Why Buddhist men shouldn’t be ordained

Just because I can’t resist.

10. A man’s place is in the workforce, where he can earn money to donate to nuns.

9. Mens’ avoidant and primitive ways of communicating and dealing with emotions make them unsuitable for community living.

8. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to pursue a spiritual calling. Indeed, the broad shoulders and “top-heavy” physique of “real men” can cause them to topple over in meditation. This creates a crashing noise that distracts the women, whose “pear-shaped” bodies have clearly evolved for sitting still for long periods of time.

7. Studies have shown that men are more violent and more promiscuous than women. In addition, men drink more. They therefore have stronger unwholesome roots of greed, hatred, and delusion due to their bad kamma in past lives. This makes it impossible for them to keep even the five precepts, still less live as monastics. These roots can be weakened if men make merit by giving gifts to the more evolved beings, females.

6. Men are too emotional to be monks. Their conduct at football games and boxing matches demonstrates this.

5. When male monks wear their robes over one shoulder, they expose their muscular and commanding upper body. This distracts women devotees, and is therefore inappropriate in a monastery.

4. Monastics need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This is because they are naturally more compassionate and wiser. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

3. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

2. The Suttas tell us that the Buddha was betrayed and assaulted by Devadatta, a man. In addition, it was male monastics who were behind the schism at Kosambi. Another man, Udayin, was so badly behaved as a monk that many rules had to be made to keep his male impulses to violence and sexuality in check. Indeed, it was the unbridled sexual desires of a man, Sudinna, which forced the Buddha to change his mind and lay down the rules for monks and nuns. Thanks, men.

1. Men can still be involved in religious activities, even without being ordained. They can cook, wash dishes, do laundry, and make nice things to offer to women. In this way they can make merit and hope to be reborn as a woman.

102 thoughts on “Why Buddhist men shouldn’t be ordained

  1. Hi Sujato.

    Long time distant dweller on your blog, but couldn’t resist jumping in here, on a (only slightly less) silly note…

    Having personally considered ordination (& dabbled once, with 12 months on 8 precepts…)

    & having had further such thoughts largely “put off” by:

    a) no digging [maybe Mayahana ordination is the answer to that one...]

    b) no singing & dancing (I write music, in fact Sujato your former “incarnation” & I were on the same label briefly…)

    It has occurred to me that maybe a more compassionate, useful, “enlightened” course of action is in fact not to ordain & continue to serve others in a more practical & “unfettered” way & simply continue with meditation practice…

    Maybe my viewpoint simply was / is more Mahayanist from the outset…

    Or maybe Anagarika at some future stage… at least then i can still do the gardening!(?)

    As far as 8) above goes… unfortunately I tend to find women with shaved heads incredibly sexy, & humbly request all nuns please keep their distance in the interests of all concerned!

    • Hi Tim,

      a) Really? Digging? Not sex? Food? Lying on the beach with your girl? This indicates what is known in Pali, if I translate it literally, as “weirdness”.

      b) Get away You were on Rooart? Haven’t thought of them for years!

      As to whether non-ordaining is more compassionate, for me it’s purely personal. I love being a monk, and others don’t.

      And as for your final comment, in all seriousness, part of what I put in this post comes from seeing the whole objectification thing play out in monasteries. Women are blamed if they wear shorts or whatever, but it’s fine for monks to go around practically upper-body-naked. When Buddhists complain and say that women in monasteries need to cover up, I just invite them to look at some traditional Buddhist art, like that of Solias Mendis I posted a little while ago, and see what was considered acceptable female attire until quite recently in Buddhist countries. Sadly, women are still felt to be the cause of men’s sexual problems.

    • Hi Sujato,

      Yes I suppose I was simply saying that what is, or isn’t, inducing desire is ultimately pretty subjective…

      People have fetishes for bare feet after all (for example) & probably a lot more mundane besides…

      I suppose the theme that is emerging here (in terms of my resolution of these conundra…) is “know your audience”: when it comes to expectations of conduct, & endeavouring to meet them, in a spirit of friendliness & tolerance rather than strict adherance to unshifting law.

      Dogmatic adherence does make things easy, but I also feel it’s something that wisdom & judgement & experience help us to know when to transcend….

      Which is pretty much how I feel about the whole Theravada / Mahayana thing come to think of it….

      Does the definition of “Buddha” necessarily imply “infallible constructor of (relatively) immutable law”?

    • Dear Lisa, Bhante said “in all seriousness, part of what I put in this post comes from seeing the whole objectification thing play out in monasteries. Women are blamed if they wear shorts or whatever, but it’s fine for monks to go around practically upper-body-naked.” I think it is fair to ask which monasteries he was thinking of.

      Perhaps you might just laugh and enjoy!

    • I think part of the humour is that we aren’t supposed to take it literally / it’s being ironic when it comes to gender issues.

      Of course it’s sexist. We know (hopefully) sexism is incorrect, & thus we see humour in the lunacy of the observation. That is assumedly the aim…

      On the other hand, I think there is something deeper here being touched upon re: the nature of ordination, although it is probably nothing that hasn’t been said before.

      Although this raises another issue re: un-PC humour. I myself am prone to some rather distasteful wisecracks from time to time.

      Not indicative of “right speech / right conduct?” perhaps…

      But then start dismantling these ideas with an ambition to strive towards non-dogmaticism, & the intellectual house of cards start to collapse.

      Action vs. motivation…

      speaking personally: Vote 1 intuition…

      But you of course, also have every right to find it sexist, I would think anyway.

      But then see above… : )

    • I’m with you Tim. Humour is a very important part of practice! And a good way to help us let go of dogmatism. It also deflates the tension behind our respective views in conversations where those views are exchanged. I’ve had the best laughs with Dharma friends because we can be non-PC trusting fully that the intention behind the exchange is wholesome. _/\_

    • Understanding the context of Bhikkhu Sujato’s humorous list, I see where he was coming from. However, I do believe that humor of this nature, while appealing to post-modern western snarksters, is unnecessarily discomforting to some and leaves others feeling ambivalent or confused. It’s perfectly fine for Buddhists to utilize this type of humor, as there are no moral issues involved. Further, there are little, if any, apparent drawbacks regarding final liberation. This is why there is no explicit prohibition of this, for either Buddhists intent on Heaven or those intent on Nirvana. Thus, there is nothing explicitly “wrong” or “un-Buddhist” about this type of humor.
      However, we never see the Buddha or any of the Arahants (nor any representative of the Dhamma) utilizing humor of this kind. That is something well-worth acknowledging and taking to heart. While there are instances of humor, humor falls far short of being the preferred pedagogical strategy. But it’s definitely up there on the list! But this much can and must be said: the instances of humor displayed by the early community embody the type, the style, the genre of humor displayed here. Rather, they are all cases of a more refined, dignified, and reserved humor.
      One would expect no less from Tathagatas and Ariyas, of course. Why? Because they understood that when there is an opportunity to speak straight to the heart of a sentient being who has become, for a moment, both able and willing to hear the Dhamma, it’s not worth wasting an opportunity to open the door to the Deathless for the chance to stimulate and delight one’s own and/or another’s sense of wit and humor. Dhamma first, humor second. When the latter is SURE to aide the former, use it. When in doubt, drop the humor and keep the Dhamma.
      The Ariya-Sangha was the unexcelled field of merit in the world; the Buddha, consummate in knowledge and conduct as well as the unexcelled trainer of those ready for training. The universal standards of dignity, refinement, and reservation are the inalienable qualities of the Buddha and his personal mentees that helped to convert kings, queens, philosophers, sages, prostitutes, landlords, ascetics, bankers, farmers, traders, murderers, and untouchables – all within a few short decades. Such spotless behavior – offending few – was meant to impress a maximal amount of people; to engender respect and inquiry from a maximal cross-section of society; and thus maximize the dispensation and influence of this well-expounded Dhamma in the lives of individuals and communities.
      ***The Buddha laid down an intense and extreme behavioral code for those whom he had wanted to represent his Dhamma well into the future (bhikkhu/bhikkhuni sanghas); a behavioral code that went far above and beyond the moderate behavioral standards necessary for attaining Nirvana***. Why? To create an immaculate vessel for transmitting the Dhamma. To create a pedagogical community whose behavior would in no way, under no circumstances, tarnish or taint folks’ image of the Buddha or of the Dhamma by unnecessarily giving rise to offence among listeners and observers. THAT, friends, is the unacknowledged and unappreciated intention behind the vast majority of the monastic “rules.”
      A true community of renunciate beggars (lit., “bhikkhu/ni”) living sexless, possessionless, accomplishmentless lives is a living, breathing, tangible proof that there are happinesses available beyond the gratification for sexual gratification, possessions, worldly ambition – and even digging. And heck, weren’t we promised a happiness that gets us through/goes beyond bodily decrepitude, agonizing illness, and death? And it’s not just that these folks are sexless, etc. – they also speak, act, and behave with outstanding and universal etiquette. This is why the renounced folks are the “refuge” and the “jewel/treasure” – not lay folks. It’s not about being better than the lay folks, nor really about being closer to Nirvana. It’s about being a body of physical evidence that challenges us to question our doubts in a teaching that claims to offer an unshakeable serenity of mind, a Deathless happiness, to all – even if they are sexless, ambitionless, possessionless.
      This is why the Bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are worthy of offerings, an unequalled field of merit, etc., i.e.: because they’re the ones willing to adopt a lifestyle that is so extreme in its austerity and so immaculately impressive as to prove the veracity of the Dhamma’s truths, the efficacy of its practices, and the viability (sanditiko) of the happinesses it offers (sila, jhana, and Nirvana). This is also why it’s so important for bhikkhus to avoid political discussions, to avoid acquiring/using money, from selling the Dhamma, etc. Each of these prohibitions is essential to maintaining the Sangha’s status as the *unexcelled* and pristine field of merit and source of refuge. But doing so requires sacrificing the smaller happinesses *in order to prove the superiority of the higher ones available through the Dhamma*. This is why it’s so ironic when those following the ancient beggars’ codes are called “selfish” and “lesser” (Hina).
      While the first Sekhiya rules, mandating decorous behavior in travelling to and abiding in inhabited/public areas (e.g., the internet, vis the Four Great Principles of the Vinaya advocated by Ashoka), might be brought in to argue against the more biting and vulgar forms of humor, I believe it is the Buddha’s and the Arahants’ examples that we must rely on in understanding and exemplifying the nuances of skillful humor.
      While I understand the Bhikkhu’s intent in writing this post – and I agree with the substance – I was initially repulsed. It’s only days later that I, an ardent and faithful practitioner, returned to the blog sight searching for something else by the author and decided to give this post a second look. What would have happened if I’d been an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person referred to the blogsite by a friend who had faith in Sujato? What if I’d been unimpressed, or even repulsed, by this “informal” and arguably somewhat vulgar brand of humor? Or what if I just couldn’t understand it, and felt intellectually intimidated, or just uncomfortable enough to not want to return? This type of humor, while being both morally and soteriologically neutral, seems to be pedagogically risky, unreliable. Most importantly and significantly, it is not necessary. Again, it is (a) risky and (b) unnecessary for transmission of Dhamma.
      Again, for the record, there is nothing immoral or “wrong” with this type of humor. But let’s just say that there are folks whom I’d recommend to folks desiring liberation, and there are folks I wouldn’t It’s about skillfulness and efficacy of approach. Monks, male and female, living off of alms donated out of faith in the Buddha and his Dhamma, should do everything to see to it that they uphold their charge to be an incomparable source of merit, refuge, and treasure for beings in samsara, bewildered and in search of the heart’s sure release. If your going to receive free food in His name, it seems the right thing to do. Maybe even if it means attenuating their favorite brand of humor. Maybe. What would the Arahants do? The Buddha?

    • How do I donate more money and food to Sujato and his community of nuns and monks?

      Thanks, Nalaka

    • I fear that the accidental omission of the crucial word “no” in the last sentence of my first paragraph totally changed its meaning. Just in case the error wasn’t clear from the rest of the comment, that sentence should have read :

      “….**NO** instances of humor displayed by the early community embody the type, the style, the genre of humor displayed here. Rather, they are all cases of a more refined, dignified, and reserved humor.”

      Also, forgive my spelling and grammar errors in the last paragraph. And thank you for your Time and attention, Tim Mortimer and Nalaka. I am sorry, but I am new to this blog – and new to Sujato in general – so I am as yet unsure how to donate to Sujato. I’m not sure if he is still abbott, I’m not sure where he’s residing, etc.

    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the consideration and for the well thought out comments.

      As for donations, that’s very kind of you! I’m living at Bodhinyana now, so I don’t really have any need for donations. We do have a small fund kept by some supporters in Sydney, which we use for costs associated with suttacentral.net. We don’t have any way of donating online, but if you’re interested to support SuttaCentral, let me know and we’ll arrange something.

    • You’re quite right, I noticed this but couldn’t think of anything better! Suggestions welcome…

      It’s why I took a non-monastic ordination

      Because, of course, there’s no sexism outside the monasteries…

    • alternative to #3 to deal with the repeat (couldn’t resist):
      Men have a stronger need to build up and maintain their egos. They also have a hard time taking responsibility for their feelings. They would rather use brute force to settle disputes and differences of opinion than communication skills. Therefore, they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership. In addition, this genetic handicap makes them unable to realize the central teaching of the Buddha, that of ‘no-self’. Therefore they should not waste their time in ordaining but rather support those that are capable of this realization.

    • Well-said Lisa & Tim (your points about humor).

      Hope it’s not necessary to say this to anyone reading, but I’m saying it anyway–my post above is not meant to be taken seriously! Sorry if anyone finds it offensive.

  2. On a light note, one solution to all these rather complicated issues on gender in the Theravada tradtion is to introduce unisex monasteries where either nakedness is the norm or the burqa defies all imagination of it. “Habit”, after all, is what undermines the exotic behind the fig leaf.

    On a more pensive note, whilst living in Italy for nearly 10 years I discovered a new religious order of the Catholic tradition in Rome that had been established in France. They live and practice in the cathedral just above the “Spanish Steps”. The monks and nuns live together living the contemplative life in meditation and song. I wonder if the Vinaya would ever be able to trust gender difference and allow such a reality to emerge or is this just naivety to even consider that men and women could practice together freely and independently of sexuality issues? Indeed, I could go one step further and suggest that sexuality issues, in any case, would not be excluded from same sex communities as it is always the case that not everyone is heterosexually inclined. On that basis, how would the Vinaya “protect” gay monks and women from their “unbridled sexual desires”? If there is doubt here then what makes same sex monasteries any “safer” than unisex monasteries?

    • Hi Jeremias,

      Regarding the homosexuality issue, this is very true, and is why the attempts to “solve” the problem of monastic sexuality by strict segregation and the like are doomed to failure. Such segregation has more to do with maintaining a strict image for the laity than it has with actual conduct or desire.

      Purely as a statistical fact, male/female sexuality is more common, so it is the default issue when these things are considered in the Vinaya. Nevertheless, the Vinaya is entirely neutral on the subject of gay or straight sexuality. The gravity of sexual transgressions for monastics has to do with the act that is involved and the intention behind it, not the gender of the participants. Gay sex is treated in considerable detail, without the slightest shame or prudishness, and is invariably assessed exactly as the corresponding hetero act would be.

    • Hi Peter,

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to here, but I presume it’s the statements about homosexuality. In that case, yes, it does apply.

      To go in a little more detail, there are several instances where the monastic code is actually far more lenient on homosexual misconduct than hetero. For example, for a monk to touch a woman out of lust is a sanghadisesa, but to touch a man is not. Similarly, there is no parajika offence for lesbian sex (since the parajika must involve penetration by a penis).

      It would be a mistake, however, to interpret these instances as implying a deliberate policy of leniency towards homosexual acts in the Sangha. If you follow through the history of the rules, they were laid down in an ad hoc manner, and were adapted for circumstances. Since the circumstances were primarily hetero, the homosexual cases were derived secondarily, after the basic rule had already been laid down. In some cases this meant that the basic rule was only partially adapted.

      The point, rather, is that there is no special or extra penalty for homosexual relations as compared with hetero ones. They are essentially treated in an identical manner, and the variations, which in legalistic terms are more lenient towards homosexual acts in certain cases, are the outcome of the formalistic development of the Vinaya, rather than any moral or spiritual reason. Instances of such apparently uneven application of rules are found everywhere in the Vinaya, and a good Vinaya scholar knows not to overinterpret them.

    • Hi Bhante Sujato
      I was referring to your comment “The gravity of sexual transgressions for monastics has to do with the act that is involved and the intention behind it, not the gender of the participants”, which does not always seem to be the case.

      Would you advocate a widening interpretation of the rules, which are, as they stand, more lenient towards homosexual acts?

    • I think generally in practice these rules would tend to be interpreted along similar lines, whatever the form of sexuality. However, it is so contextual that it is difficult to make generalizations. Of course, for most monastics who are dedicated to their practice, these things never come up.

  3. Dear Bhante and fellow bloggers,

    I sent this to an Aussie male friend and below is what he wrote back. :D :D :D

    10. A man’s place is in the army.

    Well, there are a lot of blokes there…

    9. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.

    ??? aren’t children part of the flock?

    8. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do ministerial tasks.

    Yes, men are stronger, faster and braver.

    7. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

    Well, men do like to practice to make things perfect.

    6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football and basketball games demonstrates this.

    I could just cry thinking about this.

    5. Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshipers.

    Easily fixed… pick the ugly ones.

    4. Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.

    Some women are not very nurturing. :(

    3. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

    I’ll fight to the death to prove you wrong.

    2. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.

    What about Delilah deceiving Samson?

    1. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.

    Yes, they can do all that, but you’ve left out baking cakes for the annual church fair.

  4. Funny. Such a paradox. But as Suzuki Roshi said, “It’s best to be the worst horse.” Your thesis actually doesn’t “carry water or chop wood” in the end. Oh well. :)

  5. This was a fresh, humorous take, indeed! Thank you for this! As a Christian woman, there is a lot of discussion regarding what roles women may be allowed to, or more aptly suited to serve in. But do we question the aptness of men for these roles?

    • Never. Never question male leadership. Always question female leadership. ;-) Just watch a newscast or two. The seeds of male preference are in all of us. Why it is good to step back and look at them in good humour from time to time!

  6. Bante,your post strikes me as divisive. I am a member of lay community that hosts male and female monastics throughout the year. We do encourage modest dress, for example, not because we are blaming lay people for causing a problem for the monastics. Of course, as you know, no one can break a precept for you. Rather we see it as trying to support the conditions for those living a celibate lifestyle. The monastics we host do not walk around topless — they are always modestly dressed in their upper robes or tunics, setting a lovely example of modesty and decorum. Respectfully-

    • Hi Jessica,

      I just wanted to say thanks for criticizing in a helpful, respectful, and meaningful manner. A rare quality on the internet, it seems!

      It’s great that you have a harmonious community where gender is not an issue. Unfortunately this is not the reality for many women in Buddhism. Anyone who is familiar with the attitudes and behaviors in many monasteries and communities will recognize the things I’ve mentioned here. They are far more common than the situation you describe, sadly.

      Humor has its uses. The Buddha frequently used a gentle sarcasm, specifically targeted at pricking the pomposity of those who would set themselves above everyone else.

  7. Great post – thanks for the humour venerable

    Also you no “the bits”- that surely must no make for easy sitting?

  8. Modesty and decorum? How boring Jessica. Beauty and aesthetics are much more conducive to realising the dharma. The human body is beautiful. Why hide it so much. If a person can not control themselves when seeing a bit of cleavage or muscle should they be celibate or a monastic? I see beautiful human bodies every day. I don’t lose my mind when this happens and try to have wild sex with them.

    The reason I never became a monk is because the colours of the robes are so plain and the approach to modern life is still repressed. (Although Sujato seems to be one of the only western monks I have seen get the balance right)

    I love the dharma. I have practised intensely since my twenties. And I also love competitive work environments, beautiful people, literature and poetry, fucking, and especially the AFL.

    There is neither any science nor statistics to prove that people practicing celibacy become enlightened faster than people who have sex. There is much more statistical evidence supporting the fact that many monks attempting celibacy end up doing much more damage with their dicks than good.

    Why is their such a preoccupation for Buddhism in the west to now be associated with really boring white middle class lifestyles? Where is the modern Ikkyu to revolutionise modern Western Buddhism?

    • Clearly, Theravada Buddhism isn’t for you. There may in fact be others whose spiritual leaders dress up in technicolor dreamcoats and have sex with their followers.

      Anyway, I’m not sure what’s so difficult to understand about the spiritual value of renunciation and of practices that are intended to orient the mind toward something other than pleasuring oneself through the five physical senses.

      And, yes, there is a science that proves that people practicing celibacy achieve full awakening and that people who engage in inappropriate sexual activities won’t glimpse nibbana at all.

      In the meantime, may the happiness that you have found in competing with coworkers for scraps and in feasting your eyes on those beautiful bodies continue.

      Good luck with that.

    • Well said, BRC. Not many lay followers value the role of renunciation in this practice. Renunciation and relinquishment of sensual pleasures are typically unpopular Buddhist practices in the west, but, indeed, they are the among the ones most highly valued by the wise. The ending of craving for sense pleasure is the ending of suffering, period. It’s easy to confusion dispassion with boring. But it is the feeling of boredom (restlessness, dissatisfaction) that leads to a constant seeking of that which will not lead to the end of suffering. Dispassion, on the other hand, is the end of suffering. Blessings-

    • Yes, you have rightly pointed out that Theravada is not for me. As for technicolor robes I wouldn’t enjoy that. The colours are too bright. I like Armani suits? But that isn’t renunciation is it? Maybe something more simple like jeans and a shirt.

      And as for teachers sleeping with their students, well this is my point, it is shit and damaging and I have observed so many cases of Buddhist teachers practicing “celibacy” who end up being the worst offenders. I would rather a teacher be in touch with their sexuality and sexual energy. Be promiscuous or enjoy sex, but be honest and open about it and don’t be a dickhead about your need to fuck. And I have also observed western lay practitioners trying to be the “celibate forest renunciate warrior”, who eventually ‘pop’, losing their tiny mind and causing a trail of sexual destruction.

      I can appreciate practitioners who intelligently embrace celibacy at the right time of their life and can do it without harm. But I tend to notice more harm done than good.

      I can only speak as a 34 male. And I prefer to be truthful about what works for me, rather than shave my head, hold in my sexual energy and develop a tedious ‘look at me I’m a real Buddhist’ approach to life.

      So through beautiful bodies and the confidence to embrace the world as it is, I’ll proceed towards awakening. May this happen for you in whatever form works best.

      Peace out and thanks for your feedback :-)

    • When monks are ordained they must remember that their ‘job’ now is to do the task (to be a holy man). It’s a real task. Buddha had lay down rules for monastic to follow but there’re those who doubt Buddha’s rules. It’d be more honorable for those ‘defeated’ to disrobe than to try to change the Buddha’s monastic rules to fit into their cut. Why do you think Buddha gave 40 meditation methods to monks for? Buddha gives proper clear instructions & tools for monks to follow for their liberation from sensuality? They’re right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration, meditation on loathsomeness (asubha), death meditation,meditate on 4 elements, satipatthana, anapanasati, metta meditation, reflections on the body & mind & many many more. Monks are supposed to do all these tasks to overcome their sensuality & sexuality. If sexual energy rises, they should use this opportunity to look at it, its true nature & comprehend them as anicca dukkha anatta, they should detached themselves from this delusion, they should feel the sensations of their body and not pursue the ‘mental object’. They had to be a warrior, so to speak, to do this task. Buddha had taught all the skills necessary to do this. Naturally it’s not an easy task but this IS the task monks are supposed to work on for their salvation which is the reason they are in robes & not for any other worldly reasons. Monks who do not do the task taught by the Buddha or too lazy to or still attached to worldly pleasures & sensual pleasures would tend to blame on the rules & doubt the teachings or what have you. The Dhamma is pure and perfect & Buddha said his teachings needs no additions or subtraction. It is the monks who need to add right effort & subtract their attachments to transcend sensuality, sexuality & worldly pleasures, greed, hatred & conceits. I’m sure Buddha didn’t introduce celibacy to make monks suffer or asking them to suppress their sexual energies but for them to train themselves, understand the reality of them, see them & realize them that they are merely objects & sensations of the mind & body & transcend them. Buddha said the task is done for those who can see all those conditioned that rise, persist & fall away. Right mindfulness IS necessary. Such monk is a true monk & a spiritual noble warrior. Of course, we have to face with the reality that there are skillful and unskillful monks. Don’t blame the rules as being outdated or ancient. Those who failed should blame oneself not doing the task skillfully, properly as instructed & taught by Buddha & not heedful.

    • Hi Truthmaniac,

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your feedback regarding practitioners taking responsibility for their actions and not blaming the teaching/rules.

      Firstly, I would like to apologise – sorry Jessica – for my reactive and short sighted comments. I never want to impose one lifestyle as the ideal, and at the expense of another. If a celibate lifestyle supports a practitioner to realise the Dharma then I think that is great. And as to tastes in clothing and aesthetics, that comes down to personal taste and who cares in the end as long as it creates beauty and happiness in a persons life. It’s funny actually, I love the ritual of putting my suit on everyday for work, and consider it to be aesthetically pleasing and creating simplicity, similar to how a monk or nun might enjoy the beauty of putting on the robes in the morning.

      In a way I am a reaction to my upbringing. I grew up in a family of theravadin Buddhists. My parents were extremely dedicated to meditating, memorising the Pali cannon and supporting monks. I benefited immensely from their skilfull approach to life. Unfortunately I also saw them get absolutely conned by a monk (hey, it was the 70’s and westerners were still naive to some of the motives of not so ‘pure’ monks). I think the highlight of this monks behaviour was when a baby popped out of one of the students looking identical to the monk, and the monk continued to say “it’s not mine”! Lol hahaha

      Truthmaniac, I value your point about the various methods that are provided in the teachings to support practice. The great thing is that anybody can utilise them for benefit whether a monk, nun or non-monk, non-nun practitioner. And I agree with you that it doesn’t help to blame the methods when they don’t work, rather than skillfuly reflect on one’s own karma.

      I do think it is important that “rules” are questioned at all times, as they can often have no value or benefit when it comes to realising the truth. And I tend to think this is the value of Sujato’s post. It is a comical dig at the outdated and unecessary rules of Theravada. If the rules are not challenged we can’t evolve.

      I suppose I should have found a more skillful way of questioning the rule of no- sex as a monk. And I suppose I do question it as it doesn’t seem to work for the average ‘career’ monk in South East Asia who probably doesn’t even want to be a monk. They tend to then engage with their sexuality in an unskilfully way. The Dharma is universal whether ordained or not. Rules are pretty much ‘man’ created and need to be questioned and changed as humans, society and culture evolves.

      As for me, I do not foresee sex, football, my luxury car or poetry getting in the way of my ability to realise the Dharma. If it gets in the way for you, please do something else.

      With Metta,
      Nalaka :-)

  9. Dear Bhante, long time no see. Wonderful piece, glad to see how far you’ve come ;-p

    Every blessing,

    Marianne Jago-Bassingthwaighte

  10. I loved this and laughed all the way through – but it’s a wry laugh isnt it beause what you are highlighting is the sexism played out in many so-called buddhist cultures and traditions and turning it on it’s head – which of course some of your respondants seem to be missing or minimising or ignoring… strange that…

    • Isn’t it great that Bhante is re-claiming Buddhism form these so-called buddhist cultures.

      Sexism is over there not here!

    • Bhante I’m sorry that you think my comment was “snark”.

      Now when someone refers to “so-called buddhist cultures” who is being referred to? Is the “so-called” bit snark?

      Or when we say “whole objectification thing play out in monasteries.”. which monasteries are being taught about? Just sound like some kind of abstract smear – we are right and they are wrong. Is that not snidey?

      And how about if we think sexism is something that other people have not me?

  11. “Thanks, men” :)
    Brilliant, thank you Bhante, it made my day.

    However, regarding the problems with self-restraint – I have been wondering for a long time who may have written that idiotic comment about the Queen Mallika and the dog?

  12. I Hope I’m not lowering the tone of the discussion, but I REALLY had a good laugh at Bhante Sujato’s reversal of all the arguments used against women who want to ordain.
    Similar arguments have been put to make it difficult for women to enter fully into many areas of public life, and many career paths. Almost everywhere women’s abilities have not been given the opportunities to fully develop, and this is to the detriment of everyone in society.
    Reversing the arguments, as Bhante has done, makes it clear just how rediculous the arguments are, and makes us smile at the same time – how can this be bad?
    Thank you Bhante for your wonderful teachings of metta, and for everything you do. The merit of your practice is for the benefit of at least one sentient being, me!
    I appreciate so much the wholehearted support you give to women’s ordination. Although I am not intending to ordain myself at present, your actions are so affirming of the value of women as human beings, and spiritual beings, and this means so much to me.
    With metta and many thanks,
    Liz

  13. after reading this post though I admit to finding the thought of someone posting this in a serious manor laughable, I am glad that seemingly from comments it was meant as humour, though its only when reading the comments I became aware of its intent.
    I think such sexist view though idiotic and laughable should be written about with more care as some do hold such views (as seen by some comments) and would not see it as ludicrous and laughable. to joke in such a way that it may come across as serious views only adds to sexist mentality of those more closed minded.
    reading it myself I thought either its a self hating male with gender issues or a sarcastic view on gender roles, but regardless of its intent or indented audience, as written (in a serious setting with out even a mild declaration of pun) its is offensive to both men and women and potentially harmful to those who would be swayed by such warped views.

    • I agree with you. I do feel bad for the Bhikkhu, as I already upbraided the unbecoming nature of this brand of humor, reminding that not a single one of the early male or female Arahants are recorded as ever having used this style of interaction to convey Dhamma. Let us refrain from further abrasion and allow the Bhikkhu to heed our input, that of the suttas, and that of his older brothers in Dhamma, and lets let him come to his own conclusions with humility and self honesty without any further castigation from us .

  14. Hi Joanna,

    Seriously, this is humour – I am not joking.

    What sort of world are we living in that we cannot even laugh at ourselves – everyone laughs at me – no just joking. But I cannot seriously imagine a world that such a post is taken so seriously and criticised to the level you have and you are not joking. Please tell me you are joking.

    If you are seriously offended by such a light hearted reverse look at sexism possibly you should dress up in an animal suit and go for a walk down the street or something.

    I thought the article was a perfectly timed light-hearted finale to a long a fraught peacemaking “battle” with womens ordination.

    Thank you to whoever posted it.

    • Hi Joanna,
      Just because something is humour does not mean that it should be free from criticism. Humour can also be inappropriate. My perception of the original post is that it is playing to Bhante Sujato’s gallery and that it is divisive and that it doesn’t really add much to what are serious issues that go beyond Buddhism – how we interrelate as humans. But also it is no big thing.

    • Tim,

      Also I think the “something else” was in part joy and happyness ie nirvana, enlightenment – not misery or atheticism, so I am no expert on Buddhism but even so I am not sure your account of Buddhism is really a correct interpretation of the Buddha’s teachings

    • Raver, I hear where you are coming from, but the Buddha Dhamma is kind of different from other traditions. The Buddha set up a community (Sangha) of beggars (bhikkhus) to preserve and pass on his teachings. They were to live in poverty, without sex, family, career, irinorder to act as living proof that there IS more to life than these things and that thatsomething else is so good that one can even go without those other things. These seekers (samanas) were intended to be “beggars” (bhikkhus), instead of monks or priests, in order to avoid becoming an organization wielding social and political power (tsk, tsk, Tibet…). Now in order to protect the Buddha and Dhamma’s reputation, these beggars were expected to uphold a superior decorum and respectfulness going above and beyond anything anyone had ever seen before. That way this Community of beggars could be relied upon and trusted as a refuge for all beings seeking a teaching leading toward true liberation. This is hy the Buddha and all of the men and women of his time that attained Awakening anbecame his “beggars” never used humor of the sort shown here, especially not in crowds or public venues where there might be folks who would misunderstand. These Noble beings didnt crave the gratification that comes from crafting elitist “wit-icisms” (Zen anecdotes are for adolescents :D ) because they actually attained Nirvana ,- the real one – and no longer needed to feed on such masturbatory entertainments. Or, they merely fed themselves on jhana, free from any harmful or gross unskillfulness. While the clever and sardonic ten points listed above communicate their point well, they are poisonous in having been spoken by someone living off of alms food whose only duty in return is to be an unexcelled source of merit and refuge for the world and a blameless representative of the Buddha and the Dhamma. And that can only be done perfectly by abstaining from this kind of humor, which is needlessly confusing and/or off-putting to many suffering people. There is nothing wrong with this type of humor, unless you’re being paid by faithful to be a *spotless* repository of Dhamma donned in the Buddha’s robes.

    • Tim

      Translating your horrific account of being ordained apart from putting me off Buddhism for ever and rahter wanting to become a matialistic hedonistic – I beleive what you are really saying is….my ego is bruised and I can’t even take a joke

      – ho hum, women have had to put up with every sort of put down but men cannot even take a funny and clever joke.

      …..this is obvioulsy why some person invented the 8 guradhammas..the male ego is so strong….not for the reasons men like to think

    • Dear Raver and all who have commented on this thread,

      Thanks to all for sharing your opinions, I am always glad to host differing views that are expressed with reason and with sincerity.

      One thing I would like to mention. If you think that there is something inappropriate about this use of speech, forgive me, but I can’t help but think that you are probably not all that familiar with the kinds of speech that have been handed down as canonical, sacred scripture by the Theravada tradition. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in gender issues in Buddhism to read the Kunala Jataka. This is part of the Theravada collection of Jataka stories, which have been the single greatest source of teachings for the Theravada community for the past 2000 or more years, far more so than the suttas. Of course the Buddha never spoke anything vaguely like this, I should not have to add. Here is just one section describing women; I chose this randomly, there are many more like it.

      I mean these harlots, wenches, and street-walkers. They are like unto robbers with braided locks, like a poisoned drink, like merchants that sing their own praises, crooked like a deer’s horn, evil-tongued like snakes, like a pit that is covered over, insatiate as hell, as hard to satisfy as a she-ogre, like the all-rapacious Yama, all-devouring like a flame, sweeping all before it as a river, like the wind going where it lists, undiscriminating like mount Neru, fruiting perennially like a poison tree.” Here too occurs a further verse:

      Like poisoned draught or robber fell, crooked as horn of stag,
      Like serpent evil-tongued are they, as merchant apt to brag,
      Murderous as covered pit, like Hell’s insatiate maw are they,
      As goblin greedy or like Death that carries all away.

      Devouring like a flame are they, mighty as wind or flood,
      Like Neru’s golden peak that aye confuses bad and good,
      Pernicious as a poison-tree they fivefold ruin bring
      On household gear, wasters of wealth and every precious thing.

    • Hi Bhante,

      Ok but where is the one about men?

      I think the world has heard every vile thing about women they are prepared to put up with – and they take it pretty well, and there is true in it – but one tongue in cheek joke about men that isn’t even particular derogatory and the males on your website can’t handle it, their egos are offended- oh how evolved you are.

      So where is the one about men being …stupid, arrogant, lustful perverts who confuse desire with goodness and greedy murders unable to wean themsleves off the beer bottle etc

      fair is fair

    • Also I think the writer of Jakatas forgot to add.. and those are the women that have lived for or to please or impress men… therefore they are the creations of men…well not all men as at least women are diserning and don’t see all men as the same.. ha ha

    • Possibly the “harlots, wenches, and street-walkers” won’t then get to :walk in the Dhamma with these Theravardens”, ie the honest women – only the evile minded virgins, daddy spoit never ever eer satisfied princesses and the “sexualised” bimbo’s that are more like men than women… will – oh what torture; I think the harlots and wenches and street walkers would make for a far more peaceful and less tortuous life.

  15. Hi Peter,

    Interrelating as human beings is hard, your right.

    Alot of comics are critical in their humour, that is what makes me laugh, you know that they can get away with being so honest and critical where most other people can’t. Never sit at the front in a comedy show – if you are the one they decide to use to humour people you may have to be enlightened to survive it. One I saw would just find someone and spend the whole show using that person as there object for jokes.

    I don’t think it is devisive at all but each to his own –

    So if you don’t like that humour – post some humor you like

    Raver

  16. It’s humorous. Can I sidetrack? From observation, other major religions like christianity, hinduism, islam & others totally disallow female abbots or priests in their Holy Order (doesn’t imply here that they are conservative or not keeping up to modernization). Considered women are very lucky already in Buddhism that they are allowed to be admitted into the Holy Order subject to the 8 garudhammas. Buddha said women can also be enlightened but didn’t ask women to head the Holy Order or to be equal with bhikkhus as each gender has different monastic rules given.What more women ask for? My thinking is this, if there is equality in the Holy Order, I’m sure slowly but surely women will become superior in the Order as monks would tend to rely on women to take charge in everything as monks would tend to step back. Eventually the Bhikkhu sangha will become redundant & possibly extinct when bhikkhunis reign. For Asians esp. the chinese, the females devotees usually are happy to see monks more masculine and in charge of the Order & happy to support monks who practice well & diligently to become Arahants. The women respect the monks & don’t mind not having equality in the Holy Order as the Order should be headed by the bhikkhus & it is the bhikkhus domain (some may disagree with me its okay you are free to your opinion). In kamaloka, all the heads are males, like Brahma God, Jesus, Mohammad, King Sakka, Kwan Yin and others are all males. Buddha’s garudhamma is according to nature & reality for monastic harmony & prevention from Bhikkhu Sangha to disappear. Equality is a concept not reality & is detrimental to Holy Order. Good only for worldly Order, commerce & political agenda. Another humor to the list.

  17. Some say the Garudhammas were later additions by men. I don’t think so. They were direct words of the Buddha to Ananda & heavy rules imposed so that women can be admitted to the Holy Life after Buddha disapproved Mahapajapati three times in going forth but because of her persistency & Ananda’s Buddha agreed on condition she & her nuns vowed to obey the garudhammas. The bowing of more senior nuns to one day old monk is bowing to the Bhikkhu Sangha as a whole & not an individual, so nun should not take it personally as subservient which is hard for western women to swallow. If the rules were said to be added not in falvor of women, then they would dismiss that women could be enlightened & the four fold assembly in the Sangha. People those days were honest & straightforward with no self-interest & preserved the words of the Buddha religiously by reciting. The Buddha said after 500 years from his parinibbana, there would be couterfeit dhammas, which is true. After 500 yrs, the Greek made gandhara statues of Buddha & the Sangha split into Mahayana, Tibetan, Zen etc & incorporated their cultural, ancestors rites ritual, beliefs,practices,deities,other creations, own Buddhas into the original teaching of the Buddha because of ego, self-interest etc etc. Buddha’s dhamma can fit into any culture but most dhammas now are mixed with local rites rituals & cultures, tainted & counterfeited. I think it is more graceful for women to remain as nuns than become medicant or forest monks behaving like male monks. Women are by nature supposed to be feminine not masculine. Feminisim is not subservient but a grace of nature. Christianity has nun only. Women can still be enlightened without becoming a monk. 8 precept lay women or men can also be enlightened. Please obey the heavy rules imposed by the Buddha for the four fold assembly’s welfare & Bhikkhu Sangha’s longevity. The theravada forest tradition is the only tradition left that still follow strictly the Buddha’s Dhamma Vinaya as passed down by the Elders. Do not destroy such a uniquely pure tradition. The Elders had preserved the tradition for 2600 yrs! Respect the rules, the Buddha’s words & sensitivity of other religions.

  18. That doesn’t make much sense that you, warren – don’t support other additives (ie zen, etc) commentaries but support the 8 guaradhammas – male common sense and reason?

    I really admire that nun that lived in a cave for 12 years – what a awesome women – all the other prissy little women serving the male ego don’t get alot respect from other women, but it is safe for them.

    Apparently at a certain level there is no sexuality anyway, so not sure your attitudes of feminity really make sense, you can’t really say male monks are “butch” and masculine, most of them are quite feminine and it is hard to tell the difference between monks and nuns at time apparently, which is the way it is suppose to be.

    The eight guaradammas were made to support the male ego more so or as much as the the female ego – possibly someone not the Buddha who knew the male ego and conceit could not deal with women so they wrote the 8 guaradammas because their male ego could not stand it and women use this pandering sort of bowing and scaping to get what they want from men, not because they really believe it, also in Buddhism it possibly stops conflict between men and women but it is because of the male ego just as much as the female ego.

    It amazes me that the most horrible of women will pander to men with some sort of authority or something – maybe some men take this as a comment, not the insincerity it is but that is their problem and their ego.

  19. Also it would technically be breaking the precept of lieing (deceit, manipulation) – to folllow the 8 guaradammas – ie because women would be lying by saying they respect men if they don’t. So I would think that it is therefore are manipulation and deceit which I believe technically is lying.

  20. BTW just because this is his blog I am not referring to Sujato here – he does alot , just those ones that women would have to be subserviate to to placate their egos.

  21. Or of course the holy saint (Buddha Maitrya) Ajahn Brahm and his disciplies who will no doubt travel the world enlighening the world in the future.

    Have fun with it and Mega Metta

    From Bye

  22. or if I end up in jail or dying or the hell realms sor wrose or something I will tell everyone what superior beings Buddhists are teache the the great art of mediation and buddhism and to have great respect for the superior beings.

    with metta and respect, forgiveness etc
    please forgive me for anything said or done with body speech and mind etc etc
    metta mega etc

    Bye

  23. I might be crazy, or I am crazy; but I am not just saying it to be nice or that I get anything out of it, as I am not really Buddhist, but I do think Ajahn Brahm is the one Buddha of these times, the fact that the Buddha would be in Perth is umm is abit funny or very funny, but it is the most isolated city in the world, but near asia, it is still funny anyway, or Australia, that is funny too even though I am Australian, me I think he his.

  24. ..now I know why everyone likes Perth so much, makes sense having a Buddhist Centre there must be why can be such a sort of hip, vibrant, international, youthful, peaceful oasis but still so isolated.

    Anyway

  25. Sorry, just feel impelled to stir up Ajahn Sujato’s blog abit cause it gets too technical for me sometimes. Sorry Ajahan Sujato.

    Anyway, back to mediation – this is me leaving seriously this time.

    Ommmm

  26. Question to anyone

    As a person wishing to get enlightened but not wanting to ordain – what are the options or chances.

    Personally while I admire and support monkship and nunship – as a female even if I had the “karma” to be a nun I could think of nothing worse than be shut away with a bunch of women.

    For men becoming monk is an obvious escape from women and the homelife, domesticity and a bit of a adventure.

    Personally for women I cannot see the same attraction. Alot of women get involved with men to get away from other women I believe and possibly have some idea working having a career is a freedom from the homelife – while this is not necessarily true, such a belief is understandable.

    Living with a bunch of pious women as pictured in the blog re african monk all sitting piously praying obedient etc almost make me sick and being “good girls” (those I knew ususally just were “good” for their own agendas or to please men and this term can also be used ironically for another word starting with ta.ts holds a much appeal to me as going back to a girls school, even though it was a good school.

    Having to attend fortnighly lecutres by Monks then to be shove away in a Monestry while maybe a power trip for a Monk is to me anyway teh equivalent of casual sex – good for the male but not necessary good for the feamle.

    For women as a women it just seems like more mundaneness and like are more rigid version of the homelife, girls school only with better intentions etc, not the escape from this as it would be for Monks and holds no appeal. Having said that living with a bunch of women resenting Monks would be worse.

    So…is there an alternative and what are the best actions to follow to live in solitude and practise the Dhamma without having to be like the women in the picture above which for a Western women is a bit stomach churning.

    I think if I was ever to ordain I would wait to be born a Monk instead rather than being a women personally –

    Any suggestions?

    • I can only suggest lots of meditation and kindness. Find a meditation teacher you like and trust, male or female, and follow the path to where it leads you.

      You won’t need anyone to tell you how to live your life, you will discover that yourself!

      May you be happy and well!

  27. Like for example when the girls at my school were made to do sewing some of them just thought it was funny to put bits of metal under the needles in the sewing machine to break them and ended up giving the sewing teacher a nervous breakdown – as their parents pay alot of money to sent them there there is no much the School could do so adapting to a life of dutiful piousness may not be possible for some women in the West.

  28. I have to say it was understandable but not a n ice thing to do – especially as the sewing teacher was a very nice lady and a good teacher, and no doubt deserved better.

  29. This is great.
    Reminds me of how the Tibetans (so I’ve heard) practice flipping the issue upside down to gain insight.
    Also learned this technique in painting class – to get the perspective unhitched on recognizable form,
    flip the canvass and the general, more abstract feeling tone and composition can be seen a fresh!

  30. Hi again,

    While general I really like this description of men and women:

    Women are easy to love but impossible to like
    Men are easy to like but difficult to love

  31. Dear Bhante,

    Thanks for all the good laughs!
    A male friend translated your article (shared via Sakyadhita International facebook blog) into Chinese, and I thought I should share the translation with you:

    為什麼男佛教徒不應該出家

    只因為我無法抗拒(不吐不快):

    10. 男人應該待在職場,這樣才能賺錢來捐給尼眾。

    9. 男人總是幼稚地逃避溝通及處理情緒的習慣讓他們很不適合群聚生活。

    8. 男人的身體構造顯示比較適合擔任像是伐木及與山獅搏鬥等工作,要他門以追求精神層面為職志實在是”不自然”。 事實上,”真正的男人”寬廣的肩膀以及”倒三角”的身形會讓他們在打坐時失去重心;這樣倒地發出的噪音會讓女人分心,而女人”梨形”的身軀顯然是演化來長期打坐用的。

    7. 研究顯示男人比女人更暴力也更好色;此外,他們也更愛喝酒。因此他們前世的業障也會讓他們有更根深蒂固的貪、嗔、痴。這都會讓男人不可能不犯五戒,更別說要成為僧侶。要弱化這些罪惡的根源則可以藉由送禮物給更進化的女性來累積功德福報。

    6. 男人太情緒化而不能當和尚,這可由他們在足球比賽跟拳擊賽的表現看出。

    5. 當和尚穿著袈裟露出一邊肩膀時,上半身展露出的肌肉與英姿,會讓女信徒分心,因此不適合出現在僧院。

    4. 僧侶必須培育所屬寺廟,但這並非男性傳統角色。綜觀歷史,女性一直被認為比男人更擅長養育,也對這任務更有熱忱,這全是因為她們天生更有同情心也更睿智,也因此更適合出家。

    3. 男人比較傾向使用暴力,沒有真正有男子氣概的男人會用打架以外的方式來解決紛爭。因此在擔任領導者角色時必定無法以身作則,也無法穩定領導。

    2. 佛經告訴我們,佛陀曾被提婆達多這個男人背叛與攻擊,此外,善必的分裂也是男性僧侶鬧出來的。另一個和尚Udayin行為糟到必須制定許多規定來約束他的暴力與性慾的衝動。
    事實上,就是Sudinna這個男的他放縱的性慾才迫使佛陀改變主意,定下僧團的規矩。謝啦,男人。

    1. 男人就算不出家一樣可以從事宗教活動。他們可以做菜,洗碗,洗衣服,還有製作漂亮的東西送女人。這樣他們就可以有功德福報,希望來生可以投胎做女人。

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