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.
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:
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.
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.