Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

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Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby dhammafriend » Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:09 am

Hi al,l I thought the thread speculating about the possible Christianization of Thailand warrants a post on how to positively address the issues out in Asia that the Dhamma faces.

We all agree the real problems come from within. Dhamma can only really be destroyed by its followers. Below are some problems I can see.

One: Nationalism. Buddhists are trapped by their cultural interpretation of dhamma. So much so that it becomes nothing more than an ethnic religion and loses its universal applicability. Someone outside of Thailand has no use for spirit houses astrology etc. Buddhists of all ethnic backgrounds need to see themselves as part of a universal religion. (I don't think thats really happened as yet) Exposure to Buddhists from other lineages and regions might help here.

Two: Education. We lag behind virtually all the other major religions in terms of educating the layman on the basics of the faith. Sri Lanka has a Sunday school system which I think could work well if modified to other regions in SEA etc. People often expect Buddhist youth to absorb the faith via a sort of cultural osmosis, but this leaves way too much room for misunderstandings to spread. Which are then almost impossible to get rid of. Monastics should also get a basic minimum of knowledge about Dhamma. Sometimes they are the worse off in terms of Dhamma skills.

Three: Life skills. Community centers are needed where lay people can gain access to basic secular skills that can assist them in their daily lives. Workshops dealing with domestic issues, family planning, youth guidance etc. Poorer Buddhists often lack support in these areas.

Four: Sangha. Where to start!? We urgently need inspired monastics who are willing to teach the importance of Vinaya for the survival of the Sasana. Buddhism is only as good as its practitioners. Education drives to banish non-dhammic practices with the monasteries and temples. May temples virtually exist to cater to these things. Amulets, fortune telling etc. I am not against people practicing these things (to their own detriment) but they should be disassociated from practicing Buddhist communities. At the moment, Sangha in various countries are trading on superstitious practices for their survival, not even teaching 'Buddhism' much less Dhamma. Allow female monastics where the lineages have lapsed. They could be the perfect bridge to the laity that Buddhist societies need. This also leads back to the life skills issue, particularly women's rights to education, health care etc.

Please note I am well aware of suttas about impermanence, prophecies and counterfeit Dhamma. Some would say its all going to end anyway (buddhism, life, politics etc) so why bother. That was not the Buddhas attitude to other human beings or the Dhamma I think the suttas are very clear that he wanted the dhamma to last for as long as possible for the benefit of living beings. In a world of impermanence, he set in motion a movement that 2500 years later is still here. He didn't do it with magical powers, only through good-will, compassion and the wish to see others liberated from suffering.

If anyone has any other ideas or want to critique my ideas, please share here. Would love to here about them.

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For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby pilgrim » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:05 pm

One could also support monasteries and organisations doing good work in poor countries in Asia. Often, these are not well known in the international Buddhist community due to their low-key operations, language restrictions and lack of experience/knowledge in accessing international assistance. Following are a few examples:

http://www.mahabodhi.info/
http://ybsindia.org/
http://www.brelief.org/
http://www.babwo.org/
http://www.keap-net.org/index.htm
http://servelumbini.org/ ( http://www.lumbininuns.org/Sakyadhita_N ... lcome.html)
https://www.facebook.com/bec.organization
http://www.ddstripura.org/school_board.php
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby thelotuseffect » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:40 pm

I understand your worry. I think what turns people away are the unpleasant aspects that the buddha tells us to be very aware of. They sound negative and most people think it is just an austere strange view (i.e.: to be observant of the unpleasant instead of the pleasant). If you want to amass followers the Buddha say's to delight your listeners with a talk of divine attributes (like the virtues of devas) and the benefits of good conduct (precepts). Maybe people should be introduced to the Jataka Tales rather than the Dhammapada first? Hahaha I dont know. Just be careful. Christianity produces a lot of goodness, as long as they prodce goodness their increase (not decrease) can be expected ;)

Also, perhaps there is a "swapping" taking place. Maybe America will become Buddhist heavy? Swaps seem to happen quite a bit in the world. There are very few actual practicing Christians btw. Being Christian is like being a lobbyist or having a club card to a popular gym. What spreads Buddhism, I have found, is the quality of its inspiration based on practice.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/j1/j1040.htm
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby Shaswata_Panja » Sat Jan 18, 2014 7:18 pm

thelotuseffect wrote:I understand your worry. I think what turns people away are the unpleasant aspects that the buddha tells us to be very aware of. They sound negative and most people think it is just an austere strange view (i.e.: to be observant of the unpleasant instead of the pleasant). If you want to amass followers the Buddha say's to delight your listeners with a talk of divine attributes (like the virtues of devas) and the benefits of good conduct (precepts). Maybe people should be introduced to the Jataka Tales rather than the Dhammapada first? Hahaha I dont know. Just be careful. Christianity produces a lot of goodness, as long as they prodce goodness their increase (not decrease) can be expected ;)

Also, perhaps there is a "swapping" taking place. Maybe America will become Buddhist heavy? Swaps seem to happen quite a bit in the world. There are very few actual practicing Christians btw. Being Christian is like being a lobbyist or having a club card to a popular gym. What spreads Buddhism, I have found, is the quality of its inspiration based on practice.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/j1/j1040.htm



Christianity can produce a lot of goodness because it has been able to convert a huge part of the world and it is Christianity's good fortune that it has super-rich patrons numbering in tens of millions in the West...It can draw on a vast amount of resources in terms of money and manpower to execute impressive charity and cultural infiltration and "inculturation" projects (as a Buddhist you should look up the term--Christians routinely make an equivalence between Heaven and Nibbana and Kamma and sin to get to the not-so-educated Buddhists)....this in turn pulls in millions more into the fold of Christianity


The significance of rich patrons is as important now as was in the time of Buddha and early Buddhism..Buddhist monks are not Indian yogis who disappear into the mountains and forests and live off fruits and weeds..they are very much part of society..so to spread Dhamma to all parts of the world, they need all te patronage they can get


only silver lining is that Christianity has become "uncool" among many in the West and there as been a rise of Atheism and "Atheist Churches"..Its just a matter of time before this group find its way to the Dhamma..even guys like Sam Harris are testing the waters


But Buddhists have a cyclical rather than Christian linear view of time....the 60s counterculture gave way to a stupendous rise of born again evangelicals

The post-2007 (with RD's God Delusion) New Atheism may again give rise to a second wave of evangelical revival post 2020


But as of now gains by Buddhism in the West is nothing compared to the losses suffered to Christianity in the East
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby perkele » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:48 pm

Gain and loss.

The ways of the world.

Don't think in these ways. It's the way to make all goodness disappear.


Hitler tried to conquer the world. No need to try, making the world "ariyan".


And as for supporting: Better support what's in your immediate sphere. Be grateful. Be supportive where it is called for in your surrounding: It's called gratitude.

Better to nurture the Dhamma in yourself than anywhere else.

And this:
dhammafriend wrote:Amulets, fortune telling etc. I am not against people practicing these things (to their own detriment) but they should be disassociated from practicing Buddhist communities.

So you are not against people doing things for their own detriment. I don't know if one would call that compassionate. Maybe that's the modern way of Dhamma: Divide and conquer.

Or just one of all the modern ways.

By the way, who is that woman on your avatar? She looks like a "conqueror".

As you said:
dhammafriend wrote:We all agree the real problems come from within. Dhamma can only really be destroyed by its followers. Below are some problems I can see.



thelotuseffect wrote:If you want to amass followers the Buddha say's to delight your listeners with a talk of divine attributes (like the virtues of devas) and the benefits of good conduct (precepts).

This, I beg you, is not "to amass followers", but to remind someone of his own welfare.

thelotuseffect wrote:Maybe people should be introduced to the Jataka Tales rather than the Dhammapada first? Hahaha I dont know.

I think, that would actually be very good. The jatakas are very educative in the aforementioned respect.

thelotuseffect wrote:Just be careful. Christianity produces a lot of goodness, as long as they prodce goodness their increase (not decrease) can be expected ;-)


In as much as this is true, that's much reason for mudita:
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby dhammafriend » Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:09 am

low-key operations, language restrictions and lack of experience/knowledge in accessing international assistance.

Thanks Pilrim. Agree here completely. There seems to be a lack of creativity in finding solutions to problems, which just feeds into more poverty etc.
Perhaps partnering with truly secular Western NGOs who really wish to assist local populations.

If you want to amass followers ...

Thanks Thelotuseffect, but my post was not to look at increasing the Buddhist fold but ideas that would make dhamma practice healthier in Asia. I'm not interested in increasing the numbers of Buddhists through direct 'evangelizing.' The increase will arise when people see lives changing for the better.

only silver lining is that Christianity has become "uncool" among many in the West and there as been a rise of Atheism and "Atheist Churches"..Its just a matter of time before this group find its way to the Dhamma..even guys like Sam Harris are testing the waters

Off topic Ashwata, but there is an interesting topic to explore, perhaps Dharmic traditions need to align themselves with Secular / Humanist (not New Atheist) orgs. This could in theory create the environment for these traditions to thrive. Do you have any ideas how Buddhist etc can positively affect whats happening?

So you are not against people doing things for their own detriment. I don't know if one would call that compassionate.

Hi Perkele, there is no way we can stop people doing those things. When wrong view leads to wrong action then we must speak out. But setting a wedding date based on astrology, leaving offerings at spirit houses to get a boon etc. Some of these are in practice not harmful. Others are. We must speak out against the harm but we cannot enforce. Those who do that must understand that its non-dhamma.


By the way, who is that woman on your avatar? She looks like a "conqueror".

She's a character on a TV show called Glee. Her character's called Sue Sylvester. Google her. :smile:

Thanks for the comments so far. :)
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Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby culaavuso » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:21 am

pilgrim wrote:One could also support monasteries and organisations doing good work in poor countries in Asia. Often, these are not well known in the international Buddhist community due to their low-key operations, language restrictions and lack of experience/knowledge in accessing international assistance.


This list is very helpful. Thank you for this information.

Shaswata_Panja wrote:Christianity can produce a lot of goodness


To the extent that Christianity produces goodness, it seems worthy of support. Perhaps one way to ensure the survival of the Dhamma is to create more organizations, projects, and other environments where the Dhamma and Christianity can peacefully co-exist rather than competing for conversions.

Shaswata_Panja wrote:Christians routinely make an equivalence between Heaven and Nibbana and Kamma and sin


This seems to open the door for people to explore in both directions. Some Buddhists may become interested in Christianity through these claims, but there are also many Christians who become interested in the Dhamma through these same notions. Christians, Buddhists, and those who use neither label are interested in what is best for the sake of their long term welfare and happiness.

perkele wrote:Better to nurture the Dhamma in yourself than anywhere else.


This seems exactly right. Embody the qualities that the Buddha recommended the Kalamas should seek. Through each practitioner's example the message will spread, not through pushing it on others but by having those in need see the benefits and choose to put them into practice themselves.

AN3.65
AN3.65: Kalama Sutta wrote:These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness


When living these qualities, and demonstrating through personal example that we might have answers of use for others, we might then be asked by others:

MN135
MN135: Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta wrote:What is skillful, venerable sir? What is unskillful? What is blameworthy? What is blameless? What should be cultivated? What should not be cultivated? What, having been done by me, will be for my long-term harm & suffering? Or what, having been done by me, will be for my long-term welfare & happiness?


thelotuseffect wrote:I think what turns people away are the unpleasant aspects that the buddha tells us to be very aware of. They sound negative and most people think it is just an austere strange view (i.e.: to be observant of the unpleasant instead of the pleasant).

This is a matter of improving our skills as teachers. When someone asks a question, we need to understand the problem as they see it and give an answer that is useful to them immediately. Only if someone is interested in deeper study, or if being aware of unpleasant aspects of something will provide a helpful solution to their problems, is it appropriate to explain such practices in such terms. Right speech, among other things, is timely.
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby dhammafriend » Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:51 am

Thanks culaavaso. Good advise from the tipitaka. My interest in starting this thread was to look at what we can do on the ground in everyday life in addition to obviously practicing dhamma with right view. As well as looking at some of the bad practices that have been clinging to Buddhist communities in Asia. Bettering communities not just monasteries. Any ideas?

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Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby SarathW » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:16 pm

Hi Dhammafriend
I think any of our action should not be motivated by anger towards someone.
If our motivation is based on compassion etc (Brahamavihara) towards the human, then our action will be wholesome.
There was a western gentleman named Henry Olcott who had similar motivation to you and change the history of Buddhism.
He was the first known Buddhist in the western world!

======================
Please see the link below for the full details. Please also check Anagarika Dharmapala for further inspiration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Steel_Olcott

===================

Olcott's main religious interest was Buddhism, and he is commonly known for his work in Sri Lanka. He and Blavatsky arrived in the then capital Colombo on May 16, 1880. Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steele Olcott took Five Precepts at the Wijayananda Viharaya located at Weliwatta in Galle on May 19, 1880.[7] On that day Olcott and Blavatsky were formally acknowledged as Buddhists, although Olcott noted that they had previously declared themselves Buddhists, while still living in America.[8]

During his time in Sri Lanka Olcott strove to revive Buddhism within the region, while compiling the tenets of Buddhism for the education of Westerners. It was during this period that he wrote the Buddhist Catechism (1881), which is still used today.

The Theosophical Society built several Buddhist schools in Ceylon, most notably Ananda College in Colombo, Mahinda College in Galle, Dharmaraja College in Kandy and Maliyadeva College in Kurunegala. Olcott also acted as an adviser to the committee appointed to design a Buddhist flag in 1885. The Buddhist flag designed with the assistance of Olcott was later adopted as a symbol by the World Fellowship of Buddhists andl as the universal flag of all Buddhist traditions.

==============
The effort to revitalize Buddhism within Sri Lanka was successful and influenced many native Buddhist intellectuals. Sri Lanka was dominated by British colonial power and influence at the time, and many Buddhists heard Olcott’s interpretation of the Buddha's message as socially motivating and supportive of efforts to overturn colonialist efforts to ignore Buddhism and Buddhist tradition. As David McMahan wrote, “Henry Steel Olcott saw the Buddha as a figure much like the ideal liberal freethinker – someone full of ‘benevolence,’ ‘gratitude,’ and ‘tolerance,’ who promoted ‘brotherhood among all men’ as well as ‘lessons in manly self-reliance”.[17] His view of Buddha influenced Sri Lankan leaders, such as Anagarika Dharmapala.

Olcott and Anagarika Dharmapala were associates, which reflects both men’s awareness of the divide between East and West—as seen in their presentation of Buddhism to the West.[18] Olcott helped financially support the Buddhist presence at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, 1893. The inclusion of Buddhists in the Parliament allowed for the expansion of Buddhism within the West in general and in America specifically, leading to other Buddhist Modernist movements.
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Re: Nurturing Dhamma in Asia

Postby dhammafriend » Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:11 am

Hi Dhammafriend
I think any of our action should not be motivated by anger towards someone.
If our motivation is based on compassion etc (Brahamavihara) towards the human, then our action will be wholesome.
There was a western gentleman named Henry Olcott who had similar motivation to you and change the history of Buddhism.
He was the first known Buddhist in the western world!


Thanks so much for this SarathW! :) Yes I know about Olcott and what he did for Sinhala Buddhists. Brahma Viharas should be foremost in our minds in all things. I hope I have not lost site of this. I just feel Buddhists keep complaining about the unethical practices of some Evangelical Christians without critisizing themselves. (even though some of the criticism is justified) I thought to start a thread about what we can do 'internally' to make Buddhist practice healthier in Asia rather than just criticize the Evangelicals. So looking at some things that are not too pleasant to think about. But the only way to overcome them is to acknowledge they exist.

What do you think of my points in the OP? Do you have any ideas to add?

Have you read Island of Light? Its a good read. Check out the link: http://www.justbegood.net/Downloads/IslandofLight.pdf

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Natthi me saranam annam buddho me saranam varam
For me there is no other refuge, the Buddha is my excellent refuge.
Etena saccavajjena vaddheyyam satthu-sasane
By the utterance of this truth, may I grow in the Master’s Way.
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