the New Yorker has a thought provoking history of self-immolation in the world; sadly that trend has continued and this article laments it.
Right now I’m fine. Although I shocked myself by sharing tears with a young woman whom came to me for help. It happened when I had a visit from a young college woman who had left college and brought her parents over to be with her after her dad suffered pancreatic cancer and now suffers from advanced liver cancer. She is a little older than my own daughter. Suffering from knowing her dad is dying in 2 or 3 months. Wishing for a cure. She had said she didn’t accept his dying. And we chatted about her situation I decided to share mine. My dad died in 2008 and I went through what she is about to go through. So when she broke down, I shared tears and I apologized for it because I after all was trying to be there for her and not have my issues. I worried and am worried that I will cry in the moments facings their deep grief when her dad is actually on his dying day. How can I help chant when I am weeping too? I used to be critical of nuns who cried during funerals now I see how deeply they loved their fathers or mothers or children and remember that when they are trying to do funerals. I do indeed. What should I do?
Ven. Guan Cheng has a 22 video series about the Diamond Sutra on youtube. It’s in English and is done well for it does present the Chinese Buddhist view in a very clear useful way that we westerners can absolutely get and understand!
Buddhist groups seek help from vigilantes to disrobe ring members
By R.S.N. MURALI, The Star, June 30, 2011
MALACCA, Malaysia — Several Buddhist
groups in Kuala Lumpur and Penang have sought the help of the “monk police” here to help eradicate bogus monks in their areas.
<< Don’t be conned: Sangha Sanctity Protection Centre chairman Seek Kai Lun (centre), Seek Lee Terk (right)
and Seck Kwan Si (left) showing posters that will be displayed in Malacca to
warn the public against bogus monks.
The Sangha Sanctity Protection Centre, which set up the “monk police”, is now preparing to send over a team of five volunteers to carry out surveillance in both these states.
“We have been receiving calls from other Buddhist organisations in the country to aid them in thwarting the activities of such monks.
“A plan of action is being prepared to disrobe these bogus monks preying on innocent devotees,” centre vice-chairman Ronald Gan Yong Hoe told The Star yesterday.
Gan said the team had been trained to identify and disrobe these bogus monks who would then
be deported back to their native countries.
“We are ready to provide our expertise,” he said, adding that the team would also be reinforced with another unit should the need arise or if there was a setback.
The centre had set up its own 10-man vigilante group on the belief that an organised syndicate was behind the culprits who walked around in saffron robes in the city here and took advantage of the public’s generosity.
These “monks” would hand out amulets which they claimed have spiritual powers to bestow prosperity and health on those making donations.
A preliminary investigation conducted by the centre found that the bogus monks travelled to Malaysia from China and operated for a month before heading back to their homeland.
One bogus monk nabbed by the centre confessed that his group could earn up to RM9,000 from a month’s stay here.
Gan said the centre was also anticipating more calls from Buddhist groups in other states.
“We are in the midst of recruiting more members to join our vigilante group in an all-out war to stop these monks,” he said.
The centre also distributed pamphlets to create awareness among the public to be wary of these monks.
Buddhist vigilantes to ‘disrobe’ bogus monks who fleece the public
By R.S.N. MURALI, The Star, June 21, 2011
MALACCA, Malaysia — A Buddhist group here has set up its own vigilante corp to stop those portraying themselves as monks from soliciting money from the public.
<<Ticking off: Gan (left) reprimanding a bogus monk and
‘disrobing’ him for soliciting funds at a busy street in Malacca.
The Sangha Sanctity Protection Centre (SSPC) said its “monk police” believed an organised syndicate was behind the culprits who walked in saffron robes through the populated streets of Malacca and preyed on the generosity of the public.
These foreigners hand out amulets which they claim have spiritual powers to bestow prosperity and health to those who make donations.
SSPC vice-chairman Ronald Gan Ying Hoe said its 10-man vigilante group would go out to stop the syndicate, which is known to have fleeced hundreds of people of their money and personal belongings.
“They use scare tactics to solicit donations, especially at hospitals where they target family members of warded patients,” he told The Star.
“Genuine monks do not wear watches or shoes.
“Indeed, they have no earthly asset of any sort,” said Gan, adding that the centre’s monk police would be spreading public awareness about the scam and also paste posters around the city to warn prospective victims.
“Monks are strictly forbidden to roam the streets, cheating people of their money or solicit donations and are not supposed to sell items like talismans,” he said.
“We are going to disrobe’ these rogues by going to areas that have become popular haunts of these con artists,” he said.
He added that a probe by the centre found that the rogue monks travelled to Malaysia from China and operated for a month before heading back to their homeland.
“One bogus monk we nabbed recently confessed his group could earn up to RM9,000 from a month’s stay here,” he said.
Gan said in recent months, the centre’s monk police had caught four rogue monks who solicited donations at busy streets and private hospitals in the city.
“In one case, a bogus monk in his late 40s was forced to return to his native country with the help of the authorities,” said Gan.
He added that these conmen could damage the sanctity of the Buddhist faith if drastic steps were not taken to stop them from cheating people.
Gan said he would work closely with the relevant enforcement agencies to stop these bogus monks.
I’ve jsut read another sad story from another Sangha member’s blog, a woman reply with bitterness over her disaster with her guru in Vajrayana. I just replied to her reply. She was holding on to so much idignation, bitterness and was rejecting women’s roles, robes, and validitiy of Sangha at all.
Abused by her guru and his supporters finally she left. But had to endure hardships and kept biting that bitter nut of regret, rage and grief at her self and the guru. Until she faces all the habits that kept her there and choices she made to not act for her own safety and hold him accountable she will not progess as rapidity as she would like. Good therapy, resuming practice with a calmer, harmonious and peaceful Sangha community will help her.
Her failure to undestand her own power as a Buddhist practitioner and the system she was in led to this rotton situation. It’s common for westerners and some easterners too; to bitch at us or about us Sangha as being weak, as some of us for being women, childlike, undeducated, dancing about with our wiles and without power or a sense of our empowerment as Sangha, or accusing us of not policing our Sangha leaders enough so abuses do not even arise at all.
Well in the West Buddhism is not controlled by the government. We do have laws that protect us and Sangha are not above the law. We are mandated by our Vinaya to observe the laws and respect the government of the country in which we reside.
New Buddhist are just plain ignorant, often tossing their self-control, common sense, sense of right and wrong, memory of whose country they live in anyway, deluded greately by who is in control of them, have definite problems listening to their teachers advice, often fickle to Buddhist practice omiting key traditional practics cuz they don’t wanna, and toss whats left of their minds up in the air as far as they can forcing it all way up until by chance and gravity it is falling into the hands of frauds, politikers, and often well-meaning but really inexperienced with the Western ideas of teachers, saints, leaders and monastics are those small but sincere groups of foreign monks and nuns. What a hideaous act!
If people when they approach Sangha wanting to learn would keep their heads, stop tossing their minds out for someone else to grab they would get along just fine and make progress they deserve. It’s gone wrong for many idealistic or perhaps those that reject too much, or make that pick and choose style of Buddhist salada bar type who can’t settle into a practice or goes mental after sitting for days in meditation ‘cuz they heard Buddha Sakyamuni did so. All of these types often reject Buddhism after trying to capture their minds again from bad practices they kept doing to themselves. Instead of moving on, correcting their mistake they blame. So in the future they get to repeat the same pattern.
Here is is, what you did wrong perhaps.
The first action of all of these who suffer bitternness is to reject the sangha, temple or center entirely as too far, too much, can’t be bothered to get there, can’t understand them or they won’t undestand me.
2. pick up a book by a famous monk, nun or writer that starts everytime with a warning… do not undertake this practice without supevision of a master, a qualified teacher of the method being taught in this book….. then ignore it, undertake the practice on your own; get mental, get vulnerable, and can’t make the voices stop; can’t work, can’t ….can’t life stops and nothing is the same anymore. So they blame robes, centers, and of course Sangha.
3. have all the answers and sits for hours. at first ok, then for a year or so gets sensations, loves it. keeps going, gets to hear voices. oh ! progress. does continue ‘cuz the mind says to. Then oops no job ‘cuz all I wanna do is sit in blisss…yeah that’s the life. Oops lost the family. Ooops feel bad voices won’t stop. Oh no! It’s still progress tho’. Nope I just don’t need sangha! I made it! Numerous visits to psych wards, lots of needed medications, now it’s really all Sangha’s fault!
4. Drugs the faulty test of bliss! It’s so real, vibrant, love to get high during chanting services. I made it! jhana aaaah! I’m expert I can teach this! Wow! fast track to Nirvana! Whoa, the man why he here! Oh, yeah. Mutiple hospitalizations with freaky side effects. Blames Sangha for lack of progress.
5. Sex is bliss. perhaps you were empowered by your own sexuality or repressed. You know you. Letting the leader touch you, that was fun or not. People said its a merit/better method/fast way to bliss what ever that is to be with him, a lie and you knew it but were swayed because they knew more than you or insisted you be in the bed with him. he cries to you, he shares intimate fears or worries with you. he clings to you. your hooked. well. if your not then your caught. Right. But it gets bad, you want out but how? Still want that bliss? Yes so hopeful and you stay. Then leave badly. Right time to blame Sangha. Despise us, why, why, why? Why indeed did you not call the cops, consult lawyers, family or friends or leave?
6. Use Buddhism for medical care or mental health care. This is just wrong. It is not meant for this type of approach. The Buddha was not a doctor but sometimes referred to metaphorically as a healer. This is all that meant. All of Buddhist practice is for well people to undertake. There is some truth of some practices benefitting some conditions but not any of the modern definitions of serious psychiatric conditions. I add this to make sure you get it; IT WAS NOT MEANT FOR PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS, none of it. No matter how fancy of a pracice offered or by whom.
We live in times of adequate medical care and good therapists and much of Buddhist practice today as in the past is to be undertaken by well people. Mental health issues need to be faced properly and correctly. Most of what people can do for themselves is to do the best they can and not over reach for what they are not ready for or capable of. Be Real about your issues and you will be more stable! That is why the Buddha taught us to teach others according to their conditions and capability. There is no generic Buddhist method to cure or eliminate disease beyond the knowledge of standard science and medicine. Buddhist measure their progress one by one; step by step; not by Proctor & Gamble mass produced pills or B & N books, etc.
At the core of this faulty mindset is this – the lack of valuation or understanding of the the Triple Jewel.
There is a marked lack of attempt to join and/or reject a real strong Buddhist community of laity that activly seeks out Sangha to improve their personal practice. And a total lack of common sense and deliberate refusal to put self-preservation first in the face of co-ercive or dangerous practices for what ever unerlying problems you already had coming into your efforts to practice some of the methods of Buddhist practice.
There is no sense of community in the above approaches, this faulty thinking has led many to disaster and ruined many a struggling community. However, all that being said just stop the blame.
Buddha taught us that our minds are our responsibility, it is ours after all and nobody elses. We are responsible for walking on the path ourselves, not Buddha and not anyone else.
Embrace all of traditional Buddhist practices for they are already time tested with many checks and balances to help you progress. Being a lone wolf type as many try to do simply does not work.
Sangha monastics know this, they work as a community and train together, they have moments to practice or study what interests them but really that’s only moments daily we are busy with our duties and meeting the community as a whole needs. The strength of our practice lies in our precepts, guided by the Vinaya, striving to study and learn as much Buddha dharma as we can staying withing our basic practices, renewing our selves in retrains, seeking elders in our community and outside our temples for improved understanding and our basic training forming our foundatin while with our tonsure master before we are accepted for full ordiantion.
Sangha are human beings, with all their skills and are still learning and still practicing. We are ahead of you on the path but not there yet to the final goal of enlightenment. We are entitled to our flaws the same as you. However, we have guidelines that help us daily that’s called monastic discipline or the Vinaya.
Traditionally you are supposed to seek out the Sangha for dharma teaching. If you do not do this you will not make progress on the path yourself. Sangha, me and others have learned a thing or two being left-home persons and if we or I am skilled enough in communnications and I or others decide to agree to teach you upon your request then we can share what we know the best we can.
This key action on your part is what you need to do to be safe, to know what is exactly going on in practices and what is normal for Buddhists to do. Please don’t give up on yourselves and throw your minds away like this it brings more suffering to you, your family mostly and to the sangha.
Have patience for Buddhists really gotta practice daily in order to progress. What makes generational traditional Buddhists miles ahead of you is just that, patience … facing reality as it is, reading sutras/suttas; charitable acitons for the needy, doing their best to keep a sense of community with other Buddhists and seeking Sangha for more dharma teachings and counseling if they think of it, learning solid safe methods to improve their practices in a supportive environment that is safe for them to be in while studying.
Part two of this will give you real good examples of what lay people say to sangha and what the sangha respond to; appropriate teachings and laity guiding the Sangha in situations and conduct.