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Monks and priests

To: talk.religion.buddhism
From: (John Neatrour)
Subject: Re: Monks and priests
Date: 17 Nov 1995 18:48:34 GMT

In article <>,
Bob Laughton  wrote:

>To become a Bhiksu or Bhiksuni requires a formal ordination in which Bhiksus
>recieve 250 precepts and Bhiksunis recieve 348 precepts. If I remember
>correctly, the Precept Platform lasts 18 days, and requires a minimum of
>seven senior Sangha who have been ordained a minimum of 5 years. 

this does not apply to the case of Japanese lineages. the ordination to
the full set of precepts was made a monopoly of the Todaiji by imperial 
edict way before the 10th century. 

later lineages arriving in Japan found this very
uncomfortable as the ordination to the full set of precepts required
completing training in accord with the sect in control of Todaiji. the
founders of the Tendai and Shingon lineages were faced with the choice
restructuring the ordination or seeing their Dharma terminate without
succession. they dispensed with the 250 precepts of the Sarvastivadin
Bhikshu ordination and retained the smaller set of several dozen
Bdodhisattva precepts of the Brahmajala sutra. their monks (Bhikshus)
were recognized as such in Japan.

later Dogen was faced with a similar problem. the Tendai school in which he
had been ordained was granted a similar imperial monopoly on administering
the Brahmajala precepts. the Tendai school was hostile to Zen just as
Todaiji had been hostile to Tendai. Dogen was faced with the problem of 
either not propagating the Dharma or revising the ordination for monks. he
chose the latter. as a result the ordination for a novice priest/monk consists
of only the 16 Bodhisattva precepts.

as a result of external political pressure the number of precepts involved
in ordination as a monk or priest may vary from sect to sect in Japanese


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