Monastic vows

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philji
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Monastic vows

Post by philji » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:35 pm

Can anyone explain why it is that in the Theravada tradition they strictly follow vows including not eating after noon, not touching money etc whereas Tibetan monks do not except in certain ocasions. Is it that the Bodhisattva and tantric vows take precedence?

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:30 am

philji wrote:Can anyone explain why it is that in the Theravada tradition they strictly follow vows including not eating after noon, not touching money etc whereas Tibetan monks do not except in certain ocasions. Is it that the Bodhisattva and tantric vows take precedence?
The Tibetan tradition maintains the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, which more or less has the same expectations of bhikṣus as the Theravada Vinaya.

Edit1:[...]

Tibetan monks if they have full precepts are technically according to their vinaya not supposed to do a lot of things, but meanwhile dinner is served daily and monthly allowances in cash are dispensed. It isn't an issue for them or the people in charge.

In actual practice, the Vinaya is just a suggestion. Edit 2 [...]
Last edited by Ayu on Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: For the sake of Right Speech

philji
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Re: Monastic vows

Post by philji » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:34 am

Thanks Indrajala. I know a monk within the Forest tradition of Thailand here in UK and he seems to be very strict about upholding his vows.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:44 pm

philji wrote:Thanks Indrajala. I know a monk within the Forest tradition of Thailand here in UK and he seems to be very strict about upholding his vows.
He's the exception, not the rule.

philji
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Re: Monastic vows

Post by philji » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:19 pm

Whether he is exception or not is not my question. I am just trying to discover if tibetan monks and those of theravada follow different rules, can one pick and choose which vows to take at different times. Can one for practical reasons let go of some rules such as touching money when travelling etc. :shrug:

Malcolm
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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:22 pm

philji wrote:Can anyone explain why it is that in the Theravada tradition they strictly follow vows including not eating after noon, not touching money etc whereas Tibetan monks do not except in certain ocasions. Is it that the Bodhisattva and tantric vows take precedence?
Yes, there is rather large Mahāyāna literature devoted to the comportment of Mahāyāna bhikṣus, one of which can be read in Chang's Compendium of Ratnakuta sutras. In this literature, the Buddha makes it very clear how the conduct of a Mahāyāna bhikṣu contradicts the conduct of a bhikṣu who has not entered Mahāyāna.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:22 pm

philji wrote:Whether he is exception or not is not my question. I am just trying to discover if tibetan monks and those of theravada follow different rules, can one pick and choose which vows to take at different times. Can one for practical reasons let go of some rules such as touching money when travelling etc. :shrug:
There's no universal answer to your question.

Precepts are just social conventions. If you don't feel obligated to follow them and there's no social stigma attached to non-adherence, then there's really no issue.

Whether people are expected to maintain certain precepts is really decided by their community's collective consensus on what should be followed. Even then, you can skirt the rules easily enough.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:11 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Precepts are just social conventions.
From a Tibetan Buddhist point of view, based on how we read the Abhidharmakośa:
  • Morality, good conduct, action and discipline
-- Abhk 4:16a-b, Pruden

Thus the vows are actually a form of action which has results — positive ones when followed, negative ones when broken.

One's abiding in a state of virtue or non-virtue derived from receiving any of the three vows is not dependent upon whether anyone else knows about it or not. It is dependent upon whether or not one has taken proper efforts to guard one's vows carefully.

Phil, you need to read Kongtrul's Buddhist ethics.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:26 pm

Malcolm wrote: One's abiding in a state of virtue or non-virtue derived from receiving any of the three vows is not dependent upon whether anyone else knows about it or not. It is dependent upon whether or not one has taken proper efforts to guard one's vows carefully.
Meanwhile in reality it doesn't work like that. Monasteries serve lunch at 12:00pm on the dot and dinner in the evening.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by philji » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:30 pm

Malcolm, thanks for the info you have provided, very useful. O and thanks for the link to Jamgon Kongtruls Buddhist Ethics...will search it out.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:45 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: One's abiding in a state of virtue or non-virtue derived from receiving any of the three vows is not dependent upon whether anyone else knows about it or not. It is dependent upon whether or not one has taken proper efforts to guard one's vows carefully.
Meanwhile in reality it doesn't work like that. Monasteries serve lunch at 12:00pm on the dot and dinner in the evening.
In reality is does work out like that, if you happen to believe in karma.

As far as lunch and dinner are concerned, since all Tibetan monks are Mahāyānists, Mahāyāna Bhikṣus needn't be so concerned with these details, since their motivation for practice is more important that adhering to this or that rule. Nevertheless, the act of receiving the three vows in itself is a virtue, and one should endeavor as best one can to uphold the three vows, and purify one's downfalls immediately and daily. This is how we practice vowed conduct in Tibetan Buddhism. I don't really care how they do it in other schools, but this question was posed in the Tibetan Buddhist forum.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:03 pm

Malcolm wrote: In reality is does work out like that, if you happen to believe in karma.
This is just your interpretation of karma. It is a subjective religious belief.


Edit3 [...]

philji
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Re: Monastic vows

Post by philji » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:30 pm

Mal com your comment about Mahayanists caring more for benefitting beings and practicing rather than keeping loads of rules makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks.

Malcolm
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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Malcolm » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:34 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: In reality is does work out like that, if you happen to believe in karma.
This is just your interpretation of karma. It is a subjective religious belief.
This is not a secular humanist forum, this is 1) a Mahāyāna Buddhist forum 2) The Tibetan Buddhism subforum.

Second, this is how it is explained by Vasubandhu.

Now, you might have decided that Buddhadharma is a bunch of religious nonsense, and have no further interest in it apart from getting a degree in Buddhology so you can feed yourself, but I think it is fair to say that most of us participating here take these "subjective religious beliefs" quite seriously.

As far as lunch and dinner are concerned, since all Tibetan monks are Mahāyānists, Mahāyāna Bhikṣus needn't be so concerned with these details, since their motivation for practice is more important that adhering to this or that rule.


What a convenient way to move around the goal posts. Here you are preaching the need to guard one's vows carefully, but then make a convenient exception.
In his discussion of the pratimokṣa vows of Mahāyāna system, Sapan states:
  • Here, these observances that are concerned
    with the elements of evil and unwholesomeness
    are mostly kept as in the Disciple's system,
    while certain desireless offenses are treated
    in accord with that of bodhisattvas.

    Behavior that, in the view both systems,
    would cause worldlings to lose faith
    is strenuously guarded against; a lapse
    is allowed in the Individual Liberation discipline
    if the Great Vehicle if it induces worldings to virtue.
-- Rhoton, 2002, SUNY, pg. 46.

In other words, bhikṣus eating dinner is not an issue for a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Handling gold and money is not an issue as long as it is for the benefit of the Dharma, so on and so forth.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by mañjughoṣamaṇi » Fri Jan 30, 2015 5:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: In reality is does work out like that, if you happen to believe in karma.
This is just your interpretation of karma. It is a subjective religious belief.
This is not a secular humanist forum, this is 1) a Mahāyāna Buddhist forum 2) The Tibetan Buddhism subforum.
As an aside, it is also not mainstream in academics as far as the humanities or social sciences go (this is true even within emergent trends in evolutionary and biological sciences). Belief (which is semiotic and something by which other input is interpreted) is not epiphenomenal, but a first order principle of our phenomenal experience. To argue otherwise is just perpetuating Cartesian substance dualism. Arguing that because belief in karma is not efficacious in motivating the behavior of some means it is not motivational for any is a weak argument.
སེམས་རྣམ་པར་གྲོལ་བར་བྱའི་ཕྱིར་བྱམས་པ་བསྒོམ་པར་བྱའོ།
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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Sat Jan 31, 2015 5:12 am

Malcolm wrote: This is not a secular humanist forum, this is 1) a Mahāyāna Buddhist forum 2) The Tibetan Buddhism subforum.

Second, this is how it is explained by Vasubandhu.

Now, you might have decided that Buddhadharma is a bunch of religious nonsense, and have no further interest in it apart from getting a degree in Buddhology so you can feed yourself, but I think it is fair to say that most of us participating here take these "subjective religious beliefs" quite seriously.
Did I deny karma anywhere? No. I'm simply saying you have your own interpretation, and it is not definitive nor the final word on the matter. Edit 4 [...]

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:11 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Second, this is how it is explained by Vasubandhu.
No. I'm simply saying you have your own interpretation, and it is not definitive nor the final word on the matter. .
It is obviously not merely my opinion, since I provided a quotation from Sapan, Vasubandhu, etc. You on the other hand have provided no citations at all, so we can truly say you are merely voicing your own subjective opinion without any reference to any established authority.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:23 pm

Edit 5 [...]
If you want the basic meaning of karma, you can cite the Buddha. In the Aṅguttara Nikāya:
  • Cetanāhaṁ bhikkhave kammaṁ vadāmi, cetayitvā kammaṁ karoti kāyena vācāya manasā.
    "Oh monks, I say that action is volition; after having willed it, one accomplishes action by means of the body, the voice and the mind."
That is the most basic meaning of karma. From this all sorts of theories emerged. Vasubandhu looks at a lot of them in his works.

Karma in early Buddhism is generally understood as being meritorious action (puṇyakarma) / favourable action (kuśalakarma), demeritorious action (apuṇyakarma) / unfavourable action (akuśalakarma), or immovable action (āniñjyakarma).

Asanga's remarks are worth citing in this respect:
  • The results of favorable and unfavorable actions are produced in the good and bad destinies (sugati, durgati). This also, through the projecting action (ākṣepaka-karma) and the completing action (paripūraka-karma). What is projecting action? It is the action by means of which the result of fruition is produced. What is completing action? It is the action by means of which, after having been born, one experiences good and bad results.
Asanga, Abhidharmasamuccaya The Compendium of the Higher Teaching (Philosophy). Translated into French and annotated by Walpola Rahula, English translation by Sara Boin-Webb (Fremont, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 2001), 115-116.

As a result of such ideas, the Vinaya literature would have all intentional infractions of precepts as apuṇyakarma / akuśalakarma, the penalty for which is rebirth in some hell (the projecting action) and some torture in some terrible hell for X number of years or kalpas (the completing action), just because of the apparent force of the precepts and knowing betrayal of the Buddha's law, as if they're the Ten Commandments.

So, as a monk or even layperson it is actually quite risky, if you really believe in the words of the vinaya, to suggest that "Mahāyāna Bhikṣus needn't be so concerned with these details, since their motivation for practice is more important that adhering to this or that rule."

The reason being that if they're not so positively motivated (and we can't imagine everyone really is), a terrible fate in hell awaits them for slight infractions which may easily be forgotten and not addressed through the proper methods. Technically speaking, a bhikṣu has to confess every single infraction otherwise they're not a "pure bhikṣu", and if they don't it is the hell realms for them.

Of course in general almost nobody really believes it works like this, because if they did they'd probably become unpopular and neurotic really quick. It also just goes to show you there's a variety of opinions (and they're just subjective opinions) about the relationship between karma and precepts.

Any concept of Buddhist karma is an unfalsifiable truth claim. It is therefore entirely subjective and based on intuition, opinion and personal confirmation. That's why there's so many different ideas about it. If you take everything seriously, you'd be terrified of slight infractions of precepts, even as a layman, and wouldn't trust your fallible altruistic motivations.
Edit 6 [...]


So, you state, "One's abiding in a state of virtue or non-virtue derived from receiving any of the three vows is not dependent upon whether anyone else knows about it or not. It is dependent upon whether or not one has taken proper efforts to guard one's vows carefully." However, the whole meaning of "guarding one's vows" and what exactly that is supposed to require is a topic with many diverse opinions historically, and some positions would suggest being incorrect is literally going to send you to hell (wrong view and all that).

Basically, most people just make up their own mind on such issues regardless of what scriptures and Buddhist theorists say, and hope to get on in life.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Malcolm » Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:21 pm

Indrajala wrote:
So, as a monk or even layperson it is actually quite risky, if you really believe in the words of the vinaya, to suggest that "Mahāyāna Bhikṣus needn't be so concerned with these details, since their motivation for practice is more important that adhering to this or that rule."
As Nagolo Khenchen states in his The Lamp of the Path of Freedom and Omniscience:
  • Therefore, even though one takes life and does not practice celibacy, such actions can be permissible, but engaging in these actions for one’s own benefit through desire, hatred and confusion is not permitted for anyone. Likewise, making offerings to the Three Jewels and making donations to beggars by stealing the property of the greedy, lying in order to protect sentient beings against being killed and so on, calumny to separate others from nonvirtuous friends, using harsh speech to place those in the Dharma with forceful methods who cannot be swayed with gentle speech, protesting hidden flaws by giving instruction and so on, are permitted.
As I said, the general POV in Tibetan Buddhism is that the ten nonvirtues are permissible if they are to benefit others.
So, you state, "One's abiding in a state of virtue or non-virtue derived from receiving any of the three vows is not dependent upon whether anyone else knows about it or not. It is dependent upon whether or not one has taken proper efforts to guard one's vows carefully." However, the whole meaning of "guarding one's vows" and what exactly that is supposed to require is a topic with many diverse opinions historically, and some positions would suggest being incorrect is literally going to send you to hell (wrong view and all that).

Basically, most people just make up their own mind on such issues regardless of what scriptures and Buddhist theorists say, and hope to get on in life.
Basically, nothing you cite contradicts anything that I have said —— and more to the point, it does not contradict the general TIBETAN BUDDHIST point of view on the matter.
...some positions would suggest being incorrect is literally going to send you to hell (wrong view and all that).
This would be the general Tibetan Buddhist viewpoint. The Bodhicaryāvatara states:
  • Those who wish to guard their discipline
    must guard their minds strictly.
    If one does not guard the mind,
    one will not be able to fully guard one’s training.
    Drunk wild elephants
    do not cause as much harm as
    the harm of Avici caused
    by the unrestrained elephant of the mind.
    If the elephant of the mind is always restrained
    with the rope of mindfulness,
    all fears will not exist
    and all virtue will come into one’s hand.

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Re: Monastic vows

Post by Huseng » Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:42 pm

Edit 7 [...]

My point is really that almost nobody really believes in things so dogmatically, which is why monks eat dinner and don't feel bad about it. Edit 8 [...]

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