Dogen and the 12 Austerities

Dogen and the 12 Austerities

Postby Zen Dude » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:44 pm

In Gyoji, Dogen praises the eighth patriarch of Zen, Mahakasyapa for his practice of the 12 dhatus.

Dogen lists the austerities, however, the description of each one is very brief. For instance, one is
5) To eat one meal a day--this is called, for instance, "Sunkasunnai"
From this reading, one would assume that the austerity is nothing more, than what a monk who has taken vows would do normally. Later on -
Once the Buddha said, "You are already an old man, you should eat a monk's meal." The Venerable Mahakasyapa said, "If I had not met with the Tathagata's appearance in this world, I would have been a pratyekabuddha, living in mountains and forests all my life. Fortunately, I met with the Tathgata's appearance in the world, and I have experienced the Dharma's goodness. Nevertheless, I will not eat a monk's meal in the end."
So, there must be a difference between the meal in the fifth dhatu, and a monk's meal.

The sutra Dogen is quoting, is Bussetsu-juni-zuda-kyo (Sutra of the Twelve Dhatus). Does anyone know of an english translation? Or barring that, the Chinese original? It does not seem possible to understand the paragraph without knowledge of the sutra.

Thanks
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Re: Dogen and the 12 Austerities

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:04 pm

The word you're referring to is dhūta I believe, not dhatu. :smile:

The text in Chinese is 佛說十二頭陀經 (T. no. 783).

Just taking a quick look I don't see where Dogen is getting his citation from.
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Re: Dogen and the 12 Austerities

Postby plwk » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:26 pm

Once the Buddha said, "You are already an old man, you should eat a monk's meal." The Venerable Mahakasyapa said, "If I had not met with the Tathagata's appearance in this world, I would have been a pratyekabuddha, living in mountains and forests all my life. Fortunately, I met with the Tathgata's appearance in the world, and I have experienced the Dharma's goodness. Nevertheless, I will not eat a monk's meal in the end."
So, there must be a difference between the meal in the fifth dhatu, and a monk's meal.
Until someone can come forth with a full English translation, I found this part translation...
http://www.yogichen.org/cw/cw43/bk142.html
There is a sutra titled the "Twelve Dhuta Sutra." It involves release from ties to clothing, food, and dwelling. Here I translate five things about diet below:

1. When a Bhikshu comes to a town for begging, he should control his six sense organs: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. He must not let them attach themselves to the six dusts: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and idea. He must not distinguish women from men nor gain from no-gain. His mind should be kept in equilibrium. Whether the food is good or bad, he should not be glad or weary. He should not ask for more or less. When he does not receive, he should think, "Even our Lord Gautama Buddha who left His palace and became a Bhikshu and came to the town for begging, sometimes got nothing, much the less, I'm so lacking in merits."
This is the Dharma of begging.

2. A Bhikshu should not be attached to the taste. Nor should he disregard any sentient being. He must have equal mind to pity every sentient being and should not choose only those rich persons. This is the importance of the method of begging door to door without discrimination.

3. A Bhikshu should have such a good thought: "Now, only for one meal shall I beg which still wastes my meditative time. Were I to beg again for snacks, for lunch, and for dinner, I would lose a lot of time! If I don't reduce my eating, I might lose half of my day to begging for food. I would not have enough time to meditate. I beg only to practice the Buddha Dharma--not for my body or life as pigs, dogs, and horses. I must stop all other eating and take only breakfast." It is the rule to beg for only one meal.

4. When one gets a meal, he should give one-third to a poor person and wish that he may never be greedy again. Then he should take the food to a silent place and put a little bit of it on a clean stone and leave it for birds or animals. He also should have good thoughts about that poor person eating one-third of the food and leave the rest for the bird or animal who will be satisfied.
Before eating, he should wash his hands. He should think that in his body there are eight myriad insects, "When I attain some realization of the Dharma, I shall again give alms of Dharma to them and they shall also partake of my attainment."
Suppose after this begging he meets no poor person, he should still keep one-third aside. In this way, he will have good health, make his body light, and food will digest easily. His meditation will be very good. It is the rule to restrain eating.

5. After one meal, a Bhikshu should not go searching for drinks, if he does, he will pursue a variety of drinks. He will not diligently practice the Buddha Dharma. It is like the horse who does not hold the bridle and seeks grass on two sides. He will not run the way of the goal. This is the reason for the rule to keep away any kind of drink after noon.
What I am speculating two things based on the above translation:
a. especially with regard to the bolded #4 is that a common non ascetic monk would not portion out his alms in the same way as an ascetic monk?
b. And also, on keeping away one third of the food aside, storing for an ascetic monk vs a common monk? I am cross referencing with a reading from the Theravada Vinaya...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ml#storing
After formally receiving food, a bhikkhu is not allowed to store it away for another day.
This is another rule that supports the mendicant ideal and the interdependence of monk and lay person, and stops the bhikkhu from becoming attached to his favorite tastes.
The case originally arose when a monk coming back from alms round would eat some food and then dry any remaining rice in the sun to store for the next days' meals. In this way he did not have to go on an alms round every day. It can be summarized:
"Eating food that a bhikkhu — oneself or another — formally received on a previous day is [an offence of Confession.]" (Paac. 38; BMC p.367)
After the daily meal — often the monks of the community will gather to share this — all that day's excess food may be distributed among whoever is present so that nothing is wasted or left over. Lay people themselves are also allowed to deposit food in the properly approved storeroom so that it can be offered to the monks on another day. If the lay people store it there, the monks will not be counted as having formally received it. (So the formal act of offering also serves the purpose of determining whether food can be stored or not.)
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Re: Dogen and the 12 Austerities

Postby Zen Dude » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:17 am

Thanks for the partial translation, and yes, I was looking for dhuta, not dhatu :oops:

It looks like the austerity is, to eat only 1/3 of the alms bowl, then go on a full food and fluid fast until the next morning.

I know in Thailand, the monks basically share by default. The begging bowls are very large, and are often filled to overflowing. They then share the food with other monks, temple boys, and animals. However, they certainly don't fast after noon. A lot of cigarettes and coffee.

I'm curious as to the historical context the sutra was written in. Although it's possible that the size of the begging bowl was just enough to feed a single monk at the time of it's writing, I think it's just as likely, that that element of the sutra could have been a skillful reaction to the issue of too many alms in the begging bowl.
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Re: Dogen and the 12 Austerities

Postby Indrajala » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:28 am

Some of the literature suggests monks had several bowls. One large one and two or three other progressively smaller ones which all fit neatly into the large one. I assume these were for different purposes (maybe one for soup, etc...).

There are also rules regarding how much a monk can dish out as charity to non-Buddhists and animals (as if suggesting they're not supposed to be overly generous with their food, such as limiting it to a handful and only that).
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