“Sooner or later, we’ll see female monks everywhere.”

On Dec 28, 2009, a press conference was held by a committee of senior Ajahns from Wat Pa Pong, calling for Thai State control over monasteries overseas.

The monks who are quoted in the reports are Ajahn Opas (Phra Kru Opaswuthikorn; more normally known as Luang Po Sophorn) and Ajahn Khampong (Phra Kru Sudhamprachote), both senior abbots in the WPP tradition; also Ajahn Kevali, the recently installed German aboot of Wat Nanachat, is mentioned. It is highly unlikely that the Western Ajahns were consulted, certainly not all of them or in detail. The conference represents the views of a council of 12 senior monks at WPP, which I believe is an ad hoc committee set up in the wake of the bhikkhuni ordination. They claim to represent WPP as a whole.

The press conference makes two things clear.

1. That WPP formally and seriously wishes to wrest control of Bodhinyana Monastery from Ajahn Brahm, using the legal apparatus of the Thai nation.
2. That women’s ordination in any form is fundamentally unacceptable.

An account of the press conference by Sanitsuda Ekachai is on the Buddhist Channel, which includes this summary of the issues:

If action is not taken, the council fears that more women could be ordained in the West.

“Sooner or later, we’ll see female monks everywhere,” said Phra Kru Opaswuthikorn.

Rarely do we see the real issue expressed with such forthright clarity. Phra Opas has, mercifully, not studied in the school of monastic nonspeak. He knows what he believes, and says it. We have to stop the nuns, damn them up before they become a flood that overwhelms Buddhism. (As an aside, he reminds me of our very own Cardinal Pell, another unreconstructed patriarch who just sails on, oblivious to the changing currents around him.)

This is a powerful patriarch speaking, with his own monastery, his State-appointed title, entrusted by WPP with shaping the future of the Western WPP Sangha. I believe that those in such a position of spiritual leadership have a moral imperative to inform themselves and respond positively to the genuine spiritual needs and aspirations of their time. But here Phra Opas, and the WPP council he represents, is making a power play based on a sexist ideology. When those with much power try to strip away even the little power that others have, it is our ethical duty to stand up for the wronged and the deprived. There is no sign here of any wisdom that might help us understand how we as human beings must share this beautiful, fragile planet together.

Phra Opas forms his argument based on the supposed problems of the Thai people. I urge Thai people everywhere to let the rest of the world know what they really think. Lest it be forgotten, the Thai Senate subcommittee of 2003 declared that the 1928 ruling against female ordination was against the Thai constitution, specifically the clauses guaranteeing freedom of religion and gender equality. Please, my Thai friends, do not let Thai Buddhism be remembered for greed and narrow-mindedness. There is so much that Thai Buddhism has offered the world, and so much it has yet to offer.

The following is a first-hand report of the press conference by the Bangkok Post writer Sanitsuda Ekachai, copied here from Facebook.

Phra Kru Opaswuthikorn presided at the press conference today to urge the Office of National Buddhism and the Council of Elders to issue rules and regulations to empower the Thai Sangha to punish monks overseas who violate the Sangha’s mandates.

Phra Kru Opas spoke on behalf of the Wat Pah Pong executive board which made this decision last week.

Rough summary of press releases:

The Perth ordination is against the Vinaya-Dharma of Thai Theravada Buddhism as well as violating the Wat Pah Pong’s prohibition against female ordination. Aj Brahm was summoned to admit his mistake which refused to do, resulting in the excommunication. This decision was later approved by Somdet Phra Puttajarn who said Aj Brahm’s preceptorship was therefore automatically revoked.

Apart from ordaining women, Aj Brahm was also accused of temple mismanagement. The Bodhinyana Temple came into being through the faith and donations of Thai Buddhists in Perth. After the first abbot left monkhood, Aj Brahm was appointed as abbot and he later changed the temple bylaws and change the temple committee members for “his own interest” despite disagreement from the Bodhinyana Sangha.

Given that the Bhikkhuni ordination and temple ownership problems have greatly troubled the Thai Buddhists in Australia, a committee should be set up to investigate land ownership and temple mismanagement at Bodhinyana in order to return the land and temple to the Thai Buddhists and to ensure that the temple management is in line with Dhamma Vinaya.

To prevent future problems, rules and regulations should be issued so the Thai Sangha can punish the monks overseas who violate th laws and the clergy’s mandates.

On temple ownership overseas, this poses a problem of control because temples are owned by associations not the Thai Sangha like temples in Thailand. Should the abbots err, they still can stay if the temple committee support them. Or, when the abbots are in the right, they cannot stay if they don’t have support of the committee. The management of temples in Thailand, however, is under Thai Sangha’s administrative structure. When problems occur like in the case of Bodhinyana, it is then difficult to move due to lack of uniform rules which effectively govern temples in Thailand. To prevent similar problems, there should be a state agency to enforce the Thai Sangha law and to cover temples overseas.

I asked whether WPP sent emails to the Thai embasy and Sinporean organisers of Aj Brahm’s talks, the answer is no, WPP did not do that.

Asked if this control effort have been approved by the Western clergy since it would affect the Western monks’ relative autonomy which is useful to their dharma work, the answer that it is the decision of the WPP board consisting of 12 senior monks. That it was approved by LP Liam. But the answer was not clear if the Western Sangha was fully consulted or not.

Phra Kru Sudhamprachote said many Thai Buddhists in Perth are unhappy with Aj Brahm and are trying to find way to get him out the temple. But this is up to the people, WPP cannot do anything to support this action.

I asked if WPP has an alternative to Bhikkhuni. Aj Kevali is in favour of the Siladhara order. But Phra Kru Opas outrightly dismissed it, saying it it would be difficult for the order to be accepted in Thailand. He described Bhikkhuni ordination as against the Dhamma Vinaya. That the Buddha advised monks to stay away from women, because women and monks are like fire and fuel.

I asked what is the real issue concerning Aj Brahm, Bhikkhuni ordination or Aj Brahm’s secrecy and failure to consult the WPP clergy. Phra Kru Opas said the main issue is Bhikkhuni ordination. That there is no way that Thai Theravada Buddhism to have Bhikkhuni. And as far WPP concerns, Aj Brahm is no longer a Thai Theravada monk, but a Mahayana monk.

My hunch : This might be part of the existing problems of internal politics between Thai and Western monks in the WPP order. Luang Por Chah wanted the Western clergy to oversee the Western monks. Consequently, Thai monks have no say on temples overseas. But the Perth ordination shows Aj Sumedho’s failure to keep the monks under his supervision in line so the Thai monks have the reason to step in to control the Western monks and the temple properties abroad.

There are a number of critical points here.

Phra Kru Opas clearly states that the real issue is bhikkhuni ordination, which he says can never be accepted in Thai Buddhism. One the other hand, we have been told again and again by Western Ajahns that the real issue is not bhikkhuni ordination, but the ‘way it was done’. I give the Western Ajahns the benefit of the doubt here: I don’t think they are lying, I think they are just naive. They need to actively develop a culture of denial if they are to maintain the status quo and convince themselves that it is possible to remain with integrity within the existing structures of Thai State Buddhism. As I have said all along, and as the statement here confirms, there never was any possibility of advancing bhikkhuni ordination within the existing structures.

And, as I have also stated repeatedly, siladharas are no better in the eyes of the conservative Thai Sangha. Ordaining siladharas is just as illegal in Thailand as ordaining bhikkhunis – if the 1928 ruling is still in force – and Phra Kru Opas dismisses any chance that that order might make any headway in Thailand. The only advantage of the siladhara order is that it’s easy to dismiss it and not take it seriously. The plain fact is that if these ultra-conservative monks have their way, there is no chance of any improvement in women’s lot in Thai Buddhism.

The most astonishing accusations in Phra Opas’ statement concern the alleged temple mismanagement at Bodhinyana. These claims have no factual basis whatsoever. They are sheer invention. Anyone who knows Ajahn Brahm would know that he is the most scrupulous and dedicated manager imaginable. I’ve seen him personally check every call on the phone bill, and will harass Telstra if there’s the slightest problem. In three years as the secretary at Bodhinayana, I never saw anything but the highest standards of accountability and professionalism in Ajahn Brahm’s management.

The irony is that it was, in fact, Wat Nanachat that was badly mismanaged for many years, because most of the other Ajahns, understandably enough, are not so concerned or knowledgeable about such matters. It ended up with lay committee members ripping off much of the donations. This is not a criticism of the monks involved, they were simply being trusting. The rorts were only ended by Ajahn Nyanadhammo, who set up a rigorous system of checks on finances, which he had learnt from his time at Bodhinyana with Ajahn Brahm.

The notion that there are a set of ‘uniform rules’ that ‘effectively govern’ monasteries in Thailand is nonsense. Thai Buddhism is deeply troubled and in desperate need of internal reform. The scandals reported in the media are only the tip of the iceberg. Deeper and harder to deal with than AIDS or drug addiction in the Sangha is the pervasive loss of spiritual relevance or meaningful Dhamma vocation. This cuts to the very heart of the contemporary Sangha, and is not a simple case of a few misbehaving monks.

Don’t take my word for it, look at the actions of Phra Mongkut, or Ajahn Mun, or Ajahn Chah. They all operated under the quite reasonable knowledge that mainstream Thai Buddhism was seriously corrupt, and that only by reforming or living on the margins of the system could one live with integrity. This is a staple part of the Forest Tradition, which is why the Forest Tradition monks set up such strong boundaries between themselves and other monks. Outsider monks are treated as if they are only semi-ordained, since it is assumed that if monks do not come from the forest tradition, they are probably guilty of many Vinaya offences.

A few more specifics need mention.

After the first abbot left monkhood, Aj Brahm was appointed as abbot and he later changed the temple bylaws and change the temple committee members for “his own interest” despite disagreement from the Bodhinyana Sangha.

These claims are completely false, as anyone who has stayed at Bodhinyana would know. Ajahn Brahm has always had the support of the Sangha at Bodhinyana.

To prevent future problems, rules and regulations should be issued so the Thai Sangha can punish the monks overseas who violate th laws and the clergy’s mandates.

“Rules and regulations, punishment, violations, and mandates”. This is exactly the opposite of why we became Buddhists, or were attracted to practicing Buddhism, in the first place. We are so, so far from the Dhamma of acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go.

Phra Kru Sudhamprachote said many Thai Buddhists in Perth are unhappy with Aj Brahm and are trying to find way to get him out the temple. But this is up to the people, WPP cannot do anything to support this action.

Thai people are like people anywhere – diverse and varied. WPP and the Thai Sangha officials do not have a monopoly of what Thai people want or believe. There are, quite probably, some Thais in Perth who do not like the bhikkhuni ordination. There are certainly many who are fully supportive.

But the claim that WPP can do nothing about the actions of the Thai community in Perth is untrue. In fact, a senior monk from WPP has been ringing his contacts among the Thai people in Perth to urge them to act to have Ajahn Brahm removed. There is no chance that this covert undermining of Ajahn Brahm will succeed. The Perth community is a strong and multi-cultural one.

If this movement gains any momentum, what we may see is the development of a Thai temple in Perth separate from Bodhinyana. It’ll become like every other Thai temple: a place for Thais to go, speak their language, perform their rituals, and be reminded of home. Then they’ll realize that their children are completely alien in this environment, and go to Bodhinayana asking the monks to help teach their children.

Given that the Bhikkhuni ordination and temple ownership problems have greatly troubled the Thai Buddhists in Australia, a committee should be set up to investigate land ownership and temple mismanagement at Bodhinyana in order to return the land and temple to the Thai Buddhists and to ensure that the temple management is in line with Dhamma Vinaya.

If you cast your mind back, at the meeting when Ajahn Brahm was expelled from WPP, one of the first reactions was to claim that Bodhinyana should be ‘reclaimed’ by the Thai people. This was immediately dismissed by Ajahn Nyanadhammo, who told the assembly that the monastery was owned by the BSWA and WPP had no jurisdiction over it. At the time I assumed that this claim was just a loose remark by an angry monk; but now it is endorsed by the official committee.

WPP wants to take over Bodhinyana in the name of ‘Thai Buddhism’. This is not without precedent. Daen Maha Monkhon in Kanchanaburi was developed as a stunning, successful center by a charismatic upasika; then last year some monks came and tried to claim the land and take it away from the women. In Vietnam there have similar conflicts; once the monastery is built the government takes over.

It seems to me that this is what’s happening here. The Thai monks have seen how successful and prosperous the BSWA has become. Success always breed envy. They believe that Ajahn Brahm is leading the community in the wrong direction; they want to go there, pull it back in line, and keep the women in their place – the kitchen. Then they will end up with a glistening, prestigious prize: one of the best developed Dhamma centers in the West, with plenty of land and places for Thai monks to come and stay.

Of course, this scenario is sheer fantasy. The BSWA has been such a success precisely because it has engaged with the reality of the lives and needs of people living in Perth, and has not blindly instantiated a model from overseas.

The most interesting thing for now will be to see how the other Western Ajahns react – and even more so, what about the junior monks and nuns, and those considering ordination. How do they feel entering such an environment? If these things had been happening when I was new to all this, I would have run a million miles. After a long slow drift towards conservatism, reactionary politics, and sexist institutionalization, now there’s a rapid and dramatic lurch to the extremes.

In the statement from the WAM and elsewhere, the Western Ajahns have been at pains to claim that their system is a slow and consensual one, and that deliberation and discussion must proceed any move. Clearly this is not how things are going on. They need to start acknowledging this reality. If WPP is really as consensual as they claim, then they must accept full responsibility for these attacks and views. If it is not consensual, then they need to stop hiding behind this smokescreen and admit that there simply is no way that bhikkhuni ordination could have been reasonably pursued within WPP circles.

159 thoughts on ““Sooner or later, we’ll see female monks everywhere.”

  1. Interesting the emphasis on the Thai members of the WA sangha. I didn’t know the Buddha set up the teachings and discipline to be based on ethnicity :-p

    Your second paragraph summarises what it is like here in Adelaide – we don’t have a unified Theravada temple, but Thai, Laotian, Cambodian and Sri Lankan temples, and while they are all wonderful and very vibrant, they are distinctly ethically based and serve the cultural aspects of that group. People I have spoken to in some of the groups would prefer something like what AB has done in Perth where it is all bought together. Then there are the fundamentalists – who are NOT a part of those temples I should add but are of the Western Thai Forest Sangha followers – who tut tut about what AB has done.

    In terms of the other power issue – money and property – would the reactionary conservatives like to return all of the money donated to them by the Western liberals? Again, :-p

  2. * Phra Kru Opas said that Aj Brahm is no longer a Thai Theravada monk, but a Mahayana monk. There are many Theraveda monks who ordained bhikkhunis , but that doesn’t automatically make them a Mahayana monk. For example, On August 12, 1996 a team of Theraveda monks ordained 11 bhikkhunis.

    ” This ordination was confirmed and ratified by a quorum of the Theravada Sangha as required in the Vinaya. Ven. Inamaluwe was the director of the function and the master of ceremonies. He was assisted by Ven. Mapalagama Vipulasara, Galkadawela Punnasara, Pandit Tallalle Dhammananda Anu Nayakam, Ven. Prof. K. Vajira and Porwagama Soma and a few others.

    Thus for the first time since the Anuradhapura days the Bhikkhuni Sasana has been revived in Sri Lanka According to full Theravada ceremonial. Sinhalese DSM nuns, Buddhist women feminists and other advocates of the restoration of the Bhikkhuni Sasana will have the satisfaction that one of their cherished dreams for the Buddha Sasana has been realised.” – D. Amarasiri Weeraratne in the article entitled ” Revival of the Bhikkhuni Order in Sri Lanka”

    * Phra Kru Opas said that” The Perth ordination is against the Vinaya-Dharma of Thai Theravada Buddhism “. Maybe it is against the Vinaya-Dharma of Thai Theraveda, but not the Buddha’s Vinaya-Dharma. Many Theraveda monks in Sri Lanka would agree. There is a slight gap between Thai Theraveda Vinaya-Dharma and the Buddha’s Vinaya-Dharma. When it comes to choosing between Thai Theraveda Vinaya and Buddha’s Vinaya-Dharma, the choice is obvious for devotees of the Buddha.

    ” There is permission in the Vinaya Chullavagga for monks to ordain nuns. This permission could easily have been made use of if the monks were willing to restore the Bhikkhuni order. But since their wishes were otherwise and they were more interested in maintaining their monopolies” – http://www.buddhanet.net/nunorder.htm

  3. Hi Ben and fellow denizens of blogdom,

    While we happen to be on the topic of the importance of grass-roots, non-ethnocentric donations … please allow me to shamelessly plug a current Santi fundraiser … ‘renounceathon’!

    renounceathon is an internet-based fundraiser I’m running for Santi Forest Monastery (aka fiefdom of Baron Sujato). I would like to extend my invitation to those interested in the work done at Santi to participate.

    renounceathon is founded on the idea that we can all make a better world by consuming less. Simply put: the more we simplify our lives, the happier we get, and the better-off our natural environment.

    It works by people like you and me giving something they don’t need for a month, starting on New Year’s Day. We get our friends and family to sponsor our renunciations. The renunciation can be anything – coffee, meat, chocolate, clothes-shopping, beer, bickering, driving, gossip, email … blogging! etc.

    Basically, we at Santi noticed some time ago the problems associated with too-large donations coming from too-few hands, and wanted to find a creative way to stimulate widespread grass-roots support from non-traditional sources in way that is actually connected with practice, both personal and social.

    To join, go to http://www.santifm.org and follow the links to renounceathon.

    Many thanks! And I hope to hear from some of you soon.

    >j<

    PS: This post has come entirely off my own bat. Neither Bhante Sujato nor anyone else from Santi – other than me – should be implicated in future press conferences for my somewhat random intrusion into this thread.

    with metta,

    Anagarika Jason Chan
    Santi Forest Monastery
    http://www.santifm.org

  4. “It’ll become like every other Thai temple: a place for Thais to go, speak their language, perform their rituals, and be reminded of home. Then they’ll realize that their children are completely alien in this environment, and go to Bodhinayana asking the monks to help teach their children.”

    When I read this I burst out into laughter at the truth of it. Every ethnic Thai temple I’ve ever been to in the U.S. is like this.

    • Indeed. Experienced similar in one of LP Viriyang’s Vihara. Monks try to teach suttas or organize regular meditation sittings and open their doors beyond the Thai ethnic visitors, and the monks get promptly sent home.

  5. Dear Bhante and fellow-Bhikkhuni supporters,

    I have just been speaking to one of the older monks at Bodhinyana, who confirmed that, indeed, some senior Thai WPP monks have been urging the Perth Thai community to “kick Ajahn Brahm out” (as Abbot), thus allowing the WPP seniors to give them a replacement Thai abbot. This situation is getting way out of hand! I feel sorry for the local Thai community, who must feel very conflicted. Ajahn Brahm has been like a father to many of the young Thai-Aussies in Perth, while the older members have had 26 years to observe his impeccable sila and amazing metta at close range, in all circumstances.

    Of course, the BSWA committee and it’s many voting members are right behind Ajahn Brahm. They would not allow Thai monks, who have scant contact with Bodhinyana and Dhammaloka, to presume any kind of authority over their affairs and constitution. Ajahn Brahm and Bodhinyana have been expelled from the WPP lineage, BUT the WPP hardliners still want control over Bodhinyana and it’s supporters!! Just how far out of touch with reality are these people?

    I don’t know who is behind the false accusations of “temple mismanagement”. It is so far from the truth, as to be absurd. I worked as Ajahn Brahm’s secretary for 3 years, which included being instructed by him in supervising the Monastery accounts. Thus, I can say that Ajahn Brahm is extremely careful, scrupulous, and protective of his lay supporters’ donations. Contrarily, I was shocked at the decadence, wastage and luxury I saw when visiting many prominent Thai Forest monasteries. Another irony well noted by Bhante Sujato was the fact that only an Abbot trained by Ajahn Brahm was able to clean up the corruption and mismanagement of the lay committee at Wat Nanachat in 2002, when he took over it’s leadership.

    Another issue is the dilemma now facing those new monastic candidates who wish to be able to move between WPP connected monasteries and Bodhinyana. One of my old Dhamma friends who is planning to ordain is right in the middle of this. He feels that if he ordains at a monastery antagonistic to Ajahn Brahm, then he won’t be able to visit or train at Bodhinyana, despite his love for both monasteries & their abbots. Any young monastic who has affection for both Ajahn Brahm and the Thai Forest Sangha will also be faced with this dilemma. Who knows how many years will pass before this situation abates?

    At least now we have some clarity on the Thai Sangha Authority’s attitude to bhikkhuni ordination. In hindsight, it makes a mockery of the “slow consultation and discussion” camp’s indignation at Ajahn Brahm “procedural faults”. So the decision is stark: any WPP connected Western monastery wishing to support bhikkhuni ordination must be prepared to sever formal ties with their parent monastery in Thailand.

    Thankfully the internet is making it so much easier for the real story to be revealed, rather than being subject to centralized control.

    May all bloggers be at peace.

    • Thankyou Michael,
      May you also be at peace Dhamma friend.
      May your sincere and honest heart continue to blossom and fruit in the Dhamma.

    • Well, maybe it’s time to find a third way.
      If we need to raise funds for the Western Monasteries to make a go of things on their own, then perhaps this should be considered. Without this option presented to the Western monks how can they take any other stance? A nasty separation is being forced upon Western Dhamma practitioners. I and many others have supported these monasteries and feel this support is being thrown back in our faces. In going after one of the Western monks in this manner they go after the entire Western Sangha imho – A/C and beyond A/C. Let’s get moving then.

  6. Phra Kru Opas described Bhikkhuni ordination as against the Dhamma Vinaya and said that the Buddha advised monks to stay away from women, because women and monks are like fire and fuel. Is he suggesting that the way for monks to master the senses is to remove 1/4 of the fourfold sangha or remove the women ? According to the Suttras, previous Buddhas also had a bhikkhuni order. Is he smarter than all the Buddhas of the past combined ? Not only this approach doesn’t help the monks develop mastery over the senses, but only pushes desire below the surface, where it remains dormant and flares up when the right condition is present. In severe cases, it can turn into some type of perversion. For example, molesting children or having intercourse with animals.

    In the Indriya-bhavana Sutta , a discourse was given to the Venerable Ananda by the Buddha showing the proper way to master the senses :

    The Buddha asked the young brahmin Uttara :”Uttara, does the brahmin Parasiri teach his followers the development of the faculties?”

    “Yes, master Gotama, he does.”

    “And how does he teach his followers the development of the faculties?”

    “There is the case where one does not see forms with the eye, or hear sounds with the ear. That’s how the brahmin Parasiri teaches his followers the development of the faculties.”

    “That being the case, Uttara, then a blind person will have developed faculties, and a deaf person will have developed faculties, according to the words of the brahmin Parasiri. For a blind person does not see forms with the eye, and a deaf person does not hear sounds with the ear.”

    Then the Buddha went on to teach the proper way to full mastery of the senses:

    “There is the case where, when seeing a form with the eye, there arises in a monk what is agreeable, what is disagreeable, what is agreeable & disagreeable. He discerns that ‘This agreeable thing has arisen in me, this disagreeable thing…this agreeable & disagreeable thing has arisen in me. And that is compounded, gross, dependently co-arisen. But this is peaceful, this is exquisite, i.e., equanimity.’ With that, the arisen agreeable thing…disagreeable thing…agreeable & disagreeable thing ceases, and equanimity takes its stance. Just as a man with good eyes, having closed them, might open them; or having opened them, might close them, that is how quickly, how rapidly, how easily, no matter what it refers to, the arisen agreeable thing…disagreeable thing…agreeable & disagreeable thing ceases, and equanimity takes its stance. In the discipline of a noble one, this is called the unexcelled development of the faculties with regard to forms cognizable by the eye. ”

    The same goes with regard to sounds cognizable by the ear, aromas cognizable by the nose, flavors cognizable by the tongue, tactile sensations cognizable by the body,and ideas cognizable by the intellect.

    Notice, the Buddha didn’t instruct Ananda to eliminate or remove the form when seeing a form with the eye. Instead he said to let go of the desire (agreeable) or aversion (disagreeable) that arises within the monk.

    “And how is one a noble one with developed faculties?
    There is the case where, when seeing a form with the eye, there arises in a monk what is agreeable, what is disagreeable, what is agreeable & disagreeable. If he wants, he remains percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome. If he wants, he remains percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome. ”

    “This is how one is a noble one with developed faculties.

    • Dear iMeditation,

      I truly and deeply salute you for this Indriya-bhavana sutta quote, so intelligently used here and at this time. Well done.
      I shall let you know, that i read it aloud, so as to concentrate more vividly, and i am inspired. I shall let you know that this is the dhamma and the Buddha i take refuge in.
      I shall let you know that it is you who i shall remeber with gratitude as i take up sutta studies. Yes indeed. Thankyou.

    • “Phra Kru Opas described Bhikkhuni ordination as against the Dhamma Vinaya and said that the Buddha advised monks to stay away from women, because women and monks are like fire and fuel.” Did the Buddha really say that?

      From Sujato’s “The Tyranny of Transendence”: “Elsewhere the Suttas pose the question, ‘How do these young monks
      restrain their desires?’ The first answer to that, the basic one, the most important one, is that if the women is
      older than him he looks on her as a mother, if she’s younger then he looks on her as a daughter and if she’s the
      same age he looks on her as a sister. So the first response is to cultivate that loving and caring response to each
      other in presence and relationship, which is why the Buddha said the good friendship is the whole of the Holy
      Life. Only then, if that is not enough, do we need to develop the other practices of body contemplation and sense
      restraint. The first thing we do, the most basic thing, repeated in the Suttas again and again, is to look upon
      each other with eyes of loving-kindness. That’s our basic relationship with each other, to be actively and
      positively pursued.”

      I may look back on this and regret this statement as being too strong but, it seems to me that these monks are turning women into sex-objects just as thoroughly as any pornographer. It really upsets me. They seems less able to relate to women in a sane and mature way than the average man in the street. Has the Thai Vinaya done this to them?

    • David,

      referring your post no. 11

      Sadhu!

      And I don’t think your statement is too strong at all…perhaps even a tad understated… :)

  7. I hope that lay Buddhists in Perth know what precious gift their good kamma has rendered them: good monks and good teachings from Bodhiyana Monastery, and that they will know what best to do to protect their extra-ordinary gift.

    With metta,
    Dheerayupa

  8. WPP press conference is so evident of the trappings of organised religions and in this instance with the Thai Sangha, made worst with attachement to ethnicity.

    CONTROL, PUNISHMENT, UNQUESTIONABLE CONFORMITY, RULES and REGULATIONS are order of the day with organised religions. Talks of Thai Sangha must control Western monks overseas and Bodhinyana temple existed because of faith and donation of Thai Buddhists in Perth, is manifestation of ethnicity. How can we teach the Dhamma when these religious leaders at WPP harbour so much attachments. Sad, so sad.

  9. Truly amazing. I know some junior monks at WPN, I wonder what they will do now. Their inclination is to be more open and accepting, Will they try to go to a Western monastery now? I sure hope so, the extremist and unskilful WPP attitude cannot be reconciled with a modern balanced attitude. This committee is so out of touch, it is incredible and hard to believe they actually did as they did. I used to be a monk at WPN, the western abbots there have been quite hard, hierarchical and un-metta-like since 2002. Now many junior WPN monks must realize what they got themselves into. Usually western junior monks don’t know what the Thai side is up to, and may idealize the Thai monks they can’t even speak to. But the Thai powermonks went overboard now. Some monks must feel desperate to leave… I hope they will be able to.

  10. Perhaps the BSWA should hold a referendum on the whether Ven. Brahm should be replaced as the abbot of Bodhinyana. One does not have to be a gambler or a polls analyst to predict what the outcome would be and that would send a clear signal to the Thai ‘Buddhist’ mafia (apologies for the use of the term mafia but I could not think of any other way to express these types of actions).

  11. If one wrongs an innocent man,
    A pure person without blemish,
    The evil falls back on the fool himself
    Like fine dust thrown against the wind.

    Samyutta Nikaya, part I, verse 623 (translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi)

    >j<

  12. Bhante

    I for one am glad the WPP is clearly showing its attitude to Western Buddhism

    To me it shows that the issue is not about the Bhikkhini ordination but about control

    In the words of Lord Acton “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

    We can all thank both you and Ajahn Brahm for highlighting the serious deficiencies in the Thai Sangha

    I now wait to see how the members of WAM respond

    Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu
    Bill

  13. Hi again,

    If these statements do indeed represent the final official or inofficial stance of WPP, then they imply to me that they have lost the path taught by the Buddha because while they might try to stick to words, they are losing the spirit of the Buddha’s teachings.

    While this is a sad development of a sad rift to start with, I feel deep sympathy and compassion for those caught in the middle now, trying to be a part of “two worlds”.

    Personally, I have been free to make my choice here (I guess I might have some good kamma) to be able to clearly give my support to Ajahn Brahm
    Please keep in mind, everyone, that kamma is indeed playing out here at various levels, too …

    So I hope that Ajahn Brahm’s kamma carry him and the Bodhinyana monastery across the current storm (which hopefully will turn out just one in a tea-cup).

    with metta
    Ace

    • on a second point: on Facebook there has been a Thai press source given, indicating that Ajahn Brahm has been invited tocome to WPP and to ask for forgivenessin January but has refused so.

      My suspicious mind here anticipate some scheming ploy at hand, so let me ask for clarification sake:
      Would AB at legal risk if he travelled to Thailand under the current situation?
      Would WPP monks gain personal/physical control over him and/or Bodhinyana matters and property while he was with them (regardless their prior expulsion)?

      I suspect that there are some ulterior motives underlying this WPP call to ask for forgiveness now, at this time and after the expulsion.

      Imagining the cheek to say “we kick you out of the Boy’s club but you have to keep playing by our rules” … ;)

    • The report is on the Daily News (local Thai newspaper); however, we don’t know if the information on the report is a fact or not.

      I was tempted to drive to that monk’s monastery and ask him why he did what he did and what he ‘truly’ wants, but on second thoughts,… thanks to Jason’s reminding us that:

      If one wrongs an innocent man,
      A pure person without blemish,
      The evil falls back on the fool himself
      Like fine dust thrown against the wind.

      With metta to all,

      Dheerayupa

    • Dear Ace,

      I think this is a bit overly-suspicious. I don’t think there has been any invitation to Ajahn Brahm in Jan, and there is certainly no danger for him in Thailand – things are not that bad. And there is no possibility of WPP monks getting control of Bodhinyana in any possible world.

  14. If this report of the WPP press conference is factually correct then the elders must believe they are the Masters of the Universe and omnipotent. Something must be brewing within their malfunctioning minds for them to believe they can exercise hegemony over persons residing in a foreign country or control assets there. Even a crazy dictator like President Kim Jong-il of North Korea knows he cannot exercise jurisdiction outside his national borders and yet the elders of WPP think they can. Their machinations are motivated by retribution against Ajahn Brahm and they want to discredit him by employing unscrupulous methods.

    “He described Bhikkhuni ordination as against the Dhamma Vinaya. That the Buddha advised monks to stay away from women, because women and monks are like fire and fuel”. If that’s so bhikkhu then why are you accepting food and other alms from lay women? I doubt that it’s out of compassion. Isn’t that hypocritical? It’s a fact that the food given to monks are predominantly cooked by women and more women than men offer food so then why the misogyny and malignment against women?

    The choice for supporters of Bodhinyana Monastery is clear. We do not want an insular, narrow minded, submissive, grovelling, misogynistic Thai-speaking monk with cultural baggage unsuitable for Australia sent by WPP to be our abbot.

  15. As I near the end of my 4 week monastery triathlon (Santi, Bodhinyana stages already complete, Chithurst in a couple of days), I reflect, from a pristine middle east airport, on Bhante’s concern of how this issue will affect ‘those considering ordination’ (thats me!).
    And of course, I can only speak for me. I see it as positive, as an added motivational factor (if any be required) for me to ordain in a monastery that is fully supportive of the Bhikkuni ordination. It just seems such a clear cut case – right and wrong. I avoid using the ‘p’ word (ok, i’ll say it – ‘proud’), but I consider myself extremely fortunate to have as my teacher, and hopefully future abbot, a person who has shown the situation so clearly to anyone who is inclined to investigate. I have no doubts what so ever about ordaining in this tradition, and where I should request ordination.

  16. Also, many many many females are sincerely interested in practising the Dhamma, listening to the Dhamma, sharing the Dhamma and supporting the upholding of Dhamma….Many females wish for and enjoy the opportunity to meditate with Sangha and many females populate classes, and retreats whenever possible.

    As well as offering danna, as correctly point out Albert.
    I don’t think the large number of females involved in supporting monasteries and Sangha as well as their sincerity and devotion in practise and aspiration can be in question here.
    In fact, that is not refuted itself by the WPP, nor though is it highlighted in anyway.
    Other things are….. :)

  17. Hi all

    What is the actual source of this report? it seems to have appeared on facebook and has been repeated verbatim all over the show without too many eyebrows being raised… There doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence of this ‘press conference’ which took place two days ago. Certainly you would think considering the fact that Dhammalight has turned out to be run by WPP, there would be some sort of post about their own ‘press conference’ on there.

    The only thing I can find that corroborates is on http://twitter.com/Sanitsuda

    It’s not all adding up right now…

    • Hi Jack

      Sanitsuda Ekachai has answered that question on Facebook as follows:

      “This is ridiculous. I was there. How could the event be just a rumour?
      I’ve got the press releases in Thai in hard copies. I have no idea if they are on the Internet or not.

      I took some pictures but I see no point why I have to provide proofs.

      The event that got the WPP monks heated up was the Aj Brahm’s talk in Singapore in which he was seen as ridiculing Thai Buddhists and clergy. It stirred a nationalistic sentiment — a foreign monk shaming Thailand, something like that. The video was shown at the press con and the CD was also distributed.

      I did not hear what the reporters asked Phra Kru Opas so I cannot say if he said that or not. The reporters are quite young, have little background of the conflicts and his words might be misquoted. Forget the details. The gist is that the Thai WPP monks are upset that they were humuliated by Aj Brahm in his talk overseas. So they want to do something. They want the temple back but they admitted they did not know how to go about doing it so they asked for help from the Office of National Buddhism. It is a small office with little budget. There is almost zero chance that they can do anything. But the nationalistic Buddhist Thais in Perth can if someone made them believe that Aj Brahm is humiliating Thailand.”

      Now it’s not the bikkhuni ordination itself or the way that it was done that’s the problem, it’s AB “humiliating Thailand” in a talk in Singapore! I was going to ask if anyone knows what was said in Singapore, but actually I’m fast losing interest in what the Thai hierarchy think or do (unless they have the power to take back the Bodhinyana property, which it seems they don’t).

    • Hi David

      AB ‘s supporters are mainly from Singapore and Malaysia. The Buddhist lay people from these 2 countries strongly supported him financially for his Jhana Grove Retreat.

      Wonder would they be angry with the outcome.

      It is now up to the Perth Buddhist community to decide on the fate of the Monastery, but Jhana Grove Retreat is not under Bodhiyana so they cannot have a hand on it, as most funds came from overseas and not from Perth.

      Not sure about any mismanagement but it is shocking and breaking news to us all lay people.

    • Jack,
      Sanitsuda is a well established reporter for 2 decades for the Bangkok Post. I suspect she attended the press conf but allow others btw Sanitsuda to reply herself.
      Good to keep an eye out for sources though. We must keep our eyes on the truth at all times. :-)

  18. It seems Phra Kru Opaswuthikorn may be also known with the spelling Phrakru Ophasavudhigarn (Sophon Obhaso), and

    Phra Kru Sudhamprachote = Phrakru Suthammaprachot (Kamphong Thitapuñño) – possibly a mexican monk??

    • “Phra Kru Sudhamprachote said many Thai Buddhists in Perth are unhappy with Aj Brahm and are trying to find way to get him out the temple. But this is up to the people, WPP cannot do anything to support this action.”

      If Phra Kru Sudhamprachote is indeed “Ajahn Khampong” (sorry for the mistake in my recent entry – these long-winded Thai titles are confusing) – then hospitality and kindness counts for little. Presuming we are talking about the same monk (and forgive me if I have the wrong monk) – then our Ajahn Khampong was invited by Ajahn Brahm to reside at Bodhinyana for the 3 month Vassa/Pansah in 2008, following the Thai custom of not staying the Rains Retreat in your own monastery after the main hall has been built (don’t ask me the origin of this custom – something to do with non-attachment). Ajahn Khampong happily stayed at Bodhinyana for this 3 month period, hosted by Ajahn Brahm and the resident Sangha, and taken excellent care of by the Perth-based Thai community. This explains his apparent influence over the Perth Thai Buddhists. Ajahn Khampong also stayed at Bodhinyana for about 3 weeks in late 2002/early 2003 (I was one of his attendant monks, foot massagers, and English teachers for some of this time). He later spoke approvingly at the main WPP Sangha meeting about how well Bodhinyana was run by Ajahn Brahm, and how well the monks were practicing Vinaya.

      I must say that my dealings with Ajahn Khampong were wholly positive – he was very friendly, kind and playful – despite having a slightly gruff demeanor, and the physical presence of a heavy-weight boxer. His predilection for taking photographs of the Australian flora & fauna, as well as group photos with the many Perth Thai supporters was charming, and disarmingly child-like, to say the least.

      Interestingly, it was Ajahn Nyanadhammo who encouraged Ajahn Brahm to befriend Ajahn Khampong – precisely because he was politically influential and active in the WPP hierarchy. This encouragement was primarily to aid the exchange of monks between Bodhinyana and the Thai WPP monasteries, especially with getting visas, Dhamma-duta passports, etc. Those days are gone now!

      Does anyone know who this “Phra Kru Opaswuthikorn” is? Most Thai Forest Monks just go by their common names, preceded by “Ajahn” or “Tan Ajahn” eg. “Ajahn Chah” “Ajahn Liem”, “Ajahn Plien”, etc.

    • Dear Mike,

      Yes, it’s the same Ajahn Khampong. Perhaps the most astonishing thing for me in all this is how quickly such friendships have been tossed aside. It reminds me of what the Buddha said to the monks at Kosambi: ‘Even robbers and thieves can work together in harmony…’

    • His statement is a little ambiguous.

      Maybe they’ve receieved various complaints from the Thais about Ajahn Brahm’s action and believe this is representative of the majority view, but are simply stating that WPP cannot support any action to oust him.

      I would have thought there were actions they ‘could’ take and have hinted at in the same article, but maybe Ajahn Khampong is saying they won’t involve themselves and that it is up to the lay community.

  19. OMG! This is so unfortunate. Personally, AB is a good monk who kept his precepts well except for this one incident resulted from a bad hasty decision(it may not be only his decision, there were probably others who abet him into it.) If only AB had forgone or invalidated the ordination , this would not have spiraled further. It seems like getting out of control. Frankly, this would only make the public loose faith in the Sangha, it not rectified immediately.

    We urge AB & the Bhikkhunis to invalidate the ordination so that things would get back to normal, otherwise it would affect the overall Sangha, in general. It appeared the aftermath of the ordination is worse than expected.

    The action by WPP is harsh on AB but they may have other valid reasons for their action besides prolonging the Dhamma and protecting the Dhamma-Vinaya & the Thai Sangha theravada tradition.

    We hope an amicable settlement could be reached immediately.Perhaps, AB should come out to speak his heart & mind out. Both AB & the Bhikkhunis have been very silent about this issue. Please reconcile. We hope WPP could accept apology. Hoping for the best in the interest of harmony. Peace to all.

    • What is affecting the overall Sangha is the lack of compassion and neglect of friendship for Ajahn Brahm and respect for the Western Sanghas hard work and support and dedicated practice within this lineage – without that there would be no Thai Buddhism in the West. There is a complete lack of gratitude on the part of these monks and they should be held to account for this. This spiteful reaction by the Thais makes me sure to renounce all forms of Thai Buddhism (except for the Bhikkhuni lineages- because they are free from these stains) until integrity is restored.

    • OMG – I guess stands for Oh My God? If that is so, you certainly are a God fearing person and not a Buddhist. What a gutless statement- to say “We urge AB & the Bhikkhunis to invalidate the ordination so that things would get back to normal, otherwise it would affect the overall Sangha, in general”? OMG, true Buddhists will stand up for the truth and not bow down to threats and black mail irrespective of the consequences.

    • OMG Guptila, at the expense of harmony and peace??? The Sangha had no problem until Buddhism landed in Downunder. It is really going down with this reform & rebel.It is going to do more harm than good. Do you mindfully want to see this happen? A split in the Sangha or reconcile and let go move on.What Buddha said was true that when there was Bhikkhunis ordination, the Dhamma would be shorten by half or 500 years.Can’t they restore harmony & peace by forgoing or delaying their ordination?? P.s.”OMG” was just an exclamation, not literally.

    • “The Sangha had no problem until Buddhism landed in Downunder”

      I’m sorry but I didn’t know they had ostriches in Thailand, certainly OMG and Buddhist Group qualify as being of that species since they both seem to have their heads buried in sand

      Must be talking about another Thailand to the one I know and used to care about

      No rapes, no murders, no graft and corruption, no monks fathering children, no selling trinkets to tourists, no selling yantra tattoos etc etc etc

    • Aussie Buddhist, you forgot a big incident last month :-) : http://www.nationmultimedia.com/search/read.php?newsid=30116301&keyword=Wat+Sothon. The underlying cause of the monks’ rallies is said to be the monastery’s multi-million Baht income!

      May I add that perhaps it is true that Bhikkhuni ordination might in fact shorten the Buddhism’s period. Not because women ordination would tarnish Buddhism, but because unenlightened men’s unwholesome nature has taken over their attempt to follow the Buddha’s path, hence causing real great damage to Buddhism.

    • Buddhist Group,

      I’m sure alot of people are tired of repeating and re-reading this but it needs to be said…

      The 500 year thing passed long ago…Buddhism is still here!

      Whoever said the 500 year thing…was probably not the compassionate Buddha. I understand that there is research to support this.

      How long are we to assume as truth the sexist brainwashing of generations past? Let it go and see what possibilities are open to humans beings when anyone is given a chance to ordain.

      Pretend for a moment that its okay for Bhikkunis to exist. Doesn’t that feel good? Doesn’t that feel right?

      What happens to your mind when women aren’t just useful for dana and are so feared. Women aren’t that scary; the similarities with men are quite astounding really…

    • Well said Guptila! We have to remember that the people who are causing all the trouble, they are the ones who are causing the trouble and disharmony in the Sangha and not the Bhikkhunis and other monks who are simply following the Dhamma and Vinaya. They can’t blame their craziness on nothing other than their own defilements and misunderstanding of Dhamma and Vinaya.

    • You said: Frankly, this would only make the public loose faith in the Sangha, it not rectified immediately.

      1. I have not lost faith in the truth that some beings within the Sangha have attained to stages of Enlightenment; I have not lost faith in their attainments and the fact that this reality makes it possible for all of us to this too; I have not lost my faith in the truly virtuous Sangha.

      2. I have lost faith in a group of monks whom I thought were full of courage and would uphold truth, friendship and open hearts for all.

      3. I have lost faith in Thailand as a Buddhist country. Ajahn Brahm always said such beautiful things about Thailand. He spoke glowingly about Thai Buddhists and Buddhism. I see now that what he experienced when he lived in Thailand has now passed…

      4. As painful as the truth is, I would rather have it; it’s better than a lie. Buddhism as a path that is supposed to lead to the ulitimate truths cannot function if our faith and confidence is based on a lie.

      Metta.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      I totally am with you on Points 1 and 2; however, your Point 3 really hurts my feelings coz I’m a Thai, living in Thailand. However, it does not mean that I disagree with you. :-)

      Living in Thailand, I’ve seen so many unwholesome kamma committed by men in robes and felt discouraged until I’ve heard good teachings from Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Chah.

      You are lucky, Kanchana, for having the wonderful opportunity to live near dhamma and good dhamma teachers.

      Metta to all,

  20. The press conference took place at the Luang Por Chah study center on Soi Lad Prao 58 in Bangkok at 2 pm.
    There were more than ten monks there. Mostly Thais.
    I was there. I was the one who put the press con summary in the Women and Forest
    Sangha discussion group.
    I pointed out to Phra Kru Opas that the WPP press release’ focus on Bhikkhuni ordination as the reason for excommunicating Aj Brahm was inconsistent with the statement on WPP website, which states that it is about Aj Brahm’s breaking the WPP rule on group consultation. But the presiding monk Phra Kru Opas said the main thing is Bhikkhuni ordination.
    I tried to ask several times if the Western Sangha was consulted because the new rules would seriously harm the Western monks’ work, but the answer was unclear. Phra Kru Opas only said the decision was made last week, not at the WAM meet, by the WPP executive committee in charge of the administration of all WPP temples.
    I feel there is a big gap in the way the Thai and Western monks of WPP see things, which makes me sympathise with Aj Sumedho who is caught between deep Thai conservatism (what with its obsession with hierarchy, power and control) and new demands in the West.
    The WPP monks held this press conference because they were upset with Aj Brahm’s talk in Singapore in which he was seen as humuliating Thai Buddhism and Thai clergy. They felt they need to do something to show that Aj Brahm is shaming Thailand. The video was also shown at the press con and the CDs were distributed to the press.

    • Dear Sanitsuda,

      Thanks for keeping us posted, and giving us a direct line to things as they unfold.

      I appreciate your concern for LP Sumedho, but to be honest I feel more sympathy for the young monks and nuns in the Western monasteries. The senior Ajahns have had many years to get used to these issues and try to deal with them.

      In all this we are in danger of losing sight of the fact that the Western and Thai monks have got along very well over the years. The Westerners have gone to extreme lengths to abandon their homes, their cultures, to endure much physical and emotional hardship, out of their sincere devotion to the Dhamma, and their genuine belief that the Thai forest tradition offered perhaps the most authentic experience of Dhamma-Vinaya that is still found in our world today. For their part, starting with Ajahn Chah, the Thai monks have taken the westerners seriously and treated them with respect. They were not marginalized or made into something special, but trained just like any other monk. This contrasts with the Tibetan tradition, for example, where the Western monks are treated as something just outside, hardly even real monks. Following Ajahn Chah’s example, the WPP monks have, for the most part, supported the work of the Western monks and have been very humble in accepting that the task of establishing Buddhism in the West is really beyond them.

      The deep friendship of this relationship, however, was built on the premise of ignoring some basic conflicts, mainly about women and power. These have been hushed up and sidelined by the Western Ajahns. Now they’re in the open, the fracture lines are showing.

    • Dear Bhante,
      these words are so reasonable and helpful.
      It is good to remember what is and has been wholesome and sincere and good in relations among Sangha..
      And reasonable to be questioning and highlighting changes in those appreciated relations.
      And to be asking what is needed to honour the heart in this situation, within and between Sangha.

      Is anyone caring about that…
      What i find, is that it seems so obvious that the heart and goodwill and metta and wisdom and truth are what the Buddha taught…..
      and we all, as lay people and surely as ‘good’ Sangha what to see that and inact that.

      I will not buy into degenerative cynicism that just tells me to ‘get real’ and get with the times…heart ? truth? metta? wisdom? letting go? non-attachment? ethics? reason? communication?
      I need to see this , we all need this.
      We need examples of this.
      Please !!!!!

      Please!!!!
      Please !!!!

      THere are true fractures that need to be treated……
      But i implore that there is truly noble teachings from the heart from every direction NOW !!! :)
      Please turn the Whel of Dharma in all direction !

    • “the Thai monks have taken the westerners seriously and treated them with respect. They were not marginalized or made into something special, but trained just like any other monk. This contrasts with the Tibetan tradition, for example, where the Western monks are treated as something just outside, hardly even real monks. ”

      This may be difficult to verify? I have never heard Tibetans brag of their superiority by criticizing other Buddhist sects. Nor would they involve lay people in unseemly Sangha intrigues. Assuming that the “wholesome” Noble Sangha exists to teach Dhamma lay people and not just to continually involve them in divisive and corrupt games. So far, how have these Western monks manifested their wisdom, integrity and meditative training?

    • Dear Sabbeloka,

      Well yes, it’s difficult to verify. It’s just something I have heard from several Tibetan monastics. It’s not a formal policy or anything, and it obviously doesn’t apply in the case of the main Tibetan monks who have supported the Western sangha, such as the Dalai Lama or Lama Zopa. But it is the experience of western monastics who stay in more traditional Tibetan monasteries. In fact, it’s not so different from the way that the Dhammayuttika Nikaya in Thailand will treat other bhikkhus. Or, indeed, the way that Wat Nanachat and other WPP branches treats any monastic who is outside their little circle. They are made to sit at the end of the line, regardless of their seniority, they are excluded from Sangha acts, and generally are treated as if they are only semi-ordained.

      As to whether Tibetans exalt their own sect by criticizing others: This is one of the fundamental doctrinal foundations of the Tibetan schools: the superiority of the Mahayana over the so-called ‘Hinayana’. All traditional Tibetan doctrine rests on this assumption. The Tibetans are, in general, less dogmatic than the Theravadins, because they seriously study the actual texts of the ‘Hinayana’ – such as Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakosa – and make genuine effort to understand them before they refute them with the higher philosophy of Madhyamaka. Philosphically, I agree with them: the Madhyamaka is a better philosophical approach than that of the early Buddhist Abhidhamma schools. Where the Tibetans go astray, in my opinion, is the assumption that the Abhidharma represents early Buddhism; in fact it represents the situation in the middle period of Buddhism. Authentic early Buddhist texts are not studied in the Tibetan system. The Tibetans should be forgiven this error, however, since even the Theravadins themselves make the same mistake.

      The Theravadins don’t do the Mahayana the dignity of actually studying their texts before refuting them. They simply ignore everything outside their own texts – actually, for the most part they don’t really read even their own canonical texts. Hence, as we have seen in the communications from WPP, the word ‘Mahayana’ is used devoid of any meaningful doctrinal or historical content. It is simply a term of abuse, which means ‘outsiders’, ‘heretics’, ‘those who have lost the plot’.

    • I am waiting with bated breath for the response of the other Western Ajahns to the serious mis-truths that have been spoken in this press conference.

      Surely Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Nyanadhammo, are not going to support this? Ajahn Nyanadhammo, KNOWS, and we know that he knows, that untrue things have been spoken here. Are the western ajahns going to go along with this? Are they going to keep supporting such a system? Or are they just going to start talking about ‘harmony'; which would be a most inappropriate thing to start talking about at this particular point; I think, ‘truth’ and ‘courage’ should be the currency right now.

      What kind of organisation states that it is up to the laypeople here…and then goes around ringing the Thai lay people here to canvas their support?

      Are the western WPP ajahns in NZ, the Americas and Europe finally going to show some courage, face some facts and set about promoting Buddhism instead of contributing to its downfall?

  21. Having spent time in both Bodhinyana and WPN, I think the move by WPP is about money. Bodhinyana is by far a very large margin the better funded monastery. WPP having realised that AB is effectively sitting on top of a cash cow now wants access to it.
    WPP succeeds in replacing AB and Bodhinyana will become an ethnic Thai temple. Odd this….how many WA or Aussie born Thais have ordained in Bodhinyana over the years?

  22. Are there any moderating voices within the Thai lay community — associated with Wat Bodhinyana — that could appeal to Ajahn Khampong etc – to not pursue this increasingly disastrous and divisive path they are on?
    To rip apart the supporting community of Wat Bodhinyana in this way would be a nightmare…
    Where are the moderating voices in the WPP Western and Thai monastic sangha????

  23. A couple of extra things have been mentioned over on Facebook. The press conference was reported in the Thai Daily News (http://dailynews.co.th/newstartpage/printmode.cfm?categoryid=38&contentid=39984). According to Mushy of facebook, Phra Opas states that Thai Buddhists in Australia gave that land to Ajahn Chah when Ajahn Chah visited Perth. This is nonsense: Ajahn Chah never went to Australia.

    Bodhinyana was established under the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, which from its inception has been a multicultural body. The Thai community, both in Perth and Thailand, has, as always, been very generous in its support, but it is hardly the only community that has contributed. In fact, most of the Perth Thai community visit the monastery for dana and so on, but are not members of the BSWA.

    There is also a new claim, that Ajahn Brahm has insulted and denigrated Thailand in a talk he gave in Singapore. I haven’t heard the talk, but frankly such claims are once again quite out of line. It’s quite possible Ajahn Brahm may have criticized aspects of Thailand or Thai Buddhism – as the monks in Thailand very often do. What do they expect him to do, after the way he has been treated? This has nothing to do with his management of Bodhinyana or bhikkhuni ordination.

    What’s coming out here is really just an expression of the parochialism of some of the Thai Sangha. They really believe they are Buddhism. When a senior Thai monk was staying in Bodhinyana, he always used to ask the lay people, ‘How many Thai people are there today?’ Eventually one of the long term Western women got fed up, and said: ‘None – so you’ll just have to put up with us, then.’ Ajahn Brahm has been very clear on this; he said one time to a group of Thai people: ‘This is not a Thai monastery, it’s an Australian monastery.’ The Thai people agreed – that’s what they want, it’s what they are proud of, and it’s what has a future.

    • “There is also a new claim, that Ajahn Brahm has insulted and denigrated Thailand in a talk he gave in Singapore.”

      The youtube videos for the talks seem to have been deleted and I haven’t found any others, but it might be the speaker before Ajahn Brahm who may have made comments about the Thai monks that upset them, not Ajahn Brahm himself. Not sure though and the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore doesn’t seem to carry that particular talk.

  24. If it is the same Ajahn Khampong that i am thinking it is, with close friendship with some of those very senior WPP monks, he actually visited me in hospital when i was very ill after staying a rains retreat with one of these great monks. (Truly i do not regret my time staying there, wonderful opportunity).
    He is a monk i had wanted to meet, as soon as i even heard his name, my heart felt a connection. My wish was answered . He strode into my hospital room , where i lay , unable to move. And he grinned warmly , then said ” You will either recover and then die. Or you won’t recover and then die”. It was wonderful. Very liberating.

  25. *sigh*

    This just isn’t the Buddhism I signed on for. While I am well aware that even in the Buddha’s time the Sangha got its knickers all in a twist, bickering over minutia, I also remember that the Buddha simply got up and went wandering.

    I am grateful for your clear and compassionate voice, Ajahn Sujato. Despite being many, many kilometers away on the other side of the planet, I consider you one of the closest to the Buddha’s intentions.

    Thank you.

  26. Sudarsha :
    *sigh*
    This just isn’t the Buddhism I signed on for. While I am well aware that even in the Buddha’s time the Sangha got its knickers all in a twist, bickering over minutia, I also remember that the Buddha simply got up and went wandering.
    I am grateful for your clear and compassionate voice, Ajahn Sujato. Despite being many, many kilometers away on the other side of the planet, I consider you one of the closest to the Buddha’s intentions.
    Thank you.

    Oops, I seem to have got my tang a but tungled: what I was thinking, which didn’t flow out through my fingers onto the keyboard was that despite your being many, many kilometers away on the other side of the plante, I consider you, Ajahn Sujato, a very close, personal teacher and one of the closest teachers I know to the intentions of the Buddha.

    Again, thank you for your courage, your clarity and your commitment to the Dhamma.

    S

  27. Discussing this this morning, one of our guests said how she, after listening to Ajahn Brahm’s talks for many years, had got this idea of Thailand as like a divine, perfect, Dhamma land. He has spoken so positively and supportively for so many years.

    It’s extraordinary how quickly the WPP Sangha is spending its spiritual capital. Almost all of the positive representation of Thai Buddhism in the international context has been through the work of the Western monks. Unlike Burma or Sri Lanka, Thailand has never developed an effective overseas missionary arm. Now, for the first time, the international community is hearing the Thai Sangha, at least a small part of it, speak directly for itself. The outcome is not encouraging. Decades of positive depictions of Thai Buddhism by Western monks are being undone in a few weeks.

  28. sujato :
    Almost all of the positive representation of Thai Buddhism in the international context has been through the work of the Western monks… Thailand has never developed an effective overseas missionary arm. Now, for the first time, the international community is hearing the Thai Sangha, at least a small part of it, speak directly for itself. The outcome is not encouraging. Decades of positive depictions of Thai Buddhism by Western monks are being undone in a few weeks.

    Dear Aj Sujato,

    I’m a Thai, born and bred in Thailand. Like many of my peer, we think that the Thai Sangha is degrading and there are only a handful, if any, of monks who deserve our respect and we are saddened by the thoughts.

    Only after I’ve listened to Ajahn Brahm’s teachings have I started to understand dhamma discovered by the Buddha and found the marvelous teachings of Ajahn Chah’s.

    I don’t know whether or not Phra Kru Opas and Pra Khu Khampong truly represent WPP, but if they are actually pursuing what they told the press they are doing, I feel sad for them and WPP.

    Ajahn Chah is believed to be an Arahant, so there is no Ajahn Chah any more to feel saddened by or ashamed of his disciples’ actions or speech. Indeed, those who are to lose will be Thai people in Thailand. They will either lose respect for the WPP tradition or get enslaved in the emotions aroused by some monks’ akusala kamma.

    I would like to repeat that Australian, especially Perth, people are really lucky people.

    With great respect to Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato,

    Dheerayupa
    (Mushy Mushroom on Facebook)

    P.S. The lay community supporting Ajahn Mitsuo Gavesago, a disciple of Ajahn Chah, are organising an almsgiving to 99 monks followed by a fund-raising for a meditation building in Bangkok on Jan 3. I wonder if any of the WPP administrative committee member will be there.

  29. Sorry, yesterday I was very busy and did not have time to check all newspapers. The press conference held by Phra Kru Opas and others as told by Khun Sanitsuda Ekachai was reported on Thai Rath as well as Daily News:

    1. Daily News. Page 14 under the headline “Luang Phu Chah’s monastery in Australia demanded back”.

    2. Thai Rath. Page 1 and 11 under the headline “The (WPP) Sangha demanded back the monastery in Perth”.

    This paper reported that the monk representing WPP maintained that Somdet Buddhajahn ordered the revocation of Ajahn Brahm’s preceptor status as granted by the Thai Sangha. The paper, like Daily News, gave inaccurate information that the land of Bodhiyana Monastery was given to Ajahn Chah during his visit to Perth. Like Daily News, it said that WPP already asked Ajahn Brahm to come to Thailand on Jan 16 to make an apology but Ajahn Brahm said no.

    • ‘They council says it “wants the temple back”. It claims Bodhinyana Temple was built primarily with money donated by the Thai disciples of the late Luang Por Chah.

      They said they did not know how to proceed with their grievances under the Australian legal system, and have asked the Office of National Buddhism for help.’

      These people are trying to spread fear and I don’t want to buy into it but I think it may be prudent to get some legal advice and talk to the Aus Government about this.

      Furthermore, it may be possible to obtain records of donations made… As someone who has made several small donations over the years, I certainly do not want Ajahn removed as Abbot.

      Just hypothetically though (and I know I’m a little rattled and therefore not in the present moment at all) if they succeed in taking over and occupying B. Monastery then we’ll all just have to start a new place and all the monks will have to go there. It’s just a place. Its the people that are there that make it important.

    • Dear kanchana,

      Really, please do not worry. It’s all just bluster. The sound you are hearing is not the collapse of Bodhinyana; it is the collapse of the credibility of WPP. Stay clear, and stand firm. She’ll be right.

    • Can monks raise funds by giving talks all over the world? Can they solicit for money all over the world for their centres or monasteries. It is all based on trust but the donors do not get any audited accounts or receipts for their donations.

      Some of them by way of dinners and shows but the money channel overseas. Donors would not know whether their donations would be properly used or not or whether there is any mismanagement of funds.

    • Dear Maya,

      The accounts of the BSWA are open and professionally audited. Anyone can get a copy. I too run a monastery in Australia, and I know how complex and stringent the financial regulations for charities are here. The BSWA has operated for several decades without any hint or shadow of financial mispropriety. The claims by these monks are nothing but malicious inventions.

    • Dear Ajarhn
      Since you suggest, why not you post it online the fund to Jhana Groove Retreat Centre & Bodhiyana Monastery from out of Autstralia o.e fund raising funds from overseas, since BSWA claimed that the Society is funded by Australians.

      We believe that most of the funds for the building and completion of Jhana Grovve Retreat Centre came from overseas in particular, Singapore & Malaysia. If this is not true, please proof it that it came from the Australians for purpose of transparency and accountability. Thank you.

    • Hi Bodhi,

      If you want specific answers to these questions, best to contact the BSWA directly. I don’t have any institutional links with them. But i’m sure they’d be happy to answer your questions.

    • Even though part of the funds has come from Thailand, how can one know that those Thais want Bodhiyana to be governed by WPP, and not to be cared for by Aj. Brahm?

      I’ve made some donations to Bodhiyana and Jhana Grove, and though I am a Thai, I don’t want WPP to own Bodhiyana and convert it to an ethnic monastery. Bodhiyana is best to be an international monastery for the global community’s benefits.

      I don’t think any one single entity can and should claim to represent ALL Thai donors. It will only lead to breaking the fourth precept.

      Simply because some monks who want to claim the ownership of Bodhiyana are Thai, they cannot claim they represent me. Please do not break the fourth precept.

      I beg all to be be heedful and mindful about what action you are to take.

      With metta to all.

      Dheerayupa

    • Bodhi, where did you get this? I don’t think the BSWA ever stated that they were solely financed by Aussies! Please contact the BSWA so you can get your facts straight.

  30. Thanks, Bill, for giving the link to the Bangkok Post report. This sentence in the news report:

    If action is not taken, the council fears that more women could be ordained in the West.

    gives me a big smile. :-)

    With metta to all the monks who oppose Bhikkhuni ordinations. May they be shown the way out of their suffering.

    Yours in dhamma,

    dheerayupa

  31. This is not about Buddhism its about cultures….the sooner that the teachings of the Buddha are free of cultural influences the better!

    I look forward to the growth of a Western Sanghas based upon universal human values in particular, recognition that women are equal in all ways to men. Maybe its time for Australian Forest Traditions……I am amazed that the Thai monks seem to believe that they somehow own the teachings of the Buddha

  32. I cannot believe the lies, yes lies, that these ‘monks’ are bringing forth. Perhaps they are unintentional lies and lies as such; perhaps just borne of sheer ignorance of the realities of the situation but just out of curiousity what is the ‘penalty’ for lying as a monk?

    Bodhinyana Monastery is directly linked to the Buddhist Society of WA. It is not a Thai temple. Never has been. The BSWA invited Ajahn Chah to send monks over and that is where the links to Thailand come from. And that is it.

    I think the Thais over here are experiencing some conflict about which way to go. I met one lady at a local shopping centre and she said she ‘loved Ajahn Brahm’ but was unhappy with something he had said in his Singapore talk; she said she’d listened to a CD of it. I was paying for my purchases so didn’t have time to pursue the matter further.

    I remember several years ago a Thai woman I met outside of the temple context referring to Dhammaloka Buddhist Center as the Thai Temple. I didn’t want to correct her because it didn’t seem that important at the time.

    • Dear kanchana,

      For the record, the penalty for lying as a monk is a pācittiya; that is, one has to simply confess it to another monk. Of course, lies come in all shapes and forms, and many of them may be minor. In the Vinaya, to be construed as a lie the monastic must be clearly aware before, during, and after their speech that what they say is untrue, and they must say it with the deliberate intention to deceive others.

  33. Hi All

    Fear through propaganda has been used throughout history

    Recognise the statements from WPP for what they are, deceptive, one sided falsehoods designed to create uncertainty amongst right thinking people and also in this case trying to generate some Thai nationalistic empathy

    With Metta
    Bill

  34. Ajahn Sujato is quite correct in stating that Bodhinyana is multicultural. My friends and acquaintences are Anglo-Saxon/Celtic white fellas who speak with an Aussie twang, Chinese from either Singaporean/Malayasian backgrounds, Sri Lankans, Thai, New Zealanders, South African, Burmese, Laotian, Vietnamese, Italian, Japanese, British, American, Canadian, Anglo-Indian…

    Its one of the things I love the most about the BSWA community; the real harmony and comraderie that exists between its widely diverse members and friends.

  35. Ajahn Sujato,

    From what little I know about Australian law, it would be impossible for Thai monks to have any real power over Bodhinyana Monastery. However, these people seem to be powerful and egotistical and perhaps even cunning…perhaps we need to get some legal advise on this matter and perhaps even contact the government to ensure that we are covering all our bases? What do you think?

    • Dear Kanchana,

      Well, this is a matter for the BSWA committee together with Ajahn Brahm to consider. Personally, I think the whole thing is so ridiculous that it should be ignored. But then, the monks of WPP have in these times repeatedly fallen beneath my very low expectations, so who knows what they are capable of?

  36. Re land ownership – Abhayagiri Monastery in the US was built on land donated by Master Husan Hua – a Chinese master – and also in corporates a house and land that belonged to an American lay women who died and bequethed the land for nuns.

    As far as I know, a large percentage of both costs of land and running costs of Ratanagiri & Hatrridge monasteries in the UK are donated to by Westerners – and also Chithurst 100 acre forest was donatated by a UK man – and the house brought by UK was from EST money – invested right from 1956
    Amaravati is less clear to me ..at least a large part of the temple was due to Thai offerings.

    It may be a suprise for these Thai Ajahns from WPP to understand how much non Thai financial support there has actually been offered towards the Western monateries.

    • also – just remembering – the first nun’s cottage in the UK was donated entirely from a UK donor – second cottage was contributed too significantly by UK based thai supporter who supports bhikkhuni ordination –

      Whoever gave what – the offerings of finances, land, service and practice by thousands and thousands over 30 years presence of the Ajahn Chah lineage in the West has been done by a multi ethnic group – with hundreds of Westerners offering years of their lives into the training and building of the monasteries..

      It is obvious that without significant support from Thailand what has flowered in the West could not have happened – and of course the debt of gratitude to LP Chah for taking on Westerners in the first place is incalculable – Up until now, i have only heard appreciation for all that the Thai community has offered and supported in the West.
      All of this offering – back and forth – has had much good faith, generosity and heart within it –
      To read these words of those who supposedly represent WPP sullies the purity and beauty of these offerings.
      I strongly feel that there needs to be more moderate monks who can appeal to those flaming the fire – to not pursue this rhetoric – it won’t benefit anyone in the end.

    • Dear Thanissara,

      Well, we’re safe here: our land was donated by Elizabeth Gorski, now bhikkhuni Nirodhā! And one of the first trustees was Ayya Khema.

      This talk of donations seems to miss out a little point: giving is giving. You donate something to others, you don’t keep control of it yourself. Whatever donations have been made to whatever societies by whoever, the donations were a conscious act of selfless giving. You can’t undo that, and it’s highly unwholesome even to try.

      Let us leave aside for now the question of where the donations come from and look at the principles involved.

      What we are witnessing here is the Dhammic equivalent of ‘tied aid’. when developed nations give aid to undeveloped countries, they usually tie that to certain conditions, such as who the building contracts or financial arrangements must be done with. These conditions always benefit the donor nation. This practice, it is convincingly argued, undermines the very nature of aid, and seriously reduces any benefit for the receiving country. WPP now wants the same principle to be applied: the donors have the right to withdraw their donations if they don’t like what the monks have done. How far does this go, i wonder – can they take back the life of a monk who has eaten their food?

      But the suggestion by WPP is even more unethical than the practice of tied aid. At least then, the developing nation has the option; they see the contract, can negotiate it, and choose not to sign. But under the WPP proposal the donations should be withdrawn after the event, with the recipient having no input.

      The donations to the BSWA have been used better than just about any donations given anywhere else. They were given to build a monastery – the monastery is there, it is full of monks who are well-conducted and practice Dhamma sincerely. They have built the Dhammaloka center, Dhammasara, and the Jhana Grove, all of which were well planned, executed, and completed in accordance with the donor’s wishes and fulfill their stated purpose. The irony is that it is precisely because Ajahn Brahm has done such a magnificent job that he has created a thriving and prosperous center, which greedy and envious eyes now want for themselves.

    • Its disgraceful that monks in positions of power are asking for gifts given to be returned. Simply disgraceful! And yes, it does sully the beautiful generosity that went into these gifts, that they would seek such an unwholesome outcome.

      Anyway, I think, once the donation is given, legally, it cannot be un-given.

      Just to add to this…to my knowledge the land for Dhammasara Nuns Monastary was offered by a couple who had a baby girl; they wanted their daughter to have the chance to ordain, if she ever wanted to. :) Makes me feel warm inside! :)

    • If the WPP has any claim on Bodhinyana and its assets then all Australian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan (and many other nationalities) donors to Bodhinyana should be able to make a counter claim on WPP!!

      This whole thing has gone beyond stupidity and is a disgrace to Buddhism, thanks to the monks, both Thai and Western, who speak on behalf of the WPP.

      If they keep it up then we know who actually caused the demise of Buddhism in this world – it certainly will not be the bhikkhunis!

    • Giving is the practice of cultivating generosity. The Perfection of Giving (dana-paramita) can be characterized by unattached and unconditional generosity, giving and letting go.

      I wonder how will people be able to develop the dana-paramita when they are taught to give with conditions (of not ordaining bhikkhunis) attached. Besides, the donor of the land have become a bhikkhuni . She would no doubt understand the idea and concept behind offerings.

  37. Lately I have been thinking that the Buddha’s four assemblies was the accepted format and model for a Buddhist society. If your nation does not subscribe to the Buddha’s format as preserved in the Tipitaka – the nation should do more to align itself with the tradition of elders, who preserved the concept of the four-assemblies, from the Tipitaka. No one has ever tried to edit this down into the Three-assemblies, correct? What??? Your nation never had bhikkhuni’s? Well, then – what’s wrong with your nation… it’s better sooner to follow the Buddha, rather than following the nationalistic-ego… It’s rather ridiculous for Buddhist people to be posturing against the Buddhist teachings! But, what do I know?????

    Titles are not everything. I’ve gotten interviews from maechii’s stating that they are not interested in becoming bhikkuni’s because they feel that they can achieve ‘liberation’ in their current state… this process of ‘becoming’ becomes a distraction to them… as they are practicing now – no need for more precepts… So people can differ – sociology is great!

    On another note: I read from Venerable Thanissaro (in a different post/letter) that what would invalidate this ordination was the number of women ordained. He stated that only two can be ordained at a time… (right?) – and for this instance in Australia there was, what, four? So, every thing went perfectly, except that Ajahn Brahm, ordained two too many?

    • Dear All,

      Came across a Buddhism book on Tipitaka. An extract of it:-

      “When a dispute arises over the Dhamma and Vinaya, any decision should be arrived at through consensus by referring to the Four Great Authorities(Mahaparinibbana Sutta). So the question of a democratic or a monarchial system of government does not arise”.

      It is a well-known fact that within the Sangha, respect is accorded based on seniority not on attainment.

      In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the Buddha had stressed that for the growth of the bhikkhus “they should show respect, honour, esteem and veneration towards the elder bhikkhus, those of long standing, long gone forth, the fathers and leaders of the Sangha, and deem it worthwhile to listen to them”.

      Did AB & the Bhikkhunis follow this part of the Vinaya by listening to the Western Elders?

    • Dear Buddhasasana,

      Two things need to be clarified in your references here. The ‘Four Great Authorities’ (actually, ‘References’ is a better rendering) are spoken of in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (translated here; scroll down to The Four Great References). They establish, in conformity with many other passages in Dhamma-Vinaya, that it is the Buddha’s teachings as remembered and passed down that constitute the final authority, not the opinions of any monk or group of monks, no matter how senior or respected.

      The nature of seniority is, as you say, that Elders ‘should be listened to’. Yes, we have listened to what the Elders say, respectfully and sincerely for a long time. We have studied it, discussed it, scrutinized, and reflected on it in the light of the Dhamma-Vinaya, as prescribed in the Four Great References. And we disagree. We believe, and have explained why at length and in detail, that their position is both factually mistaken and harmful. We cannot in all good faith continue to follow the course of action they insist on.

  38. thanissara :
    I strongly feel that there needs to be more moderate monks who can appeal to those flaming the fire – to not pursue this rhetoric – it won’t benefit anyone in the end.

    Yes, indeed. And a resounding sadhu to the monks on the ‘inside’ who, eventually, choose to take up this challenge.

    It is worth remembering that Bhante Sujato has, for a long time now, been considered an outsider by the WPP orthodoxy. The reason for the unprecedented backlash against Ajahn Brahm is that he was a WPP insider with much prestige.

    Ajhan Brahm assisted in the ordination of the Dhammasara Bhikkhunis naive to the extreme-reactionary forces within the WPP leadership, both Western and Thai.

    Therefore, the level of moral courage that Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahm needed in order to facilitate the Dhammasara ordinations was actually less than what will be require of any WPP insiders who choose to step up now.

    If there are monks inside WPP who are genuinely concerned about the damage done to the faith of the faithful caused by recent disharmony in the WPP sangha, then there is no better way to restore both faith and harmony than by demonstrating the strength of their practice, moral courage, freedom, compassion and wisdom by stepping up as moderating forces, as bridges, as those who would unify those who are divided, as those who would give us all something to believe in in these most difficult of times.

    >j<

  39. Dear Bhante and all,
    Bhante makes a vital point here- i had been thinking the same and wondering why people are second guessing and dishonouring the spirit of previous givings…

    Please read this excerpt of Bhante’s again and if you are confused about giving, please take heed !

    ” This talk of donations seems to miss out a little point: giving is giving. You donate something to others, you don’t keep control of it yourself. Whatever donations have been made to whatever societies by whoever, the donations were a conscious act of selfless giving. You can’t undo that, and it’s highly unwholesome even to try.” Bhante Sujato

    Thank you

  40. sujato :

    The irony is that it is precisely because Ajahn Brahm has done such a magnificent job that he has created a thriving and prosperous center, which greedy and envious eyes now want for themselves.

    When simple people refuse to acknowledge the realities of a complex world, simplicity mutates in ignorance, and delusion, and all that follows from there.

    We may give those monks who comprised the WPP board which called the press conference the benefit of the doubt. It is quite possible that whatever ill intentions they possess are obscure to them, unconscious.

    Ok. With a deep breath, I am willing to make an effort to lower my expectations of sangha members even further. With time, I can accept that some people progress in practice significantly slower than others.

    But where are the well-practising monks? Why do we allow those of less Dhammic talent, time and time again, to inhabit leadership positions? Why do we allow those who are ignorant of Dhamma and Vinaya to represent Buddhism?

    Or, if those who are clear-minded and wise are in some leadership positions, why do they not have the courage to speak up? What do true recluses, ascetics and bhikkhus, those who have given up everything, have to lose?

    Is it ethical for one to standby silent when it is within one’s power and scope to help alleviate suffering?

    >j<

  41. Does anyone know how the abbots of the western monasteries are reacting to this news? Is it possible that we could be seeing the separation of the western monasteries from WPP?

    • James, This is a good question.
      Ven Sona’s preceptor supports Bhikkhunis yet if you listen to his report from the WAM, it appears his judgement leans towards maintaining his listing with WPPS.
      To my astonishment one of my teachers reminded me of one of Ven Sumedho’s impending international visits this summer. I ponder whether he meant it as if I would sincerely want to sit with Ajahn Sumedho again in feigned bliss or take him on in a Vinaya debate.
      We need to ask ourselves what role we play in all of this. In the early days after the outcry, my energy persisted because of my recollection in the following:

      Yet, bhikkhus, whoever encourages their faithless parents, and settles and establishes them in faith; or whoever encourages their immoral parents and settles and establishes them in morality, or whoever encourages their stingy parents, and settles and establishes them in generosity, or whoever encourages their foolish parents, and settles and establishes them in wisdom – such a person, in this way repays, more than repays, what is due to their parents.
      Anguttara Nikaya: Twos, 32

      I have swayed between thinking it arrogant of me to consider contributing to the establishment of my teachers in right view vs. ingracious by not trying to do so/ btw somewhere in the middle – hunkering down in my own practice not doing anything until I can do something skillfully.

      How can we obtain answers to your questions skillfully? I cannot see reasonable men or women holding their heads high amidst all of this nonsense. If any significant percentage of lay followers catch wind of the truth, I cannot see the support continuing in a manner that sustains what has been generated until the WPPS reactions.

    • Didn’t the Buddhist Channel declare it wouldn’t become involved in any of the Bhikkuni controvery and yet has so far published at least two articles on the WPP actions and thoughts? I hope very much they will publish the BSWA response, even though the thing is so ridiculous it doesn’t really merit one.

  42. Dheerayupa :Dear Kanchana,
    I totally am with you on Points 1 and 2; however, your Point 3 really hurts my feelings coz I’m a Thai, living in Thailand. However, it does not mean that I disagree with you.
    Living in Thailand, I’ve seen so many unwholesome kamma committed by men in robes and felt discouraged until I’ve heard good teachings from Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Chah.
    You are lucky, Kanchana, for having the wonderful opportunity to live near dhamma and good dhamma teachers.
    Metta to all,

    Dearest Dheerayupa,

    I am so so sorry to have hurt your feelings.

    At this point and as far as this press conference goes, my faith in Thailand as a Buddhist country is somewhat shattered. However, as I understand it, there are many reasons why you as a Thai Buddhist woman should feel outstandingly proud of your country.

    Thailand produced Ajahn Mun, Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Tate and others like them. Thailand is still, as far as I know, the home of several Enlightened beings. Thailand is home to a group of brown robed Buddhist nuns who are very bravely getting on with their practise despite being outside of the ‘buddhist establishment’ there. As in any institutionalised religion, there will be those who are faithless and those who are full of faith; you are one who is full of faith and I am so grateful that you are there.

    Please forgive me for causing you pain.

    You are also lucky Dheerayupa, because you live in land where there are still blessings to be found. Furthermore, you are obviously a woman with a predisposition towards openness and questioning and seeking the truth; so you are lucky. You are also one of the lucky minority who knows virtuous, wise and sensible members of the four-fold assembly; you are one of the lucky minority who has heard of the Buddha, who has faith in him and who has heard of nibbana, the four noble truths and the possibility of the end of suffering; you are one of the lucky minority that practices the cultivation of the 8 fold path. :) You too, are so lucky.

    With lots of metta from your friend in the Dhamma.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      I was teasing you. :-)

      I am under no illusion about my country. I do not hate it, though. Thailand, like any other form of existence, has two bad bricks.

      I believe that blind nationalism only leads to a nation’s downfall. Likewise, if Thai monks or WPP monks blindly believe that they are the best, they will never get enlightened.

      Deep gratitude to Ajahn Brahm, to Ajahn Chah for giving great training to Ajahn Brahm, and to various nationals for having been supporting Ajahn Brahm.

      I will do my utmost to try to practice the 8-fold path.

      May we all make a New Year resolution that not only do we actively learn dhamma, but we will also earnestly practice what we’ve learnt.

      With lots of metta to you and all our friends in dhamma.

  43. sujato :
    …it’s not so different from the way that the Dhammayuttika Nikaya in Thailand will treat other bhikkhus. Or, indeed, the way that Wat Nanachat and other WPP branches treats any monastic who is outside their little circle. They are made to sit at the end of the line, regardless of their seniority, they are excluded from Sangha acts, and generally are treated as if they are only semi-ordained.

    Dear Aj Sujato,

    Your comment reminds me of an incident told by Ajahn brahm in one of his talks that one day when Ajahn Chah was away, a monk in bright yellow robes (= city monk) came to Wat Pah Pong and was treated the way you described above. He did not complain or anything, but later left WPP. Ajahn Brahm said that after Ajahn Chah came back, they all learnt that that monk was a very good monk and committed meditator who came to WPP to seek Ajahn Chah’s advice on advanced meditation.

    This story tells us that WPP is not Ajahn Chah. We, still full of attachments, want so much to have a little of Ajahn Chah to cling so; thus, WPP or WPP tradition is our dhamma lifeline. We should have been more wise to understand that even when Ajahn Chah was alive, some of his disciples did not practice what Ajahn Chah did.

    Instead of looking at the two bad bricks, we should be grateful that Ajahn Chah did embrace westerners with great compassion and did his best to train western monks to bring dhamma teachings to the west. Among the 998 wonderful bricks are Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Sujato and all the good monks at Bodhiyana.

    • I remember hearing this story of the monk in bright yellow robes…apparently he had 3rd Jhana and was wanting to learn how to progress from there. Because he was ignored, he just moved on.

    • Attachment to self is a big obstacle to overcome, is it not?

      We can only hope that men who have enter monkhood will work harder to purify their mind and let go of their sakkaya-ditthi…

  44. Dear Ajahn Sujato- please answer/comment on this if possible:

    I am trying to actually remain as objective as possible. I am trying to not get swayed by the group think that is here to a certain extent, yes…it is. Albeit i know it comes from sincere care .
    My friend read your opening blog piece at the top.
    Your writing is so clever and bold.
    Yet, he said ‘Surely, it is the exception and not the rule that such scandals and actions as are described occur’….( or words to that effect.
    I have been reflecting on this alot Ajahn. Because, from your words, Thai Buddhism looks extremelly and thoroughly corrupt- at least the Buddhism not practised in the Forest Tradition. And now even that, according to these pictures and the news, appears in a dire state. Please listen…don’t just skim over…..are you saying in yourself…’yes it is extremelly and thoroughly corrupt ‘.

    I said , disbelievingly – almost wanting and wishing i could laugh…..to my friend…”yes i guess we couldn’t assume that it is a high percentage of monks in Thailand that act in these ways….i mean it couldn’t be fifty per cent or more….
    I mean, it woul donly be a few……i mean……we need to assume innocent before guilty , right ? ”

    Right?

    You only have one statistical record – and that was shocking ! But the rest…?

    Anyway, i just needed to say that i can’t accept, call me what you will, that it is truly as bad as you depict ?!

    But i am grateful to realise and know what may be not as good as thought…just so i know.
    It is good to know.

    Thanks.

    • Dear Belle,

      It’s very hard to know exactly how good or bad things are. For percentages, well one Thai ex-monk friend told me, from his own experience, that he thought that 70% of Thai monks just did whatever they wanted – anything at all.

      Obviously, things are different all over, and neighbouring monasteries may be, and frequently are, completely different in their practice. The picture that I have painted is, in my opinion, a pretty normal depiction of how things are from the perspective of the Thai Forest Tradition itself. A few years ago, there were monks marching in angry protest on Bangkok streets, and Ajahn Maha Bua was quoted on the front page of the papers calling those monks ‘mangy dogs’.

      It is also one that I have confirmed in my own experience, so far as it goes, both through seeing the monks and through talking with people, and is borne out by the various scandals reported in the media and so on. In my opinion, to argue that these are just occasional exceptions is a bit like the Roman church arguing that cases of child abuse are just occasional exceptions.

      Of course there are many good monks as well, but they really are a small minority.

    • Dear Ajahn,
      I was not in any way trying to say i thought you were making it all up.But ,
      “A SMALL MINORITY ” of good monks ……. !!! Oh my gosh.
      Ajahn, this dreadfull if it is so.
      Excuse my shock at this point, as it seems something you are well used to…but i am in shock to hear that.

      I guess it is another help for me to stay grounded in my practise and keep seeing for myself.

      Thankyou Ajahn.

  45. Kanchana :
    Ajahn Sujato,
    From what little I know about Australian law, it would be impossible for Thai monks to have any real power over Bodhinyana Monastery. However, these people seem to be powerful and egotistical and perhaps even cunning…perhaps we need to get some legal advise on this matter and perhaps even contact the government to ensure that we are covering all our bases? What do you think?

    As a former president of the BSWA for 4 years I can assure you that outside bodies have no legal authority over the BSWA which is an independently incorporated, non-profit body legally registered in Western Australia. The legal requirements for incorporation as a non-profit organisation in WA were high to begin with, but were recently made even stricter to prevent the corruption and abuse. The Constitution of the BSWA goes beyond the requirements of the WA laws governing incorporated associations. Each year the BSWA submits its accounts for scrutiny by an external auditor. The Committee has always been committed to very high ethical standards when it comes to money (which has often had the effect of slowing down the decision making process, but for good reason – I often used to find all the checks and balances frustrating when I wanted to get things done, but now I can see it was all the lectures I’ve had from previous treasurers about diligence in authorizing and recording expenditure were well worth it).

    The BSWA has been scrupulous in its management. It would be extremely difficult for an individual or authority within Western Australia to find fault or successfully bring charges against the BSWA, let alone foreign authorities. And Aj Brahm has always insisted (as has Ayya Vayama) that the BSWA hold to such standards. Just how scrupulous is AB? On one occasion AB asked me for a small favour. He asked me to come into his modest quarters at Dhammaloka and remove some money which had mysteriously turned up on his bed-side table. I went in the room to discover a small coin there – 10 cents Singaporean! Not even legal tender in Australia – yet he did not want there to be any doubt so he asked me as a layman to remove it. This was emblematic of the standard taken.

    As has been accurately explained by both yourself and Aj Sujato, the BSWA was established by Australian citizens from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and the money contributed to the BSWA and its monasteries has come from a variety of sources. Notwithstanding the argument that a donation is given and provides no control in return, the claims that the Thai Sangha – or anyone else for that matter – have control over Bodhinyana by virtue of donations given by people of Thai descent stretches credibility to breaking point.

    For me, the behaviour of the WPP abbotts in this case seems to also indicate an some serious historical amnesia. When I read about the history of the Forest Ajahns like Luang Por Tate and Luang Por Maha Boowa, I was shocked when I read about how in decades past the Thai Sangha authorities persecuted the Forest monks, preventing them from going on Tudong and performing other practices intrinsic to their path and discipline. I even recall jealous monks burning down huts in one of Luang Por Tate’s monasteries. At that time I couldn’t believe that Buddhist sangha would do this to their fellow monks. I admired (and still do) the resolve and persistence of those Forest monks who stuck to their vinaya and dedication to practice despite opposition.

    Those who support Aj Brahm must see that he is now the one being persecuted and must have the resolve and dedication to support him and the new bhikkunis through this trial. Perhaps it’s time for us Western Buddhists to show that we too can demonstrate faith.

    peace; sol

    • Ajahn Sujato wrote:” our land was donated by Elizabeth Gorski, now bhikkhuni Nirodhā! And one of the first trustees was Ayya Khema.”

      Thanks for the info. Ajahn Sujato. It would be a great tragedy if someone take away Bhodinyana and allow it to become just another monastery where you just gather, socialize and observe empty rites and rituals that no one understand or care about and leave without knowing about the essence of Buddhism or the words of the Buddha. Some might be interested in mere rites and rituals but for people that are new to Buddhism, I don’t think they need someone to teach them how to perform a certain rituals . Instead , they would be more interested in the sublime teachings and words of the Buddha himself as well as getting down to the meditation techniques.

      Sol wrote: “the BSWA was established by Australian citizens from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and the money contributed to the BSWA and its monasteries has come from a variety of sources.”

      I would agree, there are many donors and devotees of Ajahn Brahm who reside in various regions of the world and have varied ethnic backgrounds. Just the BSWA forum showed members from a variety of countries around the world. I guess the reason is that this is not a typical monastery where people come to just see monks perform various rituals and ceremonies . It is a place where lay and monastics learn and practice the words of the Buddha , which is the essence of Buddhism. Now there is a great facility for lay people to go on personal retreats and attend conducted retreats. Thanks to fellow supporters and all who have taken part in creating an outlet for lay practitioners to practice the beneficial meditation technique of the Buddha. The ones who live in the area are most blessed, because it is so close and convenient. People who live half way around the world would have to pay thousands of dollars and fly thousands of miles to attend. May all the locals appreciate what they have and use it to further their practice.

  46. Dheerayupa :Attachment to self is a big obstacle to overcome, is it not?
    We can only hope that men who have enter monkhood will work harder to purify their mind and let go of their sakkaya-ditthi…

    You raise an interesting point…

    You know, imho, I think that we can try and minimise the effects of self-view (by meditating, cultivating virtue…) but can not stop it from controlling us until that moment of Stream Entry. This way of viewing the matter really helps me to be gentler with myself and more forgiving of myself and others…

    It also means that I don’t get myself into too much of a frenzy when I’ve been completely egotistical or self-ish! Since I started viewing things in this way, it has become easier to forgive and not judge too much. Ajahn Brahm always says that in Buddhism we can forgive anything.

    Having stated this does not mean that I want to support those who are behaving in an unwholesome manner. Nor does it mean that I won’t stand up for what’s right. It just means that I can understand why they do the things they do.

    Two quotes come to mind: ‘Love the tiger but at at distance.’ and ‘Light a candle rather than complaining about the darkness.’

    Sometimes you have to ‘do’, speak and be active. The 8 fold path comprises right intention, right speech and right action…these require that we activate our creativity and our courage.

    Interestingly, one of the things I learned through listening to Ajahn Brahm is that the reason that the Stream Enterer does not reappear in the lower realms is because of his/her ability to forgive…

    Lovely and rather interesting isn’t it?
    :) Happy New Year to All!

  47. Here’s an extract from the About Us page at Dhammalight: ‘The Wat Nong Pah Pong Sangha emphasizes that they are not against women taking higher ordination, but on the secretive and improper manner the bhikkhuni ordinations were conducted.’

    The secretive and improper manner is referring to the Perth monastics decision to keep the Oct 22 ordination under wraps. Just so you know, according to Vinaya, if a monk who was against the ordination was present with the legal ordination boundary or Sima, the ordinations would have been invalid. In light of recent history, the Perth monastics were 100% correct in keeping things secret. I can well believe that some of the monks in this press conference would have sent emissarier to render the proceedings invalid. I think all future Bhikkuni ordinations may need to be conducted in secret. Sad yes, but perhaps necessary.

    I am still waiting to hear what the Dhammalight-ers are going to say about this press conference. Do you suppose they were consulted? Do you suppose there was a lengthy inclusive period of consultation? In my opinion, the monk who is ringing the Thai laity in Perth in order to canvass support against AB is acting in a ‘secretive and improper manner’. In my opinion this press conference was conceived and conducted in a thoroughly ‘improper manner’.

  48. The profound misinformation that is found under the heading: ‘Bhikkuni’s problems’ on the Dhammalight website is truly disturbing. I shudder at the bad kamma of spreading this misinformation…

    They don’t know their own history, their own rules and so subsequently they do not know that the Lord Buddha left things in such a way that if society in general had been more open 1000 years ago, the Bhikkuni ordinations would have been reienstated at the very moment they ‘died out’. They miss also the truths within their own history and texts that show very very clearly that the Lord Buddha asked the Bhikku Sangha to protect, support and encourage the Bhikkuni Sangha. The Bhikkuni Sangha was good enough for the Buddha, it should be good enough for the monks at this press conference; perhaps they think they know better than the Buddha. Certainly they are not following His instructions since they seem to be seeking to obstruct the growth of the Bhikkuni Sangha.

    Its a precarious time for western monasterys in this tradition; may be they need to re-think their allegiances.

  49. Lest we suppose that problems in the Sangha are modern …

    Jantu Sutta

    Thus have I heard. Once a large number of bhikkhus were living among the Kosalans, on the slopes of the Himalayas, in a forest-lodging. And they were haughty, unsteady, garrulous, of loose speech, unmindful, thoughtless, without concentration, with wandering minds and faculties uncontrolled. Now Jantu, son of the devas, on a fifteenth-day Uposatha, came into the presence of those bhikkhus and addressed them in verse:

    Happy was the life in former times,
    Led by Gotama’s disciples then:
    Unhankering, they sought their frugal alms,
    Unhankering, their lodging and their bed.
    The world’s impermanence they understood:
    Knowing this, they made an end of woe.

    Now, making evil-doers of themselves,
    Just like village headmen they behave,
    Eating, eating, till they drop with sleep,
    Coveting the things their neighbor has.

    To the Sangha having paid respect,
    Certain bhikkhus present here I greet:
    Others are like outcasts, masterless,
    To the realm of hungry ghosts as if consigned.
    Those who thus persist in heedlessness
    Are they to whom my message is addressed.
    But to those who dwell in mindfulness
    I accord full honor and respect.
    – Samyutta Nikaya 2.25

    • Dear Visaka,

      Thankyou for sharing and quoting the Jantu Sutta here.
      I am very grateful to read it.

      Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu !

      Metta,
      Belle

  50. Dear Aussie Buddhist,

    Your judgement was absolutely VERY RUDE, guess typical of Aussies to others!!!
    Proud of it?? Shame on you. Not Buddhistic at all.We just blog & give our views but you were getting personal and went overboard with your criticism to humiliate and being sarcastic, another typical Aussie trait.

    • This is an interesting point. Especially given that two reoccurring themes on this blog are the relationship between Dhamma and culture, and the role of restraint of speech in Right Speech.

      I’m an Aussie. But I was brought up by Chinese parents. So I know well what Australia looks like from both the inside and outside. I think its important to practise mindfulness of both aspects of phenomenon – internal and external. Otherwise we can often come off as rude, when we ourselves perceive ourselves as simply striving to be authentic.

      Interestingly enough, because so many Australians are ‘born of two cultures’, another emerging ‘typical’ Australian trait is a deep sensitivity and respect for other cultures.

      In situations like this, the guidance we have from the Suttas is to not praise ourselves or disparage others, but to always speak on the Dhamma.

      >j<

    • Very good Jason, you are spot on. I see things from the outside and the inside too…I’ve been on that journey too.

    • You are correct Buddhist Group, it was rude, in reply to your aggression towards “Downunder” as being the cause of all evil in modern Buddhism (Anagarika Jason you are correct and right speech should be observed by all parties and for that I should have shown restraint and apologise)

      Buddhist Group you seem to forgotten to reply points points raised about the Thai Sangha and its movement away from Buddha Dhamma to being a business corporation, as well as the other points raised

      These points were bought up to show that it is not “Downunder” that has the issue with Buddhism but that the root cause is a corruption within the Thai Sangha

      I wait for your right speech reply

    • Dear Aussie Buddhist,

      Sorry, you are in denial mode. What, where & how caused all these “sparring” within the Sangha & within lay communities like us. Where is the origin of the problem? Thailand or Australia?

      ” When a dispute arises over the Dhamma and Vinaya, any decision should be arrived at through consensus by refering to the Four Great Authorities.

      So the question of a democratic or a monarchial system of government does not arise.”

      In the Mahaparinibbana Sutte, the Buddha had stressed that for the growth of the bhikkhus “they should show respect, honour, esteem and veneration towards the elder bikhhus, those of long standing, long gone forth, the fathers and leaders of the Sangha, and deem it worthwhile to listen to them”.

      My comment was not a personal attack on Australia, but was meant for Australia to resolve the issue amicably, although you have every right to defend, but the ultimate intention is to ask Australia to do some reflection on what was done without further consideration for the other Sangha as a whole in a unified and bilateral manner and procedure. Seek your forgiveness if that comment had hurt you. Right speech: Our sincere apology.

    • Dear Buddhist Group,

      Buddhist Group wrote : “Where is the origin of the problem? ”

      The ordination of bhikkhuni is in accordance with the Vinaya and has been done by numerous Theraveda Bhikkhus. Despite this fact, a senior monk claimed that the ordination was invalid because it is without the approval of the Sangha of Wat Pah Pong. It must be pointed out that for the dual ordination ceremony, no more than ten nuns and no more than ten monks are needed. Hence there was no need to get the consent of all the monks in WPP in Thailand. Ven. Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera also pointed out that Higher ordination is a sangha convention. And that ” For this purpose, consent or approval of other Sangha else where will not be necessary”.

      So to answer the question who is at fault, pacittiya 63 stated that ” Should any bhikkhu knowingly agitate for the reviving of an issue that has been rightfully dealt with, it is to be confessed. ”

      It should be obvious who is agitating an ordination that has been rightfully dealt with? The monks that wrongly punish Ajahn Brahm with all the excommunication, revoking of his title, and trying take away his monastery. I would like to ask Buddhist Group to do some reflection on what was done .

      Buddhist Group wrote that in the Mahaparinibbana Sutte, the Buddha had stressed that for the growth of the bhikkhus “they should show respect, honour, esteem and veneration towards the elder bikhhus, those of long standing, long gone forth, the fathers and leaders of the Sangha, and deem it worthwhile to listen to them”.

      Is it necessary for a person to blindly obey the ones ordained before him to be considered ” listen to them”. The Buddha actually suggests that we practice proper discernment before following other’s instructions. It is too far stretching to interpret the term ” respect” as to mean blind obedience.

      ” The principle of respect for seniority and all the manners associated with it are just that: manners and careful consideration for long experience and learning, not a justification for authority. Seniority, according to Vinaya, carries absolutely no authority at all independent of Dhamma-Vinaya, and it is not a justification for the traditional practice of hierarchy, which has its origins in medieval political shenanigans” – “Monastic lineages and the Vinaya: Which is Buddhist?”

  51. I’ve just made some major changes to this article. The original was cobbled together in bits and pieces, fitted into the middle of a morning’s work. I’ve tightened it up and removed some bits. Certain of the comments above might refer to removed or altered parts, so just beware of this.

  52. The statements in the Bangkok Post article referring to fear and control, well… they feel painfully honest. I can’t help but think that there are so many words other than ‘fear’ and ‘control’ that could be used when referring to the ordination of women, without directly permitting it – words like cooperation, support, partnership, etc.

    With its many Western bhikkhus, the WAM group could easily have become the global catalyst in mediating against misogyny in Buddhism, but instead has chosen to further entrench it. Surely this group, imprisoned in a bygone era, will eventually splinter or collapse altogether, for how will open-hearted, clear-thinking Dharma practitioners be able to support them in good conscience?

    As a Thai monk wrote in an email, “The important thing is that WAM (includes only WPP abbots) is not representing the abbots or monks from all the Theravada Buddhist countries. Since this sort of decision was essential (referring to the final WAM statement), then it should have been taken unanimously with all the prominent Theravada monks.”

    Outside of WPP, there are many monks – the world over – working in solidarity with women, who view bhikkhuni ordination as a great blessing, rather than as a grave threat. Dedicated women will continue to ordain, and dedicated bhikkhus and laypeople will continue to support them – in Sri Lanka (over 800 bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka now!), in Thailand (over 18 bhikkhunis in Thailand now!) in the West (all of our extraordinary Western bhikkhunis!), and elsewhere.

    Perhaps it is time to move beyond the WAM and WPP, knowing that whatever tradition we practice in, we are part of a sangha of women and men – not a sangha of men without women. There are many effective paths and means to bring about change, none of which need include the WAM/WPP groups directly; just as one can stand motionless in the middle of a Ho Chi Minh City street and have the traffic swirl around one like a river, so too can we swirl like a river around WAM/WPP. Whether they drown or move into the current remains to be seen.

    With gratitude, and loving-kindness to all suffering beings on this extraordinary Uposatha-End Year day.

  53. There is a positive side to all this…finally, the WPP (or at least monks who claim to be representatives of the WPP) has now made an official statement on the policy towards bhikkhuni ordinations – a big ‘NO’ to bhikkhuni ordinations.

    Since this has been made quite clear, it is time for all of us to move on. The WPP can stick to their ‘No Bhikkhuni’ policy and the rest can happily accommodate bhikkhunis just like during the time of the Buddha and continue on with the practice. The Western monks who support the WPP can continue pay lip service to the concept of bhikkhunis but I am sure their supporters will know where they stand with regards to this issue.

    If women want to pursue the Buddhist spiritual path they should keep away from WPP monasteries and seek those who will support them in Australia, Sri Lanka and other countries. Hopefully, there will be some monasteries for women in Thailand in time to come but given the world is a small place today in terms of travel, unlike during the Buddha’s time, even Thai women will find it easy to locate a monastery where they could practice without being discriminated.

    Also, the people and the legal systems of Australia are quite capable of dealing with the misconduct/mismanagement allegations of Ven. Brahm and the monks of the WPP need not burden themselves with that issue. Hopefully, they will use the time and energy for their own practice and for the benefit of their supporters.

    Let the new year bring peace to all.

    • Well said, Guptila.

      Happy New Year, everyone.

      May the new year peace, compassion and kindness to all beings.

      A.

  54. Dear ‘Buddhist Group’

    “What Buddha said was true that when there was Bhikkhunis ordination, the Dhamma would be shorten by half or 500 years.”

    It’s quite likely the Buddha himself never said that.

  55. Dear Maya

    The types of donations you are referring to are generally considered anonymous; the sort of donation you would put on a church plate, a donation box, a red cross collection tin. IMHO it sullys the beauty of this generosity to question in this fashion.

    Having said that I am very happy that you have asked these questions because we should be asking exactly these questions of any organisation. Accountability is very important.

    I invite you to attend a BSWA AGM where amongst other things, the treasure goes through the financial statements of the Society and where the auditors report/letter is presented.

  56. To all those who covet the property known as Bodhinyana Monastery:

    The Buddhist Society of Western Australia Incorporated (BSWA) owns all of Bodhinyana Monastery as well as Jhana Grove Meditation Retreat Centre, Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre and Dhammasara Nunnery.

    BSWA is a non-profit, tax exempt legally incorporated organization in Western Australia with its own constitution.

    It holds an annual general meeting once yearly to elect office bearers and to formally report to its members. At the AGM the president, secretary and treasurer present written reports to members.

    The accounts are audited by independent auditors annually and the treasurer presents them to the members for approval then they are submitted to the appropriate WA government body for further scrutiny.

    All donations given are accepted on the basis that they are given without duress, coercion or threat i.e. they are given freely without any expectation of reward or return.

    Those who want the property of Bodhinyana Monastery returned to a group of donors belonging to a certain ethnic group have as much chance of success as asking a monk to return donated food after he has eaten it. Not only that, the “donation” then becomes an unsought loan and would have been rejected in the first instance.

    BSWA is subject to Australian law at the federal, state and local government levels. A foreign government would have to breach international laws and conventions to bring in legislation allowing what the WPP monks desire. No sane government will do that.

    So there is zero chance that any foreign government will consider, less attempt to exercise jurisdiction outside its national borders and therefore Bodhinyana Monastery will never fall under the control of WPP monks.

    • hi Albert

      It may be possible for a ‘takeover’ to be achieved but outside elements infiltrating the group and getting elected as office holders.

      Maybe some of that donated food could be sent back to Phra Opas in Thailand instead?

      Ps. Phra Opas is abbott the forest temple in Korat. I recall reading about Ajahn Mahabua criticising a called forest temple in Korat. wonder if he was referring to Phra Opas’s temple?

    • Dear Bankei

      Theoretically possible but consider the fact that BSWA has 1000 or so members, all English speaking and who overwhelmingly support bhikkhuni ordination. To stack the numbers and take over the society will require something like 1000 new members to get a majority vote. Obviously present members must be proactive, keep up to date with developments and ensure they vote. So I would consider highly unlikely that Bodhinyan Monastery would be renamed Wat No Bhikkhuni!

  57. Dhammalight.org is refuting some of “senstationalist” statements implied in the article of 30th Dec. 2009, stating:
    “Although this matter has been cleared up within the Thai press, it seems that the
    article in English has stirred up and agitated Western readers. This has been caused
    by some misrepresentations of the events of the press conference and the editorial
    language used in the article.”

    http://dhammalight.com/official/pdf/Response_to_30_Dec_Article-02-01-10.pdf

    In particular, they want to make clear that “The issue is not that Wat Nong Pah Pong is against women ordaining, but rather due to Wat Nong Pah Pong’s status as a member of the
    Thai Sangha and its obligation to follow Thai Sangha Laws”.

    So basically, they maintain that their stance is coming from wanting to comply with Thai laws.

  58. Dear Ace and all,

    I by mistake submitted my ‘response’ to your post regarding the statement by WPP administrative committee posted on Dhammalight in ‘Transcript of WPP expulsion…” (Post # 76)

    My findings show that the statement is not truthful.

    Yours in dhamma,
    Dheerayupa

  59. Maya :
    Can monks raise funds by giving talks all over the world? Can they solicit for money all over the world for their centres or monasteries. It is all based on trust but the donors do not get any audited accounts or receipts for their donations.
    Some of them by way of dinners and shows but the money channel overseas. Donors would not know whether their donations would be properly used or not or whether there is any mismanagement of funds.

    Bodhinyana has the most scrupulously impeccable accounts of any of the Western monasteries, and invented the system for doing so -Aj Nyana copied it for WPN from Aj Brahm’s system after they had serious problems there, and Santi FM copied most of Aj Brahm’s system. I used to be Aj Brahm’s secretary for most of a year, I know Aj Brahm’s style of management is frighteningly well organised, frugal almost to a fault, -anybody who accuses Aj Brahm of mismanagement had better be joking.

  60. We are like the bugs, leaves and branches and Aj Brahm is like the main tree trunk that provide the foundation to many of us. If it drops, it can only be super bad news for buddhists in the Asia Pac. I certainly expect to see the responsible elder redo the achievements. A good lesson for all of us on Ego, money, greed, unfair rules, elimination and narrow thinking. And quite silly to even suggest involving the governments to solve family affair. Anyway, the Thai government is very busy now, no time for such 5 cents issue.

    • Dear Concerned person,

      Sorry, you are talking for yourself and you do not represent all buddhists in Asia Pacific. You talk like as if AB is a ring leader or a kind of cult leader where if the leader dies, all their followers die too. It is like a revolution.

      Please do not speak on our behalf in Asia Pac. For many of us, we consider all monks/nuns belong to the Sangha which in turn belongs to the Sasaana -(Buddha -Dhamma-Sangha).

      Life goes on for us in Asia Pac whether AB is excom or not (this is the Sangha internal affair not lay devotees). It would be a problem if you consider yourself a “follower” of a monk/nun “leader” (like idolising) and not a lay disciple of the Buddha’s Dhamma-Vinaya.We lay devotees should not interfere and intrude as we are not members of the Sangha. This is Sangha’s family affair. Journalist should also stay out of this as they would make matter worse due to prejudices and based on their outside views and opinions.

      Our Buddha foresaw that there would be problems if we “worshipped or idolizwd” monks/nuns, that was the reason Buddha did not appoint any successor after him but told us to rely on the Dhamma-Vinaya as our Teacher. If all the monks & nuns taught from the Buddha’s discourses, there would be no favouritism as strictly the monks and nuns are the representatives of one Sangha and not an individual anymore. Monks & Nuns are merged and pooles as one big Sangha whose job besides striving for liberation for themselves is to propagate the Buddha’s Dhamma and not to “gather moses”.

      Imo, the revival of Bhikkhuni is a very big issue and it must be agreeable to the whole Sangha unit by obtaining an overall consenseus.

      What AB did was with the intention to have his own movement both nun & lay followers in defiant of other Sangha and rebel his two Elders Sangha (members of the Sangha must respect its own code of ethics and strict discipline and heirachy) . AB should be mindful that he belongs to the Sangha and that he is not any ordinary independant party, individual or a “political camp” and preach a different dhamma from the others or from the original Dhamma.

      Imo, the motion to pass the nhikkhuni revival must be unanimous and must be carried out in harmony. Imo, all members of the Sangha must move together in any new policy involving the Sangha, at least in that particular tradition one belongs.

      Please withdraw your misrepresentation. Metta.

    • Concerned person,

      Mind you, speak for yourself only. You are not the representative of all the Buddhists in Asia Pac. You have no right to speak on behalf of all of the Buddhists in Asia Pacific. Not everyone is like you who regard a “follower” or leaves and branch of a tree trunk. Our tree trunk is Buddha and His Teachings, not your kind of leader-followers organization.

      That was your own assumption and conclusion not ours. Don’t turn Buddhism into Hollywood or Universal Studio hero/heroin. Your hero is AB, our hero is Buddha!

    • Dear Concern Person,

      You sound like you belong to a kind of a “movement” where a leader holds its followers by their neck and the minute this leader let go off your necks, you fall. In other words, you have a very weak foundation. The Dhamma should be our strong foundation.

      When Buddha passed on, Buddhism flourished for 2,600 years around the globe because the foundation was strong as the Truth can never be destroyed, but if your foundation is leader-based, then naturally if your leader is not around, the whole building tumbles as your foundation is not strong enough to hold its structure, so to speak. That is the trouble with leader orientated movement or beliefs.

      BTW, unfortunately you are not our leader in Asia Pacific to speak on all of our behalf.

  61. It is true what ‘ace’ says. It is reported that Ajahn Amaro, while still vice abbot of Abhyagiri in California, stated that he supported the ordination of bhikkhunis and was against the five points instigated at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. And the assistant secretary of the Sangharaja told me and others, at a visit he made to Oxford Buddhist Vihara,that at the highest level of Thai Sangha as his personal opinion there is no objection to women ordaining as bhikkhunis, but that at present they cannot do so officially in Thailand. These are these monks’true opinions. One day things will change. When, is another issue, but change is happening. Like anything else, it’s all down to long rooted attachment and wrong views. We all know this. Keep the faith!

  62. P.s. The more journalists know about all these things the better. The old days are over. Spread knowledge. Change the world for the better. Deconstruct and disempower ignorance and toxic prejudices.

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