Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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mikenz66
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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun May 13, 2018 7:30 pm

Zom wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:14 pm
Taking this into consideration, when teaching the laity today, perhaps it would be more appropriate to focus more on the teachings directed to them, and less on the teachings directed to monastics. Personally, as a lay follower, I've found the teachings to lay people to be far more pertinent.

What are your thoughts?
This is because most people in the West seek in Buddhism either mystics or psychotherapy. They don't need religion. Hence this distorted view that Buddhism = Meditation.
I think this is one of the advantages of being involved in a Thai Wat where it's almost impossible for me to discuss technical stuff with the monks or lay people. That prevents most of the complex discussions about noble truths and so on that Western monks and lay teachers tend to start with... :tongue:

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by binocular » Sun May 13, 2018 8:36 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:23 pm
I've no idea what all religions are like, but nobody has ever used the analogy of hoops to jump through, nor that they are infinite in number.
There's always someone in a position of power higher than me who tells me that I don't know yet, am not there yet, that there are all those people I need to bow to, obey, and so on. Hoops.
Some of the last advice that my (Buddhist) teacher gave me was that there were many things I needed to work out for myself and to apply virtuous qualities to their solution, rather than give up or expect external assistance.

Sounds like a fake problem, formulated in seemingly virtuous terms.
WWTD? ("What Would Theseus Do?").
He killed Procrustes.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by Sam Vara » Sun May 13, 2018 8:51 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 8:36 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:23 pm
I've no idea what all religions are like, but nobody has ever used the analogy of hoops to jump through, nor that they are infinite in number.
There's always someone in a position of power higher than me who tells me that I don't know yet, am not there yet, that there are all those people I need to bow to, obey, and so on. Hoops.
Well, there may be so far. And that's a truly fortunate state to be in. If you do know, and you are there, and you don't need to bow, then you can safely ignore those fools. But if you don't know, and are not there yet, etc., then they save you the bother of working it all out for yourself! And either way, there is absolutely no compulsion and it is always your choice as to what to do!

Another Sadhu!
Sounds like a fake problem, formulated in seemingly virtuous terms.
Hmmm, a "fake problem"! That's an interesting concept! I'm going to bookmark that; it might come in handy...
He killed Procrustes.
Exactly! He sorted the problem out, and refused to be cowed by a fake problem. Blimey, that was quick! I used it already!

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by Saengnapha » Mon May 14, 2018 3:37 am

binocular wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:44 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:06 pm
Yes, I don't know if that is right, but it certainly sounds marvellous! If I could fit myself to the Dhamma, get my defilements chopped off, and stretch my wisdom, morality, and ethics to fit the standards I have seen and heard about, I should be very happy.
Doesn't work that way. One rendition of the story goes that Procrustes was a tricky fellow in that his iron bed had an adjustable mechanism and he used it to change the bed's size so that nobody ever fit it and he tortured everyone.
Religions are like that too: there's an infinite number of hoops one has to jump through on the path to "spiritual advancement".
That is the ideology of becoming. You are exactly on the mark. Good one, Binocular. The idea of advancement is a conditioned state inherited through culture, the past. You never get 'there' because there is no 'there' and no authority except the fact of your reality.

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by James Tan » Mon May 14, 2018 6:40 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 3:37 am
binocular wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:44 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:06 pm
Yes, I don't know if that is right, but it certainly sounds marvellous! If I could fit myself to the Dhamma, get my defilements chopped off, and stretch my wisdom, morality, and ethics to fit the standards I have seen and heard about, I should be very happy.
Doesn't work that way. One rendition of the story goes that Procrustes was a tricky fellow in that his iron bed had an adjustable mechanism and he used it to change the bed's size so that nobody ever fit it and he tortured everyone.
Religions are like that too: there's an infinite number of hoops one has to jump through on the path to "spiritual advancement".
That is the ideology of becoming. You are exactly on the mark. Good one, Binocular. The idea of advancement is a conditioned state inherited through culture, the past. You never get 'there' because there is no 'there' and no authority except the fact of your reality.
Quite right . Yet, no one is excluded. It is always here and now . The duality mind could not grasp it somehow . I think what should stop is the craving . But if you don't mind the suffering it causes , hey, many people don't bother anyway .
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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by binocular » Mon May 14, 2018 8:14 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 3:37 am
That is the ideology of becoming. You are exactly on the mark. Good one, Binocular. The idea of advancement is a conditioned state inherited through culture, the past. You never get 'there' because there is no 'there' and no authority except the fact of your reality.
Unless the Universe is ruled by God. Then you're screwed.

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by mettafuture » Mon May 14, 2018 11:29 am

Zom wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:14 pm
Taking this into consideration, when teaching the laity today, perhaps it would be more appropriate to focus more on the teachings directed to them, and less on the teachings directed to monastics. Personally, as a lay follower, I've found the teachings to lay people to be far more pertinent.

What are your thoughts?
This is because most people in the West seek in Buddhism either mystics or psychotherapy. They don't need religion. Hence this distorted view that Buddhism = Meditation.
Sadly, this seems to be the case. If there's a way to make Buddhism more accessible to secularists without distorting the teachings to appear as if practice is just meditation, then by all means this should be done. However, this minimalist approach shouldn't be the only path that's presented as there were many paths taught in the texts, and "experiential confidence", virtue, and wisdom are prerequisites to each path.

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by Kim OHara » Mon May 14, 2018 12:01 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 4:56 am
mettafuture wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 12:25 am
What are your thoughts?
Here: A Constitution for Living: Buddhist Principles for a Fruitful and Harmonious Life
:bow:
That is good - at least, the first few sections, which is all I've had time to read so far.
Do you know the background to it? Who compiled it? Their sources?

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by Zom » Mon May 14, 2018 12:48 pm

Do you know the background to it? Who compiled it? Their sources?
This is by Ven. Prayudh Payutto. Probably, the most renowned scholar monk from Thailand.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayudh_Payutto

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by mettafuture » Mon May 14, 2018 3:17 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 4:56 am
mettafuture wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 12:25 am
What are your thoughts?
Here: A Constitution for Living: Buddhist Principles for a Fruitful and Harmonious Life
It's nice how each section clearly states which sutta is being reference. The structure reminds me of The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony. Perhaps Bhikkhu Bodhi was inspired by this site. I was thinking of making an anthology of all the suttas directed to lay people, but most texts are either under copyright or are still being proof read.
Zom wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 12:48 pm
Do you know the background to it? Who compiled it? Their sources?
This is by Ven. Prayudh Payutto. Probably, the most renowned scholar monk from Thailand.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayudh_Payutto
"Prayudh strongly believes in strict interpretation of Pali Canon, very much in line with the Theravada tradition."

I like him already. :D

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by Zom » Mon May 14, 2018 4:29 pm

The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony. Perhaps Bhikkhu Bodhi was inspired by this site.
Unlikely. Good and experienced buddhists who know suttas well, will come to such Dhamma presentation naturally.

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by mettafuture » Tue May 15, 2018 4:08 am

Zom wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 4:29 pm
The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony. Perhaps Bhikkhu Bodhi was inspired by this site.
Unlikely. Good and experienced buddhists who know suttas well, will come to such Dhamma presentation naturally.
Good point. You might be right.

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by dharmacorps » Tue May 15, 2018 4:58 pm

Another weakness, which I think is particularly common in Western dhamma circles, is to emphasize meditation as the main or only practice for all Buddhists. I have come to see that there are more than a few Buddhists with significant emotional or psychiatric conditions which make it a bad idea for them to meditate. In such cases practicing generosity, chanting, and keeping precepts are the best focus. There are good Buddhists out there who probably shouldn't meditate. It is not a panacea.

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by Kim OHara » Wed May 16, 2018 7:23 am

Zom wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 12:48 pm
Do you know the background to it? Who compiled it? Their sources?
This is by Ven. Prayudh Payutto. Probably, the most renowned scholar monk from Thailand.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayudh_Payutto
:thanks:
Kim

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Re: Drawbacks of a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching Dhamma?

Post by mettafuture » Wed May 16, 2018 1:08 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 4:58 pm
Another weakness, which I think is particularly common in Western dhamma circles, is to emphasize meditation as the main or only practice for all Buddhists. I have come to see that there are more than a few Buddhists with significant emotional or psychiatric conditions which make it a bad idea for them to meditate. In such cases practicing generosity, chanting, and keeping precepts are the best focus. There are good Buddhists out there who probably shouldn't meditate. It is not a panacea.
Precisely!

It's actually pretty rare for the Buddha or his disciples to prescribe meditation (i.e. satipatthana, anapanasati) to a lay follower. According to Kelly's paper, 71% of the suttas addressed to lay followers outline paths for happiness in this life, a good rebirth, stream-entry, or the goal is unspecified, and only 29% outline a path for nibbana, which depends on rigorous meditation practice to achieve.

We have to think practically. There are ten fetters that bind us to samsara: identity view, doubt, the distorted grasp of rules and vows, sensual desire, ill will, lust for form, lust for the formless, conceit, restlessness, and ignorance. If we try to completely abandon the fourth fetter, sense desire, we'll likely become very awkward members of society, unproductive at work, and bad romantic partners. And I believe that the Buddha—or the universe; however you wish to see it—knew this, and subsequently guided lay followers to paths that only required the elimination or weakening of the first three fetters. People won't see this distinction if they blur the lines between the suttas given to monastics and the laity.

I was reminded the other day of a nice sutta on attaining a higher rebirth that may appeal to those who interpret the heavens and hells as mental states, and take issue with faith/"experiential confidence" being a prerequisite for stream-entry. It's the Saleyyaka Sutta (trans. Bodhi, Ṭhānissaro, Sujato). In this sutta, the Buddha explains ten meritorious deeds conducive for a higher rebirth.

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