THE BUDDHIST MONK BUBBLE WORLD

NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA

NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA

NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMASAMBUDDHASSA

Translation: May veneration be presented to the exalted one who is a Buddha and has achieved enlightenment by himself righteously.

THE BUDDHIST MONK BUBBLE WORLD

This piece that I now write is about the abuse that many Farang (a word that means foreigner but is usually taken to mean Westerner) Buddhist monks have to put up with. The moment some people set eyes on a Farang monk they A. know that we speak English, and B. therefore see us as a soft target for what ever outlandish abuse they feel like handing out. There are many very distraught and outright social unfortunates traveling S.E. Asia now a days and when they see a Farang Buddhist monk it’s their opportunity to start dishing it. After all, aren’t Buddhist suppose to be submissive and docile and willing to take any and all abuse? Are we not suppose to just bend over and lick it up? We’re Buddhist aren’t we? What is really interesting is that much of the time they will seek to bait someone such as myself for a negative reaction by claiming that I’m not a “real” Buddhist monk, or with what ever other abuse they have to offer, but then if they get some response that can be at least interpreted as disagreeable, they’ll want to hold us to their perceived at their convenience standard of a real Buddhist monk by claiming that we’re not behaving as we should!

The situation that I will discuss is a classic example of this type of sick minded and abusive behavior. About 3 years ago I met a man who told me that his name was Steve while staying in a Chulia St. Guest house. The reason why I have often stayed at a guest house is because with a situation like Penang, Malaysia there just aren’t many temples to stay at considering that a traveling monk is usually given about 3 to 7 days per temple and not allowed to stay as long as they wish or may have a need to do so. At this rate I wouldn’t last very long in Penang if I wanted to stay longer for any reason other than to get a guest house room or sleep on the street. There are other reasons why I might not want to stay at a temple, but because I don’t consider it necessary to to air any dirty monastic laundry I’ll mention only what I have.
Myself and Steve had a conversation where he didn’t seem to like my point of view. As an example, I’m not a Jew hater who denies the holocaust and who thinks that the Jewish bankers are plotting to take over the world, nor do I believe for that matter that Asian’s should be called “Gooks” (you’ll see that in the lower portion of the letter that he recently left at the front desk for me). I doubt that the Chinese individual or individuals helping him with the Chinese translation on this know that Steve considers them “gooks”. It’s true that I don’t warm kindly to Islam, but I’ll note here that I certainly do see a difference between Islam on the one hand and those who consider themselves “Muslim” on the other, the same way that I have had people tell me that they don’t like the the Canadian Government or the U.S. Government or the British Government etc. but would not confuse that with the citizens of Canada or America or Great Britain.
It was about 3 year’s later now that he shows up and still apparently with a resentment for the conversation that took place 3 years earlier! Pretty sane and mature behavior, don’t you think? He leaves me an 8 page long ranting diatribe against Buddhism that showed no coherent thought what so ever with the desk clerk as I was outside occupied with a conversation with someone else, and gave the instructions “Don’t give it to him until 60 seconds after I leave”. I was concerned. Who would leave this and do it in such a cowardly and sneaky manner? When I found out who it was I approached him in the lobby and told him just what I thought of his behavior, and yes, I mentioned that I thought that some sort of medication would probably do him some good and asked him to please not hurt anybody. Could I have behaved in more of a tolerant manner? Perhaps, although then there would always be someone who would want to consider me “condescending” for doing so. It’s difficult to please everybody’s expectation of how you should behave in a situation like this. I talked to him honestly, and didn’t use any vulgarity, nor did I lose my temper and raise my voice at him.  As it turns out, some people can handle an adult conversation, and some just can’t.

His childish and malicious response to our last conversation has been to go on a silly poster campaign. To compare the different versions he can’t decide whether I’m an American or a Canadian. He claims that I’m a fraudulent monk (which is a common accusation if someone doesn’t like you, this is aided by the fact that there are many “monks” who are simply people playing the role), that I’m staying in “luxury tourist hotels” and that I’m a homosexual who look’s “tall, fat, and stupid”. He mentions in his letter to me his resentment that I converted from Christianity to Buddhism, and I know that there are many white Christians who have a hard time with that. When they see a Christian Pastor of some sort who is Asian, of course they have no such problems, it’s all good then! Obviously this is not a rational and thoughtful sort of fellow we’re dealing with here, he might just as well say that he thinks that my nose is crooked or that my hair looks too short. I think we should all feel very sorry for him, they say misery loves company, and I know this man must be in a lot of personal misery. The very first time I saw him several year’s ago he was intoxicated in front of the Banana Guest House on Chulia St. wearing a home made pirate costume while brandishing a cardboard and aluminum pirates sword. Quite frankly, I believe that a Batman costume would suit him much better. Having said that, don’t expect me to publish the photo that I have of Steve, I don’t believe that it would be productive in any way that he should be publicly humiliated for what would seem to be his rather sad and pitiful state of affairs.

So this is just one example of the type of silliness that many of us have to put up with, because when you expose yourself to all that the world has to offer, it’s not always going to be good. I have had people spit on the ground at me and tell me that as a Buddhist monk I’m a traitor to the Anglo Saxon race. Where do you even begin to try to reach someone with such out the back door dirty fanny scratching ignorance? Then there’s the guy who spot’s me on Love Lane about a month ago, and his eye’s light up! A Farang Buddhist monk! Why, Just what he was looking for! He invites me for some conversation, but when I don’t show the same enthusiasm for the writings of Mr. Jack Kornfield that he has, he starts freaking out. “You f*cking a$$hole!, you should take your robe and burn it! He go’s on and on, freaking out, but this mind you was after he tells me that he has been studying under the most well known Buddhist masters for the past 30 years! The next day when we happen to met in the street, he explains that this is what is called “Zen Buddhism”! He then tells me that the great Zen masters would kick the crap out of their students when they didn’t “get it”! You see folks, this is a good reason why many S.E. Asian monk’s who speak English, pretend that they don’t, they simply don’t need the ignorant silliness. Most live in a bubble world that is for the most part socially insulated from the rest of this, where their own society would never disrespect them, and this in turn is where the Buddhist monk image is born, of the always submissive, docile and polite Buddhist monk who would never show the slightest disagreement about anything! They are then led to believe that someone who follows a spiritual path in life should just bend over and lick up whatever it is that is being served to them, and if they don’t then it should be construed as a mark against the credibility of their spiritual character! This of course, is not actually the teaching or example given to us by the Venerable Gotama in our Pali Canon Tipitaka.

In their insulated little bubble world most Theravada  monks never have to navigate this type of silliness.  Thank goodness it’s not all like this!

Pali Canon Tipitaka, Sutta Pitaka
M.N.#58 Abhaya Sutta: To Prince Abhaya
(On Right Speech)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
(excerpt)

[1] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.”

Sadly for some people, never is the right time, but that doesn’t mean that some things still aren’t needed to be said or done.

This is only one scriptural example of many that can be given for this topic, although I don’t see any good reason not to leave it at that.

In the following collection of photo’s you’ve got the different versions of temper tantrum poster that Steve has posted, the first of the three of these versions is the original one posted about three months ago, the following two are more recent, a letter that this very sad man left for me at the front desk lately as well as a close up of the lower portion of that letter.  Then we have the most recent endevior of his as of this posting, along with a letter left for me. I’ll be going to Cambodia in a few weeks (a trip I’ve planned for some time now) and then it’s off to Germany. I can only sincerely wish my friend Steve sincerely the very best, and hope that he someday finds whatever it takes to help ease his incredibly distraught misery.

The other day when I got on the bus, a man got up and while bowing a little lower, offered me his seat. It is no exaggeration to say that contrary to being arrogant about it, I felt very humbled by it, like a humble little boy. I can say sincerely, that although I am by no means at the moment absolutely perfect at any of this, I earnestly strive on a daily basis to be someone who qualifies for such loving kindness from a total stranger. I do not take such loving kindness for granted. My efforts regarding my practice as a Buddhist monk, center around spiritually developing myself well enough to be able to give something better to others, including people such as Steve something better than they have now to help ease their suffering and to offer them better than what they have now for a brighter future. That may sound too idealistic for some, but not to me. You can’t give it if you don’t have it.  Peace of mind is priceless. 

Double clicking any photo should enable give a better view of the photo taken if you have any photograph software installed.

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I wish you all a peaceful day!

Bhikkhu aggacitto a.k.a. Brother Mark:)

3 thoughts on “THE BUDDHIST MONK BUBBLE WORLD

  1. Hello Brother Mark, I have seen your posts around on different sights and wonder if you might be able to direct me to information regarding the following…it seems to me that whilst many religions have a concept and path to “self realize” or re-connect with universal consciousness, Islamic teachings seem to deliberately cut off its followers from the higher realms. Acceptance, love and forgiveness (necessary attributes for higher consciousnesses) seem absent from the Islamic societies around the world, which seem riddled with suffering, misery, and barbary. Are these millions of people cut off from their inner divine source by the teachings of Islam?. Jesus’s intention was to spiritually elevate people. Buddhism also. Hinduism also. Muhammad;s intentions would appear to be political domination. Regardless of the fact that he never established a government, he still ruled the territory. Can Islam really be defined as a religion? Do you have any thoughts on this?? Thanks. Mandy.

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