July 8, 2012

Questions to Consider: The Buddhadharma.

As meditation divorced from the Buddhadharma (and the Buddhadharma itself) become popular in the West, there are questions to consider.

1. First, as secular meditation becomes popular as a stress reliever and goes into all areas of Western life—from therapy to education—it is clear that it is benefiting these individuals who meditate. But is it also becoming a form of spiritual materialism? Is it merely stopping at the self-help comfort zone?

2. Do people cling to the eyes-closed and private peace aspect of meditation as introduced most commonly in Hatha yoga, mindfulness, or vipassana spheres and shy away from opening the eyes and developing a peace which can be taken out into the world to benefit others? In other words, is this secular form of meditation becoming “all about me,” without introducing the aspect of awareness which develops compassion? Or are people introduced to secular meditation becoming more open and curious, leading them to the study of dharma and dharmic methods which introduce compassion, like tonglen ?

3. If mindfulness or vipassana is all that is taught in a secular fashion and context, is meditation in danger of becoming commercialized? Although meditation is intrinsically beneficial, is it still dharma without any teachings on liberation?

4. Is the Buddhadharma in the West itself falling prey to bourgeois comfort and convenience—sometimes called “cozy” dharma? Can the pursuit of liberation become a casual mass movement?

5. Buddha and his students were supported in Jetagrove by the wealthy merchant Anathapindika. Is the value of a small community around an authentic teacher still a viable model for today?

6. If dharma teachers seek approval and popularity, success and gain, are they perpetuating spiritual materialism or is their motivation to be of benefit to a greater majority? How often do teachers become corrupted by playing the numbers game with students after earning initial celebrity attention and money?


Editor: Anne Clendening

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Reply to Janet DiGriz cancel

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Janet DiGriz Dec 8, 2012 7:45pm

I posted this on facebook, but was asked to post it here as well.

This article seems to downplay the benefits of ideology-free meditation practices. Self understanding doesn't have to come in your language and your spiritual concepts. Westerners can be trusted to look within, just like followers of Eastern traditions can sometimes be trusted to be honest and not religious.

I celebrate non-ideological meditation practices and explorations that do not adhere to one or a few traditional conceptualizations. People can be trusted to be honest with themselves without your specific concepts. Each individual is his own path. No need to worry that he's delving into his own concepts and not yours.

Linda V Lewis Jul 10, 2012 9:12am

There's a book almost of the same title, "No self, No problem" written by someone else!

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Linda Lewis

Linda Lewis met the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1972 and, following Rinpoche’s invitation, immediately moved to Boulder, Colorado to be a part of his young and vital sangha.

The predominant themes in her life have been teaching in contemplative schools–Vidya, Naropa, and the Shambhala School in Halifax, Nova Scotia–and studying, practicing, or teaching his Shambhala Buddhadharma wherever she finds herself.