Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post Reply
Temicco
Posts: 168
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:47 am

Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Temicco » Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:08 pm

When people ordain in Zen traditions, what rules etc. are they ordaining to? I have heard that Japanese Zen doesn't really use the vinaya, but this is an area I don't know anything about. I am particularly interested in Japanese Zen for this question.
"Deliberate upon that which does not deliberate."
-Yaoshan Weiyan

"Right now if students are in fact truly genuine, source teachers can contact their potential and activate it with a single word or phrase, or a single act or scene."
-Yuanwu Keqin

User avatar
Dan74
Founding Member
Posts: 2476
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Lyss, Switzerland

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Dan74 » Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:18 pm

More knowledgable people will hopefully reply, but since the Meiji restoration, it's been the Bodhisattva vows, rather than Vinaya, if I remember correctly.

Some Zen monastics keep Vinaya though even in Japan. Morinaga Roshi of Rinzai maintained celibacy and possibly other monastic precepts voluntarily, for exanple.

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 457
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Meido » Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:00 am

Dan74 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:18 pm
More knowledgable people will hopefully reply, but since the Meiji restoration, it's been the Bodhisattva vows, rather than Vinaya, if I remember correctly.

Some Zen monastics keep Vinaya though even in Japan. Morinaga Roshi of Rinzai maintained celibacy and possibly other monastic precepts voluntarily, for exanple.
I'm not necessarily more knowledgeable. But as many here can explain, a full vinaya never really took root in most of Japanese Buddhism, and use of solely the Bodhisattva precepts (3 refuges of course, 3 pure precepts, and 10 grave precepts) have been the norm for ordination since the middle ages, so much earlier than Meiji. This is certainly the norm in Japanese Zen.

In the observance of these, note that celibacy was (at least officially) still a given for most of history. When we talk about the famous masters, e.g. Otokan lineage founders, Dogen, Muso, etc., and later people like Hakuin, we are still talking about centuries when celibacy was expected of ordained people in Japan.

Meiji government relaxed this by decree, and it has become common in Zen for ordained men to remain celibate during a few years of initial monastic practice, and then to have the option to marry and have children afterward. But in some (though not all) Zen sects, celibacy continues to be required for certain positions, for example the shike of a monastery who is empowered to take and guide disciples. And of course, there are people who remain in the sodo for years, or do not marry by choice. But ordained women do not, as far as I know, have the option to marry at all.

So it's not one size fits all.

The other thing is that Zen has its own teachings regarding the inner meaning of these precepts, and realizing them from that standpoint is considered more important than (though not negating) the common standpoint. This is a crucial point.

I'm guessing this has all been hashed over here before, a search might reveal details.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

User avatar
Dan74
Founding Member
Posts: 2476
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Lyss, Switzerland

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Dan74 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:10 am

Thank you for clearing this up, Meido. :namaste:

Apologies for the confusion.

Temicco
Posts: 168
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Temicco » Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:51 pm

Meido wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:00 am
Dan74 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:18 pm
More knowledgable people will hopefully reply, but since the Meiji restoration, it's been the Bodhisattva vows, rather than Vinaya, if I remember correctly.

Some Zen monastics keep Vinaya though even in Japan. Morinaga Roshi of Rinzai maintained celibacy and possibly other monastic precepts voluntarily, for exanple.
I'm not necessarily more knowledgeable. But as many here can explain, a full vinaya never really took root in most of Japanese Buddhism, and use of solely the Bodhisattva precepts (3 refuges of course, 3 pure precepts, and 10 grave precepts) have been the norm for ordination since the middle ages, so much earlier than Meiji. This is certainly the norm in Japanese Zen.

In the observance of these, note that celibacy was (at least officially) still a given for most of history. When we talk about the famous masters, e.g. Otokan lineage founders, Dogen, Muso, etc., and later people like Hakuin, we are still talking about centuries when celibacy was expected of ordained people in Japan.

Meiji government relaxed this by decree, and it has become common in Zen for ordained men to remain celibate during a few years of initial monastic practice, and then to have the option to marry and have children afterward. But in some (though not all) Zen sects, celibacy continues to be required for certain positions, for example the shike of a monastery who is empowered to take and guide disciples. And of course, there are people who remain in the sodo for years, or do not marry by choice. But ordained women do not, as far as I know, have the option to marry at all.

So it's not one size fits all.

The other thing is that Zen has its own teachings regarding the inner meaning of these precepts, and realizing them from that standpoint is considered more important than (though not negating) the common standpoint. This is a crucial point.

I'm guessing this has all been hashed over here before, a search might reveal details.
Thanks for clarifying.

Where do robes and shaved heads fit into things? They don't seem to be part of the bodhisatva precepts, if I'm not mistaken.
"Deliberate upon that which does not deliberate."
-Yaoshan Weiyan

"Right now if students are in fact truly genuine, source teachers can contact their potential and activate it with a single word or phrase, or a single act or scene."
-Yuanwu Keqin

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 457
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Meido » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:04 pm

The point is that use in Japan of solely the bodhisattva precepts (i.e. in place of full Dharmaguptaka vinaya followed.by bodhisattva precepts, as in China) happened for several reasons, but in any case has always been viewed in Japan as an essentially valid monastic ordination. Robes and shaving of hair go with that.

Again, for most of history ordained people in Japan - even if they were not technically bhiksu/bhiksuni - lived and practiced in ways we would call monastic. Zen especially as you probably know has a very well developed monastic life and codes. Especially since Meiji, it's more individual: you can see ordained Zen "priests" wearing civilian clothes when not living in a monastery or performing religious functions, while there are others who mostly don't.

Not to stretch this too far, but we could say that in modern Zen there are simultaneously people who correspond to Catholic contemplative brothers or sisters, to Protestant ministers who marry, to lay deacons with some ceremonial and ministerial responsibilities, etc.

Basically, there is flexibility which to my mind is a good thing. As long as we clear up the confusion regarding precept loads and resultant expectations, it should be no problem. Titles too: there is no separate word in Japanese signifying that an ordained person is non celibate, and so in the west you have some ordained people who are married and living non-monastically calling themselves "monks." This is kind of absurd. Use of the word priest to clarify this also has problems. We're still figuring it out here.

Anyway, nothing ever stops anyone from dropping pointless activities and devoting their whole lives to practice, if that's what they want to do. Of course if someone does that it hardly matters if they are ordained or lay, etc. From the inner understanding of the precepts, one kills any time dualistic perception arises; one breaks the precept forbidding intoxication whenever habitual ignorance manifests. Etc. Basically we are all breaking all the precepts, all of the time, regardless of clothes and hairstyle.

Sorry for the long answer, you were only asking about robes and hair...
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

Matylda
Posts: 642
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Matylda » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:07 am

Temicco wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:08 pm
When people ordain in Zen traditions, what rules etc. are they ordaining to? I have heard that Japanese Zen doesn't really use the vinaya, but this is an area I don't know anything about. I am particularly interested in Japanese Zen for this question.
Generaly since Saicho times in Japan it was bodhisattva ordination which was popular. It was tendai which was responsible for that. Early zen in Japan was tendai derived institution in fact. As for rinzai monasteries they had official affiliation with tendai until 16th century, when Oda Nobunaga crushed militar power of Hieizan.
In fact there was no difference between bhikshu kind of life and zen monastics... you could almost say no difference. Moreover monastic rules, called shingi in zen were ver strict. Since Tokugawa gov took power made out of the shingi and monastic vows secuar law as well.. it meant that breaking some crucial vows was sending an individual to prison. So the secular, state law and monastic law both were rather severe...

Technically there is some difference in ordination in japanese soto and rinzai.
If one strictly observe rinzai ordination then actually a novice receives first vinaya kind of precepts.. There are 10 as I remember. They are concerned time for meals etc. just as regular novice vinaya.. it is in rinzai manuals.

Soto ordination does not really is concerned with it. As far as robes etc. one receives them before getting precepts, and they have thier own vows, it takes some time to go through it.

However I have seen both in rinzai and soto, that some ordination masters simply make short cut in the ceremony... in extreme cases I had heard of some who even did not do the ceremony but only registered a disciple as a monk :D

As Meido Roshi wrote Meiji gov relaxed the rules.. in fact it was much more dramatic. in the end of 60 and early 70 of the 19th century Japanese gov had severe antibuddhist policy. Many monks and nuns as well were abused, phisically attacked, even arrested for no reason, chased out of monasteries and temples.Many temples were destroyed, many precious texts were lost, as well as figures and many many items. why?

though previous Tokugawa was strict with religious institutions also made them part of the state administration. Temples had to serve gov specially they had to keep lists of families, members of the families etc. why? since shogun's gov was very affraid of Japanese christians. In the Japan history last heavy fights were with christian rebels.. tens of thousands of peaple were killed and they were pretty fanatic. It originated from some power struggle initiated by European priests who tried to make Japan a subject of Vatican.. result was tragic.

it ia why christianity was forbidden and buddhist temples were forced to watch over population. Then Meiji simply attacking buddhist temples was in fact attacking an old order of shogunate. So it was no euphemistic relaxation of rules, rather dramatic situation, moreover monasteries and temples were taken away of their incaome and land, what caused severe life conditions in temples.. in fact in many places monks were almost starving, tuberculosis quickly took its tall, and training was seriously threatened.

When gov made edict which ended celibacy, vegetarian diet, and promoted marriage, then abbots of soto Eiheiji and Sojiji as well as rinzai abbots issued their own edict forbbiding monks to follow gov orders. But to no avail. 90% of soto priests got wives.. in rinzai much less. And some temples made a rule that only celibate monks could be their abbots, and in some only celibate manks can stay on their grounds. It is followed more or less by these temples till today.. it is in rinzai.

Soto is completely unconcerned anymore with the issue of celibacy though one may find monks or teachers who still follow it. Maybe it is 1% of all priests in soto.. I do not know.. nobody is making research I guess.

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 457
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Meido » Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:53 pm

Than you for that infornation Matylda. I hoped you would write something in this topic.
Matylda wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:07 am
If one strictly observe rinzai ordination then actually a novice receives first vinaya kind of precepts.. There are 10 as I remember. They are concerned time for meals etc. just as regular novice vinaya.. it is in rinzai manuals.
Yes, i have seen this in our manual: the candidate for bodhisattva precept ordination is called shami (sramanera), meaning one is supposed to have received those 10 precepts previously as a novice. In the west i have not seen anyone else doing this: people often ordain using just the bodhisattva precepts in one ceremony...so the shortcut is probably the norm here.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

Matylda
Posts: 642
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 3:32 pm

Re: Ordainment of Zen monastics?

Post by Matylda » Mon Jul 30, 2018 5:10 pm

Meido wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:53 pm
Than you for that infornation Matylda. I hoped you would write something in this topic.
Matylda wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:07 am
If one strictly observe rinzai ordination then actually a novice receives first vinaya kind of precepts.. There are 10 as I remember. They are concerned time for meals etc. just as regular novice vinaya.. it is in rinzai manuals.
Yes, i have seen this in our manual: the candidate for bodhisattva precept ordination is called shami (sramanera), meaning one is supposed to have received those 10 precepts previously as a novice. In the west i have not seen anyone else doing this: people often ordain using just the bodhisattva precepts in one ceremony...so the shortcut is probably the norm here.
:D well I meant the short cut some Japanese priests do when ordaining someone, I have no clue how it is followed in the West. Anyway these shramanera vows show something interesting. One should see how does it look in tendai, since it could be still its origin. Though I knew some tendai priests, but never talked about ordination.

Post Reply

Return to “Zen”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 23 guests