What is the difference between a lay person leading the monastic community, compared to a monastic leading the monastic community? Master Zhen-Ru is female. When she interacts with the community of monks, is it difficult to uphold vinaya?

Response:

In 2017, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama responded to the topic "Can a lay person lead a monastic community?", he clearly stated that, "The Sakya Trizin is a lay person, who can still give teachings to both monastics and laity, but he will not attend on pratimoksa recitations and other monastic matters."

Within a monastic community, there are many affairs that can only be carried out by monastics: pratimoksa recitations, karmans, entering varsa, pravarana, ordination, etc. Laity cannot be involved with these matters. Master Zhen-Ru's teacher-student interaction is completely in abidance with vinaya. While guiding her students, she has never intervened with sanghakarmans.

Master Zhen-Ru interacts with the community of monks, instructing monastics on their practice. She strictly abides by Vinaya Master Dao-Xuan's Guidelines for Practicing Vinaya, which cites Sanghika-vinaya, for what behaviour is allowed and prohibited; as well as the fundamental explanation of vinaya in Sabuoduo Abhidharma from Tibetan Buddhism's Sarvastivada vinaya. Both Nanshan Vinaya of Chinese Buddhism and Sarvastivada vinaya of Tibetan Buddhism reach the same conclusion: "If there are walls and different entrances, then there is no transgression of vows." This means that within the same building, if there are walls, an independent space, as well as an independent entrance, then it is in abidance with vinaya. There is no trangression of precepts.

 

 

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