Conventions contrary to scripture.

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Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Jnana » Thu May 19, 2011 4:40 am

Huseng wrote:The customs one learns from seniors in the tradition are generally followed even if they are contrary to scripture.

I don't know of any authentic Buddhist tradition which teaches customs that are contrary to scripture.

All the best,

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Re: Whose Buddhism is Truest?

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 10:23 am

Jñāna wrote:
Huseng wrote:The customs one learns from seniors in the tradition are generally followed even if they are contrary to scripture.

I don't know of any authentic Buddhist tradition which teaches customs that are contrary to scripture.

All the best,

Geoff


How about eating dinner and calling it a medicine meal?

How about drinking liquor and calling it "prajñā soup"? The Japanese got this idea from China during the Song Dynasty.

Or not giving Bodhisattva precepts when somebody asks for them, and instead telling them to wait for some future date when they'll get around to scheduling it? The East Asian Bodhisattva scripture, the Brahma Net Sūtra 梵網經, says the preceptor is obliged to transmit the precepts to anyone who asks.

Or how about accepting gold watches despite having regulations prohibiting touching gold?

These are all common customs which are passed down through generations that are contrary to scripture.
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Re: Whose Buddhism is Truest?

Postby Seishin » Thu May 19, 2011 10:46 am

Amulets have become very popular in Thailand.
Last edited by Seishin on Thu May 19, 2011 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Whose Buddhism is Truest?

Postby Jnana » Thu May 19, 2011 10:59 am

Huseng wrote:How about eating dinner and calling it a medicine meal?

How about drinking liquor and calling it "prajñā soup"? The Japanese got this idea from China during the Song Dynasty.

Or how about accepting gold watches despite having regulations prohibiting touching gold?

Ah, yes. Monks and nuns searching for loopholes in vinaya rules is about as old as Buddhism itself. Most of the Chinese monastics that I know follow the vinaya pretty closely. The Japanese no longer have any fully ordained monastics, which is one reason why I don't pay much attention to modern Japanese Buddhism.

Huseng wrote:Or not giving Bodhisattva precepts when somebody asks for them, and instead telling them to wait for some future date when they'll get around to scheduling it? The East Asian Bodhisattva scripture, the Brahma Net Sūtra 梵網經, says the preceptor is obliged to transmit the precepts to anyone who asks.

Isn't this just a matter of practicality?

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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 3:58 pm

Topic split away from mother thread because of our off-topic discussion. Let's continue it here. :smile:
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Re: Whose Buddhism is Truest?

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 4:04 pm

Jñāna wrote:Ah, yes. Monks and nuns searching for loopholes in vinaya rules is about as old as Buddhism itself. Most of the Chinese monastics that I know follow the vinaya pretty closely. The Japanese no longer have any fully ordained monastics, which is one reason why I don't pay much attention to modern Japanese Buddhism.


Right. That's what I mean -- social conventions of one's time takes precedence over scripture. If everyone else is doing it, then it is generally perceived of as okay even if the scriptures clearly say otherwise.

Japan is a good example of this where a lot of conventions, even those laid down by the founders, are ignored and nobody objects because that's just the way everyone behaves now. The younger generation see that the older generation do it that way and carry on with it.

The same happens elsewhere, too.



Huseng wrote:Or not giving Bodhisattva precepts when somebody asks for them, and instead telling them to wait for some future date when they'll get around to scheduling it? The East Asian Bodhisattva scripture, the Brahma Net Sūtra 梵網經, says the preceptor is obliged to transmit the precepts to anyone who asks.


Isn't this just a matter of practicality?


It says you have to provide the precepts to anyone who asks. There is no clause saying you can defer it to some unspecified future time.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Astus » Thu May 19, 2011 4:33 pm

S. Dhammika's book Broken Buddha (PDF) addresses this issue in detail within the Theravada tradition.

There are precepts against magic and all sorts of rituals but at the same time it is found everywhere in Buddhism. There are precepts against music, dancing, working and games while monks may do all that in East Asia.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 19, 2011 4:44 pm

Astus wrote:S. Dhammika's book Broken Buddha (PDF) addresses this issue in detail within the Theravada tradition.

There are precepts against magic and all sorts of rituals but at the same time it is found everywhere in Buddhism. There are precepts against music, dancing, working and games while monks may do all that in East Asia.



Mahāyāna is not bound by Hināyāna rules.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 4:45 pm

Astus wrote:S. Dhammika's book Broken Buddha (PDF) addresses this issue in detail within the Theravada tradition.

There are precepts against magic and all sorts of rituals but at the same time it is found everywhere in Buddhism. There are precepts against music, dancing, working and games while monks may do all that in East Asia.


That book is a real eye-opener on Theravada.

Related to this is the purported unfriendly behaviour that Ajahn Brahm's group is experiencing as a result of their Bhikkuni ordination.



If what he says is true then the behaviour of certain individuals is not in-line with what the Buddha taught according to the Pali canon.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 4:49 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Astus wrote:S. Dhammika's book Broken Buddha (PDF) addresses this issue in detail within the Theravada tradition.

There are precepts against magic and all sorts of rituals but at the same time it is found everywhere in Buddhism. There are precepts against music, dancing, working and games while monks may do all that in East Asia.



Mahāyāna is not bound by Hināyāna rules.


Indeed. From DDB:

Three sets of ideal precepts (Skt. trividhāni śīlāni) established by Mahāyāna Buddhism to stand in contrast with the formalized Vinaya of earlier Buddhism, which are intended to represent a more spiritual, rather than literal approach, to morality. There are two similar interpretations of the three. The first is that found in the Sutra of Brahma's Net 梵網經 and the Yingluo jing 瓔珞經.

* Keeping all precepts 攝律儀戒 (saṃvara-śīla).
* Practicing all virtuous deeds 攝善法戒 (kuśala-dharma-saṃgrāhaka-śīla).
* Granting mercy to all sentient beings 攝衆生戒 (sattvârtha-kriyā-śīla).

In this interpretation, categories one and two are considered to be practices of self-improvement 自利, and the third group consists of practices that are aimed to improve the spiritual condition of others 利他. The second interpretation is that found in the Yogâcārabhūmi-śāstra 瑜伽論 and Bodhisattvabhūmi-sūtra 地持經. In this case the first group, called 律儀戒, refers to the full set of 'Hīnayāna' prātimokṣa 波羅提木叉 precepts; the second group has the same name as above, and refers to the cultivation of good states; the third group is called 'precepts that bring benefit to sentient beings ' 饒益有情戒. Here, the second and third groups are supposed to reflect Mahāyāna principles, thus enhancing the original content of the Vinaya.



If the motivation is driven by genuine compassion or need for practicality in aiding sentient beings, then the Vinaya-based śīla can be overridden or modified appropriately.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 19, 2011 4:56 pm

Huseng wrote:If the motivation is driven by genuine compassion or need for practicality in aiding sentient beings, then the Vinaya-based śīla can be overridden or modified appropriately.


It can also be ignored completely if you are not a monk or have a superior understanding based on yogic accomplishment.

Vinaya is for monks and scholars. It is not for lay practitioners.

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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Astus » Thu May 19, 2011 5:04 pm

There is a difference between occasionally breaking a precept for compassion's sake and having a whole tradition not following certain rules that they took at the time of ordination, and that includes bodhisattva precepts too.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby udawa » Thu May 19, 2011 5:07 pm

'Broken Buddha' certainly has some interesting anecdotes. For instance:

I was once approached by a senior Burmese monk who asked me to help him go to the USA. He wanted
to raise money to finance a expedition to the moon to prove that there really was a rabbit there, as
Buddhist mythology says. While I suspect that part of his motive was desire for an all-expenses
paid trip to the West, I have no doubt that he sincerely believed that his space expedition would
prove successful and would help promote Buddhism. When you first move to Asia and start hearing
monks say things like this it is a little disconcerting, but gradually you get used to it.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 5:12 pm

Namdrol wrote:Vinaya is for monks and scholars. It is not for lay practitioners.

N


Some scholars of the Vinaya in China commented that one can study cause and effect as well as dependent origination by looking at the case examples present in the Vinaya coupled with the Buddha's explanations.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 5:14 pm

Astus wrote:There is a difference between occasionally breaking a precept for compassion's sake and having a whole tradition not following certain rules that they took at the time of ordination, and that includes bodhisattva precepts too.


I think in general having rules and precepts is good. The majority of people are better off with them than without them. Moreover, the lay communities are not going to respect monastics who don't behave themselves. They have to be held to a higher standard than ordinary samsara dwellers.

The problem is that precepts can be a source of pride. I know this all too well and am guilty of that sin.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 19, 2011 5:15 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Vinaya is for monks and scholars. It is not for lay practitioners.

N


Some scholars of the Vinaya in China commented that one can study cause and effect as well as dependent origination by looking at the case examples present in the Vinaya coupled with the Buddha's explanations.



It is easier to understand cause and effect by looking at a plant.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 5:20 pm

Namdrol wrote:It is easier to understand cause and effect by looking at a plant.


I would agree with that. :smile:

Still, some people like studying the Vinaya. It is Buddhadharma and was taught by the Buddha, so we should respect that.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 19, 2011 5:28 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:It is easier to understand cause and effect by looking at a plant.


I would agree with that. :smile:

Still, some people like studying the Vinaya. It is Buddhadharma and was taught by the Buddha, so we should respect that.


As I said, scholars and monks.

Yes, one can respect it, and one can also understand what is necessary and not necessary. Vinaya is not intrinsic to Buddhadharma. Many Buddhas taught dharma without teaching a Vinaya. Especially in this era, bhikṣus and bhikṣunis are museum pieces.

Things like Vinaya and so are are very relative.

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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby LastLegend » Thu May 19, 2011 5:30 pm

Huseng:
The problem is that precepts can be a source of pride. I know this all too well and am guilty of that sin.


Anything can be a source of pride from my personal experience. But we have to constantly reminder ourselves that arrogance is a source of suffering, and the purpose of studying and practicing Buddhism is to end suffering or at least reducing suffering everyday. If suffering increases everyday, then we have to question our methods.
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Re: Conventions contrary to scripture.

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 19, 2011 5:35 pm

Namdrol wrote:Yes, one can respect it, and one can also understand what is necessary and not necessary. Vinaya is not intrinsic to Buddhadharma. Many Buddhas taught dharma without teaching a Vinaya. Especially in this era, bhikṣus and bhikṣunis are museum pieces.


I think it depends on the general character of the people in the age when a Buddha teaches. There was a decided need for the Vinaya when the Buddha taught it. There were a lot of strange characters in the early Sangha.

In the kaliyuga sentient beings are difficult to tame. Perhaps in the satyayuga there was and/or will be no need for Vinaya.
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