Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Misleading Teachings Deviate From The Right Path of Buddhism

Below is a 
Public Statement 
Young Buddhist 
Association of Malaysia

YBAM: Misleading Teachings Deviate 
From The Right Path of Buddhism

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) recently received a correspondence from the Buddhist Society of a branch campus of a university in Kelantan (located at north-east of Peninsular Malaysia), stating that members and other undergraduates are influenced by a Theravada monk, leading to transferrence of course of study, and strained relationship with the family members.

The monk started to approach the undergraduates of the said university since March this year. Activities were carried out without the acknowledgement of the Buddhist Society of the university. The monk even brought dozens of students to pay a visit to the temples in Thailand for few weeks. When the semester started in September, these students, of about 30 of them, contacted the faculty and their family about their intention of transferrence from Medical Discipline to other disciplines such as Nutrition or Sport Science. Some students could not concentrate in their study, and absent from the lectures to participate in the activities organised by the mentioned monk. Some students even have the intention to withdraw from the university. The university started to show concern on this incident following the request of transferrence of course from these students.

Most of the affected students are the future doctors, with some of them are graduating in next one or two years, and some of them are even the JPA scholarship holders. However, these students disregard the worries of the family members, as well as the implications of the RM250,000 compensation that the family is going to make following their irresponsible act, had a falling out with the family, and even threatened to run away from home or to terminate the family relationship.

This monk taught the students that 
the patients should not 
receive medication for their condition, 
as these sicknesses are 
the results of their Karma. 

If one receives treatment for the sickness, 
this will not eliminate the Karma, 
and he/she will continue to 
suffer in the future. 

This monk keep stressing about
the supernatural power, 
and telling students that 
he has the power to know the past, 
and to predict the future. 

He also used the so-called subconscious method to let students to see their pasts. These teachings led to the Medical students not willing to, and also dare not to face the patients and corpses. Some of them even felt the uneasiness and the horror after contacting or facing the patients and corpses. In addition, this monk also misled the students in the views of the relationship that led to the end of the relationship of a few couples.

YBAM also received some complaints that this monk used the same tactic to approach the Buddhist and youths in the Alor Setar, Kedah. He also has a centre for students’ gathering in the Klang Valley.

In the Buddha’s teaching, 
we see how the Buddha, as the leader, 
also concerned his disciples who are sick, 
and provided necessary medications. 

The Buddha taught how to integrate ourselves into the society and to benefit the society with our contributions. The Buddha did not teach us on the unconventional and bizarre ideas, which leads to the worries of our family and friends, or even broken relationships with them.

YBAM hence urge the Buddhist society in the varsities and the local Buddhist societies to pay extra care when dealing with the interactions between the venerables and the disciples, as to avoid the negative implications that might be caused to the students and disciples following such relationship. Together with other Buddhist organisations, YBAM is also trying with various approaches including the Immigrations, university and family members, not to worsen the development of the incident, and to prevent this monk to bring the students to Thailand in this October again.

“Whoever, monks,
would attend to me,
he should tend the sick”  

The full passage, found in that section of Vinaya-pitaka called the Mahavagga, chapter 8, verse 26 Kucchivikara-vatthu, relates to the story of the Lord Buddha coming across a fellow monk who was suffering dysentery. With the help of Venerable Ananda, the Lord Buddha cleaned and settled the sick monk. Shortly afterwards, the Lord Buddha addressed the Sangha:  

 “Monks, you have not a mother,
 you have not a father 
who might tend you.  
If you, monks, 
do not tend one another, 
then who is there to tend you?
Whoever, monks, would tend me,
he should tend the sick.” 
(From the Pali Text Society’s translation,  
Book of the Discipline, Vol 4 p 432) 

This famous statement was made by the Blessed One when he discovered a monk lying in his soiled robes, desperately ill with an acute attack of dysentery. With the help of Ananda, the Buddha washed and cleaned the sick monk in warm water. On this occasion he reminded the monks that they have neither parents nor relatives to look after them, so they must look after one another. If the teacher is ill, it is the bounden duty of the pupil to look after him, and if the pupil is ill it is the teacher's duty to look after the sick pupil. If a teacher or a pupil is not available it is the responsibility of the community to look after the sick (Vin.i,301ff.).

On another occasion the Buddha discovered a monk whose body was covered with sores, his robe sticking to the body with pus oozing from the sores. Unable to look after him, his fellow monks had abandoned him. On discovering this monk, the Buddha boiled water and washed the monk with his own hands, then cleaned and dried his robes. When the monk felt comforted the Buddha preached to him and he became an Arahant, soon after which he passed away (DhpA.i,319). Thus the Buddha not only advocated the importance of looking after the sick, he also set a noble example by himself ministering to those who were so ill that they were even considered repulsive by others.

The Buddha has enumerated the qualities that should be present in a good nurse. He should be competent to administer the medicine, he should know what is agreeable to the patient and what is not. He should keep away what is disagreeable and give only what is agreeable to the patient. He should be benevolent and kind-hearted, he should perform his duties out of a sense of service and not just for the sake of remuneration (mettacitto gilanam upatthati no amisantaro). He should not feel repulsion towards saliva, phlegm, urine, stools, sores, etc. He should be capable of exhorting and stimulating the patient with noble ideas, with Dhamma talk (A.iii,144).

Adapted from 
 Ministering to the Sick and the Terminally Ill
by Lily de Silva
Buddhist Publication Society
Bodhi Leaves BL 132
Copyright © 1994 Lily de Silva