Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

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Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby binocular » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:15 pm

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. And on that occasion Ven. Saṅgāmaji had arrived in Sāvatthī to see the Blessed One. His former wife heard, "Master Saṅgāmaji, they say, has arrived in Sāvatthī." Taking her small child, she went to Jeta's Grove. On that occasion Ven. Saṅgāmaji was sitting at the root of a tree for the day's abiding. His former wife went to him and, on arrival, said to him, "Look after me, contemplative — (a woman) with a little son." When this was said, Ven. Saṅgāmaji remained silent. A second time... A third time, his former wife said to him, "Look after me, contemplative — (a woman) with a little son." A third time, Ven. Saṅgāmaji remained silent.

Then his former wife, taking the baby and leaving him in front of Ven. Saṅgāmaji, went away, saying, "That's your son, contemplative. Look after him."

Then Ven. Saṅgāmaji neither looked at the child nor spoke to him. His wife, after going not far away, was looking back and saw Ven. Saṅgāmaji neither looking at the child nor speaking to him. On seeing this, the thought occurred to her, "The contemplative doesn't even care about his son." Returning from there and taking the child, she left.

The Blessed One — with his divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — saw Ven. Saṅgāmaji's former wife misbehaving in that way.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:
At her coming,
he didn't delight;
at her leaving,
he didn't grieve.
A victor in battle, freed from the tie:
He's what I call a brahman.

"Saṅgāmaji Sutta: Saṅgāmaji" (Ud 1.8), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu



I understand that Ven. Saṅgāmaji, now a monk, should not and did not delight upon seeing his wife nor grieve upon her leaving.

But abandoning his small child?? This seems irresponsible.

What was Ven. Saṅgāmaji's socio-economic status before he ordained? Who was looking after his wife and child after he left for the monkhood?
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:34 pm

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby binocular » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:36 pm

Thank you.
So Ven. Saṅgāmaji's family would look after his small child?
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:38 pm

binocular wrote:Thank you.
So Ven. Saṅgāmaji's family would look after his small child?
Damdifino, but one would certainly hope so.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby santa100 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:40 pm

There's an important piece of info.:
The Blessed One — with his divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — saw Ven. Saṅgāmaji's former wife misbehaving in that way.
Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:...

From this info., had the woman truly been in some dire situation, the Buddha would've intervened..
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby binocular » Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:52 pm

Without considering the background information about Ven. Saṅgāmaji and his family, it does seem that the sutta is condoning Ven. Saṅgāmaji's unaffectedness.

I know of one lady who, upon hearing that Prince Siddhartha left wife and child, didn't want to hear anything further about Buddhism. To her, the Buddha was just another guy who abandoned a woman after getting her pregnant.

Although I have heard from Thanissaro Bhikkhu that at the time it was customary that when a child was born, the father would go out into the world in the search for something worthy to bring to the family.
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:15 pm

Maybe someone was engaging in dramatic hyperbole for educational purposes.

"If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee..."
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:23 pm

There really is no way to turn the passage in question into a PC story by modern standards, people were sexist, people still are sexist, there still is no justification IMHO
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:32 pm

As lyndon states, there is probably no way to twist that to modern pc standards. During the time of the Buddha there were extended families at home, grandparents, possibly aunts, uncles, etc. and in both cases above, the contemplatives came from wealthy homes so we could assume they were well taken care of. Rahula of course later did become a monk, receive instruction from the Buddha and attained enlightenment himself. What better gift / inheritance could the Buddha have given him?
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:43 pm

The Arahants like Saṅghamaji are free from any biases. They are not sexist, but treat all alike.

He was the son of a multi-millionaire. His wife and child lacked nothing, but she was trying to entice him back to household life for her own ulterior motives. He was wise to her schemes, and could not be persuaded to return to household life.

He had obtained his parents' permission to ordain, and so was free from any responsibility for his wife or child. Monks have a greater responsibility to preserve and maintain the Buddha's teaching for the welfare of all — rich and poor, men and women, and they teach without any prejudice or bias.
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:48 pm

Source please????
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:59 am

David N. Snyder wrote:As lyndon states, there is probably no way to twist that to modern pc standards.

It's not about political correctness.

Without considering the background to such stories, one could easily conclude - and some in fact do - that for the sake of "spiritual advancement", one is free to just drop any worldly commitments and responsibilities one might have, and live as one pleases.

As in -
"Got wife and children? - Who cares about them! ... Got debt? - So what! That guy shouldn't have loaned you the money in the first place. ... Life is tough and everyone should learn that. ... Now you just go and advance spiritually!"


David N. Snyder wrote:Rahula of course later did become a monk, receive instruction from the Buddha and attained enlightenment himself. What better gift / inheritance could the Buddha have given him?

Accepting such an explanation relies on us first accepting that the Buddha in fact reached enlightenment, was able to teach it to others, including Rahula, and that enlightenment is a worthy goal in life.
IOW, accepting such an explanation requires a lot of faith to begin with.


Sam Vara wrote:Maybe someone was engaging in dramatic hyperbole for educational purposes.

"If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee..."

What's your point?
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby Aloka » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:22 am

binocular wrote:I know of one lady who, upon hearing that Prince Siddhartha left wife and child, didn't want to hear anything further about Buddhism. To her, the Buddha was just another guy who abandoned a woman after getting her pregnant.


An understandable reaction if one doesn't understand impermanence, the results of intensive Dhamma practice, or that the Buddha's family benefited from his decision and teachings at a later time.

Given her circumstances, the Buddha's wife was hardly going to live a life of hardship and poverty after he'd gone. She might also possibly have been one of several wives/consorts.

Agulimara even killed many people, - which is a lot worse - but was able to become a monk and than an arahant eventually. However if the other practitioners had got stuck in the past , probably nobody would have accepted him.


binocular wrote:Without considering the background to such stories, one could easily conclude - and some in fact do - that for the sake of "spiritual advancement", one is free to just drop any worldly commitments and responsibilities one might have, and live as one pleases.

As in -
"Got wife and children? - Who cares about them! ... Got debt? - So what! That guy shouldn't have loaned you the money in the first place. ... Life is tough and everyone should learn that. ... Now you just go and advance spiritually!"



I'm pleased to say that after many years of mixing with other Buddhists, I've yet to come across anyone with that attitude!

:anjali:
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:02 pm

Maybe the verses came first, and this story occurred later (the verses make no mention of a child). What sort of discussion did the couple have before his going forth? Perhaps they didn't know she was pregnant at the time he left home, and his return trip happened a year and a half later, or so... and anyway, how old is this child? etc.

---

There are some texts that seem to laud the wanderer lifestyle irrespective of whether it's done as part of Dhamma practice; wandering alone like a rhinoceros, such as found in the Sutta Nipata, seems to have been part of a larger stock of samana poetry and praise which existed at that time, and I think we have another example of that in this case.

This could just as well be any wanderer at all; I mean, what's specifically Dhammic about this text?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby santa100 » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:31 pm

daverupa wrote:This could just as well be any wanderer at all; I mean, what's specifically Dhammic about this text?

The end verses sends a very important message to us:
At her coming,
he didn't delight;
at her leaving,
he didn't grieve.
A victor in battle, freed from the tie:
He's what I call
a brahman.

Many of us nowadays are more knowledgeable than Ven. Sangamagi in many areas. Heck we might even know tons more suttas in the Pitaka than he did, but how many of us here still "delight" and "grieve" at the sight, smell, taste, sound, touch, or image of a woman?
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:36 pm

daverupa wrote:This could just as well be any wanderer at all; I mean, what's specifically Dhammic about this text?

At least nominally, this part:

The Blessed One — with his divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — saw Ven. Saṅgāmaji's former wife misbehaving in that way.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:
At her coming,
he didn't delight;
at her leaving,
he didn't grieve.
A victor in battle, freed from the tie:
He's what I call a brahman.
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:47 pm

binocular wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:Maybe someone was engaging in dramatic hyperbole for educational purposes.

"If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee..."

What's your point?


Maybe this is just a made-up story designed to illustrate the possibilities of extreme renunciation.
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:58 pm

binocular wrote:At least nominally, this part:


Sure, the verses, which don't happen to mention children.

---

Here is another sutta which may be useful in exploring this issue (MN 87 touches on it as well: "Sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are born from one who is dear, come springing from one who is dear.").

The AN sutta discusses how run-of-the-mill folk will see fires and bandits and such as threats to mothers and children being together, but that the actual threats are sickness, aging, and death, and that the only security from these is the Path.

So I can see how the Path is better than houses and wives and ghee, but I can't see how a sammabhikkhu would let a child lay in the dirt when mothers and children form a core metaphor for mettabhavana. This disconnect is why I see traces of the samana lifestyle fanbase in the prose (or, as Sam Vara suggests, a hyperbolic demonstration), but Dhamma only - and very briefly - in the verse.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:59 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Maybe this is just a made-up story designed to illustrate the possibilities of extreme renunciation.

Well, I am torn as to whether such behavior is indeed a mark of renunciation, or just plain old indifference and callousness.
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Re: Ven. Saṅgāmaji abandoning wife and small child?

Postby binocular » Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:12 pm

santa100 wrote:Many of us nowadays are more knowledgeable than Ven. Sangamagi in many areas. Heck we might even know tons more suttas in the Pitaka than he did, but how many of us here still "delight" and "grieve" at the sight, smell, taste, sound, touch, or image of a woman?

To be clear, this thread is not meant as some kind of criticism of renunciates or the renunciate lifestyle.

Maybe I just don't understand what Buddhism is really about and how it works out in practice.
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