Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
dharmacorps
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by dharmacorps » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:23 pm

Of course since I can't speak Sinhala I can't know for sure what was said here, but there is ample canonical material that says someone who deserves criticism should be criticized and someone who is blameless should not be. I don't remember having read anything that says lay people should not criticize monastics because it is bad kamma in and of itself. I do think however, that doing so out of turn and without respect, and especially without realistic basis probably is unwholesome kamma. I am sure there are some lay people out there who like to unfairly criticize good monks, and I am sure there are bad monks out there who would prefer lay people never criticize their actions so they tell them its "bad kamma" to do so--ever!

binocular
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by binocular » Sun Sep 02, 2018 9:42 am

SarathW wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:36 am
What if a monk breaks the Vinaya?
According to the video, it is unwholesome to criticise a monk even if he breaks the rule due to the fact we do not know the reason behind it.
To begin with -- is something really criticism of a monk, or just an expression of one's concerns that don't directly have anything to do with the monk?

From what I've seen, religious/spiritual people are generally eager to feel offended and to see offense; are eager to feel criticized and to see criticism. If someone expresses a personal concern of theirs that was triggered by seeing a monk misbehave, chances are that religious/spiritual people are going to take it as offensive or as criticism of the monk. Even when one expresses oneself precisely, in textbook assertive manner (so that anyone actually reading or listening would have no grounds to take it as offensive or criticism), chances are that the religious/spiritual person is going to ignore this and reinterpret it as offensive or as criticism.

In religious/spiritual circles, there is a culture of ridiculing and dismissing people's concerns, and to reinterpret them as offensive and as criticism.
For example, if I say, in proper assertive manner, "When I see monks smoke and handle money, I don't feel like trusting them in spiritual matters." What happens? Chances are I'll get a row of replies to the effect of "Who are you to criticize monks?!" and "You're so disrespectful!" They completely ignore my worry, my concern about my own wellbeing.

Of course, it's impossible to discuss anything in such an atmosphere.

SarathW wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:24 am
Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?
In the following video Ven. Dhammajiva said that it is unwholesome to criticise the ordained monks. I can recall the same idea came when I discuss the matters relating to Ven. Abhayaratanalankara. The argument here is that we may have unwholesome thoughts and feeling towards an Ariya monk without our knowledge which will cause us to suffer in the hell.
I doubt many people have such negative thoughts and feelings toward Ariyan monks. But I have no doubt that many people's thoughts and feelings are interpreted that way by others. And after being treated with such bad faith, some people surely get negative thoughts and feelings about Ariyan monks.
To what extent we can discuss a teaching or the behavior of another monk if we consider the teaching or the behavior is inadequate?
There doesn't really exist a context or a venue for discussing that, does it?
Given the tense atmosphere and people being eager to feel offended and criticized -- what can be discussed?

Besides, the real issue isn't the inadequate behavior of the monk, but the thoughts, feelings, concerns, worries, doubts that are triggered in one's mind when seeing such a monk or hearing of him.

How is one supposed to trust a monk who smokes, eats in the afternoon, flirts with women, handles money, watches soccer etc.?
If one doesn't have the money to go and visit different monks and to be properly selective, then how is one supposed to build one's faith in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha?

-- Topics that seem to be largely tabooed among Buddhists.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

SarathW
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by SarathW » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:15 am

How is one supposed to trust a monk who smokes, eats in the afternoon, flirts with women, handles money, watches soccer etc.?
Many monks in Sri Lanka does these things quite liberally.
For instance, the monk who taught Buddhism in my school goes to the toilet and smoke.
As kids, we have seen this and started laughing.
Some kids even question the monks.
His excuse was it for his health reason!
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

binocular
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by binocular » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:26 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:15 am
How is one supposed to trust a monk who smokes, eats in the afternoon, flirts with women, handles money, watches soccer etc.?
Many monks in Sri Lanka does these things quite liberally.
For instance, the monk who taught Buddhism in my school goes to the toilet and smoke.
As kids, we have seen this and started laughing.
Some kids even question the monks.
His excuse was it for his health reason!
My questions are not rhetorical.

I would really wish that the monks who smoke etc. and the people who defend them would explain how such a monk is supposed to be viewed as trustworthy in matters of the Dhamma. Given that they criticize people severely if they don't have faith.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

dharmacorps
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:52 pm

There have been threads on monks smoking and I think as mentioned on there, this has been common as has chewing betel nut. While neither are healthy, there seem to be some people regarded as arahants who did both. Smoking alone doesn't tell you very much about someone.

justindesilva
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by justindesilva » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:21 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:52 pm
There have been threads on monks smoking and I think as mentioned on there, this has been common as has chewing betel nut. While neither are healthy, there seem to be some people regarded as arahants who did both. Smoking alone doesn't tell you very much about someone.
Any step taken to uphold budda damma in its correct and proper place even by criticising an ordained monk cannot be unwholesome. Kusal ir akusal is intention and not the act please.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:59 pm

justindesilva wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:21 pm
dharmacorps wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:52 pm
There have been threads on monks smoking and I think as mentioned on there, this has been common as has chewing betel nut. While neither are healthy, there seem to be some people regarded as arahants who did both. Smoking alone doesn't tell you very much about someone.
Any step taken to uphold budda damma in its correct and proper place even by criticising an ordained monk cannot be unwholesome. Kusal ir akusal is intention and not the act please.
Yes, I agree. Criticising a monk's behaviour because one thinks that they might be in breach of a rule can be a wholesome thing to do, if one is motivated by good will towards them. Conversely, criticising them just because they don't meet one's own standards of propriety is a sign of ill-will, and is definitely unwholesome.

SarathW
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by SarathW » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:21 pm

There is a rule for a monk not to criticise each other I think.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Mr Man
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by Mr Man » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:09 am

If monks practice according to vinaya there will be little room to criticise.

If monks behave like lay people, frequent the same places as lay people, involve themselves in politics, partisan and worldly discussion then views that conflict should be expected and considered acceptable.

binocular
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by binocular » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:38 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:52 pm
Smoking alone doesn't tell you very much about someone.
It could mean that the person isn't getting their delight from the practice of the Buddha Dhamma. Therefore, it would make sense to investigate further how come he nevertheless smokes, if he's delighting in the practice of the Buddha Dhamma. However, this is where the real problem is: such discussion appears to be largely tabooed, this is what is grievous (and not that the monk is smoking, watching soccer, or even handles money or flirts with women etc.).
It's this Rule of Silence that some people find so off-putting.

Personally, I don't care if a monk smokes or whatever. It's when he or other Buddhists expect me to see him as the arbiter of the Dhamma that I begin to care about what he says and does that doesn't seem to me to be aligned with the Dhamma. At that point, I would like to discuss these things. I have no qualms about saying to a monk something like:
"You give Dhamma talks. You talk about the salvation from suffering. You utter sentences declaring "This is the Dhamma, that is not the Dhamma." And yet you smoke/flirt with women/ handle money/ etc. Why do you do those things, if you truly know what the Dhamma is and isn't? How do you expect us to trust you in matters of the Dhamma if you don't live up to the standards you profess? How do you expect us to trust you in matters of the Dhamma, when you criticize others for not living up to those standards, when you yourself do not live up to those standards? Do explain."

Yes, I know, I'm not supposed to say such things to a monk. That's why I'm not a Buddhist.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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budo
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by budo » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:43 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:59 pm
justindesilva wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:21 pm
dharmacorps wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:52 pm
There have been threads on monks smoking and I think as mentioned on there, this has been common as has chewing betel nut. While neither are healthy, there seem to be some people regarded as arahants who did both. Smoking alone doesn't tell you very much about someone.
Any step taken to uphold budda damma in its correct and proper place even by criticising an ordained monk cannot be unwholesome. Kusal ir akusal is intention and not the act please.
Yes, I agree. Criticising a monk's behaviour because one thinks that they might be in breach of a rule can be a wholesome thing to do, if one is motivated by good will towards them. Conversely, criticising them just because they don't meet one's own standards of propriety is a sign of ill-will, and is definitely unwholesome.
Back when I was learning about jhanas I watched a video by Ajahn Brahm saying if you enter jhana you will be invincible, that you can enter jhana in an oven and you won't die and even if your city gets nuked or bombed and it lands on you, you won't die.

I can't find that exact video right now in the hundreds of videos I looked at back in the day, but here's a similar one he says something similar around the 1 hour 53 minute mark.



I was banned from a discord that loved Ajahn Brahm because I said I'd like to see video footage of Ajahn Brahm entering jhana in an oven that's turned on after he enters it.

There's a lot of bullshit and nonsense in Buddhism.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:54 am

budo wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:43 am

There's a lot of bullshit and nonsense in Buddhism.
That may be the case. My point is that we can deal with what we consider to be bullshit and nonsense in wholesome or unwholesome ways.

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Volovsky
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by Volovsky » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:29 pm

budo wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:43 am
Back when I was learning about jhanas I watched a video by Ajahn Brahm saying if you enter jhana you will be invincible, that you can enter jhana in an oven and you won't die and even if your city gets nuked or bombed and it lands on you, you won't die.
In texts it is said about nirodha attainment, not about jhāna.

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Volovsky
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by Volovsky » Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:46 pm

Concerning criticism:
How, bhikkhus, does there come to be extolling and disparaging and failure to teach only the Dhamma? When one says: ‘All those engaged in the pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desires—low…and unbeneficial—are beset by suffering, vexation, despair, and fever, and they have entered upon the wrong way,’ one thus disparages some.

[...]

And how, bhikkhus, does there come to be neither extolling nor disparaging but teaching only the Dhamma? When one does not say: ‘All those engaged in the pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desires…have entered upon the wrong way,’ but says instead: ‘The pursuit is a state beset by suffering, vexation, despair, and fever, and it is the wrong way,’ then one teaches only the Dhamma.
MN139

So, it seems it is better to formulate one's criticism impersonally.

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Volovsky
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Re: Is it unwholesome to criticise ordained monks?

Post by Volovsky » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:12 pm

justindesilva wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:08 pm
In 1963 Thich quan duc set fire to his own body to protest against American soldiers presence in Vietnam.
After he was burnt and dead they found his heart unburnt. It is believed that he entered a Dyana while he was burning.
So, that proves that entering jhānas doesn't protect from death.

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