Vinaya Texts

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Vinaya Texts

Postby coldwater » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:21 pm

Not quite a sutra...but no Vinaya or monastic category :)

I can find lots of papers and discussion on various Vinaya but the only text in translation seems to the the Theravadin one? Maybe I am just really terrible at using the internet?!? Also Thich Nhat Hanh's revised Vinaya text for recitation...but I am looking for root texts rather than scholastic analysis or contemporary revisions.

Using google translate on the Taisho Tripitaka results in a funny but totally useless translation. Any links, books or translations of any of the various Vinaya texts? The Dharmaguptaka and Mūlasarvāstivāda would be first choices.

Mahīśāsaka Vinaya
Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya
Dharmaguptaka Vinaya
Sarvāstivāda Vinaya
Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya

-byogen
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:03 am

At the moment the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya is being translated into English by the Numata Foundation. It is on their list here:

http://www.bdk.or.jp/english/activity/list.html

I'm uncertain when it will be published, however I have come to understand it has been translated which I assume means it is in the proofreading and editing stages. I know a lot of people are eager to gain access to the text. It is surprising it has taken this long to be translated.

This is also interesting (I know you're not looking for scholastic analysis, but take a look):

"The Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya Revival in Tokugawa Japan"

http://www.scribd.com/doc/145537380/Mis ... Clarke-pdf

I recently did something about the topic:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... hismvinaya


The truth is there isn't much in English about the Vinaya. There's been some academic research, but it is limited. There's a lot of material and annotated versions in Chinese and Japanese with respect to the ancient Chinese versions.
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby cdpatton » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:49 pm

coldwater wrote:Not quite a sutra...but no Vinaya or monastic category :)

I can find lots of papers and discussion on various Vinaya but the only text in translation seems to the the Theravadin one? Maybe I am just really terrible at using the internet?!? Also Thich Nhat Hanh's revised Vinaya text for recitation...but I am looking for root texts rather than scholastic analysis or contemporary revisions.

Using google translate on the Taisho Tripitaka results in a funny but totally useless translation. Any links, books or translations of any of the various Vinaya texts? The Dharmaguptaka and Mūlasarvāstivāda would be first choices.

Mahīśāsaka Vinaya
Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya
Dharmaguptaka Vinaya
Sarvāstivāda Vinaya
Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya

-byogen


Charles Prebish did translate the Pratimoksa Sutras of the Mahasamghikas and the Mulasarvastivadins (_Buddhist Monastic Discipline_). There one can at least compare the precept lists. The Pali Vinayas are still in archaic PTS translations as well ...

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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby coldwater » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:11 am

Hello,

Thank you for the suggestions. I am interested in seeing the differences and perspectives available in each VInaya. I have read you essay and have come to similar conclusions about Vinaya via history. I think this is evident due to how many variations exist and find it interesting now how some I've met invoke it as an absolute authority when it is barely in translation.

Currently I am reading Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Monasticism and the BDK's translation of the Tendai Vinaya Teachings. Saicho and other's take on the 'Three Pure Precepts' as including Vinaya practice is interesting. Also how using the Three Pure Precepts was a way (potentially) to equalize power within the Buddhist community as allowed for a mixed community- renunciate, lay, men, women and seniority was based one's Bodhisattva ordination rather than the temporary self-liberation ordination. I think a similar type of movement happened in China but didn't last very long? I was told by another that even some Cha'n communities in the past 'broke away' and established their own ordination lineages using traditional texts/rituals because of the politics involved in their time.

Rulu's preface to the Bodhisattva Precepts indicates that the Brahma Net Sutra is still used for celibate Bodhisattva Vinaya practitioners compared to the Yogacharabhumi which does not contain a mandatory precept on celibacy? It also outlines 8 parajika for monastics and 6 for lay people while the Brahma Net is combined and is an extension of the 4 parajika from the Sravaka Vinaya?

Basically I am interested in looking at the purpose and function of Sravaka Vinaya and how it plays into what info I can find on the Bodhisattva Vinaya ordinations of Tendai and the first of the Three Perfect Precepts as being inclusive of all lower precepts. I was told there is a denomination within Tendai that still does 'Separate Ordinations' based on Sravaka Vinaya as a supplement to the Bodhisattva Vinaya.

Particularly interesting was Eison's self-ordination and revival of the Vinaya/Dharmaguptaka based ordinations by using a visionary experience and then subsequently the 'Comprehensive' Bodhisattva ordinations. Unorthodox but I think returns to the function of the Vinaya rather than using it as a political system or mechanism for regulating social status- which we can see from the various scandals that came from aristocratic/government involvement in religious life.

Perhaps someone else is more familiar and can clarify this information as I only have the two above books as reference. In a few months I will be able to ask one of the higher ups from Japan about it directly but information beforehand is helpful in forming questions to present.

Thank you again for the info, it will be great to see the discussion that comes out about Vinaya as the texts and traditions are translated rather than just the abbreviated lists of rules and as we move to more globalized forms of Buddhism.

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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:49 pm

coldwater wrote:I think this is evident due to how many variations exist and find it interesting now how some I've met invoke it as an absolute authority when it is barely in translation.


Even if you can read it in Pali, Tibetan or Classical Chinese, there are a lot of issues. Like for example the regulations for taxing tenant farmers and so forth. Did the Buddha really provide such regulations? Of course not. There's a lot of late period material even in the Pali version.

There's also the issue that voting procedures are prescribed yet most monasteries are run on dictatorship models with the head and maybe his close circle calling the shots.


I was told by another that even some Cha'n communities in the past 'broke away' and established their own ordination lineages using traditional texts/rituals because of the politics involved in their time.


In the Tang period there were several movements away from the Vinaya. As a Hīnayāna teaching it was often thought unnecessary and undesirable for bodhisattvas (especially in light of the Lotus Sūtra which states a Mahāyāna practitioner stays away from anyone associated with the Hīnayāna).

In actuality throughout much of Chinese history to become a monk meant undergoing the tonsure ceremony. The precepts were secondary to that. The Vinaya has seldom been thoroughly implemented or enforced.

Rulu's preface to the Bodhisattva Precepts indicates that the Brahma Net Sutra is still used for celibate Bodhisattva Vinaya practitioners compared to the Yogacharabhumi which does not contain a mandatory precept on celibacy? It also outlines 8 parajika for monastics and 6 for lay people while the Brahma Net is combined and is an extension of the 4 parajika from the Sravaka Vinaya?


It depends where you go. In some places the Brahma Net Sūtra is understood as prescribing celibacy, whereas others believe it just means sexual misconduct, in which case it is suitable for everyone. Given the context I think it means the former. It is clearly meant for renunciates.

The Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra permits sex and even special skilful means under certain circumstances:

    “If a bodhisattva resides as a householder and there appears a woman who is clearly unbound to anyone, habituated to sexual indulgence, attracted to the bodhisattva and seeking sexual activities, the bodhisattva having seen this thinks, 'Do not make her mind upset, producing much misfortune. If she pursues her desire, she will obtain freedom. As expedient means [upaya] I will take her in and have her plant the roots for virtue, also having her abandon unwholesome karma. I will engage in impure activities [abrahma-carya] with a compassionate mind.' Even practising such defiled activities like this, there is nothing that is violated [precepts], and much merit will be produced. The renunciate bodhisattva [a monk] in order to protect the noble śrāvaka proscriptions must not destroy [their precepts]. They should not engage in any impure activities.”


See the following:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... ana-ethics



Basically I am interested in looking at the purpose and function of Sravaka Vinaya and how it plays into what info I can find on the Bodhisattva Vinaya ordinations of Tendai and the first of the Three Perfect Precepts as being inclusive of all lower precepts. I was told there is a denomination within Tendai that still does 'Separate Ordinations' based on Sravaka Vinaya as a supplement to the Bodhisattva Vinaya.


I did something related:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... os-reforms
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby cdpatton » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:11 am

coldwater wrote:Hello,

Thank you for the suggestions. I am interested in seeing the differences and perspectives available in each VInaya. I have read you essay and have come to similar conclusions about Vinaya via history. I think this is evident due to how many variations exist and find it interesting now how some I've met invoke it as an absolute authority when it is barely in translation.

Currently I am reading Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Monasticism and the BDK's translation of the Tendai Vinaya Teachings. Saicho and other's take on the 'Three Pure Precepts' as including Vinaya practice is interesting. Also how using the Three Pure Precepts was a way (potentially) to equalize power within the Buddhist community as allowed for a mixed community- renunciate, lay, men, women and seniority was based one's Bodhisattva ordination rather than the temporary self-liberation ordination. I think a similar type of movement happened in China but didn't last very long? I was told by another that even some Cha'n communities in the past 'broke away' and established their own ordination lineages using traditional texts/rituals because of the politics involved in their time.

Rulu's preface to the Bodhisattva Precepts indicates that the Brahma Net Sutra is still used for celibate Bodhisattva Vinaya practitioners compared to the Yogacharabhumi which does not contain a mandatory precept on celibacy? It also outlines 8 parajika for monastics and 6 for lay people while the Brahma Net is combined and is an extension of the 4 parajika from the Sravaka Vinaya?

...


I think in India there was a general expectation that someone who took up the bodhisattva-yana would eventually become a renunciate. Being a householder bodhisattva was an initial stage of practice. But the ascetic culture of India and areas it strongly influenced made this a foregone conclusion. Anyone who really wanted to devote themselves to a religious career did so by leaving home. For a Buddhist, that meant entering a vinaya institution of some type (which would all be "sravaka vinayas" - just vinayas actually). I'm sure there were non-conformists (like myself - if only I lived in 4th c Gandhara, though!), and there were Mahayana writers later who purposely bucked the mainstream expectations - but that's the basic picture. The Inquiry of Ugra is a revealing snapshot of the attitude. A married bodhisattva householder was told to be disgusted by his wife and attempt to behave as though he was already a renunciate - to emulate that lifestyle - as a prelude to actually leaving home. The later versions of the Sutra read quite misogynistic, though the imagery is the type traditionally used by renunciates to overcome sexual desires when they arise.

I recall, when reading it, to be surprised by this compared to the attitude the householder bodhisattva is told to have towards a beggar - to happily give him whatever he asks for to satisfy his desires. Why wouldn't a householder bodhisattva have the same attitude towards his wife? But the idea is to rally householders to become renunciates, not teach them to be enlightened householders. And as the text itself admonishes, "no one ever became a Buddha living at home."

Now, when we move to East Asia, the situation is very different. There is not the longstanding ascetic tradition - yes, there is one of hermit sages somewhat, but not of having renunciates walking the streets of cities soliciting support, however subtly. I think the push to create separate bodhisattva "vinayas" using texts like the Brahma Net was a way to legitimately overlook the Indian vinayas, but avoiding the situation of simply abandoning any sort of ethical guide to follow. I think the meta-reality (culturally) is that India was a very unique and unusual kind of culture, in the way homeless ascetics were given social standing as they were, that has not been replicated anywhere else in that way - except perhaps in a small scale. Certainly, it was adopted in one guise or another - even as far away as Catholic Europe - but it was not the same. So, the result is that the elaborate vinayas that existed there just didn't get the same sort of acceptance elsewhere as a religious institution. Other cultures, such as the Chinese, rathered something simpler.

One of the more interesting things about these vinayas, though, (to me) is the story telling - and it spills over into jataka and avadana story telling. In seems as though the jataka/avadana literary tradition grew out of the enlargening vinayas.

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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby Will » Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:11 pm

Prebish's Buddhist Monastic Discipline is available at Scribd.
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby Huifeng » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:04 am

coldwater wrote:Not quite a sutra...but no Vinaya or monastic category :)

I can find lots of papers and discussion on various Vinaya but the only text in translation seems to the the Theravadin one? Maybe I am just really terrible at using the internet?!? Also Thich Nhat Hanh's revised Vinaya text for recitation...but I am looking for root texts rather than scholastic analysis or contemporary revisions.

Using google translate on the Taisho Tripitaka results in a funny but totally useless translation. Any links, books or translations of any of the various Vinaya texts? The Dharmaguptaka and Mūlasarvāstivāda would be first choices.

Mahīśāsaka Vinaya
Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya
Dharmaguptaka Vinaya
Sarvāstivāda Vinaya
Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya

-byogen


Hi,

One way would be to respectfully approach a teacher with experience in one or other of those traditions, and ask to learn about that Vinaya under their tutelage. Even if there is no full translation of the work in English, a good teacher would be able to let you learn the content.

Google Translate for the Taisho texts? :rolling:

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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby coldwater » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:50 pm

Preaching to the choir. I don’t see the Boddhisattva Vinaya (based on the Brahmajala) very different in effect from the ‘sravaka’ Vinaya. It just lacks some of the more detailed bits...but if you are are mindful of your three doors and checking for the three poisons while considerate of shared space/public interaction then naturally a majority of what is in the detailed Vinayas falls into place I think. The Three Pure Precepts (as clusters) are broad and include these teachings as well.

Yes, Saicho seemed to be doing what you say…using it to bypass the Indian codes that were either not being followed/not relevant to the culture while still maintaining the overall intent and a structure. What his successors and the times did with it all is different of course.

In current times not many other traditions consider a Sramanera or Bhikshu ordination taken through a comprehensive Mahayana ordination as valid. Even if a person is using nearly the same practices. From what I've read during Saicho’s time and for his successors this was the case and ‘Separate’ ordinations following the Dharmaguptaka rituals were conducted. This was in order to create harmony with the other traditions that felt their ceremonies were the only validating ones (and some politics). I think this was also moving away from ‘attachment to rites and rituals’. From what it seems Saicho was living essentially according to Vinaya and had trained in it previously. It seemed he moved away from the rite of the majority to confer monastic status because the majority wasn’t even following their own precepts- rather it was power consolidated and used to control the religious communities. I don’t think that is a rampant issue today as it may have been then. Maybe in other countries where the monastics can influence the government more strongly. Also I think interpretations of the Vinaya have grown a bit and are dealing with a different set of social norms and issues than in Saicho’s time.

So while the Brahmajala seems to work well as a stand alone ordination/tonsure for monastics (and priests) this seems unique to Japan. Every other country has opt’ed for a separate and unique ordination to make the distinction rather than the same ordination with a different announcement by the preceptor and aspiration by the receiver. This could be for the benefit of the lay community as well as the ordained.

While I am more familiar with what is done and being done in my own tradition or traditions I've crossed over with in the past...it would be great to see traditional texts and commentaries and learn from contemporary practitioners across other traditions.
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:19 am

coldwater wrote: I don’t see the Boddhisattva Vinaya (based on the Brahmajala) very different in effect from the ‘sravaka’ Vinaya.


I agree provided we understand that the Bodhisattva Vinaya entails celibacy. This was the case in times past in Japan, but now they generally just understand it as "not committing sexual misconduct". One defining characteristic of a śramaṇa is brahmacarya.

I believe the Brahma Net Sūtra was compiled based on long-standing śramaṇa conventions. Scholars generally believe the text was a product of China, though it could very well have come from Khotan or somewhere else in Central Asia with strong Mahāyāna culture. The text allows for self-ordination in the absence of a preceptor, which is quite generous and enables frontier lands to have śramaṇas without Vinaya ordinations. Given the conditions in fifth century China, a text like the Brahma Net Sūtra was rather useful.


In current times not many other traditions consider a Sramanera or Bhikshu ordination taken through a comprehensive Mahayana ordination as valid.


If Japanese Tendai insisted that bodhisattva precepts taken via the Brahma Net Sūtra entailed celibacy, as they did before, then it would be less of an issue. However, that is not the case and it won't change in the foreseeable future.


This was in order to create harmony with the other traditions that felt their ceremonies were the only validating ones (and some politics).


It was really just to carry out a bureaucratic necessity. In Japan at the time the legal ordinations were monopolized by a seemingly corrupt institution, which was in effect an extension of the state.


From what it seems Saicho was living essentially according to Vinaya and had trained in it previously.


Yes and no. There's more to the Vinaya than precepts actually, and even then few people actually follow them 100%, especially in East Asia where the cultural context was entirely different from that of India. For instance, karma proceedings and democratic procedures requires that the sangha vote on things. There's not supposed to be autocratic abbots and hierarchies. A bhikṣu does not have the authority to order another bhikṣu, yet you see this throughout history and the present day all the time.

If someone misbehaves, the punitive measures must be recognized and implemented by the community as a whole. It is supposed to be a community of equal men (females are subordinate to males in the Vinaya bear in mind), but we never see this in East Asia anywhere. Most monastic leadership in East Asia has historically either been autocratic or something akin to an appointed governorship from the court/state. This is completely contrary to what the Vinaya itself prescribes.

The Brahma Net Sūtra on the other hand is bettered suited to the East Asian cultural sphere (i.e., the Sinosphere) where democracy and egalitarianism were alien ideas.



Also I think interpretations of the Vinaya have grown a bit and are dealing with a different set of social norms and issues than in Saicho’s time.


In the 20th century Chinese Buddhist world there was a Vinaya revivalist movement. They now strictly distinguish between ordination levels, whereas in previous times it was really just a tonsure ceremony that made you a monk. Throughout must of East Asian history the Vinaya was seen as a kind of practice rather than an essential component to a monastic identity. There was a specific Vinaya school devoted to the study and practice of the Vinaya, but it largely seems people thought of it as a specific set of teachings that you could train in if you wanted to. It wasn't essential to study or implement the Vinaya. There were expectations laid upon you as a monk such as celibacy and sobriety, but precepts were secondary over the last thousand years, both in Japan and China.


So while the Brahmajala seems to work well as a stand alone ordination/tonsure for monastics (and priests) this seems unique to Japan.


Saichō got his ideas from the mainland. There is a quote from Daoxuan which hints at this:

    In present times many of those who do not know the teachings destroy and injure themselves saying, "These Vinaya proscriptions are a śrāvaka teaching. In our Mahāyāna we toss it away just like dirty soil. These precept teachings are just like yellow leaves, a wooden cow or a wooden horse deceiving a little child. They deceive you little śrāvaka!"


The Lotus Sūtra teaches we should avoid all contact with the Hīnayāna. If you take that to heart, it logically follows you should disregard
Hīnayāna precepts in favour of bodhisattva precepts.
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby coldwater » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:27 pm

I agree provided we understand that the Bodhisattva Vinaya entails celibacy. This was the case in times past in Japan, but now they generally just understand it as "not committing sexual misconduct". One defining characteristic of a śramaṇa is brahmacarya.


I believe if it is given/accepted with intention of being celibate/sramana then it is a sramana practice. If given/accepted with the intention of having a family, then householder practice. Considering that much of the Mahayana texts are visionary and based on personal relationships this makes sense to me.

To say it is only for sramana seems to go against the egalitarian spirit of the Bohdisattva ideal within the sutra itself. The third precept is celibacy for monastics- if it’s conferral and aspiration are mutually understood to be so. This approach has been used in the Comprehensive ordinations in the Tendai Vinaya school previously. While many of the vows are of that sutra are directed towards renunciates, some are specifically differentiated and directed towards householder. If it was intended that everyone who takes it is a monastic - why differentiate?

Currently in Japan some take it to mean celibacy/sramana practice. In Japan they avoid creating the ‘this is how you must practice these vows’ and it is up to individuals or temples what they do with it at the end of the day. Some temples are strict about no alcohol or sexual relations for anyone residing there for example. If they do not want to follow the community's standards then they cannot stay.



If Japanese Tendai insisted that bodhisattva precepts taken via the Brahma Net Sūtra entailed celibacy, as they did before, then it would be less of an issue. However, that is not the case and it won't change in the foreseeable future.


I am not sure if it would be. Everyone can be controversial to someone some where. I also don’t think Japanese Tendai should/would ever insist on that. There are over 20 denominations within Tendai, excluding the variations of each temple/teaching stream.

It also allows all sincere people to hold religious leadership roles with equal respect while finding the type of practice appropriate to their disposition – whether renunciate/priest-householder/lay. I think it is preferable to a system that is going to dictate their practice and understanding. This has created more roles for leadership that can speak to a culture not stepped in wandering renunciates and religionists. Of course excluding the other social developments in Japanese Buddhism that are an issue. From what I know the younger generation of Tendai priests in Japan are aware of the gap and in their own way finding ways to reform the tradition.

There is inevitably some weird power dynamics when people get weird with power, regardless of the setup. In the end the exclusion of sincere and skilled house-holding teachers being socially blocked from leadership is distressing to me. A community can know any teacher's intentions and practices based on behavior.

The rest of the world can choose to respect renunciates from another Buddhist tradition or not. This isn't unique to any one tradition. If someone thinks only their dharma, vows of renunciation, rituals, views, and all that sramana life entails are the only right ones...then it is hard for there to be much mutual support between practitioners. This attitude can be found anywhere. It doesn't take into account the many streams and developments of dharma through time and place. Personally, I wouldn't make it a point to seek out this type of unwelcoming interaction unless I just felt particularly gluttonous for challenges that day. (a 'peaceful practice' if you will.)

Saichō got his ideas from the mainland. There is a quote from Daoxuan which hints at this:

In present times many of those who do not know the teachings destroy and injure themselves saying, "These Vinaya proscriptions are a śrāvaka teaching. In our Mahāyāna we toss it away just like dirty soil. These precept teachings are just like yellow leaves, a wooden cow or a wooden horse deceiving a little child. They deceive you little śrāvaka!"


I wonder how much that quote/sentiment influenced Saicho? Or is this brought in just to show that some people in China had negative views of the Shravaka Vinaya? I don't really agree 100% with Saicho but I also don’t think he was around long enough to see his changes mature and guide them. Unfortunately he isn't alive to comment.

The Lotus Sūtra teaches we should avoid all contact with the Hīnayāna. If you take that to heart, it logically follows you should disregard
Hīnayāna precepts in favour of bodhisattva precepts.


I am not sure if your "you'ing/should’ing" was directed to a broad “you” or a specific “you”? I’ve found it helpful to avoid you'ing/should’ing when giving personal views. It isn’t always clear what is meant.

Where does it say that in the Lotus Sutra? I don't see anything that says avoid all contact or suggests disregard for any dharma door. Rather I see that Buddha only ever taught Bodhisattvas. The One-Vehicle is comprised of three and the three individually are not the One. All beings could not be brought into the Buddha-Way unless there were innumerable methods to do so. It implies to me a Buddha masters all dharmas, so they are free in the dharma, able to teach according to each person’s needs and gradually lead them to aspire to Buddhahood themselves.

So maybe we are reading different sutras or our eyes are just different? Among many example...“outwardly appearing as a Sravaka, inwardly accomplishing Bodhisattva deeds”.

If you don’t mind sharing (and maybe of interest to others?) if you could speak of your own relationship monastic practice, not just analysis of historical trends? How is your tradition/practice currently applying these teachings? For example does Saicho's teaching and the Lotus Sutra influence your practice much?- You seem to have an studied in it.

Based on some of your posts here and your blog you have many opinions I agree with or find interesting and you seem not be affiliated with any particular group. So not sure what terms are best to use...but which school, teacher's guidance or Vinaya/monastic texts do you primarily follow? Are you a sramanera, bhikshu, left-home bodhisattva (or some other word)? Did your ordination/teacher use a particular Vinaya lineage or text? What other texts/teachings have you found helpful in clarifying precept practice in contemporary times? Likewise what texts/teachings have been most helpful in practicing the monastic life with your co-practitioners?


My original post is about traditional text because I believe having some knowledge in all of them would be helpful in clarifying the principles and practice without getting fixed in a view. Not only historical texts but the contemporary texts, practices and discussion are useful as Buddhism is a living practice and needs to be relevant. Opportunities for the general discussion on Vinaya like this are helpful! :D
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:53 am

coldwater wrote:Currently in Japan some take it to mean celibacy/sramana practice.


I don't know of any prominent temple or organization in Japan that states the bodhisattva precept in question means celibacy.


Some temples are strict about no alcohol or sexual relations for anyone residing there for example. If they do not want to follow the community's standards then they cannot stay.


Yes and no. I know for a fact that at Eihei-ji people smuggle in contraband McDonalds through the back door. They just need to bring an extra bag or two to bribe the witnesses. Technically you're not supposed to eat meat within the temple, but this isn't really seen as important as the overwhelming majority of Japanese people eat meat and see no issues with it. The major temples have a vegetarian policy in effect largely because their ancient predecessors were strict about it and laid down rules against it.

In any case, even if the temple has a rule against alcohol or sex, you have only to step outside across the street to a pub.


It also allows all sincere people to hold religious leadership roles with equal respect while finding the type of practice appropriate to their disposition – whether renunciate/priest-householder/lay.


I'm personally not opposed to married priests. I used to think it was kind of degenerate, but it seems to work out okay for some folks and inevitably married life can end up in stinging celibacy anyway. :anjali:

I also have seen a similar system work amongst Tibetans.

Only problem is that living as a single celibate monk in Japan can be problematic as some communities insist you have a heir (i.e., a son) to take over your temple. Even if you're not interested in marriage, I often hear the community pushes it, but if you have no temple it is less of an issue. There are lifelong monastics in monasteries in Japan like Eihei-ji and so on.


From what I know the younger generation of Tendai priests in Japan are aware of the gap and in their own way finding ways to reform the tradition.


In my opinion it wasn't the married priesthood that crippled Japanese Buddhism, but other social forces at work: secularization, extreme rationalism taught in schools, consumerism and the western labour model (careers where time off for religious pursuits is intolerable).





The Lotus Sūtra teaches we should avoid all contact with the Hīnayāna. If you take that to heart, it logically follows you should disregard
Hīnayāna precepts in favour of bodhisattva precepts.


Where does it say that in the Lotus Sutra? I don't see anything that says avoid all contact or suggests disregard for any dharma door. Rather I see that Buddha only ever taught Bodhisattvas. The One-Vehicle is comprised of three and the three individually are not the One. All beings could not be brought into the Buddha-Way unless there were innumerable methods to do so. It implies to me a Buddha masters all dharmas, so they are free in the dharma, able to teach according to each person’s needs and gradually lead them to aspire to Buddhahood themselves.


See chapter 14:

    《妙法蓮華經》卷5〈14 安樂行品〉:「又不親近求聲聞比丘、比丘尼、優婆塞、優婆夷,亦不問訊。若於房中,若經行處,若在講堂中,不共住止。或時來者,隨宜說法,無所悕求。」(CBETA, T09, no. 262, p. 37, a28-b2)


    [Bodhisattvas] also do not go near those bhikṣu-s, bhikṣuni-s, upāsaka-s [laymen] and upāsikā-s [laywomen] who seek [to become] śrāvaka-s. They also do not salute them. If they be in a room, on a terraced walkway or in a lecture hall, they will not remain together with them [the aforementioned individuals]. If at some time they should come, the Dharma will be taught as appropriate without anything being desired.


Saichō cites Sanlun master Jizang's ideas with respect to this:

    三論宗吉藏師疏云。又不親近。求聲聞者。第五離小乘縁。始行菩薩。大照未圓。恐容染小法。故令音形宜隔。行止勿共。或時來者。隨宜説法。無所希求者。若有機感。即爲説法。不爲名利。無所希求也。


    Master Jizang of the Sanlun school in his commentary states, “'Also does not go near those seeking [to become] śrāvakas'. This is the fifth condition in departing from the Hīnayāna. Those bodhisattvas who are beginning their practice have yet to perfect the great illumination and there is the fear that they will be tainted by the lesser Dharma and thus sound and shape are appropriately separated. Their activities are not to be done together [with Hīnayāna proponents]. 'If at some time they should come, the Dharma will be taught as appropriate without anything be desired.' If there is a response to a capacity [for the higher teaching], then one teaches the Dharma, not for name and profit, which is not having anything desired.”



As a bodhisattva aspirant one is supposed to avoid the Hīnayāna, so logically the śrāvaka Vinaya is likewise to be avoided in favour of bodhisattva precepts.

For further details see my article here:

https://sites.google.com/site/dharmadep ... hismvinaya


If you don’t mind sharing (and maybe of interest to others?) if you could speak of your own relationship monastic practice, not just analysis of historical trends? How is your tradition/practice currently applying these teachings? For example does Saicho's teaching and the Lotus Sutra influence your practice much?- You seem to have an studied in it.


I've studied Saichō, the Vinaya literature and bodhisattva precepts in some detail. I translated two books on the Vinaya plus another one on bodhisattva precepts for a Chinese organization (when they'll be published I don't know). I've also seen how such things are implemented in Japan, Taiwan, Nepal and India (Tibetan Buddhism), and to some extent amongst Theravada communities as well.

At the moment I think monasticism anywhere will have problems because humans are what they are. Buddhism and robed monks alike are subject to corrupting influences. There is the old saying, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Highly organized and capital intensive monasticism breeds corruption on many levels.

Hence why I think it is better to have decentralized models where power is not concentrated anywhere. If I suddenly had several hundred or several thousand monks under me and many more people whose careers and well-being depended on me, I could easily turn towards opportunism. I might calculate that ignoring severe transgressions is actually better than initiating punitive measures which the public would become aware of.

That being said, a few bad judges does not mean you scrap the whole legal system. There needs to be rules and expectations, though Vinaya fundamentalism doesn't help.

I think if you want to know what a śramaṇa basically is, you can compare Buddhism, Jainism and related śramaṇa-oriented traditions to see what the common expectations were: celibacy, non-violence, morality, gentleness, meditation, contemplation, renunciation from worldly matters, etc. Do you need punitive measures to ensure people are kept in check? Sure, but that probably needs to be done at a community level. If someone is a homeless beggar, you can't really force him to "disrobe". The most you can do is tell him to leave, in which case he can go elsewhere or continue living as a homeless beggar with or without your consent.

Personally, I became a celibate renunciate because I wanted to devote myself full-time to meditation, study, travel and service where appropriate (I'm not going to slave away for some organization with the hope it generates merit). Will it be for the rest of my life? Who knows. I'm not interested in relationships or career, so being a monk is rather optimal given my present circumstances and aspirations.

As far as monasticism goes, I'm not really part of a monastery. A temple, sure, with a few monks, but that's not organized monasticism with a strict hierarchy in place. At the moment I'm more of a roaming monk. I'm in Singapore now, but later next month I'll probably head back to India and then to Ladakh for a few months of peace and quiet before having to exit India again. Maybe go to Nepal to get a new visa for India and then come May go with some devotees on a trip to Korea. Next summer I might do Sanskrit studies in Kathmandu. In the meanwhile I do my translation work for a Buddhist organization which gets me a small income and pays for my coffee addiction.

That's my life at the moment. :sage:



Based on some of your posts here and your blog you have many opinions I agree with or find interesting and you seem not be affiliated with any particular group. So not sure what terms are best to use...but which school, teacher's guidance or Vinaya/monastic texts do you primarily follow?


My teacher is Japanese, but he ordained as a Theravada bhikkhu in Sri Lanka many years ago. That being said he's a bit unorthodox, but realistic. Most of the precepts are just common sense, he likes to say.

But yes I'm a bhikṣu by ordination. I got the bhikṣu robes. I don't wear lay clothes.

As far as texts go, I follow what the Buddha taught and what the ancient Indian śramaṇa traditions expected. The Vinaya texts are largely a product of later times and reflect institutionalized Buddhism more than the śramaṇa tradition like how to tax your peasants or blindfold laypeople who accept money on your behalf which is to be deposited in a secret location. A lot of the Vinaya is irrelevant to me personally and moreover isn't really followed in much of the Buddhist world. Vinaya fundamentalists who point fingers at monks who eat past noon still have to concede that when they fly or get in a car they're getting into a vehicle which is a prohibited act (unless they're ill).

The Vinaya is less about what the book says and more about what your community expects of you. The punitive measures are likewise decided not by the book, but by the powers that be.
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby cdpatton » Sat Aug 03, 2013 1:41 am

Will wrote:Prebish's Buddhist Monastic Discipline is available at Scribd.


There is also Karma Lekshe Tsomo's _Sisters in Solitude_, which seems to be taking a cue from Prebish's book, but writing for the bhiksuni's situation. She compares the Chinese Dharmaguptaka Bhiksuni Pratimoksa with the Tibetan Mulasarvastivada. Written more for contemporary issues.
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Re: Vinaya Texts

Postby coldwater » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:48 am

Oh thank you- Sisters in Solitude I have seen and will definitely pick up. Having alternate texts, oral traditions, teachers and practices helps provide a more stereoscopic view as well as placing changes in a cultural/historical context- I believe.

I recently met with an Abbot from a Chung Tai branch to discuss vinaya and his attitude was similar to my own which is approaching it by spirit and principle and adapting the 'written' aspect with consideration and as a community. I haven't met anyone ordained who has spent time in the dharma who sees it as purely legalese but I understand this opinion is out there and in practice. Heard stories. On the other hand I have met lay people who have not lived in monastic communities who will read or understand vinaya(and renunciate) practice as something written in stone or totally meaningless. I just attribute this to the dharma being a baby in the West and the slow process of it becoming understood in Western culture, something the Abbot I met with touched on as well.

Ven.Indrajala-

Mudo-ji and Sekizan-zen'in. Enami Kakusho and Uehara Gyosho. Both in Tendai, both prominent practitioners. If a priest stays at the temple celibacy and sobriety are mandatory. If they decide they want to get married/have a relationship they have to move out. All the kaihogyo monks are avowed to celibacy and sobriety. Some, not prominent. Prominent isn't always defining or authenticating.

In any case, even if the temple has a rule against alcohol or sex, you have only to step outside across the street to a pub.


That is an option for anyone, in any situation, anywhere, isn't it? Temples do have policies. Whether Eiheiji, as you cite, continues to allow it or not I am not really concerned about....that is up to them as a community. Other temples will kick out a monk that doesn't reform himself. I am addressing the broader belief that -no one/temple in Japan- practices celibacy and sobriety as as a standard.


Of course excluding the other social developments in Japanese Buddhism that are an issue. From what I know the younger generation of Tendai priests in Japan are aware of the gap and in their own way finding ways to reform the tradition.


In my opinion it wasn't the married priesthood that crippled Japanese Buddhism, but other social forces at work: secularization, extreme rationalism taught in schools, consumerism and the western labour model (careers where time off for religious pursuits is intolerable).


Yes, we are on the same page.

--
While I disagree with your practice of the Lotus Sutra- by extracting one verse from Ch.14 as authoratative and disregarding the rest of the sutra in that reading - if that approach is helping your practice now then great. We don't see it the same way but as that very sutra suggests everyone will see what is appropriate to them at the time.

Extracting it as a stand alone legalese that is exclusionary is, in my opinion, completely opposite to the style of rest of the sutra as well as that chapter. Bringing the Lotus Sutra into comparing Vinaya texts is interesting and if you'd like to discuss the Lotus Sutra as rejecting practices maybe we could do that in another thread.

Regarding Saicho/Sanlun - the operative word is seeking to become a shravaka. Stopping point- shravaka. This doesn't mean excluding shravaka practice if doing so would benefit others and further Mahayana goals. I think I said before, I do not follow all/agree with all of Saicho's views and believe it wasn't brought into full maturity. Daoxuan makes some good pro-vinaya statements as well when combining them with Bodhisattva practice. Also it is fun to transfer history onto modern times for me it is more useful to look at what is happening now and how that sits ethically than contrasting it with the past as a judge for it. I am assuming, you perceive shravaka practice as an inherently Hinayana practice? Consider the other view that any practice can Hinayana or Mahayana- that it is entirely dependent on the person's mind using the practice?

A bodhisattva vows to master all dharmas. Shravaka practice is not inherently Hinayana and can be used to transform people who will be transformed by it. That might be oh .01% of the population but if that population needs it for transformation then it should be learned. Since dharmas are countless and living beings numberless...it is up to each individual bodhisattva-practitioner what methods they wish to master in a lifetime and what populations they will be able to connect with.

How is your tradition/practice currently applying these teachings? For example does Saicho's teaching and the Lotus Sutra influence your practice much?- You seem to have an studied in it.


I've studied Saichō, the Vinaya literature and bodhisattva precepts in some detail. I translated two books on the Vinaya plus another one on bodhisattva precepts for a Chinese organization (when they'll be published I don't know). I've also seen how such things are implemented in Japan, Taiwan, Nepal and India (Tibetan Buddhism), and to some extent amongst Theravada communities as well.


That being said, a few bad judges does not mean you scrap the whole legal system. There needs to be rules and expectations, though Vinaya fundamentalism doesn't help.


I agree. I am not sure who is pro-"vinaya fundamentalism" though. Even in my two years in Nepal and India I rarely found such from monastics. I did see the various forms of corruption of course within monasteries but it wasn't due to vinaya fundamentalism. More to greed, anger and ignorance. No one ever said monasteries were outside of samsara, so no fantasy was crushed for me personally. Institutions can be useful in the dharma but they are not the dharma. I also left that tradition because of the highly organizational/more=success slant and the inconsistencies between 'xyz INC.' and their relationship to monastics. While wanting to simply be a Buddhist monk with a preferred flavor of practice is an ideal- doing so in the context of a 'dharma center' is nearly impossible. Better to leave it than be indebted to a .Inc. For me better to join a monastery divorced of institutional politics and organizational agendas.

I think if you want to know what a śramaṇa basically is, you can compare Buddhism, Jainism and related śramaṇa-oriented traditions to see what the common expectations were: celibacy, non-violence, morality, gentleness, meditation, contemplation, renunciation from worldly matters, etc. Do you need punitive measures to ensure people are kept in check? Sure, but that probably needs to be done at a community level. If someone is a homeless beggar, you can't really force him to "disrobe". The most you can do is tell him to leave, in which case he can go elsewhere or continue living as a homeless beggar with or without your consent.


We seem to have the same idea of sramana. Though I think studying the vinaya of different schools and always asking questions of those with years of practice- and then contemplating those answers and developing wisdom is important in the application of the those ideas. I don't think this approach of 'rejecting shravakas' is really helpful. If we end up disagreeing with someone we can just label them as such as then avoid ever investigating the question or point of view. That leads to an exclusionary practice and group. Either extreme of blindly disregarding the practice and history of those before us or blindly accepting it as the truth doesn't help anyone. If sramana is an alive tradition and vinaya text is a written down transmission of how people regulated themselves then it makes sense to me to contemplate it, apply wisdom and learn from it- making it flexible and applicable as appropriate and within the context of one's community/time/place. In my opinion vinaya isn't definitive of a sramana- but a tool that if investigated may be helpful at times.

Great you can travel and study so much. Thank you for sharing that. I know another monk from about 8 years ago who has a few different types of robes and was spending time between a Korea, North India and Thailand and had relationships with three different teachers and monasteries. He was leading short-ish retreats in India to foreigners (by donation) to fund the transportation. Haven't kept up with him..but the itinerant path continues it always with some it seem :)

Some Lotus Sutra anti-establishment talk:
"Having spoken thus, the follower should again further prostrate himself before all the buddhas and the bodhisattvas, and should think of the meaning of [the sutras of] Great Extent. During a day or three times seven days, whether he be a monk or a layman, he has no need of a preceptor nor does he need to employ any teacher; even without [attending the ceremony of] the jnapti-karman, because of the power [coming] from his receiving and keeping, reading and reciting the Great-vehicle sutras and because of the works which the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue helps and inspires him to do--they are in fact the eyes of the Righteous Law of the buddhas in all directions--he will be able, through this Law, to perform by himself the five kinds of Law-bodies: precepts, meditation, wisdom, emancipation, and knowledge of emancipation. All the buddhas, the tathagatas, have been born of this Law and have received the prediction [of their enlightenment] in the Great-vehicle sutras. Therefore, O wise man! Suppose that a shravaka breaks the threefold refuge, the five precepts, and the eight precepts, the precepts of bhikshus, of bhikshunis, of shramaneras, of shramanerikas, and of shikshamanas and their dignified behavior, and [also suppose] that because of his foolishness, evil, and bad and false mind he infringes many precepts and the rules of dignified behavior. If he desires to rid himself of and destroy these errors, to become a bhikshu again and to fulfill the laws of monks, he must diligently read the sutras of Great Extent, considering the profound Law of the Void of the first principle, and must bring this wisdom of the Void to his heart; know that in each one of his thoughts such a one will [gradually] end the defilement of all his longstanding sins without any remainder--this is called one who is perfect in the laws and the precepts of monks and fulfills their dignified behavior. Such a one will be served by all gods and men."
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