Monastics & their family

Monastics & their family

Postby plwk » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:55 am

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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:53 pm

Thanks for sharing the video and story.
Chinese Buddhism has many great aspects to it- vegetarianism, humanistic social engagement, a rich textual tradition and practice traditions that are still vibrant despite the advent of communism in the mainland.

However, I find the take of Chinese monastic life (at least as I have encountered it in the modern context) to be a little bit extreme. They really seem in many cases to advocate the complete abandonment of family- nearly to the point of not thinking about the family. Master Shen Yen mentioned that for the parents sometimes it is worse than having a child die because at least if they died there can be a funeral plaque. What a terrible shame, where does this mentality stem from? Is it really that it takes the chronic illness of a parent for their monk or nun child to return to them to help?

I have not seen in in many non-Western practitioners outside Chinese Buddhism. Tibetan monks and nuns generally maintain tight connections to their families, except for maybe the period of solitary retreat. Even when they must go into exile to study, they call whenever possible, and when the border is open the parents, despite great financial hardship in many cases, come to visit. I remember the stories of Milarepa's sister traveling over mountain ranges to visit him. HH Dalai Lama kept close contact with his mother after the initial period of intensive monastic training, as did Lama Zopa Rinpoche and others.

Even in the austere Thai Forest tradition, two of its greatest masters- Ajahn Maha Boowa and Ajahn Chah- had their mothers live nearby their monasteries for long periods of monastic life.

I think perhaps the term qiu jia "leaving home"- is taken a little bit too literally for my taste. Remember, even Lord Buddha returned home to visit, his son ordained as a novice monk, and he went to a heavenly realm to teach his mother...

Perhaps if things were not so cut and dry more Chinese parents would be willing to allow their children to ordain.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby PorkChop » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:19 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I think perhaps the term qiu jia "leaving home"- is taken a little bit too literally for my taste. Remember, even Lord Buddha returned home to visit, his son ordained as a novice monk, and he went to a heavenly realm to teach his mother...


As a noob coming from a different culture, renunciation of people period is one of the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around.

If the Pali Jataka tales are to be believed (as far as I know, they're also the only early references to Rahula being the Buddha's son and Yashodara being his wife beside the Lalitavistara sutra); then Yashodara also ordained, became an Arahant, and achieved the highest level in terms of number of past lives remembered. There's a statement in the Pali Jatakas about how Yashodara remembered being the one by the Buddha's side for all those innumerable kalpas of prior existences...
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Indrajala » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:35 pm

JKhedrup wrote:However, I find the take of Chinese monastic life (at least as I have encountered it in the modern context) to be a little bit extreme.


In the old days I don't know if it was such a big deal. Having a daughter or son in the local monastery might have been quite common (it sounds like it was given what Ven. Hongyi was saying, and he died in 1942). In fact the situation might have often been like it is/was in Tibetan Buddhism where families would deposit their kids in monasteries when times got rough. In much of rural China your life options were limited and normally determined by family decisions and economics. Provided a son was prepared to marry and carry on the family line and property, then having other kids in a monastery probably wasn't so drastic for many people, though come the 20th century with urbanization and development of a cash economy away from traditional rural life, the standards would have changed considerably.

Having your kid exit the household and being one less mouth to feed came to mean losing a wage earner. In the absence of social security and a welfare state, your kids were your insurance policy (this is still often the case it seems). So, come the cash economy the need to have your kids producing income became quite a necessity rather than perhaps just having the security of at least one son carrying on the family farm and living out your old age there.

This is just my speculation of course. :smile:

One monk told me how when he decided to become a monk his mother was devastated and broke down into tears for an hour. "You're supposed to become a CEO of a company, not a monk!"

One big issue is the long standing perception of monasticism as being an escape for people who fail at life. Master Sheng Yen was lamenting this widespread stereotype in the 60s.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:50 pm

They are interesting insights Huseng.

I have heard it many times so I know what Master Sheng Yen says is true that some parents see having a child ordain is more difficult to endure than their death.

This attitude has always puzzled me. I remember a family of 4 children that used to attend a Chinese temple I was involved with. They were very devout, and the mother forced the children to participate in many of the temple activities and rituals. However when one daughter in a family of 3 girls and 1 son voiced the desire to maybe become a nun, the mother completely flipped and forced the entire family to stop attending the temple.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Indrajala » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:52 pm

JKhedrup wrote:This attitude has always puzzled me. I remember a family of 4 children that used to attend a Chinese temple I was involved with. They were very devout, and the mother forced the children to participate in many of the temple activities and rituals. However when one daughter in a family of 3 girls and 1 son voiced the desire to maybe become a nun, the mother completely flipped and forced the entire family to stop attending the temple.


It is probably the in-built concern about "who will look after me when I'm old"? The emotions associated with that concern are enough to redirect someone's behaviour.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby icylake » Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:40 pm

JKhedrup wrote:They are interesting insights Huseng.

I have heard it many times so I know what Master Sheng Yen says is true that some parents see having a child ordain is more difficult to endure than their death.

This attitude has always puzzled me. I remember a family of 4 children that used to attend a Chinese temple I was involved with. They were very devout, and the mother forced the children to participate in many of the temple activities and rituals. However when one daughter in a family of 3 girls and 1 son voiced the desire to maybe become a nun, the mother completely flipped and forced the entire family to stop attending the temple.


it's very common in East Asia(at least China and Korea where confucianism prevailed once. having pious belief is one thing, being ordained as monk/nun is another.. it can be considered as "giving up family, infidelity to parents and so on. especially to the middle-higher classes. early years, in Korea, if a son was ordained as a monk, then his name would be erased from the family pedigree, regarded him as who had not existed. of course the peasants maybe different.

so i've read zen master seong Cheol's father had set a net in the stream to catch the fish to revenge Buddha, when his only son was ordained, and seong Chol never had seen his family for many years.
even now, i've heard in rare cases (rare, not many :smile: ), some parents would appear in the vinaya stadium temple where ordination ceremony held to bring them back home. :shrug:
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Huifeng » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:00 am

Well, I know plenty of Taiwanese monastics who keep good connections with their secular families, on a number of levels. FGS has a kind of family day every year. Parents of monastics (eg. Ven X) are known to other monastics as "X mama" and "X papa", effectively meaning that rather than losing their children, they are actually kind of gaining many more children. Moreover, parents of FGS monastics are also looked after in their old age by the monastery, we have homes for this, for example, and other arrangements. That's FGS, but I know of similar situations for a number of non-FGS monastics, too.

Also, while some parents do not want their children to renounce, there are many parents - particularly ones who are devout Buddhists themselves - who are very happy for this to happen. Even to the point of actively encouraging their children to study at the seminary, participate in short term monastic retreats, or more. The ways in which parents act, should be clearly distinguished from the ways in which monastics act.

So, from my experience, I really cannot say that there is any kind of extreme attitude towards renunciation and secular families, and one may want to get a broader picture before coming to conclusions.

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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:09 am

So, from my experience, I really cannot say that there is any kind of extreme attitude towards renunciation and secular families, and one may want to get a broader picture before coming to conclusions.


This is fair as you have much more exposure and experience with Chinese culture and monasticism than I do. And certainly the way FGS and other institutions take care of the older monastics and the poorer families of those monastics is exceptional (I fully realize with my decision to work within Tibetan Buddhism I could be out on the street in my old age- this is something I worry about from time to time- I am only human! But what can I do, this is the tradition where I function the best and connect better with the masters)

But in the clip Master Shen Yen did say for many parents the renunciation of their children was worse than if the child had died. (Definitely I don't think he was encouraging this attitude, but the fact he mentioned it and Fa Gu San included it is a video indicates to me that enough people think this way for the master to want to respond to it).

There are of course devoted temple families who might even encourage their children to ordain and are disappointed when they become accountants/retail managers/lawyers/schoolteachers etc. instead of monks or nuns. I have met some, but not many. The initial period of seclusion that many of the seminaries insist on, not allowing letters or phone calls, seems to be difficult for many families (I am not sure how this varies from temple to temple).


But many of the Chinese monastics I have met and continue to meet told me that their parents were, at least initially, very upset with their decision to ordain. I have a friend whose parents told her she must wear a wig when she comes to visit as the embarassment of her ordination would shame the family. I have also heard several stories of parents appealing to the abbots several temples not to ordain their children. In one temple in Taiwan (not FGS or Dharma Drum, but another large one) when the master ordained some monks and nuns without the permission of their parents, the parents came to the temple and tried to take them home.

Even the parents of Western monastics I have met over the years do not tend to have such a reaction (though some are initially upset). And certainly it seems that in Tibetan, Thai and Viet Namese families the parents are overjoyed when their children enter the temple. This is changing somewhat in exile with the Tibetans (although not to the point of parents opposing the ordination of their children), but most of the families in Tibet think that if there is a monastic in the family it brings them merit (sometimes they even send children to the monastery that don't have a vocation for it, but that's a topic for another thread). Thai families are also very proud if a son can stay a monk for life, even in the rapidly modernizing country. Despite communism, many Viet Namese families seem to feel the same way.

If it is not a more conservative attitude towards renunciation that is the cause of this perhaps we could look at other cultural and insitutional factors,

I am not sure as to the sociological/cultural reasons for this difference. Initially I thought it had something to do with communism, but that is also a factor in Tibet and Viet Nam, as well as several of the Theravada countries. If I could venture a guess I would say that maybe it has something to do with the strong Confucian values that still permeate Chinese culture. Buddhism seems to have been a difficult fit, as when it entered China there was already a strongly established culture and social framework. To me it seems that in many ways Buddhism and Confucianism are diametrically opposed, though certainly many great scholars have tried to reconcile them.

So to me it seems their is a clear difference. I am not setting the blame for this only with the temples at all. But there does seem to be something within Chinese culture that sees it as a pity when a younger person ordains. And certainly parents often seem to have a very strong influence over the career/vocation choices of their children, so my feeling is that Chinese Buddhism is hindered by this attitude.

That being said, in modernizing countries throughout the world the number of people wishing to enter monastic life will continue to dwindle for reasons other than parental opposition, but this does seem to be an issue in the Chinese diaspora.

In Western countries too, now, the number of people wishing to ordain is already markedly less than it was in the 1990s, at least in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism. But I think this is due to the growth of "lay Buddhism"- a topic for another thread.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Devotionary » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:59 am

Huseng wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:This attitude has always puzzled me. I remember a family of 4 children that used to attend a Chinese temple I was involved with. They were very devout, and the mother forced the children to participate in many of the temple activities and rituals. However when one daughter in a family of 3 girls and 1 son voiced the desire to maybe become a nun, the mother completely flipped and forced the entire family to stop attending the temple.


It is probably the in-built concern about "who will look after me when I'm old"? The emotions associated with that concern are enough to redirect someone's behaviour.


I agree with you. In traditional Chinese culture, there's a saying 不孝有三, or "there are three unfilial acts," one of which is not marrying/creating descendants/maintaining family life. In this case, becoming a monk is seen as losing one's love and respect for parents; likewise, "disgraced" women were usually sent off to nunneries. (Similar to Western practice, I think!)

Then again, for families who are strongly Buddhist, having a child enter the Sangha is an honor.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Devotionary » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:05 am

JKhedrup wrote:
So, from my experience, I really cannot say that there is any kind of extreme attitude towards renunciation and secular families, and one may want to get a broader picture before coming to conclusions.

In one temple in Taiwan (not FGS or Dharma Drum, but another large one) when the master ordained some monks and nuns without the permission of their parents, the parents came to the temple and tried to take them home.



Yes, I know of this event, it was certainly a big scandal. Ordinations that took place after that batch required applicants to present explicitly clear consent forms from the parents of those concerned, and it hasn't been a problem since. (Although it can be said that choosing to ordain is an individual right; and to be fair, none of those ordained were minors, I think, but they certainly were young. It's just that parental dictates are weightier to the Chinese than even one's personal decisions.)
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:05 pm

Yes I think that according to secular laws the choice to ordain is an individual right, but according to the Buddhist vinaya the consent of one's parents is required in they are still living.
It is just very puzzling to me that it seems many Taiwanese parents would not want their children to ordain, especially considering, as mentioned above, that Taiwanese Buddhist organizations tend to take care of their monastics for life. It would seem to be a stable future in a community that values the monk/nun, rather than a corporation where everyone is seen as "disposable".
I am really thinking the problem lies with the idea of people leaving home in a family centred culture built upon Confucian morals. As you mentioned, in a culture shaped by such values some parents might see ordination as unfilial.
I would really like to read more about the history of the monastic Sangha in the Chinese tradition but am hindered by not knowing the language.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Indrajala » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:58 pm

Huifeng wrote: Moreover, parents of FGS monastics are also looked after in their old age by the monastery, we have homes for this, for example, and other arrangements. That's FGS, but I know of similar situations for a number of non-FGS monastics, too.


However, that's a relatively recent development in Chinese Buddhist history (and FGS is relatively speaking quite new), and the organization you belong to has vast sums of wealth to spend on such things. That's different from in Tibetan Buddhism where it isn't uncommon for middle-aged monks to disrobe to look after their parents.

If FGS has the money to provide care for the parents of monastics, then it ensures that monastics can remain as such for life in a demographic situation where Taiwanese families have so few children on average (to say nothing of pensions being insufficient). However, this is only possible because the organization is quite wealthy. It is not a normal precedent either in the present global context or historically in China or anywhere else. If FGS wasn't so wealthy, there wouldn't be such facilities for the parents of monastics. Basically, there is nothing normal about it. The long-term sustainability of such arrangements is also doubtful given the economic prospects ahead of us.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Devotionary » Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:19 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Yes I think that according to secular laws the choice to ordain is an individual right, but according to the Buddhist vinaya the consent of one's parents is required in they are still living.
It is just very puzzling to me that it seems many Taiwanese parents would not want their children to ordain, especially considering, as mentioned above, that Taiwanese Buddhist organizations tend to take care of their monastics for life. It would seem to be a stable future in a community that values the monk/nun, rather than a corporation where everyone is seen as "disposable".
I am really thinking the problem lies with the idea of people leaving home in a family centred culture built upon Confucian morals. As you mentioned, in a culture shaped by such values some parents might see ordination as unfilial.
I would really like to read more about the history of the monastic Sangha in the Chinese tradition but am hindered by not knowing the language.


The theme of "children-leaving-to-be-monks-causing-the-family-disgrace/abandonment" is really quite common in popular Chinese literature, television, etc. But you're right, these are usually in Chinese. And I really agree with you, it's more of a Confucian problem, than Buddhist. (Certainly, Theravada and Tibetan societies seem to be more encouraging with ordination.)

As for the Vinaya rule on parental consent--that big temple has rectified its logistical system, by being very explicit about parental consent for newly ordained monastics.

Huseng wrote:y Huseng » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:58 pm

Huifeng wrote: Moreover, parents of FGS monastics are also looked after in their old age by the monastery, we have homes for this, for example, and other arrangements. That's FGS, but I know of similar situations for a number of non-FGS monastics, too.



However, that's a relatively recent development in Chinese Buddhist history (and FGS is relatively speaking quite new), and the organization you belong to has vast sums of wealth to spend on such things. That's different from in Tibetan Buddhism where it isn't uncommon for middle-aged monks to disrobe to look after their parents.

If FGS has the money to provide care for the parents of monastics, then it ensures that monastics can remain as such for life in a demographic situation where Taiwanese families have so few children on average (to say nothing of pensions being insufficient). However, this is only possible because the organization is quite wealthy. It is not a normal precedent either in the present global context or historically in China or anywhere else. If FGS wasn't so wealthy, there wouldn't be such facilities for the parents of monastics. Basically, there is nothing normal about it. The long-term sustainability of such arrangements is also doubtful given the economic prospects ahead of us.


You're right, Huseng; it is a modern phenomenon. In the Chung Tai system, at least, those seeking ordination are likewise made to prove (officialy) that upon leaving home, that they can leave resources (such as savings, property, etc) to their parents; that their parents are well-provided or at least can depend on other relatives, etc before one can ordain.

I think Chung Tai, Fo Guang, etc try to find a comprimise between Confucian values and practicality. But I think male monastics are given a little bit more leeway in this arrangement; they can disrobe up to seven times to attend to family affairs, as prescribed in the Chinese Vinaya. Female monastics, however, are a different question altogether...
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:35 am

Though it is correct that this is a modern phenomena, and I wouldn't want to suggest otherwise. It is just this idea that ordination is social death that humanistic buddhism wishes to overcome and rectify. But the thread was never intended as a discussion of the history of Chinese Buddhism, but the present situation, no?

Another issue, also mentioned, quite apart from any Confucian issues, is that Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. If one is an only child, then the effect of renunciation on the parents is relatively greater. One of my teachers stated that because he has three older brothers, his renunciation wasn't such a problem. So, this may also be kept in mind if comparisons with Thailand, Vietnam, Tibet, etc. are to be made.

Final point for now: It's not because FGS has wealth that it can do things to help people, it is because FGS is willing to help people that it has wealth. To argue otherwise is to suggest that the organization started off with wealth, which is totally back to front! It did not - it started with a monk with nothing more than the robes on his back and a big heart. (Same can be said of Chung Tai, DDM, etc. - the founders of which all started off in pretty much the same circumstances, but just each went their own way.)

The point being, that it is possible to make changes, and this start from our attitudes, which are more important than externals.

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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Indrajala » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:44 am

Huifeng wrote:Final point for now: It's not because FGS has wealth that it can do things to help people, it is because FGS is willing to help people that it has wealth.


I'm on the fence about that.

A few decades ago at least one prominent Japanese Buddhist school working abroad was convinced that its economic prosperity was a reflection of its superior Buddhism, but then it fell apart.

Another issue is that the economic prosperity and wealth in Asian countries is a direct result of the exploitation of working classes and the environment. In the case of Taiwan, it is also a client state of the American power bloc, so it has enjoyed a lot of benefits and perks from being a side member of a club responsible for immeasurable suffering inflicted upon both humans and animal life.

The wealth enjoyed by Taiwanese society, or its elites mostly, comes from exploitation. Taiwan doesn't have much of a natural resource base to start with, so doing manufacturing is what got it rich, but at the expense of both the land and people alike. People get paid little for their labor, they inhale awful levels of pollution and in previous decades were having deformed babies as a result of industrial contamination of the environment. In more recent years a lot of Taiwanese business elites make use of slave labor in China and acquire tidy profits from it.

So, if one of these business elites makes an offering of a few million dollars (which of course happens), do you ask where they got it from, or just accept it as a reflection of your good merit and a chance for them to practice generosity? This is an ethical predicament because you might know or suspect the money is honestly quite dirty, but on the other hand you might intend to do something worthwhile with it. Nevertheless, by being part and parcel of such a transaction you might be contaminated in the process. Just like accepting meat which you knew was slaughtered for you.

Generally speaking in our present day you don't get rich by being an honest and fair merchant. You get rich by exploiting people on an industrial scale and/or playing around with hallucinated wealth in the money economy (investments, stocks, etc...) which hurts defenseless working class people in the end.

To be a beneficiary of exploitation and environmental destruction, and try to do something worthwhile with the benefits thereof without being contaminated by the whole process is problematic. This is why what you're proposing here seems so problematic to me after knowing where much of the wealth is originally produced. If it was vast numbers of honest merchants and farmers making little donations that provided a wealth base for the organization it would be different.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:51 am

Huseng wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Final point for now: It's not because FGS has wealth that it can do things to help people, it is because FGS is willing to help people that it has wealth.


I'm on the fence about that.

A few decades ago at least one prominent Japanese Buddhist school working abroad was convinced that its economic prosperity was a reflection of its superior Buddhism, but then it fell apart.

Another issue is that the economic prosperity and wealth in Asian countries is a direct result of the exploitation of working classes and the environment. In the case of Taiwan, it is also a client state of the American power bloc, so it has enjoyed a lot of benefits and perks from being a side member of a club responsible for immeasurable suffering inflicted upon both humans and animal life.

The wealth enjoyed by Taiwanese society, or its elites mostly, comes from exploitation. Taiwan doesn't have much of a natural resource base to start with, so doing manufacturing is what got it rich, but at the expense of both the land and people alike. People get paid little for their labor, they inhale awful levels of pollution and in previous decades were having deformed babies as a result of industrial contamination of the environment. In more recent years a lot of Taiwanese business elites make use of slave labor in China and acquire tidy profits from it.

So, if one of these business elites makes an offering of a few million dollars (which of course happens), do you ask where they got it from, or just accept it as a reflection of your good merit and a chance for them to practice generosity? This is an ethical predicament because you might know or suspect the money is honestly quite dirty, but on the other hand you might intend to do something worthwhile with it. Nevertheless, by being part and parcel of such a transaction you might be contaminated in the process. Just like accepting meat which you knew was slaughtered for you.

Generally speaking in our present day you don't get rich by being an honest and fair merchant. You get rich by exploiting people on an industrial scale and/or playing around with hallucinated wealth in the money economy (investments, stocks, etc...) which hurts defenseless working class people in the end.

To be a beneficiary of exploitation and environmental destruction, and try to do something worthwhile with the benefits thereof without being contaminated by the whole process is problematic. This is why what you're proposing here seems so problematic to me after knowing where much of the wealth is originally produced. If it was vast numbers of honest merchants and farmers making little donations that provided a wealth base for the organization it would be different.


Whoa! Getting pretty ugly here... FGS is now only doing this sort of thing because it is living off slave labor...? Eesh!
You may have your views on how to make money, but please don't go around projecting these on everyone else, thanks.

:focus:

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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Indrajala » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:57 am

Huifeng wrote:Whoa! Getting pretty ugly here... FGS is now only doing this sort of thing because it is living off slave labor...? Eesh!
You may have your views on how to make money, but please don't go around projecting these on everyone else, thanks.

:focus:

~~ Huifeng


Nice way to deflect hard questions.

I'm saying that the economic prosperity enjoyed by Taiwan is a direct result of exploitation, and religious institutions enjoy a share of that pie as well (not just FGS).

The question I'm asking is where does the surplus wealth which supports the aforementioned activities really come from?

If you connect the dots, it isn't a nice picture. It is an ethical predicament, so to speak.

You can believe what you want, but I'm concerned with questions of genuine morality and ethics. That means looking past the surface.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:44 am

Jeff, I'm not trying to deflect hard questions. For a start, you have provided no evidence for your claims, but simple insinuation. But, if you really want some details, here goes:

The elderly support at FGS was built very early on at FGS (in the 1960s IIRC). It's just down the road from the old Pumen High School, across from the Children's Home. The buildings are very old, like the monks' quarters. So, it's not like FGS has huge finances at that time. The design is simple - to get maximum usage for the elderly for the dollar. Similar principle elsewhere. The family day is also a very old tradition, going back to the start of the Buddhist College at FGS, in the 1960s.

While the rise of Taiwanese business people in China is now at a high, the economic booms really only kicked in during the 1980s. But, even at that time, the Taiwanese were not allowed to work like that in China. The rise in Taiwanese business people in China really only comes in the late 1990s onwards. By your argument, you'd have to show that such buildings and events only occurred after FGS had money, and that the money comes from these sources. Obviously, the dates of these things show otherwise.

But even then, you have yet to prove whether any donations to FGS come from sources in China that are "slave labor". Can you provide some examples, please, in evidence of your claim? (Note, see MN citation below.)

FGS does not rely on a small number of corporate donors, as you suggest. Instead, Shifu has always had the policy of a large number of smaller donors. Evidence: The donor lists in the FGS Tathagata Auditorium; the donor lists at the gate to FGU; the donor lists on the surrounding walkways of the Buddha Memorial Center. Please check those out. The latter have tens of thousands of names, IIRC. Shifu knows very well the problems of only have a small number of donors, and right from the start in Ilan, he didn't want to do that. The whole gist of humanistic buddhism is on a very popular, ie. the common person, level. Working people.

Another example of this latter point, the situation around Da Shu, where FGS is located. FGS did a promotion of Da Shu fruit, as it's a major orchard area of Taiwan. FGS spent much more than it ever got out of it, Shifu's argument simply being that we owe a lot to the people of Da Shu over the years. These people are farmers and fruit growers, about as working class as it gets in Taiwan. I myself have also seen how much of our support comes from average, hard working Buddhist families, who are happy to make small donations because they know the value of the monastery and its contributions to their lives.

Moreover, on a more Buddhist line of thought, there is the notion that "purity of giving" comes in many forms. If I may cite the MN 142 (= Bodhi, pg. 1105):


"There are, Ananda, four kinds of purification of offering. What four? ... There is the offering that is purified by the receiver, not by the giver. ... And how is the offering purified by the receiver, not by the giver. Here the giver is immoral, of evil character, and the receiver is virtuous, of good character. Thus the offering is purified by the receiver, not by the giver. ... The receiver's virtue purifies the offering. ..."


Obviously, the Buddha didn't seem to see this as an ethical dilemma. In fact, it almost seems that he is saying that if one were a pure person, receiving such impure offerings would be a good thing, benefiting the giver, too. On the other hand, preventing or discouraging people from making offerings to the three treasures, however, is itself problematic.

I, too, don't want to just look on the surface. But, I feel that your own claims are just much insinuation, without any real evidence, nor deeper examination of Buddhist understanding of giving. But, I guess once again, you just didn't want to miss your opportunity to cast FGS in a poor light, even to take things off topic. Must be difficult to see even the Sangha, so.

~~ Huifeng
Last edited by Indrajala on Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed remark about private individual.
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Re: Monastics & their family

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:31 am

Okay, I get it. It's okay to insinuate that monastics of FGS (like me) are living off the profits of "slave labor", but if I turn around and ask the same question of the person who so claims, that's not okay, and I'll get my post edited by the Mods. Got it!

~~ Huifeng
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