Are monks allowed to describe attainments for teaching?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

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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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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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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