HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Religion & Spirituality » Buddhism (Group) » Why Forms are Fundamental...

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 08:29 AM

 

Why Forms are Fundamental to Buddhist Practice

Embrace the ritual forms of Buddhist practice, says Buddhadharma deputy editor Koun Franz — you can’t escape them anyway.



Photo by David Gabriel Fischer.

BY KOUN FRANZ| MARCH 2, 2017

A friend and I were discussing a retreat she’d recently attended at a large monastery when she sighed and said, “I just love monks and nuns.” I asked why. I don’t know what answer I expected, but it wasn’t the one I got: “They’re the only ones,” she explained, “who aren’t stressed out by form.”

This is an insight I’ve gone back to many times since. Monastics, for the most part, aren’t asking the why of ritual forms—they’ve signed up to do that kind of practice for the rest of their lives. And many, after a while, have also let go of how. It’s just what they do. When a ceremony goes smoothly, that’s normal; when it falls apart, well, there’s tomorrow. It’s not a big deal.

But for many of us Buddhists, whether we like it or not, form is kind of a big deal. And it can be a source of stress. We wonder as we make that offering at the altar if what we’re doing is culturally relevant or if it’s just foreign superstition. As we look up at a teacher who is seated, literally and figuratively, above us, we ask, Does it have to be this way? And when a senior student pulls us aside to tell us we’re bowing incorrectly or that we need to hold our sutra book just so or that we ate our foods in the wrong order, we may simply think, You’ve got to be kidding me.

One cannot encounter Buddhism without also encountering one’s relationship to form. When we enter into ritual, we come face to face with our assumptions about culture, superstition, tradition, and the dharma itself. And when we enter practice that is less formal, less ritualized, then we confront form’s absence; we are aware, on some level, that we are engaging the dharma in ways that our teachers and our teachers’ teachers may not have been able to recognize.

https://www.lionsroar.com/taking-form/

9 replies, 1964 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Forms are Fundamental to Buddhist Practice (Original post)
rug Mar 2017 OP
vlyons Mar 2017 #1
rug Mar 2017 #2
grantcart Mar 2017 #3
rug Mar 2017 #7
grantcart Mar 2017 #4
littlemissmartypants Mar 2017 #6
grantcart Mar 2017 #9
littlemissmartypants Mar 2017 #5
rug Mar 2017 #8

Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 08:52 AM

1. I think it has something to do with shunyata

Dharma teaches us that everything exists as appearance and emptiness together at the same time. Does getting stressed out about correct form emerge from our tendency to see everything as independent and self-existent? Is our perception of correct or incorrect in the form that we perceive, or is it merely a subjective judgement that exists in only in our mind?

A lama once told me the parable of eating a piece of really good cake. She said that if the cake was good, it would be as if when we went to the store and bought the ingredients, we also bought a can of "good." Opened the can and poured he contents into the mixing bowl and stirred "good" into the batter. Poured the "good" batter into a pan, put the pan in the oven and baked the cake. Took the good cake out of the oven and then ate a piece of good cake.

When in reality, the good is not in the cake. The good is in us.

Om gate gate, paragate, parasam gate, boddhisvaha.

Go further. Go beyond. Go beyond the beyond. Be that.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to vlyons (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 09:01 AM

2. That's a good parable.

 

Being Catholic, one of the appeals of Buddhism to me is its lack of scrupulosity.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rug (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 12:48 PM

3. btw, happy lent Rug

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to grantcart (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 01:58 PM

7. Thanks, grant.

 

I recently learned Sundays are exempt.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to vlyons (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 12:54 PM

4. Discipline to form is an exercise in humility.

It's an admission that we are all metaphysical Inspector Clousseaus, some a little better some a little worse but none of us reach the " smartypants " level where no discipline is helpful.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to grantcart (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 01:32 PM

6. Ouch. But point taken.

I just had a small issue with the metaphor. One of these days I am going to write an op about why I chose lmsp for my moniker. There have been equal parts of curiosity and loathing thrown at me because of it.

Inspector C lacks dignity, imo. Dignity is the outward expression of respect. I can't worship without that. I would like you to elaborate on this, if you are willing, grantcart. Thank you.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #6)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 02:51 PM

9. I apologize on the smarty pants


I was posting while walking and didn't notice your name, I had the voice of Peter Sellers in my head and kept hearing him saying "smarty pants". It had nothing to do with your very nice post which I agree with.

I was simply trying to say that the impulse to look down at the religious forms of expression is a cheap shot whether it is Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist because they can be picked apart in a cynical way quite easily.

In accepting the forms of religious observance we are accepting the discipline of history and the group and in so doing expressing humility about our own individual standing.

I feel awkward prostrating before the Buddha because I know that some of the people around me are praying to hit the next lotto but accept it as an expression of humility and not because I believe that the object before me has any supernatural power.

Again please excuse the smarty pants remark, it wasn't aimed at you in any way, I like the name.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 01:24 PM

5. Great post rug. Thank you. ♡

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #5)

Sun Mar 5, 2017, 01:58 PM

8. I find this a good place to learn about Buddhism.

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread