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

Post by Viscid » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:37 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Apparently not:

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 94#p153809" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
It's a hard call. I think your run-of-the-mill person would conflate criticism of the Theravadin institution with criticism of the Dhamma. The Theravadin institution, however flawed, provides a good platform for a thorough investigation of The Buddha's teachings. If a cynical view of it were to spread, much like the cynical view of the Catholic church has spread, it would hasten a demise of the institution which grants such investigation.

If all monks spoke so openly and publicly of the abuses and corruption they've witnessed in the Sangha, perhaps the lay community will become jaded and no longer choose to support it...

On a related note, Yuttadhammo has just recently written a (rather impassioned) post regarding the sexual abuse of children in the Sangha.

http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/2011 ... e-silence/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I find it fairly hypocritical that this type of behaviour is not met with the same volume of outrage and disgust by westerners as it is when within the context of Catholicism. If these abuses are not accepted, and real change does not occur quickly, then the Theravadin orthodoxy as we now know it will surely fall to scandal.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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

Post by Jhana4 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:19 pm

Viscid wrote: The Theravadin institution, however flawed, provides a good platform for a thorough investigation of The Buddha's teachings.
One of the points of Venerable Dhammika's book is that in Asia, it does not.
If all monks spoke so openly and publicly of the abuses and corruption they've witnessed in the Sangha, perhaps the lay community will become jaded and no longer choose to support it...
That could be a good thing, it could possibly force an improvement.
On a related note, Yuttadhammo has just recently written a (rather impassioned) post regarding the sexual abuse of children in the Sangha.

http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/2011 ... e-silence/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I find it fairly hypocritical that this type of behaviour is not met with the same volume of outrage and disgust by westerners as it is when within the context of Catholicism.
The Asian Sangha is just no part of many American's ( & other westerners ) world. They may not even be aware of it.
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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daverupa
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by daverupa » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:11 pm

Jhana4 wrote:The Asian Sangha is just no part of many American's ( & other westerners ) world. They may not even be aware of it.
Sociology on Theravada Buddhism in the United States generally concludes that there is a phenomenon of "parallel congregations", with both Asian-immigrant and American-born groups sharing ritual space but not sharing practices: American-born practitioners tend to focus on meditation, while Asian-immigrants tend to focus on dana and festival-going, even though both groups may attend the same temple. Far from it being something they're not aware of, it's generally a salient difference and "just not my/our style", to paraphrase the most common sort of response.

While Asian-immigrants tend to treat monastics with great bodily respect, most American-born Theravadans tend to treat monastics the way they treat college professors. The criticisms of "The Broken Buddha" do not necessarily apply in the same way, if at all, in these new contexts; in short, the work is becoming outdated.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:14 am

Jhana4 wrote:
Viscid wrote: The Theravadin institution, however flawed, provides a good platform for a thorough investigation of The Buddha's teachings.
One of the points of Venerable Dhammika's book is that in Asia, it does not.
Which is demonstrably false, given that Asia is where a large number of current Lay and Monastic teachers in the West trained.

If the Theravada had not been limping along in some semi-functional form in Asia there would be no Theravada Buddhism in the West.

:anjali:
Mike

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

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:36 am

It's just another book and in my opinion heavily shaped by Ven Dhammika's own monastic experience. I'm sure that if the Ven had stumbled into Wat Pa Barn Tard (for example) as a young man he would be writing very different books.

What are our expectations of a living religion that is over 2500 years old and which has millions of adherents? Theravada Buddhism is what it is and as Mike points out it still seems to be producing benefit.

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

Post by James the Giant » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:01 pm

For me, "The Broken Buddha" was an eye-opener.
Before I read this book I had a very rosy, idealistic view of bhikkhus and monastic life. I thought all bhikkhus would be hard-working, serious meditators, and of course they would all follow the vinaya; the Buddha himself laid down those rules, why would a monk not follow them?! I thought monasteries were sincere, intense places, where laypeople and bhikkhus alike strove towards the cessation of suffering.

When I got to know some actual real-life bhikkhus, they sensed this idealistic view in me and recommended I read some books that would challenge that view.
They recommended I read that Phra Peter book "Little Angels", where 10 out of the 12 novices are only in robes because it is a way for them to escape poverty. Only one of the novices had any inclination to actually become a bhikkhu when they reached 20. That startled me.
I read that trashy book "What the Buddha Never Taught", which while superficial, shallow, and biased, did at least give me a little more perspective on the failings of real-life bhikkhus.
And of course Broken Buddha, which was the biggest eye opener of all.
Plus meeting real bhukkhus in a couple of monasteries here in New Zealand... one of them only meditates at morning and evening puja, he says he's no good at it, and will leave it for the next life. He said his aim in this life was to accumulate merit, and perhaps he would be able to meditate better in future rebirths. What!?

Like many people have been saying in this thread, Broken Buddha does present a side of the sangha that some westerners are not aware of.
That is certainly true in my case, and I value this book for showing me that.
However, I don't think I would advise other people read it, especially my friends and family. They don't know anything about Buddhism in the first place, and for them to read this book would leave them with an overwhelmingly negative view of the sangha.
But for me - someone who is seriously considering going forth and who had an unrealistically idealised view of the sangha - it is very useful.
I still intend to ordain, and the book has perhaps prepared me a little... made my eventual encounter with lazy bad monks less of a shock.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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

Post by Jhana4 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:45 am

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

Post by manas » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:57 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
manasikara wrote:After I read 'The Broken Buddha' my relationship with the Theravada as an institution / religious organization was changed. My formerly rose-coloured glasses were well and truly broken. I found myself unable to attend Theravadan religious gatherings for quite a while, but I did not ever consider giving up meditation practice or accepting guidance from the pali canon. So it actually strengthened my conviction in the Teachings by making me see that they (Buddha's Teachings) are far greater than any one sect that might claim to best embody them (and does not every sect claim this?).

I have met Ven. Dhammika a few times when he visited Melbourne. I don't think he wrote TBB out of bitterness, he is just what is termed a 'whistleblower' and every organization needs one, even Theravada Buddhism (the institution).
Are you really that easily influenced by information at face value? When I read Dhammika’s rant I chuckled through parts of it because I have also seen such and more in the wats, temples and vihāras I have lived in. What is truly distasteful to me is not what the content is pointing to but that a bhikkhu has stooped to such scandal.
I should clarify that. Of course my relationship with Theravadan Buddhism as a religious organization wasn't altered *just* by reading TBB. The book did, however, confirm and explain some of the suspicions I already had (from careful observations in real life), and although I have not been to Asia, I have been to Temples where I could see some of those issues playing out right here in Australia. (No, I'm not going to give names and places, because that would be bordering on or might be taken as gossip etc, and I'm not going there!) Furthermore I actually met with Ven. Dhammika a few times, and although I'm not a follower of his by any stretch, I did get to ask a few questions and sound him out a bit. Let's remember that he remains quite enthusiastic about the Buddha Dhamma, and the Pali Canon as the most authoritative version of the Teachings.

I have to confess that apart from a few quite humourous bits (we all need a good laugh occassionally), I don't particularly like the book (liking something isn't the same as admitting that it might serve some useful purpose despite it's unpleasantness), and I do agree that ideally it would only be read by those who, like most here, are already convinced enough about the Dhamma so as not to lose their conviction over one book. As i said, my conviction in the Dhamma was (ultimately) strengthened, not weakened, because I was able to separate the Buddha Dhamma out from the human organizations that attempt to represent it. The Dhamma is bigger than Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana or any 'Yana' you like. But I suppose that someone new to the Dhamma might get put off (Buddhism) by it.
Drinking the nourishment,
the flavor,
of seclusion & calm,
one is freed from evil, devoid
of distress,
refreshed with the nourishment
of rapture in the Dhamma.

- Dhp 205

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

Post by Jhana4 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:36 am

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

Post by Avery » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:02 am

I was totally engrossed in this book and I believe S. Dhammika has done a great thing by documenting the real state of Theravada Buddhism in the present day. Buddhism faces a crisis in Asia and the growing Western community is in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past.

The only thing I think the book is lacking is some perspective, which is indeed why it is a dangerous book to entrust to strangers. An uneducated reader, who isn't familiar with the way of life in Buddhist countries, might be tempted to think that this is either (1) an inherent failure of Buddhism or (2) an inherent failure of Asian culture. Neither of these is true. For example, he points out that Theravada laity never learn anything of morality-- but offering moral teachings to the lay world was never the primary intention of Buddhism, it's a culturally Christian and Western ideal. It's good for lay people to learn, but only because we as Westerners or moderns can see the effects of that education when it's done right. The fact that S. Dhammika should have reminded us of is that every culture has its own failings which leave room for improvement and change for the better. It's natural to recognize failings like this, but we shouldn't try to blame them on anyone, only provide the impetus for change.

:namaste:

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

Post by Jhana4 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:15 pm

I think you are right, I think different cultures should avoid judging each other. It is a waste of time. I also think you are right that a big part of the value of the book is showing Westerners a side of Asian Buddhism they aren't aware of so they can avoid going to the same place and make something new/better in terms of what western Buddhism will become.
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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pilgrim
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Re: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by pilgrim » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:00 pm

TBB puts into words what many are already aware of. In this context it is useful to accurately identify the problems . Denying the problems won't make them go away.

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

Post by Jhana4 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:52 pm

pilgrim wrote:TBB puts into words what many are already aware of.
Mabye "many" but not enough. A similar point is brought up every time this thread is bumped up with a new post. I don't believe it. Every time the "this is nothing people don't already know, can we sweep it under the rug?" point is brought up at least a few very well studied people come forward to say that they had no idea those issues existed until they read "The Broken Buddha" by the Venerable S Dhammika.
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 tiltbillings » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:58 pm

Jhana4 wrote: Every time the "this is nothing people don't already know, can we sweep it under the rug?" . . . .
Sweep what under the rug? Bad scholarship, clumsy ham-handed criticism?
>> 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: "The Broken Buddha" by Ven. S. Dhammika

Post by Jhana4 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:05 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Jhana4 wrote: Every time the "this is nothing people don't already know, can we sweep it under the rug?" . . . .
Sweep what under the rug? Bad scholarship, clumsy ham-handed criticism?
You are welcome to your opinion.
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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