Controversial Theravada traditions?

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davcuts
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Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by davcuts » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:34 pm

I don't mean to break any rules of the TOS, so if I am moderators please close this thread. I am considering attending Theravada centers in my area. Are there any Theravada traditions that might be considered controversial, or even cults? I made this mistake with Tibetan Buddhism, and I don't want to get caught up with any tradition that might cause more harm than good.

Take care,
David

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mikenz66
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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:41 pm

Hi David,

There is Dhammakaya
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=339" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Of course some would argue that certain Theravada teachers don't teach the "right" way, and that some of the lay teachers are not "Buddhist" enough, but that's not a "cult" thing, it's something you'd have to decide for yourself.

Metta
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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:54 pm

Greetings Davcuts,

Generally I think it's difficult for anyone interested in establishing a cult to do it under the guise of Theravada Buddhism, because Theravada takes the Pali Canon as the primary source of authority. Buddhavacana (Buddha word) comes to the Theravada tradition via the Pali Canon, not via a Guru.

I could elaborate more but it's probably going to be off-topic.

Metta,
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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by DNS » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:54 pm

Fortunately, we don't have much of a problem there in Theravada as perhaps some of the other traditions do. One reason might be that we have no pope, no vatican, so no one to 'rebel' against and form a splinter group.

Another reason might be that most cult leaders are not too keen on celibacy, a required precept for bhikkhus and bhikkhinis.

Element

Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by Element » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:29 pm

davcuts wrote:Are there any Theravada traditions that might be considered controversial, or even cults?
I heard for the first time last week of a tradition called Mahavihara from Sri Lanka, sometimes called 'Classical Theravadin', other times called 'Abidhamma & Commentaries'. I consider it controversial. :)
Last edited by retrofuturist on Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Mahavihara is not a cult.

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:31 pm

I don't think there are any really besides the one mentioned, but that is a matter of opinion?
There is one group which I find suspect, but have no interest in disclosing the name publicly as I have no direct experiance of them outside of Internet forums and don't know if the place is like that there instead of internet group.

there will always be people who abuse the priviledge and it is just a case of being mindful of what the signs are.
have a look on Buddhist channel and do a search there as I know they have some info about a 2 or 3.
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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by Avery » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:27 pm

Manapa wrote:I don't think there are any really besides the one mentioned, but that is a matter of opinion?
I wanted to bump this thread to mention Santi Asoke in Thailand, whose followers are "lay monks" and adopt celibacy, vegetarianism, asceticism, and liberation dharma.

It sounds nice on the surface but it sort of creates a new class of Buddhist, between laity and monk, and I'm not sure if everyone would agree with that.

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by Dhammanando » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:48 am

Hi Avery,
Avery wrote:It sounds nice on the surface but it sort of creates a new class of Buddhist, between laity and monk, and I'm not sure if everyone would agree with that.
I wouldn't call it new (except for the vegetarianism). In the Mahavacchagotta Sutta (MN. 73) the Buddha's householder followers are divided into (1) "male and female lay followers, clothed in white, enjoying sensual pleasures" and (2) "male and female lay followers, clothed in white, leading lives of celibacy."

I think the most one could say is that it's unusual for monks to promote the brahmacariya among householders to the extent that the Santi Asoke monks do.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by mudra » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:10 am

Bhante,
As non-celibate and celibate upasakas and upasikas are certainly not exclusive to Theravada, is the "clothed-in-white" a sub category?

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:38 am

Hi Mudra,
mudra wrote:As non-celibate and celibate upasakas and upasikas are certainly not exclusive to Theravada, is the "clothed-in-white" a sub category?
No. "Clothed in white" (odātavasana) is an idiom that means being dressed in householders' clothes.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by green » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:43 am

davcuts wrote:I don't mean to break any rules of the TOS, so if I am moderators please close this thread. I am considering attending Theravada centers in my area. Are there any Theravada traditions that might be considered controversial, or even cults? I made this mistake with Tibetan Buddhism, and I don't want to get caught up with any tradition that might cause more harm than good.

Take care,
David
First of all, please get your own copy of "In the Buddha's Words" by Bhikku Bodhi or get a copy of the Tipitika - they are available in some well stocked libraries.

Use your own mind first and use it to study the dhamma yourself, then you can be an educated person who won't be fooled by foolish interpretations of suttas by anyone else.

Discuss it with others to get wrong ideas out-- use these forums. Slowly your understanding of the dhamma will grow. Don't fall for the "you need a guru thing."

You need to study and do your homework and become an "A" student in Buddhism...then listen to teachings...you will be able to discern real teachers from false ones and decide which school, if any, is good for you.

Good luck, and trust me, an investment of time and money in learning the Dhamma is worth more than anything else in the world. :anjali:

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by clw_uk » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:30 am

excellent advice from green there

you can also get the pali canon suttas at amazon.com if you want to buy them and of course there is this site which has a great wealth of information http://www.accesstoinsight.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Here are some websites that may help you find a local Theravada centre or monastery

http://www.forestsangha.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.buddhanet.info/wbd/country.php?country_id=50" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;





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Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by SeerObserver » Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:25 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Generally I think it's difficult for anyone interested in establishing a cult to do it under the guise of Theravada Buddhism, because Theravada takes the Pali Canon as the primary source of authority. Buddhavacana (Buddha word) comes to the Theravada tradition via the Pali Canon, not via a Guru.
Well even within Theravada there are different branches that have some differing interpretations of the Tripitaka and what have you.
TheDhamma wrote:Fortunately, we don't have much of a problem there in Theravada as perhaps some of the other traditions do. One reason might be that we have no pope, no vatican, so no one to 'rebel' against and form a splinter group.

Another reason might be that most cult leaders are not too keen on celibacy, a required precept for bhikkhus and bhikkhinis.
Well there's no figure that oversees all of Theravada, but within Thai and Cambodian Buddhism there is the Supreme Patriarch, or Somdech Phra Sangharaja.

With these two things in mind...
  • ~ How is there not talk of heresy or labeling of groups as heretics for their different interpretations (and therefor practices?) ? Or is there?
    ~ How is it that this does not cause the same types of schisms that may be found elsewhere? Or does it?
It seems that the former does occur. I have seen at least two groups named here in this thread that it seems some people label as heretics. There could even be a third in this very thread, but Manapa declined to mention a name. Large congregations (Buddhist and Christian) and their praises/criticisms are a topic I'm interested in.

From what I know of the controversy surrounding the two groups mentioned, some seems to be politically driven. Both have or have had attendees that are of high-profile. That being the case, a particular temple becomes "guilty by association" and these groups may face backlash from their attendees' opponents. Criticizing a temple would seem to be a good way to discredit an opponent, especially one in the political realm. In addition, while neither is recently founded, they both have experienced recent growth in reach and size, arguably exponential relative to previous growth and expansion.

It appears universal across faiths that large congregations are on the receiving end of much criticism, the easiest of which is vast finances. Naturally, that's the easiest thing to point out in that many people feel that a religious institutions should not have much assets, etc.

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gavesako
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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by gavesako » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:39 pm

Some good points here from SeerObserver. Of course there are political issues involved here, and it is not really so much the "unorthodox" teachings (not in line with Pali Canon) of groups like Dhammakaya or Santi Asok which give them the label "sect", but rather the way they are organized and their attempt to gain independence from the official ecclesiastical structures of the Thai Sangha (which are pretty similar to Catholic church, broadly speaking). There is a good book about New Buddhist Movements in Thailand which can be downloaded here:
http://buddhisttorrents.blogspot.com/20 ... -rory.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Controversial Theravada traditions?

Post by jcsuperstar » Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:43 pm

santi asok is no longer theravada if i remember correctly, they dont wear the same robes, and have no theras to ordain theravada monks.

but theravada as a whole is more concered with orthopraxy than orthodoxy. as long as the monks keep the vinaya it is hard to expell them. say what you want about dhammakaya, but their monks seem to keep the vinaya well, now temple orgaziners may ask for large donations andtheir meditation style may be different from other temples but whats that got to do with them being orthadox theravada monks?

i was talking to one of my thai monk friends about dhammakaya and he had nothing but good things to say about them, he saw the critisisms and understood them, but he said that dhammakaya was probably the future of thai buddhism, when a young thai person sees the old temples he doesnt feel drawn to them, but when he sees the modern clean well run dhammakaya temples he can relate to them, he can feel at home there. he thinks the other temples definately have stuff to learn from dhammakaya, as they seem to know how to draw a crowd and manage a temple well. they seem to easily be able to muster large numbers and also get people interested in meditation. so the question i think this monk is urging us to ask is not what is wrong with dhammakaya but what can we learn from dhammakaya, as theyre obviously doing something right.
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