Precepts in China and Japan

Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Astus » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:15 pm

Sara,

What I meant is that in Japan the full Vinaya ordination does not exist among indigenous Buddhist schools. It is another thing that married clergy is a common practice, but Zen traditions also have training monasteries where celibacy is upheld. However, celibacy (brahmacarya) in itself doesn't make one a monk in Buddhism, ordination (upasampada) does. And that's what I meant.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:19 pm

Huifeng wrote:It's rather confusing to say that Caodong Chan is just a Chinese version of Soto Zen. For a start, if anything, it would be the other way around, as Caodong comes before Soto.
~~ Huifeng


Well that's actually what I meant, I apologize if that were not understood.

I sometimes have a bit of difficulty in my phrasing of how I present my points across, so I apologize if the way I worded it was confusing.

I guess I had sortof taken that as sortof an obvious fact, (I tend to do that sometimes) but you are right, it isn't actually obvious, as some people don't know that, and so it needs to be pointed out. Thank you for mentioning that.

*embarrassed grins*

In Gassho,

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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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:48 pm

Astus wrote:Sara,
However, celibacy (brahmacarya) in itself doesn't make one a monk in Buddhism, ordination (upasampada) does. And that's what I meant.

Yes, I am well aware of that, however your assumption that all Buddhist monastics do the entire vinaya is innacurate.
Many of the rules for instance, were made in response to particular needs of ancient times, such as bathing rules, etc. That no longer apply in the modern age of hot showers.

However, some of those rules, are actually still applicable to monks practicing in third world countries. (for instance where hot showers are not as prevalent)

Regarding your former question, I was able to find the answer without calling Rev. Master Haryo, (though I will ask him about it further the next time I speak to him)

"OBC monastics receive the 16 bodhisattva precepts and 48 great precepts plus celibacy"

Their "monastic credentials" if that's what you were referring to are not in question, and they are indeed, fully recognized as monastics by both other western Buddhist monks who participate in the Western Buddhist Monastic Conference, (as well as being hosts to it regularly),as well as by monastic organizations in both Malaysia and China as well as in other parts of the world. The Asian monks seem to be in agreement that some of the rules that they do not practice are sensible modifications, as they would not be applicable to the modern, co-ed western world where, technological innovations have made certain needs obsolete. We have toothbrushes now, and showers, and certain rules regarding avoiding contact with women, are not appropriate when you have female monks, or male and female celibate monks living and working side by side in the same monastery. (are they supposed to not be in contact with themselves? It just doesn't work.)

Does that answer your question?

There's an interesting, brief article on the subject of the The Practice of Vinaya in the 21st Century that you may find interesting here:
http://www.thubtenchodron.org/BuddhistN ... conf10.pdf
It's written by Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron

I wish you well,

In Gassho,

Sara H.
Last edited by Sara H on Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:01 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"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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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Jnana » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:55 pm

Sara H wrote:"OBC monastics receive the 16 bodhisattva precepts and 48 great precepts plus celibacy, rather
than the traditional Vinaya ordination."

Their "monastic credentials" if that's what your comments were implying are not in question, and they are indeed, fully recognized as monastics by both other western Buddhist monks who participate in the Western Buddhist Monastic Conference, (as well as being hosts to it regularly),as well as by monastic organizations in both Malaysia and China as well as in other parts of the world.

I think the point is that they're not bhikṣus & bhikṣuṇīs -- they haven't received ordination in the Dharmaguptaka vinaya.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:02 pm

I rejoice in the celibate and intensive practice at OBC. Since celibacy is the pre-requisite for the monastic Sangha gatherings, of course OBC should participate. But hosting or participating in the conferences does not confirm that their ordination is a Vinaya ordination or is the same as a Vinaya ordination. It merely indicates that their practice is respected as monastic style practice since it involves celibacy.

There's an interesting article on the subject of the The Practice of Vinaya in the 21st Century that you may find interesting here:
http://www.thubtenchodron.org/BuddhistN ... conf10.pdf
It's written by Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron


Ven. Thubten Chodron is great, and she is determined that the Vinaya practice is extremely important. That is why she sends her senior nuns to take the full bhikshuni ordination in Taiwan.

I am making this point only because while I rejoice in the practice of OBC it is very important for people to be informed about what the Vinaya is and what it is not, and why it is important that some places preserve it.

I know several examples, (one person is my friend on facebook) of OBC monastics who wanted a deeper practice of monasticism in the context of Vinaya practice so sought out ordination in the Chinese Dharmagupta and Theravadan traditions.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:08 pm

Jnana wrote:
Sara H wrote:"OBC monastics receive the 16 bodhisattva precepts and 48 great precepts plus celibacy, rather
than the traditional Vinaya ordination."

Their "monastic credentials" if that's what your comments were implying are not in question, and they are indeed, fully recognized as monastics by both other western Buddhist monks who participate in the Western Buddhist Monastic Conference, (as well as being hosts to it regularly),as well as by monastic organizations in both Malaysia and China as well as in other parts of the world.

I think the point is that they're not bhikṣus & bhikṣuṇīs -- they haven't received ordination in the Dharmaguptaka vinaya.

Well the word bhikus and bhikunis just means male and female monk in sanscrit.

So yes they are. And they are recognized as such by international monastic organizations.

They are not considered vinaya monks, and they don't consider themselves such, for obvious reasons.

But they are considered Buddhist monastics.

As I said, the Asians are in agreement that the changes they have made are practical ones, due to modern innovations in western life, and do not compromise their monastic practice. They regularly host Asian monastics and the Asians look to them as example of a successful way of how to adapt monastic practice to modern western life.

As I said, many of the rules in the vinaya are simply there as a practical solution to problems that came about as a result of living in a poor agrarian society in ancient times, and in response to very specific cultural problems. Many of these things simply don't apply to the western world, as we have solutions to things, like modern hygene, and laundry machines, and we live in a society where women are considered equal and must be treated as such.

Women's equality, in particular is one of the hallmarks of western Buddhism.

Being a monk, is not dependent upon whether one washes oneself in a certain kindof way.
Things like that were in the vinaya to enforce cleanliness, and regular bathing in monks. That yes, it is improper for monks to not bathe, as they will smell very bad, and that not bathing is disrespectful. That might be a practical rule in a third world country, but in the west, we consider that obvious, so it's not necessary to adhere strictly to the form and feel solution to that particular problem, as we now have showers.
They respect the spirit of things like that which is cleanliness and respect for one's appearance, and upkeep of one's hygiene. for instance, they don't wear obnoxious purfumed deodorants, they wear unscented ones. But the concept of deodorants itself is a modern solution to a problem that they had to use other creative means in more ancient times.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
Last edited by Sara H on Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"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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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:09 pm

Sara H wrote:
Huifeng wrote:It's rather confusing to say that Caodong Chan is just a Chinese version of Soto Zen. For a start, if anything, it would be the other way around, as Caodong comes before Soto.
~~ Huifeng


Well that's actually what I meant, I apologize if that were not understood.

I sometimes have a bit of difficulty in my phrasing of how I present my points across, so I apologize if the way I worded it was confusing.

I guess I had sortof taken that as sortof an obvious fact, (I tend to do that sometimes) but you are right, it isn't actually obvious, as some people don't know that, and so it needs to be pointed out. Thank you for mentioning that.

*embarrassed grins*

In Gassho,

Sara H.


Hi Sara,

No problem, and nothing to apologize for.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:22 pm

Sara H wrote:
Jnana wrote:
Sara H wrote:"OBC monastics receive the 16 bodhisattva precepts and 48 great precepts plus celibacy, rather
than the traditional Vinaya ordination."

Their "monastic credentials" if that's what your comments were implying are not in question, and they are indeed, fully recognized as monastics by both other western Buddhist monks who participate in the Western Buddhist Monastic Conference, (as well as being hosts to it regularly),as well as by monastic organizations in both Malaysia and China as well as in other parts of the world.

I think the point is that they're not bhikṣus & bhikṣuṇīs -- they haven't received ordination in the Dharmaguptaka vinaya.


Well the word bhikus and bhikunis just means male and female monk in sanscrit.

So yes they are. And they are recognized as such by international monastic organizations.

They are not considered vinaya monks, and they don't consider themselves such, for obvious reasons.

But they are considered Buddhist monastics.

As I said, the Asians are in agreement that the changes they have made are practical ones, due to modern innovations in western life, and do not compromise their monastic practice.

In Gassho,

Sara H.


Regards what bhiksu/ni mean in Sanskrit, it comes from the root term bhiks, meaning "to beg"; and refers to those religious mendicants who live by begging for alms. While there are obvious overlaps with the English term monk, from mono, "to be alone", they are not identical. But, perhaps getting all this stuff requires a fair amount of linguistic and cultural-historical work, so I'll point you to Bronkhorst's book on Two Traditions of Asceticism in Ancient India, to fill out the details of bhiksu, sadhu, parivrajika, agarika, samnyasi, etc. etc.

But, whatever the term means, the Buddhist Vinaya(s) point out a number of ways in which one is, or is not, a bhiksu/ni. In short, one needs to have undergone the full ordination (upasampada). This in turn requires an upadhyaya and two acaryas, along with seven other (two other in the border lands) witness acaryas. Each of these must in turn have undergone full ordination, and have at least ten years (varsa) as such. Then there is the whole ordination process itself, which is fairly detailed. The Chinese based theirs on the Dharmagupta Vinaya from the time of Master Daoxuan onwards. But, the point is, without all this, one is simply not a bhiksu/ni - the Vinaya has the Buddha stating it quite clearly. As I mentioned previously, this is the basic standpoint of Chan, as well. So, from that point of view, no full ordination, no bhiksu status. Saying they are "monastic" but not "bhiksu" is going to get confusing from a Chan point of view, because it will depend on what term one wants to render "monastic" in with Chinese. And then we'll get down to just playing with different terms. (If we aren't there already!)

Likewise too, I am sure that Western religious orders of whatever stripe all have their own formal ordination process. To have not undergone that, but to claim, for example, to be a Catholic priest, is not going to be accepted by and large. Likewise for the Buddhists - and again, the Vinaya states this as such. One simply living such a lifestyle without the ordination is a bogus bhiksu/ni. I am not sure what "international monastic organizations" you refer to; or what "Asians" you refer to, either.

Having so said, and this often comes across rather heavy, as Khedrup-la has said, I also rejoice in the actions of those who live such a lifestyle. My own uncle, for example, a life long celibate practitioner and now living full time in a vihara, falls into this category. Nobody calls him a bhiksu/ni, or even a monk, as far as I know. But, its great practice, whatever the case.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:30 pm

I updated my last post, I think you should take a look at what I edited in Huifeng,

But as I said, they do not consider themselves vinaya, they consider themselves monastics.

And, they are considered such by others.

And, they do beg. They live on alms, and the donations of the Sangha. They do not charge for retreats, and go on traditional alms rounds.

Like I said, they are a modern adaptation of something. They do not claim to be vinaya, but Astus original comment was that he asserted that monastics in Buddhism must be vinaya, and that is simply not the case. There are monks who are not.

Some "vinaya" monks do not keep to the entire vinaya, again, for practical reasons.

Especially in the cases of the hygiene stuff, that stuff is rapidly being abandoned in the modern world, as modern innovations have taken the place of the need of the old rules.

Buddhism does get updated, this is not the Christian bible here.

In Gassho,

Sara H.

EDIT: here, I'll just quote some of what I said for easy reference:

As I said, many of the rules in the vinaya are simply there as a practical solution to problems that came about as a result of living in a poor agrarian society in ancient times, and in response to very specific cultural problems. Many of these things simply don't apply to the western world, as we have solutions to things, like modern hygene, and laundry machines, and we live in a society where women are considered equal and must be treated as such.

Women's equality, in particular is one of the hallmarks of western Buddhism.

Being a monk, is not dependent upon whether one washes oneself in a certain kindof way.
Things like that were in the vinaya to enforce cleanliness, and regular bathing in monks. That yes, it is improper for monks to not bathe, as they will smell very bad, and that not bathing is disrespectful. That might be a practical rule in a third world country, but in the west, we consider that obvious, so it's not necessary to adhere strictly to the form and feel solution to that particular problem, as we now have showers.
They respect the spirit of things like that which is cleanliness and respect for one's appearance, and upkeep of one's hygiene. for instance, they don't wear obnoxious purfumed deodorants, they wear unscented ones. But the concept of deodorants itself is a modern solution to a problem that they had to use other creative means in more ancient times.
Last edited by Sara H on Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:32 pm

I'm not sure how the issue of bathing / washing came to the fore, but checking the basic Dharmagupta Vinaya, there doesn't seem to be any conflict with the precept and how Chinese tradition bhiksu/ni go about the business of washing. There are plenty of exceptions - which is often the case with many precepts - for various extenuating circumstances. I can't see exactly what needs to somehow be modernized or whatever in this case.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:39 pm

Maybe I'm a bit behind the game, but, may I ask, what precept does using a laundry machine break? Or, by using un-perfumed deodorant, for that matter? such that we require a change to the Vinaya to allow these things.

(Am I off topic enough, yet?! :ban: )

~~ Huifeng
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:45 pm

Huifeng wrote:I'm not sure how the issue of bathing / washing came to the fore, but checking the basic Dharmagupta Vinaya, there doesn't seem to be any conflict with the precept and how Chinese tradition bhiksu/ni go about the business of washing. There are plenty of exceptions - which is often the case with many precepts - for various extenuating circumstances. I can't see exactly what needs to somehow be modernized or whatever in this case.

~~ Huifeng

Well, you're going to have to talk to them about that, I'm not a monk,
but I am aware that they went about this in great care, and with great respect for the intent of why thing were there.

They are happy to talk about this, I know I've talked to Rev. Master Haryo, (the Head of the OBC) personally about things similar to this on many occasion.

I simply don't know the answer to your question off-hand, as I am not a monk, and I don't do that kindof practice, the monastic procedures arn't something that often come up in my life with my practice.

But I do know that they are perfectly friendly and willing to speak to about these things if you wish to ask them.

Rev. Haryo can be reached through the guest office at Shasta Abbey at (530) 926-5208

If you have to leave a message I know he returns calls.

Again, I wish I could help you more, but without asking him directly, (and it's a bit early in the am to do that) I don't know.

I've reached the edge of my knowledge in these matters, much of what I know is simply from various conversations I've had with him about and other monks about things like this as it's come up over the years.

But again, I know they're happy to talk with people.

In Gassho,

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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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:52 pm

Huifeng wrote:Maybe I'm a bit behind the game, but, may I ask, what precept does using a laundry machine break?

(Am I off topic enough, yet?! :ban: )

~~ Huifeng


lol, yes you are being off topic.

And oh you know, I'm talking about stuff that's in those 200 some-od rules and such.

There's tons and tons and tons of monastic rules.

The monks in the OBC have plenty of monastic rules, but I'm not familiar with what they all are. They don't eat garlic for instance, they are vegetarian, (lacto ovo), etc, etc.

In Gassho,

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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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:53 pm

Thanks for the invitation to contact them. However, I'm on another continent right now, and phone calls can be costly... :tongue:

I also note that in addition to Chan tradition Dharmagupta vinaya monastics, even fairly hard nosed Vinaya Theravadins don't seem to have any problems with washing machines; or Tibetan Mulasarvastivadin lamas, for that matter (Khedrup-la?).

"...stuff that's in those 200 some-odd rules and such..."
I can't find what stuff that would be, to be honest. I can't find what actual precept you are talking about that needs to change. (There are 243 precepts + the 7 settlements, usually given as a nice neat 250, by the way - Dharmagupta, that is.) Hence, I can't see the grounds for your argument.

As such, my guess would be, that for the OBC, they come from a tradition that didn't have Vinaya bhiksu/ni ordination to begin with, hence the arguments for a need for change. But my point is, those traditions that have always maintained vinaya bhiksu/ni ordination don't seem to have the need to drop the vinaya in order to meet the modern period. Hence, is there a need for change at all?

~~ Huifeng
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:54 pm

Sara,

Is this the first time we've met in cyberspace?

~~ Huifeng
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:06 pm

even fairly hard nosed Vinaya Theravadins don't seem to have any problems with washing machines; or Tibetan Mulasarvastivadin lamas, for that matter (Khedrup-la?).


No problem with washing machines here ;).

And when I stayed at the Ajahn Chah Forest Sangha Monastery in Wellington New Zealand, they used a washing machine in the winter. And that is a Sangha that is known for their austerity and strict Vinaya!

I wonder if OBC didn't receive Vinaya because the founder Rev. Kennett studied in Japan, where the Vinaya was no longer available.

Like I said, if they are living a disciplined life of precepts and practice, I rejoice. But we still have to be clear that their ordination is not a Vinaya ordination of bhikshus or bhikshunis, otherwise Vinaya will become a meaningless ambiguous word that refers to any type of ascetic or disciplined practice, rather than its real meaning- an extensive training tradition that employs precepts and community rituals that are thousands of years old.

In Buddhist circles outside Japan the word monastic is equated with Vinaya ordinations- whether in Taiwan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, Thailand, Tibet, Bhutan etc. In other words, this is an idea that is held across the three broad categories of Buddhism- Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

In Tibet there were many great lay practitioners who led a very ascetic lifestyle, such as Milarepa. But no one would call them monastics, monks, or nuns.

I would love to discuss with Rev. Haryo about how the community life evolved for the clergy at Shasta Abbey, perhaps when I am in the USA I will pay a visit. But I am sure he has more important things to do running a monastery than deal with my queries via phone.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:20 pm

Huifeng wrote:Thanks for the invitation to contact them. However, I'm on another continent right now, and phone calls can be costly... :tongue:

I also note that in addition to Chan tradition Dharmagupta vinaya monastics, even fairly hard nosed Vinaya Theravadins don't seem to have any problems with washing machines; or Tibetan Mulasarvastivadin lamas, for that matter (Khedrup-la?).

"...stuff that's in those 200 some-odd rules and such..."
I can't find what stuff that would be, to be honest. I can't find what actual precept you are talking about that needs to change. (There are 243 precepts + the 7 settlements, usually given as a nice neat 250, by the way - Dharmagupta, that is.) Hence, I can't see the grounds for your argument.

As such, my guess would be, that for the OBC, they come from a tradition that didn't have Vinaya bhiksu/ni ordination to begin with, hence the arguments for a need for change. But my point is, those traditions that have always maintained vinaya bhiksu/ni ordination don't seem to have the need to drop the vinaya in order to meet the modern period. Hence, is there a need for change at all?

~~ Huifeng


Well, it is my understanding that those 200 some-od things are not considered precepts as much as they are "vows".

The OBC gets it's monastic vows along with the Bodhisattva vows, but also from the Scripture of Bhrama's Net.

Also, I believe much of their monastic practice is based off of Dogen's monastic rules, combined with what they have learned from interacting with the Malaysians and other monastics on what is practical.

I can tell you one thing very specifically that came up in a conversation and that is with regard to some of the rules regarding behavior toward women in the vinaya,

Such as this:

Alone with a Woman

Or talking privately with a woman.

"Should any bhikku sit in private, alone with a woman in a seat secluded enough to lend itself (to the sexual act), so that a female lay follower whose word can be trusted, [49] having seen (them), might describe it as constituting any of the three cases... or he may be delt with for whichever case the female lay follower described"


These are actually vows that vinaya monks take to not be alone with women.

However, this is completely impractical in a co-ed monastery.

Male and female monks often work side by side in an office, or a workshop, or doing tasks, etc.

There would be no way for them to do this practically, and maintain a co-ed monastery.

So there'd be no way for them to take the full vinaya and be honest about it.

If I remember correctly they generally just trust in their training, and the seriousness of it, and that the monks arn't getting up to any "hanky panky" when they are working together. People are human, but they are expected to sit with, and be honest about their impulses, and keep their vows of celibacy.

Regarding your question, I assume so, that this is the first time we've met online... in dharmawheel that is...

Unless you used to be in the craigslist religion forums, I was SotoZenFriend there, years and years ago when I used to visit there.

In Gassho,

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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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby plwk » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:21 pm

This link seems to suggest on page 81, that the OBC 'monastic' discipline is a mix and match of three sources: the Pali Vinaya, the Bodhisattva Precepts from the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra and Dogen's rules... so that's combination that forms the 200 over rules? I am aware that the late Rev Jiyu Kennett did receive the Dharmaguptaka Sramanerika ordination from Malaysia (though not sure if she pursued it to Bhikshuni level) but if what the link says is true, then the OBC is indeed adopting and practising a unique form of 'mix and match monastic' regulations...
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:23 pm

These are actually vows that vinaya monks take to not be alone with women.

However, this is completely impractical in a co-ed monastery.


Sara,

The vow itself addresses your qualm (see bold):

"Should any bhikku sit in private, alone with a woman in a seat secluded enough to lend itself (to the sexual act), so that a female lay follower whose word can be trusted, [49] having seen (them), might describe it as constituting any of the three cases... or he may be delt with for whichever case the female lay follower described"


There are actually loads of exceptions and safety valves built in. I don't think upholding this vow as it appears above would be impractical at all in a co-ed monastery. In fact, it might prevent a lot of problems.

I myself speak with women privately quite frequently, especially during courses, in a part of our centre where an office has a window that views the corridor. This makes sure it is not "secluded".
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:26 pm

Master Sheng Yen has said that historically the Vinaya was seldom really upheld and understood in China (that includes Chan). Up until recently a lot of monks just went through a tonsure ceremony, but not full bhiksu ordination (in many cases not even novice precepts). There's also the matter of karma proceedings which were largely neglected in China.

There was actually something of a revival of Vinaya studies and practice after WWII in Taiwan, but for the last ten centuries in Chinese Buddhism the Vinaya was actually neglected. You have stories of monks wandering around China in the Song dynasty looking for a suitable preceptor and a group of pure bhiksus to ordain them. It wasn't easy. In the Tang dynasty there was strong sentiments towards abandoning the Vinaya in favour of bodhisattva precepts. Figures like Saicho in Japan, who advocated bodhisattva monastic ordinations, got his ideas from authors like Mingkuang and others in China.

My understanding of the Vinaya in China is that historically it wasn't really widely studied or implemented. Master Sheng Yen has said the same thing. There were Vinaya masters and facilities for receiving precepts, but it wasn't a big deal throughout the centuries. In his youth he witnessed these ordination facilities ordaining any number of "twenty year olds" who were actually still under twenty, but they still went ahead with it nevertheless.

It would be anachronistic to project into the past a strong preference for Vinaya practices in Chan lineages when in reality it just wasn't there. I mean now in Taiwan there certainly is, but that's a recent development.
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