The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
moment
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:07 pm

The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby moment » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:14 am

Found by accident:
http://frontiermyanmar.net/en/the-monk-blue-robes:
25 Apr 2016
Ashin Nyar Na has spent nearly 16 years in jail for unorthodox beliefs that have angered the powerful supreme body representing Buddhist monks in Myanmar.

It was after Ashin Nyar Na, 77, had ordained as a monk about 40 years ago and studied the three books of Buddhist teachings known as the Tipitika that be began to have doubts about his beliefs. They were a radical departure from the Theravada Buddhism that predominates in Myanmar and have cost him dearly in terms of freedom.
[...]
“I realised that the Buddha that the people know is not the real Buddha,” he told Frontier, recalling the thoughts that stirred in his mind during the 1980s. “So, I had to try to know the real Buddha.”
[...]
A core difference between Ashin Nyar Na’s beliefs and Theravada Buddhism is whether life continues after death.
[more]


I am very little experienced in Buddhism, suttas etc. in my opinion, but even with that, for me, I think for e.g. that the thing about Buddha "knowing everything" is personal, over-interpretation, isn't it?

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3545
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:37 pm

moment wrote:I am very little experienced in Buddhism, suttas etc. in my opinion, but even with that, for me, I think for e.g. that the thing about Buddha "knowing everything" is personal, over-interpretation, isn't it?

Ashin Nyar Na clearly holds wrong views, but it's sad that he is persecuted so severely for expressing them. Banning someone from an Internet forum or refusing permission to publish heretical books is reasonable, but imprisoning people for expressing unorthodox views is extremely intolerant.

The best Sutta reference on the Buddha's Omniscience (sabbaññutā) is the Mahāsihanāda Sutta.
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

Lucem
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:19 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby Lucem » Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:23 pm

Believing in anihilationism is a matter of personal choice. Making a case that Buddha was actually an annihilationist means not reading a page of the Pali canon and about the doctrine of the 5 aggregates.

But of course it is shameful what is happening in Myanmar. A civilized reaction would be to just kick him out of the shanga.

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3545
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:17 pm

Lucem wrote:A civilized reaction would be to just kick him out of the Sangha.

That would not be a civilized reaction. Even a bhikkhu who falls into an offence of defeat is not "kicked out" of the Sangha, until and unless he acknowledges his offence, then he automatically ceases to be a bhikkhu. No kicking is required.

There are some monks, who might be opponents of a monk for whatever reason, who could gather some support and falsely accuse a monk of defeat. That would be an offence of Sanghadisesa for them, but an accusation even if there is substantial evidence is not enough. After all, a bhikkhu could have sexual intercourse, but be guilty of no offence at all if he was insane at the time and did not know what he was doing. The Vinaya is a legal system that requires deep study before one is able to judge whether a monk is guilty or not guilty of an offence, whether it is a heavy offence, or a light one, or no offence at all.

Promulgating wrong views falls under the heading of Pacittiya 68. A bhikkhu should be called into the Sangha and admonished to make him repudiate his wrong views. If he does not, a formal act of suspension can be carried out against him. However, he does not cease to be a bhikkhu. He is just ostracised from the Sangha. Whenever he gives up his wrong views the act of suspension can be removed.
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

dhammarelax
Posts: 1087
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:59 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby dhammarelax » Thu Dec 08, 2016 9:12 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Lucem wrote:A civilized reaction would be to just kick him out of the Sangha.

That would not be a civilized reaction. Even a bhikkhu who falls into an offence of defeat is not "kicked out" of the Sangha, until and unless he acknowledges his offence, then he automatically ceases to be a bhikkhu. No kicking is required.

There are some monks, who might be opponents of a monk for whatever reason, who could gather some support and falsely accuse a monk of defeat. That would be an offence of Sanghadisesa for them, but an accusation even if there is substantial evidence is not enough. After all, a bhikkhu could have sexual intercourse, but be guilty of no offence at all if he was insane at the time and did not know what he was doing. The Vinaya is a legal system that requires deep study before one is able to judge whether a monk is guilty or not guilty of an offence, whether it is a heavy offence, or a light one, or no offence at all.

Promulgating wrong views falls under the heading of Pacittiya 68. A bhikkhu should be called into the Sangha and admonished to make him repudiate his wrong views. If he does not, a formal act of suspension can be carried out against him. However, he does not cease to be a bhikkhu. He is just ostracised from the Sangha. Whenever he gives up his wrong views the act of suspension can be removed.


How do the santions fit with beign allways loving kind towards all beigns, is excluding someone form the Sangha a loving and kind act towards him?

Smile
Dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3545
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:19 pm

dhammarelax wrote:How do the sanctions fit with being always kind towards all beings, is excluding someone from the Sangha a loving and kind act towards him?

Yes, of course. The Buddha would not have sanctioned cruel punishments. A monk who refuses to listen to other monks and holds wrong views is a danger to others. The Sangha needs to make it plain that his views are heretical.

Having rules without any sanctions would be meaningless.
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

SarathW
Posts: 7849
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby SarathW » Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:23 pm

:goodpost: Bhante.
Buddha was able to help Angulimala not Devadatta.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
cjmacie
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:49 am

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby cjmacie » Sat Dec 10, 2016 5:03 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:...Ashin Nyar Na clearly holds wrong views, but it's sad that he is persecuted so severely for expressing them. Banning someone from an Internet forum or refusing permission to publish heretical books is reasonable, but imprisoning people for expressing unorthodox views is extremely intolerant.

Suppression of freedom of the press is reasonable and tolerant? As in also something that came up here a while ago where it was noted that books of the PaAuk Sayadaw were banned at some point in time. The behavior of the church-state establishment in Myanmar appears to rival the European Christian "Inquisition" in terms of brutality and dogmatic extremism.

A clue as to one possible dimension of the situation came up in the article linked in the OP:
From the Frontier Myanmar article: "The monk in blue robes"
“The people donate offerings to the monks because they believe they will be rewarded in their next life,” the follower said. “If they were aware of Sayadaw’s [Ashin Nyar Na’s] doubt about a continuing existence after their worldly lives, they would be unlikely to give offerings to monks any more.”
That is to say, the issue of the economic basis of the religious establishment. But is it necessary for Buddhists to preach "hell-fire and brimstone" threats to keep the laity in line contributing to the monks?

My first-hand impression, from contact with ethnic Asian Buddhist communities here in the USA (Thai Wats, and a Vietnamese congregation served by Burmese (Pandita) monks) is that the people are taught the positive motivation to improve their paramis, to increase their (and their progeny's) chances of actually achieving the Buddha's path. Donation (monetary and, e.g. providing food for the monks and retreat yogis) is not pushed aggressively (as it is, for instance, in some of the institutions in the Western Vipassana-Movement), but is rather an inherent value in people's lives – tradition from their fore-bearers and passed on to their children. Retreats don't end with a "dana day", like, for instance, at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. I've not heard in any talk, nor read anywhere in the voluminous (free) literature, for instance at Tathagata Meditation Center (San Jose, Calif.) anything threatening people with "hell realms".

Clearly, from the news across at least recent decades, Burmese culture has some serious "sila" issues. One would perhaps hope that would occur mainly in the political-economic dimensions of society. but apparently it also infects, via the state-religious establishment, the attitudes and behavior of some monastic participants.

Not to assert that Western societies aren't also infected by gaps of hypocrisy between their "liberal" value systems and some of their political-economic policies, especially in terms of ongoing "colonialist" behavior toward other societies. One lesson of history, however, more or less well learned in the West is the pragmatic value of institutional "separation of church and state" – despite sporadic outbreaks to the contrary by right-wing religious fanatics. Unfortunately, a more rigid church-state integration still flourishes in some corners, largely driven by right-wing extremism – e.g. in radical Islam, places like Myanmar, and even Israel.

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3545
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:24 pm

cjmacie wrote:Suppression of freedom of the press is reasonable and tolerant?

Suppression of slander is perfectly reasonable and tolerant. If someone believes that only Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Light, they are welcome to hold those views, and to express them, but not here. This forum has TOS that prevent users from slandering others, peddling their views or their wares, here etc. All such suppression of wrong speech is for the benefit of the members of this forum. It's OK to explain Godwin's law here, but if anyone starts accusing others of behaving like Nazis, that is unacceptable.

The right to free speech does not extend to the right to slander the virtuous, and right speech on a Buddhist forum extends further, not to slander anyone. In a Buddhist country like Burma, why should the government allow anyone to slander the Buddha?
Abhāsita Sutta wrote:"Monks, these two slander the Tathagata. Which two? He who explains what was not said or spoken by the Tathagata as said or spoken by the Tathagata. And he who explains what was said or spoken by the Tathagata as not said or spoken by the Tathagata. These are two who slander the Tathagata."

The Buddha, and monks in general teach by both encouragement to do good and warnings to abstain from evil:
Kesi Sutta wrote:“Kesi, I train a tamable person [sometimes] with gentleness, [sometimes] with harshness, [sometimes] with both gentleness and harshness.

“In using gentleness, [I teach:] ‘Such is good bodily conduct. Such is the result of good bodily conduct. Such is good verbal conduct. Such is the result of good verbal conduct. Such is good mental conduct. Such is the result of good mental conduct. Such are the devas. Such are human beings.’

“In using harshness, [I teach:] ‘Such is bodily misconduct. Such is the result of bodily misconduct. Such is verbal misconduct. Such is the result of verbal misconduct. Such is mental misconduct. Such is the result of mental misconduct. Such is hell. Such is the animal womb. Such the realm of the hungry shades.’
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

User avatar
cjmacie
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:49 am

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby cjmacie » Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:08 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:...This forum has TOS that prevent users from slandering others, peddling their views or their wares, here etc. All such suppression of wrong speech is for the benefit of the members of this forum.

The issue of freedom of speech, of discussion is here being re-framed as "slander"; and extended into the area of "suppression of wrong speech" in this forum – where did this change-of-topic come from?

Looking at the issue, however, the closest relevant passages appear to be …
TOS… (revision 20160911)
2. Speech … may be removed without notice…
…predictions or threats of kammic retribution…
3. Action …
…i. Proselytizing or evangelizing other spiritual paths…
4. Mindfulness
… the staff here will not enforce reverence to anyone or anything, nor censor speech
gratuitously…

Nothing there, anywhere, on "slander", "wrong view", "wrong speech", etc.

Who is to determine, by what criteria, what is "slander", what is "wrong view or speech"? How is it to be distinguished from justifiable difference of viewpoint? Those who confuse their own interpretations, as astute and well-meaning as they may be, of the Buddha's teaching with some absolute "truth" of them have yet to fully appreciate his extensive teachings on the nature and consequences of "views", IMO.

Other than in specific sectarian enclaves, modern Theravada is replete with, and relatively tolerant of differing shades of viewpoint among the respected teachers – meaning the mainline Asian traditions, not the Western modernist spin-offs. Different teachers, in different traditions, express their viewpoints (grasp of the Dhamma) as they can; at times colored with "culture-bound" elements. Others, usually avid "followers" (not the leaders) of other traditions, often mine those expressions for apparent "conflicts", "discrepancies" compared with their own favorite teachings, and make ado about it without first searching for deeper commonality -- like fundamentalists in any religious tradition.

One has to grant, I find, that this Ashin Nyar Na does go to lengths to avoid direct confrontation with the Burmese church-state establishment, as in the blue robes. The area of dhamma referred to in "No life after death views" is also one of the thornier ones – "past lives", "future lives", or "rebirths", or "becomings", etc. – that is interpreted in a range of diverging ways within the Asian traditions, not to mention the Western modernist schools of thought. The view that he intends to "slander" the Buddha is, IMO, unreasonably prejudicial.

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3545
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:15 pm

Unsubstantiated allegations against individuals or traditions is slander.
cjmacie wrote:The view that he intends to "slander" the Buddha is, IMO, unreasonably prejudicial.

I don't doubt that he sincerely holds his wrong views, so one can hardly accuse him of intentional slander. However, in calling my statement "prejudicial" you clearly do intend to slander me. The text is crystal clear: one who teaches what the Tathāgata did not teach slanders him. Do you think the Buddha did not teach the Abhāsita Sutta or that the translation of Abbhakkhanti is prejudicial?

There is no doubt at all that the Buddha did teach the life after death doctrine, whether modern Buddhists believe it or not. The Buddha did not teach the doctrine to gain gifts from the pious as some corrupt monks might. Well-educated monks do not have such ulterior motives, and like the Buddha would teach it to encourage wholesome actions that lead to the reduction of craving, and so tend towards nibbāna.

Setting up a brand new blue-robed Order to promulgate wrong views would certainly be regarded as confrontational in a Buddhist country like Burma.

In the same "Chapter of Fools" in the Aṅguttaranikāya it says:-

Bālavaggo wrote:28. “Micchādiṭṭhikassa, bhikkhave, dvinnaṃ gatīnaṃ aññatarā gati pāṭikaṅkhā — nirayo vā tiracchānayoni vā”ti.

So those Mahānāyaka theras have great compassion for Ashin Nyar Na in asking him to recant his wrong views. Only two destinations are to be expected for one holding wrong views: rebirth in hell (niraya) or rebirth in the womb of an animal (tiracchānayoni).
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

User avatar
binocular
Posts: 2662
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby binocular » Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:59 pm

cjmacie wrote:Who is to determine, by what criteria, what is "slander", what is "wrong view or speech"?

Those in positions of power.
Glenn Wallis: Nascent speculative non-Buddhism
- - -
Do you believe that the Dhamma can be adequately taught solely through words, and even to people one doesn't care about?

User avatar
cjmacie
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:49 am

Re: The monk in blue robes - Ashin Nyar Na - "No life after death view" = 16 years prison in Myanmar

Postby cjmacie » Tue Dec 13, 2016 12:08 pm

cjmacie wrote:One has to grant, I find, that this Ashin Nyar Na does go to lengths to avoid direct confrontation with the Burmese church-state establishment, as in the blue robes. The area of dhamma referred to in "No life after death views" is also one of the thornier ones – "past lives", "future lives", or "rebirths", or "becomings", etc. – that is interpreted in a range of diverging ways within the Asian traditions, not to mention the Western modernist schools of thought. The view that he intends to "slander" the Buddha is, IMO, unreasonably prejudicial.

This last statement addresses the overall situation in Myanmar, where authorities apparently interpret this monk's views as intentionally "slandering" the Buddha. From what I've read, I think it's reasonable to allow that the monk does not himself "intend" to slight the Buddha himself, has pious respect for the Buddha, as misguided and culpable as details of his views might appear.

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:...I don't doubt that he sincerely holds his wrong views, so one can hardly accuse him of intentional slander. ...

This appears to resemble the sentiment that I expressd (above) – the monk's "slander" may be, in his own mind, not intentional, not speaking against or accusing the Buddha.

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:...However, in calling my statement "prejudicial" you clearly do intend to slander me. ...

How so? Where "clearly"? The statement was not directed to B. Pesala, was not intended to "slander" B. Pesala, whose last statement here appears to be based on misinterpretation, taking something personally; and also reads like an ad hominem accusation. I find this inappropriate to the discussion, and questionable in terms of the DW TOS.


Return to “Modern Interpretations”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine