Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

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Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby James the Giant » Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:03 am

Why would a monastery keep their meditation hall locked?
This is Bodhivana Monastery, near Melbourne. My favourite monastery so far.
But one thing I never got a straight answer on, and I found it quite odd;
Why would they keep their hall locked? It's locked all the time, except when monks are using it, or when a lay-guest-resident who knows where the key is, is inside.
Even when people come to give the mid-day dana it is kept locked, and I heard one of the anagarikas say to a layperson that they couldn't go into the hall as it is kept locked.
So when people visit the monastery there is nowhere indoors to meditate.
All other monasteries I have visited have had open halls, which are generally only locked at night.
I was shown the key and also had my own kuti for meditation, so it didn't bother me, but I am very curious.

I asked two of the bhikkhus why; the senior bhikkhu said because there are a lot of criminals in the area, (in the rural Yarra valley?), and the other bhikkhu shrugged and changed the subject. It seemed like there was some subtext I was unaware of... not sure what it could be.

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Yana » Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:49 am

Hi,

It looks like a nice place.Will have to visit it soon!

Maybe they kept it locked because they just had a robbery or they are trying to protect it from people who might steal something.

Another reason might be because they are redecorating the insides.

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby pilgrim » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:00 am

Yea....I had the same experience many years ago on a visit. We came for dana, there were no monks around ( they were all in the kutis). The hall was locked and we could only peer inside through the glass doors. So we sat on the steps, in the cold, waiting to offer dana. Quite disappointing as we drove a long way. My guess is for security reasons as there was no one around the monastery until dana time.
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby barcsimalsi » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:57 am

What a wonderful place!
Sitting below the tree on the second pic will do for me.
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Sylvester » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:27 am

Hi James

Might that building actually be an ubosoth, with a sima dedicated to it? If it's not a plain old viharn (where laity are free to enter) but a formally dedicated ubosoth, I think Thai convention would dictate that access to the laity is not easily given.

Just a guess.
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:56 am

Hi Sylvester,

That's a good point. It's true that in a normal Thai situation there will be a separate ubosoth hall that will be more restricted than the other halls. However, our hall here (we only have one, this isn't Thailand...) does have sima (I helped to dig the holes for the stones...) and is open to the public from about 6am to 9pm. However, there is a lot more activity here than there would be deep on the Australian countryside...

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby James the Giant » Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:14 am

Sylvester wrote:Might that building actually be an ubosoth, with a sima dedicated to it? If it's not a plain old viharn (where laity are free to enter) but a formally dedicated ubosoth, I think Thai convention would dictate that access to the laity is not easily given.

Aha! Maybe that's it. Yes, it is an ubosoth, with sima stones buried around it.
Now I'm curious as to why the bhikkhus didn't just say that. There seems to be, amongst some bhikkhus, a reluctance to explain some things, even when asked directly why. I wonder if that's some vinaya rule or something.

Anyway, thanks Sylvester. I'm pretty sure that would be the main reason.
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:18 am

Hi James,
Possibly the lack of communication is a cultural thing.
Or maybe they didn't know enough English to be able to be able to answer.
kind regards,

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby cooran » Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:36 am

Hello all,

Dhammagiri Forest Monastery locks its meditation hall when no-one is using it. We used to find that, even though we are in a rural area a little outside of Brisbane, that the local evangelical christians used to come in and leave stacks of pamphletts on the altar. There is also the possibility of vandalism from fairly mobile delinquents in the nearby suburbs.

It is a simple matter, if one wants to meditate outside the set timetable, to do a weekend retreat or to have a chat with the monks or the committee members to get the Dhamma Hall unlocked at an arranged time. But I don't think casual drop-ins, unknown to the Sangha or practitioners would be accommodated - they'd be requested to come to one of the set-time meditation groups.
http://www.dhammagiri.org.au/

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:... does have sima (I helped to dig the holes for the stones...)


Oooh. Was it one of those fuss-free ceremonies, or the whole "fang roop nimit" (placing the rupanimitta of the sima) bang with loads of chanting? Did your wat opt for the 9th rupanimitta in the centre, in addition to the cardinals and ordinals?
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:35 am

Lots of chanting and I believe the Thai Ambassador helped to cut the rope for the ninth stone...

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:04 pm

Mere rope?! Horror of horrors! The traditionalists must have bemoaned not using rattan to hoist the stones.

I guess there was no mad scramble for the ropes after they were cut?
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby gavesako » Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:09 pm

Not all monasteries in the West follow this tradition of burying the sima stones, in England it was done simply and unceremoniously just by placing them around. But even if the building is then officially an Uposatha hall, it does not mean it should be locked. In Thailand they often keep some valuable Buddha statues and objects inside which could be stolen, that is why they lock it. In this case it might be the same, but I think that the abbot particularly cares about the collection of relics which is probably kept on the shrine and more valuable to him than all the gold...
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:07 pm

Sylvester wrote:Mere rope?! Horror of horrors! The traditionalists must have bemoaned not using rattan to hoist the stones.

I guess there was no mad scramble for the ropes after they were cut?

Well, yes, OK, I admit it. It was rattan. :tongue:
I have a short segment somewhere with my Buddha rupas...

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:32 am

Ha ha! Glad to see some old skool pomp and pageantry alive.
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:10 am

Yes, none of that stiff upper lip understatement here... No Sir!

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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Yana » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:05 am

James the Giant wrote:Why would a monastery keep their meditation hall locked?


Let's break in and find out :smile:
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:55 am

gavesako wrote:Not all monasteries in the West follow this tradition of burying the sima stones, in England it was done simply and unceremoniously just by placing them around.



Hi Bhante

Might you have been thinking of the Chithurst sima, as recorded here -

http://www.amaravati.org/documents/citt ... first.html
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby Sylvester » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:02 am

James the Giant wrote:Now I'm curious as to why the bhikkhus didn't just say that. There seems to be, amongst some bhikkhus, a reluctance to explain some things, even when asked directly why. I wonder if that's some vinaya rule or something.



Hi James

Ben is probably correct about the language gulf.

Alternatively, it might have stemmed from the monks' recognition of a cultural gulf. For some Thai monastics, the sima does not merely demarcate the space for Sangha business/acts. It is also viewed as demarcating "sacred" space, especially if rattan and stone spheres were involved in the creation of the sima. :tongue:

Perhaps they did not want to give this culturally-loaded explanation in a non-Thai setting?
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Re: Why would a monastery keep the meditation hall locked?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:15 am

Greetings,

James the Giant wrote:I asked two of the bhikkhus why; the senior bhikkhu said because there are a lot of criminals in the area, (in the rural Yarra valley?), and the other bhikkhu shrugged and changed the subject. It seemed like there was some subtext I was unaware of... not sure what it could be.

Maybe there's a deva in there they don't want you to disturb.

:|

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