"The Broken Buddha" by Ven.Dhammika and other scandals

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:09 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Ah how unlike the more sophisticated laity in the west who spend their time on Buddhist forums.....


You are here posting in this thread too Valerie :). I do think that most DWers probably know more about the dhamma and meditate more than a number of people in those countries, if the situation is as how Venerable Dhammasika describes it. Have you read the book? Do you any opinion about it?
Last edited by Jhana4 on Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:15 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Good review, Jhana. I just want to point out one thing... the comparison between a Christian missionary and a Buddhist monk isn't really fair. I think that a Christian monk would be closer... and AFAIK they also don't really cater to the public, or even less so when compared to the average Buddhist monk (I could be wrong).


That is true about Christian monks, but I think Ven Dhammika's criticisms of Buddhist monks is fair as they also fill/are supposed to fill the role that Christian clergy do of transmitting the dhamma to the community. Christian monks never had that role. From what I read in the book, Christian monks don't make the same demands upon the community that Buddhist monks do either.

I think the real problem here is that the layperson part of the Sangha is also neglected... it's not just the monks. (Also, where do the monks come from?)


One of the points that stuck at to me was that Venerable Dhammika didn't hold either the laypeople or the Sangha ( in the book this was used to denote the monks only, at least by context ) solely responsible. He wrote that the problems of both were due to lack of proper education and fear of reprisals for going against the status quo.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:54 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:Ah how unlike the more sophisticated laity in the west who spend their time on Buddhist forums.....


You are here posting in thread too Valerie :). I do think that most DWers probably know more about the dhamma and meditate more than a number of people in those countries if the situation is as how Venerable Dhammasika describes. Have you read the book? Do you any opinion about it?

Anyone who has spent any time at monasteries in the West or Asia would not be surprised that the vast majority who turn up on holidays appear to be only going through some motions and a significant proportion of the Sangha appear to in the same position. Clearly this is a worry if this translates into a decline.

I think what Sanghamitta is getting at is that it is very easy to overlook that some of those people that might easily be dismissed as "just making merit" are quietly living their lives according to the precepts, turning up early in the morning to feed the sangha, and doing low-key meditation practice.

For Buddhism to become truly established in the West it's my suspicion that "growing" more western people like that is more important than "knowing more about the Dhamma and meditating more". The Dhamma taught by the Buddha is a way of life, not just a collection of techniques. For it to survive I think there is a need a strong, large, laity to support the Sangha (and the laity who do have the good fortune to be able to put a lot of time into meditation or study).

I have a lot of admiration for the the Ajahn Chah western monasteries, so I'm not surprised they get a positive mention. They have been fortunate in being able to tap into ethnic support from Thai and Sri Lankan communities, and at the same time be attractive and welcoming to westerners (it helps having English-speaking Sangha!). Significantly, they have done that by taking a very traditional, back to basics, approach that doesn't alienate the support base.

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:08 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I think what Sanghamitta is getting at is that it is very easy to overlook that some of those people that might easily be dismissed as "just making merit" are quietly living their lives according to the precepts, turning up early in the morning to feed the sangha, and doing low-key meditation practice.


I don't see how you got that otherwise interesting point from her message. Getting back to the book, the author Venerable Dhammika who has lived in Asia and who spent time with Asians is of the view that most Buddhist lay people are not like that. They do not meditate, have told people like him that it is the province of monks and that they have been taught that by monks.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:09 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I think what Sanghamitta is getting at is that it is very easy to overlook that some of those people that might easily be dismissed as "just making merit" are quietly living their lives according to the precepts, turning up early in the morning to feed the sangha, and doing low-key meditation practice.


I don't see how you got that otherwise interesting point from her message. Getting back to the book, the author Venerable Dhammika who has lived in Asia and who spent time with Asians is of the view that most Buddhist lay people are not like that. They do not meditate, have told people like him that it is the province of monks and that they have been taught that by monks.

Yes, I'm not really contradicting that. My comments are based on the Asian lay people and bhikkhus that I know, here and in Thailand. As, I presume, are Sanghamitta's. There are certainly a significant number (quite possible the majority) of lay people and bhikhus who have completely lost the plot. However, there are a significant number who I think are essential to the future who are easily confused with the "lost the plot" group. A group who do a good job of practising dana, generosity, and occasional meditation according to the Dhamma. That group is essential to those who aspire to "serious practice" because they provide the support and example without which the Sangha and the "serious practitioners" would have no place to live or practice intensively. As Ven Dhammika says (P67 of http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/brokenbuddhanew.pdf)
Another potentially more serious problem is that all the Ajahn Chah monasteries in the West are largely dependant on funds from Thailand. If this money stops for some reason the movement may be unable to maintain itself.

(This may be inaccurate --- I'm not sure how much support comes from Thailand vs. local Thai and Sri Lankan communities).

In any case Ven Dhammika is quite right, the health of the Dhamma is dependent on sorting out issues with both lay people and ordained Sangha. This is not going to be easy. And I think that it's important not to misjudge the range of lay practitioners who are actually practising very well by using specific meditation practices as the only yardstick.

:anjali:
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:14 pm

I think Jnana4 that people have all sorts of ways of working through their doubts and fears and confusions, and thats OK. It wont go any faster than it will go.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:26 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:I think Jnana4 that people have all sorts of ways of working through their doubts and fears and confusions, and thats OK. It wont go any faster than it will go.


No disrespect, but I don't understand your comment, nor how it relates to your earlier comment or my replies to it. My enthusiasm is for discussing this book so please accept my apology for not continuing with this subthread past this point.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby BlackBird » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:23 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
According to the Venerable S. Dhammika the Asian Theravada laity is only concerned with making merit. That is, ensuring a good rebirth for themselves by making donations to the monks. They grow up being taught that the maximum amount of merit is to be had by giving to monks, so few make donations or do volunteer work for others. The rest of the time, outside of holidays the laity is unconcerned about Buddhism. They do not read the suttas. They do not meditate. They are discouraged from doing so by the monks. They believe both things are not for ordinary people, but only for monks.


From my experience this is mostly true. The prevailing view in Sri Lanka that I witnessed was that lay people felt that meditation was for monks. A lay person's practice was almost entirely concerned with making merit. There are lay people in Sri Lanka that meditate and take an interest in learning about the Buddha's teachings, and fortunately in recent years this demographic is increasing.

Regarding the sect that only allows the highest caste (and white folks) to ordain - The Siam Nikaya - They do not have a good reputation amongst the educated laity. That's not to say that all Siam Nikaya monks are bad eggs, but that a high standard of vinaya is not followed and meditation is practiced by very few. It's no great loss for those Sri Lankans not of the highest caste because those who are serious about Dhamma would probably seek out monasteries with good reputations. Monasteries with good reputations for meditation and learning in Sri Lanka are almost exclusively of the Ramanna and Amarapura Nikayas.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:28 pm

Greetings,

There is a big difference between making merit so that "I" may have a good rebirth (in fact, this isn't much different to Christianity - being rewarded in the afterlife for good done in this life - combined with the fear of punishment of being prodded by flaming pitchforks in hell) and making merit as part of an integrated program of sila, bhavana and panna... in other words, making merit as part of, and support for, the fulfilment of the Noble Eightfold Path.

I have no idea which is more prevalent amongst Asian laity, so I won't speculate.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:39 pm

BlackBird wrote:Regarding the sect that only allows the highest caste (and white folks) to ordain - The Siam Nikaya - They do not have a good reputation amongst the educated laity. That's not to say that all Siam Nikaya monks are bad eggs, but that a high standard of vinaya is not followed and meditation is practiced by very few.


Speaking of the Siam Nikaya, the North American leader is Bhante Gunaratana. He has an interesting autobiography:

http://www.bhavanasociety.org/resource/ ... _bhante_g/

Image

In his autobiography [spoiler alert] he mentions how he was addicted to betel nuts (a mild stimulant) as were most monks back then and also had migraines. When he mentioned that he was going to try and practice meditation to help alleviate his migraines, other monks thought he was nuts (they did not meditate so saw no value in it). So this autobiography raises some of the issues found in Broken Buddha, too. He of course, did overcome betel nuts and the migraines and became a scholar and practice-oriented famous monk.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby BlackBird » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:48 pm

Thanks David, that looks like a really interesting read :)
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:51 pm

retrofuturist wrote:There is a big difference between making merit so that "I" may have a good rebirth (in fact, this isn't much different to Christianity - being rewarded in the afterlife for good done in this life - combined with the fear of punishment of being prodded by flaming pitchforks in hell) and making merit as part of an integrated program of sila, bhavana and panna... in other words, making merit as part of, and support for, the fulfilment of the Noble Eightfold Path.

I have no idea which is more prevalent amongst Asian laity, so I won't speculate.

Yes, that's a very good way of putting it and something to bear in mind when trying to assess the heath of the laity. I have no idea of percentages, but there are certainly people who to me are clearly the "making merit as part of, and support for, the fulfilment of the Noble Eightfold Path" category but don't spend much time reading suttas or meditating.

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:59 pm

Thanks for the post David. I believe environment makes or breaks most people. Every once in a while I encounter someone with qualities they should not have given where they started from. Like a flower growing out of the crack in a sidewalk. It seems like Bhante G is one of them.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:43 pm

THE BROKEN BUDDHA
Critical Reflections on Theravada and a Plea for a New Buddhism
by the Venerable S. Dhammika


In a nutshell, the book is by a western born monk and is about criticisms of Theravada Buddhism as he saw it practiced in Asia ( Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma primarily). Venerable S Dhammika is still a monk. I was thinking about this book the other day. First, I was recalling what he wrote ( and what I have observed in ethnic Buddhist communities in the US ) that very few monks are interested in meditation. Some even dismiss it as napping, an activity for old people and discourage it. In his book Venerable Dhammika describes what he thinks a reformed order of Buddhist monks might look like. He includes many pie in the sky rules on his wish list ( if there was such an order, I would support it ). One thing he doesn't mention is meditation.

The way I see it the whole point of being a monk is to get increased time in meditation to do the work of unbinding. Additionally, it is my belief that "the dhamma", the Buddhist spirit, is rooted in and flows out of meditation.

What do you think? If a bunch of people got together to assemble a reformed order of Buddhism and monastics do you think one of the rules should be a minimum weekly amount of time spent in meditation?

How about at least 14 hours a week ( 1 hour in the morning, 1 hour in the evening ) if you want to stay in the order?

Many devoted lay people can and do that much, so it isn't beyond a monk who wants to be a scholar or some kind of community organizer.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:59 pm

daverupa wrote:Mostly correct. The best comparison is between a Buddhist monastic and a Catholic friar.

Or mediaeval Christianity in Europe and modern Theravadin Buddhism in southern Asia.

:namaste:
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby fabianfred » Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:53 pm

BlackBird wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:I hate reading PDFs, but I have to say I am about a half dozen pages into this book and I am finding it to be engrossing.


Scandal always is. Just remember there are still a lot of good monks out there.


Guests to our temple get a DVD from me full of good Buddhist stuff trawled from the internet.....and I advise them to get themselves an Amazon Kindle reader which takes pdf files....some already come with their own.

I agree with most of what is in 'The Broken Buddha' and have some similar writings myself on my Facebook ...
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 6460118286
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 6344768286
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 2609963286
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 8810733286
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 0859438286
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 5995488286
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=383920278285
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/494 ... -thailand/
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/483 ... bbot-says/


anyone wishing to get an opinion from myself or my fellow foreign monk here at the temple in Northern thailand where we reside can ask ask questions in this thread or at our blog... http://watsriboenruang.wordpress.com/about-3/
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby fabianfred » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:18 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
According to the Venerable S. Dhammika the Asian Theravada laity is only concerned with making merit. That is, ensuring a good rebirth for themselves by making donations to the monks. They grow up being taught that the maximum amount of merit is to be had by giving to monks, so few make donations or do volunteer work for others. The rest of the time, outside of holidays the laity is unconcerned about Buddhism. They do not read the suttas. They do not meditate. They are discouraged from doing so by the monks. They believe both things are not for ordinary people, but only for monks.

Many monks are also unfamiliar with the suttas and do not meditate. In fact if a monk chooses to meditate they will not get any encouragement and even some discouragement as it makes other monks look bad. Many monks go into the Sangha as children, out of poverty and leave after they get a college education paid for by dana from the laity. The ones who stay experience a life time of being waited on hand and foot by the community. The monks become spoiled and narcissitic, caring only about their whims to use dana money to put up buildings and statues that people don't need and often when there is a lot of poverty in the surrounding area. The monks often get big egos demanding huge amounts of respect and demanding to be catered to. Often the Buddhist community in Asia will sacrifice on essentials to their own families to give dana to monks who already have an excess of what they need or could want. This happens because of the aforementioned belief in merit making. For monks the most important thing is following the vinaya, and most could care less about the dhamma, even if they knew about it.

Yes...I agree
Myself and my fellow foreign monk here at our temple have often felt somewhat ostracised by the other monks and novices because we stress the importance of meditation......and do our best to keep the Vinaya. The Thai monks and novices (who see the monks as an example to follow) often are lax with the vinaya..... not bothering to go out on alms-round; eating after mid-day.....
They often have school groups come on dhamma camps to stay for a few nights and days, and are taught by the Thai monks. They only teach them morality....to be good and hope to go to heaven...and maybe scare them with images about hells.
All religions teach us to be good, which gives the good results of a favourable rebirth, but only the Buddha's dhamma teaches to escape Samsara and that requires understanding of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path...and the practice of them. Because these monks do not practice themselves they can hardly teach others what they do not know or believe. They only perfunctoraly teach anything about meditation, including walking meditation which is taught like it is some fun little game since the monks themselves never do it anyway. A ten day Vipassana retreat is a part of their teachers course, which as we know isn't even a real retreat but just a taster....and based upon this they then go out and teach it!!!!
They know I want to teach the kids some real Dhamma, but am not encouraged or allowed, perhaps because the thai monks will then get questioned upon things they themselves do not know. Although Anatta is meant to be at the heart of every Buddhist, Asians, including the monks, are still very much obsessed with 'face'.
Many Thai monks think that because they are born into buddhism they must automatically know more about it than any farang monk, and although we often get admiring comments from the thai laity about our knowledge the same doesn't happen with the thai monkhood. We foreigners have mostly changed from our original religion we were brought up in to buddhism so have done some study. Thais who convert to christianity probably read the Bible, something I never did even though I was brought up as a Catholic.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby James the Giant » Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:57 pm

Venerable Fred, with respect, may I ask why you and Ven Greg stay at such a monastery?
Surely there are Ajahn Chah wats you could go to, or even dhammayut, Where both meditation and vinaya are taken more seriously.
What's keeping you where you are now?
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:54 am

Thank you for the interesting insights, Venerable. Clearly there is a huge variation in "seriousness" among the the Theravada Sangha, and quite a lot of the range is rather obvious at my local Wat. It's alarming to hear that you feel ostracised for taking meditation seriously. That's certainly not what I see here --- some monks are clearly much more serious than others, but those who are less serious tend to take on other duties.

I find these observations of Ven Sujato useful whenever discussion of laxity in the Sangha comes up:
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/ ... y-schopen/
But while it is obviously true, I would also contend that it is truly obvious. All the activities that Schopen depicts may be plainly seen in the activities of the majority of the ordained Sangha in all traditions in the present day. Schopen merely points out that these conditions also obtained in the Middle Period of Indian Buddhism as well. While this may come as a surprise to academics with little contact with Buddhism in the real world, and constitutes an important critique of the fallacy of equating Buddhism with the idealized portrait in the sacred texts, it will come as no surprise for those of us who encounter Buddhism in the world every day.

I don't quote this as an excuse for laxity, but as an encouragement (to myself) to treasure the best of what I am so lucky to have ready access to, rather than waste my time complaining about the rest.

I've seen people whose faith is based on such "idealized portrait in the sacred texts" become rather unstuck when faced with the problem of maintaining their progress in a world that is far from ideal.

:anjali:
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby fabianfred » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:24 am

James the Giant wrote:Venerable Fred, with respect, may I ask why you and Ven Greg stay at such a monastery?
Surely there are Ajahn Chah wats you could go to, or even dhammayut, Where both meditation and vinaya are taken more seriously.
What's keeping you where you are now?


Good question.
I have been living in Thailand for twenty years now since retiring from the army. First in Chiangmai for 5 years then after meeting my wife there I moved to Fang which is her home town. I became involved as the teacher for the MonkforaMonth project in this temple and when i decided to ordain it was natural to come here.
The abbot is quite young, about 37, and his three head monks are all below 30. i came along next and then we got a couple of old Thais who joined just after me with the 100,000 monk ordination by the dhammkaya temple in BKK and after Pansa came to stay here. Ven Greg was in a Burmese Vipassana centre in malaysia and wanted to come to stay in thailand because there he could only get three month visas, so after contact through the net he joined us here and since he has more experience with teaching Vipassana he looks after that with our guests whilst i carry on teaching the Dhamma.
My own home and family is just down the road and since my kids are still young it is nice to be that way.
One day we might just decide to leave and go tudong.... :computerproblem: :mrgreen:
We just ignore any bad vibes (from the monks or novices) and get on with our own practice, feeling sorry for them and the bad karma they are creating for themselves. The lay people are very supportive and like our presence which is why alms-round is our favourite time of day.

BTW Ven. Greg is from NZ ......
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