Friday, November 20, 2009

Plan B (Is For Bhikkhuni)

I really don't have enough time to do justice to this topic, and probably should have known better than to stick my nose into it so close to a trip abroad, but hopefully I can just close up here with a few points that I've come up with, maybe right, maybe wrong.

First, some points in background:

  1. I am not "decidedly against" Bhikkhuni ordination.  On the contrary, I would be wholly  in support of it, if it can be found to be free from absolute contravention of the vinaya.

  2. My own thoughts, and indeed my weblog on which they appear, should in no way be taken as authoritative, nor should it be seen that I am trying to make a statement.  This is a LOG of my thoughts on the WEB.  Nothing more, nothing less.  If you find them interesting, I'm glad, that is part of the purpose.  If you don't, there are many other weblogs you could be reading with much more accommodating responses to these sorts of issues.

  3. My position all along, and on most topics, is to be cautious.  I personally am not going to be bullied into accepting anything on unsolid ground, no matter how appealing it may be.  And believe me, I find Bhikkhuni ordination rather appealing.


Now on to what I see (and most likely this will change) to be the potential arguments for and against Bhikkhuni ordination:

  1. Arguments on respect, equality, legitimacy, etc. still fall on deaf ears here... just because something is desirable for certain reasons doesn't make it right.  I think I've been clear all along that I think women should have the same right to practice Buddhism as men, I just happen to believe that Bhikkhuni ordination is not as big part of that as others do.  The problem is there may be very good reasons to deny Bhikkhuni ordination - I am starting to think there are not, but if there are, we should consider them carefully, not just push them aside in favour of modern ethical values.  Equality is the least useful here, as it leads to the sort of "even-steven" bickering of children.  It is conceit.

  2. The only real barrier I can see is that the bhikkhu-only ordination of bhikkhunis was superseded by the dual ordination.  As I have said elsewhere, if such a mono-ordination is invalid, the Bhikkhuni preceptors who have conducted the dual-ordination are illegitimate, because they too trace their lineage back to mono-ordinations in China.  If it is valid, then there is no need for the Bhikkhunis from China at all, and they become merely a choice vs. a new mono-ordination (the latter of which I would favour, I think...)

    The argument goes that the mono-ordination was never disallowed.  This I find problematic.  I have to go over the vinaya again and I have no time now to go through the pali, so it'll have to wait for January.  It is pretty clear that when the Buddha allowed the dual-ordination, the mono-ordination was considered defunct.  I think something pretty official will need to be done to make it clear that we are returning back to a mono-ordination if we choose that route, or else a ratification by the sangha of the decision way back when in China to do the same.  Of course, the latter has its problems associated with whether we accept the Chinese Bhikkhunis at all, but this seems less of an issue.

  3. Ultimately, it looks to me as if everything is alright.  Sure, maybe accepting the Chinese mono-ordination lineage is controversial, but it doesn't look like a blatant disregard for the vinaya.  Perhaps that is the best course, as Ven Brahmavamso has chosen; surely this is a nod to the fact that a mono-ordination is more of a last-resort than a valid everyday course of action; otherwise one would think a mono-ordination within the strict Theravada tradition would be preferable, as the Mingun Jetavan Sayadaw apparently endorsed.


Okay, that's all for now.  If you want to jump on the bandwagon and support the ordinations, go for it.  I'll catch up later.  We monks prefer to walk.