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 Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:05 pm

Holding that view is of course your prerogative.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby lama tsewang » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:07 pm

well than Simon E. maybe you should read what Ngari Panchen , a great nyingma master says in his text on three levels of precepts .
The best practitioner of Vajrayana is one who holds the three levels of precepts!!!!
This is a nyingma practitioner of Dzogchen who wrote the book its the root text in Perfect Conduct.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby lama tsewang » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:08 pm

ITS not just a view its the teaching of THE BUDDHA.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:18 pm

That is your view and no doubt you have your reasons for holding it. I can respect that.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:33 pm

actually buddha said that where the the vinaya is held the buddha himself is there and until the time when there is no more vinaya holders until that point the Dharma will stay on earth.
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:33 pm

do you seriously believe the dharma will survive without monastic institutions ?
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:41 pm

I would go further than that. It will survive only if it finds new forms of expression. And it is doing.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:43 pm

Simon E. wrote:You are wrong. Many important lineages are held by householders and have always been.
Clearly KonchokZoepa you have an emotional need to hold the view that you hold.
I do not share it, and I think your emotional need may be stopping you from hearing what is being said on the subject.
Time will tell who is correct. The survival of the Vajrayana monastic Sangha is a matter of complete indifference to me. And I would have a pretty good guess that it is also a matter of indifference to the vast majority of D.C. members.
The decline of the monastic sangha is in fact part of the reason that the Vajrayana is emerging FROM the ' underground.'


I am not sure why we should be indifferent to any Dharma activity, regardless of our personal choices. The Dzogchen Community is held together by its charismatic founder. It's anyone's guess whether it will survive past him, unless through a dynastic succession to his son, in which case we are right back where we were with the Tibetan tradition as a whole. Particularly with the rampant individualism of its adherents, one could see the DC fracturing into dozens of individual groups. Amongst the most vocal DC posters on forums there is a real "I've got mine, screw everyone else" attitude that I find quite off-putting (though I am a member myself). I am not sure this is anything but a vocal minority though, so I am not sure you could speak for the vast majority of members.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
~Arthur Carlson
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:46 pm

No, you are correct. I can't speak for the majority.
I think that a future DC fracturing into dozens of separate groups would be a great idea.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Adi » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:12 pm

For those not familiar with it, it may be of some interest to see how an order of monks and nuns are living in the United States today. They aren't Buddhists but their most famous member, Thomas Merton, was a great friend of Buddhism in general and many lamas in particular. They also know how to keep a 1,400 year-old rule on how to live alive via a 17th century reform movement, so they have experience adapting a long tradition to the changing world and I think have a lot to offer those wishing to find out how to do it in the West. And I dare say that since they usually spend more than eight hours a day in prayer and contemplation that they "practice" a lot more than many of us do! :smile:

Their website: http://www.trappists.org

And on it, today's reflection, which has to me the seeds of wisdom and congenial contemplation in it:

An old monk taught: "Denigrate no one. Condemn no one. Slander no one. Do this, and God will give you peace, and when you sit alone, your heart will be undisturbed."

So yes the West does have a very long tradition of monasticism, it is in the US, and though such things never permeated American culture like monasticism did in Tibetan culture, it is here and apparently here to stay. Perhaps we can learn from such people what works and what doesn't in living a modern, cloistered life in the West.

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

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:16 pm

I think the analogy is only a very partial one Adi.
Christian monks have not wielded the kind of political power that the Tibetan Sangha has, since the late middle ages.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:21 pm

Simon E. wrote:I think the analogy is only a very partial one Adi.
Christian monks have not wielded the kind of political power that the Tibetan Sangha has, since the late middle ages.


But this thread is talking about a sustainable model for Western monks, not about political power in the Tibetan sangha... it seems to me particularly relevant.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
~Arthur Carlson
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:32 pm

Is the monastic model sustainable in Christianity ?
I understand that its numbers are dwindling rapidly. But that the tradition of contemplative prayer that was engendered by a minority of its adherents has now become mainstream in catholic Christianity..so maybe in that sense the analogy could be viable.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:35 pm

Simon E. wrote:I would go further than that. It will survive only if it finds new forms of expression. And it is doing.


i place my mind on the words of the buddha that the Dharma will survive as long as there is the Sangha, and that means the monastic sangha.
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:41 pm

Good for you.
You might want to reflect on the fact that the Buddha of the Pali Canon ( Shakyamuni ) is not the origin of Dzogchen..for example.
Last edited by Simon E. on Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:44 pm

There are a few Tibetan Buddhist texts for which the lineage has been lost. In these cases the texts cannot be practised but we keep the texts on the shrine and just read them for study and academic research. It is absolutely crucial that all practitioners understand the importance of lineage. The Buddha himself predicted that Buddhism will eventually become an "imitation" Buddhism. By that he meant that the texts, forms, names, images and such like will survive but the real essence contained in the lineage, will vanish. This will not happen tomorrow, but some time in the. future, the genuine, the true, Buddhism will have disappeared and an imitation version will be there in its place. There will be institutions and courses; there will be books, there could be all kinds of new groups and new activities - they could be good, but they will not be the true Buddhism because the lineage will have died out or been ignored. I do not remember the precise time for this prediction but we have to have a sense of responsibility and take care that we do not contribute to this corruption. For all these reasons the lineage is essential. The lineage is contained by the Sangha. The "Sangha" is all of us - everyone who has taken Refuge, monks, nuns and lay people


http://www.samyeling.org/index/on-taking-refuge
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
KonchokZoepa
 
Posts: 1358
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:50 pm

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

Postby Simon E. » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:52 pm

KonchokZoepa I am really not trying to convince you of anything. I am quite happy for you to hold your views. :smile:
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby rory » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:50 pm

Shingon has managed to preserve the Tang era Vajrayana teachings from China just fine with celibate and married clergy.

Frankly I see a lot of this as huge romanticism-attachment for the idealized past, as Ven. Indrajala said there is a lot of orientalism going on...Would many here use English or Sanskrit Dharma names? Mine is Shinsen but I would have no problem being called "Deep River" or the equivalent. Frankly I've had Western and Asian senseis and monks teach me and I prefer Western ones; they understand the democratic mindset, feminism, and have no problems with me being gay. I respect the nations where Buddhism is preserved but I have no desire to import wholesale the feudal, hierarchical, obedient, sexist mindset - which has absolutely nothing to do with Buddhism. I can spend more time discussing Avatamsaka or Yogacara philosophy than why I have no desire to be reborn as a male (yes, I've had to do this...ugh)
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Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: What do you really think of Western monks and nuns?

Postby Adi » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:14 am

Simon E. wrote:I think the analogy is only a very partial one Adi.


I disagree, which is why I posted the example. For the reason Karma Dorje posted, which is "...this thread is talking about a sustainable model for Western monks, not about political power in the Tibetan sangha... it seems to me particularly relevant."

Christian monks have not wielded the kind of political power that the Tibetan Sangha has, since the late middle ages.


A nice historical note but I don't think relevant to the thread, which has become something of a discussion of can we have a contemporary monastic society in the West. Our Catholic friends have demonstrated it is more than possible, which leads me to:

Simon E. wrote:Is the monastic model sustainable in Christianity ?


Yes. The Trappist example given above is one of many kinds of Catholic monastics that are not only sustainable but now largely self-sustaining through sales of things like ale, coffins and bread or through the kinds of endowments such as they have at colleges and universities.

I understand that its numbers are dwindling rapidly.


While those pursuing vocations as general parish priests are indeed dwindling in the US and Europe, there is actually a rise in interest and applications in contemplative orders.

But that the tradition of contemplative prayer that was engendered by a minority of its adherents has now become mainstream in catholic Christianity..so maybe in that sense the analogy could be viable.


I think it's more than viable and so far I don't see anyone providing any evidence it's not a viable comparison, or at least instructive as to how cloistered people following a thousand-year-old tradition thrive in the modern Western world.

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

Postby Adi » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:18 am

As an aside, here is what one Tibetan monk took time out to do, honoring the remains of a Western monk:

Image

Full article here: http://www.americancatholic.org/messeng ... ature1.asp

I think we can learn much from each other especially in times of cultural turbulence.

Adi
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