Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Sun May 06, 2012 7:05 pm

Mike, my comments were not specifically in relation to Ajahn Brahm but more general. Possibly I should have made that clearer (seemed clear to me). The "bad qualities" phrase was taken from a post by Ven. Pesala. I tried to soften the phrase be adding "odd views"
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun May 06, 2012 7:10 pm

mikenz66 wrote: Of course, exactly how we interpret and make use of the content of the suttas in our development is, ultimately, our responsibility, and there are various ways of making use of those passages, not necessarily by taking them as literal, "scientific" discourse. After all, the Buddha is talking about how we interpret our personal experience...
Well said. It seems to me that iddhis are not a problem if we approach them as experiential states rather than trying to establish their objective basis relative to science. The latter effort might be interesting from the standpoint of a brain researcher or psychologist, but it has no particular significance for the Buddhist path. In fact, it strikes me as a fruitless digression -- and since the iddhis are not really central to the goal of liberation, it ends up being a digression about a digression, so to speak.

As was noted in a previous discussion, anecdotes relating to NDEs often include experiences which are similar to the iddhis.
NDErs claim that without physical bodies, they are able to penetrate through walls and doors and project themselves wherever they want. They frequently report the ability to read people’s thoughts.
The great thing here is that we don't actually have to get bogged down in speculation what NDEs amount to in scientific terms -- such discussion is beside the point. The anecdotes suggest that under some circumstances people have mental experiences which could be defined as supranormal. Anyone who has ever experimented with acid or "magic mushrooms" would agree. So why wouldn't it be just as plausible that deep meditative states can also lead to highly unusual perceptions?

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by mikenz66 » Sun May 06, 2012 7:46 pm

Mr Man wrote:Mike, my comments were not specifically in relation to Ajahn Brahm but more general. Possibly I should have made that clearer (seemed clear to me). The "bad qualities" phrase was taken from a post by Ven. Pesala. I tried to soften the phrase be adding "odd views"
:anjali:
OK, as I said, if you meant views about iddhis and rebirth then most Theravada Buddhists have "odd views".

And it's a matter of taste whether Ajahn Brahm is simply "gladdening the heart" or whether his jokes really are that bad... :tongue:

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Cittasanto » Sun May 06, 2012 8:33 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Cittasanto wrote: then there was no need for comparison or comment there then! .
What do you mean? I shouldn't comment? It is my opinion that you have compleatly misunderstood what I wrote, which is odd because it is actually, in my opinion, very simple. Can you focus on my original post (if you like)?: "The idea that we should ignore the bad qualities/odd views of those in position of authority is really, in my opinion, not great advice".
:anjali:
what I meant was there was no need for the comparison or comment, as tilt called it a "non answer."
and if you read I actually do address your original post.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Cittasanto » Sun May 06, 2012 8:40 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Mike, my comments were not specifically in relation to Ajahn Brahm but more general. Possibly I should have made that clearer (seemed clear to me). The "bad qualities" phrase was taken from a post by Ven. Pesala. I tried to soften the phrase be adding "odd views"
:anjali:
OK, as I said, if you meant views about iddhis and rebirth then most Theravada Buddhists have "odd views".

And it's a matter of taste whether Ajahn Brahm is simply "gladdening the heart" or whether his jokes really are that bad... :tongue:

:anjali:
Mike
They are that bad, as are most Dhamma Teachers Jokes :)
but I would say he was aiming to inspire faith, Ajahn Sumedho used Nibbana, Ajahn Brahm the more meditative possibilities (for lack of better word)
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Mr Man
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Mr Man » Mon May 07, 2012 2:48 pm

Cittasanto, unless I am mistaken what till called "non-answer" was my most direct answer to his most direct question. Not sure how that relates to "comparison". :)
Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Who determines what is an odd view?
Tilt you do.
With regard to Ajahn Brahm I would say that although his beliefs may coincide with traditional Theravadan view I think that possibly some of the evidence and anecdotes that he uses to support those beliefs are not very strong or convincing and possibly don't align with traditional Theravadan view.

I don't think levitation (the physical body floating off the floor) is possible but I could be wrong ;)



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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 07, 2012 7:52 pm

This talk by AB has some relevance to this discussion:
http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/component/ ... igion.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
5 Types of Religion
Ajahn Brahm talks about 4 things that religion should not be and offers up a "best practice model".

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by marc108 » Mon May 07, 2012 9:49 pm

i don't find Ajahn Brahm's teachings to be too unconventional... he's way less stiff and way more playful than most other teachers and that can be problematic for some people. he is unconventional socio-politically (and a hero imo) for sure with ordaining Bhikkhunis & whatnot. ive benefited a lot from his light-hearted but accurate teaching of the Dhamma.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 07, 2012 10:31 pm

I think some who have not spent time with monastics might be surprised how playful many of them are...

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by manas » Tue May 08, 2012 3:00 am

This thread provides an opportunity for me to share a strange situation: how one can learn so much from someone, and be sincerely indebted to them for sharing their teachings & expertise, and yet not agree with every single thing they say. A case in point is 'Mindfulness, Bliss & Beyond', a book by Ajahn Brahm. This book helped me immensely, as it is packed full of helpful tips on the 'how-to' of anapanasati. To give Ajahn Brahm the credit he is due: this book changed the way I practise meditation, it precipitated a breakthrough for me. The fact that I don't agree with every single word of it doesn't lessen the help it has given me (and continues to give). I take what helps from it, and as for the rest, I put it down to imperfection - I mean, Ajahn Brahm isn't perfect; I'm not perfect; and as afaik neither is anyone else, either here at DW or elsewhere (fully enlightened Buddhas excepted).

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Last edited by manas on Tue May 08, 2012 3:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by mikenz66 » Tue May 08, 2012 3:08 am

Good point Manas,

I have learned a lot from talks and books by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ajahn Brahm, Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and Bhikku Nananada (among others). All of them (and others) have points where they seem to disagree, and I consider quite normal and healthy...

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by Dan74 » Tue May 08, 2012 4:28 am

Friends who have attended retreats with Ajahn Brahm report that he is more serious and goes into a lot more depth during the retreat. Which is natural - AB is a great populariser of Theravada which necessarily involves "dumbing it down" somewhat, making it sound easy to provoke engagement. I think this is what irks some people.

As for his take on the Dhamma, I am sure there are some controversial points but any living teacher teaching from experience would be the same. And as others have noted of course he is not perfect. But perhaps perfect enough for most of us.

Not to say that people should not challenge some points he makes and that everyone should love him. Of course not. I go to his talks when he comes but I don't quite click with him as much as I do with some other teachers). I am sure he doesn't mind! :D
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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by waterchan » Sat May 10, 2014 3:02 am

mikenz66 wrote: I think some of us who work in physics (or other sciences) have a more realistic view than non-practitioners: that science is just one of our tool boxes.
I realize this is an old post, but I would like to hear you elaborate on what you meant by this statement. :smile:
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by retrofuturist » Sat May 10, 2014 6:29 am

Greetings Dan,
Dan74 wrote:Which is natural - AB is a great populariser of Theravada which necessarily involves "dumbing it down" somewhat, making it sound easy to provoke engagement. I think this is what irks some people.
I don't think it's that so much... it's more the way he conflates "speculating about how existence, why we're here, the nature of the universe, other religions" (to quote greggorious) along with the actual Dhamma.

If Ajahn Brahm were to more clearly differentiate between the Buddha's teachings (or even Theravada's teachings) and his own speculative excursions, I think there would be less ire drawn... especially when you consider that the Dhamma of the Buddha actually contains plentiful warnings against pointless speculation on such matters (see MN 63 - Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta as one such example)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Ajahn Brahm, unconventional

Post by cooran » Sat May 10, 2014 6:41 am

I was at a talk by Ajahn Brahm in Brisbane a year or so ago. He told the same jokes I'd heard from him before, the same stories I'd read in his books - and then he said abortion was o.k. up to about 16 or more weeks. At that point quite a number of the audience walked out.
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