Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

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Sati1
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Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Sati1 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:36 am

I wanted to share an unusual experience I had yesterday, when I attended a one-day retreat taught by a Dr. Lalith Ranatunga from Sri Lanka. Apparently he is very popular there, where he can gather crowds of up to 500 people. He bases his teachings on interpretations of the suttas, from which he draws very complicated diagrams of the various mental factors described in the sutta that the student is then asked to reflect on (yesterday he discussed SN 22:5, SN 22:3 and MN 7). Such meditations are then claimed to lead to various jhanas and even enable attainment of paths and fruits. What makes this whole approach most unusual is that he claims to receive all his teachings from the brahma god Sahampati, the same deity who urged Buddha to teach the Dhamma 2500 years ago. Apparently Brahma Sahampati is now an arahant who lives in one of the higher realms (the suddhavasa realm). Dr. Ranatunga claims that he receives not only the teachings, but also information about his student's meditation performance from Brahma Sahampati, with whom he can communicate with at all times. I even received feedback on my own meditation through this approach yesterday when I spoke with him after one of his talks (although the feedback didn't agree with my own experience very well). Dr. Ranatunga also claims to read other people's past lives, a skill that I decided to tap into when I asked him about my own past lives. The response was a bit disappointing, since there was nothing that I could connect with any traits in this life that I had not told him about before (he said that I had once been his brother and also a relative or student of Brahma Sahampati). Among the 20-30 people in the group nobody seemed to question him, but many were very much in awe of his powers. He also teaches that metta meditation should not be directed towards oneself (because that apparently reinforces self-belief) and that mindfulness of breathing and mindfulness in general are not very useful. When I asked him about his opinion of monkhood, he said that Brahma Sahampati had told him that 66% of monks in Sri Lanka were placed there by Mara to destroy Buddhism, and that the path can be practiced better as a lay person than as a monk, due to the corruption of the Sangha. Ha also claims that his teachings are the reason why noble ones (sotapannas, etc) are found in abundance nowadays (although mainly in Sri Lanka, where his teachings are most popular).

His website is this:
http://visuddhimagga.info" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And some of his diagrams are illustrated here:
http://visuddhimagga.info/WhatIsNew.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Best,
Last edited by Sati1 on Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sati1
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----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Aloka
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Aloka » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:30 am

What makes this whole approach most unusual is that he claims to receive all his teachings from the brahma god Sahampati, the same deity who urged Buddha to teach the Dhamma 2500 years ago. Apparently Brahma Sahampati is now an arahant who lives in one of the higher realms (the suddhavasa realm). Dr. Ranathunga claims that he receives not only the teachings, but also information about his student's meditation performance from Brahma Sahampati, with whom he can communicate with at all times.
Hi Sati1,

If I went to a talk where someone was making claims like that, I'd be heading for the exit to be honest!

Is his name spelt 'Ranatunga' rather than Ratnathunga ?

With kind regards,

Aloka :anjali:

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Sati1
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Sati1 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:08 am

Hi Aloka,

Yes - it's Ranatunga, not Ranathunga. Sorry for the misspell!

The thing about the session was that the individual snippets of information all made sense - eg. the existence of Brahma gods, the reference to suttas, the value of contemplating mind-states, the potential for people to recall past lives, etc. It's just when everything is put together this way that this seemed like, to me at least, more untrue than true.

With metta,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Dhammanando
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:02 am

Sati1 wrote:He bases his teachings on interpretations of the suttas, from which he draws very complicated diagrams of the various mental factors described in the sutta
Here's the one for the Karaṇīyametta Sutta

Image

Ñāṇavīra wrote in one of his letters about those whose approach to the Dhamma involved "tidy-chart-making". But Dr. Ranatunga seems to be an example of a decidedly untidy chart-maker. :lol:

Nonetheless, I've downloaded his talk on the Metta Sutta and will be listening to it tomorrow, if only in the hope of making sense of his chart.

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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by SarathW » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:07 am

If I were you I would have asked him to tell me about my past of this life!
:shrug:
Last edited by SarathW on Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sati1
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Sati1 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:19 am

Dhammanando wrote: Nonetheless, I've downloaded his talk on the Metta Sutta and will be listening to it tomorrow, if only in the hope of making sense of his chart.
Dear Ven. Dhammanando,

Great, I look forward to hearing your opinion!

One thing I forgot to mention is that Dr. Ranatunga openly claims to be a non-returner...

With metta,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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pilgrim
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by pilgrim » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:26 pm

Look at his teaching schedule for the coming year. He is certainly a very industrious teacher. Have to give him credit for that.
http://visuddhimagga.info/Program_Guide.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Coyote » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:06 pm

Would this be considered a breach of pācittiya 8?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

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Sati1
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Sati1 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:12 pm

Coyote wrote:Would this be considered a breach of pācittiya 8?
He is not a monk.
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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robertk
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by robertk » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:24 pm

Don't walk, run..

santa100
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by santa100 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:17 pm

Sati1 wrote:When I asked him about his opinion of monkhood, he said that Brahma Sahampati had told him that 66% of monks in Sri Lanka were placed there by Mara to destroy Buddhism, and that the path can be practiced better as a lay person than as a monk, due to the corruption of the Sangha. Ha also claims that his teachings are the reason why noble ones (sotapannas, etc) are found in abundance nowadays (although mainly in Sri Lanka, where his teachings are most popular).
Should've asked him: how about the percentage of lay Buddhist teachers being placed by Mara to destroy Buddhism... :tongue:

cookiemonster
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by cookiemonster » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:55 pm

Is this skepticism towards this teacher, or towards the existence of Brahma Sahampati?

I've prayed to Brahma and received answered prayers.

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Aloka
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Aloka » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:38 pm

cookiemonster wrote:Is this skepticism towards this teacher, or towards the existence of Brahma Sahampati?

I've prayed to Brahma and received answered prayers.

Can you say a little more about this please, cookiemonster? Do you see Brahma or hear him speaking to to you ?

....and did you receive some cookies ?

.

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Ben
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by Ben » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:24 pm

Sati,
Personally, I am not inclined towards any teacher who makes unverifiable claims, whether it be path and fruition attainments or an ability to converse with celestial beings. Quite often, these grandiose unverifiable claims mask something not quite right.
In this instance, I urge you to use your nascent critical faculties and treat this teacher's purported ability to communicate with Brahma with a grain of salt.
With Metta,
Ben
Sati1 wrote:I wanted to share an unusual experience I had yesterday, when I attended a one-day retreat taught by a Dr. Lalith Ranatunga from Sri Lanka. Apparently he is very popular there, where he can gather crowds of up to 500 people. He bases his teachings on interpretations of the suttas, from which he draws very complicated diagrams of the various mental factors described in the sutta that the student is then asked to reflect on (yesterday he discussed SN 22:5, SN 22:3 and MN 7). Such meditations are then claimed to lead to various jhanas and even enable attainment of paths and fruits. What makes this whole approach most unusual is that he claims to receive all his teachings from the brahma god Sahampati, the same deity who urged Buddha to teach the Dhamma 2500 years ago. Apparently Brahma Sahampati is now an arahant who lives in one of the higher realms (the suddhavasa realm). Dr. Ranatunga claims that he receives not only the teachings, but also information about his student's meditation performance from Brahma Sahampati, with whom he can communicate with at all times. I even received feedback on my own meditation through this approach yesterday when I spoke with him after one of his talks (although the feedback didn't agree with my own experience very well). Dr. Ranatunga also claims to read other people's past lives, a skill that I decided to tap into when I asked him about my own past lives. The response was a bit disappointing, since there was nothing that I could connect with any traits in this life that I had not told him about before (he said that I had once been his brother and also a relative or student of Brahma Sahampati). Among the 20-30 people in the group nobody seemed to question him, but many were very much in awe of his powers. He also teaches that metta meditation should not be directed towards oneself (because that apparently reinforces self-belief) and that mindfulness of breathing and mindfulness in general are not very useful. When I asked him about his opinion of monkhood, he said that Brahma Sahampati had told him that 66% of monks in Sri Lanka were placed there by Mara to destroy Buddhism, and that the path can be practiced better as a lay person than as a monk, due to the corruption of the Sangha. Ha also claims that his teachings are the reason why noble ones (sotapannas, etc) are found in abundance nowadays (although mainly in Sri Lanka, where his teachings are most popular).

His website is this:
http://visuddhimagga.info" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And some of his diagrams are illustrated here:
http://visuddhimagga.info/WhatIsNew.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Best,
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Re: Teacher claims to receive teachings from Brahma god

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:30 pm

Greetings,
Sati1 wrote:He also teaches that metta meditation should not be directed towards oneself (because that apparently reinforces self-belief)
I agree with that, though for reasons closer to those specified by ven. Nanananda below...
Nanananda wrote:Mettā to oneself?

The Buddha's injunction is that one should take the axiom ‘one is dear to oneself’ as a self-evident illustration and develop mettā towards others depending on that conviction. But Visuddhimagga misinterprets that injunction and recommends developing mettā to oneself as the first step. Meditations on ‘Divine Abiding’ (Brahmavihāra) are solely concerned with our attitude towards others. The gravity of the blunder of ignoring this fact comes to light in the Visuddhimagga account of the breaking down of the barriers between oneself, one’s dear person, neutral person and hostile person. Venerable Buddhaghosa gives as a possible instance a case of four monks living together of whom three represent the dear, the neutral and hostile to the fourth. Then bandits approach the fourth monk and demand a monk to be killed for some human oblation. It is said that if he has broken down the barriers he cannot allow them to take the other three nor can he offer himself because self-sacrifice is equivalent to not having mettā for oneself! So it seems according to this way of reasoning we have to conclude that the Bodhisatta, who even as an animal sacrificed his life for others, had no mettā for himself!

The Buddha says that one should develop mettā towards all beings with the self-abnegating love of a mother to her only son. But Venerable Buddhaghosa recommends a practice of mettā, which goes against the spirit of the Buddha word. What sort of Deliverance of the Heart can that kind of approach lead to? In pervading the directions with thoughts of mettā one has to be aware of one’s position only as a peg in the center with which to survey the world as above, below and all around. Apart from that, the Buddha has never sanctioned a selfish attitude of developing mettā to oneself. The object of mettā is not a group of persons discriminated as one’s dear, not dear or neutral but the totality of living beings which the Buddha has presented as five universals.

The Five Universal Categories:
‘….. ye keci pāṇabhūtatthi
‘….. whatever beings there are
1. tasā vā thāvarā vā anavasesā
whether feeble or stable - without exception
2. dīghā vā ye mahantā vā majjhimā rassakāṇukathūlā
whether long or large, middling, short, minute or massive
3. diṭtḥā vā ye va addiṭtḥā
whether seen or unseen
4. ye ca dūre vasanti avidūre
whether they live far or near
5. bhūtā vā sambhavesī vā
whether already come into being or seeking birth
sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā
May all beings be happy at heart.

So one should not get incarcerated within the narrow confines of oneself, one’s dear, neutral and hostile marked out by a selfish standpoint but pervade or radiate the six directions with mettā, towards the above five universal categories. In pervading the directions, the method followed at present is to include names of the directions in the chant in an unrealistic and imaginary way, as for instance “May all beings in the Eastern direction be well and happy! May all beings in the Western direction be well and happy!” and so on. However, in the discourses we never find any such mention of directions by name when it comes to this particular meditation technique. On the other hand, the method of developing mettā cetovimutti recommended there is the pervasion of one direction (ékaṁ disaṁ), the second direction (dutiyaṁ disaṁ), the third direction (tatiyaṁ disaṁ), the fourth direction (catutthiṁ disaṁ), above (uddhaṁ) and below (adho) with thoughts of mettā. The implication is that it should be realistic and experiential taking.
A colleague at my work recently guided us through a metta-bhavana session, based roughly on Ajahn Brahm's mode of instruction. In my feedback to her on the session I wrote...
Do you know what though? Part of the instruction did jar a bit… and that was the part where you are guided to “direct metta towards yourself”.

I think this was because by generating metta, I was already experiencing metta.

The experience of metta was there already, and there was no need to generate a false notion of “self” (atman) to identify with and point metta to.

But that’s just me – others may have found that part useful, and presumably they do, or else Ajahn Brahm would cut it out of his instructions by now.
Metta,
Retro. :)
Last edited by retrofuturist on Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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