I'm missing something...

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.
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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.


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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.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
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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.
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

Seishin wrote:Japanese monks take the 10 major and 48 minor Bodhisattva Precepts, not the Vinaya. This was initiated for various reasons by Seicho who was the creator of the Tendai Tradition. From what I understand (little admittedly) celibacy was part of the vows, which was changed at a later date during the Meiji restoration (I think) so that monks were allowed to marry, drink alcohol and eat meat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haibutsu_kishaku
In Japan the monks are still referred to as monks and hold the same status and respect as those with vinaya vows. Japanese schools in the west tend to prefer to use the word "priest" to try to save confusion with the celibate monks.
This subject is hotly debated on this board and elsewhere.

Note: Someone with a better understanding of Japanese history might be able to correct the above. :smile:

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Saichō's monastic reforms never rejected the Vinaya. The idea was that first you trained as a bodhisattva renunciate, and then you would receive the Vinaya precepts some years later. The latter might have been a formality and largely unnecessary in his eyes since the Brahma Net Sūtra includes the essence of the Vinaya (celibacy, no killing, no stealing, etc...). The system for Vinaya ordinations in his time seems to have been somewhat corrupt as well, hence his inclination to do away with it.

I actually wrote an article about his reforms which you can read here:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... os-reforms

The truth is that Saichō never abandoned celibacy or the essential precepts of the Vinaya.

I used to have a lot of doubts about his ideas, though I read what he actually wrote and studied the Vinaya. I've come to appreciate his reforms. The Buddha gave consent for people to reform his Vinaya system. That means updating the rulebook as needed.
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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.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

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


No... they are not trying to invigorate Buddhism at home, same like Chinese or Tibetans do not travel to Japan to invigorate their Bhuddhism.. for most Japanese people Thai, Tibetan or any other Buddhism is rather kind of alien. If there is any interest is same like in any other foreign phenomenon... there is not much perception of other traditions ion Japan.

Shingon has some interest in Tibetan Buddhism since it is the only tradition to which they can refer and do some comparative study. Otherwise it is same like all other new religions in Japan.
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

:pig:
Raksha wrote: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.


Well Japan is so bad it spoiled even Korea :D

No wonder that Taego folk is still hiding. In the past when lived in the same temples where Jogye members, Jogye monks hired mobs and gangsters to beat up Taego... very brutal way of establishing dharma and vinaya :D
... but maybe Buddha taught somewhere about it, who knows? break their bones, beat them up, kick their ass, they are really BAD people and deserved it, and should be happy we did not order to kill them.. or maybe we should?!

Anyway returning to real - there were many victims among Taego, who in spite of being majority group by numbers, did not take advantage or revenge on Jogye... just in horror ran away... If I were Taego I would probably do the same. Pretend not to be Taego.. i do not want to have broken bones, be beaten up or maybe even... ok lets stop...

Anyway Jogye had interesting problem... they ordained mobsters and gangsters who supported them, and those vinaya loving criminals became a real headache for Jogye... they were ''real'' monks with all rights. but their ways and characters did not change.. of koz they used their privileged position, for what? try to guess :D anyway definitely not for promoting vinaya... they even did not promote lay way of being nice, sober and kind to others. It was long lasting stink in Jogye, some older teachers admitted it already.. maybe there is still some influence of those ''vinaya'' monks in Jogye, who knows? they love women, gambling, alcohol and money... they must learn it somewhere... and there is nothing like this in vinaya, right?

Anyway I do not criticize Jogye... and not even any other school or denomination.. I am only not naive that there is somewhere ''pure'' Buddhism, better then in other places, better then in this terrible Japan etc. I try to understand rather historical and political background of some unfortunes, which happened everywhere and in every tradition...
Last edited by Matylda on Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:21 am, edited 3 times in total.
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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

Raksha wrote:'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]


Exactly :rolling:
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

JKhedrup wrote: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.


The local FPMT centre here is frequented by many working professionals, and the empowerments organised by the Sakyapas and Nyingmapas I've been to, not to mention ChNN's teachings here, have all been attended by people from many different backgrounds. Theravada seems to be enjoying popularity as well, but I don't know too much about that, and I hope it is not mainly due to Thai amulets.

I won't say too much about Christianity but the online population largely has a negative view of the megachurches, which is also pretty representative of the views of the non-Christian population as well as those from more established churches. After leaving school and the army, I seldom now interact with Christians since most of my closer friends are non-Christians, a few are possibly nominal Christians but I rarely talk about religion with them.

These churches' modus operandi has remained the same since the 90s and probably before that; young members set up "cell groups" and invite their friends, members in relationships pressure their partners to convert and they also target those of a lower socio-economic stratum by offering help in various forms. Most people who convert were never Buddhist except on their birth certificates anyway; the Chinese Buddhist temples here until recently did not provide many resources for laypeople to learn about Buddhism and I'd say that they don't do a good job of training monastics either.

I remember seeing an old monk, hobbling on a walking stick, push a man from the back angrily on the train because it was crowded and the man accidentally bumped into him. Also, there was the Ming Yi scandal, where somehow a monk was living in an apartment with an assistant who kept porn as well as giving the assistant money which came from donations. There was a former nun who disrobed then joined a megachurch and appeared on Youtube videos with the pastor disparaging Buddhism with some facile arguments. I hope that these were just the exceptions and perhaps the quality of education of monastics has gone up with contact with the wider Buddhist world.
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

Huseng wrote: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.


Ignoring the loads of young volunteers, I was a bit surprised to discover that the lay Chan retreats at FSG, itself the most popular programme there, were dominated by younger people. Given the demands of a Chan retreat I think it's fair to say such participants aren't just casually interested.

So I am not sure that no-youth is the case across the board.
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

Hickersonia wrote:I'm missing something, but I'm not sure what it is exactly.


Hi,

Rev. Heng Sure came up in discussion in another thread of mine and has sparked a bit of research on him and the tradition with which he seems to be associated. Just to start this off, however, I'm asking for informational purposes and not because I necessarily need the answers to conform to what I'm already aware of, although I of course can only speak of that which I am already aware and understand, so please don't take my inquiry the wrong way.


Ven. Heng Sure is a former Abbot of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Ukiah, North California, and now spends his time between the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery (just across from the Berkeley High School) and a center on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Like any standard Chinese monastic tradition, it's a celibate tradition.

My question goes back to "basics" as I understand them, the 8 Precepts in particular. I've found some musical compositions authored by Heng Sure and, in the course of my searches, found a Zen Center (not necessarily affiliated with Heng Sure) that has a segment of it's Ethical Guidelines page devoted to relationships of a sexual nature between Teacher and student, placing rules on such relations (as opposed to an outright ban of it, as my understanding of the 8 Precepts would expect with those referred to as "Sangha").


I had to read this a couple of time before I got the gist, because I first was confused and thought that Ven. Heng Sure had some guidelines on sexual relationships between teachers and students, which I would have found incredibly surprising. As above, his monastic tradition is a celibate one, but at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, they do have some non-resident teachers who are lay people. But, this tradition simply won't go for sexual relationships between teacher and student, even for lay people, as far as I know.

I'm not familiar with Zen -- I'm coming at this question from a mostly Theravada knowledge-base (something I'm on a mission to expand this year). Do Zen monks / Priests (I've seen them referred to in this way) follow the same Precepts and Vinaya rules as those of the Theravada or is there a complete and distinct on it's own version of this in Zen?


I'll leave commenting on the Japanese lineage Zen traditions for now, but just to clarify that Ven. Heng Sure is from a Chinese tradition, though very much established in the USA, Australia and some other locations. These Chinese traditions follow the Dharmagupta Vinaya, which is a basic parallel with the Theravada Vinaya. The Japanese traditions do not.

Further, does any such distinction apply across the board amongst all East Asian Mahayana?


As above, fairly big differences in this regard between Chinese and Japanese, for example.

Thank you very much for your information as I broaden by admittedly limited knowledge.


No problemmo.

~~ Huifeng

Raksha wrote:Chinese Chan monks are celibate (except for mainland Chinese 'monks', who aren't actually monks at all).


During the Cultural Revolution, and at some locations for a while after this, your statement is correct. But nowadays, the vast majority of monastics are in fact monastics. Gross generalizations like this are not a good habit, because you are in effect accusing a lot of monastics of breaking a parajika offense. Not nice.

~~ Huifeng

Sara H wrote:Many Chan orders are celibate, ...


In fact, the vast majority of so-called "Chan orders" are celibate. The only exceptions that I can think of being two strains in the West, which, relatively speaking, are very new and minor compared to China / Taiwan / etc. area.

I say "so-called", because whether or not Chan monasteries are really "orders" or not in the way often portrayed in the West, based often on Japanese ideas, is in doubt. An individual, usually just the abbot of a large public monastery, is a lineage holder in a given line of Chan. But that doesn't mean that the rest of the residents, ie. the "order", is also Chan at all. Chan is often a nice header for the majority of Chinese Buddhism, really. But, this is really another topic...

~~ Huifeng
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

Anders wrote:
Huseng wrote: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.


Ignoring the loads of young volunteers, I was a bit surprised to discover that the lay Chan retreats at FSG, itself the most popular programme there, were dominated by younger people. Given the demands of a Chan retreat I think it's fair to say such participants aren't just casually interested.

So I am not sure that no-youth is the case across the board.


Well, we had to turn down a few hundred applicants to an event this summer at FGS, to keep it to around 1000 in total; not to mention the YAD conference just before that; the undergrad program in Buddhist Studies here at FGU is full each year, and we just extended another MA stream plus PhD, all full, too. And this year, our Buddhist Club on campus has more new students than previous years.

Depends where one is at, as Anders says.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

JKhedrup wrote: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?



Dhammika Bhante reported on his blog the statistical decline of Buddhists in Singapore:


Recently the statistics for Singapore’s 2010 census were released. For local Buddhists they make sad but perhaps not surprising reading. In the 10 years between 2000 and 2010 the number of Buddhists dropped from 42.5% to 33.3%. A further breakdown of the figures also showed that the older a person was and the lower their education standard the more likely they are to be Buddhist. During the same period Christianity in the republic grew from 14.6% to 18.3% and the younger a person is and the better educated, the more likely they are to be Christian. The same was true for those who described themselves as having no religion. They grew from 14.8% to 17%.


http://sdhammika.blogspot.tw/2011/06/dh ... cline.html

In Korea as well I hear the trend is the same. Churches offer a solid networking community for professionals. It also has an exotic occidental appeal.

In general Buddhism is in decline in the face of secularism, Christian missionary activity and just plain apathy towards spirituality. Youth generally pursue the next generation of iPhones.


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.


I met a few Japanese bhikkhu who ordained under a Sri Lankan master. They're genuine bhikkhus and live as such. I made them lunch a few times. Really nice fellows. However, a few bhikkhus doesn't make much of an impact. Shingon traditions are generally interested in Tibetan Buddhism, though that's perhaps largely limited to scholars and a few practitioners. Foreign Buddhist traditions in Japan are largely insignificant.




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


At present the Japanese population has generally very little interest in Buddhism. You call a priest when someone dies. Other than that maybe you visit a nice old temple in Kyoto, and that's about it.

Younger generations have a bad image of "religion", especially after the Sarin gas attacks by Om Shinrikyo in the 90s. My professor wrote a paper about this new perception of religion among youth.
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

Huifeng wrote:Well, we had to turn down a few hundred applicants to an event this summer at FGS, to keep it to around 1000 in total; not to mention the YAD conference just before that; the undergrad program in Buddhist Studies here at FGU is full each year, and we just extended another MA stream plus PhD, all full, too. And this year, our Buddhist Club on campus has more new students than previous years.

Depends where one is at, as Anders says.

~~ Huifeng


How many of those youth will remain committed to Buddhism once they start working full-time in the grind of the Taiwanese workplace? That's what I've wondered. Once you start working you might be doing 10 hours a day, up to six days a week. Having a family on top of that leaves little time for practice or involvement in any kind of organization. The younger generation both men and women are in the workforce, too.
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Re: I'm missing something...

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

Anders wrote:Ignoring the loads of young volunteers, I was a bit surprised to discover that the lay Chan retreats at FSG, itself the most popular programme there, were dominated by younger people. Given the demands of a Chan retreat I think it's fair to say such participants aren't just casually interested.

So I am not sure that no-youth is the case across the board.


I know there are youth involved (there are plenty of youth volunteers and practitioners at DDM too), but I wonder if they will remain so once they start working full-time. University is a time for exploration and students have the free time to do so, but the daily grind of 10 hour work days plus family life take up a working adult's time. In Taiwan you just don't work 9am-5pm. Like Japan you stay awhile longer into the evening otherwise it looks bad. In the economic downturn people work even longer for fear of being sacked.

This is perhaps why Buddhism in Taiwan is largely made up of middle aged and older women. Now, however, young women enter the workforce and work just as long hours as the men do.
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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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Re: I'm missing something...

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

Huseng wrote:
Anders wrote:Ignoring the loads of young volunteers, I was a bit surprised to discover that the lay Chan retreats at FSG, itself the most popular programme there, were dominated by younger people. Given the demands of a Chan retreat I think it's fair to say such participants aren't just casually interested.

So I am not sure that no-youth is the case across the board.


I know there are youth involved (there are plenty of youth volunteers and practitioners at DDM too), but I wonder if they will remain so once they start working full-time. University is a time for exploration and students have the free time to do so, but the daily grind of 10 hour work days plus family life take up a working adult's time. In Taiwan you just don't work 9am-5pm. Like Japan you stay awhile longer into the evening otherwise it looks bad. In the economic downturn people work even longer for fear of being sacked.



Well, this is why I ignored the volunteers and took the Chan retreat as my example. I think people who are committed to those are in sufficiently deep that it's not just "what I do because I have spare time" activity.
"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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Re: I'm missing something...

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

In Reply to Matylda


You know, I've been sitting with this, what I should say in reply to you,
And you know,
it seems like you're sortof mixing various problems that are separate, or not-dependent issues, and blaming them on celibacy.
The decision to abandon celibacy in Japan was not a Buddhist decision.
I think you're taking the specific historic events of Japan, and taking it to a dualistic extreme by recoiling from what you may feel is an implication that says that somehow Celibate practice is better than non-celibate practice.

The monastic problems in Tibet, and other countries are diverse and varied and are often specific to cultural idioms specific to that region or time period, such as to do with the mixing of monasteries and governments, as well as in certain cases monasteries becoming the de facto primary school for people wanting an education for one or more of their usually male children, and issues with government subsidized funding, and the level of control that governments have as a result, as well as coming to agreements with bureaucrats who didn't like having large populations of people in monasteries who didn't pay taxes, and tensions with other religions and historic cultural traditions, etc.

The issue with sexism in Buddhism is also a non-dependant issues, and is mostly based on historic cultural sexism in certain societies, as well as interaction with governments that weren't necessarily Buddhist, and/or long cultural traditions of women being viewed as needing to be protected by men and thus viewed as weak or vulnerable, etc. As well as the impracticality of having co-ed monasteries before the existence of birth control, as well as a general patriarchal and sexist attitude prevalent in those societies at large, which, among other things tended to give more funding to male monasteries than female ones.
It has nothing to do with whether women can and do train equally well in Buddhism.

Keep in mind, birth control, has had a huge effect of changing people's attitudes toward women, world-wide.

Regarding Koho Zenji, I'm not really sure what you mean by "hard-liner", but in a highly racist, patriarchal, xenophobic, sexist society, allowing someone who is a foreigner, a non-Japanese person, a woman, and from a country that had just recently been a national enemy and allied with the country responsible for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to train as a monk in an all-male Japanese monastery, seems hardly "hard-line" to me.

Koho Zenji was a big advocate of women training in Buddhism, and to this day, the steps he took made it easier for women to train in Japan.

It's also important to note that "celibacy" does not just mean not getting married or not having heterosexual sex, it also means no masturbation, or self induced orgasms.

I have no doubt that there have been many monks historically and otherwise who called themselves "celibate" who were in fact less than such.

Or, who have broken their precepts and monastic vows in other was.

Monks are human after all.

None of this has anything to do with the situation in Japan, or whether it was a Buddhist decision to have monks become lay householder priests.

Again, this was not some Buddhist "advancement" but was a decision by the Emperor of Japan.

Having four classes of Buddhists; Male and Female celibate monks, and Male and Female non-celibate laity is a practice that goes back to Shakyamuni Buddha's time, and He instituted it himself, and after reaching Buddhahood.

You don't have to necessarily agree with celibate practice for you but that doesn't mean it's not a helpful practice for some people.

In Gassho, friend,

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

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