BuddhaSoup wrote:Yet, my argument would be that once the Vinaya was dropped in the (8-13th century?) medieval period of Buddhist migration out of India into China and Japan in the CE, some of that 'subconscious' discipline evaporated.
I have to wonder how much discipline existed even in India. Now, granted, in the Tang you had figures like Yijing visiting and discussing how strict and pure their Vinaya was, but that might have been selective observations in the elite monasteries like Nalanda where you needed to know the Vinaya inside and out as part of the membership requirements.
Monks married, ate food all day long, and drank alcohol. Monks married and had families. This evolution from a Vinaya world into the fabric of the lay society may have provided political and societal benefits ( I'm focusing on Japan here) , but in my view was the start of the slippery slope toward the erosion of the respect for the monastic community.
Japan had no Vinaya for a number of centuries, yet still maintained celibate monasticism. I wrote an article about this:
http://huayanzang.blogspot.sg/2013/06/b ... inaya.html
You actually can have a living and vibrant monastic system without the Indian Vinaya. Japan's Buddhist degeneration was not a result of letting monks marry, but more to do with extreme secularization and rationalization of society. Up until the post-WWII period, Japanese Buddhism was thriving. Before WWII you had Chinese monks commenting how healthy it seemed. Then after the war the tables turned and Buddhism in Taiwan started to thrive while Japanese Buddhism went into terminal decline.
Some assume the Vinaya revivalism was responsible for the post-WWII regeneration of Chinese Buddhism in Taiwan, but that's not really accurate, just as it is incorrect to think the married clergy in Japan are responsible for the decay of Buddhism there. Of course married clergy come with a whole long list of problems, but before WWII the marriage wasn't as big a problem as people seem to think nowadays. The extreme secularization killed Buddhism in Japan.
You may be the example of the non-Vinaya monk that makes the case for a more modern ordination platform, and who does not need the Vinaya to live an unquestioned life and has the respect of the laity around you. I just see you as the exception, rather than the rule, here in the west.
I'm nothing special. I just want to live the śramaṇa lifestyle to pursue spiritual and scholarly aims. To me the śramaṇa lifestyle is defined not by what the Vinaya says, but what the general expectations were in ancient Magadha. To do this you just need to look at what the literature generally says and see how other schools like the Jains operated. The śramaṇa lifestyle is about celibacy, non-violence, kindness, meditation, contemplation and philosophy, plus maybe social expectations like the shaved head and robes, though those are arguably secondary. We need only recall that there was no Vinaya for the first few years of the sangha. The first monks had zero formal rules and precepts.