Australian Brahmic Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Assaji
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Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by Assaji »

Hello,

I am trying to come to terms with the new type of Buddhism that Brahmavamso and his colleagues represent. Formerly Brahmavamso has been a student of Ven. Ajahn Chah, and member of the Thai Forest Sangha, but after his expulsion he makes a lot of strange statements like: "Buddha Gotama is not a Sammasambuddha, since he studied with previous Buddhas".

The videos and statements like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOZtpCo3Vpk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

make me wonder, what kind of Buddhist tradition is that.

So far I would call it "Australian Brahmic Buddhism".

Its typical features I observed are:

- Reliance on Sarvastivada Chinese Agamas, which are considered more reliable that Pali Nikayas;
- Usage of Dharmagupta Vinaya lineage for nuns ordination;
- The notion that the jhanas don't invlove any physical perception, lead by themselves to Nibbana, and there can be no attachment to jhanas;
- The notion that Nirodha-samapatti is essentially the same as Nibbana;
- Rejection of Pali Commentaries.

The origin of this kind of Buddhism can be traced to the works of Roderick Bucknell, former monk and scholar of Agama texts, but I would call it "Brahmic" since Brahmavamso gave it a defined form.

Any thoughts of how this new lineage may be called, and its relationship to Theravada?

Dmytro
PeterB
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by PeterB »

With a heavy heart I have to say that I am struggling with the same issue.

It appears to me that Brahmavamso is periously close to being a schismatic. And may have crossed the Rubicon.
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robertk
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by robertk »

I disagree with all the points that you say ven. Brahmavamso makes, however he is correct , according to theravada tradition, that there cannot be any perception of rupa while in any Jhana.
rowyourboat
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by rowyourboat »

Does he seriuosly say that it is possible to get to nirodhasamapatti without breaking all of the lower fetters, through vipassana?
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IanAnd
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by IanAnd »

robertk wrote:... however he is correct , according to theravada tradition, that there cannot be any perception of rupa while in any Jhana.
Where in the Theravada tradition (with the possible exception of the Visuddhimagga) is this view promulgated? As it is certainly not promulgated in the suttas. And since this is the case, how can you make such a statement with a straight face?
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Vardali
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by Vardali »

I cannot comment on the other points (apart from that I haven't heard any dismissive comment from him on the pali cannon so far),
but my personal understanding of his meditation approach seems to differ concerning the following point:
Dmytro wrote:....
- The notion that the jhanas don't invlove any physical perception, lead by themselves to Nibbana, and there can be no attachment to jhanas;
- ...
My understanding of what he's trying to convey:
when entering jhanas, there is no physical sensation left (as you leave this in the nimitta stage), jhanas do help to move towards enlightenment, as it provides the fertile ground on which insight can thrive (as he states, "jhana is the gunpowder and reflection is the match"); as I am no expert I cannot confirm nor deny this, but it appears well in line with the anapanasati sutta how I understand it :shrug:

And considering that his "recipe" for getting into deep meditation is by fully "letting go", I would think that if you fully let go, it would indeed be inconsistent with being attached to jhanas (as this would prevent from entering jhana).

Anyway, that's how I have understood his teaching, but of course I might have gotten the wrong end of the stick here.
Though, you live, you learn, as they say :woohoo:
darvki
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by darvki »

Dmytro wrote:I am trying to come to terms with the new type of Buddhism that Brahmavamso and his colleagues represent. Formerly Brahmavamso has been a student of Ven. Ajahn Chah, and member of the Thai Forest Sangha, but after his expulsion he makes a lot of strange statements like: "Buddha Gotama is not a Sammasambuddha, since he studied with previous Buddhas".
By his definition, are there then no Sammasambuddhas? I was under the impression all Sammasambuddhas have studied with previous ones in some of their past lives.

Also, how do you mean "after his expulsion"? I'm aware of Brahmavamso's situation, I'm just curious about the context. Was he not making such statements before his expulsion?
Dmytro wrote:Its typical features I observed are:

- Reliance on Sarvastivada Chinese Agamas, which are considered more reliable that Pali Nikayas
Regarding reliance on the Agamas, I am curious as to your source of knowledge for this. I in no way mean to challenge it, but I remember only Pali Canonical references in his literature.
PeterB wrote:It appears to me that Brahmavamso is periously close to being a schismatic. And may have crossed the Rubicon.
How do you figure? On the contrary, I thought he promoted breaking down sectarian barriers.
rowyourboat wrote:Does he seriuosly say that it is possible to get to nirodhasamapatti without breaking all of the lower fetters, through vipassana?
If it helps you understand his view, he does state that nirodhasamapatti necessarily leads to becoming an Anagami or Arahant. The above is an interesting claim. Where have you seen him say (or appear to say) this?
robertk wrote:according to theravada tradition, that there cannot be any perception of rupa while in any Jhana.
I'm quite certain that isn't true. Apart from the lack of evidence in the Suttas (which Geoff (Ñāṇa) for example can elucidate far better than I can) which needless to say wouldn't necessarily be influential on the orthodox view, there are certainly many teachers in the Theravada who do not hold this to be true. See Tilt's response here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4220" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Kenshou
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by Kenshou »

"Letting go" is nice but I daresay it's just not that simple. There are qualities which should be intentionally cultivated, in addition to those that should be given up. And until the right wholesome qualities are mature, I suspect that understanding and the relinquishment that follows are probably not going to be very deeply liberating.
darvki
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by darvki »

Dmytro wrote:The videos and statements like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOZtpCo3Vpk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I was unable to view the video earlier. I've just seen it now. I thought it was beautiful. What exactly are people finding wrong with it?
daverupa
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by daverupa »

Vossaga wrote:Anapanasati is Mindfulness With Breathing [As The Sign] rather than mindfulness of breathing.
This subtlety seems to be in accord with my recent focus on understanding the anapanasati Suttas. The simile of the incompetent and competent chef also makes reference to such an idea, although there the language is "picking up that sign". This means...
Vossaga wrote:I agree with Ajahn Brahm's inference that any effort, apart from the effort to let go, is wrong effort. At Samyutta Nikaya 48.9, the Buddha advised right concentration has letting go (vossaga) as its sole object.
that SN 48.9 also makes sense. However, I will disagree with the stated idea of effort. Sammavayamo, per SN 45.8:

"And what, monks, is right effort? (i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort."

Exclusive effort to 'let go' is Taoism.
  • "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]
Sylvester
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by Sylvester »

IanAnd wrote:
robertk wrote:... however he is correct , according to theravada tradition, that there cannot be any perception of rupa while in any Jhana.
Where in the Theravada tradition (with the possible exception of the Visuddhimagga) is this view promulgated? As it is certainly not promulgated in the suttas. And since this is the case, how can you make such a statement with a straight face?

As to which, there has been a long debate on the meaning of "kāmā" in the "vivicc'eva kamehi" section of the suttas' First Jhana formula. You might wish to acquaint yourself with that discussion before denying a possible provenance to the view within the suttas.

(NB - Dear Geoff - It's since been pointed out to me that while I understood Warder's nexus/junction correctly, I applied the wrong rule when analysing the kāma-guṇa formulae. Your definition of the kāma-guṇa was correct. :anjali: Nevertheless, I've been advised to just refer to how the CDP defines the kāmā versus the kāma-guṇa, and note AN 6.63's proscription against conflating the 2. So, it seems that the kāma-guṇa are a sub-set of kāmā.)

I'm just glad that Ajahn Brahm's cohort sees nothing wrong in referring to the Chinese Agamas. But for Ven Analayo's checking of the Sancetanika Sutta against its Chinese parallel, we might as well have given up being Buddhists and declared ourselves to be Niganthas. IMHO, reference to the Chinese Agamas fall within the 4 Great Standards of DN 16, especially when they can expunge silly mistakes that put Jain soteriology in the Buddha's mouth.

Of course, the Mahavihara Buddhists in DW must trot out the Abhidhammic lokuttara/lokiya Jhanas to flatly contradict the simple suttanta message that nirodha samapatti leads inexorably to Non-Return or Arahanta.

So, the OP's question should NOT be phrased -
Any thoughts of how this new lineage may be called, and its relationship to Theravada?
but should be limited to -

"Any thoughts of how this new lineage may be called, and its relationship to Mahavihara Buddhism?"

It's the same old grab to monopolise the imprimatur for what goes into the "Theravada" families.
Sylvester
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by Sylvester »

daverupa wrote: However, I will disagree with the stated idea of effort. Sammavayamo, per SN 45.8:

"And what, monks, is right effort? (i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort."

Exclusive effort to 'let go' is Taoism.

Hi daverupa

Might it be possible to note that Right Effort precedes Right Sati? In the satipatthana practices, one does not see instructions to apply any effort to suppress the hindrances or other negative states that arise in the course of the satipatthana exercises. One just watches -
Thus he lives contemplating the body (etc etc) in the body internally, or he lives contemplating the body in the body externally, or he lives contemplating the body in the body internally and externally. He lives contemplating origination-things in the body, or he lives contemplating dissolution-things in the body, or he lives contemplating origination-and-dissolution-things in the body. Or indeed his mindfulness is established with the thought: 'The body exists,' to the extent necessary just for knowledge and remembrance, and he lives independent and clings to naught in the world. Thus, also, O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating the body in the body
I think this is where the "letting go" occurs, when understanding into Anicca grows from development of each of the satipatthanas.
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Dan74
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by Dan74 »

Just to point out that this video was made prior to Ajahn Brahm's expulsion. And expulsion was over the ordination of women issue not any perceived heresies.

I'd like to see clearly where people say that he diverges from what the Buddha taught.

He is a populariser, so he does "dumb it down" to some extent. And I understand if people take exception to this and to his manner. But what about the actual content? Where does he diverge?
_/|\_
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robertk
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by robertk »

IanAnd wrote:
robertk wrote:... however he is correct , according to theravada tradition, that there cannot be any perception of rupa while in any Jhana.
Where in the Theravada tradition (with the possible exception of the Visuddhimagga) is this view promulgated? As it is certainly not promulgated in the suttas. And since this is the case, how can you make such a statement with a straight face?
Just put it down to intense delusion, sorry to interrupt.
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pilgrim
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Re: Australian Brahmic Buddhism

Post by pilgrim »

Every teacher has his own style of teaching and his particular emphasis. I don't think it is fair or even accurate to say this constitutes a new tradition.

And isn't every Theravada bhikkhuni including the thousands in Sri Lanka descended from the Dharmagupta lineage.
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