Generations of scholars, from the inception of the modern study of Buddhism, have established a long-lasting and relatively stable consensus regarding the texts and history of early Buddhism. While inevitably subject to the usual kinds of uncertainty, incompleteness, and evolution, this consensus has provided a framework for the positive development of our understanding of the Buddha, his teachings, and his community. This consensus has been challenged by the prominent Amercian academic, Gregory Schopen. His essays have been the most influential reassessment in the history of Buddhist studies. Many of his ideas are regarded as virtually canonical in modern academia, and have permeated far beyond the normal reach of Buddhist academic work. However, his arguments are far better regarded among non-specialists than among those who actually study early Buddhism. This essay shows a number of flaws and problems with Schopen’s work on early Buddhism, by implication supporting the traditional consensus.
Pachow and Prebish both regard the differences in the sekhiya (training) rules of the pāṭimokkha as evidence for the antiquity of the Mahāsaṅghika Vinaya. Prebish further argues, based on the Śāriputraparipṛcchā, that the differences in sekhiya rules were the decisive factor in causing the first schism between the Mahāsaṅghikas and Sthaviras. I have elsewhere given […]
Vasumitra mentions that the Dharmaguptakas held that stupa worship was meritorious, which is hardly unusual. But the school also preserves a unique list of 26 sekhiya rules pertaining to conduct around the stupa. The obvious reading of these two bits of information is that the Dharmaguptakas had a special emphasis on the stupa cult. But […]
Why are there so many schools of Buddhism? Are the differences just cultural, or do they have fundamentally different visions of Dhamma? This work assesses the claims of the traditions, and takes into account to findings of modern scholarship. It pays special attention to the origins of the monastic orders. If we are to understand the differences, and sometimes tensions, between the schools of Buddhism today, we must examine more closely the forces that spurred their formation.
Enchanting, powerful, horrific, beautiful, wise, deadly, compassionate, seductive. Women in Buddhist story and image are all these things and more. She takes the signs of the ancient goddess – the lotus, the sacred grove, the serpent, the sacrifice – and uses them in astonishing new ways. Her story is one of suffering and great trials, and through it all an unquenchable longing to be free. This beautifully illustrated work is as layered and subversive as mythology itself. Based directly on authentic Buddhist texts, and informed with insights from psychology and comparative mythology, it takes a fresh look at how Buddhist women have been depicted by men and how they have depicted themselves.
The First Council was a critical turning point in Buddhist history, defining the direction Buddhism was to take after the death of its founder. Here is the account from the Mahīśāsaka Vinaya, translated from the Chinese canon.
How monastics, especially nuns, are trained at Santi Forest Monastery, in accordance with the original Vinaya, and incorporating the best modern practices.
In the debate about bhikkhuni ordination, information plays a key role. We have made substantial strides in our understanding of Buddhism in history, the relation between different Buddhist traditions, and so on. Unfortunately, little of this information has permeated into the tradition Sangha bodies. Century-old textbooks are not corrected, not matter how obvious their mistakes are.
Although historically marginalized, Buddhist nuns are taking their place in modern Buddhism. Like the monks, Buddhist nuns live by an ancient system of monastic law, the Vinaya. This work investigates various areas of uncertainty and controversy in how the Vinaya is to be understood and applied today.
It’s time. We need a new paradigm. For 2500 years Buddhism has been constantly changing, adapting, evolving; yet the myths of the schools insist that the Dhamma remains the same.