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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in A Sangha for Rationalism, Modernism, Buddhism's LiveJournal:

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Friday, July 17th, 2009
12:59 pm
[jp5040]
Introduction
It was asked in the profile of this community to introduce one's self.

I am Jason.
I am 33.
Bi.
Father of 2 boys.
Canadian from BC in the mountains away from cities.
University Educated in Visual Art and Geography.
Recently divorced. 
Big changes in life (but I characterize it all positively).

My personal path to Buddhism was out of practicality I began using ethics and principles I picked up from various sources on Buddhism.

I had no school of thought or tradition to follow. Just an approach of gleaning the most clear and understandable parts and using them to relearn how to behave since my current or old method wasn't working so well for me. I was tuck in a destructive and toxic marriage and my children were suffering because I lacked the skills to end the cycle. It was getting worse.

I had been using mindful breathing as a stress relief for many years and I decided to renew my interest in Buddhism because this small part was so helpful. I began practicing mindful activities as a way to clarify my thoughts and ask my neutral self the answers to my hardest questions. I extracted myself from the toxic garden and have begun to plant a new positive garden. This re-awakening was entirely brought about by Buddhist ethics. As deference to the path that has served me so well I now call myself Buddhist. As respect for the teachings I have decided to seek a tradition to ground my self. The current focus of my attention is Tibetan Buddhism and the Dali Lama.

I had been considering his compassionate focus for some time, but I was recently directed that way by some helpful people. I appreciate suggestions and even criticism of my approach. I think I need some direction. self motivation is not a problem, but knowing where to point an arrow is as important as drawing the bowstring.  

Significantly I have been trying to understand the emotional aspect of thought and how it its with the Buddhist tradition of non-ego and anattma. I had developed a personal set of ethics around right words and right actions based on right concentration (thought) which I see leading to right emotions (joy bliss peacefulness etc). This leading to the element of good karma. I think my personal path might include emotions as a way of recognizing that emotional states affect my outcomes. I think this is very much like we discuss conquering or deconstructing emotions with right concentration and understanding the Dharma.

I have also been doing Yoga lately. The practice of which is intended to teach my body to meditate. Also to encourage the state of mindfulness through other forms than simply mindful breath (which is a good starting point anyway). I tend to do some Yoga, get peaceful and limber, then sit down for some mindful concentration. I think this works really well for me. As a seeker of this kind of tie and physical space to locate peace in my mind I realize it isn't all necessarily the only way to meditate but I enjoy my "Zen" (I use that in the most respectful way, but western understanding) space. I seek peace in life in general. I have always been a pacifist, but this desire for a harmonious space has caused me to develop a large area of my home devoted to meditation and contemplation. I guess buddhism is a desired or necessary thing for me now. Like one desires to be free form suffering - I desire to be filled with light. 

I was asked by a mother on here how my children respond to meditation (mine) because she found it hard to incorporate mindfulness and daily life. My children find this all entertaining and not the least bit disruptive to them. On the contrary I find they enjoy sitting and meditating with me. They do not find it easy to sit still but I think any time devoted to quiet at 6 and 8 years old is impressive, especially for wild monkey boys. :-)  I also think the practice of encouraging peacefulness and a space devoted to simplicity and harmony in my home is helpful to them to learn about a tidy mind space as well.  I encourage them to come and go if I am practicing or if i am attending to my fish etc. They simply are allowed to be children with the restriction that they pass through that space with respect to the quiet and peaceful nature it has. What I especially find "joyful" is that they will pile on my lap as I sit in mindful relaxation and they take the serenity I have and it becomes part of them. I do not expect to be able to meditate perfectly EVER so I think any time spent in practice is time well spent even if there is disruption. Disruption will happen, suffering over it is hardly necessary!

Further to my children: If asked which place they find easier and happier, this new home or the alternative (with mom) - they are quick to say it is the new way with a quiet and peaceful dad. The boys are shared custody and live with me one week on and one week off. It is hard for them, but considering the way it was before, I am glad they have a week of harmony and a week without so much discord. There are many ways to be a good parent - but i think providing a confident and ethical approach to dealing with frustrations they are learning some skills I wish I had at younger age.

So... This is me - at this point - in all honesty.

glad to take suggestions or questions.
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
11:21 am
[madamealexis]
My Husband Died Sunday
Are there any chants/prayers in English that you know of? I will be having a remembrance party for him May 3rd and would like to have a few to read on that day.

Also if you know of any websites dealing with rituals for the family please let me know.

Thank you.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
1:37 am
[skepoet]
Friday, April 4th, 2008
8:40 pm
[eoswildcat]
question on arts in Zen
I am planning a Master's thesis on art in Zen Buddhism and how it is related to/ is used as meditative practice...

I was wondering how I could find out what arts are most closely related to what schools?/lineages?
If I can narrow it down to one or two lineages that would be helpful.

xposted
Thursday, April 12th, 2007
6:50 am
[wildelotus]
Hello out there in LJ land...
Name: Adam
Nationality/State: California
Describe Yourself: eclectic about sums it up.
Buddhist, Secularist, Both or Other: Buddhist, althought I'm a bit of a Greco-Buddhist.
Any school or Tradition you belong to: not currently, studying with Theravadan and listen to some 
Tibetan buddhist teachers.
Special Expertise: able to make sense of excel spreadsheets. ^_~
Saturday, March 31st, 2007
1:41 am
[sariputra]
I have had this realization: to be a modernist theravadan is to be in an awkward place. While all the vehicles of buddhism have had unpleasant outbursts of something akin to Abrahamic fundamentalism, but that is a big part of the Theravadan world in Sri Lanka and maybe in Laos. I feel like I have moved beyond that--and I am very interested in zazen. But I still feel uncomfortable with the goals of things like the bodhisatva vows. Does that make sense?
Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
3:02 pm
[sariputra]
Do you ever feel like Buddhism, as an idea, is a hinderance in and of itself?
Saturday, March 24th, 2007
3:42 am
[sariputra]

How much influence do you think Theosophy has had on European and American conceptions of Buddhism?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007
3:53 pm
[sariputra]
Speech by Dr. Donald Lopez, Jr.
http://www.hds.harvard.edu/news/events_online/ingersoll_2004.html

Actually studying Lopez helps understand Buddhist modernization (particularly, his book "Prisoner's of Shangri-La" and "The Madman's Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of Gendun Chopel."  (Chopel moved early to try to modenize Tibetan ideology just as Buddhadosa did in Thailand.)

This is also helpful: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493105.html
Saturday, March 17th, 2007
2:42 pm
[ocha_no_hanashi]
Common ground.
"The universe is in change, life is an opinion." -Marcus Aurelius

"The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there." -Yasutani Roshi

"Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire." -Epictetus

Second Noble Truth of Buddhism: Suffering is caused by desire.

"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." -Surangama Sutra

"Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind." -Zen Saying

"No man is free who is not master of himself." -Epictetus

I sense a lot of common points of thought in Buddhist and Graeco-Roman Stoic philosophies. They have common ancestors as Buddhism and Greek philosophies arose from Indo-European cultures. I would go so far as to say that various philosophical schools around the world concluded the same points about reality. Superficial cultural decorations distinguish philosophies that are otherwise fundamentally the same. Buddhism, Stoicism and pre-gentrified Taoism (philosophical Taoism as opposed to institutionalized religion) generally reveal the same truths about the universe and the human experience -- ideas of finding truth in no truth, in discarding the self in order to understand things as they are (objective detachment) and universal altruism and genuine compassion. Obviously the cultural settings were vastly set apart from one another yet around the same centuries Buddha, Zeno of Citium and Lao Tzu came to very similar conclusions about life and the nature of the universe.

"Late at night, when everyone is quiet, sit alone and gaze into
the mind; then you notice illusion ending and reality appearing.
You gain a great sense of potential in this every time. Once you
have noticed reality appearing yet find that illusion is hard to
escape, you also find yourself greatly humbled. -Hong Yingming, Reflections of Tao (c.1600AD)"


"If you persist in trying to attain what is never attained (It is Tao's gift), if you persist in making effort to obtain what effort cannot get, if you persist in reasoning about what cannot be understood, you will be destroyed by the very thing you seek. To know when to stop, to know when you can get no further by your own action, this is the right beginning!" -Chuang Tzu (c.4th century B.C.)

"Who can enjoy enlightenment and remain indifferent to suffering in the world? This is not in keeping with the Way. Only those who increase their service along with their understanding can be called men and women of Tao." Lao Tzu (c.604 - 531 B.C.)

"However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to save them." -Bodhisatva Vow

Now granted we could really dig into the various schools of thought and academically determine my earlier statements false through quality research and a proper philosophical approach but this isn't meant to be academic. It is just a 'sense' I get after sifting through various philosophies and writings over the years.
Friday, March 16th, 2007
3:41 pm
[ocha_no_hanashi]
Introduction
Name:Jeffrey

Nationality/State:Canadian citizen in Japan.

Describe Yourself: Bookish, humble in lifestyle, a bit arrogant in life, hail from a poor family, eccentric, 'mature' sense of humour, rational, sometimes a bit lazy, not terribly energetic, I like conversation, reader, writer, sometimes an artist, self-declared intellectual, I drink a lot of tea... basically, a wandering scholar-monk with a bag of scrolls in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.

Buddhist, Secularist, Both or Other: Buddhist. Though in real life I don't always publically identify myself as such because of the ignorant masses (oh and I'm sometimes a bit cynnical).

Any school or Tradition you belong to:In practice Soto Zen but I tend to gravitate towards Nagarjuna and various Chinese Chan thinkers. I'm a Buddhist Eclectic.

Special Expertise: Literate in modern Japanese. Somewhat literate in Classical Chinese.
Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
10:31 pm
[sariputra]
Has anyone read "Dharma, Color, and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism" who can give me a opinion on if its useful?
Monday, March 12th, 2007
9:36 pm
[herbivore]
Class, race, and the American Sangha
Something odd occurred to me some years ago. It's the simple fact that almost every last American Buddhist I've ever met is either:

a) an Asian immigrant from a traditional Buddhist culture, or a child of one, or
b) an upper-middle-class white person.

Needless to say, I find this a little unsettling. It's weird that the two groups rarely, if ever, mix. One might argue that Americans tend to practice differently from traditional Asian Buddhists, but I can't accept that the difference is so huge we can't associate. And it's not like most American Buddhist lineages didn't come from Asia less than thirty or forty years ago -- well within living memory. It's also weird that it's only upper-middle-class white people that end up converting.

I've got a few different racial lines in my ancestry, but I can easily "pass as white;" so by outward appearances I don't add any diversity to the American sangha, but the weird disparity may be more obvious to me than it is to them. (I'm pretty sure they think about it too, but I don't know for sure.)

Everybody at my Zen sangha is white. When I used to practice Tibetan Buddhism, everyone at the temple was white except for a Chinese-American woman from a Vajrayana Buddhist family, and of course the lamas, who were Tibetan. Furthermore, I think there was a grand total of one guy there with a manual labor job.

So why is it? I can't really believe that too many cultural barriers are a factor here. Buddhism had to cross enough of those to get from the Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Tibetans to the mostly Judaeo-Christian American converts. I've heard people argue that black Americans have deep traditional and family ties to Christianity; but a lot of American Zen teachers I know are from Jewish backgrounds, and their ties to their ancestral religion are at least as strong. And there are plenty of white converts who come from militantly Christian families. So I don't really buy that argument.

Firstly, I don't think that Buddhist teachers, both Asian and white, have made a very big effort to communicate outside of the groups I've named above. I don't know why this is, but it seems evident.

Secondly, the practice of charging for teachings has been pretty commonplace in America. And we're not talking about donations to pay the rent on a humble little dharma center -- we're talking about "suggested dana" in the hundreds for exclusive-sounding retreats in resort-like locations with teachers, and the implication that you have to do such things to be a serious student.

It also seems like American Buddhists tend to have a close relationship with academia and to communicate in terms that are vastly more understandable if you have a college education. This means that, once again, upper-middle-class white people are going to be more likely to hear about it. This is certainly not to say that there's anything wrong with teaching the dharma to college-educated people (hey, I'm one!), but that there is something wrong with not teaching it to others. As far as I know, there aren't too many people teaching the dharma out in the market like Hui Ko.

These factors seem to me to explain a part of the situation, but far from the whole thing.

What do you think?
Sunday, March 11th, 2007
3:02 pm
[sariputra]

http://www.cogito.org/articles/ArticleDetail.aspx?ContentID=812

It's interesting how much Dawkin's talk about models and people as a "wave" (not as matter) is, almost verbatim, the idea of an-atman.

2:53 pm
[sariputra]
Saturday, March 10th, 2007
10:16 pm
[sariputra]
Thursday, March 8th, 2007
11:33 pm
[sariputra]
Today's quote
 “To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political, and not spiritual or intellectual.”   
Ven. Dr W. Rahula, "What the Buddha Taught"
7:57 pm
[sariputra]
How does rebirth play into your practice (or doesn't play into your practice as the case may be)?
4:13 pm
[sariputra]
Anyone still interested in this topic?
Saturday, March 3rd, 2007
2:13 am
[sariputra]

May you all have a mindful Magha Puja Day.

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