Tag Archives: Vinaya

The Ironic Assumptions of Gregory Schopen

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.

Sekhiya Rules Reconsidered

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 […]

Dharmaguptakas and the Stupa

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 […]

Sects & Sectarianism

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.

White Bones Red Rot Black Snakes

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

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 to Grow a Nun

How monas­tics, es­pe­cially nuns, are trained at Santi Forest Monastery, in ac­cor­dance with the orig­i­nal Vinaya, and in­cor­po­rat­ing the best mod­ern prac­tices.

Bhikkhunis in Thai Monastic Education

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.

Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies

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

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.