Commodification of Buddhism: a threat to its real value

My parents are both Yankees and I also lived in Manhattan for many years, hehe. I just happen to be of the opinion that FDR is the most white-washed US President of the 20th century. Pretty much I am a political fence-sitter that looks to results not so much ideological feelings. :zipper_mouth_face:

I was referring to a single individual. I think my wording was possibly lacking clarity there. :sunglasses:

You know what they say about assumptions!!! :rofl: I apologize! :pray:t3:

To be honest, I don’t know very much, aside from the basics. I’m not agreeing with you, but I am not disagreeing either. I just don’t think I’m in a position to tell.

What do you mean white-washed though? lol Why?

I totally agree. I’m pretty sure that’s why we both look to the Dhamma-Vinaya.
Because it actually leads to happy results and not otherwise.

Thank you for clarifying! Yes, makes sense.

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Indeed :heavy_heart_exclamation:

No apology necessary. I didn’t think there was any maliciousness in what you said at all :grin:

No. “Concerns me most” means both concern me, but one concerns me more than the other. If you have monks and temples getting rich from large national followings like American televangelists, then you have an ethical problem, to be sure. Such teachers usually become more political than philosophical and the teaching suffers. It’s just that I think if right view were common place in society, this wouldn’t happen. That’s the root problem to me.

The keyword is particular rather than meditation. Meditation is necessary, yes, in some form in order to contemplate and observe, and concentration is a skill that needs to develop. I think people get obsessed with particular meditation techniques. Some think dhyana is the gateway to awakening, others make breathing techniques or chanting their core meditative practice, believing that if they go just in the right way, they’ll win awakening, or a longer life, or spiritual powers. I think it’s right view that needs that level of attention. Meditation can take many forms, and it did during the Buddha’s time as it does now.

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Please accept! lol You are right, there was no maliciousness in what I said - but it was still a misguided, mistaken assumption!


Thank you clarifying! Make sense. :slightly_smiling_face:

Good point! So true.

Thanks for clarifying again! This makes sense too.

What do you mean by this? Aside from the jhanas? :thinking:

Yes. The EBTs describe different meditative practices: The four abodes of mindfulness, breath meditation, and the four jhanas seem to be the main ones. In later texts, there are the four formless samadhis, the four immeasurables, samatha and vipassana, and several others. In modern times, I personally think that practices like zazen, contemplating koans, and chanting sutra titles or Buddha names are meditative techniques. If it develops concentration and observation skills, it’s a form of meditation in my opinion.

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Well, my comment was based on general kamma vipaka. I read in one sutta probably Brahmajala about ascetics doing unethical things while depending on food given in faith. This is close to what happens in some buddhist countries where monks predict future for money. In Sri Lanka there are ads in paper of monks who do readings for money. Poor, dumb people are trained to only say 3 sadhus to these monks. :rofl:

Most of the monks are not even following vinaya rules . But if one says a word against them, there are repercussions in this life! :scream:

My point is using the robe and buddhist label and doing exact opposite of what buddha said is worse than lay people trying to earn a living through teaching mindfulness.

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The commentary to the Mahāsupina Jātaka is a late text, though historically it’s been an exceptionally important one in the Theravadin cultural milieu – especially in Burma, where even to this day it’s the text that invariably gets wheeled out during times of national crisis.

Among early texts, one relevant sutta that comes to mind is the Sattajaṭila Sutta, though only in its Udāna version, not the SN one.

Ven. Ānandajoti:

“One should not endeavour in all circumstances, one should not be another’s man,
One should not live depending on another, one should not live trading in Dhamma (dhammena na vaṇiṃ care).”

Ud. 6.2 Ānandajoti

And Ajahn Thanissaro’s, which seems to follow the metrically irregular Khmer var. of the last line:

One should not make an effort everywhere,
should not be another’s hireling,
should not live dependent on another,
should not go about
as a trader in the Dhamma (dhammena na vāṇijaṃ care).

Ud. 6.2 Thanissaro


Please go to this link and see, AN 5:80  Anāgata-bhayāni Sutta | Future Dangers (4). In fact there are 4 sutras and this is the fourth one. Today this is very evident. Also not just one dream, but all 16 dreams of King Pasenadi Kosala are there to see today.
Take the dream where hard rocks were seen floating while empty pots made from pumpkin fruit by taking out the inner parts have sunk deep into the lake bottm.
What this means that well qualified and deserving people to hold high posts are pushed out while empty foolish and yes sir no sir three bags full sir people are being appointed to very high positions in governments.

Which of the rules seem to be most commonly broken?

This reminds me of Christianity in the West. Perhaps this is a problem common to all the majority religions in any population. Due to their sheer number, they may exercise undue power - which sadly might just backfire on those individuals who do so.

I think this is also sad for the monks in these countries who DO live according to the Dhamma-Vinaya.

One thing I would caution about is painting all the monastics with a broad brush.

Apparently, even in the days of the Buddha, the laypeople would have a common habit of seeing an offense that was committed more than once and generalize saying “the Sakyan sons are like this or that.”

With that being said, I currently happen to be studying in Sri Lanka right now, and I am told that many of the monastics repeatedly break the Vinaya rules - and the problem is quite rampant, and not limited to a few individuals. So I can empathize.

Any idea what can to be done to help address this problem suitably?

Would you say both are harmful?

Why do you think that it is “worse”?

Can you please explain the relevance? Make the connection? It doesn’t seem readily apparent to me.

Reminded me of this dream:

The King said:

“I saw men unyoking a team of draught-oxen, sturdy and strong, and instead setting young steers to draw the load: and the steers proving unequal to the task laid on them, refused and stood stock still, so that the wagons did not move.

What shall come of it?”

The Buddha replied:

“ Here again this will not have any bearing on you. During the days of unrighteous rulers, wise men and aged councillors skilled in the precedent, fertile in expedience and able to get through business, learned in the laws of the country, will not be honored nor appointed to courts of law.
Those appointed officials, ignorant alike of statecraft and of practical knowledge shall not be able to bear the burden of their honours or to govern, and because of their incompetence would not be able to discharge their duties. Whereupon the aged and wise lords shall keep in mind having been passed over earlier and shall decline to assist saying: “It is of no business of ours, we are outsiders. You were appointed, now you carry on.” Hence they shall stand aside and ruination will result just as the yoke that was laid on the young steers that were not strong enough to carry the wagons.

“Again you have nothing to fear, oh king, from those far-off times when all the nations will be poorly run by the young and foolish.

Definitely reminds me of what is happening both in the US and abroad.
This part in particular
“learned in the laws of the country, will not be honored nor appointed to courts of law.”
reminded me of how the Trump administration was able to not just secure 2 Supreme Court, but apparently has the appointed far more judges than his predecessors:

“The Kavanaugh and Gorsuch nominations are sort of the icing on the cake,” Blackman said. “But I think the real action is in the lower courts, which most people don’t even know about.” Trump's legacy: conservative judges who will dominate US law for decades | US news | The Guardian

Which in turn reminded me of the next dream lol:

The King said

“Sir, I saw a horse with a mouth on either side, to which fodder was given on both sides and it ate with both mouths. It was eating voraciously.

This was my fifth dream. What shall come of it?”

The Buddha replied:

“This dream too shall have its fulfilment only in the future, in the days of unrighteous and foolish rulers who shall appoint unrighteous and covetous men to be judges. These base ones, fools, despising the good, would take bribes from both sides as they sit in the seat of judgement and shall be filled with this two-fold corruption even as the horse that ate fodder with both mouths at once.”

Despite the seeming uncanniness of the predictions, I am a bit skeptical because these stories seem to stem from later sources - and perhaps it is a coincident where the relatively “bad” and “good” take turns ruling the same way Asuras and Devas constantly battle for divine power. So the prediction might be confirmed each time the Asuras and the Asura-like seize power, whether in the human or god realms.

Wow :star_struck: Thank you!

What a find!!

Do you have any idea why it might be mentioned so infrequently?

Simple, link the 16 dreams of King Kosala to today and see them happening. Then go to Future Fears Sutta the 4th and you will note that no longer monks are happy with Pansukhula robes but look for the best robes, and same true of accommodation, the food. Thenb what is lacking is that many do not practise the Dhamma taught by Buddha and few even try to manipulate the teachings. The end it seems getting near.
See what is happening in the planet earth right now, millions in protests in Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon, Bolivia, Venezeula. Then the attrition developing in USA on account of the Congress investigations on President, the BREXIT getting worse, floods in Japan, India, France, UK and many other nations, fire burning it all in California, extreme heat in many nations. Due to the enormous hatred that is being spewed out each day by humans, the four great elements are impacted and they are reacting.
What is left to react is earth element. Imagine what will happen if the plate tectonics go at each other? It is becoming really dangerous but still there is no abating of human hatred towards fellow humans.

Only highly speculative ones. For example, perhaps selling the Dhamma was such a rare and outlandish thing to do in the early days that the impropriety of doing it didn’t need to be much emphasized.


Isn’t it up to the monks and their superiors to address such problems themselves. As a non ordained person I don’t feel that this is my territory. I’m responsible to myself for guarding my own sila. Not sure that I can take on that of others.


Any rule which will stand in the way of living like a lay person and reaping benefits of a monastic? Some monks have mistresses and kids. They buy land to build houses for them with the help of politicians. Some have dinner, watch tele dramas , request meat for Dana, highly involved in politics, instigate racism against minorities, flirt with women etc.,

So yeah to me this is worse than mindfulness movements which do not use buddhism notoriously as “buddhist rogues” in robes to earn money. (Edited)

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Heard on CBC radio, Ronald Purser (interview) McMindfulness: how capitalism hijacked the Buddhist teaching of mindfulness


I love this sentence from the trascript

“So you become mindful, to become more productive, to produce technologies of mass distraction, which is quite an irony in many ways. A sad irony actually.”

McMindfulness facilitating technologies of Mass Distraction ! :rofl: :sweat_smile: :cold_sweat: :scream:


Miccha-sati at its best!


If it’s causing greed hatred and delusion in people, and causing heedlessness, one could even argue it counts as wrong livelihood.


Much of the commodification of Buddhism, Yoga etc is in the loss of separation between Meditation and A sitting practice.

IN Meditation Self is in grace with Body and doing ceases. While one may wander and thoughts may take one - gently Self shines again and again and one slowly acclimates to a cessation of inertias.

Regarding a sitting practice (or a moving practice) It is easy to sell a “doing” - “how to clear your chakra’s” “color meditations” "visualizations for (anything that sells or makes it look like it will be the faster more effective better path - and this is not to say these are all tricks and of no utility).

It is easy to sell the path of Virgin Organic Grass Fed Vegan Wholistic Perfect Perfection - also a doing - this often losing sight that the seeker is not that which will attain Awakening. Perfection of the monkey was never the way.

All of Buddhism could be said to be a teaching of how to be released from loss of self to the inertias - ones karmic winds. This is intentional suffering - facing ones proclivities, judgements, certainties and assuredness.

Grasping is easy and easy to sell a better set of grab bars - a better banana.

Un-clinging the monkey winds from the unborn spotless self - abiding IN Self that the I’s one is lost in fall away.

Sometimes also it is not commodification but new words in the Now that resonate like new fuel in a fine old lantern.

With commidification, there might be an opportunity for more bliss. For some, dissatisfaction with bliss will lead upwards to:

MN8:4.4: But in the training of the noble one these are not called ‘self-effacement’;
MN8:4.5: they’re called ‘blissful meditations in the present life’.

The path is conditioned. I see no threat. I do see people piling up in a dead-end.