Upāsaka and Upāsikā

Upāsaka (masculine) or Upāsikā (feminine) are from the Sanskrit and Pāli words for "attendant".[1] This is the title of followers of Buddhism (or, historically, of Gautama Buddha) who are not monks, nuns, or novice monastics in a Buddhist order, and who undertake certain vows.[2] In modern times they have a connotation of dedicated piety that is best suggested by terms such as "lay devotee" or "devout lay follower".[3]

Upasaka
The word Upāsaka (Brahmi script), used by Ashoka in his Minor Rock Edict No.1 to describe his affiliation to Buddhism (circa 258 BCE).

Precepts

The five vows to be held by upāsakas are referred to as the "Five Precepts" (Pāli: pañcasīla):

  1. I will not take the life of a sentient being;
  2. I will not take what has not been given to me;
  3. I will refrain from sexual misconduct;
  4. I will refrain from false speech;
  5. I will refrain from becoming intoxicated.

In the Theravada tradition, on Uposatha days, devout lay practitioners may request the "Eight Precepts" from monastics (Pali: uposathaṃ samādiyati).[4] It was a widespread practice in China as well,[5] and is still practiced.[6]

The eight precepts is a list of precepts that are observed by lay devotees on observance days and festivals.[5] They include general precepts such as refraining from killing, but also more specific ones, such as abstaining from cosmetics.[7] The precepts were probably based on pre-Buddhist brahmanical practices.[8] Since the eight precepts are often upheld on the Buddhist uposatha days, they are called the uposatha vows[9] or one-day precepts in such context.[10] They are considered to support meditation practice,[11] and are often observed when staying in monasteries and temples.[12]In some periods and places, such as in 7th–10th-century China, the precepts were widely observed.[13] In modern times, there have been revival movements and important political figures that have observed them continuously.[14][15][16]

Initiation ceremonies

Theravada traditions

In traditional Theravada communities, a non-Buddhist becomes a Buddhist lay disciple by repeating the ancient formulas for the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts in response to the formal administrations of a monk[17] or by himself in himself or in front of a stupa or an image of the Buddha.[18][19][20][21][22] Newborns of Buddhist parents are traditionally initiated by being brought on their first outing to a temple on a full-moon or festival day where they are presented to the Triple Gem.

Mahayana/Vajrayana traditions

In both the Chinese Ch'an and Japanese Zen traditions, a ceremony of taking refuge in the Triple Gem as well as the receiving of the precepts (受戒 Hanyu Pinyin: shòujiè; Japanese: jukai) is a type of lay ordination.

The ordination procedures for receiving precepts in the Chinese tradition are laid out in the fourteenth chapter of the Sutra on Upasaka Precepts (優婆塞戒經受戒品第十四).[23][24]

The disciple hoping to receive the precepts first pays respects to the six directions, which represent their parents, teacher, husband or wife, friends, religious master and employees (traditionally servants). Honoring the six directions is a "means fulfilling one's reciprocal responsibilities in each of these relationships".[25]

A person who has honored these relationships and paid his respects to the six directions must then receive permission from his parents to accept the precepts. If they agree, he informs his spouse and those under his employment. The disciple should then get permission from his king, though for obvious reasons this last procedure is no longer widely observed.

The disciple, having paid his respects to the six directions and having the relevant permissions, may now ask a monastic to help him receive the precepts. (In modern times, these ceremonies are normally held on a regular basis at temples and presided over by the temple master or his deputy, and one would not ask a random monk or nun to perform the ceremony.)

The monastic and disciple then engage in a dialog, with the monastic asking questions and the disciple answering. The monastic asks the disciple if he has paid respects to the six directions and if he has the relevant permissions. The monk will ask a series of questions that ensure the practitioner has not committed grave offenses and is both physically and mentally fit to receive the precepts.

The monastic explains the benefits of the precepts as well as the negative consequences of breaking them, and asks if the disciple is prepared to accept them and remain dedicated to the Triple Gem. Next, the monastic asks the disciple if to follow additional habits to prevent breaking the precepts, to discourage others from breaking them, and to avoid excessive attachment to the five skandhas. If the practitioner is prepared, the monk asks the disciple to practice all the advice for six months while remaining under the monk's regular observation.

If, after six months, the disciple has upheld the precepts well, he may ask the monastic for formal taking of the precepts. The disciple will then take refuge in the Triple Gem, and the monastic will then ensure the disciple is prepared to take on all (as opposed to only some) of the precepts. If the disciple commits to accepting all the precepts, and recites them with the monk, then he has finished his lay ordination.

The chapter closes with a description of consequences of breaking the precepts and the obligations that one must take on after receiving the precepts.

Ceremonial dress

Traditionally, in India, upāsakas wore white robes, representing a level of renunciation between lay people and monastics. For this reason, some traditional texts make reference to "white-robed lay people" (avadāta-vassana).[26] This practice can still be found in contemporary Theravadin temples, especially during the occasion when a non-Buddhist converts to Buddhism or when one is observing the Eight Precepts on an uposatha day.[27]

In the Chinese tradition, both upāsakas and upāsikās are permitted to wear robes for temple ceremonies and retreats, as well as home practice. Upāsakas and upāsikās wear long sleeved black robes called haiqing (海青), symbolic of their refuge in the Triple Jewel. A brown kasaya called a manyi (缦衣) worn outside the black robes is symbolic of their upholding of the precepts. Unlike monastics, they are not permitted to regularly wear robes outside functions other than temple activities or Buddhist disciplines.

Some Japanese laity can also be seen wearing a rakusu, a short cloth worn around the neck of Zen Buddhist laity. Another form is the wagesa, a short surplice in the form of a strip of brocade fabric worn around the neck, with the temple mon emblazoned on it. It also acts as a simplified type of kasaya.

Famous lay followers

In the Vajrayana tradition, a well known Upasaka is Upasaka Dharmatala who serves as the attendant of the 16 arhats. He is seen to be an emanation of Avalokitesvara.

From the Buddhist scriptures

In the Pali Canon's Jivaka Sutta,[28] the Buddha is asked, "Lord, to what extent is one a lay follower (upāsako)?"[29] The Buddha replies that one takes refuge in the Triple Gem.[30] Asked how one is a "virtuous lay follower" (upāsako sīlavā), the Buddha replies that one undertakes the Five Precepts. Asked how one practices being a lay follower "both for his own benefit & the benefit of others," the Buddha states that one is consummate oneself in and encourages others in the consummation of: conviction (saddhā); virtue (sīla); generosity (cāga); visiting monks; and, hearing, remembering, analyzing, understanding and practicing the Dhamma.[31]

See also

  • Householder (Buddhism)
  • Ngagpa - non-monastic Tibetan Buddhism practitioners
  • Sravaka - Buddhist "disciple" (includes both monastic and lay followers)
  • Anagarika- a title which describes a midway status between a monk and a layperson

Notes

  1. ^ Nattier (2003), p. 25, states that the etymology of upāsikā suggests "those who serve" and that the word is best understood as "'lay auxiliary' of the monastic community".
  2. ^ Nattier (2003), p. 25, notes: "...[T]he term upāsaka (fem. upāsikā) ... is now increasingly recognized to be not a generic term for supporters of the Buddhist community who happen not to be monks or nuns, but a very precise category designating those lay adherents who have taken on specific vows. ...[T]hese dedicated lay Buddhists did not constitute a free-standing community, but were rather adjunct members of particular monastic organizations."
  3. ^ Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 150, entry for "Upāsaka," available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.0:1:3992.pali; and, Encyclopædia Britannica (2007), entry for "upasaka," available at http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9074383/upasaka. Also, see Nattier (2003), p. 25, quoted at length above, for recent scholarship on the Pali term's historical usage.
  4. ^ Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), pp. 150-1, entry for "Uposatha," available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.0:1:4011.pali; also see: Harvey (1990), p. 192; and Kariyawasam (1995), chapter 3, "Poya Days," available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/kariyawasam/wheel402.html#ch3.
  5. ^ a b Buswell & Lopez 2013, Baguan zhai.
  6. ^ Harvey 2000, p. 88.
  7. ^ Keown 2004, p. 22.
  8. ^ Tachibana 1992, p. 65.
  9. ^ Keown 2004, Uposatha.
  10. ^ Buswell & Lopez 2013, Upavāsa.
  11. ^ Harvey 2000, p. 87.
  12. ^ "Religions Buddhism: Theravada Buddhism". BBC. 2 October 2002. Archived from the original on 30 November 2018.
  13. ^ Watson 1988, p. 13.
  14. ^ Harvey 2013, pp. 378–9.
  15. ^ Keyes 1989, pp. 319–20.
  16. ^ Fuengfusakul 1993, p. 157.
  17. ^ Kariyawasam (1995), chapter 1, "Initiation and Worship," available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/kariyawasam/wheel402.html#ch1.
  18. ^ Phra Khantipalo,Going for Refuge http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/khantipalo/goingrefuge.html
  19. ^ The Light of Buddha, U Sein Nyo Tun, Vol. III, No. 10, 1958 https://web.archive.org/web/20120706235311/http://www.thisismyanmar.com/nibbana/snyotun3.htm
  20. ^ From 'The Teachings of the Buddha', the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Yangon, 1997 http://www.thisismyanmar.com/nibbana/precept2.htm Archived 2011-01-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Buddhist studies, secondary level, becoming a buddhist http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/bs-s17.htm
  22. ^ Blooming in the Desert: Favorite Teachings of the Wildflower Monk, p. 63, at Google Books
  23. ^ "Taisho Tripitaka Vol. 24, No. 1488". Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  24. ^ Shih, Heng-ching (1994). The Sutra on Upāsaka Precepts (PDF). Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 0962561851.
  25. ^ "Buddhist Studies (Secondary) Family and Society". www.buddhanet.net.
  26. ^ Nattier (2003), p. 25 n. 32. Relatedly, in the para-canonical Milindapanha (Miln. VI, 4), King Milinda refers to "a layman — clad in white, enjoying sense pleasures, dwelling as master in a house crowded with wife and children..." (Mendis, p. 112).
  27. ^ Regarding the wearing of white clothes on uposatha days, see, for instance, Kariyawasam (1995), chapter 3, "Poya Days," available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/kariyawasam/wheel402.html#ch3.
  28. ^ In this article, regarding the Jivaka Sutta (AN 8.26), English translations are from Thanissaro (1997) while the Pali is from SLTP (undated), 8.1.3.6.
  29. ^ Thanissaro (1997). The Pali is: Kittāvatā nu kho bhante, upāsako hotīti (SLTP 8.1.3.1, undated).
  30. ^ The Pali is: Yato kho jīvaka, buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gato hoti, dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gato hoti, saṇghaṃ saraṇaṃ gato hoti, ettāvatā kho jīvaka, upāsako hotīti (SLTP 8.1.3.1, undated).
  31. ^ Thanissaro (1997). SLTP (undated).

Bibliography

External links

Abhidharmadīpa

The Abhidharmadīpa or Lamp of Abhidharma is an Abhidharma text thought to have been authored by Vasumitra as a response to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikā.

The text consists of verse and prose commentary. It currently survives as an incomplete collection of Sanskrit fragments. However, the text is valuable insofar as it confirms the identity of Vasubandhu as author of the Abhidharmakośakārikā.

Ajahn

Ajahn (Thai: อาจารย์, RTGS: achan, IPA: [ʔāː.tɕāːn], also romanized ajaan, aajaan, ajarn, ajahn, acharn and achaan) is a Thai language term which translates as "professor" or "teacher." It is derived from the Pali word ācariya, and is a term of respect, similar in meaning to the Japanese sensei, and is used as a title of address for high-school and university teachers, and for Buddhist monks who have passed ten vassa. The term "ajahn" is customarily used to address forest tradition monks and the term Luang Por, "Venerable father" is customarily used to address city tradition monks in Thai Buddhism.

Anagarika

In Buddhism, an anagārika (Pali, 'homeless one', [əˈnəɡɑːrɪkə]; f. anagārikā [əˈnəɡɑːrɪkɑː]) is a person who has given up most or all of their worldly possessions and responsibilities to commit full-time to Buddhist practice. It is a midway status between a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni (fully ordained monastics) and laypersons. An anagārika takes the Eight Precepts, and might remain in this state for life.

Anagārikas usually wear white clothes or robes, depending on the tradition they follow. Some traditions have special ordination ceremonies for anagārikas, while others simply take the eight precepts with a special intention.

Given the lack of full ordination for women in modern Theravada Buddhism, women who wish to renounce live as anagārikās under names such as maechi in Thailand, thilashin in Myanmar, and dasa sil mata in Sri Lanka. In Vajrayana Buddhism, many nuns are technically anagārikās or śrāmaṇerikās (novitiates).

Anāgāmi

In Buddhism, an anāgāmi (Sanskrit and Pāli for "non-returning") is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anāgāmis are the third of the four aspirants.

Anagamis are not reborn into the human world after death, but into the heaven of the Pure Abodes, where only anāgāmis live. There they attain full enlightenment (arahantship).

The Pali terms for the specific chains or fetters (Pali: saṃyojana) of which an anāgāmi is free are:

Sakkāya-diṭṭhi: Belief in atmān or self

Sīlabbata-parāmāsa: Attachment to rites and rituals

Vicikicchā: Skeptical doubt

Kāma-rāga: Sensuous craving

Byāpāda: ill willThe fetters from which an anāgāmi is not yet free are:

Rūparāga: Craving for fine-material existence (the first 4 jhanas)

Arūparāga: Craving for immaterial existence (the last 4 jhanas)

Māna: Conceit

Uddhacca: Restlessness

Avijjā: IgnoranceKāmarāga and Byāpāda, which they are free from, can also be interpreted as craving for becoming and non-becoming, respectively.

Anāgāmis are at an intermediate stage between sakadagamis and arahants. Arahants enjoy complete freedom from the ten fetters. An anāgāmi's mind is very pure.

Bhikkhu

A bhikkhu (Pali; Sanskrit: bhikṣu) is an ordained male monastic ("monk") in Buddhism. Male and female monastics ("nun", bhikkhuni, Sanskrit bhikṣuṇī) are members of the Buddhist community.The lives of all Buddhist monastics are governed by a set of rules called the prātimokṣa or pātimokkha. Their lifestyles are shaped to support their spiritual practice: to live a simple and meditative life and attain nirvana.A person under the age of 20 cannot be ordained as a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni but can be ordained as a śrāmaṇera or śrāmaṇērī.

Buddhism in Venezuela

Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people (roughly 0.2% of the population). The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.

Most identify with the Mahayana tradition, reflecting the religious heritage of their emigrant countries.

However, in the mid-1990s Keun-Tshen Goba (né Ezequiel Hernandez Urdaneta), together with Jigme Rinzen, founded a meditation center using the Shambhala Training method.

There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia.

Dasa sil mata

A dasa sil mata is an Eight- or Ten Precepts-holding anagārikā (lay renunciant) in Buddhism in Sri Lanka, where the newly reestablished bhikkhuni (nun's) lineage is not officially recognized yet.

The status of dasa sil matas is in between an ordinary upāsikā (laywoman) and a fully ordained bhikkhuni. They are usually expected to work in viharas, essentially as maids to ordained bhikkhus, rather than receiving training and the opportunity to practice. However, some dasa sil matas have struggled and managed to establish monasteries of their own, where women have the opportunity devote themselves to spiritual training and practice.

In Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, they have established monasteries for anagārikās. Similar orders exist in Thailand, Cambodia and in Myanmar.

In Thailand, where it is illegal for a woman to take a bhikkhuni ordination, they are called maechi. In Cambodia, they are called donchees. In Burma, an eight precept nun is addressed as thilashin or sayalay, whereas a fully ordained woman is called a rahan-ma ("female monk"). Sri Lanka's dasa sil matas are recognized by their shaven heads and yellow robes.

Dharma talk

A Dharma talk (Sanskrit) or Dhamma talk (Pali) or Dharma sermon (Japanese: 法語 (ほうご, Hōgo), Chinese: 法語) is a public discourse on Buddhism by a Buddhist teacher.In some Zen traditions a Dharma talk may be referred to as a teisho (提唱). However, according to Taizan Maezumi and Bernard Glassman, a teisho is "a formal commentary by a Zen master on a koan or Zen text. In its strictest sense, teisho is non-dualistic and is thus distinguished from a Dharma talk, which is a lecture on a Buddhist topic." In this sense, a teisho is thus a formal Dharma talk. Vietnamese master Thich Nhat Hanh says the following about Dharma talks:

A Dharma talk must always be appropriate in two ways: it must accord perfectly with the spirit of the Dharma and it must also respond perfectly to the situation in which it is given. If it only corresponds perfectly with the teachings but does not meet the needs of the listeners, it's not a good Dharma talk; it's not appropriate.

Koliya

The Koliyas were Kshatriya of the Adicca (Iksvaku) clan of the Solar Dynasty from the Indian subcontinent, during the time of Gautama Buddha.The family members of the two royal families, that is the Koliyas and Sakyas married only among themselves. Both clans were very proud of the purity of their royal blood and had practised this tradition of inter-marriage since ancient times. For example, Suddhodana's paternal aunt was married to the Koliyan ruler Añjana. Their daughters, Mahamaya and Mahapajapati Gotami, were married to Śuddhodana, the chief of the Sakyans. Similarly, Yashodhara, daughter of Suppabuddha, who was Añjana’s son, was married to the Sakyan prince, Gautama Buddha. Thus, the two royal families were related by marriage bonds between maternal and paternal cousins since ancient times. In spite of such close blood-ties, there would be occasional rifts between the two royal families, which sometimes turned into open hostility.

Kuri (kitchen)

A kuri (庫裏, lit. warehouse behind) or kuin (庫院, lit. warehouse hall) is the kitchen of a Zen monastery, typically located behind the butsuden (or, Buddha Hall). Historically the kuri was a kitchen which prepared meals only for the abbot and his guests, though in modern Japan it now functions as the kitchen and administrative office for the entire monastery.

List of Buddhas

This is a list of historical, contemporary, and legendary figures which at least one school of Buddhism considers to be a Buddha and which have an article on Wikipedia:

Acala

Adi-Buddha

Akshobhya

Amitābha, principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism

Amoghasiddhi

Bhaisajyaguru

Budai

Dīpankara Buddha

Five Tathagatas

Gautama Buddha

Kakusandha

Kassapa Buddha

Koṇāgamana Buddha

Lokesvararaja

Nairatmya

Nichiren Daishonin, Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law (Nikko Lineage)

Padumuttara Buddha

Padmasambhava

Ratnasambhava

Satyanama

Sumedha Buddha

Tara

Tonpa Shenrab

Vairocana, embodiment of the Dharmakaya

Vajradhara

Vajrayogini

Yeshe Tsogyal

List of suttas

Suttas from the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon.

List of Digha Nikaya suttas

List of Majjhima Nikaya suttas

List of Samyutta Nikaya suttas

List of Anguttara Nikaya suttas

List of Khuddaka Nikaya suttas

Pratimokṣa

The Pratimokṣa (Sanskrit prātimokṣa) is a list of rules (contained within the vinaya) governing the behaviour of Buddhist monastics (monks or bhikṣus and nuns or bhikṣuṇīs). Prati means "towards" and mokṣa means "liberation" from cyclic existence (saṃsāra).

It became customary to recite these rules once a fortnight at a meeting of the sangha during which confession would traditionally take place. A number of prātimokṣa codes are extant, including those contained in the Theravāda, Mahāsāṃghika, Mahīśāsaka, Dharmaguptaka, Sarvāstivāda and Mūlasarvāstivāda vinayas. Pratimokṣa texts may also circulate in separate pratimokṣa sūtras, which are extracts from their respective vinayas.

Rinpoche

Rinpoche, also spelled Rimboche and Rinboku (Tibetan: རིན་པོ་ཆེ་, Wylie: rin po che, THL: Rinpoché, ZYPY: Rinboqê), is an honorific term used in the Tibetan language. It literally means "precious one", and may be used to refer to a person, place, or thing--like the words "gem" or "jewel" (Sanskrit Ratna).

The word consists of rin(value) and po(nominative suffix) and chen(big).

The word is used in the context of Tibetan Buddhism as a way of showing respect when addressing those recognized as reincarnated, older, respected, notable, learned and/or an accomplished Lamas or teachers of the Dharma. It is also used as an honorific for abbots of monasteries.

Sakadagami

In Buddhism, the Sakadāgāmin (Pali; Sanskrit: Sakṛdāgāmin), "returning once" or "once-returner," is a partially enlightened person, who has cut off the first three chains with which the ordinary mind is bound, and significantly weakened the fourth and fifth. Sakadagaminship is the second stage of the four stages of enlightenment.

The Sakadagamin will be reborn into the realm of the senses at most once more. If, however, he attains the next stage of enlightenment (Anagamiship) in this life, he will not come back to this world.

The three specific chains or fetters (Pali: saṃyojana) of which the Sakadagamin is free are:

1. Sakkāya-diṭṭhi (Pali) - Belief in self

2. Sīlabbata-parāmāsa (Pali) - Attachment to rites and rituals

3. Vicikicchā (Pali) - Skeptical doubtThe Sakadagami also significantly weakened the chains of:

4. Kāma-rāga (Pali) - Sensuous craving

5. Byāpāda (Pali) - Ill-will

Thus, the Sakadagamin is an intermediate stage between the Sotapanna, who still has comparatively strong sensuous desire and ill-will, and the Anagami, who is completely free from sensuous desire and ill-will. A Sakadagami's mind is very pure. Thoughts connected with greed, hatred and delusion do not arise often, and when they do, do not become obsessive.

Samanera

A sāmaṇera (Pali); Sanskrit śrāmaṇera, is a novice male monastic in a Buddhist context. A female novice is a śrāmaṇerī or śrāmaṇerikā (Sanskrit; Pāli: sāmaṇerī).

Uppalavanna

Uppalavannā (Chinese: 蓮華色比丘尼 or 優缽華色比丘尼) was considered to be one of the two chief female disciples of the Buddha, the other being Khema.

She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant and was known for her great beauty. Her name means "one with the hue of the blue lotus".

Vietnamese clothing

Vietnamese clothing refers to the traditional clothes worn in Vietnam. During the Nguyễn dynasty, the Vietnamese were forced to wear Chinese style clothing. But now from the twentieth century onward Vietnamese people wear clothing that is popular internationally.

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