Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

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Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby Tex » Wed Jul 01, 2009 4:59 pm

I would assume that fiction would fall under "entertainment" (please correct if I'm mistaken), but what about non-fiction, like a book about the neurology of the brain or a psychology or history book? Basically, do monks study anything outside of Buddhist scriptures, commentaries, etc?
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:28 pm

A number of monks have had phd's so i assume so
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby appicchato » Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:44 pm

Sure... :reading:
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:29 am

Greetings bhante,

To rephrase the original question then, is there anything you aren't allowed to read, or anything that you could read but wouldn't be viewed favourably by others?

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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby appicchato » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:18 am

Hi Paul,

I'm not aware of any outright banned reading material, if such an animal exists...with reference to material viewed unfavorably by others, I think it would depend on where you are...for instance a monk reading a comic book in the Caucasian world (America, Australia, Europe) would probably raise an eyebrow or two, but not here in Thailand...I'm trying to think of another example but unable to come up with one at the moment..maybe you've got one or two?...and I could comment...

Be well... :smile:
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:00 am

Greetings bhante,

appicchato wrote:I'm trying to think of another example but unable to come up with one at the moment..maybe you've got one or two?...and I could comment...


I assume for example that Playboy would be a no-no!

Metta,
Paul. :)
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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby Demarous » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:16 am

:rofl:
"Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart."
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby appicchato » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:I assume for example that Playboy would be a no-no!

I think you could safely say that...
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:25 am

Hi Bhante
What about novels that are read for recreation, such as 'Pride and Prejudice', or crime/thrillers?
My impression was that novels would constitute a form of entertainment that is prohibited by the Vinaya.
But then, I could be completely wrong.
Metta

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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby appicchato » Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:04 am

Ben wrote:My impression was that novels would constitute a form of entertainment that is prohibited by the Vinaya.

Hi Ben,

I wouldn't disagree with you...although prohibited is pretty strong (for me)...unskilfull maybe...I've always been a non-fiction kinda guy myself so for the most part I read to be informed...not necessarily entertained...even before ordaining...

Please take my view with a grain of salt...although Caucasian (American) I've been in Thailand for more than thirty years, and in that time have not really mixed with other Caucasians that much, so can't really comment on it from that perspective...Thai people, in general, do not read, period...adults might catch the newspaper and teenagers get stuck in comics but that's the extent of reading for them...again, generally speaking...

I've read that the Dalai Lama has a pretty broad range of reading under his belt, not all Buddhist oriented...same for Ajahn Brahm, and Thanissaro Bikkhu...to name just a few...

Funny, I don't feel like I've really said anything here...I guess we just have to use our own good judgement (and try to be as skillful as possible) on the issue... :reading:
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:11 pm

retrofuturist wrote:I assume for example that Playboy would be a no-no!

"I only read it for the articles!"
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby genkaku » Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:16 am

I don't know the exact prescriptions or proscriptions monks and nuns embrace, but a couple of things occur to me:

1. Monks and nuns join whatever order they choose not because they are somehow immune from or want to be inoculated against the greed, anger and ignorance anyone might enjoy, but because they see it as an effective means of addressing that greed, anger and ignorance.

2. Entering a monastic frame of reference is not like applying a filter on your computer in order to assure your kid won't see porn. Robes and rituals don't confer immunity. If, in fact, a monastic life could somehow hold greed, anger and ignorance at bay, what usefulness would a monastic life confer. Wouldn't this just be a scaredy-cat sort of existence, a clinging to outward appearances while the heart went begging?

3. Greed, anger and ignorance are not just some philosophical or religious folderol. They are the way of the world. They are my way. Likewise monks and nuns are not plaster saints. They may be worthy of our gratitude, but there is a difference between offering our gratitude and creating stiff-necked ninnies who are gooder than good. What is anyone's purpose in spiritual life? Isn't it, more or less, to move freely and peaceably and with some understanding in a world blessed with endless greed, anger and ignorance? And isn't it to examine -- not just excoriate or hold at bay or name from some exalted place -- the way things actually are? To move freely and without fear ... isn't that about what any sane man or woman might hope for?

Read? Unless someone is illiterate, of course they can read...and read anything they choose. Naughty or nice is not what lies between the covers of a book, it is just what lies in this mind.

As I say, I know nothing of the monastic framework and stand ready to accept correction from appicchato or any other person with experience.

But obviously I decided to blow off some steam in the meantime. :smile:
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby appicchato » Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:26 am

genkaku wrote:Naughty or nice is not what lies between the covers of a book, it is just what lies in this mind.

:thumbsup:
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jul 04, 2009 3:21 am

Greetings,

Whilst I agree with what is quoted in the above post, I think it's also important to remember that the Buddha taught sense restraint for those whose minds are not yet fully freed of the taints.

By way of example...

SN 35.127: Bharadvaja Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Can monks read non-Buddhist books?

Postby Guy » Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:03 am

Ajahn Brahm says that he reads the comics in the newspaper sometimes.
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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