Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

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pilgrim
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Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by pilgrim » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:58 am

That question...Many western Ajahns have lived most of their monastic lives outside Thailand. If we want Buddhism to be established in the west instead of being a Thai cultural relic, should we not use the Pali equivalent Acariya or another correct term such as Bhante?

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:02 am

Greetings,
pilgrim wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:58 am
another correct term such as Bhante?
Bhante isn't correct either, because bhante is a first-person form of address, and to speak of Bhante Such-and-Such in the third-person is incorrect.

My preference is for "Bhikkhu".

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by pilgrim » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:08 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:02 am
Greetings,
pilgrim wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:58 am
another correct term such as Bhante?
Bhante isn't correct either, because bhante is a first-person form of address, and to speak of Bhante Such-and-Such in the third-person is incorrect.

My preference is for "Bhikkhu".

Metta,
Paul. :)
That's true. I was thinking of situations where people also address monks as Ajahn when speaking in the first person.

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:12 am

Greetings,
pilgrim wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:08 am
That's true. I was thinking of situations where people also address monks as Ajahn when speaking in the first person.
Yes, I understand. When I've spoken to them directly, I've called them "bhante", but referred to them as "bhikkhu" in the third.

I think that's partly why I prefer "bhikkhu", because whether it's first or third person, I believe it's correct... (though I'm happy for someone to tell me it is otherwise...) and as such leaves less to be remembered by people.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by Volovsky » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:05 am

Since Ajahn is a corrupted for ācariya (teacher), there is probably not much wrong in using it. But generally (especially for the western monks), I think it is better to use titles, which were common during Buddha's times: bhante (for address), thera, mahathera, Venerable So-and-so. Not Ajahn, Sayadaw or Sayadaw-ji. Buddha introduced seniority only by vassas, and when we use special titles for particular monks, which have nothing to do with their vassas, it is somewhat against this. For Asian monks we cannot change this, but for foreigners, we can.

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by pitakele » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:43 am

'Bhante' is the vocative form of an honorific (sir etc.) which can be used alone or qualitatively when speaking to someone, e.g. 'Bhante' or 'Bhante ______'. When talking to a monk, it equates to saying 'Venerable' or 'Venerable ______'

A variation of the vocative, 'bho', is sometimes found in the suttas. The nominative form is 'bhavam' - full declension here
http://www.buddha-vacana.org/toolbox/noundec.html

It is correct to say 'Bhante _______' for the third person, but using 'Bhante' (only) as third person seems to be an adaptation that has occurred in English (& maybe other Western languages?)

Personally, I think 'Bhante' is a universally polite way to addess bhikkhus & novices. As well, Western Mahayana monks I've met are comfortable with being addressed as 'Bhante'

All of the above is applicable when addressing bhikkunis or samaneris as 'Ayya'.
Volovsky wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:05 am
But generally (especially for the western monks), I think it is better to use titles, which were common during Buddha's times: bhante (for address), thera, mahathera, Venerable So-and-so.
I agree
now here = nowhere

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:31 am

If we want to establish Buddhism in the West we have to give up attachments.

Let those who wish use Bhante, let those who wish use Bhikkhu, let those who wish use Ajahn, let those who wish use Venerable, let those who wish use Sayādaw, etc. I have heard other expressions, e.g. sir or mate, but I usually understand that they're talking to me.

The monks should use the terms Bhante and Āvuso, as instructed by the Buddha.
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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:20 pm

Sadhu! Yes, there doesn't seem to be anything resembling an equivalent in English at least, so tradition should be followed here out of respect.

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:45 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:20 pm
Sadhu! Yes, there doesn't seem to be anything resembling an equivalent in English at least, so tradition should be followed here out of respect.
Nothing resembling an equivalent in English? Ajahn is simply the Thai word for teacher, schoolteachers are called Ajahn in Thai also so it has nothing specifically to do with the monkhood.

So yes it doesn't really make much sense to adopt a Thai word for no apparent reason, on the other hand translating it to "Teacher Sumedho" etc sounds kind of odd to.

The Thai word Ajahn comes from the Pali word Acariya I believe, in Thai script words ending _aa get changes to _n.

Another question I'd ask is why are western monks in the Ajahn Chah tradition addressed by their Pali names when Thai monks are mostly addressed by their given names? I guess "Teacher Geoff" or "Monk Bill" doesn't sound spiritual enough.

I think the thing is that in Thai words like Ajahn and Pra are used as honorifics but their English translations (Teacher and Monk) aren't really honorifics.
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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:57 pm

Volovsky wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:05 am
Since Ajahn is a corrupted for ācariya (teacher), there is probably not much wrong in using it. But generally (especially for the western monks), I think it is better to use titles, which were common during Buddha's times: bhante (for address), thera, mahathera, Venerable So-and-so. Not Ajahn, Sayadaw or Sayadaw-ji. Buddha introduced seniority only by vassas, and when we use special titles for particular monks, which have nothing to do with their vassas, it is somewhat against this. For Asian monks we cannot change this, but for foreigners, we can.
The above sounds like the type of wrong view of the "Internet Buddhism" school that learns Buddhism on the internet rather than the Right View from actual practise in a monastic tradition. "Ajahn", "Sayadaw", etc, are expressions of geographical "lineage" and "benefaction". The suttas say to not recognise "benefaction" is wrong view. "Ajahn" is a term that recognises the Thai lineages that nurtured certain Western monks; that continue to receive the majority of their benefaction from Thai and Asian laypeople living in the West and also in Asia. If a lineage of certain Western bhikkhus who still depend on Thai people for their requisites continue to use the term "Ajahn" - based on Dhamma principles - its use appears to be Right View.
And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions... no mother, no father...

MN 117
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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:10 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:45 pm

Nothing resembling an equivalent in English? Ajahn is simply the Thai word for teacher, schoolteachers are called Ajahn in Thai also so it has nothing specifically to do with the monkhood.
"Teacher" is not a honorific used for spiritual figures in English (at least, American English) that I am aware of. As mentioned, Ajahn comes from Acariya.

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by pilgrim » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:49 pm

By all means continue using Ajahn when in Thailand or if the parisa consists largely of Thai speakers. But as Buddhism continues to establish itself in the West, the Thai connection will diminish. We could use the honorific Master which is already common for spiritual figures. But this adds in another unnecessary layer of confusing titles. Bhante and Bhikku is appropriate anywhere but if one wishes to acknowledge the Thai connection, then we could use Acariya. In speech, Acariya and Ajahn sounds very close and would not be odd to Thai speakers.

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by Volovsky » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:56 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:57 pm
The above sounds like the type of wrong view of the "Internet Buddhism" school that learns Buddhism on the internet rather than the Right View from actual practise in a monastic tradition.
Learn to lose with dignity. :tongue:

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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:21 am

Volovsky wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:56 pm
Learn to lose with dignity.
In many suttas (MN 122, DN 16, etc), the Buddha refers to himself as the Teacher. There are different words, including ācariya . Therefore, "Ajahn" appears appropriate; and for practitioners (rather than faith followers), probably more appropriate than "Bhante" ("Lord"). To reiterate, if I take the time to respond, it is to what I consider a wrong view. As for my posts to you, they are never wrong or a loss in accordance with Emptiness. The mind gives "birth" to views of "entities" ("satta"). This is what the suttas literally say. It is not a loss but liberation. Its only a loss when clinging to views of self. Therefore, as I posted, I think "Ajahn" is highly appropriate because it recognises benefaction.
"And how do students engage with the teacher in friendliness and not in opposition? There is the case where a teacher teaches the Dhamma to his students sympathetically, seeking their well-being, out of sympathy: 'This is for your well-being; this is for your happiness.' His disciples listen, lend ear, & apply their minds to gnosis. Not turning aside, they don't stray from the Teacher's message. This is how students engage with the teacher as friends and not as opponents.

"Therefore, Ananda, engage with me in friendliness, and not in opposition. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness.

"I won't hover over you like a potter over damp unbaked clay goods. Scolding again & again, I will speak. Urging you on again & again, I will speak. Whatever is of essential worth will remain."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is there a good reason to call western monks Ajahn?

Post by Volovsky » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:32 am

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:21 am
In many suttas (MN 122, DN 16, etc), the Buddha refers to himself as the Teacher. There are different words, including achariya. To reiterate, if I take the time to respond, it is to a wrong view. As for my posts to you, they are never wrong or a loss because they accord with Emptiness.
I'm not about this topic, but on the reason why you are eager to find faults in my posts. But anyway, the way Buddha refers to himself is irrelevant. Show me the suttas, where Sariputta or Moggalana were refered by monks or lay followers in some special way, not avuso or bhante or ayasma.

About acariya, I have said it might be okay - read carefully. It was used during Buddha time although it has more technical Vinaya sense. Ajahn became a special address, as Sayadaw or Rinpoche, not as before a teacher of a monk together with upajjhaya. Therefore it is better to avoid.
Last edited by Volovsky on Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:39 am, edited 3 times in total.

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