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Criticisms of Buddhism

2

Comments

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I am not qualified to comment on tantra but I do know enough to point out that Buddhist tantra is not the same as the Hindu. It is the latter which was taken up by Westerners as sexual practices. The confusion has been clarified a number of times, here, by Palzang and we may need to await his wise views before leaping to conclusions.

    The matter of abuse, sexual, physical and financial, by Buddhist teachers needs addressing, as does the denial. The same problems have been encountered within the Christian communities, particularly (but not exclusively) in the Catholic Church. Although the reality of these accounts has, finally, been admitted, it has taken far too long.

    Buddhists need to understand that, even if they themselves lead lives of blameless purity and devotion, to outsiders the whole edifice is tainted. As I asked a leading Catholic only the other day: "Having lost people's trust and respect, how do you go about regaining it?"

    Good opening for page 2--I hope we get someone qualified to answer the first question. I'd also like to know in perhaps general, if not specific, terms what the practices are that accompany the tantric sexual practice. Shamar Rinpoche says Westerners tended to ignore the overall context that was being presented and just go for the specific techniques. In other words, they didn't take it as a spiritual practice. I'd like to know more about the spiritual part of the practice. From what I've heard from dharma women, it was mostly men who were interested in the tantric practices back in the 70's and 80's, and it wasn't spirituality they were after.

    To go about regaining legitimacy and respect, I think Shamar may be on the right track: he has set up centers that don't teach Vajrayana (tantra), but that focus on the tried-and-true basics of Buddhism. (www.shamarpa.org) Another way would be to ordain more nuns. If there are any women interested in studying tantra, they could do so with the nuns. There's a practice in Vajrayana called "stripping the ego", where the students strip naked before the lama. If women are involved, this should be done with a nun presiding, not a lama. This sort of thing would help clean up the image. Also I feel that anyone hosting a lama for a long stay should brief him on the concept of sexual harrassment, and explain that that sort of thing is viewed very negatively in the West. A "no tolerance" policy is what a few sanghas I've read about have instituted after serious problems arose.
  • edited November 2010
    As far as Buddha's original teaching goes ( 4 Noble Truths & Noble 8 Fold Path ) to me are nearly flawless.The only admission would be paying equal time to developing the physical body as well.
    This is why I practice Chan. IMHO, a perfect blend of Dharma Buddhism & practical Taoism. Zero dogma. Just hard work.
    It is my belief that if you don't have physical discipline,you can't have mental discipline . W/o mental discipline you can't have spiritual discipline.
  • edited November 2010
    Sticking with the core Buddhist teachings and practices sounds like the way to go. Some of these elements that got added on and became Vajrayana--stripping naked? "Deconstructing the ego", I read about on another thread? Not to mention the tantric part-- seem odd.

    But I've read about Zen roshis involved in sexual misconduct with their students, it's not just Vajrayana that has that problem. It's about power, and teachers who haven't done enough to keep their own egos in check. A general lack of integrity. Should sangha members speak up to their teachers about these things? Do sanghas have boards-of-directors who should take up these questions? How should these problems be dealt with when they come up? What if most sangha members revere the teacher so much, they don't want to believe or act on a complaint?
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Dakini wrote: »
    ....................Another way would be to ordain more nuns. If there are any women interested in studying tantra, they could do so with the nuns. There's a practice in Vajrayana called "stripping the ego", where the students strip naked before the lama. If women are involved, this should be done with a nun presiding, not a lama. This sort of thing would help clean up the image. Also I feel that anyone hosting a lama for a long stay should brief him on the concept of sexual harrassment, and explain that that sort of thing is viewed very negatively in the West. A "no tolerance" policy is what a few sanghas I've read about have instituted after serious problems arose.

    I love your optimism, Dakini. Nuns do not, alas, guarantee good behaviour, as shown by the example of our brothers and sisters in Christian schools and institutions. Take Ireland as a case in point but, also, read Therese of Lisieux's diaries. Women are quite as capable of bullying and abusing as are men. To believe otherwise is, I suggest, covert sexism.

    What is needed is a clear code of conduct and protection. Unfortunately, as I shall be saying on another thread, there is no central authority which can control or sanction such a code. "No tolerance" helps, of course, but it is a negative. What is needed is a positive approach - and before rather than after the event.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Fair enough, PilgrimSimon. I was aiming mainly at the point that if nudity and sexual practice are involved, then it would be best for that to be presided over by a nun when women practitioners are participating. Although all the women I've spoken to/emailed with have no interest in sexual tantra. This "fad" clearly got started mainly by Western men.)

    Are you starting a new thread? It sounds constructive. Please let us know.
  • edited November 2010
    Am I the only one mystified by Dakini's implication that only men are interested in sex? That hasn't been my experience within the Dharma and without. I have scarcely encountered a single man that was terribly interested in the sexual yogas outside of serious advanced practice.

    Quite frankly, if one wants to get laid one should simply get laid. It isn't that hard or that complicated. These advanced practices are NOT ordinary sex. They are nothing like it. They are hazardous for the unprepared. They require tremendous meditational discipline. They are not a euphemism for illicit sexual relations.

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
  • edited November 2010
    Dakini: In thread after thread you make grave claims that demean the great teachers in the various Tibetan traditions without providing anything more than gossip, speculation, poorly sourced anecdotes and hyperbole. If there is even an iota of evidence to back up your claims, I suggest that you provide it. Otherwise, such malicious agenda-driven gossip is a particularly grave fault on a forum that provides helpful advice to those new to the Dharma. If you have any genuine interest in Dharma, I suggest that you reflect seriously on the heavy karma of such slander if it proves untrue and you have turned even a single being away from engaging the Dharma path.
  • edited November 2010
    I do agree that people (especially in the modern world) take bits and pieces of practices they like and abandon those they don't like. I know a lot of practitioners who jump straightaway into Tummo or Milam or Gyulu without wanting to get into the base practice of Ngondro at all. They think they are ready. And when they are confronted with obstacles which challenge their current ideas of what Buddhism is (preparing meat and alcohol for Ganachakra, for example) they balk and cringe and whine and complain.

    How many of us are willing to be mentally broken down of our own mental constructions over and over and over again, just like what Milarepa went through? How many of us are willing to take that leap of faith over that cliff of mental prejudice, just like what Naropa had? How many of us are willing to go and take time and carefully examine every single teacher we had before taking even a single teaching from him, just like Tsongkhapa had?
  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Now we are at the heart of the problem:
    Can we separte the man and the message?

    I find it entirely unsurprising that Buddhist teachers should be involved in scandals than that Christian leaders are. Power and authority are profoundly corrupting. Hierarchies distort the finest 'souls'.

    But what about the message? Sogyal Rinpoche's book is still as wonderful. Wagner's music is still (in places) superb. Guenter Grass still wrote the seminal post-war German novel.

    Can you separate the man from the message?

    Are Four Quartets any less because Eliot held antisemitic views?


    Wonderful questions ... by this I mean they stretch my thinking and help my clarity in seeking to answer - many blessings to you Simonthepilgrim :)
  • JoshuaJoshua Veteran
    edited November 2010
    karmadorje wrote: »
    Dakini: In thread after thread you make grave claims that demean the great teachers in the various Tibetan traditions without providing anything more than gossip, speculation, poorly sourced anecdotes and hyperbole. If there is even an iota of evidence to back up your claims, I suggest that you provide it. Otherwise, such malicious agenda-driven gossip is a particularly grave fault on a forum that provides helpful advice to those new to the Dharma. If you have any genuine interest in Dharma, I suggest that you reflect seriously on the heavy karma of such slander if it proves untrue and you have turned even a single being away from engaging the Dharma path.

    If it's to any avail I was personally in awestruck by the information and all it's caused for a newbie like me was a bigger commitment to studying tantra and even if even a slight aversion towards Vajrayana for now, no aversion for Buddhism altogether. It is, indeed, a thread on criticisms. I find the unrelenting desire to explore all aspects on philosophical and psychological inquiry to be among the greatest allures of Buddhism as a westerner, no? Of course, as westerners, first and foremost, whether indoctrinated actively or passively, early or late, We've turned away from Jesus and thereby ostracised ourselves as run-of-the-mill westerners in favour of more rational dogmas on average, no? In particular Buddhism, and more specifically a criticism thread, one must enjoy dialectics, or at the very least, be prepared to exercise the conflicting thoughts, no?
  • edited November 2010
    Valois: I welcome an open thread on criticism. What I deplore is gossip, rumour and invective that is factually sparse and poorly sourced, if not made up out of whole cloth. On such an important topic, when we discuss the lives of those who have dedicated their lives to a purpose we must be very careful to back up what we say with the best evidence we can muster so that those new to the subject can see for themselves.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited November 2010
    I have stated time and time again, that if certain claims or references are made, whatever they may be - doctrine, quotations, essays, writings or matters such as those being discussed here, now - that those posting such references to said material and information MUST supply suitable reference links which are both authentic and verifiable.
    Tittle-tattle and gossip, hearsay and 'Chinese whispers' are not the way to convey studied opinion.
    I would certainly, in this particular situation be of the same mind as karmadorje.

    I would request that Dakini either be prepared to back up all claims made, or remain silent until such a time as presentation of verifiable information sources is possible.
  • edited November 2010
    Dakini wrote: »
    The secret esoteric sexual initiations in the tantric traditions--the Hevajra Tantra, Cakrasamvara Tantra, Kalachakra Tantra, and others, require the use of 8-, 10-, 12-, 15- and 19-year-old girls. The girls are told they will receive a blessing from the lama, but they end up being raped all night by the lama and the initiate. (That's why these rituals are top-secret.) The instructions to the ceremonies say that if the "partners" are unwilling, to administer alcohol. And if that doesn't work, to take the girls by force.

    Wow.
    I have received all of those empowerments and many more and have never EVER encountered anything that even comes close to resembling what you are describing.
    This is absolute nonsense. You are going to have to provide a better source than some unpublishable internet book that is terribly researched, horribly inaccurate, and clearly pushing an agenda. It sounds a lot like PRC propaganda to me in the extreme nature of its accusations.
    You are way off with this Dakini.
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    There are a great many Abuses of Vajrayana and alot of misunderstanding to.
    However this does not change the fact that it is a potent method for changing the mind, Lord Buddha was always clear that we should not take things at face value, people or teachings so we should definatly apply this to teachings and teachers we encounter, Looking beyond the scope of abuse by teachers however even from some limited Lower Tantra practise it has a great capacity for positive growth and well being in the practitoner. When you find a teacher who demonstrates this perfectly without misconduct or flaw then you see what its real nature is.

    Oh by the way just for those who wish to know, According to the Vajrayana practises in breif they where given by Buddha who appeared in the form of Buddha Vajradhara to give quick path practises to very accomplished practitoners in order that they may eliminate the most subtlest delusions and their imprints from their mind that obstruct them from Buddhahood.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Hi, gang, I'm ba-a-a-ck, with a link to one woman's testimony re: Sogyal, Sakya Trizin, and others. I see someone has already read the "Shadow of the Dalai Lama" book, where the highest level of tha tantric practices is presented. Shenpen Nangwa: what level of the esoteric practices did you receive (if I may ask), and in what school/sect? More on this later. Here's that link: http://www.american-buddha.com/am.learn.1a.htm
    I wasn't able to find the testimony from the woman who was a "consort" of the 16th Karmapa. If I find it, I'll post it here. I've done a lot of intensive research in a short amount of time, and didn't write down the urls for my sources. If anyone has a problem with women's personal testimony supposedly not being valid, not "scholarly"--this is all we have. Women aren't making this stuff up. Nobody could make this up. It points to a problem that needs to be solved, somehow, so more people don't suffer similar incidents.

    Karmadorje, I didn't say women aren't interested in sex, I said (or meant) most aren't interested in tantric sex. In the sanghas I've participated in over the years, I never encountered anyone with this interest, male or female. But some of the women who have suffered severe abuses say that they did notice in their sanghas, there sometimes were men hanging around, harrassing the women, and talking about tantric sex. Also, Shamar Rinpoche says that after Ole Nydahl spent a lot of time with the 16th Karmapa in the 70's, Shamar and the Karmapa (and, I assume, others) got the idea that Westerners were hot for tantric sex. Undoubtedly, other Westerners, including women, passed through, contributing to that impression (Shamar writes about "hippies", and the "hippie lifestyle" in his letters about Nydahl, www.shamarpa.org). At any rate, a misconception was created, based on people who were outside the norm, which is unfortunate. I think a lot of the problems that have resulted were due to that misconception, a reputation that Westerners got, due to the behavior of a few, or of a certain demographic. Also, I think word of Chogyam Trunpa's "exploits" got back to people in Asia, feeding into this impression. Sogyal has been quoted as saying he wanted everything Trungpa had (the adulation, the women, money), and was going to set out to get it. I think the testimony above includes that, if not in the one letter, in another, I'll get you all that url, if you want it. Anyway, I bet Sogyal wasn't the only one who heard all the stories and wanted in on the action.

    Dharma center leaders have met with HHDL on this topic, including Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock, outside San Francisco, and he told them that the women should take their grievances "to the newspapers, and, if necessary, to the police". His office has been receiving letters of complaint for many years. I don't know about the rest of you, but I take my guidance from HH. He didn't say, "The women should grin and bear it, and suffer in silence; going public could scare people away from the Dharma". My respect for him is even higher than before as a result of his taking this position. It's not just American women, it's Canadian women, German women according to the authors of the "Shadow" book, probably others.

    Caz, could you elaborate on the Vajradhara teachings? Does this not contradict the Buddha's example of celibacy? I've read that some people believe he taught tantric sex as appropriate for more realized practitioners, but I haven't been sure of the source.

    RE: those rumored highest esoteric practices, it seems that if you read the texts, it's obvious they have to be practiced not via meditation, but with a consort. Furthermore, there are instructions in the texts that if the "partner isn't willing", to administer alcohol, and if that doesn't work, to simply take the girls by force. (Also in the "Shadow of the DL" book, but I've seen that elsewhere as well.) Why would such instructions be necessary, if the practices are to be done in meditation only? Further:

    I'm in touch with the authors of the "Shadow" book, Victor and Victoria Trimondi. When I asked if those rituals were still practiced, Victor said "The Kagyupas and Nyingmapas speak openly about sexual rituals" (a vague statement, granted), and that the Gelugs no longer do, except for the Dorje Shugden group. I haven't gotten back to him yet to ask for more detail about his sources,(but I will), but it's clear he has interviewed a number of lamas. He said some lamas have written about these secret rituals (he said they're not a secret anymore), and that those sources are in the extensive bibliography in the book. I haven't had a chance to go through the bibliography and find those sources. Please, folks, Caz and others, I'm not into the D. Shugden controversy at all, I'm only interested in abuse issues. I'll keep everyone's comments in mind as I continue looking into the topic.

    Yes, the Trimondis have an agenda. Germany is on the DL's case because of his friendship with Harrer (still!) and other former Nazi connections, and because of world supremacy themes in the Shambhala Myth in the Kalachakra Tantra, that they say were adapted from that source by the Nazi movement. The Trimondis aren't the only ones to publish a book in Germany on this. It's big in Germany because of Germany's history, I'm not into any of that. (The DL was a child when Harrer met him, they should get over it already.) I know the DL has visited one or more of the concentration camps to inform himself on this painful history, I don't think any of these authors mention that. But this info on the rituals is important, if true. I've run into other sources that say these are performed "live", not only in meditation. If I find any of those, I'll post them.

    Enough here, more comments coming later on the "Buddhist Theocracy" thread, in response to Karmadorje's and others' concerns. That should wrap it up for this topic. (Everyone can heave a big sigh of relief.)
  • edited November 2010
    Dakini,
    I have received the complete teachings on the practices that you mention and have also completed the practice retreats associated with many of them.
    I have received them from the Gelug, Kagyu, and Nyingma traditions.
    I have received the instructions in their complete form on many of the "esoteric" practices of these lineages.

    "The Kagyupas and Nyingmapas speak openly about sexual rituals"

    This is complete nonsense. Nobody speaks openly about sexual rituals, nor are they practiced institutionally. Any kind of "tantric sex" that may be practiced is between consenting couples who are trying to integrate all of their actions into the path of practice. Even in that sense it is extremely rare.

    "Those rumored highest esoteric practices, it seems that if you read the texts, it's obvious they have to be practiced not via meditation, but with a consort. Furthermore, there are instructions in the texts that if the "partner isn't willing", to administer alcohol, and if that doesn't work, to simply take the girls by force."

    I've read many of the texts and still have no idea where you are getting such outrageous ideas in the first place. Sexual imagery is used in iconography and texts to depict the union of wisdom and method/compassion or clarity/emptiness. The idea in tantra is the transformation of desire into wisdom. That what the sexual imagery in iconography is referring to.
    The ideas that you have about alcohol and "taking the girls by force" is simply outrageous.

    again, you are going to have to provide a better source of info than an agenda pushing and misinformed web link.
    I'm not denying that individuals have behaved inappropriately and despicably. But, these assessments of the tradition are misguided and extremely misinformed.
  • edited November 2010
    Also, I'm curious why you chose Dakini as your forum name?
  • edited November 2010
    Upon further reading of your link I have to say I dont believe the accounts about Sakya Trizin, Thrinley Norbu and Dodrupchen at all.
    I have never heard anything even remotely similar to accusations like this made toward them. Their records and conduct as a dharma teachers are/is impeccable.
    The link you posted is slander of the worst kind in regards to these teachers.
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    shenpen nangwa, and whoever else wants to know my opinion:

    I don't have one, except that I tend to favor your view, shenpen nangwa.

    There will always be people throwing mud and vicious people making up false stories. I just don't wanna see the sordid details, and just turn off the source.

    I think this thread has gotten so far off from the probings of the OP, that it's almost a crime.

    Some people have agendas, for one reason or another. The untruthful, scandalmongering people I have known in my own life seem to have their own selves fooled.

    Of course, I sprang from a Christian tradition in which the words of St. Paul to the followers of the Way at Philippi (Cap IV) were stressed:
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. These things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard [the tradition], and seen in me, do: and the god of peace shall be with you.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I, myself, was surprised when Victor Trimondi said the Kagyus and Nyingmas "speak openly" of these things. I haven't had a chance to get back to them for more info. (Too much time spent on these threads, for one thing. ;) ) As to those "instructions", I've come across them in a number of locations on the internet. I've done a lot of intensive research and reading in a short amount of time, to try to understand the context of what these women have experienced and are complaining about. I didn't expect that I'd be on a discussion board, nor was I planning to write a book, so I don't have notes about where, exactly, I found all this info. I can try to go back and find it and post some references, but it'll take time.

    I've spoken to the woman who wrote that bit. Why would anyone make up ALL that stuff? How could anyone even imagine some of those incidents? And everyone knows Sogyal is a bad apple, there shouldn't be any question there. He had a lawsuit filed against him (by another woman, not the one who's testimony you read), and paid a settlement. What women are telling me is that the lamas are very good at maintaining their image. For this reason, so many of them, I'm told, demand total secrecy (although Sakya Trizin didn't), and intimidate the women in various ways to ensure that secrecy. I'm told there are a number of women in Germany who have had spells cast against them to guarantee their silence. (Seriously) These women are terrified of these spells, that something terrible will happen to them if they break the silence. (This, via email from VictorTrimondi.) A pattern emerges from many of these stories; student is studying meditation or whatever with teacher. Teacher unexpectedly proposes tantric sex to "further your practice". Student is shocked, bewildered, ultimately, outraged. Student usually refuses. Lama becomes angry and starts threatening student, as well as saying the student will miss out on an important practice. Student gives in. (These are typically women in early-to-mid 20's with a family history of abuse.) Ordinary, tawdry sex results. Student may leave, or the lama may manipulate the student into regular encounters, to "practice", usually with more threats. If these stories were made up, I don't think they'd have these commonalities. I don't think it's very compassionate to deny this reality. The compassion business isn't always neat and tidy. It can upset applecarts. You have no idea what it's like to go through what these women have been through.

    Bear in mind that men are in a privileged position, in that they are able to participate in sanghas and even study one-on-one with teachers without any concern about inappropriate behavior. How would you know what women's reality is? Although I haven't suffered anything serious in my dharma studies, I have had to fend off unwanted attention from a number of lamas, a couple of whom were monks. I usually ended up dropping out of the sangha. If there was a teaching I didn't want to miss (the Lamrim), I put up with the overtures, being as politely evasive toward the lama as possible, and sat by the door, so I could be the first one out at the end of the teaching. Why should women have to put up with this, or worse? Why can't we study unmolested, like our male counterparts? Why does Dzongsar Khentse Rinpoche (the filmmaker) say "Western husbands are naive to send their wives to Asia alone to study with lamas"? Why aren't we safe with our teachers? What a statement! (He has recently withdrawn the letter from his website that contained that statement.)

    I'm looking into abuse issues because I want to a) try to determine the extent of the problem; Is it as widespread as women say it is? If so, I'd like to figure out how to solve the problem. If not, they should stop saying it is. My feeling, though, is that they're right. b) I'm trying to understand the cause of the problem. I've put my preliminary thoughts in that regard on another thread. c) Finding out about this has caused a bit of a personal crisis in my relationship with Buddhism, expecially Vajrayana, which seems prone to this type of problem, due to the tantric aspect, which lamas abuse in regard to their Western women students. I'd like to see things cleaned up so that I can have respect and faith in the dharma community again, and so I don't have to feel wary of teachers.

    I chose the name "Dakini" simply because I've been reading about the history of the tantric practices, in order to get some background understanding to what these complaints of coercion into tantric sex are about. A name was required to register on this site, and that's the first thing that popped into mind.

    The woman whose testimony you read was interviewed by Canadian Broadcasting 2 weeks ago for a documentary on sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhism. CB believed her, and others. Maybe over time the program will air in the US. As a practitioner, I'd rather that a solution to the problem be found "internally", before the issue explodes into the media. But it may be too late for that. The one thing I don't know is if this type of problem is on-going, or has it settled down a bit, after a flurry of incidents in the 70's and 80's, and into the 90's. I'm just in the beginning stages of looking into it.

    I have one question about those highest initiations; if it's all done via meditation/visualisation, then how does the initiate demonstrate that he's mastered the technique? He can't do that without a "consort". Gedun Chopel, who was familiar with the ceremonies, has a number of recommendations in his book on how to prepare girls for sex (he recommends not taking them by force, because this can "damage the genitals". He has an alternative activity to recommend, to produce the "female seed" (the vaginal fluid) used in ceremonies, and in sexual activity). Why are these recommendations necessary?

    I'm hoping we can wind this up; I'm mindful that this has been taking up a lot of room on more than one thread. Plus my computer's down, I'm on a borrowed computer. I'll do the best I can to answer more questions, if needed.
  • edited November 2010
    There is nothing to wind up. You have consistently failed to provide any sources whatsoever for the outrageous statements that you continue to make.
    Its absurd to be honest.
    I will address this however since it actually pertains to Buddhist practice:

    "I have one question about those highest initiations; if it's all done via meditation/visualisation, then how does the initiate demonstrate that he's mastered the technique? He can't do that without a "consort". Gedun Chopel, who was familiar with the ceremonies, has a number of recommendations in his book on how to prepare girls for sex (he recommends not taking them by force, because this can "damage the genitals". He has an alternative activity to recommend, to produce the "female seed" (the vaginal fluid) used in ceremonies, and in sexual activity). Why are these recommendations necessary?"

    There is no need to "demonstrate that one has mastered the technique" and even if there was it wouldnt be through a sexual act. The practice is a yogic technique and the visualization IS the practice. If one has mastered the visualizations and yogic techniques then he or she has transformed and purified their perception of the internal and external world. That is what its about, not engaging in a sexual act. As I stated before. The imagery and visualization techniques use sexual references in order to transform and transcend desire, not to reinforce it. I'm not really interested in Gendun Chopels statements on the subject. They are most likely taken out of context and if not I have absolutely no problem with disagreeing with him. If he says those things in his book, he is simply incorrect in his interpretations of the ritual texts and tantras that they are derived from. They are not necessary, nor are they even valid.

    I have met and known thousands of women who practice Vajrayana who have never had experiences like this. They continue to practice within the tradition in a way that is beneficial and safe.
    I dont deny that certain individuals have behaved poorly but to link it to these ideas about institutional sexual abuse in Vajrayana is absolutely absurd.
  • edited November 2010
    again, you are going to have to provide a better source of info than an agenda pushing and misinformed web link.
    I'm not denying that individuals have behaved inappropriately and despicably. But, these assessments of the tradition are misguided and extremely misinformed.

    I agree..especially after going to www.american-buddha.com...much of the information there comes off as well-intentioned but highly slanted. Of particular concern is this portion on Tibetan Buddhism:

    "A former American convert to Tibetan Buddhism for over 20 years speaks her mind. Her viewpoint is that, although American Tibetan Buddhists have made the decision to adopt traditional Tibetan Buddhist beliefs because they seem authoritative and reliable, this decision has been a mistake. First, she finds that Tibetans themselves suffer from ethnocentrism and cultural arrogance that blinds them to the virtues of Western culture and predisposes them to favor all things Tibetan. Second, she finds American students far too willing to abandon the advantages of our intellectual training and democratic culture of equality in favor of medieval concepts still espoused by Tibetans due to their cultural backwardness."

    Wow..
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    There's nothing I can say if people choose not to believe someone's testimony. I've spoken to the author of that testimony at length. She was involved in the lawsuit against Sogyal, and he paid a settlement. The basics of the case are on Wikipedia under Sogyal Rinpoche.

    Upon being asked to provide documentation for some of my accusations, I tried to pick the least emotional and sensationalistic of the notes by that author. (It does get worse.) I'm aware of the tone of the website in general. Try to understand that the site creators threw themselves wholeheartedly into the dharma, donated land to a center and helped build it, and gave 20 years of their lives to it. A lot of very weird things happened over the years. So they're embittered, and try to support others who have suffered. At some point it would be helpful to recover from the anger, etc., no argument there from me. I think they've provided a service by posting testimonies. I ignore the rest of the site. What they're saying is similar to what some of the abused women are saying (see quote posted by Artemis), unfortunately. I'd like to see these abuses stopped, somehow, to restore harmony and mutual respect to the global Tibetan dharma community. I think Shamar Rinpoche may be on the right track by running a clean show at his centers, and not teaching Vajrayana techniques. If that's what it takes in the short-to-medium term, then so be it. That doesn't address situations that can arise in India/Nepal, though.

    Whenever I'm asked to defend a position, a new can of worms gets opened, and people get even more upset. I see no point in continuing, especially since I don't have sources at my fingertips. (The point was never to upset people, but to draw attention to distressing issues that need to be addressed.) When/if I come across sources that support my statements (the "Shadow of the DL" book doesn't count, I see), I'll post them in the future, if anyone really wants to revisit this. I never took notes on my internet research in the past, but I'll begin doing it. I believe those who say they've done the ceremonies via meditation/visualization only. Maybe the sources I've come across are wrong, I'll keep looking.

    Dakini, over-and-out
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I have said before that abuse of power and position are simply the results of such power and position and thus no surprise, which does not mean that we should accept them. Have we all forgotten the lessons of the Women's Movement? We learned (re-learned?) that hierarchy and pyramid power structures are corrupting.

    These are not, however, criticisms of Buddhism, they are criticisms of Buddhists, a confusion that is far from skillful.
  • edited November 2010
    In reading this thread, I am not quite sure how it got from a question about the basic question of Richard Dawkins and if Rebirth is a valid concept to cover so many issues.

    Just to toss in my own thoughts...

    I think that Dawkins has done a very good job in explaining evolution and why it is so very important to understand science. He has done a less good job when dealing with religions, which he seems to consider as just plain bad with no middle ground.

    As for the concept of rebirth, I do not think that one has to take that full plunge right away to benifit from the Buddhist teachings. Just start with your life as it is now and reflect on what happens both in you mind and in the exturnal world when you commit positive or negitive actions.

    Then just slowly work on having the positive actions out number the negitive acts and see how that feels.
  • edited November 2010
    In reading this thread, I am not quite sure how it got from a question about the basic question of Richard Dawkins and if Rebirth is a valid concept to cover so many issues.

    I think someone interpreted "Criticisms of Buddhism" more broadly than the OP intended.

    As has been discussed on other threads, one doesn't have to believe in rebirth to be a Buddhist, since the Buddha taught to question and analyze everything. Eventually, one may have a personal experience of insight into past lives, or the past lives of other people. (I knew a massage therapist who was sensitive enough that he could pick up personal information of his clients from their energy fields, including past life information.) Until something like that happens, one can remain in "questioning mode".

    But there was a quote on pg. 1 of this thread that said the Buddha didn't really believe in rebirth; he taught it because he knew his audience couldn't accept a 1-life only doctrine. I've never heard that before. I wonder what the source is that that theory is based on. How would someone know what the Buddha was thinking, if what he taught was completely different? If someone could prove the Buddha didn't believe in rebirth, that would be a major revelation.
  • edited November 2010
    But there was a quote on pg. 1 of this thread that said the Buddha didn't really believe in rebirth; he taught it because he knew his audience couldn't accept a 1-life only doctrine. I've never heard that before. I wonder what the source is that that theory is based on. How would someone know what the Buddha was thinking, if what he taught was completely different? If someone could prove the Buddha didn't believe in rebirth, that would be a major revelation.

    It's an intriguing theory. I don't know, though...assuming for the sake of argument that the theory is correct, I'm not sure the strategy--to undermine the whole notion of reincarnation/rebirth--was/is a successful one.

    Plenty of people still (mis)interpret the concepts of multiple karma and multiple lives in a way that allows them to unfairly judge others (and perhaps also themselves)..it was one of the things that initially turned me off of Buddhism and the concept of karma in general until further reading indicated that I was getting an incorrect perspective.

    Specifically, it was a bit in Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion :

    Julia Sweeney is also right on target when she briefly mentions Buddhism. Just as Christianity is sometimes thought to be a nicer, gentler religion than Islam, Buddhism is often cracked up to be the nicest of all. But the doctrine of demotion on the reincarnation ladder because of past sins in a past life is pretty unpleasant. Julia Sweeney: 'I went to Thailand and happened to visit a woman who was taking care of a terribly deformed boy. I said to his caretaker, "It’s so good of you to be taking care of this poor boy." She said, "Don't say 'poor boy', he must have done something terrible in a past life to be born this way."'

    Now, after research, I feel that the Thai woman had a mistaken view of karma, at least in the Buddhist sense..or perhaps Sweeney misunderstood her, or perhaps the woman was having a bad day and later regretted saying that, who knows...but it seems to me that if the Buddha actually believed in "one life only", he would have done better to preach that rather than risk further complicating the issue.

    Or, as Douglas Adams put it, "A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." :p
  • edited November 2010
    Nirvana wrote: »
    the words of St. Paul to the followers of the Way at Philippi (Cap IV):
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. These things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard [the tradition], and seen in me, do: and the god of peace shall be with you.

    The difficulty with following these words at all times is that if we can easily miss, ignore or dismiss abuse, cruelty and other suffering which is in the world.

    The skill lies in recognising what must be dealt with out of compassion and loving kindness and what is ugly, dishonest, bad, false and without virtue.

    Metta
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Fran45 wrote: »
    The difficulty with following these words at all times is that if we can easily miss, ignore or dismiss abuse, cruelty and other suffering which is in the world.

    The skill lies in recognising what must be dealt with out of compassion and loving kindness and what is ugly, dishonest, bad, false and without virtue.

    Metta

    That is precisely the paradox of 'Love your enemy'. Can you love the abuser, the tax gatherer, the cruel enemy? This is precisely what Jesus the Christ, and, after him, Paul, challenges us to do. It is totally counter-intuitive, as is the idea that 'God the Father' loves unconditionally, so counter-intuitive that few Christians dare suggest it, even to themselves.

    The true skill lies in recognising that there is nothing that cannot be approached with compassion, no matter how 'ugly, dishonest, bad false and without virtue' it appears to the deluded observer.
  • edited November 2010
    NamNam wrote: »
    I am definitely biased to Buddha's teachings but as a scientist and one who bases my decisions on logic, I find the concept of recincarnation as fundamentally flawed. The reasoning behind my conclusion on reincarnation is simply because I have not seen it in my own eyes and the concept itself has a fairytale concept behind it. It has a supernatural element to it in my opinion.

    PLease share your thoughts on this topic if you wish, I am very curious and interested in what some people think about this.

    Buddhists do not believe in reincarnation, but they do believe in rebirth.

    Reincarnation: to believe in a soul or a being, separate from the body. At the death of the physical body, this soul is said to move into another state and then enter a womb to be born again.


    Rebirth:Take away the notion of a soul or a being living inside the body; take away all ideas of self existing either inside or outside the body. Also take away notions of past, present and future; in fact take away all notions of time. Now, without reference to time and self, there can be no before or after, no beginning and ending, no birth or death, no coming or going. Yet there is life! Rebirth is the experience of life in the moment, without birth, without death; it is the experience of life which is neither eternal nor subject to annihilation.

    See friend, the world has several laws of nature:

    Karma Niyama — Consequences of one's actions
    Utu Niyama — Seasonal changes and climate
    Biija Niyama — Laws of heredity
    Citta Niyama — Will of mind
    Dharma Niyama — Nature's tendency to produce more perfect types over time (evolution).

    Rebirth fits into that paradigm. Simple stuff.
  • edited November 2010
    Also to Dakini, I'm making the request to stop being a womanizer. Us ladies are perfectly capable of being wise enough to know when men are stepping outside the bounds of their teachings and women have reported abuses in the past (when they have happened) and the result is the usual expulsion from the Sangha and jailtime for the abusers of power. Women are also as capable as men to separating the real teachers from the whackjobs. There are whackjobs out there, but good investigation reveals it, and no one is spared from Karma Niyama.
  • edited November 2010
    That is precisely the paradox of 'Love your enemy'. Can you love the abuser, the tax gatherer, the cruel enemy? This is precisely what Jesus the Christ, and, after him, Paul, challenges us to do. It is totally counter-intuitive, as is the idea that 'God the Father' loves unconditionally, so counter-intuitive that few Christians dare suggest it, even to themselves.

    The true skill lies in recognising that there is nothing that cannot be approached with compassion, no matter how 'ugly, dishonest, bad false and without virtue' it appears to the deluded observer.

    It is percisely those who are commiting negitive acts who reqiure the most help. I tend to look at it almost like Spiritual Triage, to put the most badly wounded ahead of the less wounded.

    Although, to be honest I am by no means perfect at doing this

    It is a work in progress...LOL
  • thickpaperthickpaper Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Buddhists do not believe in reincarnation, but they do believe in rebirth.

    Not all Buddhists believe in rebirth,I do not, for instance. Moreover I think the Buddha probably didn't either.

    Rebirth is the experience of life in the moment...

    Maybe, but we should be clear that some take Rebirth in the very literal sense that there is life after death in some significant sense and the corollary that one should act now to benefit some life that is not this life now.

    The distinction is profound, and one which we will never resolve by debate:)
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2010
    thickpaper wrote: »
    .................. I think the Buddha probably didn't either.


    ..........................

    I've read this argument many times and it took me a long time to understand why I disagreed. Then it struck me: to assert that the Historical Buddha did not believe in rebirth is toi suggest that he was, in some unexplained way, apart from the context and culture into which he was born, raised and lived. If all around him held the belief as a given, we can only attribute a contrary belief to Gotama if we see him as more than a human being. That he may have had doubts, having understood the chain of dependent origination, may be tenable but an assertion of non-belief stretches my historian's mind too far into the mythic.
  • thickpaperthickpaper Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Then it struck me: to assert that the Historical Buddha did not believe in rebirth is toi suggest that he was, in some unexplained way, apart from the context and culture into which he was born, raised and lived.

    Yes, this Hindu/Bramen context was around for millenia before Buddha. The Hindu context, with its engrained notion of an afterlife that can be bettered by ones actions in this life. (Rebirth, reincarnation, heaven et all are all "same same but different" in this respect)

    So I think it is plausible that the Buddha's teaching considered this notion as a delusion, just as all the other delusions we are guided to rid ourselves of. Perhaps he really was saying, "Folks! Don't you see? This attachment to the idea of an afterlife is itself a cause of Dukka! This is our only life, there is no soul, everything is impermanent, strive to extinguish Dukka now. Right here, right now, in these tiny lives of ours."
    If all around him held the belief as a given, we can only attribute a contrary belief to Gotama if we see him as more than a human being

    I don't see what you mean. In the view I am proposing as worthy of consideration the Buddha is very very human and very very impermanent and empty.

    That he may have had doubts, having understood the chain of dependent origination, may be tenable

    I think more than tenable, fundamental. For me, the point about the Buddha's non belief isn't historical but illuminated by Right View itself.
    but an assertion of non-belief stretches my historian's mind too far into the mythic.

    Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, none of us can be historians about the Buddha. We cannot even say, with much more certainty than Beaowulf or Moses, that he existed at all. All we have are the myths of his life. Myths which are preserved in the texts that we written hundreds of years and miles after his purported death.

    I do not belittle these texts at all in this statement of fact, but the facts of the lineage of Buddhism's evolution do belittle any claims to historical accuracy or certainty. We should all be mindful of this and, as with all things, doubt until we can no longer doubt.

    It is a fascinating topic, but it is pretty irrelevant to the reduction of suffering in this life or in the countless lives ahead, or otherwise.

    Namaste
  • edited November 2010
    I think the idea that the fruits of one's actions can affect future lifetimes is useful, in that it helps (in theory) to keep people on the virtuous path. Christianity doesn't have that; in Christianity you can live a life of mayhem, but as long as you repent at the last minute, you're home free. That's the most irresponsible doctrine I've ever heard. Or am I missing something?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Dakini what do you think if a college professor sleeps with a student? I don't think its bad unless the student is 17. These women are adults. They can close their legs right?

    If a guy says he was bitten by a shark in a bar. And is a doctor. And rich. And he sleeps with a girl. Does it warrant a wikipedia article. Buddhists (Without vows) are not Christians. They can have sex. Casual.

    You shouldn't take leave of your senses just for a guru.... If your guru told you to murder lady gaga would someone do it? It takes two to tango and responsiblity is both ways I am sorry to say. Unless its rape.

    Spells? Thats bullshit.

    Its typical male behaviour to pursue females. I can understand a 18 year old succumbing... But everyone must one day get disillusioned with the angelic nature of the opposite sex.
    Sex has a price. We don't always leave our trists with glowing feelings for our eternal life on our death bed.

    I've been meditating for 8 years and I am still as interested in girls as I ever was..

    Closing comments: unlike 10 year old altar boys these woman are 50% responsible. And adults screwing around doesn't need to be on wikipedia. Yes Lamas can have sex. If x celebrity has sex is it a scandal? Well probably so. Sheesh!
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Jeffrey, you have raised a valid fundamentalist Christian criticism of Buddhism:

    For Buddhists sexuality is not sinful.
    Therefore, Buddhists are by nature immoral.
    It therefore follows that the Buddha had to be immoral.
  • edited November 2010
    Nirvana wrote: »
    Jeffrey, you have raised a valid fundamentalist Christian criticism of Buddhism:

    For Buddhists sexuality is not sinful.
    Therefore, Buddhists are by nature immoral.
    It therefore follows that the Buddha had to be immoral.

    Wait, what? Sex is sinful in Buddhism if it involves adultery, or brings harm to others. And the Tibetan word gets translated into English as "sin". Sex is not sinful in Christianity if it's in the context of a monogamous relationship/marriage. Actually, I don't entirely understand the Christian attitude toward sex, but I'm just pointing out that both religions spell out parameters for sexual activity. Or were you drawing a distinction between "sex" and "sexuality" that I missed? OK, you're talking about fundamentalist Christians, but...they're narrow-minded and ignorant of Buddhist morality.
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    You're talking about fundamentalist Christians, but...they're narrow-minded and ignorant of Buddhist morality.

    Are we allowed to criticize non-Buddhists in this thread? :lol:

    I think what I said to Jeffrey a few posts above, although a bit tongue-in-cheek, is really the way lots of theists think. This is true, I believe, not only of fundamentalists of any one creed, but of many folks.

    I myself don't generally find it worthwhile to refute short, nondogmatic statements made here, but if it helps you clarify your thinking, fine.
  • edited November 2010
    Yes, thanks. I'd never heard before what you said about a Christian criticism of Buddhism. Do they really say that? Sorry, I'm having trouble getting my mind around it; it makes no sense to me, because it's not based on fact. But you were sort of kidding, anyway? (Feeling lame right now...)
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `   South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I'd never heard before what you said about a Christian criticism of Buddhism. Do they really say that [Buddhists think any kind of sex is OK]?

    No, not per se, CW! That's why I said a few posts above to you that my words to Jeffrey were a bit tongue-in-cheek.

    My meaning was not tied up in sexuality, per se. What I was unsuccessfully trying to say was that to many fundamentalist types, morality equals one's sexual "purity." In other words, for a lot of people (if not indeed most in the West), the first principle in morality is tied up in the need to channel sexuality in a very specific way. Outside the "right parameters," immorality comes into play.

    I do, however, believe that in the East people are much more natural and laid back about sex.

    This is the point where most moral philosophers have to take their first leap from.

    On a final note, I don't understand this feeling lame on your part. You're fine! Nobody here is trying to make you feel foolish! It's just hard to communicate in words and harder still without inflections of voice and facial expressions, &c.
  • edited November 2010
    One way in which Tibetan Buddhism is similar to Roman Catholicism and many other fundamentalist Christians is in the general attitude to homosexuality, which is difficult for many who hold more liberal views:
    In a 1993 talk given in Seattle, the Dalai Lama said:
    nature arranged male and female organs "in such a manner that is very suitable... Same-sex organs cannot manage well." But he stopped short of condemning homosexual relationships altogether, saying if two people agree to enter a relationship that is not sexually abusive, "then I don't know. It's difficult to say." [5]
    The Dalai Lama was more specific in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997, where he commented that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists, whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals. At a press conference the day before the meeting, he said, "From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct." http://www.religionfacts.com/homosexuality/buddhism.htm
  • edited November 2010
    HHDL has been inconsistent on this point. In "Out" magazine, he took the stance that if sex was handled responsibly and wasn't abusive, then it's ok. But on most other occasions, he's been firm that sex that uses organs not intended for the act are not allowed (no oral or anal sex). That used to be posted on the Gov't-in-Exile's website, as well. Given that he knew he was addressing the gay community in the magazine, the community can take his statement at face value. I think his restrictions pose a problem for heterosexuals as well. There are additional prohibitions, such as no sex during daylight hours. I think these rules were made for another time, another society altogether.
  • cazcaz Veteran United Kingdom Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Fran45 wrote: »
    One way in which Tibetan Buddhism is similar to Roman Catholicism and many other fundamentalist Christians is in the general attitude to homosexuality, which is difficult for many who hold more liberal views:

    Many seriously disagree with this view I for one. Sexual Misconduct is that which harms other people we should use wisdom not cultral bias.
    Within Vajrayana there is a lot of symbolic male, femal sexual imagery this is symbolic of the union of wisdom and method or great bliss and emptiness the real Vajra. However this does not mean people with Homosexual preferances are prohibited from taking Vajrayana practise, As with any other practise what aversion they have must be over come for example there are many male practitoners who visulise themselves as Vajrayogini and then visualize themselves entwined and inseperable from Buddha Heruka, Vajrayana is about overcoming ordinary views and appearance so It is very much practisable by anyone whom meet the correct causes and conditions.
  • edited November 2010
    Fran45 wrote: »
    One way in which Tibetan Buddhism is similar to Roman Catholicism and many other fundamentalist Christians is in the general attitude to homosexuality, which is difficult for many who hold more liberal views:

    Not true.
    One quote by HHDL that is taken out of context does not represent an entire tradition.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Jeffrey, I've started a new thread to respond to your question. Please see the "Abuse of Power" thread under Modern Buddhism.
  • edited November 2010
    A good reminder from shenpen naangwa that although HHDL appears to be THE spokesperson for Buddhism in the Tibetan tradition, he isn't. There can be different perspectives on a variety of issues among the different sects, right?
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2010
    A good reminder from shenpen naangwa that although HHDL appears to be THE spokesperson for Buddhism in the Tibetan tradition, he isn't. There can be different perspectives on a variety of issues among the different sects, right?

    ....and, as I discovered during my time in Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj, there are differing political attitudes. HHDL told me that he welcomes the increase in open discussion of alternatives, whilst expressing the hope that the debate and dialogue remained respectful. Strong debate is an integral part of the Tibetan tradition, quite scary to watch, among monks.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Saddened by this thread. Read through the whole thing to see some different viewpoints, but 90% of it is anti-Vajrayana sex stuff, way off the mark of being about reincarnation/rebirth. Gotta go to the dentist now, what a waste of time... *sigh*

    Namaste
This discussion has been closed.