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Saturday, September 15, 2018

A chat with Doctor professor of Buddhism Richard Hayes

Dr Richard Hayes is a Professor of Buddhism at McGill University, expert on the Pali Canon, former Theravadan Buddhist, and currently a Quaker. Dr. Mark Rogow is a layman of the Hokke [Lotus] sect.

Richard: Doctor Rogow writes: "But Dr. Hayes repeatedly disparages the Lotus Sutra."

I doubt that anyone but you cares what Dr Hayes thinks about the Lotus Sutra, Mark. But, as long as you are saying what other people think, there is no harm in being accurate in what you report. First, I do not disparage the Lotus Sutra itself. What I disparage is your interpretation of it. You have taken a beautiful text, full of subtle poetry, and turned it into an ugly travesty by which you go around passing negative judgement on every other Buddhist in the world, except for Nichiren (whom you don't really understand, except that you have a shadowy affinity with him because he apparently shared the same psychotic character disorder that obviously afflicts you). It is what you do with the text that appals me, sir, not the text itself.

Give it a rest, eh? Take a holiday from your obsessions. You might enjoy the break. 

Dr Hayes
Mark: Richard, you are breaking another of your precious precepts (not to lie).  Fortunately, we have Deja News in which to prove my assertions that you have both disparaged the Lotus Sutra and you are a liar. If you press the issue, I will  do a meticulous search and post every last post of yours to prove my point. If you apologize to the Buddha and the Lotus Sutra you will surely spare yourself  some future grief. 
Richard: The point I have made a few times is that the Lotus is so subtle and symbolic and playful and satirical that it is very difficult to grasp its meaning without first knowing a great deal about the dharma.
Mark: Then you should refrain from commenting on its meaning and you should praise it as have all Buddhas throughout space and time.
Richard: But then if one knows the dharma from other sources, then one doesn't really need the Lotus Sutra, since it has very little of value to add.
Mark: Some proof please? Can you please cite the teachings of Ichinen Sanzen and the Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds anywhere save for the Lotus Sutra? Can you cite the prediction of Buddhahood for all beings without a single exception anywhere save for the Lotus Sutra? Can you cite the Eternal Life of the Tathagata anywhere save for the Lotus Sutra?
Richard: Because I say things like this, Mark Rogow says that I revile the Lotus Sutra.
Mark: Richard, whatever happened to Right Views and Right Memory? Advocating that we do not need the Lotus Sutra is to not revile it? Telling one's mother we do not need her is not to revile her?
Richard: And of course, following the peculiar logic of the Lotus Sutra itself, Mark is convinced that anyone who reviles the Lotus Sutra also reviles the Buddha and the Dharma.
Mark: Can we believe one who praises his good father while failing to praise his good mother? Can we believe that one heeds a good mother's instructions while reviling her? Scholarly understanding is not a necessary and sufficient condition for the aim of any Buddhist study, which is liberation.
Richard: I quite agree. Scholarly knowledge is not necessary, nor is it automatically sufficient for everyone. If one is really determined to be liberated, then that motivation can be used with any method to make one free.
Mark: Any Method? Even the historical Buddha taught only one method...The Eightfold Path.
Richard: The Buddha himself said that one can be liberated though intellectual work,
Mark: The Buddha's statement should not be taken out of the context of the entire canon. There are intellectuals working on better more efficient cruise missiles.
Richard: or through devotion to the Buddha
Mark: The Lotus Sutra is the mother of all Buddhas.
Richard: or through meditational practice, or through a combination of all three.
Mark: Some people meditate on how to make more money, attract more women, or on the Jesus Prayer. This is hardly what the Buddha had in mind. And if you think that by counting breaths alone, you can experience or attain Supreme Enlightenment, equal to that of the Buddha, you misunderstand the teachings. Yet, surely, one will achieve liberation by devoted practice and study of the Lotus Sutra alone given enough faith, even with only a superficial understanding of the context.
Richard: Right. I think this is much more likely to occur if one focuses on the positive messages of the Lotus Sutra.
Mark: The Lotus Sutra is stark naked reality. It is not a pie in the sky philosophy detatched from this world or a Pure Land beyond one's present situation.  Punch a rock and you break your hand; deprecate a handsome person and you will be born ugly; rob a child of its food and one will suffer from hunger. Revile the Lotus Sutra and you become an anencephalic fetus in lifetime after lifetime for kalpas on end or suffer the worst afflictions imaginable, over and over and over, until one has expiated one's sin. Conversely, one who praises the Sutra will quickly attain Buddhood.
Richard: Unfortunately, some people just pick up on the negative tone of some parts of the Sutra, and they spend most of their time condemning other people, calling them dangerous, and saying they are leading billions of others to hell.
Mark: Only a fool would praise one who kills his mother.
Richard: People who are devoid of imagination and incapable of symbolic subtlety are likely to get dragged down into a kind of Lotus Sutra fundamentalism.
Mark: Those who are squinty eyed, bleary eyed, or blind can see little or nothing at all.
Richard: Their ranting then gives the entire sutra a bad reputation among other Buddhists.
Mark: Those who revile the Lotus Sutra are better off than those who have never heard the Sutra because they form a relationship to the Sutra. Those who form a relationship to the Sutra, whether that relationship is positive or negative come to understand the karmic Law of cause and effect.
Richard: I would add to that the importance of living according to the precepts. On a news group, people should give special attention to the four speech precepts: avoiding lying,
Mark: You are turning over a new leaf? Good for you Richard.
Richard: avoiding harsh and divisive speech, avoiding slanderous and libellous speech,
Mark: Then I can count on you to never once again deprecate the Lotus Sutra or its votaries?
Richard: and avoiding idle and pointless speech. (I keep thinking there ought to be a fifth speech precept encouraging being playful as much as possible so that you don't take yourself too damn seriously.
Mark: Isn't there a precept against jocularity Richard? Uhhoh, I caught you breaking the precepts again and in this, the Fearful Age! Thankfully, there are no longer any precepts Richard to be followed except one: Revere the Lotus Sutra and chant Namu Myoho renge kyo.
Richard: I'm sure if the Buddha had had eleven fingers instead of the usual ten, he would have had eleven precepts, making room for this important fifth one that I hanker to add.)
Mark: Richard, you really must go over the 500 precepts for monks. Are you not an extremely evil man for altering the teachings of the Buddha? If even a learned and wise man as yourself can not uphold the precepts, of what use are they for ignorant worldlings such as ourselves?
Richard: By the way, I don't expect that anybody but me reads everything that I write
Mark: I read much of what you write. You are a prolific writer. Why don't you determine to use your talents to praise the Lotus Sutra and bring benefit to the people?
Richard: and pays attention to the flak that I get from various quarters.
Mark: I only fault you for one thing Richard.
Richard: So probably nobody has noticed that Mark Rogow accuses me of hating the Dharma,
Mark: No Richard, I accuse you of praising the dharma but destroying its intent
Richard: Mark Vetanen accuses me of belonging to a dangerous and harmful cult so that I can have a better retirement and more worldly power,
Mark: I find that hard to believe about you.
Richard: and Mark Dunlop accuses me of being a disingenuous liar.
Mark: Don't be too hard on yourself Richard. As I have proven, according to Sutras, in this depraved age, in this degenerate age, there is not one person alive without faults.
Richard: I am plagued by three Marks. I reckon this proves the doctrine of karma. Because I was a Marxist in my youth, I am now a target for all these marksmen.
Mark: Very clever.
Richard: But I also look at the bright side. The Buddha was also bothered by three marks: impermanence, sorrow and non-self.
Mark: And that is why he taught the principles of permanence, joy, and true self.
Richard: And look at where that got him.
Mark: To the other shore

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