Babies and bathwater

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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Babies and bathwater

Postby lyallben » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:06 am

I recently stayed at two monasteries in the Thai forest tradition in Thailand. At the second monastery the kitchen was a rather forbidding place with a woman who was overbearing and harsh in the way she told people to do something.The atmosphere was bad. Some other Thai workers were there as well and i got one smile from a friendly thai woman but she seemed almost afraid of the boss knowing that she smiled at me!! There were three other westerners staying there (longer than me) two of them who i discussed the situation with agreed that the atmosphere in the kitchen was not good). Another helper their seemed to enjoy belittling farang or at least this one.
I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water. I gained a lot by staying there. When i was younger i would have tossed the baby as well.
But it has made me wonder about modern Theravada and the use of servants.To me it seems to make otherwise good places have a sour taste in some aspects.

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Re: Babies and bathwater

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:31 am

greetings lyallben

I think its a personality/social/cultural issue rather one that has to do with Theravada doctrine and practice.
I'm sorry that working in the monastery kitchen wasn't the most positive of experiences.
BTW, welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
kind regards

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Babies and bathwater

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:58 am

If you got poor service at a cafe would you stop eating food altogether or would you just stop going to that cafe?

It's all relative depending on whether you had other positive experiences there or places like it as well or not.
"Right effort is effort with wisdom. Because where there is wisdom, there is interest. The desire to know something is wisdom at work. Being mindful is not difficult. But it’s difficult to be continuously aware. For that you need right effort. But it does not require a great deal of energy. It’s relaxed perseverance in reminding yourself to be aware. When you are aware, wisdom unfolds naturally, and there is still more interest." - Sayadaw U Tejaniya

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Re: Babies and bathwater

Postby lyallben » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:19 am

Thanks for the welcome Ben.

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Re: Babies and bathwater

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:09 pm

Its all part of the experience isnt it ?
From the other side of the servery ( as it were) I once helped prepare a Dana meal, while a layman on a weeks retreat and a novice monk complained loudly and bitterly about the quality and quantity of that weeks Dana meals !
I couldnt help feeling that they may have lost their way just a tad at that particular moment... ;)
Last edited by PeterB on Fri Mar 11, 2011 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Babies and bathwater

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:45 pm

There is nothing Thai or Buddhist about your experience. It could have happened anywhere.

Years ago after a Goenka retreat I decided to stay behind to volunteer in the kitchen for the next retreat. About 5 times a day, at least, there were situations where I knew how my choice of words would have made a huge difference to the harmony of things.

Halfway through that experience, one of the assistant teachers asked to meet with me in private. She told that she had heard that I had handled some regular, difficult, volunteers very well and asked me how I did it. I explained to her that in college I had worked in a food co-op. It had many of the same types of people and the same types of work as volunteering in the retreat kitchen. I had learned to recognize and avoid certain puddles by having stepped in them many, many times before.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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