22nd October 2009: remember that date. That’s when it all changed. That’s when the Sangha of Bodhinyana Monastery and Dhammasara Nun’s monastery, with the support of an international group of bhikkhunis, performed the first Theravada bhikkhuni ordination in Australia, and the first bhikkhuni ordination in the Thai Forest Tradition anywhere in the world. Here’s how it all came about.
Bhikkhuni ordination has been a live topic in international Buddhism since at least the 1970s, when Tenzin Palmo took full ordination. Actually, it was discussed long before that, as shown by the support for bhikkhuni ordination given by Jetavan Sayadaw in his paper of 1949, where he referred to contemporary discussions on the topic.
The Western, or more accurately, English-speaking bhikkhu community of Ajahn Chah started in the 1960s and gained momentum in the 1970s with the establishment of the first Western monastery in Thailand, Wat Pa Nanachat (International Forest Monastery), and in the 1980s with a number of overseas branches.
The question of how to support women’s ordination aspirations became pressing in the new environment, and the English communities responded by developing an entirely new ordination platform called the sīladharā. This is superficially similar to the canonical sāmaṇerī platform for young girls, or the modern Sinhalese dasasīlamātā, but in fact is based on a new system of rules, invented by Ajahn Sucitto in discussion with the English community in the 1980s. These new rules are structured around the canonical pāṭimokkhas for the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, but introduce many changes of substance. This sīladharā platform has survived in Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries, and currently numbers around 15 nuns.
At the time, the English Ajahns new little about bhikkhuni ordination, and while it was sometimes said that the sīladharā ordination was intended to be a stepping stone to bhikkhuni ordination, there has been no signs of any actual effort to make this possible. Rather, the question of bhikkhuni ordination has been silenced every time it is raised.
Meanwhile, the community of Ajahn Jagaro and later Ajahn Brahm in Perth had the long term intention to establish a nuns’ community. This became possible in the late 1990s, when Ajahn Vāyāmā was invited to establish a community at Dhammasara. Ajahn Vāyāmā, while having a respectful connection with the English community, was not ordained there, but in Sri Lanka. I was present at some of her initial discussions with Ajahn Brahm, and she made it clear that she did not wish to follow the English model. Ajahn Brahm responded by saying that Bodhinyana was not a branch of Amaravati.
The Dhammasara community was based on the 10 precept sāmaṇerī ordination, which they supplemented with their own monastery rules.
The international community had, meanwhile, been making great strides forward in bhikkhuni ordination. The first Theravadin bhikkhunis were ordained in the 1980s, with perhaps the first being Ayyā Khemā, who was incidentally was one of Ajahn Vāyāmā’s first teachers, and was an original trustee on the land that has now become Santi Forest Monastery. Many more followed, and during the 1990s a series of well-publicized and large scale bhikkhuni ordinations took place in India and Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan bhikkhuni order received a lot of opposition in the early days, but now there are several hundred bhikkhunis, and now that the hooha has blown over they just get on with their lives.
Chatsumarn Kabalsingh, a prominent Thai academic and media figure, took bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka in 2003 under the name of Dhammanandā, becoming the first of a new generation of Thai bhikkhunis. Many have followed, and there are now perhaps 20-30 bhikkhunis in Thailand.
Cambodia, too, has a small bhikkhuni community, with a group of around 20 bhikkhunis supported by one of the Sangharajas there.
Burma has the most shameful record in their oppression of bhikkhunis. Bhikkhuni Saccavadī ordained in Sri Lanka and on her return to Burma was thrown in jail, abused and traumatized, and finally forced to disrobe. I should add, though, that most of the Burmese monks who I know overseas fully support bhikkhuni ordination and have gone out of their way to express this. In addition, ‘Mahayana’ bhikkhunis are at least allowed to stay and practice in the Burmese meditation monasteries, which they are still denied in the Thai forest tradition.
While all this was going on, and progress was being made internationally in almost all Theravadin lands, the Ajahn Chah tradition did nothing. There was no dialogue, no inquiry, no talk of change.
From around 2002 or so, I started to speak to the monks about this, in person and in letters raising it as an issue that needed addressing. With the exception of Ajahn Brahm and to some extent Ajahn Sucitto, I got no response from the leadership, although many of the junior monks, and also senior monks who did not have institutional roles, were receptive. I kept talking, writing, and researching. I focussed on three issues: the purported technical Vinaya objections to bhikkhuni ordination; the psychological problems informing the debate; and the practical business of setting up a nuns’ community.
I think it was in 2006 that Ajahn Brahm told me that he was now fully convinced that bhikkhuni ordination was the way to go. He was supported by his monks, especially Ajahn Brahmali, and started to encourage Ajahn Vāyāmā to take bhikkhuni ordination. Meanwhile, Ajahn Vāyāmā and the nuns at Dhammasara had visits from several bhikkhunis, allowing them to have discussions, find commonalities, and see what a future as bhikkhunis could become.
By this time, Santi FM had become well known as a center for support of bhikkhunis internationally. We had many women candidates interested in bhikkhuni ordination, but for one reason or another none of them proceeded to full ordination. It’s not an easy thing, and it’s made so much harder by the bad vibes radiating from much of the bhikkhu Sangha. For a time we were discussing holding a joint bhikkhuni ordination with the Dhammasara nuns, perhaps in February 2010. But our potential candidate decided she was not ready for that step. In addition, the Dhammasara community wanted to do a quiet ceremony, which focussed on the real meaning of the ordination – acceptance within the Sangha – rather than making a media event out of it.
During the vassa of 2009, Ajahns Brahm and Vāyāmā had a series of discussions, where they decided they wanted to go ahead with bhikkhuni ordination. They felt their communities were ready, and did not want to have to deal with the kinds of organized opposition that would inevitably follow an announcement of the date. They invited an international group of eight bhikkhunis to participate, who were: Venerables Tathāālokā (preceptor), Sucintā & Sobhanā (reciters of the formal Act), Ātāpī, Satimā, Santinī, Silavatī, and Dhammanandā (Vietnam). Ajahn Brahm and myself were the reciters of the Act on the bhikkhus’ side. All four of the nuns from Dhammasara were to be ordained, that is, Venerables Vāyāmā, Nirodhā, Serī, and Hassapaññā.
The bhikkhunis had all received their ordination from the Theravadin tradition, and are well known as sincere practitioners. It was decided not to include any bhikkhunis from the Mahayana tradition, since some conservative Theravadins might object to this. For the same reason, the two Korean bhikkhus who were staying at Bodhinyana were respectfully asked to remain outside the sīmā boundary. This by no means implies that the presence of Mahayana Sangha would in any way affect the ordination. On the contrary, as qualified bhikkhus and bhikkhunis ordained according to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, they are clearly saṁvāsa (in communion) according to the Vinaya, and none of the monastics who took part in the ordination had any problem with including them. Nevertheless, many Theravadin Sangha perceive Mahayanists as belonging to a fundamentally different order, if not indeed a different religion, and could use their inclusion as a way of criticizing the procedure.
In the days leading up to the ordination, the Sangha at Bodhinyana was repeatedly consulted as to whether they were supportive. This happened at the uposatha meeting on the previous Sunday; I spoke with them again on the Wednesday; and Ajahn Brahm consulted them again on his return from overseas shortly before the ordination itself on Thursday. All the relevant messages from the various Ajahns that were received were printed out and made available, and the monks were encouraged to read them so they could make an informed decision. All of the monks remained unified in their support of bhikkhuni ordination. However, one monk asked to be excused from the ceremony itself as he was ordained by Ajahn Sumedho, and would have preferred if the ordination had gone ahead following the planned WAM in December.
In this time Ajahn Brahm was away, visiting his sick Mum in England, as well as taking on several teaching engagements in England, Norway, and Singapore. On the Sunday before the ordination, he visited Amaravati, where he paid respects to Ajahn Sumedho and told him they were to do bhikkhuni ordination the following Thursday. Ajahn Sumedho advised against it. Following that meeting, it seems that emails were sent to the Western Ajahns around the world, and there was an instantaneous reaction against the ordination.
Most of the Ajahns responded in a reasonable manner, expressing their respects and stating their view that it was not wise to go ahead with the ordination without consulting the wider Sangha. The majority of the messages we received expressed support for bhikkhuni ordination in principle, but not the way it was done. Ajahn Brahm responded to this immediately by pointing out that he had in fact consulted widely with his broad community, including Wat Pa Pong. I also responded with a letter detailing how discussion on bhikkhuni ordination had been comprehensively silenced in the Western Ajahn Chah Sangha.
A few responses were much more aggressive, with implied and explicit threats from Ajahns expressed in email, fax, and phone calls. I called their bluff in emails on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the threatening, aggressive messages stopped cold.
I raised a number of important issues in those emails, and since then have received not a single substantive response. The Ajahns were lightning fast to point out a couple of factual mistakes in Ajahn Brahm’s email, and to try to point out a mistake in mine (which was in fact just a misreading of my original letter). But they continue their total, blank silence in the face of the real questions: discrimination against women in the Sangha and the transformative potential of bhikkhuni ordination.
The communities in Perth were coping well with this pressure. We were all relieved to speak with Ajahn Brahm on the phone on Tuesday evening, when he said he felt happy and calm and that the opposition was pretty much what he expected. The nuns were coping well and remained firm and clear – they’re used to this kind of pressure.
There was some discussion about the exact details of how the two Sanghas should be arranged in the limited space in the Bodhinyana hall. Eventually it was decided to have the bhikkhunis on one side of the shrine, and the bhikkhus on the other side. Each Sangha was arranged in two rows, so that the candidates could come inside the Sangha. The ceremony was conducted precisely in accordance with the Pali Vinaya, with the addition at the beginning of a few ceremonial flourishes as in the Thai tradition.
The ordination ceremony began at 7.15pm, Perth time. Ayyā Tathāālokā, a respected bhikkhuni of 13 years standing, was formally appointed as the preceptor (pavattinī) by the bhikkhuni Sangha. Since no more than three should be ordained at one time, the candidates were ordained in two groups of two. The full procedure is carried out by the bhikkhuni Sangha, with the candidates requesting their preceptor, being instructed outside the Sangha and questioned inside the Sangha, before the final ‘Motion and Three Announcements’ (ñatticatutthakamma), which is the ordination proper.
When the two pairs had been ordained among the bhikkhuni Sangha, they were led in pairs to the bhikkhu Sangha. The ordination in front of the bhikkhus is much simpler, as there is no questioning of the candidates or appointment of a preceptor. The role of the bhikkhu Sangha, according to the Pali Vinaya, is simply to confirm the ordination, stamping it with their seal of approval, and acknowledging the acceptance of the candidates. Ajahn Brahm and I did the chanting, and I confess to more than one shower of rapture as the auspicious words finally came true: evam etaṁ dhārayāmi – thus I will bear it in mind. The ceremony concluded around 9.00pm.
Then the new bhikkhunis sat in the midst of the two Sanghas as we all recited the Metta Sutta in blessing. It is impossible to describe the feeling of joy and exultation that filled the hall – unforgettable. There was a light and a clarity which felt just so right under the crystal clear Perth sky that I remember so well from my childhood. Since the ordination, a flood of support and rejoicing has poured in from around the world. The future has never been brighter.
68 thoughts on “How Australia’s first Theravada bhikkhuni ordination happened”
When I was a boy, I grew up in a church then called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon church. In 1984 when I was 9 I went to the World Conference. I was awed to see 3000 people meeting together in that way. But it also happened to be the year when the Prophet/President of the church announced that he had received a revelation that women could become ordained.
When the words were spoken, the church exploded. People were shouting, crying, cheering, and everything in between. A man beside me stood and shouted, “One bad apple ruins the whole barrel.” The conference supported the president, but only barely.
In the end, many people left the church. A church formed by schism was made even smaller by further schism. But went on it did. Many women were ordained, including, eventually my mother. The people that left were angry, but those that remained were that much more committed. It’s impossible to imagine what might have been different if the church had waited. Would there have been less acrimony 10 years later? 20? But would the lives and talents of the women that were ordained be lost or diminished? It’s truly impossible to say.
Of course I’m no longer a member of the old church. I’m a proud Buddhist. But it’s shocking, 25 years later to see some of the same things happening. I wish the nuns and everyone involved the best.
Ajahn ..thank you for describing the event so well, it’s brought back such beautiful memories of that magical evening. I would like to add that possibly more than one heart was also moved & touched by the laity’s response to the ordination, so much love and care felt for Ajahn Vayama as she courageously went though the almost 2 hour ceremony without a hitch. So much joy on her face even though she had to be physically assisted by Sister Nirodha. Ajahn Vayama’s health has not been good in recent months. When she went forward with Sister Nirodha for their confirmation by the bhikkhu sangha, Ajahn Brahm beamed at her with so much kindness and encouragement, the heart automatically responded with “Sadhu Ajahn, what a great gift indeed for Ajahn Vayama, one who has practised well & impeccably for so many years”. And what a joy to hear the Sadhus and to see the laity eagerly bowing with joy and deep respect to the newly ordained bhikkhunis. Well done Australia!
I am a Malaysian from Ipoh and am presently visting my sis and her family in Singapore. Apart from spending quality time with family, the other main attraction for me is Singapore’s library. I always make it a point to get my sis to borrow books for me. This afternoon we did just that. I spotted a book out from many that were displayed and borrowed it. The title of the book is “Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Malaysia – An Unsung Revolution” first published in 2006. I randomly opened the book and couldn’t help smiling at the words that sprung up “Three years ago, in an episode so unusual for placid Malaysia that it made headlines, women activists marched across a hotel lobby chanting ‘Act now, right now’ and confronted a startled Cabinet Minister. The tactic worked: A law to protect battered women was implemented after 11 years of lobbying”.
It would similarly seem that the tactic adopted by Bodhiyana has finally awakend many ‘placid’ Theravadins to the bhikkhuni issue. May this awakening gather momentum and may the bhikkhuni order proudly stand tall again amongst the other 3 pillars of the Buddha Sasana.
Incidentally my interest in feminism only came about early this year when I was told that a senior monk at Amaravati had commented that the bhikkhuni movement was a feminist movement. I’m appalled that my response was “I’m not supporting the bhikkhuni revival because I’m a feminist, but because it is the right thing to do for the Buddha Sasana in this century.” Feeling a sense of disquiet about my attitude towards the word ‘feminism’, I quickly looked up the word in the dictionary. It read “feminism is the belief and aim that women should have the same rights, power and opportunities as men”.
The mind went ‘huh .. that’s also humanism, it’s all about gender equality. No mention about being male-haters, bra-burning etc. ‘ Such a shame then that feminism has often been wrongly perceived negatively not just by men but also by women, me included until the investigation, even though I have long admired and feel much gratitude for Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragettes for courageously fighting for women’s right to vote. The investigation also led me to want to know more about Gloria Steinem, who made it possible for women to step out from stereo-typed roles in the 60s, to have self-worth and extend themselves beyond being a home-maker and submissive wife. So, when I flew back to S’pore after the ordination, top on my list of things to do again was a visit to the Singapore Library. I selected “Revolution from Within – a book on self esteem” by Gloria Steinem. This is not like any other books on self-esteem, and I strongly recommend it for both men and women. It’s as relevant today as it was when it was first written in 1992. Whilst I was reading it, I did wonder if opposition towards the bhikkhuni order stemmed from fear, a lack of self-esteem and self-worth conditioned from childhood.
From what I saw during the ordination, such fear has no real basis. For the monks who stood up for the bhikkhuni order that night, there was only immense gratitude & wholesome pride from the laity, irrespective of their gender.
People always have different views on various issues. However, when certain disagreements come up in a family, we should always let love, understanding, acceptance and effort aiming to resolve differences prevail instead of exclusion. All monks strive for nibbana and to benefit all beings, and that should be the essence of practice with wholesome intention as the yardstick. May all beings cultivate compassion and softness in their hearts…
JUDY MY WISE FRIEND, I TOLLY AGREE WITH YOU. PETER AND I WILL MOVE OUR MONTHLY DONATION WHICH WE HAVE BEEN SUPPORTING ATBA AND VIMUTTI FOR MANY YEAR TO PERTH. DON’T WANT TO GET INVOLVED WITH MONK POLITICS BUT I COULD NOT SEE AB. AND CO. BREAK ANY SILA BY ORDINATION WOMEN.PRACTICE WELL SISTERS, SO WE DON’T NEED TO PROOF ANY POINTS TO ANYONE.
NUK AND PETER
im a lay meditator in the forest tradition based in Rome, Italy. As you might imagine, little official news arrived to us about this issue, as well as some misleading unofficial news might have circulated: among those there is the one saying that what has been done had the effect of not simply re-establish the bhikkuni sangha according to the Vinaya rules, but rather reformed those rules to give bikkuni the same status as bikkus including the prescription of bowing to older bikkus regardless of sex. Is that true, and in that case, why that was not mentioned in the article?
There are very many issues here, so thanks for letting us know of your own situation. To respond to your specific points.
In the Perth October 2009 ordination there was no ‘re-establishment’ of the bhikkhuni Sangha, since that has been in existence for 2500 years.
Nor was there the re-introduction of the bhikkhuni Sangha to the Theravada tradition, since that has already happened over a decade ago, and there are hundreds of Theravadin bhikkhunis in the world, including in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, and so on.
Nor was there any ‘reform’ or change of any Vinaya rules. The Garudhammas, whose purpose is, in at least a few specific contexts, to subordinate the bhikkhunis to bhikkhus, are, like all Vinaya rules, interpreted and practiced differently in different monasteries.
All that happened was that four long-term and sincere practitioners furthered their practice by ordaining in the Dhamma-Vinaya of the Lord Buddha. Since they were women, a few monks decided to make a problem out of this.
First I would like to focus on the Forest Tradition. Of course there are places where monks may have money or ride cars and so I expect no problem for a woman to make a living out of that.
I hold the situation for mendicant monks to be different f a number of reasons.
As the first issue I reflect on the fact that the most people to make offering are women and women have usually more trust for men than for other women. Of course man may give money instead but we were saying monks and nuns do not handle money.
As for the second issue, I tend to see as very destabilizing in a patriarcal tradition like the Buddhasana for a monk to bow to a nun as it mimicks what a man does to seduce a woman.
Anyway I keep trust in the Buddha: if a sangha does things properly it stands, otherwise it splinters. Should the Australian system remain stable at least as much as the the Achaan Chah tradition did, I think I will put my trust in that. Of course the reverse is true for the other tradition where I see a concrete risk of inserting unproper elements due to the lack of alternatives.
Not everything is about sex, Fabrizio.
I humbly wish to share my thoughts on the revival of bhikkhunis in the Theravada tradition in modern times. The question is whether there is a need for women to lead a homeless ascetic livelihood? Does this struggle for gender equality going to benefit the household entities and the society at large?
By nature, women are still women and were given by Nature a role for a purpose in humankind. Women are born with the ability of multi-tasking and instinctively with motherly nature of boundless love and compassion which earned the status of Bodhisattva in that sense it embodied the 4 Brahma Vihara i.e Metta,Karuna,Mudita,Uppekka. Essentially, women served and played an important figure and role both in householders and society.
Perhaps, before we revive Bhikkhunis across the board,we should reflect on our present society on why there are so many social ills and bad influences. One of the reasons could be that women now are mostly working mothers. Children are cared for by others and the family bonds are diminishing in today’s lifestyles and children are brought up with lack of family love and attention that could probably be the cause of so many delinquency problems and social ills. It is obvious there are more family breakdowns in our modern times.What is the cause?
Bearing this in mind, do we want to encourage women to go forth become homeless, and leaving their family, parents, children and grandchildren or nieces and nephews to seek Truth and for self-salvation when women are needed in each household. Is it necessary and viable when women could put to practice the 4 Brahma Vihara right in their homes and society? As for meditation, meditation can be practised in the present moment and mindfulness in every act inside and outside the home. Is it then a neccessity to leave home to become homeless and is there a need to form a Bhikkhunis Sangha when there is already an existing flourishing Bhikkhu Sangha to carry the torch of the Buddha to prolong the Buddha-Sassana for the sole purpose of propagating the Dhamma? Food for thought.
To be honest, I find this comment of yours bordering on sexism! Correct me if I am wrong, Buddhist Ordination is for those individuals who have no major responsibilities and obligations (financial debt, looking after their own kids if they have ’em etc ) to fulfill. Out of the entire 6 billion of us that inhabit this planet, there are only a few good men and women in this world who have the aspiration to go forth. Assisting this minute proportion in every way possible is a sign of a spiritually mature society. To attribute the going forth of women as contributing to the unravelling of a peaceful society is just a load of bullocks, sorry. There is more than enough men and women in this planet who wish to keep reproducing and do regular sh!t. If a few women want to go forth, we men have absolutely no right to stop them. Who do you think men are? GODS?
You could use exactly the same logic to say that men shouldn’t ordain because they have to be there to impregnate all those women and to work to support the children and full time mums. Why apply the family argument only to women? I too find it sexist.
And your remarks about meditation and mindfulness apply just as much to men. If you remove the sexism, your argument actually says that there is no need for a monastic sangha at all. Surprisingly, I might agree with you there. I think the monastic sangha certainly has to show what it’s for and why it deserves to live for free off the work of the laity. In most of the world it can no longer hide behind being part of the societal infrastructure, because in most of the world it isn’t.
David wrote :” If you remove the sexism, your argument actually says that there is no need for a monastic sangha at all. Surprisingly, I might agree with you there. I think the monastic sangha certainly has to show what it’s for and why it deserves to live for free off the work of the laity.”
For those who say that there is no need for women to take up the monastic life when it comes to practicing the path, I would be interested in hearing their opinion on this matter when someone ask why then is the monastic lifestyle necessary for anyone at all? I don’t think it is a good idea to avoid this question also, because people will be wondering why do they have to support other people when they can in fact practice as a layperson without the need for monastic lifestyle as a support for practice.
Because of the statement that it is not necessary for women to live the monastic lifestyle to practice the path, there are people who buy into that. Some would think what is the need to give women this opportunity. Others begin to think,’ then what is the need for laymen to enter this lifestyle anyways. Can’t they practice without the support of the monastic lifestyle as well ? It is not necessary to have a monastic sangha that the Buddha established a long time ago, because they can indeed do without it . They should go back to work and make money like everybody else. ‘
And so far I haven’t heard anything from the people who made that particular statement ( monastic lifestyle is not needed as a support for practice) . Personally, I believe that notion is a misconception. If we go by that logic, the Buddha’s sangha might be allowed to disintegrate soon enough in certain locations. And people’s practice might suffer.
I don’t think it is a good idea to blindly follow a practice without understanding reason behind it. Likewise, I don’t think it is a good idea to abolish something without understanding the reason behind the practice . We might end up throwing out the baby with the bath water. It is perfectly fine to throw out the bath water, but the baby is a terrible thing to throw out.
I believe there are various important reasons why the rule of not possessing money is part of the path of practice in the first place.
1. Not having money mean that even if a person on the path want to give in to his/her unnecessary desires, it is difficult for the person to do so.
Letting go of desire is a major part of this path. It is stated in the 4 Noble Truth of the Buddha that desire is the cause of suffering in life, and the cure is to remove desires. What the body need is food, something to cover and keep the body warm, and a place to sleep. Almost everything else is related to the wanting of the mind. The mind cannot be made to feel satisfied or fulfilled by material forms or object , because it is more like an energy frequency than a tangible form. It requires energy that come from stillness rather than things.
2. Not participating in the rat race gives them enough time and space to just be and the mind to settle. Therefore , creating the internal conducive condition for “Right Stillness/ Concentration” to develop.
I believe that it can be extremely difficult to enter into deep meditation on a regular basis when you are participating in the rat race. It can be like trying to fill a water bucket with a big hole on the bottom. After the mind settles a little in meditation, it gets stirred up again when you have to spend the whole day interaction and idle chatter at work. When you sit down to meditate again afterward, everything that happen during the period of interaction and activities will naturally come up in the mind. It takes a long while for it to settle again.
In the sutta, the Buddha told Ananda to allow the cloudy water to settle , then you will be able to use the water. Imagine if the water just settles for 5 minutes, Ananda throws in some pebbles or stir it with a stick. He would have to wait all over again for it to become clear enough to use. So much wasted time and effort. Participating in the rat race has the same effect with the mind when you are trying to develop ” Right Stillness/ Concentration” .
This rule of not possessing money is definitely important to their practice in various aspects. It can contribute to the lessening of desires and settling the mind if properly make use of. I don’t think it is a good idea to suggest that the monks ignore this training rule established by the Buddha.
Some might ask, ‘Then how come there are people who was allowed the opportunity to take up this discipline/ lifestyle doesn’t show any signs of development, and even acted in an unwholesome manner ?’
I would say that although the training rules are there, some might not understand the reason behind it or the significance behind it. That is why you hear some monks say that it is not necessary for people to have the opportunity to take up this practice as set up by the Buddha. If they know, they might not have said that, or deprive others of the opportunity to do so. Not knowing also have an effect on their practice as well, because they might not be able to make proper use of the opportunity they have by practice it the wrong way. Therefore, defeat the purpose of the training rule of not possessing money . They might think, maybe I can’t touch money, but if it is covered by an envelop or something then I can still spend it to fulfill unnecessary desires. Another example is watching shows on TV or movies , which generally aim to stir up feelings and emotions that will reverberate in the mind during meditation. This can also defeat the purpose of the practice of not possessing/ going into the world to make money so that the mind is allowed to settle. Instead of awakening, there is the possibility of becoming a couch potato instead.
Does that mean that we should deny everyone the opportunity to follow the practice as set up by the Buddha? That would be throwing out the baby along with the bathwater. There are people who truly apply right effort when given the conducive conditions.
It is true that a few laypeople somehow manage to arrange for themselves to have some years of uninterrupted retreat practice and are able to develop “Right Stillness” . But this is not the case for the majority of people who practice while living a lay lifestyle. We want the path discovered by the Buddha to be available to everyone who feel inspired to travel the Middle Path. Even the Buddha required some years of uninterrupted practice before Awakening. A few weeks or months a year of interrupted retreat might not be sufficient for other people to fully experience what he is pointing to.
Some might ask “What is the use of an institution that support / encourage people in society to know about stillness and develop stillness?
Eckhart Tolle and AB talked about this in one way or another:
” In spiritual teaching ,stillness and formlessness is emphasized because the whole civilization is lost in form, in things, in objects, in thoughts. Balance need to reestablish itself because no civilization can survive without the balance between form and formless. ….
In India there are always people who never did anything. That is very rare for the West. People would ask ‘What did they create, what did they do ?’
They just sat there.
The West would say ‘ What a useless existence’.
When you are trapped in form, you misperceive it completely because all you see is a useless form sitting. And you say ‘ They are a parasite to society. They allow themselves to be fed by other people. They should work like myself.’ That is when the mind that knows nothing but form looks at that form and could totally misperceive it.
And so there is a beauty in India. They have always recognized , in fact they may have gone too far in the opposite direction so that they lost interest in form because they went into being more.
The question is where to find a balance. I was like most people, completely lost in form. And then a shift happened , and I lost the balance. I became completely lost in the formless. Yet from a normal perspective it looks like I have lost it, because here is somebody who had a promising career and suddenly he just sits around on park benches in the park. Not doing anything anymore. Just being ( as opposed to doing ), and continuously tasting the sweetness of simply being ( instead of doing). The joy of simply being. Looking upon the world and seeing all life forms reflected the joy of just being, the trees, and the birds….And it is beautiful. From the external perspective, the ability to handle, to manipulate the world of form was gone for a while. Gradually, it had to reestablish itself, and then I could ‘do’ again. And of course, ‘be’ at the same time. It is not the destiny for most of you to move so deeply into being that you are not capable of handling the world of form around you. It happens occasionally, but it tends to happen to those few people who experience a dramatic shift from one to the other. And then for awhile they are ‘gone’. There is the beautiful sutra of the Buddha, ” Gate, Gate, gone, gone, gone, to the farthest shore”. And yet it seems it is our destiny here , while we are still in form, is to balance the form and formless here. What is the new state of consciousness that is arising? It is a state that is balance ( between the manifested and the un-manifested , the form and formless). Balance in a human being. And that is such a radical transformation, that when a certain number of humans live in that way they become the work of art ( creating a work of art) . And then that will change the entire world. The way that you experience the man made world will be changed completely. What that does to your story, who knows. How that changes your story, the way that your life unfolds in time, what you do out here, how that effect where you live , and so on? You cannot predict, nor do you need to predict that. ” – Eckhart Tolle
There is hardly any institution in society that support the development of stillness, or developing contentment from within. I think it is wonderful that the Buddha created a one of a kind institution that provides the necessary conducive conditions for developing contentment from within, not to mention Awakening from the endless cycles of samsara and suffering. It is an alternative to seeking to satisfy / fulfill the mind with material forms as many of us have been taught to do, which is impossible.
The Buddha opened up the way for laymen and laywomen to take a different approach when he created this institution. Not having this institution, means that laymen and laywomen who feel inspired to practice as the Buddha suggests or take up the monastic lifestyle, don’t have this option available to them. I think it is a great loss when there is nothing to balance out the perpetual cycles of restless chasing after desires as people have been driven to do in society.
The institution set up by the Buddha is extremely helpful to the path of practice. Neither should it be allowed to disintegrate nor should it be denied to the entire half of the population .
It would be’ wonderful if it were true…
I assume this is an answer to my “not everything is about sex”.
Well, it is true. Unless it’s not for you.
Sex is sorrow, why should I rest in it when I look for freedom from suffering?
Of course that does not mean I am chast.
I wasn’t suggesting that you should rest in it. We seem to be going round in circles here.
And sex isn’t necessarily sorrow, any more than anything else is necessarily sorrow, although misusing it or expecting it to be something it isn’t or giving it too much prominence (such as thinking that everything is about sex) can cause a lot of sorrow.
Do you want to hear answers from a Bhikkhuni?
“The question is whether there is a need for women to lead a homeless ascetic livelihood? Does this struggle for gender equality going to benefit the household entities and the society at large?”
To the first question, it is absolutely there is that need. As many women grow to fed up with the household life where in modern societies, she has to work to earn money, and at home, she has to tend her family, that become too much for many women. Then the alternative is ‘to be an ordained’. However, in some Buddhist traditions, to be ordained is not to run away from responsibilities. In many monasteries, she has to work even harder than in her family. however, in the monastery, she learn to work with mindfulness, not for ‘myself’ or ‘my family’ but for the good of the many.
In the forest tradition, she is expected to lead the ascetic life which in many cultures, is reserved for men only. The ascetic life can be lived beautifully by women, too. I personally meet many nuns who live the ascetic life successfully and happily. When they have overcome their difficulties, these nuns become very good advisers to many lay women in the areas that only women can understand women!
Nuns also can meditate well, in Many meditation centres in Burma, the goyinis (female practitioners) are usually outnumber Yogis (male practitioners. Many of them, after the meditation retreat(s) having tasted the flavor of Dhamma which is excellent than any flavor in the world, aspire to be ordained in order to devote all their time and energy to spiritual practices. Do you think this is good enough for the spiritual seekers?
The Buddha said, in the spiritual realm, men and women are equal. Why should women always be kept to produce and tend the children? The earth is already burdened with people, we do not have to produce more children….
I will return to this latter.
Is that the reason why women get ordained? – (Quote Ayya)To the first question, it is absolutely there is that need. As many women grow to fed up with the household life where in modern societies, she has to work to earn money, and at home, she has to tend her family, that become too much for many women. Then the alternative is ‘to be an ordained’.
Ayya also said that mendicants had to undergo tougher conditions than householders. If the same women complained that household life is tough, will they not complain even more when a mendicants life is much tougher than a householder’s? So the “running away” goes on. Surely, there is a way from the Buddha’s Teachings to “stop” the running away from being a householder, as we are not so fortunate to “run away” like Ayya to become a mendicant. Appreciate any advice from Ayya on how to stop running away whenever we are faced with difficulties in household.
If what Buddy said is true, we should be reviving the Buddha’s original Suttas instead of Bhikkhunis Sangha, right? I am still very ignorant about this.
Hi LeeAnn, Buddy isn’t right: the bhikkhuni order was never lost. This was already shown at length in the threads. LeeAnn, it’s easier to practice this path of renunciation while living the simple life of a monastic. Women shouldn’t be denied this opportunity for liberation from suffering just because of gender. It is possible still to practice renunciation of craving and attachment while living a laylife but it’s much more difficult because of the nature of the lifestyle.
That is why we are supporting the development of the bhikkhuni sangha, simply to allow more people the opportunity to practice the path to liberation from suffering completely.
Hi Lee Ann,
In some traditions, in order to teach the candidates of Ordination that there is ‘no escape’, they make the monastic life even harder! This is how it goes. But it serves a purpose, the ordained ones become stronger with the right understanding of ‘no escape’ then, willing to face reality, not ‘run away’ or cove up one’s weakness, but become tougher Dhamma practitioners. This is done in the supportive environment of like-minded individuals who pursue the same goal, share the same view, practice the same rules that called ‘the Sangha’.
As I had stated earlier, nuns might have to work harder, but with a different attitude to their labor effort. it’s not for ‘myself’ or ‘my family’, but for the good of the many, for the benefit& wellbeing of gods and men. Of cause, in order to work with this right attitude, they have to learn a lot, and sometimes, they might make mistakes, and learn again not to repeat (‘stop running away’ ) in the future. This is how one practices follow up the path of enlightenment as it was pointed out by the Buddhas.
Thank you Ayya, appreciate your time and effort to reply to me. Looks like both household and mendicants will experience the same Samsara, no matter where we run to with different sets of worldly problems. Guess it is our minds that are experiencing the Samsara and not where we go and where we are in.I think the only “escape” is to see our minds.
Ayya, I read we are made of 5 aggregates i.e Body & Mind. According to Buddha, our mind consists of 1.Feelings 2.Perception 3.Mental formations 4. Volitional activities 5.Consciousness. Ayya, I find that everyday our mind is thinking this and that and sometimes is like our mind is talking to another mind inside our head like always chattering and can also “argue” and sometimes even “scolding” with each other, like a “movie” inside it. Ayya, what is that belong? Is that mental formations or Volition or our consciousness that are talking? Ayya, appreciate your invaluable answer.
I wish Ayya and all the other Bhikkhunis nothing but joy and contentment in your pursuit as noble Ones and finally “escape” from this Samsara.Sadhu,sadhu,sadhu.
The five aggregates are: 1. body
2.Feelings 3.Perception 4.Mental formations = Volitional activities 5.Consciousness. The talking mind belong to no 4, but it involves no 2,3 and 5. No 2 &3 give information for the talks and no 5 give mental images make the talk goes longer. That is how mind make stories, movie and novels. too stop this proliferation in the mind, meditation uses many techniques, but fundamental to all is mindfullness (sati), clear comprehension (sampajanna) and effort (viriya).
Sorry Ayya, to trouble you again. As a householder, I also think of running away to become like Ayya when I feel like “trapped” in household responsibilities and doing what we don’t like to do (i.e. no freedom and no total peace of mind) So, I need to know whether Buddha encouraged women householders in going forth? I checked the Sigalovada Sutta for an answer as shown:-
“In five ways, young householder, should a wife as the West be ministered to by a husband:
(i) by being courteous to her,
(ii) by not despising her,
(iii) by being faithful to her,
(iv) by handing over authority to her,
(v) by providing her with adornments.
“The wife thus ministered to as the West by her husband shows her compassion to her husband in five ways:
(i) she performs her duties well,
(ii) she is hospitable to relations and attendants
(iii) she is faithful,
(iv) she protects what he brings,
(v) she is skilled and industrious in discharging her duties.
“In these five ways does the wife show her compassion to her husband who ministers to her as the West. Thus is the West covered by him and made safe and secure.
There was no mention about going forth for householders by Buddha and these two verses caught me:
a.Husband-(iv) by handing over authority to her.
b.Wife-(iv) she protects what he brings.
a.-(iv) shows women are to administer the household.
b.-(iv)shows men should bring home the income.
So, Ayya, is there other Suttas where Buddha mentioned women householder can go forth or the right time where women householders are allowed to go forth? I needed to know so that I would not be going against the advice of the Buddha and became disobedient, as I also came across the 1st para of Karaniya Metta Sutta that was translated by Ven. K.Sri Dhammananda as:
1.One skilled in good,wishing to attain that state of peace should act thus: he should be able, straight,upright,OBEDIENT,gentle, and humble.
Can Ayya guide us on our dilemma.Sadhu.
I can’t directly answer your question, but the Therigatha (containing verses from enlightened Nuns) gives a fair idea of the worth of a woman’s going forth (and demonstrates quite aptly that yes, women did go forth under the Buddha).
Dear Lee Ann
The references in Nikaya to women are scattered many place i the Suttas. the most concentrated account is in Matugama Samyutta Nikaya & Bhikkhuni vagga (SN); until now, I don’t see any place that women asked ordination directly from the Buddha or His exhortation to women to renounce the world. He was accused as ‘breaking families’, perhaps, to avoids further troubles, he did not directly encourage womenfolks to renounce. We must beer in mind that He taught Dhamma in India 2600 years ago, with a lot of social valuation and moral standards concerning women quite different from our age. however, there are many inspiring encounters of Bikkhuni in his days with Mara. These stories are telling. Other sources are Therigatha (canonical)& Bhikkhuni Appadana (post-canonical). Look at this:
“in the morning, the bhikkhuni Alavika dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Savatthi for alms. When she had walked for alms in Savatthi and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Blind Men’s Grove seeking seclusion.
Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Alavika, desiring to make her fall away from seclusion, approached her and addressed her in verse:
There is no escape in the world,
So what will you do with seclusion?
Enjoy the delights of sensual pleasure:
Don’t be remorseful later!
Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Alavika: “Now who is it that recited the verse — a human being or a non-human being?” Then it occurred to her: “This is Mara the Evil One, who has recited the verse desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in me, desiring to make me fall away from seclusion.”
Then the bhikkhuni Alavika, having understood, “This is Mara the Evil One,” replied to him in verses:
There is an escape in the world
Which I have closely touched with wisdom.
O Evil One, kinsman of the negligent,
You do not know that state.
Sensual pleasures are like sword stakes;
The aggregates, their chopping block.
What you call sensual delight
Has become for me non-delight.
Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, “The bhikkhuni Alavika knows me,” sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.
or this account, click here http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn05/sn05.002.bodh.html
The word you cited as OBEDIENT is in Pali SUVACO which means more as ‘receptive’ or ‘easy to talk to’.
And here is more on Mettasutta.
Santussako ca subharo ca,
Appakicco ca sallahukavutti;
Santindriyo ca nipako ca,
Appakicco means less activity (not too busy)
and Appagabbho kulesvananugiddho means not attached to family. all these are qualities need to be cultivated as associated factors for developing Metta. Are these mean more to the renunciation-life?
Thank you so much Ayya and Anagarika Blake for your quick reply and for further references of the Suttas on Bhikkhunis.
I think it looks like it is easier for men householder to renounce the world than women householder especially if we have children. For us, even if we renounced, the guilt-feeling remained and our hearts cannot experience total detachment and peace and still worry about children i.e not so easy to let go as men, as men know children would be cared for by women and relatives and can easily let go to pursue their spiritual path and liberation. It seems to me like women have more worldly afflictions and had to “finish off” our female kamma for being born as women.
Anyway, I still support Bhikkhunis and regard them as very fortunate to be able to liberate themselves from the world. Looks like my kamma is not ripen yet. Thank you, I will check out those Suttas you mentioned. Sadhu.
About 20 years ago, our teacher, a Theravada monk in Vietnam used to preach Dhamma in praise of the renunciation life. He talked on the constraint of the householder life and how free and unblemished is the life of renunciation. As a result, many of his students aspired to be ordained, among them were many young women. This compelled him to set up a nunnery in his monastery in South of Vietnam. There, we become the white-robed recluses, not the fully ordained nuns, but we did not care for status as long as he and other monks in his monastery treat us very kind. In our Dhamma and meditation classes where young monks and nuns learn together, the nuns used to do better in their studies as well as contemplative practice. This made our teacher very proud of his students and his good intention in supporting and teaching nuns.
But one day, a group of nuns went to another monastery, they were prevented to enter the dining room where some monks were sitting and enjoying their offerings. These nuns were arranged to sit in a lower place, and served food after all monks had eaten their foods. The nuns also received offerings in a very smaller amount than what the monks received. I was wondering: do these people think that the nuns need less support than the monks do? When my thoughts was expressed, I got the answer that “nuns are less merit than monks because they are born with inferior kamma, and they keep less precepts than the monks do.” I was surprised but dare not express my doubt about the fact i known in our monastery that nuns learn better than most of the monks, and they do practice very sincere. Latter on i asked one of my Acariya about the merit of a person consisting in his/her Sila, Samadhi, and Panna (wisdom) or by that person’s gender? The answer from Acariya was, of cause, in Sila, Samadhi, and Panna. Then, why lay people still perceiving that offering to monks get more merit than to nuns, even in case nuns’ achievement on the spiritual path are quite extraordinary? “That is only a perception”, the Acariya answered & tried to put down the issue. It occurred to me: ‘why can’t we change our perceptions to a more accurate and wholesome way?’
That was the staring point in our long journey to seek a legal procedure for our Higher Ordination. i belief that Buddhasasana can be prolonged by men and women alike, it is the same as home’s chores should be performed by husband and wife equally. The family responsibilities are burdened for both men and women, why only women are blamed if they left home for the homeless life?
Thank you Ayya Dharma,
I personally owe much to sincere, spiritually developed women. My spiritual path really started with the thought towards a woman I admired “If even a young woman, whom is considered the lowest of the low in society, can develop such wonderful and beautiful qualities of the mind, such as virtue and wisdom, then why can’t I also develop such wonderful and beautiful qualities of the mind?”
While the ‘if even a woman’ part might seem a bit chauvinist, perhaps it would be better described as the death of chauvinism in me – when I realized I was missing out on so much by not treating women as equals, guides and teachers.
This is why I feel strongly that the reinvigoration of the Bhikkhuni Sangha is very important. The sight of a samana (one of the four divine messengers) can indeed be very powerful, I think for some, the sight of a female samana can have even more impact.
Thank you Ayya Dharma for sharing your story and inspiration and dedication to the Holy Life. May the devas always protect and support you.
What is a deva?
The Buddha doesn’t advocate blind belief in the undemonstrated assertions of others. Somewhere he talks to a bunch of questioners who ask him about Brahma and he asks them if they’ve ever met Brahma, or of they know of anyone who has, and the answer is “no”, so he asks (I paraphrase) “so why are you bothering about Brahma?”.
However, the Buddha as portrayed by monks in the suttas is always talking about devas. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta he is portrayed as seeing these beings, since he asks a monk to step aside who is blocking the view of the devas who want to get one last look at the Buddha before he dies.
For me, devas are of exactly the same epistemological status as Brahma, Jehovah, leprechauns, Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy or Harry Potter. How have you gained your knowledge of devas, and what are they?
I would be grateful for any help.
Take a look at how the Buddha dealt with this query in the Sangarava Sutta, MN 100 (section 42 onwards). It’s admittedly not an easy passage to follow.
Thanks for the reference. It is quite a short and easy passage to follow, but all it does is report the Buddha as saying “It is known to me to be the case, Bharadvaja, that there are gods” and “It is widely accepted in the world, Bharadvaja, that there are gods”. Doesn’t say what a god actually is. Are these the same as devas?
In any case, this doesn’t help, it just leaves me being asked to believe an unsupported assertion in yet another very old book about an undefined entity, just like the Old Testament and Jehovah, or the Vedas and what is nowadays called the Hindu pantheon. In terms of evidence that I have seen, there is no difference between the three.
I would suspect that most people here don’t believe in Jehovah the Creator God. Why not? It says so in the Old Testament. Some here at least seem to believe in devas based on the assertions in the Pali Canon. Why believe them and not the Old Testament?
Obviously, despite the Buddha’s reported words, gods weren’t widely accepted enough in those days for Bharadvaja to have any experience of them, or he wouldn’t have needed to ask the Buddha if there were such things.
My questions on this subject are still:
– The Buddha goes on about devas, but I have never encountered one. Does this matter to the practice?
– Has anyone on this blog ever directly encountered a deva?
– If so, could they help me do so?
Thanks and regards
– The Buddha goes on about devas, but I have never encountered one. Does this matter to the practice?
Not as such, no.
– Has anyone on this blog ever directly encountered a deva?
I’ve had experiences which are a stretch to explain in other ways (I’d have to invoke Occam’s razor to say it was a deva).
– If so, could they help me do so?
If your practice of dhamma is exceptional at some point in time then it is possible devas will take an interest in you – otherwise, it is not possible.
In the Suttas devas visit monks/nuns/lay people who are practicing very sincerely, or they visit at momentous occasions/events. They simply have no interest whatsoever in ordinary Joe Blow.
You know how you get engrossed in pleasurable activities? Well, for Devas with their divine pleasures, it’s a million times more intense. Takes something big to get their attention.
Dear Ayya Dharma ,
With due respect, I don’t mean to be rude by opposing women aspiring an ascetic lifestyle. I am no Buddha to oppose.
I fully trusted the Buddha’s advice in objecting Mahapajati Gotami in going forth three times (firm stand by the Buddha)as clearly mentioned in the Mahapajati Sutta and cannot be disputed. However, when asked by Ananda, Buddha said women could equally attain to Arahantship ( cannot be disputed), but Buddha firmly prescribed the 8 rules (regarded as non-equality today)for women who aspire to going forth (bear in mind, Buddha did not establish any Bkhikkhuni Sangha prior to Ananda’s request on behalf of Mahapajati). This part of the Sutta cannot be misintepreted and disputed, unless some people do not want to obey Buddha’s advice (out of lack of Saddha in the Suttas or the Buddha)and try to dispute and overturn the Sutta to implement to accomodate the demand for gender equality and the concept of gender equality.
I used the word “concept” because to me, gender equality is innately a concept and not a reality. It is more of a modern concept (originated from the West – correct me if I am wrong) and it is what it is.
To me, the 8-Rule is, “it is what it is” and should not be regarded as inferior, subservient or submissive as all these are our mental formations and basically our proliferations of our minds (our Buddha discovered that our minds are capable of perceiving things differently).
There are many things that we perceived with wrong views. No wonder, Buddha put Right View as the First Path in the 8-fold Noble Path. Without Right View (sometimes, interpreted as Righ Understanding), we will not have Right Action and so on and so forth. Our minds are still defiled (unless attained Arahants who have undefiled minds), so we had to rely on the Buddha’s Enlightened Advice as clearly written in the Suttas, as our Enlightened Guidance. If all of us followed the Buddha’s Advice, there would be no problem or dispute in Buddhism today. Buddha laid down effective simple rules but we complicated them with our defiled minds.
Buddha only gave One Instruction to the 60 Arahants – go in different directions and spread the Buddha’s Enlightened Dhamma (Truth/Reality of Existence), and nothing else. Buddha did not ask us to do or change anything as He knows the Dhamma is timeless and in concord with Nature.
Today, Buddhism had strayed further away from the basic Instruction of the Buddha and as a result it had become defiled, contaminated and corrupted, as seen in so many cases of reported corruptions in the name of Buddhism.
As many agreed, there was no religion as Buddhism in Buddha’s time, just the pure Dhamma. Our modern concepts and defilements have divided the people and the world with religions and wars and disputes are the result of modern concepts like religion. IMO, religions make people more divided whereas the true Dhamma, otherwise.
Today, we have another modern concept called “gender equality”. Is this a Right View in the Dhamma? To me, Right View can never cause disharmony and disputes or disagreements, as seen in the recent attempt to revive the extinct Bhikkhunis Sangha in the Theravada tradition. Right View belongs to the pure Dhamma that could only bring harmony and nor disharmony.
Hence, IS gender equality a Right View in the Dhamma? Are we going against the Buddha’s advice by championing gender equality and challenging the 8-Rule in the name of progression?
My sincere apology and seek forgiveness, it I offended anyone with my unenlightened and defiled comments. This is my own views and interpretation of the concept of gender equality vs dhamma. Open for criticisms.
Thank you for follow up. We can learn a lot in dialogs. It seems you have many issues unsolved in mind regarding Bhikkhuni Ordination in Theravada tradition. And it seems in some points, you are quite inconsistent in your arguments. First you say that true Dhamma is lost, and now religions divide the world, and traditions is just a later development of true Dhamma. Well, traditions are just a later development, this is true, then why not they develop further? This is just the way of nature, no one can prevent it. It’s Dhammata (the nature of dhamma)!
Yes, to certain extend, these points are true when religious practices are misguided and when tradition is clung to as ‘unchangeable’. We know that religions, customs and traditions are compounded and conditioned phenomena (sankhara), and as all sankhara, they are founded & established in certain conditions, with the changing of conditions, they must change their nature; if not, they become misfit with the current set of conditions, therefore, they are outdated and causing conflict within and without. This is the nature of the dynamic conditions of samsara, and unavoidable. it is not because of Bhikkhuni Ordination caused this conflict or disharmony, but something ought to happen, and the involved parties have something to learn, to be wiser and more compassionate in dealing with the given situation without too much attachment to any conventional rules or doctrine.
The same thing is true with the formulation of rules in Vinaya texts. They were formulated in the conditions of India 2600 years ago where there were quite evident that the status of women were lower then men, worst was it in the middle age about the discrimination against women. Because of these dynamic social and cultural conditions, some rules were added to make the new movement (of female ascetics in term of Bhikkhunis)sustainable & acceptable. I have to inform you that the Gotami sutta is not exist in Nikaya sutta, but only in Agama conlection of texts. However the same story of Mahapajjapati Gotami asked for ordination is narrated in Culavagga of Vinaya texts, chapter X.
According to Vinaya texts, every rule laid down by the Buddha for his disciples to follow have a cause (nidana), some incident happened, that brought ill-fame for the Sangha as a united community of Buddha’s ordained disciples, the Buddha learnt about that, He called the involved person(s) into his presence, admonished them, and he stated that some rule must applied to prevent that thing happen again. All of the Vinaya rules are a kind of natural morality, i.e., they were formulated according to circumstances that emerged in time, and the need to amend or deal with immediate issue to ensue the well being of the Sangha as a whole. But for 8 Garudhamma, they were not laid down in this manner, they are a kind of forced or imposed (positive) morality. In a simple language, it can be said like this: there are no thing wrong happen yet, but they made the Buddha laid down the rules to prevent something unknown. To my knowledge of Buddhist scriptures, the Buddha had not done this before, and never after. For this reason, many scholars accept that they were not formulated at the Buddha time, but during the middle age when men felt the need to have more control and restrict on women (for what reason i don’t know, perhaps i wasn’t there during this period of human history). There are quite fews inconstancies and arguable facts, reasons, and conclusion concerning 8 Garudhamma for Buddhist nuns as they are handed down to us today.
“Today, we have another modern concept called “gender equality”. Is this a Right View in the Dhamma? To me, Right View can never cause disharmony and disputes or disagreements, as seen in the recent attempt to revive the extinct Bhikkhunis Sangha in the Theravada” tradition.”
To this, you seem confused about the Paramattha Dhamma (absolute truth) and Sumutti Dhamma (conventional truth). Right view of the noble ones belong to the first group, but right view of ordinary people belong to the second group, i.e. conventional truth. Please, read this Mahacattarisaka sutta. http://studies.worldtipitaka.org/tipitaka/11M/2/2.7
Many of the rule in Vinaya also belong to this group, i.e., conventional, not absolute truth. Therefor, we can’t say it is wrong or right for an act that caused change and controversial in the world. Right or wrong is judged from personal point of view, and it has much to do with a conditioned mind-set. In reality, there is nothing as absolute right or wrong, it just a dhamma that occurs, and when it passes, it just a dhamma that passed. Right or wrong is the judgement of the ego or a collective ego (in name of religion, custom or tradition).
As a matter of fact most rules were dictated by the Buddha’s wish to keep on being supported by the lay people, otherwise what need there would have been to scold three enlightened monks that were playing in the river?
I hold also these 8 rules had the same aim when referred to’ the society of 2500 years ago.
Yet the problem rises, when we take this road, on where to stop in “correcting” the Vinaya. Why monks cannot wear normal cloths?
Why cannot they touch women? Why can’t they even have sex? Why not own personal money? And so on with the rules having full sense ar the time of the Buddha but not so much now.
I would like to change the following words…
…as seen in so many cases of reported corruptions in the name of Buddhism. TO … because Buddhism has become commercialized and modernized.
The nature of Buddhahood is such that a Buddha cannot make mistakes. He is supremely enlightened. In some situations, he may amend his instructions. He may also hesitate, but after applying his mind to the situation at hand, he will undoubtedly make the right and appropriate decision. We saw this soon after his Enlightenment, when he hesitated to teach, thinking the world will not understand. But after Brahma descended from the heavens to entreat him, the Buddha surveyed the world and then decided to teach. Similarly, he may have hesitated to establish the bhikkhuni order, but after Ananda pointed out the ability of women to be enlightened, the Buddha decided to proceed.
Near the end of his life, he again reasserts his commitment to the four-fold sangha when he declared “I shall not pass away so long as my bhikkhus. bhikkhunis, male and female devotees, are not yet well-versed in my Teaching”- MahaParinibbana sutta. The decision by the Buddha to establish the bhikkhuni order leaves no doubt as to his intention; he is after all, “vijja carana sampanno” – perfect in knowledge and conduct. Thus all his decisions are perfect. By reinstating the bhikkhuni sangha, we are doing what is closest to his intentions. By obstructing the bhikkhuni sangha, we are opposing the Buddha’s intentions
I am not clear whether what was done in Australia has been just reintroducing the bhikkhuni Sangha as estabished by the Buddha, or also changing its conditions respect to the Bhikkus. Should that be the case and younger monks having to bow to older nuns, that would be a fullfledged depart from the Buddha doctrine indeed. What would give buddy’s argument much steam.
Well said Pj Pilgrim.
I heard a wonderful Dhamma talk last Wednesday about samsara being inherently suffering. No matter how much we try to help people or make things right, samsara by it’s nature is flawed and there will always be people with wrong view and stuck on the wheel for a looong time. You did what you can, which is wonderful.
So this message is for all those Dhamma friends who might get upset at foolish remarks: that it’s helpful to remember that we try our best, but there will always be people with wrong view and indeed samsara is inherently suffering and no happiness or hope to be found in it:) So we do what we can, but keep on the practice and get out of this dukkha of existence 🙂
I think this blog has provided a lot of arguments on this issue. No one ruled out the existence of Bhikkhunis (with Buddha’s 8 rules lifetime pledge) during Buddha’s time, that led to the existence of the 4-fold assembly.
However, the arguments by many of us here are that only Buddha could ordain Bhikkhunis and with the extinction of Bhikkhunis no one except the Buddha could resuscitate it (under the Theravada tradition).
Theravada mentioned, as remember, there was a Great Schism, where Mahayana tradition was established. In Buddha’s time, there was no such thing as theravada,mahayana etc. With all these traditions (man-made concepts from proliferations of minds)to suit ourselves. By this, the Dhamma was divided into various traditions according to the various cultures as the Dhamma spread.
Yes, you are right in saying Buddha has decided to proceed with Bhikkhunis, but you have missed out the 8 rules. My argument is not on Bhikkhunis but the 8 Rules, whether we should abolish the 8 rules in the name of gender equality. This prompted me to refer to Buddha who laid down the 8 rules for women aspirants. Let’s look at it this way. If women were equal with men as in the concept of gender equality, why did the Buddha had to impose the 8 rules for women aspirants?
If I am not mistaken, the Bhikkhunis wanted to do away with the 8 rules to have same status with the Bhikkus and form their own Bhikkhunis Sangha. To me, just like the Great Schism that divided the Sangha into different traditions, this would also further divide the Sangha or Buddha-Sassana into genders.
Those Sangha that stayed true to the Buddha’s 8 Rules gave women equal opportunity for attainment to Arahanthip by accepting maichees or some other names but with the 8 rules still valid and applied. This should not be taken as superior or inferior or more power given to Bhikkus but it was an like an “Organization Chart” established by the Buddha for the Sangha to prolong the Buddha-Sassana (“Marketing Arm) for the sole purpose of spreading the Dhamma (the “Product”).
Dear Fabrizio Bartolomucci,
I think, in future, men will take over the job of women in giving birth or share responsibilities in giving birth. As Buddha said, all becoming arised from desires. It is happening now. If I am not mistaken, I have read there was a case where a man got pregnant and gave birth! In future, we will have new breeds of human beings due to the desires to have gender equality. Not surprising, if we buy into Buddha’s Dependant Origination. Buddha had predicted that lifespan of human in future would be 10 years old. So, man giving birth in future could be possible, then perhaps gender equality would be more relevant then.
Buddy, there ample evidence that the 8 rules were added after the time of the Buddha. These were posted somewhere in the blogs. If you are aware, not everything that was written in the Pali Canon was said by the Buddha. We take the teachings that are repeated often and that fit in with the other teachings to be representative of the Buddha. Also, there is no such thing as a ‘theravada vinaya’ or a ‘mahayana vinaya’ so the bhikkhuni lineage is still continuing. Also how can you be 100% sure that a certain bhikkhu’s ordination was done by monks who themselves had valid ordination, up until the time of the Buddha. The ordinations process is more symbolic and nothing is magical about an ordination. We keep the symbolism and the meaning we give it, like all ceremonies.
Like many, until I read the Hamburg papers in early 2008 I naively thought that “everything that was written in the Pali Canon was said by the Buddha.” It was a relief to know that “NOT everything …was said by the Buddha”,particularly the 8 Garudhhammas. As Dana pointed out,there is “ample evidence that the 8 rules were added after the time of the Buddha”.
I’m still amazed that prior to my reading the Hamburg papers. I had accepted the Suttas as “Gospel” even though it had been the Kalama Sutta that got me interested in the Buddha’s teachings years ago. The Hamburg papers
brought to mind the Buddha’s advice to the Kalamas, viz:
“So, as I said, Kalamas: ‘Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.” When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering” — then you should abandon them.’ Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.
“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.
Thus as Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi concluded in his paper “The Revival of Bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada Tradition” :
“In my opinion, in deciding between the conservative and the progressive approaches to the bhikkhuni issue, the question that should be foremost in our minds is this” “what would the Buddha want his elder bhikkhu-disciples to do in such a situation, now, in the twenty-first century?” If he were to see us pondering the problem today, would he want us to apply the regulations governing ordination in such a way that excludes women from the fully ordained renunciant life, so that we present to the world a religion in which men alone can lead the life of a renunciant” Or would he instead want us to apply the regulations of the Vinaya, in a way that is kind, generous, and accomodating, thereby offering the world a religion that truly embodies principles of justice and non-discrimination?”
I was planning to attempt to read some of the Suttas from accesstoinsight, as I take it as the Buddha’s Bible. Now, you said not all are direct from the Buddha, so how are people like us to know which Sutta is correct or which is not? Can you please substantiate your claim and also hope you don’t mind to link the Hamburg paper you mentioned that said the contrary. With so much confusion and contradictions, I am beginning to loose faith in what I am going to read before I even started. Where can I find the original Suttas to read? You sound like a seasoned dhamma seeker, can you please recommend because I don’t want to spend so much of my time reading them and later to find that I have been reading a fake one. I can read from books written by many scholars and monks/nuns but those are their commentaries. S.O.S.
Dear Lee Anne,
If I might reply on Judy’s behalf; it is indeed difficult to know which texts are to be taken as authentic and which are not. How could it be otherwise? We are dealing with texts that are 2500 years old, which have been subject to countless editors’ hands, and passed down in various media in diverse countries. The amazing thing is that they survive at all. To question the authenticity of the Suttas is not to disparage the monks and nuns who worked together for so long to pass them down; it is to marvel at their accomplishment and, with an attitude of wonder and exploration, to try to unravel exactly how they did it.
For an everyday practitioner, who is not interested in detailed textual studies and who wishes simply to read the texts for their own spiritual guidance, there is, alas, all to little help. For those who wish to read the Bible, by way of contrast, there are detailed comments and analysis on every verse explaining the findings of modern research. For Buddhists there is no such practical guide.
Sadly, the academic work which has been done is far too little, and is almost all restricted within a tiny circle of specialists. Nevertheless, academic work has opened up and clarified many important questions, which for those who are familiar with it, has changed forever the possibilities we see in the Suttas. But the traditional expositors of the teachings – the Sangha – are, with few exceptions, stuck in traditional modes of learning and teaching that do not allow for new ways of seeing.
The good news is that, for practical purposes, the main doctrinal teachings found in the Nikayas/Agamas have withstood the acid test of scholarly criticism, and are generally regarded as a fairly early and reasonably reliable guide to the Buddha’s teaching.
I have been teaching, writing, and discussing on this issue for the past several years, and you can find some information on my santipada.org site (for example here and here) and in various talks. I have been giving sutta classes where these issues are discussed for the past several years, and many of these are available online.
Perhaps the most useful introduction to this field is the book that has been cited earlier, Choong Mun-keat’s The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism. Ven. Analayo is completing a major work on the majjhima Nikaya; and Bhikkhu Bodhi’s more recent writings (from the Connected Discourses of the Buddha onwards) is aware of these issues.
The website for the Hamburg conference referred to is here. You can find much of the information presented at the conference. A book of papers from the conference has finally been published: Dignity and Discipline, from Wisdom publications.
Bhante Brahmali wrote a thread a while ago on how we can know if a sutta is written by the Buddha. I tried to look for his response since it was very nicely written, but there are too many threads and couldn’t find it.
Basically, if a teaching is repeated over and over again it’s most probably said by the Buddha ex: Eightfold path, 4 noble truths, characteristics of existence, cessation etc Also if it fits with the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. Also the teaching is found in the Chinese version (agamas). When reading the suttas you get the feel that the Buddha basically taught morality, restraint of senses, meditation (samadhi) and everything is non-self, impermanent and suffering. And of course having wholesome mind states: peace, kindness, generousity …
Very nicely said Judy!
Everyone should read your response.
a big Saaadhu:)
Thank you very much, Bhante Sujato & Dania for some reliable and much researched alternatives and links, and Dania, for pointing out the core fundamental Teachings of the Buddha.
For the Christians, they read the Bible, and for Buddhists, we read the Suttas(as there is no like a Bible available for us), provided we can understand what are said there without first having to read other commentaries before attempting to read the Suttas, that are not easy to read and understand without some basic understanding of the Teachings.
Since we are not a renunciant, we have not much time to read and research everything so we rely on the Sangha members to guide and provide us with the original Teachings in the Suttas that were said to have been passed down to us by the 500 Arahants.
First I would note that, given the current onditions, a self standing woman sangha will not be able to live only supported by offerings and shall choose between dissolving or starting to work so losing the main feature of mendicant monks and nuns.
The reason I already mentioned and of which the Buddha was most probably aware when He stated those 8 rules, is that, when lay women are concerned, they incline to give alms better to monks as as to nuns and so far it is women to give the most offerings.
As said, though, we are most probably moving away from the 7000 years old patriarchical era, of which also the Buddha was informed, and we are probably moving toward a new matriarcate where nuns might provide the first seeds of soon to appear witches motherhoods and so take the title of matriarches or saints.
As for breeding, I thnk in the future, rather than men, it shall be machines to make babies that shall support the fetuses after the first weeks in the womb of the mother.
At last, for what regards life span, the Buddha also said that human shall live in the future 500 years or more and it looks this to be temporary directin we are heading. The life span shall most probably reduce where matriarcat is fully developed, what, to me, shall not happen in less than 200 years, depending on how much men shall be willing or capable to fight against it.
I am very curious about this statement:
“As said, though, we are most probably moving away from the 7000 years old patriarchical era, of which also the Buddha was informed, and we are probably moving toward a new matriarcate”
May you kindly share a link or some facts/statistics that lead you to draw this conclusion?
Actually I have made more than that: I wrote a short esay in the form of short stories from the era before history to the future to show how are period is part of the picture, and what could happne next. The good news is that the book can also be found at Amazon under the name: “Nell´antro della caverna dell´indovino Tiresia”, the bad one is that the text is currently available only in Italian. Should interest arise, I could also translate it into English, but as you may guess, that is not like drinking a cup of tea.
Anyway, should you not be able to read the book, please ask me more specific questions and I will gladly answer.
Don’t know if you are intentionally trying to pull someone’s leg or if you are really just dragging your chain. First I think, and I do think, that the man who gave birth was a female who had superficially changed her sex to partner another female. She was of course impregnated by a male sperm donor, how I don’t know, nor do I care to find out. The important matter here is that you do not continue to fabricate the truth.
Second, I am not Buddhist although I have being studying the religion (alongside others) but, in particular Theravadan Buddhism for about seven years relating to a thesis I wrote concerning women’s inequality in Thailand largely promoted by the mindset of the Thai nationals who adhere to the Thai Therevadan Buddhist belief that to be born a female automatically relegates you to having to be reborn a male to be on the path towards attaining Buddha.
I fully congratulate the women around the world within the Theravadan tradition for becoming ordained Bikkhunis. The non compliance of the Thai government and the Sangha had someone peeved me while I was researching my paper. I also had heard of Tenzin Palmo’s ordination into the Tibetan Bhikkuni Sangha and thought how progressive and held much admiration for her devotion.
Getting to another point of contention arising from your blog that somewhat goads me is your referral of the 8 extra precepts given the women. Given that I am a feminist fighting for equality within a worldwide women’s movement, your comments do little to allay my fears that, the general male populace have anything rational or intelligent to proffer in the area of gender equality.
I will not hesitate to guess but, given the state of the world at large and the fact that it has to date been dominated by a male majority rule, things are not only crook in Tallarook but, that males are NOT to be trusted under any circumstances with anything less than equality. If it is perceived that Buddha was a wise man, perhaps the 8 extra precepts were given to the females to give the men a little bit of something to think about. Why were the extra commands given to the women and not the men. Probably because the women have more brains than the men. Relating to the nature of the precepts, mostly of a special stance on abstinence, and that it falls largely within the domain of the male to lead young naive, innocent females into sexual relationships, the eight precepts give special instructions and power to the females to say no to the male monks, instead of just giving in to a so called serious advocate of no less than Buddha. Let’s just say that the women who came to be ordained took up the path hopefully for the right reasons, unlike a lot of males who might like to be considered as alternative lifestylers or something along the lines of the exotic hence, attracting female sexual attention (most likely like our Italian friend Fabrizio). Now who is testing who here?
Another little thought, I do not know what the figure 8 looks like in Thai or Tibetan but to me it describes the figure of Eternity perfectly. Break the rules and you will pay for it eternally, or abide and have peace the same Brother.
many thanks for your enlightening considerations: it breezes on me like fresh air when someone strays away from the “politically correct”…
Your issue in interesting in many ways, to me. In fact what is happenng in the western world is that women have taken in many respects the position of men, and men are rapidly running the opposite direction.
How do you think the buddhasasana should interpret this process; should it keep on considering men those that own male organs, even if they shall raise children, cook, clean, provide care and so on, or rather the individuals that shall sport male traits even if own female organs?
As for breeding I expect a change in the process to disentagle biological women.
Frankly I see no point altogether in finding what the Buddha really said and what was , more or less objectively, elicited from what He said.
The point is that those teachings have allowed the Buddhasasana to live more than 2500 years unscathed, what has not happened for many other schools that evidently mangled too much with the original Buddha´s teachings.
Again the issue is pragmatical: what allows practicioners to ovecome sorrow, and what allows the next generations to have the possibility to do the same.
If the Buddha were alive there would have been certainly Suttas with same asctics or brahmin asking Him: sutta X was written following the Tatagatha´s words, not following His words, both following and non following, or neither following nor not following? 🙂
Really? Who says? And who benefits from that belief? Those who have been indoctrinated with the belief, or those who set themselves up as priests of the Buddha who do the indoctrination?
(BTW, I completely agree with you on the bhikkhuni issue.)
“..I was planning to attempt to read some of the Suttas from accesstoinsight, as I take it as the Buddha’s Bible. Now, you said not all are direct from the Buddha, so how are people like us to know which Sutta is correct or which is not? ”
Dear Lee Anne
I’m so glad that Dania and Bhante Sujato jumped in to help answer your queries. I couldn’t have replied any better than them. Thanks so much, Dania and Bhante for coming to the rescue. I fit neatly into the category of lay practitioners who “is not interested in detailed textual studies and who wishes simply to read the texts for their own spiritual guidance”.
This is how I would normally check to know if what I have heard or read is taught by the Buddha. I read the suttas simply to verify what I have heard in Dhamma talks or read in books. When I read the sutta, I watch my heart. If the heart rejoices and/or is at ease with what is expounded in the sutta, I generally know I can trust it. If it raises doubt or a “dis-ease’ in the heart, I re-check the sutta with scholar monastics or laity. As Dania rightly pointed out, the Suttas on the core teachings are in all probability accurate. When I read the core suttas, they resonate well with the heart and gut. I don’t read all the suttas. I select key ones. For me the first three cardinal discourses by the Buddha are essential readings. They are (1) Dhamma-cakka-pavattana sutta (Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth ie the 4 Noble Truths), (2) Anatta-lakkhana sutta (The Sutta on Not-Self), and (3) Aditta-pariyaya Sutta (The Fire Sermon). You can check out http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/wheel017.html. Also important for me are the Sutta on Right View (Sammaditthi Sutta) and The Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta). All the suttas need to be read slowly, again and again to comprehend the teachings fully & completely.
The Kalama Sutta is worth reading too. A recent retreat I attended at Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sancutary in Taiping, Malaysia brought to mind the Kalama Sutta. There were 57 adults of which 15 were students from Nottingham Unversity (M’sian Campus). I was delighted to see so many young adults. All bar two of the students were new to Buddhism and attending their first retreat. They were eager and keen to know the Buddha’s teachings. During one of the group interviews, a student asked “How come Buddha taught that life is suffering? I looked back on my life and it’s not all suffering, there were happy times” . Bhante Kumara who led the retreat smiled and replied “The Buddha did not teach that life is sufferig. He taught ‘There is dukkha (suffering), not life is dukkha’ “. I smiled too because the “wrong” teaching had not sat well in the student’s heart and gut. He had investigated the teaching against his own experience and it did not seem true. That is precisely the essence of the Kalama Sutta, do not simply believe, investigate and know for yourself through enquiry and direct experience.
I remember too reading an account by Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi on why he decided to investigate the Bhikkhuni Revival issue. He said prior to his investigation he had always gave the standard reply when asked why women cannot ordain as bhikkhunis. He had heard the standard reply from his elders and had assumed it must be accurate. He later began to wonder if this is true. It was doubt (a dis-ease in the heart?) that motivated him to investigate the texts, and the results is his wonderful paper on “The Revival of Bhikhhuni Ordination in the Theravada Tradition ” presented at the Hamburg Conference in 2007.
In summary, in hearing or reading the Dhamma, I would bring awareness to my heart and gut, they seldom fail to signal what’s right or wrong. Give it a go.
Thank you Judy Chua, for that wonderful explanation. Can I say something about “suffering” that I understood it to be. Initially, I also thought why Buddha was talking about suffering so much until of late, I began to grasp it in a more positive way and objectively. Please correct me.
Suffering in English, to me, is not a good translation for the Pali “Dukkha”. Suffering arises when our conditioned minds do not want to accept reality.The reality of life is, we are subject to old age,sickness,death, unsatisfactoriness etc and to the Buddha, called them as Dukkha, and we will suffer (mentally) if we do not accept them as natural phenomena of our existence or mind. If we look at them objectively, then no suffering in our mind. Of course, it is easier said as in, when we get a cut, the immediate reaction is pain and we do not like pain so we suffer there (actually the mind is the one suffering not the body). Or death, if we accept that death is another reality, then we can accept it easily without much suffering like crying,lamenting etc due to attachment and ignorance etc., but compassionately.
I don’t think Buddha would want us to suffer more by telling us about suffering, but He wanted us to see suffering (rather Dukkha) as dukkha not suffering per se, objectively, and not emotionally (suffer) as in our English suffering (mentally). So, Buddha asked us to meditate (only way) to separate (detached) the pain in the body and the pain in our mind as the body knows no pain (no feeling) only the mind has pain (feelings), as Buddha said our mind has Feelings as one of the components in our mind. Hope I explain it correctly as this is my shallow understanding of suffering. Now I tend to “suffer” less with the understanding of Dukkha and the Dhamma. So, suffering is negative (pessimistic) whereas Dukkha is positive (optimistic).
Thank you iMeditation …Well said! Well said! I rejoice in your excellent explanation.. What caught by eye too was what you wrote regarding “what the body need ..eveything else is related to the wanting of the mind.” This is so true. Mahatma Gandhi too had said that the world has enough for everyone’s needs but not their greed.
And what is greed. but “wanting”; hatred the ” not wanting”; and delusion “not knowing the wanting nor not wanting”; precisely the 3 posionous roots (kilesas) that bind us to samsara right?
Thanks for your kind words. Many of us have been taught to find happiness someday through doing. The Buddha teaches people to find happiness in this moment by simply being. Where is the need for greed when you already feel fulfilled without having to engage in unnecessary accumulation and competition. I really admire the simple way of life that the Buddha set up for his disciples. They just need the 3 basic necessities and live in small meditation huts amidst nature while learning to cultivate happiness to from within. This way of simple living is wonderful if it is applied properly.
Actually I have made more than that: I wrote a short essay in the form of short stories from the era before history to the future to try and show how our period is part of the big picture, and what could happen next. The good news is that the book can also be found at Amazon under the name: “Nell´antro della caverna dell´indovino Tiresia”, the bad one is that the text is currently available only in Italian. Should interest arise, I could translate it into English but, as you may guess, that is not like drinking a cup of tea.
Anyway, should you not be able to read the book, please ask me more specific questions and I will gladly answer.
Anyway something I think I may already say, hoping this shall make some sense out of the whole contest.
Basically all periods have a part of people that leads and another one that follows and care for the details. One could think of yin and yang or whetever framework she likes, but I think the point is clear. In the past 7000-2000 years to circa 1950 depending on the locations in the globe, the leading part have been the male and the detail carer has been the woman. Since 1950 females have started to emulate the men, that is one of humorous aspect of femminism: in order for women to become free they should become like men, but anyway, we are here talking of other.
At the same time most men have not fully abandoned their leading positions and so there arises a lot of conflicts about leadership and no one caring for the aspect of compassion, detail handling, support for the losers and so on.
I hold this situation to be highly unstable and, to me, it could stabilize in only two ways: either the women return to the pre-feministic era – highly unlikely! – or the men take their role.
Going cautiously into the real world, we ould see already some signs of this change in men, if only from the women´s complaints often heard about there being no more real men around 🙂
The correct anthropological terminology to use in this instance is not emulation which smacks of veneration almost bordering on reverence but, “Mimesis and Alterity”. To initially mimic a way of existence so as to learn all the rules and then throw it right back at you with an original take, politics, economics and religion included. Probably more along the lines of proceeding in the development of culture within the context of globalisation.