And what a ride it’s been!
I started this blog less than 9 months ago, soon after the WA bhikkhuni ordination. It filled a need that I had felt, for a way of communicating that was more direct and contemporary. And it seems to have filled a need for others, too: 226 000 views, and nearly 6000 comments.
Through this, I’ve been able to connect and share in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. I’m a writer: I guess I always have been one at heart. The blog format offers what is, for me, a great combo of directness and substance. I can say things of meaning, and include serious analysis, but there’s always room for some lightness of heart, too.
But the truly astonishing thing has been you lot. My goodness, what a lot of words! True to its origins, the most vital and stimulating topics have consistently been those on bhikkhuni ordination. This, for me, is a sign; a sign that we have tapped into a deep shared need. So much has been deeply heart-felt. I’ve been surprised, moved, delighted – and yes, more than occasionally annoyed – to find what is in your hearts expressed here so well.
I have this feeling, this image in my mind, like Odysseus on his journey home. After ten years at war, it took another ten years to cross the few hundred miles of ocean back to Ithaca and his beloved. He lost everything: his ships, his men, his treasure; and was adrift on the wide ocean, clinging to a bit of driftwood in a mighty storm. He is cast upon the beach, and makes his way, finally, to his home. Only to find that his halls are overrun with usurpers. That moment, which he had yearned for for so long, turned out to be his greatest challenge.
This is how I feel about my life with the WPP tradition. I was lost, and they gave me a home, gave me a direction. In the world so messed up and confusing, they recognized my pain, and offered a way out. My life owes so much to them that I can never express it. And yet – and yet! – there is still this. It is as if I have been gradually waking up these past ten years or so, coming out of a self-induced dream.
I cannot blame anyone else for my own dreams. But the reality is so much colder, so much harder, that I do not wonder why so many of us prefer not to wake up.
We dream of a truth, of something untouched and pure. In our hearts we long for a safe harbor, for certainty and protection. And we yearn for this so deeply that we give up our all. We hand our hearts over in trust. It is so rare, so precious! So few of us even have the chance to dream, still fewer to realize our dreams. We give up all and move on; and we imagine that our chosen ones feel for us what we feel for them. That our dreaming and their dreaming is one and the same. And we forget, we pass over, the many little details that should be teaching us that the ocean is not just soft breezes and caressing waves, but also has treacherous reefs and sharp teeth.
Nothing can be undone; the choices we have made, we must live with. We are in that most human of dilemmas, hearts undone and confused, just wanting something so simple: the truth that frees.
That truth is not outside. It does not lie with any tradition. Those in whom we seek a refuge, the ‘masters’ of the spirit; they too are human, all too human. Can we be brave enough to admit this to ourselves? To acknowledge that the sacred Dhamma is under the custodianship of a Sangha made of human beings, like ourselves, full of pain and heartbreak?
Then is another choice. To give up, submit to the waves; let the waters close over our heads.
Or to learn to swim. To kick. To struggle. And most important of all: to hold out a helping hand. To forgive, and to love, with a love that knows the folly and the blindness. To recognize that we are the masters; that we hold the Dhamma pure and pristine in our own hearts; that, if we stay true that little guiding star, we need not seek refuge, but can offer it.
I give my great thanks to all my friends on this blog, especially those with the courage to disagree with me. You are all my teachers. I’m going away for a while now. We’re entering our three month vassa retreat, and I won’t be attending to this blog in this time. The comments will stay open, and I hope the discussion continues. The vassa ends October 23 – almost exactly a year after the bhikkhuni ordination. I’ll be back then.
Until then, don’t forget. Stay true.
191 thoughts on “The Last Post (for a while…)”
Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu… Thank you Bhante for these inspiring words.
Best wishes on vassa.
Bhante Sujato, I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and sincere thanks for your untiring effort in giving us this blog and most importantly to clear our doubts on the Dhamma and served as an eye- opener into the real human nature. Please look at it as a blessing in disguise for I am sure your blog has in many ways enlightened many directly or indirectly, in not informative. There’s a silver lining in every dark cloud. I think, the differences are due to we are all made of different khammas, die and born every second and due to cosmic imbalance. Patience is the greatest virtue.
Bhante, you have done so much for the sake of the Dhamma and Sassana and you will reap the fruits for sure in future, like the sayings, Do your best and leave the rest. Wish you lots of protection , happiness and lots of blessings in your Noble Path. I would like to quote from the Dhp:
“The others know not that in this quarrel we perish; those of them who realize it, have their quarrels calmed thereby.”
” Bhikkus, be a lamp unto yourselves, be a refuge unto yourselves, with no other refuge. Let the Dhamma be your lamp, let the Dhamma be your refuge, with no other refuge.” – DN. 26
Typing error again,apology.
..I am sure your blog has in many ways enlightened many directly or indirectly, in not informative.
…I am sure your blog has in many ways enlightened many directly or indirectly, IF NOT, informative.
Dear Bhante Sujato
I have been on my own journey for the last 12 months and your blog has been a welcome companion for the last 9.
I relate strongly with the story of Odysseus,and the struggle for truth and “solid ground” under our feet.
I am learning that their is no “solid ground”under my feet the only “solid” that I can see is Truth itself and finding and nurturing the courage to seek the truth. In my search I have not really trusted organizations as in my opinion they are inherently flawed I think this is a feeling accumulated over many lifetimes.
Having said that every now and then I come across and individually who is a wholesome pointer of they way to the truth and that is you, so thank you for this wonderful blog and I look forward to your return
Enjoy your retreat Bhante Sujato !
One thing for sure…if not for this blog, most would have supported the view that the bhikkhuni ordinations were wrong, immoral and not in keeping with the vinaya. Some women would have subscribed to the view that they have to be reborn as a man even to contemplate taking up the spiritual path while the majority would have slowly drifted away from Buddha dhamma.
Bhante Sujato, you have helped unchain hearts and minds of many people.
May you be well and happy.
Sob, sob. I can feel the withdrawal symptoms already.
Attachments, attachments … . What is it in us that grasps so …?
‘O Fireflies, weep not:
lovers, stars themselves,
must part’ (Issa)
Dear Bhante Sujato
Very best wishes for your 3 month vassa retreat. I will miss your posts with their eloquent and insightful comments.
The Theravadin bhikkhuni issue has taught me one thing; that organized religion has a serious downside with entrenched interests unwilling to consider or make changes under various pretexts, fair or foul. Power really intoxicates and there’s no need for alcohol to bring that about.
What I find so refreshing in your writing are the open mindedness, egalitarian and social justice aspects that are so often ignored as if they are not essential for dharma practice. Religions don’t develop in a vacuum and to be relevant they have to be accepted in the contemporary social and cultural milieu of the place. Buddhism is no exception.
I wish that there are more broad minded monastics like you unafraid to speak out. Please keep blogging after the rains retreat.
It took me a little time to get used to your forthright style….with respect, you seem to me like the grit in the oyster…. but then we all know what grit in an oyster can produce.
You have challenged a lot of my comfortable assumptions about modern sangha behaviour. It’s never pleasant to have uncomfortable truths revealed – but it has to happen if we are to find something we can rely on.
I respect your commitment to practicing according to what the Buddha taught – that to me is the soundest foundation of all. May we all refine our understanding of his message so that we can live and practice as he intended.
I wish you a very pleasant retreat.
beautifully put – sail on safely ajahn – may the jewel of dhamma shine on in all our hearts – And thank you for your authentic and fearless inquiry. Here’s to a peaceful vassa… cheers bhante!
Sail on – our dreams are on their way…
Wish you an insightful and peaceful Vassa!
Stay true . yes wise and encouraging words. I never met you bhante but i am so grateful for your voice in the wilderness. I disrobed after 11 years with Aj. Sumedho-as powerful as his teaching was , the nuns issues were as painful. Your brave voice has been a source of much-needed sanity in this crazy-making debate. I wish you a peaceful and insightful vassa, With respect…
Good, now maybe I can get some work done around here! 😉
Have a fantastic retreat! Your voice will be missed.
And please let us know where we can get the pdf of Swift Pair of Messengers so it can be read offline!
Ajahn Sujato, wish you an insighful and peaceful retreat.
Great talk on ‘devotion’ by Ajahn Brahm
[audio src="http://media.bswa.org/mp3/Brahmavamso_2010_07_30.mp3" /]
Bhante, your blog pages are excellent, and display a rare willingness on your part to discuss uncertainty, ‘heretical’ and challenging views; much of which surely reflects what we are thinking.
Love and Light,
Hi Dania, Ajaan Brahm touched on supernatural power he had out of his devotion with understanding that caused the rain to stop only in Perth but not other areas outside Perth. If that was the case, it implied that the other monasteries or Abbots were not as virteuos as to have this miracle? I think this sort of power comes from the Devas or Deities who also honour the Buddha’s Birth,Enlightenment & Parinibbana (significance of Vesak Day). If I am not mistaken, some powerful Devas can create rain and if they can create they can also stop rain as mentioned in some Suttas I read (cannot remember now which Sutta). It is also strange happened in other places, where the rain would stop just before a procession ceremony during Vesak nite, each year. It would rain before the ceremony and just before the time to start the procession, the rain would stop and the atmosphere would become fresh and spiritual for the procession. It happens like this each Vesak. Strange but true. However, no monks here ever said that it was because of their supernatural power but that the Devas are compassionate to us. What about your Vesak day? Any same experience or phenomena?
Hi Lee-Ann, did you listen to the whole talk? 🙂
The reason why I wanted to share it with others was because the main theme was devotion to the practice and fruits of the practice (ex: peace, kindness etc) rather than following like sheep in blind rituals. Also that nice ability to question and investigate:) Don’t get caught up with a few little minutes of the talk of things that aren’t really essential to the path:) Who cares about whether it rains or not, it seemed that it was just a little ‘filler’ story:) kinda like a commercial break in between Dhamma teachings 🙂
Dania,sorry for not responding earlier to you as my internet network was down. Frankly, I have no comments on this area that I am not familiar with.
On the below YouTube link, AB said he was banned from the UN Vesak 2010 because he ordained Bhikkhunis in Perth. Is this true? Does WPP has anything to do with organizing UN Vesak? If not, this is just his assumption or a blatant non-truth or is it his own frustrations? Is this not an attempt to incite hatred towards Thailand Sangha, UN or WPP? Can monks with 227 precepts do that?
What about these videos on Buddhism and Christianity?
What are your comments?
This is what i think and what i have observed and known over the years in seeking the Truth and trying to understand the Dhamma taught by our SammaSamBuddha (as we know we have many types of Buddha eg PacekkaBuddha etc).
The problem nowadays with us is the misleading understanding that when we practice meditation to the level that we see light, nimittas and beyond, bliss, ability to levitate, have supernatural powers to do other things, we are led to believe that we are enlightened and we are an Arhat and we have won the battle of uprooted our kilesas and we are always right.
Let us study the life of our Sammasambuddha. Buddha was able to get his enlightenment with 4th Jhanas and taught for 45 years with his kilesas already uprooted prior to HIS 4th Jhanas. When Buddha was a small boy at 10 he knew how to enter into 2nd Jhana. This showed Buddha had practiced Jhanas before this life(later when He was enlightened HE said HE was a monk under Buddha Kassapa). Buddha was a Bodhisattva before his life as Siddharta (In Dhammapada,he threw himself into the tiger’s den to provide as food for those hungry cubs out of his boundless compassion – please do not attempt this as we are not Bodhisattva yet).HE was born into a very comfortable protected family but HE was not tempted to all his luxuries and sensuality. Finally, the 4 sights triggered the calling to renounce and he was also not at all tempted or impressed with all those psychic powers that his Jhana teachers were practicing during His 6 years of searching for the Truth to end sufferings & the right meditation to achieve that(that was how Buddha also knew about psychic power and He did perform them to get people to know the Dhamma with pure noble intentions to teach the Dhamma and not to show off, boast or become arrogant). Before Buddha was born as Siddharta, He was born in Tusita Heaven as that is the realm for Bodhisattvas or those who are contented and with the 10 wholesome actions, virtue and wisdom. Buddha had already all these noble pure unselfish compassionate qualities (paramis)before He was born as Siddharta. So, my point here is, how many of us possess these qualities to be able to attain what Buddha attained? If we are still tempted to sensuality, desires,greed, ill-will,jealousy,anger, envious, unsatisfactoriness, irritation,agitations,unwholesome thoughts,speech & actions, egoistic, arrogant, then we need to purify them first before qualified to board the boat of Jhana (Buddha has give us 40 over methods of meditation to do that).
From observation, those who practiced Jhanas with all these kilesas not uprooted are like a simile of a pot (akin to one pointedness or samadhi) weighing down the grass (kilesas)with the roots still there and when the conditions are right these roots will surface and grow again, once the pot is removed. That explained why some monks after attaining Jhanas became defiled again once they come into contact again in the world and contact with lay people’s problems and teaching Dhamma to lay people and be caught again into the mundane world. All the 6 sense consciousness (as citta never dies)come bouncing back as the roots of kilesas have not been uprooted and their minds are now overpowered by those roots that have over-grown back into grasses (the suppressed hidden kilesas),so to speak. Problems arised again as their wisdom are distorted and concepts are taken as Truth perceived through still uncleaned lens. These monks/nuns should then teach directly from the Suttas or the Dhamma expounded by the Sammasambuddha and not teach with still defiled minds,unlike if one is already an Arhat with undefiled minds (no more roots of kilesas in their minds and the grass cannot grow back in their minds ever again) and not change the Dhamma to suit their still present kilesas. That is why we have so many disputes and problems in Buddhism. We should practise Buddhism gradually and not trying to attain enlightenment this life if we know we do not possess the noble qualities yet. If a Prince is not interested in sensuality and said he wanted to renounce , then he may have the quality of an Arhat or a famous rich golfer does not like adultery, then he may be easily become an Arhat with the right opportunity.As Buddhists we should not be impressed with those who know psychic powers but with those who have no more kilesas as what Buddha said, one can conquer many battles in war and still have not won but highly praised the one who can conquer himself/herself.
I wish to share my humble thoughts in the hope to put Buddhism especially the noble method of meditation in the right light and on the right track /perpective since Buddhism is still a very young religion although it has been around for 2500 years now and even younger in the West. If I am not mistaken, the Buddha was asked about miracles and the Buddha said “the only miracle is education” and I remember one noble Sri Lankan monk was asked “what is education” and he said “it is how to behave”. I think he meant, we can possess the highest academic education but still do not know how to behave i.e like killing,wars,get drunk, crimes,violence,social ills etc. oppose to how to behave (morally or conscientiously).
The right noble method of meditation needs to be ironed out as many thought that the purpose of meditation is to attain psychic power and I don’t think this is what the Buddha taught and wanted his monks disciples to attain, as it does not lead to ending sufferings and ultimately end rebirth in Samsara, let alone teaching this to lay people.
I have heard from an audio CD that a western monk was conducting a week long meditation retreat in a non-western country in 2004 and taught the lay participants how to meditate to have Peace and to have Psychic Power. Wondering if this is the right teaching of the Buddha? We know there are many methods of meditation, but is this type of method practical,relevant, beneficial or noble to lay Buddhists and what kind of impression it would give to non-Buddhists?
I strongly believe that if monks/nuns do not teach from the holy Suttas (2 sets of teaching i.e one for monks/nuns and one for lay Buddhists), then it is not Buddhism & Buddha’s Method of Meditation, but the so called Teacher’s Method or a Cult group.
Not trying to be bieas but to me is the truth, I find that the Sri Lankan monks/nuns always refer to and teach from the Suttas when they teach the dhamma and retreat and most of them are scholars, if not, have studied enought of the Suttas before they give dhamma talks or teach the lay Buddhists.
I hope to suggest that the Sangha should have a kind of a System in their respective Traditions to ensure that they are proficient in the Suttas first before giving Dhamma talks or conduct meditation retreats, as the Buddha said our Teacher is the Dhamma-Vinaya (i.e the Suttas now). There is only one Teaching i.e. the Buddha’s Dhamma.
Since Buddhism is now very popular around the world, is it now time to regulate the Dhamma to restore the original Teachings of the Buddha, by having monks/nuns undergoing an education system and possess a certain academic qualifications before they teach the Dhamma, something like from a recognized Institute or University of Buddhism, to prevent irresponsible Buddhist Teachers going around teaching the wrong Dhamma and giving a wrong impression of Buddhism.
I have seen some lay Buddhists going crazy offering Dana when they hearsay that so and so monks have psychic power. This is crazy and immoral and corrupted Buddhism.
Btw, in my opinion, devotion needs no intellect involved as it comes from the heart not the head. Intellect is mundane reasoning whereas devotion is supramundane and from the consciousness and is spiritual not something that requires reasoning, intellect as this will camouflage the purity of wisdom. The power of devotion comes from the pureness and spirituality and not intellectually. Once intellect interferes, we loose that and essence & mpower of devotion. As Buddha said intellect is one of the senses in our mind. Consciousness is pure.
It is recorded in Kevatta sutta (DN) the Buddha rejected a request of lay followers to display psychic powers or have his disciples to display them for converting or attracting people to Buddhist faith. In the same Discourse, the Buddha said the only recommendable psychic power is education “you should think like this, not like that, you should attend to this, not otherwise”,…
For Bukkkhus and Bhikkhuni, there is an offence for directly or indirectly revealing supernatural power(s)of oneself to laity. The Buddha had His reasons to forbid his monks and nuns to display these supernatural powers to attract gain, fame and the like. An example of downfall in being corrupted by psychic powers is Ven Devadatta, the Buddha’s cousin. Lay people are sometimes blinded and uninformed, with many defilements; many of them are easily attracted to unusually things, led by their own imaginations. Good monastics should restrain themselves from the power of the mass, not lead them to more delusion for the search of gain and fame.
Until now, after a lapse of 2500 years, in few Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Vietnam, there are a systematic training for monastics in every aspects of monastic life, and the qualified monks and nuns are conferred certificates as Dhamma teachers (Dhammaacariya). We do not encouraged any person to teach Dhamma until the teacher or senior monastics see that the person is qualified as regard to conduct (sila), knowledge (suta) and practical skills (Bhavana). And these standards are strictly observed in many places where Buddhist faith are popular and well established. i sencerely wish that Buddhism should be taught, learnt and practiced in a more systematic way in the West.
I agree with Ayya and Edgar that the monastics should have recognized qualifications from a recognized Buddhism school or university to teach the Dhamma, for those monastic who like to teach, and another recognized qualification to teach meditation in retreats.
Not all monks/nuns are qualified to teach everything under Buddhism. The laities would not know, as all monastics wear the noble robes and laity believed whatever being taught by them as the Buddha’s Dhamm, as laity are still puttujanas and are still inclined to greed,hatred,delusion and with still untrained minds & body.
For those monastics who do not like to teach or not qualified yet to teach both Dhamma & meditation can encourage laities or involved in welfare services to cultivate compassion or children dhamma schools or alike and other spiritual services like blessings, chantings, house blessings, funeral services and the like. They have to know which areas of service they are capable and not be a Jack of all trade and master of none.
The laities can also be more aware and well-informed of the monastics who teach Dhamma and meditation, if they have such qualifications or certificates or referral to avoid lost of trust in the Dhamma in future due to some untrained teachings by some unscrupulous teachers who teach their own teachings and called it Buddhism. This would affect the real Dhamma in Buddhism in the long term. At the moment, it looks like there is no proper system in some monastics, as any monk/nun is free to move around to teach as long as there is request from a Buddhist group or society to fill in the programme or activities. It is out of control. Therefore, a heirachy system or Elders system is important to safeguard the right teachings by monastics without deviations.
It seems, after our line of inquiry, “the heirachy system or Elders system” is something necessary. That is why that has come into being in many Buddhist countries. I observed this phenomenon in all Buddhist system I’ve learnt and practiced to enrich the experiences on the Buddha’s Path. However, there are a lot of shortcomings of the heirachy system or Elders system, too. One of the unskillful effect of that system is it lead to formalism & dogmatics which the Buddha himself tried to avoid when He saw that shortcoming from Brahmanism. Another unwholesome thing is from chanting & religious services may unskillfully lead to superstitions on the part of laities and hypocrisy on the part of monastics. These dangers, in my experience of the Buddhist practices as power centralist religion & have certain control over the Buddhist affairs in the region /country, are equally damaging to the true Dhamma as it was taught by the Buddha.
Buddhists belief in the Law of Kamma and highly recommended on the individual responsibility, therefore, if one has genuine faith in the Buddha’s teaching, one should exert one’s best to learn the Dhamma & Vinaya and use one’s reason to practice, not just by trusting the teacher(s) or individual(s) who take the authority to be ‘the paster of Buddhist faith’. In Apannaka Sutta (The Incontrovertible teaching, M. 60), the Buddha gave instructions on how to avoid some dangers inherent in mere faith & belief or on shallow reasoning. But nowhere in the Sutta & Vinaya, the Buddha recommended a kind of centralized power by a system of hierarchy or council of Elders. With His encompassing knowledge, He must had seen the dangers in such a system, so He teach us to trust the Dhamma, not person. And each of us, his followers, have to be responsible for our actions to guard our faith and to share our knowledge with the world.
You know, in the olden days, people see monastics as people who are with jilted hearts, gave up on lives, emotionally troubled people, unwanted by families,problematic ones or equivalents. This stigma should not linger on and become a precedent anymore. Buddhism should be looked as as a religious education.
The monastics should now be selective in their recruitments of monks/nuns. Those with still emotional problems should instead be helping out in the monasteries as volunteers to sort out their emotional problems first, rather than being recruited as monastics, as monastics are very high noble status in religious fraternity, not for any Tom, Dick and Harry.
In this literate world, I feel that monastics should undergo systematic formal training by first studying the Suttas, have affinity for chantings and is spiritual at heart.Monastics should be for those who are inspired by the Dhamma, passion to learn the Dhamma and for those seeking Truth and who are spiritual rather than curious, and those that want to follow the 8-fold Noble Path. The Path starts with Right View. To have Right View, the monastics must undergo study of the Suttas. There should be like examinations for monastics to ensure quality in monastics and their dhamma teachings.
In Christianity, a Pastor or Father and those Church Ministers who preached, all had to undergo bible studies and proper training to be qualified to preach.
However, for buddhism, a lot of monastics who after practicing some meditation stinks and gain some kind of attainments go around teaching without much knowledge of the Suttas and fully understood the true Dhamma. A few bad apples could spoil the whole basket.
In some countries, the Monastic Elders will scrutinize carefully before recruiting candidates for monastics, with some entering monastics very young and they all started by educating them with Pali and later Suttas studies, before they could teach the Dhamma. Monastic should now be an educational religious community and not a crying shoulder or an emotional healing centers or an escapism or get-away haven for those with emotional problems or fed-up with life.
I suggest we should build University or Institute for Pali and Suttas Studies instead of hugh meditation retreat centres. For example, Bhavana Society, they have like tents for retreats in the open forest. It saves cost and protect the environment. Other suitable venues for retreats can be held in school halls, convention centres,community halls of existing buildings,etc as most retreats are held during school holidays or long festive breaks.Imagine, if every monk/nun aspires to build their own meditation centers? Is this not for their own ambitions?
Just a suggestion, Buddism can be taught in schools and become a pragmatic and proactive religion and not all about practising for attaining peace,bliss,light,nimittas,psychic powers, enlightenments.In other religions, their children would go for a second school in religious studies, everyday.Why not Buddhists? Ayya, what is your opinion on this?
We all just say ‘right’ to what is agreed with one own personal judgement from subjective experiences, and ‘wrong’ with what is not familiar to our experiences. Now, Buddhist ideals and practices have reached the Western world, there are not enough conditions for them to be an organised & official religion and institution yet. This is right or wrong, good or bad, who know?
After 2500 years, now Buddhism has become very diversity, Buddhist thoughts and ideals have been sprung up, developed and modified according to conditions where Buddhist philosophy and practices get a foothold to become a belief, a custom, a tradition, and a culture. The Buddha advised us to see thing as it has come to be (Yathabhutam nana dassana), this means to see thing in its conditional and relational mode, not as a static entity, but a dynamic phenomenon. “thing” or dharma here means everything, including Buddha’s teachings and practices.
According to the accounts in the Suttas, most people come to the Buddha’s Dhamma were noble aspirer. But according to Vinaya accounts, many of them were just wretched fellows whose wanted to have an easy life on the generosity of good people, or just run away from a miserable marriage, or affected by misfortunes and so on. Could they be enlightened? yes, few of them were able to overcome their weaknesses, then become nobler; many just be there to learn some new skills, got on with life, and… reborn as we are now to wonder what form of Buddhism is the best!
Well, Dhamma and Vinaya is the marriage of the Ideal and Reality! Then, we have to live and make them work in this situation as ‘things have come to be’. Not try to fix them into one’s person ideal, but let it be the way it is: dynamic and diversity. To pursue academic knowledge (Pariyatti) or follow the path of practice (Patipatti) is a personal preference. So, there should be both meditation centre & universities. Throughout the history of Buddhism, old aspirants used to chose the path of direct practice, not academic studies, but young and energetic aspirants used to learn scriptures first, then practice when there are opportunities. This is only a general observation, not always true to every case.
In one of the Sutta in Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha advised his students that those prefer study should not look down upon those prefer practice and vie verse. Both ways are good then nothing, isn’t it? As I known, many monasteries in Vietnam, Myanmar ans Sri Lanka have applied the standard of learning & giving services first, then when the aspirants are mature enough, they are allowed to meditate. I have been trained and follow this tradition, and i see it is a good practice. However, if other people want a shortcut, let they do as they preferred. Ultimately, Dhamma is Sanditthiko…. paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi.
Edgar wrote: ” I wish to share my humble thoughts in the hope to put Buddhism especially the noble method of meditation in the right light and on the right track …………………………..Not trying to be bieas but to me is the truth, I find that the Sri Lankan monks/nuns always refer to and teach from the Suttas when they teach the dhamma and retreat and most of them are scholars, if not, have studied enought of the Suttas before they give dhamma talks or teach the lay Buddhists………………. in my opinion, devotion needs no intellect involved as it comes from the heart not the head. Intellect is mundane reasoning whereas devotion is supramundane and from the consciousness and is spiritual not something that requires reasoning, intellect as this will camouflage the purity of wisdom. The power of devotion comes from the pureness and spirituality and not intellectually. Once intellect interferes, we loose that and essence & mpower of devotion”
From what I learned , various monks taught importance of balancing faith/ devotion with understanding. For example:
” The faculties of faith and wisdom form one pair, aimed at balancing the capacities for devotion and comprehension;” – Bhikkhu Bodhi
There are many rites and rituals out there. It is very crucial to distinguish between practices that are essential and practices that simply distract , delay, and waste your time . Also, by merely mimicking what everyone else is doing without knowing the meaning or purpose behind it makes it boring and difficult to endure ( especially if it is a drawn out ritual that takes hours to complete). If it is a helpful or meaningful ritual, then understanding the meaning behind it only makes it more enjoyable to carry out.
For example, burning incense and candles can become more enjoyable and meaningful if you at least understand why you are doing it , if not why other people are doing it.
The sutras usually refer to the Buddha’s hut as the Perfumed Chamber. This might indicate that people used to light up aromatic incense where the Buddha stayed. Nowadays, this practice still goes on around temples to venerate or commemorate the Buddha while using incense that smells like smoke without much hint of aroma..Because all we can smell is smoke, sometimes it makes a person wonder why do people burn these incense for, what exactly does it do.
Understand for yourself why you burn incense ( if you burn them) can make it more enjoyable , meaningful, and useful . It becomes more meaningful every time you burn incense at home or at the temple because you understand that it is your gesture of respect or your way of commemorating the Buddha.
If you use aromatic incense rather than the kind that smells like smoke, then there is also a practical value to it. It can sometimes be conducive to meditation if you also practice meditation instead of just burning incense and that’s it . At the beginning, the mind finds the breath to be a boring object to place attention on / stay with . The aroma that emanates from aromatic incense can motivate the mind to stay with the breathing at the beginning. After awhile, the breath becomes naturally enjoyable to the mind with the arising of piti/ rapture from within ( rather than an aroma from without).
Candles can be meaningful as well as useful. It can be a reminder for serenity and wisdom ( samatha & vipassana). This is because candle light represents bright shining wisdom , at the same time it can promote a peaceful / tranquil feeling in the atmosphere.. Afterward, when the candle has gone out, it is a metaphor for nibbana.
There is also a practical side to burning candles. At some forest monasteries , people use it as a source of light if there is no electricity in the hut. At other monasteries , people turn off the electric light and use candle light instead during meditation session. It is not too bright and can create a peaceful atmosphere. This makes it easier to feel a sense of peace and tranquility within when meditating.
Having understood the meaning and use behind incense and candles, if you feel that you would prefer to do without them then simply skip it. Otherwise you can use it in a way that contribute to your practice. There are people who only use incense and candle because everyone else is doing it but not to help their meditation as well . In that case, I believe the Buddha would remind them to practice his teachings and meditate.
There are some practices that can’t be left out of the path . One way for you to tell which practice is necessary, which is optional, and which is a mere waste of time without any benefit is by understanding the meaning and practical value behind it . Without this, Buddhism can become lost to later generations. Perhaps the outer form will remain , but the essence will be lost to the majority of the population.
I am of the opinion, that INTELLECT is the opposite of WISDOM.
Scientists used their supreme intellect to build for example, nuclear weapons but did they have wisdom (root word is- wise)? Albert Einstein quoted: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”.
I see all these practices of devotion, faith, saddha, chanting, prayers, reverences, respect, gratitude, truthfulness are “medicine” for our cultivation and development of wisdom.
Buddhism traveled from Sri Lanka after India to Asia and now the West, so Sri Lankan Sassana is the oldest benefactor of Buddha’s Dhamma with the same unbroken lineage directly from Buddha (Theravada lineage). I noticed that they always kept to the spiritual practices of the Buddha whenever they give Dhamma talks, although they are intellectual scholars or professionals, for example, our late Most Ven Dr K Sri Dhammananda who had propagated the Dhamma for 50 years and had a PhD, but he never once started a sermon (Dhamma talk)without the devotional practice of a short chanting and never failed to end a sermon with blessings and sharing of merits, and was doing this for 50 years! Nowadays, some monks think this as a waste of time and not making sense doing it. They forget that these practices strenthened their spirituality and helps in their holy practice and noble training.
Although Buddhism is agreeable to intellectuals, but it should maintained its spirituality and its religious practices. If I am not mistaken, I suspect Ajahn Brahm is trying to “modernize” or simplified Buddhism by cutting and trimming all those devotional practices that appeared to him as non-intellectual and non-scientific. Is he trying to challenge the Buddha and trying to change Buddhism to do away with all these spiritual practices regarded by him as rituals? It is quite obvious in most of his recent dhamma talks.
Monastic who wear the robes are symbolic of a holy person who possess Saddha in the Buddha and HIS Dhamma, with no longer doubts but following all the practices and training given by the Buddha. The Kalama Sutta is for those who have yet Saddha in the Buddha. Every Buddhist goes through first with a lot of doubts, questioning, using intellect, but after continuous seeking, understanding, saddha and wisdom arise and become more developed than intellect.
The West should treat Buddhism as a spiritual practice and not do away with those devotional practices appeared to them as inferior and not intellectual. Buddha would not advised his monks to chant the Parittas when meditating in the forest if they were not effective and beneficial to them because Buddha knew they were many devas and spirits residing in forest.
I have a friend who attended a Buddhist funeral and she was disgusted with the family members who joked and laughed, joking about a Christian joke on life in Heaven with golfing and ferrari etc without any sign of respect, gratitude and devotion for the deceased, no chanting or prayers and treated the deceased as only 4 elements. An example of a wrong and non-spiritual attitude.
Ponder and contemplate on whether intellect is more superior than wisdom or wisdom is more superior than intellect.
I challenge the dichotomy of intellect and wisdom. In terms of suffering, we denote form, feeling, perception, sankhara, consciousness. Intellect and wisdom are both sankhara, are they not?
Edgar wrote: “I am of the opinion, that INTELLECT is the opposite of WISDOM.”
I believe, intellect comes from an active mind. Wisdom comes from a still mind .
Edgar wrote : “Scientists used their supreme intellect to build for example, nuclear weapons but did they have wisdom (root word is- wise)? Albert Einstein quoted: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”.”
People who build weapons to destroy are not in touch with the wisdom that arise from stillness (of mind).
Edgar wrote: “I see all these practices of devotion, faith, saddha, chanting, prayers, reverences, respect, gratitude, truthfulness are “medicine” for our cultivation and development of wisdom.”
You can do all this, but just don’t leave out the Buddha’s words and meditation. What I often see is that many people come to the temple and perform rituals, but completely leave out meditation, the precepts, and the Buddha’s teaching. This is a widespread issue in various regions. It shouldn’t continue to spread to other regions.
“but he never once started a sermon (Dhamma talk)without the devotional practice of a short chanting and never failed to end a sermon with blessings and sharing of merits, and was doing this for 50 years! Nowadays, some monks think this as a waste of time and not making sense doing it. ”
Generally, when giving a talk on the Sutta they usually chant before and after. I am not sure if they are required to do that when not teaching about a Sutta. You can always hear the chanting when AB teaches the Suttas.
” Is he trying to challenge the Buddha and trying to change Buddhism to do away with all these spiritual practices regarded by him as rituals? It is quite obvious in most of his recent dhamma talks.”
This is just your way of perceiving/ understanding his talks. Personally, I feel that knowing the meaning or practical purpose behind a ritual actually takes it to another level and makes it more meaningful / enjoyable for the person . Another benefit is if a ritual was added over the years, or has no basis in the suttas, then it is possible to filter it out. This is just for the benefit of the practitioners and the dhamma.
The Buddha’s words and meditation are two important aspects of Buddhism. I don’t think it is a good idea to get sidetrack and spend most of our time practicing rituals that the Buddha didn’t recommends. When coming to the Temple, you want to see people light up some candles/ incense , at the same time meditate and learn the Buddha’s teachings. I am sure the Buddha don’t want to see people offer incense/ candles but ignore his teachings and not even bother practicing it. He didn’t came down here just to be worship.
Edgar wrote: “Monastic who wear the robes are symbolic of a holy person who possess Saddha in the Buddha and HIS Dhamma, with no longer doubts but following all the practices and training given by the Buddha. The Kalama Sutta is for those who have yet Saddha in the Buddha. Every Buddhist goes through first with a lot of doubts, questioning, using intellect, but after continuous seeking, understanding, saddha and wisdom arise and become more developed than intellect.”
I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that people have doubt in the Buddha or his teachings. The idea is to be discerning about the rituals you take up. I am sure many Hindu rituals get mixed up with Buddhism over the years. It is very important to not waste time on unnecessary rituals that takes time away from the practices that Buddha taught.
Edgar wrote : “Ponder and contemplate on whether intellect is more superior than wisdom or wisdom is more superior than intellect.”
The wisdom the comes from a still mind is much deeper than a thinking mind. This is why the Buddha taught meditation.
I think we should have understanding and tolerance. We should not condemn any religious practices by others as everyone has different levels of understanding,maturity,background,culture and the key point here is we don’t condemn others and try to impose our beliefs, practices and understanding on others. We must be gentle in our approach. We should have compassion for others who do not practice the same as we do and show a good example but do not criticize others thinking that we are better, we are right, to avoid un-neccasary conflicts. Just like some religions who condemn and cursing others who do not believe what they believe or embrace their religion. This is causing ill-will and not good-will. We cannot change the world and everyone in the world. We have to change our own attitudes and not try to change others and keep changing things like a dictator. Be like a lotus in the mud. Practice peacefully without judging as others may need those practices according to their needs at that time in their culture, as long as it gives them a kind of peace of mind, a sense of security and faith. Just like blessing water by monks give some devotees that they have been blessed and our minds are powerful and this could heal their problems, who knows? We cannot say like how can water work if we reason it with intellect.It gave comfort and confidence to the person and that worked!
Buddy wrote: “I think we should have understanding and tolerance. We should not condemn any religious practices by others as everyone has different levels of understanding,maturity,background,culture and the key point here is we don’t condemn others and try to impose our beliefs, practices and understanding on ”
No offense to anyone, I just want to remain true to the original teaching as much as possible so that it will be effective when we apply it.
Buddy wrote: “Just like some religions who condemn and cursing others who do not believe what they believe or embrace their religion. This is causing ill-will and not good-will. ”
Just for suggesting that people shouldn’t practice rituals blindly , AB already gets condemned. If someone don’t believe in this, simply don’t apply it. There is no need to severely criticize him for it, this is not causing good- will.
Buddy wrote: ” We have to change our own attitudes and not try to change others and keep changing things like a dictator.”
Dictating is punishing others when they do something you don’t approve of. Changes can be positive , ie.. abolishing slavery, suggesting that people conserve resources, etc.. You are free to remain attach to rites and rituals or practice them blindly . I am sure AB won’t excommunicate anyone for that. The talk about balancing faith and wisdom is a good idea that anyone can freely choose to adapt or not.
Buddy wrote:” Be like a lotus in the mud. Practice peacefully without judging as others may need those practices according to their needs at that time in their culture, as long as it gives them a kind of peace of mind, a sense of security and faith.”
If someone feels secure with the status quo and resist change, that is fine. Please do so peacefully without judging others who have the need to understand what they are practicing .
We are having this discussion because someone judges others just for teaching people to balance faith with understanding .
I wish to end all these controversial debates that seem to have no end. I hope all of us just sincerely and truthfully practice what the Buddha taught with full confidence (saddha) without a need justify to others but only to be answerable to ourselves. We only have to answer to ourselves when judgement day comes.
Hope the Dhamma will remain intact as in 2,550 years ago in its simplicity and authenticity. We do not need to change anything in the Buddha’s Dhamma as it is the Reality i.e according to Law of Nature.
The only change we need to change is ourselves i.e live in accordance to the Dhamma, and not change the Dhamma to live in accordance to our changes. Instead of questioning the Dhamma, just trust it and practice it to know the real results and its truth in it.
We will progress faster spiritually if we follow exactly what the Buddha taught, for example, monks were taught to look at their bowls to stay mindful during Pindapat instead of looking around or at the people, to guard their sense contacts. Similarly with us, if we abide by what Buddha taught. Metta.
Not sure what you meant by the wisdom that comes from a still mind is much deeper than a thinking mind.
I happened to stumble on this passage while reading a dhamma book on Mindfulness, that goes like this,
“This path of wisdom is not one of developing concentration to get into a trance state, GET HIGH and get away from things. You have to be very honest about intention. Are we meditating to run away from things? Are we trying to get into a state where we can suppress all thoughts?”
I am not sure if this GET HIGH meant in this passage is the same as the BLISS (better than sex)that Ajahn Brahm referred to. It can then be addictive, right, just like addicted to alcohol or cocaine? I thought bliss meant pure happiness and not get high.
Does stilling of the mind lead to this “get high” or “bliss”? Is this suitable for lay meditators or only confined for monastics?
This is very confusing. Hope any lay meditator who has experienced this “get high” or “bliss” could share with us on this “experience”.
It sounds like the person is giving importance only to Samma Sati ( 7. right mindfulness) while completely disregard Samma Samadhi ( 8. right concentration/ stillness). According to the Sutta, it is not recommended to leave out any part of the Noble Eightfold Path. Is this book on Mindfulness only , or is the author that familiar with Samma Samadhi ?
There is being mindful while moving in daily life , and there is also sitting still in meditation to enter stillness ( Samma Samadhi / Jhanas). The Buddha usually abides in mindfulness . When he sits still to meditate he would go in Jhanas or Sunnata ( Voidness). That is why he called mindfulness the “Abiding of the Tathagatha” , and Jhanas are considered the ” Footsteps of the Tathagatha”.
The Buddha had many lay disciples that practiced Jhanas and became Non- Returners according to the suttas. So this is not confined to monastics only. However, it does requires some amount of solitude retreat.
Even for a lay disciple who is not into Awakening, the Buddha still advice him to at least spend some time in seclusion ( ie..retreat) to meditate and experience Rapture.
” Then Anathapindika the householder, surrounded by about 500 lay followers, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him, “Householder, you have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn’t rest content with the thought, ‘We have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.’ SO YOU SHOULD TRAIN YOURSELF, ‘LET’S PERIODICALLY ENTER & REMAIN IN SECLUSION & RAPTURE.’ THAT’S HOW YOU SHOULD TRAIN YOURSELF.” – Piti Sutta
If you neither have the time or interest in nibbana, then just focus on mindfulness in daily activities with a little meditation to experience pitti ( joy/ rapture) sometimes. Rapture is just the initial stages leading to Jhanas, but not Jhanas yet.
Is it true that AB was banned from attending the UN Vesak 2010 because they said he ordained Bhikkhunis in Perth as alleged by him? Did WPP have anything to do with organizing UN Vesak 2010? What was his intention?
Why is AB talking about Buddhism and Christianity under a tree to a few people? Why are these people wearing black robes and not brown or orange robes? It is disturbing. Any comments?
Teaching Dhamma shouldn’t be controlled by any hierarchy.
Listeners can tell if teachings are helpful if by practicing them, it leads to less stress, harmony and peace in life.
If teachings lessen suffering than it’s teaching of Dhamma.
Remember Buddha’s advice to Upali: you know it’s the Dhamma and Vinaya if it leads to peace, dispassion etc:)
We must also remember that there is no hierarchy in Buddhism.
Someone asked the Buddha if there will be a leader and he said the teachings and training will be our guidance.
We already have the teachings and training and therefore no group of people should create any Buddhist university program and control what Dhamma is taught.
It’s already there!
And the teachers are those who have PRACTICED the path and then teach from experience.
We get inspired by people (laity or monastic) who have practiced the path and we can see the lovely inspiring fruit of that practice.
THAT is what inspires us and that is GOOD:)
All of us can argue and go on arguing forever on how and what to practice as we still have dust in our eyes. I think we have to differentiate what Suttas are for lay people and what Suttas are solely for monastics.
Unless we are monastics, we should not follow and practice what the monastics are practicing and vice-versa. Buddha’s teachings for monastics are meant for those who want to be tamed and those who can be tamed eg Angulimala (Buddha had divine eye to assess everyone whether this person can be tamed or not as he was a Sammasambuddha, therefore HE could teach each and everyone according to their nature and kamma or whether they are once returner,stream winner or stream entry).
Buddha had also given us many Householders’ Suttas to live household lives peacefully, happily and harmoniously. He advised us to observe the 5 precepts and during Uposatha days (like the Sabbath day)to observe 8 precepts. With this, Buddha was preparing us the gradual training to tame ourselves first since it is impossible for us to observe renunciant’s precepts as householders, with His Wisdom. If we cannot even observe 8 precepts, how are we to observe 227 precepts when we renounced? Buddha was already training the householders.
As for meditation, Buddha said we should meditate while sitting,standing,walking with mindfulness and awareness which are practical and sensible for householders. Buddha was training us already by asking us to do rifht mindfulness and right awareness first so that we are skillful then later when renouncing it would be easy for us to do Samadhi as Samadhi requires for all the defilements removed.So, i think all of us lay buddhists should first do right awareness and right mindfulness meditation first as it can be done every moment,anywhere,anytime (very practical).
If we have right awareness, we will be mindful in our thoughts,speech and actions. We will pause,observe our minds,assess it whether it is wholesome or unwholesome before we act,speak or do.
The world would have no wars and crimes if all of us have awareness and mindfulness with us daily. Problems start when a memory,mental object,perception or mental formation come to contact with intellect and our minds proliferate like making a movie and get carried away together with outflow of energy from our minds (asavas).
The best is to try it out ourselves whether we still get agitated, irritated,
lustful,desires,angry,envious,impatient after Samadhi/concentration. However, with mindfulness we will have full awareness when such defilements (kilesas) arise in our minds and we are able to “extinguish” them and nib them in the bud (calmness and sensation of peace arised)before we react to these defilements, thus gradually weakening our defilements. This is from my own personal experience so far, as I have also practiced Samadhi before but it didn’t help me in my anger, irritation didn’t melt away but with mindfulness, I could see them clearly and I have control over them thus won the “battle” each time they arised as they are anatta. It is no use arguing on the Suttas if we do not put it to practice. Buddha said in Pali “patipati”.
I hope you are able to make a digital backup in some form of the comments here for historian purposes.
No doubt, 100-200 years from now, Buddhist scholars will be reading this and scratching their heads, wondering what all the fuss was about.
Of course, female Bhikkhunis will be everywhere by then….
Or better yet, turn this blog into a book. Every subject matter a new chapter. Then these gross injustices are recorded and will endure for history sake.
For those concerned with how the siladharaa are faring, in the last week Aj. Thitamedha disrobed, Aj. Kovida announced that she will leave the community in November but not disrobe, and now Sr. Sumedha has announced she will disrobe in November. For those who know these inspiring women and understand what their departure means to the community, it’s very heartbreaking. Meanwhile, Aj. Upekkha, who already left the community last year, is moving from England to India.
Their letters can be found here:
Aj. Thitamedha: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=153235999615&topic=14835
Aj. Kovida: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=153235999615&topic=15006
Sr. Sumedha: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=153235999615&topic=15042
Aj. Upekkha: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=153235999615&topic=14885
FYI. Some further comments posted by a reader on Facebook regarding this discrimnatory process:
“the two monks from Amaravati that have been the main perpretators behind destroying the sialdhara sangha – are Ajahn Vajiro and the Thai monk Ajahn Pannasaro. About three years ago I had a conversation with a senior nun from Amaravati who had just been to an elders meeting. At the meeting Ajahn Vajiro said that ‘If I had my way there would be no nuns left at Amaravati’. It seems as if he is indeed getting his way.”
I’m saddened by the news of the siladharas disrobing and it’s disheartening to know why they have done so. My empathies go to our dharma sisters and mothers.
Discrimination against females go beyond the immediate confines of institutional Theravadin Buddhism. It extends into other religions, into all levels of society, developed and undeveloped and cuts across race, culture and religion. History bears this out and if we look broader afield at how humans use animals the picture is much worse.
We have enslaved females of domesticated animals for our own use and abuse for thousands of years and continue to this very second. Where do your eggs come from? Are they from free range chicken farms or caged debeaked (without anaesthesia) hens restricted to space of a sheet of A4 paper in a factory farm? Chances are that it is the latter if you choose the cheapest option.
Pregnant sows in factory farms are kept in a restrictive sow stall which is a bare metal enclosure with a concrete floor and with no space to turn around. After birth it gets even worse; she is moved into a farrowing crate where she has to lie down to suckle her young. Metal bars prevent her from getting up. Remaining prone for weeks she develops pressure sores which turn into painful ulcers. Her muscles atrophy from lack of use. Then after her young are weaned, she is impregnated again and the horrific cycle continues until she is spent in a couple years. It’s off to the slaughter house then.
I can go on and on with other examples such as the dairy industry, the wool industry, puppy farms as the list is endless. Predominantly it’s the female that is exploited for meat, milk, eggs, leather, fur, bile and other body parts.
This enslavement of the female of a species, animal and human is right throughout recorded history until today. The attitudes of superiority, dominance and self righteousness still prevail.
So is it any wonder that the same attitudes against bhikkhuni ordination remain?
I don’t doubt the factuality of this assertion and I think it’s healthy to call a spade a spade. At the same time, I want to caution against the temptation to find one or two antagonists in this “story” and focus too much energy on them. What seems more important to me are the institutional imbalances that would allow such attitudes to take root and have such a destructive influence on the community as a whole. It’s easy to raise ire against people we disagree with outright. It’s much more difficult to untangle the more subtle forces that lead people to remain silent even when they know something is wrong, for example.
To clarify, the assertion I’m referring to is the quote in Anne’s comment above, not Albert’s comment.
First, I just want to point out that this post was not my personal comment but a post that was written on facebook. I copied it here as I thought it would be interesting to the readers.
Secondly, I agree that clearly the organisation is dysfunctional endorsed by a doctrine of silence and fear of reprisals if one speaks out. However, I do agree with the person that posted these facts in that we do need to identify those persons in a position of power and authority who had the ethical knowledge and opportunity to do the right thing, but instead have chosen to do otherwise.
This is a top-down organisation and we need to name those who have let down the sangha by the misuse of their power.
Yes, I understand that you were quoting. I was just following up on that quote with my own perspective. It wasn’t in any way a disagreement with the comment you quoted, which I appreciate also. And I’m also in full agreement with your second comment. I just wanted to take the opportunity to add another angle, not in any way to “let off” those who have abused power. Rather, I wanted to point out that, as far as I can make out, the failures and the responsibility of those in authority extends far *beyond* the two monks named. This is a debatable point – I’m just putting forth my perspective on it. My apologies if my comment came across as any kind of personal criticism.
No worries. I think we both agree.
Ladies, I just finished listening to this audiotalk by a very open-minded Venerable on Bhikkhunis Ordination.
It’s quite clear, the Buddha said it’s because we don’t understand the four noble truths FULLY that we get reborn and suffer.
And how do we understand the four noble truths?
Through EIGHTFOLD PATH
So it is through the Eightfold Path that we understand the Four Noble Truths
It’s repeated over and over and over again
He did not say you understand the Four Noble Truths through university degree. If that would be the way out of suffering, he would say ‘monks, get a PhD and that will get you out of suffering. But no, he didn’t say that. Also, he is the best teacher, so if he knew another way, he’d tell us 🙂
So who should be teaching Dhamma?
Those who have practiced and completed the Eightfold Path.
And when asked a teaching in brief, the Buddha said I teach Suffering and the End of Suffering. You don’t need much intellectual study for this.
Nobe Path consists of ten factors, not eight! After R. concentration, there are Right knowledge (samma Nana)and r. deliverance (s. vimutti). That is why, a PhD is quite useful on the Path!
It is true that the path sometimes is said to have ten factors. But it is important to keep this in perspective. The path of eight factors is far more important and is predominant in the suttas. The ten-factored path is a comparative rarity.
Thank you Bhante,
However, it is also important to know the Noble Path is of ten factors. This understanding makes it easier to comprehend why in practice/ training (sikkha) of this Path, the order is Sila (r. speech, r. action, r. livelihood), Samadhi (r. effort, r. mindfulness, r. concentration) and Panna (noble r. view, noble r. intention).
That’s something worth mentioning Ajahn Brahmali. Because they are rarely mentioned in the text, it is uncertain if it came from the commentaries originally or actually from the sutta. So generally, when we discuss the Noble Path, the emphasis is on the Noble Eightfold first. Right Wisdom ( 9) and Right Liberation (10) are a little unique, they are usually left towards the end when you have practiced the Eightfold Path.
From what I learned : “These two factors are the end result of correctly practicing the noble eightfold path, which arise during the practice of right concentration. The first to arise is right knowledge: this is where deep insight into the ultimate reality arises. The last to arise is right liberation: this is where self-awakening occurs and the practitioner has reached the pinnacle of their practice.”
These two factors depends on the Eightfold Path rather than logical analysis/ education, this includes having developed Samma Samadhi. Right knowledge here shouldn’t be understood as learned knowledge as in education, but it is a type of knowledge that arises spontaneously from a still mind.
Although studying at a Buddhist university can be helpful, it is not a necessary criteria for teaching. If we go by that logic, then Ajahn Chah shouldn’t be allowed to teach?
Do you know that Achan Chah had learnt scripture and Pali for 7 years before he embraced Dhutanga practice? From his teachings, we knew that he was quite well versed in some Buddhist texts available in Thailand.The education is not exclusive in university, but we can learn from everyone, everywhere, from everything in the nature. Universities and meditation centre are formal education and practice, whereas informal learning and practice are what is in our daily life, in every circumstance we happened to be in. And this kind of learning and practice is very important, for it shapes our characters & personalities. If we have a chance, we should learn in both ways, and every way available.
There are two factors for right view to arise. Right view first come from education (hearing from others) and from wise reflection or systematic attention (yoniso Manasikara). Right knowledge on the noble path is that very right view in a transcendental level. And right deliverance is that very right thought/ intention (samma sankappa) when there is no thought! No thought here is not a blank mind in deep samadhi, but the lucid mind that forms no idea or concept, hence not bound by ideas and concepts.
SADHU X 3 !!! If all of us follow the noble Path in that systematic order or orgainized practice, today we would not have any distorted concepts of the Dhamma with so many different Teachings of the Dhamma by different people. Some turned the pure Dhamma from purity to impurity and spirituality to non-spirituality and lost its essence of the gradual training of the Path in achieving its Fruits and worse, some made it fast-track due to their impatience and greed. Like an apple tree that takes time to grow and bear its sweetest fruits according to its breeds, natural pace and Nature, our practice and training should be gradual, gentle and harmless to oneself and others according to one nature,kamma,capability and disposition.We have seen and heard many ascetics who practiced to high levels in meditation and tumbled in the Path at the end because foundation of Right View and Sila are weak.They wanted to “fly” when they had no “wings”.
If one’s foundation is not strong eg Righ View and Sila are not strong enough, one would tumble and fall before the finishing line in the Path. They had to start all over again from the beginning. We had to learn to crawl first before we can walk, so learning the Dhamma (Suttas) is the first most crucial step, otherwise it might lead one to a wrong destination.To get to the right destinations, we need signboards or directional sign. The suttas or dhamma knowledge are our signboards.
Ayya, you should enforce Dhamma Studies as the first step for monastics before they embark on meditation.
This is an extract from a book by Ven Acariya Maha Boowa – Arahattamagga (Pg 33):-
“The problem is that Samadhi is so peaceful and satisfying that the meditator inadvertently becomes addicted to it. This happened to me: for 5 years. I was addicted to the tranquility of samadhi; so much so that I came to believe that this very tranquility was the essence of Nibbana. Only when my teacher Acariya Mun, forced me to confront this misconception, was I able to move on to the practice of wisdom.
“Unless it supports the development of wisdom, samadhi can sidetrack a meditator from the Path to the end of all suffering. All meditators who intensify their efforts to develop samadhi should be aware of this pitfall.”
Buddy wrote: This is an extract from a book by Ven Acariya Maha Boowa – Arahattamagga (Pg 33):-
“ I came to believe that this very tranquility was the essence of Nibbana. Only when my teacher Acariya Mun, forced me to confront this misconception, was I able to move on to the practice of wisdom.”
“Unless it supports the development of wisdom, samadhi can sidetrack a meditator from the Path to the end of all suffering.”
I agree with him on this because as the Buddha pointed out in many suttas that Samma Samadhi is a supporting factor for Wisdom and not the end / Awakening yet. Some mistake the bliss of Jhana to be it ( Awakening) and stop there. But that is not to say that we can do away with Samma Samadhi. It simply mean that you should proceed to the next step ( develop wisdom using that purified mind).
Buddy wrote: “I am not sure if this GET HIGH meant in this passage is the same as the BLISS (better than sex)that Ajahn Brahm referred to. It can then be addictive, right, just like addicted to alcohol or cocaine? I thought bliss meant pure happiness and not get high. ”
Some might call Jhana ” get high”, but the Buddha called it ” rapture & pleasure born from seclusion” . It is different then ” get high”, because you are not dependent on external chemical.
I’ve been told that the only mental quality that one cannot have in excess is mindfulness. Too much of any of the others is a danger, a liability.
Dear Visakha Kawasaki,
Visakha Kawasaki wrote: “I’ve been told that the only mental quality that one cannot have in excess is mindfulness. Too much of any of the others is a danger, a liability.”
I am not sure how reliable are these sources or if they have any basis in the texts. But what the Buddha himself said was :
“This is called renunciation-pleasure, seclusion-pleasure, calm-pleasure, self-awakening-pleasure. And of this pleasure I say that it is to be cultivated, to be developed, to be pursued, that it is not to be feared.” – Buddha, MN 26
“I thought: ‘I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities — I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. COULD THAT BE THE PATH TO AWAKENING?’ Then following on that memory came the realization: ‘THAT IS THE PATH TO AWAKENING.’ I thought: ‘SO WHY ARE MY AFRAID OF THAT PLEASURE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SENSUALITY, NOTHING TO DO WITH UNSKILLFUL QUALITIES?’ I thought: ‘I AM NO LONGER AFRAID of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities,” – BUDDHA in the Maha-Saccaka Sutta
To call the serenity of meditation ‘ get high’ is misleading . They are two different things. To ‘get high’ you need to depend on an external chemical to stimulate the brain. It can lead you to do unwholesome things to get money to buy this chemical that you are dependent on. Mentally, these substance can make you irresponsible and dull. There is obvious danger there.
However, the Piti and Sukkha of Jhana arise from within oneself. One doesn’t need money to buy the chemical, but the application of the Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha. Mentally, it is a supporting factor for wisdom that Liberates. There is a big difference between ‘get high’ from drugs and ” renunciation-pleasure, seclusion-pleasure, calm-pleasure, self-awakening-pleasure ” from Jhana.
Hi Bro iMed,
I wish to share my experience in Samadhi/concentration. Prior to studying the Suttas, my knowledge on the 8-fold Noble Path (8NP) was 1.Sila 2.Samadhi 3.Panna (with each section its sub-sections). Most Buddhists used this 2.Samadhi as meditation method as we were made to understand it in the 8NP as such, so we started with Concentration or Anapanasati another method of focusing, ignoring all thoughts or mental impressions or mental disturbances by noting them 3 time and let them go, so one is able to be with our meditation object which is usually our breadth or rising falling of the abdomen, with the aim to achieve “Calm” or “Peace” (or you called that Rapture and Pleasure, or further than that,Tranquility, if I understood it correctly).
After achieving calm or peace, next is mental phenomenas occurs like nimittas. During this stage, we do not have mindfulness of other things, the mind stays focus on the object and our breadth will dissapear, our five senses may be shut down = Calm /Peace. Its good, but bad because when we have attain this calm/peace, we will want it each time in our meditation and if we don’t get it we get agitated and frustrated esp when you are in a short retreat and just when you were about to get there, it was time to pack and go, and we yearn for the next retreat hoping to attain it. I find this sort of practice is possible for monks/nuns but not so practical for householders.
For me, in the 8NP 2.Samadhi should be 2.Bhavana (it consists of R.Effort,R.Mindfulness & R.Concentration, and not only R.Concentration and skip R.Effort & R.Mindfulness). We should be doing R.Effort first, and I see it as Daily Awareness (Buddha’s 4 references) and R.Mindfulness is Sati (remembering to come back to the Dhamma or what you should rightfully or mindfully be doing).
In fact, in our everyday chores/activities, IMO, we already have 1st & 2nd Jhanas in whatever we are doing. However our mind usually does not stay in the present moment as our minds tend to wander,fantasize,goes out of the present moment of doing something, so we need to be aware that our mind has “run away” and have Sati to bring it back to our attention of the present moment (can be whatever we are doing now i.e watching tv or washing dishes etc). When we have this R.Awareness and R.Mindfulness, R.concentration comes automatically i.e we will be concentrating in our washing dishes and our minds become in the present moment (or concentration) with the washing, and peace of mind /calm pervades.
IMO, to achieve 3rd & 4th Jhanas and beyond needs a lot of solitude and long hours and obviously one has to have a strong footing of Sila (virtues/morality)and the danger is we will not be able to function normally as householder. However, we will benefit more and be more productive and happier in the practice of R.Awareness and R.Mindfulness.This method of meditation is achievable,practical,productive and another helpful meditation is Metta Meditation to cultivate love in us first to become happier before we are able to radiate it to others and it can be done anytime,anywhere. Of course, we will achieve all these practices better if we have habitual observance of the 5 precepts that are essential for clarity of mind to practice r.awareness and r.mindfulness. Without clarity of mind, our mind will follow the 5 senses at every impulse. That’s my analysis of the practice. No problem, if you do not agree with me.
May I add: The Buddha’s 4 references in Right Effort are :-
1. the effort to prevent the arising of unwholesome states which have not yet arisen
2. the effort to bring to cessation unwholesome states which have already arisen
3. the effort to bring forward wholesome states which have not yet arisen
4. the effort to develop further wholesome states which have already arisen.
The English word “Rapture and Pleasure” sounds to me like phenomenal pleasure. I wonder what is the Pali word translated, to grasp the real essence. “Abiding in pleasure in here and now” could it be – “in the present moment”? Hope Ayya could give us the Pali words for these two for further investigation.
I wish to make myself clear that I am not against any meditation retreats, but wanted to share my personal experiences and opinions on the right method of meditation for lay householders.
If I may do so, I wish to add and share this Sutta (Vera Sutta) which is so important for us lay Buddhist to know, as I find not many Buddhists know about this and on how to live in accordance with the Dhamma to prevent us from taking rebirth in the woeful realms (below human realm).
We should be more concern to obtain this “passport” to Stream Entry, as IMO, once we enter the Stream, then as what Buddha said, we will only take rebirths in Samsara for 7 more times before entering Pure Abodes (no more rebirth in Samsara) if we walk and practice the Path of Stream Entry according to what Buddha taught. As what Buddha said, we will not take rebirth into lower realms than human, which should be our first criteria as householders, unless one has his/her accumulated much merits of noble qualities in their previous lives and had the calling for renunciation that will make them already walking the Path of Stream Entry and with diligence they may become Arhats this life,if they have paramis of a Once Returner (I hope I am correct on this as I am not absolutely certain).
(There is a link to Stream Entry in details at the bottom of this Sutta)
This is how I interpret the practice as a householder. I am still learning and investigating the Dhamma and will appreciate any comments to straighten my unenlightened interpretation of the practice.Sadhu!
Buddy wrote: “my knowledge on the 8-fold Noble Path (8NP) was 1.Sila 2.Samadhi 3.Panna ”
Why not keep it simple and practice precepts, do some meditation, and listen/ read on the Buddha’s words / Sutta. If I only have time to take up three practices, these would be it.
Buddy wrote: “Calm /Peace. Its good, but bad because when we have attain this calm/peace, we will want it each time in our meditation and if we don’t get it we get agitated and frustrated esp when you are in a short retreat and just when you were about to get there, it was time to pack and go, and we yearn for the next retreat hoping to attain it. I find this sort of practice is possible for monks/nuns but not so practical for householders.”
One’s speculation about it is likely to be different than what it actually is. It is like trying to taste an exotic food through reading / studying about its recipe. Whatever you think it tastes like will not be the same as when you actually cooked the meal and put it in your mouth.
We can see in the Piti sutta that the Buddha recommended all his lay disciples ( not just the ones that are interested in awakening) to practice meditation to access the joy / rapture that comes from within. But this doesn’t mean that you have to go all the way to jhana to experience this joy ( rapture). The ones that practice for awakening is likely to need jhana though.
Some benefits of knowing how to feel inner peace from within oneself right now is that you are not so dependent on external things/ accumulating more things to temporarily gratify your mind. That means you might become less demanding on environmental resources. Also , you are less likely to wear yourself out from chasing after desires that doesn’t give rise to peace and contentment here & now. This way more of your energy can be directed toward things that truly matter, which is much fewer than many might have at the present.
Buddy wrote: “In fact, in our everyday chores/activities, IMO, we already have 1st & 2nd Jhanas in whatever we are doing. ”
There are some initial steps/ stages that needed to happen before you can even enter the 1st Jhana. AB divided into 7 steps/ stages before arriving at / entering Jhana.
1. Coming back to the Present
2. Being Present but with a quiet/ silent mind
Notice that 1-2 has more to do mindfulness ( sati) than concentration. You can be aware of everything that are going on right now ( ie.. How the body feels and the birds chirping ) . If you are not sitting in meditation, then it can be whatever that is in front of you.
3. Watching the breath
This is where awareness begin to narrow down to one object ( the breath only). You begin to feel some peacefulness and rejuvenating energy arising.
4. Full sustained attention on the Breath
5. Full sustained attention on the Beautiful Breath
4-5 is where strong piti (joy , rapture ) and sukkha ( inner happiness) arise from within .
6. Nimitta ( a sign that Jhana is close by, it can be a bright light, a blue pearl if your meditation object is a point in the forehead, something else if you take a kasina as your meditation object)
7. Enter Jhana
While in Jhana there is awareness , but not of the 5 senses or the 5 sense world. When you are aware of whatever you are doing while moving or sitting, it is only mindfulness ( sati) and not concentration ( samadhi) yet.
Buddy wrote: “IMO, to achieve 3rd & 4th Jhanas and beyond needs a lot of solitude and long hours and obviously one has to have a strong footing of Sila (virtues/morality)and the danger is we will not be able to function normally as householder.”
I think you can function even more effectively as a householder if you want to. The question is whether you want to or not. But let’s not speculate too much about 3rd and 4th jhana yet.
I find that what the world needs more urgently now is Metta meditation, R.Awareness and R.Mindfulness than dwelling in the pleasures of Jhanas. We say we need Jhanas for insight knowledges, but didn’t the Buddha have already expounded all the insight knoweledges (Dhamma/Truth) that needed to be known? Kamma,rebirths, dependant origination, 4 noble Truth, 8NP, Mahasatipatanna, 31 planes etc.? What is there to research and probe further?
Buddy wrote: ” We say we need Jhanas for insight knowledges, but didn’t the Buddha have already expounded all the insight knoweledges (Dhamma/Truth) that needed to be known?”
I believe the Buddha rediscovered the Noble Path for others to walk, that’s why a Buddha comes into the world to show others only when no one else knows the way . Reading about it is not sufficient for awakening to happen. One needs to walk the path. Take a yoga or tai chi class for example, if you just listen to all the theories behind it and watch the teacher demonstrates without practicing then it is not possible to experience the possitive effects.
Buddy wrote:”I find that what the world needs more urgently now is Metta meditation, R.Awareness and R.Mindfulness than dwelling in the pleasures of Jhana”
Meditation can be beneficial on many levels even if you are not yet ready to Awaken.
Many of us know how to find stimulation through activities or things outside ourselves. But not many people know how to access contentment from within or through simply being . This can lead to excessive doing which causes stress, anxiety, health issues, emotional imbalance, and imbalance in life.
On a personal level, when you learn to experience contentment from within , there is no need to continually chase after the wind. It becomes possible to live life one day at a time. Meditation is about experiencing contentment in this moment here and now, rather than sometimes in the near future.
On a more social level, studies show that mass meditation can help to reduce crime rates in the area.
Maybe for these reasons, the Buddha taught his lay disciples to experience joy/ rapture ( piti) from within through meditation. I believe people can take up whatever meditation object that is more suitable for them. It can be metta, the breath, or walking meditation , etc..Even if people decide to practice Jhana, it is still necessary to start with mindfulness / awareness at the beginning.
I know it is excellent if we could have the time and opportunity to be in a retreat conducive for Jhanas meditation. What I was trying to stress here was, we did not have to wait to be in a retreat to meditate.
Buddha clearly mentioned that we could do while sitting,standing,walking,reclining and that pointed his teaching to include householders who could not have one-pointedness in their daily chores (imagine, if we were driving on the road and we inclined to one pointedness of our breadth..wham!).
When I referred to r.a. and r.m., I did not mean external seeing,hearing,smelling,touching,thinking, but mental awareness i.e. internal awareness and mindfulness. Externals are those taught by Buddha when we see,just seeing/hear,just hearing and so on (i.e. do not judge or proliferate). I was stressing more in terms of practicality. If one could do this together with some retreats of Jhanas, would be excellent. By nature, our minds are more inclined to pleasures and resting than being mindful. I do not wish to go on arguing on my point as this would lead to animosity btw us. Just practice what is comfortable and relevant to oneself according to our needs and aspiration. With Blessings from the Triple Gem. The End.
Here I see another example that support the fact that virtues are pre-conditions for concentration.
“He is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration.
– AN 10.92 Vera Sutta
Buddy wrote:”I know it is excellent if we could have the time and opportunity to be in a retreat conducive for Jhanas meditation.”
The 7 steps toward jhana are divided into two parts ( Part I- 1,2,3, Part II-4-7). AB wrote that Part I ” is for those who want to meditate in order to relieve some of the heaviness of life but because of obstacles or disinclination, will not pursue meditation into the bliss states and enlightenment. Here I demonstrate that, even for beginner, meditation when practiced correctly generates considerable happiness.”
Just steps 2-3 alone can give rise to so much peace an joy if done properly. If a person just need to get to step 2 & 3 , there really is no need for a retreat lifestyle like that of the monastics who need to go to step 7 in order to develop a breakthrough in wisdom. Occasional weekend retreat or 9 days retreat is just fine if a person have time. Otherwise just practice it at home. That’s why the Buddha instructed any householders to meditate so that they can experience joy/ rapture from within. Of course, this is not referring to Samadhi / Jhana. It is only step 3 or 4 out of the 7 steps leading toward Jhana. I think that this is a great instruction from the Buddha. And Sariputta would also agree:
“When this was said, Ven. Sariputta said to the Blessed One, “It’s amazing, lord. It’s astounding, how well put that was by the Blessed One:” – Piti Sutta
Everyday a person nourish the body with food 3 times a day. Whenever we nourish the body with food, why not spend some time to nourish the mind with energy from stillness as well. We do this by allowing it to rest and settle into stillness during meditation. The mind cannot be made to feel satisfied or fulfilled by material forms or objects for long, because it is more like an energy frequency than a tangible form. It requires energy that come from stillness rather than things.
Some might think ‘ Is it too selfish to spend 3 x 30 mins a day to nourish the mind just like we spend on eating to nourish the body ?”
There is an important relationship between your thoughts and your actions. When you stay connected with stillness in whatever you do, then whatever you do will likely be in alignment with the peace and joy within yourself. It can be a different kind of doing that is more effective, and beneficial to others as well.
Buddy wrote:” What I was trying to stress here was, we did not have to wait to be in a retreat to meditate.”
That’s true, steps 1-2 can be done anytime ( driving, standing, walking, reclining, etc..) It is just coming back to the present (1), and being aware with a quiet mind (2). We do this at the beginning of sitting meditation as well.
Maybe in sitting meditation a person can take it to the next step and just become aware of the breath only(3). This should be done while in sitting meditation.
Buddy wrote:” I do not wish to go on arguing on my point as this would lead to animosity btw us. Just practice what is comfortable and relevant to oneself according to our needs and aspiration. With Blessings from the Triple Gem.”
Thank you for the blessing. This is just a discussion among fellow dhamma practitioners, there’s no need for hard feelings between us. May you be joyful and content in life.
iMeditation, sorry to intrude. According to Buddha, virtues is the pre-condition of concentration. Don’t you think we should concentrate in cultivating virtues first?
Buddha had conveyed a very simple but strong message to us here :
“These are the five forms of fear & animosity that are stilled.- Vera Sutta
The five forms are the observance of 5 precepts. With observation of 5 precepts, we could still our fear & animosity (enmity)i.e we will have no more fear and hatred. I find this 5 precepts can be applicable to all, regardless of religion. We have a choice to live a life free from fear and hatred. We should heed this important message by the Buddha.
Your moral conduct need to be pure to MAKE PROGRESS in meditation, not to BEGIN meditating. The more you keep your precepts or cultivate sila, the more it helps your meditation. Otherwise , thoughts such as remorse or guilt about the negative things you said or done might come up to hinder progress during meditation instead of peace and joy arising. That’s why we don’t leave out any parts from the Noble Eightfold Path , but usually practice meditation together with sila . Having an understanding of the sutta can give you a sense of direction. But we have to be careful not to misinterpret them. The good news is there are sutta study class videos and audios by AB and Bhikkhu Bodhi to help start people off in the right direction if they are having difficulties when reading alone .
iMeditation, I totally agree with you, and also on the Suttas study/reading.I find that there are a lot of paraphrasing, cross-repetitions in the Suttas and they are immaculately orderly,chronologically and straightforward, so one should not be intimidated by its complexity.The Suttas are like our torchlights.
On the 5 basic moral values (precepts), I was trying to drive home Buddha’s enlightened Message/Advice for practice by all, not only Buddhists, to create a more peaceful world conducive to our further spiritual practice and progress.
With Buddha’s wisdom on the 5 basic moral values, it is everyone’s responsibility to spread this wisdom to the world, so that we still have a human world to take rebirth in, in future. I may sound a bit too …(fill in whatever one thinks fit).
iMeditation, you said this earlier:-
“On a more social level, studies show that mass meditation can help to reduce crime rates in the area.”
Appreciate if you could support this claim with a solid backup anywhere or reference from the Suttas, as I am very interested to know the truth in it.
Without a doubt, if everyone observed the 5 basic moral values (precepts), the world crime rates would be drastically reduced.
One’s downfall is mentioned in the Parabhava Sutta.
In the many Suttas I have read so far, Buddha emphasized a lot on observing good virtues as conditions for good results. It is like cause and effect, with virtues as the cause and good results as the effect or alternatively, when there is condition, there is existence. Good conditions begets good existence or good results and bad conditions begets bad existence or bad results.Similarly, virtues (cause) as the condition for concentration (effect).
I think, this principle could be applied in everything including medical fields eg cause of illness – to treat the cause because when there is no condition there is no existence, as what Buddha expounded.
With this same principle, my analogy is, if the world is virtues, there will be no unwholesome occurrences in the world like crimes, disasters, poverty, wars etc.- no conditions for existences.
Lee Anne wrote:” iMeditation, you said this earlier:-
“On a more social level, studies show that mass meditation can help to reduce crime rates in the area.”
Appreciate if you could support this claim with a solid backup anywhere or reference from the Suttas,”
I was referring to a research I came across a while back. I am sure you can just google it. There are a lot of researches showing various health benefits of meditation as well. Of course, none of these research goes against the suttas in any way.
iMeditation, Noted. I agree meditation brings benefits health-wise, but not sure about prevention of crimes, perhaps it helps to prevent oneself from committing crimes.
The 5 basic moral values (precepts) are for us to refrain and restraint those unwholesome actions,thoughts and speech. Some books put them as “I undertake the training….” I think it should be refrain & restraint or abstain from, as we do not need to be trained for these innate values as we have innately conscience and natural instinct or consciousness in our minds to know that these are wrong and have discernment.
Regarding Bhikkhunis ordination, I think to move on, we lay Buddhists need to forgive both sides of the Sangha, as, to err is human,to forgive is divine. As long as one’s intention is pure, we don’t have to worry what people see. I came across this audio on Power of Forgiveness,very powerful as it could weed out our buried emotions, for sharing.
We can easily see the connection how our own thoughts effect our actions. For example, AB wrote that ” Thought, the inner conversation, is an object of the mind that can generate immense suffering. It can manifest as restlessness, remorse , doubt, desire, or ill will. As such, thought is at the heart of the five hindrances.” The Buddha said in the Dhammapada that ” Mind is the forerunner of all actions. All deeds are led by mind, created by mind. If one speaks or acts with a serene mind, happiness follows,”
However, what is difficult for us to see is how other’s thoughts can effect our own actions as well. For example, when a mass of people meditate to reduce the amount of negative thoughts they generate or give attention to / give engergy to, how could that contribute to decreasing negative actions in others.
Some might say that others thoughts can effect our actions only when it is expressed or shared by them. Otherwise , there is no way for others thoughts to effect our actions because we can’t receive it.
I believe that many of the thoughts that go through our minds are unknowingly picked up from the surrounding atmosphere and mistaken to be coming from ourselves. Very similar to a radio picking up sound frequencies . We can be effected by the positive and negative thoughts and emotions that other people generated.
The Buddha said ,” Delightful is the place where Arahants dwell, be it village or forest, cavern or open field.” – Dhammapada ( The Arahant )
The practice of sending positive, kind and loving thoughts/ intentions toward others ( metta ) was encouraged by the Buddha. The reason might be that the thought energy that we generate can benefit others even if we don’t openly transmit it to them verbally in person.
The same goes with picking up negative thoughts. One concept in the Buddha’s teaching is that thoughts are not self. The nature of the mind (citta ) is pure and undefiled . When kilesas visit the mind, it becomes defiled.
“What is the pure, undefiled , and radiant citta ? In the suttas, the Buddha consistently described the mind on emerging from the jhanas as ” pure and undefiled” (MN 51,24). A citta that is free of the five hindrances is also called ” radiant” ( pabhassara) ( SN 46,33). Therefore, the pure, undefiled, and radiant citta, according to the Buddha, refers to the mind on emerging from the Jhanas.”- Ajahn Brahm
What about the thoughts that we generated from our own mind, can we consider that as belonging to self and identify with as self?
Many of these thoughts are simply what we learned from the environment we grew up in, from the people we associate with. It is more or less part of a process , but not exactly belonging to oneself.
Eckhart Tolle also said “Thoughts that goes through your mind are linked to the collective mind of the culture you live in, humanity as a whole. They are not your thoughts as such but you picked most of them up from the collective. So you identify with thinking, and the identification with thinking becomes ‘ego’. ”
Although many spiritual teachers don’t directly fight crimes to improve the world from without, but they tend to address the root cause of people’s destructive actions, which is the defiled mind from within. There is definitely a connection between our inner world and outer world. Also, we are effected by each others unexpressed / expressed thoughts and emotions, and therefore, actions.
About the Bhikkhuni ordination, I would like to assume that the outburst was due to a misunderstanding of each other and of the suttas. Regardless of who is right and wrong, AB has offered his hand in reconciliation and suggested that they get together and have a forgiveness ceremony from the beginning. Perhaps it is time that his fellow Ajahn Chah’s disciples respond to this offer. It would only shows that they have been spending time in meditation and develop the inner strength to forgive/ let go. At the same time, it would be nice to see some gesture of support for females who want to embark on the Noble Path because the reasons for obstructing them all these years are extremely unsubstantial.
iMeditation,I feel your pain.It is very painful and sad for everyone.I think the clash was caused by the factor of decision-making, with one being overzealous/anxious and the other being too impulsive/drastic.
I find that both decisions were considered pure and for the sake of Buddhism, as long as it did not fall under the category listed down by the Buddha in the Sutta, as Wrong Livelihood – i.e. a)Scheming b)Persuading c) Hinting d)Belittling e)Pursuing gain with gain.
It was no one’s fault or mistake and with so much metta in them I think something good would come out of it and hope that they would renew their “marriage vow”.
Like you suggested, the antidote is forgiveness ceremony (with confetti),if not, suggest, perhaps the lay devotees had to take the initiative to make it work amicably, so that forgiveness done and all can move on harmoniously in a world without borders. Wish you luck on this.
Thank you for your sympathy. But really, I am not experiencing any pain lately. Perhaps when this first occurred a long time ago, but meditation carried me through it.
Personally, I don’t believe that ordination was impulsive. It was carried out with years of thorough research on the subject of Bhikkhuni ordination. Ajahn Sujato even had enough time to complete a very thick book on Bhikkhuni Ordination. Ajahn Brahm consulted various prominent Ajahns in Thailand. Most of the response seems to be that if it is in accordance with the vinaya, with dharma,and if it is a helpful and compassionate thing to do ,then there is no reason for anyone to want to make a big deal out of it.
Ajahn Brahm was accused of non-consultation solely on the fact that it is without the permission from WPP. Ajahn Brahm consulted many people, the decision can’t be based solely on WPP’s opinion. The other factor we have to consider is the Buddha’s dhamma. Some might think that the Buddha is no longer here physically, the one that AB needs to obey is the monk that ordained a few years before him. However, I feel that even WPP is not higher than the Buddha and dhamma. The drastic action from WPP shows a lack of consultation with the Buddha’s dhamma. One simply cannot say ” Well, he didn’t obey our rules so we can do as we please even if he abides by the dhamma”. WPP is not an independent company. It is one of the Buddhist monasteries and therefore suppose to follow the Buddha’s dhamma . Hierarchy was introduced to the sangha later on by others. The Buddha actually didn’t appoint any monks to have absolute authority over other monks. He said before passing:
” Monks, abide becoming a light and refuge to yourself, not searching another refuge, consider the Teaching as a light, a refuge, and do not search another Teaching”
I believe many lay-people that support bhikkhunis have taken the initiative by writing letters and suggested they sit down together during the WAM . AB sent the invitation for reconciliation yet haven’t receive any response.
It would be unfortunate if the fellow disciples of Ajahn Chah can’t get together and have a cup of tea after years of living toghether. After all, there is only a handful of them. Hopefully with a little time and meditation , the urge to reply to AB’s letter of goodwill will arise.
iMeditation, agree,keeping silent is also not healthy and helpful.It appeared to me that the decision made by AB was not an impulsive one but one decision made out of enthusiasm.Just trust time to settle their differences. It takes two to tango.
I don’t think this will stop the Bhikkhunis from growing and I believe the Bhikkhunis could contribute and strengthen the Sassana in propagating the Dhamma and in restoring Mother Earth. I am so tired of going back and forth on this,and I would like to end this dialogue here. May all of us be well and happy.
Dear Ayya ,
Perhaps you have misunderstood my point about Ajahn Chah. Someone said that
monks/nuns should have have some kind of training from a recognized University of Buddhism before being allowed to teach. Ajahn Chah was extremely knowledgable but didn’t attend a University. If we go by the standard suggested above, then Ajahn Chah and people like him wouldn’t qualify. That would be a great loss to many. Therefore, it is not a good idea to abide by the above standard.
It is obvious that you can learn from many sources . For enlightened ones , they are able to go within themselves to know things that they haven’t been taught in this life before.
Ayya Dharma wrote: “There are two factors for right view to arise. Right view first come from education (hearing from others) and from wise reflection or systematic attention (yoniso manisakara).”
I have pointed this out in another post on right view. One aspect is learning from another Noble one ( learning from the outside). From what I learned , the meaning for ” yoniso manisakara ” is ” the work of the mind going back to the source” . This refers to a knowing that comes from within the mind after having developed samadhi to still the mind. The emphasis here is AFTER, and not during Samadhi. So you are not ” blanking out” . Instead the Buddha describes the mind after emerging from jhana as:
” purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability” -Bhayabherava Sutta
With that purified mind one is then able to ” see things as they truly are” / develop Right Knowledge to become Liberated. This was laid out by the Buddha in the sequence leading to awakening ( Upanisa sutta). This pattern was also repeated in numerous important suttas.
Right Knowledge and Right Liberation ( supramundane) are less likely to develop without first applying Right View and Right Intention ( mundane) along with the other parts of the Eightfold Path.
From your post above about the importance of a PHD because of Right Knowledge , I thought you meant that a PHD would contribute to it’s development rather than the Eightfold Path. Perhaps a PHD in Buddhism might be helpful to develop the mundane ( aspect of) Right View ( learning from others). But Right Thought ( supramundane) has more to do with the aspect where you go within to know instead of education from without.
Then again, these days there are many ways and outlets to learn from ” the words of another ” . A PHD in Buddhism is helpful at best but not really necessary . After all, you get to taste the dhamma or experience contentment and wisdom that give rise to the end of suffering through practicing ( meditation, develop sila) , I wouldn’t recommend that people should/ need to go get a PHD in Buddhism. Even illiterate people can become enlightened through going beyond thoughts in meditation and some basic instruction about the dhamma ( also practice sila).
If I can choose between having a Buddhist University in town and a Meditation Retreat Center in town, I would choose the retreat. To learn the theories people can learn from home or anywhere ( interactions or not). But meditation requires some external conducive conditions . Also, by observing sila and meditation they can directly taste the dhamma ( Of course, that doesn’t mean that they can skip hearing the ” words of another “). It would be great to have one in every city for people to access.
There is a typo in the sentence “But Right Thought ( supramundane) has more to do with the aspect where you go within to know instead of education from without.”
It should be Right Knowledge
Dear I meditation,
yoniso manisakara is an ancient Buddhist term and not to be translated literally. Here is the definition of this term in the Sutta itself:
67 . “nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi yena anuppannā vā kusalā dhammā uppajjanti uppannā vā akusalā dhammā parihāyanti yathayidaṃ, bhikkhave, yonisomanasikāro. yoniso, bhikkhave, manasi karoto anuppannā ceva kusalā dhammā uppajjanti uppannā ca akusalā dhammā parihāyantī”ti.”
Wise attention is the factor that makes wholesome states which have not arisen, arise, and unwholesome states which have arisen, decrease in the mind.
A.I,2 subhanimittaṃ. subhanimittaṃ, bhikkhave, ayoniso manasi karoto anuppanno ceva kāmacchando uppajjati uppanno ca kāmacchando bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattatī”ti. paṭhamaṃ.
paṭighanimittaṃ, bhikkhave, ayoniso manasi karoto anuppanno ceva byāpādo uppajjati uppanno ca byāpādo bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattatī”ti. dutiyaṃ.
ayonisomanasikāro. ayoniso, bhikkhave, manasi karoto anuppannā ceva vicikicchā uppajjati uppannā ca vicikicchā bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya saṃvattatī”ti. pañcamaṃ.
And from M I, 1 : “jānato ahaṃ, bhikkhave, passato āsavānaṃ khayaṃ vadāmi, no ajānato no apassato. kiñca, bhikkhave, jānato kiñca passato āsavānaṃ khayaṃ vadāmi? yoniso ca manasikāraṃ ayoniso ca manasikāraṃ. ayoniso, bhikkhave, manasikaroto anuppannā ceva āsavā uppajjanti, uppannā ca āsavā pavaḍḍhanti; yoniso ca kho, bhikkhave, manasikaroto anuppannā ceva āsavā na uppajjanti, uppannā ca āsavā pahīyanti.
`idaṃ dukkha’nti yoniso manasi karoti, `ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo’ti yoniso manasi karoti, `ayaṃ dukkhanirodho’ti yoniso M manasi karoti, `ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā’ti yoniso manasi karoti. tassa evaṃ yoniso manasikaroto tīṇi saṃyojanāni pahīyanti sakkāyadiṭṭhi, vicikicchā, sīlabbataparāmāso. ime vuccanti, bhikkhave, āsavā dassanā pahātabbā.
Ayya Dharma wrote: ” manisakara is an ancient Buddhist term and not to be translated literally.”
It is how the term was used literally in various suttas, so there is no reason why it shouldn’t be translated as it is. For example, “The Discourse on All the Taints” and SN 12.10.
58“Pubbeva me, bhikkhave, sambodhā anabhisambuddhassa bodhisattasseva sato etadahosi— ‘kicchaṃ vatāyaṃ loko āpanno jāyati ca jīyati ca mīyati ca cavati ca upapajjati ca. Atha ca panimassa dukkhassa nissaraṇaṃ nappajānāti jarāmaraṇassa. Kudāssu nāma imassa dukkhassa nissaraṇaṃ paññāyissati jarāmaraṇassā’ti?
59Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, etadahosi— ‘kimhi nu kho sati jarāmaraṇaṃ hoti, kiṃpaccayā jarāmaraṇan’ti? Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo— ‘jātiyā kho sati jarāmaraṇaṃ hoti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇan’ti.
60Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, etadahosi— ‘kimhi nu kho sati jāti hoti…pe… bhavo… upādānaṃ… taṇhā… vedanā… phasso… saḷāyatanaṃ… nāmarūpaṃ… viññāṇaṃ… saṅkhārā honti, kiṃpaccayā saṅkhārā’ti? Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo— ‘avijjāya kho sati saṅkhārā honti, avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā’ti.
61Iti hidaṃ avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā; saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ…pe… evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti. ‘Samudayo, samudayo’ti kho me, bhikkhave, pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhuṃ udapādi, ñāṇaṃ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādi.
62Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, etadahosi— ‘kimhi nu kho asati jarāmaraṇaṃ na hoti, kissa nirodhā jarāmaraṇanirodho’ti? Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo— ‘jātiyā kho asati jarāmaraṇaṃ na hoti, jātinirodhā jarāmaraṇanirodho’ti.
63Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, etadahosi— ‘kimhi nu kho asati jāti na hoti…pe… bhavo… upādānaṃ… taṇhā… vedanā… phasso… saḷāyatanaṃ… nāmarūpaṃ… viññāṇaṃ… saṅkhārā na honti, kissa nirodhā saṅkhāranirodho’ti? Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, yoniso manasikārā ahu paññāya abhisamayo— ‘avijjāya kho asati saṅkhārā na honti, avijjānirodhā saṅkhāranirodho’ti.
64Iti hidaṃ avijjānirodhā saṅkhāranirodho; saṅkhāranirodhā viññāṇanirodho…pe… evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti. ‘Nirodho, nirodho’ti kho me, bhikkhave, pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhuṃ udapādi, ñāṇaṃ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādī”ti. Dasamo.- SN 12.10
With a purified mind, whatever the person wants to know / direct his attention toward , it is possible to know ( be it past lives, nature of existence, self, or God, etc..)
If a person direct his/ her attention on the lottery number for this week, then knowing that wouldn’t lead to liberating wisdom /Right Knowledge. Instead, the Buddha suggested in MN2 that the person directs his/ her attention toward knowing the origin/ source of suffering or tracing suffering down to it’s source ( complete with the solution, and the way to proceed) to help remove the taints.
In SN 12.10 the Buddha direct his attention to trace arisen phenomena down to their origin / source .He called this yoniso manasikara.
Tracing down the origin of suffering ( 4 Noble Truth) and tracing down the origin of arisen phenomena ( Dependent Origination) was what the Buddha did to lead him to a breakthrough by wisdom , to make “wholesome states which have not arisen, arise, and unwholesome states which have arisen, decrease in the mind.” Yoniso Manasikara was the term he used to called it. And it is exactly what the term translated , literally.
” Focus one’s attention on the source” / yoniso manasikara is the right means to put you on the right track to wisdom that liberates ( rather than directing our attention toward other things such as the lottery to know the winning numbers).
One understands what things are suitable for fixing one’s attention on to have the knowledge of origin and cessation of the taints.
For example , Four Noble Truth, Dependent Origination, 5 aggregates , 4 Focus of Mindfulness etc…This leads to liberating wisdom ( rather than countless of other things such as who will win the next election or world cup, etc ..)
It is possible to have a purified mind without directing one’s attention on the right subject so that knowledge of the cessation of the taints will arise or for liberation to occur .
yesterday I was to hurry to leave my computer to talk with the visitors of our monastery, that is why the business was half way….
Yoniso means from where it begin (yoni literally means womb), somewhat we can call it the source, the origin. Manasikara is ‘making in the mind’, hence ‘consideration’, reflection, or paying attention to’. The 2 words go together to denote a kind of attitude which lead to wholesome/ skillful states. With our five physical senses and one inner sense, we constantly come into contact with thing around us, and our attention are divided in different directions (distracted mind) or focused on one phenomenon (concentrated mind). Attention (manasikara)is neither wholesome nor unwholesome, its just a mental factor serves as a necessary condition for consciousness arises. (well, this seems heavily Abhidhamma and would be come distasted to someone who dislike that way of analysis; sorry, i can not make it easier to swallow).
In Buddhist psychology, consciousness (viññāṇa) is the place one stores different kinds of kamma as seeds for one’s potential birth(s) in every moment. Consciousness is not something arises by itself or spring up out of nothing. It arises dependent on the cause and conditions. For example, on seeing a beautiful object (rūpa), one has a pleasant feeling (vedanā). The perception (saññā) of beauty and pleasant feeling make one likes (saṅkhāra) the object, immediately one has a good impression (viññāṇa) at the experience. That good impression lingers in one consciousness as a potential which might motivate one to have more of it. One might consider how to possess the object (greed) and keep that pleasure for oneself only (selfishness). If one has it, one takes delight in it and perpetuals one’s greed, and fears to lose one’s possession over it. One also feels aversion at the sign or potential of losing one’s possession. On the contrary, the disagreeable object (rūpa) causes a bad/unpleasant feeling (vedanā), and the perception (saññā) of it makes one feel disliking (saṅkhāra) due to the bad impression (viññāṇa) one has. This might further make one averse (dosa, hate) to such an experience in the future. Both of these two kinds of responses are Ayoniso manasikara which, as we have seen, lead to unskilful responses(akusala), underlying them are the negligence (pamāda) and ignorance (avijjā) about the true nature of the object and experience. Therefore, an unskilful response will create unwholesome states of mind. It is termed unwise or unsystematic attention (ayoniso manasikāra).
Well, Yoniso manasikara is the wise attention, as you have understood, make right knowledge arise: it is the knowledge of Dukkha, origin of Dukkha, absent of dukkha and the way this happen. We can see it in causative or relational mode as you cited in the quoted sutta. In short, Yoniso manasikara is the attention that makes us see things/events correctly and it enable us to make a positive response (kusala kamma) which leads to happiness.
Dear Ayya Dharma,
“Yoniso means from where it begin (yoni literally means womb), somewhat we can call it the source, the origin. Manasikara is ‘making in the mind’, hence ‘consideration’, reflection, or paying attention to’. ”
I believe we are on the same page on this.
Manasikara can be : bring to mind, focusing on it ,attention,keep your attention on it, observing.
Yoniso can be : down to the origin, womb, source.
bring to mind the source /origin.
focus one’s attention on the source,
Use your attention to look at the source, or as AB puts it ” the work of the mind going back to the source”
Directing our attention on Dependent Origination , Four Noble Truth, 4 Focus of Mindfulness, etc.. to realize its origin and cessation is considered wise ( wise attention). Directing the purified mind on other unnecessary subject doesn’t lead to a breakthrough in wisdom/ liberation can be unwise ( unwise attention) in this context or when it comes to arousing liberating wisdom after emerging from a Jhana.
Dear I meditation,
You made quite a good research. i like this spirit of inquiry. Continuing it. Sadhu!
Ayya, In this Sekha-patipada Sutta :
It explained very clearly with step-by-step practice on how to arrive at Jhanas. It should be effortless (it says: “at will- without trouble or difficulty”) subject to all the pre-virtueous conditions fulfilled.
From this Sutta, I now understand what it meant by “purity in equanimity and mindfulness” as stated in Sallekha Sutta.
If I did not misinterpret it, this Sutta is in accordance with the 8-fold Noble Path. It explained very clearly here how to walk the 8-fold Path. One has to be very impeccably noble and steadfast. It is strictly an every moment cultivation of virtues, restraints and mindfulness on a daily basis, and the end result is the 4 Jhanas that enabled one to see the reality of existence. Hence, I regard Jhanas here that it is effortless and will come naturally after all those pre-virteous and noble conditions fulfilled, a simile of the fruits we get by first sowing the right seed and caring and watering it until it grows to a tree and the end result is Fruits i.e. the 4 Jhanas which is the door to Wisdom (seeing reality of existence).
This Sutta is so beneficial in our understanding of Jhanas (no suppression of defilements but eradication of defilements are its pre-conditions). That is why studying the Suttas is so important for Right View! I am so happy my doubts on Jhanas are cleared. Eureka!
Yes, it is, Lee Ann,
learning scriptures is one of the key factors to dispel doubt in our mind. Keep that spirit of inquiry, but at the same time, put knowledge into practice, too. And you will see the benefit here and now (Svakhato Bhagavato Dhamma: Sanditthiko, akaliko, ehipasika, opannayiko, paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi). Once, you see it, you do not need to belief in what people say right or wrong.
Dear Ayya, I owe my gratitute to Ayya for posting the Sallekha Sutta to us that led me to search further and later bumped into this Sutta. I cannot thank you enough for dispelling darkness with light. Highest gratitute also goes to those Translators of the Suttas into English eg Bhikkhu Thanissaro, Bhikkhu Bodhi and many others.
I wish to support Sanghamitta in a small way by contributing according to my affordability to partly sponsor a Bhikkhuni for higher learning in Sutta Studies to enable her to teach from the original Suttas in future. Anumodana.
I think, just like school teachers,they had to have relevant qualifications before they were allowed to teach students. I am not saying that all monastics must have qualifications. Only those who wanted to teach and this could apply to lay Dhamma teachers.
Nowadays, there are Buddhism classes and courses available for us lay buddhists. We are more fortunate than those during Ajahn Chah’s contemporary. These days, we are even more fortunate to have the internet with so much Dhamma available to us online, to speed up our Right View.
Monks/nuns also had to learn the Dhamma first and it might take a lifetime to learn to gain Right View. To complete the 8-fold Noble Path might take us many lives to complete, as first we have to be a Stream Entry. With this understanding, we lay people should not pressure and expect the monks/nuns to attain Arhat or Enlightenment within one lifetime, unless one is already a Non-Returner this lifetime. During Buddha’s time, all his monks were creme-la-cream as Buddha had the fully-enlightened privilege to select his monks who had in their previous lives perfected the Path and only needed one or two discourse of the Dhamma to become Arhat. Nowadays, we don’t have the Buddha to select.
In the 8-fold Path, only after having Right View could one progress to make the Right Effort and after perfected all the Right Silas could one easily practice all the Right Bhavanas in that orderly manner, and Panna follow suit effortlessly. Buddha himself took many rebirths before HIS KARMA was ripen for Enlightenment, as Siddharta was a Non-Returner.
” I think, just like school teachers,they had to have relevant qualifications before they were allowed to teach students. ”
I agree that both the words of the Buddha and meditation are important. Neither one should be left out. I think the monastic lifestyle was set up in a way that enables monastics to do both.
Before passing, the Buddha said:
” Monks, abide becoming a light and refuge to yourself, not searching another refuge, consider the Teaching as a light, a refuge, and do not search another Teaching”
I believe this is a very wise instruction from the Buddha. And there are monastics who want to follow this instruction and learn from the Dhamma on their own at the monastery. It wouldn’t be right if these people are not allowed to teach.
How do we know which teacher has the right understanding of sutta. If they don’t then it is like the blind leading the blind, and both would fall into a ditch. Monastics should have the option to choose when and if they want to study the sutta on their own or in school without removing their right to teach if they decide to be ” a light and refuge” to themselves . But either way, teachers should know the words of the Buddha ( and practice them). They are like messengers that deliver the message of the Buddha.
” In the 8-fold Path, only after having Right View could one progress to make the Right Effort and after perfected all the Right Silas could one easily practice all the Right Bhavanas in that orderly manner, and Panna follow suit effortlessly. Buddha himself took many rebirths before HIS KARMA was ripen for Enlightenment, as Siddharta was a Non-Returner.”
From what I learned, Siddhartha was not a Non-Returner . If he was, then he woudn’t return to earth to take birth. He also said that he had been to all the realms before but he has never been to the Pure Abode. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be here (on earth). And that in all the realms , even in the Brahma realm people have to come back to be reborn on earth and practice again. So he doesn’t teach monastic disciples to aim for heaven or Brahma realm.
My Mistake on Non- Returner. It should be Once-Returner (one more rebirth). Sadhu.
My belief in Dhamma education is to twart wrong views to protect the Dhamma. It is our responsibility to protect the Dhamma so that the Dhamma will still be available to us in future.
“Rapture and Pleasure” is a common translation of Piti & Sukha in Pali. They are the two mental factors presence in 1st to 3rd Jhana, but they are absence in the 4th Jhana when there is only equanimity and one-pointed-ness of the mind. The phrase: “Abiding in pleasure in here and now” is the translation of Pali pphrase: Dittha-dhamma-sukha-viharati.
This is an excerpt from Sallekkha sutta (M.8): Ṭhānaṃ kho panetaṃ, cunda, vijjati yaṃ idhekacco bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihareyya. Tassa evamassa— ‘sallekhena viharāmī’ti. Na kho panete, cunda, ariyassa vinaye sallekhā vuccanti. Diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārā ete ariyassa vinaye vuccanti.
In many of classic discourses (e.g, MN. 51, 52, 53, 125, etc) the Buddha always recommended to acquire Saddha (have faith in th Buddha-Dhamma & noble Sangha), then to practice Sila consisting in observing one’s set of precepts strictly, unharmful mode of living, moderate in eating. This is said one has completed in the stage of virtue (silakkhandha) which will enable the practitioner to experience an inner happiness due to being pure & blamelessness (ajjhattaṃ anavajjasukhaṃ paṭisaṃvedeti.) guarding one’s senses, then be devoted to wakefulness which in turn, give the practitioner a kind of happiness that is not dependent on the external objects (ajjhattaṃ abyāsekasukhaṃ paṭisaṃvedeti.)
The next stage is the practice of mindfulness and clear-comprehension (sati-sampajañña), then put forth effort to purge out unwholesome states in one’s mind. When the five hindrances & unwholesome tendencies which weaken the mind are abandoned, one might enter 1st Jhana in which one abides in a state of joy & happiness born of seclusion (vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ), then 2 nd jhana with the happiness born of concentration (samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ) ,then 3rd jhana with a pleasant abiding but remain equanimity and being mindful (‘upekkhako satimā sukhavihārī’ti). In the 4th jhana, it is described as contain neither pain-nor pleasure but the purity of mindfulness born of equanimity (adukkhamasukhaṃ upekkhāsatipārisuddhiṃ). With this utter purified & unified mind, the practitioner now can develop super-knowledge (vijja, 6 kinds of vijja).
Note that the practice of jhana is not exclusive for monks, nuns and ascetics of highly developed in morality (sila) and mental disciplines (Bhavana or Adhicitta sikkha or in relation to the noble path, it is termed Samadhi sikkha) consists of right mindfulness, r. effort and right concentration.
In Dandabhumi sutta (MN 125, The grade to be trained), after abandoned the five hindrance & the imperfections (upakkilesa) of the mind, the recommendable practice is the Satipatthana consisting in contemplation of the body, feelings, mind’s states, and Dhamma. Second, 3rd and 4th jhanas and 6 kind of vijja (super-knowledges) are mentioned after the four-folds-mindfulness.
Well, to different people, the Buddha advices different ways. The formula of practices are different for each individual depend on how that person’s inclination or type of character.
As I know through reading early texts, there are quite a number of lay practitioners attained super-knowledges.
Enough for now. i have to meditate to rest and abide in calm and peace. Peace to all of you.
I just wanted to comment on the number of siladhara leaving or disrobing from ABM and CBM. I rejoice at the news. We all have to move on in our lives – and I would think its especially healthy for spiritual aspirants to not get stuck with an idea – becoming something (a nun in a particular tradition) – and getting stuck in a place because of it The Buddha said become nothing to free youself. Siladhara (a creation of the Forest Sangha tradition – need to ordain as Bhikkhuni) and follow the Buddha’s teaching – not the Thai FS. Soemone mentioned co-dependent relationships in earlier posts – and that really struck a chord with me seeing what went on here. This seemed to me a very co-dependent group of women. They want to change the men/tradition instead of stepping out and getting on with what the Buddha taught. Ajahn Vajiro has created bad karma for himself. There is mysogyny in the English monasteries – and also racism (against western women) from the Thai community. Any women (lay and monastic )who support these monasteries need to get out and move onto something much more inkeeping with the Buddhas teaching. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but its true.
Sadhu Libby, this is absolutely right: “We all have to move on in our lives – and I would think its especially healthy for spiritual aspirants to not get stuck with an idea – becoming something (a nun in a particular tradition) – and getting stuck in a place because of it ..” I hope many Buddhist understand this, and there would not be the discrimination in the name of tradition or culture.
I think no one knows what is right and what is wrong and who is right and who is wrong on this controversial issue. We cannot go on living bearing grudges over this still controversial issue as this is samsara. We have a choice to move forward positively by doing what is important for the 4 innocents nuns who only wanted to be ordained and not to go against anyone. If they are considered not valid, then have them ordained again in a tradition that is valid. Why had it done in a tradition that prohibited it? For example, if we knew certain society or country had death sentence for drug trafficking, are we going to go there to commit this offence and later justify that their law is uncivilised with this informed knowledge and awareness?
The main purpose is for the 4 nuns to achieve their holy aspiration. This would not have happened if this was done in Sri Lankan lineage as there were already such practices. So, no point blaming others? I see it as just one unwise bad decision. That’s all. Hope we can all let go of this ugly chapter and move on with harmony.
Typo: This would not have happened if this was done in Sri Lankan lineage…
Yes, the Siladhara are moving on.Hence why they are all disrobing and leaving.
Laywomen at ABM and Chithurst should also move on.
Why support male monks who hate, use and disrespect you, just because you are female? There are pleanty of other Buddhist sanghas out there for laywomen to go to who fully support female monastics.
For a laywoman, staying with ABM or Chithurst is like staying in an abusive marriage. Better to get out and be self-sufficient. Then perhaps the male monks might begin to realise their abusive ways. Who needs them.
Anne, it looked like we lay people are more frustrated than the Sangha members and we are more adversely affected as our mindfulness are not as strong as theirs to defend our anger and hatred.
I think there should be a paradigm shift in the mentality of the monks/nuns. After listening to some of the audiotalks by Ven. Dr. K Sri Dhammananda, it is important for monks/nuns to undergo a form of academic education in Buddhism, like what Ven. Dr.did, who progressed spiritually with first educating himself in the Suttas and Pali. With this education, he had transformed so many people’s lives (I heard)some save their marriages, some from suicides etc with his proficient teachings and understanding of the Dhamma. His Dhamma power in transforming people’s way of life is more powerful than any psychic power put together. He owed his Dhamma understanding to his education in Pali Studies and Sutta Studies with his passion for Dhammaduta works. The Sangha members should stay united and not divided.
Anne, I think we must also try to understand and have compassion for those monks in the Forest Traditions that their priorities are to liberate themselves and try to attain Arahants in this lifetime and they find that their strict guarded practices and their rules with many testimonies (their predecessors), are more conducive for them to achieve without unnecessary external distractions and frills.
They have their reasons, aspirations and rights too, and we should respect that too. If some nuns are not agreeable to those kind of practices, they are free to join other monasteries that do not emphasize strictly on their kind of strict forest meditation practices and tudong practices that are more practical for monks than nuns.
I think they are strictly forest monks and hermits dedicating their whole practices to strict forest meditations and not so much doing welfare services , Dhammaduta works or associating and involving too much with lay people and worldly affairs.
Anne, please stop attacking those monks, they are really very nice and gentle people. It breaks my heart to hear all the abuses hurled at them. It is very bad karma for you.
Lee-Anne, Why are you in such denial/defensive over just hearing the truth? I have said nothing abusive, I just called a spade a spade. Why does that threatn you? It is those monks who thwart and deny female monastics spiritual aspirants that have the bad karma, not me. Stop trying to scare or threaten me with empty fearmongering.
I’m not angry or feeling hatred at all. You project those feelings onto me. I am very content and happy with my spiritual path, but, thank you for your concern 🙂
But why do you defend monks that hate and disrespect you Lee-Ann? You are a laywoman and yet you defend the very men that would never give you equality? That sounds very co-dependent to me.
Isn’t it easy to sink into the comfort of familiarity? Familiarity with those who have been our family and friends, what we have learned from them and forget that the 8Fold path is a commitment to looking more deeply? To investigating the truth, beyond Bhikkhu Bodhi and Thanissaro? (even their translations can be flawed. Does the average practitioner understand the implications of a flawed translation of the Suttas? (Do I?))
To shed comfort and “identification” with the familiar…including our beloved A/C Ajahns…run away from this comfort, turn and run…there may be loving kindness there but there is no freedom there…freedom is a comfort in uncertainty and not resting until we have untied every last knot…and be among those who encourage us fully,consciously, diligently.
What does that mean?
The path is about much more than the Ajahns and the 8folds and 4folds and Jhanas and bringing Dana.
“Buddhism” is full of contradictions and the Buddha’s teachings have – like the teaching of almost every other religious founder – been redacted …
…who among us can claim to have right view?
…who among us can claim “my Ajahn” as having right view? (whose Ajahn would even want us to make such a claim? 🙂
Spiritually, we are lucky to be women (if I may propose a view.:-)) Because Sangsara does not allow us to fall asleep for too long…
Appreciating the exchanges…there is much encouraging of investigation there…
Anne, I am not defending them, just hoping there would be compromise,understanding and reconciliation. Like Ayya advised, why get stuck in this or that tradition? Dhamma has no tradition. Move on.
Perhaps, those nuns or women aspirants should join Ayya Dharma’s monastery Sanghamittarama for Bhikkhunis only and have a new life and continue the Sanghamitta theravada lineage that existed in Sri Lanka.Who knows? Perhaps the Bhikkhunis Sangha could be revived from there. Let’s move on for our ladies sake, as Buddha said Dhamma is our only refuge, no other refuge. Traditions are not our refuge. Why get stuck there?
That was exatly what I was saying Lee-Ann, female monastics and laywomen need to move on from ABM and Chithurst and go to Buddhist sanghas where they are supported and welcomed.
Anne, Buddha advised us not to harm oneself and others. We can be assertive in our goals to revive Bhikkhunis in the most harmless manner without causing harm (or hurt) to others to achieve our vision and mission. Buddha said if we harm others, we are actually harming ourselves. I am sure everyone will rejoice and welcome Bhikkhunis if we do it wisely, harmlessly and with pure hearts and intentions,without unwise confrontations, a simile like a bee getting the nectar of the flower without harming the flower and its petals.Bee and flower both benefit. Way to go.
Lee-Ann, it is the UK Ajahns that are harming the sangha by causing these recent female monastics to disrobe…..certainly not my wee little comments.
Let’s not shoot the messenger 😉
Anne, this Bhikkhuni issue is a very complicated one and still a very controversial one. Experts like Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Thanissaro are also finding it difficult to resolve now with conflicting interpretations of the Sutta on this issue.
Obviously, I am not an expert in this area, but from what I gathered here and from my understanding, there are many factors for consideration i.e
– Not all the Sangha community have agreed to it yet eg Tibet,Burma,some in Sri Lanka and Thailand.
-The notion that some believe that it cannot be resuscitated after the extinction of Bhikkhuni Order in the Theravada Tradition.
– The 8 lifetime conditions by Buddha to Mahapajati Gotami (Buddha’s aunt)and her Bhikkhunis.
– The major religions of other faiths have yet to have a female Pope or Imam etc.
– The respective cultures and monastic rules of each country.
With the above, it is not an easy thing to decide unanimously that can be applied to all. It is not something that we can execute as we wish. Being a buddhist from Asia, I think I can appreciate those western monks’ concerns. I understand that they were ordained in the Thai Theravada Forest Tradition and I think they did not wish to offend their fellow monks and violate their rules in Thailand neither do they wish to dishonor the 8 lifetime conditions.
We need to appreciate their cultures and background. In Thailand, males are encouraged to become temporary monks according to their beliefs, for good luck, without much emphasis on learning the Suttas during the early days. As most of their predecessors (mostly illiterate) emphasized on meditation to become Arahants, this had become their way of practice, without first having Right View, exactly like those Yogis in India that practice Jhanas meditation.
I think with the Dhamma evolving, this kind of traditional practices will phase-off and new generation will emerge. It will be a gradual transition to see change in their cultures and practices. So, it depends on the needs of each society and culture. No one is to be blamed and no one wants to hurt and be hurt. So, the only way is to have your own way like the song – I did it my way…
Dear Lee Ann,
Lee Ann wrote: “Experts like Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Thanissaro are also finding it difficult to resolve now ”
Can you be more specific ? Is it anything we haven’t addressed before?
Lee Ann wrote: “Not all the Sangha community have agreed to it yet eg Tibet,Burma,some in Sri Lanka and Thailand.”
Since not all the Sangha community have agreed to ban bhikkhuni ordination yet, why should we go ahead with banning it already?
Lee Ann wrote : “the notion that some believe that it cannot be resuscitated after the extinction of Bhikkhuni Order in the Theravada Tradition.”
There is the ordination by Bhikkhus only. Also there are bhikkhunis left elsewhere in the world. The “rule” that Bhikkhunis that act as a preceptor at the ceremony has to be Theravedan in particular is a later addition, because that word didn’t even exist in the time of the Buddha. There is no way that it came from the pali-canon.
Lee Ann wrote: “The 8 lifetime conditions by Buddha to Mahapajati Gotami (Buddha’s aunt)and her Bhikkhunis.”
This has nothing to do with the question whether we should ban bhikkhuni ordination or not. Besides, there are many evidence that indicate the incident about Mahapajapati is a myth.
Lee Ann wrote: “The major religions of other faiths have yet to have a female Pope or Imam”
What does this have anything to do with Buddhism? The Buddha didn’t wait for Brahmanism to ordain female priest before ordaining his bhikkhunis. Is there a reason why we should wait until all the other religion in the world have a female priest before we can ordain bhikkhunis. Didn’t the Buddha already did this before everyone else ?
What I am finding completely fascinating about this dialogue is the complete obsession with my few comments, all the while completely ignoring the REAL tragedy here. That good monks and nuns are disrobing and leaving ABM and Chithurst due to harsh discriminatory practises against gender.
Perhaps this is a reaction as a result of displacement of anger/grief? Emotions are funny things.Sometimes we don’t know where they are coming from and they become misdirected against other quite benign things.
There is nothing complicated about this. Anything can be explained away with self-righteous drivel. It is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong.
Lee-Ann, go back to your UK Ajahns and ask them why are they allowing this tragedy to continue? Why are they enforcing the 5 points? If they won’t discuss the matter with you, or ostracise you as a result of your simple, forthright question……..
then run, not walk away.
This is not good, wholesome spiritual practise, and will only cause harm in the long-term. Do yourself a favor and find a wholesome sangha that cares about you and honours your femininity.
iMeditation and Anne, I think both of you have misinterpreted my intention. I was only summarizing some of the comments and concerns of those not agreeable but was misinterpreted for not agreeable to Bhikkhunis. I am in favour but I was just unfolding those prevailing concerns that we need to be sensitive about.
There was no indication that I was agreeing to the UK Ajahns or defending them whatsoever as I have no dealing or interaction with them.
All those concerns were extracted from what I have read on the internet so far. What I commented had nothing to do with them as those were my personal observation and knowledge of the episode.
If there is no basis to my knowledge, I take full responsibility and apology for any disagreements and baseless knowledge of facts. It was not meant to offend but with an intention to be sensitive and to understand the misconception over this issue. This debate will be endless, so I do not wish to deliberate further. Please take it easy. Metta.
Dear Lee Ann,
Lee Ann wrote: “I am in favour but I was just unfolding those prevailing concerns that we need to be sensitive about.”
These concerns have been brought up in the past months. We have already addressed them. I am sure there are many people that still go by these misconceptions because that’s what they have been conditioned with for many years. It’s been passed down from generation to generation.
I thought it would be too much to tell you to go back and read what we have been discussing in the past months. Therefore, I tried to put it in a nutshell to make it easier .
Personally, I have no negative feelings toward the Ajahns in UK. I am sure when they set up the Siladhara order, it was with the best intentions. Who knows what kind of pressure they are under today. Also, by having resentment towards them would effect my meditation too much. It is not worth ruining my peaceful meditation for anything.
It is sad that many siladhara are disrobing or moving away. Maybe it is the best thing to do. There are now several places where they are allowed to become ordain and practice according to the guidelines set up by the Buddha rather than by others. I am only concern if they have a place to practice if they can’t remain Sri Lanka, U.S, or Australia. Maybe our concerns would be over if there are more places available for them to practice.
First, I want to say that I really enjoy and appreciate your posts. They clearly come from a place of experience of wisdom.
Thank you for expressing compassion for the silardhara, something I found strangely and sadly lacking from Lee-Anne’s postings.
Yes, you are right, we must feel concern for their welfare, as there are few places for them to go to, hence the tragedy of their disrobing.
But, you say “Who knows what kind of pressure they are under today” (UK Ajahns).
Ajahn Brahm was under the same pressure, and yet he chose to do the most compassinate and highly moral action, regardless of his own personal loss (being excommunicated). That is the spirit of the true Bodhisattva. Knowing that Ajahn Brahm exists in this world, restores my faith. His actions speak louder than words.
Clearly, these Ajahns in the UK are being subjected to a moral dilemma. Unfortunately, they are failing this great test. Yes, I will try to have compassion for them, although I must admist I am upset, grieving over the recent disrobing of beautiful Ajahn Thitamedha. A precious diamond should be protected, instead she has felt she has no choice but to leave. It is sad, dark days for many of us on this path.
So readers, please forgive me for I am grieving. Grieving the loss of morals, ethical responsibility, and respect for the feminine.
Anne wrote: “Yes, you are right, we must feel concern for their welfare, as there are few places for them to go to, hence the tragedy of their disrobing.”
“she has felt she has no choice but to leave. It is sad, dark days for many of us on this path.”
Living with discriminative treatment is hardly conducive to the settling of the mind. If anything, it might contribute to stirring up aversion/ sadness in the mind. This defeats the purpose of joining a monastery to develop meditation in the first place. It might be difficult to develop piti/ sukkha and stillness of mind under such condition .
I believe there is a place for women to practice in the forest style in USA, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Canada. Is it possible for her to join these hermitage / monasteries? ( if she is still interested in practicing)
I guess there are no other forest monastery for a woman to practice in the UK. It would be great to be able to set up one there later on so women in the UK can have an opportunity to practice the path in peace without having to deal with discrimination in their spiritual life. There is definitely a need to create a forest hermitage for women in each country.
Anne wrote: “Ajahn Brahm was under the same pressure, and yet he chose to do the most compassinate and highly moral action, regardless of his own personal loss (being excommunicated). That is the spirit of the true Bodhisattva. Knowing that Ajahn Brahm exists in this world, restores my faith”
Yes! Ajahn Brahm took action on an issue that desperately needs addressing, despite risking his own comfort. People like this can be quite rare.
Anne wrote: ” Yes, I will try to have compassion for them, although I must admist I am upset,”
Let’s include the nuns and the UK Ajahns in our metta meditation and forgive/ let go.
As usual, beautifully and eloquently phrased iMeditation. Sadhu! _/\_
“And what a ride it’s been!”
Yeah, what a hell-ride!
“I’m a writer: I guess I always have been one at heart.”
Yes, very true – finally you seem to reach the core of the problem! You are a writer deep down your heart, much more than you are a monk. This seems just too obvious when reading through your pseudo-Buddhist hate blog.
1. PSEUDO-BUDDHIST – You got it right, this is not a blog on Buddhism but one for issues surrounding Buddhism. If you were looking for a blog on Buddhism you have come to the wrong place!
2. HATE BLOG – You got it right again. Thanks to those who cannot discuss an issue without getting emotional there have been many responses which are filled with hate and venom. We have seen many emotional outbursts on issues simply because some consider sacred, should be left undisturbed or simply should not talked about and perhaps it is time to weed them out?
Strange isn’t that some people have to abuse or belittle another to make them feel that their point of view is correct?
yes, I agree. This blog is not the place to look for Dhamma.
Yet why would you blame other bloggers for this? Aren’t Sujato’s posts the ones most filled with hate and venonm?
If you know this blog is not about Buddha Dhamma per se, why do you still keep complaining that it is not?
Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you on the second point – I have not seen a single word of hate from Bhante Sujato – he has simply stated facts unlike many other contributors who appear to have a problem when facts are presented and spew out hate and make personal attacks.
If you have the impression that this is a hate blog that is because you have been reading comments by those who cannot calmly look at facts and present their view without resorting to personal attacks.
If looking at facts presented here cause hatred in anyone’s mind it is their own problem and not Bhante Sujato’s problem or many others’ problem who are skillful enough to respond with agreement or disagreement without resorting to personal abuse.
Remember, when you squeeze a lemon you get lemon juice and not orange juice. Similarly, if certain facts causes irritation, anger, hatred in oneself those very qualities are inside oneself and there is no point blaming the facts presented in here. The more skillful approach would be to leave the forum if you cannot handle it or learn to respond to material presented here without letting the hatred take the better of you.
1. Monks/nuns wearing the robes must not misrepresent what the robes represent(spiritual not commercial).
2. They should propagate the Buddha’s Dhamma according to the Noble Scriptures.
3. They should practice what they preach.
4. They should preach the same Dhamma.
5. They should act,do,speak as belong to one Sassana in unity.
1. They should not be an independant person or break away from their lineage of the Buddha or Elders Sangha.
2. They should not take advantage of the priviledges of the robe to undertake or achieve their own aspirations and goals.
3. They should not abuse and misuse the robes for their own gains and fame.
4. They should not do scientific or medical research to challenge the Dhamma or the Scriptures (they can disrobe to do so as they had yet full Saddha in the Triple Gems and the Scriptures).
5. They should not misled the lay people to cause disharmony and disagreement with other sangha members on the Dhamma etc and to incite ill-will and hatred.
These would prevent adulterations (adultery) of the robes.
Ken wrote: ” They should not be an independant person or break away from their lineage of the Buddha or Elders Sangha.”
I don’t think anyone is breaking away from their lineage here. Rather someone is being kicked out simply because they don’t obey orders from the group ( not the Buddha). Bhikkhuni ordination was revived awhile back by Theravedan monks. There is nothing wrong with inviting Sri-Lankan bhikkhunis to ordain other women. There is no reason for a monk to be kicked out for serving as the Chanting achariya at the ceremony. AB deserves an apology for this. We still haven’t heard anything yet.
Ken wrote: “3. They should not abuse and misuse the robes for their own gains and fame.”
Is it possible to be more specific . We can throw anything back and forth. But that would become just a food fight. How is that helpful to anybody ?
Ken wrote:”4. They should not do scientific or medical research to challenge the Dhamma or the Scriptures (they can disrobe to do so as they had yet full Saddha in the Triple Gems and the Scriptures).”
Can you be more specific ? I am not aware of any monk carrying out scientific research at the moment.
Ken wrote: “5. They should not misled the lay people to cause disharmony and disagreement with other sangha members on the Dhamma .”
Various lay people heard senior monks talked negatively about AB. They wanted to know the story behind it. This blog does the job.
This is one of the many examples in our modern but still ignorant society http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf1EZ8c3K8w
I have no intention to elaborate further on my views as those were my views only. You may choose to accept or to reject them.No further justifications from me.Thank you.
Thanks for the lessons on “morals for monks”. Maybe you should write a book? Call it “The book of shoulds”? 😉
But hey, you forgot one:-
“monks should not abandon and sacrifice 1/2 of the world’s population for their own political and financial advantage”.
Just thought I “should” fill you in on that rather large oversight. 🙂
What cheeky nonsense! If you haven’t enjoyed the ride, get off. And I just have to ask: who might you think you are to criticize the blogger as a monk?
this definitely is not a ride on the love boat. I actually thought Sujato is the one criticizing monks on this blog on mass scale. And let me ask you: do you think it suits a monk to produce such a hate blog?
I came across this very calming chant of Metta, for sharing.
We appreciate your good intention, Lee Ann, Anumodana.
You can do so to either Sanghamittarama or Santi to contribute in paying VISA for ‘imported nuns’ in these two monastery where nuns are learning and practicing together.
Noted,Ayya, I will make arrangement to mail it to Sanghamittarama in due course. Metta
Here’s a lovely photo from yesterday’s bhikkhuni ordinations in California at Aranya Bodhi Hermitage – the first bhikkhuni ordinations in North America conducted fully in the Theravada tradition. It was a dual sangha ordination. The four newly-ordained bhikkhunis are seated in front: Bhikkhunis Suvijjana, Thanasanti, Phalanyani, and Adhimutta. In the second row are Bhikkhunis Satima, Sobhana, Tathaaloka, Sudhamma, Gunasari, and Madika, and Ajahns Anandabodhi and Santacitta. I don’t know all the bhikkhus in the back row, but Bh. Gunaratana and Aj. Pasanno are there and senior monks of some of northern Cal’s Sri Lankan temples.
Here is Aranya Bodhi’s website, where I expect more ordination photos will be linked shortly.
So wonderful, Jackie. How glorious is this news! Thank you. I’m very happy for everyone involved.
Wonderful news – congratulations to all involved, esp. our dear friend Ayya Adhimutta. Thanks for the pictures – awesome! Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu
Just spoke with Ajahn Brahm, and he said (referring to the other monks present at the ordination) “Now I’m no longer the only bad monk around.” Tongue firmly planted in cheek. Will be interesting to see how the ordination is reported and what response (if any) it gets from the WPP/WPN hardliners.
Thanks you so much for posting this! Warms the heart… May all be well.
Ditto! Such a beautiful photo, so happy to get this news! May bhikkhuni ordinations soon be plentiful and unremarkable.
Full story and photos of the event:
Suan, joyful sharing of photos. Hope the Guardian Devas always protect them from mosquitoes and insects. I have a quick remedy for insects bites – use salt water (table salt) to rub on bites area.
Thank you Suan. Tears (of joy!) were flowing as I read this.
finally the event is getting reported more widely:
What a wonderful, uplifting and happy story. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong: One small step for a bhikkhuni, One giant leap for the Theravadan Bhikkhuni Sangha. Some people must be eating their hearts out.
The lay buddhists hope that with the emergence of Bhikkhunis, the Bhikkhunis and Bhikkhus will teach the same Buddha’s Dhamma and not have different sets of teachings that leave the lay buddhists in a wirlpool searching for the right teaching and meditation of the Buddha.
After Buddha’s parinibbana, Bhante Kassapa convened a first Council to have all the 500 arahants verify on the original teaching of the Buddha. After 2,550 years, we still have no definite correct interpretation of the Suttas with each monk/nun having different interpretations of the Suttas causing disputes and quarrels with the Sangha and making lay buddhists having to read the Suttas on our own to gain confidence and understanding in the Buddha’s Dhamma. Giving here a feedback for uniformity in the Suttas, Dhamma, Sangha and Buddhism.
Is this retreat monastery only for women monks? Therefore, the 8 Gotami rules are irrelevant. The 8 rules were prescribed by Buddha for women safety. In this case, those men monks will have no peace of mind as they will have to keep checking and skype them to find out if they are alright up in the forest mountain all by themselves. Perhaps that was why Buddha advised Bhikkhunis to stay close to the men monks, so to free the men monks this concern for the women’s safety. It may be safe up there for these few women, but not so in many other parts of the world. It becomes a burden and responsibility to the men monks having to ensure the safety of these women monks. If they stay close to men monks, then no such worry and concern for both genders.What do you think?
And what a happy thing it was to read that Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi gave anumodana live by SKYPE!
BHIKKHUNIS are essential to spread the precious true Dhamma to help everyone (regardless of religion,race,creed,gender) to help themselves (emotionally) in times of difficulties eg the NZ quake. Hope they are able to cope well in the wake of this natural disaster.
What joyful news! Out of the harsh climate beautiful flowers are blooming. Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!
Sadhu to all the Ajahns that took part in the ordination. It is such a wonderful gesture of support for women who want to take up the Buddha’s Noble Path. May all experience tranquility ,wisdom, and awakening in their meditation practice.
Thanks for the well wishing. May you be content and joyful in life.
iMeditation, thanks for extending your joyful metta.
I found the below site by accident, and I thought you might be interested. I find it easy to understand and precise. Hope permission granted by the site for me to share here.It is state here:
“This `Insight’, again, is attainable only during Neighbourhood-Concentration (Upacara-samadhi), not during Attainment-concentration (Appana-samadhi)”
(I remember Ajahn Chah mentioned Upacara samadhi in one of his books “Taste of Freedom”).
I am still learning, so if you need further clarification you may want to go directly to them.Check it out.
I take the Buddha’s word as my point of reference to avoid getting lost in the jungle. Since we are discussing the teaching of the Buddha, is it possible to show a clear and precise example of where the Buddha instructed the bhikkhu/bhikhunis to enter access concentration to realize wisdom rather than emerging from a jhana . If it is indeed the path that the Buddha used to teach disciples to attain awakening, then it shouldn’t be so difficult to find. Instead , you should see abundant records of the Buddha repeating the instructions to different disciples at different time over and over . This is actually the case with the jhanas.
The Buddha came into the world and rediscovered Nirvana for others when no one knows the way. And yet after he rediscovered the path, we think that it is enough that the Buddha was Awakened and we should just worship him rather than follow his instructions to realize it within ourselves. I would like to share an example where the Buddha gave instructions for the assembly of monks to practice jhana in a way that it would lead them to Awakening from MN 51: Kandaraka Sutta (To Kandaraka the Ascetic). Here the Buddha talked about Sila, and how a bhikkhu conducts himself on the cushion ( sitting meditation) and off the cushion ( while moving about). In other words, Right Mindfulness and Right Stillness.
About the practice of Right Mindfulness when not on the cushion ( moving about during the day, doing chores, walking on alms, etc…) :
“On seeing a form with the eye, one does not grasp at its signs and features . Since, if one left the eye faculty unguarded, unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade the mind. One practices the way of restraint, one guards the eye faculty, one undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty.”
The same goes with the other senses :
“On hearing a sound with the ear…On cognizing a smell with the nose…On cognizing a taste with the tongue…..On cognizing touches with the body…”
“On cognizing a mind-object with the mind, one does not grasp at its signs and features. Since, if one left the mind faculty unguarded, unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade the mind. One practices the way of restraint, one guards the mind faculty, one undertakes the restraint of the mind faculty.” ”Possessing this noble restraint of the faculties, one experiences within oneself an untouched pleasure of the mental faculties.”
“One becomes someone who acts in full awareness when going forward or returning ; who acts in full awareness when looking on, or looking aside; who acts in full awareness when bending or stretching ; who acts in full awareness when bearing the bowl and three robes ; who acts in full awareness when tasting, drinking, eating and enjoying ; who acts in full awareness when going, standing, sitting, lying, if awake, and keeping silence .” (MN 51)
This is not just being aware of the object in front ( form), or whatever one is doing. But also when perception , feeling, and volitional formation arise during these activities or encounters one also keep a close watch on them. In that way the person can immediately abandon unwholesome perceptions, feelings, intentional actions/ habitual reaction rather than being influence by them.
About the practice of Right Stillness when on the cushion ( after the alms round and meal, while sitting still in meditation):
“Possessing this mass of virtues, the restraint of the mental faculties, right mindfulness and full awareness, one resorts to a secluded dwelling, such as the forest, the root of a tree, a mountain, a ravine, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle forest, an open space, or a heap of straw. After the meal and returning from the alms round, one sits legs crossed and mindfulness established in front.
Overcoming the 5 Hindrances :
1. Dispelling covetousness for the world one abides freeing the mind. 2. Dispelling anger one abides with a mind free of anger, compassionate to all born. 3. Dispelling sloth and torpor one abides, aware of a perception of light, mindful of cleaning sloth and torpor. 4. Dispelling restlessness and worry one abides with a mind internally appeased, cleaning the mind of restlessness and worry. 5. Abides with doubts dispelled of merit that should be, and should not be done.
Entering the Jhanas :
”The bhikkhu dispelling the five hindrances of the mind, and wisely making the minor defilements weak, secludes the mind from sensual thoughts and demerit. With thoughts and thought processes and with joy and pleasantness, born of seclusion he abides in the first jhana..”
“Again the bhikkhu overcoming thoughts and thought processes, the mind internally appeased, in a single point, with joy and pleasantness born of concentration abides in the second jhana.”
“Again, the bhikkhu with equanimity to joy and detachment and aware of experiencing pleasantness, with the body too (*1), abides in the third jhaana. The noble ones say this is abiding in pleasanatness, mindful of equanimity.”
“Again, the bhikkhu dispelling pleasantness and unpleasantness and earlier having dispelled pleasure and displeasure, mindfulness purified with equanimity abides in the fourth jhana.”
Only after the jhanas ( rather than mere access concentration right before Concentration) the Buddha gave instructions on Wisdom. The Buddha didn’t said to stop and develop wisdom right before you enter jhana and don’t enter it :
“When the mind is concentrated, pure, free from minor defilements, malleable workable not disturbed, he directs the mind for the knowledge of previous births. Recollects the manifold previous births, one birth, two births, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, innumerable forward cycles of births, innumerable backward cycles of births, innumerable forward and backward cycles of births. There I was born of such name, clan, disposition, supports, experiencing such pleasant and unpleasant feelings, with such a life span. Disappearing from there was born there with such name, clan, disposition, supports, experiencing such pleasant and unpleasant feelings, with such a life span. Disappearing from there, is born here. Thus with all modes and all details manifold previous births are recollected.”
“When the mind is concentrated, pure, free from minor defilements malleable workable not disturbed, he directs the mind for knowledge of the disappearing and appearing of beings. With the heavenly eye purified beyond human, sees beings disappearing and appearing un-exalted and exalted, beautiful and ugly, arising in good and bad states according to the results of actions. These good beings misbehaving by body, speech and mind, blaming noble ones, with the wrong view of actions, after death are born in loss, in decrease, in hell. As for these good beings, well behaved in body speech and mind not blaming noble ones, with the right view of actions after death are born in heaven. Thus, with the heavenly eye purified beyond human sees beings disappearing and appearing.”
“When the mind is concentrated, pure, free from minor defilements, malleable workable not disturbed, he directs the mind for the destruction of desires. He knows this is unpleasant, this its arising, this its cessation, and this, the path to the cessation of unpleasantness as it really is. Knows these are desires, this, their rising, this, their cessation and this, the path to their cessation as it really is. His mind that knows and sees thus, is released from sensual desires, from desires ‘to be’ and from ignorant desires. When released, he knows, I’m released, birth is destroyed, the holy life is lived, what should be done is done. There’s nothing more to wish.”
You can see this pattern being repeated by the Buddha in many of his discourses , including when he described his own Awakening in MN 36 :
“So when I had taken solid food and regained strength, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the fading of rapture I remained equanimous, mindful, & alert, and sensed pleasure with the body. I entered & remained in the third jhana, of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’ But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
“When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two…five, ten…fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion: ‘There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.’ Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.
“This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
“When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: ‘These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, & mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech & mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.’ Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.
“This was the second knowledge I attained in the second watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
“When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. I discerned, as it was actually present, that ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress… These are fermentations… This is the origination of fermentations… This is the cessation of fermentations… This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.’ My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, ‘Released.’ I discerned that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’ – MN 36
Whether someone wants to stop short at the entrance to Jhana and arouse wisdom or enter jhana and emerge to arouse wisdom, it is up to the person to choose. If after some years he/she realizes that staying at the entrance to jhana is not sufficient to arouse wisdom that actually lead to Awakening, then simply take the next step to enter Jhana and emerge before arousing wisdom as the Buddha taught. It is not a big deal. Best wishes in whatever choice you make.
iMeditation, appreciate your reiteration of the Sutta. I learned a lot here and I keep an open mind.
I noticed in the site (basicbuddhism.org) they use “Pain for “Dukka” instead of “Suffering” and the word “grief”(in Metta Meditation).
I find the English word “Suffering” is not suitable to explain Buddha’s dhamma, as the Buddha’s Dhamma is not to create more sufferings(neither happiness but to see things as they really are by way of Middhle Path) for us.
When I see or hear the word Suffering, instantly I already suffer and feel painful and depressed in the mind (it is emotional and subjective whereas Pain or Grief is more objective and positive i.e explaining the Truth in which we can relate and understand).
Dear Lee Ann,
Lee-Ann wrote: “When I see or hear the word Suffering, instantly I already suffer and feel painful and depressed in the mind ”
There are various possible translation of the term dukkha.
“Dukkha : according to grammatical tradition derived from dus-kha “UNEASY”,
“but according to Monier-Williams more likely a Prakritized form of dus-stha “UNSTEADY, DISQUIETED”
I believe that “UNEASY”,”UNSTEADY, and “DISQUIETED” points to the constant emotional and mental fluctuation within and the unpredictable changes/ disturbance from without.
Maybe when used in other context Dukkha can be suffering, but when used in the context of the first Noble Truth it can be “discontentment” and “disatisfaction” because ” disatisfaction ” can apply to both pleasures and pain of the worldly life.
If one haven’t experience the contentment that can arise from practicing the Buddha’s teaching , it is likely that one will experience that only a certain aspect of samsaric life is unpleasant and other aspects are not. But I think to someone who experience the contentment of the spiritual life, both aspect of the worldly life seem to be a cause for disatisfaction.
Just like when a deva looks into the earth plane , he/she will likely thinks that the whole earthly existence is undesirable and full of disturbance/ agitation because beings are constantly chasing after desires yet always feel incomplete within. The earthly pleasures doesn’t seem to bring people any lasting fulfillment . Someone who has been to the other shore will want to deliver those who are stuck in this self perpetuating cycle of existence full of agitation, restlessness, and dissatisfaction .
The Buddha said that life is “dukkha” in the first Noble Truth, he didn’t said it because he is pessimistic . It is simply because he had experienced a much higher degree of contentment & equanimity. For example, joy, rapture, tranquility, happiness, etc..The highest happiness is Nirvana.
The good news is that there is a way to experience a higher degree of satisfaction and contentment here and now. It is the Noble Eightfold Path. It is the path that leads to ” sukha” ( happiness) , bliss, and beyond. I would say that this is a very optimistic teaching because it shows us a way to go from ” Dukkha” to ” Sukha”
iMeditation, well-said and beautiful.We have a choice to be like the lotus(sukha) in the mud(dukkha)with Dhamma (the Way).
iMeditation, I just finished listening to this audio talk and I am fully convinced with the step by step practice to full liberation (Nibanna) given by this Bhante in his dhammatalk(after hearing I had goose bumps and joy, and cannot help sharing this with you here). Hope you too, will be convinced.
(Source:-basicbuddhism.org – dhammatalk-silencing of the mind)
[audio src="http://premium.fileden.com/files/2008/8/7/2038737/Hamdru/02.%20How%20To%20Keep%20The%20Mind%20Silence%20And%20Further%20Progress.mp3" /]
This is what Ajahn Brahm wrote about “Deep Insight Into Dukkha” :
“One reason why beings do not understand dukkha fully is that they see only this present life,and often only a portion of this life. Already in denial about their inevitable sickness and death, they deny their past and future lives even more strongly! When one does not seek out the full picture, one will never reach full understanding….. ”
For when one does gain the deep insight of many lives, based on jhana and consequently without a doubt, then deep insight can arise into the full meaning of dukkha. One can now understand the sayings of the Buddha like the following:
“The stream of tears that you have shed through countless lives in samsara, through meeting misfortune, is more than all the waters in the oceans. “(SN 15, 3)
” The dead bones that you have left behind through countless deaths, if heaped together would be taller than any mountain (SN 15, 10).”
“……Deep insight, based on the direct knowledge of the almost unimaginable death of samsara, sees this in ones’s guts , not in the intellect. It sees the crucial link of dependent origination, ” birth is the cause of dukkha” . From this life-changing insight, craving and attachments begin their unraveling. There’s nothing worth clinging to anymore.”
“The experience of jhana opens up a second avenue to the full understanding of dukkha: deep insight into HAPPINESS ! One of the major features of a jhana is the prolonged experience of a bliss that one never knew before. The bliss of jhana, as I have said, is far more pleasurable and lasting than sexual orgasm. It is unforgettable. It overturns one’s conception of happiness.”
AJAHN CHAH’S SIMILE :
“Ajahn Chah’s vivid simile of the rope that strangles, mentioned in chapter 11, helps to explain such happiness. Imagine a man born with a rope around his neck, continually pulled tight by two strong and invisible demons. He grows up like this, and knowing no different becomes accustomed to the difficulty to the point that he doesn’t even notice it. Even when he practices mindfulness he cannot discern the tight rope. It is always there, it is considered normal, and so it is excluded from his field of attention. Then one day the two demons, called ” Five Senses” and ” Doing” , disappear for a while and let go of the rope. For the very first time in his life that man experiences freedom from constriction, freedom from the burden of the five sense and doing. He experiences incredible bliss, unlike anything he has ever know. Only then can he comprehend what happiness is, and how much suffering was the tight rope and the two deceptive demons. He also realizes that happiness is the ending of suffering.”
Similarly, one is born with a body “tied” tightly around one’s mind, with the demons of one’s five senses and the doing ( will, choice, control, etc.) keeping a firm grip. One has grown up with these, gotten used to it, and so considers it normal. Some even begin to enjoy their five-sense world and get off on doing things, even mentally doing things called thinking. People actually consider this as happiness. Incredible! Even when one practices mindfulness of the five senses, or of will ( cetana), one cannot discern their essential suffering nature. How can one , since it has always seemed that “this is the way it is” ? Then one day, for the very first time, one enters into a jhana. The five senses together with the movement of mind called ” doing” completely disappear for a while. With their vanishing the body also disappears, and for the first time in his life the mind is free from all doing, all five- sense activity, and free from the burdensome body like a tight rope strangling the beautiful mind. One experiences the bliss of a jhana, greater than any happiness one has ever know. Only now can one understand what happiness is and what dukkha is.”
“……. Deep insight into the pervasiveness of dukkha has occurred. And one realizes that the bliss of the jhana was the result of this immense suffering disappearing for the duration of the jhana.”
As the Buddha said in the suttas, ” What ordinary folk call happiness, the enlightened ones call dukkha” (SN 35, 135)
“Deep insight sees what is inaccessible to ordinary folk, what is incomprehensible to them, and what is often shocking. To see the birth of one’s first child might appear as the most wonderful moment of one’s life, but only if one knows of nothing better. Jhana is that something better, and it can change your whole understanding of what is happiness. And in consequence , it unveils the meaning of dukkha. It literally blows your mind. ”
Below is another simile that is, in a way, similar to Plato’s ” Allegory of the Cave”:
“Another simile, to emphasize the same point, is that of the man who was born and raised in a prison and who has never set foot outside. All he knows is prison life. He would have no conception of the freedom that is beyond his world. And he would not understand that prison is suffering. If anybody suggested that his world was dukkha, he would disagree, for prison is the limit of his experience. But one day he might find the escape tunnel dug long ago that leads beyond the prison walls to the unimaginable and expansive world of real freedom. Only when he has entered that tunnel and escaped from his prison does he realize how much suffering prison actually was, and the end of that suffering, escaping from jail is happiness.
In this simile the prison is the body , the high prison walls are the five senses, and the relentless demanding prison guard is one’s own will, the doer. The tunnel dug long ago, through which one escapes , is called jhana ( as at AN IX, 42). Only when one has experienced jhana does one realize that the five -sense world, even at its best, is really a five-walled prison, some parts of it is a little more comfortable but still a jail with everyone on death row! Only after deep jhana does one realize that ” will” was the torturer, masquerading as freedom , but preventing one ever rest happily at peace. Only outside of prison can one gain the data that produces the deep insight that discovers the truth about dukkha.
In summary, without experience of jhana, one’s knowledge of the world is too limited to fully understand dukkha , as required by the first noble truth, and proceed to enlightenment. ” – “Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond”
I missed this one out –
the word “Happy” is also subjective and emotional (mundane eg happy hours).
I think the word “Joyful” is more effective and objective. Choice of words can hurt or heal.
From the Buddhist Channel
Why we need Bhikkhunis as dhamma teachers
by Sanitsuda Ekachai, The Bangkok Post, Sept 8, 2010
Bangkok, Thailand — Why should we meditate? There are tons of books out there explaining how meditation can help us cultivate equanimity so we can face external storms without losing our inner balance.
<< Bhikkunies from the Aranya Bodhi Hermitage in Vassa
In Buddhism, meditation – more specifically insight meditation – is the only way to realise Nature's Law of Impermanence, so we can learn to let go of our sense of self which spurs all sorts of selfish acts and makes us blind to others' suffering.
I am indebted and ever grateful to many inspiring dharma books and sermons by monk teachers' with clarity of thought in the realm of rationality and fatherly compassion.
Yet, I felt something was missing, although I never could quite put my finger on it.
I never seriously thought about it either since the monks' takes on dhamma are enough to convince me that we can never call ourselves Buddhists if we do not meditate on the transience of life.
When I listened to Dhammananda Bhikkhuni's talk on the journey of her spiritual life recently, I came to realise what I felt was missing.
I have also become more convinced of the need for bhikkhuni as dhamma teachers.
Ven Dhammananda is Thailand's first Theravada female monk. Ordained in Sri Lanka in 2001, she was nearly crushed by the Thai clergy which fiercely opposes female ordination.
Many Thai women are now following her path. It is estimated that there are now about 50 Sri Lankan-ordained bhikkhuni and samaneri in Thailand right now. And the number is growing.
Chosen to deliver this year's Komol Kheemthong Speech in honour of social pioneers, Ven Dhammananda did not talk about gender equality or women's rights – the main arguments for female ordination.
Instead, she touched powerfully on one of the taboos in Thai culture – problematic child-parent relationships.
"This is a source of suffering for many people. And one cannot grow spiritually as well as one could if these problematic knots remain undone," she explained.
With great courage and compassion, she shared with the audience her own deep emotional wounds, the roots of her insecurity, and how feminism and spiritual practices have helped her reconcile with herself – and her mother.
Her mother was the late Bhikkhuni Voramai Kabilsingh, Thailand's first female monk in the Mahayana tradition.
It was not easy growing up with a very strong mother whose strengths made her feel weak and inadequate.
Back when she was a scholar of Buddhism, she said she never told her colleagues that her mother was a bhikkhuni.
When her mother became old and ailing, she was also torn – even angry – when people asked her when she would ordain to "inherit" her mother's temple, despite her own spiritual inclination.
After many women's conferences, she came to realise that such troubled mother-daughter relations were not exclusive. The healing process was painful. But through an honest acceptance of the root problem and spiritual practices, "eventually, I could love my mother. I was 40, then."
Like trees, she said, we need strong roots to grow securely. Likewise, we need to examine our roots, confront our emotional trauma and heal them back to health for our own spiritual growth.
I have yet to find monks who dare bare their souls, their pains and use themselves as a tool to teach dhamma the way Ven Dhammananda did.
Not that men do not have the same problems with their parents. They just do not talk about it. As figures of authority, monks also do not think it proper to share their personal stories.
A women's psyche is different. We talk. We share. We cry and we heal together. A women's spiritual journey is not all about rationality and total submission to rigid discipline.
It is also about caring and accepting ours and others' emotions as natural, as subjects to meditate upon, not weaknesses to be despised and dismissed.
How many monks understand this? That is why we need bhikkhuni as dhamma teachers for one half of humanity.
Visakha, allow me to deliberate on this.From my POV,the Buddha asked us to spread the true Dhamma i.e the Law of the Universe/Nature/Reality. From the suttas, the Buddha only taught the Dhamma with no religion -it was meant for all,everyone owns and responsible of the Dhamma i.e everyone can practice it, regardless of race,creed,culture,age,gender i.e we don’t have to change all that to practise the Dhamma. The Dhamma is universal for all and is not a religion but spiritual.
Just like everyone now knows the Law of Gravity who was re-discovered by Isaac Newton (gravity was in existence before Isaac discovered it)and was accepted in science, so too is the Law of Universe, rediscovered by Siddharta Gautama and can similarly be educated in schools or society as science subjects like the Law of gravity i.e Law of the Mind, Law of Virtue and Morality,Law of benefits of Meditation, Law of Kamma/Rebirth/Existence,Law of Spirituality(Dhamma),instead of, IMO, teaching or preaching from a religion POV, as we can see today, that religion divides, not unite and it didn’t solve hatred and patriotism and ignorance of the true Dhamma that are the causes of disharmony in this world.
Don’t know how these words like “religion,teach or preach” came into existence in the dictionary. The word “educate” is, to me, far better or gentle (less aggressive and oppressive) than teach or preach, as no one likes to be preached or to be told (people becomes more stubborn,rebellious,angry). Educate, gives us the option to decide, with no oppression or idealogy implant.That’s my little personal contemplation..still contemplating…
Thanks so much for posting this Visakha! Wish her talk could be translated for those of us who don’t speak Thai.
I attended a motivational course a few years ago and one of the teachers came
Up with this statement which I am sure was not original which I have found it very pertinent in my life since I heard it.
The reasonable man adapts to the world, the Unreasonable man adapts the world to himself…….who changes the world??
Was the Buddha a reasonable man? did he accept the status quo? Of course he didn’t otherwise we would not have the dharma.
Anyone who challenges the “order of things” are usually held to be unreasonable and troublemakers, but where would humanity be without them? For it’s is they that change the world not us who accept what is. Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahms are attacked because they are perceived to be unreasonable men because they believe simply that there is no difference between man or woman being a monk!
I ask those who are upset by this what is it that upsets you ? Is it that you believe that woman is inferior to man or is it because someone has challenged the order of things and in either circumstances you do not want change?
For me if the Dharma or Vinya identifies a difference between man and woman being a monk and becoming enlightened then it is flawed and unworthy. For how can we, who have been both man and woman in countless rebirths identify with our sex when it comes to the dharma? It seems ludicrous to me!
Why would anyone follow teachers and a teaching that treated woman any differently to men? Bhante Sujato’s blog on these matters is needed as they are necessary to help rid theradava Buddhism of thousands of years of cultural dogma. Many will say, but this is ours if you want it to be different start your own….and I would ask them do you own the Dharma?
May there be many unreasonable men and woman in the future they will make this planet a better place.
Well said Wilc. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s to more unreasonable people who push the ordinary boundaries of comfort levels.
After all, it takes an extraordinary person to turn away from social norms and push the boundaries of their mind … to reach enlightenment.
Indeed! Hear hear!
(From an Unreasonable Person who recently traveled to the Ends of the Earth to meet more Unreasonable People and just yesterday evening witnessed her first sunset from Perth, Western Australia)
I found this analysis on the Buddhist Channel. While it deals with Japanese Zen and Vajirayana, which sometimes have very cavalier views of vinaya, it seemed extremely interesting, especially the last sentence:
“It goes without saying that these problems are all but nonexistent in woman-led sanghas and zendos.”
The Worst of Both Worlds: The “Shimano Problem” Underscores Clash of Cultures When Buddhism Spread to West
By Russ Wellen, Foreign Policy In Focus, September 10, 2010
New York, USA — The “Shimano Problem” and its recent resolution make this an opportune time to briefly explore the subject of Buddhism’s integration into the West.
Eido Shimano Roshi had been the abbot of the New York Zen Studies Society, one of the oldest Buddhist institutions in the West, and its 1,400-acre Dai Bosatsu retreat in the Catkills until he resigned from both earlier this week. Even though he’s headed the former since 1965 and is 77 years old, he isn’t retiring. This comment below, posted at the Tricycle Buddhist magazine blog (http://www.tricycle.com/blog/?p=2271) in reaction to the apology that accompanied his announcement, gives you an idea of what transpired.
Take it from someone who has known Eido Shimano for over thirty years, this is anything but a sincere apology. It is the same tired routine he has repeated each time he has been “caught with his robe open” for three decades.
Yes, the Achilles heel of gurus, abbots, and pastors everywhere — sleeping with their students and/or worshippers. Before we explore its prevalence in Buddhist America, let’s take a moment to celebrate “how the swans came to the lake,” to borrow the title of a history of the Zen Buddhism diaspora, if you will, to the United States by Rick Fields (Shambhala, 1992).
Since Buddhism originated in India and moved east to China and then Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, it was probably as inevitable a migration across the Pacific as Homo erectus following the game out of Africa and populating Asia and Europe. Also since Eastern teachers were often stuck with students sent to them by their families, they were happy to find students in the West who, stoked in part by American traditions such as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transcendentalism, sought out the teachers on their own and were eager to initiate practice.
Of course, the extent to which Buddhism needed to be Westernized became a central issue. American Buddhist centers may appear to have integrated East and West seamlessly, but many obstacles were surmounted during their formative years. Looking back, rituals, practice, and teachings may have been the least of it. Instead, due to mixed signals between the two cultures and, however much a cliché, culture shock on the part of the Easterners, many American students wound up emotionally and spiritually wounded by Buddhist teachers — Eastern and American. Besides, of course, the good names of the most highly regarded forms of Buddhism in America, Tibetan and Zen, were sullied.
Perhaps the most notorious perpetrator of spiritual abuses was Trungpa Rinpoche, who, while still a teenager, headed several large Tibetan monasteries until, like the Dalai Lama, he was forced out by the 1959 Chinese invasion. Once in the West, his gift for teaching facilitated the founding of what has become known as the Vajradhatu (his U.S. meditation centers), Shambhala Meditation Centers around the world, and the Naropa Institute (now University). But his hedonistic lifestyle and provocative “crazy wisdom” both mystified and alienated.
Trungpa died a grisly alcoholic’s death, but his successor was arguably even more dissolute. The claim to fame of Osel Tendzin, an American from New Jersey, was not only seducing students, but becoming infected with HIV and failing to tell those with whom he engaged in sexual behavior. This scenario was paralleled by two American Zen teachers: the womanizing Richard Baker, the abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, and his successor, Reb Anderson, who gained fame by appropriating the gun from a suicide victim and later wielding it in public.
As for Shimano, his serial philandering was a source of concern for decades to long-time colleague Roshi Robert Aitken, who recently died. At the Zen Site, Vladimir K. and Stuart Lachs (http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/Aitken_Shimano_Letters.html) illuminated a series of letters from Aitken to Shimano and to others in the Zen community, including two of Japan’s most venerated roshis who had been his teachers. Only much later was one of them inclined to condemn Shimano. Watch how the culture clash played out in this instance. (Emphasis added.)
Aitken excuses this lack of interest by the two Japanese Zen masters to cultural differences between America and Japan, writing “it is important to understand that mental illness and character pathology are viewed tolerantly in Japan.” Aitken infers that he believes that Shimano may be suffering some form of mental illness or pathology, calling him “someone in a different dimension altogether.” Nevertheless, Shimano’s Japanese teachers “felt responsible for him, and were not prepared to disgrace him by recalling him to Japan.”
In a 1990 piece titled Encountering the Shadow in Buddhist America (http://www.katybutler.com/publications/commonboundary/index_files/commbound_shadowbuddhistusa.htm) that’s as nuanced as you’ll find on the subject, the culture clash was elucidated by Katy Butler. (If you haven’t yet, read her recent powerful New York Times magazine piece that begins with her mother speaking with her about her father: “Please help me get Jeff’s pacemaker turned off.”) Upon arriving in the United States, Eastern teachers found a nation already predisposed to hero worship and religious hucksterism. Here Ms. Butler writes about what keeps Eastern teachers in line back home until they arrive on these shores and act like a kid in a candy store.
“Pressure from the community is very important in controlling behavior in Tibetan communities,” said Dr. Barbara Aziz, an internationally known social . . . who has spent 20 years doing fieldwork among Tibetans. . . . “In Tibetan society, they expect more of the guy they put on the pedestal . . . if such a scandal [as Osel Tendzin’s] had happened in Tibet [he] might have been driven from the valley.”
Furthermore, Aziz pointed out, Tibetans may “demonstrate all kinds of reverence to a [teacher], but they won’t necessarily do what he says. I see far more discernment among my Tibetan and Nepali friends,” she concluded, “than among Westerners.” [Emphasis added.]
Alan Roland, a psychoanalyst and author of In Search of Self in India and Japan . . . . believes that Asian students approach the teacher-student relationships more subtly than Americans-who often commit rapidly and completely, or not at all. Asian students may display deference, but withhold veneration, until they have studied with a teacher for years. They seem to have a “private self” unknown to many Americans, which is capable of reserving judgement even while scrupulously following the forms. When a teacher fails, Asians may continue to defer to his superior rank but silently withdraw affection and respect.
In America, it’s often the reverse. Some Vajradhatu students could forgive Osel Tendzin as a human being, but could not treat him as a leader. . . . few Americans can show deference to someone they don’t venerate without feeling hypocritical. Faced with this cognitive dissonance, they either abandon deference and leave, or they deny inner feelings.
Ms. Butler then quotes the current Dalai Lama.
“I recommend never adopting the attitude toward one’s Spiritual teacher of seeing his or her every action as divine or noble. . . . if one has a teacher who is not qualified, who is engaging in unsuitable or wrong behavior, then it is appropriate for the student to criticize that behavior.”
Finally, a couple random observations about the issues teachers in Eastern traditions sometimes have with power and sex:
The sheer immaturity they’re manifesting is breathtaking. Either they’re resisting the transformation that long hours of meditation should be impressing on them or, in the belief that they’re fully realized, or enlightened, they think that they’re beyond the effects of bad karma on their future as souls.
It goes without saying that these problems are all but nonexistent in woman-led sanghas and zendos.
BC article above : “Of course, the extent to which Buddhism needed to be Westernized became a central issue. American Buddhist centers may appear to have integrated East and West seamlessly, but many obstacles were surmounted during their formative years. Looking back, rituals, practice, and teachings may have been the least of it. ”
Some helpful Spiritual and Devotional Practices That Originated From the Texts:
In the Maha-parinirvana Sutta , the Buddha said : ”Ananda, the twin sala trees are in full bloom, though it is not the season of flowering. And the blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathagata and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And celestial coral flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rain down upon the body of the Tathagata, and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments makes music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.
Yet it is not thus, Ananda, that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree. But, Ananda, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuni, layman or laywoman, abides by the Dhamma, lives uprightly in the Dhamma, walks in the way of the Dhamma, it is by such a one that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree. Therefore, Ananda, thus should you train yourselves: ‘We shall abide by the Dhamma, live uprightly in the Dhamma, walk in the way of the Dhamma.’
In the Kutadanta Sutta the brahmin Kutadanta asked the Buddha if there was any practice which can produce more fruitful result than sacrificial rituals. The Buddha told him of the following practices in ascending order of beneficial effects:
1. The traditional practice of offering the requisites to people in the holy life of high morality.
2. Donating a monastery to the sangha.
3. Going to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha for refuge
4. Observance of the Five Precepts ( purity in words , thought, and action)
5. Going forth from the home life and leading the holy life, becoming established in morality, accomplished in the four jhanas, and equipped with eight kinds of higher knowledge resulting in the realization of extinction of asavas, the practice which excels all other practices.
“There are, O monks, three ways of making merit. What three? There are ways of making merit by giving ( generosity, charity), by moral discipline ( purity in word, though, action), and by the development of meditation.”
1. COMPASSION AND GENEROSITY Offering the basic necessities to holy men and women of high morality.
2. PURITY & SIMPLICITY The initiation into the Buddha’s path involve taking up the Five Precepts which are meant to regulate one’s moral life and support meditation. It basically provides some guidelines for practicing purity in words, thoughts, and actions in daily life.
Buddha said to a group of 500 lay devotees gathered around him : ”Householder, you have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn’t rest content with the thought, ‘We have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.’ So you should train yourself, ‘Let’s periodically enter & remain in seclusion & rapture.’ That’s how you should train yourself.” – Piti Sutta: Rapture
Full Moon Days ( Uposatha}
Many lay people often observe the Eight Precepts on Uposatha days as a support for meditation practice . It is also an occasion for people to focus on purifying the polluted mind.
In the Sakka Sutta, the Buddha encouraged the Sakyans to always practice the 8 precepts on Uposatha day. In the “Discourse to Visakha on the Uposatha with the Eight Practices ” he goes into details about how to practice it. Another sutta about Full Moon day observance is the Muluposatha Sutta ( The Roots of the Uposatha).
1. The Bodhi Tree
“The veneration of the Bodhi-tree (pipal tree: ficus religiosa) has been a popular and a widespread ritual in Sri Lanka from the time a sapling of the original Bodhi-tree at Buddhagaya (under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment) was brought from India by the Theri Sanghamitta and planted at Anuradhapura. At the same time, the tree became a symbol representing the Buddha as well. This symbolism was confirmed by the Buddha himself when he recommended the planting of the Ananda Bodhi-tree at Jetavana for worship and offerings during his absence (see J.iv,228f.). Bathing the tree with scented water is also part of the ritual. So is the burning of aromatic incense, candles, etc. ”
In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta: ”Formerly, Lord, on leaving their quarters after the rains, the bhikkhus would set forth to see the Tathagata, and to us there was the gain and benefit of receiving and associating with those very revered bhikkhus who came to have audience with the Blessed One and to wait upon him. But, Lord, after the Blessed One has gone, we shall no longer have that gain and benefit.” “There are four places, Ananda, that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.What are the four?
“Here the Tathagata was born!’ This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.
“‘Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment!’This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. ”
‘Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dhamma!’This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. ”
‘Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains!’ This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. ”
“These, Ananda, are the four places that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. And truly there will come to these places, Ananda, pious bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen, reflecting: ‘Here the Tathagata was born! Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment! Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dhamma! Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains!’ “And whoever, Ananda, should die on such a pilgrimage with his heart established in faith, at the breaking up of the body, after death, will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness.”
” at a crossroads also a stupa should be raised for the Tathagata. And whosoever shall bring to that place garlands or incense or sandalpaste, or pay reverence, and whose mind becomes calm there — it will be to his well being and happiness for a long time”
“And why, Ananda, is a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One worthy of a stupa? Because, Ananda, at the thought: ‘This is the stupa of that Blessed One, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!’ the hearts of many people will be calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness.”
tears in my eyes and a heart full of joy while reading this post and the comments. it is so good be part of the buddhist global community and to feel conected to this blissfull sangha someway. I work as president at Brazil Buddhist Society in Rio de Janeiro. I represented the group in a interreligious meeting last week about women and religion. I watched your talk in youtube (bikkunis ordination) and got so inspired. Here is the small presentation I prepared for that day. Women in the Enlightened´s Story, Women teaching Dhamma and The Full Ordination for Bikkhunis ceremonies. Slides in http://slidesha.re/d2eGah (portuguese) May all beings be well and happy. http://www.sbb.dharmanet.com (english)
How marvelous — Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!!
I wonder how many people are aware of this:
In the Maha-samya Sutta there was an occasion when the devas from almost all the planes came to see the Buddha when he was dwelling in the Great Wood together with 500 bhikkhus, all of them arahants. The Buddha introduced their names to the monks, Vishnu was one of those present. The Buddha mentioned him by the name Venhu.
The Venhu Sutta shows Vishnu as one of the young devas who came to visit and talked with the Buddha:
At Savatthi. Standing to one side, the young deva Venhu recited this verse in the presence of the Blessed One: ” Happy indeed are those human beings attending on the Fortunate One. Applying themselves to Gotama’s Teaching, who train in it with diligence.”
The Blessed One said: “When the course of teaching is proclaimed by me, O Venhu,” said the Blessed One, “Those meditators who train therein. Being diligent at the proper time. Will not come under Death’s control.”- The Connected Discourse of the Buddha” A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi ,page 432)
According to “Hinduism and Buddhism An Historical Sketch” (Vol. 2 page 746) , Sir Charles Elliot who was a British diplomat mentioned that this correlates with the Rig Veda text before Hinduism started. Both texts mentioned that Vishnu and Shiva are minor deities :
” Vishnu and Rudra (Shiva) are known even to the Rig Veda but as deities of no special eminence. It is only after the Vedic age that they became , each for his own worshippers, undisputed Lords of the Universe…..The Pali Pitakas frequently introduce popular deities , but give no prominence to Vishnu and Siva. They are apparently mentioned under the names of Venhu and Isana, but are not differentiated from a host of spirits now forgotten. ….The suttas of the Digha Nikaya in which these lists of deities occur were perhaps composed before 300 B.C. “- Sir Charles Elliot
This is a new paper ‘Autonomy of the Bhikkhunī Sangha’ of Venerable H. Nyanasuci with a fresh view that the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sanghas are two legally autonomous entities. Using that as a main point of the paper he confirms that there is no doubt over whether Bhikkhuni ordination is really possible and can be legally recognized; and that such matters are not the legal business of the bhikkhus according to the Vinaya (i.e. tradition cannot play a role in determining the existence of bhikkhunis). Women have their own freedom of choice regarding whether to fully ordain or not.
Link above is broken. Here is the new one: http://pathpress.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=923
Dear Path Press,
Thank you for sharing such a refreshing article from Venerable H. Nyanasuci. He summarized some important aspects of the Vinaya previously discussed and brought up certain notable points in the article.
May I refer you to this sutta about Vernerable Maha Pajapati, the Aunt of the Buddha, who went onto to become the first bhikkhuni.
Surely this is proof that the 8 rules were added later? Lee-Ann but why do you cling to this and deny your fellow Dhamma sisters the blessed joy of ordination? It is not just about our own salvation and progress but we wish for others as well. That our Sisters may fully live the Dhamma as laid out in the Suttas.
Mudita to our blessed Sisters.
May you be well and happy.
thanks for the post. I would really recoment you to read that: Beginnings, The Pali Suttas by Ven. Bodhesako: http://pathpress.wordpress.com/bodhesako/beginnings-the-pali-suttas/
And regarding garudhammas perhaps you can look here: http://groups.google.com/group/dhammadharini/web/non-historicity-of-the-eight-garudhammas
Firstly you can reflect with that.
Dear Lee Ann,
Out of the thousands of suttas in the Sutta Pitaka , there area few suttas that seems to be contradictory when you read them. They were left in there. I wish that these will be highlighted so it would stand out.
However, the number can be quite small and it is not enough to effect its effectiveness in guiding people on the path. I would say most are very authentic.
I don’t think it is a good idea to say that if one sutta is not authentic , then all suttas are not authentic. It is necessary to assess each sutta individually. If there is nothing to indicate that it was manipulated by someone then it is fine. For example, if you have a bad encounter with someone from a certain culture, it doesn’t mean that everyone from that culture is that way.
This sutta about the 8 heavy rules was brought up many times on the blog and we have discussed it from various angles in various threads if you read the previous discussion on this blog.
AN 8.51 or the story / myth of the founding of the nuns order is especially among the suspects according to various people. Even when you read them yourself, it doesn’t feel right like many other suttas. And logically, it doesn’t make any sense either. Ven Analayo and others have pointed out some in his letter and presentation. It is highly questionable in many aspects.
Below are some of them:
1. “The founding of the Bhikkhuni Order is said to have taken place a few months after the fifth rains retreat – when the Buddha would have been about 40 years old. Ananda at that time would have been probably a teenager – at most. We can get a good estimate of his age from SN 16.11, which takes place after the Buddha’s death at the age of 80. In this sutta Mahakassapa calls Ananda a “youngster” and Ananda replies by pointing out the grey hairs on his head. The combination of “youngster” and “grey hairs” would indicate Ananda was probably between 40 and 60. Since he had been the Buddha’s attendant for the previous 25 years, that would make him unlikely to be as young as 40 – more likely he was in his 50s. That would make him a teenager when he intervened and enabled the founding of the Bhikkhuni Order! It seems very implausible to me that a teenager – someone about the same age as the Buddha’s son Rahula – would have enough influence over the Buddha to get him to change his mind about something he had rejected three times on multiple occasions.”
2. Often the Buddha laid down disciplinary rules only after someone did something wrong. He doesn’t just issue it out of nowhere and lay it down on people in this manner. There are quite a lot of rules being imposed at the same time for no particular misconduct . That doesn’t seem to be typical of the Buddha.
When you read the 8 rules yourself, it seems ludicrous. If you read many of the Buddha’s other suttas , they generally invoke a feeling of awe and inspiration. He is usually very convincing and sound in his argument and speech even when it comes to even extremely complex concepts.
Even the difficult to understand first noble truth of Dukkha makes perfect sense when penetrating it after some deep meditation practice. There are many people who are able to penetrate it and undertand that ” What ordinary folk call happiness, the enlightened ones call dukkha”.
Also , if the Buddha is going to accept a certain proposal he typically accepts it by the third time someone ask rather than after the third time.
Some say that the Buddha was concern that the Brahman priests would object. But it appears that the Buddha doesn’t even hesitate to go against many of the central teachings of the culture at that time. For example:
a. He went against the caste system. Instead of restricting the privilege of experiencing God consciousness to people who are born to a particular parents/ family ( Brahmin) , the Buddha actually opened the door for people of all caste to realize Awakening within themselves regardless of which family they are born into , rich or poor.
b. The belief in God was not considered a necessary ingredient in the path to self-realization.
c. He refuted Rites and ritual as the way to make good karma instead of ethical conduct in life. For example, ignoring the custom of dipping in the Ganges/ bathing multiple times a day, pouring milk and other things into the fire , killing animals or humans as sacrifice. He considered various practices as torturing others and torturing oneself.
If he doesn’t mind allowing the ” untouchables” into the sangha, why would he be fearful of the Brahmans when it comes to admitting women into the order. The idea that the Buddha was concern about what the Brahman priest would think have more to do with some people’s projection of their personal insecurities onto the Buddha .
3. The story ( or myth) stated that the order would last only 500 years if women are allowed to ordain. It is been over two thousand years now. It is not typical of the Buddha to make mistake or say things that are not true. It is stated that one of the reason he is a Tathagata is because all the things he said or teaches are true and not false.
Some say, well it could have been 5000 years or half of the total amount of years. But then both the Agamas and the Pali version said the same thing. There is no basis to support that claim.
4. ” the Mahāparinibbāna-sutta shows that right after his awakening he proclaimed that he would not pass away until he had nun disciples who are wise and learned when Mara approached him shortly after his Enlightenment to asked him to pass into Parinibbana without proclaiming the dhamma . When the Buddha was 80 years old, Mara came to the Buddha again to remind him that he now have learned monks, nuns, male and female lay followers. That is when he decided to enter Parinibbana in three months time.
Ven Analayo wrote that “From this it would follow that right from the outset he wanted to have an order of nuns. This impression is further supported by a closer perusal of the Pāli canon, which shows recurrent references to the importance of having four assemblies of disciples (monks, nuns, male and female lay followers) and to the significant contribution made by nuns to the prosperity and success of the Buddha’s dispensation. These passages stand in contrast to the impression created by the account of the foundation of the order of nuns, which reads as if the Buddha did not want to allow women to go forth. A comparative study of this account in the different Vinayas, mainly extant in Chinese, shows clear signs of later addition and thus makes it probable that it does not accurately reflect the Buddha’s attitude.”
5. If we analyze it in terms of the Dhamma, these rules contradict the very essence of the Buddha’s teaching on non-identification with the 5 khandhas. The Buddha’s central teaching is about awakening to the ultimate reality that you are not your form, feelings, perceptions, consciousness, and cetana. It can be difficult to embrace the idea of non- identification with the body as self when day in and day out a bhikkhuni is reminded that she is a lower entity because of her very form. Why would the Buddha insist on such discriminative treatment in the first place if he has let go of these perceptions of high /low, or male/ female which doesn’t exist. After all this is trademark of the Buddha’s teaching.
Ven Analayo wrote that:
“In fact, I would hold that a discriminating attitude towards women in principle is incompatible with the freedom from defilement incumbent on reaching full awakening, where any prejudice based on caste, social standing, race or gender has been left behind.”
Even if there are one or two things that indicate a sutta is inauthentic , it is enough to lay it aside. I don’t see a good reason why these 8 heavy rules should be impose on the women, considering that fact that there are just too many evidence indicating that there is something going on with the story/ myth. The purpose of the spiritual life is to be conducive to the development of pitta, sukkha, sama samadhi, and wisdom in meditation, rather than to create unnecessary sadness or depression within people’s mind. These rules are just too heavy .We need to be sure that they are from the Buddha before subjecting someone to it.
I would like to point out that the Buddha allows bhikkhunis to live in a separate monastery. So this is not violating the rules, including the heavy rules even when it is not abolished.
lee-ann, i know that this may be a heretical point of view, but i personally regard any written words with a bit of scepticism. human beings have a tendency to mold words to suit their own agendas. i am especially cautious of written words handed down over many centuries and translated from one language to another to another to another.
for me, one aspect of the suttas i accept as authentic is the teaching of the four noble truths and the eight fold path. the rest is subject to my own investigation within the context of that teaching and whether or not it is relevant to my meditation practice and development of my paramis.
you mention ‘gospel truth’….there is a good clue as it has become quite evident that the gospels of jesus christ, for example, have been manipulated to conform to the views of various political, cultural and religious ideas and that various translations from one language to another to another have been subject to distortion. fundamentalist christians accept the gospels as ‘gospel truth’. personally, i find this point of view difficult if not impossible to buy into. the same goes for the accepting the written suttas. i find some truth and dhamma in the suttas and vinaya but i also sense distortion and manipulation in order to manipulate control other humans.
personally, i feel it is skillful not to attach to any point of view simply because it was written but rather to investigate for ones self what is dhamma by understanding the four noble truths and practicing the eightfold path. this is my own point of view …we are all different…like snowflakes .. chai mai?
solid proof refuting the 8 rule sutta (or not) will come from your own investigation. and finally one may ask….is this relevant to becoming a kinder gentler person and moving one forward on the path?
Bhante Sujato already mentioned a lot of evidence in past threads of evidence that they were added later. They’re somewhere- you can dig in there. And besides, from what you know of the Dhamma so far, it doesn’t feel right anyways. It doesn’t feel like that would be the Dhamma or truth or way to liberation to have those 8 silly points.
Dania, I really have no comment. I guess everyone wished this 8 rule did not exist in the sutta but the problem is, it existed but disputable.I think just leave it to those scholars who are expert on this and do not let this one sutta hinder our faith and practice.
Another thing that was also mentioned in other threads was that past Buddhas typically have both bhikkhus and bhikkhunis sangha that lasted many thousands of years longer than the 500 years mentioned in the myth. So the reason given for enforcing the 8 heavy rules appears to be untrue.
During the first visit to Kapilavastu (which is long before his step-mother’s ordination) , the Buddha teaches the Buddhavamsa at the request of Sariputra. According to the Buddhavamsa in the Khuddaka Nikaya, the Buddha tells of the lives of 24 Buddhas who preceded him. As well as the information about the future Buddha and three Buddhas before the 24 Buddhas. The details about each of them with regard to birth, status, names of their parents, wives and children, their life-span, their way of renunciation, duration of their practice, their teaching of the Dhammacakka Sutta, the names of their chief disciples and chief lay disciples. Each section is closed with an account of where the Buddhas pass away and how their relics are distributed:
Abhibhū and Sambhava were his chief disciples among monks, and Akhilā (Makhilā) and Padumā among nuns.
Sona and Uttara, who became his chief disciples. Among women his chief disciples were Dāmā and Samālā
The Buddha’s chief disciples were Vidhura and Sañjīva among monks, and Sama and Campā among nuns.
His chief disciples were Bhīyya and Uttara among monks, and Samuddā and Uttarā among nuns
There are abundant examples in the Suttas showing that Gautama Buddha almost always follows the tradition of all the previous Buddhas. Long before the death of his father, he already knew that the past Buddhas ordained women. By the time of the kings death, which is about the same time his step-mother wanted to become a nun he wouldn’t need the intervention from Ananda to decide whether or not to ordain women. It is more likely that the Buddha asked himself if past Buddhas established a nun’s order rather than deciding to be different than other Buddhas or depending on Ananda before he can arrive at that decision to established a nuns order.
In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta, the Buddha instructed the bhikkhus on how to recount the teachings they heard from him or other bhikkhus . Also teaches them to use proper discernment to verify and trace the source to make sure that it is actually the words of the Buddha before accepting it. He also said that “If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: ‘Certainly, this is not the Blessed One’s utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu — or by that community”.
This is an excerpt :
“In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: ‘Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master’s Dispensation’; or: ‘In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master’s Dispensation’; or: ‘In an abode of such and such a name live several bhikkhus who are elders, who are learned, who have accomplished their course, who are preservers of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with those elders, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master’s Dispensation’; or: ‘In an abode of such and such a name lives a single bhikkhu who is an elder, who is learned, who has accomplished his course, who is a preserver of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with that elder, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master’s Dispensation.’
“In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: ‘Certainly, this is not the Blessed One’s utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.’ In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: ‘Certainly, this is the Blessed One’s utterance; this has been well understood by that bhikkhu — or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.’ And in that way, bhikkhus, you may accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference. These, bhikkhus, are the four great references for you to preserve.”- Maha-parinibbana Sutta
Perhaps you have already read these, but here a couple of articles you might find interesting re the sutta on the regarding garudhammas and the authenticity of the suttas in general:
As others have pointed out there are many other resources, some quite scholarly, including several which have been mentioned in other threads on this blog (but I don’t know if there is a way to search this blog; if anyone is familiar with a way, I’d appreciate knowing how)
I have sometimes found old posts in this blog through google using the terms “sujato”, “wordpress” and then “whatever it is you’re searching for”. It seems to find what I want about half the time, either because I haven’t used the best search term, or because google doesn’t crawl this blog very frequently.
Thanks for the search tip David!
Dear Lee Ann,
Various teachers in India used the same term “samadhi ” to refer to their teachings of meditation. However, the state that each teacher points to can varies. Many of which still lead to rebirth in one of the 31 planes of existence. That means the practitioner is still going in circles in the rounds of rebirth. The Buddha’s teaching is about liberation from the endless cycle of rebirth in samsara.
The teaching of Hinduism is a mixture of various beliefs in the region. Although human existence is considered as part of samsara in Hinduism, but the heavenly planes are not considered as samsara. Therefore various practitioners seek to unite with beings in these planes. For example, union with brahma ( a being in the brahma plane) , shiva ( a deva under the 4 Heavenly kings ruled by Sakka) vishnu, Krishna ( a past life of Sariputra according to the Jataka), and various devas in the lower planes of Kamma Loka . Many people believe that although the human identity is impermanent, but the beings in these higher planes are permanent. This is why many Hindu practitioners aspire be in union with beings in these planes as the goal of the holy life.
However, according to the Brahmajāla Sutta , a brahmā is a being from the Ābhāsvara planes who falls into a lower world after the exhaustion of his merits and is reborn alone in the Brahma-world; forgetting his former existence, he imagines himself to have come into existence without cause. After being alone for a while, he wanted to have other companions. When other beings in the Abhasvara planes also exhaust their merits and fall into this plane, he thought that these beings came to be because of his intention to have other beings around. These new beings also thought that he was the creator because he was there before they come into being in that plane. Also according to the Baka Brahma Sutta:
At that time this view arisen in Brahma Baka : `This is always alike, it is certain and perpetual, complete and without decrease, not to be born, not to decay and die not to decrease and not to be born again, and there is no refuge more noble than this.”
The Buddha knew this thought in Brahma Baka’s mind and disappeared from Jeta’s grove and appeared in the world of Brahma. He said to Brahma:
“Good Baka Brahma is disillusioned, that to something that changes he says, is always alike, to an uncertain thing he says, it is certain. To a thing not perpetual, he says it is perpetual. An incomplete thing he says is complete. To something decreasing he says, is without decrease. To something that is produced, decaying, would die, decreasing and is to be born, he says it is not produced, not decaying, not to die, not decreasing and not to be born again and he says there is no refuge more noble than this.”
Often the Buddha teaches many of his lay practitioners that are still immersed in worldly life how to become reborn in heaven, or become devas in these planes because that is what they are ready for . But when he notices that they are ready to understand the deeper dharma that he came to teach, that’s when he introduces them to the Four Noble Truths, Eightfold path, Non-self, etc…For the monastics, it is not at all about rebirth in heaven, or union with beings in the deva realms. All the 31 planes are considered part of samsara and the cycle of rebirth .
The use of the term LIBERATION:
Dualistic schools of Hinduism understand Brahman as a being that they worship. Other Hindus believe that the eternal atman is the true “self” of every person . This Atman is ultimately indistinct from Brahman the supreme spirit. In the Rig Veda, Brahman gives rise to the primordial being that is equated with the creator god Brahma. The goal of life, according to the Advaita school, is to realize that one’s ātman is identical to Brahman, the supreme soul. The ability to identify oneself ( realizes oneself to be the same ) with Brahman is considered “liberation” or freedom.
Notice that both Hindu teachers and the Buddha use the term liberation because they are from the same country/ location. However, liberation means something totally different to the Buddha. According to the Buddha, the practice mentioned above only leads to rebirth in the brahma plane. He doesn’t considers that to be liberation in any way. Many of the Buddha’s past lives were in these planes, however he doesn’t claim to be enlightened while in these states. Below, the Buddha mentioned some of his past lives when he was still unenlightened:
“Whenever the eon contracted I reached the “Plane of Streaming Radiance”, and when he eon expanded I arose in an empty divine mansion. And there I was Brahma, the great Brahma, the unvanquished victor, the all-seeing, the all-powerful. Thirty-six times I was Sakka, ruler of the devas. And many hundreds of times I was a wheel-turning monarch, righteous, a king of righteousness, conqueror of the four regions of the earth, maintaining stability in the land, in possession of the seven treasures.”- Itivuttaka
The use of the term KARMA:
Because of the similarity in language, it is easy to mistake that Hinduism and Buddhism are similar. However, the practice and the goals are different. The term ” liberation ” , ” karma”, ” samadhi”, ” nirvana” , can point to different states in both teaching. In Buddha’s teaching, karma is a direct result of a person’s word, thought, and action in life. In pre-Buddhist Hinduism, karma has to do with whether the actions performed in rituals are done correctly or not. Therefore, there is little emphasis on moral conduct in its conception. In Buddhism, since a person’s word , thought, and action form the basis for good and bad karma, sila (moral conduct) goes hand in hand with the development of meditation and wisdom. Buddhist teachings carry a different meaning than pre-Buddhist conception of karma. The Buddha derived his teaching of the concept of kamma through direct experience (see Maha-Saccaka Sutta) rather than from the existing culture. But he used the same terminology that people are using in that area so they can relate to what taught.
The use of the term NIRVANA:
The term ” nirvana” can mean different things to different teachers, and the way to reach it can be different depending on the teacher. For example, the Buddha mentioned in the Brahmajala sutta that:
“Here a certain ascetic or Brahmin declares and holds the view : In as far as this self, being furnished and endowed with the fivefold sense-pleasures, indulges in them, then that is when the self realises the highest Nibbana here and now. So some proclaim it.”
However, the path to nirvana in the Buddha’s teaching is totally different. The above method is considered one extreme in which he doesn’t recommends. It is what he does before leaving home to seek nirvana. His way to reach ” Nirvana” is neither indulgence nor self-torture.
The use of the term SAMADHI:
The term ” samadhi” was used by both religion. However, the techniques being used can be different. And the state it leads to can varies. For example, a famous Hindu teacher who claims and believed by many to be enlightened taught that ” being with the master is dhyana ( sanskrit for Jhana). Another meditation technique is sitting in a room with someone close and placing your hand on their hand looking at each other. This is one of the techniques being taught to enter samadhi. Becoming one with the master is considered Enlightened. That’s why the saying ” You are that” (Tat Tvam Asi ) is very famous. The more you are around a Guru, the more chances or closer you are to enlightenment. That is why everyone wants to be part of the inner circle.
However, the Buddha doesn’t teach the above technique because it can give rise to desire. And desire is one of the biggest hindrances in the path to samadhi. He doesn’t teaches that disciple needed to be around him to become enlightened. Although the Buddha teaches the way to all the states of samadhi / jhana, but wisdom is what lead to the four levels of liberation . These states are just a stepping stone, and not to be considered as enlightenment. For example, if you need to find something in the dark, you would need to use a flashlight before you can see what you are looking for. In the same way, samma samadhi is a tool to see the nature of non-self which leads to liberation from samsara. Notice that it is ” samma samadhi” ( Right Concentration) in particular, which means that there are samadhi that are not conducive to liberating wisdom.
The fact that various terms ( ie.. samadhi , karma, liberation, nirvana, etc..) are also used in Hinduism, the path of practice and the goal are very different. I would suggest that we don’t get hung up on words . The term karma was also used in Hinduism, but that doesn’t mean that we should leave out the concept of karma. In pre-buddhist Hinduism it means something else and the practice has to do with the correct action one carries out during a ritual, rather than purity in word, thought, and action in daily life as in the Buddha’s teaching. The same goes with the term ” samadhi” . It is not a basis for leaving samadhi from the path of practice.
Lee-Ann wrote: ” I could not find Buddha’s “focus on the center of the nimitta”. ”
The word nimitta can be used in various contexts .One of the meaning of the word ” nimitta” is a ” sign”. I believed the reason various people used the word ” sign” was because it is a sign that you are very close to a jhana. For example: Let’s say you are looking for water in a desert, and after many hours you spot some cottonwood trees in the distance. It is a SIGN (nimitta ) that water is close by ( because Cottonwood trees use up to two hundred gallons of water per day). In that case you would focus in the direction of the cotton wood trees ( the sign) to find water. In the same way, you would “focus on the center of the nimitta ( bright light, etc..) to enter jhana.
Some might wonder, why don’t they just say ” bright light” , or ” golden light” instead of the ” sign” ( nimitta) ? I believe there are many meditation objects, not just the breath. Some people meditate on the element of water, earth, light, and metta, etc…What arises before a jhana might not always be a ” golden light” . If they always say ” golden light” , people might get hung up on that and look for a ” golden light” when the sign that arises can be blue or something else. The person can end up ignoring it or mistake that it is not what should arise. The ” sign” is a general term points to the image that arises, which can varies depending on the meditation object that you use as a point of focus. The terms ” golden light” or ” bright light” often apply to the breath meditation object in particular.
Lee- Anne wrote: “And wonder what is this “cosmic ecstasy”?”
It is what arises after pitti ( joy) and sukkha ( inner happiness), when you are in jhana ( step 7). Piti arises around step 4, sukkha arises around step 5-6.
Lee-Ann wrote: “I only pointed out the usage of words like Samadhi and Jhana and relate them to the suttas where Buddha mentioned like “purity of mindfulness and equanimity”
In step 6 ( and beyond) when a person goes beyond the experience of the body and the nimitta appears in the mind, it does not implies that one becomes unconscious without any awareness or equanimity when going beyond the feelings/ sensations of the body along with its 5 senses.
According to ” Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond”:
” With development, you can experience immovable mindfulness, the mindfulness that is on one thing entirely- very clear, very sharp. The Buddha said this reaches its peak in the fourth jhana. That’s the pinnacle of mindfulness, where you experience complete equanimity. You’re just fully aware and unmoving. That’s as powerful as mindfulness can get. Once you have experienced that level of mindfulness, then you will know for yourself how ridiculous it is to think you can become enlightened without jhana. Without such powerful mindfulness, you will be unable to achieve powerful insights. So you begin to realize from your own experience what mindfulness can be and the level of mindfulness you need to become enlightened.
As you see, mindfulness in daily life is one thing and mindfulness in deep meditation something else. Mindfulness has different degrees of power, subtlety, and penetration. Just as there are many types of knives- blunt ones and sharp ones, potato peelers and scalpels-so it is with mindfulness.
So develop a sharp and powerful mindfulness that you can use to dig deeply into the nature of your mind and uncover the beautiful treasures of impermanence ( anicca), dukkha, and anatta (no-self). ”
Lee-Ann wrote: ” I think the the word Jhana is a terminology used by those Hindu translators trying to translate Buddha’s teaching because with these words like Samadhi and Jhana in its defination in google, contradicts with the true essence of the 8 fold which is to have the Panna or wisdom to see the true nature of our body and mind and to liberate ourselves through seeing them as anicca dukka anatta (this is very clear in the teachings of the Buddha from what I have read in the Suttas).”
In Hinduism, it is common to regard various states of meditation to be nirvana or moksha itself. According to the Buddha, it is possible to have jhana and still not have the right view of a Stream Enterer ( first stage of Awakening) or eradicate defilements. Therefore, in the Buddha’s teaching even the first four jhanas are considered the path and not the final goal. Liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth only come about with liberating wisdom. Just like a flashlight is simply a tool to help you find a car key you dropped in a dark area. Jhana only helps a person arrive at liberating wisdom that lead to nirvana. It is part of the path and not the goal.
For example, his two teachers Alara Kalama and Ramaputta thought that the 7th and 8th jhanas are indeed enlightenment , liberation from the cycle of rebirth in samsara, or the complete eradication of defilements. However, the Buddha knows that the practitioner will remain stuck in the cycles of rebirth in samsara. Only after the arising of liberating wisdom do we get to the Pure Abode of the Non-returners ( where you become arahants without having to come back to the human / other planes) or be liberated in this very life as Arahants.
Lee-Ann wrote: “The two terminology might lead us to the practice similar to the google defination which will not make us see anicca dukka anatta in our body and mind as what Buddha wanted us to do. ”
Generally, in Hinduism people use sanskrit ( ie.. dhyana) instead of pali. Theravedans generally use the pali term ” Jhana”. If you look up Jhana, it is likely that you will find a buddhist explanation . When you want to look up info on samadhi, you can type in ” samma samadhi” instead of any type of samadhi, it is likely that you will get an explanation according to the Buddha’s teaching.
Dear Lee Ann,
” I think they say the citta never dies is true in this sense……
According to the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta , the idea that consciousness is eternal is a wrong view. Even a Stream-Enterer needs to abandon the identification with consciousness as an everlasting aspect of self . It has more to do with various other beliefs in India rather than the Buddha’s teaching. This is a crucial point that the Buddha emphasized again and again, because self identification will prevent people from even the first stage of Awakening ( a stream enterer with 7 lives to go at most). The Buddha strongly discouraged this wrong view and made a firm statement when one of his disciples slanders the dhamma and can potentially mislead other people down the same path where they can’t experience the fruit of the path:
“Misguided man! To whom, do you know, have I ever expounded such teaching? ……Have I not in many ways pointed out the dependent arising of Consciousness, as: ‘Without causal condition there is no arising of Consciousness’? Misguided man!! In spite of this teaching, you slander us by attributing to us your own wrong view. You have also ruined yourself (i.e…prevent himself from the fruit of the path or the 4 stages of enlightenment, he would still be subject to rebirth in the planes of deprivation) and have produced much demeritoriousness which will bring you, misguided man, no good but sorrow for a long time to come”
The Buddha emphasized in Dependent Arising and numerous places that ‘Without causal condition there is no arising of Consciousness’ . Consciousness is simply part of a process of cause and effect. It comes to be when there is a cause for it. This is Volitional Formation , which refers to actions of body, speech and mind, which are accompanied by intention ( CETANA) . It is this kamma which gives rise to future rebirth or ‘ rebirth according to sahkhara’. Certain beings arise in different realms according to their actions of body, speech or mind. These actions and reactions ( conditioned response) can either be meritorious, demeritorious, and in- between.
There are three kinds of volitional formations:
1. bodily volitional formation
2. verbal volitional formation
3. mental volitional formation.
* volitional activity ( sankhara) is also rendered kamma formation.
“Bhikkhus! What is the cause, what the origin, what the genesis and what the source of this Consciousness? Consciousness has sankhara, volitional activity, as cause, sankhara as origin, sankhara as genesis and sankhara, as source.” -Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta
According to the Cetana Sutta (3) — Volition:
“If one does not intend and does not plan, but one still obsesses about something, this becomes the basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is the basis, there is the support, there is the establishing of consciousness. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.”
“But, bhikkhus, when one does not intend, one does not plan, and one does not have a tendency towards anything no basis exist for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is no basis, there is no support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is unestablished, does not come to growth there is no inclination. When there is no inclination, there is no coming and going. When there is no coming and going, there is no passing away and being reborn. Future birth, aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
The cause for Volitional Formation / kamma formation ( sankhara) is Ignorance. The penetration and direct experience of the Four Noble Truths destroy Ignorance ( along with the rest of the links of dependent origination , which include dukkha).
Consciousness is not an eternal self or the origin that gives rise to everything in the universe because it is also dependent on other causes in order to exist. Attachment to this view will not lead to Awakening in any of the four stages of enlightenment. The lowest stage is Stream- entry, while the Arahants have crossed the stream and reached the farthest shore of Nirvana. For Stream – entry , a person needs to eradicates the 3 fetters :
1. Identity view – The view that a so-called self exists in the five aggregates , and that include Consciousness.
2. Clinging to rites and rituals
3. Skeptical Doubt
The first two are just a few major differences between the Buddha’s teaching and pre-existing beliefs and practices during his time, where consciousness is considered as the everlasting self to be identified with ultimately/ as the goal of the holy life. And that ritual is the way to get there. The Samannaphala sutta shows a list differences between the practices of pre-existing beliefs and the practices in the Buddha’s path.
Lee – Ann wrote: In 31 planes, arahants will go to Pure Abode”
Arahants who have reached Nirvana doesn’t have rebirth. Only Non-returners become reborn in the Pure Abodes where they still need to develop further to reach full awakening from there without coming back to the earth plane.
Lee-Ann wrote: “Buddha’s purity in mindfulness and equanimity could be the quality of mind attained after being fully virteous, and equanimity here is, I understood as when people scold you, your mind does not get angry and scold back but stay cool like a cucumber”
This is a result of having eradicated the fetters of desire and ill will after awakening . Arahants are free from sufferings relating to desire and ill will.
Lee-Ann wrote: “I think the words like absorption,attainment,samadhi and jhanas are misunderstood(these are those Hindu yogi practices).”
Rhys Davids and Maurice Walshe agreed that the term ” samadhi” is not found in any pre-buddhist text. Hindu texts later used that term to indicate the state of enlightenment. This is not the case in Buddhist usage:
“Its subsequent use in Hindu texts to denote the state of enlightenment is not in conformity with Buddhist usage, where the basic meaning of concentration is expanded to cover ‘ meditation’ in general.” -Maurice Walshe
I believe the formula of the Eightfold Path is
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Stillness (concentration)
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Intuition
Lee-Ann wrote: “My view is, if we meditate with a desire hoping to attain something or to see some kind of unusual experience or phenomenas, then, I don’t think this is what Buddha meant because in the first place, Buddha advocates non desire,asking us to abandon desire.”
When you meditate, you are supposed to let go of desires . Whatever pitti, sukkha, or wisdom that arise is a by-product of letting go of desires ( 2nd and 3rd Noble Truth) .
The reason I mentioned that “Samma Samadhi ” shouldn’t be omitted because it is the instruction of the Buddha in the Suttas:
FOUR KINDS OF ENJOYMENTS NOT RECOMMENDED BY THE BUDDHA:
“There are four such modes, Cunda, which are low and pagan, belonging to the average majority, unworthy, not associated with good, not conducing to unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are the four ? ”
1.” Firstly, there is the case of the fool who takes his pleasure and finds gratification in slaying living creatures.”
2. “Secondly, there is the case of one who takes his pleasure and finds gratification in taking what is not given. ”
3.”Thirdly, there is the case of one who takes his pleasure and finds gratification in false statements. ”
4.”Fourthly, there is the case of one who dwells surrounded by, and in the enjoyment of the five kinds of sensuous pleasures.”
“These, Cunda, are the four modes of being addicted and devoted to pleasure which are low and pagan, belonging to the average majority, unworthy, disconnected with good, not conducive to unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to insight, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.
It may happen, Cunda, that other teachers may ask : Are those recluses who follow the Sakyan addicted and devoted to these four modes ? They should be answered no, that is not so ! “- Pasadika Sutta
FOUR KINDS OF UNWORLDLY ENJOYMENTS ENDORSED BY THE BUDDHA:
“These are the four modes of being addicted and devoted to pleasure, Cunda, which conduce absolutely to unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are the four ?
1. Firstly, Cunda, when a brother, aloof from sensuous appetites, aloof from evil ideas, enters into and abides in the First Jhana, wherein there is initiative and sustained thought which is born of solitude and is full of zest and ease.”
2. “Secondly, when suppressing initiative and sustained thought, he enters into and abides in the Second Jhana, which is self-evoked, born of concentration, full of zest and ease, in that, set free from initial and sustained thought, the mind grows calm and sure, dwelling on high.”
3. “Thirdly, when a brother, no longer fired with zest, abides calmly contemplative, while mindful and self-possessed he feels in his body that ease whereof Ariyans declare : He that is calmly contemplative and aware, he dwelleth at ease, so does he enter into and abide in the Third Jhana. ”
4.”Fourthly, by putting aside ease and by putting aside mal-aise, by the passing away of the joy and the sorrow he used to feel, he enters into and abides in the Fourth Jhana, rapture of utter purity of mindfulness and equanimity, wherein neither ease is felt nor any ill.”
” These four modes of being addicted and devoted to pleasure, Cunda, conduce to utter unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to insight, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. ” – Pasadika Sutta
” It may happen, Cunda, that Wanderers teaching other doctrines than ours may declare : For those who live addicted and devoted to these four modes of pleasure, brother, how much fruit, how many advantages are to be expected ? Them ye should answer thus : Four kinds of fruit, brother, four advantages are to be expected. What are the four ? ”
1. “Firstly, the case of a brother who by the complete destruction of the three fetters becomes a Stream-winner, saved from disaster hereafter, certain to attain Enlightenment. ”
2.”Secondly, the case of a brother who by the complete destruction of three fetters has so diminished passion and hate and illusion that he has become a Once- Returner, and returning but once to this world will make an end of ill. ”
3.”Thirdly, the case of a brother who, by the complete destruction of the five last fetters, will be reborn in another world, thence never to return, there to pass away. ”
4. “Fourthly, the case of the brother who, by the destruction of the mental Intoxicants, has come to know and realize for himself, even in this life, emancipation of intellect and emancipation of insight, and therein abides. These, brother, are the four kinds of fruit, the four advantages to be expected by those who are addicted and devoted to those four modes of pleasure.”- – Pasadika Sutta
Before passing away the Buddha emphasized various teachings for the Bhikkhus to remember :
” The Four Focuses of Mindfulness, the Four Supreme Efforts, the Four Paths to Efficacy, the Five Spiritual Faculties, the Five Mental Powers, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, the Noble Eightfold Path. These, O Cunda, are the truths which when I had perceived, I made known to you, and which, when ye have come together and have associated yourselves, ye are to rehearse, all of you, and not quarrel over, comparing meaning with meaning and phrase with phrase, in order that this pure religion may last long, and be perpetuated, in order that it may continue to be for the good and the happiness of the great multitudes, out of love for the world, to the benefit , profit, and happiness of devas and humans !” — Pasadika Sutta
In omitting Jhana, you are not only turning the Buddha’s Eightfold Path to a Sevenfold Path, but you are also turning the Five Spiritual Faculties into Four Spiritual Faculties, as well as turning the Seven Factors of Enlightenment into Six Factors of Enlightenment. All these sets are the important ones that the Buddha emphasized that his monks remember shortly before his parinirvana . Notice that the Buddha included the Jhana in various important sets, and not just one. Not only that, it is part of the stock description of his path of practice when describing the discipline to countless of people at different times.
The Five Spiritual Faculties
◦4. CONCENTRATION (Stillness)
Seven Factors of Enlightenment
•Joy or rapture
•Relaxation or tranquillity
* Noble Eightfold Path
1. Right View
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration
Above, the word ” you” was used to refer to any person in general. It doesn’t refer to you in particular.
I believe we are on the same page on this. Best wishes on your path.
iMeditation, best wishes to you too. Hope we are able to walk the Path with a bit of humor.Buddha gave us the formula for us to be happy and not misery.Expectation of hoping to gain any attainment only causes misery. All the best.
Lee-Ann wrote: “Buddha gave us the formula for us to be happy and not misery.Expectation of hoping to gain any attainment only causes misery.”
Indeed, the text mentioned that Jhana happens only when the 5 hindrances are absent. One of them is Desire. If we come to the meditation cushion with a desire to gain a certain experience or attainment, that is still considered a Desire. The biggest hindrance is present. Therefore, frustration is likely to arise instead of contentment, piti, sukkha, etc…That’s why teachers of Jhana ( or other meditation) often encourage students to let go during their meditation retreat talks.
Below are some additional information about the sign or light that arises before jhana. Also about how the Buddha find his way into ” samma samadhi” (1st-4th Jhana). It doesn’t appears to be something he has mastered before this event under the Bodhi Tree.
In the Upakkilesa Sutta, Anuruddha asked:
“Lord, as long as we remain diligent, passionate and determined, both the light and realize the vision of forms. Shortly after the vision of light and shapes disappear, but we have not yet discovered the cause. ”
The Buddha replied: ” Nimitta pativijjhitabbam. ”
Literally translated as : “You have to penetrate that sign/ signal.”
The Buddha then speaks about how to keep the light from disappearing so that he can penetrate that sign. The Buddha told about what he went through under the Bodhi Tree before his enlightenment. It gives further details to the Maha Saccaka Sutta, where he just mentioned that he recalled a 1st Jhana experience as a child. Then simply mentioned that he entered 1st- 4th Jhana and skipped to the various knowledges that arose after emerging from them without providing much details about what he goes through before successfully entering the first four jhanas. But here in the Upakkilesa Sutta, the Buddha discusses various troubleshooting that he encounters along the way, and how he overcomes them.
1. (* Because of DOUBT the light and vision of the forms disappear.)
“Anuruddha. Before my enlightenment, when I was still just a Bodhisattva not illuminated, I also saw both the light and the vision of forms. Shortly after the vision of light and shapes disappear. I thought, ‘What is the cause and condition in which light and vision of the forms disappear? ”
“Then consider the following: ‘The question arose in me and because of doubt my concentration fell, when my concentration fell, the light disappeared and the vision of forms. I act so that the question does not arise in me again. ”
2. (* Because of INATTENTION HIS CONCENTRATION DECREASED ,the light and vision of the forms disappear. He then acted in a way that inattention doesn’t arise again .)
” While Anuruddha, I remained diligent, ardent, perceived both the light and the vision of forms. Shortly after the vision of light and shapes disappear. ‘ I thought, ‘What is the cause and condition in which light and vision of the forms disappear? ”
“Then consider the following: “Inattention arose in me because of inattention and my concentration has decreased, when my concentration fell, the light disappeared and the vision of forms. I must act in such a way that neither doubt nor disregard arise in me again. ”
In the same way as above, the Buddha listed 7 more defilements that caused the light to disappear, and therefore prevent him from penetrating that light.
3. SLOTH AND TORPOR
7. EXCESSIVE ENERGY
8. ENERGY DEFICIENT
9. PERCEPTION OF DIVERSITY
10. EXCESSIVE MEDITATION ON THE WAYS
“When Anuruddha, I realized that doubt is an imperfection of the mind, I dropped out of doubt, an imperfection of the mind. When I realized that inattention … sloth and torpor … fear … elation … inertia … excessive energy … deficient energy … … desire … perception of diversity … excessive meditation on the ways, I abandoned excessive meditation on the ways, an imperfection of the mind.”
“While Anuruddha, I remained diligent, ardent, and I noticed the light but saw no form, I saw the forms but did not see the light, even for a night or a whole day or a day and a night. I thought, ‘What is the cause and condition of it? ” Then considered as follows: ‘By the time we do not pay attention to the signal form, but pay attention to the signal light, then I see the light, but I do not see the shapes. By the time we do not pay attention to the signal light, but pay attention to the signal forms, then I see the shapes, but I do not see the light, even for a night or a whole day or a day and all night ‘.
While Anuruddha, I remained diligent, ardent, and I noticed the limited light and saw limited ways, I noticed the light and saw immeasurable immeasurable ways, even during a night or a whole day or a day and a night. ‘What is the cause and condition of it? “Then considered as follows: ‘At the time the merger is limited, my vision is limited and with limited vision to perceive light limited and limited ways. But at the time the merger is immeasurable, my vision is immeasurable and the vision to perceive light immeasurable immeasurable immeasurable ways and see, even for a night or a whole day or a day and all night. ”
When Anuruddha, I realized that doubt is an imperfection of the mind, I dropped out of doubt, an imperfection of the mind. When I realized that inattention … sloth and torpor … fear … elation …. inertia … excessive energy … deficient energy… desire … perception of diversity … excessive meditation on the ways, I abandoned excessive meditation on the ways, an imperfection of the mind, so I thought, ‘I abandoned these imperfections of the mind. ‘ Now the concentration will develop in three ways. ”
(Note: After figuring out the cause of the various obstacles and overcoming them, the Buddha was able to penetrate the sign and enters 1st- 4th Jhana. The Buddha goes into more details about the various characteristics of the these four Jhanas in the Maha Saccaka Sutta. Here, he just glosses over them quickly.)
“And so, Anuruddha, develop concentration with directed thought and sustained thought; developed concentration without directed thought, but only with the sustained thought; developed concentration without directed thought and without thought sustained, developed with the concentration ecstasy; developed concentration without ecstasy; develop concentration accompanied by happiness, developing concentration accompanied by equanimity.
(Note: Also here, the Buddha just mentioned that knowledge and vision arise in him and he became enlightened. It doesn’t gives a lot of details on the knowledges that arise after emerging from the Jhanas. But he gives more details about this part in the Maha SAccaka Sutta)
“When Anuruddha, I developed concentration with directed thought and sustained thought to the development … when the concentration accompanied by fairness, knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘My release is unshakable, this is my last birth, now there are no more likely to be any condition. ‘”
The above shows how he find his way into the first four Jhanas , which he later considered as ” samma samadhi” . It doesn’t appears to be something he has been practicing often or mastered before practicing the 7th and 8th jhanas. I wouldn’t say that ” samma samadhi ” originated from somewhere else.
iMeditation, below quotes sound very “BUDDHA-ISH” …
(Quote and unquote)
“Expectation is the root of all heartache” – William Shakespeare
“Desire of having is the sin of covetousness” – William Shakespeare
“Give every man thy year, but few thy voice” – William Shakespeare
“Everyone ought to bear patiently the results of his own conduct” – William Shakespeare
“Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery”- William Shakespeare
“Give me my rob, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me” – William Shakespeare
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none”- W.Shakespeare
“A fool thinks himself to be wise,but a wise man knows himself to be a fool” -W.Shakespeare
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day,thou canst not then be false to any man.”-W. Shakespeare
“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”-W.Shakespeare
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, a full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”- W.Shakespeare