difficult situation

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difficult situation

Postby dhammafriend » Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:45 pm

Hi everybody

I am new to dhamma wheel, hoping to learn a lot form everyone's experiences and advice.

I have a bit of a problem that's been coming on a while now, let me explain the situation.
I live in Southern Africa with very few Buddhist groups and temples, in my province there are a hand full of centers, mostly mahayana
and only 2 theravada centers, the one being virtually around the corner from where i live and the other quite far off.

I have been attending the the one closer to me for about 2 years now, but here is the catch, it is a dhammakaya temple (it caters the the local thai community as well as locals interested in meditation. I have built a good relationship with some thai devotees there as well as the abbot who is exceptionally warm and kind (though his english could be better)
I am well aware of all the stories and accusations leveled at wat dhammakaya and it's founder in thailand, despite this, I have been so starved of dhamma friends to learn and share with that I have spent a lot of time at the temple, participating in ceremonies, going on retreats and learning the meditation technique.
I have even temporarily ordained as a novice monk last year.
I have been happy for the support and encouragement from the thai community and have been approached to go to wat dhammakaya and ordain there.
I have politely refused the offer because although the dhammakaya has done a lot of positive things in thailand and abroad, the organizational structures put me off though, the abbot Ven. Dhammajayo seems to be revered too much for my liking (and yes they do believe he has super natural abilities)

the dhamma teachings given to the buddhist devotees is quite traditional nothing too out there except of course for literal understanding of the term dhamma-kaya
(it is believed to be " the body of enlightenment" residing in all human beings)

I am quite happy to join in the activities at the temple, making sure i keep learning from the tipitaka and not getting suckered into accepting what others tell me is dhamma when it contradicts what the lord Buddha teaches. I even have a friend who has left their job here and gone to work at dhammaya temple as a volunteer.
Should i just continue going there as a social support for my dhamma practice ? or do i distance myself from the group (i witnessed some pretty weird treatment of the friend who left for dhammakaya temple last year, not sure what to make of it - she seemed to have been made into some kind of mascot for the dhammakaya)

This is so frustrating as I enjoy the social and supportive aspects, but don't want to get involved in any of the weird stuff! what do I do? and y bhikkhus / bhikkunis? please help

with metta
Dhammafriend
Metta
Dhammafriend

Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:20 pm

Dear Dhammafriend, -

A rule of thumb: Do not get involve with weird things in any community.

Your common sense is wonderful and you already know the answer yourself.
Look for another sangha in which you feel very comfortable with; because without a few good friends (kalyanamitta) in the monk community, it's impossible to practice fruitfully.
Your question is easy to answer but it is hard for me not to feel bad afterward.

Be happy.

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Re: difficult situation

Postby Hoo » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:46 pm

...without a few good friends (kalyanamitta) in the monk community, it's impossible to practice fruitfully.


On the other hand, there are any number who don't have access to a sangha and manage to practice fruitfully. It would certainly be easier with guidance and assistance, but that's not a requirement, as I understand it.

Hoo, about 100 miles from any Monk of any tradition :)
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:27 am

Hoo wrote:
...without a few good friends (kalyanamitta) in the monk community, it's impossible to practice fruitfully.


On the other hand, there are any number who don't have access to a sangha and manage to practice fruitfully. It would certainly be easier with guidance and assistance, but that's not a requirement, as I understand it.

Hoo, about 100 miles from any Monk of any tradition :)


Thanks, Hoo, for telling me from experience. You may be right, but there is a sutta that talks about the importance of kalyanamitta. Read this :

As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: difficult situation

Postby Vepacitta » Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:58 am

If things feel odd to you - go with your gut. Always. And bravely ... run away!

And I was going to paraphrase the sutta dhamma spoon mentioned below - since I can't site verse and chaptre like most folks here - but I do remember what I read. The Tathagata also says in that sutta (remember, I'm paraphrasing here) that it's better to be alone - than to be with unwholesome people.

Just my two cents.

V.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:23 am

no temple or group is prefect. if you have a place with good dhamma friends who you can trust, and a place where you can practice then i stay stick with it.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:17 pm

Vepacitta wrote:If things feel odd to you - go with your gut. Always. And bravely ... run away!

And I was going to paraphrase the sutta dhamma spoon mentioned below - since I can't site verse and chaptre like most folks here - but I do remember what I read. The Tathagata also says in that sutta (remember, I'm paraphrasing here) that it's better to be alone - than to be with unwholesome people.

Just my two cents.

V.


Dear V, -

That paraphase is worth at least a thousand times more than two cents!
Being with and communicating with wholesome people helps set our practice (to be noble) straight. We won't be headed lower.

:stirthepot:
Last edited by dhamma_spoon on Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:37 pm

Personally I find unwholesome people are OK. many of them are better and more wise company than wholesome people.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:41 pm

PeterB wrote:Personally I find unwholesome people are OK. many of them are better and more wise company than wholesome people.


Dear PeterB, -

What do you find "OK" about unwholesomeness, may I ask?

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Re: difficult situation

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:44 pm

I dont find anything OK about unwholesomeness. I said unwholesome people. I find that they are less likely to divide people into wholesome and unwholesome. Its wholesome people that I avoid. They tend to think that they are superior.
One of the wisest and most compassionate people I have ever met was a gangster who I was treating for Alcoholism.
He made me feel humble with his effortless kindness.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:11 pm

PeterB wrote:I dont find anything OK about unwholesomeness. I said unwholesome people. I find that they are less likely to divide people into wholesome and unwholesome. Its wholesome people that I avoid. They tend to think that they are superior.
One of the wisest and most compassionate people I have ever met was a gangster who I was treating for Alcoholism.
He made me feel humble with his effortless kindness.


Tsk! Tsk! PeterB, you may be confusing dhamma with being.
Wholesome and unwholesome refer to kusala dhamma and akusala dhamma. Being is a person, a monk, a gangster. The two are different.
You apprciate wholesomeness such as understanding(panna) and compassion(karuna) even when you find such qualities in a gangster.
I do not appreciate gangsters!
You do not appreciate stubbornness or haughtiness or anger whenever you find them -- even in a monk.
That's clear as black and white I think.

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Re: difficult situation

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:36 pm

A monk or a gangster does not have kusala or akusala dhamma. Conditions arise. Those conditions can be describe as kusala or akusala...those conditions are not a person characterised by kusala and akusala.
My job, my responsibility, as I see it is me. Not them.
A monks positive qualities or otherwise are not for me to appreciate or dwell in aversion to.
My responsibility begins and ends with MY anger, MY aversion, MY negative responses.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:18 pm

PeterB wrote:A monk or a gangster does not have kusala or akusala dhamma. Conditions arise. Those conditions can be describe as kusala or akusala...those conditions are not a person characterised by kusala and akusala.
My job, my responsibility, as I see it is me. Not them.
A monks positive qualities or otherwise are not for me to appreciate or dwell in aversion to.
My responsibility begins and ends with MY anger, MY aversion, MY negative responses.


Every Buddhist knows, PeterB, that all formations are conditioned phenomana and all dhammas (conditioned as well as the unconditioned) are 'anatta'.
Some people who study the Abhidhamma are very fond of taking a refuge in the 'anatta' principle that they interpret to mean 'no self', 'no person', 'no being'. That clinging to 'no self' sometimes effectively confuses the discussion so much that they can get away using it as a "smoke screen".

But I am not sure what your position is.

Saying "Those conditions can be described as kusala or akusala...those conditions are not a person characterised by kusala and akusala." sounds to me as if you are confusing the issue by emitting the smoke screen. But by saying " My job, my responsibility, as I see it is me.", sounds like you you are defending your 'self' in the dhammas that you say are "not a person" !

Please try to see kusala and akusala being separate from a gangster or a monk or a being in general. Then you may understand why I said earlier :
"You apprciate wholesomeness such as understanding(panna) and compassion(karuna) even when you find such qualities in a gangster.
I do not appreciate gangsters!
You do not appreciate stubbornness or haughtiness or anger whenever you find them -- even in a monk."

Tep
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Re: difficult situation

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:22 pm

Spare me the condescending tone sunshine. You look to your kusalas and akusalas and Ill look to mine.
How about that.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby SDC » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:25 pm

PeterB wrote: I said unwholesome people. I find that they are less likely to divide people into wholesome and unwholesome. Its wholesome people that I avoid. They tend to think that they are superior.


Then I don't think these are people should be labeled as wholesome. Maybe they try to project that image, but from the actions you describe they have many unwholesome qualities. What makes them "wholesome"?

PeterB wrote:One of the wisest and most compassionate people I have ever met was a gangster who I was treating for Alcoholism.
He made me feel humble with his effortless kindness.


Despite his unwholesome lifestyle he had some very wholesome qualities. Why is he "unwholesome?"

I don't think people can be labeled unwholesome and wholesome. Different conditions bring about a variety of qualities as you already pointed out.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby PeterB » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:29 pm

That was rather the point I was attempting to make SDC. That to label people as wholesome or unwholesome is deeply...unskillful.
I think one problem here is cultural. Dhamma Spoons cultural norms may differ from most westerners. I think another is linguistic.
Last edited by PeterB on Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:30 pm

PeterB wrote:Spare me the condescending tone sunshine. You look to your kusalas and akusalas and Ill look to mine.
How about that.


Okay, PeterB, I can live with that suggestion. No hard feeling. :hug:

But please believe me that I did not have a condescending attitude towards you. To educate? Yes. To look down upon? No.

Maybe we'll try to discuss something together next time. Okay with you? :thanks:

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Re: difficult situation

Postby SDC » Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:34 pm

PeterB wrote:That was rather the point I was attempting to make SDC. That to label people as wholesome or unwholesome is deeply...unskillful.
I think one problem here is cultural. Dhamma Spoons cultural norms may differ from most westerners. I think another is linguistic.


True. But all in all its good to be patient and careful with the people meet. Some have the tendency to display unwholesome qualities early on when you first encounter them only to show some deep wholesome qualities down the line, and vise versa.
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Re: difficult situation

Postby dhamma_spoon » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:25 pm

SDC wrote:
PeterB wrote:That was rather the point I was attempting to make SDC. That to label people as wholesome or unwholesome is deeply...unskillful.
I think one problem here is cultural. Dhamma Spoons cultural norms may differ from most westerners. I think another is linguistic.


True. But all in all its good to be patient and careful with the people meet. Some have the tendency to display unwholesome qualities early on when you first encounter them only to show some deep wholesome qualities down the line, and vise versa.


Hi, SDC and PeterB and Anna-

Why is the "same person" quite acceptable one time, but unacceptable later on? Indeed what's changing through time is just a quality, e.g. a mind state -- a conditioned dhamma. Wholesome and unwholesome qualities are seen as behaviors of a "person", who is labeled (with ignorance) as a Westerner or an Easterner. There is nothing unskillful in labeling, however, if there is no clinging (due to aversion or craving). That kind of argument PeterB has is a result of seeing a 'self' in conditioned dhammas (five aggregates that he labelled as Dhamma_spoon).
In fact all conditioned dhammas (phenomena, realities, formations) are subject to change. Whatever is changeable is impermanent and thus suffering. What is suffering is not-self -- it is not an object of clinging with hatred, for example. Actually, letting go of all formations is what the Buddha taught [This is not mine. This is not what I am. This is not my self.] Thinking, contemplating, reflecting like this is very effective in abandoning anger and delusion that I have seen so often here, especially in PeterB's discussion with Anna and others.

Sincerely,

Dhamma_spoon. :stirthepot:
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Re: difficult situation

Postby SDC » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:28 pm

dhamma_spoon wrote:Why is the "same person" quite acceptable one time, but unacceptable later on?


Quick answer -

Because there is no self in the body of that person to accept or not accept. I'll be back in about an hour to elaborate or comment on your retort.
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