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Hardcore Dharma Slogs On

posted by Julia May Jonas

The other night, while discussing directing theater, my friend Peter asked about my directing process:  “so is that how you tend to work?” and I thought about it and said “you know honestly, I’m only twenty seven years old and although that may seem of the age that some folks have a sense of agency about their process, I don’t and all I’ll say is that I don’t really ‘tend’ to do anything, I have no patterns of working, and it all seems very experimental these days.  In fact the only thing I ‘tend’ to do is not book rehearsal space promptly enough.” 
That’s all to say what we *tend* to do in Hardcore Dharma is work with three texts from the three main Buddhist traditions, Zen, Theravaden and Tibetan.  But as all conditioned phenomena is subject to impermanence who knows if this may at one point change.  Last week, however, having dominated Zen and Theravada with our single pointed grasshopper minds we moved on to our Tibetan focus of this session, Lojong.
Lojong translates to mind-training – it’s a list of slogans designed to help one awaken by directing the mind.  There’s a wonderful website, www.lojongmindtraining.com that lists all the slogans as well as commentaries on each by seven Buddhist luminaries.  You can also sign up to get a slogan sent to you each day via email (although – for folks that have this – have you noticed that the emails are a tad wonky and sporadic?).  Nonetheless, I recommend.
Ripe with dharmic ambition, on the Sunday following HC Dharma class I commenced a slogan-a-day program to see what came up, starting from the beginning (last week we worked with the first seven) with the intention of working through all 59.
My thoughts were so varied that I decided to simply present Julia May Jonas’s Lojong Slogan Diary as practiced from Sunday the 22nd till today and the shifty-brained thoughts it inspired:
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009: First, Train in the Preliminaries.
At first  I thought this slogan was a vague kind of, eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, right action slogan, but it’s actually referring to the Four Reminders, my favorite contemplations.  The Four Reminders are
1. Noble Human Birth
2. Impermanence and the inevitability of death
3. Karma
4. The endlessness and vastness of samsara.
My noble human birth got me and my good health to yoga, my contemplations of impermanence kept me from wasting the class by feeling irritated at the person to my left, my considerations on karma helped me to savor with careful attention the last of the delicious The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch and Samsara displayed its vast ocean of dismissal, envy, discontent, shadenfreude, aggression and apathy in that smorgasbord of aspirational living known as the Academy Awards. 
Monday, February 23rd, 2009: Regard All Dharma as Dreams: 
Today I realized while meditating on this slogan that this is a direction for formal practice and not for life.  Because when I was thinking about this slogan for life, I was like, “this seems like a really good way to accumulate a ton of credit card debt.”  Within formal practice, however, I realized it was an excellent mental gear shift towards yet another method to help understand that thoughts are simply thoughts.  They are dreams, not reality – they are your mind doing the same thing it does when you are dreaming – spewing out its endless dross.  Dharma as Dreams is a reminder of mental spaciousness and the importance of not taking your mind so seriously.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009: Examine the Nature of Unborn Awareness: 
After a bit of contemplation about my unborn awareness in the morning, I realized getting dressed that whilst assembling an outfit I often have the voice of Vice Magazine’s Dos & Don’ts in my head – which if you’re not familiar is a nasty, judgmental, my-appearance-is-completely-connected-to-my-worth kind of voice (so much so that I’m not even going to link to it).  As I recognized the voice I thought, sheesh, one more example of how my awareness and opnions are empty and therefore very much dictated by my consumption of material, and how important it is, therefore, to be attentive and discerning to what I mentally consume.
Wednesday February 25th, 2009:   Self Liberate Even The Antidote:
The “kill the Buddha” recommendations are always the trickiest for me to process but today I remembered something that Alex and I briefly discussed at the end of class last week regarding clear seeing.  He said Buddhism is not about changing who you are.  Buddhism is about revealing the truth.  When you hold on to anything, even a teaching, you’re denying the truth in favor of a preconception.  Better to be brave and step into the stream and go with the flow.  Hence, I buy shoes.
Today I’m working with the slogan “Rest in the Nature of Alaya, The Essence.”  Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche interprets this slogan as trusting your simple, indiscriminate mind.  Like the third slogan (unborn awareness), I tend to think this happens far more easily when I simplify my mental intake and activity.  Turn off the radio, don’t refresh the email, only read the New York Times website once a day and stay the heck away from those Viceland Do’s and Don’ts.  Only with a degree of quietude am I able to even recognize, let alone rest in simple awareness.
So there’s an all over the map post from an all over the map skin bag of conditioned phenomena today.  Anything hit?  Has anyone had good/interesting/bad/so-so/lame/fascinating experiences with these slogans?  What do they do to you?  Is this one-a-day approach a skillful means of practice?  How do you feel about Lojong?



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm


I believe there are 59 slogans homegirl. Now I sound like GZA :)



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Julia May Jonas

posted February 26, 2009 at 4:57 pm


Okay I edited. I was confused because the lojong website says 57 or so. Perhaps, like me, they were thinking of varieties of pickles.
mmm.



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Greg Zwahlen

posted February 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm


varieties of ketchup! sheesh.



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damaris

posted February 26, 2009 at 5:13 pm


lol Greg Zwahlen i was waiting for you to say it.



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Jeff

posted February 26, 2009 at 5:13 pm


Just a nitpick, but it’s not really accurate to characterize Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan as “the three main Buddhist traditions.” Zen and Tibetan, for example, are much smaller than the Pure Land tradition.



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Julia May Jonas

posted February 26, 2009 at 5:14 pm


No, the Heinz 57 refers to pickles. They never made varieties of ketchup. Hence the phrase, “they’ve got more blank than Heinz has pickles” commonly used by Christina Jonas.
I’m not going to look it up and provide a link. I just know. I KNOW!!!!



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Julia May Jonas

posted February 26, 2009 at 5:19 pm


Okay I broke down: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_57
We’re all wrong, but I’m closest to right.
@jeff: & Blame Ethan for the three main thing (although he’ll probably be all “that’s not semantically what I’m saying – I’m saying they’re the most popular categories in the West”). Nice piture, by the way.



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damaris

posted February 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm


i think your right Julia May Jonas. which makes me believe you are not a native new yorka.
we tend to think its ketchup because Heinz use to used the image of the pickle on the ketchup bottle and above it 57 varieties. the dropped the pickle but ketp 57 varieties. so perhaps you right.
now remember to be a child of illusion and don’t get your knickers is a bunch.



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Ellen Scordato

posted February 26, 2009 at 5:24 pm


But there is a giant “57” on ketchup bottles!
Seriously, I love this awesome diary. From the credit card debt to the shoe buying.
And the Vice do’s and don’ts. They are so evilly addictive to me that I do what you do Julia May Jonas, and limit my exposure.
Of course, that’s after actually subscribing to the magazine for, like, four years. They are so freakin’ insanely funny, tho’ … and the fear of ever obtaining a caption reading “middle-age German on the way to a rave”has been a terror to me for years.



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damaris

posted February 26, 2009 at 6:34 pm


hmm… just checked out Viceland for the first time.
thanks.
yes.yes.yes. i will be limiting my exposure…….



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shara

posted February 26, 2009 at 8:38 pm


I’d like to think of VIce Magazine as the antithesis of the ID Project. That hetero-male-privelege-dressed-in-arty-clothes meaness has no place on my coffeetable.
Oh wait —that’s not what your post is about.
Slogans. Slogans. I like “Drive all blames into one.” It helps make jerks seem less like jerks. (Not Vice Magazine. They’re just jerks.)



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Mitsu

posted February 26, 2009 at 9:51 pm


I love the Lojong. One of my favorite phrases (sort of the inspiration for Lojong rather than Lojong itself):
Gain and Victory to Others, Loss and Defeat to Oneself
My other favorites (from the lojongmindtraining site):
Abandon all hope of results.
Don’t be consistent.
Remember – this is not a competition.
Exclude nothing from your acceptance practice: train with a whole heart.
Don’t depend on how the rest of the world is.
Don’t expect any applause.



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Patrick Groneman

posted February 26, 2009 at 11:53 pm


who’s psyched for tonglen?



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 27, 2009 at 8:43 am


@Julia May Jonas and jeff:
I never said three main. They are however, the three main ones that one can study in America that emphasize mindfulness meditation as the basis of the path.
Jeff, if you could enlighten us on the distinction between (and rift between) Nichiren and Sokka Gakkai that would be most informative.
Is there a form of Pureland Buddhism that utilizes meditation as the basis of the path?



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 27, 2009 at 8:45 am


Re: Vice.
Are we the anti-vice? Or are we Vice’s Bizarro co-emergent flip side? We just need a Terry Richardson figure up in here, and hopefully we’ll get some American Apparel adds going to boost our nonprofit revenue. Would that be cool Shara? :)



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 27, 2009 at 8:45 am


@ Patrick Groneman:
Nobody is psyched for tonglen.



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Greg Zwahlen

posted February 27, 2009 at 9:17 am


Neither orthodox Nichiren Buddhism nor S?ka Gakkai is Pure Land Buddhism. Nichiren opposed Pure Land Buddhism.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 27, 2009 at 9:23 am


I know. It was two separate questions.



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Anonymous

posted February 27, 2009 at 9:47 am


I went to Viceland last night. Returned feeling rather sticky.
Shara your right about the description of whose writing it. After awhile it became quite clear.
I have to say though some of it was down right silly (which I like) and some downright awful (which i like too … sometimes)
and the rest was white boys gone horny. Which would explain that sticky feeling.
——-
Greg Zwahlen & Ethan Nichtern
It would be interesting to read a blog about these other types.
Please keep it close to the kitchen sink, if possible.



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Greg Zwahlen

posted February 27, 2009 at 9:52 am


I was thinking I might like to write a post about Pure Land Buddhism. Heaven without a God, what could be better than that? Sign me up.



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damaris

posted February 27, 2009 at 10:16 am


hey guys #19 is me. was on a different computer.



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damaris

posted February 27, 2009 at 10:19 am


great Greg Zwahlen but if I may request. Keep it close to the kitchen sink.
If its long and too intellectual interest may wane half way through or worst take too long to digest. It would be interesting to read many responses.



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Jeff

posted February 27, 2009 at 10:23 am


OK, responding to several different points (after forgetting to check for new comments on this thread, d’oh!).
Pure Land is not only much larger than Zen or Tibetan in Asia, but in the West too (especially the United States). But since it isn’t primarily practiced by the white converts who control the English-language Dharma publishing concerns, it doesn’t get as much attention (I say this as a white convert who is involved in said publishing industry). Just FYI.
Nichiren and Soka Gakkai, as already pointed out, have nothing to do with Pure Land Buddhism. In fact, Nichiren actively promoted the idea that Pure Land priests were traitors to the Japan who should be beheaded. I’ll just point out for a moment that Nichiren Buddhism (of which Soka Gakkai is a variety) is also far smaller than Pure Land Buddhism. In Japan the largest form of Buddhism _by far_ is Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism, with approximately one in every three Japanese involved in some manner. The next biggest is Jodo Shu Pure Land Buddhism, also huge. The next after that is Soto Zen. Nichirenism is way down on the list at about number eight or nine. But it is historically important. Outside of Japan, Pure Land also dominates the rest of East Asia, where Nichirenism has essentially no representation (it has been for almost all its history a form of ethnic Japanese Buddhism, not an international denomination).
Nichiren has a bunch of disciples. Most of them created lineages that are considered orthodox and have joined together to form the denomination known as Nichiren Shu. One disciple disagreed with the others, claiming secret teachings that revealed that Nichiren was the True Buddha and that only this priest’s mandala was correct. His lineage became known as Nichiren Shoshu. Nichiren Shu is the much larger, more mainstream form of Nichirenism. In the 20th century, an educational reformer converted to the Nichiren Shoshu sect and turned his lay group, called Soka Gakkai, into a force for spreading this type of Buddhism. It grew tremendously in the post-war period, attracting millions of new people into Nichiren Shoshu which had up until this time been a tiny splinter sect. But in 1991 Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu had a very acrimonious split. Nichiren Shoshu has returned to being a marginal form of Japanese Buddhism, while Soka Gakkai has recovered from the split, though with diminished numbers. Nichiren Shoshu has six temples in North America, while Soka Gakkai has hundreds of local practice groups and is one of the largest organizations in American Buddhism (about 50,000 active members, though they erroneously claim many more). Nichiren Shu, the mainstream denomination, has only a handful of temples, though some are nearly 100 years old.
So, there are three different groups to account for when trying to differentiate Nichiren Shu, Nichiren Shoshu, and Soka Gakkai. Here’s a quick summary to answer your question:
Nichiren Shu: Nichiren was a great bodhisattva
Nichiren Shoshu: Nichiren was the True Buddha
Soka Gakkai: Nichiren was the True Buddha
Nichiren Shu: the great practice is chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra, pronounced “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”
Nichiren Shoshu: the great practice is chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra, pronounced “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”
Soka Gakkai: the great practice is chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra, pronounced “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”
Nichiren Shu: the practice is for everyone, but ordained priests play an important role
Nichiren Shoshu: ordained priests play an essential role, though everyone participates
Soka Gakkai: ordained priests are devils
Nichiren Shu: Nichiren’s teachings are the best and the Lotus is the king of the sutras, but other Buddhisms should be tolerated and cooperated with
Nichiren Shoshu: all other Buddhisms and religions than ours are evil
Soka Gakkai: used to say all others are evil, but is increasingly moving in a more ecumenical direction, especially in the West
There’s more to it than this, but that’s a quick thumbnail sketch.
On meditation and Pure Land: Pure Land Buddhism is much larger and more diverse than the other major categories of Buddhism. Therefore you can find virtually any approach you might like, if you look for it. Meditation, both in terms of silent sitting, visualization of Buddhas, and chant-based absorption, are all venerable practices in many of the oldest lineages. On the other hand, Jodo Shinshu, which is the largest Buddhism in Japan and the oldest one in North America (and one of the largest here), does not do meditation in the sense that I think you mean. They consider silent sitting to promote subtle pride and striving and thus to be ego-reinforcing, and therefore prefer instead to concentrate on power-beyond-self (their founder taught that Amida Buddha is actually liberated reality itself, not a person).
Long comment (yet still so cursory in the treatment of these subjects!), hope I’m not highjacking a thread that wasn’t intended to be about these issues.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 27, 2009 at 10:36 am


Thanks a million. Hijacking threads which increase knowledge always appreciated.



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Julia May Jonas

posted February 27, 2009 at 10:44 am


Yes thanks Jeff – a clear and interesting breakdown.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 27, 2009 at 10:44 am


Oh but I don’t like the term “white convert.”
Mainly because convert sounds like a religious term, and my own interest in Buddhism is as far from religious as I can get.
Also, we ain’t all white. And oftentimes westerners who come to Buddhism actually devote much more time to the practice and study of Buddhist psychology and ethics than their Eastern counterparts who grew up with the traditions.
A post on pureland would be awesome.



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Greg Zwahlen

posted February 27, 2009 at 11:00 am


Everybody’s shooting for Amitabha’s pure land. What about the other four? I’d like to get all up in Ratnasambhava’s pure land and take a bath in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted February 27, 2009 at 11:07 am


Because man, Amitabha’s pure land is all about passion. Orgasmic. That’s where you get to steadily make love to the Cosmos. Keep your gold coins dude!



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Greg Zwahlen

posted February 27, 2009 at 11:18 am


ha, that’s a good point. it seems like those would be the two good ones, at least. It’s a little hard to imagine what the other three would be like.



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damaris

posted February 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Would it be wrong to ask to do Amitabha even though I’m far from tantric.
I’ve had a few teachers point it out to me that it’s my hmm… I don’t know how to say it.?
I’ve has one teacher yell oh she’s so red and clingy.
Another describe the nature of my mind as I was not paying attention and staring at this wonderfully dress older lady. That teacher hmm… was down right arousing.
and finally a sweet precious Rinpoche gently point and say ….. clingy as I sat crying because i could not let it go.
can I please. you can recommend what materials to read.



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Greg Zwahlen

posted February 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm


Hmm. There are prayers to be reborn in Amitabha’s pure land Sukhavati (Dewachen) that are made available to everyone. Thrangu Rinpoche has two on his website:
http://www.rinpoche.com/prayers2/amitabha.htm
http://www.rinpoche.com/prayers2/amitabha2.htm



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Julia May Jonas

posted February 27, 2009 at 3:00 pm


Ellen, as uncertain as the future may be, I can predict beyond a doubt that you will never obtain a “middle aged german on the way to a rave” caption from vice dos and don’t.
I do like this one …
http://www.viceland.com/int/dd.php?id=784



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damaris

posted February 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm


A teacher once told me that Padma’s house is where monks pray to go to because of all the beauty, fun and pleasure.
I was still in btwn Christianity & Buddhism when I heard this and was like hmmm… more than one heaven not too bad.
but then again understanding the endless opportunity given to beings after death to realize their true nature is what help with the final letting go of Chrisianity. Who can deny the compassion of a teaching that recites over and over as you pass through each stage (you’ve just failed) to let go and recogize that you are the light.
Thanks Julia May Jonas for once again opening the door. Although we took a severe detour there was still a lot of loving kindness shared.
@ Jake – Thanks now I understand why when I tell friends I’m learning about Buddhism they all come out with the Tina Turner Chant.
White, Black, Latino, Asian. They all say the same chant.



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Ellen Scordato

posted February 27, 2009 at 3:47 pm


Vice is the IDP, the IDP is Vice. I sense that reality must contain both, like good Captain/bad Captain, and matter and antimatter. I’m down with being the co-emergent flip sides of each other.
I only read it for the articles. And the comments. “You are all delusional retards” can seem kinda dharmic, in a wake-up kind of way.
And I always marvel at the comments here. Wow. Thank you for the Pure Land survey!



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Digest for 02/28/09 | Buddhism Info

posted February 28, 2009 at 1:13 am


[...] Hardcore Dharma Slogs On « One City – Population: Everyone [...]



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What’s Popular? » Blog Archive » Buddhism | Non-Attachment | Brad Warner « Rio Gu

posted March 2, 2009 at 9:38 am


[...] Hardcore Dharma Slogs On [...]



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