Tu Viện Quảng Đức105 Lynch Rd, Fawkner, Vic 3060. Australia. Tel: 9357 3544. quangduc@quangduc.com* Viện Chủ: TT Tâm Phương, Trụ Trì: TT Nguyên Tạng   

The Meaning of Sangha

29/10/201014:37(Xem: 5390)
The Meaning of Sangha


The Meaning of Sangha

Like the youngteenagers who delight in doing things differently from their parents, new Buddhists innon-Asian countries seem to be going through their own proud adolescence by challengingthe boundaries of traditional Buddhism. Fortunately, for both our youngsters and WesternBuddhists, the arrogance of youth soon gives way to the mature, long years ofunderstanding and respect for tradition. It is in order to hasten this growing up ofBuddhism in Australia that I write this article on the meaning of 'Sangha' as it was meantto be understood by the Lord Buddha.

In theTipitika, the recorded Teachings of the Lord Buddha, one finds two main focusses for themeaning of Sangha: the third part of the Threefold Refuge (in the Buddha, Dhamma andSangha) and the third factor of the to-be -worshipped Triple Gem (The Buddha, Dhamma andSavaka Sangha). On odd occasions in the Tipitika, 'Sangha' is used to denote a 'herd' ofanimals (Patika Sutta, Digha Nikaya) or 'flock" of birds (Jataka Nidana), but groupsof lay disciples, both men and women, are always described as 'parisa', an assembly.

So what is the meaning of Sangha in the first maincontext, in the Threefold Refuge? Certainly, only an exceedingly eccentric Buddhist wouldtake as their third refuge a sangha of birds (only "one gone cuckoo", as theysay!). In fact, the Tipitika is precise in what is meant by the third refuge. In theCanon, on every occasion that an inspired person took the Threefold Refuge as anexpression of their faith, it was either in the Buddha, Dhamma and Bhikkhu Sangha, or inthe Buddha, Dhamma and Bhikkhuni Sangha. Thus, in original Buddhism, the meaning of Sanghain the context of the Threefold Refuge is unarguably the Monastic Sangha.

The Sangha as the third factor of the Triple Gem worshipped by Buddhists seems to have adifferent meaning. It is called the Savaka Sangha (or Ariya Sangha) and is defined asthose attained to any of the Eight Stages of Enlightenment (the 4 usual stages dividedinto Path and Fruit) who are "worthy of gifts, hospitality, offerings and reverentialsalutations, and who are the unsurpassed field of merit in the world". So, in theoriginal texts, who are the "unsurpassed field of merit and worthy of offerings andsalutations"?

In the Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta (Majjhima 142), the Buddhasaid that, "an offering made to the monastic Sangha is incalculable, immeasurable.And, I say, that in no way does a gift to a person individually ever have a greater fruitthan an offering made to the monastic Sangha". Consistency proves that the SavakaSangha, the unsurpassed field of merit in the world, must be a part, a subset of themonastic Sangha - there is no greater fruit than an offering to the monastic Sangha.

Furthermore, in the world of the Tipitika, offerings andreverential salutations would always be given by the laity to the monastic and never theother way around. Even the highly attained lay disciple Ugga Gahapati who was aNon-Returner is seen to be giving reverential salutations to ordinary bhikkhus and servingtheir needs with his own hands (Anguttara Nikaya, Eights, Suttas 21 & 22). Thus, those"worthy of gifts, hospitality, offerings and reverential salutations", theSavaka Sangha, are again shown to be a part of the monastic Sangha of both genders.

This proves that the meaning of 'Sangha' in the context ofthe to-be-worshipped Triple Gem is that part of the monastic Sangha who have attained to aStage of Enlightenment. This Savaka Sangha, or Ariya Sangha, is in no way outside of themonastic Sangha but within it, as a subset. To say otherwise is inconsistent with theSuttas.

I have carefully argued these points because today, manyyoung lay Buddhist groups in Australia, Europe and the Americas are calling themselvesSangha, going for refuge to themselves, even worshipping themselves, and presuming this isBuddhism! This is sad, misleading and produces no progress on the Path.

It is far better to go for refuge to the Monastic Sanghaand give respect to that Sangha, especially those within the monastic Sangha withattainment on the Path. Why? Because the monastic Sangha is also the physical expressionof the Lord Buddha's Middle Way, it is the only authoritative Buddhist teachingorganization and, thirdly, it is the flag of Buddhism capable of giving inspiration in thevillages and cities of our world.

That the monastic Sangha is the physical expression of theLord Buddha's Middle Way is easily demonstrated when one investigate the Suttas what theLord Buddha meant by the 'Middle Way'. In the Aranavibhanga Sutta (Majjhima 139), the LordBuddha clearly explained that the Middle Way is a celibate way, "Beyond the pursuitof the pleasures of the five senses". Monasticism is the physical expression ofcelibacy. Every Buddhist should know that sensuality is the first of the three cravings(Kama-tanha) mentioned in the Second Noble Truth as the direct cause of Dukkha. Also, thatsuch sensuality is the first of the attachments (Kama-upadana). So those who are earnestabout abandoning such craving and uprooting such attachment would naturally gravitate tothe monastic Sangha. Thus, the monks and nuns include all those who are serious enoughabout Enlightenment to do some serious letting go of their cravings and attachments.

That the authority on Buddhism lies with the monasticSangha is demonstrated when one considers that only someone who is practicing the Dhamma,and uprooting sensuality has the authority to teach others to do the same. A sexuallyactive lay Buddhist who enjoys good food and entertainment while amassing worldlypossessions, and who teaches others to let go of attachments is called a hypocrite; onewho doesn't practise what they preach to others. They have no authority. It is true thatsome monks also qualify as hypocrites here, but they are more easily shown up for whatthey are than the lay teacher with far fewer rules. In short, a monastic is more reliable.

That the monastic Sangha is the flag of Buddhism refers tothe appearance and lifestyle of the Buddhist monk or nun. The simple brown robe and shavenhead are symbols of renunciation and a rejection of fashion. They are a flag to the peoplethat the way to happiness is not through amassing wealth and showing it off to others. Thelifestyle of morality and restraint seen in the behaviour of a good monk or nun are asignpost to others that freedom lies within precepts, not beyond them. And the quietnessand happiness of a trained monastic indicates the goal of the Noble Eightfold Path whichis the end of suffering. Good monks and nuns stand out as no lay person could, inspiringeven non Buddhists as worthy sons and daughters of the Lord Buddha. Like a patriot feelsinspired and uplifted when they see the flag of their country, so a true Buddhist feelsthe same emotions on seeing the flag of the Sangha in a diligent monk or nun.

So this is the meaning of the word 'Sangha', both in thecontext of the Tipitika and in the context of modern times. May the monks and nuns who areits members please live up to all these meanings. And may lay Buddhist know better thanyoung Western Buddhists and their spin doctoring of the Dhamma, and so preserve andsupport the lineage of the Great Teacher that is the Monastic Sangha.
Source: BuddhaSasana
Gửi ý kiến của bạn
Tên của bạn
Email của bạn
15/06/2022(Xem: 1131)
The story of the murder of a law ex-student named Raskolnikov is told in Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. After suppressing his crime for several days in tremendous agony and terrible suffering in his conscience, Raskolnikov resolved to confess his wrongdoing to his companion, Sonia. In his confession, Raskolnikov reveals some motives for his crime, but he does not explain exactly why the elderly woman ought to be murdered. The tale then presents a mystery, a crime, as a result of Raskolnikov’s predestination. The purpose of this article is to prove that the motive of Raskolnikov’s crime is not his destiny, but rooted in his mind.
07/08/2021(Xem: 4360)
The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth (Ājīvatthamaka Sīla) Dhamma Teachers Certificate EN074 -__ Feb2010 5 8 Precepts Diacritials Requirements and Ceremonies for the Five Precepts (Panca Sila), The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth (Ajivatthamaka Sila), Dhamma Teachers Certificate, issued by the Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada) and Ketumati Buddhist Vihara at Wesak 2006). Updated February 2010
07/08/2021(Xem: 3121)
Venerable Rewata Dhamma born in Myanmar [Burma], was head of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara until his death in 2004. His book Maha Paritta: The Discourses of the Great Protection (With the Threefold Refuges, Precepts, Salutations to the Triple Gem, Dependent Origination and Metta Bhavana), gives the formula in Pali and English for requesting Ajivatthamaka Sila (The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth). (pages 9-12) Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thera Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru Agga Maha Pandita (1896-1998) Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya, born in Sri Lanka, attended the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Myanmar [Burma] (1954-56). In 1956, during the third session of the Council, he served as Chairman of the Convocation for a few weeks. The Council was convened by the Myanmar [Burmese] government to prepare an authorized re-edit and reprint of the entire Tipitaka (the Pali Canon) and its commentaries. Venerable Ananda Maitreya was appointed the Sri
07/08/2021(Xem: 4166)
The BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project was started by attendees of the London Buddhist Vihara (Monastery) in 1994. The BEP decided to teach embroidery to people who had not learnt it in childhood. The late Venerable Apparakke Jinaratana, a Theravada Buddhist Bhikkhu (monk), who lived in a cave in Sri Lanka, near a very poor village, was using very old newspapers (supplied by villagers) as tablecloths. The BEP decided to embroider tablecloths, wall hangings and sitting cloths for his use. Although items are given to one monk, they actually belong to the whole of the Bhikkhu Sangha [Order of Buddhist Monks] according to the Vinaya (Buddhist Monastic Discipline). In Asian villages, washing is done in streams and waterfalls, and hung to dry in the hot sun, so items do not last as long as they do in the west.
30/07/2021(Xem: 2619)
Introducing Buddhism by Venerable Dr Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thera Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru Aggamaha Pandita DLitt DLitt (1896-1998) and Jacquetta Gomes Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili. Introducing Buddhism was originally published by The Buddhist Society London in 1988, to accompany The Buddhist Society’s Introducing Buddhism Course, on which Jacquetta Gomes was one of the teachers. Introducing Buddhism has subsequently been published by Buddhist organisations in England, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the USA. Introducing Buddhism is available on several websites including Access to Insight, CBE Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia and Google Books. Introducing Buddhism was launched by the BCC Buddhist Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka with 24 other books under the patronage of Venerable Dr K. Sri Dhammananda Chief Sangha Nayaka of Malaysia and Singapore, in December 1997.
09/06/2021(Xem: 3701)
Cuộc Đời Của Người Tăng Sĩ Das Leben eines buddhistischen Mönches Tác giả: HT Thích Bảo Lạc & HT Thích Như Điển Chuyển ngữ: Nguyễn Ngọc Tuấn & Nguyễn Thị Thu Cúc
03/05/2021(Xem: 4338)
As a child, my mother Enid often said to me, “There is no such thing as a silly question,” and then would add, “unless.” This latter word was left hanging, and I eventually realised that it was up to me to learn the depth of its meaning. At the same time that Enid was planting seeds for reflection, my first spiritual teacher, Ven. Lama Senge Tashi, encouraged me to cultivate more skilful thoughts, speech and actions. Sometimes I would try to verbally assert “I” or “Me,” and Lama would respond with, “Who is speaking?” or “Who is asking?”
03/05/2021(Xem: 4524)
During the Covid-19 pandemic a dharma sister passed from this life. Her name was Robyn. Although she did not call herself a Buddhist, nevertheless, Robyn had a special connection with the deity Medicine Buddha. Over the six years that I worked with her, in my role as a hospital chaplain, Robyn frequently asked me to chant the mantra of Medicine Buddha and guide her through the visualisation. During her many stays in hospital, this particular practice brought comfort to her while she was experiencing chronic pain, anxiety and fear of the unknown. The medications she took would sometimes cloud her memory, so I would guide her through the details of the visualisation and begin chanting:
03/05/2021(Xem: 4825)
Once, as I was about to hold a summer Dharma class on a beach, as the first students began to arrive for the session I picked up two rocks and carefully placed them, one on top of the other, on to a much larger rock base. Observing what I had just done, three students approached: a young married couple and their five year old son.
03/05/2021(Xem: 4861)
True Seeing (Ven. Shih Jingang) One day, while Little Pebble and his Master were walking through a garden, the old teacher stopped to look at a white rose in full bloom. He motioned for his young disciple to join him, and they both sat down near where the flower was growing. ‘Little Pebble,’ said the Master, ‘when you look at this object, tell me what you think about it.’ ‘The flower is pretty,’ stated the boy. ‘I like it.’ ‘’’Flower,” you say. “Pretty, like it,” you say,’ replied the Master, looking to see how his young disciple reacted. Then he added, ‘Mind creates names like flower, and thoughts of like and dislike, pretty and ugly. This mind is small and closed, but if you can see beyond it to the nature of mind, then all is vast like space, completely open to all things. In this state of awareness, there is neither a flower nor a non-flower. Understand?’ But the young disciple did not quite understand, so his Master continued, ‘Little one, come here each day,
facebook youtube google-plus linkedin twitter blog
Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường,
nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.

May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland,
Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below,
may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma,
the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Quang Duc Buddhist Welfare Association of Victoria
Tu Viện Quảng Đức | Quang Duc Monastery
Senior Venerable Thich Tam Phuong | Senior Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang
Address: Quang Duc Monastery, 105 Lynch Road, Fawkner, Vic.3060 Australia
Tel: 61.03.9357 3544 ; Fax: 61.03.9357 3600
Website: http://www.quangduc.com ; http://www.tuvienquangduc.com.au (old)
Xin gửi Xin gửi bài mới và ý kiến đóng góp đến Ban Biên Tập qua địa chỉ:
quangduc@quangduc.com , tvquangduc@bigpond.com