Answering those who disparage the NKT ordination, Part Two

The ten commitments of ordination as practiced in the NKT have been formulated by Geshe Kelsang. They are in keeping with Buddha Shakyamuni’s advice to his close disciple Ananda:

“If it is desired, Ananda, the Sangha may, when I am gone, abolish the lesser and minor rules.”

These rules have been abolished because most of the commitments explained in the Vinaya are rules for regulating verbal and physical behavior which are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to integrate into today’s society (as you can see from below.) However, their essential meaning has been maintained.

Following on from Part One yesterday, we will now look to see how the 253 vows of a Gelong are subsumed under the more broadly encompassing 10 vows of a Kadampa monk or nun. The Sramanera/Sramanerika Precepts will be used as the reference for the novice vows, and Advice from Buddha Shakyamuni will be used as the reference for the full ordination vows.

Novice Vows

1. Abandon Killing

1. One should avoid taking a human life
2. One should avoid killing an animal or insect
3. One should avoid for selfish reasons, doing an action which may kill an animal or insect and not caring about it; for example, using water that contains insects without straining it; digging a hole in the earth without considering the creatures that might die as a result; cutting grass; overburdening an animal, which causes its death
4. One should avoid while doing something for others, doing an action which may kill an animal or insect and not caring about it; for example, splashing water which has insects on a dry place

2. Abandon Stealing

6. One should avoid stealing, taking what has not been given. This includes borrowing things and not returning them, not paying fees and taxes one is required to

3. Abandon Sexual Activity

5. One should avoid sexual intercourse

4. Abandon Lying

7. One should avoid lying in which one claims to have spiritual realizations or powers that one does not have
8. One should avoid accusing a pure monk or nun of transgressing one of the four root precepts (parajika) when he or she has not
9. One should avoid insinuating that a pure monk or nun has transgressed one of the four root precepts when he or she has not
10. One should avoid causing disunity among the sangha community through untrue slander or taking sides in a disagreement
13. One should avoid telling others lies
14. One should avoid criticizing the storekeeper in the monastery of giving more to those who are near to him or her instead of sharing them with all, when this is not the case
15. One should avoid criticizing directly or by insinuation that the storekeeper in the monastery of not giving oneself a share of the food or other things equal to that given to other monastics, when this is not the case
16. One should avoid claiming that a monastic gave a teaching in return for a little food, which is not the case
17. One should avoid criticizing a monk or nun by saying that he or she transgressed a precept in the second group (sanghavasesa) when this is not the case

5. Abandon Taking Intoxicants

20. One should avoid taking intoxicants

6. Practice Contentment

19. One should avoid covering the vegetables with rice; covering the rice with vegetables
28. One should avoid sitting on an expensive throne
29. One should avoid sitting on an expensive bed
30. One should avoid sitting on a high throne
31. One should avoid sitting on a high bed
32. One should avoid eating after midday (Exceptions: if one is ill, if one is traveling, or if one cannot meditate properly without food.)
33. One should avoid touching gold, silver or precious jewels (includes money)

7. Reduce One’s Desire for Worldly Pleasures

24. One should avoid wearing ornaments
25. One should avoid wearing cosmetics
26. One should avoid wearing perfumes
27. One should avoid wearing the rosary like jewelry, wearing flower garlands
34. One should avoid wearing lay people’s clothing and ornaments; letting one’s hair grow long

8. Abandon Engaging in Meaningless Activities

21. One should avoid singing with self-attachment or for nonsensical reasons
22. One should avoid dancing with self-attachment or for nonsensical reasons
23. One should avoid playing music with self-attachment or for nonsensical reasons

9. Maintain the Commitments of Refuge

11. One should avoid supporting someone who is creating disunity in the sangha community, taking sides in the dispute
12. One should avoid doing actions which obliterate lay people’s faith in the sangha; for example complaining untruthfully to lay people that action brought by the sangha against oneself was unfair
36. One should avoid disrespecting or not following the guidance of one’s ordination master

10. Practise the Three Trainings of Pure Moral Discipline, Concentration, and Wisdom

18. One should avoid abandoning the training, for example, rejecting the good advice of a nun or monk; criticizing the Pratimoksha Sutra
35. One should avoid not wearing the robes of a Buddhist monastic

Full Ordination Vows

1. Abandon Killing

3. killing a human or a fetus
58. destroying viable seeds or a growing thing
66. harming living beings
88. knowingly consume water containing living beings
108. killing animals

2. Abandon Stealing

2. stealing
46. changing the dedication
63. evicting
115. using without confidence
121. staying too long as a guest

3. Abandon Sexual Activity

1. sexual activity
5. intentional emission of semen except during a dream
6. coming into bodily contact with a woman
7. using sexual language
8. recommending sexual services to oneself
9. acting as a gobetween
21. giving one’s robes to a nun for washing
22. accepting cloth from an unrelated nun
34. engaging an unrelated nun to clean wool
52. teaching Dharma to a laywoman
68. teaching the Dharma to nuns without having been appointed
69. teaching the Dharma to a nun until sunset
71. making a Dharma robe for an unrelated nun
72. giving a Dharma robe to an unrelated nun
73. walking along a road with a nun
74. entering a boat with a nun
75. sitting in a solitary place with a woman
76. standing in a solitary place with a nun
77. eating food which was caused to be made by a nun
89. sitting at a place of preparing for sex
90. standing in a place of preparing for sex
91. giving food to ascetics
101. sleeping for more than three nights in the same place as someone who is not fully ordained
112. sleeping with a woman
117. traveling on a road with a woman
124. leaving without informing the Sangha
127. going into town at improper times
129. going to a king’s palace at night
138. accepting food from a nun

4. Abandon Lying

4. lying about one’s attainments of superhuman Dharmas
12. groundless accusation
13. deprecating by insinuation
48. telling a lie
70. accusing of teaching the Dharma for the purpose of a little food
109. causing another monk to generate regrets by intentionally wrongly accusing him
116. groundlessly deprecating by accusing of having committed a remainder

5. Abandon Taking Intoxicants

126. drinking alcohol [i.e., intoxicating beverages, spirits, and liqours]

6. Practice Contentment

10. having a hut built for oneself which is not good for roaming about
11. having a community building built which is not good for roaming about
18. holding cloth for more than 10 days without having it blessed
20. holding a deficient piece of cloth for more than 30 days without having it blessed
23. begging cloth from a householder
24. not giving away the excess of a set of robes
25. obtaining through begging more than the householder had intended to give
26. obtaining through begging more than the male and female householders had intended to give
27. obtaining items after having begged for them more than six times
28. using a cotton mat
29. using a mat made only of black wool
30. having a mat of more than 50% black wool
31. replacing a not yet six-year-old mat
32. not patching a new mat by a handspan of the old mat
33. carrying wool too far on a journey
35. touching gold and silver
36. undertaking various activities in money
37. obtaining profit through business
38. holding an extra begging bowl for more than 10 days
39. seeking a begging bowl
40. engaging an unrelated weaver to weave cloth
41. extending the material of a robe
42. taking back what was given
43. early possession of rainy season offerings, etc.
45. obtaining 30 days too early, or holding more than 30 days late, the large rainy season cloth
47. storing medicine (i.e., clarified butter, oil, honey, and molasses) for more than 7 days
78. eating repeatedly
80. accepting more than two or three begging bowls full
81. eating the abandoned food
83. gathering and eating separately beyond the Sangha’s eating place
84. eating at an improper time
85. eating that which has been stored
86. eating without giving and taking
87. begging special food
105. wearing undyed cloth
131. making a needlecase made of bone or horn
132. making seat legs too long
133. leaving cotton lint upon the bedding of the Sangha
134. using more than the measure for a mat
135. using more than the measure for an itch bandage
136. using more than the measure for a large cloth
137. making Dharma robes to the measurements of the Sugata

7. Reduce One’s Desire for Worldly Pleasures

106. touching precious materials that do not belong to him
107. bathing more than one half of the body before one half month has passed
128. visiting families before or after a meal when the family which invited him for a meal is unawares

8. Abandon Engaging in Meaningless Activities

65. sitting down heavily upon a roof of a building owned by the Sangha
92. watching a war
93. staying in a place of war for more than three nights
110. tickling with the fingers
111. playing in water
113. frightening a monk
114. hiding a personal belonging of a monk or nun
120. digging the earth

9. Maintain the Commitments of Refuge

14. dividing the Sangha
15. not giving up supporting one who divides the Sangha
16. disturbing householders by deprecating the Sangha, causing them to lose faith
17. displeasure with instruction
53. teaching Dharma to a woman in excess of five or six words, except in the presence of a wise man
56. deprecating by belittling someone
59. abusively dismissing a monk who is serving the Sanhga
60. turning a deaf ear to advice or when asked a question
64. putting down a monk who had previously resided in the place owned by the Sangha
79. eating in the residence of extremists twice in one day
94. becoming involved in the branch of an army
95. raising one’s hand and striking another monk
96. threatening a blow with a weapon to a monk
97. concealing the grave offense of a monk
98. causing food to be cut off
100. later changing one’s consent
103. sharing Dharma and materials with a monk who has been expelled by the Sangha
104. sharing Dharma and materials with a novice who has been expelled by the Sangha
118. keeping company with thieves; proceeding with a caravan intending theft
119. giving ordination to someone under 20
122. abandoning closely given advice
125. disrespectful conduct
139. eating food without correcting a nun who asks to serve out of order
140. begging and eating food amongst families considered by formal declaration of the Sangha to be undergoing training
141. begging and eating food in forest dwellings considered by the Sangha to be dangerous

10. Practise the Three Trainings of Pure Moral Discipline, Concentration, and Wisdom

19. separation from one’s Dharma robes
44. separation from one’s retreat place for more than six days
49. speaking abouta ny act of another monk which is reputed to be a fault
50. speaking divisive words to a monk
51. reviving a quarrel
54. expressing faults of another monk to a person who is not fully ordained
55. speaking of one’s actual superhuman Dharmas
57. speaking to another monk words which despise the Vinaya
61. leaving without collecting the bedding, which then becomes damaged
62. leaving without putting away the mats
67. erecting more than three layers of bricks
82. feeding to one who has abandoned eating
99. touching fire without being mindful of the time
102. not giving up unwholesome views
123. eavesdropping
130. belittling the basis of one’s precepts of moral discipline

You Get the Idea…

142. for the lower robe, not wearing round
143. for the lower robe, too high
144. for the lower robe, too low
145. for the lower robe, covering the ankles
146. for the lower robe, one side hanging like an elephant’s trunk
147. for the lower robe, folding the upper portion below the navel
148. for the lower robe, gathered unevenly at the belt like tying the top of a sack of grain
149. for the upper garment, not wearing round
150. for the upper garment, too high
151. for the upper garment, too low
152. going to a layperson’s house without relying upon mindfulness and alertness
153. going without wearing one’s robes correctly
154. idle chatter while going
155. going with one’s eyes wandering in distraction
156. going with one’s eyes cast beyond a yoke’s distance
157. going while covering one’s head with cloth other than a hat
158. going with one’s Dharma robe lifted up
159. going with one’s Dharma robed draped over both shoulders
160. going with one’s hands clasped behind the nape of the neck
161. going with one’s hands tightly clasped
162. going by jumping
163. going by strutting
164. going stiffly erect
165. going on tiptoes with chest out
166. going with arms akimbo
167. going with the body twisted
168. going while swinging the hands
169. going while wagging the head
170. going with shoulders touching
171. going while joining the hands
172. sitting on a seat without being invited to do so by the householder
173. sitting without examining the seat
174. sitting heavily by dropping one’s weight down upon the seat
175. sitting with one foot upon the other
176. sitting with one thigh upon the other
177. sitting with one ankle upon the other
178. sitting on a throne etc. with one’s legs tucked under
179. sitting with one’s legs outstretched
180. sitting with one’s sexual organs exposed
181. not accepting food respectfully
182. accepting food only full to the brim of one’s begging bowl
183. accepting equal portions of main food (e.g., rice) and vegetables
184. not accepting food in order of ordination
185. accepting without paying attention to one’s alms bowl
186. holding out one’s begging bowl before the food comes
187. covering the main food (e.g., rice) with vegetables … with the intent of getting extra
188. holding one’s begging bowl over the food
189. not eating food in accordance with common etiquette
190. taking very small mouthfulls
191. taking very large mouthfulls
192. not eating in moderation
193. opening one’s mouth before bringing food to it
194. speaking when one’s mouth is full of food
195. eating while making sounds such as ‘tsuk tsuk’
196. eating while making sounds such as ‘chak chak’
197. eating while making sounds such as ‘hu hu’
198. eating while making sounds such as ‘pu pu’
199. poking out one’s tongue while eating
200. eating (rice, etc.) grain by grain
201. disparaging the food while eating
202. spilling the broth to the right and left while eating
203. making smacking sounds from the palate while eating
204. eating by dividing mouthfulls
205. licking food stuck to one’s hands
206. licking food stuck to the vessel as well as one’s hands
207. shaking off food stuck to one’s hands
208. eating while shaking one’s begging bowl
209. shaping the food like a stupa
210. abusing the begging bowl of another monk
211. touching the water container with food stuck to one’s hand
212. tossing the dishwater over another monk
213. throwing out the dishwater from washing one’s begging bowl, etc. whenever one pleases
214. putting the remaining food in one’s bowl
215. setting one’s bowl down without a base
216. similarly, placing the begging bowl on a cliff
217. placing the begging bowl on a steep slope
218. placing the begging bowl on a sill, etc.
219. washing one’s begging bowl while standing up
220. washing one’s begging bowl while on a cliff
221. washing one’s begging bowl while on a steep slope
222. washing one’s begging bowl while on a sill, etc.
223. taking water by holding one’s bowl against the current of a river
224. standing while teaching Dharma to a seated listener
225. teaching Dharma when seated to someone who is lying down
226. teaching Dharma when seated on a low and poor seat to someone on a high and rich seat
227. teaching Dharma to someone who is in front while walking behind them
228. teaching Dharma while going along the side of the road to someone going along the center
229. teaching Dharma to someone whose head is covered with cloth, etc.
230. teaching Dharma to someone with their robes pulled up
231. teaching Dharma to someone with their Dharma robes draped over both shoulders
232. teaching Dharma to someone with their hands clasped at the nape of the neck
233. teaching Dharma to someone with their hands tightly clasped
234. teaching Dharma to someone wearing a hairknot
235. teaching Dharma to someone wearing a hat
236. teaching Dharma to someone wearing a crown
237. teaching Dharma to someone wearing a garland
238. teaching Dharma to someone wearing a veil
239. teaching Dharma to someone mounted on an elephant
240. teaching Dharma to someone mounted on a horse
241. or other than these two mounts
242. teaching Dharma to someone seated on a palanquin
243. teaching Dharma to someone wearing shoes
244. teaching Dharma to anyone holding a staff or stick
245. teaching Dharma to anyone holding an umbrella or parasol
246. teaching Dharma to anyone holding a knife
247. teaching Dharma to anyone holding a sword
248. or other weapon
249. teaching Dharma to someone wearing armor
250. when one is not ill, to make excrement or urinate while standing
251. to throw excrement, urine, plhegm, snot, etc. into moving water
252. to throw excrement, urine, phlegm, snot, etc. on the ground covered with grass
253. purposely climbing in trees above a man’s height, unless there is a disaster

8 Responses to Answering those who disparage the NKT ordination, Part Two

  1. RKL says:

    When I read this entire list of vows, I realise that no women would receive Dharma teachings if all of these rules were followed. Yet women have been learning Dharma for ages. How wonderful that the wisdom of the Buddhas has not been lost to females.

    How wonderful that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso makes so many efforts for Dharma to be available to anyone seeking instruction. How wonderful that the old sexism is disappearing in that laywomen and laymen, nuns, and monks are equally responsible for Dharma study, teaching and meditation.

    There are so many rules in this list that, to me, make no sense in the western world. There is much I do not know, but I am happy that what Geshe-la presents to us provides us with the means to follow the Mayahana Buddhist path to enlightenment. For this I am forever grateful.

    What would happen to Dharma classes in modern public spaces if one could not sit on chairs or wear shoes or teach to those who might be nervously clasping their hands or have their hair pulled up or be wearing a hat?

    It would be wonderful if all monks and nuns were completely supported and did not have to deal with money or engage in paid employment, but that is not the case in the modern world. The west does not have structures in place to make it possible for nuns and monks to keep this vow of not touching money.

    Related to these commitments (the ones about not digging soil or cutting grass) something I continue to wonder about as a gardener and practitioner is this: Since food is necessary for all people, whether Buddhist or not, lay or ordained, how do we grow food and cause the least harm? Are their gardening and farming principles that coincide with Buddhist principles?

    Thanks to NKT Truth team for providing this blog. It is an important service.

  2. Rabten says:

    Thanks for the great articles.

    In case its of interest I came across a sutra where a fully ordained monk says to the Buddha that he doesn’t have the capacity for 253 vows.

    Buddha’s response is to ask him if he can practice the three higher trainings. The Monk replies that he can.

    Buddha goes on to explain that all the 253 vows are included within the three higher trainings. The monk engages in this practice. Buddha continues to consider him a fully ordained monk and later the monk overcomes his delusions.

    What do the legalists make of that? Could there be a higher authority validating the Kadampa ordination than Buddha himself?

    Anguttara Nikaya… scroll to verses 85 – 89

    http://www.mettanet.org/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara1/3-tikanipata/009-samanavaggo-e.html

  3. [...] it really right for a ’simple Buddhist monk’ — who has taken vows to not even handle money or obtain profit through business, and who regards wealth and worldly attainments as deceptive — to advise big business on how [...]

  4. cheyenne says:

    With regard to NKT ordination and its validity –

    NKT is not alone in condensing the vinaya into interpretive versions of the vinaya as in Zen 16 precepts, which are also interpreted as being Mahayana precepts.

    New Kadampa Truth: Please see comments section on Answering those who disparage the NKT ordination, Part One for the two comments on Zen ordination by Cheyenne.

  5. kead says:

    Thich Nhat Hahn has also adapted the traditional ordination vows to suit modern people.

    Also, on e-sangha, there is a claim that the nun’s ordination died out and so there aren’t any actual Tibetan nuns anyway:

    http://esanghalert.wordpress.com/category/there-are-no-nuns/

  6. badFish says:

    But surely if the Vinaya can be condensed into or subsumed under the NKT ordination vows, likewise the NKT vows can be condensed into or subsumed under a smaller set of vows. And likewise that condensation can be further condensed, and so on until all vows are subsumed under something like “Avoid doing bad things”.

    The problem with all this is that in each condensation something is lost–some explication of the detailed implications of the over-arching intent of the vows. Such a loss is not something to be celebrated or defended, but rather mourned and counter-acted.

  7. dharmaprotector says:

    badFish,

    Can you give an example?

  8. wangmo says:

    This is , metaphorically speaking , enlightening! I’ve been a Buddhist for almost 31 years and in all that time have been blinded to other traditions and issues. Having stumbled upon this site and read Ursula Bernis’ succinct account of the Dorje Shugden issue, I’ve had a complete change of heart.
    I can’t see why this discrimination exists and this maybe goes a good way to explaining why I fell out of the Free Tibet campaign here in Britain…I simply felt that the genuine wish to be free had been suppressed and campaigners were being kept in the dark about something. It follows that Dorje Shugden and Free Tibet go hand in hand but for the edicts of the oracle (which is likely inaccurate anyway!).
    I hope therefore to start reading Geshe-la’s works as I find the language and concepts inspiring.

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