Taego Lineage Seminary

Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Jikan » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:38 pm

A friend of mine recently committed to train & ordain in the Taego Order. He had been leading a sangha in the US in a different tradition. Here's a link to their site.

http://www.taegozen.net/Seminary.html

I'm wholly unfamiliar with the Taego Order and the pedagogy behind the seminary they've put together. But I think an opportunity such as this one may be very useful for small Zen/Soen sanghas in rural North America, where informed leadership is not always easy to find even when enthusiasm for practice is strong and need for teachings is great.

another way of putting it: when we see so many posters asking "what to do when I can't find a teacher," one answer may be "go become a teacher yourself."

Thoughts? Context?
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:34 am

Thanks for the link, I'm always interested to see how various groups are setting up forms of Buddhist education worldwide, particularly outside of Asia. Seminaries play a major role here.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but, following the link http://www.wbu-austria.com/ :
"Institute for Buddhist Studies (IBS), a cyber Buddhist College provided on the Internet"

I have some serious misgivings about "online" seminary training, as much of the training of a seminary involves the daily activities and strict discipline. From what I see, the only assessment is essays.

"IBS students who received a Samanera ordination (Jr. Monk) under the Korean Buddhist Taego Order must complete all courses within two years after the ordination."

Standard practice for a sramanera/neri is to study closely under an ordained teacher for at least 5 years. How does this work? Do they remain at home as lay students, do the study, then become novices once they finish? If so, then what - do they have to go to the main monastery (in Korea?) - after all, novices can't live at home, can they?

I am also very curious about why the "library" only seems to have links to Theravadin texts, when this is a Korean group.
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:57 am

Master Huifeng,

Ordination happens in Korea.

Several times a year a new group of graduates travel to South Korea for a temple training program and full Taego ordination with their Korean counterparts. People are now taking the course from the comfort of their homes in countries throughout Europe and North America. Ordained ‘Western’ Taego monks travel regularly to stay and train with their brother and sister Taego monks in Korea. They are warmly welcomed as family and as ‘the official representatives of the Taego order outside of Korea.’
source


But the Taego Order ordains only with the bodhisattva precepts and not the pratimoksa, so it's much like Japanese schools, except that they call them "married monks" to show the difference between "celibate monks" of the Jogye Order who take the full monastic precepts.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:23 am

I think this online seminary they provide covers the basics a Western Buddhist should be familiar with. I don't know their level of student support and the options there are for consultation as these where the only extras as the subjects are very much the basics.

Compare it to the official basic training required for ordination in the Jogye Order (Haeinsa Temple Sangha College’s curriculum for the 2009 (BE 2553) year, source):

1st Year: The Buddhist Person I, the Buddhist Person II, Vinaya, Hinayana Buddhism, Abhidharma, History of Indian Buddhism, Understanding Western Philosophy II, Literature I, Literature II, English, Japanese
2nd Year: Understading the Prajnaparamita Sutra (Diamond Sutra, Heart Sutra, Vimila-kirtinirdesa Sutra, 8000 Poems of the Prajnaparamita Sutra, Understanding Avatamska Sutra, Introduction to the Avatamska school, History of Chinese Buddhism, Understanding Western Philosophy II, Literature III, Literature IV
3rd Year: “Awakening faith in the Mahayana,” Shuramgama Sutra, Lotus Sutra, Nirvana Sutra, History of Korean Buddhism, Buddhism Overview I, Buddhism Overview II, Literature V, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Ceremony
4th Year: Seon Texts (Platform Sutra, Entrance to Sudden Enlightenment, Selected Letters of Master Dahui, Essence of Seon), History of Seon ideology, Buddhism Overview I, Buddhism Overview II, Graduation Thesis

By removing some subjects non-Buddhist subjects it could be a fine training for Westerners interested in Zen as most of the texts used are available in English. It is just a matter of teachers.

An interesting data from BuddhaPia: "As of February 2002, there are thirteen seminaries for bhiksus and five for bhiksunis in which about 350 bhiksus and 631 bhiksunis study, respectively." More here (NOTE: reported badware)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Jikan » Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:49 pm

This is an interesting conversation. Thank you, everyone.

It's also my understanding that the Taego Order is financially & materially supporting those students enrolled in the program. This important for my friend who switched traditions: instead of having to pay for some of his training in his former tradition, he seems to be receiving more material support than he was getting from his previous school.

I'm not certain what kinds of obligations for further training & practice graduates of this seminary are expected to keep, either. It's good to have a basic education, and it's great to take the bodhisattva vows. But then what?
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:43 pm

Jikan,

They really pay for your trip to Korea? Their seminary costs $1200 for 2 years, so it is not free at all. But if they pay for my trip just to become a Taego priest I'm in. I've always preferred their red kasa (袈裟) instead of Jogye's brown. Do you have some contacts?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Jikan » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:22 pm

Astus wrote:Jikan,

They really pay for your trip to Korea? Their seminary costs $1200 for 2 years, so it is not free at all. But if they pay for my trip just to become a Taego priest I'm in. I've always preferred their red kasa (袈裟) instead of Jogye's brown. Do you have some contacts?


That's what my friend told me. I don't know how it compares to reality though! :shrug:

You can find contacts for Rev. J. Park, who (as it was explained to me) recruited my friend, right here:

http://www.taegozen.net/Overseas_Parish.html
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby kirtu » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:24 pm

Astus wrote:Jikan,

They really pay for your trip to Korea? Their seminary costs $1200 for 2 years, so it is not free at all. But if they pay for my trip just to become a Taego priest I'm in. I've always preferred their red kasa (袈裟) instead of Jogye's brown. Do you have some contacts?


And the Austrian seminary is just a short train ride away from you.

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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby kirtu » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:36 pm

Huifeng wrote:I am also very curious about why the "library" only seems to have links to Theravadin texts, when this is a Korean group.


Their English and German libraries are different. The German section does not have the links to the Nikayas and Pali texts. The German section has an old (1922) scanned book of the life of the Buddha that I glanced at and an unpoetic version of the Heart Sutra (how would Goethe or Rilke have translated the Heart Sutra?). It's pretty minimal. But I think this means that they are just getting going.

Also on the Study page in English they go pretty in depth into the Theravadin school:
12. History of two major schools (Theravada and Mahayana)
13. Teachings of two major schools (Theravada and Mahayana)
14. Theravada’s Sutta / texts (all five Nikayas)
15. Theravada’s Vinaya / rules and precepts (all six major Vinayas)
16. Theravada’s Abhidharma (includes Sarvastivadin school) *this will be an option


so the Nikaya literature is not so surprising. In the German library they have a pdf about Master Chung Hwa and some teaching (didn't notice if this is in the English library).

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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:32 pm

Jikan, thanks anyway. I guess they'd require some dedication to their teaching which I'm not particularly familiar with (if there's any specifically Taego style). But if they give me a trip to Korea and then give their name so that I start a Buddhist mission in their name. I wouldn't mind doing that.

Kirtu, it is an online seminary so I don't have to by a train ticket, not to mention travelling for 3 hours (which I don't call a short ride) in this hot summer doesn't sound good to me. And I don't really see what new that seminary could teach me.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jul 16, 2010 1:36 am

Astus wrote:But the Taego Order ordains only with the bodhisattva precepts and not the pratimoksa, so it's much like Japanese schools, except that they call them "married monks" to show the difference between "celibate monks" of the Jogye Order who take the full monastic precepts.


"Married monk" is an oxymoron in my opinion.

If you want to be a lay teacher, that's to be encouraged and praised, but calling yourself a monk while being married is misleading. I used to be fine with the idea, but experiencing Japanese Buddhism to the extent I have now, I've seen the flaws up close.

Speaking from a perspective in Japan, having "married monks" has done far more damage to Buddhism in Japan than Shinto nationalism ever did. Temples have become hereditary businesses that are passed from father to son. Priestcraft is just a business. Funerals and empty rituals is what you do to make money. In rural areas the community make demands that the resident monk get married and have a son to pass the temple to. There are so few people who take it upon themselves to ordain and become disciples (most Japanese priests come from temple families), and the system of hereditary temples has become entrenched in the culture, so if there are no "temple kids" those graves will be overgrown with weeds in no time.

Basically, when you have monks getting married the whole religious institution becomes a big business. To raise a family you need to earn an income, so your priestly duties are done to earn cash rather than for spiritual reasons.

And as time goes on people just see you and your "Buddhism" as a funeral business not worth investing much energy in. They'll call you when Grandma dies, but that's about it.
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby kirtu » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:12 am

Astus wrote: ... and then give their name so that I start a Buddhist mission in their name. I wouldn't mind doing that.


Credentials can help for that ...

Kirtu, it is an online seminary so I don't have to by a train ticket, not to mention travelling for 3 hours (which I don't call a short ride) in this hot summer doesn't sound good to me. And I don't really see what new that seminary could teach me.


I didn't realize that it is solely an online seminary.

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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby kirtu » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:17 am

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:But the Taego Order ordains only with the bodhisattva precepts and not the pratimoksa, so it's much like Japanese schools, except that they call them "married monks" to show the difference between "celibate monks" of the Jogye Order who take the full monastic precepts.


"Married monk" is an oxymoron in my opinion.


Only about 50% of Taego monks are married. Marriage was apparently introduced in order to expand the teachings and get more people to become monks.

... but calling yourself a monk while being married is misleading. I used to be fine with the idea, but experiencing Japanese Buddhism to the extent I have now, I've seen the flaws up close.
...
And as time goes on people just see you and your "Buddhism" as a funeral business not worth investing much energy in. They'll call you when Grandma dies, but that's about it.


Well the Japanese need to shake their institutions up if this is the case. But we can't do it for them.

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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Astus » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:26 am

Huseng,

While the situation in Japan may be bad, lay teachers (priests?) are not necessarily a bad thing. In Eastern Orthodox churches it is OK for priests to be married but not the bishops. If Japanese priests are lazy in the spirit it isn't the fault of the system, and I think there are some who are active in teaching Dharma. This Taego system looks good for creating Western teachers who then can gather followers.

Kirtu,

Well, credentials are OK, even better if you get some extra support like a Dharma centre with shiny statues and paintings.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Jikan » Fri Jul 16, 2010 1:12 pm

Some related & unrelated points:

The Japanese occupation of Korea may have played some role (ahem) in the introduction of married clergy in Korea.

Yes, the danka system is a mess in Japan and it is dying, but let's not paint all temples with the same brush. I've met many accomplished practicioners in Tendai-shu, and yes, they do marry 'em and bury 'em, but that is by no means the limit to their bodhisattva activity.

I agree with Huseng that the English word "monk" is usually best reserved as a translation for the Sanskrit word "bikshu." Better to translate the Japanese role of soryo as "priest."

I think kirtu is correct in thinking that the Taego Seminary is just getting started. They're also growing or rather seeking to grow very quickly. I have no idea what is happening institutionally in this school that would motivate this, but at the same time I think there's a need among some kinds of Western Zen sanghas for...

...how do I explain this politely? Hm. There's been something of a crisis of credibility among students of some teachers in North America at least, because of unclear transmissions of teaching authority and such. Let's say you're in such a situation: this seminary program might be very appealing to you as a way to lend your sangha some institutional support and to help students put their confidence in your thing. Especially when the coursework is online and the training is relatively short in duration.
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Astus » Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:48 pm

Jikan,

I don't know how much this seminary is at the start but I've known about it for years now.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Jikan » Fri Jul 16, 2010 7:09 pm

Astus wrote:Jikan,

I don't know how much this seminary is at the start but I've known about it for years now.


Shows what I know. :coffee: I hadn't heard of it until about a month ago.
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:45 am

Jikan wrote:Some related & unrelated points:

The Japanese occupation of Korea may have played some role (ahem) in the introduction of married clergy in Korea.



No doubt that is where it originates from.



Yes, the danka system is a mess in Japan and it is dying, but let's not paint all temples with the same brush. I've met many accomplished practicioners in Tendai-shu, and yes, they do marry 'em and bury 'em, but that is by no means the limit to their bodhisattva activity.


Not just the danka 檀家 system, but Buddhism in general is failing and in a state of rapid decay in Japan. For all but a few dedicated persons, the majority of the population has no interest in it because the perception is that Buddhism is for funerals. Priests are hereditary grave keepers. There is intellectual interest in Buddhism, and the amount of books published on this reflect this, but when it comes to practising what those texts say, you'll see little of it. Beyond that, there are a few serious practitioners, and I've met some, but on the whole Buddhism is in rapid decay. Moreover, younger generations tend to have a negative image of religion in general calling it kowai or scary / strange. Older generations might take some interest in it, but I don't foresee younger generations giving much thought to it as they grow older. Consumerism is the new ideology which everyone follows here.


...how do I explain this politely? Hm. There's been something of a crisis of credibility among students of some teachers in North America at least, because of unclear transmissions of teaching authority and such. Let's say you're in such a situation: this seminary program might be very appealing to you as a way to lend your sangha some institutional support and to help students put their confidence in your thing. Especially when the coursework is online and the training is relatively short in duration.


I don't think it will solve the problem, but will probably create more problems. Internet qualifications are not taken seriously in the real world, why would religious qualifications gained online be any different? Anyone can do that coursework online and be certified. It doesn't matter how that person behaves in life. In a traditional seminary system they could observe your behaviour and if it doesn't cut it, they could cut you out of the program.
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby Jikan » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:38 pm

I think we're in general agreement, Huseng.
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Re: Taego Lineage Seminary

Postby kirtu » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:44 pm

Huseng wrote:
Jikan wrote:The Japanese occupation of Korea may have played some role (ahem) in the introduction of married clergy in Korea.

No doubt that is where it originates from.


The Taego lineage itself says that the introduction of marriage comes from the reformer monk Manhae and not originally from the Japanese occupation although it began during the Japanese occupation.

... Buddhism in general is failing and in a state of rapid decay in Japan. For all but a few dedicated persons, the majority of the population has no interest in it because the perception is that Buddhism is for funerals. ...Consumerism is the new ideology which everyone follows here.


Then Buddhism in Japan needs a modern Dogen or Saicho. Where is/are s/he/they?


Jikan wrote:...how do I explain this politely? Hm. There's been something of a crisis of credibility among students of some teachers in North America at least, because of unclear transmissions of teaching authority and such. Let's say you're in such a situation: this seminary program might be very appealing to you as a way to lend your sangha some institutional support and to help students put their confidence in your thing. Especially when the coursework is online and the training is relatively short in duration.


I don't think it will solve the problem, but will probably create more problems. Internet qualifications are not taken seriously in the real world, why would religious qualifications gained online be any different? Anyone can do that coursework online and be certified. It doesn't matter how that person behaves in life. In a traditional seminary system they could observe your behaviour and if it doesn't cut it, they could cut you out of the program.


Online programs can have credibility. Solely online religious qualifications are not viewed as legitimate. But if a person establishes themselves solidly afterwards with positive bodhisattvic activity them thay can overcome this difficulty. Ordination in general is a good thing from a social/governmental perspective. In Washington DC they give ministers an extra 2 minutes of time before the city council for ministers. Homeless/jobless/hungry people generally don't care where help is coming from as long as effective help can be marshaled.

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