Mental Health and Dhamma Teachers

I wanted to broach what I consider to be an important topic with regards to those who teach the dhamma(monks and lay persons).
For many reasons, most of them unfounded, people tend to put a lot of stock in someone who is considered a dhamma teacher, whether in robes or not. They put them on a pedestal, often as someone “higher” and “wiser”. They will ask them about the most important life questions and, due to human nature, wish to have someone “more wise then them” who can tell them what is best to do in their own lives.
This is best represented in a funny Ajahn Brahm line where he says ” people always ask monks about all kinds of life problems, even marriage, why are you asking me about marriage.. I’m a monk!”
For those of us who are put up on the pedestal to answer these questions, it can be quite the dangerous position, because a person who is willing to give over agency to “someone wiser”, also gives over responsibility to them, so if advice goes wrong, who will be blamed?
Many vulnerable people come looking for wisdom to the dhamma, including those who have the whole range of mental health issues, from PTSD to Schizophrenia. Those who teach the dhamma need to make sure that they answer questions related to these issues with great care.
I’m not a mental health professional, and don’t have the qualifications to be one, but for almost a decade I worked with said professionals and people with every kind of mental health issue. I think this gives me a sensitivity towards this issue that most would not have. When I hear a dhamma teacher be dismissive and flippant with questions regarding mental health, it bothers me, because I understand the power said teachers have on vulnerable people.
A prime example of my point for this post was a year ago after being a Samanera barely a month, I did my first dhamma talk. At the end of that retreat I had a woman come up to me and talk to me. Throughout the course of the discussion I found out her mental health diagnosis, as well as her medications, and then was not all that surprised when the gist of the conversation was moving towards her looking for some kind of validation, from some guy in robes, to stop taking her medications and replace them with meditation….
From my experience I am well aware that often times medications for mental health issues can do more harm then help, they have unpleasant side effects, and most people dislike taking them, but even still a dhamma teacher needs to be very careful with this. I would say never ever go against the advice/care of professionals. You can add some dhamma in there, some advice and tips, but do it as something to be done IN CONJUNCTION with their clinical treatment.
One of the things I’ve learned is that it is OK, and actually PREFERABLE, to say ” i don’t know”. when it comes down to it, don’t feel like you have to give them some kind of answer, if you feel that what you say might be detrimental.
At the very least, those who teach dhamma need to be very vigilant to make sure that if we cannot help, we at least do no harm, and leave what is professional to the professionals.

Ajahn Brahmali on Impermanence

Impermanence : What Can We Rely On?

“In the Ocean of Samsara, what can you hold on to, to keep from drowning?…. Nothing”

short clip from a recent talk on Dukkha during the 3 Characteristics of Existence Retreat.

 

Dukkha : Laying Down the Burden

“Dukkha is the result of how we relate to reality. If we cling to what is impermanent, what is undependable, we cause our own suffering. Dukkha is not something that somebody else, the universe or whatever, puts on us, Dukkha is what we take up, we take up the Burden ourselves”.

“If we have the responsibility of this Dukkha, if we are creating our own suffering, well guess what, we have the choice to not do that, we have the choice to let go.”

“Once you realize that you have the power, once you realize that its not some external force that is causing you suffering, pain, once you realize that it’s you, and you are responsible for your own dukkha, then you give yourself the power to change that, to end that Dukkha.”

Interview with Bhante Analayo on Vedana(feeling)

Vimala Bhikkhuni – The Buddha’s Teaching of No-Self: Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs

 

Dhamma Talk – Various Aspects of Metta

 

Respecting the Variety of Buddhist Traditions

Following the journey of a possible future Bhikkhuni(female monastic)

I wanted to share the video log of a friend of mine whom I met a few months ago. She resides over in Australia and is on the path towards becoming a Bhikkhuni. I’m happy that she is doing a video log of her journey as I believe it will be of great benefit for women who wish to follow the same path, as well as men.

The fourfold assembly is fourfold for a reason, and the growth of the Bhikkhuni order is of great benefit to the growth and survival of the Dhamma world wide.

So check out her videos and see a different perspective on the Dhamma, from a woman I greatly admire and wish well.

Setting the Groundwork For Change

New Twitter + Social Media Links

The new name mean more new social media. You can find twitter here –

https://twitter.com/BhikkhuJayasara

The rest of my social media links can be found on the right side of the page here —–>>>

Full Higher Ordination Video

If you’re interested in what a higher ordination is like, this video covers the whole thing and more. The first 25 minutes or so are the ceremony, then Bhante G goes over the whole ceremony again in English for all of us to understand.

 

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