PadmaPhala wrote: Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Its just what I need to study, there's so much I've forgotten, and didn't have time to learn when I lived at the temple. Metta, mega Metta,
Sad, but true, in many Buddhist temples the monks and novices don't have time to learn very much. They're either too busy performing rituals or too busy with building and maintenance work.
Of course, practice is more important than study, but without learning at least the basics about the teachings one won't be able to tell the difference between the direct or only path (ekāyana)
and the exclusive vehicle (ekayāna).
# attachment to rites and rituals...
You bring up a very good point that may be often overlooked in various monastic communities. Or maybe it is just assumed that with the accumulation of greater experience, one will pick up on these things (learning the Dhamma) much quicker as they grow older and (presumably) wiser.
The fact that "monks and novices are too busy performing rituals or too busy with [other manual] work" I don't think presumes an actual "attachment" to rites and rituals, but that these are things that the leadership (abbots) have determined to focus young monks upon in the course of their training. These actions (performing rituals and other work) emphasize a practice methodology of paying attention to the present moment (the practice of mindfulness, in other words; the cultivation of sati
). It becomes part of the practice and training regimen of new members within the community.
What I do
think is important is that there be time set aside for monks and novices who wish to study the teachings in more depth, that that be available to them on a regular basis. That time be set aside in the curriculum for such. And, sadly, as Venerable has mention, this is often not the case.
I recognized the need for this many years ago as a monk myself. When it wasn't being met, I picked up my things and left the religious order (a Western religious order, to be clear), and began seeking it on my own. The saving grace came in the form of the availability of the translated discourses of the Buddha, which I began to collect and read for myself first hand and implement in my daily practice. Study of the teachings became a full-time endeavor, together with meditation/contemplation practice. This study (combined with meditation practice) is what made all the difference in the world. I wish someone had focused me on this much sooner as it would have saved me many years of needless wallowing in dukkha
I think it is fair to say that every individual is unique in his needs with regard to learning the Dhamma and being able to arrive at certain key realizations. Some need to focus more on study than on practice, and vice versa. It all just depends upon the individual. Ideally, a nice medium in these two endeavors would be most beneficial. That's what I strove for. In my particular case, in addition to reading the suttas, it was Bhikkhu Nanananda's two books (Concept and Reality
and The Magic of the Mind
) that really helped me turn the corner and got me over the hump (so to speak).
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV