SuttaCentral

Paccittiya 8 & teaching laity


#41

I wonder if a monk could make an anonymous blog just saying they were a monk but not their name or where, and then could write all they wanted about their experiences and attainments.


#42

I don’t think many people would take an anonymous monastic seriously, especially as they make claims of such nature. Even a well known and rooted monk like ven. Maha Bua was embroiled in controversy following his claim of arahantship.

As for the vinaya rules, of course nothing is mentioned about blogs! And in no rule is the situation of talking without making oneself known is mentioned. This means that the rules apply still even if the monastic is anonymous, so long he or she do that act intentionally.

Finally I’d say anonymity in all its forms is not befitting or a honourable thing for a monastic, since it suggests that one has something to hide or is ashamed of something. This goes in opposition to the development of sīla. At DN 2 Buddha describes a virtuous monastic “just as a warrior king who has subjugated his enemies and is no where apprehensive of further antagonism.” The only situation where anonymity seems fine to me is when it’s done by a monastic who seeks to fight off māna or pride, self-advertising, and so forth. Doing benevolent things silently and in the background, for the growth of humility and self-abnegation rather than the opposite.


#46

Yeah! Really! That’s it!

So cool, right?!


Just as “sit still and don’t think” sounds easy, so too are “controlled mental faculties” and continuous sati much more difficult than they sound!

Like many of the Buddha’s teachings, there are depths here that appear gradually as we train in them. In fact, that feeling you got of “pff! I could do that!” is exactly the point! The Buddha is tantalizing us! He is making the impossible possible, pointing out the way from where we are to something higher. That is, after all, the whole point of the Dhamma: to bridge the gap.

So, please, don’t say that such things as honesty are trivial! Even moderation in eating can be a struggle for so many people: with anorexia or BED, for example. People die every day from unhealthy habits.

So, personally, I hold this rule as an injunction to always encourage others. Let’s hold up “moderation in eating” as something worthy of respect! Something worth being shy and furtive about. Something worth being proud of.


Wherever we are on the path, there is something we’ve accomplished. And some way to improve. The Vinaya encourages me to talk (and think!) in these, more pragmatic terms: here’s where I’ve come from and here’s where I’m going. No need to talk about where I am.


#47

Nibbana is often defined as the end of suffering by the way of eliminating the three poisons: craving, aversion, delusion.

In the end what interest me from anybody talking about the dhamma is how he/she practically use the tools provided by the Buddha to achieve this task of elimination.

Guess what? No teachers lay or monastic address this issue at all. Please send me a link to any dhamma talk that address this issue.
So called dhamma teachers are happy to talk about meditation and that’s it. Meditation is not even a dhamma word. The corresponding aspect in the dhamma is the eighth component of the 8FP, the jhanas, and it is not component number one. jhanas is not something you “work on”; it’s something that happen to you when you have progressed enough the other seven components.

If monastics (and lay teachers) were talking about the practical use of the 8FP to eliminate the three poisons they will have no issues with Paccittiya 8 and Parajikas no. 4 instead they will really provide the true dhamma useful to everyone.

If there were such teacher in the world my question to him/her would be, how did you use the 8FP to practically eliminate say: anger? and how did you achieve “drying up the remain of your past” Snp 5.11.4? etc. None of these questions will bring them to talk about jhana, the 4 fruits, etc. as listed in the OP.


#48

As a lay person asking questions, I would just point out that providing sutra references does not violate anything. Indeed I would prefer sutta references to reading any book.

The suttas offer many subtle instructions on jhana beyond the standard and oft-repeated definitions. For example, a monastic could clearly direct laity to sn48.40 which explains that pain is transcended in first jhana. A simple thought exercise about self-immolation would provide the inquiring lay person a fruitful understanding of the silliness of claiming jhana prematurely.

Additionally, what I seek is simply a definitional understanding of the practice. For example, when I read Sn48.40 recently, I was quite startled to see that sadness is transcended in second jhana. This type of information is critically helpful in guiding practice. I have often felt deep sadness but did not understand its relationship to immersion before I read the sutta.

To summarize, I think that open discussion about the suttas is possible and valuable without requiring claiming any attainments.


#49

To me this is putting the cart before the horse, i.e. jhana before the 1st six components of the 8FP. This is a fallacy to believe that meditation is the tool for removing cravings, aversions, delusions. Jhana becomes useful for finishing the job i.e. becoming an arahat. The bulk of the job, the 1st three stages are achieved by removing the 5 fetters and the tool for that are the 1st six components of the 8FP used in a very methodical and practical way (not a “religious” way).


#50

There you go; in one and the same breath denies the importance of referring to personal experience then goes on to prove the point by referring to his own experience! Self-reference paradox! Which very much proves the point I was trying to make throughout this thread: that communication of dhamma should be based more, if not even solely, on one’s own experience and the freedom to express such, and that practitioners and learners should be encouraged rather than discouraged from checking the impact and efficacy of Dhamma in each other’s experience and behaviour, a condition for which there is amble support in the suttas. The Buddha openly advises people to cross-examine and check whether there are any gaps between what a teacher is saying, and what he experiences. Therassavimaŋsati. My quoted remarks above were discussed in the context of examining the illogical vinaya definition of uttaramanussadhamma or supernatural qualities; a vinaya discussion that has got nothing to do with any overgeneralized intrinsic easiness or difficulty of this or that practice.

I imagine many of the problems to which friend @alaber refer here, come from the sorry fact that, precisely because many expound dhamma and magga from without an actual developed experience, there is too much confusion and disagreement about even the most basic concepts and practices. I imagine the utility of an opposite rule, prohibiting monks from explaining anything that they haven’t experienced themselves! That might not necessarily lead to a greater clarity, but it will certainly lead to lesser confusion! At least “teachers” might exhibit more humility and speak with lesser certainty about what they imagine to be “the intention of the Buddha”, and only as revealed to them through the dead and deaf and blind text. There is already too much confusion on Dhamma issues; I’d think highly of any measure that contributes at least to the lessening of such confusion. It’s got nothing to do with informing the world where “one is” on the path. I have already emphasised this point in previous posts on this thread.

Many fundamental aspects of magga or practice, are seriously obscured from us, though some act as if we know everything about it and speak with such audacity and certitude simply because they happen to be in possession of the bloody corrupting microphone! A hopeless, compulsive, greedy and egoist need for certainty, and also of self-worth, results in nothing other than an increasing reliance on linguistic analysis of Pali texts to fill all these gaps, which is accompanied by another reliance on the blah-blahing conceptualizing mind, all of which is done to explain something so experiential and practical as Dhamma-practice.

If you never swam and wish to swim; the more you think about how swimming is done, the more you continue to be oblivious to the fact that all your ideas about the experience of swimming, are unreliable. You know how swimming is done only when you finally, do swim. Strangely, after that you might find it very difficult to explain how it’s done to others; especially if you are not allowed to speak from your own experience. Then there is only one option: to throw the young lad into the water and let him figure it out spontaneously, or else, drown.

And here we are, already plunged, already drowning, for a long time, in the great ocean of suffering. Headed directly toward the death that awaits us right across from this doorstep; many will be reborn in circumstances where further contact with Dhamma is far from being guaranteed. So we desperately need those who, having abandoned all idle, confused, scholastic, pedantic, and utterly boring blah-blahing, and who will speak precisely from their own experience, can now effectively teach us how to get out of suffering ourselves, or at least, how to float and maintain our contact with the liberating noble quest across the barrier of death! But there is a reason, alas, why those accomplished practitioners, are mostly silent: for truly rare are those ears which seek to listen with a sincere and thorough sense of purpose. And nothing is more sorrow than a sudhamma falling on deaf ears.


#51

a) THERE IS NO NEED FOR ALL CAPS!!! We’re friends here, ok? :heart:

b) Far from hypocracy, I demonstrated for you how one can speak from their own experience without running afoul of this rule. There are many ways to talk from and about your own experience without claiming anything special. Far from IMPOSSIBLE, it just takes humility.

And a willingness to listen more closely :wink:


#52

I had no antagonistic intentions, and not every use of CAPS is indicative of anger or aversion. Anyways I removed the CAPS.


#53

I believe it is not appropriate for anyone to teach the dhamma without having at least achieved stream-entry (i.e. having destroyed the 1st three fetters). Otherwise he/she is going to speak about the dhamma as a theory and that is not useful to anyone and could even be totally unproductive as he/she having no realisation of it may talk wrongly about it.

So if one has destroyed the 1st three fetters and is working on (or has already succeeded) eliminating sensual-desires and ill-wills, he/she can explain how to practically use the 8FP for this eliminating tasks.


#54

Agreed. Yet having spent almost four decades doing the horse part of the path, my questions are actually about the Jhana cart. :smiley:


#55

How would they know they have achieved stream entry, though?


#56

When one crosses a stage of awakening he/she knows it. No doubt about that.


#57

Are you making a claim here of your own attainments, since you seem to be doing a bit of teaching in the thread…? Or is it just a theory based on something you’ve heard, in which case, what if your theoretical knowledge might actually be ‘unproductive’ or even ‘wrong’? :thinking: :thinking::thinking:

Again, is this knowledge from your personal experience? Or is it theory?

Now, imagine you were a monk or nun. You probably either just pārājika-ed yourself (if you knew that you are unattained but tried to deceive). Or, you grossly overestimated your ability, and yet you’re talking to the general community about this type of thing without actually being qualified, so, they might be easily misled by your ignorance, which you
yourself pointed out would be ‘unproductive’.

Please don’t think I am making this personal @alaber :grinning: it’s just your post is most recent here… but hopefully my point is clear? Reading through many of the posts in this thread, it seems likely there truly are very sound reasons for monastic rules against discussing attainments. It would be good for monastics and lay people also, to reflect a bit more about these topics before saying too much, especially if they are unsure of their knowledge and even more so, it seems, if they are certain of it!

As they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.


#58

What is your take then on monastics teaching about Nibbana, the deva system, the rebirths etc.? Shouldn’t they then say all the time “This is not my personal knowledge, I just read it in books and heard it from my teacher - and also my teacher didn’t claim it to be his personal knowledge. He also just got it from books and his teachers”?

The fact is that most monastics I’ve heard tip-toe around it. Nobody claims to have attained, and yet they sit in front of an audience and assume a position of authority on the matter which would only be justified if they actually attained.

This ‘modesty’ is mostly confusing for laypeople - Do they know what they are talking about, or not? And after a time of adoration, in looking behind the ‘monastery machine’ there can be disillusionment about the monastic business.

My point is, monastic lectures often actively play with the fantasy of the audience that they have attained, not actively rejecting it, but keeping it vaguely open. I, at least, prefer transparency. If someone wants to teach, let them say from which position they teach, the academic, the follower-by-faith, or the attained. Because the audience chats about it anyway.


#59

If people (monastic or lay) are attempting to imply something they don’t have, then it is clearly deceptive conduct. But at least the monastic system has consequences for explicitly deceptive conduct, unlike with lay people. Personally, that’s where I see the greater danger. Soo many lay arahants out there!

When it comes to jhana I think there is somewhat justified angst and confusion among lay people that monastics don’t explicitly discuss it. Because of this lack of clarity, the definition of jhana has been corrupted and the lofty level of it’s attainment has been diminished. This is because people want to practice jhana and unqualified teachers who overestimate their ability have made claims about it, they then attract students, who are consequently taught incorrectly, and so on… Things have snowballed from there and now people are even changing the definition of Enlightenment. So, ego driven teachers and well meaning but unqualified enthusiasts, actually create a whole lot of confusion and damage. Again, I think there are more institutional protections against monastics doing this than there are protections that forestall cavalier or unscrupulous lay teachers, or even posters online.

People should either teach or talk from experience in a skillful way, or use careful speech that defers to a higher source, like “the Buddha said…”, “In the such and such Sutta it says”, or. “according to the Dhamma there is…” etc.
I think this is the way most monastics do it.

I can see so many problem arising from this, but they’ve already been touched on in this thread and elsewhere. Suffice to say, monastics still have rules around this and we shouldn’t seek to change them lightly. Overall, I’d guess there is much less hazard in remaining silent on these issues or speaking theoretically, than there would be if people start making claims of this and that.

I’d encourage people if they can to make sustained, meaningful real-life connections with a teacher they trust. These kinds of conversations take time. Trust and understanding needs to be built between the people involved. I don’t think the internet is such an appropriate place for seeking out deeper teachings.

People posting about their meditation might benefit from looking at their own practice more critically beforehand and also examine their reasons for writing about their practice in a public forum. Readers of forums, too should always be cautious about believing people’s claims or taking meditation advice from people they don’t know.


#60

IMO your preposition perhaps might assume a non-Buddhist audience, for whom these four absorptions might not hold a position of prestige, a position of holy authority, a position which yields for itself esoteric knowledge to the social benefit of that positionee positioned above his practitioner audience, themselves jockeying for position.

Are these dhyānāni not a miracle one could show off with?

Alternatively, instead of assuming a non-Buddhist audience, from my perspective, it also strikes me that the above sentiment framed as a question, namely “jhanas are hardly miracles one could show off with,” might presume that the dhyānin in question has actually attained those stations.

What use is showing off with your achieved dhyāna? What use is basing your authority on your perceived dhyānic station?

IMO the answers to those questions are divergent based on what you frame your “use” as. Is “use” prestige and fame? Is “use” progress on the path?


#61

What a sad state of affairs we find ourselves today compared to the time of the Buddha when it was well known who was what, from stream-enterer to arahat. Why do we have these rules that where not there at the time? There are so many suttas where the Buddha claims his and other people achievements. These rules where surely added after him.


#62

Indeed. And by people who more directly than us knew they weren’t him.


#63

The Buddha was the Buddha! :pray: He probably had a preeeetty good idea if someone was attained or not and could be trusted. The same might not be said for some characters today…

Remember that the specific audience for individual suttas is quite important. The Buddha usually only revealed others’ attainments to the an audience of Sangha, not to lay people (unless the monk or nun had already passed away), which, as has been pointed out here already, is not an offense for a monk in any case.

The pārājika 4 rule was certainly there at the time of the Buddha. I’m not sure why the pacitiya 8 would be any different? But if you have actual knowledge of this, please present it.

Both rules seem designed to work to protect both the practioner and the community, so perhaps they are still useful.