Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

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pilgrim
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Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby pilgrim » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:06 am

This is probably not the best forum to ask this question as we have all bought into and accepted the Theravada form.

But in my community, we are getting very concerned that we are unable to attract and hold onto people, especially the youth, The young people we speak to find Theravada to be alien and old. There are many issues that can be highlighted. The Vinaya makes monks aloof. The few times there is interaction with monks is during dana and Dhamma talks both of which are conducted with a certain tense formality. The preference for quiet, the chanting, the hours of meditation makes the religion to be "uncool". There are few activities that engage the youth. I think this is generally true in Asia.

Is the perception in the west different? I understand from the vipassana teacher and author, Sumi Loundon that it is not so different and their community is aging too. Same with the FWBO Triratna community.

It appears to be a little better with Tibetan/Mahayana communities as the lamas are more liberal. My Theravada friend's son who emigrated to Australia could not relate to any Theravada temples there but upon a visit to a Mahayana temple was invited out to a cafe for drinks with the nuns.

Can Theravada make itself attractive to the young without sacrificing too much of its principles?

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Hanzze
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:22 am

Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Dan74
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:45 am

Hi pilgrim,

as a sort of an "outsider" I don't think it is an issue with Theravada.

Here in Australia, we've had very popular Theravada teachers and sangha, like Ajahns Brahm and Sujato. In fact pretty much no Theravada teacher that I've heard was stodgy or conservative (except the very first one, probably). Visiting Thai Forest teachers like Ajahns Sumedho and Thanasanti I found dynamic, inspirational, clear and insightful. I suppose these are stand outs but in a traditional community where monks are a dime a dozen, few are outstanding and the rest are probably regurgitating what they have heard.

The issue as I see it is not in Theravada, it is in keeping the Dhamma alive, rather than reciting the dead word.

The notion that Mahayana is less conservative and more permissive is also a generalisation. And even when this is so, that doesn't really make it cool. Nor making it cool is something that should be a priority. Accessible, yes. Relevant, yes. Compassionate and understanding of the current conditions, yes. But the Dhamma has got to stay the Dhamma. How a teacher does this, is a challenge for each teacher.
_/|\_

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gavesako
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby gavesako » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:32 am

This is a good question to ask. I think the "form" can either be used in a stiff and lifeless fashion, or it can be quite a beautiful framework within which people can develop mindfulness of their actions and interact on the basis of blameless behaviour. Many of the Western monastic teachers have found ways to make the Theravada form more enjoyable by adding their personal touch and humour to it (although some would find Ajahn Brahm's jokes going a little bit too far or even outrageous and un-monk-like). Also it is good to move away from the formal situations and do something together with the young people, such as activities in natural surroundings, and to speak on current topics that are relevant to their lives.

Here are a few examples:


Dhamma Talk by Ven. Dhammasami "the beauty of ordinary things"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbYkHl4Yucg

Ajahn Khammai Dhammasami (Oxford Buddha Vihara) talks about excitement and happiness, and how university students these days look for stimulation in alcohol and drugs, about boredom and never being satisfied.

tuṭṭhī sukhā yā itarītarena
it is good to be content with anything that is available
Dhammapada 331


Dhamma Talk "Corruption vs. Compassion, the karma of doing business" (Part 1)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpZZ3Vm3qOs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy7gk8QUEj0

Ajahn Khammai Dhammasami (Oxford Buddha Vihara) at Sasin, Bangkok, Feb 28, 2012



Is It Sinful to Be Rich, by Ven. Dr. Khammai Dhammasami

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZInm_kdzJs

The difference between the Abrahamic religions' idea of "sin" and the Buddhist understanding of "wholesome & unwholesome" (kusala - akusala).
Can we have the best of both worlds? How to develop detachment. Buddhist economic ethics. Greed and guilt. Kamma and result.

------

Dhutanga (tudong): it is not for showing off externally but for reducing defilements in the mind, one can go wherever it is suitable (sappaya) for practice such as forest, roots of trees, mountains. Physical seclusion (kaya-viveka) leads to mental seclusion (citta-viveka). It is best to walk in pure nature without any artificial human creations, there is nothing to fear there. There is no need to rush anywhere, one should walk slowly with mindfulness. (LP Amnat Obhaso teaching laypeople in Thailand)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7sQV0r5IT8


Beautiful scenes of tudong monks in Thailand -- collection of photos by Ajahn Cagino. http://youtu.be/QEVIJAZ3jxo

Forest Photos
Last week Ajahn Cagino paid me a visit. Ajahn is a monk in Ajahan Chah’s tradition and has spent several years wandering through the jungle of Thailand. Prior to joining the Sangha he was an award-winning photographer. He ‘wandered’ into the ‘concrete jungle’ of Singapore for an exhibition of his photos. Parallel exhibition were held in several venues in Malaysia too. Proceeds from the exhibitions will go to an orphanage for hill tribes children that Ajahan supports in Thailand. For further information about this worthy project you can contact [email protected]

http://sdhammika.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04 ... hotos.html
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Dan74
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:36 pm

_/|\_

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Hanzze
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:47 pm

Of course, I just wonder what one would answer if a child asks him, if it is usual to go Dhutanga with a camera equiment...
Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Anagarika
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Anagarika » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:00 pm

In the US, my perception is that the Theravada Wats here really cater to the the local Thai and Lao communities, and there's little outreach to the non-Asian community. I also agree with the idea proposed earlier that certain aspects of vinaya rules for Bhikkhus make the monks seem unapproachable, to some. I feel that Ajahn Brahm has gone a long way toward bridging the gap between being a scholar monk and traditional vinaya observing Bhikkhu, and being a welcoming bridge into Theravada for his local and international community. If some of his jokes seem a bit "out there," I feel this is intentional, as I appreciate that he's deeply scholarly and very bright, and does what he does with full intention to create a bond between himself and Dhamma, and his audience. If Theravada had 50 Ajahn Brahms around the world, it would be a far more mainstream tradition.

I have trained for a time in Thailand at a Wat, but here in the US I have been practicing with a traditional Soto Zen sangha. I tried the local Wat, but it just wasn't a good fit for me for a number of reasons. My local sangha emphasizes meditation, without demanding a strict 'one size fits all' form of meditation. The sangha is also very engaged in the community, and in some social/political issues, which I feel is important. The abbot is also traditional, well trained, and a Dharma scholar. Zen in the US has been more open, more inviting, better organized, and probably far more engaged than has Theravada. Zen in the US has, due to its vinaya-less approach generally, been more subject to scandals, problems, and quality control issues.

So, I'm kind of, to paraphrase Anthony Bourdain, a Dharma slut....I try to take the best of Thai Theravada and integrate it into Soto Zen. It's a good fit for me.

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Hanzze
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:26 pm

The biggest problem I faced when talking with youth have been questions like why Monks do not act as Buddha has taught and why the religious and daily praxis is often totaly controverse to what they understand. Actually the more they know and understand the more aversion they develope against all religious practice under this label. To bring them over the peak where tolerance and understanding is also able to live with such things is not easy and mostly impossible.
Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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DAWN
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby DAWN » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:11 pm

i'am sory, i have alrady post it today, but it's seems to me apropriate topic too.
SN 16.8
Advice III

I heard thus. At one time the Blessed One lived in the squirrels' sanctuary in the bamboo grove in Rajagaha.

Venerable Mahakassapa approached the Blessed One worshipped and sat on a side.

The Blessed One said thus to venerable Mahakassapa who was seated on a side: ßKassapa, advise the monks, and give them a sermon. Kassapa, either you should advise the monks and give them a sermon or else I should advise the monks and give them a sermon.û

Venerable sir, nowadays, monks are unruly do not accept advice with a good heart.û

Kassapa, in this manner in the past the elder monks were forest dwellers praising dwelling in the forest, were partakers of morsel food, praising partaking morsel food, were rag robe wearers praising the wearing of rag robes, were limited to three robes praising the limitation to three robes, with few desires ... re ... lived satisfied, ... re ... were secluded ... re ... had no associations ... re ... were with aroused effort, praising the arousing of effort.

Then for him, who was a forest dweller praising dwelling in the forest, was a partaker of morsel food, praising partaking morsel food, was a rag robe wearer praising the wearing of rag robes, was limited to three robes praising the limitation to three robes, was with few desires ... re ... lived satisfied, ... re ... was secluded ... re ... had no associations ... re ... was with aroused effort, praising the arousing of effort, the elder monks prepared a seat. And said, `Come, monk, what is the monk's name? Your appearance is good and you delight in the training. Monk, take a seat.'

Then, Kassapa it occurs to the novice monks: `Look this monk is a forest dweller who praises dwelling in the forest, is a partaker of morsel food, praising partaking morsel food, is a rag robe wearer praising the wearing of rag robes, is limited to three robes praising the limitation to three robes, is with few desires ... re ... is satisfied, ... re ... is secluded ... re ... has no associations ... re ... is with aroused effort, praising the arousing of effort. The elder monks prepare a seat for him and say ßcome monk, what is the monk's name?. Your appearance is good and you delight in the training `Monk, take a seat.û' The novice monks follow that method and it will be for their well being and happiness for a long time.

Kassapa, at present the elder monks are not forest dwellers, who praise dwelling in the forest, are not partakers of morsel food and do not praise partaking morsel food, are not rag robe wearers who praise wearing rag robes, are not limited to three robes praising the limitation to three robes, are not with few desires ... re ... are not satisfied, ... re. are not secluded ... re ... have associations ... re ... are not with aroused effort and do not praise the arousing of effort.

Then if there is a well-known, famous monk who is a gainer of robes, morsel food, dwellings and requisites when ill, the elder monks prepare a seat for him and say, `Come monk, what is the monk's name? Your appearance is good and we like your association. Monk, take a seat.'

Then Kassapa it occurs to the novice monks: `Look this monk is well-known, famous is a gainer of robes, morsel food, dwellings and requisites when ill, the elder monks prepare a seat for him and say ßcome monk, what is the monk's name? Your appearance is good and we like your association. ßMonk, take a seat.û' The novice monks follow that method and it will be for their ill being and unhappiness for a long time.

Kassapa, saying it correctly, the holy life is oppressed by those leading the holy life. Saying it correctly those who lead the holy life are oppressed by those leading the oppressed holy life.


I not sure that Theravada must be adoptate the Buddha teachings for peoples, if it will be like this there is no truth. Tipitaka have been alrady adoptate by the post-Buddha bhikkhus, it's not aceptable

It's not the Path that must be adoptate for peoples,
but is the peoples that must adoptate them selves to the Path.

We cant sharpen a sword with a wadding.

If there is no more Theravada in this world, it's because there is a reasons for it, because there is no more living beings that can be lead by The Buddha Dhamma. But also, it means that Buddha Maitreya will arise.
It's better to have a new Buddha, rather old Dhamma that make worth to peoples, by supporting their ego, than better, by destroing it

Problem is not in the Path. :meditate:

PS i'am 22
Last edited by DAWN on Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

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Alobha
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Alobha » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:30 pm

Theravada is not too conservative for the youth. That's not the thing.

There are other more fundamental issues. For most young people, life is centered around indulging in sense pleasures and they're mainly into praise, fame, gain and wealth. Restraining and mindfulness are just the opposite of partying, drinking and getting drugged on the world.

In addition to that, the teachers don't only need the skillful means to talk in a way that addresses the things they have on their mind - there also needs to be the opportunity to do so. If young people are always a minority at a community, their issues may not be the focus of a talk and with no other young people as a "buddhst peer group", young people may not visit under conditions that are most suitable for them.

While it would be great to enhance the conditions for young people, knowing that the Dhamma is just about the opposite of the lifestyle most young people willingly undertake, getting one's hopes to high is nothing I would recommend.

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gavesako
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby gavesako » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:39 pm

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
- Translations and history of Pali texts
- Sutta translations

Buckwheat
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:25 pm

I attended a Zen temple in Salt Lake City, UT (Mormon central) and as a reaction to the strict nature of Mormonism this temple seemed to see nothing wrong with drinking, drugs, and loose sexual activities. I can say that the congregation was more attractive for the youth and counter-culture movement, but they also were constantly struggling with issues of desire leading to ethical violations (some quite terrible) (I should also mention there were several very devoted youth who had renounced most things except for a sleeping bag and a hardwood floor to sleep on). It is a balance between astute practice and attracting those who have not bought into the whole "renunciation as a path to happiness" thing yet.

Maybe Theravada, instead of compromising it's principles, could have a person well-suited for youth outreach (maybe a devout lay person with a witty personality) run a youth program that meets (maybe after the main congregation) in a more casual atmosphere, talking about how the youth can use dhamma to deal with their day to day difficulties. It would be an environment of understanding and tolerating certain forms of non-virtue for the sake of making a connection. This approach would probably not turn teenagers into saints, but it might set the table for a lifetime of contemplation and varying levels of renunciation.

In fact, this program seems like an undertaking, not for a monk, but for a devout lay person and parent, who out of desire to see their children attracted to the dhamma, may want to set up the conditions to make that possible. The problem with that is so many Buddhist parents have memories of their parents forcing religion on them, they do not want to do the same to their children. Maybe there is a middle path?
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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DAWN
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby DAWN » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:34 pm

A lot of peoples comes to The Dhamma cause for them it's somethink magic, metaphysic, exotic. so thy comes to Tibtain Buddhism, by studying this way, thay discover Thveravada, of corse thay have a stereotype of Hinayana, but if they have some wisdom, they comes to The Dhamma.

I often see peoples that comes from complicate tantric buddhism to The simple Dhamma. But i've never seen somebody who comes from The simple Dhamma to complicate tantrism.

All that is copmlicate is much conditioned is much fragile.
All that is simple is less conditioned is much stable
The Dhamma have not any condition, is free.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

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daverupa
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:06 pm


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Hanzze
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:26 am

Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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pilgrim
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby pilgrim » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:22 am


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pilgrim
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby pilgrim » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:37 am

I am beginning to think we need a total image change. Ajahn Brahm seems to be able to do this without compromising the teachings (although some might disagree). But he is just one person and I think his success is due to his charisma which cannot be replicated by others. Dhammakaya is successful , but I am not sure how much of this success is due to their controversial practices and beleifs and how much just good marketing and organisation.
In Thailand, cultural fairs and celebrations draw huge crowds and inevitably, more by chance than design, some will start their interest here. Apart from this, what would attract the youth to the temples?

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Hanzze
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:43 am

Just that! *smile*


BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Nate sante baram sokham _()_

Buckwheat
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:56 am

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

Buckwheat
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:03 am

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.


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