Saturday, October 06, 2012

Post to the students in here

YBAMMisleading Teachings Deviate From The Right Path of Buddhism

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) recently received a correspondence from the Buddhist Society of a branch campus of a university in Kelantan, stating that members and other undergraduates are influenced by a Theravada monk, leading to transferrence of course of study, and strained relationship with the family members.

The monk started to approach the undergraduates of the said university since March this year.  Activities were carried out without the acknowledgement of the Buddhist Society of the university.  The monk even brought dozens of students to pay a visit to the temples in Thailand for few weeks.  When the semester started in September, these students, of about 30 of them, contacted the faculty and their family about their intention of transferrence from Medical Discipline to other disciplines such as Nutrition or Sport Science.  Some students could not concentrate in their study, and absent from the lectures to participate in the activities organised by the mentioned monk.  Some students even have the intention to withdraw from the university. The university started to show concern on this incident following the request of transferrence of course from these students.

Most of the affected students are the future doctors, with some of them are graduating in next one or two years, and some of them are even the JPA scholarship holders.  However, these students disregard the worries of the family members, as well as the implications of the RM 250,000 compensation that the family is going to make following their irresponsible act, had a falling out with the family, and even threatened to run away from home or to terminate the family relationship.
This monk taught the students that the patients should not receive medication for their condition, as these sicknesses are the results of their Karma.  If one receives treatment for the sickness, this will not eliminate the Karma, and he/she will continue to suffer in the future.  This monk keep stressing about the supernatural power, and telling students that he has the power to know the past, and to predict the future.  He also used the so-called subconciousness method to let students to see their pasts.  These teachings led to the Medical students not willing to, and also dare not to face the patients and corspes.  Some of them even felt the uneasiness and the horror after contacting or facing the patients and corspes.  In addition, this monk also misled the students in the views of the relationship that led to the end of the relationship of a few couples.

YBAM also received some complaints that this monk used the same tactic to approach the Buddhist and youths in the Alor Setar, Kedah.  He also has a centre for students’ gathering in the Klang Valley

In the Buddha’s teaching, we see how the Buddha, as the leader, also concerned his disciples who are sick, and provided necessary medications. The Buddha taught how to integrate ourselves into the society and to benefit the society with our contributions.  The Buddha did not teach us on the unconventional and bizzre ideas, which leads to the worries of our family and friends, or even broken relationships with them.

YBAM hence urge the Buddhist society in the varsities and the local Buddhist societies to pay extra care when dealing with the interactions between the venerables and the disciples, as to avoid the negative implications that might be caused to the students and disciples following such relationship.  Together with other Buddhist organisations, YBAM is also trying with various approaches including the Immigrations, university and family members, not to worsen the development of the incident, and to prevent this monk to bring the students to Thailand in this October again.

May the Blessings of the Triple Gem be with you and your family always.

This blog post is in response to the news above and directed towards the 30+ students who were involved. If anyone can direct them to this I would be very grateful. 

So, hi guys and gals, calm down, I know what might be going through your mind now. I know because I was there, during my teenage years, just before SPM. Oh really you ask? Read on and find out. I'm not a mind-reader, so sorry if my claim is not true after all and didn't help you.

It's true that I did not think of wanting to skip SPM, or STPM or University or even getting a 3 year bond even after getting a strong and close affinity with Buddhism, wanting to become a monk, and attain enlightenment in this very lifetime. This is kinda the effect you'll experience if you go too deep into Theravada teachings too fast, which I believe you guys had from the description above.

Hang on a minute, you ask, I said "too deep", "too fast"? But isn't the teachings of the Buddha the best thing there is in the world? The only thing worth to do in this life is to practise and attain enlightenment? How can there be such a thing as too much Dharma? 

Ah, I would reply, but then what Dharma are you talking about? Learning about the Dharma is not the same as realising it. 
A man is not versed in Dhamma because he speaks much. He who, after hearinga little Dhamma, realizes its truth directly and is not heedless of it, is trulyversed in the Dhamma. -Dhammapada 259
Your actions of wanting to leave the lay-life or university courses without regard for the wishes, social and financial considerations reflects that there is no realisation of both compassion and wisdom. 
Calm down, stop rejecting this statement, it's not a blame, it's just a statement for you to reflect upon. Is it true? Is it really true? Is it the full truth? Calm down and ask yourself. You know the gist: meditate, calm down and throw the question inside of you, wait for the answer to come naturally, unbidden. 

Done that? Calmed down a bit more? Then reflect upon this: Too deep: most of the teachings of the Buddha is directed towards the monks, and they are made so that the monks are constantly reminded not to waste time, but to reflect that death might come anytime, that nothing in this world is worth attaching to. Therefore the only logical, rational, and sane thing to do is to renounce and meditate all the way. Yet, the Buddha also teached for the lay people. He knows that there are some who are not ready to go forth yet. 

You might be ready. You might want to do so now. Yet, it doesn't mean it's the middle way for you.

Each person has their own middle way, 
When I started learning Buddhism on my own, reading the books without joining in a Buddhist Society or having Kalyana-mitta or a teacher to guide me, I had gone so deep and so fast into the theoretical ultimate reality and accepted what I see as obvious truths, that I decided to have "monk" in my email. And thus thinking this is how an enlightened being should view the world (impermanence, suffering, non-self) , this is what an enlighten being would not have think of (greed, hatred, delusion), thus deluded myself into a serious state of depression every moment I discovered myself to deviate from perfection.
That put me out of touch with Buddhism for a while in order to regain my sanity.
It took me years later on to realise “All things in Moderation. Including Moderation.” The way to Enlightenment is not the extreme way that gets you there faster. It is not a intermediate goal to achieve and get rid off so that I can get on with life. It is rather to realise that life itself is impermanent (still don't realise it, just putting it here to say I don't realise it). Now, from my involvement in Tertiary level Buddhist Societies, I am going back into Buddhism, gently, calmly, (sorry I still won't use slowly), practising it step by step with my Kalyana-mitta here and teachers to guide me.-
It's not easy to have the condition to go forth, but it is possible to learn and practise even while we keep our jobs, having a full layperson's life. 

Too fast: are you able to practise mindfulness at every moment in life yet? Have you been to a meditation retreat yet? Or before that have you been to a meditation course yet? Or more a more basic question: do you know what is right mindfulness? It took me years (it's still less than a decade ago that I started to seriously learn Buddhism) and many baby steps, with lots of references from one tradition to another and lots of testing to see what is mindfulness, and yet sometimes I forget what is it too. Buddhism is a gradual path, it's taking baby steps, one at a time to go into the Dharma. That's where we learn not only the meditation part, but also the right thoughts: loving-kindness, compassion, then renunciation. 

Loving-kindness to our parents, our teachers, to your future patients, to wish them well and happy. Compassion, for our parents, our teachers, our fellow Buddhist Community, your future patients, to wish all to be free from suffering. For our parents to be free from financial suffering, for our teachers, to be free from suffering of loss of talented students, for our Buddhist Community to be free from the suffering of bad reputation of Buddhism that this untimely fleeing will bring, and your future patients, to be free from bodily suffering. Compassion is not merely the wish, it's also the ability to remove suffering from these people. Renunciation, to let go of the strong sense of urgency you feel in you, because with wisdom, you see that it's not the right time yet. Even the Dharma is a raft, not to be attached to and certainly not to be a cause of suffering for ourselves and our loved ones. 

I, like you wish to become enlightened as soon as possible, yet, the time is not right yet for me to go forth, so I keep on practising, keep on attending Buddhist activities as a layperson (keeping my main job as priority first, yours is studying), and keep on learning and striving, baby steps. I can still gain enlightenment even as I practise while being a layperson. (Doesn't mean I've not inclined to go forth given the right conditions) There are surprisingly a lot of things to learn as a layperson. Like Physics and Buddhism:, the different traditions of Buddhism, the social, cultural, aspect of Buddhism, the various types of meditation, the various cool activities like Dharma Camps, Buddhist quiz competition, about love and relationships, and about how to present and teach the Dharma. 

Even the Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, and Arahant are not omniscience, they would not know how to teach to the masses of different background unless they had knowledge and experience of it first. Like me, I had some experiences with going too deep, too fast, therefore (if you're still reading and kinda calmed down by my words and see your "error" by now) I can help guide you. Of course there's nothing wrong with wanting to know more Dharma, but everything in moderation, realise it, and you'll realise, even moderation in moderation. 

Make sure your parents, teachers, friends have the right impression of the Dharma by internalizing it, by setting a good example, by being a good Buddhist role model, there upon, they would be more willing and open to your idea of renunciation of worldly life, and to Buddhism in general. The best way of spreading the Dharma is to be a living example of the benefits of the Dharma. Not the knowledge, but the realisation. It might take you a while yet to realise these, but give it time, and meanwhile continue your studies. 

A doctor is doubly blessed in practising. First, (s)he is able to do good deeds by saving their patients, the morality aspect is strong. Second, he is able to see suffering right in the face everyday. A good reminder and practise to be able to see the first Noble truth while tell us to understand suffering. If you are suffering now from all these situation, see and understand this suffering, what is the cause of it? (attachment to the knowledge of Dharma?) what is the way to the end of it? (letting go of mere knowledge, see the moon behind the finger) What is the middle path in your situation?

So be glad to be a doctor. Be not afraid to see corpses (there is a certain meditation on corpses, but should be balanced with metta meditation), be not afraid to save people's lives like the Buddha who take cares of the sick. 
"He who attends on the sick attends on me," -Buddha
If you need medical guidance, here's a group for your reference and guidance in Singapore: Medical Dharma Circle. 
It has not gone unnoticed that the Buddhist aim of eliminating suffering coincides with the objectives of medicine (Duncan et al, 1981; Soni, 1976). The Buddhist emphasis on compassion finds natural expression in the care of the sick, and according to the Vinaya the Buddha himself stated "Whoever, O monks, would nurse me, he should nurse the sick" (Zysk, 1991:41). Buddhist clergy and laity have been involved with the care of the sick for over two thousand years. The Indian Buddhist emperor Asoka states in his second Rock Edict that provision has been made everywhere in his kingdom for medical treatment for both men and animals, and that medicinal herbs suitable for both have been imported and planted. -
Join your local Buddhist Society, get to know Kalyana Mitra (Spiritual friends), because 
Then Ananda came to the Lord (Buddha) and said: "Half of the holy life is friendship, association and intimacy with the spiritual." "Say not so! It is the whole of the holy life, not half, this friendship, this association, this intimacy with the spiritual."
-Samyutta Nikaya V:2
And here, I have to stop. One final word, be sure not to defame Buddhism as it might deny many the opportunity and open mindedness to learn, to practise, to realise and to share. Do that by being the lay Buddhist Role Model: and follow the gradual path of Thank you for reading. 

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