330 thoughts on “Buddhist jokes?

  1. Dukkha, Anicca and Anatta walk into a bar. Dukkha says, “Life sucks!” Anicca says, “This will pass!” Anatta says, “You talkin’ to ME?!”

    • Why did the Buddhist coroner get the sack?
      Answer:: because he’d always record the cause of death as ‘birth’.


    • Peace of mind
      The day after completing a 9 day Vipassana retreat, Dave turns up for work at the Zoo. Seeing how chilled out Dave is, the head keeper puts him in charge of the tortoise enclosure. Dave slowly walks over to the cages. At lunch time, the head keeper checks on Dave only to see the cage door is wide open and all the tortoises gone! He runs up to Dave and asks, “What happened with the tortoises?”
      “Well”, said Dave very slowly, “I opened the tortoise cage door and it was, like, Whoosh!”
      Ajahn Brahm

    • The only problem is I used up all the jokes from the buddhist joke website so good to hear a new one …..maybe Ajahn Brahm will write some new ones..ha ha.

    • buddha said all was conditioned – anatta/anicca/dukkha – so there was No buddha-no dhamma –
      no sangha – no samsara – no nirvana – nothing – there is nothing…..

  2. There once was a man who said, “Though
    it seems that I know that I know,
    what I would like to see
    is the me that knows me
    when I know that I know that I know.”

  3. Exchange between the Zen master and his student:

    Student: What happens after death?
    Master: I don’t know.
    Student: How can you not know? You are a Zen master.
    Master: Yes, but I’m not a dead one.

    • That’s not a joke, I heard an actual Zen master say this in all honesty in response to that question, genuinely asked.

    • this is one of the 14 unanswerable questions of Buddha. this is not a joke. and it’s not from Zen Masters. It was asked of Buddha himself.

  4. I quite like this one:

    Four monks were meditating in a monastery. All of a sudden the prayer flag on the roof started flapping.
    The younger monk came out of his meditation and said: “Flag is flapping”
    A more experienced monk said: “Wind is flapping”
    A third monk who had been there for more than 20 years said: “Mind is flapping.”
    The fourth monk who was the eldest said: “Mouths are flapping!”

    Copied from: http://www.rudyh.org/buddhist_buddhism_jokes_fun__humor-quotes.htm

    • I first came across this as a straight Zen teaching story, many years ago when I was a somewhat over-intellectual teenager. That version had only three monks looking at a flag. The first says “the flag is moving”, the second says “no, the wind is moving” and the master comes along and says “no, the mind is moving”, leading to the profound insight that “all is Mind” and satori all round.

      It was only years later that I read the version with the fourth monk, “no, it’s just your mouths that are moving”. Seeing that fourth line would have saved me years of headaches from pseudo-profound thoughts!

      It does strike me that many of these jokes can also be teachings – Sujato’s, for example.

    • the adapted version is an Ajahn Brahm joke!!!! he’s the one who first said that they took the matter to a forth monk… 🙂

    • I believe this ‘fourth person’ version of the joke was invented by Ajahn Brahm… after long years of experience in monasteries!

    • The three-monk version is not a joke but an incident from the life of Hui Neng, 6th Patriarch of the Ch’an school.

  5. Q: What happens when a Buddhist becomes totally absorbed with the computer he is working with?

    A: He enters Nerdvana.

    Q: What does a Buddhist wish another on their birthday?

    A: May you have happy returns.

  6. Q: How many Tantric Buddhists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    A: Two…but they have to be very small!

    [Insert laugh track here.]

  7. Monk to another monk: I have been bitten by so many ticks in the forest. It’s awful.

    Reply: It’s full moon tonight and after chanting the patimokkha we shall send metta to the lunaticks.

  8. OK, so I nicked these from the Santipada website, but I particularly liked these three:


    How many monks does it take to change a light bulb?

    They can’t. There are no light bulbs in the Vinaya.


    How many vipassana meditators does it take to change a light bulb?

    No need. Just note: ‘darkness, darkness, darkness’.


    How many Buddhist scholars does it take to change a light bulb?

    An internationally respected committee of academics, after deliberating all night, conclusively failed to agree on the meaning of the word ‘light bulb’. Meanwhile, the sun came up.


    How many Abhidhamma scholars does it take to change a light bulb?

    There are 20W light bulbs, 40W light bulbs, 80W light bulbs, 100W… 200W…

    There are 6V light bulbs, 12V light bulbs, 120V light bulbs, 240V light bulbs…

    There are incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs…

    There are clear light bulbs, pearled light bulbs, colored light bulbs…

    There are screw-in light bulbs, bayonet light bulbs…

    There are 20W light bulbs that are 6V, there are 20W light bulbs that are 12V… 120V… 240V…

    There are 40W light bulbs that are 6V… 240V…

    80W… 100W… 200W…

    There are 20W light bulbs that are 6V incandescent…

    There are 200W light bulbs that are 240V, florescent, coloured, and bayonet …

    • The Buddhist hands the vendor a five. The vendor gives the Buddhist the hot dog. The Buddhist stands there waiting for change. The vendor shakes her head and says, “Change comes from within.”

    • A reporter tried this one on the Dalai Lama about a week ago (9 June 2011, I think).

      His Holiness the Dalai Lama didn’t get it.

    • That’s because he has right view and knows the difference between samadhi and Nibanna…. 🙂

  9. A detective had been sent to investigate a murder in Zen monastery. When he arrived the place was silent, still and appeared to be deserted. Having looked into room after room and seen nobody, on opening the door of a large hall he suddenly found himself facing what looked like hundreds of people sitting in meditation. Startled, he pulled out his gun and shouted “freeze!”.

  10. Three Buddhist monks decided to practise meditation together. They sat by the side of a lake and closed their eyes in concentration. Then suddenly, the first one stood up and said, “I forgot my mat.” He steeped miraculously onto the water in front of him and walked across the lake to their hut on the other side.

    When he returned, the second monk stood up and said, “I forgot to put my underwear out to dry.” He too walked calmly across the water and returned the same way.

    The third monk watched the first two carefully in what he decided must be the test of his own abilities. “Is your learning so superior to mine? I too can match any feat you two can perform,” he declared loudly and rushed to the water’s edge to walk across it. He promptly fell into the deep water.

    Undeterred, the monk climbed out of the water and tried again, only to sink into the water. Yet again he climbed out and yet again he tried, each time sinking into the water. This went on for some time as the other two monks watched.

    After a while, the second monk turned to the first and said, “Do you think we should tell him where the stones are?”

  11. What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with a Zen Buddhist?

    Someone who knocks on your door for no reason at all.

  12. This can be trotted out when one group of monks anathematizes another group of monks for being (horror of horrors!) Mahayanists:

    Greater Vehicle,
    Lesser Vehicle,
    No matter!
    In the end,
    All Vehicles
    Will be towed away
    At owner’s expense!

    • Of course, this would equally apply to monks (or anyone) who refers to others as (horror of horrors!) Hinayanists!

    • but hinayana doesnt mean theravada..

      its just a term used for realizing lack of self but not going so far as to look at the emptiness of phenomena. doesnt matter what tradition. It is the foundation

    • Heh, I’ve got a Ford Fiesta I call “Hinayana”, cos it’s the closest I can get in Pali to “small car”.

  13. In search of Arahants
    Once there was a couple of Brahmin who lived near Jetavanna monastery. As a custom in India at that time, they wanted to make merits by offering foods to monks or ascetics and the woman believed that the more elder the recipient is, the more merit she and her husband might get. One day, she waked up very early in the morning, prepared a lot of good food and sweets, then she asked her husbund to go to Jetavanna monastery to find some ‘elders’ and bring them home. After a while, the old man came back with four ‘elders’ (all eged between 7 to 10, but they were Arahants). At the sight of these ‘child-like monks’, the old woman got mad. She yelled at her husbund: “good-for-nothing-man, did i not tell you to fetch the ‘elder monks’ only!” Obeydiently to his hagging wife, the poor old man make another trip to the Jetavanna monastery, and this time, lackily, he got Ven. Moggalana, and respectfully asked the elder to follow him for an in-house-offering of foods. Ven. Moggalana went with the brahmin husban, but when he saw the four novices were sitting patiently at the veranda of the house, he declined the offering, saying that the prepared foods are meant for these ‘four elders’. Again, the woman got furious at her husbund, she bade him to go to Jetavanna again to find ‘at least an elder’, and again the man obeyed to his wife will. This time, he got Ven Sariputta. It was nearly noon by the time Ven Sariputta came to the house, but on seeing the four novices who were all his disciples, he also declined the offering, saying the same thing as Ven Moggalana did.
    Could not wait any more, in an agitated mood, the woman gave the prepared foods to the four young novices. They mindfully ate the offered foods. After the meal, they thanked the donor and all leaved the house by flying through the roof. It made four holes on the roofs of that house. Only to this point, the old woman realised that they were all real Arahants!
    The story in Sri Lanka …
    A man prefared a meal and some offerings for a monk who he expected to be a noble one. The man came to invite the monk to visit to his house. On the way back, he followed quite close with the monk. They passed by a drainage ditch, the monk jumped over it. The man thought to himself: ‘this fellow can’t be a noble one. How can an Arahant jump? I will offer only a meal to him, not the gift ”. went further more, they have to pass a small streched water, this time, the monk carefully circumfered it and they crossed. The man was suspected the change in the monk behaviour, so he asked: “venerable, the first time you jumped over the ditch, but this time you did not… what is the reason of it?” The monk said to him: “my dear donor, if this time I was to jump again you won’t give me even my meal.”

  14. I can’t remember when I first heard this, but I know that it was a very long time ago:

    What is mind? No matter.
    What is matter? Never mind.

    • another one on mind matter..
      Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
      ~ Mark Twain

      When my master and I were walking in the rain, he would say, “Do not walk so fast, the rain is everywhere.”
      ~ Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

      To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
      ~ Oscar Wilde

      If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito.
      ~ African Proverb

      erm.. not buddhist jokes anymore.. gone to Africa.

  15. Special Offer!

    ps. from Ven Dhammika’s blog:

  16. The day after completing a 9 day Vipassana retreat, Dave turns up for work at Taronga Zoo. Seeing how chilled out Dave is, the head keeper puts him in charge of the tortoise enclosure. Dave slow walks over to the cages. At lunch time, the head keeper checks on Dave only to see the cage door wide open and all the tortoises gone! “What happened?”
    “Well”, said Dave very slowly, “I opened the tortoise cage door and it was, like, Whoosh!”

  17. A Buddhist phones the monastery and asks the monk “Can you come to do a blessing for my new house?”
    The monk replys “Sorry, I’m busy.”
    “What are you doing? Can I help?”
    “I’m doing nothing”, replied the monk, “Doing nothing is monk’s core business and you can’t help me with that.”
    So the next day the Buddhist phones again, “Can you come to my house for a blessing?”
    “Sorry,” said the monk, “I’m busy.”
    “What are you doing?”
    “I’m doing nothing,” replied the monk.
    “But that was what you were doing yesterday!”, said the Buddhist”
    “Correct”, replied the monk, “I’m not finished yet”!

  18. The police had been trying and failing to catch the Zen Housebreaker for many years. He was the one who finally managed to commit the perfect crime. He would break into a house without causing any damage, remove the furniture, put it all back in EXACTLY the same place, and then leave the way he came.

    (Why do I have this association between Zen and crime? That’s interesting.)

    • Criminals and Zennists are very different, of course. One will perform all manner of behavior and deny that anyone did it. The other is a criminal.


    • Oh you two Davids… 🙂 I had another round of ridiculously loud laughter thanks to that exchange. Thanks v much. 🙂

    • How about “I sat on my Dogma and my Karma ran out.”

      (Does it work? I just made it up. ahaha!)

    • Hmmm maybe – “When I sat on my Dogma my Karma ran out!”

      (Sometimes these things take a few tries!)

  19. A zen priest with an interest in greek philosophy states,
    “I think, therefore I am not.”

    Did you hear about the monk who joined the fraternity?
    Apparently, he was the afterlife of the party!

    The next time someone asks how long have you been studying Buddhism. Simply state, “All my lives.”

  20. John Fuglesang says (on his Twitter feed): “I just hate it when Buddhists get all Emptier-Than-Thou.”

  21. This is an oldie i think…definitely a goodie…

    ‘A long time ago on a secluded island in the middle of a large and pristine lake, in an old hut in a clearing surrounded by beautiful trees, a young monk lived, meditating diligently.

    He had been on the island for a long time… having departed from his teacher’s monastary with the intention of not returning until he had made the big break through…Full Awakening…

    His days were spent in total solitude. He did not even see the man who rowed over on a weekly basis, bringing his supplies.

    One night, after a particularly blissful day, (and it was a full moon night too) he joined the ranks of the fully enlightened beings!!

    Out of deep compassion he decided to share his wisdom with others and naturally he was going to tell his teacher first. He thought happily of his teacher and how much he owed him.

    Carefully and very beautifully he penned these words on a thick piece of parchment: The monk, meditating diligently is no longer moved by the four worldly winds.

    The next time the small supply boatman rowed in, it was to see the young monk standing on the little jetty. As the boat approached, the monk looked up very slowly, his face glowing, a serious expression on his face. He handed the astonished boatmen a scroll case, saying only these words ‘take this back to my teacher’.

    The boatmen, after unloading his boat, did as he was asked.

    After a whole week had passed, the young monk went down to the jetty very early in the morning, eagerly scanning the horizon for perhaps the master himself in a grand boat followed by the entire monastic community… He would treat them all to his wisdom if that was so. It would not be right to hold back what he had gained.

    Finally, on the horizon, the monk saw the small boat. Perhaps it was just the teacher.

    As the boat drew closer he saw to his surprise that it was just the boatmen, who after unloading his supplies, handed him what looked very much like the same piece of parchment he had written and sent a week ago.

    He took it out of it’s case, unrolled it and saw his beautiful black caligraphy: The monk, meditating diligently is no longer moved by the four worldly winds. And across his beautiful black caligraphy (which had taken a long time to write) in red ball point pen (it wasn’t that long ago) were the four words, fart, fart, fart, fart.

    The glow faded from his face, fury replaced it and he stomped into the boat, demanding: ‘take me to the master!’

    And so the monk left his island and entered again the hallowed hall of the monastary where he had gone forth. He marched furiously to the master’s study, didn’t bother knocking, rushed to his desk, slammed down the parchment and scowled into the teacher’s face ‘What is the meaning of this? he spat.’

    The master looked at him and said ‘The monk, meditating diligently is no longer moved by the four worldly winds; yet four little farts have blown you all the way across the lake.”


    This, for me, is one of the funniest Buddhist jokes of all time. i think it’s the child in me that laughs at the word ‘fart’ if it’s said with the right emphasis. But it’s also a memory of hearing it from Ajahn Brahm while i was on retreat and it was one of those times when absolutely anything can elicit a laugh! 🙂

    • Just wanted to add…

      The best (imo) version of this tale is found in ‘Opening the Door of Your Heart: And other Buddhist tales of Happiness’ by Ajahn Brahm. Page 183 for those of you have a copy of the very first edition!

  22. 1) how many mahayana monks does it take to change a light buld?
    ans: 2. One to change the light bulb, and one to keep coming back to change all future light bulbs.

    2) why did the Buddhist coroner get the sack?
    ans: because he’d always record the cause of death as birth.

    • I’ve really enjoyed reading all the contributions to this thread. Thanks everyone.

      Richard, thanks especially for this great one:
      “why did the Buddhist coroner get the sack?
      ans: because he’d always record the cause of death as birth.”, which for some reason touches me the most–perhaps because it’s so poignant and true… and the truth can be hard to take, and can have some (seemingly) unfortunate consequences for the one speaking it!

  23. The honey bees’ hive kept getting raided by the local humans. The Queen bee finally came with the ingenious solution of using hypnosis through song to re-condition the thieving people.

    What did they sing?

    Let it bee. Let it bee. Let it bee. Let it bee. Hear these words of wisdom… Don’t take what’s not been giv-en, let it beeeee-eee-e…


    The elephant kept trying to stomp on the loud noisey bumble bee.

    What did the loud noisey bumble bee keep shrieking back at him?

    Let it bee! Let it bee! Let it bee!

  24. At the Buddhist Soccer World Cup, why did all the teams keep breaking the record for most goals scored in a match?

    It was because all the goalkeepers had been well trained in letting the ball be.

  25. At the Buddhist Circus….

    1. Why did the tight rope walker keep falling off her rope?

    She kept letting go.

    2. What did the lion say to the trainee lion keeper who kept making mistakes?

    Whatever you do, whoever you are, the door of my mouth will always be open to you.

  26. A Zen priest at the door of an arahant…

    Knock, knock.

    “Who’s not there?”

    To which the Zen priest replies,

    “I am sorry most venerable sir, there is no one here!”

    Knock, knock.

    “Who’s there?”


    “Anatta who?”

    “Anatta going to tell you!”

    Knock, knock.

    “Who’s there?”


    “Ommmmm who?”

    “Ommmmpen up the dooooor!”

    Knock, knock.

    “Who’s there?”


    “Sifu who?”

    “Sifu can open up the door!”

    Knock, Knock.

    “Who’s there?”


    “Anicca who?”

    “Anicca to open up the door!”

    • Dear Bhante Sujato,

      Thank you for providing this light hearted forum; a welcomed reprieve from how we, as Buddhists, are often perceived as all too serious. I believe that laughter is a benchmark for progress along the path.

      Have you considered compiling these wonderfully funny jokes into a book someday? How does the title, “Enlighten Up!” sound?

      Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu to you,
      A. Natta

  27. If Australian Buddhism is to prosper, it must bring together all the Buddhist traditions. What should it be called? Take the “H” from Hinayana, then the “AHA” from Mahayana, and finally the “YANA” from Vajrayana. Put them together and we have Aussie Buddhism, HAHAYANA. This thread can be the first Sutta of Hahayana Buddhism!

    • Dear Ajahn,

      Finally we managed to get you on this blog – after all that’s happened, it just had to be a post on jokes, didn’t it? Doing some ‘research’ for your Dhamma talks, I suppose…

    • I actually heard his Hahayana talk recently! He ordained all the listeners at one point, as I recall…

    • This is earth-shattering! Not just for the First Sutta of Hahayana, but that ayasma Brahm has finally made an appearance. Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

    • It’s the second time. April 9th he wrote 2 jokes but accidently it was signed under Brahmali. Ajahn Brahmali mentioned later it wasn’t him (scroll up). Of course all of Ajahn Brahm’s jokes are funny :o) even if we heard it before :o)

    • My other vehicle is a Hahayana.

      My other vehicle is a Laughter-Mobile

      My other vehicle is a Laughter-Im-mobile.

      Ha ha ha haaaa. Or should i say ha ha yaaaa naaaa. Teee heee hee heeee 🙂

    • Hi Bhante Brahm,

      Please elaborate. What is modern Buddhism? What is Hahayana Buddhism? I thought there is only one and only Buddhism i.e. Buddha’s Dhamma?

      Are you trying to introduce a new Buddhism.? Please clarify exactly what are these 2 new Buddhism so that we will not be misled. Is it like the Christians have New and Old Testaments?

      But in the West, Christianity also “died” off and i heard many churches have turned into discos especially in U.S. However, in Asia it prospered both Christianity and Buddhism (all traditions).

      It looks like no religion can survive in the West. Why???

    • “Christianity has died off in the West”. Are you serious?
      Hang around any street in any town in America on a Sunday morning and you will notice that everyone, I mean like EVERYONE, is going to church.
      Yep, good ol’ traditional Christian churches.

    • Dear Anne

      Sorry about that last statement i made out of my narrow sighted ignorance. I did not mean to agitate anyone with that but i just wanted to know the reason to any downfall of religions in certain parts of the world. Perhaps i over-generalized my view of religion in the West . Happy to hear that i was wrong about it.

      I guess all of us are seeking for the real Truth in our lives and a religion will only survive if Truth is revealed and people are no longer ignorant about the Truth. I am still seeking the Truth and it is an ongoing process until i find Truth (be it pleasant or unpleasant, agreeable or not, pleasing or not), the search is on.

    • Hey, no worries Yoh…just setting the record straight 🙂
      I agree with you that no matter what country, there are always people seeking the Truth and a spiritual life.

    • Hi Yoh

      I don’t understand what Truth you were still seeking when the Buddha had discovered, expounded and revealed the Truth (Dhamma) to us via HIS ENLIGHTENMENT.

      To the Buddhists, the Buddha’s Truth is in the Suttas and we are lucky enough to still have them today after many centuries.

      The Buddha had perfected HIS PARAMIS for countless aeons and struggled further for 6 years in human life to attain Enlightenment to rediscover the Truth for us found in the Suttas. The Suttas need not be altered or changed neither omitted or added (if you have faith and trust in them) as the Dhamma is “served” to us for free from our Buddha.

      I feel there is no need for you to seek anymore Truth outside. The Dhamma as what Buddha said is in our this body and mind (the 5 khandas/aggregates and the 6 senses with its 6 sense contacts). The Truth is inside us not something external ( as taught by the Buddha) and Buddha did not stop there. HE even gave us the “medicine” known as the 8-fold Noble Path and the “tool” known as Meditation to “cure” our “sickness” or worldly problems.

      I strongly urge you to seek the Truth in the original Suttas (accessible in http://www.accesstoinsight.com) l We do not need any new Dhamma, we already have the precious sacred Dhamma.

      Buddha had already done “HIS JOB” for us, and we just had to study the Dhamma in the Suttas, understand them, pactice (very important as without practice we will not “taste” the Truth) and finally realized it for ourseoves, for complete liberation, if not to be a better person. Trust the Suttas. You will find the “Treasure” hidden there (but you need to be patient reading them). Do not forget to practise 5 precepts (Sila) as your first foundation. Wish you spiritual success.

    • Hi Ed,

      So, we follow the Suttas: very good. But in which Sutta do we find that the Buddha “had perfected HIS PARAMIS for countless aeons”?

      Actually, this is purely a later doctrine, which is not found in the Suttas at all. But is it true, or not? If we rely solely on the Suttas, then we would have to reject the notion of paramis and so on. If we accept the tradition, then we are relying on sources of information outside the Suttas.

      Actually, we all have to do this, all the time. Every day we are learning, experiencing, growing, in ways that are not directly addressed in the texts. We can’t reject life because it’s not mentioned in our chosen books…

    • Yoh,

      While we’re waiting for an answer from Bhante…

      I am curious to know how you see it?

      What is Buddhism to you?

      I guess some of my response below will give an indication of what Buddhism is to me.

      I’m guessing you are in Asia since you speak with authority about the prosperity of both Christianity and Buddhism in Asia. You are very very lucky that the part of Asia that you live in is so rich in spiritual wealth.

      I was not so lucky when i lived in Asia. I didn’t see Christianity prospering. I did see the symbols and the rites and rituals of Buddhism. I did see the beautification of aspects of a culture due to Buddhist influence. But in terms of it’s prosperity…the place i lived in in Asia did not see a wealth of Arahants. Nor even a wealth of Stream Winners. Nor did it see every single Buddhist citizen in the area practising with wisdom. Not even with daily meditation and I don’t think they all kept even the five precepts purely. I think they sometimes practised generosity though.

      I’m sorry you haven’t been as lucky in seeing a good western example as you have been in seeing a good asian example.

      But in that i have been lucky.
      In the place i live i see Christianity still prospering. Just the other day i had the good fortune of seeing the effect on children of attending a very virtuous and generous Christian school. These were mature, respectful 11 year olds who were confident and kind towards each other and their teachers.

      I also have the very good fortune of seeing Buddhism prosper in the sense that i know for a fact the following things:

      1. I know of hundreds of people who practise generosity.

      2. I know of hundreds of people who keep the 5 (and sometimes the 8) precepts.

      3. I know many people who read the Suttas and ask questions about them in order to gain greater understanding.

      4. I know many people who have learned to use the Dhamma in learning to work in harmony, in helping others and in growing their own practise of the 8 fold path.

      5. I know many people who will listen with respect to a Dhamma talk by any teacher but then have the courage to question that teacher and then make their own decisions as the Lord Buddha advised.

      6. I know many many many people who are gradually becoming addicted to Breath meditation, Insight mediatation, Metta mediation, Walking meditation.

      7. I know many, many, many people who are becoming happier as they are learning to understand and accept their suffering.

      I could go on and on about how the Dhamma is growing where i live in the west but i would just make this Thread far too long!

      I hope the spiritual prosperity that you see where you are is equal to if not better than that which i see where i am. Wishing you well in your growth in Dhamma. Wishing you well because you are quite correct (imo) in thinking that there is only one Buddhism…and we are all in it together. So I wish you well, because if you are well, then Buddhism is well and that makes me well.

      As you say, you see all the traditions flourish. Once again i say you are lucky. You can choose from each that which leads to your peace and well being and happiness. I think that’s what the Buddha advised…he told Mahapajapati (in the Majjhima Nikaya i think) that the way that she would know what the Dhamma the Truth is, if it leads to peace etc. etc.

      Though now i come to think of it…all the traditions seem to be florishing here too. There are several Vajrayana centres. Zen is doing well i think though i don’t know about the details. The Taiwanese nuns have a beautiful temple in Maylands. I know there is a Burmese, Thai (not the forest tradition…the other one) Sri Lankan temple in WA alone. I believe the numbers are quite high if one was to count all the places in all of Australia.

      I rather like that they work together and communicate with each other and help each other. For instance, at the BSWA temple, while the monks/nuns are secluded in their respective monasatarys during the rains retreat, the Friday night Dhamma talk might be given by a Lay Zen teacher, A Tibetan Monk/Nun, A Chan Nun. I believe last year, there were even two Korean monks staying at the monks monastary.

      Harmony and helping each other despite differences. Focusing on the simililarites. Discussing the differences with good will. There…I’ve gone and added another fact that i know to my list of why Buddhism is prospering where i live. Buddhist groups working together and even learning from each other. It’s rather beautiful to see.

      Perhaps that’s what was meant – jokingly – by Hahayana. Haha – laughter, smiling, good will, harmony. Each group is still independent. No one is in control of other. They just work together as friends.

      Boy…I sure know how to do a good line in rambling…

      Sorry it’s a bit long…was sort of thinking a loud and am indulging a bout of laziness in not bothering to edit!!! Also I really need to get off this computer and clean the house!!!!!

      Much metta to you and everyone! 🙂

    • Dear Kanchana

      I thank you and appreciate your lengthy reply. From what i hear from you, it looks like all of us can accept the different traditions in Buddhism and work harmoniously together.

      There should then be no problem for Ajahn Brahm Sangha to jump-start another tradition (Hahayana sounds great & jovial) that is well-accepted by the Australian buddhist community. And this tradition supports Bhikkhunis ordination.

      There was nothing wrong if Buddhist community in Australia all supported it and it could become a precedent for other traditions to follow suit if it was workable and successful. Why not? If we don’t try we won’t know. What is not workable for others may work for you.

      I guess Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Sujato are both trying to modernize Buddhism in our modern developed world. Perhaps a good idea.

      If the other countries could have their own traditions for eg Tibet, Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma etc, each has its own traditions, then why not Australia too has its own tradition. It is only fair, as long as it is wholesome.

    • Hi Yoh,

      Yes. 🙂

      I fully agree. 🙂

      I think you and I want the same things…the long standing beauty and strength of the Buddha Sasana, the well being of all beings and our own liberation. And i think i recognise in you a fellow lover of the Triple Gem! May all our good wishes be fulfilled!!

      Metta 🙂

    • Dear Ed

      Thanks so much. I will take heed of your advice.
      May you find peace in the Dhamma.

    • Hi Brahm (not sure whether this Ajahn Brahm or someone using his name) with apology.

      Anyway, whoever this is, Buddhists in the world want to know exactly what you want for Australian Buddhism. If you do not have a clear objective or a direction or a tradition to relate to, it is very difficult for others to understand and appreciate your reform of Buddhism in Australia.

      All the other traditions, each has its own objectives or their core beliefs and we are able to relate them. It is impossible to have all believe in one “culture” or one “tradition” as we are all from different cultural backgrounds, upbringing and of course different Kammas and inclinations.

      For instance, Mahayana tradition, their core belief is Compassion for others and Humanitarian & Welfare works are their priority for salvation.

      Vajrana tradition is more towards cultivating for themselves first (as i think to them) if you cannot “save yourself how can you save others” policy.

      Zen tradition is talking about space, void, emptiness,non-self.

      Theravada tradition is more towards propagating the original teachings of the Buddha and meditation according to the Suttas/Vinaya. Theravada traditions have now 2 traditions within i.e the City Sangha tradition and the Forest Sangha tradition. The City tradition, besides dhamma propagation & meditation also focus on welfare,dhamma schools,meditation & dhamma classes for lay people,community works etc whereas, Forest tradition is solely dedicating themselves to meditation and self-realization of the Dhamma, chanting, dhamma-study, emulating the Buddha’s austerity way of life and do not dwell so much in community works and text, with only propagation of dhamma after self-realization.

      I hope i related them correctly (as this is my own perception of these various traditions who all following the Buddha’s Path i.e Sila Samadhi Panna and all acknowledged the 4 Noble Truth & Kamma and practicing under the 8-fold Noble Path & Meditation – Core Teachings of Buddha/Buddhism). Please correct me if i am wrong or any additions about any of the traditions.

      However, not sure of the smooth transitions of each of these traditions (whether peacefully or with resistance) but today, it appears in harmony with one another.

      Therefore, since the West or only the Perth Sangha, wish to reform, they need to be clear about what they want for themselves like the other existing traditions mentioned above, so we could relate to them to avoid further criticisms and “attack” resulting in ill-will and disharmony and at the same time preventing criticisms and “attack” on other traditions with different views from you, so harmony is restored with each tradition respecting one another and patience,tolerance, respect and understanding prevail amongst the large Buddhist communities in this large conventional world.

      Seek forgiveness if anyone is offended as this was never intended to be offensive but with intention for unity and understanding in our diversified cultures, traditions and views.

      I strongly believe, every one is entitled to one’s views, beliefs, rights and choice to form our own traditions according to our views, beliefs, aspirations and inclinations.

      May Peace & Harmony in Buddhism becomes a reality.

    • Hi Bu, you’re seeming to put a lot of focus on different traditions and cultures. It’s best to just stick with the Buddha’s original teachings. Buddha said that when he passes away there will be no leader after the Buddha, he said: let the Dhamma and the Vinaya be your teachers! So it’s more conducive to everyone’s practice if they just stick with the Buddha’s teaching as it’s taught in the suttas and vinaya. Every person will have different interpretation of the suttas or idea of them. If we’re a Buddhist then we read the Buddha and not others’ ideas. If we follow another person’s view of life then we shouldn’t call ourselves a Buddhist. We must let go of our ideas and just get ‘right view’ that’s presented in the suttas: Eightfold path leads to Nibbana, 4 noble truths, Everything is Annata, Dukkha and Annica. The Buddha taught everything necessary for ending samsara, he didn’t miss anything out of the teachings. It’s best to forget and not to identify with the culture or tradition we got exposed to Buddhism through since that will just create conflict. It’s best to just stick with the Dhamma and let the Buddha’s teachings guide our practice.

    • Hi Mike

      Naturally i googled slonezcko…

      Google asked me if i meant ‘sloneczko’…C before Z…

      Heh, heh…;)

    • Bu,

      I know that you have addressed this to Ajahn Brahm, so excuse me for my interruption, but I can’t help but notice that you seem very caught up in schools, sects, divisions, “us” vs. “them”. Surely this is dogma? We are all human. May we all be in peace and harmony to practise our Buddhist faith in the way the Lord Buddha prescribed it….as it fits our cultural heritage.

      Also, we here in Australia are friends to Thailand and we send peace and love to all there in Thailand who are stressed and suffering due to the current political climate and tensions that are erupting. It must be a very difficult time. Our hearts go out to you all. We are your friends, really.

      In peace and Metta. I mean that, sincerely.

    • Dear Bu,

      Thanks for your thoughtful reflections. I would only add that the differences between traditions that you have explained so well in your comments are not as hard and fast as all that. When living among Budhist traditions, we realized how loosely these general descriptions apply in specific cases. As just one example, the Forest Tradition in thailand is in fact one of the most active branches of Buddhism in charity work. This is not just the highly publicized efforts of Luang Ta Bua, but countless actions by many people, including Luang Po Liem of WPP, the monks at Wat Nanachat, and many others.

      We all want harmony, and we all regret the difficulties of the past months. Yet we cannot forget that the truly damaging and divisive acts are those that have been carried out in secret, the hidden politicking and manipulation of those who want, at all costs, to prevent women from playing any meaningful role in the Sangha, but who will not stand up in public and declare their beliefs.

    • Hi Bhante

      I emphatize with you. The Bhikkhuni ordination must have been a cultural shock for some Sangha in Asia who have been following their own cultures and traditions for many generations and they do not see the dire need to change to meet the modern changing demand.

      In the West, the lifestyles and advancement are more affluent and the environment and education system are different, with women on par with men in all levels, so the pressing needs for gender equality.

      Although it is ideal to have one ideology but it has to be realistic, as no two persons are the same. IMO, it is best to work out a change that is practical & realistic to your culture rather than waiting and hoping for everyone to agree to it before change can be made.

      It is good news to the world that the West is adopting a vibrant enthusiasm in adopting Buddhism and contributing Buddhist way of life in the West. All the best to all of you (i will quit blogging before i get addicted to blogging).Happy blogging.Sokhihotu.

    • Hi Bu,

      Just to point out, once again, that the Perth bhikkhuni ordinations can in no way be seen as a ‘western’ act. In fact, there is a thriving community of about 600 bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. There are also successful bhikkhuni communities in Thailand, India, Indonesia, and Cambodia, to restrict myself to just the Theravadin community. Australia is lagging well behind Asia in adopting bhikkhuni ordination.

    • So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, “We missed the “R” ! , we missed the “R” !”
      His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.
      The young monk asks the old abbot, “What’s wrong, father?”
      With A choking voice, the old abbot replies, “The word was… CELEBRATE !!! “

    • My apology, i have inadvertently typed “Bhante” it should be “Ajahn” if this is Ajahn Brahm, and not another person with the same name.

    • Bhante,

      How could you find it awesome?

      Obviously, it was sarcastic and making a joke of Metta Sutta in a disrespectful (though funny to some)manner (low-class not dignified).

      She looks more like a clown (clowning with Metta sutta) and an insult to those genuinely deaf community. It is definitely protraying a wrong impression of the deafs. Whoever she is, she is obviously making a joke of Metta Sutta and it is not cool. She could make jokes on other things but not on holy scriptures. That was really not nice and for me it was uncivilized and uncultured!

    • Hi Sam,

      This is so nice.

      Occasion when sound is not needed for Metta…

      Is there Mangala Sutta in sign language as well?

      Thank you:-)

    • Its a gem… Appears this is the only one unfortunately.

      Here’s another clip that I think is also worth sharing.

    • Sam,

      Do you know who she is?

      Is she actually hearing impaired or simply very good at sign language.

      I don’t really know much Auslan (that’s the sign language used in Australia). Does anyone know what form of sign language she is using?

      My internet connection’s not great so i couldn’t see it all but what little i did see i found to be very beautiful. Her smile seems so soft and gentle. I love the way that facial expressions seem to be such an important part of sign languages.

      Metta transcending language and sound…thanks so much for your post. Thanks for giving me the chance of having the pleasure of viewing something loving and kind through metta eyes…it made it more metta-ish 🙂

      With Metta

    • I’m a sign language interpreter and I guarantee she was being beautiful and respectful. She was not making fun at all, just respectfully signing the words exactly as they were in the subtitles. Sign language uses certain exact facial expressions which to a hearing person can look ‘fake’ but without these the sign means something different. You cannot sign only with your hands. I don’t know if she is Deaf or hearing but she is signing perfect and beautifully expressive BSL/ Auslan.

  28. My husband, who some of you will know, stated a moment ago that it is an offense in the Vinaya to make jokes about the Dhamma…

    He said (with a grin on his face, i must admit): At the time of the Buddha…

    On a hot day, the monks were served with a refreshing beverage. One of the monks, joked ‘the Sangha is now cooled.’

    This is the origin story for that rule. Apparently it was because the word ‘cooled’ is another way of saying that the fires of craving have been extinguised.

    Now, moving away from this, I have heard it said that if you make a joke, those listening should be made aware that it is a joke. And also that it shouldn’t cause harm to anyone.

    I would appreciate some further explanations on this matter by either Bhante Sujato, Bhante Brahmali or possibly even Ajahn Brahm…

    Yours in good (or bad…depends how one looks at it) jokes.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      Clearly a joke shouldn’t harm anyone, otherwise it would be wrong speech. When considering questions of ethics, it is always good to go back to the basics: something is unethical if it harms oneself, harms others or harms both. This is straight from the suttas.

      It seems to me that most of the time it is self-evident if someone is joking. In these cases I do not think anything needs to be said. However, if one’s audience doesn’t get the joke, and might thus be misled or even offended, it would obviously be good idea to let them know you are joking.

      Sometimes it is said that one should not tell jokes because they are not the truth, perhaps even ‘lies’. In my opinion, this goes too far. Again, one has to go back to the Buddhist basis for what is ethical. Is one telling the ‘joke’ to mislead or to amuse? There is surely nothing wrong, intending to amuse, to joke at the right time and place – perhaps it is even good karma! If your intention is pure, you’ll be fine.

    • Thanks very much for the reply Bhante. It’s much appreciated.

      I’ve heard that Ajahn Chah was always laughing and it seems he often made jokes. How does this fit in with the Vinaya rule that my dear old hubby mentioned?

      With many thanks and best wishes.

    • This rule is found in the orgin story to Sekhiya 51, and it imposes a so-called dukkata (lit. ‘badly done’) offence for making a joke about the Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha.

      It is difficult to interpret this kind of rule. What are the exact boundaries for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha? Was this rule ever laid down by the Buddha?

      To answer the second question first, it seems unlikely that this rule goes all the way back to the Buddha. Firstly, the Sekhiya rules are the only Patimokkha rules for bhikkhus that vary considerably between the different schools of Buddhism; see e.g. W. Pachow’s “A Comparative Study of the Patimokkha”. This means that many of these rules belong to the sectarian period of Buddhism, a period that commenced perhaps 200 years after the Buddha’s parinibbana. Secondly, it is generally accepted by scholars that the origin stories to the Patimokkha rules are later than the rules themselves. In my opinion, it is thus very unlikely that the Buddha ever laid down this rule. And if the Buddha didn’t lay it down, then it is not really binding on the Sangha.

      At the same time, the Dhamma is clearly a serious matter. It would be irresponsible to poke fun at the Dhamma in such a way that people lose their respect for it. There is a fine line between reasonable merrymaking and degradation of the Dhamma, and I am not sure it is possible to make any hard and fast judgement as to what is acceptable and what is not.

      Alas, this world of ours is so full of grey areas! We crave the certainty of clear guidelines, yet often we have to rely on our own imperfect judgement to decide what is right and what is not. But if you are reasonably clear about your motivation, and you keep in mind the effect your speech probably will have on your listeners, then you can’t go far wrong.

    • Ven. Brahmali wrote:

      “And if the Buddha didn’t lay it down, then it is not really binding on the Sangha.”


      “Alas, this world of ours is so full of grey areas! We crave the certainty of clear guidelines, yet often we have to rely on our own imperfect judgement to decide what is right and what is not.”

      The first statement seems to me to be a lawyerly approach, looking for loopholes, which doesn’t seem to fit the spirit of what it is to undertake monastic discipline.

      Isn’t the whole point of having Sekhiya or training rules to free the novice, monk or nun from having to rely on his or her “own imperfect judgment.”?

    • Dear Kanchana

      If i am not wrong, most of late Ajahn Chah’s stories (don’t look like jokes to me) like the “chicken & duck” “the mad boy at the market” etc are all Ajahn Chah’s stories to drive a point in his Teachings and to make us “see” better those Teachings with such stories or you can call them “jokes” if you like. But most of Ajahn Chah short-teaching stories have been modified into jokes.

      This is my opinion, after reading some of Ajahn Chah’s invaluable books and his simplicity teachings but very powerful, according to some teachings there, i deduce that if we are always chasing (literally) after “happiness” we will never see the true Dhamma discovered by our Buddha.

      Laughter may be good (as the saying goes Laughter is the best medicine) for worldly purposes as it also “excites” our system but i don’t remember reading in any of Ajahn Chah’s book on meditation or the Buddha’s Suttas that said, our meditation will be more blissful or effective after a good laugh.

      Buddha taught us to calm our senses down or calm ourselves by the breath method (anapanasati) to be able to achieve concentration. If our mind is always “laughing” or look for laughter, we are adding more fuel to our senses.

      A better medicine is to calm the mind, and the body will be calm and our system and blood circulation will work more efficiently and improve our blood circulation and also “medicine” for our mind.

      Laughter is more worldly whereas calming ourselves (not getting excited or playful) is more internal (spiritual) and excellent for our well being.

      We can get plenty of laughters in our modern world but how often can we get calmness, serenity, tranquility, saddha, devotion and peace? Food for thought. Metta.

    • Hi Ajahn

      I find that jokes by nature are always meant to laugh at others (like an insult) and to ridicule or to offend others in a subtle way and very cynical and sarcastic (dishonest). It is worse that telling the others straight at their face (more honest and outright). Why do people like to tell jokes?

      1. – it is to self-entertain themselves rather than entertain others or both;
      2. – they have too much emotional problems embedded in themselves and is crying out in laughter;
      3. – they are lonely (inside) but not aware and it is another expression of loneliness;
      4. – desiring for attention and is egoistic;
      5. – to gain friends and popularity.
      6. – they feel a sense of insecurity and trying to escape from the reality of life (like masking it);
      7. – they lack confidence and do not want others to see their true selves like hiding behind a mask (artificial).
      8. – they usually have a motive behind it – be it wholesome or unwholesome.

      Look inside, what is the cause of motivation (very subtle in our minds)? Hope you agree with me. P.s.- The next time you joke or make a joke, look at your mind or intention in the mind (arising and ceasing). If you are not aware, then you will react to it.

    • Dear Bu

      I hope you don’t mind me responding to you even though you addressed Bhante.

      I totally agree with you.

      What you have described does indeed occur and far too often. You have described with painful accuracy the comedy employed by the Bully and also sometimes by anyone in general.

      All your points listed describe a Bully.

      Someone intent on repeatedly hurting another because of the sense of security and power it gives him/her.

      That sort of joke should be ignored and walked away from. That sort of joke should be stood up to with good friends around us. That sort of joke should be countered with the knowledge that no matter what someone else says, they can never know us like we know ourselves. That sort of joke should be treated not with contempt…that’s too easy…but with metta which is based in hours of practise on the cushion/chair. That sort of joke should be met with confidence and a sense of security in our own virtue/generosity. Meet it with all these things and you will laugh with that person rather than have them laugh at you and then you will walk away still feeling alright, maybe even feeling good, maybe even with a deeper sense of faith in Dhamma.

      I hope you don’t mind my saying these things. I just recognised something that i (and i bet everyone else) has experienced. Don’t let the Bully get away with taking away your joy.

      But at the same time, don’t start seeing other people’s joy in making a joke as a threat.

      For instance:

      q. Why did the Buddhist coroner get the sack?
      a. Because he kept recording birth as the cause of death.

      ..i seriously doubt that the person that posted this was seeking to harm anyone. If anything they have very very cleverly given us the gift of Truth.

      May you be well and happy.

    • Kanchana

      I come from a culture, Anglo-Irish, which as a matter of normal speech engages in a lot of word play. We can be apparently making a joke and at the same time be communicating information, or a view or opinion, often in a very specific and nuanced way. But you have to know the game.

      A friend from the USA, who has lived in the UK for thirty years now, didn’t really catch on for the first decade she lived here and said that she always felt that she was on the outside of a shared joke and was missing much of what was being communicated, despite the fact that she was also a native English speaker … but a different dialect from a different culture.

      I became aware when I visited the USA that my habitual jokiness was interpreted as a lack of seriousness, lack of directness or even rudeness, so I changed the way that I spoke, as that was not what I intended.

      It is easy to misinterpret these things. I have seen US audiences interpret a Brit’s, ironic, laconic and self-deprecating style as meaning that he’s lying. I have seen British audiences interpret a US speaker’s non-joky, direct, earnest and, to British ears, “over-committed” style of speaking as also an attempt to cover up a lie. Neither interpretation was true.

      I think the intention behind a joke is fundamental to whether it is harmful or helpful, and part of that is knowing how the joke (or non-joke) is likely to be received.


    • Thank you for that David. It was kind of you to share, i found your comments very interesting and also useful.

      You’ve reminded me of the importance of cultural sensitivity. It’s something that I’ve noticed is practised to some extent in Australia because there are so many folks from different backgrounds here.

      Even within my own social circles, there are certain things i wouldn’t joke with to my parents or with my girlfriends or with my husband. There are even somethings that i could only joke about with my brother. You kind of have to have a shared history to be in on a joke. For years i found some aspects of Aus humour really offensive; but then i started to understand the culture i was in and started to find myself laughing at things that i would have found offensive in the past. Interestingly, this meant that i was letting go of the ill will i felt towards the jokers.

      It’s a funny thing…pun totally intended! 😉

      I’ve also found that the times that i find hardest to take a joke, are those times when some aspect of my ego is in pain. When some comedians on tv were making fun of the Dalai Lama i found it pretty offensive and while i felt uncomfortable about it, i didn’t find it as offensive when they made fun of the Pope.

      If someone makes fun of my friend, then i would find it hard because on some level, i see it as MY friend. When there’s ownership there’s pain.

      In the end it doesn’t matter does it? I can’t stop someone making a joke any more than i can stop the surprise attack of the painful sensation that may assail me upon hearing it. It’s all grist for the mill. I may never know if there intention was to hurt me or not but I will always have the power to find out why i took their joke so painfully; it’s something for me to look at with compassion towards myself so that one day, when someone makes the same comments, my happiness and ease is not so easily tainted by their words, but is rather held in my own hard won wisdom and self-metta.

      Yours in well intentioned good humour. 🙂

  29. This isn’t really a joke, and I don’t know know who the quote is attributed to, but I like it:

    “Try not to let your mind wander…It is too small and fragile to be out by itself.”

  30. An elderly relative asked in Thai, which could be roughly translated as: “Why did your father die?”
    I answered, “Because he was not breathing.”


    That really happened on Saturday, April 17 at my own father’s cremation ceremony. Well,… my relative did not appreciate my joke (of truth) at all!


    • Yes… hard to hear the truth….

      Condolences on your father’s death, Dheerayuapa. May he fare well, and may he be at peace wherever his journey takes him.

  31. Thank you, Linda.

    In one of Ajahn Sumedho’s talks, a woman complained about her young son’s ailment and asked Ajahn why her little boy had to suffer. Ajahn Sumedho answered: Because he was born. Naturally, the woman did not appreciate the joke (and truth), either!


    Both take up too much space on the bed.
    Both have irrational fears about vacuum cleaning.
    Both are threatened by their own kind.
    Both mark their territory.
    Both are bad at asking you questions.
    Both have an inordinate fascination with women’s crotches.
    Neither does any dishes.
    Both pass gas shamelessly.
    Neither of them notice when you get your hair cut.
    Both like dominance games.
    Both are suspicious of the postman.
    Neither knows how to talk on the telephone.
    Neither understands what you see in cats.

  33. I just made this one up:

    What does the buddhist monk ask the hot dog vendor?
    “Make me one with silence” :o) :o)

  34. or for those who like anapanasati:

    what did the buddhist monk say to the hot dog vendor?
    “make me one with the breath”


    • Nice one 🙂

      What about:

      What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?

      Make me one with stillness.


      What did the Buddhist say to the hot do vendor?

      Make me one with nothing.

  35. I personally find it disgusting that the spirituality of Buddhism has been turned into a joke in Perth and is trying to infect the rest of the world. Is this the kind of reform Aj Brahm & his puttujanas followers are heading towards?

    Then, please be more responsible. Form your own sect. Perhaps as Bramali joked. How about the HoHoHaHaVada tradition of Perth or HohohahahihiYana – the realm of jokes,laughter and happinessss. Dont’t degrade the Theravada Tradition. Theravada Tradition does not have this kind of Sutta called HoHoHaHa Sutta. Buddha did not prescribe this kind of Sutta and this kind of Teachings. Buddha had a complete Suttas for specifically laypeople, children, Sangha, meditators, children in the Sangha like Rahula, for women, for householders etc for happiness of all. Buddha also prohibit gays or lesbian entering the Sangha as they are very possessive but can be good faithful friends or workers and that was why Buddha make it a Rule in the Vinaya. Don’t screw up (pardon me) Theravada Buddhism with your own “sect” or “desire cult”.
    Please have your own identity and tradition don’t smear the theravada tradition that is pure and follower of Buddha’s Suttas & Teachings & Forest Meditation.

    • Excellent. Let’s do it!
      And you can form the Cult of Discrimination against Those With My View. Discrimination against this Haha or that Haha is the path to Nibbana.
      Your HaHa is better than the rest. Yes. You deserve a cult too.

    • Ahem. Excuse me! That was a reply from a mind spinning around all manner of jetplanes with all manner of bureaucratic boondoggles and glitches sleepless nights, meditationless days. A poor excuse to Dhamma Friends, I know. But Roni sent me a link to my alter ego in a parallel cartoon universe that seems a good reminder.
      In which the generally skillful Lisa Simpson (a self declared Buddhist) reacts yet again unskillfully to the taunts of her naughty brother

      With Metta from Trinidad during an eventful election campaign.

    • Come on Ed. Lighten up!
      Laughter is good for you. It improves the immune system, stops us from taking ourselves too seriously, and relaxes you. Try having a laugh, I guarantee your meditations will improve as a result too 🙂

    • Relax Ed, lighten up:) Being soft and gentle is more conducive to meditation and the path. It makes contentment and meditation easy:) I know that for my mind if I get critical and rigid, I just get grumpy and have ill will, which is not right effort. Right effort is to cultivate wholesome states of mind and allow the unwholesome to fade (by not feeding them). So, laughter is wholesome since it encourages acceptance, forgiveness and softness of mind. If you’re smiling or laughing, you can’t be having ill will 😉

    • Hello Ed

      Did you get that from this part of the Vinaya?

      Source from BMC1 – Parajika :-

      – The twelve equivalent pārājikas include the eleven disqualified types who should not be ordained as bhikkhus in the first place. If they happen to be ordained, their ordination is invalid; once they are found out they must be expelled for life (Mv.I.61-68; see BMC2, Chapter 14 for details). They are —

      a paṇḍaka (essentially, a eunuch or a person born neuter — see Saṅghādisesa 2),
      a “non-human” being, (this includes nāgas, petas, devas, and yakkhas),
      a hermaphrodite,
      a person who poses as a bhikkhu without having been ordained,
      a bhikkhu who has ordained in another religion without first giving up his status as a bhikkhu,
      a person who has murdered his father,
      a person who has murdered his mother,
      a person who has murdered an arahant,
      a person who has sexually molested a bhikkhunī,
      a person who has maliciously injured a Buddha to the point of causing him to bleed, and
      a person who has dishonestly caused a schism in the Saṅgha, knowing or suspecting that his position was contrary to the Dhamma-Vinaya.
      These eleven equivalent pārājikas apply to bhikkhunīs as well.

      Ed, it is not sure if “pandaka” means in modern term homosexual. It is conspicuous. Perhaps, you should ask the sangha personally to substantiate (& clarify) your statement. This is Sangha matters. Good Luck.

  36. Okay…

    How’s this…


    Elvis somehow ended up with the Buddhists in heaven.

    One day, he and the rest of the devas in his host took a break from singing ‘samsara house rock’ and decided to focus on the First Noble Truth by having a look in on the human realm. Sure enough, they spot someone creating worse suffering for themselves:

    Two humans, one Fully Enlightened and the other doesn’t know it; sadly the one who doesn’t know it is heard to say some rather unpleasant things to the Arahant.

    What does Elvis turn around and sadly sing to the other devas?

    ‘Re-turn to sender…address unknown…no such nama…no such rupa-a-a…Re-turn to sender…’

  37. An Australian Vajrayana Nun, a Chan Nun who had been born in India and a Theravada Nun who was originally from Nepal were sitting together in an aeroplane.

    As the plane flew over the Himalayas, the Theravada Nun sighed happily and said, the Dhamma is like the freedom at the top of Everest.

    As the plane flew over the Ganges River, the Chan Nun sighed happily and said, the Dhamma is like a strong current, that takes you to the ocean of wisdom.

    As the plane flew over Perth, WA, the Tibetan Nun thought hard for a while. Then she suddenly grinned happily and said, the Dhamma is like kangaroos because there’s a lot of that here!

  38. Sorry about the following…I just decided not to resist…


    ‘Ayye,’ said the Samaneri to the Fully Enlightened Bhikkuni, ‘how many hindrances still give you trouble?’

    To which the Bhikkuni, a woman of few words, replies, ‘Nun.’


    How many Bhikkunis does it take to change a light bulb?


    They get the Samaneri to do it.


    There were 5 Bhikkunis in the Dhamma Hall. They all went off to have a rest. How many Bhikkunis were left in the hall?


  39. Hi Folks

    In my opinion, instead of we indulging in frivolous jokes to make oneself and others roll in happy tears, why not we use our time and energy (Right Effort as taught by the Buddha)to propagate the Dhamma (esp the 5 precepts) to “educate” the youngsters on the virtues of observing the 5 precepts & the danger and adverse consequences of breaking them.

    Today, parents and teachers complained about pornorgraphy, and imagine, if we propagate Dhamma to these young, ignorant, innocent girls or boys who make a living in porno, about the danger of being reborn in Lower Unfortunate Realms or suffer later in this life (which is what the Buddha said in the Suttas), then we have helped to cut down porno in the market, as when there is no actress there will be no show and the result, no audience.

    Now we see, why Buddha said “The greatest Gift is the Gift of Dhamma”. Be a Propagator of Dhamma and not a Bodhisatva in our quest in helping those in need. We know we cannot change the world but we can change the people.

    • Hi Yoh, we can’t change people either. Just try:) I know I tried changing my parents and husband- doesn’t work! 🙂 The best we can do is just cultivate our own minds:) cultivating wholesome qualities and not unwholesome, generosity, meditation, reading suttas etc. If we each work on ourselves then that’ll have an effect on people we meet. It’s inspiring isn’t it meeting someone who is kind and nonjudgmental. We can change the world not by imposing Buddhism but through inspiration:)

    • Dania dear,

      Well-said! Leadership by example. Here, morality or sila by example. Agree with you.

      I guess it is hard to change people (it’s a fact, i tried to talk Buddhism to my own parents in vain, only got hit back by them sarcastically.)

      I guess one would only change spritually after they “saw” suffering” and “suffered” (physically & mentally) enough. Nonetheless, we must keep going on with our Dhammaduta work and hope one day the world will become a safer, sane & better place to live in.

    • I know how you feel Yoh:) I think I practically sent Dhamma talk cds and Dhamma books to everyone I knew:) Only a few did understand and it changed their lives (for the better). The rest just thought I was nutty:) I know how you feel though:)

    • Dear Yoh,

      I’m sorry if you or anyone else felt offended by the jokes.

      I confess i don’t mind a good laugh. And the less harmless, simple and cornball the joke is, the harder i seem to laugh…

      I see it as a valuable break because it stops me taking myself or my life too seriously.

      Also, for me the best jokes are the ones with the best Dhamma messages. I loved:

      Q. Why did the Buddhist coroner get the sack?

      A. He kept putting down birth as the cause of death.

      It brought the Dhamma home.

      I also loved:

      Q. What did the Buddhist say to the hotdog vendor?

      A. Make me one with nothing.

      Because imo this little joke points to a pleasurable, insight rich, metta-ful way to meditate and live life as a Buddhist. If creating a simple joke or reading it, reminds me of this sort of Dhamma beauty, then i am grateful to it because i (like most of us i guess) need all the reminders i can get.

      Sometimes when we are busy and tired, it is not easy for the mind to soak up a serious Dhamma talk. Lighten it with a few jokes and then it seems to seep in.

      I feel that’s why Ajahn Brahm’s Friday night talk (which draws a very varied audience, most of whom are ending a busy working week) at Dhammaloka, is often full of jokes and laughter. It’s really very compassionate of him.

      Also, while the brief and (yes i totally agree) excitement filled happiness of the joke induced laugh/smile is not the same as that brought on by mediation, the use of it can be a skillful means by a skillful teacher.

      I would also add that i totally agree with yourself and Dania in that it is near impossible to change people. I would add that it is therefore near impossible to stop the joker being the joker. He can’t help it; it’s just his anatta-ish conditioning and as long as he’s using his powers for good rather than evil, then all power to him i say!! 😉 🙂

      With Much Metta 🙂

    • Since when did we feel we have to start apologising for having a sense of humour? Having a sense of humour is a sign of emotional maturity…..something I believe is essential on the spiritual path.
      I loved your jokes Kanchana…thank you for the wonderful gift of putting a smile on my face. Sadhu!

    • many of these jokes ARE a gift in Dharma. And they are easily related to by young folks like myself who look at our minds throught the day and night.

      dryly stating scriptures will not always penetrate stubborn and afflicted persons, humour can sometimes

  40. Ed :
    Buddha also prohibit gays or lesbian entering the Sangha as they are very possessive but can be good faithful friends or workers and that was why Buddha make it a Rule in the Vinaya.

    Really?! Can you give us a Vinaya reference for that? How is it relevant here?

    The Buddha once told a story to a practitioner comparing the practice to playing a stringed instrument. If the strings are too loose, they don’t make a note. If they’re too tight, they break. Same with practice. Your strings sound too tight.

    • Dear david and Ed,

      There is no rule in the Vinaya that prevents the ordination of gays or lesbians. There is, in fact, no prejudice or discrimination against gays and lesbians found in early Buddhist texts. Any such remarks that you might hear from time to time are solely the opinions of later commentators, and creeping prejudices from other religions that are tainting modern Buddhism.

    • it’s very funny. I remember that in the vinaya class at Santi 2 years ago we went through a chapter in the vinaya on all these different people who can ordain, and there were these ‘pandakas’ who noone knows what they are, some sort of hermaphrodite with some weird sexuality (i think??). Anyways, it just showed that Buddha allowed nearly anyone to ordain! except animals or nagas 😉 It doesn’t matter what sexual orientation one starts with, it’s renounced anyways along the path.

      The more i’m exposed to people who call themselves Buddhist but who aren’t even interested in what the Buddha taught… the more I realize how important it is to get back to reading the suttas, as Bhante Sujato once suggested even having a weekly sutta reading like the christians do (i guess not everything they do is weird). All the answers in the practice and the goal of Buddhism are in the suttas and vinaya.

      Also keeping the main goal in mind: nibbana, cessation. So any human being has the ability to renounce, live a renunciate life and surrender the 5 khandas (if i phrased that correctly?). Buddha said that any human being (almost except one who killed parents etc) can end samsara in this life, no matter what sexual orientation someone starts on.

      So keeping the main goal of Buddhism and monastic life in mind: ending samsara, renunciation, ending of the khandas, answers questions like ‘can gays ordain?’. Of course they can since they are able to renounce, incline towards peace and gain wisdom. Similarly to the passage in the suttas when Ananda apparently asked the Buddha if women can get enlightened and the Buddha said yes, so Ananda said: then let Mahapajapati ordain! (it went something like that didn’t it?). So same thing: can gays get awakened, end samsara? yes! So let them ordain:)

    • as Bhante Sujato once suggested even having a weekly sutta reading like the christians do

      and I have tried, sporadically, to introduce this in my talks in Sydney. I’ve got another wave of enthusiasm for this idea, and will try to keep it up…

    • What of Soreyya, the son of a rich man of the town of the same name. He became a woman after admiring Ven. Maha Kaccayana’s handsomeness, and thinking what it would be like to marry him! Mortified, he went to Takkasila and married a wealthy banker there. He had left behind the two sons he’d fathered. As wife, he gave birth to two more sons in his new relationship.

      After some time, he saw an old friend driving a carriage in Takkasila, identified himself and returned to Soreyya with him. He confessed his improper thoughts to Ven. Maha Kaccaya and when the elder pardoned him, he once again became a man.

      Thoroughly tired of the complications of the homelife, he became a monk under Ven. Maha Kaccaya and went to Savatthi. People kept asking him which set of sons he loved more, those he fathered or those he had been mother to. Although he admitted his love had been greater as a mother, he got disgusted by the questions and went alone to meditate, and became an arahat. Then, he said that his affections were set on no one.

      Commentar to Dhammapada Verse 43
      Soreyya Vatthu

      Na tam mata pita kayira
      anne vapi ca nataka
      sammapanihitam cittam
      seyyaso1naim tato kare.

      Verse 43: Not a mother, nor a father, nor any other relative can do more for the well-being of one than a rightly-directed mind can.

    • Dear Bhante

      I thought that in at least one canonical case, the Commentary was rather non-judgemental, namely the case of Ven Vakkali.

    • I’m not familiar with this commentary – can you enlighten us?

      I wasn’t meaning to imply that the commentaries were always prejudicial, merely that they sometimes are. The classic case is the commentary to the Aggañña Sutta, where the text, in speaking of stages of moral decline, says ‘micchā dhammā’ (wrong – practices? principles? teachings?…) and the commentary explains, ‘men with men, women with women.’

      But I’m not aware of other commentarial passages against homosexuality, so perhaps this is simply an isolated instance. While the commentaries are, for the most part, consistently edited together by Buddhaghosa, they originate from the advice of many teachers, and there is no reason to think that such an isolated remark should be taken as the authoritative position of the entire tradition.

    • Dear Bhante

      I lifted it from Piya’s notes on the ayasma who ordained for the sake of gazing at the Buddha’s physical beauty. He was condensing from either the Samyutta or Dhammapada commentaries.

      Strange, is it not, that one of the most well-known Buddhist sayings,

      “One who sees the Dhamma, sees me; one who sees me, sees the Dhamma”

      was given to a gay monk pining for the Buddha?

      Even more odd is the reference in the Commentary to a passage untraced in the Canon to the Buddha’s “dhammakaya” as explaining the Buddha’s admonition to Ven Vakkali above. Trikaya creeping into Theravada?

      I wonder if Ven Buddhaghosa had to deal with multiple commentaries on the meaning of the “pandaka” in the Vinaya.

  41. This is not necessarily a joke but a real life situation that I find funny. When people I meet along life’s journey and become friends with, leave or go to another city and we part, I noticed the best farewell greeting that comes to mind and which I tell them is “May you cease” or “may you cease in this life” or “may you never come back into this world again!” and I really mean it with metta:) To a non-Buddhist who would hear this would think I despise the person and am wishing them harm! But in fact I’m wishing them ultimate happiness:) The Buddhist friend smiles and thanks me and says “may you cease and never come back again too!” 🙂
    Gives me a warm giggle when I remember so just wanted to share:)
    Buddhism is so unlike popular culture that it’s sometimes funny.

    • Hehe. I agree. That’s one of the best rewards of the Kalyanamitta Realm. The license to be out of this world. (with humour, questions, endeavours, life directions, etc.)

  42. Upon bungee jumping off of a towering skyscraper…

    Clinging says: “Hold on for dear life!”
    Nibbana says: “Let yourself go!”
    Anatta says: “We’re not having this conversation!”

    Knock knock?
    Who’s there?
    Skandha who?
    Skandha hard to explain!

  43. sujato :Hi Ed,
    So, we follow the Suttas: very good. But in which Sutta do we find that the Buddha “had perfected HIS PARAMIS for countless aeons”?
    Actually, this is purely a later doctrine, which is not found in the Suttas at all. But is it true, or not? If we rely solely on the Suttas, then we would have to reject the notion of paramis and so on. If we accept the tradition, then we are relying on sources of information outside the Suttas.
    Actually, we all have to do this, all the time. Every day we are learning, experiencing, growing, in ways that are not directly addressed in the texts. We can’t reject life because it’s not mentioned in our chosen books…

    Not rejecting life because it’s not found in our chosen books…

    Perhaps this is what the Buddha meant when he taught that our mind and body are what we should study; obviously within the framework of his Dhamma.

    But which Dhamma? It sounds as if Ed has taken for granted that certain teachings (ie the Paramis) are from the Suttas.

    Perhaps he (like most of us) hasn’t thoroughly studied the Suttas but has instead used blind faith. I used to be inclined to be like this but I had to throw that out because it didn’t stand up to being tested by common sense or more importantly – Dhamma sense. Now I feel that I have a lot of natural (in the sense that i can’t seem to help it) faith in the Suttas, but i know i don’t understand them.

    I know i don’t know which bits were added later. I have a sense of trust in what reputable scholars (like Bhikku Bodhi) tell me through their work but that’s as far as that goes.

    The faith seems to really magnify when i test something out (as the Buddha advised us to do) and then i see the results in my own real life.

    The best thing to study (as i think Ajahn Chah stated) is our own heart. But if we just follow our own ideas without any investigation then we are lost. And that very investigation needs to be based on Dhamma. But once again we are lost if we don’t try and figure out what the Buddha’s Dhamma really was.

    I guess that’s why the Buddha (was it repeatedly in the Suttas?) stated that ‘the work of the mind going back to the source’ and the ‘words of another’ were essential causes for enlightenment. We’ve got to do it ourselves, not deny any part of life that we experience. But we also need to figure out what the words of the Fully Enlightened Buddha were. It’s essential that we do not simply accept the Suttas as they have been presented to us. We need to know which bits are most likely to have been spoken by the Blessed One. The need to know this is really quite urgent and essential. I am so glad i live in an age where monks like Bhikku Bodhi exist!

    Regarding the Bhikkuni issue. Anyone with any doubts, do track down and read Bhikku Bodhi’s work on this matter. It certainly changed my mind, especially since Bhikku Bodhi seems to be neutral and unaligned with any particular party. He presents the case for and against. Also his reputation as a brilliant scholar who brought us excellent translations of the Suttas remains (as far as i know) unquestioned.

  44. What is a Buddhist’s favourite box of chocolates?

    An empty one.


    What is a Buddhist’s favourite box of dark chocolates?

    One which is finished the same evening it’s opened.


    One anagarika to another, ‘do you think we should offer this to the monks first, it looks like a good quality dark chocolate? It’s almost a work of dark chocolate art!!!’

    ‘No. Don’t you know? The monks can’t have anything to do with the dark arts.’


    Anagarika 1: ‘i don’t think it’s right that i eat so much dark chocolate. i feel like i’m feeding my defilements, my greed…it’s totally akusala!!’

    Anagarika 2 ponders for a moment, then says with a saintly smile: ‘You are right. From now on, out of respect for your wise observation, i won’t eat my share of the chocolates. And because i respect what you’ve said so much i would love to help you. So that you are never tempted by this dreadful pleasure, i’ll make a big sacrifice for you; from now on i’ll only eat your share of the chocolates.’

  45. Visakha, do you think that this story is not a fabricated one? I read this story some time before but never think the events these can be verified by logical and scientific test.

    Visakha Kawasaki :
    What of Soreyya, the son of a rich man of the town of the same name. He became a woman after admiring Ven. Maha Kaccayana’s handsomeness, and thinking what it would be like to marry him! Mortified, he went to Takkasila and married a wealthy banker there. He had left behind the two sons he’d fathered. As wife, he gave birth to two more sons in his new relationship.
    After some time, he saw an old friend driving a carriage in Takkasila, identified himself and returned to Soreyya with him. He confessed his improper thoughts to Ven. Maha Kaccaya and when the elder pardoned him, he once again became a man.
    Thoroughly tired of the complications of the homelife, he became a monk under Ven. Maha Kaccaya and went to Savatthi. People kept asking him which set of sons he loved more, those he fathered or those he had been mother to. Although he admitted his love had been greater as a mother, he got disgusted by the questions and went alone to meditate, and became an arahat. Then, he said that his affections were set on no one.
    Commentar to Dhammapada Verse 43
    Soreyya Vatthu
    Na tam mata pita kayira
    anne vapi ca nataka
    sammapanihitam cittam
    seyyaso1naim tato kare.
    Verse 43: Not a mother, nor a father, nor any other relative can do more for the well-being of one than a rightly-directed mind can.

    • Who knows? Who cares? Certainly such things may be possible now with hormonal and surgical treatments. What is interesting is the story, is it not? Non-judgmental about sexual orientation, physiology, and the benefits of asking forgiveness! 😉

      I offer Postel’s Law, a principle in international (web) applications:

      “be conservative in what you emit and liberal in what you accept”

      Which, at least, means: be able to understand the other party’s poorly-formatted output, but make sure that what you output complies 100% with standards.

      I certainly “accept” much more (from the commentaries, for example)than most people who write to this blog, without worrying overmuch about literal meaning or absolute historical accuracy.

  46. Some seem to be debating here, the suitability of jokes within the Sangha, or whether monks should teach ( or not teach ) with funny, anecdotal tales — I can’t really see any fundamental problem in doing so. A joke can lift the spirit. However, what I do find annoying, is when a monk or nun comes out with a very folksy, parochial saying or idiom — and it is then taken up by over eager Western disciples as being some kind of revelatory powerful and intense Zen Koan.

    Thus, we sometimes find that a Monk will come out with some ( albeit finely intentioned, apposite and appropriate ) simplistic tale about water buffaloes,ripe mangoes or village chickens — and western disciples revere the utterance as if it were the highest wisdom of a Zen genius.

    Then, we sometimes find Western monks coming up with some placating new age- feel good therapy phrase along the lines of ‘don’t worry be happy’, or ‘just let go’ and his eager disciples reify the words as if he were a modern day Meister Eckhardt.

    There is a huge industry, for example, based on collecting every word the Dalai Lama every uttered, and then packaging it all into reduced, banal aphorisms.

    Jokes are not a problem at all — more of a problem is lay people projecting onto, and idolising the monks and their every word.

    None of what I have written is a particular or pointed denigration of the Monks themselves,( who are usually just doing their job and helping, and communicating with people ) but rather, a comment on what over zealous and overly reliant lay people can tend to do with the monks’ words when desperately seeking consolation and pacifying feelings of security.

  47. Dear Visakha, (regarding the keeping of rules that were not laid down by the Buddha)

    I believe one of the most important fronts of Buddhist research is precisely to find out what the Buddha did and didn’t teach. After all, the Buddha laid down the four great standards to help us decide what are his core teachings. He also made it quite clear that the long life and prosperity of the Dhamma depends on not laying down what has not already been laid down (by the Buddha) or abolishing what he did lay down (DN16). The conclusion one must draw from these sorts of statements can only be that Dhamma or Vinaya not comimg from the Buddha should be set aside.

    These guidelines given by the Buddha are in fact very useful. How much effort should one put in to understand the Abhidhamma? If one accepts that the Abhidhamma was not spoken by the Buddha – and this is pretty much unanimously agreed by modern scholars – one can simply put aside the entire Abhidhamma. In this way one avoids the sometimes very difficult question of which parts of the Abhidhamma are compatible with the suttas. We don’t need to come to any conclusion on the overall validity of the Abhidhamma, we can simply ignore it. The suttas are our most reliable guide to Buddhist practice, and other works can potentially confuse our understanding.

    The same is true for the Vinaya. Buddhist monastics follow all sorts of rules: rules from the Canonical Vinaya, rules from the Vinaya Commentaries and rules that are specific to each monastery. But only the Buddha had the authority to lay down rules that are universally binding for the whole Sangha. If it can be shown with a high degree of certainty that a rule does not stem from the Buddha, then not only can we set it aside, we should set it aside. Of course, the rule may still point to a valid principle of behaviour, in which case one should still practise according to that principle.

    It would be nice if the Vinaya rules freed monastics from having to use their own imperfect judgement, but unfortunately this is not so. It is possible to do all sorts of immoral actions and still stay within the boundaries of the Vinaya. In the extreme, it may even be possible to kill someone without breaching the Vinaya rules. In the end, we all have to apply the underlying ethics of kindness and compassion, with all the grey areas that this involves, to live a fully ethical life.

    With metta.

    • Dear Ven. Bhikkhu Brahmali,

      I certainly am no scholar and my confidence in Buddhism isn’t dependent upon modern “Buddhist research to find out precisely what the Buddha did and didn’t teach” as you put it.

      Is that possible, let alone likely after 2500 plus years? Is it necessary or even desirable? Isn’t it rather like that wounded fellow who wants to know all the details of the archer, the bow and the arrow before he’ll allow himself to be treated? Further, it seems that there might be very bad reasons for wanting to be selective – to want to dispense with some discipline and some teachings – wasn’t that what so alarmed Ven. Maha Kassapa that he convened the First Council shortly after the Buddha’s Maha Parinibbana?

      Shouldn’t we be very reluctant to “set aside” everything we are not satisfied with as coming directly from the Buddha himself? As for Dhamma, the Buddha accepted and approved of a number of suttas which were uttered by followers, bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay. Further, if we find consistency and indeed, the flavor of suffering and release from suffering, even within material in the commentaries and, gasp, the Abhidhamma, shouldn’t we respect that and use it skillfully? Certainly, when it came to matters of Vinaya, the Buddha often praised Ven. Upali, who after all was the one who was responsible for reciting the Vinaya during the First Council.

      Abhidhamma may not appeal to you, but “setting aside the entire Abhidhamma, simply ignoring it ” to avoid the “sometimes very difficult question of which parts of it are compatible with the suttas” seems like rather a mockery of scholarship, doesn’t it? When you argue that “The suttas are our most reliable guide to Buddhist practice, and other works can potentially confuse our understanding.” you seem to be giving a very “fundamentalist” approach to Buddhism. Let’s not let 2500 years of pariyatti complicate things for us. Isn’t that a little insulting? The suttas were given in specific contexts to particular listeners. For many of us, the stories, the analyses, the verses, the explanations of those who were closer to the Buddha than we are in 2010 are not confusing but are clarifying, not complicating, but inspiring. The rich literature of Pali Buddhism doesn’t need to be pared; over the centuries a lot has been irretrievably lost.

      When it comes to Vinaya, didn’t the Buddha establish four guidelines (not the Great Standards from DN 16, but the Great Standards (Mv.VI.40.1) to be used to determine cases not directly mentioned in the rules, such that allowability or not could be determined by precedent?

      “Bhikkhus, whatever I have not objected to, saying, ‘This is not allowable,’ if it conforms with what is not allowable, if it goes against (literally, “preempts”) what is allowable, that is not allowable for you.
      “Whatever I have not objected to, saying, ‘This is not allowable,’ if it conforms with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, that is allowable for you.
      “And whatever I have not permitted, saying, ‘This is allowable,’ if it conforms with what is not allowable, if it goes against what is allowable, that is not allowable for you.
      “And whatever I have not permitted, saying, ‘This is allowable,’ if it conforms with what is allowable, if it goes against what is not allowable, that is allowable for you.”

      I fear a contraction when you say that “Only the Buddha had the authority to lay down rules that are universally binding for the whole Sangha.” on the one hand, yet on the other, argue that “It is possible to do all sorts of immoral actions and still stay within the boundaries of the Vinaya. In the extreme, it may even be possible to kill someone without breaching the Vinaya rules.”

      Do you mean that the first of the Four Parajika, The Defeaters, is somehow not universally binding? That it was not laid down by the Buddha himself?

      As I understand it all new bhikkhus are told about the Parajika Offences immediately after ordination, so they are fully aware of their seriousness, that to break one is to cease to be a monk, and unable to reordain. How could anyone in robes “kill someone without breaching the Vinaya rules.” as you phrased it?

      Finally, isn’t the importance of the vinaya just that it is a discipline to enable those who undertake it to strive to perfectly lead an ethical life by simplifying, by managing relations within the monastic community, to sort out conflicts, and to deal smoothly with the busy world outside? As Gombrich put it, Vinaya is “more than merely a means to an end: it is very nearly the end in itself.” Isn’t the Sangha one of humanity’s oldest institutions — still going after 2500 + years?

    • Dear Visakha,

      Following on from the discussion between yourself and ven Brahmali, allow me to make just one additional comment.

      You refer to the ‘Four Standards’ from the Vinaya. But these are, I believe, regularly taken out of context. In fact, they are principles given when the Buddha was deciding what was allowable for the monks as ‘afternoon medicine’, and what was only to be eaten in the morning. There is no indication in the text itself that it was meant to be a universal guide to judging what is and is not Vinaya. Of course, the four standards are common sense, and there is no reason not to refer to them as a precedent or example.

      Far more common, and more important, are the places, such as the four references of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, or several passages in the Anguttara, where the Buddha clearly enjoins us to distinguish between what is genuine Buddhavacana and what is not.

  48. Dear Visakha,

    You ask whether finding out what the Buddha taught isn’t “rather like that wounded fellow who wants to know all the details of the archer … before he’ll allow himself to be treated?” As with everything in life, there is obviously a balance here. You are right if you mean that we cannot put off the practice until we know precisely every word spoken by the Buddha. This will clearly never happen. On the other hand, if one has no guidelines at all as to what was and was not spoken by the Buddha, then one is ultimately obliged to read the entire Pali corpus and then try to understand it all. But this is also impossible. There are far too many people in the Buddhist world who spend their entire lives just on study. Many monks spend their whole monkhood just studying the Vinaya – it is actually very complex, particularly when you get into the commentaries, sub-commentaries and Vinaya manuals. The more we can narrow down what the Buddha taught the better, and if research can be of assistance in this area, I think we should accept its conclusions as a precious gift.

    You say, “if we find consistency and indeed, the flavour of suffering and release from suffering, even within material in the commentaries and, gasp, the Abhidhamma, shouldn’t we respect that and use it skilfully?”

    Certainly we can use material from the commentaries and the Abhidhamma if it is consistent with the suttas, just as we use material from contemporary teachers to guide our practice. But it is good to be aware of the dangers in such an approach. The first danger is that one’s main focus of study becomes the Abhidhamma and post-Canonical literature. When one eventually turns to the suttas, if that ever happens, one reads them through the filter of what one studied before. In my experience this can sometimes lead to a distorted understanding of the message in the suttas.

    Of course, if one believes that the Abhidhamma was literally spoken by the Buddha, and moreover that it is the highest expression of his teachings, then this approach is only natural, even necessary. With this assumption as one’s starting-point, one is literally compelled to find compatibility where none might exist. If, on the other hand, one realizes that the Abhidhamma was not literally spoken by the Buddha, then one can at least be open to the possibility that the two may not be fully compatible. Having this openness of mind is important, since it allows one to see discrepancies that one otherwise would have to paper over.

    The second danger is simply that the doctrines of the Abhidhamma can be so complex and arcane that it is often no easy matter to determine whether they in fact are compatible with the suttas. In my opinion, there are some clear discrepancies between the two. But how many people have the time and resources to get to know both the suttas and the Abhidhamma thoroughly enough to discover such potential problems? For most people, who have limited time or inclination to study these issues, it would be far better to focus on the suttas – there is a lifetime’s worth of study just there. So by all means allow yourself to be inspired by post-Nikaya literature, even by contemporary teachers. But keep in mind that finally there is only one standard against which all later teachings can be judged, and that is the suttas. If we don’t use them as a mooring, we risk drifting away from the Buddha’s essential message.

    A third danger is hubris at our own ability to spot true Buddhist teachings. This is perhaps encapsulated in the attitude “I do whatever works for me”. The problem is that we are all, to some extent, blinded by the darkness of delusion, and sometimes we are simply unable to distinguish a true Buddhist teaching from one that is not, or “what works” from what doesn’t. Thus it can be very helpful, even crucial, to have a final authority on profound issues of Dhamma, without which it may prove impossible to get a clear understanding.

    You say, “the Buddha accepted and approved of a number of suttas which were uttered by followers, bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay.”

    Yes. And, of course, in these instances I cannot see anything wrong with accepting them at face value. But the Buddha also taught that one of the future dangers to the Dhamma is people listening to, studying and learning “discourses … that are mere poetry composed by poets, beautiful in words and phrases, created by outsiders, spoken by disciples” but not “discourses spoken by the Tathagata … that are deep, deep in meaning, world-transcending, connected with emptiness” (AN5:79). One of the categories mentioned here is “discourses spoken by disciples”. The clear implication of this statement is that one should take the Buddha’s teachings as primary, and measure everything else against those teachings, not the other way around.

    You argue that “there might be very bad reasons for wanting to be selective – to want to dispense with some discipline and some teachings …”. Indeed. If anyone dispenses with Vinaya rules – or suttas – simply because they want an easy life or they want to go along with their defilements, then of course that is completely wrong. If one were ever to decide that certain rules did not originate with the Buddha, it would have to be done only on the basis of proper evidence.

    Before I look at an example of where dispensing with a rule might be justified, I want to make some general remarks on the Patimokkha rules. It is generally accepted that the Patimokkha – with the possible and partial exception of the Sekhiyas rules – is one of the most ancient of all Buddhist texts and that there are good reasons to think that it was laid down by the Buddha himself. There is thus very little scope for challenging the validity of this foundation of Buddhist monastic discipline. (But, of course, the vast majority of monastics don’t even practise these rules fully.)

    The most important tool used by scholars at present to ascertain the antiquity of any piece of Buddhist literature is comparative study across different Buddhist schools. When one compares the Pali Vinaya with that of other schools, it becomes clear what they have in common and what is divergent. The general assumption is that what they have in common must be the core teachings that go back to pre-sectarian Buddhism. When one performs this sort of analysis, one sees that the Patimokkha rules (apart from the Sekhiyas) are virtually identical across all existing recensions of the Vinaya. This is quite remarkable considering how long these texts have existed independently of each other (over 2,000 years), and to me this shows that the core teachings have been kept extraordinarily intact.

    So what about the Sekhiya rules? Many of these rules are not to do with morality as such, but with standards of behaviour upheld in ancient Indian society. A careful reading of the Sekhiyas, however, makes it clear that one only breaks these rules if one disregards them out of disrespect. I understand this to mean that if a particular type of behaviour that was not acceptable in ancient India is now acceptable, then not to follow a Sekhiya that prohibits such behaviour is no offence. An example might be a monk who gives a talk in a standard university lecture theatre, in which case he might break three separate Sekhiya rules: he would stand in a lower position than his audience; he would stand while the audience sits; and the audience would wear shoes while listening. If one were to follow the Sekhiyas literally, one would not be able to teach at such a venue. But if one accepts the reasoning I have given above, then there is no problem. This is just to show how important interpretation is in matters of Vinaya.

    For other Vinaya rules – those outside the Patimokkha – if there is good evidence that a rule does not go back to the Buddha, and the rule seems particular to one specific society – then, in my opinion, it would be reasonable not to cleave too tightly to such a rule. But, of course, you are right that one has to be careful here, and not just allow oneself to be lead by wishful thinking. As long as it is unclear whether a rule came from the Buddha or not, one should practise it. I should also say that this is largely just a thought experiment on my part, since I do follow virtually all the rules of the Pali Vinaya (I main exception I make is for certain Sekhiya rules, for the reasons given above). And it will probably have to remain a thought experiment until we have better comparative studies of the various recensions of the Vinaya (which could take decades, perhaps centuries).

    There is, however, one case where I might support not following certain rules, and that is the case of the eight garudhammas that bhikkhunis traditionally follow. I would argue that if it can be shown with a reasonable degree of certainty that these rules were not laid down by the Buddha – and there are certainly scholars who say this is so – then why keep practising rules that go against the norms of contemporary society? If these rules were not laid down by the Buddha, they probably came into existence as a result of the social norms in India over 2,000 years ago. There seems to be no good reason why bhikkhunis should adhere to such outdated social norms.

    You ask whether I “mean that the first of the Four Parajika (actually I was referring to the third parajika), The Defeaters, is somehow not universally binding? That it was not laid down by the Buddha himself?”

    I certainly don’t, and it seems you have misunderstood the point I was trying to make. My point was that the Vinaya is a legal code (and it is treated as such by monastics) and like any legal code it is full of loopholes – it’s simply impossible to legislate morality. These loopholes are found even with the most serious of offences, ie, the parajikas. To be specific – and this is what I was referring to in my previous post – if you can kill someone purely with an act of mind – and there are those who would say that you can – then this would not constitute parajika offence, since according to Cv IV 14.6 no offence can ever be committed purely by mental means. So there you are: you are a monk (or nun) and you have killed someone, but there is no offence. Of course, this doesn’t mean you haven’t done anything wrong, and I would say you deserve a parajika just as much as any other monastic murderer. But technically you have escaped the offence.

    These sorts of loopholes are found throughout the Vinaya. And this is to be expected: the Buddha laid down rules only when someone did something immoral or inappropriate. If certain actions were never performed, then no rule exists against that act, however immoral it may be. For this reason, it is never enough to just follow the Vinaya in a legalistic fashion. One has to practise morality in its broadest sense, and the Vinaya is just there to guide you if you lose your way. Moreover, morality in Buddhism is not just a ‘negative’ morality of avoiding what is immoral, it is also a ‘positive’ morality in the sense that one should actively do what is good. Such goodness is obviously not legislated at all in the Vinaya. Again, morality is a not just a matter of practising Vinaya.

    You also mention Gombrich’s idea that the Vinaya “is very nearly the end in itself”, which to me seems wide of the mark. The Vinaya was established mostly because monks didn’t behave properly due to defilements. If someone practises kindness and compassion consistently – ie, the Dhamma – then the Vinaya is virtually redundant. Only sincere practise of the Dhamma will make one progress on the path, not simply the keeping of rules.

    With best wishes.

    • well said! and the blog readers were satisfied and delighted in Venerable Brahmali’s words!

    • Dear Ven. Bhikkhu Brahmali,

      Although no scholar myself, I certainly would look to scholars for guidelines, but perhaps we differ as to the scholars we trust? When you write “There are far too many people in the Buddhist world who spend their entire lives just on study.” I would tend to disagree, and express my gratitude to them; because of their efforts, we don’t have to try to do it all ourselves. Of course, that scholarship goes way back and it includes commentaries and sub-commentaries. Also, I would never dare to assume that scholarly monks didn’t also meditate.

      To understand the place of the Abhidhamma in Theravada Buddhism, mightn’t we do well to refer to A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, edited by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and available at ?

      In the introduction, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ven. U Rawata Dhamma make clear that Theravada Buddhism recognizes the Abhidhamma as “the authoritative recension of the Buddha’s teachings,” dating in its present form from the first council at Rajagaha, three months after the Buddha’s Parinibbana under the leadership of the Venerable Elder Mahakassapa. Thus it takes its place as the third basket of the Tipitaka, the Abhidhamma, the Buddha’s “higher” or “special” doctrine, which tradition holds was first fully formulated by the Buddha as he reflected in the Jeweled House in the MahaBodhi compound after Enlightenment, taught to the devas in Tavatimsa during one rains retreat, and given in brief to Ven. Sariputta to be articulated in detail by the Captain of the Faith. Believe those stories or not, the fact remains that “for Theravada Buddhism, the Abhidhamma Pitaka is held in the highest esteem, revered as the crown jewel of the Buddhist scriptures.”

      Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ven. U Rewatta Dhamma maintain, that “The reason the Abhidhamma Pitaka is so deeply revered only becomes clear as a result of thorough study and profound reflection, undertaken in the conviction that these ancient books have something significant to communicate. When one approaches the Abhidhamma treatises in such a spirit and gains some insight into their wide implications and organic unity, one will find that they are attempting nothing less than to articulate a comprehensive vision of the totality of experienced reality, a vision marked by extensiveness of range, systematic completeness, and analytical precision. From the standpoint of Theravada orthodoxy the system that they expound is not a figment of speculative thought, not a mosaic put together out of metaphysical hypotheses, but a disclosure of the true nature of existence as apprehended by a mind that has penetrated the totality of things both in depth and in the finest detail. Because it bears this character, the Theravada tradition regards the Abhidhamma as the most perfect expression possible of the Buddha’s unimpeded omniscient knowledge (sabbaññuta-ñana). It is his statement of the way things appear to the mind of a Fully Enlightened One, ordered in accordance with the two poles of his teaching: suffering and the cessation of suffering.”

      They continue: “The system that the Abhidhamma Pitaka articulates is simultaneously a philosophy, a psychology, and an ethics, all integrated into the framework of a program for liberation. The Abhidhamma may be described as a philosophy because it proposes an ontology, a perspective on the nature of the real. This perspective has been designated the “dhamma theory” (dhammavada)….

      “Such a conception of the nature of the real seems to be already implicit in the Sutta Pitaka, particularly in the Buddha’s disquisitions on the aggregates, sense bases, elements, dependent arising, etc., but it remains there tacitly in the background as the underpinning to the more pragmatically formulated teachings of the Suttas.”

      In the introduction the two scholars also discuss the differences between the suttas and the Abhidhamma, reassuring us that there is no conflict to be found. One of the major differences is in method:

      “The discourses contained in the Sutta Pitaka were expounded by the Buddha under diverse circumstances to listeners with very different capacities for comprehension. They are primarily pedagogical in intent, set forth in the way that will be most effective in guiding the listener in the practice of the teaching and in arriving at a penetration of its truth. To achieve this end the Buddha freely employs the didactic means required to make the doctrine intelligible to his listeners. He uses simile and metaphor; he exhorts, advises, and inspires; he sizes up the inclinations and aptitudes of his audience and adjusts the presentation of the teaching so that it will awaken a positive response. For this reason the Suttanta method of teaching is described as pariyaya-dhammadesana, the figurative or embellished discourse on the Dhamma.

      “In contrast to the Suttas, the Abhidhamma Pitaka is intended to divulge as starkly and directly as possible the totalistic system that underlies the Suttanta expositions and upon which the individual discourses draw. The Abhidhamma takes no account of the personal inclinations and cognitive capacities of the listeners; it makes no concessions to particular pragmatic requirements. It reveals the architectonics of actuality in an abstract, formalistic manner utterly devoid of literary embellishments and pedagogical expedients. Thus the Abhidhamma method is described as the nippariyaya-dhammadesana, the literal or unembellished discourse on the Dhamma.”

      “The last novel feature of the Abhidhamma method to be noted here–contributed by the final book of the Pitaka, the Patthana–is a set of twenty-four conditional relations laid down for the purpose of showing how the ultimate realities are welded into orderly processes. This scheme of conditions supplies the necessary complement to the analytical approach that dominates the earlier books of the Abhidhamma. The method of analysis proceeds by dissecting apparent wholes into their component parts, thereby exposing their voidness of any indivisible core that might qualify as self or substance. The synthetic method plots the conditional relations of the bare phenomena obtained by analysis to show that they are not isolated self-contained units but nodes in a vast multi-layered web of inter-related, inter-dependent events. Taken in conjunction, the analytical method of the earlier treatises of the Abhidhamma Pitaka and the synthetic method of the Patthana establish the essential unity of the twin philosophical principles of Buddhism, non-self or egolessness (anatta) and dependent arising or conditionality (paticca samuppada). Thus the foundation of the Abhidhamma methodology remains in perfect harmony with the insights that lie at the heart of the entire Dhamma.”

      According to the Great Commentary (maha-atthakatha) quoted by Acariya Buddhaghosa, “What is known as Abhidhamma is not the province nor the sphere of a disciple; it is the province, the sphere of the Buddhas.”

      Without making any claim to understanding the Abhidhamma, realizing indeed that it may not be accessible to all, that is no reason to deny its legitimacy, importance, or value.

      As for the Sekiya rules, who would disagree that circumstances dictate taking the podium below one’s students to teach in a university lecture hall? Being aware that it is not a perfect situation is a good thing, is it not? Holding the Dhamma higher than math or science or philosophy 101, of course, the teacher must adapt to the situation because not teaching would be unkind, a pity. But the principle holds, doesn’t it, that unless the person is ill, the teacher should be elevated, out of respect to the Dhamma, even if the listener is a king? And all the rules of deportment about wearing robes, walking and sitting politely, and eating properly, who could object? So you mean they should be taught and followed, right?

      You wrote: “To be specific – and this is what I was referring to in my previous post – if you can kill someone purely with an act of mind – and there are those who would say that you can – then this would not constitute parajika offence, since according to Cv IV 14.6 no offence can ever be committed purely by mental means. So there you are: you are a monk (or nun) and you have killed someone, but there is no offence. Of course, this doesn’t mean you haven’t done anything wrong, and I would say you deserve a parajika just as much as any other monastic murderer. But technically you have escaped the offence.”

      I am totally confused by your example of murder by purely mental means. Are you talking about voodoo? Even Voodoo uses potions, dolls, pins, nail clippings, etc. Even Devadatta had to resort to archers, a boulder, and an intoxicated elephant when he tried to kill the Buddha. Please clarify what you mean. I have never heard of anyone killing someone else, producing an actual murdered corpse, merely using mind power.

      Perhaps like other western monks, you seem very hard on the Abhidhamma, very hard on Vinaya. You seem to be saying that the Suttas are all we need. When you wrote: “If someone practises kindness and compassion consistently – ie, the Dhamma – then the Vinaya is virtually redundant. Only sincere practise of the Dhamma will make one progress on the path, not simply the keeping of rules.”

      You appear to be saying that the Dhamma can be reduced to the practice of “kindness and compassion consistently” so we don’t need anything else to make progress on the path. I don’t see how kindness and compassion can ever hope to accomplish that or to replace Vinaya. Isn’t the road to hell paved with good intentions, kindness and compassion?

    • Hi Visakha,

      Just to note that Bhikkhu Bodhi has himself been on a trajectory of change in his perspective on Dhamma. In the seventies and eighties he was known as a conservative propenent of the classical Theravada. During this period, it seems he felt that modern Buddhism was overly critical of the classical tradition, and stood to gain much by learning from it, rather than simply dismissing it out of hand.

      From, say, the mid to late nineties onwards, he began to take a more independent stance. The Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, which was first published in 1993, is, as he states in the introduction, a presentation of the classical Theravadin position from an insiders’ perspective.

      This shifting perspective can be seen in his footnotes: in the ‘Middle Length Discourses’ he almost solely restricted himself to paraphrasing the commentary. In the later published ‘Connected Discourses’, he adopts a much more independant and critical stand towards the commentaries. From that time, also, he has become much more aware of the importance of studying the correspondences between the Pali and Chinese Agamas.

      These days, Ven Bodhi does not see himself as a classical ‘Theravadin’ in a doctrinal sense. Rather, he sees himself as a student of the Dhamma who is trying his best to understand and practice Dhamma in our contemporary age. As such, he has expressed an affinity with Master Yin Shun, the late Taiwanese Dhamma master.

    • If I may chime in, Bhikkhu Bodhi’s end-notes to the SN have taken potshots even at “path moment”, one of those beloved Abhidhammic Commentarial innovations that rewrote the Suttanta definition of Samma Samadhi.

      Sigh, when will someone ever get down to translating Ven Yinshun’s opus magnum? I understand you caught up with Ven Huifeng recently. Did he have any updates on the state of research at the Chinese side on the correspondence between the Agamas and Nikayas?

    • We did discuss briefly, but not in depth enough. he was quite positive, though, on the ongoing influence of Yin Shun’s writings on the contemporary Taiwanese Buddhsit scene.

    • Dear Visakha

      I’m no student of the Abidhamma and I’ve only recently started reading the original suttas, but the introduction that you quote makes it sound like a bunch of scholars going “well, yeah, we know what the Buddha is supposed to have said, but we know what he actually MEANT, and here it is”.

      When I see phrases like “reveals the architectonics of actuality in an abstract, formalistic manner” I want to go and meditate and actually see the “architectonics of actuality” as they occur, then there’s no need for abstract formalism. As far as I have seen the Buddha always avoided getting sucked into ontological and philosophical questions and focussed on practice. I’m sure if he had thought it would have been useful to reveal the architectonics of actuality in an abstract, formalistic manner, in 45 years of teaching he would have done so.

      As for “the Buddha’s unimpeded omniscient knowledge” – where did the Buddha say that he was omniscient? Did he know I was going to write this?

      Perhaps I’m being harsh, and forgive me if I am, but I can’t see much attraction or use in the Abidhamma as laid out above. Is there something that I’m missing?



    • Ajahn Brahmali,

      “it is never enough to just follow the Vinaya in a legalistic fashion. One has to practise morality in its broadest sense, and the Vinaya is just there to guide you if you lose your way…

      “Such goodness is obviously not legislated at all in the Vinaya. Again, morality is a not just a matter of practising Vinaya.”

      Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu. Anumodana.

  49. Now that we have settled our difference — there are some who disprove jokes told by monks and there are others who do enjoy them — is it time to resume our posting of ‘Bhuddhist jokes’?

    A gift of laughter or even a slight smile exceeds a gift of Starbucks.

    From a Buddhist Starbucks lover

    • Ah Sister Dee,
      Perhaps we ought to consider raising funds for Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis by collecting and selling the rights to the jokes to Starbucks – they can print them onto their latte cups and spread the Dhamma and proceeds go to the Sangha.
      (Hehe. What a nightmare it would be to organize all of that. Who would claim the rights to the jokes who would get the funds and all the bickering that would ensue. Hehe. Good grief.)

  50. Dear Visakha,

    You say: “Without making any claim to understanding the Abhidhamma, realizing indeed that it may not be accessible to all, that is no reason to deny its legitimacy, importance, or value.”

    My main point about the Abhidhamma is that it does not seem to be the literal word of the Buddha. So far as I can see the evidence for this is very strong.

    As Ven. Sujato and Sylvester point out, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi seems to have been taking a less conservative position in recent years. One case in point is the issue of bhikkhuni ordination. In his address to the conference on bhikkhuni ordination in Hamburg in 2007 he stated that: “During my years in Sri Lanka, I shared the traditional conservative Theravadin view about the prospects for bhikkhuni ordination. This was because the monks that I consulted on this issue were Vinaya conservatives.” Only when he started looking at the issue more carefully, did he see that the situation was far from cut and dried. This shows that even a Buddhist scholar as careful and accomplished as Ven. Bodhi is affected by cultural conditioning – indeed, nobody can be entirely free from this. But I respect Ven. Bodhi enormously for his open-mindedness and willingness to change his mind when that is demanded by evidence. This is an admirable attitude that I try to emulate. You may wish to contact Ven. Bodhi directly and ask him about his present opinion on this issue.

    You say: “As for the Sekhiya rules … you mean they should be taught and followed, right?”

    As I stated in my previous post, it is specifically stated in the Sekhiya rules that it is only an offense to break them if this is done out of disrespect. In my opinion, the implication of this is that any specific rule does not need to be followed if it does not make sense to do so in a particular society. So, yes, they should be taught and followed, in accordance with how they have been laid down.

    You say: “I am totally confused by your example of murder by purely mental means … Please clarify what you mean.”

    Please have a look at MN57 (The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, p.483, para.13): “Venerable Sir, such a recluse or brahmin possessed of supernormal power and attained to mastery of mind would be able to reduce ten, twenty, thirty, forty or even fifty Nalandas to ashes with one mental act of hate …” The context makes it clear that this is about killing.

    You say: “Perhaps like other western monks, you seem very hard on the Abhidhamma, very hard on Vinaya.”

    Almost all the Western monks I know are very committed to the Vinaya, including myself. But to me the Vinaya proper is what the Buddha laid down. In this I am only following the Buddha’s own advice.

    You say: “You appear to be saying that the Dhamma can be reduced to the practice of “kindness and compassion consistently” so we don’t need anything else to make progress on the path. I don’t see how kindness and compassion can ever hope to accomplish that or to replace Vinaya.”

    I am not saying that the Dhamma can be reduced to kindness and compassion but that sila almost can. Dhamma practice includes samadhi and wisdom, qualities that go far beyond sila. Vinaya falls within the scope of sila, but sila is much broader than Vinaya.

    Remember that the ethical quality of any act is defined first and foremost by the motivation behind it. If you act with a pure mind, you make good kamma; if you act with a defiled mind, you make bad kamma. As I understand it, this is the most basic and complete expression of morality in the suttas. The Vinaya is mostly derived from this, but it is not – and can never be – a perfect substitute.

    With much metta.

  51. Thanks Ajahn Brahmali.

    It’s quite telling that the only 2 “official” Mahavihara statements about the provenance of the Abhidhamma are to be found in the Atthasalini and Dhammapada-atthakatha (and perhaps the Papañcasudani). (That being said, I still love the Dhammapada-atthakatha story, as it furnishes the basis for some of the most awesome iconography in devotional Buddhism a la Phra Leela)

    It’s even more telling that Ven Buddhaghosa devotes not inconsiderable time in the Atthasalini laying out the arguments and counters for tracing the Abhidhamma to the Buddha. The debate was much alive in the 5th century. In fact, I think that it was in the Sumangalavilasini that Ven Buddhaghosa made the odd but telling observation that the Digha reciters preferred to chuck the Abhidhamma material with the Khuddhaka material, evidence of their regard for the Abhidhamma.

    If you have the time, could you consider why the Abhidhamma’s definition of “phassa” differs from the suttanta definition, namely to treat it as a dhamma apart from the conjunction of ayatana, indriya and vinnana? This issue is related to the suttanta definition of “nama” including “phassa”. Yet Bhikkhu Bodhi’s intro to MN 9 takes the Abhidhammic definition of Nama-Rupa as not including vinnana, despite “phassa” being part of Nama. Might that stem from the Theravada abhorence of multiple cittas occupying the same space and time?

    That being said, even the Sarvastivadins (in the Vijnanakaya) reject multiplicity of cittas, so it may not just be a Theravada objection.

    Just asking, as I’m deciding between Ajahn Brahm’s grains of sands metaphor or Piya Tan’s sequential fruit salad presentation of Ajahn Brahm’s explanation of MN 43 of mano and the 5 indriyas.

    With metta


    • Here is Nanavira Thera’s discussion of phassa:

      “All normal experience is dual: there are present (i) one’s conscious six-based body (saviññánaka saláyatanika káya), and (ii) other phenomena (namely, whatever is not one’s body); and reflexion will show that, though both are objective in the experience, the aroma of subjectivity that attaches to the experience will naturally tend to be attributed to the body. In this way, phassa comes to be seen as contact between the conscious eye and forms — but mark that this is because contact is primarily between subject and object, and not between eye, forms, and eye-consciousness.”

    • Dear Sylvester,

      Thanks for providing the commentaries’ perspective on the Abhidhamma. As you say, the debate on the canonicity of the Abhidhamma was alive even then, and it probably has never fully disappeared. The Abhidhamma is so different from the Suttas that some people would surely always be bound to question whether they have the same author.

      Over to ‘phassa’. According to the Abhidhamma both phassa and vinnana, as well as a number of other mental phenomena such as vedana, sanna and cetana, are present in every moment of experience. (Phassa is a so-called universal cetasika, see A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma (CMA), Edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi, p.78). In other words, these dhammas are present at the same time, in the same citta. Given that this is the case, I don’t think there is a potential problem here “of multiple cittas occupying the same space and time”. (Have I understood your query correctly?)

      One might still ask, however, what exactly is this cetasika or dhamma called ‘phassa’. If it exists as a perceptible aspect of experience, then exactly how does it manifest? What aspect of our experience is to be regarded as ‘phassa’? I don’t know if this is ever answered in the Abhidhamma literature. (In fact, it seems to me that even the Abhidhamma definition of phassa does not give it any separate identity apart from that of other cetasikas coming together; see CMA p.78, where the ‘manifestation’ of phassa is defined as “the concurrence of consciousness, sense faculty, and object”. But you would need an Abhidhamma expert to give an authoritative answer to this problem.) But if there is no experiential way of identifying phassa, then how could it be listed as a separate cetasika? Since the sutta definition of phassa, as you point out, gives no hint that it is a separate aspect of experience, rather the contrary, then one may indeed wonder whether this is another case where the Abhidhamma diverges from the suttas.

      As to the reason why vinnana is not part of namarupa in the suttas (note that this is in the suttas, not the Abhidhamma; see MN9 or DN15), this could be because ‘knowing’ is experienced as the most basic of mental faculties. Whereas all experience constantly changes, and this is readily observable, the knowing can appear like a stable and continuous background. This is also why seeing the true nature of consciousness is one of the most profound insights you can have. So the point, then, of setting consciousness apart form other phenomena – specifically in dependent origination – is simply as an expository device to show that all phenomena are dependent on consciousness for their existence. If you remove consciousness – this most basic element of experience – then all other phenomena also must cease.

      Regarding the “grain of sand” metaphor and the “fruit salad presentation”, I think they should be taken together. (Ajahn Brahm uses both.) The purpose of the fruit salad simile is to point out that there are six classes of consciousness that are entirely different from each other. The grain of sand metaphor has the purpose of pointing out that each experience of a “fruit” is completely separate from the experience of any other fruit, in the same way that sand is discrete and not continuous. That is, just as there is always a gap – even if very small – between any two adjacent grains of sand, so too, there is no overlap at all between the consciousnesses of two different classes.

      I am afraid this is the best I can do. I hope it is helpful.

      With metta.

    • Dear Ajahn Brahmali

      I’m now suffering from Dhamma Indigestion, like a python who’s swallowed too much! Still, I hope that when I’ve given it enough time, the meal will be one that nourishes me in my journey.

      Many thanks and Sadhu! _/\_

  52. Sort of funny: Nalanda, the famed university in India (and Mahayana stronghold before their decline in the 11th century), named their library “Treasury of Truth”, which in Sanskrit is “Dharmagañja”.


  53. Hi Sylvester,

    Re: “Just asking, as I’m deciding between Ajahn Brahm’s grains of sands metaphor or Piya Tan’s sequential fruit salad presentation of Ajahn Brahm’s explanation of MN 43 of mano and the 5 indriyas.”

    I get a sense for the metaphors of what you are referring to, but am wondering if you could please expand on this, give us a short summary or point to links to Ajahn Brahm’s and Pi Tan’s articles (if they exist)?


    • Dear Linda

      Pls give me some time, as I’m still recovering from my driving lesson. Very harrowing for someone of my age to attempt…

      I might just want to make a small comment on the Sarvastivadin appeal to the mono-citta theory. That was actually in the Vijnanakaya, a Sarva Abhidharmic retort to the Thera’s Katavatthu rejection of the “sarvam asti” theory. I suspect the Vijnanakaya was trying to turn the tables on the Katavatthu, by citing the Theravadin mono-citta theory as a basis for disputing the Theravadin rejection of “sarvam asti”.

    • Dear Linda

      Here you go –

      1. Ajahn Brahm’s description of granular citta being described by the sand metaphor is at p.118 of his Happiness Through Meditation;

      2. Piya Tan’s explanation of Ajahn Brahm’s fruit salad simile (with graphics!) is here –

      Click to access 17.8a-Khandha-5-Vinnana-piya.pdf

      I just realised that Ajahn Brahm too used the fruit salad simile, in the same book. Reading it again, I’m not so sure now that Ajahn Brahm was proposing a poly-citta model.

    • Hi Sylvester,

      For now just a quick thanks for your reflections and also the links. I’m looking forward to reading the article by Piya Tan.

      Good luck with learning to drive!

  54. Hi Sylvester,

    Re: “Just asking, as I’m deciding between Ajahn Brahm’s grains of sands metaphor or Piya Tan’s sequential fruit salad presentation of Ajahn Brahm’s explanation of MN 43 of mano and the 5 indriyas.”

    I get a sense for the metaphors of what you are referring to, but am wondering if you could please expand on this, or point to links to Ajahn Brahm’s and Piya Tan’s articles (if they exist)?


  55. Dear Vens Brahm, Brahmali and Sujato

    Esp. Ven Brahmali

    With regard to the monks rules about going on ‘pindabat’ could you kindly offer your view.

    My question: Is the non-wearing of footwear on pindapat a Thai-bhikkhu peculiarity?
    I was attending a (farang) bhikkhu for a few weeks and couldn’t help but notice the punishment his feet took while we were on the alms round (while I wore sandals). Modern day asphalt and concrete in Thailand is generally heavily impregnated with all kinds of spillages (diesel, oil, rotten garbage etc etc) and I wondered if this ‘rule’ has ever been re-considered in the light of modern day toxic wastes?
    I do understand that many Thais would be aghast to see a bhikkhu on pindapat with footwear on, and would perhaps not want to offer food to such a monk.

    Just curious but I would like to know your thoughts on this topic.

    Barry H

    • Dear Barry Hoben,

      There is a rule (outside the Patimokkha, at Mv V 12) that imposes an offence (a dukkata) on a monk who enters a village (ie, an inhabited area) while wearing footwear. However, as with many rules in the Vinaya, there is an exemption in cases of illness. Illness is often defined very broadly, even to include discomfort. Moreover, prevention of illness would seem to fall within the scope of illness. So there is a lot of leeway with this rule. However, whether wearing footwear on pindapata would be culturally acceptable in Thailand under any circumstances is, as you imply, quite a different matter.

      With metta.

    • Poor Ajahn Sujato’s bloody soles. Instead of being told to “Let go, let go”, his instructors might have considered the dispensation given by the Buddha to Ven Sona in Mv V 13 –

      “I allow the use, in all the border countries, O Bhikkhus, of shoes with thick linings.”

      I’m sure Ajahn Sujato was not demanding for a pair of Prada, even if that’s a nice shoe with lovely thick lining…

      By the way Bhante, was “shoe” properly translated from the Pali by Rhys Davids & Oldenberg? In Mv V 2, there is a reference to “slippers”. Just wondering if it’s possible to make dana of laced footwear which completely cover the monk’s toes.

    • Ajahn Sujato wearing Prada!


      Thank you so much, Sylvester, for making me laugh (during one of the hardest times in our country’s history).


    • Hmmm…can’t work out what the last letters could stand for… Is it too impolite to say it ‘out loud’ here? Best not to perhaps if it is… 🙂 🙂

    • Likewise, I’m looking forward to meeting you too!

      I couldn’t resist the Prada jibe, not after remembering how Prada outfitted Pope Benedict in a pair of bright red ones soon after he took office.

      Speaking of red shoes, may the red shirts be filled with enough metta for themselves to give up this campaign and preserve their lives.

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts.

      I also wish that Goodness and Metta would finally win…

      Your ‘jibe’ about Ajahn Sujato and the Prada is really the funniest Buddhist joke on this thread!


    • There once was a monk who liked to walk meditation in his shoes…

      One day he wore them out completely.

      What did his friend say to him?

      ‘Ah see…no self, no sole!’

      Heh…heh… 😉

    • Hee hee… I’d look a sight wobbling about… Or can you get such things in flats?


    • Practice, dear, practice. The whole point about togging you out in Manalos is to incite kamacchanda in your male admirers. A “flat” Manalo is an oxymoron.

    • Male admirer not admirers – singular. I don’t want any more!!! 🙂 Heh heh…i’m guessing my husband would rather i didn’t make so much noise as i ‘practised’ walking up and down the hall way… eek!! what an awful thought!! 😉 though funny to think of trying to walk meditation in them…ha, ha, ha…:) 🙂 🙂 i think i wear heels once a year if that and it’ s thoroughly regretted before the night is out!! no defintely flats for me Sylvester! or maybe a nice comfy pair of wool lined ugg-boots…i’ve got a ‘shorter’ pair on as i write (tis a tad cold here atm) and would happily wear it everywhere if i could…work and all… heh, heh… you’ve heard of a ‘fashion-ista’? Well i’m a ‘fashion-illiterate’!!! 🙂 🙂 heh..heh…

  56. Hi Kanchana,

    I jut tried to post a reply to yours but it shows up on my screen as “awaiting moderation”. Not sure why, but hopefully it will go through. It happened recently once before and then a few days later, multiple copies went through (probably cause I tried to send it a couple of times, so I’ll just wait on this one. I seem to be having some technical problems posting.

    much meta to you

  57. I have been meditating on my friend’s life as a potential Buddhist Nun.
    The following monastic wisdom came to me and I feel touched to share it with the wider community of mirth:-

    I suppose the toughest job in a Buddhist Nuns’ convent is maintaining the Nuns’ old clothes?
    ….As old habits dye hard.

  58. Bhikkhu Brahmali :Dear Barry Hoben,
    There is a rule (outside the Patimokkha, at Mv V 12) that imposes an offence (a dukkata) on a monk who enters a village (ie, an inhabited area) while wearing footwear. However, as with many rules in the Vinaya, there is an exemption in cases of illness. Illness is often defined very broadly, even to include discomfort. Moreover, prevention of illness would seem to fall within the scope of illness. So there is a lot of leeway with this rule. However, whether wearing footwear on pindapata would be culturally acceptable in Thailand under any circumstances is, as you imply, quite a different matter.
    With metta.

    Apology for delay in replying but….Thank you Ven.

  59. I was compelled by some of the above comments arguing about various views within the Buddhist community to post a response.

    And so I have.

  60. Ah, you seem to have uncapped a geyser of creativity!

    It’s 2020 and the Canadian government decides to host a Buddhist conference in Nunavut as part of their initiative to demonstrate national presence in the north. They send a lama, a bhikku and a roshi to attend the conference.

    Somewhere along the way, their plane goes down and the three Buddhist teachers find themselves on a deserted island in Hudson’s Bay, somewhere on the muskeg. The three are miraculously alive, and hold a quick discussion about what to do. They decide to explore for an hour and then reconvene to share their discoveries.

    Upon their return, the lama immediately says: “I’m pretty used to the cold because of my powers in Inner Heat Yoga, but you two might find it a bit difficult. Fortunately, while wandering around, I found a polar bear’s cave. I made love with the polar bear, who is a manifestation of Palden Lhamo, and she gave us her blessing to share the cave. When our son is born, he will become a great teacher in forty years. In the meanwhile, we can be warm there.”

    The bhikku, who has been struggling to keep himself quiet, can’t hold back any longer: “Your story is preposterous, sir. It is an affront to the precepts! Furthermore, since according to the laws of dependent origination, this place is no different from any other, I have complete equanimity about our presence here. I have no need to be rescued and I certainly have no desire to share a cave with you and a polar bear. Our karma will evolve as it should. I performed my alms round and have returned with berries for us to eat.”

    The roshi, who has been listening to this exchange patiently, adds his perspective: “I’ve e-mailed my brother with our GPS coordinates and help will be here in a few hours. In the meanwhile, would you two like to watch Karate Kid with me on my iPhone?”

  61. Why did the Buddhist cross the lake?

    To get to the further shore.


    When pulled over by the traffic police and asked why he was walking slowly along the painted white lines of a busy highway, the Buddhist replied, “because this is the middle way.”


    Why did the Buddhist walk across the road?

    She hadn’t learned to levitate.


    Baked beans were offered every morning at breakfast during a Metta Retreat and the smells were starting to build up in the poorly ventilated Meditation Hall. Since nothing else had been offered for every breakfast of that 10 day retreat, the retreatants were asked to try cultivating Acceptance and Contentment by use of the following mantra ‘may we all smell; may we all be gassy!’ On the 9th morning, somebody finally cracked. Getting up from her cushion, she ran out yelling, ‘may old beans be happy! May old beans be happy!’


    With apologies… :))

  62. “Du-u-de!” said Frankie to Sully, “I think that is just – like – just – so-oo deluded, man!”

    “Yeah, dunno man,” replied Sully, “like – like you know – I just can’t see it man…”

  63. So a Buddhist monk walks into the dentists office for a root canal and says “Doc, I’d like you to do this without Novocaine”. The dentist replies “Why on earth would you want to do that?” As the monk replies “Because I want to transcend dental medication.”

  64. Q. If Bhumblebhees decided to leave the Hive to live the Holy Life,
    Who would teach them the Dhamma?

    A. Why, a BheeQhueenie, of course!


  65. Meditation student: If I’m open-minded, won’t my brains fall out?

    Teacher: No, just keep your mouth shut at the same time.


    2 women were talking in a hair salon.
    One asks: “so is your lazy son still out of work? What’s he up to these days?”
    the lady replies: “he’s still at home but at least now he’s taken up meditation”
    “meditation? what’s that?”
    “I don’t know but it’s better than sitting at home and doing nothing”

    • Crossing the river
      Prince Gautama who had become Buddha saw one of his followers meditating under a tree at the edge of the Ganges river. Upon inquiring why he was meditating, his follower stated he was attempting to become so enlightened he could cross the river unaided. Buddha gave him a few pennies and said: “Why don’t you seek passage with that boatman. It is much easier.”

    • Many Zen teachers, in their pride, vainly boast that they know nothing,
      but it is I alone who have truly succeeded in achieving total ignorance….

  66. Nammo Buddhaya, Bhante Sujato & other friends 🙂

    I’m not good at making joke so I have nothing to share 🙂
    but I would like to invite people here to join a website that I just made called iBuddhist.org
    it’s a social networking site for Buddhists & people who are interested in Buddhism.

  67. I don’t understand why Buddhists spend so much time meditating to acquire good karma when they can buy it from Kraft for a dollar a pound.

  68. Hi I just spent a couple of hours following this thread. Just couldn’t put it down…too hot.. too cool? Thanks to you all for the sense of fun you share and also a running revelation of how hard it is not to take our non existent selves and their fictitiously appended views too seriously. What I took away liking it best of all wasn’t from anyone knowing himself to be a Buddhist:

    Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
    ~ Mark Twain

    That should carry us all, big vehicle or small, to that special moment when we don’t breathe in.

    Peace and gratittude for all the glints of Dharma here.

  69. Buddhists quickly developed a surprisingly modern style of comedy, featuring the excessively self-deprecating style that many people think was created by New York stand-ups or Monty Python’s Yorkshiremen sketch.

    Check out the brilliant “my life sucks” contest that two famous Buddhist scholars, Chao-chou and Wen-yuan, had in 800 AD (I did not make this up).

    Chao-chou: “I am nothing but a donkey.”

    Wen-yuan:“A donkey? You’re SO lucky. I am merely a donkey’s buttocks.”

    Chao-chou: “Actually, I dream that I could one day be a donkey’s buttocks. At the moment, I am what comes out of the donkey’s buttocks.”

    Wen-yuan: “You’re privileged. I’d give anything to be what comes out of donkey’s buttocks. For I am but a worm living in what comes out of a donkey’s buttocks. And do you know why I’m there?”

    Chao-chou: “Why?”

    Wen-yuan: “Because I wanted to go somewhere special for my summer holidays.”

    With this line, Wen-yuan won the competition.


    From the website The curious diary of mr Jam – ten funniest buddhist jokes (supposedly)

  70. A seeker walked miles to find the guru in the heart of the rainforest. “Master, what is life all about?” The guru paused in deep samadhi before answering, “Life is like fountain.” Repeating the answer eagerly, the seeker asked, “Life is like a fountain??” The guru looked anxious and blurted out, “You mean life ISN’T like a fountain??!”

  71. The Dalai Lama, visiting New York, stopped at a street cart for a hot dog. When the vendor asked what he wanted, the DL smiled benignly and said, “One with everything.” The vendor handed the DL the hot dog, took the DL’s proffered twenty-dollar bill, then proceeded to serve another customer. Perplexed, the DL asked, “What about change?” The vendor smiled benignly and responded, “Change comes from within.”

  72. Goodness me – I bet you didn’t expect such a debate about the value of humour when you posted a cheerful, lighthearted message asking for Buddhist jokes, Ajahn Sujato! Keep smiling and laughing 🙂

  73. Oh, and a joke…. if your wife/husband/child/parent tells you you’re wrong and you don’t hear them, are you still wrong?

  74. A friendly neighbour sells poison as rare

    and wht is their payment?

    water for cleansing and fire for the wrong rare

  75. Once upon a time, there were some birds chattering on some tree branches;

    One said,
    i hear there’s a god aspiring for a global friend seat so then there’s the getting together of the other gods to decide and finally make the decision to give the ship.
    One said,
    Now i hear tht god’s country retrieved its soldiers, arms and slaughter their own cow and sheep at home.
    One said,
    Now there’s rumours going there’s thots of decadence to repeat.
    All said,
    OH OH

    Farmers laments; rot rot my peaches are rotting

    The ants below then ask why not ship the peaches instead of rats to friends in need?

    before the birds can reply, a hunter came to shoot the birds. Fortunately, the ants bit the hunter to allow time for the birds to fly away.

    So the birds flew and turn into a butterfly away.

    And wht happens to the god with the ship?

    Ssss ???

  76. Thus have i heard,

    Once upon a time there were two great beings that received different treatments …

    One was persecuted by its own people

    One was honored by those he came into contact

    One similarity in both – their followers still tries to joke in the midst of the horror tht they see and know the cause …


  77. Sadhu!

    Subrahma deva

    Subrahma deva was not a very sophisticated god; he delighted in sensuality, like many other devas of the sensuous sphere. He had been playing in sport with his thousand nymphs when half of them suddenly vanished. Subrahma used his deva vision to find where they had gone and he saw that they had died and been reborn in a hell realm. Anxious that he and his remaining nymphs might soon suffer the same fate, he came to the Buddha looking for a way to end his fear:

    “Always frightened is this mind,
    The mind is always agitated
    About problems not yet arisen
    And about those that have appeared.
    If there exists release from fear,
    Being asked, please explain it to me.”

    The Buddha does not offer simplistic short-term solutions to the suffering beings go through when their loved ones die; he did not console the deva. Instead, he told Subrahma that only by developing wholesome mental states through meditation and by giving up all attachments can anyone find security:

    “Not apart from enlightenment and austerity,
    Not apart from sense restraint,
    Not apart from relinquishing all,
    Do I see any safety for living beings.” (KS I, 77; SN 2:17)

    The deva and his remaining nymphs apparently comprehended these words, as the commentary says that at the end of this discourse they all became stream-enterers.


    kho nu haso kim anando!
    Dph 146



  78. A Zen Master had gathered all his disciples in a room teaching them. Suddenly a heavenly being appeared next to the Master and all were in awe!
    The heavenly being said “Zen Master, for your continuous efforts and dedicated service, God has decided to grant you one boon. Chose one of the following: 1) infinite wisdom, 2) infinite beauty, 3) infinite money.”
    The Zen Master said “infinite wisdom, of course!”
    “And so it shall be done” said the Heavenly being as he clicked his fingers and vanished.
    The Master was sitting quietly for a long time. The disciples were getting restless with anticipation.
    Finally, one of the disciples couldn’t take it any longer and shouted “Master! Please, please tell us something with your infinite wisdom!”
    And the Zen Master said “I should have taken the money!”


  79. a Buddhist puzzle

    the would-be monk
    (fervent, eager, so into-it)
    came knocking at the
    Buddhist monastery
    but no one answered

    the would-be monk
    saw a sign
    there in the shadows
    that read:
    “inquire within”

    the would-be monk
    went away immediately

  80. four monks meditating

    the four monks are out in the open
    the prayer flags are flapping

    “The flags are flapping,”
    hums the first monk

    “The wind is there,”
    intones the second

    “It is the mind
    that is flapping,”
    observes the third

    “Mouths are flapping
    is all what I see and hear,”
    says the last

    the frog in the grass
    is silent

  81. six blind elephants

    six blind elephants
    disagreed over what a human is;
    and they concluded
    they’d have a direct experience
    to decide the matter

    and so the first elephant
    felt a human and declared:
    “A human is flat”

    And each other elephant
    through its own direct experience
    concurred on the lack of human dimensions

    And so there was an end to the discord

  82. so where’s my change?

    the Wise Man is followed
    by many, from near and from afar;
    and see, the Wise Man stops now
    at the dumplings store
    and buys some dumplings
    and waits for his change;
    but the vendor simply resumes
    at making more money

    “So where’s my change,
    my good man?” says the Wise Man
    who is followed
    by many, from near and from afar

    And the vendor he replies:
    “Change, O Wise Leader of Many Followers,
    as you have often said,
    comes from within”

  83. eat, yawn and sleep

    the novices are comparing notes
    proud of their teachers
    (for if you boast of your Teacher
    you make yourself look good)

    “My teacher can go without food
    for days at will,” says Owl at Lake

    “My teacher is so elegant
    he never yawns,” says Silk Robe

    “My teacher is even better,” says Energy Jump,
    “for he can go days without food, water and sleep”

    “My teacher,” says Lazy Mumble,
    “I reckon has to be the best
    for he eats when he has to,
    drinks when he must
    and yawns as much as he wants to
    and sleeps when it ‘s time”

  84. whinger

    I agreed in my youth
    to spend
    my time
    in a monastery
    speaking only once
    each ten years

    Ten years, and my Master
    summoned me
    and I said: “My bed is hard”

    I had spoken
    and I was back on my next ten
    at the end of which I intoned:
    “The food here is horrid”

    I was on my next cycle
    of ten years
    and at the end of the third decade
    I declared: “I quit!”

    And my revered Master proclaimed:
    “Go, you loser.
    All you have done is to whinge.”

  85. storm in a teacup

    Ikkyu dropped
    his Grand Master’s teacup –
    the cup broke into pieces
    And Ikkyu’s jaws dropped
    Would the Grand Master now break
    a thing or two of Ikkyu’s body parts?

    “O Master,” says Ikkyu
    when the Grand Master arrives
    “I am contemplating Death;
    please enlighten me on Death”

    “All things pass, O Ikkyu,”
    answers the Grand Master
    “Death is inevitable
    And only the foolish mourn
    or are swayed by emotion –
    the wise know
    Death is in the nature of all things”

    “Indeed, O Wise Master,” replies Ikkyu
    “It is no wonder then that your teacup
    passed away today, as you can see here –
    and you, O Grand Master,
    have most wisely expounded on the matter”

    The Grand Master loses his Grand look

    “Ikkyū (一休宗純 Ikkyū Sōjun?, 1394–1481) (self-named: “Crazy Cloud”) was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet. He had a great impact on the infusion of Japanese art and literature with Zen attitudes and ideals.” – note on Ikkyu from wikipedia

  86. If you have ice cream, I will give you ice cream.
    If you have no ice cream, I will take your ice cream away!

    Get it? It’s an ice cream koan.

  87. 🙂 … the sea batters the …??? whilst the donkeys replace the dingoes to protect the lamps to the sound of the dougs tht continues to howl its innocence …???

  88. 🙂
    washing machine launders clothes…
    some religions launders the so called original sin
    pray tell
    wht is called receiving money from illegal corrupt sources as dana
    and recycled towards charity whilst a portion kept as profit by tht source …???

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