Are Theravadins Simpler ?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:50 am

dagon wrote:
arijitmitter wrote: Do I seem so foolish ?


Yes

metta
paul

My gratitude to all who have attacked me personally. I had some suspicion I was wrong. Now I have none.

:anjali: Arijit
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Anagarika » Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:06 pm

arijitmitter wrote:
dagon wrote:
arijitmitter wrote: Do I seem so foolish ?


Yes

metta
paul

My gratitude to all who have attacked me personally. I had some suspicion I was wrong. Now I have none.

:anjali: Arijit


Arijit:

I do not think you are foolish, and I suspect that my opinion is shared by most all on DW. I sense that you are intelligent, and have a very passionate view toward the sanctity of the Vinaya. I think that is a very positive thing. I can share that many of us have concerns about the Vinaya being eroded, and as you know the Buddha himself shared these concerns before his passing. Yet, I have had to learn myself that it is better not to be too judgmental of others, as this is not Right Speech, it is not generally in synch with the Eightfold Path. Being upset with monks who travel business class certainly does give rise to dukkha; we strive to eliminate dukkha from our lives.

Don't take any of the exchanges on any forum personally. Certainly on this wonderful DW forum, there's a broad spectrum of opinions and personalities...you'll find the the moderators possess a kindness and balance that is not always embraced by all of the posters. Theravada is a demanding discipline, and some involved in Theravada can be somewhat sharp in their retorts. It's what happens when you assemble a group of intelligent men and women...elbows get thrown trying to create space. :)

This forum is a welcoming forum. Please don't let the views of a few poison the well. We may not all agree with you, and I can say have posted some posts that received some lovely "elbows" back myself. Iron sharpens iron, so stay in the game and see how your views may be shaped by input from others who care about the Dhamma, too. In the end, we all benefit from this shared knowledge.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:53 pm

arijitmitter wrote:Can a Buddhist Bhikkhu not watch a few minutes of marvellous skating on ice in Olympics? It breaks the 7th precept.

Yes he can, but yes it does break the seventh precept, and yes it is a minor deviation from the life of a renunciate.
arijitmitter wrote:Bhikkhus in India accept cash as alms (for personal use). But they have to travel and they need money for local conveyance. It breaks the 10th precept (hopefully I am counting the precepts correctly). These are not wrong. They are changes that came with time and no one will say it is a deviation from life of a renunciate.

Yes they can, and yes they do, but it is wrong. Anyone who knows the Vinaya will say that it is a significant deviation from the life of a renunciate to accept and make use of money.
arijitmitter wrote:However there is a difference between that and travelling business class.

Yes, there is a significant difference. Travelling business class doesn't break any precepts, and does not deviate at all from the life of a renunciate, as was so clearly explained to you by Venerable Dhammānando. A bhikkhu may accept whatever is offered, as long is it is allowable for a bhikkhu, though I am not sure if a suitcase with a smiley cartoon face is suitable for a bhikkhu. :) It would count as decoration in my opinion.

You accuse others of being deaf, but you are the one not listening to others, though most have been following Buddhism much longer than you have. Long experience doesn't always mean that one is right, but it should be worthy of more respect than you have shown. To take the dogmatic stance that you have about travelling business class is both arrogant and foolish.
arijitmitter wrote:I cannot, shall not, will not accept under any circumstances that a Buddhist monk travels in business class despite attempts by so many to put it under Dana.

If monks ask someone to book a ticket for us, we will, of course, travel economy class, well aware that all donations should be used wisely. However, if a wealthy donor offers a business class seat, or an airline upgrades our seat to business class, then we will graciously accept the offer.

None of us know the monks referred to in the OP, nor how they got to be in business class seats, but in the absence of any facts, it is quite wrong to criticise them.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:27 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:You accuse others of being deaf, but you are the one not listening to others, though most have been following Buddhism much longer than you have. Long experience doesn't always mean that one is right, but it should be worthy of more respect than you have shown. To take the dogmatic stance that you have about travelling business class is both arrogant and foolish.


Venerable Sir,

Every time I wish to disengage from this topic, a new point crops up and has been for last few days. Perhaps that is not so bad. But again perhaps I should then stop reading the comments for a month and allow the topic to die a natural death. However, I return since debating is not arrogance but a form of learning.

Perhaps I am at wrong and at fault. I leave that door open.

However consider Dana of a business class seat through this analogy. I am a rich man and I invite you to stay with me for a few days. If I have prepared for you luxurious sleeping arrangements will you accept it ? I believe not. Because it breaks the 9th precept.

But suppose I offer you three bedrooms - one with a 8 inch thick mattress on the floor, one with a luxurious bed as mentioned before, one with a 3 feet high bed but with only a thin carpet like mattress.

None fit the 9th precept "Uccasayana-mahasayana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami" - I undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place. (as translated in ATI http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... asila.html)

The first bedroom is mahasayana, second one is both uccasayana and mahasayana, third one is uccasayana (Theravadin monks in India at least will not sleep on anything higher than about 15 inches or higher than elbow to fingertips).

You will choose the least worst alternative (assuming for the moment that you do not go ahead and sleep on the floor) which happens to be bedroom three.

What I am trying to illustrate is that Vinay is not exhaustive. Since there maybe infinite permutations and combinations of circumstances. Vinay only seeks to set a framework for what seemed 2500 years ago to be life befitting of a monk. Now there were no buses 2500 years back. No need for a ticket. So a monk did not have to handle money or gold for payment in respect of such transactions.

But at this time and place we cannot deny monks the right to handle petty cash. So the 10th precept has to be viewed differently.

Now to conclude - if I take the 10th precept and find a case to view it differently, why shall I then not take Dana and view it differently also. If I lean towards suspending 10th precept under some circumstances why shall I not lean opposite way towards making Dana rules stricter.

No one is asking the Vinay be thrown out. All one is asking is it be tweaked to allow a monk to ride a bus but not sit in business class.

Have you noted that if I follow Vinay strictly and allow monks to take Dana of business class seats, I also have to be strict and not let monks take a bus since they cannot buy tickets (and at least in India where I live no allowance is made for clergy of any religion as regards conveyance)

Are you not then proposing a paradoxical situation ? A monk cannot get up on a bus, but ride in business class ? Should Vinay not be adjusted to allow the least worst alternatives keeping in mind 2500 years have elapsed ?

Of course I asked, a rhetorical question. it requires no answer since I know the answer will be no, Vinay stays where it is and Arijit is an ignorant fool.

About knowing the Dhamma for "n" number of months, before commenting on it -

Some learn calculus in 3 years some in 4 months. You can learn line by line or you can learn how the subject proceeds and then you will be able to make sense of something even though it is a formula you have not used before.

Philosophy is like music (at least those parts that deal with logic and debate). If you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything. I tried to not know the scriptures line by line but the "frequency" of Buddha's mind in the short time I have been a Buddhist. I spend my time trying to know the notes of Buddhism. Since I am a teacher, adjusting pedagogy to the curricula comes very easily to me. When I look at Buddhism I do not look up on it as "x" pages and "y" Suttas to be learned. I look at it as - if this is a 2000 page book I am trying to teach in 6 months - what is the best way I will go about it.

I have a curious job where I am asked to remember (along with my fellow workers) about 3,000 pages of mathematical material and nearly 1200 - 2000 different types of problems for immediate recall. In addition I have been a a lay student of Western and Indian philosophy for 22 years now. Combine both and it is really not hard to see how I have covered so much in 4 hours a day for 6 months (first 2 months I spent 10 hours a day learning Buddhism).

Obviously it will take less time to study Suttas for a good lawyer used to reading difficult law books than a nurse whose task is to measure blood pressure and note urine color

Of course I am only speaking of the learning part not practicing the Dhamma part. And when I am writing this specific reply it addresses your concern of how long I have spent learning it.

Sir, the world has changed. A 19 year old with a computer can create more wealth in 3 years than an aristocratic European family which owns banks can make in 3 generations.

Kindly ponder these words from an arrogant and foolish person.

:anjali: Arijit

note: large numbers of edits done to add material but not to subtract anything from previous versions of this particular reply.
Last edited by arijitmitter on Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:57 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Sanjay PS » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:35 pm

Hi Arijit ,

Why not just let go...........it gets so much of peace .

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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:38 pm

Sanjay PS wrote:Hi Arijit ,

Why not just let go...........it gets so much of peace .

sanjay


I had let it go. Then my name was dragged back.

retrofuturist wrote:
alan wrote:arijitmitter is speaking sense.

No one is making arijitmitter become a bhikkhu, nor contribute towards the maintenance of the Sangha. If he'd rather restrict his Triple Gem reverence to the Noble (Ariyan) Sangha instead of the community of monastics, then he can do that. There is no issue there.


So today morning (IST) I had to respond to defend myself. But you are correct Sanjay.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Hickersonia » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:03 pm

arijitmitter wrote:I had let it go. Then my name was dragged back. .

No one can "drag" you back by your name... although I'll admit that the conversation has been very interesting to read so I'm glad you keep returning so long as it is not becoming an unnecessary stress on anyone.

I hope you are well, friend. :anjali:
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby chownah » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:45 pm

Arijitmitter,
I'm glad that you are expressing your views here. I both agree and disagree with you. Frankly I don't really much care what monks do. I think it is much more valuable to know what the Noble Ones do. Not all monks are Noble Ones and not all Noble Ones are monks. The Buddha never claimed to be of any lineage of monks but he did claim to be of the lineage of Noble Ones.

From Accesstoinsight:
AN 4.28 PTS: A ii 27
Ariya-vamsa Sutta: The Discourse on the Traditions of the Noble Ones
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1996
These four traditions of the Noble Ones — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives and brahmans. Which four?

There is the case where a monk is content with any old robe cloth at all. He speaks in praise of being content with any old robe cloth at all. He does not, for the sake of robe cloth, do anything unseemly or inappropriate. Not getting cloth, he is not agitated. Getting cloth, he uses it not tied to it, uninfatuated, guiltless, seeing the drawbacks (of attachment to it), and discerning the escape from them. He does not, on account of his contentment with any old robe cloth at all, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

Furthermore, the monk is content with any old almsfood at all. He speaks in praise of being content with any old almsfood at all. He does not, for the sake of almsfood, do anything unseemly or inappropriate. Not getting almsfood, he is not agitated. Getting almsfood, he uses it not tied to it, uninfatuated, guiltless, seeing the drawbacks (of attachment to it), and discerning the escape from them. He does not, on account of his contentment with any old almsfood at all, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

Furthermore, the monk is content with any old lodging at all. He speaks in praise of being content with any old lodging at all. He does not, for the sake of lodging, do anything unseemly or inappropriate. Not getting lodging, he is not agitated. Getting lodging, he uses it not tied to it, uninfatuated, guiltless, seeing the drawbacks (of attachment to it), and discerning the escape from them. He does not, on account of his contentment with any old lodging at all, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

Furthermore, the monk finds pleasure and delight in developing (skillful mental qualities), finds pleasure and delight in abandoning (unskillful mental qualities). He does not, on account of his pleasure and delight in developing and abandoning, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

These are the four traditions of the Noble Ones — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — which are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives and brahmans.

And furthermore, a monk endowed with these four traditions of the Noble Ones, if he lives in the east, conquers displeasure and is not conquered by displeasure. If he lives in the west... the north... the south, he conquers displeasure and is not conquered by displeasure. Why is that? Because the wise one endures both pleasure and displeasure.

This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, he said further:


Displeasure does not conquer the enlightened one.
Displeasure does not suppress him.
He conquers displeasure
because he endures it.

Having cast away all deeds:
who could obstruct him?
Like an ornament of finest gold:
Who is fit to find fault with him?
Even the Devas praise him,
even by Brahma is he praised.

For this discussion I might plagiarize and slightly alter, "He does not, on account of his contentment with any old airline seat at all, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones."
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:08 pm

arijitmitter wrote:Kindly ponder these words from an arrogant and foolish person.

Your words, not mine. Your stance on Business class seating is arrogant and foolish. Does that alone make you an arrogant and foolish person? Not if you can ponder the advice given by others and relinquish the attachment to your stance on this.

It is not unusual for those without enough knowledge to adopt an extreme position. Later, after studying more carefully, and meditating systematically, they often adjust their stance, seeing the danger in attachment to views.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:28 pm

arijitmitter wrote:
Obviously it will take less time to study Suttas for a good lawyer used to reading difficult law books than a nurse whose task is to measure blood pressure and note urine color



You really gotta bring nurses into this? Come on man.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:29 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
arijitmitter wrote:Kindly ponder these words from an arrogant and foolish person.

Your words, not mine. Your stance on Business class seating is arrogant and foolish. Does that alone make you an arrogant and foolish person? Not if you can ponder the advice given by others and relinquish the attachment to your stance on this.

It is not unusual for those without enough knowledge to adopt an extreme position. Later, after studying more carefully, and meditating systematically, they often adjust their stance, seeing the danger in attachment to views.


Ven. Pesala is right and that's all there is left to say here.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:05 pm

I've followed this thread and must thank the participants for many good contributions.

To me the main point Arjit is making is that Vinaya should be followed in spirit rather than letter. Bikkhu Pesala makes several points but the chief one for me is that "None of us know the monks referred to in the OP, nor how they got to be in business class seats, but in the absence of any facts, it is quite wrong to criticise them."

These are both good points with the first one being of course more controversial. It may be useful to have a proper discussion on Vinaya, its purpose and how its current form is serving this purpose but at the moment I don't have the time necessary to put together a proper post on this big subject.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:29 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
arijitmitter wrote:It is not unusual for those without enough knowledge to adopt an extreme position. Later, after studying more carefully, and meditating systematically, they often adjust their stance, seeing the danger in attachment to views.


Venerable Sir,

You are elder to me and have far greater erudition about what we are discussing.

I will like to extend my sincerest apology to you since I have been specifically taught not to argue with elders by my parents and my nation's culture (as you must know well, we are taught not to speak in a challenging voice to elders; please no one see this as a slight to other cultures or my observation of what they do and not do) especially when the elder is a person who is an expert in that subject matter.

I am not withdrawing from my position of Dana and business class but I am withdrawing my challenging statement made last evening and expressing deepest regret for same. I got carried away by my love of debate. I withdraw from the topic accepting that I may be wrong and judgmental about the issue. I also should not adopt a hard line and show inflexibility in my attitude.

I am sure that with your blessing and my effort one day I will be a good Buddhist. Till then I will refrain on commenting on matters which are so delicate.

Regards,
Arijit
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby cooran » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:43 pm

Dan74 wrote:I've followed this thread and must thank the participants for many good contributions.

To me the main point Arjit is making is that Vinaya should be followed in spirit rather than letter. Bikkhu Pesala makes several points but the chief one for me is that "None of us know the monks referred to in the OP, nor how they got to be in business class seats, but in the absence of any facts, it is quite wrong to criticise them."

These are both good points with the first one being of course more controversial. It may be useful to have a proper discussion on Vinaya, its purpose and how its current form is serving this purpose but at the moment I don't have the time necessary to put together a proper post on this big subject.

Hello Dan,

If you do get the time to start a new thread on the Vinaya could you please put it in the Ordination and Monastic Life sub-forum?

With metta,
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby alan » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:05 am

Arjit, you are a breath of fresh air. Don't be afraid to keep posting. I'll stand by you.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby dagon » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:56 am

Beyond the concerns discussed, we need to consider how the issues may affect the other passengers as well as any monks. I know that my Buddhist wife would be so very uncomfortable sitting next to a Monk in close confinement as experienced in the non-business class. Then there is the potential of other passengers seeing any kind of physical contact between a woman and a monk. Please see the text below to understand where I am coming from. Bolding of text is not in the original article.

If a bhikkhu touches a woman in a sexual way, he commits a very serious offence requiring formal meetings of the Community and probation (Sa"nghaadisesa). The scrupulous bhikkhu wants to remain above suspicion so, if he can, he will avoid all physical contact. (Hence his attitude to shaking hands. This also explains why in Thailand a receiving cloth is used to receive offerings from women. (See EN 85)

The rule was first set down by the Buddha after a brahman and his wife had gone to inspect Ven. Udaayin's fine dwelling. As Ven. Udaayin was showing them around, he came up behind the lady and "rubbed up against her limb by limb." After they had left, the husband praised Ven. Udaayin but the wife was critical and explained what had happened. The brahman then complained, "Isn't it even possible to take one's wife to a monastery without her being molested?" This rule was then set down:

"Should any bhikkhu, overcome by lust, with altered mind, engage in bodily contact with a woman, or in holding her hand, holding a lock of her hair, or caressing any of her limbs, it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community."(Sa"ngh. 2; BMC p.100)

To be at fault, the bhikkhu must usually do some action to bring contact with a woman while lust overcomes his mind.[45] If he accidentally stumbles and bumps into a woman or vice-versa, or if he is accosted by a woman, as long as there is no intention to come into lustful contact there is no offence. However, the average bhikkhu's mind tends to be so quick and unruly — he is, after all, still in training and therefore unenlightened — that he may prefer to be super-cautious about such situations.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... guide.html

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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Mr Man » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:03 am

Perhaps monks should try and keep their air travel to a minimum.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby pilgrim » Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:20 am

I came late to this discussion and have read the interesting exchanges here. I think it all comes down to people holding on to personal views. I have traveled to some very poor parts of Asia and understand that what is luxurious and what is not is all relative.

Arijit argues for monks to travel on economy and not business class as the latter is considered luxurious. On the same line of argument, one could argue that any form of air travel is an unnecessary luxury for monks who should travel by bus together with 99.999% of the human population. Or that monks should not sit on the cushy seats of the cars when chauffeured to Dhamma talks but on the floorboards of the car. Or they should not live in beautiful, ornate viharas but stay in mud huts.

If I choose to buy my favourite monk or my favourite mistress a business class ticket, why is it anybody's business?
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:54 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If donors offer excellent things, then we can rejoice in their generosity and faith in the Dhamma.


However, this approach can lead to massive amounts of wealth owned by the sangha.

Unfortunately, where there is wealth there is corruption, and where there is corruption evil people lurk.

If you want a sangha that is reasonably pure and solid, then a modest level of wealth and enforced mechanisms for using excess wealth for the benefit of the greater community are necessary.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:03 am

Kusala wrote:Ajahn Brahm and the few monks who strictly adhere to Vinaya is the reason why the Dhamma is timeless.


Not really. Ajahn Brahm is popular because he is a charismatic teacher with a large youtube following, not because he strictly adheres to the Vinaya.
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