Hae Min wrote:Clarification: None of the orders in Japan carry the pratimoksha vows anymore. All priests receive ordination via the bodhisattva precepts, thus no vows of celibacy are taken.
They have been taking the bodhisattva precepts only since the 9th century (custom spreading gradually to all schools from Tendai) but marriage was not allowed until the 19th century Meiji reform. Just saying that it wasn't the bodhisattva precepts that made Japanese monks non-celibate.
The Brahma Net precepts were taken in Japan long before that, and were never limited to Tendai. They were a part of Nara Buddhism, along with the Dharmagupta precepts. Just as in China then and now. As a matter of fact, the Great Buddha of Todai-ji is most likely a representation of Vairocana appearing in the Brahma Net Sutra.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C5%8Ddai-jihttp://www.sacred-destinations.com/japan/nara-todaiji
However, the Brahma Net precepts are intended for both lay and monastic practitioners. Celibacy is for the monastic practitioners, who would already hold that vow of course. For lay practitioners (those who have not taken Vinaya, which is basically all of Japanese Buddhism including Japanese clergy today and since the 12th century or earlier, as Hae Min points out), the Brahma Net sutra and commentaries explain that improper sexual relations with a person other than a spouse or in improper ways (improper orifices, during pregnancy, etc.) are not allowed for such a practitioner.
This is an old debate from another board, but because Japanese-tradition clergy do not take authentic Vinaya and have not for centuries, they cannot be expected to keep it. They should absolutely be expected to keep the lay aspects of the Brahma Net precepts, if they have taken them, but of course even that may not often happen, as Huseng has often reported. At the same time, they cannot of course be called bhikshu/nis.
After about the late Heian period (and earlier in some places along with the decay of the Ritsuryo codes), Japanese clergy (except Jodo Shinshu clergy) did not and could not marry because of law, temple regulations, and social custom/expectations--not because of Vinaya itself--until the Meiji period repeal of the law banning marriage. In the Nara and early to mid-Heian periods, Japanese bhikshus and bhikshunis could not marry because of both Vinaya and law. Its not a simple story, and not really a recent one either. The huge influence of Tendai and its offspring was historically not a minor factor in the degrading and eventual loss of Vinaya, however. Political scheming nailed the lid onto the coffin in the 1870's, but Vinaya had been long gone before that.
You can't blame individual Japanese clergy members really, or judge them by standards that don't strictly apply to them. The only solution is the wholesale and significant re-importation to Japan of Vinaya from another country and its re-acceptance, including in lay society of course. I'll keep on daydreaming like this.