Precepts in China and Japan

Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:47 am

Huifeng wrote:However, in the 小小戒可捨 "the minor precepts may be rescinded" case, as well as this, they refer to a minor issues of decorum (perhaps the siksapadani) and cultural issues (eg. bathing times). While I don't recall if it has been raised in this thread, such alterations seem hardly to extend to issues such as how the ordination process takes place, the precepts of "defeat" (parajika), and other more core issues.



The definition of "minor precepts" differs according to the school as you know. Nevertheless, the Buddha is on record saying the sangha could abandon minor precepts and change things accordingly. Naturally as a śramaṇa that wouldn't entail abandoning precepts against sex and theft, but nevertheless modifications could be made. That says to me that the Buddha was fine with changing the system as needed.

In fact modifications were made and hence the Vinaya literature differs from school to school (there's even apparent Mahāyāna adaptations to be seen in some places). The core essentials are still largely identical, but then the original Japanese monastic systems not based on the Vinaya are not so different either. Things changed and now priests get married and so on, but before it was a respectable system that worked and plenty of monastics had long careers full of practice and fulfilment without having to defer to Vinaya texts.

In any case, life is short and we're all going to die sooner or later. Having rules for organizations is necessary, but acting like Pharisees and clinging to rules and procedures as if they're god-given commandments that are prerequisites for liberation is not going to help anyone. It should be an organic process, which I believe was the Buddha's intent. The Japanese managed fine without all the Vinaya procedures for many centuries. They had rules and procedures, but these were adapted to and organic to their environment. That should be commended and emulated where necessary.
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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:51 am

There is also the whole line of thought, expressed by Yinshun and others, that Kasyapa represented the Western traditions; a similar situation to the convocation involving the "ten issues which are not Dharma", Western vs Eastern bhiksus.

In this line of thought, the Easterners more closely represented the Buddha's own Kosala / Vaidehi / Sakyan culture, which was less legalistic on the discipline side of things. The Buddha spent more of his early years after awakening in this area, especially around Rajagrha. Later, once the Sangha was established and the rules came in, he spent more time in the West. The West had greater Brahmanic influence, and things leaned toward the legalistic interpretation.

Prebish and Nattier's study a decade or two ago was revealing: the Mahasamghika wasn't the ones removing precepts from the Vinaya as earlier thought (under probably heavy Sthavira reading influence), but that the Sthaviras were adding precepts after the Buddhas own time.

However, in both cases again, the basic format of the Vinaya and ordination was the same. It was more a matter of the siksapada type precepts that differ. (Again, readily seem with a basic synoptic reading of several pratimoksa texts.)

So, that's another argument for modification, but only up to a certain level. Even then, one has to present the whole position for change in a convincing fashion. On one hand, Buddhists readily accept "change", but also believe change in and of itself it neither good nor bad, but that certain changes are beneficial to the Dharma and others not so. Even people such as HHDL indicates how difficult it is to implement change to the Vinaya that will be widely acceptable. If we had a modern day Kasyapa, I am sure that would help.

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:53 am

《彌沙塞部和醯五分律》卷22:「雖是我所制。而於餘方不以為清淨者。皆不應用。雖非我所制。而於餘方必應行者。皆不得不行。」(CBETA, T22, no. 1421, p. 153, a14-17)

“Even if it be something I have prohibited, if it is not considered pure [conduct] in other lands, then it all should not be adopted. Even if it is not something I have prohibited, if something must be carried out in other lands, then it all must be carried out.”


You know, one could suggest, that the Buddha's words on this are quite plain.

And that for the OBC, in the west, gender-equality, and the non-sepperation of gender roles: must be carried out.

And that if a rule stands against this, or inhibits this, or obstructs this, or goes against the spirit of this, or in some or in any way would call into question the conduct of a monk by following it, in the context of carrying the former out, then, the rule must not be followed.

It is the custom of the land in the west to have gender-equality, and the non-sepperation of gender roles.

This is in tune with the Buddha's practice, and with His own Teachings on applying His practice in different lands with different customs.

You know in Zen we have a scripture called the Sandokai, which is poem from one of our Chinese ancestors Sekito Kisen (C. Shitou Xiqian), which states:

"in form and feel we clutch at things, and then compound delusion later on by following ideals".

It sounds to me like it is possible, that some may be sortof clutching (clinging) to the form and feel of things when it comes to the vinaya and then following ideals, however well intentioned those ideals may be.

In Gassho,
-Sara
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IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
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We can turn around.
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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:53 am

Huseng wrote:
The definition of "minor precepts" differs according to the school as you know. ...


:good:

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:57 am

Sara H wrote:
《彌沙塞部和醯五分律》卷22:「雖是我所制。而於餘方不以為清淨者。皆不應用。雖非我所制。而於餘方必應行者。皆不得不行。」(CBETA, T22, no. 1421, p. 153, a14-17)

“Even if it be something I have prohibited, if it is not considered pure [conduct] in other lands, then it all should not be adopted. Even if it is not something I have prohibited, if something must be carried out in other lands, then it all must be carried out.”


You know, one could suggest, that the Buddha's words on this are quite plain.

And that for the OBC, in the west, gender-equality, and the non-sepperation of gender roles: must be carried out.

And that if a rule stands against this, or inhibits this, or obstructs this, or goes against the spirit of this, or in some or in any way would call into question the conduct of a monk by following it, in the context of carrying the former out, then, the rule must not be followed.

It is the custom of the land in the west to have gender-equality, and the non-sepperation of gender roles.

This is in tune with the Buddha's practice, and with His own Teachings on applying His practice in different lands with different customs.

You know in Zen we have a scripture called the Sandokai, which is poem from one of our Chinese ancestors Sekito Kisen (C. Shitou Xiqian), which states:

"in form and feel we clutch at things, and then compound delusion later on by following ideals".

It sounds to me like it is possible, that some may be sortof clutching (clinging) to the form and feel of things when it comes to the vinaya and then following ideals, however well intentioned those ideals may be.

In Gassho,
-Sara


Sara,

I don't know if you've checked it out at all, but you may find the present situation in Taiwanese Buddhism, esp. regards the role of (female) bhiksunis. I've seldom if ever found Chinese monastics cling to the external form of the vinaya, as "the spirit of things" is very much the deciding factors for most. If you haven't seen how this takes place in Taiwan, it could be interesting for you. Just saying 'n all. :smile:

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Indrajala » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:59 am

Huifeng wrote:Sara,

I don't know if you've checked it out at all, but you may find the present situation in Taiwanese Buddhism, esp. regards the role of (female) bhiksunis. I've seldom if ever found Chinese monastics cling to the external form of the vinaya, as "the spirit of things" is very much the deciding factors for most. If you haven't seen how this takes place in Taiwan, it could be interesting for you. Just saying 'n all. :smile:

~~ Huifeng


How many senior bhiksunis get to confer bodhisattva and lay precepts, though? They might be senior to the abbot and other senior bhiksus, but they're not charged with the task of conferring precepts. This is of course a rule that states if a bhiksu is present he has the duty of conferring precepts as per the order of precedence in the hierarchy.
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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:00 am

Regards gender equality, it is interesting that a number of rules for bhiksus are there to protect bhiksunis in the Buddha's time, by prohibiting bhiksus from having bhiksunis do various menial tasks for them. Of course, this isn't the same as modern perspectives on this matter, but my point is that there were provisions for this.

I think that a lot of the problems viz gender equality in the modern Sangha is due to the lack of bhiksuni ordination in several traditions. This is why pointing to the situation in Taiwan is interesting. (China has bhiksunis too, but the gender disparity is generally greater in my experience.) Now again, it's not north American or European style gender equality, but points a way for gender equality still within a bhiksu and bhiksuni ordination system. That could be a nice basis to further progress along.

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:05 am

Huseng wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Sara,

I don't know if you've checked it out at all, but you may find the present situation in Taiwanese Buddhism, esp. regards the role of (female) bhiksunis. I've seldom if ever found Chinese monastics cling to the external form of the vinaya, as "the spirit of things" is very much the deciding factors for most. If you haven't seen how this takes place in Taiwan, it could be interesting for you. Just saying 'n all. :smile:

~~ Huifeng


How many senior bhiksunis get to confer bodhisattva and lay precepts, though? They might be senior to the abbot and other senior bhiksus, but they're not charged with the task of conferring precepts. This is of course a rule that states if a bhiksu is present he has the duty of conferring precepts as per the order of precedence in the hierarchy.


Sure, as I say, it's not full gender equality. But, this is not due to a Vinaya issue at all, as far as I know. It's because there is still gender imbalance within Taiwanese society. Even many lay people, men and women, and bhiksunis too, insist that the bhiksu does it. (Not how I'd do it, but I'm not in Taiwan to tell Taiwanese people how they should practice their Dharma - I want to learn the good stuff, and ignore the rest.) One doesn't need to change Vinaya to change this situation, as far as I can see.

Do Tzu Chi do lay and bodhisattva precepts? If so, must be with bhiksunis, because they don't have any bhiksus. Likewise for other places like Xiangguan, etc.

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:26 am

Well, I can tell you this much,
The OBC has full gender equality.

They don't even use the word "nun" as "nun" has connotations in the west that are not equal. (Christian nun's are not equal eclesiastically to male monks and friars)

They just use the word "monk" for males and females alike.

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: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:32 am

The titles Reverend or Venerable can get around such issues. I think that calling women monks seems a bit strange, but only as strange as calling men nuns!

If there is true institutional equality, though, that's the most important thing. I think this will gradually happen even with the most convervative Buddhist communities because the momentum of society is such that it is almost inevitable.

I'm very excited that in the next 2 years we will have up to 15 new Geshe-ma (female geshes) graduating in India.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:50 am

JKhedrup wrote:The titles Reverend or Venerable can get around such issues. I think that calling women monks seems a bit strange, but only as strange as calling monks nuns!

If there is true institutional equality, though, that's the most important thing. I think this will gradually happen even with the most convervative Buddhist communities because the momentum of society is such that it is almost inevitable.

I'm very excited that in the next 2 years we will have up to 15 new Geshe-ma (female geshes) graduating in India.

*smiles* That is exciting!

The historical background for this, is that "nun" does not just mean "female monk" in western history. That's a common misunderstanding.

A "nun" is an entirely different rank and authority in Christianity to a male monk, as well as not all nuns are monastic.

While it is accurate to use the word "monk" (which corresponds to the terms "monastic" and "monastery") it isn't accurate to use the word "nun" in the context of full gender equality for the aforementioned reasons.

While using nun may make sense to a Buddhist, or even the average westerner without much knowledge of Christian ecclesiastical hierarchy, to one who understands the context of the use of such a word, sticking to one word, which accompanies the full meaning of the term makes sense, as there are westerners who do have such historical contextual knowledge, who might draw incorrect conclusions based on the use of the word "nun".

This is especially true if someone additionally has knowledge of many Buddhist monastic structures where gender inequality is also the case. They might simply assume it's the same in Buddhism, and that the word "nun" is exactly as applied in Christianity, only in a Buddhist sense.

That's not the case in the OBC, where there is full gender equality, and that before-mentioned hypothetical conclusion, wouldn't be an accurate one to draw.

This is why they use the term monk for both, it's accurate, and gender neutral.

The Japanese term is just Unsui, which just means "Zen Trainee".

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: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:00 am

Sara,
Do you think that much of the structure of the OBC was developed in order to address equality challenges in a society that was still greatly influenced by the Christian religious instutions and structures?
As the years went on, have some of these structures been reformulated in light of an increasingly secular society?
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:02 am

FYI: In Chinese, Yunshui 雲水 "cloud water" refers to a monastic who is travelling from monastery to monastery, training in various Chan halls and with various Chanshi as they go. They are not necessarily "trainees", as they may be adepts already. They go like "clouds" and "water", free and unhindered (through the empty sky).

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:39 am

JKhedrup wrote:Sara,
Do you think that much of the structure of the OBC was developed in order to address equality challenges in a society that was still greatly influenced by the Christian religious instutions and structures?
As the years went on, have some of these structures been reformulated in light of an increasingly secular society?


I would say that the reason for the development of some of their structure, was to address equality challenges in Buddhist structures, in the context of, a society that was (and is) still greatly influenced by the Christian religious institutions and structures.

But I don't think Christianity is or was a primary motivating factor, the equality challenges in Buddhism are are quite enough without adding Christianity's problems into the mix.

But I do think they were (and are) mindful that many people in the west come out of a Christian, or Abrahamic background, and it certainly still influences our culture. It's a great (in the sense of being large) part of our western history. And they definitely studied both that history, as well as Buddhist history, in order to help them better understand how to both bring monastic practice back into Zen, as well as how to adapt that to the west.

I also think they simply wished to be historically accurate in how they used terms and words.

I don't think they're going to start using the term "nun" any time soon if that's what you're asking. It's still a religious term with a religious history. History doesn't go away simply because people become more secular.

If you're asking if they're going to become more secular in their wording of things, then no, I don't think that's likely, Jiyu-Kennet was taught a religious form of Buddhism, and so she wished to present a religious form of Buddhism to the west, as an alternative to the many secular presentations that did and do exist. A religious practice is very helpful for some people so I don't think they have any intention of teaching a secular Zen.

There are plenty of alternatives if someone wishes for a more secular type of practice.

The decline of religion in general in the west, I believe has much to do with the decline of Christianity, which has essentially tied itself with sortof being a form of social birth control for much of it's history. As the need for that has declined with the advent of real birth control, I think their membership is dropping, and that's effecting other religions for a while, as well. Particularly those that have included various forms of sexual chastity and gender inequality as part of their forms and feels.

There seems to be a direct correlation with how much fighting against the birth-control and women's rights issue means to the religion, and how much those particular religions are declining. It seems to be directly related.

I rather expect Buddhism to get some of the backlash against religion over that for a while, like getting splashed with waves, but I do expect it to die down after a while, and when the waves calm, for people to settle down, and continue with religious practices of some sort. Only I don't think it will be a culturally enforced mono-religion, but rather people individually choosing for what's right for them as an individual.

People do have spiritual needs to be met, it may not be with Christianity, but it has to be met somehow.

The the essential nature of the human condition, and the nature of suffering has not changed, simply because large social changes are taking place.

There will always be a need for sincere practitioners, and for a practice to be offered to those who discover they need it, and for the sake of all beings.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
Last edited by Sara H on Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:53 am, 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: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Sara H » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:42 am

Huifeng wrote:FYI: In Chinese, Yunshui 雲水 "cloud water" refers to a monastic who is travelling from monastery to monastery, training in various Chan halls and with various Chanshi as they go. They are not necessarily "trainees", as they may be adepts already. They go like "clouds" and "water", free and unhindered (through the empty sky).

~~ Huifeng

Well, in the context of this, from a Zen perspective one is always a "trainee".

"Going on, Going on, always Going on, Always Becoming Buddha, Hail, Hail, Hail!"

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: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:51 pm

This way of life really appeals to me.

Spending time training at different monasteries that emphasize different things. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be a viable option in the world. Most monastic institutions across all the traditions demand a high level of institutional loyalty.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:06 pm

JKhedrup wrote:This way of life really appeals to me.

Spending time training at different monasteries that emphasize different things. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be a viable option in the world. Most monastic institutions across all the traditions demand a high level of institutional loyalty.


A very good idea, and almost that of the Buddha's own mendicancy times. Moving around a lot helps renunciation in many ways. I was just reflecting on how I have lived out of a suitcase for the past 7 years or so, and can leave to another country or continent with a few hours notice, no need to make plans to tie up loose ends at all. Not to mention learning from different teachers at different monasteries or other places.

Though, in China, at least, it was at times abused. People of sometimes dubious morality would simply flit back and forth around monasteries, staying only long enough for food and lodgings, but not long enough to contribute to the monastery. Tensions could form between the yunshui and changzhu (residents).

Like a lot of things, a system is one thing, but it is people that make it or break it.

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:09 pm

Sara H wrote:
"Going on, Going on, always Going on, Always Becoming Buddha, Hail, Hail, Hail!"

In Gassho,

Sara H.


Is this some rendition of the Hrdaya mantra?

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Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:01 pm

I was just reflecting on how I have lived out of a suitcase for the past 7 years or so, and can leave to another country or continent with a few hours notice, no need to make plans to tie up loose ends at all. Not to mention learning from different teachers at different monasteries or other places.


A great lifestyle for a scholar monk! Not many Westerners have the knowledge and experience you do so I really think it is wonderful that you share it with others. And I am glad you are able to travel and be exposed to different approaches. This was hard earned though and I am sure most Westerners wouldn't have the patience or fortitude to study and remain in the monastery long enough to make it to where you are today.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Precepts in China and Japan

Postby Huifeng » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:43 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
I was just reflecting on how I have lived out of a suitcase for the past 7 years or so, and can leave to another country or continent with a few hours notice, no need to make plans to tie up loose ends at all. Not to mention learning from different teachers at different monasteries or other places.


A great lifestyle for a scholar monk! Not many Westerners have the knowledge and experience you do so I really think it is wonderful that you share it with others. And I am glad you are able to travel and be exposed to different approaches. This was hard earned though and I am sure most Westerners wouldn't have the patience or fortitude to study and remain in the monastery long enough to make it to where you are today.


Right back at ya, O Venerable Lama! :namaste:

~~ Huifeng
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