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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:02 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
Buddhist monks, according to Mula Sarvastivada Vinaya, were only permitted to bath twice a month.


Nalanda monks bathed every morning, at least according to Yijing in his day. He writes (BDK translation, page 103):

Quote:
At Nalanda Monastery there are more than ten large bathing pools, and every morning an instrument is sounded to call the monks to take baths.


Maybe the Tibetans were better at maintaining the Vinaya in this respect. I don't know.


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Honestly, I never expected to see such racial prejudice on this forum.


I don't think you can convincingly argue that this is about race. More just poor quality sanitation and hygiene in a given civilization.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:11 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
brendan wrote:
Washing is just one example.

What about woman and children?

What about medicine, giving practitioners safe infrastructure (sewage systems etc)..


You really actually have no clue what you are talking about. Your ignorance of Tibetan culture and history is pretty appalling.


I understand western civilizations so called achievements are not a manifestation of "right view" and could be seen as being demonic.

I am sure I am not as educated as you on this subject. I might add though I have lived with Tibetans for some time and they all seem to say the same thing.


Last edited by brendan on Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:17 pm 
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Infrastructure?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:22 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:

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Honestly, I never expected to see such racial prejudice on this forum.


I don't think you can convincingly argue that this is about race. More just poor quality sanitation and hygiene in a given civilization.


Just read the thread. It's ridiculous and you know it. It is not as if most people in Western Countries have had hot and cold running water prior to 1940.

The attitude being expressed here is one of total misunderstanding of a) differences in climate between the Himalayas and India; resources availability such as water -- it is not like they bathed with heated water in India, Jeff, they used water as it was from wells and rivers, heated by the sun. Rivers in Tibet are extremely cold even in the summer.

Tibetans made regular use of hot springs where they existed. But most nomads lived in places far away from such volcanically active sites, herding yaks and sheep in the meadows and plains.

In places like Lhasa, the aristocracy could afford more regular bathing, just like in Europe, whereas poorer people could not afford it. Monks, when they bathed, only bathed twice a month.

Just as in Americas during the 16th, 17th, 18th, and much of the 19th century, regular bathing was regarded as unhealthy by much of the Tibetan population, farmers and nomads. It was only after Pasteur that bathing began to take hold in Europe and the US. And daily bathing was not common in the US until after WWII, and in parts of Europe, it is still not common.

Conditions in India are different -- it is hot, people are much hairier -- Tibetans have virtually no body hair in general.

In terms of sewer systems -- Tibet never had large populations apart from in Lhasa to deal with, so it was not an issue for most Tibetans when they came to India and Nepal. Population pressure by the Chinese have forced a lot of Tibetans away from their previous, lowland winter habitations, further, most of the pollution in Tibet has been brought by the Chinese, who now outnumber Tibetans in their own land by quite a bit.

So this conversation just strikes me as quite racist and narrow minded, with an absence of reflection on the real cultural circumstances, environmental and so on that, that we find these people in.

M

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:25 pm 
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brendan wrote:

I understand western civilizations so called achievements are not a manifestation of "right view" and could be seen as being demonic.


You are making an idiot of yourself by such declarations.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:29 pm 
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:good:

It seems strange to me to hold people from a cold climate to the same standards of regular bathing as people from a hot climate. Indeed, if the Tibetans in the more remote and barren areas bathed regularily it would have become a threat to the environment- wood was that scarce and the trees would have disappeared.

As far as bathing is concerned in the Vinaya, Malcolm is correct about this and you will find it in several commentaries. I suspect the bathing rules at Nalanda came from the strong Brahmin influence at the time.

Incidentally, while staying at Sera myself and most of the other monks bathed every other day, except when there was crippling drought and no water available in the entire region.

While staying at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a Chinese monastery in California with ample water available, one of the monks told me they thought it was "a little bit much" that I showered every other day and according to Vinaya twice a month was plenty.

So it seems unfair to target the Tibetans in this regard.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:32 pm 
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JKhedrup wrote:

So it seems unfair to target the Tibetans in this regard.



It is blatantly racist, given the way and the tone in which the subject was raised.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:36 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
Just read the thread. It's ridiculous and you know it.


It is kind of comical, sure, but really my point is that the Tibetans invested a lot of resources into their religion (that's fine) while maybe neglecting things like hygiene, sanitation and infrastructure which they had examples from neighbouring cultures.

The Tang Chinese for instance had mile marker stones which facilitated travel and trade. They also had a limited pension system, baths and other such useful things. The Tibetans could have emulated such projects, but for various reasons it seems they didn't take so much of an interest. In the long-term they invested their resources differently, perhaps neglecting what could have been quite beneficial projects.



Quote:
The attitude being expressed here is one of total misunderstanding of a) differences in climate between the Himalayas and India; resources availability such as water -- it is not like they bathed with heated water in India, Jeff, they used water as it was from wells and rivers, heated by the sun. Rivers in Tibet are extremely cold even in the summer.


The Indian Vinaya literature talks about preparing warm and cold water depending on the season. That might not have been common of course.

I'm well aware of the climate and water issues in Tibet. They still could have taken some of their resources and built public baths. They ultimately didn't. It wasn't a big deal ultimately.


Quote:
So this conversation just strikes me as quite racist and narrow minded, with an absence of reflection on the real cultural circumstances, environmental and so on that, that we find these people in.


Was there a pressing need to munch on lice as Hyecho pointed out?

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Last edited by Indrajala on Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:38 pm 
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JKhedrup wrote:
Indeed, if the Tibetans in the more remote and barren areas bathed regularily it would have become a threat to the environment- wood was that scarce and the trees would have disappeared.


Naw. An extra dung fire a day for washing wouldn't have been a big deal.


Quote:
As far as bathing is concerned in the Vinaya, Malcolm is correct about this and you will find it in several commentaries. I suspect the bathing rules at Nalanda came from the strong Brahmin influence at the time.


And good for them! Regular washing in communal living arrangements prevents a whole list of communicable diseases.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:41 pm 
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Do you honestly think that Hyecho's observations were without an agenda? Or that even if he did observe some of those conditions they were true across the board?

I'd give the same amount of credence to his writings that I would give to the writings of Christian missionaries of the same period who went out to "civilize the natives".

To be frank I am surprised you would quote such a source and give it so much credence.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:53 pm 
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JKhedrup wrote:
Do you honestly think that Hyecho's observations were without an agenda? Or that even if he did observe some of those conditions they were true across the board?


You have to admit it is a rather amusing observation. Of all the things to write in your travel journal... I almost wonder if he wrote that to be funny.

Quote:
To be frank I am surprised you would quote such a source and give it so much credence.


Hyecho was a prominent Chinese Vajrayana master and his reports are a witness to that period. He travelled around India and made observations on things throughout his journey. I don't think he was a bigot really.

The truth is early on the Chinese thought the Tibetans were rather uncivilized. The Tang history devotes two scrolls to Tibet (that's quite significant for a Chinese history to discuss a foreign country in that depth). It would seem that even with access to literacy and both Indian and Chinese civilizations, they didn't take a lot of interest in infrastructure common to both. Even with the widespread adoption of Buddhism in Tibet, they neglected public works. Even in the 20th century how many highways existed?

Not too long ago a Tibetan monk commented to me that he felt besides Buddhism, he thinks Tibet never really had much of a civilization.

I don't agree with that, but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:03 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Just read the thread. It's ridiculous and you know it.


It is kind of comical, sure, but really my point is that the Tibetans invested a lot of resources into their religion (that's fine) while maybe neglecting things like hygiene, sanitation and infrastructure which they had examples from neighbouring cultures.

The Tang Chinese for instance had mile marker stones which facilitated travel and trade. They also had a limited pension system, baths and other such useful things. The Tibetans could have emulated such projects, but for various reasons it seems they didn't take so much of an interest. In the long-term they invested their resources differently, perhaps neglecting what could have been quite beneficial projects.



And just exactly what do you know about public works projects and Tibetan civilization? Given how sparsely populated the country was, it is amazing what Tibetans accomplished.


Quote:

I'm well aware of the climate and water issues in Tibet. They still could have taken some of their resources and built public baths. They ultimately didn't. It wasn't a big deal ultimately.


You are being disingenuous.


Quote:
Quote:
So this conversation just strikes me as quite racist and narrow minded, with an absence of reflection on the real cultural circumstances, environmental and so on that, that we find these people in.


Was there a pressing need to munch on lice as Hyecho pointed out?


Do you think this is funny?

Do you have a pressing need to repeat the inaccurate observations of an eighth century Korean out of context?

It is a little strange that he thinks there were no monasteries nor knowledge of Buddhism in Tibet. He clearly never visited Central Tibet in his travels.

It appears from his observation that he only passed through the nomadic region in far Western Tibet upon leaving Kashmir. So his observations must be considered rather suspect if one is to generalize from them as a whole.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:06 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:
Indeed, if the Tibetans in the more remote and barren areas bathed regularily it would have become a threat to the environment- wood was that scarce and the trees would have disappeared.


Naw. An extra dung fire a day for washing wouldn't have been a big deal.



I think you are either finding yourself amusing, or you have vastly overestimated the caloric value of yak dung as fuel. Trust me, it does not burn very hot, and it takes a very, very long time to heat water at 13,000 feet.

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Last edited by Malcolm on Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:08 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:

Not too long ago a Tibetan monk commented to me that he felt besides Buddhism, he thinks Tibet never really had much of a civilization.


I am sure your monk friend never went to Tibet and has very little understanding of Tibetan culture and history, having spent his entire life in India (no wonder non-diaspora Tibetans find diaspora Tibetans annoying).

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:10 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
Do you think this is funny?


Yes.


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It is a little strange that he thinks there were no monasteries nor knowledge of Buddhism in Tibet. He clearly never visited Central Tibet in his travels.


The Tang Chinese didn't seem to think the Tibetans had much Buddhism, either. In the 8th century maybe they had a bit in the aristocratic circles.


I think I've hit a sore spot. Some people here are rather emotionally invested in Tibet ... as Tibetan Buddhists?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:15 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
I think you are either finding yourself amusing, or you have vastly overestimated the caloric value of yak dung as fuel. Trust me, it does not burn very hot, and it takes a very, very long time to heat water at 13,000 feet.


When I was in Ladakh at 3600 metres above sea level I managed to do a quick cold wash sponge bath before getting my clothes quickly back on. Easy enough with a small amount of cold water.

Some descriptions of pre-modern Tibet just make it sound like they weren't trying, even in terms of basic sanitation in monasteries.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:24 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Do you think this is funny?


Yes.


Many racists think their quips about the mores (whether true or false) of other people are funny. It's one of the signs by which one can tell one is racist towards a given group of people.


Quote:
Quote:
It is a little strange that he thinks there were no monasteries nor knowledge of Buddhism in Tibet. He clearly never visited Central Tibet in his travels.


The Tang Chinese didn't seem to think the Tibetans had much Buddhism, either. In the 8th century maybe they had a bit in the aristocratic circles.


Jeff, you need to study the history of Central Asia a little more carefully: it is certain that this monk's view of Tibetans was jaundiced by the fact that Tibetans (from Lhasa) held sovereignty over large swaths of Central Asia.


Quote:
I think I've hit a sore spot. Some people here are rather emotionally invested in Tibet ... as Tibetan Buddhists?


No, if you are saying the same thing about blacks, Chinese people, mexicans, etc., I would equally take you to task.

You never spare any occasion to point barbs at Tibetans or their culture on this forum. Its pretty unbecoming conduct for a so called Buddhist monk.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:25 pm 
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Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
I think you are either finding yourself amusing, or you have vastly overestimated the caloric value of yak dung as fuel. Trust me, it does not burn very hot, and it takes a very, very long time to heat water at 13,000 feet.


When I was in Ladakh at 3600 metres above sea level I managed to do a quick cold wash sponge bath before getting my clothes quickly back on. Easy enough with a small amount of cold water.

Some descriptions of pre-modern Tibet just make it sound like they weren't trying, even in terms of basic sanitation in monasteries.



Descriptions of pre- Modern Canada makes it sound like they weren't trying very hard, even in terms of the basic sanitation of Toronto.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:36 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
Many racists think their quips about the mores (whether true or false) of other people are funny. It's one of the signs by which one can tell one is racist towards a given group of people.


Humour isn't a sin. You should be able to laugh at Hyecho and his silly remark.


Quote:
Jeff, you need to study the history of Central Asia a little more carefully: it is certain that this monk's view of Tibetans was jaundiced by the fact that Tibetans (from Lhasa) held sovereignty over large swaths of Central Asia.



Sure, but the Tang history gives detailed observations of the Tibetan culture and habits at the time. Hyecho isn't my only source.



Quote:
You never spare any occasion to point barbs at Tibetans or their culture on this forum. Its pretty unbecoming conduct for a so called Buddhist monk.


Naw. I just counter the overzealous hype over Tibet.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:48 pm 
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It's not laughter such comments produce, it's a groan.


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