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Barbara O'Brien

Developing Ksanti Paramita

By January 11, 2012

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Continuing to explore ksanti paramita -- "ksanti" can be translated many ways -- tolerance, endurance, composure, forbearance, patience. That last one, patience, is defined as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. In other words, it's not letting circumstances or other people "push your buttons."

A lot of the commentaries on ksanti paramita focus on dealing with anger. If you step back just a bit, you might also see how ksanti paramita fits into equanimity. Theravadin monk and scholar Bhikkhu Bodhi said that equanimity (upekkha) is "freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one's fellow human beings."

From a Mahayana perspective, equanimity takes us to prajna paramita, or the perfection of wisdom, which shows us the illusory nature of our self-references. And once again, I am struck by the way the teachings all connect to and support each other.

A few weeks ago I came across a painfully hyper-intellectual blog dedicated to criticism of Buddhism, in which the blogger said "How would your reception of Buddhism be affected if you saw it as a hodge-podge of often disconnected ideas and theories about human being (which it is)?" It's stunning to me that anyone would say that, but it occurs to me that the teachings would appear to be exactly that if you removed prajna.

Prajna (wisdom) refers to the realization -- not merely the intellectual understanding of, but realization -- of anatta (Theravada) or sunyata (Mahayana). All Buddhist teachings have anatta/sunyata  at their core, and if you remove that, Buddhism is like a car without an engine -- just an assemblage of parts that doesn't actually go anywhere.

Winding backward again to ksanti --  as we still drag around our illusion of self and perceive in terms of self-reference, it's useful to reflect on attachment. We get jerked around by this and that because of attachment. We're like puppets on strings, and the strings are pulled by our desires and aversions (which are also attachment).

But we only attach to things because we see ourselves as separate from them. Where there is no separation, there cannot be attachment -- no one to attach, nothing to attach to.

Most of the time, when we feel angry or resentful it's because someone pushed up against our ego-shell. I once heard a Zen teacher say that whenever something or someone "makes you angry," there place your bowing mat. A "bowing mat" is a square of cloth Zen monks place on the floor where they are bowing.

Even if you can't do it physically, when someone "makes you angry," it's useful to visualize bowing to them. I recommend this for developing ksanti paramita. Acknowledge that you feel anger, and acknowledge the anger is coming from your own delusion. Remind yourself that other people can't "make you angry"; you make yourself angry. And bow.

Comments
January 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm
(1) Yuan says:

I guess one major aspect of ksanti that does not get a lot of airplay is the concept of “enduring a life without your habits.”

For example, if you always reaching for a chocolate when you are emotionally disturbed (sad, upset, lonely…etc.), Can you endure not having chocolate to comfort you when you want it. Can you resolve your emotional disturbance on your own? After all, we could say that you are “attached” to chocolate, right? Can you endure this until you are enlightened?

It is not to say that chocolate is the problem. The issue is why you want to eat chocolate.

It’s like having itches on your body. This patch of skin itches for this reason, that patch for another. Can you find ways to resolve the reason for itching, without ever scratching them?

January 12, 2012 at 8:55 am
(2) Barbara O'Brien says:

Yuan — thanks; that’s a good point.

Most of the commentaries I’ve been reading discuss breaking bad habits as part of virya paramita. But there’s a whole lot of overlap between virya and ksanti; they have many aspects in common.

January 12, 2012 at 12:35 am
(3) Hein says:

Toni Bernard’s view that the [r]e-telling the story—whether it be myth or not—inspires me to continue to look deeply at dukkha, come to understand it, and begin to see the way to extinguish it. is precisely how I approach the views expressed by the blogger which Barbara mentioned. The Buddha is not a saviour like Jesus, but for me an inspiration. From a purely human perspective without an attachment to merely one aspect of my human-ness (intellect) I can relate to Toni’s approach. As a law professor with some 22 years experience she would have the analytical ability to “cut through crap” and get to the gist of things. I think the blogger (as many other “purely intellectuals” do) miss the point or essence of the Buddha’s teachings about suffering and especially impermanence. People (even highly intelligent ones) are many times ignorant abou old age, sickness and death.
Have to agree Barbara; the blogger does not make any mention prajna and he seems rather running around in circles searching in a dark room without windows for a black cat that is not there.

January 12, 2012 at 10:28 am
(4) Molly Wunderlich says:

Barbara. It’s funny that you link to the Speculative Non-Buddhism blog. I actually read that blog pretty regularly.

I am confused, though, by your characterization of it as “painfully hyper-intellectual.” The posts and comments there always strike me as extraordinarily thoughtful and well informed. (Much better informed, if I may say so, than these ask.com Buddhism posts. Sorry, Barbara, but that undeniable, I’m afraid.)

Why is it “stunning” to you that someone would ask what seems to me to be a quite valuable critical question about Buddhism? Are you just interested in “defending the faith” or something?

Hein, too, seems to be prejudiced against hard, careful thought. Maybe such bias is required for “being Buddhist”? Really not so different from other “faiths,” I guess.

January 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm
(5) Barbara O'Brien says:

The posts and comments there always strike me as extraordinarily thoughtful and well informed.

Thoughtful, maybe; not well-informed. “Pretentious” is a better word. Also, this is not ask.com, but About.com, part of the New York Times Company. And if the posts and articles contradict your understanding of Buddhism, it is your understanding that is flawed. I do keep things fairly simple here, but the work is exhaustively researched and also built on my more than 20 years of experience as a formal Zen student. I would say you are in no position to judge.

Why is it “stunning” to you that someone would ask what seems to me to be a quite valuable critical question about Buddhism? Are you just interested in “defending the faith” or something?

It wasn’t a question; it was a statement — “[buddhism is a] hodge-podge of often disconnected ideas and theories about human being (which it is).” The teachings actually inter-relate and support each other strongly. This is not the same thing as saying they are true, and it is not something that has to be taken on faith. It is a statement of fact. The many doctrines taught by the historical Buddha support and inter-connect to each other. Anyone who has studied them deeply ought to be able to see that, even if that person disagrees with them. As I said, I can see how someone could not see the interconnection if you were not well grounded in the doctrine of anatta, but if you are, the interconnections become obvious.

Finally: there is a big difference between “hard, careful thought” and “pseudo-intellectual posing.” I’m sorry you can’t see that difference.

January 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm
(6) Mila says:

Hi Molly,

In the Tibetan tradition at least, there’s no prejudice whatsoever against “hard, careful thought.” But somehow the analytic/intellectual aspect needs always to be balanced by — and ultimately in service of — a cultivation of the “internal technologies” of meditation: the introspective, experiential, empirical skills which allow for direct nondual realization of what words/theories can at best point to. It’s the difference, to use the familiar metaphor, between map and territory.

Intellectual exploration alone can so easily become just one more egoic strategy for avoiding a direct encounter with no-self. So for instance: endless spinning of our conceptual wheels around the issue of whether or not the historical Buddha “really exists” might — in some cases — be ego’s wily strategy for perpetually not-seeing that it itself does not “really exist.”

I’m not saying that the author to the linked post, or any of the commenters, have actually fallen into this trap. Just that it’s something to be aware and beware of, if we’re wishing actually to practice and not just talk about Buddha Dharma.

In my view, Alan Wallace’s talk Toward The First Revolution In The Mind Sciences articulates in a clear and inspiring way a marriage of “hard, careful thought” with the cultivation of a whole other and equally important “way of knowing.”

January 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm
(7) Barbara O'Brien says:

Mila — I’ve just begun to read Wallace’s book “Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic” and am impressed so far.

January 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm
(8) Barbara O'Brien says:

Intellectual exploration alone can so easily become just one more egoic strategy for avoiding a direct encounter with no-self. So for instance: endless spinning of our conceptual wheels around the issue of whether or not the historical Buddha “really exists” might — in some cases pp be ego’s wily strategy for perpetually not-seeing that it itself does not “really exist.”

Very well said. Even the blogger’s basic contention that Buddhism rests on the authority of the historical Buddha bespeaks a gross misunderstanding of the actual practice.

January 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm
(9) Mila says:

oops, wrong link. Here’s a better one:

Toward The First Revolution In The Mind Sciences

January 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm
(10) Barbara O'Brien says:

To Glenn Wallis: You are welcome to insult me to your heart’s content on your own site, but I don’t allow pissing contests here. Hence, your comments were deleted. If you want to address (calmly and rationally) the basic question of why you think the historical Buddha’s teachings are a “hodge-podge of often disconnected ideas and theories,” presumably with no internal consistency, I will consider allowing the comment to stand.

Update: What you think of me personally is not my concern. I’m more interested in discussing something substantive, such as which teachings of the Buddha you think have no connection to other teachings.

Update: Your criticisms of my comments were not challenges to my understanding of the dharma, but rather expressions of anger for disrespecting you and Molly. And if it makes you feel better, I apologize for any insults. However, I have no interest in debating you on matters of my perceived character flaws. I want to know if you can defend your statement that the Buddha’s teachings are a “hodge-podge of often disconnected ideas and theories.”

Update: I don’t have time for a intergalactic pissing contest, sorry. All I want is an example of doctrine taken from the teachings attributed to the historical Buddha that is not connected to or supported by the other teachings. And leave it here, because otherwise I’m not going to see it. Thanks much.

January 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm
(11) Glenn Wallis says:

Barbara. How do you reconcile your comments to Molly and me to your remarks about ksanti:

“[K]santi” can be translated many ways — tolerance, endurance, composure, forbearance, patience. That last one, patience, is defined as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like. In other words, it’s not letting circumstances or other people “push your buttons.”

And why do you keep referring to a “pissing contest”? That’s weird.

January 12, 2012 at 5:10 pm
(12) Barbara O'Brien says:

Glenn — At this point I am only distressed that you are distressed. However, a “pissing contest” is exactly what you’ve been calling for, since your comments (that I deleted) were entirely about my claim to having better understanding of dharma than you or Molly. And I admit that was high-handed and didn’t go over well. But “proving” who has a superior claim to authority is precisely what I call a “pissing contest,” and IMO such “contests” are juvenile, and stupid, and I don’t have time to be hooked into one. If you want to claim superior authority, be my guest.

So, do you have an example of a doctrine taken from the teachings attributed to the historical Buddha that is not connected to or supported by the other teachings? Just one example. There is all manner of contradictory stuff in the Pali texts, so I would think you could some up with something.

Update: If you genuinely are unfamiliar with the many colloquial meanings of the phrase “pissing contest,” look it up online in the Urban Dictionary.

January 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm
(13) Glenn Wallis says:

Thank you for your reply, Barbara. I appreciate it. Don’t worry; I am not distressed.

I do think that my original comment, the one you deleted, contributed to the discussion here. But that’s your call.

I understand what “pissing contest” means. I meant that I found it weird that you refer to what to me seem like genuine exchanges of ideas that way.

Finally, my blog, http://speculativenonbuddhism.com has countless examples of what you are asking for. In fact, the disjointedness of “Buddhism” is its very theme.

peace, and ksant.

January 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm
(14) Barbara O'Brien says:

Glenn — I don’t want a grand theory of Buddhist disjointedness. I want a specific example of a doctrine that is not supported by or connected to other doctrines. Just one. I am not going to read your post, at least for a while, because I have no time to get hooked into a long and complicated argument. Just one example will do. My suspicion is that you don’t see the connections because you don’t understand the doctrines, but maybe I’m wrong.

And if anyone else wants to argue with Glenn, do it at his site.

January 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm
(15) Glenn Wallis says:

You win, Barbara. I am embarrassed to admit it, but, your suspicion is accurate: I really don’t understand the doctrines of Buddhism. Now I see why I erroneously thought the doctrines–developed over hundreds of years by numerous, often contentious, Buddhist sects–don’t comprise a coherent whole.

I guess you’ve pissed farther than me, right?

Thank you, too, for your exemplification of ksanti in our exchanges (even the ones you censured). It’s been truly enlightening.

January 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm
(16) Barbara O'Brien says:

Now I see why I erroneously thought the doctrine developed over hundreds of years by numerous, often contentious, Buddhist sects don’t comprise a coherent whole.

Your original claim was in the context of a discussion of the historical Buddha. I’m asking for a doctrine attributed to the historical Buddha, as recorded in the Pali texts. You’re changing the parameters.

Certainly in the context of the Wide World of Buddhism there are many sectarian differences in how doctrines are understood. But even then, the common doctrines are interconnected and support each other even if people disagree about what they mean.
,
Since you can’t find a single simple example, I guess I win.

January 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm
(17) Glenn Wallis says:

Barbara. No, I am not “changing the parameters.” By my comment “the doctrine [as] developed over hundreds of years by numerous, often contentious, Buddhist sects don’t comprise a coherent whole,” I meant Buddhism as it’s presented in the Pali canon. (That’s why I said hundreds of years instead of twenty-five hundred years.)

I can find plenty of examples. That’s not the issue. The issue is that, for one thing, I think it is pointless to present specific examples to you. You have already decided that the whole thing constitutes an unbroken whole, haven’t you? Second, I really wouldn’t know where to begin in citing examples of incoherency derived from the numerous sectarian squabbles that were documented in the canon. That there are such is, by the way, not at all a controversial remark to the ears of an unbiased (i.e., non-Buddhist) student of Pali and what I like to call classical Buddhist canonical literature. Canonical inconsistency is apparent, furthermore, along several lines: linguistic, doctrinal, philosophical, logical, social, historical, model, and more.

In a very real sense, what you are asking is like insisting on an instance of a Germanic influence on English. The insistence just reveals a lack of sophisticated understanding of the subject. You simply are not interested in anything that sullies your precious Buddhism, are you? So, what’s the point?

I have a hunch that you need to have the last word, so go ahead. I am finished with this discussion. Sure, you win.

January 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm
(18) Barbara O'Brien says:

I can find plenty of examples.

Great. Then trot one out. Because I see how the doctrines attributed to the Buddha interconnect and support each other. It’s not just something I’ve randomly decided; all teachings with which I am familiar interconnect and support each other. So either you know of some teachings I am not familiar with, or you simply don’t see the connections that I see. If you would provide an example, I would either have to concede you are right, or I would show you the connection. Why is that so hard?

January 13, 2012 at 12:29 am
(19) Hein says:

Molly Wunderlich wrote: Hein, too, seems to be prejudiced against hard, careful thought. Maybe such bias is required for “being Buddhist”? Really not so different from other “faiths,” I guess.

Molly, to be frank about “hard careful thought”; my reply is “been there, done that and got the t-shirt”. That does not mean I do not apply my mind to the dharma. But pure intellectualisation and reading books about Buddhism and philosophy did not help me with my daily dukkha. And speaking purely for myself; all that intellectualisation made me more prideful and gave me headaches. Eloquence like Glenn and Barbara I might not perhaps possess, but I know what works for me. Hardcore Buddhist practice works; have done hours and days of it.

Insofar as “bias towards Buddhism” is concerned; well I am biased towards the car I am driving. It is getting me where I want to be safely and on time. But if the car does not fulfill its function anymore; well there it goes and sold top another who might find more use for it.

Although I have studied all the major religions and some smaller ones I have a long time ago already stop the comparison with other “faiths”. Like intellectualisation; not very helpfull to do that because arrogance and pride arises in me and of those two “eniemies” I had enough.

But, if I may; tell us a bit about your practice and how the intellectualisation might benefit somebody like me, who have not yet achieved what the Buddha (or somebody like him) have accomplished.

January 13, 2012 at 12:51 am
(20) Hein says:

Much have already been written about “faith” and I do not wish to add to it. But without basic faith/confidence in yourself you will not achieve much.

The difficulty I see is not so much a “defending of the faith” as an inability by many of us (Buddhist practitioners) to express our experiences through the limited medium called language. The teachers of Zen (ancient and present) have realised those limitations. Buddhism (i think) was never meant to be a philosophy but (as I think the Buddha or who ever) has stated; it is a way of life and a path to enlightenment. Philosphy and physics are two disciplines that fulfills different (useful) functions. Philosophy is mostly (if not totally) a product/exercise of the mental facility, wheras Buddhism might have some elements of it, but that is not what it is.
As a practical question: how much ksanti or tolerance should one have in engaging with people you disagree with? If one’s worldview is premised upon a highly critical intellectual/academic approach to phenomena then one will always find discrepancies in all human activities. It is not surprising that Buddhism will come under attack and sometimes it should, but not without a correct understanding of its teachings and practices.
I have not reached the latter stage yet.

January 13, 2012 at 11:14 am
(21) Barbara O'Brien says:

See, Hein, now you and I are “anti-intellectuals.” :-) Although I never knew that a hallmark of “intellectualism” is a pathological inability to answer a simple question. Very odd.

January 13, 2012 at 10:52 am
(22) Glenn Wallis says:

Hein, you may find this article by Tom Pepper interesting:

http://speculativenonbuddhism.com/2011/10/25/buddhist-anti-intellectualism.

January 13, 2012 at 11:15 am
(23) Mila says:

“Buddhism (i think) was never meant to be a philosophy but (as I think the Buddha or who ever) has stated; it is a way of life and a path to enlightenment.”

Hein: I agree with much of what you have written, and in particular with your characterization of Buddhism as a “way of life and path to enlightenment.”

What’s also true, however, is that in the Tibetan tradition at least, the “exercise of the mental faculty” in the service of establishing well-articulated philosophical stances in relation to certain issues, is an important part of the practice, for many if not most practitioners.

The rationale for this has to do with a distinction between two forms of ignorance, which we might call “passive ignorance” and “active ignorance.”

The first — passive ignorance — is simply not knowing something. This often has a genuine kind of innocence to it: I simply don’t know such-and-such information, or I don’t know how to do this-or-that practice. What removes this kind of ignorance is simply offering the information or experience that is currently lacking.

The second — active ignorance — is the (conscious or unconscious) belief in and active propagation of conceptual views that are not in alignment with reality. Like passive ignorance, it’s possible that this second kind can be removed simply by offering the correct view, as a replacement. What’s much more likely, however, is that a more active conceptual engagement is going to be necessary, to demonstrate why exactly the currently-held view is incorrect. So here, it may be quite necessary to use the proverbial “thorn to remove a thorn” i.e. use conceptual argument to remove wrong views.

(cont’d below)

January 13, 2012 at 11:17 am
(24) Mila says:

Also at play, in conversations between die-hard intellectuals and anti-intellectual practitioners, is often a couple instances of the Fallacy Of False Dichotomy:

Die-hard intellectuals frequently feel that if one doesn’t have a formally-articulated philosophical stance, that one simply must be stupid, utterly lacking in any kind of valuable knowledge. But this is a false dichotomy, which misses entirely the possibility of nonconceptual wisdom, the very raison detre of Buddhist practice.

Anti-intellectual practitioners, on the other hand, may feel that if they don’t have a formally articulated philosophical stance, then this automatically means that they are abiding naturally in a state of nonconceptual (perhaps even thought-free) primordial innocence. But this also is a false dichotomy, which misses the possibility that what really is going on is the partially or completely unconscious propagation of wrong views (i.e. forms of active ignorance) — which are so imbedded in their conditioned worldview as to have become more-or-less invisible.

Which is one reason why discussions between die-hard intellectuals and anti-intellectual practitioners can feel kind of like the proverbial “ships passing in the night” …. sigh :)

p.s. not implying in any way that either you or Barbara are “anti-intellectual”! & agree that this discussion might become truly interesting & useful if Mr. Wallis would offer a concrete example of what he’s talking about.

January 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm
(25) Barbara O'Brien says:

Mila

agree that this discussion might become truly interesting & useful if Mr. Wallis would offer a concrete example of what he’s talking about.

I really wish he would have; it would have been a useful exercise, I think. I was looking forward to the challenge. But I was blogging about other things for many years before I came here, and I learned a long time ago that Web “discussions” inevitably sink into big, messy swamps of misdirection and personal insults unless you take great care to keep them within strict boundaries.

Here it’s not a matter of being “intellectual” or “anti-intellectual,” but of having reasonably comprehensive knowledge of the subject versus having read some books and developed some opinions. There’s nothing inherently “intellectual” about making grand statements one cannot defend with examples.

That said, there is something of an anti-intellectual streak among American zennies, which I take it we inherited from Japan. As a beginner student I sat through a great many presentations of Dogen and the koan literature, most of which baffled me. I had been a formal Zen student for at least a couple of years when a visiting teacher (Jan Chozen Bays) delivered a talk at Zen Mountain Monastery on the Four Noble Truths and Buddha as the Great Physician, and I remember it was a revelation to me — oh! that’s what this Buddhism thing is! I’m not sure I would have appreciated that talk if it had been the first one I heard, however.

As you say, there needs to be a balance. Dogen is often cited as advocating “just sitting,” but Dogen was born into the Japanese nobility and had received a thorough classical education — which would have included many Buddhist texts — as a child. It is said he read the Abhidharma-kosa of Vasubandhu, pretty advanced stuff, when he was 9. When he was 12 or 13 he entered Enryakuji, on Mount Hiei, then the most highly regarded Buddhist learning center in Japan. He studied sutras and commentaries there until he was 18, when he left to seek out the Zen teacher Myozen. His later writing contains many, many references to passages from well-known (to scholars, anyway) sutras and commentaries, and he seems to have assumed his audience would be familiar with his source material.
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My suspicion is that when he urged monks to “just sit” it was in the context of a monastic establishment that had gone overboard in die-hard intellectualism. He wasn’t telling people to not study at all.

January 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm
(26) Mila says:

“My suspicion is that when [Dogen] urged monks to “just sit” it was in the context of a monastic establishment that had gone overboard in die-hard intellectualism. He wasn’t telling people to not study at all.”

Really interesting biographical note re: Dogen, Barbara. Thanks for that. And yeah, I guess that’s one of the real challenges of interpreting the words — written down & read later — of any true master: their words are so frequently spoken in relation to a very specific context. So then to assume they’re intended more generally …. can lead to all kinds of problems. (But nevertheless I’m quite happy that we do indeed have the words of Dogen here, to enjoy & learn from.)

January 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm
(27) cenac says:

Barbara, I do not want to receive posts from your site.

I am trying to unsubscribe… but I still receive your emails.

If possible, please delete my name from your contact lists.

Thank you .(Namaste)

January 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm
(28) Barbara O'Brien says:

If you are getting the newsletter and don’t want it, use the unsubscribe link on the newsletter.

January 15, 2012 at 5:54 am
(29) paula says:

….have just lost what I was writing so don’t know if my comment will show.

Anyway – getting back to Ksanti.

I have a difficulty with this concept/practice when I try to apply it to individuals suffering in extreme situations that are not of their own making.

It is often mooted that other people don’t make us angry – we make ourselves angry – but this doesn’t scan in every situation – I feel?

January 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm
(30) Barbara O'Brien says:

Paula — the saying “no one can make you angry; you make yourself angry” is something I got from my first Zen teacher. It didn’t quite “scan” for me, either, for a while. But it’s a very useful thing to work with. First, it’s part of the practice of mindfulness of one’s emotions and bodily sensations. When anger arises, notice it, acknowledge it, take ownership of it. don’t blame anyone else for it. This is true even if the anger is justified; you are angry because you see someone harm a child, for example. Go ahead and respond to the situation if appropriate, of course. But what happens over time is that anger itself becomes less personal and becomes just a kind of sense-secretion, like perspiration. It’s not something to attach to. At that point the “me” and “everybody else” dichotomy is much diminished.

January 15, 2012 at 5:56 am
(31) paula says:

Ok – have found first part of my comment so will send it now.

Phew! – lot of ‘hot’ words here – still getting used to the intensity of these discussion boards.

Mila – I always find your contributions interesting and enlightening. They have an intellectual edge but there is a ‘calmness’ floating over the top of the words/thoughts.

Barbara – I rate this site highly – accessible information that is helping me to organise my reading/study in a way that connects all the concepts.

….and the advice to begin with zazen for just ten minutes and gradually increase – realistic and encouraging.

January 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm
(32) Barbara O'Brien says:

Phew! – lot of ‘hot’ words here – still getting used to the intensity of these discussion boards.

And I deleted the worst ones!

January 17, 2012 at 1:17 am
(33) Hein says:

Ksanti please with my late (and further reply).
…Hein, now you and I are “anti-intellectuals.”
Barbara, I have been called many things an one of them was even that I am “over intellectual”, but never that I am “anti-intellectual. In any event making the the distinction between the two is dualism and you know all about what goes with that.
It seems people like Batchelor, Wallis, Pepper etc wish to encourage (to put it mildly) Buddhist to intellectualise the Dharma. This morning just after my morning sit I read verses 154 to 164 of the Dhammapada and it striked me that none of the so-called philosophers or intellectuals of the West lead lives that is an example to any of us. My personal favourite is Socrates, but he did not left us with any elaborate system of practice. Very little of Epicurus’s writings remained for us to discern any way skilfull way of life.
None of the Western intellectuals lead a life that I considered worthy to follow. Obviously I respect their achievements in their respective fields, but does not mean their lifes is an example of a way in which I would like to live. One sometimes get the impression that the intellectuals was so busy “thinking” that they actually forgot to live their lifes. Not even the great Einstein left us with any practical ways to lead our lives. The social theories of Marx, Engels and Mao tse Toeng gave temporary relief (if any) and in some instances to a lot of hardship.
The point is; intellectuals are too busy “thinking” to really make a worthwhile contribution to society. Even Socrates was merely a bum walking the street doing nothing useful except talking (“talk is cheap but money buys the whiskey”).
I know I am a bag of bones, hot air and sh*t, but I know I just want to do life and the Path of the Buddha serves as a good guide…in any case for me.

June 12, 2012 at 11:36 am
(34) Don Salmon says:

hi barbara:

I just wanted to say I thought you were remarkably calm and even minded in the face of glenn wallis’ (unwitting, most likely) attempts to instigate conflict. I’m often interested in conversations with people who have different viewpoints from mine, and usually I’m able to find some common ground. I joined in the conversation on Tom Pepper’s review of Wallace’s “Confessions of a Buddhist skeptic” and was quite dumfounded at the extent to which Glenn seems incapable of stepping outside his own point view. If you want to have some fun, you might look at the comments following Tom’s review (?? – well, it’s called a review, but whatever it was reviewing had nothing to do with what Wallace actually wrote).

I enjoy your postings and always look forward to reading more.

Best,
Don

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