What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Sam Vara
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Sam Vara »

SarathW wrote: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:32 am
Sam Vara wrote: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:09 am I would favour the most congenial approach, which is to accept that anyone who has accepted the going forth in any of the Theravadan lineages is a Theravadan monk. One is then free to say, of course, that one does not find their teaching accessible or acceptable. But it avoids disputes over whether labels are "correctly" applied and which criteria should be used to apply those labels. If a person thinks that (say) Ajahn Thanissaro is not Theravadan on the grounds that Thanissaro believes something different from them, then I am unlikely to convince them otherwise; and indeed even if I did, I wouldn't have gained any real benefit.

If it walks like a duck and it quacks, then it's a duck. But if you are looking for a particular sub-species of duck, then you are not helped by getting into disputes about mallards, pochards, and eider ducks.
So according to this theory, there is no difference between Theravada and Mahayana?
Of course there is a difference. Mahayanists have not, as I said above, accepted the going forth in a Theravadan lineage.
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AgarikaJ
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by AgarikaJ »

...

Edit: saw the edit of @Manopubbangama; so no need to use less subtle language to make my point.
Last edited by AgarikaJ on Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]
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seeker242
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by seeker242 »

What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?
Their ordination and that's it, nothing more.
SarathW
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW »

It appears that all boiled down to lineage.
Then what is the lineage of Ajahn Braham considering he was expelled from the lineage?
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mikenz66
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 »

Ajahn Brahm was expelled from a particular grouping of monasteries. That doesn't negate his ordination.

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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW »

Thanks, Mike
So it is lineage and the ordination?
When did the Theravada linage start?
How far it is going back?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by DNS »

AgarikaJ wrote: Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:24 pm Anybody who was ordained in a Theravadan Nikaya is by definition Theravadan. But I am sure this is not a sufficient answer for him.

I think he goes more in the direction of when a tradition is so far removed from the core teachings or too lax in following the rules that he would not trust them any more. But the level of adherence to the Vinaya or to specific core teachings is a highly personal and subjective matter.
I agree with this; it is highly personal and subjective. Some might place the bar very strict and traditional, requiring adherence and acceptance of the entire Tipitaka, teachings on rebirth, very classical Theravada and traditional. Others like me who identify more as modern Theravadin, might not be so strict. It might just mean ordination to a Theravada lineage, acceptance of the first 4 Nikayas and early books of KN and no parajika offenses.
SarathW wrote: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:03 pm When did the Theravada linage start?
How far it is going back?
What we call Theravada today, originated around 250 BCE. How much it deviates with "original Buddhism" we don't know. There were several early schools of Buddhism and it is only Theravada which survives today from those early schools, but no doubt among Theravadins, there are ideas that belong to some of the other schools which are found in people who call themselves Theravadin. Just as in other religions, there are some overlaps among traditions with each influencing each other in various degrees throughout history.
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 »

All Buddhist monastics today (including Mahayana) use one of these ordinations:
Although there were a number of distinct vinaya traditions or ordination lineages, only three have survived to the present day: the Theravāda, Dharmaguptaka, Mūlasarvāstivāda.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_ ... variations
Hence the role of Dharmaguptaka Bhikshunis from Taiwan in the revival of Theravada Bhikkhuni ordinations.

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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW »

A nun in Taiwan gave birth.[40] Some Korean monks live with wives in their monasteries.[41]
:rofl:
This is enough me for the day!
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 »

What's your point?

That passage seems to be referring to the abandonment of the Vinaya in Japan, in particular, where the "monks" are generally not Bhikkhus (as far as I understand it).

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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW »

the "monks" are generally not Bhikkhus
Are monks different from Bhikkhus?
Do you know the Pali words for those two?
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 »

SarathW wrote: Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:25 am
the "monks" are generally not Bhikkhus
Are monks different from Bhikkhus?
Do you know the Pali words for those two?
"Monk" is an English word that is sometimes used as a translation for Bhikkhu and sometimes also used to refer to non-celibate Japanese or Tibetan people who nevertheless have an official Buddhist status. Rather than focus on the particular translation, perhaps a better question is "does this person have a vinaya ordination?". Criticising those who did not ordain in that way for not being celibate would be unreasonable.

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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW »

perhaps a better question is "does this person have a vinaya ordination?
This is the first time I head this term.
I thought all Buddhist monks are following the ten precepts.
Can I become a Theravada monk without following the Vinaya?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 »

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Theravada bhikkhus follow the 10 precepts (and more for full ordination of course).

In Mahayana there are Bhikkshus and Bhikshunis who have an equivalent full ordination but use the Dharmaguptaka (e.g. Chinese) or Mūlasarvāstivāda (e.g. Tibetan) vinayas rather than the Pali (please read the link I gave above for more details). They also take the Bodhisattva vows.

There are also Mayahana "monks", particulary in Japan, who do not have vinaya ordination. Again, this is explained in the link, from which you quoted a small part out of context:
SarathW wrote: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:30 pm
A nun in Taiwan gave birth.[40] Some Korean monks live with wives in their monasteries.[41]
:rofl:
This is enough me for the day!
As explained in the link, those monks follow only Bodhisattva vows, not the vinaya rules, hence they can marry and so on. This is analogous to what happened in many forms of Christianity, which transitioned from celibate monks to ministers who are often married.

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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by AgarikaJ »

SarathW wrote: Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:30 pm
A nun in Taiwan gave birth.[40] Some Korean monks live with wives in their monasteries.[41]
:rofl:
This is enough me for the day!
I think, SarathW, you need to ask yourself, which particular aspects of Theravada orthodoxy you yourself value and would follow. Then, if you have identified a lineage or tradition who seems to fit the bill, research specific teachers where those theoretical ideals are actually followed -- to the point, look for teachers who do as they preach.

To give you an example: because I lived there for a long time and I speak the language, I feel affinity to the Thai lineages in general, and of course, many more western Buddhist philosophies.
I would strongly balk at a monastic school of thought where monks are embroiled in multiple scandals and where personal training of monks would seem to be handled rather lax. I would prefer a school with a strong emphasis on meditation, with the understanding that only practical experience of the Dhamma illuminates the Pali canon and on top of that I abhor monasteries with abbots who involve themselves in public politics (monks should have no public opinion in such matters at all, whatever they do to privately and discreetly to influence individuals olding state positions; Right Living is all what is needed as an example).
Therefore, I would not mind either way if there were Bikkhunis or if there were none, as there can be made arguments from Pali sources for both scenarios -- but I understand, that this could be a major issue for others. I also would not mind if monks smoke (even though I would not) or if they drink sweetened coffee all day (again, from this board, there are people who strongly object to this). I would not object, coming from a western background, if Buddhist metaphysics would be dialled down a lot (so as not to force a conflict of faith between scientific and more colorful views).

As you see, a highly subjective "wish list". Most lineages and teachers are filtered out right from the outset.

But they all would be, without doubt, still the Theravadin.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]
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