white robes

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Re: white robes

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:41 pm

Ytrog wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Ytrog wrote:While I was a guest in a monastery none of the guests wore white (me included) while we followed the eight precepts and it didn't seem to be a problem.


it is actually discouraged for lay guests at some monasteries particularly if they have Anagarikas, as it can give the wrong image if they do something an anagarika isn't suppose to, or talk to a visitor where they can appear to be talking for the resident sangha with what is being said.


Those Western Ajahn Chah monasteries (which I presume you're referring to) are, I think, a particular case. They are rather different in that respect from regular Thai, Sri Lankan, Burmese, etc, monasteries, where it seems to be the norm for meditators or serious Uposatha observers to wear white.

As far as I can tell, this very formal Anagarika thing is also rather specific to those monasteries.

Anyway, to end this rather rambling post, as in all such cases, I think that the key is to figure out what the local protocol is rather than make assumptions based on the conventions of other places.

:anjali:
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Re: white robes

Postby Sylvester » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:00 am

From an old post by Ven Dhammanando -

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=455#p10508
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Re: white robes

Postby daverupa » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:12 pm

Sylvester wrote:From an old post by Ven Dhammanando -

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=455#p10508


From that post:
"Clothed in white" (odātavasana) is an idiom that means being dressed in householders' clothes.


I think actually odātavasana conveys a certain commitment to Buddhism:

DN 25 wrote:Then Nigrodha saw Sandhāna approaching from a distance, and he called his followers to order, saying: 'Be quiet, gentlemen, don't make a noise, gentlemen! The householder Sandhāna, a follower of the ascetic Gotama, is approaching. He is one of the number of white-robed householder followers of the ascetic Gotama in Rājagaha. And these good folk are fond of quiet, they are taught to be quiet and speak in praise of quiet.


The clarification that Sandhāna is not simply a householder who supports Gotama, but one who is among those who are odātavasana (of whom it can be said that they praise quiet, which tends usually to describe monastics) suggests to me that the white-clad approach is a particular bracket of Dhamma adherence, and not the average lay practice of the day. A householder who wore white while herding cattle would not actually be wearing white for very long, therefore white as a standard 'householder color' seems quite improbable.
    "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: white robes

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:43 pm

It could be that "white robes" = "plainclothes"... as in "plainclothes detective". These people are in plainclothes... that's why Nigrodha had to point it out. Maybe this is the reason why Ven Dhammanando said that it was an idiom. :anjali:
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Re: white robes

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:52 pm

daverupa wrote:
DN 25 wrote:Then Nigrodha saw Sandhāna approaching from a distance, and he called his followers to order, saying: 'Be quiet, gentlemen, don't make a noise, gentlemen! The householder Sandhāna, a follower of the ascetic Gotama, is approaching. He is one of the number of white-robed householder followers of the ascetic Gotama in Rājagaha. And these good folk are fond of quiet, they are taught to be quiet and speak in praise of quiet.

Hi Daverupa,
I agree although there is a better sutta (almost spelt that stuua?? ;) reference where the Buddha says to someone (I think Mahanamma??) that "within this assembly there are Bhikkhus, bhikkhunis..... who are streamwinners..." and I believe it separated white clad from householders in the list but I can not find the reference at the moment to check and post. it is the basis for my comments earlier on this thread.
Last edited by Cittasanto on Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: white robes

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:57 pm

beeblebrox wrote:It could be that "white robes" = "plainclothes"... as in "plainclothes detective". These people are in plainclothes... that's why Nigrodha had to point it out. Maybe this is the reason why Ven Dhammanando said that it was an idiom. :anjali:


it is highly doubtful, why would a layperson be wearing plain cloths and it needed pointed out? it is more likely referencing what kind of follower they were, if they were simply a follower, householder would of surficed, as it is used on its own, and the type of clothing would of been irrelevant, unless it was incontrast to others who also wore white yet were not followers of the Buddha.
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Re: white robes

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:06 pm

I think you misunnderstood... Ven Dhammanando's point was that a white-robed person would be someone who is adhered to the precepts, but still wearing ordinary clothings. :anjali:
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Re: white robes

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:26 pm

it still begs the question why clothes would need pointed out if they were just 'plain' as in your example? and do note the cloths of a police officer are mentioned there as it describes a facet of their work unusual for police officers, so saying they were a follower of the Buddha would of been adequate alone as is seen elsewhere.

although I did find the reference I mention above, it is MN73 (quoted earlier in the other thread by Ajahn Dhammanandho linked to above,) although I did have a misreading of it possibly due to how it is worded in places, and it does mention both lives of celibacy and enjoying sensual pleasures, however it mentions the holy life is complete in this respect, in regard to them being accomplished in this Dhamma. which leads to the question what exactly is meant by clothed in white, the Dhammika sutta of the sutta nipata may be a clue here, as it is the only place I know of where the precept of celibacy can be changed for the sensual misconduct version within the 8 precept framework for Uposatha days. although here it only uses the lay follower as a designation is used.

"A wise man should avoid unchastity as (he would avoid falling into) a pit of glowing charcoal. If unable to lead a celibate life, he should not go to another's wife.


it maybe safer to say that the mentioning of clothes colour is due to the practice of wearing white on an uposatha day as is currently done today, and the occasions for this reference would be an uposatha day. but living lives of celibacy could indicate they acted as a steward for monastics and wore white to indicate this but this would just be guess work, and possibly reading to much into the texts.
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Re: white robes

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:53 pm

Nigrodha wasn't pointing out the clothes... he was pointing out the follower of the precepts. It's as if you're pointing out the policeman to someone by saying that he's "plainclothes."
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Re: white robes

Postby daverupa » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:54 pm

beeblebrox wrote:I think you misunnderstood... Ven Dhammanando's point was that a white-robed person would be someone who is adhered to the precepts, but still wearing ordinary clothings. :anjali:


White-robed Jain householders are attested in DN 29. It's likely that white robes were a sign that such a one was an upāsaka/upāsikā (lay follower), having chosen to adhere to one particular Order, giving dāna only thereto and so forth. This was a different behavior than that of giving dāna broadly, without preference to the particular tenets of this or that group. So, this additional commitment ("May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower...") differentiates the laity from the generic householder. Indeed, many householders would not wear white at all and give dāna to Buddhists as well as Jains, and others.

AN 8.25 seems to suggest that white-clad lay Buddhist householders would follow five precepts and furthermore encourage certain other behaviors. MN 143 suggests that they were not taught certain other aspects of the Dhamma.

Earlier I said that being white-clad was not the average lay practice of the day; I should have said that it was not the average householder practice of the day. Nevertheless, the phrase "Clothed in white" (odātavasana) is an idiom that means being dressed in householders' clothes" still seems incorrect.

Related: Where is "anagarika" attested in the Suttas as an 8- or 10-precept lay follower? Or isn't it?
    "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: white robes

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:06 pm

Is wearing a white robe part of the precepts? Maybe this is a weak argument... but it's not inconceivable to me that it might've been an idiom. I seem to recall Ven Dhammanando is an expert in Pali. :anjali:
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Re: white robes

Postby Mr Man » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:40 pm

In Thailand a candidate for ordination who has shaved his head and wears white is called a Nak, which I believe is derived from anagarika. As I understand it, it the name given for the transition from being a lay person to a mendicant.

I imagine that In ancient India, as in India of today it was fairly common to dress in white. Do you think that possibly going to the temple in ones best white cloths on uposatha day is similar to the tradition of wearing "sunday best"?
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Re: white robes

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:17 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Nigrodha wasn't pointing out the clothes... he was pointing out the follower of the precepts. It's as if you're pointing out the policeman to someone by saying that he's "plainclothes."


in your police example, the clothes say more than they are normal police officers preforming normal duties. they could be trying to blend in to the croud to avoid being recognised as police officers.

so the use of pointing out the clothes here although not saying exactly the same thing would indicate something more than just a normal lay follower doing their day to day thing.
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Re: white robes

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:22 pm

daverupa wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:Related: Where is "anagarika" attested in the Suttas as an 8- or 10-precept lay follower? Or isn't it?

it isn't used to describe lay-people to my knowledge, it is a modern coinage from Sri Lanka, it litterally means homeless one and is often found in formulas used to ask for the going forth, the household life is full of dust the homeless life is free as the air (if I remember the line propperly) it is found toward the end of many suttas one being MN58 if I remember, but it is quite common and should be close to that sutta if not there.
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: white robes

Postby Anagarika » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:50 pm

On this page you can see the standard white clothing that is sold in many Thai street shops that carry Buddhist goods:

http://monkordination.com/?p=1

Not sure if there are any online sellers, but these "whites" were worn by the lay men and women at the Temple. The men depicted here were in the pre-stages of study and practice, before ordaining as Samanera.
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Re: white robes

Postby fabianfred » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:13 am

Aside from the wearing of white shirts/pants by lay-followers on retreat or attending temple services, in Thailand some females choose to wear a white sarong and a shoulder cloth.
There is also the Naga who is a male about to ordain as a monk who wears the white sarong and a white vest which is across the upper body diagonally....usually after his head shaving ceremony.
Another type is the Pakhow (white cloth) who is in training before becoming a Novice and he wears the same as the Naga and has his head shaved. In the tradition at Wat Pah nanachart they are required to be Pakhow for six months then Novice for a year before being allowed to ordain as a monk.
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Re: white robes

Postby Biija » Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:36 pm

Hi everyone! I'm going to arrive at Wat Pah Nanachat on January 2, 2014 to live there as an anagarika. I need to know if I must buy the white robes or if the WPN provides it. If I have to buy, where could I find it in Bangkok near the International Airport or in Ubon Ratchathani near the airport, too?

Thanks,
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Re: white robes

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:17 pm

Why not ask the people at Wat Pah Nanachat? I am sure they won't mind you asking a few important questions like that.

Anyway, good luck with the noble plans!
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Re: white robes

Postby Biija » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:32 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Why not ask the people at Wat Pah Nanachat? I am sure they won't mind you asking a few important questions like that.

Anyway, good luck with the noble plans!



Thanks for the good luck message, David! :twothumbsup:
For sure, It would be the best way, but the communication with WPN is difficult. I would have to write to the Guest Monk. I live in Brazil. It takes about 12 to 15 days for the letter to arrive in Thailand and more 12 to 15 days to receive a response from the Guest Monk. So, I've decided that the best way is to wait and ask the Guest Monk when I get there. I asked here because I could save some time buying the white robes before getting there. WPN may have the white robes and if It does not, I will have enough time to go out at afternoon to buy over there. Anyway, if someone here knows the answers to my questions, they'd be useful. :smile:
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Re: white robes

Postby gavesako » Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:37 am

They should have white clothes for you, or they can tell you where to go to buy some (probably just in the village nearby).
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