Go forth, o bhikkhus !

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Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby pilgrim » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:27 am

"Go forth, o bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the good, for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach the doctrine that is beautiful in its beginning, beautiful in its middle, and beautiful in its ending. Declare the holy life in its purity, completely both in the spirit and the letter." ~ Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.

This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma. However, I feel this admonition by the Buddha is not taken very seriously, except for a small fraction of the sangha. Monks do teach, but mostly if circumstances call for it or asked to do so. They vast majority do not actively follow the advice to make the conscious decision to "Go forth" and make plans, strategies and effort to to spread the Dhamma.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:32 am

pilgrim wrote:"Go forth, o bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the good, for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach the doctrine that is beautiful in its beginning, beautiful in its middle, and beautiful in its ending. Declare the holy life in its purity, completely both in the spirit and the letter." ~ Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.

This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma. However, I feel this admonition by the Buddha is not taken very seriously, except for a small fraction of the sangha. Monks do teach, but mostly if circumstances call for it or asked to do so. They vast majority do not actively follow the advice to make the conscious decision to "Go forth" and make plans, strategies and effort to to spread the Dhamma.


At the time Buddhism had only spread to parts of India...

it appears to have worked.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby ground » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:23 am

pilgrim wrote:This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma.

Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.

kind regards
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby nameless » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:28 pm

Monks are not allowed to teach unless they are asked to do so. Can't find a 'proper' reference, but this page states that

It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation, nor in a situation where the teachings cannot be reflected upon adequately.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby Kare » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:10 pm

TMingyur wrote:
pilgrim wrote:This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma.

Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.

kind regards


A saying of the Buddha is not appropriate for Buddha Dharma?
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:20 pm

TMingyur wrote:Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.


nameless wrote:Monks are not allowed to teach unless they are asked to do so...


Not quite correct. I think the following excerpt shows that door-to-door evangelism isn't appropriate, but that a "free to the public" speaking engagement is just fine.

---
Sixteen of the Sekhiya Training rules set down how and to whom a bhikkhu should teach Dhamma. These rules are also concerned with the etiquette of showing respect, respect not only for the bhikkhu but more importantly for the Dhamma that he is teaching. (The Great Standards would imply here that modern ways of showing respect and disrespect would be similarly covered by these rules.) These rules prohibit a bhikkhu from teaching anyone he considers to be showing disrespect to the Dhamma. Here is a summary of these Sekhiya Trainings:

"I will not teach Dhamma to someone who is not sick but who:

— has an umbrella; a wooden stick (club); weapon in their hand.

— is wearing (wooden-soled) sandals/shoes; is in a vehicle; is on a bed (or couch); is sitting clasping the knees; has a head wrapping (turban); whose head is covered; who is sitting on a seat while I am sitting on the ground; who is sitting on a high seat while I am sitting on a low seat; who is sitting while I am standing; who is walking in front of me while I am walking behind; who is walking on a pathway while I am walking beside the pathway." (Sekhiya 57-72; See BMC pp.505-508)

How these rules are observed may diverge in different communities. Some will strictly follow the above while others will be more flexible according to modern conditions. As Venerable Brahmava"ngso remarks:

"...These Sekhiyas ensure that one teaches Dhamma only to an audience which shows respect. One may not expound from a soapbox in the marketplace... to the indifference of passers by. However it is common these days in the West for a seated audience, wearing their shoes and maybe even a hat, to respectfully listen to a speaker standing at a lectern... and as the audience is considered to be behaving respectfully according to the prevailing norms there seems no reason why a monk may not teach Dhamma in such a situation." (AB)

source
    "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: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby pilgrim » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:20 am

The reluctancea and doubt expressed so far is indicative of the attitude today when it comes to missionary work. I am wondering if the zeal to teach was stronger in the past. In the suttas we have monks ( can't remember his name) who made great efforts and sacrifices to travel to the country of Avanti to teach. During Asoka's time monks travelled on dangerous journeys and converted kings and entire communities. Today, this zeal seems lacking and many almost seem embarassed to reveal or admit they have a desire to spread the Dhamma.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby befriend » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:34 am

whos worse the man who commits evil, or the man who knows how to stop evil and does nothing?
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:49 am

pilgrim wrote:The reluctancea and doubt expressed so far is indicative of the attitude today when it comes to missionary work. I am wondering if the zeal to teach was stronger in the past. In the suttas we have monks ( can't remember his name) who made great efforts and sacrifices to travel to the country of Avanti to teach. During Asoka's time monks travelled on dangerous journeys and converted kings and entire communities. Today, this zeal seems lacking and many almost seem embarassed to reveal or admit they have a desire to spread the Dhamma.


Consider 50 or 100 years ago, how many Buddhists do you think there were in western countries for example? compare this with today.

More evidence that the glass is not half empty.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby chownah » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:02 am

befriend wrote:whos worse the man who commits evil, or the man who knows how to stop evil and does nothing?

Who is worse, the man who commits evil or the man who know how to stop evil and does nothing, or the man who teaches that someone who does no evil is worse than someone who does evil?
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby befriend » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:18 am

so you know how to create goodness in the world and you let the world catch on fire, and you sit back and do nothing. how is that not an act of evil. negligence.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby befriend » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:23 am

idly standing by while you watch people suffer is an evil deed.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:45 am

nameless wrote:Monks are not allowed to teach unless they are asked to do so. Can't find a 'proper' reference, but this page states that

It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation, nor in a situation where the teachings cannot be reflected upon adequately.


The whole section in the above link is worth reading:
Teaching Dharma

The monk as Dharma teacher must find the appropriate occasion to give the profound and insightful teachings of the Buddha to those who wish to hear it. It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation, nor in a situation where the teachings cannot be reflected upon adequately. This is a significant point, as the Buddha's teachings are meant to be a vehicle, which one should contemplate silently and then apply. The value of Dharma is greatly reduced if it is just received as chit-chat or speculations for debate.

Accordingly, for a Dharma talk, it is good to set up a room where the teachings can be listened to with respect being shown to the speaker. In terms of etiquette, graceful convention rather than rule, this means affording the speaker a seat which is higher than his audience, not pointing one's feet at the speaker, not lying down on the floor during the talk, and not interrupting the speaker. Questions are welcome at the end of the talk.

Also, as a sign of respect, when inviting a monk it is usual for the person making the invitation to also make the travel arrangements, directly or indirectly.

Presumably there is a discussion in the Vinaya somewhere which provides background to the statement:
"It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation."

since it seems to be mentioned a lot. Does anyone have a reference?

:anjali:
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby ground » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:05 am

Kare wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
pilgrim wrote:This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma.

Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.

kind regards


A saying of the Buddha is not appropriate for Buddha Dharma?


A saying is a saying and grasping an interpretation is grasping an interpretation.


Kind regards
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby nameless » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:52 pm

befriend wrote:so you know how to create goodness in the world and you let the world catch on fire, and you sit back and do nothing. how is that not an act of evil. negligence.


I assume you're still talking about the spread of dhamma. The thing is dhamma is not something that you can actively 'spread' to people. Try telling people who have had no experience of Buddhism, maybe they've lost their job, or gotten a terminal disease, try telling them it's ok, everything is impermanent, just meditate (of course I'm simplifying things for the sake of this argument), it's not going to work. Or even the average person in the street, try telling them renouncing and giving up things will make you happier, tell them their suffering comes from their desire, see how that works. There needs to be conditions that draw people to the dhamma.

On the other hand if you try to push it on people who aren't ready to receive it, it backfires. Say, if your first math question was something that was too difficult, you might decide then that maths is not for you, even though if taught properly you might be very good at it. Or if your first Chinese dish was something too exotic, you might think that Chinese food is not for you, even though if you were exposed to a different dish you might have liked it. It's something like that. If you push Buddhism on someone who's not ready, they might decide for good that Buddhism is not for them, even though if left alone they might have decided to accept Buddhism at some point.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby befriend » Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:14 pm

nameless wrote:
befriend wrote:so you know how to create goodness in the world and you let the world catch on fire, and you sit back and do nothing. how is that not an act of evil. negligence.


I assume you're still talking about the spread of dhamma. The thing is dhamma is not something that you can actively 'spread' to people. Try telling people who have had no experience of Buddhism, maybe they've lost their job, or gotten a terminal disease, try telling them it's ok, everything is impermanent, just meditate (of course I'm simplifying things for the sake of this argument), it's not going to work. Or even the average person in the street, try telling them renouncing and giving up things will make you happier, tell them their suffering comes from their desire, see how that works. There needs to be conditions that draw people to the dhamma.

On the other hand if you try to push it on people who aren't ready to receive it, it backfires. Say, if your first math question was something that was too difficult, you might decide then that maths is not for you, even though if taught properly you might be very good at it. Or if your first Chinese dish was something too exotic, you might think that Chinese food is not for you, even though if you were exposed to a different dish you might have liked it. It's something like that. If you push Buddhism on someone who's not ready, they might decide for good that Buddhism is not for them, even though if left alone they might have decided to accept Buddhism at some point.





i dont want buddhists to knock on peoples doors. i want buddhists to put up flyers and invite dhamma teachers to there community. maybe ask a retirement home if they would like to learn some metta meditation. or go to yoga studios and see if they would appreciate a guided meditation if they say no, no harm done.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby manas » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:00 pm

When the Buddha sent out that first group of arahant disciples, he was still physically present on earth. The dhamma-vinaya had just been thoroughly expounded by him, and it would have (still) been consistently grasped amongst different (arahant) individuals. Plus it was a time in India where social and spiritual conditions were ripe for that sort of thing.

But if we just decide to send ourselves out preaching, 1). we are not arahants, and thus are not free of defilements unlike the arahants the Buddha first sent out with that exhortation, who were; 2). 2500 years or so on, the dhamma-vinaya is now understood in many different ways, there is no longer the consistency that there was back then; 3). nowdays social and spiritual conditions are not the same as back then. If you just sit in a park somewhere and invite people to come and listen, people will either think you are a charlatan, or the police or council officers will eventually move you on. And if you go from door to door, well which one of us has not been irritated by that, when it was done to us by Christian missionaries?

Different time, different place. Let's not become like Christians who 'push' their religion onto others. Rather let us be of as much assistance as possible, making as much effort as possible to make the dhamma available for people, to explain it properly if asked about it (so, let's study the suttas thoroughly), and to assist and support those that can do these things (such as the bhikkhu / bhikkhuni sangha for eg).

That's my take on it, anyway.

:anjali:
The greatest warrior of all time turned out to be the most peaceful one.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby chownah » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:21 am

manasikara wrote:When the Buddha sent out that first group of arahant disciples, he was still physically present on earth.

manasikara,
I like your post but am wondering if you have a reference to support your view that the monks the Buddha urged to go out were arahants.....I thought he told this to all monks but I very well may be wrong.
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:20 am

chownah wrote:
manasikara wrote:When the Buddha sent out that first group of arahant disciples, he was still physically present on earth.

manasikara,
I like your post but am wondering if you have a reference to support your view that the monks the Buddha urged to go out were arahants.....I thought he told this to all monks but I very well may be wrong.
chownah


It is the case that he sent out arahants.

The Mahavagga, First Khandhaka. wrote:10.

Now fifty lay persons, friends of the venerable Yasa, belonging to the highest families in the country and to those next to the highest, heard, . . . . ( &c., as in chap. 9, §§ 1, 2, 3, 4, down to:). While they received exhortation and instruction from the Blessed One by discourse relating to the Dhamma, their minds became free from attachment to the world, and were released from the Âsavas.

At that time there were sixty-one Arahats in the world.
11.

1. And the Blessed One said to the Bhikkhus: 'I am delivered, O Bhikkhus, from all fetters, human and divine. You, O Bhikkhus, are also delivered from all fetters, human and divine. Go ye now, O Bhikkhus, and wander, for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, for the gain, and for the welfare of gods and men, Let not two of you go the same way1, Preach, O Bhikkhus, the doctrine which is glorious in the beginning, glorious in the middle, glorious at the end, in the spirit and in the letter; proclaim a consummate, perfect, and pure life of holiness. There are beings whose mental eyes are covered by scarcely any dust, but if the doctrine is not preached to them, they cannot attain salvation. They will understand the doctrine. And I will go also, O Bhikkhus, to Uruvelâ, to Senâninigama, in order to preach the doctrine.'
    "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: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Postby Dan74 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:53 am

I think it is very important to make the Dhamma available and it largely is. There are many centres in the West in particular and people come here to ask what flavour of the Dhamma/Dharma should they start practicing.

I also feel it is important to try to introduce some key aspects of the Dhamma into the popular culture which currently emphasizes consumerism, pleasure-seeking and self-gratification and well as power, control and strength. Key values such as introspection and the correct way of working with the mind leading to the understanding of dependent origination and the empty nature of the mind and phenomena, turning away from seeking happiness in the material goods and success, cultivating compassion, giving and other Paramis are very important to introduce to children early. Sometimes they will take, sometimes not, depending on the child's kamma and the mode of introduction of course. But when they do, they can make a world of difference.

I don't really buy into the argument that if people have the right kamma, they will come to the Dhamma. We've all come to the Dhamma, because other people have made an effort to make it available, to write books, to set up centres, etc etc.
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