in my personal spiritual practice, but it's not part of my Buddhist practice. There's a difference between BUDDHISM and incorporating some Buddhism-related concepts into our lives, and while both are good, I think we need to be aware of the difference.
I agree with this.
For example, drugs and alcohol. I think the Precept of Buddhist teachings is reasonably clear. But if someone says, "I admit, I like to have a drink, so I will", I have no problem with that, even if they're a Buddhist. Although I don't drink, there is beer in my fridge and usually rum in the cabinet for my guests. I accept that we all make personal choices. I reject that some people (including me) try to finagle a justification for going against Buddhist teachings.
On thinking about this, I find myself unexpectedly conflicted... I'm usually pretty permissive but when you think about it logically, a gay relationship involves sex which is not for perpetuating the species. You might therefore think it was an evolutionary mistake, a waste of energy. I can kind of see HHDL's point.
I would mostly go along with the list that Jeffrey contributed earlier in the thread:
"So some things I think violate (not in any order):
Sex with underage*
Sex with someone under care of their parents who have their rules (I would just add a need to define what "under care of their parents" means
Sex for one night stand but only if you think that harms yourself (I'm not quite sure what Jeffrey meant about this; I'm not opposed to casual sex if it meets most of the other standards Jeffrey mentioned)
Sex without consent*
Sex with a married person (I go back and forth on this. Is it my job to make them be "moral"? What if they are married by no longer have a sexual relationship? What if they are separated but still married?)
Sex with a person in committed monogamous relationship outside of marriage (I actually like this better for this and the last point)
Sex that causes disease i.e. not using condemns when needed
Sex that causes unwanted pregnancy i.e. not using birth control"
To reiterate what I said in another post, I don't have a problem with cherry picking AS LONG AS WE ARE AWARE WE ARE CHERRY PICKING. And I think this is very related to how we look at the Five Precepts.
Hey ...Can I just say...I like "Pop Buddhism" and cherries
Buddhist sex dogma/scripture written, promoted and expounded by patriarchal celibates is great advice for a few unmarried relics and clerics.
I assume that a healthy sex life takes many forms. Religious sex advice is rarely even remotely up to date, healthy, balanced, appropriate or even helpful in my experience. Maybe I am talking to the wrong people ...
The end of craving is an advanced state and comes in time. If ready, go for it. Otherwise we have to question why we crave the end of craving ...
Yes but the problem is calling it all "pop" Buddhism as that would include any and all sects aside from the actual spoken words of the Buddha.
You may not realize it but that's a derogatory term or at least is very suggestive of one and it feeds the divisiveness of the Sangha.
As far as I know, "pop" is short for "popular" and suggests a fad or trend. It implies that anyone engaging in cherry picking is only doing it to be cool.
That may not be your intention but it is the implication so perhaps just a bad choice of words.
also I'm not sure what you mean by pop Buddhism @vinlyn? It seems you mean to closely follow scripture. But you only mean specific scriptures right? Or no? Personally I find having a guru helpful because I can have her opinion on various scriptures. It's not that I am not thinking for myself but I am having an expert explain or recommend things and then I think in my own mind if I understand.
It seems confusing though. Are you talking about non-sectarian as cherry picking? And then would sects be viable or not based on your own opinion? So some sects you would disagree and some agree?
I find it interesting that some people are getting so upset about THIS particular "bad choice of words" yet some people have no qualms badly wording other statements, and sometimes deliberately about other practises, beliefs, lifestyles etc. and will even suggest that others harden up (words to that effect anyway), if an objection is raised.
Something for the sangha to ponder perhaps?
But @vinlyn, then it sounds to me as if you are suggesting that unless we follow all the precepts, the 4nt the n8fp, etc etc perfectly and purely, then we aren't Buddhists because we are changing Buddhism. If I have a glass of wine on Sunday (which I intend to do) despite having taking precepts (and for the record, the precepts I took with my teacher do not include anything about alcohol, interestingly) I am not suddenly not a Buddhist.
I understand your point in the examples given, but they are kind of extreme compared to what I am thinking about. I've taken no offense to anything you've said, it's just a matter of curiosity A major departure is different, to me. Using your recipe example, to me, it's still spaghetti whether you like a sauce with onions in it or not. But if you change the spaghetti to be zucchini, then it's not spaghetti anymore. Struggling with understanding and implementing changes, such as a precept, doesn't make one not a Buddhist. Having no idea what the major principles of it are is another thing all together.
Edited to add: I wonder how much of the common confusion between yoga and Buddhism (even for students within each of them) is that they share the use of the word "dharma." I could see someone hearing it in yoga class, doing a google search, and getting thoroughly confused, lol.
@dhammachick, who is upset?
It's just a conversation.
@dhammachick it is hard for me to know which people are doing what. One of the advantages of having a short memory I guess. For myself I hope I have not offended you or anyone else. For 'pop buddhism' I am not offended. I am just trying to understand if it means not adhering to scripture, specific scripture, or even specific or any sect. For me I just follow my own sect and guru and I'm happy with it and everyone else I hope they are happy with whatever they are doing.
And yoga school would refer to not focusing on doctrine scripture and not focusing on assessing truth of doctrine. Yoga would be focus on meditation.
I agree that it is flawed to only focus on yoga. My teacher said doctrine and analysis have sight but yoga/meditation has legs.
Without doctrine you are blind.
But with only doctrine/analysis and no yoga you have sight but no legs.
Regarding pure Buddhism the diamond sutra commentary of THich NHat Hanh says that
Buddhadharma is not Buddhadharma. That is how it is Buddhadharma.
This is the same form as: A rose is not a rose. That is how it is a "real in fact not concept" rose.
In TNH commentary he said that in Christianity or Automotive maintenance or whatever we can find the dharma. Because the dharma is made of things that are not the dharma. Just as a rose is made of water and different parts that the parts themselves are not a plant but are used by the plant. A non-self plant.
I understand that is not what you are talking about when you say 'adding tomato'...
But really not many people have a chance to go to Thailand or live in a monastery or have a teacher. So I guess I have some tomato too and that's okay with me. And it's okay if you say that I have a tomato.
Are you having fries with that? ??
@Jeffrey Yoga has it's own moral guidelines. Asana, or the practice of the movements we associate with yoga in the US, is only one of the 8 limbs. The moral practices make up most of the others along with breath practice and some other things. There are people who practice yoga in its entirety, but Asana is only a small part of it. Now, if you are a Buddhist and focus only on yoga, that would be a problem. But if you truly study the 8 limbs of yoga you most certainly can do that without anything else because it encompasses morals and ethical behavior and self discipline...then Yoga is a self-sustaining system. Yoga sutras are the doctrine of yoga. The problem is people don't realize they even exists. In yoga, dharma is kind of your life purpose. And has nothing to do with Buddhism. Anyhow, that's what I meant about the confusion of yoga people who think they are Buddhist because the word is the same. And it's common for yoga teachers to use parts of Buddhism without touching on the other parts, often because they combine schools of yoga where sometimes the Indian philosophy is part of the teachings...and sometimes it is not.
@dhammachick I don't see anyone being upset. I'm not upset. Not even the tiniest bit. Don't read emotion into text that isn't there.
That's how I feel about the mindfulness movement when the dharma isn't present.
Mindfulness meditation without the dharma is like yoga without Vedic dharma. I could see this being considered "pop" but I do also see benefits even as they could be greater alongside the right doctrine. The right doctrine for the right individual I guess.
Are we having fries with that?
What comes to my mind regarding cherry picking is the analogy of the finger pointing at the moon. The important thing isn't that the finger be completely accurate and pure but that it gets us to the moon.
For example if you were to take a road trip somewhere specific to the northeast. The "correct" way, the way that a certain tradition teaches you to take, may take you along a certain set of highways. One person could be at the portion that goes north and looks back at someone traveling east and say that they are going the wrong way, they should be traveling north like them. Or another person could decide to take some side roads and take a different route altogether. They wouldn't be cherry picking, they'd just be focusing on different aspects. The important point is that they're heading to the same destination not the route they take.
What I think can legitimately be called cherry picking is when someone denies or ignores another part of the path because they don't like it. So in the road trip example someone traveling east first says that the road only goes east for whatever reason, maybe the road north is hard, or they only want to go part way. Of course there's no requirement that one goes all the way, there is much to be gained along the way, it just isn't honest to Buddhism to say that the path stops somewhere earlier than it is taught.
Also, undoubtedly there are inaccuracies and cultural additions that are taught that aren't inherent to the actual Buddhist path and I think there is plenty of room to investigate and analyse what is legitimate and what can be abandoned or set aside.
The core defining features that I look to to decide if something is Buddhist or not are the four, sometimes 3, seals; anatta, dukkha, annica, and nirvana is peace. If it has those it's Buddhist, if it doesn't it's not.
Yeah I think a lot of Yoga practitioners who say "I do yoga" are doing what @karasti says. But when some Buddhist teachers says "Milarepa was a great yogi" they mean he had a great realization in meditation. The calluses on his butt got him there so to speak.
@David but mindfulness isn't a Buddhist exclusive. Taoism, for example, employs mindfulness. If you want to say mindfulness should have a basis in something, then I agree. But that only Buddhism works, I disagree.
I'm hardly being derogatory about cherry picking since I admit I do it myself.
The issue I am pointing out is that if you don't a reference to the Buddhist scriptures, then yes, you may have a fad or trend, rather than Buddhist substance.
@Jeffrey Yes, they cross a lot because in India, their yogic system crossed paths with Buddhism and great spiritual masters and teachers in India are called yogis, but it has little to do with asana/poses. Here, poses are almost all anyone knows about, which is unfortunate. I can see a misguided US yogi (one who does yoga poses) being entirely unaware of how their teacher is using Buddhism but never taking the step to really find out what Buddhism is. They just assume it IS what they are taught, even though it's just tidbits and quotes.
That is true and actually I am a Taoist Buddhist, lol.
I should have worded that better.
Karasti, I think you're not even thinking about what I'm saying. I said in a post above: "or deleting major aspects of Buddhist practice". Note the words "major aspects"...referring to major teachings of Buddhism along with multiple major teachings of Buddhism.
And I specifically talked about alcohol, and that if you came to my house you'd be offered a beer or a mixed drink. But I wouldn't say that I'm doing so because it's what Buddhism suggests. Quite the opposite.
And I will go back again and repeat what I have said more than once -- I don't care what one chooses to include or exclude in their personal practice. I care when one misrepresents Buddhism and its belief system so it fits around their personal preferences. That's my point.
It's okay to say, "I'm a Buddhist but I don't agree with the generally held interpretation of the prohibition on alcohol and drugs." But there also comes some point where one ise setting aside so much Buddhist scripture that you shouldn't say, "I'm a Buddhist", but might more accurately say, "I have a personal belief system and much of it is based on Buddhist principles."
It may not be intentional as I said. However, it did seem to me that you were painting with a broader brush than that.
So do you include yourself with the "pop" label or just cherry-picking? The way you worded it made the two seem to mean the same to me.
@vinlyn yes, with the clarification in your longer post above, I understand what you are talking about and I agree. Prior to that post, it was unclear to me. I just was extra-clarifying.
@Kerome But I think the reason HHDL came around to gay relationships is because he recognizes there is so much more to relationships than what happens in the bedroom and whatever that happens to be, no one should be made to feel less as a result of who they love and how they express it. He didn't change how he considers it for monastics, of course. Just lay people. He doesn't seem to segregate sex as solely a procreational activity. He said as long as it makes sense to them and is consensual it's ok. Sex has a biological point, of course, but I don't think that is the only point. Just because sex is used to create new humans doesn't mean that is the only thing it is good for. I think even the HHDL understands that despite his lack of experience. If we were only meant to have sex to procreate, then our sex organs wouldn't keep working for 50 years past the point we can have kids,
Based on the principle which you have just stated (or was it just a joke?), may I assume you never discuss topics in which you haven't personally participated in. You would never discuss murder, rape, Donald Trump, or abortion?
I will say again what I said earlier. What I was asking the monks was what the formal Sangha position based on the Dharma was in regard to sexual relationships.
I wasn't asking about their personal experiences, or how to "do it". I was asking for the official interpretation of the Precept because, "To the Buddha I go for refuge, to the Dharma I go for refuge, and to the Sangha I go for refuge."
Indeed, but you seem pretty testy. Glad to see that's not the case.......
Sorry, was just following the cues.....
So perhaps sex also used to function as a social exchange... there is some precedent for that in other primates such as bonobo's. Except our taught behaviour these days has made sex among the most confined, laden human activities. Human society has a way of complicating things that should be easy and natural.
In what way? and Why?
I personally think - for my part, as this is not a universally-held PoV in other Buddhist traditions - that it is Tibetan Buddhism that is mistaken, not 'evolution'.
Well if you consider that a relationship is forming a strong attachment, then you could say that this is not desirable. It is necessary for families and procreation, but why else would you take the risk of forming these attachments? I think that that is how their thinking might go.
From a Western perspective which holds that families are one of the joys of life it's a bit of a leap to think like a Tibetan monk - I could be wrong and I'm certainly not saying I agree with them.
Yes, I get that, but as I pointed out, this seems to be singularly a Tibetan/Mahayanan PoV.
Theravada does not think in such extreme terms for laypeople, and does not question their decisions, but permits them to come to their on conclusions with regard to personal consequences. Forming relationships is one kind of attachment. The trick is to not make it a dependent one... That's when it becomes clinging/grasping. There are some attachments which are beneficial, while they are dominant. Like our attachment to the Dhamma. But as with the raft, it is merely a vehicle helping us to get from one side to the other. The same can be said of Relationships. Enjoy them while you are along for the ride, but once you ahve reached the conclusion - in whichever way that might arrive - release the attachment.
Easier said than done, for any kind of relationship. Why single out homosexual relationships?
I don't follow Tibetan Buddhism so I can say most emphatically, that I definitely don't.
I like the way you explained that.
Even though I follow TB there are things I disagree with. My teacher doesn't mind, lol. I think one of the reasons you see comments and quotes within Tibetan versus Theravadan Buddhism is because the structure of the hierarchy makes it easy to ask. If the westnern non-Buddhist world wants to ask a Buddhist authority what the official stance is on X, who do they go to? HHDL. Much of the western world thinks he is the Pope of Buddhism. They don't understand that is not at all the case. No other Buddhist branch has such a highly regarded (world wide, regardless of whether they are Buddhists, I mean) or well-known famous person to speak on their behalf. We don't all know what any Theravadan masters think of gay relationships because CNN has never asked them. Not saying they would agree, just making the point that HHDL, and thus TB, is much more visible because of his status. FWIW my teacher has always maintained that people should make their own choices and use the guidelines of no harm that runs through the entirety of the 4NT and Eightfold Path to do so. He has told us numerous times that the theme of no harm is the thing you should always come back to when you question the intention of how a precept or anything else is written.
But that said, it requires a pretty intense personal exploration to determine if you are really being honest and what your real concern is for harm. There are a lot of people who harm others thinking they are protecting them because of misunderstanding (ie those who claim to care for gay people but tell them not to have relationships because that is a sin). They claim they want to protect the person from harm by encouraging them to not engage in sin but still love them. Yet they don't understand how harmful that is to the person they are engaging.
@Kerome I don't think it is our nature to make things so dang complicated. I think religion has made us make things more complicated, largely. The US has their noses in everyone's bedrooms, and always has. That comes from puritanical values history and our "we are a nation built under God" garbage. Europe largely doesn't deal with that (as you said in the other thread, Europe is largely, and increasingly, non-religious) but they are a much, much more established and older country. Lots of people in the US think that way and it seems to improve each day, but it's taking our young people to fight for who they are against the older people who hang onto those puritanical values because to them the represent when the US was at its best (even though that's quite far from the truth).
QFT. Basically, what I said.... @vinlyn, I hope this helps. You get much the same 'advice' both from a Theravadan and a Mahayanan/Tibetan Teacher....
TB has a reputation for being conservative and monastic oriented, but I've never heard anyone talk about renouncing relationships for lay people or even really for monastics, there's a lot of social interaction in monasteries. Some people go on long retreats or live as hermits.
In fact many of the tantric lamas and tulkus in some of the sects have families while maintaining students and a meditation practice.
I'm confused. Is TB Tibetan Buddism or Theravada Buddhism?
I suspect Tibetan Buddhism.
Theravada monks absolutely do not have families, in the married sense.
I have never heard of Theravada Buddhism being referred to as 'TB'.
ha! sorry @vinlyn, yes, Tibetan.