In reference to the Maher article citing there being such a thing as Fifth Level Buddhism, I am going to be a lay person and offer an opinion, a personal opinion
I want to make clear I am not preaching Buddhism. I am attempting to offer what has been termed an interior critique from within a Buddhist perspective--one among many, of an assertion linking a commercial phenomenon--Byron Katie, to something non commercial, in this case Buddhadharma, by critiquing, within a Buddhist perpective, the suggestion that there could be such a thing as Fifth stage Buddhism and that this gives a legitimate place in Buddha dharma to a business venture, somethign that carries a dot com in its URL.
Genuine Buddhist teaching is not supposed to massage what are termed the afflictive emotions of greed/craving, hate or delusion.
So genuine Buddhist teaching should not leave a person craving a new improved form of Buddhism or distract from ones present practice by instilling concern that ones current practice is not 'enough' and that one needs to seek an improved version.
Nor should it instill excitement--or celebrity mentality, for those can be considered forms of intoxication.
Now, lets look at just the two opening paragraphs of the article, as given under the authors name, and from BK's official website.
The text of the article reads oddly. Toynbee and Thurman are referred to. One dead, one living. Both famous as scholars.
Toynbee, a historian is cited, but his references are never made clear. No sources, n page numbers, no title of a book or article or edition given.
Arnold Toynbee said that the most significant event of the twentieth century would be the advent of Buddhism in the West. He never elaborated on how he thought it might arrive.
Thurman hinted that everyone was asleep during the Japanese scholar’s lecture including the lecturer himself. Then the scholar said that the fifth peak of Buddhism had not occurred yet and might not occur at all; but if it were to occur, the fifth peak of Buddhism would occur in the United States. Everybody including the scholar, on hearing this amazing concept, woke up.
WHo is the Japanese scholar who fell asleep and to whom Thurman allegedly referred? When I had to write and defend a masters thesis, I had to account for all my statements and give sources--specific ones.
This vagueness about Toynbee and the un-named professor? Some might whine that thsi is all about spiritual matters and its not the time and place to nit pick about sources.
Well, folks if you want to invoke the names of academics in order to get prestige and earn trust, you have to follow the standards that make these academics trustworthy and sources of prestige. That means, name your sources. What place and where did Toynbee make that assertion? Who was the Japanese professor? Dont be vague.
Something that does not recognize itself as Buddhism?
Spirit Rock Meditation Center was founded by persons who learned Buddhadharma from the Theravedan tradition, whose scriptures are the oldest Buddhist source texts and in Pali.
The Dharma of Liberation
Spirit Rock Meditation Center is founded to create an enduring dharma retreat, practice, community and study center rooted in the Buddhist tradition. The teachings at Spirit Rock are based upon the dharma, the teachings of the Buddha, as expressed in the suttas of the Pali Canon. These suttas offer clear, ethical, social and ecological teachings supportive of a wise and compassionate life in the world, as well as instruction in a range of meditative practices. The primary meditative practice taught at Spirit Rock is vipassana (insight) meditation, as described in the Satipatthana Sutta (the Four Foundations of Mindfulness) and other supportive practices including mindfulness of breathing (Anapanasati Sutta) and loving-kindness meditation (Metta Sutta). The purpose of the teachings and practices is the realization of wisdom in the words of the Buddha, "the sure heart's release."
Spirit Rock Meditation Center is a place where these traditional teachings can flower in an American form. For centuries in Asia, most of Buddhist practice has been preserved in monasteries. In the west, the focus is shifting to a growing community of lay meditators, whose vision of spiritual practice includes preserving the depth of traditional wisdom and teachings while also developing an integrated and openhearted life of engagement in the world. Following the Buddha's teachings of interconnectedness and non-duality, our commitment is to realize liberation by making the practice of mindful awareness the basis of our lives.
These Pali scriptures are also referenced by pratitioners of Mahayana Buddhism of which Thurman is part (he's a practitioner in one of the Tibetan lineages)--though some Mahayana schools have added features, claims of sutras being discovered on the walls of caves or in visions, etc.
Thats not in the Pali-Theravedan tradition, which is also to this day known as the Way of the Elders.
There is a famous Pali sutra--called the Parinibbana Sutra
, which summarizes Buddhas Dharma teachings. It is well known, often cited, easily accessed online and in books. Its teachings are structured around a a narrative of what were reportedly Buddhas last travels and his death.
It is an early Buddist text and a very accessible one. And it contains a compassinate teaching that is too often forgotten, but that should be forefront in the minds of anyone, especially teachers and co founders of any Theravedan based retreat center using the Pali scriptures.
In the 31st paragraph, Ananada, Buddhas attendant, expects that his dying teacher might have some final teaching to provide. Earlier in this same sutra, the Buddha had visited different persons and towns and in these sections, repeats the basic Buddhist teachings on how to practice insight and compassion and attain liberation in this body and in this life.
31. And the Blessed One recovered from that illness; and soon after his recovery he came out from his dwelling place and sat down in the shade of the building, on a seat prepared for him. Then the Venerable Ananda approached the Blessed One, respectfully greeted him, and sitting down at one side, he spoke to the Blessed One, saying: "Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One at ease again! Fortunate it is for me, O Lord, to see the Blessed One recovered! For truly, Lord, when I saw the Blessed One's sickness it was as though my own body became weak as a creeper, every thing around became dim to me, and my senses failed me. Yet, Lord, I still had some little comfort in the thought that the Blessed One would not come to his final passing away until he had given some last instructions respecting the community of bhikkhus."
32. Thus spoke the Venerable Ananda, but the Blessed One answered him, saying: "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back'.
Now, here is my lay persons opinion. I have no teaching authority, but did take a vow as a lay person to look after the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma and the well being of the community of practitioners.
I suggest pondering paragraph 31 and 32 and ask, where and in what way can this very basic Pali sutra support any assertion that there is a need for a Fifth Stage Buddhism?
Lets apply insight. Might this Fifth Stage of Buddhism be a fantasy
brought about by craving minds, minds bored with the simplicity and lack of mystery and secrecy that characterizes basic Buddhist teaching?
What state of mind and emotion leads us to imagine we need more than whats already spelled out in the Pali canons, when in the oldest texts, Buddha gives the compassionate teaching thathe supplied all the advice needed and that the community did not need to fear he had held anything back from them?
A teaching that was meant to free Buddhas grieving students from the slavery of worrying that they had to look or wait for a new savior, yet another stage of Buddhism,
yet another gadget.
He wanted to make sure we were free from craving new 'improved' forms of Buddhist
Its like saying, 'I fixed your car. And I fixed it completely. Drive it. Test it in all conditions and at all speeds. You will see for yourself. You can ignore anyone who comes along trying to sell you a new car; Just test drive it and see for yourself. No need to buy a new car.'
I offer this interior critique, not to preach or establish some position of authority for myself, but to state that Buddhist commitmetn and care for right speech does not mean a concerned Buddhist is obligated to stay passively silent in the presence of a social drift in which something that seems alien to Buddhism is seeking to penetrate Buddhism and confuse the two.
There is a way to discuss this and set some boundaries by working from the oldest texts of a tradition that has become very popular in the West and is attracting attention from entrepreneurs.
Buddha was a teacher and not a businessman. He sought to liberate us from craving, not massage our craving so as to sell himself.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/2010 08:11PM by corboy.