News

Bhikkhuni ordination remains in the news, with front page articles in the leading Thai papers Thai Rath and Matichon.

A tabloid-style blog from the Wat Thai Las Vegas (!) has published a scathing condemnation of Ajahn Brahm, calling him a ‘fool’ (moghapurisa) in the headline. This website has some pretty lurid stuff; the current leading article screams: “Monk Kills Monk!”, with a big picture of a gun and bullets.

There has been some discussion about the content of these articles. I’m not sure that they add anything new, as it’s hard to say what truth has survived the tabloid treatment. But there is the impression that the Walters are continuing their efforts, and some say the Walters believe the existing expulsion is not enough and are seeking to have Ajahn Brahm emoved as abbot of Bodhinyana. Others say there has been an explicit ban on performing sanghakamma, or Thai monks visiting Bodhinyana. I’m taking all this with a grain of salt for now; I’ve heard very different things from other, more reliable, channels. The official website of the Mahatherasamakhom simply acknowledges that Bodhinyana has been expelled from Wat Pa Pong (see point 34 on this page). It does not mention Ajahn Brahm or bhikkhunis

There is a supportive opinion piece by an influential columnist in the Thai Rath.

Sanitsuda Ekachai, having stimulated a vibrant exchange with a previous article, has written another breathtakingly honest and clear-sighted article for the Bangkok Post.

Australian media is belatedly catching up, with an article in the West Australian. Notice the delightfully relevant stock photo of Bodhinyana monks with a fire truck!

Meanwhile, for more background information and reflections from a reformist monk in Thailand, see Phra Paisarn’s English articles.

23 thoughts on “News

  1. Dear Bhante

    Perhaps I’m late or I’ve missed seeing this posted earlier, but here’s a lovely blog from Ayya Tathaaloka on the fiction of the lost Bhikkhuni Sangha in Siam/Thailand -

    http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=166217307&blogId=340063946

    I wonder if the projection problems you highlighted earlier might also be applied to the projections imposed by a State-regulated Sangha on laity? Wasn’t there some post-canonical murmurings about excessive state control being a cause in the decline of the Sassana? Well, it seems to be borne out in Thailand, when the laity are disenfranchised from being a useful member of the 4-fold parissa, and is reduced to being nothing more than a gravy train. If those rumours about the Walters are true, I hope the BSWA will pass a resolution in the strongest possible terms that the Walters stay out of Bodhinyana business, or risk having a patisaraniyakamma being initiated.

  2. Dear Bhante & fellow commentators,

    I couldn’t help but be amused at the unintended irony behind the photo posted on the West Australian newspaper’s website, of an unnamed senior monk in front (this is not Ajahn Brahm, who was on a 6 month retreat when this photo was taken in early 2002), who has been at the forefront of the Walter brigade. Thanks to the West staff for being so incompetent.

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/6613624/wa-buddhists-expelled-over-women/

  3. Dear all,

    For your information, some of the contents of the reports in Thai Rath and Mathichon are not accurate. They still said (like what WPP monks claimed at the beginning) that Ajahn Brahm was the Kammavajajariya and Ajahn Sujato was the Anusavanacariya. I wonder who fed the newspapers this information!

    I’m one of the people who speculate that some monks do not stop being unkind to Ajahn Brahm and Bodhiyana Monastery, out of personal issues not because of different opinions on vinaya.

    Having said that, I think it’s best to practice ‘Metta to all beings’ like what Ajahn Brahm repeatedly teaches us.

    Yours in dhamma,

    Dheerayupa

    • Yes I have been wondering this too… I wouldn’t like to be the people who are holding personal grudges and using this situation to their own ends…I wouldn’t want THAT kamma on my head… I suppose the only way for such people to heal and let go of such kamma is to come clean and seek forgiveness but perhaps they don’t know themselves or the people whom they have made their opponents, very well. I don’t think they know the community in WA very well at all, especially considering that (I think) at least one of them lived here amongst us, was supported, loved, respected and admired by us and did alot for us that we are still most grateful for. Talk about a ‘slap in the face’! Did they think that in expelling Bodhinyana and Ajahn Brahm that they would not touch the lay people here? But you know what, a lot of the BSWA members and friends have simply accepted the situation and its just business as usual bless their Triple Gem loving hearts; most of them are not found on blogs and until all this happened I didn’t really know what a blog was! Those of us who’ve stayed in touch with this business are stunned and speaking for myself, the sense of betrayal was pretty massive when the news came through about exactly who was involved on the ‘other’ side. I hope a day will come when we will all be friends again and will be able to be in the same room with other and smile and be supportive of each other.

  4. Dear all in the Dhamma,

    It is sad to see the beginning of “war” and “washing dirty linen in the public” within the Sangha & lay buddhists.

    There are nowadays many “bogus monks/nuns” in this modern world.

    1.Those that solicit for money in the street;
    2.Those that sell amulets for money in the street;
    3.Those that talk own “dhamma” in the name of the Buddha’s dhamma
    for fund-raising.
    4.Those that made themselves an idol for fame, power & fund raising;
    5.Those that claim having psychic power to gain many followers & donations.

    The lay people are the victims and are being manipulated by these bogus monks/nuns.

    Lord Buddha’s true disciple monks/nuns are those that propagate the true Dhamma, by sincerely teaching the Suttas, Scriptures, Discourses, Nikayas,Vinaya and Pali Language, And those that teach Buddha’s Method of Meditation, so that the Buddha’s True Dhamma will not fade away.

    Looks like, Buddhism is the most disorganized religion in the world.
    It seemed (imo), the most organized religion is ISLAM & HINDUISM.
    These two religions had never deviated from their original teachings or faiths.

    Islam have their Quran, Christian have their Bible, Hindu have their Scriptures.

    Buddhism have the Tripitaka but how many Buddhists know about the Tripitaka, many are not even aware of the Suttas & Nikayas (i have been a Buddhist for 20 years but only recently i know about the existence of Tripitaka).Many Buddhists don’t even know the Dhammapada and how many lay buddhist know the Pali language? These are the things that the Sangha should teach us lay buddhists, if they want to teach the Dhamma.

    The Islam know their Quran & verses so well even small children could recite, Christians could even quote verses in the Bible. The other observation is, the Islams all over the world recite the same Quran likewise with the Christians on the Bible. Lay Buddhists were not taught on the Buddhist scriptures. Buddhist boast so much about their religion but many of us do not even know what is Nikaya,what is Tripitaka.

    Recently bump into the website dhammalight.com (click on Library)and saw all the Buddha’s scriptures. Why is the Sangha hiding all these scriptures & holy sayings of the Buddha from the lay buddhists by not teaching us directly from them but instead preach according to their experience & understanding.The Sangha should also teach Pali language (for those who like to teach) so that Buddha’s original teaching will perpetuate. We need to protect the Buddha’s Dhamma (all the Suttas/Nikayas/Vinayas in its original Pali, otherwise very soon external forces would over-ride it).

    There are so many books on Buddhism but all translated and modified (lay buddhist would not know whether this is Buddha’s original teachings or not unless we have the Buddha’s scriptures as cross reference, otherwise we could be conned by some of these bogus monks/nuns and remained deluded)!

    The favourite thing that the Sangha taught, is to give Dana with very few sincerely taught Sila (eg 8 precepts & meditation) but no one taught us the scriptures, EXCEPT recently bump into a website in Malaysia (Dhammavuddho.com.my)on the revival of Suttas. These are our Holy books, why didn’t the Sangha teach? Luckily, i saw it in dhammalight.com and also dhammavuddho website, otherwise i would still be ignorant about the Suttas that are so hard to come by.

    Million thanks to Thanissaro & others for the Pali translation, grateful to dhammalight.com for posting all the suttas & nikayas and last but not least, to Rev.Dhammavuddho for the revival of Suttas.

    Appeal to the Sangha to stay united and be united!

    • Dear Frustrated,

      I am sorry to hear that you were not taught about the Sutras in the Tipitka even after being a Buddhist for 20 years. Ajahn Brahm and other Ajahns at Bodhinyana monastery usually have Sutta Study Class where they teach lay devotees directly from the Tipitka in addition to the weekly dhamma talks. In the Sutra Study Class, the Ajahns usually read directly from the Sutras line by line before explaining it. You can find the recordings of these Sutra Study classes here:

      http://www.bswa.org/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=3

      A Systematic Study of the Majjhima Nikāya :

      http://www.bodhimonastery.net/bm/about-buddhism/audio/15-a-systematic-study-of-the-majjhima-nikaya.html

      A course in the Pali Language:

      http://www.bodhimonastery.net/bm/programs/pali-class-online.html

    • Dear iMeditation,

      Deeply appreciate with lots of gratitude for your links.Cannot thank you enough for it esp, the Pali course by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Will remember you for your meritorious effort and deeds.

      Glad to know that you have a chance to learn the Suttas from Ajahn Brham.Your good paramis. Haappy to hear that. Very fortunate of you. Buddhas suttas are precious and hard to come by. We are so lucky we have the Buddha’s Dhamma.

      I guess not many monks can understand it or not many like to teach the suttas as it is quite a literature and adored by poets in particular, because of its poetic rhythm, like in Shakespeare’s era (even the monks robe are very Roman).

      Anyway, i now access the suttas from the net, there so much to learn from the net. Thanks to internet & http://www.Thanks to Bill Gates too! Blissful Peace to you.

  5. We are right to be concerned about the wider reaction or “backlash” in Thailand. Let us hope that the Thai Sangha will discontinue this clinging to a fraternal identity (and all the time and energy wasted on activities related to this clinging) and see the wider picture.
    The world is changing and it may be increasingly difficult down the road to practice Dhamma freely (in a world increasingly dominated by China and dampened by a small intolerant branch of the Islamic world growing in influence).
    I agree with Frustrated that the Sangha is best to stay united and with Ven Sujato, that we would be foolish not to let the Sangha grow by including women- at a juncture in history when Triple Gem could very quickly in near future generations become stifled (well it has in our own generation- in Burma and Tibet). (Or do we just sit back and accept the escalation of the degenerate age?).
    Maitreya is not male only and requires both a material and spiritual basis of support for both male and female in order to emerge.

  6. Dear friends,

    There are so many wise old monks outside of Australia who are scholars and who have truthfully practiced the Dhamma for forty or fifty years (i.e. they walk the talk, not just talk, like the Buddha did – taught what He practiced & practiced what He taught i.e impeccably spotless & mindful).

    Well known monks like the late Ajahn Chah & late Dr. K Sri Dhammananda Thera were definitely confronted with this revival of Bhikkhunis issue, but they too did not proceed with it, why did they not do it? Because perhaps they thought it could not and cannot be revived, otherwise they would have proceeded with it by now.

    Ajahn Brahm is considered a new kid on the block and has acted compulsively without due consideration for the wiser older monks around the world.

    There are so many theravada monks from Sri Lanka who are intellectuals and faithful long practitioners eg Bhante Gunaratana, Bhante Punnaji to name a few, who also needed to be consulted and their opinions sought as they too are from the theravada tradition and are very experienced monks.

    Thai Sangha & Thai Government are very strict (Buddha’s discipline is a 10-star standard).

    Remember one incident where a very popular charismatic Thai forest meditation monk had to disrobe for violating the rules /precepts due to some kind of scandal or misconduct.

    It is good that there is some kind of authority /regulatory body within the Sangha as a watchdog on monks’ behaviour otherwise things would go out of control and monks could do as they like or wish and cause bad reputation to the Sangha and Buddha-Sasana.

    It is our responsibility to protect the Buddha-Sasana (it is a priceless and timeless treasure inherited to us by our Blessed One).

    • Dear Buddha-Sasana,
      Would you not agree that such an authority would be established in right view if it were to go about its business in a transparent way?
      As for why some did not proceed with it – yet others that you mentioned such as Bhante G support it – indeed that is the question of the day? Why some and not others? Are you suggesting Ajahn Chah was established in right view and Bhante G is not??
      Is prohibiting half of the world from accessing teachings, role models and places for sincere practice “protecting the Buddha-Sasana”?
      Is disparaging the radical effort of the Buddha in his day to establish the Bhikkhuni Sangha “protecting the Buddha-Sasana”?
      Please read this declaration by Eastern and Western religious leaders from three faiths and let me know if you think this Sangha’s approach is truly one of “do no harm”. Please take your time to respond.

      http://www.cartercenter.org/news/editorials_speeches/parliament-world-religions-120309.html

    • Dear Buddha-Sasana,

      You raised a good question ” Well known monks like the late Ajahn Chah & late Dr. K Sri Dhammananda Thera were definitely confronted with this revival of Bhikkhunis issue, but they too did not proceed with it, why did they not do it? “.

      But because these renowned Elder monks did not proceed with it does not mean they are opposed to Bhikkuni Ordination. Conditions and circumstances of their time did not allow them to proceed with it. It is now a different world, a global village of the 21st Century cannot suppress the unfair and discriminative impositions on women any longer, hence for the sake of the Buddha Sasana, reform has to happen.

    • Also, I’m not sure if it is true. K Sri Dhammananda was, so am I am told, supportive of bhikkhunis and making active efforst in the last years of his life to help bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. As far as Ajahn Chah goes, the issue was not yet pressing in his lifetime, and we had not seen the emergence of living bhikkhuni communities in Theravada, nor the vibrant international discussion on the issue.

      What I do know is that he improved the lot of the mae chis, taught and encouraged them, and told the monks that they were to practice regarding the mae chis as if they were bhikkhunis. The mae chis at WPP used to have alms-bowls and go for alms to the local villages – a radical innovation. Yet when I was at Wat Nanachat in about 1995 the ruling came down from WPP that the mae chis were not to walk for alms any more, as there had, apparently, been some complaint. There was, of course, no discussion on the issue. But there is no doubt that the status and role of women in these monasteries has been slowly eroding even from the cautious improvements made before I arrived. I have watched our Sangha slide further and further towards conservatism and defensiveness.

  7. Dear Bhante,

    Grateful for your referral to the Thai media for which we in Australia has zero exposure. Some articles unfortunately are in Thai but the Phra Paisarn’s English articles are an eye-opener for me and augurs well for the progressive Sanghas in Thailand. I pray that the Thai community in Australia read them too and not to be blindly faithful and unquestionable to their ethnic spiritual leaders here.

  8. The truth of the orginal WPP meeting (that Ajahn Brahm was required to attend and ended in the expulsion) seems to have been fudged…

    For instance, Ajahn Brahm has stated that the reason he was ‘excommunicated’ is because he refused to make a statement invalidating the Bhikkuni ordinations of Oct 22.

    Whereas the recent WAM statement gives the pathetic reason of a lack of consultation and of disrespect. (They ignore the FACT that the ordinations would have been rendered invalid if monks or nuns rocked up within the ordination boundary and started objecting…)

    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that first WPP meeting…

    The Women and the Forest Sangha on Facebook site has a posting which is a transcript of this very meeting. Going by this it would seem that they (those present at the WPP meeting) simply could not be bothered with all the trouble (as they seem to have seen it) being caused by AB. Such a shame that they didn’t take the time to lovingly and patiently examine the facts of the case before rushing to what they may have seen as an expedient solution. Such a shame that those monks who may have disagreed with the outcome didn’t have the guts to say so.

    So much expediency…look at what it has done? And i’m sure they know this, otherwise why would they be trying SO hard to put the blame on Ajahn Brahm’s ‘lack of consultation’…talk about riduculous…

    By the way, Ajahn Sujato, isn’t it true that Ajahn Brahm and yourself tried any number of times to ‘consult’?

    They’ll have to live up to their current party line and consult each other about every major thing that happens after this…the current orgy of self-justification certainly means that they have to in order to save face and they certainly seem to be into saving face at present.

    Well all I can say to those that pushed for this expulsion is that you’ve done the Buddhist community of WA a massive favour. While they’ve done us a favour, I think they’ve done a huge harm to themselves. Especially when, instead of coming clean they seem intent on self-justification and self-defence.

    It would seem that Thai culture and politics can reach into the Sangha and vice-versa. Sanitsuda Ekachai posted the following on the Women and the Forest Sangha Facebook site: ‘I was told that WPP will organise a press conference on Dec 28 to call for stricter control of Phra Farangs (Western monks) and their temples overseas from the Elders’ Council and the National Buddhism Office.’

    If this turns out to be true, I say a huge thankyou to those who expelled Bodhinyana. Bodhinyana got out in the nick of time as it seems that conservative, narrowminded and gutless forces are currently holding sway in the WPP and WAM community in Thailand.

    By the way, I hope the goss about trying to remove AB as abbot is incorrect cos I can almost guarantee that they’d have to get past a rather large number of lay people first! I’d put my body on the line to stop that if I thought it’d help. As a long time member of the BSWA I can state with great certainty that the BSWA wants him there and as far as we are concerned that’s his home monastery and he’s our spiritual director for as long as he wants it!!!!!

    I’m glad to hear that Ajahn Sujato has heard very different things from more reliable sources because the current uproar would be nothing compared to the one that would ensue if they tried such a move which would just come across as nasty, envious, pathetic and seriously mis-guided.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      By the way, Ajahn Sujato, isn’t it true that Ajahn Brahm and yourself tried any number of times to ‘consult’?

      Yes, I have documented a few of these in my ‘Letter to Good People’. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to what i have experienced myself, I have heard so many stories from monastics and ex-monastics of what happens when the topic of bhikkhunis was raised. On at least two occasions, when ordaining women was raised in a group of people, very senior monks simply walked out. I’ve been repeatedly told that bhikkhunis were completely taboo in the English monasteries. One monk had been there for over ten years, and attended a meeting where bhikkhuni ordination was on the agenda. He was interested, because up until then he had never heard the topic discussed and had no idea what anybody’s opinion was. But the meeting just waffled around and ended without actually talking about bhikkhunis. This is not an exceptional story, but the norm.

      So when the Ajahns criticize Ajahn Brahm and say ‘He went ahead without giving us the chance to even discuss bhikkhunis’, this is a bit like the CEO of a coal-fired power plant saying, ‘But renewable energy just happened to not be mentioned at our board meetings’!

  9. If the WPP are successful in calling (see post 14))’for stricter control of Phra Farangs (Western monks) and their temples overseas from the Elders’ Council and the National Buddhism Office’ in Thailand, what are the implications for all Thai originated monastaries in the West?? Nevermind those of Ajahn Chah’s lineage!

    Maybe those monastary’s need to perform some legally (within Vinaya) binding Bhikkuni ordinations too… So they can be expelled and be free of such control! Then they can function as the Buddha actually intended them to. But they’d better do it before the 28th!!

    Come on you western monks in Europe and the Americas, show some courage!!! Does respect mean total obediance? This is not some form of Brahmanism, this is Buddhism! If you had enough Saddha you’d believe that your monasterys could function without support from your parent/grandparent monasterys; surely its enough to take refuge in the Triple Gem? And have some of you confused the Sangha aspect of the Triple Gem with ordinary Sangha?

    One of the things I’ve learned from all this is the truth of that statement that an Ariyan has perfect understanding of Dhamma but can make mistakes within worldly contexts. But I can still take refuge in the fact that these Beings did it! That they realised the Dhamma. That is something worth taking refuge in.

    I remember hearing an old story from the time of Ajahn Chah. The wife of a western diplomat wanted to visit him because she had heard of him. Ajahn Chah made all the preparations that his culture demanded he make for the visit by someone who was of importance. He did this so the lady was made to feel honoured and welcome. Unfortuantely, he did not understand the culture she came from; she was actually put off by the display and the ceremonious-ness of the occassion. Arahants make mistakes too.

  10. Frustrated :Dear all in the Dhamma…

    It is sad to see the beginning of “war” and “washing dirty linen in the public” within the Sangha & lay buddhists….

    …Appeal to the Sangha to stay united and be united!

    Dear Frustrated,

    Staying united and doing something about the bogus monks/nuns are not things that can go together.

    By the way, I don’t think that any of the monks and nuns concerned in this issue (on either side) are bogus in the way that you have defined them.

    I am not sure what you are trying to say here but it sounds a bit like you are are accusing Ajahn Brahm of selling a mutant version of the Dhamma for his own gain. Frustrated, I’d be very careful of making this sort of kamma…

    Have you ever met Ajahn Brahm? Have you questioned him? Spoken with him? Done a retreat with him? Visited his monastery? Spoken to the various very different indiviuals from different walks of life who support and listen to his teachings?

    To those of us who have done all these things, you are simply showing that you do not know this monk very well.

    Personally I want the dirty linen washed in public. I want to know who is doing the right thing so that I can support them. I don’t want to support those who in my opinion are not supporting the Buddha-sasana.

    • Most of Frustrated’s post was deleted in my previous post.

      He/she also stated in post number 6:

      “1.Those that solicit for money in the street;
      2.Those that sell amulets for money in the street;
      3.Those that talk own “dhamma” in the name of the Buddha’s dhamma
      for fund-raising.
      4.Those that made themselves an idol for fame, power & fund raising;
      5.Those that claim having psychic power to gain many followers & donations.

      The lay people are the victims and are being manipulated by these bogus monks/nuns.”

      This is what I am referring to in post number 17.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      Sorry to see that you have wrong projection of my comment.Please don’t get me wrong.
      It was not directed at Ajahn Brahm at all as assumed by you. It was meant in general, an overall picture of the Sangha. I appreciate Ajarn Brahm’s talks and books, a different outlook of Buddha’s teaching.

      My main concern is the original Buddha’s teachings in the scriptures & discourses in Pali that should be kept intact and in the course of teaching the lay disciples in lay terms the profound teachings and meaning have not lost its pure fragrance.Buddha’s teaching is more beautiful and sweet in its original words in Pali.

      Have no bad intention so no bad karma created. Perhaps, some misunderstanding. Sorry to have caused you some frustrations.

  11. Frustrated forgot to mention in his list:

    those who lie
    those who steal
    those who have sex
    those who take drugs and alcohol
    those who generally do not keep the most pertinent of their rules; the rules that, if they are not kept lead to a monastic automatically not being a monastic…

    Looking at Phra Paisarn’s articles, it would appear that at least some monks in Thailand are concerned about the prevalence of these heavy transgressions and their effect on the Buddha sasana.

  12. Dear Frustrated,

    Thank you for your comments and clarification at post no. 21.

    My apologies too for misunderstanding you. I am sorry.

    I am glad you find such joy in the Buddha’s teachings.

    All the very best to you.

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