Malcolm wrote:Right, most monastics are religious professional providing ecclesiastical services, which is not what Buddha intended for bhikṣus, etc. There were already brahmins for that.
History decided otherwise, especially when the traditional mendicant lifestyle became infeasible in some territories. You have Brahmanical literature which talks about what a bad omen it is when yellow robed monks show up. The long conflict between Buddhists and Brahmins, which the former lost, saw a need for landed monasticism.
Bad example, especially in the case of Zen, where we know that virtually no "monks" fit the criteria of being considered bhikṣus. And in China, this kind of labor was done by novices who have no vow not to dig in the ground, not by senior bhikṣus.
You clearly don't know what you're talking about, Malcolm. I think you're just playing the devil's advocate here, but I'll play along.
You fail to realize how uncommon the bhikṣu ordination was in some places in China. In the Tang dynasty there was open rejection of the Vinaya by monks, calling it a Hīnayāna teaching. Daoxuan, a noted scholar and advocate of the Vinaya, complained of Mahāyāna practitioners disregarding the Vinaya precepts:
《四分律刪繁補闕行事鈔》卷2：「今時不知教者。多自毀傷云。此戒律所禁止。是聲聞之法。於我大乘棄同糞土。猶如黃葉木牛木馬誑止小兒。此之戒法亦復如是。誑汝聲聞子也。」(CBETA, T40, no. 1804, p. 49, b27-c1)
In present times many of those who do not know the teachings destroy and injure themselves saying, "These Vinaya prohibitions are a śrāvaka teaching. In our Mahāyāna we toss it away just like dirty soil. Just like yellow leaves, a wooden cow or a wooden horse deceive a little child, these precept teachings are like this. They deceive you little śrāvaka!"
Later on full bhikṣu ordinations were restricted by the state. Until fairly recently there were not so many full bhikṣu-s in Chinese Buddhism. Modern authors sometimes lamented how earlier a lot of monks just had the tonsure and that's it.
In the case of Zen, a Zen monk in Kamakura Japan was a monk. He lived in a monastery, shaved his head and was expected to maintain celibacy. That's what we call a monk in English. They weren't legally defined as bhikṣu-s, but then in Japanese "bhikṣu" became a humble first person pronoun. Their own forms of monasticism developed based on environmental and social circumstances.
The fact that money carries value is sufficient. There is no intrinsic value to gold, its value is also determined by fiat.
There ain't no precepts against having fiat currency through a plastic card connected to a global banking network.
Christian monks, yes, not Buddhist monks.
You should visit Taiwan. They got full bhikṣu-s growing food.
The Vinaya[s] is/are the only basis upon which someone can be considered a bhiḳsu or not.
Bhikṣu just means beggar. There's a legal definition of the term, but you fail to recognize that the Buddha's first disciples and some other eminent followers were technically bhikṣu-s without having received any precepts at all (this is called a svagata bhikṣu
in Vinaya jargon). The first disciples had no precepts because precepts only came to exist, at least as the story goes, because of incidents occurring that caused problems for the community.
The Vinaya system nevertheless is a later development and the fundamentalist interpretation of it, which you are pushing here to justify your lack of generosity towards monastics, was not the Buddha's intent at all. Even according to the orthodox story, he told Ananda to drop the minor rules. He's also on record starting that things could be adapted to foreign environments.
...it is about whether Buddhaist monasticism can be maintained in a proper way, and I think that conditions for that are vanishing, both because of the qualities of the people seeking ordination and because of the qualities of the epoch -- which are both rather inferior, in my opinion -- though there are rare exceptions like HH Dalai Lama, Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche and so on.
The "proper way" was devised by later monks in accordance with changing historical circumstances. There's nothing wrong with ignoring or simply cutting away rules and regulations which make no sense anymore (like having to smear your room with cow dung after having eaten garlic).