Outdated Vinaya for monks

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Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by canadianbuddhist »

What do you have to say about the outdated vinaya rules for monks? such as driving cars, wearing Tshirts in the theravada temples in the west, being in close contact with women, using money and credit cards, using computers and laptops including mobile phones, etc
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retrofuturist
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

It's not quite clear what are you asking.

Are you asking how the Vinaya can be applied to 21st century conditions?

... or ...

Are you saying that the Vinaya is outdated and requires revision to account for 21st century conditions?

... or something else altogether.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
canadianbuddhist
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by canadianbuddhist »

My question is how those monks who have to live by driving cars, wearing T shirts, being in close in contact with women, using modern gadgets go by vinaya rules? I think most of the vinaya rules are outdated by now. And it needs a set of modern rules? may be no rules but self-discipline because the rules were laid down at the timely request. So i want to have your guys thoughts going beyond the textual books and conservative thoughts. It looks to me Dhamma has been described with the timely changs but not vinaya? Post your thoughts guys.
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retrofuturist
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
canadianbuddhist wrote: Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:41 am So i want to have your guys thoughts going beyond the textual books and conservative thoughts...
On the basis I have moved this out of Classical Theravada to the Ordination and Monastic Life section.

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Bhikkhu_Jayasara
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by Bhikkhu_Jayasara »

My question is how those monks who have to live by driving cars, wearing T shirts, being in close in contact with women, using modern gadgets go by vinaya rules? I think most of the vinaya rules are outdated by now. And it needs a set of modern rules? may be no rules but self-discipline because the rules were laid down at the timely request. So i want to have your guys thoughts going beyond the textual books and conservative thoughts. It looks to me Dhamma has been described with the timely changs but not vinaya? Post your thoughts guys.

I would say a good 95-98% of the monastic rules are still applicable and should be followed today. It is hard but not impossible for a monastic to live in complete harmony with the rules as set down all those years ago.

There is no rule about monks not driving, technically the rule is flat out monks are not allowed to ride in vehicles.. period.. cars, buses, horse karts etc. The one exception being if the monk is sick.

That is one of the very very rare examples(less then a handful I'd say) that a monastic rule is nearly universally just disallowed. But if you were in a remote place and never really had a need to go anywhere unless you were sick, you could do it.

There is no rule about close contact with women, monastics can touch women, any rule saying otherwise is cultural not vinaya. The rule is that if you touch a woman with lustful intent(in the story for the rule the monk was rubbing the shoulder of a wife visiting touring the monks dwelling with her husband). There are also restrictions of being completely alone and secluded with a single woman, but again its not completely disallowed, there are guidelines to follow.

Obviously since there was no digital technology back then, there are no rules covering those kind of things, but abbots and monastics across the Buddhist world have chosen how to handle them in one way or another.

In short, as someone who has read through the vinaya multiple times and attempts to live his best according to it daily, I do not think drastic changes and measures are needed. What is happening now I think is the most wise thing, abbots and monastics are attempting to adapt ancient rules to a modern world, bending to adapt without breaking the system as a whole or compromising at least on the spirit of the rules, if not the letter.
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canadianbuddhist
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by canadianbuddhist »

I like the answer but still I feel that you are just kinda justifying the both in one way the other.

What do you have to say about the "khuddanukhuddaka sikkha) which the Buddha asked to release before he passed away? Why did the senior monks not release them? Why the fear they had in protecting the order still continuing without looking at the Buddha's suggestion? Couldnt there be groups or single monks who think differently about this preposition and work differently? What do you think about why the buddha once said to Ven. Ananda, do not see women, if you see, dont talk, if talk .... How this is going to work with "there is no issue of touching women" theroy?
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by confusedlayman »

canadianbuddhist wrote: Wed Mar 18, 2020 9:48 pm What do you have to say about the outdated vinaya rules for monks? such as driving cars, wearing Tshirts in the theravada temples in the west, being in close contact with women, using money and credit cards, using computers and laptops including mobile phones, etc
buddha said minor rules can be removed. what are minor rules? rules that if changed will not lead to clinging, becoming and headlessness. rules that were laid those days circumstances but not applicable to todays circumstances.

if rules can be changed or altered in todays circumstances but leads to dispassion, cessation and no obstancle can be removed or altered but for safty reason monks follow all rules and some rules dont accept todays circumstances and still they follow clinging to rites and rituals
dont think
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

canadianbuddhist wrote: Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:49 amWhat do you have to say about the "khuddanukhuddaka sikkha" which the Buddha asked to release before he passed away? Why did the senior monks not release them? Why the fear they had in protecting the order still continuing without looking at the Buddha's suggestion? Couldn't there be groups or single monks who think differently about this preposition and work differently?
The five hundred Arahants were all free from the defilements that would cause them to make a decision through attachment, aversion, fear, or delusion. They made their decision thinking about the future welfare of the sāsana. Individual monks among the group had different opinions regarding which precepts were lesser and minor. However, as a group they were unanimous in deciding not to rescind any of the rules.

The Lesser and Minor Precepts

The Lesser and Minor Training Rules
canadianbuddhist wrote:What do you think about why the Buddha once said to Ven. Ānanda, do not see women, if you see, don't talk, if talk .... How this is going to work with "there is no issue of touching women" theory?
It is good advice for monks to be very cautious in their dealings with women. The advice ends with if you speak to them Ānanda, be mindful.
Mahāparinibbāna Sutta wrote:How are we to conduct ourselves, Venerable sir, with regard to women?”
“Do not look at them, Ānanda.”
“However, if we should see them, what should we do?”
“Do not speak to them, Ānanda.”
“However, if we should speak to them, Venerable sir, what should we do?’
“Be mindful, Ānanda.”
If monks are always mindful, when looking at, speaking to, or even touching women, they won't have any lustful intention, nor even any affectionate intention. They will not fall into any offence. If a woman is drowning or trapped in a burning car, it should be obvious that a monk should do whatever he must to protect her. There is a saying, “Rules are for fools.” Two of the ten reasons for laying down the Vinaya rules are:
  • To control wicked individuals (Dummaṅkūnaṃ puggalānaṃ niggahāya).
  • For the comfort of well-behaved bhikkhus (Pesalānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ phāsuvihārāya).
When interpreting ancient rules for the modern age one must consider Dhamma as well as Vinaya. Using the Internet to teach the Dhamma is obviously suitable for monks; using it to watch entertainments is obviously unsuitable.
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Chanh Dao
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by Chanh Dao »

It's quite essential to not cultivate attachment on the path.

Whether that's for good or bad, practice no attachment and do your best to do good.

The vinaya is a system of rules and regulations for a monastic community/communities around 2000 years ago.

You can be assured that the extreme majority of monastics in the world take the vinaya extremely liberally.

Rules in the vinaya against using money, driving in cars or vehicles, not eating afternoon etc are widely either totally disregarded in the Monastic community or otherwise worked around in a variety of ways not layed out in the commentaries or original vinaya as we know it.

The Monastic community is a human community and I feel it's very important that we do not develop an overly fanatical or romantic view about what being a monk or monastic life is actually like.

It's very important to be mindful of the fact that tradition all when we talk about the Sangha we are actually talking about the Monastic community that has gone through a formal ordination process.

In fact, it's quite Interesting how inclusive and liberal even the traditional vinaya itself is.

While most people especially westerners maintain these strict ideas of what "monks" are allowed to do and not allowed to do. These ideas are fairly baseless in terms of monastic law.

"Monks" *Can-Not* do only 4 things according to monastic law.

They cannot have sex with anything or anyone.
They cannot steal.
They cannot murder human beings.
They cannot claim enlightenment if they are not enlightened.

If a monk does one of these things, they are no longer a monk and cannot again be a monk for the rest of their life.

Also, even if a monk does one of these things the formal process would involve going to the senior monastics in the local Sangha and talking through with them about the situation and what happened. They themselves would determine if this is actually a breach of the Parijika offenses.

Anything else, according to monastic law. The monks could do repeatedly all day, every day and still be fully ordained Bhikkhus. In this way the vinaya is extremely inclusive to offenses against the guidelines of conduct.


Monks following the vinaya strictly in the way many people imagine are probably far less than 10%.

Temples/monasteries like Pa-Auk and Wat Pah Nanachat.

Are extremely extremely rare and not actually representative of what a majority monks practice like in the world.

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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by santa100 »

canadianbuddhist wrote:What do you have to say about the outdated vinaya rules for monks? such as driving cars, wearing Tshirts in the theravada temples in the west, being in close contact with women, using money and credit cards, using computers and laptops including mobile phones, etc.
Actually the issue is pretty simple if one looks at the Vinaya as effective barriers not so much to defilements, but to the conditions conducive to their arising. We all know Defilement is an opportunistic bastard. It arises because it can. It'll stop when there's something in its way. So, looking from this angle, it's fairly straightforward to know the right course of action for any of the things mentioned above. Why the restricted use of smart phone, computer, laptop,... to only public place and in a certain hour of the day? well, what separates a life of purity and noble cultivation from a life of virtually unlimited indulgence of lust and sexual fantasies in every possible ways, is just a button click away.
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by canadianbuddhist »

I was expecting a wiser plus an innovative answer. Most of these comments seem to me "either the modernity of a monastics are rebuked with the conservative points" or "just being unable to think differently about the issue". Most of them have always gone to the texts ( which might not always make sense) and wanna think about this question. I am still wondering what could be the role of a 21 st century monastic living (the vinya rules I have mentioned)at this time in a western country (not very conservative places like Malaysia, Thailand, Burma or Sri Lanka) The reason for this question is that I already know most of the theravada monks here in US,Canda do all these things which are also okay here both by the country system and the lay devotees. So shouldnt we have to accept this?
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lavantien
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by lavantien »

I assumed that you have known the reason why Ven. Maha Kassapa didn't abolish any rule as the first council although the Buddha had permitted the abolishing of "minor" rules if needed.

That being said, I just want to add more canonical reference to the discussion.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/KN/Ud/ud5_5.html wrote: [2] "And furthermore, just as the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline; in the same way, my disciples do not–even for the sake of their lives–overstep the training rules I have formulated for them…. This is the second amazing & astounding quality of this Dhamma & Vinaya because of which, as they see it again & again, the monks take great joy in this Dhamma & Vinaya."
"Then the Teacher, being sympathetic, and having compassion for the whole world,
said to me, “Come, monk!” That was my ordination.
Staying alone in the wilderness, meditating tirelessly,
I have completed what the Teacher taught, just as the victor advised me.

In the first watch of the night, I recollected my past lives.
In the middle watch of the night, I purified my clairvoyance.
In the last watch of the night, I shattered the mass of darkness."
- KN Thag 12.2
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Volo
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by Volo »

canadianbuddhist wrote: Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:41 am My question is how those monks who have to live by driving cars, wearing T shirts, being in close in contact with women, using modern gadgets go by vinaya rules? I think most of the vinaya rules are outdated by now. And it needs a set of modern rules? may be no rules but self-discipline because the rules were laid down at the timely request. So i want to have your guys thoughts going beyond the textual books and conservative thoughts. It looks to me Dhamma has been described with the timely changs but not vinaya? Post your thoughts guys.
So, basically you are saying: "I think this, and I want you guys to agree with me".
canadianbuddhist
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by canadianbuddhist »

No, I dont think you guys should need to agree with me. I am just thinking that textual Vinaya answers might not help for the present situations. The main reason is that those vinaya rules were laid down for a reason that was come up, whereas such reasons are not any more available at this time. I am just asking you guys to think beyond the texts and try to understand the challenges we have in the 21 century. Even few of you get very conservative and but not many people in the world care about it. That is why we want to go for an inclusive discussion about this in a more positive way.
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Re: Outdated Vinaya for monks

Post by Ceisiwr »

canadianbuddhist wrote: Thu Mar 19, 2020 9:15 pm No, I dont think you guys should need to agree with me. I am just thinking that textual Vinaya answers might not help for the present situations. The main reason is that those vinaya rules were laid down for a reason that was come up, whereas such reasons are not any more available at this time. I am just asking you guys to think beyond the texts and try to understand the challenges we have in the 21 century. Even few of you get very conservative and but not many people in the world care about it. That is why we want to go for an inclusive discussion about this in a more positive way.

You are kind of saying “just agree with me”. People have posted their reasons. You don’t accept them 🤷🏻‍♂️

Personally, I’m against any Vinaya modification. Once you start, where does it stop? You also risk modifying due to defilements instead of due to wisdom. Nothing should change.
The reason for this question is that I already know most of the theravada monks here in US,Canda do all these things which are also okay here both by the country system and the lay devotees. So shouldnt we have to accept this?
Here in the UK the monks from the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah keep all of the rules. They even go on alms rounds from time to time.

Metta

:)
“No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood."


Mettagūmāṇavapucchā
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