The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

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The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby plwk » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:57 pm

Image

If Thai Buddhism has been corrupted and lost its way, as critics are alleging, you would never know it by talking to Mod and her friends, whose devotion keeps them making merit and seeking solace at Wat Tha Mai, one of Bangkok's scores of Buddhist temples, every weekend. More here
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:17 pm

plwk wrote:whose devotion keeps them making merit and seeking solace... every weekend


I would have thought that was evidence enough.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:26 pm

If people stopped regarding the faults of others, and instead corrected their own defects, perhaps they would find the right way again.

If you look down you will see the ants apparently lost and not knowing which way to run, but if you look up you will see the vast emptiness of space. Then you may wonder about your own significance in this universe, and how you came to be here.
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby appicchato » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:08 pm

If you look down you will see the ants apparently lost and not knowing which way to run, but if you look up you will see the vast emptiness of space. Then you may wonder about your own significance in this universe, and how you came to be here.


+1
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby manas » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:27 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If people stopped regarding the faults of others, and instead corrected their own defects, perhaps they would find the right way again.

If you look down you will see the ants apparently lost and not knowing which way to run, but if you look up you will see the vast emptiness of space. Then you may wonder about your own significance in this universe, and how you came to be here.


The Dhammapada is in agreement:
50. Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one's own acts, done and undone.


And, a word of warning, any men struggling with sensual desire should know that there is a photo of a scantily clad young woman in that article linked to. So get the mind into the 'perception of the foul' before you click, rather than retrospectively...

EDIT: Yes, the girl in the photo is praying. But the photo, along with the caption underneath, isn't what I would call edifying.

:anjali:
Last edited by manas on Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby cooran » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:53 pm

But then there is this perspective - looking at oneself:

http://Www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/power-judgment
(judgmental is bad .... Judicious is good)
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The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby GraemeR » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:56 am

plwk wrote:
If Thai Buddhism has been corrupted and lost its way, as critics are alleging, you would never know it by talking to Mod and her friends, whose devotion keeps them making merit and seeking solace at Wat Tha Mai, one of Bangkok's scores of Buddhist temples, every weekend. More here


If you read the whole article, which shows a scantily clad girl praying, it gives quite a different perspective than this excerpt with the confusion of Hinduism, Chinese religion and superstition.

To me the whole concept of merit making can be a problem as people are doing something for themselves to accrue merit, rather than for the sake of doing good.

People give food to monks in the belief that will get them food in heaven for example.

With metta

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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:48 am

Greetings,

GraemeR wrote:To me the whole concept of merit making can be a problem as people are doing something for themselves to accrue merit, rather than for the sake of doing good.

People give food to monks in the belief that will get them food in heaven for example.

On a related note, a Facebook page that I receive notifications from often shows pictures of people offering alms to monks at a certain Dhammayuttika temple.

What I find curious about this is that in all the photos, the adults are looking very stern and po-faced, as if it's a very grave and solemn occasion.

However, as the following sutta extract shows, dana should be "an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind", and should therefore presumably induce a joyous and happy mind. Perhaps in light of this, they might even manage crack a smile?

Yet, if someone has a face on them like a sucked lemon, you wonder whether they're doing it right...

AN 7.49 wrote:Then, on the following Uposatha day, the lay followers from Campa went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. Then Ven. Sariputta, together with the lay followers from Campa, went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "Might there be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?"

"Yes, Sariputta, there would be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit."

"Lord, what is the cause, what is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?"

"Sariputta, there is the case where a person gives a gift seeking his own profit, with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death.' He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp — to a brahman or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this gift seeking his own profit — with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself, [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death' — on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Four Great Kings. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Then there is the case of a person who gives a gift not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death.' Instead, he gives a gift with the thought, 'Giving is good.' He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp — to a brahman or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this gift with the thought, 'Giving is good,' on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Thirty-three. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead of thinking, 'Giving is good,' he gives a gift with the thought, 'This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Hours. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Contented Devas. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past — Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa, & Bhagu — in the same way will this be my distribution of gifts'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who delight in creation. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who have power over the creations of others. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead of thinking, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,' he gives a gift with the thought, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind.' He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp — to a brahman or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this, not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death,'

" — nor with the thought, 'Giving is good,'

" — nor with the thought, 'This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued,'

" — nor with the thought, 'I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off,' nor with the thought, 'Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past — Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa, & Bhagu — in the same way this will be my distribution of gifts,'

" — nor with the thought, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,'

" — but with the thought, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' — on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of Brahma's Retinue. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner. He does not come back to this world.

"This, Sariputta, is the cause, this is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:07 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If people stopped regarding the faults of others, and instead corrected their own defects, perhaps they would find the right way again.

If you look down you will see the ants apparently lost and not knowing which way to run, but if you look up you will see the vast emptiness of space. Then you may wonder about your own significance in this universe, and how you came to be here.



+2

What I find even more worrying is a tiny but perceptible shift amongst modern/Protestant Buddhists that the Buddha ever made a deontic fuss about the practical goals of the householder. I don't think the suttas have ever had a "thou shalt" frame of reference, except as hypothetical imperatives (do this to achieve this).

I confess that I too used to feel revolted by the spiritual materialism I witnessed in merit-making. But it dawned on me that this kind of aversion is simply the product of a curmudgeonly attitude to difference. And it's a latent tendency that drives rebirth in a bad way! Why cling to it?

For a healthy dose of spiritual materialism advocated by the Buddha-

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "Monks, don't be afraid of acts of merit. This is another way of saying what is blissful, desirable, pleasing, endearing, charming — i.e., acts of merit. I am cognizant that, having long performed meritorious deeds, I long experienced desirable, pleasing, endearing, charming results. Having developed a mind of good will for seven years, then for seven aeons of contraction & expansion I didn't return to this world. Whenever the aeon was contracting, I went to the realm of Streaming Radiance. Whenever the aeon was expanding, I reappeared in an empty Brahma-abode. There I was the Great Brahman, the Unconquered Conqueror, All-seeing, & Wielder of Power. Then for thirty-six times I was Sakka, ruler of the gods. For many hundreds of times I was a king, a wheel-turning emperor, a righteous king of Dhamma, conqueror of the four corners of the earth, maintaining stable control over the countryside, endowed with the seven treasures[*] — to say nothing of the times I was a local king. The thought occurred to me: 'Of what action of mine is this the fruit, of what action the result, that I now have such great power & might?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'This is the fruit of my three [types of] action, the result of three types of action, that I now have such great power & might: i.e., generosity, self-control, & restraint.'"

Train in acts of merit
that bring long-lasting bliss —
develop generosity,
a life in tune,
a mind of good-will.
Developing these
three things
that bring about bliss,
the wise reappear
in a world of bliss
unalloyed.

It 22
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:36 am

retrofuturist wrote:On a related note, a Facebook page that I receive notifications from often shows pictures of people offering alms to monks at a certain Dhammayuttika temple.

What I find curious about this is that in all the photos, the adults are looking very stern and po-faced, as if it's a very grave and solemn occasion.

It would be unusual to see a grumpy Thai person in that situation. However, it is a serious, occasion, since it is a time of mindful reflection for the monks and lay people alike, not a time for frivolity. Perhaps you're mistaking seriousness for grumpiness?

Hmm, was going to post a picture of a happy 80-something woman giving alms at our Wat, but the attachment button seems to have disappeared with the upgrade.

So here's a typical Thailand scene, complete with mindful dog...

Image

:anjali:
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:08 am

Greetings,

mikenz66 wrote:Perhaps you're mistaking seriousness for grumpiness?

I have no doubt they're "serious"... but when "seriousness" actually inhibits (rather than promotes) sukha, what use is it?

As Samuel Butler said, "The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:33 am

Hi Retro,

I haven't seen the photos you are talking about, so it's very hard to figure out exactly what you are talking about. However, I think that it would be a mistake to assume that smiling is necessary, or appropriate, at such times, or that lack of a smile signals a negative state of mind. I certainly wouldn't be grinning while the monks were chanting a Pali blessing, as in the photo I posted.

:anjali:
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby plwk » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:16 pm

Mike... unless I have a cat bias, that dog looks like it was going to poop in front of the Bhikkhus... :tongue:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:28 pm

I couldn't bring myself to say it but now that it's been said ... SQUAT!
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:05 pm

plwk wrote:Mike... unless I have a cat bias, that dog looks like it was going to poop in front of the Bhikkhus... :tongue:

Well I did say this was a typical Thailand scene... :jumping:

And I think it's obvious from its expression that it is being very mindful... :tongue:

:anjali:
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby gavesako » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:25 pm

There are well-trained dogs in Thailand who carry buckets with food for the monks on the way from almsround, or pull a cart behind them to help an old monk. Some really clever dogs have even joined in the evening chanting!

:soap:
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Re: The Crisis in Thai Buddhism

Postby gavesako » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:53 pm

The Emotional Lives of Buddhist Monks in Modern Thai Film
By Justin McDaniel


Abstract
As Phra Tham, a forest monk from Southern Thailand, traveled by train from his monastery to his home town for his younger sister’s cremation, he is tormented by visions of Muslim passengers wanting to kill him and the site of his sister being blown apart by a terrorist bomb. He is on the verge of tears the entire trip. This early scene in Nonzee Nimibutr’s film, OK Baytong, is one of many in recent Thai films which depict Southeast Asian Buddhist monks exhibiting extreme emotional joy, anger, or distress. Other films depict monks laughing hysterically, lashing out violently, sobbing uncontrollably, or fearfully trembling. These films, a small selection described below, offer a revealing lens into the myriad ways in which monks are displayed in Thailand. They also demonstrate the value of narrative ethics in the study and teaching of Southeast Asian Buddhism.

Article

[1] Theravada Buddhist monks are often described as the most orthodox and orthopraxic professional adherents of Buddhism. They are bearers of the Vinaya monastic code of 227 precepts which help them monitor every aspect of their daily lives from going to the bathroom, to walking, to sleeping. They deny themselves luxuries of any kind, go on alms rounds, shave their heads and eyebrows, wear simple robes, eat only before noon, and are perpetually shoeless, penniless, and perhaps, expectedly, joyless. Of course, the precepts do not require monks to be joyless or devoid of emotions, but this is the way they are often depicted in documentaries, coffee table books, and even feature films. Indeed, Buddhist monks are regularly depicted as quiet, peaceful, calm, and passive either living in the forest monasteries or meditating in caves. Scenes from feature films like Why has Bodhidharma Left for the East?, The Little Buddha, Angulimala, Seven Years in Tibet, among many others depict monks as calm and reserved. In the classroom, popular documentaries by Alan Watts, Harley educational films, the Long Search Series depict monks as detached ascetics. I particularly noticed the power of this pervasive stereotype after a recent field trip to a local Thai monastery in Southern California. I asked members of my undergraduate course “Introduction to Buddhism,” what surprised them about the monastery they visited. I was struck by a number of their comments. One student wondered why two monks were laughing and sharing jokes with each other. Another asked if it was alright that one monk was playing with a few children at the monastery. One criticized a monk who told the students he missed his family in Thailand. She thought he shouldn’t be so attached. I said, “Don’t you ever miss your family?” She said “of course, but I’m not a monk, he should be more detached.” ...

http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol14.no2/Mc ... dhist.html

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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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