Awakening Women Online

Here’s a message from our friend Ayya Adhimutta.

dear friends,

~i want to write to you of a very grand and inspiring initiative that a group (hopefully soon to become very international and multifaceted group, a vast web/network coming together of buddhist women) of us are undertaking.

~ we are hoping to create a multimedia database, gathering chanting, images, art work, interviews, videos, stories, writing and much more from women all round the world.  we hope that each different tradition and lineage and country will be well represented ~ and that this will be an inspiring and very magnificent treasure trove for female practitioners everywhere.  And that instead of such images and stories being difficult to come by and to find, that they will be readily, and that the inspiration from them will be deeply transformative for many.

~ we’re expecting that this project will be ongoing and will take a few years before we have the solid core of resources together (and i’m guessing that it will be ongoing for many years after that. . . . especially as, once we have the internet and basic collection side of things going well, it would be wonderful to share much of this information with our dhamma sisters who speak different languages and who do not have easy access to web-resources.  so, this project, really has vast potential, and i feel will be deeply transformative for many many women (and also our wonderful dhamma brothers ~)

~ there is a spectrum of activities that need your help and assistance, and its diversity means there will be something of interest for almost anyone.  We need people to help collect and record chanting, conduct interviews, collect images, do research and so on,

in the Dhamma,

adhimutta bhikkhuni

For more information please see: http://sakyadhita.org/home/resources/media/AwakeningWomen_Appeal_03022013.pdf

If you would like to be involved in some way with our project, please contact:  awakeningwomenonline@sakyadhita.org

15 thoughts on “Awakening Women Online

  1. I have three questions:

    Can a line of bhikkhus or a line of bhikkhunis in any lineage be restarted after the line has been broken?

    Why is it so important that a line of bhikkhunis be restarted in one particular lineage where it has been broken?

    Is the Sangha of bhikkhus and bhikkunis subject to cessation, only to return again when the next Buddha restarts them? In other words, why is the cessation of a line so surprising?

    • Thank you very much! I have only gotten through the preface and foreword by Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Sujato and Bhikkhu Bodhi’s introduction this morning, but look forward to reading all three parts of this booklet later today. It looks like an excellent explanation of the issue, one that will present a path forward.

    • Hi Brc,

      To answer your questions one by one:

      Can a line of bhikkhus or a line of bhikkhunis in any lineage be restarted after the line has been broken?

      Actually, the whole thing about “unbroken lines of succession” is just a furphy. The Vinaya says nothing of such things. On the contrary, the Vinaya establishes a teacher student relationship for the sake of providing proper mentorship and training for new monastics. These days, many monastics insist on the “unbroken lineage” thing, then give ordinations to people they do not know and never see again.

      No-one likes to acknowledge the plain fact that there is no way of knowing whether anyone anywhere has an “unbroken ordination lineage”. This is not a historical or Vinaya claim, it is a mythical claim. And as a mythical claim, it’s purpose is not to establish facts, but to sustain a sense of belonging within a community. So the real question is, “Who is willing to accept bhikkunis within their community?” And the answer to that is, “not everyone, yet…”

      In practical terms, what this suggests—and this is the letter as well as the spirit of the Vinaya texts—is that we must take a pragmatic and supportive attitude to questions of ordination. The ordination procedure was established to support the practice of Dhamma, not to prevent it.

      Why is it so important that a line of bhikkhunis be restarted in one particular lineage where it has been broken?

      Again, this has nothing to do with Vinaya, as there is no notion of “lineage” in the Vinaya. Everyone is just part of the Sangha, that’s the point. It comes from a symbolic or emotional attachment to a sense of belonging to a community, which is why I call it a “mythic” claim. How you feel about this depends on what kind of story you want to tell.

      If you tell a story of an unsullied, pure form of Buddhism, which has protected itself untainted by the corruptions of other false forms of Buddhism, then it will fit with that narrative to say that a lineage once broken within that pure tradition can never be accepted from outside.

      On the other hand, if you tell a story of the followers of a great teacher, the Buddha, who in various lands and places, have attempted, in their albeit limited and imperfect way, to preserve and practice what he taught, then you will be delighted if, by sharing what has been preserved in different places, we can come closer to the full practice of his teachings.

      Is the Sangha of bhikkhus and bhikkunis subject to cessation, only to return again when the next Buddha restarts them? In other words, why is the cessation of a line so surprising?

      There’s nothing surprising. Everything will end, and that’s that. The question is not, “Can a lineage end”, but, “How can we best use the framework of the Vinaya to support the practice and realization of Dhamma?”

    • Thank you for your thoughtful reflections in answering each of my questions. I’ve only really come to the Dhamma and begun practicing recently (only a few years). Also, my experience with Theravada monastics is limited to a few retreats.

      My first reaction to this question was that the Buddha clearly ordained both men and women, so I couldn’t understand why there was a problem at all. My best guess was that there were institutional concerns among some elders in places like Thailand.

      You raise the issue of pragmatism. I was recently at a retreat led by a senior American Thammayut bhikkhu who discussed it a bit with a small group when asked about it between sessions. His view seemed to be that in practice there is a significant issue of institutional and spiritual leadership and authority among bhikkhunis. As I understood him, bhikkhus and bhikkhunis don’t cohabitate or share the same monasteries. At least, he was talking about some monasteries of bhikkhunis where he thought there were day-to-day difficulties that go beyond financial matters. His point seemed to be that starting up without an established set of senior bhikkhunis has been a problem.

    • Hi Brc,

      Like you, I can’t really understand why there should be a problem, though I have studied and reflected on this for many years.

      The conversation you heard on bhikkhunis was, unfortunately, a typical one. The words “problem” and “bhikkhuni” go together frequently in Theravada narrative on the topic; “bhikkhuni” and “opportunity”, or “inspiration”, or “awesome”, not so much.

      So the “problem” now is the lack of senior leadership. The irony is painful, since most of the Theravada Sangha has steadfastly opposed and tried to stop bhikkhuni ordination, thus denying them the kind of leadership that would have been useful. But rather than discussing, “How do we support the bhikkhunis”, the narrative becomes, once more, the “problems with bhikkhunis”.

    • Ven. Bhante Sujato,

      I hope it’s not impolite, please let me add something to your quote.

      Dear Brc,

      to make the quote of Bhante Sujato a little stronger:

      “How do we support the bhikkhunis”, the narrative becomes, once more, the “problems with bhikkhunis”.

      There is a clear evidence in regard what is actually born:

      Disqualifications.
      The factors that would disqualify an applicant from receiving ordination are of three sorts:

      those marking him as an undesirable member of the Community — if he [she] happens to be ordained, he [she] counts as ordained, but the bhikkhus participating in the ordination incur a dukkaṭa; and

      those indicating that he is formally unprepared for full Acceptance (for instance, he lacks robes and an alms-bowl or does not have a valid preceptor) — the Canon does not state whether these factors absolutely invalidate the applicant’s Acceptance, but the Commentary puts them in the same class as the undesirables, above.

      There is a very Dhamma-Vinaya German proverb: “May it be like it is. If the hen dies, the egg remains”

      and here I like to repeat the main layman task and part to consider of Bhante once again:

      “How do we support the bhikkhunis” so that a chicks become hens and to be well trained and accept able at least, is just a matter of themselves and no roster will reject a righteous and respectful group of hen.

      ( I hope nobody takes the simile insulting but the meaning of it)

      All what layman can do, is to support them with what is needed allowed to them. And all the Bhikkhunis can do is to keep the Vinaya and train well.
      No need to worry about the rooster, as well as no need to be a rooster in a foreign hen house. Just feed them well and the noble chastity will grow by itself. It just needs independence and that is what Dhamma should give, nothing else.

      _()_
      metta & mudita

  2. Venerable Sujato,

    Ven. Adhimutta bhikkhuni,
    Ven. Ayya Sudhamma,

    I am very happy to see your work. Fist of all I like to request, to share you invitation here to make some punna and dhammasamagii work.

    Secound and would like to invite you to visit the laymans project to erect a multilingual “Virtual Dhamma Vinaya Monsatery” (now mainly german and english) which could be maybe a good place for additional work as it’s purpose is to develop an given and allowed environment where Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis can process without borders and access the internet realm without the burden of remorse and handicap in practice. It should be also a place where people will be able to meet Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

    It would be great if you are willing to share critic, rebukes, hints or even possible support. You are invited to help and advice and to take part in the development.
    The Virtual Dhamma Vinaya Vihara is supposed to be given to the noble Sangha as soon as its erecting and function is proper adjusted.

    Venerable Bhikkhu,
    Ven. Adhimutta bhikkhuni,
    Ven. Ayya Sudhamma,
    It would be good if you accept this gift and this invitation.

    Please let me know how you like to remain. Let me also know if there is the will to take part on a critical prove and help, so that I could prepare proper accounts as well as to take care of email account and space if such is needed

    _()_
    metta & mudita
    Johann

    • Good wishes…

      http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/dhammapada-19.html

      He who wholly subdues evil both small and great
      is called a monk,
      because he has overcome all evil.

      He is not a monk
      just because he lives on others’ alms.
      Not by adopting outward form
      does one become a true monk.

      Whoever here (in the Dispensation)
      lives a holy life,
      transcending both merit and demerit,
      and walks with understanding in this world —
      he is truly called a monk.

      Not by observing silence does one become a sage,
      if he be foolish and ignorant.
      But that man is wise who,
      as if holding a balance-scale
      accepts only the good.

      The sage (thus) rejecting the evil,
      is truly a sage.
      Since he comprehends both
      (present and future) worlds,
      he is called a sage.

      _/\_

    • Sadhu!

      Well, it’s really not easy to maintain real metta if one leaves the prerequisites.

      1 Karaṇīyam-atthakusalena,
      ~ yan-taṃ santaṃ padaṃ abhisamecca:
      sakko ujū ca sūjū ca,
      ~ suvaco cassa mudu anatimānī,
      2 santussako ca subharo ca,
      ~ appakicco ca sallahukavutti,
      santindriyo ca nipako ca,
      ~ appagabbho kulesu ananugiddho,

      Beside it it will always a kind of fooling one self. We have a lot to learn and especial to train. Learning to fall is the first we need to train. If we are not familiar with the good and the bad as well, we will never reach such a stage. But that does not mean to stay simply on the same level and do it on and on.

      Thanks for the share of such a reminder.
      Anomudana!

      _()_

  3. Buddhism is harmony not disharmony, peaceful not conflict. If the fruits are plucked prematurely and not ripen, naturally the fruits will taste sour. Imo, if the overall Buddhist Sangha in the world is not unanimous yet on any new rule or change in the vinaya, then like the fruits, relationships would be sour. If the one that preaches to others to be kind and gentle, they must first be kind and gentle to others. Practice what one preaches & not otherwise, otherwise it’s a hypocrite.

    • Dear truthmaniac,

      no, actually not really. That could happen if we have the illusion, the truthmaniac, that there is such as harmony as long as we are in Samsara (the conditioned).
      It is actually good, that we do not fall in such a illusion and it would be not good if we believe that such is possible.

      I don’t know who it began and how the general assuming has arose, that the training is possible without pressure and rebukes. The Vinaya is actually full of such tools. Group pressure is the most effective tool to get out of ones own delusion and of cause it is sometimes hurtful and will be assumed as an ill – will, but actually it is not so if it is done in the right way and with the right intention.

      Buddhism (Dhamma Vinaya) is the Path to harmony, and we actually be happy that it is not acceptable as harmony it self.

      If your mother rebuked you, you may have found it disharmonious. But maybe some years later, you might have gained some additional insight, you will understand.

      A very good reading in this regard is:
      Reconciliation, Right & Wrong

      http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/reconciliation.html

      Let’s strive for harmony! Or in the words of Ajahn Chan:

      Harmony with Others

      One purpose of morality or virtue is harmony with our spiritual friends. This should be our aim, rather than just trying to fulfill our selfish desires. Knowing one’s position and respecting one’s seniors is an important part of our precepts.
      For harmony with the group, we must give up pride and self-importance and attachment to fleeting pleasure. If you do not give up your likes and dislikes, you are not really making an effort. Not to let go means you seek peace where there is none. Discover this truth for yourself. No need to rely on a teacher outside-mind and body constantly preach to us. Listening to their sermon will remove all doubts.

      People get caught in being the leader, the chief, or they get caught in being the student, the follower. Who can learn from all things without being the student? Who can teach all things without being the chief?

      Make bowing a way to care for the entire world around you. Bow with reverence and care. When returning to your cottage put everything down and prostrate first thing. If you go out to sweep, prostrate first. Returning, prostrate. When you have to go to the bathroom, prostrate first, and do it again when you come back, saying in your mind: “Any misdeeds I have done through body, speech, and mind, may I be forgiven.” Stay mindful always. We monks are very fortunate. We have our dwelling place, good companions, lay support, and the teachings. All that is left is to practice.

      & most important:

      The Lost Wallet

      It’s as if you leave home and lose your wallet. It fell out of your pocket onto the road away back there, but as long as you don’t realize what happened you’re at ease — at ease because you don’t yet know what this ease is for. It’s for the sake of dis-ease at a later time. When you eventually see that you’ve really lost your money: That’s when you feel dis-ease — when it’s right in your face.

      The same holds true with our bad and good actions. The Buddha taught us to acquaint ourselves with these things. If we aren’t acquainted with these things, we’ll have no sense of right or wrong, good or bad.
      _______________

      May this short disharmony (disagreement) help you to find the way to harmony! Another trap but we practice, not done yet.

      _()_

      metta & mudita

  4. Friends,
    No need to worry about “was”, “was not”. There is and if good followed by the unique parts, it will be long, not just only as a label for worldly interests of those or them.

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