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

Post by SarathW »

But they all would be, without doubt, still the Theravadin.
If I ordained as a Theravada monk but preach and act as say Mahayana or Abrahamic religion am I still a Theravada monk?
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Volo
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Volo »

SarathW wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 8:48 am If I ordained as a Theravada monk but preach and act as say Mahayana or Abrahamic religion am I still a Theravada monk?
Technically speaking yes, since you haven't committed pārājika and didn't disrobe voluntary. But there is a case, which Ven. Thanissaro calls "one, who seriously wronged the Dhamma". One type of such a person is somebody who went to another religion while still a bhikkhu. Such a person is not allowed to ordain again. I understand it, that if he afterwards disrobes, he cannot be admitted to the Order again.
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Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama »

Volovsky wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 10:28 am
SarathW wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 8:48 am If I ordained as a Theravada monk but preach and act as say Mahayana or Abrahamic religion am I still a Theravada monk?
Technically speaking yes, since you haven't committed pārājika and didn't disrobe voluntary. But there is a case, which Ven. Thanissaro calls "one, who seriously wronged the Dhamma". One type of such a person is somebody who went to another religion while still a bhikkhu. Such a person is not allowed to ordain again. I understand it, that if he afterwards disrobes, he cannot be admitted to the Order again.
Is this parajika from the Tipitika?

I never heard of it before.
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Volo
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Volo »

Manopubbangama wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 4:25 pm Is this parajika from the Tipitika?
I never heard of it before.
No, not from pārājika. It's from khandakas, explaining, who cannot be ordained (Kd 1.62.3)
(c) A bhikkhu going over to another religion is one who—while still a bhikkhu—takes on that religion’s mode of dress or, in the case of naked ascetics, goes naked and adopts with approval any of their modes of practice. At present, it could be argued that the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna, with their separate canons and modes of practice at odds with the Pali Canon, are different enough from the Theravāda to count as separate religions under this prohibition, but this is a controversial point.
BMC, Ven. Thanissaro
SarathW
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by SarathW »

this is a controversial point.
My understanding is Bhikkhu Bodhi got some affiliation with Mahayana but he still a Theravada monk?
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by BKh »

My understanding is Bhikkhu Bodhi got some affiliation with Mahayana but he still a Theravada monk?
He has lived in several Mahayana monasteries in the US for quite some time. The first was lead by a Mahayana monk who wanted Bhante Bodhi to teach Pali suttas to the lay people there. At the second Mahayana monastery the abbot was ordained as a Theravada monk in Sri Lanka. There Bhante Bodhi was also highly valued as someone who could teach the Pali suttas.

Although Bhante Bodhi is very knowledgeable of Mahayana, I have never heard him mix it in with what he teaches. And his work encouraging lay people to practice generosity (Buddhist Global Relief) is grounded in his own Theravada experience, although as it is a non-sectarian Buddhist group, they may also mention Mahayana teachings as well as Theravada in there publicity material.

The world is complex. Perhaps too complex for internet discussions. :-)
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Volo
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Volo »

SarathW wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:07 pm My understanding is Bhikkhu Bodhi got some affiliation with Mahayana but he still a Theravada monk?
Some affiliation with Mahayana/Christianity/Islam/Hinduism doesn't disrobe a monk. But if a monks leaves theravada to practice another religion while still a bhikkhu, but disrobes afterwards, he cannot become a bhikkhu again.
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Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama »

Volovsky wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:02 pm
SarathW wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:07 pm My understanding is Bhikkhu Bodhi got some affiliation with Mahayana but he still a Theravada monk?
Some affiliation with Mahayana/Christianity/Islam/Hinduism doesn't disrobe a monk. But if a monks leaves theravada to practice another religion while still a bhikkhu, but disrobes afterwards, he cannot become a bhikkhu again.
If Bikkhu Bodhi practiced amidst Mahayana he was doing exactly what Theravadins did and have been doing for over a thousand years, as observed by Faxian and other Chinese pilgrims in ancient times.
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AgarikaJ
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by AgarikaJ »

BKh wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:17 pm The world is complex. Perhaps too complex for internet discussions. :-)
While true that anybody ordaining in a Theravada lineage is by definition automatically Theravadin; let me compound this with an additional thought making things a lot more complex indeed:

I am actually not sure that our strict distinction between 'Theravada' and 'Mahayana' was lived in the same way in large parts of Southeast Asia just a very short while ago.

This distinction, at least that has been my impression, came to be fairly recently due to a more 'scientific, western' approach to Buddhism and a strengthening of reformist movements, either instigated by the colonial powers (Sri Lanka) or by the royal houses (Thailand), helped by the traceless extinction of so many of the traditions that existed throughout historical times -- often being hybrids of varied schools of thought.
The destructiuon of their heritage and their literature in many catastrophic events (sacking of Pagan by the Mongols, sacking of Ayutthaya by the Burmese, sacking of Angkor by the Thai, conversion to Islam in Indonesia, the Khmer Rouge, etc) forced reformators to go back to the source as nothing else was leftover.

However, tradition as actually lived might have been quite different to how we imagine it to be. Take for example this passage from Ajahn Lee Dhammadaro's autobiography, where he wanders as a Duthanga monk through Cambodia in 1934 -- really not so long ago! -- and visits there on his wanderings both a 'Vietnamese temple' and meets a hermit; while noting that he was Chinese he simply calls him another monk and was actually quite willing to spend a rains retreat with him together in a cave to discuss the Dhamma. Both the temple and the hermit would nowadays be labelled as clearly 'Mahayana'.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/tha ... eeauto.pdf
p. 35
Leaving Angkor Wat we headed for Phnom Penh. Along the way we climbed a huge, tall mountain: a nice, quiet secluded place with plenty of drinking water. The mountain was called Phnom Kulen—Wild Lychee Mountain. At the summit were scores of wild lychee trees, bearing bright red fruits. About 20 small villages surrounded the base of the mountain. We stayed there a few days in a Vietnamese temple that had a Buddha image carved into the rock of a large overhanging cliff. While there, I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the nearby caves.
...
p. 36
That evening the villagers had spread word among themselves to come listen to a sermon, and as darkness fell a lot of them came. By this time I had been wandering around Cambodia for more than a month, to the point where I was able to preach the Dhamma in Cambodian well enough that we could understand one another fairly well.
A few days later I learned from one of the laypeople there that a Cambodian monk who had studied the Tripitaka and was expert in translating Pali wanted to come and quiz me on the Dhamma. ‘That’s okay,’ I told him. ‘Let him come.’ And so the next afternoon he actually came. We discussed and debated the Dhamma until we were able to reach a good understanding of each other’s practices and ways of conduct. The whole affair went by smoothly and peacefully, without incident.
I spent quite a few days in the area, to the point where I began to feel quite close to many of the laypeople there. I then said farewell and started back to Sisophon. Quite a number of laypeople, both men and women, followed after us, forming an escort that fell away by stages.
Reaching Sisophon we stayed for two nights and then went to visit a cave in a nearby mountain—a fine, secluded place. A Chinese monk was living there alone, so we sat and discussed the Dhamma. We hit it off so well that he invited me to stay and spend the Rains Retreat there. None of my following, though, wanted to stay on.
It is very sad, that the Khmer Rouge essentially eliminated the whole range of vibrant Buddhist traditions and that for many other reasons the Southeast Asia of today bears very little resemblance to what it was just 80 years ago.
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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Manopubbangama
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Re: What is the yardstick to determine a monk as Theravada?

Post by Manopubbangama »

AgarikaJ wrote: Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:12 pm
BKh wrote: Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:17 pm The world is complex. Perhaps too complex for internet discussions. :-)

It is very sad, that the Khmer Rouge essentially eliminated the whole range of vibrant Buddhist traditions and that for many other reasons the Southeast Asia of today bears very little resemblance to what it was just 80 years ago.
Extremely sad.

:weep:

Buddhism has lost many civilizations in its storied history.

Regarding Theravadins who ordain in Mahayana monasteries, this is an ancient practice and no one should be discounted for doing so.

If anyone wants to read of Faxian's observations, there are translations of his works in the public domain: https://archive.org/details/recordofbud ... ch/page/n7
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