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Can monks use smart phones?

SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran


Do the precepts have to be revised to ban the use of smartphonesby buddhist monks?

Comments

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Nope. With any sort of luck and a little bit of practice, the up-side and down-side of such instruments will become apparent without laying down the law.

    lobster
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    My resident monk here is too poor to afford a phone with a data contract, which rules out smartphones for him. Problem solved!

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    What's wrong with a monk using a smart phone?

  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    Buddhist monks are expected to keep out of the way of temptations, not just resist them. In Thich Nhat Hanh's communities a monk is not allowed to access Internet on his own.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    I found this section helps to illuminate the question some

    Changing Society

    When society changes, monks cannot remain as traditionalists without adapting to the changes, although they have renounced the worldly life. People who cannot understand this situation criticize the behavior of certain monks because of those changes.

    However, when the monks want to amend even certain minor precepts, they would have to do it with the sanction of a recognized Sangha Council. Individual monks are not at liberty to change any Vinaya rules according to their whims and fancies. Such a Council of Sangha members can also impose certain sanction against monks who have committed serious violations of the disciplinary code and whose behavior discredits the Sangha. The Buddha instituted the Council to help monks to prevent evil deeds and avoid temptation in a worldly life. The rules were guidelines rather than inviolable laws handed down by some divine authority.

    In Asian countries particularly, monks are accorded great respect and reverence. Lay people respect them as teachers of the Dhamma and as men who have sacrificed the worldly life in order to lead a holy life. Monks devote themselves to the study and practice of the Dhamma and do not earn a living. Laymen, therefore, see to their material well-being while they in turn look to the monks for their spiritual needs.

    As such, monks are expected to conduct themselves in such a way that will earn them the respect and reverence of the public. If, for example, a monk is seen in a disreputable place, he will be criticized even if he is not involved in any immoral action. Therefore, it is the duty of the monks to avoid certain uncongenial surroundings so as to maintain the dignity of the holy Order.

    If a monk does not respect the feelings of his lay devotees and behaves according to what he alone thinks is right, then the lay devotees are not bound to look after his needs. There are many instances recorded in the Buddhist Texts that even during the Buddha's time, lay devotees had refused to look after arrogant, quarrelsome or irresponsible monks. Monks can be criticized for doing certain worldly things which only lay people are at liberty to do.

    http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/148.htm

    SwaroopCaptain_America
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Smart phones are the spawn of the devil. :p

    Swaroop
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Just imagine -- there are people who actually believe they have friends because they use Facebook.

    RuddyDuck9
  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    @SpinyNorman this is a Buddhist forum.
    Smartphones are instruments of Mara

    Captain_America
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Mara is a devil too. :p

    Swaroop
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Venerable Karma using a selfie stick (stick in every sense of the word :) ) ...Taken during a break from creating the Medicine Buddha, last October/November....

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Smartphones are a tool like anything else. They can be use with wisdom and skillfulness. My teacher (who is a monk) has one. It is not a problem. He doesn't use it for social media, but for sangha emails, meditation timers and a calendar. They can be misused and abused like many things, but were we to change the precepts to reflect all those things it would take a whole book. More so an issue how I use the internet myself. I don't really need to worry about whether it is appropriate for anyone else to use it. On a phone or otherwise.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @seeker242 said:
    What's wrong with a monk using a smart phone?

    Or a consort?

    Answers to the usual hell realm ... O.o

    how
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    Are they allowed to read newspapers and books?

    The same temptations exist in the real world so maybe monks should be confined to a cell.

    BhikkhuJayasara
  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Perhaps George puts his on airplane mode on the putting greens....

    http://www.ewamchoden.org/?page_id=46

  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    @David they are not. Other than Dharma texts.

  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    If they still want to be immersed in the material world why take monkhood at all? @David

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Swaroop said:
    @David they are not. Other than Dharma texts.

    I think this is an extraordinarily sweeping statement.
    Traditions vary, and people in those traditions interpret matters differently.
    To bring ALL monks under this umbrella is a mistake, to say the least....

    @Swaroop said:
    If they still want to be immersed in the material world why take monkhood at all? @David

    "Wanting" to be immersed is different to "needing" to be.

    If one cannot keep up with the global movement of events, there is a real danger of living in an unrealistic, fantasy world of delusion made up of one's own ignorance.

    lobsterkarastiCaptain_AmericaRuddyDuck9
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @David said:
    The same temptations exist in the real world so maybe monks should be confined to a cell.

    Would that have a cell phone? o:)

    As @federica mentions there is a wide divergence of behavours, from tantra dakini taking consorts to nuns walling themselves up for life in stupas.

    I prefer to be strict with my sangha and dharma officialdom. Put them in a cell until enlightened, then offer them every luxury once impervious to luxury or poverty.

    Too harsh? Perhaps. I for one need the inspiration ... :3

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Swaroop said:
    @David they are not. Other than Dharma texts.

    Better tell H.H. The Dalai Lama he is a failure as a monk then.

    Where are you getting this information?

  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    @David " Freedom wherever we go. A Buddhist monastic code for the 21st century" by Thich Nhat Hanh

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes, that's hardly comprehensive literature. It's a book, by a Zen monk who adheres to a christian ethic. Hardly a reference of any great credibility.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @Swaroop said:
    @David " Freedom wherever we go. A Buddhist monastic code for the 21st century" by Thich Nhat Hanh

    What do you think the logic behind banning means of information is?

    Will being ignorant of the world and it's ideas help transcend suffering or do you think one has to be aware of the world in order to come to grips with it?

    Thich Nhat Hanh does seem to know a lot about Christianity for someone that only reads Buddhist Suttas.

    He also has a decent grasp on scientific basics.

    How does that work?

    RuddyDuck9
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @Swaroop why would you base the entirety of Buddhist monasticism on one book by one teacher in one lineage? TNH writes some amazing things. But he is not representative of all monks and nuns, nor would he suggest that is the case. He lives by his own version of the precepts, which he tweaked for the modern world. I think they are great things to consider and I think they are a pretty fair way of bringing the precepts into modern life. But that doesn't mean all monks subscribe to them. TNH uses the internet quite a bit to spread his message. Considering he has written dozens of books, I am quite sure he reads more than dharma texts. In fact I can pretty much guarantee it, as he went to college, and taught at college. He's been on tv multiple times, even on Oprah for crying out loud, lol.

    I wonder if your cultural expectation living in India is just different from the western world. Perhaps your culture has taught you that this behavior (cell phones for monks) is unacceptable? In most places it is not. And in either case, it's none of my business.

    ZenshinSwaroopCaptain_AmericaRuddyDuck9
  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    @karasti yes. You are right. In our culture we expect monks to behave like monks. BTW this photo was shot in Rangoon air port by an Indian politician and posted on Twitter with the caption "technology spares no one"

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Perhaps this is a timely lesson in learning that simply because A + A = AA in one place, it doesn't necessarily follow that these calculations are the same the world over.

    What you present as fact, is in fact, merely local opinion.
    It's also useful to remember just how globally-embracing this forum is....

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited May 2016

    There is a Theravada monk, Bikkhu @samahita who posts on this site and across the internet. He uses technology for dharma purposes, technology doesn't use him.

    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/20388/bhikkhu-samahita-dhamma-posts/p1

    During some interview I heard a while back someone talked about how they asked a monk about how they avoided getting engrossed in the internet. The monks response was something to the effect of the problem isn't the internet the problem is the monkey mind.

    lobsterCaptain_AmericaRuddyDuck9
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited May 2016

    Let's remember we also have our own resident monk in @Jayantha and once upon a time, had a Tibetan monk also posting here. To my lasting shame, it was so long ago, I forget his name.... :(

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @federica said:
    Let's remember we also have our own resident monk in @Jayantha and once upon a time, had a Tibetan monk also posting here. To my lasting shame, it was so long ago, I forget his name.... :(

    @samahita?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited May 2016

    Maybe you mean @Palzang? Looking at his timeline he left like a month after I joined, I must remember him from looking through old posts.

    federica
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Swaroop said:
    @karasti yes. You are right. In our culture we expect monks to behave like monks. BTW this photo was shot in Rangoon air port by an Indian politician and posted on Twitter with the caption "technology spares no one"

    Until you are a monk, I'd say the expectations are not yours to have.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Thank you @person , yes, it was indeed Palzang....

  • BhanteLuckyBhanteLucky Alternative lifestyle person in the South Island of New Zealand New Zealand Veteran

    In ancient times, monks were at the very forefront of information technology, early adopters, at the cutting edge itself.
    How so?
    A short time after paper began being made in ancient India, monasteries were producing it, improving it, and using the new technology to record, preserve, and spread their teachings.

    (As a side note, I am using a Samsung Galaxy TabS 10.5 to type this post right now. I also use it to look at Buddhist websites, listen to dhamma talks, and read suttas. It was donated to me by a generous layperson when I ordained.)

    SwarooppersonVastmindRuddyDuck9
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran

    @BhanteLucky said:
    In ancient times, monks were at the very forefront of information technology, early adopters, at the cutting edge itself.
    How so?
    A short time after paper began being made in ancient India, monasteries were producing it, improving it, and using the new technology to record, preserve, and spread their teachings.

    (As a side note, I am using a Samsung Galaxy TabS 10.5 to type this post right now. I also use it to look at Buddhist websites, listen to dhamma talks, and read suttas. It was donated to me by a generous layperson when I ordained.)

    @BhanteLucky Bhante! good to see you posting, how did your Upasampadā go ?:)

    Vastmind
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited May 2016

    @Swaroop said:
    Buddhist monks are expected to keep out of the way of temptations, not just resist them. In Thich Nhat Hanh's communities a monk is not allowed to access Internet on his own.

    Ok, but even TNH's monks aren't prohibited from using cell phones. Particular ways in which the phone can be used is what is prohibited, not the use of the phone itself. Even under TNHs rules, if these monks are on the internet, it would still be permissible since they aren't by themselves.

  • One minor Mahayana precept forbids listening to music, gambling, fortune-telling etc. That rules out a certain amount of apps. I suppose calendars and messaging is OK but we must bear in mind that huge infrastructure that the cell towers and the internet as a whole demands as well as the influence our behaviour has on others. For example we can avoid using Google to host our calendar; we can also avoid using the phone during work hours or in the company of friends. That leaves a lot of pitfalls open to be sure and a lot of research ahead of anybody who would select the apps and service providers that would most accord with the dharma-vinaya.

    Swaroop
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    And what about all those monks smoking cigarettes? Things are really going downhill. :p

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I think you mean, 'Dunhill'....

    DairyLamaJeroenSwaroop
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Can monks use smart phones?

    Only if they are smart monks ......

    SwarooppersonRuddyDuck9
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