James the Giant wrote:
Which tradition was inflexible or hypocritical? Just so I don't accidentally recommend them, hehe!
LoL! I prefer not to mention. I only identify a person or institution when I say good things about them. I don't want to destroy their reputation, because they have good qualities, too. =-)
I've visited some excellent Thai Forest Tradition monasteries that are focussed on the basics, and which put very little importance on rites and rituals and ceremonies. For example, they had no morning or evening chants, just a short ceremony at food time, informal relations between monks, novices, and the Ajahn. But, I've also visited stiff, inflexible thai forest tradition monasteries, wheRe vinaya and ritual seem to be the only thing they are interested in.
I recommend just travelling widely and visiting lots of places. I guess the tone of a place is set by the ajahn... His attitude towards what's essential and important ... Good luck finding someone good.
TFT has contributed with excellent teachings, masters and monasteries. No doubt about that. However, TFT emphasizes Vinaya too much IMHO to the point I think it is a waste of time and way far from the original spirit of 2500 years ago, when the Vinaya still wasn't a concern to most of the monks. Yes, there are monasteries in the TFT that are focused on the basics and has a very simple and effective schedule, without morning and evening chants, etc. Nevertheless, Vinaya is still there in the same way. That's not my style. I refuse to follow many unnecessary rules and inconsistent and strange things found in the Vinaya. Vinaya will never dictate the way I live my life, but may be an excelent source of inspiration on how to live properly. Vinaya is only a guide to be studied, but cannot be inflexible or the central part of the monastic practice IMHO. I don't want to discuss Vinaya here, but there is a Zen little story that summarizes the way I see Vinaya.
Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. "Come on, girl" said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"
"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"
Right/pure intention and compassion count more than rules. It is up to each monk to know when and how to make Vinaya flexible and not up to an institution to take this decision. The practice is individual, always. Nobody can be controlled. That's wisdom.
You might have more luck in the west, rather than asia?
Yes, that's a good alternative that I do not dispense. Would you or any other person here recommend a good place? It can be in Europe, America, Oceania, whatever.
Hmm, any specifics...? Sayadaw U Teijania has a monastery meditation centre in Yangon, where everyone is pretty chilled and the emphasis is moreon meditation than anything else. He also ordains people.
Sounds good! I will research more about this place. Thanks a lot!
Further suggestions are welcome, mates!