Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
starter
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Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby starter » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:57 pm

Hello, I'm wondering if the Buddha did allow the monks to describe their own experience of practice including how they obtained paths and fruits for teaching their disciples (including their lay followers)? I guess they are allowed to deliver such talks to their monastic disciples. And then would it be OK to publish such talks to the lay disciples?

I'd appreciate the relevant sutta passages regarding this. Many thanks! Metta,

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:45 pm

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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby starter » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:44 am

Hello Bhante,

Thanks a lot for being so helpful. I read the link you referred, and got confused ...

"8. Should any bhikkhu report (his own) superior human state, when it is factual, to an unordained person, it is to be confessed.

... regardless of whether he has actually attained a superior human state, if he thinks he has and reports it to an unordained person, he commits an offense.

whether one has a skillful or an unskillful motive for mentioning one's factual superior human attainments to an unordained person is irrelevant to the offense.

... however, conflicts with the Vibhaṅga, which includes claims stated in the past tense — for example, "I have attained the first jhāna" — as examples of legitimate claims...

How should reports it to an unordained person be understood? The Dhamma talks were delivered to the monastics, which were recorded and then published on the internet. In addition, the descriptions about their own practice were done in the past tense, which could be counted as "legitimate claims"? Furthermore:

"A person who has attained any of the noble attainments can never become insane; a person who has attained jhāna can become insane only after his/her ability to attain jhāna has been lost."

Then these noble disciples can never really become insane even though they make the offense?

With metta,

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A_Martin
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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby A_Martin » Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:16 am

To Starter
which Dhammatalks are you referring to, can you give a link?
there is an interesting talk from an Arahant about his enlightenment:
http://www.luangta.com/English/site/tal ... 2-5-45.pdf
It is certainly a very touchy issue. If we look at attainments Jhana and sotapanna, sakadagami, anagami and arahant.
If I would claim any of this as a monk to laypeople, I would entail pacittiya. But if I tell the laypeople, the way how I got rid of avijja, then would I actually claim that I am an Arahant? I don't think so. People who know the texts and descriptions will know, others won't.
If my intention however is to claim something with telling the people how I got rid of avijja, then I have an offense.
If I tell another monk that I attained this or that, and this monk tells it to laypeople, is there an offense? No
If I tell monks that I attained this or that, and this is recorded and then I myself put the recordings or transcriptions in book form, then I would entail pacittiya.
The question is here if an indirect claim is a claim that falls under pacittia 8. I would say if the Intention of the indirect claim is to claim something, then it is a pacittiya, if it is there only for teaching purpose to show the people the way out of dukkha, then there is no offense.
When one is teaching as a monk to laypeople, one should be careful, as long as there are kilesas, they tend to boast about ones own attainment, if there are no more kilesas, one cannot boast. Mostly the way it is done in Thailand is done indirectly, and I personally feel that this is not an offense. But as a monk one should be careful with this as well, as I said, as long as one has kilesas this is a tricky and touchy subject.
This is only my personal opinion.

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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby starter » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:47 pm

Hi Martin,

Thanks for your interesting points and the recommendation. I'd better not make the link public here and I feel it's not so important now. I'm sure about the good intention of the teacher to teach people how to end suffering. Metta,

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pilgrim
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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby pilgrim » Fri May 22, 2015 1:58 am

A monk is not supposed to tell a layman of his attainments, meaning Ariya status, jhanas and the iddhis. Is the memory of past lives that arose during meditation considered an iddhi ? It is not necessary an ability but a memory, right?

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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby LXNDR » Sun Jun 28, 2015 3:08 pm

[edit]
Last edited by LXNDR on Sun Jun 28, 2015 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jun 28, 2015 3:30 pm

pilgrim wrote:A monk is not supposed to tell a layman of his attainments, meaning Ariya status, jhanas and the iddhis. Is the memory of past lives that arose during meditation considered an iddhi ? It is not necessary an ability but a memory, right?


The recollection of former dwellings (pubbenivāsānussati) is one of the three vijjās and the six abhiññās, both of which are classed as "dhammas exceeding the human". So if a bhikkhu tells an unordained person of any former lives that he has remembered by means of pubbenivāsānussati, and with the aim of letting the listeners know that he has this power, it would be a pācittiya offence.

On the other hand, it wouldn't be an offence for a bhikkhu to speak to unordained persons about any former lives that have been spontaneously remembered by him without any supernormal means. And possibly it wouldn't be an offence to speak of former lives that he has remembered by means of pubbenivāsānussati, but without stating that this was the means by which he remembered them. (The last point, however, is a disputed one).
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waterchan
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Re: Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Postby waterchan » Sun Jun 28, 2015 6:08 pm

I feel that for a monk with real iddhis, it's somewhat of a moot point, since there are so many ways the monk could demonstrate the iddhis without outright telling or showing people.

One of my favorite anecdotes from Ajahn Brahm's "Opening the Door of your Heart":

In my first year as a monk in northeast Thailand, I was travelling in the back of the car with 2 other Western monks, and with Ajahn Chah, my teacher, sitting in the front passenger seat. Ajahn Chah suddenly turned around and looked at the young American novice monk sitting next to me, and then said something in Thai. The third Western monk in the car was fluent in Thai and translated for us, "Ajahn Chah says that you are thinking about your girlfriend back in L.A."

The jaw of the American novice dropped almost to the floor. Ajahn Chah had been reading his thoughts -- accurately. Ajahn Chah smiled, and his next words were translated as, "Don't worry. We can fix that. Next time you write to her, ask her to send to you something personal, something intimately connected to her, which you can bring out whenever you miss her, to remind you of her."

"Is that allowable for a monk?" asked the novice, surprised. "Sure," said Ajahn Chah, through the translator.

Perhaps monks understand romance after all.

What Ajahn Chah said next took many minutes to translate. Our translator had to stop laughing and pull himself together first.

"Ajahn Chah says..." He struggled to get the words out, wiping away tears of mirth, "Ajahn Chah says you should ask her to send you a bottle of her shit. Then whenever you miss her, you can bring out the bottle and open it!"


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