Paying respect to the teachers from past

I often see people calling most venerable monks from the past by name and it is disrespectful. If they could call living venerables by respectful tittles why not the most venerable monks from the past; using tero (thero) will not be that difficult. However, it may be a regular practice in scholary articles to use only the name. But in a forum like this the tradition can possibly be changed(?). (Here I was to point the community not the forum itself, never wanted to ask about changing the rules and regulations)
I would suggest to read about them to get some saddha over those the most senior bhikkus.

I am going to mention only few bhikkus from the past.
Some people (even monastics) call Sariputta Tero and Moggallana Tero by name. They are called mother and father in the sāsana.

Sāriputta is just like the mother who gives birth.
Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, janetā, evaṃ sāriputto;
while Moggallāna is like the one who raises the child.
seyyathāpi jātassa āpādetā, evaṃ moggallāno.
(Saccavibhaṅga Sutta MN 141).

I saw some people call Mahakassapa Tero by name. He is the moon in this sāsana patipadā.

Kassapa approaches families like the moon:
Kassapo, bhikkhave, candūpamo kulāni upasaṅkamati (Candūpamā Sutta SN 16.3).

Then one of the most famous writers in the buddhist history, Buddhagosha Tero. People call him only by name. This is because of the scholary articles. I think we should reconsider this!

The Buddha adviced Ananda Tero how bhikkus should call eachother in pirinbbana mancaka.

Yathā kho panānanda, etarahi bhikkhū aññamaññaṃ āvusovādena samudācaranti, na kho mamaccayena evaṃ samudācaritabbaṃ. Theratarena, ānanda, bhikkhunā navakataro bhikkhu nāmena vā gottena vā āvusovādena vā samudācaritabbo. Navakatarena bhikkhunā therataro bhikkhu ‘Bhante’ti vā ‘Āyasmā’ti vā samudācaritabbo

After my passing, mendicants ought not address each other as ‘reverend’, as they do today. A more senior mendicant ought to address a more junior mendicant by name or clan, or by saying ‘reverend’. A more junior mendicant ought to address a more senior mendicant using ‘sir’ or ‘venerable’. (The Buddha’s Last Words DN16)

The question is about paying respect to the teachers from the past.

Related post…

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Or another suggestion, we call no one with a ‘respectful’ title. Not the monks from the past, nor the monks from the present, no ‘Doctor’, no ‘Maitre’, no ‘Her Majesty’, nothing. We just respect each person and each being for what they do and what they say rather than giving them (and you) a title because they are the son of someone or because they have a diploma from an institution or because a tradition say so.


Why to impose monastic rules on lay people? It’s a matter of the Sangha to regulate how monastics should address each other. I don’t think the Buddha complained about being called ‘samana Gotama’ by wanderers of other sects.

I hope this is still a forum open to devout Buddhists, monastics, secular Buddhists and researchers alike. In such an open forum I strongly suggest to keep honorary titles optional otherwise it turns even more into an echo chamber.


Did I impose ?
I am not imposing, just pointing out the facts.
This was just a suggestion. Upto you to decide.

I wont be bothered at all. Completely upto you

This was never about me (or something personal).

All ideas can be discussed, as long as the discussions involve EBTs and use right speech.
And there is no need for consensus :slightly_smiling_face: :pray:


Right, you suggested a change of the site ‘tradition’ - which I understood as an attempted imposition on users who see it differently.

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I kept the uncertainty there.

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Many cultures find it an affront to use the name of a revered person without an honorific. Those people from the more respectful cultures who use D&D might find it quite rude and vulgar that people here don’t show the respect they might expect.

But some people might think that there is a “normal” way of doing things… We can’t just pretend that D&D is devoid of a culture itself just because we are used to it, or suggest that it has the “right” way of doing things simply because it’s on the internet and is modern! Rather, it would seem to reflect the values of certain users, who might or might not be aware of issues of cultural sensitivity. Then others follow whatever is here, which in turn creates the site culture.

It seems pointless to try and educate everyone about different cultural issues or ask them to look at their own cultural biases. Certainly some people tend to take a rather colonial approach in diminishing traditional forms, all the while forgetting their own modern western bias, which is also cultural…

But those who wish to, might model the kind of form they like to see. At least others will see there is a variety of approaches.


Do we lays still at least pay respect to the Buddha our teacher whom we took refuge ? Scholars especially not buddhist and other non buddhist not in the list . The way I see eastern buddhist approach and the way of gratitude appear much more different from the western buddhist .


So I’m supposed to follow the bias of Asian cultures and crawl in the dust when I see a robe? It’s surely more neutral to let people express their respect if and how they like.

Again, I don’t understand how treating someone like a normal human being is disrespectful.

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There is a difference between litterateurs who study and analyze scriptures and texts and follwers or devotees of Buddhism who wanted to find the freedom from the samsara.
Should’nt we respect both?

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And I guess according to the monastics who expressed themselves so far we respect both by favoring one group… mmh

I know it sounds crazy, but I still think we can respect devotees and non-devotees by letting both express themselves as they are inclined.

Btw. the ‘follwers or devotees of Buddhism who wanted to find the freedom from the samsara’ are of course invited to express their devotion to the dhamma by addressing lay teachers also with 'venerable, ‘honorable’, ‘reverend’ etc.

But that would of course be insulting too, no?

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To Kimila

Kimila, there is the case where, when a Tathagata has become totally unbound, the monks, nuns, male lay followers, & female lay followers live without respect, without deference, for the Teacher; live without respect, without deference, for the Dhamma… the Sangha… the Training… concentration… heedfulness; live without respect, without deference, for hospitality. This is the cause, this is the reason why, when a Tathagata has become totally unbound, the true Dhamma does not last a long time


No-one is telling you what to do! :blush:

“crawl in the dust” feels a bit condescending and maybe reveals an attitude to different cultures, which I wss pointing to above, when people have a culturally superior approach.

I’m not sure if you’re referring to me here, but that is not my position at all. Just that we should be aware of different cultural approaches, and not think that there aren’t other forms in the world or that the way we see things isn’t a value judgement. Often we think we are being “value neutral” but we are really not. Neutrality isn’tn’t quite the same thing… and certainly from your comments it would seem that this is hardly a neutral issue for you.

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But if the forum guidelines were to change, then certainly someone would tell me what to do. Allow me not to wait for that. Things have a way of starting small…

I already repeatedly said that I’m positively for everyone expressing themselves as they wish.

But you’re right, the issue is not neutral for me. Am I supposed to be neutral regarding freedom vs non-freedom? I don’t feel insulted by people expressing their faith and devotion, and why would I? But apparently it is ‘disrespectful’, ‘culturally superior’, ‘vulgar’, and ‘colonial’ if I call someone by their name.

A more Asian attitude might be that a robe makes someone worthy of veneration (hence, ‘venerable’). I don’t think so. Obviously, I’m not into titles. But again, I strongly support the right for people to use the title if they wish. I find it weird that this position is still regarded as colonial and disrespectful.

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Maybe each approach has its own benefits. By paying respect to teachers we learn humility and show gratitude. We also learn to go beyond appearances by respecting what elders symbolize even if we know that their actions or views might not be necessarily accurate.

By not paying too much attention to titles, we learn to separate the message from the messenger and we give more authority to the truth rather than humans who happen to embody it.


I try to be respectful in my use of titles or names, as for me, it expresses my personal intent. I capitalize certain words, such as Dhamma, or Sangha (to reflect the respect for the Sangha, versus using it as a generic word for “community”). I also am careful about referring to monastics with their preferred personal prefix, as this as well expresses my own sense of an indication of respect and gratitude to these men and women that have gone forth and spend their lives teaching dummies like me :slight_smile: .

One aspect of Buddhist practice is the idea that our "rules’ are training rules. One may refer to monastics as they wish. The question becomes “what the intent is behind each person’s practice?”. If it is to show disrespect, or a sense of millenial hubris, or whatever might be the intention and psychology at work with each individual, that person is simply creating kamma, bright or not.

I live in Asia part of the year. I like the respect that Thai students show for teachers, as a part of culture. I like the idea that parents are deserving of respect, no matter how good or imperfect they may have been as parents. And, I like the idea that good monastics deserve our highest praise, for within this world we have these monastics as what LP Pasanno called an “archetype” for ethics, wisdom, and renunciation. This to me is deserving of great respect, considering the condition of the world today.


Great, that’s your way (which is to follow the ways of a local tradition). I also have respect and gratitude for monastics (as well as for lay supporters, loving parents, human rights activists, etc… anyone who try to do good in this world really!), I just express it differently, by being polite and supportive and listening to what they say and try to improve myself. But for you, this shows disrespect or hubris, this baffles me.

These titles and power games (not only in Theravada but other religions, science, politics, legal systems etc) create a situation of power imbalance that can create lots of damages and it dis-empowers people.

I’m not promoting a Western approach or an Eastern approach, I’m as critical of both! I’m much more interested by trying to find a way of living which is universal and respectful of every beings and life in general. In my human relationships I’m looking more and more for authenticity rather than compliance to superficial social norms. Having said that, I often fail and still feel obliged to use some traditional addresses when with monastics, I’m not as free a spirit as I’d like to be!

My suggestion above was a playful response to the OP, not a proposition to change things, anyone can do as they want.


IMO someone who goes forth from home to homelessness is not normal. The mere fact that he or she has gone forth reflect that they do not wish or expect respect from others provided they understand going forth in the strict sense of the word.

However, as a layman I would always personally address them with a respectful title.
With metta