What the Teaching Is Not

In Digha Nikaya 1 Brahmajala Sutta – The Brahma Net Sutta (What the Teaching Is Not), the Buddha advised the monks on what they should and should not do when others speak in disparagement of the Buddha, Dharma or the Sangha.

An excerpt:

“… 5. Bhikkhus! If others should malign the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, you must not feel resentment, nor displeasure, nor anger on that account.

Bhikkhus! If you feel angry or displeased when others malign the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, it will only be harmful to you (because then you will not be able to practise the dhamma).

Bhikkhus! If you feel angry or displeased when others malign the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, will you be able to discriminatc their good speech from bad?

“No, indeed, Venerable Sir!” said the bhikkhus.

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If others malign me or the Dhamma, or the Sangha, you should explain (to them what is false as false, saying ‘It is not so. It is not true. It is, indeed, not thus with us. Such fault is not to be found among us.’ “

In light of the recent debacle of a Christian pastor making wrongful comments on Buddhism and Taoism, it is good to remember the Buddha’s advice above.  For as long as I can remember, Buddhists in Singapore  has mostly been of a rather docile and meek manner even in the face of an attack on Buddhism.  I suspect that such behaviour is not necessarily due to the Buddha’s teachings as above, but because of our cultural influence.  The Singaporean (or Singapore Chinese?) attitude of “Kiasu” and “Kiasi”.

“Kiasu” is a close romanisation of the Hokkien pronounciation of 怕输 ‘afraid of loosing (out)’ while “Kiasi” means 怕死 ‘afraid to die’.  Kiasu can be a form of competitiveness but it can become a form of self-preservation mechanism that morphs into Kiasi.  Kiasi is a pronounced form of self-preservation fringing on cowardice.  It can also be seen as a developed application of ‘Mind your own business’.

In the past ten twenty years, Buddhists have gradually matured and outgrown this culture.  Whether on the press or on the net, Buddhists are remaining firm on what they stand for.  Without going to the extreme end of becoming religious zealouts, Buddhists are firmly saying “Enough.  This is not what the Buddha taught.  Stop spreading falsehood”.  This is encouraging and heartening to see both online and offline.

Let those Buddhists (monastics and lay alike) who are well-grounded in the Dharma stand up and establish what is falsely said, and declare what the Tathagata1 has taught.  Let those who are not well-grounded put in more effort to learn and practise so that they may be well established, for it is for their and others’ welfare and benefit.

Should a written apology be written by the pastor in his capacity as leader of his congregation?  Share your views either here or on my facebook wall.

Footnote

1 Tathagata 如来 The One who has thus gone and/or the One who has thus come.  One of the epithets referring to the Buddha.

Reference

Digha Nikaya 1 Brahmajala Sutta – The Brahma Net Sutta (What the Teaching Is Not)
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/theravada/brahma1.htm

2 thoughts on “What the Teaching Is Not”

  1. It’s “Rony’s showtime with 2 dimwits as sidekicks”. That’s what I called this whole episode, a mere cheap shot at making Buddhism look dumber than Christianity. The audience had their laughs and satisfied their false belief that their religion is the TRUE one. So what now?

    Will knowing your religion as the ONE make you a humble person who won’t go around criticizing others without getting the facts right? Will it make you honest and not go through deceitful ways to cheat others by using false actors claiming to be persons they are not? Will it make you wiser so you’ll not use a layperson to claim expertise on a subject? Will it make you more respectful of others regardless of religion? Will it make you a better person? Looking at Rony, the answer is sadly no.

  2. Dear Ven Sir

    Thank you for the timely reminder of the Buddha’s teachings in how to manage misinterpretation of the Buddha-Dhamma and/or Buddhism.

    Many conspiracy theories are offered wrt Pastor Rony’s ‘show’, and it goes to show the fault-lines of distrust of Christians on the part of the Buddhists. While I understand where these come from, I also feel a little tired and upset that with every theory, our work of maintaining stability and harmony in Singapore will become that much harder. with every bit of distrust, our message of understanding and forbearance will be that much harder to go down well among Buddhists. Your scriptural quotation of the Buddha’s words will be my source of faith and basis to push on, for the peace, tranquility and calm for Buddhists and for our society. Sadhu sadhu sadhu.

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