El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

A comment on "Can You Believe What Happened In This Temple?"

December 12, 2015 0

When we read articles like this, it is very easy to judge the behaviour of the monks who kept the bear under these distressing conditions. The end result is not people questioning the monks and the level of their practice, but people questioning the validity of the Buddhadharma and asking how can a religion lead people to behave this way.

Yes, we can say that these people are uninformed and therefore their opinions are not valid but instead of blaming the observer, why not contemplate how we ourselves, on an everyday basis, damage people’s perception of Buddhism and the Dharma through our own actions?

When we are vulgar and rude with people who do not agree with our religious choices, do we represent the Dharma well? Do we represent our teachers well?

Let us not talk about lamas who exhibit crazy wisdom and use such methods to shock their students into transformation. Let us examine ourselves, we unenlightened beings who can barely make it from one day to another without a complaint of some sort, who abide in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. When we are vulgar and rude, we are being vulgar and rude; there is no higher motive, no compassion, no enlightened action behind such behaviour.

It is vulgarity, plain, (rude) and simple.

We should not claim we are doing it to protect the Buddhadharma. The Buddhadharma does not need this kind of protection; the Buddhadharma needs people who will practise the teachings and keep them alive through practice and realisation. That is how you protect Shakyamuni’s words.

So people are not their religion, and religion is not the people. Religion is good when practised by sincere people. When it is not practised well, the person turns it into nothing more significant than a set of IKEA instructions (to put it bluntly)… and is that kind of person you want to be?


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“Because the temple is just a building, and it is the people in the building that determine if the place is holy or not.” – a powerful, sobering reminder that regardless of where we reside, whether it is under a gilded three-storey roof or in a thatched hut, it is our practice that ultimately matters. Rinpoche has always told us that just because you are in the Dharma, it does not mean that the Dharma is in you, and the temple will become any other building if the activities being proliferated under its roof are not holy, sacred or Dharmic.

In the case of this temple, I’m not sure how their actions fall under “right livelihood” where instead of rescuing animals, this temple’s residents became involved in the proliferation of suffering. It’s very disappointing to see that a group of people would want to start a zoo, presumably for fundraising, when instead they could attract sponsorship and contributions via means that do not involve the suffering of sentient beings. After all, Thailand is a Buddhist country where support for monks is not exactly lacking.

If anything, actions like these damages the public’s perception of monks and makes it even harder for sincere, genuine practitioners to get the support they need for their practice.

In this case, the actions of WFFT proved to be far more holy than the actions of the temple.

You wonder though, what kind of karma the bear accumulated in a previous life to be reborn into a place where theoretically she should’ve been the safest, but instead she was made to suffer horribly before dying.

Reflections and Teachings

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