Author Topic: How to understand dogmatic(?) modal constructions in teachers' speech  (Read 2502 times)


  • Member
  • teaching my self every-day awareness
    • Between zen and vipassana

I read, or rather tried to read, Charlotte Joko Beck's "Everyday Zen", i.e. the german translation "Zen im Alltag" which was available at our library. I returned it soon, stopped at page 80 or so, knowing I can pick it up some time again for another try.  The blurb of the book boldly advertised "an undogmatic way of practice" (from ger.: ein undogmatischer Übungsweg, don't know in fact if the original book has it).

What makes it little fun for me to read was that every other sentence, however, contained imperative, must/have to, "do not" and alike constructions. In my eyes, that is dogmatic. Buddhism, with special respect to how it is taught in the Vipassana or Zen tradition, is all (not all, really) about aknowledging and being mindful of the moment, the presence as being what is, as perfect, and as opposed – in an incorporated way – to what happens to bubble up in our mind, attachment to which again is resoluble by calmly, equanimously, patiently attending. So, maybe it's just my imperfect, ego-centric, struggling self nit-picking on that contrast to language which aims at making of me someone different, having me expressedly achieve something while then again saying it's not at all about achievement. Wait, wait, isn't that me who would rather be someone different, say, someone mindful, less suffering?

By (over)hear-say I "know" (though not the name) of movements, their members put strong efforts into avoiding any negative or imperative speech in favour of a mind set positive in all and every sense, a base from which exclusively good thoughts and actions would evolve at last. I don't mean the Positive Thinkers. It might rather be associated with the Neurolinguistic Programing society, don't know. The big difference between thinking "there's yet home work to do" and "I can do home work now so my leisure isn't spoiled then by remorse" is unfortunately nothing I'd been educated in, so today I am rather lazy.

Or is that basically a problem that arises from translation of original buddhist teachings into western languages? "Mindfulness in Plain english", too, isn't free of such expressions subtly heading against my being what I am. In fact I, or my mind, read what you like to, simply seem to defend against that and that's a hindrance.

I hope psycho-/sociolinguistic differences between anglophones and german-speaking aren't that huge so that discussion might have little substance.
You understand my problem?

Best regards,
-- flowair

Dharmic Tui

  • Member
  • Something
    • Some Theravada, some secular
There are issues in translation that is for sure. When you use the term "ignorant" in English it carries a negative connotation but it's not deemed derogatory in Pali.

Personally I've strayed away from reading a lot of this sort of work, they seem the antithesis of the intent of Buddhism. How can you convey the nature of simplicity through less thought by inserting lots and lots of complicated words.


  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
All books and teachings come down to lots more thoughts. Dharmic Tui nailed that point. Experiencing emptiness of thought is achieved via the route of Mindfulness of breathing more easily than the route of books and words.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Dharmic Tui

  • Member
  • Something
    • Some Theravada, some secular
The labels we use help obscure the truth.


Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
26 Replies
Last post September 29, 2010, 09:24:11 AM
by Matthew
7 Replies
Last post September 26, 2010, 06:25:12 AM
by Morning Dew
4 Replies
Last post April 03, 2012, 12:49:33 AM
by Black Feet
1 Replies
Last post March 11, 2014, 06:08:14 PM
by siddharthgode
13 Replies
Last post June 01, 2016, 02:31:48 AM
by Nicky
2 Replies
Last post September 13, 2018, 01:37:09 PM
by VipassanaXYZ
2 Replies
Last post February 23, 2020, 09:24:00 AM
by nicktw