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Posted by: Johann
« on: January 11, 2016, 10:59:00 AM »

Quote from: Question by Mr. bbozo on BuddhimsSE
Talking about Dharma - is it worthwhile?

 Discussing the Dharma, as on this site -- looking for and sharing information -- is it really beneficial or could it be a waste of time or even counterproductive?
Several quotes come to mind, e.g. this one from Wumen Huikai:
The instant you speak about a thing, you miss the mark.

  and of course, Fen Yang:
When you are deluded and full of doubt, even a thousand books of scripture are not enough. When you have realized understanding, even one word is too much.

From this and other sources (like Chogyam Trungpa's warnings about spiritual materialism) one might conclude that spending time on a site like this could be a path to illusion and a way to develop the subtle "enlightened" ego.
What are the dangers of discussing Dharma on an online forum? How could it be worthwhile, if "speaking about a thing misses the mark" and "even one word is too much"?

Quote from: Johann on BuddhimsSE

Definitely, if the intention is Dhamma and practice for Nibbana. (see below)

Talking about Dhamma is all about straighten right view and right view is the prerequsite for any pratice which is merely useless if there is no right view. One also learns about the other factors and therefore listening to the Dhamma is a high merit not to speak about teaching the Dhamma and all services and possibilities around it. There have been many people, countless people, who have gained all kinds of pathfruits, "simply" by listening the Dhamma or by discussing the Dhamma together.

Actually nearly ALL 10 kinds of meritorious deeds can be done here (aside of material dana).
Some years ago Atma wrote a little about Googlyana - a Dharma practice approach on internet-realm which, including the understanding of the 10 meritorious deeds can be easy adopted everywhere on web.

Its even no problem to practice mindfulness on the frame of reference and there are really best possibilities for every kind of wholesome deed.

If one takes for example the only or main task of a monk/nun, if not being in noble silence (2. Jhana) that it is to discuss the Dhamma.

Once there also having been a dispute of which is the proper time to approach the teacher and after arguing a lot the Buddha told that every time when greed, hatred of delusion arises, no matter what time, it is proper to approach the teacher (that also says to help the questioner at every time).

As for those who are caring on such places or answer questions in accordance with the Dhamma:

"There are these two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things & a gift of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: a gift of the Dhamma.
"There are these two kinds of sharing: sharing of material things & sharing of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: sharing of the Dhamma.
"There are these two kinds of assistance: assistance with material things & assistance with the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: help with the Dhamma.
"There are these two kinds of mass-donations: a mass-donation of material things & a mass-donation of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: a mass-donation of the Dhamma."  Iti §100

But Atma also has to remark that he is not happy about the environment here [stackexchange, generally "public social networks], since it is not freely given and for commercial purpose. When ever one spends time and effort on Dhamma one should not misuse things which are not given for that or with strings. Its like teaching Dhamma in meditation centers which charge for certain services.
Most social or content pages do not serve such proper but have commercial purposes. Also take care to do not misuse third part energy and means.

So one does good to seek for a place which is actually given.

Also in regard of using for example ones boss time and money or what ever to spend on Dhamma is not good. So it should be your good earned free time and your given means.

Individual it depends on ones motivation, so if Mr. bbozo would add it, it would be easier to tell.

Always thinking on the kamma of questions .

As the author writes in the Introduction: "There's no such thing as a totally idle question. Every question, even the most casual, carries an intention." Since one's intentions shape the course of one's entire spiritual journey, learning to ask the right kinds of questions plays an essential role in any spiritual practice. This collection of essays explores the nature of questions in the Buddhist path.

  As for the introduction and its notion "To say the word is to miss the mark, said a monk, one would assume same is implied in writing it?", aside of certain motivation, two Suttas may help out: Chavalata Sutta: The Firebrand & Sikkha Sutta: Trainings

Monks, these four types of individuals are to be found existing in the world. Which four? The one who practices for his own benefit but not for that of others. The one who practices for the benefit of others but not for his own. The one who practices neither for his own benefit nor for that of others. The one who practices for his own benefit and for that of others.

  To your question:
What are the dangers of discussing Dharma on an online forum?

Of cause teaching others for example of know much, can be a huge trap of conceit and pride. But even if one is trapped in such, he would not easy abound it, if not next to others who give hints about it and cross-question.

Those seeking for heartwood and missing it very good displayed here:

He is intoxicated with that gain, offerings, & fame, heedless about it, and falls into heedlessness. Being heedless, he dwells in suffering & stress. This, monks, is called a monk who grasps the twigs & leaves of the holy life, and with that he falls short.

..."Just as if a man in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark, passing over the outer bark — cutting away the twigs & leaves, were to go off carrying them, thinking, 'heartwood.' A man with good eyesight, seeing him, would say, 'Ah, how this good man didn't know heartwood, didn't know sapwood, didn't know inner bark, didn't know outer bark, didn't know twigs & leaves! That's why he, in need of heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood — passing over the heartwood of a great standing tree possessed of heartwood, passing over the sapwood, passing over the inner bark, passing over the outer bark — cutting away the twigs & leaves, went off carrying them, thinking, "heartwood." Whatever heartwood-business he had with heartwood, his purpose won't be served.'...MN29  

But for now, try to get a punch of reputations and if you come to a peak, that be remembered to let go, there where you start to get comfortable with your gain.

To speak, I don't do that, I don't participate in that, that is pride, for the most cases, its not different but often the quote of the "The Fox and the Grapes ". So more often, those who claim to do not participate (know already enough at the same time) as often more trapped it that so called "Spiritual Materialism", jet even clearly to greed to give a share of their possession.

Wrong grasping or for wrong purpose:

"Monks, there is the case where some worthless men study the Dhamma: dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions [the earliest classifications of the Buddha's teachings]. Having studied the Dhamma, they don't ascertain the meaning (or: the purpose) of those Dhammas with their discernment. Not having ascertained the meaning of those Dhammas with their discernment, they don't come to an agreement through pondering. They study the Dhamma both for attacking others and for defending themselves in debate. They don't reach the goal for which [people] study the Dhamma. Their wrong grasp of those Dhammas will lead to their long-term harm & suffering. Why is that? Because of the wrong-graspedness of the Dhammas. ...Alagaddupama Sutta: The Water-Snake Simile

  There are still the dangerous of bhava-tanha (craving for becoming and to be) and since intellectual contact is also a kind of sensuality one can be pretty addicted to this sensual pleasure by building concepts and thought and then enjoy and dwell in it. This ways are pattered by lose and gain and even if caught one would have a chance to become aware of it, like the monk in the story having come in contact with rebukes of his fellows and his teacher. Something, if one turns away of being confronted in discussions, or discusses just with like-minded people with similar wrong views, would not be possible be corrected. So the more critic you are possible able to get, the more you have chance to correct your views.
As for "looking for", its pretty good to know and understand the mechanic of Dhamma: Better to Give (dhamma) than to Consume (dhamma)   one is not able, not capable to gain Dhamma, if still having a consumers attitude an is not willing to give at first place and in advanced (not even with the desire to gain something in return). A famous Zen-teacher defined people who are spending times in Dhamma-centers but are not capable to understand the Dhamma as hungry ghosts. Of course, becoming a hungry Dhamma-Ghost has its reason. Those are the people who hardly would give but seek and load down where ever they can.
So when ever you spend some times, its good to take on a task and if you run a place give people a task (in Dhamma) so that they would keep things balanced or even to service and other things as their primary focus. So different of marketing places its good if you see such honest approach right at the door and beware of people telling you that it is "free". Even the Dhamma is actually not free but will either call for you (to put it into action) or never graspable but causing one much dept at least, if just for entertaining and livelihood.

So ways to be on the good side here would be:
  • pay respect where it is proper (Apaciti)
  • using the possibilities to show appreciation and gratitude, either by words or by voting (Abbhanumodana)
  • Helping to clean of typos and obliviously faults (Veyyāvaca)
  • Add of what is missing (Veyyāvaca)
  • Take on tasks other would be not able to do (Veyyāvaca)
  • Feeding such things as tag-infos (Veyyāvaca, Desana)
  • Share of what you are able to share (Dāna)
  • Give your work a dedications and share your merits, invite others (Pattānuppadāna)
  • Stay mindful on your body, feeling, mind and Dhammas (Bhāvana)
  • Keep precepts while you share and "take" (Sīla)
This done, there will come
  • Listening to the Dhamma (Savana)
  • Correcting one’s View (Diṭṭhijju-kamma)

But once again in regard of BuddhismSE. Atma has doubts that it is at least most beneficial, since all service you give, you give actually (mental cold be different but would cheat the Inc. you made a contract with) and then, after that, the ones give his share (for his what ever purpose). So it has its limits to make service to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha in line with Dhamma and Vinaya. Different would it be, if there are no commercial or worldly interests and a place is actually really given for its real purpose. People who dedicate such places and make scarifies are less, because they prefer to gain and to have it easy. One would not be happy afterward, having put much effort into giving just to see it flow down on the rivers of the world and Samsara, having been just food to nourish death and size up the mountains of corps. So also here, even certain path elements can be seen, are lacking of the prerequisites which are against the grain and subject of real generosity.

Do not throw the Dhamma as it it would be a entertainment and trading good and be aware and grateful of what you maintain your livelihood (certain joy to be willing and able to live on, that includes mental food)
Atma is not really able to stay here long out of that reason, since one needs to overstep virtue in regard of the Dhamma and Vinaya or cause the owner here to get his demand of his wished contract not repaid. Even if invited and welcome by its user does not means that certain approaches are welcome with whom one has a contract and its sad that users do actually don't have such with each other exclusively which give others also the feeling being to dependent on them. But you will, if you see that problem, find ways although the chance is less that runners of such places would scarify just for this "Dhamma-Vinaya" possibilities to gain.

The Seven Noble Riches
Concerning saddhā or faith, the person who has it
(a) likes to meet virtuous ones,
(b) wishes to hear the true dhamma (saddhamma), and
(c) lives at home with stinginess removed from his mind.

Endowed with these three qualities he indeed is called ‘one who has faith’.

What one should be strongly be aware of, is not to develop a notion of being ones home or ones own, when dwelling on a Dhamma place and get attached to his/here monastery, group...

As for those who think that they can do without Dana, Service, an so on, and even think that they are beyond that child stuff, Atma tells you that they dwell in anything but not on the path:

"Without abandoning these five qualities, one is incapable of entering & remaining in the first jhana. Which five? Stinginess as to one's monastery [lodgings], stinginess as to one's family [of supporters], stinginess as to one's gains, stinginess as to one's status, and stinginess as to the Dhamma. Without abandoning these five qualities, one is incapable of entering & remaining (even) in the first jhana. Macchariya Suttas: Stinginess

(Note: this answer has not been given with the agreement to be means of trade or the purpose of/for trade and/or keep people trapped and bound. How you handle it lies in your sphere, but does not excuse the deed here either.)
May all beings  —  without limit,
without end  —    have a share in the
merit just now made, 
and in whatever other merit I have made.
Dedication of Merit