100 thoughts on “Some recent articles on bhikkhunis

  1. I totally agree with Khun Sanitsuda here:

    “The decision to expel him from the Wat Pa Pong clergy and to revoke Bodhinyana’s status as a branch monastery ensued. Rightly or wrongly, this move is more than enough to distance Wat Pa Pong from the Perth ordination controversy. The matter could have ended there…

    “Whatever the motives, many have become disillusioned by the unskilful reactions from the Wat Pa Pong hardliners who are unknowingly undermining the saintly reputation of their lineage. But it is never too late to turn things around…

    “The monastics should be the ones who know this best. Now that Wat Pa Pong has parted with Ajahn Brahm, make it a civilised divorce which allows oneself to retain dignity while going their separate ways.”

    I would like to beg those WPP monks with due respect to allow us all to move on our separate ways.

  2. Hi Folks,

    As i see it…….

    It is sad and unfortunate to see this preventable issue unfolded before our eyes and mind. This issue had proliferated and propelled to a new level, which (imo) could had been contained at that very instance during the meeting btw AB & WPP.

    During the meeting, WPP was made clear and loud (with a majority consensus from the over 150 Sangha members present) on their stand regarding Bhikkhunis ordination. However, AB persisted to take the risk to go “head on” with WPP to pursue his aspiration to the extent of sacrificing harmony and his long-term tie with WPP and also his own and Bodhiyana status as Thai theravada tradition and branch monastery of Aj Chah forest tradition respectively, despite given three resounding chances by WPP to him to make his choice. AB made his choice at the spur of that tense moment attaching passionately and strongly to his views.

    IMO, AB could have wisely given other workable alternatives, without agitating WPP during the confrontation i.e by sincerely and openly asking permission or rather announcing his underlying subtle intention to have Bodhiyana Monastery recognized and declared as an Australian or Perth Theravada status or tradition and no longer a branch Monastery of WPP (perhaps deemed by him to be more practical and acceptable by his Buddhist community in Perth and their needs & enthusiastic aspirations for Buddhism in Perth) and by this virtue therefore, would not harm the many generations heritage of Thai Theravada Forest Sangha Tradition, instead of using the Vinaya to justify his aspiration.

    I think, WPP would be happy to give their blessings, as WPP could still maintain their status and their Thai Elders rules in their self-founded Aj Chah Forest tradition (which is their rights and choice of their signature tradition structure they believed as ideal, with proof that it had undoubtedly and successfully helped to churn out many Arahants, if not, famous Thais and foreign monks, like Western Elder Aj Sumedho, Aj Nyanadhammo, Aj Jayasaro and many more foreign monks in the list including Aj Brahm himself, and undeniably respectable Aj Mun and Aj Chah and many others from this very own Thai Forest tradition). This proof the formula in the Aj Chah Forest Tradition is applicable, workable,successful and realistic and to “reform” it because of new demands would to have this already successful proven formula to be dismantled and formulate new Thai rules go against its original Elders Rules that is unprecedented.

    It would then be a very heavy responsibility on the part of WPP to deviate from their many generations successful forest tradition inheritance and their Elders Rules, to comply to the needs of the Perth modern society.

    This issue would not have prolonged and adversely proliferated, if AB did not allow it to, by renouncing this poorly-staged Bhikkhunis ordination in Perth and had it done in a more recognized, allowable and acceptable platform (Vinaya compliance aside, as what is the use of satisfying the Vinaya in writing at the expense of harmony within the Sasana?).

    To me, the Sasana as a whole is more important than trying to proof oneself right about the Vinaya individually or severally and the wider Sangha oblivious. AB was given the option and he could have made a choice that would not have “hurt or harm” himself, the 4 Bhikkhunis, Bodhiyana Monastery, BSWA and WPP / Aj Chah forest tradition. It was an unwise move in the first place by “secretly” ordaining the 4 Bhikkhunis fearing objections (the reason for it to be held in the night within only his invited Sangha).

    The WPP vs AB confrontation during the meeting was initially contained within the “balloon of its own “family” but when AB started fretting publicly in the media, the balloon had burst emitting the “stance” air which further annoyed WPP by putting them in a bad light. WPP must have been unhappy with AB’s attitude and by his aftermath behaviour of “overthrowing” WPP image publicly.

    What is the underlying cause of this feud (2nd Noble Truth)?

    Appeal that both “husband & wife” have an amicable and “out of court” settlement in this “divorce”.

    Cannot understand why the Bhiikhunis in Perth cannot renounce the deemed invalid ordination and start a new leaf by getting a more agreeable ordination from other agreeable Theravada Traditions eg. Sri Lanka or Burma or Ajahn Sujato Monastery and then return to Perth to start a fresh new Bhikkunis Sangha life, if they passionately believed that, by the act of ordaining would helped them tremendously in their spiritual path to enlightenment. No one, even the Thai theravada Sangha could stop you from that, and the ball in in your hands now, if you sincerely want this issue (feud) to end and to restore harmony again.

    “Life is short and uncertain, Death is certain” – as quoted by wise monks.

    • as I see it, with quite a lot of prejudice

      respectfully (no, really, respectfully) you are not helping. you are not making peace.

      blaming doesn’t help. going over old ground (it is old, your comments show that you have not updated your knowledge of the situation) doesn’t help.

      perhaps start by checking your facts too… some of the things you’ve said are simply incorrect.

      wishing you well.

    • Hi Kanchana,

      “..perhaps start by checking your facts too… some of the things you’ve said are simply incorrect.”

      Like???

    • Peace maker,

      You said: ‘During the meeting, WPP was made clear and loud (with a majority consensus from the over 150 Sangha members present) on their stand regarding Bhikkhunis ordination.’

      Peace Maker you speak as though you were present at this meeting. Were you?

      Someone who was there, at the meeting, informed me that it was not clear and loud. I believe the copies of the transcripts floating about (though apparently one is highly edited) verify this.

      ***

      You said: ‘However, AB persisted to take the risk to go “head on” with WPP to pursue his aspiration to the extent of sacrificing harmony and his long-term tie with WPP and also his own and Bodhiyana status as Thai theravada tradition and branch monastery of Aj Chah forest tradition respectively, despite given three resounding chances by WPP to him to make his choice. AB made his choice at the spur of that tense moment attaching passionately and strongly to his views.’

      You speak as if you know Ajahn Brahm extremely well. Do you? Or are you speculating?

      ***

      You said: ‘AB could have wisely given other workable alternatives, without agitating WPP during the confrontation i.e by sincerely and openly asking permission or rather announcing his underlying subtle intention to have Bodhiyana Monastery recognized and declared as an Australian or Perth Theravada status or tradition and no longer a branch Monastery of WPP (perhaps deemed by him to be more practical and acceptable by his Buddhist community in Perth and their needs & enthusiastic aspirations for Buddhism in Perth) and by this virtue therefore, would not harm the many generations heritage of Thai Theravada Forest Sangha Tradition, instead of using the Vinaya to justify his aspiration.’

      I don’t know where to begin… I strongly suggest you read the previous topics on this Blog…going right back to October 2009.

      ***

      You said: ‘ would then be a very heavy responsibility on the part of WPP to deviate from their many generations successful forest tradition inheritance and their Elders Rules, to comply to the needs of the Perth modern society.’

      My understanding is that the monks currently pushing for ownership of Bodhinyana Monastary and inability of AB to ordain monks, are not strictly speaking meditation monks. The WPP has grown over the decades and is proving itself to be an institution, like others. Nobody was asking the WPP to deviate from anything. The only hope was that the group in Perth would be left alone to get on with the job of cultivating 8 fold path and helping others.

      ***

      You said: “This issue would not have prolonged and adversely proliferated, if AB did not allow it to, by renouncing this poorly-staged Bhikkhunis ordination in Perth and had it done in a more recognized, allowable and acceptable platform (Vinaya compliance aside, as what is the use of satisfying the Vinaya in writing at the expense of harmony within the Sasana?).”

      Ultimately, being Buddhist is a quest for truth. You cannot do that on the basis of a lie. That is what AB was asked to do; he was asked to lie. He chose to honour the Triple Gem and maintain truthfulness. Lets be real here….your statement would be more accurately stated as follows: ‘This issue would not have prolonged and adversely proliferated, if SOME WESTERN AJAHNS AND SOME THAI AJAHNS did not allow it to’.

      ***

      You said: ‘To me, the Sasana as a whole is more important than trying to proof oneself right about the Vinaya individually or severally and the wider Sangha oblivious.’

      The Sasana: Is useless and should be thrown away if it is not true to the Buddha’s Teachings. When he passed away, he said to take his teachings, the truth and the Vinaya as our guides. You are suggesting we go against the Buddha’s suggestion and instead favour being friends in ignorance, with those who have (amongst other things) asked a fellow monk to lie.

      ***

      You said:’The WPP vs AB confrontation during the meeting was initially contained within the “balloon of its own “family” but when AB started fretting publicly in the media, the balloon had burst emitting the “stance” air which further annoyed WPP by putting them in a bad light. WPP must have been unhappy with AB’s attitude and by his aftermath behaviour of “overthrowing” WPP image publicly.”

      So you are suggesting that we not only be friends with the bully, but also be fearful of him?

      Can you please give us a reference for this ‘fretting’? When, where and what was said to indicate ‘fretting’? AB does not ‘fret’.

      Further, the recent behaviour of a few WPP monks simply shows that these monks are capable of behaviour that I wouldn’t encourage in children.

      ***

      You said: ‘Appeal that both “husband & wife” have an amicable and “out of court” settlement in this “divorce”.’

      Okay, lets say, WPP is the hubby. Well, it’s the hubby that’s not being amicable at all… I don’t want to repeat here what has been written elsewhere on this blog. I appeal to you…read what else has been written before you make up your mind.

      ***

      You said: ‘Cannot understand why the Bhiikhunis in Perth cannot renounce the deemed invalid ordination and start a new leaf by getting a more agreeable ordination from other agreeable Theravada Traditions ’

      ‘Deemed invalid’ Please have a look at: http://groups.google.com/group/dhammadharini/web/responses-to-ajahn-thanissaros-concerns-on-bhikkhuni-ordination-validity

      Sincerely.

    • Peace-Maker,
      It is time to call a spade a spade.
      The split had very little to do with Bhikkhunis. Ajahn Brahm was getting too popular for the liking of a handful of monks. Other WPP monks participated in Bhikkhuni ordinations before Aj Brahm and nothing happened to them. So your entry is off on a reality tangent that has very little to do with the truth and everything to do with beating your steady drum of ill-will towards women.
      May you find it in your heart to transform this inclination and rise to your “name” of peacemaker by helping to build a strong and loving Sangha.
      Blessings….many many blessings to you….

    • Hi Lisa Karuna,

      Oh dear, this is something new. I didn’t know that the Bhikkhunis ordination was from the Sri Lankan lineage and not from AChah forest tradition lineage, as we were made to understand that Bodhiyana was a branch monastery of AChah forest tradition lineage and therefore since the Bhikkhunis ordination was held in Bodhiyana, it was deemed to be of the same lineage as WPP.

      Please correct me if i am wrong, so in other words, in that case, before WPP delisted Bodhiyana as branch of WPP, AB had informally renounced his AChah lineage and went under the Sri Lanka lineage, by virtue of the Bhikkhunis ordination, without WPP knowledge? Is that so?

      So, what is the whole problem when WPP made their decision to delist Bodhiyana as branch of AChah forest tradition lineage, if those Bhikkhunis were ordained under Sri Lankan lineage? In this respect, it was AB and his Bhikkhunis’s choice to be under the Sri Lankan lineage, so is it wrong for WPP to delist Bodhiyana as AChah Thai Forest tradition lineage?

      Bodhiyana was one of the branches under the AChah Forest Tradition lineage, just like the other branch monasteries eg. ASumedho’s monastery in U.K. and the others in other parts of the world. I am trying to establish a closure on this controversial issue. I don’t know why i have this feeling, that AB wanted to break off from AChah forest tradition lineage to start his own lineage as a Western lineage (very subtle) to build or own its Western or to be precise, Perth identity. I know, it is a bad feeling but i still don’t see the true justification behind this whole plot. Please enlighten.

      So, problem solved. The Nuns are validly ordained under the Sri Lankan lineage and not AChah Forest Sangha lineage or WPP branch. Good for both sides. We are happy for the newly ordained Bhikkhunis in Perth. I guess each tradition or lineage has its own goals.

      Goodwill and harmony restored. Peace, at last.

    • Hi Peace-maker and all,

      Just to try to clarify this question of lineage a little.

      First up, the Vinaya has no notion of lineage. It’s entirely 100% an invention by later monks. In the earliest form it was explicitly modeled after the lists of patriarchs in the Brahmanical tradition. It was constructed so as to authorize the Sangha legitimacy, and so in the Theravada tradition from the first it was made to parallel exactly the coronations of the kings. It is, therefore, primarily a political construct which legitimizes a continuity of power in the Sangha.

      As far as modern lineages go, there is no such thing as a WPP lineage. WPP monks are ordained by various preceptors and Sangha, many of whom are not in WPP themselves; Ajahn Brahm, for example, was ordained in Bangkok before going down to WPP.

      WPP is part of the Mahanikaya, and the Mahanikaya itself is essentially just the general, background Sangha of the Thai region, which had evolved in complex, messy, and largely unknown ways for over a thousand years. The Mahanikaya never thought of itself as a unitary ordination lineage; rather, it was a heterogenous mix of local lineages and traditions. It only began to be thought of as a distinct ‘nikaya’ when the reformist Dhammayut began in the late 19th century. It was the Dhammayut who defined the Mahanikaya, which originally was, I believe, a mildly derogative term simply meaning ‘everyone who is not us’.

      Since the notion of lineage does not appear in Vinaya, how one chooses to define it is from that point of view arbitrary. It is not sure what the earliest lists of ‘Vinaya elders’ actually refers to, but they would have been monks who in some sense were regarded, by part of the Sangha at least, as leaders and teachers. In other cases, the lineage refers to the upajjhaya who presided over the ordination ceremony.

      So this might clear up some of the confusion. Since the ordination took place in a monastery that was listed as a branch of WPP, with WPP monks taking part, then it could be considered to have been in that lineage. This would be the natural point of view of the WPP monks themselves, since they have never had any experience of actual bhikkhunis, and cannot imagine that the women themselves might have a meaningful role in sanghakamma. On the other hand, the Vinaya states that a bhikkhuni preceptor should be appointed, not a bhikkhu, so if the lineage is held to follow that of the preceptor, it is deemed to be the Siam Nikaya of Sri Lanka (which, to add to the confusion, is nothing more than a branch of the Mahanikaya that was transplanted to Sri Lanka).

      All of these are just ways of thinking. There’s no objective reality to any of it. People with different frameworks and agendas like to think of it in different ways, and there’s no real right or wrong. For the monks of WPP, Ajahn Brahm did something different to them, therefore he is deemed to be ‘Mahayana’. This has no meaning, no relation to either what Ajahn Brahm does or to what Mahayana actually is, it’s just a sound they make to make the problem go away.

      Anyone who suggests that Ajahn Brahm is trying to make his own lineage simply does not understand the man. He’s got no interest in lineages or schools, he’s only interested in trying to practice and teach Dhamma-Vinaya.

      If you have a look at the substantial body of research I did under the title of Sects & Sectarianism, you’ll find I am trying to show that our modern ideas of sects and lineages are not pertinent to how the Buddha constructed the Sangha. They have a limited use in understanding how Buddhism has evolved over the past 2500 years, but it should be plainly obvious that the conditions under which the schools formed have disappeared forever. The specific social, historical conditions have changed, and as they do so our notions of schools and lineages will inevitably change, too. That is not to say that we simply throw them away; but we treat them as part of a living system, evolving and changing to adapt to their environment – or becoming extinct.

    • Dear Lisa Karuna,

      You said:-

      “Other WPP monks participated in Bhikkhuni ordinations before Aj Brahm and nothing happened to them. So your entry is off on a reality tangent that has very little to do with the truth and everything to do with beating your steady drum of ill-will towards women.”

      Do you mind to be more specific? I am oblivious. Which monks from WPP or Ajahn Chah forest tradition lineage? Are they still in this lineage with the Bhikkhunis ordination?. I am curious to know.

      I think you have wrongly accused me of having ill-will towards women (as i am a woman too). I merely unfold the events leading to this upheavel of emotions.

      What do you mean by Ajahn Brahm was getting too popular for the liking of a handful of monks? Is that your own perception and judgement ?

      On the contrary, the monks in WPP should be very proud and happy (rejoice) to know one of their brothers-in-the dhamma i.e Ajahn Brahm is so popular as Ajahn Brahm was a product of Ajahn Chah tradition.

      I have peace in my heart, no ill-will. May your heart finds peace. Blessing to you, too.

    • Hi Peace-maker,

      Do you mind to be more specific? I am oblivious. Which monks from WPP or Ajahn Chah forest tradition lineage? Are they still in this lineage with the Bhikkhunis ordination?. I am curious to know.

      After they heard of the bhikkhuni ordination, Ajahns Amaro and Pasanno (of Abhayagiri) sent a message, the gist of which was, we don’t know what all the fuss is about; just yesterday we did a bhikkhuni ordination at the City of 10 000 Buddhas. Apparently they do this on a regular basis. To avoid misunderstandings, I am not trying to claim that these monks endorsed the ordination, merely sharing my recollection of what happened. Some years ago Ajahn Sumedho also presided at a bhikkhuni ordination at the same place.

      On the contrary, the monks in WPP should be very proud and happy (rejoice) to know one of their brothers-in-the dhamma i.e Ajahn Brahm is so popular as Ajahn Brahm was a product of Ajahn Chah tradition.

      One would imagine so; and I guess that many monks do feel this way. But some do not. This is clear from statements made before the ordination in private by monks, confirmed by many other reports; however, as these were private statements I don’t feel right about publishing them here. As far as the public sphere goes, I think the question of whether jealousy was a motivation was answered when the WPP monks started trying to get hold of the property at Bodhinyana – which happened immediately after he was expelled.

    • Dear Ajahn with anjali,

      With due respect, Ajahn, i seek your permission to post my reply with my views and humble limited understanding:-

      I personally find that the two Ajahns (as you mentioned above) from Ajahn Chah Forest lineage were wise and sensitive to others, as they had the Bhikkhunis ordination in 10K Buddhas and not in their own Monasteries. If i am not wrong, 10K Buddhas is not a Thai theravada tradition but more of Mahayana or cosmopolitan.

      There are so many places where the Bhikkhunis could be ordained eg in S.E.A., many female Nuns have been ordained as Bhikkhunis in FGS (Fo Guan Shan – a worldwide organisation regardless of whether one is Theravada or Mahayana) . There was no problem or resistance from anyone not even from Sri Lanka/Burma Theravada (except not from the Thai Forest Sangha tradition,as we must respect their Thai Rules), and everyone is so happy and rejoicing when a Nun wants to be ordained). I think there are more Bhikkhunis in S.E.A. than in all the Western countries sum up.

      If AB were to ordain his Bhikkhunis in 10K Buddha and then return to Damansara or Bodhiyana, i don’t think this issue would go out of hand and out of control now. It is their choice but we must have respect for those who have their In-house Rules or Tradition to uphold and no one has the right to overturn or overthrow others rights or ridicule, criticize, belittle others way of life or tradition (if we worship so much human rights or individual rights or gender rights) and impose one’s rights over others with the Holy Book (Vinaya). From my understanding, the Vinaya are stringent rules for the sole purpose for monks in their spiritual practice, and not for commercial use, purpose or debates.

      Buddhism is a harmonious religion, respecting all cultures, traditions and conventions. Buddha merely shared with us His Noble Discovery on the Law of Nature of Existence and the Right Path out of Samsara. The rest are prevailing man-made laws and rules that need to be respected and adhered to according to the prevailing conditions.

      Actually, no one is against Bhikkhunis ordination if it is RIGHTLY & WISELY EXECUTED without “harming, hurting or intimidating” oneself and others, with sensitivity,sincerity and honesty without any hidden agenda or hidden unwholesome emotions or thoughts. Imo, there were a lot of misinformation that led to the confusion in this issue.

      Seek your forgiveness, if wrong view & speech. Pardon my construction of English.

    • Peace maker

      I guess since you aren’t arguing with Ajahn Sujato about who was present, that you are now in harmonious agreement with him. However, since you feel the location was so important i offer the following statements for you:

      WPP never had a say in where the ordinations are performed. Here’s an article from an independent source that states why:

      http://www.goldentemple.lk/HigOr/higherOrdination.html

      Furthermore, as laypeople, we were publicly invited to a meeting last year where all present expressed their unanimous support for the Dhammasara nuns if they wished to obtain higher ordination. We decided that, they asked us because we keep them going, not WPP.

      Also, you seem to think that WPP own B monastary which they don’t. the BSWA do. the BSWA don’t have to check with anyone. Thats just a fact.

      By the way, the only harm and intimidation in all this has come from a group of WPP monks. You speak as one who has never ever ever spent any amount of time with Ajahn Brahm. Intimidation? AB? Ha ha ha ha ha…how ridiculous and funny… This is probably one of the most harmless people on the planet. The intentions you have been assuming him to have had…they really are laughable.

      As far as misinformation…I fully agree. Thank goodness Ajahn Sujato is providing us with correct information.

    • Dear everyone,

      I’ve been reflecting rather uncomfortably about the tone of these last two paragraphs and would like to apologise to Peace maker and everyone else… I should have said it better. I’m sorry for how it sounded.

    • p.s: I should have said, i was apologising for the tone of the last two paragraphs in the post made on January 31, 2010 at 5:10 am. :) G’nite everyone. :)

    • Hi Peace-maker,

      Thanks for your comments, and there’s no need to apologize for your English! I should apologize for not knowing your first language better…

      I would like to continue to disagree with your views, though. First, the ordination was in no way conducted out of a spirit of wanting to ridicule or criticize anyone’s way of life. it was a performance of a standar, regular Sanghakamma by a group of highly qualified bhikkhunis and bhikkhus, which responded to the request by the four Dhammasara nuns to take bhikkhuni ordination.

      Second, it is simply not true that “no one is against Bhikkhunis ordination if it is RIGHTLY & WISELY EXECUTED”. Many of the Elders of WPP have made it quite clear that they are opposed to any bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada tradition.

      If I may be allowed to repeat what I said in my first substantial response to this issue, in ‘A Letter for Good People':

      Repeatedly, the Ajahns in their responses talk about how this will be harmful for them, for their group, for their interests. That is not the issue. No-one is trying to harm anyone. Ordination is a time of joy and celebration. Some have said that they will be ‘forced’ to cut off ties with Bodhinyana, that they will ‘have no choice’. But this is simply untrue. No-one is forcing anyone to make any response. We are all perfectly free to rejoice in bhikkhuni ordination, to express our amazement and wonder that such a marvellous thing is about to happen, and to share our abundant blessing with the virtuous, sincere practitioners who are dedicating their life to the Dhamma-Vinaya in the way the Buddha wanted. It is our choice. When monks speak of the dire consequences, this is not a statement of facts but a threat. The Sangha will create harmful outcomes if it chooses. They do not flow automatically from the simple, beautiful fact of having persons of a female gender taking ordination.
      In particular, the Western Sangha is not simply following or representing the opinions of the Thai Sangha. They are helping to create those opinions and should be held ethically responsible for this. If the Western Sangha had a compassionate, and informed response to the question of bhikkhuni ordination, none of these problems would be happening.
      Several of the monks appear to be quite upset that they have not been consulted. I would like to invite these Venerables to consider how it would be to be a woman. To not be consulted, ever. To be completely sidelined and excluded from meaningful participation in the Sangha purely because your reproductive organs are a different shape. If it is so painful for you to feel ignored on this one occasion, how must it be to be ignored in everything, all the time?

    • Why is it so difficult just to rejoice that 4 beings have gone forth?
      What is Unwholesome about going forth?
      What is Wholesome about obstructing others from going forth?

    • Dear Ajahn,

      Why didn’t Ajahn Brahm have his Bhikkhunis ordained in 10ooo Buddhas instead of going head on or rebel with WPP (as fully aware by AB)?
      Is it true that AB wanted to “reform” the Thai Forest Sangha or WPP Elders Rules for his own convenience and satisfaction?

      It should then be also bilateral i.e WPP could also “reform” Bodhiyana. If AB could overturn the WPP Rules, so WPP could also have the right to overturn Bodhiyana Rules. Here, i am talking about individual Sangha conventional Rules NOT Vinaya Rules.

      I believe a meditator should also practise Vipassana meditation (eg Mahasi Vipassana method or other Vipassana method) and not only indulge in Jhanas and Bliss in one’s meditation or just Samatha meditation without Vipassana.

      Seek your enlightened comments.

    • You said: i am talking about individual Sangha conventional Rules NOT Vinaya Rules.

      Obviously. And who makes them up? Just anyone? Whenever they feel like it serves their needs? And why should anyone follow that?

      The reason I follow a monastic who respects the vinaya is cos the Buddha came up with that. You can’t just make up your own rules for your own personal gain if you follow the Buddha’s rules. That’s why people hold the Vinaya to be so important, it keeps us safe from just making up whatever we want to make up.

      Your comment about meditation is quite correct. You must be a follower of Ajahn Brahm.

    • “I believe a meditator should also practise Vipassana meditation (eg Mahasi Vipassana method or other Vipassana method) and not only indulge in Jhanas and Bliss in one’s meditation or just Samatha meditation without Vipassana. ”

      Oh dear! Another Visudhimagga groupie demanding that the Suttavadins yield to the Attakatha tradition. I wonder if these teachers are aware of the Kimsuka Sutta, SN 35.204 or the Culavedalla Sutta characterisation of the satipatthanas as being the nimitta/cause of samadhi. The Commentarial understanding of Vipassana proposed above is doubtful as an ekayana magga.

      I’ve since formed the conclusion that AJ Brahm does not teach Samatha, but has actually been giving us to tools to “vipassati” – ie to see clearly. His teachings have not been primarily about a meditation method per se, but about arming ourselves with the right attitude and affective tone to everything that we experience. It is owing to AJ Brahm that I find my sati and sampajanna growing and maturing.

      I really wish that you will make the effort to find out if the actual suttas in the 4 main Nikayas present Vipassana and Samatha in the way you’ve been taught. It’s good if you can ask yourself if your understanding of pratice is informed more by the Patisambhidamagga or perhaps the Visudhimagga, and then see how it compares to how the early suttas present Vipassana/Samatha.

    • Hi Sylvester,

      Just briefly to note that the Mahasi vipassana tradition has slim enough claim to authenticity based on the Suttas, as you say, but actually almost as slim claim to authenticity from the atthakatha (commentary). The Visuddhimagga talks about jhanas and how to get them at great length, and there are only one or two passages suggestive of the ‘dry insight approach’. The modern meditation system that is most closely based on the Visuddhimagga is not Mahasi, but Pa Auk method, which makes jhana very central.

    • Indeed, Bhante. I shudder with delight everytime I rake up my archives on that ancient debate between the Mahasi Sayadaw’s disciple the Sayadaw NyanaUttara with the Sri Lankan monk Ven Kheminda in the 1960s. I never got to the final exchange. Did they kiss and make-up? Their exchanges then make this Blog sound so tame and civilised.

      During your sojourn in Thailand, was Wat Mahathat still acting as the BKK franchise of the Mahasi school? Strangely, in Singapore, most of the “Mahasi” proponents promote LP Jarun, despite the many Burmese wats here.

      Frankly, with the Visudhimagga, once I reached Chapter 13, I lost interest. The classification of the Nanas was just too dry, after the exciting chapters 12 and 13 on the super-powers. That being said, the Pa-Auk branch in S’pore has put graphics to good use in presenting the Purifications. I was quite impressed by the tier-imagery of a stupa being employed to represent the stages of purification.

      I suppose the flavour d’jour in meditation discourse is no longer debating the orthodoxy of the Mahasi method, but the idea promoted in recent years that one can “do” the Satipatthanas whilst in Jhana. I’ll need to consult you when you next visit S’pore – how do the Pali verbs and tenses actually function in those translated suttas proferred as proof of insight practices during Jhana?

    • Dear Sylvester,

      You sound very well-read.

      I would like to add me on the same list of yours as another person who, thanks to Aj Brahm, has learnt to develop my sati and peace. :)

      I also would like to add that the issue of Samadhi and Vipassana meditation is another controversial issue in Thailand. You wouldn’t believe that some un-enlightened monks could voice their opinions in a very un-monkish harsh way!

      May your sati and sampajanna blossom soon. :)

    • Dear Avuso Dheerayupa

      And may yours reach their pinnacle this June in Chiang Rai!

      I gave up following the debates in Thailand, when I realised that the debaters were largely caged in the Abhidhamma model. Extremely difficult for the arguments to resonate with me, since I have problems a-plenty with the fundamental Abhidhamma teachings.

      With metta!

    • Dear Sylvester,

      Thank you, Sylvester. I’m applying for a seat at the June retreat. I’m trying not to get my hope up high coz that is a sure way to get us frustrated and not find peace in meditation! :) Are you going, too?

      I personally no longer want to enter any debate about the Samadhi vs Vipassana meditations, but last time I attended a retreat organised by Wat Mahathat (as it’s not far from my house), the first question a senior monk asked during a small group interview on our meditation practices was whether anyone had ever done Anapanasati and when a few of us raised our hands, he went on criticising Anapanasati for a good part of the interview! To me, it was an un-monkish speech and action. And it really saddened me.

    • Aaaah, I used to live by the water in front of Wat Mahathat. Such wonderful memories!
      I hope to hear news about your attending this retreat, Sister! You too Sylvester! Go go, go! And Sadhu!
      (Your comment re criticism of Anapanasati – oh so unfortunate. No wonder people are so confused. I have had the same experience more than a few times from teachers from all traditions and all nationalities. I confess I am tempted to roll my eyes inwardly each time but appreciate that teacher’s experience and that I will probably benefit from it and decide later what I will stick with!

    • Wow! Is this a weird intersection of kamma or what?! 2 ladies within sight of Wat Mahathat. I wonder if your paths ever crossed?

      Like I said, my ability to join Avuso Dheerayupa in June will depend on how unskilfull I am in wriggling out of my work commitments. Having had to work over this weekend just past made me very grouchy and insufferable. Sigh, it must have shown in my postings and I hope I can be forgiven.

    • I’m quite surprised by this. Of course i know that there’s always been a bit of tension between the samatha and vipassana schools in Thailand, but in my experience this had always been pretty mild. It was somewhat fierce in Malaysia a couple of decades ago, but has quietened down there. My experience in Australia is that, yes, people have different views, but we pretty much just get on with our own practices. Actually, there’s a lot of interaction between ‘samatha’ and ‘vipassana’ teachers here on a personal level, and I think most teachers really don’t have strong views on the matter, and most of them would simply see themselves as teaching whatever is most useful for the students.

    • Hello,

      Lisa Karuna said: :-) The split had very little to do with Bhikkhunis. Ajahn Brahm was getting too popular for the liking of a handful of monks.:-)

      Are you saying that other monks (you probably refer to the forest monks) are jealous of Ajahn Brahm’s popularity?.

      To me, i don’t think so. I guess those monks who practiced well in austherity prefer to stay away from popularity as they do not wish to be caught in Mara’s domain or realm, as there is still desires and kilesas dominating and the desires ( to change things, to do this, to do that ) will sent the forest monk back to the concrete jungle filled with desires to the brim (i.e. Mara’s playground).

      Well-practiced forest monk’s job is to abandon all these desires/kilesas including popularity (they would shy away or restrain from it if they sense it was coming to him). If they still have desire for popularity, they should know that they have not attained to the desired level of abandoning. They only have desire for abandoning desires, not accumulation of desires.

      This is my understanding, not for purpose of offending anyone.

    • When we put our monastics on a pedestal we think they are beyond the kileshas. This is not a mature or realistic understanding of going forth or of Triple Gem, imho. And the notion that the forest is out of bounds from Mara’s playground is to deny this realm is that of Samsara. I would never denigrate those who practice in the cities. There are many lineages in many cities who place themselves right in the heart of the poorest and sometimes most dangerous urban places. This is real, gritty, courageous practice, in benefit of those beings who need the Dhamma the most, in their midst.
      When I suggested ill-will towards women, I note also that sometimes women are the strongest proponents of harmful practices and prejudices against women – I think about rampant female genital mutilation in Africa and the Arabian peninsula as one of the more shocking examples…and can list many more, but I think it is up to each of us to explore more deeply, if we are sincere in our practice.
      What I meant – and Dear Sister, what I wrote may have come across harshly…is that characterizing the Bhikkhuni ordinations and aspirations as “selfish” and accusing them of all this disruption, without taking a much broader and more in-depth look at all of the circumstances around recent events, without opening up to all of the truths, and frankly, to accuse anyone’s going forth to be anything but an act kusala kamma is, I feel a really really a misguided stretch in our understanding of sila – and that of equanimity – I feel all of this on closer examination encompasses a fair degree of ill-will towards those women and the aspirations of any women who wish to go forth or even deepen their practice.
      May it not please you, and may it not be intentional or immediately obvious on your part, on looking more deeply, it may be understood to be ill-will.
      Blessings back, dear Sister :-)

    • One thing ‘Peacemaker (?)’ said, can maybe explain why WPP is intent on revenche: Ajahn Brahm justified his decision by referring to Vinaya. He was completely right to do so.

      But for some of these senior Thai WPP monks, who think they do everything in the best way and that they are the best tradition alive, that is a hard thing to swallow.

      It makes them look bad in the eyes of the world, because it implies that they do not follow Vinaya. It pushes their secret ‘button’. Some monks will start to crave revenge.

    • Hi :-)

      It seemed like AB was using the Vinaya to justify the ordination, but what was the underlying reasons for that?

      If one could get enlightened by just reading the Suttas and referring to the Vinaya, then we do not need any more Dhamma/Meditation Teachers around and, you also do not need AB as your Teacher as well as all the Buddha’s disciples also did not need a Teacher.

      If AB did not learn the Dhamma & Meditation from Ajahn Chah and other Meditation Teachers in Thailand or elsewhere, do you think he could now teach you guys in Perth?

      If we could get enlightened without a Teacher, and just regard the Vinaya as our Teacher, then we do not need any more Monasteries or Meditation centres or Meditation Teachers around anymore, as we could now readily access through the internet (plenty of dhamma & meditation stuffs) for the Vinaya & Suttas to be enlightened. Why you guys need AB as your Abbot/Teacher, since the Vinaya you said the Vinaya is your Teacher?

      If not because of Ajahn Chah as AB’s Teacher, do you think AB could “learn” from the Vinaya only? If that was possible, then we too could just refer to the Vinaya and follow the Vinaya and Sutta to get enlightened or learn Buddhism, and we also need not have any Teacher? No need for AB to be a Teacher too, the Vinaya is your Teacher!. If that is the case, we also do not need Teachers to teach in schools, universities or colleges, we can learn on our own from the text books or from internet?

      To me, the Right Teachers are more important than the Vinaya, as Vinaya only gives us book knowledge ( increases more ego if not practiced properly ) but the Right Teachers show and guide us the Right Practice, Right Path, Right Method and straighten our Wrong Views, with their experience, skills, methods, discipline, knowledge, patience, understanding and tolerance.

      So now, the Vinaya is your Teacher, not AB? Am I right???

    • You might try reading the advice in the Gopakamoggallana Sutta (MN108), where Ananda says that now the Buddha has passed away, his Dhamma will be the guide, and for the monastic community this involves living in accord with the patimokkha. Also the Mahaparinibbana Sutta lays down the four references, which say that the opinions of any teacher or group of monks, no matter how respected, should be compared with the Dhamma and Vinaya, and if it does not agree with them it should be rejected. Or else the Second Council, which rejected the notion that the accepted traditions should be followed where they disagree with the Dhamma-Vinaya. There are many other passages along similar lines.

      The role of a teacher, according to the Vinaya, is to help us understand and guide us in our practice of Dhamma-Vinaya. If their advice is in accord with Dhamma-Vinaya, we should follow that, but if they depart from Dhamma-Vinaya we should not follow their instructions. In fact, a student has the duty to try to reform a teacher who has departed from the Dhamma.

      Throughout this whole debate, no-one from the WPP circles has made any serious or meaningful reference to Vinaya, or even to the forest tradition for that matter. It’s been about obedience to the power structures of Thai State Buddhism, from the very first statement by WPP on bhikkhunis, right up until the latest press releases. I’m kind of surprised to see people defending WPP on grounds that they have never claimed themselves. This is, by the way, a general statement, not a criticism of this particular comment.

      It seems to me that meaningful debate must start with the actual statements made by the parties concerned, and must base itself primarily on that. We have to assume that the parties to the debate are honest, intelligent and articulate enough to state their opinion in a reasonably accurate way. Of course, that is not the end of the matter, since we all have agendas and motivations that are hidden, even to ourselves. So some speculation about hidden agendas is reasonable, but only when it does not cut itself adrift from the limited body of facts at our disposal.

    • “The role of a teacher, according to the Vinaya, is to help us understand and guide us in our practice of Dhamma-Vinaya. If their advice is in accord with Dhamma-Vinaya, we should follow that, but if they depart from Dhamma-Vinaya we should not follow their instructions. In fact, a student has the duty to try to reform a teacher who has departed from the Dhamma.”
      Does every dhamma teacher begin with this disclaimer or exhortation?

    • Somewhere above comment..(.Other WPP monks participated in Bhikkhuni ordinations before Aj Brahm and nothing happened to them.) I do believe that was a Mahayana deal and they just sat in on the ordinations. So I dont think that really counts.

    • Actually, my understanding was at least some cases they acted as upajjhaya. Yes, of course, this would not count as far as WPP is concerned, since they’re only interested in their own group. Nevertheless, from a Vinaya point of view it is really no different.

    • bewildered1 said,

      January 31, 2010 at 2:54 am

      Somewhere above comment..(.Other WPP monks participated in Bhikkhuni ordinations before Aj Brahm and nothing happened to them.) I do believe that was a Mahayana deal and they just sat in on the ordinations. So I dont think that really counts.

      So monks like Ajahn Sumedho travel all the way from the UK to California to participate in something that doesn’t count? To show how Bhikkhunis don’t count? Interesting.

      (By the way, I notice you have up to the minute information sources. Impressive.)

    • Dear Kanchana,

      My apology for causing you to upset on my views and comments.
      (i was just expressing and ventilating my views, opinions and comments, and sincerely did not mean to offend anyone but criticized constructively, please accept my apology if it was harsh to you).

      My criticism here is:

      Buddhism would not be helpful to you if you could not “empty your cup”.

      I am getting out of this blog for good (before more unwholesomeness propelled). It is only a unilateral blog as opinions would be gunned down due to bias). I have enough of sharing my views and comments.It is not proactive but destructive to me.

      Hope this controversial issue R.I.P. Sokhihotu to all and i have no ill will, purely metta and sympathy with a sincere hope there will be peace and light in the tunnel.

      “Wishing All Happy & Peaceful blogging”. With peace and love for dhamma.

    • That’s up to you and i wish you well too.

      as for bias…nobody is free of bias… but we are all free to change our minds when presented with new information. I’m very grateful for the differing views presented on this blog; since my intial participation on this blog i have changed my views many times and have been challenged many times.

      its not easy to have our comments tested or rebutted. but that doesn’t mean its not useful.

      wishing you well.

  3. This article in Bangkok Post was published on 28 Jan ‘10. I find the following statements to be quite similar to the views and replies I posted here before this date:
    “The decision to expel him from the Wat Pa Pong clergy and to revoke Bodhinyana’s status as a branch monastery ensued. Rightly or wrongly, this move is more than enough to distance Wat Pa Pong from the Perth ordination controversy. The matter could have ended there. Sadly, this has not been the case.
    The monastics should be the ones who know this best. Now that Wat Pa Pong has parted with Ajahn Brahm, make it a civilised divorce which allows oneself to retain dignity while going their separate ways.
    Live and let live. Let go.”

  4. What caught my attention in Jacqueline Kramer’s article is: “This question of equity is one which people of goodwill throughout the world are currently examining at every angle: political, social, educational, psychological, and religious.”
    This question will take a long time to resolve when gender discrimination of every form had already permeated barbaric societies to several great ‘civil’isations in history. It is already in human DNA, not just cultural. If we believed the story of Genesis: woman was fashioned out of man, to be his companion, to satisfy and make him happy because Adam was found one day hiding behind a bush in the garden of Eden melancholy despite all the good things the all-knowing Creator God had provided.

  5. Wow, you guys are still beating this same drum ? I havent been on here in sometime and thought you would be on to new topics. No matter how you slice it right or wrong, Ajahn Brahm screwed up and slapped his brothers in the face.I believe he knew what he was doing. Just in the same way if the monks at WPP are acting in the wrong ,we all pay the piper and answer to our karma. Anyways who cares, we are in the dhamma ending age anyways. The quality of the monastics everywhere sucks. I saw a Mahayana monk awhile back in the bank with a big wad of cash trying to hide he was a Buddhist monk. I would love to see a monk or nun who didnt have a cell phone a computer and actually tryed to live a life of real renunciation. Lets see a monastery without any electronics or electricity. Its always about the cash, when I have made this same point ,Im told the lay people wont come and give dana. Who cares didnt the Buddha live in the forest ? I think all humans are insane anyways and we are all heading for the cliff. Anyone ever hear of peak oil ? I wonder who will be caring about Nuns when there’s no more oil or gas and food supplies start running out. Have a great day…!

    • Hi Bewildered1

      cell phones? visit Bodhinyana and Dhammasara and you won’t see monastics with cell phones.

      electricity? Buddha encouraged us to fit within the society we are in. most people in this society have electricity. but i don’t think all the monks huts did for a long time!

      Also when Buddha was asked why he did not always live in the forest. he said it was out of compassion for future generations. basically it was so that we wouldn’t feel bad about ourselves and would have the confidence and courage to practise in whatever situations we are in.

      maybe the world is ending and a lot of people are crazy… but i don’t think getting all despairing about it is helpful. when the world ends and we all head off to whatever karmic destination, would you have wanted to have cultivated a tendency towards cultivating wholesome states or unwholesome ones? I don’t think despair is very helpful/wholesome.

      you know, i think a lot of us might be a bit tired of the old drum but if you look at recent history…it’s not this ‘side’ of the fence that’s dragging it on and on and on… phew! i wish they’d just live and let live!!

      You know what, there will be people that will care about the Nuns that they feed and clothe out of faith, even when they are running low on supplies. Because people who are cultivating goodness, they just keep getting good-er! :)
      :)

    • I wonder if you were ever a new ager. When did the Buddha say to fit in with society ? Most of society has sex, drives a car, has a job on and on. So then whats the point of being a monk ? I have a friend in Japan that works at a pub and he said at night the so called monks lock up the temple go to the pub get drunk and then go home and have sex with their wifes. Hey, they fit in with society, but not something that is very inspirational…!!! Some of you people make me laugh.

    • Dearest Bewildered

      Thanks for being so entertaining… :) I’m sorry you feel bitter. I hope you don’t always feel so… :)

      I must apologise for the lack of skill in what I said.

      Let me try and do better:

      1. I believe (and i could be wrong as I do not know where the reference is in the Vinaya/Suttas) the Buddha suggested that (and I think he meant the monastics so it could be in the Vinaya some where but I am really not sure) in living in a society, the basic standards of living of that society should be adopted. So if everyone uses toothpaste…

      2. I must apologise for giving the incorrect information about Bodhinyana with regards electricity. All the monks huts have a battery attached to a solar panel that enables them to run a small reading lamp. The Abbot’s hut, being near the main building and which includes the guest/sick monk’s hut has mains electricity.

      3. I think (I’d love someone to tell me exactly where this comes from) there is a sutta where the Buddha encourages monks travelling to a distant country to fit into there new community by using the language of that new place. I think he says something like, if they call a cup a saucer, then you should refer to a cup as a saucer.

      To me this indicates that it is skillful to find ways of fitting into the community you are in, without losing the essential Dhamma and without compromising your precepts/virtue.

      4. I refer to Sutta 17 in the Majjihma Nikaya (Bhikku Bodhi’s translation). In it the Buddha says that if your practise is progressing in the jungle, then stay there, but if it isn’t then leave. He says the same thing about staying in a village, a town, a city, a particular country or about staying in dependence upon a particular person.

      All the best.

  6. Hi Buddhist People,

    I think the first noble compassionate Nuns (without Bhikkhunis ordination) to cross to the “other shore” are Mother Theresa and Master Cheng Yen (Tzu Tzi Foundation) from the female community, for their living dhammas and not book dhammas.

    See who is the first people to help out in Haiti strucked by earthquakes, while we are here arguing over the Vinaya (when earthquake strucks this Earth, where is the Vinaya)? Who was the first to arrive in Haiti? None other than Tzu Tzi networks, her people & communities ( selfless, sincere, non expectation, non greed,non hatred, non delusion, boundless and borderless). They walk the talk and not talk the talk! Awesome!

    • Since when is it the goal of monks and nuns to be like mother theresa and this whole selfless service thing ? I dont remember reading any storys in the suttas of the Buddha running around helping feed people in haiti. Im sure there is more then enough people helping, I guess its good P.R. Selfless service ? Like I said, how about a monk or nun showing away out of samsara and living it.
      That would be more help then being the red cross for beings that are trapped in samsara and going to die anyways. David, I saw there was other topics just thought this one was put to sleep.

    • Hi bewildered,

      I get your meaning. If you visit Bodhinyana or Dhammasara you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      The culture of money is common in Mahayana and Theravada city-monasteries. The forest (or mountain) monasteries are much purer. But avoid the famous & rich forest monasteries if you’re interested in Dhamma, they have too much political games behind the scenes.

      Best place are poor forest monasteries, or forest monasteries that only recently became rich through the presence of an inspiring teacher who is still alive and teaching.

      bye

  7. Darryl’s departure [1.26.10]
    Is this good? [1.26.10.]
    Catholic nuns in US face scrutiny [1.21.10]
    Modernism and post-modernism [1.20.10]
    Kassapa and Ananda – after the parinibbana [1.19.10]
    Buddhism in the Green Pages [1.17.10]
    Haiti earthquake [1.16.10]

    And that’s just the past twelve days. Beating the same drum? What *are* you talking about?

  8. If working towards reform, I cherish the intention to beat the same drum, strum the same guitar, and stay in 4/4 time until bhikkhunis are equal to bhikkhus, with no garudhammas and a man bowing to a woman who has been in robes longer than he. Please keep on playing, pipers! :-D

    • Im glad to see Brenda has it all worked out for her self . When is your vinaya coming out ? I would love to see it, maybe you could do away with these lame rules altogether. Whats with the no sex thing anyways ? And why keep to eating one meal a day ? how crazy is that ? And why cant a monk or a nun touch money or them selfs for that matter ? Hell, how about alittle canabis to relax after a hard day of begging?

    • You saw there were other topics, but wrote “I havent been on here in sometime and thought you would be on to new topics.” This implies there were no new topics with running comments, which there are. You’re cherry-picking.

    • Dear Bewildered1,

      I could probably do better in working things through for myself, since I was actually being lazy here and thinking along the lines of the fourteen precepts, observed by nuns and monks equally, as established by Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh in 1964. He certainly does a much better job than I ever could in giving words to what he felt carried the deepest teachings of the Buddha, as fit for our time. In an interview, a Vietnamese nun named Chan Khong describes Nhat Hanh’s approach:

      “In Plum Village, the [8 garudhammas] are not observed by nuns, as Thich Nhat Hanh claims they were invented only to [protect and support the first bhikkhuni] Mahapajapati Gotami, stepmother of the Buddha…. [Men and women] need only to keep Nhat Hanh’s 14 precepts properly. But of course he doesn’t despise the traditional precepts. And I can accept them just to give joy to the monks who practice in the traditional way. If I can give them joy, I will have a chance to share my insights about women with them, and then they will be unblocked in their understanding.”

      The earliest Buddhist Sangha, a product of its own place and time, had to generally reflect the sexual politics of the society around them – just as the modern sangha needs to adapt to the conditions of our own place and time.

      With blessings to you, and with metta, in peace,
      Brenda

    • Dear Compassion,

      Thank you for posting the link to the Tzu Chi Foundation. Bhikshuni Master Cheng Yen (founder of Tzu Chi, and 5 time Nobel Peace prize candidate) is one of the most significant women in Buddhism today. Indeed, wherever this extraordinary and inspiring Bhikshuni goes, “good health, peace and love follow closely behind”.

      With good wishes and goodwill to all here,
      Brenda

  9. The perennial saying: Action Speaks Louder Than Words. Book-dhammas are a dime aplenty. Those who can do, do. Those who can’t find the simple way – pray or chant. If monks cannot lead by example (action) but get holed up in monasteries thinking their meditations can take them to higher jhanas are deluded. I much prefer one Mother Theresa than 10,000 meditating and sutta-chanting monks. Of course, there is nothing in the sutta that says monks must help earthquake victims. The Sangha is not a Red Cross Society.

    • I was not so called cherry picking I just thought you guys would have had enough of talk about Ajahn Brahms screw-up. I didnt know that Thich Nhat Hanh was on the same footing as the Buddha and could make up his own rules. What aload of wertern bull. Man there are some wacky ideas on here,but hey thats why there on here.

    • Dear aah-haa,

      I can’t help it but to retaliate gently here:-)

      Don’t quite agree with your one-track mindset. We cannot expect everyone to be the same and have the same goals. When you refer to Sangha there are many types of Sangha from various types of traditions and culture, eg. we have Mahayana with its goal to Pure Land, we Theravada with its goal to Nibbana (free from defilements) and others (whose goals are to Heavens, like the Christians who did a lot of Dana under Sila and perhaps by so doing, Samadhi & Panna arose for them). We cannot criticize others because we do not know.

      Humbly, may i have your permission to allow me to try to elaborate further (still unenlightened and still learning Buddhism).

      Some Sangha or traditions emphasize more on Compassion for others whereas some others emphasize more on solid meditation to achieve their goals to attain Arahanthood in this lifetime.

      Helping others selflessly is one part of Buddhism under” Sila”. The 8-fold Noble Path consists of 3 major practices i.e. Sila (those Red Cross Sangha practises Right Action), Samadhi & Panna (those solid Meditators who are detached from worldly outer concerns, solely dealing with their” inner world” to overcome all defilements taught by our Buddha).

      Sila is a solid foundation for Samadhi & Panna. So, the Red Cross Sangha is on the right track to Enlightenment. Hope you agree with me ( i am still very much defiled ).

      Peace to you.

    • Dear Peacemaker,
      I agree with you – although generosity or wholesome acts do not necessarily have to be acts of heroism…but we can definitely see the tension between sila, samadhi and panna, the stronger the sila, the stronger the samadhi and vice-versa…they are like energy forces that influence each other greatly…the more generosity (generating positive intentions, words, actions) we practice, the more energy arises facilitating or powering samadhi which in turn can fuel panna; the more experience of panna, the easier it is for us to be compassionate in tight corners and therefore to behave skillfully – in turn building sila…etc etc..(interdependence)
      (as long as our helping others does not cause burnout or unskillful mind states for too long…:)
      (hey dont think you’re so special being very much defiled ;-)
      Metta

    • Dear Peace-Maker
      I don’t know which one-track mindset you are referring to. I have several one-tracks, some running parallel and some crossing each other.
      I am aware of the different types of Sangha that followed the various schools or founder-teachers. As such it is nearly impossible to know all of them -and serve no purpose for me to know at all. Only those who are attached to schools would find meaning in their goals.
      I was merely expressing a preference: one Mother Teresa over 10,000 meditating and sutta-chanting monks. Was there any criticism of any Sangha which you claimed I didn’t know?

    • Dear aah-haa,

      “I much prefer one Mother Theresa than 10,000 meditating and sutta-chanting monks.”

      are you aware of MT’s faults too? According to Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a book about her, she was a fanatic and a fraud.

      see this article: http://www.slate.com/id/2090083/

      I guess it’s hard to really get to know a person – best to follow the Buddha’s advice on how to judge a person’s character: you need to say with them for a long time, see them in all circumstances, and observe them closely with mindfulness and wisdom.

      Aslo, in the Vinaya, a monk must, before admonishing another monk: be virtuous himself, have his facts straight, not be acting out of ill-will, not speak harshly, and not be guilty of the same offence.

      Hope these points help!

      All the best,

      Mike

    • hi MIke
      I do not hold MT to be a saint or infallible being free from fanaticism, fundamentalism and fraudulence. Basically, humans with the passion to do something good or evil are to a certain extent possessive of such characteristics. Robin Hood robbed the rich to give to the poor. To me, he was a fanatic, fundamentalist and a fraud. Having said that, it is their actions to elevate suffering (sickness, poverty, injustice, tyranny, etc.) that count more than the taints or dust. I also reckon that passion can carry some people away such that the ends justify ignoble means.

    • Dear David,

      Thanks for the link (Karaniya Metta Suttas).

      The last line of this paragraph in the Sutta caught my attention:

      …. & no greed for supporters.

      This is to be done by one skilled in aims
      who wants to break through to the state of peace:
      Be capable, upright, & straightforward,
      easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited,
      content & easy to support,
      with few duties, living lightly,
      with peaceful faculties, masterful,
      modest, & no greed for supporters.

    • What’s your point David ? If you are trying to say that sutta show’s monks should help earthquake victims can you point it out ? That does nothing of the kind. Having metta for all living beings doesnt mean that monks and nuns have to go save the world. The world cant be saved my its very nature, this is samsara with dukkha as it fuel. When did the Buddha become a christian ? Does anyone really read the suttas anymore ?

    • What’s your point David?
      [refuting your claim that there are no calls to compassionate action in the Suttas, as per your comment "That would be more help then being the red cross for beings that are trapped in samsara and going to die anyways."]

      If you are trying to say that sutta show’s monks should help earthquake victims can you point it out?
      [done.]

      That does nothing of the kind. Having metta for all living beings doesnt mean that monks and nuns have to go save the world.
      [The Buddha refers to not only verbal and mental, but also physical, acts of loving-kindness.]

      The world cant be saved my its very nature, this is samsara with dukkha as it fuel.
      [It's really hard to live the holy life as a householder; how easy is meditation (to say nothing of liberation) when basic needs aren't even met? The Buddha himself chose action and teaching over calm abiding by himself after his Nibbana, but you would have him remain isolated. Ridiculous.]

      When did the Buddha become a christian?
      [...lol wut?]

      Does anyone really read the suttas anymore
      [Yes.]

    • “Having metta for all living beings doesnt mean that monks and nuns have to go save the world. ”

      In my view if you have developed metta for all beings you have no choice but to help them. The form of that help will vary of course.

      “Does anyone really read the suttas anymore ?”

      Not an expert but I do – the Digha, Majjhima and Samyutta so far. More useful is to listen to talks on them from experts such as Ajahns Sujato, Brahm and Bhikku Bodhi.

  10. I particularly enjoyed the comment by someone “Buddha encouraged us to fit within the society we are in.” – isn’t that what all this fuss is about?

    Some people seem to be clinging desperately to dogma and ignoring that society is not as it was 2500yrs ago.

    metta _/|\_

    • Hi Jon

      I should apologise as I didn’t really say what I meant when I wrote that. I invite you to read my reply to Bewildered1 made today; this may clarify what I meant. Thanks very much.

      All the best.

  11. Dear bewildered1,

    May I ask what the purpose of your blogging here? Is it to show us the ‘right path’ to the Englightenment? Or is it to show your disapproval of Aj Brahm’s followers and bhikkhuni supporters?

    You sound well informed of the Buddhist suttas and compassionate for humanity. Your wisdom must have already told you that only a few words cannot knock some ‘right’ sense into people who are strongly attached to their views. Many of the people here are attached to the view that the revival of the bhikkhuni order was a great thing to us all, especially to women. May I beg you to please accept that this is their view and that very little you do can change their view.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you kindly refrain from using harsh speech against people who are still struggling in this Samsara.

    Please forgive me if I somehow have offended you.

    With respect to your standpoint and loving kindness to you,

    Dheerayupa Sukonthapanthu
    A (still stupid) follower of Aj Brahm’s and a Bhikkhuni supporter

    • No purpose at all. Is there any purpose for blogging,it seems like for the most part people with the same views stroking each others ego. Its all good, Im just being the negative to your positve, ying and yang brother. Where was I speaking harsh ? Also even if I feel Ajahn Brahm slapped his bhikku brothers in the face I still like to watch his dhamma talks on youtube. I fully understand that most if not all humans suck and most of the bloggers on here dont know what the hell their talking about. Like the guy who thinks the Metta sutta is the Buddha telling beings to go out and be the red cross. I dont know why westerners want to turn Theravada Buddhism into Christianity and the Buddha into a Jesus figure ? Sorry if I come off alittle harsh, maybe my name should be bitter1. This world is a ball of dung and beings for the most part are dung beetles.

    • Dear BewilderedOne ;)

      I meant it earlier when I said thank you for being so entertaining. Somehow I have found it impossible to take offense at anything you have said…I think it’s cos you have really made me laugh out loud with genuine mirth and good feeling. I don’t know why!? I was thinking about it and even wrote a friend and told her how funny you were… :) So I decided to have another look to see if i still found it funny…and actually i found it even funnier…you illicited an even louder laugh from me…go figure…

      but there it is. no doubt you’re thinking that you don’t give a damn or some thing along those lines…but i think i love (as odd as that sounds) the honesty you are writing with even if i don’t agree with some of your statements.

      I hope someday the laugh comes your way and erases some of the bitterness and pain you’ve experienced.

      Much metta and thanks again for the laughs. All the best to you.

  12. Enough.

    Dheerayupa, you are not ‘still stupid’. Discerning by his/her consistent course of comments, bewildered1, whoever he/she is, is a presumptuous fool.

    Because this is a blog, he/she is welcome. But I recommend we ignore him/her.

    >j<

    • Im a he,I think. Thanks for calling me a presumptuous fool… So your going to become a monk ? Have some Metta for me brother Jason. Bitter people have a reason for being bitter. I have been a Buddhist since 90 and have lived in Thailand so I have seen a lot of “stuff”.

      Peace……Bitter and bewildered

    • Dearest Bewildered,
      “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals. Only when we know our darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
      I believe you are indulging here because you are seeking. At the superficial level, there is much suffering and reaction. And stoking of the same in others. The latter comes from a place of deep agitation and suffering. To stoke the fears and pain of others. However, at a deeper level, I believe you are seeking to understand more deeply. Or else you would not be here, exposing yourself.
      I sincerely wish for you to find deep healing in your wounded heart. May you find a firm and stable place in your practice. May you let go of your long list of disappointments with this or that teacher, Sangha, Mahayana, Theravada, Christian, Buddhist, East West, men, women, etc etc. Just let it all go and sink more deeply into the good patches of earth that you have cultivated in your two decades of practice, those that have nourished you.
      What are they? Spend more time there.
      The same darkness in you is in me. So I know. Yes, I do know.
      But we know the good seeds too. So enough watering the dark places. Let’s water the good seeds.
      I wish this with all of my heart – the bitter and the joyful heart, equally. What would it take to release the bitter so the joy may arise. What would it take? Do not give up. Never give up.
      Metta

    • I think it is getting time for another poetry duel to dispell the despair!
      I challenge one and all to express any further deliberations in any form of poetry. (Except Bhante of course)

    • Or should I have said…

      Just cos he’s a monk
      the one who keeps the blog
      shouldn’t mean that he’s allowed
      to be exempt
      from the hard poetic slog
      despite the danger of us all
      saying
      how very much it stunk
      ;) heh, heh…

  13. Dear Bhante,
    All of this begs the question then, if it is ripe for answering, what does Ajahn Brahm’s Thai Preceptor status matter then? (Of course, I may have missed a detail or two and completely misunderstand! :) (And if it was his intention to set up his own lineage – which I believe 100% that it was not, then the Walters have only just created the perfect conditions for him to do so)

  14. To add:-)

    The rest are prevailing man-made laws and rules that need to be respected and adhered to according to the prevailing conditions of each country, tradition or culture or society. There is no one ideal system that is regarded as ideal and that this is the idealogy to be applied to everyone. The society is so diversified and everyone has different Karma just like no one thumb print in the same in this world.

    For sharing my humble info/views/opinions and not to be construed as imposing or teaching others.Thank you for your kind attention.

  15. Dear Ven Sujato, can I ask, do you know of any Monasteries that practise Jhana meditation by using Kasina discs? I’d be interested to know your views on that. I have been surprised over the years, that I have never met a monk that considered them valid. Monks seem to dismiss them, which surprises me since the Suttas seem to see them as central. I think I have only seen Kasinas in one Monastery.

    What’s your view? I am also interested that you say much of the ‘Burmese insight method’ is not really scripturally valid.

    It seems odd in a way, that a tradition that sees itself as practising the truest, purest form of Buddhism, sometimes ends up following individual teachers interpretations of the teachings rather than the Suttas themselves.

    As Thannisara said in her other post, some of Sumedho’s teachings are from Hinduism.

    I am not saying here, there is anything ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ or ‘dishonest’ in following Ajahn Chah’s, Mahasi or Sumedho’s teachings, some of which certainly do rely on ‘hybrid’ methods, and even ‘new age’ or pop therapy teachings in the case of Western Sangha — On the contrary, as Thannisara suggests, it’s likely that such ‘hybrids’ seem to be a genuine thing as the Sangha adapts to its environment — but shouldn’t we be clear about when they aren’t really in accord with the Suttas, especially since they are typically presented as being ‘pure’ and ‘undiluted’ Buddhist teachings?

    Otherwise, I can only see more confusion heaping up — because if you question some Monks’ teachings, the message you get back is, you aren’t ‘letting go’ enough, because if you did, you’d see the Monk you just questioned was indeed practising ‘true Dhamma’, but you can’t see it, so you question it.

    That leads to projection and denial in my view. It also leads to some senior Monks saying things like ‘people have no rights’, a phrase which is easlily misused.

    Thanks,

    Greg.

    • PS I’d also like to say Ven, that the many diverse points you are raising and tackling here on your Blog ( regarding what really is and isn’t in the Suttas/Vinaya ) are thought provoking in the best meaning of that phrase — you are addressing so many of the issues that I ( and I am sure many of us ) have considered for years now.

      Thanks for doing so, and thanks for giving us all the space and platform where we can join in such crucial debate.

      Greg.

    • Greg said,
      January 31, 2010 at 7:04 am

      “Dear Ven Sujato, can I ask, do you know of any Monasteries that practise Jhana meditation by using kasina discs? I’d be interested to know your views on that. I have been surprised over the years, that I have never met a monk that considered them valid. Monks seem to dismiss them, which surprises me since the Suttas seem to see them as central.”

      Greg, I am not aware of the suttas emphasizing using kasina disks. Jhana, certainly, that’s central and emphasized throughout, but emphasizing using kasinas? It may be mentioned on occasion (though unless I’m mistaken, not a lot). So I’m curious what you are referring to; what am I missing?

      Linda

    • Kasina meditation is mentioned in the Suttas, but not all that often compared to anapanasati etc. The word ‘kasina’ in the Suttas has nothing to do with a disk or other external support for meditation; it means ‘totality’ and, like comparable terms such as ‘appamana’, it is a term for the state of samadhi itself. It first came to prominence in the Dhammasangani, where the kasinas were listed as the first of all meditation objects. They preserve this position in the Visuddhimagga, which brings out the meaning of ‘disk’. In modern Thailand they are practiced, but are never emphasized by the main teachers. There seems to be a slight suspicion of them, as they are associated with psychic powers/magic.

      I agree completely, the issue is not about whether we use hybrid methods or ideas – for any serious student of early Buddhism, the notion of of ‘pure’ Buddhism is just a nonsense. There’s stacks of stuff in the Suttas that’s lifted from, shared with, or influenced by the surrounding Brahmanical or Sramana cultures. This is something that’s ignored by those who criticize talk of ‘equal rights’ and so on. Buddhism is always influenced by its culture; but we need to use discernment to adopt the best and appropriate aspects of a culture. The Buddha took what he wanted, changed what was necessary, and rejected what was harmful.

      Saying such things as that ‘the Buddha did not talk about equal rights’ is self-refuting. One could just as well argue that the Buddha never opposed the idea of equal rights or told samanas that they had no rights. It is not that he rejected the notion of equal rights, it is that in his culture, in his time, people talked about ethics in different terms. As any intelligent person does who actually wishes to take part in a social dialogue, he adopted those terms, or else clearly rephrased them when he thought they were not useful. We have no choice; that is what language is, a medium by which people of different ideas can communicate. We can’t simply wish certain kinds of language away because it’s not ‘pure'; this is fundamentalism.

    • “The word ‘kasina’ in the Suttas has nothing to do with a disk or other external support for meditation; it means ‘totality’ and, like comparable terms such as ‘appamana’, it is a term for the state of samadhi itself.”

      Thanks so much for this clarification!

    • Dear Greg,

      Glad to know that some other people are interested in Kasina. :) May I share my experience regarding this issue?

      As Aj Sujato said, some people discourage Kasina meditations as it is believed that, when well practiced, it can result in great physic powers. Having psychic powers witout fully developed wisdom can be damaging your ‘letting go’ practice.

      However, I was still interested coz when I was about 14, I practiced light kasina meditations by chance. My mother taught me breath meditation, but my father added that it might be easier if i focused my mind on a spot of light. It in fact was much easier to focus on a spot of light than on my breath! Then, I grew up and got caught up in studying and romances and work, and stopped doing meditations.

      Much later I wanted to try again, but could not find any Kasina teacher. Then I attened a 9-day retreat he led in Thailand. Funny that doing breath meditations led by Aj Brahm was very easy and happy and peaceful. Must be the positive vibes from him!

      I had an interview with him about my meditation practices and took the opportunity to also ask him about how to do Kasina meditions. He said that the nimitta we get from a Kasina meditation is very strong and he would not recommend me to do it.

      Yours in dhamma,
      Dheerayupa

    • Sorry I edited my comment and omitted Ajahn Brahm’s name in the sentence: Then I attened a 9-day retreat AJ BRAHM led in Thailand. :)

  16. Lisa Karuna said,

    January 31, 2010 at 6:14 am

    bewildered1 said,

    January 31, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Somewhere above comment..(.Other WPP monks participated in Bhikkhuni ordinations before Aj Brahm and nothing happened to them.) I do believe that was a Mahayana deal and they just sat in on the ordinations. So I dont think that really counts.

    So monks like Ajahn Sumedho travel all the way from the UK to California to participate in something that doesn’t count? To show how Bhikkhunis don’t count? Interesting.

    (By the way, I notice you have up to the minute information sources. Impressive.)

    Not very impressive at all…They have a friendship with City of 10,000 Buddhas in California and take part in their ordinations . Sorry if you didnt understand me or I wasnt clear. All I was trying to say is it wasnt a ordination in their tradition. I could careless if woman enter the sangha. The lay-woman out number the man when you guy to a temple or monastery anyways. Back to your comment about me being impressive, Ill I can say is thank you that was so kind of you. And yes Im being a smart-ass. Seems I have got alot of you bloggers in a bit of a twist. You should’nt let me get to you, Im harmless…

  17. Hey, Kanchana……!

    Im glad I gave you a laugh im really not that bad of a guy. Im just grumpy and always mad at this world. Its like a monkey on my back…
    George Carlin is one of my heros, so that should tell you something.

  18. Dear Avuso

    I’m trying to go, but it’ll require a lot of unskilfull wriggling to get off work. A big project is in sight in June and we’ve been barred from applying for leave, save for emergencies. :( Never mind, I’ll treat all the tensions and disappointments as dhammas that must pass.

    Yikes! Wat Mahathat is so militant? I wonder if it’s because they’re terrified that lay-people will develop the iddhis? Let’s see, going by Ven Buddhaghosa’s estimate that perhaps one in 10,000,000,000 (max, ignoring the stats for the 3 pre-Jhana samadhis) can attain 4th Jhana, and of which one in 100 can attain the iddhis, I seriously doubt if the monks need worry about gahapatis running amok in Bangkok with psychic powers.

  19. Lisa Karuna said,

    January 30, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Dearest Bewildered,
    “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals. Only when we know our darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
    I believe you are indulging here because you are seeking. At the superficial level, there is much suffering and reaction. And stoking of the same in others. The latter comes from a place of deep agitation and suffering. To stoke the fears and pain of others. However, at a deeper level, I believe you are seeking to understand more deeply. Or else you would not be here, exposing yourself.
    I sincerely wish for you to find deep healing in your wounded heart. May you find a firm and stable place in your practice. May you let go of your long list of disappointments with this or that teacher, Sangha, Mahayana, Theravada, Christian, Buddhist, East West, men, women, etc etc. Just let it all go and sink more deeply into the good patches of earth that you have cultivated in your two decades of practice, those that have nourished you.
    What are they? Spend more time there.
    The same darkness in you is in me. So I know. Yes, I do know.
    But we know the good seeds too. So enough watering the dark places. Let’s water the good seeds.
    I wish this with all of my heart – the bitter and the joyful heart, equally. What would it take to release the bitter so the joy may arise. What would it take? Do not give up. Never give up.
    Metta)

    Thank you Lisa. Thanks for putting up a mirror, believe me Im trying to let go. I feel like Prometheus and every day here comes that damn bird.

    Peace……Bewildered

  20. May I share my thoughts & facts on this controversy for the sake of safeguarding the Buddha’s Theravada or Elders lineage that still survived & not died off. I’m not here to cause disharmony but trying to share based on historical facts & turn of events. It’s fact that the Theravada bhikkhuni lineage has died off naturally caused by nature’s way like wars etc. & the Buddha’s lineage went back to its original state during Buddha’s time prior to the conditional1st Bhikkhuni ordination. Once it has died off, it is what it is according to evolution of dhamma & it cannot be resuscitated as it is legitimately “dead”. So, got to wait for the next Buddha i.e. Maitreya Buddha to appear again & wait for another woman like Pajapati to ask the Buddha for 1st ordination & Theravada bhikkuni lineage starts again & left it to evolve again & its longevity. I think no one had the Buddha capacity to resurrect a dead lineage except to start their own one which is not the Buddha’s lineage like other lineages in Mahayanas etc. All these mind-invented naming like sexist & equality are just illusory not factual according to true dhamma.The Buddha’s sangah was originally all males only until Pajapati came along & Buddha admitted her on contidion of the life garudhammas which only a Buddha knew the true dhamma. This dhamma cannot be refuted as no one is a Buddha or samma sambuddha to start a new Buddha Order under the Theravada or Elders lineage. Other religions still respect & maintain this true dhamma too. My argument is solely my own without any influence by anyone but based on historical facts & my deep thoughts on this controversial issue. Although I am a woman doesn’t mean I have to side woman or bhikkhunis if i know it contradicts the facts or true dhamma. I’m saying this not to agitate anyone but solely for the sake of the Buddha pure sasana & we must protect its purity, simplicity,originality. There are now many other lineages in the name of Buddhism under their own leaderships, traditions, rules etc. Thank you for letting me post here. :)

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