Karma Dorje wrote:Then why did you accept precepts and undergo formal ordination?
Well, that's how Buddhism nowadays recognizes you as a monk, though I don't think this is necessary actually in order to really be a śramaṇa (precepts don't make you a śramaṇa anymore than the robes would), but nevertheless it is a social convention and construct that enough institutions believe is necessary in order to make it a bureaucratic necessity. If I apply to go to a conference as a sangha member they'll ask, "Who is your preceptor and please give us the details." Some might even ask for an ordination certificate.
In other words, if someone showed up displaying a degree of lucid wisdom and, while displaying outwardly the appearance of a śramaṇa, announced themselves a monk without having received any formal precepts, I would treat them as a monk. Such unorthodox persons of course are rare nowadays and those who would actually go forward like would be on the fringes of Buddhist society.
You might think they're crazy, but then plenty of orthodox monastics don't display great emotional and mental stability either.
I am struggling to understand how taking vows you have no intention to keep is not simply lying.
Where did I say I'm not holding my vows? I said I don't think formal vows are really necessary in order to be a śramaṇa. In essence being a monk is just a social convention, but it is useful nevertheless.
That being said, however, if you study the Vinaya (which I encourage you to do if you haven't) you'll see quite clearly that certain conventions can be dismissed where necessary. As I noted above, the Mahīśāsaka Vinaya quotes the Buddha as stating, "Even if it be something I have prohibited, if it is not considered pure [conduct] in other lands, then it all should not be adopted. Even if it is not something I have prohibited, if something must be carried out in other lands, then it all must be carried out."
This is why your stated concern isn't really a problem.
Technically you're not supposed to eat garlic, but where I come from abstaining from garlic is not considered pure or impure. It makes no sense to people as the aroma isn't considered offensive as it was in ancient Indian culture. So, as the Buddha advised we can do away with certain minor rules.
What seems to be repeatedly overlooked is that these are rules for a community, not just a single person that decides to renovate
Outside of Chinese Buddhism, nobody seems to object much to garlic in the cooking.
There's the wording of the law and then the spirit of the law.
If you study the Vinaya and travel around the Buddhist world a bit as I have you see how all this unfolds in real life on the ground. There's the prescriptive and the descriptive. The only difference is that I'm pointing it all out and proposing modifications to be made as necessary rather than adhering to archaic sets of rules that the Buddha was fine with us changing or dropping as needed.
If the sangha as a group decide that certain rules can be overlooked because they are minor and no longer relevant, that's much different than a single person picking and choosing.
Some people are just individualistic and anarchist at heart. Non-conformist.
That being said, there are of course major components to traditional renunciate practice that are non-negotiable from a purely technical point of view. Celibacy is required because if you want to master the dhyāna-s, then abstaining from impure actions of body, speech and mind is required. If you accept this, then you'll be celibate by virtue of it being required for mastery of dhyāna rather than to merely uphold an institutionalized rule. If you have some wisdom, then you'll naturally not want to steal, harm others or lie.
This, I feel, is the spirit of the śramaṇa path: abstaining from unwholesome and undignified conduct out of a desire for liberation, rather than to safeguard institutional precepts.
Of course in larger communities with a lot of immature youth and/or untamed sentient beings present, you'll need some kind of policy and expectations, but then that is an internal matter rather than a pan-Buddhist concern. In practice it is actually like this, too. Things are never so binary and black & white.
Does your preceptor share your view of the vows as you express it here?