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September 11, 2011


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Barbara "got the dharma upside down" wrote;

"Nirvana is peace (or, Nirvana is between extremes).

Any teaching that contradicts the seals is contrary to Buddhism. That's really the only "metric" you need."

Even an ignorant bitch like you is predestined to one day, countless lives ahead in samsara, through a dark and painful sea of her own kleshas, become a Buddha.
And no, I am not a misogynist when applying the 'bitch' word. More a description of whom you presently serve.

Two things --

One, you are approaching Buddhism purely as an intellectual exercise and ignoring upaya. The "book learning" stuff is important also, but by itself it isn't enough. Enlightenment is not an idea. You can't "get it" by reading books (and, in fact, we don't know that the Buddha could read). How is it realized? How is it manifested? How do you *practice* the Eightfold Path? That's your blind spot, and it's a huge blind spot.

The fourth Noble Truth is the practice of the Eightfold Path. The entire Eightfold Path. The Path includes understanding of doctrines, but most of the Path doesn't have anything to do with discussing anything or learning concepts in books. Your own metrics would give the Eightfold Path a pretty low grade.

But your basic problem is that you leave out practice of the Path, which means your "metric" falls short by several miles.

No, there is nothing magic about things like sitting shikantaza or sewing rakusus, but doing these things wholeheartedly can have a powerful impact on the understanding of the sitter/sewer as Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness practices.

Second, there has been a "metric" for a long time called the dharma seals. These have been agreed to by several schools as the basis of Buddhist teaching. They are:

1. All compounded things are impermanent.
2. All "stained" emotions (emotions conditioned by the Three Poisons) are painful.
3. All phenomena are empty.
4. Nirvana is peace (or, Nirvana is between extremes).

Any teaching that contradicts the seals is contrary to Buddhism. That's really the only "metric" you need.

Of course now if I have a question on Buddhism I go right away to the internet, especially Wikipedia, for the straight shinny. Anyone with a serious interest and half a brain will do this.

I applied the same modified metric to another old book of mine "Buddhist Texts Through the Ages," ed. E. Conze et al.,Harper Row, NY 1954. Again, I counted citations in the index (called a glossary but shows page numbers).

Results: Nikayas,Hinayana, Pali 25*, Mahayana canon 25**, nirvana, enlightenment, satori 22, dependent origination, Law of causation (pratityasmaputpada) 3, mind (citta) 2, consciousness (vijñâna) 10, smriti, mindfulness/recollection 3, skandhas aggregates 6, rebirth (punarbhava) 2, liberation, freedom, emancipation (vimukta) 0, emptiness (shunyata, ku) 17, Bodhicitta, Bohdi mind 0, Atman, real-self, real-you, true-self Buddha nature etc. 23

*Nikayas not mentioned in the index but comprise the first 155 pages, **similar for Mahayana canon, translations of which which fill the rest of the book.

In this case the total score was 138 and 11/13 categories were addressed, not markedly different from TPZ. Together these two books touch all the bases.

Metrics are useful if they facilitate definitive comparisons. So FWIW, in the spirit of the article, and just for fun I applied a derivative of the suggested metric to my original guide, Phillip Kapleau's book "The Three Pillars of Zen."

For simplicity I roughly counted the number of index citations for the terms and concepts mentioned in the blog but adding some synonyms as indicated below. In a couple of instances I stopped counting at 25 (I.e., following free-flight model airplane contest terminology, the "max" for any category is 25.

Nikayas,Hinayana, Pali 1, Mahayana canon 15, nirvana, enlightenment, satori 25+, dependent origination, Law of causation (pratityasmaputpada) 10, mind (citta) 19, consciousness (vijñâna) 15, smriti, mindfulness/recollection 0, skandhas aggregates 0, rebirth (punarbhava) 0, liberation, freedom, emancipation (vimukta) 21, emptiness (shunyata, ku) 14, Bodhicitta, Bohdi mind 7, Atman, real-self, real-you, true-self Buddha nature etc. 25+

Total score with max of 25 is 152. If the max is set at 1 the score is 10 out a possible 13.

Some other core concepts/terms which could be considered would include death, suffering, samsara, and karma.

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