JKhedrup wrote:Yes especially the Western Bhikkhus in what is known as the Ajahn Chah tradition, are very strict about these types of vows.
I've come to think it isn't really the best system. I don't think it ever was historically. However, this sort of approach to precepts and discipline is almost mainstream in western Theravada it seems. Over at Dhammawheel I noticed how much hostility I received when I suggested monks might as well eat after noon if they've got a cook or people are willing to take them out for dinner (or, heaven forbid, they cook for themselves and have a fridge full of food).
Nevertheless, most monks I know of any stripe or color eat after noon, and it probably makes them more valuable members of their community to be able to sit down and have dinner with people and be their down-to-earth friend.
The type of Westerner who tends to be attracted to the Forest Tradition seeks as close to the "original teaching of Buddha and lifestyle of the Sangha" as possible.
The problem is they make it look like ALL monks are or should be behaving like this. It is quite divorced from the reality as we know.
The Theravada that is largely known in the west is austere and scholarly, but on the ground in Asia it is often a lot of magic and relaxed rules, especially in Thailand. These are seen as degenerate specimens of Buddhism, perhaps, but nevertheless they make up the majority of monks probably.
So the Vinaya fundamentalists get to think of themselves as the righteous minority. The final pillar of True Buddhadharma in this dark age of ours.
That's a nice narrative, but it ignores the fact it has always been like this. The reason we have so much Vinaya literature and regulations is because historically people haven't behaved like angels, and that's fine in my opinion. The firmest and tallest of trees will fall in the windstorm, yet the grass bends and is never destroyed.
Contrary to what they might think, the Vinaya fundamentalists might actually be hurting their own long-term prospects as they become increasingly alienated from the flawed masses of common people who pay the rent and bring the bacon to the monastery, so to speak.
Isn't it odd how despite all the Vinaya revivalism in Asia, a lot of these countries have statistically fewer and fewer people identifying as Buddhist? Meanwhile the numbers of monks falls rapidly...
Nuns are a different matter of course.