Saturday, January 05, 2013


A bit of negativity on the last post from a couple of sources... one friend suggested moving to Canada is actually "inconsiderate", something that was a bit of a wake up call in it's own way.

I guess my pov is quite far from that of many people... I spend most of my life giving and taking; many people spend most of their lives buying and selling, I think... it is quite different.  I had someone offer to buy us a house, then put up several requirements, then say they weren't just going to "throw money at" whatever I thought was right when I rejected the requirements.  I guess from a business point of view it would make little sense to not be in control of your resources.  In Buddhism it's called "giving a gift out of faith", which of course requires faith (confidence) in the recipient.

I'm not looking for handouts... jeez is it so difficult to see that I work for a living?  Inconsiderate to respond to the man who showed up at my door at 2 AM looking for a place to ordain?  Or the woman who is trapped in a Christian home, or the multiple people who are relocating just to be closer to my host family in Ontario, or my wayward novice in Washington state, or my parents?  Forgot to mention it in my previous posts, I guess.

What I am looking for is people who want to give the way I try to give - give up, that is.  Give up bodily unwholesomeness, verbal unwholesomeness, and mental unwholesomeness.  Giving is a means of overcoming stinginess in the mind - a nasty form of greed - and greed in general.  I hope there are people out there who would like to put as much of their resources into the meditation practice as I do, but I am quite certain I have not been requesting people to do so.
  If some people are offended (sickened even) by a group of people pouring all of their energy into cultivating a community of meditators, then I guess I don't have much to say to them - it certainly isn't my own desire to teach that is leading me to work towards such a goal...

I guess too that there are many people out there who feel that I'm not qualified/ready to be a teacher.  This is something I can't agree to - call me a bad monk, a bad meditator, a bad person, and I might shrug it off, but I know what I can do, and teaching is one of those things (I did spend a solid year at the feet of one of Thailand's greatest meditation masters - five hours a day, every day, at. his. feet).  That's not bragging, and hey, maybe I'm wrong... I'm certainly not the best teacher out there.  But there are literally hundreds of you out there who are guilty of stoking the belief - how many people have told me I've literally changed their lives?  How many have I seen gone through the most incredible transformation because of me doing what I was taught to do by my teacher?  I'm not proud of my ability to teach - it's certainly not the goal of my life - but I am pretty confident in it.

So, this is just an attempt to present this monk's point of view, that yes, giving is part of Buddhism -, for example, is a gift from all of us, to all of us.  That no, I/we are not looking for money, land, a free ride; we are looking for enlightenment.  All the rest is details, and we all know what fallen angel resides there.  I am most thankful for the people who have supported me personally, and the people who have offered to support me in Ontario, but they are doing it as much for themselves as for me... we know what we want, and we are working towards it.  

It is never easy to receive negative feedback; no matter how much one puts up an enthusiastic front, even the Buddha went away to the forest when the monks rejected his advice.  It saps one's energy, I think, whether it gives rise to negative emotions or not.  Nonetheless, I think one law of the Internet is that it is easier to give negative feedback than positive feedback, and so. given the humong-gant-normous amount of support I receive for what I do, I feel blessed to have such a group of friends and supporters as I do, and still have a lot of energy on my part.  I think it's going to be a great year, and just don't want such negativity to fester and put a damper on our good deeds.  I look forward to meditating with you all in the next months.  That is, after all, what we're here for, isn't it?

That and feeding the trolls, I guess :)


  1. Giving and taking instead of bargaining... that is a good reminder.

    Thanks, too, for the comment on how getting negative feedback saps energy. It's timely for me, because I'm still reeling from incomprehensibly bad course evaluations from last semester's students. I think getting negative feedback is even more difficult when facing an audience in a (somewhat) public role, as I do in the classroom, and you do online. There is a lot of vulnerability in it.

  2. Oh... I used to be one of those mean students. I feel for you. School teachers have it so hard - I think that's why they make such good meditators ;)

  3. imani willis2:50 PM

    Maybe its just me but i think people who leave negative comments are best left unoticed. I find that people become more aware of theyer ill will towards others for what it is when they get no rise at all. I dont mean this to be debatable, same thing for my last comment.

  4. cindy ravenmoon5:51 PM

    I agree with you all. I know what it's like being a teacher of meditation and the such, with negative responses. In the west people have a very different point of view when it comes to giving and taking. For most of them it's all about money. If you don't have a "regular" job, then they look down on you. On a good note...yes I believe it will be a great year!
    Thank you again Yuttadhammo for changing my life, and those everywhere!

  5. Eric Hutchinson2:32 PM

    I wish you all the best Yuttadhammo. See you in Ontario!

  6. Katarina4:07 PM

    I watched a talk a while ago, unimportant by whom. This monk mentioned how they started to build a monastery in a new country, having very little to start with. Along the way, they received economic support varying in amount, though some very generous. When the monastery was finished, none of the contributors were mentioned anywhere and this seemed to upset some people.

    I guess some people are trying to earn badges, instead of giving and expecting nothing in return.

    I hope you find support over there by someone who doesn't see it as an investment.

    Your have given me a lot of knowledge and understanding through your videos.
    Good luck with your new plans!

  7. Medhiṇī9:48 AM

    I really feel for you. And I'm so sorry to hear that you get such negative feedback.
    I myself think you are a great teacher!
    Why? Cause you do the best you can.
    You have an open attitude, include all kinds of daily things (Mark Zuckerberg, quantum physics). You even have charisma. :)
    I almost daily listen to the dhammatalks online (YouTube) even if it's only to prompt the wholesome citta's. So you see, you have an amazing influence. :)

    I myself have been a teacher at some point in my life professionally. It's hard. There is so much expectations to deal with. Even the way I was dressed mattered to the students and was reflected in the evaluations.
    People like to look outside for the reasons of their problems and disappointments. I'm doing it myself on a regular basis even though I'm training myself to look inside.

    Anyway... I hope you can set aside the negativity and leave it be.

    Lots of metta
    from a moral supporter :)

  8. imani willis4:50 PM

    I just read your quote on death being only the end of our physical bodies, i thought i was misunderstanding something but your quote spared me much contemplation. But more importantly it raised many questions. If death means only that the matter our bodies are composed of disorganizes, this must mean that certain arrangements of matter act like prison cells for our minds, or awareness. Would it be correct to say this? And i know attachment fits in here somewhere too?

  9. viscid10:44 PM

    So, I was the person who dropped 'inconsiderate' on yuttadhammo. I didn't mean to 'troll' and I think he greatly misunderstood me.

    What I meant is that I didn't think you were taking western culture into full consideration. I did not mean to say that your intentions to build a monastery were unadmirable. The 'offer to buy a house' example is demonstrative of this. People will offer you lots of things, and then they'll yank it away. Why? Because people are unprepared to give generously to monks. They haven't been conditioned into it. They weren't born into a culture which tells them that the Sangha are something to be worshipped. You've lived in Thailand and Sri Lanka where such generosity towards monks is commonplace, but aside from perhaps Sri Lankan and Thai immigrants, that same attitude just doesn't exist here. I didn't, and still don't believe you are taking that into full consideration. I would be very weary of accepting big offers to set things up for you, because there's little to stop people from yanking back when they realize how serious you are, and how much of a commitment it is for them.

    I'm not saying to not try. I'm not saying you're a bad teacher. I'm saying you have to adapt to the culture, to be considerate of it, in order to be completely capable of helping those who came from that culture. You can't treat westerners like they're Thai.

    You are free to disagree with me, and demonstrate that I'm wrong-- which you probably will. I still hope we can maintain some level of friendship despite your being perturbed.

  10. Fair enough points, it seems. Though I wouldn't guess that Bhante was unconcerned about these concerns. My impression was quite to the contrary. It's a difficult undertaking it seems. And both of you see that.
    A step like this requires some courage. I don't think it is about who is right or wrong, or that it should be.
    I would wish for this to succeed. Even though I'm just watching from another part of the world. How helpful is that?
    Other good bhikkhus stay in the forest. Being samsara dropouts, I wouldn't call that inconsiderate either. In the end they will all go such ways. Because they can.
    But for now, maybe there's some valid hope left here as well. For all the difficulties, there might still be great benefit. What people do that they will do. It's their karma. Let them do what they will do. Maybe they will do something good.
    Nah, I'm not trying to argue. I'm just trying to be wise. I'm not an expert in such matters, though.