The Five Points

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog entry on the ‘Five Points’ that the English bhikkhus had imposed on the nuns there. In that entry, I emphasized that my information was uncertain, but that since I had no response to my requests for details, I would publish what I had.

I’ve just received some new information, and am revising the blog accordingly. While the gist of the five points is the same, there were some serious mistakes in my previous post. In particular, the previous information that I had was that Ajahn Sumedho was to be made personally responsible for the ordinations, and I was strongly critical of this. But my source here was confused, and the situation is exactly the opposite: the actual Five Points shift responsibility for ordination from Ajahn Sumedho to the bhikkhu Sangha as a whole. I apologize for this mistake, retract my previous statements, and ask forgiveness for my incorrect criticisms.

The other major mistake was that I said that the appointment of a ‘liaison bhikkhu’ was one of the Five Points, whereas in fact it is a recommendation outside of the Five Points. (See the end of this post for details.)

As I have said so many times, I have been completely unable to get responses for my questions, and this is why I have made the choice to go public. I knew that this would draw out some response. Many will criticize me for ‘airing the dirty laundry of the Sangha in public’; but surely it’s better than sticking your dirty laundry in a basket and shoving it in a cupboard to go fetid. I have tried to play by the rules for many years, and it doesn’t work. Those in power set the rules, and the rules somehow always favor them. Now, perhaps, we will start to see some real movement.

Anyway, below please see the revised version of the Five Points, based on my most recent and accurate sources. As usual, the source does not want to be named in public. I hardly need to add that it is all still uncertain, and that this will not be the final word on the matter. But you may be sure that whenever I get better information, i will share it with you.

When the Perth bhikkhuni ordination happened, we started to hear reports of a certain ‘Five Points’ that had been imposed by the monks on the nuns in the English communities. Before this, we had heard nothing, and even since that time we have no ‘official’ statement from the English Sangha.

There have been ongoing problems in the relationship between the monks and nuns in the two main English monasteries, especially Amaravati, and to a lesser extent Chithurst. There have been several events that have shaken the communities in recent years, including the disrobal of Ajahn Thaniya, one of the most respected of all the nuns; the attendance at the Hamburg conference on bhikkhunis, which allowed the question of bhikkhuni ordination to be discussed for a brief window before being squashed again; and the planned departure of several senior nuns to set up a new monastery in California, out of the direct sway of the English Sangha.

We’ve heard reports of how the nuns have been criticized in public during Dhamma talks by Ajahn Sumedho, who told them that they will have to submit to the patriarchy, give up any rights, and so on. It is a central platform of Ajahn Sumedho’s teachings that submission to ‘the form’ is an essential part of one’s Dhamma practice. Some of the monks at Amaravati have been openly calling for the nuns to leave. In November of 2008 Ajahn Sumedho withdrew his support for siladhara ordination, effectively throttling the growth of the community.

It was over two months ago that Ajahn Sumedho came up with the idea of the ‘Five Points’. He drew the list up together with his assistant, Thai monk Paññasāro, and they presented them to the English Council of Elders.

The Council of Elders is an unelected body of senior monks and a couple of nuns in the Amaravati circle of monasteries (Amaravati, Chithurst, Ratanagiri, Devon, Santacittarama in Italy, Dhammapala in Switzerland, Bodhinyanarama in New Zealand… Abhayagiri? – I’m not sure.) It does not include any monks from outside the Amaravati circle. They meet behind closed doors and no-one knows what they discuss. Such a body has no authority or precedent in the Vinaya, which always requires openness, and always requires the involvement of the whole Sangha in a particular monastery.

The Ajahns assented to the Five Points on the authority of Ajahn Sumedho. They were presented by two bhikkhus from the Elders Council to the siladharas in August 2009. The siladharas were told that ordination would not be reinstated until they agreed to the Five Points. Remember that the approximately 15 sīladharā have no status in the Vinaya and no sense of communion with the wider Sangha, and hence no-one to turn to. The nuns did not want to accept the Five Points, but there was no negotiation or opportunity for dialogue or compromise. By October 2009, each of the siladharas had decided to accept the Five Points.

The nuns had been told that once they accepted them the list would be made public as soon as practical. Even though the nuns have kept their side of the deal, this has not happened. It would take, oh, about two minutes to publish them on the web: apparently the monks have been just too busy to get this done.

Here are the five points.

1.The most junior bhikkhu is senior to the most senior siladhara. This structural relationship is defined by the Vinaya and cannot change over time.
2. In public situations such as giving a blessing, leading the chanting, or giving a talk, leadership always rests with the most senior bhikkhu present. He may, if he chooses, invite a siladhara to lead, but this in no way establishes a new standard of shared leadership.
3. The Bhikkhu Sangha will be responsible for the ordination and guidance of the siladharas, rather than Ajahn Sumedho. Candidates should receive approval from the Siladhara Sangha, and acceptance from the Bhikkhu Sangha, as represented by the members of the Elder’s Council.
4. The Siladhara Sangha should invite (pavarana) the Bhikkhu Sangha at the end of the Rains Retreat, in accordance with the Vinaya.
5. The siladhara training is considered to be a vehicle respected in our tradition as suitable for the realization of liberation. It is complete as it stands, and is not an evolution towards a different form such as bhikkhuni ordination.

Okay, so first off take a deep breath and have a think. What is going on here? How could this be happening? How far has a community drifted that it has to draw up such a charter of domination to regulate the relations between the sexes?

Now let’s look more closely at each rule.

1. The most junior bhikkhu is senior to the most senior siladhara. This structural relationship is defined by the Vinaya and cannot change over time.

This follows the pattern of the first garudhamma for the bhikkhunis, but greatly expands the scope of that rule. Instead of merely making it a requirement that all nuns must bow to monks, now nuns are junior in all things. And we must just keep bearing in mind that since the siladharas were invented as an entirely new order, any reference to the Vinaya is entirely ad hoc. There is, in fact, not one single word in the Vinaya that dictates the relationship of the bhikkhus to the siladharas, as the siladharas did not exist. The monks can simply make up any rule they like. If they want to find inspiration in the Vinaya, then great: but why focus on those things that are specifically about controlling nuns?

It is clearly untrue to say this relationship is ‘defined in the Vinaya’. Yes, there are some passages that might be taken to suggest such a relationship between the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis in the Vinaya, just as there are many to suggest a quite different relationship. The Vinaya texts are not complete or cut and dried in all respects, but they offer us a template that we can use for guidance. It is curious that the English Sangha, which is well known for its aversion to study, and its doctrine that the Suttas are merely an opportunity for reflection, should adopt such a hardline attitude when it comes to the relation between the genders. Compare the wise words of Ajahn Sumedho in his introduction to Maurice Walshe’s translation of the Digha Nikaya:

The Suttas need to be studied, reflected on, and practiced in order to realize their true meaning. They are ‘Dhamma discourses’ or contemplations on the ‘way things are’. They are not meant to be ‘sacred scriptures’ which tell us what to believe. One should read them, listen to them, think about them, contemplate them, and investigate the present reality, the present experience with them.

To which all good Buddhists should say ‘sadhu!’ and take to heart as a guide for penetrating the teachings. But why is the Vinaya any different? If anything, the Vinaya should be more open to interpretation, as it is more closely tied to specific cultural conditions at the time of the Buddha, and because by the universal judgment of the scholars the Vinaya is much later and less authentic than the Suttas.

And if we compare with the first garudhamma, there the Buddha is said to specifically cite the cultural pressures of his religious environment in laying down that rule. This is a poor excuse, and it seems obvious to me that someone much lamer than the Buddha was really behind it. Still, one could at least argue that there was a prima facie expectation that the nuns should bow to monks in that culture, and that the first garudhamma was a minimum requirement allowing the monks to save face, while granting the nuns freedom in all important matters.

The first of the five points does not even have such a shoddy excuse. It goes well beyond anything that is required in the culture, and clearly contravenes the spirit of the international charters on the equality of women that England (and Thailand for that matter) is a signatory to.

2. In public situations such as giving a blessing, leading the chanting, or giving a talk, leadership always rests with the most senior bhikkhu present. He may, if he chooses, invite a siladhara to lead, but this in no way establishes a new standard of shared leadership.

For many years in the past the siladharas have been taking a leading role in such things as giving the blessing chant at meal time; now this is withdrawn.

There’s a Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya (MN5 Anangana) where the Buddha speaks of the ‘evil unwholesome wishes’ of a monk who thinks, ‘May I give the blessing after the meal, and not some other monk!’ To an outsider it must sound silly – what kind of spiritual practitioner would get caught up in such trivial desires? But here we have it, exactly the same wish, not merely a thought of a sloppy monk, but formulated as a rule governing the relations between the genders in a modern Western monastery.

This rule tells us nothing about the Vinaya, but quite a lot about the anxieties of the monks.

3. The Bhikkhu Sangha will be responsible for the ordination and guidance of the siladharas, rather than Ajahn Sumedho. Candidates should receive approval from the Siladhara Sangha, and acceptance from the Bhikkhu Sangha, as represented by the members of the Elder’s Council.

The wording here suggests that the ‘approval’ of the siladharas is needed, but the ‘acceptance’, i.e. the ordination itself, is from the bhikkhus.

The bhikkhus who do the ordination are not the actual bhikkhu Sangha in a monastery, as is required in every formal Act of the Sangha, but the Elder’s Council. Notice how the Vinaya is invoked when it can be read as giving more power to the monks, but is ignored when power is given to the Elder’s Council, which has no legitimacy under Vinaya.

It hardly needs remarking that this rule has no precedent in Vinaya. In fact, if the sīladharās are to be considered as similar to sāmaṇerīs, then it should be a bhikkhuni who does the ordination, and there is no call for the monks to be involved at all. In the case of bhikkhuni ordination, it is the bhikkhunis who play the important role in the ordination, with the monks merely placing their seal of approval on the event.

As I have argued in detail in my Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies, the earliest strata of texts in the Vinayas suggest that the bhikkhunis originally did their ordinations by themselves, and the idea of the two-fold ordination was a later imposition by the bhikkhus. When I was researching this point, I was originally just following a line of inquiry that was suggested to me by the texts, and only much later did the political implications become clear. Little did I imagine how quickly a graphic example of this power-play by the bhikkhus would show itself.

4. The Siladhara Sangha should invite (pavarana) the Bhikkhu Sangha at the end of the Rains Retreat, in accordance with the Vinaya.

This follows on from another of the garudhammas, which requires that the bhikkhunis ask for admonition (pavāraṇā) at the end of the annual rains retreat (vassa). A similar rule is also found in the bhikkhuni pācittiyas and the Bhikkhunikkhandhaka.

Of course, we must keep repeating, the sīladharā are not bhikkhunis, and the Vinaya does not apply to them. The monks are simply selecting rules ad hoc according to their own preference and imposing them, shorn of the protections the nuns would have had if the communities were operating according to Vinaya.

This rule, while found in the Vinaya, nevertheless contradicts a basic principle of Buddhism as expressed in the Code of Discipline: ‘For this is how there comes to be growth in the Buddha’s following, that is, with mutual admonition and mutual rehabilitation.’

As it stands, it is clearly sexist, and should be rejected or reformed. Why, since the texts offer us both cases, is the principle of mutual admonition rejected and that of discriminatory admonition enforced?

It seems that in practice this rule was implemented in a symbolic form, as the bhikkhunis would appoint a representative to take their invitation to the bhikkhu Sangha as a whole. And as I have shown elsewhere, there are many examples in Buddhist texts of nuns admonishing monks, and this is never criticized but is regarded as a normal part of Sangha life.

There is no rule that forbids the monks from inviting the nuns to admonish them right back, and this is exactly what we have done for several years at Santi FM. The world has not caved in, and our heads have not split in seven pieces. Instead, we have exactly the outcome that the Buddha wanted when he urged the Sangha to open themselves to admonishment from each other: a warm, understanding, and harmonious community.

We have received a textual tradition which, while magnificent in so many ways, has undoubted flaws from a modern perspective. The very least we can ethically do is to work with these texts so as to ameliorate and balance the few inequities they contain, not to reinforce and exaggerate them. While the community who supports bhikkhuni ordination has tackled this issue head on, and has produced volumes of outstanding research that substantially improves our understanding of Vinaya, the opponents to bhikkhuni ordination have produced nothing of substance. Instead, they have invented their own rules that go well beyond the mild forms of discrimination found in the ancient texts.

The background to this rule was that one of the senior English Ajahns invited admonition from the nuns, and for that he was criticized by other monks. In addition, one of the senior nuns refused to invite the monks for admonition one year. In this she was following a precedent in the Vinaya, which allows that the nuns do not have to accept teachings from a monk who is not ‘dear and pleasing to the nuns’. It is not clear to me whether this option is open to the siladharas under the new ‘Five Points’.

5. The siladhara training is considered to be a vehicle respected in our tradition as suitable for the realization of liberation. It is complete as it stands, and is not an evolution towards a different form such as bhikkhuni ordination.

This one has to be my personal favourite. When Ajahn Brahm announced that his community would perform bhikkhuni ordination, there was one consistent, universal response from the Ajahns: you should have consulted us first. Many of them expressed dismay that they thought bhikkhunis were to be discussed at the upcoming WAM in December, and that the Sangha was indeed moving towards acceptance of bhikkhunis.

Meanwhile, the English Council of Elders had imposed this rule on their reluctant nuns, without informing anyone, not even the monks in their own monasteries. While pretending to go ahead with dialogue, they were actually clamping down on any possibility of bhikkhuni ordination.

To be sure, most of the Ajahns who said that they thought dialogue on bhikkhunis was progressing cannot be blamed for this: they were just as much in the dark as the rest of us.

In secret, with no consultation and no reference to the Vinaya, the Council of Elders led by Ajahn Sumedho have decreed against bhikkhuni ordination. No wonder there was such a hysterical outcry when Ajahn Brahm said he was going ahead, and dared to say he was relying on the Vinaya.

There is no need to analyse in detail how this rule has no basis in the Vinaya, because it is purely intended to deny the possibility of an actual Vinaya-based approach in favour of one invented by the English monks.

As an addendum to these Five Points, a few relevant issues are raised. It is made clear that the absolute power that the bhikkhus hold in decision making will only apply in dual communities. If the nuns live separately from the monks (which does not happen at the moment) they will make their own decisions, just as in the present day they make their decisions how to run their own internal affairs. However in matters that affect the whole community, while there should be reasonable consultation, the Siladhara Sangha will defer to the Bhikkhu Sangha.

In addition, Ajahn Sumedho has proposed that in dual communities the bhikkhus appoint a representative other than the abbot to liaise with the nuns. The monk should be liked and respected by the nuns, and his appointment should have their approval. While having a liaison is a good idea, there is no reason why it should be a monk alone. Given that the power structure so obviously discriminates against the nuns, they should be able to appoint their own representative on an equal footing to the monk liaison.

In the past there has been some debate on the margins as to whether the attitude of the Western Ajahns of the WPP Sangha should be regarded as sexist, or whether it is an accommodation to the expectations of the Thai community. That debate is now over. These five rules are abundantly sexist, and have not been imposed for any cultural reason, but purely to keep the nuns under control and stop them from taking bhikkhuni ordination.

Because that would be a very dangerous thing.

38 thoughts on “The Five Points

  1. Looks like Ajahn Brahm has just been given the freedom to do what he wants. Perhaps now we can have an Australian Theravada Buddhism. Time to cut the ties (or Thai’s) and become our own form of Theravada. Long over due.

  2. The plot thickens….now it is becoming clearer why there was so much opposition to Bhikkhuni ordination. I thought this sort of things only happen in behind closed doors in corporate boardrooms and not among the community of sangha who are supposed to be open and free for scrutiny. Just goes to show how wrong one can be!! A bit more wiser, I guess!

    Thanks for sharing this information.

  3. This is so outlandish it doesn’t seem possible! What is there to gain from these five rules? Already the poor nuns have no legitimacy, no power, no voice. I think it’s gone beyond sexism. I think we can now call it misogyny.

    Thank you for keeping us posted.

  4. when we are ready …. we move to the conditionless….
    immediate ordination – less or no rules – or even no
    need to ordain – think about it – when the time is right….

  5. … the five points, I mean.

    Hmm. Cricket … Poms vs Aussies … Perhaps we need a receptacle to hold the Ashes of Black Sunday.

    >j<

    • yes, i shall hence forth support the australian team !

      However more seriously – it is as bad as you read – – and I’m really glad it’s out in the open – painful as it may be.

      And we thank you for that Ajahn Sujato – and for the clear voice & eithical – compassionate leadership you give to the discusison.

  6. Bhante Sujato,

    thank you for being so tireless in keeping us informed of these saddening events. If these five points are in fact real, then it just condemns the authors and supporters to (eventual) irrelevance and obscurity. Which century are we living in, for goodness sake?
    Keep it real. Keep up the fight for women to be given equal access to Dhamma Vinaya.

    Mettaya,

    Mike (x-Mudita Bhikkhu)

    • Dear Thanissara,
      Dear Thanissara,

      Pls. do not just take word for word or just take one sentence from the Vinaya.

      Learn more – go to http://www.dhammalight.com
      Pls. do not be misled or deviated from the original Vinaya.
      Pls. go to http://www.dhammalight.com for more light shed on this issue.
      (all the Vinayas and explanation on this issue are highlighted).

      May Dhammalight dispels our darkness.

  7. The more I read the more hipocrisy I see. I thank the Buddha for the Kalama Sutta it reinforces my decsion to not belong to any Buddhist Group or society, (it may be just me) but the lies, deceit & secrecy in some Sanghas does not seem to me to be the Buddhist way.!!!!!!!
    Eric Williams “A former member of BSWA”

  8. The 5 Points are self-serving. Serving who? Not the lay who needs spiritual guidance. Serving the Sangha? Which Sangha? The answers are all there in the 5 Points.
    A sad day for those who are travelling towards Enlightenment. These ‘trained’ people had stopped at the station Ego (male). Have the bhikkus ever thought if they were to be reborn bhikkhunis or become women?

  9. Thank you with all my heart for this Tan Ajahn.

    As a Thai woman who has been living at ABM, I will come out and say that I back the Australlian side all the way.

    Too many times, I have supported the ABM sangha and thought I understood LP Sumedho’s teaching of submitting into the form but this time, I can no longer do that.

    Just a thought, the present Dhammayuttha Elders council in Thailand did not exist until King Rama iv invented them. Now this means they are not strictly from the Buddha lineage. Does that means what they say is not right or true. And should we quote them as if they are the Buddha himself!

    Strictness to rites and rituals come to mind!

    Why does this change has to be so painful!!!

    • Now that you mention, it had occurred to me too…

      Actually, there are close parallels between this situation and the Second Council, which i may write more about some time…

  10. I really appreciate the clarification around the points of vinaya. When I was living at Amaravati as an anagarikaa it was implied that all the undemocratic procedures (decisions regarding the community made in closed meetings, no information disclosed, no discussion invited, I’m horrified to think of it now!) were “part of the vinaya”. And that if other monasteries adopted more democratic procedures it was because they were not so strickt with the vinaya and were abandoning tradition. So I find it encouraging that the problem is not with Therevada Buddhism and the vinaya. So thank you, Bhante.

    I actually did know that the Elder’s Council was an invention of the English sangha, it was just presented as a move towards democrasy!

  11. To all the Buddhists & pretend Buddhists out there, instead of all this political CRAP I’m sure if the Buddha, Jesus & the Prophtet Muhammad could use the internet they would ask you to spare a thought for the 40 or so children that have died of starvation in the time its taken to write this. not religious rubbish but realy realy important stuff

    • Good point Eric. In the end this is just politics and there are other important issues out there. Thanks

      Bankei

  12. Sorry Eric but if one dies, it’s not ‘the end of the world’ so to speak. You get reborn again. It’s better if there are Dhamma teachings available to finally end samsara and Buddhism will die if there is no bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sangha. So this issue is more important then band-aid solutions around the world. Keeping the Dhamma alive and offering the support for a renunciate life is more important then life, death and starvation. You cannot fix all the worlds problems (crime, starvation etc) because people have defilements. There will always be greed, selfishness and anger around in samsara. Existence is Dukkha. Point is to follow the eightfold path and get ouf of samsara. Mara tempted the Buddha (or was it before he became Buddha?) that he has power to save the world! And Buddha said no, it’s better I get enlightened and nibbana for the happiness and welfare of the world. You fix one problem and there will be others: no end. Keeping the Dhamma alive is more important. People practicing Dhamma is more important since this solves the problem of life and death once and for all rather then putting it off a bit. Don’t just reply now. let it sink a bit. Ajahn Brahm talks a lot about this point so I suggest listening to his Dhamma talks. He is very skillful at teaching Dhamma.

    • A Zen master once said that reciting suttas to alleviate suffering is like reciting recipes to alleviate hunger.

      Bankei

      ps i forget who the Zen master was.

  13. Dear Dania Percy,I never think whats important to me is of any importance to others. Nirvana or Heaven maybe the final object of attainment,but at the moment a practical & realistic aim, maybe just simple compassion, being less selfish with our thoughts (this is just my opinion)I think this will help us on our path no matter what religion we follow. “OF COURSE I COULD BE WRONG” I have been wrong before & I’m sure I’ll be wrong again. much metta “HAVE A LOVELY DAY”

    • Eric and Bankei, I can see your point about not wasting our time on less important matters or trivialities. And without a doubt, issues such as dying children, poverty and starvation (as you mentioned) are of utmost importance. But you cannot say that this issue is just a whole lot of crap because if we were to list all of the important matters in the world, it would just go on forever; animal abuse, sex abuse, child prostitution, environmental destructions, climate change, wars, hunger, etc. It may be true to you that the issue of children dying from starvation is more important and you reserve every right ti believe so. In fact I applaud you for your unquestionable compassion for those children. However, you are not in the position to state that what is considered to be more important to you must therefore have the same level of importance to others. I’m quite actively involved in elephant conservation, which is my passion, and my aim is to be able to positively contribute in any way I can to better the life of captive elephants that suffer abuse in captivity. Of course those who are not familiar with what’s happening behind the scene to these poor animals would not perceive this issue as of great importance. But if only they knew about the shocking amount of abuse inflicted on captive elephants, they would be appaled and feel urged to do something about it. The same thing applies to all the other crucial global issues such as climate change, world hunger, etc. Each problem deserves special attention from certain people who are passionate about making a change and putting an end to all these sufferings. And it goes without saying that gender equality should also have its place. It requires a high level of commitment, dedication and sacrifice for somebody to take action for the purpose of helping those women who have been largely disadvantaged. It’s time for the outcry to be heard. Discrimination against women and the culture of male chauvinism have evidently created a loop hole in a patriarchal society, which has inevitably enabled sex trade and child prostitution to escalate beyond control in a country like Thailand. Are you comfortable to say that this does not deserve attention ? Surely hunger and starvation are important issues, but as I said, each hurdle has their own urgency that needs addressing, and solution can only be found if action is taken. Are we able to solve and tackle all these endless problems in life? We wish we could but the reality proves otherwise. Some of us, like myself, must prioritise elephant welfare because they need urgent help and others MUST give their priority to other equally important matters. Do you see what I mean ? And lastly Eric, your comment “Of course I could be wrong” and “have a lovely day” written in bold letters is clearly and purposely sarcastic and rather patronising. I would like to invite you to reflect and think deeply in your heart. I believe this issue will also resonate in you if you put yourself in the women’s shoes. Metta,
      Sin Sin

  14. Eric and Bankei, I can see your point about not wasting our time on less important matters or trivialities. And without a doubt, issues such as dying children, poverty and starvation (as you mentioned) are of utmost importance. But you cannot say that this issue is just a whole lot of crap because if we were to list all of the important matters in the world, it would just go on forever; animal abuse, sex abuse, child prostitution, environmental destructions, climate change, wars, hunger, etc. It may be true to you that the issue of children dying from starvation is more important and you reserve every right ti believe so. In fact I applaud you for your unquestionable compassion for those children. However, you are not in the position to state that what is considered to be more important to you must therefore have the same level of importance to others. I’m quite actively involved in elephant conservation, which is my passion, and my aim is to be able to positively contribute in any way I can to better the life of captive elephants that suffer abuse in captivity. Of course those who are not familiar with what’s happening behind the scene to these poor animals would not perceive this issue as of great importance. But if only they knew about the shocking amount of abuse inflicted on captive elephants, they would be appaled and feel urged to do something about it. The same thing applies to all the other crucial global issues such as climate change, world hunger, etc. Each problem deserves special attention from certain people who are passionate about making a change and putting an end to all these sufferings. And it goes without saying that gender equality should also have its place. It requires a high level of commitment, dedication and sacrifice for somebody to take action for the purpose of helping those women who have been largely disadvantaged. It’s time for the outcry to be heard. Discrimination against women and the culture of male chauvinism have evidently created a loop hole in a patriarchal society, which has inevitably enabled sex trade and child prostitution to escalate beyond control in a country like Thailand. Are you comfortable to say that this does not deserve attention ? Surely hunger and starvation are important issues, but as I said, each hurdle has their own urgency that needs addressing, and solution can only be found if action is taken. Are we able to solve and tackle all these endless problems in life? We wish we could but the reality proves otherwise. Some of us, like myself, must prioritise elephant welfare because they need urgent help and others MUST give their priority to other equally important matters. Do you see what I mean ? And lastly Eric, your comment “Of course I could be wrong” and “have a lovely day” written in bold letters is clearly and purposely sarcastic and rather patronising. I would like to invite you to reflect and think deeply in your heart. I believe this issue will also resonate in you if you put yourself in the women’s shoes. Metta,
    Sin Sin

  15. Thankyou , Thankyou, Thankyou Bhante Sujato for your deep compassion, dedication and courage.May the deeper peace and even- mindedness that underlies your freedom-voice and support here, flourich ever more and may you attain your every goal and aspiration.
    May we all realise enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

  16. Sin Sin, You say I can’t say this issue is crap. Fourtunately for us any-one in this country can say what we want, just as any-one can criticize any thing or any one they dont agree with.

    • Dear Eric Williams,

      There are many issues in the world. And each one needs someone to take action in order to improve the situation. I may care deeply about nature, you may care about hunger, others may be passionate about the dhamma and the practicing condition for women. It is a wonderful thing that someone cares enough about an issue to address it . I am glad that there are active people in each and every area. No area should be neglected.

      By the way, it is posible to donate money to save the children and add your signature to a petition to remove unnecessary obstructions from women’s spiritual path as well. If you can open your heart to children, why not to women. But if you don’t have time to add a signature, it’s okay.

    • Hi Eric, of course you’re right in this. You have every right to express whatever you think and I’m not in the position to judge what you believe. If I came across as condemning you for what you said, I sincerely apologise. I was simply expressing my views and disagreement with your statements. I must admit I was rather annoyed by your comments but I also realised I probably took them a bit personally and I shouldn’t have. For that, my apologies. Hope you understand. With Metta, Sin Sin🙂

  17. Dear Sin Sin, I did not say just a whole lot of crap,I said political crap. What I think of as politcal crap (is just my opinion) & just to put the record straight you say because I wrote have a lovely day in bold letters I’m sarcastic & patronising. I usually sign of with HAVE A NICE,GREAT OR LOVELY DAY.on most all of my correspondence, The reason I put it in capital letters is because I mean it.
    And lastly I do understand

  18. How sad all this is.

    I’m not a follower of Ven. Ajahn Brahm, I have attended a number of his talks and read a few of his books and his style or approach doesn’t resonate with me and leaves me uncomfortable.

    A few years ago I attended an evening meditation and Dhamma Talk with a British Monk from the Burmese tradition in a small Innercity-Manchester, Sri Lankan Monastery. The talk was interesting, the meditation was fruitful but perhaps one of the most interesting comments I heard that night was from an older Sri Lankan lady in the kitchen while we were washing dishes. She opened the conversation by saying “do you know why we like monks like him?” I said I didn’t and she said something along the lines of “because they’ve lived a little, they’ve been drunk and had girlfriends and heartbreak. Our Sri Lankan monks join the monastery as children, they don’t know the world. They don’t know how we live. The Western Monks make so much more sense”. I always thought it was fine for her to say that, but it would seem wrong for me to say it.

    From Bhante Sumedho’s and “The Council of Elders'” behaviour it seems the lady in the kitchen was oversimplifying things somewhat. It’s not an Eastern/Western split, at all. Maybe like other philosophies/ideologies/religions Theravadin Forest Buddhism needs to break free from the choking and suffocating of out-of-touch old men, reading Bronze Age texts and shoe horning reality in to a religion shaped hole and renew its interest in the letting go and putting down, the clarifying and contemplating, the kindness, wisdom and compassion that lay at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching.

    Lets let the Thai

    • I started to write “Let’s let the Thai…” then got distracted. It’s 2010. Let’s let the Sheiks and the Mullahs, the Grand Ayatollahs, the Popes and the Bishops, the Lamas and the … on and on… make their fatwas and release their judgements, their megaphone admonishments and their grand encyclicals or whatever they’re called and meanwhile I’ll be sitting or walking, striving to be mindful, to put down, to let go… let them make themselves irrelevant.

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