When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:37 am

That's a slippery slope! If you continue down that road, you're going to end up with a lot of fully ordained Tibetan nuns on your hands.


:crying: I didn't realize the implications!!!!!

(Just kidding).

I actually think the first and most important step has already been made, (at least in terms of the Gelug tradition) which is giving nuns a geshe degree. I think the full ordination of women in Tibetan Buddhism is an inevitability, I know for example one lama told me that is nuns take the Dharmagupta ordination from Taiwan and hold that for 10 years, they can do their Sojongs and everything together- it will be a complete lineage.

The only sticking point would be that for the actual ordinations they would need to have a quorum of bhikshus from the Chinese/Viet Namese traditions. But perhaps this is a good thing, and will promote more cultural understanding!

Of course, the other option is to revive it in the Tibetan lineage, which HH Dalai Lama and Karmapa have been advocating, but it is a rather longer road to success IMO.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Leo Rivers » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:02 pm

Of course, the other option is to revive it in the Tibetan lineage, which HH Dalai Lama and Karmapa have been advocating, but it is a rather longer road to success IMO.


Why is this?

And would a revival in the Tibetan lineage be able to flow back into mainstream/Nikaya Buddhist sanghas? How inter-operating are various forms of Buddhism, and at what level? :thanks:
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:01 am

Why is this?

Because of some entrenched conservative views amongst influential senior preceptors and lineage holders.

And would a revival in the Tibetan lineage be able to flow back into mainstream/Nikaya Buddhist sanghas? How inter-operating are various forms of Buddhism, and at what level?


This is a huge question with far-reaching implications and I am not an expert in this subject. I can direct you to this excellent website on the issue put together by Ven. Tsedroen from Germany, a long time Bhikshuni from Tibet Centre in Hamburg, who has a PhD and has done extensive research the topic of the bhikshuni lineage. In her writings she touches on the points you mentioned above (sorry I am traveling at the moment so not able to cut and paste all the relevant sections).

http://www.bhiksuniordination.net/index.html
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Anders » Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:46 pm

Leo Rivers wrote:
Of course, the other option is to revive it in the Tibetan lineage, which HH Dalai Lama and Karmapa have been advocating, but it is a rather longer road to success IMO.


Why is this?

And would a revival in the Tibetan lineage be able to flow back into mainstream/Nikaya Buddhist sanghas? How inter-operating are various forms of Buddhism, and at what level? :thanks:


That is a question very much up in the air. Theravadin commentarial tradition is generally more restrictive in its interpretations.

According to the dipavamsa, the dharmagupta and mulasarvastivadins are both schismatic and accordingly entirely invalid by now. But the revival of the bhikkhuni lineage in both Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism is basically predicated on the dharmagupta lineage of nuns still being valid. So for those who accept this, it is quite interoperable.

But true for all three Vinaya streams is that this is the first time in over 1000 years they have had to address these questions practically. I suspect that the 21st and 22nd centuries will see Vinaya studies of a level and development not seen since ancient India.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Leo Rivers » Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:58 pm

Two pertinent quotes and a web site dedicated to the issue.

Mahāsaṅghika Śāriputraparipṛcchā
The Mahāsaṅghika school diligently study the collected Suttas and teach the true meaning, because they are the source and the center. They wear yellow robes.
The Dharmaguptaka school master the flavor of the true way. They are guides for the benefit of all. Their way of expression is special. They wear red robes.
The Sarvāstivāda school quickly gain unobstructed knowledge, for the Dhamma is their guide. They wear black robes.
The Kaśyapīya school are diligent and energetic in guarding sentient beings. They wear magnolia robes.
The Mahīśāsaka school practice jhana, and penetrate deeply. They wear blue robes.
(CBETA, T24, no. 1465, p. 900, c12-18)


Theravāda Dīpavaṁsa
These 17 sects are schismatic,
only one sect is non-schismatic.
With the non-schismatic sect,
there are eighteen in all.
Like a great banyan tree,
the Theravāda is supreme,
the Dispensation of the Conqueror,
complete,
without deficiency or excess.
The other sects arose
like thorns on the tree.
(Dīpavaṁsa 4.90-91)


https://sites.google.com/site/sectsandsectarianism/home :buddha1:
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Apr 08, 2013 7:14 am

Funny you mention the Śariputraparipṛcchā, I made this flow chart to roughly keep track of what schools lead to what, along with the colours of their robes.

The dates are obviously ideal or generalised and assume the late dating of the Buddha's parinirvāṇa.

As far as I know, all the schools which descend from the Mahāsāṃghika do have followers which 'did' follow the Bodhisattva path 'eventually.' All of the Mahāsāṃghika sects accepted to multiple degrees the doctrines of the Bodhisattvayāna, if not, eventually, the texts. I am completely ignorant as to whether Sautrāntikas or Mahāvaibhāṣikas had any Bodhisattvayana practitioners, but the other three Sarvāstivāda offshoots certainly do to my knowledge.

As for a full and specifically Mahāyāna tradition, if you go by Ch'an orthodoxy and take Bodhidharma to have founded Ch'an in c. 475, then that would be the first. None of the others prior are founded, to my knowledge, with specific intention of making an exclusive Mahāyāna school. Is not the general opinion on them that there would have been practitioners with many inclinations in each monastery within India? No clue.

But if you take the position that Ch'an is a later development, then T'an-luan's Pureland, Ching-t'u, tradition is certainly a specifically Mahāyāna school - where Pureland is for the attainment of Buddhahood specifically.

I'm probably mistaken in a number of places there, but I hope some of it moves the discussion forward. As for the issue of Bhiksunis and the Vinaya, I am ignorant.

Are there Vinayas which have any specific Mahāyāna content? Wouldn't that be what the answer to the question boils down to? Does an ordination using just a sutra count as an ordination in the regular sense? These seem to be very complex issues.

Edit: The file I uploaded before was over 3 pages and hard to read, I just attached one onto one page.
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:16 am

Nice chart, Ben Yuan. But may I ask the source for your division of schools, their relationships, and dates? I know there are many versions, but which one is this? Or, is it your own?

~~ Huifeng
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:45 pm

Huifeng,

The dates are, of course, all ideal and just works with the assumption that what information we do have about the schools from primary resources is correct - which we should not do if they are not corroborated, which most are not. The dates given are usually nice and round, which makes them more or less unlikely and conventional.

Date of the Buddha
Heinz Bechert's argument for the later date of the Buddha is more convincing to me. I.e. 85-105 (traditionally 100) years before Aśoka's coronation and 30-50 years before Alexander's arrival. Not only does the Ceylonese chronology claim to be incomplete itself, but it looks very unlikely that there would be more than 100 years of stasis in the Sangha. The patriarchs of other traditions, likewise, fit the late date easier if we assume they were not all living as long as biblical patriarchs (yet also assuming they are historical).

The Second and Third Council
Similarly, tradition holds that the second council occurred 100 years after Parinirvana, at the time of Aśoka's coronation. This makes sense, approximately, since the second council would have to occur prior to the third which is held to have occured 17 years into Aśoka's reign, i.e. 251 BCE. Aśoka apparently sent out the missions at this time, giving travel time, I took 250 as a likely date for the founding of the Tamraparnia, i.e. Ceylonese Vibhajyavada. Once again, taking tradition hook, line, and sinker. The Pudgalavada apparently break away around the same time as the Second council, but giving time for consolidation of the Sthaviravada, I set their date as slightly after, as for all of the Pudgalavada schools, I have no clue, Priestly doesn't even give dates for them, so I just ignored them.

The Kasyapiya
The date for the Kasyapiyas is just taken from Warder's "Indian Buddhism." I don't know where he gets the estimate for the turn of the 2nd Century BCE, but assuming he is right, and I don't know of any reasons why he wouldn't, 200 BCE is what I chose to go with. Of course, there is dispute over whether the Kasyapiyas descend from Sarvastivada or Vibhajyavada. Just going with the Mahasangika perspective, which I trust over the Ceylonese due to vicinity, I went with Vibhajyavada - but I also linked it with light arrows to both Sarvastivada and Mahasangika because they apparently held doctrines which were familiar to those schools at the time as well - which may be the source of the mix up in the first place.

Mahasangika Sub-sects
The information on these is very clear in the Sariputrapariprccha and Paramartha also provides some estimates. Taking these on face value, the organisation here is quite simple. The Lokottaravada, Ekavyaharikas and Gokulikas, according to Paramatha, all split away 200 years after the Buddha's Parinirvana, i.e. 168 BCE. They did this according to the degree to which they accepted new doctrines - though they all accepted the transcendental character of the Buddha.

Apparently the Bahusrutiya split away from the Gokulikas, according to the Dipavamsa, who initially rejected new doctrines, after having listened i.e. "srutiya" a lot "bahu" to one of the Buddha's arhats who had meditated for 200 years, awoke and told them that the new doctrines are different levels of revelation - obviously this is likely a later interpolation, but it's nice so I assumed it is also around the time of 168 BCE, but decided to not provide a date just to be safe. The Bahusrutiyas did develop an extensive Mahayana corpus, according to Paramartha and Vasumitra. The Prajnaptivada have doctrines very similar to the Bahusrutiyas, but I have no estimate for their date.

The Caitikas were formed 300 years after the Buddha's Parinirvana according to the Sariputrapariprccha, and it has four break aways, two early on, two later on. The Aparasailika and Uttarasailika both emphasised the transcendece of the Buddha, i.e. "beyond stone." The Rajagirikas and Siddharthikas' dates are both from Warder again. Apparently they were certainly 'transcendental' in tendency and considering when they developed, perhaps may have had something to do with particular tendencies in Mahayana at the time. They also "are said to have held that principles are not classified under other principles, nor conjoined with other principles, and that 'mental principles' ( caitasikas, i.e. the 'forces') do not exist." (313)

Sarvastivada
The Mahisasika and Dharmaguptika lineage is attested in all sources: Dipavamsa, Samayabhedo Paracana Cakra, Vinitadeva, Sariputrapariprccha and Chinese sources. The date of the Mahisasika is entirely my own estimate, but is based upon the fact that, according to Warder, the Dharmaguptikas flourished in Gandhara and Gujarat-Sindh in the 1st Century, and must have thus been developed, at the latest at the turn of the Millennium. Apparently the Mahisasikas may go back to the 2nd council, but I am not convinced, I think it is best to assume that they started to develop at the latest in the 1st Century BCE but then again, I am not sure to what degree the Dharmaguptikas are said to have developed out of them. If they developed as a full break away, an earlier date for the Mahisasikas is more likely, if they developed as the Mahisasikas were developing, then later.

As for the other Sarvastivada lineages, what I provided is pretty shaky. But going with the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism, the middle of the 2nd Century for the Sautrantikas and Vaibhasikas, and the beginning of the 3rd for the Mulasarvastivadins is what I found relatively satisfying for the sake of the diagram. I am aware that these three schools are the subjects of issues which are not completely clear as of yet, but it does agree with most primary sources on the question.

So there you have it. In order to get anything scientifically accurate this is the kind of thing which is worth a few years intense study. But for ease of thinking about what is likely to have occurred, I have found this layout more useful than no layout. Just like speech or the notion of "I," it may not exist in the real world, but exists to aid communication and make thinking about these issues generally an easier process.
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Zhen Li » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:07 pm

Huifeng also mentioned the Darstantikas. I included an updated version incorporating the Darsantikas at an indefinite date assuming they are a predecessor to the Sautrantikas.
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Huifeng » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:19 am

Good work! I agree that a number of years studying this is worthwhile, and even while we may not come to a consensus, we can gradually flesh out the details. I've found Bareau and Yin Shun definitely worth reading on this topic, too.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Zhen Li » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:12 am

Huifeng wrote:Good work! I agree that a number of years studying this is worthwhile, and even while we may not come to a consensus, we can gradually flesh out the details. I've found Bareau and Yin Shun definitely worth reading on this topic, too.

~~ Huifeng

Do you know of some English resources on this topic by Bareau and Yin Shun? My French is tres pauvre and Chinese hao bu.
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Re: When was the first exclusively Mahayana ordination?

Postby Spirituality » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:56 am

JKhedrup wrote:
Now, as to the larger question of the first exclusively Mahayana ordination: is there such a thing? Are there ordinations taking place that are not through the Theravada, Dharmaguptaka, or Mulasarvastivada Vinaya? None of those are "exclusively Mahayana" in any relevant sense.


I agree. These ordination lineages have more to do with geography and the way the vows are listed (though they all cover the same objects of abandonment) rather than any significant doctrinal differences connected with the Mahayana/Sravakayana (theravada) split.

Connected with my query about Atisha was something that I read recently- he was requested to introduce his ordination lineage into Tibet but insisted that the Mulasarvastivada already present there was unbroken and sufficient. It is interesting to note as well that after a period of decline for Buddhism in Tibet there was not a sufficient quorum of monks to pass on the full ordination, so Chinese bhikshus assisted. This would indicate to me that other ordination lineages at least at that time were regarded as pure, no matter what the more crazy fundamentalists try to insist on now :).


There is also the story - in a DromTonPa biography - that Drom advised Atisha against introducing his ordination lineage because he felt the TIbetans needed the slightly stricter one they already had.

(Source: the Dutch 'Dromtonpa, de nederige yogi' translated from the French, which is by Marie-Stella Boussemart, a student of Dagpo Rinpoche's)
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