500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

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500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby suriyopama » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:26 am

There is a call to "ordain" 500,000 upasika this april.

http://www.dhammakaya.net/en/docs/50000 ... ordination
http://www.dmc.tv/index.php?module=vide ... -chimi.wmv

I am confused. What is it that they call "ordination"? Is it a real upasampadaa acceptance of the women as a bhikkhuni, a samaneri?. Why do they use the word "ordination"? Are there different levels or meanings of ordination?
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby BlackBird » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:44 am

From what I can gather from the links you provided it seems to me to be a 15 day retreat, coordinated by all the Dhammakaya monasteries throughout Thailand. When they say 'ordination' they do not mean upasampada, but simply wearing white, observing the 8 precepts etc.

metta
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby suriyopama » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:03 am

Thanks Jack.

So, why don't they call it "The 500,000 Upasika Kaew Mass Retreat Program" instead of "The 500,000 Upasika Kaew Mass Ordination Program"?

Otherwise it may seem that they are breaking the 1928 edict against the ordination of women... :shrug: :roll: :? ???
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby Kenshou » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:19 am

Perhaps the phenomena of temporary ordination combined with, I daresay an incomplete, or different understanding of English leads to not-quite-right use of the word?
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:20 am

Kenshou wrote:Perhaps the phenomena of temporary ordination combined with, I daresay an incomplete, or different understanding of English leads to not-quite-right use of the word?


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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby gavesako » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:03 pm

In Thai, the word used to "ordain" as a monk or as a 8-precept mae chee is the same: buad. Only if you want to make clear distinctions, you have to use words like upasampada, pabbajja, etc.

This ordination program is a follow-up on the 100.000 monks' ordination program which just took place recently. They had posters everywhere encouraging men to ordain at the mass ceremony in Wat Dhammakaya -- for free! Normally it costs a few thousand baht to ordain temporarily, so this is one incentive. It is very clever of the Dhammakaya people because there monks will then live in other temples in Thailand, but those will remain anonymous whereas Dhammakaya will get all the attention for having accomplished another major goal.

For a good book covering the Dhammakaya phenomenon see the book "Nirvana for Sale?"
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby Khemadhammo Bhikkhu » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:14 pm

I have now ordained at Wat Phra Dhammakāya for five rains retreats. I know the wat where I live is a controversial subject, so I have not emphasized my being a part of Wat Phra Dhammakāya that much. I didn't want to stir up too many things, especially on a very peaceful forum such as this.

On the topic of the upāsika program, as well as the ordination program that has been held, might I add that the main purpose is to attempt to revive Buddhism in many places in Thailand, and to prevent temples from getting empty, without monks residing in them. Though led by Wat Phra Dhammakāya, there are in fact many other wats involved.

I personally have been involved in this project, teaching to Thai in a wat in Khorat. Many local villagers ordained for the program, and were inspired by the program. After they returned to the lay life, they maintained the five precepts and came to their local temple more often to support it an keep it alive. I have seen many places in Thailand where Buddhism is quickly declining, and I think this approach is very helpful. After all, training people is a very important activity to spread the Dhamma. It makes the Thai people realize that there is more to Buddhism than amulets and asking for lucky numbers, which I think is important.

I hope this helps.
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby Virgo » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:08 pm

Khemadhammo Bhikkhu wrote:I have now ordained at Wat Phra Dhammakāya for five rains retreats.

Khemmanando bhikkhu, do the monks at your temple use money?

Thank you,

Kevin
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby Khemadhammo Bhikkhu » Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:32 am

Virgo wrote: Khemmanando bhikkhu, do the monks at your temple use money?


They do, as in most temples close to the city. When I was still in training as a navaka monk (first years of monkhood), the main Ajan teaching us emphasized keeping it to a minimum. I realize that this is a debate between forest and city monks that has been going on for a long time, and I would not want to get into the details of the theory too much here.

In practice, I have found the lay people offering money at the temple do not feel comfortable and safe giving money to a lay steward/attendant. I usually find myself passing the money on to the temple's funds rather than hoarding it, because I simply would not know what to do with it. This is what most monks at our wat do. Though ocassionally it seems difficult in a city temple to go completely without money -- you don't always have a steward with you, unless you are a experienced mahāthera perhaps. Sometimes you go by taxi, and the taxi driver simply does not accept a blessing as payment!

I do think we should step by step back again to the Buddha's original advice, which was a clear "no". But this might require some things to change in society as well.

What do you think, Kevin?
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby cooran » Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:13 am

I'm not sure what Kevin thinks, but I go to a temple with Sri Lankan, Thai, Vietnamese, American and Australian lay people - many of whom were born in other countries, all of whom give donations via our treasurer, who issues them with receipts, and provides a proper statement of our accounts at the monthly Managment Committee meeting, and deals with the proper, legal reporting system to the government.

The Management Committee consists of lay people with the Abbot sitting in an ex-officio role. The monks strictly adhere to the Vinaya, and if a lay person approaches with an offering - before touching it, the bhikkhus always ask if there is any money in it, and explain that as Monks they are not permitted by the rules set down by the Buddha to receive money.

Taxi companies in Australia accept pre-paid vouchers from various organisations - an arrangement could be made with a taxi company in Bangkok for the occasional emergency requiring a taxi when a layperson isn't available to drive them or escort them on public transport.

It is quite simple really. The bhikkhus must follow the standard set by the Buddha. They must be consistent with pointing it out to any lay person whom seems unaware of it. Only those adhering to the Vinaya deserve the respect and support of Lay people.
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby BlackBird » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:04 am

Khemadhammo Bhikkhu wrote:I personally have been involved in this project, teaching to Thai in a wat in Khorat. Many local villagers ordained for the program, and were inspired by the program. After they returned to the lay life, they maintained the five precepts and came to their local temple more often to support it an keep it alive. I have seen many places in Thailand where Buddhism is quickly declining, and I think this approach is very helpful. After all, training people is a very important activity to spread the Dhamma. It makes the Thai people realize that there is more to Buddhism than amulets and asking for lucky numbers, which I think is important.


I must be honest Bhante, I hold many reservations about the Dhammakaya, especially with regards to the meditation system. Nevertheless it seems you're doing a quite a bit of good, and that's worthy of respect.

:anjali:
Last edited by BlackBird on Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:05 am

Perhaps this discussion belongs in a different thread.

I would certainly prefer Bhikhus to not handle money. I know several who do not, and I am very impressed by that, especially in the West. In fact, for those living in the West, I am even more impressed that they get sufficient support from their lay followers to make it practical.

As Ven Khemmanando's posts imply, for many of us there is not a lot of choice. It seems to have become acceptable in many parts of Thailand for Bhikkhus to handle money, and this has propagated to the West.

For most of us, it's not as if we have dozens of monasteries in the neighbourhood to choose from. For example, the two Ajahn-Chah-affiliated monasteries in New Zealand are on a different island from where I live.

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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby gavesako » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:21 pm

To come across monks (even in forest monasteries) in Thailand who are strict about not using money is pretty rare these days. I stayed with Dhammayut monks, and it is just as widespread as everywhere else. Everyone needs to travel and they take some money in an envelope, especially those monks who go to study in town. Only in some monasteries where the Ajahn emphasises renunciation and meditation practice as the only goal of the monk's life will they be strict about the money rules. But in fact, quite a few forest monasteries have become the recipients of large financial donations which are usually spent at the abbot's sole discretion, to build large Salas or Chedis for example. Sometimes it seems like a competition in who can build the greatest wooden structure (wood is pretty expensive). So the problem of receiving (and actively soliciting) large donations is not only a problem with the Dhammakaya temple. It is endemic in Thai Buddhism actually, and there are luckily some monks who point to the need to change people's way of thinking when it comes to "making merit".

The Dhammakaya ordination and study program actually seems to offer one alternative and certainly some people must have benefitted from it, the problem is only with the whole organization structure that it is embedded in. So the individual members may be well-intentioned, but who knows what goes on behind the curtains in the upper strata of the Dhammakaya leadership, especially when the chief abbot is credited with supernatural powers and Buddha-like status.
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby Virgo » Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:49 pm

Khemadhammo Bhikkhu wrote:
Virgo wrote: Khemmanando bhikkhu, do the monks at your temple use money?


They do, as in most temples close to the city...
What do you think, Kevin?

Bhante,

Wether you, or they, follow the rules of the _Blessed One_ or not, there is nothing that I can do.

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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby cooran » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:10 pm

gavesako said: Only in some monasteries where the Ajahn emphasises renunciation and meditation practice as the only goal of the monk's life will they be strict about the money rules.


What goals, other than renunciation and meditation leading towards Nibbana did the Buddha teach, particularly for monks?

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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:30 pm

Hi Cooran,
cooran wrote:What goals, other than renunciation and meditation leading towards Nibbana did the Buddha teach, particularly for monks?

I believe that that even in the Buddha's time some monks spent considerable time instructing lay people.

That certainly seems to be an expectation for Thai monks sent abroad.

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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby cooran » Sat Apr 03, 2010 8:55 pm

Certainlly Mike. It has always been the custom for monks to receive their meal dana and, after finishing eating before noon, to then teach and answer questions from those attending. This normally takes about an hour. The monks give the Teaching, the Lay people support the monks with food and other requisites ~ this is the reciprocity in Theravada monk/ lay relationships.

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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby gavesako » Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:20 am

With Buddhism becoming the national religion of some Asian countries, and being used by the governments for educational and other purposes, there will be a substantial number of monks who -- while keeping the minimal standard of Vinaya so as not to be criticized by society -- are not really keen on the higher goals of the brahmacariya as expounded by the Buddha. They may perform a variety of social roles, achieve social mobility through university education, and become administrators with appropriate government salary. They may stay in the monkhood for a few years or even a whole lifetime, and this is seen as a good thing by the laypeople who support the temples. The expectations of monks in Asia are not the same as in the West.
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:39 am

or as the abbot of one large Wat in Bangkok once told me when i was having personal issues with the actions of some monks "there are different kinds of monks"

or as my Thai wife sometimes points out and seems to be the standard Thai thinking on the matter, not all monks are expected to "act like monks".
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Re: 500,000 upasika ordination in Thailand. Real ordination?

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:12 am

Worth bearing in mind when we minimise the lowering of standards for Bhikkhus from the level the Buddha taught:

'Anagatavamsa' " The Sermon of the Chronicle to be "
""'How will it occur? After my decease there will first be five disappearances. What five? The disappearance of attainment (in the Dispensation), the disappearance of proper conduct, the disappearance of learning, the disappearance of the outward form, the disappearance
of the relics. There will be these five disappearances.

'Here attainment means that for a thousand years only after the lord's complete Nibbana will monks be able to practice analytical insights. As time goes on and on these disciples of mine are nonreturners and once-returners and stream-winners. There will be no disappearance of attainment for these. But with the extinction of the last stream-winner's life, attainment will have disappeared.

..<.........>

'The disappearance of learning means that as long as there stand firm the texts with the commentaries pertaining to the word of the Buddha in the three Pitakas, for so long there will be no disappearance of learning. As time goes on and on there will be base-born kings, not Dhamma-men; (dharma) their ministers and so on will not be Dhamma-men, and consequently the inhabitants of the kingdom and so on will not be Dhamma-men. Because they are not Dhamma-men it will not rain properly. Therefore the crops will not flourish well, and in consequence the donors of requisites to the community of monks will not be able to give them the requisites. Not receiving the requisites the monks will not receive pupils. As time goes on and on learning will decay. In this decay the Great Patthana itself will decay first. In this
decay also (there will be) Yamaka, Kathavatthu, Puggalapannati, Dhatukatha, Vibhanga and Dhammasangani. When the Abhidhamma Pitaka decays the Suttanta Pitaka will decay. When the Suttantas decay the Anguttara will decay first. When it decays the Samyutta Nikaya, the Majjhima Nikaya, the Digha Nikaya and the Khuddaka-Nikaya will decay. They will simply remember the jataka together with the Vinaya Pitaka. But only the conscientious (monks) will remember the Vinaya Pitaka. As time goes on and on, being unable to
remember even the jataka, the Vessantara-jataka will decay first. When that decays the Apannaka-jataka will decay. When the jatakas decay they will remember only the Vinaya-Pitaka. As time goes on and on the Vinaya-Pitaka will decay. While a four-line stanza still continues to exist among men, there will not be a disappearance of learning.
When a king who has faith has had a purse containing a thousand (coins) placed in a golden' casket on an elephant's back, and has had the drum (of proclamation) sounded in the city up to the second or third time, to the effect that: "Whoever knows a stanza uttered by the Buddha, let him take these thousand coins together with the royal elephant"-but yet finding no one knowing a four-line stanza, the purse containing the thousand (coins) must be taken back into the palace again-then will be the disappearance of learning.
'This, Sariputta, is the disappearance of learning.

'As time goes on and on each of the last monks, carrying his robe, bowl, and tooth-pick like Jain recluses, having taken a bottle-gourd and turned it into a bowl for alms food, will wander about with it in his forearms or hands or hanging from a piece of string. As time goes on and on, thinking: 'What's the good of this yellow robe?" and cutting off a small piece of one and sticking it on his nose or ear or in his hair, he will wander about supporting wife and children by agriculture, trade and the like. .... As time goes on and on, thinking: "What's the good of this to us?", having thrown away the piece Of yellow robe, he will harry beasts and birds in the forest. At this time the outward form will have disappeared.

'This, Sariputta, is called the disappearance of the outward form. """

A short time indeed does the Buddha's sasana last.
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