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[ Ethical Culture and Self Discipline ]

He Handles Gold and Silver

Gotama's Bhikkhus are not allowed to handle gold and silver (money). If I recall correctly there is a sutta in which The Buddha says: "Verily you can say of a Bhikkhu that handles gold and silver that he is not a Son of the Sakkyan." (meaning not a follower of Gotama).

There was, even, in the days of the Buddha, an office for a reliable Bhikkhu who would be the thrower-away of gold (Bhikkhus would sometimes receive gold not knowing about it in their beggar's bowls from householders wishing to make good kamma). This fellow would take the gold and wander off until such a time as he felt it was unlikely that he was being observed and toss the gold over his shoulder.



Early this morning I came to be thinking about a "teacher" I had that I have not given credit here. I was thinking: "In the nearly 30 years since I stopped my "apprenticeship" with this teacher, not once has the thought occurred to me: "This is the valuable lesson taught to me by so-and-so."

The benefit to me attributable to this teacher is nil. What a sad result from nearly seven years of intensive study.

What is the reason for this?

This teacher charged me money.

Paying money to this teacher, I learned intense concentration and self awareness.
Paying money to this teacher I came to an understanding of the values of "This World."

This teacher was what is called an Analytical Psychotherapist an MD practicing Freudian Psychoanalytic Therapy. I "went" to this teacher usually four times a week for an "individual" session and once a week for a "group" session.

This was in the mid 60s, when seemingly every middle class New Yorker went to a shrink. Mine was a well-educated wealthy member of the elite of this country. He had no need for money: he said as much to me at one point.

Going to this shrink I learned behavior modification: I noticed that when I described certain aberrant behaviors of mine, his foot shook slightly. I realized that the trick was to keep the foot from shaking.

Going to this shrink I learned to concentrate on and make myself fully aware of my behavior, sense experiences, emotions and thoughts. Things, skills, that have played an incalculably valuable role in my understanding of the Dhamma.

So why no credit to this teacher?
Why is taking money for this so bad?

Because it is selling under false pretense something that does not belong to him.

The false pretense is that the therapist is able to make an unhappy person happy.

This is accomplished, in fact, by the individual not inflicting pain on others, or what we would call "Ethical conduct".

Ask a therapist how the theory of his practice incorporates Ethical conduct into the therapy and they will tell you that the practice is "A-Moral" (not immoral, but not based on morals). So the promise is one that cannot be delivered upon.

If there is, in fact, improvement in Ethical Conduct, it is as a consequence of imitation of the Ethical Conduct of the therapist; as with my taking my clues from the wagging foot. This is not what the therapist is telling you he is selling you.

The net result?

This is selling you what one friend would do for another; or selling friendship.

The consequences of coming to realize that one is paying for friendship are enormously destructive. Consequently not only is the therapist committing fraud to begin with, he is inflicting great emotional damage at the same time.

There is more.

Returning to the same spot, to the same individual, day after day for years on end to discuss one's bodily movements, sense experiences, emotions, and thoughts, is, as I said, an invaluable exercise in creating self-awareness.

But here too, this is not what the therapist is selling in terms of technique. His theory is based on the idea that by concentrating on the problematic in one's life one will spontaneously arrive back at its point of origin (guaranteed to be in this life!!!), see it from the more mature point of view of the adult re-experiencing this event, and alter one's orientation towards the emotions, freeing one's self from neurotic (self- and other-destructive; unhappy-making) reactions to those emotions.

But how is this possible without giving that individual a set of behaviors that is mature?

And that is something that the therapist cannot do. It is not within the scope of their theory.

And worse: Concentrating on the problematic, with no clear (really clear, as in "it is a perfectly-worked-out-system-of-ethical-behaviors clear; it-solves-the-problem-of-existence-and-pain clear") new basis for behavior, invokes the concentrated power of the mind. This power is, as I have mentioned elsewhere here, much like an internet search tool. It will go out and search for aspects of this problematic behavior. And it will recreate and intensify this behavior to a limitless degree if there is no countervailing force such as a better way to think about it, such as is provided by the Pāḷi system.

So again, we have fraud compounded by a method which actually makes problems worse not better.

And what was the reason for all this pain? Charging money for helping others. It completely froze the thinking of this otherwise well intentioned, highly intelligent, morally motivated individual, and ended in at least this student thinking of him with absolutely no gratitude in heart.

How did money do this? It is because money is token tribute. A statement of value. Here, because I paid, the benefits come to me and the credit for creating those benefits also comes to me.

How come?

Because I paid for it, that's how come.

By paying, I bought the rights. The laborer is worth his wages. The Good Dr. B sold the invaluable for pennies, he had no comprehension of the value. Having no comprehension of the value, could his intent be in accord with the value? No. He ends simply as a fool. Once sold, the seller has no more claim.

For a PS, let me add that as harsh an evaluation as this may seem, I have no anger in my heart towards this man. This morning, thinking about this, I was just simply taken aback that where I can see that I have huge gratitude in my heart to common passers-by who have inadvertently taught me something (as though a god had come down in disguise to give me a nugget of gold) of this man I have had not one thought of gratitude in nearly 30 years.

What an amazing waste.



There are two further "issues" here:

What could this good man do to recover?

This man could make himself well by: 1. Understanding; 2. doing the best he could to make restitution, and 3. by confession (making his revised intent conscious and known to another).[1]


What about "Do'n the Dhamma hustle"; "Thiev'n in the naama the Lord"; those who sell This Dhamma?

Well let me say that seeing the consequences of this is beyond my scope. I can say this: if the consequence has to do with the pain the mind would need to undergo when faced with the real vision which enabled comparing the value of the goods sold with the amount received, then the grim story of The Good Doc B is nothing by comparison. If the consequence has to do with intent, then those who are selling Dhamma out there had better have done some deep introspection to determine the real nature of the reason they are not making their living some other way. This is not a matter of what I think, this is a matter of what the case really is. No amount of telling me that "Unless I charge for this, I cannot afford to teach," or "Unless we charge for this we could not afford the facilities to teach," will help in the least when the true, underlying intent is the greed for gains, favors and fame. Its not a matter of what we hear or think about it. Kamma is one's own.


[1] Just in case there are those out there who understand exactly how rare real information is who would argue that this man could have no basis in his reality for coming to the idea of repayment and confession: — I made this path to the solution of this problem conscious in him at the time I terminated my "therapy." I'm still waiting for my money plus interest...haha.

[At this point (Thursday, January 26, 2023 11:53 AM) Doc B. is dead and gone. Not word one did I hear about this matter.]

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