Are Theravadins Simpler ?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby dagon » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:01 pm

To the OP

Please read and reflect
"Monks, do not wage wordy warfare, saying: 'You don't understand this Dhamma and discipline, I understand this Dhamma and discipline'; 'How could you understand it? You have fallen into wrong practices: I have the right practice'; 'You have said afterwards what you should have said first, and you have said first what you should have said afterwards'; 'What I say is consistent, what you say isn't'; 'What you have thought out for so long is entirely reversed'; 'Your statement is refuted'; 'You are talking rubbish!'; 'You are in the wrong'; 'Get out of that if you can!'

"Why should you not do this? Such talk, monks, is not related to the goal, it is not fundamental to the holy life, does not conduce to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment or to Nibbana. When you have discussions, monks, you should discuss Suffering, the Arising of Suffering, its Cessation, and the Path that leads to its Cessation. Why is that? Because such talk is related to the goal... it conduces to disenchantment... to Nibbana. This is the task you must accomplish."


— SN 56.9

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... index.html

I should thank you for reminding me to read all of what is on that link - you may benefit as much as i did.

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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:27 pm

On the other hand, if donors offer what is not allowable, then monks should refuse it and explain the Vinaya rule if that is appropriate to the situation.

I have been called "stubborn" for refusing to accept money, to eat food that has not been offered at the right time, or to wear an overcoat in the winter. That kind of stubbornness is called the perfection of determination (adhiṭṭhāna pāramī).

If monks cannot keep the rules perfectly in every situation, that's their loss, and their kamma. Again, it is not something that lay people should concern themselves with too much. Lay Buddhists can choose whom they wish to support or study the Dhamma with.

If, without a thorough knowledge of the Dhamma/Vinaya, they criticise monks they will probably make unwholesome kamma. These days, there are not many Noble Ones about, so hopefully it won't be too heavy, but please do take care about it. The first post of this thread is little more than gossip about two monks that none of us know personally. They might be totally shameless or very scrupulous for all we know.

Should One Criticise Shameless and Immoral Monks?
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:34 pm

Greetings bhante,

:goodpost:

It seems people are often quick to criticise... judging situations with reference to their own pre-existing value systems, rather than attempting to understand why the Buddha established the protocols and disciplines he did.

The efforts of yourself and others to adhere to the Vinaya to the best of your abilities, elicits much mudita and respect amongst those who have respect for Dhamma-Vinaya and the Triple Gem.

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:37 am

Has anyone seen the argument being made instead of observing the letter of Vinay that it is not wrong to accept Dana.

The argument made by all who posted is - renunciation goes out of the window if Dana is offered. I have never heard more mystifying logic.

So if a monk is offered a pair of Italian moccasins which costs $ 1000 he can wear it since it was Dana ? What about silk socks ?

It has to be in proportion. If I see a monk with a $ 300 HP computer I will not bat an eyelid. If I hear he got a data plan for free I will not bat an eyelid either. If I see he has a $ 1400 Alienware laptop then well something is wrong. Dana alone cannot explain it.

People sin and to feel better after their sin they will offer more and more to the priests. It is up to the priest to know where to draw the line.

By the very insistence to argue this post on grounds of Vinay by those who have argued it, instead of arguing the strangeness of seeing a monk in business class I know that those who have argued do not know where exactly they stand and if a line has been crossed as I had said in OP.

BuddhaSoup wrote:I feel that without knowing these monks' intention, it's difficult to judge this situation. Again, in Thailand from my experience, it's not unusual for monks to be given deference in certain matters. Giving monks a seat in the front of the plane may have been simply to avoid having them in close quarters with women for a long flight. It may have just been a way for the airline staff to make some merit, such as giving monks good almsfood, instead of the dregs. If the monks otherwise refused food after midday, and acted properly within Vinaya rules under the circumstances of being stuck in an airplane for hours, then it's hard to judge them.

On the other hand, if these monks were buying expensive tickets with dana from their temple, eating meals after midday, enjoying the pampering in business class, then it might be said they could leave their robes on the plane, and disembark as lay people.

It all goes to intention and Vinaya observance, IMO. In 2013, it can be difficult for Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis to be in the world without being seen as being a nonrenunciate. Should Bhikkhus wear handmade, ill fitting shoes? Should they refuse good medical care at a private hospital if it is offered? When traveling to New York for a meeting or retreat, should they sleep in the streets, or can they accept hotel accommodations? If a hotel is offered, must it be the 1 star with bedbugs, or is the 3 star Hilton OK? Again, it all goes to intention.


It is simple. When given a choice A, B, C they should choose the one which is least expensive because they are renunciates. It is strange to hear of bedbugs. Do people who meditate not get bitten by mosquitoes ? Buddha meditated in jungles of Bihar province and I think he got bitten by about 50,000 of them every night (which is why except he no one meditated in sea level in India at that time. Hindu ascetics meditate above 4,000 feet where there are no mosquitoes)

Hickersonia wrote:I have to wonder, friend, if you would be so insistent on your position if you were in the position to confront these Bhikkhus face-to-face? Most of us wouldn't be, even if we were truly offended, I think.

I should much rather bow at their feet than possibly offend a noble one.


I am a faithful Theravadin, but I do not have blind obedience to the priest class or a bhikkhu. That was for the time when normal people could not read and write. I will address a bhikkhu as Bhante and do a folded hand Namaskar / Namaste. But I will not think he is a superior person to me, unless I get to know him and then find out that he is well educated and understands the nuances of the scriptures.

I probably will have asked them if they should be in business class (I am not one to beat about the bush).
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:51 am

Greetings,

arijitmitter wrote:It has to be in proportion.

No it doesn't... it needs to accord with what is permissable.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Sat Oct 26, 2013 1:57 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

arijitmitter wrote:It has to be in proportion.

No it doesn't... it needs to accord with what is permissable.

Metta,
Retro. :)


With respect, I think that is grossly incorrect and exposes willingness to exploit loopholes in the Vinay.

I retire from this topic having made my point with abundant clarity.

:anjali: Arijit
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby alan » Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:27 am

What an odd concept. It's OK to accept needless gifts and live in luxury, so long as you also follow ridiculous rules?

There is a big problem here. Monks can easily get out of touch with reality. I suggest we throw away the old rulebook, and come up with a new way of understanding how to live and teach. No wonder Buddhism isn't thriving-we're stuck in old ways of thinking, particularly about monks.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:39 am

alan wrote:What an odd concept. It's OK to accept needless gifts and live in luxury, so long as you also follow ridiculous rules?


Exactly what I was trying to put across. It sounds paradoxical that a monk can accept an expensive Dana. Even Queen Elizabeth cannot. Any gifts to her above £ 150 belongs to the people of Britain and are taken away and stored elsewhere. It seems monks have simpler rules to live by than a monarch.

And a business class seat from Bangkok - Gaya costs way above £ 150 added to price of an economy class ticket.

(had to break my retirement from this topic but situation demanded it)
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby alan » Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:55 am

I understand the need for rules back in the day when the Buddha and his followers were roaming India. But those days are long gone. The teachings are still pure, but do we really need to obsess about trivial matters in the Vinaya? I say no. It discourages useful people from joining, and encourages the worst sorts--those who need rules and structure to give meaning to their lives.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Benjamin » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:37 am

Sounds like the start of a new thread, I must say.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:14 am

arijitmitter wrote:When given a choice A, B, C they should choose the one which is least expensive because they are renunciates.


You don’t seem to understand how things work out here. Let me explain...

1. If you buy a plane ticket for a Buddhist monk from an official Thai International Airways broker, you will be given a 40% discount, but the ticket has to be for business class. If the TIA sales-staff know the ticket is for a monk they won’t sell you anything else.

2. If you buy the same from a bucket shop or some other unofficial broker, you’ll get no discount but you can have any kind of ticket you want.

3. Thai laypeople buying tickets for monks will commonly calculate whether it’s cheaper for them to buy a discounted ticket in business class or an undiscounted one in economy class. But which of the two they end up buying makes no difference to the monk because...

4. When a monk enters the plane, even if he has an economy-class ticket the TIA cabin crew will still direct him to a seat in the business class. Whenever this has happened to me I didn’t get the impression I was being given any choice. I mean they never asked me if I actually wanted to be upgraded; I just found myself upgraded willy-nilly.

5. In recent years some of the airlines from non-Buddhist countries that fly to Thailand have begun to emulate TIA’s practice of upgrading monks with economy-class tickets to business class (presumably to boost their image with Thai Buddhist passengers).
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby arijitmitter » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:31 am

Venerable Dhammanando,

Thank you for explaining this point (instead of quoting Vinay like others). Your technical explanation is much appreciated. But this was an Indian carrier and not TIA (your point # 5 does cover it). Perhaps that is why the senior monks only were allowed business class seats and juniors back in economy.

Can you give us your view of the other point. If I am your disciple and I decide to gift you a Louis Vuitton suitcase, will you accept it. At what level of expenditure will you stop accepting gifts of a personal nature (if I gift you a million dollars to open and run a meditation center where you are spiritual director, that is perfectly fine by me).

A good sturdy pair of shoes, yes you will accept. But what about Ferragamo designer shoes ? If you were my guest, will you like that I put a nice middle class Jeep Cherokee at your disposal or a Mercedes or a Bentley Arnage. If you see a Jeep Cherokee, Mercedes, Bentley Arnage in my garage and I tell you my chauffeur will drive you around during your stay in the Bentley will you say no the Jeep or the Ford Fiesta will do just fine or will you say no let us go for the Bentley.

I understand it is difficult to answer since it might bring you in direct conflict with what others have said regarding this issue (that Dana can be expensive and that does not matter)

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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Kusala » Sat Oct 26, 2013 5:47 am

alan wrote:What an odd concept. It's OK to accept needless gifts and live in luxury, so long as you also follow ridiculous rules?

There is a big problem here. Monks can easily get out of touch with reality. I suggest we throw away the old rulebook, and come up with a new way of understanding how to live and teach. No wonder Buddhism isn't thriving-we're stuck in old ways of thinking, particularly about monks.


Buddhism In The News -------> http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2008/10/b ... -news.html The article is old, but still worth reading. What I find inspiring is the fact that non-Buddhists are taking notes and even praising the "austere life" of Buddhist monks. Ajahn Brahm and the few monks who strictly adhere to Vinaya is the reason why the Dhamma is timeless.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby reflection » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:23 am

Achaan Chah says he does not dream any more. He sleeps only a few hours a night, upstairs in a small one-room cottage. Underneath this cottage, which is on wooden pillars in Thai fashion, is an open floor where he receives visitors.

Often these visitors bring him gifts, not just food or robes but also exquisite ancient statues and carefully made folk art depicting Buddhist themes. One Western monk, a collector and appreciator of Asian art, was excited by the possibility of seeing such lovely objects when he was assigned to help with the daily cleaning of Achaan Chah's cottage. He went upstairs, unlocked the door, and found only a bare bed and a mosquito net. He discovered that Achaan Chah gives these gifts away as fast as he gets them. He does not cling to anything.
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Ajahn ... t_Pool.htm



The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts (dhammapada)


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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Mr Man » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:49 am

I can understand why the OP found it incongruous. With this particular instance there may be a reasonable explanation, Ven Dhammanando's for example, but no harm in questioning. In my opinion there is certainly some room for realignment within Theravada monasticism.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:56 am

alan wrote:What an odd concept. It's OK to accept needless gifts and live in luxury, so long as you also follow ridiculous rules?

There is a big problem here. Monks can easily get out of touch with reality. I suggest we throw away the old rulebook, and come up with a new way of understanding how to live and teach. No wonder Buddhism isn't thriving-we're stuck in old ways of thinking, particularly about monks.


Realy? Do you realise that a monastic movement in that direction would inevitably cause a schism?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Sylvester » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:09 am

From MN 77, the Buddha describes some of the luxurious gifts He used -

Suppose, Udāyin, my disciples honoured, respected, revered, and venerated me, and lived in dependence on me, honouring and respecting me, with the thought: ‘The recluse Gotama is content with any kind of robe and commends contentment with any kind of robe.’ Now there are disciples of mine who are refuse-rag wearers, wearers of coarse robes; they collect rags from the charnel ground, rubbish heaps, or shops, make them into patched robes, and wear them. But I sometimes wear robes given by householders, robes so fine that pumpkin hair is coarse in comparison. So if my disciples honoured me…with the thought: ‘The recluse Gotama is content with any kind of robe and commends contentment with any kind of robe,’ then those disciples of mine who are refuse-rag wearers, wearers of coarse robes…should not honour, respect, revere, and venerate me for this quality, nor should they live in dependence on me, honouring and respecting me.

“Suppose, Udāyin, my disciples honoured, respected, revered, and venerated me, and lived in dependence on me, honouring and respecting me, with the thought: ‘The recluse Gotama is content with any kind of almsfood and commends contentment with any kind of almsfood.’ Now there are disciples of mine who are almsfood eaters, who go on unbroken almsround from house to house, who delight in gathering their food; when they have entered among the houses they will not consent even when invited to sit down. But I sometimes eat on invitation meals of choice rice and many sauces and curries. So if my disciples honoured me…with the thought: ‘The recluse Gotama is content with any kind of almsfood and commends contentment with any kind of almsfood,’ then those disciples of mine who are almsfood eaters…should not honour, respect, revere, and venerate me for this quality, nor should they live in dependence on me, honouring and respecting me.

“Suppose, Udāyin, my disciples honoured, respected, revered, and venerated me, and lived in dependence on me, honouring and respecting me, with the thought: ‘The recluse Gotama is content with any kind of resting place and commends contentment with any kind of resting place.’ Now there are disciples of mine who are tree-root dwellers and open-air dwellers, who do not use a roof for eight months of the year, while I sometimes live in gabled mansions plastered within and without, protected against the wind, secured by door bolts, with shuttered windows. So if my disciples honoured me…with the thought: ‘The recluse Gotama is content with any kind of resting place and commends contentment with any kind of resting place,’ then those disciples of mine who are tree-root dwellers and open-air dwellers…should not honour, respect, revere, and venerate me for this quality, nor should they live in dependence on me, honouring and respecting me.



The sutta does not give an indication whether these gifts were on par with Prada or Gucci, but I get the sense that they were certainly luxurious...

I recently donated some cloth to a monastery. As I was scouring town with the fabric swatch from the monastery, I learned that the cotton used was truly "low-end", used for internal pant pockets. How were the nuns to keep out the cold?!

And it dawned on me that monastics do have a choice in these gifts. Some like Ven Mahakassapa in SN 16.5 elected coarse materials to inspire others, while the Buddha in MN 77 did not refuse extravagant gifts.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby robertk » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:44 am

perhaps you would have been horified if you had been present when the Buddha and 500 monks recived the great ofering by queen malika and King
gifst beyong compaqre.PNG
gifst beyong compaqre.PNG (105.69 KiB) Viewed 103 times
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Mr Man » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:37 am

robertk wrote:perhaps you would have been horified if you had been present when the Buddha and 500 monks recived the great ofering by queen malika and King
gifst beyong compaqre.PNG
pasenad


robertk, Do you not think the context is rather different?

The OP's sister commented on seeing monks in business class.

If we look at the "The Ten Reasons For Setting Down The Rules Of A Mendicant" http://cittasanto.weebly.com/2/post/2012/07/the-ten-reasons-for-setting-down-the-rules-of-a-mendicant-vinmv1511-vin11511.html (thank you Cittasanto).

1 – To protect the excellent (reputation) of well behaved) members;
2 – To protect the comfort (due to respect) of (well behaved) members;
3 – To silence those who are obstinate;
4 – For diligent meditators to have ease (in obtaining requisites);
5 – For meditators to restrain their effluents in the here & now;
6 – For restraining effluents (that condition) future births;
7 – For faith to arise in those who lack faith;
8 – For the conditions to increase the faith of those already with faith;
9 – For the true way (to be visible) for along time;
10 – For assisting the discipline of those in Training.

Now if we think about these reasons rather than the rules. Notably 7 + 1, 5, 6 & 8, in my opinion.
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Re: Are Theravadins Simpler ?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:53 am

Mr Man wrote:If we look at the "The Ten Reasons For Setting Down The Rules Of A Mendicant" http://cittasanto.weebly.com/2/post/2012/07/the-ten-reasons-for-setting-down-the-rules-of-a-mendicant-vinmv1511-vin11511.html (thank you Cittasanto).

That is a very free translation. This is mine:
  1. For the excellence of the Saṅgha (Saṅghasuṭṭhutāya).
  2. For the well-being of the Saṅgha (Saṅghaphāsutāya).
  3. To control wicked individuals (Dummaṅkūnaṃ puggalānaṃ niggahāya).
  4. For the comfort of well-behaved bhikkhus (Pesalānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ phāsuvihārāya).
  5. To restrain present taints (Diṭṭhadhammikānaṃ āsavānaṃ saṃvarāya).
  6. To prevent the arising of future taints (Samparāyikānaṃ āsavānaṃ paṭighātāya).
  7. To arouse faith in those who lack faith(Appasannānaṃ pasādāya).
  8. To strengthen faith in those who have faith(Pasannānaṃ bhiyyobhāvāya).
  9. To establish the true Dhamma (Saddhammaṭṭhitiyā).
  10. To support the Vinaya (Vinayānuggahāya).” (A v 70)
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