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Author Topic: [Q&A] Why should one not address a venerable as friend?  (Read 1912 times)

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Online Johann

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[Q&A] Why should one not address a venerable as friend?
« on: February 15, 2018, 08:52:56 AM »
Why should one not address a venerable as friend?

Quote from: Upasaka Chris on BSE
Why should one not address a venerable as friend?

Here is a quote from MN 26 :

One, standing up to greet me, received my robe & bowl. Another spread out a seat. Another set out water for washing my feet. However, they addressed me by name and as 'friend.'

So I said to them,
'Don't address the Tathagata by name and as "friend." The Tathagata, friends, is a worthy one, rightly self-awakened. Lend ear, friends: the Deathless has been attained. I will instruct you. I will teach you the Dhamma.

I can understand why the Tathagata might not be addressed by name; but why not as "friend"?

Perhaps similarly, from the Maha-parinibbana Sutta:

And, Ananda, whereas now the bhikkhus address one another as 'friend (āvuso)', let it not be so when I am gone. The senior bhikkhus, Ananda, may address the junior ones by their name, their family name, or as 'friend'; but the junior bhikkhus should address the senior ones as 'venerable sir (āyasmā)' or 'your reverence (bhante)'.

What's the need for, what's the benefit of, the "reverent" form of address? Or what's the harm, if any, in the "friendly" mode of address?

If you can, I'd appreciate answers:
  • From canonical sources (e.g. suttas or commentary)
  • From post-canonical sources (e.g. later, or modern, articles or dhamma talks)
  • From personal experience
  • and/or which apply to lay people (when addressing monks, or teachers or other venerables)


I think that ruben202's answer is ample evidence that it is so, in the culture and in the suttas and other scriptures.

I'm not sure I understand why, though. For example:

  • A venerable is a friend -- or are they not?
  • Is the behaviour (or mode of address) mere ritual?
  • Is there said to be a benefit, some purpose, some effect: for society, for the individual's state of mind or karma, or even for the venerable?

I imagine one benefit may be orderliness in the classroom: giving the venerable an opportunity to speak; another benefit is that it might be somehow associated with "faith" (i.e. being willing to listen without yet knowing); is another obedience for some good reason?

The whole question seems to me a bit associated with some identity-view and so thicket-of-views.

The only answer I can think of is a reference to the sutta (reference required) where the Buddha said that people need some teacher or leader, and he (having none) would take the Dhamma as his -- but that's speculation, whereas I'm asking for answers based on references or experience.

This is an attempt to reword this question :

Quote from: Johann on BSE on account of moderators estimate of father, teachers, the sublime Gems
How to explain that relationship with someone worthy of respect is more than just a friendship?

If someone asked, "What? My father, teacher, ... are not just friends?" -- how would one explain significant differences between "tolerance" and "deep respect and regard", of people being in front and what is called a "person worthy of respect"?

Since it might sometimes occur, in modern or western world, that one gives the gift of appreciation to someone who you count as an equal -- how to make best, or explain now the further step, respect, reverence and even refuge and total devotion?

Does anybody have, can provide, a good answer, strategy, to solve such?

Maybe under the headline, "Neither your father, your teachers and many others, nor the Buddha, are your "homies" or your "colleagues" (co-worker on same stage), proper to call and address by name or with 'friend'".

Practical try, as well possible inspiration to answer this, might be found under the question: "Why should one not address a venerable as friend?", by Upasaka Chris . And why the question is very importand and reasonable, why "homie"-like meetings and ways are destructive for a grow, might be also find inspiring answers later possible here . (this is later addition)

[It's not required to try to answer if the significant different is not really traced yet. Possible better to ask another question. And yes it's another challenging and possible not much broadly beloved question. And yes, feel free to upvote the question as well, if thinking that this gives release.

Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

Venerable members of the Sangha,
walking in front Fellows in leading the holly life.

  _/\_  _/\_  _/\_

In Respect of the Triple Gems, Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, in Respect of the Elders of the community  _/\_ , my person tries to answer this question. Please, may all knowledgeable Venerables and Dhammika, out of compassion, correct my person, if something is not correct and fill also graps, if something is missing.

Valued Upasaka, Upasika, Aramika(inis),
dear Readers and Visitors,


"Why should one not address a venerable as friend?"

Because he/she is an enemy (at least as such perceived), or because one prevers giving what is proper and can be given, maybe...? It would not be of benefit to give without confidence and joy, that what is good for all and praised by the wise.

For long time benefit and aimed even beyound, some inspirations:

If somebody desiring sharing merits by a more extended answer here and seeking sources to be able, Opening the Door to the Dhamma , also Mv I 15: Upajjhāyavattakathā — The Discussion of Duties Toward a Preceptor /teacher and a collection "Respect and Veneration ", might be good "starter":

...Paying Respect or Veneration (also regard, obeisance, high esteem, honour, admiration) (pi apacāyana, apa + cāy root pūja=abound, scarify; verb apaciti; gārava) , is the fourth of the traditional listed ten skilful/meritorious deeds (pi puññakiriya-vatthus), a practice which would be maintained beginning in childhood within families and societies in Buddhist environments. Within the three major kinds meritorious deeds (dāna, sīla, bhāvana) it counts to the virtue group as an aspect of sila. More known accesses, which will be maybe not suddenly regarded as aspects of respect, is the Refuge into the Three Jewels, honour and respect as the access point into the Dhamma and one of the Four Sublime Attributes (brahma vihara), Mudita, often translated as sympathy joy or appreciation. Mudita means joy and appreciation, and with it respect, in regard of one own goodness that one has developed and that of others...more in Detail

If having further an detail question or seeking for an intensive discussion to work thinks good out, one might feel always given to do so here (careholders here don't like such to happen here, sometimes but not always).

Always happy, since people at large often give statistics more value then discerning observations, inwardly and outwardly, this topic here "Lessons from Sardinia: respect towards elders leads to a significantly longer life" , in a usuall opposing proper discerment enviroment, might give some source of thoughts in regard of "one gets what one gives" and why "conservative" (good tradition preserving) societies are more garants for harmonious and long live while usually pseudo liberalism, postmodern and commonist tendencies are merely the enviroments of short live and joyless vegetating.


Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa

  niccaṃ vuḍḍhāpacāyino;
  Cattāro dhammā vaḍḍhanti,
  āyu vaṇṇo sukhaṃ balaṃ.

For one of respectful and virtuous nature who continuously honours those who are older and more virtuous, four benefits, viz., longevity, beauty, happiness and strength, will increase.

...and of course vizi-versa, one becomes weak, ugly, thin and founds one self lost in a hot wide desert.

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa

"There is the case where a woman or man is obstinate & arrogant. He/she does not pay homage to those who deserve homage, rise up for those for whom one should rise up, give a seat to those to whom one should give a seat, make way for those for whom one should make way, worship those who should be worshipped, respect those who should be respected, revere those who should be revered, or honor those who should be honored. Through having adopted & carried out such actions, on the break-up of the body, after death, he/she reappears in the plane of deprivation... If instead he/she comes to the human state, then he/she is low-born wherever reborn. This is the way leading to a low birth: to be obstinate & arrogant, not to pay homage to those who deserve homage, nor rise up for... nor give a seat to... nor make way for... nor worship... nor respect... nor revere... nor honor those who should be honored.

So really good to think much about the starter for a good walk-about: "What is worthy to go after and fall for it?", and how to not forget and fall into self-centeredness., get stuck.

May all beings have always proper and never to less Respect, Confidence and Patient , and even it may sound contradict, starting with goodwill to be able, with one self, since someone not estimating ones own merits, does not know the cause of pleasure, how could he/she ever find any real refuge and follow it?

Addition because it could work to make the way of approach for a fruitful relay-tion-ship reasonable more understandable.

What kind of guided person in a relation do you like to be? (Drawn from nun Uppalavanas translation of AN 7.13, seven kinds of wives)


- Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa -

Sujatha these are the seven wives to a man. Of them what are you, or like to be?

Venerable sir, from today remember me as a slave wife to my husband.

While Sujatha, and others, even if worse, could trace practice and good ways within her sociaty and being reminded, it's probably total impossible for a modern, western person, having grown up in a communist, socialisitic, postmodern society to ever get a needed enviroment given that they seek for advices in even more "brotherly" Kolkhoz (resource another), under other slaves with no liberality or usuals to walk after liberation.

So if really wishing to get it understood and become capable to adopt and practice good conduct, like always, starts with association with wise and avoiding the fools like poision, or to best train to possible gain existence in a area where basic right view is still something practiced amoung many, become blessed.

For even, as my person heard, recommended and as good estimated branches of monks even wish their lay people not to use proper addressing - "don't do so, we are all equal here in search" - and prefer that what they are used to, by birth, not having chanced, the lighter bearable "homie-hood" to ensure their gain, growth and existence.

Let my person share a simile for encouragement to put all effort into seek for real refuge, inwardly and outwardly and to learn to become a devotional person not to Mara, not to Death, as usual in the world, amoung "friends", in a dusty on-house-holding (e.g. senses) life:

Quote from: Ajahn Chah
The King of Death

We live like a chicken who doesn't know what's going on. In the morning it takes its baby chicks out to scratch for food. In the evening, it goes back to sleep in the coop. The next morning it goes out to look for food again. Its owner scatters rice for it to eat every day, but it doesn't know why its owner is feeding it. The chicken and its owner are thinking in very different ways.

The owner is thinking, "How much does the chicken weigh?" The chicken, though, is engrossed in the food. When the owner picks it up to heft its weight, it thinks the owner is showing affection.

We too don't know what's going on: where we come from, how many more years we'll live, where we'll go, who will take us there. We don't know this at all.

The King of Death is like the owner of the chicken. "We" don't know when he'll catch up with us, for "we're" engrossed — engrossed in sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and ideas. "We" have no sense that "we're" growing older. "We" have no sense of enough.

And possible end up in not having found real refuge again but just a more "comfortable" better more tricky chicken raising farm, with all good for health and grow and good managed, where "non" even able to harm the other.

"Under friends"

Vandāmi is a usual, even often just a ritual, practice under devoted lay followers, a homage, asking for pardon and asking for the share of the juwels merits (e.g. father, teacher, Sangha, Dhamma, Buddha) and as it is pointed out in the Vinaya, to confess faults amoung those of equal, is of no use, would not help and support a better, neither for the individual nor for the paticular community (which can possible not be helped).
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 08:59:04 AM by Johann »
This post and Content has come to be by Dhamma-Dana and so is given as it       Dhamma-Dana: Johann

Offline gus

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Re: [Q&A] Why should one not address a venerable as friend?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2018, 10:28:56 AM »
Okasa Bhante,

This is posted for the benefit of new-comers.

The word 'friend' generally means an equal friend. According to the Dhamma, younger or lay people should bow down to the monks. Addressing a monk as a friend is not compatible with bowing down.

[Though I don't remember the exact phrases and text references of the below points, I thought to write them before decaying my memory, thinking that anyone in need can get a clue.]

Ven. Ananda hesitated to state the name of one of his teachers Ven. Mahakassapa in front of him at a Vinaya Karma. (in Vinaya)

The people who don't respect elders/monks will be born in low castes and the people who respect elders/monks will be born in high castes. (Chulla kamma vibhanga sutta in Majjima Nikaya)

Ven. Sariputta worshiped towards the direction where his teacher Ven. Assaji lived in. (in a Sutta)

The person who bows down to others, gets others bowed down to him. (Vandako pati vandanam -Mittanisansa sutta)

When the Buddha asked monks who is qualified to be venerated, different monks gave different answers like pre-brahmin, pre-royal, arahant etc. Yet the Blessed One pointed out that the elder is the one who should be venerated. Then he discoursed Tittira jataka on this regard. (in Vinaya and Jataka)


Online Johann

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Re: [Q&A] Why should one not address a venerable as friend?
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2018, 11:02:35 AM »
Since it not without a reason, without a cause, that modern, western lay people and monks are participating in a lot of demerits:

There is a large "homie" and "pseudo-liberalism"/maxism transported and introduced by the "Western-Ajahn Chah"-branch, even shameless in their homeland of Dhamma, introducing more and more unhealthy modern and western ways, socialicing, doing favours and tending to improper association with lay people.

Next to even "forbidding" lay-people to show high regards, forcing them to "homie"-language, "duzen"... a picture like such is just natural and one might ask himself, looking at it, how the Thais, not to speak about faithfull people seeing such, felt on such an occasion...

And it's not so, that it is a one under many found, but a well considered title/indroduction/addvertising-picture:


Yet those "Devas", romanticer, are even send into other traditional countries with their degenerated ways and ideologies.

How ever wordily strong your relation to a monk might be, friend, family... it's of no benefit for nobody, especially if looking as someone familary, to show any improper gesture or assistance toward monks, not regarding them formost outwardly as a "holly refuge", beyond to be made as own.

There should be no need to explain such also for monks ways, signs, approaches and reacting, but since most living in certain improper dependency to lay people, it might be up to the lay people to keep there refuge alive, leave it to the other how he might act to improper socializing, and abound all improper approaches.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2018, 11:07:49 AM by Johann »
This post and Content has come to be by Dhamma-Dana and so is given as it       Dhamma-Dana: Johann





November 11, 2018, 01:00:38 AM
Sadhu Nyom. "May the Dhamma of the Buddha, and those following, be all beings refuge for a blessed life and beyond."

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 11, 2018, 12:31:09 AM
May the Dhamma be the greatest blessing in our lives today!

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 11, 2018, 12:30:17 AM
Möge heute das Dhamma der größte Segen in unserem Leben sein!


November 10, 2018, 03:31:36 AM
Sadhu! "May all given the right causes so that they experiance peace, prospery, friendships in their worlds today."

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 10, 2018, 02:42:15 AM
Sehr ehrwürdiger Samanera Johann,
hier gibt es einen Fehler. Nicht Mӧge, sondern Mӧgen.

Dhamma Grüβe an Sie aus Sri Lanka!

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 10, 2018, 12:58:57 AM
May peace, prosperity, Friendship prevail throughout the word today!

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 10, 2018, 12:58:26 AM
Mӧge heute Frieden, Wohlstand und Freundschaft auf der ganzen Welt herrschen!


November 08, 2018, 01:40:21 AM
May all those having not observed the new-moon Uposata yesterday take the chance of this day.


November 07, 2018, 01:52:42 AM
Sadhu! "May I, may all, give the causes, act in way, that I, that all, experiance a blissfull day."

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 07, 2018, 12:36:19 AM
May today be a blissful day!

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 07, 2018, 12:35:13 AM
Mӧge der heutige Tag ein glückseliger Tag sein!

Cheav Villa

November 06, 2018, 02:57:08 PM


November 06, 2018, 12:41:22 AM
Sadhu. "May I, may all, use this day to give themselves causes for long lasting happines."

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 06, 2018, 12:17:34 AM
May today be a meritful and meritorious day!

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 06, 2018, 12:16:58 AM
Mӧge der heutige Tag ein verdienstvoller und verdienstlicher Tag sein!


November 05, 2018, 09:16:58 AM

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 05, 2018, 01:41:57 AM
May today be a day of insight!                                                                        

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 05, 2018, 01:41:24 AM
Mӧge der heutige Tag ein Tag der Einsicht sein!


November 04, 2018, 04:57:53 PM
(I, Breah Karuna, will try to send the pictures tomorrow again, because today the sending does not work)

No problem Nyom. គ្មានបញ្ហាទេញោម

Cheav Villa

November 04, 2018, 04:09:20 PM
ខ្ញុំព្រះករុណានឹងផ្ញេីរូបភាពនៅថ្ងៃស្អែកទៀត ព្រោះឥលូវផ្ញេីមិនទៅទេព្រះអង្គ


November 04, 2018, 07:58:41 AM

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 04, 2018, 02:45:36 AM
Dear The Most Reverend Samanera Johann,

I wish you a devotional day.

Dhamma Greetings from Sri Lanka!


Mohan Gnanathilake

November 03, 2018, 03:11:53 PM
Dear The Most Reverend Samanera Johann,

I thank you for your kind service.

Dhamma Greetings from Sri Lanka!


Cheav Villa

November 03, 2018, 02:03:55 PM


November 03, 2018, 02:01:26 PM
(I would like to inform Breah Ang, that I, Breah Karuna, together with my husband/family, and older Sister Sophoeun will go to Aural tomorow in the morning. May Breah Ang be told to (a)wait.)

May you have a secure and hurry-less travel and meet good fortune all along the way. May you drive slowly

Cheav Villa

November 03, 2018, 12:51:48 PM
សូមទូលព្រះអង្គ​ ខ្ញុំព្រះករុណានិងគ្រួសារ និងបងស្រីសុភឿននឹងទៅឱរ៉ាល់នាព្រឹកស្អែក សូមទូលនិមន្តព្រះអង្គចាំ

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 03, 2018, 12:06:08 PM
Dear The Most Reverend Samanera Johann,

I have put the link on the correct place. Please confirm if it is correct!

Dhamma Greetings from Sri Lanka!


November 03, 2018, 10:42:58 AM
Nyom Villa.


November 03, 2018, 10:42:08 AM
And Atma should put it on a good place? Take your time. Nobody can do your work, merits for Nyom Mohan aside he himself.

Mohan Gnanathilake

November 03, 2018, 07:27:06 AM
Dear The Most Reverend Samanera Johann,

Since I do not have much time, I would like to submit the following link.

Dhamma Greetings from Sri Lanka!



November 03, 2018, 07:25:21 AM
Nyom Mohan


November 02, 2018, 01:26:07 PM
Better in Topic itself, Nyom. See here .

Cheav Villa

November 02, 2018, 12:53:59 PM
My sleep, my health, my many household, feelings, rememberance, projects, recognitions ... "I want to have time when I'm old and sick ... surely! សូម ព្រះអង្គ ជួ


November 02, 2018, 12:20:25 PM
No problems or demands at all Nyom Villa. All fine for Nyom, there where she is?

Cheav Villa

November 02, 2018, 12:17:21 PM
My sleep, my health, my many household, feelings, rememberance, projects, recognitions ... "I want to have time when I am old and sick ... surely! សូមព្រះអង្គជួយពន្យល់ផង

Cheav Villa

November 02, 2018, 12:13:05 PM
 :o ខ្ញុំកូណាមេីលច្រលំទៀតហេីយ សូមទោសព្រះអង្គម្តងទៀត  :D

Cheav Villa

November 02, 2018, 11:26:23 AM
ខ្ញុំកូណាសូមទោសមិនបានឆ្លីយតបព្រះអង្គ ទាន់ពេលទេីបតែងាកឃេីញ។ ខ្ញុំកូណាចង់ជួយធុងទឹក និងបេីអាចនិងបុកអណ្តូង


November 01, 2018, 10:05:29 AM
May all have/hold an auspicious Uposatha-Sila-Observance day.


October 31, 2018, 03:14:35 PM
"Oh! My sleep, my health, my many household, feelings, rememberance, projects, recognitions...", I will have time when I am old and sick... surely!


October 31, 2018, 03:09:31 PM
in earlier times "Buddhist" would come the day before Sila-day to the monastery and, not going to sleep, after having taken 8 precepts, do 24h merits. "good old times..."  :)


October 31, 2018, 01:50:41 PM
 :) lost... "Zeit hat man nicht, die muß man sich nehmen"

Mohan Gnanathilake

October 31, 2018, 01:43:14 PM
Dear The Most Reverend Samanera Johann,

I agree with you. But I need more time.

Dhamma Greetings from Sri Lanka!


October 31, 2018, 01:25:52 PM
Thinking "in the future" is another lost battle... Nyom: Sieg! . Next minute you could die and what follows Nyom?


October 31, 2018, 01:22:24 PM
Similar to this one, maybe: [Khmer] Anreden, Begrüßung | Forms of adress, Greeting , started as layperson by now Bhante Khemakumara.

Mohan Gnanathilake

October 31, 2018, 01:17:50 PM
Dear The Most Reverend Samanera Johann,

In the future, I will try my best.

Dhamma Greetings from Sri Lanka!
Mohan Barathi Gnanathilake



October 31, 2018, 01:16:37 PM
Where ever people stop to make merits, don't rejoice with it, it will not need long that revolution-desires arise, having gone out of puñña


October 31, 2018, 01:11:17 PM
What about teaching ways of introduction abhivadana, and how to adress monks, behave, speak in monasteries? That would be great in many aspects for Nyom.


October 31, 2018, 01:08:34 PM
Nyom could teach a little Sinhalese, and open a topic. At least such, by thinking and giving into the Sublime Sangha would be of great benefit for Nyom. Not ease to find possibility to make merits, yet surely devotion is also one.

Mohan Gnanathilake

October 31, 2018, 12:59:52 PM
Sehr ehrwürdiger Samanera Johann,

Dhamma Grüβe an Sie aus Sri Lanka!

Mohan Barathi Gnanathilake

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