Posted in Buddhist Culture, Chan - authentic Masters words, Chinese culture, Dharma Talks, Mahayana culture, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships, Vinaya

Abbot, Bhikshu Ven. Hui Guang clear explaination of Chan transmission, lineage, ordination for monastics

Ven.Da Mo

His Facebook photo set has his photos during his retreat time, he is the present abbot of IBS in Taiwan. He has given us the clearest explanation I have ever seen regarding details of how this process of transmission really works.  It’s important to really get the correct teachings and from the correct teachers.  In the USA we are woefully deluded by the newness of Buddhism, over-reaching for levels or attainments that we do not need or deserve. I am quoting his exact post that appears on the Facebook link.  Let me know if it does not work. I only cut and pasted and hope for the best, I’m new to the blog world here.!/media/set/?set=a.182828165075325.43405.100000444276511

於2008年,我蒙 本換老和尚慈悲親自傳授,禪門正法眼藏,臨濟正宗法脈。此法法脈源流源自於釋迦牟尼佛,祖祖印心相傳,直到近代虛雲老和尚→本煥老和尚→慧光 (第45代臨濟正宗傳人)。
2008, I received the transmission of the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye in the Noble Linji Ch’an Dharma Lineage with the compassion of my  Master, Ch’an Master Ben Huan. This lineage of Dharma transmission trace all the way back to Sakyamuni Buddha. The ancient Masters have transmitted one after another until recent era to Ch’an Master Hsu Yun. Then the Dharma transmission is from: Venerable Master Hsu Yun→ Venerable Master Ben Huan→ Hueiguang (45th generation lineage holder of the Linji Ch’an).



這種法派,應該代代相傳,不可斷絕。此體系在習慣上,稱為剃度恩師,得戒本師,傳法尊師。中國佛教傳統上,出家是一回事,受戒是一回事,傳法又是一回事,並非一定都由同一位師父主持。又禪宗重在傳法,得法的人, 即稱為法子。當然在家也可得法,但畢竟是少數。出家得法的,多是已在別的師父那裡剃度及受戒。

In Chinese Buddhist tradition, there are 3 systems of transmission:

1. Tonsure system: a person become tonsured as a novice monastic under the Master’s school. He/she is given a Dharma name 法號 at the time of tonsure based on the Master’s lineage. This name is also called “the outer name 外號” because it is use by all people to address you. This name is used for life.

2. Ordination system: a novice will become fully ordained as a Bhikṣu monk/ Bhikṣuni nun with the Triple Platform Ordination (Observing the Śrāmanera, Bhikṣu and Bodhisattva precepts) . This ordination must be presided by 10 monks with at least 10 years of seniority with a pure practice in upholding the monastic precepts. In this ceremony, the 10 Masters represent the Triple Gem accepting the novice into the Sangha. At this time, another Dharma name 法名 is given. This name is also called “precept name 戒名 or inner name 內號” because it is use only by one’s Master. This name represents your precept lineage transmission.

3. Dharma transmission system: This system upholds the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye through the generations of transmission. This is the Mind to Mind seal of the Dharma that is beyond the scriptures. At this time, another Dharma name 法名 is given. This is also called “the inner name 內號” and use only by one’s Master. This name represents your Dharma lineage transmission. After receiving this name, one will use this name instead of the name received during precept ordination to write one’s Dharma name (Inner Name)(Outer Name). For example, my Dharma name is “Chang An Huei Guang 常安慧光”, where “Huei Guang” is my name given at tonsure and “Chang An” is given at Dharma transmission.

Therefore, these systems of transmission should not be ended.
It is customary to refer to one’s own tonsure Master as “Gracious Master”, precept Master as “Root Master” and Dharma transmission Master as “Venerable Master.” In Chinese Buddhism, these 3 systems are separate and are not performed by the same Masters. Moreover, due to the strong emphasis on the Dharma, when a person receives the Dharma transmission, he/she is recognized as that Ch’an Master’s Dharma son/daughter. Of course lay Buddhists may also receive this Dharma transmission, but there are very few incidences. Most of the monk/nun who received the transmission has already been tonsured and ordained by other Masters.

Posted in Buddhism, Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Chinese culture, Conflicts in Buddhist Life, Mahayana culture, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships, Theravada culture, Vinaya

Ex-Buddhists who ate bitterness with Sangha come back

I’ve jsut read another sad story from another Sangha member’s blog, a woman reply with bitterness over her disaster with her guru in Vajrayana. I just replied to her reply.  She was holding on to so much idignation, bitterness and was rejecting women’s roles, robes, and validitiy of Sangha at all.

Abused by her guru and his supporters finally she left. But had to endure hardships and kept biting that bitter nut of regret, rage and grief at her self and the guru.  Until she faces all the habits that kept her there and choices she made to not act for her own safety and hold him accountable she will not progess as rapidity as she would like.  Good therapy, resuming practice with a calmer, harmonious and peaceful Sangha community will help her.

Her failure to undestand her own power as a Buddhist practitioner and the system she was in led to this rotton situation.  It’s common for westerners and some easterners too;  to bitch at us or about us Sangha as being weak, as some of us for being women,  childlike, undeducated, dancing about with our wiles and without power or a sense of our empowerment as Sangha, or accusing us of not policing our Sangha leaders enough so abuses do not even arise at all.

Well in the West Buddhism is not controlled by the government. We do have laws that protect us and Sangha are not above the law.  We are mandated by our Vinaya to observe the laws and respect the government of the country in which we reside.

New Buddhist are just plain ignorant, often tossing their self-control, common sense, sense of right and wrong, memory of whose country they live in anyway, deluded greately by who is in control of them, have definite problems listening to their teachers advice, often fickle to Buddhist practice omiting key traditional practics cuz they don’t wanna, and toss whats left of their minds up in the air as far as they can forcing it all way up until by chance and gravity it is falling into the hands of frauds, politikers, and often well-meaning but really inexperienced with the Western ideas of teachers, saints, leaders and monastics are those small but sincere groups of foreign monks and nuns.  What a hideaous act!

If people when they approach Sangha wanting to learn would keep their heads, stop tossing their minds out for someone else to grab they would get along just fine and make progress they deserve.  It’s gone wrong for many idealistic or perhaps those that reject too much, or make that pick and choose style of Buddhist salada bar type who can’t settle into a practice or goes mental after sitting for days in meditation ‘cuz they heard Buddha Sakyamuni did so.  All of these types often reject Buddhism after trying to capture their minds again from bad practices they kept doing to themselves. Instead of moving on, correcting their mistake they blame.  So in the future they get to repeat the same pattern.

Here is is, what you did wrong perhaps.

The first action of all of these who suffer bitternness is to reject the sangha, temple or center entirely as too far, too much, can’t be bothered to get there, can’t understand them or they won’t undestand me.

2. pick up a book by a famous monk, nun or writer that starts everytime with a warning… do not undertake this practice without supevision of a master, a qualified teacher of the method being taught in this book….. then ignore it, undertake the practice on your own; get mental, get vulnerable, and can’t make the voices stop; can’t work, can’t ….can’t life stops and nothing is the same anymore. So they blame robes, centers, and of course Sangha.

3. have all the answers and sits for hours. at first ok, then for a year or so gets sensations, loves it. keeps going, gets to hear voices.  oh ! progress.  does continue ‘cuz the mind says to. Then oops no job ‘cuz all I wanna do is sit in blisss…yeah that’s the life.  Oops lost the family.   Ooops feel bad voices won’t stop.  Oh no! It’s still progress tho’. Nope I just don’t need sangha! I made it! Numerous visits to psych wards, lots of needed medications, now it’s really all Sangha’s fault!

4. Drugs the faulty test of bliss! It’s so real, vibrant, love to get high during chanting services. I made it! jhana aaaah! I’m expert I can teach this! Wow! fast track to Nirvana! Whoa, the man why he here! Oh, yeah.  Mutiple hospitalizations with freaky side effects. Blames Sangha for lack of progress.

5. Sex is bliss. perhaps you were empowered by your own sexuality or repressed. You know you.  Letting the leader touch you, that was fun or not. People said its a merit/better method/fast way to bliss what ever that is to be with him, a lie and you knew it but were swayed because they knew more than you or insisted you be in the bed with him. he cries to you, he shares intimate fears or worries with you. he clings to you. your hooked. well. if your not then your caught. Right.  But it gets bad, you want out but how? Still want that bliss? Yes so hopeful and  you stay. Then leave badly. Right time to blame Sangha. Despise us, why, why, why?  Why indeed did you not call the cops, consult lawyers, family or friends or leave?

6. Use Buddhism for medical care or mental health care. This is just wrong. It is not meant for this type of approach. The Buddha was not a doctor but sometimes referred to metaphorically as a healer. This is all that meant.  All of Buddhist practice is for well people to undertake.  There is some truth of some practices benefitting some conditions but not any of the modern definitions of serious psychiatric conditions.  I add this to make sure you get it;  IT WAS NOT MEANT FOR PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS, none of it.  No matter how fancy of a pracice offered or by whom.

We live in times of adequate medical care and good therapists and much of Buddhist practice today as in the past is to be undertaken by well people. Mental health issues need to be faced properly and correctly. Most of what people can do for themselves is to do the best they can and not over reach for what they are not ready for or capable of.  Be Real about your issues and you will be more stable!  That is why the Buddha taught us to teach others according to their conditions and capability.  There is no generic Buddhist method to cure or eliminate disease beyond the knowledge of standard science and medicine. Buddhist measure their progress one by one; step by step; not by Proctor & Gamble mass produced pills or B & N books, etc.

At the core of this faulty mindset is this –  the lack of valuation or understanding of the the Triple Jewel.

There is a marked lack of attempt to join  and/or reject a real strong Buddhist community of laity that activly seeks out Sangha to improve their personal practice. And a total lack of common sense and deliberate refusal to put self-preservation first in the face of co-ercive or dangerous practices for what ever unerlying problems you already had coming into your efforts to practice some of the methods of Buddhist practice.

There is no sense of community in the above approaches, this faulty thinking has led many to disaster and ruined many a struggling community. However, all that being said just stop the blame.

Buddha taught us that our minds are our responsibility, it is ours after all and nobody elses.  We are responsible for walking on the path ourselves, not Buddha and not anyone else.

Embrace all of traditional Buddhist practices for they are already time tested with many checks and balances to help you progress.  Being a lone wolf type as many try to do simply does not work.

Sangha monastics know this, they work as a community and train together, they have moments to practice or study what interests them but really that’s only moments daily we are busy with our duties and meeting the community as a whole needs. The strength of our practice lies in our precepts, guided by the Vinaya, striving to study and learn as much Buddha dharma as we can staying withing our basic practices, renewing our selves in retrains, seeking elders in our community and outside our temples for improved understanding and our basic training forming our foundatin while with our tonsure master before we are accepted for full ordiantion.

Sangha are human beings, with all their skills and are still learning and still practicing. We are ahead of you on the path but not there yet to the final goal of enlightenment.  We are entitled to our flaws the same as you. However, we have guidelines that help us daily that’s called monastic discipline or the Vinaya.

Traditionally you are supposed to seek out the Sangha for dharma teaching. If you do not do this you will not make progress on the path yourself.  Sangha, me and others have learned a thing or two being left-home persons and if we  or I am skilled enough in communnications and I or others decide to agree to teach you upon your request then we can share what we know the best we can.

This key action on your part is what you need to do to be safe, to know what is exactly going on in practices and what is normal for Buddhists to do.  Please don’t give up on yourselves and throw your minds away like this it brings more suffering to you, your family mostly and to the sangha.

Have patience for Buddhists really gotta practice daily in order to progress. What makes generational traditional Buddhists miles ahead of you is just that, patience …  facing reality as it is, reading sutras/suttas; charitable acitons for the needy, doing their best to keep a sense of community with other Buddhists and seeking Sangha for more dharma teachings and counseling if they think of it, learning solid safe methods to improve their practices in a supportive environment that is safe for them to be in while studying.

Part two of this will give you real good examples of what lay people say to sangha and what the sangha respond to; appropriate teachings and laity guiding the Sangha in situations and conduct.

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

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

“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,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 On the Path, Precepts Holders

nonBuddhist receiving our help – advice for Buddhists

Helping people when we are asked means we help them with our real world skills and meet them on their own level with out compromising our own moral and ethical values and our sheerly powerful common sense, keeping our precepts, keeping our own skills not lowering ourselves or copying their behavior or supporting immoral acts.

If a nonBuddhists ask for help and you as a Buddhist can help, then do it. What ever skills you have but do not preach Buddhism while you do it for it won’t be heard with a willing heart.  In fact, it’s cooercive if you do that and Buddha has forbidden coercion.

Your practice should be strong enough to support yourself, that is fine! Just don’t try to change another in the way your trying to change yourself, it never works well for the person trying to be converted.

It’s ok to work with their belief system if you know it really well, but if you don’t just don’t pretend to gain their trust by presenting yourself as knowledgable.  Work with where you are right now is perfectly fine, not where you will be in a few lifetimes from now!

Study widely Buddhist teachings on charity, generousity, dana, and rendering assistance to learn how to behave properly. In the end it’s what your nature really is that counts to the one receiving your help, even better if they move on without realizing you helped them thus not feeding your ego.

Mahayana Sutras in English:

Buddha Speaks the Sutra about Karma

The Lotus Sutra

Ksitigarbha Sutra

Samyutta Nikya

Dana the Practice of Giving (

Handbook for the Relief of Suffering (

The Skill of Release (

Posted in On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

Common Sangha titles part 2 – use what we tell you


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]


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

Source: Buddhistdoor


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]


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).


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



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


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.


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


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

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,


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.


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


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)