Dealing With Desire

General forum on Mahayana.

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:34 am

Malcolm wrote:There were and are all kinds of mendicants in yellow robes in India, not just Buddhists.


Buddhists were specifically targeted in purges and attacks. The reason later on places like Nalanda became fortresses was because of extreme hostility from Brahmin culture, which saw Buddhists as heretics. When monasticism ceased being feasible given the losing war, Vajrayāna circles developed secret organizations with their altars hidden away. This is why some Vajrayāna texts demand that the practitioner never reveal the location of the altar to the uninitiated. Nevertheless, prior to these developments monasticism served an essential function in Indian Buddhism. In the early days it was much less organized, but still my point remains: things can be adapted and modified as necessary. In the early days landed monasticism was unnecessary, but then it became necessary, so things were adapted and sets of rules drafted for those purposes.


My position on this has not changed one iota. The fact that there are so called Buddhist "monks" who do not have vows, and generally behave like ordinary people just illustrates my point even more.


There are monks who have vows and behave like ordinary people, too, so your point isn't very strong.

Precepts don't make a renunciate anymore than elaborate rites do.

In the East Asian context, you need to understand that the Vinaya was largely considered a specific, not intrinsic practice, for monks. You could be a monk (僧侶) just by virtue of having been tonsured by your master. The Indian legal definitions were only applicable to scholastics in the formal Vinaya schools and maybe the associated institutions connected to the central state, but for most Buddhist monastics in China and Japan, the Vinaya was often irrelevant to them. If you weren't part of the Vinaya school, you probably didn't have much to do with it. Aristocrats of course went through ordination ceremonies to legitimize their positions as bureaucrats (another example of ordination and renunciation not being the same thing).

In modern times the Chinese have seriously revived the Vinaya, but even pre-WWII it was often a matter of going through the motions of "receiving precepts" and then shelving the Vinaya manual somewhere, never to look at it again.

So, were countless millions of bald men and women throughout 20 centuries in East Asia practising the path just laity pretending to be monks? According to you, yes, but according to their own traditions and values, they were renunciates and legitimate monks.



Yes, and there is no precept against smoking tobacco, despite the fact that Buddha would have disapproved of it.


According to the Vinaya he allowed disciples to smoke herbs in a pipe if it was so needed as medicine.

But this is not how it is for us today. In order to become any kind of ordained person up to bhikṣu, you must become ordained through a rite.


Why? Why can't someone set on liberation and renunciation put on robes and go forward on their own initiative? Why is it that their status has to be legitimized through a rite? Why are you so attached to forms and procedures?

I went through a rite, but to be honest I feel such things are unnecessary. Precepts and rites do not make for renunciation of saṃsāra. They just make someone a bhikṣu by legal definition, which is entirely subjective and institutional. In most countries now it has no relevance in secular law, either.


Or are you suggesting we can just dispense with ordination rites as well, since after all, Buddha did not use them in the beginning?


I would be fine with it. Ordination ceremonies and precepts clearly don't stop people from misbehaving, just as in Vajrayāna samaya breakers exist despite all the vows and ceremonies that go with taking on a guru. I think peer pressure does a better job of stopping people from misbehaving than ceremonies and precepts ever can.

Ordination in any case is a social construct. Renunciation is something else.



Ananda, as we know, forgot to ask what "minor" meant and no one so far as had the arrogance to decide what that meant.


No, the various Vinaya schools of India define what they think "minor" meant.



Statements like this merely prove that this age is not a suitable age for monasticism. Pretty soon we will see Buddhist "monks" "inventing" rules that allow one to be married, non-celibate, and wealthy (Oh wait, we already have that in Japan).


In Japan nobody invented new rules permitting marriage. They just ignore their old rules. Get you facts straight.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:04 am

As you know from the E-sangha debacle, for me a Buddhist "monk" is a bhikṣu. So called Buddhist "monks" who are not bhikṣus, etc., are just celibate/non-celibate lay people.

Malcolm,
I agree about the terminology, though monk anyways is problematic- I have no problem with it being used to describe both sramaneras and bhikshus though, as both are part of the monastic structure. People without vows who maintain a celibate lifestyle could be considered householder brahmacaris. Also, many people don't realize that it is possible to take a vow of celibacy and remain as a householder within our Tibetan tradition, such a person is known as a full genyen.

Ven. Indrajala within the Mulasarvastivada literature, especially Kunkyen Tsonawa's commentary on the Vinaya, there is a great amount of detail about the function of the ordination and various people who perform it. I would imagine you find this in the Dharmagupta as well, and certainly it is a huge topic of discussion (and sometimes contention) in the Theravada world.

I would argue that the procedural nature of the Vinaya came about due to the conditions of India in addition to the bad behaviour of some of the early disciples of Lord Buddha. The tradition of the wandering ascetic was well established in India but sadhus who answered to no one and without any structure led to many many practical problems. For those few parahamsas they are beyond institutions, but in the early stages little oversight led to some very strange behaviour and waning support from the laypeople.

In fact, Adi Shankara , who sought to respond to the growing popularity of Buddhism, reinvigorated the Hindu monastic orders along the lines of a more formally organized Sangha with rules, precepts and formal communities inspired by the monastic structures of Buddhism. In India while there are some Hindus who find some of the loosely organized Sadhus inspiring, most families trust their offerings for renunciates to the organized monastic movements such as the Ramakrishna Mission, Swaminarayan BAPS movement, ISKCON and other Gaudiya organizations, etc.

There is something to be said for organized institutions and transmissions, despite their problems. A bunch of self-proclaimed renunciants running around is not necessarily a good thing. It worked partly in China I think because Buddhism was never a majority religion, and Chinese culture was fundamentally opposed to monasticism in many ways due to the pervasive influence of Confucianism. Except during brief periods of dynasties friendly to Buddhism, strong monastic institutions could have been seen as a threat to the stability of the Confucian societal norms.
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
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:21 am

JKhedrup wrote: People without vows who maintain a celibate lifestyle could be considered householder brahmacaris. Also, many people don't realize that it is possible to take a vow of celibacy and remain as a householder within our Tibetan tradition, such a person is known as a full genyen.


These are just ecclesiastical definitions that have little bearing on the actual purpose of renunciation. The purpose of being a "monk" in Buddhism is not to undergo a formal ordination ceremony and be certified as having "left the home life" by institutional authorities. The Buddha didn't formulate such conventions, let alone insist on everyone having vows and being classified as X kind of renunciate. There were plenty of disciples who just showed up and were welcomed as bhikṣu-s.

The bizarre thing is that the vows we cherish so much now are just house rules laid down because, apparently, some monks and nuns screwed up in the past and caused a disturbance. Svagata got wasted, vomited all over himself and passed out in front of the Buddha (or outside the park gate depending on the version of the story), hence there was a rule laid down against alcohol, which later became a fossilized precept; ordination thereafter required that you vow not to consume any alcohol.

So these vows that you insist are so important were formulated because people behaved foolishly. Nuns vow not to cross a bridge with a monk because some silly nun started shaking a rope bridge one day and poor Mahākāśyapa fell into the river (this is probably pure fiction, but who knows).

Is that really so sacred that it requires a sacred vow? Can't we just cut that out since it seems pretty irrelevant and childish?

Ven. Indrajala within the Mulasarvastivada literature, especially Kunkyen Tsonawa's commentary on the Vinaya, there is a great amount of detail about the function of the ordination and various people who perform it. I would imagine you find this in the Dharmagupta as well, and certainly it is a huge topic of discussion (and sometimes contention) in the Theravada world.


I've translated two thick books on the subject of the Vinaya and studied it for my own purposes, too. My conclusion is that I agree with Jizang that the Vinaya is for people with "dull roots".

That doesn't mean we do away with the śramaṇa lifestyle. No, we just recognize that renunciation and the śramaṇa lifestyle are completely different from Vinaya-based monasticism.


I would argue that the procedural nature of the Vinaya came about due to the conditions of India in addition to the bad behaviour of some of the early disciples of Lord Buddha.


Humans solve problems through increasing complexity. The Vinaya literature was a result of increasing complexity to address problems that were arising, probably with the shift towards landed monasticism and dependence on middle-class and up benefactors who demanded the image of purity as a condition for making offerings.

That being said, human societies and communities seldom voluntarily sacrifice complexity. This is what makes simplification, even when it is sensible, so difficult.

In India while there are some Hindus who find some of the loosely organized Sadhus inspiring, most families trust their offerings for renunciates to the organized monastic movements such as the Ramakrishna Mission, Swaminarayan BAPS movement, ISKCON and other Gaudiya organizations, etc.


Again, it is the image of purity that matters. You know as well as I do that what goes on behind closed doors in religious communities can be pretty dark and disagreeable, yet outwardly they project purity. This is to ensure that the offerings continue coming. The benefactors get a religious high from making offerings to a community they think are pure and holy.

The system works, sure, but then it is dishonest at a certain level.

As we just finished discussing earlier, Bhutanese monasteries are making condoms freely available. Clearly the Vinaya system isn't working there. Is it the fault of the system? No, but the existence of laws does not necessarily mean that people stop behaving in disagreeable ways. Peer pressure is a better tool for that purpose.


A bunch of self-proclaimed renunciants running around is not necessarily a good thing.


A bunch of formally ordained monks in Bhutan needing condoms to stop STD transmission (including HIV) is not necessarily working out so well, either. You hear horror stories from elsewhere, too. Wait until Asia's youth are empowered enough to start criticizing sacred religious institutions.

In the early days even Mahākāśyapa complained that the rules were not really working with new disciples. Having rules and punitive measures doesn't necessarily deter everyone from misbehaving. Having a common, rational and consensus-based system is far superior. This means that people come together for their mutual interest, as was the case in the early sangha. It means the rulebook can be updated and revised accordingly, as the Buddha suggested.

Personally I'm in favour of minimalist procedures and rules. If you need a vow against having sex to remain celibate, then clearly you're not really interested in being a śramaṇa from the start. If you need a vow to stop yourself from committing homicide, then you probably shouldn't be living as a monk in a religion based around non-violence. In a centralized authoritarian style of monastic system, you need clearly defined rules and regulations, like in the case of Bhutan: you can't technically force someone to disrobe if they thigh hump someone. You can only force them to disrobe if they penetrate an orifice. Realistically such people should be encouraged to go home.

This again is a fault of large scale institutions. If you had small decentralized communities, then it would be pretty easy for the leader or community as a small whole to politely encourage such members to leave without having to defer to the fine points of ecclesiastical law.

I believe my anarchist inclinations are coming through here.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:42 am

The system works, sure, but then it is dishonest at a certain level.

As we just finished discussing earlier, Bhutanese monasteries are making condoms freely available. Clearly the Vinaya system isn't working there. Is it the fault of the system? No, but the existence of laws does not necessarily mean that people stop behaving in disagreeable ways. Peer pressure is a better tool for that purpose.


I would argue, though, that a loosely federated community of recluses can be just a dark- I just don't see how it is a better system. Since you are in India you should go to the Kumbh Melha and you will see what I mean. The lack of structure has not led to an increased purity or peer-enforced standards. It has led to no standards at all. Many Hindus I spoke to in India who witnessed the event were deeply shaken. OK, perhaps behaving in such a way removes a veil of hypocrisy to some degree, but I strongly disagree that without institutions self-regulation will lead to improved commitment to renunciation, brahmacariya, etc.

The Buddha didn't formulate such conventions, let alone insist on everyone having vows and being classified as X kind of renunciate. There were plenty of disciples who just showed up and were welcomed as bhikṣu-s.


While some scholarship agrees with this opinion it is definitely not held to across the board, even in the academic community, so people should know this is one opinion. Most traditional Buddhist teachers would state it began with "come forth Bhikkhu" but the establishment of rules and procedures of ordination occurred while Lord Buddha was still alive.

I've translated two thick books on the subject of the Vinaya and studied it for my own purposes, too. My conclusion is that I agree with Jizang that the Vinaya is for people with "dull roots"


Dull roots would include many of us, I include myself in this category. Vinaya can be a very useful tool for mindfulness, but to see it cultivated in this context unfortunately one really needs to spend time in a Theravada community.

That doesn't mean we do away with the śramaṇa lifestyle. No, we just recognize that renunciation and the śramaṇa lifestyle are completely different from Vinaya-based monasticism.


I agree that the Vinaya and renunciation are two different things. Renunciation is the wish to definitely emerge from samsara, and one does not need to be a monastic to cultivate this. However, the vows are a profound assist to many in developing the spirit of renunciation, because the wonders of samsara can be intoxicating.

If you need a vow against having sex to remain celibate, then clearly you're not really interested in being a śramaṇa from the start. If you need a vow to stop yourself from committing homicide, then you probably shouldn't be living as a monk in a religion based around non-violence. In a centralized authoritarian style of monastic system, you need clearly defined rules and regulations, like in the case of Bhutan: you can't technically force someone to disrobe if they thigh hump someone. You can only force them to disrobe if they penetrate an orifice. Realistically such people should be encouraged to go home.


The benefit of having and maintaining vows is described at length in the various Pitakas of Buddhist literature as well as the Tantras, I am sure that you have looked at many of the texts so either it means you aren't convinced by the reasoning or maybe think there is a meaning apart from what is plainly stated (which is fine, I'm interested in hearing it).

As for the thigh humping, this can be added to the institutional rules and made grounds for expulsion. There are many offences that are grounds for expulsion at Tibetan monasteries that are not included in the Vinaya- for example, saying you are fundraising for the monastery when you are only fundraising for the small house group of your own students.

This again is a fault of large scale institutions. If you had small decentralized communities, then it would be pretty easy for the leader or community as a small whole to politely encourage such members to leave without having to defer to the fine points of ecclesiastical law.


I am not so convinced, having seen a small forest monastery community in Thailand where the abbot drank and watched TV most of the day and the novices had no guidance and were allowed to run wild.
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
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby mandala » Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:47 am

JKhedrup wrote: But I don't see enough reasonably sane Westerners taking it up and keeping their ordination for significant periods of time.

Due to the sad reality of the situation, my first question to would-be Western ordinands has to be "how will you support yourself?". And if the answer is by working a regular job in a non-dharma environment, I advise them it isn't a good idea to ordain.


That does seem to be the major stumbling block for westerners wanting to ordain - having the means to support yourself.
FPMT stipulates you cannot return to ordinary work (working in dharma activities is ok) once ordained.

It's a strange predicament if someone 'can't afford to become a monk/nun' though. Which makes me think, is the future forward for western monasteries being able to provide more opportunities for dharma-related employment?
User avatar
mandala
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:51 pm

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:28 am

JKhedrup wrote: Since you are in India you should go to the Kumbh Melha and you will see what I mean.


I'm not proposing going Sadhu or anything like that. We just need to keep things simple. If you're a śramaṇa, remain single and celibate. Behave yourself. Speak the truth, speak well, speak clearly. Try to emulate the Buddha as best you can.

While some scholarship agrees with this opinion it is definitely not held to across the board, even in the academic community, so people should know this is one opinion. Most traditional Buddhist teachers would state it began with "come forth Bhikkhu" but the establishment of rules and procedures of ordination occurred while Lord Buddha was still alive.


There were rules of course, but whether the events purportedly having led to their formulation really occurred or not is questionable. Some of the stories are utterly ridiculous and juvenile. The six "bad monks" apparently once threatened to assault people while they were meditating for a good laugh. Well, as a grown adult do you feel you need to be held to account because of their stupid behaviour?


The benefit of having and maintaining vows is described at length in the various Pitakas of Buddhist literature as well as the Tantras, I am sure that you have looked at many of the texts so either it means you aren't convinced by the reasoning or maybe think there is a meaning apart from what is plainly stated (which is fine, I'm interested in hearing it).


By that logic we should take on as many vows as possible, even coming up with new ones and then following them. You actually see this logic in Vinaya literature where there are really 84,000 precepts.

I think what maintaining behavioural precepts really generates is commitment and endurance. On the other hand, having a vow against not threatening to stab people in the face with your hand unfurled like a knife when they're quietly meditating is not really so grand a vow in my opinion. Vowing never to turn away a being in aid is far more virtuous. Vowing to never harm others with body, speech and mind is truly virtuous.

There's basically a difference between a vow or aspiration to do virtue (or abstain from evil) and a precept meant to regulate behaviour in a way favourable to institutional concerns (like preserving an image of purity in the eyes of benefactors).

Vows to do virtue and abstain from evil are of course meritorious, but we should be reasonable and general with them. I don't see how vowing to not walk along a bridge with the opposite sex is really necessary.


As for the thigh humping, this can be added to the institutional rules and made grounds for expulsion


As you're aware though, you can't modify the traditional Vinayas any longer. They're set in stone. You're not allowed to add or remove anything. The rules state it is only a pārājika if there is penetration, otherwise it is a saṃghāvaśeṣa provided there is ejaculation (sthūlātyaya if they don't ejaculate). You might tell them to leave your monastery by the authority of the abbot, but that's not defrocking.

Curiously, some commentary literature says that a saṃghāvaśeṣa concealed constitutes a pārājika, but that's not the original Vinaya text itself.

In any case, we should be able to modify the rules or cut away things seen as irrelevant, or add things that should be in there (like don't bring your mobile phone into the shrine hall).

. There are many offences that are grounds for expulsion at Tibetan monasteries that are not included in the Vinaya- for example, saying you are fundraising for the monastery when you are only fundraising for the small house group of your own students.


Right, but that's not defrocking. The perpetrator has the right to move elsewhere. They still have their status as a monk or nun.



I am not so convinced, having seen a small forest monastery community in Thailand where the abbot drank and watched TV most of the day and the novices had no guidance and were allowed to run wild.


A pāyattika (the drinking) isn't a big deal. You can just confess it. There's a lot of loopholes in the Vinaya system that make opportunism an easy option.

At the end of the day institutional Buddhism will always have such very human problems. This is maybe an uncomfortable reality, especially for people who want to believe in an entirely pure and holy sangha in the world.

I once went looking for a perfect sangha and was perpetually disenchanted, especially after seeing how things work in various countries (Japan, Taiwan, China, Nepal, Canada, India).

I realized what I took refuge in was the ideals of arhatship and bodhisattvahood: the ārya-saṃgha. Faith in the sangha aspect of the Triple Gem is directed at the goal of liberation and those who have attained it, not ordinary people who have a legal and orthodox ordination plus the accompanying certification and team colours.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:33 am

mandala wrote:FPMT stipulates you cannot return to ordinary work (working in dharma activities is ok) once ordained.


Such stipulations would make more sense if FPMT gave some kind of stipends or guaranteed support (food, shelter, clothing, visas, medicine, etc...) for their ordinands.

It's a strange predicament if someone 'can't afford to become a monk/nun' though. Which makes me think, is the future forward for western monasteries being able to provide more opportunities for dharma-related employment?


I think western monasteries need to learn how to generate monthly income. Funds collected through rents is one way.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:13 pm

Indrajala wrote:Humans solve problems through increasing complexity. The Vinaya literature was a result of increasing complexity to address problems that were arising, probably with the shift towards landed monasticism and dependence on middle-class and up benefactors who demanded the image of purity as a condition for making offerings.

That being said, human societies and communities seldom voluntarily sacrifice complexity. This is what makes simplification, even when it is sensible, so difficult.


Actuallly this point is not quite accurate. Humans initially solve problems by increasing complexity. After a point they begin simplifying that particular system usually by subsuming the complexity under generalized forms (in which case the complexity itself is not sacrificed but dealing with it or thinking about it becomes easier). Another strategy really is eliminating some of the complexity that is no longer useful.

This progression from complex to the less complex in some manner is seen universally over time (and there's the rub - how much time) in language and software systems. Language universally proceeds from the complex to the less complex. This takes thousands of years. Software systems proceed from a simpler state to a more complex state and then through several reorganizations and revisions and often appear to be less complex in their end state (and sometimes are actually less complex). More often they are less complex in particular details with better interfaces at multiple levels that enable people to deal with the system better at those levels.

Humans almost always simplify systems after a period of complexity. This is true in any system I can think of including law and religion. However it takes time.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4498
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:26 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I would argue, though, that a loosely federated community of recluses can be just a dark- I just don't see how it is a better system. Since you are in India you should go to the Kumbh Melha and you will see what I mean. The lack of structure has not led to an increased purity or peer-enforced standards. It has led to no standards at all. Many Hindus I spoke to in India who witnessed the event were deeply shaken.


Really? Sadhus are misbehaving at the Kumbh Melha?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4498
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:52 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:There were and are all kinds of mendicants in yellow robes in India, not just Buddhists.


Buddhists were specifically targeted in purges and attacks.


You deliberately missed my point — Brahmins were generally suspicious of shramanas of all denominations, not just Buddhist ones.


My position on this has not changed one iota. The fact that there are so called Buddhist "monks" who do not have vows, and generally behave like ordinary people just illustrates my point even more.


There are monks who have vows and behave like ordinary people, too, so your point isn't very strong.


Yes, there are such monks. But the force of the ordination rite changes the nature of behavior that one is following.

Precepts don't make a renunciate anymore than elaborate rites do.


No, of course not. The desire to take vows should stem from a renunciate's desire to deepen their renunciation.


So, were countless millions of bald men and women throughout 20 centuries in East Asia practising the path just laity pretending to be monks? According to you, yes, but according to their own traditions and values, they were renunciates and legitimate monks.


They were lay Mahāyāna practitioners.


Yes, and there is no precept against smoking tobacco, despite the fact that Buddha would have disapproved of it.


According to the Vinaya he allowed disciples to smoke herbs in a pipe if it was so needed as medicine.


Yes, as they would have been allowed to drink. But tobacco is a vice, and unlike alcohol, no medical use has been found for it Asian culture anywhere.



But this is not how it is for us today. In order to become any kind of ordained person up to bhikṣu, you must become ordained through a rite.


Why? Why can't someone set on liberation and renunciation put on robes and go forward on their own initiative? Why is it that their status has to be legitimized through a rite? Why are you so attached to forms and procedures?


There is a transmission involved in being ordained. Vinaya ordination requires a preceptor and quorum of monks who have intact vows who are able to transmit those vows; unlike Mahāyāna bodhisattva precepts, which may be undertaken by oneself in absence of a teacher directly from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Without that ordination, one cannot be considered a Buddhist monk of any kind. For example, I am sngags pa. Not your average everyday kind of Vajrayāna practitioner that has general samaya. You cannot just invent yourself as a Ngagpa -- though people do -- you must receive a special type of empowerment to be a Ngakpa. Then you may not cut your hair and so on. There are specific reasons for this which are connected with practice.

Likewise with ordination as a novice or a bhikṣu. In the Tibetan tradition, there are many people who remain lifelong shramaneras, often because they regard holding bhiḳsu vows too difficult and because it is far less restrictive. But there are specific reasons connected with the bhikṣu vows, and since they are an intact body of vows in each tradition, they are received and transmitted in blocks necessarily. None of the them may be dispensed with. If someone cannot follow a given rule, then it must be confessed, acknowledged etc. This is your peer pressure. Without the support of posadha recitation, Buddhist monasticism swiftly degenerates.

I went through a rite, but to be honest I feel such things are unnecessary.


Proof we live in a degenerate era.

Ordination in any case is a social construct. Renunciation is something else.


Ordination is not merely a social construct — it is a tradition that comes from awakened people.

Ananda, as we know, forgot to ask what "minor" meant and no one so far as had the arrogance to decide what that meant.


No, the various Vinaya schools of India define what they think "minor" meant.


No, he forgot to ask, and no one felt they knew which minor vows the Buddha meant.



In Japan nobody invented new rules permitting marriage.


I had "invented" in brackets. I know they just ignored their ordination rules.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12150
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:02 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Right, but that's not defrocking. The perpetrator has the right to move elsewhere. They still have their status as a monk or nun.




Yes, it is. If you get kicked out of your monastery, you will disrobe. The perpetrator does not have the right to move elsewhere. In order to join a monastery you need sponsorship and references. No one will touch a monk who has been expelled from their monastery in the Tibetan tradition.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12150
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:07 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Precepts don't make a renunciate anymore than elaborate rites do.


No, of course not. The desire to take vows should stem from a renunciate's desire to deepen their renunciation.


There we go! :woohoo: :cheers:

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4498
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:32 pm

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Precepts don't make a renunciate anymore than elaborate rites do.


No, of course not. The desire to take vows should stem from a renunciate's desire to deepen their renunciation.


There we go! :woohoo: :cheers:

Kirt



On the other hand, kirt, if you have a problem with drinking then you should take a vow not to drink.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12150
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Jikan » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:43 pm

Malcolm wrote:I had "invented" in brackets. I know they just ignored their ordination rules.


It's a bit more complicated than that if you look at it historically. If we're considering the transformations brought by the Meiji period, in which changes in Buddhist institutions leading to the establishment of family temples took place, changes that were mandated by the state and enforced by state coersion, then "ignored" is probably not the right verb to describe what these practitioners had to do under the circumstances.

It's true that the practitioners who ordained by the Brahma Net Sutra framework as established by Saicho are not monks (bikkshus) in the strict sense you've described. Thinking sociologically and not semantically: Does their role correspond in the strict sense to a layperson, though? Analogy: is a ngakpa considered a layperson, even when he is in the role of a teacher?
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5294
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:48 pm

Indrajala wrote: The first disciples had no precepts because precepts only came to exist, at least as the story goes, because of incidents occurring that caused problems for the community.


As Malcolm pointed out later many of the first disciples quickly progressed to Stream Entry. On top of that, all the initial disciples (the original five) became Arhats within a week. This pattern continued for some time with many of the initial disciples becoming Arhats pretty quickly.

So at what point in Buddha Shakyamuni's teaching career did precepts actually arise? Was it within the first five years, first few hundred disciples, etc. or was it in the middle or closer to his Parinirvana?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4498
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:50 pm

Indrajala wrote:There are monks who have vows and behave like ordinary people, too, so your point isn't very strong.



Malcolm wrote:Yes, there are such monks. But the force of the ordination rite changes the nature of behavior that one is following.


Ideally. You're just telling me what the manual says, not how real life works.





There is a transmission involved in being ordained.


So where is this transmission?

The Vinaya thinkers of the past tried to say it was a non-manifest form dharma (the "precept essence"), but what I've read is usually rather unconvincing and pretty logically inconsistent, to say nothing of unbelievable. In order for this essence to be transmitted it requires ten pure bhikṣu-s. So, every generation of ten bhikṣu-s going back twenty-five centuries had to have been pure with all their transgressions specifically confessed in order for you to receive this essence now.

There's alternative theories, but I don't find them terribly convincing as metaphysical explanations. Ordination is a ceremonial rite charged with meaning and it can be transformative like any ritual, but I just don't see it as entirely necessary. If you want to be a śramaṇa and behave like one, then you're a śramaṇa, i.e., a monk. If you're a student of the Buddha's teachings, you're a Buddhist monk. You don't need anyone's consent or acknowledgement to be a śramaṇa.



Vinaya ordination requires a preceptor and quorum of monks who have intact vows who are able to transmit those vows


And all their preceptors and their own going back twenty-some centuries were all having intact vows? If somewhere along the line there was one monk who was at fault but didn't cough up his transgressions, then the transmission was halted.

So by your reasoning we can safely assume there's no more intact Vinaya transmissions any longer. This was actually something Hongyi believed about China: that there's no more real bhikṣu-s in China anymore. The formalities are all there, but no real essence is being transmitted.

In any case it is all quite arbitrary and it cannot be even logically demonstrated as anything more than a religious belief.


Proof we live in a degenerate era.


Sign of the times, eh. :roll:

You keep talking about degeneration, which in some respects I'm inclined to agree. However, this overwhelming reification and belief you have really should not be used to explain everything you find disagreeable.


Ordination is not merely a social construct — it is a tradition that comes from awakened people.


You once said samaya is a social construct. How can you argue that while saying ordination is not?

viewtopic.php?f=48&t=4292&p=91376&hilit=samaya+is+a+social+construct#p91376


Malcolm wrote:Samaya is a social construct, and has no meaning outside of that construct. For example, samaya represents a contract between two people, a teacher and a student. But the salient point is that it is a two way contract and the teacher is as obliged to observe these comittments as the student.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:53 pm

Nighthawk wrote:Malcolm, drinking wine is a violation of a basic Buddhist precept. Can one intentionally also break the other four and still able to gain some type of enlightenment in Vajrayana?



Drinking wine is not a violation of five precepts, getting intoxicated is.

As far as the the other four precepts, they must be observed by everyone. Of course, when one becomes sufficiently mature, one ceases to wish to kill, steal, lie or engage in sexual misconduct, and even, become intoxicated.

Vasubandhu's opinion that madana means even a single drop of alcohol is highly debatable.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12150
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby 5heaps » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:03 pm

Malcolm wrote:
5heaps wrote:
Malcolm wrote: I have met four people who I am certain are/were genuinely realized people on the bhumis

how do you tell that it is not merely something like coarse selflessness ie. that persons are btags-yod rather than substantially knowable as they appear now



Can you rephrase the question in English?

how can you tell theyve realized emptiness and not one of the coarser and more common yogic direct perceivers, such as the lack of substantially knowable persons, or subtle impermanence
5heaps
 
Posts: 432
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:09 am

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:51 pm

kirtu wrote:As Malcolm pointed out later many of the first disciples quickly progressed to Stream Entry. On top of that, all the initial disciples (the original five) became Arhats within a week. This pattern continued for some time with many of the initial disciples becoming Arhats pretty quickly.


I think that's because many were already mature śramaṇa-s, and not starting from nothing.

So at what point in Buddha Shakyamuni's teaching career did precepts actually arise? Was it within the first five years, first few hundred disciples, etc. or was it in the middle or closer to his Parinirvana?


The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya records that the first precept the Buddha established for the bhikṣus was the precept against sex. The Buddha was in Vaiśālī five years after his enlightenment. It was the fifth half-moon of winter on the twelfth day when after eating he sat eastward with a man's half-shadow and he established the precept for the elder Yaśa Kalandaka Putra.

Of the various Vinayas it is only the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya which records the approximate date and time for when precepts were established, but this is only limited to the four pārājika-s.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:56 pm

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote: Why have these two lamas [HHST and HE Ratna Vajra](and many others) not leapt directly to Malcolm’s solution of maintaining transcendent awareness or constantly dwelling in the Bodhi mind?


Now you are projecting -- I never proposed such a solution. I merely pointed out what HH Sakya Trizin taught so many years ago when I first took teachings from him: that in this day and age, the path of renunciation was not effective anymore, and practicing Vajrayāna teachings such as Hevajra which did not involve giving up sense objects was more effective in this epoch.


When HHST makes this statement he is speaking in general. Secondly his exact statement that:

in this day and age, the path of renunciation was not effective anymore,


refers primarily to the Sravaka path and is his standard introduction to Vajrayana usually just before he gives the Hevajra empowerment. It is meant as an explanation of why he is giving the empowerment to begin with.

This statement does not mean that for some people in some circumstances, renunciation is not the appropriate medicine.

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
I'm somewhat surprised to hear this as there are several Western people who have ordained in the Sakya lineage. I think that some of these Westerners sell others a bit short and quote HE Dezhung Rinpoche's somewhat pessimistic remarks from ~26 years ago (something that Trungpa for one addressed).


There are a few, but not so many. And we will see how long they last.


Currently the obstacles are great. However if the Sakya lineage does not help by at least providing moral support to people interested in becoming Bhikshus/ Bhikshunis then there is a problem and the lineage will have a hard time making inroads in the West. It appears to me that part of the problem is the perception on the part of some Sakyapas that Westerners are children (admittedly not entirely unfounded but not something to resign the lineage to either).

kirtu wrote:I said that you advocate dropping formally taking precepts.
Malcolm wrote:Actually, I never said anything such thing. I said it was pointless to take ordination as a bhikṣu in this day and age. I never said that avoiding the ten non-virtues should be ignored (nor would I), I never suggested that people avoid receiving bodhisattva vows, etc.


No you did not suggest that people avoid receiving Bodhisattva Vows. You seemed to have a negative stance on taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts and possibly Nyungne practice. I apologize if I misunderstood you. If appears that I mistakenly generalized that into just dropping formally taking precepts and just focusing on Ati.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
User avatar
kirtu
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4498
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:29 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

PreviousNext

Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests

>