What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
SarathW
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What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:15 am

What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?
For instance are monks such as Thannisaro a Theravada monk considering his controversial teaching such as Nibbana is another type of consciousness?
What about monks such as Walasmulle Abhya who gives a different interpretation to teaching Anicca and Anatta?
Does anyone accept Tipitaka as the teaching of Buddha a Theravada monk?
Then what about monks such as Ajahn Braham who does not consider Abhidhamma is valid or genuine?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama » Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:43 am

MN 5 is good yardstick as to who does and who does not eat a country's almsfood in vain.

http://www.yellowrobe.com/component/con ... ishes.html

Personally, if I see someone trying to promote alien views as Dhamma I just don't give them my attention or dana.

This yardstick, however, begs the questions if I have enough discernment to know the dhamma and therefore is not universal.

This article is pretty conclusive as to how a bikkhu should behave: https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors ... .html#appb

A universal way to deduce if someone is NOT a bikkhu is if they commit a defeatable offense: https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors ... paaraajika

Buddhism, just like every other religion, is filled with sexual predators and the parajika should apply to those so-called gurus who lay with spiritual groupies as a form of stress relief.
Last edited by Manopubbangama on Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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SarathW
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:00 am

I can understand the difference between Mahayana and Theravada.
My question is on what basis a monk is Theravada.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:06 am

If you desire absolute confidence in ideological purity you won't find a complete agreement anywhere.

Just note who is promoting alien ideas such as: fascism (Evola), feminism (sujato), socialism (buddadhasa) and compare that to those who teach the dhamma without such alien ideas.

The Buddha gave us the charter of free inquiry.
Last edited by Manopubbangama on Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sam Vara
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:09 am

I would favour the most congenial approach, which is to accept that anyone who has accepted the going forth in any of the Theravadan lineages is a Theravadan monk. One is then free to say, of course, that one does not find their teaching accessible or acceptable. But it avoids disputes over whether labels are "correctly" applied and which criteria should be used to apply those labels. If a person thinks that (say) Ajahn Thanissaro is not Theravadan on the grounds that Thanissaro believes something different from them, then I am unlikely to convince them otherwise; and indeed even if I did, I wouldn't have gained any real benefit.

If it walks like a duck and it quacks, then it's a duck. But if you are looking for a particular sub-species of duck, then you are not helped by getting into disputes about mallards, pochards, and eider ducks.

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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:13 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:15 am
What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?
They are mainly focused on the Pali Canon?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

SarathW
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:32 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:09 am
I would favour the most congenial approach, which is to accept that anyone who has accepted the going forth in any of the Theravadan lineages is a Theravadan monk. One is then free to say, of course, that one does not find their teaching accessible or acceptable. But it avoids disputes over whether labels are "correctly" applied and which criteria should be used to apply those labels. If a person thinks that (say) Ajahn Thanissaro is not Theravadan on the grounds that Thanissaro believes something different from them, then I am unlikely to convince them otherwise; and indeed even if I did, I wouldn't have gained any real benefit.

If it walks like a duck and it quacks, then it's a duck. But if you are looking for a particular sub-species of duck, then you are not helped by getting into disputes about mallards, pochards, and eider ducks.
So according to this theory, there is no difference between Theravada and Mahayana?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:38 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:32 am
So according to this theory, there is no difference between Theravada and Mahayana?
"It's all one, man" :tongue:

But seriously, I would look at the monks approach to practice, and ask what it is based on. If it's based on the suttas, then "Theravada" is probably an appropriate classification.

Also bear in mind that "Theravada" and "Mahayana" are umbrella terms for a wide range of teachers, schools and methods. Loose classifications really.
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Volo
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Volo » Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:24 am

If he is 1) properly ordained (i.e. all requirements during his ordination were fulfilled, like: a place of ordination is valid according to Vinaya, required Pali sentences are recited required number of times in a required manner, preceptor and other monks are eligible to ordain, a candidate is valid, etc) and 2) after ordination he hasn't committed pārājika, then he is a bhikkhu. Although his morality might be not pure if he commits other offenses. He might have very strange ideas about Dhamma, but this doesn't disrobe him.

Mahayana bhikshus I would consider as monks of different religion: treating with respect, but... their lineage is different, their way to ordain is different, their Vinaya is different, the way they follow it is different, etc.

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AgarikaJ
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by AgarikaJ » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:24 pm

:goodpost:
Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:09 am
I would favour the most congenial approach, which is to accept that anyone who has accepted the going forth in any of the Theravadan lineages is a Theravadan monk. One is then free to say, of course, that one does not find their teaching accessible or acceptable. But it avoids disputes over whether labels are "correctly" applied and which criteria should be used to apply those labels. If a person thinks that (say) Ajahn Thanissaro is not Theravadan on the grounds that Thanissaro believes something different from them, then I am unlikely to convince them otherwise; and indeed even if I did, I wouldn't have gained any real benefit.

If it walks like a duck and it quacks, then it's a duck. But if you are looking for a particular sub-species of duck, then you are not helped by getting into disputes about mallards, pochards, and eider ducks.
:goodpost:

Maybe it would help to find out SarathW's motivation for this question.

Anybody who was ordained in a Theravadan Nikaya is by definition Theravadan. But I am sure this is not a sufficient answer for him.

I think he goes more in the direction of when a tradition is so far removed from the core teachings or too lax in following the rules that he would not trust them any more. But the level of adherence to the Vinaya or to specific core teachings is a highly personal and subjective matter.

Are the Thai forest masters, putting the center of their practice in following all Vinaya rules but a bit lesser specificity in exact Pali terminology and meditation practice too far removed? Or are Brahmanic rituals being incorporated in the Buddhist practice of the Maha Nikaya under the patronage of the Thai royal house too much? Or maybe Theravada practices influenced by tantric and magical thinking throughout Southeast Asia? Do we disagree with certain teachings or leanings of individual Ajahns? Disqualifies a monk who was seen smoking or handling money his whole lineage?

I believe this to be a question everybody can only answer for himself.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:59 pm

To me, and this is just me, Ledi and Mahasi are the yardsticks by which modern Buddhists should measure themselves - virile, upright men, intellectually rigorous who pursued the dhamma at all costs and who made manly turns of the great wheel of the Dhamma, setting it in motion with great virility.

I'm not knocking the people here who are of the Thai Forest tradition, but my teachers are Burmese and I believe in the Abhidhamma and have no interest in cutting it out, nor cutting out tikas.

I follow the reasoning of Brahm (I think) and I respect him, but I don't want to follow his new path when there have been preservers of the Dhamma for 2600 years already who have labored tremendously and whose commentaries are worthy of respect and preservation.
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AgarikaJ
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by AgarikaJ » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:04 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:06 am
Just note who is promoting alien ideas such as: fascism (Evola), feminism (sujato), socialism (buddadhasa) and compare that to those who teach the dhamma without such alien ideas. The Buddha gave us the charter of free inquiry.
I always find it dangerous to put politically charged labels on the teachings of individual Ajahns, as they are meant to be divisive and fail to criticize the weak or incorrect points of teaching one is not supportive about.

For example, there are others in the forum here who are quick to throw terms like 'Cultural Marxism' around, where I am quite sure that I do understand something completely different under this label than what they seem to mean-- I rather find a critical view of the many unpleasant aspects of our consumerist/capitalist Western societies ("specifically targets those aspects of culture that are seen as profit-driven and mass-produced") applaudable, but some board members seem to use the term wrongly, maybe wishing to imply 'cultural misappropriation' and making a complete mess of it. Are you confused by this? I am!

Of course, it does not help when monks become involved in politics, which I see as a big no-no. And some are indeed guilty of using such mixed language themselves, inviting confusion from their end (an example is surely the 'Buddhist Socialism' from Ajahn Buddhadhasa, but if one reads the book, I still think it wrong to conflate his theories of a social contract fulfilling the basic needs of all individuals so that they can concentrate on studying the Dhamma with the political vehicle of Socialism as implemented and understood in the Western world).

The book, BTW, is here: https://www.suanmokkh.org/books/83
p.28:
The moral order, in Buddhadasa's view necessarily involves the restraint of personal ambition and all selfish egoistic drives. This community of restraint (sangha-niyama) is the normative (prakati), true (dhamma-sacca), and natural (dhamma-jati) state of things. This environment where everything can be itself and at the same time provide the context for all others to do the same is, by definition, socialistic (Pali: sangha-niyama, Thai: sangkhom-niyom).
Dhammic socialism, then, for Buddhadasa is the natural state of things; the original, normative state; the mutual interactive and co-arising moral, social and natural order. It is necessarily implied or contained in the meaning of buddha-dhamma.
The same danger I see in labeling Ajahn Sujato as 'feminist'; his views, which obviously do not find agreement everywhere, are well founded in Sutta and parallel study; and therefore they should be discussed on the basis of such.
That there are issues with the differing situation of females in our society compared to the time of the Buddha can surely not be disagreed on and that there are valid questions around the internal coherence of aspects of the founding story of the Bikkhuni order in the (Theravada) suttas would be obvious to everybody who reads them.

As this is a slippery slope where discussion based on text passages can be difficult, I rather point to the exhaustive work of Bhikkhu Analayo in 'The Foundation History of the Nuns’ Order', here: https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg ... nalayo.pdf
p.126, where a footnote explains the situation of females living solitary or having gone forth at the time of the Buddha:
Bhattacharji 1987: 54 goes so far as to state that “woman has been a chattel in India ever since the later Vedic times.” An early passage indicative of such an attitude can be found in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 6.4.7, Radhakrishnan 1953/1992: 323, which recommends that, in case a woman after her menstrual period is not willing to have sex and trying to bribe her (with presents) has also been unsuccessful, she should be beaten with a stick or one’s fists and be overpowered. Once such attitudes are condoned, in the case of a woman who has gone forth and thus is perceived by others to be without the protection of her rightful owner or protector – her father, husband, or son – it seems quite conceivable that she would run the risk of being considered by some males as an easily available commodity.
Surely, nobody on this board would condone that a woman be raped by any passersby, just because she is neither living in the house of her parents or is married?!

In closing, I think it would be better -- just to avoid disaccord and to further mutual understanding -- to use a Dhamma-specific label without modern political undertones, coupled with an example, so that everybody can be sure that the term used is understood in the same way.

:anjali:
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:13 pm

AgarikaJ wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:04 pm
Manopubbangama wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:06 am
Just note who is promoting alien ideas such as: fascism (Evola), feminism (sujato), socialism (buddadhasa) and compare that to those who teach the dhamma without such alien ideas. The Buddha gave us the charter of free inquiry.
I always find it dangerous to put politically charged labels on the teachings of individual Ajahns,
Sujato put it on himself. As did Evola, in his case. As did Buddadhassa in his case.

The burden of the label is absolutely, positively 100% on them, and it is absolutely, positively 100% on us to compare their teachings to that of our Master, the Buddha Shakyamuni.



If we are not allowed or permitted to mention this than that is the destruction of the charter of free inquiry.

And as long as such individuals continue to label themselves by their alien ideology that guides them, I will continue to mention it, and say that I politely disagree with it.

If I am truly forced to be 'the heretic' and show how incredibly non-feminist Buddhism is, I will have no issue doing so: Buddhism has nothing to do with the destructive ideology of feminism.

If people don't realize this they are purposefully ignoring the Suttas and Vinaya.

If you feel the need to avoid such words as 'feminism' than have you wrote to Sujato and asked him to avoid using such words?
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AgarikaJ
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by AgarikaJ » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:34 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:13 pm
And as long as such individuals continue to label themselves by their alien ideology that guides them, I will continue to mention it, and say that I politely disagree with it.

If I am truly forced to be 'the heritic' and show how incredibly non-feminist Buddhism is, I will have no issue doing so: Buddhism has nothing to do with the destructive ideology of feminism.
You misunderstood; I have said nothing about Buddhism having anything to do with 'Feminism', on the contrary I tried to convey that you -- or anybody else -- should not conflate the two and thereby creating this connection in the first place.

Also, those modern terms do, in many instances, have not the clear definition that users think they have. My suspicion is, still, that you mean something completely different when you use the word 'feminism' than I do, but by not adding a definition, you open yourself to all kinds of misunderstandings.

My advice was therefore to use terms anchored in Theravada vocabulary, which are unlikely to be overburdened by modern conceptions, while at the same time making clear where your disagreement is rooted in the Canon.

This same advice I would give to Ajahn Sujato, if he would be part of our discussion. Alas, he is not, and just because he might have been unwise in the choice of his words, it must not mean that we all are. Do you not agree?
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:39 pm

AgarikaJ wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:34 pm
Manopubbangama wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:13 pm
And as long as such individuals continue to label themselves by their alien ideology that guides them, I will continue to mention it, and say that I politely disagree with it.

If I am truly forced to be 'the heritic' and show how incredibly non-feminist Buddhism is, I will have no issue doing so: Buddhism has nothing to do with the destructive ideology of feminism.

My advise was therefore to use terms anchored in Theravada vocabulary, which are unlikely to be overburdened by modern conceptions, while at the same time making clear where your disagreement is rooted in the Canon.
I agree with your advice to the extent that it is directed at those who use such vocabulary in the first place.

Moderator note: ad hominem and comments disrespectful to other traditions removed.
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