Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

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Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:42 pm

Reading the vinaya and Buddha's strong exhortations to his aunt, in particular, lead me to think, the Buddha was working off of very anachronistic value that no longer translate. Today in modern society, there is absolutely no reason for a woman to bow to a man. From what I see, Western women who grew up in modern values, who then go to dharma teachers who teach them to serve men, etc., are corrupting those women. I have seen this. It's happening. It seems the Buddha was overly preoccupied with courtly etiquette. Today, courtly etiquette is itself impolite and improper as it is a sign of old and tired oppressive attitudes of the monarchies. In America, especially, these attitudes are useless. If a woman bowed to me, I would feel shame. A community that enforces that women should bow to men, is impure. It's just horrible and wrong. The Buddha's initial rejection of his aunt is a sign, to me, something ain't right. I can accept that he was working with his time. But so is every ordinary leader of the world. Where's the universality. To his credit, it bucked the trend, but all those extra rules for women effectively render the vinaya an antique and useless today. I don't think the Sangha has a snowball's chance in hell of being taken seriously in the West due to this attitude towards, not just women, but gays and "hermaphrodites." If I were a woman, gay or a hermaphrodite, I wouldn't think much of Buddha. He's reduced by this. Thoughts?
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby pulga » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:53 pm

What about those men who believe that their wives should bow to them? Should they be condemned for thinking as the Buddha?
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 30, 2014 3:56 pm

pulga wrote:What about those men who believe that their wives should bow to them? Should they be condemned for thinking as the Buddha?


Men who believe their wives should bow to them have no place in modern society. By the modern egalitarian customs, such a person would be ostracized. Why? Because it is an act of cruelty. In fact, the use of Buddha as an example why this is good conduct, to subjugate women, is a clear indication that, perhaps, the dhamma-vinaya is an anachronism and no longer serves as a mode of liberation, but as a source of cruelty.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby pulga » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:02 pm

suttametta wrote:Men who believe their wives should bow to them have no place in modern society. By the modern egalitarian customs, such a person would be ostracized. Why? Because it is an act of cruelty.


Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable having anyone bow to me -- of either gender. That said I think Buddhism ought to accommodate itself to a variety of cultures.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:03 pm

pulga wrote:
suttametta wrote:Men who believe their wives should bow to them have no place in modern society. By the modern egalitarian customs, such a person would be ostracized. Why? Because it is an act of cruelty.


Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable having anyone bow to me -- of either gender. That said I think Buddhism ought to accommodate itself to a variety of cultures.


I agree, but the current standard is the vinaya, where women can only be ordained by men and must bow to them whenever they walk in the room. This is super f***...

Buddha wasn't perfect. The Vinaya is a flub. This is like how Einstein revolutionized one area: relativity, but couldn't understand Quantum Mechanics. He was stuck in thinking about God. Had he dropped this idea, his powerful mind could have done more. Same with Buddha. He revolutionized the whole field of meditation, but when it came to institutions, he fell back on what he knew and didn't stretch his mind beyond the courtly traditions of his tribe.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby pilgrim » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:21 pm

It has nothing to do with women bowing to men. The Bhikkhuni order came later, so the entire order is junior to the bhikkhu order.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:22 pm

pilgrim wrote:It has nothing to do with women bowing to men. The Bhikkhuni order came later, so the entire order is junior to the bhikkhu order.


That's bullshit. If seniority is the deal, fine, then junior bhikkhus should bow to the senior bhikkhunis. There shouldn't be a gender distinction in orders. That's the lamest rationalization for sexual subjugation I have ever read. Let's no forget Buddha's "balls to the walls" attitude was what prevented his enlightenment, and it was a little girl that set him straight by showing him how to be moderate.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby Babadhari » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:44 pm

suttametta wrote:

Buddha wasn't perfect.
:tongue:
the noble eightfold path, that is to say, right view, right intention; right speech, right action, right livelihood; right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. That is the middle way discovered by a Perfect One, which gives vision, which gives knowledge, and which leads to peace, to direct acquaintance, to discovery, to nibbana
SN 56.11


the if one wasn't clinging to a sense of identity or aspiration of recognition of equality then one would have no problem bowing to anyybody
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Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby boris » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:47 pm

suttametta wrote: It seems the Buddha was overly preoccupied with courtly etiquette. ..

It seems you overestimates you ability to understand and judge the Lord Buddha.
suttametta wrote:Today, courtly etiquette is itself impolite and improper as it is a sign of old and tired oppressive attitudes of the monarchies.

Now democratic elections decide who may be oppressed legally while being of “divine right” limited the monarch; the “representative of the people” is the representative of absolute Absolutism.
suttametta wrote: I don't think the Sangha has a snowball's chance in hell of being taken seriously in the West due to this attitude towards, not just women, but gays and "hermaphrodites."
No great lost.
suttametta wrote: If I were a woman, gay or a hermaphrodite, I wouldn't think much of Buddha. He's reduced by this. Thoughts?

Buddha as such is timeless, above any danger of reduction. But indeed foolish, demoralized society, as for example in our times has a negative influence on Sangha. Fortunately most of this sick society don't think much of Buddha. More dengerous are fools who try to improve "mistakes" of Buddha.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby daverupa » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:57 pm

The Vinaya was an open set of texts long after the Buddha's teaching career ended. Lots of cultural accretions and evaluations of how to get along with one another, etc., were discussed over time. In fact, the Sangha's adminstrative structure itself is probably based on the administrative structure in place in the Sakyan Republic when the Buddha grew up there. It probably blew the minds of the brahmins, but made rather obvious sense to those in the hill areas and otherwise on the edge of the Vedic culture in the valley.

So one thing to be careful about it just how much you ascribe to the Buddha. The garudhammas are extensively discussed in this connection as being late additions, so I think we have to pay attention to what looks like a (re-)assertion of certain cultural values over time. The existence of a bhikkhuni sangha at all is quite amazing, and the development of landed monasteries for greater safety is an interesting development in that respect.

Considering that there were female renunciates already in the Buddha's time, I think we can safely say that misogynistic attitudes are products of later difficulties over the early egalitarian ways of the early Sangha, and not some cultural baggage the Buddha couldn't/didn't overcome.
    "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: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby SamKR » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:18 pm

suttametta wrote:...

On the contrary, one could even argue that the Buddha did injustice to monks by giving the special rules only to nuns who could use those rules to subdue their ego and defilements to attain Nibbana more quickly than the monks.

Whether these "unjust" rules were actually given by the Buddha himself or were added later, no one can prove. Furthermore, we do not know the exact social situation of the Buddha's time, nor do we know for sure all the specific reasons why he gave those rules and why Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī so happily accepted them. But whatever be the case they do not obstruct the nuns in any way (rather, they may help) to realize the goal of the Buddha's teachings:
One is the quest for worldly gain, and quite another is the path to Nibbana. Clearly understanding this, let not the monk, the disciple of the Buddha, be carried away by worldly acclaim, but develop detachment instead.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html

The case of a monk or a nun is different from that of the lay people. One becomes a monk or nun not to gain anything worldy (like equality or supriority) but to loose all possessiveness in order to quickly realize Nibbana. If we understand the true goal of the Buddha's teachings and the path that leads to that goal, then one can not cling to the idea of injustice or inequality based on modern values.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby pulga » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:24 pm

boris wrote:Buddha as such is timeless, above any danger of reduction. But indeed foolish, demoralized society, as for example in our times has a negative influence on Sangha. Fortunately most of this sick society don't think much of Buddha. More dengerous are fools who try to improve "mistakes" of Buddha.


You're sounding a little like Evola, but I share your sentiments.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby boris » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:27 pm

pulga wrote:
boris wrote:Buddha as such is timeless, above any danger of reduction. But indeed foolish, demoralized society, as for example in our times has a negative influence on Sangha. Fortunately most of this sick society don't think much of Buddha. More dengerous are fools who try to improve "mistakes" of Buddha.


You're sounding a little like Evola, but I share your sentiments.


With respect to Evola, there are higher levels of contempt for new and insight into eternal :smile:

Denigrating progress is too easy. I aspire to the professorship in methodical regression.

Progress is the scourge God has chosen for us.

The failure of progress has not consisted in the non-fulfillment but in the fulfillment of its promises.

The horror of progress can only be measured by someone who has known a landscape before and after progress has transformed it.
For the fool, obsolete opinion and erroneous opinion are synonymous expressions.

In the end, what does modern man call “Progress”?
Whatever seems convenient to the fool.

A progressive defends Progress by saying that it exists.
The murderer also exists, and the judge condemns him.

A greater capacity for killing is the criterion of “progress” between two peoples or two epochs.

Resistance is futile when everything in the world is conspiring to destroy what we admire.
We are always left, however, with an incorruptible soul, so that we might contemplate, judge, and disdain.

An “ideal society” would be the graveyard of human greatness.

"Renouncing the world" ceases to be an achievement and becomes a temptation as Progress progresses.
It is indecent, and even obscene, to speak to man of “progress,” when every path winds its way up between funerary cypresses.

The only possible progress is the internal progress of each individual.
A process that concludes with the end of each life.

We can only hope for a reform of society to come from the contradictions between human follies.

In order to avoid a manly confrontation with nothingness, man erects altars to progress.

What is called progress are preparations for a catastrophe.

The left’s theses are trains of thought that are carefully stopped before they reach the argument that demolishes them.

Progress is the offspring of knowledge of nature.
Faith in progress is the offspring of ignorance of history.

As a criterion of what is best, modern man knows nothing but posteriority.

The progressive’s cardinal syllogism is simply beautiful: the best always triumphs, because what triumphs is called the best.

More repulsive than the future which progressives involuntarily prepare is the future they dream of.

Chance will always rule history, because it is not possible to organize the state in such a way that it does not matter who rules.

In order to renew, it is not necessary to contradict; it is enough to make profounder.

Unlimited gullibility is required to be able to believe that any social condition can be improved in any other way than slowly, gradually, and involuntarily.

Social improvements do not come from powerful shake-ups, but from light nudges.

The golden rule of politics is to make only minimal changes and to make them as slowly as possible.

It does not appear that the humanities, in contrast to the natural sciences, reach a state of maturity where anything idiotic is automatically obvious.

Religious thought does not go forward, like scientific thought, but rather goes deeper.

It is possible to inculcate in the contemporary bourgeois any stupid idea in the name of progress and to sell him any grotesque object in the name of art.

Reason, Progress, and Justice are the three theological virtues of the fool.

Asking the state to do what only society should do is the error of the left.

The leftist, like the polemicist of yesteryear, believes he refutes an opinion by accusing the holder of that opinion of immorality.

The vice which afflicts the right is cynicism, and that which afflicts the left is deceit.

Civilization is what old men manage to salvage from the onslaught of young idealists.

The progressive believes that everything soon becomes obsolete, except his ideas.

The periodic reflowering of what he decrees obsolete makes life bitter for the progressive.

Progress ages badly.
Each generation brings a new model of progressivism and discards with contempt the previous model.
Nothing is more grotesque than yesterday’s progressive.

The frightened progressive has neither compassion nor dignity.

Nothing is more dangerous than to solve ephemeral problems with permanent solutions.

To reform everyone else is an ambition which all mock yet which all nurse. .

The left is a collection of those who blame society for nature’s shabby treatment of them.

Knowing which reforms the world needs is the only unequivocal symptom of stupidity.

The problems of an “underdeveloped” country are the favorite pretext for leftist escapism.
Lacking new merchandise to offer to the European market, the leftist intellectual peddles his faded wares in the third world.

The left does not condemn violence until it hears it pounding on its door.

The individual today rebels against immutable human nature so that he might refrain from amending his own correctable nature.

The preaching of progressives has so corrupted us that nobody believes that he is what he is, but only what he did not succeed in being.

Modern man already knows that political solutions are ludicrous and suspects that economic solutions are too.

Transforming the world: the occupation of a convict resigned to his punishment.

They speak emphatically of “transforming the world,” when the most to which they can aspire is to certain secondary remodelings of society.

Two hundred years ago it was permissible to trust in the future without being totally stupid.
But today, who can believe in the current prophecies, since we are yesterday’s splendid future?

The leftist emulates the devout who continue venerating the relic after the miracle has been proved to be a hoax.

The new left gathers together those who acknowledge the ineffectiveness of the cure without ceasing to believe in the prescription.

Nothing cures the progressive.
Not even the frequent panic attacks administered to him by progress.

The progressive’s enthusiasm, the democrat’s arguments, the materialist’s demonstrations are the reactionary’s delicious and succulent food.

Consumption, for the progressive, is justified only as a means of production.

The new catechists profess that Progress is the modern incarnation of hope.
But Progress is not hope emerging, but the dying echo of hope already vanished.

In the intelligent man faith is the only remedy for anguish.
The fool is cured by “reason,” “progress,” alcohol, work.

The most persuasive reason to renounce daring progressive opinions is the inevitability with which sooner or later the fool finally adopts them.

Man is an animal that can be educated, provided he does not fall into the hands of progressive pedagogues.

When it finishes its “ascent,” humanity will find tedium waiting for it, seated on the highest peak.

Yesterday progressivism captured the unwary by offering them freedom; today all it needs to do is offer them food.

Under the pretext of giving work to the hungry, the progressive sells the useless artifacts he produces.
The poor are industrialism’s pretext for enriching the rich man.

Leftists and rightists merely argue about who is to have possession of industrial society.
The reactionary longs for its death.

The crisis of Christianity today has been provoked not by science, nor by history, but by the new means of communication.
Religious progressivism is the task of adapting Christian doctrines to the opinions sponsored by news agencies and publicity agents.


The modern Christian feels professionally obligated to act jovially and jokingly, to show his teeth in a cheerful grin, to profess a slavering friendliness, in order to prove to the unbeliever that Christianity is not a “somber” religion, a “pessimistic” doctrine, an “ascetic” morality.
The progressive Christian shakes our hand with the wide grin of a politician running for office.


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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:36 pm

suttametta wrote:I agree, but the current standard is the vinaya, where women can only be ordained by men and must bow to them whenever they walk in the room. This is super f***...

One explanation I've heard, and maybe someone can provide an exact reference, is that this apparent subordination of women to men is because usually, men can't be trusted when it comes to women, so steps must be taken to protect women. This is also why the Vinaya for nuns has more rules than the one for monks - to protect the women.

There's a story from long ago about a beautiful woman who wanted to ordain to become a nun. The abbot rejected her. She came back requesting ordination several times, and was rejected every time. Eventually, she insisted that the abbot answer her why he refuses to ordain her. He told her that if she would be around, beautiful as she was, the monks would go crazy with lust, and that he as an abbot can't let this happen. So she left, cut her face. Came back, and was accepted.



Buddha wasn't perfect.

:alien:
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:40 pm

suttametta wrote:Same with Buddha. He revolutionized the whole field of meditation, but when it came to institutions, he fell back on what he knew and didn't stretch his mind beyond the courtly traditions of his tribe.

Modern egalitarian liberal culture can make people underestimate the power of lust ...

In older cultures, they seem to know its power much better and make provisions for it and for dealing with it.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby culaavuso » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:39 pm

binocular wrote:Modern egalitarian liberal culture can make people underestimate the power of lust ...

In older cultures, they seem to know its power much better and make provisions for it and for dealing with it.


The Buddha understood this quite well, as explained in AN 1.1
AN 1.1: Cittapariyādāna Sutta (Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation) wrote:'Monks, I don't know of even one other form that stays in a man's mind and consumes it like the form of a woman... one other sound... smell... taste... touch that stays in a man's mind and consumes it like the touch of a woman. The touch of a woman stays in a man's mind and consumes it.

'I don't know of even one other form that stays in a woman's mind and consumes it like the form of a man... one other sound... smell... taste... touch that stays in a woman's mind and consumes it like the touch of a man. The touch of a man stays in a woman's mind and consumes it.'


Modern cultures seem to understand this to some extent as well, since locker rooms and bathrooms tend to be separated based on gender. Modern cultures generally do not seek the complete end of stress and suffering, however, and so the elimination of lust is not commonly seen as an important value around which to form social structures.

kitztack wrote:if one wasn't clinging to a sense of identity or aspiration of recognition of equality


There is an interesting read at Upasika Kee Nanayon and the Social Dynamic of Theravadin Buddhist Practice which has a quote along these lines:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Thus, given the limited opportunities for institutional reform, the only course left open to those few men and women prepared to break the bonds of mainstream Buddhism in their determination to practice is to follow the example of the Buddha himself by engaging in what might be called personal or independent reform: to reject the general values of society, go off on their own, put up with society's disapproval and the hardships of living on the frontier, and search for whatever reliable meditation teachers may be living and practicing outside of the mainstream. If no such teachers exist, individuals intent on practice must strike out on their own, adhering as closely as they can to the teachings in the texts — to keep themselves from being led astray by their own defilements — and taking refuge in the example of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha in a radical way.

In a sense, there is a sort of folk wisdom to this arrangement. Anyone who would take on the practice only when assured of comfortable material support, status, and praise — which the Buddha called the baits of the world — would probably not be up to the sacrifices and self-discipline the practice inherently entails.


Also relevant to this discussion, from Bhikkhuni Patimokkha
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Thus the Bhikkhunī Pāṭimokkha contains 85 rules for which there are no direct correspondences in the rules for the bhikkhus. Some writers have interpreted these added rules as sign of an attempt to oppress the bhikkhunīs unfairly, but it should be noted that:

more than one third of these extra rules were formulated to protect bhikkhunīs from being the direct recipients of the abusive or careless behavior of other bhikkhunīs;
two of the extra rules (Pācittiyas 6 and 44) prevent bhikkhunīs from putting themselves in a position of servitude to bhikkhus or lay people;
according to the rules' origin stories, all but three of the extra rules (Pācittiyas 59, 94, and 95) were formulated only after bhikkhunīs complained to the bhikkhus about an errant bhikkhunī's behavior.
Tellingly, these last three exceptions were formulated after complaints initiated by the bhikkhus, and they touch directly on the formal subordination of the Bhikkhunī Community to the Bhikkhu Community. However, they are counterbalanced by two rules exclusive to the Bhikkhu Pāṭimokkha — NP 4 & 17 — that were formulated at the request of bhikkhunīs to prevent bhikkhus from abusing their position in the hierarchy in a way that would interfere with the bhikkhunīs' practice of the Dhamma. For a more detailed discussion of the checks and balances in the relationships between the two Communities, see The Buddhist Monastic Code, volume II, chapter 23.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby James the Giant » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:11 pm

At Santi Forest Monastery near Sydney, the monks and nuns bow to each other in strict seniority of when they were ordained. It seems to work well, and is a worthy experiment.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:16 pm

binocular wrote:
suttametta wrote:Same with Buddha. He revolutionized the whole field of meditation, but when it came to institutions, he fell back on what he knew and didn't stretch his mind beyond the courtly traditions of his tribe.

Modern egalitarian liberal culture can make people underestimate the power of lust ...

In older cultures, they seem to know its power much better and make provisions for it and for dealing with it.


I agree with that. Still no reason to make women bow to men. That inflames a man's predisposition to pride. It should be the other way around.
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:17 pm

daverupa wrote:The Vinaya was an open set of texts long after the Buddha's teaching career ended. Lots of cultural accretions and evaluations of how to get along with one another, etc., were discussed over time. In fact, the Sangha's adminstrative structure itself is probably based on the administrative structure in place in the Sakyan Republic when the Buddha grew up there. It probably blew the minds of the brahmins, but made rather obvious sense to those in the hill areas and otherwise on the edge of the Vedic culture in the valley.

So one thing to be careful about it just how much you ascribe to the Buddha. The garudhammas are extensively discussed in this connection as being late additions, so I think we have to pay attention to what looks like a (re-)assertion of certain cultural values over time. The existence of a bhikkhuni sangha at all is quite amazing, and the development of landed monasteries for greater safety is an interesting development in that respect.

Considering that there were female renunciates already in the Buddha's time, I think we can safely say that misogynistic attitudes are products of later difficulties over the early egalitarian ways of the early Sangha, and not some cultural baggage the Buddha couldn't/didn't overcome.


What are garudhammas?
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Re: Anachronisms in Vinaya & whether a fresh start is due

Postby suttametta » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:19 pm

James the Giant wrote:At Santi Forest Monastery near Sydney, the monks and nuns bow to each other in strict seniority of when they were ordained. It seems to work well, and is a worthy experiment.


Is this group accepted by the mainstream? Or are they outliers?
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