Replies from an ordained monk

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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 2:11 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 2:11 AM

Replies from an ordained monk

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
As I am in somewhat of a DN (this DN is because of my intent to end ill-will permanently and since it does not happen , so the DN related frustation continues) , I thought of a bit of a distraction and maybe gain some merit ;)

Here is the reply from a revered ordained monk. This email is around 3 years old when I was going through very
strong samvega. I thought I'll share this and let yogis derive benefit. One thing that particularly strikes me is his insistance
on having right kind of spiritual kins otherwise its very difficult.

In the second email I've asked him a few questions to which he has replied as well.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 2:13 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 2:12 AM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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Email 1

Dear Mr. Shashank,

It sounds as if you may be experiencing a strong feeling of saṃvega. The Lord Buddha himself experienced such feelings; indeed, nearly all Western monks feel this way. Saṃvega implies a distaste or dissatisfaction for the world, a yearning for the holy life, and a sense of urgency.

If you go to a Buddhist country to ordain, I’m sad to report that you won’t find much Buddhism there. That is, you won’t find the core, the essence, of Buddhist practice. What you’ll find is monks who are trained to work in village temples, perform ceremonies, and give hour-long dhamma talks which the laity will sleep through. You’ll find donors and supporters whose practice is limited to bringing food to the monks, reciting verses, and worshiping the temple bodhi tree. Or you may obtain a formal degree from a Buddhist university, become a scholar, write books, etc. I personally can not understand how such a practice helps one to attain Nibbāna; but then again, I’m neither a scholar nor a village monk—just a transplanted American Buddhist who formally converted to Buddhism (Mahāyāna) in 1966, and became a Theravāda monk in 2001. I’m 65 years old.

In a Buddhist country, the traditional practice is for a layman to live in the temple as a white-garbed upāsaka for a few months, observing 8 precepts, and learning monastic routine. Afterwards, he may become a ten-precept samanera (novice) for another 6 months or so, then receive the upasampada (higher) ordination and take on the 227 patimokkha rules.

Are you a meditator? Do you meditate very much? Do you have a meditation teacher? I ask this because meditation and mind-training is the core of Buddhist practice.

If you are a meditator, my advice is this:

Become a samanera (novice) locally, in India, if possible. Then, with 6 moths to a year of experience, come to Sri Lanka or Burma or Thailand or England (Amaravati monastery) or Australia (Perth) for higher ordination. Arriving as an ordained samanera will automatically confer upon you a modicum of status.

If you come to Sri Lanka, even as a layman, I would be happy to introduce you to various monasteries and meditation centers. From what little I gathered from your letter, you might do well at Amaravati monastery in England, or perhaps a forest monastery in Sri Lanka, such as Na-Uyena or Mitirigala. Stay for a while, if invited, then pursue your higher ordination there.

Even now it would be a good idea for you to travel, visit lots of temples and meet lots of practicing, meditating monks, then join with the ones with whom you feel a kinship.

The Lord Buddha said to attendant Ānanada that having spiritual friends or kin (kalyānamittā) is the whole of the holy life. In other words, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to go it alone. Even the Lord Buddha practiced for more than 6 years under various teachers, then continued in the company of the five ascetics. He split up from the five for only the briefest period—just a few months—and after he attained enlightenment, what did he do? —he rejoined the five.

With highest hopes for your happiness,
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 2:19 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 2:16 AM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
Email 2

Dear Shashank,

Me: Unfortunately , I do not meditate much. I just do Anapanasati whenever I get time. Due to a stressful city life , I am unable to focus for a long time and whatever calm I achieve in the 15-20 minutes of meditation , is lost soon.

Yes. This is common. And normal. The mind does not want to be trained, to be disciplined. Unfortunately, it is at this point that many new meditators get discouraged and quit, saying that their minds wouldn’t settle down, their mind kept wandering with stray thoughts, or they had pains in the knees, etc. This is why it is of utmost importance to find a group with whom you can meditate. You will receive encouragement from other people like yourself who have gone through the same vexations.

Usually young, on-the-go professionals like yourself complain that they have no time to meditate. Having been a highly trained professional in my lay life, I know the excuse: “I have no time.” But I took time. I got up a half-hour earlier every day in order to practice meditation. I also joined various meditation groups, sometimes visiting three different groups in a week. And I regularly attended 3 to 7-day retreats, and one 9-day retreat in the Mahasi style of vipassana meditation.

Please: every day, practice 10 minutes of watching the breath go in and go out, morning and evening. After a while, increase the time to 20 minutes, mornings and evenings.

This will help you to no end.

I think you should try to find VRI or Vipassana Research Institute online. Or search for Goenka. Find out the nearest retreat center and attend at least one 10-day retreat.

I think I'll most likely plan a trip to Sri Lanka and meet you , but not sure when.

Much better to attend a Goenka-style retreat. There is a center not too far from Goa, I think. Or perhaps it’s in the vicinity of the Ajantha (?) caves (spelling? --the famous Buddhist caves).

Me: Although I heard that practicing mediators do not share their experiences , can I ask what your experiences have been so far while meditating ?

It is against one of the monk’s 227 rules to discuss his meditative attainments with a lay person. And of course, if a monk lies about his attainments to anyone, he is automatically expelled from the order. Let me say this: I have had enough experiences to encourage me to think that the path I have chosen is the right one for myself. I would not like to assert it is the right path for everyone else.

Me: I am unable to sit for long times in the sitting Buddha's pose as my back starts aching (but I can sit longer with legs folded behind). However I can keep a small pillow behind and then sit longer in the sitting Buddha's pose. Will this pose a problem in becoming a monk ? Any advice how I can increase these times ?

A group of meditating friends can help you here. In short, the answer is “Practice.” (BTW I still sit on a pillow. Much easier to maintain an erect posture.)

Me: Have you personally met Arahants and what style of meditation did they follow ?

Oh, dear, what a question!

I believe that Arahants are like Christian saints. That is, nobody is a saint while he’s alive. But after his passing, the followers get together and reminisce about his qualities, and they decide he was an arahant. Or, if you talk to different monks they’ll say know of, or heard about, someone living in a cave in the Himalayas or someplace. But they’ve never met him. They’ve only heard of him, fourth-hand. And even if you should one meet a real, living and breathing arahant, his practice would not necessarily be the right one for you.

Therefore I think it is best for one to pursue one’s own path, with the advice and encouragement of a teacher to be sure, but with the knowledge and confidence that in the end, one’s attainments are one’s own responsibility.

Remember the golden words of the Blessed One: “Change is inherent in all beings. Therefore diligently seek your own liberation.”

May you be well, happy, and peaceful.
M N, modified 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 3:08 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 10/23/12 3:07 AM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

Posts: 210 Join Date: 3/3/12 Recent Posts
Thoose were very very nice; I recognize a very much monkish kind of thinking, so to speak; I don't know how to explain this, but when I talk or read something a monk write, there is always a feel, like "This is the way they talk", and it's a very nice and balanced way indeed.

Thanks for sharing, there are many many point very well taken...
Kalyan MitraG, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 10:13 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 10:13 AM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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Shashank,

Thanks for sharing these very interesting emails with a monk. What is surprising to me that these monks are in the dark even in 2009 -2010, regarding the effects of internet in sharing dhamma, meditation techniques, and path attainments.

Any one who hangs around on this forum (and KFDh) for few weeks/months can identify 10 to 20 lay Arahants and 100's of lay Stream entrerers. We are all part of this new revolution in this lay community, mostly non-buddhist.

Very soon, these hardly meditating monks will start to learn "what is possible with daily meditation?" from lay meditators like you.

Metta
Sam S, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 2:35 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 2:35 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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Kalyan MitraG:

Any one who hangs around on this forum (and KFDh) for few weeks/months can identify 10 to 20 lay Arahants and 100's of lay Stream entrerers. We are all part of this new revolution in this lay community, mostly non-buddhist.


It's pretty obvious that the monk is referring to a much, much higher standard of Arahant (as the suttas do, and as should anyone interested in making sense to others). People here aren't attaining complete enlightenment while monks who practice full-time everyday are in the dark just because they don't have the internet.
Adam , modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 6:04 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 5:38 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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how do you know that he hardly meditates? 0.o
Kalyan MitraG, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:33 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:12 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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I am sorry, I got confused between Me: and Monk's answer and assumed that the monk meditates 10 to 20 mnitues a day. My fault for not reading and comprehedning it correctly.

Historically Sri Lankan monks spent most of their time in scholarly pursuits, very few meditated. That is changing in the last 10 to 15 years. Google Bhante Gunaratna's youtube videos and he explains how he started to meditate by reading suttas as he could not find any teacher or monk who knew meditation in Sri Lanka. This was many years ago and things have changed now.
Kalyan MitraG, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:26 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:26 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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>> People here aren't attaining complete enlightenment while monks who practice full-time everyday are in the dark just because they don't have the internet

What do you mean by "People here aren't attaining complete enlightenment?"
I am talking about technical 4th path attainment according to theravada suttas.

Please google search for "Fallability of Arahants" and do some research and lots of reading. It should take you to approximately 100 years after Buddha's death to the second buddhist council and how monks belonging to Mahasamgika group and few groups from Sthaviravada complained that they did not attain all the perfection as mentioned in suttas. It is a 2500+ years old mystery why most Arahants do not attain perfection as Sidharta Gautama did.

This led to the creation of a new concept called Buddhahood and eventually to Bodhisatva Ideal.

Metta
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:29 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:29 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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What is surprising to me that these monks are in the dark even in 2009 -2010, regarding the effects of internet in sharing dhamma, meditation techniques, and path attainments.


this is indeed pretty discouraging for the lay community..if only they could share their attainments directly but I guess when
a venerable monk says that "Then you can practise in ABC way and XYZ will be the result" , then this could mostly
mean that he is speaking from direct experience. For example when Mahasi says that noting practise is done all the way
to Arahantship , he is most likely an Arahant speaking from direct experience.

Any one who hangs around on this forum (and KFDh) for few weeks/months can identify 10 to 20 lay Arahants


Actually I cannot identity a single sutta style arahat here and at KFD but definetly many stream-enterers (and yet many
of them here water down the requirements to be a stream-enterer)
, yet I am totally glad that we are all here to discuss and help each other and have a virtual-sangha
if not a real one emoticon
Kalyan MitraG, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:55 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 8:55 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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Shashank,

>>Actually I cannot identity a single sutta style arahat here and at KFD but definetly many stream-enterers (and yet many
of them here water down the requirements to be a stream-enterer

According to the surviving documents, very few have attained sutta style arahantship in the last 2600+ years. Surprisingly, it may be rare or not well documented. We would not have concepts like Buddhahood and Bodhistva ideals created few hundred years after Buddha's death if every one acheived perfection at the time of Arahantship.

A correctly diagnosed stream entrerer is a stream enterer, there is nothing called water-down requirements. May be mis-diagnosed one. Many have gotten confused with A&P event or Dissolution Nana as stream entry. A very few like that but most will know with in a few months, if they read about the fetter model and compare their transformation/realization against the fetter model for stream entry. It all works out, eventually, in-time, they will also attain correct stream entry.

Metta,
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 9:04 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 9:04 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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According to the surviving documents, very few have attained sutta style arahantship in the last 2600+ years. Surprisingly, it may be rare or not well documented.


I guess it has more to do with the restrictions laid down by the Patimokkha that don't allow monastics to discuss
any attainments with lay community.

A correctly diagnosed stream entrerer is a stream enterer, there is nothing called water-down requirements.


What I mean by watering down is that many a times here in the forum people take such and such cool experiences to
mean stream-entry rather than directly taking the 3 fetters.
Kalyan MitraG, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 10:26 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 10:25 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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I guess it has more to do with the restrictions laid down by the Patimokkha that don't allow monastics to discuss
any attainments with lay community.


Yes, you are correct about the Vinaya restrictions. But what I am referring to is the documented history where Arahants belonging to many subsects of Mahasamgikas and Staviravada wanted changes made to suttas to refelct reality about Arahant attainments (this was around the time of the second council). Most Arahants did not acheive the perfection that is talked about in the suttas at the time of Buddha. Of course they failed to make changes/addtion to suttas and that resulted in the creation of Buddhahood concept (more work needed after Arahantship to acheive the qualities of an ideal Buddha), which lead to the creation of Bodhisatva Ideals, which eventually bacame the highest attainment in Mahayana and Vijrayana Buddhist schools. They respect Arahantship but believe that there is more to be done after 4th path arahantship as defined by Theravada schools.


What I mean by watering down is that many a times here in the forum people take such and such cool experiences to
mean stream-entry rather than directly taking the 3 fetters.


I fully agree with you.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 10:44 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/4/12 10:44 PM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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I see. So do you think that a person who attains Arahantship via Theravada path still experiences suffering ?
M N, modified 9 Years ago at 11/5/12 1:09 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/5/12 1:09 AM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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What I mean by watering down is that many a times here in the forum people take such and such cool experiences to
mean stream-entry rather than directly taking the 3 fetters.


If you just take the 3 fetters as definition of stream entry, many people could claim stream entry without having experienced cessation.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 9 Years ago at 11/5/12 1:29 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/5/12 1:26 AM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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Mario Nistri:
What I mean by watering down is that many a times here in the forum people take such and such cool experiences to
mean stream-entry rather than directly taking the 3 fetters.


If you just take the 3 fetters as definition of stream entry, many people could claim stream entry without having experienced cessation.


Hmm not sure of that because the fetter of doubt goes away completely only with the first experience of cessation - having directly experienced nibbana , one has no doubt regarding the noble path. So without experiencing cessation , the fetter
of doubt does not go and thus they cannot be called stream-winners.
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Florian, modified 9 Years ago at 11/5/12 5:13 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 11/5/12 5:13 AM

RE: Replies from an ordained monk

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Shashank Dixit:
Mario Nistri:
What I mean by watering down is that many a times here in the forum people take such and such cool experiences to
mean stream-entry rather than directly taking the 3 fetters.


If you just take the 3 fetters as definition of stream entry, many people could claim stream entry without having experienced cessation.


Hmm not sure of that because the fetter of doubt goes away completely only with the first experience of cessation - having directly experienced nibbana , one has no doubt regarding the noble path. So without experiencing cessation , the fetter
of doubt does not go and thus they cannot be called stream-winners.


For some totally Suttically-Correct Stream-Entry criteria which do not have cessation as an explicit requirement, have a look at the Sotapatti-Samyutta.

To balance this up: it's best not to limit oneself to exploring these old models and maps and texts, useful and good as they are, but to explore all of one's experience, even that off the page of whichever sacred text seems important at any one time. I.E: explore your life, which is larger than any book. The books are part of life, not vice-versa.

Cheers,
Florian

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