How do we define 'monk' if we don't simply use the Vinaya'?
- A monk who lives in a monastery
- A monk who lives outside of monastic life in seclusion or as a wanderer
- A monk who lives outside of a monastery and is active in the community where he lives
- A monk according to the Vinaya
- A monk (priest?) according to Bodhisattva vows but not Vinaya
- A monk ordained according to a modern interpretation and summation of Vinaya
- A monk ordained on the internet who selects 'Buddhist' from the options menu
- A monk who exercises his legal right to call himself a monk, a priest or a reverend or whatever title he chooses
- A monk who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of enlightenment and accepts the 3 Jewels as his Refuge and is guided by the 4NT & 8FP, and seeks to eradicate desires which conflict with that aim, and takes vows to do that.
Then we have a huge list of expectations, as mentioned already, in terms of moral discipline, assessing both vows and behaviour.
Sometimes we may fall into the trap of saying that someone isn't a worthy monk becuase they fail in this or that respect.
I'm sure there are some wonderful exemplars of perfect adherence to all of the Vinaya, but for most wasn't it always aspirational, a benchmark of perfection in a monk, rather than their reality as imperfect humans?
I'm sure there are some ancient and very fixed lists of attributes and vows which defines a bhikkhu, but I wonder how many today adhere to the letter of them, or simply do their best to adhere to the spirit.
I have to admit that I used to see a shaven head and robes and think this person must have attained something precious, or possess special qualities, or have great devotion. Nowadays, ordained or lay, I assume nothing and simply accord the respect that their order expects as long as I know what that is, and it is in accordance with my own vows and practices.
That's a really long-winded way of saying I haven't a clue!! LOL