rory wrote:Stone in "Original Enlightenment" makes the point that de facto clerical marriage is attested from the Nara period & by Heian times was widespread.
Actually the state forbid monastic clergy from marriage from early on. Though enforcement was an issue.
The Taihō Code 大宝律令 (Jpn. Taihō-ritsuryō
) of 701, like the Tang codes on which it was based, distinguish between clergy who are renunciates (i.e., those who had left their households) and those who are not. The former were monks, the latter were not.
This was hard to enforce and even in China there were plenty of married men with ordination certificates. Ordination as a clergyman was useful because it made you exempt from taxations and labour duties. Such certificates were a commodity.
In the context of our discussion I was referring to those monks or supposed renunciates who were living as monks during the late 19th century and only abided by monastic precepts for fear of punishment, but given the freedom to eat meat and marry, they did. There was a precedent from this from early on, though the state did not appreciate it in even the earliest of times and in my estimation many such married clergymen were probably, like in China, just using such a position to avoid taxation.
Japan never accepted celibacy the way the Chinese did.
The reality is that much of Japanese Buddhism did have a strong monastic element. Monastic as in celibate and unmarried. There used to be the Vinaya and even Saichō in his reforms demanded his disciples follow all the bodhisattva precepts, which includes celibacy. In China during the Tang Dynasty, as I noted, they had problems with married men holding ordination certificates. There was also the Sanjie Jiao 三階教 which believed it was the dharma ending age and thus abandonment of precepts (捨戒), which were of no use, was to be encouraged. Hence, abandonment of precepts would mean abandoning celibacy commitments.
In the case of Shinran he was a radical and does not really reflect his times.