Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:07 am

What brings me back to "often because of the personality and charisma of the Lama". Is it really needed to feed the desire of people? I mean, actually most do not really seek for the teachings of the Buddha when joining a community. Think on origami coures, how many go there just to learn origami techniques?
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby DAWN » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:12 am

Hanzze wrote:What brings me back to "often because of the personality and charisma of the Lama". Is it really needed to feed the desire of people? I mean, actually most do not really seek for the teachings of the Buddha when joining a community. Think on origami coures, how many go there just to learn origami techniques?

:) :namaste:
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:38 am

A short story which might make the different more understandable as well it might inspirate to rethink some things.

Parabel Mahayana (modern) – Theravada (conservative)
„As the Theravada and the Mahayana are both stages in the development of Buddhism, both are addressed to all individuals, so we can’t distinguish between them in this respect. At the same time, there is a difference, which will perhaps become clear with the help of a parable.

Let’s suppose that there is famine somewhere, a terrible famine of the kind that still happens in Africa. People are gaunt and emaciated, and there is terrible suffering. In a certain town in the country which has been struck by this famine there live two man, one old, one young who each has an enormous quantity of grain, easy enough to feed all the people. The old man puts outside his front door a notice which reads: “Whoever comes will be given food.” But after that statement there follows a long list of conditions and rules. If people want food they must come at a certain time, on the very minute. They must with them receptacles of certain shape and size. And holding these receptacles in a certain way, they must ask the old man for food in certain set phrases which are to be spoken in an archaic language. Not many people see the notice, for the old man lives in an out-of-the-way street; and of those who see it, a few come for food and receive it, but others are put off by the long list of rules… When the old man is asked why he imposes so many rules, he says “That’s how it was in my grandfather’s time whenever there was a famine. What was good enough for him is certainly good enough for me. Who am I to change things?” He adds that if people really want food they will observe any number of rules to get it. If they won’t observe the rules they can’t really be hungry. Meanwhile the young man takes a great sack of grain on his back and goes from door to door giving it out. As soon as one sack is empty, he rushes home for another one. In this way he gives out a great deal of grain all over the town. He gives it to everyone who asks. He’s so keen to feed the people that he doesn’t mind going into the poorest, darkest and dirtiest of hovels. He doesn’t mind going to places where respectable people don’t usually venture. The only thought in his head is that nobody should be allowed to starve. Some people say that he’s a busybody, others that he takes too much on himself. Some people go so far as to say that he’s interfering with the law of karma. Others complain that a lot of gain is wasted, because people take more than they really need. The young man doesn’t care about any of this. He says it’s better that some grain is wasted than that anyone should starve to death. One day the young man happens to pass by the old man’s house. The old man is sitting outside peacefully smoking his pipe, because it isn’t yet time to hand out grain. He says to the young man as he hurries past, “You look tired. Why don’t take it easy?” The young man replies, rather breathlessly, “I can’t. There are still lots of people who haven’t been fed.” The old man shakes his head wonderingly. “Let them come to you! Why should you go dashing off to them?” But the young man, impatient to be on his way, says, “They’re too weak to come to me. They can’t even walk. If I don’t go to them they’ll die.” “That’s too bad,” said the old man. “They should have come earlier, when they were stronger. If they didn’t think ahead that’s their fault.” But by this time the young man is out of earshot, already on his way home for another sack. The old man rises and pins another notice beside the first one. The notice read: “Rules for reading the rules.” No doubt you’ve already guessed the meaning of the parable. The old man is the Arhat, representing Southern Buddhism, and the young man is a Bodhisattva, representing the Mahayana. The famine is the human predicament, the people of the town are all living beings, and the gain is the Dharma, the teaching. Just as in principle both the old and the young man are willing to give out gain to everybody, so in principle both the Theravada and the Mahayana are universal, meant for all. But in practice we find that the Theravada imposes certain conditions. To practice Buddhism within the Theravada tradition, even today, if you’re taking it at all seriously, you must leave home and become a monk or nun. You must live exactly as the monks and nuns lived in India in the Buddha’s time. And you mustn’t change anything. The Mahayana doesn’t impose any such conditions. It makes the Dharma available to people as they are and where they are, because it is concerned solely with essentials. It’s concerned with getting the grain to the people, not with any particular manner in which this is be done. The Theravada expects people to come to it, so to speak, but the Mahayana goes out to them. This difference between the Theravada and the Mahayana goes back to the early days of Buddhist history. About a hundred years after the Buddha’s death, his disciples disagreed about certain issues so strongly that the spiritual community was split in two. Indeed, they disagreed about the very nature of Buddhism itself. One group of disciples held that Buddhism was simply what Buddha said. The Four Noble Truth, the Eightfold Path, the Twelve Links or chain of conditioned co-production, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness – this was Buddhism. But the other group responsed that this was not enough. Yes, all of these teachings did part of Buddhism, but the example of Buddha’s life could not be ignored. The Buddha’s teaching revealed his wisdom, but his life revealed his compassion, and both together made up Buddhism.”

transcripted from „The Seeker’s Glossary of Buddhism“ edit by the Van Hien Study Group
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby gavesako » Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:32 pm

In Thailand several monks from the forest tradition have been more socially engaged and saw it necessary to get the laypeople from big cities to come out into nature, so they organize various environmental activities like tree planting, etc. and also lead groups of laypeople on walks through the wilderness or national parks.

One of the leading environmentalist monks is Ajahn Paisal Visalo from Wat Pah Sugato:

The close relationship between Buddhist teachings and nature is very special to me – not just as a Buddhist monk, but also as a social activist. I’m involved with many social activities concerning human rights, peace, non-violence and forest conservation. I find that to sustain those activities, we need a solid foundation. We need strong and deep roots. It’s like a tree. A tree can grow tall and spread its branches only when its roots are deep enough, or expansive enough.

We can all learn from plants, even small shrubs. Last year, I organised a spiritual green walk-athon called ``Dharma-yatra'', which involved trekking through several hillside communities in the Phu Khong area of Chaiyaphum province in northeastern Thailand. For seven full days we had to trudge along under a scorching sun. Everyone was feeling hot and tired and our party was close to total disarray.

At one point we walked by a small shrub. Diminutive and fragile-looking, it had sprouted up right by the side of the road. The intriguing thing about it was its bright red flowers. Despite the sweltering heat, the flowers had turned to dire
ctly face the sun, their petals fully open, almost as if they were greeting it with a smile. Seeing that, we all felt suddenly refreshed. If those dainty blooms weren't afraid of the sun, how should we be?

Plants have the ability to transform sunlight into shade. And they are great teachers, too; there are so many things to be learned from them. When we humans have problems, we should try to emulate plants -- to turn hurdles into lessons, suffering into happiness.


http://www.visalo.org/englishArticles/templeSchool.htm

Phu Long is the rain catchment forest of the Lampathao River, the lifeblood of countless communities downstream. It used to be one of the most fertile rainforests in the region, but the government's logging concessions and its policy to expand farmland on the frontiers have caused massive forest destruction here and elsewhere.

Over the past few decades, the Phu Long forest has recovered significantly, thanks to a strong Phu Long forest conservation movement led by Buddhist monks and nuns. For the past decade, Phra Paisal Visalo, a reformist monk and abbot of the Phu Long forest monastery, has been organising Dharmayatra, a religious pilgrimage to cultivate forest conservation awareness, leading to a community network to safeguard Phu Long.

The forest guards need help. They need sneakers to do their forest patrol because combat shoes are too heavy and make too much noise on dry leaves, which alerts the poachers.

They also need binoculars and digital cameras. It helps to be able spot poachers from afar, and since the forest guards often cannot get close to them, it helps to have their pictures so they can be arrested in the future.


http://www.visalo.org/DhammaWalk/article005.htm

http://www.suanmokkh.org/ds/dy/index.htm

http://www.visalo.org/englishArticles/B ... arming.htm

http://www.visalo.org/englishArticles/B ... ngaged.htm


True happiness cannot be bought. It is something we have to cultivate ourselves. There is a Chinese saying that "if you want three hours of ecstasy, try gambling. For three weeks of rapture, go traveling. For three months of bliss, get married. Build a new house, and you will enjoy three years of heaven. But if you want a true and lasting happiness, grow and live with trees." Growing trees make us happy not only when we see them blossom and give us fruits and shades. We already experience the feeling of joy the moment we put the seeds into the soil, pour the water over it, till and take care of the land constantly. As the seeds grow into saplings, and eventually bigger trees, so does our sense of happiness. Those who have spent time living in the midst of nature know how what seems to be a life of monotony is indeed a blessed one, brought about by innate peace and tranquility.

To have a chance to grow trees, to take care of the environment, to become a part of nature, that is, to me, real happiness. And we should not be just the beneficiaries; we should also take an active role in the nurturing of our surrounding. Nowadays, such opportunity has become few and far between: the wild woods have been continuously shrinking. We need thus to join hands in bringing them back. That is the beginning of growing happiness by our own hands.

At the same time, what is no less important is to take care of "a tree" in our own heart. When that flourishes, so will our peace of mind. The question is: how is the tree faring? Is it growing healthily? Or has it been withering away? How much are we attending to this tree in our own mind? Most may not realise that there is ?a tree? inside each of us that needs looking after. We may not be aware at all if it is still alive, or is it wilting away? This is because we often spend little time with ourselves. Much of the time, we keep ourselves busy with things from the outside: friends, work, TVs, shopping, and so on. We think they are indispensable. We look outward to avoid the problems inside. The tree in our mind has been neglected. It becomes vulnerable to pest, weeds, and drought. But now is the time to go back and nurture our own tree.
That is not difficult at all. When we do something good, when we give something away or make someone happy, we are watering the tree inside us. We have been taught to believe that the more we possess, the happier we will be. Thus a number of people think happiness can be purchased; they run after things to fulfill their craving all the time. Few realise that the happiness gained from giving away is more profound, more refined; it waters the tree inside our mind. And when that grows, prospers, it will give the flowers, fruits, and shades _ an unsurpassable peace _ to us.

The Jit Arsa volunteer programmes have drawn a number of people [who volunteer on various projects]. Incidentally, many participants talked about the discovery of happiness in the process. At the end of a two-day tree-planting project, a lady confessed that she initially felt overwhelmed at the sight of the barren hills in front of the temple. She felt like she was just a clump of lowly grass. Having planted numerous trees, her spirit soared. She no longer felt like the grass. She now feels like the trees. The trees in their minds have grown. Just two days of working on something meaningful with other people has given her the energy. From the grass, she suddenly becomes the trees. It is so instant. It is up to us how we will grow, take care and nourish it.


http://www.visalo.org/englishArticles/GrowHappiness.htm


Another well-known monk who has been organizing walks in nature both in Thailand and in Canada combined with teaching meditation to large groups of laypeople and especially the young ones is Luang Por Viriyang:

http://www.willpowerinstitute.com/conte ... ation-2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcDnGBMrmII
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JO6JIuhtzhk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1h5UY2NqDs


And here is a group of laywomen (Savika) doing a similar tudong walk led by an monk:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp17FMYP7fE


And this is a monastery in Chiang Mai in natural surroundings with mountains where people can go to meditate:

http://vimuttidhamma.org/khunwang-2-january-2011
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

ajahnchah.org - Teachings of Ajahn Chah in many languages
Dhammatube - Videos on Buddhist practice
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:55 pm

"Great" to see such actions, it's just from what I have seen, that especial in south east asia it is a fact, that Buddhist Monks lead people to the forest, then the people are attracted by the forest (food, trees, land...), then they start to build first of all a Wat, then a street, then they start to sattle and after that another forset is gone.

As that is very good adjustable with doing merits while gaining material things as well, it has become a usuall way of benefiting both, ther religion and the economy.

The history of such action is as old as the hype of deforstration in Thailand (like in all other countries in SEA) and so far had no effects but leaded to much conflicts as well as many victims even under the monks.

The ordination of a tree: The Buddhist ecology movement in Thailand

It might be in some cases possible and good but in general it's a wise thing to remember: "When ever you have seen something beautiful, never, never, only talk about it."

There is planty of advangers industy for such "needs" and for sure no need to get involved as a Monk.

I guess we have also "good" samples of Buddhist tourism and destruction of the enviroment in the Himalaya for example. That is simply not a good idea.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby gavesako » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:42 pm

A nice video with Ajahn Paisal Visalo who explains how he helps wider society in his life:

New Heart New World
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8A4W_61Atg
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:35 am

Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Paribbajaka » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:47 am

Hanzze wrote:Why is there a recruiting of youth and coming to the temple seen as a need?


Put simply, a tradition that doesn't engage young people very quickly becomes a dead tradition.

In regards to the thread question, at least in my experience that hasn't been the case. It's important to note that of the various Buddhist traditions, Theravada is the closest to the product being sold as western Buddhism. I myself came to BUddhism through the Dhamma door of finding joy in a rational, low-mysticism high-pragmatism religion. I think most schools present themselves this way, but with Mahayana and Vajrayana, the further you progress the more clear it becomes that there is a rich tradition of Bodhisattvas and the like that don't always fit in with that rational Buddhist idea.

I was running a meditation group for twenty-somethings for a while. When I presented Buddhist texts to be read, the suttas always seemed to seem more believable than their Sanskrit counterparts, once again because they seem more rational and the Buddha himself sounds more like a real person.

I don't want to start any issues or disparage any other traditions, but for myself and many people I know, this was our reasoning for beginning to follow the Theravada.
May all beings be happy!
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Anagarika » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:39 pm

There has been some progress bringing meditation into classrooms for example. In this way, children are learning principles of mindfulness meditation (samatha-vipassana). http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-5 ... ag=twitter

Theravada can fulfill an important role in this mindfulness evolution by being the centerpoint for the Buddha's actual breath meditation training. The suttas that we are familiar with, ie Satipatthana, can be a great place to focus these teachings for children and young people. I do feel that contemporary Theravada teachers, such as Ven. Thanissaro, Ven Brahmavamso, can be especially helpful in bringing Theravada Dhamma via youtube to young people.
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby drifting cloud » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:12 pm

Speaking as a youth or at any rate as a "young adult" (20 something), I would have to say....no.
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Benjamin » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:34 pm

drifting cloud wrote:Speaking as a youth or at any rate as a "young adult" (20 something), I would have to say....no.



Same boat i'm in. I find that my following of the precepts, particularly regarding drugs and alcohol, is something that my fellow college students find fascinating. "I wish I could do that," is a common response I hear. Some things are just so commonplace that many take them up out of conformity. It's not that younger individuals are too "liberal" for Therevada, it's just that many don't know there is much of an acceptable alternative (again, speaking from the perspective of college life).
"Signatures can be very misleading."
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:44 pm

Not sure what qualifies as youth here but I'm 22 and I chose theravada because it seems to me to be the only tradition that an educated person would choose if they really want to follow the teaching of the historical Buddha. I don't think the tradition needs more Ajahn Brahmavamso's telling jokes, the tradition needs more Ajahn Brahmali's, that guy is probably the most sincere sounding bhikkhu I've ever listened to. Not that anything is wrong with Ven. Brahmavamso I just don't personally have much affinity for his style of presentation. But yeah, if it is the case that the Theravada tradition seems to be less capable of attracting young people it's because there aren't enough bhikkhu's out there who actually know how to inspire people, but being an inspiring orator isn't the job of monastics anyway. It could also be that young people just like all the neat mystical stuff found in mahayana and vajrayana. Maybe the idea of becoming a bodhisatta who's going to save the entire universe is just more appealing than becoming an unknown recluse off in an unimportant part of the world working to realize the end of all this aimless wandering. Maybe those traditions just seem cooler to peoples' imaginations and if that's the case, then so be it.

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"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:56 pm

Greetings,

polarbuddha101 wrote:Not sure what qualifies as youth here but I'm 22 and I chose theravada because it seems to me to be the only tradition that an educated person would choose if they really want to follow the teaching of the historical Buddha. I don't think the tradition needs more Ajahn Brahmavamso's telling jokes...

:clap:

I think Theravada will thrive if it is positioned as the "teaching of the historical Buddha"... and of all the existing traditions, it is best placed to do this, because it did not jettison the suttas once they created their own manuscripts.

However, there is also a lot of Theravada-baggage too ~ many things that the "conservative" factions will hold onto tenaciously, but aren't actually "teaching of the historical Buddha".... e.g. the peddling of Jataka Tales, rejecting bhikkhuni ordination, prioritisation of Abhidhamma and commentaries over the suttas, rites and rituals. These post-Buddha factors serve to compromise modern Theravada's biggest potential selling point.

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: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Benjamin » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:07 pm

Not that we're the holy indicator of how Therevada is doing or anything, but hasn't Dhamma Wheel been up on the rise with members and posts and such? Not specifically a comment regarding the youth but maybe a good indicator of overall interest.
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby Benjamin » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:15 pm

Also, seeing as I don't believe we have too many members younger than myself (19), I'd like to comment on the "youth" idea.

Speaking from a western context, I don't know too many individuals who had a great interest in any type of Buddhism before their later teens at the earliest. Maybe a question like this is better focused on countries where lay Buddhists are a majority, but in my experience all the Buddhist schools in the west have little influence on the youth at large. Not their fault, just the nature of the culture.
"Signatures can be very misleading."
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Re: Is Theravada too conservative for the youth?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:27 pm

Greetings,

Benjamin wrote:Maybe a question like this is better focused on countries where lay Buddhists are a majority, but in my experience all the Buddhist schools in the west have little influence on the youth at large. Not their fault, just the nature of the culture.

Yeah, that's a good point. I know for myself I would have been interested earlier if Buddhism wasn't a "religion". I used to be under the impression that religions necessarily all involved an unfounded belief in God(s) and discounted them on those grounds alone. As well as finding Christians pretty hypocritical, I think I was also influenced by Karl Marx's comment that "religion is the opium of the people".

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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