Malcolm wrote:The other factor too is that in Tibet, sngags pas are not really considered "lay" in the sense understood here in the West. They have undergone a kind of ordination, They have vows that are distinct from monastic vows, they also have garb to wear, etc. They are educated, which sets them apart from the average person and so on.
In a similar way perhaps, in East Asia monkhood developed to become very flexible and adaptable. They dropped or didn't pay much attention to the Vinaya, often foregoing bhikṣu ordinations altogether in favor of bodhisattva precept ordinations and/or just getting the tonsure. The ordination model based on the Brahma Net Sūtra
, which existed in both Japan and China (more so in the former), really allows for a great deal of flexibility. Monks could grow their own food or earn money through various jobs to support themselves. There's also no uniform or team colours, so if you need to conceal yourself or not stand out, that's perfectly acceptable, whereas with the Vinaya it is not.
This is perhaps best revealed in the Chan farming communes. Technically according to the Vinaya they were breaking their precepts, but they nevertheless survived the Buddhist purge of 845 and the collapse of the Tang dynasty and the ensuing chaos, whereas the Vinaya-based traditions took a critical hit.
Mighty trees will collapse in wind storms, whereas the grass just bends and is never uprooted.
In my research I've concluded that Buddhism can and actually did survive without a proper Vinaya system in place:http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2013/06/ ... inaya.html
In East Asia there was monasticism, sure, but it was quite different from the prescribed Indian model. Not quite "lay" but not really in line with the Vinaya either.