Welcome admin !

It is currently Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:29 pm
Pathway:  Board index General Buddhist Discussion Mahayana Buddhism

This shaved head thing

Discussion of general East-Asian Mahayana Buddhism, Sutras & Shastras.

This shaved head thing

Postby TonyD on Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:55 pm

Hi there,

Here something that has puzzled me for a while (it's not hard to do that). In Japanese Buddhism, it's my understanding that most all priests shave their heads as part of their overall clerical "look." Yet at the same time, Japanese priests are allowed to marry and have a family, if I'm not mistaken. But isn't that a little confusing? The shaved head sort of implies that you have renounced the world, like a fully ordained bhikkhu/monk, but in fact you have not.

Maybe this is no big deal to the Japanese, but it is befuddling to a completely ignorant outsider such as myself.

Thoughts?

Gassho
TonyD
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:00 pm

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby Meido on Tue Jan 19, 2016 8:10 pm

It is the norm for Japanese Zen priests to undergo a period of monastic training during which they do not marry/raise families. The option to marry afterward has existed openly since Meiji (19th century). However, even before that the full Bhiksu vinaya never took deep root in Japan, so comparisons to other places/traditions do not fully hold. Essentially, there is a spectrum in Japanese Buddhism that stretches from layperson to celibate monastic as in other traditions, but with more fluid divisions and movement.

The reasons for all of this are varied, but the history is easy to research and understand so I can not see any reason to become befuddled by it. I also do not see what bearing the precepts/vows of others might have on one's own practice, or on the relationship between oneself and one's teacher upon which Zen practice turns.

Finally, I do not say there is no renunciation in Zen. However, Zen is not a path of renunciation, and it has its own way of using concepts of vehicles (yana) as well as precepts/vows which are bound by neither common Mahayana interpretations, nor ones which might classically be called Hinayana.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
User avatar
Meido
Teacher
 
Posts: 954
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:22 am
Location: Madison, WI - USA

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:35 am

Even if not follically-challenged, some folks feel they have to fake it, is all. I think MTV popularized it.

--Joe
User avatar
desert_woodworker
 
Posts: 7261
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby Avisitor on Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:48 am

It seems understandable to under go a period of training where one turns inward to oneself and refrains from activities which do not promote learning and practice.
And, it also seems reasonable to call the eight fold path a middle path where one doesn't need to drop out of one's life (run away from wife and kids) in order to have a practice.
So, does shaving one's head really mean that one renounces worldly living and such?
Is it possible to be flexible in one's spiritual life to bring about the best in all that surrounds us?

Yeah, search the history of how Buddhism traveled from one land to another and how the people adapted it to their own tradition and culture.
Sounds like a start for a scholar of Buddhism.
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
User avatar
Avisitor
 
Posts: 1698
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:43 pm

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby TigerDuck on Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:11 pm

???

Can Japanese monk marry while he is still a monk?

Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.

[Nagarjuna]
User avatar
TigerDuck
 
Posts: 512
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:38 am

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby Seeker242 on Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:36 pm

The Japanese government essentially outlawed the vow of Buddhist monks to not marry.

The Meiji Restoration radically changed the relationship between the state and the Buddhist clergy. Meiji authorities quickly brought an official end to the Tokugawa state's efforts to regulate clerical deportment. Over a fifteen-year period, as in many modernizing Western nations, the clergy were stripped of privileges peculiar to their clerical status and came to differ "from other men in degree rather than in kind."13 In short order the Japanese Buddhist clergy were ordered to take surnames, to register in the universal household registration system, and to submit to national conscription. Most problematically, from the perspective of many clerical leaders, in 1872 Meiji officials promulgated a terse law that stated: "from now on Buddhist clerics shall be free to eat meat, marry, grow their hair, and so on. Furthermore, there will be no penalty if they wear ordinary clothing when not engaged in religious activities."14 Known informally as the nikujiki saitai law, this decriminalization measure triggered a century-long debate in the Buddhist world, as clerical leaders and rank-and-file clerics strove to interpret and react to their new legal context.


The formation of the new Meiji order reshuffled the relationship between Buddhist institutions and the state. Beginning with an outright hostility to Buddhism and a prioritization of Shinto, the privileged position of the clergy was destroyed and numerous regulations considered inimical to Buddhism were promulgated. The attacks on Buddhist temples, forced laicizations of the clergy, seizure of temple lands, and abolition of clerical perquisites were the culmination of a growing animosity toward Buddhism that can be traced well back into the Edo period. One manifestation of the state's hostility to Buddhism and the new vision of state-clerical relations was the adoption of the infamous law decriminalizing clerical meat eating, marriage, abandonment of tonsure, and wearing nonclerical garb.

http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s7171.html
Kill a cat, with a dried shit stick, under a cypress tree in the courtyard, while eating three pounds of flax! Only a cow goes Moooo!
User avatar
Seeker242
 
Posts: 1052
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:49 pm
Location: Florida

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby TonyD on Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:29 pm

Thanks, this is good information.
TonyD
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:00 pm

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby Meido on Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:58 pm

Seeker242 wrote:The Japanese government essentially outlawed the vow of Buddhist monks to not marry.


Well, not outlawed; celibacy remained (and remains) an option. The Meiji government's actions just decriminalized the choice to marry. There are still some Japanese Zen lines, in fact, which require celibacy as a condition for appointment to crucial positions, e.g. the shike (abbot) of a training monastery.

TigerDuck wrote:Can Japanese monk marry while he is still a monk?


Persons choosing to live as trainees within one of the rigorous monastic temples do not marry during their time there. Most live in such places for a formation period of 1-3 years, after which they might go take up duties at a smaller community temple; at that point they could marry and raise children, and typically the wife will take on crucial duties as well helping to run the place. Some, however, do choose to stay in a monastery for longer periods, and/or to remain celibate for life. The point is that there is choice.

I understand one problem with the English word "monk" is that it automatically implies celibacy to us. Unfortunately in Japanese there is no separate word of which I am aware for those who, after ordination, remain celibate as opposed to those who do not. These days the convention in the English-speaking Zen world seems to be using the word "priest" for persons who are ordained but not necessarily celibate, and "monk" for those who are indeed celibate. Obviously neither of these types take on the same vinaya as bhikkhu/bhiksu in other traditions, which as noted was never something widespread in Japanese Buddhism anyway; thus from the standpoint of fully ordained bhiksu outside of Japan, people like Daito Kokushi, Dogen, Hakuin and the rest - though celibate - were not Buddhist monks at all. Which I think is ok :)

Another model that bears some similarity in principle is, I think, found in Tibetan Buddhism; one may find therein monks observing the Mulasarvastivada vinaya; one may also find such persons who put down those vows for a time in order to pursue specific practices. One also finds various types of empowerment which do not involve bhiksu vinaya and may not require celibacy, but are still quite rigorous and demanding such that we might hesitate to call such persons "lay", for example ngakpa ordination.

Again, there are many reasons why this situation developed in Japan which are interesting. Ultimately, for us, there is also Zen's emphasis on the highest function of precepts as directly pointing out our nature.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
User avatar
Meido
Teacher
 
Posts: 954
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:22 am
Location: Madison, WI - USA

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby fukasetsu on Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:03 pm

TonyD wrote:Hi there,

Here something that has puzzled me for a while (it's not hard to do that). In Japanese Buddhism, it's my understanding that most all priests shave their heads as part of their overall clerical "look." Yet at the same time, Japanese priests are allowed to marry and have a family, if I'm not mistaken. But isn't that a little confusing? The shaved head sort of implies that you have renounced the world, like a fully ordained bhikkhu/monk, but in fact you have not.

Maybe this is no big deal to the Japanese, but it is befuddling to a completely ignorant outsider such as myself.

Thoughts?

Gassho


Shaving represents cutting ignorant grass, which I did also without ever cutting any hair.
It has nothing to do with how you interact socially, renouncing means renouncing ignorance,
not renouncing circumstances and conditions.
Everyone for President!
User avatar
fukasetsu
 
Posts: 7259
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:17 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby cam101+ on Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:02 am

"Shaving represents cutting ignorant grass, which I did also without ever cutting any hair.
It has nothing to do with how you interact socially, renouncing means renouncing ignorance,
not renouncing circumstances and conditions".

One of the most accurate statements I have heard in some time.
cam101+
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 9:24 pm

Re: This shaved head thing

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:21 am

Well, if you live in a community of monks or nuns, you do as they do.

Ritual and symbolism has religious meaning. Religion is medicine (for Buddhists). Shaving heads is yet another skilful means.

Granted, it's not for everyone. Especially bald people.

Hail!

--Joe
User avatar
desert_woodworker
 
Posts: 7261
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA


Return to Mahayana Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

 
RocketTheme Joomla Templates

Who is online

In total there are 3 users online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 3 guests (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 157 on Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:44 am

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests