Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby waterchan » Sat May 10, 2014 6:49 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dan,

Dan74 wrote:Which is natural - AB is a great populariser of Theravada which necessarily involves "dumbing it down" somewhat, making it sound easy to provoke engagement. I think this is what irks some people.

I don't think it's that so much... it's more the way he conflates "speculating about how existence, why we're here, the nature of the universe, other religions" (to quote greggorious) along with the actual Dhamma.

If Ajahn Brahm were to more clearly differentiate between the Buddha's teachings (or even Theravada's teachings) and his own speculative excursions, I think there would be less ire drawn... especially when you consider that the Dhamma of the Buddha actually contains plentiful warnings against pointless speculation on such matters (see MN 63 - Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta as one such example)

Metta,
Retro. :)


Obviously Ajahn Brahm gets a lot of criticism, but I have to say I'm rather surprised at this one. I've watched dozens of Ajahn Brahm's videos and I rarely hear metaphysical speculation from him. My impression of his talks is similar to what Dan74 said — a "dumbing down" of the Dhamma with a lot of emphasis on day-to-day compassion, kindness and equality. To me his public talks resemble the Dalai Lama in style. I often find myself wishing he'd get onto "serious" Dhamma topics, but I guess that's what his sutta classes and retreat talks are for.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 10, 2014 9:35 am

Hi waterchan,
waterchan wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I think some of us who work in physics (or other sciences) have a more realistic view than non-practitioners: that science is just one of our tool boxes.


I realize this is an old post, but I would like to hear you elaborate on what you meant by this statement. :smile:

I think Freeman Dyson says it better than I can:

Physics Legend Freeman Dyson On The One Thing We Just Don't Get About Science (PODCAST)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/0 ... Technology
The whole point of science is that most of it is uncertain. That's why science is exciting--because we don't know. Science is all about things we don't understand. The public, of course, imagines science is just a set of facts. But it's not. Science is a process of exploring, which is always partial. We explore, and we find out things that we understand. We find out things we thought we understood were wrong. That's how it makes progress.

Those of us lucky enough to spend time doing scientific research know that science at the cutting edge is uncertain. Of course, we can be reasonably confident that Newton's laws will work fine (unless we go too fast or want to deal with something too small, in which case we need relativity or quantum mechanics), and we can rely on them to design bridges or cars.
But when it comes to new, speculative, theories, such as "dark energy" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy), well, I wouldn't put money on them still being around in 10 years time.

:anjali:
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Dan74 » Sat May 10, 2014 10:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dan,

Dan74 wrote:Which is natural - AB is a great populariser of Theravada which necessarily involves "dumbing it down" somewhat, making it sound easy to provoke engagement. I think this is what irks some people.

I don't think it's that so much... it's more the way he conflates "speculating about how existence, why we're here, the nature of the universe, other religions" (to quote greggorious) along with the actual Dhamma.

If Ajahn Brahm were to more clearly differentiate between the Buddha's teachings (or even Theravada's teachings) and his own speculative excursions, I think there would be less ire drawn... especially when you consider that the Dhamma of the Buddha actually contains plentiful warnings against pointless speculation on such matters (see MN 63 - Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta as one such example)

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro! :hello:

We were at Ajahn Brahm's talk last weekend at BSV (see pic below!) and he talked about forgiving. Look, to be frank with you I feel very uncomfortable discussing the Sangha unless there is an urgent matter, allegations of misconduct to warn people about, etc. As far as I can make out, Ajahn Brahm has been a sincere dedicated monk for most of his life, this commitment alone deserves a great deal of respect. He's practiced hard, his outreach is incredible. Of course he isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea and that's OK. Neither is the Dalai Lama, for that matter (since he's been compared to him), but both also teach retreats and give detailed instructions, not only these broad audience talks.

I suspect I'm repeating myself, but basically these Sangha (like AB, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ajahn Sumedho, Ven Nanananda etc etc etc) are people we should be looking up to in many many ways, but rather than do that, criticism comes much more naturally to us. Of course we will have our preferences and some teachers will resonate more with us than others and that's OK, but I am grateful that we have these amazing people in the Sangha, even when some things they do rub us the wrong way. That said, if you find that he is teaching something you find at odds with the Dhamma, then of course it could be beneficial for all to discuss that (hopefully also with AB's input).

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Last edited by Dan74 on Sat May 10, 2014 11:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby mikenz66 » Sat May 10, 2014 10:53 am

Very inspirational picture Dan!

:anjali:
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Jetavan » Sat May 10, 2014 11:03 am

Once a physicist, always a physicist.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Dan74 » Sat May 10, 2014 11:15 am

mikenz66 wrote:Very inspirational picture Dan!

:anjali:
Mike


Thanks, Mike! Inspiration is what I am always very grateful for - I find it is so easy to find excuses and forget about what really matters. BTW, the two munchkins are ours.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Mkoll » Sat May 10, 2014 12:03 pm

That really is a nice picture. It looks so good as to be pre-planned but I don't think it is.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Feathers » Sat May 10, 2014 12:44 pm

I love that picture, because it's at the same time so ordinary - normal looking kids and a monk whose robes look a bit wrinkled and who looks completely 'human' - and so full of joy.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby khlawng » Sat May 10, 2014 12:53 pm

AB has a rockstar status in my country.
But i suspect most people go to his talks for entertainment rather than enlightenment.
And when one attract followers with such expectations, priorities needs to be re-examined imho.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Dan74 » Sat May 10, 2014 1:19 pm

Mkoll wrote:That really is a nice picture. It looks so good as to be pre-planned but I don't think it is.


Definitely not preplanned, James (but I do do a lot of photography). The Sangha were doing the alms round, Ajahn Jag is behind Ajahn Brahm and there were two nuns too. I don't think he was even aware of me taking that shot. Glad you liked it and Feathers, too - thank you, but, sorry for dragging the thread :offtopic:
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby melancholy » Sat May 10, 2014 3:32 pm

Mr Man wrote:I don't think levitation (the physical body floating off the floor) is possible but I could be wrong ;)


you are wrong for sure, because i witnessed this once. and of course, the monk was not an ajahn brahm student. ;)

khlawng wrote:AB has a rockstar status in my country.
But i suspect most people go to his talks for entertainment rather than enlightenment.
And when one attract followers with such expectations, priorities needs to be re-examined imho.


i think same goes for my country, at least i can say that about my friends whom now even joke about buddha. i used to listen to ajahn brahm's talks for the same reason i listened to comedians. i lost interest even in his repeated jokes when i hear he criticize other spiritual figures and sometimes monks from his own lineage. during my stay at bodhyana i also found incidents where he unfairly pressurize others to get the job done the way he wants. to me this is itself a joke as ajahn brahm advocates not to be fault-finding and also not be a control freak.

i am not saying everything comes from his mouth as bad, but when we hear and see such things there is a question about the root. however, to be on positive side, ajahn brahm's imperfect behaviour managed to increase my faith on the buddha to a very high level and stopped me to go after modern-day guru figures.
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
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gO tO wORK, gET mARRIED, hAVE sOME kIDS;
wATCH yOUR tV, fOLLOW fASHION, aCT nORMAL;
pAY yOUR tAXES, pAY yOUR bILLS, oBEY tHE lAW;
aND rEPEAT aFTER mE: "i aM fREE."
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Alex123 » Sat May 10, 2014 4:38 pm

melancholy wrote:i lost interest even in his repeated jokes when i hear he criticize other spiritual figures and sometimes monks from his own lineage. during my stay at bodhyana i also found incidents where he unfairly pressurize others to get the job done the way he wants. to me this is itself a joke as ajahn brahm advocates not to be fault-finding and also not be a control freak.


I am sad to hear that considering what great things he wrote in his books about no controlling, not being fault finding, etc.... :cry:
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby melancholy » Sat May 10, 2014 5:04 pm

need not to be sad, because it is human nature. without getting attached to the person, if you can take the great things he wrote, there will be no problem, and still you can learn and appreciate the dhamma. :) once attached to the person then you want him to be with no faults, once faults found get sad. buddha never advised to get attached to people.

we normally do not get sad when we found the dhamma book we read found as dusty, old, and imperfect, aren't we?

may you be happy and well!
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
__________________________________

gO tO wORK, gET mARRIED, hAVE sOME kIDS;
wATCH yOUR tV, fOLLOW fASHION, aCT nORMAL;
pAY yOUR tAXES, pAY yOUR bILLS, oBEY tHE lAW;
aND rEPEAT aFTER mE: "i aM fREE."
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Mr Man » Sat May 10, 2014 6:06 pm

melancholy wrote:
Mr Man wrote:I don't think levitation (the physical body floating off the floor) is possible but I could be wrong ;)


you are wrong for sure, because i witnessed this once. and of course, the monk was not an ajahn brahm student. ;)


So now you hold a strong belief that it is possible to levitate. Isn't it strange how the mind works?
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby melancholy » Sun May 11, 2014 12:56 am

Mr Man wrote:So now you hold a strong belief that it is possible to levitate. Isn't it strange how the mind works?


Mr Man, no I do not hold a strong "belief". it is simply i "know", having witnessed. this is not by some youtube video nor by a con. also, earlier i have no disbelief nor a though that it is impossible :)

your second question, i do not understand in this context. perhaps you have something else in the mind or am i missing something :shrug:

may you be well! :anjali:
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
__________________________________

gO tO wORK, gET mARRIED, hAVE sOME kIDS;
wATCH yOUR tV, fOLLOW fASHION, aCT nORMAL;
pAY yOUR tAXES, pAY yOUR bILLS, oBEY tHE lAW;
aND rEPEAT aFTER mE: "i aM fREE."
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Mr Man » Sun May 11, 2014 3:36 pm

Hi melancholy

Because you have witnessed something does not mean that it is what you perceive it to be - like someone perceiving a shadow to be a ghost. This is why I said "Isn't it strange how the mind works?".

If you would like to share your experience of witnessing a monk levitating (perhaps in a new thread) I would be interested to here the details.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun May 11, 2014 3:58 pm

Why are some of you criticizing Ajahn Brahm and / or disappointed in him when you haven't even seen the evidence? And why is Ajahn Brahm being held to a higher standard than the Buddha?

Even the Buddha rebuked bad monks, when it was necessary. The only time I have heard Ajahn Brahm say anything that might be called criticism of another was in regard to the bhikkhuni issue for those that did not support it and fought against it and for this Ajahn Brahm is correct.

See also this quote from Ven. Dhammanando in another thread:

Dhammanando wrote:Divisive speech is that which aims at provoking disaffection in one person or group towards some other person or group, but only where this proceeds from an unwholesome volition. Therefore not all speech aimed at provoking disaffection is classed as divisive speech, for sometimes it may be prompted by a wholesome volition. An example would be when, out of concern for the listener’s welfare, one warns him about an evil person with whom it would be harmful for him to consort.

Hence the commentarial statement that the near-enemy of non-divisive speech (i.e. the quality easily confused with it) is “lack of concern for another’s welfare” (anatthakāmatā).
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Mkoll » Sun May 11, 2014 6:03 pm

‘Householders, if the homeless ascetics of other beliefs ask you: "Householders, what kind of recluses and brahmins should not be revered, esteemed and worshipped?" You should reply them thus. Those recluses and brahmins, without dispelled greed, aversion and delusion, for forms cognizable by eye-consciousness, internally not appeased, abide with good and bad conduct by body, speech and mind. Such recluses and brahmins should not be revered, esteemed and worshipped. For we too are without dispelled greed, aversion and delusion, for forms cognizable by eye-consciousness, internally not appeased, abide with good and bad conduct by body, speech and mind.

-MN 150


Note that the Buddha is talking to householders. I'm sure he had a different view of what esteem monks should hold their teachers and seniors in.

Also note that he says those monks should not be revered, esteemed, and worshipped. He does not say they should be disparaged.

In my mind, every bhikkhu worth his salt is, at the very least, worthy of respect and non-disparagement for living the austere and rule-abiding life that they do. I give the benefit of the doubt on this unless they're clearly doing something bad.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby Dan74 » Sun May 11, 2014 11:20 pm

Mkoll wrote:
‘Householders, if the homeless ascetics of other beliefs ask you: "Householders, what kind of recluses and brahmins should not be revered, esteemed and worshipped?" You should reply them thus. Those recluses and brahmins, without dispelled greed, aversion and delusion, for forms cognizable by eye-consciousness, internally not appeased, abide with good and bad conduct by body, speech and mind. Such recluses and brahmins should not be revered, esteemed and worshipped. For we too are without dispelled greed, aversion and delusion, for forms cognizable by eye-consciousness, internally not appeased, abide with good and bad conduct by body, speech and mind.

-MN 150


Note that the Buddha is talking to householders. I'm sure he had a different view of what esteem monks should hold their teachers and seniors in.

Also note that he says those monks should not be revered, esteemed, and worshipped. He does not say they should be disparaged.

In my mind, every bhikkhu worth his salt is, at the very least, worthy of respect and non-disparagement for living the austere and rule-abiding life that they do. I give the benefit of the doubt on this unless they're clearly doing something bad.


:goodpost:

This is not to say that what they teach cannot be discussed like Ajahn Thannissaro's teachings here. But respect would be a great starting point.
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Postby melancholy » Mon May 12, 2014 1:39 am

cooran wrote:I was at a talk by Ajahn Brahm in Brisbane a year or so ago. He told the same jokes I'd heard from him before, the same stories I'd read in his books - and then he said abortion was o.k. up to about 16 or more weeks. At that point quite a number of the audience walked out.

3.Should any bhikkhu intentionally deprive a human being of life, or search for an assassin for him, or praise the advantages of death, or incite him to die (saying): “My good man, what use is this evil, miserable life to you? Death would be better for you than life,” or with such an idea in mind, such a purpose in mind, should in various ways praise the advantages of death or incite him to die, he also is defeated (parajika) and no longer in affiliation.

- page 74 of BMC I (Vinaya, Parajika 3)

From this it follows that a bhikkhu who intentionally causes an abortion—by arranging for the operation, supplying the medicines, or advising a woman to get an abortion and she follows through—incurs a parajika.

- page 75 of BMC I


with all the due respect to ajahn brahm. as the good bhikkhus and lay followers did during the buddha's time (can find many incidents in vinaya and also sometimes in sutta), i just state a question regarding a certain action by a bhikkhu.
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
__________________________________

gO tO wORK, gET mARRIED, hAVE sOME kIDS;
wATCH yOUR tV, fOLLOW fASHION, aCT nORMAL;
pAY yOUR tAXES, pAY yOUR bILLS, oBEY tHE lAW;
aND rEPEAT aFTER mE: "i aM fREE."
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