Go forth, o bhikkhus !

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pilgrim
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Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by pilgrim » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:27 am

"Go forth, o bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the good, for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach the doctrine that is beautiful in its beginning, beautiful in its middle, and beautiful in its ending. Declare the holy life in its purity, completely both in the spirit and the letter." ~ Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.

This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma. However, I feel this admonition by the Buddha is not taken very seriously, except for a small fraction of the sangha. Monks do teach, but mostly if circumstances call for it or asked to do so. They vast majority do not actively follow the advice to make the conscious decision to "Go forth" and make plans, strategies and effort to to spread the Dhamma.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by Goofaholix » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:32 am

pilgrim wrote:"Go forth, o bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the good, for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach the doctrine that is beautiful in its beginning, beautiful in its middle, and beautiful in its ending. Declare the holy life in its purity, completely both in the spirit and the letter." ~ Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.

This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma. However, I feel this admonition by the Buddha is not taken very seriously, except for a small fraction of the sangha. Monks do teach, but mostly if circumstances call for it or asked to do so. They vast majority do not actively follow the advice to make the conscious decision to "Go forth" and make plans, strategies and effort to to spread the Dhamma.
At the time Buddhism had only spread to parts of India...

it appears to have worked.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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ground
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by ground » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:23 am

pilgrim wrote:This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma.
Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.

kind regards

nameless
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by nameless » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:28 pm

Monks are not allowed to teach unless they are asked to do so. Can't find a 'proper' reference, but this page states that
It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation, nor in a situation where the teachings cannot be reflected upon adequately.

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Kare
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by Kare » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:10 pm

TMingyur wrote:
pilgrim wrote:This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma.
Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.

kind regards
A saying of the Buddha is not appropriate for Buddha Dharma?
Mettāya,
Kåre

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daverupa
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by daverupa » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:20 pm

TMingyur wrote:Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.
nameless wrote:Monks are not allowed to teach unless they are asked to do so...
Not quite correct. I think the following excerpt shows that door-to-door evangelism isn't appropriate, but that a "free to the public" speaking engagement is just fine.

---
Sixteen of the Sekhiya Training rules set down how and to whom a bhikkhu should teach Dhamma. These rules are also concerned with the etiquette of showing respect, respect not only for the bhikkhu but more importantly for the Dhamma that he is teaching. (The Great Standards would imply here that modern ways of showing respect and disrespect would be similarly covered by these rules.) These rules prohibit a bhikkhu from teaching anyone he considers to be showing disrespect to the Dhamma. Here is a summary of these Sekhiya Trainings:

"I will not teach Dhamma to someone who is not sick but who:

— has an umbrella; a wooden stick (club); weapon in their hand.

— is wearing (wooden-soled) sandals/shoes; is in a vehicle; is on a bed (or couch); is sitting clasping the knees; has a head wrapping (turban); whose head is covered; who is sitting on a seat while I am sitting on the ground; who is sitting on a high seat while I am sitting on a low seat; who is sitting while I am standing; who is walking in front of me while I am walking behind; who is walking on a pathway while I am walking beside the pathway." (Sekhiya 57-72; See BMC pp.505-508)

How these rules are observed may diverge in different communities. Some will strictly follow the above while others will be more flexible according to modern conditions. As Venerable Brahmava"ngso remarks:

"...These Sekhiyas ensure that one teaches Dhamma only to an audience which shows respect. One may not expound from a soapbox in the marketplace... to the indifference of passers by. However it is common these days in the West for a seated audience, wearing their shoes and maybe even a hat, to respectfully listen to a speaker standing at a lectern... and as the audience is considered to be behaving respectfully according to the prevailing norms there seems no reason why a monk may not teach Dhamma in such a situation." (AB)

source
  • "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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pilgrim
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by pilgrim » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:20 am

The reluctancea and doubt expressed so far is indicative of the attitude today when it comes to missionary work. I am wondering if the zeal to teach was stronger in the past. In the suttas we have monks ( can't remember his name) who made great efforts and sacrifices to travel to the country of Avanti to teach. During Asoka's time monks travelled on dangerous journeys and converted kings and entire communities. Today, this zeal seems lacking and many almost seem embarassed to reveal or admit they have a desire to spread the Dhamma.

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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by befriend » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:34 am

whos worse the man who commits evil, or the man who knows how to stop evil and does nothing?
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:49 am

pilgrim wrote:The reluctancea and doubt expressed so far is indicative of the attitude today when it comes to missionary work. I am wondering if the zeal to teach was stronger in the past. In the suttas we have monks ( can't remember his name) who made great efforts and sacrifices to travel to the country of Avanti to teach. During Asoka's time monks travelled on dangerous journeys and converted kings and entire communities. Today, this zeal seems lacking and many almost seem embarassed to reveal or admit they have a desire to spread the Dhamma.
Consider 50 or 100 years ago, how many Buddhists do you think there were in western countries for example? compare this with today.

More evidence that the glass is not half empty.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

chownah
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by chownah » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:02 am

befriend wrote:whos worse the man who commits evil, or the man who knows how to stop evil and does nothing?
Who is worse, the man who commits evil or the man who know how to stop evil and does nothing, or the man who teaches that someone who does no evil is worse than someone who does evil?
chownah

befriend
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by befriend » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:18 am

so you know how to create goodness in the world and you let the world catch on fire, and you sit back and do nothing. how is that not an act of evil. negligence.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

befriend
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by befriend » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:23 am

idly standing by while you watch people suffer is an evil deed.
Take care of mindfulness and mindfulness will take care of you.

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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:45 am

nameless wrote:Monks are not allowed to teach unless they are asked to do so. Can't find a 'proper' reference, but this page states that
It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation, nor in a situation where the teachings cannot be reflected upon adequately.
The whole section in the above link is worth reading:
Teaching Dharma

The monk as Dharma teacher must find the appropriate occasion to give the profound and insightful teachings of the Buddha to those who wish to hear it. It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation, nor in a situation where the teachings cannot be reflected upon adequately. This is a significant point, as the Buddha's teachings are meant to be a vehicle, which one should contemplate silently and then apply. The value of Dharma is greatly reduced if it is just received as chit-chat or speculations for debate.

Accordingly, for a Dharma talk, it is good to set up a room where the teachings can be listened to with respect being shown to the speaker. In terms of etiquette, graceful convention rather than rule, this means affording the speaker a seat which is higher than his audience, not pointing one's feet at the speaker, not lying down on the floor during the talk, and not interrupting the speaker. Questions are welcome at the end of the talk.

Also, as a sign of respect, when inviting a monk it is usual for the person making the invitation to also make the travel arrangements, directly or indirectly.
Presumably there is a discussion in the Vinaya somewhere which provides background to the statement:
"It would not be appropriate to teach without invitation."
since it seems to be mentioned a lot. Does anyone have a reference?

:anjali:
Mike

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ground
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by ground » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:05 am

Kare wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
pilgrim wrote:This was a very powerful call to spread the Dhamma.
Reminds me of christian missionary attitude. I think such an active attitude is not appropriate for buddha dharma. Dharma is an offer.

kind regards
A saying of the Buddha is not appropriate for Buddha Dharma?
A saying is a saying and grasping an interpretation is grasping an interpretation.


Kind regards

nameless
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Re: Go forth, o bhikkhus !

Post by nameless » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:52 pm

befriend wrote:so you know how to create goodness in the world and you let the world catch on fire, and you sit back and do nothing. how is that not an act of evil. negligence.
I assume you're still talking about the spread of dhamma. The thing is dhamma is not something that you can actively 'spread' to people. Try telling people who have had no experience of Buddhism, maybe they've lost their job, or gotten a terminal disease, try telling them it's ok, everything is impermanent, just meditate (of course I'm simplifying things for the sake of this argument), it's not going to work. Or even the average person in the street, try telling them renouncing and giving up things will make you happier, tell them their suffering comes from their desire, see how that works. There needs to be conditions that draw people to the dhamma.

On the other hand if you try to push it on people who aren't ready to receive it, it backfires. Say, if your first math question was something that was too difficult, you might decide then that maths is not for you, even though if taught properly you might be very good at it. Or if your first Chinese dish was something too exotic, you might think that Chinese food is not for you, even though if you were exposed to a different dish you might have liked it. It's something like that. If you push Buddhism on someone who's not ready, they might decide for good that Buddhism is not for them, even though if left alone they might have decided to accept Buddhism at some point.

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