Western Monastic - reasons why she left

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Miroku
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Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Miroku » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:46 pm

Hi,
sorry about the strange title. But here is an interesting article http://thetattooedbuddha.com/2018/06/14 ... tradition/

What do you think about this. I would be quite interested where this happened. I cannot quite imagine this (leaving a monk without training completely) happening in my center. What is your experience?

Also do you agree that in the west there should be created an ordained community of westerners?
Last edited by Grigoris on Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed title
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

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Queequeg
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:20 pm

I faintly recall Nagarjuna remarking that we create the environment for Buddha's and Bodhisattvas to appear, and he meant it not only in the spiritual sense of cultivating yearning but in the material sense of providing material support - a place to sleep and food to eat; resources to train the young and bring them into the Sangha. The image in my mind is of tossing out bread to feed birds. By providing the support, the birds come down from the heavens and hang around, singing beautiful songs.

Bob Thurman remarked on a recent podcast, we can't say Dharma has taken root in the west until we are materially funding Dharma.

There's a lot of cynicism in the West about religion, especially the economics. After those gripes are expressed, though, one needs to understand the practical reality of Dharma.

There is a reason Dana is emphasized. At the same time, the corrolary are the demands of moral and ethical behavior of the monastics: if I'm giving you a free lunch, you better be the real deal. If you just think the robes are a cover to loaf, this is not going to work.

My life plan includes supporting one or two people who have elected to devote themselves to Dharma. Financially I'm not there yet but it's in the works. It may not be for another decade or so. In the meantime I give what I can because I wish the Dharma to flow. I am by no means wealthy, but between a fancy car and giving someone the opportunity to live the Dharmic life without concern about where they will sleep or eat, that would be infinitely more satisfying.

Until more people get real about Dharma - and this means looking at the lived reality of Buddhism, Western Buddhism is a frivolous word.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Grigoris
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Grigoris » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:50 pm

The economic aspect is spot on. Here in Greece if you don't have a sponsor, or an independent source of income, you can forget monkhood.

I think the problem about training is not so relevant, because in reality a monk is not necessarily a lama and a lama does not have to be a monk. Regardless what the laity may believe.

I have seen the training program for Kagyu lama here in Europe and it is pretty thorough.

That said: one cannot know the meaning of EVERYTHING. Even a Loppon cannot know everything.

As for the details in rituals: I am NOT a lama, but I sat down with a lama friend and got them to explain all the mudra, visualisations, music, etc... for my main practices. You cannot always wait for something to be taught to you. There is SOOOOOOO... much out there to learn, so sometimes you just have to ask for specific teachings.

Final point: Because of the problems involved with financing of western monastics (consider the fact, for example, that monastics do not make social security payments during their service and thus risk not having pensions when they grow old) many monastics I know believe that the Ngakpa path is possibly the one currently best suited for the west. I tend to agree with them.
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Miroku
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Miroku » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:01 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:50 pm
Final point: Because of the problems involved with financing of western monastics (consider the fact, for example, that monastics do not make social security payments during their service and thus risk not having pensions when they grow old) many monastics I know believe that the Ngakpa path is possibly the one currently best suited for the west. I tend to agree with them.
By this you have reminded me one old friend of mine. He was a DWB Ole Karma Kagyu guy and I must admit I do usually look at the group with suspicion, however that guy was the most sincere practitioner I have ever met. He was in his late 50's and was really into it. He had a family but he got divorced years ago and since then he always worked during summer and for the rest of the year he lived in small room somewhere and did around four two hour tuns per day. He was fascinating. Unofrtunately they kicked him out of the local DWB center because he didn't have money (after years of supporting them) to pay the entrance. Just a story.

However, yes Dana is the most important. I have the luck to be part of DC sangha and also one Drikung Kagyu sangha where they understand me being still a student so the financial burden is not there for me. I am very grateful for that. And I agree with the author of the article and I must add that it seems to me that western sanghas sometimes focus too much on inviting the "big lamas" and getting the big and nice place in the city or somewhere and many secondary things that it creates stupid financial burden. Instead of working with what you can do some centers tend to go with the "flashy way". Also every small group wants to have a big center. That is a nonsense. There are so many groups and centers it is almost unbelievable. Plus centers create often so much tension among the disciples especially when it comes to big projects. Just imagine if instead of focusing on projects and giving money there, people gave money to support some yogi in a caravan and focused the energy on their own practice. :D
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:20 pm
I faintly recall Nagarjuna remarking that we create the environment for Buddha's and Bodhisattvas to appear, and he meant it not only in the spiritual sense of cultivating yearning but in the material sense of providing material support - a place to sleep and food to eat; resources to train the young and bring them into the Sangha. The image in my mind is of tossing out bread to feed birds. By providing the support, the birds come down from the heavens and hang around, singing beautiful songs.

Bob Thurman remarked on a recent podcast, we can't say Dharma has taken root in the west until we are materially funding Dharma.
I like that. It really can't be said.

But at the same time I must honestly say I do believe the nun could be slightly more patient with her situation. I understand it must be very hard to be a nun and support herself and at the same time practice and keep the vows. On the other hand... it seems she blamed the people bit too much. Yes those situations were not ideal, however she could have asked fellow monks for some classes to get to know the chants and maybe work with the sangha... but don't know maybe she tried.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

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Malcolm
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:52 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:50 pm
The economic aspect is spot on. Here in Greece if you don't have a sponsor, or an independent source of income, you can forget monkhood.
The situation in Tibet was the same. Monastics were generally supported by their families. The more poor the family, the less likely there would be a monk in the family.

Poor monks were workers, cooks, stable hands, etc.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Virgo » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:36 pm

In general TB is having a hard time adapting to the West.

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །


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Malcolm
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Malcolm » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:49 pm

Virgo wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:36 pm
In general TB is having a hard time adapting to the West.

Kevin...
I don't agree, actually. It is better for the west than Sutric Buddhism.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Virgo
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Virgo » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:00 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:49 pm
Virgo wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:36 pm
In general TB is having a hard time adapting to the West.

Kevin...
I don't agree, actually. It is better for the west than Sutric Buddhism.
Oh I agree with that. My point is about presentation, emphasis, and how funds are used. It's going to take me a while so maybe I can make a post later to flesh it out more.

Western lifestyles need to be taken into account, imo.

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །


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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Virgo » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:19 pm

Well, maybe I won't pull a Martin Luther just yet.

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །


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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:49 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:49 pm
Virgo wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:36 pm
In general TB is having a hard time adapting to the West.

Kevin...
I don't agree, actually. It is better for the west than Sutric Buddhism.
Maybe. Would be interested in further detail of your thoughts on this.

One thing, the concern with Books in the West might at a superficial level make what you call Sutric Buddhism more attractive to Westerners, particularly the Books that are widely assumed to contain the Buddha's actual words... seems in that sense, Pali Buddhism might have an edge... though of course once they start looking at the issues closely assumptions are assaulted. Pali Buddhism also has the advantage of being relatively austere - also appealing, I would think, particularly to Westerners with Protestant sensibilities.

Its asking a lot for people to get past the questions about Mahayana with its fantastic narratives and iconography of hosts of buddhas and bodhisattvas, not to say anything of the pyrotechnics of TB.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:34 am

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:49 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:49 pm
Virgo wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:36 pm
In general TB is having a hard time adapting to the West.

Kevin...
I don't agree, actually. It is better for the west than Sutric Buddhism.
Maybe. Would be interested in further detail of your thoughts on this.

One thing, the concern with Books in the West might at a superficial level make what you call Sutric Buddhism more attractive to Westerners, particularly the Books that are widely assumed to contain the Buddha's actual words... seems in that sense, Pali Buddhism might have an edge... though of course once they start looking at the issues closely assumptions are assaulted. Pali Buddhism also has the advantage of being relatively austere - also appealing, I would think, particularly to Westerners with Protestant sensibilities.

Its asking a lot for people to get past the questions about Mahayana with its fantastic narratives and iconography of hosts of buddhas and bodhisattvas, not to say anything of the pyrotechnics of TB.
Would likewise be interested in further detail.

Despite an "a-religious" upbringing I found the mahayana generally appealing though the more ornate aspects take some getting used to OTOH TB has never appealed even after many hrs of podcasts and lectures on various schools & traditions.

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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Virgo » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:57 am

Well that is kind of a different topic.

What we are discussing here is the sad, sad state of affairs of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Including why there are even monastic positions in this time and place when they don't allow a person to receive an education or even increase their level of practice at all, in many (most) cases. It's just Tibet in the West... which is a bit ridiculous. I say that, of course, with deep love and respect for Tibetan Culture. I just don't think we need the "baggage" part of Tibetan culture, and every culture, (including Western of course) has some baggage.

Kevin...
ངོ་རང་ཐོག་ཏུ་སྤྲད། །
ཐག་གཅིག་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅད། །
གདེང་གྲོལ་ཐོག་ཏུ་བཅའ། །


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Aspiring.Monk
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Aspiring.Monk » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:04 am

I have been thinking about this topic and agree that we need a better solution to Buddhism in the West.

Could "American Buddhism" be developed?

Generally, whenever Buddhism travels to a new land/country it is molded by that country and its culture.

I am wondering what "American Buddhism" would look like? Would there be a system of tantra? Would we adapt Tibetan Buddhism to fit our culture?

How would monastics dress? How would yogi's/ngakpas dress? How would they be supported?

Would mantras be translated for ease or would they remain in Sanskrit?

I think it could be something worth exploring.

What do you all think?

Also, if this should be discussed with a new thread, please let me know and Ill create a new one.

humble.student
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by humble.student » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:10 am

I really had absolutely no faith in the tulku system and deeply distrusted guru devotion.
Finances and tulku system aside, lack of guru devotion isn't going to you anywhere either.

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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Kamshan » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:55 am

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:20 pm
I faintly recall Nagarjuna remarking that we create the environment for Buddha's and Bodhisattvas to appear, and he meant it not only in the spiritual sense of cultivating yearning but in the material sense of providing material support - a place to sleep and food to eat; resources to train the young and bring them into the Sangha. The image in my mind is of tossing out bread to feed birds. By providing the support, the birds come down from the heavens and hang around, singing beautiful songs.

Bob Thurman remarked on a recent podcast, we can't say Dharma has taken root in the west until we are materially funding Dharma.

There's a lot of cynicism in the West about religion, especially the economics. After those gripes are expressed, though, one needs to understand the practical reality of Dharma.

There is a reason Dana is emphasized. At the same time, the corrolary are the demands of moral and ethical behavior of the monastics: if I'm giving you a free lunch, you better be the real deal. If you just think the robes are a cover to loaf, this is not going to work.

My life plan includes supporting one or two people who have elected to devote themselves to Dharma. Financially I'm not there yet but it's in the works. It may not be for another decade or so. In the meantime I give what I can because I wish the Dharma to flow. I am by no means wealthy, but between a fancy car and giving someone the opportunity to live the Dharmic life without concern about where they will sleep or eat, that would be infinitely more satisfying.

Until more people get real about Dharma - and this means looking at the lived reality of Buddhism, Western Buddhism is a frivolous word.
Excellent point about the necessity of dana and funding for monastics and monastic institutions. We don't expect businesses or government public services to run without resources, so why would Dharma centers and monasteries be any different? Teachings may be given freely, but someone has to pay the light bills and buy all those beautiful thangkas! What will it take for more of us to eagerly support Dharma services with our own finances?

Funding individuals to practice makes sense too. May you soon realize that noble goal!

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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:12 am

Miroku wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:46 pm
Hi,
sorry about the strange title. But here is an interesting article http://thetattooedbuddha.com/2018/06/14 ... tradition/

What do you think about this. I would be quite interested where this happened. I cannot quite imagine this (leaving a monk without training completely) happening in my center. What is your experience?

Also do you agree that in the west there should be created an ordained community of westerners?
Too many lineages looking for their own center created too much fundrising. Sad history, we could be at least one vajrayana commumity compounded of different sanghas.
Identities are false and not true

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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by PeterC » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:11 am

It's a difficult problem with no obvious solution. But her article lays the blame at some nebulous "Tibetan Buddhism" when it looks like there's a few things going on.

1. She ordained into a group which didn't enable her to be useful. There are sanghas that, when they ordain Western monastics, steer them towards being translators/interpreters, teach them ritual practices, put them into dharma centers to function as teachers, etc etc. There is pretty much no economic model for an ordained western monastic that involves them doing nothing, unless they are already rich or have patronage. The FPMT isn't the only organization that has thought about how to help the western monastics, there are others.

2. It's not a walk in the park for Tibetan nuns either. Nunneries don't get the lion's share of funding or priority in receiving teachings.

3. She seems to have more profound issues with the Vajrayana as a path than just economic support.

The majority of Dharma organizations that I've seen close-up enough to have an opinion are badly managed. This is probably because the leaders of those organizations don't have the attributes that make them good commercial managers, and frankly, why should they have. This isn't limited to Tibetan organizations nor is it limited to poor ones - there are enough rich Thai monasteries that have issues with misuse of funds.

There was a point where I put a lot of time and energy into this issue for one teacher. In the end I gave up, because it was a waste of my time - I wasn't able to achieve much by expending time on it, it was more efficient just to support financially. I do feel that financial support, to the extent that people are capable of it, is something that all lay practitioners should be doing. However it shouldn't be putting cash into a collection box somewhere, from whence it vanishes into a black hole. It's worth taking the time to decide where and how you want to support - sponsor translations, sponsor a monastic, pay for construction of facilities, etc.

Miroku
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Miroku » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:14 am

javier.espinoza.t wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:12 am
Too many lineages looking for their own center created too much fundrising. Sad history, we could be at least one vajrayana commumity compounded of different sanghas.
Heh that would be nice to be more rime or at least several sanghas use one center together (in one city here in Czechia it works like this DC, Kwan Um and some hinayana group use the same room), but just imagine all those fights. Lets be honest sectarianism did get to the west. Not as strong but it is here.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

Miroku
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by Miroku » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:20 am

PeterC wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:11 am
It's a difficult problem with no obvious solution. But her article lays the blame at some nebulous "Tibetan Buddhism" when it looks like there's a few things going on.

1. She ordained into a group which didn't enable her to be useful. There are sanghas that, when they ordain Western monastics, steer them towards being translators/interpreters, teach them ritual practices, put them into dharma centers to function as teachers, etc etc. There is pretty much no economic model for an ordained western monastic that involves them doing nothing, unless they are already rich or have patronage. The FPMT isn't the only organization that has thought about how to help the western monastics, there are others.

2. It's not a walk in the park for Tibetan nuns either. Nunneries don't get the lion's share of funding or priority in receiving teachings.

3. She seems to have more profound issues with the Vajrayana as a path than just economic support.

The majority of Dharma organizations that I've seen close-up enough to have an opinion are badly managed. This is probably because the leaders of those organizations don't have the attributes that make them good commercial managers, and frankly, why should they have. This isn't limited to Tibetan organizations nor is it limited to poor ones - there are enough rich Thai monasteries that have issues with misuse of funds.

There was a point where I put a lot of time and energy into this issue for one teacher. In the end I gave up, because it was a waste of my time - I wasn't able to achieve much by expending time on it, it was more efficient just to support financially. I do feel that financial support, to the extent that people are capable of it, is something that all lay practitioners should be doing. However it shouldn't be putting cash into a collection box somewhere, from whence it vanishes into a black hole. It's worth taking the time to decide where and how you want to support - sponsor translations, sponsor a monastic, pay for construction of facilities, etc.
I agree with you. I must say that at some points it seemed that she was slightly naive. I kinda wonder what she was expecting when she ordained. Whether she expected to have more time to practice and go more into the depth or just be supported by sangha as at some point it did sound like that might be the case a bit.

And definetly money in dharma funds should be closely guarded and not just disappear. Also lets be honest one doesn't have to be generous with only money but also by giving things and their time and hard work.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

shaunc
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Re: Western Monastic - reasons why she left

Post by shaunc » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:20 pm

I personally feel that Japanese buddhism is a better fit for the west. With lay house holder priests rather than monks/nuns.
Self supporting with the lay sangha providing temple upkeep mainly.
I know that I can't speak for everyone but I also feel that guru devotion generally wouldn't be accepted by most westerners.
Good luck and best wishes.
Namu Amida Butsu.
Shaun.

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