Monks/Nuns and Music

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Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby SamKR » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:23 pm

Can a monk or a nun sing songs, or play musical instruments? What does Theravada has to say about this?
If yes, are they restricted to music related to Dhamma?
Or, can't they do any kind of music at all?

I want to ask the same question for Mahayana, Vajrayana, Tibetan Buddhism, and other sects.
I know this is a Theravada forum, but I guess it is allowed to compare different sects.
Last edited by SamKR on Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:29 pm

Hi Sam

A bhikkhu is prohibited from going to see and hear dancing, singing, and music. (In modern circumstances this will also concern films, videos, TV, etc.) This is similar to the Eight and Ten Precepts [see End Note4]. (See EV,II,p.72)

"In the Buddha's time one could only hear music at a live performance — hence seeing singing and music. However, following the Great Standards, it would seem appropriate to include contemporary forms of entertainment such as dancing, singing and music on television, videos, radios, tape-recorders and stereos. Most comprehensively, this applies to seeing or hearing any kind of entertainment like a 'pleasure-enjoying householder.' Listening or seeing for education is another matter." (HS ch.17)
-- The Bhikkhus' Rules: A Guide for Laypeople
-- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... guide.html


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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby SamKR » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:42 pm

Thank you Ben for the quick reply.
A bhikkhu is prohibited from going to see and hear dancing, singing, and music.

If they are not allowed even to see and hear, then I guess it is out of question that they can perform themselves.

Now, I have question related to Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism and other sects.
Do monks/nuns in Buddhism other than Theravada allowed to do music (singing, instruments etc.)?
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby Hoja » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:01 pm

SamKR wrote:Thank you Ben for the quick reply. Now, I have question related to Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism and other sects.
Do monks/nuns in Buddhism other than Theravada allowed to do music (singing, instruments etc.)?


The Komuso monks in the Zen tradition used to play a bamboo flute called Shakuhachi, but they play it as a meditation practice called Suizen, it has not entertaining purposes.
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:41 pm

I didn't realise, until I started looking for the rules, that such prohibitions are not particularly explicitly written into the 227 basic rules of the Bhikkhu Pāṭimokkha: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... -pati.html
I believe what we are discussing here comes under rule 13 here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ti.html#sg
13. In case a bhikkhu living in dependence on a certain village or town is a corrupter of families, a man of depraved conduct — whose depraved conduct is both seen and heard about, and the families he has corrupted are both seen and heard about — the bhikkhus are to admonish him thus: "You, venerable sir, are a corrupter of families, a man of depraved conduct. Your depraved conduct is both seen and heard about, and the families you have corrupted are both seen and heard about. Leave this monastery, venerable sir. Enough of your staying here."

And this is elaborated elsewhere in the Vinaya, as some of the above quotes show.

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby suriyopama » Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:57 am

SamKR wrote: Now, I have question related to Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism and other sects.
Do monks/nuns in Buddhism other than Theravada allowed to do music (singing, instruments etc.)?


Tibetan Monks from Sakya Tashi Ling in Spain have already recorded a couple of commercial CD's and DVD's



http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=monjes+budistas&search_type=&aq=f
http://www.monjesbudistas.net/
http://www.sakyatashiling.org/

I used to live very close to that monastery, at the Garraf Mountain in Barcelona. We did never stay for a meditation retreat, but my thai wife liked to visit the place to make donations in some special days (there are no Thai wats in Spain)
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:01 am

Hoja wrote:
SamKR wrote:Thank you Ben for the quick reply. Now, I have question related to Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism and other sects.
Do monks/nuns in Buddhism other than Theravada allowed to do music (singing, instruments etc.)?


The Komuso monks in the Zen tradition used to play a bamboo flute called Shakuhachi, but they play it as a meditation practice called Suizen, it has not entertaining purposes.


Zen tradition "monks" are not bhiksus, so they don't have the bhiksu pratimoksa as a guide to behavior.
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:02 am

mikenz66 wrote:I didn't realise, until I started looking for the rules, that such prohibitions are not particularly explicitly written into the 227 basic rules of the Bhikkhu Pāṭimokkha: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... -pati.html
I believe what we are discussing here comes under rule 13 here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ti.html#sg
13. In case a bhikkhu living in dependence on a certain village or town is a corrupter of families, a man of depraved conduct — whose depraved conduct is both seen and heard about, and the families he has corrupted are both seen and heard about — the bhikkhus are to admonish him thus: "You, venerable sir, are a corrupter of families, a man of depraved conduct. Your depraved conduct is both seen and heard about, and the families you have corrupted are both seen and heard about. Leave this monastery, venerable sir. Enough of your staying here."

And this is elaborated elsewhere in the Vinaya, as some of the above quotes show.

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See also the Gita sutta.
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby Individual » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:02 am

suriyopama wrote:
SamKR wrote: Now, I have question related to Mahayana/Tibetan Buddhism and other sects.
Do monks/nuns in Buddhism other than Theravada allowed to do music (singing, instruments etc.)?


Tibetan Monks from Sakya Tashi Ling in Spain have already recorded a couple of commercial CD's and DVD's



http://www.monjesbudistas.net/
http://www.sakyatashiling.org/

I used to live very close to that monastery, at the Garraf Mountain in Barcelona. We did never stay for a meditation retreat, but my thai wife liked to visit the place to make donations in some special days (there are no Thai wats in Spain)

I suspect that different Mahayana sects have different standards.
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:03 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:See also the Gita sutta.

Yes, I'm aware of various Suttas which talk about this issue. It just seemed strange that it wasn't so explicitly in the Pāṭimokkha rules.

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:20 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:See also the Gita sutta.

Yes, I'm aware of various Suttas which talk about this issue. It just seemed strange that it wasn't so explicitly in the Pāṭimokkha rules.

Mike


hmmm, I don't have a copy of the Theravada Pāṭimokkha at hand, but it is in the Pratimoksa of other schools.
And of course, it is already in the sramanera/-ika 10 precepts, too.
Draw what conclusions you will ... :thinking:
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:22 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:hmmm, I don't have a copy of the Theravada Pāṭimokkha at hand, but it is in the Pratimoksa of other schools.
Draw what conclusions you will ... :thinking:

Well, I may have missed it. This is the entire Theravada version, I believe: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... -pati.html

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby BlackBird » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:37 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:hmmm, I don't have a copy of the Theravada Pāṭimokkha at hand, but it is in the Pratimoksa of other schools.
Draw what conclusions you will ... :thinking:

Well, I may have missed it. This is the entire Theravada version, I believe: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... -pati.html

Mike


Hello Bhante, Mike.

From the BMC II Chapter 10 by Ven. Thanissaro

There is a dukkaṭa for going to see dancing, singing, or music. According to the Commentary, dancing includes going to see even peacocks dancing. It also includes dancing oneself and getting others to dance. (The Roṇa Sutta — AN III.103 — notes that, in the discipline of the noble ones, dancing counts as insanity.) Singing includes drama music as well as "sādhu music," which the Commentary to Bhikkhunī Pc 10 defines as songs sung "at the time of the total Unbinding of a noble one, connected with the virtues of the Triple Gem." The Sub-commentary to Cv.V.36 defines it as music dealing with Dhamma themes such as impermanence. Other religious music would come under this prohibition as well. The Commentary adds that singing also includes singing oneself and getting others to sing. The same holds true for "playing music." (The Roṇa Sutta also notes that, in the discipline of the noble ones, singing counts as wailing.) However, there is no offense in snapping one's fingers or clapping one's hands in irritation or exasperation. There is also no offense if, within the monastery, one happens to see/hear dancing, singing, or music, but if one goes from one dwelling to another with the intention to see/hear, one incurs a dukkaṭa. The same holds true for getting up from one's seat with the intention to see/hear; or if, while standing in a road, one turns one's neck to see.

- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch10.html

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby SamKR » Wed Oct 28, 2009 6:12 am

Thanks everybody for your interesting posts.
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby BudSas » Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:See also the Gita sutta.

Yes, I'm aware of various Suttas which talk about this issue. It just seemed strange that it wasn't so explicitly in the Pāṭimokkha rules.

Mike


It is listed as a "dukkata" (wrong doing) in Cullavagga, Chapter 5, of the Vinaya Pitaka.

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:46 am

BudSas wrote:It is listed as a "dukkata" (wrong doing) in Cullavagga, Chapter 5, of the Vinaya Pitaka.

Yes, but I was referring to the 227 rules.

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby BudSas » Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:
BudSas wrote:It is listed as a "dukkata" (wrong doing) in Cullavagga, Chapter 5, of the Vinaya Pitaka.

Yes, but I was referring to the 227 rules.

Mike


As fas as I know, it's not listed in the Patimokkha.

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby bhikkhuni sobhana » Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:03 pm

In our Theravada Monastery, (SL tradition partly influenced by Thai forest standards) we understand that "musical chanting" is prohibited by this khandaka rule. By "musical chanting" we draw the line, in practice, by not intentionally mispronouncing the pali or english for the sake of a tune. Now here is the story:

Cullavaga V.33.1 = Vin.II.139:

Now at that time Yameḷu and Tekula were the names of two monkks who were brothers, brahmans by birth, with lovely voices, with lovely enunciation. They approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, they sat down at a respectful distance, these monks spoke thus to the Lord: "at present Lord, monks of various names, various clans, various social strata have gone forth from various families; these corrupt the speech of the Awakened One in using his own dialect.1. Now we, Lord, give the speech of the Awakened One in metrical form." 2. the Awakened One, the Lord rebuked them saying: How can you, foolish men, speak thus: 'Now we, Lord, give the speech of the Awakened One in metrical form'? It is not, foolish men for pleasing them who are not (yet) pleased, not for increasing the number of those who are pleased, but, monks, it is displeasing to those who are not pleased as well as to those who are pleased, and it causes wavering in some." And having rebuked them, having given reasoned talk, he addressed the monks, saying, "monks, the speech of the Awakened One should not be given in metrical form. Whoever should (so) give it, there is an offence of wrong-doing. I allow you monks to learn the speech of the Awakened one according to his own dialect.
• 1. sakkāya niruttiyā. V A. 1214 says the current Magadhese manner of speech according to the awakened one.
• 2. Chandaso āropema. V A. 1214 explains "we give (āropema) a way of speech according to the honoured dialect like a Veda." So, Buddhaghosa thought this meant they put in the dialect of the Vedas.
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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby Bankei » Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:22 pm

The learned and respected vice-abbot at my neighbouring Wat in Thailand like R&B music. It can be heard sometimes from his kuti. Most of the monks in the Wat like to watch movies and I was surprised to find out my favourite monk there is into Korean dramas which he watched on his mobile phone.

Once some of the monks smuggled TV and game (Playstation?) console in and they all stayed up late playing games. Some of them even missed bindabat the next morning.

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Re: Monks/Nuns and Music

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:55 am

Greetings Bankei,

That is rather saddening.

If I were to go into the homeless life, I would not have any of my music CDs with me (and believe me, there's a few) and that is a sacrifice I would make, and it would be a sacrifice commensurate with the gravity of the choice at hand.

If they're doing these things, what have they actually renounced? If they can't even adhere to the 8 precepts, what hope of 227 or so?

:?

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