We need new rules

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Re: We need new rules

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:04 am

alan wrote: Let's start with getting rid of all the accumulated junk.


I'm still not clear how we define "accumulated junk", or cultural baggage or whatever. It seems to me that Buddhism always expresses itself through local culture, and modern Buddhism is no exception.
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Re: We need new rules

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:12 am

The Vinayas we have definitely reflect later developments to various degrees, so the things were considered readily open to additions, for a time at least. Some of these seem culture-specific to a certain extent, perhaps, but I think this indicates the exercise of the spirit of the thing by the early Sangha, which is a nice example of those who, best situated to understand the import of the foundation, were tasked with making wise additions for emergent issues. It helps give the proper taste, in other words, I think, but it quickly becomes quite culture-specific...

I guess any modern monastically-demarcated area could have discussion and take a monastic vote, according to Vinaya, about whether or not to add certain rules for a specific location, in response to lay concern? Maybe the stuff that was already added due to lay concern can be removed, if the (local?) laity don't care one whit any longer?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Mr Man » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:29 am

daverupa wrote:I guess any modern monastically-demarcated area could have discussion and take a monastic vote, according to Vinaya, about whether or not to add certain rules for a specific location, in response to lay concern? Maybe the stuff that was already added due to lay concern can be removed, if the (local?) laity don't care one whit any longer?


An example of this would be the UK monasteries under the then guidance of Ajahn Sumedho, implemented a rule that monks should cover the upper torso at all times (in public areas) and should not go bare shoulder. It was thought that bare shoulder would be seen as a sign of impropriety by the local population.
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Aloka » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:46 am

Mr Man wrote: ]

An example of this would be the UK monasteries under the then guidance of Ajahn Sumedho, implemented a rule that monks should cover the upper torso at all times ....



I think I'd find it very distracting if I went to Amaravati monastery and saw monks with bare upper torsos walking around !


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Re: We need new rules

Postby gavesako » Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:25 pm

They have relaxed this rule in some monasteries including Amaravati now, so you might come across monks in the summer walking around with a bare shoulder.

If anyone thinks it is easy to simply "get rid of old junk and start afresh" in a new territory, they can read about some recent attempts to do that:

Establishing monastic Buddhism in the UK: an uphill struggle

http://vajratool.wordpress.com/2010/05/ ... -struggle/
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:36 pm

daverupa wrote:I guess any modern monastically-demarcated area could have discussion and take a monastic vote, according to Vinaya, about whether or not to add certain rules for a specific location, in response to lay concern?


In a sense this is already permitted and practised.

In the injunction against creating new ordinances or abolishing existing ones, the term (paññatti) indicates that the disapproved conduct is that of attempting to add to or substract from the canonical Vinaya corpus binding upon the whole of the monastic sangha. It does not, however, preclude the establishment of in-house rules binding only upon the monks residing in the monastery that establishes them. These are called 'decisions' (katikā) and the sangha has been making them from very early days. We know this because one of the rules about appropriate conduct for a visiting monk is that when he first arrives in a monastery he should enquire of the resident monks concerning the katikā that are in force in that community.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: We need new rules

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:29 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
daverupa wrote:I guess any modern monastically-demarcated area could have discussion and take a monastic vote, according to Vinaya, about whether or not to add certain rules for a specific location, in response to lay concern?


In a sense this is already permitted and practised.

In the injunction against creating new ordinances or abolishing existing ones, the term (paññatti) indicates that the disapproved conduct is that of attempting to add to or substract from the canonical Vinaya corpus binding upon the whole of the monastic sangha. It does not, however, preclude the establishment of in-house rules binding only upon the monks residing in the monastery that establishes them. These are called 'decisions' (katikā) and the sangha has been making them from very early days. We know this because one of the rules about appropriate conduct for a visiting monk is that when he first arrives in a monastery he should enquire of the resident monks concerning the katikā that are in force in that community.


Brilliant, thank you, and now: what problems are not addressed for the OP by this extant process? Lack of implementation, or something else?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: We need new rules

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 01, 2013 5:36 pm

daverupa wrote:Brilliant, thank you, and now: what problems are not addressed for the OP by this extant process? Lack of implementation, or something else?


The OP has not addressed any specific rules either for monastics or lay people. In spite of repeated requests from cooran, myself and perhaps others, the OP has not addressed which specific rules are "out of date" or in need of changing. When I noted his concerns about "money grabbing" that may (or may not) exist in some lay organizations and how the monastic institution avoids this issue, the OP did not address that either.

I think the Vinaya is fine as it is it and just needs to be implemented and taken for the letter and the spirit. Problems come when there is too much emphasis on the letter and not the spirit or vice versa. The only caveat if any should be that where rigidity to a rule comes in conflict with compassion; compassion should be chosen. Examples include a bhikkhu lighting a gas heater in the upper Yukon, wearing a knit cap outside. Or allowing Mahayana bhikshunis for the double-ordination of Theravada bhikkhunis to start the reinstatement of bhikkhunis (which has already taken place). It is in the name of compassion allowing a monk not to get sick or possibly die of hypothermia or for compassion in allowing women full access to the holy life of their choosing.
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Viscid » Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:45 pm

There are many rules which should be modified or nullified. Such as:

Should any bhikkhu teach more than five or six sentences of Dhamma to a woman, unless a knowledgeable man is present, it is to be confessed.

Which is sexist and not acceptable in the modern world.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:55 pm

Viscid wrote:There are many rules which should be modified or nullified. Such as:

Should any bhikkhu teach more than five or six sentences of Dhamma to a woman, unless a knowledgeable man is present, it is to be confessed.

Which is sexist and not acceptable to a modern world.

It's really not sexist, it was made to protect women from evil-minded monks who might set out to seduce them, as the origin story shows. Another interpretation is that it was made to protect monks and women from gossip.

The rule allows the bhikkhu to talk at length if the woman asks a question.

Pācittiya 7

David N. Snyder wrote:I think the Vinaya is fine as it is it and just needs to be implemented and taken for the letter and the spirit. Problems come when there is too much emphasis on the letter and not the spirit or vice versa.
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Viscid » Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:05 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:It's really not sexist, it was made to protect women from evil-minded monks who might set out to seduce them, as the origin story shows. Another interpretation is that it was made to protect monks and women from gossip.


Would it not be better, then, to have rules which explicitly prohibit seduction and gossip, rather than having a rule which potentially denies women of hearing dhamma when a 'knowledgeable man' is not present?
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:53 pm

Viscid wrote:Would it not be better, then, to have rules which explicitly prohibit seduction and gossip,


There are already two rules (saṅghādisesas 3 & 4) against seduction and various rules against bhikkhus' gossiping about other bhikkhus (or at least setting limits on what is sayable). But one can't realistically establish a rule to stop householders from gossiping. Even where a bhikkhu has no designs on a woman, merely being seen talking to her at length will be likely to generate damaging gossip. And so the Vinaya requires that, like Caesar's wife, a bhikkhu should not only be good, but should be seen to be so.

rather than having a rule which potentially denies women of hearing dhamma when a 'knowledgeable man' is not present?


It's a false problem you're raising. In practice if a woman goes to coenobitical monastery to be taught, there'll always be other monks or novices who can sit with the monk who is teaching her. If she goes to an eremitical residence or to a thudong monk camping in the forest, then she will make a point of taking a chaperone with her. If she neglects to do so, or if no suitable chaperone is available, she may still be taught, albeit in brief.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: We need new rules

Postby dagon » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:06 am

Thank you Bhante

I know that in my case (maybe this applies to others) that i have very little knowledge of the rules and even less understanding of what they mean, how they are applied and what they seek to achieve. Sharing your knowledge and experience is a very great gift to me, thank you.

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Re: We need new rules

Postby chownah » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:48 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Viscid wrote:Would it not be better, then, to have rules which explicitly prohibit seduction and gossip,


There are already two rules (saṅghādisesas 3 & 4) against seduction and various rules against bhikkhus' gossiping about other bhikkhus (or at least setting limits on what is sayable). But one can't realistically establish a rule to stop householders from gossiping. Even where a bhikkhu has no designs on a woman, merely being seen talking to her at length will be likely to generate damaging gossip. And so the Vinaya requires that, like Caesar's wife, a bhikkhu should not only be good, but should be seen to be so.

rather than having a rule which potentially denies women of hearing dhamma when a 'knowledgeable man' is not present?


It's a false problem you're raising. In practice if a woman goes to coenobitical monastery to be taught, there'll always be other monks or novices who can sit with the monk who is teaching her. If she goes to an eremitical residence or to a thudong monk camping in the forest, then she will make a point of taking a chaperone with her. If she neglects to do so, or if no suitable chaperone is available, she may still be taught, albeit in brief.

Certainly there are homosexual monks.......is the rule interpreted that a bhikkhu should not speak at length to a man unless a knowledgeable woman is present?
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Re: We need new rules

Postby SDC » Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:27 am

Spiny Norman wrote:It seems to me that Buddhism always expresses itself through local culture, and modern Buddhism is no exception.


Unfortunately, yes.

The individual cannot help but to allow culture to be an influence while incorporating the dhamma into their lifestyle - their culture is likely a dominant aspect of their thinking. But I think we can all agree (hehe) that the path for the most part leads away from culturally conditioned behavior and thinking. While both dhamma and culture can be influential in our lives, we are not looking to allow both to flourish - only the dhamma.

So it would be in our best interest to work to relegate culture to a position of very little influence even when aspects of said culture align with the dhamma. Why's that, SDC? Well I'm glad you asked. Because anything seen as part of a culture will keep thoughts on the world and especially keeps the thoughts on the idea of there being a self that exists in that world. It is counterproductive to nurture this type of idea while practicing toward nibbana.

Besides culture is divisive and the dhamma is anything but. Any rules that promote cultural influence do not come from the Buddha and can be damaging if not properly put into perspective as to why they are of significance at all. At least with an explanation such cultural practices would be given their necessary subordinate place in practice and could still be done, but with less significant of an effect. But from what I have seen and heard, most times these rules aren't properly explained to people, which only deepens a culture's influence on the dhamma. While adding to the dhamma does not ruin it per se, it does constipate things unnecessarily. How is that of any use?
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Re: We need new rules

Postby rohana » Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:26 am

    "What is the cause, lord, what is the reason, why before there were fewer training rules and yet more monks established in final gnosis, whereas now there are more training rules and yet fewer monks established in final gnosis?"

    "That's the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are degenerating and the true Dhamma is disappearing, there are more training rules and yet fewer monks established in final gnosis."
    - Saddhammapatirupaka Sutta

Many well known monasteries in the West usually tend to be from forest traditions with strict vinaya standards. You can find plenty of monks, mainly in traditionally Theravādin countries who interpret the vinaya with varying degrees of laxity. The thing is, the laxer the vinaya, it seems the less chances of producing great teachers who inspire monks, nuns and the lay community to seriously practice. It's not a coincidence that pretty much all the great teachers we know or have heard of are not know for their loose interpretation of vinaya. (This is not to suggest that all monks should keep a strict adherence, or that only those who do are worth paying attention to.) And if we're discussing specifics, I think issues like not handling money or not storing food would be good generic examples to discuss as opposed to the rather silly extreme case of not turning on the heating.

Not to mention, there's a wide range of lay teachers in the West as well. It's not like anyone whose averse to strict vinaya keeping bhikkhus have no other options.
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Nov 02, 2013 5:34 am

chownah wrote:Certainly there are homosexual monks.......is the rule interpreted that a bhikkhu should not speak at length to a man unless a knowledgeable woman is present?


There’s no universal standard regarding homosexual monks; it’s up to each monastery to set its own policy. In Thailand most at present don’t have any particular policy at all. Of those that do, the policies are rather varied. Some wats, for example, will simply refuse residence to homosexual monks (e.g. Wat Suan Mokkh and other Buddhadāsa-influenced wats). Some wats will place homosexual monks in different sections of the wat to segregate them from each other and prevent the formation of a gay clique and a Goodbye, Good Men kind of scenario, wherein the clique effectively hijacks the monastery. In recent years such segregation has become a common practice in some of the larger Bangkok monasteries. Some wats will limit the number of homosexuals of the very flamboyant type; the presence of one or two such monks in a wat is no problem, but when you get a whole bunch of ‘screaming queens’ it becomes disruptive as they’re always competing with each other to be the centre of attention.

But as for the 7th pācittiya rule, I’ve never heard of it being applied in the manner you describe. The closest I’ve come across was a Bangkok wat where homosexual monks were instructed not to enter the rooms of temple boys or teenage sāmaṇeras or be seen fraternising with them.
Last edited by Dhammanando on Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: We need new rules

Postby Kusala » Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:19 am

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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: We need new rules

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:00 pm

Viscid wrote:There are many rules which should be modified or nullified. Such as:

Should any bhikkhu teach more than five or six sentences of Dhamma to a woman, unless a knowledgeable man is present, it is to be confessed.

Which is sexist and not acceptable in the modern world.


The only way i can see this not being sexist is if the exact corollary rule exists for the thriving and numerous population of theravadan nuns.
So is there a rule for nuns that says:

Should any bhikkhini teach more than five or six sentences of Dhamma to a man, unless a knowledgeable woman is present, it is to be confessed. ??

It would be much better if we left the patriarchy and sexism to the theists, we could certainly never beat them at it.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: We need new rules

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:16 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:The only way i can see this not being sexist is if the exact corollary rule exists for the thriving and numerous population of theravadan nuns.
So is there a rule for nuns that says:

Should any bhikkhini teach more than five or six sentences of Dhamma to a man, unless a knowledgeable woman is present, it is to be confessed. ??

103 [7]. Should any bhikkhunī teach more than five or six sentences of Dhamma to a man, unless a knowledgeable woman is present, it is to be confessed.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ti.html#pr


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