Jikan wrote:The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives took up celibacy well after the order was established. I am not clear on the timeline or the reasoning behind this.
It might be because, if I'm not very much mistaken, having Married priests who have jobs, etc, was a Japanese imperial Shinto decree, and not necessarily a Buddhist decision.
It was the Emperor of Japan, who said that temples had to be hereditary, in order to weaken the perceived influence that the Buddhists were having.
The Emperor was Shinto, and Shinto is a religion that includes emperor worship as part of the imperial family being descended from gods who created Japan.
When the you are told that temples of Buddhism must be hereditary, or risk property forfeiture, under the threat of samurai, what can you do? You marry and have kids.
This eventually led to priests being simply another profession in Japan, instead of being monastics.
Koho Zenji, Jiyu-Kennett's teacher when wanting her to bring his branch of Buddhism to the West, I believe wanted her to bring it free of encumbrance of Japanese-ness and of the institutional problems that were going on in Japanese temples. It's important to realize that actual meditation practice among lay people, was not very common in Japan (and I believe still isn't), as well as the result of the hereditary decree, made the monasteries into effective boarding schools for 17-year-old and 20-something young men who were going to have to inherit their father's job of taking care of the family temple. As the hereditary decree was the root of this problem in Japan, and also why they were not celibate over there, bringing back celibate practice for monks and meditation practice for laypeople, seems a logical solution to some of the problems that have existed in Japan
Keep in mind, celibacy has been a part of Buddhism from the very beginning.
A married priesthood was not some modern innovation that was developed internally by Japanese Buddhism; it was forced upon them by rule of Japanese Imperial Decree.
Many Chan orders are celibate, as are Korean Seon sects of Zen.
In Korea, married priests only came there after the Japanese occupation, where it was forced on them.
In the west, many people say, "well they're not celibate in Japan, so why should we be? What's wrong with being not celibate?"
And the answer might be that nothing is wrong with that kindof practice. But that doesn't mean celibacy isn't good for some other people to do.
(Note: We also tend to act like the Japanese have it "all figured out" and that everything is just perfect over there, and that's simply not the case. They do have a heaping share of institutional problems. Simply copying their institutional methods straight across isn't necessarily a good idea, or the best solution to things.
The Japanese also tend to have a pretty strong racial bias towards "Japanese" ways of doing things, even when those things aren't necessarily the best way of doing things.)
In the west, we tend to alternate between two extremes regarding sex and orgasms (which is why we usually want sex).
One is sortof a One is a sortof laisez-faire attitude mixed with an entitled, (and sometimes angry) greed.
The other is sortof an awe-filled starry-eyed prudish fear and holy worship of it.
This might be and probably is due to our mixed feelings history regarding western religions treatment of sex and orgasm, as well as the Catholic church and other forms of Abrahamic religion in general.
But there is a middle ground between a libertine greed, and a puritanical fear.
Because hormones and sexuality is such a huge part of who we are as human beings, celibacy is a helpful practice for some people.
So in the OBC they have it as an option in the form of monastic training. There are lay ministers and other options for people who want to do householder training. That way there are more options for people based upon their individual spiritual needs rather than sticking to a one-way-is-right-for-everybody approach.
There are some people who were a part of the OBC early on who disagreed with the structural changes, mainly because they personally were effected by the change. But I think this is normal for any organization undergoing policy and structural changes. There are always going to be some people who disagree with a policy or structural change, and leave an organization. This is true for any organization, companies as well. The "Order of Buddhist Contemplatives" (OBC) was actually the result of this, it was the "Zen Mission Society" before that.
Overall, the providing of additional options and putting it on monastic/householder training lines seems to have been helpful.
Before that they had kids living in the Monasteries, which really isn't the best place for kids to be growing up in, and parents taking leave from their kids to do part time monastic training, when they really should have been with their kids, and property issues related to joined property and inheritance issues, and all of that kindof thing.
Keeping it separate has made things a lot simpler as well as providing additional training options available to practitioners.
So the overall effect seems to have been a positive improvement.
I hope this helps answer some questions,
In Gassho, friend,
"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,
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer
" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy