Quick question about Buddhist Manners

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:25 am

appicchato wrote:If one is uncertain, a wai (anjali) and a smile will not steer you wrong.


Unless you're a Bangkok Buddhist schoolgirl whose parents have enrolled you in Assumption RC College. While at school the girls will be expected to behave like Catholics, which means no waiing to monks or Buddha statues. Whenever I walk past by Assumption on the way to my Abhidhamma classes the Buddhist pupils will look around to check if there are any Catholic nuns watching; if there are none then they will wai in the usual manner. If a nun is watching, they'll wai all the same, but to avoid a scolding they'll cunningly disguise it as a sneeze.
:jumping:

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:28 am

I once did a "wai" to a monk in Thailand who was actually just a samanera, and HE felt very embarrassed about it: he tried to stop me from doing it. So it is a subtle thing, one has to find out somehow where the other monk is at in terms of seniority.
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:02 am

gavesako wrote:I once did a "wai" to a monk in Thailand who was actually just a samanera, and HE felt very embarrassed about it: he tried to stop me from doing it. So it is a subtle thing, one has to find out somehow where the other monk is at in terms of seniority.

Hmm... Similarly, I've been scolded (nicely :)) for waiing Thai friends who are younger than me.

This is getting a little off topic, but as Ven Gavesako would well know the younger person is supposed to do it first, then I can return it...
In Thai culture, knowing where you are in the "pecking order" is important. More than once when I've met someone Thai the conversation has been:
"What's your name?"
"Mike"
"How old are you?"
...
I guess the Monastic equivalent question is "How many rains?"

Great story about the RC's Ven Dhammanando!

Perhaps getting slightly back on track, anyone who feels somehow aggrieved about not having their anjali returned by Theravada monks should remember that the King of Thailand doesn't get his bows returned either... :anjali:

Mike
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby appicchato » Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:18 am

mikenz66 wrote:In Thai culture, knowing where you are in the "pecking order" is important.


Exteeemly important...there are no 'equals'...everyone, repeat, everyone is either a 'pee' (senior/elder) or 'nong' (junior)...and all the baggage that goes along with it... :quote:
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:50 pm

retrofuturist wrote: Standard Buddhist conventions often go against the grain of cultural norms in the West, so I don't think it hurts to acknowledge the effort with a small nod or a smile.

Yes, that is all I meant and was referring to. And it could be beneficial in other ways too, for example, spreading Dhamma. The Buddha often used and spoke about skilful means:

At its best skilful means is a type of flexibility and sympathy. The Buddha said he would adapt his speech and even his appearance to be better able to teach the Dhamma to different types of people. ‘I remember well many assemblies of patricians, priests, householders, ascetics and gods…that I have attended. Before I sat with them, spoke to them or joined their conversation, I adopted their appearance and their speech whatever it might be and then I instructed them in Dhamma’ (D II.109).

Thus, I maintain, that it would be good or even great if the monks did use skilful means if living in the West and responded with a nod or smile (as long as there is no Vinaya rule against it). In the West, it is just common courtesy, just as if someone extended their arm to shake hands and you shake it back, even if you do not know them, answer requests for directions from strangers, etc. I'm not saying that in Thailand or another country they do not do that, but in the West it is considered impolite to not acknowledge (not placing a value judgment if that is correct or not just that this is the cultural norm) even if you are superior in rank, etc. It would be skilful means to acknowledge, which the Buddha did advocate.
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby Fede » Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:12 pm

I feel as if I inadvertently whacked a hornet's nest.....! :shock:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:34 pm

Okay, I'm confused :)

Firstly: What's a wai?
Secondly: What is the polite thing for a dude like me to do if I encounter someone wearing robes? I don't know what colours or styles represent... is it something I'd have to learn or is there a generic way to mark my respect to the Sangha without causing offence?
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:15 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Okay, I'm confused :)

Firstly: What's a wai?


It's the Thai word for a folded hand salute, called 'añjali' in Pali.

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http://forestwisdom.blogspot.com/2008/02/why-wai.html
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby gavesako » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:33 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
appicchato wrote:If one is uncertain, a wai (anjali) and a smile will not steer you wrong.


Unless you're a Bangkok Buddhist schoolgirl whose parents have enrolled you in Assumption RC College. While at school the girls will be expected to behave like Catholics, which means no waiing to monks or Buddha statues. Whenever I walk past by Assumption on the way to my Abhidhamma classes the Buddhist pupils will look around to check if there are any Catholic nuns watching; if there are none then they will wai in the usual manner. If a nun is watching, they'll wai all the same, but to avoid a scolding they'll cunningly disguise it as a sneeze.
:jumping:

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu



Here is Germany, you should see the polite Thai women when they leave the monastery: they slightly bow their head with a "wai" and then say, in German, "Tschüss!"

:lol:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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