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SOTOZEN.COM > Archivio > Glossario (Inglese) > monk

Glossario (Inglese)


monk ( 僧, biku 比丘)

In China and most other countries where Buddhism has flourished, a Buddhist monk is a man who has (at least) shaved his head, donned monastic robes, and been ordained with the ten novice precepts (shami jikkai 沙彌十戒) established in the Indian Vinaya, which makes him a novice (shami 沙彌). A bhikṣu (biku 比丘) or full-fledged monk (daisō 大僧) is one who has, in addition, been ordained with the full precepts (gusokukai 具足戒) of the complete Prātimokσa. In Japan, however, from the Heian period (794-1185) on some men who shaved their heads and joined monastic orders began to be ordained using only bodhisattva precepts. In present day Soto Zen, monks are men who have undergone the ceremony of taking precepts (tokudo shiki sahō 得度式作法); the rite entails shaving the head, donning monastic robes, and receiving the bodhisattva precepts. In present day Rinzai Zen, monks are men who have taken the traditional ten novice precepts. Technically, therefore, there are no Japanese Zen bhikṣus (biku 比丘), but in certain ritual contexts that term is used for Zen monks (zensō 禪僧) nevertheless. Throughout most of the history the Zen schools of Buddhism in Japan, celibacy was the norm for Zen monks. However, in 1873 the new Meiji government reversed state policies concerning the Buddhist sangha that had in been in force during the preceding Edo period (1600-1868), and since that time monks belonging to the Zen schools have been allowed to marry. Most Zen monks today are the sons of Zen temple priests, an occupation that has become largely hereditary. In Japanese Zen today, monks comprise more than 99% of the total ordained clergy, which numbers about 25,000. →"sangha," "precepts," "nun."