Thursday, November 05, 2009

Op-onions Make Your Eyes Water

Here's my opinion on the Bhikkhuni thing:

I think we should look at the options... breaking rules is not cool, ever. But there are ways of changing the rules I think, at least temporarily... the Buddha left the sangha in charge and, as I said, I don't see any reason for not putting it to a vote and making an exception.

Another option is to find a way to allow women to wear the robes and carry a bowl without becoming fully ordained... really, that part of it smacks of ego; we should anyone want "recognition"? Isn't that what we are trying to let go of? Equality is just another form of conceit... there is no such thing as equal, just as there is no such thing as self.

One complaint is that women have it tougher than men because of the lack of recognition. First, this is not true across the board, there are many situations where women actually wield more power and have it better off than the men, but, granted it is often true, it is not a reason to reinstate a false Bhikkhuni lineage, it is just a reason to stop discrimination.

To me, the only important difference between an eight-precept nun and a monk is the robes; I think it should be possible to allow eight-precept nuns to wear the robes as long as they made it clear they were not officially ordained, as that would be deception.

Mahapajapati herself wore monks robes before she was ordained, and in fact that is true in all cases - the applicant for monkhood has to be wearing robes already to ordain. So, just put the robes on and say you are waiting to be ordained. Then, take your bowl, go on alms, become enlightened. No need for schisms.


  1. tiennak10:08 PM

    So men have proper conditions to follow Theravada's spiritual path, why can't women? ...something isn't right surely. Its not good to just say Buddha left the Sangha in charge... how does that figure? Lord Buddha also managed to set up a bhikkuni sangha but cultures were not ready to continue this on and it died out, so its died out are we not to revive it? if you follow what Buddha taught, surely you must follow what he did for women? and as men have conditions to practice, give women the proper conditions to practice too. Or should we just sweep under the carpet the FACT that Buddha set up an Bhikkuni sangha-oh hang on.. that's been done already, time for a change.. and why not?... after all, should these so called 'monks' of WPP and others that follow their views not make it to nirvana and are re-born as women, they will be thanking the 'false' re-opening of the Bhikkunis linneage which would offer the necessary conditions in order for them to practice in the right conditions and become enlightened!!

  2. tiennak10:21 PM

    Also.. did Buddha actually leave the Sangha in charge? or did say, follow the rules of the precepts and abide by the rules of Vinaya.. therefore NOT leaving sangha in charge...

  3. Where exactly do you base your legal challenge to the bhikkhuni ordination? As I understand, their ordination is in line with the opinion of Mingun Jetawan Sayadaw's in the Milindapañha Aṭṭhakathā--with which points do you hold dispute?

  4. What legal challenge? I did not realize I am challenging it at all... though I personally do doubt the authenticity of the female Bhikkhuni lineage acting as preceptors, I'm really trying to avoid that issue entirely - considering the controversy surrounding it, I think that is a wise choice. There are other avenues that could be pursued in this matter, that's what I was trying to point out.

    I've never read the Milindapañha Aṭṭhakathā; does it say that ordaining bhikkhunis by monks alone is a valid ordination? or that bhikkhunis who were themselves ordained by monks alone or in a ceremony not following the pali formula are considered proper upajjhaya? You sound pretty sure that the bhikkhunis acting as precepters were proper bhikkhunis in the Theravada sense... I think that is up for some debate, but it is not the debate I am offering here.

  5. Here's a quote from Ven. Dhammanando (not the same as the Dhammananda he refers to). If anyone could be considered unbiased on the issue, it is him; I think he would welcome Bhikkhunis, but he is simply stating the facts in the case at hand. It helps that he is far more learned in such things than most people:

    Dhammanando wrote:""Dhammânandâ has omitted some details - vital details, for they have a bearing
    on why the Dharmaguptaka bhikkhunî lineage is considered dubious by vinayadharas
    in the Theravada tradition (and also, I believe by those in the Mulasarvastivada
    tradition of Tibet).

    The original transmission (or rather, alleged transmission) of the bhikkhunî
    ordination to China in fact took place in 357 CE. This alleged transmission was
    carried out by bhikkhus alone and was therefore INVALID by Theravadin criteria.
    It led, however, to a century-long tradition of Chinese bhikkhunî ordinations
    being given by bhikkhus alone. Moving forward to 433 CE, of the 300 women
    ordained in this year some had not done the two years' training as a sikkhamâna,
    while others had already been living as bhikkhunîs beforehand, having received
    ordination from the bhikkhu sangha alone. Therefore, by Theravadin criteria
    their ordinations failed on the grounds of "defect in the material to be
    ordained" (vatthu-vipatti). Those women who had never been sikkhamânas were
    ineligible to be ordained until they had fulfilled this preliminary training.
    Those women who had already been one-sidedly ordained were living in communion
    by theft and were therefore banned for life from receiving a genuine bhikkhunî
    ordination. Therefore Dharmaguptaka nuns are not bhikkhunîs by Theravadin
    criteria. Moreover, this judgment is not unique to the Theravada, for even
    within the Dharmaguptaka tradition the validity of Dharmaguptaka bhikkhunî
    ordinations has been challenged, notably by the Taiwanese Vinaya master Ven.
    Dao-hai. Dao-hai has argued that at several points in Chinese history the
    bhikkhunî paramparâ was irreparably broken (see his Discussion of
    Bhikshuni Ordination and its Lineage in China, Based on Scriptures of
    Chinese Vinaya and Historical facts, p. 18-19, Dharamsala 1998).

    To carry out formal transactions of the sangha in such an irregular manner is
    not a "loophole"; it is a violation of Vinaya and a defect that invalidates the

    Best wishes,
    Dhammanando Bhikkhu

  6. I interpreted your usage of "breaking rules" as a legal challenge. For the record, my citation of Mingun Jetawan Sayadaw’s Milindapañha Aṭṭhakathā relates to the qualifications of the preceptor at the Australian bhikkhuni ordination, not the actual ordination that took place. You should read it.

  7. ah, sorry... that's referring to someone's facebook comment - this post is just a copy from facebook. He said breaking rules was good if it meant women could ordain. I guess it depends how you look at it, but I don't think this problem exists, since the sangha has the power, afaics, to make a decision on this matter either way.

  8. So, get out of Thailand... you think it was easy for me there?

    It is not the number of precepts, it is the lifestyle one leads. If people tell you to do gardening, you refuse. If they kick you out, you leave. I left.

    The solution to this problem is not to reinstate a quasi-genuine makeshift solution that worked for India at the time of the Buddha; there certainly was not equality for the bhikkhunis under that system. But then, I think equality on a conventional level has always been out of reach for all people. We take what comes to us and try to make the best of it. Personally, I feel sorry for those monks that sit around doing nothing and get treated like kings. Did you never hear the story of the horses and the pig? Horses and pigs live different lives and get different ends.

  9. phalanyani11:52 AM

    Yes! I will.
    No, in contrary, i know how difficult it was for you and i witnessed how you were chased by a yelling monk with a broom, how black magic stuff was put on you, how you have been accused with lies by greedy jelouse monks, how they opend their hand to put money in, how they broke promises etc., etc. and i guess i only saw the top of the iceberg.
    Living alone in the forest was ok, only one misbehaving monk, easy to deal with. but it's not good for me to go back there.
    Presently i'm checking options where to go ... out of thailand.
    You are right, it's not the amount of precepts one keeps it IS the livestyle one leads.
    i actually don't need any precept at all, it's at heart and not in words. and i might be called 'idiot, mae chi, bhikkhuni' or however one pleases - if just i will have a suitable place to stay and support enough to study, practice and teach Dhamma and live the lifestyle that leads to freedom from suffering. I don't need to be called bhikkhuni, if i can live like a bhikkhuni, inclusive wearing the robes and having an almsbowl. Eventually that would not be a crime outside of thailand. Not sure.
    You have experienced that it's not easy to find a suitable place, in thailand and in the west. Don't know how successful you have been, lately. For an unknown, elderly, average, unsupported mae chi it's certainly not easier.
    But you eventually know that my faith in the Buddha and the Dhamma is stronger then hardships [so far].
    Little-nervouse-yelling-at-kitchennuns-lying-digging-money-touching-sneaking-through-the-womensection-at-night-with-flashlight-spying-in-womens-rooms-instruction-control-monk can be ignored friendliest, gardening can be refused until a solution is found.
    You're probabely right again by saying there was no equality at the Buddha's time for bhikkhunis, at that time as now it doesn't make sense to cling on to it. One has to go beyond that, male and female.
    Oh, and ... The horses / pigs story is very convincing. :o)
    Have a good day.

  10. albill6:26 AM

    Some of us feel that the time for the monastic lineages may have passed as they have become corrupted over the centuries. If we aren't going to follow the rules that the Buddha laid down, why pretend that we need to follow the rules for monastics?

    I'm with the Japanese and some Koreans in this and embrace the role of "priests" as householder practitioners. I'm not convinced that monasticism is going to survive in the West at all. There is almost no support for it and, after seeing how monasticism is actually practiced in many places, I don't see how support will develop.

  11. I think you are wrong about the support thing... there's lots of support for it, when it is practiced well. Look at,,, for examples in just one tradition. It seems to be thriving all over the world, really.

    I don't think the issue is monasticism, it is whether we need to recreate the traditional Bhikkhuni lineage in order to call women "monastics". It looks like it is a moot point now; more and more women are finding their ways to ordain as Bhikkhunis. I don't mind that at all, I just think it's a bit beside the point and probably going to cause all sorts of unnecessary trouble, as it already has.

  12. Sorry, my bad, it was oxen and pigs...

    Then envy not poor Muṇika; ’tis death
    He eats. Contented munch your frugal chaff,--
    The pledge and guarantee of length of days."

  13. albill1:25 AM

    If you have the choice of being a Bhiksu or a non-Bhiksu monastic, would you choose the latter? (Since you chose the former, I assume not.)

    As far as I know, people choose to become non-monastic clergy for primarily two reasons (either one or both):

    1) They are householders already (wife, children) and do not choose to abandon their family.

    2) Their Buddhist tradition no longer has monastics in the earliest sense (of those who follow the Vinaya) and they don't wish to ordain in another tradition.

    The latter covers almost all Japanese traditions of Buddhism and a number elsewhere.

    As to the support, I don't see it. I've known quite a few Tibetan Buddhists, for example, who wished to become monks. The monasteries here in the West are either full or require you to arrange your own support (patrons) to pay your bills before you come (or to have an existing bank account to pay the bills, probably violating the vinaya). Their only option was to go to Asia and I think a lot of people think that the idea of going to Asia to be a monastic does nothing to help people in the West and is simply selfish unless it is for a limited period to further training and knowledge of Buddhism.

  14. Of course I would choose official ordination, because becoming an official monk is the best way to fit in with the other official monks. If there were no official monks, I wouldn't see the point at all in ordaining officially.

    Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I gave you links to several Theravada centers that show the support is there. Some of them may be full, but that really isn't the argument you gave in the beginning, that there is no support for monasticism in the West. There certainly is, at least in the tradition I follow. I am taking two students to Thailand to ordain as a monk and a nun, not because there is no opportunity to ordain here, but because I would rather give the honour to my teacher in Thailand. I will bring them back here and they will help me to continue to show that there is indeed a great support and desire for continued monasticism in the West.

  15. albill2:34 AM

    I don't really consider a small handful of monasteries in a country of 300 million people to be actual support. The experience of those that I know who have been monastics (including my own teacher) validates this view. You are truly fortunate to have support but I do know people who have returned their vows because their choice was to break their vows or starve in the streets.

  16. albill2:35 AM

    I see all of my comments are now moderated. I'll take this as a message and discontinue conversations here.

  17. I would estimate there to be more than 200 Thai monasteries over all in the USA, many of them quite affluent and full of monastics. Then there are the Burmese, Laos, Khmer, Sri Lankan, and Mon monasteries that I have little information about. Let's say 500 monasteries all told, though that is just a wild guess. Then there are the Tibetan, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc., all of whom I have almost zero knowledge about, but all of whom share a similar monastic tradition in the West. And this is just in the USA.

    I would consider that a significant amount of support. There is no doubt in my mind, living the life as I am, that the problem is in no way the support for monastics, it is the lack of dedication by monastics themselves that leads to the eventual degradation of monasticism and disinterest by the lay people. If a monk gets to the point they have to starve on the streets, I would say that is their own fault for their inability to find the support that so clearly exists here. Perhaps you are just feeling left out as the one school that seems to have given up on full dedication to the dharma?

  18. PuritySweetwater3:32 AM

    If an ordained person doesn't have enough support to live, then I think that the problem is the ordained person. If the person becomes ordained and they really help people the way that Noah helps others, they will always have support. But if a monastic just ordains and doesn't do anything to benefit others, doesn't practice meditation, and doesn't practice giving selflessly, people will not want to support them. I do not believe in the quote lay-sangha unquote that westerners promote. I think it is an excuse to continue clinging to attachment to sex and money and other things that they can't let go of. It is hard for westerners to become ordained, but in the beginning it is always hard, and you have to decide whether you are a man or a mouse. If a person gives up and returns to lay-life when things get difficult then you won't be much of a teacher of gods and humans.