Precepts in China and Japan

Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:39 pm

plwk wrote: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...


I was reffering to the 227 vinaya rules.

And you are right about the rest though, that is what their practice is based off of, Dogen's monastic rules, the Vinaya, and the Bodhisatva precepts as well as the Scripture of Bhrama's Net.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:43 pm

How difficult is it to receive the full ordination in Taiwan?
With big organizations like DDM, FGS, Chung Tai etc. of course they have a process by which to screen applicants and decide when to send them to the triple platform ceremonies.
But I'm wondering if an adult with a sponsor who wanted a more independent monastic life could easily register for the ceremony of full ordination with some kind of reference.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:44 pm

"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 think that the basic gist is just that the Chan lineages had bhiksu/ni ordination, or really, the triple platform ordination system (picked up by Chan lineages from Lu lineages many centuries ago), rather than "strong preference" (which, to be honest, I am not quite sure what you mean). Which I don't believe is an anachronistic argument. And this - back to the OP - is a "difference" between several types of Zen / Chan / Seon.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:49 pm

JKhedrup wrote:How difficult is it to receive the full ordination in Taiwan?
With big organizations like DDM, FGS, Chung Tai etc. of course they have a process by which to screen applicants and decide when to send them to the triple platform ceremonies.
But I'm wondering if an adult with a sponsor who wanted a more independent monastic life could easily register for the ceremony of full ordination with some kind of reference.


Sure. Because only larger monasteries can manage such an event, they usually take in not just those from their own monastery (system), but also open it up to others. If one has a shifu and otherwise is qualified to ordained, then they are usually accepted.

But, I am not sure if a shifu is what you mean by a sponsor or reference. While there are few if any ways to enforce such a principle, there is a basic notion that on ordination, one stays with one's shifu / preceptor for the first five years at least. It was considered (by Taixu and others) that people ordaining but then immediately going independent without proper training was a cause for the degradation of Buddhism in China in the late Qing.

So, in general, one needs a shifu, not just a letter saying that one is a good person and would make a nice bhiksu/ni. And in general, if they had the scruples, the monastery hosting the ordination would check to see if that is bona fide.

For the monastery that is hosting the ordination, then they obviously can do a very full and complete job of screening. But usually, the screening starts with tonsure, not with the triple platform. And tonsure doesn't (necessarily) involve sramaner/ika ordination. At FGS, we have pretty much three levels of screening for applicants from our own college (or internally wherever). The first level is the real test, which is the teachers and dean(s) of the buddhist college, who see the applicants on a daily basis, living, studying and working together.

By the way, Dharma Drum do not do their own triple platform ordination, though FGS and Chung Tai do. It requires some really large scale work to do this. Though, incidentally, the present abbot of DDM, Ven. Guo Dong, was one of the acaryas for the FGS ordination held a little over a year ago.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:54 pm

Huifeng wrote:In short, one needs to have undergone the full ordination (upasampada).


As you know, there's more than one way to become a bhiksu. What you're describing here is ordination via karma proceedings. However, there's more than one way to become a bhiksu in the formal legal sense of the Vinaya. The Ten Recitations Vinaya 十誦律 has ten ways to receive full ordination (是名十種具足戒).

In brief...

    I. Being the Buddha, where you don't have a preceptor.

    II. Like the five bhikṣus who attained enlightenment and immediately obtained all precepts. (This is problematic because at the time there were no precepts.)

    III. Like Mahākāśyapa who made personal oaths and thereupon had all precepts.

    IV. Like Sudāya who replied to Buddha's question and was permitted to get the full precepts.

    V. In a frontier land with five members of a sangha.

    VI. Like Mahāprajāpatī receiving the eight rules of respect.

    VII. Like Dharmadinnā who dispatched an envoy to return with the full precepts.

    VIII. The Buddha naming and welcoming a bhikṣu into the sangha, whereupon they had full ordination.

    IX. Taking refuge in the Triple Gem and reciting three times, “I follow the Buddha in leaving the home life,” whereupon one obtains the full precepts.

    X. Initiating the four-ceremony karma proceedings.

There are similar lists in other Vinaya texts.

Theoretically number VIII is still possible if one has a vision of the Buddha and is named as a bhiksu by him. I recall some eminent figure got his bhiksu ordination this way, but I can't recall who it was.

In any case, the early disciples had no precepts and were still nevertheless bhiksus, as were several others who didn't formally undergo ordination ceremonies during the Buddha's life, so it begs the question if this legal definition of bhiksu as proposed is really set in stone. I know what the Vinaya literature says, but that's later period (like around after 0 CE) according to several scholars and the archaeological record of references to "viharas".
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:55 pm

Sorry if this is dragging the thread off topic too much. I confess that recently I've been working on a presentation on Buddhist Monastic Education in Contemporary Taiwan, to be given Monday week at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, so all this stuff is floating around my brain a lot!

Mods, please split or do whatever you feel appropriate. Probably I've ranted about all this before...

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:56 pm

Makes sense. In fact, the 5 years reminds me of the "Nissaya" or "Dependence" tradition in Theravada, where one remains with a senior bhikkhu for five years. If that bhikkhu is too busy to offer guidance, he will try to secure another senior monk to help and transfer the Nissaya to them.

Of course people going out and doing there own thing right after ordination can cause problems, I see this in my tradition. But for people really strongly rooted in lay practice or retreat practice for many years being on their own and living up to the precepts might be possible.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:59 pm

In any case, the early disciples had no precepts and were still nevertheless bhiksus, as were several others who didn't formally undergo ordination ceremonies during the Buddha's life, so it begs the question if this legal definition of bhiksu as proposed is really set in stone


Maybe not set int stone, but the precepts had to be formulated because there were many problems with some of those early disciples!
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:06 pm

Huifeng wrote:I think that the basic gist is just that the Chan lineages had bhiksu/ni ordination, or really, the triple platform ordination system (picked up by Chan lineages from Lu lineages many centuries ago), rather than "strong preference" (which, to be honest, I am not quite sure what you mean). Which I don't believe is an anachronistic argument. And this - back to the OP - is a "difference" between several types of Zen / Chan / Seon.

~~ Huifeng


Okay, some might have had bhiksu ordinations, but to what extent? Duti Jianyue was out wandering China looking for Sanmei to get ordained. In the 16th / 17th century it was very difficult to get a complete formal ordination. I wouldn't be surprised if for the last thousand years or more a lot of eminent Chan figures didn't have bhiksu ordinations. Again, it clearly wasn't so important to a lot of Chinese Buddhists up until fairly recently. The Vinaya could have easily died out in China not so long ago.

My point really is that Chan lineages might not have really had much use for the Vinaya and consequently there were few bhiksus. A minority. They wouldn't have lived so different from pre-Meiji Zen monks.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:11 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
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".


Actually that's not the case, what you are saying about that rule.

Alone with a Woman

A BHIKKHU NOT ONLY has to be impeccable but also must be seen to be so. He sets an example for everyone and therefore must be beyond reproach. Any doubtful situations have to be clarified, which is how the next rules came about. Some knowledge of these rules may also help to explain the sometimes seemingly antisocial attitude of some bhikkhus. (When bhikkhus are reluctant to enter into too private a conversation, it may reflect the unsuitability of the time and place for such a meeting.)

There are two aspects to these particular rules: physical closeness and private conversation (see below Talking Privately). If a woman sees a monk who is sitting alone and she wants to sit close to him, or she wants to have a one-to-one conversation with him, the following rules have to be taken into account.

First, the rules dealing with intimate proximity:

The Two Aniyata, Indefinite or Undetermined Cases, were formulated after Ven.

Udayin went to visit a recently married young woman. He sat privately with her, in a secluded place, just the two of them, talking about worldly affairs. The respected 84

female lay-follower, Visakha, saw them sitting there and said to Ven. Udayin, ‚"This is improper, Ven. Sir, and unsuitable, that the master should sit in private like this.

Although, Ven. Sir, the master may have no desire for sexual intercourse, there are unbelieving people who are difficult to convince."

The Buddha therefore set this down:

"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"


Emphasis in color is mine,

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/bhkkrule.pdf.

You can see how that rule would create some practical problems in a co-ed monastery.

In Gassho,

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:12 pm

Huseng wrote:

Huifeng wrote:In short, one needs to have undergone the full ordination (upasampada).



As you know, there's more than one way to become a bhiksu.




Of course, Jeff, you are correct. I didn't want to bring all this into the thread earlier, though.

What you're describing here is ordination via karma proceedings. However, there's more than one way to become a bhiksu in the formal legal sense of the Vinaya. The Ten Recitations Vinaya 十誦律 has ten ways to receive full ordination (是名十種具足戒).




There are parallels in all the traditions, and I was trying to stick to the Dharmagupta vinaya, because that's the main one relevant to this thread, after all.

In brief...

I. Being the Buddha, where you don't have a preceptor.

II. Like the five bhikṣus who attained enlightenment and immediately obtained all precepts. (This is problematic because at the time there were no precepts.)




If you do a synoptic reading of this, I think you'll find that this may be a later addition. Moreover, the term used is "upasampada". Now, at the time, this can just mean "they made it". Later, when "upasampada" means technically the karma proceedings, then people read that back into the text, and it becomes problematic, because the vinaya hadn't been formed. But, if we keep in mind that upasampada still has significance before vinaya precepts were formulated, it's not such a big deal.

III. Like Mahākāśyapa who made personal oaths and thereupon had all precepts.

IV. Like Sudāya who replied to Buddha's question and was permitted to get the full precepts.

V. In a frontier land with five members of a sangha.




Hardly applies to China, either.

VI. Like Mahāprajāpatī receiving the eight rules of respect.

VII. Like Dharmadinnā who dispatched an envoy to return with the full precepts.

VIII. The Buddha naming and welcoming a bhikṣu into the sangha, whereupon they had full ordination.




The famous "ehi bhikkave!" type.

IX. Taking refuge in the Triple Gem and reciting three times, “I follow the Buddha in leaving the home life,” whereupon one obtains the full precepts.

X. Initiating the four-ceremony karma proceedings.
There are similar lists in other Vinaya texts.

Theoretically number VIII is still possible if one has a vision of the Buddha and is named as a bhiksu by him. I recall some eminent figure got his bhiksu ordination this way, but I can't recall who it was.



Really, still possible? The Buddha himself states that after he implemented the Vinaya, then no more ehi bhikkhave types thereafter. The statement itself says nothing about "vision" of the Buddha, but by the Buddha.

In any case, the early disciples had no precepts and were still nevertheless bhiksus, as were several others who didn't formally undergo ordination ceremonies during the Buddha's life, so it begs the question if this legal definition of bhiksu as proposed is really set in stone. I know what the Vinaya literature says, but that's later period (like around after 0 CE) according to several scholars and the archaeological record of references to "viharas".




As above. Once the Buddha implemented the Vinaya, then the older way was no longer used.

I'd put a fairly earlier date on the vinayas, around the time of the main splits c. Asoka. People like Schopen always like to argue for much later dates, but they tend to be a minority. And, as we know, Schopen doesn't read Chinese, so it helps his own position to downplay all that, and argue that the Tibetan Mulasarvastivadin vinaya is the earliest.

Nobody has implied "set in stone". But, without other evidence, what are we to do? As far as we can see, all the systems that we can more reliably track, from India, through SE Asia, into central Asia, into China and beyond, all had these same basic ideas. So, if we are to take this approach of what reliable evidence we have to work it out, arguments which then make a combination of Theravadin vinaya, Brahmajala sutra and others have even less ground to stand on. It's not like we have some ancient source or evidence of a 50 precept vinaya or something, which doesn't require any form of formal ordination process, after all.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:15 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Maybe not set int stone, but the precepts had to be formulated because there were many problems with some of those early disciples!



I know one senior Theravada monk who outright said "most certainly" a lot of the stories found in the Vinaya are later additions. They were used to justify the existence of rules which in the Buddha's day were just commonly accepted ground rules for śramaṇas (celibacy, no drinking alcohol, no killing, etc...). The scholarship on the matter is also saying that the Vinaya literature is late period, like when the Mahāyāna was emerging. You have pot shots being taken at rigid Vinaya ideas in the Vimalakīrti Sūtra (Śāriputra trying to brush off the flower petals from his clothing), which perhaps says something about how it wasn't quite canonical at that point.

So, is it possible to be a begging mendicant in emulation of the Buddha without having undergone formal ordination in an institution which approves of you? I'd wager to say the Buddha would have been okay with it. The organized religion of Buddhism might say otherwise. However, the true śramaṇa pursues the path, not institutional certifications.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:18 pm

Huseng wrote:
Huifeng wrote:I think that the basic gist is just that the Chan lineages had bhiksu/ni ordination, or really, the triple platform ordination system (picked up by Chan lineages from Lu lineages many centuries ago), rather than "strong preference" (which, to be honest, I am not quite sure what you mean). Which I don't believe is an anachronistic argument. And this - back to the OP - is a "difference" between several types of Zen / Chan / Seon.

~~ Huifeng


Okay, some might have had bhiksu ordinations, but to what extent? Duti Jianyue was out wandering China looking for Sanmei to get ordained. In the 16th / 17th century it was very difficult to get a complete formal ordination. I wouldn't be surprised if for the last thousand years or more a lot of eminent Chan figures didn't have bhiksu ordinations. Again, it clearly wasn't so important to a lot of Chinese Buddhists up until fairly recently. The Vinaya could have easily died out in China not so long ago.

My point really is that Chan lineages might not have really had much use for the Vinaya and consequently there were few bhiksus. A minority. They wouldn't have lived so different from pre-Meiji Zen monks.


Jeff, I am curious if you have any studies on this matter. It's an interesting question that I was thinking about after reading Ven. Shengyan's and Ven. Yinshun's modern Vinaya studies books / articles. I got the impression that the bhiksu/ni ordination was still definitely going on, though the standard with which it was being held was slowly deteriorating (up to the late Qing). So, just wondering why you think "a lot of Chan figures didn't have bhiksu ordination"; and "... there were few bhiksus".

Just a point to note, at this point, for the general readership of the thread:
Formally receiving the precepts and upholding them are related, but not the same. Unless one does a parajika, one still has ordination.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:22 pm

Huseng wrote:So, is it possible to be a begging mendicant in emulation of the Buddha without having undergone formal ordination in an institution which approves of you? I'd wager to say the Buddha would have been okay with it. The organized religion of Buddhism might say otherwise. However, the true śramaṇa pursues the path, not institutional certifications.


Jeff,

I think that almost all of us in this thread would largely agree.

But, this is not the original topic of discussion. Part of the original thread discussion involved institutional differences among traditions, so raising this is quite valid.

To make a distinction between formal bhiksu/ni ordination or lack thereof, does not imply that one has to have such an ordination to practice the path.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:42 pm

Huifeng wrote:Jeff, I am curious if you have any studies on this matter. It's an interesting question that I was thinking about after reading Ven. Shengyan's and Ven. Yinshun's modern Vinaya studies books / articles. I got the impression that the bhiksu/ni ordination was still definitely going on, though the standard with which it was being held was slowly deteriorating (up to the late Qing). So, just wondering why you think "a lot of Chan figures didn't have bhiksu ordination"; and "... there were few bhiksus".


Most of what I know comes from Master Sheng Yen's 戒律學綱要 and 律制生活. The lack of interest in the Vinaya after the decline of the Nanshan, but even come the Song Dynasty meant a lot less complete ordinations taking place. Again, Duti Jianyue is one example of someone who had to walk from one end of China to another to get a full ordination. That was late Ming Dynasty.

Master Sheng Yen also lamented in the 60s that many monks didn't have either bhiksu or novice precepts. They were just tonsured. There was also the problem of unqualified masters ordaining unqualified "bhiksus", which in Vinaya terminology means there was no "precept essence" 戒體 conferred, hence no real bhiksus.

I think it was Hongyi who thought that China didn't have any real bhiksus anymore. Hongyi's stuff is also quite extensive.

So, even before the 20th century, it begs the question how many bhiksus were there, and then how many of them were legit (like having proper pure bhiksu masters and being fully qualified themselves to receive the precept essence)?
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:00 pm

Thanks. I've read both of Ven. Shengyan's books (a couple of times for the former), and we used Ven. Hongyi's notes to the Sifen lu pratimoksa for ordination - I still have and refer to my copy of it.

Whatever the case, history aside, I think what I've written in this thread would be a fairly standard point of view for much of modern Chan, anyway. In other words, if you poked some other Chinese tradition bhiksu/ni, you'd get much the same response out of them.

In fact, looking at the few Chinese Chan traditions that really have any influence in the West (which, this forum running in English, really only ever sees) - Fo Guang Shan, Dharma Drum, Chung Tai, and the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas - I'd say what I have written is really fairly mild. Several of these groups would take a much harder line on bhiksu/ni ordination and attempts to change or modify it, for whatever reason.

There is always variation, however. The whole of East Asia, 1500 or so years, its bound to have a lot of it.

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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:04 pm

Huifeng wrote:Whatever the case, history aside, I think what I've written in this thread would be a fairly standard point of view for much of modern Chan, anyway.


I won't disagree, though modern Chan in Taiwan and America are quite different from how it was even a century ago in China. There's been a lot of reform and attempts to return to a new vision of orthodoxy, which includes the Vinaya.

If it is correct that Vinaya ordinations were scarce for the last ten centuries in China, then presumably a lot of Chan proponents and practitioners might have been monks without bhiksu precepts. In which case they were not unlike their Zen counterparts in Japan.
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Re: chan/seon/rinzai/soto differences

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:33 pm

Huseng wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Whatever the case, history aside, I think what I've written in this thread would be a fairly standard point of view for much of modern Chan, anyway.


I won't disagree, though modern Chan in Taiwan and America are quite different from how it was even a century ago in China. There's been a lot of reform and attempts to return to a new vision of orthodoxy, which includes the Vinaya.

If it is correct that Vinaya ordinations were scarce for the last ten centuries in China, then presumably a lot of Chan proponents and practitioners might have been monks without bhiksu precepts. In which case they were not unlike their Zen counterparts in Japan.


Maybe. I'd rather something more backed up though. Just doing searches through the FGBD, a fair number of eminent Ming Chan monastics apparently received full ordination, and the location and upadhyaya are often given. Likewise for the Qing. And there are a large number for the Tang and Song. Of course, this doesn't give percentages for the total. But, considering that such eminent monastics often ordained large numbers themselves, it wouldn't be surprising if they were responsible for thousands of ordinations over the years.

Jianyue was from Yunnan, I think, and Jiguang was from Baohua in Jiangsu, so of course he had to walk half of China. I don't know if that was because there was no other place for ordination, though, or just that he particularly wanted to study with Jiguang. From what I heard from my own teacher, who spent much time at Baohua si when he was young, they certainly kept up the tradition of triple platform ordination, even in the chaos of the 30s and 40s. The system they used, while slightly modified, is still extremely close to that found in the old Song dynasty ordination systems from the Chan school. What is now used is pretty much the same in Taiwan and China as that slightly revised Jianyue version. Now, that's just the texts, not the people getting ordained, but they managed to keep those texts going at least, for almost 1000 years now.

So, I'm not convinced that any significant amount were not ordained. At certain times and places, very possible, but not as a general rule at all.

I'm not so experienced about Chan in the US. But, from what I've seen in a couple of places, it's not that much different to Taiwan or China. There has been little if any adaptation to US cultural norms, and so not much at all on this front has changed.

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Astus » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:03 pm

In Jiang Wu's "Enlightenment in Dispute" there is a brief discussion of the situation of ordination in Ming times. Since the 14th century it's been under control by the central government, restricting full ordination to 40 by county and 20 by town. In the early 16th century the ordination platforms in Beijing and Nanjing were closed by imperial decree, then at the beginning of the 17th century the triple ordination was started and spread by the new Chan movement, and only in the mid-18th century was the government control over ordination removed. It gives the example of the famous Chan master Hanyue Fazang who had been a member of the monastic community since he was a child, but because of the ban on ordination he got the complete precepts only at the age of 37.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:27 pm

Astus wrote:In Jiang Wu's "Enlightenment in Dispute" ...


That helps to confirm some of my suspicions.

I wonder though how desirable full ordination would have been after the Nanshan tradition fell away into obscurity. Master Sheng Yen notes in the 60s that a lot of Nanshan texts were preserved in Japan, but not in China.
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