On Relinquishing My Mahathera Status (part 1: Dhamma and Motivation)


A monk asked Kyōrin, “What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?” Kyōrin said, “Sitting long and getting tired.” —Blue Cliff Record, case 17


     This is the Big Announcement.

     In summer of 2016, when I flew back to SE Asia for the last time, I had pretty much given up on trying to live as a monk in America. I had been aiming since 2011 to get myself set up somehow living among western Buddhists; but for various reasons, mostly considered in my old Nippapañca Blog, none of it worked beyond the level of house sitting, couch surfing, and living from hand to mouth, while at the same time being rather a burden on the relatively few people who were generously and openheartedly supporting me. I may as well observe that living from hand to mouth is exactly what a monk is supposed to do, although wandering literally penniless and sleeping in caves and under trees (or even in simple huts) is pretty much a non-starter in America.

     So, while in Burma I made an offer to venerable U Vimala, the abbot of a forest monastery called Migadawun, to take upon myself the duty of being permanent abbot there, considering that U Vimala was getting old, his health was not so good, and he was looking for someone to replace him. Migadawun was originally established for western monks in the Taungpulu tradition, and I am one of the very last of them, if not literally the very last. (Venerable U Vimala usually lived alone because he was very hard to get along with, but for some strange reason he likes me.) The thing is, by the time I had made the offer, he had already given permission to a young scholar monk to turn Migadawun, at the time a place for meditation, into a monastic school. Because ven. U Vimala likes me for whatever reasons, for several months he was embarrassed (in Burmese, “ah nah deh”) to tell me that the place was already planned to become a monastic school, with a different, Burmese monk as abbot. As I get older I have been losing my taste for the blazing heat of the lowlands, including my old monastery of Wun Bo where I was abbot or “sayadaw,” and Migadawun was in the hills with a temperate climate, and I was burning out on living in Burma anyway, so finally in December of 2018 I came back to America and have been here at Kusalakari Meditation Center, in California, ever since.

     I should add that I’d been burning out on Burma for a long time, which is a major reason why I wanted to come back to America before the great migration eventually occurred in 2011. I was tired of sweating all the time, getting weird tropical diseases (I’ve had malaria seven or eight times, always the worst kind, plus what one doctor called “amoebic hepatitis,” just to name the life-threatening ones), eating rice and goop all the time, and never speaking English with others (although I always spoke English to dogs and other nonhumans). The trouble is that I had burned out on both hemispheres of the earth. Sometimes I’d tell my supporters in Burma, half jokingly, that my trouble was that I didn’t want to live anywhere.


an old picture of me, circa late 1990s,
at Alaung Daw Kathapa National Park in NW Burma/Myanmar;
I was eating my meal on a rock overlooking Phaya Creek


     For awhile a kind of compromise option was Bali. I’ve been there three or four times, there’s a wealthy Buddhist family there who have repeatedly offered support, with a Buddhist and/or New Agey western expat population, and shortly before I flew back to America this most recent time two of the family brothers flew to Burma, visited me and invited me to spend the rains retreat in Bali (in a cabin that they would build for me to my specifications), and then they got on a plane and flew back to Indonesia the following day. I told them I’d like to spend the next rains retreat in America but would be happy to come to Bali after that, but for various reasons, including my designated attendant ordaining as a novice, in Thailand I think, and possibly my going renegade in America and becoming practically a fascist sympathizer, it all came to nothing this time and is now no longer a viable option.

     Before I get any farther with this I would like to make two statements. First I would like to point out, to those of you who may not have fully understood the implications of the title, that I am giving, in this and the next few installments, my reasons for “relinquishing my Mahāthera status”—that is, for disrobing and returning to the life of an unordained person. Also I want to nip in the bud any conspiracy theories which have nothing to do with my case. For example I am not at all being kicked out of the Sangha or out of this monastery. I informed the venerable abbot of my intentions recently, and he appears to be truly sorry that I am taking this new route in life. Also my choice has absolutely nothing to do with hysterical and intolerant leftist fanatics, Buddhist or otherwise, persecuting me and/or driving me away. It has nothing to do with public opinion about me personally. Also, I certainly DO NOT consider the Buddha, or the fundamental texts of Theravada, to be wrong, even though they may be damned hard to follow. I am still a Buddhist. I have several reasons for my decision, most of which have been around for years, and three main ones, the first of which I will discuss below, and the rest in subsequent installments.

     My primary reason, numero uno, is this: I feel I have stopped making progress through practicing monastic Buddhism, and so I feel like I should try something else.

     I have never been a very good meditator by nature or temperament. Like many westerners, my mind is supercharged, very restless, high-strung, and prone to uddhacca, that is, mental agitation and distraction. Although I am somewhat of a mystic, I am also a compulsive thinker much of the time. So it took my greatest efforts over a period of many years to realize what meditative states I have attained, averaging several hours a day sitting in the full lotus, living in solitude in remote tropical Asian forests, strictly following ancient rules, and practicing some pretty rigorous austerity. The result was that, a few times in my life, I have reached relatively advanced meditative or mystical states, sitting wide awake and still, with the mind clear like glass—what the Catholic mystics call “contemplation.” Those times, however, were many years ago. Aside from one night back around December of 2015, the best meditation of my life was between the years 2000 and 2004. Although meditating regularly and often up until recently, I have not been able to attain really deep states since then, and that really is the primary job of a contemplative bhikkhu.


one of the first places I inhabited in Burma
(it's the entrance to a little artificial cave called Mandalay Gu)


     I am reminded of the monk Godhika in the Godhika Sutta of the Samyutta Nikāya, who attained jhāna (deep contemplative states) and then lost them again, then regained them, then relost them, and continued with this until he committed suicide in desperation. Also I am haunted by a statement I read by Saint John of the Cross, a true meditation master even though he was a Christian, who said that anyone who doesn’t fully master contemplation but occasionally has it and then loses it again…well, God has other plans for that person. He simply is not intended or destined to be an adept at contemplation. I have often hoped that he was wrong, but it appears in my case that he was not. I have not managed to become an adept at contemplation, and apparently “God” has other plans for me. Although once one has really tasted Dhamma one cannot truly abandon it.

     I became a monk thirty years ago in order to strive for enlightenment in this very life, and that striving, from an orthodox Theravada Buddhist perspective especially, involves the cultivation of deep meditative states, and I have not really experienced for years anything like the kind of states I’m supposed to be cultivating…which suggests to me that maybe I should try something else. Even back in 2010, before the big exodus back to America, I was feeling like I had got about as far as I was likely to get by sitting alone and meditating in caves. Lately the best meditation I have had by far has been while doing walking meditation at night, outdoors, using AUM as a mantra every eighth step, after consuming approximately one tenth of a gram of relatively potent cannabis.

     Having to go back to start repeatedly, grinding away at the ABCs of elementary meditation (like labeling phenomena as they arise), has caused my meditation gradually to dry up and dwindle away, so that there is precious little drive left for sitting in formal meditation. So on top of the inability to still the mind consistently, because my meditation has always been sporadic even at its best, now there is also the inability to maintain enthusiasm and use “beginner’s mind” with regard to trying again and again.


me as a very junior monk, after a little over a year in robes (one of the Burmese monks in the picture dropped out I think because of a liking for women, another died of a heart attack while sitting in his car at a red light in California (still as a monk), and I have no idea what happened to the other one)


     For more than ten years I have had to exert more and more effort just to stay at the same level, to tread water so to speak, rather like the Red Queen in Wonderland who had to run as fast as she could just in order to remain in the same place. From the beginning of my monkhood I had the Great Comforting Thought: Even if I make no significant progress in this life, at least I’m staying out of trouble, more or less. And even when my meditation was going much better than lately I imagined myself being a member of the Rocky Balboa school of Buddhism: not so much trying to win (the metaphor refers to the first Rocky movie, not the sequels) as just staying on my feet the full twelve rounds and refusing to throw in the towel out of sheer obstinate idealism. But seriously, when something stops working, and stays not working for several years, it does make sense to try something else.

     A big reason for returning to the west way back in 2011, aside from the other big reason of burning out majorly on living in tropical Asia, is that interacting with other people, practicing Dharma while moving around and making noise and maybe even helping others somehow, was a possible new way of practice that might yield benefits. I have long felt that more human interaction would be helpful, partly because my heart is relatively underdeveloped. The great comforting thought is not so comforting anymore; stagnation seems not to be an optimal way of life, and if I remain in robes—the brown toga—it seems rather likely I will simply spend the rest of my life in a state of gradual decline, not just physically and mentally but also spiritually.

     Some people who read this, the first on my list of reasons, might glibly offer advice like, “oh, you should find a better teacher,” or “oh, you must have been following a wrong method, and should go to X meditation center or follow the true teachings of venerable Y,” or “the commentaries say jhāna isn’t necessary.” But I have read it all and heard it all, and I have tried following the Pali texts as rightly as I could manage. I’ve tried plenty, and I am soon to try something radically different from sitting crosslegged in solitude and following ancient rules.

     (Perhaps I should say with regard to that bit about jhāna being unnecessary that it may be true, although of course the Suttas place great emphasis on jhāna and actually emphasize it more than mindfulness meditation. But anyone who has reached a state of stillness, silence, and crystal clarity may know that just five minutes of it is worth years of grinding and struggling, and is far superior to a lifetime of counting breaths and labeling stray thoughts. After experiencing it it is damn near impossible to be satisfied with something that is far less.)

     In summary: The most sacred duty of a bhikkhu is to strive wholeheartedly and single-mindedly for enlightenment in this very life, in accordance with the instructions set forth in the Pali texts; and now that I have never really mastered jhāna and have been experiencing a shortage of motivation to continue striving with all my might along those lines, it seems suitable to seek another path. I can still strive, and I certainly have no regrets, but Theravada Buddhist monasticism has gotten me about as far as I am likely to go by following it.

     The next installment of this here blog will discuss another big factor or two, one of which I have addressed a number of times recently in essays and interviews, so that one may come as no surprise. May all beings be as well and happy as Samsara and the First Noble Truth will allow.


     

on U Pein Bridge, an antique structure I used to walk across every morning
to go for alms in Taungthamon Village on the other side, when I was at
Mahagandhayon Monastery in Amarapura back in the early 90s


Comments

  1. Much love and gratitude being sent your way. Thank you for all you have done, and will do in the future. Your teachings and wisdom are priceless. May the wind always be at your back as you move forward into this next season. Onward and upward!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Now that you’re not a monk anymore, or soon will not be, I would like to say this - Camus said of Sisyphus that “one must imagine him to be happy” and my wish for you is that, in “the real world” you will be happy, and if not, that you will at least remember to imagine yourself to be.
    Good Luck and Best Wishes in your new life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The plan is to remove the robe in the second half of May. Some observations about living a happy life and of course the universality of the First Noble Truth are coming up in part 2, and maybe also part 3. We are all Sisyphus, regardless of the clothes we wear. (May as well add that I was not impressed by that book at all--we shouldn't all commit suicide just for the sake of trolling the Universe?)

      Delete
  3. I think this is the right way, as a teacher you can help other people much more. "Heute legst du die Samen für die Bäume die Früchte tragen , mögen alle Wesen Glück erfahren"🙏🏻

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (Incidentally, the foreign lingo means "Today you sow the seeds for the trees that bear fruit, may all beings experience happiness.")

      Delete
  4. Well, welcome to the club then ! There's a bunch of us lay practitioners who find it hard to quiet the mind in meditation but do get some benefits of it one way or another. Or simply sense that the whole samsaric existence (work, family, entertainment, news etc) is empty, tiring and pointless. May be your monk 'career' too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Samsaric existence (Tiring work, always the same, senseless). I feel the same way sometimes. I think anyone with a certain intellect is looking for more than that.

      Delete
    2. If you think family life is "empty, tiring and pointless," how about sitting alone and still for hours watching your breathing? Anything in life can be a spiritual practice and a spiritual lesson. Also anything in life can be empty, tiring and pointless. It all depends on how you look at it.

      Delete
  5. Whatever you do, keep those blog posts and videos coming; you’re truly a breath of fresh air circulating through the online Clown World! God bless and good luck!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My intention is indeed to continue blogging, making videos, and probably producing a book or two, maybe also to do some in person teaching if there is a call for it. The only thing that would lower the quality of my output would be if I'm too busy making a living and paying the bills by non-Buddhist means to have the time...which is an issue that I will mention in part 3.

      Delete
    2. Yes! Please keep the content coming. You always keep us grounded down here in Clownworld #honk You will have my continued support, as always.

      Delete
    3. Much respect to you! Never any wasted efforts!

      The times are hard for Monks. Especially, here in the west... And with the whole world becoming more and more westernized it may only get harder... Anicca I suppose...

      All things are a flux... Monks rise from the layity and good layity support a Monks livelihood while Monks support the layity in spiritual progress. This is truly a beautiful symbiotic relationship that I am sad to not see flourish...

      Now, what should we do? You coming back to this Lay world of conditionality... Perhaps you may increase your agency in this Samsaric field... Lay people don't have a choice unless they are enlightened to some degree... Nature and Karma works through us driving all of becoming...

      Perhaps, your deeds will sow seeds just like the, "butter fly effect. It is said, that the flap of a butterflies wings while seemingly insignificant could set a chain events of sorts that lead to a mighty hurricane... Perhaps a overstatement! I do not know, but I believe our actions do make effects in the karmic field of continual flux...

      Again, my respect for you and your efforts are great! I hope to stay in touch with you.

      Metta

      Delete
  6. Amazon is hiring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As it turns out, I may have to use Amazon to publish a book or two.

      Delete
    2. THE FIGHT AGAINST HERESY IS WAGED ON MANY FRONTS! LORD BUDDHA'S WORDS RING TRUE TO THIS DAY! AND THERE ARE THOSE THAT MUST HEAR IT! CHAOS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO THREATEN THE IMPERIUM OF MAN! CHAOS IS NO MATCH FOR THE MIGHT OF THE TRUE DHAMMA! WEILD THE SWORD OF TRUTH IN THE IMPERIUM'S NAME AND BASK IN THE GLORY OF ONE'S OWN NOBILITY! SADU! SADU! SADU!

      Delete
  7. Returning to lay life at this point in history, you must really have a good reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One consideration is the advice allegedly given to philosophers by Confucius: "Leave the country that is already well governed and go to a country that is in chaos."

      Delete
  8. Much respect to you and your future endeavors, I wish you the best. This post resonated with me because I am very young and have tired various means of dipping my toes into spirituality (mainly western occultism, e.g. Evola's books on the subject) in search of an authentic experience. Meditation (which I've been doing on and off) itself has had varying results, from clearing the mind to focusing on a single thing, it is very difficult, but those precious moments of success are very real, yet the frustration is constant. I assume this would be normal for anyone beginning but one thing that I've noticed is that when I preform rituals, particularly those in which I confidently vocally evoke the forces of my choosing, I am elevated to a much more concrete and maintainable "subtle" state then with meditation alone. I assume my path is also not one of pure contemplation, but of action and expression. Either way, I hope that you find peace and happiness in the future and know that your blog has brought me and many others great insight and joy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heresy!

      The Imperium of Man does not take kindly to heretics! Silence Heretic or face the might of the Noble Inquisition!

      Delete
  9. This message is sent with metta to you.

    Do you have a job to go to? Employers like cvs and yours is empty. That means you’re going to be picking up the crap work no one wants like flipping burgers or filling shelves at Wally-world, maybe 10-12 hours a day because overtime is expected.

    You do realize that professional people with professional jobs start retiring at 55 and that’s younger than you?

    Have you done your finances and budgeted for rent, travel, clothes, medical insurance, food, Internet, pension?
    Don’t bother budgeting for fun items like beer, cannabis, movies or women because there’s never enough left over for them especially not if you’re working a crap job (and you will be unless you’ve already managed to pull something spectacular and landed yourself a great job?)

    You made your decision thirty years ago and it’s more than a little late in the game to change it unless you’re happy flipping burgers and willing to live in a box (possibly worse than a cave given the environment you will be living in).

    You have status, respect, and a voice people listen to - if you give that up you’re just a nobody and no one will care what you have to say.

    A LOT OF PEOPLE would like to see you fail and will cheer you on down the route you’re taking - I would like to see you remain the success you have become which is why I am saying it like it is.
    Your life - Your choice.
    I won’t comment again on your blog.
    This message was sent with metta.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No offense, Sir, But I believe there is more to life than titles, ego, and the materialism that you mentioned. Bhante is a wise person, and i'm sure he will live just fine without Walmart, titles for status, beer, and materialistic women. An escetic finds happiness while living without needs or wants.

      Delete
    2. The Reason Of UnreasonApril 22, 2021 at 12:03 PM

      And apparently, according to you, without money?
      And as for living without women - have you ever seen his blog?

      Delete
    3. TRofU, where did I mention living with zero money? Living without materialistic women does not mean, living with no woman at all. Living as an escetic requires much less than the average American. Bhante has already mentioned that he will continue to walk the escetic path as much as possible in the West.

      Delete
    4. The Reason Of UnreasonApril 22, 2021 at 8:46 PM

      Given that Ven. Pannobhasa will have to eat like the rest of us he will need money - on that basis alone he cannot be ascetic in the Buddhist sense as they do not handle money.

      Living without materialism does pretty much guarantee living without a woman because a woman’s first priority is security and comfort for obvious reasons - that’s why there are so few ascetic women.

      As for Ven. Pannobhasa walking the ascetic path he has already said on his videos that he doesn’t follow the vinaya much at all now, and at this point he’s still in a monastery. How much more will he follow it when he leaves?

      Delete
  10. Have you seen the old korean movie called Mandala (1981)? I suggest it might be a worthwile watch if you haven't.

    Also, instead of dropping out of the monkhood for good, have you considered ordaining in a different tradition, perhaps a Zen school of some sort?

    With metta,
    Antanas

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi David,
    I can tell you from personal experience that Bird Brain is absolutely right. Please tread carefully and may all beings be well and happy. Gassho.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bird Brain speaks in a totally worldly way, not in a spiritual one. We'll see what karma has to say.

      Delete
    2. The Reason of UnreasonApril 22, 2021 at 12:00 PM

      There is no place for the spiritual in the world, isn’t that why you went to the monastery in the first place?

      Delete
    3. The spiritual is literally everywhere, not only in a monastery. The monastery allows one to filter out many distractions, but that has run its course in my case. Now it is time to apply what I have learned, such as it is.

      Delete
    4. The Reason Of UnreasonApril 22, 2021 at 5:15 PM

      Stuck in a 6x4 room with no air conditioning and dripping sweat for the duration of a 12 hour shift - a radio constantly blaring, and a constant “where is it, what’s taking so long” from your co-workers - and the spiritual will be with you. The World welcomes the first spiritual burger flipper - and I salute you sir!! Enjoy your flipping!

      Delete
    5. Spoken like a spiritually bankrupt person, a true son of the west. If what you have written is the best you can do, I am sorry for you. Maybe you'd prefer dripping with sweat alone in an Asian jungle?

      Delete
    6. I kind of cringe at all the talk of sprituality. It's like the other side of the same coin re: worldly desire, a kind of ego trip. You know, look at me, see how deep I am, so humble yet so goddamn cool...

      Delete
    7. The Reason Of UnreasonApril 22, 2021 at 8:21 PM

      Yes, you will find lots of spiritually bankrupt people in clown-world so you better get used to it.

      What’s the Asian jungle got to do with flipping burgers? If you were in the Asian jungle I assume you were there for a reason - to be spiritual - and if you’re flipping burgers you’re there to flip burgers and make a little money, no one cares in the slightest if you’re being spiritual as you flip or not - and the purpose of the comment above, which seems to have flown right over your head, was to illustrate how difficult it is to be spiritual in the wrong environment - you should have got that.

      The asian jungle and flipping burgers are not connected - and this is a problem with this response and others you’ve made above - there is a disconnect between your view of society which you think you are going to be able to survive in from a spiritual perspective, and what is actually outside your monastery gates. Your responses show you really are divorced from (that) reality.

      Perhaps I am spiritually bankrupt - how do you think that makes me feel to hear you say that?
      Btw, you say that to the wrong person in clown world and you’ll find yourself on a quick trip to emergency hospital. You won’t have any privilege or respect.

      Yes, I am a true son of the West and proud of it - that’s the West you’re wanting to come back to - so what’s so special about the Asian jungle you want to leave?

      I believe you can’t take criticism and your response to my comment - and to the comments above show you are divorced from clown world reality.
      Prove me wrong and show you have the balls to publish this comment.

      Delete
    8. There are certain schools of mysticism which require their adherents to take up precisely burger-flipping and other such jobs. Why must spirituality be found only in a long piece of draped cloth?

      Delete
    9. The Jains have always rejected burger flipping as a spiritual practice, same thing with root vegetables. Adherents to Hinduism also reject burger flipping as a spiritual practice, preferring to simply give the cows right of way on roads and train lines. Christians make good burger flippers though.

      Delete
    10. Burger flipping is a metaphor.

      Delete
    11. Those of you hung up in the burger flipping meme may not realize that bhante had a successful life as a layperson before becoming a monk. He is a biologist and worked for the university in a STEM field. He is more qualified to teach Buddhism than most laypeople teaching in the west, or generic monks who are simply repeating what they read in a book.

      Delete
    12. Anyone who has found their way to this blog probably appreciates both Ven. Pannobhasa’s major achievements - the intellectual and the spiritual. But he hasn’t held a job in thirty years so that pretty much means burger flipping.

      Delete
    13. Burger flipping is not a metaphor - hundreds of thousands of people are engaged in this activity every day across North America (and the world) - they are an essential part of the economy (just look at the line up at the drive through) - let’s show some respect for burger flippers.

      If David wants to be a burger flipper then kudos to him for not allowing the stigma of a low status low paid job stop him from earning a few sheckles. That just shows he’s broken out of cultural conditioning/perspectives.

      Delete
    14. Seriously, I have no intention of flipping burgers.

      Delete
    15. """Seriously, I have no intention of flipping burgers."""

      Your followers know this. Flipping burgers is a choice. These Hamburglar guys in the comments are bored, after a long day working at PhatBurger.

      Delete
    16. Ven. Pannobhasa -
      I think the whole burger flipping thing is born out of genuine concern for you - the economy isn’t what it was thirty years ago when you left the world for the monastery, and you haven’t held a job in thirty years - that’s seriously limiting on job possibilities in the present - in other words people are concerned about how you’re going to pay the bills if you don’t have something lined up to go to.

      I dont think anyone intends to flip burgers - more a commentary on the sad state of the economy when that or something similar is the only choice you’re given.

      Anonymous -
      As for being bored - everything humans do either serves a need or is a distraction and therefore perfectly in/correct. And yes, we were bored after a hard days sweating at Phatburger. Please forgive us?


      Delete
    17. Blame-It-On-FlippyApril 23, 2021 at 4:31 PM

      Ven. Pannobhasa - given your followers interest in this subject this is very serious news that threatens the entire workforce. Blame it on flippy
      https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/watch-burger-flipping-robot-get-work-ncna854536

      Delete
    18. pretty soon rovots willl be flipping the burgers

      Delete
  12. Bhante- I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. From hints in your videos and blogs I had sensed you were headed in this path so it is not a total shock to hear of you disrobing. I think your honesty in sharing your struggles is good and noble. That is where I think we engage in the most spiritual bypassing- by pretending the shit in our lives isn't really there instead of handling it correctly. So much of Western Buddhism is about cultivating an image- like the soft spoken meditation "instructor" or "facilitator" on quaaludes who uses long pauses to sound "mindful".

    However, I will say that I do share your dismay at stalling in advancing in meditation practice. I also face this myself (though I never put the amount of work into it as did you!) and would relish the kind of life to make genuine, overall spiritual progress that sticks to my bones. Perhaps with your experience you can re-discover that path for us. I read Dharma Bums recently and was taken with the American expression of the wandering mendicant and wondered if that could be some of sort of model for us. Buy some land and park some tiny homes on it? A right wing Dharma Bum community minus the copious drinking, perhaps.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading the next installments in your journey. Metta.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Asian Buddhist cultures it's common for people to go back and forth between lay and monastic status, otherwise they'd be faced with the same shortage of religious as the Catholics.

      Delete
    2. Yes, it is possible he could try out the lay life and re-ordain in the future. From his current blog it appears in his current status he has reached an impasse- nothing says that he has to remain a layman forever either.

      Delete
  13. I wish you the best! This was surprising though. I imagined that you would eventually perhaps start your own western monastery and start ordaining western men into Theravada monasticism.

    But perhaps this is the best way for you to be able to spread the Dhamma in the west.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you are open to Mahayana Buddhism then you might like the teachings of Shinran. Your story kind of reminded me of him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pure Land? If so, then it's really not my style.

      Delete
  15. Super precious information, thanks a lot for sharing. I've been practising theravada for some 15 years, as a layman, but I also put quite a lot into meditaiton, mostly during first 8-10 years, and inquired a number of meditators about their experience as well. Eventually I've arrived at a conclusion that we live too far from the historical Buddha to master jhanas (without which arahantship/nonreturning is virtually impossible as MN64 directly says). I mean, our indriyas are too underdeveloped for that and this just cannot be rectified quickly (in 1 lifetime) no matter how hard you try (those whose indriyas were potent enough lived very close to Buddha's lifetime). As he explained himself (somewhere in MN) - "beings deteriorate" and this was the reason why less and less people attained the goal even though more and more Vinaya rules were being intoduced. Obviously, as he states so, this deterioration was evident even during his lifetime. I think we can safely extrapolate that and thus understand the present situation without rose-tinted glasses. Still, I'm sure 2 lower fruits (which doesn't require jhana) can be attained nowadays and people do attain them, knowingly and even unknowingly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some who can master jhana nowadays. Saint John of the Cross, a Catholic monk even, apparently mastered 4th jhana in early modern times, and knew of others who did also. But even most of those who try very hard are unable really to master it, although one may get some tastes of it. And tastes are better than nothing.

      Delete
  16. When I first found out you were in Tibet, I thought to myself, wow , am i partially responsible for you to do this thing.. Could i have had friendship with someone only to be
    used by others to purposely offend, and then take recourse because of anger, at being accused of something ,okay i the thought did arise in my mind...

    Anyway when yuou said your heart was young , it reminded me of how I feel, most of the time. For years I have been practicing , writing and singing songs,,, I get this feeling when I play that takes away alll of the pain, sorrow, anger or whatever the day has brought me. It not only does this , but it also fills me with a power I cant describe. The more heads i turn , the more people that hear me, feeds this power and if I didnt have this i truly would seek escape from this life.

    I usually explain it like the callouses on my fingers from playing the steel string guitar, at first in early guitarma there was a lot of pain, even bleeding of the fingers, but as I grew used to it the callouses got thicker and soon i didnt feeel the pain .

    My heart is not the same as my fingers when I play and sing for people it takes alll the drama and chaos and it vanishes , and i start fresh and new. but each time I get to go through the everyday events that mostly make me feel like the world is falling a part.
    See every person I meet becomes a voice in my head, So alll the stuff on the outside may be complicated, and sometimes harsh, but what I have going on inside my head ( even though I hide it), has me defending myself constantly and it only twice has bled over into reality, to make me look like a fool, or even make me strike out. (one of those times it happened to be a guy who was a professional boxer form Mexico , held my own but got a few lumps on the noggin. ) anyway , I guess im might be getting what you are talking about because in the same way I am trying to get to a place that has none of the above. Even though its getting harder to achieve, I still get there, but the more songs I write, the longer of my meditation period , i am able to do,. well maybe wrong place for this comment but I think I got you.. coming to California again soon Maybe you can join me for a session....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charles whitworthApril 27, 2021 at 9:18 AM

      I meant when I heard you were in Tibet, long ago .
      I believe that you know what you are doing . But I won't believe that you are giving up, just progressing , or much like a butterfly changing from its previous existence in this life, come out of the robe and be enlightened, ...

      Delete
  17. I vote that one shouldn't disrobe. Many beings envy you, mind the Devatas admonition.

    If you can give me even a throwaway email we might figure that training around here might be suitable for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Disrobing is a personal choice. Also note that an alt-right Theravadin monk with a blog is kind of a novelty, while an alt-right layman with a blog is kinda well, meh...
      a watered down American version of Herr Ruhe?

      Delete
    2. Living as a monk out of a desire for prestige or clicks on my blog would be an extremely lame reason for being a monk. One should have good reasons.

      Delete
    3. Agreed, just observing the potential wordly consequence of a purely personal choice.
      This here blog drew me partly because it was written by a Buddhist monk, and it will continue to do so partly because it will be written by an ex-monk and there's a certain human interest element at work above and beyond the political crap (no offense, all sides are crap).

      Delete
  18. Take the Vajrayana-pill. It’s always been the swiftest path to Enlightenment. As I’ve said before, it is a much more suitable method for the modern, especially western, mind. Sending mahakaruna your way my friend. May everything be auspicious!

    P.S - I would definitely buy a copy of any book you released.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've been watching your videos on Brian's channel for months. Not all of them, not since the beginning and such but still many months, I almost feel like I know you even though that's entirely unrealistic and odd.

    I wish you well in your endeavors! I hope you find decent work and I hope you have many many White children.

    Your journey is amazing.


    (Moderating comments is probably a good idea.)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Hello, I am now moderating comments, so there will probably be a short delay after a comment is submitted before it is published, if it is published. This does have the advantage, though, that I will notice any new comments to old posts. Comments are welcome, but no spam, please. (Spam may include ANY anonymous comment which has nothing specifically to do with the content of the post.)

Translate

Most Clicked On