91 Final Afternoon Session: The History and Development of Buddhism

02 Jun 2011

Although there are two more days of retreat, this is our last afternoon session. Alan begins by jumping right in to a guided meditation in which he “puts us through the paces” of the three types of mindfulness of breathing, settling the mind in its natural state, awareness of awareness, and, finally, vipashyana.

This is followed by a long question and answer period. [26:55] Alan answers these questions from the group, particularly focusing on the final three questions.

1. I have noticed during the retreat how the English language, with personal pronouns an integral grammatical structure, both serves to assist the development of a concretized sense of self/ego and duality, and then becomes like their protector. (I understand most languages represent individuals or groups to a lesser or greater degree (except for Thai, Burmese, and Japanese).)

I experimented during the retreat with not using “I, me or mine” and it showed just how deeply ingrained the constructed sense of the world and self is in language.

What is your advice about negotiating the dissonance between language, encoding as it does samsara and ultimate reality, especially anatta, that we are seeking to understand and experience?

2. I am aware of the Tibetan custom of not talking about meditative experiences and realizations. As we begin to talk - and soon will be home and doubtless facing the questions of loved ones and acquaintances (“So how did it go? What did you get to?!?”) - do you have any advice on how we talk about our retreat? Or our plans for the future? Could you say a little about why the Tibetans take this attitude of saying little or nothing? Is it relevant for us and does it apply to a very ordinary level of experience?

3. Are vividness and clarity simply alternate translations of the same Tibetan/Sanskrit term or do they carry a difference in meaning? Also Gen Lamrimpa mentions ‘lucidity’ and ‘strength of clarity’; what is the distinction?

4. In one of the talks you mentioned briefly that after the Buddha lived, it did not take very long till different interpretations of his teachings started to emerge. Can you tell us a little bit more how the different schools of Buddhism were formed? (How long after the Buddha we can say there was ‘Buddhism’?)

5. How did Buddhism develop also to a religion and why do you think it did?

6. Do all schools of Buddhism share the [worldview + practice + way of life] being the heart of the teachings?

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