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A Mosaic of Traditions - One Virtual Sangha => The Dharma Express => Topic started by: Yeshe on August 14, 2011, 05:57:12 am

Title: Self- Ordination
Post by: Yeshe on August 14, 2011, 05:57:12 am
Aside from the online religious organisations offering ordination, there is a tradition of self-ordination in Buddhism.

For those with a dislike of institutionalised rules and requirements, this may be a useful course of action.

I offer two sources for info or discussion.

The first adopts a Vinaya-based model:

http://ia700604.us.archive.org/5/items/BuddhistSelf-ordinationADharmaStrategyForTheWest/BuddhistSelf-ordination7.pdf (http://ia700604.us.archive.org/5/items/BuddhistSelf-ordinationADharmaStrategyForTheWest/BuddhistSelf-ordination7.pdf)

The second adopts a Bodhisattva Vow form:

http://homepage.mac.com/kemlo/Mukyoho/page8/page8.html (http://homepage.mac.com/kemlo/Mukyoho/page8/page8.html)

Is either model particularly applicable to the West?

As a householder I don't believe that I could adhere to the Vinaya-based ordination, but could certainly abide by the Bodhisattva Vow model, having already taken these vows, and other sets of vows, within intitutionalised Buddhism.

Time to create precision in terminology?

I would also seek to have some clarity in the terms used within Buddhism and would personally adopt 'Priest' and 'Priestess' for one whose holds the Bodhisattva Ordination, and the terms 'Monk' and 'Nun' to indicate those taking the Vinaya Ordination, irrespective of whether these were obtained through a preceptor or by self-ordination.


If the thread produces anguish at the cheek of even suggesting ordination without institutional sanction, then I'll ask it to be moved to the DZ. ;)
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Caz on August 14, 2011, 07:38:17 am
Its long been said that there should be Mahayana ordination vows rather the following the Srvakayana model of ordination, Doesnt make much sense considering that the goals are different.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Yeshe on August 14, 2011, 09:34:24 am
Its long been said that there should be Mahayana ordination vows rather the following the Srvakayana model of ordination, Doesnt make much sense considering that the goals are different.


it's not only been said, it's been done. ;)

The link about the Bodhisattva ordination is interesting.  Apparently, self-ordination and institutional ordination of this type has been conducted without the Vinaya for many years and by some of the founders of the Japanese schools, for example:

http://homepage.mac.com/kemlo/Mukyoho/page27/page27.html (http://homepage.mac.com/kemlo/Mukyoho/page27/page27.html)

The other source also states that several Japanese schools were founded by 'Bodhisattva Monks' .
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Amitabha on August 14, 2011, 07:46:19 pm
Quote
As a householder I don't believe that I could adhere to the Vinaya-based ordination, but could certainly abide by the Bodhisattva Vow model, having already taken these vows, and other sets of vows, within intitutionalised Buddhism.

Can the difference be elaborated? Thanks
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Yeshe on August 15, 2011, 01:00:04 am
Quote
As a householder I don't believe that I could adhere to the Vinaya-based ordination, but could certainly abide by the Bodhisattva Vow model, having already taken these vows, and other sets of vows, within intitutionalised Buddhism.

Can the difference be elaborated? Thanks

There is some interpretation which complicates the simple vows, such as the vow not to take intoxicants, where one could argue that 'to excess' is really what was meant, i.e. to the extent that it leads to breaches of other vows.

However, the Vinaya requires celibacy pure and simple, which is not the case for Bodhisattva ordination.  That is probably the biggest difference which affects a householder.  Some of the archaic minor rules would also be impossible to keep, as quoted in the link.

There are also 'in between' cases, for example the Ngagpa (Ngakpa) in Tibet who adhere to the Vinaya except in terms of celibacy and may be married and have children. They are still 'Lamas'.

I would also say the such vows of celibacy are not necessarily permanent, as some monks disrobe and ordain again in later life, and may do so a few times, so being celibate only temporarily.

In short, the Vinaya completely prohibits sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. ;)
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Yeshe on August 15, 2011, 01:08:38 am
Another interesting aspect is something I interpret to mean that the Tibetan schools may also recognise the Bodhisattva form of ordination, as shown here in Tsongkhapa's Prayer of the Stages of the Path:

''But I cannot become a Buddha
By this alone without three ethics;
So bless me with the strength to practise
The Bodhisattva’s ordination.''


It is, however, set within the context that Tantric vows and practices supercede all else.

Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Amitabha on August 15, 2011, 01:28:04 am
So, it seemed that the vinaya is sort of baby till teenager, while bodhisavatta ordination is adulthood! It there possibility of incorporating both vinaya and bodhisavattas?
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Yeshe on August 15, 2011, 02:55:34 am
So, it seemed that the vinaya is sort of baby till teenager, while bodhisavatta ordination is adulthood! It there possibility of incorporating both vinaya and bodhisavattas?

In the Mahayana, many do take Bodhisattva Vows as well as ordaining in the Vinaya, for example in the Tibetan traditions.

The difference in celibacy, for example, is more to do with monastic life and family life rather than age.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: lowonthetotem on August 15, 2011, 08:13:05 am
Quote
For those with a dislike of institutionalised rules and requirements, this may be a useful course of action.

I wonder why someone who sees only the evils of institutions would want to be ordained in the first place. I wonder if self-ordination is really just ordaining the "self?"  If there is a "tradition" of this, isn't that tradition an institution?  Being ordained implies that you gain authority by submitting to the judgement of a higher authority.  If we supplant that authority with our own judgement, isn't that a little hypocritical?  "Ordination" literally means "to make official."  Why would those who dislike officiality seek to be official if not to set themselves up as the judge of what is and is not official.

We are all capable of reading the Dharma and applying it to our actions.  That we are not all very capable of applying it consistently is the reason why monastic life is necessary, as well as ordination as householder within a tradition.  It offers the opportunity to "check in" and be "checkeded up on."  If you don't like being checked up on, you may want to consider your motivations for wanting to be both ordained and self-ordained.

I wonder if self-ordination really just amounts to a way of assigning ourselves a title to satisfy the ego.  "When they say that you're not good enough, the answer is you're not."

I am not trying to start a huge debate or saying that this doesn't have a place where access to "official Dharma transmission" is unavailable.  I just think folks should be very careful about their motivations and try to assess them fairly before engaging in such a practice.

I was ordained as a householder, and when I couldn't live up to my vows, I let the ordination lapse.  It seemed like the only right thing to do, since I really wasn't ready for it from the beginning.  I plan to renew my precet vows and refuge vows in a couple of weeks, but this will not mean a renewal of my ordination.  I am still considering whether that is really necessary for me, so I appreciate the thread, as it gives me a reason to reassess my own motivations behind such a move.  Part of being ordained is being an example.

Precept vows, refuge vows, Bodhisattva vows, and others don't really imply ordination and are non-sectarian, IMO.  They are available to be taken hundreds of times if necessary before we develop the will and ability to follow them perfectly.  When we can follow them perfectly is when we should ordain.  If we carry officiality, yet cannot or will not follow all our vows, this creates doubt in the Dharma, which should be considered unacceptable for the ordained.  This may be exceedingly difficulty for someone who has poo-pooed the support/authority of the "official" Sangha.  Creating doubt in the Dharma does not aid in liberation.  It is fine to doubt and examine the Dharma yourself, but setting yourself up as an "official" example and creating doubt in the Dharma in others is a very different matter.  I just wonder if people who consider self-ordination are really keeping this in mind or even really understand what "ordination" is, inside or outside Buddhism.  I certainly don't think it would be the case 100% of the time, but it seems to open the door to simply using Buddhism to put another feather in our cap alot wider.  The title of "ordained" is only valid because it involves supplication rather than insistence.  We are all capable of supplicating to the non-sectarian Dharma without carrying a title, and I wonder if self-ordination actually works against such supplication.

Zen practicioners should at least review the Four Acts of the Mahayana before considering such a move.  I am not sure that this is a precedented practice in Zen as it is in the Tibetan tradition.

In the sense of fairness, the Chinese tradition has several renowned lay people.  I am not sure of their ordination status, and again, there are such creatures as ordained lay people (the Sangha has been 4 fold since the beginning).  In the Japanese tradition, there are many ordained monastics and priests of whom it could be said they created doubt in the Dharma.  A famous one is Ikkyu, who proclaimed his enlightenment as he visited prostitutes.  So it can be said that ordination makes no guarantees.  That is up to the individual.  Of course, that brings us back to the motivations behind ordination.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Monkey Mind on August 15, 2011, 08:43:01 am
Thanks, LOTT, you make the same points I was wondering about myself. As a layperson, I can choose to aspire to be a leader among laity, a minister of sorts. But the function of ordaining seems to move in a different direction. When I think of the benefits of ordination, I think of Sangha or "community", and the quality control that comes from adhering to a lineage of the ordained. Self-ordination seems to circumvent all that. I know my inner nature well enough to know that I would follow my Wrong Views down a rabbit hole and I would end up vehemently defending ideas that are probably contrary to Buddhism. The monks and nuns I meet with belong to a community that provides checks and balances for both quality of practice and quality of teaching. Their rules are necessarily strict, and not at all compatible with modern lay life.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Yeshe on August 15, 2011, 09:23:03 am
Quote
For those with a dislike of institutionalised rules and requirements, this may be a useful course of action.

I wonder why someone who sees only the evils of institutions would want to be ordained in the first place. I wonder if self-ordination is really just ordaining the "self?"  If there is a "tradition" of this, isn't that tradition an institution?  Being ordained implies that you gain authority by submitting to the judgement of a higher authority.  If we supplant that authority with our own judgement, isn't that a little hypocritical?  "Ordination" literally means "to make official."  Why would those who dislike officiality seek to be official if not to set themselves up as the judge of what is and is not official.

We are all capable of reading the Dharma and applying it to our actions.  That we are not all very capable of applying it consistently is the reason why monastic life is necessary, as well as ordination as householder within a tradition.  It offers the opportunity to "check in" and be "checkeded up on."  If you don't like being checked up on, you may want to consider your motivations for wanting to be both ordained and self-ordained.

I wonder if self-ordination really just amounts to a way of assigning ourselves a title to satisfy the ego.  "When they say that you're not good enough, the answer is you're not."

I am not trying to start a huge debate or saying that this doesn't have a place where access to "official Dharma transmission" is unavailable.  I just think folks should be very careful about their motivations and try to assess them fairly before engaging in such a practice.

I was ordained as a householder, and when I couldn't live up to my vows, I let the ordination lapse.  It seemed like the only right thing to do, since I really wasn't ready for it from the beginning.  I plan to renew my precet vows and refuge vows in a couple of weeks, but this will not mean a renewal of my ordination.  I am still considering whether that is really necessary for me, so I appreciate the thread, as it gives me a reason to reassess my own motivations behind such a move.  Part of being ordained is being an example.

Precept vows, refuge vows, Bodhisattva vows, and others don't really imply ordination and are non-sectarian, IMO.  They are available to be taken hundreds of times if necessary before we develop the will and ability to follow them perfectly.  When we can follow them perfectly is when we should ordain.  If we carry officiality, yet cannot or will not follow all our vows, this creates doubt in the Dharma, which should be considered unacceptable for the ordained.  This may be exceedingly difficulty for someone who has poo-pooed the support/authority of the "official" Sangha.  Creating doubt in the Dharma does not aid in liberation.  It is fine to doubt and examine the Dharma yourself, but setting yourself up as an "official" example and creating doubt in the Dharma in others is a very different matter.  I just wonder if people who consider self-ordination are really keeping this in mind or even really understand what "ordination" is, inside or outside Buddhism.  I certainly don't think it would be the case 100% of the time, but it seems to open the door to simply using Buddhism to put another feather in our cap alot wider.  The title of "ordained" is only valid because it involves supplication rather than insistence.  We are all capable of supplicating to the non-sectarian Dharma without carrying a title, and I wonder if self-ordination actually works against such supplication.

Zen practicioners should at least review the Four Acts of the Mahayana before considering such a move.  I am not sure that this is a precedented practice in Zen as it is in the Tibetan tradition.

In the sense of fairness, the Chinese tradition has several renowned lay people.  I am not sure of their ordination status, and again, there are such creatures as ordained lay people (the Sangha has been 4 fold since the beginning).  In the Japanese tradition, there are many ordained monastics and priests of whom it could be said they created doubt in the Dharma.  A famous one is Ikkyu, who proclaimed his enlightenment as he visited prostitutes.  So it can be said that ordination makes no guarantees.  That is up to the individual.  Of course, that brings us back to the motivations behind ordination.

OK, I'll put up a few answers, some of which I believe.  I should also add for thsoe who don't know that I have attended classes and received vows exclusively from institutions such as the Gelugpa, without which I would probably have strayed long ago.  ;)

The answer is that a person may see the evils of an institution but it does not follow that this automatically makes them see ordination as evil, albeit that it could be used for negative reasons - as a 'permission' which gives control over other beings.

Ordination is also not about 'joining' an institution or having pride in your new robes and new 'authority'.  Institutions may be potentially every bit as 'self' focused as any individual..  After all, they are just collections of individuals with delusions.

I'm sure there are many who want to boost the ego through self-ordination, or buy an online doctorate etc etc.   I saw plenty in the martial arts who were pretty crap and never made it to 1st Dan black belt, so they joined a dodgy organisation and suddenly became 3rd Dan.  But they were still crap.

As you say, the precepts are there to guide us, not to boost our 'self'.  We do not need a higher authority to which we appeal ,or to give us permission to take vows, surely. Support, maybe, but what essential function is there to a preceptor in the actual process of taking vows, which we may not now recieve from online guidance, for example.  Sure, I'd want to check the vows carefully, just as I wouldn't get  a tattoo in Kanji which I didn't know.?

Self-ordination is either valid or not - I don't think it matters if there are or are not institutionalised varieties available.   So who validates an ordination?  If there is Refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Enlightened Sangha it is maybe more direct than regarding your guru as Buddha and your local sangha as representational of the support of the Enlightened Sangha. Aren't ordained sangha just dharma friends, the same as our lay dharma friends but with a few extra vows?

I should say at this point that I don't want to confuse the role of the 'guru' or 'lama' with ordination, as I want to focus on the value of ordination rather than the value of having a guru.

There are valid reasons for avoiding many institutions.  Off the top of my head:

 - Because they may only be in the 'business' of Buddhism to exploit others by tying them in to a prescribed ordination etc. for the selfish purposes of the leaders.

 - Because maybe there is simply no need of buying a particular brand or the label it gives you.

 - Because none of those institutions can claim their ordination as 'better' than self-ordination.

Buddha is recorded as saying that in the case of the vows,  the minor ones may be amended or deleted. So if one person decides to amend them and form a new Zen school, is that any worse than someone else who forms an institution where they retain more of those vows.

I think we are in danger of freezing Buddhism and regarding the actions of people in history as the final word in what Buddhism is, or should be.  You could even see some of thsoe figures as interposing themselves between us and Buddha.  Is there really a difference between someone setting up a new school now and using amended vows, and someone doing it 1,000 or 2,000 years ago?

There is a huge vested self-interest in preserving 'traditions' and 'lineages' as these are the products for which a market demand may be created, perceived as essential to enlightenment.  Monastics have received lay support for many reasons, such as lay supporters being told they will gain 'merit' - which could be perceived as the currency of the monastics.  That's looking at the transaction as a marketing activity.

I think a person who takes ordination vows (Bodhisattva or Vinaya) and keeps them purely should be able to legitimately adopt the label of Priest, Priestess, Monk or Nun, and use it if they are in a situation where that helps others, perhaps through teaching others or supporting their paths.

Equally, I think it may be much easier for an institution to hide  those who fail to keep their vows - there's plenty of evidence of cover-ups etc..

Surely the shramana/sramana path should be as available today as it has always been.

I guess the acid test is not whether institutions recognise the self-ordained, or those who take Bodhisattva ordination or variants of the Vinaya ordination, and keep thsoe vows purely.  The acid test is surely whether Buddha would have recognised such a committed person as ordained.  I'd like to think so. :)
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Amitabha on August 15, 2011, 05:03:02 pm
So, it seemed that the vinaya is sort of baby till teenager, while bodhisavatta ordination is adulthood! It there possibility of incorporating both vinaya and bodhisavattas?

In the Mahayana, many do take Bodhisattva Vows as well as ordaining in the Vinaya, for example in the Tibetan traditions.

The difference in celibacy, for example, is more to do with monastic life and family life rather than age.
Oh i see! Thanks. As for the teenage and adulthood are just a metaphor. :D
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Yeshe on August 16, 2011, 02:10:53 am
Here is another view on self-ordination which appears to reflect a resistance to the insistence of centralised monastic institutions that people should ordain through them:

http://www.hermitary.com/articles/thudong.html (http://www.hermitary.com/articles/thudong.html)

''Jataka asceticism was continued in Sri Lanka by Pannananda's disciple Subodnanda, who developed a village asceticism wherein a discipline for laity was not based on scholarly or monastic models. Subodnanda also introduced the notion of self-ordination when the sanghas of cities and towns refused to cede their authority. From village-based asceticism in Sri Lanka came the later break to the creation of small monastic communities based on non-authoritarian decision-making and dwelling in the forests. These small communities of monks (largely self-ordained) were conceived of as a primeval sangha in a style that the historical Gautama would have approved, according to its Sri Lankan champion Ratanapala Asmandale, who lived through the mid-twentieth century.''

Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: lowonthetotem on August 17, 2011, 07:19:55 am
Quote
I saw plenty in the martial arts who were pretty crap and never made it to 1st Dan black belt, so they joined a dodgy organisation and suddenly became 3rd Dan.  But they were still crap.

I saw this too in Shakuhachi.  The guys that get ahead are usually the ones that do lots of free stuff, producing his CD's and books and stuff, for the Sensei, regardless of skill.  I never sought certification, so it never concerned me much (or did it ... hmmm, I mean I am writing about it).  I just always gave the teacher the benefit of the doubt and assumed, either correctly or otherwise, that he understood something about instruction that I wasn't seeing.  Maybe it was more about being part of the student body and promoting the school more than it was about skill.  I definitely was not "joiner" in that regard.  I generally chalked it up to me being jealous.  Whether I was justified or not didn't seem as important as what it showed me about myself.

Again, I don't mean to insinuate that everyone who self-ordains is doing it for the wrong reasons.  It just seems to be a tricky animal and much more oriented to the very serious and sincere practitioner, although its appeal seems like it would be terribly tempting to the less circumspect individual.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Mahasiddha Bodhisattva on May 31, 2012, 04:28:22 pm
Namaskar! I am very gratified that this discussion forum has chosen to mention my book, Buddhist Self-Ordination: A Dharma Strategy for the West, published by Chroniker Press. Perhaps your readers would also be interested in my WordPress blog and Youtube channel related to this and related topics. I would also be happy to clarify any questions that may arise, as some of the comments do represent a misunderstanding of certain aspects of my view.

http://palisuttas.com/ (http://palisuttas.com/)

http://www.youtube.com/user/PaliSuttas (http://www.youtube.com/user/PaliSuttas)



Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Hanzze on May 31, 2012, 08:36:34 pm
I am not sure if a self-ordination is quite a good step into Dharma, but for sure the self is responsible for such ideas.

The only strategy that is behind that strategy is the mind protecting it's ways to survive. Very western indeed.

It was always quite normal that aside of the tradition there have been not ordinated ascetics, but they did not have the idea of calling it ordination. They just walked their ways which they were able to.

Not everybody is able to give up own ideas for a community, but that is ok.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Mahasiddha Bodhisattva on June 01, 2012, 05:36:17 am
The self-vow or self ordination is outlined by Queen Śrimālā in the Śrimālā sūtra and a guide for it’s undertaking is found in the Brahma Net Sutra (Bonmõkyõ 梵 網 経). This is the Bodhisattva ordination. The idea of self-ordination in Japan dates back to the self-vow ordination of Prince Shõtoku (573-621), and performed by Empress Suiko the 33rd ruler of Japan and the first Buddhist monarch (reigned 554-628). Prince Shõtoku lectured twice on this text before the throne. On the second occasion the Empress Suiko stood up before the Buddha images and loudly repeated Queen Śrimālā’s vows as her own. This was the first example of the self-vow ordination ever practised in Japan and is recorded in the Kojiki (古事記 680 A.D.). Prince Shõtoku later followed her lead.  This tradition is universal and dharmic. In Tibet it is related to the mahasiddhas, who are superior practitioners to monastics. Also read the 84 mahasiddhas. In fact, the dependence on ecclesiastical authoritarianism and rules is exoteric and Western. It is a sign of decadence and degeneration.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: santamonicacj on June 01, 2012, 01:13:30 pm
In fact, the dependence on ecclesiastical authoritarianism and rules is exoteric and Western. It is a sign of decadence and degeneration.

I'm not a big fan of participating in large religious institutions myself, although I do see their value as well as their problems. However the idea that the Vinaya is somehow Western, decadent and degenerate doesn't hold up to historical analysis.

You could, however, say that they are 'exoteric' if you are using the term to mean, "intended for or likely to be understood by the general public: an exoteric, literal meaning and an esoteric, inner teaching.". So yes, they are meant to be understood literally, as in "no sex, no drinking, no killing, etc" as meaning exactly and literally what they say.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Hanzze on June 01, 2012, 09:45:52 pm
The self-vow or self ordination is outlined by Queen Śrimālā in the Śrimālā sūtra and a guide for it’s undertaking is found in the Brahma Net Sutra (Bonmõkyõ 梵 網 経). This is the Bodhisattva ordination. The idea of self-ordination in Japan dates back to the self-vow ordination of Prince Shõtoku (573-621), and performed by Empress Suiko the 33rd ruler of Japan and the first Buddhist monarch (reigned 554-628). Prince Shõtoku lectured twice on this text before the throne. On the second occasion the Empress Suiko stood up before the Buddha images and loudly repeated Queen Śrimālā’s vows as her own. This was the first example of the self-vow ordination ever practised in Japan and is recorded in the Kojiki (古事記 680 A.D.). Prince Shõtoku later followed her lead.  This tradition is universal and dharmic. In Tibet it is related to the mahasiddhas, who are superior practitioners to monastics. Also read the 84 mahasiddhas. In fact, the dependence on ecclesiastical authoritarianism and rules is exoteric and Western. It is a sign of decadence and degeneration.

Maybe you should think if that was an intention of the Buddha or a selfish idea of somebody else later on. You know, such attitudes are not new as well as doubts are not new.
And sometimes there are not the right conditions, but its better to work on the conditions as to adopt the Dharma-vinaya to conditions which are not basic for it.

As said, its no problem if you wander alone if there is no one equal to your own virtue be found. If we should call that ordination... that could give much support to arrogance if the true intention is something different.

Quote
A Sense That Your Arm is Short ([url]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/chah/insimpleterms.html[/url])

The Buddha's teachings are direct, straightforward, and simple, but hard for someone who's starting to practice them because his knowledge can't reach them. It's like a hole: People by the hundreds and thousands complain that the hole is deep because they can't reach to its bottom. There's hardly anybody who will say that the problem is that his arm is short.

The Buddha taught us to abandon evil of every kind. We skip over this part and go straight to making merit without abandoning evil. It's the same as saying the hole is deep. Those who say their arms are short are rare.


Of cause a Bodhisattva vow is always just personal vow, but ordination to the community of the Buddha is something different. One does not necessary conflicting the other, but a wrong vow a wrong understanding of compassion could hinder one to take part on the way Buddha told.

The only authority walking the Way of Vinaya is the Vinaya it self. If one has problem with authorities, well how could he even ordinate him self? To his personal ideas?
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: truemoves on June 16, 2012, 09:39:33 am
If a person wishes to be a renunciant, follow a set of training rules, and strive to develop virtue, concentration and wisdom then no one is stopping them, it's what the Buddha himself did and had already been a practice in India for some time. Here in the west we don't have a recognizable practice like that. If you drop out you are seen as a crazy person. I hope we can change that.

If you are going to call yourself a self ordained Buddhist monk then other people may have a problem with it. Perhaps such an undertaking would make you a monk in many peoples eyes but for both good and bad reasons others may not approve.

To me the benefit of the robes and shaved head is that it shows the general public that you are up to something outside of societies regular activities. In a way, it gives one the ok to be different. If you beg for food in robes versus in street clothes the perception of some people will be drastically different. It's my understanding that many of the rules in the Vinaya were made by the Buddha for just that reason, to create harmony between the Monks and lay people by understanding and playing on their perceptions. Of the Monks I have spent time with, whom I all have great respect for, their robes give them more than the mark of a renunciant. They are doted on by lay people in regard to requisites. Though the Vinaya helps protect them from exploiting that, there is more room in the middle path for self led  renunciants, Buddhist or otherwise.
 
Many people in the west want to ordain and the type of infrastructure the Sangha is developing here just isn't able to accommodate. The Monasteries I have been to all over the world have been amazing places for practice, yet It can be hard to sift out the Asian culture and ritual  from the monastic culture.

Here in Canada I think its a good time for people to experiment with alternative ways of renunciation. The trail blazers may come off as cooky or crazy but they are doing something important in my eyes, misguided or otherwise.

Best wishes

Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: J. McKenna on June 16, 2012, 10:14:47 am
one can attempt to hug oneself   or  kiss oneself    or    ordain oneself     all are alike in being self centered acts that reinforce that which is not
 
ordained at birth as practicing human     graduation or promotion to come at death   no choice in either
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Mahasiddha Bodhisattva on June 16, 2012, 11:22:10 am
Self-ordination is sutric. See the Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala and the Brahma Net Sutra. The Tathagatagarbha doctrine is a major doctrine of universal Buddhism. Several major traditions were founded by self-ordained practitioners. I would also cite the Buddha's comments about the significance of the robe in the Pali Canon. I am wondering if perhaps the problem is with the word "ordination." That is just an English word. Perhaps the problem is purely semantic.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: truemoves on June 16, 2012, 02:35:32 pm
Self-ordination is sutric. See the Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala and the Brahma Net Sutra. The Tathagatagarbha doctrine is a major doctrine of universal Buddhism. Several major traditions were founded by self-ordained practitioners. I would also cite the Buddha's comments about the significance of the robe in the Pali Canon. I am wondering if perhaps the problem is with the word "ordination." That is just an English word. Perhaps the problem is purely semantic.

People have been renouncing worldly life and putting on ochre robes in India before Buddha was born, many of which were not ordained in any organization, including the Buddha. They wouldn't be called  self ordained, they just started living that lifestyle and wearing rag robes.

Buddha set up a Vinaya governed order as he went along and it was constantly changing. Many traditions no longer have a direct lineage so their ordinations are probably not seen as valid by those who do. Having said that , just because someone is ordained with a far reaching lineage , doesn't give them a monopoly on the Dhamma or renunciation. It does give them exclusive rights to ordination within that lineage. Many people are self centred, ordained and otherwise. If you believe the Buddhas most basic teachings then we are all deluded until we are enlightened so we shouldn't insult each other. We should try to understand and find ways to support right practice. The strictest traditions will not ordain women because of their devotion and respect for Vinaya. The Buddha is said to have been asked what the Sangha should do regarding the rules when he died and I think his answer was intentionally vague in order that Dhamma could  unfold in various ways for future generations, to give its seeds more opportunity to grow. He is said to have told them to keep the major rules and gave them permission to drop the lesser rules. However there were more than two classes of rules so in the confusion the first split of the Sangha happened. Mahayana has since proliferated the most since they chose to drop some of the Vinaya. And the Theravadins have kept the core teachings and traditions alive for thousands of years. We are so lucky to have such a broad expression of his teaching. Many great teachers have come and gone in various traditions including non Buddhist ones. It is for each one of us to determine our own path and find our way to relieve suffering and we can look for practical, compassionate ways to support each other even if our paths are not identical.

If someone wants to call themselves self ordained in a lineage that practised self ordination then It sounds kosher to me. But some people are going to have a problem with it to be sure. Such is life! Problematic.  :anjali:


Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Mahasiddha Bodhisattva on June 16, 2012, 03:25:49 pm
Quote
Its long been said that there should be Mahayana ordination vows rather the following the Srvakayana model of ordination, Doesnt make much sense considering that the goals are different.


the Ten Mahayana Precepts are practically a digest of the Vinaya. I only had to revise them slightly to incorporate the entire Vinaya precepts into them, getting rid of the silly ones like not sitting in a chair on a floor with a missing plank - very sensible perhaps, but hardly a precondition of realization.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: J. McKenna on June 16, 2012, 03:26:20 pm
irrelevant are all    ordinations     robes        titles         traditions lineages          doctrines    words   semantics
 
 
 
 
relevance is itself irrelevant
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Mahasiddha Bodhisattva on June 16, 2012, 03:50:53 pm
What is relevant?
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: J. McKenna on June 16, 2012, 04:45:49 pm
irrelevance
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Mahasiddha Bodhisattva on June 16, 2012, 05:11:27 pm
Sounds like nihilism.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: truemoves on June 16, 2012, 06:56:12 pm
This thread may be relevant or irrelevant, it may be both relevant and irrelevant or it could be neither relevant nor irrelevant.

Regardless it is a thread about self ordination.

Mahasiddha Bodhisattva, to what comment regarding the significance of the robes in the Pali Canon are you referring to?

Best

 
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Mahasiddha Bodhisattva on June 17, 2012, 09:22:50 am
Quote
Mahasiddha Bodhisattva, to what comment regarding the significance of the robes in the Pali Canon are you referring to?


Here is the a famous passage from the Dhammapada, Chapter 1:

9.   Whoever is impure without self-control and truthfulness, not worthy of the pure yellow robe that he wears. (9)

10.   Whoever is pure, well established in morals and endowed with self -control and truthfulness, is worthy of the pure yellow robe that he wears. (10)


Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: J. McKenna on June 17, 2012, 02:59:09 pm
Sounds like nihilism.

really          how distorted        but such are beliefs      they distort ones world and how one sees others and their world
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: Lobster on September 05, 2012, 12:58:13 am
It is easy enough to find online advisement
http://greatmiddleway.wordpress.com/online-course/ (http://greatmiddleway.wordpress.com/online-course/)

and to be given ordination
http://yinyana.tumblr.com/post/30916789642/re-fugue (http://yinyana.tumblr.com/post/30916789642/re-fugue)

. . . and generally obey our higher impulse and ideals

May all Beings, Buddhas, Bodhisattva
Demons in bikinis and Dakinis without demons
Be at Peace [unless their preferences are elsewhere]
Title: Self-ordination
Post by: Snow Monkey on November 05, 2014, 02:13:07 pm
I find this discussion very interesting.  I know it is "old" but will be a subject, I think, that continues to be timeless.  At first I posted comments here, but then decided since I was new I wold re-start the thread in "new threads." I'd like to hear more of people's thoughts.
Title: Re: Self- Ordination
Post by: 1Buddhist on August 01, 2018, 09:01:16 pm
Aside from the online religious organisations offering ordination, there is a tradition of self-ordination in Buddhism.

For those with a dislike of institutionalised rules and requirements, this may be a useful course of action.

I offer two sources for info or discussion.

The first adopts a Vinaya-based model:

[url]http://ia700604.us.archive.org/5/items/BuddhistSelf-ordinationADharmaStrategyForTheWest/BuddhistSelf-ordination7.pdf[/url] ([url]http://ia700604.us.archive.org/5/items/BuddhistSelf-ordinationADharmaStrategyForTheWest/BuddhistSelf-ordination7.pdf[/url])

The second adopts a Bodhisattva Vow form:

[url]http://homepage.mac.com/kemlo/Mukyoho/page8/page8.html[/url] ([url]http://homepage.mac.com/kemlo/Mukyoho/page8/page8.html[/url])

Is either model particularly applicable to the West?

As a householder I don't believe that I could adhere to the Vinaya-based ordination, but could certainly abide by the Bodhisattva Vow model, having already taken these vows, and other sets of vows, within intitutionalised Buddhism.

Time to create precision in terminology?

I would also seek to have some clarity in the terms used within Buddhism and would personally adopt 'Priest' and 'Priestess' for one whose holds the Bodhisattva Ordination, and the terms 'Monk' and 'Nun' to indicate those taking the Vinaya Ordination, irrespective of whether these were obtained through a preceptor or by self-ordination.


If the thread produces anguish at the cheek of even suggesting ordination without institutional sanction, then I'll ask it to be moved to the DZ. ;)


Yeshe; I am grateful for your post. I am aware that thisis an older post, however I have had MANY questions concerning this subject. I have taken both the refuge and Bodhisattva vows through the NKT. One because they were the only local institution or Buddhist center that I could get to talk to me or even show any kindness to me. Regardless of where I took my vows, I did take them. But as it is, I am unable to be ordained through any center, partly because I cannot travel over seas, but also because I am married, and my spouse doesn’t want my head shaved or to become celibate. Other than that I am a home owner and with that certain responsibilities. I have very greatly desire to be ordained. And reguarding your post that taking the Bodhisattva vows is in fact an ordination. I am a westerner, USA. And as such, unable to obtain a monastic ordination. My question is, if the Bodhisattva vows are a qualified type of ordination, is it then permissible for one who has taken these vows to wear the robes as the monks and nuns do, especially if those vows are taken very seriously and well guarded / respected, and have kept them faithfully? I should also mention that I have been a faithful practitioner for about four years now. I seek ordination be cause I see the beauty and humble honor of it, not at all to boost the ego or to gain authority as many would think. To me it is an honorable service, that I greatly respect. Also I see no evils of the institutions I love them all. The problem that I have is that there are no institutions who can or will ordain in my area. I know of nothing nearby either. I have spoken to many locally, and they all require the person being ordained to travel overseas which I can not do. I would also like to know why it is that some monks and Nuns, that I have seen online, or in the media are unshaved. I am in understanding that with exception to extenuating circumstances Buddhist monks and nuns when ordained are required to shave their heads....
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