A different view on taking those precepts

I’ve just come across a totally different view from mine on the value of those precepts taken at Gaia House. This is an account in our local Zen group magazine, Dancing Mountains, by one of the four participants I wrote about. You can read it all here.
Reading this account I suffered all the same doubts and confused emotions as I did when watching the spectacle at the time. I hope this account from the other side may serve to balance things up a little.
You will also find in this newsletter some delightful cartoons about the burning house, and other ideas you’ll now be familiar with, as well as a very funny account of one woman’s half hour meditation session including sniffing, sneezing, worrying, and perfect ‘non-seeking mind’.

The other news is that I have at last finished the book. so once my room is cleared up and the heaps of other books all put away, I shall be able to get back to the Zen questions.

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2 Responses to “A different view on taking those precepts”

  1. claytoninconflict Says:

    Dear Sue,

    Last week I had dinner with my close friend Lindsay Kallis, Chris French’s colleague, and we got on to chatting about Buddhism and mindfulness. I have been working on self-awareness in schizophrenia and have recently had some ideas and questions about self-awareness in Buddhists. Lindsay recommended that I get in touch with you because she thought you may be interested in what we were talking about. However, I could not find your email, so apologies for putting this on your blog but was itching to talk to someone about this.

    The main question that revolves around my ideas is: are there any Buddhists with schizophrenia?

    In theory, according to the promoters of mindfulness practice and metacognitive training and its efficacy in treating psychotic delusions and hallucinations, there shouldn’t be. Mindfulness practice has been a kind of bolt-on to existing cognitive behavioural therapeutic strategies, which have always seemed to have had some component in them to externalise one’s point of view and to take an objective stance to particular negative “self-schema”. Therefore, practicing Buddhists, particularly those regularly practicing mindfulness, should have few mental health problems, let alone psychotic ones. Do you know of any one who has written about this, or even any published empirical work? I am also particularly interested as to whether (and how) the practice of mindfulness in Buddhism can have a direct impact on other cognitions, personality traits and mood.

    Interestingly, I came across a documentary about the oracles of Tibetan Buddhism. The State Oracle of Nechung is the oracle of the highest order who advises the Dalai Lama on state issues. This advice comes during trance states, which the oracle appears to induce upon demand. The role of the oracles have been the tradition for many generations in Tibetan Buddhism (sorry if you know all this already!) This attracted my attention because some have suggested that the oracles are psychotic, although from watching the footage during ceremonial trances, it is clear that this is not the case. To me, it appears to be much more legitimate that the trances are seizures, possibly epileptic, and possibly temporal lobe epilepsy. There are numerous clues and signs in the documentary that suggest this. What is also fascinating is the importance placed upon the advice given in the oracle’s trance states. The controversy with the Dorje Shugden has lead to a large number of Tibetan Buddhists being ostracised, and even murdered by the majority that have pledged to stay faithful to the words of the Dalai Lama. From what I can find out, this division appears to have originated from the advice given to the Dalai Lama by the state oracle. I find it pretty shocking that the mass severance of a nation has been based on the advice given by someone who may have neurological and mental health problems. Although I guess this is not something new!

    Would be really interested to hear your views!
    Thanks, EB.

  2. tenzenbookblog Says:

    This topic – the relationship between Buddhist practice and mental illness has quite some history but I am no expert on it. Perhaps the most explored question concerns the relationship between practising meditation and mindfulness, and psychotherapy – are the two doing the same thing or something completely different? If they are the same does one have to complete some kind of mental health practice before embarking on the tougher Buddhist practice? There are many different views. You are welcome to email me at susan dot blackmore at virgin dot net. But I really don’t know anything about these oracles. All my training has been in Chan rather than Tibetan Buddhism which si very different.

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