Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
SarathW
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Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby SarathW » Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:54 am

Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

This is not a new topic but we have seen a details discussion in this forum about "Broken Buddha" ,few years back.
I just watched the following video and a Buddhist monk giving a high five to a woman.
This particular monk handle money, drive cars appears to be very outgoing.
I have no doubt, this monk is a virtues monk, but I always worried this is the appropriate behavior for a monk.
Sometimes I watch Ajahan Braham's videos and his in appropriate jokes and concerned whether he will caught up with some sort of a scandal one day.
Another concern for me is if the abbots behave like this what their students will do.
If this happen that could be a real backlash to the propagation of Buddhism in the West.
Perhaps I may be from the old school, but I wish to know what others opinion about this.


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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:23 pm

High five is not so bad, although it might be technically a minor offense. There have been much worse things, for example monks hugging women, monks going to a lay woman's home for lunch dana with no one else present.

Some things should adapt to modern culture, for example a nod back when bowed too, but hugs might be going too far. Many western Buddhists give deep bows to monks and then when the monk doesn't even respond back with a small nod, they get offended. In Western culture that is like stretching your hand out to shake someone's hand and they refuse to give their hand. I think I heard the monks in the UK do nod back, which I think is a good adaptation.

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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby santa100 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:38 pm

Ah, Bhante's quick glance at the woman's boobs around 50th second. It'd be a good idea to brief that girl some proper Buddhist etiquette and dress code before doing the interview. Otherwise, sure, Buddhist monks everywhere, not only in the west, could be in real danger....due to their own lay supporters. Also not sure if you notice in the background, the little standing Buddha statue tuck underneath the table where the elephant-headed God Ganesha placed at the center..

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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby ganegaar » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:10 pm

Do you see what I see in this?
Please concentrate a little on to the background, that is not a Buddha statue there, that is Lord Ganesh a hindu god.
And take a look at the pedestal, and all stuff in the background, what are they? How do they fit the topic they discuss?

It looks a little strange to me, almost kind of a psyop to discredit something? to ignite some debate? what is this?
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:14 pm

There is no rule against high 5s or shaking a woman's hand, restrictions like in Thailand where people can't touch you are cultural rather than vinaya as far as I've seen. In Thailand a woman has to use a cloth to give you something, not so in Sri Lanka.

I do not hesitate to shake a person's hand if they put it out, this is how things are done in the West. Nor will I ever go to Thailand and treat their cultural rules in a flippant manner. When people bow it is traditional to say sukhi hotu, and I usually smile, I've also become more comfortable using anjali with people, although if they are traditional Buddhists I play the role for them so they are not uncomfortable.

As for the glance and the woman's dress, For traditional Buddhists they will always dress "appropriately" around monastics, but people dress how they dress in the West and a monastic just has to deal with their own desires and remember their domain like the sutta simile of the hawk, this is especially true when out and about in society. In the monastery for a retreat you can request certain dress, but that does not guarantee people will follow it, and you cannot try to force the world to fit to what you want or expect it to be.

I don't initiate hugs, even family members and close friends, although if they hug me I don't push them away. In my experience westerners know not to get too touchy feely with monastics. I did have one woman at the end of a group interview become so overwhelmed with emotion from my responses to her that she, with much surprise on my part, hugged me. I let her do it and then she disengaged when she was ready, I wasn't about to treat her like some diseased zombie just touched me.. I fully agree with the idea of breaking some minor rules out of compassion for people, especially if they are not traditional Buddhists.

Handling money is a pretty cut and dry rule, but driving a car not so much, that depends on your interpretation of the rule via the great standards, regardless I've seen many monastics handle money and hear its pretty rife in places like Thailand, and I've seen plenty of monastics drive, especially in the west where it's not easy to have random laity waiting around at the whim of a monastic to drive them places. I have had to drive(and cook) as a monastic once or twice at periods when we had no laity around to do it, although as a general policy driving and cooking is more the domain of village monastics then forest monastics, and I do neither if we have laity to do it.

monastics have to live these rules and apply them to the large variety of experiences they have moving through society, it's not always easy and sometimes you have to make your best judgment of the situation and all its ramifications. I know a lot of people tend to forget this, but monastics are fallible human beings like everyone else, and the reason why the majority of these rules are fixed by confession allows for people to learn and grow, or else there would only be a handful of "perfect" monks left in robes.

I also personally see no issues with Ajahn Brahm in terms of behavior and frankly I feel western Buddhism needs more monks like him. I don't think there is some crisis of western monks at all, I am frankly all for bringing Buddhism back in line more with the Dhamma and vinaya, and not so wrapped up with how it's been done in Buddhist countries, which as you've seen if you read broken Buddha, have their own issues.

In closing I feel it's important for the laity to have at least a passing understanding from reading the Pātimokkha and even some of the stories and extrapolations in the vibhanga, so they can really know if a monastic is behaving badly and to what degree (like for instance the actual intentions and details around the rule of a monastic not touching a woman), I wouldn't go with just what a monk tells you, because it's been my short experience that many monastics don't deeply know the rules they live by.

I don't claim to be a vinaya scholar, I'm just a new monk, but in the past four years I've read through the Pātimokkha at least 7 times and I'm on my 3rd read through of the vibhanga(I also read one rule a day) , and I've even read through large swaths of the khandakas, where the majority of the minor rules reside, like not using a human skull as a bowl. It's rather fun and fascinating stuff to me, like a mix of Jerry springer, history, and cultural anthropology, and plus I can feel confident in knowing the rules myself, instead of relying on another monastic who may or may not have a firm grasp of the vinaya. Even if you lived with a very respected senior monastic, like I do, they will not always be around youmost of the time as some kind of walking wikipedia to ask about rules.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby R1111 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:16 pm

I wonder why the Blue Lotus Temple runs an online shop. That certainly doesnt seem appropriate to me. They also dont clearly emphasize what tradition they follow on their website or what meditation they teach or upload any Dhammatalks, yet they are selling compact discs with chants. Check it out http://www.bluelotustemple.org/shop/
they also have a youtube page with many ceremonial videos but no Dhamma talks.

Skeptical to this organization. I may be wrong tho, maybe they are good Buddhists then i apologize!
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby SarathW » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:55 pm

I wonder why the Blue Lotus Temple runs an online shop.

If online shop is run by the laity for fund raising purpose there is no problem. However they should sell appropriate items.
There is a danger the temple becoming a super market though.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby SarathW » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:02 pm

Thank you Bhante for participation in this controversial discussion.
:bow:

There is no rule against high 5s or shaking a woman's hand


I think a temple should display appropriate signs to the behavior of lay people such as switching off mobile phones.


Handling money is a pretty cut and dry rule, but driving a car not so much


So what is the difference between an eight preceptor and a ten preceptor (monk)
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:27 am

SarathW wrote:Thank you Bhante for participation in this controversial discussion.
:bow:

There is no rule against high 5s or shaking a woman's hand


I think a temple should display appropriate signs to the behavior of lay people such as switching off mobile phones.



Here at Bhavana as part of the orientation for each retreat we explain etiquette in contact with monastics, as I assume most places like us do to one degree or another. I've found that most people tend to be very anxious and some even scared when they meet monastics for the first time as they genuinely want to be respectful and don't want to offend or do something wrong. I remember this phase in my own early development well, until I came to know the monks and became more comfortable with them as I lost the fear.


Handling money is a pretty cut and dry rule, but driving a car not so much

So what is the difference between an eight preceptor and a ten preceptor (monk)


Novice monastics(10 preceptors) take the precept to not handle money, that is the only difference from an 8 preceptor essentially, other then wearing robes.

10. Jātarūpa-rajata-patiggahanā veramanī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi
[I undertake the training rule to abstain from accepting gold and silver.]

also as an aside, I'd really like to hear the views of the other monastics who frequent this channel. Their wisdom and experience are a major reason I've always been a part of this little corner of Dhammawheel and I am always willing to accept correction or admonishment for comments I make.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby SarathW » Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:09 am

Novice monastics(10 preceptors) take the precept to not handle money, that is the only difference from an 8 preceptor essentially, other then wearing robes.

Isn't monks brake the precepts when they handle money?
How do they get around this?
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:25 pm

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:There is no rule against high 5s or shaking a woman's hand, restrictions like in Thailand where people can't touch you are cultural rather than vinaya as far as I've seen. In Thailand a woman has to use a cloth to give you something, not so in Sri Lanka.

I think it's the monk who has to use a cloth to receive something from a woman, not the woman who has to use a cloth to offer something.

In receiving alms from anyone, one should not receive it directly with one's hand, but into the almsbowl, or by touching a plate or tray on which the offering is placed. In Burma too, no receiving cloth is used. Monks receive offerings by touching the plate or holding the table, and there is no need to touch a woman's hand. If the table is small enough for a man of medium stature to lift on his own, it is allowable to receive the entire table at once with the food already set on it. If the table is larger, each dish of almsfood should be received separately.

It's worth quoting the whole section from Ajahn Thanissaro's Buddhist Monastic Code from the Sanghadisesa precept regarding touching a woman lustfully. There is an offence of wrong-doing for touching a woman if the intention is affection. In the case of making contact with a high five or shaking the hand, it's not done for that reason, but I don't think it is appropriate for a monk to do either with a woman.

If possible, I explain that the customary way of greeting among Buddhists is by way of making Añjali. However, it's not always practical to do so.
Buddhist Monastic Code wrote:Intention. The Vinītavatthu contains cases of a bhikkhu who caresses his mother out of filial affection, one who caresses his daughter out of fatherly affection, and one who caresses his sister out of brotherly affection. In each case the penalty is a Dukkaṭa.

The Vibhaṅga does not discuss the issue of bhikkhus who intentionally make active contact with women for purposes other than lust or affection — e.g., helping a woman who has fallen into a raging river — but the Commentary does. It introduces the concept of anāmasa, things carrying a Dukkaṭa penalty when touched; women and clothing belonging to a woman top the list.

It then goes into great detail to tell how one should behave when one’s mother falls into a raging river. Under no circumstances, it says, should one grab hold of her, although one may extend a rope, a board, etc., in her direction. If she happens to grab hold of her son the bhikkhu, he should not shake her off, but should simply let her hold on as he swims back to shore.

Where the Commentary gets the concepts of anāmasa is hard to say. Perhaps it came from the practices of the Brahmin caste, who are very careful not to touch certain things and people of certain lower castes. At any rate, there is no direct basis for it in the Canon.

Although the concept has received universal acceptance in Theravādin Communities, many highly‑respected Vinaya experts have made an exception right here, saying that there is nothing wrong in touching a woman when one’s action is based not on lust, but on a desire to save her from danger. Even if there is an offence in doing so, there are other places where Buddhaghosa recommends that one be willing to incur a minor penalty for the sake of compassion (e.g., digging a person out of a hole into which he has fallen), and the same principle surely holds here.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:31 pm

As well as the 10 precepts, the novices have to observe the 75 sekhiya rules regarding the use of the robes, almsbowl, etc., so they have a lot more rules to observe than an eight-precept anagārika.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby R1111 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:40 pm

SarathW wrote:
I wonder why the Blue Lotus Temple runs an online shop.

If online shop is run by the laity for fund raising purpose there is no problem. However they should sell appropriate items.
There is a danger the temple becoming a super market though.


Afaik they are selling stuff that is produced by monks, ie statues, chant cds, etc.

And i think that its highly problematic, if it was lay person running uaffiliated website and raising funds for donations that is ok. But when merchendise is produced by the monastery, advertised on a monastery website and funds are received by affiliated lay person then i think its very weird, its like they have a livelyhood now. I dont know how monastics look at it nowdays and if that is something worth adressing or being concerned about.
My concern is that some people may be turned off by seeing some sort of bussiness or trade for gain directly associated with the Dhamma and the Sangha.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Meggo » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:47 pm

santa100 wrote:Ah, Bhante's quick glance at the woman's boobs around 50th second. It'd be a good idea to brief that girl some proper Buddhist etiquette and dress code before doing the interview...


So because of the horniness of men, girls should be "briefed" how dress properly? Maybe somebody should brief monks how to meditate properly so they can remove their fetters, including their sexual desires. Then girls can run around naked if they want, wouldn't make a difference.

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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:20 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:There is no rule against high 5s or shaking a woman's hand, restrictions like in Thailand where people can't touch you are cultural rather than vinaya as far as I've seen. In Thailand a woman has to use a cloth to give you something, not so in Sri Lanka.

I think it's the monk who has to use a cloth to receive something from a woman, not the woman who has to use a cloth to offer something.

In receiving alms from anyone, one should not receive it directly with one's hand, but into the almsbowl, or by touching a plate or tray on which the offering is placed. In Burma too, no receiving cloth is used. Monks receive offerings by touching the plate or holding the table, and there is no need to touch a woman's hand. If the table is small enough for a man of medium stature to lift on his own, it is allowable to receive the entire table at once with the food already set on it. If the table is larger, each dish of almsfood should be received separately.

It's worth quoting the whole section from Ajahn Thanissaro's Buddhist Monastic Code from the Sanghadisesa precept regarding touching a woman lustfully. There is an offence of wrong-doing for touching a woman if the intention is affection. In the case of making contact with a high five or shaking the hand, it's not done for that reason, but I don't think it is appropriate for a monk to do either with a woman.

If possible, I explain that the customary way of greeting among Buddhists is by way of making Añjali. However, it's not always practical to do so.
Buddhist Monastic Code wrote:Intention. The Vinītavatthu contains cases of a bhikkhu who caresses his mother out of filial affection, one who caresses his daughter out of fatherly affection, and one who caresses his sister out of brotherly affection. In each case the penalty is a Dukkaṭa.

The Vibhaṅga does not discuss the issue of bhikkhus who intentionally make active contact with women for purposes other than lust or affection — e.g., helping a woman who has fallen into a raging river — but the Commentary does. It introduces the concept of anāmasa, things carrying a Dukkaṭa penalty when touched; women and clothing belonging to a woman top the list.

It then goes into great detail to tell how one should behave when one’s mother falls into a raging river. Under no circumstances, it says, should one grab hold of her, although one may extend a rope, a board, etc., in her direction. If she happens to grab hold of her son the bhikkhu, he should not shake her off, but should simply let her hold on as he swims back to shore.

Where the Commentary gets the concepts of anāmasa is hard to say. Perhaps it came from the practices of the Brahmin caste, who are very careful not to touch certain things and people of certain lower castes. At any rate, there is no direct basis for it in the Canon.

Although the concept has received universal acceptance in Theravādin Communities, many highly‑respected Vinaya experts have made an exception right here, saying that there is nothing wrong in touching a woman when one’s action is based not on lust, but on a desire to save her from danger. Even if there is an offence in doing so, there are other places where Buddhaghosa recommends that one be willing to incur a minor penalty for the sake of compassion (e.g., digging a person out of a hole into which he has fallen), and the same principle surely holds here.


--

Thank you for your response Bhante, or is Ajahn more appropriate? I find the BMC to be a help in my quest to learn the Vinaya, especially Ajahn's covering of the variety of commentarial sources, because I would not know these anywhere else, and while I don't strongly feel the need to follow what the commentaries say, especially since as pointed out in the BMC many times, they often contradict the Vinaya and themselves in general, I find its important for me to know this so when I do go to various monasteries that follow the rules differently I want to make sure I am following their rules to the best of my understanding.

One example is the debate between eating cheese in the afternoon, common and accepted in many Thai places, but not allowable in others and I would need to confess pc 37 here.

The cloth example is another one of those, as I have no experience with it, or whether its commentarial or cultural, only vague understanding from other monks and the internet, so I appreciate the clarification. I am well aware of the various permutations related to SD2, including the dukkata for filial affection,I find this particular rule to be quite interesting because it seems quite out of place from the rest of the rule permutations and I find the "don't touch your mother even if she is drowning" commentary to be pretty ridiculous, so I side more on the breaking a rule for compassion side. If in the once or twice a year I see my mother she wants to hug her son, i'm not going to tell her no and push her away, I'll confess the dukkata, even though I was not initiating it. That being said they know not to try and hug me in public, I understand image and dignity concerns.

I also accept the food here as the most junior monastic, and as you say in that regard there is no need to touch a womans hand, however it is quite common for them to bring the fruit or deserts directly to us in small white bowls while we sit with our alms bowls, and in that case when receiving I do make an effort to touch the white bowl only and avoid physical contact, more so to avoid any uncomfortableness of the person then fear of breaking a rule.

About a year ago I was in the hospital as a donor and the pre-admittance staff was doing the initial checks and tests, it turned out that one nurse was a Thai woman and when she saw me she backed up and expressed concern over touching me to do her job, which was drawing blood if I remember. I explained to her that it was fine for her to do what she needed to do and gave her reasons which finally made her comfortable enough to continue with her job.

As well as the 10 precepts, the novices have to observe the 75 sekhiya rules regarding the use of the robes, almsbowl, etc., so they have a lot more rules to observe than an eight-precept anagārika.


Bhante do you know if this in the Vinaya, or tradition? Because I was not told I had to observe the 75 rules as a samanera,which surprised me because I had assumed it was part of being a novice, since then I've heard from other monastics that it is not offical but some traditions use them for novices and some do not. I decided to do my best to follow the 75 as a novice anyways because I viewed it as training for my future life as a Bhikkhu.

once again thank you for the dialogue, it's rare I get to speak to a Bhikkhu with so many Vassa( I was a year old when you ordained), other then my preceptor, and I appreciate your input, as I always have in my years coming here as a lay person.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby santa100 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:25 pm

Meggo wrote:So because of the horniness of men, girls should be "briefed" how dress properly? Maybe somebody should brief monks how to meditate properly so they can remove their fetters, including their sexual desires. Then girls can run around naked if they want, wouldn't make a difference.

I don't know what country you're living in, but in the US, running around on the street completely naked is against Public Decency Laws including Indecent exposure and Public lewdness. So no, girls or guys "can't just run around naked if they want" here in the States. And this is just secular law, we haven't even talked about Dhamma law just yet. If a woman wants to do an interview with a Buddhist monk, it is expected that she should be aware of certain etiquette and dress code out of a sense of propriety and respect not only for the monk being interviewed, but also for the Triple Gem, the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. With that said, obviously it's also expected that a monk should do whatever it takes to maintain the honor not only for himself but also for the Triple Gem. He should do his best to control where, what, when, and how he looks at anything.

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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:38 pm

santa100 wrote:
Meggo wrote:So because of the horniness of men, girls should be "briefed" how dress properly? Maybe somebody should brief monks how to meditate properly so they can remove their fetters, including their sexual desires. Then girls can run around naked if they want, wouldn't make a difference.

I don't know what country you're living in, but in the US, running around on the street completely naked is against Public Decency Laws including Indecent exposure and Public lewdness. So no, girls "can't just run around naked if they want" here in the States. And this is just secular law, we haven't even talked about Dhamma law just yet. If a woman wants to do an interview with a Buddhist monk, it is expected that she should be aware of certain etiquette and dress code out of a sense of propriety and respect not only for the monk being interviewed, but also for the Triple Gem, the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. With that said, obviously it's also expected that a monk should do whatever it takes to maintain the honor not only for himself but also for the Triple Gem. He should do his best to control where, what, when, and how he looks at anything.



When the woman in the video dressed in the morning, do you really think she intentionally said " oh yeah Im going to wear this dress to disrespect the triple gem?

According to the Sekhiya rules of ancient times, I can't teach the Dhamma if anyone wears any head coverings, crosses their legs and positions their arms in certain ways, who is wearing shoes, etc. Some compassion and consideration is important with these kinds of things, I could only imagine being invited somewhere to teach meditation and come in like a drill instructor saying they need to do this and that, take off your hat, cover that skimpy dress, don't put your arms that way, take off those shoes, or else I'm not teaching you people anything!

I understand the purpose behind the rules, and in general agree with the spirit of them, if not the exact letter, but a monk like Bhante Sujatha, who has resided in the heartland of America for 20+ years,mostly outside of official typical monasteries(Blue Lotus is not a monastery, but an old UU church), is teaching westerners and going to places other then temples to teach meditation/dhamma. To expect all of those people to be as knowledgeable as a cultural or long term Buddhist, or many secular places to become monasteries or temples for a dhamma talk, is a bit much.
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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby santa100 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 6:54 pm

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:When the woman in the video dressed in the morning, do you really think she intentionally said " oh yeah Im going to wear this dress to disrespect the triple gem?

Bhante, you already knew the answer so why even asked? You probably know Dependent Origination better than all of us run-of-the-mills here, and so whether intentional or not, if a pretty girl shows up in skimpy clothing interviewing an un-enlightened monk, all conditions and outcomes should be pretty obvious. All my answers specifically address the topic of the OP and my point should be pretty clear by now: efforts to maintain the long term welfare of the Dhamma and the Sangha must go both ways, from both monastics and lay community. Otherwise, the day of Buddhist monastic Sangha composed entirely of "yellow-necks" will be very near. And you'd also already knew this better than anyone else.
Meaning of yellow-necks wrote:MA: "Members of the clan"/gotrabhuno are those who are monks merely in name. They will go about with a piece of yellow cloth tied around their necks or arms, and will support their wives and children by engaging in trade and farming, etc.

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Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby Bhikkhu_Jayasara » Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:26 pm

You probably know Dependent Origination better than all of us run-of-the-mills here


I'm not a member of the Ariya Sangha just yet, so i'm still quite "run of the mill" with everyone else my friend, and I could be completely and utterly wrong in what I'm saying, who knows.

efforts to maintain the long term welfare of the Dhamma and the Sangha must go both ways, from both monastics and lay community. Otherwise, the day of Buddhist monastic Sangha composed entirely of [url=http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/Texts-and-Translations/Short-Pieces/Dakkhinavibhangasuttam.htm]"yellow-necks"


What exactly does "the longterm welfare of the Dhamma and Sangha" mean though? You could say that Bhikkhunis being re-ordained hurts the dhamma/sangha, you could say that Zen "priests" and other quasi monastics hurt the sangha/dhamma. As the Sangha & Dhamma has come to the west it will flow and adapt like it has since the earliest days. I think it's important to worry less about the outward form, and more about the inner core.

Jon Peacock, a well known and respected secular Buddhist scholar and former monastic, said something to the effect of that monastics will not play a major role in Buddhism in the west. To this I honestly agree, you will not see the pedestal putting, deifying and unquestioning treatment of monastics in the West that you see in traditional Buddhist countries. secular and less monastic heavy forms of Buddhism are the most popular in the west, with the exception of Tibetan, but they have Shambala monks who play baseball, monks who go on roller coasters and Karmapas who play video games.. its a different style then we in Theravada are use to or want.

So I feel that change and adoption to a more western mode for some things is fine, I do however agree with Ajahn Chah's statement about not dumbing down the Dhamma or changing it for westerners, as it hurts the dhamma and doesn't help them. In the teaching I've done so far I ground my talks in the suttas, with some personal experience added in and worked in a way that allows the wonderful teachings of the Buddha from the Nikayas to be easily understood by the average western person, who is not interested in learning Pali and want to understand how you can apply these teachings to their daily lives.

I've met plenty of western born monks, but I hesitate to call them "western" monks, because monasticism is still caught up with identity from the "old country". It appears to me that it's as Important to be "Thai monk" in the "Thai forest tradition" and speak/act Thai, following traditions just because "well thats how they do it in Thailand",same for a "Sri Lankan" or a "Burmese" monk. There really is no true "western monasticism" just yet, but I see it starting to grow with a handful of different monks here and there, and thanks to my preceptor, I am not tied to any specific countries type of monasticism, I can learn from them all and take what works, and explore what it really means in this new age to be a "Western Monk".

Buddhism and Monasticism in the west are still in their infancy, and practiced by so little a percentage of the population, that only time will tell, but I think striking a good balance that allows for better integration in the west, without gutting the core, is important.
Last edited by Bhikkhu_Jayasara on Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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santa100
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Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: Are Buddhism and Buddhist monks in the west in real danger?

Postby santa100 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:38 pm

Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:I'm not a member of the Ariya Sangha just yet, so i'm still quite "run of the mill" with everyone else my friend, and I could be completely and utterly wrong in what I'm saying, who knows.

Thanks Bhante for the honest assessment. Just so I will also be honest with you as Kalyana-mittas.
Bhikkhu_Jayasara wrote:What exactly does "the longterm welfare of the Dhamma and Sangha" mean though? You could say that Bhikkhunis being re-ordained hurts the dhamma/sangha, you could say that Zen "priests" and other quasi monastics hurt the sangha/dhamma. As the Sangha & Dhamma has come to the west it will flow and adapt like it has since the earliest days. I think it's important to worry less about the outward form, and more about the inner core.

To put the positions of those nuns and bhikkhus exactly where they are. In your specific examples, the Bhikkhunis whether newly ordained or re-ordained must be carried out exactly as specified in the Didsciplines. The Zen "priests" and other quasi-monastics must be treated exactly as they should be treated, as knowledgeable lay teachers, not monks and nuns. Otherwise, these specific examples you just gave are real inner core changes, not "outward form" changes as you've thought.

As Buddhists, especially Theravadins, you and I should know more than anyone else that we'd listen to the teacher but do not obey them. We only obey the Teaching and the Discipline. So while we respect the idea of respected teachers, even the words of the world's most renowned Buddhist master will carry no weight if it's not in accordance with the Discourses and the Discipline.


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