Indian Disciplinary Rules and Their Early Chinese Adepts: A Buddhist Reality

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  • Indian Disciplinary Rules and Their Early Chinese Adepts: A Buddhist RealityAuthor(s): Ann HeirmanSource: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 128, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 2008), pp. 257-272Published by: American Oriental SocietyStable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 03:06

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  • Indian Disciplinary Rules and Their Early Chinese Adepts: A Buddhist Reality

    Ann Heirman

    Ghent University

    This study focuses on the various attitudes of Chinese Buddhist masters toward the intro

    duction of Indian disciplinary rules in a Chinese reality, more particularly in the Chinese

    society of the fifth to the eighth centuries, a period that saw the full development of Chinese monastic discipline (vinaya) and that continues till today to be the basic reference point for

    this subject. Many influential vinaya masters date from this period, but two stand out prom

    inently. The first is Daoxuan Hit (596-667), founder of what came to be called the Nanshan

    luzong l^lllflt^ or "vinaya school of Nanshan." This school promoted the vinaya rules, and in particular the Dharmaguptakavinaya, seen as the tradition on which the first Chinese ordinations were based. As abbot of the Ximing g?B?| monastery near the capital Chang'an, Daoxuan wrote several influential vinaya commentaries, and actively promoted Buddhism at the imperial court.1 The second notable vinaya master in this period is Yijing (635 713), who apart from the many other works he produced, is known as the translator of the

    M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya, and as the author of a detailed report on Indian monasteries, the Nanhai jigui neifa zhuan "S$|itFji? l^lffifll, or "Account of Buddhism Sent from the South

    Seas," T.2125.2

    The present article aims at improving our understanding of the position of these vinaya masters toward the practical implementation of vinaya rules into Chinese monastic life. How far can rules attributed to the Buddha, or rules considered to be the core of the ordina tion transmission, be applied in a pragmatic way? Or, from a different angle, how absolute or fundamental are these rules? In order to throw some light on these questions, we shall start with an overview of the vinaya background of Chinese monasteries and the reactions to it by Daoxuan and Yijing. In the second section of this study, we focus on the crucial term, like jiao or "abridged teaching," a concept that allows an actualization of many rules.

    Finally, the different attitudes of the masters toward the implementation of vinaya rules will be discussed. As we shall see, the same masters adopt very different attitudes when con fronted with the reality of the Chinese context in which Buddhist monasteries function. A strict interpretation of discipline is not always as strict as first announced. On the other hand, pragmatism clearly has its limits.

    1. vinaya background of the chinese monasteries

    In the first centuries of Chinese Buddhism, monasteries had to function without a Chinese translation of a full vinaya text. This deficiency prompted the monk Faxian to undertake

    1. For details, see R. B. Wagner, "Buddhism, Biography and Power: A Study of Daoxuan's 'Continued Lives of Eminent Monks'" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1995), 46-90; Yifa, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China: An Annotated Translation and Study of the Chanyuan Qinggui (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 2002), 23-28.

    2. Translated by J. Takakusu, A Record of the Buddhist Religion as Practised in India and the Malay Archi

    pelago (A.D. 671-695) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896).

    Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008) 257

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  • 258 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    in 399 a trip from Chang'an to India. In his travel account he explains that his main purpose was to obtain an original version of the vinaya.3 When he finally sailed back to China, he had obtained copies of the Mahis?saka- and Mah?s?mghikavinayas, as well as extracts of the

    Sarv?stiv?davinaya. In the meantime, however, other full vinayas had already reached China via the northern land routes, and it is in the north that full vinayas were translated for the first time into Chinese:4 the Shisong l? +11^ (T.1435), Sarv?stiv?davinaya, translated be tween 404 and 409 by Punyatr?ta/Punyatara,5 Kum?rajiva, and Dharmaruci, and revised by Vimal?ksa,6 and a few years later, the Sifen l? (T.1428), Dharmaguptakavinaya,1 translated by Buddhayasas and Zhu Fonian between 410 and 412. A bit later,

    vinaya translations were produced also in the southern part of China, namely in Jiankang, the capital of the Liu-Song dynasty. There, Buddhabhadra and Faxian translated the Mohe

    sengqi l? J|If?[ft|$^ (T.1425), Mah?s?mghikavinaya* between 416 and 418. It is also in

    Jiankang that a fourth vinaya was translated: the Mishasai bu hexi wufen l? l^Sp|5|[l8 (T.1421), Mahls?sakavinaya, translated, according to the Gaoseng zhuan itjflsfl^,9

    by Buddhajiva, Zhisheng Daosheng and Huiyan Mg in 423 or 424. Much later, at the beginning of the eighth century, the monk Yijing translated into Chinese large parts of the M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya (Genbenshuoyiqieyou bu pinaiye tfi^l?-^^OWn?S^W, T. 1442-1451), as well as other vinaya texts belonging to the same school.10 Around the same

    time, however, the Dharmaguptakavinaya was imposed by imperial decree as the only valid

    vinaya in China, a process strongly stimulated by Daoxuan.11 The Dharmaguptakavinaya

    consequently became the reference point for monastic discipline in China, and all ordinations

    since then have been based on its guidelines.12

    3. Gaoseng Faxian zhuan jSlg&jggfl, T.2085: 857a6-8, 864bl7, 864cl-3. See also A. Heirman, "Vinaya

    from India to China," in The Spread of Buddhism, ed. A. Heirman and S.-P. Bumbacher (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 174.

    4. For details on the first vinaya texts in China, see Heirman, "Vinaya from India to China," 175-77.

    5. Ch. Furuoduoluo $^#M. 6. See A. Yuyama, A Systematic Survey of Buddhist Sanskrit Literature, Erster Teil: Vinaya-Texte (Wiesbaden:

    Franz Steiner Verlag, 1979), 8. Of the Sarv?stiv?davinaya, many small Sanskrit fragments have been found (see

    J. Chung, "Sanskrit-Fragmente des sogenannten Das?dhy?ya-vinaya aus Zentralasien - eine vorl?ufige Auflistung,"

    in Sanskrit-Texte aus dem buddhistischen Kanon: Neuentdeckungen und Neueditionen, Vierte Folge, ed. J. Chung,

    C. Vogel and K. Wille (G?ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002). 7. For a translation into English of the rules for nuns (T.1428: 714a2-778bl3), see A. Heirman, The Discipline

    in Four Parts: Rules for Nuns according to the Dharmaguptakavinaya (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2002).

    8. The rules for nuns (T.1425: 471a25-476bl 1 and 514a25-548a28) have been translated into English by

    A. Hirakawa (in collaboration with Z. Ikuno and P. Groner), Monastic Discipline for the Buddhist Nuns: An

    English Translation of the Chinese Text of the Mah?s?mghika-Bhiksuni-Vinaya (Patna: Kashi Jayaswal Research

    Institute, 1982). 9. Or Biographies of Eminent Monks, compiled by Huijiao WM around 530, T.2059: 339a9-10.

    10. Of the M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya, a Tibetan translation as well as many Sanskrit fragments are extant. For

    details, see Yuyama, Systematic Survey, 12-33.

    11. See A. Heirman, "Can we Trace the Early Dharmaguptakas?" T'oung Pao 88 (2002): 419-23.

    12. Besides the above, two major vinaya texts have survived in an Indian language. The most important one

    is the Therav?da vinaya written in Pali. Although at the end of the fifth century a Pali vinaya was translated into

    Chinese, the translation was never presented to the emperor and was subsequently lost (see A. Heirman, "The

    Chinese Samantap?s?dik? and its School Affiliation," Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl?ndischen Gesellschaft

    154.2 (2004): 377-78; and idem, "Vinaya from India to China," 190-92). The second text to have survived in an

    Indian language only, is the chapter for nuns (bhiksunivibhanga) of the Mah?s?mghika-Lokottarav?dins, preserved

    in a transitional language between Prakrit and Sanskrit (G. Roth, Bhiksuni-Vinaya, Including Bhiksuni-Prakirnaka

    and a Summary of the Bhiksu-Prakirnaka of the ?rya-Mah?s?mghika-Lokottarav?din [Patna: Kashi Jayaswal

    Research Institute, 1970], lv-lvi). It has never been translated into Chinese.

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  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 259

    From the beginning, Chinese monasteries struggled with vinaya rules, and attempts were made to act as correctly as possible in accordance with the rules. "Correct" in the first

    place means linked to the Indian vinaya traditions.13 However, when near the start of the fifth

    century as many as four full vinayas were translated into Chinese, discussions developed on the sometimes contradictory guidelines contained in these texts. In addition, awareness arose that, if strictly interpreted, vinaya traditions mutually exclude each other.14 On the other

    hand, early Chinese monasteries seem not to have taken into account this mutual exclusion.

    Although all vinayas state that a legal procedure has to be carried out by a harmonious

    samgha (samagrasamgha),15 implying unity in the recitation of the pr?timoksa (list of pre cepts) at the posadha16 ceremony,17 attendance of all monks (bhiksus) and nuns (bhiksunis) who are present in the legal district (slma),1* and a sufficient number of monks or nuns to

    perform a legally valid act, the early Chinese monasteries probably used several vinayas at the same time.19 This situation gradually changed when Daoxuan started to write his com

    mentaries. In his Xu Gaoseng zhuan MMimiM, or Further Biographies of Eminent Monks, he complains that the precepts that monks receive at their ordination and the precepts that

    they later follow, do not tally with each other (T.2060: 620b6, cl-2). He consequently argues that one should take only one vinaya as a reference point, specifically that of the Dharma

    guptaka School, which, according to Daoxuan, lies at the basis of the first ordination intro duced in China (620c2-3).20 This does not imply, however, that only this vinaya should be studied. As is obvious in all of Daoxuan's commentaries, he had extensively studied all

    13. See, among others, Yifa, The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes, 3-98. 14. This fact is linked to the gradual redaction of the vinaya texts: regardless of the extent they developed inde

    pendently or in symbiosis with each other, at a certain point they were finalized as separate codes that mutually ex

    clude each other (H. Bechert, "The Importance of Asoka's So-called Schism Edict," in Indological and Buddhist Studies: Volume in Honour of Professor J. W. de Jong on his Sixtieth Birthday, ed. L. A. Hercus et al. (Canberra:

    Faculty of Asian Studies, 1982), 67-68; idem, "On the Origination and Characteristics of Buddhist Nik?yas, or

    Schools," in Premier Colloque Etienne Lamotte (Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, 1993), 54; O. von Hin?ber, Das P?timokkhasutta der Therav?din: Studien zur Literatur des Therav?da-Buddhismus, II

    (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999), 89-91; A. Heirman, "Vinaya: Perpetuum Mobile," Asiatische Studien/ Etudes Asiatiques 53 [1999]: 849-71). This is certainly the case when ordination procedures are concerned. See H. Bechert, "On the Origination and Characteristics of Buddhist Nik?yas, or Schools," 54: "As a rule, monks be

    longing to different Nik?yas do not conduct joint Sanghakarmas [formal acts]. Though they may not always dispute the validity of each other's ordination, they do not recognize it as beyond dispute either. If there were doubts about the validity, the Sanghakarman would be questionable. If the validity of ordinations is called into question, the

    legitimation of the Sangha is endangered." 15. P?li vinaya, Vin I: 316; Mahis?sakavinaya, T.1421; 161cl7; Mah?s?mghikavinaya, T.1425: 422b9-14;

    Dharmaguptakavinaya, T.1428: 885cl4-15; Sarv?stiv?davinaya, T.1435: 220al3-14, c3-5; M?lasarv?stiv?da tra

    dition, T. 1453: 496b 16-22.

    16. This ceremony, at which the pr?timoksa is recited, is held every fortnight. 17. Cf. H. Hu-von Hin?ber, Das Posadhavastu: Vorschriften f?r die buddhistischen Beichtfeier im Vinaya

    der M?lasarv?stiv?dins (Reinbek: Dr. Inge Wezler Verlag f?r Orientalische Fachpublikationen, 1994), 219-26; H. Tieken, "Asoka and the Buddhist Samgha: a Study of Asoka's Schism Edict and Minor Rock Edict I," Bulletin

    of the School of Oriental and African Studies 63 (2000): 2-3, 10-11, 13, 26-27. 18. Any formal act has to be carried out within a well defined district (sima). In order to have a legally valid

    formal act, every monk or nun present in that district must attend the ceremony. See P. Kieffer-P?lz, Die Sim?: Vor

    schriften zur Regelung der buddhistischen Gemeinde grenze in ?lteren buddhistischen Texten (Berlin: Dieter Reimer

    Verlag, 1992), 27-28.

    19. See A. Heirman, "Chinese Nuns and their Ordination in Fifth Century China," Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 24 (2001): 296-97; and idem, "Vinaya from India to China," 192-95.

    20. Similarly also Daoxuan, Sifen l? shanfan buque xingshi chao K^ftflB?JK?Wff ^i^, or Abridged and

    Explanatory Commentary on the Dharmaguptakavinaya (T.1804: 51c7-9).

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  • 260 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    vinaya texts. Here he emphasizes that the Dharmaguptakavinaya is the fundamental vinaya text, but that, if needed, others may be consulted.21

    This situation did not please the monk Yijing, who was anxious about the actual state of

    disciplinary rules in China.22 According to Yijing, many misinterpretations had been handed

    down, and it was becoming difficult even to understand the vinaya because so many Chinese commentators had tampered with it.23 He also points out that vinayas should not be inter

    mingled.24 Consequently, Yijing opined that the only solution was to return to the original vinaya rules, which according to him were to be found in India.25 Hence he decided to travel to the land of the Buddha. As is well known, he recorded his experiences in his Nanhaijigui neifa zhuan. In India, Yijing was confronted mainly with the M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya, but

    also with some practices not strictly in accord with any vinayas previously known to him.26 This latter fact complicates the picture. For the vinaya masters in China now have three

    different angles from which to approach disciplinary matters. First, there is the position as

    defended by Daoxuan, with the Dharmaguptakavinaya as the basis, supplemented by other

    vinayas. Second, there is the viewpoint of Yijing, who underlines the importance of a new,

    unspoiled, and pure vinaya. Third, there is the detailed description by Yijing of all kinds of

    practices followed in Indian monasteries. As noted already, the introduction of a new vinaya as defended by Yijing was not suc

    cessful.27 Instead, the Dharmaguptakavinaya was imposed as the standard for China near the

    beginning of the eighth century, following Daoxuan's viewpoint. This did not stop further

    discussion on vinaya, though. Disciplinary matters of the monastic community were reinter

    preted each time a new situation presented itself. This problem was partially solved by the

    introduction of two new sets of rules, apart from the basic vinaya traditions: first, the so

    called bodhisattva rules, and second, the qing gui $f $| or "pure rules." The bodhisattva rules, intended to provide the Chinese Buddhist community with Mah?y?na moral guidelines, had

    seen a growing popularity in the fifth century. The most influential text was the Fanwang

    jing (T.1484), or Brahma's Net S?tra, which in the second of its two fascicles con

    tains a set of fifty-eight precepts.28 The Fanwang jing was seen as a Mah?y?na supplement, a guideline for lay people as well as for monks and nuns on their way to enlightenment. It

    was also introduced in the ordination ceremony. Still, in China even today the ordination

    based on the traditional Hinay?na vinaya texts always comes first.29 The "pure rules," on

    21. Ibid., 2bl9-20.

    22. He even complains that, in China, teachers and disciples alike do not seem to take any responsibility as to

    the vinaya rules; T.2125: 219M5-17.

    23. Ibid., 206a21-22.

    24. Ibid., 205b28-c5.

    25. Ibid., 205c20-206a4. For more details, see Heirman, "Vinaya from India to China," 177-79.

    26. See, e.g., the rules for the female probationer, the siksam?n? (T.2125: 219b2-10); also A. Heirman, "Where

    is the Probationer in the Chinese Buddhist Monasteries?" Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl?ndischen Gesellschaft

    158.1 (2008): 130.

    27. See also J. R. McRae, "Daoxuan's Vision of Jetavana, The Ordination Platform Movement in Medieval

    Chinese Buddhism," in Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya, ed. W. M. Bodiford (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i

    Press, 2005), 84-88.

    28. For a translation (into French), see J. J. M. De Groot, Le code du Mah?y?na en Chine: Son influence sur la

    vie monacale et sur le monde la'ique (Amsterdam: Johannes M?ller, 1893).

    29. This does not necessarily mean that the traditional vinaya rules were always considered to be superior.

    On the contrary, some ordination ceremonies, such as the one designed by Emperor Wu (r. 502-549) of the

    Liang dynasty, seem to suggest that the vinaya ordination was just a transitory state toward the full perfection of

    bodhisattva-hood (A. Janousch, "The Emperor as Bodhisattva: the Bodhisattva Ordination and Ritual Assemblies

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  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 261

    the other hand, started to develop in the eighth century, particularly among Chan monks. These aim at the practical organization of the monasteries. The oldest extant code is the Chan

    yuan qing gui Wf?^iM* or Pure Rules for the Chan Monastery, compiled in 1103. These

    practical rules were regularly updated and became the standard guidelines for the organi zation of all Chinese public monasteries; they did not replace the earlier rules, but offered

    organizational guidelines.30 Thus, although new sets of moral and practical rules were introduced in China beginning

    from the fifth century, the traditional Indian vinayas, and particularly the Dharmaguptaka vinaya continued to play a major role, given the latter's basic position in the ordination of

    every Chinese monk and nun. But how were these rules interpreted? And more specifically, how did prominent vinaya masters deal with the application of Indian rules in a Chinese context? These are of course very broad questions, which can be studied from many points of view. Here, we shall focus on a crucial term in the discussion, namely lue jiao or "abridged teaching," as used by the Tang vinaya masters. In the Tang period, Chinese monasteries be came very powerful institutions, prominently present and active in the Chinese society. With, on the one hand the vinaya rules, and on the other, the Chinese reality, how did the masters conceive of a Chinese monastic life in accordance with the Indian vinaya? The concept of lue jiao plays an important role. While for some masters, it refers to tradition, for others it offers a way to a pragmatic attitude, while remaining "correct" as to the vinaya. Let us now examine this concept, as used by the several vinaya traditions?with a particular focus on the

    Dharmaguptakavinaya and its most prominent defender Daoxuan, as well as on the later introduced M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition, as promoted by the monk Yijing.

    2. the concept of L?E JIAO

    2.7. Two interpretations of the term l?e jiao

    2.7.7. L?e jiao as expounded by the seven Buddhas

    Just as in all vinaya traditions translated into Chinese, the Dharmaguptaka tradition has the story of the seven Buddhas who expounded their general guidelines to the monastic com

    munity, before the last one of them, S?kyamuni Buddha, finally took the decision to give a detailed exposition of the vinaya rules. T.1429, Sifen l? biqiu jie ben H^^ifcjxBJc^,

    of Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty," in State and Court Ritual in China, ed. J. P. McDermott [Cambridge: Cam

    bridge Univ. Press, 1999], 126-33). For more details on the bodhisattva rules, see, among others, P. Demieville, "Bo

    satsukai," in H?b?girin, Dictionnaire encyclopedique du bouddhisme d 'apres les sources chinoises et japonaises, 2 (Tokyo: Maison Franco-Japonaise, 1930), 142-44; P. Groner, "The Fan-wang ching and Monastic Discipline in

    Japanese Tendai: A Study of Annen's Futs? jubosatsukai k?shaku," in Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha, ed. R. E. Buswell (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 1990), 251-57; idem, "The Ordination Ritual in the Platform S?tra within the Context of the East Asian Buddhist Vinaya Tradition," in Fo Kuang Shan Report of International Con

    ference on Ch'an Buddhism (Kaohsiung: Fo-kuang shan, 1990), 220-50; L. Kuo, Confession et contrition dans le bouddhisme chinois du Ve au Xe siecle (Paris: Publications de l'Ecole franchise d'Extreme-Orient, 1994), 37-58.

    30. For more details, see, among others, T. G. Foulk, "The 'Ch'an School' and its Place in the Buddhist Monastic Tradition" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1987), 62-99; C. Fritz, Die Verwaltungsstruktur der Chan-Kl?ster in der sp?ten Yuan-Zeit: Das 4. Buch der Chixiu Baizhang qinggui, ?bersetzt, annotiert und mit einer

    Einleitung versehen (Bern: Peter Lang, 1994); Yifa, Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China; J. Jia, "The Creation and Codification of Monastic Regulations at Mount Baizhang," Journal of Chinese Religions 33 (2005): 39-59.

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  • 262 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    bhiksupr?timoksas?tra of the Dharmaguptaka School,31 relates the story as follows

    (1022M l-c7). The Buddha Vipasyin HHf3 tells us that a sramana needs to have patience and forbearance (iS# renru, Skt. ks?nti), and cannot indulge in extremes or annoy other

    people. Sikhin f^fjl Buddha instructs that intelligent people should stay far away from all kinds of bad things, while Visvabh? J^JIIl says that one should not slander or envy others, that one should know modesty in food, drink, and lodging, and that one should put one's mind at rest and try to make progress. Krakucchanda Ififitj^ explains that a monk should not oppose anyone else's behavior, but should only look whether his own acts are

    correct or not. Kanakamuni f&gurges monks not to have an unrestrained life, and instructs them to follow diligently the noble way (HSc shengfa), which will take away all

    troubles, put the mind at rest, and lead to nirvana. Kasyapa MM advises to do no evil but to perform only good acts and to purify one's mind. Finally, S?kyamuni Buddha adds the last

    instructions: one should be careful of one's speech, purify one's mind, and not indulge in

    bad behavior. If these three precepts are enacted, one follows the path of a great recluse.32 The above instructions reveal that three areas of activity are to be taken equally into

    account: speech, mind, and behavior. Modesty and distance from extremes are also impor tant. The enlightenment a monk may attain thereby is a personal enlightenment and does not

    interfere with other people's actions. The same text (at 1022c8-1023al0) further relates how S?kyamuni Buddha gave no

    further instructions to the samgha during the first dozen years after his enlightenment. This was deemed to be unnecessary since the samgha was at that time wu shi 4telfl, or "without

    matters [to be reported]." Only afterward did S?kyamuni begin broadly (guang J?f) to ex

    pound detailed disciplinary rules. As explained by the vinaya master Daoxuan in his com

    mentary on the bhiksupr?timoksa of the Dharmaguptakas, Sifen l? biqiu hanzhu jieben H

    ^ftifcJxI^ftflJc^rS or Bhiksupr?timoksa of the Dharmaguptakavinaya with Commentary

    (T.1806, 462a29-463al3), the general rules of the first twelve years are also called liie jiao

    "abridged teaching," while the detailed teachings expounded afterwards are called guang jiao 3f "broad teaching." Guang jiao thus refers to the later development of the list of rules,

    i.e., of the pr?timoksa, which is to be recited every fortnight during the posadha ceremony. It is important to note that the detailed vinaya rules of the pr?timoksa were not given by the

    Buddha in one lecture, but were only explained gradually, whenever ? monk or a nun was

    31. Although the Taish? edition attributes the translation to the monk Buddhayasas (said to have translated the

    text during the Hou Qin period, 384-417 a.D.; T. 1429: 1015a20), the text was probably compiled by the monk

    Huaisu (1g^, 634-707) on the basis of the Sifen l?, i.e., Dharmaguptakavinaya (Yuyama, Systematic Survey, 33).

    32. T.1422, Mishasai wufen jieben W&MftM^ bhiksupr?timoksa of the Mahis?saka School, compiled by

    the monk Buddhajiva on the basis of the Mahis?sakavinaya (T.1421) between 423 and 424 (Yuyama, Systematic

    Survey, 37) contains a similar account (199c21-200b5). It relates how, preceding the pr?timoksa recited at the fort

    nightly posadha ceremony, there were seven l?eshuopoluotimucha BSl?i?HS^X? "abridgedpr?timoksa^,' that

    contain the guidelines of the seven Buddhas. The latter passage is a nearly verbatim parallel to T.1426 (555b22

    556a5), Mohesengqi Iii da biqiu jieben jjSf^^f?^^i^jx^^, bhiksupr?timoksa of the Mah?s?mghikas (accord

    ing to Yuyama, 38, possibly translated by the monks Buddhabhadra and Faxian at the beginning of the fifth century),

    and to T.1436 (478b22-479a5), Shisong biqiu poluotimucha jieben +M&&&Mifk'fcXj$l'fc bhiksupr?timoksa

    of the Sarv?stiv?dins, translated by Kum?rajiva after 404 (Yuyama, 1). Very similar is also T.1454 (507b27

    508al3), Genben shuo yiqieyou bu jiejing IS^t&^^WolW^, bhiksupr?timoksa of the M?lasarv?stiv?dins,

    translated by Yijing in 710 (Yuyama, 14). A short version of these guidelines is outlined in T.125, Zeng yi ahan jing

    ^?Hc?rM, Ekottar?gama, 55lal 1?17: one should avoid all bad things, and do only good things. In this way

    one's speech, mind, and acts will be pure.

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  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 263

    found to do anything wrong.33 The reason why these detailed rules were necessary is clearly expressed by the monk Yuanzhao34 jcM (1048-1116) in his explanation of the term guang jiao as given in his commentary on the bhiksupr?timoksa of the Dharmaguptakas, Sifen Iii

    biqiu hanzhu jieben shu xing zong ji E^fttbrx^ak^SKfj^lB (M. 62: 392al-3):35 first there were only short (liie) guidelines, and although one did all kinds of wrong things, it was not considered to be an offense. Therefore rules had to be expounded in detail, hence this is called guang jiao, "broad teaching."

    At a certain point the list of these detailed rules was finalized into one text, the

    pr?timoksa text, which might have been the result of a process of identification and self definition of the different vinaya schools.36 The pr?timoksa became a text, fully attributed to the Buddha, that gives guidelines for the monastic life, and that through its usage at the ordination ceremony, and its fortnightly recitation at the posadha ceremony, serves as a bond between members of the same vinaya tradition.37 It is in this form that the pr?timoksa texts

    began to reach China, starting in the third century a.D.38

    Interesting for our purposes is that the above mentioned T.1429 (at 1023a3-10) also adds a last remark on monastic discipline given by the Buddha on his deathbed. When about to enter parinirv?na he explains to the monks that after his death, they should follow the

    pr?timoksas?tra, the list of rules that he expounded. He warns them that if they do not do so, the posadha ceremony, at which the pr?timoksa is recited, will disappear and the world will become dark.39 If, however, they live up to the rules, and recite them harmoniously40 at the posadha ceremony, all kinds of merit will spread among living beings and help them to follow the Buddhist path. This warning is explicitly repeated by Daoxuan in his commentary

    33. In this context, it is essential to make a distinction between scientific research on vinaya texts, which

    clearly reveals a gradual expansion of the disciplinary texts over a long period of time, also after the death of the historical Buddha (see in particular, O. von Hin?ber, Das P?timokkhasutta der Therav?din: Studien zur Literatur des Therav?da-Buddhismus, II [Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999]), and the Buddhist tradition that attributes all

    regulations to the Buddha himself (see D. Schlingloff, "Zum Interpretation des Pr?timoksas?tra," Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenl?ndischen Gesellschaft 113 [1963]: 536-51; O. von Hin?ber, "Buddhist Law According to the

    Therav?da-Vinaya, A Survey of Theory and Practice," Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 18.1 [1995]: 7).

    34. Known for his restoration of the Chinese Vinaya School, founded by Daoxuan (see D. Getz, "Popular Re

    ligion and Pure Land in Song-Dynasty Tiantai Bodhisattva Precept Ordination Ceremonies," in Going Forth, Visions

    of Buddhist Vinaya, ed. W. M. Bodiford [Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 2005], 172-81). 35. The text is a subcommentary on T.1806, compiled by the vinaya master Daoxuan. The subcommentary on

    the term guang jiao is related to a passage situated at the beginning of Daoxuan's commentary where he introduces the concepts of liie jiao and guang jiao as seen by the Dharmaguptakas (429c9-l 1).

    36. See von Hin?ber, Das P?timokkhasutta der Therav?din, 89-91; Heirman, "Vinaya: Perpetuum Mobile." 37. The idea of "bond" is incorporated in the above mentioned concept of samagrasamgha, harmonious samgha. 38. See Heirman, "Vinaya from India to China," 169-74. 39. In this context, it is also important to point out that all vinayas mention an attempt to reduce the pr?timoksa

    rules only to those that are most important, by the Mah?s?mghika- and Dharmaguptakavinaya^ explicitly referred to as the p?r?jika (leading to a final exclusion of the status of monk and nun) and the samgh?vasesa (and variants, leading to a temporary exclusion) rules, to the expense of the minor rules (ksudr?nuksudr?ni siks?padapni; see

    Heirman, The Discipline in Four Parts, 642 n. 61). This attempt has been firmly rejected. Addressing the matter

    again even constitutes a p?cittika, an offense that needs to be expiated. See Pali vinaya, Vin IV: 142-44; Mahis?

    sakavinaya, T.1421: 41a27-c4; Mah?s?mghikavinaya, T.1425: 338c4-339a5; Dharmaguptakavinaya, T.1428: 685c7-686al8; Sarv?stiv?davinaya, T.1435: 74b22-c21; M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya, T.1442: 775a20-c9. The rejec tion of this attempt again shows how important the whole of the pr?timoksa was to the monastic community.

    40. f P pj???zii he he yichu zuo, "seated harmoniously and in one place."

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  • 264 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    on the Dharmaguptakavinaya (T.1804: 5c6-15). Daoxuan relates how the Buddha at the end of his life urged monks to take the vinaya MM as their da shi ^vffl, "great master." The text should be recited every two weeks, as a symbol of the presence of the dharma

    body if a shen ?fe dharmak?ya) of the Buddha himself: "When you recite every two weeks the pr?timoksa, it is me that you see." In this way, one preserves Buddha and dharma alike. This view on the central position of monastic discipline is not limited to the Dharmaguptaka vinaya tradition. Also the M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition attributes the same position to the

    pr?timoksa, as can be seen in T.1451, Genben shuo yiqieyou bu pinaiye zashi t?^I?-^?0 Wp?J^WS? the Ksudrakavastu of the M?lasarv?stiv?dins (398c29-399a3), where it is stated that the title da shi, "great master," originally reserved for the Buddha himself

    was, after the death of the Buddha, to be transferred to the pr?timoksa for monks and nuns.

    The pr?timoksa thus became their da shi.41

    2.1.2. L?e jiao as the last teaching on monastic discipline

    A second interpretation of the term l?e jiao equally opposes it to the term guang jiao, but takes a different angle. This view is prominent in the Chinese translations of the M?la sarv?stiv?da vinaya texts, as rendered by the monk Yijing.42 The Genben shuo yiqieyou bu

    pinaiye zashi, for instance, relates (293al-8) how, on his deathbed, the Buddha gave the

    attendant monks a final teaching on vinaya: he tells them that after having expounded the

    full vinaya, he still must explain the l?e jiao or "abridged teaching." If in the future, a monk should confront a matter that, in the vinaya as laid down by the Buddha, has neither been

    prohibited nor been permitted, he should consider whether or not this matter goes against

    purity (qing jing tjf It seems that this is to be interpreted as a recommendation to verify whether a new practice is in accordance with the pure essence or spirit of the vinaya rules.43

    It is this verification process that is called l?e jiao. Parallel instructions are also given in T.1453, Genben shuo yiqieyou bu baiyijiemo

    ?^JWn?lJ-~$?J?f, [M?lasarv?stiv?da] ekasatakarmanl44 and in T.1458, Genben sapoduo bu l? she Wt'JfWLWklfr o?ftSS, a commentary on the bhiksupr?timoksa of the M?lasarv?sti

    v?da tradition, both translated by Yijing. Both of these texts contain a similar explanatory

    41. For Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Pali parallels, see E. Waldschmidt, Das Mah?parinirv?nas?tra: Text in Sanskrit

    und Tibetisch, verglichen mit dem P?li nebst einer ?bersetzung der chinesischen Entsprechung im Vinaya der

    M?lasarv?stiv?dins (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag Berlin, 1950-51), 386-87. See also A. Forte, "Daishi ^Brjj," in

    H?b?girin, Dictionnaire encyclopedique du bouddhisme d'apres les sources chinoises et japonaises, 1 (Tokyo:

    Maison Franco-Japonaise, 1994), 1022-23. The same instruction is given in T.389, Fo chui banniepan lueshuo

    jiaojie jing or S?tra on the Short Teachings of the Buddha when he was on the Verge of

    Entering Parinirv?na, translated by the monk Kum?rajiva between 384 and 417(1110c 17-22): when about to enter

    parinirv?na, the Buddha briefly explains the essentials of the dharma. He points out to the monks that after his

    death the pr?timoksa will be their da shi. Strict observance of the pr?timoksa is said to be the basic condition for

    obtaining deliverance (111 la2-7). The Buddha further adds that his disciples must go forth, and cannot work and

    live as lay people do.

    42. Apart from the M?lasarv?stiv?da vinaya texts, Yijing also translated many other texts, among which is

    T.799, Fo shuo l?e jiaojie jing #&8ftB?l&t$M, or The Abridged Teaching as Taught by the Buddha. The main

    content of this is as follows: the Buddha says that true disciples of the Buddha go forth and lead a basic life, in

    order to shed all fetters of pain, and in order to obtain deliverance. The "abridged message" (yaoliie zhi shi

    !$ ) is that Buddhist disciples should always have good thoughts and never let go of them.

    43. See also a note by Yijing in T.1458: 615a25-26: one should interpret the vinaya on the basis of its yi H,

    "meaning," or essence.

    44. P. Demieville et al., Repertoire du canon bouddhique sino-japonais: Edition de Taish? (Taish? Shinsh?

    Daiz?ky?) Paris: Librairie d'Amerique et d'Orient, 1978), 124.

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  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 265

    passage on lue jiao (T.1453: 498b20-c28;45 T.1458: 608c2-18). This starts with a question: how should one deal with matters that have neither been forbidden nor permitted by the Buddha? The answer is that one must consider the liie jiao, i.e., the purity of the matter in

    question. Interestingly these texts also give (T.1453: 498b29-c4; T.1458: 608c8-10) two reasons why such a liie jiao verification is necessary: it prevents non-Buddhists from saying that S?kya's disciples do not have full knowledge (yiqie zhi

    ? #JW) anc* do not know what

    to do after the death of the Buddha, and second, it makes certain that disciples will in the future have "an agreeable dwelling" (anle zhu 3c ? fit; sparsavih?ra). The latter term is hard to interpret. It indicates one of the motives why the Buddha is said to have laid down the

    disciplinary rules. It is often linked to a mental state of tranquility derived from knowing what is correct as to the disciplinary rules, and seems to be also connected to the idea of a harmonious samgha, with one common disciplinary set.46 In T.1458 (608cl2-14), the latter idea is further illustrated: "Let the venerables come together, in friendly terms, and without

    dispute, with a single-minded exposition of the dharma, being united like milk and water, demonstrating the teaching of the great master, so that one has an agreeable dwelling, and does not let go."47

    The concept of liie jiao thus refers to the possibility of future rules to be considered in the spirit of the vinaya rules, so that Buddhist disciples in all circumstances might live up to the correct way. In this context, the Foguang da cidian, a dictionary compiled in 1988 at the Taiwanese Foguangshan monastery refers (7: 6345-46, s.v. |Si;^f JS/g, "vinaya in accor dance with the region [where it is applied"]) to an interesting passage of the Mahis?saka

    vinaya, T.1421: 153al4-17 (at the end of the chapter on food). After a discussion regarding how to accept food, the Buddha says: "Although I have stipulated it as such, in case [my stipulation] is not considered to be proper behavior in another region, one need not apply it.

    And although I have not stipulated it as such, if in another region one needs to act in that

    way, then in all cases one cannot not do it." This is probably the Mahis?saka passage Yijing refers to in a note added to his translation of the above mentioned T.1453 (498c26-28). There, Yijing explains that although the term liie jiao is not used in the Mahis?saka passage in question, it in fact concerns the same principle. He warns his readers, however, that a

    mistake has been made by the translators. While the Sanskrit Mahis?saka text is identical to the M?lasarv?stiv?da interpretation of liie jiao, the Chinese translation of the passage is

    wrong and will mislead those who refer to it when defending their own practices. So, this passage should not be copied! Although Yijing does not explicitly say what mistake has been made, it is clear that the Chinese Mahis?saka passage suggests a pragmatic attitude that goes further than the M?lasarv?stiv?da commentaries on liie jiao. The Chinese Mahis?saka text not only allows monks to introduce a new act into their daily behavior?even if this act had not been stipulated by the Buddha, but it also seems to allow monks to ignore stipula tions of the Buddha when those stipulations go against the proper behavior of the regions

    where the monks live. For Yijing, this is beyond the limits of a pragmatic attitude.

    45. T.1453:498b24 also gives a Chinese transliteration of the term: sengqiduopinaiye \^^L^^MW>, samksipta vinaya (cf. Foguang da cidian [Gaoxiong: Foguang chubanshe, 1989], s.v.).

    46. For more details, see Heirman, The Discipline in Four Parts, 275 n. 24, and 423-25 n. 268. 47. Immediately following this explanation of liie jiao, T.1458: 608c 18-610b 18 adds the teachings of the seven

    Buddhas, where the first interpretation of liie jiao reappears, i.e., liie jiao as the short teachings before the seventh Buddha, S?kyamuni Buddha, expounded his broad vinaya. This text also contains the idea that in the first twelve years of his teaching, S?kyamuni did not have to explain the vinaya rules broadly, but could restrict himself to an

    abridged teaching, liie jiao.

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  • 266 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    2.1.3. Conclusion

    The above data make clear that there are two different interpretations of the term liie jiao. On the one hand, the term is used to refer to the basic guidelines of the seven Buddhas. On the other hand, it is used (by the M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition) to indicate the way one should deal with new situations, i.e., one should act in accordance with the essence of the vinaya rules. Even more important, this allows us to distinguish two versions of the last words of the Buddha on monastic discipline. According to one version, the Buddha declares that after his

    death, the pr?timoksa takes over his role as "great master," the only guideline to be followed

    by Buddhist monastic disciples. In a second version, found in the M?lasarv?stiv?da tra

    dition, the Buddha instructs monks to judge new situations on their purity, i.e., to verify whether the spirit of the vinaya rules lives on in them. The latter practice is called in the M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition liie jiao. These two versions of the last words on vinaya seem to

    be linked to two very different viewpoints: the pr?timoksa version rather stimulates a strict

    following of the disciplinary rules as stipulated by the Buddha, while the liie jiao version focuses on an ad hoc interpretation of concrete matters that have not been discussed in the

    pr?timoksa laid down by the Buddha. In this sense, it stimulates a flexible or at least a re

    flective attitude toward vinaya. The two interpretations do not exclude each other, but the attitudes toward vinaya are basically different.

    The question remains how these attitudes can be implemented in a less theoretical way in the daily life of monasteries. In order to answer this question, we shall again look at the

    writings of Daoxuan and of Yijing. Which attitudes do they adopt when confronted with

    daily matters, and how do they see the practical implementation of these attitudes? Because

    of the nature of our sources, it is often difficult to determine just how much effect the re

    flections of Daoxuan or Yijing had on individual members of Chinese monasteries. Yijing at least was very skeptical about the prospects of changing the habits of his fellow monks, when he says "Indian monks, one after the other, brought the customs [to China], and

    Chinese monks crowded before them and received the practices. Some [Chinese monks]

    personally went to the West to witness with their own eyes what is wrong and what is

    correct. Although, on their return, they gave explanations, which of them has ever been

    followed?" (T.2125: 207a7-10). Of course, within the scope of this article, it is impossible to investigate every practical matter of daily life. What concerns us here is the question of

    which attitudes the prominent vinaya masters adopted when they were confronted with prac tical issues of monastic life.


    3.1. Strict attitude

    As seen above, both Da?xuan and Yijing advocated a strict observation of the vinaya rules. Daoxuan insisted in his commentaries that the pr?timoksa stands for the Buddha him

    self, while Yijing even traveled to India in search of the correct rules. Both also complain that their fellow monks do not observe the rules as strictly as required. First, monks now

    mix up rules. In this context, Daoxuan points out that it is wrong to be ordained in one tra

    dition, and then to follow the rules of another.48 In a similar discussion, Yijing points out

    that vinayas should never be intermingled, emphasizing at the same time that monks should

    48. T.2060: 620b6, 620c 1-2.

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  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 267

    not despise prohibitions of another tradition.49 Second, Daoxuan and Yijing often complain that since many monks do not strictly keep the vinaya rules, they do considerable harm to the Buddhist law.

    It is clear that Daoxuan and Yijing were often confronted with a reality that deviated in

    varying degrees from the regulations of the vinaya. Still, they diligently kept pointing out to their fellow monks the right way to act. An interesting example is the way in which Yijing reacts to a difficult case presented to him, namely that of the poor Buddhist nunneries

    (T.2125: 216bll-24). The nuns have hardly any means to sustain themselves. In this con

    text, Yijing is asked whether these women might be allowed to work for their maintenance, even if, according to the vinaya, monks and nuns should subsist on gifts from the lay com

    munity and should in all cases refrain from doing manual work themselves. Yijing answers that the Buddhist way will prosper through a strict observation of the precepts, and that one should therefore not be so concerned with one's livelihood. Nuns should not do any manual

    work, even if this means that they have to restrict themselves to their most basic needs, such as elementary lodging and clothes, a pot, and a begging bowl.

    Daoxuan and Yijing both stand for a strict interpretation of the vinaya rules. Still, in some

    cases, they do give in, prompted by circumstances. It is to this cautious leniency that we now turn our attention.

    3.2. Strict attitude, but with some leniency

    As a result of his travels, Yijing encountered, much more than Daoxuan did, various realities of different Buddhist regions. Although he constantly insists that "disciples of the Buddha ought to study the Buddha['s instructions]" (T.2125: 207al 1-12), he must, obviously with regret, admit that a strict following of the rules is not always possible. A good example of this is Yijing's attitude toward the regulations regarding monastic clothes. He complains that in China there are monks who see nothing wrong in wearing a garment that goes against the vinaya. They refer wrongly, says Yijing, to the concept of lue jiao stating, "Anything that is considered to be impure in one's own country (presumably India) but pure in another

    (presumably China) can be practiced [in China] without it being an offense." Yijing insists that this is a misunderstanding by earlier translators, a complaint that resembles his above

    mentioned comment on the Mahis?sakavinaya. Having first expressed his complaint, Yijing further illustrates his point on monastic clothing. Despite his emphasis on a strict interpreta tion of the vinaya rules, he acknowledges the difference between a warm and a cold climate and the resulting difficulties. Yijing states, however, that in the colder regions of China there is often no need to deviate from the rules, since the Buddha allows a special garment to be worn in such regions. This is the libo alJS, a cloth that covers the abdomen.50 He further adds that one can always heat a place by using charcoal fire. Still, necessity breaks the rule. The winters in China are cold enough that one sometimes needs to add more than a libo to one's normal clothing.51 Therefore he says: "Even if one knows that it is not the original (ben if) garment, it is still permissible for a time52 since it is meant to save lives.... Still, if

    49. T.2125: 205b28-c5. 50. Permission to wear this cloth can indeed be found in the M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition, T.1458, 571M8-19.

    According to my knowledge, it is unclear to which Sanskrit term the Chinese transliteration libo refers. 51. A bit earlier, Yijing already stated that self-mortification is not a Buddhist, but a non-Buddhist (wai dao ft

    M) practice (T.2125, 214b27-28). 52. Yijing uses the term quart which refers to an act that is in fact irregular, but which is necessary due to


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  • 268 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    one can pass the winter without wearing an illegal garment, it is all the better" (214b21-cl8). Earlier he applies the same argument to footwear, saying that "one may put on footwear suitable to the region," insisting on the other hand that one should avoid circumambulating a st?pa with one's shoes on.53 Those who do so insult the golden words (of the Buddha) (206c 16-21).

    Although this seems to show that Yijing allows deviations from the rules only in extreme

    circumstances, he also, although very reluctantly, gives in when confronted with some less extreme situations. An example is when he must deal with an already established Chinese tradition that has been practiced in the monasteries without anyone knowing it was a mistake.

    Once a tradition is established, it is very hard to change, even when criticized by Chinese monks who have witnessed the proper practice in India (207a9-10). For instance, Yijing refers to sitting on a couch (206c22-207al6). He points out two problems: the height of the couch one sits on, and the proper way of sitting.

    The first problem more precisely concerns the height of the couch's legs. According to

    him, the height should be eight finger breadths of the Buddha,54 which is indeed the right measure as stated in the M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya (T.1442: 895bl 1-12).55 One who violates this rule commits ap?yantik? offense.56 Yijing further adds that the Buddha's finger is said to have been three times larger than that of an ordinary individual.57 Eight Buddha fingers thus correspond to twenty-four ordinary fingers, which is, still according to Yijing, one and a half standard feet.58 He notes that in many Chinese monasteries, couches are more than two feet tall, although there are also some monasteries that keep to the right measure. Those monks whose couches exceed the proper height commit an offense and should reconsider their habits.

    53. As indicated by Yijing, the Indian habit at the time of the Tang dynasty was to walk barefoot when paying

    respect to a st?pa (cetiya in the Pali vinaya, cf. G. Schopen, "The St?pa Cult and the Extant Pali Vinaya," Journal

    of the Pali Text Society 13 (1989), rpt. in Schopen, Bones, Stones and Buddhist Monks [Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii

    Press, 1997], 89-91). See also a passage of the Samantap?s?dik?, a fourth or fifth-century commentary on the P?li

    vinaya, Sp VII: 1315 (translated by O. von Hin?ber, "Khandhakavatta, Loss of Text in the P?li Vinayapitaka?" Journal of the Pali Text Society 15 [1990]: 134), saying that one who does not pay respect to the Buddha "does not

    venerate a cetiya or a bodhi tree, [and] walks in the courtyard of a cetiya holding an umbrella and wearing shoes."

    The interdiction to wear shoes does not appear frequently in vinaya texts. More common is the interdiction to wear

    leather shoes when paying respect to a st?pa (for details, see A. Bareau, "La construction et le culte des st?pa d'apres les vinayapitaka," Bulletin de l'tcole frangaise d Extreme-Orient 50.2 [1962]: 252).

    54. In this passage the term fo $fr renders the Sanskrit term sugata, used to indicate the measures of the

    Buddha. According to Schlingloff ("Zum Interpretation des Pr?timoksas?tra," 544-45), all measures based upon

    sugata should be considered as measures relating to an average person. The term su-gata means "well-gone," and

    refers to the usual standard measures. Since, however, the term is also used as an epitheton ornans for the Buddha,

    confusion arose concerning the correct interpretation and such measurements came to be understood as indicating those of the Buddha.

    55. The other vinayas contain a similar rule (P?li vinaya, Vin IV: 168; Mahls?sakavinaya, T.1421: 70b20

    21; Mah?s?mghikavinaya, T.1425: 391cl8-20; Dharmaguptakavinaya, T.1428: 693a29-bl; Sarv?stiv?davinaya,

    T.1435: 127b29-c2). 56. P?yantik? and variants: an offense that needs to be expiated (see Heirman, The Discipline in Four Parts,

    141-47). In addition, not to use a high bed is one of the ten precepts of a novice (66).

    57. The same statement can also be found in the Samantap?s?dik?, Sp III: 567 (also in its alleged Chinese trans

    lation, T.1462: 764c21-22). The M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya (T.1442: 895M9-20), however, says that eight finger

    breadths of the Buddha corresponds to one zhou ft, "elbow-length," of an average man.

    58. A standard Tang dynasty foot (chi R) measured ca. 30 cm. Also Daoxuan makes a precise calculation.

    According to him (T.1804, 89b2-3) eight fingers corresponds to one foot and six thumbs of the Ji Zhou #i?)f}

    measure (= 9.3696 cm) or to one foot three thumbs and a little bit of the Tang standard measure (for details on these

    calculations, see Heirman, The Discipline in Four Parts, 654-56, n. 112).

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  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 269

    The second problem referred to by Yijing concerns how to sit properly. He states that the correct way to sit is with the feet on the ground, as he witnessed in India and as is stipu lated in the s?tras. More precisely, Yijing points out that the s?tras say that one must wash one's feet after eating, from which he infers that such a recommendation would only be

    necessary if the feet actually touched the ground while one were eating.59 He further ex

    plains that when Buddhism first came to China, monks were sitting properly on chairs, but that the error of sitting cross-legged was introduced during the Jin dynasty (265-420).60

    The question of the height of the couch's legs is fairly easy to resolve, but the habit of

    sitting cross-legged is much harder to deal with. Yijing of course realizes that it is hopeless to change the way his fellow monks sit. The best he can do is point out that the proper way of sitting is with the feet on the ground, and that this practice should not be ridiculed. In

    addition, he insists that this has the advantage of making it easier to eat without any spilling of food. Hence it is not as difficult to keep one's clothes clean. He urges his fellow monks "to consider carefully [these arguments] so as to see what they lose [by not following the

    proper practice]" (207al6). Elsewhere, however, he hesitates to condemn Chinese monks on this issue: in a note added to his translation in T.1453 (498c21-22), he says, regarding the habit of sitting cross-legged on a high couch while eating, that it is "hard to say [what one should do]."

    Both Daoxuan and Yijing were not positive about a change of vinaya rules. But, when confronted with Chinese reality, both feel the need to point out that mistakes are being made. We shall, however, see that their opinions on these mistakes often differed.

    3.3. Adaptation toward asceticism

    Deviations from vinaya rules do not always imply that precepts are being neglected. In the context of Chinese Buddhism of the fifth to eighth centuries, reinterpretations of the vinaya rules in order to adapt them to Mah?y?na concepts are quite frequent. This is particularly clear in the case of precepts involving food habits. A collective ban on the use of meat, alcohol, and on vegetables with a strong flavor, such as garlic, onions, and leeks, is very common.61 A comparison with the traditional Hinay?na vinayas reveals that while alcohol and garlic are forbidden in all vinayas, this is not so for meat, onions, or leeks. Only the

    M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition forbids the consumption of onions and leeks.62 The ban against meat, as well as against strong-smelling vegetables, is strongly advanced only in later Mah?

    y?na texts, such as the Fanwang jing, and the Lank?vat?ras?tra.63 Daoxuan, while being a strict advocate of vinaya rules, follows these Mah?y?na interpretations. He states that even if vinaya texts permit the consumption of meat, this should be understood as the "meat" of

    59. The Samyukt?gama (Bieyi za ahan jing Wjf?WMiSM), translated by an anonymous translator between 350 and 431 (P. DemieVille et al., Repertoire du canon bouddhique, 25), for instance, contains this recommendation

    (T.100: 380b8-9). 60. For a detailed study of the impact of Buddhism on the construction of chairs in China, see J. Kieschnick,

    The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2003), 222-49. 61. See J. Kieschnick, "Buddhist Vegetarianism in China," in Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics, and Religion

    in Traditional China, ed. R. Sterckx (New York: Palgrave, 2005), 186-212, and A. Heirman, "Offenders, Sinners and Criminals: The Consumption of Forbidden Food," Acta Orientalia 59.1 (2006): 57-83.

    62. See, e.g., T.1451: 230al8-19.

    63. The Chinese version used by Daoshi and Daoxuan, is the Rulengjia jing ASyflWM (T.671), translated by Bodhiruci in the first half of the sixth century. For references to T.1484 and T.671, see Heirman, "Offenders, Sinners and Criminals," 62-71.

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  • 270 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    meditation, i.e., food beyond one's comprehension. Therefore those who study Hinay?na vinaya precepts should follow the same regulations as Chinese Mah?y?na disciples do.64 As for alcohol and strong-smelling vegetables, Daoxuan refers to the Lank?vat?ras?tra which forbids the consumption of these items.65

    On these issues, Daoxuan thus clearly follows the Mah?y?na interpretation. This is not the case for Yijing, who adheres more closely to the basic interpretation of the vinaya rules. On the one hand, he defends the ban on onions, which conforms to the M?lasarv?stiv?da

    position (T.2125: 210c7-9, 225al7-18). On the other hand, he clearly refers to meat as to one of the products allowed by the vinaya (210b 18), although he adds that in India even lay people rarely have a taste for it (210cl). In the island-countries of the South Sea, however, monks consume the three kinds of pure meat (21 la6),66 a position that Yijing openly defends

    (213a6-12). He even states that overturning the rule on pure meat constitutes an offense, albeit a small one. Since there is no intention of killing, consumption is guiltless, and the

    samgha therefore has the duty to accept any gift of meat. In the same context, Yijing even more firmly defends the use of silk (212c22-213a29),

    a product condemned by many Chinese masters, since making it involves killing silk worms.67 Yijing advances several arguments in favor of silk. He first points out that silk is

    permitted by the vinayas,68 although, conforming to the M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition,69 he

    argues against making silk bedding. As for clothing, he explains that it is always possible to make use of old material. Next, he adds that silk is easily obtained, while the fine linen used by monks in replacement of silk is instead much more difficult to find. Wearing the latter gives the impression that one is avid for luxurious cloth material. Also, just as for meat, if a donor gives silk, the samgha should accept it. Third, since refusing silk makes life more

    difficult, Yijing sees it as a hardly permissible self-punishment. He even adds in a tone of

    reproach that monks who refuse to wear silk do so out of self-interest, boasting of their virtue. This self-denial is a kind of extreme behavior, and extremes are to be avoided.

    Lastly, he insists that since there is no intention on the part of the monks to kill silkworms,

    wearing silk is guiltless. He adds, however, that he can understand the compassion that some monks feel. On the other hand, earthworms (which one may step on when walking) are not

    protected. So why silkworms? In other words, unintentional destruction of life is inevitable and does not give rise to bad karma.

    We see from this that Daoxuan firmly promotes Mah?y?na reinterpretations, while Yijing rejects them just as firmly and insists on the fact that the essence of the precepts must be

    64. T.1804: 118al9-21.

    65. Ibid., 118a28-29.

    66. The vinayas permit the consumption of meat as long as a monk or a nun has not seen nor heard, or does not

    suspect that the animal has been killed especially for him or her (P?li vinaya, Vin I: 238; Mahis?sakavinaya, T.1421:

    149cl9-25; Mah?s?mghikavinaya, T.1425: 485c21-486a24; Dharmaguptakavinaya, T.1428: 872b4-17, 998M4

    16; Sarv?stiv?davinaya, T.1435: 190b9-24, 264c27-265a7; M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition, T.1458: 570al5-17. See also

    J. Kieschnick, "Buddhist Vegetarianism in China," 187-93; Heirman, "Offenders, Sinners and Criminals," 59-62.

    67. Daoxuan, Liangchu qingzhong yi jlS?Mfl, T.1895: 852c8-22. See also J. Kieschnick, The Eminent

    Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval Chinese Hagiography (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 1997), 32.

    68. This is indeed the case (see, e.g., P?li vinaya, 281; Mahis?sakavinaya, 23b28-29; Mah?s?mghikavinaya,

    472c24-25; Dharmaguptakavinaya, 602al3-16; Sarv?stiv?davinaya, 84a28-29; for the M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition, see the following note). See also Heirman, The Discipline in Four Parts, 518-22 n. 207.

    69. The M?lasarv?stiv?da tradition is not entirely favorable toward the use of silk. It makes a difference

    between used silk and new silk, and between clothing and bedding. If one uses new silk (thus putting an end to the

    life of silkworms) to make bedding, one commits an offense (T.1454: 503a20-21; T.1458: 559a3-7). In his travel

    account, Yijing strongly underlines that "bedding" does not refer to "clothing" (T.2125: 213a21-24).

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  • Heirman: The Vinaya and Early Chinese Adepts 271

    respected. It is also in this sense that Yijing deals with new situations with the help of the liie jiao concept.

    3.4. New situations and liie jiao

    As seen above, Yijing usually emphasizes a strict interpretation of vinaya rules. Only in extreme cases does he allow exceptions. But this does not fully characterize Yijing's position. In fact, for many concrete questions, he also offers a pragmatic resolution to the strict life imposed by the vinaya rules. Any practice regarding food and clothing, for in

    stance, can be allowed as long as it is not considered wrong (T.2125: 215al-2). This is

    fully in accordance with the M?lasarv?stiv?da interpretation of liie jiao. A practice is wrong when forbidden by the vinaya; it is, however, correct, when the vinaya says nothing about

    it, and when it conforms with the proper conduct of the region where it is applied. As an example of the latter guidelines for monks, Yijing often refers to the color of the

    monastic robe,70 and to the use of chopsticks. As to the robe, Yijing underlines that the color yellow, although neither permitted nor forbidden by the vinaya rules, should not be used in China, since it is a color common to the clothing of laypeople, and thus unsuitable for monks (who should clearly identify themselves as people who have "gone forth").71 On the other hand, chopsticks, likewise neither permitted nor forbidden by the vinaya rules, can

    freely be used by Chinese monks since this is the proper way of eating in China. In India, however, they would be banned, for eating in a way that is different from the local customs makes the monastic community look ridiculous.72

    Thus, Yijing again emphasizes the necessary decorum of the monastic community, an

    argument that is prominent in all vinayas. In this sense, his pragmatic attitude is perfectly in line with the intention of the early vinaya compilers.


    It is clear that for Chinese vinaya masters, a strict connection to the discipline expounded by the Buddha himself was of utmost importance. This is the main reason given by Dao xuan when he promotes the Dharmaguptakavinaya as the vinaya that was used for the first ordinations. The same concern for direct connection to the guidelines of the Buddha

    prompted the later master Yijing to emphasize the M?lasarv?stiv?davinaya as a pure and

    unspoiled vinaya that kept to the original rules put forward by the Buddha. The vinaya, and more particularly the pr?timoksa, represents the Buddha himself, and is never to be abjured. This leads logically to a strict interpretation of the vinaya rules.

    On the other hand, while vinaya rules cannot be altered, society moves on, and monks and nuns inevitably are confronted with new situations that require an accurate interpretation of the rules to follow. This was (and is) a challenge for all vinaya masters. On top of that, the Chinese masters were confronted with a cultural context different from that of the historical Buddha, making an actualization even more difficult to handle. In this context, the M?lasar v?stiv?da tradition offers an opening through the liie jiao. This "abridged teaching" allows one to judge new situations on their purity, implying that acts that have neither been ex

    pressly permitted nor forbidden by the Buddha can be accepted if they are in accordance with the pure essence of the vinaya rules.

    70. On the color of robes, see, among others, Heirman, The Discipline in Four Parts, 627-28 n. 6. 71. T.1453: 498cl3; T.1458: 615a24. 72. T.1453: 498c21; T.1458: 615a24; T.2125: 218a3-8.

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  • 272 Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.2 (2008)

    As we have seen, both Daoxuan and Yijing held to a strict interpretation of the rules, though the latter allowed some deviation in extreme circumstances. Both also accepted the need to actualize the rules in a Chinese context. For Daoxuan, this meant introducing Mah?

    y?na moral concepts into the Hinay?na rules, an actualization rejected by Yijing. Yijing, on the other hand, advocated a reflective attitude toward vinaya rules by using the concept of liie jiao. This approach returned to the vinaya some of its flexibility and capacity to adapt to new situations, a feature that was lost when the full vinayas were "closed."


    M. Manji zokuz?ky? rH??M, 1st ed., Kyoto 1905-12; rpt. Taipei, 1968-70

    Sp Samantap?s?dik?, ed. J. Takakusu, M. Nagai, K. Mizuno. London: Pali Text Society T. Taish? Shinsh? Daiz?ky? ^lEfftf^ClKiE, ed. J. Takakusu, K. Watanabe. T?ky?, 1924-35 Vin Vinaya Pitakam, ed. H. Oldenberg. London: Pali Text Society

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