Friday, September 17, 2010

Why Monastics Fight

Shaolin monks are famous for exhibitions, which are not the problem (

Learn from the ordinary Sangha even when monastics are unenlightened examples of bad behavior.

Seven monks detained in gang fight
Sept. 15, 2010 (Kuensel Online/Asia News Network)
THIMPHU, Bhutan - Seven monks [more likely novices not monks] were detained by police in the capital on September 12, following their involvement in a gang fight that severely injured one of them. The seven monks from the central monastic body had beaten a monk from Dechenphodrang monastic school on the night of September 4. The suspects were unknown to the victim, 19, who is still in critical condition at the hospital. Kuensel sources said the suspects followed the victim and his friends to Dechenphodrang monastery after an argument between them in town. They were caught under the influence of alcohol. During the fight, no one had realized the victim was missing... More>>

Ritual Tibetan debating, which is very physical, is more bluster than fight (Wikipedia).

Why Monastics Fight
Wisdom Quarterly
Apparently, violence is contagious. Even the Sangha (the ordinary monastic community) can catch it. The Buddha had a solution: frequent reflection on the Simile of the Saw (MN 21). The Five Precepts, which preclude bloody-handedness and injuring with sticks and stones, also precludes drinking and drunken brawls.

But most recluses and brahmins fight for different reasons than ordinary people. What do people fight over? The root of most fights in the world (within various social classes or castes) is competitiveness in the pursuit of sensual pleasures. But for hermits and scholars, the principle reason is views. The Buddha explains six roots for this phenomenon:

  • A monastic is 1) angry and resentful and so dwells 2) without respect and deference towards the Teacher, Dharma, and Sangha and therefore does not fulfill the training. And not fulfilling the training, he or she creates a dispute, which brings harm and loss to humans and devas.
  • 3) Or one is contemptuous and insolent/domineering, 4) envious and stingy, 5) deceitful and fraudulent, 6) has evil wishes and wrong view:
  • One adheres tenaciously to one's own views, relinquishing them only with difficulty -- and so dwells without respect and deference towards Teacher, Dharma, and Sangha (MN 104). Bhikkhu Bodhi explains that the first four pairs of these are included among the imperfections that defile the mind: "covetousness, unrighteous greed, ill will, anger, revenge, contempt, domineering attitude, envy, avarice, deceit, fraud, obstinancy, presumption, conceit, arrogance, vanity, and negligence" (MN 7.3).
When Buddhists go for guidance ("refuge" or sarana) to the Sangha, it is to the Noble or Enlightened Sangha, not everyone who is simply wearing a saffron robe. Like individual monastics, we must must check our karma and look after ourselves:

By ourselves is evil done
By ourselves we pain endure
By ourselves we cease from wrong
By ourselves we become pure
No one saves us but ourselves
No one can and no one may
We ourselves must walk the Path
Buddhas only point the Way.

Uncontrolled Testosterone has to go Somewhere:

No comments: