Ringu Tulku Rinpoche at Dance Studio

 Last night, 8th February 2011, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche continued his time in Thailand with a talk on the Foolishness of Samsara. Looking a little tired after a Dhamma talk in the afternoon also Rinpoche nonetheless managed to inspire, amuse and encourage people in Dhamma.

The gist of the talk was how foolish negative emotions can be. ‘Samsara’ he said, is not a place but a state of mind. When you act from the Samsara mind, you are being foolish.

On the other hand, what is Dhamma? Is it circumambulating the temple? Is it reading scripture, is it meditating? When you work on your negative emotions you come to understand the Samsara mind, and this is real dhamma practise. He says that many times people go to him asking for mantras to recite, bowing or visualisation practises to be given them … but really those people just need to work on their own negative emotions.

This is quite refreshing for Tibetan Buddhism which seems so enmeshed in esoteric ‘secret’ teachings, empowerments, mantras etc… Rinpoche has a beautiful way of making things seem obvious and direct. Asked last week about the empowerments in Tibetan Buddhism, he replied they are simply a teaching…

Talking about gratitude to parents, he acknowledged that this is a tricky topic with Westerners. They have too many expectations of their parents, which then makes it hard to give appreciation or gratitude.

Here below, as promised is a short classic video by Shel Silverstein, narrated by himself, on the topic of parenting:

Another topic mentioned by Rinpoche several times was Klesha – which in the Pali is Kilesa, translated as ‘Defilements’ (‘gilet’ in Thai). There are 10 in number

  • Lobha – greed
  • Dosa – anger
  • Moha – delusion (not the same as avicca – ignorance)
  • Mana – conceit
  • Ditthi – wrong view
  • Vicikiccha – doubting
  • Thina – sloth
  • Uddhacca – restlessness
  • Ahirika – shamelessness
  • Anottappa – lack of moral conscience

He also mentioned a sutta in the Mahayana …. an equivalent (almost) teaching in the Pali Theravada is

Greed – slow to arise, slow to dissipate, not too blameworthy

Hate – quick to arise, quick to dissipate, very blameworthy

Delusion – quick to arise, slow to dissipate and very blameworthy

Rinpoche will continue with teachings this week and next – his vigour is much appreciated by us all.

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About Cittasamvaro

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36 Responses to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche at Dance Studio

  1. Marcus says:

    “Talking about gratitude to parents, he acknowledged that this is a tricky topic with Westerners. They have too many expectations of their parents, which then makes it hard to give appreciation or gratitude.”

    I don’t believe there is any great and fundamental distiction between ‘westerners’ and others in this or in any other field. Yet almost every time I go to a Dharma talk I hear someone say “westerners this” or “westerners that” – and what they are saying rarely stands up under scrutiny.

    And the ‘westerners this, westerners that’ is always at the expense of the westerner. Do you remember the other week here in Bangkok when the story was told of some westerners cutting their feet when walking in a Thai forest? The monk said “how typical of unmindful westerners’ – and the whole audience laughed.

    Would anyone laugh at a Thai person making a mistake the first time they use a knife and fork? Would priests laugh and say “how unmindful!” and everyone laugh? No. But the whole Littlebang Sangha laughed at some westerners who cut their feet, putting it down as an as an example of western unmindfulness rather than put it down to the fact that people don’t walk barefoot in forests in the west!

    It happens all the time. The Buddhist blogs and Buddhist books can hardly start a sentence without trying to contrast western and Buddhist thinking. Totally ignoring the fact that the ‘west’ is the most racially and cultural diverse region on the planet. Any major European city, for example, is made up of westerners from thousands of different backgrounds and heritages.

    My own family, for example, are they Asian? Western? My (ex) Thai wife lives in the UK. Is she western or Asian or both? Are our children Asian? Or western? How does this fit in with these easy (and lazy and prejudicial) distinctions made so often in Dharma talks?

    Phra Pandit, you’ve been here in Thailand for umpteen years, are you Asian or western? Do you “have too many expectations of [your] parents, which then makes it hard to give appreciation or gratitude”?

    Marcus

    • Cittasamvaro says:

      Typical farang comment!

      • Marcus says:

        LOL! Great response! Made me laugh, thank you! 555!

        (Sorry I couldn’t make it last night by the way, busy day at work. Sounds like I missed a good talk.)

        Marcus _/\_

    • John says:

      Marcus:

      Your comment is interesting and contains a grain of truth. However, there are indeed many differences between east and west, your attempt to make it seem otherwise notwithstanding.

      The larger issue with your comment is that discrimination in all forms exists much more openly in the east/Asian countries that in the west, I believe. This regards age, sex, disablitiy, religion, height, weight, appearance, nationality to name the most prevelant ones. The fact that it manifests in Asian sanghas should therefore not be a surprise. I know an American woman who passed the oral entrance examination to a Tibetan medical school in India(the exam was in spoken Tibetan) only to be denied entry to the program, by lamas no less, because she was an American woman. So, you see, it happens everywhere.

      This is somewhat off-topic but I think you are correct to expect better of the sangha, whether east or west.

      • Marcus says:

        Thanks John.

        I think what bugs me is the amount of times I’ve heard people (laypeople, monks, asians, westerners, all) say things like “Buddhism is difficult dor westerners because……” or “Westerners have problems with this because……”

        Is Buddhism so difficult? Do you really need asian genes to avoid evil, do good, and purify the mind? Or are people just trying to form a club, or show how advanced they are, or how much they have left their old (less cool) personas behind them?

        I mean, I’m perfectly sure that if I go to a church in England I won’t find any vicars saying “Christianity is difficult for Asians because…..” or “Asians have problems with this because….”!

        All the best,

        Marcus

      • Cittasamvaro says:

        That is very true. In fact, I think that Buddhism might even be easier for Westerners to practise, being less stuck on set formulas …. but as only the very keen take it up, that view might well be biased.

    • Kirsten says:

      Marcus, I’ve been thinking about this too!

      I wanted to disagree a bit with Rinpoche, re Westerners not appreciating our parents enough. I wanted to say a) If a parent has been violent, alcoholic/drug addict, abusive or very neglectful, while we might have forgiven that person and feel compassion for them, their image still might not be an ideal focus for generating feelings of loving kindness and gratitude; and b) children in the West are often not just “byproducts”, they tend to be planned, which I think places some onus of responsibility on the parents to consider their motives for bringing a new person into this world and their capacity to do all right by that person. However, I felt that it might have been a faux pas to argue.

      I get sick of people, including disenchanted Westerners, dissing Western culture (which, as you say, is diverse) — especially saying that we’re unspiritual, materialistic, whatever, perhaps without — it seems to me — great knowledge of our various spiritual and philosophical traditions past and present, or of our social traditions, their origins and raisons-d’etres. (No doubt we’ve wrought a plague of materialism, but it isn’t our whole or only story!)

      I have had “Westerners this and that” said to me and played the clown, knowing that no harm was meant. But I also wished a little that I had stood up to it. To me there’s a whiff of well-meaning, paternalistic racism about it — the “white man’s burden” on another foot.

      At these dhamma talks and interaction with Buddhist clergy in general, I’m never sure how much one can argue or challenge. Is it ok to dispute publicly, or is it considered enough to just dispute a question in one’s own mind? I do understand that language issues can make argument or any kind of extended discussion difficult — it’s easy to end up talking at cross purposes if words are misunderstood. (Easy enough to do in your own language!)

      • Kirsten says:

        P.S. Didn’t mean to imply that family planning is just a Western thing when it’s obviously not! I just don’t know anything about the impact it has had on parent-child relationships in non-Western countries. I get the impression that in the (hugely generalised) West we tend to say “You chose to have me, and of course being a parent is hard — if you want a bundle of joy, get a kitten — but you put me in this world, for reasons of your own, and if you make my time here awful, I’m not obliged to feel any gratitude to you.” And I wonder what a Buddhist response to that would be — without getting into speculation about us choosing our parents before we’re born.

    • Cittasamvaro says:

      “their image still might not be an ideal focus for generating feelings of loving kindness and gratitude”
      I quite agree Kirsten. The Asian take on Westerner’s relations with their parents is that the children expect too much, and should be more grateful. Talking to the non-Thai Aisan student monks in my uni family is hugely important to them. They spend practically all their few baht on trips home, and they cannot imagine anyone not wanting to do so. But when parenting has been genuinely bad/cold/distant/abusive then parents are definitely not a good object for this meditation. This point was aknowledged by Rinpoche and also the lama he was referring to, as they suggested changing the focus onto one’s pet or other being that one loves.
      “if you want a bundle of joy get a kitten” hehehe
      Personally I am a big fan of Western culture and of mankind’s progress. Too much focus on environmental changes and materialism has overshadowed the massive strides our world has taken. We are the safest, healthiest, most free and cohesive as mankind (personkind ..) has ever been. Most importantly we have leisure time which allows for spiritual pursuits. It is not for vanity that the world’s nations seek to ‘Westernise’.

      • Marcus says:

        “if you want a bundle of joy, get a kitten”

        LOL! So funny! Thanks Kirsten! And yes, I agree with you totally on being tired of people dissing wholesale ‘western culture’, as if it meant only one thing.

        And Phra Pandit Bhikku, again, I agree with you. There may be things about the ‘west’ that’s no so great, but most of the world is keen to have the freedoms, stability, environmental standards, political and human rights, etc that they see there.

        Thank you for a very nice discussion.

      • Kirsten says:

        That video is quite a tearjerker!

        I think our expectations of other people — parents, children, partners (and everyone else, I guess) — are definitely worth interrogating. And our expectations of ourselves, and where those came from…actually, it seems like a fascinating area to investigate!

  2. victoria says:

    If dispersion of negative emotions is the only way to escape from Samsara,people may allways have to say:” beautiful, nice, interesting”, even they don’t think so -))

  3. Pornchai Pacharin-Tanakun says:

    Rinpoche also talked about three ways wisdom may arise:
    1. Wisdom arising from listening, seeing, reading, etc. (Sutamaya panna)
    2. Wisdom arising from thinking, reasoning, contemplating, etc. (Cintamaya panna)
    And 3. Wisdom arising from mind development, meditation, mindfulness, etc. (Bhavanamaya panna)

  4. Cittasamvaro says:

    I find quite a few differences between ‘Westerners’ and Asians. It’s not a huge deal, and fundamentally we are the same as beings in ignorance, driven by greed hate and delusion …
    yet there are demonstrable differences. Richard Nisbet in Geography of Thought outlines many experiments (which you can try with friends too) that point to deep rooted differences in the interpretation of the world – mostly between Chinese and American cultures.
    Family is definitely one of them. It’s only a generalisation, but Asians are much more family-centric IMO.
    For instance my parents did not like me being a monk and so despite taking foreign holidays every year I did not see them for over 7 years. When they did stop by in Thailand the motivation was not good. Most Thai families that I have seen are very close.
    Regarding the barefoot almsround – this is one contention of mine. Asian culture sees it as somehow ‘holy’ to walk about the street with no shoes on. This is unfathomable to myself. Such is worse than superstition, and I can’t see it as anything but ritualistic foolishness.

  5. Marcus says:

    Oh no!

    I knew someone would talk about Thais being more family-centred than westerners! Many Thais believe this to be the case, many foriegners even like to think this is the case for some reason (love of the new country they are in?), but it just isn’t so!

    The mother of my (ex) Thai wife encouraged her to earn money as a go-go dancer when she was 15. Thankfully, she said no (too shy!), but this is normal behaviour in the north east of Thailand. It is normal for mothers in Issan to sell their kids into prostitution (not for food, but for mobile phones and beer and gambling debts). How is that being more family-centred? I mean, the sex industry in Thailand goes right down to the village level.

    And did you see the Bangkok Post this week? Did you read about those two 80-odd year old women living alone with no income and living on rats and toads? After they were in the newspaper the villagers made a big show of coming to their rescue, but before it got to the newspaper – where was the neighbourly and family support then?

    That’s just a one-off case. But the level of abuse of elderly people in Asia is something that is only now coming to light. (Hidden, in the past, partly thanks to this asumption that Asians are so much more family-loving). Again, I’m NOT saying that this is a problem more for Asia than the west, I am saying that the prejudice that it is not is actually harmful.

    Even from my own experience among urban and midle-class Thais, the pressure on kids and parents strike me as more mercantile than anything else. Parents demand support form their kids regardless of what their children may want. Of course, when talking to a monk people will watch what they say (like Ajarn Brahm who, to this day, still thinks Thais don’t cry at funerals because, as a monk, he’s never seen them do so) but live with a Thai family for a bit and wow, this idea they are so much more loving than western families soon falls away!

    I am not saying that Thais are less loving than western families mind. I am saying that the false distinction between East and West is unhelpful and prejudicial and prevents one from seeing reality.

    Marcus

    • John says:

      Marcus, if you went to the Church of England and talked about Thai Buddhism as being equal to Christianity, I’m sure you’d get an earful. You’d probably hear that Thai Buddhists are “lost” in the eyes of God, and that accepting and believing in Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation for all of mankind. You’d hear something quite similar from most so-called Christians in the US, too.

      But I still think you are correct to expect better from the Thai sangha.

      • Marcus says:

        Cheers John, but that wasn’t my point!

        My point was that I’m sure I’d never hear in church the kind of stereotpying that I often hear (from many sources) in the Buddhist world. I’m sure I’d never hear (in my lifetime) a sentence beginning “Christianity is difficult for asians because……”

        (Yet I’ve heard the senntence “Buddhism is difficult for westerners because….” many many times).

      • Marcus says:

        (By the way, different point, I think that the official line of the Anglican church is to respect people of other religions, believe that their traditions have much to teach Christians, whilst at the same time, their own Christian beliefs are strongly held. When I tok formal refuge as a Buddhist some years ago, I recieved a letter of congratulations from a friend of mine who is a Catholic priest, my Anglican friends also shared my happiness and Quaker friends of mine were also pleased for me. Never in my years as a Buddhist have any of my Christian friends – including Thai Christians and English Christians – suggested I am “lost”! LOL! But that is an aside!)

    • Cittasamvaro says:

      I still think Asian culture is more family-centric. That does not mean ‘happy family-centric’ as it is not all roses. However family seems to be much more important to Asian people than for some Western countries.
      That is also probably true for ‘Catholic’ cultures – where family is also much stronger. England must rate amongst the worst/most ambivalent towards family. But my own experience probably makes me bias here too.

  6. Marcus says:

    Ah, yes, I see what you mean. I hadn’t thought of it like that before. Yes, good point. Thank you.

    • John says:

      I know this thread has neared its end but one thing keeps coming back to me. It is that both Marcus and Kirsten miss, completely, the point that no response from them is necessary, or advisable. Wouldn’t it be better if you did a little Dharma practice? That’s what Rinpoche’s talk was all about.

      Rinpoche taught mind training, controlling the mind and transforming negative emotions, becoming aware of our own ignorance, attachement, and aversion. Wouldn’t it be better if you did some Dharma practice? Or, does this mean that you are going to be upset every time you hear a bit of discrimination sent in your direction? I mean, I’m discriminated and stereotyped everyday, all day… so what? Can you have compassion and understanding for others whose views are different than yours? Is it possible that those moments could become moments for practicing and developing patience, and to deepen your resolve to help all sentient beings?

      Better to put leather on your own feet than to cover the entire world. Are you watching how your mind reacts to all of this? What will happen in your mind the next time it happens, because it will?

      • Kirsten says:

        “I’m discriminated and stereotyped everyday, all day… so what?” > I think the “so what” is contingent upon what’s at stake. As far as Western-yada-yada goes, sure, it’s no biggie, which is why I’m just having a quiet backstage whinge rather than waving a placard.

        I don’t think compassion is at odds with honest debate in the name of clearing up misunderstandings — nor at odds with a bit of minor kvetching. Letting off a little steam in a safe place can make it easier to be patient and compassionate when it counts most.

        I also don’t think I missed the point that a response might not be needed. In my original post I asked whether it is considered enough to debate a question in one’s own mind rather than with a teacher.

        I don’t want to be rid of all aversions and attachments. I only want to be able to choose, as far as it may be possible, which ones to keep and which to discard, and to be able to notice when an aversion or attachment is getting too powerful, and put the brakes on. Right now, I don’t see this aversion as too big or in danger of growing bigger.

        On that note, think I’ll buzz off before the Spanish Inquisition brings the comfy chair!

      • Marcus says:

        John,

        If you are seriously saying that no response or discussion is necessary or even advisable, that it is better to remain silent, I can only wonder why you are posting here. If your advice is to remain silent, why don’t you take it?

        Personally, I don’t believe in remaining silent in the face of discrimination, prejudice, unfairness, racism and so on. Sure, like Kirsten says, and I totally agree, one has to pick carefully just what one raises, but the fact is, we are having a discussion here among Dharma brothers and sisters – not raising placards.

        To which end, John, I’d suggest that open and compassionate discussion is just what is necessary. I personally know Phra Pandit and Kirsten and the discussion we are having here could just as well happen at any Littlebang meeting. I’m not sure that I know you John (apologies if I do!) so why not carry on this discussion at the next Littlebang event? It’s easy to find me, anyone can point me out to you.

        And I promise that I won’t respond to everything you say with “better to just watch the mind and remain silent” or “can you provide a textual reference for that”!

        All the best,

        Marcus

  7. John says:

    Kirsten: with regard to a couple of your comments. One is that I don’t recall Rinpoche ever mentioning that one should “blow off steam before” practicing compassion – never heard of this prerequisite in Buddhist teachings. It’s always been a simple message: practice compassion.

    The other, that you’ll “pick and choose” your attachments and aversions, is frankly, a criticism I’ve heard from lamas for a long time regarding westerners (I’m a westerner, so I can say this). That is, that westerners want to pick-and-choose what parts of the teachings they want to follow (and that eastern students don’t do this) Again, I’ve never heard any lama say this is how the path works. Can you provide a reference to any Buddhist text that advises what you say?

    • Marcus says:

      “westerners want to pick-and-choose what parts of the teachings they want to follow (and that eastern students don’t do this)”

      Yeah, right! LOL! There are no Buddhists in Thai prisons, right?! ‘Eastern’ Buddhists don’t pick and choose the teachings they follow – they follow the lot! Oh, come on! I’ve seen laypeople in a temple being asked how many precepts they’d follow that day and raising their fingers for the number!

      (Great – better to follow just one precept fully rather than be half-hearted about all five or more, but the idea that ‘eastern’ students don’t pick and choose which part of practice they want to follow is nonsense!)

      • Marcus says:

        And quite right too – the Buddha himself talked about taking what it useful to you and leaving the rest for later when it might or might not also be useful.

      • John says:

        I guess what I sensed was that 1)Marcus, you did not attend Rinpoche’s talk and 2) you took one commment from a second-hand report of Rinpoche’s ‘westerners critique’ (which was only a few words and moments of the entire talk) and made it a main theme here – a bit of a ‘straw-man argument.” At that point, much of the discussion became an off-topic rant.

        I was responding to that and to what seemed to be irrelevant and unrelated complaining. So, to be more precise with my comment about the discussion: stop complaining. I was there, I heard the comment – no complaints here.

        Don’t you think it would be better if you practiced a little Dharma?

    • Kirsten says:

      Good gosh no, I can’t provide a reference and certainly didn’t mean to imply that I thought Rinpoche said any such thing about blowing off steam. In the above comment I only stated my subjective position. I didn’t make any claims for that position being anyone else’s.

      If there’s no room for taking on “some but not all”, or for maintaining some positions that work psychologically for me while working on some other positions that seem in more urgent need of attention (and for making my own calls about what I attend to and when) then I guess there’s no room for me — as my honest self, not pretending to be more pious than I am — in a Buddhist sangha. Which I really don’t think is the case. People at Little Bang have seemed very willing to take me as I am, and to be gentle and not hit me over the head with more dogma and directives than I can take, and because of that easy-does-it attitude I think I’ve been able to learn a little and grow a little.

      And for sure, I agree with Marcus about talking in RL if you want to. 🙂

    • Cittasamvaro says:

      Well I for one am glad when some voices or constructive opinions are raised. I have bought into the ‘Western family’ stereotype (as my own reflects it) but now I will definitely think again thanks to the comments. This is what Sangha is about – sharing, expressing and growing.

  8. Bill Z says:

    According to the 4 Noble Truths there is Dukkha in this world, currently through its hegemony do the western powers not perpetuate this Dukkha? In a democracy how much are we responsible for the actions of our government? Individuals all over the world work not to attach to desires to overcome this suffering (whether as Buddhists or not), so using general terms we are not speaking of all people – of all westerners. Do we not act compassionately by making people aware of the contributions of the hegemonic power to world suffering?

    Global progress as carried out in the West and social advantage gained through accumulation of finance and resources cannot be seen in isolation. “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” by Walter Rodney is one book which describes how wealth and progress of the colonial power are not separate from damage caused to others. This damage continues today where the children of the globally wealthy and powerful choose to be educated in the West impoverishing the intellectual capital of these countries whilst promoting western interests therein.

    A religion is part of a culture, and therefore it must be easier for individuals within that culture to follow that religion – even if it is only through conforming. For the majority of western people who have attempted to follow Buddhism they have made a decision to reject this conformity to their own culture. Furthermore we live in Thailand, therefore as individuals we are far from the conforming individuals who quite naturally form the societies of our birth. I have observed as a teacher in western education a system which promotes self and ego, and further the intellectual breakdown of knowledge into separate subjects is an indication of an approach that does not sit well with the holistic natural system I perceive Buddhism to be. Because of our education systems as westerners we have much to deal with on our Paths.

    How western Buddhists follow Buddhism is a different question? In discussions with some Thais, what I describe as Buddhism has little to do with the temple for example. How true is it that western Buddhist teachers come to the East to learn, but then don’t take back all that they have learnt – especially ritual? Isn’t the more interesting and less contentious question “what should western Buddhist follow?”? Is ritual cultural or is it part of understanding? Are there cultural aspects of Buddhism that as westerners we need not follow on our Paths?

    In the UK pressures placed on the family to earn two incomes together with the pressures placed on careerists to put their career before their family in my view contribute to family difficulties. Although single myself I would like to see more emphasis in the UK to be placed on the family and helping parents bring up their children, but why just in the UK? From a personal point of view in the different countries I have worked I have seen a greater attachment to family than is generally the case in the UK, whilst I don’t think so this could just be a personal viewpoint – it is hard to judge.

    • John says:

      Bill Z. The first of the Four Noble Truths is that “Suffering exists.” Generally, in this context the reasons for it are not associated with any particular political, social, or economic system. As mind training emphasizes, it is our mind which is the root and cause of suffering (as well as the solution to end it). Do not the Chinese, Iranian, Russian, (insert a government here) pertetuate suffering, also? I’d say this is not what the Four Noble Truths were explicitly addressing.

      I think there are a number of reasons why westerners don’t teach what they’ve learned, especially ritual. It could boil down to one or two concepts: they are not qualified to teach ritual or they aren’t authorized to teach ritual.

      Not being qualified simply means they don’t have experiential knowledge of a ritual’s outer, inner, and secret meanings, and they don’t know all of the elements that go into a ritual: setting up the altar, the temple, overseeing chopin activities, providing for the proper offerings, etc.

      Not being authorized means that one’s guru or lineage would need to grant permission to an individual to teach. Such authorization would rely heavily on whether the person has reached the necessary level of realization. I believe there are a few westerners that are authorized, but generally, at least in the Tibetan traditions, Tibetan lamas, or higher, are the one’s who teach.

      There could be a certain amount of discrimination in the fact that westerners are not allowed to teach ritual, but the Tibetans are pretty protective of these teachings and lineages.

      • billzant says:

        Dear John,

        Thanks very much for your reply, and apologies for my delay in replying. Personally I think this thread has much of interest, and in its disparate nature one can see much to be considered about East and West and Buddhism.

        I too have always thought of the 4NT in terms of attachment to desire and the Path that one can follow to help with that. But does that mean that we cannot see the current temporary aspect of the suffering systemically? On a personal level greed, lobha, can be seen as an important cause of suffering, when that greed becomes systematised as capitalism the system itself becomes a source of additional suffering. As many of us have found, the power of politics and greed in the world of work militates against the spiritual path, the mind not attaching to desire is the path to happiness but it is made far harder when compassion is discouraged in the workplace.

        In the thread we were discussing attitudes to the West, and I referred to the Western hegemony. Most international criticism of Western countries concerns their global influence and interference, I completely agree that the governments of the countries you mention contribute to their own nation’s suffering as do governments in general, aspiring to members of such usually being based on lobha.

        I attended a Tibetan group in the UK for a short while, and found the people good and kind. After a while I began to question the ritual – it was like reciting a catholic mass without understanding what I was saying. I asked the people who said they were following their guru, and that following was what was required of them. Their practise made them good people, but I could not follow their ritual without agreeing – without removing my ignorance as I saw it. (I note this was the New Kadampa Tradition which has disagreements with HHDL.) My discussions with Thai Buddhists tend to follow the pattern where they say this is what we do at the temple because this is the way Thais have always done it to make merit. I ask why, and get no answer. I am not disputing that they are making merit, but I favour the ability to ask questions and search for answers – I consider this something that I have gained from western education and as a teacher it is a difference I have noticed in the attitude of Eastern and Western students. Beyond what I have described above I know little of Tibetan practise so I do not know whether western Tibetan Buddhists practise ritual or not, you appear to suggest that they are not allowed to.

        I would like to make two observations concerning Eastern rituals. Bhante referred to the barefoot almsround. Wasn’t this prescribed at the time of the Buddha when people walked in bare feet? Many Thais as children walk around in bare feet, shivers run up my back as I watch the children on my soi playing football etc. in bare feet. For such an upbringing would the almsround provide hardship on the feet? As for meditation posture the lotus position is learnt as children in Thailand, and some will choose to sit lotus on a chair. For untrained western joints sitting lotus is no easy matter, at the least it takes time to learn. Whilst there is more than ritual in the lotus posture for meditation, is that so for bare feet? Whilst discipline is significant in practice do some aspects of Buddhist teaching methodology exclude westerners because of a teacher’s cultural bias? Is questioning included in this? Without the tradition supporting them are there western teachers straying from the Path?

  9. Marcus says:

    John: “Don’t you think it would be better if you practiced a little Dharma?”

    LOL! If this were any other Internet forum, this comment of yours would see the thread go down in one huge argument!

    Instead, we are friends here in the Dharma and, though your comment is insulting and patronising, I’m going to agree with you.

    See you soon John. Will you be at the meet and eat on Thursday?

    Marcus

  10. Marcus says:

    Oh, John, let me add that I’m serious! I really do think it would be better if we just met up and had a chat in real life!

    It is the nature of the Internet that things get stretched into extreme positions.

    Badly worded phrases, being down in black and white, get taken too seriously – as I just did to yours, sorry – and positions threby adopted.

    And people find it hard to let go of arguments and so keep pushing for that last word – and again I’m guilty! LOL! So I’ll make this my last comment!

    Really, you know what I look like from my avatar, most Littlebangers know me, so come and say hello on Thursday or at any other event.

    In real life, positions lose that hard Internet urgency and damaging solidity. In real life I can ask you about your day and your life and we can talk about more than just our opinion on the last comment on an Internet thread!

    All the best John and hopefull speak soon,

    Marcus

    PS – nice to see you here BillZ. Any plans to make it up to Bangkok in the near future?

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