Saturday, 10 July 2010

Wrath to critiques of the tradition & whining

We just need a community where we can practice.... we then read of all the injustices that people have been subjected to. Whats is the conclusion? Is any of it valid or is it simply nature talking its course..the modern symptom of how people find it hard to live together even with one person let alone 20-100 people
In Tibet the monasteries had 10,000+ monks yet we cannot even hold together 2 people how can we create monasteries if we have such a low degree of stamina for the company of others as well as such a low level of ability to develop & maintain a good relationship with one person.. In modern society greed takes precedent over compromise, basic etiquette & consideration are at an all time low as the ego soars off into a hedonistic bubble oblivious to the people around it. Also we have no idea of how to do things with wisdom. So we write to an agony aunt or watch a chat show trying to understand relationships and how to make them work. Why do we have no clue? Because the people who dealt with these same issues century after century and built a great wealth of experience never got to pass on their knowledge to the current generation. Their advice was ignored & they died. Now there is no one to ask why the world is this way and how to make good relations within a group or between two people as well as how to mend them. No we didn't like them asking us to be polite & civil & behave well so we chose to see the elders of our communities as unmodernisable irrelevant dinosaurs. Now we enjoy the modern world we have created where the newspapers are nothing but rude & nasty character assassination soap operas and we cant even provide a child with a mum & dad. We cry if our economy has a few problems so we cant jet off to sunny Spain. We are so weak & spoilt. If 10,000 of us lived together it would be a disaster. Isn't it any wonder we all have to live in separate houses so we avoid all the problems of human interactions that would come if we shared houses.
And with the internet now & people becoming increasingly isolated our social skills will degenerate even more. We are learning the crude way of talking nastily to each other in chatrooms & applying it offline and the children don't even go out to play anymore with friends. They sit alone in front of their computer all evening & weekend.
So when this next generation who have been raised in cyberspace try to live in a Dharma centre will it be a harmonious community? If there is a small disagreement that people 100s of years ago would have ironed out in an instant will it escalate & escalate as people show more lack of understanding of how to resolve/heal a difficult social situation? I think so.................
In a traditional monastery like Nalanda there was none of the comforts we have. No nice lie in till 9am they would have been up at 6am or even 4am. As a group they would have all attended the entire schedule of pray study mediation and worked between sessions. How much say do you think they would have had over personal freedom. They would have lived in tiny rooms or a dormitory with little or no privacy. Their entire days schedule organised for them & set out. Anything not correctly done would have brought sharp words from senior monks. Tellings off would have been frequent.
Compared to a traditional monastery our freedoms are astounding. We can date & get married as lay people & live within the community. We have as much privacy as we want in our own comfortable accommodations. We are served food of a quality that not even the Kings of Tibet got let alone the abbot of a monastery. We can sit around most evenings chatting and we rarely if ever get told off for anything. One can miss 75% of prayer sessions without any scolding. All we commit to is 10 hours work a week & attending 1 class. People say cuss works, discuss music, television etc and it is all accepted because we are too weak to handle any austerity. If we were told off even once we would be so bruised we might even move out we are so fragile.
We complain saying the community is controlling and that this causes psychological damage. Then years later we are still lingering around warning people of the way someone attempted to control us & take away our freedoms or criticised us as well as how dangerously damaging this is...perhaps if children all started complaining they were damaged by their parents controlling then parenting would become ridiculed, taken apart piece by piece & ultimately abandoned as a damaging exercise . Oh wait this is already happening!
Our society has a huge problem with discipline & control. Yet we all say we admire Tibetans. Why do we admire a culture that is so austere and where good behaviour is insisted upon with sharp words and there is no freedom to 'be oneself'. Then we dissect this very lifestyle we claim to admire after trying it for a short period claiming it to be fanatical, manipulative, controlling, oppressive and mentally damaging. Yet we still would claim to respect Tibetans after we have destroyed all credibility for their way of life.
If we spend years claiming that the things that are taught in traditional Buddhist texts and the behaviours of ancient monastics are the modern definition of cultish what are we doing?
Quite simply we are saying that we want to edit the traditional instructions just as we edited the parenting techniques of our forefathers. Those who claim that to see a teacher as an emanation of a deity is creating a cult which will be psychologically damaging, are in effect saying to the general not view the teacher as a Buddha. This is asking people not to practice Buddhism & saying that all Buddhists who do this are subject to manipulation. What I am saying is NKT critiques are undermining the entire Buddhist path. They need to state clearly a case that addresses the core of the problem without undermining the traditional way of life. The controlling teachers, the discipline, these are traditional and if western people cannot handle this its a bigger problem. Because western people will conclude that any religion that teaches you to see a human as a deity with clairvoyance or where you prostrate before a human is a cult. They will also conclude that if you are subject to any monastic regime you are in a cult, a controlling group that takes away your freedoms & subjects you to austerities without you having the freedom to opt out of community life whilst staying in the monastery. So my question is are monasteries actually plausible in these modern times?

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