Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Malcolm » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:34 pm

Huseng wrote:The Buddha also gave permission for the vinaya to be reformed if need be.


I think this goes a little too far. He told Ananda that it was ok to ignore minor rules without speifying which rules were minor. One assumes he meant rules like making rude noises while chewing, slurping one's soup and so on.

But he certainly never said "If need be, revise Vinaya."

Now, given that that are different ceremonies for conferring Vinaya, and different procedures for confession and so on, obviously the Buddha left much up to regional vinayadharas discretion.

But I do not think one can infer from this that innovations like Saicho's would be considered wise or valid.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11997
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:52 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:The Buddha also gave permission for the vinaya to be reformed if need be.


I think this goes a little too far. He told Ananda that it was ok to ignore minor rules without speifying which rules were minor. One assumes he meant rules like making rude noises while chewing, slurping one's soup and so on.

But he certainly never said "If need be, revise Vinaya."


In any case it was revised at some point in India. Hence we have more than one vinaya.

He also specified if his dharma was to go to foreign lands it could be modified as appropriate to the customs of those places.

Like I said in the article the Brahma Net Sūtra might have been penned at a time when no Chinese translation of the vinaya existed. It is funny to think that even in the early fifth century when Kumārajīva was first stepping foot into China the monks there actually had no vinaya, or it was only then first being translated. They had monastic rules, and I imagine the monks from Central Asia and those few from India orally taught the vinaya and perhaps transmitted it to some, but there was no Chinese translation of even one vinaya system until the 5th century. Funny even Faxian in India had to write down an oral recitation of the vinaya as he couldn't get a hold of a written copy during his travels in India in the 5th century.

Anyway, the Brahma Net Sūtra might have been written in such conditions, thus providing, at least for its time, a suitable substitute for the vinaya, but also in line with Mahāyāna ideals. Obviously later generations would not have had such ideas about the text, but they nevertheless took the text as the golden word of the Buddha. If those bodhisattva precepts are actually followed in their entirety one would be living a lifestyle in line with the vinaya. The problem is that in Japan some centuries later they decided it was optional to follow any of the prescriptions contained in any text. Even if they still transmitted the vinaya they would have had the same ideas about it, too. Everything became optional. The prescriptions in the Brahma Net Sūtra were no less sacred then those in the vinaya.


But I do not think one can infer from this that innovations like Saicho's would be considered wise or valid.


If it wasn't for the developments in Japanese Buddhism in the last century and a half, would your opinion be different? I mean if Japanese priests were all still celibate, unmarried, etc... and living as monastics.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Malcolm » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:22 pm

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:The Buddha also gave permission for the vinaya to be reformed if need be.


I think this goes a little too far. He told Ananda that it was ok to ignore minor rules without speifying which rules were minor. One assumes he meant rules like making rude noises while chewing, slurping one's soup and so on.

But he certainly never said "If need be, revise Vinaya."


In any case it was revised at some point in India. Hence we have more than one vinaya.

He also specified if his dharma was to go to foreign lands it could be modified as appropriate to the customs of those places.



He meant in terms of wearing wool and leather (that is the example).



Like I said in the article the Brahma Net Sūtra might have been penned at a time when no Chinese translation of the vinaya existed. It is funny to think that even in the early fifth century when Kumārajīva was first stepping foot into China the monks there actually had no vinaya, or it was only then first being translated. They had monastic rules, and I imagine the monks from Central Asia and those few from India orally taught the vinaya and perhaps transmitted it to some, but there was no Chinese translation of even one vinaya system until the 5th century. Funny even Faxian in India had to write down an oral recitation of the vinaya as he couldn't get a hold of a written copy during his travels in India in the 5th century.


I did not know that. Interesting.


Anyway, the Brahma Net Sūtra might have been written in such conditions, thus providing, at least for its time, a suitable substitute for the vinaya, but also in line with Mahāyāna ideals. Obviously later generations would not have had such ideas about the text, but they nevertheless took the text as the golden word of the Buddha. If those bodhisattva precepts are actually followed in their entirety one would be living a lifestyle in line with the vinaya. The problem is that in Japan some centuries later they decided it was optional to follow any of the prescriptions contained in any text. Even if they still transmitted the vinaya they would have had the same ideas about it, too. Everything became optional. The prescriptions in the Brahma Net Sūtra were no less sacred then those in the vinaya.



Even so, in India, it was necessarily the opinion of Mahāyāna Vinayadharas that Mahāyāna precepts were based on Hināyāna vows.


But I do not think one can infer from this that innovations like Saicho's would be considered wise or valid.


If it wasn't for the developments in Japanese Buddhism in the last century and a half, would your opinion be different? I mean if Japanese priests were all still celibate, unmarried, etc... and living as monastics.
[/quote]

I would still think that they were not bhikṣus, nor even śramaṇeras, just lay people with shaved heads in robes.

The Indian approach to these things was always layered. Whereas, the Chinese, cut off from the Mainstream of Indian Buddhism for the most part developed along lines very difficult for Indo-Tibetan Buddhists to recognize. For example, the Chinese obsession with elaborating individual sutra systems and so on. As you know, Indians, in the end, relied more on sastras than the raw material of sutras. Sutras were for devotion, sashtras were for study.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11997
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Seishin » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:42 pm

This may be a little off topic;... because of Saicho's reforms to ordanation and subsiquent other changes made to Japanese Buddhism over generations, would that mean it's better not to follow Japanese Buddhism?

Seishin.
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1410
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Malcolm » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:45 pm

Seishin wrote:This may be a little off topic;... because of Saicho's reforms to ordanation and subsiquent other changes made to Japanese Buddhism over generations, would that mean it's better not to follow Japanese Buddhism?

Seishin.



Only if you want to be a fully ordained bhikṣu.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11997
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:03 pm

Seishin wrote:This may be a little off topic;... because of Saicho's reforms to ordanation and subsiquent other changes made to Japanese Buddhism over generations, would that mean it's better not to follow Japanese Buddhism?

Seishin.


This depends on you as an individual.

If you're interested in Vajrayāna as it was developed in East Asia, then Shingon in Japan is the only viable school to study under, unless you have access to those few legitimate students of Shingon in Taiwan who actually went to Japan to receive their empowerments and study.

That being said Shingon is largely inaccessible. They don't teach practices to the uninitiated. Initiation requires you to ordain as a priest and go through training. That means having to know Japanese and being able to obey the hierarchy while going through all the motions that comes with Japanese culture. On that point Tibetan Vajrayāna is far more accessible because it is available in English and does not demand you partially assimilate into a foreign culture. Unless you already know Japanese and live in Japan, and have suitable connections, Shingon is not accessible.

If you want to do Zen and are not attached to Japanese developments of it like Dogen's works, then learning Chan under a Chinese master is preferable given the modern day direction Japanese Zen is taking. Many Japanese Zen priests openly deny rebirth, karma and teach something akin to existentialism with a practical component (zazen). A Chan teacher from an orthodox Chinese tradition like you find in Taiwan will be legitimate and not teach adharma (false dharma). Chinese Chan traditions have quality control, while Japanese Zen does not. You'll also find a lot more support for serious practice because Chinese monasteries are supported by the laity and are open to everyone. Japanese monasteries might be wealthy institutions that charge seminary fees and in other cases it might be a head priest with his wife and a number of disciples. In either case don't count on having long-term support for a retreat or something without having to pay a lot. In the case of Chinese monasteries in many cases you can practice with free room and board. You should see Taiwan's great temples. So many old devout Buddhist ladies cooking and cleaning, quite happy to volunteer and gain merit through such activities. You just don't see that in Japan on the same scale. The situation of Chan in Taiwan is far far better than any Zen tradition either in Japan or the exported varieties in America where you have fools selling themselves as "zen roshis".

In the case of Tendai, the non-esoteric practices and texts are still done in China, Taiwan, Korea and presumably Vietnam to some extent as well. I don't know much about how modern Tendai works. There is a modern revived Tiantai school in Korea. They even have a university.

I think the appeal of Japanese Buddhism to many westerners is that you can wear a religious costume, be called a priest and still live an ordinary life -- have a job, kids, spouse, drive a car, etc... you can have it all without having to really sacrifice much, unlike in Theravada or a Chinese tradition where you're either a monk or a layperson, and nothing really in between. If you want to wear robes, then you renounce which means everything that comes with it (like celibacy). With Japanese traditions you can have the best of both worlds, and it seems all the more legitimate when you see that in Japan everyone here in robes is also married with kids and private property, and drinking alcohol, eating meat, etc... next door in Taiwan anyone in robes doesn't get to enjoy any of that. Zero tolerance for meat eating, too.

In summary, my honest advice after having lived and studied in Japan for three years (two of which was doing a MA in Buddhist Studies at Komazawa University, which is Soto Zen), is that if you're interested in East Asian forms of Buddhism look towards Taiwan. Japanese Buddhism will be effectively dead within two generations. There is such vast corruption in doctrine in modern Japanese Buddhism, too. It is not uncommon for Japanese priests of any sect to openly deny rebirth and karma for example. If you want to do Vajrayāna go talk to a legitimate Tibetan Lama as you'll never have access to Shingon unless you know fluent Japanese AND live here.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:29 pm

Namdrol wrote:Even so, in India, it was necessarily the opinion of Mahāyāna Vinayadharas that Mahāyāna precepts were based on Hināyāna vows.


Right, but keep in mind for the longest time in China it was Central Asian Buddhism that they received, not Indian. To most individuals in East Asia anything beyond Dunhuang was the "western regions" which loosely contained that land called "India". In reality they didn't really distinguish heavily between the western regions and India, though Xuanzang indeed recognized them as different. Xuanzang was a unique figure, but he came much later than the period I'm talking about.

If India is the sole standard we go by, then there was clearly a lot of deviation, but then as we've discussed before I don't think it is the sole measuring stick and standard of what constitutes Buddhadharma.



I would still think that they were not bhikṣus, nor even śramaṇeras, just lay people with shaved heads in robes.


Is a śramaṇa by necessity also a bhikṣu?

Also, let's just assume the Brahma Net Sūtra is legitimate buddhavacana, and perhaps even transmitted via some transcendental vision. In that case it is a system of precepts derived directly from the buddhas of the ten directions, so it is just as legit as the vinaya (provided you accept this kind of teaching from a buddha as possible and/or legitimate), which may not entirely reflect the entire disciple as laid out by Śākyamuni Buddha. In that sense it is even more legitimate than the vinaya because there is generally just one version of the text (a few minor scribal differences between two major transmissions of the text, but nothing severe) while the vinayas are numerous. The Brahma Net Sūtra speaks of bodhisattva renunciates, which Saichō described as great monks. That's a śramaṇa in other words.


The Indian approach to these things was always layered. Whereas, the Chinese, cut off from the Mainstream of Indian Buddhism for the most part developed along lines very difficult for Indo-Tibetan Buddhists to recognize. For example, the Chinese obsession with elaborating individual sutra systems and so on. As you know, Indians, in the end, relied more on sastras than the raw material of sutras. Sutras were for devotion, sashtras were for study.


As Jizang points out the development of śāstras was due to the world in a period of degeneration and the dulling of people's roots (faculties and intellect). Nāgārjuna had to write the MMK because people were confused and misunderstanding the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras. The reliance on śāstra is really just because people misunderstand or lack the merit and intellect to understand the sūtras on their own. Maybe the Chinese were having better luck in the end understanding the meaning of sūtras than Tibetans and later day Indians who preferred śāstras.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Jikan » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:15 am

Huseng wrote:In the case of Tendai, the non-esoteric practices and texts are still done in China, Taiwan, Korea and presumably Vietnam to some extent as well. I don't know much about how modern Tendai works. There is a modern revived Tiantai school in Korea. They even have a university.


FWIW, I don't think contemporary Tendai is completely hopeless. And I have reason to think there are contemporary Zen practitioners who are doing it right, in Japanese lineages.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5118
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:38 am

Huseng wrote:
I would still think that they were not bhikṣus, nor even śramaṇeras, just lay people with shaved heads in robes.


Is a śramaṇa by necessity also a bhikṣu?


A śramaṇa is, by necessity, a novice ordained by a bhikṣu. One does not require a quorum to ordain novices. I suspect that what happened in China was that many Central Asia and Indian monks came to China and ordained novices (śramaṇas).

I don't think you can really argue for a huge difference between Central Asian Buddhism (define were, first of all) and Indian Buddhism because of the strong Influence of Indian culture from Bactria all the way to Java and Modern Day Vietnam.

How much do we know about the state fo monastic ordination in China prior to the 7th century?
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11997
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:44 am

Huseng wrote:Also, let's just assume the Brahma Net Sūtra is legitimate buddhavacana...The Brahma Net Sūtra speaks of bodhisattva renunciates, which Saichō described as great monks. That's a śramaṇa in other words.


In order to be a śramaṇa or a bhiḳsu, one needs to ordain in one of the "eighteen" schools. Otherwise, you are an upāsikā.

Apart from these categories there are no other categories of Buddhist practitioners, Mahāyāna or otherwise.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11997
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Seishin » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:46 am

Huseng wrote:
Seishin wrote:This may be a little off topic;... because of Saicho's reforms to ordanation and subsiquent other changes made to Japanese Buddhism over generations, would that mean it's better not to follow Japanese Buddhism?

Seishin.


This depends on you as an individual....


I know you have a lot more experience than I have, living in Japan and studying as a scholar, however my experience in the west of Japanese Buddhism (Tendai especially) has been a lot different. I would never have said that the priests I know "play dress up". Although you started with "This depends on you as an individual", your post read more like "no- follow somthing else", would that be correct?
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1410
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:48 am

Namdrol wrote:A śramaṇa is, by necessity, a novice ordained by a bhikṣu. One does not require a quorum to ordain novices. I suspect that what happened in China was that many Central Asia and Indian monks came to China and ordained novices (śramaṇas).


Your use of the term śramaṇa is not universal. The term śramaṇa was used to refer to renunciates in general in several Āgama sūtras in classical Chinese translation I've read. Moreover, some monks, at least in China, self-identified as śramaṇa (Chn. shamen 沙門), but that wasn't because they were novices.

I mean just look at the definition of the term in the DDB:

# Transliteration of the Sanskrit, meaning 'a Buddhist monk' (or nun). A wanderer (Pāli samaṇa; Tib. dge sbyong). A world-renunciant religious practitioner striving for liberation. Originally in India, śramaṇa was a general term for a person who had shaved his head, renounced his worldly status and possessions and who trained his mind and body in the attempt to stop evil activities and strive for the good. It originally referred to non-Buddhist practitioners such as the Jains, who based their beliefs on the Vedas and Upanishads. Translated into Chinese with such terms as 息, 息心, 靜志, 淨志, 乏道, 貧道, 動息, 功勞, 勤息, 淨志, 貧道 etc. Also transliterated as 桑門; 娑門; 喪門; 沙門那; 舍羅磨拏; 沙迦懣曩; 室摩那拏, 舍囉摩拏. 〔長阿含經、 T 1.107a〕 (Skt. śrāmaṇaka, śrāmaṇya, śrāmaṇera, pravrajita) [cmuller; source(s): Hirakawa, JEBD, Yokoi, Soothill, YBh-Ind]

# (1) Ascetics of all kinds; "the Sarmanai, or Samanaioi, or Germanai of the Greeks, perhaps identical also with the Tungusian Saman or Shaman." (Eitel) (2) Buddhist monks "who 'have left their families and quitted the afflictions,' the Semnoi of the Greeks." (Eitel) "He must keep well the Truth, guard well every uprising (of desire), be uncontaminated by outward attractions, be merciful to all and impure to none, be not elated to joy nor harrowed by distress, and able to bear whatever may come." The Sanskrit root is śram, to make effort; exert oneself, do austerities. [cmuller; source(s): Soothill]





I don't think you can really argue for a huge difference between Central Asian Buddhism (define were, first of all) and Indian Buddhism because of the strong Influence of Indian culture from Bactria all the way to Java and Modern Day Vietnam.


Khotan and Kuci (Kucha) were the main cities.


How much do we know about the state fo monastic ordination in China prior to the 7th century?


I think we know a lot, though in English the resources for such research are slim. I read a thick book on this subject in Japanese.

In any case from the fifth century China had translations of four major vinaya systems, so everyone knew what a proper bhikṣu was.

Namdrol wrote:In order to be a śramaṇa or a bhiḳsu, one needs to ordain in one of the "eighteen" schools. Otherwise, you are an upāsikā.

Apart from these categories there are no other categories of Buddhist practitioners, Mahāyāna or otherwise.

N


Right, but this was not the majority view of things in East Asia. Again this comes down to what a seng 僧 is. He is not be necessity a bhikṣu (though in many cases he would be), though he is still able to receive offerings from the white robed laity (upāsikā), reside in a temple, wear the kaṣāya and be addressed with a formal title.

At least in the Tang Dynasty I get the sense the vinaya was seen as just one set of disciplinary precepts that could make a seng 僧 as there were other viable options which were generally held as acceptable. Actually what really made a seng 僧 in that period was formal state certification of the fact, which in many decades could be easily purchased thus allowing anyone, monk or not, to avoid taxation and mandatory labour duties.

However, I know by the Song Dynasty they insisted all seng 僧 had certification of their vinaya ordination, which proved to be a problem for Dogen when he went to China.

Basically in Saichō's time in China the legal terminology determining what constituted a "monk" or seng 僧 was not based on Sanskrit definitions provided in the vinaya. I understand from an Indian or Tibetan perspective this appears odd, but that's just how it developed.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:11 am

Seishin wrote:I know you have a lot more experience than I have, living in Japan and studying as a scholar, however my experience in the west of Japanese Buddhism (Tendai especially) has been a lot different. I would never have said that the priests I know "play dress up". Although you started with "This depends on you as an individual", your post read more like "no- follow somthing else", would that be correct?


In my estimation Japanese Buddhism will be effectively dead within two generations. If you go the book shop you'll find numerous titles on Buddhism available for popular consumption, but that doesn't demonstrate that Buddhist traditions are in a healthy state. They are all in decline both in numbers and financially. There are a lot less registered priests today than there were several generations ago (and the population increased significantly between now and then). You even have a major Buddhist university like Koyasan being in the news as having financial problems due to a lack of enrolment. The older generations still maintain an interest in Buddhism and will insist on having a Buddhist funeral, but the younger generation does not have that same attachment to tradition. They simply don't care. When it comes to funerals nowadays you have private companies offering funeral services like you would find in North America. Just one time, one payment, and it is over with. Buddhist funerals in Japan are expensive and come with continuing costs after the main ceremony is done. Young people with little attachment to tradition as they get older will probably not see the point in maintaining such things just for appearances sake.

If you can manage to keep Tendai alive in a viable and sustainable way in America, by all means do so. However, a beginner will probably have far more luck and better resources investing their time and effort in a Taiwanese Buddhist tradition. They'll also not be at risk of meeting with some questionable priest teaching false dharma (I don't know if any Tendai priests do this in America, I hope not).

Of course not all of Japanese Buddhism is like this. You have some good priests who don't teach false dharma and seriously practice, but their number is in rapid decline. The resources will be less and less. How as a foreigner will you be able to gain access to these diminishing resources here in Japan as time goes on?

Even on the academic front things look grim. My professor told me that the quality of PhD graduates has gone downhill in recent years. Moreover, the old baby boomer generation is retiring and not likely to be entirely replaced due to funding shortfalls. Japan is in for some serious economic hardship. Buddhist Studies does not really generate much revenue keep in mind, so a university operating on a business model (they all do nowadays) would probably want to finance something that would. As the number of temples and priests across Japan decreases you can expect to see enrolment in Buddhist Studies also plummet as it is mostly hereditary priests who are in those programs plus a few others like retired gents interested in Buddhism and those few young Japanese students who genuinely want to learn it for their own purposes, not because of familial obligation. So, less Buddhist Studies, less professional scholars of Buddhism and less money for the academic study of Buddhism ...

It is safe to say Japanese Buddhism is in terminal decline.

It would be safer and a lot easier to involve yourself with an established and healthy Buddhist organization from Taiwan like Dharma Drum Mountain, Foguangshan or Tzuchi. They're generally flourishing, have a lot of resources and moreover have quality control standards. If you're going to invest many years of your life into a Buddhist tradition, best to go with one that is healthy and can support you. They're also making great efforts to branch out into foreign countries (like ensuring many of their monastics know a foreign language like English, and translating many works in English). You don't see any Japanese tradition doing this. There is no motivation to seriously do it, at least not on the same scale, and they don't have the resources.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Seishin » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:36 am

Thank you for your reply Huseng. Sadly, I don't live in America, I live in a small village in the UK. The nearest Buddhist group to me is Tendai, which is still a 30 min drive in good traffic. That being said, I had attended a few other groups before Tendai because of some silly, long forgotten prejudice I had towards Japanese Buddhism. That was all quickly forgotten when I joined the Tendai group and never looked back since. The nearest Taiwanese/Chinese/Tibetan centre is too far for me to travel to, especially on my wage. So you see, the form of Buddhism which you believe is the least accessable is actually the most accessable for me.

I know Japanese Buddhism is in decline both in numbers and in substance, in Japan. But in the UK and US it is growing rapidly, and those in charge of spreading it (both from Japan and the West) are doing their best to make sure what is being taught is of top quality. Materials are being translated as quickly as possible, but this takes time, as I'm sure you'll agree. It is my hope that Tendai and other forms of Japanese Buddhism will continue to grow in the west. Maybe one day it won't be known as "Japanese Buddhism", either way, I don't see Tendai Shu and the people like my teacher and Jikan as a lost cause.

Gassho,
Seishin

:focus:
User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
 
Posts: 1410
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Astus » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:46 am

A side note:

In Japanese schools they possess the proper doctrinal-practical transmission of the different schools, like in the case of Zen, but because they not necessarily live up to it, they're false. Again, even if they live up to the moral standards because they don't have the right set of rules and transmission they are false. So we could say that neither transmission nor the reality of practice makes one proper Dharma follower. Or it is that if we want we can view it as all right, if we want we can view it as totally wrong. That's because we can argue on the side of either ideal purity or practical situation. But I think what should be asked is the purpose of the whole training and whether a training used can generate the desired results.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4226
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby jikai » Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:38 am

I can understand many expressing the view that Japanese Buddhism is not only in decline but has for a long time been 'illegitimate' to some extent based on their having discarded the Ssu Fen Lu (Vinaya) precepts- particularly since the Meiji period from which time onwards no secret has been made regarding the marriage of the Priesthood and various other infractions such as eating meat and possessing property.

However, with great respect, I ask that we not become too entangled with the nomenclature we as the Buddhists of today have inherited but that we remember not to lose the content. I am aware that many Japanese Priests have inherited their Priestly 'profession' BUT, there are many, who I've met both within and outside Japan who do uphold their respective Buddhist traditions ensuring that a high standard is kept.

Indeed I, as an aspiring priest in the early days of my training, do at times fear that not taking the Vinaya and remaining celibate may be 'infractions' on the path- my personal way of dealing with such concerns is the vow that if my partner and I seperate, I will indeed become celibate, and if possible take the Vinaya (while remaining within Tendai).

But as Mahayanists, is not our banner "to develop the enlightened mind, in whatever form it may take" ? Vimalakirti although not ordained,would constitute a 'proficient and worthy' teacher would he not?

Particularly in the West, it is very likely that the Japanese 'monastic tradition' with its acceptance of marriage etc; is and will become more 'palatable' to the aspirant Buddhist than the more traditional monastic tradition. Although I personally (although a member of the Japanese Priestly tradition) view taking the Vinaya as part of the ultimate and desired end, I can't help but feel that atleast in the West, the Japanese traditions provide for us, a Hoben/Fangbian/Upaya/ Skillful means through which that ultimate goal may be approached.

Our training and practices are certainly not simply 'dress-up'. They require true dedication and are certainly not an 'ordinary' existence (which would be much easier). Although I have my doubts about whether or not it is right for me to call myself a priest (considering the title in Japanese does not differ from monk) In my tradition (Tendai) I have always been taught to respect the 'enlightened mind' no matter where I find it in a way I have not experienced from many other more 'legitimate' Sangha. I think we, in the Japanese Buddhist community have experienced alot of resentment for our stance on monastic discipline. As I said, I one day hope to take the Vinaya,but, I have found the Tendai tradition to be full of dedicated, teachers of the Buddhist tradition. If we talk as Buddhist of not practicing ritual at the expense of substance then perhaps we should cease being too connected to the nomenclature and remember what truly makes a Buddhist disciple: the awakening of Bodhicitta.
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
User avatar
jikai
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:52 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:00 pm

ryokai wrote:I can understand many expressing the view that Japanese Buddhism is not only in decline but has for a long time been 'illegitimate' to some extent based on their having discarded the Ssu Fen Lu (Vinaya) precepts- particularly since the Meiji period from which time onwards no secret has been made regarding the marriage of the Priesthood and various other infractions such as eating meat and possessing property.



It is less of a view in terms of statistics and more of a fact. Less priests, less money. That means decline.




Indeed I, as an aspiring priest in the early days of my training, do at times fear that not taking the Vinaya and remaining celibate may be 'infractions' on the path- my personal way of dealing with such concerns is the vow that if my partner and I seperate, I will indeed become celibate, and if possible take the Vinaya (while remaining within Tendai).



You won't be following the educational system that Saichō prescribed. Moreover, if you receive the Bodhisattva precepts the third one includes celibacy. If you continue having sexual relations with anyone after having taken that vow to abstain from it, you are violating a primary (heavy) precept.

In general abstinence from sexual activity is a requisite for advancing through exoteric Buddhist systems. Tendai's esoteric component as I understand it does not include any sort of consort practices.

But as Mahayanists, is not our banner "to develop the enlightened mind, in whatever form it may take" ? Vimalakirti although not ordained,would constitute a 'proficient and worthy' teacher would he not?


He was celibate according to the scripture. Presumably he sired a son, yes, but after that he maintained continence. See the following:

He wore the white clothes of the layman, yet lived impeccably like a religious devotee. He lived at home, but remained aloof from the realm of desire, the realm of pure matter, and the immaterial realm. He had a son, a wife, and female attendants, yet always maintained continence. He appeared to be surrounded by servants, yet lived in solitude.





Particularly in the West, it is very likely that the Japanese 'monastic tradition' with its acceptance of marriage etc; is and will become more 'palatable' to the aspirant Buddhist than the more traditional monastic tradition. Although I personally (although a member of the Japanese Priestly tradition) view taking the Vinaya as part of the ultimate and desired end, I can't help but feel that atleast in the West, the Japanese traditions provide for us, a Hoben/Fangbian/Upaya/ Skillful means through which that ultimate goal may be approached.


I don't think it will work because you'll end up with generations of married priests and a heirarchy that would essentially have to disrobe or get divorced if you introduced the vinaya some few generations later. Try reintroducing the vinaya into a Japanese tradition now. The most senior priests would have to get divorced if they were to receive it. Liquor is quite entrenched into Japanese culture, so asking everyone to give it up would not work either.


I think we, in the Japanese Buddhist community have experienced alot of resentment for our stance on monastic discipline.


I don't resent you, but I think you need to recognize what has transpired and is now accepted as legit monastic discipline was not what Saichō had in mind, and if you take the Brahma Net Sutra precepts you are in effect swearing yourself to celibacy. That's the third major precept after all. Very important.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:03 pm

Seishin wrote:I know Japanese Buddhism is in decline both in numbers and in substance, in Japan. But in the UK and US it is growing rapidly, and those in charge of spreading it (both from Japan and the West) are doing their best to make sure what is being taught is of top quality. Materials are being translated as quickly as possible, but this takes time, as I'm sure you'll agree. It is my hope that Tendai and other forms of Japanese Buddhism will continue to grow in the west. Maybe one day it won't be known as "Japanese Buddhism", either way, I don't see Tendai Shu and the people like my teacher and Jikan as a lost cause.


Well that's good it is growing. Perhaps Tendai will survive in the UK and US, and fade away in Japan.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:06 pm

Jikan wrote:FWIW, I don't think contemporary Tendai is completely hopeless. And I have reason to think there are contemporary Zen practitioners who are doing it right, in Japanese lineages.


Even if this is the case, we cannot discount the fact Japanese Buddhism is collectively in decline both in terms of numbered statistics and finances.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Saichō's Monastic Reforms

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:54 pm

Huseng wrote:
Your use of the term śramaṇa is not universal. The term śramaṇa was used to refer to renunciates in general in several Āgama sūtras in classical Chinese translation I've read. Moreover, some monks, at least in China, self-identified as śramaṇa (Chn. shamen 沙門), but that wasn't because they were novices.



Yes, that is true, śramaṇa was a term applied to both Buddhist and non-Buddhsit mendicants. However, in the context of what constitutes a śramaṇa with the Buddhist order, it is a novice.

The appellation "buddha" was not reserved solely for The Buddha, but was a term many religious teachers applied to themselves during the time of The Buddha.

Within categories of peope holding prātimokṣa vows within Buddhism, however, there are only four types of vows (eight when split by gender), upāsakas, upāvasa (fast day vows), śramaṇa and bhikṣu. Mahāyāna vows do not have the force to ordain one a pravrajita of any kind (śramaṇa and bhikṣu). All this may be found in the Kośa.


However, I know by the Song Dynasty they insisted all seng 僧 had certification of their vinaya ordination, which proved to be a problem for Dogen when he went to China.

Basically in Saichō's time in China the legal terminology determining what constituted a "monk" or seng 僧 was not based on Sanskrit definitions provided in the vinaya. I understand from an Indian or Tibetan perspective this appears odd, but that's just how it developed.


Which means that people knowledgable in Buddhism recognized loose definitions were a problem and fixed it. The legal terminology already existed in Vinaya, the Chinese were simply slow to adopt it.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11997
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

PreviousNext

Return to Tendai

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 3 guests

>