Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

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Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby zgott333 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:23 pm

Lets say for arguments sake that I was to disagree with a specific part of monastic life. Maybe I consider one meal a day to be too little for me and believe that two meals, separated by about six hours or so wouldn't cause me to cling to sustenance so much as to impair my ability to achieve my spiritual goals. I don't mind if they spend the rest of their life trying to change my opinion, as I am always willing to hear another side on a matter, but will they tell me I cannot? And if they do, how would they be able to rationalize it with sound logic? Do not respond to me "Then don't ordain if you can't follow the rules" as the principal of being able to freely challenge any aspect of Buddhism is what matters to me.
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby reflection » Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:39 pm

Of course, I can't tell you what they will say. But to avoid the problem, you can always go to a monastery where there are more meals a day.

If you just want to know why you can't challenge every aspect of Buddhism, well, of course you can. Even as a monk, but you risk getting disrobed. And that's only logical: a monastery is a community, so just like any other community, it needs guidelines and rules to keep everybody in harmony. As far as we know, the precepts existing in the texts come from the Lord Buddha himself, so if you don't agree or see the benefit, you can also follow them out of respect.
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:14 pm

Read the Bhaddali Sutta.
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby zgott333 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:38 pm

Being at risked of being disrobed is the same thing as being unable to freely challenge it, because by punishing you for it they discourage it. A community does need rules to maintain harmony but that's not to say all rules will always affect a community's harmony. Even in this example right here, my challenge affects nothing more than the number of times I eat per day. Why should a rule only placed for your benefit be met with the threat of being disrobed when questioned? As for the Buddha, he's done nothing but claim he can teach a person to be rid of suffering, therefor I, speaking for myself cannot truly respect him for ridding people's suffering until I find out for myself that this claim is valid. Which is actually completely beside the point anyways because if I were to ignore this dogmatism out of respect for him, he wouldn't have a dogma in the first place.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is then time to pause and reflect. - Mark Twain
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. - Martin Luther King Jr.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmond Burke
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:56 pm

zgott333 wrote:Lets say for arguments sake that I was to disagree with a specific part of monastic life. Maybe I consider one meal a day to be too little for me and believe that two meals, separated by about six hours or so wouldn't cause me to cling to sustenance so much as to impair my ability to achieve my spiritual goals. I don't mind if they spend the rest of their life trying to change my opinion, as I am always willing to hear another side on a matter, but will they tell me I cannot? And if they do, how would they be able to rationalize it with sound logic? Do not respond to me "Then don't ordain if you can't follow the rules" as the principal of being able to freely challenge any aspect of Buddhism is what matters to me.
if you want to accept the training on your terms it isn't training is it!
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:58 pm

No one is forced to be a monk or nun. Why not just be a lay person and do your studying and questioning as a lay person? And then when you see its efficacy look at the possibility of ordaining at some later date. One can reach all the way to arahant as a lay person.
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby James the Giant » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:33 pm

zgott333 wrote:Lets say for arguments sake that I was to disagree with a specific part of monastic life. Maybe I consider one meal a day to be too little for me and believe that two meals, separated by about six hours or so wouldn't cause me to cling to sustenance so much as to impair my ability to achieve my spiritual goals.

Just for the sake of argument... where would you get the food from?
You can't buy it.
You can't cook it.
You can't prepare it.
You have to have it offered to you by a layperson.
They'd have to come to the monastery specially to feed just you.
Then they would have to clean up afterwards.
Every day.
All because you can't do like the other monks do and be satisfied with one meal per day.
I understand your example was just for argument's sake, but unless you wanted to be breaking more than just the single Eat-Before-Noon rule, it gets a little complicated you see.

I know of some monks with dietary problems, blood sugar stuff, diabetes, etc, and they manage fine with one meal per day. They're allowed to have sugar, cheese and medicines, etc outside the one meal per day, if it's for "medical" reasons.
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby reflection » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:07 pm

zgott333 wrote:Being at risked of being disrobed is the same thing as being unable to freely challenge it, because by punishing you for it they discourage it. A community does need rules to maintain harmony but that's not to say all rules will always affect a community's harmony. Even in this example right here, my challenge affects nothing more than the number of times I eat per day. Why should a rule only placed for your benefit be met with the threat of being disrobed when questioned? As for the Buddha, he's done nothing but claim he can teach a person to be rid of suffering, therefor I, speaking for myself cannot truly respect him for ridding people's suffering until I find out for myself that this claim is valid. Which is actually completely beside the point anyways because if I were to ignore this dogmatism out of respect for him, he wouldn't have a dogma in the first place.

Well, as said, who's going to cook it, buy it, offer it etc? A monk that keeps all the precepts also is not allowed to make his own meal. So the rule to eat in the morning only ensures the lay community is not burdened too much, thus keeping harmony. Also its very harmonious if everybody joins in with the meals and doesn't have their own snack times.

I am contemplating ordination and don't like all the precepts. I also don't see the use of them all. But I think humility and acceptance are important aspects of a monk's life. To take on the rules is a training in its own right. It doesn't even really matter if the rules are all practical. I'm pretty sure many monks don't like all the rules, but they still live with them. They may have a hard time, but they learn because of it. If you don't want to follow all precepts, but still want to ordain, you can try to find a monastery where the precepts are not kept strictly. There are monasteries where the monks play instruments, cook their own food, etc. You may have to look outside of Theravada for this. Me, if I'll ordain, I'll probably get over my objections and try to live by all precepts as well as possible.

Consider this: You get all the time you need to develop your compassion and wisdom. You don't have to worry about food, kids, a house, car, insurance, taxes etc. etc. Basically the only thing you need to do in return is follow some precepts. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby James the Giant » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:26 pm

zgott333 wrote: Why should a rule only placed for your benefit be met with the threat of being disrobed when questioned?

Just adding: I realised with the example you gave, there is no risk of being disrobed. The most they could do it ask you to leave the monastery, and find somewhere more compatible to live.
The eating after midday rule is not a disrobing offense. The disrobing (Parajika) offenses are basically having sex, stealing, killing, and lying that you're attained some superhuman state.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby alan » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:50 am

Over reliance on rules seems to me to be a big hinderance. Thinking for yourself seems to me to be an advantage.
If the monastery is run by non-thinking rule followers, maybe you should go out alone.
Institutions, including Monasteries, are usually run by people not capable of independent thought.
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:59 am

So you're thinking of being a monk but are already thinking about the rules you want to be exempted from? then why think about being a monk at all?
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby zgott333 » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:18 am

James the Giant wrote:
zgott333 wrote:Lets say for arguments sake that I was to disagree with a specific part of monastic life. Maybe I consider one meal a day to be too little for me and believe that two meals, separated by about six hours or so wouldn't cause me to cling to sustenance so much as to impair my ability to achieve my spiritual goals.

Just for the sake of argument... where would you get the food from?
You can't buy it.
You can't cook it.
You can't prepare it.
You have to have it offered to you by a layperson.
They'd have to come to the monastery specially to feed just you.
Then they would have to clean up afterwards.
Every day.
All because you can't do like the other monks do and be satisfied with one meal per day.
I understand your example was just for argument's sake, but unless you wanted to be breaking more than just the single Eat-Before-Noon rule, it gets a little complicated you see.

I know of some monks with dietary problems, blood sugar stuff, diabetes, etc, and they manage fine with one meal per day. They're allowed to have sugar, cheese and medicines, etc outside the one meal per day, if it's for "medical" reasons.


But if you consider the reason they're happy to eat once a day, which is that the Buddha says it will help to reach enlightenment by not clinging to it, it becomes dogmatism because you only have his word to go on. And you would consider it selfish of me to not want to be hungry all the time because everyone is so excited and absorbed in doing something they perceive will aid in their quest for enlightenment while completely ignoring the fact that there isn't any proof. (Which I must add is rather ironic as a goal of Buddhism is to become wiser.) Which isn't to say the concept of eating less in general isn't a logical idea, that I completely and totally understand, but what makes one meal ok, and two meals not ok? What is it about that second meal that creates so much craving as to require an enforceable rule stating it isn't acceptable? Would it not have made more sense for the Buddha to simply ask us not to over eat because it makes us crave it? Ah, but maybe he didn't trust our judgement enough to make the rule so subjective... huh.. that still doesn't justify the dogmatism of the rule though, as he could have just put more emphasis on being absolutely sure you're eating a correct amount. He surely didn't have to resort to dogmatism. A good idea as far as my example is concerned is just to make a second, optional lunchtime later in the evening, any reason why that wouldn't work other than the dogmatic skepticism of monastic authority figures?
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is then time to pause and reflect. - Mark Twain
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr.
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. - Martin Luther King Jr.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmond Burke
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby James the Giant » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:54 pm

zgott333 wrote:But if you consider the reason they're happy to eat once a day, which is that the Buddha says it will help to reach enlightenment by not clinging to it, it becomes dogmatism because you only have his word to go on. And you would consider it selfish of me to not want to be hungry all the time because everyone is so excited and absorbed in doing something they perceive will aid in their quest for enlightenment while completely ignoring the fact that there isn't any proof. (Which I must add is rather ironic as a goal of Buddhism is to become wiser.)

But you see, there is proof. Once you have done it for a while, you see that you get sharper, less dull in the afternoon and evening, have more time to do other things. Meditation in the evening, after having no dinner, is WAY better than with dinner. There are lots of benefits it turns out. At least, that's my experience. So it's not just dogmatism, it's an experienced thing which seems to have benefits for the monks who do it.
For me, having a sharp clear mind in the evening, plus an extra hour, is more valuable than a full belly.
And, to be honest, those feelings of slight hunger give us something to be aware of, a small tiny suffering we can use as a reference and reminder.

zgott333 wrote:Would it not have made more sense for the Buddha to simply ask us not to over eat because it makes us crave it? Ah, but maybe he didn't trust our judgement enough to make the rule so subjective... huh.. that still doesn't justify the dogmatism of the rule though, as he could have just put more emphasis on being absolutely sure you're eating a correct amount. He surely didn't have to resort to dogmatism. A good idea as far as my example is concerned is just to make a second, optional lunchtime later in the evening, any reason why that wouldn't work

That's a fair point. My guess for why he put it that way is just the style of the times back then, and what would work in terms of being an easily understood, easily remembered, easily chanted guideline. Plus needing to be a guideline that wouldn't be too badly bent by thousands of years of lazy hungry monks wanting to justify eating more.
The monastic rules are short, concise, compact, and to the point. Any rule phrased like that is going to sound pretty dogmatic.

One final thing before I go to bed...
Part of the reason for all the rules, is to help monks in giving up.
Giving up their preferences, giving up their desires and wants, and letting them go.
This practise of giving up, following the trainings, helps us when we are giving up more serious things. Not just giving up the desire for a full stomach, but giving up lust, relinquishing anger, letting go of negative thought patterns and behaviours, etc.
Letting go, submitting to the rule about food, all the hundreds of silly little dogmatic rules, is good practise for the bigger letting-go that must happen later.
And at that point, the rules themselves are let go of.
And I am sooo looking forward to that.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:30 pm

James the Giant wrote:One final thing before I go to bed...
Part of the reason for all the rules, is to help monks in giving up.
Giving up their preferences, giving up their desires and wants, and letting them go.
This practise of giving up, following the trainings, helps us when we are giving up more serious things. Not just giving up the desire for a full stomach, but giving up lust, relinquishing anger, letting go of negative thought patterns and behaviours, etc.
Letting go, submitting to the rule about food, all the hundreds of silly little dogmatic rules, is good practise for the bigger letting-go that must happen later.
And at that point, the rules themselves are let go of.
And I am sooo looking forward to that.

This is great advice. You should never do something that you think is wrong, even if a monk tells you to, but following rules you might not immediately find beneficial is a great way to break down the ego and let go of preferences. Monastic training is supposed to be uncomfortable at times, and you're supposed to give up a small bit of your autonomy - not in the service of "dogmatism" but as to challenge and uproot the unexamined desires we carry with us daily.
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Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
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Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:19 pm

zgott333 wrote:
A good idea as far as my example is concerned is just to make a second, optional lunchtime later in the evening, any reason why that wouldn't work other than the dogmatic skepticism of monastic authority figures?


Several people have already provided many reasons why a second lunch should not be done which has nothing to do with dogmatism (not burdening the lay people, better health, better concentration, less desire, etc.).

See also this thread: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=3045
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Re: Confrontation of Monastic rules only concerning yourself

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:32 pm

have you ever tried it?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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