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I am only a Lay practitioner of Buddhism. However, I recently read a view point of someone who had been at a Buddhist school for 8 years. And it was slightly worrying.

He said a young person at th is school had had trouble learning and taking on information. She had asked some of the buddhist monks why she struggled. Now, as an educator his thought process was "The teaching type for you is wrong. Let's review how you learn, and try a different approach".

However, the monks advised her she must of been an evil person who burned or destroyed books in a past life; in this life therefore, she was through karma destined to struggle so she could learn and develop for her past mistakes. Obviously, this was very stressful for the young person.

I understand that the monks are far more informed in buddhism than I. And that obviously there may be more to the story. I also appreciate that they where seeking to offer a spiritual answer to her questions.

But surely as a Buddhist one can look beyond a previous life? As none of us are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt what we done in a previous life. Instead of speculation, could we not instead say "what is done is done. Instead, this is how we combat this new situation"?

In the given example, it would of saved the young person pain - she felt her - for lack of a better word 'soul' - was scarred and mared then and it would affect her ability to develop irretrievably.

Surely better to have said "You may be struggling from some past transgression. But that's not you now. Instead, let's look at how we can help you now and bring you on"?

Any input advice or guidance would be very greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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I understand that the monks are far more informed in buddhism than I.

The above is wrong view. Many monks are idiots.

I also appreciate that they were seeking to offer a spiritual answer to her questions.

The above is wrong view. The monks were offering a superstitious (rather than spiritual) answer to her questions.

But surely as a Buddhist one can look beyond a previous life?

Buddhism became extinct in India because the Buddhism after the Buddha developed an obsession with past & future lives, which made it the same as Hinduism. It invented superstitions such as the Jataka Stories & added dodgy suttas into the suttas, such as the unique MN 135; which obviously justified the status quo of the society and supported the monks who pandered to the ruling classes for political support & financial donations. As a result, this corrupted Buddhism became extinct; absorbed into Hinduism.

Real Buddhism teaches about suffering & its cessation. When the Buddha taught about "kamma" ("action"), he taught about unwholesome & wholesome kamma that leads to "suffering" ("hell") & "happiness" ("heaven").

Obviously, a lack of a "worldly" quality cannot be explained by past lives. Our academic skills or intelligence, our ability to make money, our ability to play sport, our ability to play music, our physical beauty or ugliness, is obviously unrelated to "suffering" & "happiness". It is quite obvious many highly academically intelligent people are evil; such as the evil people who work in evil governments or evil industries that create evil things, such as wars & weapons of mass destruction. Or the many greatest musicians, most beautiful movie stars & champion sports people who die of drug addictions & unhappiness.

In summary, there is no correlation between what is "spiritually wholesome" and "worldly qualities". Since the Buddha taught Dhamma was not something "worldly", there can never been any correlation between what is "spiritually wholesome" and "worldly qualities". In fact, a hypothesis could be pursued or researched about whether the majority of high level university graduates end up working in immoral unethical industries.

To end, similar to many current Western Christian schools, it appears the primary goal of this Buddhist school is not to make the students good people but to make the students high academic achievers for the gaining of worldly financial rewards. Similar to the dodgy MN 135, the impression is these religious schools are teaching narcissistic "spiritual materialism".

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Unfortunately in such delicate situation, any explanation whether religious or materialistic, if they're done hastily at an inappropriate time and space wouldn't be very useful. Matter of fact, by just shrugging one shoulder and tell the kid something like, sorry kid, sh... happens, or: well, it's just complete sheer chance that you've been dealt a lousy hand in life, might just make him feels much worse than that kammic explanation. That's why knowing the truth is not enough. It's when and how to say the truth is of no less importance:

"In the same way, prince:

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial (or: not connected with the goal), unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[2] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.

[3] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

[4] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[5] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.

[6] In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings." ~~ MN 58 ~~

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I can think of one circumstance in which the doctrine might be useful -- i.e. if I said, "It's not fair that I have trouble with books when other people don't!" -- then a reply like "you have trouble because of a past life" might be helpful. I guess it might be helpful is as an antidote to the "it's not fair" feeling -- and because it emphasises that it is now up to me to do something about it and/or live with it.

I agree though that as a reply seems suboptimal -- that a better teacher (perhaps with more teacher-training) might have been more helpful.

Also saying, "You're failing because you are or were an evil person" is completely contrary to e.g. how I've learned that preschool teachers are supposed to relate with their children/students. I mean as a teacher you might want to convey a message like, "That's bad behaviour, stop doing that and do this other good behaviour instead" -- but saying, "You're an evil person", is the wrong lesson (it's anathema to me). Some people (Buddhists too) dislike what they call western liberalism, saying it teaches that everyone is equal which is a false doctrine -- I think though that Buddhism's anatta doctrine justifies saying that certain behaviours are bad but without unduly identifying or associating traits with a "person".

I guess it's not uncommon though -- for example I think I remember someone (a westerner) complaining that he went to a monastery (probably several but this was one of them) in Asia, and had trouble learning what he was supposed to learn there, and the teacher said that his trouble was probably because he'd taken drugs when he was younger and was dismissive.

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It's always miserable if caught to address either the wrong people, or at the wrong time or not attentive. There are places where only such miserable gather together and nobody would be able to help them out...

May all gain the bliss to get known those having left home.

A/the possibility to increase ones "luck" toward better is to practice generosity toward sublime and stick firm to Sila, virtue as this is the base for connection and learning.

Prisoners of Karma: A Story, maybe a more dettached access for prisoners.

(Note that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks or what ever binds here, but for an exit of this wheel)

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