JKhedrup wrote:Unfortunately, not many Westerners seem to be drawn to the monastic training at CTTB.
JKhedrup wrote:I agree. I remember one Chinese monastic (not at CTTB) describing the mentality like this:
"We smash the old "self" to a thousand pieces and then build a monk who serves the dharma out of it. Obedience is the path to cultivation so a monastic is simple minded
and follows orders."
In a way I can see the point, though as you say such an extreme mentality will likely never be popular with foreigners.
I am interested about the monastic training at Fa Gu Shan (Dharma Drum Mountain). I have met one American monk who leads retreats in New York state. Are there any other Westerners? And does the organization give a little bit of room for cultural differences?
I am always looking for places to recommend to Westerners looking for a classical Mahayana monastic training program.
JKhedrup wrote:Ah it is a far cry from the old days of "cloud and water" when monks could wander from monastery to monastery, checking into a Vinaya academy to learn conduct and then spending a year on doctrines at a Tian Tai place, followed up by a Chan retreat. Indeed it seems that in the past a Chinese monk had less affiliation/identification with his monastery than those in the Tibetan tradition.
These days it seems to be the opposite, with the Chinese Buddhist organizations demanding a level of institutional loyalty unprecedented in Chinese Buddhism, and for life. In many monasteries I have heard when you qiu jia (leave home/tonsure) you must promise to stay in that same institution and obey orders until death. There is no such promise made during ordination in the Tibetan or Theravada ordinations.
I would love to never worry about money/visas. But it is not worth offering my autonomy for. I can offer my loyalty to teachers, but not to institutions. A group of senior monastics who I don't have a student/teacher relationship with deciding my future is a terrifying thought.
Kaji wrote:This is interesting. According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT), an environment that supports autonomy is crucial to keeping a person motivated when it comes to tasks that are not inherently interesting or enjoyable.
I guess the Chinese monasteries are concerned about their monks and nuns maintaining 威儀 weiyi, or dignified form. However, if the rules and regulations means lower numbers of monks and nuns, should they be changed? I cannot answer that as a lay practitioner without the knowledge and wisdom, but if the decision makers of the monastic orders can look at that it'd be great.
Kaji wrote:Ven Chin Kung once said, in the old days the numbers of accomplished Buddhist practitioners were in the order of: monks, nuns, male laities, female laities; and nowadays the order has completed reversed.
A lay Chinese Buddhist who regularly goes to temples in Hong Kong recently told me that monks there actually face huge obstacles to their Buddhist practice, precisely because there are fewer of them; they are often given high positions and powers in the sangha, which may get into the way of their daily practice.
Huseng, it is interesting how you brought up the issue of groupthink in Asian sangha. I wonder what it takes to solve the problem - perhaps monks/nuns who happen to have management skills and experience?
Huseng wrote:JKhedrup wrote:Unfortunately, not many Westerners seem to be drawn to the monastic training at CTTB.
I think the lack of interest in orthodox monasticism on the part of most westerners is that such Buddhists normally are liberal and easygoing, so unwavering obedience to authority and a vast array of written and unwritten rules will just be a grinding experience. They might like the idea of robes, but they want the freedom to spend most of their time as they please, not being kept busy for the sake of being kept busy.
Chinese monastic training is like bootcamp. Here in Taiwan there is a high dropout rate in the seminaries, especially among the males it seems, which makes for even fewer monks than nuns. This might seem justified in the eyes of the authorities because the dropouts just weren't suited to life as a monk. Easing things up and providing autonomy to free thinking adults (novices are not children anymore) might go a long ways in retaining people.
GarcherLancelot wrote:Why are there more male dropouts?.. .
Queequeg wrote:1. Does a monastic career carry appeal? Are there role models that young people can look to and have a desire to emulate?
Its not the overwhelming amount of work that turns people off. But if you are going to undertake such strenuous work, do you get to be the kind of person you want to be? Does the monastic path offer a sufficient reward for its compromises?
Breaking this down to a more primordial, existential level - What makes a kid look at a fireman, or a doctor, a lawyer, or heck, a punk rocker with a spiked orange mohawk, and want to grow up and be one? I suggest its something that the child has an instinctual affinity for as something they want to emulate, that they want to BE. What sounds like personality destroying training of the Chinese monasteries, or the family business nature of Japanese Buddhism, I would suggest there is not much to find appealing there.
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