Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Are monks the Buddhist priests?

JeroenJeroen Do it with a smileNetherlands Veteran

I came across this saying in Osho’s discourse series The Razors Edge

“There are three hundred religions in the world. They are all different, but they all have one thing in common. That is the role of the priest as indispensable intermediary.”

He then goes on to talk about how the Catholic Church made it a sin to confess directly to God, and how the priest thus became more important than God himself in getting one’s sins forgiven. Which is a singular example.

Then it occurred to me that while Buddhism was the one religion in which one just focusses on waking up, the monks have been made into a kind of priesthood by their knowledge of the Pali canon and their path of practice. Often when one first comes to Buddhism one learns from a teacher who either is or has been a monk.

So are monks the indispensable intermediaries to Buddhist teaching?

Comments

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I look upon them more as advisers than the Buddhist equivalent of a Parish Priest. They're more guardians of the Dhamma than mouthpieces for the Buddha.

    This is of course, just my own personal view.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    Ren_in_black
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited October 5

    IMO, monks (and nuns!) play two roles:

    1. learn, practice and spread the Dhamma
    2. give us lay folk the opportunity to create merit through offerings to them. The purer their practice, the greater the merit.

    The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples is practising the good way, practising the straight way, practising the true way, practising the proper way; that is, the four pairs of persons, the eight types of individuals - This Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, the unsurpassed field of merit for the world.

    lobster
  • So are monks the indispensable intermediaries to Buddhist teaching?

    They are for the most part Buddha's finger pointers

    ...and from what I gather, most Dharma books are written by those who are either monastics or have been monastics...

    Ren_in_black
  • In all but a few religious institutions, priests and monks are intermediaries. They are the keepers of the records, the teachers, those through whom the word is passed.
    In a few, Buddhist and otherwise, the priest or monk, is, if anything, a librarian, a caretaker of the records and relics. They are not intermediaries and carry no special office of authority or rank.
    In Buddhism, it is recorded that a layman was held in equal esteem to Shyakyamini's closest desciples. Historically, although this is in no way debasing or making light of them, the group who eventually became the priests or priest cast were originally just those who choose to be the caretakers of the sutras, stupas and relics. Buddhism, from the beginning, was supposed to be a religion, a practice for everyone. The priests and monks were teachers and caretakers. The ley persons were the ones who have and continue to apply the practice of buddhism in daily life, in this saha world.
    THe Buddhist order consisted of the monls and nuns who accompanied the Buddha and heard is the Buddha's words directly, going forth to spread the teachings and the ley persons who supported the monks and nuns and applied the teachings to their daily lives, practiced and themselves spread the teachings.

    I have babbled and mumbled enough.
    Please stay safe and stay well.

    Peace to all

    BunkslobsterJeroen
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    The real question might be, is Buddhism actually a religion?

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I think the monks can play roles of teaching. There is a sutra where Ananda says to the Buddha something like "Oh I am glad to have my spiritual friends; I think friendship must be one half of the path of Buddhism!" I can't remember exactly how he says, but the Buddha then replies "Say it's not so. Spiritual friendship is the whole of the Buddhist path"..

    My teacher talks in her book The Guru Principle about how a teacher is both a person and they are an impersonal part of the Buddhist "mandala". So a teacher or monk is both a personal relationship and also an impersonal role of someone playing a role to you.

    Also in the book she identifies 12 roles of a teacher and she talks about the roles:

    Setting a Good Example
    Transmitting the Adhistana of the Lineage
    Accepting Offerings
    Giving Pointing-Out Instructions
    Authenticating Experience and Authorizing Teachers
    Teaching Dharma Doctrine
    Giving Practice Instructions
    Giving Personal Spiritual Advice
    Giving Vows
    Conducting Rituals
    Sangha Building
    Acting as Vajra Master and "Challenger" Guru

    These roles a teacher may only play one of them or many of them

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Jeroen said:
    The real question might be, is Buddhism actually a religion?

    Oh goodness, let's not start that old chestnut again!

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Jeroen said:
    The real question might be, is Buddhism actually a religion?

    Depends who you ask.

Sign In or Register to comment.