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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Buddhadharma Magazine Mention.

As some of you know, Buddhadharma magazine was working on an article on unaffiliated Buddhist practitioners. I'm not exactly unaffiliated but I do not have a regular sangha for many reasons that I've already mentioned here before. Well, I was approached awhile back to submit a paragraph on the subject. Yesterday the Spring issue arrived and I have been savoring the in-depth article like a bone. I was surprised but excited that they had included my submission. Here is what I said about unaffiliated Buddhists:

There is a long history in Buddhism of hermit monks, which has been lost a bit but can perhaps be seen rising again with the many lone-wolf practitioners around the world. The hermits still studied with others from time to time but knew that it comes down to the individual practicing. After all, the Buddha was just one person meditating off in the woods, he didn't mean to set up a formal religion. Who knows what he'd think of our sanghas today, especially how they are structured in the West. I think monasteries and temples are important to maintain and keep, as they train the next generation of teachers and students looking for more instruction and structure. However, I think one can still fulfill taking refuge in the sangha without having to physically take up space.
James: I just wanted to post something short to thank Buddhadharma for including my remarks within a great article. I am humbled, honored and only hope that my words help in some way advance the discussion. It really is a very in-depth article encompassing several pages and is worth picking up. I really applaud Buddhadharma magazine for taking on the subject of unaffiliated Buddhists in such an inclusive and broad way. It's nice to read something serious on the subject instead of unaffiliated Buddhists being laughed off and treated like they committed heresy.

~Peace to all beings~

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18 comments:

Nathan said...

I look forward to seeing the article when my issue arrives.

Bows,
Nathan

Mushinronsha said...

For me it's (relatively) easy to take refuge in the Buddha and the Dharma, but I find it quite difficult to take refuge in the Sangha - especially since I've recognized that over time it's become corrupted and twisted by tradition into something I really don't want to belong to.
I thought it was only me, but reading several accounts by prominent bhikkhus and ex-bhikkhus
(like Sangharakshita, Stephen Batchelor etc) it seems a common consensus.
In particular, the book by Bhikkhu S. Dhammika, The Broken Buddha, is highly critical of how Theravada Sanghas have become quite corrupt and an institution which exists not for the Dharma, but merely to serve the monks and keep the lay devotees docile. His book focuses on, but is not limited to, south Asian Buddhist tradition, but it is certainly applicable to most, if not all, Buddhist traditions around the world.
It's recommended reading (and free online - do a google search if interested.)

Tom Armstrong said...

I know in a weird sort of appropriate way it is uncool to say to a Buddhist he and what he wrote and does is cool, BUT ... THIS IS ALL SOOOOO COOOL!!

Screw Buddhist modesty and quietude! You got Buddhist bling, Dude!

Allison said...

Did they address the fact that the internet communities are becoming sanghas in their own right?

They call him James Ure said...

Nathan:

I hope you enjoy the article. Mine isn't a very long entry but still I'm glad I could be apart of it.

Bowing back.

Mushinronsha:

I agree with a lot of what you said in your comments. Especially the difficulty taking refuge in the sangha. So lately, I've been seeing the entire world as my sangha. No limits to those from whom we can learn from. But more specifically my sangha is with all my wonderful fellow travelers online. :)

Tom:

lol Thanks. I am proud that I was mentioned and my thoughts seen as having some merit. Yet shit still rolls down stream as they say lol. Another way of saying it I guess would be, "Before the Buddhadharma mention, I carried water and after the Buddhadharma mention I carry water lol. Thanks again for the kindness brother. Bowing deeply...

Allison:

I haven't yet read the full article, I do hope they address that because basically that is my day to day sangha. My online connections.

And they give me access to practitioners from around the world, which enables my sangha connection to be very diverse. It's ease of access makes the sangha experience feel less intimidating and more connected.

20123 said...

我愛那些使自己的德行成為自己的目標或命定的人 ..................................................

Shinzen said...

Having studied soto zen in a formal structure for years, then moving away where there is no formal sangha...I find the internet sangha very refreshing and encouraging. It helps me keep up my practice. I value both of these experiences.

Thanks James and members...I enjoy your postings and all the comments.

Ama said...

As an older woman with no access to local-Buddhism I have found the internet and lone-Buddhists invaluable.

James offers insight and teaching every time I visit here.

*gassho*
Ama

Ven. Jo Jo said...

The term, "unaffiliated Buddhist", caught my eye since I consider myself an independent monk — much to the chagrin of my preceptors — and spent many years as a hermit in the mountains myself. People have enough to fight and argue over without creating these dichotomies of denominations and schools. I hear you and all the other comments about the Sangha losing it's charisma.
Thanks for the post.

Riverwolf, said...

Great paragraph--and how exciting for you!

Kyle Lovett said...

James - You know it is blogs like yours that really have pushed this issue to the mainstream. I am very much looking forward to reading the article. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this blog.

Kyle

Nathan said...

Hey James,

Cool stuff for sure. You're quote is excellent, and the articles were all interesting, especially Norman Fisher's commentary and Gaylon Ferguson's article. Props to Buddhadharma for doing this work.

Bergie0208 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bergie0208 said...

I really appreciate the principles of Buddhism. The stuffs really interest me.
What I like most is the meditation.

Be Zen My Friend - Moments Of Inspiration, Reflections On Life

They call him James Ure said...

Thanks everyone for the kind words and great insights.

They call him James Ure said...

Ven Jo Jo:

I'd be interested in hearing more about your experiences as an "independent monk." Email me if you get a moment: jaymur-at-gmail-dot-com

Vivek said...

@JU: Very nice thoughts. I generally agree that being physically with the Sangha at all times does not seem necessary in the Buddha's teachings. The refuge in the Sangha refers IMHO to the fact that the practitioner recognizes that in his practice, he will from time to time need some direction, clarification etc., and because everyone could not turn to the Buddha, one trusts and turns to a member of the Sangha sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled in the aspect one is looking for guidance in.

@Mushinronsha: That there will be true Sanghas and there will also develop not-so-true Sanghas over time is something the Buddha also recognized. Again for a Sangha there may be some aspects of the Dhamma to which they remain true and some to which they do not; you have to use discernment and experience in figuring out. Refuge (again IMHO) as the Buddha prescribes is not a blind surrender. And therefore his prescription also on recognizing a true teaching in line with the Dhamma and one not in line.

They call him James Ure said...

Vivek:

You present a very clear, concise and logical view on the sangha. I appreciate your insight. It seems truly in keeping with the middle-path.

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