Posted in Buddhism, Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Chan - authentic Masters words, Chinese culture, Confuscianism, Daoism/Taoism, Mahayana culture, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Temple life, Three Religions of China, Translation Resources, Vinaya

Calm Clarity Temple

English: A talisman from one of the Lingbao Sc...

I had expected some fanfare at least a post comment or two on Facebook  oh well people are busy. but I finally picked the temple name.

Calm Clarity Temple

It came from knowing what attributes I  carry and promote as the abbess. My main attributes are Calm and Clarity.  I am not  saying I am the best but it’s the attributes I want to carry forth as a signature of this temple and it’s mission to meet the communities needs here and carry on my translation efforts to have a complete Mahayana English Tripitaka of the Taisho Edition of the Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka.

The reason this edition is so important is that it is inclusive of the Pali Cannon and has an Esoteric Division (yes, people  Esoteric came from China through India as well as accumulations of the effects of adaptations to local religious beliefs and cultures.  It has all the schools in Buddhism in both Theravada and Mahayana including I suspect some of the older ones, that are not all translated out into English, what we have today is scholars works and they are not accessible, largely out of print or not available to the public.  It has commentaries, verses, records, and lineages of our Sangha, this may not be interesting reading but it is really good for us to know what bits from history we can glean from these being translated.

I honor my interest in Daoism with the recognition of a specific school, the Complete Reality School, it’s burned it’s place in my noggin.  I like it very much, I also have a title memorized “The Master Who Embraces Simplicity” from my early days of study of Chinese culture included the Three Religions of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism.  I liked monastic life for it was easy fit for my lifestyle the way I lived it and the way I thought about my life.  To honor me, and my past lives I chose Calm and Clarity for the temple attributes.  When you choose a temple name it’s to have a purpose to benefit the country, the states, the county and the town in which you live; that’s responsibility towards society creating positive conditions for prosperity, reduce conflicts and improve the quality of life for everyone.

The mission carries on the Bhikshuni one.  To create awareness of Vinaya Sangha residing in the USA. To provide Buddhist services and offer instruction in Buddhism to the public, and conduct creative, charitable, and education programs for interested persons.

The primary specialty is the translation of the Mahayana Tripitaka Taisho Edition in Chinese to English.  Serving as translator, education of translators, networking with translators around the world, being a part of the development of an international database the would provide free online access to all English translated Tripitaka materials.

English: Venerable Tzu Chuang, founder of Hsi ...
English: Venerable Tzu Chuang, founder of Hsi Lai Temple, in an alms begging round during Sangha Day, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Related articles

 

Advertisements
Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Conflicts in Buddhist Life, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships

Crimes against Nuns recent reports

A nun is gangraped by a bus driver and his busload of men who drag her off the bus to commit the deed.  What were they thinking, a robed nun! Whats wrong with those men! What’s wrong with that society! Nepal is the birth place of the Buddha! where is the justice!

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A 21-year-old Buddhist nun was gangraped by five men inside a bus in eastern Nepal, media reports said Monday.  The victim, a resident of Bhojpur district in eastern Nepal, was travelling by bus when she was attacked by the group, which also included the driver of the bus.

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=39,10274,0,0,1,0

CHINATOWN — A Buddhist nun giving out prayer beads on Canal Street to raise  money to rebuild her burned down temple was arrested and detained for several  hours without an interpreter, she told DNAinfo.

Police charged Baojing Li, 48, with  acting as an unlicensed vendor, a misdemeanor. They claim she hawked costume  jewelry at the corner of Canal and Mott Streets on June 2 without a license from  the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

But the religious woman, who wears a traditional Buddhist robe and has a  shaven head, says she was not selling the 50-cent strands of prayer beads, but  handing them out to generous people who dropped donations in her collection  tin.

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20110614/lower-east-side-east-village/buddhist-nun-arrested-after-handing-out-prayer-beads-on-canal-street#ixzz1QmsTIrFT

Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Conflicts in Buddhist Life, On the Path, Sangha Relationships

Teaching the unteachable-encounters with mentallly ill, and suffering Buddhists in the West

Gandhari Mayana scroll jar 1st c. BCE

This is a follow up to the first article.  Read what comments I have received and the original link to the article for more information in the previous post.  I really want to emphasis this blog is just for readers information and it’s not too detailed for a reason people just need to read sutras/suttas to get their own minds purified, note in the first article a link is provided of a typical interaction between myself and Daisy who was reporting in unrelated replies to the article that she had experienced abuse at the hands of named guru.  In explosive vulgar posts she relates the stories, in a monk’s blog. Bitterly accusing famous monks of crimes and when confronted by other posters she recants and moves on to other Sangha groups in different traditions.  She sent a comment to me because she said she is not mentally ill. I never said she was, but had I linked the article to my blog becuase of it’s value as a realtime example of interaction between sangha (who she was demanding be held responsible solving her or others’s situations of abuse) and requests for help.  I repeatedly asked her to seek professional counseling or therapy and visit with a pyschiatrist.  It is apparent she needs some kind of help.  It’s one thing to write stories and quite another to demand help while storytelling then later admit to fakery and claim she wasn’t abused and that she made it up and beside I must have misunderstood her. Then demand removal of her link here. I have no link to her specifically.  I don’t have technical savvy to have one.

The title of the first post should have included those suffering abuse but since I just posted related posts about that very topic I didn’t add to the title specifically.  The content had more information, and a summary of what I have seen in temples and dealt with as a Sangha member during these past 10 years.

It is useful to read blogs widely from Sangha, not all is sweetness and light nor is all doom and gloom, and hardly any try to teach those or to correct wrong views and provide enough encouragement for their progress on the path, as touchy as the mental illness is and equally touchy is the abuse issue we as adults need to face it; it’s there, not everyday but there what is outside the temple walls is inside the temple walls.

I am setting up rules in my blog to help those who tend to spout and do provide a little helpful information.  I expect readers to seek resources on their own, plenty of online sutras and bookstores.  I strongly believe people need to read widely from all storehouses of all traditions in order to understand themselves and also other people better, also include daily practices of morning and evening services, join and seek out groups to gather together in communities for ease of mind and friendships on the path, seek out sangha members to teach Buddha dharma and contribute generously to those in need of comfort, food, shelter and resources.  And the big one, holding to the commonly accepted teachings of what is Buddhism as it was taught by Buddha.

That’s all.  I have the same old boring advice to offer, take refuge and 5 precepts formally with a monstic Sangha so you can take the class to learn the Buddhist culture and have a moral framework in which to walk the path, read all available traditions sutras/suttas and their supporting commentaries by monks and nuns who are scholars, seek out dharma teachers and monastic Sangha for dharma talks, get involved in a good community of like-minded people, commit to dana with and be interested in the Buddhist culture that you find yourself in, learn a bit from it, it’s quite fun and enjoyable; strive everyday for regular daily recitations, take bitty breaks and do 12-15 mins of meditation; get out and join in life. Look forward to your days and be happy.

Posted in Dharma Books, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

Sangha view Buddhist history different than western scholars

Gandhari Mahayana scroll jar many found in a marketplace in Peshwar, buried and located in a dessert from the 1st c. BCE to 3rd c. CE

Whoes Buddhism is the Truest? by Linda Heuman

http://www.tricycle.com/feature/whose-buddhism-truest

Tricyle has published another article on the gandhari sutras found in the dessert.  I do believe this tipifies how westerns try to view Buddhism and it’s history:  For some of these ideas are taken as fact when they are only one-sided viewpoints with limited approaches to the idea of valuing what the historical development actually was; well it’s all opinion due to the fact nobody living was there, and nothing we have now gives us the whole picture only fragments of ideas touching the edge of truly what took place.

Many false ideas are here presented in this article from Tricycle as authoritative fact. Starting with this line in the first paragraph.

Ven. Hong Yang

“Every school of Buddhism stakes its authority, and indeed its very identity, on its historical connection to this original first canon. Buddhists of all traditions have imagined that our texts tumble from the First Council into our own hands whole and complete—pristine—unshaped by human agency in their journey through time. This sense of the past is deeply ingrained and compelling. If our texts don’t faithfully preserve the actual words of the Buddha in this way, we might think, how could they be reliable? Isn’t that what we base our faith on?”

Tricycle article writer.

Grossly over-generalized statement in the first line.  Buddha taught use to use our wisdom to analyze his words testing them for ourselves and our ability to walk the path with our own feet, and what we have that is written down and accessible now are known not to be his exact words; how can we base our faith on what’s written and commented on without trying it out ourselves?  We cannot but we do need to study it, recite it, practice it’s lessons. The Sangha have two traditions, the oral one that is never writtten down and comes with actually living, practicing and studying as monastic Sangha for a lifetime and another that is changing, translated, commented on, repeated over and over again orally for private and public study developing into what we know today as the sutras/suttas. The written tradition is usually used the most to teach Buddha dharma for it’s convenience and is an easy method to transmit.

As a new monastic in the Buddhist Sangha nobody every comes up to you and states that the First Council is the one and only source of infallible unchangeable actual words of Buddha as he spoke them, ever and you don’t accept out words for that being the truth then your not really going to be Buddhist nor a Buddhist Sangha member.  Ludricrous, we are actually taught to live in harmony, learn the sutras that are recited in the temple, learn the daily service; carry out our studies concentratively, perform mundane but necessary tasks for health and harmony in the temple and learn how to be monastic in the temple preparing for the higher ordination in a careful step by step manner to be able to transmit buddha dharma in the future as requested.  Buddhist monastic Sangha does not base its identity on anything but the Vinaya which is varied in language, slightly varied in a few word or order of precepts in different traditions and gender and the collection of sutras/suttas is undestood as varied as there are leaves of grass, written, recorded, translated according to the times of the school of the translator’s and in accordance with their striving on the path, study of the sutras, and gender; undestanding of the solemity of the future needs of the readers of the sutras being worked on.  All the sutras/suttas in the first couple of lines are clearly identitfied with some or all of the names of monastic and laity clearly written as scribe, copyist, translator, editing monastic elder and the location and time of the translation.

The idea of the Tripitaka as whole in content and  pristine is a western fabrication, rather a Christianization of Buddhist thinking of a very narrow type. Infallibility of the bible is imported into the Tripitaka with this wholly fabricated viewpoint mostly by Christian or western secularists.

Ven. Hong Yang

“But as we’re about to see, history works otherwise. And having a view more in line with the facts here frees us from chauvinist views and gives us grounds for respecting differences between and within diverse Buddhist schools. As for undermining our basis for faith, not to worry. To get in line with the facts, we’re not going to abandon Manjushri’s sword of wisdom. We’re going to use it.”

Not really facts, just opinions, theories and guesses.  Without even undestanding what Buddhists do and practice, that sword of Manjusri would be impossible to wield by scholars of this view.

Ven. Hong Yang

http://www.tricycle.com/feature/whose-buddhism-truest#comment-29796

“Religious orthodoxy wants to claim that one’s own tradition is the best. To do that, one needs to point to something unique to make it so. Having the sole true version of a singular truth is just such a foothold. And not only for Buddhists. Elaine Pagels, the scholar of religion who brought to light the Gnostic gospels, told Tricycle in 2005:

The Church father Tertullian said,
Christ taught one single thing, and that’s what we teach, and that is what is in the creed. But he’s writing this in the year 180 in North Africa, and what he says Christ taught would never fit in the mouth of a rabbi, such as Jesus, in first-century Judea. For a historically-based tradition—like Christianity, and as you say, Buddhism—there’s a huge stake in the claim that what it teaches goes back to a specific revelation, person, or event, and there is a strong tendency to deny the reality of constant innovation, choice, and change. “

This is wholly out of place and demonstrates what I often say about these types of people claimiing authority on Buddhism, it’s history and Sangha.  They don’t understand how it’s praticed and often delude themselves with ideas of they know what is Buddhist and what is not. You cannot take a western model based on Christianity and view an Eastern religion like Buddhism.  You must view with Buddhist eyes, a Buddhist heart, and Buddhist practice and study. This way of approaching Buddhism from a western Christian influenced academic approach is very poorly done.
Ven. Hong Yang

“The Buddhist canons as they exist today are the products of historical contingencies. They resound with the many voices that have shaped them through time. But orthodoxy requires the opposite, a wall you can’t put your fist through: singular, unchanging, findable truth. Buddhism’s textual root wasn’t singular, and it wasn’t unchanging. As it turns out, it wasn’t so findable, either.

The Buddhist Tripitakas are culminations of practice, translations, study and unending gathering of sutras/suttas by monastic Sangha who travelled, studied and preserved to the best of their ability what they found, studied, and worked on in translations.  There is no orthodoxy, no one group oversaw this process and pronounced it as correct but some of recorded history survived that scholars have access to wrote down that some councils that were occuring in one or a few countries.  This idea of orthodoxy is not the norm, most of what we have today is the result of concentrated self-sacrificing individuals who tried their best to produce good translations and seek out sutras/suttas stored in other coutries, temples, monasteries, collected by the curious and merchants, etc.

Ven. Hong Yang

“That’s the further step that we’re taking, to dispense with the idea of the original because that is a kind of pipe dream or figment of the imagination,” says Paul Harrison, a professor of religious studies at Stanford University and a member of the editorial board for the Schøyen Collection (another recently discovered collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts). Harrison is also a translator. As such, he gives us a hands-on report of how texts weather the practicalities of translation. To the extent that we are still holding onto that tree model, Harrison is about to pull the last leaves from our hands. Translators used to be guided by the notion, he explains, that if you put enough different versions of a sutra together, kept the overlap, and eliminated all the variance, eventually you could reconstruct the prototype. “According to that model,” he says, “it’ll all narrow to a point. But basically what we are finding is that it doesn’t narrow to a point. The more we know, the more varied and indeterminate it is right at the beginning.” Trying to reconstruct the original version of any early sutra—the one that is unmediated, accurate, and complete— is now generally considered, in principle, futile. Indeed, Harrison asks, “What are you aiming at?” Looking for such an original is ingrained, essentialist thinking, he says.

He points out, “We often say, ‘Tibetan translation, Chinese translation, Sanskrit original. As soon as you say Sanskrit original, you drop back into that sloppy but entirely natural way of thinking, that this is the original so we can throw away the copies. But in fact, that Sanskrit original of whatever sutra is just again another version. So the idea that one of them is the original and all the others are more or less imperfect shadows of it has to be given up. But it is very hard to give it up. It’s almost impossible to give it up.” And the irony is not lost on Harrison, who adds, “This is what the teaching of the Buddha is all about.”

This is a laughable viewpoint, there has never been a predominent language in sutra/sutta translations like the one that tries to ascribe first language as recently offered in the west by westerners.  Translation monasteries in the ancient past were few and far between as they required considerable patronage by king/emperorers and time, and most efforts were done mostly in history as they are now word by word, alone and solitary near or absolute hermit/ess of poor economic means. No glory or reward for their work beyond a lucky few who had Buddhist benefactors.

Ven. Hong Yang

One problem with the traditional model of textual transmission, according to Harrison, is that it doesn’t take into account cross-influences—the very real cases of text conflation when scribes or translators might have (for example, when standardizing) copied features from multiple differing versions, thus producing a new version. He continues: “If everything just proceeds in its own vertical line, and there is no crossways influence, that is fine; you know where you are. But once things start flowing horizontally, you get a real mess. Having something old, of course, is valuable because you are more likely to be closer to an earlier form. But notice I’m careful to say now ‘an earlier form’ and not ‘the earliest form.’ A first-century B.C.E. [Gandhari] manuscript is going to give you a better guide to an earlier form than an 18th-century Sri Lankan copy will. But that’s not an absolute guarantee, just a slightly better one.”

Neither can we draw a solid line around different schools. Harrison reports that looking backward in time, already by the first century C.E. boundaries between the Mahayana and non- Mahayana begin to blur. The Gandhari manuscripts probably reflect content of early monastic libraries, and the texts seem to have been intentionally buried. Mahayana and mainstream Buddhist sutras were recovered together and presumably buried together. Harrison believes that the monks who engaged in Mahayana practices were most likely Vinaya-observing; they likely lived in monasteries side by side practitioners of more mainstream Buddhism.

Pure guesses, there has been nothing known about early Buddhism much beyond guesses.  Records of damanged remenents of a few monasteries that have school names are a little more reliable and are the finding of these Mahayana texts, just the last line is a horrible and vague assumption of a sravaka as defined by current schools of Theravada or western view of Theravada history and practices.  Mahayana has always included all schools in it’s collection of sutras. If a school existed that was sravaka nearly like what is the current practice of Theravada most like then it was not unusual to do so then. Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka is inclusive of all available records of sutras from all schools.

Ven. Hong Yang

“These first-century Mahayana texts in the new collections are already highly developed in terms of narrative complexity and Mahayana doctrine. They couldn’t be the first Mahayana sutras, Harrison says. “The earlier stages of the Mahayana go far back. The Mahayana has longer roots and older roots than we thought before.” (Not roots all the way back to the Buddha, though—Harrison agrees with the general scholarly consensus that the Mahayana developed after the Buddha.) Nonetheless, he says, “Probably lying behind these Mahayana texts there are others with much stronger mainstream coloration, where it is not so easy to tell whether it’s Mahayana or Shravakayana.” [Shravakayana means literally ‘the way of the hearers’; those who follow the path with arahantship as its goal.]

Sravaka is a very general term and occurs in Mahayana sutras very often. It’s onlly new to Western scholars and those with curisory knowledge of the richness of variations and commonalitys of all the schools teachings.

Ven. Hong Yang

“During this period of early Buddhism there were many different strands of practice and trends of thought that were not yet linked. “We could have the Perfection of Wisdom strand and a Pure Land strand and a worship of the Buddha strand, and all sorts of things going on,” Harrison remarks. Only later did these threads coalesce into what we now consider “the Mahayana.”

There was no delination into early schools only to teachers who attracted students enough to be able to afford to be in one place and devleop a community.   That is really how it has always been in monastic Sangha commuities.  It’s a fluid situation for many monastics are enroute to seeking a specific teacher they heard about to study a sutra/sutta or a practice that they wish to learn.  This is still how it actually occurs.  All the views for Westerners have been based upon repeated later accounts of schools by the schools themselves after they had reach prominence or in some cases dominance in their geographic area or political situation.  Much later have some of these schools merged into and continues to grow in practice and development of new schools and offshoots as it’s always been. Finally gaining the attention of the Western scholar.

Ven. Hong Yang

http://www.tricycle.com/feature/whose-buddhism-truest?page=0,2

Reply by bhikshunion May 27, 2011, 11:34 pm

The article is interesting.  However, from a translator’s view and a monastic Sangha member myself, a bhikshuni. I would like to offer another opinion.  Don’t use the models to understand the development of the Tripitakas; there are already many versions out there now.  That’s the way it was and it in Sangha history. Think of what you already discussed.  History provides ideas of what we found out that many schools existed starting with Buddha’s inner circle of disciples who had already started teaching forming schools when Buddha was alive.  Buddha mentions this many times in the sutras giving guidelines of dharma teaching and advice on how one is to view dharma.  Upon his death, many disiciples had their schools already and their students had schools actively as well; then some succeeded, failed, merged; and new ones became popular.

What we have now written down is not the same as the Buddha taught, we know that it’s just various popular schools who have set up standards where there were none and some Sangha Councils voted on it, but not all of them…we know that from many scholarly reports already.  Yet only among Sangha we have very few of us who pull it out of our bags to pronounce it as true, really the only version of correct eact words of the Buddha.  Very, very few do this. Because we have been taught in the Vinaya how to appraoch dharma and Dharma teachings of the Buddha.  The article misreports how Sangha deal with this; it’s usually western people who fight over who is right, and some very devout laity in all the traditions do infact do the same.

Vinaya Sangha are respectful of other traditions and are taught to study as much as they can all the schools that they have access to, they do not promote division among Sanghans (monastic) by touting on as superior over another, those that do this are unsual and maybe using it for platform for personal reasons.

Western articles that I’ve read over the years here and elsewhere with comments claiming secularism in tradtional views as negatives, tradtion, superstition, etc; are not fully understanding or embraced all the Buddhist culture and teachings.  Having different versions or partial versions of the Tripitaka does not make the ones we have at the present time wrong nor invalidates them in any way. In all cases, we know that oral tradition which is accessible to residing monastic Sangha is not available to laity or even to scholars, this oral tradition hasn’t died out, it’s protected by ourselves, we also preserve in our various languages and schools has been handed down very well from our honored monastic elders to us monastics now, that’s our privaledge as monastic Sangha to have received and pass along in the next generations.

Gandhari scroll fragments 1st c. BCE Mahayana earliest written sutras/suttas
Posted in Uncategorized

Sangha terms part 3 – more information!

bhavin (p. 203) [ bhâv-in ] a. being, becoming, wont to be (gnly. –°ree;); future, imminent (often= fut. of &root;bhû); inevitable; possessed of (–°ree;); manifesting, showing; –°ree;, furthering, bless ing; worshipping; m. every vowel except &abrevcirc;: -î, f. handsome woman, noble lady.

Posted in On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

Common Sangha titles part 2 – use what we tell you

Venerable

In Buddhism, the Western style of Venerable (also abbreviated as Ven.) is entitled to ordained  Buddhist monks  and  nuns  and also to novices ( shramaneras ). The title of Master may be followed for senior members of the  Sangha . Venerable, along with “” Reverend “” (Rev.) is used as a western alternative to Maha Thera in the  Theravada  branch and Shì (釋, as in “Sakya”) in  Chinese  Mahayana  branch.

法師 fashi is the most common form among the Chinese Buddhist community.  It means Dharma Master, and is used for all ranks of monastics from sramaneras to bhikshus and bhikshuni; this is not a term for married clergy as in the laity or for non-Buddhists.

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]

Description:

venerable : (adj.) mahanīya; garukātabba; sambhāvanīya; gāravāraha.

Source: Buddhistdoor

Description:

喇嘛A transcription of the Tibetan bla ma, usually rendered in English as lama. A Buddhist priest of the Tibetan tradition. The Through Tibetan cultural influence, the terms is also seen used in Mongolia, Nepal, Northeast India, Bhutan, etc.

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]

Description:

Lama:(m.) Tibbatīya-yati.

Wikipedia source:

Lama  ( Tibetan : བླ་མ་;  Wylie : bla-ma; “chief” or “high priest”) is a title for a  Tibetan  teacher of the  Dharma . The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru    (see  Tibetan Buddhism  and  Bön ).

Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters  or heads of monasteries.  Today the title can be used as an honorific title conferred on a  monk ,  nun or (in the  Nyingma ,  Kagyu  and  Sakya  schools) advanced  tantric  practitioner to designate a level of spiritual attainment and authority to teach, or may be part of a title such as Dalai Lama  or  Panchen Lama applied to a lineage of reincarnate lamas ( Tulkus ).  Perhaps due to misunderstandings by early western scholars attempting to understand Tibetan Buddhism, the term Lama has historically been erroneously applied to Tibetan monks generally. Similarly, Tibetan Buddhism was referred to as Lamaism by early western scholars and travelers who perhaps did not understand that what they were witnessing was a form of Buddhism; they may also have been unaware of the distinction between Tibetan Buddhism and  Bön . The term Lamaism is now considered by some to be derogatory.

In the  Vajrayana  practice path of Tibetan Buddhism, the lama is often the tantric spiritual guide, the  guru  to the aspiring Buddhist  yogi  or  yogini . As such, the lama will then appear as one of the  Three Roots  (a variant of the  Three Jewels ), alongside the  yidam  and protector (who may be a  dakini ,  dharmapala  or other Buddhist deity figure).

Rinpoche

Source: A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 2003, 2004 (which is available in electronic version from answer.com)

Description:

rinpoche

A Tibetan title of respect usually reserved for tülkus. The term means ‘precious guru’.

Roshi

Rōshi  (老師 ? ) (Chinese  pinyin : Lǎoshī; Sanskrit : ṛṣi ) is a  Japanese  non-official honorific title used in  Zen Buddhism  that literally means “old teacher” or “elder master” and sometimes denotes a person who gives spiritual guidance to a Zen sangha or congregation. Traditionally, it was applied as a respectful honorific to an older (usually over 60) Zen teacher who was perceived by a sangha to have realized a superior understanding of the  Dharma . Despite this, it has come in some modern Zen schools to be applied as a semi-official title that doesn’t have to do with the age of the individual who receives it. This is especially true in the United States. There is sometimes dispute about use of the term rōshi, and there is wide variance in its application.

Most teachers called rōshi have undergone many years of arduous training. In some  Rinzai  organizations, a monastic is sometimes called rōshi after they have received inka  shōmei, meaning they have completed kōan study and received  Dharma transmission  from their master (full authorization to teach and pass on the lineage). In the  Harada-Yasutani  school, a lay organization that combines Soto and Rinzai elements, a person is called rōshi when they have received inka, indicating they have passed the kōan curriculum and received Dharma transmission.

In the  Sōtō  organization, a person is sometimes called rōshi after they have received the title of shike, but this is by no means standard practice.

Many Zen communities in the  United States  confer the title of rōshi to their teachers in deference to perceived Japanese Zen tradition, and in most instances it is used synonymously with the term  Zen master . However, in Japanese tradition the term’s usage has never been standardized. Its use in this way in the U.S. and Europe has at times led to confusion and controversy.

Chinese  Chán Buddhism  uses the semantically related title sifu (師父, literally “master father” or “father of masters”, or 師傅, literally “master teacher” or “teacher of masters”; both pronounced “shīfu”) as an honorific title for the highest masters, but it also may be used in respectful address of monks and nuns generally.

Stuart Lachs has argued that Zen institutions in the West have often attributed a mythic status to the title rōshi with harmful consequences.

Thera

Source: Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, G P Malalasekera (1899-1973), which is available as printed version from

Description:

Thera.-Name of a monk in Rājagaha. He lived in solitude, the virtues of which state he extolled. Hearing this, the Buddha sent for him and taught him how the solitary life could be perfected in detail (S.ii.282f).

Source: A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 2003, 2004 (which is available in electronic version from answer.com)

Description: thera

Pāli honorific term meaning ‘old’ or ‘venerable’, and used with reference to the senior monks of the Buddhist monastic order (Saṃgha). The seniority of a monk is determined not by age but by the time elapsed since ordination. Normally ten years’ standing is required for a monk to be considered as a thera.

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]

Description: thera : [m.] an elder; a senior; a monk who has spent 10 years from his upasampadā. adj. old; elder.

Source: Pali-English Dictionary, TW Rhys Davids, William Stede,

Description:

Thera [Vedic sthavira. Derivation uncertain. It may come from sthā in sense of standing over, lasting (one year or more), cp. thāvara old age, then “old=venerable”; (in meaning to be compared w. Lat. senior, etc. from num. sem “one”=one year old, i. e. lasting over one and many more years). Cp. also vetus=Gr. e)/tos, year, E. wether, one year old ram, as cpd. w. veteran, old man. Or it may come from sthā in der. *stheṷā in sthūra (sthūla: see etym. under thūla) thus, “strong= venerable”] t.t. only used with ref. to the bhikkhus of Gotama Buddha’s community. — (a) (adj.) senior, Vin i.47, 290 (th. bhikkhū opp. navā bh.), 159 (th. bhikkhu a senior bh. opp. to navaka bh. a novice), 187; ii.16, 212. Therânutherā bhikkhū seniors & those next to them in age dating not from birth, but from admission to the Order). Three grades are distinguished, thera bh., majjhima bh., nava bh., at D i.78. — See also A ii.23, 147, 168; v.201, 348; D iii.123 sq., 218; Dh 260, 261. In Sangha — thera, used of Bhikkhus not senior in the Order, the word thera means distinguished. Vin ii.212, 303. In Mahāthera the meaning, as applied to the 80 bhikkhus so called, must also have some similar meaning Dīpv iv.5 Psalms of the Brethren xxxvi.; J v.456. At A ii.22 it is said that a bhikkhu, however junior, may be called thera on account of his wisdom. It is added that four characteristics make a man a thera — high character, knowing the essential doctrines by heart, practising the four Jhānas, and being conscious of having attained freedom through the destruction of the mental intoxications. It is already clear that at a very early date, before the Anguttara reached its extant shape, a secondary meaning of thera was tending to supplant that of senior — that is, not the senior of the whole Order, but the senior of such a part of the Sangha as live in the same locality, or are carrying out the same function. — Note. thera in thero vassiko at S iv.161 is to be read tero — vassiko.
— gāthā hymns of senior bhikkhus, N. of a canonical book, incorporated in the Khuddaka — Nikāya. Theratara, very senior, oppd to navatara, novice D ii.154. — vāda the doctrine of the Theras, the original Buddhist doctrine M i.164; Dpvs iv.6, 13.

Theri

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]

Description:

therī : [f.] a senior nun; and old woman.

Elder Sister:

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]

Description: elder sister : (f.) jeṭṭhabhaginī.

和尚he shang – Buddhist monk (Bhikshu), Sanskrit: upadhyaya/Pali: upajjhaya

和尚尼 heshangni – Buddhist nun (Bhikshuni), Sanskrit: upadhyayani/Pali: upajjhayani (SAME as acaryani)