How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

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How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:11 am

Greetings,

Christopher::: asks... (originally asked @ viewtopic.php?f=13&t=93&start=60#p23018)

Christopher::: wrote:How are the views of Buddhadasa Bikkhu regarded these days, by Western Theravadins? My sense is many people's thinking has become more conservative in recent decades...


I figured this question warranted its own topic, and had the potential to derail the Theravada and Zen - a comparative analysis discussion.

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:27 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Christopher::: asks... (originally asked @ http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... =60#p23018)

Christopher::: wrote:How are the views of Buddhadasa Bikkhu regarded these days, by Western Theravadins? My sense is many people's thinking has become more conservative in recent decades...


Buddhadasa is an interesting read; not without interesting and useful things to say, though his political views are a bit strange. He has his acolytes among Westerners, but as many Westerners get a deeper understanding of the suttas and the Theravadin tradition as a whole, Buddhadasa's position is seen as highly idiosyncratic.

For myself, there are far better interpreters of the Dhamma, both Asian and Western. I would never take him as the last word on things Dhamma.
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.

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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:02 am

still dig him, theres a picture of him on my altar, and i recomend him to many people, mostly those comming from zen.

we westerners werent really his intended audence i dont think. his work seems to have been targeted towards thai buddhists whom many of which hold hindu like beliefs in souls and karma.

also he was teaching to laypeople things like emptiness which was a very radical thing to do as these teaching were thought to be only for monks.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:07 am

I'm not sure about the whole question. Who really cares what "modern Western Theravadins" think? What would that prove?

The contrast between Ajahn Buddhadasa and Ajahn Chah, to mention another Thai monk famous in the West, is interesting. [The following is based, in part, on comments from Ajahn Tiradhammo, so of course have a certain slant...]

Ajahn Buddhadasa produced books containing quite complex expositions of Dhamma, and this was one reason (as I understand it) why he became very popular with modern urban Thai people, as well as Westerners. On the other hand, he had relatively few actual students. It appears to me that his legacy is "intellectual" rather than "personal", though of course a large number of people did have the good fortune to hear his talks.

While some of Ajahn Chah's Dhamma talks have been preserved, they don't have the "intellectual" feel to them that Ajahn Buddhadasa's do. That simply wasn't his style. On the other hand Ajahn Chah left a vast legacy of students and monasteries in Thailand, and one of the few (perhaps the only) sustainable Monastic Western Theravada organisation.

So, in summary, I value some of Ajahn Buddhadasa's writings, but these may have a limited shelf life in the absence of a "Buddhadasa School".

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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby zerotime » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:26 am

finally his social views were right and visionary and our times are checking this.

At the other side, we cannot confuse style with basis. Buddhadasa was flexible in the explanation but very conservative in the doctrine. His emphasis in using the right meaning for the words and concepts shows this thing. He was not comfortable with the common and modern uses of many ideas in Dhamma.

I don't agree about Theravada today is closed to other dhamma thoughts. Precisely Theravada and Chan are sharing monastic communities. I ignore the importance of Buddhadasa in this interchange but historically for sure he has been a seed. So I suspect Buddhadasa today can be still more appreciated than before.

I agree with mikenz66, differences between Chah and Buddhadhasa can be only in style and legacy appearence. For the rest, both explain the same thing.

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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby PaulC » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:39 am

Ajahn Buddhadasa could be pretty dismissive towards earnest young Westerners, so that might partly explain why many gravitated to Ajahn Chah (who seems to have relished the challenge).

Though I guess Ajahn Poh (who was always a tad more "amenable" than Ajahn Buddhadasa) continues that legacy through the courses at Suan Mokh?

(Ajahn Buddhadasa still seems to be highly valued by well-educated Thais, judging by conversations with friends, as well as by the considerable numbers of his books in the bookshops, etc.)
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:50 pm

the thing with buddhadasa is while one day he may be replaced no one has yet been able to do it.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:14 pm

I find the most ardent and vocal proponents of new interpretations of scripture, interpretations which diverge wildly from traditional understanding, almost universally cite Ven. Buddhadasa as their source. Whether this was because Ven. Buddhadasa himself held these idiosyncratic views or because his teachings are easily misunderstood I do not know. Nevertheless, the result is if you cite this Venerable it will for me raise a red flag.
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby Individual » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:56 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Christopher::: asks... (originally asked @ http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... =60#p23018)

Christopher::: wrote:How are the views of Buddhadasa Bikkhu regarded these days, by Western Theravadins? My sense is many people's thinking has become more conservative in recent decades...


I figured this question warranted its own topic, and had the potential to derail the Theravada and Zen - a comparative analysis discussion.

Metta,
Retro. :)

I think it's obvious he's highly respected in western Buddhism. I'd be more interested in knowing what Asian monastics and "traditionalist" or "conservative" Buddhists might think of him.
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:44 pm

Peter wrote:I find the most ardent and vocal proponents of new interpretations of scripture, interpretations which diverge wildly from traditional understanding, almost universally cite Ven. Buddhadasa as their source. Whether this was because Ven. Buddhadasa himself held these idiosyncratic views or because his teachings are easily misunderstood I do not know. Nevertheless, the result is if you cite this Venerable it will for me raise a red flag.




Its not a misunderstanding of him



To call something a foundation of the Buddhist Teachings is only correct if firstly, it is a principle which aims at the extinction of Dukkha [2] and, secondly, it has a logic that one can see for oneself without having to believe others. These are the important constituents of a foundation.

The Buddha refused to have any dealing with those things which don't lead to the extinction of Dukkha. Take the question of whether or not there. is rebirth. What is reborn? How is it reborn? What is its kammic inheritance [3] ? These questions are not aimed at the extinction of Dukkha. That being so they are not Buddhist teaching and they are not connected with it. They do not lie in the sphere of Buddhism. Also, the one who asks about such matters has no choice but to indis­criminately believe the answer he's given, because the one who answers is not going to be able to produce any proofs, he's just going to speak according to his memory and feeling. The listener can't see for himself and so has to blindly believe "the other's words. Little by little the matter strays from Dhamma until it's something else altogether, unconnected with the extinction of Dukkha.
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:47 pm

As for my view of Ajahn i think he was a highly realized teacher and cut straight to the point of dukkha and its quenching in a clear way


For me he is one of the great teachers of Theravada Buddhism, along with Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho



metta
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:36 pm

Peter wrote:the result is if you cite this Venerable it will for me raise a red flag.

For example, some people cite this Venerable as part of their claim that the Buddha did not teach rebirth. Eventually these people make it on to my ignore list.
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:44 pm

Peter wrote:
Peter wrote:the result is if you cite this Venerable it will for me raise a red flag.

For example, some people cite this Venerable as part of their claim that the Buddha did not teach rebirth. Eventually these people make it on to my ignore list.



My post wasnt part of a rebirth denial it was to show how western buddhists arent misunderstanding Ajahn Buddhadasa in relation to traditional teachings. The quote i posted happens to be the best one that shows this



metta
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby christopher::: » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:54 pm

Hi everyone. Thanks for starting this thread, retro. Is it okay if i bring zerotime's post over as well? 'cause my question was specifically about this perspective here, which seems so different from the way many folks here view the ideas of Zen and Chan...

Its Buddhadasa Bikkhu's embrace of Chan ideas and teachers that surprised me. A careful look at the other thread shows that views of Zen/Chan seem more negative, nowadays, at least among many Western Theravadins posting online...

:namaste:

zerotime wrote:
When the Buddhist Teachings spread to China, the Chinese of those days were intelligent and wise enough to accept it, and there arose teachings such as those of Hui Neng and Huang­-Po in which explanations of mind and Dhamma, of Buddha, the Way and emptiness were extremely terse. There emerged the key sentence that mind, Buddha, Dhamma, the Way and emptiness are all just one thing. This one sentence is enough there is no need to say anything more. It is equivalent to all the scriptures.

Now that is a statement that particularly those of us studying and practising in the old style have no way at all of understanding. It might be beneficial for us to feel a little ashamed on this account. The Chinese went on to say that 'emptiness is by nature always present, but we don’t see it'. I may prove this by saying once again that at this moment everyone sitting here has a mind that is by nature empty but not only do you not see it but what's more, you will not accept that this is emptiness.

Huang Po scolded that this is to be like someone having a diamond attached to their forehead without knowing it, who goes searching all around the world or perhaps outside the world in hell, heaven or the Brahma worlds, making an offering of a penny and expecting to go to heaven and satisfy every desire. Not seeing that which is stuck to our forehead, we seek all around the world or if that's not enough in the other realms. So please, just for a while, look very closely to see what is there at your fore­head, and how to go about putting your hands on it.

When speaking of the way to take hold of the diamond the Chinese teachers spoke even more profoundly, "There's no need to do anything just be still and the mind will become empty by itself". This phrase "Just be still. There's no need to do anything" has many meanings. Our minds are naughty and playful. The mind wanders out of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body, gathering sense-objects, and having accepted them within, is stupid enough to allow the dhammas of ignorance to climb into the driver's seat', so that there is nothing but grasping and clinging to "I" and 'mine'. This is called being naughty, refusing to be still.

'Being still' means not admitting sense-objects into the mind but being content to let them founder like waves on the shore. For instance, when the eye sees a form, if there is merely seeing, then that is called not admitting visible forms into the mind and similarly with the other sense organs. If you can't do that and vedana, feeling of satisfaction and dissatisfaction arise, let it stop just there, don't allow desires based on those feelings to develop. If it stops there it's still possible to be still. But if we act to extend a feeling of satisfaction then in a moment the 'I' and 'mine' emerge. Or if we act in response to a feeling of dissatisfaction then there will be Dukkha. It is called not being still.

So the 'being still' of Hui Neng refers to that very practice that the Buddha taught, of seeing that nothing whatsoever should be grasped at or clung to as being 'I' or 'mine'. If there is nothing whatsoever to be clung to, what possible purpose can there be in busying and confusing ourselves, rushing about after the things that disturb, rather than just being still?

We must look for this emptiness that is truly worthy of our aspiration. To say that there is a kind of emptiness that gives rise to cessation, purity, clarity, and peace is still to be speaking in the realm of convention. Truly speaking, there is nothing other than emptiness, there is only this one thing. It is not the cause of anything else. It is Buddha, it is Dhamma, it is Sangha, it is the Way. It is purity, clarity, and peace. All these things are present in emptiness. If we still say that emptiness is the cause of this or that it shows that we haven't yet reached the supreme emptiness, because if we have reached the supreme then we don't have to do anything. By being still the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, purity, clarity, peace, Nibbana - everything will be present in that very immutable state.

An extremely simple method that Huang Po used to teach dull people how to recognize emptiness was to give them a riddle, 'Look at the mind of a child before its conception'. I would like to present all of you with this riddle. Look at the child's mind. Before it is conceived in the womb where is it? If you can find it you will easily be able to find emptiness, just as if taking hold of that which is already there at your forehead.

To sum up - this one subject of emptiness covers all of the Buddhist Teachings, for the Buddha breathed with emptiness. Emptiness is the theoretical knowledge, it is the practice and it is the fruit of the practice. If one studies one must study emptiness; if one practises it must be for the fruit of emptiness, and if one receives the fruit it must be emptiness, so that finally one attains that thing that is supremely desirable. There is nothing beyond emptiness. When it is realized, all problems end. It is not above, it is not below, it is not anywhere-I don't know what to say about it, better to shut up! Suffice it to say that emptiness is the supreme happiness.

HEART - WOOD FROM THE BO TREE
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BUDDHADASA BHIKKHU

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:57 pm

Craig,
Ajahn Buddhadasa wrote:Take the question of whether or not there is rebirth. ...

He doesn't go on to say "the Buddha taught that there is no rebirth", he goes on to say that it is not a useful question to ask.

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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby BlackBird » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:24 pm

If I may [ :soap: ] rebirth denial is starting to resemble a dead horse. It seems unlikely that any evidence is going to convince Craig, and likewise Craig I feel you're wasting precious time trying to bring others around to the idea that "We simply don't know" if indeed that's your idea - I'm sorry I don't know.

I know I jumped in all guns blazing - opinions at the ready, but that was a foolish mistake.
For the sake of harmony in this community, perhaps we should just let go.

[/ :soap: ]

Sorry guys :embarassed:

Have a good one.
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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:36 pm

BlackBird wrote:If I may [ :soap: ] rebirth denial is starting to resemble a dead horse. It seems unlikely that any evidence is going to convince Craig, and likewise Craig I feel you're wasting precious time trying to bring others around to the idea that "We simply don't know" if indeed that's your idea - I'm sorry I don't know.


Nicely said. For whatever reason this zealous rejection of rebirth and trying to convinces other to do the same that we have seen here and on other forums has been coming almost exclusively from Buddhadasa-ites.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby PaulC » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:06 pm

Craig, do you have a source for that quote on rebirth?

One thing that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is that much of Ajahn Buddhadasa's appeal, especially to students in the 70s, was as a result of his having embraced notions of "Buddhist Socialism" (not dissimilar to those of E.F. Schumacher, I think).

Donald Swearer's engagement with him also fostered a respect for Christian mysticism.

In respect to Zen ... As of 1983 I'm pretty sure the books on Hui Neng and Huang Po (in Thai translations) were the only two he'd read ...

Though I might be entirely wrong about this, my feeling about him was/is that he was basically a scholar monk, with a very solid anapanasati practice.

When I read his work I don't really get the feeling (as I do with Ajahn Chah) that direct realisation is leaping off the page at me.

But, as I say, that may be due to my not having been all that impressed with Ajahn Buddhadasa, personally.

And also, perhaps, to some degree due to my possible (mis-)conceptions as to how things should be with enlightened sages.

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Re: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:16 pm

Greetings,

To quote Buddhadasa Bhikkhu....

Now we come to the third question which they will ask: When there is no atta, then what is reborn? What or who is reborn? Forgive us for being forced to use crude language, but this question is absurd and crazy. In Buddhism, there is no point in asking such a thing. There is no place for it in Buddhism. If you ask what will be reborn next, that's the craziest, most insane question. If right here, right now, there is no soul, person, self, or atta, how could there be some "who" or "someone" that goes and gets reborn? So there is no way one can ask "who will be reborn?"Therefore, the rebirth of the same person does not occur. But the birth of different things is happening all the time. It happens often and continuously, but there is no rebirth. There is no such thing, in reality, as rebirth or reincarnation.


I don't see anything here that denies the kind of post-mortem continuance that the Buddha taught. This is just a stock-standard awareness of the Buddha's key anatta doctrine and that "If right here, right now, there is no soul, person, self, or atta, how could there be some "who" or "someone" that goes and gets reborn?". Rightly so.

Maybe somewhere Buddhadasa Bhikkhu did actually deny any form of post-mortem continuance, but I've yet to see it. I tend to think that sometimes people just grab a quote out of context (e.g. "There is no such thing, in reality, as rebirth or reincarnation.") and use that to push a different argument... either that there is no post-mortem continuance, or that Buddhadasa went against the teachings of the Buddha. I see nothing in the above quote that supports either of those views.

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: How are the views of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu regarded?

Postby Individual » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:44 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

To quote Buddhadasa Bhikkhu....

Now we come to the third question which they will ask: When there is no atta, then what is reborn? What or who is reborn? Forgive us for being forced to use crude language, but this question is absurd and crazy. In Buddhism, there is no point in asking such a thing. There is no place for it in Buddhism. If you ask what will be reborn next, that's the craziest, most insane question. If right here, right now, there is no soul, person, self, or atta, how could there be some "who" or "someone" that goes and gets reborn? So there is no way one can ask "who will be reborn?"Therefore, the rebirth of the same person does not occur. But the birth of different things is happening all the time. It happens often and continuously, but there is no rebirth. There is no such thing, in reality, as rebirth or reincarnation.


I don't see anything here that denies the kind of post-mortem continuance that the Buddha taught. This is just a stock-standard awareness of the Buddha's key anatta doctrine and that "If right here, right now, there is no soul, person, self, or atta, how could there be some "who" or "someone" that goes and gets reborn?". Rightly so.

Maybe somewhere Buddhadasa Bhikkhu did actually deny any form of post-mortem continuance, but I've yet to see it. I tend to think that sometimes people just grab a quote out of context (e.g. "There is no such thing, in reality, as rebirth or reincarnation.") and use that to push a different argument... either that there is no post-mortem continuance, or that Buddhadasa went against the teachings of the Buddha. I see nothing in the above quote that supports either of those views.

Metta,
Retro. :)

A long time ago, I remember reading Element quote Buddhadhasa as saying that the "gandhabba" mechanism of rebirth equates with the egg and sperm. I wouldn't say this is necessarily a denial of rebirth, but it doesn't seem to be the same kind of "post-mortem continuance," in any kind of Buddhism, including classical Theravada. Claiming there is a mystical gandhabba, which is not simply scientifically observable reality, whether it's like a floating spirit in Mahayana, or whatever Classical Theravada's notion of it is, leaves the door open for reincarnation-ish theories... which I think falls under the phrase "post-mortem continuance." That phrase seems like a synonym for reincarnation. There is continuance of causality, but not personality. But if causality is non-differentiated, how is it that anything is "born" at all, and causality isn't a process which exists outside of (being the basis for) time?
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