What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

What do you really think of monks and nuns in the West (an anonymous survey)

I think they are crucial for the establishment of the Buddhadharma here, and have had good experiences
58
60%
I think they are crucial for the establishment of the Buddhadharma here, even though I have had mostly bad experiences
3
3%
I don't have an opinion one way or the other
8
8%
I don't think they are necessary, because the dharma can be transmitted without monastics
15
16%
I just don't think that Westerners are interested in supporting monasticism financially
12
13%
 
Total votes : 96

Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:39 pm

seeker242 wrote:Western monks and nuns are an intrinsic part of the 3rd jewel of the 3 jewels! Sangha is called 3rd Jewel for a reason! A Sangha with no renunciates? What kind of sangha is that?! A one that is lacking IMO! I wish there were many more monks/nuns in the west!

:namaste:



Sangha means all practitioners/or alternatively only realized practitioners (this is the actual Sangha Jewel".

It has nothing to do with the color of ones clothes or the length of ones hair.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:41 pm

In any event, in the US and in Northern Europe, you absorb the cultural morays if you want to get ahead.


This may well be true in many cases but there are exceptions. Canada (if one ignores the current, embarrassing secular charter bill in Quebec) has a different philosophy, an official policy of multiculturalism. Britain is also a bit different.

And in terms of northern Europe here in the Netherlands for example, as well as in parts of Germany and Switzerland there are significant pockets of Catholicism. Exclusively Protestant countries are rather rare, actually- perhaps Scandinavia etc.


Home to about eight per cent of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics - more of the faithful than any country outside Brazil - Mexico has seen a slow but steady decline in people who self-identify with the faith. Currently about 82.7 per cent of Mexicans consider themselves Catholic, down from 88 per cent in 2000 and 96 per cent in 1970. Evangelical protestant denominations are believed responsible for much of the drop.


This is of course true but Catholicism is still a huge force, on the cultural level too. Latinos in diaspora tend to have a stronger link with their Catholic faith than those at home, as is the case with many cultural and ethic minorities. It will be a long time before Protestantism takes over in SA, but it is possible.

As it mentions, though, it is the Evangelical branches of Protestantism that are growing, so as I stated above people conditioned by those schools of religion are very unlikely to be interested in Buddhism anyways.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:47 pm

Put your money where your mouth is


Actually KD has extended assistance to Western monastics.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:49 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
Put your money where your mouth is


Actually KD has extended assistance to Western monastics.



Well, that is good. I like a man who carries through on his stated convictions.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby seeker242 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:
seeker242 wrote:Western monks and nuns are an intrinsic part of the 3rd jewel of the 3 jewels! Sangha is called 3rd Jewel for a reason! A Sangha with no renunciates? What kind of sangha is that?! A one that is lacking IMO! I wish there were many more monks/nuns in the west!

:namaste:



Sangha means all practitioners/or alternatively only realized practitioners (this is the actual Sangha Jewel".

It has nothing to do with the color of ones clothes or the length of ones hair.


Yes, it means all practitioners, including monastics!
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:54 pm

yes of course there is the Arya Sangha jewel, as Malcolm mentioned. This is the actual Sangha refuge.

But also there is the conventional four fold Sangha of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Norwegian » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:55 pm

JKhedrup,

A slight side-step here:

As for Norway (since you said Scandinavia) being Protestant, that's sort of an on-paper-only issue when seen in the larger context of things. Sure, we have Christians here, and a few variants of it as well, for example Laestadianism ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laestadianism ), having solid roots in north Norway. And we have a state church too.

But:

While 77% of Norwegians are members of the Church of Norway, one has to understand that they are made members of the church automatically upon birth. You have to ask to be removed from the church records, and only then are you removed.
Only 20% of Norwegians think that religion occupies an important place in their life, "the fourth-lowest such percentage in the world (only Estonia, Sweden and Denmark are lower)" to quote Wikipedia. And, about 2% of Norwegians attend church. That's the lowest percentage in Europe, according to 2009 and 2010 data...
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Jikan » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:58 pm

A quick lick in a fast-moving thread:

Many Latinos are already Protestantized but for very different reasons and in rather different ways from the ones M. Weber described. See "Planet of Slums" (the article not the book) by M Davis for an idea of why.

http://newleftreview.org/II/26/mike-dav ... t-of-slums

Overall, I think we need to be careful how we generalize, and in particular, about how we generalize the concepts "western" and "buddhism".
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:58 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
As it mentions, though, it is the Evangelical branches of Protestantism that are growing, so as I stated above people conditioned by those schools of religion are very unlikely to be interested in Buddhism anyways.


This is all besides the point.

The real point of your question is "Are monastics necessary for the continued transmission of Dharma in the West". I think not. It does not mean I am against people taking robes, though in the end it often proves to have been a bad decision.

There is no state support for monastics in the west. This has always served as the precondition for the success of the monastic Sangha. And it still is the condition which supports the the Tibetan monastic establishment. In fact, the only good argument for maintaing the TGIE is that it supports the monasteries in India (otherwise, it will never regain Tibet so is sort of an anachronism). Without it, I think many Tibetan monasteries in India would disappear.

The shifting fortunes of Chinese monasticism has also been tied to the state, even in modern Taiwan.

in the end, the West is a howling wilderness still for Buddhist monasticism. And given that we live in a very degenerate era, I do not think it will be relevant or able to respond to the needs of westerners in the long term.

Still, you can try.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:59 pm

Thanks- so it would seem that Secularism could be said to be the dominant force in Scandinavia?
This is interesting.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:08 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Thanks- so it would seem that Secularism could be said to be the dominant force in Scandinavia?
This is interesting.



Its the dominant force in America too, in the Blue States at any rate.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Jikan » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:12 pm

My response doesn't correspond to any of the options given in the poll, so here goes:

I'm glad at the Vinaya is available to people who wish to practice it, insofar as it's a helpful form of practice for them (it meets their needs) and for the community in which they practice.

I rejoice in the practice of those who are able to pull it off. :woohoo:
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:23 pm

There is no state support for monastics in the west. This has always served as the precondition for the success of the monastic Sangha. And it still is the condition which supports the the Tibetan monastic establishment. In fact, the only good argument for maintaing the TGIE is that it supports the monasteries in India (otherwise, it will never regain Tibet so is sort of an anachronism). Without it, I think many Tibetan monasteries in India would disappear.

The shifting fortunes of Chinese monasticism has also been tied to the state, even in modern Taiwan.

in the end, the West is a howling wilderness still for Buddhist monasticism. And given that we live in a very degenerate era, I do not think it will be relevant or able to respond to the needs of westerners in the long term.

Still, you can try.


Malcolm I am actually sharing very similar opinions. The monasteries in India I think are already in a very precarious situation. There is still a good level of practice and scholarship, but with the border to Tibet pretty much closed and less and less interest in monasticism this will not be long lasting. I think we could see them close in my life time.

I can try but only for myself really- because this way of life I see as a great support in my practice personally, and it also gives me the freedom from home and family life that helps me serve dharma full time (though a single layperson uninterested in a relationship could function similarly). Translating and working with a monastic virtuous friend of course provides steady inspiration which is probably part of the reason I remain in robes despite so many obstacles in the beginning.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby anjali » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:44 pm

Since the Buddha was a monk, there will always be Buddhists who will want to follow his example, even in the West. I think they should be given that opportunity.

It is an interesting question though. In the Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Islam don't have monastic traditions--only Christianity does. I've had the good fortune to meet some good monks in the Christian tradition (Trappist). In the Hindu tradition I have also had the chance to meet some wonderful swamis.In the Buddhist tradition I have also had an opportunity to meet excellent monks from Theravada, Zen, Chan and TB. What I have noticed about the best ones is their humility and their dedicated service and commitment to being living embodiments of their traditions.

Of course this has nothing to do with a person's level of realization, but it is an outer path for some. It would be a shame, in my opinion, not to at least have that as an option available in the West to some who feel the calling.
  • The object of the game is to go on playing it. --John Von Neumann
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:50 pm

anjali wrote:Since the Buddha was a monk


There have been a lot of Buddhas, not all of them were monks.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby anjali » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:06 pm

Malcolm wrote:
anjali wrote:Since the Buddha was a monk


There have been a lot of Buddhas, not all of them were monks.


No doubt, but I bet in some lifetimes they were monastics, dedicating their lives to monastic discipline and practice. I think when most people think of the Buddhist tradition they are thinking of the Buddhism with Shakyamuni Buddha as the founder. Therefore he represents a shining example for those who take him as their root lineage guru. And one aspect of his example was monasticism. Not everyone's cup of tea, but it will be for some.
Last edited by anjali on Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • The object of the game is to go on playing it. --John Von Neumann
  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby kirtu » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:14 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Thanks- so it would seem that Secularism could be said to be the dominant force in Scandinavia?
This is interesting.


Secularism is the dominant force in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy too. I'm not sure it's not in Poland as well even though the churches were constantly giving services after the fall of Communism (are they still?) as Catholicism is tied directly to Polish identity.

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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Qing Tian » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:16 pm

It seems that no matter how many times people say they embrace impermanence there remains a strong desire to retain permanent modalities. The time of cloistered monastic orders is ending, slowly but surely. Perhaps the time is approaching when wandering dharma practitioners become more common. Perhaps in time these wandering monks will congregate. Perhaps when the hour is auspicious a new monastic tradition will begin.

Lamenting that which is lost,
Fearing that which has yet to arise,
The harmony of our lives vanishes.

Irrespective of the fate of monasticism it is my wish that all sentient beings may be released from suffering, and that all may be reborn in the Pure Land. To this end I dedicate all merit that I may accumulate.
Namo Amituofo

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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby kirtu » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:18 pm

Malcolm wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:Thanks- so it would seem that Secularism could be said to be the dominant force in Scandinavia?
This is interesting.



Its the dominant force in America too, in the Blue States at any rate.


Don't fool yourself - secularism is the dominant force in the US as well including the so-called Red States. People have adopted Ayn Randism wholesale and this is anti-religious from any perspective. People may mouth Christianity but by and large they are Rand acolytes.

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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:23 pm

anjali wrote: I think when most people think of the Buddhist tradition they are thinking of the Buddhism with Shakyamuni Buddha as the founder.


Buddhadharma has no founder. It has no historical origin. That is what you discover when you read Buddhist sūtras carefully, even the so called "early" ones.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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