"The Broken Buddha" by Ven.Dhammika and other scandals

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Perry
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 4:59 pm
Location: Stevenage, UK
Contact:

"The Broken Buddha" by Ven.Dhammika and other scandals

Postby Perry » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:53 pm

Hi everyone,

I've been interested in getting hold of the book The Broken Buddha by Venerable Shravasti Dhammika for a while now and finally found a copy on eBay the other day which was delivered to my house this morning.

I've heard it's a very controversial book that is quite destructive in regards to some of Buddhism's traditions, but I've also heard that it has built a large amount of support. Bhante Dhammika himself seems to express some regret for publishing it in the preface.

I'm yet to start reading it so I'm not aware of the exact content, but I have a lot of respect for Bhante Dhammika, his book Good Question Good Answer was what introduced me to Buddhism in the first place. I am also a follower of his blog, and he has treated me with great generosity and kindness in our correspondences together.

Has anyone here read it? What are your thoughts?

Thankyou.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14947
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:34 pm

Hi Perry,

It is also available as a PDF: http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-b ... dhanew.pdf

I've only skimmed it. It's not difficult to find examples of all the things he criticises, but I don't think the criticisms apply universally (he's obviously not the only "exception" ...).

Strangely I hadn't actually realised it was the same Dhammika as the other books and the blog. I'd assumed that an author so disillusioned would have disrobed. But he quotes from it here:
http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2009/11/e ... vamso.html

Metta
Mike

User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 10651
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:40 pm

Image




User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
Posts: 10651
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:43 pm

Image




User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14947
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:58 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for the clarification on Ven Dhammika's status.

Here's an old discussion of the book: http://www.bswa.org/modules/newbb/viewt ... 28&forum=7

Mike

User avatar
BlackBird
Posts: 1925
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby BlackBird » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:05 pm

To be frank I think Ven. Dhammika spends a lot of time bemoaning an inevitable situation. The Buddha Sasana was always going to decline and I think the deplorable behaviour of some Monks in Thailand and Sri Lanka mentioned in the book is just a reflection of this. I would say the Sasana has actually been in an upswing in the past 100 odd years. What with with Buddhism coming to the West, an array of excellent and learned meditators and scholars, and the advent of the internet.

But nevertheless, the solution offered by Ven. Dhammika to the problems he outlines is like applying a band aid to a wound the size of a fist - It's not the appropriate solution.

Is there an appropriate solution? Well, in the short to mid-term it's for each and everyone of us to practice the Noble Eightfold Path to the best of our abilities.
:anjali:
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:10 pm

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

User avatar
zavk
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby zavk » Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:47 pm

Hi Perry

I have a copy of the book. In fact, Ven. Dhammika generously gave it to me when I met him in Singapore in June/July. I had a nice chat with him. I've only read half of the book--got distracted by other stuff and never got round to finishing it. I more or less agree with what the others have said.

Based on what I've read, it can be seen in Ven. Dhammika's arguments that he is speaking from a perspective of modern liberalism. As I'm sure you are aware, liberalism (generally speaking) asserts that free persons act according to their own inner mandates, critically reflect on their own ideals, and resist blindly following social customs--particularly customs that reinforce authoritarianism.

Such an attitude permeates much of contemporary approaches to Buddhism. In fact, this attitude can be identified in many, many discussions here on DW and other forums. Ven. Dhammika comes from a cultural context that highly values such liberal social ideals. So it is not surprising that he gives emphasis to individual critical reflection and criticizes rigid traditionalism.

His book certainly reveals some pressing issues facing Theravada Buddhism as it moves from traditional contexts to modern ones. While he does make some good arguments that might appeal to our contemporary sensibilities, I don't think that he is suggesting that traditional forms of Buddhism are 'inferior' or 'backward'. As I see it, he is just pointing out that the conditions enabling those forms of Buddhism are passing away (or at least changing). A new set of conditions are arising in contemporary times. Hence, Buddhism needs to adapt itself to these shifting conditions.

If we read his arguments this way, the question of whether Buddhism is on the decline or on the rise, or if one form is inferior the other superior, becomes a moot point. It is rather a matter of how we recognise change and relate to it skillfully. Whether the solutions Ven. Dhammika offers would work or not, I cannot say. But he is at least drawing attention to some pressing issues or 'hindrances' facing contemporary Buddhism. As in meditation practice, the recognition of hindrances is an important first step before dealing with them.
With metta,
zavk

vinasp
Posts: 1675
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby vinasp » Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:59 pm

Hi everyone,

An excellent read, thank you for the link. Is there any way that the founder of a religion can prevent it from turning into the opposite of what he intended ?

Best wishes, Vincent.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 14947
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:16 am


User avatar
BlackBird
Posts: 1925
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:07 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby BlackBird » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:42 am

"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

User avatar
poto
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:21 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby poto » Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:26 pm

I just finished reading The Broken Buddha, and I agree with what Ven. Dhammika has written. Personally, even as a lay person I have been disillusioned and put off by some of the cultural traditions, rituals and ceremonies that I've encountered over the years. I've long felt that Buddhism in the West would greatly benefit if it were freed from Asian cultural traditions and customs that are irrelevant to the actual Dhamma.

Gharchaina
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:23 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Gharchaina » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:00 pm


User avatar
poto
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:21 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby poto » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:49 pm


User avatar
poto
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:21 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby poto » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:40 pm

To illustrate my point and that of Ven. Dhammika, here are two photos from 2 different local Buddhist congregations.

The first is that of a local Theravada congregation.



Notice, all are dressed in white. Very few Westerners present, and I suspect the 3 Westerners that are present are only there because they are married to Thai women. That congregation serves the local Thai expatriates and not much else. There is little hope of growth among local Westerners there so long as it remains fixed to Thai culture.


The second is from a local Tibetan Buddhist temple.



Notice, the less formal casual dress and abundance of Westerners. As was pointed out in The Broken Buddha, the Tibetans have grown and drawn locals while the Theravadins for the most part remain bogged down with cultural traditions that drive Westerners away.

Both of these are in the same city, less than an hour drive from me. Which one do you think is more inviting to the average Westerner interested in Buddhism?

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23012
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:54 pm

I have seen, in the USA, Tibetan and Zen groups just as culturaly rigid as the Thai group in the photo and I have seen Theravadin groups as relaxed as the Tibetan group photo. What basis do we use for making a generalization?

PeterB
Posts: 3909
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby PeterB » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:58 pm

In my ( fairly extensive ) experience of both , Tibetan groups tend to be a lot more rigid and conservative than those associated with Thai temples, dont let the jeans and tees fool you.

User avatar
poto
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:21 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby poto » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:18 pm


User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23012
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:20 pm


User avatar
poto
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 3:21 am

Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby poto » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:26 pm



Return to “Connections to Other Paths”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine