urban buddhist monk

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urban buddhist monk

Postby PadmaPhala » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:51 pm

possible within Theravada?
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby cooran » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:56 pm

Hello PadmaPhala,

Could you put forward a paragraph or so on your thoughts on this to start the topic please? DhammaWheel is a discussion forum not a one-liner like twitter.

Kind regards,
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby chownah » Tue Jun 25, 2013 3:10 am

I would classify Bangkok as being urban and it is chock full of monks so I guess the answer to your inquiry is "yes" emphatically!
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby appicchato » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:41 am

+1 :coffee:
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby StephenR » Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:46 am

if this thread is still alive I would like to continue with it...

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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby Mkoll » Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:52 am

StephenR wrote:if this thread is still alive I would like to continue with it...

Stephen

Looks like it died before it really got started over a year ago. You've rebirthed it and it looks like it might follow the same path yet again, unless someone posts something more substantial than two sentences...

:jumping:
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby daverupa » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:28 am

I think the main shape of this thread is probably going to be along the lines of what sort of effort can be made to make modern living more conducive to Dhamma.

Monastic living is taken as the summum bonum of this, and modern living is seen as better in some ways, worse in others, when compared with the lay lifestyles of yester-year. In any event, most layfolk strive to integrate the Dhamma into their livelihoods.

So! What sorts of shapes does an 'urban monastic livelihood' take? I would venture that it's a subtle shift of emphasis from the above, to wit:

"How do we integrate livelihood into our Dhamma practice?"

In this sense, Dhamma is the priority, just as it is for monastics, but for A-Z reasons ordination cannot occur.

:thinking:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby purist_andrew » Sat Jun 07, 2014 6:21 pm

I live just feet outside New York City and there is a Theravada temple there with bhikkhus. I have even seen them riding the city bus numerous times in full robe dress. I imagine the noise could be disturbing but they are well versed in meditation practice nonetheless.

In fact, they hold many weekend retreats, events and teachings with monks from other centers. Also, not long ago, Bhikkhu Bodhi resided there for months, perhaps even years at a time working on various projects. He still visits to lead weekly services with the resident monks and laity from time to time.
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby Feathers » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:38 pm

Wasn't there a story about Ajahn Chah visiting London, encountering some hostile / violent local, and declaring he would send all his monks to London for training - that it was a real test of equanimity? I may be remembering, I googled to try and find a source and couldn't, but it sticks in my head for some reason . . .

If there is a community to provide food, accommodation and transport, I don't see why monastics shouldn't thrive in cities - and be of service to a great many people, as it will probably make it easier for more people to get to talks and retreats, compared to having to go into the middle of the countryside (let along another country).
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:58 pm

I read this differently;
I'm wondering whether what the OP intended was actually this:

Can an unordained man (as 'monk' is the operative word) live a life as closely to an ordained life as possible, but outside of a monastery, in an urban situation?

I would say yes, to a point, because in any urban situation, at one point or another, the handling of money will be both essential and vital....
However, in most other ways, I think there would be little difficulty in living an ascetic life....
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby Mkoll » Sat Jun 07, 2014 11:30 pm

Feathers wrote:Wasn't there a story about Ajahn Chah visiting London, encountering some hostile / violent local, and declaring he would send all his monks to London for training - that it was a real test of equanimity? I may be remembering, I googled to try and find a source and couldn't, but it sticks in my head for some reason . . .

Based on similar stories, it sounds like something Ajahn Chah would do to teach his pupils!
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby No_Mind » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:21 am

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:I read this differently;
I'm wondering whether what the OP intended was actually this:

Can an unordained man (as 'monk' is the operative word) live a life as closely to an ordained life as possible, but outside of a monastery, in an urban situation?

I would say yes, to a point, because in any urban situation, at one point or another, the handling of money will be both essential and vital....
However, in most other ways, I think there would be little difficulty in living an ascetic life....


I have toyed with the idea of living with ten precepts at my home. But eating once a day is quite impossible while working full time (except for few like General Stanley McChrystal).

Completely forsaking all entertainment is also difficult. I love Sinatra, Perry Como, Elvis, Bee Gees, Springsteen, Credence Clearwater Revival. Cannot imagine life without listening to their voice. Cannot imagine life without Breaking Bad and House MD also. Cannot imagine life without Blue Danube and Beethoven's Ode To Joy.

So no it is not possible to be an urban monk except in short spells of a month. Maybe a rare person here and there can. But over long time such a reclusive life while living amidst few million people will cause mental problems unless the person had schizoid, loner tendencies to begin with and was in some way mentally abnormal.
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby StephenR » Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:21 am

Well, there are certainly many different views on this subject.

What I personally mean by being an urban monk, is that while I live in the city, partake of its various pleasures, I follow the dharma as it unfolds in my heart.
There are a few older practitioners in my neighborhood who live a similar lifestyle, none of us sit with any group now, we meet when it happens on the street,
rather like joining an online community and "connecting" with someone. The Buddha, I have heard, said that it would be better to travel and meditate alone than
to keep company with others who do not share one's view. So it seems that as I age there are fewer and fewer people whom I meet that I can talk with.

Perhaps that is being friendly without clinging...:-)

There are so many ways to be involved with the dharma, so many views...I view my monastery as the city where I Iive, unattached to anyone, friendly to all.

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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby Mkoll » Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:41 am

StephenR wrote:The Buddha, I have heard, said that it would be better to travel and meditate alone than to keep company with others who do not share one's view.

Yes, see the Rhinocerous Horn Sutta.
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:55 pm

Quite by chance, I found this article.
I will immediately state that he concurs that not everyone can do as he has done... but it's very interesting....
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby No_Mind » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:40 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:Quite by chance, I found this article.
I will immediately state that he concurs that not everyone can do as he has done... but it's very interesting....


Excellent article. But his path consists of turning away from what he dislikes. That is an incorrect way to approach it. His inspiration, Gandhi, often lived in palatial homes of his followers and benefactors (though never enjoying the luxury they provided) right in middle of what he sought to prevent.

When riots broke out in Calcutta following India's independence from Great Britain, Gandhi sat almost in middle of the riot, and fasted, till rioteers stopped. This fast was one of the most stunning demonstrations of the moral power for which he was justly famous. As Lord Mountbatten, then Governor-General of India, wrote to him "In the Punjab we have 55,000 soldiers and large scale rioting on our hands. In Bengal our forces consist of one man, and there is no rioting."

It is very hard to follow Gandhi, in real life. I have tried and failed. For example, in India greasing the palm is very normal. Buddhism does not forbid bribing (if the bribing is not towards an unholy end but to get what is due to one naturally). Gandhi would never allow bribing. He would ask his followers to gently persuade the bribe taker into seeing the folly of their ways (which is really tough; and exponentially tougher than living like a monk in the city). It is one thing to turn away and avoid the evil doer and quite another to gently persuade the evil doer to listen to his conscience and change into a better person.

Gandhi is the only modern person I have found who is very close to (historical) Jesus.

btw - The film "Gandhi" which is quoted in the article tried its best but it is not fully accurate. Fitting 50 years of political life into 3 hours is well nigh impossible. But it does give a reasonably good synopsis though.
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby Anagarika » Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:08 am

PadmaPhala wrote:possible within Theravada?


Absolutely possible for a good Vinaya Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni. And good and necessary for the city as well.
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby appicchato » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:53 am

Buddhism does not forbid bribing (if the bribing is not towards an unholy end but to get what is due to one naturally).


Huh?...(used to invite further comment, or to express a lack of understanding)...
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:59 am

appicchato wrote:
Buddhism does not forbid bribing (if the bribing is not towards an unholy end but to get what is due to one naturally).


Huh?...(used to invite further comment, or to express a lack of understanding)...


I'm glad you said that.... I wasn't sure about this, but it didn't sound right to me either.....
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: urban buddhist monk

Postby No_Mind » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:33 am

appicchato wrote:
Buddhism does not forbid bribing (if the bribing is not towards an unholy end but to get what is due to one naturally).


Huh?...(used to invite further comment, or to express a lack of understanding)...


I quite understand your surprise. But let me try and elaborate with two prong explanation -

1 ) An Indian Bhante had told me (rightly or wrongly) that precepts cannot override custom unless performing that act is grave mistake. Such as (he had said) many tribals in North East India (where he is from) have small glasses of home brewed toddy (palm wine) with same frequency as we have tea or coffee. They greet guests with toddy, when they get depressed they have toddy, when they are elated they have toddy, when they are stressed they have toddy, when they are relaxed they have toddy. It is the custom.

They have been doing so for centuries, perhaps for millennia. If these tribals convert to Buddhism they cannot be expected to follow the Fifth Precept. According to the Bhante, these people will be reborn in a way that allows them to maintain all precepts if they adhere to whatever precepts they can in this life. He also said that First Precept says do not kill animals, but almost no Buddhist nation is vegetarian. So the precepts are guideposts and not binding for lay people.

Now I have no clue if this is correct or not. Don't shoot the messenger. I maintain the Five Precepts to the best of my ability.

2 ) When you tangle with government bureaucracy in a developing nation you are expected to grease the palm. Otherwise nothing will get done. Let us say you want to build a house and the municipality is expected to approve the design (design done by a licensed architect). If you do not grease palm then your building plan will not be approved. There is no way around it (only where government is concerned). Since in such cases bribery is a "victim less crime" is there any thing which forbids it in Buddhism. Not as far as I understand. Will I not pay ransom if my child was kidnapped? In same way will I not pay bribe if construction of my house was stalled?

Whether bribery can be eradicated by joint and collective effort etc etc is a bigger, broader discussion that is not a part of this Forum. But it is no way a major departure from Right Action.

Let me stick my neck out a little bit. In England healthcare is nationalized. No one has to worry about falling ill. In US burden of medical cost is tremendous. Elderly people in US buy prescription medicine from Canada and it is not legal. Does it break Buddhist precepts or Eight Fold Path. I do not think so.

In same way I do not think bribery for non violent non criminal reasons is a substantial departure from Eight Fold Path.

Not entirely relevant - it is very easy to be the perfect Buddhist, perfect Christian, perfect Gandhian in a nation like Finland where there are plentiful jobs, free education, free healthcare, great social security, unending unemployment benefits, no corruption (there is 10% unemployment but the unemployment benefits more than make up for any financial loss).

Imagine it this way - A Brit or a Finn only worries if a near and dear one is going to live or die if they have cancer; an American or an Indian has to worry if they will live or die and if the difference between living and dying is bankruptcy (basis of Breaking Bad). Obviously the Brit will do better at work and meditation because they are not plagued by worry of ill health of family members all the time.

It is difficult to maintain such a pure, innocent, unblemished life in Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Syria (last 4 years).

Whether you are able to maintain a pristine life depends on a lot of external factors does it not.


P.S to next comment by NoBSBuddhist - my knowledge of British NHS comes mainly from internet and Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko". I maybe wrong. But I heard you guys do not have to worry about falling ill in same way as we and Americans do.
Last edited by No_Mind on Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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