[Buddha-l] Vinaya and mobile phones

Franz Metcalf franzmetcalf at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 6 16:03:27 MST 2007

Stefan et al.,

You speculated,

> I now have the impression
> that Vinaya rules are being given a modern interpretation which  
> would allow
> for such 'adaptations' or 'recontextualisation' - as some  
> postmodernist
> apologists love to call it. I suppose 'ancienité' plays an important  
> role
> here, too, meaning it has probably been a decision of senior monks to
> introduce this new understanding of the Vinaya. Maybe Charles  
> Prebish who's
> known to know the Vinayas thoroughly knows where this comes from,  
> but if
> someone else can trace this juridical relaxation, I'd love to hear it.

I'm away from my books and notes just now, but I recall that such  
interpretive flexibility was in place from the time of the very  
earliest Buddhist communities. Indeed, those communities were in fact  
constituted and separated by their interpretations of the Vinaya and  
the rules-before-they-were-called-the-Vinaya. Implicit in this  
situation is some kind of authority vested in Vinaya-dharas and simple  
collections of elder monks, authority to strike or add or modify  
rules. I recall reading, I think, four such sources of authority in a  
book recommended to me by Charles Prebish, who does indeed know about  
such things. I think the book was Misra's _The Age of Vinaya_. (Or was  
it Dutt's _Early Buddhist Monachism_?) Sorry to be so vague, but I  
imagine there are several others on this list who can be more helpful.

Good wishes,


More information about the buddha-l mailing list