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Buddhadharma : Spring 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 09 8 many decades that history and sacred narrative need not be at odds with each other, because they have different func- tions. History is about empirical facts and figures, which may or may not be spiritually meaningful. Legends and sacred narratives provide orientation and meaning to those who follow a specific path, whether or not the events they narrate occurred in empirical space and time. A sacred narrative need not be historically accurate to convey profound meaning. Its observable truth does not determine its relevance. The cogency of Mahayana or Vajra- yana Buddhism is not damaged by the rec- ognition that they were not taught during the Buddha’s lifetime but developed later due to various causes and conditions. When that fact is conceded, Buddhist sectarianism is also undercut. There is no reason to expect that all forms of Bud- dhism would go through the same histori- cal processes or develop in the same way, which means that different forms of Bud- dhism need not compete with each other for relevance. It also means that different forms of Buddhism will have different sacred narratives. For Mahayanists, legendary accounts of how the Buddha taught the Mahayana explain the conti- nuity between earlier and later streams of teaching, undercutting claims that Maha- yana Buddhism was simply made up by its followers for their own convenience. For Theravadins, these same legends assure them that the earliest layers of Bud- dhist teachings present a complete path rather than the “inferior” path ascribed to them by Mahayana mythology. The study of history, then, which in- cludes the study of legends, sacred nar- ratives, and the ways they serve Buddhist practitioners, can be helpful in lessening sectarianism and avoiding fundamental- ist doctrinal squabbling. When legend and history are not confused with each other, each can take its appropriate place in an accurate understanding, both of the whole of Buddhism and of one’s pre- ferred lineage and practice. Rather than fostering doubt, such a foundation can provide support for accurately informed confidence in the dharma. EXPERIENCE A PERSONAL RETREAT AT THE FOREST REFUGE • Come for a week or stay for a year – open all year round • Follow your own schedule – supported by talks, personal teacher interviews and access to a dharma library • Beautiful new facility nestled in secluded woodlands • All private dorm rooms, nourishing meals and tranquil surroundings A self-sustaining practice is necessary to undertake a Forest Refuge retreat. INSIGHT MEDITA TION SOCIETY For application information visit www.dharma.org or call (978) 355-2063 Freedom with Support five new teachings on dvd BY FIRST GENERATION AMERICAN ZEN MASTER john daido loori John Daido Loori, known for his unique adaptation of traditional Buddhism into an American context, is founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order and abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery. These five new DVDs bring to life the heart of Daido Roshi’s teachings on creative expression, the environment, the subtle and profound teachings of Master Dogen, as well as the mind of practice. THE ART OF SEEING ONE BRIGHT PEARL THE FIRE KEEPER THE GREAT EARTH’S EDICT ENLARGING THE UNIVERSE DHARMA COMMUNICATIONS Support for your spiritual practice at home THE MONASTERY STORE 845.688 .7993 www.dharma .net/monstore