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Buddhism often seems like a farce - Dhamma Wheel

Buddhism often seems like a farce

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Mark1234
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Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Mark1234 » Sun May 27, 2012 8:50 pm

How is it that the philosophy/way/religion of non-attachement has become the crack-cocaine of clinging and grasping? For that is what it is. The culture that has grown up surrounding monasteries based on dana and Merit is just that. Buddhism created the original dependency society. When first joining the Sangha, you 'take dependency on the Sangha'. Juniors are dependent on senior monks. All in the Sangha are dependent on the lay support and the lay support fervently and, very conveniently for the Sangha, believe that they are dependent on the monks for something. The monks who often berrate their lay supporters the loudest by saying the 'you should be meditating instead of all this fuss about dana 'you get nothing from dana', and so forth, are also the ones who encourage lay people to dote on them by giving out their photographs and other talismans. These same monks also give 'baby blessings' and sprinkle holy water etc. In Thailand chasing the Bikkhu is something of a national pass-time. It is the counterpart of 'chasing the Baht'. Monks send out signals in all sorts of ways - some subtle and some not so subtle. More often than not it is women who respond. 'I really like this monk, he's my favourite', they say.

I could relate dozens of annecdotes about this having been to numerous dani's myself over the years. I have also driven quite literally thousands of miles all over the SE and SW of England taking Thai monks here there and everywhere. On one occasion I listened while one very senior and eminent Thai monk entertained a group of Thai ladies for no less than seven hours non-stop to questions and answers and stories about ghosts and magic. The good thing about having a monk visit your house though as I found out, is that eventually there will come a time after the meal when it is possible to ask for favours. On one occasion I was goaded and prodded to 'ask the monk for something' as if he were Santa Clause. There are Thai/Sri Lankan ladies and men who are not so bashful. On one occasion, I watched a room full of Thai's harrangue a monk for hours on end with requests for this and that and the next thing. In a rare quiet moment, the monk spoke privately and very candidly. 'I gave up teaching the dhamma 20 years ago', he said, 'now I just give people what they want but I think what I am doing is just feeding their kilesa's' - very true! On another occasion certain Thai ladies conspired to secretly let the air out of one of my tyres so that they could get another very senior Thai monk out of my car and into their car. I could go on and on with these farcical stories.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun May 27, 2012 9:09 pm

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel.

It seems to me that your own misunderstanding and weak practice of the Dhamma is getting you all riled up about nothing very much.

When someone is puffed up with hot air, its a kindness to let some of it out for them. Take a chill pill, head out of the city, and find a quiet forest monastery to do a retreat. There are some good monks in Thailand too if you search patiently.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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polarbear101
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby polarbear101 » Sun May 27, 2012 9:10 pm

Any successful endeavor will eventually be noticed and brought lower by greedy and confused people. It's the way of the world. Follow the dhamma if you want, you can ignore what is called buddhism though, because after all, buddhism is just another institution, another fabrication/concoction, and institutions are always going to be corrupt(ed) in one way or another, or more precisely institutions will always have a few bad apples in them. Also, someone can be a monk and know that many members of the sangha are missing the whole point, the only point of being a monk is so that you can renounce all attachments and gain unbinding, not to be part of some prestigious group identity. Sorry for all your negative experiences but if you try to superimpose your ideal vision of buddhism onto reality, it will only ever lead to dukkha. Eventually, you just gotta kick back and say, "whatever, it's all just passing by"

:namaste:

edited for clarity
Last edited by polarbear101 on Sun May 27, 2012 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun May 27, 2012 9:16 pm

Buddhism is full of Buddhists, no surprise there. Buddhism is not full of Buddhas / enlightened ones. If it were easy, everyone would be enlightened and maybe we'd all be hermits in caves. But until then . . .
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Mark1234
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Mark1234 » Sun May 27, 2012 9:33 pm

Bhikkhu Pelasa,

I suppose I should thank you for your 'welcome'. I was merely sharing my you my experiences with this forum. I think your personal attacks were rather intemperate and uncalled for.


I have no reason to suppose that the monks I was referring to are not 'good monks';they are. Even good monks need lay supporters. They need lay supporters to feel a stong emotional connection with their Ajahn. Monks need to be needed. There is clinging and grasping on both sides.

Nyana
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Nyana » Sun May 27, 2012 9:44 pm


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mikenz66
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 27, 2012 9:54 pm

Hi Mark,

It's no surprise to anyone who has spent any time with real Buddhists and Buddhist Monks that there is a wide variation. I could come up with a number of similar examples from my experience. [Not quite so many --- you seem to have a lot of experience with such things...].

However, I take Bhikkhu Pesala's advice to be that it is better to focus on the positive possibilities and not be too dismayed about the negative. I don't see how a large, amorphous, thing like "Buddhism" could ever be different. Yet, it's what we have to work with, and, as Geoff (Ñāṇa) says, it does actually work...

:anjali:
Mike

Mark1234
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Mark1234 » Sun May 27, 2012 10:25 pm

Micknz66,

There is no doubt that the system works in that there will always be people to support monks and monasteries. There is a wide variation in monks and in lay people I have encountered. I have seen and met some of the most senior and eminent monks as well as many junior ones as well. Monks need to be needed. They are all looking for lay people who may want to latch on to them. It cuts both ways. I have seen women lying in the long grass waiting to ambush their favourite monk. I have seen monks scurrying around the monastery because their wealthy lay supporter has arrived. I have also seen monks wandering around with expensive IT equipment and camera's, the likes of which only a few lay people who regularly come to the monastery could afford.

Laypeople should forget chasing after monks for superstitious reasons and meditate themselves. After all the Dhamma is to be understood 'independently by the wise'. You cannot do it vicariously. Many is the monk who will say, 'I cannot do the meditation for you'. Neither he can. If this realisation was widely followed through though, monasteries would grind to a halt because the lay support would dry up.

Why do monks become monks in the first place?

Not because they are doing something in order to get something. Men ordain because they like living a moral life in which they do not create any suffering for themselves or for others. They like devoting their life to meditation. These things are inspiring. They like being part of a tradition that goes back over 2,500 years. As time goes by, they develop a professional pride in maintianing the form.

Do they also need people to admire them? Do they encourage this? Yes, of course they do.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Kim OHara » Sun May 27, 2012 10:36 pm


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Cittasanto
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Cittasanto » Sun May 27, 2012 10:53 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Goofaholix
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 28, 2012 1:36 am


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Goofaholix
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 28, 2012 1:37 am


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hanzze_
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby hanzze_ » Mon May 28, 2012 4:08 am


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manas
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby manas » Mon May 28, 2012 4:34 am

Hi Mark, and welcome to Dhamma Wheel

living in the 'West', I have not had so many of the negative experiences you seem to have had. (Of course, I've not lived in Thailand, although have heard 'mixed reviews' of the state of monasticism there, some better than others - but all just hearsay, and thus should be taken with a grain of salt). Even so, as the years have rolled by, I dig more and more into the Pali Tipitaka as my guide and refuge, more than any external instutition, and I simply use, in a respectful way, any means possible that will further my understanding of it, whether that be visiting a monastery to offer dana and ask a question, go online here or on 'access to insight', or consult a book. Somehow or other, a very powerful and liberating message has been passed down to us, and I increasingly believe that in essence, the suttas are the words of a fully awakened being, and have a special quality that is unmatched. What I am lately realizing is that it was many generations of monks who passed them down to us, and so I must express gratitude to them, also.

Hope you can find the Dhamma that liberates, the real dhamma that unburdens the heart, rather than the sad experiences you seem to have had so far

manas.

:anjali:
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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retrofuturist
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 28, 2012 4:39 am

Greetings Mark,

Generally speaking, my experience has been like what Manas depicts above.

You might like to read this previous topic...

Richard Gombrich - Comfort or Challenge?
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=10426

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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hanzze_
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby hanzze_ » Mon May 28, 2012 4:57 am


pegembara
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby pegembara » Mon May 28, 2012 5:13 am

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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hanzze_
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby hanzze_ » Mon May 28, 2012 5:44 am


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Cittasanto
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Cittasanto » Mon May 28, 2012 8:02 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

Mark1234
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Re: Buddhism often seems like a farce

Postby Mark1234 » Mon May 28, 2012 10:08 pm

I would like to reply to some of the respondents on this forum who have written since yesterday.

Firstly to Cittasanto who says I am 'generalizing.' Yes, of course I was generalizing, by intention. Where my generalizations justified? Yes. I think they were. I did talk about monks who set out to impress and to be admired. That was perhaps a generalization too far. I do not want to make this generalization of all monks, only to some of them. Certainly deference is important. Monks do need to be respected. They need to be looked up to; they need to be needed. It is this culture which inclines lay people to be passive and to spend their lives chasing around after monks. Rather than chasing after their coat-tails so to speak, lay people would be better advised to meditate themselves. No amount of book learning or Dhamma talks can be the equivalent of an immanent act of awakening in the present moment.

It seems to me (generalizing again) that either can see the need for change, or you accept the social mores which are so vital to the survival of the monastery system but which are in fact, running contrary to the central message of Buddhism itself.

Good monks and bad monks?

I am SO fed up with self-appointed conoisseurs of monks! 'I like this monk, I like that monk or another monk'. I have seen people running fantasy league tables of monks; which monks are good for Dhamma, which for Dana and so on. Who are we to judge? Monks are not our property. They are not there to entertain us or give us happy feelings! If a monk has inspired you. If he has helped you, then that is all good and well. Leave it there and move on.


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