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

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

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:42 pm

Viscid wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Viscid wrote:Love this book.

It really shouldn't offend you. If it does, then it's just the pride you have for a flawed institution which is being hurt.
Very smelly bovine coproforms. It is a badly done book, badly reasoned, and poorly balanced.


Regardless of its poor reasoning and balance, it was due. Even if to incite this discussion, to make people question their imagined stainless image of the Theravada, it was due. It is a book which seems to have incited some controvercy, and is worth respecting in that regard. If the accusations and concerns expressed were either baseless or already well-documented, this book wouldn't have made a blip. But it seems to have!
The book is unskilfull and has seriously damaged people's confidence in the Theravada.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Viscid » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:52 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The book is unskilfull and has seriously damaged people's confidence in the Theravada.


Does that translate into losing faith in the Dhamma?

Despite its problems, Theravada is still an excellent vehicle for practicing the dhamma. The vehicle may have uncomfortable seats, but it can travel from point A to point B relatively well. If this makes people look into alternatives, then good. If their desire to know and apply the teachings is genuine, they'll soon figure out in their search that the alternatives also have their inherent issues.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:53 pm

Viscid wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Viscid wrote:Love this book.

It really shouldn't offend you. If it does, then it's just the pride you have for a flawed institution which is being hurt.
Very smelly bovine coproforms. It is a badly done book, badly reasoned, and poorly balanced.


Regardless of its poor reasoning and balance, it was due. Even if to incite this discussion, to make people question their imagined stainless image of the Theravada, it was due.

My point is that it says nothing surprising, not that I disagree that there are clearly, and unsurprisingly, many problems (most of which seem to have been around since the time of the Buddha, judging from the Vinaya and subsequent history).

You seem to be saying that it's intended for naive people with no contact with the real world.
Viscid wrote: It is a book which seems to have incited some controvercy, and is worth respecting in that regard. If the accusations and concerns expressed were either baseless or already well-documented, this book wouldn't have made a blip. But it seems to have!

Where do you see it making a blip?

It's certainly a serious problem that some approach Buddhism with the idea that everyone and everything about Buddhist organisations is perfect. I've seen this lead to dramatic losses of faith (in people I know off-line and in some here). As Tilt alludes to.

The converse problem I see is obsessing about problems (real or imagined) to the extent of avoiding real-life Sangha because they are "not perfect", and the idea that westerners are practising so much better than anyone in these corrupt Asian institutions.

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

Postby Viscid » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:18 pm

mikenz66 wrote: You seem to be saying that it's intended for naive people with no contact with the real world.


That likely wasn't Dhammika's intent at all, but his book may be valuable as an account of the problems in Theravada for those who live in countries without much direct access to the Sangha.

mikenz66 wrote:Where do you see it making a blip?


I don't, really. I shouldn't have written that.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:31 pm

manasikara wrote:After I read 'The Broken Buddha' my relationship with the Theravada as an institution / religious organization was changed. My formerly rose-coloured glasses were well and truly broken. I found myself unable to attend Theravadan religious gatherings for quite a while, but I did not ever consider giving up meditation practice or accepting guidance from the pali canon. So it actually strengthened my conviction in the Teachings by making me see that they (Buddha's Teachings) are far greater than any one sect that might claim to best embody them (and does not every sect claim this?).

I have met Ven. Dhammika a few times when he visited Melbourne. I don't think he wrote TBB out of bitterness, he is just what is termed a 'whistleblower' and every organization needs one, even Theravada Buddhism (the institution).


Are you really that easily influenced by information at face value? When I read Dhammika’s rant I chuckled through parts of it because I have also seen such and more in the wats, temples and vihāras I have lived in. What is truly distasteful to me is not what the content is pointing to but that a bhikkhu has stooped to such scandal.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:33 pm

Viscid wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The book is unskilfull and has seriously damaged people's confidence in the Theravada.


Does that translate into losing faith in the Dhamma?
Given its lack of balance, it certainly can.

Despite its problems, Theravada is still an excellent vehicle for practicing the dhamma. The vehicle may have uncomfortable seats, but it can travel from point A to point B relatively well. If this makes people look into alternatives, then good. If their desire to know and apply the teachings is genuine, they'll soon figure out in their search that the alternatives also have their inherent issues.
The Theravada is not served well by this seriously flawed book.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:34 pm

It is sad to read such importance given to this tabloid. It has been already said in this thread that this happens elsewhere in religion too. So I will only add that religion can be like a glass house, throw enough stones and you may well break something you like.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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

Postby Viscid » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:37 pm

tiltbillings wrote:The Theravada is not served well by this seriously flawed book.

Sigh. You're probably right.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:14 pm

Viscid wrote:Love this book.

It really shouldn't offend you. If it does, then it's just the pride you have for a flawed institution which is being hurt.

Westerners have not been exposed to a lot of the dirt in the Theravadin sangha, and because of this Dhammika does not have to present a "fair and balanced" evaluation of it. This book is allowing naive Westerners who do not have much first-hand experience dealing with the sangha to have that balanced view. If Dhammika forced himself to write about the positive qualities of the Theravadin Sangha just to seem balanced, it would have dulled the point of this earnest expression of genuine concern.


Exactly.

:goodpost:
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 tiltbillings » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:40 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
Viscid wrote:Love this book.

It really shouldn't offend you. If it does, then it's just the pride you have for a flawed institution which is being hurt.

Westerners have not been exposed to a lot of the dirt in the Theravadin sangha, and because of this Dhammika does not have to present a "fair and balanced" evaluation of it. This book is allowing naive Westerners who do not have much first-hand experience dealing with the sangha to have that balanced view. If Dhammika forced himself to write about the positive qualities of the Theravadin Sangha just to seem balanced, it would have dulled the point of this earnest expression of genuine concern.


Exactly.

:goodpost:
Apparently not:


viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2698&p=153994#p153809
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Viscid » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:37 pm



It's a hard call. I think your run-of-the-mill person would conflate criticism of the Theravadin institution with criticism of the Dhamma. The Theravadin institution, however flawed, provides a good platform for a thorough investigation of The Buddha's teachings. If a cynical view of it were to spread, much like the cynical view of the Catholic church has spread, it would hasten a demise of the institution which grants such investigation.

If all monks spoke so openly and publicly of the abuses and corruption they've witnessed in the Sangha, perhaps the lay community will become jaded and no longer choose to support it...

On a related note, Yuttadhammo has just recently written a (rather impassioned) post regarding the sexual abuse of children in the Sangha.

http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/2011 ... e-silence/

I find it fairly hypocritical that this type of behaviour is not met with the same volume of outrage and disgust by westerners as it is when within the context of Catholicism. If these abuses are not accepted, and real change does not occur quickly, then the Theravadin orthodoxy as we now know it will surely fall to scandal.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:19 pm

Viscid wrote: The Theravadin institution, however flawed, provides a good platform for a thorough investigation of The Buddha's teachings.


One of the points of Venerable Dhammika's book is that in Asia, it does not.

If all monks spoke so openly and publicly of the abuses and corruption they've witnessed in the Sangha, perhaps the lay community will become jaded and no longer choose to support it...


That could be a good thing, it could possibly force an improvement.

On a related note, Yuttadhammo has just recently written a (rather impassioned) post regarding the sexual abuse of children in the Sangha.

http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/2011 ... e-silence/

I find it fairly hypocritical that this type of behaviour is not met with the same volume of outrage and disgust by westerners as it is when within the context of Catholicism.


The Asian Sangha is just no part of many American's ( & other westerners ) world. They may not even be aware of it.
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 daverupa » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:11 pm

Jhana4 wrote:The Asian Sangha is just no part of many American's ( & other westerners ) world. They may not even be aware of it.


Sociology on Theravada Buddhism in the United States generally concludes that there is a phenomenon of "parallel congregations", with both Asian-immigrant and American-born groups sharing ritual space but not sharing practices: American-born practitioners tend to focus on meditation, while Asian-immigrants tend to focus on dana and festival-going, even though both groups may attend the same temple. Far from it being something they're not aware of, it's generally a salient difference and "just not my/our style", to paraphrase the most common sort of response.

While Asian-immigrants tend to treat monastics with great bodily respect, most American-born Theravadans tend to treat monastics the way they treat college professors. The criticisms of "The Broken Buddha" do not necessarily apply in the same way, if at all, in these new contexts; in short, the work is becoming outdated.
    "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: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:14 am

Jhana4 wrote:
Viscid wrote: The Theravadin institution, however flawed, provides a good platform for a thorough investigation of The Buddha's teachings.

One of the points of Venerable Dhammika's book is that in Asia, it does not.

Which is demonstrably false, given that Asia is where a large number of current Lay and Monastic teachers in the West trained.

If the Theravada had not been limping along in some semi-functional form in Asia there would be no Theravada Buddhism in the West.

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

Postby Mr Man » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:36 am

It's just another book and in my opinion heavily shaped by Ven Dhammika's own monastic experience. I'm sure that if the Ven had stumbled into Wat Pa Barn Tard (for example) as a young man he would be writing very different books.

What are our expectations of a living religion that is over 2500 years old and which has millions of adherents? Theravada Buddhism is what it is and as Mike points out it still seems to be producing benefit.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby James the Giant » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:01 pm

For me, "The Broken Buddha" was an eye-opener.
Before I read this book I had a very rosy, idealistic view of bhikkhus and monastic life. I thought all bhikkhus would be hard-working, serious meditators, and of course they would all follow the vinaya; the Buddha himself laid down those rules, why would a monk not follow them?! I thought monasteries were sincere, intense places, where laypeople and bhikkhus alike strove towards the cessation of suffering.

When I got to know some actual real-life bhikkhus, they sensed this idealistic view in me and recommended I read some books that would challenge that view.
They recommended I read that Phra Peter book "Little Angels", where 10 out of the 12 novices are only in robes because it is a way for them to escape poverty. Only one of the novices had any inclination to actually become a bhikkhu when they reached 20. That startled me.
I read that trashy book "What the Buddha Never Taught", which while superficial, shallow, and biased, did at least give me a little more perspective on the failings of real-life bhikkhus.
And of course Broken Buddha, which was the biggest eye opener of all.
Plus meeting real bhukkhus in a couple of monasteries here in New Zealand... one of them only meditates at morning and evening puja, he says he's no good at it, and will leave it for the next life. He said his aim in this life was to accumulate merit, and perhaps he would be able to meditate better in future rebirths. What!?

Like many people have been saying in this thread, Broken Buddha does present a side of the sangha that some westerners are not aware of.
That is certainly true in my case, and I value this book for showing me that.
However, I don't think I would advise other people read it, especially my friends and family. They don't know anything about Buddhism in the first place, and for them to read this book would leave them with an overwhelmingly negative view of the sangha.
But for me - someone who is seriously considering going forth and who had an unrealistically idealised view of the sangha - it is very useful.
I still intend to ordain, and the book has perhaps prepared me a little... made my eventual encounter with lazy bad monks less of a shock.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:45 am

:goodpost:
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 manas » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:57 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
manasikara wrote:After I read 'The Broken Buddha' my relationship with the Theravada as an institution / religious organization was changed. My formerly rose-coloured glasses were well and truly broken. I found myself unable to attend Theravadan religious gatherings for quite a while, but I did not ever consider giving up meditation practice or accepting guidance from the pali canon. So it actually strengthened my conviction in the Teachings by making me see that they (Buddha's Teachings) are far greater than any one sect that might claim to best embody them (and does not every sect claim this?).

I have met Ven. Dhammika a few times when he visited Melbourne. I don't think he wrote TBB out of bitterness, he is just what is termed a 'whistleblower' and every organization needs one, even Theravada Buddhism (the institution).


Are you really that easily influenced by information at face value? When I read Dhammika’s rant I chuckled through parts of it because I have also seen such and more in the wats, temples and vihāras I have lived in. What is truly distasteful to me is not what the content is pointing to but that a bhikkhu has stooped to such scandal.

I should clarify that. Of course my relationship with Theravadan Buddhism as a religious organization wasn't altered *just* by reading TBB. The book did, however, confirm and explain some of the suspicions I already had (from careful observations in real life), and although I have not been to Asia, I have been to Temples where I could see some of those issues playing out right here in Australia. (No, I'm not going to give names and places, because that would be bordering on or might be taken as gossip etc, and I'm not going there!) Furthermore I actually met with Ven. Dhammika a few times, and although I'm not a follower of his by any stretch, I did get to ask a few questions and sound him out a bit. Let's remember that he remains quite enthusiastic about the Buddha Dhamma, and the Pali Canon as the most authoritative version of the Teachings.

I have to confess that apart from a few quite humourous bits (we all need a good laugh occassionally), I don't particularly like the book (liking something isn't the same as admitting that it might serve some useful purpose despite it's unpleasantness), and I do agree that ideally it would only be read by those who, like most here, are already convinced enough about the Dhamma so as not to lose their conviction over one book. As i said, my conviction in the Dhamma was (ultimately) strengthened, not weakened, because I was able to separate the Buddha Dhamma out from the human organizations that attempt to represent it. The Dhamma is bigger than Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana or any 'Yana' you like. But I suppose that someone new to the Dhamma might get put off (Buddhism) by it.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:36 am

:goodpost:
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 Avery » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:02 am

I was totally engrossed in this book and I believe S. Dhammika has done a great thing by documenting the real state of Theravada Buddhism in the present day. Buddhism faces a crisis in Asia and the growing Western community is in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past.

The only thing I think the book is lacking is some perspective, which is indeed why it is a dangerous book to entrust to strangers. An uneducated reader, who isn't familiar with the way of life in Buddhist countries, might be tempted to think that this is either (1) an inherent failure of Buddhism or (2) an inherent failure of Asian culture. Neither of these is true. For example, he points out that Theravada laity never learn anything of morality-- but offering moral teachings to the lay world was never the primary intention of Buddhism, it's a culturally Christian and Western ideal. It's good for lay people to learn, but only because we as Westerners or moderns can see the effects of that education when it's done right. The fact that S. Dhammika should have reminded us of is that every culture has its own failings which leave room for improvement and change for the better. It's natural to recognize failings like this, but we shouldn't try to blame them on anyone, only provide the impetus for change.

:namaste:
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