7th Precept

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7th Precept

Postby Vidyaraja » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:47 am

I apologize if this question has been asked before, but I was wondering if anyone can tell me more about the 7th precept for bhikkhus, specifically the prohibition on music. This has always been the only one difficult for me to accept. I'd have no issue accepting it if it simply prohibited secular music, but does this precept include music used for meditative or spiritual purposes such as mantras, Gregorian chants, ragas, and so forth? I can fully understand how music used as a form of entertainment or going to a Metallica concert could cause attachment and come between the monk and his goal, but what about when music is used solely for a higher purpose? Isn't Japanese shomyo chant or Gyuto Tantric Choir or Tibetan deep throat chanters like Lama Tashi technically music?

I've always been a musically inclined person and over the years music has transformed for me as less of a form of entertainment than as a means of attaining higher awareness or as an aid for meditation. The Hindus see the importance of this with their so-called Nada Yoga, which beyond listening to one's "inner sound" also includes the use of music and chant for spiritual purposes. The same could also be said of the Sufis and Catholic/Orthodox liturgical music and chant. Really I can't think of a major sacred tradition that is entirely music-less.

Personally I really enjoy the aesthetics of the Chinese guqin, which has been used by Taoists and also apparently by Chinese Buddhists for spiritual cultivation, and I am attracted to learning it for the same purpose. On Guan Pinghu's wikipedia entry it states,

He also studied with the leading players of three different schools; Yang Zongji (1865–1933), the leading player in Beijing, the Daoist Qin Heming, and the Buddhist monk Wucheng.


A search for "Buddhist monk guqin" on Google turned up with this webpage stating that Buddhist monks play guqin and showing what appears to be a Western monk playing one:

http://paramita.typepad.com/dharma_fore ... index.html

Are these individuals breaking their precept? Are these rules just not enforced?
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Re: 7th Precept

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:59 pm

Different monks take different vows depending on the tradition they ordain in. The first five precepts are generally the same throughout most traditions but after that they begin to differ. There isn't just "one set of precepts" that all Buddhist monks around the world follow. Many monks never take the "No eating after noon" precept so many don't follow that. Same with the music precept. Monks who play music generally aren't breaking any rules because they never vowed to follow that set of rules to begin with.

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Re: 7th Precept

Postby Hickersonia » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:46 pm

seeker242 wrote:Different monks take different vows depending on the tradition they ordain in. The first five precepts are generally the same throughout most traditions but after that they begin to differ. There isn't just "one set of precepts" that all Buddhist monks around the world follow. Many monks never take the "No eating after noon" precept so many don't follow that. Same with the music precept. Monks who play music generally aren't breaking any rules because they never vowed to follow that set of rules to begin with.

:namaste:

I hate to ask (I hope the OP won't mind) but I've been kinda curious about some of this myself -- I've been reading a lot about the Theravada Vinaya (Buddhist Monastic Code books written by Thanissaro Bhikkhu) rules but I haven't found anything similiar that would explain the rules observed by monks of, say, the Vietnamese tradition(s).

What would be the best resources for learning more about that from the Mahayana perspective?
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Re: 7th Precept

Postby randomseb » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:58 pm

The purpose of the precepts and commandments is to help you help yourself to avoiding things that "hook" your brain and cause you to have a reaction, causing mind to emerge towards that hook and so losing your 'emptiness', so to speak.

Different paths have different levels of precepts and teachings because different people have different capacities :shrug:

For music, for example, from a purely neurological standpoint, you'll be listening to some tune, and your brain will automatically dig through your memory and such, hooking into anything that is associated with that music, giving rise to emotional responses and recollections and so on.. Much of that happens in the "subconscious", but things are happening anyway that will directly affect your mind. This is all very good and entertaining, but if your purpose is to "attain the Dharma", having things dragging your mind every which way is very counter-productive.
Disclaimer: If I have posted about something, then I obviously have no idea what I am talking about!
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Re: 7th Precept

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:26 pm

During Nyungne one takes the Eight Vows which include not listening to music. However, the Sadhana is sung and instruments are played during it.

I believe randomseb is right. Therefore, religious music is not only acceptable but is likely beneficial.
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