Sakyadhita

In all the fuss about the bhikkhuni ordination in perth, we are in danger of forgetting that this is just one little ordination in just one little monastery. Bhikkhunis exist in their thousands all over the world, and are working every day to spread the true light of Dhamma into the hearts of good people everywhere. Bhikkhunis and other wonderful Buddhist women celebrate and dialogue each year at the Sakyadhita conference. This year it is held in Vietnam. We’re proud that several of the Santi nuns are participating this year: Ayya Vayu, Ayya Dhammananda, and Ayya Adhimutta.

18 thoughts on “Sakyadhita

  1. Some Web Links with photos from the 11th Sakyadhita Conference, 2400 participants (truly amazing and deeply deeply inspiring, so much joy here – all these nuns, are truly incredible women – so many intelligent, strong, warm-hearted pioneers in one place. Being a nun can be very very very cool. Being a young nun here is deeply transforming. This group of women is so strong and rich, forging deep connections and friendships during this week, and is changing and will continue to change the face of Buddhism. Here, transforming the future.):

    http://phattuvietnam.net/1/8245.html

    http://www.giacngo.vn/chude/hoinghinugioiphatgiaothegioi11/2009/12/29/5FC643/

  2. I hope that the nuns will not neglect the dire situation of the monks and nuns facing abuse from the Vietnamese government or by their presence endorse an oppressive regime.

    AMNESTY INTERTNATIONAL – URGENT ACTION
    MONKS AND NUNS
    THREATENED WITH EVICTION
    A mob with official backing is attempting to evict nearly 200 Buddhist monks and nuns from a monastery in central Viet Nam. The group have been sheltering there since they were evicted from another monastery in September, by a similar mob.

    On 11 December a mob of around 100 people, some of whom the monks and nuns recognised as police officers, forced the abbot of Phuoc Hue Monastery to sign an agreement to expel the monks and nuns no later than the end of the year. The mob had gone into the monastery on 9 December, and stayed there, harassing the monks and nuns, most of whom are under 25, and pressuring the abbot to sign the agreement. They disrupted a European Union (EU) delegation investigating the situation at the monastery on 9 December. The authorities have denied any involvement, but have consistently failed to provide any protection for the monks and nuns, or ensure they are offered suitable alternative accommodation.

    In September a similar mob, which included police officers, had forced the monks and nuns out of another monastery, Bat Nha. Most of the monks and nuns, who at that time numbered 379, had taken shelter at Phuoc Hue.

    The authorities have been actively involved in the mob’s actions: they have ordered members of Communist Party organisations to take action against the monks and nuns; pressured members of the monks and nuns’ families to give up their way of life; and occasionally blocking supplies of food and other essentials to the monastery.

    The monks and nuns are followers of Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh, a monk based in France. He came to prominence as a Buddhist peace activist in the 1960s, and is an advocate of freedom of religion and other human rights.

    Additional Information

    The government maintains rigid control over all aspects of religious life in Viet Nam. Members of churches not officially approved by the state face repression, including being forced to renounce their faith, administrative detention and imprisonment. The Vietnamese authorities have a long history of persecuting religious groups they believe oppose the state. Members of such groups are regularly arrested, harassed and kept under surveillance. These include members of the evangelical Protestant community, Roman Catholics, Hoa Hao Buddhists and the Cao Dai church. The senior leadership of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam has been under house arrest or restrictions for decades, including the Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, Supreme Patriarch, who had been under house arrest since 1982 until his death in July 2008, and newly appointed Supreme Patriarch Thich Quang Do. Human rights violations against evangelical Christian Montagnards in the Central Highlands have continued for years, and people from the mostly Buddhist Khmer Krom community in southern An Giang province likewise face persecution.

    PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY, in English, Vietnamese, French or your own language:
    Calling on the authorities to protect the monks and nuns from Phuoc Hue from harassment, threats and eviction;
    Urging them to take action to ensure that the Phuoc Hue Monastery is allowed to conduct its activities without fear of harassment or eviction;
    Urging them to order a prompt and impartial investigation into the mob attacks against the monasteries in Bat Nha in September and Phuoc Hue in December, and into reports that the police failed to protect the monks and nuns;
    Calling on them respect the right to freedom of religion, and ensure that religious groups in Viet Nam are able to practice their religion freely.

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 3 FEBRUARY 2010 TO:

    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Pham Gia Khiem
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    1 Ton That Dam Street
    Ba Dinh district, Ha Noi
    Viet Nam
    Fax: +8443 823 1872
    Email: bc….@mofa.gov.vn
    Salutation: Dear Minister

    Minister of Public Security
    Le Hong Anh
    Ministry of Public Security
    44 Yet Kieu Street
    Ha Noi
    Viet Nam
    Fax: +8443 942 0223
    Salutation: Dear Minister

    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

    • Dear Visakha,

      Thanks for posting this here. It’s very difficult in Vietnam, trying to practice Buddhism under a totalitarian government. I have stayed away from the big conferences there, as i feel they are showpieces by the government. But other argue that the government is changing and such international attention has good flow on effects. Quite likely both perspectives have some truth to them. Ven Lekshe Tsomo, the head of Sakyadhita, is very socially canny and will be fully aware of the issues involved.

    • May we build a strong Sangha together and never lose sight of our duty to protect the Sangha and the light of the Dhamma. Internal conflicts in Sanghas of free societies are shameful in the face of what has happened to your Sangha in VN and the Sanghas in Burma and Tibet. May we always cherish the blessing of practicing freely and share that blessing with one another in friendship.
      Please keep us informed regarding the asylum request and whatever happens to our Dhamma Friends in VN.
      Metta

  3. Also, thanks Visakha for posting this.
    I’ll echo what Bhante Sujato said, which is that Ven. Lekshe Tsomo is aware of the issues involved. I’d also like to add, that it she is not giving in to Government demands on how the conference should be run etc. it’s a difficult situation to navigate, and she is incredibly skillful.
    There are thousands and thousands of Vietnamese nuns at the conference, and the Sakyadhita conference is having a positive impact on Bhiksunis in Vietnam. To quote from one paper, written by a Vietnamese Bhiksuni, Thich Nu Tinh Quang:
    “In 1981, after six years of hiatus, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha was in operation, but only the order of monks was given a legal identity. THe nuns still existed, but the order of nuns was recognized only by the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha. At the beginning of 2009, the Vietnam Bhiksuni Sangha was finally reestblished, in part so that the order of nuns could host the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women.. . .
    Reestablishing the Bhiksuni Sangha of the Vietnamese Buddhist Church was an important strategic decision. It not only fulfills the goal of hosting the 11th Sakyadhita Conference in Vietnam, but, more importantly, it demonstrates the Vietnamese nuns have gradually become an important force in the Sangha. The number of nuns rose from nearly 25 percent in 1972 to approximately 50 percent today.”

    • Puts the Thais to shame. That even in the current conservative leaning leadership, VN rose to the challenge and Thailand did not. Though still much work to do.

    • That was not well said. Sorry. Much work to do all around. Including this being. :-) I love my Thai friends and respect the Thai monastic community. I rejoice in the VN Bhikkhunis support from their government and hope it is sincere and lasting. I hope that the Thai monks in the WPP tradition who are reacting harshly can look at their neighbours with an open mind and heart.

  4. Dear Bhante,
    Can you please ask the Ayyas to share with us some of their impressions of the conference?
    When I lived in Ha Noi I visited many city temples that were run by Abesses rather than Abbots. Their personal journeys (what courage!!!!!) to go against the culture of marriage and family – which is especially strong for women – were most inspiring.
    Metta

  5. Dear Ajahn Sugato, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your courage in keeping the LID OFF what is a smelly affair. You will always have my support, and I do hope that the New Year brings you only the higher blessings.

  6. Bhante

    Wonderful news

    May all attendees at the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women know they have metta support from all right thinking people

    Saghu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

  7. Now the conference is over, and there’s so much I could write – it has been one of the most inspiring and transforming 10 days of my life. I would really really encourage and Buddhist woman who can – lay or monastic to attend the next conference if they possibly can.
    I won’t write much here, though, as I think others have prepared many blogs and many photos. But, here’s a (very rough, and not complete) transcript of a speech by Ven. Tenzin Palmo, which captures at least some of the deep inspiration and joy so many of us felt to be surrounded and immersed by a Sangha of literally thousands and thousands of Bhikkhuni. It’s incredible.
    On our temple tour (maybe we visited 8-9 temples in a day) – there were hundreds of bhikkhunis at each place. Images of Kuanyin, Mahaprajapati surounding us. So many strong intelligent, inspiring women. The Vietnamese nuns really have some force of personality and of spirit. As well as being graceful, restrained, really exemplary nuns.
    Truly, the experience is a deep inspiration and joy, and a source of great strength – and transforming my vision what I thought was possible. I didn’t realise before that there could be so many hundreds of monastics (so, the stories of so many gathering in the Suttas are true)
    And how much joy and ease having Vens. Karma Lekshe Tsomo and Tenzin Palmo up front, leading, speaking – and all the other Bhikkhunis. No longer feelings of distance, detachment, slight dissociation from the context (along with the joy and inspiration) that there is often at Buddhist events – where the nuns are pushed aside, or sitting lower, or somehow just not part of things. Just a flow, just energy moving unimpeded. Hard to describe. And so completely natural, without any strain, just ordinary, normal, comfortable, happy.

    So, to share with you all, I quote one short speech of gratitude by the Elder bhikkhuni, Ven. Tenzin Palmo (Jetsunma), someone I think many of us feel much gratitude towards – truly a great tree providing shelter and nourishment for many (this speech was adlib – requested without prior notice at one of the temples:)

    ” It has been very important I think for us to be here in Vietnam. As we have seen our conference was graced with the presence of over 1000 Vietnamese nuns. So, for nuns from other traditions, it was a great inspiration to meet our Dhamma Sisters who are so graceful, so beautiful, and are such sincere practitioners.
    Also, many of the foreign delegates come from non-buddhist countries where Sangha members are very rear. You, in Vietnam cannot imagine how it is. Living in the West where they never see the Buddhist robe. And so for these people to come here and to be surrounded and immersed in so much Sangha is very very inspiring for them all.
    So, I would like to say to these wonderful Bhikkhunis from Vietnam that the fact they are able to study and practice in thie Buddhist land is as a result of a tremendous amount of good Kamma from past lives.
    And, therefore I exhort them not to waste this opportunity but to really study and really embody the Dhamma for the sake of all beings.
    So, basically, all I want to say, is thankyou very much to all these wonderful Bhikkhunis who have been so kind, so generous, and exemplifying so well what a bhikkhunisangha can be. So, thank you very much.

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