Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.

Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Marmalade » Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:23 pm

Hello,

there are practising Christians and non-practising Christians.
I'd like to ask if there are practising Theravada Buddhists and non-practising Theravada Buddhists?
What generally, is considered to be important in defining a practising Theravada Buddhist? Regular meditation, and frequent reading of Theravada scriptures, perhaps?

Particularly, is the excercise of kindness towards others, and non-violence considered very important?

Thanks.
Hello, I am not actually a Buddhist, and I know only some very limited basics about Buddhism. I'd like to know a bit more and to ask a few questions, if that's OK. :)
Marmalade
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:28 pm

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby unspoken » Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:48 pm

Marmalade wrote:Particularly, is the excercise of kindness towards others, and non-violence considered very important?


Kindness towards other is important, that's why buddhism have a thing called metta which is like to wish people well and happy always. Be kind
Non-violence and self control is what buddhists train too. When there's no aversion, no dislike or "self". You won't intend to hurt someone else since you think you and others is a "whole".

Metta meditation is something good you can practice.

Generally if you are doing something that is cultivating concentration, normalcy/virtue, wisdom. You are pretty much practicing it. But to make it much better, we do meditate to change the inner self of us so that we able to conduct good act in a much better intention and accumulate something better
unspoken
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:41 pm

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby bodom » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:29 pm

]I'd like to ask if there are practising Theravada Buddhists and non-practising Theravada Buddhists?


Buddhism is not a system of beliefs. Buddhism is a path of practice. If one is not practicing the eightfold path one can not be rightly called a "Buddhist" let alone a "Theravadin Buddhist".

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4612
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:49 pm

bodom wrote:
]I'd like to ask if there are practising Theravada Buddhists and non-practising Theravada Buddhists?


Buddhism is not a system of beliefs. Buddhism is a path of practice. If one is not practicing the eightfold path one can not be rightly called a "Buddhist" let alone a "Theravadin Buddhist".

:anjali:


I wouldn't go that far bodom. I think you can call yourself a buddhist if you've taken refuge in the 3 jewels and if you follow the 5 precepts.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
User avatar
Modus.Ponens
 
Posts: 2003
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:38 am
Location: Funchal, Portugal

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby plwk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:12 pm

Some readings...
Lay Buddhist Practice
Suttas/Articles for lay people
Suttas for the Householder

'Engaged Buddhism'...walking the talk...some samples... 1 2 3
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
VSM VMM WBB TBHT WTBT My Page
plwk
 
Posts: 1154
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:14 am

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Marmalade » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:40 pm

bodom wrote: Buddhism is not a system of beliefs. Buddhism is a path of practice. If one is not practicing the eightfold path one can not be rightly called a "Buddhist" let alone a "Theravadin Buddhist".

:anjali:


That distinction betweeb beliefs and practice corresponds very closely to what I had in mind, thanks, Bodom.
Hello, I am not actually a Buddhist, and I know only some very limited basics about Buddhism. I'd like to know a bit more and to ask a few questions, if that's OK. :)
Marmalade
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:28 pm

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Marmalade » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:46 pm

Thanks, unspoken, I found that very clear and helpful.
Hello, I am not actually a Buddhist, and I know only some very limited basics about Buddhism. I'd like to know a bit more and to ask a few questions, if that's OK. :)
Marmalade
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:28 pm

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:35 pm

To me a practising Buddhist is somebody who is genuinely trying to follow the Buddhas path to awakening, genuinely trying to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha.

People who go to the temple, take refuges and precepts, make donations etc and maybe try to keep the precepts maybe not but that's all I think of as Buddhist supporters, as they are supporting the Buddhist practioners.

By that definintiion I'd estimate about 5% of Theravadin Buddhists are practising Buddhists.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1944
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Refugee » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:40 pm

I would like to think that all those who take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and undertake to keep the Five Training Rules (Precepts) are "practicing Buddhists", even if, for example, they do not practice formal meditation at all. They simply practice at different levels.
My practice is simply this: Avoid evil, do good, and purify the mind.
User avatar
Refugee
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:43 pm

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:45 pm

bodom wrote:
]I'd like to ask if there are practising Theravada Buddhists and non-practising Theravada Buddhists?


Buddhism is not a system of beliefs. Buddhism is a path of practice. If one is not practicing the eightfold path one can not be rightly called a "Buddhist" let alone a "Theravadin Buddhist".

:anjali:


Well said :bow:
There is no comfort without pain; thus
we define salvation through suffering.
-- Cato
User avatar
m0rl0ck
 
Posts: 1021
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby adosa » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:35 pm

Marmalade wrote:
Particularly, is the excercise of kindness towards others, and non-violence considered very important?

Thanks.


It's everything.


adosa
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
User avatar
adosa
 
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Marmalade » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:49 pm

Thanks for the further replies.
Hello, I am not actually a Buddhist, and I know only some very limited basics about Buddhism. I'd like to know a bit more and to ask a few questions, if that's OK. :)
Marmalade
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:28 pm

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby phil » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:11 pm

bodom wrote:
]I'd like to ask if there are practising Theravada Buddhists and non-practising Theravada Buddhists?


Buddhism is not a system of beliefs. Buddhism is a path of practice. If one is not practicing the eightfold path one can not be rightly called a "Buddhist" let alone a "Theravadin Buddhist".

:anjali:


At this point I would disagree with this because Right Concentration is defined as developing the jhanas, if I'm not mistaken, and the Buddha's teaching to householders that I've seen rarely if ever includes a call to develop jhanas, that call is always prefaced by "Bhikkhus..."

A householder's practice focussing on doing dana and keeping the precepts is still hugely valuable and we are still very much followers of the Buddha's teaching if we go that far....

Keeping the precepts is an awesome undertaking, and sets conditions for deeper developments.

I think the conventional wisdom that all followers of the Buddha practice meditation is either a modern phenomenon or a Western phenomenon, I'm not sure which. We should be grateful for it, even faulty meditation is better than no meditation in my opinion, but I'm not sure the Buddha urged householders to practice meditation except in a few suttas. Happy to be corrected... :smile:
Last edited by phil on Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
User avatar
phil
 
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby mlswe » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:13 pm

To be a buddhist you train your awareness within the framework of the noble eightfold path and the four noble truths

Anyone can call themselves buddhists
mlswe
 
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:08 am

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby bodom » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:29 pm

phil wrote:At this point I would disagree with this because Right Concentration is defined as developing the jhanas, if I'm not mistaken, and the Buddha's teaching to householders that I've seen rarely if ever includes a call to develop jhanas...


Please see Analayo's Satipatthana Sutta commentary for an in depth look at sutta's that define right concentration not using the four jhana model.

A householder's practice focussing on doing dana and keeping the precepts is still hugely valuable and we are still very much followers of the Buddha's teaching if we go that far....


And you believe dana (generosity) and right action (5 precepts) to be something apart from the eightfold path?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4612
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby phil » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:54 pm

bodom wrote:
phil wrote:At this point I would disagree with this because Right Concentration is defined as developing the jhanas, if I'm not mistaken, and the Buddha's teaching to householders that I've seen rarely if ever includes a call to develop jhanas...


Please see Analayo's Satipatthana Sutta commentary for an in depth look at sutta's that define right concentration not using the four jhana model.

A householder's practice focussing on doing dana and keeping the precepts is still hugely valuable and we are still very much followers of the Buddha's teaching if we go that far....


And you believe dana (generosity) and right action (5 precepts) to be something apart from the eightfold path?

:anjali:


I just don't know about right concentration, honestly I don't understand. But I have Analayo's book (commentary? that's what a blurb on the back cover calls it, but...) so I will have a look at it, thanks.

But would you (everyone) agree that the Buddha didn't urge all householders to practice meditation?
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
User avatar
phil
 
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby bodom » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:32 am

But would you (everyone) agree that the Buddha didn't urge all householders to practice meditation?


Here are a few instances, all given to householders:

"To be sure, you householders provide the monastic community with clothing, food, shelter, and medicine, but you should not be satisfied with that. May you also from time to time strive to enter and abide in the joy of (inner meditative) seclusion!" - — AN 5.176


"A white-clad householder who is restrained in his actions according to the five precepts and who can, easily and without difficulty, obtain at will the four lofty mental abidings which bring happiness in the present — such a householder may, if he so wishes, declare of himself: 'Destroyed for me is (rebirth in) hell, destroyed is animal rebirth, destroy the realm of ghosts; destroyed for me are the lower worlds, the unhappy destinies, the abysmal realms; I have entered the stream, no more subject to fall into the states of woe, affirmed, assured of final enlightenment.'

"In what five precepts are his actions restrained? A noble disciple abstains from killing, from taking what is not given, from wrong sensual behavior, from lying, and from intoxicants that cause indolence.

"And what are the four lofty mental abidings bringing happiness in the present, which he can obtain at will?

"A noble disciple has unshakable faith in the Buddha, unshakable faith in the Teaching, unshakable faith in the Order; and he is possessed of virtues beloved by the Nobles — virtues that are unbroken, unviolated, untarnished, without blemish, bringing freedom, praised by the wise, uninfluenced, conducive to concentration.

"These are the four lofty mental abidings bringing happiness in the present, which purify the impure mind and cleanse the unclean mind. These he obtains at will, easily and without difficulty."

— AN 5.179


"Excellent, Mahanama, excellent! It is fitting for clansmen like you to approach the Tathagata and ask, 'For those of us living by means of various dwelling places [for the mind], by means of which dwelling place should we live?'

"One who is aroused to practice is one of conviction, not without conviction. One aroused to practice is one with persistence aroused, not lazy. One aroused to practice is one of established mindfulness, not muddled mindfulness. One aroused to practice is centered in concentration, not uncentered. One aroused to practice is discerning, not undiscerning.

"Established in these five qualities, you should further develop six qualities:

[1] "There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of the Buddha.'

[2] "Furthermore, there is the case where you recollect the Dhamma: 'The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Dhamma, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Dhamma. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of the Dhamma.'

[3] "Furthermore, there is the case where you recollect the Sangha: 'The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types [of noble disciples] when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Sangha, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Sangha. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of the Sangha.'

[4] "Furthermore, there is the case where you recollect your own virtues: '[They are] untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, conducive to concentration.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting virtue, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on virtue. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of virtue.'

[5] "Furthermore, there is the case where you recollect your own generosity: 'It is a gain, a great gain for me, that — among people overcome with the stain of possessiveness — I live at home, my awareness cleansed of the stain of possessiveness, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution of alms.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting generosity, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on generosity. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of generosity.'

[6] "Furthermore, you should recollect the devas: 'There are the devas of the Four Great Kings, the devas of the Thirty-three, the devas of the Hours, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the conviction, virtue, learning, generosity, and discernment found both in himself and the devas, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the [qualities of the] devas. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of the devas.'" - AN 11.12


"And what does it mean to be consummate in discernment? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising and passing away — noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. This is called being consummate in discernment.

"These, TigerPaw, are the four qualities that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in lives to come." - AN 8.54


"Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — thus devoid of greed, devoid of ill will, undeluded, alert, & resolute — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with good will. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"He keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with compassion. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with compassion: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"He keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with appreciation. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with appreciation: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"He keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with equanimity. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with equanimity: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires four assurances in the here-&-now... - — AN 3.65


Also read about Citta the Householder who was skilled in all four jhanas:

Lives of the Disciples I
http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh115.pdf

And this interesting article by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

The Jhānas and the Lay Disciple According to the Pāli Suttas
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha267.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4612
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby Ben » Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:10 am

Hi Phil,
phil wrote: But would you (everyone) agree that the Buddha didn't urge all householders to practice meditation?

Recorded in the suttas is the ancient practice of addressing a message to the highest ranking person or group of persons at an assembly. So, I am not of the opinion that meditation was for ordained sangha only. As it being a western phenomenon, you might be interested to know that very many people in Myanmar practice meditation. There are also a whole lot of people engaged in non-meditative practices as well, such as merit making and nat worship, who are also deeply spiritual and rightly called 'Buddhist'.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16138
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby zavk » Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:24 am

Ben wrote:Hi Phil,
phil wrote: But would you (everyone) agree that the Buddha didn't urge all householders to practice meditation?

Recorded in the suttas is the ancient practice of addressing a message to the highest ranking person or group of persons at an assembly. So, I am not of the opinion that meditation was for ordained sangha only. As it being a western phenomenon, you might be interested to know that very many people in Myanmar practice meditation. There are also a whole lot of people engaged in non-meditative practices as well, such as merit making and nat worship, who are also deeply spiritual and rightly called 'Buddhist'.
kind regards

Ben


Hi Phil

As bodom has pointed out, there are indications in the suttas that teachings related to mental training are relevant to the household life too.

To my knowledge, you're right in saying that the laicisation of meditation is a modern phenomenon, a development of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. However, while western knowledge of Buddhism did prompt this development, it cannot be attributed solely to 'the West.' Western discourses on Buddhism of the nineteenth century reoriented the ways in which Buddhism was understood: the rationalistic and ethical aspects, for example, were emphasised, while the more traditional religious aspects were downplayed. In terms of Theravada, this prompted a revivalism of Buddhism in Asian lands like Ceylon, Burma, and Thailand, where we see a renewed interest in the Pali Canon and a shift from clerical authority to inner authority (Richard Gombrich and others have described this development in Ceylon as 'Protestant Buddhism'). This in turn allowed meditation to be repositioned as a central practice of Buddhism.

Such a development, however, should not be seen as a case of Asian Buddhists pandering to the expectations of 'the West'--it is not simply a case of western knowledge being forced upon them. Rather, Asian Buddhists adapted western knowledge on Buddhism to their local circumstances to help them reform Buddhism and also to help them negotiate the challenges of colonialism and modernity. So for instance, the reformation of Buddhism in Burma led to the laicisation of meditation. Figures like Ledi Sayadaw received support from social and national reform movements pushing for independence from colonial rule. Meditation centres were established and the practice was taught to civil servants and the general public. This was one of the early developments of what we now call the vipassana movement.

This is just a snapshot of some of the developments of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. There are other developments as well but I highlight this here because it is relevant to what you are asking. So in a way, it could be said that the overriding emphasis on meditation is a modern development, but it is not a western phenomenon as such--though the encounter between Buddhism and the West did prompt this development. This is not to say that meditation was not of importance to Buddhism before modern times or that it was not 'originally' meant for laypeople. It is simply that the practice wasn't such a 'hot topic' and wasn't readily available to laypeople until recent times. Being a development of a recent times does not make it a 'fabrication' either. It is simply the outcome of Buddhism attuning itself to changing historical conditions.

There is an interesting article in Ben's scribd collection called 'Buddhist modernism and the rhetoric of meditative experience'. It is addressing certain academic methodological issues but it does give a good snapshot of the developments I mentioned above. If you are interested you can read it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/30158484/Budd ... Experience

:anjali:
With metta,
zavk
User avatar
zavk
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Practising and non-practising Buddhists?

Postby cooran » Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:43 am

In the following thread there are suttas where the Buddha encouraged lay followers to continue and deepen their meditation:

Did the Buddha advocate meditation for lay people?
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=6572#p104438
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=6572#p104552

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7601
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Next

Return to Discovering Theravāda

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests