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Denis Wallez
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«Intentions do matter.»
«Intentions do matter.»

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Well, after 8 years of service, including 6 months in India with its sand and random power cuts, my laptop is now officially dead, as in it was revised and repaired before, but now we're also past the repairable status...
So, if you liked my contribution here since 2011, now is the perfect time to help me continue it, via http://koan.mu/donate.htm and if not, then let's assume it's for the best: it has been a good run, thanks for reading, and see you around one day!

If you feel like volunteering for the 'ownership' of the Buddhist communities I lead here, send me a private hangout message.

With kind regards for now,
Denis
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Q: What should I do when I violate a precept?
Answered by Venerable Faxun

Some people worry too much over the violation of precepts, as if it were something fatal. The fear of violation is so great that they dare not take the precepts. Some think that they will take the precepts only when there is no possibility of violating them. The reality is that we may break the precepts. No one is perfect when he/she just begins to observe the precepts and even after some time of upholding the precepts, faults may occur. In fact, it is because we cannot keep the precepts perfectly that we need to take and keep them. They are a tool for us to develop our mindfulness and to prevent us from doing unwholesome actions. Hence, the precepts should be understood as a tool to train ourselves.

When we violate the precepts, the best thing to do is to sincerely and truthfully confess to the Buddha by imagining the Buddha in front of you. Sincerely acknowledge the transgression and say, “I am aware that I violated the precepts of […..], “I know it is not beneficial to […..].”

Next, reflect on how and why the transgression arose. Was it due to lack of mindfulness? Greed? Anger? Ignorance? Carelessness? Then make a determined decision not to do the action again.

In examining our actions and intentions in this way, we are constantly refining them. In the past, we may have used to do many harmful actions, were unaware of them or did not care. Now, we are aware of them, regret them and are motivated not to do them again. This helps us to develop our mindfulness and work against our three “poisonous” attitudes of attachment, ill-will, and ignorance.

Do not feel guilty over transgressions. Rather, regret them, learn from them, and be strongly determined to change. Our negative habitual energy is strong and causes us to violate the precepts. The fact that we are aware of our transgression and making an effort to change, will certainly decrease that negative habitual energy.

We need to keep in mind that upholding the precepts is a constant transformation of ourselves. We need to be patient and keep working to improve by saying to ourselves each time we confess, “From now on, I will try to do better.”

Extract from https://goo.gl/tczCTr
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Posit: "Data physics" -- mass is an impediment to motion. No mass, no impediment

By way of relativistic physics, and a wee bit o' stretching.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=msVuCEs8Ydo
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Too much tradition?

«
People also think that the thrones of the lamas are a part of the Dharma practice. Actually they can often be a source of conflict. Take for example that you have prepared a throne for me. I am sitting on it now. If you do not do the same thing for another teacher, then problems may arise. This is the way of politics. If you had provided a beautiful chair instead, nobody would have any problems with it.
The older Tibetan lamas, even the good and friendly ones, are used to certain customs based on their culture. When they come to the West, the absence of Tibetan musical accompaniment, or the throne lacking a beautiful brocade cover, might make them feel that something is missing. They will also tell you that you should arrange everything in a certain way. You might then think that this is part of the practice. If you do, you are building up the Tibetan tradition in the West. I do not think that these cultural protocols are going to last. If they do, they will be a source of problems in the future. Who should have a higher throne? Somebody is bound to have a smaller throne. In this way many problems can come up.
You must see the difference between Dharma and tradition. When problems occur, understand that they do not come from the enlightened ones, but from the administrators. Even the Chinese communists who do not believe at all in religion nevertheless use it from time to time for their own political ends. This is because the administration system is so well established and is so powerful. In the West you do not have to adopt the administrative and political aspects. I do not mean that your teachers should now sit somewhere on the floor, or you should point your feet at them when you sit. But there is simply no need for too much tradition.
»
— 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche
(Lecture given in Vienna, September 1993)

#Buddhism #Dhamma
Illustration: statue by Annie Dorefice (Bois d'Oingt, France)
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Dire que je suis surpris que le numéro de regard bouddhiste juste publié soit le dernier, à cause de difficultés financières alors que nombre de contributions au magazine étaient bénévoles... serait mentir.

J'ai moi-même contribué à plusieurs numéros, gratuitement, sous deux rédacteurs en chef.
Le premier n'a pas eu la liberté de faire les choix qu'il voulait, les financiers trouvant cela peu pratique et souhaitant imposer des règles arbitraires par pure facilité et par préjugés. Ce rédacteur en chef a fini par en avoir marre et a repris sa liberté.
Le deuxième fondamentalement a remis en cause les bonnes évolutions du précédent (il s'y opposait déjà quand il n'était "que" membre du comité de rédaction), et a promu du contenu pour débutants, plus des histoires de cérémonie du thé que du Dharma, plus des photos de voyages exotiques que du texte, plus du simpliste que de la réflexion (et dans la foulée a donc décidé de se passer de mes textes). Les financiers étaient contents puisque leurs preconceptions étaient respectées... Et voici le résultat : banqueroute. Félicitations !
Le problème de la dernière approche est que 1 les gens n'aiment pas payer un magazine cher et être pris pour des cons, 2 si c'était pour des photos, alors les magazines spécialisés en photo ou voyage sont bien meilleurs !!! Quant aux pages cérémonies du thé, et autres traductions d'extraits de livres pour profiter de la célébrité de leurs auteurs (au lieu de développer de nouveaux auteurs, de nouveaux contenus... de devenir en soi ce qui attire et non un simple ressassé de ce qui avait attiré ailleurs), que dire si ce n'est que c'est une approche vouée à l'échec ? À une époque où le contenu est dur à vendre, tant l'offre est large et tant il y a de gratuit sur internet (légitimement ou pas), zéro originalité et contenu inférieur ne risquaient pas de réussir.

Ni rédacteur en chef Zen ni rédacteur en chef Theravada n'auront trouvé une solution, mais le vrai problème fut les financiers et leur aversion aux risques, leurs copinages aussi qui clairement ont influencé qui était publié et qui ne l'était pas...
Il est triste que ce magazine ferme, mais c'est également mérité. Laisser e.g. Psychologie Magazine profiter de suppléments "méditation" pour l'été, par réticence à publier du texte sérieux, indiquait clairement un magazine bouddhiste incapable de fournir le contenu recherché par les sympathisants ciblés.
Espérons qu'une autre initiative apparaisse un jour avec une approche contenu favorisant la recherche personnel, l'étude et le sérieux...

Pour favoriser la création d'enseignements bouddhistes ne s'arrêtant pas à la surface, n'hésitez pas à soutenir un auteur indépendant http://koan.mu/donate.htm

#buddhism
Photo © Denis Wallez, reflet dans un bol de thé
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"not for the sake of popularity" comment to follow, when I have a tool to write it...
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The blind ant runs about for the sake of happiness.
The legless worm crawls about for the sake of happiness.
In brief, all the world is racing with each other,
Running toward happiness, one faster than the next.

Sometimes, seeing a goddess is revolting.
Sometimes, seeing an old woman creates lust.
Thinking, “This is it,” something else comes along.
How can the deceptions of the mind be counted?

Our attitudes change so much
From childhood to when we are old and decrepit.
Analyse your own experience and you know this.
How can you have confidence in today’s thoughts?

Due to the mind’s insanity, we do not recognise our own face,
Yet we constantly measure the secular and sacred, heaven and earth.
Courageous are we who seek lasting refuge
In this series of mistaken appearances.

-- Gendun Chopel
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Ignorance causes suffering
("free" as well as "non-profit" are illusions)

The attached article was praised on FB for its clarity, alongside a praise of the author (well-known Joseph Goldstein) and a critic of fee-based courses…

Putting Joseph Goldstein and a critic of fee-based courses in the same post is quite funny though. Because Joseph Goldstein produces a lot of high-quality work… and yet he's also part of "$2715 + dana" retreats like http://www.shambhala.com/events/joseph-goldstein-vipassana-retreat/

It's easy to criticise fee-based courses, but the basic truth is that when it's dana-only, Westerners abuse the system: the very very very large majority doesn't make an effort to give as much as they can, on the contrary they tend to seek a good deal and pay as little as they can get away with… and then this is not sustainable, even for renowned teachers with high-quality productions.
I remember a decent buddhist teacher on g+ providing dana-based online programs who once had several hundreds of participants, but with an average dana of a mere $0.32 per participant, for an 8-weeks program! This didn't cover the production costs, let alone feed him. People gave positive feedback, but no dana.
Easterners have a better cultural understanding of what it takes to keep a living tradition alive, and of the value of an ecosystem / virtuous circle of mutual support. But Westerners are influenced by consumerism, by "pay per session" logic, by "seek the best value for money".
When people withhold dana, the Dhamma will indeed decay, but it's a mistake to think it's caused by fee-based courses: the fee-based courses are just symptoms, caused by people not making enough effort to give sustainable dana, caused by people holding back, caused by greed and materialistic hoarding (minimising dana to avoid 'losing' money). If people gave dana properly, if they practiced the first parami (or paramita, depending on the tradition), then fee-based courses would not arise: they're just symptoms, and what needs be addressed is the cause, not the symptom.
Of course, sometimes Easterners give dana to "buy" some (karmic) merit, and this is flawed logic and a misunderstanding of causality; however, this still works better to perpetuate the Dharma than withholding dana (on the Western excuses that merit is 'empty', that the Dhamma 'should' be given for free, etc.).

A last point: this is hardly a new issue, and the Buddha gave many speeches about the value of giving, hence providing us with evidence that this was not clear / natural to people in his environment either.
But Westerners are extremely naïve / greedy about the "Dhamma should be given for free". Because early buddhists were wanderers, and they'd teach where they received alms… not receiving alms, they'd continue walking, to the next village then the next… The "for free" means something like "there's no minimum (very small dana is highly meritorious from someone with very small ressources)" but it doesn't mean "you'll get taught even if you give nothing at all, in particular when you could give something"! Wanderers just kept walking until they got alms, or were invited for a meal, then they stayed… and if they stayed in one place, then they taught…
Naïve calls for "free" are misguided and denying historical evidence that even the Buddha wasn't giving the Dhamma "for free": it's actually not supportive to people to let them get away with hoarding / not giving / greed… to the point that all spiritual traditions (not just Buddhism) praise generosity. What mattered was not how much donation was received (there was no minimum, and many people are poor, and there's a vinaya rule forbidding the focus on richer houses during alms rounds), but the effort to give. An 'effort' usually requires going beyond what's simply convenient "pocket change".


Some may argue that it is always better to seek our teaching from the ordained, because it's on average cheaper, dana-based and it is rare that a temple or monastery has to close. This would suggest that where the organisation is part of a recognised lineage, people are more comfortable giving appropriately, secure in the knowledge that it isn't profit-driven.

This'd be a funny argument after praising the clarity and benefits of Goldstein's teachings, who's not ordained, but OK…
Dana-based events in other setups actually do occur regularly… but there's a "survival bias" at play here: they occur, then either the teacher stops or (s)he switches to fee-based, forced to acknowledge that this doesn't work. So what remains to be seen is only fee-based. But that's not proving that dana-based don't occur, they just vanish fast precisely because it doesn't work out.
This "survival bias" is a classic issue in economics: if you do statistics on the stock markets for example, you only see the stock prices of companies which didn't vanish by bankruptcy until now… This can mislead you dramatically, e.g. if you expect the average portfolio to provide similar returns (even though the average portfolio provides no warranty whatsoever that no company of it will go bankrupt). So if you're looking into the economics of Buddhist institutions, you also have to consider the survival bias.
Traditional setups / temples receive more dana from local Easterners culturally "buying merit" through dana, but this is not exactly a sign of quality of the lineage. They also receive dana from tourists visiting, to see the bells and whistles and statues and robes and ear some exotic chants, which is not exactly a sign of quality of the lineage either. And at the end of the day, temples struggle, many closed and disappeared (survival bias again); it's a massive struggle in Japan at the moment, it has been in Sri Lanka during famines and hardships, it has been in India, in China, etc. The logic is the same everywhere: it requires subsequent donations to provide food, shelter, clothes and medicine (the "four requisites") to practitioners. Calling it "profit" because someone pays their bill themselves at the supermarket, or "non-profit" because someone receives food paid at the supermarket by the giver himself, is misleading.
And if some places receive more donations (enough to keep some people ordained on site, not immediately starving), and a practitioner focuses on these because the practitioner has to give less to attend, then (s)he's ridding off the generosity of others! I'm not convinced it's a good sign for the practitioner… it's actually another sign of greed, of seeking "good value for money" rather than seeking to support places where there isn't enough yet (to provide for permanent guidance). If you want the Dharma to spread, for your benefit as well as others', then you need to think about funding practitioners and setups that are not yet fully-funded, not yet sustainable; falling back onto the lower-risk and cheaper doesn't equate "effort", it equates "complacency".


#Buddhism #Dharma #Dana
PS: yes, I'm aware that 'Westerners' and 'Easterners' are broad categories, caricatural and with exceptions (and yet, most people who will react to / complain about this caricature will do so as a feeble way to deny that they too are actually withholding dana. They'll use the "I'm insulted" to avoid looking inward)… and yet, my personal observations still support that Easterners living in the West have more cultural understanding of the "mutual support" logic of dana than Westerners!
This is the fourth post of the "needlessly provocative" series, a.k.a. "not for the sake of popularity" series (gplus.wallez.name/CPRA6Kw3n4o). On dana-paramita, see also http://gplus.wallez.name/DNXXKQjAuzu
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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Giving, without a gift being given…

« What [the Buddha] is saying is that when we give something to a particular person, or when we try to do something good for someone, we often attach to that person. We might ask who the person is, whether he or she is worth helping, wonder whether our help will be appreciated, or whether our gift will be really helpful for the person. If we value that person, or if the person is one of our children, for example, we probably offer our help without any question or hesitation. But if this person is someone we don’t know, we start to question whether he or she is worth helping, or whether our action of helping really will help or not. Even when we have a good heart, somehow our heart is limited. And after the action of helping, if our gift is appreciated by that person, we become happy. But when someone doesn’t appreciate our gift, we often become sad or even angry. That is because our giving is influenced by three poisonous minds. We expect something even when we try to help others; we attach ourselves to the person, and we attach ourselves to the gift. What Buddha is saying here is: without being attached to a particular person or a particular thing, and without being attached to the merit of our action, just do it — just offer your gift. But that is really difficult — almost impossible for me at least. According to the Diamond Sutra, however, that is the practice of a bodhisattva. Without attaching to anything, just offer whatever it is you want to give. That is the practice of dana-paramita. »
— Shokaku Okumura (https://buddhismnow.com/2015/06/02/4-zazenshin-acupuncture-needle-of-zazen-by-shohaku-okumura/)

#Buddhism #Dharma
illustration: "selflessness" (muga) calligraphy
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: http://koan.mu/donate.htm
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Bottomless pit, or abyss, or…

The pātāla sutta (SN 36.4) seems to be one of the most 'secular' sutta from the Pali canon, where the realms of existence (likely one of the hells in the sutta, but there's no reason the same wouldn't apply to other realms) are actually presented as metaphors of mental states, not as actual physical planes.

Funnily, many monastic translators struggle and avoid presented the realm as one of the realms of existence, or one of the hells, so we get sutta on the "abyss", the "pit", etc.
And, sure enough, there's no pātāla in the traditional (Theravadin) 31 abodes (www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html).
But then would this suggest the Buddha is talking of some inexistent domain? I doubt the Buddha who here rejects the naïve interpretation of hells as an actual place would be OK with people tip-toeing and going round in circles to avoid saying clearly that the Buddhist cosmology is a metaphor ;-)

Here is Piya's always helpful translation with serious notes: http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/2.25-Patala-S-s36.4.pdf

#Buddhism #Dharma #secular
"not for the sake of popularity" series
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