Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Skateboarding Buddhist Monk? (video)

Chinese monk skateboarding on temple grounds; monk doll below (sodahead.com).

Text by Deborah Jiang Stein (Huffington Post, Dec. 28, 2009)
A monk [not the first] skateboards inside an historic temple and causes controversy in China. In Sichuan province near the top of Mount Emei, the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China, stands the Dafu Temple. Here, a monk on a skateboard has stirred controversy about whether his skateboarding is appropriate behavior for a monk. Many are asking: Is this the way monks ought to live? Clad in his gray cloak and true skater form, the monk twists his legs, leans forward, and skateboards in the temple. More>>

Monks on Skateboards Wisdom Quarterly COMMENTARY

Is skateboarding appropriate behavior within the monastic code of conduct (Vinaya)? Technically, this behavior is fine in private. But in terms of decorum, it is pushing the envelope. On one occasion monks were bathing in a reservoir and splashed each other playfully. This innocent act offended a prominent disciple of the Buddha, who complained to him about how this might look to others. The Buddha then established a monastic rule barring playing in water.

  • PHOTO: Tibetan Buddhist monk tries skateboarding at Arou Temple in Arou, Qinghai Province, China (Rob Thompson).

One could easily imagine that the Buddha would also deem recreational skateboarding out of bounds. But as it did not come up, he did not. It is therefore left to the abbot or the local Sangha to decide. Until such a decision is handed down, the bhikshus might consider a stint on the Warped Tour. After all, if that's the worst thing they're doing, we should rejoice.

Skateboarding has already met Christian "spirituality" in Australia and elsewhere. We know firsthand that Ven. Thanissaro (Wat Metta, California), who is known as "Tan Jeff," hikes, camps, and photographs every chance he gets -- and he's the author of the English version of the Buddhist monastic code.

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