Why do some monks "fight" or " disrespect" other monks?

I have noticed some tension between monstic people and i wonder where the respect for each other went? Should not all buddhists respect each other and try to learn from each others?

We are all on different wisdom level and will experience and understand dhamma on different level of wisdom, but do we really need to use bad language toward each others?

i would think monastics would try to go forth as good example of how we should conduct our self in our cultivation.


There is some tension even in the Pali suttas themselves! There were even cases when the Buddha himself was disrespected. But, I’d suggest you study how these tensions were dealt with back then. How did the Buddha himself handle great disrespect? What were the standards of respect in their arguments?

Then, I think you have to see there are two meanings of a lot of things. There are monks in name and there are monks at heart. Some monks at heart don’t wear robes at all… I’d consider this.


I do agree with your words here Dhammadharo.
To handle critique can be done in two way, to look at the critique then look at one self and see if the critique was rightfully done toward one self, or secondly if the critique was not rightfully added one should just smile and think no more about it. No need to rise any anger or frustration because someone disagree :slight_smile:


Another point I’d add: Was it easier in the Buddha’s time to lead a life of renunciation? Are there more causes and conditions for “sticky” defilement today than there were in the past? I think in some ways life is patently more complicated now, certainly at a mental-emotional level. Our society seems to be breaking people at this level more intensely than it did in the past. But the Buddha’s time was filled with its own dangers, some natural, some human, some military, etc. So, it could be that the monks of today have a more difficult path with less organic dhamma in their environment, if you get my meaning. This is just a theory that has occurred to me recently. Perhaps there’s truth in it.


Yes, again i agree with you, there was difficulty at the time of Buddha too ofcourse, but if we look close at how many live today, there is less focus on living a higher spiritual life the at Buddhas time, and there is more immorality today.
I have not ordained as a monk so i can not directly speak for how that part of life is, but in my own practice i have pulled back from society and have very little contact with it, so i do notice when i do come in contact with those who do or focus on cultivation that there is a lot of misunderstandig and lack of compassion in todays world.


So (and after this comment I have to get up and do some things IRL), you could consider being a monk at heart to those monks who are fighting. See the causes and conditions around them that create a mind that fights, that disrespects, that causes tension, sows seeds of problems. Of course, you can’t go around acting like a monk or acting like you have authority when you don’t. But in your heart, dependent origination is supposed to produce compassion, since you’re seeing interconnection of phenomena, not the fixed self of a “bad” monk. Get it? Any such monk could turn out to be a wonderful teacher of dhamma after a process of purification.


My OP was not meant to be a critique or harm toward any monatic person, and i respect every person who do ordain, and yes any monk can become a very good teacher with the right training and right compassion :slight_smile:

The effort any cultivator of dhamma lay down is in it self is something anyone should look up to, because it is not an easy lifestyle to be a monk or a idependent cultivator.


No worries here. We’re all learning.




My answer to the OP would be “because they are human beings like us.”

We could expect every mendicant to be literally a saint, but we could also get disappointed quickly.


Yes, but there are some common degrees of Right speech, one would take as a given, especially in a Public forum such as this, and only reflects on the training of that monk or nun.


So far the respondents have agreed on the principle, but no-one has really considered why it is that monastics in particular argue.

To start with, let’s remember AN 2.47: householders argue about sensual pleasures, while ascetics argue about views.

So why argue about views? Well, think about the phenomenon of the newly converted. Those who have given up smoking can’t stop talking about it. Fresh vegans want the world to know. As a general rule: someone who has recently reached a new insight or stage of development will feel the need to defend and argue for that stage.

What is happening is, of course, that they are still in doubt and insecure, and need to argue to convince themselves. As time goes on, and their new insight, way of life, or viewpoint becomes second nature, they quiet down, and learn to speak of it when the time is right. How long this takes can vary: a day? A lifetime? But as a general rule, if someone is excessively evangelical and dogmatic about a view, it is a sign of immaturity, of an inner insecurity.

One might expect that in a monastic setting this would be fairly quickly overcome. By reflecting on one’s own changes and the anger that arises from argument, it is not hard to learn to restrain yourself when the conversation becomes unbeneficial.

The problem here is that personal monastic development can unfortunately be undercut by the wider monastic culture. Put shortly: in traditional Buddhist cultures, there has come to be such a cult of deference to monks that we easily fall into conceit and dogmatism, and there is no-one to help us get past it.

The insecurity we have around our views becomes hardened and brittle, especially when we perceive ourselves as the embattled custodians of the One True Teaching, valiantly striving against the tides of the world. We forget how to have actual conversations with people, the give and take, ebb and flow of human relations. Every word becomes a sermon. And so little by little we lose the ability to listen, to hear the wisdom of others, to learn from them, to share in their pain and sorrow. And we forget the humility it takes to have a rational disagreement, to reasonably express different viewpoints while grounding oneself on logic and facts, not losing sight of empathy with those one speaks with.

Because this problem is essentially a social one, it is often untouched by meditation. Indeed, meditation, if done in an unbalanced way, can reinforce the sense of isolation and alienation.

The good news is that the solution is not difficult: get out there and talk to people. Have some conversations with people of different backgrounds. Take an interest in how they think, what matters to them. Don’t preach at them or try to convert them: have empathy, feel their pain. We see the Buddha doing this all the time in the suttas: it is one of the main reasons I try to emphasize reading the suttas themselves, rather than summaries or guides.

For junior monastics, even if most of your time is dedicated to solitude, don’t forget to develop this empathy. In the five years of nissaya, much of your monastic character will be formed. Take the opportunity to listen when the senior monastic is speaking with lay people. See how they interact with different people in different contexts. Take the opportunity to learn, and recognize when dismissiveness and negativity rears its head. Your defensiveness is only your insecurity. Be thankful when you’re wrong and someone has the heart to tell you. It won’t be long before no-one corrects you, and by then it’ll be too late.

Don’t shy away from conversations where you have a reasonable disagreement. It’s important for senior monastics to model rational disagreement. It’s why I am happy to say when I disagree with something that Ajahn Brahm or Ajahn Brahmali says, or some other senior monastic. Because I know that I can disagree with them and we can have a useful conversation about it.

At the same time, learn to recognize when a conversation is not going to be useful. With few exceptions, an internet forum is not somewhere that major personal growth is going to happen. If you’re trying to have a conversation and it just isn’t working, leave it. It’s okay, we don’t have to resolve everything today.



Where can I get this framed?!


@sujato Thank you for your answer bhante, you have great wisdom within you.

1 Like

… another way to look at it is to recognise conflict as natural, and moreover, necessary and beneficial, and especially if the aging leader of the pack, who’s begun to lose his eyesight and general vigour of alertness and sound judgement, is still acting like an alpha-male! If this aging creature, who is only few steps away from death and the decomposition of body and vanishing of mind that follows death, is not replaced by another who is younger and fresher, shrewder, with better sight, alertness, and judgement, who is capable of exploring the environment to a further extent, and providing better guidance for the members of the pack – then there will be no survival for that pack, it will perish or live only in very deplorable conditions.

Had it been that the aging alpha-male could find in himself the humility with which to swallow his pride and withdraw in peace, the story would have been different; he would have been even venerated for it. But almost always, it takes a battle, and the aging leader must taste of a gruesome defeat before he could withdraw, never to return. You know why it takes a battle? Because without one, there is no proof of the power and worthiness of the new leader. The aging alpha must hold on to his position with the maximum ferocity that he could muster, so that only the most powerful of the emerging youth, and not just any one, can dare to challenge him and effectively defeat him and take his place. It should take a battle and a defeat: a powerful and dramatic pictureof the cruelty of Nature!

But even chimps have the sensitivity of heart with which to recognise that the vain and grumpy defeated aging alpha is still worthy of respect and veneration, because of all the services that he’s offered them throughout its long life. He’s still regarded with respect, and all others, who have witnessed his humiliating defeat, offer him only compassion and respect, even tenderness and kindness. But because they sincerely and purposefully want to survive and not perish, in the best possible conditions and least suffering; they themselves know better than to entertain his obsessive longing and yearning, to be again, and forever, their leader. That’s why they do not object, nor feel ill, when he’s being severely punished by the new youthful force, each time he expresses his obsessive habit to rule and dominate in the slightest!

Thus goes on life, ever renewed, ever regenerated, never stopping for anyone’s pride or greatness. But the story is easier for the chimp because, of all its sophistication and sensitivity, it is free from the high-powered imagination through which a grosser form of moha or delusion prevents human from accepting nature, and makes him thinks himself beyond all that! Thus it is only a human, but no chimp, that is capable of venerating one who may be offering disservice rather than service, and suffering rather than liberation therefrom, while fiercely fighting at the same time another who is far more gifted and able in the task of leading them. That’s why it’s hard to lead and be right at the same time! That’s why the world of human is far more decadent and miserly than that of the animal; that’s why it is far more violent and cruel than that of the animal. The rare exceptions have been only and strictly, transcendental; that is, they have only proved the rule: Not only Nature that must be transcended, but also, Human. Sadhu!

1 Like

No no no! I’m not saying they must or should fight, I’m only stating that they do and will, especially when they’re unable to transcend the display of power and dominance in their interactions, which is difficult, because such transcendence requires them to be aware of these impulses in themselves in the first place. Harder than empathy towards others is self awareness regarding the filth that piles up layer after another within one’s own heart! Certitude alone can be a form of power-display in a conversation with another, but the uncultivated is incapable of discerning such a subtle thing. it’s perhaps another way in which the absence of empathy manifests!

Anyways, let alone subtle things, for nothing should be lamented more than the absence of fighting, when the display is not only of dominance, but even that of shameless and blatant arrogance and belligerence, that is readily recognisable to all who care to see it, and that is met by no resistance, but only the sensational cheering of a deluded and oblivious crowd. Alas!

1 Like

Howling the 3 sadhus… :joy: Thank you!:pray:t4:


What is we looked at suffering that way? Is conflict not suffering?


Not if you recognise it as an inescapable event of nature, rather than a personal one. As such it is not conflict itself that is suffering, but either fear of or obsession with regard to it. In the case of fear you are perpetually escaping from something that it unavoidable, from life itself i dare say. In the case of obsession you never get enough of it, a most dangerous path.

The Stoics would say: fight when you must, win when you win, and lose when you lose, without emotion, without preference. Bliss comes from dispassion with regard to the outcome of all experience, not the preference of some experience.

It is just like when it starts raining heavily and you have nothing to cover your body with. What can you do other than wait for the experience to end on its own accord? A conflict which arrives in a similar fashion, is to be accepted with similar indifference. To you it is no longer a rain or a conflict, but only, ‘that experience’!. Yes you are in what the naïve call a fight, and against which they utter lofty moral pronouncements, but to you it is no longer even fighting, for at this point your action is arising from principle, not desire. You are not motivated by cruelty or harmful intentions, you are only responding appropriately according to nature. Not any ultimate nature, but your nature. It’s not up to you anymore.

Bliss is when you have no more choice, when your actions are no longer intentional. This is basically the argument behind sankhāra=kamma or volition.

1 Like