Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Simon E. » Tue May 15, 2012 11:15 am

Its not about what we have or lack. Its about attachment. Its possible to argue that the greater the material wealth the greater the attachment...but there are exceptions. It is also possible to be attached to poverty. Or at least to a particular political or philosophical view which is aversive to material things. And that can be another form of attachment.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2543
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Seishin » Tue May 15, 2012 11:26 am

Post retracted.

Gassho,
Seishin.
Last edited by Seishin on Tue May 15, 2012 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1419
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Jikan » Tue May 15, 2012 11:40 am

$30/K a year (US) would have you living under a canoe and eating two meals/day in most American cities if you have a family to support.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5292
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue May 15, 2012 11:49 am

:smile:
Interesting topic.
Now I like to qoute stories...teaching stories I guess you could call them....so here's one relevant to this topic.
It's called:

The Stingy Artist

Gessen was an artist monk. Before he would start a drawing or painting he always insisted upon being paid in advance, and his fees were high. He was known as the "Stingy Artist."

A geisha once gave him a commission for a painting. "How much can you pay?" inquired Gessen.

"'Whatever you charge," replied the girl, "but I want you to do the work in front of me."

So on a certain day Gessen was called by the geisha. She was holding a feast for her patron.

Gessen with fine brush work did the paining. When it was completed he asked the highest sum of his time.

He received his pay. Then the geisha turned to her patron saying: "All this artist wants is money. His paintings are fine but his mind is dirty; money has caused it to become muddy. Drawn by such a filthy mind, his work is not fit to exhibit. It is just about good enough for one of my petticoats."

Removing her skirt, she then asked Gessen to do another picture on the back of her petticoat.

"How much will you pay?" asked Gessen.

"Oh, any amount," answered the girl.

Gessen named a fancy price, painted the picture in the manner requested, and went away.
(He recieved much criticisim for this action).

It was learned later that Gessen had these reasons for desiring money:

A ravaging famine often visited his province. The rich would not help the poor, so Gessen had a secret warehouse, unknown to anyone, which he kept filled with grain, prepared for these emergencies.

From his village to the National Shrine the road was in very poor condition and many travelers suffered while traversing it. He desired to build a better road.

His teacher had passed away without realizing his wish to build a temple, and Gessen wished to complete this temple for him.

After Gessen had accomplished his three wishes he threw away his brushes and artist's materials and, retiring to the mountains, never painted again.
---------------------------

Do you see the point of that story....and how it's relevant to this topic?
:smile:
:smile:
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
User avatar
Quiet Heart
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Thu May 19, 2011 10:57 am
Location: Bangkok Thailand

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Tue May 15, 2012 11:55 am

Being born into a situation where a comfortable life or wealth is Karma. A result of past positive actions in previous lives. Now what you do with what you have in this life is your choice.
Some people aren't Buddhist and do a lot for people "less fortunate" than they are.
And many do it for the correct reasons, they just don't like to see people suffer.
There are many organizations that operate only on public donations. Horses for the Handicapped for example, they run a program funded by the public. No government funds, just the charity of people who want to bring a bit of joy into someones life.

I agree that this is not everyone, but there are many more people that have more than enough to live comfortably. But one may live a life with wealth, as long as they're not attached to what they have, they are practicing Dharma.

Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
User avatar
Dave The Seeker
 
Posts: 409
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:02 pm
Location: Reading MI USA

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Doshin » Tue May 15, 2012 12:10 pm

Frank wrote:There are many Dharma teachers who are absurdly wealthy, drive fancy cars and live in mansions. Can we really accept that these people understand the Dharma enough to teach it to others?


I might be wrong, but I do not learn Dhamma (from others), I study it and make my own conclusions.

Frank wrote:It seems like someone who really gets it and is rich for whatever reason would take care of their own needs modestly, 200,000 dollar house, 20,000 dollar car, and so on. Certainly not living in poverty but far from over doing it. So they make 500,000 dollars a year and since they live well below their means, they can put everything left over into helping others and spreading the Dharma.


I do not seek the path of my teacher, but I do aim at arriving at the same goal. A teacher should be able to pin-point my mistakes/misunderstandings, not by being an example but by relating it to my current place on my path. If you want your teacher to be perfect I don't think its a teacher you seek, rather a role-model to strive at.

Your topic is:
Frank wrote:Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?


Does it matter ?

It seems that topic starts a lot of emotions in you. Have you ever thought of why it does so ? Does it take you closer to your goal, or does take you away from it ? I.e. is it well-spend time, to argue on others faults ?

Gassho,
Doshin
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:06 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Seishin » Tue May 15, 2012 12:15 pm

Jikan wrote:$30/K a year (US) would have you living under a canoe and eating two meals/day in most American cities if you have a family to support.


GOOD LORD! :shock:

I retract my statement then :emb: Sorry Frank.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1419
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby mindyourmind » Tue May 15, 2012 1:13 pm

Some of this finger-pointing is probably justified (although we seem to be rather light when it gets to the specifics), but a part of the real or perceived problem is also the fact that our society does not adequately provide for dharma students/monks and teachers, like one would find in the East and in traditional dharma societies.

That creates a need for teachers and others to provide for themselves, and sometimes that slope leads downhill from there.
As bad as bad becomes its not a part of you

Talk Talk
User avatar
mindyourmind
 
Posts: 459
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:11 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Jikan » Tue May 15, 2012 1:56 pm

Doshin wrote:
Frank wrote:There are many Dharma teachers who are absurdly wealthy, drive fancy cars and live in mansions. Can we really accept that these people understand the Dharma enough to teach it to others?


I might be wrong, but I do not learn Dhamma (from others), I study it and make my own conclusions.

Frank wrote:It seems like someone who really gets it and is rich for whatever reason would take care of their own needs modestly, 200,000 dollar house, 20,000 dollar car, and so on. Certainly not living in poverty but far from over doing it. So they make 500,000 dollars a year and since they live well below their means, they can put everything left over into helping others and spreading the Dharma.


I do not seek the path of my teacher, but I do aim at arriving at the same goal. A teacher should be able to pin-point my mistakes/misunderstandings, not by being an example but by relating it to my current place on my path. If you want your teacher to be perfect I don't think its a teacher you seek, rather a role-model to strive at.

Your topic is:
Frank wrote:Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?


Does it matter ?

It seems that topic starts a lot of emotions in you. Have you ever thought of why it does so ? Does it take you closer to your goal, or does take you away from it ? I.e. is it well-spend time, to argue on others faults ?

Gassho,


The fundamental question has to do with experience. Wealth makes it possible to shield one (if only temporarily) from the consequences of one's actions. You can limit the exposure you and your family have to risk, disease, hunger, and hardship; and if those come, you can deal with them readily. This means that wealthy people will relate to noble truth #1 differently from the rest of the world, which faces a much more immediate exposure to the salty side of things:

http://newleftreview.org/A2496

Does this difference affect one's understanding, at the level of experience, of the most fundamental fact of samsaric life, the point from which the rest of the Dharma follows? That's the crux of the biscuit. I think it's an open question. I don't know the answer, if there is one.

To your point: you seek a teacher with a better understanding of Dharma than your own in order to learn something, right? Would you seek a teacher with a limited understanding of Dharma? I think this question might be contingent on the first one.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5292
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Challenge23 » Tue May 15, 2012 2:56 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Frank wrote:Hypothetically think about my post and answer it from that perspective.


Fair enough. How about not having any paid Dharma teachers, just monks and nuns? That would be okay by me. There could be volunteer lay teachers / assistants at temples and monasteries, but without pay.


That would be ideal but it would be only realistic in a society that has Buddhism as an institution or you'd have to accept that nobody could do Dharma work full time. Someone would have to pay for food, rent, medical care, that sort of thing. From my understanding in societies with Buddhism as an institution such things are paid for by rich people with a guilty conscience who want to make sure that they will have a favorable next life.

In regards to the OP, I'll have to first give my opinion on money. In order to do pretty much anything requires time and energy. Making money requires time and energy and, what most people don't realize, managing money takes time and energy. If someone has lots of money that means that they have to spend a lot of time managing it and dealing with the problems that having lots of money entails. That time and energy has to come from somewhere.

On the other hand, someone who doesn't have that much money doesn't have those problems and could have more time to address Dharma issues. Or they could be overwhelmed by the problems that come from not having that much money. The best case from my observation would be something like the arrangement the teacher in the book "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass seems to have. He doesn't really have anything and his everyday needs are taken care of by other people so he can devote himself fully to his religious practice. However, I suspect that even that arrangement has problems because of the whole First Noble Truth thing and because I'm a glass half empty kind of guy.
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
User avatar
Challenge23
 
Posts: 127
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:36 pm

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Will » Tue May 15, 2012 2:57 pm

For the entire history of Gautama Buddha's dispensation there have been powerful & very rich lay supporters, kings even. Since they were good Buddhist Dharma protectors, any modern rich person could be the same.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
User avatar
Will
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby NIRMAL2 » Tue May 15, 2012 3:50 pm

It's basically the fault of the disciples.They want their Gurus to move around in expensive cars, put up in 5 star hotels and live in grand houses to show how popular the Guru is.They wish to attract as many followers as possible in this way.

It is not important to have a large majority of followers as the purpose of Buddhism is not war.For fighting we need a large membership.But for Samadhi and Great Compassion, few is better as real Buddhists always emphasize Wisdom, Samadhi and Realization.

Teaching the Dharma is not like opening a theatre.Just sell as many tickets as one can and attract the majority, but what good is this type of lost majority?The Guru is the minority.He has to be wise one, the powerful one.He may also be the sinful one.It is basically up to the Guru to open his mouth to say "No" or "Yes" to his descilpes.He carries the gun.

But should we not be looking inwards?
Last edited by nirmal on Tue May 15, 2012 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
NIRMAL2
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:48 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 15, 2012 3:54 pm

You probably have a standard of living superior to that of kings in the past.

It is all a matter of perspective.

We are part of the global aristocracy. Most of the human population cannot conceive of owning a computer. If you fly or own a car, you're already more wealthy than the majority of humanity.

Most of us in the first world fail to realize that we're part of the global aristocracy. We might even be poor in our home countries, but the world is setup in such a way that favours our luxurious and quite decadent lifestyles enabling us to live well at the expense of others.

Again, it is a matter of perspective.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Frank » Tue May 15, 2012 4:15 pm

Ah, so it's irrelevant and related to something I'm unaware of, so I delete it.
Last edited by Frank on Tue May 15, 2012 4:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Frank
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 7:21 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby NIRMAL2 » Tue May 15, 2012 4:25 pm

AN 8.54
PTS: A iv 281
Dighajanu (Vyagghapajja) Sutta: Conditions of Welfare
translated from the Pali by
Narada Thera
© 1997–2012
Alternate translation: Thanissaro

Translator's note: In this sutta, the Buddha instructs rich householders how to preserve and increase their prosperity and how to avoid loss of wealth. Wealth alone, however, does not make a complete man nor a harmonious society. Possession of wealth all too often multiplies man's desires, and he is ever in the pursuit of amassing more wealth and power. This unrestrained craving, however, leaves him dissatisfied and stifles his inner growth. It creates conflict and disharmony in society through the resentment of the underprivileged who feel themselves exploited by the effects of unrestrained craving.

Therefore the Buddha follows up on his advice on material welfare with four essential conditions for spiritual welfare: confidence (in the Master's enlightenment), virtue, liberality and wisdom. These four will instill in man a sense of higher values. He will then not only pursue his own material concern, but also be aware of his duty toward society. To mention only one of the implications: a wisely and generously employed liberality will reduce tensions and conflicts in society. Thus the observing of these conditions of material and spiritual welfare will make for an ideal citizen in an ideal society.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nara.html
NIRMAL2
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:48 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Wesley1982 » Tue May 15, 2012 4:28 pm

Probably depends on the characteristics of that person living in luxury.
User avatar
Wesley1982
 
Posts: 739
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:45 pm
Location: Magga ~ Path to Liberation.

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Seishin » Tue May 15, 2012 4:30 pm

Frank wrote: So... yeah, I'm not sure where you got that idea?


It was in response to a post that I had deleted. Sorry for any confusion.

Gassho,
Seishin.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1419
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Will » Tue May 15, 2012 4:52 pm

Buddhadharma says that material wealth is a result of past lives generosity, contrariwise poverty is a result of past lives stinginess. If we are miserly with the monies we now have, we will lose it soon or be reborn poor. If we are generous, practicing dana well, we will always have enough to share and benefit materially other beings.

In Nagarjuna's 20 vows near the end of his Ratnavali, he wishes:

May they be able to obtain all things without limit, Just as if they held in their hands a wish-fulfilling jewel. May this continue endlessly, even to the exhaustion of future time. I pray that beings will enjoy just such circumstances as these.


He is wishing beings 'all things' which includes material wealth. He does not teach everyone having the same material status nor that we should bad-mouth wealth or praise poverty.

There are selfish rich folk and selfish poor folk; just as there are selfless people in all walks of life.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
User avatar
Will
 
Posts: 1922
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:21 am

Re: Can someone living in great luxury truly understand Dharma?

Postby Simon E. » Tue May 15, 2012 6:02 pm

I think that is well put. :good:
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2543
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Previous

Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 9 guests

>