Ajahn Thanissaro’s letter on bhikkhunis

Thanks to those who posted the link to the collected set of essays responding to Ajahn Thanissaro’s letter, which attempted to find a Vinaya basis for refuting the recent bhikkhuni ordination. The responses are all good, and I agree with them completely.

One of the lovely things that emerges from this conflict has been the realization that there are many good people who understand the value of the Dhamma and Vinaya, and who have such a determined, intelligent, compassionate approach to implementing that in our complex times. It is particularly nice to see the bhikkhunis themselves stepping up and having their say. It is, after all, their lives.

I would like to just add a couple of small remarks here, which essentially make the same point from a slightly different angle. Some time ago I made a post on the Quarrel at Kosambi, where the Buddha gives ’18 points’ which should be used to evaluate the competing claims by parties at a disputation. Since this is explicitly the guide that Buddha says we should use in such cases, let’s have a quick look at Ajahn Thanissaro’s argument in the light of the 18 points. For easy reference, here are the 18 points again:

A teacher of non-Dhamma is one who:

teaches non-Dhamma as Dhamma and vice versa;
teaches non-Vinaya as Vinaya and vice versa;
teaches what was not spoken by the Buddha as being spoken by the Buddha, and vice versa;
teaches what was not practiced by the Buddha as being practiced by the Buddha, and vice versa;
teaches what was not laid down as a Vinaya rule by the Buddha as if it were laid down by the Buddha, and vice versa;
teaches what is no offence as an offence, and vice versa;
teaches a slight offence as a serious offence, and vice versa;
teaches a resolvable offence as unresolvable, and vice versa;
teaches a corrupt offence as not corrupt, and vice versa.

A teacher of Dhamma teaches the opposite of all these.

Let’s take these in groups.

[One] teaches non-Dhamma as Dhamma and vice versa;
teaches non-Vinaya as Vinaya and vice versa;

In this case, the Vinaya is clear enough: ordaining more than one bhikkhuni every two years is an offence requiring confession. This is the understanding that the ordination proceeded under, and all those who took part agreed that this minor rule, laid down in the context of an accommodation crisis, should not obstruct the establishment of the bhikkhuni Sangha. This is Dhamma and Vinaya in a very simple and straightforward sense. Ajahn Thanissaro’s argument, on the other hand, is based on principles that are not found anywhere in the Vinaya, but are the result of a complicated and, in my opinion, implausible chain of reasoning.

Ajahn Thanissaro argues that since the ordination resulted in the infraction of a minor rule, it is ‘not Vinaya’. But Vinaya is not a system of absolute black and whites, with immediate invalidation of anything that transgresses a minor rule. On the contrary, Vinaya, as laid down in the texts, is a highly flexible instrument, which clearly tries to be as reasonable and contextual as possible. If one acknowledges a minor fault and confesses it, that is Vinaya.

[One] teaches what was not spoken by the Buddha as being spoken by the Buddha, and vice versa;
teaches what was not practiced by the Buddha as being practiced by the Buddha, and vice versa;
teaches what was not laid down as a Vinaya rule by the Buddha as if it were laid down by the Buddha, and vice versa;

In this case the actions of the ordaining Sangha were based directly on the Pali text as it has come down. In this case, it is probably as close to the Buddha’s words as we are likely to find. Ajahn Thanissaro’s reasoning, on the other hand, is based on commentaries and the late Parivara, which are certainly not the Buddha’s words.

He also relies on a reading of a particular passage in the Mahavagga, which says that if a sanghakamma is done ‘apart from Dhamma, Vinaya, and the Buddha’s teaching’, it is ‘not a kamma’ and ‘should not be done’. Ajahn Thanissaro argues that since the ordination procedure itself involved the infraction of a Vinaya rule, it is ‘apart from Vinaya’ and hence is ‘not a kamma’.

The relevant passage (for which he gives the mistaken reference M 10.3.2 – it should be M 9.3.2) occurs in the Campeyyakkhandhaka. It is part of a highly legalistic series of permutations of applications of how to determine the validity of an act. The style is very Abhidhammic, and there is only the most casual of attempts to attribute the passage to the Buddha himself. No-one reading this could imagine it was literally spoken by the same Buddha who invited the Sangha to relinquish the ‘lesser and minor rules’. The permutation series is established on the entirely conventional assumption that the ‘group of six monks’ (a Vinaya trope for ‘the bad boys’) had performed a series of invalid sanghakammas. As usual, they were not content to do just one or two, but systematically worked through every kind of flawed procedure, being criticized at each turn. The context, and other appearances of the group of six, makes it very clear that these were monks without conscience or scruple, who disregarded every principle of the Dhamma in their pursuit of their own selfish interests. When the texts say they performed acts ‘apart from Vinaya, apart from Dhamma, apart from the Buddha’s teaching’, that is exactly what it means: they were outlaws, operating with no regard for the Buddha, Dhamma, or Sangha. This passage has nothing to do with the careful and scrupulous manner in which the Perth bhikkhuni ordinations were performed.

[One] teaches what is no offence as an offence, and vice versa;
teaches a slight offence as a serious offence, and vice versa;
teaches a resolvable offence as unresolvable, and vice versa;
teaches a corrupt offence as not corrupt, and vice versa.

The most important point to notice here is proportionality: while Vinaya inevitably involves a degree of formality and conventions, this is clearly recognized as such. The Vinaya is well aware of the difference between minor infractions of procedure, and things that will destroy the holy life. In this case, there is no question that the pācittiya offence is a minor one. The Pali Vinaya itself calls pācittiyas ‘minor’ (khuddaka). Yet this is now used, not merely to invalidate the ordination of the Dhammasara bhikkhunis – an act that has already caused harm and stress. It would invalidate the majority, if not all, of the bhikkhuni ordinations that have been performed in Sri Lanka, and perhaps the world. At a stroke, based on an obscure chain of reasoning derived from a minor rule, the female Sangha is wiped out. This is so disproportional that it beggars the imagination.

If i may be permitted to bring in a comparison with secular law, imagine a case where someone had just received Australian citizenship. For its own inscrutable reasons, the Government decides it doesn’t want this person to be a citizen, so it hires a hotshot lawyer to make the case. The lawyer investigates, and the only thing he can come up with is this. The citizenship procedure requires that the candidate sings the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. Yet, out of compassion, the custom had become for them to sing just three verses, not the whole thing. The lawyer argues that, while the law does not actually stipulate that the whole song must be sung, that much is implied in simply stating that it should be sung. The citizenship procedure itself states that the new citizen is to uphold the laws of Australia, yet she is breaking the law in the very act of taking the oath! While this might seem like a legalistic maneuver, our lawyer goes on, in fact the Australian nation is based on the rule of law, and compliance with this rule of law is demonstrated in respect for even minor procedures. There are certain other cases, he goes on, where a citizenship ceremony is indeed invalid if improper procedure is followed – for example, if a person does not state their name in the citizenship ceremony. If such cases are disallowed, then surely any other infraction should be disallowed. In adhering to the strict interpretation of the law here, we are acting out of compassion for the citizens of Australia, in making sure that only law abiding people become Australians. As a result of this finding, this person must be expelled from Australia; and, incidentally, thousands of others will also be expelled. They will become Stateless, their families broken, their careers destroyed. But the integrity of the nation of Australia will be preserved.

Is this an accurate comparison? You can let me know what you think.

In any case, as so many have put it so much better than I can, our mission and our goal here is to develop the good qualities of the heart, to embody the Dhamma of love and forgiveness. The essential problem here is not Vinaya legalities, but the injustice of excluding women from full participation in the holy life. Until we acknowledge this central fact, any legal argument will miss the point. The Vinaya is intended to support and encourage human beings to find liberation from suffering. The Vinaya rule that Ajahn Thanissaro quotes was intended to curb the bad behavior of unscrupulous monks, not to stop human beings from practicing Dhamma because they have different reproductive organs.

May the Sangha lift its head and open its heart! May the Sangha find room for all good people who seek liberation!


36 thoughts on “Ajahn Thanissaro’s letter on bhikkhunis

  1. Your summation ‘The Vinaya rule that Ajahn Thanissaro quotes was intended to curb the bad behavior of unscrupulous monks, not to stop human beings from practicing Dhamma because they have different reproductive organs’ is a true gem. This really puts things in the right perspective.

    Hopefully, people will not miss this line and contemplate it carefully and I am sure it will clear the confusion.

  2. I like what Bhikkhu Bodhi said:

    Bhikkhu Bodhi :Near the end of his letter, Ven. Thanissaro writes: “This is why the forms are so important for mutual respect, harmony, and trust—all qualities of the heart—in the Community at large.”

    When I read this sentence, I could not help but ask myself: “Is strict adherence to legalistic protocol the most effective way to nurture the ‘qualities of the heart’? Wouldn’t the ‘qualities of the heart’ be much more effectively nurtured by giving primacy to those virtues such as loving-kindness, compassion, and generosity of spirit that enable us to transcend self-concern and offer the most bountiful help to others who, like ourselves, aspire to reach the fruits of liberation?”

    As I see it, while we should do our best to respectfully maintain the forms of the tradition, we should not let a narrow formalism become the basis for denying to humanity’s “other half” the opportunity to lead the holy life in the way the Buddha¬¬ himself intended women to live it, that is, as fully ordained bhikkhunis.

  3. Dear Bhante,

    Isn’t it true that newly ordained Thai monks can be made to disrobe if they are selected to join the Thai army?

    In that case, if we follow aj thanissaro’s reasoning, the ordination of most Thai monks is invalid too! Since at the ordination, they did not provide a truthful answer when they were asked (during the ordination ceremony) if they had any duties to the king. So they lied during ordination ceremony, or else it is invalid anyway because of fault of procedure, and those ordinations are thus, according to aj thanissaro, invalid. In fact those monks-to-be did have duties to the king to become a soldier later on, since being a monk didn’t set them free from military service.

    Another issue is about the Siam-Nikaya of Sri Lanka. Are those Thai-lineage monks still subject to Thai Sangha Law? Will they be prosectuted if they come back to Thailand? Or are they free to do as they please? In that case the western monks…

    Also… Lastly… Some WPP monasteries in Thailand don’t use the name of the ordainee during the ordination, but refer to him (and sometimes the preceptor too) as ‘naga’. Does that mean the ordinations are invalid?

    Interesting blog… Bye

    • Dear Thnws,

      I think the first case you mention would only apply if they had actually been conscripted to the army already.

      Re the Thai-lineage monks in Sri Lanka: well, I guess this is all a bit far in the past. but it does raise a question – how long does the adherence to the Thai system endure? There are many monks ordained by Ajahn Brahm, or other teachers in the WPP tradition, who have never been to Thailand, and have no interest or affinity. They know nothing of the Mahatherasamakhom and its rules. Are they, too, subject to its rulings? What about when they start giving ordinations…. The whole thing, is, to be quite honest, too silly for words. Everyone knows that the Mahatherasamakhom is essentially irrelevant and does nothing to support Thai Buddhism. They are being invoked purely as a convenient excuse to prevent bhikkhuni ordination.

      As to the final point: I have not heard of that practice in Thailand, although I understand it is common in Sri Lanka. For those who are a bit mystified here, in the ordination procedure one is supposed to mention the names of both the candidate and the preceptor. Some traditions – I believe the Ramanya in Sri lanka – instead of using the actual names, just adopt the convention that all the candidates are called ‘Naga’ and all the preceptors are called ‘Tissa’. Perhaps this is just to make learning the chanting easier! One could make a substantial case that it is an invalid procedure, as the candidate’s name, quite obviously, is not ‘Naga’. On the other hand, it falls short of a lie, since a lie has to have the intention to create a false belief in the listener, and in this sort of case everyone knows that ‘Naga’ is just a convention, not the real name. But you are quite right, it shows how the tradition can come to a flexible interpretation of certain things, while still insisting on absolute rigidity in others.

  4. With anjali, to Bikkhus & Bikkhunis & lay buddhists,

    It is observed that, the true essence of our Buddha’s Dhamma or the true nature of Dhamma (since Buddha did not invent the Dhamma but ‘discovered’ the Dhamma through his Enlightenment & disclosed to us), has be contaminated with different versions of interpretations of the Dhamma from different understanding of the Dhamma by different Dhamma teachers, resulting in conflict.

    Similarly with the method of meditation, there are all kinds of teacher’s meditation methods in the name of Buddha’s method of meditation to suit the various levels of people.

    Over time, the true Dhamma has been inadvertently modified,misconstrued and “tampered” with our own understanding and being taught to make the general people understand it.

    Dhamma is profound and the way to understand it is not easy and Buddha recommended to us to follow & practice the 8 fold Noble Path for right view. In my belief, if one does not follow & practice the 8-fold Noble Path(in that order, 1st Sila 2nd Samadhi 3rd Panna), one would not be able to understand and have right view of the profound Dhamma (not in simple English language, the meaning in Pali is different from the meaning in English and some English words to explain the Pali are limited and inadequate to penetrate the meaning of the Dhamma).

    No wonder, our Lord Buddha refused to teach the Dhamma at first, as He knew not many would understand, but He did out of compassion and request by one of the Higher gods (Deva).Scholars interpret it this way and practitioners interpret if that way. How to reconcile?

    We hope the Theravada tradition Sangha(the immediate direct link to Buddha’s teachings in Pali) would preserve the true Dhamma in Pali for the future of Buddhism. Buddhism has now been “cosmopolitanized”. From my humble understanding of the Dhamma as a lay Buddhist, Buddha’s teaching is about moral values, spiritual values, mental wholesomeness,mutual respect, harmony with others & nature, non violence, rules of discipline, compassion, wisdom, understanding of the true nature of existence and spiritual science etc etc.

    May all be have patience, tolerance & humility taught by the Buddha.

  5. To invalidate all the female aspirants holy life for a minor mistake at the ceremony can be an example of teaching ” a slight offence as a serious offence, and vice versa; teaches a resolvable offence as unresolvable, and vice versa;”

    • Agreed.

      I found the response by Ajahn Brahmali quite interesting, too, though, because to me it highlights why the event wasn’t highly publicised prior to the 22nd October:

      “The sort of factors that are required to make an ordination valid include the following:
      • The candidate to be ordained is present;
      • The candidate is 20 years old or more;
      • The candidate is not one of several types of ‘unqualified’ persons, or an animal;
      • The quorum for performing the ordination is complete;
      • The Sangha is united (samagga); that is, all the monks within the sima are present at the ordination, or they have given their consent;
      • The ordination statement contains exactly one motion (ñatti) and three announcements (kammavaca), in that order;
      • Nobody present speaks out against the ordination;
      • The procedure performed is an ordination, not some other sa?ghakamma.
      It is only if such requirements – that is, requirements that are specifically mentioned in the Vinaya – are not met that the ordination fails, and only in these cases is the ordination “not a transaction and should not be carried out”.


      Following this line of argument, the relative “secrecy” surrounding the ordination event does reek a bit of conscious attempt ensure that “nobody present speaking out against the ordination”.
      I am still debating with myself if I consider such an approach (which I would consider “wise” in a political setting) skillful in a monastic setting … 😉

    • Dear Ace,

      As far as i know, this criteria was not one of the considerations for the way the ordination was done. I doubt whether such an event would ever happen. The reasons were, that the nuns wanted the ordination done quietly, and that we knew that there would be attempts to leverage and force the Sangha to not go ahead. This does not include the legitimate case of a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni who objects to the ordination on the basis of Dhamma-Vinaya, but the various kinds of punitive action that have been carried out: expelling Ajahn Brahm, secretly contacting Buddhist societies to turn them against Ajahn Brahm, refusing to allow bhikkhus and bhikkhunis to stay or visit monasteries, excluding participating bhikkhus from activities involving WPP monks, spreading false rumors and so on. A recent rumor it that 3-400 members of the BSWA had asked for Ajahn Brahm’s resignation! Completely ludicrous, but this is what it sinks to.

    • Thank you for your clarification, Bhante.
      This doesn’t sound like a scholastic dispute over the justification or lack thereof for bhikkhuni ordination but a personal campaign against Ajahn Brahm.
      I wonder how any of this can be rationalized by the instigators as anything even remotely in accordance with the Noble 8fold Path 😦

      wishing you & Ajahn Brahm the strength and patience to overcome these tribulations.

      with metta,

  6. Having just browsed thru the collection of essays in response to Ajahn Thanissaro’s it is evident that this debate is about sexual politic’s clothed in ‘spirituality’. Which is good, as the over riding principle’s of spirituality should provide a response that comes from a place of compassion and selflessness.

    Not about power. Power is not an absoulte defense against ‘bad behaviour’. ‘Abusive’ practices are not facts of nature they can be challenged and they can be redressed.


    ‘We find, on investigation, that the Buddha followed a principle of working hard to ensure women receive the best conditions for success in the holy life, from ease of ordination, to high quality mentoring, to staying focused. (But what about his oft-mentioned hesitation to ordain women in the first place? He hesitated only until the right reason was presented: not for the sake of his personal relation with his aunt/foster mother, but for the sake of womens’ enlightenment.) The Buddha readily changed ordination procedures whenever obstacles for women arose: When shy female candidates were unable to answer questions posed by bhikkhus prior to ordination, the Buddha compassionately intervened by instituting procedures for bhikkhunis to do the questioning, giving rise to the practice of dual ordination (Cv.X.17.1.2). When a former courtesan tried to fully ordain, but depraved men wanting to abduct her obstructed her from going to meet with the Bhikkhu Sangha, the Buddha made a dramatic change to Community transaction principles to accommodate her need, allowing female candidates to be ordained without actually presenting themselves to the Bhikkhu Sangha for the dual ordination, in times of danger (Cv.X.22). Such flexible effort to make bhikkhuni ordinations more accessible, when needed, is the original principle demonstrated by the Buddha.

    The Buddha’s hard work for bhikkhunis did not stop there. He set down numerous rules to protect bhikkhunis from all kinds of dangers (the travel rule, no talking alone with men, etc.), from distractions (no picture galleries, etc.), and from being taken advantage of by bhikkhus (no carding wool, etc.) or householders (no doing household work for them). According to Ven. Thanissaro’s letter, as mentioned previously, the Buddha limited the number of students bhikkhuni preceptors could ordain in order to make sure the new bhikkhunis received good mentoring. He forced bhikkhus to help the bhikkhunis in various ways, even requiring reluctant elder bhikkhus enjoying forest seclusion to meet with the Bhikkhuni Sangha to give them needed Dhamma talks (ovaada) (Cv.X.9.5).

    Contrary to the usual requirement to stay put during Vassa, the Buddha encouraged bhikkhus to leave their Vassa residence to assist other members of Sangha –including the women. He stated specifically that a bhikkhu should go to help a bhikkhuni or female novice if, for examples, she is ill, she suffers from dissatisfaction with the holy life, she suffers remorse, or she has gotten into trouble and needs rehabilitation or an advocate; in such cases, the Buddha said, with the thought of being of help, “you should go, monks, even if not sent for, all the more if sent for”. If a bhikkhuni candidate wishes to be ordained during Vassa, the Buddha said, and she sends a messenger to monks saying that she wishes them to come, then “you should go, monks, even if not sent for, all the more if sent for,” with the intention of participating in the ordination. (The same is true if a novice nun wishes to start the training towards ordination.) (Mv.III.6.12-29).

    Listen to how the Buddha described bhikkhunis: “[A] bhikkhuni is auspicious, a bhikkhuni is the essential, a bhikkhuni is a learner, a bhikkhuni is an adept, a bhikkhuni is ordained by both complete Orders by means of a (formal) act at which the motion is put and followed by three proclamations, irreversible and fit to stand.” (Vin iv 213 (emphasis added).) There can be no doubt as to original principals regarding women entering and finding support in the holy life.’

    Extract from a letter by Ven Sudhamma Bhikkhuni, where she respectfully argues against Aj Thanissaro’s letter.


    The mass of evidence for this has been ignored for too long. We haven’t had this full picture presented to us before. The voices that tended to be the loudest in the past have been those who focused on the few places in the Pali Canon where it appeared that He did not support nuns. I only wish these voices had been questioned earlier.

  9. Here’s another quote from Bh Sudhamma (who, so I’ve read, used to be a lawyer); she quotes Aj Thanissaro:

    ‘Ven. Thanissaro once wrote,
    “[N]ow that Buddhism is coming to the West, I feel it is time to stop and take stock of the tradition and to check the later traditions against the earliest sources. This is especially important in a way of thought and life that, from the very beginning, has appealed to reason and investigation rather than blindly accepted authority. In doing this, I am simply following a pattern that has repeated itself through the history of the Theravadin tradition: that of returning to the original principles whenever the religion reaches an historic turning point.” (BMC I p. 16)
    The October 22, 2009 ordination of four women into the reluctant Ajahn Chah lineage and the explosion of reaction and debate that swiftly followed from around the world suggest that an historic turning point has been reached in Theravadin Buddhism. The continued resistance to womens’ ordination may be the one of the worst cases we have ever seen in Buddhism of abandoning “reason and investigation” to “blindly follow accepted authority” of dubious origins. Making recourse to the “earliest sources” to which (according to Ven. Thanissaro’s words) we should now turn, what do they show us, particularly when compared to current trends?’

  10. Respectful Bros & Sis in the Dhamma,

    With due respect to each opinion, i guess the best solution to solve this conflict between the two school of thoughts is to apply the Buddha’s teaching/wisdom,that is,


    There was a wise scholar (i think is Einstein) who said:

    “Science without religion is blind;
    Religion without science is lame”.

  11. Hi,

    Buddha’s teaching is a universal law i.e when the time is right and conditions are conducive, it would occur naturally. Take for example the 5 precepts have now become a law,land law of the whole world (not sure how many thousand of years for it to become a law accepted by all).

    5 precepts:
    1. Avoid killing – a criminal offence now
    2. Avoid stealing – a criminal offence now
    3. Avoid sexual misconduct – promiscuity (an offence/unacceptable in society)
    4. Avoid lying – an offence in court
    5. Avoid intoxicants – an offence in law
    eg alcohol & drugs

    If Bikkunis are meant to exist, it would naturally exist and universally accepted when the right time and right conditions are ripen.

    So, let it “grow” naturally & harmoniously.If it is not harmoniously & universally accepted by all yet, then it is not the right time and right conditions yet for it to ripen. Sorry, got to be patient.

    • G’day Universal,

      Just want to say that the 5 precepts are certainly not part of the law of the whole world. Most people in the country I am in think it perfectly normal to have some intoxicants.

      In my opinion, change is always going to be violent…sometimes its to a lesser degree, thats all… That’s just the first Noble Truth…Yes?

      Some of these changes are worth making. Like the Buddha teaching…some folks didn’t like it and tried to do all sorts of mean and nasty things to stop him.

      All the very best, from one 5 precept lover to another.

    • G’day Kanchana,

      I am quoting from Buddha’s 5 precepts (now also make sense)why alchohol is under the 5 precepts. What i meant offence is, if you drink and drive. It is ok if you drink a little but not to the point of intoxicated by it.But the trouble with us is, a little would lead to a lot over time and become intoxicated by it and the danger of breaking the other 4 precepts.Like Aj B said the ‘spirit’ in the bottle.

    • Bhikkunis are meant to exist, have existed and will exist in the future.

      The law of cause and effect does not mean we sit and do nothing.

  12. I accidentally posted this on the “another Siladhara speaks” thread; it is more appropriate here. Apologies for the double entry (and also if it’s already been posted on this blog – I’m starting to lose all the threads!).

    “Gender and the Pali Canon: A letter to Venerable Ayya Tathaloka from Venerable Bhikkhu Analayo”


  13. Message from Ajahn Amaro – Delivery of Petition and Rebuttal of A.Thanissaro – Help to deliver to WAM in Bangkok – read below:

    We have been in touch with Ajahn Amaro and have asked for his help regards delivering to the World Abbots Meeting the following:

    The petition
    Letters of Concern
    Points of concern expressed in this face book group and on Ajahn Sujato’s blog
    The rebuttal ot Ajahn Thanissaro’s legal challenge to the validity of the Bhikkhuni ordination.

    Ajahn Amaro has said:

    “I will be glad and honoured to carry all the documents, signatures etc. to the meeting”

    Ayya Tathaaloka is able to send the rebuttal to Ajahn Amaro before he leaves California and we have managed to send some of the letters.

    However we are unable to get the petition and the rest of the points and the letters ready until after Ajahn is in Bangkok.

    Ajahn Amaro has a very short ‘turn around’ time in Bangkok, however he has said that he is arriving on the evenig of the 6th December before leaving the next day for the meeting.
    (His flight is: QF 301 from Sydney, arriving at Suvannaphum airport at 9:15 pm)

    We need help to get the rest of the documents and the petition to Ajahn Amaro in Bangkok during this short turn around time.
    If you know of a trusted and respectful lay supporter who we can send the rest of the documents to – who can print them out and deliver them to Ajahn Amaro, please let us know by replying on this discussion board. Thanks.

    Ajahn signed off on his letter to us saying:

    “May we all use the energy of these current events to brighten the light of Dhamma in the world.”

    Thanks for your consideration and help in this matter

  14. I can’t help but feel that AC Thanissaro’s analysis is informed more by his Thammayutika hang-ups about purity of lineage. It smacks of an ex-post facto justification for the obsessive-compulsive ordination, disrobing and re-ordination that was practised multiple times by Prince Mongkut in his search for a valid line.

    Can’t have him issuing a analysis that makes the founder his order look manic now, can we?

    And what were the elders of WNPP thinking when they decided to invite a Thammayut monk to analyse the Vinaya? Have they completely forgotten the Hiri-Ottappa lesson bequeathed by AC Mun to AC Chah?

  15. Bhante:
    Thanks so much for the articles, this is a very interesting discussion.
    I understand that in Thailand it is traditional for young boys to enter the monastic order. I was suprised to hear the the Vinaya says that the entrant must be over 20 years old. Is there a special dispensation for these youngsters?

  16. sujato :Dear Ace,
    A recent rumor it that 3-400 members of the BSWA had asked for Ajahn Brahm’s resignation! Completely ludicrous, but this is what it sinks to.

    Yes, I went to Bodhinyana recently and someone told me about this rumour. I was absolutely astounded. It would seem that someone out there is deliberately spreading lies or alternatively a thoroughly unfortunate game of ‘Chinese whispers’ is being played out.

    I’ve been a member of the BSWA for a long long time. Everyone that I’ve spoken to is 100% behind Ajahn Brahm.

  17. If ‘those people’ succeed, the ones who will suffer will not be Ajahn Brahm at all. I believe Ajahn Brahm has let go of all these worldly things, but the ones who will suffer are US. We will be deprived of a good monk whose teachings have helped us during difficult times and enlightened us on how to live our life.

    I do hope that my good kamma will enable me to continue hearing good teachings from Ajahn Brahm.

    • A good monk is one who would teach from the Buddha’s teachings and the teachings are now accessible in Suttas & Vinaya, Tripitaka etc online (make sure it is the authentic ones and not the synthetic ones).I think it is safe to get the Suttas or Buddha’s teachings from the Monastic rules posted in dhammalight.com.or any theravada blogs.

      A true teacher would teach from the Suttas (Buddhas’ discourses) and teach Pali so that the original Dhamma would not be lost in the future.If there is no true teacher to teach us, according to the Buddha, the Vinaya is our teacher.
      So, it is utmost important to preserve and conserve the Buddha’s vinaya,suttas etc.

      We have to be weary nowadays as there are many fake dhamma and fake monks/nuns in this world. Buddhism has now been commercialized and it is hard to find a true Dhamma teacher and at the same time a true practitioner. If a teacher still have defilements and desires, how can they be our teacher?

      Our Buddha taught what He practised and practised what He taught – that is our true Teacher.Those teachers now who can teach from the Buddha’s Vinayas and Suttas are our true teachers, worthy of respect like our Buddha because they teach the pure words and dhamma spoken by the Buddha.

  18. The article ” Monastic lineages and the Vinaya: Which is Buddhist?” on the Buddhist Channel clarifies that:

    ” There are actually very few conditions in which an ordination carried out by a sangha can possibly not be valid defined in the Vinaya, there are many cases in which it can be done improperly and carry a minor offence for the monks participating, but it takes a lot in canonical Vinaya for it to actually be invalid.”

    and that ” there is no valid Vinaya reason to oppose the revival of the bhikkhuni (nuns) ordination.”


  19. It is not my intention to play devil’s advocate here, but Ajahn Thanissaro has a fine and sensitive historical sense and I’m guessing that he probably thinks this would be a horrible time to rock the boat in Thai Buddhism when the Forest Tradition is under attack and on its last legs. I’m certainly for the ordination of women, but right now might not be the best time:

    Click to access The%20Traditions%20Of%20The%20Noble%20Ones.pdf

  20. Ajahn Brahmavamso, please continue to ‘unite’ this world with your metta and simplicity and help all in their journey home. /ckk

  21. http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/4388.html

    This may be “old meme”, as somebody said in a comment on another thread, but it seems that Ven Thanissaro is not against bhikkhuni ordination at all, if he ever was, and his foremost concern seems to be to ensure that they receive a high quality training. The relevant section from this dhamma talk by him from October 2013 is in answer to a question and starts around minute 47. I can’t comment on his opinion of the quality of currently available female teachers.

    • Very attentive and observant. Easy we mix things (our desire and our ideas what might be the obstacle to gain the target object), especially if we are in rage, strong desire or lost in certain views. We are even able to kill our kinsmen and holly people as long as we have not reached the first level of Nibbana.

      It is not old, it is still a crippling issue causing the whole Sangha to stuck. Some know how a move on could be made, but such needs certain self sacrifice (not the Martyr one, the soberly and discerning one). Persons are very strong bound to deeds, in this way or also otherwise and we have the possibility to chose a wise direction and deed all the time.

      “It’s through living together that a person’s virtue may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

      “It’s through trading with a person that his purity may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

      “It’s through adversity that a person’s endurance may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.

      “It’s through discussion that a person’s discernment may be known, and then only after a long period, not a short period; by one who is attentive, not by one who is inattentive; by one who is discerning, not by one who is not discerning.”



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