I'm missing something...

Namgyal
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Namgyal » Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:45 pm

In Korea Taego priests often conceal the fact that they are married, and avoid wearing the particular robes which distinguish them from their celibate Chogye counterparts, so there is clearly a stigma there, although this may be partly due to having an association with Japan. I have been to quite a few Buddhist conferences and conventions in which Japanese priests have participated, and in every case I have witnessed Asians dismissing these priests in private because they do not practice celibacy. They may be polite and respectful in public towards these priests, but because they come from cultures in which monastic celibacy is mandatory they view them as inferior, and essentially no different from laypeople.
''...Household life is crowded, a realm of dust, while going forth is the open air...'' [Pabbaja Sutta]
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Sara H
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Sara H » Sun Oct 14, 2012 4:08 pm

The destruction of celibacy actually caused drastic consequences in Zen in Japan.

This disruption can be summed up in five ways:

1) The temples becoming hereditary forced priests to marry and have children (and raise children as a result) in order to keep the temples and temple property in the Buddhist church, thus being forced to give up the practice of being celibate monks, and turning instead into Lay householder priests.

2) It changed the way temples were assigned, so that instead of a main monastery sending out a priest to a temple, it meant that a village temple became solely the charge of one local priest/family thus disrupting the training monastery's control and influence on the local village temple, and by extension, the village itself. This also encouraged the local priest/family to exert more possessiveness over their temple, and be resistant to any change they may not like as a result of that possessiveness, as well as being more influenceable, by the Imperial or other authorities as a consequence of being less merged with the Buddhist church. Thus weakening the influence of Buddhism as a whole.

3) It forced young boys to become Buddhists or practice Buddhism and, to become priests and undergo some monastic training, whether or not it suited them, or whether they were personally inclined to be Buddhists, or not, due to the fact that they had to inherit their fathers temple. This also served to foster resentment toward Buddhism, as well as to weaken the overall average sincerity of practice since many were no longer volunteers.

4) It forced monasteries from previously becoming voluntary training centers where people who wanted to be monastics could train as such; to becoming essentially boarding schools for young boys and men who were charged with taking over their fathers job. This fundamentally changed the nature of the monasteries, to be much more disruptive and harsher environments, including such uses of the "awakening stick" (which was previously used as a gentle massage tool for reliving tension, and to gently tap someone awake if they had fallen asleep, as well as historically as an incense board that held burning incense to hold under a sleepers nose to wake them up) to being used as a disciplinary tool for beating misbehaved boys for enforcing order, as well as generally changing the atmosphere of monasteries from being more contemplative and joyful and voluntary to being more scholastic and disciplinary.

5) The forced male hereditary model made it much more difficult for women to train as monks or priests in Zen. Again, weakening the overall effect and influence of Buddhism as a whole.

So, as we can see, the overall effect was not a positive improvement for Zen at all, and was in fact an extremely negative one. And the decision had more to do with the power and influence Buddhism was perceived to have had, which was a threat to the Emperor, than whether it was good for Buddhism. Which provides ample incentive to reverse or change it when it came to the west, which she (RM Jiyu-Kennett) did.

The reason why many Japanese teachers who came to the west may have seen no reason to change it was because they were raised in it as a part of Japanese culture, so for them it seemed normal and had no reason to question it.

It's sometimes only when an outsider takes a look at it, with the aid of a reformer raised in it on the inside such as Koho Zenji, that such reform becomes possible, and again, in this case, only in another country. Such is the difficulty of reforming institutions.


In Gassho,
Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy

JKhedrup
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:11 pm

Thank you Sara for that very informative posting. When some Vajrayana practitioners argue that monastic life is no longer necessary or viable in Tibetan Buddhism I often point to the current situation in Japan. There is a role for lay teachers of Buddhism, certainly, but if the monastic tradition is cast aside completely I don't think it bodes well for Buddhism.

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Indrajala
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:52 am

Good summary, Sara.

I don't foresee Japanese Buddhism reinstituting celibacy for the simple reason the present model is quite well entrenched. If the leadership are all married with children, how will you expect younger priests to adopt strict celibacy precepts?

Incidentally, with the urbanization of Japan in the last century the number of priests decreased while the population increased. The rural temples all needed a resident priest, but nowadays with so many having abandoned such rural lifestyles those temples are empty. I have heard of people taking an interest in Buddhism, becoming priests on their own accord and then being assigned a temple to manage out in the countryside.

Still, there is no denying Buddhism in Japan is in rapid decline. People just don't care anymore. Older generations will not necessarily automatically take an interest either. In my university there are a number of retired gentlemen going through the whole undergrad to PhD process, but that reflects the interests of an older generation that takes Buddhist thought seriously. Younger generations are largely indifferent.

Buddhism is actually on the decline in much of Asia as youth drift towards secularism. Statistically this is true, too. Fewer people in places like Japan, Singapore and Korea self-identify as Buddhist. Here in Taiwan things appear to be thriving, though the bulk of the membership is made up of older ladies and I don't see many young people looking to sign up.
tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Indrajala
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:06 am

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

JKhedrup
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:19 am

I am glad that things in Taiwan are thriving, it is good to know there is an outpost in the Chinese world where Buddhism can be preserved.
I have heard that in Singapore and Hong Kong, for example, it is very fashionable for the young people to be baptised into the Christian religion and that Evangelical Protestantism is a growing phenomena, is this accurate?

One of my teachers, the current abbot of Sera Jey, journeys to Japan every year to visit one of the largest Shingon monasteries and to give initiations into various Secret Mantra practices like Yamantaka and Green Tara for example, which are always well attended. Groups of people from Japan also came to Sera to receive these teachings. I also understand that there are several study groups connected with Ajahn Chah's Theravada lineage that are very popular in Japan. Fo Guang Shan also has a presence there.

So I wonder if some Japanese are looking to the broader Buddhist world for inspiration to re-invigorate the Buddhism at home.

Matylda
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Matylda » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:05 am


Matylda
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Matylda » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:39 am

Last edited by Matylda on Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:21 am, edited 3 times in total.

Namgyal
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Namgyal » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:50 am

'Seeing bad qualities in others indicates that your own acts have been impure. It is just like seeing your own dirty face in a mirror.' [Jamgon Kongtrul]
'There is no more serious fault either in spiritual or worldly ethics than trying to find the faults of others and defaming them.' [Patrul]

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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Matylda » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:25 am


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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Sherlock » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:08 pm


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Anders
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Anders » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:18 pm

"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"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Huifeng
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Huifeng » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:21 pm



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Huifeng
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Huifeng » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:27 pm



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Indrajala
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:27 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:30 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Indrajala » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:38 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

Matylda
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Matylda » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:43 pm

The incomplete end of celibacy actually caused consequences in Zen in Japan.

This change can be summed up in five ways:

1) There are no hereditary zen temples in Japan, and there is no forceful marriage. However majority choose to do so.To have children (and raise children as a result) is not a problem since you can raise them teaching dharma etc. it is quite often case. Temples are kept in Buddhist church regardless of fact if there is a priest or not. There is no FORCE to give up celibacy. Its a lie. They are neither lay persons, since they are religious men and women.

2) It did not change the way temples were assigned it goes exactly same way like in the past. It is a law. Now is only one difference. Monasteries lost their administrative power, and administration was separated form the big monasteries. Administrative headquarters became most powerful, they are ruling monasteries and parish temples. Village temple did not become solely the charge of one local priest/family and did not disrupt the training monastery's influence on the local village temple. Influence of connection is still very strong, and power of control is for last 130 years kept by headquarters, and local offices of administration. As for the extension, the village is not controlling directly, direct control is in hands of danka, member families of a temple and specially sodaisan, the board. It greatly disciplines and controls abbot. As for possessivness, well, celibate monks have no less power of passion for this, pasiion for power, fame, money etc. goes the same way, sometimes even stronger. Go to Asia and look around. Go to the West and look around, you will see many examples. Each established social group is resistant to any change they may not like change definitely as a result of possessiveness, which developed under spell of possessing and privilege. Weakening influence of Buddhism in Buddhist countries is nothing unusual. On the contrary many possessive Japanese monks with families and hords of kids have genuine interest in dharma.. please visit Japanese monks forums you may read very interesting things and opinions.

3) It forced young boys to become Buddhists or practice Buddhism and, to become priests and undergo some monastic training, whether or not it suited them, or whether they were personally inclined to be Buddhists, or not, :D wow wow wow I must say it is just same like I saw in perfect celibate Buddhist countries... due to the fact that it became social custom and the way to get out of poverty, or for easy and less problematic life. This also served to foster resentment toward Buddhism, as well as to weaken the overall average sincerity of practice since many were no longer volunteers. Like everywhere, like everywhere... again I may say about Japan that 5-10% of ordained are very interested in Dharma and very sincere. Up to 20-30% are good for their communities and helping to keep strong touch with dharma. 10-20% might be much less interested. 1-3% are problem... or maybe less then 1%? who knows???

4) Monasteries for ages were always boarding schools for young boys and men who were for particular reason interested in this way of life, free of trouble, protected by government, and.... giving them power to control lay people. Well once being a monk, one had to hide for 6 months each year... hide in a ''monastery''. Monasteries we know now as such are from the XX century. Before many many temples served as such.. it was a law. Today monasteries are based on the same rules as old ones.
If monks were caught outside of the ''monastery'' during cloister period 2x3 months a year, then they were severely punished, and it was easy to end up in a prison. In this sense nothing changed in the nature of the monasteries, they were always disruptive and had harsh environments, and "awakening stick" was previously used much harder then today, as today it became a gentle massage tool for reliving tension, and to gently tap someone awake if they had fallen asleep. As for the incense board that held burning incense to hold under a sleepers nose to wake them up, wow! I have to ask where one can read about such five star monastery, which used such fine methods??? Sounds like some New Age center :D When monasteries were more contemplative and joyful and voluntary to being more scholastic and disciplinary? In monasteries ancient and modern you find all sorts of characters, even criminals! Monasteries were always quite rigid institutions and were supposed to give an education... Today in Japan much less, since education department in the monastery disappeared, and edu dep. became an independent institution, namely a Buddhist university. So first one goes to uni, then to monastery.

5) The celibate monasteries had forced male hereditary model and made almost impossible for women to train as monks or priests in Zen. Again, weakening the overall effect and influence of Buddhism as a whole. It had not real power but was forced for centuries by government. That is true. Everybody was pretty tired of that kind of Buddhism in Japan as history showed. The change of system opened the society and also gave finally way for women to train, and in the XX century they established themselves very well, with good nunneries and very good female teachers. They have great opinion mostly and also lay women join them for sesshins. Now nuns are very well protected by rules and laws, first time in the 1500 years history of Japanese Buddhism.

So, as we can see, the overall effect of the end of celibacy in Japan was neither positive nor negative for improvement of Zen. Both ways had advantages and disadvantages. Celibate monks supported by state controlled lay population. It invited abuse. Then once system changed lay people got control over temples. And the decision to attack celibacy had to do with the power and influence Buddhism was perceived to have had, but was not a threat to the Emperor. Emperor and his/her court had his 5 minutes with Buddhism from the VII to the XII century, the final result was not good, not at all. There will be no change now I think, maybe not anymore changes, who knows?
The reason why many Japanese teachers who came to the west may have seen no reason to change it was because they were raised in it as a part of Japanese social set up, so for them it seem reality and many had questioned it. Though they may not talk about it to Westerners, why should they? And I think there will be no Western teacher going to Japan or elsewhere trying to change himself or herself. No way. Why should they do it?

It's sometimes when an outsider takes a look at it, does not really understand what is actually seeing, cannot even read Japanese, or understand, cannot do own research but is in hand of others opinions.

Koho Zenji, was never a reformist, NOT AT ALL he was rather on the contrary - a hardliner. Extremely feudal. Read his texts and his biography. See his traces in Japan. Such is the difficulty of reforming institutions. They are reform-less, like all religious institutions.. only when conditions change and force out old ones, then they only try to adjust to new situation and continue old habits.. and again they will represent someones interest. Moreover the reformists, form new institutions which become almost the same like old ones :D

It is the way humans are...


In Gassho,
Matylda


PS. I do not give in, concerning celibacy or noncelibacy, it does really not matter. I have met terrible celibate monks, and wonderful noncelibate monks. I have seen a lot of abuse by celibate monastic institutions, money is the first to mention, and same monasteries of noncelibate etc. etc. But I met wonderful people both celibate and non-celibate in robes. Open and compassionate. This counts. I do not care about celibate boasting idiots who have no even shadow of compassion and have discriminatory personality, such are also in this world. There are also people well representing interest of their group, calling it tradition etc. but are prefect hypocrites having sex, money and manipulation but bashing those who are decent, honest and have families and robes :D

It is really funny how people are so easily misguided just by one little thing called celibacy, which is perfect for those who can humbly carry on... Wow somebody wrote how is frequenting Buddhist summits etc. and how Japanese are treated by ''real'' celibate monks... ''they get what they deserved'', it was a missing part of the clause, but I would ask simply are those who show SUCH ''compassion'' really Buddhists? Do they really follow dharma? Is there any partiality towards ALL beings in dharma? Or are they like some Christians who put it nicely, forgive them, but punish them? Or is compassion and bodhicitta just a mouth service and they cannot keep up with it, only develop sort of terrible character like Devadatta?

I have seen many spots of gatherings for all traditions and never seen things like that even when Japanese were present.

Well just remember some celibate who got wrong politics and were interrogated.. years ago.. some money to pockets of politicians.. big money. But they are celibate and boastful, met some of them.

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Anders
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Anders » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:45 pm

"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"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Sara H
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Re: I'm missing something...

Postby Sara H » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:48 am

"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy


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