[Buddha-l] monks, meditation and trauma

Jayarava jayarava at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 7 04:11:19 MDT 2009

--- On Tue, 7/4/09, Dan Lusthaus <vasubandhu at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Let's keep in mind, for instance, that mental illness
> was a *disqualifying* condition from being accepted in the sangha, and 
> grounds for expulsion if manifested by someone already a cleric. 

Peter Harvey's article on culpability (JBE 6, 1999) makes the opposite point - that madness (ummāda; "Mental illness" is such a ghastly and misleading phrase) is grounds for not being held culpable for vinaya offences. This is brought out in several vinaya passages featuring the mad monk Gagga - who did not come to assembly when called and committed offences because he was gaga! Gagga is not-guilty of several offences on the grounds of insanity. It is quite an interesting case study because initially it is a let off for Gagga, but is then made a general principle, which I think shows something of the process of making the vinaya. Gagga is neither censured nor expelled from the order because of his affliction and the Sangha shows quite a bit of flexibility in working around him.

Perhaps you are thinking of some other tradition, or some other period?

Otherwise I think you are right to flag up the complex nature of what have become throwaway terms like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The reality of mental problems is often difficult for us lay people to understand, let alone diagnose and treat. I don't ask my doctor for advice on Sanskrit grammar or ancient Indian history...


BTW I checked and gaga/Gagga don't seem to be etymologically related.


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