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Thread: Ordination

  1. #1

    Ordination

    Recent cyber events raised a few issues as well as questions.

    There was some questioning of Jundo's credentials by the folks over at e-sangha. Something along the lines of his ordination being a lay ordination and therefore lesser than their "higher" variety. I am relatively ignorant of the various levels of ordination in schools of Buddhism and how they might compare to one another (if that is even possible). So, my questions are very open ones: "What is ordination in Soto Zen and how does one receive it?" "What use is it?" "Are other Buddhist traditions more strict in their demands for ordination?" "How do these older traditions of certification fit into modern times and Western culture?" etc.

    Now a comment: I have a significant amount of training in music (this is honestly not something to brag about). I have three music degrees (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate) and my students call me 'doctor Swann,' my profession demanded those of me if I wanted to teach, and they have helped lend clout to my opinions from time to time. BUT, ultimately it is a bit of a con-game. I learned a great deal in my schooling, but I learned as much or more playing for 20 years as a professional musician (which did not earn me any sort of title). I know plenty of posers in academia who have great credentials but cannot teach, don't contribute to a body of scholarly knowledge, aren't good people in general, etc and so on. I still have to walk the walk. I still have to teach what I have learned. And if my teaching is irrelevant or untrue to my students then it is my fault and not theirs. My point here is that my experience tells me that the proof is in the pudding. A title such as "Lama so and so" will buy a person a bit of a listen from me but they better deliver the goods quickly or they will lose my interest and any consideration I might have had for their ideas. I don't really give a shit about the titles of Buddhist teachers other than them giving me a quick way to appraise their level of education/training in that field.
    Lastly, if the choice is between a monk/geshe/lama who spends their life in the walls of a monastery or a lay-ordained teacher who has learned to apply Buddhism in everyday life, I will choose the latter. How relevant are words about renunciation from a person who has nothing to renounce (my idea here is that it is actually easier to renounce things when they are separated from you than when you are immersed in them)? I prefer Soto Zen precisely because these dudes were IN THE WORLD, not living idealized, cloistered lives.
    So, I don't negate the value of ordination, but it is not a pass to avoid answering questions or enforcing dogma. I will indulge the ideas of a high lama for only marginally longer than anyone else before I turn on the 'bullshit detector.'

    So, all that being said, I would like to know a bit more about ordination in spite of my skepticism toward it.

    Bill

  2. #2
    Something interesting happening at Treeleaf. Thanks for the post Bill. Good question.

    G,W

  3. #3
    Traditionally all across mainland Asia monks are ordained using the full vinaya precepts.

    Saicho (the founder of Tendai-shu in Japan) with the help of the imperial court, (in 818) had the vinaya precepts of ordination replaced with the Mahayana precepts (the Bodhisattva precepts) - making these ordinations a "Bodhisattva ordination."

    This "Bodhisattva ordination" uses the ten major and forty-eight minor precepts derived from the Chinese Brahmajala sutra. Soto-shu summarised these making the sixteen Zen precepts (Rinzai has ten).

    To other Asian nations where Buddhism is practice those holding a "Bodhisattva ordination" are nothing more than pious laypeople - not being actually monks.

    In the words of Saicho -

    "I have read the Buddha's teachings and know that there are pure Mahayana teachings and pure Hinayana teachings. The students of my school shall study the Mahayana precepts, meditation and wisdom and they shall abandon the inferior Hinayana teachings forever."

    So the whole squabble comes down to the number and type of precepts used in the ordination process.

  4. #4

    Re: Ordination

    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow

    There was some questioning of Jundo's credentials by the folks over at e-sangha. Something along the lines of his ordination being a lay ordination and therefore lesser than their "higher" variety. I am relatively ignorant of the various levels of ordination in schools of Buddhism and how they might compare to one another (if that is even possible). So, my questions are very open ones: "What is ordination in Soto Zen and how does one receive it?" "What use is it?" "Are other Buddhist traditions more strict in their demands for ordination?" "How do these older traditions of certification fit into modern times and Western culture?" etc.
    Hi Bill,

    The question is not my [Jundo's] credentials, but the credentials of every Buddhist monk/priest in Japan of every sect compared to monks/priests in other countries. Since I am involved in the issue [and thus not unbiased [img]{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif[/img] petty vinaya could be nullified. This disagreement led some time later to the two groups splitting up. Eventually, one group became predominant in northern India; they became the Mahayana group, which used Sanskrit as its textual language. The other group became predominant in southern India, used Pali for their written texts, and were called "Hinayana" [lesser vehicle] by the Mahayana [great vehicle] group. The southern school survives today and is referred to now by the more polite name of the Theravada [way of the elders] School.

    Jumping ahead about thousand years, Buddhism was introduced into Japan in about the 6th century, and by the 8th century it was established enough to have large monasteries. Saicho, an important abbot of a large Tendai Buddhist monastery and head of the Tendai movement in Japan at that time, petitioned the Emperor in the 8th century asking for permission to ordain monks using only the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts instead of the 227 Patimoksha Precepts that were ordinarily used. I can’t remember why he wanted the precepts reduced, but certainly it would be difficult to follow all of the them in the culture and climate of Japan. Actually, some of the original precepts must have been modified in China prior to this. For example, the traditional precepts limit a monk’s possessions to something like three robes, one bowl and two needles. In Japan, where it is very hot and humid in the summer and cold and snowy in the winter (especially in the mountains), under robes were added to the traditional ordination robe or okesa.

    Other Patimoksa precepts prohibited work, but Zen monks in China and Japan did work in the kitchen, on the grounds, and grew food in fields and gardens, which made their monasteries self sufficient to some extent and less dependent on donations from lay people and the government. This was a factor in the survival of Zen monasteries during the Buddhist persecution in China in about the 10th or 11th century. In Zen Buddhism, working not only was allowed for monks, but it was seen as another vehicle for practice and has come to be known as being characteristic of zen practice.

    After petitioning for many years, Saicho died and the Emperor of Japan granted permission posthumously for monks to be ordained receiving sixteen precepts. Eventually the sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts came to be used by all, or nearly all, Japanese Buddhist sects in ordaining monks. Japan is the only Asian country where ordained Buddhist clerics receive only sixteen precepts. After Japanese ports were finally opened to foreign ships in about 1868, the Japanese government mounted a campaign to establish a state religion to help prevent foreign religions from entering the culture, and the indigenous Shinto religion was chosen over Buddhism. The authority of Buddhist monks at that time was undermined and eventfully Buddhist monks were allowed and even encouraged by the government to marry. This is why in Japan today, most Buddhist clerics tend to be priests living as householders taking care of temples where lay people practice rather than living in monasteries as celibate monks. This is some of the cultural history of the precepts we take.

    http://www.intrex.net/chzg/precepts.htm
    [/quote]

    Some (emphasis SOME) monks from outside Japan question the propriety of using the term 'monks" to apply to Japanese Buddhist clergy for that reason, and make some argument that it is the same as "lay" precepts [in fact, they are the very same 16 Precepts that are the subject of the "Lay" Jukai ceremony, and there is really very little difference between "Jukai" and a "Shukke Tokudo" ritual for new initiate priests exept the intent behind it}. Here is a little more history from E-Sangha (there is some useful information there sometimes). I mention again that the central criticism of Japanese priests is that most marry]
    There is a unique history with the precept situation in Japan and celibacy, but I can only grossly oversimplify here.


    (1) Before Saicho, all of Japanese Buddhism was identical to Chinese Buddhism in terms of precepts, and of course all Japanese monks were celibate. The Hinayana precepts were taken and kept (Dharmagupta).

    (2) Under Saicho's influence, the court allowed that Tendai monks could be ordained using only the Fangwang bodhisattva precepts (plus celibacy) for political reasons (to reduce the political influence of the Nara schools). The Hinayana precepts were discarded in the Tendai Hokke-shu (Tendai).

    (3) The offshoots of Tendai in Japan also only used the Fanwang bodhisattva precepts, and no Hinayana precepts. These offshoots are the Japanese versions of Soto and Rinzai, the Pure Land schools, and the Nichiren schools. These account for the majority of Japanese Buddhism.

    (4) The schools outside of that sphere of influence, Kegon, Hosso, Ritsu, and some Shingon schools maintained the Hinayana precepts throughout the medieval period. (The case is very complicated for Shingon because of the number of subsects and because of close interfacing with the court and government restrictions in that regard.) However, as the influence of particularly the first three dwindled seriously in the later middle ages, the Hinayana precepts dwindled, and the Tendai model came to be adapted in schools outside that tradition and its spinoffs.

    (5) By the mid Edo period the Hinayana precepts were in a state of disarray and there were no more Chinese masters permitted to arrive by the government. The model of Tendai became the standard for basically all of Japanese Buddhism, meaning celibacy with the Fangwang bodhisattva precepts, but no transmission of Hinayana prcepts. Some Shingon groups in particular worked to restore the Hinayana precepts, but this achieved only minor success.

    (6) Tokugawa criminal law required all Japanese monks to be 1. celibate, 2. not eat meat or fish, and 3. not wear lay clothing. This law specifically did not apply to priests of the Jodo Shin-shu, who were permitted to marry under the law.

    (7) After the Meiji Restoration, the new government set out to establish State Shinto (including emperor worship) as the state religion, and decided the influence of Buddhism must end. To achieve this they: 1. repealed the Tokugawa law requiring celibacy, and 2. encouraged the population to attack Buddhist temples and conducted a propaganda campaign about the evils of Buddhism. Something like the Chinese Cultural Revolution, many temples were burned down and vandalized at this time. Monk were mistreated, and forcibly returned to lay status in some cases. The repeal of the law about celibacy was intended to undermine the respect of the people for the celibate sangha.

    (8 Buddhism in Japan entered a dark age at this time after the Meiji Restoration, and few new novices could be found. However, the remaining monks found that since they were now legally allowed to marry and have children, in order to preserve Buddhism in the face of government antagonism and to solve the problem of a lack of new disciples to carry on, that they could procreate their own disciples. The example of Jodo Shin-shu, which had done this since medieval times, was probably not trivial in this decision.

    (9) After Japanese Buddhism weathered those difficult times having dwindled to a very small size, it recovered when the government eventually stopped its aggression, realizing the futility of that, and decided to instead have Buddhism work for its budding nationalistic and expansionist policies instead. Nevertheless, the Buddhist priests continued to marry and have children to carry on, perhaps fearing a new set of attacks.
    [/quote]

    Finally, this is all wrapped up into the subject of most Japanese priests/monks now marrying. Here is a chapter from a very good book on the subject.

    ton.edu/chapters/s7171.html">http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s7171.html

    I am sure that is more information than you wanted.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5
    Wow, a lot of detail - thank you Jundo.

  6. #6
    The members asked which of the vinaya were the petty ones, and Ananda replied that at the time Buddha told him this, he was lost in astonishment that some of the vinaya could be disregarded and forgot to ask.
    This is the funniest thing I've read today.

    Thanks for the info (and the laugh) guys.

  7. #7
    Just thought I'd add this on the topic of what constitutes a monk (bhikkhu) in Buddhism -

    Not therefore is he a bhikkhu
    Merely because he begs from others.
    Not by adopting the outward form
    Does one truly become a bhikkhu.
    He who wholly subdues evil,
    Both small and great,
    Is called a monk (bhikkhu)
    Because he has overcome all evil.

    from the Dhammapada

  8. #8
    "After my Nirvana, if the sangha asks for the nullification of some articles of the petty vinaya, the Tathagata gives you permission to nullify them serially."
    I had read this before . . . so the Buddha was messin' with the monks to remind them that none of the precepts were above inspection (sacred). This fact that we don't know how many, which ones, etc he might have been referring to leads me to think that getting bent out of shape over them is silly. It all sounds like a pissing contest to me. "We are the real monk because we take 740,000 precepts" "Oh yeah, well WE take 740,001 precepts, so there." etc.
    Much silliness.
    I, being right brained I guess, tend toward favoring large conceptual frameworks from which I draw specific conclusions instead of having a million rules for everything. So, the bodhisattva precepts seem to cover all of the other stuff pretty well. I imagine that many of the precepts that monks in other traditions take are indeed petty "Don't leave the seat on the toilet up" kind of stuff (day to day functioning of the sangha).
    Thanks for your responses . . . it has helped.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  9. #9
    Hi Bill,

    I just thought it also might be worth mentioning that the vinaya precepts weren't presented by the Buddha all at once on a silver platter, but rather were formulated one by one, each as a result of a specific incident in his Order. Basically that brings up (at least) 2 issues.

    Firstly, it may be that such an incident may never happen again, or that if it happens under different circumstances, it may not necessarily be a bad thing. I think that's probably why the Buddha said it would be OK to leave some out in the future. No reason to become attached to rules which have become obsolete.

    Secondly, if the Buddha were still alive today, he most certainly would have continually expanded on that list to reflect shortcomings amongst his Bhikkhus as they arose in modern times up till the present. So we could rightly ask those who regard those long lists of precepts so much why they didn't continue with them?!? If they had, they probably would have something like 740,000 precepts today.

    Gassho
    Ken

  10. #10
    Hi Harry,

    OK, I'll give it a go.

    There were 250 monks precepts and 348 precepts for nuns. Let's assume the latter include the former and since we're all for equality here at Treeleaf let's assume those 348 rules apply to males and females for our purposes. I think the Buddha taught for about 45 years. Also let's assume 2500 years have gone by since then (since there is no real concensus on his dates of birth/death).

    So, we have 348 / 45 = 7.73333 precepts / year.

    2500 years * 7.73333 precepts / year = 19,333.333 precepts.

    Hey, that's not too bad at all, in any case it's a lot less than 740,000 !

    Who wants to think about what they may be and start typing them in for use at Treeleaf???

    Gassho
    Ken

  11. #11
    Hi,

    These links may give you a taste for the more detailed Vinaya ...

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ti.html#sg

    Some of these are, obviously, a problem for the married and more worldly priests of Japan.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- Please, as a personal request, might we avoid "making fun" after reading these, or being derisive (if that is what someone thought to do)? They are to be respected in the same way that your own moral view is to be respected. In other words, no snide and "superior" comments comparing ourselves to other Buddhists, please. ANYONE BREAKING THE AFORESAID RULE WILL BE SUBJECT TO FORFEITURE AND PUBLIC CONFESSION.

  12. #12
    Hey Bill,

    You asked:

    "So, my questions are very open ones: "What is ordination in Soto Zen and how does one receive it?" "What use is it?" "Are other Buddhist traditions more strict in their demands for ordination?" "How do these older traditions of certification fit into modern times and Western culture?" etc."

    Well, I can only tell you of my own, personal experience with one lineage.
    (This is the lineage passed down from Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett who was trained in Japan by her master, The Very Reverend Keido Chisan Koho Zenji who was the Abbot of the Shojiji monastery in Japan.)

    OK...in our tradition there are only two types of ordinations: lay and priest.

    A lay Buddhist is "ordained" by taking the 10 Great precepts during Jukai. If a lay person stays involved and shows some degree of maturity in their training (don't ask me what this means,) and commitment to the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (our Order,) they were offered the opportunity to become lay ministers. The lay ministers I've known have only been invited to do this after about 15 years of committed practice. No lay minister is ever able to be called a "teacher of the Buddhadharma" and hold classes (although they can teach meditation and lead a mini-sessin,) nor are they able to take students/disciples. They are considered good examples and mentors for the younger in practice, but ONLY fully ordained priests can teach the Dharma, do sanzen, and take students.

    In our Order it is a long process to become a teacher. One is a postulant for approximately 2 years, then ordained as a novice and remains so for approximately 6 years, then one becomes a Transmitted monk (again, don't ask me what that means) and remains so for approximately another 3 years, until they show the "right stuff" to become a Senior monk. At that point you can become a teacher after another 3 years or so...which means you are not considered qualified to be a teacher of the Buddhadharma for approximately 14 years of monastic training. Seniors who take disciples can only do so after they have acheived the rank of Master and when that will occur is never known, although it seems to have something to do with a Kensho, but it is generally after you have been a senior for many, many years.

    The ordination ceremony for a priest is fairly involved in our Order with quite an elaborate ceremony. It is essentially the same Precepts-wise, though. Taking the 10 Great Precepts and the Bodhisattva Vows.

    So, that's just one slice of the pie. Confused yet??

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  13. #13
    Thanks, Lynn.

    Does each lineage determine what their ordination procedures are, or is there some standard in all Soto lineages?

    Bill

  14. #14
    Hi again,

    I don't know the answer to that question. My guess is that ordination for priests looks pretty much the same within the Soto sect with some slight variations, but minor ones.

    I forgot to mention that priests in the OBC do not follow the Japanese tradition of allowing priests to marry. The OBC is a celibate order. Rev. Master Jiyu tried it the other way when she first started the order but it was too crazy making. There weren't any familial temples to pass down etc. so allowing the monks to marry came mostly out of the fact that all the disciples who showed up in the early 70's were in their 20's with hormones raging and it was simpler to allow them to just marry. She discontinued this about 7 or 8 years later.

    This is interesting because when one is ordained within the OBC you have a part in the ceremony where you thank your parents (who, if they are living and willing, are there at the ordination ceremony) for all they did to help you get to the point of ordination and then you step over the threshold of renunciation of worldly family and assume your place within the priestly family. (BTW, this DOES NOT mean you never speak to your family again!! It is a spiritual process.) If you are married and still maintain a "worldly family" it does seem a little incongruous to participate in this ceremony at all. But, again, this just may be something within the OBC which is the only group I have personal knowledge of.

    So, for her Western temple, priests are celibate, vegetarian (following the vinaya rules regarding the pungent roots,) and dry (no alcohol.)

    Gassho~

    *Lynn

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    Does each lineage determine what their ordination procedures are, or is there some standard in all Soto lineages?

    Bill
    There are some standards prescribed in the constitution of Soto-shu in Japan, (Scroll a few inches down this page) ...

    http://www.terebess.hu/zen/szoto/etikett.html

    There is some flexibility there, but it tends to be very strict because it is basically a closed guild that restricts access to membership (to prevent questions over who has the right to manage a temple). The master still has a great deal of freedom in the details of training, although the usual path is via Komazawa University (a famous Soto University in Tokyo ) and/or Sojiji/Eiheiji (or a few other training temples).

    In the west, each lineage has established its own standards, although the SZBA is seeking to enforce certain basic standards and guidelines.

    Gassho, J

  16. #16
    Jundo, I was wondering if you would be so good as to offer an opinion on the 23rd (secondary) Bodhisattva precept?

    Gassho

  17. #17
    Hi Jun,

    Do you mean "Refrain from Teaching the Dharma Grudgingly"? It follows No. 22, "Refrain from Arrogance and Failure to Request the Dharma"

    Well, one should always be willing to teach the Dharma by a living demonstration of peace and balance in one's life ... The best way to "teach the Dharma" to people around us is, not by prostelitizing "Buddhism", but rather by living each day as a good friend, husband, son, etc., living in a balanced way avoiding harm and manifesting Compassion. Of course, if someone asks directly about Buddhism or Zazen, etc., one should not refrain from telling what one knows about these things.

    No. 22 can mean, however, not becoming arrogant too early in our Buddhist training about our understanding and "enlightenment", and not thereby refusing to learn. Learning is a lifetime process moment by moment, and all phenomena preach the Dharma as do all sentient beings, and one must learn from the tiniest baby, the greatest fool, disagreeable people ... all are our teachers.

    Is that what you meant, Jun? Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18
    Hello Jundo,

    Actually, the Bodhisattva precepts that I have here may be set out differently (?) The 23rd precept states that - "whenever a person with wholesome intention sincerely wishes to receive the precepts, but where the normal requirements of ordination [such as a teacher and officiating persons] cannot be fulfilled; then he should vow before the Buddha and Bodhisattva images to accept and uphold the precepts - jisei jukai. A sign will show itself to confer that the self-ordination is acceptable."

    Saicho mentions this in his Tendai Hokkeshu nenbundosha eshõ kodai shiki.

    Gassho

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun
    Hello Jundo,

    Actually, the Bodhisattva precepts that I have here may be set out differently (?) The 23rd precept states that - "whenever a person with wholesome intention sincerely wishes to receive the precepts, but where the normal requirements of ordination [such as a teacher and officiating persons] cannot be fulfilled; then he should vow before the Buddha and Bodhisattva images to accept and uphold the precepts - jisei jukai. A sign will show itself to confer that the self-ordination is acceptable."

    Saicho mentions this in his Tendai Hokkeshu nenbundosha eshõ kodai shiki.

    Gassho
    Hi Again Jun,

    As came up earlier in the thread, Soto-shu ordination (both Shukke and Zaike Tokudo/Jukai) is focused upon the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts, and the 48 "Secondary" Precepts are not front and center. But the section of the Mahayana Bonmogyo (Brahma Net Sutra) to which you refer is this one ...

    23. On Teaching the Dharma Grudgingly

    After my [Shakyamuni Buddha's] passing, if a disciple should, with a wholesome mind, wish to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he may make a vow to do so before the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and practice repentance before these images for seven days. If he then experiences a vision, he has received the precepts. If he does not, he should continue doing so for fourteen days, twenty-one days, or even a whole year, seeking to witness an auspicious sign. After witnessing such a sign, he could, in front of images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, formally receive the precepts. If he has not witnessed such a sign, although he may have accepted the precepts before the Buddha images, he has not actually received the precepts.

    However, the witnessing of auspicious signs is not necessary if the disciple receives the precepts directly from a Dharma Master who has himself received the precepts. Why is this so? It is because this is a case of transmission from Master to Master and therefore all that is required is a mind of utter sincerity and respect on the part of the disciple.

    If, within a radius of some three hundred fifty miles, a disciple cannot find a Master capable of conferring the Bodhisattva precepts, he may seek to receive them in front of Buddha or Bodhisattva images. However, he must witness an auspicious sign.

    If a Dharma Master, on account of his extensive knowledge of sutras and Mahayana moral codes as well as his close relationship with kings, princes, and high officials, refuses to give appropriate answers to student-Bodhisattvas seeking the meaning of sutras and moral codes, or does so grudgingly, with resentment and arrogance, he commits a secondary offense.

    EMPHASIS ADDED BY JUNDO

    http://www.ymba.org/bns/bnsframe.htm
    Well, apart from my personal doubt about the significance and reliability of someone's seeing "visions" (hallucinations?) in front of Buddha Statues, the rule does not apply in the event a living, breathing Master can be found within a radius of 350 miles (JUNDO NOTE: How does this rule apply, now that our Sangha will be available for an on-line Precepts ceremony early next year???).

    In any event, from my perspective, the most important thing about the Precepts comes before, during and after the Precepts ceremony. If one is living, as one can, to avoid harm, and to live in ways helpful and healthful to oneself and others, then one has already "received the Precepts" ... and the ceremony only commemorates that fact. When we prepare for our Treeleaf Zendo Jukai in the Spring, we will study Master Dogen's chapters [iJukai[/i] and Kyoju-kaimon (Comments on Teaching and Conferring the Precepts) and his take on the Precepts as well (which is that, as with Zazen, the Precepts are Enlightenment itself and are swept into Zazen).

    Jun, as you are interested in arcane bits of Soto history, do you know this paper? I read it awhile back and found it very interesting ...

    http://www.acmuller.net/zen-sem/2004/riggs.html

    Any other point you had in mind about this, Jun?

    Gassho, Jundo

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Jun

    As came up earlier in the thread, Soto-shu ordination (both Shukke and Zaike Tokudo/Jukai) is focused upon the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts, and the 48 "Secondary" Precepts are not front and centre.
    Hi Jundo,

    Yes, I know. I'm interested in all things historical and ALL takes on things concerning the Dharma (Yes arcane bits of history!) Just thought I'd ask if you had an opinion.

    Seeing as Saicho made comment on it several times in his ordination requests to the court, and it's implications at that point in time on ordination and later affects on Japanese Buddhism I thought I'd ask. Especially since the precepts used in Sōtō-shu are related to the precepts used by the Tendai-shu.

    Well, apart from my personal doubt about the significance and reliability of someone's seeing "visions" (hallucinations?) in front of Buddha Statues, the rule does not apply in the event a living, breathing Master can be found within a radius of 350 miles (JUNDO NOTE: How does this rule apply, now that our Sangha will be available for an on-line Precepts ceremony early next year???).
    Yes. I was wondering how this type of thing could have possibly have been taken seriously? How does one authenticate another's "visions?"

    In any event, from my perspective, the most important thing about the Precepts comes before, during and after the Precepts ceremony. If one is living, as one can, to avoid harm, and to live in ways helpful and healthful to oneself and others, then one has already "received the Precepts" ...
    Yes!

    When we prepare for our Treeleaf Zendo Jukai in the Spring, we will study Master Dogen's Kyoju-kaimon (Comments on Teaching and Conferring the Precepts) and his take on the Precepts as well (which is that, as with Zazen, the Precepts are Enlightenment itself).
    How interesting, I'll be sure to take part in the lecture/study part of that if a heretic such as myself is permitted. (?) I'm not at all interested in the jukai part.

    Jun, as you are interested in arcane bits of Soto history, do you know this paper? I read it awhile back and found it very interesting ...
    Ah, thank you. I'm pouring over it now. Much of what is discussed there I was aware of, the Obaku-shu influences I was not aware of however. Obaku-shu history is not something I've delved into. Thank you again.

    Any other point you had in mind about this, Jun?
    Nothing in particular thank you. I was just interested in your opinion on that particular precept. Apparently it was popular in history when the validity of ordinations conferred on monks was in question. This would have no doubt led to considerable abuse.

    Is your own opinion in line with Dogen - in that the precepts ARE enlightenment itself? Or do you side with Dohaku and Menzan?

    Gassho

  21. #21
    Well, apart from my personal doubt about the significance and reliability of someone's seeing "visions" (hallucinations?) in front of Buddha Statues, the rule does not apply in the event a living, breathing Master can be found within a radius of 350 miles (JUNDO NOTE: How does this rule apply, now that our Sangha will be available for an on-line Precepts ceremony early next year???).
    Yes. I was wondering how this type of thing could have possibly have been taken seriously? How does one authenticate another's "visions?"
    What of a kensho then?

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    Well, apart from my personal doubt about the significance and reliability of someone's seeing "visions" (hallucinations?) in front of Buddha Statues, the rule does not apply in the event a living, breathing Master can be found within a radius of 350 miles (JUNDO NOTE: How does this rule apply, now that our Sangha will be available for an on-line Precepts ceremony early next year???).
    Yes. I was wondering how this type of thing could have possibly have been taken seriously? How does one authenticate another's "visions?"
    What of a kensho then?

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn
    What of it?

    Kenshõ (見性) - "seeing one's original nature." Usually Kenshõ is taken to mean a lesser experience or degree of enlightenment or satori. A fleeting awareness. Not as deep and abiding as satori.

    How does one verify this insight in another? How does one authenticate such a state?

  23. #23
    Didn't one of the teachers of old warn to keep the experience of kensho to ourselves and to not fixate on it?

    With a description as vague as "seeing one's original nature" I imagine it would be pretty difficult (if not impossible) to authenticate such a thing for oneself let alone authenticating it for someone else.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn

    What of a kensho then?

    In Gassho~

    *Lynn
    Hi Lynn,

    Ah, THE BIG QUESTION!! .... Kensho and Satori!!

    I am going to move this to its own discussion, as it is the topic that it is.

    Gassho, Jundo

  25. #25
    Well, in my experience only a ratified master was able to confirm that someone had had an authentic kensho. That's all I know so I was curious what others understanding of it was. Honestly, anyone can say "I had a kensho." I guess kensho confirmation is a bit like a dharma transmission from master to disciple in a heart to heart/mind to mind context. Little words are involved in the understanding and sharing.

    But, I cannot claim to have had one myself.

    Gassho~

    *Lynn

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    Well, in my experience only a ratified master was able to confirm that someone had had an authentic kensho.
    And how does this "ratified master" confirm such?

    I guess kensho confirmation is a bit like a dharma transmission from master to disciple in a heart to heart/mind to mind context. Little words are involved in the understanding and sharing.
    Heart to heart/mind to mind "transmission" from teacher to student - how does that work exactly? What are the criteria by which this is to be verified or confirmed?

  27. #27
    Thanks everyone for the interesting information.
    I find it interesting to see what various fields use for 'certification' of their members. I think you can tell a great deal about a group by the criteria it uses to venerate/give authority to practitioners and teachers. Also, these criteria often reveal a kind of cognitive dissonance between the things that the group claims it believes and what it actually does (assuming those actions are supposed to be an outward manifestation of the group's beliefs).

    Thanks,

    Bill

  28. #28
    Back the topic of taking/ receiving the precepts.

    When all is said and done does it really matter if the precept vow is taken with a teacher or on one's own?

    It could be my personal feelings on the matter that are confusing me so I'll state them here.

    To me taking this vow is like taking any other vow, a deeply personal commitment or devotion to the Way. In essence like swearing fealty to the Buddha and by extension the rest of humanity. So I don't see any real purpose to the ceremonial aspect. It doesn't matter if you take them from a certified teacher, an image of the Buddha or a rock in the yard so long as you strive to keep them.

    I can see how maybe a record of ordinations is necessary in order to prevent folks from "self-ordaining" and then claiming to be a certified teacher of X tradition in X's lineage and abusing that for personal gain, but if one is keeping the precepts this shouldn't happen in the first place.

    I suppose that my question may sound a little loaded, but would taking the precepts on one's own somehow make one less a "monk"?

    My second question is what if the person seeking to take the precepts doesn't adhere to the Soto tradition or any other specific school of Zen thought is it then a matter of "any teacher will do"?

  29. #29
    Who certified Shakyamuni Buddha, right?

    G,W

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    To me taking this vow is like taking any other vow, a deeply personal commitment or devotion to the Way. In essence like swearing fealty to the Buddha and by extension the rest of humanity. So I don't see any real purpose to the ceremonial aspect. It doesn't matter if you take them from a certified teacher, an image of the Buddha or a rock in the yard so long as you strive to keep them.
    Yes, but ... (our Practice is filled with lots of "yes, buts ..."). I am with you completely. But, on the other hand, it reminds me of the time I tried to tell my wife that we should skip the wedding, and just run down to city hall, cause it is all the same thing. I was right, of course, but also .... yes, but.

    John Tarrant may sum up the other side of the coin in this portion of his essay.

    Every year around the beginning of winter we do the ceremony of Jukai in the sangha. It is the primary initiation ceremony of zen. The great inner initiation of zen is enlightenment, but meanwhile we do outer initiation ceremonies like Jukai, which have a deep meaning. In Jukai you receive the rakasu, which

    represents the robe of the Buddha, and your connection to all the

    ancient lineage of people who have walked the Way and suffered

    for wisdom and also gained wisdom. You share in their light and

    their effort. You take on a Buddhist name, identifying yourself

    in the tradition in that way.



    You engage with the precepts of the Bodhisattva. There are

    sixteen of them. Pretty much they are common sense undertakings.

    "I take up the way of not killing," "not stealing," "not lying,"

    "not undertaking sexual misconduct," "not misusing drugs."

    Things like that, simple things. "Not indulging in anger," "not

    praising myself while abusing others." And as well as that there

    is taking refuge as part of the precepts. "I take refuge in the

    Buddha." "I take refuge in the dharma." "I take refuge in the

    sangha." Which is the primary act, I suppose, really. To say

    that I trust that there is a Way and I commit myself to it.



    A ceremony is like a wedding, I think of Jukai as being something

    like a wedding, in a way, in that you do something--you

    acknowledge something that was already going forward inside you.

    You make it public among your friends and in your community. So

    it has that value. And it's kind of like a wedding in that there

    are some times when you shouldn't do it, and there's a time when

    you should even if you're hesitating. So, you need to judge

    that--whether you shouldn't do it or whether you should--and be

    faithful to that choice. But if you've really decided that this

    path is for you and you're walking it, then there will come a

    time when you will do it, I think, because it is to acknowledge

    to yourself the importance of wisdom in your life, the importance

    of the inner work.

    http://www.boundlesswayzen.org/teishos/ ... jukai.html
    Master Dogen, by the way, was a major advocate of formal Jukai as almost as important as Zazen.

    In the “Jukai” chapter of the Shobogenzo, Dogen Zenji emphasizes the need to receive and practice the Buddha Precepts for the sake of successively transmitting the righteous teachings. “The Ancestor who teaches the law rightly passed down from Shakyamuni invariably practices receipt of the Buddha Precepts. There can be no Ancestor who does not receive and practice the Buddha Precepts.”... In short, accepting the Buddha Precepts is tantamount to the Dharma that has been successively transmitted from the Buddha.

  31. #31
    Heya Jundo,
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Yes, but ... (our Practice is filled with lots of "yes, buts ..."). I am with you completely. But, on the other hand, it reminds me of the time I tried to tell my wife that we should skip the wedding, and just run down to city hall, cause it is all the same thing. I was right, of course, but also .... yes, but.
    Ok let's see.

    In the case of the wedding you have two routes, both lead to the same end result, marriage. One road is a simple come as you are affair maybe a couple of close friends to serve as witnesses. The other is a grand spectacle, costumes, food, music, ritual, decorations, and other assorted what-nots.

    At the end of the day it still boils down to what the main participants truly want out of the experience of getting married.

    But we all know that memories are also made at the reception afterwards...and there are no rules against having a blow out after a trip to the courthouse.


    Hey Will
    Who certified Shakyamuni Buddha, right?
    Well he indeed certified himself, but (ha! I just did it too) one could also say that we as followers of the Way also certify him when we choose to undertake practice.

  32. #32
    I suppose that my question may sound a little loaded, but would taking the precepts on one's own somehow make one less a "monk"?
    Perhaps to some, especially those who invest time and energy in keeping everyone under monastic/religious control. Me, I don't care what those types think. But hey, I'm the eclectic, maverick kind following the teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi.

    Look back through history at the large number of recognised and famous Zen priests who undertook to ordain themselves.

    That which is the Dharma cannot be simply "passed" on. In the words of Takuan Sõhõ, "The teachings of the Dharma can never be extinguished, it is always there to be found as the Buddha did. It need not depend on an unbroken transmission; it is always there to be rediscovered."

    The Buddha was quite unambiguously clear that there would be no personal succession following his death. He named no heir. The Dharma alone was to be their guide.

    The Buddha himself required only that a bhikkshu have the robes and bowl in order to be accepted into his sangha - no references are made by the Buddha to rituals, ceremonies, rites of passage, special requirements etc. in order to become a monk in his sangha.

    In the “Jukai” chapter of the Shobogenzo, Dogen Zenji emphasizes the need to receive and practice the Buddha Precepts for the sake of successively transmitting the righteous teachings. “The Ancestor who teaches the law rightly passed down from Shakyamuni invariably practices receipt of the Buddha Precepts. There can be no Ancestor who does not receive and practice the Buddha Precepts.”... In short, accepting the Buddha Precepts is tantamount to the Dharma that has been successively transmitted from the Buddha.
    Well, the "lineage" of Zen is bogus, as is the "transmission" from teacher to student. It's all fluff. As early as the 4th century the Chinese were practising Buddhism, and by the 6th century the Tien'tai school had already produced texts on meditation methods. By the 7th century Zen was still not evident. It isn't until the 8th century that we find the first clear idea of a Zen lineage. The whole idea of formal transmission didn't exist until after Huineng in the 8th century.

    Anyhow - PRACTICE is not all this religious-lineage-master-to-student transmission stuff - It's quite simply PRACTICE. All the fluff is attractive, but it isn't the ESSENCE and it certainly isn't necessary for PRACTICE.

    My five cents worth from a jigo jishõ heretic monk!

    Now I'll await a berating from Jundo - after all, it's his sandbox and I'm only here to play.

    Gassho

  33. #33
    Hi Jun,

    Personally, I agree with you completely. Sure.

    But I wonder about the example of Suzuki Shõsan Roshi. My understanding is that he requested and formally received the Precepts in the traditional way (he had been a warrior, and became a monk at age 42). It is just that he did not stick around to complete his training, was an iconoclast after that, and did not receive formal "Dharma Transmission" from his teacher. Search the word "ordination" in this book on his life, then read from the bottom of page 58.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0895819 ... 7-6414260#

    Anyway, it does not matter. What you say is correct. On the other hand, one has to be careful about proclaiming something on one's own without basis. I mean, I can declare myself tonight as Queen of England and Winner of the Noble Prize in Physics, but my self proclamation won't make it so.

    Gassho, Jundo

  34. #34
    Hi there Jundo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Jun,

    Personally, I agree with you completely. Sure.

    But I wonder about the example of Suzuki Shõsan Roshi. My understanding is that he requested and formally received the Precepts in the traditional way (he had been a warrior, and became a monk at age 42). It is just that he did not stick around to complete his training, was an iconoclast after that, and did not receive formal "Dharma Transmission" from his teacher. Search the word "ordination" in this book on his life, then read from the bottom of page 58.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0895819 ... 7-6414260#

    Anyway, it does not matter. What you say is correct. On the other hand, one has to be careful about proclaiming something on one's own without basis. I mean, I can declare myself tonight as Queen of England and Winner of the Noble Prize in Physics, but my self proclamation won't make it so.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Suzuki Shõsan Roshi was already an established Zen teacher before he asked his good friend Daigu if it was necessary to be given a "formal" ordination. He was told by Daigu that it was unnecessary as he was already an established and recognised Dharma teacher and that "ordination" didn't change anything (The reason he kept his own name.)

    What the author of that book fails to mention is that Daigu himself was self-ordained! (Source: Myõshinji records)

    Actually Suzuki Shõsan Roshi received the precepts in Shingon-shu in the form of what is called samanera (novice monk ordination).

    As for sticking around to finish training, he never started! Not under anyone other than Sessõ (together with Genshun in Shingon-shu) which in fact was just a study of the ritsu branch (precepts study). He had already been teaching long before that though.

    and did not receive formal "Dharma Transmission" from his teacher.
    Suzuki Shõsan Roshi NEVER had a teacher! He trained along side many contemporary Dharma teachers from Rinzai-shu, Soto-shu , and Shingon-shu but NEVER had a teacher.

    On the other hand, one has to be careful about proclaiming something on one's own without basis.
    Naturally, one living the Middle Path and following the precepts.

    The reason for self-ordination - for Shõsan Roshi - was that the monasteries had become complacent, and the teachings neglected. The temples had become little more than half-way houses and places for monks to make easy money as funeral directors (something that has NOT changed in Japan today.)

    As far as Shõsan Roshi was concerned the Zen transmission had long ago failed
    and Zen had become little more than a business (sound familiar?)

    In the words of Dokuan Genkõ, "They transmit the robes, but while the name continues; the reality of enlightenment has long ceased to exist."

    In the words of Shõsan Roshi, "The monks today have become like starving ghosts (gaki). They covet the title of 'man of wisdom' - like gaki hungry for wisdom. Then there are those monks who are 'hungry-to-be-leader' gaki, 'fine-robed-with-ranks' gaki, 'temple-loving' gaki, 'Dharma-banner-desiring' gaki, and 'retired-into-fine-housing' gaki. There is not a single one of them who renounces the world."

    The large number of Zen priests who achieved realisation on their own in the Edo jidai is evidence that Shõsan Roshi wasn't alone in this opinion. The likes of Daigu, Ungo, Isshi, Tosui, Gudõ, all were self-ordained.

    My teacher always answers questions of ordination with, "A monk is one who calls himself a monk." (While living the middle path and following the precepts) I tend to agree.

    Monk, priest, student, lay-follower - all just labels.

    While Sõtõ-shu considers us to be no more than lay monks, other Buddhist sects all throughout Asia consider ALL Japanese sects to be no more than lay monks - It's all silly nonsense!

    Oh, thanks for the link to that book, I didn't know about it.

    Gassho

  35. #35
    Thanks for that fellas. Put some things in perspective it did.

    and Harry,

    God Shave the Queen!

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