Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Subharo
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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Subharo » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:14 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:45 am
I don't know how to locate this within the Vinaya
BMC 1, Chapter 2 ("Nissaya"), pg. 36 (bottom), Section "Duties", sub-section "The pupil's duties to his mentor" (and "mentor" expands to meaning both Acariya and Preceptor), item 2 ("Assisting the mentor in any problems he may have with regard to the Dhamma and Vinaya. The Mahavagga lists the following examples"), sub-item c).:
If the preceptor begins to hold to wrong views, the pupil should try to pry him away from those views or find someone else who can, or give him a Dhamma talk.
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"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Subharo » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:25 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:28 am
It's not just about saving face, it's about preserving one's livelihood!
I've weighed the risks and decided to say something anyway.
binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:28 am
Subharo wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:20 pm
I'm a Majjhima monk (9 vassas), not a Senior monk. If I were to try to have a discussion (in the Westerner sense of that term) with a monk of, say, 20 vassas, then it probably wouldn't really be a discussion (again, in the Westerner sense of the term). Hierarchy would probably make it such that I'm the Audience hearing a one-way Dhamma talk from the Senior monk.
/.../
And a lay person is on principle in a similar position as such a junior monk. Even moreso a lay female.
Agreed.
binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:28 am
Subharo wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:12 am
Perhaps this is why you might perhaps see industrial grade-emphasis on loyalty within Theravada monasticism, which I feel is much more Confucian (or Hindu, take your pick) than Buddhist. In my case (which is an insider's view, unlike many people on this forum who like to think they know a situation that they have never actually been in), the view "you're not grateful until you are loyal" was pressed upon me strongly, however there are but scant traces of this particular message in the teachings of the Buddha (while Confucious pretty much jumps up and down, all but screaming this message).
Lay people sometimes get this as well, from other laypeople and from monks. There sometimes develops a clique mentality.
Majorly. You said it, sister!
binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:28 am
I smile as I read your posts. I think, "He's so going to get mauled for what he's saying, it's going to cost him his head!"
Indeed they will almost certainly try, should they ever get the chance. Hey, Edward Snowden! Do you have a kuti in your back yard I could stay in? Just kidding.
binocular wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:28 am
And I'm saying this with both gladness that someone dares to speak up like that, but also with concern over the consequences talking like this will have for him.
It's very kind of you to voice your concern. One of the highly, highly important parts of Samana life is the ability to freely move on and go elsewhere (you know, go "wandering"), if a monk needs to.

Now that I've spent some time in Asia, I'm seeing that it's actually quite realistic to approach various Vinaya-respecting Theravada monasteries, and they'll let you stay for some time. My life has improved considerably since I decided to start talking this way, which is quite unintuitive.
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"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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Sam Vara
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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:15 pm

Subharo wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:14 am

BMC 1, Chapter 2 ("Nissaya"), pg. 36 (bottom), Section "Duties", sub-section "The pupil's duties to his mentor" (and "mentor" expands to meaning both Acariya and Preceptor), item 2 ("Assisting the mentor in any problems he may have with regard to the Dhamma and Vinaya. The Mahavagga lists the following examples"), sub-item c).:
If the preceptor begins to hold to wrong views, the pupil should try to pry him away from those views or find someone else who can, or give him a Dhamma talk.
Ah, excellent - many thanks for this, Bhante.

And good luck with any prying away from any wrong views!

Could I please ask which lineage/monastery you are in?

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by binocular » Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:32 pm

Subharo wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:25 am
Now that I've spent some time in Asia, I'm seeing that it's actually quite realistic to approach various Vinaya-respecting Theravada monasteries, and they'll let you stay for some time. My life has improved considerably since I decided to start talking this way, which is quite unintuitive.
Perhaps they see you as a moralizing busybody and show you mercy! :tongue:

Seriously, I think there's one important factor to consider, and that is when people seem to blindly adhere to the hierarchy, or when they seem to save face, other interpretations of what's going on are possible. Primarily, a concern for hamony. A person could be concerned for harmony, or save face, or blindly adhere to the hierarchy -- and externally, it could all look the same.

Thinking about what you've been saying I remembered a difficult situation I once had with a Asian Buddhist lady. At the time, I didn't put much attention to it, but it comes to me now again. Namely, I was "just being myself", talking to a monk like he's someone I can talk to openly and without restraint, referenced suttas, and such. And this Asian lady criticized me severely for doing so (throwing in the whole, European-white-female, with the implication that whites don't understand Dhamma). She said that she struggles how to explain this to me, and she said the best she can do is to tell the story of the boy who hammered nails into a fence and then pulled them out. (The story goes that a boy hammered nails into a fence. Upon seeing that he shouldn't have done that, he pulled them out. But the woodden planks were damaged anyway. The moral of the story being that one should not hurt people in the first place and that apologizing doesn't really mend things.)

I didn't understand how come she said that then, but I'm beginning to do so now. I think we saw the situation vastly differently. In my view, I was simply being an impostor in a Buddhist establishment; I thought the people there don't care about me and that they consider me expendable; and that I simply need to get what I can and have to fight for and earn even the smallest bit of respect (which is the attitude that seems most prudent in many Western settings). I thought the others saw it that way too. It seems though that she saw it quite differently; that even though I was new and foreign, she accepted me and didn't think me expendable; that simply by being there, I was already part of their group, and therefore should focus on the group's principles, and most of all, harmony.

This is something that I, as a Westerner, find very difficult to understand. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Saengnapha » Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:50 am

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:32 pm
Subharo wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:25 am
Now that I've spent some time in Asia, I'm seeing that it's actually quite realistic to approach various Vinaya-respecting Theravada monasteries, and they'll let you stay for some time. My life has improved considerably since I decided to start talking this way, which is quite unintuitive.
Perhaps they see you as a moralizing busybody and show you mercy! :tongue:

Seriously, I think there's one important factor to consider, and that is when people seem to blindly adhere to the hierarchy, or when they seem to save face, other interpretations of what's going on are possible. Primarily, a concern for hamony. A person could be concerned for harmony, or save face, or blindly adhere to the hierarchy -- and externally, it could all look the same.

Thinking about what you've been saying I remembered a difficult situation I once had with a Asian Buddhist lady. At the time, I didn't put much attention to it, but it comes to me now again. Namely, I was "just being myself", talking to a monk like he's someone I can talk to openly and without restraint, referenced suttas, and such. And this Asian lady criticized me severely for doing so (throwing in the whole, European-white-female, with the implication that whites don't understand Dhamma). She said that she struggles how to explain this to me, and she said the best she can do is to tell the story of the boy who hammered nails into a fence and then pulled them out. (The story goes that a boy hammered nails into a fence. Upon seeing that he shouldn't have done that, he pulled them out. But the woodden planks were damaged anyway. The moral of the story being that one should not hurt people in the first place and that apologizing doesn't really mend things.)

I didn't understand how come she said that then, but I'm beginning to do so now. I think we saw the situation vastly differently. In my view, I was simply being an impostor in a Buddhist establishment; I thought the people there don't care about me and that they consider me expendable; and that I simply need to get what I can and have to fight for and earn even the smallest bit of respect (which is the attitude that seems most prudent in many Western settings). I thought the others saw it that way too. It seems though that she saw it quite differently; that even though I was new and foreign, she accepted me and didn't think me expendable; that simply by being there, I was already part of their group, and therefore should focus on the group's principles, and most of all, harmony.

This is something that I, as a Westerner, find very difficult to understand. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.
I don't understand what your point is. You tell a story and fill in how you interpret it. So?

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Subharo » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:23 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:15 pm
Subharo wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:14 am

BMC 1, Chapter 2 ("Nissaya"), pg. 36 (bottom), Section "Duties", sub-section "The pupil's duties to his mentor" (and "mentor" expands to meaning both Acariya and Preceptor), item 2 ("Assisting the mentor in any problems he may have with regard to the Dhamma and Vinaya. The Mahavagga lists the following examples"), sub-item c).:
If the preceptor begins to hold to wrong views, the pupil should try to pry him away from those views or find someone else who can, or give him a Dhamma talk.
And good luck with any prying away from any wrong views!
From MN 58, "To Prince Abhaya":
8. “So too, prince, such speech as the Tathāgata knows to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, and which is also unwelcome and disagreeable to others: such speech the Tathāgata does not utter.

Such speech as the Tathāgata knows to be true and correct but unbeneficial, and which is also unwelcome and disagreeable to others: such speech the Tathāgata does not utter.

Such speech as the Tathāgata knows to be true, correct, and beneficial, but which is unwelcome and disagreeable to others: the Tathāgata knows the time to use such speech.

Such speech as the Tathāgata knows to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, but which is welcome and agreeable to others: such speech the Tathāgata does not utter.

Such speech as the Tathāgata knows to be true and correct but unbeneficial, and which is welcome and agreeable to others: such speech the Tathāgata does not utter.

Such speech as the Tathāgata knows to be true, correct, and beneficial, and which is welcome and agreeable to others: the Tathāgata knows the time to use such speech. Why is that? Because the Tathāgata has compassion for beings.”
So there is no situation where the Buddha will certainly respond (no matter what). And there are also certain careful conditions where what he has to say will be "unwelcome and disagreeable" to those who hear it, but he utters it anyway. This directly contradicts the view commonly championed by Confucius, which goes something like "elders are invincibly correct, or at least you are morally obliged to act that way, out of "respect", even if they assert something like '1 + 1 = 3'" (so that they don't hear anything which is 'unwelcome and disagreeable', which might euphemistically be called "harmonious").

Is my speech true and correct? I'd like to think so. Is it beneficial? I'd like to think so (in a longer-term sense), but you don't seem to agree (Binocular), which is your right. Fair enough. Is it "unwelcome and disagreeable"? To many here, probably.
Last edited by Subharo on Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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perkele
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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by perkele » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:50 am

binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:32 pm
/.../
Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:50 am
I don't understand what your point is. You tell a story and fill in how you interpret it. So?
From a list of previously suggested topics for discussion:
James Tan wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:24 pm
5. Seniority principle (respect) is in accord with the nature law , similar to filial piety , is a kind of virtue not otherwise .
That is one Dhamma topic which is not discussed very much.

It seems Asians (especially buddhists, maybe?) by and large tend to have a vastly different culturally inoculated approach to it than westerners.

And it is an important topic: Opening the Door to the Dhamma - Respect in Buddhist Thought & Practice. What is respectful or disrespectful? Where is respect due and how is it shown or withheld? People can have vastly different perspectives on that. The Buddha taught about it in various ways. Underlying human (or samsaric being :thinking:) nature may be quite the same for everyone, but cultures are different, people's learnt ways and social rules are different.

Discussing it, sharing one's experiences, difficulties and perceived differences between people's outlooks on it and behaviours around it seems helpful to me. It helps to understand others (and oneself maybe, too).

Saraniya Sutta: Conducive to Amiability
One necessary foundational step seems to be to get a sense where people are coming from (whether literally or figuratively).

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by James Tan » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:10 am

perkele wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:50 am
binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:32 pm
/.../
Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:50 am
I don't understand what your point is. You tell a story and fill in how you interpret it. So?
From a list of previously suggested topics for discussion:
James Tan wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:24 pm
5. Seniority principle (respect) is in accord with the nature law , similar to filial piety , is a kind of virtue not otherwise .
That is one Dhamma topic which is not discussed very much.

It seems Asians (especially buddhists, maybe?) by and large tend to have a vastly different culturally inoculated approach to it than westerners.

And it is an important topic: Respect. What is respectful or disrespectful? Where is respect due and how is it shown or withheld? People can have vastly different perspectives on that. The Buddha taught about it in various ways. Underlying human (or samsaric being :thinking:) nature may be quite the same for everyone, but cultures are different, people's learnt ways and social rules are different.

Discussing it, sharing one's experiences, difficulties and perceived differences between people's outlooks on it and behaviours around it seems helpful to me. It helps to understand others (and oneself maybe, too).

Saraniya Sutta: Conducive to Amiability
One necessary foundational step seems to be to get a sense where people are coming from (whether literally or figuratively).
I was wondering why the westerners seems like never stays with their parents/elders , or taking care of their wellbeing even though they are in good terms ? Even the Asian peoples nowadays are leaving behind traditional values and pursuing so called material comfort and happiness that we modern world advocating . Would it be due to the reasons such as freedom , individuality , equality , self interest , humans right is above everything else more than being responsible , caring , bonding and filial piety ?

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Subharo » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:19 am

perkele wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:50 am
James Tan wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:24 pm
5. Seniority principle (respect) is in accord with the nature law , similar to filial piety , is a kind of virtue not otherwise .
That is one Dhamma topic which is not discussed very much.
...because it's primarily a Confucian idea, IMHO. Confucius coined the term "filial piety" (not to mention the "natural law" of heaven and earth; I've read "The Sayings of Confucious", translated by James R. Ware, BTW, which spells it all out plainly), and not the Buddha. Sure, there are many times when the Buddha praised showing respect for elders (and I don't deny that), and that respect does get codified in certain ways in the Vinaya. But after reading all the (EBT) Suttas, I would say that for every time the Buddha told the younger monks to respect the older monks (and it was nowhere to the degree you see in Confucianism, which becomes this absolute reason for existence, pretty much), there were much more often times when the Buddha set limits and checks on the senior monks (giving them no special "invincibility" above younger monks in many, many ways), so that they would not conveniently use and abuse the authority they had, to oppress the younger monks.

Only someone who has actually read the EBT Suttas in their entirety (ideally more than once), would be able to see these patterns emerge, in a comparative sense. Of course, the Senior monks of these days love to teach the Suttas all about showing respect to the Senior monks, but how often do they "balance those teachings out" by mentioning the Suttas which place checks and balances on the Senior monks, as I have done here? To hear them tell it, it's the other way around: the Buddha was pretty much all about "respect for elders", with virtually nothing to the contrary.

Again, I point people to the AN 4's, 5's, and AN 2.101-117 (in the Wisdom Pubs translations), just to name a few. Please don't take my word for this. By all means, please go read for yourselves.

Interestingly, in the Dhammayut tradition of Thailand, Senior monks, by default, get these, and only these special privileges (as seen in the VInaya):

1. They get first pick of the almsfood offered.
2. They get first pick of the robes offered.
3. They get first pick of the lodgings (the best of what's currently available).
4. They get first pick of the medicines offered.

Note how these pertain to the 4 requisites.

There's also a formal little ceremony that monks are supposed to do, by Vinaya (called the "Sanghadana Apalokana"), to fairly and equitably split up the donations that have come for the entire Sangha (and the Elders get first pick). But some traditions have done away with this ceremony altogether, never even so much as mentioning its existence to new monks (and the abbots sometimes act like the donations all effectively belong to them, and you often need to ask their permission to have access to any of these donations, even if they were given explicitly to the whole Sangha).

Here's the Pali that is supposed to be recited in front of the whole gathered Bhikkhu sangha (at least, here is the Sri Lankan formulation, the Thais do it a bit differently):
Yagge bhante sangho jānātu.

Ayam pathamabago therassa pāpunāti,
avasesā bhāgā amhakaṁ papunanti.

Dutiyampi ayam pathamabago therassa pāpunāti,
avasesā bhāgā amhakaṁ papunanti.

Tatiyampi ayam pathamabago therassa pāpunāti,
avasesā bhāgā amhakaṁ papunanti.
The approximate meaning is something like "these donations have been given to the Sangha. The Elders get first pick. Then any Bhikkhu gets to take what he needs."

Having said this, some communities have formally-appointed "stores monks" (which is explained in the Vinaya) to prevent monks from taking too much from the stores, and warding off thieves in general (by keeping certain things under lock and key at certain times).
Last edited by Subharo on Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:42 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by perkele » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:05 am

James Tan wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:10 am
I was wondering why the westerners seems like never stays with their parents/elders , or taking care of their wellbeing even though they are in good terms ? Even the Asian peoples nowadays are leaving behind traditional values and pursuing so called material comfort and happiness that we modern world advocating . Would it be due to the reasons such as freedom , individuality , equality , self interest , humans right is above everything else more than being responsible , caring , bonding and filial piety ?
I think so, yes.
The last excerpt from the following video is probably less an example of "typical Asian", but more a general illustration of the influence of modernization and consumer culture, whether eastern or western. It is just that westerners have come to this "modernized age" earlier.
What North Koreans Think Of South Korea
People don't feel so much belonging or dependence on others anymore, and it is also not seen as "cool" to do so. Not even by parents who would feel a bit awkward about it (even if they long for it and might get grudgeful because of it). I think it is not that people would not want more sense of belonging and communal integrity, as well as good family relations. But I think the "estrangement" goes back more than one generation here. Many have grown up in somewhat broken incohesive families, due to the parent generation already seeking for freedom or rebellion a little more than before and not keeping their own relationships intact, I think. And thus, people largely just don't know so much about better, healthier ways anymore. And on the other hand, some Asian ways of "filial piety" and so on may seem to westerners already like unhealthy extremes, even for people before this generation.

This may be all going a bit too off-topic, since I think the ways of respect which the Buddha (maybe more implicitly than explicitly) emphasized go beyond family values. After all, he even led many to leave their families and go into the noble homeless life, and give up their family, clan and caste. But he certainly taught about their importance as well, and without having a solid sense of such worldly relations and indebtedness I guess one cannot really "go beyond".

The ways of respect cultivated and held up within the sangha seem to be even more difficult to understand - or just more difficult to embody and live up to. I get the sense that "Asian" family and group cohesion values can and do get intermixed with them in some un-dhammic ways as well, but certainly not any more than western kinds of group cohesion values including things like forced modern political correctness would in "western" sanghas (or the opposite of the new cool "politically incorrect" crowd - wherever this all will lead one day).

But in the sangha, in the monastic rules there are some strict rules about hierarchical relations and obligation to show outwardly respect - which in the West seem to have lost much natural connection with, and in the East this seems much more intact and still "natural" at least to some degrees. (Although I have never been in Asia; this is mostly internet "knowledge". But I have also met some Thai people in real life, in monasteries or on retreats, and seen their behaviour - in relation to the group of laypeople, as well as to the elevated monastic sangha. They are just more "natural" in that environment.)

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by perkele » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:36 am

Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:19 am
there were much more often times when the Buddha set limits and checks on the senior monks (giving them no special "invincibility" above younger monks in many, many ways), so that they would not conveniently use and abuse the authority they had, to oppress the younger monks.
Bhante, I don't dispute most of what you say, and I can assure you I have read most of the suttas you mention many times.

What I am not very familiar with is the Vinaya, and I don't know the conditions you experience within the monastic community, hardly ever even having come into touch with it from the outside. So I do not know your grievances and can relate to them only in so far as you relate them here.

I hope none of my posts have come off as undermining your intentions of bringing forth whatever sangha-related topics you would like to discuss with fellow monastics in an open manner here.

:anjali:

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Subharo » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am

perkele wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:36 am
I hope none of my posts have come off as undermining your intentions of bringing forth whatever sangha-related topics you would like to discuss with fellow monastics in an open manner here.
:anjali:
You haven't offended me, no worries.

For those who are wondering why I am "airing grievances", let me use an analogy:

Most of us here have often played the board game Monopoly. And I'm also quite sure that virtually all of you played it assuming the following "rule" to be true: that whenever you land on the space called "Free Parking", you win a $500 bill laying in the center of the board. And have you ever noticed that when you play that way, the game virtually never ends? The game never "converges"? Everyone's riches and land holdings keep growing and growing, and it ends up being a stalemate (between the last two players)?

Well, I dare you to actually read the rules of Monopoly. You might be saddened to discover that the "Free Parking" space is just what it says it is: Free Parking. No $500. :cry: And the game actually ends with a clear winner that way. It doesn't drag on forever. It converges. It reaches a conclusion in no long time.

So I'm the person who unfortunately ruined your day, "airing his grievances" (Ad Hominem) about how you don't deserve $500 when you land on "Free Parking". In just the same way, I point at the Dhamma Vinaya, pointing out, to many people's dismay, what the Senior monks are not entitled to by the Buddha, who wrote the rules to the board game called "Dhamma Vinaya".

And maybe more monks would actually attain enlightenment (the "converging," the "ending" in the "game" of Dhamma Vinaya), in no long time, if they acted more like beggars, rather than high-and-mighty Confucian feudal lords.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by perkele » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:51 am

Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am
You haven't offended me, no worries.
Glad to hear that. :anjali:
Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am
Most of us here have often played the board game Monopoly. And I'm also quite sure that virtually all of you played it assuming the following "rule" to be true: that whenever you land on the space called "Free Parking", you win a $500 bill laying in the center of the board. And have you ever noticed that when you play that way, the game virtually never ends? The game never "converges"? Everyone's riches and land holdings keep growing and growing, and it ends up being a stalemate (between the last two players)?
Bhante, fortunately for me I come from a family and environment where the game Monopoly has always been frowned upon, so have never been intensively subjected to such torture.

But I recently watched a video on The Mathematics of Winning Monopoly (calculating the optimal strategy, with the stated objective to get it over with in as short a time as possible, in order to proceed then to a better board game).
Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am
So I'm the person who unfortunately ruined your day, "airing his grievances" about how you don't deserve $500 when you land on "Free Parking". In just the same way, I point at the Dhamma Vinaya, pointing out, to many people's dismay, what the Senior monks are not entitled to by the Buddha, who wrote the rules to the board game called "Dhamma Vinaya".
Not at all. I do not see why I should be dismayed about not receiving the $500 on "Free Parking", as I am not a senior monk (not a monk at all), I am not a participant in that game.
I am not dismayed in any way about your "airing your grievances" (or rather only hinting at them). I merely wanted to point out that I am not in a position to discuss these issues, since I am out of touch with them.

My bringing up of the suggested topic of
5. Seniority principle (respect) is in accord with the nature law , similar to filial piety , is a kind of virtue not otherwise .
came only in response to Saengnapha, explaining how binocular's post did make sense (to me), as a possible way of entrance to exploring that very topic (from my perspective as a layperson who has had little direct "real life" contact with the monastic sangha).

The original subject seemed to be more directed at laypeople: "What should monks openly discuss to satisfy your interest?" My first reaction (to the question itself as well as to the answers of others here) was to express my feeling that it would be improper to suggest what monks should discuss among each other with me as an interested onlooker, and even to frame it as a debate (x vs. y on the "contentious issue" "z"). But I have no problem at all with open discussion among monastics in an open forum. It is just that I cannot sensefully participate in such discussions or even suggest topics for such discussions. That is all I wanted to clarify with my last post.
Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am
And maybe more monks would actually attain enlightenment (the "converging," the "ending" in the "game" of Dhamma Vinaya), in no long time, if they acted more like beggars, rather than high-and-mighty Confucian feudal lords.
It seems from what I've heard here (and not that I have never heard the same from elsewhere many times before) that this might indeed be the case.

I do hope that you find suitable discussion partners for the topics you are interested in, including the one we just touched upon, which of course seems quite important to be able to discuss (and interesting for laypeople to listen in on as well), and that helpful and interested fellow monastics, companions in the holy life, may chime in here or in any way they find suitable as well.

(Now I have spent far too much time on DhammaWheel again and have to go and do my work...)
:anjali:

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:39 am

Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:19 am
Again, I point people to the AN 4's, 5's, and AN 2.101-117 (in the Wisdom Pubs translations), just to name a few. Please don't take my word for this. By all means, please go read for yourselves.
Venerable Subharo.

I am not sure how AN 2.101-117 negates a Sangha hierarchy. Which suttas in AN 4's, 5's, are being referred to?

Thank you.
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

James Tan
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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by James Tan » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:54 am

perkele wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:05 am
James Tan wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:10 am
I was wondering why the westerners seems like never stays with their parents/elders , or taking care of their wellbeing even though they are in good terms ? Even the Asian peoples nowadays are leaving behind traditional values and pursuing so called material comfort and happiness that we modern world advocating . Would it be due to the reasons such as freedom , individuality , equality , self interest , humans right is above everything else more than being responsible , caring , bonding and filial piety ?
I think so, yes.
The last excerpt from the following video is probably less an example of "typical Asian", but more a general illustration of the influence of modernization and consumer culture, whether eastern or western. It is just that westerners have come to this "modernized age" earlier.
What North Koreans Think Of South Korea
People don't feel so much belonging or dependence on others anymore, and it is also not seen as "cool" to do so. Not even by parents who would feel a bit awkward about it (even if they long for it and might get grudgeful because of it). I think it is not that people would not want more sense of belonging and communal integrity, as well as good family relations. But I think the "estrangement" goes back more than one generation here. Many have grown up in somewhat broken incohesive families, due to the parent generation already seeking for freedom or rebellion a little more than before and not keeping their own relationships intact, I think. And thus, people largely just don't know so much about better, healthier ways anymore. And on the other hand, some Asian ways of "filial piety" and so on may seem to westerners already like unhealthy extremes, even for people before this generation.

This may be all going a bit too off-topic, since I think the ways of respect which the Buddha (maybe more implicitly than explicitly) emphasized go beyond family values. After all, he even led many to leave their families and go into the noble homeless life, and give up their family, clan and caste. But he certainly taught about their importance as well, and without having a solid sense of such worldly relations and indebtedness I guess one cannot really "go beyond".

The ways of respect cultivated and held up within the sangha seem to be even more difficult to understand - or just more difficult to embody and live up to. I get the sense that "Asian" family and group cohesion values can and do get intermixed with them in some un-dhammic ways as well, but certainly not any more than western kinds of group cohesion values including things like forced modern political correctness would in "western" sanghas (or the opposite of the new cool "politically incorrect" crowd - wherever this all will lead one day).

But in the sangha, in the monastic rules there are some strict rules about hierarchical relations and obligation to show outwardly respect - which in the West seem to have lost much natural connection with, and in the East this seems much more intact and still "natural" at least to some degrees. (Although I have never been in Asia; this is mostly internet "knowledge". But I have also met some Thai people in real life, in monasteries or on retreats, and seen their behaviour - in relation to the group of laypeople, as well as to the elevated monastic sangha. They are just more "natural" in that environment.)
If we follows the Buddha's teachings , there seems to be two fold . Not everyone is suitable for living a renunciant , austere ascetic kind of lives .
In fact , we can ascertain this is way too little .
Therefore , as to go "beyond" for most people are mission impossible . This is a stream that goes against worldly streams .
If you understand the Asian traditional family values , that is based on certain grounds . There is a notion of selflessness instead of self interest .
We can see maybe this could later be regards as base of trainings in the dhamma . Which is coherent and resonate with not self teaching that lessening the clinging to self and loving kindness meditation that counter ill will .
As for respect in the Sangha / monastic community , we do not necessary regard it as patriarchy relation or obligation . The structure for us is a kind of nature principle of relationship instead of higher order versus lower order . Gratitude and humbleness is the fundamental way of life . The harmonious relationship only can be achieved through these values . This is actually partly inline with the first fold of the noble eight right path .
IMO the notion of individuality , equality , progressiveness and many modern political reformation is actually not to be literary taken for granted for . It is not an antidote in Buddhism either .
Last edited by James Tan on Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:46 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by robertk » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:56 am

Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am
And maybe more monks would actually attain enlightenment (the "converging," the "ending" in the "game" of Dhamma Vinaya), in no long time, if they acted more like beggars, rather than high-and-mighty Confucian feudal lords.

http://www.abhidhamma.org/CommentaryNidana.htm
Regarding "the only way" there is the following account of a discussion that took place long ago.
The Elder Tipitaka Culla Naga said: "The Way of Mindfulness-arousing (as expounded in our Discourse) is the (mundane) preliminary part (of the Eightfold Way)."
His teacher the Elder Culla Summa said: "The Way is a mixed one (a way that is both mundane and supramundane)."
The pupil: "Reverend Sir, it is the preliminary part."
The teacher: "Friend, it is the mixed Way."
As the teacher was insistent, the pupil became silent. They went away without coming to a decision
.
On the way to the bathing place the teacher considered the matter. He recited the Discourse. When he came to the part where it is said: "O bhikkhus, should any person maintain the Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years," he concluded that after producing the consciousness of the Supramundane Path there was no possibility of continuing in that state of mind for seven years, and that his pupil, Culla Naga, was right. On that very day, which happened to be the eighth of the lunar fortnight, it was the elder Culla Naga's turn to expound the Dhamma. When the exposition was about to begin, the Elder Culla Summa went to the Hall of Preaching and stood behind the pulpit.

After the pupil had recited the preliminary stanzas the teacher spoke to the pupil in the hearing of others, saying, "Friend, Culla Naga." The pupil heard the voice of his teacher and replied: "What is it, Reverend Sir?" The teacher said this: "To say, as I did, that the Way is a mixed one is not right. You are right in calling it the preliminary part of the Way of Mindfulness-arousing." Thus the Elders of old were not envious and did not go about holding up only what they liked as though it were a bundle of sugar-cane. They took up what was rational; they gave up what was not.

Thereupon, the pupil, realising that on a point on which experts of the Dhamma like his learned teacher had floundered, fellows of the holy life in the future were more likely to be unsure, thought: "With the authority of a citation from the Discourse-collection, I will settle this question." Therefore, he brought out and placed before his hearers the following statement from the Patisambhida Magga: "The preliminary part of the Way of Mindfulness-arousing is called the only way."[8] And, in order to elaborate just that and to show of which path or way the instruction in our Discourse is the preliminary part, he further quoted the following also from the Patisambhida Magga: "The Excellent Way is the Eightfold way; four are truths; dispassion is the best of things belonging to the wise; besides that Way there is no other for the purifying of vision. Walk along that Way so that you may confound Death, and put an end to suffering."[9]

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by binocular » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:37 pm

Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:23 am
Is my speech true and correct? I'd like to think so. Is it beneficial? I'd like to think so (in a longer-term sense), but you don't seem to agree (Binocular), which is your right. Fair enough. Is it "unwelcome and disagreeable"? To many here, probably.
Ah. I'd just like to see the matter discussed from various angles and considerations. Don't jump the gun.
Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:23 am
Is it "unwelcome and disagreeable"? To many here, probably.
Slow down, and let's look at things in detail, and not assume too much about others.

:popcorn:
Last edited by binocular on Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by binocular » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:39 pm

Saengnapha wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:50 am
I don't understand what your point is. You tell a story and fill in how you interpret it. So?
See right in the beginning of my post:
binocular wrote:
Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:32 pm
Seriously, I think there's one important factor to consider, and that is when people seem to blindly adhere to the hierarchy, or when they seem to save face, other interpretations of what's going on are possible. Primarily, a concern for hamony. A person could be concerned for harmony, or save face, or blindly adhere to the hierarchy -- and externally, it could all look the same.
- - -
James Tan wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:54 am
As for respect in the Sangha / monastic community , we do not necessary regard it as patriarchy relation or obligation . The structure for us is a kind of nature principle of relationship instead of higher order versus lower order . Gratitude and humbleness is the fundamental way of life . The harmonious relationship only can be achieved through these values .
The problem seems to be that for some people, respect, humility, and the pursuit of harmony can only come at the cost of their own self-respect, or their sense of individuality and direction in life. For some people, humility equals humiliation. (And some of them assume everyone is like that.)

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by binocular » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:48 pm

Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am
So I'm the person who unfortunately ruined your day, "airing his grievances" (Ad Hominem) about how you don't deserve $500 when you land on "Free Parking". In just the same way, I point at the Dhamma Vinaya, pointing out, to many people's dismay, what the Senior monks are not entitled to by the Buddha, who wrote the rules to the board game called "Dhamma Vinaya".

And maybe more monks would actually attain enlightenment (the "converging," the "ending" in the "game" of Dhamma Vinaya), in no long time, if they acted more like beggars, rather than high-and-mighty Confucian feudal lords.
Well, there is all that talk in the suttas about how monks are going to become corrupt in the future ...

There's also the principle "My turf, my rules". Many people act on it, so why not monks -- as in "My monastery, my rules"? I actually expect them to act that way. It's why I'm reluctant to visit Buddhist establishments. Because I know that as soon as I would go through the gate or cross the treshold, I would be on someone else's turf.

I don't think we are the right audience for your grievances. The Supreme Patriarchs (or similar authorities) would be the more fitting addresses. We can commiserate, but what else can we do?


That said, I'm not sure you understand where I'm coming from (and you rapidly vaccillate between agreeing and disagreeing with me, which is rather disconcerting). I grew up in a traditionally Catholic country. I know what it's like to challenge the status quo, or to challenge the blatant disregard of the officially declared religious principles. I am skeptical about revolutions or efforts to make others adhere to the previously agreed-upon rules, simply because such revolutions and such efforts rarely prove effective. Not rarely, the revolutionary gets their head bitten off, and that's that. I don't approve of that, or defend the status quo. It just seems that most methods that people employ to overturn the status quo are ineffective, or even make things worse. What I would like to see is something that actually works. A way of talking to what seem like unscrupulous people that would actually change the way they behave. Something that would deliver the promised results.

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Re: Which Senior Theravada monks should ideally discuss and explore with each other over which topics?

Post by Saengnapha » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:12 am

binocular wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:48 pm
Subharo wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:55 am
So I'm the person who unfortunately ruined your day, "airing his grievances" (Ad Hominem) about how you don't deserve $500 when you land on "Free Parking". In just the same way, I point at the Dhamma Vinaya, pointing out, to many people's dismay, what the Senior monks are not entitled to by the Buddha, who wrote the rules to the board game called "Dhamma Vinaya".

And maybe more monks would actually attain enlightenment (the "converging," the "ending" in the "game" of Dhamma Vinaya), in no long time, if they acted more like beggars, rather than high-and-mighty Confucian feudal lords.
Well, there is all that talk in the suttas about how monks are going to become corrupt in the future ...

There's also the principle "My turf, my rules". Many people act on it, so why not monks -- as in "My monastery, my rules"? I actually expect them to act that way. It's why I'm reluctant to visit Buddhist establishments. Because I know that as soon as I would go through the gate or cross the treshold, I would be on someone else's turf.

I don't think we are the right audience for your grievances. The Supreme Patriarchs (or similar authorities) would be the more fitting addresses. We can commiserate, but what else can we do?


That said, I'm not sure you understand where I'm coming from (and you rapidly vaccillate between agreeing and disagreeing with me, which is rather disconcerting). I grew up in a traditionally Catholic country. I know what it's like to challenge the status quo, or to challenge the blatant disregard of the officially declared religious principles. I am skeptical about revolutions or efforts to make others adhere to the previously agreed-upon rules, simply because such revolutions and such efforts rarely prove effective. Not rarely, the revolutionary gets their head bitten off, and that's that. I don't approve of that, or defend the status quo. It just seems that most methods that people employ to overturn the status quo are ineffective, or even make things worse. What I would like to see is something that actually works. A way of talking to what seem like unscrupulous people that would actually change the way they behave. Something that would deliver the promised results.
Has changing the way others behave become your new vocation? I like the fact that you verbalize all this as it is a real issue that haunts religious groups and ideological groups (revolutionary, existentialists, etc.). But, literally expecting them to change would be a very disappointing experience. All you can do is point out the hypocrisies, not act like them, and change your own life to reflect any real wisdom you may have.

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