Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

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tiltbillings
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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by tiltbillings » Tue May 26, 2015 2:03 am

SDC wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:There is no rejection of nibbana here that you have shown.
Just my take, tilt. I am sure everyone here is well aware that we are all giving our personal opinion.
It is just that some opinions are better founded than others.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by Ben » Tue May 26, 2015 2:40 am

waterchan wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: That may be so about Ven Bodhi, but that does not mean that he does not meditate, nor does it mean that he is lacking in the fruits of bhāvanā.
He himself seems to admit that he is lacking in the fruits of bhavana:
Throughout my life as a monk I have made extensive use of these four meditation subjects. I have also done occasional extended retreats at hermitages in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Regretfully, though, because of my poor merits and the debilitating headache condition, I have not reached any attainments worthy of a true practitioner.
Not that it bothers me. Just pointing it out because of mikenz's comment above. In fact, I think this whole issue of Bhikkhu Bodhi's worldly involvement doesn't bother me because I view him as a highly esteemed authority on the Pali texts, and not as a great teacher for the development of bhavana. And judging by the way he presents himself as a teacher, I'm sure he'd be fine with that. I don't think people should expect more from Bhikkhu Bodhi than he's willing or able to give, and my, I'm sure he's given a whole lot more to Buddhism than anyone here on this forum.
There is actually a whole lot more to 'bhāvana than time spent sitting in meditation.
Kind regards,
Ben
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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by Anagarika » Tue May 26, 2015 3:01 am

Retro, I admire your reverence of the Vinaya and the strict training path to nibbana, and do understand where you're coming from. Some of the hot speech in this discussion reminds me of the salvos being tossed over the issue of Bhikkhuni ordinations and the dialogue between Ven. Thanissaro and Ven. Bodhi; some of the dialogue did become personal and harsh, IMO. As we are all kalyana mitta here, it's good that we can hash out these questions. Iron sharpens iron. I expect that there will be more discussion on other Buddhist forums about the Washington, DC visit and its implications for the Buddhadhamma.

Personally, I am interested in seeing what evolves from the Washington meeting, and what Ven. Bodhi's next steps are. I admire him and trust him deeply, and have a sense of faith that he has a very strong Dhammic energy that is motivating him to do what he is doing. I also sense that he is a very kind and humble man, and deserving of the utmost respect, even if we perceive him to be straying from convention. At the end of the day, I see the Buddha in a similar light, a bit of a revolutionary, and a unique man willing to wisely and insightfully cut against the status quo and the religious and political conventions of his time. The Buddha had his critics, too, but he persevered. And so I see in Ven. Bodhi someone who decided he isn't going to play it safe, and is willing to be called out for his actions, just as many brave/heroic figures through history have done.

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by retrofuturist » Tue May 26, 2015 3:09 am

Greetings Anagarika,
Anagarika wrote:As we are all kalyana mitta here, it's good that we can hash out these questions. Iron sharpens iron. I expect that there will be more discussion on other Buddhist forums about the Washington, DC visit and its implications for the Buddhadhamma.
Indeed, it's good to see these discussions taking place, as the Sangha is important to all of us and remains so for the remainder of this Buddhasasana.

Also, I find it heartening to see people exploring this important issue facing the Sangha without thinking the worst of others and reactively accusing them of slander, simply because their positions might be confronting or challenging. The whole situation by its very nature is challenging, and if it is ignored, we will be complicit in any degradation of the sasana that results from our passive acceptance.
Anagarika wrote:And so I see in Ven. Bodhi someone who decided he isn't going to play it safe, and is willing to be called out for his actions, just as many brave/heroic figures through history have done.
I know in advance that certain people will likely lash out at me for this comment, but he could pursue this "Engaged Buddhism" path in a much safer manner, doing so from the basis of a Mahayana Buddhist Sangha, where there is an established precedence for skillful means (upàya kusala) in teaching overriding Vinaya & Sutta concerns. The Mahayana way is not for me personally, but I do not begrudge anyone practicing it.

The Mahayanisation of the Theravada Dhamma-vinaya on the other hand is a different matter entirely... as Theravada risks being subsumed, in a similar way to how it was subsumed in India by Hinduism. Theravada's point of differentiation is that it is, and has always, given paramount importance to the discourses (suttanta) and the discipline (vinaya) - long may it remain so.
Parinibbana Sutta wrote:Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.
:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by chownah » Tue May 26, 2015 3:27 am

I call this kind of thread a "saran wrap" thread.......clinging all around.....
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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by SarathW » Tue May 26, 2015 3:44 am

Desire (clinging) for protecting Dhamma is a wholesome action. :thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by Wri » Tue May 26, 2015 4:19 am

SarathW wrote:Desire (clinging) for protecting Dhamma is a wholesome action. :thinking:
Perhaps you already know this, but that depends entirely on how you protect it, i.e. the context. Desire is also not the same thing as clinging or craving, at least in my definition. I've seen clinging to protecting the Dhamma become cruel and even lethal in many instances. Sometimes the best way to protect the Dhamma is to let go of protecting it, and then realize that in letting go, you have reached a higher Dhamma. Some times you have to step back and look at the big picture and realize that arguing is simply harmful and not productive of growth.
Keep your mind steady and rest within the winds of experience.
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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by tiltbillings » Tue May 26, 2015 4:57 am

retrofuturist wrote: I know in advance that certain people will likely lash out at me for this comment, but he could pursue this "Engaged Buddhism" path in a much safer manner, doing so from the basis of a Mahayana Buddhist Sangha, where there is an established precedence for skillful means (upàya kusala) in teaching overriding Vinaya & Sutta concerns. The Mahayana way is not for me personally, but I do not begrudge anyone practicing it.
Disagreeing with you is not lashing out. The idea of skillful-means finds its roots in the suttas. Skillful means is something of a complex idea within the establishment of the Mahayana. Primarily it has to do with skillfully teaching to meet the understanding and needs of the audience being addressed.
The Mahayanisation of the Theravada Dhamma-vinaya on the other hand is a different matter entirely... as Theravada risks being subsumed, in a similar way to how it was subsumed in India by Hinduism. Theravada's point of differentiation is that it is, and has always, given paramount importance to the discourses (suttanta) and the discipline (vinaya) - long may it remain so.
What is interesting here is that what historically of paramount importance has been the study of the commentaries, the Visuddhimagga, the Abhidhammattha-sangaha, and other such post canonical works. Monks such as Ven Nanananda, whose primary focus on the suttas, are very much the exception to what is and has been found in the Theravada tradition.

As for epithet “Mahayanization” as a way of trying to characterize disagreeing with Ven Bodhi, it is rather meaningless. Ven Bodhi by all accounts has shown himself to be a conscientious monk. Ven Bodhi apparently is not acting in the absolutist, rigid way some folks think he should, and the umbrage that this has given rise to among those who want their monks to behave ever so rigidly this way and that way, this umbrage obviously speaks more of those demanding rigid conformity than it does of any supposed failings that Ven Bodhi may have.

As for the monastic rules, the monastic rules interestingly enough have had a very tortured history within the Theravadin world, but they managed to survive and continue to more or less work.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by retrofuturist » Tue May 26, 2015 5:05 am

Greetings,
Dhammanando wrote:In the classical Theravāda classification atthakathā is the third of the four sources of the Dhamma:

1. Sutta: the three baskets of the Tipiṭaka.
2. Suttānuloma: a direct inference from the Tipiṭaka.
3. Atthakathā: a commentary.
4. Attanomati: the personal opinions of later generations of teachers.

In this scheme sutta is viewed as the most reliable source of authority and attanomati the least so.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
(source)

Emphasis mine...

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by tiltbillings » Tue May 26, 2015 5:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Dhammanando wrote:In the classical Theravāda classification atthakathā is the third of the four sources of the Dhamma:

1. Sutta: the three baskets of the Tipiṭaka.
2. Suttānuloma: a direct inference from the Tipiṭaka.
3. Atthakathā: a commentary.
4. Attanomati: the personal opinions of later generations of teachers.

In this scheme sutta is viewed as the most reliable source of authority and attanomati the least so.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
(source)

Emphasis mine...

Metta,
Retro. :)
While that may be so, is it in fact how things have played them selves over the history of the Theravada?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by Dan74 » Tue May 26, 2015 5:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Anagarika,
Anagarika wrote:As we are all kalyana mitta here, it's good that we can hash out these questions. Iron sharpens iron. I expect that there will be more discussion on other Buddhist forums about the Washington, DC visit and its implications for the Buddhadhamma.
Indeed, it's good to see these discussions taking place, as the Sangha is important to all of us and remains so for the remainder of this Buddhasasana.

Also, I find it heartening to see people exploring this important issue facing the Sangha without thinking the worst of others and reactively accusing them of slander, simply because their positions might be confronting or challenging. The whole situation by its very nature is challenging, and if it is ignored, we will be complicit in any degradation of the sasana that results from our passive acceptance.
Anagarika wrote:And so I see in Ven. Bodhi someone who decided he isn't going to play it safe, and is willing to be called out for his actions, just as many brave/heroic figures through history have done.
I know in advance that certain people will likely lash out at me for this comment, but he could pursue this "Engaged Buddhism" path in a much safer manner, doing so from the basis of a Mahayana Buddhist Sangha, where there is an established precedence for skillful means (upàya kusala) in teaching overriding Vinaya & Sutta concerns. The Mahayana way is not for me personally, but I do not begrudge anyone practicing it.

The Mahayanisation of the Theravada Dhamma-vinaya on the other hand is a different matter entirely... as Theravada risks being subsumed, in a similar way to how it was subsumed in India by Hinduism. Theravada's point of differentiation is that it is, and has always, given paramount importance to the discourses (suttanta) and the discipline (vinaya) - long may it remain so.
Parinibbana Sutta wrote:Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.
:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
I think we should not conflate the actions of an individual Theravada bikkhu and the desirability of such a trend. As far as I can tell, there are plenty of monks in Sri Lanka and Thailand aligning with the governments in all sorts of questionable way, but this is very different in intention and effect to the activism of Bikkhu Bodhi. So I don't see a trent of activism ala Bodhi in Theravada bikkhus, but maybe there is one? Do you know of other similar examples?

Also since as far as I know he bases his practice and his View squarely within the Pali Canon, why should he 'convert'?

I know his activism is not to everyone's liking. Ajahn Brahm's antics aren't to everyone's liking either. And yet, these two monks have done more to bring Theravada Dhamma to the people than probably many of the other runners-up combined! And isn't this wonderful?

I suspect Bikkhu Bodhi current actions will bring yet more people to Theravada Dhamma and I hope that some of his aspirations will come to fruition!
_/|\_

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by retrofuturist » Tue May 26, 2015 6:00 am

Greetings Dan,
Dan74 wrote:Also since as far as I know he bases his practice and his View squarely within the Pali Canon, why should he 'convert'?
I didn't say he "should convert".

What I actually said is that "he could pursue this "Engaged Buddhism" path in a much safer manner, doing so from the basis of a Mahayana Buddhist Sangha, where there is an established precedence for skillful means (upàya kusala) in teaching overriding Vinaya & Sutta concerns".

Given "his practice and his View" is represented by his comments on his practice and his view, I feel what I said is accurate and fair.
"Naturally, the changes that have occurred in my outlook and commitments over the past decade have compelled me to take a fresh look at my understanding of Buddhism. My current ideas may not square perfectly with the Theravada Buddhist orthodoxy on which I was nurtured, but I feel that sometimes one must give priority to one’s deep intuitions over officially sanctioned norms, even when this causes some degree of internal friction."
"While this style of spirituality may have been adequate and even necessary in earlier eras, I feel that it no longer suits us as we attempt to navigate our way through the modern world. "
A truly complete spirituality must extend to all dimensions of human existence, seeking to transform, illuminate, and uplift them in the light of the highest values and ideals of the human spirit. Among other things, it must seek to bring the values of love, compassion, peace, harmony, and justice down into the dark spheres of social relations, political institutions, and economic systems. It should be ready to engage suffering at its most horrific and degrading levels, to shine a light in the direction where this suffering can be resolved.
"In my view, what we must do to achieve our goal is to bring together the wisdom of humanity’s spiritual heritage with the prophetic passion of the social activist. It is only when the two are united—when wisdom and love inspire and drive social conscience, and when social conscience draws its guidelines from timeless sources of truth—that we can shape our institutions and policies in the ways necessary to continue the human adventure on this fragile but beautiful planet."
"To purify one’s own mind - advocate for justice, to establish the necessary social, economic, and political institutions, laws, and modes of governance that offer everyone the conditions needed to unfold their potentials and realize their best aspirations."
I see all this as a project well within the scope of Dhamma: addressing broad-scale human (and non-human) suffering by tackling the root causes, here viewed not as motives of individual human minds but as forces that come to expression in social and economic systems. This can only be done by addressing and rectifying those causes of suffering wherever they may lurk, even when this requires entering the fray of socially transformative action. If this is contrary to somebody's understanding of the Dhamma, I would then question their interpretation of the Dhamma and not this line of action itself.
With such words it sounds like he would feel right at home in the company of Venerable Master Hsing Yun et.al. at the esteemed Fo Guang Shan (a.k.a. " International Buddhist Progress Society"). Here's a little bit about the humanitarian works that FGS do...
Wikipedia wrote:Objectives
- To propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activities
- To foster talent through education
- To benefit society through charitable programs
- To purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practice

Activities
Temples and organizations have been established in 173 countries throughout the world, and now encompasses more than 3,500 monastics. The organisation emphasizes education and service, maintaining universities, Buddhist colleges, libraries, publishing houses, translation centres, Buddhist art galleries, teahouses, and mobile medical clinics. It has also established a children's room, retirement home, high school and television station.

Social and medical programs
The social and medical programs of Fo Guang Shan include a free medical clinic with mobile units that serve remote villages, an annual winter relief program organized to distribute warm clothing and food supplies to the needy, a children's and seniors' home, wildlife conservation areas to protect living creatures, and a cemetery for the care of the deceased.

Educational programs
The educational programs of Fo Guang Shan include four Buddhist colleges, three regular colleges, and various community colleges. The Fo Guang University was established in 2000. It focuses mainly on the humanities and social sciences. The Chinese Buddhist research institute is subdivided into four separate departments; a women's and men's college, and an international and English Buddhist studies department. Tuition fees and lodging are provided by Fo Guang Shan, free of charge.

The organisation also operates Pu-Men High School in Taipei, Jiun Tou Elementary and Junior High School, Humanities Primary and Junior High School, which provides regular curriculum for students. Fo Guang Shan also has nursery schools, kindergartens, and Sunday schools for children.
Image
Venerable Master Hsing Yun

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by Zom » Tue May 26, 2015 6:16 am

I suspect Bikkhu Bodhi current actions will bring yet more people to Theravada Dhamma and I hope that some of his aspirations will come to fruition!
From my experience and observations, this won't happen. Theravada Dhamma is not someting which can be "popularly advertised". It is too narrow and specific and people coming to theravada do it by themselves due to some inner search - not because they saw someone doing something. That is if we talk about "true buddhists" and not some people who just keep visiting teacher/temple/dhamma-center for some time because of superficial interest and then disappear.

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by Dan74 » Tue May 26, 2015 6:19 am

retrofuturist wrote:It would also remove any burden to maintain the illusion that any of the above represents or relates to what the Buddha actually taught.
I guess this is the most troubling of your points, that Bikkhu Bodhi has departed the Buddhadhamma and by joining with the Mahayana camp, he won't have to worry about that. In other words, that what he states above leads
to passion, not to dispassion;
to being fettered, not to being unfettered;
to accumulating, not to shedding;
to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty;
to discontent, not to contentment;
to entanglement, not to seclusion;
to laziness, not to aroused persistence;
to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome':
And that Mahayana is well-described by this and is consequently not the Dhamma.

But where have you demonstrated this to be the case?
Last edited by Dan74 on Tue May 26, 2015 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
_/|\_

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Re: Bikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

Post by mikenz66 » Tue May 26, 2015 6:20 am

Hi Retro,

You're certainly entitled to your view, but I think that many here simply don't share your opinion that such things are "not what the Buddha taught". The Buddha and his students certainly did advise lay people and rulers on his opinion of how they should run their lives and kingdoms, so it seems curious to claim that modern Bhikkhus should not do the same.

For householder, see, for example AN 4.61 on the proper use of wealth.

For rulers, see, for example, DN5, where the Buddha tells a story about how a King brought peace to his land, not by "executions and imprisonment, or by confiscation, threats, and banishment", but by the approach of:
"To those in the kingdom who are engaged in cultivating crops and raising cattle, let Your Majesty distribute grain and fodder; to those in trade, give capital; to those in government service assign proper living wages. Then those people, being intent on their own occupations, will not harm the kingdom. Your Majesty’s revenues will be great; the land will be tranquil and not beset by thieves; and the people, with joy in their hearts, playing with their children, will dwell in open houses.’"

That naughty Buddha must have been a closet Socialist, or maybe even a Mahayanist...

:anjali:
Mike

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