Posted in On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

Ordinations – proof

How we have to prove our ordination in modern times? Can’t do it on handshake or based upon words, dream it or imagine it.  Frauds abound and have always been a problem, so the wise elders created certificates with clearly identifiable information on it. We carry this with us all the time, and safeguard it. It’s only produced when we reside as a guest in a new temple or as a new resident of another temple. Just usually once and only to a monastic Sangha member assigned to verify our status. This is usually a stamped or visibly signed ordination certificate from a national buddhist council with picture and numbers to cross check for verification.

Who participates in the process? The candidate, the preceptor, their temple, the ordination temple, their ordination committee, their national ordination council.  Ordination bodies that are designated as ordination councils are the only members allowed to issue certificates after full application is made by the candidate, the preceptor and the hosting ordination temple, verification by the preceptor during the arrival of the candidate, verifcation of completion of the ordination by the candidate and then later by the preceptor temple upon the newly ordaines return to the preceptor temple after.

Ordinations mean a great deal to communities that host them, their monastics and laypeople are proud to offer the opportunity for ordianation candidates and they often go to great lengths to be a part of dana or even present to witness the event.  Rarely ever done in secrecy for indeed what would be the purpose of that!  Ordinations are public events that anyone may witness standing outside the actual Sangha boundary.  Usually announced 2-3 months in advance to the local papers and community there is a flurry of activities to get ready for the event with candidates rushing to get their applications in and arranging transportation and schedules to accomodate the wonderful event!

Challenges happen and when it does it only involves, just Sangha members that are bhikshu or bhikshuni directly concerned with the matter, their residing temple, their respective ordination temples and those issuing ordination certification national councils concerned with discipline of either the bhikshuni or bhikshu. It only raises to next level of inquiry when there is missing usual information from those directly involved.

It is not a public matter to be discussed with laity or the public. Any complaints about monks or nuns should be brought to their attention first then that of the temple director or senior monk or nuns. There is formal Sangha inquiry on discipline matters that happen in meetings without lay people present to decide on investigation and consequences.

Legal matters involving Sangha requiring law enforcement are public matters that Sangha are subject to obey as per the country’s law and our Vinaya instruction. This is totally separate from Sangha matters regarding Vinaya. There is is no code of silence among Buddhist Sangha at all, nor sanctuary for those having done criminal acts trying to escape investigation and courts.

Gossip is to be discouraged among Sangha members and about Sangha itself and particularly about Sangha matters like adherance to Vinaya conduct. This being written, fakery is horribly abundant, and talk does happen; whether it is about fakes or the real thing it hurts the Sangha and our sense of community. There is a difference if Sangha members discuss a matter among themselves for sake of improving community and safeguarding their harmony which is for the better of the community rather than disparaging a group or a person. Unfortunately when something goes wrong there is an abundance of this type of non-virutous talk.

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Author:

I am a Bhikshuni ordained in Mahayana Chinese Buddhist tradition. I'm currently translating Vinaya sutras from the Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka.