"The Broken Buddha" by Ven.Dhammika and other scandals

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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BlackBird
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by BlackBird » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:48 pm

Thanks David, that looks like a really interesting read :)
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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mikenz66
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:51 pm

retrofuturist wrote: There is a big difference between making merit so that "I" may have a good rebirth (in fact, this isn't much different to Christianity - being rewarded in the afterlife for good done in this life - combined with the fear of punishment of being prodded by flaming pitchforks in hell) and making merit as part of an integrated program of sila, bhavana and panna... in other words, making merit as part of, and support for, the fulfilment of the Noble Eightfold Path.

I have no idea which is more prevalent amongst Asian laity, so I won't speculate.
Yes, that's a very good way of putting it and something to bear in mind when trying to assess the heath of the laity. I have no idea of percentages, but there are certainly people who to me are clearly the "making merit as part of, and support for, the fulfilment of the Noble Eightfold Path" category but don't spend much time reading suttas or meditating.

:anjali:
Mike

Jhana4
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by Jhana4 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:59 pm

Thanks for the post David. I believe environment makes or breaks most people. Every once in a while I encounter someone with qualities they should not have given where they started from. Like a flower growing out of the crack in a sidewalk. It seems like Bhante G is one of them.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by Jhana4 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:43 pm

THE BROKEN BUDDHA
Critical Reflections on Theravada and a Plea for a New Buddhism
by the Venerable S. Dhammika


In a nutshell, the book is by a western born monk and is about criticisms of Theravada Buddhism as he saw it practiced in Asia ( Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma primarily). Venerable S Dhammika is still a monk. I was thinking about this book the other day. First, I was recalling what he wrote ( and what I have observed in ethnic Buddhist communities in the US ) that very few monks are interested in meditation. Some even dismiss it as napping, an activity for old people and discourage it. In his book Venerable Dhammika describes what he thinks a reformed order of Buddhist monks might look like. He includes many pie in the sky rules on his wish list ( if there was such an order, I would support it ). One thing he doesn't mention is meditation.

The way I see it the whole point of being a monk is to get increased time in meditation to do the work of unbinding. Additionally, it is my belief that "the dhamma", the Buddhist spirit, is rooted in and flows out of meditation.

What do you think? If a bunch of people got together to assemble a reformed order of Buddhism and monastics do you think one of the rules should be a minimum weekly amount of time spent in meditation?

How about at least 14 hours a week ( 1 hour in the morning, 1 hour in the evening ) if you want to stay in the order?

Many devoted lay people can and do that much, so it isn't beyond a monk who wants to be a scholar or some kind of community organizer.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Kim OHara
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:59 pm

daverupa wrote:Mostly correct. The best comparison is between a Buddhist monastic and a Catholic friar.
Or mediaeval Christianity in Europe and modern Theravadin Buddhism in southern Asia.

:namaste:
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fabianfred
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by fabianfred » Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:53 pm

BlackBird wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:I hate reading PDFs, but I have to say I am about a half dozen pages into this book and I am finding it to be engrossing.
Scandal always is. Just remember there are still a lot of good monks out there.
Guests to our temple get a DVD from me full of good Buddhist stuff trawled from the internet.....and I advise them to get themselves an Amazon Kindle reader which takes pdf files....some already come with their own.

I agree with most of what is in 'The Broken Buddha' and have some similar writings myself on my Facebook ...
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 6460118286" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 6344768286" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 2609963286" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 8810733286" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 0859438286" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_ ... 5995488286" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=383920278285" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/494 ... -thailand/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/483 ... bbot-says/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


anyone wishing to get an opinion from myself or my fellow foreign monk here at the temple in Northern thailand where we reside can ask ask questions in this thread or at our blog... http://watsriboenruang.wordpress.com/about-3/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

fabianfred
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by fabianfred » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:18 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
According to the Venerable S. Dhammika the Asian Theravada laity is only concerned with making merit. That is, ensuring a good rebirth for themselves by making donations to the monks. They grow up being taught that the maximum amount of merit is to be had by giving to monks, so few make donations or do volunteer work for others. The rest of the time, outside of holidays the laity is unconcerned about Buddhism. They do not read the suttas. They do not meditate. They are discouraged from doing so by the monks. They believe both things are not for ordinary people, but only for monks.

Many monks are also unfamiliar with the suttas and do not meditate. In fact if a monk chooses to meditate they will not get any encouragement and even some discouragement as it makes other monks look bad. Many monks go into the Sangha as children, out of poverty and leave after they get a college education paid for by dana from the laity. The ones who stay experience a life time of being waited on hand and foot by the community. The monks become spoiled and narcissitic, caring only about their whims to use dana money to put up buildings and statues that people don't need and often when there is a lot of poverty in the surrounding area. The monks often get big egos demanding huge amounts of respect and demanding to be catered to. Often the Buddhist community in Asia will sacrifice on essentials to their own families to give dana to monks who already have an excess of what they need or could want. This happens because of the aforementioned belief in merit making. For monks the most important thing is following the vinaya, and most could care less about the dhamma, even if they knew about it.
Yes...I agree
Myself and my fellow foreign monk here at our temple have often felt somewhat ostracised by the other monks and novices because we stress the importance of meditation......and do our best to keep the Vinaya. The Thai monks and novices (who see the monks as an example to follow) often are lax with the vinaya..... not bothering to go out on alms-round; eating after mid-day.....
They often have school groups come on dhamma camps to stay for a few nights and days, and are taught by the Thai monks. They only teach them morality....to be good and hope to go to heaven...and maybe scare them with images about hells.
All religions teach us to be good, which gives the good results of a favourable rebirth, but only the Buddha's dhamma teaches to escape Samsara and that requires understanding of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path...and the practice of them. Because these monks do not practice themselves they can hardly teach others what they do not know or believe. They only perfunctoraly teach anything about meditation, including walking meditation which is taught like it is some fun little game since the monks themselves never do it anyway. A ten day Vipassana retreat is a part of their teachers course, which as we know isn't even a real retreat but just a taster....and based upon this they then go out and teach it!!!!
They know I want to teach the kids some real Dhamma, but am not encouraged or allowed, perhaps because the thai monks will then get questioned upon things they themselves do not know. Although Anatta is meant to be at the heart of every Buddhist, Asians, including the monks, are still very much obsessed with 'face'.
Many Thai monks think that because they are born into buddhism they must automatically know more about it than any farang monk, and although we often get admiring comments from the thai laity about our knowledge the same doesn't happen with the thai monkhood. We foreigners have mostly changed from our original religion we were brought up in to buddhism so have done some study. Thais who convert to christianity probably read the Bible, something I never did even though I was brought up as a Catholic.

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James the Giant
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by James the Giant » Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:57 pm

Venerable Fred, with respect, may I ask why you and Ven Greg stay at such a monastery?
Surely there are Ajahn Chah wats you could go to, or even dhammayut, Where both meditation and vinaya are taken more seriously.
What's keeping you where you are now?
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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mikenz66
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:54 am

Thank you for the interesting insights, Venerable. Clearly there is a huge variation in "seriousness" among the the Theravada Sangha, and quite a lot of the range is rather obvious at my local Wat. It's alarming to hear that you feel ostracised for taking meditation seriously. That's certainly not what I see here --- some monks are clearly much more serious than others, but those who are less serious tend to take on other duties.

I find these observations of Ven Sujato useful whenever discussion of laxity in the Sangha comes up:
http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/ ... y-schopen/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
But while it is obviously true, I would also contend that it is truly obvious. All the activities that Schopen depicts may be plainly seen in the activities of the majority of the ordained Sangha in all traditions in the present day. Schopen merely points out that these conditions also obtained in the Middle Period of Indian Buddhism as well. While this may come as a surprise to academics with little contact with Buddhism in the real world, and constitutes an important critique of the fallacy of equating Buddhism with the idealized portrait in the sacred texts, it will come as no surprise for those of us who encounter Buddhism in the world every day.
I don't quote this as an excuse for laxity, but as an encouragement (to myself) to treasure the best of what I am so lucky to have ready access to, rather than waste my time complaining about the rest.

I've seen people whose faith is based on such "idealized portrait in the sacred texts" become rather unstuck when faced with the problem of maintaining their progress in a world that is far from ideal.

:anjali:
Mike

fabianfred
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by fabianfred » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:24 am

James the Giant wrote:Venerable Fred, with respect, may I ask why you and Ven Greg stay at such a monastery?
Surely there are Ajahn Chah wats you could go to, or even dhammayut, Where both meditation and vinaya are taken more seriously.
What's keeping you where you are now?
Good question.
I have been living in Thailand for twenty years now since retiring from the army. First in Chiangmai for 5 years then after meeting my wife there I moved to Fang which is her home town. I became involved as the teacher for the MonkforaMonth project in this temple and when i decided to ordain it was natural to come here.
The abbot is quite young, about 37, and his three head monks are all below 30. i came along next and then we got a couple of old Thais who joined just after me with the 100,000 monk ordination by the dhammkaya temple in BKK and after Pansa came to stay here. Ven Greg was in a Burmese Vipassana centre in malaysia and wanted to come to stay in thailand because there he could only get three month visas, so after contact through the net he joined us here and since he has more experience with teaching Vipassana he looks after that with our guests whilst i carry on teaching the Dhamma.
My own home and family is just down the road and since my kids are still young it is nice to be that way.
One day we might just decide to leave and go tudong.... :computerproblem: :mrgreen:
We just ignore any bad vibes (from the monks or novices) and get on with our own practice, feeling sorry for them and the bad karma they are creating for themselves. The lay people are very supportive and like our presence which is why alms-round is our favourite time of day.

BTW Ven. Greg is from NZ ......

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mikenz66
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:30 am

Thanks for the explanation Venerable Fred,

:bow:

:anjali:
Mike

namaste
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by namaste » Sat Oct 08, 2011 6:02 am

What do members think of the part of the book in which he discusses the Pali canon, and says that there are parts of it that were developed by Theravada, and parts that were ignored, the latter of which became the basis for some of the Mahayana teachings? (Under "What Is Theravada?") He gives a couple of examples, I'll just mention one here:

"For example, the Four Expressions of Sympathy (sangha vatthuni) are frequently mentioned by the Buddha, and could have important implications for a deeper understanding of love and compassion, particularly their social application. Mahayana used them to develop a whole philosophy of practical altruism, but they're given almost no attention in Theravada." He also discusses different versions of dependent origination taught by the Buddha, only one of which was developed into the concept we know as such today.

I find this fascinating. Do readers here feel this is a fair representation of scriptural development?

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mikenz66
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:22 am

namaste wrote: "For example, the Four Expressions of Sympathy (sangha vatthuni) are frequently mentioned by the Buddha, and could have important implications for a deeper understanding of love and compassion, particularly their social application. Mahayana used them to develop a whole philosophy of practical altruism, but they're given almost no attention in Theravada."
Bhikkhu Bodhi seems to agree with this...
Buddhist Global Relief wrote:In 2007 the American Buddhist scholar-monk, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, was invited to write an editorial essay for the Buddhist magazine Buddhadharma. In his essay, he called attention to the narrowly inward focus of American Buddhism, which has been pursued to the neglect of the active dimension of Buddhist compassion expressed through programs of social engagement. ...
http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/act ... story.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
:anjali:
Mike

Jhana4
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by Jhana4 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:08 pm

mikenz66 wrote: I've seen people whose faith is based on such "idealized portrait in the sacred texts" become rather unstuck when faced with the problem of maintaining their progress in a world that is far from ideal.
Word. I think there are a lot of people on this forum who fall into that trap. 'I've often thought about it as being similar to a Korean who only gets exposed to the best parts of Christianity and the shock they might get traveling to Europe, the US etc ...
I think only having the idealized vision of Buddhism from the texts untempered by the form Buddhism takes in the every day world drives a lot of hostility towards Venerable Dhammikas book........or at least the refusal among western Buddhists on this forum to accept his message. The every day reality of Buddhism versus the ideal in the text don't have to threaten each other....look at the existence of devout Christians on our own side of the world. They coexist with lax Christians, corrupt Christians and Christians who are ignorant of their own religion too.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

Jhana4
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by Jhana4 » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:11 pm

fabianfred wrote: I have been living in Thailand for twenty years now since retiring from the army. First in Chiangmai for 5 years then after meeting my wife there I moved to Fang which is her home town.
...
My own home and family is just down the road and since my kids are still young it is nice to be that way.
Can Thai monks marry or have you just stayed in touch with your family after becoming ordained?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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