Saturday, July 2, 2011

Devadatta Sangha I

I got a very interesting forwarded letter written by an interesting person called U Bandhu whom I don't know personally. I just polished some crude sentences and corrected a few misspelled Pali-names of his letter. Please do read the web link provided to understand the background contexts of the arguments lined out by the original writer.

I also intend to write my own critical analysis on the topic of separation of church and state as well as the absolute need of separation of any opportunist and state at a later time. The opportunistic person will claim he is honestly fighting for opportunityless Burmese people and democracy; for this reason, he badly needs to collaborate with this bad government for getting some opportunity.

To me, the logical contradiction of underscored words is enough to recognize that this kind of claim is not by any means psychologically honest. In psychological analysis perspective, this kind of position that "I am forced to associate with the bad people" is always associated with masochism and sadism which are both human (animal) instincts of ego. In Dhamma terms, Buddha collectively called these instincts of ours as dosa (fear and anger). A person with dosa is never morally honest, that Buddha explained to us as dosa-gatti (corruption from fear).

As for empirical evidence, bad association of opportunistic ethnic arm groups and this evil Burmese military government has already proved well enough in inflicting our society with many problems and agony at current time. I strongly feel that we should have some erudite tome of verification to stop this kind of opportunism and moral relativism which will certainly and easily misguide our people and our young generation into spoilt attitude of absolute moral debridement and shameless resignation just for filling one's belly with a piece of bread or cake in a completely wrong direction of bad company.

Let us keep reminding ourselves: before claiming the big term social justice, one should always check whether his act is moral enough himself to avoid degradation of the legitimate right of a single innocent person or whether he is still too much ignorant and illusory to know what makes justice and what makes not. There is always injustice even when one just stands in line with the bad and powerful people because this standing essentially means you are certainly selfish too much to stand in line equally with the suffering powerless for equal struggle and hardship alike. Mechanically, you are also poised ready to use any scrap of power abuse of the powerful ill people upon any member of the powerless.

Some may probably be curious whether power asymmetry can be lessened by releasing some lay people into the military-dominated parliament. If we correctly understand the psychological basis of the civilian parliament men, we can rightly conclude that there will be more bouts of sadism evolving one way or another rather than slackening of the totalitarian authority. This can also be called decentralization of tyranny from a few detached power scraps abused by these masochists and sadists who delusively think themselves as fighters for democracy and social justice. The biggest problem of we ignorant human is that one doesn't realize oneself but still thinks he knows or can know all others. A sad truth of Burmese democracy opera!

Thank you, Ko De Wall. I am glad that you were kindly aware of my usage of Buddhism (a trend) as a gender protagonist rather than Buddha (a person). Here is the sad story of Saccavadi abused terribly by her own country's monks in a so-called religious society.

Well, before arguing this abuse was legitimate in its institutional authority sense, let me give a very clear example in functional sense at Buddha's time. One Bhikkhuni was banished from Devadatta's Sangha society because she was found pregnant. Buddha formed a committee led by Migara's mother (Visakha) to investigate whether her pregnancy was committed by a post-ordination intercourse. The Bhikkhuni was affirmed of her purity of Sila and accepted in Gautama's Sangha society to retain her status as a venerable Sangha. Even with the undeniable sight of a big belly observed in a woman, Buddha's Sangha society was simply (and functionally) objecting that Devadatta's Sangha society had no such blatant right to blame a religious woman as guilty and stupid.

What kind of evidence Burmese Sangha-Nayaka could have to say this Bhikkhuni was guilty and stupid? We can simply observe even in the functional procedure (which might be the easiest to be followed rather than abstract conceptual levels of Buddha's thought), Burmese Sangha-Nayaka was/is far away from what Buddha had really wanted their Sangha to behave.

Let us see the conceptual level at this moment. If Bhikkhuni ordination is to be denied by "All-Equal" at conceptual and spiritual level knowledge of Buddhist society, there can be only one excuse remaining that it is for the benefits in practical matters lest some harm will rise by quoting what Buddha had said (at least in Tripitaka) that the Sarsana will be shortened to 500 years if the allowance for ordination of Bhikkhunis were continued. Sarsana has been now more than 2,500 years and what is the reason for holding this so called Buddha's prophecy of Tripitiaka as valid?

In my view, many futuristic projections described in Tripitaka should be examined carefully because Buddha was very clear in rejecting futurism and had a very big inclination to minimize any talk about the future. In fact, that rejection of futurism was the most distinct character of Buddhism from any kind of religion and even any kind of worship, can you agree? Buddha clearly described how malicious is futurism to any individual; as I argued previously, "let stop and see here, don't think there is or there is not".

Concerning the institutional level authority, "any Sangha Raja or Sangha Nayaka" 's authority is illegitimate in the final words of Buddha from Maha-parinibbana Sutra, " (1)monks must respect each other according to seniority of monkhood (2) Dhamma is your only
teacher (3) be a lamp onto yourself . Therefore, almost all the governmental Sangha institutions or their authority in Thailand or Burma (I don't know much about Sri Lanka, but perhaps similar) are invalid in the real Theravada Buddhist tradition. A paradox indeed but an inconvenient truth to us.

The so-called Theravada will probably argue there was an official record that Buddha handed Sarsana to Ven. Maha Kassapa. I will simply argue Buddha, as a Buddha, never said such inconsistent words. If the three sayings were legitimate, then this claim of delegation had never ever been said by Buddha. Anybody can simply sense which words make sense as real Buddhism and real Buddhist practice. Even in canonical doctrines, there was not any significant contribution from Ven. Maha Kassapa except that he was acting as "the King of Sanghas" in the first Buddhist Council. I am not sure whether an Arhat (Saint) like Ven. Maha Kussapa would accept that "Raja of Sanghas " entitlement to him. All Buddhist Arhats should be not less than Jefferson who was annoyed at some guest calling him "Mr". Jefferson. It will be as foolish enough to be called "Royal Nation's Big Tamata U Thein Sein":-).

This essentially means at the real original Buddha's founding of Sangha, any separation from "Great Primary Sangha" is invalid and could be sued as Devadatta's crime of division of Sangha (Sangha-beda Karma) ; even philosophically-separated Burmese Shwe Gyin or Su-Dhamma or Sri Lanka's Abhayagiri Vihāra monastic societies should revise whether their institutions were committing Devadatta's acts by holding their separate identities; obviously founding State Sangha-Nayaka society, which was an economically separate association from Great Sangha, was surely red-handed committing that Devadatta's crime in association with Ajatasattu's gang Burmese government. "Bad association" was that very stupid behavior that Buddha took on seriously ( No.1 stanza in Mingala Sutra, see how important it is to our country, see how opportunists, cronies and this gang government are associating to crush Aung San Su Kyi and the old men).

Let me continue to say my comment on eight Garudhammas. I think it might be true that Buddha imposed these eight heavy rules on women for ordination. However, let us take a note that he never had said that women were inferior to men nor men were superior to women. The "Sangha" status after ordination was equal except that the Bhikkhunis should not blame male monks. Just for inhibiting very, very few actions, we can't say that Buddha is a sexist as most people will be inclined think so immediately. Here, we can safely say the prohibitions very very few even if their intensity was very strict. Buddha only said, "don't blame" but he didn't say "don't describe","don't defend ", "don't discuss" and "don't argue" .

As we know, "blame" is always a judgment even the male monks shall even not do on each other. The matter might be that Pajapati Gotami as a Queen and her 500 followers who were the princesses, as the royal aristocrats, could probably be very judgmental in their mundane attitudes. Buddha's Sangha men at that time could be full of the poor, the servants, the beggars, the criminals and many chaotic people from the low strata from society. So he just wanted to remove the royal glasses of the princesses by bureaucratic mechanism at a single shot, which might also encourage critical thinking of the Bhikkhunis.

Perhaps, Buddha might think women are more judgmental than men, I wish there is a research on this matter to prove it as true: -). Well at least in my observations, as you know in Burma, there are very few men to attend a handsome monk's preaching and such preaching place was always brimming with women audience. It seemed to me that at least they have more positive judgment on the handsome male monks than we guys, aha!


U Bandhu


Anonymous said...

makes sense.You fight bad guys only because you do not have any opportunity.Now and then you get big opportunity and reward from bad guys, why should these Congressmen bother to fight? Chocolate makes a barking dog grovel to the thief.

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Paul Riya said...

I think it is ok for sangas to disagree on what percepts to be followed or what views they are to hold for Buddha's teachings. I mean they will remain as sangas however they are different in practices or philosophies.In the story of Devadat, until his ex-communication from sangas' community that happened after his conflict with Buddha about sanctioning five dhuta practices, he was allowed to be remaining as a respectable Buddhist monk. Buddha clarified only that whatever Devadat continued to do was his own responsibility and not sanghas' responsibility.

MG said...

Thanks to Paul for his thoughtful comment. It is noteworthy to know that even after Devadatta's philosophy split from Buddha's thought in precepts of Sangha, Buddha didn't denigrate him as an evil monk violating Sangha's Order. Even after he spread the idea of five Dhutas (may be four dhutas + plus avoiding eating meat) as more credible practices to the general public,he just decreed that whatever Devadata's did was an individual Sangha's responsibility and not the authority of the Communal Great Sangha, but Buddha did retain that Devadatta was still a venerable Sangha.

Therefore,at that point we can learn Buddha's idea from the Canonical story and safely affirm that the philosophy split in the way of percepts and practice of Sangha is not the Sanga-Veda Crime as opposite to the object in Burmakin's post. The last saying of Buddha that minor rules of Vinaya can be adjusted also authorized that individual Sanghas can feel free to practice the variations in percepts according to his contexts and situations as long as he will not take the advantage of Buddha's permission of flexibility in leading to self-aggrandizement. In terms of ultimate Buddha's authority, we can safely conclude that any individual separation of philosophy or precept from conventional practices of the majority of Sangha didn't demote this individual Sangha from the status of a religious and venerable person and the fame of Buddha's son.


Paul Riya said...

Some sources indicate Devadat was not a villain as described by some scriptures.He was just a saint who loved forest dwelling tradition and was just curious whether Buddha could also ask his sangas to follow this tradition. These sources indicate forest dwelling Devadat outlived Buddha.

Anonymous said...

Because they have bad minds they associate bad people.