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The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?

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Hi guys,

Today I saw the documentary "The Venerable W." at a film festival.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3OtOh-Mq0o

It is an excellent, disturbing documentary that shows the influence and work of “Venerable Wirathu”, a highly respected and influential Buddhist monk who is restlessly calling for the persecution and hate of Muslims in Myanmar, aiming at an ethnically pure country. The film is extremelly disturbing, because of his charisma, power and extremely nasty influence on the country. He preaches hate, and even says that "if Americans want world peace, Donald Trump is the solution".

I've known about him for years, but always thought he must be some kind of "philosophical" monk, not practicing meditation properly and abusing power. However in the film it appears that he is practicing meditation fervently, he has researched and studied a lot and on top of his training has meditated for an extra 90 months while in prison.

I'm trying to find the catch here: wrong Vipassana technique ? Or something else ?

Have you seen the film ? What do you think ?

Metta to all

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/15/17 9:54 PM as a reply to manucho.
Once upon a time, Afghanistan had a sizeable Buddhist population. Now even the Bamiyan Buddhas are gone. 

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/16/17 1:08 AM as a reply to manucho.
I won't get into the political side of this. Everyone is conditioned by a different past, hence different opinions.

I just want to comment that meditation != (not equal) Eightfold path . I have seen a few less than stellar monks who I believe are more experienced than the average Joe at meditation. Samtha and Vipassana ain't going to do much (might help a bit), if you are riddled with unskilful views, inentions, speech, actions etc.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/16/17 7:13 AM as a reply to Mettafore.
Well I experienced a lot of compassion developping within me with Vipassana, and for most people around me. That's why I asked.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/19/17 3:33 PM as a reply to Mettafore.
Mettafore:
I won't get into the political side of this. Everyone is conditioned by a different past, hence different opinions.

I just want to comment that meditation != (not equal) Eightfold path . I have seen a few less than stellar monks who I believe are more experienced than the average Joe at meditation. Samtha and Vipassana ain't going to do much (might help a bit), if you are riddled with unskilful views, inentions, speech, actions etc.


I read somewhere (think it was something Vinay Gupta had written) that the reason most traditions have a strong focus on training morality heavily early on because progressing along the path can create just as many monsters as it does saints.  IIRC he was arguing that achieving enlightenment will make a person far more effective in enacting their will upon the world but that it won't necessarily burn away their negative tendencies.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/19/17 4:42 PM as a reply to rik.
The mind is simply a conditioned system and there is no moral culpability or "enlightened" beings.   If a monk is arguing that anything needs to be done to perfect reality, that monk's mind is mired in delusion - no matter how many hours they have sat.  

One thing I see is that people in Buddhist traditions often interpret their own meditative experience as personal accomplishment and it ends up adding fuel to egotistic narratives rather than undercutting them finally.   I imagine that if you become famous or powerful after some progress, you get stuck at that point and have pretend to have made it all the way to keep up the facade. 

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/19/17 11:15 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
The mind is simply a conditioned system and there is no moral culpability or "enlightened" beings.   If a monk is arguing that anything needs to be done to perfect reality, that monk's mind is mired in delusion - no matter how many hours they have sat.  

One thing I see is that people in Buddhist traditions often interpret their own meditative experience as personal accomplishment and it ends up adding fuel to egotistic narratives rather than undercutting them finally.


Any advice on working through this? Intent, sensations, attainments, etc all "just happen", but there's still a tendency to get excited or feel prideful when something new is learned or an insight occurs (even if I recognize how silly that is).

I think part of what makes this difficult is that on the one hand we don't "own" anything, yet we're subject to karma for the actions and thoughts that aren't "ours".

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/19/17 10:57 PM as a reply to manucho.
manucho:
Well I experienced a lot of compassion developping within me with Vipassana, and for most people around me. That's why I asked.


A lot of us do. I'm guessing you've been on at least one 10 day silent retreat. The silence I think is a way to provide a secluded atmosphere conducive to concentration as well as prevent unwholesome speech (divisive, false, gossip, sensuality). Along with that, you also took the 5 precepts. This was the base for the mental development you experienced. That ain't going to last or increase once you revert to unwholesome speech and actions outside retreat. Also, for continued arising of wholesome intention, Brahmaviharas are a great way to go; as well as to prevent falling into negative states.

This kind of reminds me: As an Indian, I've seen some Hindu epics on TV as a kid. It wasn't so uncommon for the antagonist to sit in years of meditation to Shiva or some other deity to obtain a certain psychic power which he ends up using for evil. Also, reminds me of Devadutta, the Buddha's cousin who had mastered all 8 Jhanas. Lost them later. He was extremely jealous of the Buddha, tried to divide the Sangha and even tried to assasinate the Buddha. Another interesting read is: Saints and Psychoaths by Daniel's teacher Bill Hamilton.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
11/20/17 9:52 AM as a reply to Lars.
"we" aren't really subject to anything.  

One thing that has worked for me is to ask myself - what is happening?  Not what is happening to me, but what is actually occuring.  If you ground yourself in the newtonian physics which underly our 20th century collective truth, then the answer is always - atoms are banging around pointlessly.  No matter what I feel or think or if i merge with God or want to have sex with the weather girl, what is really happening is atoms banging into each other for no reason at all.  It is possible to see through even that, or course, but I find keeping a rational materialist model is better because I really have faith in it.   

When I am just sitting riding the earth through space, the story of my life is obviously empty of intrinsic meaning and the arsings of the mind are objectively nonsense. 

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
5/29/18 5:40 AM as a reply to manucho.
It is possible to walk with some difficulty with a shoe full of stones, however it can be excruciating if there are just one or two stones in the shoe. So too, one can sleep on a bed of nails, but not on a single nail.

Just so, all unenlightened, and not yet fully awakened beings carry demons of the mind. However, because the Demons normally counteract each other the general population appears relatively calm and peaceful.As one advances in meditation one begins to lose some of the stones in the shoe, yet the few stones left cut the feet more than ever.  For cultural reasons this monk has developed an aversion that he now nurtures without realising it is among the final stones that need to be removed from the shoe.

Until he stops being a Burmese Theravada monk in his identity he will have a strong tendency to defend a culture and tradition. I find many cope with the material depravation of monasticism by hanging the ego on Buddhism or their tradition or Guru.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
5/29/18 5:48 AM as a reply to rik.
Awakening is not perfection. The real journey of purification begins with the awakening. Anyone who harbors negative tendencies or false identities is still subject to their vasanas, or a faint stink of ignorance that needs to be removed. The purification can take just as long, and can get ignored if one isn't careful.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
5/29/18 6:07 AM as a reply to Che.
Shinzen Young does a good job of explaining how this sort of thing happens in the recent Deconstructing Yourself podcast, How Good Teachers Go Bad.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
5/29/18 6:26 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Great podcast! 
I bought these two books several years ago but they’ve gathered dust until now. Time to take a peek I suppose. Daunting. (Buddhist Warfare and Zen At War.)

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
5/29/18 8:44 AM as a reply to JohnM.
Zen at War has also been on my list for years now. When Buddhists Attack was a fun read and kind of related. Japan makes an excellent case study for this stuff .

But humans have been co-opting religion for militaristic and nationalistic uses since forever and will likely continue to do so. Consider Jack Kornfield's mindfulness in the military program. 

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
7/22/18 8:04 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
[quote=Consider Jack Kornfield's mindfulness in the military program. 
]
Had not heard of that... That's sad if true or supportive of Nationalism, etc. I edited a bunch of immature comments about politics. There is no way I can stand for peace if I can't even still the mind in the face of adverse opinions regarding war, etc. That's why I stopped protest and started meditation in the first place.
 
Metta.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
7/15/18 11:14 PM as a reply to I Dream of Jnani.
He already declared he is not aiming to achieve nibanna . He is not walking the path anymore.
What he doing should be political and not under monk robe . I do not know what meditation technique he is doing , but even if it is correct techique , One cannot gain enlightenment if he is under following conditions in current or past lives:

  1. Murdering one's own mother.
  2. Murdering one's own father.
  3. Murdering an arahant.
  4. Maliciously injuring the Buddha to the point of drawing blood.
  5. Deliberately creating a schism in the monastic community
In addition , there is one condition , those who had wished to become buddha in previous lives , cannot also gain enlightenemnt in this life.

In Myanmar , none of the people going on the path accept him as a worthy of worship. We just ignore him.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
7/16/18 8:00 PM as a reply to Phyo Arkar.
[quote=
]In Myanmar , none of the people going on the path accept him as a worthy of worship. We just ignore him.
...and that's great to hear. You are speaking with a human being who is interacting with his first Sangha members (not counting my teacher) on a regular basis here on this forum. Metta.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
7/18/18 12:12 PM as a reply to I Dream of Jnani.
You interact with his Sanga members? they are so far away from path. None of my master do not even speak a line of politics.

RE: The Venerable W.: a monk preaching murder ?
Answer
7/22/18 8:08 PM as a reply to Phyo Arkar.
Phyo Arkar:
None of my master do not even speak a line of politics.
This is probably a great stress reducer for them. Here in the West, we try to stay away from Television. Internet can be just as sticky.
Politics seems to be the same movements since beginningless time, different content.