State of Japanese Buddhism

Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Mr. G » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:19 pm

At the risk of going slightly off-topic, was Honen celibate? Was celibacy a standard for ordained Tendai monks during the Kamakura period?
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Tatsuo » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:58 pm

Yes - Shinran was the first Tendai monk, who officially wasn't celibate. Until the Meiji Period (beginning 1868) monks of all schools except for Jodo Shinshu were celibate (at least formally). The Meiji government changed that in the curse of their anti-Buddhist politics.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:40 am

mr. gordo wrote:Was celibacy a standard for ordained Tendai monks during the Kamakura period?


Yes.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:11 am

Thanks to the mods for splitting the thread (my request). I thought this was growing into a good discussion of the current state of Japanese Buddhism, which I am eager to know more about.

I have a few questions.

When exactly did most major traditions drop the Vinaya? Have any followed it more or less consistently to the present? I do not mean recent (post Meiji) introductions, but I'd be happy to hear about those as well.

Question for Jikan perhaps: It seems Tendai outside of Japan is really quite different on this score. How did that develop?

Could any of you recommend a good book or two on the history of Japanese Buddhism, perhaps one or two for an overview and one on post Meiji developments? Were there major changes during the Tokugawa as well?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Dodatsu » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:27 am

Su DongPo wrote:Thanks to the mods for splitting the thread (my request). I thought this was growing into a good discussion of the current state of Japanese Buddhism, which I am eager to know more about.

I have a few questions.

When exactly did most major traditions drop the Vinaya? Have any followed it more or less consistently to the present? I do not mean recent (post Meiji) introductions, but I'd be happy to hear about those as well.

Question for Jikan perhaps: It seems Tendai outside of Japan is really quite different on this score. How did that develop?

Could any of you recommend a good book or two on the history of Japanese Buddhism, perhaps one or two for an overview and one on post Meiji developments? Were there major changes during the Tokugawa as well?

Thanks in advance.


Hi,
actually Dengyo Daishi Saicho, the Founder of Japanese Tendai, dropped off the 250 Vinaya vows for Bhikkhus and kept to the 10 Major and 48 Minor Bodhisattva precepts. He did so as he found it contradictory for Mahayana Bodhisattvas to adhere to "Hinayana" precepts (to him, the 250 Pratimoksha [sorry for the wrong spelling] brought in by Jian Zhen (Ganjin) were Hinayana precepts). Thus he initiated the building of a separate Precept Platform to be built at Enryakuji on Mt Hiei to specifically transmit the Bodhisattva precepts. His wish was not acceded to until 7 days after his death. From then on, Tendai monks only kept the Bodhisattva precepts and not the 250 Bhikkhu precepts. Most of the Founders of the Kamakura Traditions trained or studied at one time or another on Mt Hiei, so all of them also never received the Bhikkhu precepts.
Honen Shonin was a keeper of the Bodhisattva precepts, and he even transmitted it to the members of royalty and noble families. However, he did not list the precepts as a requirement to attain birth in the Pure Land. Many monks or priests during that period had already started breaking off the rule of celibacy (it was an "open secret" that many knew). Shinran Shonin saw through that and was the first to openly get married and have a family. That is why during the start of the Edo period, rules of celibacy for priests did not extend to "traditions which had already allowed marriage, (ie Jodo Shin and Shugendo)". A book by Paul Jaffe called "Neither Monk or Layman" (http://books.google.com/books?id=VBnQmvwYlnAC&lpg=PP1&dq=neither%20monk%20nor%20layman&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false) dwells into the subject of a married Buddhist clergy in Japan, which is unique compared to other Buddhist traditions in other Buddhist countries.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:01 am

Hi Dodatsu,

I really am new to this topic. I don't know any of the figures you mention, although you do identify Dengyo Daishi Saicho as the founder of Tendai.

I find it hard to believe that this change in the Vinaya was sudden, across traditions, and uniform over the centuries. Was it, or are you referring only to Tendai?

Thanks for the google book link. I will look at it later.

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rabbit. It's a big holiday here, and was so in Japan until 1873 when the Meiji reformers switched the calendar by decree. Maybe that's how things happen in Japan. Fascinating, from an impartial point of view, but I suspect this to be a truism as well. I find I cringe when I hear "Japanese think" or "Chinese do not" or "Americans are always" -- the generalizations are handy and inevitable but the nuances and variations in life are where we find all the fun stuff.

Best wishes,
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Dodatsu » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:23 am

For Saicho's bibliography, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saich%C5%8D

Not only Tendai, but since the founders of other Japanese Buddhist traditions that were founded during the Kamakura period like Honen (Jodo 淨土宗), Eisai (Rinzai Zen 臨濟禪宗), Shinran (Jodo Shin 淨土真宗), Dogen (Soto Zen 曹洞禪宗), Nichiren 日蓮宗 and Ippen (Ji 時宗) were all ordained and studied under Tendai, they all did not receive the Pratimoksha Precepts for Bhikkhus. The older Nara schools like Kegon 華嚴宗, Ritsu 律宗, Hosso 法相宗 as well as Shingon 真言宗 probably did, but presently i do not think that they also upkeep the Pratimoksha Precepts either. You will have to ask Rev Eijo about the present status of Shingon clerics regarding the Pratimoksha Precepts.
Following the collapse of the Ming Dynasty, a "new" style of Zen - Obaku Zen 黃檗禪宗 was introduced directly from China to Japan during the early Edo period. Obaku Zen monks would have kept the Pratimoksha Precepts since they were separated from Rinzai. But i think after Meiji, celibacy has been left to the individual's choice, and is no longer controlled by the government nor the various Head Temples.

在此也恭祝您 新年快樂 法喜充滿!I'm also Chinese, and back in Singapore where i hail from to celebrate it with family.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:37 am

Su DongPo wrote:I find it hard to believe that this change in the Vinaya was sudden, across traditions, and uniform over the centuries. Was it, or are you referring only to Tendai?


Believe it or not, Saicho got the idea from China where during the Tang Dynasty there were many people advocating that the Vinaya be abandoned.

Take for example Daoxuan's remarks here:

《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,"The 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!"


In Daoxuan's writings he mentions these kind of individuals numerous times. There were also temples which raised cats for hunting mice and engaged in slave trade. Slavery in itself was an unquestioned institution at the time and there were slaves that legally belonged to the monastic institution, but the Vinaya prohibits monks from buying and selling slaves. Again, having slaves is fine if they are donated to the monastery, but buying and selling them is inappropriate. There was a lot of corruption at the time and alternative ideas about precepts and Vinaya. Saicho was merely exposed to these ideas and drew his own conclusions that a monk need not take the śrāvaka precepts.

One somewhat notable school of Chinese Buddhism, which is largely unknown outside of scholarly circles, was the Sanjie-jiao 三階教. They formally advocated abandoning the precepts (捨戒) and formulated suitable doctrines and citations to justify this. It was actually a fairly large Buddhist group in the Tang Dynasty, but they eventually angered the state and were erased from history.

The point here is that Saicho got his ideas from China where at the time some monks were being ordained without the Vinaya and some were abandoning it.

Modern Chinese Buddhists are largely unaware of this. They also don't know that the Japanese idea of "Prajna Soup" 般若湯, which refers to liquor, came from Song Dynasty era monasteries who circumvented the rules by giving new names to banned substances. I don't recall them off the top of my head, but they also had clever names for chicken and meats.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:24 am

My expression of disbelief was not a challenge but of true surprise. Still, have there not been those who periodically questioned the abandonment of the Vinaya?

Thanks for the posts and links. I am leaving the house and won't be much online for the next day or two.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Dodatsu » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:04 am

Su DongPo wrote:My expression of disbelief was not a challenge but of true surprise. Still, have there not been those who periodically questioned the abandonment of the Vinaya?

Thanks for the posts and links. I am leaving the house and won't be much online for the next day or two.


There were, during the Kamakura period there was a resurgence of the Ritsu School 律宗 in Japan that advocated the transmission and adherence of the Vinaya. But somehow later after much conflict and turmoil, as well as growing popularity of the Kamakura New Schools 鎌倉新佛教 amongst the populance,the Ritsu school's popularity eventually died out. Within certain Kamakura Schools there was attention given to a whole new set of Vinaya (although not the Pratimoksha Precepts for Bhikkhus) such as Pure Land Vinaya 淨土律 in Jodo Shu and Hokke Vinaya 法華律 in Nichiren Shu, as well as periodical resurgence of Vinaya in Tendai and Shingon. But remember, much of the Vinaya mentioned here is not referred to as the Bhikkhu Vinaya but rather, the Bodhisattva Precepts.
Even during the early years of Meiji, as pointed out in Paul Jaffe's book whose link i gave in an earlier post, there were movements within Zen, Jodo and other schools that challenged and even outlawed non-celibacy in their respective Schools etc well into the 1890s. I can't speak for these schools as i am from Jodo Shin and we've always been non-celibate right from the start.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:44 am

Su DongPo wrote:Could any of you recommend a good book or two on the history of Japanese Buddhism, perhaps one or two for an overview and one on post Meiji developments? Were there major changes during the Tokugawa as well?

I'd recommend the books (two volumes) "Foundation of Japanese Buddhism" by Daigan and Alicia Matsunaga. It's a pretty good overview of Japanese Buddhism from it's introduction to Japan (552) until Kamakura period/early Muromachi period (late 14th century).
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Astus » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:52 am

I don't know exactly when Rinzai Zen left the Pratimoksha, but it has nothing to do with Eisai whose lineage did not live long and there were a 23 other Zen lineages established later but only one survived after the 19th century. The surviving lineage is of course that of Hakuin, who can be traced back to Nanpo Shomyo (南浦紹明, 1235ー1308)) who studied under Lanxi Daolong (蘭溪道隆) in Japan but later went to China and (allegedly) was transmitted by Xutang Zhiyu (虚堂智愚). As he had two Chinese masters I assume he received the threefold ordination (full precepts) and not just the bodhisattva one.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:04 pm

Dengyo Daishi's decision on the precepts may also have been, to some extent, a political one. He had to convince the state to give him land for an ordination platform and a space in which his disciples could set about the work of protecting the nation through Dharma practice. The bodhisattva precepts made his proposal exclusive, that is, made it clear that he had something specific and distinct to offer the state that made a new space necessary. This is how he secured Mt. Hiei for his lineage. This is how it has been explained to me. Paul Groner has some stuff on this.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:52 am

Dodatsu wrote:There were, during the Kamakura period there was a resurgence of the Ritsu School 律宗 in Japan that advocated the transmission and adherence of the Vinaya. But somehow later after much conflict and turmoil, as well as growing popularity of the Kamakura New Schools 鎌倉新佛教 amongst the populance,the Ritsu school's popularity eventually died out. Within certain Kamakura Schools there was attention given to a whole new set of Vinaya (although not the Pratimoksha Precepts for Bhikkhus) such as Pure Land Vinaya 淨土律 in Jodo Shu and Hokke Vinaya 法華律 in Nichiren Shu, as well as periodical resurgence of Vinaya in Tendai and Shingon.


Thanks for this overview. I could surf the net and read Wikipedia, but if you folks don't mind, I like putting questions to those of you who have studied Japanese Buddhism for some time.

I take it from this and from this and a few other posts that the Kamakura period was a time of great transition for the whole of Japanese Buddhism. Is that so? Why so? My knowledge of Japanese history is skimpy, especially for events prior to the Tokugawa.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:55 am

Tatsuo wrote:
Su DongPo wrote:Could any of you recommend a good book or two on the history of Japanese Buddhism, perhaps one or two for an overview and one on post Meiji developments? Were there major changes during the Tokugawa as well?

I'd recommend the books (two volumes) "Foundation of Japanese Buddhism" by Daigan and Alicia Matsunaga. It's a pretty good overview of Japanese Buddhism from it's introduction to Japan (552) until Kamakura period/early Muromachi period (late 14th century).


Thanks for the book recommendation. Neither volume is in our library, but both are pretty widely available from 2nd hand shops online. I've ordered them this morning.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:03 am

Jikan wrote: Paul Groner has some stuff on this.


Do you mean this book?:

Groner, Paul. Saicho: The Establishment of the Japanese Tendai School (U Hawaii, 2000)

Or is this something else/better?
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:36 am

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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:42 am

I saw a story or two about Japanese Zen rap last year. It's not my thing, but isn't so much.

Neither is the Buddhist tavern featured in this story. :thinking:
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Su DongPo » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:57 am

I am just trying to get my head around Japanese Buddhism. I hope I am not just splitting hairs. So here goes:

How is a Japanese monk a monk if he is not celibate? If monastics [sic] are free to marry are then rightly called monks/nuns? Is this a case of an anachronistic use of translation & diction? Is that why we often call Japanese monastics priests instead of monks?

If one is free to run a temple as a business, to charge for services, to drink, buy and sell alcohol, to engage freely in all manner of sexuality and sensual pleasure, then of what exactly does Japanese Dharma practice consist?

Could this have something to do with why most Japanese are turned off by Buddhism and by religion in general?

Again, I don't mean to be inflammatory. I am only trying to figure out Japanese Buddhism. My first encounter with a Japanese priest/monk occurred in Sado Island in 1984. He called himself the "Emperor of Alcohol" and showed me and some friends photos of his drinking parties. His temple was quite lovely though.
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Re: State of Japanese Buddhism

Postby Tatsuo » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:57 am

Indeed - because Japanese don't hold the vinaya precepts, they are mostly considered priests instead of monks. But there are ascetic monks, who are not married (and I am pretty sure that they also don't drink alcohol), like the monks working and living in Jōdo-in on Hieizan for 12 years without leaving the temple. Japanese monastics do various kinds of dharma practice - from giving talks to meditation - it depends on which kind of temple a monastic works in.
Maybe you're right, that many Japanese think, that traditional forms of Japanese Buddhism (the new interpretations of Japanese Buddhism are not affected) are not very inspiring any more. But I wouldn't say, that Japanese are turned off by religion in total (look at the rise of so-called new religions or the partition in religious festivals throughout the year). And I've never seen a reliable survey about Buddhism/religion being dismissed by the Japanese.
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