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This page offers articles about selected im­por­tant and somewhat con­tro­ver­sial Buddhist topics. At present three articles are available for downloading, others may follow.

An introduction into the basics of Buddhism is avail­able at the Books page of this web­site.

1. The Here-and-Now Interpretation of Dependent Origination - Paticcasamuppada

In the first of the Four Noble Truths the Buddha states that human existence is governed by Dukkha (dis­con­tent­ment, suf­fer­ing); the second Noble Truth demonstrates the arising or the cause of Dukkha, sum­ma­rized in a teaching called De­pend­ent Origi­nation or De­pend­ent Arising or De­pend­ent Co- Arising, the Pali ex­pres­sion is Paticca­sa­muppada.

Various forms and dif­fer­ing explanations of this teaching are given today, the most frequently discussed ones being:
  • The Three-Lives-Theory is an explanation covering three life­times, a past, the present and a future life, that is, it is used to teach rebirth.
  • The Here-and-Now-Theory proclaims that De­pend­ent Origi­nation is concerned with the present life only, with the 'here and now', with the birth and death of the notion of 'self', happening count­less times each day.
Both theories aim to explain how Dukkha arises and how to put an end to it. At first a brief idea about the Three-Lives-Theory is given but the main focus of this paper is the Here-and-Now Interpretation.

According to the late Tan Ajahn Buddhadasa, a prominent Thai Buddhist monk and proponent of the Here-and-Now- Theory, the arising of suffering equals the arising of the notions of 'self', 'I', 'me' and 'mine' in the ignorant human mind. Resulting selfishness does not only lead to personal calamities but to problems in society and to the pollution and exploitation of the natural resources of our planet too. The ignorant person thinks it is the same 'self' that is living life from the cradle to the grave; here an attempt is made to show how the mind constructs the concept of a permanent 'self' out of countless momentary 'selfs' arising with sense-contact.

Graph Dependent Origination Wherever possible the early Buddhist texts, the Nikayas, have been used for reference. The relevant quotes are given either in the text itself or in foot­notes so that readers who do not have the Nikayas at hand can follow up easily.

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The complete text (36 A4 pages) can be
down­loaded as a pdf-file at:
Dep.Org.-Here-and-Now.pdf (1,133 kB)

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2. Karma and Merit in (Thai) Buddhism

The topic is Karma and Merit in (Thai) Bud­dhism and thus we will define at first the meanings of the terms karma and merit before we in­ves­ti­gate in which ways they con­trib­ute to the unique form of Thai-Bud­dhism, but much of the ex­pla­na­tion is valid for other Bud­dhist coun­tries as well.

Karma is intentional action of body, speech and mind based on volition and will bring about a result (vipaka). Karma is not fate or destiny. Ac­cord­ing to the early Bud­dhist texts the result can ripen in this life or in a future life or even in sub­se­quent lives. This is the gen­er­ally accepted under­standing of the Law of Karma, the worldly level, on which the teach­ing re­gard­ing karma and merit is usu­ally of­fered and this seems to be the level most people prefer.

Complementary to the basic mundane inter­pre­ta­tion of karma and merit is the supra­mun­dane or spir­i­tual level of the doctrine which clarifies that the teach­ings on anatta (not-self) and karma do not nec­es­sari­ly con­tra­dict each other. The worldly ex­pla­na­tion helps people to behave prop­erly in this word while devel­op­ing their mind to a higher level; the tran­scen­den­tal teach­ing follows the Noble Eight­fold Path to the end of all suffering.

Monks on alms-round Food offerings to monks on alms-round

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The complete text (20 A4 pages) can be
down­loaded as a pdf-file at:
Karma and Merit.pdf (389 kB)

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3. Bhikkhuni Ordination Controversy in Theravada Buddhism

The Pali-word for a male monk is Bhikkhu. The female equiv­a­lent of a Bhikkhu is a Bhik­khuni. In Thera­vada Bud­dhism it is widely but not unani­mously accepted that Bhik­khunis (nuns) need to be ordained in a dual ceremony by both the male Sangha and the female Sangha (com­mu­nity of monks and nuns). It is believed that ap­proxi­mate­ly 1,000 years ago the Bhik­khuni lineage died out and there were no more nuns left to ordain new Bhik­khunis and since then until recently Thera­vada Bhik­khunis did not exist. At the end of the 20th century more and more women voiced interest to revive the Bhik­khuni Sangha and to receive full ordi­na­tion in Thera­vada Bud­dhism again.

In a grand ordi­na­tion ceremony in 1998 Bhik­khuni ordi­na­tion in the Thera­vada tradition was re-estab­lished. While this was acknowledged by the Bhikkhu Sangha in Sri Lanka the monks in other Thera­vada Bud­dhist countries still do not accept Bhik­khuni or­di­na­tion.

After a short look at the his­tori­cal back­ground of Bhik­khuni ordi­na­tion in Bud­dhism, some arguments for and against a revival of female or­di­na­tion in Thera­vada Bud­dhism will be pre­sent­ed and, as I'm living in Thai­land, we will spe­cifi­cally look at the situation in this country.



"In such cases, if there are [...] no senior dis­ci­ples among the nuns, ... no middle-ranking or junior nuns, ... no white-robed lay fol­low­ers, male or female, celibate or other­wise [...], then the holy life is not perfected."

Pasadika Sutta, Digha Nikaya 29.12

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The complete text (12 A4 pages) can be
down­loaded as a pdf-file at:
Bhikkhuni ordination.pdf (388 kB)

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