Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby kirtu » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:45 pm

Huseng wrote:
catmoon wrote:
Huseng wrote:Have you read Bhante Dhammika's Broken Buddha?

http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-b ... dhanew.pdf

Not all monks do full-time practice.


Nope, but I'm worrking on it now. I see the PDF runs to 80 pp. , is that the whole book or just the first chapters?


That's the whole book. Worth reading it from start to finish.

A lot of his observations are equally applicable to traditions outside of Theravada.


Come on - page 2 tea thing : vinaya observance and he has a problem with that?

Methinks this is not an auspicious beginning ....

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:45 pm

In terms of the OP there is of course the association of hierarchy with Refuge (if one includes Guru) and associated aspects such as lineage, prostration, offerings etc.

It used to be the case in the UK that Christian clerics were respected automatically by many people. Of course, now we know that anyone can wear robes and a dog collar, and their behaviour has sometimes been appalling, that automatic respect has largely disappeared - and must now be earned.

Do I prostrate only to Buddhist monastics I respect? How can I know if they are worthy of respect when I first meet them? Do I 'respect their robes' when they are clearly behaving badly, especially when told it is my mind which is at fault for even thinking they are less than purely motivated and I am a fool for questioning a holy being? Do I see all Gelugpa Geshes as one? Am I respecting the 3 Gems the person represents and not the person?

It's a minefield - if we choose to accept the norms of the sect we join, must we accede to their hierarchy - or should we gently make changes from within?

These things may take a long time to change, and I must admit that I am still comforted when I'm in India and I see adults touch the foot of their former school teacher. This is humility and respect, and debases nobody. As has been written in earlier posts, if we all, including Bhikkhus, have that humility and respect towards others, then surely change will result.
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:17 pm

kirtu wrote:
Methinks this is not an auspicious beginning ....



A reformation of Buddhism is inevitable in its coming to the west, just as the Protestant Reformation was inevitable in Northern Europe.

N
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Astus » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:38 pm

Equality requires a mind that sees all as equals. However, "equality" itself is meaningless. It should be defined the equality of what one talks about. Human relations go to different directions and considering some more important than others comes naturally from that. In secular life there are financial differences, in religious life there are spiritual differences, and in both forms of communities there are political differences. It is an immensely difficult thing to make a community functioning and harmonious. For such functioning humans generally use a hierarchical system where only people in specific positions have the power to make decisions about the community. Leadership could be changed to rules, however, rules require interpreters, and the need of interpretations create again a hierarchy of judges, lawyers, law enforcement, etc. It is an impossible idea to believe that the leaders are enlightened and saintly people.

A possible solution is perhaps a network of small egalitarian communities with properly trained members. Movement between communities is free, but the number of a single community is maximised. This is actually not much different from how Buddhist monasteries developed without any centralised power.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Nemo » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:09 pm

Monastics hold an office. Their position of merit comes with the job.

If one is lucky enough to see the remains of the Buddha you may see a tiny filigree of the finest golden fibers. Wherever they cross there is a beautiful pinpoint of radiance. It seems brighter on full moons and such. Often during the ordination ceremony of Monks a golden light is seen going into the person taking the vows. If the vows are kept that seed of golden light grows. They are living vessels of the blessing of the Buddha in a way the laity are not. I would not treat them as equals. I try to treat them as reflections of the Buddha himself. Of course if you do not see such things this sounds totally crazy, but some mad men need no faith.
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby kirtu » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:36 pm

Nemo wrote:Monastics hold an office. Their position of merit comes with the job.


Their position of merit doesn't come with the job. Their main job is to cultivate merit and as you note below they are supposed to be a reflection of the Buddha.

They are living vessels of the blessing of the Buddha in a way the laity are not. I would not treat them as equals. I try to treat them as reflections of the Buddha himself.


If they aren't cultivating merit though, then they aren't reflections of the Buddha.

Secondly in Vajrayana we have the siddha tradition that is also open to laypeople and more typically identified with laypeople.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Malcolm » Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:06 am

Astus wrote:Equality requires a mind that sees all as equals.


No, it doesn't.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Caz » Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:16 am

There is no such thing as equality in Samsara and as far as I know Buddhists are still within Samsara. :shrug:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Nemo » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:15 am

kirtu wrote:
Nemo wrote:Monastics hold an office. Their position of merit comes with the job.


Their position of merit doesn't come with the job. Their main job is to cultivate merit and as you note below they are supposed to be a reflection of the Buddha.

They are living vessels of the blessing of the Buddha in a way the laity are not. I would not treat them as equals. I try to treat them as reflections of the Buddha himself.


If they aren't cultivating merit though, then they aren't reflections of the Buddha.

Secondly in Vajrayana we have the siddha tradition that is also open to laypeople and more typically identified with laypeople.

Kirt


They have more than just their own merit. During ordination something special is passed on to them. The act of ordination and keeping the vows is a very powerful thing. Padmasambhava was a Monk and the greatest of Vajrayana practitioners. His example of establishing the first monastery at Samye and ordaining the first Monks of Tibet would lead one to believe ordination is a very worthy thing. If venerating them bothers you venerate them from far. According to the Buddha 1 in 6 Monks is a Bodhisattva IIRC. The odds of disrespecting a Bodhisattva are quite high.

Monks who break their Samaya lose all their blessings of course. Not much need to venerate them I suppose.
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby kirtu » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:21 am

Nemo wrote:If venerating them bothers you venerate them from far.


I never said at all that I didn't respect monastics. However some of them need a good education and could look to their practice more attentively.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Malcolm » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:21 am

Caz wrote:There is no such thing as equality in Samsara and as far as I know Buddhists are still within Samsara. :shrug:



Well, that is exactly one kind of equality i.e. being in samsara all sentient beings are equal.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby kirtu » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:32 am

Namdrol wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Methinks this is not an auspicious beginning ....



A reformation of Buddhism is inevitable in its coming to the west, just as the Protestant Reformation was inevitable in Northern Europe.


The Reformation was injurious to spirituality in Christianity and living things in Europe, esp. in Germany, Bohemia and Spain.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby kirtu » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:41 am

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:The concept of equality is another thing, mostly a legal matter and such.


That is not how we Americans view the issue.


My experience with American's and equality is that while Americans verbally venerate equality they use it like all other things in a massive social and political power struggle. More like "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" with most everyone wanting to be Napoleon (the pig not the other one). There are some differences and the ideas of our friends from Transcendental Poet country (New England) may be particularly quaint or idealistic in this respect.

If American's respected equality then slavery would have been over before it started (rather than 1964), rich American Indians wouldn't have had a lifespan of some few hours in the Oklahoma oil strikes, my mothers relatives wouldn't have been pushed off their land, Hispanics wouldn't feel that they had to emigrate from Texas to DC in the 50's, we would not have even heard shameful terms like Dot Head in the 70's/80's (and all the other shameful terms), and Gay/Lesbian people would have been declared human at a federal level well before 2011 (actually that would have been a non-issue too).

So the honor is more in the breach and yes, the entire history of equality in the US is inextricably tied to legality and emancipation of various sorts.

Like my younger cousins say, I call BS on that.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:47 am

It is generally assumed that having a hierarchy coupled with orthodox institutions somehow prevents false teachers as it should in theory provide quality control. When you have a top-down institution where everyone is on the same game page and deviance is not tolerated, you get stability. This is why the traditional hierarchical structure is seen as a pillar of stability, and moreover just as necessary as ever, if not more in our present day.

While this might be true to some effect, just looking at Taiwan this really isn't entirely true.

Despite having a few very large Buddhist institutions with the old fashioned hierarchy and education systems for monastics, you still have organizations and groups outside the large institutions teaching false dharma in Buddhist garb.

In western countries, you might not have large monastic organizations, but nevertheless you have plenty of qualified dharma teachers as well as individuals spouting nonsense and even some cults self-identifying as Buddhist.

So, is a hierarchy and orthodox institution really necessary to prevent false teachers and adharma from spreading? Even in places where you have traditional organizations, you still get false teachers and adharma.
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:54 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Huseng wrote:That's the whole book. Worth reading it from start to finish.
An excellent (and sobering) read! Has there been anything of the sort written about monastics in the Vajrayana and Mahayana traditions?
:namaste:


Not that I know of.

Bhante really went out on his work and I imagine ticked off a lot of people.

In a lot of Buddhist traditions if you did such a thing you'd kill your career and possibly make enemies.
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Indrajala » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:04 am

kirtu wrote:Well the point is that Huineng was realized and the others weren't (at least according to the story). If Shenxiu had deeper realization then the story would have been different (he at least wouldn't have thrown a hissy fit over the robe and bowl).


Even if the story is just fiction, it at least points to the fact enough people could see through the bullshit and understand both position and background have no bearing on the potential for realization and wisdom. People might understand this and superficially appreciate it, but it amounts to lip service rather than active implementation. The senior administrator still gets more credit than the lowly sweeper of leaves out back.


Thus at least within the gates of the monastery Huineng should have been the teacher. Thus the natural hierarchy of realization.


Should have been, but he wasn't. Again, this indicates that in early Chan at least some people were trying to present an anti-hierarchical vision of Buddhism.
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby maybay » Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:23 pm

Huseng wrote:Should have been, but he wasn't. Again, this indicates that in early Chan at least some people were trying to present an anti-hierarchical vision of Buddhism.

Without hierarchy or free from Indian hierarchical lineages and their hegemony on legitimate spiritual practice?
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Jnana » Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:39 pm

Huseng wrote:The senior administrator still gets more credit than the lowly sweeper of leaves out back.

8 worldly dharmas.
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby kirtu » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:07 pm

Huseng wrote:Despite having a few very large Buddhist institutions with the old fashioned hierarchy and education systems for monastics, you still have organizations and groups outside the large institutions teaching false dharma in Buddhist garb.


But not inside the major institutions, right?

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Are some Buddhists more equal than others?

Postby Blue Garuda » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:39 pm

Huseng wrote:It is generally assumed that having a hierarchy coupled with orthodox institutions somehow prevents false teachers as it should in theory provide quality control. When you have a top-down institution where everyone is on the same game page and deviance is not tolerated, you get stability. This is why the traditional hierarchical structure is seen as a pillar of stability, and moreover just as necessary as ever, if not more in our present day.

While this might be true to some effect, just looking at Taiwan this really isn't entirely true.

Despite having a few very large Buddhist institutions with the old fashioned hierarchy and education systems for monastics, you still have organizations and groups outside the large institutions teaching false dharma in Buddhist garb.

In western countries, you might not have large monastic organizations, but nevertheless you have plenty of qualified dharma teachers as well as individuals spouting nonsense and even some cults self-identifying as Buddhist.

So, is a hierarchy and orthodox institution really necessary to prevent false teachers and adharma from spreading? Even in places where you have traditional organizations, you still get false teachers and adharma.


Institutions have surrounded themselves with ritual and and a self-protecting hierarchy. Even if not preaching 'false dharma' their actions sometimes do not accord with what they teach.

I'm personally tired of accusations that this or that school or Guru is 'false' - because it is sometimes a self-cherishing, hypocritical and elitist remark made by the 'big boys' to protect their dominance.

Buddha is not currently communicating his judgement on the 'Dharma' of groups, sects, schools etc.

This does not create a vacancy for the boss of any living sect to set himself up as judge, or even a dictator making verbal or physical attacks on others who do not conform (or surrender).

Moral discipline and 'false dharma' must not defined by the most powerful player in the market, but by the words of Buddha himself.
Last time I looked, for example, Shakyamuni hadn't made an announcement on which Tibetan Oracle to follow. ;)
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