Saturday, January 2, 2010

The WAY things are - Mysticism and Institutions.


It would seem that Communism and Buddhism do not really fit together well. Or is it that Dictature and Buddhism do not fit together well ?  
 
In Hanoi, Vietnam last week a group of young monks and nuns devotees of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, had to leave the Pagoda where they had taken refuge for the past 3 month following government efforts to disband their community.
 
 

Also last week, in the town of Kangding, Tibet, the Tibetan Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail on charges of illegally occupying government land and possession of weapons.
 
 
 
This is not just about Buddhism, Communism or Dictature, but a general trend. The WAY the world evolves... Chaos follows order, which turns into Chaos again... 

Introspection  - the search for truth by an individual inside himself rather than outside - is a threat to institutions. 
 
Most Religions were originally "launched" by individuals : Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohamed... These individuals, having been raised in a traditional religion and not being satisfied with it, through introspection reached a different level of "knowledge" or experience of Reality, and had the audacity to start teaching to others what they had experienced. All of them got in trouble with local authorities, because they were threatening their stability.
 

This seems to always be the problem. One guy gets a great idea to help people . He starts teaching. His teachings threaten the established orders, he gets in trouble, might even get killed. But then his followers grow and grow and grow in number and strength, till the people in charge realize that if they want to control what is going on, they better work with the movement than against it. And so they do. (This is what Roman Emperor Constantine did in 313). 
A new institution is created, which needs Organization, Structures, Laws, Rules, Holly Scriptures... And here we go again, quickly the original vision of the founder (who was not looking to found anything) is lost under red tape, bureaucracy, and personal interest of dignitaries. 
 
Interestingly enough, this is not limited to religion... We can see the same thing happen in Martial Arts. When the Okinawan Masters (Gichin Funakoshi, Tsuyoshi Chitose, Chojun Miyagi, Choki Motobu, Kenwa Mabuni...) brought Karate to mainland Japan, the new Art was recuperated by the Dai Nippon Butokukai.
 
From an obscure "Chinese Hand" collection of (extremely efficient) fighting techniques, practiced without specific uniform, belt or rank system, Karate became Karate-Do - the way of EMPTY Hand, a mainstream Budo, soon recognized wordly. 
 
Whichever creativity involved in the beginning of Karate when students would travel to China so study under various masters and when back tn Okinawa would synthesize or modify what they had learn to adapt it to new conditions was pretty much lost. 
 
Nowadays, most Schools ans Styles emphasize the extreme importance to stick to the FORM (Kata) without deviating at all from the way they should be performed. Because this is the way it was always done. 
 
Comes a new idea, it is used and contaminates society. Little by little it becomes stronger and stronger until it prevails and society gets reorganized according to it. Strength brings Rigidity : the inability to adapt. Conditions change, the now old order is not adapted anymore, comes a new idea...
 
A baby is born, so flexible, in body as well as in spirit, it becomes stronger and stronger, he grows up, develops an ego and a strong sense of himself...
 
There is no point fighting the Tao.
 
 
 
 

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