Ordination: Bhikkhu & Bodhisattva?

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Ordination: Bhikkhu & Bodhisattva?

Postby suanck » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:57 am

Hi all,

While reading discussion on ordination (or cross-ordination) of monks/nuns from different Vinayas, I have this question:

- As I know, a monk/nun in East Asia (China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan) after being ordained within the Dharmagupta Vinaya, s/he also receives/observes the Bodhisattva precepts as described in the (Mahayana) Brahma Net Sutra. One of the 48 minor precepts listed in this Sutra -- Precept no. 15 (I think) -- is that s/he is not allowed to teach/preach the sutras and moral codes of the Two-Vehicle tradition. The Two-vehicle tradition usually means the Sravaka/Savaka (Hearer - Arahant - Theravada?) vehicle and the Paccekabuddha vehicle.

If the monk/nun is not allowed to teach/preach the sutras and moral codes of the Sravaka, is s/he still qualified as a Dharmagupta bhikkhu/bhikkhuni?

Suan.
suanck
 
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Re: Ordination: Bhikkhu & Bodhisattva?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:00 am

suanck wrote:Hi all,


Hello Suanck,
If I may be so bold as to express a few thoughts on your question ...?

While reading discussion on ordination (or cross-ordination) of monks/nuns from different Vinayas, I have this question:

- As I know, a monk/nun in East Asia (China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan) after being ordained within the Dharmagupta Vinaya, s/he also receives/observes the Bodhisattva precepts as described in the (Mahayana) Brahma Net Sutra.


That is basically correct, though sometimes the bodhisattva precepts from the Yogacara system are used.

One of the 48 minor precepts listed in this Sutra -- Precept no. 15 (I think) -- is that s/he is not allowed to teach/preach the sutras and moral codes of the Two-Vehicle tradition. The Two-vehicle tradition usually means the Sravaka/Savaka (Hearer - Arahant - Theravada?) vehicle and the Paccekabuddha vehicle.


That is not correct. That is not exactly what the text / precept states.

Given that the question that you ask subsequently is quite a weighty one, ie. dealing with whether or not people are "qualified as ... bhiksu/nis", it would be best to "quote" the actual source text in such a case. Leaving it paraphrased, or in the form you have here, opens up the possibility of misunderstandings. Unfortunately, this appears to be what has happened. I say this, because you placed this thread in the (notorious!) "The Dhammic Free-For-All" Forum, and I believe that this is the standard expected here. (Right?)

The text states:

《梵網經》卷2:
「若佛子。自佛弟子及外道[3]人。六親一切善知識。應一一教[4]受持大乘經律。[5]應教解義理。使發菩提心十[6]發心十長養心十金剛心。[7]三十心中一一解其次第法用。而菩薩以惡心瞋心。橫教[8]他二乘聲聞經律外道邪見論等。犯輕垢罪。」
(CBETA, T24, no. 1484, p. 1006, a10-15)
[3]〔人〕-【宋】【元】【宮】,(惡)+人【明】。[4]受=授【宋】【元】【明】【宮】。[5]〔應〕-【宋】【元】【明】【宮】。[6]發+(趣)【宋】【元】【明】【宮】。[7](於)+三【宋】【元】【明】【宮】。[8]〔他〕-【宋】【元】【明】【宮】。

[Mahāyāna] Brahmajāla-sūtra, folio 2:
A son of the buddhas [ie. a bodhisattva] should, towards disciples of the buddha, the heterodox, the six kinds of relations, all these good spiritual friends, teach them to undertake the sūtras and vinaya of the Mahāyāna; should teach them to understand the principles therein, letting them aspire their minds [ie. bodhicitta], the ten minds of setting forth, the ten minds of nourishment, and the ten vajra minds; that they understand each and every one of these thirty minds, in their correct order and dharmic function. Yet, if a bodhisattva, with a mind of anger, with a mind of hatred, inappropriately teaches them śrāvakas sūtras and vinaya of the two vehicles, or wrong view heterodox texts, that is a minor transgression.


The point of "...with a mind of anger, with a mind of hatred, inappropriately..." is very important and should not be overlooked. It does not mean that all occasions of teaching the sravaka teachings are with anger, hatred and inappropriate. It refers to only those occasions when it is done incorrectly. Looking through the various commentaries (there are dozens, so I shall simply summarize), the meaning becomes clear:

Firstly, teaching with any sort of anger or hatred is a transgression.
Secondly, people should be taught according to their capacity. If one has the capacity to hear the Mahayana teachings, then they should be taught that. If they have that capacity and the teacher does not teach them that, then that is a transgression.
Thirdly, it is not a transgression to teach people the teachings of the two vehicles if the teacher considers that that is what is appropriate for them. Each should be taught depending on their temperament, etc.

The word "inappropriate" qualifies such teaching with anger and hatred, and does not qualify the sravaka teachings, ie. it is NOT saying that the sravaka teachings are themselves inappropriate.
Likewise, the word "wrong view" qualifies the heterodox texts, and does not qualify the sravaka teachings, either, ie. it is NOT saying that the sravaka teachings are themselves wrong view.
(Elsewhere there are other points in the remainder of the text where a string of terms together is kind of ambiguous, and may give the impression that it relates "two vehicles" to "wrong view", but in each case, I think that the "wrong view" is probably more appropriately connected to the term "heterodox" which is also in that string of word. This is a grammatical issues, I've raised it elsewhere, and a lot depends on the interpretor, if the commentaries are ignored - which probably is not a good thing to do!)

One may also note that the term "Hinayana" does not appear here at all. In fact, the word "Hinayana" does not appear in the Mahayana Brahmajala Sutra AT ALL. Only the term "two vehicles", "sravaka", etc. are used. Considering that the Mahayana Brahmajala is now sometimes thought to be a Central Asian or Chinese composed text, this is significant. We have argued earlier about how Indic "Hinayana" (inferior vehicle) becomes in Chinese the "Xiao Cheng" (small vehicle). It has a different meaning in Chinese, regardless of what the original Indic word was. Many back translations by modern groups try to use the Indic word "Hinayana" but retain an understanding of "small vehicle". If the composers of this text wanted to be insulting, they could easily use such a term here. They did not, but chose "shengwen cheng" (sravakayana) and "er cheng" (two yanas) instead.

I am sure many will not be convinced! :tongue:
I shall await the day when they read Chinese ... :thinking:

If the monk/nun is not allowed to teach/preach the sutras and moral codes of the Sravaka, is s/he still qualified as a Dharmagupta bhikkhu/bhikkhuni?

Suan.


Considering that the "If..." seems to be based on a paraphrasing of the precept which omits the most important part of it, I think that the question itself has some problems. If I may make the old joke, hope nobody finds it in bad taste, it is a bit like asking: "So, have you Mahayanists stopping beating your wives, yet?" :tongue:

Moreover, your question also has another implication, ie. that one who is not allowed to teach "sravaka sutras / vinaya" is disqualified from bhiksu/ni status. Do we have any material that makes such a claim, for example, in the Dharmagupta vinaya itself?

From memory (gets a bit dangerous!), I recall that even at the time of the Buddha, there were some bhiksu/nis who did not give any teachings. Would they also be disqualified from their bhiksu/ni status? Something makes me doubt that very much.

There is something of a difference between believing / practicing given instructions, and teaching them to others as a rule. The commentaries all seem to give the strong impression that the sravaka teachings are still very valid, and should be taught, but attention should be given to the Mahayana teachings where people are able to accept and practice them.

In fact, elsewhere, there are Bodhisattva precepts which state that teaching the "profound Mahayana" to those who are unprepared, is in fact a transgression. A lot of it is about "skillful means", which is circumstance dependent.

:)
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Re: Ordination: Bhikkhu & Bodhisattva?

Postby suanck » Fri Jan 08, 2010 5:39 am

Thanks, Bhante. Much appreciated. Your explanation is the best I've received so far.

At one time, I did ask similar question to a Theravadin monk who was fairly familiar with the Chinese Vinayas and who has been advocating the restoration of Theravadin Bhikkhuni Order via the Dharmagupta Bhikkhuni Order. However, I did not receive a satisfactory answer.

Your translation of the relevant passage of the Chinese Brahmajala Sutra is interesting. Actually, I used the English translation at: http://www.purifymind.com/BrahmaNetSutra.htm :

15. Teaching Non-Mahayana Dharma

A disciple of the Buddha must teach one and all, from fellow disciples, relatives and spiritual friends, to externalists and evil beings, how to receive and observe the Mahayana sutras and moral codes. He should teach the Mahayana principles to them and help them develop the Bodhi Mind -- as well as the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices and the Ten Dedications, explaining the order and function of each of these Thirty Minds (levels).

If instead, the disciple, with evil, hateful intentions, perversely teaches them the sutras and moral codes of the Two Vehicle tradition as well as the commentaries of deluded externalists, he thereby commits a secondary offense.


I'll check again with other translations later.

Once again, I do appreciate your explanation.

Suan.
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Re: Ordination: Bhikkhu & Bodhisattva?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:00 am

suanck wrote:Thanks, Bhante. Much appreciated. Your explanation is the best I've received so far.


Thank you, you are welcome. We need more exchange all around. Only through properly understanding one another, will we be freed from the confusion which is presently pervasive around the Buddhist world.

At one time, I did ask similar question to a Theravadin monk who was fairly familiar with the Chinese Vinayas and who has been advocating the restoration of Theravadin Bhikkhuni Order via the Dharmagupta Bhikkhuni Order. However, I did not receive a satisfactory answer.


Oh, I can maybe guess who that may have been! haha!
It really takes quite a few years of full time study of Chinese texts before one can really get into them, and even then, as I have shown, there are still a range of ambiguities.

Your translation of the relevant passage of the Chinese Brahmajala Sutra is interesting. Actually, I used the English translation at: http://www.purifymind.com/BrahmaNetSutra.htm :

15. Teaching Non-Mahayana Dharma

A disciple of the Buddha must teach one and all, from fellow disciples, relatives and spiritual friends, to externalists and evil beings, how to receive and observe the Mahayana sutras and moral codes. He should teach the Mahayana principles to them and help them develop the Bodhi Mind -- as well as the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices and the Ten Dedications, explaining the order and function of each of these Thirty Minds (levels).

If instead, the disciple, with evil, hateful intentions, perversely teaches them the sutras and moral codes of the Two Vehicle tradition as well as the commentaries of deluded externalists, he thereby commits a secondary offense.



Great credit is to be given to the works of the BTTS, one of the first groups to attempt any large scale translation of Chinese tradition core sutras and texts. However, many of their translations that are commonly available were done very early on during the late '60s and early '70s. Looking back, even the BTTS themselves seems to realize the problems, and some of my friends there have said that they are re-translating a large number (if not all?) of their earlier translations. But, the passage you cite above is actually not too bad at all.

I'll check again with other translations later.


Remember, a key principle in the art of philology: Texts are to be weighed, not counted.

In other words, although we may read a number of texts (in translation) and conclude on the basis of most common readings, or most popular readings, which one is correct, this is very dubious. One must understand that certain texts (and translations) are simply of better quality and worth than others. A single reading from a quality source should often out-weigh a number of divergent readings from inferior sources.

The difficulty is having the knowledge of which texts are heavier than others!

Moreover, the commentaries on the material should also be studied. Many of the Chinese commentaries on these texts are from not long after it's translation, and as such will still contain the additional oral teachings that Kumarajiva no doubt imparted during the translation process. (This is a well established feature of Kumarajiva's translation style, methodology and circumstances.) These include simple glosses, up to deeper and more expanded perspectives and attitudes.

Once again, I do appreciate your explanation.

Suan.


:anjali:
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