Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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thang
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Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by thang » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:24 am

Ajahn_Chah: A_Still_Forest_Pool
You would discover that many Westerners had come before you. Since 1965 hundreds of Europeans and Americans like you have come to visit and learn in the forest. Some came to study for short periods and then returned home to integrate what they learned into their household life. Some came to train more thoroughly as monks for one, two, or more years and then return home.
A young Western monk had just arrived at one of Achaan Chah's forest monasteries and asked permission to stay and practice.

I hope you're not afraid of suffering" was Achaan Chah's first response.

Somewhat taken aback, the young Westerner explained that he did not come to suffer but to learn meditation and to live peacefully in the forest.
You Westerners are generally in a hurry; therefore, you will have greater extremes of happiness, suffering, and defilement. If you practice correctly, the fact that you have to deal with many problems can be a source of deep wisdom later on.
A Western psychiatrist who had ordained as a monk had to learn this lesson. He asked permission to stay at WatBa Pong for the three-month rains retreat in order to have a master under whom he could really practice meditation. Several days later, when Achaan Chah announced to the assembled monks that chanting of the sutras from 3:30 to 4:40 A.M. and from 5:00 to 6:00 P.M. was a mandatory part of the rains retreat, this newly ordained Western monk raised his hand and began to argue loudly that he had come to meditate, not to waste time chanting. Such a Western style argument with the teacher in public was a shock to many of the other monks. Achaan Chah explained calmly that real meditation had to do with attitude and awareness in any activity, not just with seeking silence in a forest cottage. He made a point of insisting that the psychiatrist would have to be prompt for every chanting session for the entire rains retreat if he wished to stay at WatBa Pong.
A Western monk at WatBa Pong became frustrated by the difficulties of practice and the detailed and seemingly arbitrary rules of conduct the monks had to follow. He began to criticize other monks for sloppy practice and to doubt the wisdom of Achaan Chah's teaching. At one point, he went to Achaan Chah and complained, noting that even Achaan Chah himself was inconsistent and seemed often to contradict him self in an unenlightened way.

Achaan Chah just laughed and pointed out how much the monk was suffering by trying to judge others around him.
A Western visitor, new to the monastery and its traditions, asked Achaan Chah at the close of the recitation why the monks were chanting: "Is there some deep meaning to this ritual?" Achaan Chah smiled, "Yes, of course. It is important indeed for hungry monks to chant like “this before the only meal of the day. The Pali recitation means thank you," he said, "thank you very much."
Some of the new Western monks soon became attached to their robes and bowl and monk's bag. Carefully, they dyed their robes just the right color or contrived ways to become owners of the newer, lightweight, stainless steel begging bowls. Concern and care for and even attachment to only two or three possessions can take a lot of time when one has little else to do but meditate.
Several of the Western monks who had been world travelers before ordination, extravagantly free in their dress and their lifestyle, soon found the surrender and conformity of the monastery oppressive and difficult. Heads are shaved just alike, robes are worn just alike, even the way to stand and to walk is prescribed. Bows to senior monks are performed just this way, the begging bowl is held in just such a manner. Even with the best intentions, a Westerner can find this surrender frustrating.
Achaan Chah has been unusually tolerant of the comings and goings of his Western disciples. Traditionally, a new forest monk will spend at least five rains retreats with his first teacher before beginning his ascetic wanderings. Achaan Chah stresses discipline as a major part of his practice-working precisely and carefully with the monks' rules and learning to surrender to the monastic style and to the way of the community. But somehow Western monks, like favored children, have been allowed more than the traditional space to travel in order to visit other teachers.
Yet the Westerners kept coming and going, all to learn these lessons for themselves. At times, Achaan Chah would bless their travels; often, though, he would tease.
An English monk, vacillating in his search for the perfect life, the perfect teacher, had come and gone, ordained and disrobed, several times. "This monk," Achaan Chah finally chided, "has dog droppings in his monk's bag, and he thinks every place smells bad."
Another English monk who had come and gone from the monastery, to Europe, to a job, to a marriage engagement, to monk hood several times-was seated one day at Achaan Chah's cottage. "What this monk is looking for," Achaan Chah declared to the assembly, "is a turtle with a moustache. How far do you think he will have to travel to find it?"
"Bhikkhus, whatever the Tathāgata speaks, utters, or expounds
in the interval between
the night when he awakens to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment
and the night when he attains final nibbāna,
all that is just so and not otherwise"
;

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Sam Vara
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:33 am

It depends on how infectious the strain is.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:39 am

thang wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:24 am

Westerners ...Europeans... Americans... You Westerners ...A Western psychiatrist ... a Western style argument ... Western monk ...Western visitor, ... Western ... Western monks ....Westerner ... Western disciples... Western monks, like favored children, ...Westerners ... English monk, vacillating
Thang, i notice most of your posts are critical of something or other. Usually other people doing something you think is not Buddhism, or not right.
I advise you to think on Dhammapada 50
Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one's own acts, done and undone.

binocular
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:40 am

thang wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:24 am
Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?
Ridiculing and criticizing Westerners does not make the Asians right or superior, nor does it make their teachings true or Dhamma.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

rightviewftw
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:44 am

I think westerners already caught it and some even brought it with them back to the West. There are western monks who have 10, 15 and 20 rains and are leaders of monastic communities. Buddhism is very infectious and nowadays one can even catch it over the internet, fortunately it seems to be quite contagious.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:48 am, edited 3 times in total.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

binocular
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:45 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:39 am
Thang, i notice most of your posts are critical of something or other. Usually other people doing something you think is not Buddhism, or not right.
I advise you to think on Dhammapada 50
Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one's own acts, done and undone.
Oh, but that doesn't apply here. Because Westerners are here being criticized for their own good ...
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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DooDoot
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:49 am

Buddhism was basically extinct in Sri Lanka when the British arrived. Buddhism had to be reinstated in Sri Lanka by Burmese monks. As a Westerner, my opinion is Sri Lankans have the worst understanding of Buddhism. My question would be: "Will Sri Lankans ever catch Buddhism?"
Last edited by DooDoot on Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

binocular
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by binocular » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:50 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:49 am
Buddhism was basically extinct in Sri Lanka when the British arrived. Buddhism had to be reinstated in Sri Lanka by Burmese monks. As a Westerner, my opinion is Sri Lankans have the worst understanding of Buddhism.
What would you know, white boy! Know your place!
:soap:
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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DooDoot
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:53 am

binocular wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:50 am
What would you know, white boy! Know your place!
I excluded the Tibetans because of those wrathful protector deities. :shock:
thang wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:24 am
Ajahn_Chah: A_Still_Forest_Pool
Did you take the time to actually read the quotes you posted? Some of the posts actually praised Westerners. Regardless, would it not be a contradiction for Ajahn Chah to teach Westerners if Westerners could not ever catch Buddhism ? Why would Ajahn Chah teach Westerners if they could not learn? This would make Ajahn Chah not an arahant because in MN 26 the Buddha said he would only teach people with little dust in their eyes.

The truth is Ajahn Chah trained many successful Western monks who established many successful monasteries in the West. :smile:



Note: Those ex-Ajahn Chah monks who ordain women have abandoned the teachings of Ajahn Chah and now teach Sri Lankan Maha Vihara Buddhism; such as Dependent Origination over many lifetimes. These Western bhikkhuni ordaining monks used the Sri Lankan bhikkhunis to ordain new women. It seems like the Westerners who take refuge in Sri Lankan Buddhism ordain women. ;)

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StormBorn
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by StormBorn » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:19 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:49 am
Buddhism was basically extinct in Sri Lanka when the British arrived. Buddhism had to be reinstated in Sri Lanka by Burmese monks. As a Westerner, my opinion is Sri Lankans have the worst understanding of Buddhism. My question would be: "Will Sri Lankans ever catch Buddhism?"
I think all the Asian Buddhist countries have worst understandings and also practises which are far-far away from what Buddha taught (this can get very subtle too). However, I have met some of the best practising Buddhists in Asia. If you take Tibetan or Mahayana Buddhism, one hardly find those in Sri Lanka like countries but in the West, those schools are far spread than Theravada.

The same corruption of Dhamma can be found among Westerners also. And some of the glowing Western Buddhist organisations, once peeled layer by layer, proves nothing but corruption. However, in Asia the downfall is more prominent due to the wide spread of the Buddhism over many centuries.
“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one—himself.”

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DooDoot
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:24 am

StormBorn wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:19 am
....
Ultimately, race or nation makes little difference. Dhamma is known by liberation and liberation is reached due to an urgency for it.

thang
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by thang » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:31 am

You Westerners are generally in a hurry; therefore, you will have greater extremes of happiness, suffering, and defilement. If you practice correctly, the fact that you have to deal with many problems can be a source of deep wisdom later on.
Ajahn_Chah_A_Still_Forest_Pool
"Bhikkhus, whatever the Tathāgata speaks, utters, or expounds
in the interval between
the night when he awakens to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment
and the night when he attains final nibbāna,
all that is just so and not otherwise"
;

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DooDoot
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:34 am

thang wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:31 am
You Westerners are generally in a hurry; therefore, you will have greater extremes of happiness, suffering, and defilement. If you practice correctly, the fact that you have to deal with many problems can be a source of deep wisdom later on.
Ajahn_Chah_A_Still_Forest_Pool
The above is merely a generalisation. If it is taken literally, it makes Ajahn Chah look like a fool.

Since you (Thang) never studied with Ajahn Chah, it is both wise and respectful to not pretend you understand his teachings.

Last edited by DooDoot on Sat Sep 22, 2018 11:05 am, edited 3 times in total.

James Tan
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by James Tan » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:36 am

Many Westerners are very learned , very rational and very committed . But , question is , will their kindness and compassion as equal as their intelligence ?!
:reading:

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DooDoot
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Re: Will Westerners ever catch Buddhism ?

Post by DooDoot » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:38 am

James Tan wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:36 am
Many Westerners are very learned , very rational and very committed . But , question is , will their kindness and compassion as equal as their intelligence ?!
Some of us follow the compassion of the Buddha.
"Therefore, Ananda, engage with me in friendliness, and not in opposition. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness.

"I won't hover over you like a potter over damp, unbaked clay goods. Scolding again & again, I will speak. Urging you on again & again, I will speak. Whatever is of essential worth will remain."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

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