How did the monastics practice at the Buddha's time?

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

How did the monastics practice at the Buddha's time?

Postby starter » Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:19 pm

Greetings!

I was reading MN 27 and MN 122 again, trying to figure out how the monastics practiced at the Buddha's time. Based upon these two and some other suttas, it seems to me that a monastic on the noble path first lived a commune life to receive monastic training, until "Possessing this aggregate of noble virtue, and this noble restraint of the faculties, and possessing this noble mindfulness and full awareness", then "he resorts to a secluded resting place: the forest, the root of a tree, a mountain, a ravine, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle thicket, an open space, a heap of straw" to practice the restraining of the five hindrances and jhana:

“On returning from his almsround, after his meal he sits down, folding his legs crosswise, setting his body erect, and establishing mindfulness before him. Abandoning covetousness for the world, he abides with a mind free from covetousness; he purifies his mind from covetousness. Abandoning ill will and hatred, he abides with a mind free from ill will, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings; he purifies his mind from ill will and hatred. Abandoning sloth and torpor, he abides free from sloth and torpor, percipient of light, mindful and fully aware; he purifies his mind from sloth and torpor. Abandoning restlessness and remorse, he abides unagitated with a mind inwardly peaceful; he purifies his mind from restlessness and remorse. Abandoning doubt, he abides having gone beyond doubt, unperplexed about wholesome states; he purifies his mind from doubt.

“Having thus abandoned these five hindrances, imperfections of the mind that weaken wisdom, quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome states, he enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by initial application and sustained application of mind (to meditation object), with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion ..."

-- MN 27 The Shorter Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint

"2. Then when it was morning, the Blessed One dressed and taking his bowl and robe went into Kapilavatthu for alms. After he had returned from his almsround, after his meal, he went to spend the day at the dwelling of Kāḷakhemaka the Sakyan. On that occasion, however, there were many resting places prepared in the dwelling of Kāḷakhemaka the Sakyan. When the Blessed One saw this, he thought: “There are many resting places prepared in the dwelling of Kāḷakhemaka the Sakyan; do many bhikkhus live there?”

3. But on that occasion the Venerable Ānanda was engaged with many bhikkhus in making robes at the dwelling of Ghatā the Sakyan. Then when it was evening, the Blessed One rose from meditation and he went to the dwelling of Ghatā the Sakyan: on arriving there he sat down on the appointed seat; when he had done so, the Blessed One said to the Venerable Ānanda: “There are many resting places prepared in the dwelling of Kāḷakhemaka the Sakyan; do many bhikkhus live there?”

“Many resting places, Venerable Sir, are prepared in the dwelling of Kāḷakhemaka the Sakyan; many bhikkhus are living there. A time for making robes is permitted to us, Venerable Sir.”

5. “A bhikkhu, Ānanda, does not shine forth by delighting in company, enjoying company, devoted to delight in company, delighting in society (socialization?), enjoying society, finding satisfaction in society.

6. “Indeed, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu delighting in company, enjoying company, devoted to delight in company, delighting in society, enjoying society, finding satisfaction in society should come to obtain the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment at will, without trouble and in full, that is not possible. But when a bhikkhu lives alone, apart from society, that he may be expected to obtain the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment at will, without trouble and in full, that is possible.

7. “Indeed, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu delighting in company, enjoying company, devoted to delight in company, delighting in society, enjoying society, finding satisfaction in society should enter upon and dwell in either the temporary, or the permanent and unshakeable, delectable mind deliverance, that is not possible. But when a bhikkhu lives alone, apart from society, that he may be expected to enter upon and dwell in the temporary, or the permanent and unshakeable, delectable mind deliverance, that is possible."

-- MN 122. The Greater Discourse on Voidness


I wonder if the monastery setting and so on at our time permits monastics with such a secluded resting place and life for the second stage (samadhi) practice, without community duties/activities and etc. It's probably only possible during vasa and silent retreats, I suppose, which wouldn't be long enough to obtain deep samadhi. In Mahayana tradition, there is the "Bi Guan 闭关" practice (complete seclusion without leaving the kuti); those who practice in seclusion were provided with food/medicine and etc. It might be good to introduce this practice into the Theravada monasteries, especially the Western monasteries where going on almsround isn't yet possible?

Metta to all!
Last edited by starter on Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
starter
 
Posts: 786
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:56 pm

Re: How did the monastics practice at the Buddha's time?

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:50 pm

There are some virtuous Monks who practice as the Buddha taught, living apart from the hustle and bustle of the world, and dependent on Lay people for alms food and support- Venerable Dhammasiha at Dhammagiri Forest Monastery near Brisbane, for example. He will not have a mobile phone, he will not have computer Internet.

http://www.dhammagiri.org.au/more-about-dhammagiri.html

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7051
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: How did the monastics practice at the Buddha's time?

Postby starter » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:44 am

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the interesting information. The periodic "Bi Guan 闭关" practice (complete seclusion without leaving the kuti) in Mahayana tradition is different from the practice done in Dhammagiri Forest Monastery. The monastic in "Bi Guan 闭关" can stay in his kuti in a monastery, with food and etc. sent to him without even speaking to him, so that he can live a completely secluded life for a period necessary to practice samadhi. This is an ideal setting for the second stage of practice, after perfecting sila, sense restraint, mindfulness and full awareness.

I suppose Venerable Dhammasiha at Dhammagiri Forest Monastery still has to manage the affairs of the monastery, such as accommodating and teaching the visiting lay, and can't really live a more secluded life?

Metta to all!

Starter

PS: I wonder why there's a sudden, dramatic increase in the number of visitors to Dhamma Wheel. Good development!
starter
 
Posts: 786
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:56 pm


Return to Ordination and Monastic Life

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests