respecting sangha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:57 pm
:goodpost: :thumbsup:
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
Are you okay with that? Can you respect him all the same, knowing that he could let you die, given that the monk's rules make that allowance for him?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:43 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you. Are you okay with that?
Absolutely. Just because someone has the ability to do something doesn't mean it's an ideal situation to intervene. I am able to do CPR and know this from personal experience because while I'm able to, I would feel emotional dread from an actual situation where this was needed to put this knowledge into practice, and while I want to be able to say 'absolutely I'd do it', it's not impossible for me to just have a panic attack and fail to help either way. Just because you know what to do doesn't mean you're the best person for the job. If I'm drowning do I want the poor samaṇa or monk in robes or do I want the lifeguard? How could I put that kind of pressure on someone? It's unreasonable and I refuse to do that.

Can you respect him all the same, knowing that he could let you die, given that the monk's rules make that allowance for him?
The Monk's job is to teach and practice Dhamma, and that they do that or even learn pali is amazing. Teaching Dhamma or even practicing is pretty difficult, much less living by patimokkha restraint. I still have absolute respect for a monk knowing these rules. It's entirely unreasonable to expect a monk to do what a monk isn't required to do.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by JamesTheGiant » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:45 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
From what you say here and above about finding women repugnant, It sounds like you have done a lot of reading of vinaya and commentaries, and not actually lived with monks, or talked to many monks about what they actually do think.
I can assure you, the vast majority of monks don't think like this. Maybe the zealot 0.01% do, or have forced themselves to think they do.
Monks are regular guys! Normal men, trying to follow the vinaya Yes, but normal men all the same.

Ruud
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Ruud » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:54 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
Are you okay with that? Can you respect him all the same, knowing that he could let you die, given that the monk's rules make that allowance for him?
As an aside, according to Ven. Thanissaro’s Buddhist Monastic Code this is a commentarial addition that is not found in the Vinaya itself. He says that indeed the view is common in Theravada countries but that there is no basis for it in the Canon itself.
Otherwise, the Vibhaṅga does not discuss the issue of bhikkhus who intentionally make active contact with women for purposes other than lust or affection—e.g., helping a woman who has fallen into a raging river—but the Commentary does. It introduces the concept of anāmāsa, things carrying a dukkaṭa penalty when touched; women and women’s clothing top the list. (See BMC2, Appendix V for the entire list.) It then goes into great detail to tell how one should behave when one’s mother falls into a raging river. Under no circumstances, it says, should one grab hold of her, although one may extend a rope, a board, etc., in her direction. If she happens to grab hold of her son the bhikkhu, he should not shake her off but should simply let her hold on as he swims back to shore.
Where the Commentary gets the concept of anāmāsa is hard to say. Perhaps it came from the practices of the brahman caste, who are very careful not to touch certain things and people of certain lower castes. At any rate, there is no direct basis for it in the Canon. Although the concept has received wide acceptance in Theravādin Communities, many highly respected Vinaya experts have made an exception right here, saying that there is nothing wrong in touching a woman when one’s action is based not on lust but on a desire to save her from danger. Even if there is an offense in doing so, there are other places where Buddhaghosa recommends that one be willing to incur a minor penalty for the sake of compassion (e.g., digging a person out of a hole into which he has fallen), and the same principle surely holds here.
Sangadisesa 2, Active contact, derived offences, intention https://www.dhammatalks.org/vinaya/bmc/ ... 1.html#Sg2
Dry up what pertains to the past,
do not take up anything to come later.
If you will not grasp in the middle,
you will live at peace.
—Snp.5.11,v.1099 (tr. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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mikenz66
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:15 am

Thanks Ruud and James...

I agree with James. I can't remember the details, but I recall listening to one of Ajahn Brahm's talks where he described helping one of his mother's neighbours, and being covered in blood from carrying her somewhere.

From my observation of the monks I have intereacted with, it is mostly lay people who get upset if exact protocol is not followed...

:heart:
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Sam Vara
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:21 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:57 pm
:goodpost: :thumbsup:
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
Are you okay with that? Can you respect him all the same, knowing that he could let you die, given that the monk's rules make that allowance for him?
Which monk? How do you know what qualms he has or has not got?

Are monks actively forbidden from saving me from drowning? When there are occasional emergencies threatening life and limb at the monastery, the monks and nuns rush about to help. But if there is a specific point in the vinaya about drowning victims, I'll tell my children to be even more careful around the monastery pond.

The same applies to random people on this forum, doesn't it? Any of them could let me die. Apart from swimming pool lifeguards, my association with people doesn't normally depend upon my prior knowledge that they are obliged to save me in the case of accidents in the water.

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Re: respecting sangha

Post by justindesilva » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:33 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:05 pm
binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:54 pm
I'm quite sure they think that most women are hags anyway.
Sorry Binocular, you're quite wrong here.
Monks are men, like any others. They certainly are affected by women who visit the monastery.
I can speak from experience! Western monasteries and Thai monasteries both.

There is also a story told by Ajahn Chah, where he saw an attractive woman, and then for weeks afterwards had a massive erection which was very frustrating. The slightest touch of his robe against his "parts" meant he was in danger of sanghadisesa. So he went to a secluded kuti in the forest, where he could walk around pulling his robe away from his lower body, without anybody laughing at him.
Ajahn Chah said lust is one of the very last things to be overcome on the path, and the strongest hindrance.
I have heard this story of the priest during lord buddas time. The particular priest trying to follow the vinaya rule of celibacy , failing which had cut off his private part as a last resort. Lord budda who came to know this had commented; " This fool had cut his body part when he should have cut something else" (and that something else is lust.)
I have often noticed that women are attracted to monks for some reason. This is a point of danger to be aware of by buddhist priests.

binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:57 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:45 am
From what you say here and above about finding women repugnant, It sounds like you have done a lot of reading of vinaya and commentaries, and not actually lived with monks, or talked to many monks about what they actually do think.
I'm female. How much do you think I can talk to monks? If I want to talk to a monk, I need to find a suitable adult male to accompany me. You can guess what the scope of the communication will be then. And, of course, I need to respect the rule of the turf above everything else.
I can assure you, the vast majority of monks don't think like this. Maybe the zealot 0.01% do, or have forced themselves to think they do.
Monks are regular guys! Normal men, trying to follow the vinaya Yes, but normal men all the same.
They don't seem that way to me; and, of course, I can't actually ask them.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:00 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:21 am
Which monk? How do you know what qualms he has or has not got?
Are monks actively forbidden from saving me from drowning?
It's been addressed earlier in the thread: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=31727&start=20#p469033

As for the qualms: monks sometimes talk about that in the Dhamma talks they give. I've recently heard one say, in regard to saving people, that a monk's duty isn't to save people, his duty is just not to kill them.
The same applies to random people on this forum, doesn't it? Any of them could let me die.
But you don't have to trust just any of those people with your life.
In contrast, when accepting a monk's exposition of the Dhamma, you put your life in his hands.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:41 pm

binocular wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:00 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:21 am
Which monk? How do you know what qualms he has or has not got?
Are monks actively forbidden from saving me from drowning?
It's been addressed earlier in the thread: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=31727&start=20#p469033
Indeed. It seems to be a situation which is hypothetical (i.e. highly unlikely to arise) as well as based on a misconception.
As for the qualms: monks sometimes talk about that in the Dhamma talks they give. I've recently heard one say, in regard to saving people, that a monk's duty isn't to save people, his duty is just not to kill them.
Quite possibly. When I attend the local monastery and listen to a dhamma talk, I'm not expecting to be saved. If I had that expectation, and the monks had led me to believe that they were there to save me, I might be upset when I heard that. But as I have never expected monk-borne salvation, I'm perfectly OK with the situation.
But you don't have to trust just any of those people with your life.
In contrast, when accepting a monk's exposition of the Dhamma, you put your life in his hands.
Lay supporters working with monks in the forest might put their lives in the hands of monks - they use some fairly dangerous machinery like chainsaws, chippers, and tractors. But when I accept a monk's exposition of the dhamma, I'm just looking to pick up some advice on how to improve my practice. Stuff like how to meditate better, more useful textual exegesis, reminders about how to stay calm when driving. Nothing they say is going to kill me, or save me from imminent death. (Mind you, they are more likely to give me instant psycho-physical salvation than an intelligible explanation of Dependent Origination... :smile: )

You seem to be labouring under some assumptions about monastics that I (and the monastics I know) just don't share. Have you actually met any monks? Did they ask you to do anything that was tantamount to putting your life in their hands? And if they did, why didn't you feel free to discount what they said?

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:09 pm

I could be wrong, but the issue here seems to arise from a pretty Western notion for the culmination of religious life. The life of a Christian is meant to result in "being saved" by someone else, placing the savior role in someone else's hands. The Buddha made it pretty clear that we are meant to save ourselves by practicing. No monk can make us correct our bodily, verbal, or mental conduct; they can tell us what this misconduct is, and how to avoid it through Dhamma practice and personal experience.

On a literal level though to assign blame to monks for not saving the life of another puts a pretty heavy duty on monks for something that not even regular people can typically do. It's as I said before about my practice with learning CPR, saving a life requires an immense amount of training that most people just don't have and add a mental stressor like the potential death of someone from any effort made, and it becomes a pretty ghastly situation and it can lead to simple inaction or calling for help as being the better choice. It's why in a dangerous situation we're typically told to call the authorities and not try and handle it ourselves.

We've gotten off topic though.

The best possible way to respect a monk is to remember they're also regular people like us striving for liberation by taking many strict rules of restraint meant to cultivate mental discipline. If we don't expect something from a regular person, one shouldn't expect it from a monk. They're not Supermen.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

James Tan
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by James Tan » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:54 pm

Perhaps there is a feeling of distance but not towards the monk/nun form , just some aversion at some one personality , attitude , thinking or probably distaste towards a person appearance . It may be monk/nun shortcoming or it could be our shortcoming also .
:reading:

justindesilva
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by justindesilva » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:58 pm

James Tan wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:54 pm
Perhaps there is a feeling of distance but not towards the monk/nun form , just some aversion at some one personality , attitude , thinking or probably distaste towards a person appearance . It may be monk/nun shortcoming or it could be our shortcoming also .
May I say it is our shortcoming of aversion ( vyapada).

binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:36 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:41 pm
Indeed. It seems to be a situation which is hypothetical (i.e. highly unlikely to arise) as well as based on a misconception.
Whether it's a rule in the folk vinaya, or the actual Vinaya, my point was that there is a culture of an absence of any real-world concern among religious/spiritual people. How widely that culture is spread, I don't know, but it's there.
I'm, for example, quite sure that if I were to help in some physical work around a monastery, slip and fall, sprain an ankle or even break a leg, nobody would help me, because they're "too spiritual" for that. In the light of this, I find it hard to respect them.
Quite possibly. When I attend the local monastery and listen to a dhamma talk, I'm not expecting to be saved. If I had that expectation, and the monks had led me to believe that they were there to save me, I might be upset when I heard that. But as I have never expected monk-borne salvation, I'm perfectly OK with the situation.
As for salvation in the metaphysical sense, the situation in Buddhism is actually no different than in, say, Christianity. God doesn't save people, Jesus doesn't save people, people save themselves by adhering to the right religion. It's the same in Buddhism.
How a person is supposed to pick the right religion -- that is taboo.
Lay supporters working with monks in the forest might put their lives in the hands of monks - they use some fairly dangerous machinery like chainsaws, chippers, and tractors. But when I accept a monk's exposition of the dhamma, I'm just looking to pick up some advice on how to improve my practice.

Do you really think that monks are happy to have put in thousands of hours of studying, chanting, pujas, and meditation, so that then you can take their words as mere suggestions?

When monks, and many lays, give Dhamma talks, it is in the language of full conviction, there is no hint of "Oh, but that's just my unenlightened opinion" in the way they speak.

The monks might say that they are merely pointing to the moon, but they have no doubt that they are in fact pointing to the moon. This is the part that has to be taken blindly on faith, just like in Catholicism, one has to take blindly on faith that the RCC is the only true representative of God on earth.
You seem to be labouring under some assumptions about monastics that I (and the monastics I know) just don't share. Have you actually met any monks? Did they ask you to do anything that was tantamount to putting your life in their hands? And if they did, why didn't you feel free to discount what they said?
When questioned directly, few monks would say something to the effect of "nobody gets to nirvana except through me".
But otherwise, when they speak, they speak in a manner that suggests total conviction, like they're sure that what they're saying is The Absolute Truth (and everything else is worthless).

That aside, you don't think it would be grossly disrespectful to actually ask a monk a question like, "What is the normative status of the statements that you make in your Dhamma talks?"
You seem to be labouring under some assumptions about monastics that I (and the monastics I know) just don't share.
Perhaps.
Have you actually met any monks?
They don't actually talk (much) to me, because I'm female. Will you be my adult male chaperon and then we can go and visit some monks and ask them questions like the above?
Did they ask you to do anything that was tantamount to putting your life in their hands?
And if they did, why didn't you feel free to discount what they said?
Because I don't operate within the dichotomy of "either guru worship, or extreme individualism".
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: respecting sangha

Post by binocular » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:44 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:09 pm
I could be wrong, but the issue here seems to arise from a pretty Western notion for the culmination of religious life. The life of a Christian is meant to result in "being saved" by someone else, placing the savior role in someone else's hands.
No. In Christianity, you still save yourself, by picking the right religion. Jesus becomes your savior only after you've made the right choice of religion and only after you adhered to it adequately.
The Buddha made it pretty clear that we are meant to save ourselves by practicing.
Similar in Christianity.
No monk can make us correct our bodily, verbal, or mental conduct; they can tell us what this misconduct is, and how to avoid it through Dhamma practice and personal experience.
Similar in Christianity.
On a literal level though to assign blame to monks for not saving the life of another puts a pretty heavy duty on monks for something that not even regular people can typically do.
Read again what started this:
binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:20 pm
A monk has no qualms about letting you die, even if he could help you; for example, if you're drowning and he could save you.
It's not about obligating them to physically save you. It's about them being indifferent when in fact there's good reason to believe they, as able-bodied adults, could have done something.
The best possible way to respect a monk is to remember they're also regular people like us striving for liberation by taking many strict rules of restraint meant to cultivate mental discipline. If we don't expect something from a regular person, one shouldn't expect it from a monk. They're not Supermen.
When they talk like supermen, they should walk like supermen, or fly, for that matter.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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