Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/09/2010

Adhamma

I had a somewhat disturbing experience today with a teacher who was billed as having some knowledge of the Pali Canon and the teachings of the Buddha but was remarkably evasive (I believe the canonical term is an “eel-wriggler”) when I asked questions that pertained to the suttas specifically and the Dhamma and the Discipline in general.

There are, monks, some contemplatives & priests who, being asked questions regarding this or that, resort to verbal contortions, to eel-like wriggling, on four grounds… There is the case of a certain priest or contemplative who does not discern as it actually is that ‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is unskillful.’ The thought occurs to him: ‘I don’t discern as it actually is that “This is skillful,” or that “This is unskillful.” If I… were to declare that “This is skillful,” or that “This is unskillful,” desire, passion, aversion, or resistance would occur to me; that would be a falsehood for me. Whatever would be a falsehood for me would be a distress for me. Whatever would be a distress for me would be an obstacle for me.’ So, out of fear of falsehood, a loathing for falsehood, he does not declare that ‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is unskillful.’ Being asked questions regarding this or that, he resorts to verbal contortions, to eel-like wriggling: ‘I don’t think so. I don’t think in that way. I don’t think otherwise. I don’t think not. I don’t think not not.’

I have to admit that I was incredibly disturbed by this and felt completely indignant when people in the audience asked this teacher for the definitive “Buddhist” perspective on whatever their particular concern was. I know that I should not allow my aversion to completely carry me away but it angers me to see people with a genuine interest in the Dhamma being led completely astray by teachers who indiscriminately use the term Buddhist to label their particular philosophy.  I have no problem with Seon, Zen, Pureland, Yogacara, Madhyamika or other post-canonical Buddhist philosophies and religions but I think it’s important that we be clear about the provenance of our views. If one takes Chinul, Dogen, Amitabha or Atisha to be the authoritative guide for one’s practice that is fine but I do believe that one should make that clear when taking on the role of a teacher. To do otherwise is to do a disservice to the Lord Buddha and to hasten the end of the true Dhamma.

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near  in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. Then Ven. Maha Kassapa went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, “What is the cause, lord, what is the reason, why before there were fewer training rules and yet more monks established in final gnosis, whereas now there are more training rules and yet fewer monks established in final gnosis?”

“That’s the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are degenerating and the true Dhamma is disappearing, there are more training rules and yet fewer monks established in final gnosis. There is no disappearance of the true Dhamma as long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but there is the disappearance of the true Dhamma when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has arisen in the world. Just as there is no disappearance of gold as long as a counterfeit of gold has not arisen in the world, but there is the disappearance of gold when a counterfeit of gold has arisen in the world, in the same way there is no disappearance of the true Dhamma as long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but there is the disappearance of the true Dhamma when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has arisen in the world. 

“It’s not the earth property that makes the true Dhamma disappear. It’s not the water property… the fire property… the wind property that makes the true Dhamma disappear. It’s worthless people who arise right here [within the Sangha] who make the true Dhamma disappear. The true Dhamma doesn’t disappear the way a boat sinks all at once.

“These five downward-leading qualities tend to the confusion and disappearance of the true Dhamma. Which five? There is the case where the monks, nuns, male lay followers, & female lay followers live without respect, without deference, for the Teacher. They live without respect, without deference, for the Dhamma… for the Sangha… for the Training… for concentration. These are the five downward-leading qualities that tend to the confusion and disappearance of the true Dhamma.

“But these five qualities tend to the stability, the non-confusion, the non-disappearance of the true Dhamma. Which five? There is the case where the monks, nuns, male lay followers, & female lay followers live with respect, with deference, for the Teacher. They live with respect, with deference, for the Dhamma… for the Sangha… for the Training… for concentration. These are the five qualities that tend to the stability, the non-confusion, the non-disappearance of the true Dhamma.”

Sources:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/kamma.html

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn16/sn16.013.than.html


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