Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ask Maya: Corrupting the Dharma? (video)

Maya, Ashley Wells, CC Liu, Seven, Irma Quintero, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly
The Mysterious Disappearance (Tom Tomorrow/
The twin exhibitions in San Francisco (SFAAM) and Pasadena (NS) are deep explorations.
Recently, an anonymous reader brought our attention to the destruction of the Dharma in America by capitalist and selfish motives:

The reader draws our attention to something really bothersome. The traditional Dharma -- the authentic Buddhist teachings as laid out by Siddhartha Gautama after his great enlightenment and taught for 45 years -- is being corrupted in America. It is under attack. Why? The specters of money, fame, and power threaten to undermine and overwhelm our spiritual teachings. 

Case in point: there is a website of a supposed "mindfulness" meditation teacher, one Michael Taft, who claims that people saying they learn meditation from Buddhist teachers is unfair. Should we be serene and listen to his point, or let ourselves get furious? (Serenity trumps fury). Are people like this degrading and destroying the Dharma? (Could be. But he says right up front that hat he is "secular and science-based," which is an obvious way to make more sales. What he is calling mindfulness, as so many in the world of science now do, is not Buddhism. It may be Buddhist, but it is stripped of its Buddhism and is just something out there to be used for other ends; it doesn't sound like Taft is promising enlightenment or an end to suffering or even a trip to heaven. It's just the same old stress management approach, and maybe that's fine). What does "mindfulness" mean nowadays?

Mindfulness has existed for millions of years, and anyone who says so is right about that. But, reader, you have a point. What it means in Buddhism is very specific, not just as a general reminder to practice "bare awareness" but as a set of techniques to bring about liberating-insight. Whereas anyone might say, "Pay attention" and we might even pay attention without being reminded, no one but a buddha teaches the insight practices (particularly the causal links of Dependent Origination) but a buddha and the subsequent disciples of such a world teacher. You're right.

This guy is published on the Huffington Post and Scientific American, and he lectures at conferences. Why would anyone listen to him?

They have to listen to someone, reader. The Buddha taught his true disciples well in the Kalama Sutta, not adhering to view but investigating on their quest for truth. And for the intensive practitioners (monastic and lay alike), he advised them be lamps and islands unto themselves taking no other teacher but the Dharma as their guide and themselves (Mahaparinibbana Sutta).

Too often and too quickly we give up our own wisdom for the presumed knowledge of another. We need both. We need discernment when listening, and we need unbiased reflection when considering our own level of right view. Be serene; even if Taft should kill the Dharma singlehandedly -- and it doesn't sound like that is what he is doing -- you could still keep sight of the lamp and the island.

An oversimplification of the message. What the Buddha really asks before teaching the Dharma is, Do these basic things agree with your own experience and observation, your own sense and heart? Are greed, hatred, and delusion harmful or harmless?
I am Amatue. Don't stare.
Every teacher, assuming he is even a legitimate teacher and not just a self-seeking individual out to make the rare and precious Dharma a money-making instrument or vehicle to fame. (Elsewhere the Buddha says that a fool seeks fame for things s/he does not possess, whereas a worthy person seeks no notoriety or acclaim for things possessed like enlightenment, insight, or wisdom). So let the foolish be, if they will not be curbed by a kind admonition, as the harm they do is not our responsibility but theirs. And our own faults are ours to see, or to have someone kindly point them out to us. Thank you, reader, for not criticizing us for all of our failings. We sure have them for anyone to point out. Reader, do something to benefit yourself and others. It is easy to criticize and to point fingers at Taft and bad teachers as there are plenty of them, but the True Wheel is hard to find. So this is what we would like to see: Research it and tell us, What is "mindfulness" really as the Buddha taught it?

If you could find that out -- and tell us and all of the other readers -- is would be a mighty help to us, to Taft, and to others who might fall sway to the nonsense many people speak in the name of the Buddha, Dharma, and enlightened community.

When I think of all the centuries of teachers who patiently and selflessly worked to maintain the purity of the Buddha's teaching, against all odds, to have an [donkey] like this...

True, true, it would be a tragedy. But come, friend, do it for the real Buddha, do it for the Dharma. Investigate and report back to us. We will have our editors cross check it and publish it here. Where is the real Dharma to be found, where is there a legitimate teacher? We can tell you, but it would be much more productive if you search and report back. That is what Siddhartha did.

Hipster haven: an alt to an alt to shout about
No, no, don't laugh. Come forward. What do the poets teach us? Keats says, "When the bad are full of passionate intensity, what do the good do? Complain? Point fingers? But not do a good thing to make the situation better? We're all for complaining, our favorite pastime/wasteoftime. Be we also try to unearth the real Dharma and restore it to the world while bringing attention to corrections and deviations.
This desert lawn sucks! - Yeah, where do they get the water? - What, dumb[donkey], I mean Beavis? I didn't mean it sucks water. I mean it sucks... - Oh yeah, huh huh huh huh huh...
The way to cool is brands?
QUESTION 2: How was Coachella? Brokechella was much better than returning for Weekend Deux. But Coachella? Bradley explains it best. He was offered a job, two weekends at the big music fest and a VIP all access pass. Late into Saturday night he turned around and suddenly noticed: No one was smiling. They had paid $800 (not including parking, which is $100 more, food, or drinks and stuff), and they were blase. They were having phone-mances, rocking their cellular devices like dates under the remains of the prophetic bloody moon. One would think that having spent all that money and facebooked it and tweeted and instagrammed the h*ck out of it there would be more than this. But you have to ask yourself, whether you're sporting a VIP pass or just a regular radio-chipped (RFID) capital-expenditure-monitoring and policing device,

Is that ALL there is?
Cristina echoes Peggy Lee in asking, Is that all there [f-ing] is? with a twist.

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