Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

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Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby binocular » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:34 pm

I am aware that this is a delicate topic, but it does come up for some people:


A particular Buddhist group can excommunicate, renounce or otherwise reject particular people.

But who has the power to kick a person out of Buddhism altogether?

Can someone who is a practicing Buddhist rightfully say to another "You're not fit to have anything to do with Buddhism. Leave and never come back, not even in the privacy of your own mind!" ?

And if not, how come there is so much discord among people who claim to be Buddhists?
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:43 pm

binocular wrote:I am aware that this is a delicate topic, but it does come up for some people:


A particular Buddhist group can excommunicate, renounce or otherwise reject particular people.

But who has the power to kick a person out of Buddhism altogether?

Can someone who is a practicing Buddhist rightfully say to another "You're not fit to have anything to do with Buddhism. Leave and never come back, not even in the privacy of your own mind!" ?
No one, and no.

And if not, how come there is so much discord among people who claim to be Buddhists?
Opinions.
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: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby SDC » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:24 pm

What tilt said
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby SamBodhi » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:40 pm

I also agree with what tilt said. I want to adamantly support the first statement, "No one, and no." Absolutely no on has this power and unless it is of one's own volition, you can't be "banned" from Buddhism altogether.
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:53 pm

There is no central authority, so no one can expel buddhists from buddhism.

However, I think there is excomunication of troublesome monks. I remember the Buddha talking about killing someone "in this doctrine and discipline". He was talking about a monk who thought that a woman's touch was no different from a pillow's touch. The "killing" consists of stop talking to the troublesome monk. I think in this case that the monk changed his views and was welcomed back.

Off course, today only a subset of monks can excomunicate another monk. So it doesn't mean he is expelled from buddhism. He is excluded from that group alone.

I don't know the vinaya well, so this post is not very trustworthy.
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby Mkoll » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:23 pm

binocular wrote:Can someone who is a practicing Buddhist rightfully say to another "You're not fit to have anything to do with Buddhism. Leave and never come back, not even in the privacy of your own mind!" ?

No one can rightfully say this about anything to anyone.

binocular wrote:And if not, how come there is so much discord among people who claim to be Buddhists?

Clinging to views:

"Why is it, Master Kaccāna, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"

"It is, brahmin, because of adherence to lust for views, bondage [to it], fixation [on it], obsession [by it], holding firmly [to it], that ascetics fight with ascetics."
-AN I, 66; Ven. Bodhi's translation
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:48 pm

Everyone is at their own 'stage' of development along the Path. Thank goodness we have no pope or centralized authority, no organizing body that can excommunicate or issue punishments for apostasy.
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby Kare » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:54 pm

binocular wrote:
Can someone who is a practicing Buddhist rightfully say to another "You're not fit to have anything to do with Buddhism. Leave and never come back, not even in the privacy of your own mind!" ?



If I heard person A say this to person B, I would think that person A is usurping an authority that nobody has given him, that nobody can give him. I would find it rather difficult to take person A seriously as a practicing Buddhist after that.
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:57 pm

Well said, Kare! :smile:

with metta,
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby binocular » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:No one, and no.

Why not? - Some suggest this is because there is no centralized authority in Buddhism that could have so much power (compare the Catholic Church which has that kind of power over its members and other people).
Could there be any other reason?

I've met modern Buddhists who believe themselves to be on the level of the Buddha himself, and that their words are just as authoritative as if the Buddha himself would have spoken them.
If this is true, and since the Buddha himself was in the position to reject people (AN 4.111), then those modern Buddhists have that power too.


Opinions.

I understand that there is discord among, say, drug smugglers. Among butchers. Among prostitutes. Among terrorists. Among politicians.
But among Buddhists, of all people?!
On principle, Buddhists are the ones who are probably by far best equipped for dealing with diversity. So I'm at a loss here ...
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:02 am

binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:No one, and no.

Why not? - Some suggest this is because there is no centralized authority in Buddhism that could have so much power (compare the Catholic Church which has that kind of power over its members and other people).
Could there be any other reason?

I've met modern Buddhists who believe themselves to be on the level of the Buddha himself, and that their words are just as authoritative as if the Buddha himself would have spoken them.
If this is true, and since the Buddha himself was in the position to reject people (AN 4.111), then those modern Buddhists have that power too.


Opinions.

I understand that there is discord among, say, drug smugglers. Among butchers. Among prostitutes. Among terrorists. Among politicians.
But among Buddhists, of all people?!
On principle, Buddhists are the ones who are probably by far best equipped for dealing with diversity. So I'm at a loss here ...



I am not sure what is being asked. Are you wondering if anyone can be 'diagnosed' as not 'suitable' for Buddhism? Or not good enough? What do you mean by 'rejected'? It's obviously not a club that needs an application for membership that can be approved or rejected.

In the texts there is an occasional mention of people who are not yet karmically ready to 'take' Buddhism and this can of course be seen in the majority of the population. There are also others who take it the wrong way and construct a 'practice' that is a far cry from what the Buddha intended. Perhaps a master can point that out, I am not sure.
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby binocular » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:14 am

Dan74 wrote:I am not sure what is being asked. Are you wondering if anyone can be 'diagnosed' as not 'suitable' for Buddhism? Or not good enough?

Yes, things like that.

What do you mean by 'rejected'?

Excommunicated, blacklisted, declared as unfit.

It's obviously not a club that needs an application for membership that can be approved or rejected.

Many religions have a rather elitist, exclusivist nature. Even though officially, they may teach that their religion is meant for everyone, in practice, this is not always so. Sometimes, not even doctrinally so - remember how for a long time, blacks were by default not allowed into Mormonism, and how to this day, whites are not allowed into some Hindu temples. Or when older converts aren't considered real converts. Etc.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to find the same kind of exclusivism in Buddhism too.
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:19 am

binocular wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:No one, and no.

Why not? - Some suggest this is because there is no centralized authority in Buddhism that could have so much power (compare the Catholic Church which has that kind of power over its members and other people).
Could there be any other reason?

I've met modern Buddhists who believe themselves to be on the level of the Buddha himself, and that their words are just as authoritative as if the Buddha himself would have spoken them.
And you believed them? Why? I wouldn't.
If this is true, and since the Buddha himself was in the position to reject people (AN 4.111), then those modern Buddhists have that power too.
Fortunately, they are not the Buddha.


Opinions.

I understand that there is discord among, say, drug smugglers. Among butchers. Among prostitutes. Among terrorists. Among politicians.
But among Buddhists, of all people?!
On principle, Buddhists are the ones who are probably by far best equipped for dealing with diversity. So I'm at a loss here ...
You are making problems for yourself here by expecting things to be a certain way. Human beings are a messy lot, and even with something as wonderful as the Dhamma, you are going to get opinions. The question is what do you do with opinions.

I also think you are leaving a great unsaid here.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby binocular » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:And you believed them? Why? I wouldn't.

I didn't believe them, I just considered what they said.

If this is true, and since the Buddha himself was in the position to reject people (AN 4.111), then those modern Buddhists have that power too.
Fortunately, they are not the Buddha.

Hence it is so vitally important to hold that the historical Buddha is the highest instance for this time period until his dispensation disappears, and that revering him is justified and necessary.

Some modern views that try to demote the Buddha to the status of merely an "insightful person who said some wise things" are loaded with problems down the line.

I also think you are leaving a great unsaid here.

I have my doubts as to whether and/or how Buddhist organisations including Buddhist forums with their hierarchical structures and power relationships are adequate means for the Buddha's teachings.

A person who is in position of authority within a Buddhist organisation can declare something to be wrong, to be in discord with the Buddhadhamma, or can declare something to be right, to be in accord with the Buddhadhamma, and this person can do so even without providing any reference to to the Pali Canon or any other source.
And their claim stands - simply because it was made by a person who is in position of authority within a Buddhist organisation.
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:26 pm

The exclusivity of Buddhism is based on morality, concentration, and wisdom. Without these, one may well consider oneself to be a Buddhist, but one is not really following the Buddha's teaching:

  1. This Dhamma is for one who wants little, not for one who wants much (appicchassāyaṃ dhammo, nāyaṃ dhammo mahicchassa).
  2. This Dhamma is for the contented, not for the discontented (santuṭṭhassāyaṃ dhammo, nāyaṃ dhammo asantuṭṭhassa).
  3. This Dhamma is for the reclusive, not for one fond of society (pavivittassāyaṃ dhammo, nāyaṃ dhammo saṅgaṇikārāmassa).
  4. This Dhamma is for the energetic, not for the lazy (āraddhavīriyassāyaṃ dhammo, nāyaṃ dhammo kusītassa).
  5. This Dhamma is for one with well-established mindfulness, not for one of confused mindfulness (upaṭṭhitassatissāyaṃ dhammo, nāyaṃ dhammo muṭṭhassatissa).
  6. This Dhamma is for the composed, not for the uncomposed (samāhitassāyaṃ dhammo, nāyaṃ dhammo asamāhitassa).
  7. This Dhamma is for the wise, not for the unwise (paññavato ayaṃ dhammo, nāyaṃ dhammo duppaññassa).
  8. This Dhamma is for one who is free from impediments, not for one who delights in impediments (nippapañcārāmassāyaṃ dhammo nippapañcaratino, nāyaṃ dhammo papañcārāmassa papañcaratino).

(Gradual Sayings, iv. 227)
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby robertk » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:51 pm

King Bhimbisara was a great supporter of the Dhamma, and was also a sotapanna. He was murdered by his son Ajatasattu.
Yet the Buddha bore no grudge and taught the new king Dhamma. Now Ajatasattu is honored by all Buddhists for his sterling work in support of the first council.

Devadata tried to murder the Buddha and did all sorts of evil, yet he will become a paccekabuddha in the distant future: certainly not rejected from Buddhism..
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Re: Who can reject a person from Buddhism?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:40 pm

binocular wrote:A person who is in position of authority within a Buddhist organisation can declare something to be wrong, to be in discord with the Buddhadhamma, or can declare something to be right, to be in accord with the Buddhadhamma, and this person can do so even without providing any reference to to the Pali Canon or any other source.
And their claim stands - simply because it was made by a person who is in position of authority within a Buddhist organisation.


Their claim stands, but you don't have to accept it.

As for monks and nuns, they can still be disrobed as far as I know. The parajika offenses, for example will get a monastic disrobed. There was an American-born Vajrayana lama who openly had a mistress and I believe the Dalai Lama disavowed him and does not consider him to be a lama anymore. However, as far as I know this "lama" still has a center and some supporters. But those who know the Dhamma/Dharma can still refuse to accept him or his teachings.
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