What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Wizard in the Forest
Posts: 498
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:16 am
Location: House in Forest of Illusions

What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:49 am

We've all heard the stereotypes that with age comes wisdom, with age comes deterioration, with youth comes inexperience, with youth comes energy, both eventually lead to death.

What I want to know about is, while there's no question that we should respect our elders, I am having a perceptual trap that is bothering me. Do older people have more experience fundamentally than young people by the nature of their age in general or is it specific experience in doctrine and practice that makes a person more experienced? Since I began study and practice in the doctrine and the discipline much earlier and longer than some people who began later and have less experience, I feel fear to speak of what I know for fear of sounding conceited, arrogant, and dismissed as juvenile because they are still older than me. I know though there are people with little learning who do not profit from their learning, also some with less learning who do benefit from their learning. There's also those with great learning who do not profit from their learning, and also those of great learning who do reap the benefits from what they have learned. I don't deny this, but I want to know is age inherent experience or is practice?

What did the Buddha say?
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

User avatar
ground
Posts: 2591
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

Postby ground » Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:09 am

Not by means of slack endeavour,
Not by means of feeble effort,
Is this Nibbana to be achieved,
Release from all suffering.

This young man [by my side]
Is a supreme man indeed:
He carries about his final body,
Having conquered Mara and his mount.

SN, 21. Bhikkhusamyutta, 4 "The Newly Ordained Bhikkhu"


Kind regards

Reductor
Posts: 1359
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:52 am
Location: Alberta, Canada

Re: What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

Postby Reductor » Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:57 am

Or...
260-261

A head of gray hairs
doesn't mean one's an elder.
Advanced in years,
one's called an old fool.

But one in whom there is
truth, restraint,
rectitude, gentleness,
self-control —
he's called an elder,
his impurities disgorged,
enlightened.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 13619
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 28, 2010 8:02 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:What did the Buddha say?

He established the rule that seniority in the Sangha is based on years since ordination, not age. Hence, monks will ask each other: "How many rains?" to figure out their position in the pecking (paying respect :anjali:) order...

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
salmon
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:55 am

Re: What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

Postby salmon » Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:54 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:Since I began study and practice in the doctrine and the discipline much earlier and longer than some people who began later and have less experience, I feel fear to speak of what I know for fear of sounding conceited, arrogant, and dismissed as juvenile because they are still older than me.


Not from the Buddha, but just an opinion (if that is allowed). Regardless of how much one knows, we should maintain humility. When one speaks with humility and sincerity, one will not come across as conceited.

However, remember that no matter how much you study, you may still be wrong. There is a Chinese saying that "an elder has eaten more salt than you have eaten rice". Without knowing the full story, one tends to get the story wrong...and when one's EGO gets excited, thinking "I am right, he is wrong." then one's mindfulness drops and one will almost always, be wrong.
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~

User avatar
bodom
Posts: 5307
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

Postby bodom » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:25 pm

The Venerable Sariputta’s humility was as great as his patience. He was willing to receive correction from anyone, not only with submission but with gratitude. It is told in the commentary to the Devaputta Samyutta, Susima Sutta, that once, through a momentary negligence, a corner of the Elder’s under-robe was hanging down, and a seven-year-old novice, seeing this, pointed it out to him. The Venerable Sariputta stepped aside at once and arranged the garment in the proper equally-circular way. Then he stood before the novice with folded hands, saying, “Now it is correct, teacher!”

There is a reference to this incident in the Questions of Milinda, where these verses are ascribed to the Venerable Sariputta:

One who this very day, at the age of seven, has gone forth—
If he should me, I accept it with (bended) head.
At sight of him, I give him ardent zeal and regard.
With respect may I again and again set him in the teacher’s place!


http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh090-u.html#T38

:anjali:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don't cling to it. Be it like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don't try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That's all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ''us'' nor ''them.'' They are not worthy of clinging to, any of them. - Ajahn Chah

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: What did the Buddha teach about the age of practitioners?

Postby Individual » Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:31 pm

There's a sutta I remember where the Buddha says declining intelligence from senility can be overcome by concentration. Perhaps somebody can find it?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra


Return to “General Theravāda discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine