"The Broken Buddha" by Ven.Dhammika and other scandals

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:30 am

Thanks for the explanation Venerable Fred,

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby namaste » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:02 am

What do members think of the part of the book in which he discusses the Pali canon, and says that there are parts of it that were developed by Theravada, and parts that were ignored, the latter of which became the basis for some of the Mahayana teachings? (Under "What Is Theravada?") He gives a couple of examples, I'll just mention one here:

"For example, the Four Expressions of Sympathy (sangha vatthuni) are frequently mentioned by the Buddha, and could have important implications for a deeper understanding of love and compassion, particularly their social application. Mahayana used them to develop a whole philosophy of practical altruism, but they're given almost no attention in Theravada." He also discusses different versions of dependent origination taught by the Buddha, only one of which was developed into the concept we know as such today.

I find this fascinating. Do readers here feel this is a fair representation of scriptural development?
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:22 am

namaste wrote:"For example, the Four Expressions of Sympathy (sangha vatthuni) are frequently mentioned by the Buddha, and could have important implications for a deeper understanding of love and compassion, particularly their social application. Mahayana used them to develop a whole philosophy of practical altruism, but they're given almost no attention in Theravada."

Bhikkhu Bodhi seems to agree with this...
Buddhist Global Relief wrote:In 2007 the American Buddhist scholar-monk, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, was invited to write an editorial essay for the Buddhist magazine Buddhadharma. In his essay, he called attention to the narrowly inward focus of American Buddhism, which has been pursued to the neglect of the active dimension of Buddhist compassion expressed through programs of social engagement. ...
http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/act ... story.html

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:08 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I've seen people whose faith is based on such "idealized portrait in the sacred texts" become rather unstuck when faced with the problem of maintaining their progress in a world that is far from ideal.


Word. I think there are a lot of people on this forum who fall into that trap. 'I've often thought about it as being similar to a Korean who only gets exposed to the best parts of Christianity and the shock they might get traveling to Europe, the US etc ...
I think only having the idealized vision of Buddhism from the texts untempered by the form Buddhism takes in the every day world drives a lot of hostility towards Venerable Dhammikas book........or at least the refusal among western Buddhists on this forum to accept his message. The every day reality of Buddhism versus the ideal in the text don't have to threaten each other....look at the existence of devout Christians on our own side of the world. They coexist with lax Christians, corrupt Christians and Christians who are ignorant of their own religion too.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:11 pm

fabianfred wrote:I have been living in Thailand for twenty years now since retiring from the army. First in Chiangmai for 5 years then after meeting my wife there I moved to Fang which is her home town.


...

My own home and family is just down the road and since my kids are still young it is nice to be that way.


Can Thai monks marry or have you just stayed in touch with your family after becoming ordained?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:18 pm

namaste wrote:What do members think of the part of the book in which he discusses the Pali canon, and says that there are parts of it that were developed by Theravada, and parts that were ignored, the latter of which became the basis for some of the Mahayana teachings? (Under "What Is Theravada?") He gives a couple of examples, I'll just mention one here:

"For example, the Four Expressions of Sympathy (sangha vatthuni) are frequently mentioned by the Buddha, and could have important implications for a deeper understanding of love and compassion, particularly their social application. Mahayana used them to develop a whole philosophy of practical altruism, but they're given almost no attention in Theravada." He also discusses different versions of dependent origination taught by the Buddha, only one of which was developed into the concept we know as such today.

I find this fascinating. Do readers here feel this is a fair representation of scriptural development?


I don't know.

I found that part of the book fascinating because it shows how much of Asian Buddhism can be Asian rather than Buddhism. In other words, Buddhism could have been very different from it is now and still be as true/not true to the Pali Canon......it was just a matter of what particular cultures chose to become fixated on.

I started reading "In the Buddhas Words" by Bhikkhu Bodhi shortly after I read "The Broken Buddha". In his anthology of the Pali Canon Bodhi included a sutta that stated that giving dana to monks yielded the most kammic rewards. I saw the sutta where much of the corruption Dhammika described in his book started. Instead of one sutta among many, the Asian Sanghas over the centuries made that sutta prominent.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Skeptic » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:07 pm

Jhana4 wrote:I found that part of the book fascinating because it shows how much of Asian Buddhism can be Asian rather than Buddhism.


This is the case with every religion, not just Buddhism. Maybe it's just impossible to make the whole nations to live according to rules made by some prophet many centuries ago. Buddha never claimed that majority of people are going to understand his teachings. Large majority adherents of every religion are never going to care about the real teachings of their religion, they are just going to observe rituals and preserve it as part of tradition. So maybe it was historical necessity to develop this kind of popular Buddhism suitable for the ordinary Asian people.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby appicchato » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:31 pm

fabianfred wrote:One day we might just decide to leave and go tudong....
We just ignore any bad vibes (from the monks or novices) and get on with our own practice... The lay people are very supportive and like our presence which is why alms-round is our favourite time of day.


Pretty much my M.O....I don't spend much time at any one temple (if at all, and always solo)...human nature being what it is, monk or no, 'stuff' always seems to happen (been in Thailand more than thirty, and wouldn't want to be anywhere else though)...I could go on but it's not really to anyone's (that I can see) benefit...again, monk or no, just roll with the punches and get on with it...

ps...Thai (or any Theravadan) monks cannot marry...

ps...the boat ride from Chiang Rai to Fang is great for anyone in the area...
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:55 pm

Skeptic wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:I found that part of the book fascinating because it shows how much of Asian Buddhism can be Asian rather than Buddhism.


This is the case with every religion, not just Buddhism.


I'm glad you agree. I'd like to add that I think the value of making that distinction is that it has the potential to help people avoid wasting their time and to get back to/rediscover the good things the religion has to offer. For American Christianity it would be a matter of discovering that Jesus wasn't an anti-gay crusader and that emphasis is more of an American Christian thing. For Asian Buddhists it might be that the dhamma is not about racking up merit points by drowning monks in gifts.....that there is greater happiness waiting for them in THIS life through meditation and reading the Canon for themselves.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Nicro » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:43 pm

appicchato wrote:
fabianfred wrote:One day we might just decide to leave and go tudong....
We just ignore any bad vibes (from the monks or novices) and get on with our own practice... The lay people are very supportive and like our presence which is why alms-round is our favourite time of day.


Pretty much my M.O....I don't spend much time at any one temple (if at all, and always solo)...human nature being what it is, monk or no, 'stuff' always seems to happen (been in Thailand more than thirty, and wouldn't want to be anywhere else though)...I could go on but it's not really to anyone's (that I can see) benefit...again, monk or no, just roll with the punches and get on with it...

ps...Thai (or any Theravadan) monks cannot marry...

ps...the boat ride from Chiang Rai to Fang is great for anyone in the area...



I thought monks could only get a visa 9 years in a row?
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:36 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
fabianfred wrote:I have been living in Thailand for twenty years now since retiring from the army. First in Chiangmai for 5 years then after meeting my wife there I moved to Fang which is her home town.


...

My own home and family is just down the road and since my kids are still young it is nice to be that way.


Can Thai monks marry or have you just stayed in touch with your family after becoming ordained?

See Ven Fred's discussion of his ordination here: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=3916

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby namaste » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:39 pm

The other example of selectivity in doctrine based on the Pali canon is the doctrine of dependent origination. Dhammika says:

"There are two versions of this doctrine--one showing the arising of suffering, and the other showing the arising of liberation and freedom. The first of these ... features in virtually every book on Theravada... The second, and one would think the more important of the two, is virtually unknown, even by learned Theravadins. ... Carolyn Rhys Davis called this positive version of dependent origination an 'oasis' and asked, 'How might it have altered the whole face of Buddhism in the West if that sequence had been made the illustration of the causal law!' Indeed, how might it have altered the whole face of Theravada in Asia?"

I find that this type of analysis raises tantalizing possibilities. It seems there's a wealth of doctrine to be mined from overlooked segments of the canon that could do much to enrich our understanding and practice of Buddhism. This would make an exciting and rewarding project for scholars--really, a potentially great gift to mankind, or at least, Buddhist-kind.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:47 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I've seen people whose faith is based on such "idealized portrait in the sacred texts" become rather unstuck when faced with the problem of maintaining their progress in a world that is far from ideal.


Word. I think there are a lot of people on this forum who fall into that trap. 'I've often thought about it as being similar to a Korean who only gets exposed to the best parts of Christianity and the shock they might get traveling to Europe, the US etc ...
I think only having the idealized vision of Buddhism from the texts untempered by the form Buddhism takes in the every day world drives a lot of hostility towards Venerable Dhammikas book........or at least the refusal among western Buddhists on this forum to accept his message. The every day reality of Buddhism versus the ideal in the text don't have to threaten each other....look at the existence of devout Christians on our own side of the world. They coexist with lax Christians, corrupt Christians and Christians who are ignorant of their own religion too.

I agree. There is good and bad everywhere.

The problem I have with the book is when the observations in it are taken as:
1. Something surprising; or
2. Implying that there are not plenty of good lay and monastic practitioners in Asia.

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:50 pm

namaste wrote:The other example of selectivity in doctrine based on the Pali canon is the doctrine of dependent origination. Dhammika says:

"There are two versions of this doctrine--one showing the arising of suffering, and the other showing the arising of liberation and freedom.

I guess he's talking about this sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el277.html
Transcendental Dependent Arising
A Translation and Exposition of the Upanisa Sutta
by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:45 pm

mikenz66 wrote:The problem I have with the book is when the observations in it are taken as:
1. Something surprising;


My view is that isn't a problem with the book, but one of the inspirations for it having been written. Like my hypothetical Korean Christian convert, Western Buddhists have only been exposed to the best texts and the best teachers. Not everyone has had the opportunity to travel and spend time in Asia. I think it is reasonable that some people would get a mistakenly idealized vision of every day Buddhism. In fact Venerable Dhammika stated that one of the reasons why he wrote his book was that he was aware that only the good sides of Buddhism were being written about.......giving people a lopsided picture.


or
2. Implying that there are not plenty of good lay and monastic practitioners in Asia.


I believe Venerable Dhammika mentioned that he believed that to be the case. He also wrote that he didn't empathize that in his book because that side of the story is told almost exclusively. He wrote his book to tell the other side of the story.

He wrote his book in hopes that it would inspire progressive change, which would have been a pointless effort if there weren't good Buddhists in Asia.



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Mike[/quote]
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby appicchato » Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:13 am

Nicro wrote:I thought monks could only get a visa 9 years in a row?


Presently believe this to be true...sorry if I mislead...have resided in Thailand for thirty-some (with literally hundreds of visas and border crossings), five as a monk...
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Cilla » Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:51 am

This thread is a bit too long for me to read beyond the first page. I think i've got the general idea. I just want to make a quick point relating to the initial OP.

There is criticism of all traditions of buddhism i think and i think the cultural shifts has a lot to do with it. I think the criticisms are relevant and helpful. It might be perfectly sensible and acceptable for thais to follow the thai traditions but when the thai traditions are transmitted to a western context, the people find aspects of it problematic. To me that's quite normal.

Two books i've read that address these issues are:

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor. He was ordained as a tibettan monk. He eventually disrobed to get married, after being a monk also in the zen tradition for a time. His main criticism as far as i can see is the dogmatism of tibettan buddhism. It simply wasn't acceptable to question anything. Ultimately you had to conform. Given the buddha's emphasis on discover it for yourself and don't trust me, this seems a perfectly acceptable criticism.

The other book which takes a wider overview and less critical is The New Buddhism by James William Coleman. I think this is an excellent book to get a good feel for buddhism as it has arrived in the west and how westerners related to buddhism and its practices. He just doesn't write about buddhism in the west and its teething problems. He gives a good background to all the buddhist traditions and their development. (Though my part i'd love to see book that treats that as a topic in itself because his book couldn't go into it deeply enough.)

I am now rather interested to read this book that's been mentioned though it probably doesn't have a lot of specific relevance to me, though i may one day have a different view of that if i end up involved more closely with theravada buddhism than currently.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:37 am

Cilla wrote:I am now rather interested to read this book that's been mentioned though it probably doesn't have a lot of specific relevance to me, though i may one day have a different view of that if i end up involved more closely with theravada buddhism than currently.


Get your free PDF copy here:
here
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:37 am

Cilla wrote:Two books i've read that address these issues are:

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor. ...

The New Buddhism by James William Coleman. I think this is an excellent book to get a good feel for buddhism as it has arrived in the west and how westerners related to buddhism and its practices. He just doesn't write about buddhism in the west and its teething problems. He gives a good background to all the buddhist traditions and their development.

I am now rather interested to read this book that's been mentioned though it probably doesn't have a lot of specific relevance to me, though i may one day have a different view of that if i end up involved more closely with theravada buddhism than currently.

Hi, Cilla,
Batchelor and his book have been discussed extensively here. If a site search doesn't give you useful results, try a Google search limited to http://www.dhammawheel.com
I have read Coleman's book and agree, it's good. Not so much discussed here, IIRC. Not so negative as Batchelor or Dhammika, and that's nice.
I don't think you'll get a lot from Dhammika's book having read Coleman and Batchelor, so there are probably better books for you at this stage.
Two other books that are relevant to the discussion are both, oddly, called 'The Naked Buddha'.
One is a useful, positive, back-to-the-basics look at Buddhism by Howley. The other is more along the lines of Batchelor - see http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1227156.The_Naked_Buddha_The_Man_and_His_Teaching_Without_Ritual_or_Religion (it's just the first site that popped up - there are probably better reviews of it if you search).

:namaste:
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Postby Zom » Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:56 am

He wrote his book in hopes that it would inspire progressive change, which would have been a pointless effort if there weren't good Buddhists in Asia.


I think the intention was somehow different. It seems like he felt hurt by tradition and circumstances and decided to "make a revenge".
Otherwise he whould have mentioned positive sides of Theravada - but he didn't.
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