respecting sangha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

respecting sangha

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:31 pm

does anybody else have trouble paying respect sufficiently to sangha. me, i for longest time had trouble calling most anyone sir or maam. sometimes i use a monks name referring to them without ven and it doesnt feel right, tho it also feels disingenuous just slipping it in
buddha said the sangha is worthy of gifts and reverence, unless they are not a monk, in the sense they have committed an offense entailing expulsion

i had some trouble with my local temple at first because the monks live sort of a householders life. i dont doubt they are real monks, but they also perform the duties that an attendant would, one thing which is apparently common
there was one comment i made on here a while back that i would rather have deleted where i just said 'the bhikkhu', which on further reflection is not really an insult, i just thought i should have not said the comment in question or else addressed it with 'the venerable' or something
i also find myself substantially disagreeing with some monks/nuns which of course is not a problem, but it always feels weird 'attacking' them. im still figuring out how to be a good layperson, what about you
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

User avatar
JamesTheGiant
Posts: 516
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:41 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: respecting sangha

Post by JamesTheGiant » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:57 pm

Yes, and it's really difficult when I interect with a monk who is clearly incompetent, or stupid. There's a monk I know, an Ajahn of 21 years seniority, and he can't even say "Theravada" properly. He keeps on mixing up hindu, mahayana, and theravada doctrines and teaching them all. And he thinks people esteem him, whereas most of the people I know who go to that temple just tolerate him as fool. It is difficult!
I try to focus on his good qualities.
When I bow to him, I keep it firmly in my mind that I'm bowing to the robe, not the person.
And I never call him Ajahn. I always call him Bhante, or Venerable. Ajahn means teacher, and he's never taught me anything except tolerance!

User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

Re: respecting sangha

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:44 am

good point in bold. dakkhinavibhanga sutta says an offering to the sangha is greater than an offering to an individual. when i give alms, i force myself to think that and also that giving is a support for the mind and to dedicate my merit to the devas
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:37 am

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:31 pm
does anybody else have trouble paying respect sufficiently to sangha.
Absolutely.

For me, the biggest issue is that monks can sometimes be too friendly to lays, or appear too lay-like. For example, when they make references to secular literature and films, music videos, especially when they do so in humor. There's a monk I greatly appreciate, and he is very knowledgeable in the suttas and Pali. And yet, on so many occasions, he makes so many secular references or is humorous, that he becomes a companion in ruinous fun. Because of this, it is very difficult for me to show him proper respect, or take the Dhamma seriously. I know one is supposed to bow to the robes. Yet in regard to him, I find that impossible.
me, i for longest time had trouble calling most anyone sir or maam. sometimes i use a monks name referring to them without ven and it doesnt feel right, tho it also feels disingenuous just slipping it in
Agreed. There isn't enough of the Culture of the Noble Ones. Not just on the part of the lays, but also on the part of some monastics, who, apparently in an effort to be humble, become plebeian, or otherwise inappropriate.

Another troubling phenomenon are monks who are at first on too friendly terms with lays, but who, after a while, demand to be given proper respect. It's confusing.
i also find myself substantially disagreeing with some monks/nuns which of course is not a problem, but it always feels weird 'attacking' them. im still figuring out how to be a good layperson, what about you
Same here.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
dylanj
Posts: 799
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:48 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Re: respecting sangha

Post by dylanj » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:14 am

me too re: all above
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

Re: respecting sangha

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:53 am

a monk asked me if i had a girlfriend once lol
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

justindesilva
Posts: 824
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:38 pm

Re: respecting sangha

Post by justindesilva » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:41 am

Even at the time of lord budda there had been monks of various characters obvious from suttas
Even Devadatta opposed budda. But lord budda with his virtues did not blame the sangha but had often refefred to a senior sangha for correction.
The value of sangha remains as they are dedicated to store the knowledge of darma and teach it to laymen. From the past it was the sangha community who stored the damma in their memory and restabilised at the 1st sangayana and then later at other sangayana. They are the community who made scripts of tripitaka and in the near past who translated the tripitaka for international media. Even now the maha sangha as a community conducts regreats , damma schools and attends at social events ass funerals, 3rd month and other memorial services of buddhists. Thougb I can relate so much more of their servies I shall stop now to quote "sangan saranam gaccami", As buddhists let us stay away from hatredness as we have so much more to gain from them. Though they are sangba , they too have to cultivate many virtues in dedication.

User avatar
pilgrim
Posts: 1551
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:56 pm

Re: respecting sangha

Post by pilgrim » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:29 am

I respect monks for their knowledge of the suttas and meditation experiences but every so often when I get to know them better, I am disappointed when I realise that many of them would also believe in all manner of pseudo-science and quack cancer cures (and sometimes include them in their talks). :rolleyes:

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 11871
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, Estados Unidos de América
Contact:

Re: respecting sangha

Post by DNS » Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:52 am

There could be some culture clashes at play. In traditional Buddhist (and Asian) culture, one is to show respect to an ordained monk or priest simply due to the ordination status / title and one can pay respect to the "robe" instead of the person when one is not particularly fond of a specific person with title.

In Western cultures, respect has to be earned. We might show respect to a person for their learning, knowledge, sports achievements, etc but only when we see such achievements and knowledge for ourselves, not simply from a title.

I can see some value in both approaches, but like other posters here, I tend to lean toward the latter, showing respect to those who deserve it and "earn it" so to speak, but then again, I'm a Westerner too, so might be culturally biased.

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:47 am

DNS wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:52 am
In Western cultures, respect has to be earned. We might show respect to a person for their learning, knowledge, sports achievements, etc but only when we see such achievements and knowledge for ourselves, not simply from a title.
I think that in Western culture, there are big differences in this regard, depending on socioeconomic class.
I think that what you say applies primarily to the upper class.
But there is a part of the middle class, the pseudo burgeoisie, where title is everything.
DNS wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:52 am
There could be some culture clashes at play. In traditional Buddhist (and Asian) culture, one is to show respect to an ordained monk or priest simply due to the ordination status / title and one can pay respect to the "robe" instead of the person when one is not particularly fond of a specific person with title.
But even in Western culture, in general, we are often expected to show respect based merely on the person's title, even more so when the person is in a position of power -- such as toward police officers, doctors, people in high political positions, and of course, bosses. Many people have had many bad experiences with these people, or are wary of them because of the power differential and what that means for them as being in the lower position.

I think part of the problem that a Western faces when expected to show respect to Buddhist monks simply based on their title is because the Westerner is operating out of the above mental blueprint of having to show respect by default, thus bringing in the resentment because of the power differential. Even though with monks, the power differential might not actually be there or intended by the monk, it's the idea of showing them respect by default that [for an unreflecting Westerner] makes any interaction with a monk the same type of interaction as with a police officer or a boss. Ie. (highly) uncomfortable and something one resents.

All this is exacerbated by the way Asians and Asian supremacists tend to interpret the Westerner's discomfort about showing monks respect by default. Namely, that we're envious, that we think we're all equal, that we're liberal, and such.
And while some Westerners are like that, not everyone is. I think many just never had an opportunity to learn to respect others without this respect for others coming at the price of one's own self-respect. And the Asians and Asian supremacists, with their own prejudices and preconceived notions about Westerners, aren't helping either.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

justindesilva
Posts: 824
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:38 pm

Re: respecting sangha

Post by justindesilva » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:36 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:47 am
DNS wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:52 am
In Western cultures, respect has to be earned. We might show respect to a person for their learning, knowledge, sports achievements, etc but only when we see such achievements and knowledge for ourselves, not simply from a title.
I think that in Western culture, there are big differences in this regard, depending on socioeconomic class.
I think that what you say applies primarily to the upper class.
But there is a part of the middle class, the pseudo burgeoisie, where title is everything.
DNS wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:52 am
There could be some culture clashes at play. In traditional Buddhist (and Asian) culture, one is to show respect to an ordained monk or priest simply due to the ordination status / title and one can pay respect to the "robe" instead of the person when one is not particularly fond of a specific person with title.
But even in Western culture, in general, we are often expected to show respect based merely on the person's title, even more so when the person is in a position of power -- such as toward police officers, doctors, people in high political positions, and of course, bosses. Many people have had many bad experiences with these people, or are wary of them because of the power differential and what that means for them as being in the lower position.

I think part of the problem that a Western faces when expected to show respect to Buddhist monks simply based on their title is because the Westerner is operating out of the above mental blueprint of having to show respect by default, thus bringing in the resentment because of the power differential.
Take the example of a magesterial judge. We out of respect to his position in asia and also the west , even if in person , one could be corrupt and known to our knowledge, look upon him for his position. I am aware that in NZ , the eastern and western followers , have a total respect to buddhist priests and offer them there places.
Even in asian countries there are people who identify buddhist priests by looking at certain ways they live.I mean their wealth, their family affiliations, and the behaviors , they exhibit. But if they are a disgrace to the sangha community, there is the sangadhikarana, a panel of authorised high priests to look in to it, just as there is a government body to look after the legal court magistrates.
Therefore the attitude of looking down on sangha is not a matter of western or eastern cultures, but a common self centered ego, whether easterner or westerner.
A true buddhist either in the east or the west have to drop their ego by embracing buddhism.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4487
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: respecting sangha

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:54 pm

The concept of authority (i.e. the legitimate or socially-approved use of power) might also be useful here. "Does the Sangha, or do monks in particular, have the right to control or alter our behaviour, at least more than other people do?" The German sociologist Max Weber came up with a typology which is now about a century old, but which still haunts a lot of discussions around the topic. The three forms of authority he identified are

1) Traditional authority. Applied to the sangha, this is when people offer them respect and tend to accept their advice because it is the customary way of doing things; people cannot or are reluctant to do things differently because it is what they are used to. I have known Sri Lankans and Thais to be somewhat in awe of monks, and to accept correction and even scolding from them, whereas (as per David's point above) Westerners find this alien. They have not lived in the tradition which makes it feel "natural".

2) Legal/rational authority, which basically means in this context that advice and control (such as it is) are accepted because those subject to it perceive it as rational, as the best way of achieving what they want to achieve. Westerners tend to be happy with this as it acknowledges their autonomy; they value teachers if they get good results, or are otherwise "accredited" by formal decree or informal word of mouth.

3) Charismatic authority. Weber defined "charisma" in a narrower way than we would tend to now, and it does of course have it's roots in Christianity. But this is essentially about deference based on the personal characteristics of who we defer to. We get that "wow-factor" from someone, and consequently trust their teaching and advice. I am aware of several individuals within the Forest Sangha tradition (both alive and dead) to whom this applies, and of course such people are found in many traditions. My guess is that this quality is common to all cultures; we certainly still value it in the West, if we are lucky enough to witness it.

Our own particular stance towards authority and respect is very likely to be a mixture of these three types, depending upon circumstance and setting; Weber said they were "ideal types", best used as a heuristic device rather than a factual description.

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:18 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:54 pm
1) Traditional authority. Applied to the sangha, this is when people offer them respect and tend to accept their advice because it is the customary way of doing things; people cannot or are reluctant to do things differently because it is what they are used to. I have known Sri Lankans and Thais to be somewhat in awe of monks, and to accept correction and even scolding from them, whereas (as per David's point above) Westerners find this alien. They have not lived in the tradition which makes it feel "natural".
Coming from a traditionally Catholic country, I don't find this alien at all. "The Catholic priest is always right" goes the motto. Even if he is known to have illegitimate children, to be a drunkard etc. and does other things that go directly against his duties as a Catholic priest, he is still (supposed to be) regarded as an absolute authority who decides How Things Really Are and what The Truth is, and he is allowed to do whatever he wants with the lay folk. Catholic priests also have a long history of physically beating children in religious classes (that are held in churches or adjacent buildings). Adults are expected to cower before him.
It is only recently (since some 20 years or so ago) that some people, even Catholics, started to take issue with that.

If Buddhist monks would start hitting people or spitting on them, I would not be surprised.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:24 pm

justindesilva wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:36 am
Therefore the attitude of looking down on sangha is not a matter of western or eastern cultures, but a common self centered ego, whether easterner or westerner.
Is it even possible for Buddhist monks to not feel like people are looking down on them?
Is it even possible for Buddhist lay people to not accuse others of looking down on monks?
A true buddhist either in the east or the west have to drop their ego by embracing buddhism.
Exactly what I'be been talking about.
You know, people from other religions, too, have this same formula, for their religion. So which one of them is right? Which one of them has The Truth?

It's amazing, the bad faith that so many religious people bring into interactions with others.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
Wizard in the Forest
Posts: 633
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:16 am
Location: House in Forest of Illusions

Re: respecting sangha

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:49 pm

To add to this conversation, let me implant an entirely different perspective.

I'm not Asian, I've got default respect for a monk and have no difficulty offering homage to them ideally, but I have an entirely different concern to think about. I'm a woman, and monks have a vow of celibacy to keep. While I do not think I'm anything appealing (because I have veeeeeery little sense of sexual attraction) I understand some struggle with that so it's less about the respect I pay and the worry that I will carelessly lead a good venerable into painful or difficult mind-states. I am used to Western Society that does not typically have dress codes that would make things easier for a monk. I know in a formal setting it's best to wear white, but aside from this dress code I have no idea what would make the Venerables most comfortable, because I don't really have that sense. The sense of respect I have for anyone who puts Dhamma into practice however, even if it is with other trappings, is greater than most I suspect, because I've not had any luck finding good companions who practice near where I live. All my friends who practice are either in another country, or another place which we can't really just have companionship (noble or otherwise). People who take ANY kind of companionship with someone who practices the Dhamma for granted genuinely confuse me, much less someone who forgets every Venerable who is ordained has made the extra effort to adopt patimokkha restraint. That's mind-blowingly admirable even if they aren't perfect at adopting it everyday. That's just me though.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 97 guests