Healing the fallout from the Bhikkuni ordination

Here’s a new article from Dennis Sheppard, president of the BSWA, which he has asked me to post here.

Healing the fallout from the Bhikkuni ordination

Dennis Sheppard
President BSWA

Following the direction of the comments on my Presidential address to the BSWA’s March Annual General Meeting over the past month has been very interesting.

The depth and subtlety of the issues identified around the Bhikkuni ordination has been quite remarkable. It has been a pleasure to see these issues unpacked and deconstructed by the many very skilled and knowledgeable blogger’s.

There have been three main sites I have followed that include the BSWA’s own Community Chat Forum and our Dhamma TV site, but probably the site with the most interaction has been Ajahn Sujato’s blog space. (Many thanks to Ajahn Sujato for hosting such a free and open discussion.) I intend to post this response and plea on our own sites and I will ask Ajahn Sujato if he will post it on his as well.

My hope is that all the monks and lay communities that are involved, will see it, read it and allow harmony, friendship and peace to be restored.

One of the main themes that have emerged over the past month is the view that people have seen this trouble as being wider than the Bhikkuni ordination. The feeling is that Ajahn Brahm was out of favor with some of his colleagues before the ordination and the ordination was a catalyst to punish him, or perhaps bring him down a peg or two. In Australia we call it the “tall poppy syndrome”. This does seem to have validity as other monks from the same tradition have subsequently participated (at the same level as Ajahn Brahm) in Bhikkuni ordinations and virtually nothing has been said.

I have been aware of what I have always put down as a relatively friendly rivalry between the Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sumedho method of teaching. The perennial question of whether absorption (jhana) or wisdom is the best approach in meditation. In Australia it is like the debate about whether a Holden car or a Ford is best. In the early days when A.B. was perfecting his practice I can imagine that there may have been some robust discussion amongst the different players to discuss which pathway was the best. A.S. was the established authority in the West at that time and I could well believe that A.B. may have come across as an upstart. Let me say that if that was how people did see him at the time, he is most definitely not that way now! I can attest that he is a very congruent, very sensitive, and a very wise monk. As for A.S, he was one of my first teachers. His clarity and wisdom takes my breath away. He is one of the finest monks on the planet.

The sad thing about today’s events is that it seems some of the perceived ill feeling is still being carried around by some of the monastic observers from that time. Further, it seems they may have infected some others who would not have known anything of what happened.

Having said that and having practiced with and knowing both of these great monks over many years, I am absolutely sure that neither of these two gentlemen carries any of this past stuff with them. They are both greats of the Theravadin tradition.

Given that everyone of us also aspire to peace clarity and stillness as a background to operate our lives from, it remains for the rest of us to examine ourselves, identify any blockages, beliefs or pain that we have created around this issue and move to a place where harmony and peace can prevail. This is my plea to all the monks and laity involved in commenting on or participating in the BSWA and AB lockout.

Please find a pathway through all of this mess to peace and harmony. Harmony must come first before we can expect peace to arise. As a very minimum, if you feel disaffected you must start talking to us. As I have said at the AGM it is no fun being sent to Coventry, and it paints a very poor picture of Buddha’s wonderful pathway. We must all practice to be good role models in the world to demonstrate the truth of the Buddha’s message; otherwise, what is the point?

I know there are many Western monks out side Thailand who wish for this unfortunate episode to be over — monks who would like to visit us and continue their friendship with AB. I am sure that there are also many Western monks in Thailand who would also like to remain friends with the BSWA. This whole issue needs to be raised to a level of maturity. It is unbecoming for us all to keep playing kindergarten politics.

We at BSWA do now understand that Bhikkunis’ in the Wat Pah Pong tradition will be a long way off. Having said that, we do not resile from our position with Bhikkuni’s. For all the reasons already outlined, they are now a permanent part of the BSWA. They are legal inside the Vinaya, they are a fact and we are overjoyed that they are now part of our landscape. We respect and honour WPP, but we do not wish to be reintegrated under the current circumstances.

Being affiliated with WPP would not fit with the BSWA’s constitution. This does not mean we do not want to be friends with you! Our roots are with WPP probably more deeply than many other branch monasteries. We all admire and respect the WPP tradition. Surely we can interact together in a friendly and harmonious way!

I respectfully ask the leadership of the Western WPP and the Thai WPP tradition to accept our overtures for harmony and peace so we can all live and learn together and propagate the Dhamma through this wonderful vehicle of Theravadin Buddhism.

331 thoughts on “Healing the fallout from the Bhikkuni ordination

  1. As a woman; and just accidentally coming across Ajahm Brahm on YouTube when I was looking for something else;… I now listen to him a few hours a day and I do my work reports from home.

    I love his humor; and his upbeat attitude. I especially admire him because of his view as women as spiritual equals. I have to say I would not be so at ‘peace’ listening to a Buddhist Monk who did not feel women was equal in all ways.

    It is because of the ordinations of women that have made me listen to him; and recommend him to others that might enjoy learning about Buddhism too.

    I meditated the first time on Saturday; with a woman’s friend by my fireplace; wow, .. just to AHs (which she said meant gratitude); I fell into a wonderful peace….and saw vividly a Native American the whole time in his task; prayers; etc… I have no idea why; yet, it was so serene when I came out of it. (I owe this A.B. for always talking about meditation so splendidly)

    It is sad that there is conflict even among such a Religion/Way of Life. (and yet, we are all humans; and so I guess there will always be struggles with egos. –just surprised.. since it seems like all who be part of this would want to be peaceful and end any conflicts or examine their motivations.

    Hugs to Ajahn Brahm.

    Betty Ann (NYC)

  2. A great initiative, Dennis. Hopefully this message will be well received by those who have responded to this issue with anger and vindictiveness. It is time to move on…..

    • Hi Pasadeti,

      Thanks for sharing !

      I am happy to see Dennis from BSWA extending his hands in good will and friendship. It also appears that various Ajahns from Amaravati and Cittaviveka in England are happy to see women succeed in this practice. The abbot of the California branch, Ajahn Pasanno also contributes in numerous ways. Hopefully they will get together with Ajahn Brahm for some Thai tea soon . Taste Nirvana !

  3. Healing ummmm..

    I have really tried hard to believe that the Buddha was as respectful to women as he was to men, that his 8 rules for women ordaining is not just for the purpose of placating, or getting women to pander to men and all the accusations regarding women not just projection of a group of people who cannot take responsibility for their own lust and desire but have to blame women for it, what sort of man would expect a women to make room for him on the road or a women who is also ordained to drop to her knees and etc.. I mean if she is also of or nearly of equal spirtual attainment why should she do this.

    I mean it is considered good that he actually didn’t put in the monastic code that they don’t have to wash the monks clothes (it is also good that he didn’t expect them to bake cookies on Sundays, line the towels in the bathroom neatly folded and have dinner on the table at six I suppose), I mean wow gee how forward thinking, actually my job describtion doesn’t say that either umm what do ya know, advancement..please.

    Honestly if I read once more about women having to bow to the feet of a man and the Buddha’s comments on women, well in fact I can’t read any more, I will throw up, he just does not let up on women, what is his problem?

    I think I would be happy to leave ‘his’ monastic code to men.. surely the next Buddha will be ….:a women :) ..please!

    Best wishes

  4. After reading of the President’s desire for the BSWA to not be reintegrated back within the WPP framework.

    In the United Kingdom where I live, there is a distinct lack of samadhi/jhana training and I feel it would have great worth here.

    Ajahn Brahm repeatedly informs us of the need to balance both wisdom and stillness.

    I am grateful for the BSWA for their websites and the posting of the Ajahns’ talks as they have given me great assistance in starting and developing a meditaion practice.

    Could perhaps now be a time for Ajahn Brahm to look towards opening up monasteries himself outside of Australia? I for one would be supportive and full of imense gratitude for such a teaching.

    • :)Could perhaps now be a time for Ajahn Brahm to look towards opening up monasteries himself outside of Australia? I for one would be supportive and full of imense gratitude for such a teaching”

      – Sean, too cool… I have to admire the very suble entrepreneur in you, the way you find a great opportunity in this situation and therefore turn it into something possibly positive; can I follow your lead and suggest that it would be good if AB lived closer to Sydney too – of course I am not being selfish in saying that, really, no really I am thinking of the greater good because it is just that Sydney is easier and cheaper than Perth, it is not so hot and, oh ok basically I am just being selfish ….

    • Dear Sean,

      Ajahn Brahm is unlikely to open a monastery anywhere. To do so would be to create a sort of Ajahn Brahm lineage, and he does not seem interested in that. In the suttas you find that the Buddha himself refused to appoint a successor (DN16), and thus the idea of lineage is not part of the Buddha’s way of going things. At the time of the Buddha, monasteries were generally given to the Sangha of the four quarters (that is, the entire Sangha), present and yet to come. All Buddhist monasteries should therefore be open to any properly practicing monastic, and discrimination based on lineage is simply wrong.

      It is possible, however, to invite specific monastics to establish a monastery. The appropriate procedure in such a case is to invite those individuals one desires as residents; there would be no need to involve Ajahn Brahm. But please keep in mind that even if you were able to get an Ajahn Brahm disciple to establish a monastery in the UK, there is no guarantee that that disciple would be able to teach and inspire in the same way that Ajahn Brahm does. In fact, I would say it is highly unlikely they would. For this reason, you may find that opening an Ajahn Brahm “branch monastery” would not be as rewarding as you may think.

      There are other ways of getting access to Ajahn Brahm’s teachings that are probably more effective. You are already aware of the BSWA website, and that is obviously an important resource. Ajahn Brahm also teaches a number of retreats each year, and you may find it useful to attend one of these. In fact, we now have a purpose-built meditation retreat centre about 1 km from Bodhinyana Monastery. It is located in very peaceful surroundings, and the facilities are first class. If you ever have the chance, it may be worthwhile coming all the way to Perth for a retreat. Ajahn Brahm also holds retreats at various locations outside of Australia, such as Malaysia and Thailand. He has also been teaching retreats in Europe in recent years. If you keep an eye on the BSWA website – see in particular the “Where is Ajahn Brahm” page – you may be able to find a suitable retreat to attend. Lastly, perhaps you should consider coming for a stay at Bodhinyana Monastery itself.

      With metta.

    • Dear Sean and other dhamma friends,

      There are about 300 of Ajahn Brahm’s talks on BSWA site and some very good ones on justbegood.net and buddhistfellowship.org.

      Ajahn Brahm’s retreats are simply wonderful. If one still feels attached to the sensual world but wants to lessen one’s delusions and defilements, I would recommend retreats organised by the Buddhist Fellowship. The upcoming one is in June in Phuket, Thailand.

      And as Ajahn Brahmali has suggested, staying at Bodhinyana will definitely give you a taste of peace and happiness. I stayed there for a week and honestly did not want to go back to where I’m living. In fact, I found the first few days very difficult to tolerate all the noise and nonsensical chatters of people around me. I now have greater admiration for Ajahn Brahm for taking time off his peace at the monastery to come to the city and go all over the world to give talks and inspire people.

      The monastery, with its natural tranquility and kind and peaceful residents, is the most physically peaceful, mentally relaxing and spiritually inpiring. Staying there, you will have a chance to seek Ajahn Brahm’s or Ajahn Brahmali’s wise advice or clarifications on dhamma issues.

      I’m so grateful that we have found great teachers like Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Brahmali.

      Yours in the dhamma,

      Dheerayupa

    • You’re most welcome. The metta series is excellent for lay people who are still very attached to the sensual pleasures. The enlightenment series is a great easy-to-understand introduction to Buddhism.

      Much metta,

    • This looks like a fundraising event that the organizers arrange. However, dhamma talks should be free . Maybe someone can provide further information on how this is in accordance with the Vinaya. I don’t believe the monks in the West are possessing / or spending money though.

    • I’m more than sure that Ajahn Brahmali is definitely not getting anything out of this event – neither food nor money. Ajahn’s role there is to give an inspiring talk while laypeople and their families enjoy food for the heart as well as food for the tummy.

      I think it is a fund-raising event as BF organises lots of programs to help people.

      Ajahn Brahmali is one belonging to the rare species of monks – Very Respectable.

      Much metta,

      Dheerayupa

    • Yes it is a fund raising event and I’m sure Ajahn Brahmali is not receiving direct payment to give the talk. I still find it a bit odd though. Without the Dhamma talk there would be no event just a lunch. The Dhamma talk is almost being given as after dinner entertainment.

      I guess that we have to accept that the monastic life has come a long way from the time of Lord Buddha, with international teaching tours and seminars, blogs and birkenstocks. It’s almost like a profession – food for thought.

    • I think I understand what you mean, Peter.

      However, I’m truly grateful that some monks come out of their peaceful monastery and even take trouble of going to other countries to give talks to teach and to inspire, and some sacrifice their time to start a useful blog to provide a forum to discuss dhamma.

      If not, my life would suffer a greatest loss of spiritual leaders.

      Thank you, Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Brahmali and Ajahn Sujato for your sacrifice.

      Much metta,

      Dheerayupa

    • Dheerayupa
      I certainly admire the spirit of openness and appreciate that Ven. Sujato has provided a platform for us all to talk about and possibly work through certain topics. I enjoy having the opportunity to put forward my views and hopefully give in some way. :)

    • Dear Peter and everyone,

      I should perhaps clarify how these teaching trips to Singapore work. I usually go to Singapore once a year at the invitation of the Buddhist Fellowship to give a certain number of talks. I am not at all involved in organising those talks, and I trust the Buddhist Fellowship to arrange things in the appropriate way. I had no idea until I read it here that I would be giving talk during a fundraising lunch. Please note that this is a fundraising for the Buddhist Fellowship and not for Bodhinyana Monastery. Neither I nor any other monk at Bodhinyana Monastery will get any direct or indirect benefit from the money raised.

      During my trip to Singapore there will no doubt be donations given towards the running of Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth. But I certainly don’t go there with the intent of receiving donations. I go there simply because I am told people want to listen to my talks. Apart from practicing the Dhamma, giving talks is one of the ways a monastic can repay the lay community for their generous support.

      With metta.

    • Thanks for replying to this one personally, ven. It’s understandable that an event like this might seem a bi strange, but as Sylvester also noted, it is part of a culture, in which the simple presence and a few kind words by a monk can help contribute towards a successful charity event that will benefit many people. If the fundraising is for the BF, then we can be sure that the money raised will be put to wonderful use to help support the Dhamma in Singapore. I would also add that the Buddhist Fellowship is an extremely well-run and effective Dhamma organization, and if anyone has questions about the fundraising, I am sure the BF would be happy to address them.

    • And as a member of the Buddhist Fellowship who was personally present (as a busy-body :) )to witness how one of the ExCo members approached Ajahn Brahmali at Jhana Grove last October to extend the invitation to visit S’pore, I can vouch that it was all done in a “business”-like manner.

      The only “business” discussed was Dhamma outreach, and not once did I get the faintest impression that there were strings attached etc. I was so moved by Ajahn Brahmali’s generosity in agreeing.

      This sort of charity dinners are de rigueur in Singapore, whether for secular philanthropic purposes or with a guest monk who cannot join in the victuals! I think the Bodhinyana monks and alumni are so well-known in Buddhist Fellowship in their observance of the precept against money, that everytime a “newbie” attempts to offer a red packet, the older members would scramble to prevent the donor from depositing the money into the monk’s hands.

    • Dear all,

      Thanks for providing further details. Maybe it is not a bad idea to invite monks to come and contribute to the event/ celebration with wholesome dhamma talk. After all, there is no reason why monks should only share the dhamma at the temple and not at other social gatherings such as celebrations and funeral , etc..

      I think people that enjoy the dhamma should invite monks to contribute at various special events with wholesome dhamma talks that inspire people to do good deeds as an expression of compassion and abandon unwholesome words , thoughts, and actions.

      Perhaps the flyer or announcement can be a little bit clearer to avoid misunderstanding that he or she is charging for dhamma talk. Other than that , it makes sense to invite monks to give talks at Vesak celebration and the like.

      By the way, this year marks the 2600th VESAK Anniversary of the Buddha’s Sambodhi ‘Enlightenment’. It is a very important celebration.

      Happy Vesak Everyone,

    • I didn’t imagine Ajahn Brahmali was getting paid for the event I just found the way it was being “sold” a little odd.

      It does seem to me that monastics are constantly crisscrossing the globe now. To give this 10 day retreat here or to attend that seminar there. A pilgrimage to this holy spot or an excursion to that place of outstanding natural beauty. They go to places that I can only dream of (Kailash). Many seem more like globe trotting academics/ambassadors/evangelists rather than mendicants (even those who keep good vinaya). A long way from the mendicant of yore .

      Pamsukuladharam jantum
      kisam dhamanisanthatam
      ekam vanasmim jhayantam
      tamaham brumi brahamanam.

      dhp 395

    • Dear Peter,

      I would say that it would minimize misunderstanding to state on the announcement that a bhikkhu will be contributing to the event with dhamma talk .

      And, even during the time of the Buddha he sent his disciples out to share the dhamma after they have spent time developing themselves. The Buddha too traveled as far as he can to share the dhamma:

      “Bhikkhus , I am free of all bonds (snares), human and celestial. And you, too, are now free. Wander forth, O bhikkhus, for the welfare of the multitude, for the world’s happiness, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. Let not two go the same way. And teach, O bhikkhus, the dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end; with the right meaning and phrasing; to all who hear, proclaim the perfect, the pure, the holy life. There are some who are not blinded by the dust of the earth, but they will not find liberation if they do not hear the dharma proclaimed. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma. I too, bhikkhus, will go to Senanigama in Uruvela in order to teach the Dhamma.” ( SN 5.5 )

      There are people in various locations of the world who have an appreciation for dhamma and made arrangements to invite the bhikkhus to give dhamma teaching. We shouldn’t limit bhikkhus to a particular location or to their monastery. It is a sangha of the four quarters after all. So I wouldn’t be surprise if the laymen and laywomen assemblies from one location invite bhikkhus and bhikkhunis sanghas from other quarters of the world to give a teaching.

      With metta,

    • I think it is great that a group of lay practitioners get together to celebrate Vesak , listening to dhamma talk, engage in service projects and activities.

    • Yes, there are monks in Singapore.

      But that is irrelevant, when one takes into account how Buddhist associations “crystallise”. Membership decisions in Singapore are typically made on whether or not a particular monk or temple is affiliated with that association. People are drawn to join an association on the basis of the access that association gives the member to a particular monk, or monastic tradition, or even temple services.

      In much the same vein, when a person joins the Buddhist Fellowship, that decision would have been based, in part, on the availability of monks or alumni of Bodhinyana. I don’t get the feeling that members who flock to BF in droves do so because of the other teachers. Our membership choices are emotional ones, based on whose teachings strike a chord.

      As far as I can tell, the invitation to Ajahn Brahmali to teach for a bit over the Vesak period was made last year and there was certainly no talk about the gala then. To not invite Ajahn Brahmali to be a guest of honour at a charity gala when he is smack in the middle of a teaching engagement in BF would be such poor form (even if Ajahn Brahmali would not mind).

      My sense is that such a communal fund-raiser is not that different from the communal merit-making event described in one of the suttas, where a wanderer invited the Buddha to a feast in which others had been invited to contribute to the dana. The major difference being that poor Ajahn Brahmali can only watch us eat.

    • iMed said: “We shouldn’t limit bhikkhus to a particular location or to their monastery. It is a sangha of the four quarters after all.”

      Totally agreed! If Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Brahmali had to limit their accessibility only for those in Perth, life in Bangkok would be very, very dreadful for me.

      Yes, there are other monks in Bangkok and in Thailand. Unfortunately for me, I’ve found Ajahn Brahm’s teachings ‘strike a chord’ in my thick skull, as Sylvester kindly put. :)

    • Ooops! What I meant was — unfortunately for me, I’ve found very few Thai monks’ teachings other than Ajahn Brahm’s that could strike a chord in me.

    • Well it does seem that Theravada Buddhism has caught up with the celebrity culture of our modern age and the life of an alms mendicant has changed significantly.

    • Dear Peter,

      It just means that they choose whoever they feel like, it is a basic freedom that shouldn’t be impinged on by anyone.

      What has changed significantly about the life of an alms mendicant , and what is the problem with it.

    • iMeditation, of course the Buddhist Fellowship are free to invite who they like and if by inviting Ajahn Brahmali it is going to help with ticket sales and thus raise more money maybe it is a good idea on their part.

      I have pointed out some of the changes in life style, that I see, in earlier posts. To me many monks seem more like “professionals” rather than “renunciants”. I think the initial going forth often turns into a carear path. Maybe there is no problem with that but I think that is a subjecct worthy of consideration.

    • I understand your thinking there Peter and must admit it makes me a little suspicious when I see the ordained with the rich and famous etc, then I think well it they are getting the dharma out there to people who may not necessarily go to temples etc then it must be a good thing.

      At a dinner that costs $800, like this yes I see your point but from another point of view it is a dinner is to raise money for a good cause then they would probably need a respected member of the Sangha to add crediblity, otherwise anyone could go around having dinners saying it was for in the interests of the Dharma and charge $800.

      I am sure the Ajahn would not be able to support anything not in line with the Dharma so i think you have to put your trust and faith in the fact that having studied the Dharma for so long they no what they are doing, you would hope anyway.

      If the Ajahn was supporting a dinner to raise money for the local fishing industry for example or for a new poker machine at the local club or something and getting paid for it, or the money was going to the monestry…. umm now that would be a career move and a bit of a worry!

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote:
      ” if by inviting Ajahn Brahmali it is going to help with ticket sales and thus raise more money maybe it is a good idea on their part.”

      Maybe that is the only reason you can see for inviting someone , but let us not assume that others are the same as well and project that onto them. How come it haven’t occurred to you that people invite him because he knows the sutta , keeps the Vinaya, and practice meditation. He inspires others to do the same as well. Maybe that is the kind of monk people want to learn from in particular and not just anyone, therefore decided to invite him although it is far away and would require more effort to arrange on their part. Again, please be mindful of our words relating other people or their organization and show people respect. And please, give people the benefit of the doubt, so that we don’t end up accusing innocent people.

      Peter wrote: “I have pointed out some of the changes in life style, that I see, in earlier posts…..Maybe there is no problem with that but I think that is a subjecct worthy of consideration.”

      You mean teaching far away ?

      Should the SF withdraw their invitation as well , just like what someone did to Ajahn Brahm’s Vesak Celebration.

      Monks travel to distant places to teach the dhamma even before airplanes are invented. For example, Mahinda , Sanghamitta, Bodhidharma. As long as a monk is traveling to teach or learn and stick to the rule of not possessing money and spending money, then there is no problem. The Buddha himself doesn’t set a limit for a monk to only teach to people in one area and not other area. If someone has a problem with that then that is their personal problem. Why should anyone make it into their problem as well.

      It is a misconception to think that a monk is suppose to dwell in solitude all his life, or that is all a monk’s life is about. As long as a monk have dedicated a number of years to develop meditation and study the dhamma , there shouldn’t be any issue with him going from place to place to teach . Teaching the dhamma is a spiritual career of the Buddha, and the monks should follow in his footsteps. It is a mutual loving exchange or interaction between the sangha and lay people that have been going on even when the Buddha was alive. It is not very difficult to understanding if look at how a caterpillar retreats inside a cocoon for a period of time to transform itself. Naturally, there comes a time where it emerges. Although solitude retreat is conducive to the development of meditation does not mean that the monks can’t come out and teach after years of practice. There is a time and place for everything. There are time to practice in solitude or develop oneself ( often for some years) , and time to engage and benefit others.

      The Dutiya-saddha Sutta ( AN 8.72) describes a bhikkhu that is complete in everyway:

      1 . Confidence

      2. Virtue ( Sila) – “Bhikkhus, the bhikkhu has confidence, has no virtues by this factor he is incomplete. He should become complete in that factor- `How shall I have confidence and virtues. When the bhikkhu has faith and virtues, then he becomes complete in that factor.

      3. Learnedness- “Bhikkhus, the bhikkhu has confidence and virtues, is not learned, by this factor he is incomplete. He should become complete in that factor- `How shall I have confidence, virtues and learnedness .When the bhikkhu has confidence, virtues and learnedness then he becomes complete in that factor.”

      4. Being a Good Teacher

      5. Move in Society

      6. Confident in Teaching the Gathering

      7. Abide Having Experienced With the Body the Peaceful Releases That Are Immaterial and Destroying Desires.

      8. Abides Here and Now- “Having destroyed desires and released the mind and released through through wisdom does not abide here and now. By this factor he is incomplete. He should become complete in that factor- `How shall I have confidence, virtues, learnedness, become a good teacher, move in the society, become confident in teaching the gathering, experience with the body the peaceful releases that are immaterial and destroying desires, the mind released and released through wisdom abide here and now.

      “When the bhikkhu has confidence, virtues, learnedness, becomes a good teacher, moves in the society, becomes confident in teaching the gathering, experiences with the body the peaceful releases that are immaterial and destroying desires, the mind released and released through wisdom abides realizing here and now, then he becomes complete.”

      “Bhikkhus, the bhikkhu endowed with these eight things is quite serene and complete in every way.”

      About leading retreats?

      That is beneficial to the lay community and it is encouraged of monks who have developed themselves for years.

      About leading trips to the Four places that the Buddha told them to visit?

      Monks have been visiting the places of pilgrimage from far away for over a thousand years , for example, Fa Hien and Huang Tsang ( some spelled Huien Tsang). This is not something that the Buddha would have an issue with. In fact , he would recommend it. Please check the Mahaparinibbana Sutta for detail. If someone wants to establish a new rule where monks can’t visit these places with other people then he or she is more than welcome abide by that rule on his/her own , we don’t have that rule and don’t plan on instating that anytime in the near future .

    • Dear Peter,

      I think it is fine offer criticism when a monastic has done something to break their vinaya or out of line with the dhamma that they represent. However, I don’t think it is necessary to criticize them for the sake of criticizing by criticizing them about everything under the sky. Things like traveling from place to place to share the dhamma as a way to give back to the community, giving meditation retreats to promote inner happiness, going on a spiritual pilgrimage to commemorate the Buddha. They don’t deserve to criticism for these things, especially when it comes to monks that have dedicated a number of years to focus solely on developing themselves beforehand. I would only be concern about it if shortly after someone enters the monastic life, they immediately engage in all sorts of activities instead of spending time in solitude to develop their meditation.

      With metta,

    • Hi iMeditation, I don’t think I have criticized a particular monastic in this thread in fact I think I may have actually praised the actions of one! I also tried to move the conversation on from the particular instance to a broader discussion (that nobody wants to have :) ).

      I feel reluctant to partake in discussion with you as on many occasions, from my perspective, it just seems to be a case of you tell me how it is. You seem to want to validate your every view with a quote from scripture.

      In your above post I think you have twisted my meaning and tried to imply I was saying something that I wasn’t.

      I think that world travel is expensive and it is a luxury and it is something that many lay people cannot afford and monastics should keep that in mind (even if there travel is to teach).

      I think the life style of Theravada monastics has changed significantly and continues to change (particularly in the west) and that we need to reflect on how it is changing and look at the implications and how this has an impact between the relationship between laity and monastics. Is there a point when there is a change from being a monk who teachers to being a teacher who happens to be a monk?

      I find it odd that there is a book on Amazon which has Ajahn Chah as the author and that it is on “sale” (10% off) and that there is a website http://ajahnbrahm.org/.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote:” I also tried to move the conversation on from the particular instance to a broader discussion (that nobody wants to have).”

      I just can’t believe they are even being criticized for things that are totally in line with the dhamma . What else will they not get criticize for.

      Peter wrote: “You seem to want to validate your every view with a quote from scripture.”

      If you are discussing whether someone has done something against the law of a certain country naturally you would refer to the law book of that country to see whether there is a law against the action . In the same way if you want to discuss whether monks traveling to teach is something that is against the dhamma, then you would refer to the dhamma and Vinaya . If you don’t want to discuss about dhamma and Vinaya then don’t accuse monks of doing things that are not in accordance to long held practices.

      Are any of the above quotes not related to what we are discussing. If so in what way? The same goes with other historical information I presented to show that traveling far away to teach is not only done by monks these days but other monks a long time ago as well. The quotes from the scripture show that traveling to teach is something that was done even during the time of the Buddha and not just nowadays .

      Peter wrote: “I think that world travel is expensive and it is a luxury and it is something that many lay people cannot afford and monastics should keep that in mind (even if there travel is to teach).”

      I am aware that many monks in the West do not possess , touch or spend money. For example, if I want to invite them then I will send them a ticket. If you want to complain why I invite them and not you, then it is my freedom to choose whoever I feel like learning from.

      Peter wrote: “I think the life style of Theravada monastics ….. continues to change (particularly in the west) and that we need to reflect on how it is changing and look at the implications and how this has an impact between the relationship between laity and monastics. Is there a point when there is a change from being a monk who teachers to being a teacher who happens to be a monk?”

      A monk is also a dhamma teacher who teaches the dhamma. In certain countries they address every monk as “teacher”.

      I believe while in training or practicing a monk should focus on practicing. But there comes a time when they should share the dhamma with others whether it is through speaking , writing, or other outlet . That is not to say they have to , but it is recommended.

    • iMeditation,

      “I just can’t believe they are even being criticized for things that are totally in line with the dhamma . What else will they not get criticize for.” Who is being criticized, where, and for what?

      “In the same way if you want to discuss whether monks traveling to teach is something that is against the dhamma” Sorry but where did I say it was against the dhamma? I don’t even think like that.

      “don’t accuse monks of doing things that are not in accordance to long held practices.” Where have I done that and if I did why is it a problem?

      “A monk is also a dhamma teacher who teaches the dhamma. In certain countries they address every monk as “teacher”.” I think you have totally missed the point of what I was trying to say (again).

      I find your post yet again highly condescending.

      Oh and you missed out the smiley when you quoted me.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “Who is being criticized, where, and for what?”

      You wrote on April 27, 2011 above: ” It does seem to me that monastics are constantly crisscrossing the globe now. To give this 10 day retreat here or to attend that seminar there. A pilgrimage to this holy spot or an excursion to that place of outstanding natural beauty. They go to places that I can only dream of (Kailash). Many seem more like globe trotting academics/ambassadors/evangelists rather than mendicants (even those who keep good vinaya). A long way from the mendicant of yore .

      “Pamsukuladharam jantum
kisam dhamanisanthatam
ekam vanasmim jhayantam
tamaham brumi brahamanam.
      dhp 395″

      So I asked on April 28, 2011 above: “What has changed significantly about the life of an alms mendicant , and what is the problem with it.”

      You wrote: “I have pointed out some of the changes in life style, that I see, in earlier posts.”

      So I refered to your earlier post that you wrote above April 27, 2011 above.

      Peter wrote: “Sorry but where did I say it was against the dhamma? I don’t even think like that.”

      You wrote on April 27, 2011 above:
      “A long way from the mendicant of yore .”
      Pamsukuladharam jantum
kisam dhamanisanthatam
ekam vanasmim jhayantam
tamaham brumi brahamanam.
      dhp 395″

      Peter wrote: ” Where have I done that and if I did why is it a problem?”

      You said monastics are “crisscrossing the globe ” and that it is ” A long way from the mendicant of yore .” Therefore I present you with information showing that monks have been traveling long distances to teach since the time of the Buddha, but you have a problem with the information presented from the sutta. Why is it a problem ?

      Peter wrote: “Oh and you missed out the smiley when you quoted me.”

      I copied and pasted your statements and the smiley didn’t transfer. If it is so important to you then here you go – :)
      No hard feelings.

    • Dear Peter,

      This is also what I am referring to:

      You wrote on an earlier post ” I guess that we have to accept that the monastic life has come a long way from the time of Lord Buddha, with international teaching tours and seminars, blogs and birkenstocks. It’s almost like a profession ”

      I should have located the post and quoted in my post earlier to avoid unnecessary confusion .

    • That is why I wrote: “I just can’t believe they are even being criticized for things that are totally in line with the dhamma . What else will they not get criticize for.”

      Then you asked : ” “Who is being criticized, where, and for what?”

      The monastics that are teaching far away. To avoid confusions , I will post your statement below again:

      ” I guess that we have to accept that the monastic life has come a long way from the time of Lord Buddha, with international teaching tours and seminars, blogs and birkenstocks. It’s almost like a profession ”

    • iMeditation, is the statement quoted above incorrect? Now if you followed the conversation you will see that afterwards I expressed my appreciation for Ven Sujato’s blog. I was not saying monastics should or should not blog (same goes for teaching tours, seminars and birkenstocks) I was pointing to the changing life style of monastics today. Is this subject not open for discussion?

      To answer your question from your post May 2 2011 9:28 am you say “Therefore I present you with information showing that monks have been traveling long distances to teach since the time of the Buddha, but you have a problem with the information presented from the sutta. Why is it a problem ?” again you are changing my meaning. I do not have a problem with the “information” presented from the sutta. It is how it is presented.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: ” Now if you followed the conversation you will see that afterwards I expressed my appreciation for Ven Sujato’s blog. I was not saying monastics should or should not blog (same goes for teaching tours, seminars and birkenstocks) ”

      Are you referring to your comment on Apr 26 below:

      ” Dheerayupa
      I certainly admire the spirit of openness and appreciate that Ven. Sujato has provided a platform for us all to talk about and possibly work through certain topics. ”

      After that you wrote:

      Apr 27 2011 3:28 am
      “It does seem to me that monastics are constantly crisscrossing the globe now. To give this 10 day retreat here or to attend that seminar there. A pilgrimage to this holy spot or an excursion to that place of outstanding natural beauty. They go to places that I can only dream of (Kailash). Many seem more like globe trotting academics/ambassadors/evangelists rather than mendicants (even those who keep good vinaya). A long way from the mendicant of yore .

      Pamsukuladharam jantum
      kisam dhamanisanthatam
      ekam vanasmim jhayantam
      tamaham brumi brahamanam.

      dhp 395″

      Accordingly, I take it that you only refer to blogging when you said ” platform” and not” ( same goes for teaching tours, seminars and birkenstocks) ” as you just added .

      That is why I wrote on Apr 27 2011:

      “And, even during the time of the Buddha he sent his disciples out to share the dhamma after they have spent time developing themselves. ……We shouldn’t limit bhikkhus to a particular location or to their monastery. It is a sangha of the four quarters after all. ”

      You replied:
      Apr 27
      ” following on from your post; are there no monks in Singapore?”

      —————————————-
      Peter wrote: “To answer your question from your post May 2 2011 9:28 am you say “Therefore I present you with information showing that monks have been traveling long distances to teach since the time of the Buddha, but you have a problem with the information presented from the sutta. Why is it a problem ?” again you are changing my meaning. I do not have a problem with the “information” presented from the sutta. It is how it is presented.”

      Let me go back to quote exactly what I was referring to:

      You wrote on May 1st: “You seem to want to validate your every view with a quote from scripture.”

      I replied: “If you are discussing whether someone has done something against the law of a certain country naturally you would refer to the law book of that country to see whether there is a law against the action . In the same way if you want to discuss whether monks traveling to teach is something that is against the dhamma, then you would refer to the dhamma and Vinaya . If you don’t want to discuss about dhamma and Vinaya then don’t accuse monks of doing things that are not in accordance to long held practices.

      Are any of the above quotes not related to what we are discussing. If so in what way? The same goes with other historical information I presented to show that traveling far away to teach is not only done by monks these days but other monks a long time ago as well. The quotes from the scripture show that traveling to teach is something that was done even during the time of the Buddha and not just nowadays .”

  5. Update on the Saranaloka Nuns’ Community – San Francisco USA

    From the Board of Directors of the Saranaloka Foundation
    (Jill Boone, Lisa Domitrovich, Wren Writhers)

    (Also read letters written in 2010 that pertain to bhikkhuni ordination

    http://www.saranaloka.org/letter_jill-nuns-11-2010.html#nuns)

    April 17, 2011

    Dear friends,
    As April draws to a close, we are witness to many changes—the ending of some deep and meaningful connections and the opening of a new path forward. We have spent some time coming to this place both as an organization and in support of Buddhist Theravada nuns, many women deserving of respect and care.

    Ajahns Anandabodhi and Santacitta spent the beginning of April at Amaravati Monastery in England, taking official leave of the community there in order to pursue bhikkhuni ordination, which is not offered in the Thai Forest lineage. We share in both sadness at their leaving and a sweetness at arriving at a new beginning. We will recognize this transition on May 7th at the vihara, beginning with the meal offering and followed by a ceremony and celebration. Please join us if you are in the area!

    Their practice and connections to the larger Theravada community remain unchanged and a new affiliation with the North American Bhikkhuni Association (NABA) has begun. Sister Anandabodhi and Sister Santacitta will take official bhikkhuni ordination on October 17th at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, with Ayya Tathaaloka as the preceptor and other bhikkhus and bhikkhunis from North America. Saranaloka is inviting many nuns to attend this ceremony, including the siladhara.

    To prepare for these changes, the Saranaloka Board of Directors expanded its bylaws to include support for the bhikkhunis as well as the siladhara. However, the siladhara have now requested that we ask donors to send donations on their behalf to either the Sanghapala Foundation (America) or the English Sangha Trust (England) instead of Saranaloka. We offer heartfelt metta for their personal spiritual journeys as well and hope that the deep friendships between them and the sisters here will continue. Sister Metta, who has most recently been visiting Oregon and Colorado, returns to England in the beginning of May.

    Saranaloka is extending an invitation to Maria de Cruz, a novice who wishes to join the community in San Francisco. Maria visited last fall and asked to return for a longer stay. Her visa application is underway and we hope it will be successful as she was an excellent addition to the community.

    As we weathered the shifting sands of time and condition, the possibility of a strong advisory board emerged to guide us, when needed, to the next phase of a monastic nuns’ community and to keep us grounded in Dhamma. We have had an outpouring of support and encouragement and are happy to announce that we have created an advisory board of five: Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ajahn Pasanno, Thanissara, Jack Kornfield, and Gil Fronsdal. Collectively, they bring a deep understanding of the Dhamma, the history of Buddhism, impermanence, and the monastic community, and all this with a grounding of life in the West. The Board and the sisters are greatly appreciative of their guidance and care for our nascent community.

    Time moves on. America will have an imprint on Buddhist evolution just as every other nation in the past has influenced its manifestation.

    May we, in America, bring a sense of balance to the gender issues in monastic Buddhism. May monasticism in the feminine form flourish in America and provide opportunity for many more women to experience the joy of deep practice. May we all, women and men, nuns, monks, and lay people, be well and free from harm and danger. May we be at peace and bring heart and empathy to the issues at hand.

    Jill Boone, Lisa Domitrovich, Wren Writhers
    The Board of Directors, Saranaloka Foundation

  6. Thanissara

    I don’t mean to be negative about the fact that women are ordaining, because on the surface it seems like a positive move for humanity; in theory and practise though having read some of the monastic code I cannot see how agreeing to alot of rules that seem to essentially require women to be placating of men while men can be as critical and obnoxious to women as they like a particularly positive thing for women. I have not read all the monastic code, because I just could not continue with it, but isn’t this essentially what it is about?

    Don’t get me wrong I respect men and monks and do actually bow out of respect to a male teacher I have …but that is because I respect his qualities as a teacher but I also bow to a women who is a teacher I respect, actually I believe the Dalai Lama bows to all sentient beings; but in reading the monastic code in this tradition you can’t even bow to women and women are just spoken of in negetive terms over and over again, which would be fine if that is to subdue the ego but the fact is men aren’t and I do not believe that any reasonable person could suggest that men do not have egos as well.

    Essentially what I am asking is by ordaining as women in this tradition are women not just submitting to dominance by and subserviance to men in exchange for a bit more time to practise Dharma in an institutional setting?

    Regards

    Daisy

    • daisy – hi
      well i have to admit with all the pounding away (and i’ve done my fair amount of pounding) about bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, rules, fairness, etc etc…sutta’s flying around to back up various points of view, my mind is in a state of numbness – it’s hard to see the wood for the trees so to speak – to remember what this is all about..

      Anyhow i diverge from your inquiry… basically i dunno – which is perhaps not such a heartening response given i’m supposed to be some kind of authority..or advisor.

      But i do know these particular women who are taking Bhikkhuni ordination, and i fully support them and their intention to use the nuns life to practice simplicity, hone up their understanding, continue their journey of awakening and respond compassionately within the world..

      i guess they’ll have to negotiate the enormously complex theravada – buddhist -vinaya inheritance to do so – in ways that hopefully supports that intention rather than diminishes it – i trust they will.

      also i support that they are actually doing this independent from a monks community – which is new territory given where they have come from which is a dual community in the UK – that in itself is a complex legacy – so i want to really wish them well and support them and this opportunity they are offering to others – who will be attracted to the life style…

      for myself – well i suppose in spite of feeling like i’d like to chill on some distant beach somewhere – i do actually still have faith that this is an important life style choice to preserve – it carries a certain depth and focus – and allows the jewel of the Buddhist Dharma to continue in the world – the world would definitely be a poorer place without that..

      it would be my hope that the tradition and those who live from within it – can actually help it evolve into a state – while still staying authentic to the guidelines of the Buddha – where being a buddhist nun can actually be a healthy option for women..

      i still think there are some really deep issues to explore from the ‘experiment’ of the last 30 + years in the UK regards what has happened for women who entered into the robes – i hope the community there has the courage to explore these issues in more open ways…

      ok that’s it – i’m about to start pounding away again – in the spirit of Dennis’s letter – respects to everyone – peace!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this Thanissara. I hadn’t seen it yet on the Saranaloka website so was glad for the update.

    While many people who have been on the ‘receiving’ end of the type of painful actions Ajahn Brahm, and those who are supportive of him, have been would not be nearly so gracious (to put it mildly!) in terms of continuing to extend hands and hearts of friendship, forgiveness and inclusiveness, to me the sentiments expressed in Dennis’ letter speak volumes in terms of the practice and embodiment of of Dhamma. Thank you Dennis.

    While I still find myself wishing that senior Western monastics and any others will come forward and ‘apologize’ (and also to seriously redress the issues in their specific communities) to help to heal some of the wounds, not only to repair some of the damage but to also help ‘stop’ the continuing perpetuation of the fracturing of friendships and respect within a larger whole, I realize we each have our own kamma and our own choices to make.

    No matter what, it is heartening that the support for Bikkhunis continues to unfold and gain momentum… As Jill says “May we, in America, bring a sense of balance to the gender issues in monastic Buddhism. May monasticism in the feminine form flourish in America and provide opportunity for many more women to experience the joy of deep practice.” And I would add, in Australia and anywhere else where individuals and communities feel the call to fully support the the 4-found sangha the Buddha established. And as Dennis says: “They are legal inside the Vinaya, they are a fact and we are overjoyed that they are now part of our landscape.”

    May the 4-fold sangha continue to flourish and may we each embody more fully the wisdom and compassion of the teachings we hold so dear.

  8. Hi Thanissaro,

    Well considering everyone is different and has complex karma probably the smartest advice is knowing how and when to give advice or not too.

    Actually if you think about it even if these rules are designed to placate men, well I think that that is pretty smart of the Buddha.

    (1) How else in those times would women have been able to become ordained.

    (2) Going straight from a lay life to ordaining would mean they didn’t do the practises that the Buddha did before hand so they would have been pretty raw, a few may have had some issues and/or like some other women come from rich families, have been spoilt rotten and therefore unable to listen to anything anyone said or live a simply unmatialistic life.

    (3) some people and I am sure I am one of them can be deluded and think they know more than they do

    (3) therefore these rules would teach humbleness for those that needed it,

    (4) would not offend or interrupt those who were already practising the Dharma who were men at the time

    (5) I suppose if people were just following these rules to placate men then they would have had to have that intention which I am certain most nuns would not have so in the end it would work out for the best as they the right intention.

    (6) possibly it was the only way he could see to satisfy the culture of the times, keep the Dharma going and make the eightfold assemble, pretty smart really.

    Anyway I don’t know but thanks for your reply.

    Kind Regards

    Daisy

    • Daisy,

      It might be better for you to not try to understand why Buddha would have laid down the Garudhammas – because he probably didn’t. Certainly the more I’ve reflected on the mahapajapati story, the more it stretches credibility for me.

      For an excellent article about this, google “Non-historicity
      of the Eight Garudhammas Story”, which is by Ayya Tathaaloka.

      I wont cover what she says, but just add my own piece. During the early days of the Sangha, it is very probably that female ascetics – nuns of other sects, would have been inspired by the Buddha, or would have followed the lead of their brothers who converted, and asked to follow the Buddha. In those days ordination involved no fanfare at all, and was as simply the Buddha’s welcoming: “Come so-and-so”.

      It a great stretch to credibility to think the Buddha would have told the female ascetics to get lost! Since he (the Buddha) had much more to gain in terms of his objective of spreading the Dhamma and establishing the four-fold assembly, by having these women in his Sangha, and due to the lack of fanfare, and the fact that other leaders had female followers, it wouldn’t have raised eyebrows for nuns to claim that they (now) followed the Buddha.

      Furthermore, the idea of starting the Bhikkhuni order with a bunch of palace ladies seems – well – a little odd! It would make much more sense to start the Bhikkhuni order with seasoned nuns and mature spiritual-seekers – especially those female ascetics who, according to the Suttas, quickly attained arahantship after hearing the Buddha’s teachings. I mean come on, what’s the Buddha going to say to the new female arahant, “I haven’t got around to founding the Bhikkhuni order yet. Come back in a few years”? I doubt that! The Buddha would’ve done the same as he did for his male arahant disciples – instructed them to go out and teach the Dhamma!

      I think it is possible that the Mahapajapati episode did happen, in some form or another. It might even have been a milestone in the Bhikkhuni order, with being one of the first inclusions of a large number of significant women, earning it a special place in lore – perhaps the earlier inclusions of individual and and small groups of nuns, just got lost to history, especially when they just tagged along behind their brothers samanas (often, women don’t get mentioned in accounts, even though they are obviously existent, as for example, wives of the men). The Garudhammas might have been guidelines for respect, for Pajapati personally. Then over 2500 years, various forces transformed the story into what it is today.

      But in any case. Feel free to dis-believe the story. There is certainly no good evidence that it’s true and plenty that it isn’t. And furthermore, I consider that accepting it serves no positive purpose, but only serves to increase intolerance and prejudice in the world.

      Nandiya.

    • Hi Nandiya,

      “Furthermore, the idea of starting the Bhikkhuni order with a bunch of palace ladies seems – well – a little odd! It would make much more sense to start the Bhikkhuni order with seasoned nuns and mature spiritual-seekers – ”

      Thanks for that, yes it makes more sense, even the bit about the first women ordaining being his mother, or step mother I found a bit irksome, understandable but some how not right – there must have been other spiritual seekers round other than mum.

      “And furthermore, I consider that accepting it serves no positive purpose, but only serves to increase intolerance and prejudice in the world”.

      Yes having been around a person who accepts this view unconditionally and unquestionally I have to agree and would even go further to day it is dangerous.

      While having had some exposure to Buddhism I find it hard to believe that this attitude is coming from the Buddha and therefore question it and on forums like this take that further and investigate it as time permits, therefore access to this information very important.

      For lay people though being around a person male or female that has this view who exudes complete confidence and charisma because they ignorantly believe this view is right, and without even a good intention for those involved try to institute it, it is both scarey, intimidating and has the potential to hurt alot of people, especially vulnerable and at risk people. and those who will follow a respectable, confident person without wondering where this confidence comes, not knowing they are being misled.

      In the end though it is the person with this belief that will really suffer; one can only hope someone with alot of compassion will be around at that time.

      Thank you for that article it is really good and it would be good if articles like that were on Wikepedia rather than information that can be interpreted as the Guardhamma being are vows or whatever.

      Kind Regards

      Daisy

  9. What kind of a call to healing is this? Talking of “tall poppy syndrome” and introducing a rivalry? Seems like BSWA just can’t leave it alone, can’t move on. can’t stop the spin and can’t stop playing to the galleries – think about it.

    If you really want to move on just move on. Friendships change, sometimes broken friendship return and sometimes they don’t.

  10. Hi Dennis,

    This could possibly be the most balanced and well meaning response from anyone connected that I’ve witnessed, in reference to the problems that have been happening around ‘that’ ordination issue. Nice to see someone in your role as the President of the BSWA articulate so openly and sincerely about getting over it and moving forward.

    I actually lost interest in the issue a long time ago, it was all a little predictable. It still effects the reality of the situation, and the people involved but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day and similarly neither was reaching Nirvana I guess. We all just have to be patient while things naturally work themselves through and try to accept that people are like this.

    Yes, it was a public relations disaster for that tradition and also those who practice in those Buddhist circles. It really showed me that all involved must’ve been a touch deluded about their intentions and actions, due to the decisions made, the resitance to deal compassionately with the situation, and also the timing + the build up and fallout.

    All the best with trying to promote harmony, getting back to basics and with keeping the circulation of the core teachings on track in the community. The gender issues imbedded in society & religious culture shouldn’t overtake the central teachings on conduct and the path. This is just a distraction for the main event. We are all human and simply bound to the constructs involved. Living these things out in our bodies and roles.

    Keep up the spirit of connection and caring!

    With metta, Maya

    • Hi Bhante,

      (and Bloggers)

      It’s like not seeing the forest for the trees – it’s a distilling process and can be applied to so many areas of relating within this particular community, as the emphasis and nature of the beast is very large, convoluted and detail oriented, a maze of systems and views handed down over time.

      This will inevitably draw probing analytic type people to the tradition & situation, overcomplicating almost everything I’ve experienced in this community. Participating seems to draw you into a vortex, where you get bogged down in trying to decipher the historical codes and conventions. It seems almost impossible for most people to remain objective in such an environment, as it organically circulates this energy. It becomes a feature of the relating.

      Which is why a bit of disengagement and physical distance can provide the ability to see what’s important. To not be too emotionally attached to outcomes, let emotions cloud experience, or get bogged down in the details for understanding. It’s a process, but a rather painstaking and frustrating one given the simplicity of the argument, the simplicity of the teachings & the Buddha’s legacy – what everyone is there for anyway. It’s pretty understandable why people are so disillusioned by religion today, in a time when we need spiritual guidance so much.

      Experience has shown me that to engage in this community too much is to allow a very time consuming process to unfold. Perhaps necessary for any understanding to unfold and great for those it works for, not to devalue its vision, depth, beauty, rewards etc… but it does seem all rather obvious in some ways and alot of effort for the rewards involved with practicing in this community.

      Obviously, I wouldn’t separate the fact that I’m a woman from this, as the tradition can’t meet my all my spiritual needs in its current form. This is my body and role this lifetime, so I can support it theoretically and simply wait for gods work to be done in good time.

      The scales of justice will tip and distill accordingly. This is where my faith allows me to just let it be. As, to be involved too much means you will have to endure the inevitable repurcussions, energy, karma and systems in place, which have perpetuated a belief that women are second rate citizens.

      So thank you, is all I can say to those that have the determination to endure and humility to succeed at this task which is much bigger than a religious battle. It’s the war that has always been fought, and why true peace internally and between all beings is such an important ideal to promote and aspire to.

      Am already feeling the vortex pulling me back in so time to disengage ;)

      Perhaps this is all in order to teach the value of true patience experientially?

      Anyway that’s all for now. Peace and happiness to all beings working through this samsara.

      With metta, Maya

    • oh and a little apology for the grammar & spelling slips in my posts everyone, retrospectively and in advance!

  11. I do think that a lot of what Coriander Lennon Kamma said on BSWA President’s report on ‘being sent to Coventry’ (April 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm) made an enormous amount of common sense!

    And the same for daisy’s response to Thanissaro. (daisy / Apr 20 2011 10:00 am)

    Although I could not disagree with Ven. Sujato on the garadhamma’s (…And the evidence says that there is little reason to think the garudhammas as such were propounded by the Buddha, and many reasons to think they were added later….). (sujato / Apr 18 2011 11:13 am)

    I do tend to err towards the opposite view.

    In fact from my perspective there may be reason to expect that “maybe” the garaddhamma’s were included for women. There has been much talk that these were added after the Buddha’s existence. I listened to sister Thathaaloka (video) on this subject and she spoke of a legitimacy of the garadhamma’s as it was in line with the way the social system was at the time of the Buddha. Though also added that they were “perhaps” added after the Buddha died or in another country. All of her statements were preceded with “maybe” or “perhaps”. And she was quite right to do this as it is not possible to know for sure.

    The Buddha set the rules for monastics to give them full benefit of attaining knowledge, and of course for its continuance. She suggested that women were “subordinate” to men. Though were indeed women thought of as lower or inferior, which is the meaning of subordinate? They may well have been thought of as different and performed different jobs within the family and marriage. So why would women be seen as inferior when they performs a major function of looking after the home and children, which is just as important as the men who go hunting? And most especially in the West, any ideas of women being “subordinate” are long gone. As far as monastics are concerned the Buddha praised many women for their attainments and being the BEST in this or that area. So lower or inferior, does’nt appear to come into it.

    Even in Saudi Arabia where the “lot” of women may seem extremely undesirable from the West’s point of view, there is a number of women who like the situation they are in and do not want reform. Perhaps they don’t wish to “modernise” their lives and see their children rolling around the beaches and pavements of holiday resorts, drunk and mostly naked!

    Sister Thathaaloka mentioned that we are in a modern world and need to adapt. But surely in the last 2500 years many along the way must have considered that they were in a more modern period than the last one. If every hundred years or so people sought to alter the Buddha’s teaching there would’nt be to much left for us to follow now.

    The Buddha’s ancient path which includes practicing anapanasati, concentration and insight, in order to attain knowledge of anicca, dukkha and anatta is as relevant today as it was when taught. The WAY leading to it may be as relevant as it was then.

    If I may suggest that the garadhamma’s were “perhaps” given rise to by the Buddha for the protection of both the Sangha’s. The nuns it would appear entered the order some five years after the bhikkhu order was established. By this I mean that by keeping the garadhamma’s the women would not criticize the monks thereby removing a lot of tension that could arise if they were at liberty to do so. Because the two groups from Mars and Venus would have been at loggerheads from the word go! Especially as I believe the monks and nuns lived close to each other, as far as I know they are meant to.

    A prime example of what can go wrong without the garadhamma’s is what happened at Amaravati a few years ago.

    There may have been other reasons for the garadhamma’s for purposes of mental development, but as I’m not a Buddha I won’t speculate. Though I can quote from someone else –

    “I am a male, and not a Bhikkhu either. But if I were a nun I would very much welcome the “eight heavy rules”. In fact, they are the precious gifts given by the Buddha to nuns (and alas! not for monks). They are gifts and precious because they help to reduce “ego” and defilements, and help to achieve the nibbana faster.

    I believe that one should not become a monk or a nun to gain “equality” or “status”, otherwise the very objective of being a nun would be null. The objective of becoming a monk or a nun is to renunciate, not to gain anything except egolessness”.

    I remember sister Sobhana portraying an interesting experience (intuitive arising knowledge) that she had gained when practicing one of the garadhamma rules (WFS). Had she not been practicing that rule would the intuitive knowledge that she experienced have arisen? There has also been a very favourable report by sister Sudhamma (Carolina) by practicing the garadhamma’s –

    “Each rule followed brings its own surprising rewards. Sometimes the most seemingly petty, unreasonable rule brings the best gift when followed. Let us look at the often-criticized Garudhamma rule for bhikkhunis to seek exhortations (ovaada) from bhikkhus twice a month. Oppressive? On first reading the rule, my aversion arose, thinking it a humiliating, petty gesture of female submission, but experience gave me a completely different perspective”. …….

    http://bhikkhuni.net/library/sudhamma-vinaya-perspective.html

    Perhaps if the women could keep all of the rules, which I hear they are plus the garadhamma’s they would have minds to walk the Buddha’s path to the full, and maintain harmony among the two Sangha’s. Not the way of the world as it is for worldly beings, but the way of the Buddha which, for want of a better way of explaining –is a way out of the world.

    There are a number of people involved in Buddhism at the moment who very much have worldly aspirations of equality and modernisation in mind. Though I do believe this clashes with Buddha’s ancient path of spiritual knowledge and practice. I think that it is perhaps well worth considering “will women gain their worldly equality but lose the practice that would give them the means to realise the full potential of the Buddha’s teachings”?

    I realize I am “sticking my neck out” by presenting opposing views to many that have these views. But I am presenting it as “food for thought”. I can’t be totally sure that I am right of course but feel that the nuns would be one of the biggest losers if the Buddha’s teachings were “modernised”.

    • The balance of evidence seems to be siding with the six non-Vinaya garudhammas not being authentic. Wouldn’t following them be considered delusion? Following them means following another, not the Buddha.

      And yes there are some women (and men!) who enjoy subservience, not thinking, just obeying, but that isn’t Buddhism. It’s putting responsibility for one’s own mind and actions into the hands of another.

      Modernisation of Buddhism is also a strange term, since it has been ‘modernised’ throughout the centuries, adapting to various cultures and offering the broad range we see and enjoy today. It’s not a bad thing :)

      Metta!

    • Dear Terry,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m afraid i don’t have time to respond to all of your interesting points, but here are just a few thoughts on authenticity.

      I’m a bit of an amateur text scholar. I’ve been studying and teaching Buddhist scripture for nearly 20 years now, and understanding the Suttas has always been central to my practice of Dhamma. When I started out, like many others, I had a strong belief in the authenticity of the early texts, and was scornful of those who would ‘adapt’ or ‘adjust’ them to modern times.

      As I continued, however, I changed. This came from two directions. Inwardly, i began to recognize that a denial of change was really coming from a defensive and conceited place, not recognizing the complex reality of people’s actual lives. And externally, it became more and more clear that the early texts do not, in fact, all stem directly from the Buddha himself. They evolved over a long period of time, and, crucially, that evolution was shaped by the same forces of change and adaptation that I was seeing around and within myself.

      I realized that change and adaptation is not a sign of weakness, but is the very essence of the Dhamma: it must be living, which means it must be responsive to its context. Otherwise it just becomes a fossil. All of our historical records of Buddhism are stories of precisely this dynamic: people in different times and places making sense and meaning from Dhamma in their own context. True authenticity is not preserving a fixed, static image of the Dhamma, but the honesty with which we engage in this process.

      So, the garudhammas. While just about everyone else who tries to support the garudhammas assumes that our critiques of the garudhammas stems solely from ‘modern’ feminist’ ideology, this is not the case. You mention that some of the garudhammas may even have a positive effect for women. I have argued the same point in my studies of the garudhammas. But it is more nuanced than this. For example, take the rule you mention about nuns receiving teaching every fortnight. In ancient India – and indeed in many Buddhist nuns’ communities today – there was little education for women, so this can be seen as a positive effort to overcome discrimination.

      This rule – and most other garudhammas – are in fact included elsewhere in the Vinaya, as a pacittiya rule. This raises a very serious issue. If the garudhamma was, as the Vinaya tells us, laid down at the very start of the bhikkhuni order, why was it subsequently laid down again as a pacittiya rule? When the pacittiya rule is laid down, the text assumes that before this there was no offence.

      This has to be understood in terms of our broader historical understanding of Vinaya: everyone agrees that the patimokkha rules (including pacittiyas) are among the earliest, if not the earliest, strata of the Vinaya. This suggests that the pacittiya rule is earlier than the garudhamma, not the other way around.

      Of course, this is only one consideration. Text critical scholars do not, or should not, make rash assessments based on a single criterion, but will examine the text from every possible angle, and will draw tentative conclusions only when there is a congruence of evidences, all pointing the same way. This is discussed by Rhys-Davids in the quote in this essay.

      This textual problem remains, even if we agree that this rule has a positive effect on women. Our perceptions of sexism or otherwise have nothing to do with the textual problem. Of course, any situation like this can be explained in a number of ways. This is a complex matter, and there are many different approaches we can take. In the matter of interpretation, it is quite true that our assumptions and biases will influence our interpretation. But this does not mean we should simply throw out the attempt and ignore the problem. It means we should interrogate the interpretations, look for a simpler, more powerful, or more plausible one.

      There is no other set of rules in the Vinaya that has anything like the same level of redundancy that the garudhammas have. This is a genuine, irreducible textual problem with the garudhammas. It has nothing to do with feminism. And it is by no means isolated. In fact, if you interrogate the garudhammas and bhikkhuni origin story with all the various text-critical methods, every time you will come up with similar problems.

      Those who try to defend the garudhammas typically do so by relying on their own notions of spiritual practice, and so on, and simply ignore the genuine textual issues. Or else, as for example with the comment a few days ago by SM, people come out as defenders of the ‘real Dhamma’ and pretend that their position is based on a genuine appeal to the scriptures; but when their analysis is challenged they just disappear or shift ground meaninglessly. I have seen these avoidance tactics so many times it has become very boring.

      I appreciate that you are really trying to defend what you believe is the real Dhamma. But the fact is that many things found in the Vinaya were simply not taught by the Buddha. One of the things he did teach, however, was that we should learn to distinguish between what he really taught and what he did not teach.

      We all do this, for example, when we make the elementary distinction between, say, the Suttas and the Abhidhamma. Even this much is largely a product of modernism, made apparent to us by the good work of the 19th century Indologists. Unfortunately, while it has been recognized even from those times that most of the Vinaya was a result a later development, the Theravada tradition remains in denial of this fact. We take up those conclusions of modernism that we like (the Pali Suttas are older than the Mahayana Sutras – yay!) and ignore or dismiss those conclusions we don’t like (even much of the Pali canon is a product of later development).

    • Dear Ajahn Sujato,

      Although there are a few kinks such as the 8 heavy rules that might not be original, but overall it is pretty efficient in guiding people on the path. I don’t see the need to tamper with it more than necessary. Over time it could become unrecognizable if each generation change a bit here and a bit there according to their own deluded perceptions. I would say that many Theravedan bhikkhus have done a great job in passing down the teaching for us to enjoy today. I actually have more confidence in the suttas than other sources. It’s my main source of guidance so far and I hope that future generations will be able to find their way through these suttas as well. Of course, there are various traditions that are very open to creativity. I believe they wouldn’t mind people changing the teaching around. The Theraveda tradition has its own uniqueness, and I thoroughly value their uniqueness .

    • A great post and very interesting. Thank you for sharing your views.

      Hopefully we will be able to maintain a place for the beauty, which is the ritual/tradition at the same time as not allowing static positions to block us in moving forward and learning from life/society as presented in the 21st centaury.

    • Terry reply to – sujato / Apr 21 2011 10:30 am

      Thank you Ven Sujato for your answer. Through I am beginning to realize why I have never studied the books!

      Its all very well people acting as inspecter Hercule Poirot, and playing with semantics of the written teaching and therefore “bend it like Beckam” and twist it any which way one may. I agree with you that the books may contain additional teachings and alterations, what can one expect after 2500 years.

      Therefore how about dumping the books in the bin and using some common sense, and basic empirical knowledge of people and times, no theories or ideals, just what is happening on the ground?

      With regard the garadhamma’s there are two points to look at. One is the benefit to women and as mentioned with sister sobhana and sister Sudhamma there clearly are. The other is maintaining harmony in a monastery.

      As I think Daisy said the Buddha was a very smart cookie! Having established a bhikkhu Sangha and then ordained women would it have been prudent to allow women the exact same rights as the men, especially considering the times they lived in?

      The fact being that men have been a dominant force, as it is in the animal realm, since the cave days albeit through physical means. Its generally in a man’s genes, through millions of years of cultivation. Women for the same have been the more passive, child bearing and nurturing members of the society.

      The Buddha could have asked the bhikkhu Sangha to keep the garadhammas but it would not have worked. It did work with women though as they would have the ability to apply themselves to that way.

      One has to keep in mind that monks and nuns lived in close proximity and therefore the garadhammas would have been very useful in order to maintain harmony between the two Sangha’s. I’m sure you may agree that its very difficult for people to live together because of the latent defilements.

      The Buddha may well have instituted these rules for the longevity and the “holding together” of the four fold Sangha. Because being together it has strength.

      Women have begun to exert their authority in recent years and the results are showing. Roughly 50% of marriages end in divorce and the amount of single parent families are steadily growing. The children of these single parent families have been proven to be quite disadvantaged in later life. So is it such a good idea? From women’s point of view it could be seen as a pyric victory.

      An observation was made by imeditation that bhikkhuni Sanghas were developing where no monks are present; so it appears they are following the same way as lay women are with their children. A bhikkhuni monastery with no monks will probably attract mainly women supporters, so they will be two members of the 4 fold Sangha short. If they don’t wish their monasteries to be weak and maybe short lived perhaps more thought concerning this is necessary.

    • Ajahn Brahmali is also a disciple of Ajahn Brahm. Despite what occurred relating to the Bhikkhuni issue, he always shows much confidence in the suttas of the Buddha and encourages others to refer to the suttas rather than individuals. It is one thing to have doubts about the suttas when a person is new, but after a lot of years and there is still doubt that could indicate that the person is still not yet able to directly experience the fruit of the practice. How can the person lead others to experience the fruit. The last thing I want to do is to throw away the suttas to follow someone’s mental proliferation.

      Ajahn Brahmali’s unshaken confidence in the suttas through trials and tribulation could indicate that he was able to experience the beneficial effects of the dhamma for himself so there is no need depend on external sources for confirmation. I am not surprise that Ajahn Brahm mentioned in a talk that he entrusted Ajahn Brahmali with the task of translating the Anguttara Nikaya . A monk with who developed unshakable confidence inspires others on the path as well. Sadhu !

  12. Hi Terry.

    I found your response interesting. Personally I believe any decent, sane, and compassionate person would and look for evidence that they were added after or maybe just for articular women.

    Personally I know a few (probably including myself) who could well use a bit of humility and humblness that is for sure, and I believe western women can learn alot from eastern women in this regard. To inflict these type of rules onto all women though is wrong, as women are all different.

    In a previous post I thought possibly they were a way for women to placade the egos of men but really I do not know, possibly they are also a way to find compassion for men which would make more sense. ie a women I know said “why should I get married, I don’t care less about sex and if I wanted something that could eat, sh.. and sleep I would just buy a dog”, so…. umm not very compassionate attitude toward men, but still.

    “will women gain their worldly equality but lose the practice that would give them the means to realise the full potential of the Buddha’s teachings”?

    I can’t see how not letting women gain access to full ordainment is going to do anything other than just what you have described here, nor can I see how trying to force women into a state of ignorance by them not gaining an education, working etc can help them realise the full potential of the Buddha’s teaching, ie many women possibly come into the Buddhas teaching at work, uni, etc and can the full attainment of the Buddha’s teachings be best gained through ordaining.

    Whether the Guardamas or whatever were written by the Buddha and whether essentially right or wrong to me they seem a bit like an enema, if necessary not really something you would really want.

    Are they a way for women to practise compassion for men , umm.

  13. Dear Daisy,

    Regarding the 8 heavy rules that seem highly unlikely to be from the Buddha, the best thing to do right now is simply have the bhikkhunis in their own monasteries and the bhikkhus in theirs. I am already seeing this happening various locations.

    Daisy wrote: ” and anything the Thais do can be forgiven because they make such great food!”

    Agreed ! :)

    • Hi imeditation,

      Yes, I can also understand why the Bhikkini tradition would have died out or women would not choose to ordain if they thought the 8 whatevers was conducive to a more virtuous life .

      Regards

    • Look at it this way, when other senior monk in the WPP tradition, took part in Bhikkhuni Ordinations, both before and after the Perth ordination, there hasn’t been so much as a peep.

      The severity of the reaction against Ajahn Brahm and his followers, suggests this is about more than his involvement in woman’s ordination.

    • Hi

      I have read bits on this but do not really fully understand what their problem is with Ajahn Brahm, is it something about not wanting him to teach something about Jhana’s? what do they consider wrong with teaching that?

      Regards

      Daisy

    • Hi Nandiya and Daisy

      I think that the perception was that Ajahn Brahm was bringing Bhikkhuni into their tradition, into monasteries that were perceived to have a direct affiliation with Ajahn Chah and Wat Pah Pong and that he acted without consensus.

      I don’t think that it had anything to do with Jhana.

    • Peter,

      And you think that for them, that crime justifies the ongoing hostility towards Ajahn Brahm and his monks? Unless you give them no credit at all, the ongoing hostility must be due to ongoing conditions – not offense over a past single act.

      Terry,

      One reasonable theory, is that it’s a kind of scapegoating, or the need to have an enemy to unite around. It appears that WPP feels it’s existence is threatened – this is due to the lack of any new charismatic leaders such as Ajahn Sumedho.
      Scapegoating – the tradition – works like this, the tribe blames someone (traditionally a goat), for all their sins and problems and throws them out, with the idea that the goat takes the sins and problems with it. So throwing out Bodhinyana could actually be a form of scapegoating, by an organization that feels it’s falling apart.
      Alternatively, enemies make great politics. Everyone loves a good enemy to unite around. In this case, AB could be thought of an as “enemy of convenience/necessity”, AB is charismatic, influential and powerful – if they can’t have him championing their cause, at least they can have him as a charismatic and powerful enemy to “unite around”.
      Another aspect there, is by making it clear that they’ll throw monasteries out for exhibiting independence, and furthermore treat them with extreme prejudice, it can further strengthen the unity of the WPP organization, by discouraging independence. In this case, it’s IMPORTANT they continue to act like complete assholes towards Bodhinyana, otherwise it wouldn’t be an effective example of “what could happen to you”.

      But this is only a theory.

      Nandiya.

    • mm sounds like my job – samsara, nirvana no difference – but seriously you would think if they are feeling threatened they would embrace Ajahn Brahm and his popularity, why don’t they just do that? – is it because they have gone too far the other way so would be worried about loosing face or something.

      So the orginal teacher of this tradition Ajahn Chah what would be be thinking about this?

    • Nandiya,
      “And you think that for them, that crime justifies the ongoing hostility towards Ajahn Brahm and his monks?” I’m not sure on that. I wonder how many actually hold an ongoing hostility.

      With regard to your point to Terry. There are plenty of other monks/nuns from the the Ajahn Chah tradition who some would find “charismatic”. I think just wearing a robe gives a certain charisma/authority.

    • Okay, lets say that at a zoo, a tiger eats a visiting boy. So there is a big blame-laying session.
      “The problem, was clearly that the tiger was an aggressive and bad-tempered beast. The zoo shouldn’t have kept a tiger like that”.
      “No, the problem obviously, was that a boy could climb the fence of the tiger’s enclosure. The fence should have been unclimbable”.
      “No no! The fault lies with the boy’s parents, they should have been watching their son and stopped him from crossing the moat and climbing the fence”.
      “No no no! The zoo keepers are clearly to blame. They should have been paying attention. They should have been prepared”.

      But actually, speaking rightly, one would say it was a conjunction of factors, a constellation of factors, a conflagration of factors – and that to single out any single factor as being squarely responsible, neglects the role of the other factors.

      As another example. Lets say, a volcano triggers an earthquake. But the power of the earthquake, comes from the built-up and accumulated tensions in the earth’s crust, in that one part of the earth wants to move this way, and another part is trying to move that way.

      In the same way, the Bodhinyana-WPP rift, can be said to have been triggered by the Perth Bhikkhuni ordination, but the severity of the rift, came from built-up and accumulated tensions. And in fact, Bodhinyana continues to move this way, and WPP continues to move that way, so we might expect the rift to erode away and fill in over time, but not to just close up.

      It would be foolish to try and single out any particular issue, when in actuality, multiple issues contribute. Those raised so far have not been wrong. It’s not not about women’s ordination. It’s not not about Jhanas. It’s not not about differing doctrines/dogmas. It’s not not about jealousy and resentment. It’s not not about arrogance and indignation. It’s not not about political maneuvering. It’s not not about fear of change. There really are many factors involved, and it’d be a mistake to single out any one.

      Nandiya.

  14. A bit left field but there’s this David Bowie song called “Loving the Alien” about religious conflict. A line in the song goes:

    And your prayers they break the sky in two

    Always enjoyed the imagery here and how this song addresses historical conflict and its cycles. His delivery of that line is also part of its poignancy & appeal. It cuts through and soars with expression in true Bowie style.

    • I like left field but not sure about the song :). Now Ziggy Stardust that is a different matter.

  15. Bhante Sujato,

    I can’t post a comment. Could you please kindly have a look? I’ve forwarded my comment to you.

    with metta,

    dheerayupa

  16. Dear i-Meditation,

    I need to clarify that I have not really translated the Anguttara Nikaya. I have certainly read the Anguttara Nikaya in Pali to point where I feel satisfied I understand the text well. Based on this reading, I have provided Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi with extensive comments on his forthcoming translation.

    With metta.

    • Dear Ven. Brahmali,

      Do you know when Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation will be coming out? I have been looking forward to it.

      Thanks,
      Linda

    • Dear Linda,

      I have asked this precise question of Ven. Bodhi, and he has not replied. I suspect he simply doesn’t know. Because his poor health it is difficult for him to commit to a precise schedule. What I do know is that the translation is now in its final stage of editing. Ven. Bodhi then has to write introductions. An educated guess is that it will finally get published in early 2012.

      With metta.

    • Thank you for your response, Bhante. Whenever it comes out, it will be wonderful to have his translation, and I am glad to hear that you have helped on the project.

    • Re- Bhikkhu Brahmali / Apr 23 2011 6:47 pm

      Dear imeditation or bhikkhu Bramali,

      As I see you are into pali translations I wonder if I may ask for your thoughts?

      In bhikkhu Bodhi’s new translation of Samutta nikaya concerning paticcasamupada (preview on the net) and rebirth. He states –

      “This third factor he calls the “gandhabba”……
      ….. So due to this craving for existence, consciousness lets go of this body and grasps hold of a new body, a fertilized egg.
      … It lodges itself in that fertilized egg, bringing a whole storage of accumulated impressions over with it into the new psycho-physical organism. Thus we say the new being is conceived”.

      Now this appears to me to be adding in a self-view or soul that migrates from one birth to the other. I know the Buddha taught non-self. I’m not saying that bhikkhu Bodhi has translated the Pali incorrectly as I hear he is a considerable expert in this field. Which means perhaps that the Pali is incorrect. Or maybe you feel it is correct?

      Either way it would be very nice to have your views on this, if you have time. The reason I ask is that I’m having a discussion at the moment with someone on rebirth and it kicked off with the above.

      Warm regards Terry

    • Dear Terry,

      I believe Bhikkhu Bodhi can explain what he is referring to better than I do. So I can only comment about how I understand rebirth in general.

      You are right that it is not the permanent self that goes from life to life. When it comes to the Buddha’s theory of rebirth, it is not to be confused with the pre-existing theory during his time where rebirth depends on a self to go from life to life. How can rebirth take place without a permanent self ? This is difficult to understand that’s why there is a tendency to understand the Buddha’s teaching on rebirth in the same way that was described before him . It is important that we distinguish between the two, because Stream Entry requires that we let go of the view of having a self in particular. So in a way, it is actually the opposite of the pre-existing view . Being attached to the view of a permanent self can be a hindrance that prevent a person from even entering Stream Entry.

      Another reason why it is important to distinguish between the two is that when we confuse the two opposite theories to be the same , it might lead to further inaccurate assumptions. For example , thinking that this was added later to appease the general public, when in fact it is actually the opposite of the view that rebirth takes place depending on a self . And from this we can go on to say that since it was added later on , we should abandon or ignore any reference to rebirth when this was actually taught by the Buddha and it is the opposite of the pre-existing theories. This can make the teaching incomplete .

      Various monastics and scholars cover this subject regarding rebirth . For example, “Paticca-samuppada – Dependent Origination” by AB and “Survival and Karma In Buddhist Perspective” by KN. Jayatilleke, etc..

      The Buddha explained rebirth with a process called Dependent Origination rather than a self that move from life to life. From DELUSION as condition, VOLITIONAL FORMATION comes to be, from volitional formations as condition, CONSCIOUSNESS arises, from consciousness as condition, NAME & FORM arise………………..conditioned by CRAVING, GRASPING arises; conditioned by grasping, BECOMING arises; conditioned by becoming, BIRTH arises…..

      VOLITIONAL FORMATION : ( sankhara) refers to actions of body, speech and mind, which are accompanied by intention ( CETANA) .
      It is this kamma which gives rise to future rebirth or ‘ rebirth according to sahkhara’. Certain beings arise in different realms according to their actions of body, speech or mind. These actions and reactions ( conditioned response) can either be meritorious, demeritorious, and in- between.

      Some might say that consciousness is the permanent self that goes from life to life. But as we can see the maintenance for consciousness too is dependently originated or arise from a cause, depends on a cause. Without that cause, consciousness does not come to be. It is just part of a process just like many things in nature that come and go.

      The Buddha explained how Volitional Formation is the basis for the maintenance of Consciousness:

      “But, bhikkhus, when one does not intend, one does not plan, and one does not have a tendency towards anything no basis exist for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is no basis, there is no support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is unestablished, does not come to growth there is no inclination. When there is no inclination, there is no coming and going. When there is no coming and going, there is no passing away and being reborn. Future birth, aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.” – SN 12.40: Cetana Sutta (3) — Volition

      With Metta,

    • Dear Terry,

      It is the so-called “stream of consciousness” that is responsible for rebirth. Is called a stream because it is ever-changing, just like a river if you like, but it is also a conditioned process whereby each moment of consciousness is linked to previous moments of consciousness, again a bit like a river. Thus there is both change and continuity. A self, as defined in the suttas, is by definition something that does not change.

      You may find the following discussion thread interesting: http://community.dhammaloka.org.au/threads/171-Rebirth-Anatta-and-Kamma

      With metta.

    • Dear Ajahn Brahmali ,

      Thanks for the details. It’s even better that both are working together on this, because I enjoy Bhikkhu Bodhi’s books as well. They have been very useful. I am grateful for the hard work that both monastics are putting into this. Are you aware if anyone is translating or collaborating with others to translate the the unavailable volumes of the Khudakka Nikaya?

    • Dear iMeditation,

      As far as I am aware, the only Khuddaka Nikaya work that is not available in English is the Apadāna, which contains past life stories of some of the Buddha’s arahant disciples. The others should be available from various publishers such as the Pali Text Society and the Buddhist Publication Society. Of course, the quality of the translations varies considerably.

      With metta.

  17. Hi, sometime ago, I made this remark “who knows, perhaps Bhukkhunis could be revived….”, in one of the threads here. I now feel that I knew too little about this issue as to warrant me to remark. It should not be perceived as an objection to Bhikkhunis, but I personally do not wish to take any stand on this still controversial subject, and who knows, there could be a bigger picture in it out there. Thank you for this comment. No further comments. Have moved on. {*~*}

  18. Thanks for the thoughtful & heart-felt post Dennis.

    I’m not sure if what follows has been reported yet.

    Ajahn Brahm was invited by the organising committee of the United Nations Day of Vesak in Bangkok (due to be held 11 – 16 May 2011). See the link here: http://www.iabu.org/node/60 Ajahn Brahm followed all the procedures listed on that website. The lengthy address Ajahn prepared for the UN Vesak celebrations was accepted, so he booked air tickets to attend the event. However, only recently Ajahn Brahm was contacted by the (apologetic) organisers, who informed him that his invitation was now cancelled, thanks to the political intervention of unnamed parties, who had taken offence to the idea of AB attending this UN sponsored event.

    Given the significance of this event, and the fact that it is sponsored by the United Nations, I can not help but be appalled by the actions of these people, whoever they are, and whatever their rationale is, for banning Ajahn Brahm from attending this event, and stopping him from presenting his address.

    Would be very interesting to find out exactly who was involved in “leaning on” the UNDV organising committee to ban Ajahn Brahm, and what reasons or justifications they gave for their actions.

    • Dear Michael,

      I’m perhaps confused but didn’t this occur last year?

      Either way, it’s a despicable way to treat any person and those involved should not hide behind the anonymity of their office, but admit what they’ve done if they truly felt it was the best course of action. Otherwise, they are simply cowards.

    • Dee – from memory, I think that you are correct that the same thing happened last year. So obviously some people have not “moved on” at all. I’m sure the full story behind this sorry episode in the ongoing persecution of Ajahn Brahm will emerge one day. Apparently the Australian Sangha Association delegation attending the UN Vesak Day will be officially voicing their concerns about this treatment of Ajahn Brahm, when they are in Bangkok.

    • This is very sad and also unconscionable (thanks for posting the info, Michael; I seem to remember a post about it happening last year as well; I don’t know if it was the same event or a similar one). I clicked on the web link, and couldn’t help noticing that a couple of the themes is listed are: “Building a Harmonious Society” and “Wisdom for Awakening Society’. Hmmmmmm…..

      I’m glad to hear that the Australian Sangha Association will be officially voicing their concerns.

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for posting this information. It is very sad to read yet another news like this. While it will have very little (if any) impact on Ajahn Brahm, this repeated action of excluding Ajahn Brahm from the conference is a huge negative for both the conference and the conference organizers. Luckily, nobody has a monopoly on the practice of Buddhism.

      Jun

    • This repeated act of ‘inviting’ and ‘un-inviting’ sounds really bizarre to me.

      One withdrawal of an invitation because of pressure from influential supporters or prominent monastics is understandable. After all, they are human.

      But after the academic panel of the Vesak organising committee, decided to invite Ajahn Brahm again despite what happened last year, it does not look professional and mature to withdraw it. In fact, to me, it appears as if some people do not have enough strength to act according to principles; they appear to easily succumb to pressure.

      This incident also shows that whoever is after Ajahn Brahm is so very tenacious in their efforts to upset Ajahn Brahm.

      I do hope that their past good kamma will soon help them realise that harming other human beings in any way is not wholesome.

    • I can’t remember who said it on this blog, but the gist is that the effort to harm or upset Ajahn Brahm is unlikely to affect his walk on the Path and hardly affects people living in Perth or other countries, but it has surely made life difficult for Thai people who have benefited from Ajahn Brahm’s teachings.

    • Are we 100% sure that exactly the same thing has happened two years running? It does seem very odd. I am surprised that he was invited again and excepted again given what happened in 2010.

    • Yes, Peter. :)

      And yes, it is odd. If Mahachularajavidayalai does not like Ajahn Brahm due to whatever reason, fine. I can accept that. But this year after the academic panel (not one single person) agreed to invite Ajahn Brahm, then…

      Well, I don’t know what to think about this organisation and whoever was behind the withdrawal.

    • Yes, last year and this year. :)

      I am so looking forward to hearing about what will happen next year. If I were Ajahn Brahm, I would be having fun receiving their invitation (because they know that Ajahn Brahm has a lot to contribute to the Buddhist world) and later their withdrawal (because they are not strong enough to stand up to the pressure from whoever). :)

      As I said, those affected by what has happened are not Perth and BF people. It’s Thai people.

    • Dear Peter,

      I read your response in the notification email and knew that my computer is playing tricks on me again…

      May all beings and non-beings (including computers) be happy and well!

    • Maybe next year if they invite him he could just politely say ummmm, look I am really sorry I have to wash my robes that night; I mean honestly how incredibly rude is that, what sort of people do something like that.

      Maybe he should just spend more time in Australia anyway until these issues gains more perspective anyway.

  19. The following comment was from Dheerayupa; apparently she was unable to post it for some unknown reason.

    Dear all,

    I guess the measures against Ajahn Brahm were more than a simple disagreement on the vinaya regarding the Bhikkhuni ordination because:

    1. When I was having a self retreat at Wat Pah Nanachat in April 2009, a German Anagarika told me that he heard some monks were unkindly criticizing Ajahn Brahm. It seemed that unfavourable attitudes towards Ajahn Brahm have already existed in some western monks before the ordination in October 2009.
    2. Ajahn Pasanno was involved in a Bhikkhuni ordination in the USA on August 29, 2010 and he has not been excommunicated.

    Here is part of the brochure of the ordination:

    Page 1

    Bhikkhuni Ordination
    And
    Fifth Anniversary Celebration
    Of
    Dhammadharini
    Sunday
    August 29, 2010

    Page 2

    Bhikkhuni Ordination

    On this day, four women will receive their upasampada, full ordination by an act of the Dual Sangha of a Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha led by Ayya Tathaaloka Theri as the Preceptor – Pavattini (Upajjhayini) and a Theravada Bhikkhu Sangha led by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana Mahathero as Presiding Elder and Ovadakacariya…

    Page 3

    Of the Ordaining Bhikkhuni Sangha:
    Ayya Tathaaloka Theri will serve as Pavattini (Upajjhayini)…
    …..
    Of the Confirming Bhikkhu Sangha:
    Bhante Henepola Gunaratana Mahathero will be the Presiding Elder and will deliver the keynote Dhamma Teaching.
    …..
    The Kammavacariyas will be:
    Ven Shantarakshita Mahathero
    Ven Amarabuddhi Mahathero
    ……
    Ven Pasanno Mahathero
    Ven Pannasara Mahathero…
    Will serve as withnessing Bhikkhus, completing the Bhikkhu Sangha.

    • Thank you, Ajahn Sujato.

      However, it has happened again.

      Hope this one will get through.

      To reply to Peter’s question: yes, it has happened two years in a row.

      Much metta,

      dheerayupa

    • Dear Peter and Dheerayupa,

      Yes, this is the second year. My sense is that Mahacula has no problem with Ajahn Brahm and they would like to have him continue to be there. Last year after the bhikkhuni ordinations, as i understand it, pressure was brought to bear and his speech was cancelled. This was discussed earlier in this blog, especially on the thread here.

      This year the application went ahead, on the reasonable assumption that this silliness should be well over. However, presumably again an Ajahn or Ajahns affiliated with Wat Pa Pong learned that Ajahn Brahm was accepted as a speaker and exerted pressure once more. I have no idea whether the action to oppose Ajahn Brahm was the initiative of a monk or monks acting by themselves, or through the ‘official’ Wat Pa Pong ‘administrative committee’ that has been tasked with this matter. In either case, the vast majority of WPP monks will not have been consulted as to these policies and will have no idea what is actually happening.

    • Bhante Sujato, Does the conference actually have any connection with the United Nations? I wonder if Ajahn Brahm will make an application again next year?

    • The connection with the UN is a loose one. I believe they give a general endorsement of the use of their name, but there is no direct oversight or involvement.

      As for future years, that will be in the future!

  20. It is kinda strange the way the lay people have so much say in what the ordained do in this tradition, even down to what they eat? …. in other traditions it is the ordained who are considered the experts `authorities’ on everything since they have been studying for well…. ‘ever’, people wouldn’t really think to question if a teacher is going here or there whether it is right or wrong as they would think that the teacher would know if they have been ordained for along time, except for maybe the people who run the organisations who also have a say and generally people just leave and find another teacher if they don’t like it….mmm I kinda like this approach.

  21. what i would like to know is

    how to stop all these vajrayana buddhists who do all their secret practises from taking over everything , especially as they are all in town at the moment?

  22. but hey what is wrong with that there are sound angelic little groupo out near mudgee in the central west maybe AB would like that ..perfect for him pur sweet always do what the boys say like good little women there you go boys lovely for youse

  23. Yes peter, To overly critise buddhist dont follow the vinaya is one thng, i mean would you prefer having to put up with a group of so called monastics who are strictlt hierachial and follow a teacher not the dharma, who followeers are young kids who you probably knew before they got ordained who now probably expectd you to be submissive tothem and prostrate to them who dont ley you have any contact with there cult like leader until these kids force you to be submissive to them, not the dharma but them, who also dont have to work but get nice cars and houses to live on and rime and probably money for a university education, who sell their land to there follows secretly, who promote, whose children are ordain very young becausew of their supposed karmic inheritance which also means you cant get access to the head teacher unless you first become the student of of the chidren ..which means what? who are probably in their 20s, and for all this u might be lucky enough if you are submissive enough to these kids, they may let you some day have contact with the head teacher, as if you want it. But actually you are suppose to consider these discuples not only your ‘masters, but also buddhas because that is what thet consideer themselves. Also they dont wait until they are trained to teach but send them out looking for following as soon as they show submission to the rest of the group, because this is the sign of a good buddhist….ummm i could continue but wont…umm and you complain about what again exactly?n oh and they will never ever stop trying to dominate you or leave you alone!

  24. oh yeah, i forgot, also peter really apparently you can actually become a head of one of these schools the easy way too ( if you are a women, ie you don’t need to study or live in poverty, no forget that if you dont want to become the dominating type of women, hidden behind a sweet innocence facade, doing what the men want claiming to be a liberated female helping women, while just getting power for yourself, if you are young and have energy, and a good body of corse or relos in the buz you can become aprostitute for a lama, yes thats right, no more study, no more poverty, you can get schooled in the art of bonking your way to enlightenment…yes and there is more.. Now that doesnt mean you get the privelege of getting ‘used’ by a great tibetan lama, no oh gee every girls dream…no but they might train you in the art of how to be a prostitute, oh whoops sorry of course those great beings wouldnxt associate with the lowly prostitute, no consort, sorry, consort apparently that is uhhh different, yeah right…..anyway then you can hook up with a male counterpart and whoopee you become a lama..easy. So peter if it all gets a bit much find yourseld a female lama and become a male prostitdue, whoops did it again, consort sorry apparently there is a difference and in no time at all you can rise above AB and all the other monks with out studying, living in poverty all that stuff, so yesterday and become a professor of buddhism…i think you can even find easy hoe to instructions on the internet these days….so no more, study, no more meditation become a top buddhist lama by bonking your way to nirvana…..

    • Daisy, that is why all groups (even the good ones) have to remain ever mindful of the power structures and figures within them. How we empower and how power is taken – sometimes abuse (of power) can be much closer than we realize.

  25. Hi Ajahn Sugato/moderator,
    I noticed you have not put on the last two posts I wrote, if they break the moderation quidelines fine, I am not asking for them to go on now but would like to no why?

    • Hi Daisy,

      WordPress sometimes does that. It is caused by the complex way that WordPress and its plugins like Akismet determine what is spam.

  26. Off topic but I wanted to share a really helpful article by Bhikkhu Brahmali on dependent origination. It nicely links it to Eightfold path, 5 hindrances and how we can understand it to lessen suffering and end rebirth. very nice.

    http://community.dhammaloka.org.au/content/35-Understanding-the-Essence-of-Dependent-Origination

    And for those meditators out there, the talks from the recent 9 day retreat with Ajahn Brahm are now available online:

    http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/itemlist/category/58-easter-2011-nine-day-retreat.html

    • Hi Juzeau,
      I just your recent blog posts and really enjoyed them. You have a very nice way of reflecting on experience. Great rat story! We have lots of encounters with wood (also known as pack) rats where I live. If I forget to bring my flip-flops in from the back deck at night, I invariably find one of them sticking out of a rat’s nest. It’s amazing what they can (and seem to want to!) carry away for their homes.

      We’ve found them nesting in the engine of our car, the drip-irrigation box and many other places (and it’s been quite a challenge to try and convince them to nest elsewhere). They are actually extremely cute and endearing (even though they do carry plague where we live!), and like most all beings, just trying to find a little comfort, warmth and security for their home! One night my husband decided he wanted to sleep outside under the stars and he had a a very similar experience to yours: waking up with a rat nibbling on his ear (wonder why they go for the ears?).

    • Thanks Linda. Yes, I am starting to see rats as very endearing – and entertaining! – creatures. You just have to get to know them, I guess…

  27. Peter Durham / Apr 27 2011 3:28 am

    Actually I do appreciate your view here Peter as I felt that way at one time. Upon phoning a monk to be told “Sorry I’ll be in New Zealand at that time then on to Thailand – oh sorry I’m in Portugal next week” etc. I must admit that I thought previously to see the world you would need to be a sailor but now you just need to be a monk!!!

    However when they travel they keep the same vinaya as in any country and therefore do not act as lay people when abroad. I doubt that you will see a monk on the beach in Portugal with a chic on one side and a Pinna Colada on the other. More likely to be taking a retreat or similar or dealing in Sangha business.
    Terry

    • Hi Terry, I guess it is all about perception; how these things may seem. It’s a bit like the “alternative therepies” that you mentioned in a previos thread. The intention of those receiving the therepy may have been pure and in line with there monastic rule, it may have been given as a gift, but somehow it didn’t quite sit right with you.

  28. Hi Ajahn Sujato,
    Are there any references in the original Suttas (if so can you diect me to which ones if possible) that relate to Tulkus; did the Buddha say anything about this issue that you know of, is it recognised as anything legitimate in the early scriptures or is it just rubbish? Regards

    • Ha! Just because something’s not in the suttas doesn’t mean it’s ‘rubbish’. The ideas of rebirth, and the notion that through spiritual development one can control rebirth (at least to some degree) is found in the suttas. The ‘tulku’ system, however, is not found there, or indeed anywhere in India Buddhism. It is, I believe, a specific outcome of Buddhism as practiced in the Tibetan sphere. While it undoubtably has a deep spiritual significance for practictioners, historically it arose, at least in part, to address the problem of succession of ownership of monasteries.

  29. thanks for that imeditation. It is all rather confusing, what is in the suttas is buddhism, what isn’t isn’t but then not necessarily. I think alot of it is about just discipline, whether it is gurus, bodhisstvas, suttas it is all just about controlling the defilements one way or another, if the gurus dont do it the suttras will, and in the process they will chip away the arrogance and ego because they will be so difficult or so humble……what ever works i suppose.
    A tulku is say like the dalai lama, the aim to purposely get reborn to they say come back and help others, also i suspect it is because they beleive no one else is capable of understanding the dharma and running themonestries except them, so just when you think things as they should be nicely you will be bowing to a 5 old kid and wondering what was all that work for oh yeah so i can learn compassion from this kid right ok and become a babysitter yawn…..any way i think i will go take my pills…just joking.

    • Dear Daisy ,

      You are welcome.

      Right before parinibbana the Buddha said to let the dhamma and vinaya he taught to be our guide rather than designating any single individual to be authority. Blind faith and gurus are not emphasized in the teaching. Of course, there are times when we can benefit and learn from more experienced practitioners , but they are like spiritual friends on the path. I am glad that you check what you heard with what is actually in the suttas. If the two contradict, then you know that this part requires further examination. It is a great tool to keep us from getting lost .

      Daisy wrote: “A tulku is say like the dalai lama, the aim to purposely get reborn to they say come back and help others”

      I read somewhere that the Dalai Lama wants to abolish this concept, and does not intend be reborn ( at least not purposely ). And I couldn’t agree with him more on this. I haven’t come across this in the sutta myself. Before trying to guide others to enlightenment, the Buddha actually has to become enlightened first . Only after he became awakened under the Bodhi tree does he began leading others to awakening. He sent his first 61 disciples out to awaken others after they became enlightened. That is not to say that a person has to be enlightened to teach basic meditation to promote well-being .

      With metta,

    • iMeditation, I’m sure the Dalai Lama will be relieved to hear that you agree with him on this. Do you think he may go on to abolish the concept of rebirth?

    • Dear Peter

      I don’t think the Dalai Lama could abolish the concept of rebirth since it’s integral to Buddhism.

      His own rebirth is tricky. I heard him once say it would be at the moment of death he’d know if he’d practiced enough. Whether that was to return or find enlightenment I don’t know. He even said he might return as a woman!

      And of course China wants to say who is the next DL for political reasons.

    • Hi Dee
      Well at one time it was key to our world view that the world was flat (or is it a myth that people believed that?) . Surely Religion must change as our collective understanding changes.

      Is/was the Tulku system not integral to Tibetin Buddhism?

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “Do you think he may go on to abolish the concept of rebirth?”

      You mean his own rebirth or the teaching of rebirth without a permanent self realized by the Buddha during his enlightenment?

      If you are speaking about the Dalai Lama’s rebirth then an article on BBS states that “Interestingly, Tenzin Gyatso has also expressed doubts over whether he will be reborn at all, suggesting the function of the Dalai Lama may be over. However, until Tibet is reunited with its spiritual leader, it seems likely that there will continue to be a Dalai Lama.”

      As I understand , if the Dalai Lama has done enough practice and reached the state of full enlightenment or Arahantship then he is liberated from any rebirth . However, if he haven’t become fully enlightened and reached the state of Non-returner then he will only reborn in the Pure Abodes until full enlightenment without coming to the human plane and others. But if he reached the state of Once-returner, then he would be reborn one more time . If that is the case then might or might not be reborn as a woman who knows. If he only reached Stream Entry, then he might have to reborn 7 more times maximum ( human plane or deva plane only) . If he has not reached any of the four stages of enlightenment then he might be reborn for many more lifetimes. It could be in a human plane, animal plane, deva plane.

      In Theraveda people are not looking for a rebirth of enlightened monks. The more enlightened a monk is the less likely he will have a rebirth ( ie..Arahant or Non-returner).

      If you are speaking about abolishing the concept of rebirth taught by the Buddha according to what he realized during his enlightenment then no. The teaching on a process of rebirth without a permanent self is the original teaching of the Buddha. There is no reason to tamper with his teaching.

    • Hi iMeditation, I meant the concept of rebirth, which is contrary to the three characteristics and which also is contrary to the general consensus of modern thought. eg. In a previous life i was a monkey and due to actions performed I have now had an advantageous rebirth as a human. Some mental tenancies from my monkey life have continued and even some physical characteristics.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “I meant the concept of rebirth……….. ……which also is contrary to the general consensus of modern thought. ”

      K.N. Jayatilleke listed this among the unsatisfactory arguments against rebirth in “The Case for the Buddhist Theory of Survival and Karma”:

      “There is a tendency to urge that some belief is true because almost everybody holds it. Yet the universality of a belief does not entail its truth. Nor at the same time does it entail its falsity. It is sometimes maintained that many primitive peoples of the ancient world believed in survival or the doctrine of rebirth. But this does not imply that the belief is either true or false. Its truth or falsity has to be established independently.”

      I would say that the reason why people came to the consensus that rebirth doesn’t exist is not very different from the reason why the belief in a flat earth was the general consensus during a certain period . It is possible that in time the disbelief in rebirth will be listed in the pamphlet of common errors in history.

      For some time people look around and see the ground beneath their feet is flat and find it hard to believe otherwise . Likewise, people can’t remember their past lives and conclude that there is only one life. Some would argue that if we exist before this life then we should remember it. Since we don’t remember anything, therefore we don’t have a previous life.

      We also exist for a period in the womb , yet we don’t have any memory of our experiences in the womb. And we live during the first one or two years and yet can’t recall what happened during the first one or two years of our lives. It is possible that events earlier than this would be even more difficult to recall than recalling the experience we have in the womb in this life and the first year of this life . The mere absence of memory of a certain event or phase of life is no proof that such an event did not take place or that we did not live through such a phase of life.

      Besides, it is certainly not true of all human beings that they do not recollect their prior lives. For, there are at least a few who do, while many others could be assisted to recall their previous lives.

      Peter wrote: “eg. In a previous life i was a monkey and due to actions performed I have now had an advantageous rebirth as a human. Some mental tenancies from my monkey life have continued and even some physical characteristics.”

      K.N. Jayatilleke also addressed this in his writing :

      ” Now identical twins (as opposed to fraternal twins) are said to have the same heredity, and when they happen to grow up as “Siamese twins” joined to each other, they have more or less a common environment. Now if individual differences and variations are due entirely to the factors of heredity and environment alone, there should be identity of temperament and character on the part of these twins. At least there should not be marked differences in their dispositions and temperaments. But the facts are otherwise.”

      “Could this difference not be due to a third factor other than heredity and environment, namely, the psychological past of the two individuals? If so, is it not likely that even in other individuals as well there could be capacities, skills, temperaments, weaknesses etc., which are due to “memories” (in the secondary sense defined above) of prior lives rather than to the factors of heredity and environment? Geniuses or child prodigies, whose extraordinary accomplishments cannot be accounted for in terms of heredity or environment, would only be special cases of such a carry-over of skills from one life to another.”

      “Sometimes in the case of mental traits, the origin may be karmic rather than hereditary. As Professor C. D. Broad (Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge) has stated in his examination of the philosophy of the late Professor John McTaggart of Cambridge University, who urged a belief in rebirth and karma on philosophical grounds in his books The Nature of Existence and Some Dogmas of Religion: “McTaggart points out that the assumption of selective affinity between certain kinds of mind and certain kinds of organism would explain likenesses in mental characteristics between parents and children which are often ascribed to the direct influence of heredity. Owing to heredity a man’s organism will resemble those of his direct ancestors more closely than those of other people. Now, similar organisms will be adapted to similar minds and zygotes which will develop into similar organisms are likely to attract similar minds and unite with them at conception.” Professor Broad adds, “I think it must be admitted that this theory is ingenious and plausible.”21 Besides it can be seen how rebirth and karma can explain the (sometimes marked) temperamental differences in identical twins, who when they happen to be “Siamese twins” have an identical and a common environment.”

    • Hi iMeditation,
      I don’t think that “general consensus of modern thought” and “universality of a belief” are the same. To believe that life ends with death is rational to believe that there is life after death as some kind of transmigration is irrational. The twins argument is incredibly weak in my opinion (An identical environment is not possible even for either individual in conjoined twins – equality in nature is not there).

      The concept of rebirth, as in you die and then are reborn as a new individual being, is in my opinion contradictory to the core teaching of three characteristics.

      A link to wikipedia re: flat earth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_earth

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: ” I don’t think that “general consensus of modern thought” and “universality of a belief” are the same.”

      Consensus means that the majority holds the same opinion or the general opinion of a group. What I am pointing out is that more people believing in something does not necessarily mean that it is accurate. Appealing to numbers is a weak argument. Even if it is a unanimous agreement , it doesn’t prove that rebirth doesn’t exist.

      Peter wrote: “To believe that life ends with death is rational to believe that there is life after death as some kind of transmigration is irrational.”

      What is the basis for determining what is rational and what is irrational ?

      Peter wrote: ” The concept of rebirth, as in you die and then are reborn as a new individual being, is in my opinion contradictory to the core teaching of three characteristics.”

      On the contrary, the concept of rebirth demonstrates the three characteristics quite clearly. In Buddhist cosmology, it is not unusual for a person to take birth in one realm in one life and another realm in another life depending on one’s kamma ( the cause and effect of your word, thought, and action). A person can be a human in the present life and be a deva , animal, or brahma in a previous life or the next. Yet none of these identities can be considered your permanent or true identity. Just like in one dream you are a man, in another you are an elephant, yet an angel in another. Once you awaken, you do not take any of these roles in your dream to be yourself. Therefore, the Buddha doesn’t identify with any of the roles as a deva in his past lives as his true self. For example, the Buddha mentioned that :

      ” Whenever the world was destroyed, I entered ( by way of rebirth) among the devas of Streaming Radiance, and when the world unfolded again, I was born in an empty Brahma-palace. There, I was Mahabrahma, the unvanquished victor , holding authority for seven times. And thirty-six times I was Sakka, king of the devas, and many hundred times I was a universal monarch, a just and righteous king.” – Metta Sutta ( AN 7.59)

      After Awakening, none of these roles can be considered as permanent or true identity.

      It is possible to see that whatever role we may play in the rounds of samsara, they are only temporary and we can’t take any of these roles in samsara to be self.

    • Dear Peter,

      There are numerous case histories available. For example, you can look into the work of Dr. Brian Weiss, Edgar Cayce, and various others. Below are a few cases that the author mentioned:

      “The truth or falsity of rebirth, therefore, rests on the relevant empirical evidence. We may classify the main evidence into two sorts: (i) experimental and (ii) spontaneous.

      The experimental evidence is based on age-regression. Under hypnosis a subject can recall or re-live his past experiences. With regard to this life when regressed to age six, for instance, the subject would behave, write and talk as he or she did at that time and recall the past experiences, which it may not be possible to recall by normal means. The handwriting and the memories could be independently checked. Such experiments have convinced psychologists and psychiatrists today that the authentic buried memories of one’s childhood experiences, which cannot be called to mind via normal consciousness, can be unearthed by hypnosis. It may be asked whether the subject is not just responding to the suggestions of the hypnotist and is merely play-acting or shamming. That this is not so has been proved experimentally.

      Dr. H. J. Eysenck states that “in one case it was found that when a twenty-year-old girl was regressed to various ages she changed the chalk to her left hand at the six-year-level; she had started writing with the left hand, but had been forced to change over at the age of six.” In another case a thirty-year-old was hypnotized and regressed to a level of about one year of age, on a chair arranged in such a way that with the release of a latch it would fall back into a horizontal position. When the latch was released the behaviour elicited was not that of an adult but of a child. An adult, it is said, would quite involuntarily extend both arms and legs in an effort to maintain balance. Since the subject made no movement of the limbs but screamed in fright and fell backward with the chair, urinating in the process, Eysenck comments, “It is unlikely that such behaviour is simply due to play-acting.”

      Intelligence and achievement tests have been used to assess the nature of the behaviour of regressed subjects and it has been found that “people tend to behave on tests of this type in a manner roughly appropriate to the given age.” Eysenck’s observations with regard to the possibility of faking such behaviour are as follows: “Such reactions, of course, could easily be faked, but it has been shown that when, for instance the eye movements of subjects are photographed, a considerable lack of ocular co-ordination and stability is found when regression to a relatively young age occurs. Such physiological phenomena are characteristic of young children and are difficult, if not impossible, to produce voluntarily.”

      A remarkable fact is that the psychological experiences had, when the physiological condition of the body was different, are re-enacted. To quote Eysenck again, “Even more impressive is another case of a subject who had a colloid cyst removed from the floor of the third ventricle. Prior to this removal, the subject had been suffering from blindness in the left half of the right eye: After the operation, vision had become normal, but when the subject was regressed to a time shortly before the operation the visual defect again re-appeared during the regression.”

      The expected physiological reaction is not only appropriate to the age but reflects the
      physiological condition of the body at the time. In the light of the experimental evidence Eysenck concludes: “Experiments such as those
      described in some detail above leave little doubt that there is a substantial amount of truth in the hypothesis that age regression does, in fact, take place, and that memories can be recovered which most people would think had been completely lost.” 48 This is the consensus of opinion among orthodox psychologists today.

      So genuine memories not accessible to normal recall are generally evoked or the experiences re-lived at the suggestion of the hypnotist in age-regression. So at least as far as this life is concerned, to say that the memories recalled under age-regression are hallucinatory or delusive is not correct. We shall take up for consideration later in the light of the experimental data, the question as to whether the recall of alleged experiences of prior lives under hypnotic regression is hallucinatory.”

      In the preceding talk we stated that the evidence for the doctrine of rebirth was mainly of two sorts. There was (1) the experimental evidence from age-regression and (2) the spontaneous evidence based on a historical study of people, mainly children, from different parts of the world who claimed to recall their alleged prior lives.

      The Experimental Evidence

      Let us take another case, the case of Mrs. Anne Baker reported by Dr. Jonathan Rodney. 77 Mrs.Baker, a Lancashire housewife who has never studied French or been to France and whose education was very ordinary, spoke perfect French under hypnosis, referred to the death of Marie Antoinette as if it had just happened, gave her name as Marielle Pacasse and spoke of a street named Rue de St. Pierre near the Notre Dame Cathedral.

      Subsequent investigations revealed that the name Marielle is rare now, but it was much in vogue about 1794, and although there was no such street at present, there was in fact a street of that name in that vicinity one hundred and seventy years back. 78 Here again a normal explanation would not do. Apart from the knowledge of French, one would have to say that the knowledge about the streets of Paris about two centuries back was acquired either clairvoyantly or telepathically from the dead.

      An explanation in terms of spirit-possession is also possible though highly improbable. One could say that the discarnate spirit of the dead Marielle Pacasse now inhabits the body of Mrs. Baker. Normally, in the case of spirit-possession, the discarnate-spirit claims to be a separate personality and possession is not continuous, whereas in this case whenever Mrs. Baker was hypnotized she claimed to be Marielle Pacasse in her previous life. So to account for all the facts, “rebirth” is the simpler, paranormal hypothesis.

      —————————————
      Another case which cannot pass unnoticed is the famous “Bridey Murphy” case. When Mrs. Virginia Tighe was hypnotized on six occasions between November 1952 and August 1953, she recalled a life as Bridey Murphy in Ireland. It created a wide interest in “rebirth.” It will be interesting to see Professor C. J. Ducasse’s assessment of the case when it first came into the limelight and later after careful reflection in the light of the verified facts.

      In an opinion published in Tomorrow in 195679 soon after the case became known, Professor Ducasse suggests three hypotheses to account for it: “That the former is a reincarnation of the latter is one hypothesis that would account for the veridicality of those details. A second hypothesis that would also account for their veridicality is that of illusion of memory that is, the hypothesis that Mrs. Tighe, in childhood or later, heard or read of the life of an Irish Bridey Murphy and then forgot this, and that, under hypnosis, the ideas so acquired were recalled by Mrs. Tighe but not the manner in which she had acquired them; and hence that they were indistinguishable by her from memories of events of a life of her own. A third hypothesis, which would also explain the veridicality of the verified details, is that while in deep hypnosis, Mrs.
      Tighe exercises powers of paranormal retro-cognition latent at other times, and vastly more far- reaching than those whose reality has been experimentally proved by Rhine, Soal and others.”
      Going on the assumption that Mrs. Tighe’s knowledge of Ireland was erroneous (as was thought at the time), Ducasse favoured the second hypothesis. Later, when further investigation vindicated the truth of Mrs. Tighe’s statements and the
      attempts at “debunking” the rebirth theory were seen to be mainly inspired by religious prejudice and based on false assertions, Professor Ducasse changed his views and favoured the first hypothesis (i.e. rebirth) without ruling out the possibility of the third. He does so in his book, “A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life After Death.”

      Here he refers to the items mentioned by Bridey, which could not be easily explained away. One of the most significant was that in her previous life she bought foodstuffs from Farrs and John Carrigan. Extensive research on the part of Mr. John Bebbington, Belfast Chief Librarian, disclosed the fact that these two grocers were found listed in a Belfast city directory for 1865–66. Bridey died in 1864. Besides, they were “the only individuals of those names engaged in the foodstuffs business there at the time.”

      Bridey also referred to a rope company and a tobacco house which were in operation in Belfast at the time, and this too was found to be correct. Another remarkable fact was that Bridey’s statements, which according to experts on Ireland were irreconcilable with known facts, were shown after further investigation not to be so. Ten such facts are listed. To take one example, one of Bridey’s statements was to the effect that her husband taught Law at the Queen’s University in Belfast, sometime after 1847. Life Magazine, on the basis of so-called expert opinion, attacked this on the ground that there was no law school there at the time, no Queen’s
      College until 1849, and no Queen’s University until 1908. However, further investigations showed that this was incorrect. There was documentary evidence to show that on December 19, 1845, Queen Victoria ordained that “there shall and may be erected one College for students in Arts, Law, Physics … which shall be called Queen’s College, Belfast.” 81 “The Queen’s University in Ireland” was founded by her on August 15, 1850.82

      Such accuracy may be due either to extraordinary clairvoyant powers on the part of the subject, or to the simple fact that these were genuine memories of her past life. Since she did not display any such clairvoyant powers in other respects during hypnosis, the latter appears to be the more plausible explanation.

      —————————————————
      Spontaneous Evidence

      The spontaneous evidence consists of accounts given by individuals, mostly children, of their alleged prior lives, which when subsequently checked prove to be historical and accurate and could not have been derived from any normal source in this life.

      There are several such cases from all over the world and reports of them are to be found in newspapers and magazines. But in coming to valid conclusions on their basis one has to rely on the trustworthy, verified accounts of scientists. The evidence should be first recorded without bias and one should then see what theory best accounts for the data.

      In this respect, one of the best studies so far is that of Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of
      Neurology and Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Virginia. He makes a detailed study and evaluation of twenty cases in one of his books.

      Let us briefly review the case of Imad Elawar, as studied and reported in this book. Imad was born on December 21, 1958 at Kornayel and talked of a previous life when he was between a year and half and two years old. He mentioned a considerable number of names of people and some events in this prior life, as well as certain items of property he claimed to have owned. He said he lived in the village of Khriby and had the name Bouhamzy. He had a woman (mistress) called Jamille, who was beautiful, and a brother called Amin, who lived at Tripoli, etc. The father, however, discredited the story and scolded Imad for talking about an imaginary past life. Once, it is said, he even recognized a resident (Salim el Aschkar) of Khriby in the presence of his paternal grandmother. The parents attached more importance to Imad’s statements after this. But no systematic attempts to verify the authenticity of Imad’s statements were made until Dr. Ian Stevenson undertook to investigate the case.

      Khriby was situated about 25 miles away from Imad’s home. The road from Kornayel was an extremely winding mountain road. The items were carefully recorded prior to the investigations at Khriby. It was revealed that of the fifty-seven items mentioned, fifty-one were correct. In Dr. Stevenson’s own words, “Of the fifty-seven items in the first tabulation Imad made ten of the statements in the car on the way nearly all on the first visit to Khriby before we reached that village; but of these ten, three were incorrect. Of the remaining forty-seven items, Imad was wrong on only three items. It seems quite possible that under the excitement of the journey, and perhaps sensing some expectation of hearing more statements on our part, he mixed up images
      of the “previous life” and memories of his “present life.” In any case, his “score” for this group of statements definitely fell below that for the forty seven made before we left Khriby.”

      Some of the items were very specific, as when he said that they were building a new garden at the time of his death, and that there were cherry and apple trees in it, and that he had a small yellow automobile, a bus etc.

      Besides the verification of these items of information, there were significant recognitions of persons and places, sixteen of which are listed; for example, we may note the recognition of the place where Ibrahim Bouhamzy (the previous personality) kept his dog and his gun. He also recognized the sister of Ibrahim, namely Huda, and the portrait of Ibrahim’s brother, Fuad. He was also able it is said to recall his last words before death, which his sister, Mrs. Huda Bouhamzy remembered, and which were, “Huda, call Fuad”.

      When we consider the above, as well as the similarity in the character traits between the previous and the present personalities, chance or coincidence has to be virtually ruled out. Since neither fraud nor self-deception nor racial memory could account for the evidence, a paranormal explanation is called for. And of all the different paranormal explanations such as telepathy-cum-clairvoyance plus personation, spirit-possession etc., rebirth appears to be the most plausible. This was, in fact, Dr. Stevenson’s own general conclusion after studying several cases of this type.

      In the spontaneous case there is no hypnotist to put any suggestions into the mind of the child. We may say, however, that the child’s beliefs about a prior life are a product of his fantasy. But such an explanation ceases to be plausible in the above instance when the so-called “fantasies” turn out to be historically true and were not derived from any source in this life.

    • You have probably mentioned this somewhere but what really sold me on rebirth was the phenomena of Savants – how else can anyone; academics, scientists, researchers etc explain how people with seriously impaired cognitive ability can achieve musicial, mathimatical skills – is there a scientific explanation?

    • iMeditation all of this is just anecdotal evidence there is no hypothesis. There could be plenty of alternative explanations many of which many would be far more plausible.

      What we do know is that there is a continuation through genetic information passed down and also patterns of behavior learnt from parents/siblings + environmental conditioning. That there should also be some kind of transmigration from a being that has recently died to a newly created being is an odd belief (in this day and age) and that the transmigration is conditioned by actions in the previous being, in determining which host is chosen, is also rather unbelievable and that these transmigrated tendencies would have a stronger influence/be more important than than genetic info + environmental conditioning,

      I don’t think that rebirth is needed to clearly demonstrate three characteristics? In fact the three characteristics are blatently obvious and can be observed here and now. It’s interesting that you mention “permanent or true identity” because the logical conclusion of a rebirth belief is a self view.

    • Dear Daisy,

      Also , not to mention geniuses or child prodigies, whose extraordinary accomplishments cannot be accounted for in terms of heredity or environment.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: ” There could be plenty of alternative explanations many of which many would be far more plausible.”

      It is easy for skeptics to make uninformed opinions without proper research into the subject before forming an assumption . It is still considered blind belief ,but in the opposite direction and is no more rational or logical . Numerous case studies exist but we block out these case studies , refuse or fail to look into them because they don’t fit into our conditioning , preconceived notions, and perceptions. There are various alternatives, but we need to explain what are they and in what way are they more plausible before establishing the other alternative as the reason. As you can see, researchers and therapists have put in much time and effort to research and verify the details given by these people before establishing that it is a memory of previous lives. Also , please explain how people in these case studies know things that they haven’t learned before in the present life. For example, speaking and writing in a language they haven’t learn in this life , fluently . These factors have been carefully examined .

      Peter wrote: “What we do know is that there is a continuation through genetic information passed down and also patterns of behavior learnt from parents/siblings + environmental conditioning. ”

      What we do know is not always all there is to know. Genetic and environmental conditioning do not explain prodigies, and people that came from the same egg and live in extremely similar environment all their lives yet still have very different personalities.

      Peter wrote: “That there should also be some kind of transmigration from a being that has recently died to a newly created being is an odd belief (in this day and age).

      Actually , several thousands of case studies of people who can recall past lives are continually showing up from past to present. The minute details they give can be traced and verified. Today Dr. Brian Weiss is still seeing countless of cases and trace various physical, mental, and emotional symptoms such as phobias, and the like, to past lives. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School, and founding chairman and chairman emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami. He presents numerous case studies of past life recall. Now the nation’s foremost expert on the subject . Feel free to consult his ongoing work on the subject in today’s world . Things are changing and evolving.

      Peter wrote: “and that the transmigration is conditioned by actions in the previous being, in determining which host is chosen, is also rather unbelievable and that these transmigrated tendencies would have a stronger influence/be more important than than genetic info + environmental conditioning,”

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting that it has a stronger influence than genetic and environment , but it is one of the factors that influence various characteristics and condition.

      Peter wrote: “I don’t think that rebirth is needed to clearly demonstrate three characteristics? In fact the three characteristics are blatently obvious and can be observed here and now.”

      No one is saying that rebirth is needed to see the three characteristics. But it can be seen in this process of rebirth as well and it is not contradicting the three characteristics.

      Peter wrote: ” It’s interesting that you mention “permanent or true identity” because the logical conclusion of a rebirth belief is a self view.”

      It is not to be confused with other variations of rebirth theories. I mentioned that there is ” no” permanent or true identity because the body in which we consider as self is constantly changing , so do our roles , etc…

      Now if instead of identifying with our present body and role as a permanent identity , we grasp on to the stream of consciousness that transfer from life to life as a permanent self because we haven’t seen beyond that as well then yes we are still stuck with a self view. Here it is not identifying with the body ( form aggregate) or other aggregates as self , but the we are still identified with the consciousness aggregate. This is still a self view that contradict the three characteristics and prevent a person from even stream-entry.

      Consciousness is also conditioned. It is maintained by sankhara. Sankhara is maintained by delusion. Consciousness is simply part of a process. Not being able to transcend that we will go in circles within the cycle of samsara without end still. And that is not considered liberation in the teachings of the Buddha.

    • Hi iMeditation,
      To think that death is the end is a fairly fair assumption to make. It is far more rational belief than to believe in rebirth. We have all had the experience of death. Death touches everyone’s life consistently yet how many of us have experience of rebirth? I think that as humans we have more of a problem with excepting death rather than excepting rebirth afterlife etc. I think it is those who have a faith based religious belief who have a problem with death not fitting into their conditioning , preconceived notions, and perceptions. Possibly 100 billion people have died so far so we should except rebirth on the anecdotal experiences of a hat full of people and a some not very scientific research? Do you take Dr. Brian Weiss seriously. Do you go along with all his ideas or do you pick and choose what supports your view?

      Are you saying that there is an individual stream of consciousness that transfers from life to life, kind of like a ball of energy and we choose to attach to it? Who is the “we” that attaches? Is delusion a natural force roaming in nature that blows through the trees like the wind?

    • Dear Peter, 


      Peter wrote: ” To think that death is the end is a fairly fair assumption to make. It is far more rational belief than to believe in rebirth. ”
      A person consist of Nama – rupa. If it is just Rupa alone, then after the death of the body that is the end of it. However, life is not the property of matter alone. There are both mental and material elements . And that the life-process continues or flows as a result of cause and effect.

      Peter wrote: “I think it is those who have a faith based religious belief who have a problem with death not fitting into their conditioning . ”
      Who is not accepting the death of the body ?

      Peter wrote: “Do you take Dr. Brian Weiss seriously. ”
      There is no valid data to prove the scientific unacceptability of rebirth. What is the reason not to?

      Peter wrote: “Do you go along with all his ideas or do you pick and choose what supports your view?”
      I wouldn’t consider the stream of consciousness as a permanent self. That too is simply part of a process.

      Peter wrote: ” Are you saying that there is an individual stream of consciousness that transfers from life to life, kind of like a ball of energy and we choose to attach to it? Who is the “we” that attaches?”
      I don’t mean literally, but identification with the stream of consciousness as a permanent self is not the concept of rebirth taught by the Buddha. That concept of rebirth is listed among the list of 62 wrong views that obstructs a person from even entry level enlightenment.

      Peter wrote: ” Is delusion a natural force roaming in nature that blows through the trees like the wind?”
      Delusion or ignorance is the primary cognitive defilement that is opposed by insight.

    • Peter wrote: “Possibly 100 billion people have died so far so we should except rebirth on the anecdotal experiences of a hat full of people and a some not very scientific research?”

      Is there any valid data to prove the scientific unacceptability of rebirth? How is it not scientific? If you look into the work of the Havard scientist in ” Scientific Acceptability of Rebirth” for example, you can see the that it follows the scientific method:

      Scientific Examination of Rebirth

      “If rebirth is to be discussed from an unbiased scientific point of view, it is necessary first of all to find a way of bypassing these unscientific dual barriers. This can be done by considering the standard procedure used at present for the acceptance of any modern scientific theory, and testing rebirth by following the same procedure.”

      The Scientific Method

      1. Problem/ Research Question:
      Does Rebirth Exist?

      “There are two possible scenarios – No-Rebirth scenar-io and Rebirth scenario – that can be considered. A human being is composed of the body and an imma-terial part. The body, which is the material part, is well understood because it fell within the Classical Science realm of Res Extensa and was extensively studied by scientists. The immaterial part has not been studied by scientists because it fell within the Classical Science realm of Res Cogitans. Even in Med-icine early doctors believed that all ailments of the hu-man being were only due to disorders of the material body. The subject of psychiatry in western medicine is of more recent origin……..”

      “In the No-Rebirth scenario (Fig.3) death is something like the event horizon of a black hole. Crossing the event horizon is a one-way journey and after crossing it nothing can come back, not even light. Here the body disintegrates after death and the immaterial part is either annihilated or gets into a scientifically unknown state and remains there forever, ie. each in-dividual is born, lives one lifetime and at the end of it passes the event horizon of death to a state of no return.

      “In the Rebirth scenario (Fig.4) death is not an event horizon because only the body, the material part, dis-itegrates and goes into a state of no return. The imma-terial part enters into a scientifically unknown state and reappears, after a period, in a scientifically known state in the body of an unborn infant. This is just like the way an electron disappears from an atomic orbital and reappears in another without pass-ing through the space in between, the difference being that in the disappearance and reappearance of an electron there is no time gap in between.”

      2. Hypothesis:
      Rebirth Exist

      “The above description of the phenomenon of rebirth constitute steps “a” and “b” of the scientific process. The next step of the scientific process is looking for observations that can be predicted assuming the existence of this phenomenon, observations that have a reasonable chance of being practically examined…..”

      “In examining the scientific acceptability of rebirth, therefore, one has only to go through the last two steps of scientific process. If this is done successfully rebirth is proved in the way any other theory of modern science is proved.”

      —————————————————————————————————-

      3. Experimental Design:

      “Abilities of individuals to carry memories of past events differ widely from individual to individual. Some people can remember events and experiences long passed, whereas some easily forget things within a few years. Most people vividly remember special events such as tragic happenings for a very long time, even up to death. Under hypnosis people recollect events which they had completely forgot-ten. Some people have the exceptional ability to re-call knowledge and experiences gathered long ago and use them when necessary.

      If rebirth as defined earlier is true, it should be possible to extend some of the above human capabilities, which result from immaterial aspects of the human being, beyond birth to the previous life and even beyond to earlier lives. Some people should be able to remember events in their past lives. Hypnosis must enhance this ability. Some must be able to make use of knowledge and experiences of past lives.

      With these predictions we can move on to the last stage of the scientific process, to look for these predicted observations.”

      Experiment:

      (i) Spontaneous recall of past lives,

      (ii) Past life therapy,

      (iii) Child prodigies and persons who can make use of past life knowledge and experiences.

      For more complete details, please refer to the large amount of data that has been accumulated by re-search workers around the world on matters relating to rebirth. Spontaneous recall of past lives, past life therapy, child prodigies and others who can make use of knowledge and experience gathered in their past lives are some of the aspects that have been subjected to much research and investigation.
      —————————————————————————————————-

      4. Data

      A. Spontaneous Recall of Past Lives

      “Most promising evidence bearing on rebirth comes from the spontaneous recall of past lives, especially by children. Often a child begins fumbling at the age of two, or sometimes even less, to communicate his/her memories of a previous life. A large number of such cases have been investigated all over the world. For example Dr. Ian Stevenson, Carlson Professor of Psy-chiatry at the University of Virginia (USA), has investigated over 2,000 such cases which are documented and published. There are several other researchers who have carried out such investigation on children who spontaneously recall past lives. Many of these researchers belong to religions that do not accept rebirth.

      These children speak volubly, accurately and with unswerving conviction about their previous lives, and the histories related have been verified. In most cases these children voice their past life memories between the ages of two and five. They, being small, are free of memories crowded with information of their current lives. They often use phrases such as “when I was big” and often grumble about their small bodies and even speak resentfully of not being of the same sex as be-fore. Often they yearn for the lost company of a husband, wife, son or a daughter. They hanker for the food, clothing, life style or sometimes even alcohol, drugs and tobacco of a former existence. They suffer phobias that can be linked directly to their unexpected deaths in their past lives, ie. fear of knives, water, motor vehicles etc. The strong identification felt by the subjects with the former personalities, the powerful emotional attachment expressed by them towards surviving past life relatives and friends, and the spontaneity of these, usually help to confirm the validity of such cases and exclude the possibility of fraud.”

      B. Past Life Therapy

      “Past life therapy is based on the premise that some people carry in their subconscious mind memories of unpleasant events of their past lives, and these sub-conscious memories adversely affect them in their present lives. By hypnosis they can be regressed beyond their birth to their previous lives or even to ear-lier lives. Many ailments, all types of phobias and even certain physical ailments can be cured by such hypnotic regression. Past life therapy has now become a standard western medical treatment for such ailments.

      Several books have been written on this subject by medical practitioners who carry out such treatment. The interest of most of them is in curing the patients and only a few are interested in checking the information given about past lives. But a large number has been checked and documented. When regressed to past lives people often speak in languages they had spoken in their past lives which are completely un-known to them in their current lives….. ”

      C. Child Prodigies and Others who can use Past Life Knowledge and Experiences

      “The Roman philosopher, Cicero, maintained that the speed with which children grasp innumerable facts is strong proof of men knowing most things before birth. Since then the belief that genius is the flowering of past life experience has gained ground. Exceptional precocious talent in certain children of picking up knowledge can be explained only by re-birth. For example, a six-year-old child who had never played a musical instrument suddenly play-ing near masterpieces on a piano, or a three-year-old child mentally following his father’s calculations on his employees pay sheet and spotting mistakes and later becoming one of the greatest mathemati-cians of the century cannot be explained in any oth-er way. The latest such person reported is a four-year-old American girl who speaks three languages, programs the home computer and reads Shake-speare instead of trying to read children’s books. She has learned the Japanese language entirely from books…..”

      —————————————————————————————————-
      5. Conclusion:

      “If the observations made in the last step do not agree with the predictions of the earlier step the proposed theory is not acceptable. If they agree, the theory be-comes acceptable. If more and more observations show agreement the theory receives stronger scientific acceptance. Once a theory becomes scientifically accepted by this test it remains so unless someone finds reliable new data to prove its unacceptability.

      The observations made on the above areas agree with the predictions made in the third stage of the scientific process, thereby successfully completing the four step test for scientific acceptability. I have so far not come across any scientifically acceptable data that can go to prove the scientific unacceptability of rebirth.

      On the basis of these tests it is concluded that the scientific acceptability of the phenomenon of rebirth is proven at least on three counts.

      A science-minded person often finds it difficult to accept rebirth because he has failed to perceive a rebirth mechanism that is intelligible within the outdated Descartes’ classical science frame work. But Modern Science, specifically Quantum Mechanics, has compelled us to accept unintelligible mechanisms of natural phenomena – like the jump of the electron – and we do not hesitate to accept them. Likewise with the data available we are compelled to accept rebirth as a reality.”

    • Hi iMeditation,
      Is the above your own work. Unfortunately to me it is just a jumble of verbiage. Rebirth is out on the fringe like UFO’s to the scientific world and to rational thought.

      I’m not even sure why you would want to try and validate a belief through a medium in which it is destined to fail.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: ” Is the above your own work. Unfortunately to me it is just a jumble of verbiage. ”

      I pointed out that there are plenty of case studies and evidence which indicate the existence of rebirth, but we are simply not aware of them . However , you failed to see the hypothesis. To make it easier I provided an example and point out where is the hypothesis and how the research follows the scientific method.
      Peter wrote: “Rebirth is out on the fringe like UFO’s to the scientific world and to rational thought.”

      There are plenty of rational people who accept the rebirth theory. To name a few:

      Thomas A. Edison, Aristotle, Leonardo di Vinci, Shakespeare, Dante, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, Thomas Huxley, Carl Gustav Jung, Marcus Tillius Cicero, Henry David Thoreau, Julius Caesar, Francis Bowen

      Only hasty thinkers would jump to the conclusion despite all the evidence available. I haven’t seen you provide any rational evidence to back up your conclusion.

      Peter wrote: “I’m not even sure why you would want to try and validate a belief through a medium in which it is destined to fail.”

      I say it’s been proven by many case studies and research. Denial is hardly a rational or legitimate way to refute them.

    • Hi iMeditation
      The case studies do not constitute evidence they are just anecdotes.
      What is the hypothesis and how it is tested?
      If we are not aware of something how can we know it exists?

      “There are plenty of rational people who accept the rebirth theory.” There are plenty more who don’t.

      “Only hasty thinkers would jump to the conclusion despite all the evidence available” What evidence?

      “I say it’s been proven by many case studies and research” it hasn’t.

      Oh and in you post May 6 2011 2:27 pm what are Fig.3 and Fig.4? In fact the whole of that post seems to have been copy and pasted. An odd way to do discussion.

      Do you think I am in denial? Denial of what?

      P.S. Long answers aren’t always good ones :)
      P.P.S. Thanks for taking the time.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “The case studies do not constitute evidence they are just anecdotes.”

      Before establishing that these are just amusing stories you need to prove it. For example, explain how they speak and write in a language they haven’t learn before in this life, etc…How do you come to that conclusion. That would be a rational thing to do.

      Peter wrote: “What is the hypothesis and how it is tested?….
      Oh and in you post May 6 2011 2:27 pm what are Fig.3 and Fig.4? In fact the whole of that post seems to have been copy and pasted. An odd way to do discussion…..
      P.S. Long answers aren’t always good ones :)
      P.P.S. Thanks for taking the time.”

      It appears to me that you did not look into the material and case studies on rebirth available from past to present before making a hasty assumption that it didn’t exist. Therefore I highlighted one or two researches for you to see. Yet you complained that you don’t know where is the hypothesis. In the May 6 post I tried my best to shorten the book ” Scientific Acceptability of Rebirth” by a Havard scientist to make it easier for you to see the that it follows the scientific method and pointed out the hypothesis, which is very straight forward by the way. Even so you didn’t see it. Maybe it is more correct to say that you didn’t understand it rather than understood the material and yet being in denial of what is in front of you.

      Anyhow, since I am not seeing any reliable new data to prove the unacceptability of rebirth there is no reason to tamper with the teachings of the Buddha on rebirth without a permanent self.

      With metta,

    • iMeditation, The onus would be for those who put forward these anecdotes as being real examples of rebirth to provide the proof.

      Without going into specific cases alternative explanations for previous life stories could be delusion, mis-interpretation, deception, natural ability, training. There could also be other unknown or unexplained reasons. There was a monk called Ajahn Yantra who claimed that he had been Gengis Khan in former life. Would you have excepted his testimony as proof of rebirth? Would I have been obliged to prove that he wasn’t Genghis Khan?

      Oh so the post May 6 2011 2:27 pm was a copy and paste job. Why didn’t you give the author of the piece due credit? Who is the Havard scientist? I’m not sure how partially copy and pasting an un-credited article that refers to information that has not been made available could possibly make things easier for me.

      I personally think associating the works of Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Ian Stevenson etc with the deep and profound teachings of the Buddha is a disservice.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “There was a monk called Ajahn Yantra who claimed that he had been Gengis Khan in former life. Would you have excepted his testimony as proof of rebirth? ”
      Please understand that in these case histories , researchers not only locate people who remember past lives but they also put much time and energy into investigating the detailed information they gave . On top of that , many are children at a very young age who couldn’t have learned or fabricate the complex details that researchers analyze . Also with adults, speaking and writing in a foreign language they have not learned in this life things that you can’t simply dismissed as made up. Please refer to the cases I presented and the countless cases in various research.

      What I hear from you is an opinion without concrete evidence to support it. It can’t be used as proof that there is no rebirth.

      Peter wrote: “Oh so the post May 6 2011 2:27 pm was a copy and paste job. Why didn’t you give the author of the piece due credit? Who is the Havard scientist? I’m not sure how partially copy and pasting an un-credited article that refers to information that has not been made available could possibly make things easier for me.”

      I don’t get what is the confusion here. I presented case studies and you complained that it was unscientific. So above I gave you an example how it follows the scientific method steps by step. I gave the obvious hypothesis in the post, and yet you still asked for the hypothesis. At the top of the post I wrote: ” If you look into the work of the Havard scientist in ” Scientific Acceptability of Rebirth” for example, you can see the that it follows the scientific method: ”

      Clearly the title of the book is there. I thought I don’t have to point out that simply googling that title would lead you to the book , which in turns give you the entire author information and history, publishers, year date , content , and the like. I not sure if you consider trying that. If I just listed the author’s name and no title , then you might not know which books of his I am talking about. But with the book’s title, it shouldn’t be too hard to find any other details relating to it:

      Author: Dr. Granville Dharmawardena ,”who is an eminent scientist referred to in the nuclear science text books in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, had his education and train ing at the Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, Harvard University in the United sTates, the Australian School of Nuclear Technology, Australia, and at the Atomic Energy Comimission in France , and being most familiar with the views of the twentieth Century modern science, presents here a study he has made of rebirth. ”

      Peter wrote: “I personally think associating the works of Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Ian Stevenson etc with the deep and profound teachings of the Buddha is a disservice.”

      These people work with those who recall past lives memories for decades, which provide evidence to the existence of rebirth. I didn’t say that they also teach the path to enlightenment.

    • iMeditation
      You seem to put a lot of trust in the researchers and the research subjects. It is amazing what some would do for a bit of limelight or for a few book sales. Some also may just really want it to be true.

      iMeditation you say; “What I hear from you is an opinion without concrete evidence to support it. It can’t be used as proof that there is no rebirth.” I don’t think that I actually have said there is no rebirth. What I have said is that in my opinion it is more rational to believe that there is no rebirth rather than to believe in rebirth as a transmigration from body to body. Sometimes things are not black or white or they are not as we understand them to be.

      Well I’m still not sure why you didn’t say it was the work of Dr. Granville Dharmawardena when I asked you May 6 2011 5:51 pm. Do you seriously take that article to be scientific proof of rebirth?

    • Dear Peter,

      I didn’t remember the exact spelling of the author’s name but the simple book title, so I just put that instead. I figured if you want any further detail such as the publisher, date, and the like you can google the title yourself and get whatever information that you want and it should be obvious and not that difficult.

      Peter wrote: “I don’t think that I actually have said there is no rebirth. What I have said is that in my opinion it is more rational to believe that there is no rebirth rather than to believe in rebirth as a transmigration from body to body. ”

      Then why did you speak about abolishing the Buddha’s teaching on rebirth without a self.

    • iMeditation, You managed to copy and paste giant chunks from the book but couldn’t copy and paste his name?

      I actually didn’t talk about abolishing “the Buddha’s teaching on rebirth without a self”.

      Back to Dr. Dharmawardena: Do you think that his article provides scientific proof of rebirth? Do you think that Dr. Dharmawardena started from a neutal position and became convinced of rebirth due to the overpowering scientific evidence?

    • Dear Peter,

      I am focusing on the points and not minor details. I referred you to Dr. Brian , Dr. Ian, Cayce and Dr. Granville Dharmawardena . You immediately dismissed them without being able to refute their data. These people are from various East and West with varied background.

      You wrote:

      “Do you take Dr. Brian Weiss seriously. ”

      “I personally think associating the works of Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Ian Stevenson etc with the deep and profound teachings of the Buddha is a disservice.”

      Why are you ridiculing people without addressing their data directly. Do you think this should be taken seriously as proof against rebirth?

    • Hi iMeditation
      Do you seriously think that you have provided anything that could be consided scientific proof of rebirth? Are you not open to the possibility that there could be other possible explanations for past life stories that have been related?

      I’m not sure what data you would like me to address and I don’t think that I am ridiculing anyone. I’m just giving my opinion.

      Have a look at the “Criticism” section on the wikipedia page for Brian Weiss: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Weiss

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “Do you seriously think that you have provided anything that could be consided scientific proof of rebirth? Are you not open to the possibility that there could be other possible explanations for past life stories that have been related? ”

      I am open to hear a rational proof against rebirth, that is why I ‘ve been waiting . Simply saying things like , oh I can’t take him seriously, or him, and him. That doesn’t disprove their points in any way.

      About PLR, I already present information regarding the dismissal of PLR above:

      “Under hypnosis a subject can recall or re-live his past experiences. With regard to this life when regressed to age six, for instance, the subject would behave, write and talk as he or she did at that time and recall the past experiences, which it may not be possible to recall by normal means. The handwriting and the memories could be independently checked. Such experiments have convinced psychologists and psychiatrists today that the authentic buried memories of one’s childhood experiences, which cannot be called to mind via normal consciousness, can be unearthed by hypnosis. It may be asked whether the subject is not just responding to the suggestions of the hypnotist and is merely play-acting or shamming. That this is not so has been proved experimentally.

      Dr. H. J. Eysenck states that “in one case it was found that when a twenty-year-old girl was regressed to various ages she changed the chalk to her left hand at the six-year-level; she had started writing with the left hand, but had been forced to change over at the age of six.” In another case a thirty-year-old was hypnotized and regressed to a level of about one year of age, on a chair arranged in such a way that with the release of a latch it would fall back into a horizontal position. When the latch was released the behaviour elicited was not that of an adult but of a child. An adult, it is said, would quite involuntarily extend both arms and legs in an effort to maintain balance. Since the subject made no movement of the limbs but screamed in fright and fell backward with the chair, urinating in the process, Eysenck comments, “It is unlikely that such behaviour is simply due to play-acting.”

      Intelligence and achievement tests have been used to assess the nature of the behaviour of regressed subjects and it has been found that “people tend to behave on tests of this type in a manner roughly appropriate to the given age.” Eysenck’s observations with regard to the possibility of faking such behaviour are as follows: “Such reactions, of course, could easily be faked, but it has been shown that when, for instance the eye movements of subjects are photographed, a considerable lack of ocular co-ordination and stability is found when regression to a relatively young age occurs. Such physiological phenomena are characteristic of young children and are difficult, if not impossible, to produce voluntarily.”

      A remarkable fact is that the psychological experiences had, when the physiological condition of the body was different, are re-enacted. To quote Eysenck again, “Even more impressive is another case of a subject who had a colloid cyst removed from the floor of the third ventricle. Prior to this removal, the subject had been suffering from blindness in the left half of the right eye: After the operation, vision had become normal, but when the subject was regressed to a time shortly before the operation the visual defect again re-appeared during the regression.”

      The expected physiological reaction is not only appropriate to the age but reflects the
      physiological condition of the body at the time. In the light of the experimental evidence Eysenck concludes: “Experiments such as those
      described in some detail above leave little doubt that there is a substantial amount of truth in the hypothesis that age regression does, in fact, take place, and that memories can be recovered which most people would think had been completely lost.” 48 This is the consensus of opinion among orthodox psychologists today.

      So genuine memories not accessible to normal recall are generally evoked or the experiences re-lived at the suggestion of the hypnotist in age-regression. So at least as far as this life is concerned, to say that the memories recalled under age-regression are hallucinatory or delusive is not correct. ” -K.N. Jayatilleke

    • iMeditation, So your starting position is that rebirth, as in the transmigration of something from one being that has died into the egg of a newly conceived being, is a fact (1 being dies, 1 being is born the new being is a continuation of the old beings karmic force?). And until shown to be otherwise you will see rebirth as a fact, rather than a belief?

      It doesn’t concern you that so many billion people have died and the anecdotal evidence. we would have to say is, like a drop of water in the ocean. That millions of peoples friends and loved ones have died and they have not bothered to continue the relationship in a way that can be appreciated by those who have been left behind. That we can often see the slow degeneration of the mental faculties in people as they age and then die. That we already know that new beings are a composit of there parents ancestors DNA and now we have a random third party (posibly animal)coming into the creation of a new being?

    • dear peter,

      just jumping into the conversation here, I’ve done some reading and had some conversation on this topic; Ayya Mahacitta, one of our nuns, is a biologist. The reality is that DNA explains a lot less than we believe it does. Actually DNA basically codes for the formation of proteins. There is very much about humanity that DNA does not even touch, and there is no reason to imagine it ever will. We are left in the virtually certain knowledge that factors other than DNA play an important role in the formation of a person. This, of course, does not prove that kamma is one of those forces…

    • Did you guys see this?

      http://www.fox8.com/wjw-reincarnation-txt,0,1190900.story

      Quite an interesting story.

      About convincing others, the world is filled with people with wrong view, it’s the nature of things, so we can’t convince everyone to be Buddhists. Since the goal of Buddhism is to end rebirth, I don’t see how someone can call themselves a Buddhist if they are not open to rebirth.

    • Hi Dania,
      Not sure about iMeditation but I saw this when it was posted to this blog a few months back. Here is a rebuttal: http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/07/reincarnation_a.html
      I think some of these cases/shows are verging on child exploitation.

      With regard to your second paragraph. Do you think that Buddhists (or should I say those who follow“Early Buddhism”) have a monopoly on right view? Do you see right view as a fixed position that we hold to? I don’t see the goal of Buddhism as the ending of rebirth (if we understand rebirth along the lines of the James Leininger clip).

      From the Bhaddekaratta Sutta (Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

      You shouldn’t chase after the past
      or place expectations on the future.
      What is past
      is left behind.
      The future
      is as yet unreached.
      Whatever quality is present
      you clearly see right there,
      right there.
      Not taken in,
      unshaken,
      that’s how you develop the heart.
      Ardently doing
      what should be done today,
      for — who knows? — tomorrow
      death.
      There is no bargaining
      with Mortality & his mighty horde.

      Whoever lives thus ardently,
      relentlessly
      both day & night,
      has truly had an auspicious day:
      so says the Peaceful Sage.

    • Hi Peter,
      If one believes and follows the Buddha’s fundamental teachings, (4 noble truths, eightfold path), then one can call oneself a Buddhist.
      If one doesn’t believe the Buddha’s fundamental teachings, then i don’t see how one can call oneself a Buddhist.
      If one goes to the 3 refuges then one is considered a Buddhist, and one of the refuges is the Dhamma…. which is the Buddha’s teachings.
      The essential teachings are considered the four noble truths, among others.
      First noble truth: Birth is suffering.
      so the goal is to end Birth.
      Actually since the fourth noble truth is the Eightfold Path, whose 8th factor is the jhanas, i also don’t see how people who ignore this can call themselves Buddhists either ;o)
      But I guess people can call themselves whatever they like. I just want to encourage Buddhists to go back to the Buddha’s teachings if they are serious about liberation and ending samsara, since i notice that there is a lot of non-Buddhist stuff going on in the name of Buddhism. In the Maha-parinibbana sutta the Buddha did mention that he wanted his lay disciples to be able to correct if the Dhamma is being misrepresented. “I will not attain final nibbana as long as my (4 assemblies) …. refute the contrary teachings that have arisen which are easily refuted by Truth”
      But believe what you want, I just wanted to encourage Buddhists to read the Buddha:)

    • Dania, You didn’t answer my questions. You also didn’t answer my question on the other thread you started.

      I’m struggling to see the relevance of your post above. Are you trying to excommunicate me?

    • Dear Dania,

      Thanks for sharing the news story . It is worth considering.

      Although I am not discussing this case history in particular, however someone mentioned that the trip to the museum is a possible cause for these information coming from the child. However, this explanation doesn’t account for the numerous other verifiable details given by the child.

      It is more likely that it is a trigger for the traumatic past life memory of death in a plane crash. Because the memory was triggered by a reminder does not prove that the traumatic memories are fabricated. Numerous details given by the child are verifiable except for one or two. Even when it comes to things that just happened 20 years ago in this very life, if we ask the person about the details, surely they will not be able to recall 100 out of 100 events correctly but would forget the exact name or address of a location where a certain event took place or the name of someone who interviewed him/ her for example. If someone tell us to name all the toys we own years ago, some might not be able to . The visit to the museum could trigger the traumatic memory of death in a plane crash of a previous life immediately before this one and doesn’t prove that the memories are fabricated because it doesn’t account for the numerous other verifiable details given by the child.

      The cases I mentioned includes who people speak and write in a foreign language that they haven’t learned in this life. That and many other details need to be addressed before dismissing it as mere stories.

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter quoted : ”
      You shouldn’t chase after the past
      or place expectations on the future.
      What is past
      is left behind.
      The future
      is as yet unreached.
      Whatever quality is present
      you clearly see right there,
      right there.”

      It is true that our practice in daily life is to bring our mind back from dwelling into the past and future. This helps us find contentment within this very moment rather than living like a donkey chasing after a carrot ( desire) on a stick that the rider dangled in front of it. It is a key aspect of our practice in every moment and the verse above is pointing to just that. However it shouldn’t be stretched to mean that there is no rebirth. Because there is a verse where the Buddha spoke about both, being present and the next life :

      ” Lift yourself up. Be attentive.
      Act virtuously.
      One who does good deeds lives happily,
      Both in this life and the life to come.

      Act righteously. Refuse to do otherwise.
      One who follows this path lives happily,
      Both in this life and the life to come. ”

      Although there is the teaching on rebirth and the practice for Non-returning and Arahantship where one is liberated from returning to other temporary deva planes, human planes , or lower, that does not mean that the benefit of the practice can only be experienced in the next life or that is what the whole path is for. The idea is to experience our full potential in this very life just like a caterpillar is able to experience its full development in this very life as a butterfly and fly about freely ( but that is not to say that some won’t take longer). Each person has their own priorities in life, so they practice as much as they feel comfortable with .

      The benefit of being in the moment, and doing good deeds can be experienced in this very life and the next. For those who don’t believe in the existence of the next life and only practice being present, doing good deeds , and meditate to experience its benefit in this life, they can do so. If there is a next life, then naturally their practice of doing good deeds and meditation will serve as a cause for a pleasant existence just the same. However, if they have not reached non-returning to full enlightenment then there is the possibility of having to come back to the earth plane or lower when they exhausted their merits. Only in Non-returning do they remain in the Pure Abodes until full enlightenment without coming back . In any case, a person doesn’t have to believe in rebirth to benefit from the practice of being fully present, doing good deeds, and meditation because their benefits can be directly experienced ” in this life “. The ones that are fully enlightened can experience the liberation and contentment of enlightenment in this very life and there is no need to think about the next life. With practice people can experience the various aspects of the teachings for themselves , including the process of rebirth without a permanent self.

      Peter wrote: ” So your starting position is that rebirth, as in the transmigration of something from one being that has died into the egg of a newly conceived being, is a fact (1 being dies, 1 being is born the new being is a continuation of the old beings karmic force?) ”

      “The Buddhist teaching of rebirth should be differentiated from the theory of reincarnation which implies the transmigration of a soul and its invariable material rebirth.”

      Some suggest that the concept of rebirth contradicts the Buddha’s trade mark teaching on the three characteristics of Impermanence and Non-self. Therefore, this must have been added later by disciples to appease the people at that time. However, the notion that it was a later addition to appease is based on a false premise that the concept of rebirth in the Buddha’s teaching is the same as  other variations of rebirth theories in the culture during that time. In fact they are different. The Buddha rejected the numerous variations of rebirth theories during his time  and taught according to his own experience of enlightenment.  

      Here the Buddha doesn’t teach that a person’s true self is consciousness .  He  considered that a wrong view that must be overcome even for entry level enlightenment. 

      In the Buddha’s teaching consciousness is not an entity or our permanent self to be identified with . Instead , it is made up of many separate moments of awareness that are also dependent on other factors to arise . But since it happens so quickly , one after another there is the illusion of having a continuous awareness, or being someone who is the observer observing a concrete world. Neither is there a permanent ” observer” nor is there a solid world to observe.

      When it comes to the observed , we are able to see that the world itself is also made up of many tiny atoms that consist of mostly energy ( 99. 9999999999999999 empty) vibrating at a high speed to give the illusion of being solid objects that made up this world.

      The Buddha said that the world is like a dream, a bubble, a drop of dew. With the eyes we are not seeing things as they truly are.

      “Perceive the world as a bubble. Perceive the world as a mirage.” – Dhammapada

      Additionally, the so called observer, or consciousness that we often consider our true self is also made up of many unit of awareness that arise due to other factors. Consciousness too is not an entity . We can say that consciousness is not self ,and impermanent . Grasping to a view that we are permanent consciousness is considered a wrong view that serve as a cause to generate further rebirth in the cycle of samsara where the duality of dukkha and sukha always exist side by side with no permanent happiness to be found .

      It is kamma as the field, and consciousness as the seed, which is fed by the moisture of craving that kept us bound to the cycle of samsara.  

      With insight we can see things as they truly are and be liberated from it.

      The mechanism of how things function, come to be, what we take ourselves to be, and how to transcend it was taught by the Buddha. The method to directly experience the concepts he taught is through the Noble Eightfold Path. It is indeed a world transcending teaching.

    • The line “The Buddhist teaching of rebirth …. invariable material rebirth.” is a quote from Ven. Narada

    • iMeditation
      “It is more likely that it is a trigger for the traumatic past life memory of death in a plane crash” Why is it more likely?

    • Hi Bhante Sujato,
      I wouldn’t underestimate the role and importance of DNA. No doubt there is much more to be learned and other factors (known and unknown) that shape how life and humanity rolls on, environmental factors being an obvious one.

      Wikipedia has good overview article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA

      Your input and the input of others is greatly appreciated. It feels a bit like the conversations of Peter and iMeditaion are monopolizing this blog (at the moment). :)

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “It is more likely that it is a trigger for the traumatic past life memory of death in a plane crash” Why is it more likely?

      If it is a cause then many 1 1/2 year old who visit that museum will give details about other people and know things that only family members of other people would know.  However if we look at countless number of 1 1/2 year old who visit that museum , we are not likely to see such occurrence because there is nothing to trigger.  Many of us can’t  even tell where we are being taken to much less recall what happened  when we are one and a half years old in this life. But in this 1 1/2 year old in particular, it gives rise to many memories about other people’s family that are verifiable . 

      By the way, how do you explain people who speak and write fluently in a foreign language that they haven’t learned in this life and many other factors that I mentioned?

    • iMeditation. If you take sensationalist and explorative TV shows as proof of rebirth, well good for you.

      For the people speak and write fluently in a foreign language, I’m not sure. Possibly it is deception, like the mouse in the coconut. It’s amazing what people will do for attention sometimes. Possibly it is something deeper and something unexplainable. Some people even manage to speak in languages that don’t exist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaking_in_tounges.

      Have you heard of Stigmata. How would you intemperate that?

    • Dear Peter,

      Peter wrote: “For the people speak and write fluently in a foreign language, I’m not sure. Possibly it is deception, like the mouse in the coconut. ”

      Please explain to me rationally how in what way is it a deception.

    • That they already new the language. That it has been scripted. That it is being fed through a hearing aid. There are lots of possibilities.

      What is your interpretation of stigmata and speaking in tounges.

    • Dear Peter,

      There is just too much beating around the bush going on and it is wasting too much time. I am not asking about Stigmata or any of these subject, nor are my using stigmata to prove rebirth.
      Let’s just move on now.

      With metta,

  30. Hi imeditation,
    Hope this lands in the right place. Thanks for that, I think you r right about about teachers and often in those traditions they are a bit of a ‘sales pitch’ and effectively someone, could belong to a group and never meet the latest and greatest ‘teacher’ anyway, so it doesn’- work or make sense anyway ….especially as they have hundreds of students but they are used i guess to get you,in,Even if they don’t doesn’t mean you connect with them anyway when or if you do and then you are over it. So just stick to the teachings it makes more sense.
    Do you have a good explanation or definition of what a Jhana is?

    • Dear Daisy,

      Daisy wrote: “Do you have a good explanation or definition of what a Jhana is?”

      I would say in one context the word jhana can mean meditation in general . For example, holding one’s breath can be a type of meditation/ jhana. But that is not the type of meditation that is considered Right Concentration and therefore not recommended.

      The type of jhana / meditation recommended by the Buddha in particular are First Jhana, Second Jhana, Third Jhana, and Fourth Jhana . When it comes to these four jhanas in particular, they are states of one-pointed stillness .

      According to MN 108:

      “It wasn’t the case that the Blessed One praised jhana (meditation, mental absorption) of every sort, nor did he criticize jhana ( meditation, mental absorption ) of every sort.

      “And what sort of jhana did he not praise? There is the case where a certain person dwells with his awareness overcome by sensual passion , obsessed with sensual passion. He does not understand as it actually is the escape from arisen sensual lust. Making that sensual passion the focal point, he absorbs himself with it, premeditates, outmeditates, and mismeditates. ….This is the sort of meditation (jhana) that the Blessed One did not praise.

      “And what sort of meditation ( jhana, mental absorption) did he praise?
      Here, a bhikkhu, detached from sense desires, and unwholesome mental states. And with vitakka & vicara, rapture ( piti) , and happiness ( sukha) born of solitude he enters and abides in the First jhana. ….he enters and abides in the Second jhana…. he enters and abides in the Third jhana. … he enters and abides in the Fourth jhana. “- MN 108

  31. Ajahn Sujato/Ajahn Brahmali

    It is suggested in other forms of Buddhism that the fastest or possibly only way to enlightenment is through a sort of restricted act of sexual intercourse, or that this is the ‘highest’ goal or the final goal in Buddhis.

    It is suggested that all pratitioners have to do this to achieve enlightenment or Buddhahood in this lifetime.

    Is this correct?

    Regards

    Diasy

  32. .
    Ajahn Sujato/Ajahn Brahmali

    It is suggested in other forms of Buddhism that the fastest or possibly only way to enlightenment is through a sort of restricted act of sexual intercourse, or that this is the ‘highest’ goal or the final goal in Buddhis.

    It is suggested that all pratitioners have to do this to achieve enlightenment or Buddhahood in this lifetime.

    Is this correct?

    Regards

    Diasy

    • Dear Daisy,

      In the Pali suttas sexual intercourse is considered “an obstructive thing”, antarayika dhamma. There is a rule in the Patimokkha (pacittiya rules 68) that lays down an offence for bhikkhus (and there is a parallel rule for bhikkhunis) for stating that obstructive things are in fact not obstructive. There is also a sutta, MN22, where a monk is rebuked by the Buddha for stating that obstructive things are not actually obstructive.

      The whole path of Buddhism, as it is expounded in the Pali Canon, is one of moving away from sensuality. In fact, if one does not temporarily abandon sensuality completely, one will neither be able to enter deep meditation (samadhi) nor gain any profound insight.

      With metta.

    • Hi Bkikku Brahmali,

      Thank you for that.

      These practises apparently do not actually require sexual intercourse, maybe that is how they manage to get around that rule.

      I don’t really understand why they suggest these practises if they are not what the Buddha taught, but maybe they are of benefit to lay people or something. I certainly wasn’t suggesting they are something ordained people do in the Theravarden tradition at least. Maybe Michael Geshe Roache is the one to ask if they actually work ha ha.

      Hi imeditation

      Yes how can Savants (I am not too sure that is the right spelling, I can’
      t find the word in the dictionary, in the dictionary it says a savant is a person of learning, what I mean are people with intellectual disabilities who are very good at maths etc who often don’t have other abilities such as doing up there shoe laces and could not possibly have ‘learned’ these skills) and child prodegies, genius be explained?

      I guess Peter if someone doesn’t believe in rebirth then how can they believe in Karma? What happens to those that do not become awakened then after they die, and if everyone just does become awakened when they die or ‘go to heaven’ then why do we need to be virtuous in this life just to be happy in this life?

      Regards

      Daisy

    • Dear Daisy,

      Daisy wrote: ” I don’t really understand why they suggest these practises if they are not what the Buddha taught”

      This is why it is safer to compare it with the suttas.

      Daisy wrote: “but maybe they are of benefit to lay people or something. I certainly wasn’t suggesting they are something ordained people do in the Theravarden tradition at least.”

      I hope not . The Buddha actually said in Simile of the Snake Sutta:

      “Bhikkhus, that someone could indulge in sensuality, without sensual perceptions, without sensual thoughts is not possible.”

    • Hi Daisy
      I guess it depends on what we understand by karma. I think we can observe karma in this life quite clearly both on a very crude level and also on a more subtle level.

      I don’t think we need to worry to much about what happens after we die. We can be virtuous here and now to enjoy the benefits of our virtue here and now.

    • Dear Daisy,

      I’ve just read one of P.A. Payutto, which says that such an idea (enlightenment through sex) belonged to a non-Buddhist group during the Buddha’s time. So, the cult leader would have sex with his many young female followers. It’s definitely not Buddhist. Sorry I can’t remember the name of that group.

      With metta,

      dheerayupa

    • Hi Dheerayupa

      Thanks for that, I think it comes from Hindu tradition and is no doubt misused by alot of cults. Although many highly realised teachers from non-traditional Buddhist groups do seem to suggest it or something. I also wonder if it is not some sort of ‘test’ for their lamas or something. These groups can be really ‘tricky’.
      ho hum!

      Whatever .. I am just glad it is not what the Buddha taught .. transmuting desire would be difficult.. (although I am not too sure what the women do in this.. do they matter at all)…. but doing this and trying not to laugh… well I am not too sure even an enlightened being could do that!:)

      Kind Regards

      Daisy

  33. off topic:

    I want to share a really inspiring article (an encyclopedia article on happiness)

    http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/pdf/analayo/Sukha.pdf

    I’m finding it really helpful since it reminds the importance of happiness in the path, to give up the sensual happiness and pursue/develop the happiness of renunciation, seclusion & of meditation which leads to awakening. For anyone interested in happiness along the path, would strongly recommend that article above.

    It’s good to keep in mind the happiness in the path since it is difficult to give things up and go against old habits, if there would be no happiness involved.The Buddha said that if this path would not be possible and would not give happiness then he wouldn’t teach it!
    So bring on the happiness of renunciation, seclusion, peace & meditation :)

  34. A little note: I noticed some people refer to the Buddha’s teachings as ‘theravada’, but why not just call it “Buddha’s teachings” or “Early Buddhism”?
    We are all interested in what the Buddha actually taught, and it seems the best way we can get at it is through comparative studies mostly from the agamas and pali suttas. So I don’t understand why people call it theravada? Aren’t u just interested in the Buddha’s teachings rather than what people added later? I think this is something worth discussing since some people ask “what tradition are you” and I just reply “Buddhism” and then they ask ‘what lineage’? and i just say “Buddha”. What do you guys think? A second point is I thought it’s more ‘universal’ to call monastics by Venerable and Bhante/Ayya rather than “Ajahn”. For Ajahn Brahm, it’s too late since that name is already stuck to his persona, but I think it’s more appealing to early essential buddhism to skip the cultural baggage and just call the monastics venerable rather than Ajahn? For instance, Bhikkhu Bodhi is known as Bhikkhu Bodhi, and that gives the impression that he is a Bhikkhu, son of the Buddha, lineage of the Buddha. Same with Bhikkhu Analayo. That is why I tended to refer to Venerable Brahmali either as Bhante, Bhikkhu than Ajahn since Ajahn is constricted to a Thai culture, and we want Buddhism to appeal to all cultures. Anyone have an opinion on this? And if someone were to say ‘we have to respect traditions’ then i would object by saying the true tradition to respect is that of the Buddha and the Dhamma and Vinaya which he laid down and the teachings that lead to ending samsara.

    • Dear Dania,

      I would never wish to impose Thai culture or customs on any other people. It’s simply that, as a Thai, I just call Ajahn Brahm “Ajahn Brahm” because he is my teacher whose shortened name is Brahm.

      Anyway, what’s in a name? :)

      A name is just part of conventional reality. It is useful in communication, and nothing more. “When we look deeply into the matter, we will see that really there isn’t anybody there.” (Ajahn Chah)

      I don’t think Ajahn Brahm would care less about what people call his present physical existence. He knows better than most of us here that there is no Ajahn Brahm, nor Bhante Brahm, nor Bhikkhu Brahm.

      As for differnt traditions of Buddhism, well, most of us haven’t entered the stream yet, so we are still struggling to find a road that suits us, though roads are not the temple (Ajahn Chah again :) ). Once we enter the Stream, then traditions are transcended.

      Yours in the dhamma,

      dheerayupa

    • Thanks for that input Dheerayupa. I know AB doesn’t mind. He gets called many different names from very venerable Brahmavamso to others yes it’s just convention:) But since this blog is for current Buddhist themes and topics that concern our Buddhist world, I was wondering whether others think it’s worth changing the way we call monastics? For instance, previously nuns were being called ‘sister’, but now they have a more gender equal term like Venerable or Ayya. It’s not a super important issue, but it makes little differences. We don’t call monks ‘brother’ so now people decided to have more gender equality towards female monastics too. So i just thought if we do gender equality, if we also might do culture equality and call all monastics ‘venerable’ and leave aside cultural baggage. Besides, no one ‘lineage’ has it all. People can feel free to take from different teachers what they find beneficial and they don’t have to feel that they should stick to a lineage.
      However a name does make a little difference since it changes the way we look at others. For instance, people who wear a uniform (for instance a robe), affects the way they look at themselves and others look at them. The name is also part of the uniform, or else monastics would continue to wear lay clothes and call themselves by their lay name. So the name does affect perception in a little way:)
      I did admire Santi for not being part of any ‘tradition’ but simply being a Buddhist tradition. Even Bhante Sujato doesn’t call himself theravada. I found that quite inspiring, since he is following the Dhamma, not a particular lineage. I do admire the courage of Bhante Sujato to go back to the Buddha’s early teachings of Dhamma and Vinaya and not stick with the icing of a tradition. I don’t find this topic super important so please excuse me to anyone who feels offended. This just feels like a safe place to discuss current Buddhist topics so i felt comfortable raising some points.
      with metta,

    • That’s interesting, doesn’t Bhante Sujato consider himself a Theravadan monk?

    • Dear Dania,

      I understand what you mean, and I am not at all offende.

      Perhaps my language was a bit curt. I apologise. _/\_

      My explanation would be that I got so frustrated and sick of ‘traditions’ and ‘forms’ after reading P.A. Payutto’s book on the vinaya regarding Bhikkhuni ordination.

      In my humble opinion, we have been having unnecessary difficulties and pains concerning this issue simply because unenlightened human beings are so wrapped up in the delusions of conventional reality.

      If people, who are not enlightened yet, at least tried to understand that rites and rituals or rules and regualtions are merely for convenience in communication and living together; they are not the sacred stuff that we need to comply with to be deemed good followers of the Buddhas’ teachings, Bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada tradition could have been revived centuries ago!

      To be honest, I’m a bit depressed by some fixed views.

      May we all obtain Right View in our present lifetime.

      Yours in the dhamma,

      dheerayupa

  35. Hi Dania, i do think it is an interesting topic, the problem with one sort of buddhism is that they all seem to have a point where you have to make a commitment to that type; and many of these other form do say tantric sex is the highest goal, even though here thet say the opposite. In vajrayana buddhism you are forced to comit to a guru, even christianity says you must follow one god, in goenka you cant go back if you use any other methods, so how would it work, i cant imagine people doing tantric sex along side monks saying celebacy is the only thing and even lama zopa rinpoche and the dalai lama encourage tantric sex i think…how can you commit to a guru (which usually means being a follower of their students even if you dont choose them as a teacher you are forced into it etc ect…but only follow the suttas, how would these conflicts be over come?

    • Hi Daisy, I think these problems would be solved by just reading the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha actually never said to have a guru so problem solved right there:) Also Goenka is wrong in thinking that you can get awakened by being aware of body sensations. The only path to awakening is the Eightfold Path “This is the only path (the Eightfold Path); there is none other for the purification of insight.” 
Dhp. 274 If you don’t believe the Buddha, then believe science: basic psychology shows that you can’t be aware of these atomic particles. The mind creates a representation of reality based on the signals the brain receives and interprets from the sensory receptors, which have a limited receptive field, way bigger than atomic particles.
      I think these problems of different ‘traditions’ arose because people didn’t have access to the Buddha’s teachings. However now with the internet we have access to these teachings so we should be responsibly Buddhists and read the Buddha:) For instance, many are taking that online course by Bhikkhu Analayo comparing the Madhyama-āgama with it’s pali counterparts, and getting close to the Buddha’s words.
      Daisy, I think your doubts will be cleared if you go to the source: Buddha’s discourses. They are very well preserved in the Nikayas. They are very easily readable. You can read the Majjhima-nikāya and Anguttara Nikaya. Or you can listen to some sutta classes by Bhikkhus: Brahm, Brahmali & Sujato. They give excellent readings and explanations of them:)
      Here’s a link to some sutta classes:)

      http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/itemlist/category/21-sutta-study.html

      May you have a happy day! :)
      Actually, have a listen to this one

      [audio src="http://media.bswa.org/sutta_study/Brahmavamso_2011_04_10.mp3" /]

      It’s an amazing sutta class with Ajahn Brahm regarding the gradual training.
      with the suttas, there are many free online http://www.accesstoinsight.org (although some of the translations are a bit misleading)

    • Dear Dania,

      Thanks for the info. _/\_

      ………

      Dear Ven. Sujato, Ven. Brahmali,

      As Dania said that some of the translations might not be perfect, could you please recommend sutta books with fine translations in your opinion? I’m looking for:

      1. Suttas – so that I can take online studies with Ajahn Brahm on BSWA. I would prefer commercial printed books rather than e-books for later references and studies.

      2. Dhammapada

      Thank you.

      Yours in the dhamma,

      dheerayupa

    • Hi Dania

      Dania said,

      “If you don’t believe the Buddha, then believe science: basic psychology shows that you can’t be aware of these atomic particles” etc.

      Dania I want to make it clear I believe 100 per cent in the teachings of the Buddha and I am in no way disputing the Buddhas teachings as not being the path to enlightenment.

      What I was trying to say was:

      (i) every religion and or tradition says they are “right” ie christians will tell you they are right and that their followers should not believe in anything else because it is wrong… not because it is wrong, but because they believe anything that is not in line with their way of thinking is wrong.

      Therefore it is not enough for Theravaden Buddhists to just say we are right, therefore we are all that there is, just because they have finally got around to translating the texts correctly, because every tradition in Buddhism, and probably every religion will tell you the same thing … we are right.

      They very much scientifically can prove Buddhism works, but is their scientific evidence that other forms of Buddhism other than the original teachings don’t work?

      Mahayana and Vajarayana Buddhist will tell you they also teach the complete path, including the vinyaya.. whether they really do or not or it is true I don’t know but they will tell you this and that is probably for the scholars of Buddhism to work out.

      Dania said,

      I think these problems of different ‘traditions’ arose because people didn’t have access to the Buddha’s teaching”

      Exactly, yes so maybe people had to make do and created different ways of attaining some form of spiritual awakening in line with what they knew of the Buddha’s teachings…and if so now to say to people you are all wrong, umm is that fair or even Buddhist or even right?

      It is truely wonderful and everyone should have appreciation for the work of Thervaden Buddhist supporting women ….now…. but what about before this, maybe people, especially women, had to make do with where and how they could find compassion and a spiritual path and I am not saying it was right but can that also be wrong?

      Whether the original teachings translated correctly are the best path and the only path I don’t know maybe they are, but whether they are or not, from the little I know of it all it has been just as much the fault of Theravarden Buddhism and the lack of access to these teachings that other forms have been created, as it is the fault of these other traditions if they don’t strickly follow the teachings of the Buddha.

      As much as I would like to live in the present and forget the past and not think about the future I cannot help but think that one form of thought even if it is right that discounts all others as wrong without accepting some responsibility for the fact that other traditions formed in spite of them and due to lack of acess to them (the original teachings) is going to create a generation of young Buddhist who are full of ‘rightness’ which will do nothing but make me at least want to take follow something else lets just say “crop circle worshipping” whether it is right or wrong.

      There are certain aspect of every form of Buddhism that I find hard to take and I wonder if they work, I could not take the selfishness of Theravarden Buddhism although that seems to be changing, the tantric practises of Vajrayana Buddhism especially tantric sex seem to just be pretty much in line with much of the western lifestyle anyway ha ha so what is the big deal, and while I appreciate the kindness of the tulku system it is quite nullifying to non-tulkus if all you have to do is sit appreciating the kindness of these beings for coming back to help out, and if people agree to certain practises and know what they are getting into and it is for their own good that is their business, but I do not believe people should be forced into something without their consent.

      I have also heard that Buddhism would have died out altogether at one time if it weren’t for Mahayana Buddhism, that different traditions are needed for different personality types and I do believe many Buddhist from other traditions are enlightened beings.

      Maybe the original teachings are the path to enlightenment for the majority of people and Buddhism needs to return to these roots. I really do not know, but if they are then lets hope through compassionate action whether passive or wrathful, buddhism stays on that path, but for myself and also to have some sort of harmony within Buddhism and different groups I just don’t believe up until now at least there has been any right or wrong form of Buddhism.

    • Dear Dheerayupa,

      If you wish to follow Ajahn Brahm’s sutta classes you really need the “Middle Length Sayings of the Buddha”, which is Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. This book is published by Wisdom Publications in the US, and is available online through Amazon.

      Generally, Ven. Bodhi’s translations are very reliable. Another of his works is called “In the Buddha’s Words”. This is an anthology of suttas from the four main Nikayas, and thus gives you much broader access to the suttas. In this book Ven. Bodhi groups the suttas together in categories, and then introduces each section with an essay to explain the teachings. This is a very good introductory book, and is almost a course on Buddhism in its own right.

      As for the Dhammapada, there are well over 50 different translations into English! One of the translations I like is by Acariya Buddharakkhita, and was published many years ago by the Buddhist Publication Society in Sri Lanka. This translation is now available online: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.intro.budd.html

      With metta.

    • Dear Venerable Brahmali,

      Thank you so much for your information.

      I’ve already got “In the Buddha’s Words” and it has become one of my favourite books. Never thought a dhamma book could be a fun read! :)

      This new life of mine is thanks to Ajahn Brahm and you and all the good monks at Bodhinyana. Just thinking of Bodhinyana fills my heart with peaceful joy and happy gratitude. Thank you and thank you. _/\_

      With great respect,

      dheerayupa

  36. iMeditation / Apr 24 2011 8:25 am
    Bhikkhu Brahmali / Apr 25 2011 12:21 pm

    Thank you very much for your advice on P Samuppada. Nice of you to take the time to respond. I’ve bookmarked the 2 books on P Samuppada and A.Bramali’s blog and will get to read them hopefully soon. But I’m a very slow reader so hope I can lean on your knowledge again. And as there’s been a somewhat heavy conversation on rebirth going on and on and on, perhaps I can slip this one in!

    Regarding the transference of knowledge from one citta to another. Or the conditioning that passes onto future citta’s, which it does i.e. do a good act followed by good feelings. As it is well known that one citta dies BEFORE the next arises how is this knowledge, info, conditioning factors or kamma passed on?
    Warm regards
    Terry

    • Dear Terry,

      Terry wrote: “Regarding the transference of knowledge from one citta to another. Or the conditioning that passes onto future citta’s, which it does i.e. do a good act followed by good feelings. As it is well known that one citta dies BEFORE the next arises how is this knowledge, info, conditioning factors or kamma passed on?”

      As I understand it , sankhara gives rise to consciousness, rather than transferring something to an independently existing consciousness that is always there in the first place.

      About how kamma passes on, Ajahn Brahm mentioned in DO that:

      “In another sutta (SN 12, 51) The Buddha talks about how, if a person who has ignorance (avijjagato, who has gone to ignorance) plans a meritorious sankhara (punnam sankharam abhisankaroti), his consciousness goes to a meritorious place. If he plans a demeritorious sankhara (apunnam sankharam abhisankaroti), his consciousness goes to an apunna place, a demeritorious place. If he plans an anenja sankhara (anenja being something in-between), then his consciousness goes to that place accordingly.

      Again, this shows that there are three types of sankhara – meritorious, demeritorious and in-between – and that sankhara is the working of kamma. In much the same way that kamma can be made by body, speech and mind, so too there are three types of sankhara – body, speech and mind sankhara.”

      With metta,

    • Dear Terry,

      The best I can do here is to quote Ajahn Brahm who argues that nothing goes across. Ajahn Brahm argues that the ripening of kamma is equivalent to what in quantum physics apparently is called action at a distance. You may have heard of the famous experiments with entangled particles, where one particle affects the other instantaneously, regardless of the distance between the particles. That is, no information is actually passed between the particles, they are simply “entangled”. Kamma, then, arguably, works in a similar way.

      With metta.

    • The problem with this analogy is that in quantum entanglement, as you say, no information is transmitted, whereas in rebirth a lot of information is transmitted… Also, the reason for the entanglement is that the two particles are created together and in one sense are still the ‘same’ particle (whatever that means in the context of quantum theory….). It seems to me that a more straightforward analogy is simply transfer of energy in the usual electromagnetic sense: patterns of energy = information.

    • Dear Bhante,

      No information is transmitted, but the manipulation of one particle influences the other. The analogy with kamma would be that no information is transmitted, but actions in a previous life still influence our experiences in a subsequent one.

      With respects and metta.

    • But information is transmitted in rebirth – memory for one. And what is the exact meaning of quantum-entangled particles ‘influencing’ each other? If they influence each other in a measurable way, this conveys information and is ruled out. It is, as I understand it, purely in theory that such influences happen. The empirical data and formulae can be interpreted many ways.

      This is, I think, the basic problem with this analogy. A good analogy makes things clearer by moving from a relatively known thing to a relatively less known thing. It illuminates the unknown with the known. But quantum physics isn’t relatively more known than the concept of rebirth itself. Outside the community of physicists the understanding of quantum theory is so limited and confused that it is worse than useless as an explanatory device, merely evoking a bunch of half-digested memories of speculative interpretations.

      Ordinary electro-magnetic physics, however, is far better understood, and we are all very familiar with how IT transfers information, which is similar in many ways to the process of rebirth. The closest real-world example of the quantum analogy would probably be quantum encryption – but how many people have a clue what that means?

      The essential thing with an analogy for the process of rebirth is that it should show how information (or information-like things such as consciousness or kamma) can be transferred without any substantial, permanent entity being involved. Analogies with IT do just that; quantum theory does not.

      The purpose of the quantum analogy, as i understand it, is to address the issue of ‘action at a distance’. But is that really an issue, anyway? The important thing is to understand that memories, personality traits, and so on, can be transferred without a Self. If this happens via ‘action-at-a-distance’ or via a wave-like energy movement, so what?

      Quantum theory is cool. I like it. There are heaps of really interesting parallels with consciousness and all kinds of things. But i just don’t think it’s very useful as an analogy for rebirth used in this way….

  37. daisy / May 9 2011 12:28 pm

    “As much as I would like to live in the present and forget the past and not think about the future I cannot help but think that one form of thought……”

    daisy / May 9 2011 7:44 pm

    “So how are those that aren’t really academically minded, scientists, researchers etc suppose to get enlightened without without getting involved in the linage and family hierachy of gurus”……

    If I may make a suggestion here, its not a case of what one would like to do or not (12;28pm). To be a follower of the Buddha you would have to note whatever is arising and passing in your mind. I think its called choiceless awareness nowadays or mindfulness in old. It does’nt matter what is arising and passing away, just so long as you are seeing and noting what is taking place in the moment. The same applies to your comment (7:44) It does’nt matter what attainments you have or have not made in life or what you have become, just so long as you do that simple (%$!!!) practice. Doing that simple practice is what makes you a good Buddhist and nearly all the Buddha’s teachings will reveal themselves to you by practicing just that.

    Warm regards
    Terry

    • Hi Terry

      I am not too sure I fully understand what you mean, but generally yes meditation is part of the Buddhist path and devoid of concepts so yeah.

      Regards

      Daisy

  38. If anyone is interested there is a bio on Laung Por Chah’s life by Ajahn Jayasaro on youtube. It is excellent story telling and well worth listening to the whole series.

  39. Hi Dania,

    The idea that there is a fixed teaching that is Buddhism and a fixed way to interpret that teaching, and that we are going to be able to find and nail down this precise doctrine through academic study is in my opinion flawed and leads to a place of intolerance.

    For the five ascetics the essential teachings were just one sutta (or maybe two).

    • Hi Peter,
      One needs to know the teachings before one can practice.
      If one practices something that came after the time of the Buddha, attributed to the Buddha, but not actually from the Buddha- then one is wasting one’s time and life, just entangling oneself in more suffering and samsara.
      So what one is practicing, is it the real Dhamma or not? How can one know?

      One way to know is through what the Buddha told Upali: “You know what the Dhamma and Vinaya are if it leads to revulsion to the world, to fading away, stillness of the mind, wisdom, cessation & awakening & cessation of existence. Whatever leads to this you know is the teachings of the Buddha” AN 7.79 But how would we have known this teaching if it weren’t for scholars that translated and preserved them?

      Another way of knowing what is the Dhamma is in the Maha-parinibbana Sutta when he said that if we hear something is attributed to be said by the Buddha, not to just believe it yet, but compare it to all the other teachings of the Buddha and see if it fits in. So this requires a vaster knowledge of the teachings and some wise comparison.

      So we need to rely on academics that discover what the Buddha actually said. If one is a Buddhist, then one’s authority is the Buddha.

      In terms of ‘fixed teachings’, the Buddha said there is ‘right view’, so yes, there are teachings that lead to Nibbana, and there are teachings that lead to more suffering.
      As for me, I’m basing my practice on the Buddha’s teachings and so far I’m happy with its results.

    • Hi Dania
      I think there are teachings that came after the time of the Buddha that are significant and useful and which are part of the Buddhas legacy like the teachings from the third Zen patriarch or Ajahn Chah.

      I am not negating the value of study and academic work I am just saying that I think there are limitations.

      In my opinion the factors of the path remain in the realm of the conditioned and thus they change. Right view would be dependent on time and place.

      That you are happy with the results of your practice is good. No doubt many who have practiced with Goenkaji would say the same.

      Hopefully this post lands in the right place :)

    • Dear Peter,

      I agree in part to what you are saying, I beleive the Buddha said something like it is not good to not judg others spiritual paths but I have also done a goenka retreat and agree it has its value, even still found that without lovingkindness mediation i would have not got through it. I must admit to feeling guilty at not being able to follow strictly their teachings especially as they supply such good facilities for meditation. There were though people who apparently ended up climbing up trees and doing strange things ‘whatever’..the question is does following these teaching lead to awakening and if they don’t teach the path to awakening how can they lead to awakening?

    • Hi Daisy,
      I was really just using Goenka as an example of how followers of a certain path may be happy with the results at a certain time.

    • Hi Peter,

      Good point Peter …..but it could be a bit like marriage, you know you think someone is wonderful because at first they are but then you realise once you get to know them they are not what you thought they were – but it is too late you are comitted ha ha :) :)

      Kind Regards

      Daisy

    • Hi Daisy, I understand your point. What was mentioned before was that many teachings can be ‘helpful’, even Christianity has it’s positive points like loving thy neighbour, but it doesn’t lead to complete ending of suffering.

      I too went on a Goenka retreat once however once I read the Digha Nikaya even just a little bit and read the gradual training and Eightfold Path, once can see that Goenka’s teaching isn’t actually what the Buddha taught.
      Sure the body scan is good as an object of meditation (so that one doesn’t get lost in thought), but I agree it lacks the loving kindness which is needed in the path. Right intention: peace, kindness and gentleness.

      I mentioned before that Goenka’s theory about being aware of subatomic particles is actually not true in terms of science. Basic psychology tells us that we can’t experience anything smaller than our receptive field. Basically, our sensory receptors get triggered by an external stimulus and release electrical impulses which get to our brain and then it represents reality depending on our views and past experience. Our reality is created. That’s why everything needs to vanish through meditation practice (jhanas) in order for us to see the truths of non-self, impermanence and suffering and so the process we call a self can no longer have craving (leading to rebirth). So we really have to go back to the Buddha’s teachings :o) There is an element of faith since if one thinks of oneself as Buddhist, then one trusts Buddha to be the best teacher. Through comparative studies between the Agamas and Pali Nikayas we get a very good idea of the words of the Buddha, which gives us confidence in basing our practice on these early texts :) I’m not saying that certain monks should be ignored, but when it comes to confusions as to what the Buddha taught, then it only makes sense to go back to the source. :)

    • The trouble is Dania you are not going back to the source. You are just going back to an interpretations from an earlier point in history.

    • Hi Dania,

      Thanks for that, that is very interesting.

      It is a pity these Goenka places cannot be used just as generic meditation centres for all faiths and religions to find a place and time to practise meditation, as they have such good facilities and centres that are both affordable and easy to access and close to major cities – it is a pity that at a certain point they say you can only practise their method, which you have pointed out is possibly wrong in terms of science and also for Buddhists not in line with buddhist doctrine.

      From the little I know about Buddhism I think in the end concepts (for example scientific concepts) are also not Buddhism or that the Budha taught something like Buddhism is not about concepts, yet I agree they are a useful method, especially for westerns, to prove and understand Buddhism.

      I did find Goenka’s retreats quite useful and their concept of generosity in the way they run the retreats on a pay if you can, and the rich help the poor basis an ideal that I would have hoped came from the Buddha, as it seems such a good one, especially in this day and age where there is such a gap between rich and poor and whereby the rich seem to getting richer and the poor seem to be getting poorer.

      Anyway thank you again I found your post very informative and did not know that about the Goenka method, even though as I said at the time I did the retreat I found them to be of benefit and will always appreciate the acceptance, generosity and kindness they showed me.

      Kind Regards and HAPPY VESEK DAY :)

      Daisy

    • Hi Daisy,

      As you say, there are many wonderful aspects of the goenka system, and like you i have wished that a little more openness would be helpful. But perhaps this is missing the point: it seems to be the very strict, determined nature of the process is where, for many, it gains it’s strength.

    • Hi Peter

      (: Happy Vesek Day :)

      Sorry for butting in on your post to Dania but I remembered after I read your post to Dania that on a talk (http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/itemlist/category/20-ajahn-brahmali.html – I think it was this one but don’t quote me on that, it may have acutally been one by Bhikku Sujato :) that although the Suttas have been misinterpreted in various times in history the early teachings have been interpreted in various different countries and that they all came to the same conclusion so this kinda proves that these interpretations are right.

      Possibly Dania or after Vesek when the Monks and/or Nuns are not so busy they can clarify this or give a proper reference but it seemed to make sense to me.

      Metta

      Daisy

    • Hi Daisy,
      My point is that we can’t actually trace any teachings all the way back to the historical Buddha and that is fact.
      In the end Buddhism is like all other religion it comes down to faith, interpretation and practice and that is my opinion.

    • Hi Peter,

      Fair enough … everyone is entitled to their own opinion, just go with what works for you and what doesn’t hurt others. :)

      Metta
      Daisy

    • Hi Ajahn Sugato,

      I didn’t mean to insinuate it was some loopy love-in sort of place, it ain’t that….no way… that is for sure! and learning self-discipline is part of the attraction, (and believe it or not i did actually sit the whole thing) One guy i talked to said he had been to about 4 that year and was very pleased with himself for sitting though migrane headaches, severe back pain etc so yes obviously there is some strength in that.

      I just don’t sometimes don’t understand what is the difference between Buddhism and the world when this becomes like a sort of forced thing..how is it any different to say a prison or the military or something, not saying it is like that at all as I said they were very human, but do you understand what I mean? (because I am not even sure I do)

      Or maybe I should ask… what is the difference between the military and Buddhism if all it is about is learning discipline at all costs?

      Regards

      Daisy

  40. Hi Daisy,

    Just reading your post I wasn’t actually sure what you were saying are you saying yes just follow the early teachings or no don’t, would you consider yourself better off with a Guru?

    I’m not saying either. The teachings from the sutta are the basis for the religion that is Buddhism but there are teachings which are outside of the sutta but which are also Buddhist teachings, for example the teachings of Ajahn Chah. In my opinion there are also teachings, which are completely outside of Buddhism but which can also be of benefit and are compatible. I think we need to be circumspect and use our own intelligence, as well as learning from the wise and those with experience. I also think that many teachers teach both what is right and what is wrong. What is appropriate for some and not appropriate for others.

  41. Bhikkhu Brahmali / May 11 2011 12:07 pm
    sujato / May 11 2011 4:27 pm
    Bhikkhu Brahmali / May 12 2011 11:30 am
    sujato / May 13 2011 11:10 am

    Thanks again for your answers. It’s still of course difficult for me to understand especially as I don’t know about quantum physics or even electro magnetics. I did rather favour the AB explanation but that’s going on feeling, not knowledge. Let’s say that what I have learned is that it’s a heap deep subject! Hopefully one does’nt need to know exactly how it works to continue the practice. I did think that there may have been something in the abhidhamma about this but maybe not. Anyway thank you very much for this information.

    PS. iMeditation – (iMeditation April 1st, 2011) . I am working on this!

    PPS. Does anyone know where one can buy a copy of “Encyclopaedia of Buddhism” by Prof Malalasekera (Sri Lanka)? I noticed this from a posting by –
    Dania / May 11 2011 6:38 pm

    http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/pdf/analayo/Sukha.pdf

    And this showed it was the 8th volume.

    I checked with “Wisdom books” who are the distributer for BPS in England and they say that they can’t get it as it’s a SL government thing. However it is listed on the BPS website (vol 1 to 7). I have sent 2 emails to them but have’nt received a reply.
    As Ven. Analayo has contributed to this Encyclopaedia presumably he may know where to get a copy, but I have’nt managed to track down a contact email anywhere on the net for him.

    Warm regards
    Terry

    • Dear Terry,

      Terry wrote: ” Does anyone know where one can buy a copy of “Encyclopaedia of Buddhism” by Prof Malalasekera (Sri Lanka)?

      His other book ” Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names” is great.

      http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/dic_idx.html

      Hopefully ” Encyclopedia of Buddhism” will be available in the Amazon kindle format along with other formats.

      I wonder if Ajahn Brahmali has any information on it ?

      Terry wrote: “PS. iMeditation – (iMeditation April 1st, 2011) . I am working on this!”

      If you are pondering about the connection between sankhara and consciousness , maybe these suttas can explain it more clearly :

      .” Then , bhikkhus, it occurred to me, `With the presence of what does consciousness ( vinnana ) come to be? What conditions consciousness ( vinnana ) ?’

      ‘ Then, bhikkhus, through yoniso manasikara ( proper attention, attending to the source ), there took place in me a wisdom and realization: ‘ When volitional formation (sankhara) is present, consciousness ( vinnana ) comes to be; consciousness ( vinnana ) is conditioned by volitional formation (sankhara).’- Maha Sakyamuni Gotama ( SN 12. 1. 10)

      “ And what , bhikkhus are sankhara ( volitional formations ) Bhikkhus, sankhara are threefold : as bodily sankhara, verbal sankhara and mental sankhara. These are the threefold sankhara.” -Vibhanga Sutta ( SN 12.1.2 )

      ————————————————————–
      BODILY, VERBAL, AND MENTAL SANKHARA

      ” Ananda, when there is the body , bodily intention ( kaya-sancetana) is the condition for pleasure and pain to arise internally. When there is the speech , verbal intention ( vaci-sancetana ) is the condition for pleasure and pain to arise internally. When there is the intellect , intellectual intention ( mano-sancetana) is the condition for pleasure and pain to arise internally- with delusion ( avijja) as a cause ( paccaya: cause, votive, requisite, means, support).

      “ Ananda, from ignorance as a requisite condition, either on one’s own initiative one generates BODILLY VOLITIONAL FORMATION ( kaya-sankhara) that is the condition for pleasure and pain to arise internally; or prompted by others one generates bodily volitional formation ( kayasankhara) that is the condition for pleasure and pain to arise internally.

      “Either deliberately ( sampajana: attentive, full attention, aware) , Ananda, one generates bodily volitional formation ( kayasankhara) that is the condition for pleasure and pain to arise internally ; or undeliberately ( unconsciously ? , asampajana) one generates bodily volitional formation ( kayasankhara) that is the condition for pleasure and pain to arise internally. ”

      THE SAME IS BEING REPEATED FOR Verbal Sankhara (Verbal Volitional Formation )AND Mental Sankhara (Mental Volitional Formation ,mano-sankhara)

      “ Ananda, from ignorance as a requisite condition, either on one’s own initiative one generates verbal volitional formation ( vacisankhara) …..”

      “ Ananda, from ignorance as a requisite condition, either on one’s own initiative one generates intellectual volitional formation ( manosankhara) …”

      “ Ignorance ( avijja , delusion ) has a say in these things. When ignorance completely fades and ceases without remainder, that body ( kaya) on account of which pleasure & pain arise internally , does not exist ; that speech ( vaca) on account of which pleasure & pain arise internally , does not exist ; that intellect ( mano) on account of which pleasure & pain arise internally , does not exist .

      That field does not exist, that ground does not exist, that region does not exist, the issue does not exist , on account of which that pleasure & pain arise internally.
      Note: According to AN I 223-24, “ Kamma is the field, consciousness the seed, and craving the moisture, for consciousness..to become established” in a low , middling, superior realm. Thus there is production of future renewed existence.
      Sankhara is associated with kamma formation. “- Bhumija Sutta

      ——————————————————————-
      THESE PHYSICAL, MENTAL, VERBAL SANKHARA CAN EITHER BE WHOLESOME, UNWHOLESOME, OR IN BETWEEN:

      “ Bhikkhus, if a person immersed in ignorance generates a meritorious volitional formation , consciousness fares on to the meritorious ( punnupagam hoti vinnanam) ; if he generates a demeritorious volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the demeritorious (apunnupagam hoti vinnanam) ; if he generates an imperturbable ( or something in between) volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the imperturbable ( anenjupagam hoti vinnanam, maybe something in between) . ………..”

      “ What do you think, bhikkhus, can a bhikkhu whose mind is free from mental obsessions ( khinasava) generate a meritorious volitional formation, or a demeritorious volitional formation, or an imperturbable volitional formation ( or something in between) ? ‘

      “ No venerable sir. “

      “ When there are utterly no volitional formations, with the cessation of volitional formations, would consciousness be discerned ( vinnanam pannayetha , Pannayati: appears)?”

      “ No, venerable sir.”

      “ When there are utterly no consciousness ( vinnana), with the cessation of consciousness ( vinnana) , would name-and- matter ( nama-rupa) be discerned ?”

      “ No, venerable sir.” – Parivamansana sutta- Thorough Examination (12. 6. 1)

      ———————————–
      FOR EXAMPLE :

      “Bhikkhus, I shall teach you reappearance in accordance with sankhara. “Then Bhikkhus, listen and attend closely I will speak.” -“Yes, venerable sir!” the bhikkhus replied. And the Blessed One said thus:

      “Here, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the well-to-do nobles!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.

      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the well-to-do priests!…in the company of well-to-do householders!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.

      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He hears that the gods of the heaven of the Four Great Kings have long life, beauty, and enjoy much happiness ( sukhabahula: abundant happiness, comfort) . He thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the gods of the heaven of the Four Great Kings!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.

      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He hears that the gods of the heaven of the Thirty-three…the Yāma gods…the gods of the Tusita heaven…the gods who delight in creating…the gods who wield power over others’ creations have long life, beauty, and enjoy much happiness ( sukhabahula: abundant happiness, comfort) . He thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the gods who wield power over others’ creations!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.
      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He hears that the Brahmā of a Thousand (Sahasa Brahma )…….. The bhikkhu thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the Brahmā of a Thousand!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.

      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He hears that the Brahmā of Two Thousand ( Dvi Sahasa Brahma) …the Brahmā of Three Thousand ( Ti Sahasa Brahma)…the Brahmā of Four Thousand ( Catu Sahasa Brahma) …the Brahmā of Five Thousand ( Panca Sahasa Brahma) , Ten Thousand ( Dasa Sahasa Brahma), Hundred Thousand ( Sata Sahasa Brahma)….. The bhikkhu thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the Brahmā of a Hundred Thousand!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.

      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He hears that the gods of Radiance…the gods of Limited Radiance…the gods of Immeasurable Radiance…the gods of Streaming Radiance…the gods of Glory…the gods of Limited Glory…the gods of Immeasurable Glory…the gods of Refulgent Glory…the gods of Great Fruit…the Aviha gods…the Atappa gods…the Sudassa gods…the Sudassi gods…the Akaniṭṭha gods have long life, beauty, and enjoy much happiness . He thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the Akaniṭṭha gods!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.

      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. He hears that the gods of the base of infinite space…the gods of the base of infinite consciousness…the gods of the base of nothingness…the gods of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception have long life , beauty, and enjoy much happiness ( sukhabahula: abundant happiness, comfort) . He thinks: ‘Oh, at the dissolution of the body, after death, I should reappear among the gods of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception!’ He bears that in mind ( cittam dahati), resolves upon it ( cittam adhitthati ), cultivates that in mind ( cittam bhaveti) . These sankhara and this abiding ( vihara: mode of life, passing the time) of his, thus developed and frequently cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path, the line of conduct that leads to reappearance there.

      “Again, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, endowed with moral practice , endowed with learning, endowed with generosity, and endowed with wisdom. ‘Oh, by realizing for myself with direct knowledge ( abhinna) , I might here and now enter and abide in the liberation of mind (cetovimutti) , liberation of wisdom (pannavimutti) that are taintless with the destruction of the taints!’ And by realizing for himself with direct knowledge ( abhinna) , he here and now enters and abides in the liberation of mind (cetovimutti) , liberation of wisdom (pannavimutti) that are taintless with the destruction of the taints. Bhikkhus, this bhikkhu is not born any where for any reason. “ – MN 120: Sankharupapatti Sutta

      ———————–
      Without sankhara , consciousness doesn’t become establish. It is not an entity but simply part of a cause and effect mechanism:

      “ When there are utterly no volitional formations, with the cessation of volitional formations, would consciousness be discerned ( vinnanam pannayetha , Pannayati: appears)?”
      “ No, venerable sir.”
      “ When there are utterly no consciousness ( vinnana), with the cessation of consciousness ( vinnana) , would name-and- matter ( nama-rupa) be discerned ?”
      “ No, venerable sir.” – Parivamansana sutta- Thorough Examination (12. 6. 1)

      With metta,

    • Hi Terry

      You can try contacting M/s A.A.K. Perera at 78 Ananda Balika Mawatha, Sri Jayawardenepura, Kotte 10100, Sri Lanka for the Encyclopaedia of Buddhism. I think their phone number is 2822707 or 2813446.

      Try emailing them at chanudi@sltnet.lk, but no guarantee that that is still a usable email address.

  42. Dear Cat, Jessie and Flower,

    I believe that many people on this blog feel great compassion for you all. I do.

    I totally agree that it’s devastating to think that our revered spiritual teacher is not a good person as we have believed.

    I would like to repeat what I said in my post a few weeks back that should any of you think that Ajahn Brahm is a bad being, please stop listening to his talks, stop going to Dhammaloka Center and, most important of all, for your own sake, stop thinking about Ajahn Brahm.

    If you really think that he has been trying to establish a personal connection with you to abuse you, you have the power to sever that connection and prevent further abuse.

    I hope that you will then be more at peace with your life.

    And also for your sake, please refrain from saying negative things about other beings if you are a real Buddhist and are practicing the eightfold path, one of which is Right Speech.

    I would beg that you would consider a possibility that the abuses that you all think have happened might be a result of something else entirely, and thus, slandering a good monk is not skillful or wholesome.

    Please always bear in mind that we are the owner of our kamma and the heir to our kamma.

    Sow good kamma so that you would reap good kamma — peace and happiness.

    May you find the Eightfold Path.

    Much metta,

    Dheerayupa

  43. On the Bikkhuni ordination fallout fiasco.
    All you “white” people need to get off your self righteous high horse. And be a bit more circumspect in relation to the western baggage you bring to Buddhism. Concepts like democracy and equal privileges (not equal rights) that you take as in accordance with the Buddha dhamma can be easily proven as not in accordance. An anecdote from Lumpho Cha.- While walking around the Bot in WPN there was a slim, tall tree, with the leaves sprouted but at the top, and he commented “This tree is like the westerners, tall, slender, and everything on top (high up in the head, and not much in the heart). And so it’s natural that your own prejudices will seep into Buddhism, in what I call “western ideals fundamentalism”. Due to the nature of the western character it’s natural that you would engage in a ” Vinaya war” “Vinaya is ultimate, so if it’s on my side I win”. That is why respected teachers have taught about vinaya-dhamma. The vinaya was setup by the Buddha as an outline, he could not have setup a rule for each and every situation that may arise in a monk’s community (and so the proclamation of the four great standards), as in the present situation of the Bhikkuni order dying out, and how to go about reestablishing it, not that the present situation has anything to do with vinaya, so if you are going to “cleverly” make the argument along those lines, then yes you win, I have your prize right here for you. If I were to run a monastery, I would be able to run a fascist organization while keeping in line with vinaya. And vinaya-dhamma in no way contradicts vinaya, it compliments vinaya by making up for the infinite possibilities that may arise. Ajahn Bhram has stated that he ordained in the Buddha sangha and not the Thai sangha, so he should go his own way, if Thai monks object to his representing Buddhism in an international forum and the organizers take into account the objections due to his obvious divisive nature, then no one should get wrapped up in his underwear. Ajahn Bhram has no need for the Thai sangha, or the Thai sangha for him. It takes two to tango, and in this unseemingly dance some posters on this blog have recognized fault on both sides, without stepping on toes, but it is to note that Lum Pho Liam who heads WPP has seen this as a sterile quarrel, as it has led to nothing worthwhile, on the contrary. Lumpho Pannya (English, deceased former vice Abbot of Wat Pah Baan Taad) also stated as Lum Pho Cha did, that generally “Whites are heavy on the head and light on the heart, and so have the propensity to flip over, while others may be not as clever, but being heavier at the heart (base) than in the head are more stable”. And so the western sangha seems to be on its head right now.

    • Hi Diogenes,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Let me add from the start that I find the tone of your message to be racist: you start out by criticizing “All you “white” people”. This is not an appropriate argument or tone for this blog, and I will not allow any further posts with this kind of language.

      As I have stated many times, this issue is not about ‘western’ vs. ‘asian’ values. In fact, the bhikkhuni order was started by the Buddha (an Asian!) and maintained down to the present day by Asians, and today there are thousands of Asian bhikkhunis. The opposition to bhikkhuni ordination in Wat Pa Pong has come from a small circle of Ajahns, some of whom are Asian and some of whom are Western. Ajahn Brahm has not been cut off or criticized in any way by ‘the Thai Sangha’, he has been expelled by one group of Thai/Western monks and still holds position as Chao Kuhn and upajjhaya as appointed by the Mahatherasamakhom. There are many Thai bhikkhunis living and practicing happily in Thailand.

      The Vinaya is a detailed legal code that is the basis for practice of monastics. Your argument that engaging in a Vinaya war is a “western” problem is wrong: read your Buddhist history. From the canonical dispute at Kosambi over water in a dipper, to the massive split last century in Burma over whether the robe should be worn over one or two shoulders in the village, Asian monks have repeatedly shown that they are quite capable of arguing over trivial points of Vinaya.

      This dispute, on the other hand, is not about anything trivial: it is about the right of half of humanity for equality in how they practice their religion, and the right of all humanity to practice their religion in accordance with their conscience. And before you say these are ‘western’ values, these are both guaranteed in the Thai constitution, which is why the Thai Senate committee decided the 1928 edict against bhikkhuni ordination was unconstitutional.

      You are also wrong to say that you can run a ‘fascist’ organization in accord with Vinaya. Vinaya is established on a purely democratic and equal basis. All bhikkhus or bhikkhunis have the same rights before Vinaya, there is no power of command, all decisions are made in consensus, accused parties must be present at any litigation, there is an absolute presumption of innocence, any act is only valid if it is in accord with Vinaya, and so on. It is, in fact, the very opposite of fascist.

      Ajahn Brahm is quite happy to continue outside of Wat Pa Pong, despite the regrettable way he was expelled. What is at issue here is the ongoing but publicly unacknowledged policy of opposition that is still being maintained by some within Wat Pa Pong. Hopefully this will change in the near future, as there is no doubt that many within WPP will share the view you attributed to Luang Po Liem, that this quarrel has been fruitless.

    • Hi Diogenes
      I don’t think that we really need to frame the fallout from the Perth Bhikkhuni ordination in terms of race although I think we do have to acknowledge that there is a lot of imperialism of thought coming out of some quarters.

      A generalization that the fallout splits along lines of race is also inaccurate, as I understand it the monasteries of Ajahn Brahm/Sujato have support from a diverse range of ethnic groups + The majority of “western” branch monasteries run by “white” abbots remain in concord with WPP

      Racism like sexism has been a bane on society since the dawn of time, so it seems. I feel uncomfortable when people use these issues to move forward their own agendas.

      The theravada Bhikkhuni sangha seems to growing at a very healthy rate at the moment. Let’s hope that they can continue to grow and that the level of acceptance can continue to grow and at the same time they can avoid being pulled into disputes between male monastic fraternities (it’s not fair!).

    • Namasakhan Ajahn Sujato.

      Beforehand I want to apologize but I in no way intended to be racist (albeit forceful), and that is why I put “whites” in quotation marks, although from your response I gather you understood it in the sense meant, as western. I was referring to character faults common in westerners (not that they are not found in Asians, and vice versa ). Westerners (not all) take their values as inherently right, therefore superior and hence the “enlightened west syndrome” baggage is carried unto Buddhism, thinking it as congruent with the Buddha Dhamma. Democracy being one of them, men and women being equal in all aspects another, yes, they “should” have equal rights, but what about everything else that isn’t “rights”, like privileges? Vinaya affords equal rights to Bhikkus and Bhikkunis, but does it afford equal privileges? You may agree that the vinaya doesn’t afford for every circumstance, and so then what? through these loopholes is where a fascist organization may be run and still keep to vinaya (I will not mention two such organizations in Thailand that exemplify this) and so like I mentioned, respected teachers have taught vinaya-dhamma, so who is to say what is vinaya-dhamma and what isn’t? Yes vinaya has “some” democratic aspects, but a healthy Bhikku community is anything but a democracy, any attempt at making a Bhikku sangha and integrated lay sangha fully democratic only spells for the decline of Buddhism. I’m in no way opposed to the ordination of Bhikkunis, or of Ajahn Brahm’s participation in Bhikkuni ordinations, or his being expelled from WPP, what I have an issue with is people making an issue out of it, citing vinaya as being on their side. This issue has nothing to do with vinaya, if I have lost trust in you, and I desire not to associate with you, where does vinaya govern in this matter? Bhikkus and Bhikkunis are not only subjected to vinaya law, they are subjected to many other laws. As we know Bhikkuni ordinations have been going on long before, so the issue comes to Bhikkuni ordination in Thailand, and that would best be left to the Thais, for foreigners to forcefully (subtlety is another matter) try to impose this citing a higher moral ground, well it can only backfire and be detrimental to the cause they espouse. Ajahn Brahm is happy without WPP and WPP without him, but Ajahn Brahm’s disciples don’t seem happy with this. WPP has asked Ajahn Brahm to apologize for what they feel was a betrayal of trust, Ajahn Brahm feels there is nothing he should apologize for. Where is all this headed? There seems to be two sides to this argument and neither has truth on their side. Neither is capable of seeing the other sides point, but there are those who can see and understand both sides. This article was a sad attempt at reconciliation, yet there are those who do understand, Lum Pho Liem being one of them, and it should be taken into consideration that he is the head of WPP, some WPP Bhikkus expressed to Ajahn Brahm “meuan deum”, so I see this as a western Buddhist problem, for your own benefit and that of the Budha Sasana please resolve the matter expeditiously, believe it or not it’s in your own hands.

    • Hi Peter

      I want to congratulate you, as you seem to be one of the few who can see both sides of this argument’s point. And hence be a bridge to conciliation. Like I mentioned in my response to Ajahn Sujato, I never implied any racism (my mother, sister and brother are white, I took more of a brownish color from my dad) I was referring to that oft found quality in Westerners (not that its not present in other races or that all whites are like this), who like to look outside and not inside, and that supremacist attitude, of the western enlightenment, and Asian backwardness and hence the self appointed right to correct others even by force. I disagree with this issue being about womens ordination or vinaya. It’s petty and its bringing much ill repute on the western sangha, and in such you can find a “western” element to it (not that its particular to Westerners), I only hope that your efforts and that of others like you will bring this shameful episode to something worth its while.

    • Hi Diogenes,

      Diogenes wrote: “for your own benefit and that of the Budha Sasana please resolve the matter expeditiously, believe it or not it’s in your own hands.”

      I agree that it is about time we wrap up the discussion and we shift our attention to creating practicing space for women who enter the holy life. At the moment it appears that many people in BSWA are focusing on supporting bhikkhunis by finishing with the construction of the vihara. Also , looks like women are able to embark on the holy life in Thailand as well.

      There is no reason for the lay community from both locations to continue the dispute. This Vesak Celebration, let us end the discussion on this issue and focus on furthering our practice and work together on wholesome service activities as a sangha of four directions.

      With metta,

    • Hi Diogenes,

      Diogenes, firstly, I can only speak for myself but thanks for your view on this issue it is very interesting to see things from your point of view.

      “but it is to note that Lum Pho Liam who heads WPP has seen this as a sterile quarrel, as it has led to nothing worthwhile, on the contrary”

      ….. is he saying that Bhikkuni ordination is not a worthwhile?

      Apparently the issue between Ajahn Brahm and WPP is not really about Bhikkuni ordination, but if it is as this sentence would suggest, then why don’t they come out and say it to the women – because honestly Diogenes it seems from my point of view very cowardly and weak to attack Ajahn Brahm and his disciplies over this issue.

      Why not tell ordinary women like myself, women academics, Bhikkunis, and nuns from other faiths why we have no right to be ordained; personally I would love to hear it – especially as apparently the Buddha never had a problem with it.

      Why attack the messenger?

      If someone hands a person a qualification from a University do you attack the person handing over the qualification and blame them, victimise them? No that would be cowardly and stupid. If you were a decent person and not a coward but thought this person was not eligible for this qualification and you thought you had good reason to go against this wouldn’t you discuss this issue and the logical reason for this with the person/s involved ….not try to humilate the messenger in a public ceremony.

      “An anecdote from Lumpho Cha.- While walking around the Bot in WPN there was a slim, tall tree, with the leaves sprouted but at the top, and he commented “This tree is like the westerners, tall, slender, and everything on top (high up in the head, and not much in the heart). And so it’s natural that your own prejudices will seep into Buddhism, in what I call “western ideals fundamentalis”

      With respect, and I have to say in some ways I agree, I think Mr Lumpho Cha may be a bit out of touch with what is going on in the West. Maybe Mr Lumpho Cha needs to have a look at Western Universities – they are not full of westerners they are full of people from the East. Maybe he could try telling this antidote to his own country men and women. Also Diogenes while it may be true in some regards or may have been true many years ago, these days it would seem that alot more Westerners will need to follow their heads abit more and from a Western point of view Ajahn Brahm and his disciplies resonate with westerners because they give a logic, sensible but compassionate view of the Dharma.

      In saying this I also agree and do personally find any kind of academia/science to be sterile and I am not an academic, but I also see it as necessary to create a foundation so as to base your beliefs on and to keept things somewhat sane.

      For example, in the west there are lots of spiritual groups claiming this or that with no logical or evidence based reasons as to whether they are good or not. Where I work for example out of about 10-15 people there are 8 different religions/spiritualities being followed. I am not saying this is a bad thing but doubt any of them could come up with any logic or evidence to support why they follow this certain belief or religion apart from it suits their agendas. I use to know a person who was so involved with so many spiritual groups all based on following a certain leader or doing weird things I think that person ended up in a mental hospital and if they didn’t they should have.

      So while I understand and appreciate you views as a person living in the West I can’t really see that they are true or relate to what is going on in 2011 and I can’t really agree with them.

      Also I would just like to say publicly that I find this attitude and these attacks on Ajahn Brahm cowardly, he is just doing what he is suppose to, if you and your WPP monks have a problem or good reason with women not being ordained then why don’t you enlighten us as to exactly what that is and stop trying to make him the the scapegoat for the fact that women are or want to be ordained.

    • Hi Daisy
      I am in no way opposed to Bhikkhuni ordination (or Ajahn Brahm taking part in them), although we do know the Buddha had his own qualms about the issue (but that is another issue), because it’s not as black and white as may appear. Having spent a considerable time with Western and Asian Bhikkus I’ve realized the tendency of many Westerners to be self righteous (up in the head) while Asians tend to be more non confrontational (down in the heart), you can find virtue and fault in both aspects, it depends on other factors. Women have had the opportunity to ordain as Bhikkunis long before this fiasco, the issue then comes to Bhikkuni ordination in Thailand generally and in the WPP tradition particularly. For foreigners to forcefully try and impose this on Thailand, smacks of the west trying to forcefully impose democracy on non democratic states, even if the intention and presumption are correct, as they say the road to hell is paved by good intentions. If you boil the current problem down, as you yourself have stated, it seems a personal problem of Ajahn Brahm and a few Bhikkus, nothing much to do with vinaya or lay people, and yet lay people seem to be the driving force behind the problem, and others resorting to the “vinaya is on my side” argument. I only wish for this matter to be resolved promptly. And the only way is to bridge both sides, and not to dig your heels in. That is if you understand both sides. From your comments you seem to understand one side, and are incapable of understanding the other, but believe me they have a point, beyond the right of women to ordain. I can only hope you can at least try, as I fear I have not the skill to convey it.

    • Diogenes,

      “Brahm and a few Bhikkus, nothing much to do with vinaya or lay people, and yet lay people seem to be the driving force behind the problem, and others resorting to the “vinaya is on my side” argument. I only wish for this matter to be resolved promptly. And the only way is to bridge both sides, and not to dig your heels in. That is if you understand both sides. From your comments you seem to understand one side, and are incapable of understanding the other”

      Firstly mate, the title of this thread is Healing the Bhikkuni Fallout, you act like you are the one trying to do this but umm.. yeah i will say that again “the title of this thread is healing the bhikkuni fallout”.

      Secondly, if you put concisely what the problem is from the other side, your side apparently although you are the hero apparently here to save the day, I will be able to understand it – at present from this side all I can understand is that people have some issue with AB and are vitimising him. I have ask for you to give me the facts from your side about Bhikkini ordination you have not, and now say it is not about that – well what is your side?

      Thirdly mate, no one on this thread had discussed this matter for ages, YOU are the one that brought it up again and reignited it not me, no one else but you.

      Fourthly, your references to a Vinaya war – how do you possibly interpret people trying to understand the Vinaya as a war. Wanting a correct interpretation and translation of the Vinaya is not a war.

      imeditation and Diogenes,

      Lay people have just as much right to know and understand the issues as anyone else, and to know what the Vinaya is about, especially if it is sexist and I do not think it is your place or anyone elses to dictate to lay people. what they should or should not do.

      Regards

      Daisy

    • Hi Daisy,

      Daisy wrote:

      “imeditation and Diogenes,

      Lay people have just as much right to know and understand the issues as anyone else, and to know what the Vinaya is about, especially if it is sexist and I do not think it is
      your place or anyone elses to dictate to lay people. what they should or should not do
      .”

      I am a lay person. Which part of the Vinaya are lay people still interested in knowing and which part are lay people not allowed to know? And where did I dictate what ? Which aspect of the Vinaya haven’t been addressed ? Everything is still on the site, so it is a waste of time to keep on repeating the whole thing that we have been discussing in the past years. The above is a suggestion considering we have been discussing every aspects of the issues, the choice to move on or not is up to each person to choose. No one says that people have to move on if they want to continue on with this same topic.

      On this Vesak, I think that it is a great time for both sides to reconcile as a way to celebrate this special occasion. It is time to give this disagreement a happy ending. It is time that both party make up and celebrate. I am not sure who is in , but I know I am.

      Happy Vesak Everybody !!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :) :)

    • Diogenes,

      Also I just thought what you said about the monk saying Eastern people are ‘heavy in the heart’ while ‘people in the West are heavy in the head’ is right in that westerners are or can be heavy in the head (although also other parts of the body in some areas of the West to ha ha might be more acurate) but Eastern people being ‘heavy in the heart’ is not something that alot of westerns might describe Easterners.

      While I think they might respect your cultural values and traditions
      I think they might see Easterns are ‘heavy in their culture’ ie willing to live and die for their cultural values and traditions’ but apart from having strong family ties personally I have never thought of Easterns as ‘heavy in the heart’, actually quite the opposite – possibly less ego bound than westerners but also very cold and unemotional people. I find that you see yourselves like that quite surprising, I am not saying it is not true as I haven’t been to Thailand or seen much of the East, just that although I always saw Easterners as having alot of good qualities and many more so than alot of Westerners being ‘heavy in the heart’ would not have been something I would have associated with Eastern people, so it is interesting to know that you see yourselves like that.

      Especially in Australia when we hear about things like ‘Schapelle Corby” and the way she has been treated – for smuggling, if she did, a bit of marijuna?? OK she or who ever did it should not have done it, but it seems so incredibly cruel and incredibly heartless – if she has gone mad I can understand this. Seriously how can anyone put a young girl in a prison like that for 20 years for doing that … and because she spoke up about the conditions of the jails and her unfair treatment they keep punishing her for it?

    • Hi imediation,

      Anyway happy Vesak :) :)

      Most lay people could not care less about the Vinaya or would not even no what it is although generally I think people probably view Buddhism as a fairly OK religion.

      Although just yesterday when I said to a work colleague an off-hand remark about a very dubious spirtual path someone is involved in they said to me ‘well you can’t talk aren’t you interested in Buddhism’?. Also many years ago I had the very unpleasant experience of having to work along side ex-Theravarden Monks, who tried to make it clear that in the job the women had to do the mundance jobs and the only women of value were the ones that ‘looked like models’ So I do thing correct interpretations of Buddhism/Vinya are important for lay as well as monastic people.

      Regards

      Daisy

    • Happy Vesak! :)

      May all sentient beings be happy and well and more content to live in peace. :)

      The story of Bhikkhuni ordination in Thailand is far from over, but no one knows how things will evolve. Perhaps pretty soon a great number of Thai monastic elders will declare that in case of doubt, be kind to all beings rather than play safe for fear of a tiny possibility of violating the rules.

      Perhaps Thai women will resign to getting ordained somewhere else and come to practice in Thailand. After all, the Thai constitution provides freedom of religion. :)

      As for me, when I decide to renounce, I still perfer to have Ajahn Brahm as my spiritual teacher since my personal experience has shown me that what he teaches is a path to peace and happiness and spiritual development.

      For the time being, as a lay Buddhist, I reckon that we should try our best to practice what the Buddha taught and never forget to be kind to all beings, while supporting good Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis who are truly our worthy ‘field of merits’.

      Much metta,

      dheerayupa

    • Dear Daisy,

      Daisy wrote: “I do thing correct interpretations of Buddhism/Vinya are important for lay as well as monastic people. ”

      Definitely !

      Happy Vesak ! :)

    • In honor of Vesak Celebration, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for anything I may have said that annoy the other party and seek their forgiveness. May we put our differences behind us from this day and cooperate to engage and discuss about dharma practice and service projects / activities in celebration of the Buddha’s birth and enlightenment. It is a sangha of the four quarters after all. I wish everyone in the East, West, North, and South a joyful and tranquil Vesak . :) :) :) :)

    • To Daisy
      Yes the title of this article is “healing the fallout…” yet its anything but healing, by the fifth paragraph it states the problem as some Bhikkus being envious of Ajahn Brahm and having carried that envy unto their disciples, and the other’s point of view? Its not balanced at all, he is saying its your fault but out of our magnanimity we extend an olive branch, a typical condescending attitude. Like you said this issue has been discussed at length so I’m sure many have understood both sides of this argument and have genuinely (contrary to this article) called for reconciliation, so in no way can I suddenly try to erect myself as a hero, I’m a bit more forceful from what you can see on my first post above (and so unsuited). You seem to over simplify and ignore some of my comments to construe a faulty one. I don’t think western, eastern, black or latino (I’m latino by the way) are better or worse, yet some character traits are more prevalent in others, due to culture and the like. One same character can be a fault or a virtue, like I mentioned it depends on other factors. For example Westerners tend to have a big ego (like you mentioned yourself) but this can be a good thing, making them more assertive, active, responsible and such. Other non westerners tend to be more laid back, but it can lead to being lazy, irresponsible and indulgent. In this particular issue I get a sense of bigotry, for foreigners to try and forcefully impose their values (however right they may be) on another country, like I mentioned its counterproductive. I never said not to study vinaya. My point is that this current issue has nothing to do with vinaya. Its a “personal” problem between Bhikkus. I dont know how Ajahn Brahm has been victimized, WPP are in their right to expel him if he is not adhering to their traditions. Ajahn Brahm is in his right to do what he thinks is right. They’ve gone their own ways and it might be the best. Contrary to what you believe, I’m not on any side of this issue, for me its a non issue, Bhikkus will always have personal problems amongst them, but when the lay people get dragged in it spell for disaster as we have seen now. All the racket from the lay people regarding this issue is the one I’m addressing, since that to me is the real problem here, its a sad spectacle (so much for western level headedness). It seems to be dying out, not much else can be said or done, or so it seems, I can see their still a lot of frustation simmering under the surface on both sides, and it doesnt bode well.

    • Diogenes,

      I don’t think anyone is trying to impose anything on the Thai’s, they are the ones saying what can or can’t be done in this country and should not be trying to make Australians’ follow their cultural tradition – and people seem to me to be accepting that if the Thai’s do not want to follow this that is their business, and not forcing or trying to get them to do anything at all except to ask for them accept what is being done with regards to Bhikkini ordination and to stay on friendly terms.

      Also whether you like it or not this is a democratic country and if people want to discuss this issue that is also their business – if WPP expell AB from the Thai whatever it is, then there are going to be questions and discussion about it, that cannot be avoided if they do things like that, because so many people here have such gratitude and respect for AB that such an action is going to raise questions and demand answers and it is better to do it openly and honestly rather than in secret which is just apparently what WPP first accused AB of doing anyway and what lead to this issue – so don’t turn around and now say that this issue should not be discussed openly because that just does not make sense.

      Anyway best wishes
      and :) happy Vesak

    • To Daisy
      No one is trying to prevent Bhikkuni ordination in Australia. Ajahn Brahm was part of the WPP community and as such was expected to adhere to their traditions, just like WPP is expected to adhere to the traditions of the Thai Sangha they belong to ( please take note of WPP’s position). Hence the only thing to do was to expel him, now Ajahn Brahm is free to participate in as many Bhikkuni ordinations as he wishes, and WPP is relieved of any responsibility to the Thai sangha they belong. In the Thai sangha they differ as to the interpretation of vinaya regarding the reestablishment of the Bhikkuni order (I must add that I’m not in the view of the conservative stance but the progressive one) not that this is necessarily the view of WPP, but again the view of the Thai sangha WPP belongs to. Who knows and it may all be for the better (the advancement of Bhikkuni ordination in Thailand). Yet you must respect the decision and right of WPP to expel Ajahn Brahm, regardless of your affinity with him. Your comment about “Australia is a democracy, like it or not” smacks of that western superiority complex I’ve attributed as being part of the problem, as if democracy in itself or Australian democracy for that matter were the epitome of a civilized society (It didn’t prevent Australia from engaging in an illegal war). I admit that some Bhikkus and laypeople might have a personal issue with Ajahn Brahm (specially after the fallout) but they are in their right (and as much as it may bother you, you must respect their right) to give him the cold shoulder and not associate with him, any other actions are governed by vinaya and civil law. I in no way wish to add fuel to the fire. I’ve been following Ajahn Sujato’s blog since the fallout and always refrained from commenting, but the condescending cordiality in this article at this stage prompted me to comment. Sincere wishes to everyone over the Vesak holiday, that they may have found a respite of peace in this oft restless world.

    • Dear Diogenes,
      I think I might have something to offer that would put your heart to rest
      Some excellent practicing nuns requested full ordination
      It was granted them
      Rejoice and drop the rest
      All of it.
      It is all – all the rest of it – a big narrative.
      That is what will end the conflict if not in “them” then at least in “you.”
      Drop the rest of the narrative.
      If others don’t want to drop it – let them go on and on
      You, and I, can see it for what it is
      A handful of women went forth and were ordained
      Because that is what happened
      That is how it happened
      That is all that happened
      Period
      Rejoice
      or simply enjoy the rest of your life
      and practice well
      _/\_

    • Hi Lisa
      The Buddha taught to praise that which is praiseworthy, and I praise the Bhikkunis who went forth. The Buddha also taught to blame that which is blameworthy. If I’m wrong in anything I have posted as finding fault with, then good arguments can be made on why my perception might be wrong (specially in a forum that is populated by reasonable Buddhist). I’m sorry if you find my post relating to this subject as futile, and I thank you for your good wishes and also wish you success in your practice.

    • Hi Diogenes,
      Not futile.
      And we seem to agree.
      That there are disagreements.
      Nothing harmful was done.
      There was an act of kusala kamma.
      And there was reaction to it.
      I rest in the joy of the kusala kamma.
      And we all can.
      I feel that is the only truth that we can be sure of and as you say,
      the rest is this interpretation, that interpretation.
      It’s kind of like that koan where one monk breaks the silence
      and the other one says “why did you break the silence?”
      It just may not have an end.
      Rather than drive ourselves mad, we can all choose to simply rest in the truth of the kusala kamma.
      And rejoice.
      (Not that we should always stay silent.
      But I think each of us has said what needed to be said
      We can raise awareness and act in other ways that support this kusala kamma)
      (Of course I realize this in itself is a view or opinion!
      And offer it with the knowledge of its fallibity)
      _/\_

  44. Dheerayupa / May 20 2011 12:39 pm

    More than well said!
    Here you positively shine forth with the beauty of Buddhism.

    • Dear Daisy and Terry,

      Thank you so much for your very, very kind words.

      If what I have said and done is considered skillful, all thanks are to Ajahn Brahm. If I have failed to be skillful, please forgive me and I truly gladly accept any criticism as I’m still working on my defilements. :)

      Much metta,

      dheerayupa

  45. Has anyone ever seen a soccer player read a manual on how to kick a ball? What do they do? They jump onto a field and start kicking and praticing(doint it-not reading it or describing(talk about) it. And in reality it is proven that the ones who do(not reading)will have no doubts in their findings if their opionion is true or flase, where as for the ones who read (not doing) only will never know(forever).

    forgive my english for it is not my first.

  46. continue… using intellect to solve a practical problem in life(in my opinion) is suicide. There will always be conflict amongst human race if we don’t listen with out hearts. Hence the phrase”If the heart is not there, brain does not matter”. So, you guys can read and quote all you like it won’t matter. A handful of PHDs and Masters degree grad. could not prevented World War.

  47. I would great to have both sides at a dialogue ( like the ones they have at UNSC), eventhough I have no faith and hope in it, but we have to give it a shot. Diplomatic negotiations do not always turn out positive. “There are no certainty, only opportunity” What have we got to loose.
    I suggest a dialoque because so far both sides have failed to meet and talk about this issue, and I mean TALK.
    Ofcourse dialoque should be on a neutral ground and soon. If someone say that it is a waste of time and this issue is not a big problem then why the heated opinions? If it is on your mind, it is on your mind (it is important).

  48. How did this issue start? Who Started it and Why? And After it has started, what are side effects? What are the outcome?(Negative or Positive)

    No matter what intentions were intended, if the result yeilded a bitter fruit then the actions have to be reconsidered. But of course no course of actions(even valid ones) will always result in positive manner.

    The move for ressurrecting Bhikkhuni ordination in certain Theravada division is a positive action. But to go about doing it ones have to consider the consequenses of the actions for all(Austratlia & Thailand) that would be affected by it.
    Ajahn Chah is the father of his Western diciple branch. He was kind and very metta to have started a Western Bhuddhist training ground for Westerners and other non-Thai. We owe a lot to him for having great trust. Of This we owe our gratitude to him.
    What ever we do,as his disciple, will affect his name and his founding monastery, Wat Nong Pah Pong. So, in my opinion, action has to be thoroughly consider before putting it to action and not in a hastily manner. It is even unwise to act on anything while fuel by emotions.
    As most of us who meditates must know from experience that it takes a while for any fruit from the sitting to surface or even that. So I think we should follow that path in going about putting forth any action.

    But since the bomb has already exploded, there is not point trying to diffuse it but to put out the fire. This is not an Earth Quake scale, not yet anyway.
    Houses can still be rebuilt. By way of Dhamma, this is possible.

  49. Is Cultural and religious standards transferrable?
    Should some Buddhist Monastic Codes be altered (Bend) to suit certain group or Law of certain countries? Yes, but with limitations. Other wise what is the point of upholding and conservating its more than 2500 years of ancient tradition anyway if it is going to be changed/alter through time by people of other cultures who think that it should be this or that way then we might as well rewrite the whole Tipitaka. Where then is the originality of it? Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims Christians all these ways are preserving their own values and they are doing it very well by not giving in to other imposing ideas of how certain things should be.
    Deforestation is one of the world’s primary problem at present(we all have a fair share in it). People who pro business and market progress would seem valid for them to cut down trees for production in order to forward their business without any consideration. But is it right as a whole? Something in this world has to be in preservation.

  50. Then again, (something just came to me) Buddhism is for everyone. No one owns it or have the right to claim that it is theirs because Buddhist teaching is all about not claiming or owning things in the first place. It is a public right for anyone to use it to enhance their life style and to live better in harmony with nature. Buddha got enlightened through observing the natural entities around him and expecially within himself. It is a natural study of the nature. So, maybe we should behave or act in a natural manner as much as possible.
    I think the problem we are facing here is that certain group try to claim Buddhism to be theirs.
    On a different note…. I think that it is safe to say that should Bhkkhuni and Bhikkhuni division be resurrected in Thailand OR in Ajahn Chah’s division, it would be very ok to welcome them. Because with or without Bhikkhunis, this factor would have nothing to do with whether a person will get enlightened or not, or to better oneself in accordance with the dhamma and better yet, the decline of Buddhism itself. This issue is outside the boundary of the Eight Fold Path. But we can certainly use the Four Noble Truth to solve it.

    take it easy…Easycompany

  51. Daisy, well, what is the appropriate distance between a monk and a woman? Beside, there is a rule that if a monk would have to be in a room with a woman, it is prefered to have a third person(male) to be in accompany as well and to be able to understand the conversation. I know, being a male, this rule may sound a bit man-ish and biased to women but they are there for safety reasons and do not intended to offend the opposite sex in anyway. And believe me I still having trouble comprehending the reasons behind the BMC.
    They are there to protect monks from falling into intentional and unintentional offenses which could lead to greater ones.

  52. I think to Better understanding for the Non-Thai population abroad, they should make an effort to come to live in Thailand and experience the culture and especially the Buddhist traditions in Thailand. I think it would make a better argument once experienced.

    It would be unwise for me to criticized, say Chinese, if I have never live in visit China or experience their culture and way of life, because what do they and how they behave have a lot to do with the environment they live in. Hence, I would criticized them while I am blind and crippled.

  53. It would be funny if I could validly criticized any culture from visiting a library or from reading an Encyclopedia :)

  54. I think that this issue is not a worry issue. When I come to think about it, community in Perth are not trying to established Bhukkhuni order in Thailand at all. It is what they want to do in Australia. Am I right? But if they are trying to make it formally accepted then it might take a while ( more than 50 years at minimum). I don’t understand why it is such a concern in Thailand because the ministry of Religion or the Buddhist governing body in Thailand are not feelinf the heat at all. So, it is not at the door step yet. Besides, it is not just the governing bodies that they have to get pass, but the rest of the Thai population. I am sure 90 percent or more will not concern themselves with this trivial subject but a handful of common Thais and Buddhist scholars might. And some also know that it is not possible to reestablished a Bhikkhuni order in Thailand due to Buddhist historical account between the Thai and the Sri Lankan monastics. If this is not accurate then correct me.
    So, it is not about not wanting to offer equal rights or status to women, but it is about Thai Monastics having to abide by the Buddhist Code that governs them. Somewhere along the history there was a disconnection between Thai and Sri Lankan monastic order when The Sri Lankan monastics came to Thailand to help improve the Thai Buddhist moastic system.
    I think ones should try to research some background accounts and try to understand the local before acting on anything. I think if you are talking about equal rights then The Buddhist Monks in Thailand also deserve to have that rights to preserve their religious value and practice as well. Equal rights and equal repect.
    On a different note…I don’t think that local law in a country can intervene a religious practice of other religion. But if they can, how far can they go until conflicts start?

    • Hi Diogenes and Easycompany

      Firstly, I would like to acknowledge and show respect to the Aboriginal People, the indigeous people of Australia as the cultural and traditional keepers of this land, and state on a cultural and traditional level it is their traditions and culture that I follow and respect, not that of Thailand or any other country; although myself having coming from a family who have lived in Australian for many generations only consider myself a mere blow-in and others of 1-2 generations as tourists (except for AB :))

      Easycompany said:

      “I think that this issue is not a worry issue. When I come to think about it, community in Perth are not trying to established Bhukkhuni order in Thailand at all. It is what they want to do in Australia. Am I right”

      I think so easycompany and I live in Australia and am simply in support of a Bhikkini order in Australia and am not dictating or suggesting what should go on in Thailand – I personally am not saying anything about Thailand or what they should do over there.

      I will though also state for the record and this is just my personal opinion I do not believe the actions of `expelling’ AB to be in the spirit of Dharma or Buddhism, and see this as harsh and unnecessary; surely they could have just dicussed the issue and come to a mutual agreement.

      Personally I have interest in studying the Dharma but apart from that and a general acceptance of many of other peoples culture and rites absolutley no interest in going to Thailand.

      As a person interested in Dharma it is great to see the Dharma becoming more popular and to have access to correct interpretations of Early Buddhism freely available to everyone.

      Diogenes

      What i meant by Democratic was just that this is what we have here NOT that it is right or wrong. So for example if I went to China it would not be right or even safe for me to ignore the fact that they are ruled by the Government and people have no say at all – we have to live in the present and respect the conventional situations that the Dharma is trying to grow in.

      ie I and most other Australian try to tolerate others peoples traditions and culture (how many countries have mulitculturalism as a policy) and ways of life and Australians expect the same.

      …having said that who is to say that in a past life I wasn’t a Thai or a Latino and you an Aussie, in the end it doesn’t matter but on a conventional level it does some what.

      So just to reiterate Diogenes the statement regarding Democracy was just to state because it is what is happening now it is not good to just ignore that anymore than it would be for me to go to China and ignore their communist policies. I was not in any way meaning to suggest it is superior, personally having Dharma as a governing policy would indeed be superior I am sure you would agree!

  55. IMEDITATION – Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Name. Thanks another one on the list!

    SYLVESTER / May 19 2011 3:46 pm
    I dropped a line to the email you gave. It has’nt come back as undeliverable so I keep my fingers x’d! If not I’ll try the phone numbers. Very helpful, thxs.

    SUJATO / May 19 2011 4:03 pm
    Thanks bhante they are showing that they sell it but looks like only Vol 1-7. There appears to be 8 though –
    Dania / May 11 2011 6:38 pm –

    http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/pdf/analayo/Sukha.pdf

    IMEDITATION – consciousness was not what I was referring to but thanks for that. I found that helpful. What I was referring to was –

    “Terry wrote: “Therefore I would like to request that someone in authority in the Australian monastery would talk to their supporters and attempt to cut off this WPP and bhikkhu bashing adhamma behavior.”
    This is also what I have in mind. People from the other party should speak to whichever person that is inflicting the higher penalty on Ajahn Brahm, which requires other Theravedan bhikkhus including his disciple to not associate with him”.

    Although I am not part of the other party (apart from old friendships and some new) I have spoken to a few people who are in the know (not no!), and although it may seem perhaps like things are in a fixed position and nothing is happening – it is. Think that’s all can be said at the moment.

    DIOGENES / May 21 2011 5:20 am
    I must say I thought your comment was very good here – well most of it! Quite factual and down to earth.

    LISA KARUNA – nice to see you back from your retreat. You still have a sweet tongue I see! Tehe (just a bit of rib pulling). Hope your retreat was good.

    Warm regards
    Terry

    • Dear Terry,

      Terry wrote: “IMEDITATION – Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Name. Thanks another one on the list!”

      Thanks for bringing the ” Encyclopedia of Buddhism” to my attention. I am waiting for the amazon kindle format. I think it is much more portable.

      Terry wrote: “although it may seem perhaps like things are in a fixed position and nothing is happening – it is”

      I really appreciate you taking the time to mend the situation. I am also optimistic. After all feelings are transient and impermanent . Let’s give it some time to change.

      With Metta,

  56. All in all, personally, I would love to see the progress of Bhikkhuni ordinations in other countries. I would like to see the outcome of it. I would like to see the reorganization of the Bhikkhuni Order. I am even intrigue about Bhikkhuni living side by side(not literally) with Bhikkhus and the reactions towards the combination of the two.
    I can not see anything wrong with it because laywomen and laymen attends the Buddhist ceremonies and activities most of the time together, and along side each other, and without conflicts. So, it is ok, I think. Solutions have always been under our noses.
    Instead of having debates, we should just as well reestablished Bhikkhuni order anywhere, everywhere and see how we will do from now into the future. I think that the truth can only surface when we put it into practice, regardless whether it will yeild positive or negative results.
    I think that this should be fun and very challenging for all of us. The new frontier, new territory.
    “Space…….this is the voyage of…”
    “…Fear is the path to the dark side…”
    “…Fear leads to anger..anger leads to hate.. and hate, … is suffering”
    As a male, I think Bhikkhuni should not be feared. Because if we do, that would say it all about who we really are.

    ..Yeah, that was my interconnected and disconnected thoughts..

  57. Hi Daisy,

    There is nothing in the sutta that support the practice of tantra. It originated from an external source rather than something in the Buddha’s teaching. Tantra is not part of Theraveda tradition nor can it be found in the Pali Canon. In fact , there are strict rules against any of this. A monk can’t even sit in a library with a woman when there is no third person or another person around. Drinking alcohol violates one of the basic five precepts in Theraveda. Meditation that uses sensual object as a point of focus is not endorsed by the Buddha. So sex and wine are forbidden . When it comes to Theraveda , tantra is not part of the practice whatsoever. Whoever practice it in Theraveda can be expelled if they practice it. It is very strict regarding any kind of sensuality.

  58. By the way, what is a Tulku. This is a very foreign term I haven’t come across in the Pali Canon . Another thing is, in Theraveda the aim is to become enlightened in this very life instead of becoming reborn again and again as so and so. There are four stages of enlightenment, Stream-Enterer, Once- Returner, Non-returner, and Arahant:

    1. Entry level enlightenment ( Stream-enterer) only have to return 7 lifetime at most.

    2. Once-Returner only have to reborn one time .

    3. Non-returners get reborn in the Pure Abode and remain there until they are fully enlightened. Pure Abodes are the only planes where a person doesn’t have to return to lower realms such as human plane, and others.

    4. Fully enlightened Arahant are liberated from any kind of rebirth in the 31 planes of samsara.

    With metta,

  59. Hi iMeditation,

    Just to clarify here, ‘tantra’ is a term used very generally and in a fairly ill-defined sense as a set of practices that emphasize the use of rituals to enable the practitioner to (literally) embody higher truths. There are many varieties of tantra in the different Indic religions. In India tantra is never synonymous with ‘sacred sex’. There is, however, a branch of tantra called ‘left-handed’ that does include ritualized sex as part of a set of practices that are supposed to lead to enlightenment. These practices are found in both Buddhist (Vajrayana) and Hindu tantra. There is a scholarly debate as to what extent the ‘left-handed’ practices were intended, or have historically been, practiced literally or purely symbolically. Such practices are, to my knowledge, never found in Theravada. In the west this more narrow, sensationalized use of ‘tantra’ to mean specifically ‘ritual sex’ has come to predominate.

    In the more general sense of tantra as ‘ritual esoteric practices leading to enlightenment’, it is debatable whether ‘tantra’ can be considered part of ‘Theravada’ or not. This is, in the end, just another semantic problem. Of course there is nothing tantric in the early texts, or even the Theravadin commentaries. Nevertheless, in traditional Theravadin countries there are various rituals and practices that are similar to what elsewhere is called ‘tantra’. I am thinking of the huge popularity of tattoos, amulets, protective diagrams (‘yantras’), and mantras found all through Thailand and (in different local forms) other Theravadin countries. In many cases these are not really connected with ‘Buddhism’ as such; they operate on the fringe, and while their exponents believe they are effective, they typically aim at more worldly goods like security, wealth, etc., rather than for liberation as in Vajrayana tantra. As such they are more similar to ordinary magic.

    Nevertheless, this distinction is not upheld absolutely, and there are cases of ‘tantra-ish’ ideas in what was clearly more ‘mainstream’ Buddhism. Many of these tendencies, however, were expunged in the modernist reforms started by Mongkut, so you are unlikely to encounter them in mainstream ‘official’ Thai Buddhism today. One quasi-tantric text that has enjoyed a revival is the Jinabunchorn, which you can read in translation here, and see a video of here.

    Another example is the bizarre ‘meditation’ work in Pali/Sinhala, translated as the ‘Manual of a Mystic’. I notice with interest that this work is cited erroneously as a ‘sub-commentary’ in the Wikipedia article on Dhammakaya meditation. (I have corrected this and a couple of other points, but this page is seriously bad, being full of Dhammakaya’s usual self-promotion and disregard for facts. Perhaps if some of you have some time you could do something about this page… Also, I cannot check whether the MoaM actually says what the Dhammakaya page says it does, as i don’t have a copy – perhaps Ven Brahmali you could check this up, as there is a copy at Bodhinyana?)

    In any case, the claimed connection between the Manual of a Mystic and the Dhammakaya meditation shows that there is at least a theoretical connection between modern Thai meditation and medieval esoteric or ‘tantric’ practices. In fact, much of Dhammakaya, as well as many of the special beliefs of certain forest tradition teachers, for example the infamous ‘Original Mind’, can probably be better traced to the complex, little explored realm of South-east Asian esoteric teachings than to anything in the Pali tradition as such.

    In summary, then, it is quite true to say that there is no tantra in the Pali texts and commentaries, but there is a rich strain of ideas and practice that are similar to tantra within Theravadin countries, although the term itself is not, to my knowledge, used. These are often kept separate from Buddhism as such, but this distinction is never absolute.

  60. Dear Bhante Sujato,

    I am aware that in many places people translated the term tantra to mean technique in general. Some of their techniques includes sensual techniques. As far as the Pali canon is concerned , I have not encountered any sutta where the Buddha condone these practices as a way to enlightenment. No doubt , I have heard of some who practice sensual techniques. They are a result of assimilating and adapting practices from external sources instead of abiding by the formula of the Buddha. Because there are people who adapt these, does not mean that it was taught by the Buddha. I believe Daisy wanted to know if these are actually the teachings of the Buddha or not when she asked if they are in the suttas. I feel that your answer creates more confusion when you don’t clearly say that they are not found in the suttas of the Buddha in the Pali Canon.

    There are strict rules against practices involving sex as a way to enlightenment. It is considered a major offense that would result in expulsion.

    Rule #1. Should any bhikkhu — participating in the training and livelihood of the bhikkhus, without having renounced the training, without having declared his weakness — engage in the sexual act, even with a female animal, he is defeated and no longer in communion.”

    According to The Simile of the Snake sutta:

    “At that time a pernicious view had arisen in a bhikkhu named Arittha, a former vulture killer: ‘As I understand the Teaching of the Blessed One, those things declared as obstructions by the Blessed One are not able to obstruct one who engages in them.’

    “….Then those bhikkhus thinking to dissuade the bhikkhu Arittha from that pernicious view, cross examined him, asked for reasons and discussed with him: “Friend, Arittha do not say that, do not misrepresent the Blessed One. The Blessed One did not say that. The Blessed One has shown in various ways how these obstructions do indeed obstruct one who pursues them…..”

    When the bhikkhus could not dissuade the bhikkhu Arittha from that pernicious view, they approached the Blessed One and told him about it :

    “Then the Blessed One addressed a certain bhikkhu and said, “Come bhikkhu, in my name, call the bhikkhu Arittha, tell him the Teacher wants him.” That bhikkhu consented and approached the bhikkhu Arittha and told him, “Friend, the Teacher wants you.” The bhikkhu Arittha said “Yes, friend” and approached the Blessed One, paid homage and sat to one side. Then the Blessed One said, “Arittha, is it true, that such a view has arisen in you: ‘As I understand the Teaching of the Blessed One, those things declared as obstructions by the Blessed One are not able to obstruct one who engages in them’?” Then he said, “Yes, venerable sir, as I understand the Teaching of the Blessed One, those things declared as obstructions by the Blessed One are not able to obstruct one who engages in them.”
    “Foolish man, to whom do you know I have taught this? Haven’t I in many ways taught that obstructive things are obstructions; indeed to one who pursues them they are obstructions. I have taught that sensuality brings little satisfaction, much suffering and trouble; the dangers here are many. I have taught that sensuality is comparable to a skeleton, a tendon of flesh, a burning grass torch, a pit of burning charcoal, a dream, something borrowed, a tree full of fruits, the blade of a weapon, the head of a snake, I have told it has much suffering, much trouble and the dangers there are many. Yet you foolish man, on account of your wrong view, you misrepresent me as well as destroy yourself and accumulate much demerit, for which you suffering for a long time.”

    “Bhikkhus, that someone could indulge in sensuality, without sensual perceptions, without sensual thoughts is not possible.”

  61. Hi imeditation,

    Thanks for that, Yes I did want to know whether this was in the Suttas anywhere and you have stated it is not, thank you for that.

    Ajahn Sujato

    Even if though it is not in the original teachings do you agree or believe
    there no other ways to enlightenment at least in this lifetime than the Buddhist path and those of the original teachings.

    as Dania states:
    The only path to awakening is the Eightfold Path “This is the only path (the Eightfold Path); there is none other for the purification of insight.”

    Why do some traditions say that through tantric practises you can become enlightened, do you believe this?

    Regards

    Daisy

  62. Hi Daisy,

    Personally I believe that these practices do not lead to enlightenment. Moreover, I think that the sexual forms of tantra are dangerously open to exploitation of women, especially in traditional Buddhist cultures.

    As to why different traditions believe such things are possible, this is from a combination of archaic authority – tantric texts were composed from around 500CE to 1100CE, but are usually attributed to the Buddha – and personal testimony. You are welcome to believe the testimony if you like, but it is worth pondering that the Dalai Lama, while acknowledging that sexual tantra was possible, said that he did not know anyone who was advanced enough to do it. His standard? If someone is ready to do sex tantra, they should be able to have sex, and then fly into the air on a pillar of flame!

  63. Hi Ajahn Sujato,

    umm…fly into the air on a pillar of flame….

    Fair enough but are you saying then that it is only the original teachings of the Buddha that lead to enlightenment? I mean not everyone is a Cambridge graduate academically minded type person like Ajahn Brahm, and his disciples it seems.

    So how are those that aren’t really academically minded, scientists, researchers etc suppose to get enlightened without without getting involved in the linage and family hierachy of gurus.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Kind Regards

    Daisy

  64. Hi Daisy, it reminds me of a sutta where someone asked the Buddha if other religions (or something like that) can get enlightened. And the Buddha said In any doctrine or discipline where the Noble 8fold Path is found, then the world will not be devoid of arahants. Ajahn Sujato can correct me if I’m wrong. It’s Buddha’s words to Subhadda.
    So yeah, basically one needs the Buddha’s teachings & practicing the 8fold path to awaken :) Anything other than that will not lead to awakening.
    It’s quite a relief huh?
    You don’t have to search anywhere else or rely on any gurus, lineage or funny rituals. Just practice the 8fold path and you’re outta samsara;)

    here’s a copy/paste:
    and the Blessed One said, “In any doctrine & discipline where the noble eightfold path is not found, no contemplative of the first … second … third … fourth order [stream-winner, once-returner, non-returner, or Arahant] is found. But in any doctrine & discipline where the noble eightfold path is found, contemplatives of the first … second … third … fourth order are found. The noble eightfold path is found in this doctrine & discipline, and right here there are contemplatives of the first … second … third … fourth order. Other teachings are empty of knowledgeable contemplatives. And if the monks dwell rightly, this world will not be empty of Arahants.

  65. Hi Daisy,

    First up, the Buddhist tradition says, quite reasonably it seems to me, that one should not judge about spiritual attainments that one has not yet realized. So as a heartily unenlightened person I wouldn’t make any claims about what can and can’t lead to enlightenment, except as far as my own faith, reasoning, and experience lead me. I’m pretty sure that some kinds of things don’t lead to enlightenment. I am also pretty sure that the eightfold path is leading me to a better place. Whether other paths might lead others to some kind of worthy spiritual goal is something I have little experience of.

    As Dania and others have pointed out, the early Suttas do claim that the eightfold path is the only way to awakening. To me this makes sense: if you look at the eightfold path and ask, ‘which one of these factors could we leave out?’, then i think it all seems pretty essential.

    The suttas also say, or seem to say, that the eightfold path is only found in the Buddha’s teaching (gotamasasanamhi). This, it seems to me, is a less absolute kind of statement. After all, the tradition happily acknowledges the existence of paccekabuddhas, who become fully awakened all on their own. The tradition says that such awakenings are not possible while the Buddhist religion is in existence (presumably because kammic affinity would lead one to Buddhism, and/or one would recognize the teachings as the true ones); but this claim seems a little thin (what about someone who simply never heard of Buddhism?) Also, it could be argued that it applied in the time of the Buddha, but since then Buddhist ideas have permeated human culture so widely that it may no longer apply.

    I would have to say, though, that I have looked in other religions and spiritual paths, and have never found anything that really includes everything that the Buddha regarded as essential (especially right view), and just as importantly, that omitted everything that the Buddha said should be left out (belief in God, etc.).

    The commonly asserted view that ‘all religions are the same in the end’ is trivially wrong. All religions have things in common, but it is obvious to any fair-minded assessment that they have many fundamental differences. This differences include the final goal of religion. Nibbana is simply not what Christians, Muslims, or Jews are aiming for. It is arrogant of us to say that their religious practice leads to our religious goal.

    As far as Mahayana goes, like Theravada it preserves the original teachings in full, but also like Theravada it adds much that is inauthentic. Some of the later developments may be good, others not so. Can one become a genuine arahant while still believing in sex-tantra, salvation through omniscient Bodhisattvas, and the like? I have my doubts. Can one become a genuine arahant while still believing in one-life dependent origination, a jhanaless eightfold path, or an Original Mind? I also have my doubts.

    But it is not my place to declare these things possible or not: I simply try to figure out what the Buddha said and do that. Works for me.

  66. Dear Daisy,

    While we are waiting for Bhante Sujato’s response, I would like to share with you what I heard from Aj Brahm’s talks this morning. AB said that there was a boy who failed Grade 1 three times and the school gave up on him. so, his parents sent him to a village temple. Again, he was hopeless with chanting – couldn’t remember the wording well. He was finally sent to a forest monastery, where he was told to meditate by letting go. He then became enlightened.

    A beautiful story, isn’t it?

    With metta,

    dheerayupa

  67. Hi Dania,

    Thanks for that.

    Dania said..

    “So yeah, basically one needs the Buddha’s teachings & practicing the 8fold path to awaken Anything other than that will not lead to awakening.
    It’s quite a relief huh?
    You don’t have to search anywhere else or rely on any gurus, lineage or funny rituals. Just practice the 8fold path and you’re outta samsara;)”

    Yes it is in a way but these other linages do claim to follow the 8 fold path, the complete path of the Buddha but even if they do in many areas they don’t, whether this is out of necessity or not I don’t know but yeah what is the point if all it does is get confusing, it may also come down to individual karma. Who knows!

    Breath meditation can be hard I mean fine if you live in a monestry devoid of temptation and where there is a harmonious `vibe’ but how much of the population do, especially women.

    Anyway thank Dania I hope it really is that simple.

    Kind Regards

    Daisy

  68. Hi again Ajahn Sujato/Ajahn Brahmali

    Sorry to be really annoying but just one more thing.

    Bhikku Brahmali in one of his talks said the Bodhissatva Path was not part of the orginal teachings and you say it is not the way to enlightenment.

    It seems like a couse on compassion to me, (but maybe I am wrong) and compassion is part of the Buddha’s teachings. So are you/he saying it is wrong or just saying it is not part of the original teachings and not on its own the whole path and therefore the way to enlightenment or simply it is wrong?

    Kind Regards

    Daisy

  69. Hi Bhante Sujato
    So it is your opinion that the “eightfold path is the only way to awakening”? And that the eightfold path is not found in “other religions and spiritual paths”

    Also that both the Mahayana and Therevada have added “much that is inauthentic” and that there is an authentic Buddhist teaching that can be found through research?

    And that to become a “genuine” arahat one must believe in rebirth? And avoid teachings like original mind (Huang Po?)? The position that the forest tradition “original mind” teachings is “infamous” is something that in my opinion you have created as some kind of academic exercise.

    On a different subject it seemed odd to me that in my conversation with iMeditation, you were keen to question the importance of DNA but you didn’t have any comment on the general content of the thread or the logic used. Is that because the reincarnation belief is essential to a position you hold?

    I would also be grateful if you feel that “the evidence of the mutant cats” at 25.25 in the following talk corresponds with right view? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htQ12Z2MV0Q I wondered if Ajahn Brahm put this in to his talk as some kind of strange test for his disciples.

    Perhaps you could also clear up if you consider yourself to be a Theravadan monk See Dania post above)?

  70. Dear Peter,

    Hi Bhante Sujato
    So it is your opinion that the “eightfold path is the only way to awakening”?

    I believe that all the factors of the path are essential for awakening.

    And that the eightfold path is not found in “other religions and spiritual paths”

    I have looked but haven’t found it, which doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    Also that both the Mahayana and Therevada have added “much that is inauthentic”

    This is self-evident.

    and that there is an authentic Buddhist teaching that can be found through research?

    Reasoned inquiry is an essential part of any genuine spiritual quest. How could it be possible to find the Dhamma if one is not willing to question, to learn, to examine evidence, and to learn how to discern among the various narratives of what Buddhism ‘really’ is?

    And that to become a “genuine” arahat one must believe in rebirth?

    If by ‘genuine’ arahant we mean ‘an arahant as described in the early Suttas’, then again this is self-evident.

    And avoid teachings like original mind (Huang Po?)?

    The concept “Original Mind” is not part of the Buddha’s teachings. The idea of the original mind is interpreted in many different ways in the traditions, and so how this notion actually influenced spiritual progress would depend on the interpretation.

    The position that the forest tradition “original mind” teachings is “infamous” is something that in my opinion you have created as some kind of academic exercise.

    Not at all. It is a frequent and normal subject of controversy within the traditions. It is debated as a regular topic within the forest monasteries. Different forest teachers teach the same term in very different ways. I have heard Thai Ajahns use the word to mean samadhi (Ajahn Thate), cessation (Ajahn Chah), or Nibbana (Ajahn Maha Bua). It is one of the reasons for a reluctance to accept forest tradition teachings by the ‘mainstream’ monks in Thailand and other Theravadin countries. In a visit to Taiwan a couple of years ago, when i met a bhikkhuni teacher at the Buddhist Uni, she brought up the topic, which relates to the fundamental split in Mahayana between Madhyamaka and Yogacara. It has become a major topic in Chinese Buddhism again, as Master Yin Shun argued that the Yogacara ‘original mind’ idea was a provisional teaching brought in to make Buddhism acceptable to Hindus. Within Tibetan Buddhism it also comprises a major doctrinal issue, as i understand.

    On a different subject it seemed odd to me that in my conversation with iMeditation, you were keen to question the importance of DNA but you didn’t have any comment on the general content of the thread or the logic used. Is that because the reincarnation belief is essential to a position you hold?

    Well you guys seemed to be happily chatting away. I have been occupied by many other duties these past weeks, as you may have noticed by the paucity of new posts, and have not been following the comments very closely, just skimming. I noticed the thing about DNA and commented because it had been a topic of conversation in the monastery.

    I would also be grateful if you feel that “the evidence of the mutant cats” at 25.25 in the following talk corresponds with right view? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htQ12Z2MV0Q I wondered if Ajahn Brahm put this in to his talk as some kind of strange test for his disciples.

    If that’s true I fail!

    Perhaps you could also clear up if you consider yourself to be a Theravadan monk See Dania post above)?

    My ordination lineage and monastic training is Theravadin. My understanding of dhamma comes mainly from early Buddhism, and i do not accept many of the special doctrines of the Theravada. This is not unusual: many ‘Theravadin’ monks reject much of what is contained in the later doctrines.

    More important than any of that, really, is I find the notion of ‘Theravada’ to be pretty useless. It has nothing to do with Dhamma, and is a product of historical circumstances in S-E Asia, circumstances that don’t exist any more.

  71. Dear Daisy,

    There is no evidence in the four main Nikayas (“the suttas”) that the Buddha taught a bodhisattva path. There is an excellent study by Ven. Analayo Bhikkhu called “The Genesis of the Bodhisattva Ideal” where he traces the origin of this notion. He concludes, essentially, that the bodhisattva idea arose due to pressures to glorify the Buddha after he passed away.

    It is true, of course, that early Buddhism includes the idea that Buddhas arise in the world at irregular intervals. (In fact, it seems to me that this is an important part of early Buddhism.) But there does not seem to be any systematic path for attaininig Buddhahood. Rather, it seems that beings, occasionally, through their own wisdom, are able to find liberation from samsara. In other words, they develop in the right direction without practcing a systematic path. If you think about it, it is hard to see how one would practice a path across different lifetimes, since our memories normally do not allow us to access past lives.

    With metta.

  72. Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

    This is off-topic.

    Would you please kindly recommend good English versions of suttas for my sutta studies? So far, I’ve just downloaded what’s available on the Internet. However, I wish to have good books for further reviews and references in my personal library.

    With great respect,

    dheerayupa

  73. Hi Bhikku Brahmali,

    ” But there does not seem to be any systematic path for attaininig Buddhahood”.

    Right,sorry I wasn’t aware this concept was suppose to be a path to attaining Buddhahood, so I agree..can’t really see it catching on “How to be a Buddha” 101……. maybe.. ….but who would apply anyway… big responsibility.

    I can understand at a time when interest or understanding/respect in the Buddha may have been at an all time low wanting to glorify the Buddha though; anyway thanks very much for answering my question I really appreciate it and I will try to find time to read that article.

    Dania,

    I have been listening to AB talks for quite a while.. obviously doesn’t show, my fault not his :)

    I think the path is Dharma and the added extras often do contain the complete path in one way or another, but yes I agree sometimes things get confused and knowing about early Buddhism seems essential….. but also sometimes through confusion things become clearer than ever too.

    Thank you

    Kind Regards

    Daisy

  74. Hi Daisy, maybe too much information and different traditions is causing you confusion? That’s why perhaps placing your faith in essential Buddhist teachings would be the way to go? Who cares about all the extras if it doesn’t lead to nibbana :)
    I don’t know if you heard Ajahn Brahm’s teachings but I highly recommend him. Not only are his teachings so inspiring, lead to abandoning suffering and lead to freedom but are totally in line with Buddha’s teachings.
    You can find guidance from a recent retreat he taught in Serpentine: http://dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/itemlist/category/58-easter-2011-nine-day-retreat.html

    Also, Bhikkhu Analayo, a scholar monk who is doing comparative work to find what the Buddha actually taught, posted a nice encyclopedia article on happiness, showing that this path is quite happy, easy and light. So if you are having troubles and it’s not a happy one, perhaps this article might provide helpful guidance:

    http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/pdf/analayo/Sukha.pdf

  75. Hi Bhante Sujato
    Your directish answers to direct questions are much appreciated, thank you.
    I think it is worth considering that the eightfold path is still just a convention. The Buddha did also widen out and narrow down this convention at times and could no doubt broken the convention down in numerous other ways. I don’t see the Eightfold path as a Buddhist equivalent of the 10 Commandments, although of course it is fundamental. I think that when we hold on to conventions as being something more than just conventions we are moving in to dangerous waters. I think we have all witnessed debate on some aspects of the Buddha Sasana which in my opinion would be more suitable to a scene from The Life of Brian.
    In my opinion to take a position that our way is a superior path or practice, or is the genuine path, is unbecoming.
    I certainly agree that a reasoned inquiry is essential but feel we must realise the limitations of an over academic inquiry and keep our eyes on the prize. The idea of a true and authentic Buddhism, that can be found through academic study is, in my opinion, flawed. I think that if we are trying to re-create ourselves as an arahat as described in the suttas we are setting ourselves up for failure.

    With regard to the adding of the “inauthentic” I guess we would need to clarify what we mean by “inauthentic”. Do we mean that it is opposed to the path and realization. Possibly we could say that some things that have been added are authentic, if they lead to letting go and enlightenment. I would like to think of Buddhism as a living religion that moves through time rather than a static religion that is defined by scholars.

    I would see both Huang Po and Ajahn Maha Boowa etc. as great Buddhist teachers, although I may not feel an affinity with all their teachings. I would never go to the extreme of saying what they teach is not Buddhism even if some of their teachings do not correlate with the “early suttas”. I see their teachings as being true manifestations of the spiritual practice rather than having their roots in academia.

    I think “infamous” is not really the right word with respect to the teachings of “original mind”, “one who knows” etc. I’m not sure if it is in Thai or in the English translations where “original mind” takes on a very different meanings but that different teachers, especially in a tradition that is based on a direct realization, should use different terms in slightly different ways is not really that unusual. I don’t think the intention of these teachers was to crate doctrinal harmony. If the forest monks were not accepted by the mainstream (Is that the village temple monks?), I don’t think the grounds were purely due to doctrinal issues.

  76. Bhante Sujato,
    Are the monastics under your tutorage at Santi trained as Theravadin monastics. Would you see Santi as a continuation of the Theravadin lineage (with some of the more obvious cultural trimmings dropped).

    I guess all Buddhism, including “early Buddhism” would be a a product of historical circumstances to some extent.

  77. I was wondering if anyone know the site to watch the previous video recordings of Ven. Analayo’s Majjhima Nikaya Comparative studies .

    Metta,

  78. I’m not quite sure what you’re asking, I’ve answered these questions already. In terms of Vinaya and monastic lineage we stem from Theravada, in teachings we try to follow early Buddhism. My hope is that notions like Theravada become more and more irrelevant. It was irrelevant to the Buddha…

  79. Peter, “early Buddhism” just refers to the teachings of the Buddha and not some form of sect. You can call it just “teachings of the Buddha” if you like. The point is to get at what the Buddha taught and not get entangled in cultural baggage and rituals, information that was added on and just detracts from the practice to ending samsara. Early Buddhism is not just another tradition, it just refers to Buddha’s teachings. If anyone wants to correct my understanding please feel free.
    It refers to the teachings before different sects started and split the teachings. It refers to the teachings and monastic organization and structure, founded by Gautama Buddha. But if you don’t like the word ‘early Buddhism’ then you can just call it ‘teachings of the Buddha’.

  80. Hi Bhante Sujato,
    The questions in my post “May 12 2011 12:01 am” were new questions. They were an extension of my original question. I was interested to know whether Santi and yourself and the other monastic at santi were still part of the Therevadin tradition? I understand that you stem from that tradition but moving forward? For example there are and have been monastics who stemmed from the Theravadan tradition but broke that association.

    Again my post “May 11 2011 8:28 pm” was meant as an extension of our earlier dialogue. I was putting forward some ideas and commenting on some of your ideas with the hope that there would be further dialogue.

  81. Dania, As I understand it “early Buddhism” is a term that comes from academia and not from the contemplative tradition. As I see it, Buddhism is a living and vibrant religion that has traveled through time/space and that has adapted and transformed in a dynamic way but which has also managed to keep it’s essence available in a way that is accessible for those who wish to investigate.

    It seems that some would like to use the notion of “early Buddhism” to create a Buddhist fundamentalist type movement, which is narrow and which would like to dismiss a couple of thousand years of Buddhist experience (+ the mystic and religious experience of those outside of Buddhism). The notion that we can roll back history is, in my opinion, odd.

    Do you think there was no “cultural baggage” in ancient India? The idea that we can find and fix the “genuine” teaching of the Buddha Sasana through academic study is flawed and pointless. It is also losing sight of the goal.

  82. Hi Peter, I think that it’s more efficient to get out of samsara if one just sticks to the essential teachings of the Buddha that lead to liberation, and ignore how Buddhism changed. Comparative scholarly work which finds out what the Buddha actually taught is helpful to one’s practice in order to sift out the jewels of Dhamma teachings from additions that aren’t needed for the goal of liberation from rebirth.

  83. Hi Dania,

    The idea that there is a fixed teaching that is Buddhism and a fixed way to interpret that teaching, and that we are going to be able to find and nail down this precise doctrine through academic study is in my opinion flawed and leads to a place of intolerance.

    For the five ascetics the essential teachings were just one sutta (or maybe two).

  84. Hi Peter,

    Just reading your post I wasn’t actually sure what you were saying are you saying yes just follow the early teachings or no don’t, would you consider yourself better off with a Guru?

    There is intolerance there as well, I mean they would not for a minute tolerate your asking so many questions on this site and would have expelled you long ag0. You would not be allowed to ask questions of the Guru so if we put Ajahn Brahm, Brahmali, Sujato in the role of gurus then you would not be allowed to contradict any thing they say and only asking more than one or two questions a week of them would be considered ill mannered and that you were over stepping your place in the hierachy. As many of these Gurus are also women now there would be no tolerance or discussion as to whether ordaining women is correct or incorrect, it is correct end of story, end of discussion.

    There would be no dialogue allowed with the Guru, and to expect it would be met with very harsh regard from the Sangha, although they might let you serve him/her tea – but maybe not.

    Sure intolerance can happen, but if we are suppose to be following the Buddhas teachings then we need to know what they are, not to tolerate with blind faith things that are incorrect or harmful ….. that is not tolerance it is just stupidity.

  85. Cat, jessie, Flower

    Whoa, wouldn’t just happen to be that Cat, Jessie and Flower are the same person would it?

    Why do you put really nice posts on this site then suddenly turn in to AB haters like this just like Cat did? It is really psycho.

    I would suggest if Cat you have problems with rape fantasies then you may have either been raped when you were young or in a past life and doing spiritual practise is bring these experiences up. Meditation does this it brings up things buried in the subconscious.

    I do have compassion for you if you have had sexual abuse problems but to take it out on a celebate monk is really psycho, especially has you seem to have three personalities…ummm any more personalities hidding away.

    Or are you trying to discredit AB for some other reason? Maybe you propositioned him and he turned you down or ignored you or something, was that it?

    Accussing someone of psychic sex, it is totally ridiculous.

  86. Cat, jessie, Flower,

    Also if you are not just some disgruntled person trying to discredit AB for some reason and really are having these delusions then seriously young lady, you need to stop doing spiritual practise and going to Buddhist groups and seek some counselling – get help!

    i use to work with a women who would make accussations about men sexually abusing her, she believed she was very attractive and men thought she was really sexy etc when she was vile both physically and even worse in her personality and about 70 years old the men she accused were in thier 30 – 40’s… but then she was suffering from some sort of mental pyschoisis, still it really is a disgusting thing to do to any man and to women because then when women who really do get abused (not just in their fantasies but in real life) make these claims they are not believed or taken seriously…. so cut it out and/or get help because you actions are harmful more so to women than to anyone as well as being totally ridiculous.

  87. Dear Daisy, You know that these kind of false accusations also happened to the Buddha. Some people accused the Buddha of impregnating a woman, and a woman even pretended she was pregnant by putting a piece of wood in shape of a belly. My husband says that the story is to be found in the Vinaya. He also mentioned that people also accused monks at the time of the Buddha of killing a female wanderer. Even the Buddha’s cousin wanted to kill him and take over the Sangha because of his jealousy and ego. The Buddha said the false accuser goes to hell (it’s in the Ittivutaka). So in this world, it’s to be expected that people will be falsely accused. We just have compassion on those that are either maliciously trying to destroy the Dhamma, have mental problems, or both.

    Remember, samsara is inherently suffering and won’t provide satisfaction. There will always be people like that, and we’ll never be able to fix the world. Remember, the Buddha was tempted by Mara before his awakening, to be the wheel turning monarch and save the world, however the Buddha said ‘no, i see you mara’, the most compassionate thing for the world is to become awakened and become a Buddha. So we just continue our practice, knowing that these things will always occur and we can’t change the world. We can help guide it a little, but if we fail, then we don’t get upset. All the best in your practice towards Nibbana :)

  88. Hi Dania,

    Thank you very much for your post. I totally agree with you. Such accusations, both ancient and present, are just another reminder of the unsatisfactory nature of our human existence. As Ayya Khema often said, out of 32 realms of existence, we human are ranked number 5 from the bottom. So what do we expect?! So it is really not worth getting upset with the Cat/Jessie/Flower’s of this world (and I also forgive myself for the 10 minutes of ill will I had towards those posts of theirs).

    Jun

  89. Hi Jessie and Flower,

    I hesitated in writing this to you since I wasn’t sure if my words would have any effect on you. I told myself that I should not even bother. But then I convinced myself that I should take a stand on what is right and what is wrong.

    I don’t know you, but I know Ajahn Brahm. He is an inspiring and effective Dhamma teacher. I benefited so much from his recorded teachings on the Internet that I don’t know how to even begin to express my gratitude. His teachings are the best gift in my life. As I am writing this sentence right now, I feel a rush of gratitude and happiness. This is the effect of Ajhan Brahm on me.

    So it is deeply hurtful to read slandering remarks and accusations like yours. Not for a minute did I worry that your remarks might somehow taint Ajahn Brahm’s reputation. But your remarks are hurtful because you chose to exert your revenge on such a loving, soft, and compassionate teacher. He is out there in the open, and you are making such accusations in the dark. If there is even a kernel of truth in your story, please come out in the open, go to a local police station, identify yourself. Any more faceless accusations like yours reflect very poorly on you and the group you are trying to represent.

    Jun

  90. Hi Peter,

    I don’t know, but since there was a “Cat” before “Jessie,” a “Jessie” before “Flower,” I inferred that there might be a group of people out there making such accusations. But of course, it could be just one person. The faceless nature of this process is quite peculiar. Sometimes I wonder whether or not I should bother to respond to any of these anonymous posts.

    Jun

  91. Hi Sujato, Jun and peter

    Jun, personally I think your post is really nice and entirely appropriate.

    Peter

    You can’t seriously believe that Jesse, Cat and Flower are different people, I mean their modus operandi is exactly the same.

    Why aren’t you asking for these infammatory posts to be taken off as I think you did previously regarding remarks made about WPP rather than asking about them.

    I don’t think a faceless person pretending to be one person making demented accusations about AB should really be tolerated on a blog site. It cannot be true ie Nandiya in a previous post outlined how it would be impossible for someone of AB spiritual attainments to have the level of violence and desire to undertake such acts inperson let alone as a …ghost.

    I mean if he has left his body he has no body so how could he do anything physical to anyone? It is a ridiculous statement and accusation, it is also defammatory.

    I am hoping these posts have just slipped through because Ajahn Sugato is not monitoring the site at present and he will take them off when he returns, if there was any truth in any of this I am sure he would have given an explanation.

    Ajahn Sujato

    Have you ever heard anything about this and/or is it possible for someone of AB’s spritual attainments to do these acts mentally?

    Regards

    Daisy

  92. Hi Daisy
    I do not believe in astral travel and I am sure the moderator will act.

    With the previous comment re WPP, that was a minor issue and possibly I over reacted (still don’t think it was an appropriate analogy).

    May all beings be happy :)

  93. With respects to Bhante and moderator guidelines, perhaps this discussion should be discontinued until he is made aware and can take action to remove these defamatory posts.

  94. Ajahn Sujato,

    Please feel free or please take off my posts that relate to the astral travelling AB.

    Maybe this is karma for all the rules and regulations about monks having to be so pious around women `for the sake of their reputations’. I do find AB in his talks is very strict on not being too close to women etc as if that is more important than the well being of women, what is the point if all that happens is someone trys to discredit you anyway.

    Sometimes I think it is kinda insulting that AB can spend time in prisons with mass murderers rapists etc but can’t even sit alone in a library with a women or is so worried about being near a women when they haven’t even done anything wrong in the first place.

  95. Daisy, with all due respect, do you have any idea about sense contact? Or, do you know how men feels or react to sensual feelings?

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