Thursday, December 22, 2016

Patronage system breeds malaise in the monkhood

Patronage system breeds malaise in the monkhood
By Phra Paisal Visalo
 
 
 
  The problems surrounding the Dhammakaya temple and its abbot Dhammachayo are serious in themselves. But they also reflect larger and more acute malaises in the Thai Buddhist clergy.

For starters, the Sangha Council's controversial ruling on the Dhammakaya issue has posed questions over each elder's moral judgement and the serious flaws in the clergy's governing system. 

More specifically, the crux of the problem is the closed clerical system which centralises governing power within a small group of 20 elders without any internal monitoring and auditing mechanisms. It is a system that is accountable to no one. The lack of transparency has given rise to rife nepotism and abuse of power to give favours to the elders' networks.

The emphasis on personal ties explains why the elders turn a blind eye to misconduct by wealthy monks. Worse, they continue to back these influential monks, giving them tacit support or even moving them up the ecclesiastical ranks, which helps the monks expand their networks further.

That the Dhammakaya temple and Dhammachayo have managed to stay popular throughout these years also shows the weakness of Buddhists themselves for they have little understanding of dhamma principles in Buddhism.

There are widespread false understandings even concerning the most basic matters in Buddhism such as boon or merit. For example, many believe the more they donate, the more merit they will gain. This is tam boon or making merit to acquire more things, not to let go of things according to Buddhist teachings. When there is misunderstanding at this basic level, there is no need to talk about their understanding of higher dhamma such as nirvana. 

Not knowing what Buddhism is about, it is easy for them to be misled by false teachings and ready to turn a blind eye to irregularities of their gurus. In other word, the Dhammakaya controversy shows a lack of knowledge of Buddhists themselves about their own religion. It also reflects a failure of the clergy and the clergy's education system.

In addition, the popularity of Dhammakaya, especially among the middle class, is linked to the widespread misconduct of mainstream monks. Monks' scandals do not only routinely make headlines, but people see with their own eyes what monks should not do every day.

Fed up, many in the middle class feel attracted to the Dhammakaya monks who appear more strict and orderly. Not realising that the teachings of Dhammakaya and the conduct of its abbot have more far-reaching adverse impacts, they fiercely oppose any moves by the clergy to punish Dhammachayo/Dhammakaya while letting other rogue monks get off scot-free.

Punishment or not, the more crucial question is why we have rogue monks in every nook and cranny. The answer does not lie only in the inefficiency of individual abbots or the elders in the Sangha Council.

The main problem is the governing system of the clergy itself. The closed and unaccountable system breeds problems and fosters widespread violations of monastic codes of conduct. This centralised system has not only rendered the elders weak and inefficient, it has put their moral standards up to public question.

Phra Paisal Visalo is a forest monk and abbot of Sukato Forest Monastery. He is the author of 'Thai Buddhism in the Future: Trends and Ways Out of the Crisis'.

best way from  http://www.visalo.org  
                          
                                    Bangkok Post  3 March 2015

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Buddhist perspectives on end of life care – a conversation with Phra Paisal Visalo

Buddhist perspectives on end of life care – a conversation with Phra Paisal Visalo
Author: Dr Suresh Kumar
08 August 2014
Image: Dr Suresh Kumar
Interview | People and places echospice




Alongside a busy schedule of training in Thailand, Dr Suresh Kumar spoke to Phra Paisal Visalo, abbot of the Buddhist Monastery, Wat Pasukato, and founder of the Buddhist Network for a Good Death.
What does Buddhism say about suffering in general and suffering at the end of life in particular?
In the Buddhist perspective, suffering is the reality that no one can escape from. We are all facing ageing, sickness, separation and loss, either sooner or later. The reason for this is that life is uncertainty. Everything in this world is only temporary. But change is certainty. That is: Impermanence. Our life is pressurised by internal and external factors which lead to constant changes. Everything ultimately is rotten and disintegrated, that is: suffering. There is no 'self' which is independent or permanent. We can only delay or escape suffering for a while but it is inevitable. What we can do is to alleviate suffering and lessen its effects when it occurs.
However, it is possible that those conditions of suffering can only affect us physically but not necessarily affect our mental conditions. Buddhism believes that every human can cultivate their mind to be free from suffering. Even though we all face ageing, sickness and death, our minds need not to be painful from these, if only we accept the reality with no refusal and no resistance. Acceptance is the most important factor for us to be free from suffering.
Instead of being affected by physical suffering, we can use it to our benefit; open our eyes to the fact that nothing is certainty. Wisdom is also the key success to enlighten our minds to be free from suffering. There have been numerous monks and laypeople who received enlightenment while they were facing suffering due to sickness and the death. In other words, sickness and death can develop our wisdom to realize the ultimate truth and achieve enlightenment.
How relevant is learning from these ideas to the end of life care of non-Buddhists?
Buddhism believes the happiness is possible at the end of life. There should be no fear when the time has come. Every human has it in his own capacity to be happy, regardless of which religion he professes, or even if he has no religion at all. Peaceful death is possible for all human beings.
What do you consider as a good death?
Good death, from Buddhist perspective, is not determined by the way one dies, or the reason for death. It is rather characterized by the condition of mind at the time of death; dying in peace, without fear or mental suffering. This is possible when one accept one’s own death and lets go of everything – no attachment to anything or any person. Good death is also characterized by the blissful states of existence where one is reborn. Best of all is death with an enlightened mind, achieving the ultimate wisdom concerning the true essence of nature. This enables the mind to be free from suffering and realize nirvana, with no rebirth.
What is good life?
Good life means life with well-being, free from sickness, poverty or exploitation. Good life also means living a life with morality; not taking advantage of others but also doing good deeds for others and society. It involves peaceful mind, having compassion and not being dominated by greed, anger and delusion. It is life not inflicted by suffering, resulting from understanding the reality of life and being capable of solving the problems that arise.
Do you think that good living always leads to a good or comfortable death?
Good life could lead to a peaceful death, but not always. When a person is dying, if his mind is in sorrow, or worried about his children, parents, the loved ones or could not let go of his properties, if he is guilty, or has unfinished business, he would refuse and fight with death at any cost. This will lead to torment, agitation and restlessness, with woeful existence after death. Besides, physical pain from sickness may cause patients to be angry and agitated and find no peace at the end of life.
On the other hand, do you think that a good death is possible without a good life?
Good death could happen to those who have unwholesome life, though it is very rare. This is because those who have unwholesome life are afraid that they will go to evil states after death. So they are fearful of death. Many suffer from guilt or are haunted by their bad conduct in the past. As for those who are dominated by greed, anger or delusion, they always find difficulty in letting go of their property or ill will. This will inevitably lead to death in torment. However, if they are lucky enough to have friends who can help them to recall good deeds and let go of everything, their mind will become wholesome and a good death will be possible for them.
Death being certainty in life, how can one prepare for it?
Preparing for death is a necessity for all human beings, because we all will face it no matter how we are or who we are. We should prepare for death by exercising ‘the Contemplation of Death’. This means we should remind ourselves constantly that we will die sooner or later. We do not know when, where and how. Then we ask ourselves: If we were to die soon, are we ready for that? Have we done any good deeds to our loved ones and others? Is it enough? Are we sufficiently responsible for everything that we have? Are we ready to let things go yet? If the answer is: ‘not ready yet’, we must do good deeds from now on and try to complete those tasks and responsibilities. Finally, we have to learn how to let things go. Doing good deeds means we have nothing to be sorry for. Then letting things go will enable us to face the death and ready for it now and in the future. 
Fear of death is one of the major factors causing distress in the dying. Are there ways of addressing this, irrespective of one’s faith?
The fear of death occurs when we tend to forget we all die sooner or later. We may have unfinished business and worry about beloved ones or belongings. One may be fearful of death because one is uncertain about what will happen after death. The fear of death can be relieved if we regularly practice the contemplation of death, try to do our best to our beloved ones and try to complete our important tasks and responsibilities. Meditation is a good way to cultivate our minds to accept death: seeing death as a part of life with no fear at all.
Can interventions like meditation assist in alleviating suffering towards the end of life? How? Even in a person who has not practised mediation till the final days of his or her life?
Meditation helps lessen suffering. At the end of life, when pain occurs, one can focus on one’s breath – in-breath and out-breath. Once mind and breath are in harmony, concentration and calmness will take place. Calmness of mind will produce some chemistry in one’s body that can gradually lessen the pain. Calmness meditation also diverts the mind from physical pain, and can enable one to be unaware of the pain or feel less pain.
Mindfulness meditation can also relieve suffering. Mindfulness meditation helps the mind to let go of the pain. Instead of 'being pain', mindfulness enables one to be aware of the pain. This will reduce mental pain. Only physical pain will exist.

Experienced mediators can give advice to anyone to eliminate the degrees of suffering. An appropriate and peaceful environment can also help relieve pain. Reminding oneself of good deeds in the past, or concentrating on sacred things in which one has faith can support mindfulness meditation as well.


Best way from  http://visalo.org/

Monday, November 16, 2015

Buddhism Attitude To Life

                  Buddhism Attitude To Life


           Lama Choedak
I am extermely happy to be given the opportunity to come and share with you the contribution Buddhism could make to better the well being of human society. Tonight we have come together to discuss the benefits of sincere sharing of good things we value in our society in general and particularly religion.
Those of us who believe in one or another religion have seen the benefits of religious practices if and when we practise them properly ourselves. We have also seen the danger and suffering which come out of direct misuse of religious beliefs, power and religious fanaticism. The benefit or harm caused by religion in everyday life is not in the merit or demerit of the religions. It is entirely dependent on the behaviours of the people who profess themselves to be religious. Since the problems of the world are created by human beings they can only be corrected by human beings, by properly following the fundamental principles of human values, taught and practised by wise men and women of the world. Let us not be in the illusion that there were only one or few such wise people who came as saviours of the world. We must credit ourselves and thank others for the good things we enjoy in life and be responsible for the bad things we experience.

According to Buddhism, Religion or "the Dharma" is no more than a raft or a path for people who wish to journey on it. If we have an accident on the road it is not the road's fault and if we travel well, we do not thank the road. However if we stand in the middle of the road and tell other people that they do not know how to walk, that is not just an accident, it is sheer arrogance and ignorance. I have come here to share with you the Buddhist perspective and how its fundamental ideas and practices can benefit individuals and our society at large.

Buddhism and its teachings respects all other religions and in fact, in Buddhism, it is a transgression to speak ill of anybody or a group of people or their philosophical or religious ideas. Condemning other people or their religion is considered non-religious conduct and is an idle-talk which is one of the ten non-virtues deeds one must abandone. There is no devil outside other than one's own inability to accept and respect other religions. There is no external god other than the kindness and compassion that can flow through us to other living beings. A mother dog who shows her kindness to her puppy is a much better example of compassion foe one to emulate than propagating teachings which discriminate against colour, race, religion or gender.

If one religion cannot tolerate another how can it teach to tolerate anything in this world? Religious intolerance and narrow-mindedness among Church and religious leaders have let down many of their adherents who call themselves "free thinkers". These are not the benefits of religious practice but the failure to understand and practise religion. Over the years I have met many people who wish to be identified as "free thinkers" rather than belonging to any religious denomination. Many regard religion as that which narrows their thinking and limits their freedom to reason. Many modern thinkers, who have otherwise distanced themselves from strict religious dogma have become attracted to the Buddhist way of life and its powerful ideas, have regarded Buddhism as a way of life rather than a religion.

Many Australians I have known, who consider themselves as Buddhists have become interested in Buddhism and have adopted its non-pressured approach to life, mainly because they do not have to believe in things they have not examined and experienced themselves. They are taught to think for themselves rather than have a blind faith in something and are not even allowed to think of it logically. They are encouraged to find a safe way for themselves rather than accept the one and only ready-made highway.

There is no one highway to enlightenment, but there are different footsteps of past masters we can follow if we wish. Learn from everbody and every circumstance and take what it means most to you, but let us not be over-ambitious and try to make a highway to lead everyone. This is how the seeds of religious fanaticism are planted.

Several years ago there was a big inter-religious conference in London which was represented by all major religions. Buddhism was represented by a Sri Lankan monk. The conference was held in a beautiful Church and most of those attending were Christians. All the speakers sat on the stage and the Sri Lankan monk who was the smallest in physical size was asked to speak first. The first remark he made was nothing but a few minutes of total silence and the people in the audience thought he was not going to say anything and the Master of the Ceremony acted rather anxiously. Then the monk smiled towards the Master of the ceremony and nodded as if he was going to say something after all and then he said: "I am sorry, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no God". Well, I am not going to repeat it here but such comments do raise questions as to what Buddhism is all about and the role of Buddha for Buddhists.

To be frank Buddha was a great critic of the idea of creation of the world by some supreme God-Head and the idea of the original sin and eternal heaven and hell. To the Buddha, most important thing was "now", the present moment and how we go from here rather than what happened in the past and what might or will happen in the future. Past is gone and future is not yet due except what we are creating now. He did this not out of believing in some theory but examining it for himself through analysis and rationality. Buddha came up with four fundamental principles which he thought was univeral to all human problems. Even to his most faithful disciples, the Buddha after his enlightenment, warned of the danger of "blind faith" and asked them not to believe everything what he said just because he taught them. He emphasised the importance of individuals to test and examine the authenticity of his teaching through personal experience, not through mere belief.

These four principles are called the four Noble Tuths. (Details Of The Four Noble Truths)

1. The first is called the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha Satya).
2. The second truth is the truth of the origin of the suffering.
3. The truth of the path is the third noble truth. It is also the path known as "The Middle Way (Madyam marga).
4. If we have individuals who adopt this theory of the eight noble paths they will experience the fourth noble truth, the truth of the cessation of suffering. 
 
Finally may the ills of humanity not defile the ever shining truth of the enlightened ones, like the lotus flower untainted by the soil in which it grows. Accept what you can now, for this cannot be repeated again. What you can not accept now, do not reject it straight away, for you might find it useful later on. Let there be awareness, compassion and tolerance among all living beings.

From:http://www.spiritual.com.au/articles/buddhism/buddhism-attitude-life.html 
Best way from http://buddhamessenger.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
Translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu
 
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Slave of the Buddha) went forth as a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) in 1926, at the age of twenty. After a few years of study in Bangkok, he was inspired to live close with nature in order to investigate the Buddha-Dhamma. Thus, he established Suan Mokkhabalarama (The Grove of the Power of Liberation) in 1932, near his hometown. At that time, it was the only Forest dhamma Center and one of the few places dedicated to vipassana (mental cultivation leading to "seeing clearly" into reality) in Southern Thailand. Word of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, his work, and Suan Mokkh spread over the years so that now they are easily described as "one of the most influential events of Buddhist history in Siam." Here, we can only mention some of the more interesting services he has rendered Buddhism.
  Ajahn Buddhadasa has worked painstakingly to establish and explain the correct and essential principles of original Buddhism. That work is based in extensive research of the Pali texts (Canon and commentary), especially of the Buddha's Discourses (sutta pitaka), followed by personal experiment and practice with these teachings. Then he has taught whatever he can say truly quenches dukkha. His goal has been to produce a complete set of references for present and future research and practice. His approach has been always scientific, straight forward, and practical.

Although his formal education only went as far as seventh grade and beginning Pali studies, he has been given five Honorary doctorates by Thai universities. His books both written and transcribed from talks, fill a room at the National Library and influence all serious Thai Buddhists.

Progressive elements in Thai society, especially the young, have been inspired by his teaching and selfless example. Since the 1960's, activists and thinkers in areas such as education, social welfare, and rural development have drawn upon his teaching and advice.
Since the founding of Suan Mokkh, he has studied all schools of Buddhism, as well as the major religious traditions. This interest is practical rather than scholarly. He seeks to unite all genuinely religious people in order to work together to help free humanity by destroying selfishness. This broadmindedness has won him friends and students from around the world, including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

Now he focuses his energies on his last project, establishing an International Dhamma Hermitage. This addition to Suan Mokkh is intended to provide facilities for:

- courses which introduce friends, foreign and Thai, to the natural truth explained in the Buddha's teachings and start them in the Buddha's system of mental cultivation
- gatherings of representatives from the different religious communities of Thailand (and later the world) in order to meet, develop mutual good understanding, and cooperate for the sake of world peace

- meeting among Buddhists from around the world to discuss and agree upon the "Heart of Buddhism"

Actual results must depend on Natural Law, as Ajahn Buddhadasa and his helpers continue to explore the potential of mindfully wise actions within Nature according to the Law of Nature. He welcomes visitors.-



                                                      Life and Work
best way http://www.buddhadasa.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Patronage system breeds malaise in the monkhood

Patronage system breeds malaise in the monkhood
By Phra Paisal Visalo
Bangkok Post
3 March 2015



The problems surrounding the Dhammakaya temple and its abbot Dhammachayo are serious in themselves. But they also reflect larger and more acute malaises in the Thai Buddhist clergy.

For starters, the Sangha Council's controversial ruling on the Dhammakaya issue has posed questions over each elder's moral judgement and the serious flaws in the clergy's governing system. 

More specifically, the crux of the problem is the closed clerical system which centralises governing power within a small group of 20 elders without any internal monitoring and auditing mechanisms. It is a system that is accountable to no one. The lack of transparency has given rise to rife nepotism and abuse of power to give favours to the elders' networks.

The emphasis on personal ties explains why the elders turn a blind eye to misconduct by wealthy monks. Worse, they continue to back these influential monks, giving them tacit support or even moving them up the ecclesiastical ranks, which helps the monks expand their networks further.

That the Dhammakaya temple and Dhammachayo have managed to stay popular throughout these years also shows the weakness of Buddhists themselves for they have little understanding of dhamma principles in Buddhism.

There are widespread false understandings even concerning the most basic matters in Buddhism such as boon or merit. For example, many believe the more they donate, the more merit they will gain. This is tam boon or making merit to acquire more things, not to let go of things according to Buddhist teachings. When there is misunderstanding at this basic level, there is no need to talk about their understanding of higher dhamma such as nirvana. 

Not knowing what Buddhism is about, it is easy for them to be misled by false teachings and ready to turn a blind eye to irregularities of their gurus. In other word, the Dhammakaya controversy shows a lack of knowledge of Buddhists themselves about their own religion. It also reflects a failure of the clergy and the clergy's education system.

In addition, the popularity of Dhammakaya, especially among the middle class, is linked to the widespread misconduct of mainstream monks. Monks' scandals do not only routinely make headlines, but people see with their own eyes what monks should not do every day.

Fed up, many in the middle class feel attracted to the Dhammakaya monks who appear more strict and orderly. Not realising that the teachings of Dhammakaya and the conduct of its abbot have more far-reaching adverse impacts, they fiercely oppose any moves by the clergy to punish Dhammachayo/Dhammakaya while letting other rogue monks get off scot-free.

Punishment or not, the more crucial question is why we have rogue monks in every nook and cranny. The answer does not lie only in the inefficiency of individual abbots or the elders in the Sangha Council.

The main problem is the governing system of the clergy itself. The closed and unaccountable system breeds problems and fosters widespread violations of monastic codes of conduct. This centralised system has not only rendered the elders weak and inefficient, it has put their moral standards up to public question.

Best way from http://www.visalo.org/englishArticles/BkkPost_5803.htm

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Empty Flag

Best way for all.
The Empty Flag

By AJahn Chah

 I once read a book about Zen. In Zen, you know, they don’t teach with a lot of explanation. For instance, if a monk is falling asleep during meditation, they come with a stick and ”whack!” they give him a hit on the back. When the erring disciple is hit, he shows his gratitude by thanking the attendant. In Zen practice one is taught to be thankful for all the feelings which give one the opportunity to develop.

One day there was an assembly of monks gathered for a meeting. Outside the hall a flag was blowing in the wind. There arose a dispute between two monks as to how the flag was actually blowing in the wind. One of the monks claimed that it was because of the wind while the other argued that it was because of the flag. Thus they quarreled because of their narrow views and couldn’t come to any kind of agreement. They would have argued like this until the day they died. However, their teacher intervened and said, ”Neither of you is right. The correct understanding is that there is no flag and there is no wind”.

This is the practice, not to have anything, not to have the flag and not to have the wind. If there is a flag, then there is a wind; if there is a wind, then there is a flag. You should contemplate and reflect on this thoroughly until you see in accordance with truth. If considered well, then there will remain nothing. It’s empty – void; empty of the flag and empty of the wind. In the great void there is no flag and there is no wind. There is no birth, no old age, no sickness or death. Our conventional understanding of flag and wind is only a concept. In reality there is nothing. That’s all! There is nothing more than empty labels.

If we practice in this way, we will come to see completeness and all of our problems will come to an end. In the great void the King of Death will never find you. There is nothing for old age, sickness and death to follow. When we see and understand in accordance with truth, that is, with right understanding, then there is only this great emptiness. It’s here that there is no more ”we”, no ”they”, no ”self” at all.
*********
The best way from http://www.ajahnchah.org

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

RELIGION

RELIGION 

By Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Now we come to the word "religion" (sasana). In everyday language, the language of the undiscerning person, the word "religion" refers simply to temples, monastery buildings, pagodas, saffron robes, and so on. If there are pagodas and temples all over the place, people say, "Ah! The religion is thriving!" This is what "religion" means in everyday language.
In Dhamma language, the word "religion" refers to the genuine Dhamma which can truly serve people as a refuge or point of support. The Dhamma which actually can be for people a basis of support, which really can bring about the end of dukkha (suffering, misery, unsatisfactoriness), the Dhamma is the religion. This is the meaning of "religion" as that term is used in Dhamma language. "The religion is thriving" means that this very special something which has the power to put an end to dukkha is spreading and expanding among people. To say that the religion is thriving does not by any means imply progress in terms of yellow robes. The religion in everyday language is temples, monastery buildings, pagodas, yellow robes, and so on; the religion in Dhamma language is the truth which genuinely serves humanity as a refuge

Those who take the word "religion" to mean "the Teaching" are nearer the mark than those who take it as standing for temples and so on. To consider progress in religion study and instruction as true religious progress is correct up to a point. But it is not good enough. To understand the religion as simply the Teaching is still to understand it only in terms of everyday lanugage.

In terms of Dhamma language, the religion is "the sublime or Excellent Way of Life" (brahmacariya), that is to say, life lived in accordance with Dhamma. It is this exalted way of living which is "glorious in its beginning, middle, and end." By Sublime Way of Life the Buddha meant the way of practice that can really extinguish dukkha (suffering). The glory of its beginning is study and learning; the glory of its middle is the practice; the glory of its end is the real reward that comes from the practice. This is the Sublime Way of Life, the religion of Dhamma language,. Taken as everyday language, "religion" means at best the teaching; taken as Dhamma language, it means the Sublime Ways of Life, glorious in its beginning, middle, and end. The two meanings are very different. 

http://www.buddhadasa.com/naturaltruth