Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

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

Postby Dhammakamo » Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:50 am

Greetings Dhammafarers,

I spent about 30 minutes typing a lot of things just to have my power circuit cut off.

So I'm just going to sum everything up which was deleted.

I am a Singaporean who ordained in Southern Thailand. In southern thailand, accepting money is deemed appropriate. I am strongly against this idea but I've been stressed to accept these money to pacify the minds of the laity. Is it okay for me to accept these Personal cash offerings and put them into my monastery's donation box? Up to date, I've been rejecting these Personal cash donations, telling the laity to donate them to the monastery instead because monks are not allowed to accept money and it has caused upset among them and anger towards other monks because they feel that I'm a boy-scout (I'm not bothered about the other monks.)

Secondly, what should I do with travel-funds if I do not have a steward, and my monastery does not have a single lay monastic? My only sponsor is my father who lives in Singapore. He passed me a debit card telling me that whenever I need travelling funds, I can inform him, and he will give me approval to book the flight tickets.

Thirdly, I carry a Blackberry (it was a possession I had before ordination). The Blackberry is used as a tool for me to source for Dhamma materials. I spend a lot of time surfing AccessToInsight on it as there are no English Dhamma Books in my monastery, and in the bookstores in Southern Thailand. I had returned to Singapore just to collect english dhamma books from the local monastery and purchase a bulk of them in the local bookstores. But the only accesss I have to scriptures is via my Blackberry. I know that handphones are deemed as luxury items.

What are your takes on these 3 issues? I am willing to forfeit these items back to my father as my teacher has refused to accept these confessions because he sees from The Great Standards. Yet I am strongly against possessing money. My teacher does possess money but they are used as travel funds because he has to make frequent trips around Bangkok and southern Thailand to teach the Dhamma for free. As for the remaining personal money, he will donate all of them to orphanages after Kathina. The rest of the money are solely monastery funds, for the maintenance and upgrades.

Personally, it is okay if my friends in Dhamma Wheel deem it as inappropriate. I am willing to return the debit card to my father/sponsor/steward when he ever visits Thailand again. I have a desire to go to WPN because of english-speaking monks and strict observations of the Vinaya in the future. It appears that there are only 2 places that I will go, one is NE towards WPN and South back to Singapore. Without travelling funds, I'm totally fine because I do have a pair of legs. I can always walk my way to my destined locations.

Please give me your thoughts on these.

With metta
Dhammakamo Bhikkhu
"When an evil-man, seeing you practise goodness, comes and maticiously insults you, you should patiently endure it and not feel angry with him, for the evil-man is insulting himself by trying to insult you" - The Buddha

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:01 am

Greetings venerable Dhammakamo,

I sympathise with your situation, and offer the following recommendation humbly, and present it only because you do not seem to have a bhikkhu with whom you can discuss these matters.

I think it is best to do what you think is right by the Vinaya and the Dhamma... if others are unable to maintain Vinaya, that is their problem, and if they are setting up erroneous expectations to the laity regarding money, similarly that is their fault not yours.

Regarding the Great Standards, I would suggest you review them yourself, have your teacher review them, and adhere to the stricter of the two interpretations.

I wish you all the best.

:anjali:

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby pilgrim » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:02 am

Dear Ven,
Personally, I think Singapore has almost no facilities for a newly ordained monk in training. Apart from WPN, I think there are several other monasteries you can consider. There are a few bhikkhus in Dhammawheel, but they might not check in often because they are on vassa. Phra Fred is in a monastery in Fang near the Burmese border. And if you search the ordination thread, I believe there were a few discussions on this topic.

Regarding items like debit cards and BB, I think it is best you take your abbot's opinion into consideration, but I personally see them as tools like a watch or a computer.

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Dhammakamo » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:07 am

Thanks for the replies dear friends.

My abbot has nothing against BB since it's used as a tool.

Regarding the cash donations, I have decided to tell the laity that monks are not allowed to accept cash offerings, if they wish to, they can place it into the donation box.

I will look through the Ordination section, thanks for the heads up.
"When an evil-man, seeing you practise goodness, comes and maticiously insults you, you should patiently endure it and not feel angry with him, for the evil-man is insulting himself by trying to insult you" - The Buddha

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby morning mist » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:44 am

Dhammakamo wrote:Thanks for the replies dear friends.

My abbot has nothing against BB since it's used as a tool.


Dear Bhante,

I think it can be useful for downloading the Pali Canon or dhamma e-books, dhamma talk. It is a lot lighter than carrying the hard copy of the entire Pali Canon when you are traveling . These days you can have the Tipitaka it in your pocket. They can be a very useful tool for a monk to have.

Dhamma study can also be done in the lay life , but the monastic life was set up to be conducive for going on retreat to meditate, keeping the Vinaya, as well as dhamma study. If I were you I would also go to a peaceful monastery in the forest, where it is conducive to keeping the Vinaya and meditate.

Best wishes on your journey,
with metta,

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby appicchato » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:...it is best to do what you think is right by the Vinaya and the Dhamma...


Period... :thumbsup:

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby nameless » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:10 pm

There's some info here
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tml#wealth

Also see FAQ5 on the same page.

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Dhammakamo » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:49 pm

Thanks my dear friends for the loving moral support and advices. Yes I totally agree that the only difference between a laity and monk is that the former does not don a robe and has slightly lesser time to practise if they have a job. The Dhamma is for the benefit of everyone and there are monks who are not as skilled as the laity (a good example is me because I'm relatively a new to Buddhism).

I've already obtained permission from my teacher to go visit whichever monastery I wish to and also invited by 2 forest monks to hike the mountains in Northern Thailand after vassa. My teacher is a very good teacher because he knows how to provoke me with words which will make me contemplate the dependent origination and khandas. So in case some of you may be mistaken, I do have a good teacher, just not a conducive monastery to practise. I will see how things go after I do a retreat at Suan Mokh and hopefully I'll meet some english-speaking monks whom I have karmic connections with. :)

On an unnecessary note, since young, when I have not heard of the Buddha's Teachings before, I've always told myself and my mum that life is meaningless, we study hard just to obtain certificate which entitles us a good job. Then we work extremely hard to provide for our family, and, eventually we retire and wait for death. I was born with a silver spoon but never felt happy despite all the luxury ihad. But now, I love this simplicity, especially after spending ten days in a cemetery.

May all beings rejoice and I do have a lot to learn from humble dhammafarers like you guys.

With deepest metta
Dhammakamo Bhikkhu
"When an evil-man, seeing you practise goodness, comes and maticiously insults you, you should patiently endure it and not feel angry with him, for the evil-man is insulting himself by trying to insult you" - The Buddha

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Moth » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:11 pm

"If a wayfarer fails to find
one better or equal,
steadfast he should fare alone
for a fool is no fellowship."
-Dhammapada

I think it is best to, as someone said before, uphold the Vinaya regardless of how supportive the environment around you is. Do not concern yourself with other's faults nor their praise or blame towards you. Ultimately we must each practice alone, no matter whom we are with. If the monastery you are at does not properly follow Buddha's way, perhaps find another one that does. I know that the Ajahn Mun lineage is very strict about upholding the Vinaya, i.e Wat Pah Nanachat.

May you realize Nibbana in this life.

Metta,
Dushan
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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:29 pm

This one rule about accepting and using money is the major cause of decline in the Theravāda Sangha. Many do not realise how serious the consequences are, thinking it to be a relatively minor offence — and so it is compared to the offences of defeat or formal meeting.

However, it is the root cause of many other offences, and wrong livelihood for bhikkhus.

Please see my booklets: Money Makes the World Go Round and The Heart of Buddhism.

I would echo the advice given by others. It is very uncomfortable to live together with bhikkhus who do not respect and observe this precept. The only way is to find a group that does follow the rules, or live alone.
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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Dhammakamo » Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:27 am

Thanks Bhante

I will read your booklets. I do see accepting money as a very serious offence too because we took it as the 10th precept during the ordination ceremony. Thanks
"When an evil-man, seeing you practise goodness, comes and maticiously insults you, you should patiently endure it and not feel angry with him, for the evil-man is insulting himself by trying to insult you" - The Buddha

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Zom » Sat Sep 17, 2011 7:13 pm

I'm not a monk, but in my humble opinion, Vinaya is a usefool tool, which should be followed not in letter, but in spirit , that is - wisely, depending also on something else rather than just words, taking into account that we are not living in ancient India and very much has changed since then. Of course, it is difficult to draw a line here, and, perhaps, this line is different for everyone depending on situation. But I think it is not wise to follow all Vinaya rules in the strictest manner (Remember, that Buddha just before parinibbana offered Ananda to disable some not important rules). I know one western monk who was very-very strict in following Vinaya, he blamed other monks on Vinaya matters, and led a solitary life. Right now he is in mental hospital in Sri Lanka. Than coincides with what Ven. Dhammika writes:

I knew a monk, again an Australian, who was
constantly agonizing over this rule. He was a very restless sleeper and in the mornings he would
inevitably wake up finding that his sheet had come loose during the night and his body was
touching the bed, that is, touching Sangha property. Even when he woke up with no part touching
the bed he would worry that he might have done so during the night. One morning he was so
overwrought that he was literally on the verge of committing suicide and had I or another monk not
been with him he may well have done so. As a brief aside, I have noticed two other things about
Vinaya fundamentalists. The first is that they seem to have a higher rate of disrobing than the more
‘lax’ monks. Secondly, and this should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with psychology,
when they do disrobe they often go wild and not uncommonly even give up Buddhism altogether. It
is a case of first one extreme and then the other. The two monks mentioned above both soon
disrobed, one turned against Buddhism with a vehemence and the other gradually drifted out of it.
:coffee:

I also heard a case, that one monk from Sri Lanka came to Russia in winter. And he walked barefooted (or with sandals only), with his only robe, no sweater, no coat, nothing... It happened as a result that he died in a local hospital.


I will see how things go after I do a retreat at Suan Mokh and hopefully I'll meet some english-speaking monks whom I have karmic connections with.


Give my best regards to Bhante Hubert and Ven. Kittisaro who are on vassa over there right now :namaste:

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby pilgrim » Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:16 am

I appreciate Zom's point, but I also wish to point out that sometimes, it is mental problems that manifest outwardly as a rigid adherence to Vinaya rules and not the other way round, and that could have been what he observed. Many years ago I had experience with one such mentally-unbalanced monk. He would be super-rigid with the rules. He would not eat the food offered in his bowl as it had chillies and he was concerned there were undamaged seeds in them. When we brought him to see Pa-Auk sayadaw, to seek his assistance, this monk asked the Sayadaw, to his puzzlement, if he was holding an umbrella in his hand. Apparently there was a rule that said a monk should not address a person holding a weapon, including an umbrella.

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Sylvester » Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:11 am

Dear Bhante

For a very compassionate Vinaya surprise, here's an abridged Commentarial narrative to Dhammapada verse 36 -

We are told that while the Teacher was in residence at Sāvatthī, a certain treasurer’s son approached an elder who resorted to his house for alms and said to him, “Reverend sir, I desire to obtain release from suffering. Tell me some way by which I can obtain release from suffering.” The elder replied, “Good indeed, friend. If you desire release from suffering, give ticket-food, give fortnightly food, give lodgings during the season of the rains, give bowls and robes and the other requisites. Divide your possessions into three parts: with one portion carry on your business; with another portion support son and wife; dispense the third portion on alms to support the Teaching of the Buddha.”

“Very well, reverend sir,” said the treasurer’s son, and did all in the prescribed order. Having done all, he returned to the elder and asked him, “Reverend sir, is there anything else I ought to do?” – “Brother, take upon yourself the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts.” The treasurer’s son did so, and then asked whether there was anything else he ought to do. “Yes,” replied the elder, “take upon yourself the Ten Precepts.” – “Very well, reverend sir,” said the treasurer’s son, and took upon himself the Ten Precepts. Because the treasurer’s son had in this manner performed works of merit, one after another (anupubbena), he came to be called Anupubba. Again he asked the elder, “Reverend sir, is there anything else I ought to do?” The elder replied, “Yes, become a monk.” The treasurer’s son immediately went forth.

Now he had a teacher who was versed in the Abhidhamma and a preceptor who was versed in the Vinaya. After he had obtained acceptance as a monk, whenever he approached his teacher, the latter repeated questions found in the Abhidhamma, “In the dispensation of the Buddha it accords with Dhamma to do this; it does not accord with Dhamma to do that.” And whenever he approached his preceptor, the latter repeated questions found in the Vinaya, “In the dispensation of the Buddha it accords with Dhamma to do this; it does not accord with Dhamma to do that; this is proper; this is improper.” After a time he thought to himself, “Oh, what a wearisome task this is! I became a monk in order to obtain release from suffering, but here there is not even room for me to stretch out my hands. It is possible, however, to obtain release from suffering even if one lives the household life. I had best become a householder once more.”

From that time forth, discontented and dissatisfied, he no longer rehearsed the thirty-two constituent parts of the body and received instruction. He became emaciated; his skin shrivelled up; veins stood out all over his body; weariness oppressed him, and his body was covered with scabs. The young novices asked him, “Friend, how is it that wherever you stand, wherever you sit, you are sick with jaundice, emaciated, shrivelled up, your body covered with scabs? What have you done?” – “Friends, I am discontented.” – “Why?” He told them his story, and they told his teacher and his preceptor, and his teacher and his preceptor took him with them to the Teacher.

Said the Teacher, “Monks, why have you come?” – “Reverend sir, this monk is dissatisfied in your dispensation.” – “Monk, is what they say true?” – “Yes, reverend sir.” – “Why are you dissatisfied?” – “Reverend sir, I became a monk in order to obtain release from suffering. My teacher has recited passages from the Abhidhamma, and my preceptor has recited passages from the Vinaya. Reverend sir, I have come to the following conclusion: ‘Here there is not even room for me to stretch out my hands. It is possible for me to obtain release from suffering as a householder. I will therefore become a householder.’ ”

“Monk, if you can guard one thing, it will not be necessary for you to guard the rest.” – “What is that, reverend sir?” – “Can you guard your mind?” – “I can, reverend sir.” – “Well then, guard your mind alone.” Having given this admonition, the Teacher pronounced the following stanza:

The mind is very hard to see, Subtle, falling on what it wants; Let the wise man guard his mind, A guarded mind brings happiness.



You may not have the Buddha to give you such an extraordinary "allowance" today, but surely the Buddha's advice would be just as applicable.

May you guard that essential and find great success in the homeless life. May you never weary of the Vinaya, that great protector of Right Livelihood.

:anjali:

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Dhammakamo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:03 am

It appears that the laity in southern thailand do not wish to go through the hassle of buying requisites so they offered money in envelopes instead. This is their primary way of making merit via offering to monks. Needless to say, about 90% of the monks accumulate their wealth so as to have a more luxurious life upon disrobing, or to find a wife.

After much review and discussion, not accepting money is deem inappropriate here as the laity only want to make merit and not hear the Dhamma. I've returned the money back to the laity on countless occasions and it pissed off the other monks and upset the laity too. I just learnt from my abbot that one of the late founders of my monastery had a lot of money offered to him and under circumstances, he had to accept them so as to please the laity. Whenever he accumulated a certain amount, he would buy out cows deal for slaughter, donate to school, buy out schools of fish to release them back into the sea and, etc. He would be penniless nonetheless.

This appears to be the only way to please everyone, including myself. I always had this thought of re-implementing the rule back in southern thailand but it's not working. Of course when I travel to another area where money is not accepted, I will adhere by the rules.
"When an evil-man, seeing you practise goodness, comes and maticiously insults you, you should patiently endure it and not feel angry with him, for the evil-man is insulting himself by trying to insult you" - The Buddha

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Nicro » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:50 pm

Have you tried Suan Mohk? I would suspect that they would be a bit stricter in Vinaya. Or head north to where Ajahn Chah branches are, they should be strict. Maybe even go to Sri Lanka if you can find a way.

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby karuna_murti » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:09 am

Sometimes I feel sympathy for bhikkhus from Thailand.
One time a monk give me envelopes containing a large amount of money for a Chao Khun. Apparently all bhikkhus receive monthly allowance.
And handling money become so common, I even see a laywoman throw money casually for a monk.

Bhante, if you want to live as a monk who follows Vinaya, you gain my true respect.

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby appicchato » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:31 am

Apparently all bhikkhus receive monthly allowance.


Not so...although monks with 'rank'...Jao Khuns and others with 'titles' (in Thailand) do receive a monthly 'salary'...

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby Dhammakamo » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:22 pm

Been receiving envelopes the past few days after Abhidhamma recitations at funerals. Apparently the laity get extremely furious when I refused to accept those envelopes (filled with money).

Had a final review with my teacher today. We concluded that it would be demanding to ask the laity to bring the envelope to our monastery by themselves, plus not accepting it will upset them greatly. Since I'm receiving envelopes which means I'm not directly accepting money, I'm not breaking any offence by doing so. I'm doing the laity a favor by passing the envelope to my monastery's abbot, and that's it.

Anyway, is re-ordination required if I wish to train at Wat Pah Nanachat?
"When an evil-man, seeing you practise goodness, comes and maticiously insults you, you should patiently endure it and not feel angry with him, for the evil-man is insulting himself by trying to insult you" - The Buddha

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Re: Questions from the Shameful Bhikkhu

Postby appicchato » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:12 pm

Dhammakamo wrote:...is re-ordination required if I wish to train at Wat Pah Nanachat?


Wouldn't think so...unless you were ordained in the Dhammayut...then possibly, but doubtfully...


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