Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

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thang
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Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:24 pm

"A Mahākassapa For Our Time" -Bhikkhu Bodhi
"The Mahā Kassapa of this age" -Bhikkhu K. Ñāṇananda
"The Best Dhamma Talk I Ever Heard" -Ajahn Brahm
  • Ñāṇavimala Thera was the last living disciple of Ñāṇatiloka Thera (1878-1957), who was himself the first Buddhist monk from Continental Europe.
  • He was highly respected by monks as well as laypeople and many people believe that he attained the highest stage of Buddhist sanctity.
  • He would normally stay in monasteries and other places on the way for at most three days at a time and would then continue walking.
  • Once, robbers came up to him and investigated his bag, but, finding nothing of value, left empty handed.
  • To be even more free and detached inside, Ñāṇavimala would normally have no fixed destination.
  • Where are you heading?’ ‘Ñāṇavimala promptly replied: ‘I haven’t decided yet. I’ll decide when I get to the corner.’
  • When he met people, Ñāṇavimala would encourage them to practice the Dhamma with the suttas as a guide.
  • Again and again he emphasized that the practice of the Dhamma, a simple renunciant lifestyle, and the giving up of all worldly attachments will lead one to the supreme bliss of Nibbāna.
  • I was in a vehicle and offered him a ride, but he refused and continued on foot.
  • There was no way you could give Ven. Ñāṇavimala in excess of what he needed. An extra robe would definitely not be accepted.
  • If there was a patch on his robe, it was a genuine patch, not like the modern trend of wearing patched robes just to simulate austerity.
  • When he wasn’t given a place to stay in temples, he stayed in churches, schools or village halls.
  • No matter where he went, he would keep up the same routine.
  • Mostly, he did not take the food offered in a temple, but would go on almsround.
  • If you read books about monks in ancient times, it was similar to that.
  • The qualities of patience, compassion, humility and other virtues were the best things about Ven. Ñāṇavimala. These were at the highest level.
  • There was no conceit or hurried behaviour and I never witnessed a day when he clashed with anyone.
  • When he walked through jungles where there were wild animals such as elephants and leopards and no harm ever befell him.
  • For me, he was the Mahā Kassapa of this age.
  • In his deep reverberating voice, he reminded me of the true aim and purpose of an ideal monk’s life.
  • Venerable Ñāṇavimala seemed to live in a ‘present’ which had no ‘future’.
  • No one could guess when he would set forth on his next cārikā until he came to hand over the key of his kuṭi.
There is a strange incident relating to his sense of orderliness which I came to hear from a Western monk. Once, Venerable Ñāṇavimala in the course of his cārikā, had arrived at a certain forest hermitage. The chief monk had given him the key of the Uposatha Hall, a building which also served as the library of the hermitage. When the chief monk came to see him the next morning, he found the books which were earlier lying here and there, well arranged by the visitor. After a couple of days, Venerable Ñāṇavimala had gone to the chief monk to say he was leaving and had handed over the key. After he left, the chief monk – probably out of curiosity – had gone to the Uposatha Hall and opened the door. To his amazement, all the books were found disarranged exactly as they were before!
http://ven-nyanavimala.buddhasasana.net
"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"
;

SavakaNik
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by SavakaNik » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:05 pm

My favorite monk, hands down, if I ever go back to monasticism for full ordainment I would want to follow in his foot steps. When I was a samanera the abbot couldn't understand how he could be my favorite monk, saying "How can you like him? He didn't :quote: teach anything. :quote: "

thang
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:03 pm

SavakaNik wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:05 pm
... " How can you like him? He didn't teach anything. "
He had taught many things.
The monks of that hermitage were in the habit of distributing food to crowds of poor people who regularly turned up there. Venerable Ñāṇavimala was curious why this practice was going on. Our monk had explained, saying: ‘Venerable Sir, it is because they are poor.’ Venerable Ñāṇavimala’s rejoinder was: ‘If they are poor, we should take food from them.’
"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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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:16 pm

He sounds amazing. Are there any collected teachings or dhamma talks from him?

SavakaNik
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by SavakaNik » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:19 pm

thang wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:03 pm
SavakaNik wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:05 pm
"How can you like him? He didn't teach anything. "
He had taught many things.
The monks of that hermitage were in the habit of distributing food to crowds of poor people who regularly turned up there. Venerable Ñāṇavimala was curious why this practice was going on. Our monk had explained, saying: ‘Venerable Sir, it is because they are poor.’ Venerable Ñāṇavimala’s rejoinder was: ‘If they are poor, we should take food from them.’
Indeed.
In that case he was teaching the monks about compassion and determination-on-the-path, by suggesting that they not hold the poor villagers back from bettering their future's via depriving them of the opportunity to practice generosity, a practice which had previously been not-done - hence they were poor. One has to have a very intimate understanding of cetana as it relates or kamma in order to see the blessing behind his suggestions to his fellow monks.

However a monk, or layman, who has no true determination-on-the-path can't see it this way, for he would feel as if the situation would be somehow unfair if the monks were to receive the food from them rather than the villagers receive food from the monks.

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StormBorn
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by StormBorn » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:13 am

This is an interesting recollection by Bhikkhu Guttasila. Also, amusing to see how our perception of a person changed with more info rather than a fixed stereotype we wish to see.
Something that happened to me slightly changed my attitude to Ven. Ñāṇavimala. In 1984, I decided to go back to New Zealand as my mother had a stroke and my father had a by-pass operation and pacemaker fitted. My parents were too old and sick to visit me in Sri Lanka. The last time I had seen them was in 1973 in Australia when we spent a couple of days together. I hadn’t had a long meeting with my parents since 1970. I stayed in New Zealand till the end of 1984. I couldn’t take New Zealand any more, so decided to come back to Asia. I was in Thailand on the way back to Sri Lanka when I heard that my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so I decided to go back to New Zealand for the 1985 vassa also, as I wasn’t sure how long my mother had to live she died toward the end of 1986. So after my mother died, I decided it was time to go back to Sri Lanka.

When I arrived in Sri Lanka, I stayed in Vajirarama at a time when Ven. Ñāṇavimala was resident. On piṇḍapāta that particular morning, as I was going down the street toward the main road there was an old beggar lady sitting in the door of a closed shop. She must have been well into her seventies and she showed a lot of faith toward me, with her hands in añjali (respectful salutation), as I walked past. On the piṇḍapāta, I received some food that was a little bit extra special. I passed the old lady on the way back and it crossed my mind that I wanted to give her a small portion of my piṇḍapāta food. I could hear someone walking behind me and this made me change my mind. Who knows, it could have been people who actually gave it to me? I thought I’d better not give food to this old lady even though I wanted to.

After going for piṇḍapāta, I went to see Ven. Ñāṇavimala. I explained to him how the last three years I was away from Sri Lanka and how I looked after my parents, etc., but I also explained I was able to keep my monk’s precepts during that time. Bhante Ñāṇavimala gave a little bit of a Dhamma talk to me. I brought this question up about the old lady to Ven. Ñāṇavimala. He changed and became kind of stern and he spoke to me in a very hard way saying ‘You went back to New Zealand just to indulge your senses, just to enjoy yourself. sāmaṇeras like you shouldn’t go piṇḍapāta. You should just keep your mind on the meditation object and take your meals in the dining hall (dānasāla)’. I was not a sāmaṇera, but a bhikkhu and for me, this was just so severe and so insensitive. He said, ‘That’s enough now, you can go’. So I paid respects and left. This is a monk I thought very highly of, a role model, someone to inspire one in one’s monk life. I still saw him as a very wonderful monk, very sincere in his practice, but what it showed me was that he could be very insensitive.

Ven. Ñāṇavimala could be very conservative, very narrow and set in various ways. He couldn’t understand how anyone could go back to the West. For him, anyone who went back to the West only went to enjoy himself. He couldn’t appreciate how someone could have gone back to spend time with aged parents out of compassion and also to serve the Buddhist community. On another occasion I was present in Vajirarama when a Dutch monk went to see Ven. Ñāṇavimala. When Ven. Ñāṇavimala learned this monk had been back to the West, he severely admonished him about indulging in sensuality. Ven. Ñāṇavimala, we could see, had certain set views. This is what I mean about the rigidity and conservative attitudes in Ven. Ñāṇavimala’s mind. I think another thing here is Ven. Ñāṇavimala’s lack of ability to actually communicate with the other person. Ven. Ñāṇavimala was remote, it was almost like a person from a previous generation talking to one of a younger generation and the gap was just so wide.
“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one—himself.”

thang
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:37 am

StormBorn wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:13 am
Also, amusing to see how our perception of a person changed with more info rather than a fixed stereotype we wish to see.
Something that happened to me slightly changed my attitude to Ven. Ñāṇavimala. ..‘You went back to New Zealand just to indulge your senses, just to enjoy yourself. sāmaṇeras like you shouldn’t go piṇḍapāta. You should just keep your mind on the meditation object and take your meals in the dining hall (dānasāla)’. I was not a sāmaṇera, but a bhikkhu and for me, this was just so severe and so insensitive. For him, anyone who went back to the West only went to enjoy himself. On another occasion I was present in Vajirarama when a Dutch monk went to see Ven. Ñāṇavimala. When Ven. Ñāṇavimala learned this monk had been back to the West, he severely admonished him about indulging in sensuality.
Yes Ven. Guttasila says like that and Bhikkhu Bodhi thinks like below.
He sometimes expressed views that I thought were excessively pessimistic. For instance, he would say that there is no point in writing about the Dhamma since there are already enough materials available for those with sufficient interest, and no point in distributing literature on the Dhamma since few people have vision clear enough to accept the teachings.
But Bhikkhu Nyanananda says,
It was not easy for some who knew him to understand this wonderful blend of qualities. They were not all able to appreciate the straightforward and brief advice he gave in his deep and reverberating voice. ... By fervour of austerity, severity of discipline and rigour of fortitude, the late Venerable Ñāṇavimala Mahāthera appeared hard like a stone. But, with his overflowing mettā (universal love) and deep compassion, he was at the same time, soft like a flower.
"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"
;

thang
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:04 am

Further, Bhikkhu K. Nyanananda had written this:
It was no coincidence that Venerable Ñāṇavimala, who began his monkship in Island Hermitage, breathed his last on the solitary isle of Parappuduwa nearby. Perhaps, by then, he had found that ‘island’ which no flood can overwhelm.

“Uṭṭhānen’ appamādena
saññamena damena ca
dīpaṁ kayirātha medhāvī
yam ogho nābhikīrati” [Dhp. v. 25]

By unflagging effort, by diligence,
by restraint and self-control,
let the truly wise man make for himself
an island which no flood can overwhelm.
"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"
;

TRobinson465
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by TRobinson465 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:43 am

  • Ñāṇavimala Thera was the last living disciple of Ñāṇatiloka Thera (1878-1957), who was himself the first Buddhist monk from Continental Europe.
Forgive me if im making a mistake, but werent there really early Greek Buddhist monks back when Buddhism was in its golden age or something?
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

thang
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:20 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:16 pm
He sounds amazing. Are there any collected teachings or dhamma talks from him?
His short teachings are published in the same site under the topic Bhante's Advice. First two paragraphs are quoted below.
The Buddha-dhamma (teaching of the Awakened One) is different to the Hindu system which builds up a world of happiness and bliss. Dhamma points to that which is dukkha (inherent suffering of existence). One has to be independent of all externals in following the dhamma. One’s happiness is not in high meditation states as these can just be a further object of clinging and also disappointment. One’s happiness is in following dhamma, the knowledge that each day one has not given in to one’s desires and aversions and one in keeping one’s mind pure. One has to learn not to delight in anything because all experiences last but a moment and can’t be kept.

There is a danger in a well-kept arañña (forest monastery). One delights in having a nice kuṭi, (monk’s hut) seclusion and certain foods. Then there is aversion when these conditions fall away. Monks in the Buddha’s time lived in the forest, dependent on piṇḍapāta (alms round). They had illnesses to contend with, just as we do, but learned to accept whatever arose. We have to develop detachment no matter what the externals are. All externals are conditioned and forever changing. One depends on one’s past kamma (actions). We have to be careful to take care of our body, but we should not store up conditions for a new one. It will be sick, decay and die just as this one does.
"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: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:35 am

thang wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:20 am
His short teachings are published in the same site under the topic Bhante's Advice. First two paragraphs are quoted below.
The Buddha-dhamma (teaching of the Awakened One) is different to the Hindu system which builds up a world of happiness and bliss. Dhamma points to that which is dukkha (inherent suffering of existence). One has to be independent of all externals in following the dhamma. One’s happiness is not in high meditation states as these can just be a further object of clinging and also disappointment. One’s happiness is in following dhamma, the knowledge that each day one has not given in to one’s desires and aversions and one in keeping one’s mind pure. One has to learn not to delight in anything because all experiences last but a moment and can’t be kept.

There is a danger in a well-kept arañña (forest monastery). One delights in having a nice kuṭi, (monk’s hut) seclusion and certain foods. Then there is aversion when these conditions fall away. Monks in the Buddha’s time lived in the forest, dependent on piṇḍapāta (alms round). They had illnesses to contend with, just as we do, but learned to accept whatever arose. We have to develop detachment no matter what the externals are. All externals are conditioned and forever changing. One depends on one’s past kamma (actions). We have to be careful to take care of our body, but we should not store up conditions for a new one. It will be sick, decay and die just as this one does.
Many thanks, thang. This is excellent material. :anjali:

thang
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:14 am

Bhante's Advice
Learn to live in the present. Making plans troubles the mind. Live with whatever arises. Turn away from everything. Develop nibbidā (dispassion) from day to day – we have to develop this from the beginning – to learn to delight in solitude – if one is to die alone, one has to learn to live alone. Study, stay in a suitable place under a teacher. Do not break vinaya (code of monastic discipline) for whatever reason. Don’t make arrangements with dāyakas (supporters). One doesn’t even have to talk with them. One just has to concentrate on becoming a puññakkhettaṁ (field of merit). Communications, letters, etc. are just a further bond and do not help to free one. Simplify one’s possessions so that they are no weight on the mind. There is less trouble for vinaya practice if one has only three robes, no shoes and does not accept invitations, etc.

Happiness comes from following the dhamma. Learn to see defilements as impermanent, not yours, and they won’t be so troublesome. If one can’t do bhāvanā (meditation) as one would wish, then just accept it – that is the way things are. One has to be independent of everything external to oneself. In the first five years, learn to accept whatever conditions prevail – see to one’s duties between teacher and pupil properly. If one is training properly, one should be able to be independent of the teacher after those five years. There is a danger in solitude wrongly grasped, if one is unhappy or happy to receive visitors, or if one is unhappy or happy not to receive visitors, learn to see that all these mental states as dukkha.
"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"
;

thang
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Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:37 pm

Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:08 pm

The bhikkhu (monk) should just look to the present. One has broken with one’s past, family and friends. Why renew old fetters or take on new ones? Don’t go back to what one has renounced already. Thoughts about the future, expectations, ‘what will I experience?’ etc. are all motivated by unwholesomeness, by craving. One should just aim to have a pleasant state of mind in the present, without greed, hatred or delusion. This can only condition pleasant states in the future. One can do no more than that.
"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"
;

2600htz
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Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by 2600htz » Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:50 am

Hello:

Thats one bold utterance coming from Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu K. Ñāṇananda :).
But he sounds interesting.

Regards.

thang
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:37 pm

Re: Bhante Ñāṇavimala : the Mahā Kassapa of this age

Post by thang » Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:45 am

A bhikkhu should not have a mind of depression, dejection or disappointment.
A bhikkhu should not have a mind of depression, dejection or disappointment. Having learnt Buddha’s dhamma, we have to apply it. Having come to this state, being a bhikkhu, don’t go back to the past. If you are in a suitable place with a teacher, seclusion, etc., don’t go craving to be anywhere else or do anything else. Study the dhamma and follow it. Nothing else will give happiness. One has to give up the comforts of food and lodgings. This is helpful to see dukkha. Don’t seek happiness connected with this world. Seek happiness of the mind secluded from defilements.
It is important to have sukha (happiness) in this bhikkhu life.
It is important to have sukha (happiness) in this bhikkhu life. Without sukha one cannot develop bhāvanā. Count one’s blessings, that one has come so far to the bhikkhu state and has the opportunity to get on in the dhamma. Feel happy even when one sits down to read the dhamma in Pāli.
"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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