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Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:37 am
by mikenz66
Aloka wrote: I think that the mistake lies in having expectations that ''Buddhists'' will behave like perfect Buddhas, when in fact they're probably just ordinary human beings like anyone else.

My personal opinion these days is that I'm responsible for my own practice and not for anyone else's.
Very well put Aloka. A very sensible and positive post...

:anjali:
Mike

Re: Surin monk accused of B56m fraud

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:55 am
by lyndon taylor
I was actually refering to all the recently discussed scandals, not this one scandal particularly, one of the other scandals did involve pedophilia, how are we better off not knowing about this stuff, its very important to pick which monks/temples you study with, and all this exposure should make you aware that you shouldn't blindly trust everyone that claims to be a monk, but we should all know that shouldn't we. A system that has to hide the truth in order to keep functioning is a bankrupt system to start with, transperency only helps us in the long run, in my opinion.

Re: Surin monk accused of B56m fraud

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:58 am
by forestmat
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Or, you could just close them because they mostly violate the principle of right speech.

It's OK to blame the blameworthy if one has a good intention to warn people of the dangers of associating with some wicked individual, or to blame directly in order to admonish someone for behaviour that is doing them harm.

However, these threads don't seem to have any good intention — and are really just gossip.
Greetings Bhikkhu Pesala,

not sure but perhaps you could clarify if your comment was directed at me seeing as I was the original poster of a news story (without additional comment from me) concerning an ordained member of the Bhikkhu Sangha in Thailand.

With metta

forestmat

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:12 am
by binocular
What I find the most difficult to deal with is the way some Buddhists talk about those scandals, and what that implies. Because judging by how those discussions usually go and who wins, who gets on top, it seems that aggressiveness, violence, manipulation, lying, passive-aggressiveness, gossip, and ill will in its various forms are the proper way to be. And that goodwill, paying attention to what has actually been said and done, compassion and such are for losers, for weaklings, and that one is going to remain a loser and a weakling as long as one practices these.

Maybe ill will is the path to nirvana after all.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:36 am
by reflection
I kept myself out of those threads, because discussing such matters won't really help anyone. But since this thread has a more practical angle to it, I feel free to say some things. I'd say having confidence in the ordained sangha can be a good thing, but the confidence should be in the ideal of monks and nuns advancing along the path. It should not be confidence that a particular monastic is faultless or that in general putting on robes makes one virtuous, because obviously this is not the case. So what we can look at better, in my eyes, is not the scandals themselves but how we relate to them and if it hurts our confidence. To me those scandals don't do anything. There is some pity to those involved, but my practice and confidence is not hurt. I know people may be involved with Buddhism for decades but don't learn a thing, but I also know there are people who do learn. And when not learning anything, it is not necessarily their own fault; it may be that at certain places the teachings are just bad.

:anjali:

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:39 am
by Dan74
Bikkhu Pesala posted some quotes that are a good reminder for all of us, I suspect.
Disregard the faults of others, things done and left undone by others,
but examine the deeds done and not done by oneself. Dhp.v.50

Easily seen are others’ faults, hard indeed to see are one’s own.
Like chaff one winnows others’ faults,
but one’s own (faults) one hides,
as a crafty fowler conceals himself by camouflage. Dhp.v.252

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:44 am
by reflection
Dan74 wrote:Bikkhu Pesala posted some quotes that are a good reminder for all of us, I suspect.
Disregard the faults of others, things done and left undone by others,
but examine the deeds done and not done by oneself. Dhp.v.50

Easily seen are others’ faults, hard indeed to see are one’s own.
Like chaff one winnows others’ faults,
but one’s own (faults) one hides,
as a crafty fowler conceals himself by camouflage. Dhp.v.252
:anjali: Thanks.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:59 am
by Coyote
I have not been shocked, and actually quite detached. I didn't enter Buddhism expecting every monk to be perfect. Unlike Christianity, which was for me centered on the institution of the Church, there is a different focus in Buddhism as I have practiced it. I didn't start out with any faith in institutionalised Buddhism and so scandals haven't hurt my faith. What they have done is proven that the focus should be one's own practice, not depending on other people's behavior, but not shunning good kalyanamitta's either. While I don't think scandals should be ignored or downplayed, it is refreshing to know that they have very little influence on my own confidence and practice. It is a careful balance between realising that one's actions are one's own, and not dismissing the actions of others.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:06 am
by binocular
Dan74 wrote:Bikkhu Pesala posted some quotes that are a good reminder for all of us, I suspect.
Disregard the faults of others, things done and left undone by others,
but examine the deeds done and not done by oneself. Dhp.v.50

Easily seen are others’ faults, hard indeed to see are one’s own.
Like chaff one winnows others’ faults,
but one’s own (faults) one hides,
as a crafty fowler conceals himself by camouflage. Dhp.v.252
That only makes sense if one is in the clear about what a "fault" is.

Maybe ill will is not a fault after all. The more I watch Buddhists who tend to come out on top, especially in interpersonal conflicts, the more I am convinced that ill will is an advantage, not a fault at all. And that as such, it should be practiced.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:33 am
by lyndon taylor
While I understand the sentiment that we should be focusing on the good, and not the bad, let me propose a hypothetical;

You've searched your soul and finally you're ready to commit to becoming a monk and living at a temple or monastery, you've come down to selecting where to practise, or you may have no choice but the local temple. Would you prefer to know about major scandals at a temple you are considering before or after you join and have devoted several months or years of your life.

People keep saying discussing this is making Buddhism look bad, I say scandals only remind us that people can be really bad, do you actually think that there are nothing but pure, holy monks and lay followers practising perfectly the precepts and vinaya. People are human, the Buddha taught us how incredibly deceptive samsara can be, so lets be realistic and be aware that not everyone wearing robes or not is perfect, being aware of reality seems more in line with Buddhism, than sweeping reality under the rug and pretending everythings perfect when its not.

We've probably all followed the scandals in the Catholic church, and it took many many years, but things are starting to change, a bit. My guess is young pedophiles are less likely now to want to become catholic priests as more eyes will be watching them, than in the past. I bring this up as an example; exposure leads to change, slow change, but change. Sweeping it under the rug and ignoring it, and criticising people for mentioning it, leads to business as usual and more of the same. I don't think we really want to see that.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:40 am
by Ben
Dan74 wrote:Last few years there have been some scandals in American Zen circles that I have followed to varying extent and now there are many threads about scandals and corruption in Theravada on this forum. So I wanted to explore the ramifications of these events to us, to our practice.

First I would like to invite you to pay attention to what resonates in you to these events. What are the reactions? I think it is worthwhile to stop and listen carefully before reacting and proceeding with further proliferations.

For me I had been puzzled how many years of practice do not guarantee basic morality, I wondered how and where one goes off the track and if indeed their practice was efficacious. I also wondered if the culture at the various temples and monasteries is conducive to cultivation.

These are good questions I thought and I do not advocate sweeping them under the carpet. But what I also noticed is when such doubts start to dominate then rather than being inspired and determined, I waiver in my practice and my own sila begins to decline. After all contemplating the qualities of the Buddha, being inspired by great teachers and indeed having contact with them, are fantastic motivators, whereas corrosive doubt is not.

I am wondering if people notice their attraction to these scandals, the inordinate amount of time (and forum space) given to them and the effect this is having on their practice. And then scandals are followed by anonymous accounts, anonymous accusations - 'Oh what a tangled web we weave!'

I am guessing many members have kept clear of all this stuff precisely because they see it as not conducive to good practice. Perhaps those of us without such clarity can reflect...
I agree with Dan's sentiments.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:57 pm
by Anagarika
I have had the good fortune to spend some time in Thailand, in the company of western Bhikkhus...all good, Vinaya monks. I learned there that there were within, especially, the city Wats, monks who were in robes just so that they could have a lifestyle...they smoked, ate after noon, used money and purchased expensive cell phones for themselves. It was disappointing to hear of this and witness it, but it just clarified the idea that even the Bhikkhu Sangha takes in some mopes as boys who have nowhere else to go, and it's human nature that when the Abbot of a city wat is driving a nice car and eating after midday, the monks will degenerate, too.

Seeing many good monks, and seeing the work of these monks and Bhikkhunis in Thailand, inspires me every day. It's an example that inspires me to do better, to work well at the study and practice of Dhamma. Rather than be disheartened by scandals, one can use these moments as inspiration to support and replicate the good behaviors of many other Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

I am glad for the news of the jet setting monks and the fraudster monk that owns the house in Lake Elsinore, California. The Thai Sangha may crack down on these fraudsters, and hopefully inspire the laity that the Sangha actually cares about the Vinaya rules, and will disrobe bad monks. We'll have to see how far the Sangha will go. Like any other institution, there is money, politics and conflicts of interest among (mainly city) monks, and it may fall to the government of Thailand to start to prosecute bad monks.

Is the barrel mostly full of good apples? I think so. Each of us can be inspired as well to be among these good apples, and not let the bad ones ruin this path for the rest of us. The apple tree itself is strong, noble, and in very good health.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:39 pm
by Dan74
binocular wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Bikkhu Pesala posted some quotes that are a good reminder for all of us, I suspect.
Disregard the faults of others, things done and left undone by others,
but examine the deeds done and not done by oneself. Dhp.v.50

Easily seen are others’ faults, hard indeed to see are one’s own.
Like chaff one winnows others’ faults,
but one’s own (faults) one hides,
as a crafty fowler conceals himself by camouflage. Dhp.v.252
That only makes sense if one is in the clear about what a "fault" is.

Maybe ill will is not a fault after all. The more I watch Buddhists who tend to come out on top, especially in interpersonal conflicts, the more I am convinced that ill will is an advantage, not a fault at all. And that as such, it should be practiced.
Of course ill will is a fault, but not being able to know the minds of others, I prefer to give people benefit of doubt unless conclusively proven otherwise.

Re: Scandals in the Sangha and the relevance to our practice

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:48 pm
by BlackBird
Ill will should not be practiced, the suggestion that it is beneficial is really quite ridiculous, which leads me to think you're joking Binocular ;)

metta
Jack

Re: Surin monk accused of B56m fraud

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:31 pm
by Bhikkhu Pesala
forestmat wrote:Greetings Bhikkhu Pesala,

not sure but perhaps you could clarify if your comment was directed at me seeing as I was the original poster of a news story (without additional comment from me) concerning an ordained member of the Bhikkhu Sangha in Thailand.
It was a response to Blackbird's post, and was a general statement about all such scandal threads.

You should examine your own intention to know whether it is just gossip or useful information for the members of this site.

If members here were part of the congregation at that temple, perhaps it might be relevant, but I don't see how it contributes anything helpful to anyone's Dhamma knowledge or practice. Anyone can read the Bangkok post if they want to know the latest stories, but how does this relate to Dhamma Wheel members' own Dhamma practice?

Any westerner planning a trip to Asia to practice would surely check out which temples are reputable. Anyone, whether a Westerner or an Asian, who was living in Thailand would be quite familiar with these stories. So again,what benefit for them is there in repeating here what they can read in the Bangkok Post?