Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by Ben » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:28 am

Hi jechbi

If you've got the time and inclination, I would appreciate it if you could expand on your comment.
Kind regards

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by Jechbi » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:18 am

Thanks for asking, Ben.

I don't expect everyone to agree, but I think we participate in any situation in which we find ourselves, and so we bear some responsibility if, through inaction, we allow something to occur even though we see how we might be able to make a difference and create a better situation.

What we choose to do and how we choose to act will always depend on the circumstances. But stupid remarks or caricatures almost by their nature are likely to convey an incorrect and counterproductive message that is unhelpful to those who hear it in ignorance. So why not address the ignorance in a caring way? No need to be overbearing, but maybe through humor or a friendly remark, it would be possible to awaken a sense of closer examination of what's going on.

On the other hand if we stand idly by while someone actually disparages the Buddhadhamma, then by default we're sending the message that there's nothing wrong with what's being said or done. Defending the Buddhadhamma doesn't mean being a jerk or declaring jihad or anything like that. But I do think that inaction does not equate to no kamma if we hear or see something occuring that would tend to fuel greed, hate or delusion, and we decide to try to stay out of it. Because we're already in it. That is our kamma.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by Guy » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:04 am

I think there are other dimensions to consider before writing off inaction as unskilful, at least in some situations. Maybe there are some more extreme situations where I would agree that responsive action is necessary.

1) Generally speaking, not that I hold this as absolutey true, I believe that it's reasonable to assume that people who are coming from a position of intentionally making fun of the Buddha/Dhamma/Sangha (whether or not they are aware of the ramifications of doing so) will not care about us speaking out against their disrespectful behaviour. If they are ignorant and arrogant enough to make fun of something they don't fully understand to begin with, what makes us think that we have the means to change such a persons mind? In my experience, such ignorant/arrogant people are impossible to talk any sense into and are not worth the time.

2) If the Buddha was fully enlightened, if he taught the good and true teaching, if there are disciples to this day who practice as the Buddha taught and have attained various stages of enlightenment then how do the actions of some ignorant people take anything away from the Buddha/Dhamma/Sangha? Surely the only people who have anything to lose are the disrespectful people themselves. These people are robbing themselves. If we have faith in Buddha/Dhamma/Sangha then it is impossible for them to rob us.

3) Our resources could be put to better uses than trying to make everyone respectful and politically correct because it makes us uncomfortable. It would be much more skilful, imo, to focus on the subject of the discomfort we feel (ie. how the discomfort manifests itself in our own body and mind) than focusing on the object of our discomfort (ie. the people that we find offensive). If we go around trying to solve every injustice in the world and trying to make the external world perfect then we will have no resources left to focus on the inner world. As I understand the Buddha's teachings, it is because there are always going to be such problems as injustice, disrespect, people saying and doing things offensive that we need to sort these issues out in our own mind's rather than trying to change everyone else's mind.

With Metta,

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by Dhammabodhi » Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:46 pm

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I came across this news story: ... 703382.cms" onclick=";return false;

I think what the girl did and what the newspaper is doing is commendable.
However, I do believe that up to a certain level we have to accept such ignorance and move on. Come to think of it, even more sinister forms of ignorance were present(and still are) both in the temporal and spacial vicinity of the Buddha himself! But he only preached to those who were willing to listen, and even then some people were not convinced! Ignorance is the greatest tragedy of mankind.

"Take rest, take rest."-S.N.Goenka

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by thornbush » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:03 pm

I sometimes think that it an artefact of living in samsara, the profound and the profane changing places. But I wonder why the same people don't have the balls to make underwear with the veiled image of Mohammad printed on the front or statuetes of mohammad with a hard-on.
Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, cranky or both. What do you think?
Hi Ben,
I must say that for you to feel something about this case and the rest who make a parody of Buddhism or that of any systems of belief is applaudable. I never thought that there would those who will feel this way in this Dhamma Ending Age anymore.
I suppose the reason why they wouldn't dare do that to the Muslims is because they are known to take things seriously and consequences are 'real' when that line has been crossed, right or wrong. They are willing to give their lives for what they believe in and have demonstrated it and any right minded individual, company or country wouldn't want to risk that stake.
And as for Buddhism and Buddhists? We are seen as some kind of a door mat...anytime, anything, anywhere..."whatever will be will be" as the old tune goes...
Heck, some of us can't even decide if it is ok for one who has taken the Refuge/Precepts commitments to take commitments of other religions/faith systems at the same time. What more, when there is a need to defend the Proper Dhamma that is constantly either made into another $9.99 book in a New Age store or as how this thread has shown us an example. Now do you wonder anymore why you saw what you saw and heard what you heard on how/what many in history have done this 'disservice'?
Other parallels:
I remember once when I came across a video "Mr Gautama". It featured a Vesak event. I felt that addressing the Founder in such a casual manner was unbefitting as how He Himself had admonished:" onclick=";return false;
"So I said to them, 'Don't address the Tathagata by name and as "friend."

And so I posted a comment on that video with a gentle reminder with this quote on not simply addressing the Buddha nor any Founder of any faith systems in a casual manner. What I got? A scathing private message telling me that, that was his/her way of 'devotion' to the Buddha and I was manifesting an attachment to 'worldly titles' and 'over scrupulous' and further deleted my comment and disable the comment function for that video. What did I do? I sent back a reply thanking him/her for his/her comment and wished that person a Blessed Vesak 2009.
Now, compare this to what I had observed in numerous temples:
eating while a Dhamma Ceremony is going on, answering calls or letting their handphones ring during Dhamma assemblies or talks, parents allowing their children to go wild on temple grounds, answering a call right in front of the Bhante while he is doing a blessing and so forth.
Now...contrast this to what you have raised in this you see a pattern? There is some kind of 'de-sensitization' that is going on. As the old saying goes....'Familiarity breeds contempt'. Some are so numbed to the point that when the Proper Dhamma is being subverted in direct and indirect ways, it is taken as "what can one do?', 'so what?', 'stop being a tart' and so on...
I support what the elders of that temple had done. They stood up for the Dhamma and that has set a kind of precedent that in our practice of Dhamma, that as a Dhamma Ambassador, an Ambassador defends and cherishes what the Dhamma is.
See this parallel admonishment by the late Ven Master Hsuan Hua: ... 8Lines.htm" onclick=";return false;
After they graduated from the Summer Shurangama Study and Cultivation Session, five Americans left the home-life.
I sent them to Hai Hui (Sea-like Assembly) Monastery in Taiwan to receive the precepts.
The Good and Wise Advisors in Taiwan told them,
"The present time is the Dharma-ending Age. No one cultivates anymore. You’re still eating one meal a day? You’ve been cheated by your teacher."
When my American disciples heard this, they thought, "Oh, so we’ve been cheated by our teacher. What should we do?"
The Good and Wise Advisors said, "Well, go ahead and eat. Drink wine and eat meat."
The five people started to have doubts about Buddhism. "Why did our teacher teach us to eat one meal a day, and now they tell us we should eat in the morning and evening as well? What’s going on? There must be something wrong here."
Their minds were swayed and they wanted to start eating more meals, but they had a meeting and decided to go back and make sure before they did that. They also told the Good and Wise Advisors in Taiwan that they slept sitting up. Some people in Taiwan told them, "You sleep sitting up? People did that when the Buddha was in the world. Now the Buddha isn’t around anymore, so why do you do it? It’s really a case of Americans being cheated by the Chinese."
What happened then? When they returned, they got mischievous.
They said, "In Taiwan, everyone eats three meals a day. We shouldn’t eat just one meal."
They acted naughty with me. They said more, but I don’t remember that much.
It took more than three months before their doubts were resolved.
At that time, some people in Taiwan would say,
"Dharma Master Hsuan Hua has taken some hippies as disciples in America.
There are many hippies hanging out in Golden Gate Park, and Dharma Master Hsuan Hua goes there to meditate.
When the hippies see him meditating, they’re curious and go up to talk to him.
Then Dharma Master Hsuan Hua tells them to go visit the temple.
They go to the temple and find that the life-style there is pretty similar to their hippie life-style, so they all leave the home-life."
There is another rumor in Taiwan: "You know what? Dharma Master Hsuan Hua takes drugs with the hippies in America. The hippies take LSD and marijuana. They can get high on just one capsule of LSD and feel as carefree as if they were in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. But Dharma Master Hsuan Hua can take more than ten capsules without being affected in the least. He doesn’t get high or feel as carefree as if he were in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. That’s why all those hippies admire him and left the home-life under him. Don’t believe in him."

You can talk back and forth, but whether they are hippies or not does not matter. He who works hard in cultivation is good. He who does not work hard in cultivation is not good. If he is not a hippie, but he does not cultivate, that’s not good. If he is a hippie and he cultivates, that’s just as good.
Therefore, in Buddhism, mere talking about cultivation doesn’t count. There must be real practice and real benefit. Don’t just say, "I have concentration. I have this samadhi or that samadhi." And another person also comes up with another kind of samadhi.
Now I will tell everyone about some lines that I thought of:
Paying lip service to samadhi,
They say, "I am right and you are wrong."
In time, their original appearance is revealed,
And they are covered with offenses.
This is saying that people just pay lip service to Buddhism and treat it as child’s play.
They talk carelessly without taking responsibility for cause and effect.
Who will fall into the Hell of Ripping Out Tongues? Precisely that kind of person.
When they get there, their tongues will be ripped out and they won’t be able to talk anymore.
In their minds they will think, "What a mess I’m in. If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have fooled around like that."
Perhaps...we do what we can but beyond that, perhaps a more capable teacher will have to take over, kamma.

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by Thaibebop » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:59 pm

Ben wrote:Hi all

I want to thank you all for your kind responses. And I agree with the majority of sentiments expressed. As I said on another thread, I think that it is our collective equanimity in the face of such ignorance, which is our strength. I also agree with Genkaku, our practice is most important.

I hope you don't mind if I explore another aspect to this discussion. While I was reading your responses, the thought occured to me that if we don't show respect for the triple gem, do we become complicit in the excesses of others, be it stupid remarks by way of a charactature, or some of the other examples I mentioned above? While I agree that we honor the Buddha by walking on the path, it has to be acknowledged that most of us live in highly secularised western societies where appearances are all important. If we do not defend the Buddhadhamma, do we become complicit in someone dispariaging the Buddhadhamma, thus creating a barrier for them in encountering the Dhamma?

Thanks for your kind consideration - I look forward to reading your responses.

I agree, yet I find it best to defend only when it will educate, when the person is receptive to what you have to say. Otherwise, I stay silent so as not to create negative karma for myself by pushing too much, or mouthing off at someone even if they deserve it.

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by James N. Dawson » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:18 am

Following are a series of e-mails germaine to the issue I wrote ca. 2006. I believe the protest was over "washing the baby Buddha" performed in Mahayana countries at the Mahabodhi temple:

Dear Venerable Ananda, Ken and Visakha:

I did go ahead and politely e-mail the officials you
requested us to, encouraging them to cancel said
celebrations, even though for various reasons I've
been hesitant to really involve myself in such issues
for many years.

As you can see from the attachment to this letter, the
issue is complex. If Buddhagaya and the Mahabodhi
Temple is for ALL the world's Buddhists, certainly it
is for the Zen Buddhists. And if it's for the Zen
Buddhists, it must be for those among them for whom
"iconoclasm" and "inappropriate behavior" is an
important expression of their mode of

Anway, I'll leave you with the attachment to further
explain my point.

I hope the situation resolves itself to the
satisfaction of all parties.

Respectfully in the Dhamma,

James N. Dawson



{ I sent this email by but it was returned to me so I am trying another email address.)

Dear James,

I am filing a complaint about a high profile business in Melbourne which uses the trading name "Chocolate Buddha" Basically , I am objecting because such a name is a serious trivialization of the Buddha and by implication ,his Teachings.We have plenty of prejudice here in Australia against Buddhism ,by the way. I am not opposed to the use of the word "Buddha" by businesses per se, but I do object to the name being linked to inappropriate adjectives or attributes.

Thus I have no problem with Golden Buddha / Radiant Buddha etc.etc.I am definitely NOT judgmental in my complaint about the use of Chocolate Buddha as a trading name- my objection is solely based on the conviction that such a name tends to disparage the Buddha and his Teachings and will tend to bolster prejudice and encourage the dismissal of the Buddhas' Teachings as a viable and wise guide to life.

If you are interested in this matter then , I certainly would appreciate your input. I need to prepare a response in about a fortnight and am working on it already and have made considerable progress as the reply to my initial formal complaint to the equal opportunity commission here is very weak and subjective.

By " high profile" I mean really high profile.This Cafe Chocolate Buddha is situated in the new Federation Square Complex in central Melbourne.Millions a have been poured into developing it without restraint. The buildings are of a stunning, very hi-tech design and the whole Complex is seen as Melbourne's answer to the Sydney Opera house! The context here is traditional rivalry between Australia's two largest cities !
I close now. Take care of yourself and I look forward to hearing from you. TERRY

Forwarded Message: Re: Chocolate Buddha
Re: Chocolate BuddhaFriday, February 28, 2003 4:43 PM
From: "James Dawson" <>To: "(Mr.) T.A.BURGESS" <>Dear Terry:

I distinctly remember your writing me about this and my sending you reply, but I can't find the latter in my "sent file".

Terry, I hope you won't be put off with me, but in accordance with my libertarian principles, as distasteful, insensitive and disrespectful as this company's abuse of the Buddha's name is, and indeed it is all of these, I don't believe in a government commision to forbid it. It's one of those perhaps unpleasant stands I have to take as a libertarian and advocate of free speech, even when stupid and offensive.

However, this trivilization problem also part of a larger issue. Many Zen practicioners, both Asian traditionalists and Western, also practice this sort of "irreverence" as a matter of principle. For instance, there was a Korean Zen master by the name of So An Sim (I'm not sure about the spelling), who wrote a book called "Dropping Ashes on the Buddha", and in whose meditation center it was made a practice to take Dhamma books into the bathroom. It was all part of a deliberate "iconoclasm". Similarly, there were a couple books by Westerners several decades ago, one called "If You Meet the Buddha by the Roadside, Kill Him", and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", the latter of which, might be regarded as something of a trivialization. Certainly this company could point to such practices of many Buddhists themselves as a justification for their own choice of their restaurant's name. Further, is there a consensus among the larger Buddhist community in Australia against this company using the name of the Enlightened One in this way?

To many Westerners, Buddhism is Zen, and Zen is iconoclasm and irreverence. I don't share this attitude, but in situations like this one, I feel you might be fighting a lonely battle.

Please don't take this as criticism or dissuasion from your efforts. I respect and share your feelings on the matter. If the EOC fails to take action, what about getting a petition requesting a name change, getting as many Buddhist signatures as possible, and presenting it to this company.

Whatever course you think is best, good luck, and I hope you'll understand my position.

Your Dhamma friend,


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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:48 am

James N. Dawson wrote:Following are a series of e-mails germaine to the issue I wrote ca. 2006. I believe the protest was over "washing the baby Buddha" performed in Mahayana countries at the Mahabodhi temple: ...
I'm not sure why you mention specifically Zen iconoclasticism. Washing the Buddha seems to be a popular activity in various non-iconoclastic Mahayana circles.

Besides, splashing water on Buddha Rupa is very popular in Thailand at Songkran...


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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:52 am

mikenz66 wrote:Besides, splashing water on Buddha Rupa is very popular in Thailand at Songkran...
Reading through Piyadassi's translation of the Book Of Protection, I see the utilisation of water in ceremonies where the protective verses are chanted, such as the opening of a new monestary etc.

Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by appicchato » Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:35 am

Slightly off topic here, sorry...

In Thailand water is used in virtually every ceremony (involving lay people) going...


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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by James N. Dawson » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:17 am

I'm not sure why you mention specifically Zen iconoclasticism. Washing the Buddha seems to be a popular activity in various non-iconoclastic Mahayana circles.

Besides, splashing water on Buddha Rupa is very popular in Thailand at Songkran...
My apologies. It wasn't about washing the baby Buddha. It was about Japanese Buddhists bringing in amplified music (rock?) into Mahabodhi to celebrate the Buddha's birthday on April 8. Very different situation.

Why do I mention Zen iconoclasm? I'm not attacking Zen. I'm just saying "irreverence" is very much a part of Zen, Zen is a school of Buddhism, and many people therefore may think it's okay to be "irreverent" toward Buddhism. It's part of the popular conception of what Buddhism is or should be to many people, and *some* Buddhists have fostered it. Again, no attack, just an observation. It's one reason I tend to not want to say anything about the disrespect, because I'm never sure if I'd have much support if did. Also, non-Buddhists really have no obligation to respect what we do. What I find awkward is when we as Buddhists are expected to laugh WITH them, or we're looked at as humorlous sticks in the mud if we don't. I won't condemn or even comment on disrespect, but I won't go along with it either. I find it almost impossible to even call the Kurt Cobain grunge band by it's name. The mere thought makes me very uncomfortable.

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:42 am

Hi James,
James N. Dawson wrote:My apologies. It wasn't about washing the baby Buddha. It was about Japanese Buddhists bringing in amplified music (rock?) into Mahabodhi to celebrate the Buddha's birthday on April 8. Very different situation.
OK, thanks for the clarification. However, I would point out that you get loud amplified music at Thai Wats as well...


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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by christopher::: » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:53 pm

Hi all,

Concerning Zen "irreverence" my understanding is that its purpose is to remind practitioners that "objectification" is a false view. If you Meet Buddha on the Road kill him is meant as a metaphor for "if during the course of your practice you come to believe you are a Buddha- a fully enlightened being - banish that thought, kill it."

A story was just told about this over at ZFI, though i couldnt just now find it. A woman builds a hut for a monk to live in and meditate. He stays there for years. She sends her daughter over as a test to seduce him. He responds "I am beyond that, all desires have died, I am no longer touched by this world."

Hearing about this, the woman is disgusted and has the hut burned down.

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Post by rowyourboat » Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:12 pm

I think there are several issues here- to be effective externally and effective internally are two different things

you might raise a quiet petition

..bearing in mind that the buddha asked us to let go of attachment to the path itself (similie of the raft)
all suffering arises because we are attached -similarly we can easily become attached to the buddha's image
we take it as 'mine' and link it in with something which defines myself
then when someone desecrates it we fall into suffering

all of this easier said than done..

restraunt opened near to me called the 'Buddha'- probalby sells alcohol- should I complain? will it have any effect? am i giving rise to dfilements in the process? will they change the name? - or does all those buddha heads used for aesthetic beauty actually instill a sense of peace in those who view it and form positive links with buddhism in their minds?

does any of it ultiamtely matter?

:jedi: or :meditate: ?
With Metta

& Upekkha

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