Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Why do I feel compelled to explore Buddhism in so much detail?

I read the Dhammapada when I was seventeen, Juan Mascaro's Penguin translation. I reread it last year, at the age of thirty, along with the Bhagavad-Gita, two or three times. Then, early this year I discovered the Dalai Lama's work, The Open Heart, and read that quickly and became interested. It was only on my trip with A. W., my former flatmate, to Sydney in October that I read modern tibetan teachers in detail, but eschewed Western writers as just not kosher buddhism. Quickly I learnt how to take refuge in the triple jewels, the bodhisattva vow, the 8 verses for transforming the mind, and a number of other things from Mahayana. Then once things broke down with A. K. I also stopped practice, and about a month passed.

The notion of writing a Sci-Fi short story about a far-future Shin Buddhist sect, entitled "Murder on Planet Pureland" was also a casual driver of my reading too. Nowadays that has expanded magically into a novel-sized idea, which I have developed the five-paragraph plot precise out of the premise.

Now, then, since my trip to Kangaroo Island I have begun reading the Buddhist books by Americans, studying Chinese Zen in detail (and posting my findings on my Krowbah blog, a satellite blog to this one), and filling out my historical understanding of the origins and progression of buddhism from the First Council days of Ananda's leadership to the Western diaspora of the tibetan mahayana and vajrayana teachings. It is interesting to gain this overview and to peer cautiously into a future secular form of Buddhism.

it is also interesting to draw analogies between Western developments and Buddhist schools.

Theravada-Hinyana is comparable to the 12 Step Recovery Movement. Like recovery Hinyana is sufficient to secure happiness for the individual within an ordered community, so long as he does not leave the community.

Mahayana is comparable to cognitive therapy in the Mahayana mindfulness incarnation, but also the emotional aspects of Mahayana are allied to the nascent emotional intelligence movement in humanistic psychology. The complexity of Mahayana makes it a brilliant complement to humanistic and cognitive therapy, and like these therapies it proves finally just useless for altering deeply rooted emotional habits.

The really transformative traditions of Buddhism are Che'en Buddhism and Vajrayana (aka Tibetan Tantra). I believe we will see interesting secrets emerging from a more open-minded China in years to come. Many of the Taoist secrets have yet to see the light of day, and likewise the openess of the Mahayanists may not reflect the same willingness about the tantra practicioners.


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