Prof. Richard Gombrich on the Dissemination of Theravada

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Prof. Richard Gombrich on the Dissemination of Theravada

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:30 am

Bhante Dhammika has been in the UK for the last couple of months. While there he has been to Oxford and some other sites and met with Prof. Gombrich. He has reproduced Prof. Richard Gombrich's talk to the International Conference on Dissemination of Theravada Buddhism:

http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/

see the posts from March 10 to March 13, 2011

He raises some points and criticism of Theravada, the way it is practiced in Southeast Asian countries. Some of the criticisms I find to be unfair, but I like his conclusion here:

How, then, can Theravada Buddhism be disseminated? How can it even be saved? I find the answer obvious. We have to return to the Buddha’s teaching. Our leaders must fearlessly stand up and tell the world that Buddhism is meant to apply to the whole of life, public and private. We have to understand, and act accordingly, that ritual has no intrinsic value and must be jettisoned if it gets in the way of living the Dhamma. We must acknowledge that Buddhism is for all, including foreigners and women: all must be the objects of our love and compassion, just as all are equally responsible moral agents. Yes; we have to take the Buddha seriously!
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Re: Prof. Richard Gombrich on the Dissemination of Theravada

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:32 am

Thanks David.
It looks like quite an interesting talk. I'm a 'fan' of Gombrich so I will take some time in the near future to read it.
kind regards

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Re: Prof. Richard Gombrich on the Dissemination of Theravada

Postby daverupa » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:07 am

I wonder if this deserves its own thread...

...but in this connection (per the linked transcriptions) I've often wondered whether there might be a place for a Theravada Buddhist version of the Catholic Third Order Seculars. In the Catholic faith, there are of course laypeople and monastics, but between them is this middle option, one that largely seems akin to the anagaraka. In the West, however, where Buddhism might or might not flourish in the coming decades, I don't see anagarakas who aren't directly attached to a monastery in some capacity, usually as a preliminary stage in the ordination process.

What I'm wondering is whether or not there exists already, or ought to exist, some way for Buddhist laypeople to officially (i.e. without 'faking it' or misrepresenting the Sangha) take on an added bit of the Vinaya, some manner of "chaplaincy" or other lay lifestyle that is nevertheless a more disciplined approach. Perhaps treating each day as an uposatha day...?

My expectation is that, since meditation is so popular for laypeople now where once it wasn't a priority, there might be a strong and positive reception to this sort of thing if it was introduced or championed. Potential problems involve looking and acting in a way that alienates rather than invites (thinking here of Hare Krsna devotees in airports)...

I feel this is a potentially fruitful line to investigate, but perhaps it already has been, with various results of which I am unaware. Do other foreseeable problems preempt the whole idea? I mean, it's the sort of thing one could choose to do for oneself, but solo seems to come awfully close to hubris, or even worse, foment a cafeteria-style practice...

Is there a place for such a thing?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Prof. Richard Gombrich on the Dissemination of Theravada

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:56 pm

daverupa wrote:...but in this connection (per the linked transcriptions) I've often wondered whether there might be a place for a Theravada Buddhist version of the Catholic Third Order Seculars. In the Catholic faith, there are of course laypeople and monastics, but between them is this middle option, one that largely seems akin to the anagaraka. In the West, however, where Buddhism might or might not flourish in the coming decades, I don't see anagarakas who aren't directly attached to a monastery in some capacity, usually as a preliminary stage in the ordination process.


Here info on a couple of recent famous Anagarikas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anagarika_Dharmapala http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anagarika_Munindra

I think Sri Lanka might still have a stronger emphasis on the Anagarika than other Theravadin countries.
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Re: Prof. Richard Gombrich on the Dissemination of Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:17 pm

daverupa wrote:What I'm wondering is whether or not there exists already, or ought to exist, some way for Buddhist laypeople to officially (i.e. without 'faking it' or misrepresenting the Sangha) take on an added bit of the Vinaya, some manner of "chaplaincy" or other lay lifestyle that is nevertheless a more disciplined approach. Perhaps treating each day as an uposatha day...?


Are there are already a number of lay teachers in the west, some of whom are "offspring" of those pointed to above by Goofaholix? E.g. organisations such as IMS http://www.dharma.org/.

:anjali:
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Re: Prof. Richard Gombrich on the Dissemination of Theravada

Postby J_W » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:25 am

That was an interesting read. Has there been any public response from leaders in the Theravada community?

Best wishes,

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