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Why are Japanese monks allowed to have wives?


※この記事は、「肉食と妻帯は、日本のお坊さんになぜ許されるのか」(https://fukushibukkyo.com/johokyoku/5073.html )を英訳したものです。

 Some people may think that to become a monk there are strict rules such as not drinking alcohol, eating meat, or getting married.
However, there are very few monks in Japan who lead such a strict life.
In this article, I will introduce the precepts of monks.

 Originally, Buddhism had various precepts.
There were 250 precepts for men and 348 for women to be observed by training monks, and they were required to live by them.

 Among the 5 basic precepts to be observed ordinary Buddhist, there is abstinence for alcohol.
In the past, drinking was prohibited even for believers.

 Also, as there are still temples where Buddhist vegetarian food is served, eating meat has been taboo in Buddhism.
This is because one of the 5 precepts mentioned above is the prohibition against killing.

 Finally, there is the issue of marriage.
Monks must renounce all their own desires when training Buddhism.
 In particular, Sexual desire, is one of the 3 major desires, along with appetite and desire to sleep, and is a very strong desire.
For this reason, monks of both sexes were forbidden to have contact with each other.
This is why there was some sanctum where women are forbidden.
Because of these strict restrictions, it was not permissible for monks to marry.

 However, in 1872, the Japanese government issued a proclamation stating that “monks are free to eat meat, marry, and choose their own hairstyle.”
Since then, eating meat and marriage became widespread among Japanese monks publicly.

 Incidentally, Shinran shonin, founder of Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism, has been openly married and eaten meat.
He wanted to make it clear that “all people, whether they eat meat or get married, are equally saved by Amitabha”.
For this reason, Jodo Shinshu does not have the aforementioned precepts.

 Compared to Mahayana Buddhism that spread to Japan, Theravada Buddhism, which spread to Southeast Asia, still observes numerous strict precepts in many areas.
 It is difficult for non-Buddhist to follow all 250-plus precepts, but a good place to start is by establishing one precept for yourself to live by.


Buddhist vegetarian food=精進料理
Mahayana Buddhism=大乗仏教
Theravada Buddhism=上座部仏教



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