What behaviour do you find inspiring or uninspiring in monastics? Click here to submit in the form below

To submit questions, please click: https://forms.gle/xbSQNToRFHbq6aey6 Tentatively open until 8th Dec.

My teacher has an idea to do a perception of recluses survey (Samanasaññā survey). It’s basically contains questions of the verbal and physical behaviour of monastics beyond the Vinaya to be seen as inspiring or uninspiring to lay people.


The Samanasaññā word comes from the sutta AN10.101 SuttaCentral

“Mendicants, when these three perceptions for ascetics are developed and cultivated theyfulfill seven things. What three? ‘I have secured freedom from class.’ ‘My livelihood is tiedup with others.’ ‘My behavior should be different.’ When these three perceptions forascetics are developed and cultivated they fulfill seven things.

What seven? Their deeds and behaviour are always consistent with the precepts. They’re content, kind-hearted, and humble. They want to train. They use the necessities of life after reflecting on their purpose. They’re energetic. When those three perceptions for ascetics are developed and cultivated they fulfil these seven things.”

We are using the term in a different way as explained below.The Buddha often lay down Vinaya rules in response to criticism by lay people of some uninspiring behaviour of some monastics. Now that the Buddha is no longer alive, and thus the Vinaya is not going to be expended due to new technologies, situations etc. There’s plenty of areas beyond the Vinaya which are sort of encouraged or enforced by different monastic communities. I call these extra Vinaya. Since they are technically not in the Vinaya, these extra Vinaya rules or behaviours cannot land monastic in offences, except as a direct disrespect not obeying the teacher’s request. And it can cause disharmony for monastics who doesn’t want to follow the local communities standards.

There’s a few things to take in account doctrine wise: SuttaCentral

I will lay down a training rule for the following ten reasons: for the well-being of the Sangha, for the comfort of the Sangha, for the restraint of bad people, for the ease of well-behaved monks, for the restraint of corruptions relating to the present life, for the restraint of corruptions relating to future lives, to give rise to confidence in those without it, to increase the confidence of those who have it, for the longevity of the true Teaching, and for supporting the training.

The confidence part I worded it as inspiring vs uninspiring.

“Good, Upasena. One should not lay down new rules, nor should one get rid of the existing ones. One should practice and undertake the training rules as they are.

So these extra Vinaya questions cannot be enforced onto any monastics as new rules, but just for the sake of knowledge of monastics to be able to see what’s the public’s perception of what’s appropriate for monastics and what’s less appropriate. This also includes monastics’ perception towards other monastics, so you can suggest more survey questions as well.

The google form below is not the survey. I am just gathering the questions for now. Hopefully the real survey will not have too many questions, but still, I am gathering them and sorting them based on repetition etc. You can suggest up to 3 questions, if you wish to suggest more, fill up the form again after submitting it. Please word your questions clearly or leave your contact should you wish for me to be able to contact you to clarify your questions.

These questions should be extra Vinaya, so if anything is already covered by the Vinaya, it’ll not be in the survey. SuttaCentral Do read the Vinaya should you wish to know if your question is already covered by the Vinaya. Or try your luck, I wouldn’t select the ones already covered by the Vinaya.

When wording your questions, please use the gender neutral term: monastics including Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Samanera, Samaneri, Sikkhamana. For the purpose of the survey, we will only focus on Theravada monastics. Using money and eating dinner are clearly against the Vinaya, and thus are not considered a suitable question for this survey on extra Vinaya.

Example of questions:

  1. A vegan monastic.
  2. Monastics saying “Jesus Christ” as a strong expression of disbelief, dismay, awe,disappointment, pain, etc.
  3. Monastics giving nicknames to fellow monastics. Eg. Ven. Noodles (to monks who eat instant noodles), Ven. Tea (for monks who likes to drink tea).
  4. Monastics who tell jokes as part of a Dhamma Talk.
  5. Monastics driving a car. (Vinaya border questions are allowed, where different communities may interpret the rules differently.)

In the real survey, there’ll be 5 multiple choice options for each questions as follows.

  • Very inspiring
  • Inspiring
  • Neutral
  • Uninspiring
  • Very uninspiring

To submit questions, please click: https://forms.gle/xbSQNToRFHbq6aey6 Tentatively open until 8th Dec.


One possible limitation here is that a lot of these things are not inspiring or uninspiring themselves, but it’s how they’re done that matters. Like if you take the example of monastics telling jokes, I couldn’t categorise it within the options given. It depends on so much. If it’s Ajahn Brahm, then it’s very inspiring. If it’s a junior monastic who seems to be after social validation, then maybe not so much. So I wonder how useful the results could be for determining public perception…

If you wish to put in more details to refine the thing, then can put them in the form.

Eg. Monastics who uses social media.

That one I find it’s too vague, and lumps all the social media together. I would split them into.

Monastics who uses facebook. (For Buddhist pages, monasteries, dhamma talks, Dhamma groups etc).

Monastics who uses tiktok/dou yin. (For mindless scrolling through videos, seeing face racial change via AI, etc).

Monastics who uses reddit (helping to answer questions in r/Buddhism).


One suggestion I got for split of the joke thing is:

telling jokes that have nothing to do with Dhamma. Possibly even lying to pull people along.
pointing out humorous things about samsara/defilements in order to engage people in the talk

Add in details as you like to make the different behaviours clear in context.

PS. also, to be fair, your reply indicates that there is bias amongst monastics already inherent, you’re not judging by behaviour but by person.

Let me contribute something as a political science undergrad.
At this stage of your research, unless you are only looking for people‘s opinions of very specific behavior, not for their opinions of what constitutes inspiring or uninspiring behavior in monastics generally, I would advise against questionnaires.
Standard procedure in these cases is to start with open-question interviews and a small sample size. That‘s because starting off with a checkbox survey would necessarily narrow the available choices, possibly to a point where your data gets skewed because you didn‘t even think of the items most important to some people. If you ask open questions, on the other hand, your respondents might surprise you. (Since you probably aren’t conducting strictly formal research, a thread asking „What behavior do you find inspiring in monastics? What do you find uninspiring?“ on the major Theravada online forums would probably be enough.) If, after extracting the most important points from these interviews, you want representative data, that would be the time for a questionnaire distributed to a lot of people.
If you‘re unconvinced, I‘d still advise to do a semi-open questionnaire with space to include points not listed in the items section.


I think that’s what this link to the google form is. It’s not the real survey where people do the inspiration rating. https://forms.gle/xbSQNToRFHbq6aey6

It’s to ask for contributions of questions. Sort of a mass open question interview? Haha.

Cool, I got some instinct for this, despite not having studied political science as an undergrad.

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Yes, exactly. Just because someone is a senior monastic doesn’t at all mean that they are immune to seeking validation. One of the big problems in organized religions is that the leaders often get a pass on things, i.e. something that would normally be considered bad, but because they are So and So Famous Bhante then it’s not bad.


Oh yeah, you‘re right, asking for survey questions would probably fulfill the open question stage in a somewhat roundabout way.
One more suggestion, though. The more text people have to read, the fewer answers you‘ll get. This is a sad reality of social research. I‘d scratch the sutta quotes altogether and just ask for inspiring and uninspiring behavior in monastics. Also, I‘d change the thread‘s title to include the question itself instead of a call for survey questions.


Well, it’s quite ok, I got a lot of questions already before this, and I don’t want the actual survey to be too long anyway.

So far 3 person replied, 8 questions in. Is the edited title ok?

To maximize the likelihood for responses, I‘d change it to something like „What behavior do you find inspiring or uninspiring in monastics?“. But if you already have enough respondents, I certainly wouldn‘t want to keep on about that.

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As a contribution, here‘s one of my gripes I find hard to put into a succinct question:
I find monastics who give very basic talks, heavy on generalizations, stories, and humor, but light on suttas and hands-on examples, especially of grey area situations, very uninspiring. That usually gives me the impression that the speakers are either patronizing the audience, are unwilling to address hard questions, or don‘t have anything to say that couldn‘t be summarized with one of those snappy Dalai Lama quote calendars you can find at the bookstore, and it feels like a waste of time. I barely want to watch or attend general-interest Dhamma talks anymore because of that :frowning:


More than anything, feeling like they understand the mind set of a person off the street, lay people.

At one time I did a deep dive and listened to all of the recordings of old Ajahn Brahm talks. In one of those he said he chose the order he did because the monks looked happy. I’ve seen many pictures of monks who look miserable and my first automatic thought is that “I don’t want any part of that”.

I am not inclined to listen to talks by monastics that speak very softly at very low volumes, and worse, with a monotone. It is too much work to listen to them when there are other choices. Especially if you add an accent to speaking very softly at a low volume.

No disrespect meant to anyone. Just answering Bhante’s question.

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On a more positive note, I find monastics who go into detail on the finer parts of practice on and off cushion, talk about its darker aspects, and share experiences of struggle and suffering, very inspiring. Gives me a sense of „this is doable for real people (maybe even as defective as I am), not just the saintly figures in the suttas“. Well, not entirely saintly. While the suttas do tell of extreme transformations, they can just be a tad light on the nitty-gritty.



  • Talks that don’t balance urgency and encouragement
  • Emphasis on mitigation of circumstances, rather than of craving, as the solution for suffering


  • Not afraid to talk plainly about uncertainty
  • Don’t coddle the listener
  • Give practical advice and have clear and consistent standards

For balance, this is what I find uninspiring about lay people:

  • Encouraging others to tone down their expectations for success
  • Unnecessarily celebratory
  • Treat Dhamma as a hobby or game

Uninspiring about myself:

  • Stay up too late
  • Not moderate enough in eating
  • Too much screen time
  • Currently off-topic :upside_down_face:

Interesting. I would anticipate different views depending on school, culture, role, and practice. View can be further influenced by the latter. Some practitioners may prefer monastics who are judgmental whereas others may consider this unskillful. I would anticipate the school/practice, gender, location, age, etc., of the person filling out the survey may provide a useful field/filter for compiling themes. Mindfulness instructions prior to completing the survey may be useful.


Seconding the school, practice, gender, location, age idea, that would probably yield very instructive results.
Could you elaborate on the usefulness of mindfulness instructions?

@NgXinZhao, in order to analyze your data and visualize the results, I‘d recommend you get acquainted with R (and the IDE R Studio, both free). It can look daunting if you haven‘t done any coding, but actually it‘s pretty easy to pick up.

Many survey tools already provide dashboards. Tableau and excel are simple enough if needed. I’m not sure if the dataset would be large enough to require R, of if its purpose of implementation would justify learning new software.

Re mindfulness
Surveys often come with instructions on how to complete them skillfully…lol
The filters could help explicate bias, but its always helpful for participants to do this as well on their own. I’m generally uninspired by many things that have nothing to do with the dharma, for example. My practice is also different than others. These influencing my answers may or may not be useful depending on the purpose of the survey.

Noting, software will be unable to help with statistical analysis for open ended questions. The survey team will have to code the answers into themes and run those statistics independently.

Yes, I‘m aware of that. I was under the impression that Bhante was going to go with the quantitative survey after collecting questions as he had originally planned, without doing interviews that would need coding.

Quantitative surveys are simpler but yield fewer insights. That said, quantitative surveys are also more actionable, if that is the mandate. I assume the google form will solicit open ended questions as well as closed/quantitative. Quantifying the former is a bit of work. Reviewing the questions and wording to correct bias or imprecise/confusing terminology is suggested. The amount of rigor applied to the survey will depend on the mandate. If the results are merely philosophical and not actionable than less rigor is required.

If you wish to submit any open ended question, please do so in the link below.

I reply this in public for the information of others, as well,

@anon18624217 you have submitted 9 suggestions so far, in unsuitable format.

Do read the OP.

questions of the verbal and physical behaviour of monastics beyond the Vinaya

Example of survey question

Monastics driving a car.

Ok maybe my terminology is bad, it’s not technically a question, but the question should be read as:

Is monastic driving a car inspiring or not?

  • Very inspiring
  • Inspiring
  • Neutral
  • Uninspiring
  • Very uninspiring

So please format your survey question suggestion as that. Most of your question is on views, which is mental, which cannot be seen as verbal or physical behaviour and your wording of “do you believe…” cannot be easily translated by me into behaviour format.

PS. I see my mistake now. I think you’re trying to submit questions for me to put on the survey for the public to answer open ended. And I explicitly gave you the permission earlier. Ok, thank you.

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