respecting sangha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:54 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:46 pm
binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:18 pm
Aren't men supposed to be strong, invincible?
No. Men are as fragile and subject to Saṃsāra as much as anyone.
I'll believe that when I see it.
I have no estimation of my own attractiveness, I do know as a matter of guarding monks, it is considered to be moral not to touch them in Thailand, for example. It's all a precaution, and I respect it as a lay follower for their sake. The reasoning given is that it may have a bad effect on men.
I'm quite sure they think that most women are hags anyway.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:59 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:25 pm
Well, in sociological terms (i.e. Erving Goffman, etc.) a monastery is a classic "total institution". It's meant to be. Outside of that, certain forms of Buddhism retain elements of "traditional authority", but I have heard that even that is fading in the countries where monastic authority was once unchallenged. Of course, there might be people who wish to reinstate some kind of authoritarian relationship regarding lay supporters in the West, but one of the great advantages of the modernisation process which has eroded traditional authority is that such people are now easily ignored and avoided.
Which, however, doesn't solve the many problems of religious epistemology that a reflecting person sooner or later faces.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by JamesTheGiant » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:05 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:54 pm
I'm quite sure they think that most women are hags anyway.
Sorry Binocular, you're quite wrong here.
Monks are men, like any others. They certainly are affected by women who visit the monastery.
I can speak from experience! Western monasteries and Thai monasteries both.

There is also a story told by Ajahn Chah, where he saw an attractive woman, and then for weeks afterwards had a massive erection which was very frustrating. The slightest touch of his robe against his "parts" meant he was in danger of sanghadisesa. So he went to a secluded kuti in the forest, where he could walk around pulling his robe away from his lower body, without anybody laughing at him.
Ajahn Chah said lust is one of the very last things to be overcome on the path, and the strongest hindrance.

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Re: respecting sangha

Post by DNS » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:24 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:05 pm
There is also a story told by Ajahn Chah, where he saw an attractive woman, and then for weeks afterwards had a massive erection which was very frustrating. The slightest touch of his robe against his "parts" meant he was in danger of sanghadisesa. So he went to a secluded kuti in the forest, where he could walk around pulling his robe away from his lower body, without anybody laughing at him.
Ajahn Chah said lust is one of the very last things to be overcome on the path, and the strongest hindrance.
Oh my goodness! How old was he when that happened? :D I hope that was his earlier days, but as you say lust is not fully eradicated until very far along the path (only by anagamis and arahants).

Some men will have sex with any beautiful woman, if given the opportunity and notice I say IF because many don't because they don't have the opportunity. Just look at the me too movement and all of the sexual harassment (and worse) done to women by men in positions of power, income and wealth. Men in high positions of power (executives, bosses, politicians, some clergy) have opportunities to exploit that power in unwholesome ways and some of them do just that (not all though).
Last edited by DNS on Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: edited out some of the harsh language I used (self-moderation)

binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:29 pm

DNS wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:24 pm
Some men will have sex with any beautiful woman,
The operative term being "beautiful".
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:29 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:59 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:25 pm
Well, in sociological terms (i.e. Erving Goffman, etc.) a monastery is a classic "total institution". It's meant to be. Outside of that, certain forms of Buddhism retain elements of "traditional authority", but I have heard that even that is fading in the countries where monastic authority was once unchallenged. Of course, there might be people who wish to reinstate some kind of authoritarian relationship regarding lay supporters in the West, but one of the great advantages of the modernisation process which has eroded traditional authority is that such people are now easily ignored and avoided.
Which, however, doesn't solve the many problems of religious epistemology that a reflecting person sooner or later faces.
That's right. It simply means that one is not at the mercy of authoritarians unless one chooses to be. Epistemology is another matter entirely. You need to start another thread if you want to go in that direction.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by JamesTheGiant » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:32 pm

This thread has now gotten way off topic, and has become sexist. Back on topic!

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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:37 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:32 pm
This thread has now gotten way off topic, and has become sexist. Back on topic!
It's still about respect for monks. In this case, about how a woman can or should respect a monk. Esp. if she knows he despises her (kind).
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:46 pm

Basically the best way to respect the Sangha is to ensure that the Sangha is helpful at producing the best conditions for liberation for everyone involved. Layfolk should be able to acquire merit by willingly offering requisites to the Sangha, providing gifts, hospitality, and reverential salutations. The monks themselves should be provided the best possible conditions to use their requisites and not let their requisites use them. They should be able to have a safe place to guard their sense doors and eventually be liberated. That's why it's up to layfolk to try and understand the conduct of monks, the spoken and unspoken rules. That is a matter of respect, and I think it's not ultimately too hard to do. The cultural trappings that worry me are the ones where I'm actually ignorant of what I need to do to ensure the respect of the sangha is upkept. I never grew up in a Buddhist country, and I didn't have a Buddhist family. I found the Dhamma from deep discovery of literature by myself, and it's why I also fear my own ignorance of these matters, but for me it's less about being hung up about the personal character of monks, and whether I compare him to how he's supposed to be, it's about how I behave and help him as a lay follower.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Sam Vara
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:57 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:46 pm
Basically the best way to respect the Sangha is to ensure that the Sangha is helpful at producing the best conditions for liberation for everyone involved. Layfolk should be able to acquire merit by willingly offering requisites to the Sangha, providing gifts, hospitality, and reverential salutations. The monks themselves should be provided the best possible conditions to use their requisites and not let their requisites use them. They should be able to have a safe place to guard their sense doors and eventually be liberated. That's why it's up to layfolk to try and understand the conduct of monks, the spoken and unspoken rules. That is a matter of respect, and I think it's not ultimately too hard to do. The cultural trappings that worry me are the ones where I'm actually ignorant of what I need to do to ensure the respect of the sangha is upkept. I never grew up in a Buddhist country, and I didn't have a Buddhist family. I found the Dhamma from deep discovery of literature by myself, and it's why I also fear my own ignorance of these matters, but for me it's less about being hung up about the personal character of monks, and whether I compare him to how he's supposed to be, it's about how I behave and help him as a lay follower.
:goodpost: :thumbsup:

binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:57 pm
:goodpost: :thumbsup:
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
Are you okay with that? Can you respect him all the same, knowing that he could let you die, given that the monk's rules make that allowance for him?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:43 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you. Are you okay with that?
Absolutely. Just because someone has the ability to do something doesn't mean it's an ideal situation to intervene. I am able to do CPR and know this from personal experience because while I'm able to, I would feel emotional dread from an actual situation where this was needed to put this knowledge into practice, and while I want to be able to say 'absolutely I'd do it', it's not impossible for me to just have a panic attack and fail to help either way. Just because you know what to do doesn't mean you're the best person for the job. If I'm drowning do I want the poor samaṇa or monk in robes or do I want the lifeguard? How could I put that kind of pressure on someone? It's unreasonable and I refuse to do that.

Can you respect him all the same, knowing that he could let you die, given that the monk's rules make that allowance for him?
The Monk's job is to teach and practice Dhamma, and that they do that or even learn pali is amazing. Teaching Dhamma or even practicing is pretty difficult, much less living by patimokkha restraint. I still have absolute respect for a monk knowing these rules. It's entirely unreasonable to expect a monk to do what a monk isn't required to do.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by JamesTheGiant » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:45 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
From what you say here and above about finding women repugnant, It sounds like you have done a lot of reading of vinaya and commentaries, and not actually lived with monks, or talked to many monks about what they actually do think.
I can assure you, the vast majority of monks don't think like this. Maybe the zealot 0.01% do, or have forced themselves to think they do.
Monks are regular guys! Normal men, trying to follow the vinaya Yes, but normal men all the same.

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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Ruud » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:54 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
Are you okay with that? Can you respect him all the same, knowing that he could let you die, given that the monk's rules make that allowance for him?
As an aside, according to Ven. Thanissaro’s Buddhist Monastic Code this is a commentarial addition that is not found in the Vinaya itself. He says that indeed the view is common in Theravada countries but that there is no basis for it in the Canon itself.
Otherwise, the Vibhaṅga does not discuss the issue of bhikkhus who intentionally make active contact with women for purposes other than lust or affection—e.g., helping a woman who has fallen into a raging river—but the Commentary does. It introduces the concept of anāmāsa, things carrying a dukkaṭa penalty when touched; women and women’s clothing top the list. (See BMC2, Appendix V for the entire list.) It then goes into great detail to tell how one should behave when one’s mother falls into a raging river. Under no circumstances, it says, should one grab hold of her, although one may extend a rope, a board, etc., in her direction. If she happens to grab hold of her son the bhikkhu, he should not shake her off but should simply let her hold on as he swims back to shore.
Where the Commentary gets the concept of anāmāsa is hard to say. Perhaps it came from the practices of the brahman caste, who are very careful not to touch certain things and people of certain lower castes. At any rate, there is no direct basis for it in the Canon. Although the concept has received wide acceptance in Theravādin Communities, many highly respected Vinaya experts have made an exception right here, saying that there is nothing wrong in touching a woman when one’s action is based not on lust but on a desire to save her from danger. Even if there is an offense in doing so, there are other places where Buddhaghosa recommends that one be willing to incur a minor penalty for the sake of compassion (e.g., digging a person out of a hole into which he has fallen), and the same principle surely holds here.
Sangadisesa 2, Active contact, derived offences, intention https://www.dhammatalks.org/vinaya/bmc/ ... 1.html#Sg2
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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mikenz66
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:15 am

Thanks Ruud and James...

I agree with James. I can't remember the details, but I recall listening to one of Ajahn Brahm's talks where he described helping one of his mother's neighbours, and being covered in blood from carrying her somewhere.

From my observation of the monks I have intereacted with, it is mostly lay people who get upset if exact protocol is not followed...

:heart:
Mike

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