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When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict? - Page 3 - Dhamma Wheel

When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Cittasanto
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:54 pm



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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pilgrim
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby pilgrim » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:13 am


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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:23 am


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pilgrim
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby pilgrim » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:34 am

I remember the rule concerning mealtimes was made because a monk went out for alms late in the evening and frightened a villager in the dark.

Bankei
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Bankei » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:48 am

Some random points:
- I think the Chinese Mahayanists allow themselves to eat during the evening and call it something like a 'medicine meal'.

The rule about not touching money - isn't the wording about not handling gold and/or silver. The letter of the law may allow monks to handle bank accounts and paper money? What about credit cards.

I knew some Dhammayut monks in Thailand and they were strict not to touch money, but they still had some in envelopes. One asked me to take some money and go and buy him some bandages once.

Other monks refuse to touch money, but they are flying around the world frequently using temple donations.

There is an article somewhere by a Thai monk which runs many pages and analyses the problems monks face when flying internationally (an increasingly common problem these days) with changing time zones. When is noon when flying from Osaka to Thailand for example?

I once stayed at a Sri Lankan temple in Australia and went into the kitchen at night time to get a drink - only to find all the monks in there eating.

When I was a monk in Thailand a senior monk sent out for some soup for me - clear chinese type with wontons in it. The Thai person I was with at the time was shocked, but eventually said I shouldn't eat the chunky bits, but only the soup. The monk was worried I would be hungry being a new monk - thus exhibiting kindness while perhaps breaking a minor rule.
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Bankei

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David N. Snyder
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:55 am

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rowboat
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby rowboat » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:26 am

Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5

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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:33 am

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Cittasanto
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:40 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Cittasanto
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:53 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Cittasanto
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:56 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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retrofuturist
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:23 am

Greetings cittasanto,

Being an "origin story" though doesn't mean that it accurately provides the origin of the rule.

I'm not interested to get into a debate on the historical accuracy of these stories, but if they don't reliably give the Buddha's actual reasons and logic for introducing new rules, then they don't necessarily embody the "spirit" of the rules either. They might well be representing somebody else's "spirit", embodied into a story... and I'd hate to see the "letter" (as decreed by the Buddha) diminished because of a "spirit" designed and interpreted by someone else. It would be Mahayana all over again.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:43 am

there are a few origin stories which do seam odd to the rule they are in, I can not remember which rule of the example I have in mind they are in, but....

the origin stories clarify the rules, they are not apocryphal literature, and to understand the spirit of a rule they are needed.

they also show how a rule ended up as it is found in the patimokkha list, as some rules were amended, and in some cases several times.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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retrofuturist
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:25 am

Greetings Cittasanto,

I know you've studied Vinaya more than I have, so I'm prepared to defer to your judgement to some extent, but in light of all the different "early schools" and their various Vinaya compositions, it's hard to put much stock in any of those early traditions as being in a position to definitively define the "spirit" of the rules within their varying rule sets.

For that, they must in turn defer judgement to the Buddha, and unless they are the Buddha, they have to accept they have only received the letter even if they'd like to each think (in their own different ways) that they have actually grasped "the spirit".

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Cittasanto
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:02 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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daverupa
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Re: When do the "spirit" and the "letter" come into conflict?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:48 pm

Origin stories are mostly later than the rules they purport to describe; this is a matter of philology. This doesn't mean they are false, but it does mean there is room for embellishment and, potentially, legend.


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