Transcript of WPP expulsion of Ajahn Brahm

Here’s an English translation of the meeting where Ajahn Brahm was expelled from WPP for helping perform bhikkhuni ordination.


Minutes of the WPP Meeting Regarding Ajahn Brahmavamso, Bodhinyana Monastery & Bhikkhuni Ordination
From the Thai transcription at http://www.alittlebuddha.com
English translation: Supatra Chowchuvech

Title: Summery of the Meeting of the Sangha Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong and its Branches Regarding Bhikkhunis – Nov 1, 2552 BE (2009 CE)

Chairman (Loung Por Liem):
“Everyone, this is the 1st of November, the 14th night of the 12th month full moon Festival of Kalatthana. We are gathered here at Wat Nong Pah Pong related to this activity and this culture and these traditions that have been practiced for a long, long time. However today we also have a meeting about the Sangha Committee in order to increase and improve our understanding of our duty and conduct. We will be speaking about the conduct of a monk, our monk. On this occassion it is the responsibility of the Secretary to propose this issue into the Meeting, in order to clarify our responsibilities and duties. I am taking the role of the Chairman of the Meeting, and the Meeting is now open.”

Secretary:
“May i have the opportunity, Chairman. The issue that we are Meeting over today is related to Ven Chaokhun (Bishop) Brahm giving bhikkhuni ordination at Bodhinyana Forest Monastery in Perth. All of you Ajahns have the document in front of you, so i would like to invite the Ven Chaokhun [Brahm] to explain the ordination, so that the other Ajahns can ask questions, item by item.”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“I was not the Upajjhaya (Preceptor). There was a bhikkhu[ni] who was the Upajjhaya of the bhikkhunis; it was not me. The ritual was done at the forest monastery in Perth. It was an ordination for bhikkhunis. There was no Upajjhaya; the Pavattini was a bhikkhuni. A bhikkhuni was Pavattini (Upajjhaya). Tathaaloka has been to Thailand long ago. She has 12 Pansa (Vassas/Years since full ordination). She was ordained in the Mahayana in a sect in the United States. In the meeting there were eight bhikkhunis, and we ordained four samaneris into bhikkhunis. In the Bhikkhuni Sangha who gave the ordination there was Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni – Tathaaloka was the Pavattini. After that it was the duty of the Venerable Bhikkhu Sangha to give a joint action [to complete the dual ordination]; to receive the Sanghakamma that was done before (that of the Bhikkhuni Sangha) in the second Sanghakamma (by the Bhikkhu Sangha). For the Bhikkhu Sangha, I was one of the Kammavacaryas… [Explaining the principle behind the ordination] (@ 10:38 on the recording) …It is the strict law of that country (Australia), if we are going to have inequality for women and men, it is against the law… Some people want it in Australia; it doesn’t impact Thailand. But in Australia, we do it per Australian law. If we can have bhikkhunis, then it is a way to keep the faith of Buddhists abroad…”

Rebuttal of the Elder Theras of Wat Pah Pong (@ 44.35 min)

Thera:
“The Australian law, as far as i know, and i have studied this – it does not interfere with religion. Each religious has its rules and proceedures; it is controlled by the power of the law; they (religions) are exempted.”

Thera:
“You claim that you have the support of the Buddhist Society of Western Australian and that over a thousand people agree with the ordination of bhikkhunis. This is not true. You did not ask them. You did not study from them. You kept this as a secret from the Buddhist Society. I have checked on the internet already. Even the vote of the meeting was still a secret. When you kept things secret from our monks, how could it be possible that we could be discussing it? When you kept things secret from your own Society, except for a few individuals on the Board/Committee, only about 14 people knew about this, and then you went ahead and made the decision on your own…”

3rd Thera:
“All of the branches abroad are in communication. We all felt that you made this decision unilaterally. You did not consult anyone. We we learned that we were about to go to your monastery, as those that will go to discuss at the WAM in December, then you became anxious. I have asked the monks at your monastery why you have kept this as a secret. That monk who is a caretaker of the monastery, Ven Brahmali, said that he (Ajahn Brahmavamso) is afraid that the Meeting that Loung Por Liem is going to be having is going to end of forbidding giving ordination to bhikkhunis, therefore he hastily moved ahead, and got it done in secret…”

Thera (@ 60.00 min)
“Ajahn Brahm is the force behind spearheading the ordination of bhikkhunis. He was the supporter of them ordaining at his monastery, even inside the sacred sima of his monastery. The other monks that joined [in the ordination] where also monks of his monastery, and when there were monks who felt uncomfortable and did not want to join he asked them to leave the sima so that they would not object. This is according to what a monk told me. I have communication with monks over there and this is what they said.”

Thera:
“Even those nuns, they foresaw that there might be a problem between the Sangha and Ajahn Brahm, so they discussed this problem and came to the decision that they did not want him to be the Kammavacacarya. So then they travelled to his temple, while Ajahn Brahm was still abroad. The nun asked him not to be Kammavacacarya, but he refused and insisted he had to be. I have talked to the nun. She said that she foresaw a crack, a problem and a division in the monk’s community at Wat Pah Pong…”

Chairman (Loung Por Liem) (@ min 77.00):
“In honor of all the Venerable Theras in this meeting about ordination: I have been living at Wat Nong Pah Pong; i have devoted my body and my high respect to Loung Por Chah since the year 2512 BE. When i came here i did my duty and i respected the Rule of Conduct of Wat Nong Pah Pong, which is not that difficult. When Loung Por Chah ordered me to go stay here and there, i followed his order. When i went to the branch in Laos — that time it was not a branch yet, it was just a jackfruit orchard — then i came back and stayed here; i didn’t get to go anywhere. He didn’t send me anywhere, therefore i got the chance to take my responsibility in helping with practice. I didn’t think there there is so much of a big deal – he (Loung Por Chah) was given the position of Upajjhaya, but he never talked about the ordination of bhikkhunis – only maechees. Maechees were like the giver of his life, so he had given the ordination to maechees, and had them come to live at Wat Nong Pah Pong. Even myself – i did the same. In 2519 BE, my mother who has borne me, came to ordain at Wat Nong Pah Pong; all the way to my younger sister who has come and ordained here. Noone said that they have to be bhikkhunis, because it would create an intimacy in a way that is not good. It is about feelings. If there is a close relationship then there is an opportunity for innapropriate emotions. When Ven Ajahn [Brahm] went to do his duty over there, where this action occured, i did not have any reaction at the time, because it did not happen in the principle of conduct in Thailand. In Thailand, i have been given the position of Upajjhaya. When i went to training, noone told me about this type of ordination, only about the ordination of men. If there are women it is called the ordination of maechee. The issue of being enlightened is not related to this title [of bhikkhuni], it is about the practice. Therefore, when we bring such senstitive issues to discussion like this, it is as if we create a problem in the field, resulting in a reaction which is judgementally critical, creating a feeling of distrust in the behavior. I don’t have much reaction, because on the Thai Theravada side, there is no such thing [as bhikkhuni ordination], therefore i am not in agreement with this action. That is all.”

Another Thera (@83.30 min)
“…Is it possible for you, Ven Chaokhun Brahm, for you to stop everything? Stop everything, and stop ordaining bhikkhunis ever again. I want to hear from you: can you stop? If you can stop, they we may ask for loving kindness from our teachers. We can go forwards with the anusavana chanting. If you have made a mistake for the first time, can you understand the consequences? If not, still we will not cut you off. We can have a second Kammavaca, and chant the samanupassana. Or whatever. Which is to bring up that conduct, to say that it is unbeneficial. This second time is for the changing or dispelling of ditthi (views). If that still does not work then we can give another punishment from dukkhata to thullacaya. This third time, will you, Venerable, be able to accept abandoning this conduct? Then all of the Sangha will rejoice and bless you…”

Thera:
“Can you say yourself, can you promise in front of the Sangha Committe that you will stop? That you will accept the decision of the Sangha Committee before you do something which has such wide impact, such enormous impact? Sometimes we look at things from only one aspect. I would like to ask you, Venerable Chaokhun Brahm, if you would admit that what you have done is wrong and that you are willing to change? Our group will accept your words. Please give the opportunity to Ven Ajahn Brahm to say something to those Sangha members assembled here.”

Ajahn Brahmavamso (@91.15 min)
“I would like to thank you, Venerable Ajahn, for your kindness. I do not want the Sangha to divide. I have lived here for nine years, although i was born in a foreign country. I still see the monks here as my brothers, and i really love them; therefore, as in a family, we have to listen to our brothers. Therefore, i accept. I am not looking for followers. I will not chant in the bhikkhunis affairs, unless the Venerable Sangha of Wat Pah Pong allows me to. In the future, if the Sangha at Wat Pah Pong changes, ten years from now, a 100 years from now, a 1000 years from now — in the future i will ask for the Sangha decision of Wat Nong Pah Pong? Is that right?”

Elder Thera (@93.18 min)
(After Ven Brahmavamso answered the question about bhikkhunis and his role in it and explained the ordination) “May I, a listener, have a chance to say this: This is like you are saying ‘I am not stealing; i only carry the rope, but the buffulo somehow got trapped in the rope and followed it.’ Do you understand this? This is his meaning. This is no small matter. This is a matter of all the Sangha all over the Kingdom of Thailand. If we make a decision that is unclear, we can be criticised by Sangha all over the Kingdom. Our Monastic Committee must consider this carefully.”

Elder Thera:
“May the power of the Monastic Committee consider another point: is this action appropriate or not? The Sanghakamma needs to be discussed. Those who have been ordained are another story. But our teachers have told us: Is it possible? May i say again, is it possible that the ordination of a Sangha member may be nullified?”

Secretary of the Meeting:
“Those that have gone to pay homage to Venerable Somdet Phra Buddhajahn (the Acting Sangharaja) at Wat Saket [will know]: he said that this is a Mahayana practice, not Theravadan.”

Thera:
“…I asked the Most Venerable Somdet Buddhajahn: ‘What about the fact that Ven Ajahn Brahmavamso has ordained bhikkhunis? If we look from that point of view, what happens to those bhikkhunis?’ The Somdet answered: ‘They are upasikas (lay women) who hold precepts. It (the ordination) must be considered nullified.’

Thera:
“About nullification: what do all of the Elders sitting here together think about this? And Ven Ajahn Brahm, how do you feel that you have given the ordination, if they do not accept it? If they (those women ordained) come to Wat Nong Pah Pong, they will not be considered bhikkhunis who have gone through the natthi (ordination rite) chanting. [Their ordination] will be considered null and void. The documents and certification that you can give as an Upajjhaya relating to this entire ordination – you will not be able to issue. You will not be able to issue any of these. Can you accept this?

Ven Brahmavamso:
“After the ordination was completed, Ayya Tathaaloka, who was the Upajjhaya asked me to sign [the certificate] as a Chanting Acarya. I had to sign as the chanting Acarya. But i did not certify [the ordination as Upajjhaya]. I only signed as the Chanting Acarya. As for certifying, then who is going to certify it? Maybe the bhikkhunis in America… maybe their Upajjhayas. I did not issue the certification.”

Thera:
“Venerable Ajahn, if you regard this whole thing (the ordinations) as nullified, will you take this as you being pressured by the Sangha Committee?”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“I admit that the Thai Sangha cannot except this. But, for the United States Sangha – I am not able to come up against them.”

Thera:
“…in ordination, these are not considered full bhikkhunis, because the Theravada sect does not accept it, the Thai Sangha and the teachers and monks at Wat Pah Pong do not accept it. Therefore these cannot be regarded as full bhikkhunis. All they can be accepted as is laywomen with eight precepts, being maechees. So now, we want you to know that from now on, the Monastic Committee wants to grant you kindness. But you should not continue this, and you will stop. But in regards to them, you should not pressure them to resign [from monastic life]. They can stay and practice as maechees. That is not a problem. The Monastic Committee just wants to hear from you that you will not do this again; that you will not continue. Or, if you will continue, and want to stay with us, then this Committee cannot agree with you. If you want to stay with us, to honor your debt of gratitude to your Upajjhaya, then you must repent of your mistake and ask forgiveness from your Upajjhaya, and he will grant this to you when you ask for forgiveness. I want to hear from you – what do you have to say?”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“…I have said this for the second time now, that i will stop unless i have permission from the Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong. In the future I will follow the decision of the Sangha of Wat Nong Pah Pong. Whatever is the decision of the Sangha at Wat Nong Pah Pong; i will always follow that. I am saying that i will stop; I will not give ordination to bhikkhunis again, unless the Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong changes their mind. If the Mahathera Samakhom in the future –10 years from now or 20 years from now — considers that they want to allow bhikkhunis in the Thai Theravada sect, then the Monastic Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong will then follow, then I will ask for permission to do it again. Apart from that, i will not do it.”

Another Thera:
“May i bring this to the main point? The Sangha Committee is asking you, Venerable Ajahn, whether you see the ordination that you have done as nullified, which means that those nuns are not bhikkhunis? Can you accept and can you admit that or not? This is what we are asking. We are not asking whether you will do it again or not.”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“This is very difficult because this is an issue of Vinaya. Because…”

A Thera:
“Now, now. We must take the decision of the Monastic Community, which is about unity, and which is about a united mind. If you still want to be one of our branch monasteries, you do not need to go so far as to speak about Vinaya. All of us here are senior monks and we all know the Vinaya well. So, just stay with this point.”

(@ 107.30 mins)
Ven Brahmavamso:
“If what has been done is vipatti, then it was wrong. But if it is not vipatti, then the bhikkhunis are not vipatti. I acknowledge that the Thai Monastic Committee does not accept bhikkhunis. But if i go to the United States, or if i speak to my disciples in Australia or to my disciples in Singapore, i cannot force them. If they want to regard them as bhikkhunis or maechees, then i can do nothing about that.”

Thera:
“That is your business, but if you don’t have the ability to control them, can you consider yourself their Ajahn, or not? As we are [part of the] administrative hierarchy [of this] lineage, we must excercise the chain of command…”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“If you are in doubt then you have to consult your Upajjhaya, Somdet Phra Buddhajahn. What i can promise about the ordination of bhikkhunis, is that I won’t do it again, unless…”

Thera:
“Yes, but what is vipatti? I want to point out here that the vipatti is ditthi vipatti. We do not agree with you. But are we holding the Vinaya vipatti or not? Or opinion is that your ditthi is vipatti. Can you accept this or not? This is about ditthi vipatti. Since the majority of the Sangha in our lineage do not…”


[Part II of translation]

Another Thera:
“Please, please – we are quarrelling here. Right now, Venerable Ajahn [former speaker] or Venerable Chaokhun [Brahm], you are both Thai [tradition] monks and you are in Thailand. All the hierarchical governing chain of command is entirely within Thailand, and Thailand cannot except this situation. Neither can the Monastic Administrative Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong. They are currently being scritinized as ‘What are they doing there at Wat Nong Pah Pong? What about 150 Patimokkha? What about that bhikkhuni ordination?’ If each goes off on their own like this, then what will happen to the Monastic Administrative Committee at Wat Nong Pah Pong? Ven Ajahn, if you want to do it, go ahead; we won’t say anything; but you have to leave the network of Wat Nong Pah Pong. You have to leave Thailand. Or, in other words, you do not have to be a Thai [tradition] monk. You can be any kind of monk you want to be. We can avoid all problems by cutting off each other. But if you still want to be part of Wat Nong Pah Pong, then you have to humble yourself. You have to stop. You have to quit doing this. If you agree to quit doing this, then the Monastic Committee at Wat Nong Pah Pong will accept you entirely. But if you continue to do as before, you will have no benefits from Wat Pah Pong, and the Thai Monastic Committee cannot accept that either. I say this sincerely, from my heart. We, in our Committee that have gone through thick and think with the Most Venerable Loung Por Chah – we have enough knowledge and ability to do good for the Buddha Sasana. This time you did this unilaterally, without consulting the Elder Theras. Once you did that, it harmed the entire Sangha Committee. Here, in the Thai Monastic Committee, for so many hundreds of years, when we gave ordination, we had to have the Monastic Committee’s [approval]. Say, how many Sangharajas have we had so far? Whatever we do, we have to consult them. Wat Nong Pah Pong is just a small part [of the greater Sangha]. If i go and do this, and you go and do that, and everybody does what they want, then what will happen? This plot [of yours] was a ten year plan; a plan to destroy the Buddhist religion. I have been to many spots and I can tell one from another. And i can tell tell what you are doing fits right into the plot. You have been roused through many different methods to destoy Buddhism. You actually have good principles, but you have applied them in a way that is, (excuse me for saying this), corrupted by gain and corrupted by fame, or corrupted by whatever. Being in the world, if it turns out this way, i’m telling you that the Thai Monastic Committee cannot accept it. Neither can Wat Nong Pah Pong. If you think you can do whatever you were planning by yourself, then you can do it alone. Even the Ajahns in other countries will not accept it. Therefore, please understand that you must go by the majority, that is, the majority of the views of the Thai monks, which right now also includes [the majority of the] Sri Lankan, Burmese and Thais. And we will not mention China and Japan. This is the principle to uphold. If we do not uphold this principle there will be nothing left. Loung Por Chah will have no meaning. Please consider this for the sake of our Loung Pu Chah and all of our Elder monastic teachers sitting here, discussing something you did which shouldn’t have happened. Can you make a commitment that you will not do it every again? Then the Monastic Committee will bless you with their ‘Anumodana Sadhu’ again…”

Thera:
“May i speak, Ajahn? Right now, the gist of this discussion is that all of the teachers and monks in Thailand, and all of the monastic disciples of Loung Por Chah will not accept the bhikkhunis who have been ordained. Meanwhile, Ajahn Brahm says if they are accepted in other places, then it is their business. And the fact that the Sangha here does not accept, does not matter, because you will not accept in any case. Our Thai Monastic Committee and WNPP’s Committee in our Theravadan sect do not accept bhikkhunis because we understand that bhikkhunis have gone extinct from Thailand from 300 years after the Lord Buddha has reached his Parinibbana [that is, that the Bhikkhuni Sangha ended with Sanghamitta]. All of these recent supposed ordinations are fake (made up). It is not that difficult. You can get any four people together and give them [the candidates] ordination; but it is wrong. So here i want to ask Venerable Chaokhun Brahmavamso, are you going to give any more ordinations? Or are you going to quit doing this per the wish of your teachers? ”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“Well, i guess i can quit… OK, i can (with a firmer voice).”

Another Thera:
“May I speak, Teachers? Here is how it went. It started from you formulating a plan to give ordination to bhikkhunis quite a while ago. And then, Sujato, your right hand man, has used very aggressive language to protest the Thai Monastic Committee including the Elders at Wat Nong Pah Pong. This is very serious. It [has come] through an email. And then you want to complete this project successfully. But you know that the international Abbots were coming to the Western [or World] Abbots’ Meeting on the 8th of December. So you went ahead and completed this project before the meeting, because you were afraid that the Community abroad will not accept this. You have gone to consult Ajahn Sumedho, and Ajahn Sumedho did not agree. Since he did not agree, you decided to go ahead and do it discreetly, so that word does not get around. The Buddhist Society [of Western Australia] was suspicious, so some of them did not attend. They were suspicious about why you did it this way, discreetly. But you went ahead and plowed through it until it was successful. Although you received documents from the Elders of Wat Nong Pah Pong warning you that if you went ahead you would be disaffiliated as a branch. This was very clear. Even Chaokhun Sumedho sent you a very clear letter, but you did not consider and obey it or the Rule of Wat Nong Pah Pong or anything. You just gave the ordination. So here it is. You are successful. You have given ordination to bhikkhunis in the Theravada sect. Bhikkhunis have been born in the Theravada sect. It is done. In addition, they were ordained in a branch of Wat Nong Pah Pong abroad in Australia. You have acheived your goal. Now that you have acheived your goal, then you soften your position and you say that you will stop doing this. But what you have done has been done, that is, the ordination of bhikkhunis complete and full. So here is the problem: now there are bhikkhunis. And so if we do not implement any measures to punish you or excommunicate you, then this is going to create future problems in the foreign branches, because people will say: ‘How is that he can give ordination and there is not consequence?’ So in other branches they will say, ‘I will do it too! And after i do it i will repent and promise not to do it again.’ This is how the problem will expand and grow larger. This is very dangerous for other foreign countries. Why is that? Because the siladharas in England or anywhere else have now evolved into an unequal situation, such that now that there are bhikkhunis, even when she [a siladhara] has been ordained for 20 years, when she comes to meet a bhikkhuni, then she is lower in the heirarchy than a bhikkhuni who has just been ordained. This is going to create a problem in our hierarchical governance in our branches in other countries, which will be damaged by this in their efforts to propogate [Buddhism].

(All of the Elders discussed what to do until 122.05 mins)

Representative From Europe:
“May I speak? I want to add that the Sangha Committee in Europe, that is, those of Loung Por Sumedho, have given the opinion that, if you will not yield or will not agree with the Monastic Committee, then we must disaffiliate you. But if you still love and miss being a disciple of this lineage, then we ask you to start your branch again from the beginning, from Level One. These are the options that you have. Whether you want to consider these options or not, it is up to you, Venerable Chaokhun [Brahmavamso].”

Thera:
“May I speak? I think we should let Venerable Ajahn Brahm make his own decision whether he wants to stay with us and stop doing all those things or whether he wants to continue to do it. Let him make that decision, and the Monastic Committee will hear you out.”

Another Thera:
“According to the Vinaya, when a bhikkhu has ditthi or is stubbornly attached to a wrong view, then the Monastic Committee should summon him. And then, the first sentence to tell him is that he will be cut off and not allowed to stay together. But then he [Ajahn Brahm] replies, ‘If I no longer wanted to be Loung Por Chah’s disciple, or if I didn’t want to be a branch of this lineage, then I wouldn’t have come all the way here.’ He came here for the purpose of explaining himself and hearing the opinion of the other monks. When the other monks asked him to stop, he said that he would stop and not do it again. And as far as the ordination that has occurred, it is not correct per Dhamma-Vinaya, therefore it is to be nullified. We have told him that. And the bhikkhunis that have been ordained, since they are not accepted by the monks, their ordination is nullified. They are simply upasikas [devoted lay women], just like they were before. Ven Chaokhun [Brahm] promised to stop. We should ask him again whether he is really going to stop for real. This is per the Vinaya. Not to just cut him off like that, and say come back in 5 years or 10 years. That is not right. We have to follow the Dhamma-vinaya.”

Another Thera:
“Wait a minute! The Monastic Committee has originally notified him fully, but he would not back down. He continued to give the ordination. We notified him; we told him in all possible ways many, many times. But he was not afraid. He just went ahead and continued with the ordination until it was completed, until he produced a Theravada bhikkhuni. How are we going to solve this problem? This is going to spread all over the world. The Most Venerable Somdet Phra Buddhajahn has said that, ‘If he wants to give ordination, then alright. Let him be Mahayana.’ Then he [Ajahn Brahmavamso] replied, ‘We are not splitting from you, but you are splitting from us into Mahayana.’ This is what he said.”

(@ 126.17 min – The Elders Explain About the Request to Phra Ajahn Brahmavamso to Wait Until the Meeting in December to Give Ordination)

(@ 130.55 min ) Another Thera:
“May I speak? So far as I have heard, I think that this is a deliberate wrongdoing, in defiance of the Monastic Committee. We have heard about the issue of bhikkhunis many times. Many of us have heard about it. Yet he stubbornly took action as he wished. This means that he has won; he was successful. The best thing to do is to let him win. Let him go to another sect. But in our Theravada sect, counting from [the Acting Sangharaja] Chao Phrakhun Somdet [Buddhajahn] all the way down [through the monastic rankings and hierarchy], I am sure that no one will accept; no one in this entire country. He knows that these are bhikkhunis, and he had a part in it. It is not an accidental, momentary mistake. It has been know for many years that there is a movement to want to give ordination to bhikkhunis. Thus, he willfully committed wrongdoing. In my opinion, the best thing to do is to ask him to leave the Theravadan sect. This is my opinon.”

Another Thera:
“We invite you, Venerable Chaokhun [Brahmavamso], to make your decision now. It is up to you. There is no one who can control you.”

Another Thera:
“I request that Venerable Chaokhun [Brahamavamso] sign a concession and the Secretary will make a document to notify Somdet [Phra Buddhajahn] and send it to all – that says that what you have done is to be nullified. Can you accept that – that what you have done is to be nullified? Will you be willing to sign that document which will be prepared by the Secretary? If it has not been signed, then it hasn’t been corrected. Can you do that? I mean signing the document which is a notification to Chaokhun Somdet [Phra Buddhajahn]. Do you agree to it, that what you have done is to be nullified? This action is important. It is easy to say with words that you agree, but we must have documentation with your signature on it. I will be brief. Is there anyone else who has any other opinion? Please express your opinion. Or Loung Por [Liem], will you please summerize?

Another Thera:
“But if we have already excommunicated him, whether he agrees to sign or not is his business now. We shouldn’t have anything more to do with it now.”

Loung Por Liem:
“Our meeting has been going on for two hours now, and we are still unclear in this matter. As for myself, I do not agree with this action, [that is, the ordination]. This is because we have notified you [Ajahn Brahm] ahead of time, in writing. This is my feeling. If there are any other monks here who agree to that, I bless them with my ‘Anumodana’. I do not agree with the ordination of bhikkhunis, which means that I do not accept it. Is there anyone in this group who agrees or disagrees? If he asks, I am asking him to say if he is going to stop doing this anymore? That is all. Do you understand.”

Another Thera:
“Ven Chaokhun Brahm, do you understand? Please express yourself which direction you want to go.”

Venerable Brahmavamso:
“I don’t understand. I already explained myself. I don’t understand what the problem is. I already said that I will stop.”

Thera:
“Will you follow the resolution of the Monastic Committee?”

Venerable Brahmavamso:
“I will follow the resolution of the Monastic Committee.”

Thera:
“OK. So you will follow the Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong as before, but from now on you will also follow the Monastic Committee [of the Mahathera Samakhom]?”

Another Thera:
“But wait a minute! When you said you follow the Monastic Committee, it means that you must issue a document that the ordination of bhikkhunis transgressed the Dhamma-vinaya, that is, the Vinaya that Loung Por Chah and the branches of his lineage have practiced with for long. You must admit that you have committed a wrongdoing, and then this document will be distributed all over the world. Alright?”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“But I cannot issue this letter.”

Thera:
“If you cannot do it, then it means that you still hold that your conduct is correct. You only admit guilt after you have completed the [Sangha]kamma. This is really up to the Committee now. I think it doesn’t hold at all. It really shows that he does not truly admit that what he has done is wrong.”

Another Thera:
“Yes, if he does not accept Dhamma-Vinaya, because he thinks that it is merely an opinion of the majority of the monks, this is a case of ditthi (holding a view). This is the ditthi: he regards himself as knowing everything about Dhamma-Vinaya, therefore he will not yield. He said that it is not doable. He said, this is the ditthi of the majority of the monks who do not agree with him. But since the majority does not agree — he is the only person that agrees — thus it is he who has ditthi, [that is, he who is clingling to his own view].

Another Thera:
“This is similar to the case of [ex-monk and Prime Minister] Phra Kugrit Pramot who said that he wanted to chant 150 as opposed to the 227 [precepts of the Bhikkhu Patimokkha]. He insisted on 150. Therefore we excommunicated him.

Another Thera:
“But ditthi is the view of the majority of the Monastic Committee. This is for the purpose of unity and harmony. I think we should call a halt to it, that is, not allowing it [bhikkhuni ordination] to happen, not allowing it to be born. We must halt it by nullifying the ordination, by recognizing that they are not bhikkhunis. And you, Ven Chaokhun [Brahm] must admit everything. And the Sangha will consider to have you start again, per the opinion of the European Sangha, that is, to start as a new brach, starting from one. Ven Chaokhun, can you accept this or not?

Ven Brahmavamso:
“I still do not understand why. What evidence do you have that this is transgressing the Vinaya?”

Thera:
“[To Ajahn Brahm]: So, that is it. You do not accept. So as of now you do not accept that you are wrong and that you will change. [To the Committee:] I ask the Committee what judgement will you have?”

(The Committee discussed until 143.32 min)

Thera:
“OK, you will not be in the Theravada sect. Are you going to go to the Mahayana sect?”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“I am not Mahayana. But as far as I know, as you all have explained – what is the reason for saying that this is not a real ordination? If Somdet Buddhajahn who is my Upajjhaya is able to me that it is really wrong, then I will admit it. But it has to have reason. I have not heard a reason. I don’t understand. And also…

(monks explain the reason and there is debate up till 145.32 mins)

Ven Brahmavamso:
“I am speaking the truth. In brief, I do not want to step on the toes of other monks. If i have to say that the ordination is not real, then I cannot say that. But if the Monastic Committee thinks that I have to disaffiliate from being a branch, then I will accept that, because this is the truth. The truth is the truth. [This next sentence is broken Thai and difficult to translate so may be incorrect]: I see many disciples, and those that will be my disciples can be either monastics or lay people, and there are those amongst them that are experts in the monastic Vinaya… Then let’s make it simple. Cut Bodhinyana off as a branch; I accept that.

Thera:
“So are you still a branch of Wat Nong Pah Pong at this time?”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“I can accept disaffiliation, so that this will not be a problem for the monks. It is a very heavy decision, because I still love all of my teachers, but I don’t want to be a problem anymore. So if there are monks, even 2 or 3 who are unhappy, then I accept that. And then being a little distant, I want you to reconsider that. But what has been done has been done, and was done according to the monastic Vinaya. And from what I have heard from the Venerable Somdet [Phra Buddhajahn] of Wat Saket, it [such ordination] is according to Vinaya but it is not accepted in Thailand, but it is accepted in Australia.”

(some commotion)

Thera:
“This is the situation, in the Theravada sect, in the Thai sect, wherever Thai Theravada Buddhism is over the entire world: we do not accept the ordination of bhikkhunis is accordance with Dhamma-Vinaya. Before coming to this meeting, I had a telephone conversation with Ven Chaokhun Panna who is the Secretary of Somdet [Phra Buddhajahn], who said that Chaokhun Somdet [Phra Buddhajahn] gave you this policy [that was just stated prior]. So whatever the decision is of the Monastic Committee today, we will follow that.”

Ven Brahmavamso:
“I am ready to follow the resolution of the Wat Nong Pah Pong monks. If you want me to disaffilate the branch, I will. If you want me to start the branch over from one; OK, I am ready to do that.

(discussion about disaffiliation/excommunication amongst the monks until 160.25 mins)

Thera:
“I have asked for the resolution, and it keeps going on and on endlessly. Why don’t we do this: I heard that the Loung Por Chairmen [Ajahn Liem] said that if it is so much trouble then just ‘cut it off;’ so then this is the resolution: I ask the Committee, do you agree or disagree? If anyone disagrees please say so.

Another Thera:
“May I speak? I feel confused, but now I am pretty clear. Loung Por Liem said, ‘cut the monastery out.’ Please, all temple Chairmen and Abbots here, what do you think, do you bless this decision or not?”

(Alot of monks said ‘Sadhu’ [after 3 tries].)

Loung Por Liem:
“So our meeting here has reached an agreement of the governance of the group. It has taken almost three hours and we have finally agreed in the form of divorce. You can go ahead and do your job over there, and over here we will continue to not agree with it. Therefore, this resolution is backed by the majority of the monastic community here. This meeting can adjourn and we can all go back to our duties. Let us all close the meeting by paying homage to the Buddha.”


As reported by http://www.alittlebuddha.com
Dec 21, 2552 BE [2009 CE]
English translation by Supatra Chowchuvech

173 thoughts on “Transcript of WPP expulsion of Ajahn Brahm

  1. When I compare this translation of the transcript to the english translation of the MP3 (at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=153235999615#/topic.php?uid=153235999615&topic=11952
    ), it seems the above translation gives a broad overview of what happened at the meeting, but is not detailed.

    Comparing the two versions of the proceedings of the last 5 minutes, it seems the above translation left out many details which are included in the translation of the MP3 recording.

  2. The message is loud and clear…’we do not want Bhikkhunis in our WPP tradition and we will not tolerate any attempts to discuss this issue either’. Just not sure why they were just beating around the bush and did not have the courage to publicly say so.

    As I mentioned earlier, it’s time to move on. There is no ambiguity as to what a woman should do if she wants the follow the path of the Buddha – stay well clear of WPP and its monasteries. Hopefully, (and the signs are that it is the case) there will be many more monasteries like Bodhinyana in the near future where women could practice without being treated like lower class beings.

    There will be a few unpalatable surprises to all those King Kanuts in the very near future!!

  3. From the above transcript, it was clear that AB still wanted to honour the Bhikkhunis that he ordained or approved, although concurrently he promised he would not ordain anymore future Bhikkhunis. AB was in a situation like, the Chinese parable, that you have one foot on this boat and the other foot on the other boat. Is that possible? Eventually your two foots would split and would fall into the water.

    Question??: Why didn’t AB agree to invalidate the freshly baked bhikkunis as unanimously requested by the majority Ajarns when given three chances to do so?

    AB’s argument was that he stood by his view that he did not do any wrong in accordance to the Vinaya i.e the 4-fold assembly, so in other words, AB was saying the Elders were wrong and not him, so he need not had to bow down to their request, as technically he didn’t go against the Vinaya on Bhikkhunis. However, at the same time AB promised that he would not ordain anymore Bhikkunis in future (so in other words, AB admitted that he had ordained the Bhikkunis, but at the same time said that he was not the Preceptor).Sounds inconsistent and contradicting.

    If the Thai Forest Sangha did not nullify the 4 bhikkunis (forgiving AB is besides the point), then these 4 bhikkunis (the first breed of revival)could still go on ordaining other Bhikkhunis or more bhikkhunis under the Thai Forest Sangha/Thai thereavada tradition, without having AB as preceptor (maybe other Bhikkhus out of Bodhiyana), but it also means that the goal by AB is ultimatly achieved, although he did not mind sacrificing himself as a Thai Forest monk/WPP or his Bodhiyana monastery or be called a Mahayana (in his mind he still condemn the Thai theravada Sangha and mocking them on this issue)so long as the theravada bhikkhuni is revived. It would be the same, as the “head of the rivival”(thai theravada bhikkuni) is created and soon this head give rise to a full body and more “babies” would be born (sorry for the metaphor, not literally). It is like AB is still the father of these “babies” in future.Don’t forget that AB is a scientist (as claimed by him)- a metaphysic, so he is being too technical and nothing matters if the explanation satisfied him technically. Scientist must have proofs otherwise would not “buy” into it. Unfortunately, Buddhism is supramundane, a lot of things scientist could not proof but that does not mean it does not exist (e.g. ghost/dewas/heaven/hell/law of kamma etc).

    Having said this, what is wrong in being a Mahayana? It is a “big wheel” with big compassion for others. As a matter of fact, it is a compliment, as it goes to show that the AB & the Bhikkhunis have compassion and can do more compassionate & humanitarian works and be of great service to women’s problems and affairs (how meritorious) like Master Chen Yen from Taiwan with her worldwide Tzu Tzi movement by building hospitals, helping in victims of disasters etc.

    What AB & bhikkhinis are doing now is also meritorious & compassionate i.e by counselling the community, Jhana Grove retreat centre in helping the sick or terminally sick by meditation etc. Being renowned for his mega compassion and mega metta, it fits well for AB and the Bhikkunis /Bodhiyana/Dammasara to be Mahayana.

    Why not? It is a double blessing. The 4 Bhikkunis could now maintain their Bhikkhunis status albeit Mahayana Bhikkunis, and could now carry out their mission as anxiously aspired by them.

    There should be no more problems and the Thai Sangha also gave their full blessings & moral support to AB, the Bhikkunis & Bodhiyana to carry out what they wished with no interference or intrusion, at full liberty in their wholesome plans and aspirations. Hence, Harmony restored. Anumodana!Sadhu!

    Buddha’s advice to his aunt ” “Do not ask for going forth” as Buddha cared for women’s security and well being. Imagine, during Buddha time, women could also get rape practising in the forest, what about our time (self-explanatory)?

    The objective “Gone forth” is to attain Arahantship, what Buddha wanted those who “gone forth” to do, although one could cultivate compassion by doing humanitarian works, as compassion is also one of prerequisites to enlightenment.

    The Theravada tradition is strictly following the Vinaya of the Buddha, it is objective and not subjective. After enlightenment, Buddha did not go scrambling building hospitals out of compassion(clearly subjective), but his objective was to achieve Nibbana (clearly objective).Of course, Buddha had already cultivated his immaculate compassion in his countless previous lifes. Namo Buddhaya.

    • Dear Buddhist Group:

      Buddhist Group wrote: “Question??: Why didn’t AB agree to invalidate the freshly baked bhikkunis ”

      According to pacittiya 63, he can’t knowingly nullify the validity of a sanghakamma that has been well carried out. Some might insist that in this situation Ajahn Brahm should obey those ordained before him regardless of what it says in the Vinaya. And that it is disrespectful of him to follow the vinaya instead of the ones ordained before him. However, the Buddha said that “The Dhamma and Vinaya “as taught and formulated by me”, will be your Teacher when I am gone”.

      “or to be more precise – those parts of the Suttas and Vinaya (regardless of which language recension) which have a reasonable probability of being authentically, historically, literally Word of the Buddha, or accurately representing what was spoken by the Buddha, or spoken by disciples but directly endorsed by the Buddha in his lifetime, as long as the record of endorsement seems probably authentic, are authoritative. ” – Kester Ratcliff (formally known as Bhikkhu Santi)

      Buddhist Group wrote: ” AB admitted that he had ordained the Bhikkunis, but at the same time said that he was not the Preceptor).Sounds inconsistent and contradicting.”

      This Bhikkhuni Ordination is a dual ordination. Ajahn Brahm explained in an earlier article that ” The first part being performed by a gathering of Bhikkhunis presided over by the Preceptor (“Upajjhaya” or “Pavattini” -Ayya Tathaaloka from the USA) and the second part where the new Bhikkhunis approach the Bhikkhu Sangha to have their ordination confirmed by a ñatticatutthakamma (a formal motion followed by 3 announcements). I was one of the two Bhikkhus who chanted the ñatticatutthakamma in the Bhikkhu Sangha.”

      Buddhist Group wrote: ” Buddhism is supramundane, a lot of things scientist could not proof but that does not mean it does not exist (e.g. ghost/dewas/heaven/hell/law of kamma etc).”

      About ghost, law of kamma, and the supramundane, Ajahn Brahm already know these things and doesn’t refute them. The matter at hand or what we are discussing is something very mundane ( giving those with a female form the necessary conducive conditions to progress on the Noble Eightfold Path)

      Buddha’s advice to his aunt ” “Do not ask for going forth” as Buddha cared for women’s security and well being. Imagine, during Buddha time, women could also get rape practising in the forest, what about our time (self-explanatory)?

      We have discussed this sutta which many people constantly use as a justification for obstructing women on the spiritual path and treating them as a low being. I will repost them below :

      This sutra stated that the Buddha said “Do not ask for going forth” when his aunt asked to become a bhikkhuni. He was said to be reluctant about ordaining bhikkhuni until Venerable Ananda repeatedly talked him into it. And that he imposed eight rules when he finally accept . One of which is that a nun who has been ordained even for a hundred years is lower than a monk ordained that day.

      A scholar Bhikkhu pointed out that “There are many problems chronologically, however, in the traditional account of Mahaprajapati (from the Commentaries). She first requested ordination five years after Buddha’s enlightenment; but Ananda, who requested Buddha on her behalf, first ordained only twenty years after Buddha’s enlightenment. Considering that Mahaprajapati, as Buddha’s maternal aunt, raised him after his mother’s death, she would have been about eighty years old when Ananda was senior enough to make the request.”

      It is controversial whether the sutta was original or added. There are scholar bhikkhus who present information to show that the Buddha was misrepresented in the texts about being reluctant to ordain women. Ven. Dr. Analayo pointed out an obvious time line discrepancy that amazingly has gone undetected until now.

      Various other discrepancies in this sutta have also been pointed out in other posts. That includes the false statement about how Buddhism will only last 500 years because the Buddha ordained women.

      Buddhist Group wrote: “The objective “Gone forth” is to attain Arahantship, what Buddha wanted those who “gone forth” to do,”

      I am posting this again from a previous discussion : Given that “Dhammavinaya is about transcending this conditioned realm, not trying to make everything perfect here, which can never be.” And I would like to add that what we are doing is helping the the other 50 % of the population do just that by trying to provide the necessary conditions so that they can have hope of actually transcending the conditioned realm. The dhamma is mainly about transcending the conditioned realm and helping others do the same.

      The chances of actually transcending the conditioned realm are greatly reduced when the proper practicing conditions prescribed by the Buddha are not available to them. Many monks would agree that even with the proper practicing conditions available, transcending this realm is not just a piece of cake. How much harder would it be without it. Here we are not just talking about transcending the conditioned realm, but we are actually making the effort to do so, and it is extremely necessary to be practical in our approach if we are to succeed in this endeavor.

      Buddhist Group wrote: ” The Theravada tradition is strictly following the Vinaya of the Buddha”

      I wouldn’t say that all Theraveda bhikkhus strictly follow the Vinaya of the Buddha. The Vinaya Cullavagga gives permission for bhikkhus to ordain bhikkhunis without a bhikkhuni sangha. However, some Theraveda monks act as if this doesn’t exist and tell the whole world that they can’t ordain bhikkhunis because there is no Theraveda bhikkhunis left.

  4. Such a strange posting by Buddhist Group above. The ‘friendly and open’ Theravadin telling those who disagree with his thinking to better become Mahayana. Even ‘praising’ Mahayana so as to tempt other Theravadins to ‘become’ Mahayana, while his real underlying attitude towards Mahayana is disgust.

    You can’t claim Theravada. Theravada went international a long time ago. Theravada is defined by the suttas and the Vinaya, not by the bunch of monks lead by Ajahn Kampong and Phra Opas.

  5. You become a Mahayana Buddhist if you ascribe to the teachings of the Mahayana suttas, not by ordaining women as bhikkhunis. Even kids in my temple sunday school will be able to figure this out.

    • Indeed. The problem here is really that for these monks, Mahayana has no meaningful content. It simply means ‘lost the plot’. ‘outsider’, ‘not our problem’, ‘nominally Buddhist but not the real thing’. You can see how hard, or impossible, it is to have a reasonable dialogue when there are such massive differences in preconceptions and use of language.

  6. Buddha’s advice to his aunt ” “Do not ask for going forth” as Buddha cared for women’s security and well being. Imagine, during Buddha time, women could also get rape practising in the forest, what about our time (self-explanatory)?

    Have I got something wrong here or did the Buddha actually ordain nuns? Also, I live alone on 20ha of relatively isolated land and have done for the past 15 years and I haven’t been raped once!!!

  7. Wow!! that is full on. i knew the gist of it but still surprised to hear AB accused of a plot to destroy Buddhism!!

    Buddhist Group criticises AB as inconsistent & contradictory when i see it as being compassionate & diplomatic, he was trying to make peace & to compromise. thank goodness they didn’t go for it frankly

  8. Comments from a neutral & impartial point of view :-

    From the transcipt, it looked like WPP was left with no choice or other alternative but to make the said resolution. Obviously, it was not the earlier intention of WPP to take and make such difficult decision, but as a last option or resort, not for individual gains but purely to preserve Ajahn Chah & Forest Sangha’s tradition and the spirit of unity, trust, consensus and harmony.

    Surely most WPP monks were longtime friends of AB, so it must have been a very very difficult decision and must have been executed with a heavy heart, but for the sake of prolonging their Ajahn Chah heritage in its originality, they had to overcome their personal emotional sentiments and do justice to preserve and respect the late Ajahn Chah’s tradition and lineage out of esteemed respect, gratitude and responsibility.

    Those who condemned WPP as sexists, also inadvertently condemned OUR BLESSED ONE, as our Blessed One was the One that formed the Bhikkhu Sangha and not WPP(merely emulate Buddha), as in the Suttas, our Blessed One traveled by the thousands with ALL MALE MONKS to teach (so, was Buddha a SEXISTS?).

    It would be a serious offence for those who condemn WPP/Forest Sangha as sexist, just because they were against Bhikkhunis ordination.

    The real problem with AB is, he loves to change things, even the Buddha’s order of teachings to suit his crowd. Some of the examples are, he coined the 4 Noble Truth in his own order, he reshuffled the 5 precepts to suit Australians who love to drink beer (intoxicants) by placing it as the first precept and putting the Buddha’s first precept as the 5th precept i.e it would go to show that killing is less severe than drinking beer (Australia went to war with Bush, right?).

    In no time, AB would also reshuffled the Noble 8 fold path according to his understanding and liking. The order of the Buddha’s 8 fold Path and whatever Truths expounded by our Buddha must never be changed, it is the universal Truth and Law and must be practized and understood in that order and not otherwise. The 8 fold Noble Path must be practised in that Order, with first as Right View & so on (Sila, Samadhi, Panna), you cannot have it in any which way we like or view as more suitable for a particular community. If this went on, then other monks could also re-arrange it in their own fashion, until the order in which the Buddha prescribed could eventually become extinct and more arguments on the Dhamma would ensue by the future generations.

    We have the Theravada tradition Sangha to thank for, for keeping the pure unspoilt Buddha’ Dhamma /Truth intact and in the same original order & its original Pali language, as in 2,550 years ago. SADHU, SADHU, SADHU!!! Anumodana WPP & Forest Tradition Sangha!!!

    • “Comments from a neutral & impartial point of view” lol, what a way to begin!!

      There’s really no such thing as a neutral or objective or ‘more rational’ point of view, admitting that is the first step to truthful discussion.

      The rest is just wilful ignorance. Nobody here is imputing sexism back to the Buddha, just ‘acinna’ -accumulated tradition, which the Second Council agreed is not in itself allowable.

      “It would be a serious offence for those who condemn WPP/Forest Sangha as sexist” -which one?? And anyway, the accusation of sexism is not a major part of why I criticise and reject the Thai Forest Tradition. In my experience it’s only a minor part of the reasons why they continue to ignorantly oppose what is clearly Dhamma-Vinaya because it is opposed to Thai tradition.

      AB has a way of shuffling things around and he has his reasons for doing that -I’d guess in order to keep people thinking about the meaning not just fetishizing the terminology. If you ever challenge him about why, intelligently and reasonably, he does actually listen -I’ve tried it. I don’t particularly like it when he re-orders things, but I don’t believe it’s really a big deal in itself.

      >We have the Theravada tradition Sangha to thank for, for keeping the pure unspoilt Buddha’ Dhamma /Truth intact and in the same original order & its original Pali language, as in 2,550 years ago. SADHU, SADHU, SADHU!!! Anumodana WPP & Forest Tradition Sangha!!!

      That is just sheer ignorant nonsense. Intentional ignorance and building a fortress of ‘faith’ against all evidence.

    • Hi MMOB,

      Just a few remarks and rebuttals. My thanks to you for giving me an opportunity to clarify some commonly held misconceptions.

      “Comments from a neutral & impartial point of view :-”

      There is no such thing as a ‘neutral & impartial point of view’. Points of view are generated by individual human beings. Many people may happen to have the same point of view, but that is not the same as impartiality. The resort to ‘impartiality’ is usually an unconscious denial of responsibility for the individuality of a persons views. This is the reason why those (like dhammalight.org) who claim to be impartial, refuse to be named as individuals.

      “From the transcipt, it looked like WPP was left with no choice or other alternative but to make the said resolution.”

      The Buddha taught the doctrine of kamma, not of fate. This means that there is always more than one way of doing things. To say that one does not have a choice is to deny one’s responsibility for one’s own actions, a denial which dissolves the possibility of ethics and dismantles any notion of the ‘good’ or ‘holy’ life.

      “Obviously, it was not the earlier intention of WPP to take and make such difficult decision, but as a last option or resort, not for individual gains but purely to preserve Ajahn Chah & Forest Sangha’s tradition and the spirit of unity, trust, consensus and harmony.”

      Broadly speaking, there are two ways to develop ‘unity, trust, consensus and harmony’. The first way is by pretending that everybody has the same views. The second is by encourage each other to respect, forgive, accept and listen to and learn from each others views. The first way is extremely fragile because it is not in line with the reality that everybody thinks and feels in different ways. The second way is robust and deepens our compassion and wisdom.

      “Those who condemned WPP as sexists, also inadvertently condemned OUR BLESSED ONE, as our Blessed One was the One that formed the Bhikkhu Sangha and not WPP(merely emulate Buddha), as in the Suttas, our Blessed One traveled by the thousands with ALL MALE MONKS to teach (so, was Buddha a SEXISTS?)”

      It may or may not be true that the Buddha travelled with only bhikkhus. As a general principal, we should not believe everything we read, even if they are in the suttas. Even if it is true that the Buddha only travelled with bhikkhus, the suttas tell us many things. The suttas also tell us that the Buddha rebuked Mara by telling him/it that he would not pass into parinibbana until a four-fold assembly of bhikkhus, bhikkunis, laymen and laywomen was firmly established. I do not think we can say that those who think that the official stance of WPP is sexist must also think that the Buddha was sexist.

      ‘The real problem with AB is, he loves to change things, even the Buddha’s order of teachings to suit his crowd. Some of the examples are, he coined the 4 Noble Truth in his own order, he reshuffled the 5 precepts to suit Australians who love to drink beer (intoxicants) by placing it as the first precept and putting the Buddha’s first precept as the 5th precept i.e it would go to show that killing is less severe than drinking beer (Australia went to war with Bush, right?).’

      It would be a mistake to say that Ajahn Brahm is trying to change the Buddha’s teaching simply because he has been heard to have rephrased the Buddha’s teaching in particular contexts in order to help his/her audience understand the Dhamma. This is what a skillful teacher does. It is done by all teachers today, and it was even done in the Buddha’s time. Sariputta, for example, rephrased the Four Noble Truths many times. The important thing is that the teacher does not replace the Buddha’s teaching with his or her own teaching. Those who know Ajahn Brahm well would vouch that he is painstakingly loyal to the historical Buddha’s teaching.

      Also, not all Australians love drinking beer, and the majority of Australians (according to the polls taken at the time) did not support the Australian governments decision to support President Bush in his war against Iraq.

      “In no time, AB would also reshuffled the Noble 8 fold path according to his understanding and liking. The order of the Buddha’s 8 fold Path and whatever Truths expounded by our Buddha must never be changed, it is the universal Truth and Law and must be practized and understood in that order and not otherwise. The 8 fold Noble Path must be practised in that Order, with first as Right View & so on (Sila, Samadhi, Panna), you cannot have it in any which way we like or view as more suitable for a particular community. If this went on, then other monks could also re-arrange it in their own fashion, until the order in which the Buddha prescribed could eventually become extinct and more arguments on the Dhamma would ensue by the future generations.”

      For the reasons stated above, I think you have overstate somewhat here.

      >j<

    • Dear Anagarika,

      Our Theravada Elders had left the Buddha’s Dhamma/Truth intact and in the same order as how Buddha discovered it for us for 2550 years now. It is now our responsibility to protect, preserve and bequeath the same original Dhamma to our next and future generations, so that they too could taste the same Dhamma we have tasted and digested.

      Personally, have no grudge with any monk or Aj Brahm (no valid reason to do so) but if the Truth is adulterated, it is our responsibility to speak up (just what the Buddha did during His time, to dispel ignorance amongst lay community & ascetics)without any fear or favour.

    • Oh dear. I think it is time to retire myself from the blogs.
      I ask everyone’s forgiveness especially MMOB.

    • Buddhist Group stated “as in the Suttas, our Blessed One traveled by the thousands with ALL MALE MONKS to teach (so, was Buddha a SEXISTS?)”

      A very minor point, but if anyone wonders what our scripture indicates here, see Cullavagga X.8, which states: “Now at that time the bhikkhuni who was the pupil of the bhikkhuni Uppalavanna had followed after the Lord for seven years mastering discipline, but because she was of confused mindfulness, what she had learnt she forgot. . . Then it occurred to that bhikkhuni. . . ‘Hard it is for a woman to follow after a teacher for as long as her life lasts. . .” [In response, the Buddha] said: ‘I allow, bhikkhus, discipline to be taught to bhikkhunis by bhikkhus.'”

      Hence apparently the Buddha did have some bhikkhunis among his travel entourage, though not usually mentioned. Another indication is that numerous bhikkhunis remained close by upon the Buddha’s parinibbana (presumably having traveled to that remote place with him), which we know only because of a later complaint that their tears fell upon the Buddha’s lifeless body before the bhikkhus and laity got to view and honor him. (CV.XI)

    • Dear Ayya,

      We also follow the Blessed One’s teachings but not physically.What I referred “follow” included eat, live and stay together.When the Blessed One preached (other than when instances he preached to lay men and lay women), according to all the Suttas, it was always “O Monks” (if the bhikkhuni followed him for seven years, why didn’t the Blessed One include O’ Monk & O’Nun? This showed the Blessed One travelled with all male monks. I am curious too.

  9. It is amazing how ignorant these Thai monks are of Buddhist history and Buddhism in general. But it is probably understandable. They are forest monks and are not well read, even in Theravada Buddhism. There would not be much written in Thai that discusses history of Buddhism or Mahayana in a way that is scholarly accurate. Most of the WPP monks probably do not speak English. Even those that do will not have read works on Mahayana or Buddhist history. Most have never left Thailand, many probably never even been to the big city of Bangkok. They have grown up in a secluded environment. Many have been monks since their teens (or novices). Concepts of equality are alien to Thais – Thailand is a very hierarchical society.

    So it is understandable that they hold such narrow views.

    This doesn’t make it acceptable though.

  10. The transcript is incomplete, and conveniently omits all the parts where Ajahn Brahm is explaining his case in detail. Probably because they weren’t really listening in the first place, and everything he said seemed irrelevant to them then and still now. And that’s probably why Aj Brahm considered it better on balance to do the ordination discretely without discussing it first with the WPP Theras Council or WAM etc.

    • Would it be possible for someone to translate it fully? I think everyone deserves to hear both sides as completely as possible.

  11. Yes, what Bankei says is important to consider..
    It seems to me, reading this transcript of and this consequent recent – hysterical – press conference, supposedly on behalf of WPP, that both actions are under the sway of a more extremist agenda. Ajahn Liem has not been sufficiently educated about the larger circumstances of the West, certainly the imperative regards gender equity in Australia was hardly given any serious investigation or weight by the elders in this meeting. Also, unlike the report from the WAM, where it said that there was no choice but to delist AB’s monastery, in fact it seems that Ajahn Liem was at first willing to ‘let it be’ – if AB didn’t ordain any more Bhikkhunis – which AB agreed to do. However, it is clear from the transcript that there were those who just wouldn’t ‘let it be’ and wanted to push further to this expulsion.
    Furthermore it is very unlikely that Western Forest Sangha monks would align themselves with the agenda of this recent press conference which makes clear the intention to try and take control of all Western monasteries. I believe the monks in the West would not wish to engage such an extreme agenda, I imagine that there would be many in both WPP that wouldn’t either. It’s clearly a totally ridiculous and over-reactive suggestion.
    It is unfortunate that we don’t, as yet, hear more moderate voices from senior Western FS monks, however even with the absence of that, it seems important to not unwittingly be manipulated by extremists, giving them undue power to further split long standing friendships and years of sharing dharma between all communities within the FS Western monasteries. I feel that these recent edicts from ‘the top’ don’t represent the wisest part of the tradition, they represent those that are motivated by fear and who desire control.
    Part of that wisdom is the experience of the Siladhara who over 30 years have gained much experience in running a nuns’ community. To ordain is one thing, to live in healthy community is a whole other thing. The Siladhara have explored much regards learning to move beyond ‘internalised patriarchy and power down dynamics’ into a healthier model that works for women. (It is interesting that the transcript reveals that one of the concerns is that Bhikkhuni would be more senior to Siladhara which would be a problem for Siladhara. It reveals how much the male hierarchy projects their own dynamic and can’t conceive that there are other ways of being in communion beyond linear power structures.) As one Siladhara said in her previously posted letter, “Our Nuns’ Sangha has become very strong and beautiful and mature both in the individual practice as well as in our skills working in the relational field”. Maybe they have something really important to teach the monks!

    I’ve noticed, living and working in South Africa for 15 years, it’s much easier to make splits (after all the meeting that this transcript refers to is just a few hours) than to repair them. Generally these splits always carry much damage in their wake. I feel there’s much more consciousness in those that hold ‘middle ground’ than those pushing these agendas to create a schism within the Forest Sangha or those, as in the case of the Siladhara, who pushed forward the 5 points. It’s not too late to reconsider this reactivity we’ve all been caught in, to consider more compassionate and awakened ways forward. As lay people we have done what we can to register our deep concerns… I can only hope that those Elders, who have the power to choose the destiny of Ajahn Chah’s legacy, reconsider these recent proclamations and seek a middle way. A way forward more appropriate to the times we are in — of unprecedented global crisis — where pulling our weight together is much more expedient than splitting apart.

  12. Reading it I am reminded of the language used in Soviet and Chinese Communist show trials.

    In any case, what is the situation with regards to Bikkhunis in Sri Lanka? There is reference to nuns there but I have not seen any comments or information

  13. Was the meeting held in Issanese?
    If so, there are some serious issues regarding translation. That text looks suspiciously like a thai-speaker has tried to ‘get the gist’ of the lao dialect and not done very well… If it was spoken in ‘normal’ thai, that translation still doesn’t look grand to me.

  14. These monks are not very well educated in the history of Theravada Buddhism or they would not believe that Ven. Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta was the END of the tradition of bhikkhunis. The lineage she established went from Sri Lanka to China and has been brought back to Sri Lanka again.

    Full Ordination for Nuns Restored in Sri Lanka
    Ordination in Theravada Tradition
    By Ven. Ani Jutima

    Introduction:
    With the revival of full ordination of Nuns in Sri Lanka in the Theravada tradition, female from the Theravada countries have come to Sri Lanka to get their full ordination. In 2003, two females from Myanmar, Ven. Daw Seccavadi and Ven. Ayya Gunaseri, received their full ordination as Bhikkhuni in the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka. There is an open invitation for all females who wish to take ordination as Samaneri or Bhikkhuni Full ordination should contact Sakyadhita Training Centre
    Knowing what we know now, it is so important for female members of our community to receive full ordination, in Theravada tradition, in their quest to achieve the highest fruit of holiness.
    Full Ordination as Bhikkhuni in Theravada Tradition
    After a hiatus of one thousand years, Theravadin women once more have the opportunity to ordain as bhikkhunis and thus become full members of the Sangha. Traditionally the Sangha is composed of fully ordained nuns (bhikkhuni), fully ordained monks (bhikkhu), novice nuns (samanera), and novice monks (samanera).
    From the 3rd century BCE when King Ashoka’s son, Mahinda, and daughter. Sanghamitta, brought the ordination lineages of both monks and nuns from India to Sri Lanka, there was a long, proud history of male and female monasticism on this island.
    In the 11th century, as a result of war, drought and famine, both the monks’ and nuns’ orders died out in Sri Lanka. The bhikkhu order was revived within one generation by inviting a group of bhikkhus from Siam [Thailand] who fulfilled the requirements for giving bhikkhu ordination.
    However, as the bhikkhuni order did not exist in any other Theravada country, the requirement that a bhikkhuni receive her ordination from a group of ten bhikkhunis of ten years standing followed by a further ceremony presided over by monks could not be met. Thus the bhikkhuni lineage lapsed.
    Hence, since the beginning of the 11th century, women wishing to commit themselves to the renunciation life have had only one option: ten lay precepts. Even the ten precepts of a samaneri have been denied them, since in the Theravada tradition these can be given only by a bhikkhuni. The status of these ten precept nuns, known a Dasa Sil Matas (literally Ten Precept Mothers), is ambiguous; they are considered neither proper monastics nor lay women either.(1)
    The situation in the other Theravada countries is even more difficult. It seems that in Thailand and Cambodia there never were bhikkhunis, and although they were possibly present in Burma at one time, there too the lineage did not survive. In modern times, Burma has nuns with the ten lay precepts who, like the Dasa Sil Matas in Sri Lanka, are not thought to be true nuns. In Thailand and Cambodia, even the ten lay precepts are denied women, and the nuns there are restricted to eight precepts with a corresponding diminishment of status.(2)
    Thus the four-fold community of fully ordained nuns, fully ordained monks, lay women and lay men, which the Buddha clearly declared was integral to the success of the Buddhadhamma, has been absent from all Theravada countries for one thousand years.
    Recently, however, after extensive research by a group of women from Sri Lanka and Europe, it was confirmed that the bhikkhuni lineage extant in Taiwan and Korea is actually of Sri Lankan origin and therefore could legitimately be used to ordain Theravada nuns and restore the bhikkhuni order.
    Although I received novice ordination in the Tibetan tradition in 1993, being in my heart a Theravadin and having a long association with the Thai forest tradition, I decided recently to go to Sri Lanka to receive the samaneri vows of the Theravada vinaya school.(3) It was a very happy experience for me, and I came away deeply impressed with the situation that is developing there—impressed with the bhikkhunis and samaneris I met, and inspired by the impact the female sangha is having on their society.
    Since the first ordination of Sri Lankan bhikkhunis in 1996, which was conducted in Sarnath, India by Korean monks and nuns, there have been further ordination ceremonies in Bodh Gaya and in Sri Lanka. There are now over 200 fully ordained nuns as well as many novice nuns who are planning to receive the higher ordination, which they are eligible to do after having kept their samaneri vows for two years.
    Behind this amazing resurgence is an organization called Sakyadhita, Daughters of the Buddha, which was established at a conference of Buddhist women held in Bodh Gaya in 1987. Since then there have been six Sakyadhita conferences, including one held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1993. At the time of that conference there was strong opposition from the religious authorities of Sri Lanka even to placing the topic of bhikkhuni ordination on the agenda. However as an outgrowth of that conference, and from the exposure the Dasa Sil Matas have had to fully ordained nuns from other traditions, the aspiration to revive the Theravada bhikkhuni lineage was born. With careful negotiation over several years and the eventual support of prominent members of the (male) monastic community, the situation changed completely.
    It has been said before that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
    Much of the vision and energy for the project has come from Mrs. Ranjani de Silva, who attended the first Sakyadhita conference in Bodh Gaya, has been its President since 1995, and who conceived and organized the 3rd conference in Colombo.
    During my visit to Sri Lanka I stayed at the Sakyadhita Training Centre established at Panadura, south of Colombo. At the Centre regular programmes are organized for the nuns on such topics as community health care, counseling skills and social development. Nuns come from small nunneries all over the island to attend these training sessions; they seem to be motivated by a strong desire to be of practical benefit in their communities. There are also young nuns attending university where they are studying Pali language, Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist history and other related topics.
    In addition to providing the facilities for these training programmes, the Centre is ‘home’ to seven nuns, and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to spend time with them. Some of them are doing university studies, and the older, educated nuns teach. Neighbourhood children come for Dhamma classes; local people, often women, come to talk, to receive advice, or to participate in the evening puja.
    On three occasions during my brief stay we were invited out to family homes for the daily meal. Two of these were anniversaries of family deaths, and the senior nuns conducted all the necessary ceremonies with confidence and dignity. In the past it would have been monks fulfilling these functions, so it is significant that some families are now choosing to invite nuns to officiate instead.
    For me, however, it is the third invitation that is the most memorable. It came from a rather poor family living just down the lane near the Sakyadhita Centre. When the Centre was first built and the nuns began living there, the husband, known in the neighbourhood as an abusive drunkard who terrorized his family, was deeply hostile to the presence of the nuns. I was told that if he discovered his wife or three young daughters had visited the nuns, they were beaten. And there we were, two years later, being offered a meal by the whole family, sober husband included, in their living room. The reverence, the delight and the quiet pride were palpable.
    Ranjani de Silva has extended an invitation to Theravada women everywhere who want to ordain to contact her, and she will do whatever she can to help. She can be contacted at:

    Sakyadhita Training Centre
    115/2A Sri Dhammananda Mawatha
    Gorakana, Panadura
    SRI LANKA
    or by email: ranjani@eureka.lk

  15. iMeditation mentioned above that there were discrepancies in the chronology regarding bhikkhuni ordination, one of them being Ananda ordaining 20 years after the Buddha’s Enlightenment. Can the source of this be quoted? My understanding is that Ven Ananda became the Buddha’s personal secretary 20 years after the Enlightenment, but he had been a monk in the 2nd year after the Enlightenment (Narada: The Buddha and His Teachings). So when Pajapati Gotami asked for ordination 5 years after the Enlightenment, there is no discrepancy.

  16. Dear Ajahn Sujato, something totally different, I just have a question about the suttas. I’m reading the Itivuttaka. The intro said it’s sayings remembered by a lay woman disciple. Do other traditions of Buddhism also have the Itivuttaka? Can we be confident that the itivuttaka was sayings of the Buddha? It’s suttas from the nikayas right? They are so inspiring so I do wish they are from the BUddha:) I love reading these. They are straight to the point and profound. My question to you is how is it that the itivuttaka is part of the nikayas? It seems very different from the other suttas which were memorized by monks no? Weren’t the suttas rehearsed during one of the first meetings of the 500 arahants and Ananda? So how is it that these are recorded by a lay woman disciple? Thanks for the historic background and confirmation that they are from the Buddha. It’s very interesting to know the background of this. The intro by J. Ireland says that she was a stream winner and she repeated the discourses to all the women in the palace and they became followers of the Buddha as well:)🙂 how lovely!
    happy new year and all the best:)

    • Dear Dania,

      The Itivuttaka is a fascinating collection, with it’s extraordinary story of origins and potent collection of great Dhamma. It is included in the Pali Khuddaka Nikaya, and like most of the books in that collection, it is a genuine early Buddhist scripture, but one that lies slightly outside the mainstream.

      The term Itivuttaka is found in the standard lists of 9 or 12 ‘angas’, that is, parts of the early, pre-tipitaka, canon. It’s anyone’s guess whether the existing text is the one referred to in the angas. My hunch is it’s not; the word Itivuttaka is very similar to terms such as ‘Itihāsa’, which mean ‘history, legend, tales of the past’. I suspect that the original Itivuttaka was maybe some of the legendary Suttas, or perhaps pre-Buddhist sayings that were incorporated into Buddhism. While the term Itivuttaka is mentioned in lists of the other traditions, I’m not aware that there is an actual Itivuttaka text.

      Formally, the Itivuttaka is an Anguttara-style text, and it is probable that many of its Suttas are found in one way or another in the non-Pali collections, even if not gathered together in the same form. I’m not aware of detailed work on this point.

      As for the origin story, it is so unusual that I suspect it may be true. It is hardly likely that the monks would have invented a story that implied they had forgotten their scriptures and had to learn them from a group of laywomen!

  17. “This plot [of yours] was a ten year plan; a plan to destroy the Buddhist religion. I have been to many spots and I can tell one from another. And i can tell what you are doing fits right into the plot. You have been roused through many different methods to destroy Buddhism.”

    Before I read this accusation, I did try to understand why some WPP monks have been doing what they have been doing, and have done my best to foster metta towards them, but ‘a plan to destroy Buddhism’! This is too wild an accusation!

    If such an accusation was actually said by a WPP monk, I hope that other wiser monks would kindly warn that monk to be more mindful about the fourth precept.

    • Dear Dheerayupa

      With holy companions like this monk who needs enemies? Sitting crossed legged in a lotus position hurling such outrageous accusations at Ajahn Brahm would destroy Wat Pah Pong in quick time instead.

  18. Bankei :
    It is amazing how ignorant these Thai monks are of Buddhist history and Buddhism in general. But it is probably understandable. They are forest monks and are not well read, even in Theravada Buddhism. There would not be much written in Thai that discusses history of Buddhism or Mahayana in a way that is scholarly accurate. Most of the WPP monks probably do not speak English. Even those that do will not have read works on Mahayana or Buddhist history. Most have never left Thailand, many probably never even been to the big city of Bangkok. They have grown up in a secluded environment. Many have been monks since their teens (or novices). Concepts of equality are alien to Thais – Thailand is a very hierarchical society.
    So it is understandable that they hold such narrow views.
    This doesn’t make it acceptable though.

    Bankei’s comment is a timely reminder of where we stand as an emerging international community of sincere, engaged, enquiring and informed Buddhist practitioners.

    We are on the cusp of a quantum leap. But it is a leap that we all know very well. It is that move that we all need to make as we grow from childhood, to adolescence to adulthood. In the first stage, our parents are like gods. In the second, we question, are disappointed, enraged and hurt. In the third, we accept our parents as human beings, and are able to love them even more for it.

    The relationship is no longer a solely vertical relationship, but nor is the relationship a mere two-dimensional flatland. Rather, the relationship becomes multi-dimensional, complex, rich and full, fertile soil for the development of dispassion, compassion and direct knowledge.

    And so we go through these same stages in our relationship with the elders.

    I am, personally, reluctant to call on others to ‘move on’ as I am reluctant to call on others to ‘hold the line’. After all, each and every person goes through their own process in their own time. Our community is complex. There is a tendency of mind to mistake the views of one or a view, especially if they are outspoken or well-express or in power, as the general view of the community.

    But it is excellent that we can all share this space, able to (on the whole) maturely engage the fact that we’re all in a different place. By being here, sharing and discussing as was recommended to us for the development of right view by Sariputta (along with virtue, learning, serenity and insight) in the Mahavedalla Sutta (MN 43), we support each other to drop fear of imperfection, and to more fully accept the fact that this is a process – sometimes hard, sometimes joyful.

    By listening deeply – mindful of reactivity, mindful of craving others to be where we happen to be – we are reminded of where we may have been in the past, more fully able to understand where we may be now, and given a vision of where we may go in the future – right or wrong.

    I really love this forum. It’s strange. I would have thought that non-face-to-face spaces would make me feel more heady and less hearty. But, I have discovered that I have been able to express myself here about things, and in ways that can’t be done anywhere else, and have learnt so much about the Dhamma as a lived reality for other practitioners. I’ve learnt a lot about accepting myself and accepting others. And makes me feel close to the community here.

    >jj<

    • Sadhu Anagarika Jason,
      Well said on the growing up part (and all things as you so thoughtfully and sincerely share) It has been trauma counselling of sorts. I too am grateful to remain connected to at least part of a Sanghakaya.

  19. Being there must have been like trying to headbutt ones way through a dense stone wall of ignorance, so many nonfactual, out of touch utterances…

    Taking things to their logical conclusion, one must conclude that there is a WPP ‘house rule’, that a WPP Monk must not acknowledge the legitimacy of a Bhikkhuni, otherwise what they asked Brahm to do was extremely unreasonable. (unless they truly believed it was actually within Brahm’s power to recant the acceptance – but I don’t think this is the case, I think they just wanted him to say it wasn’t valid (whether it was or not) in order to sow doubt and wavering in his following)

    This ‘house rule’ probably wrecks havoc with Vinaya, I don’t think there’s an allowance for arbitrarily deciding that some person is actually not a Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni. In fact with numerous rules it is explicitly made clear that perception is not a (mitigating) factor. If a person actually is a Bhikkhu, then whether one perceives them as a Bhikkhu or perceives them as a non-Bhikkhu, either way the offense is the same. Same goes for Bhikkhuni’s.
    This is interesting, because it implies that in accordance with Vinaya, there is a state of being a Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni which is independent of and ‘above’ any individuals or even groups perception. If this is the case, and if the women are properly ordained, then ANYONE who claims they are not is actually wrong, they are suffering a perception failure and to treat them as mere laywomen would be a recipe for trouble.

    I don’t see it being permissible under Vinaya to refuse to recognize a woman as a Bhikkhuni just because some local law or custom doesn’t recognize the validity of Bhikkhuni’s, surely this is a case where the Vinaya actually takes precedence.

  20. The WPP monks talk alot about preserving Ajahn Chah’s heritage and teachings – now would be a very good time for someone to unearth something Ajahn Chah actually said regarding ordaining women, so perhaps rather than preserving what they perceive there’s something more concrete to look into.

  21. Dee :
    The WPP monks talk alot about preserving Ajahn Chah’s heritage and teachings – now would be a very good time for someone to unearth something Ajahn Chah actually said regarding ordaining women, so perhaps rather than preserving what they perceive there’s something more concrete to look into.

    Maybe the WPP should try to preserve the Buddha’s heritage?

    • Well this is the thing, was Ajahn Chah’s teachings far removed from those of the Buddha?

      Considering how he is remembered by his disciples and those who had the good fortune to meet him, it makes me wonder if the WPP aren’t preserving the real lineage just as they aren’t preserving the spirit of the Buddha’s teachings. Instead they appear to be getting caught up in Thai culture and politics which really don’t have anything to do with the Dharma.

      If they’re truly causing all this harm because they believe the greater good lies in preserving their teacher’s lineage, maybe they should ask themselves what Ajahn Chah would have done had this occured during his lifetime. Those who knew him well would perhaps know the answer better, but I would hope he would have sided with compassion rather than politics and culture. WWACD?

    • Hmmm. That was meant to go under Belle’s “Dear Bhante, What isn’t what?” but it didn’t quite work.

      Ho hum.

    • 🙂 Thanks David – got it all the same !
      And the Ho Hum , sounds like Winnie the Pooh.

      May we all keep returning to our light.

    • Well, Jason said: “What is WWACD?” and I said “What isn’t?” (WWACD = whacked, get it?). That was not all that much and then it all got separated and then turned into this bit of meaninglessness that you see before you. Please resume real life now and let’s all pretend nothing happened.

    • Sorry I was being a bit whimsical: WWJD translated as What Would Jesus Do into What Would Ajahn Chah Do.

      How would he have balanced Thai law and Sangha politics with women’s ordinations had the chance come up within his lifetime? I know the question should be what would the Buddha have done – given his blessing I’m certain – but the WPP seem to be talking about preserving his lineage at all costs, would just be nice if they actually thought about what Ajahn Chah would have done from what is known about him.

  22. Dee :
    but I would hope he would have sided with compassion rather than politics and culture. WWACD?

    To be fair to them, it’s not as simple a matter as compassion vs. non-compassion.

    Wisdom combined with compassion sometimes requires doing ‘tough’ things that are really for the overall long-term mutual benefit, but are not what one or either side wants/ thinks they want.

    E.g. I would have proposed and supported ukkhepaniya-kamma (approx. equivalent to excommunication) or declaring nanasamvasa (different communions) against the monks who treat Thai tradition as legitimate apart from conformity with Dhamma-Vinaya and effectively “acknowledge another Teacher” long ago, preferably before the disease could get anything like this widespread. Going along with whatever people want is not always really the most compassionate thing for the long-term.

    Acts of cutting off from the community in various forms and stages are what all the serious punishments in Vinaya are about, and I don’t think there’s really any grounds for doubt that that feature goes back to the Buddha, and before the Buddha to the ancient pre-Buddhist secular gana-sanghas (tribal headless communities) -all based on voluntary membership and social contract morality. The question is not whether there should be an explicit division between the two (or more) communities, but which community has the correct view and practice of Dhamma-Vinaya, i.e. which one is authentically the “Buddhist” one, if either really are.

    • A line from a personal statement about the expulsion on the Dhammalight website:

      “7. To establish one’s mind with the thought, “May fellow practitioners in this holy life, well established in morality, come to this place. May those here already live happily.”

      It seems from that, that WPP ‘should’ be encouraging women, otherwise they should change their seventh condition to read ‘May fellow ‘male’ practitioners…’ etc

      I just feel this whole issue is about WPP not wanting to stand up to the Thai authorities and really nothing about preserving lineages or even the Vinaya, although from past experiences with the Thai governing rules on Buddhism maybe they’re afraid if they go against the law they’ll be the ones accused of mismanaging this important lineage and other, more pro-Thai Sangha ajahns brought in to replace them.

      Rock and a hard place, but no excuse to treat Ajahn Brahm the way they have. The whole thing could have been done with a lot more compassion and a lot less witch hunting.

    • Yes, exactly. It could have been handled far more skillfully.

      After reading this transcript…

      Reading between the lines it seems that a few monks may have held personal grudges of some sort! Some of the very strange comments in this transcript seem to indicate this to me.

      However, it also seems that the Thai WPP and the western WPP are approaching this from somewhat different angles. Are they properly communicating this to each other I wonder? Accounts of the recent activity on Dhammalight.com seem to confirm.

      You know, I spent the New Years Eve and New Years Day hanging out at Dhammaloka – BSWA’s city centre and after re-connecting there (it was the biggest New Year’s Eve crowd ever) I really feel so much more at peace about all this…

      Its just time to move on…

      Í’ll be continuing to support both Bhikkus and Bhikkunis and I think I’m starting to see my way towards forgiving WPP… Afterall, I too am capable of holding the odd grudge and I too am capable of acting through ignorance and behaving like a now-it-all; and every time I would love to be forgiven.

      I’m still sad that the Enlightened beings in the WPP Sangha have not been exposed to this issue in a clearer manner…at least this is what I am assuming. Or else they have and no-one has politely pestered them to act. Or else they’ve just chosen to stay out of it…fair enough. I still respect and honour them so much.

      A few weeks ago I was really upset about all this. Especially about the split. But sadly, after witnessing the recent events – press conference etc – I feel that it really is time to move on. As forgivable as these actions are…we cannot have a pragmatic hope that bridges can be built with people who seem to be seeking ‘harmony’ through control, hierarchy, tradition and a heartbreaking brand of deafness. I ask their forgiveness if I have got them all wrong…this is just how it seems to me.

      Moving on with happiness… I reckon the Dhamma’s going to flower here and in other places too… May you all prosper in the Dhamma. Metta

  23. Anagrika wrote: “It may or may not be true that the Buddha travelled with only bhikkhus. As a general principal, we should not believe everything we read, even if they are in the suttas. Even if it is true that the Buddha only travelled with bhikkhus, the suttas ..”

    In 4th Council: Committing the Tipitka in Writing –

    “At the end of this Council, the texts along with the Attha-kathas(commentaries) were inscribed on ola palm leaves and the scriptures were thoroughly checked and rechecked to ensure their authenticity. This was how the three Pitakas were preserved.A visit to Aloka Cave will certainly evoke a deep sense of gratitude to the Sangha for their wisdom and compassion in authenticating and documenting the Buddha’s teachings for future generations. Thanks to the foresight and indefatigable efforts of these great Elders, there is no room either now or in the future for self-styled “progressive monks or scholars” to adulterate the pure Teaching”.

    “The zeal and dedication of the ancient theras in the learning of the canonical texts without missing a single word is illustrated by the following story. After he had learnt the Budda’s words from the Elder Dhammarakkhita of Yona country in India, the Elder Tissa, took leave to return to Ceylon. While traveling to the port to board a ship to sail home, he had some doubts regarding a certain verse in the Tipitka, so he retraced the journey back to his teacher in order to remove his doubt before his teacher. In this way, it should be understood how very difficult a task it was to bear in mind, the canonical texts without missing a single word. And whatever they could not learn by heart, they preserved by way of study, remembrance and the like, in order that it might neither disappear nor be confused.In this way, for a long time since the First Council, the succession of great Elders handed down the canonical texts even orally.”

    This can only mean one thing, namely, that the Buddha’s true teachings have been preserved in its pristine form in the Pali Canon. For this we are indebted to the religious zeal, dedication and prodigious memory of the ancient monks (Theras) in preserving, propagating and perpetuating the Teachings of the Buddha, from his Mahaparinibbana till the present day.

    Extracts(Primary cause of schism) –
    “Some scholars have theorized that the Vaisalians wanted a certain amount of latitude and freedom in the interpretation and observance of the rules and to introduce into their organization and general governance a democratic spirit, which was gradually disappearing from the Sangha. The exclusive power and privileges, which the Arahants had claimed were looked upon with distrust and disfavour by the Vaisalians, who preferred a democratic rule to a monarchial government. The claim of the Arahants to become the exclusive members of the important Councils and to arrive at decision, which were binding on non Arahants could not appeal to the Vajjians – a clan imbued with a democratic spirit.”

    • Amazing memories some folk have,
      Some monastics of yore.
      But not all…
      For even today they have shown,
      How to forget,
      Their friends, nevermind their foe.
      Even today they have forgot,
      the words the Buddha spoke,
      those about monks helping nuns,
      in keeping the Sasana secure.

  24. Buddhist Group wrote: “This can only mean one thing, namely, that the Buddha’s true teachings have been preserved in its pristine form in the Pali Canon.”

    Venerable Bhikkhu Analayo wrote “allow me to propose that in approaching the scriptures of the Pāli canon for guidance and orientation, we need to be aware of the fact that this material is the final product of a prolonged period of oral transmission and thus may not always fully reflect the original.1 The possibility cannot a priori be excluded that views, which were not part of the original delivery of a discourse or a rule, could have influenced the canonical material as we have it now. This does not mean that the Pāli canon can no longer provide guidance and orientation. But it does mean that during the centuries of oral transmission, material that at first perhaps arouse in the form of a commentary (where the reciters would have felt free to express personal opinions) could have become part of what now is considered canonical.”

    And that ” Regarding the overall attitude towards nuns in early Buddhism, I think it stands beyond doubt that an order of nuns was in existence, and from that I would conclude that the Buddha approved of its existence.13 To this we may add a range of passages that express a very positive attitude towards nuns and value their important contributions to the Dhamma.” – http://www.bhikkhuni.net/Analayo%20Bhikkhu.html

    • Here, ven Analayo is being highly cautious and diplomatic. In fact, as he is well aware, there are many different versions of the early teachings in existence. There is no certain means of verifying the authority of any of these scriptures. Statements such as those presented by Buddhist Group are simply the claims made by one interest group. The course of history is far more complex, nuanced, interesting – and realistic.

      Careful study of the historical situation is a huge task, and one that is far from complete. Yet we can say with some certainty that all Buddhist scriptures are the outcome of a substantial process of editorial redaction. In general, comparative study, in which field Ven Analayo is the leading scholar today, reveals that the doctrinal content of the Suttas is fairly consistent, while the background, setting, and narrative material was treated with a greater degree of flexibility. While the Pali canon, as the only extant complete early canon in an Indic language, will always retain a special historical importance, it is not perfect, nor is it a complete record of early Buddhist texts. Cases are not infrequent where the readings in one or other non-Pali texts are to be preferred to the Pali. We can expect a greater than usual degree of editorial bias in areas that evoke great emotion, or have political implications; bhikkhuni ordination being a prime example.

  25. Lisa Karuna :
    Oh dear. I think it is time to retire myself from the blogs.
    I ask everyone’s forgiveness especially MMOB.

    Nah, Lisa. You’re cool. Stick around.

    >j<

  26. Well, I have been overwhelmed with life and not attentive to my practice. “Cool” needs to translate into “chai yen”!

    On another note, Bhante, do you know if a monk or a nun is considered an occupation? Here is a snippet from the ILO Declaration

    The General Conference of the International Labour Organisation,

    Having been convened at Geneva by the Governing Body of the International Labour Office, and having met in its Forty-second Session on 4 June 1958…..

    Considering that the Declaration of Philadelphia affirms that all human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity, and

    Considering further that discrimination constitutes a violation of rights enunciated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

    adopts this twenty-fifth day of June of the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight the following Convention, which may be cited as the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958:

    Article 1

    1. For the purpose of this Convention the term discrimination includes–

    (a) any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation;

    (yes, 1958. More than 50 years ago…sigh…)

    • Dear Lisa,

      yes, being a monk or nun is an occupation. Of course, it is also much more than that. But for legal and other purposes it is treated as an occupation like any other.

  27. Thera: “That is your business, but if you don’t have the ability to control them, can you consider yourself their Ajahn, or not? As we are [part of the] administrative hierarchy [of this] lineage, we must excercise the chain of command…”

    Eeew, that’s army-speak, not teacher-speak.

    Loung Por Liem: “ … You can go ahead and do your job over there, and over here we will continue to not agree with it.” That seems fair and actually admirably pragmatic for all concerned, given the entrenched positions. Why can’t they stick at that?

  28. Buddhist Group :

    Extracts(Primary cause of schism) –
    “Some scholars have theorized that the Vaisalians wanted a certain amount of latitude and freedom in the interpretation and observance of the rules and to introduce into their organization and general governance a democratic spirit, which was gradually disappearing from the Sangha. The exclusive power and privileges, which the Arahants had claimed were looked upon with distrust and disfavour by the Vaisalians, who preferred a democratic rule to a monarchial government. The claim of the Arahants to become the exclusive members of the important Councils and to arrive at decision, which were binding on non Arahants could not appeal to the Vajjians – a clan imbued with a democratic spirit.”

    Hi Buddhist Group,

    Can you refer me to the source of this quote? I can’t be conclusive from excerpt alone, but it appears from the language used that the writer is sympathetic with the Vaisalians, which s/he associates with ‘democratic spirit’.

    >j<

    • ” The claim of the Arahants to become the exclusive members of the important Councils and to arrive at decision, which were binding on non Arahants could not appeal to the Vajjians – a clan imbued with a democratic spirit.”
      ——————-
      Can we really say that the Council members consist entirely of Arahants these days. If no , then is it acurate to still speak in terms of Arahants vs. Non arahants.

  29. sujato :

    Also, not all Australians love drinking beer

    True, but quite a lot of us do. Mind you, we don’t like to kill each other, so that’s got to count for something.

    Thanks Bhante. What we need now is a statistical analysis of the amount of bbq prawns consumed per capita per year according to nationality.

    >j<

  30. Buddhist Group :

    Why not? It is a double blessing. The 4 Bhikkunis could now maintain their Bhikkhunis status albeit Mahayana Bhikkunis, and could now carry out their mission as anxiously aspired by them.

    If the choice is to be a Mahayana Bhikkhuni or be a maichee/siladhara under the WPP which is closer to the Islamic way of treating women these days then there is little doubt what most women will opt for!

    Buddhist Group :

    The Theravada tradition is strictly following the Vinaya of the Buddha, it is objective and not subjective. After enlightenment, Buddha did not go scrambling building hospitals out of compassion(clearly subjective), but his objective was to achieve Nibbana (clearly objective).Of course, Buddha had already cultivated his immaculate compassion in his countless previous lifes. Namo Buddhaya.

    If this is the case WPP should not have any problem with the ordination of women as no one so far has been able to prove that the recent ordinations are violating the Vinaya rules!

    You obviously have not read the Buddha’s life story. What do you think the Buddha did for 45 years after his enlightenment? He did not just sit under a tree all those years doing a dhamma talk once a day – he did spend most of his time helping ‘ordinary’ people and not just bhikkhus and bhikkhunis (yes, bhikkhunis too). There are plenty of books on Buddha’s life story (I am sure Bhante Sujato can recommend you a good one) – they reveal the real human side of the Buddha which most have forgotten about.

  31. Dear Aj Sujato and all dhamma friends,

    I’ve read the Thai version on the alittlebuddha, and found that even for a Thai, it’s not easy to truly fully understand the meanings of several statements (though their intentions are apparently clear). Many remarks are fragments, logically open to interpretationthus as well as misunderstandings.

    It’s thus not an easy task for the translator. However, I would like to point out a tiny non-essential misinterpretation of the translator:

    ““This is similar to the case of [ex-monk and Prime Minister] Phra Kugrit Pramot who said that he wanted to chant 150 as opposed to the 227 [precepts of the Bhikkhu Patimokkha]. He insisted on 150. Therefore we excommunicated him.”

    The script only reads ‘Phra Kugrit’, not Kugrit Pramot. Phra Kugrit, a 47-year-old former army officer, was ordained into the WPP Sangha after Ajahn Chah’s death. He is now an abbot at Wat Na Pah Pong monastery in a town north of Bangkok http://www.watnapahpong.org/AboutMe.aspx. He started changing 150 precepts 8 years ago.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      I guess from what the WPP monk said, the monk named Kugrit was excommunicated.

      My post was to point out that there was a non-essential mistake made by the translator who kindly added extra information for readers; unfortunately, the translator may not have been aware that there is a monk whose name is similar to a Thai former prime minister’s.

      I just happened to know this because I met that monk during my search for a good monastery near home.

      Unfortunately, unlike you, I cannot find a monastery as good as the one near your house. 🙂

      Yours,

    • So then its possible for there to have been some misinterpretation?

      But I wonder what Santisuda will say? I wonder if she and other reporters have their own audio recordings of the press confenrence?

    • Dear Kanchana,

      I haven’t had time to compare the Thai and the English translation versions of the transcript of the WPP meeting, but my overall impression is that they do not differ much except the extra information the translator added about Phra Kugrit.

      I would like to point out that the Thai transcript on alittlebuddha.org consists of many linguistic fragments, not good complete sentences, which makes it difficult for the translator.🙂

      Regarding the press conference held by WPP monks, the Thai newspapers did not misinterpret Phra Khru Opas.

      From my experience working in an office dealing with media, when an organisation holds a press conference, they usually prepare for the media a press release consisting of the background information of the issue and a prepared speech.

      The contents of the news articles on both Thai Rath and Daily News appeared to be more rather than less the same. The only logical conclusion that we can draw is that the reporters wrote the article based on the written press release given to them by the monks who held the press conference.

      I believe that Khun Sanitsuda must have both the press release and the recordings of the event.

  32. This whole episode has been quite instructive to me about my ex Catholicism and pro Buddhist leanings, and why Secular Humanism is so good. Buddhism gives me a lot, from all of its traditions, but can I call myself a Buddhist? Probably not.

    • Ben, I am with you … I have found it beneficial to investigate the influences the “form” of Bhuddism exerts on my spiritual development… Certainly there are times (especially in this tradition as a woman; but for other reasons, like occasional experiences of attachment to my teachers or trying too hard or disappointment in the Sangha) when I need to step back from the form for a while. My stepping back from “identity” with my branch monasteries – in my mind – has been a great release of sorts and has provided some much needed oxygen and flow of positive energy…
      My grandparents founded one of the first Unitarian Churches in a large Western city. Admittedly, lately I have been thinking about gravitating to a less rigid “form”… I have dabbled in earlier studies in the history of many faiths and find interfaith activities (discussions around similarities, attending others ceremonies to observe, learn from them and celebrate the joy of their form. I feel at home in many faiths- to a certain extent) to be a great release and source of joy … I felt today like saying my path is to love and my Sangha is the world…but then… that only works for a while…but its a shedding of the forms…

  33. Dhammalight says:

    “Although this matter has been cleared up within the Thai press, it seems that the article in English has stirred up and agitated Western readers. This has been caused by some misrepresentations of the events of the press conference and the editorial language used in the article. Wat Nong Pah Pong feels that it is best to clear up these misunderstandings.

    The article says that the Thai Sangha “want the properties of Thai temples in the West to come under the ownership of the Thai Sangha to ensure complete control.” In reality, Wat Nong Pah Pong stated in the press conference that it had no power in which to retake ownership of Bodhinyana Monastery, even if the land on which it was built on was initially offered to Ajahn Chah (Bodhinyana Thera) and Wat Nong Pah Pong.”
    ………………

    By accusing the English article (written by Khun Sanitsuda on the Bangkok Post) of misrepresenting the events at the press conference, Dhammalight was obviously trying really hard to appease English-speaking communities without respecting the truth. I’m saying this because it’s not only the English-language newspaper The Bangkok Post but also the Thai-language newspapers which reported that Phra Kru Opas said:

    “(I or the WPP sangha -> the subject was omitted as very common of the Thai language) want the Council of Elders and the Office of National Buddhism to find ways to bring the land of the Bodhiyana monastery to come under the ownership of Wat Nong Pah Pong because the said land was donated to Luang Phu Chah by Buddhists in Australia while he was visiting Perth.”

    So, if readers were to believe that what Dhammalight claimed was true, they had to presume that ‘all’ reporters at the Press Conference misunderstood and misquoted Phra Kru Opas.

    References:
    1. Thai Rath – Page 1 and 11 on the hard copy dated December 29 (http://www.thairath.co.th/today/view/55702)
    2. Daily News – Page 14 on the hard copy dated December 29 (http://www.dailynews.co.th/newstartpage/printmode.cfm?categoryid=38&contentid=39984).

    • Dear Dheerayupa,

      thank you for this information.

      How are the Thai versions address the alleged mismanagement of Bodhinyana by Ajahn Brahm and the statements of -if not stopped – getting bikkhunis everywhere?

      Are these points explicitly mentioned or omitted from the Thai papers?

      Thank you🙂
      with metta,
      A.

    • Yes, both the Thai-language papers – Thai Rath and Daily News – reported that Phra Khu Opas said that Phra Visutthisangvarathera (Aj Brahm) has changed BSWA’s rules and regulations as well as its committee for his own interest to manage Bodhiyana monastery. However, since WPP has already delisted Bodhiyana as a branch monastery, WPP cannot do anything; therefore, it wants to ask the Council of Elders and the Office of National Buddhism to find ways to bring the land of the Bodhiyana…

      The papers, however, did not report Phra Khru Opas’s statement that without further action, we will have Bhikkhunis everywhere.

      With metta,

      Dheerayupa🙂

    • Dheerayupa,

      You are a treasure!!! Thank goodness you are in Thailand and are Thai speaking/reading!!!

      It would seem then that the monks at Dhammalight are telling…untruths…didn’t want to use the ‘L’ word!

      May be they think that there aren’t people in Thailand or elsewhere who can read English and Thai. Or maybe they haven’t read the Thai papers since they probably haven’t created as much of a storm??

      Poor things…I feel sorry for the mess they have got themselves into…I really mean this. Its a big fall, to fall from a high place…I hope they land into forgiveness.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      My sentiments exactly. I now feel really sorry for them and hope that their good kamma will salvage them from further breaking more precepts or committing whatever conduct unbecoming of senior monks.

      With metta to all.
      dheerayupa

  34. DearAjahn,

    Pondering…
    In the first place, why did AB desperately proceed with his “plan” when he knew very well this would be his fate as a consequence? Is it, this was what he had been waiting for or exactly what he wanted it to happen, to give it right at WPP face and then to be on his own, as he was confident his many supporters would back him on this, or is it a personality problem?

    Thai theravada tradition and mostly all theravada Sangha is orthordox like the Catholic in Christianity. No one could change that.This is a democratic world, everyone is different (so accept that) and every one is at liberty to do what one likes and live with its consequences.

    Looks like now, we could all move on and if Ajahn is sincere in restoring harmony, Ajahn should shut down this blog to prevent further animosity amongst the Sangha and lay Buddhists, by criticizing one another that will not end, as each has its views and points and each could be bias in them.

    It is pointless to go on like this to “sensasonalize” the issue and make life miserable for all.In reality and it is human nature, that no one would admit that he or she is wrong or admit his or her mistake. We are all not Arahants yet, so the “I” & Ego still exist.

    During the Buddha’s time all the 60 disciples of Buddha were Arahants (by virtue of the eradication of greed, hatred and delusion have no interest in power or priviledges)and Buddha summoned them to spread (spread,not teach) the Dhamma Buddha Taught.

    Nowadays, how many Dhamma teachers are Arahants? Instead of spreading the Dhamma taught by the Sammasambuddha, some of them tend to teach (sometimes own teachings according to their own understandings)rather than spread the Buddha’s Dhamma as per the Tipitaka (any teacher would take more than one lifetime to finish the Tipitaka if he/she imparts the Dhamma from the Tipitaka).

    We are all brothers & sisters in the Dhamma. Any dispute should be dealt with Buddhistically by establishing a platform for it, like previously the Buddha’s disciple Rev. Kassapa used to do by convening the First Council & so on to unanimously resolve any dispute in the Dhamma/Buddha’s Teachings.

    This is a Sangha problem and it should be dealt with or resolved by the Sangha and should not involved the innocent public for one-sided views and opinions to champion any individual or group cause or mission, as the public has no full background or account of the issue /agenda, and this only serves to provoke one another and to make matter worse.

    If all of us care for the Buddha-Sassana, please stop all these “nonsense” and get back to life and leave this issue to the Sangha to resolve amicably. We are all making enemies out of this. Ajarn, it is enough. If you are sincere in restoring harmony, it is time you shut down this blog before a flame becomes a fire by adding more fuel into the flame.

    Sokhihotu. Sadhu and Metta.

    • Dear Benjie,

      According to the reports on the press conference held by the WPP administrative committee [1. Thai Rath – Page 1 and 11 on the hard copy dated December 29 (http://www.thairath.co.th/today/view/55702) 2. Daily News – Page 14 on the hard copy dated December 29 (http://www.dailynews.co.th/newstartpage/printmode.cfm?categoryid=38&contentid=39984) 3. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/30214/monks-target-western-clergy%5D, it seems that it is some WPP monks who do not wish to stop.

      With metta,

      Dheerayupa

    • Hi Bhante (I know you’re in the next room but it’s kinda fun communicating this way) Benjie and all,

      Perhaps, out of compassion for Benjie and the many sincere practitioners out there that feel similar to him, we should give bhikkhunis a break as a topic for a week or two.

      After all, there’s always the Facebook page, if people want to keep up-to-date with the latest: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=153235999615&ref=ts

      I, for one, could do with a bit of brain-heart-exercise on a different topic.

      >j<

    • Benjie Wrote: “In the first place, why did AB desperately proceed with his “plan” when he knew very well this would be his fate as a consequence?”

      The over reaction from WPP was a complete surprise because the punishment was unwarranted. AB did not want to be separated from the monks he grew up with. At the meeting he said “ I do not want the Sangha to divide. I have lived here for nine years, although i was born in a foreign country. I still see the monks here as my brothers, and i really love them; therefore, as in a family, we have to listen to our brothers. Therefore, i accept. I am not looking for followers. I will not chant in the bhikkhunis affairs, unless the Venerable Sangha of Wat Pah Pong allows me to. In the future, if the Sangha at Wat Pah Pong changes, ten years from now, a 100 years from now, a 1000 years from now — in the future i will ask for the Sangha decision of Wat Nong Pah Pong? Is that right?”- Ajahn Brahm.

      2nd time:
      “…I have said this for the second time now, that i will stop unless i have permission from the Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong. In the future I will follow the decision of the Sangha of Wat Nong Pah Pong. Whatever is the decision of the Sangha at Wat Nong Pah Pong; i will always follow that. I am saying that i will stop; I will not give ordination to bhikkhunis again, unless the Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong changes their mind. If the Mahathera Samakhom in the future –10 years from now or 20 years from now — considers that they want to allow bhikkhunis in the Thai Theravada sect, then the Monastic Committee of Wat Nong Pah Pong will then follow, then I will ask for permission to do it again. Apart from that, i will not do it.”- – Ajahn Brahm

      3rd time :
      “I don’t understand. I already explained myself. I don’t understand what the problem is. I already said that I will stop.”- – Ajahn Brahm

      4th time:
      “I will follow the resolution of the Monastic Committee.”– Ajahn Brahm

      Unfortunately , a certain elder pushed for Ajahn Brahm to break the Vinaya rule or be excommunicated. After that, Ajahn Brahm even suggested that they should get together at the WAM for reconciliation and forgive each other. Also use that as a platform to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, it was refused.

      “I am speaking the truth. In brief, I do not want to step on the toes of other monks. If i have to say that the ordination is not real, then I cannot say that. But if the Monastic Committee thinks that I have to disaffiliate from being a branch, then I will accept that, because this is the truth. The truth is the truth. “- Ajahn Brahm

      To do what certain elder suggested him to do will be breaking a Vinaya rule. For that Ajahn Brahm can’t do. After trying his best to please the Council for awhile, Ajahn Brahm had to accept disaffiliation in resignation. A certain thera wouldn’t let it go unless he write a letter saying that the Bhikkhuni Ordination is invalid when it is not. That itself is a lie and according to pacittiya 63, he can’t knowingly nullify the validity of a sanghakamma that has been well carried out.

      He said that ” [such ordination] is according to Vinaya but it is not accepted in Thailand, but it is accepted in Australia.” Ajahn Brahm is able to accept that Bhikkhuni Ordination is not accepted in Thailand yet. But some monks can’t accept that it is accepted in Australia. Since Bhikkhuni Ordination is allowed by the Vinaya, and it is accepted in Australia, why don’t the monks involved accept that. Like you said ” this is a democratic world, everyone is different (so accept that) and every one is at liberty to do what one likes and live with its consequences.” Is it necessary for some monks to make other monasteries around the world anti-bhikkhuni also? If it is not in the Vinaya, then why must everyone follow this order? It is not in accordance with the Vinaya. Some people pay lip service to protecting the pristine Dhamma, but support those who are breaking the Vinaya. I can’t see how this is preserving the dhamma in its pristine form.

    • Dear iMeditation,

      Just to clarify the Vinaya here, pacittiya 63 says:

      63. Should any bhikkhu knowingly agitate for the reviving of an issue that has been rightfully dealt with, it is to be confessed.

      This is relevant for the monks asking for the ordination to be rejected, not for Ajahn Brahm.

      The important issue is not this rule as such, but the much more fundamental nature of sanghakamma. The very basis of sanghakamma is that it is an act performed by the Sangha as a whole within the given sima boundary. It is a corporate declaration, and cannot be undone by any individual monk or group of monks. To ask an individual to rescind an act of sanghakamma is to undo the point of the whole thing, which is that the Sangha, not individuals, makes decisions, with the Vinaya providing the framework. It is impossible under any circumstances. This is why the ordination is described as ‘akuppena ṭhānarahena’, ‘unbreakable and fit to stand’.

      The WPP meeting asked Ajahn Brahm to declare the ordination invalid and the bhikkhunis to be laywomen. This is like the Vatican asking Galileo to declare that the Earth does not revolve around the sun. After the meeting where he recanted his views in public, Galileo, as legend has it, muttered: ‘And yet it moves’. If Ajahn Brahm had shown himself to be so dishonest as to declare that the nuns were in fact laywomen, he may have muttered as he left the meeting: ‘And yet they are ordained.’

    • Dear Ajahn Sujato,

      Thanks for clarifying . So if someone is a nun or monk, others can’t just say that the person is not if they want to . If it is not allowable , then why did this particlar elder pressured Ajahn Brahm to do it.

      I understand the monks that asked for this ordination to be revoked violated pacitiya 63 because bhikkhuni ordination is in accordance with the vinaya.

      The ironic thing is Ajahn Brahm is the one being punished when others are the ones breaking the Vinaya. Worse, they are doing it in the name of preserving the pristine dhamma.

    • In my opinion, the fact that the Ajahns of WPP expected Ajahn Brahm to unilaterally declare a sanghakamma invalid is an example of the teacher-based system of the forest tradition. Essentially, what the Ajahn says is the Vinaya. We’ve seen throughout this that one of WPP’s primary concerns has been obedience to the Ajahns. To disagree with them implies that they may misunderstand the Vinaya. Hence the following exchange:

      Ven Brahmavamso:
      “This is very difficult because this is an issue of Vinaya. Because…”

      A Thera:
      “Now, now. We must take the decision of the Monastic Community, which is about unity, and which is about a united mind. If you still want to be one of our branch monasteries, you do not need to go so far as to speak about Vinaya. All of us here are senior monks and we all know the Vinaya well. So, just stay with this point.”

      Ajahn Brahm wants to discuss the Vinaya as something objective, a text which all can read equally, discuss and exchange reasonable opinions about. For WPP, Vinaya is something embodied in the tradition and the Ajahns.

    • Yes indeed Bhante,
      i found this aspect so very crucial in our understanding of what is going on too.
      I myself read this part you quote above, aloud…several times when i read the transcript, and i read it aloud incredulously.

      Thankyou

    • I found the “united mind” bit to be a bit creepy given what I understand now (and knowing that I was part of it). I hope it was in the translation.

    • Ajahn sujato :
      In my opinion, the fact that the Ajahns of WPP expected Ajahn Brahm to unilaterally declare a sanghakamma invalid is an example of the teacher-based system of the forest tradition. Essentially, what the Ajahn says is the Vinaya. We’ve seen throughout this that one of WPP’s primary concerns has been obedience to the Ajahns. :

      Another exchange also indicate this to be the case :

      Ajahn Brahm :
      “I acknowledge that the Thai Monastic Committee does not accept bhikkhunis. But if i go to the United States, or if i speak to my disciples in Australia or to my disciples in Singapore, i cannot force them. If they want to regard them as bhikkhunis or maechees, then i can do nothing about that.”

      Thera:
      “That is your business, but if you don’t have the ability to control them, can you consider yourself their Ajahn, or not? As we are [part of the] administrative hierarchy [of this] lineage, we must excercise the chain of command…”

      Does being an Ajahn implies that the Ajahn can exert power over students and tell them anything and students are supposed to accept it without question ? An Ajahn is a respectable Ajahn as long as that Ajahn respect what was set down by the Buddha. Being an Ajahn shouldn’t put the person above the Buddha’s instruction, because that could lead to abuse of power. What would the dhamma come down to ? Maybe this is why the Buddha didn’t assign someone to sit in his place after his parinirvana. It is hardly appropriate for the elder in question to insist that Ajahn Brahm sign a letter declaring a valid ordination as invalid. I wonder who is the Thera that propose this in the first place ?

    • Dear Benjie,
      Thank you for having the courage to post this appeal here. Ajahn Sujato must have a time machine to attend to all of the requests as well as tend to his monastery. They deserve a break.
      However, Benjie, though many of us would agree with you, partially, what the “inner Sangha” needs to consider, is just how devastated many, many layfollowers of the Ajahn Chah tradition have been (and it is certain monks and novices too.)
      The WPPS acttons have led to resignations from boards, female monastics leaving their long time homes, their students heartbroken and attritions among long time male and female lay followers on more than one continent.
      What some in the “inner” Sangha do not seem to understand is that hundreds, more likely THOUSANDS of people are deeply, deeply disappointed (by many of the issues not just this one or that one. And these are your students. Have they not been established in right view?).
      The “inner circle” have no idea how loved Ajahn Brahm is in this tradition by layfollowers and therefore the impact of what has transpired (and continues). Perhaps they have not yet put themselves truly in the shoes of the layfollowers and those who contributed to the foundations of the monasteries in the West.
      I say that there has been more harm done by not providing a forum, (you dont need a PhD in psychology or Abidhamma to see how Dhamma brothers and sisters are stakeholders in something we have all built together and would naturally be in need of some information and a process to deal with vulnerability around the new developments. A simple, minimal communications plan may have been effective) Such a forum or process should be provided by the “parent” Sangha. The only provisions made for any kind of dialogue or response to the trauma of the “divorce” were the blogs. Without them I can assure you the harm done would have been much, much worse in terms of the spiritual well being of many individuals and therefore the whole Sangha (at least from my understanding of Sangha).
      …hiding the reality is not a true Sangha either…it was hidden for so long and that is why people are so taken aback now…it wasn’t what they signed up for…
      Metta

    • Benjie, I just wonder whether you made a similar request to WPP for they also make press releases and publish articles against bhikkhuni ordinations. I do not think it is very wise when parents ask their younger child to shut up for the sake of peace when clearly it was the elder sibling who is doing the extra mile to create more disharmony. If everyone did what you are suggesting then slavery, apartheid and all associated gross forms of lack of respect for other human beings will be still with us. No doubt the Buddha himself upset so many people because of the social reforms he initiated although he could have easily kept quiet and maintained the ‘peace’ and let the injustices continue using his power of equanimity.

      This blog provides factual material on the issue of bhikkhuni ordinations (and also emotional outbursts of people on both side of the argument) which I think is a healthy way to resolve this important issue. There is little point in burying one’s head in the sand and pretending that this problem will get resolved unless people are willing to speak up and seek a solution which is just and fair. Keeping quiet about gross injustices is not promoting peace but contributing to the lack of peace in this world.

      Personally, I feel that this blog should continue and those who find that this is affecting their state of equanimity should not read it or contribute to it.

      with metta to all.

    • Benjie,

      Your comment has been a flame to the quietly dying fire of my blogging enthusiasm and so I am choosing (so I’m not blaming you for my choice) to respond!

      1. Can you please define ‘spreading’ and ‘teaching’. I can’t see how you can do one without doing the other.

      2. I feel a very prickly, somethings not quite right at all, sort of feeling at the words ‘Sangha problem’. Actually, let me be more accurate; I feel an ever swelling sense of outrage at these words. I shall attempt to restrain my tapping fingers…however I must tell you…I like many others…have been feeding, clothing and supporting monks and nuns for a very long time!! And therefore, this most certainly is MY problem!! I am spending my hard earned money out of faith, confidence, wisdom; I have a tangible physical, material investment. (Nevermind the subtle, massive, emotional/spiritual one!) I did not spend hundreds of dollars in petrol money, never mind food and other requisites, to be told that a problem within the Sangha is not my problem. They made it my problem because they chose to accept my alms.

      It was the wisdom of the Buddha, to set up the two assemblies of lay men and lay women; we are the checks and balances. Furthermore, imho, we change places with each other all the time; you can see this in this one life time – when I was 10, person A was a lay person, when I was 20, person A was a monastic, when I was 30, person A was a layperson again…I believe this sort of exchange can happen across lifetimeS. Thus we ALL have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the Sangha. I have too much of an investment in this utterly beautiful religion to sit back and stay silent.

    • Just want to qualify my previous statement:

      I am utterly delighted to support the lovely monks at Bodhinyana and the wonderful nuns at Dhammasara.🙂

      I have always felt that in supporting them I was supporting the Sangha everywhere and all the time… I still feel that way.

    • Guys, cool it. Benjie’s intention is to have harmony restored by compromising & understanding.

      Understanding is needed here. WPP had make it clear that AB could do anything he likes, so long as it would not influence Thai theravada Sangha to adopt the same policy, as it would violate the Thai law.

      Each country has its own set of laws. No one is above the law. For instance, sodomy is lawful in U.S. but prohibited by law in certain country, that does not mean the other countries had to follow suit, failing which it was outdated? One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

    • Hi Maya and Benjie,

      My sincere apologies for sounding hot-headed and for any hurt I may have caused.

      It was the idea that the Sangha’s problems should be solved without any input from laity… I guess I feel very strongly that this is any issue requiring everyone’s attention because it affects everyone so deeply.

      Thanks for your reminder Maya.

      Regarding your comment, can you please supply a reference for this statement: ‘WPP had make it clear that AB could do anything he likes, so long as it would not influence Thai theravada Sangha to adopt the same policy, as it would violate the Thai law.’ Because it seems that the exact opposite of this has been happening; that is, AB has not set out to influence Thai Sangha policy and The WPP has made it clear that AB cannot do what he likes, despite the fact that he lives in Australia and operates under Australian laws.

      Metta.

    • Dear Kanchana,

      I totally agree with you that we should not discard a problem simply because it appears to have nothing to do with us.

      Dear dhamma friends, please kindly consider listening to Aj Brahm’s latest talk on ‘Building Hearts Not Halls’.

      With metta,

  35. Dheerayupa :
    Dhammalight says:
    The article says that the Thai Sangha “want the properties of Thai temples in the West to come under the ownership of the Thai Sangha to ensure complete control.” In reality, Wat Nong Pah Pong stated in the press conference that it had no power in which to retake ownership of Bodhinyana Monastery, even if the land on which it was built on was initially offered to Ajahn Chah (Bodhinyana Thera) and Wat Nong Pah Pong.”
    ………………

    Hey,

    just to be clear, the question of land donated to the Sangha is absolutely clear in Vinaya, and the Thai monks who said this haven’t got a leg to stand on legally.

    The land donated “to Ajahn Chah” was almost certainly donated explicitly “to the Sangha of the four directions past present and future” (catuddisassa sa’nghassa aagatanaagatapacuppanassa), and land donated to the universal Sangha in perpetuity does not and cannot belong to any particular lineage or particular monks or any tradition -and to (knowingly) misclaim so is an offence too, as I remember (but they almost certainly won’t be committing an offence because luckily for them they don’t know enough Vinaya to be aware what’s what and be aware that they don’t own the land to claim it).

    Actually, even good communities are on very shaky ground legally saying which monks can and can’t live there (even if they have good reasons) without actually going thru the proper legal procedures and due process and a fair hearing -a formal accusation, investigation and then banishment (pabbajjaniya-kamma) if there is any proper grounds (six classes of valid reasons, none of which fit Aj Brahm’s case by any stretch of the imagination) -strictly speaking, that’s the only legal way of evicting a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni from any land that is owned by the whole Sangha, regardless of tradition or sect or lineage, forever (or at least till the official end of the Sasana when the relics will be miraculously extinguished mid-air over the seat of Awakening/ i.e. forever!).

    The Thai monks can’t reclaim the land because it was never theirs in either the Vinaya legal system or in the secular Australian legal system.

    Also it is explicitly stated in the Kosambakkhandaka that even being on the wrong side of a schism (which I don’t think Aj Brahm is in any way) makes no difference to monks’ right to live in Sangha owned land or dwellings. I can’t find the reference conveniently anymore coz my copy of html’d cscd is playing up, sorry.

    (Btw, BS and any of the pali-philiac folks at Santi FM -has your converted CSCD navigation file also stopped working since you updated firefox a while back?? what are you using instead now? can I get a copy too please?!)

    cheers and metta (btw, I like the new Ozzie Buddhist ‘in-language’, makes a nice change from native English speakers speaking Thai to each other in a monastery in Australia -that was always funny/ a little crazy!)😉

    Kester

    • has your converted CSCD navigation file also stopped working since you updated firefox a while back?? what are you using instead now? can I get a copy too please?!

      I usually use the tipitakasociety website, either directly or through Suttacentral. I haven’t used the CSCD for ages, sorry. I just got hold of the new version of Yuttadhammo’s Digital Pali Reader, it works well on Ubuntu (it’s browser-based, platform-independant) but I haven’t explored it properly.

  36. Lisa Karuna :
    …hiding the reality is not a true Sangha either…it was hidden for so long and that is why people are so taken aback now…it wasn’t what they signed up for…

    Exactly.

  37. iMeditation :
    ” The claim of the Arahants to become the exclusive members of the important Councils and to arrive at decision, which were binding on non Arahants could not appeal to the Vajjians – a clan imbued with a democratic spirit.”
    ——————-
    Can we really say that the Council members consist entirely of Arahants these days. If no , then is it acurate to still speak in terms of Arahants vs. Non arahants.

    A) The quote from a secondary source with an opinion about the Vaisalians sounds ‘creative’ and not adequately referenced or reasoned. Specifically it sound as if they’re assuming a connection between the Vaisalians involved in the 2nd council and the Vajjians involved in the Buddha’s penultimate words about the 7 conditions leading to non-decline, which he explicitly adapted for the Sangha from the Vajjian gana-sangha’s political system. They both begin with a ‘V’, but that’s probably about all there is linking them. Actually the point about ‘acinnakappo/ accumulated tradition is allowable’ sounds like the Vaisalians were far more traditionalist than democratic.

    B) Arahants are not infallible. E.g. Mahamoggallana deciding he was not going to bother going to Uposatha for the Patimokkha recital because he was an arahant already and didn’t need to, and the Buddha appearing by psychic powers the next moment and giving him a very stern talking to… Arahants can make mistakes about conventions and I think that can include being caught up in their cultural background and internal cultural frameworks.

    I think WWACD is not necessarily a helpful standard -Ajahn Chah I imagine would listen and investigate much more carefully before coming to a decision, and would probably stop and listen with respect when anybody challenged him on Vinaya, but I’m not absolutely confident that he would not do about the same -conform to local expectations, but not with so much spite as some of the WPP ajahns have shown.

    That was my experience with another monk who certainly believed he was an Ariyan and I felt it was probably true too: as a 1 vassa monk I started to just politely ask if he’d thought about where he and LP Tui would be while we did our Kathina sanghakamma, because if they didn’t want to participate but we did not believe they were really nanasamvasa (Dhammayut, but actually none of the 18 grounds applied) so if they were within the sima it would be offences all round. Straightaway he completely stopped, dropped his role as “the Ajahn” and listened very carefully and insisted on taking me straight to LP Tui to explain, who also listened very carefully and took it seriously and they went far enough away to be definitely outside our sima while we did our sanghakamma… the abbot was not very happy because he thought it was just pedantic Vinaya fluff, but LP Tui absolutely insisted.

    I believe LP Tui may well possibly be an Arahant (in spite of some funny sounding things he tends to say about ‘citt derm’), but he clearly also thought he could still be sincerely mistaken or ignorant of some parts of Vinaya and was still willing to listen and learn to a 1 vassa monk and take it seriously because it was Vinaya… that’s the attitude I expect to see in an Arahant, but not necessarily infallible about all the details.

    I still feel like LP Liem’s involvement is ambiguous and I don’t feel like he has clearly had any bad intentions, I think what I’ve read and heard of him doing and saying still sounds like he could be just sincerely very mistaken but pure at heart. I admit I may very well be biased by partiality (chandaagati) for my former upajjhaya.

    Appeals to the views of Arahants other than the Buddha are all very ‘mai naer’.

    • Kester,

      much appreciated the example about the Buddha’s chastisment of his arahant disciple as well as the anecdote from your own life.

    • Dear Kester,

      Thanks for sharing. I also believe the quote that Buddhist Group posted was not adequately used. In the original Council,it might be correct to say that the Council consisted of Arahants. These days, it is possible that there are Arahant outside the council and maybe even some ( not all) inside because it is possible that some Council members are there simply because of senority , meaning they got ordained earlier than others.

      It is hard to tell who is an Arahant and who is not because all it says in the article is Thera, it doesn’t say who is saying what ? But it is not important to know who is an Arahant and who is not. The only thing we are concern with is that the Committee members don’t abuse their power ( insist that others disregard the dhamma to obey them instead), or deprive many people of a great teacher ( Ajahn Brahm). That can be considered as a mismanagement of the precious dhamma.

  38. Amid all this, how are the nuns doing? Are they well and able to practice without being too disturbed by the politics?

    • Only they can answer that question accurately David. But the last time I saw them they seemed happy and indeed there is an air about the nunnery that was (in my opinion) not there before…a positive air. I think they’re going to be just fine.

  39. Maya :
    Guys, cool it. Benjie’s intention is to have harmony restored by compromising & understanding.

    Liberal compromise is one approach, insisting on getting to the root of the problem is another -the Sanghabhedakkhandaka explicitly quotes the Buddha saying that a resolution of a division or a formal schism is only valid after it has got to the root of the problem. If a formal act of resolution is recited without having got to the root of the problem, that act is null and void in terms of Vinaya.

    Understanding is needed here.

    Indeed, and WPP could start by listening to the evidence and the reasons why Aj Brahm believes the bhikkhuni ordination is according to Vinaya. As it is, they have completely refused to read, listen or consider any reasonable argument for many years.

    WPP had make it clear that AB could do anything he likes, so long as it would not influence Thai theravada Sangha to adopt the same policy, as it would violate the Thai law.
    Each country has its own set of laws. No one is above the law. For instance, sodomy is lawful in U.S. but prohibited by law in certain country, that does not mean the other countries had to follow suit, failing which it was outdated? One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

    Thai secular law has no valid jurisdiction over the Sangha. As long as Thai state law coincides with the Vinaya, no probs, if there is a contradiction, Vinaya rules from the POV of Buddhists who have gone for Refuge to Dhamma and Vinaya, not to the Thai State or WPP or Ajahn Chah or anything or anyone else. That is what the Buddha said. “The Dhamma and Vinaya as taught and formulated by me will be your Teacher when I am gone”. If the Thai faction chose to follow Thai tradition when it departs from Dhamma-Vinaya, then they are Thai traditionalists, not Buddhists.

    “acinnakappo kappati vaa akappati vaati? akappati. – Is the allowance for what is according to accumulated tradition allowable or unallowable? Unallowable.” -the verdict of the Second Council about 300BCE, not any newfangled modern opinion.

  40. Question??: Why didn’t AB agree to invalidate the freshly baked bhikkunis as unanimously requested by the majority Ajarns when given three chances to do so?

    Cos it was a legal act of the Sangha and according to Vinaya he can’t. Just so you know, most if not all of the Western Monastarys (right Ajahn Sujato?) follow an English translation of the Vinaya authored by Ajahn Brahm!! Thats cos hé’s a Vinaya expert.

    However, at the same time AB promised that he would not ordain anymore Bhikkunis in future (so in other words, AB admitted that he had ordained the Bhikkunis, but at the same time said that he was not the Preceptor).Sounds inconsistent and contradicting.

    Do you think perhaps you are getting bogged down in semantics here? He didn’t act as their preceptor. He was there one of the chanting acharya (Ajahn Sujato was the other). Its obvious to me that he simply meant that he would not participate or preside over such ordinations again. (Thank goodness they didn’t take him up on this!)

    I guess you are splitting hairs here cos you are trying to defend monks you support. I’m sorry if all this is causing you pain. You are not the only one who has been in love with the Thai Forest Tradition…most of us in Perth have been because Ajahn Brahm told so many stories about how wonderful this tradition was.

    then these 4 bhikkunis (the first breed of revival)

    Completely incorrect. The first ‘breed’ ocurred in 1996 or 1998 in Sri Lanka. Is this correct, those of you who know for sure what the date/place was?

    could still go on ordaining other Bhikkhunis or more bhikkhunis under the Thai Forest Sangha/Thai thereavada tradition, without having AB as preceptor

    So?

    Don’t forget that AB is a scientist (as claimed by him)

    Cambridge University ought to have the records if you want to check. I believe the degree was theoretical physics.

    – a metaphysic, so he is being too technical and nothing matters if the explanation satisfied him technically.

    Showing your lack of knowledge about Ajahn Brahm. From my observations of him, technicality needs to be reasonable and compassionate before it is used as a basis for action.

    Unfortunately, Buddhism is supramundane, a lot of things scientist could not proof but that does not mean it does not exist (e.g. ghost/dewas/heaven/hell/law of kamma etc).

    Fortunately, Buddhism deals with the mundane so we can reach the supramandane…a ladder leading to the top. Fortunately the mundane deals with basic issues such as don’t just believe, investigate for yourself.
    Also Google Ian Stevenson…scientist setting ought to rigorously prove rebirth.

    The 4 Bhikkunis could now maintain their Bhikkhunis status albeit Mahayana Bhikkunis, and could now carry out their mission as anxiously aspired by them.

    What’s in a name? Why not call them Theravada then?
    They don’t want a Mahayana mission. They don’t want the bodhisattva vow. They want out of samsara asap! They would not be true to themselves; perhaps not so effective to seek the Truth from such a basis.
    I appreciate your desire for harmony, but harmony at the cost of truth doesn’t really work at its heart.

    There should be no more problems and the Thai Sangha also gave their full blessings & moral support to AB, the Bhikkunis & Bodhiyana to carry out what they wished with no interference or intrusion, at full liberty in their wholesome plans and aspirations. Hence, Harmony restored.

    Do you really think so? Go back and read the transcript. There seemed to be a lot of anger in the comments of few/some (few names given so hard to know how many monks are speaking) of the other WPP monks. I doubt very much that they would have given too many blessings or all that much support.

    Buddha’s advice to his aunt ” “Do not ask for going forth” as Buddha cared for women’s security and well being. Imagine, during Buddha time, women could also get rape practising in the forest, what about our time (self-explanatory)?

    And just as in the Buddha’s time, in this time, men and women are murdered, robbed, tortured, exploited, abused…Are we to live under a rock?
    You are 100% correct, the Buddha did care for women’s security and well being…that’s why we never revoked his rule that monks could ordain nuns without a Bhikkuni Sangha present. Thats why he encouraged his monks to promote, protect and support Bhikkuni’s. Its there in the texts.
    Why is it we forget that the text says that the Buddha gave the going forth? Why do we argue with the decision of a BUDDHA?

    The Theravada tradition is strictly following the Vinaya of the Buddha, it is objective and not subjective.

    That’s a big call. I can’t say that I ‘objectively’ know the whole of the Theravada tradition but I can state that not all of this traditon are following the Vinaya of the Buddha. Some monks even explicity don’t follow it…like the ones that have families on the sly, or do other such things…

    Metta.

    • Sorry, tis getting late… I must have pressed the wrong button or something …

      The previous post is in response to Buddhist Groups’ post on Jan 2nd. Post no. 3.

      If it doesn’t make sense its cos I’ve taken quotes from his/her post and responded to them. Sorry if its too confusing.

    • Sorry Kenchana,

      I do not wish to argue or blog here anymore.
      There will be no end to it.

      All I want to say here is,
      when we have a bias mind,
      our views/perception becomes
      irrational, illogical & emotional.

      May you be well & happy & peacful…

    • Dear Benjie,

      Thats your call🙂 and is to be respected as such.

      I totally agree we all have bias. Thats the starting point and what we have to work with…good luck with your work on the path.

      Much metta.

  41. It’s funny when I look back to my initial reaction to Ajahn Brahm’s expulsion from the WPP lineage, I was incredulous and thought they must be kidding.

    So, I tried to figure out whether this was a matter of misunderstanding, culture, power games/authority-driven, misogyny or whatever. But I didn’t really take it to heart, either way, because it didn’t really affect my practise and other people’s dissens, even if it is within the tradition I practise in, is not really “my” problem.

    In some way, I actually found the experience helpful because it hightlighted how close personal attachments go even when it comes to a spiritual tradition one practices in, despite the fact that at the end of the day, we are all striving to follow the Buddha’s teaching as good as we can in our present conditions. It is the feeling of “community” and “belonging” which permeates this discussion – and it explains the emotions of either side on the “rift” that has clearly opened, the frustration, disillusionment perhaps, lack of respect felt. It has also highlighted that good monks on either side of the rift are – despite their longstanding practise – perhaps not all as attained as we sometimes imagine them to be.

    So far, I feel – even though I might be deluding myself – that I have kept emotionally pretty “unattached” to the whole fracas so far. My position has been clear from early on after reading all the arguments pro and con bhikkhuni ordination: There are more arguments and reasons on the “pro” than on the “con” side, so Ajahn Brahm did the “right” thing.
    I still have doubts about whether it was handled as skillfully as it could have been but hey, nobody is perfect and I do not doubt that his intentions were good and what is more, driven by kindness and compassion, perhaps less so by wisdom (not for me to judge as it is still obscure to me why the ordination was planned and handled as it was).

    I do think that the stance of the WPP representatives are also based on “good intentions”. I suspect that “wisdom” here lies in the eye of a cultural context – whic, however, h in a “global approach” of Buddhism isn’t simply good enough anymore imo. I am sure the Buddha would have an answer to this, unfortunately however, it is left to all of us and the good monks in either tradition to find a suitable vehicle for this.

    What I AM missing, in any case, is kindness and compassion in the way, WPP has been handling the situation and in particularly portraying Ajahn Brahm (with the alleged mismanagement, his alleged propensity to fame, his alleged disrespect towards the WPP Elders and the Ajahn Chah lineage etc).

    For the record, I have never been an ardent follower of Ajahn Brahm; I have been closer to the UK branches of the Thai Forrest tradition when all this dispute started in November. But since this whole situation has played out the way it has, I have looked more closely into Ajahn Brahm’s way of teaching, and I simply fail to see where he has ever been incompassionate or unkind or misrepresenting the Buddha’s teaching. And as long as this cannot be shown, I feel that he is walking the talk – and he deserves respect and support for this. He will surely get my respect and my support.

    And I think this will – hopefully – have been my last words on this subject, as I feel I start getting emotionally involved here, now🙂
    Thank you for all those insights and information here, and a big thank you to Ajahn Sujato for making this possible.

    With metta,
    A.

    • Dear Ace,

      Thank you for this.

      I too do not know all the ins and outs of this business… But this is what I have found out:

      1. The disapproval of the Thai WPP mainly seems to be based on the fact of the Bhikkuni ordination.

      2. The western WPP are closely tied to the Thai WPP and want to maintain these links.

      3. Thus bhikkuni ordination is not supported.

      4. If WPP monks had known of the Bhikkuni ordination well in advance they could have stopped it.

      5. Because if a bhikku or bhikkuni inside the legal ordination boundary (sima) objects, then the ordination is invalid. My understanding is that many bhikkuni ordinations in Sri Lanka still ocurr behind closed doors for this very reason.

      6. Perhaps discussing it at the december WAM was obvious to those with closer ties to the WAM monks (than we have) as being unfeasible. My guess, they did not expect the rather massive (and unskillful) over reaction by the WAM and the WPP monks.

      Metta.

  42. Re Dheerayupa
    January 4, 2010 at 6:02 am | #84 Reply | Quote
    Re Dhammalight version of WPP press conference..

    It is a propaganda struggle by those who wish to be seen as ‘right’ – I interpret Dhammalight’s attempt to retract some of the words of Phra Khru Opas as a sign they don’t totally agree with him and don’t want to be seen as so extreme – that in itself is a good sign – though difficult to ‘digest’ when truth gets distorted in the process.

    I’m not sure there is much more that can be done when the discussion degenerates into who is right, who is wrong – it starts to becomes unconstructive –

    I remember that when A.Sumedho took a party of westerners to Wat Nana Chat in 1981 – and the Western nun there (Ajahn Chah’s first Western nun – her name was Kumfa) – had converted to a fundamentalist brand of Christianity just before the group arrived.

    Ajahn Sumedho was expecting she would inspire the Western lay folk who had travelled all that way, instead she went round telling this newly inspired group of Western lay practitioners that Buddhism and Ajahn Chah was the work of the devil.

    Ajahn Sumedho got very upset and went to Ajahn Chah and complained about her, that she was so wrong and that Ajahn Chah should get rid of her and ‘take her on’

    Instead Ajahn Chah just smiled and said ‘Well Sumedho, maybe she is right’!

    Feeling ‘right’ is dukkha – so I guess Ajahn Chah is just encouraging us to let go of positions when we start to hold them too rigidly.

    As lay people, we made our concerns loud and clear to all those who attended the WAM – they have responded – which we all felt was an inadequate response. However, it’s possible that with further consideration some more enlightened and middle way can emerge – – I sincerely hope so.

    My overall sense is that as lay people, we have fulfilled our duty to voice our concerns (loud and clear!!)
    We now need to take care of ourselves – and let the monastic sangha figure out how they choose to proceed. Perhaps if we remain overly antagonistic it will have a detrimental effect and will make it more difficult for a moderate compromise within the monastic community that can hopefully reverse/ heal these unfortunate splits.

    I don’t say that with a view to ‘close the blog’, in fact I do very much appreciate Ajahn Sujato’s open and courageous ‘head on’ approach to all things before unmentionable – it’s been totally refreshing – Sadhu Bhante..You are amazing!

    I just feel a bit weary and feel holding it all in some kind of compassionate heart space may be the best for a while… at least for me..

    So as a Theravada-Mahayanist, I return it all to Kuan Yin, the ‘one who listens at ease to the sounds of the world’
    May her compassion shine on us all in these tricky times…

    • Dear Thanissara,

      I am starting to feel like this now too.

      But I don’t think I can state that I am going to stop blogging cos I never know when I will feel again that I want to jump in and say something!!

      However, I think I need to stop spending so much time on this computer…🙂

      Metta

    • yes, Kanchana – know what you mean – things change hey – perspectives, intentions, energy levels for engaging this issue….

      I’ve enjoyed your input..
      metta

    • Dear Thanissara

      By now most people know that Wat Pah Pong has had a public relations disaster and a loss of credibility. Not only that but in Asian eyes it has suffered a severe loss of face by having to issue a statement trying to correct what the Thai newspapers reported. It hasn’t had much success because Dheerayupa’s rebuttal was published on the Buddhist Channel site http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=22,8830,0,0,1,0.

      It’s obvious that WPP are novices in dealing with the media and now probably wish they never held the press conference. But my point is that the overwhelming response by contributors of this blog played a major role in WPP’s decision to issue a correction statement. The statement openly acknowleges that “it seems that the article in English has stirred up and agitated Western readers”. To me this shows that the weight of public opinion works even on the monolithic WPP and our individual contributions count. As interested parties we must remain vigilant to developments and respond timely and appropriately.

      My deep gratitude to Bhante Sujato for leading the debate the providing the platform for us to voice our opinions.

    • hi albert – yes i know – the principle of pavarana – invitation for feedback – is important to maintain health of the samvasa – clearly that has been painfully absent regards the elders – and so has in part led to the chronic situation of break-down of communication – feels like we’ve all been in some kind of collective enema – not pretty – but necessary..

      i wrote the Ajahn chah story cos of his focus on balance over ‘rightness’ –
      The feedback we have all given has clearly got through – but i wasn’t up for an over roasting –

      i still (perhaps naively) hold out some hope for a more moderate, healing way through this – i sense a quality of bravado around the forth coming split (well its happened already hasn’t it) – but am not sure that in the long term it’s the best way to go – but i really don’t know – in so many ways the dice has been cast –

      i feel some sadness – some poignancy.. but realise, i don’t know what is best – so am trusting a deeper listening beyond rights and wrongs… wishing you well being…t

  43. Hi all,

    Thought I’d share a poem which was quoted by Bhikkhuni Yifa in her letter of support for bhikkhuni ordination.

    They drew a circle that shut me out,
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout!
    But love and I had the wit to win
    We drew a circle that took them in.

    Edwin Markham

    >j<

  44. RE: the Dhammalight inconsistencies with what was reported at the press conference and all the articles, correspondence etc on the website.

    It says it is run by the Administrative Committee of the Wat Nong Pah Pong Sangha, yet doesn’t name any of the Ajahns, local and abroad, who contribute. It’s starting to feel like maybe only a handful are penning rebuttals since they have been taking a lot of flak over this.

    I’m really hoping the site doesn’t actually represent all the monks, Ajahn’s and disciples of Ajahn Chah as claimed and that many/most do not even know of its existence, hence the discrepancies between the report and their denial of what was actually said.

    Also, if they’re attempting to go for a less extremist stance over what was said – taking the land from Bodhinyana etc – why pretend that wasn’t what was said? Why not try for a more concillatory approach?

  45. sujato :

    has your converted CSCD navigation file also stopped working since you updated firefox a while back?? what are you using instead now? can I get a copy too please?!

    I usually use the tipitakasociety website, either directly or through Suttacentral. I haven’t used the CSCD for ages, sorry. I just got hold of the new version of Yuttadhammo’s Digital Pali Reader, it works well on Ubuntu (it’s browser-based, platform-independant) but I haven’t explored it properly.

    Thanks, Bhante. I still haven’t managed to get tipitakasociety website to work, or figured out how to work it, but I haven’t tried very hard yet either. I’ll have another look later.

    • It’s really good. The text is excellent, although it follows Burmese readings rather than being a truly international edition. The site is really well put together. I really can’t praise the technical side highly enough. SuttaCentral has linked to them for some time now and we’re very happy. They used to have somewhat slow servers, but that has been improved. And they do some very cool things; like print-on-demand editions of individual volumes! All this is, of course, entirely unswayed by the fact that the geeks put it together on Linux. The only problem is that they don’t yet have the PTS and other cross-references on the website. This is still in the pipeline…

  46. I do not understand this part of LP Liem’s statement:

    “Noone said that they have to be bhikkhunis, because it would create an intimacy in a way that is not good. It is about feelings. If there is a close relationship then there is an opportunity for innapropriate emotions.”

    What hypothetical intimacy or close relationship is he referring to? This would only make sense is bhikkhunis were to live in the same monastery as bhikkhus, would it not? Is there some reason why bhikkhunis would be any different from mae chees in this regard?

    • Dear Californian,

      Yes, this is an interesting aspect of the dialogue, one which is heard quite often. For the record, WPP has a mae chi community, with both monks and nuns sharing the same land, as do both Amaravati and Chithurst, while Bodhinyana and Dhammasara are quite separate pieces of land, over an hours’ drive between them. So the problem is not actual physical proximity as such.

      The Thai Sangha is used to treating women as lay, or the marginal and powerless mae chis. Women are, in this context, clearly bounded off outside the Sangha. They pose an ever-present threat, but that threat is contained. This is not a question of actual intimacy, since Thai monks become intimate with women and transgress their precepts or disrobe no less than monks anywhere else. It is a question of maintaining women as an externally perceived and ritually bounded presence, which can never intrude to the inner sanctum of the Sangha itself.

      As bhikkhunis, women become equals, truly like a sister, one who must be related to and treated on the same level as oneself. From a narrow monastic perspective, especially from monks who have never known any bhikkhunis, this is imagined as a fearful and dangerous intimacy. But if we can get over the fear, what is happening is much more positive: the ability to relate to women as spiritual beings, as humans, as suffering persons who are seeking liberation.

      In my opinion, the development of such a mature, balanced relationship with women is an essential aspect of getting over the masculine tendency to objectify and sexualize women. We must learn to stop treating women as ‘outside’, as something that is looked at but not listened to.

    • I would like to offer another version of the translation of the part that you quoted:

      “Ajahn Liem:

      In 2519 BE, my mother came to get ordained at Wat Nong Pah Pong. My younger sister also came to ordain here. They did not have to be bhikkhunis, because it would create a kind of intimacy which would lead to unwholesome feelings. This is because relationships which involve intimate feelings could result in inappropriate feelings. Therefore, when Ven Ajahn (Brahm) has gone to perform his duty over there, where this action took place, I had no feelings since there has not been rules (regarding this issue) in Thailand. In Thailand, I’ve been appointed a preceptor and undertook the preceptor training, and (at the training) I was not told to give this kind of ordination; I was only told to ordain men and Mae Chee ordinations are for women.”

      I have difficulties understanding and thus translating the word ‘Kwam Roo Suk’ (direct translation is ‘feelings’) that Ajahn Liem used in regard to Ajahn Brahm’s involvement in the bhikkhuni ordinations.

    • Personally, I think Luangphor Liem deserves a great big hug (a virtual one I guess). I am sorry for the big headache he has now. I hope a critical mass of reasonable Thai and Western monks gather around him for tea while the others are distracted on some other business.

  47. I just wanted to say that I shall really miss this wonderful blogg if it ends. I am becoming a more courageous person because of reading your bloggs. Thank you. I bow to you dear people. What a blessing that such honest and truthful people do exist. I’ve read so many interesting and helpful things here. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers. I admire your courage to say what you really think. So many times when I read your responses to some of the things that have been happening, I’m amazed by how quickly you grasp what is being said and bring it back to the truth and what is good and true. I would be afraid. Here is just one example (from hundreds) that I copied in from earlier. When I read MMOB’s comment I thought I must be wrong and bad because I was spoiling harmony and consensus for everyone by questioning and criticising . But wonderful Anagarika Jason hit the nail right on the head. “Broadly speaking, there are two ways to develop ‘unity, trust, consensus and harmony’. The first way is by pretending that everybody has the same views. The second is by encourage each other to respect, forgive, accept and listen to and learn from each others views.” It’s so true. When I read Ajahn Sujato’s piece on Tyranny or Trancendence, I felt as if a veil lifted from my eyes. I just wanted to say thankyou. You have given me hope. I really, really appreciate you so very much indeed.

    • Thanks Florentyna,

      I can only speak for myself here… But I am sometimes fearful in putting myself with all my bias and emotions ‘out there’. But if I don’t, if I wait to be perfect first, then I could be waiting forever and if others waited for me to be perfect before they listened to these outpourings of emotion from my heart, then none of us would ever listen to each other or try and help each other in a truly necessary way. I would like to thank everyone for having participated in this unique forum. Metta.

    • Hear hear! It is wonderful how everyone is trying to both speak their truth, give good reasons, but practice mindful speech and genuinely respect others–even those for whom such dialogue is tantamount to destroying the teachings. To me, this kind of pluralistic sharing is at the heart of the Dharma, and I rejoice! The vulnerability is amazing to see.

    • yes – also agree with what you say Florentyna – there clearly has been a tremendous need for an open safe space to discuss all these issues so clarity can emerge – and information can be available – A.Sujato has provided a great service to this end..

  48. Dear Buddhists,

    It looked like there are 2 camps & school of thoughts here in this blog.

    The bottomline is so far, no one knows why AB had to discreetly, desperately and hurriedly ordained the bhikkhunis & had it done in Bodhiyana despite knowing very well the repercussion and consequences.

    There were many underlying reasons, but one of the more obvious reasons could be (not conclusive,just speculative), AB could no longer cope with the stress arising from the increasing demand of the lay people especially lay ladies who seek counselling advice from him for their personal and domestic problems.

    His passion for giving talks,travelling and public relations coupled with his smile, jovial & approachable impression had attracted much attention and support especially from Perth, Singapore, Malaysia & Thailand and had come to a point he needed women-power to take over some part of his works in particular all those ladies counselling. Another valid reason for him to ordained all the 4 Bhikkhunis at once to meet the demand (it is not wrong, BUT AB SHOULD HAVE BEEN HONEST ABOUT IT).

    It may be wrong, and i seek forgiveness. If not, what really WAS the reason for it (besides doing justice to satisfy the Vinaya, that could be brain-storm in the Conference for a unanimous vote, no matter how difficult and how long it takes)? It is still very mysterious. Hope AB or Bhikkhunis could make confession to clear the air. Much appreciated.”To err is human to forgive is divine” – Sadhu.

    • I think the main suggestion as to why it was done so discreetly was because if WPP had sent a representative to the ordination, had that representative argued there and then against the ordination it could not have happened. That is my understanding of it.

      As to ‘desperately and hurredly’, how much longer were the women to wait for ordination? 30 more years like the UK Siladhara or perhaps after the WAM when it is clear women’s ordinations would have been denied yet again there. As we’ve seen the Vinaya is not above Thai law…

      I do think you’re right in that creating new bhikkunis (and the furor surrounded the issue will inform people they now exist in Australia!) will allow more people to approach the nuns for advice and guidance, especially for the women laity.

      With metta🙂

    • Dee dear

      But..don’t you think it should be done unanimously & harmoniously with consensus by all the Theravada traditions in the world? AB cannot say that he is only doing this in his monastery in Perth and he doesn’t care about the others, he just wanted it for his nuns.

      But in reality, AB is a theravada monk and he belongs to the theravada Sangha and by so doing, it also affected the rest of the theravada sangha all over the world. He should not take this into his hands alone, it involved the world theravada community and Sangha.

      The revival of bhikkhunis in the theravada tradition is a big thing. If it was not executed harmoniously with every one rejoicing it, it means it was not doing it right. It is just like, when someone commits an adultery, he/she had to do it discreetly as he/she knew it was a wrong thing to do.Sorry for the comparison (not to be understood directly), just using it to make my point.Thank you for your reply.

    • Dear TCL,

      Appreciate your efforts to try and make sense of all this…:)

      Just a few comments in response to your post:

      a.) First of all with regard to your speculation that Ajahn Brahm could no longer cope with the stress of teaching and so ordained 4 bhikkunis.

      Ajahn Vayama is one of these nuns and before she became ill shared some of teaching duties within the BSWA community with Ajahn Brahm. The other 3 nuns are relatively junior and don’t (as far as I am aware) teach to the same extent that Ajahn Vayama did prior to her current illness. So the nuns are not expected to shoulder extra teaching burdens. In fact, they live in an extremely quiet community without the internet and the main teachings from the nuns ocurrs when one goes to share a meal/visit.

      b.) You suggested he has a passion for travel; I strongly suspect that Ajahn Brahm, while he may be physically tired from his demanding routine, loves to give and that is why he teaches Dhamma, not out of some desire to travel the globe. This is a man who prefers solitude but gives and serves nevertheless.

      c.)Ajahn Brahm often gives anecdotes about his teacher. Let me offer one about my teacher.

      Once I was staying at Bodhinyana Monastery. The opening ceremony of the nuns’ cottage at Dhammasara was to occur during my stay. The monks were participating in the ceremony and so I asked if I could go with them and return with them (to my self-retreat at Bodhinyana). I was given permission for this to happen.

      Ajahn Brahm did not go with us as he was busy with duties elsewhere. He met us at the nuns’ monastary (this was about 10 years ago by the way). I have to tell you, he was the tired-est looking person at the opening ceremony. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look so exhausted.

      Returning to the monks’ monastary that night, I walked back to the guest quarters and looking back over my shoulder I observed that Ajahn Brahm had left the van without a word and was headed in the opposite direction, up the hill to his own quarters; once again, I remember he seemed tired.

      The next morning I was in the kitchen washing dishes and Ajahn Brahm poked his head through the doorway separating the dana area from the kitchen to ask someone something. I was so startled because here was a completely different looking person. If it had been me, I would still have been groggy the following morning and looking forward to a nap but not Ajahn Brahm. He seemed to have a bounce about him. The corners of his mouth were pointing skyward. But it was his eyes that surprised me the most because they were sparkling like nobody’s business; by rights, for one who looked as he had done the night before, those eyes should not have been sparkling at all!!

      Here is a person who can re-energise himself overnight!

      d.) Also Ajahn Brahm has no problem at all with counselling lay ladies provided the appropriate chaperone is present. In my experience he is kind to everyone.

      e.) I have never ever seen Ajahn Brahm do anything at all, desparately! He is very un-desparate! Furthermore, I rather doubt Ajahn Brahm knew that the consequences that have followed, would follow!

      f.) These bhikkuni ordinations aren’t the start of the revival…this happened about a decade ago. We are already late…by about a thousand years.

      g.)Regarding your adultery similie: Ajahn Brahm knew he was doing the right/correct/good thing, not the wrong thing.

      h.) Some very interesting information about getting consensus in the Theravada tradition
      https://sujato.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/reform/ and https://sujato.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/reform-a-challenge/

      Much metta

  49. Phra Kru Opas is reported to have said –

    “(I or the WPP sangha -> the subject was omitted as very common of the Thai language) want the Council of Elders and the Office of National Buddhism to find ways to bring the land of the Bodhiyana monastery to come under the ownership of Wat Nong Pah Pong because the said land was donated to Luang Phu Chah by Buddhists in Australia while he was visiting Perth.”

    What the Buddha said –

    “There are five things, O Bhikkhus, which when they characterise a Bhikkhu, the Sangha, if it likes, should carry out the Patisaraniyakamma against him; (that is to say), when he goes about to bring loss on the laity–when he goes about to do harm to the laity–when he goes about to deprive the laity of their dwellings–when he reviles and finds fault with the laity–when he brings about division between the laity. These are the five things, O Bhikkhus, which when they characterise a Bhikkhu, the Sangha, if it likes, should carry out the Patisaraniyakamma against him.”

    Cv, I.20 (PTS Vol 2, p 365 – 367)

    I wonder if it is not time for a formal request to be made to the WNPP Sangha to impose the Patisaraniyakamma on Phra Kru Opas? For him to demand that the lay disciples of Bodhiyana be disenfranchised from a spiritual centre must surely count as “loss and harm” to the laity.

  50. In Thailand what is the legal status of the WPP Group?

    I ask this because Phra Opas wants the WA Wat to come under the ownership of Wat Pah Pong. I s WPP legally a separate group? I thought it was an informal grouping.

    • I must admit I am not entirely sure. WPP itself would be a legally recognized monastery. I presume the ‘WPP group’ must have some sort of legal existence, but I really don’t know. WPP is somewhat more than an informal grouping, it’s a recognized and quite clearly defined organization with membership rules and so on. Perhaps you’re thinking of the WAM as an informal group; this is simply an ad hoc meeting of western WPP Ajahns that get together for discussions every couple of years.

    • Three cheers for Santisuda and the press release!!!! But oh…to think such a distortion would come from a monk or committee of monks and that they would call themselves ‘dhammalight’ of all things…sad, sad, sad day…

    • Greetings and respects Bhante,

      Thank you again for your insightful and compassionate reflections. I have learnt much and reflected a lot from reading this blog.

      A question arose for me when I read Khun Sanitsuda’s post (linked above). She mentioned how Thai Buddhism has ‘deviated from the original egalitarian spirit of the Sangha’.

      This struck me as it has never seemed ‘egalitarian’ – the relationship of nissaya for example, and the duties of monks towards their teachers as spelled out in the vinaya pitaka. There seems to be a definite sense of relative hierarchy in the way the Buddha created the Sangha, and encouraged his bhikkhus and bhikkhunis to relate to each other. I say relative because of course the teaching points at never being lesser, greater or equal to anyone else…

      Anyway, I would be very interested to hear your take on what Khun Sanitsuda meant.

      With many thanks,
      A.

    • Hi Asoka,

      Egalitarian is, of course, a relative term, and it is always problematic to infer from one social context to another. But essentially I would agree with Sanitsuda here.

      The Vinaya operates on two simultaneous levels. On the ‘political’ level, the Sangha is a communal body, where every single member has exactly the same rights, and there is no hierarchy whatsoever. It is on this basis that all formal acts of the Sangha take place, such as ordinations or punishments. In such a context, for example, even the preceptor at an ordination has to be agreed on by the Sangha. The most junior bhikkhu or bhikkhuni has the full power to veto the appointment of even the most senior monastic.

      On the ‘social’ level, the Sangha uses a principle of respect for seniority. The Elders ‘should be listened to’, treated with respect, and so on. They are accorded a very few minor privileges, for example one should not deprive them of a Sangha lodging. But in general the relationship is one of respect, not power. Even in the case you mention, where a newly ordained monastic is under dependence of a teacher, the student may still question the teacher; they should encourage their teacher if the teacher has wrong view or is wavering in their commmittment; they should disobey their teacher if what they say is against the Dhamma Vinaya. So in all cases, even for a young monastic, it is a mature, mutual relationship, not one of blind obedience.

      One of the essential characteristics of a good legal system is that it counterbalances the natural tendency of human society to aggregate power in hierarchies. For example, in modern Western society, power tends to accumulate to corporations, which often act in irresponsible ways; good government imposes checks and restraints on corporate behaviour. Similarly, in ancient India, the tendency was for the Raja to gather power and become a tyrant, so the rajadhamma evolved as a code of conduct that would check the power of kings. There’s an interesting statement in the Jatakas, where a king declares that he has no power to do as he wishes, but may only intervene in the case of a legal problem.

      It seems to me that the Vinaya does the same thing. It assumes an Indic culture where the guru may be accorded absolute excessive faith (as the Kalama Sutta says, ‘samano no garu’; we believe because the monk is our respected teacher.) It critiques that idea, presenting plenty of example of monks, even good monks, who behave in inappropriate ways. It then sets up a power structure that diametrically opposes the model of the infallible guru. All ordained persons have equal power in the Sangha. The result is a flexible, dynamic structure, where the respect accorded the teacher is balanced by the power held in the Sangha.

    • Dear Aj Sujato,

      Thank you so very much for clarifying the issue for us laypeople. I believe most laypeople misunderstand this ‘democracy’ practice and ‘respect for the senior’ in the Sangha.

    • Thank you for your excellent response.

      I guess it’s the difference between what Ken Wilber calls a ‘growth hierarchy’ which is based upon respect, and a ‘power hierarchy’,which is based upon fear and ‘blind obedience’.

      In the West I think a lot of us tend to assume all hierarchies must be power hierarchies, and thus all ‘respect’ must mean giving away our power (for example, the word ‘respect’ as used in Mafia films etc…!!)

      I like how you describe the Sangha as offering an alternative to these extremes – of both resistance, and also blind faith.

      Anjali,
      A

    • Asoka :
      This struck me as it has never seemed ‘egalitarian’ – the relationship of nissaya for example, and the duties of monks towards their teachers as spelled out in the vinaya pitaka. There seems to be a definite sense of relative hierarchy in the way the Buddha created the Sangha, and encouraged his bhikkhus and bhikkhunis to relate to each other. I say relative because of course the teaching points at never being lesser, greater or equal to anyone else…

      I think we need to all clarify our use of terms, because we may well be just talking past each other.

      [Btw, I wrote this last night before you replied to BS saying the question was settled for you, but my internet crashed, and I still think it might be useful.]

      In anthropological terminology, there is a difference between ‘power’ and ‘prestige’.

      Power is the capacity to compel others to do one’s will.

      ‘Prestige’ in anthropological contexts is used for what I used to mistakenly call ‘authority’, basically the “attribute of being regularly trusted” -not necessarily obeyed, but carefully listened to.

      This is where the term “respect’ properly fits in, imo. ‘Prestige’ in technical anthropological usage doesn’t necessarily carry any negative connotations, like it sometimes does in general usage.

      ‘Respect’ -this is what it means to me (!), means careful consideration, or in the Vinaya definition “sotabba’m mannyessanti” -(as long as) they shall consider them to be listened to. Not obeyed for their own sake and not treated as authorities in their own right, but just carefully listened to.

      ‘Authority’ is a slippery one, best definition in my revised opinion is “entitlement to command”.

      Hierarchy can be a vague word because it’s used differently in different contexts. Biologists for example will call anything in an ordered sequence a ‘hierarchy’, but that’s very general and doesn’t work well in describing the range of different human social arrangements.

      I think ‘hierarchy’ in a social context is best defined in terms of authority -a ‘chain of command’. Etymologically it breaks down as ‘heiros’ -sacred, ‘arch’ -authority or power. I use ‘hierarchy’ when I’m thinking of power or authority, not just prestige conditionally associated with seniority.

      Looking at the bigger picture of different kinds of human societies -our genetic background from a Common Ancestor of apes and humans that was similar to Chimps was probably strongly despotic. Chimps have a very individualistic, competitive, linear hierarchy -the top Alpha male is not group leader in order to really ‘lead’ the group for the group’s benefit, but he’s Alpha in order to seek his own individual competitive self-interest. I.e. he’s like Reagan and Thatcher’s ideal person.

      The human ancestral environment was probably very similar to remaining nomadic hunter-gatherer groups and tribes. Nomadic hunter-gatherers tend to be incredibly egalitarian -not ‘nice’ goodie-goodie, ‘liberal’ kind of egalitarian, but fierce, vigilante, defend it to the death, kind of egalitarian. If you act like anything remotely beginning to resemble a chimp alpha male in a nomadic hunter gatherer society you’ll be ridiculed, gossiped about, shunned, further ostracised, and possibly driven out of the community or assassinated by a close male relative on behalf of the community or stoned to death by the whole community.

      Since the agricultural revolution and the rise of ‘civilizations’ -i.e. centralisation and alienation of power, making ‘civilians’ out of tribal men who would previously be all more or less involved in military defense, raiding, feuding, etc. and prepared to defend their moral and political equality, we have this strange apparent ‘U turn’ in the pattern of social behaviour -despotic – egalitarian -despotic again, in a similar but different form.

      Modern civilizations, even the ‘democratic’ ones, still count as primarily ‘despotic’ because of the alienation of power involved in the modern form of social contract- we give up our right to legitimate use of force to the State in exchange for the State operating under the Rule of Law, Human Rights and aiming at equality and benefit in common. Obviously it can’t possibly be sustainable, because there are no consequences for the State breaking the contract. So modern ‘democratic’ societies are still relatively more like chimp social groups than like the human ancestral environment in which most of our typically human social behaviours evolved.

      The best explanation for the strange pattern is that egalitarianism is not an absence of hierarchical instincts or behaviours, but basically the same behavioural capacities inverted and strengthened -in an anti-hierarchical/egalitarian community united by a common moral ethos, the whole community participates in dominance behaviours to suppress individual dominance first by force, then maintained through culture, but as and when necessary re-established by force.

      With ‘civilization’, you get legitimation of centralisation and alienation of power. But the nature of cultural legitimation is influenced by where our capacities for ‘culture’ (learned social behaviour, but especially internalised communal ethos/a rational and moral paradigm) came from evolutionarily. Culture is an adaptation to egalitarian social environments, but culture can also be inverted just as hierarchy can. So you can get anti-hierarchical cultures (the original form) and then also hierarchical anti-cultures (the ‘mainstream’ form in ‘civilizations’.

      What I’m trying to get at is this:

      It isn’t easy to see through and see beyond one’s own cultural paradigm and intuitively comprehend that apparently similar concepts like ‘hierarchy’ can actually mean radically different things in practice in different societies. Modern Westerners seem to be particularly culture-blind because of the unrealistic beliefs in ‘our’ culture about the nature of rationality as in any way ‘objective’.

      What appears to be ‘hierarchy’ in modern, Western ‘civilized’ (i.e. culturally conditioned to accept the alienation of power) eyes, may on closer, softer, more empathetic and also more intellectually precise inspection, be very significantly and practically different.

      Most of the current religious traditions come from the crucial period of fast changeover between egalitarian tribal cultures and the new form of large scale centralised hierarchy in city states -all of them contain much evidence of tension and conflict between the two ethos-es (ethii?). In ancient Judaism it’s the conflict between the ‘People of the Land’, rural, tribal leaders and prophets mostly representing their views with the idea of ‘Covenant’, and the new Jerusalem elite more emphasising the Davidic monarchy and Zion and making the covenant sound more like a one-way blessing than a conditional mutual contract. Buddhism too -the earliest constitution of the Sangha is explicitly based on the political structure of the Vajjian tribal confederacy, which was anti-monarchical, but in the later narrative sections of the texts and increasingly as they developed there is more and more emphasis on kings and legitimation of monarchy through the stories. Buddhism in practice, like all religious traditions operating in large scale ‘civilized’ societies, has always followed (with more or less lag time) the secular political environment and the mainstream of Buddhist tradition has always been involved in legitimating whatever was happening politically, tribal republic when it was that, monarchy, tyranny, exploitative military regime (e.g. until recently in Burma, and probably still the mainstream of Burmese Buddhism will be legitimating the regime). I.e. you can’t ever rely on mainstream culture if you want to go back to the roots and practice as a community authentically.

      One of the things I noticed intuitively but couldn’t figure out why before was that Western monks and especially ajahns almost always pick up the Thai traditional concept of hierarchy in a subtely but significantly different way. I think the difference is that Westerners are more deeply and thoroughly conditioned to think of power and authority in terms of competitive self-interest (the definition of ‘rational’ in modern Western culture is individual advantage maximisation), rather than power as correlated with a responsibility to use it prosocially and not individualistically.

      Some tribal societies, like the Mehlevi in Turkey, have apparently very explicit, structured patriarchal ‘hierarchy’, but the meaning of the positions are actually prestige not authority. I.e. the Elders have the right to speak first, or are specially listened to, but not necessarily followed. This is also related to the kind of ‘first among equals’ type of leadership. Most tribal societies have Elders or a chief of some kind -but he/she very rarely has any real power. In some cases, like the Tupi-Guayaki in Paraguay (described by Clastres, in Society Against the State) the position of ‘chief’ is culturally designed exactly to be utterly impotent but also to prevent anyone else from taking the position either.

      I’m basically saying -don’t jump to conclusions. Even the type of ‘hierarchy’ in Thai monastic culture is subtly but significantly different from the way it’s developed in the Western branches.

      The way the practice of seniority is defined in the Suttas and Vinaya is radically, totally, systematically different from how it is commonly practiced in modern Buddhism -which is really ‘hierarchy’.

      Yes, the way nissaya is interpreted and practiced now is hierarchical, with all the connotations of assumed entitlement to command, despotic power like chimps, (anti-)cultural legitimation of competitive individualism of the alpha males/abbots, but that is not at all the way it is defined in the Suttas and Vinaya.

      Just because the terms are the same doesn’t mean the practiced meanings of those terms are still the same, not at all. Be cautious.

      Basically I agree with what Bhante Sujato said in his response to your comment.

      The way the principle of seniority is defined in Vinaya it is basically a matter of relations between monks as individuals, when it comes to sangha interactions, seniority is not supposed to have much importance. Elders who are learned and habitually wise should be listened to very carefully, but if they’re wrong or mistaken in comparison to Dhamma-Vinaya, they should not be followed.

      Claims to power based on thinking “I am senior” are one of the reasons to consider a monk not fit to act as an anuvijjaka/moderator in legal proceedings according to the (slightly later) parts of the Parivara (the miscellaneous collection of early-ish Vinaya texts included in the canon, parts are probably original, most is later but very much in keeping, imo).

      Sorry this is so long, but it’s the first time I’ve written it all together in this context in a long time and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for many years.

    • hi Kester,

      That’s tremendous, I’ve got a couple of questions for you.

      I’m somewhat surprised at the major divide you depict between chimp society and tribal organization; of course, tribes themselves vary greatly in nature, and they are, in comparison to more ‘developed’ social structures, egalitarian (with no wealth to speak of, there isn’t very much to base difference upon). But you do get a strong development of the ‘Big Man’, for example in the performance of potlatch and other ceremonies that are precisely for engendering ‘prestige’. Any comments?

      Second, you explain the difference in operational hierarchy between western and thai monks as due to the western use of hierarchy for self-interest, rather than for social good. This is precisely the difference between the Indic ‘Khattiyadhamma’ (machievellian power) and ‘rajadhama’ (binding principles to ensure the king works for social good). But it is not clear to me that this really marks the difference in this case. It is a complex issue, with a strong personal dimension since the community of western monks is not that large, so it’s difficult to generalize. But it seems to me that at least part of the difference comes from the greater emphasis in Thailand on ‘face’. That means it is expected that everyone should behave in public as if the various hierarchies were absolute; and it is equally expected that this is not what actually happens behind the scenes. I think the westerners tend to think that a display of reverence means actual reverence, and act accordingly. The Thais understand that it’s just a form. Does this relate to what you were saying?

    • Hey

      sorry for the slow reply, I was in hospital over the weekend with a huge nasal abscess and a fever, on IV antibiotics and had emergency surgery to relieve the pressure in the abscess because the pain was driving me bonkers. I got out yesterday afternoon and it’s a lot better. I started writing a reply yesterday evening and lost it, but 2nd attempts are usually better anyway:

      Fair points, you make.

      Basically, the generalisation that tribal societies are roughly egalitarian (‘rough’ in both senses) is generally accepted as a fact by anthropologists, even those who interpret it very differently. ‘Big Man’ traditions in New Guinea are the most frequently quoted counter-example or exception too, some say it’s a genuine exception and some say it’s not really and actually clarifies exactly what the tribal variety of anti-hierarchicalism means. I reckon it’s basically a partial exception.

      “in comparison to more ‘developed’ social structures, egalitarian (with no wealth to speak of, there isn’t very much to base difference upon” is very mistaken for many reasons -apart from any politically-correct ‘niceness’, tribal egalitarian social structures are very complex and highly developed and subtle and continuously operating, but more like an organism than a machine, so it may look simpler on the surface. Clastres in the introduction to Society Against the State has a classic refutation of all sorts of notions that tribal societies are meaningfully less developed or ‘primitive in any bad sense. Not having an excessive surplus of wealth can be an intentional cultural choice, and a very wise one too. Secondly, if a tribe doesn’t have much surplus and can’t accumulate a surplus even if it wanted to, then equitable division of meat is even more important. One of the most obvious ‘egalitarian’ features of tribes is that all over the world they are very, very strict about the equal division of large meat. If anyone kills a large animal, there are strict cultural norms for how he has to behave -humbly, generously, share it out equally. Overall that means everybody gets a more even steady supply of protein, too. Thirdly, anti-hierarchy isn’t directly or merely a matter of economic or political equality, but essentially it’s about the moral culture -somebody may come to have extraordinary wealth or temporarily be inordinately powerful in a tribe, but as long as the moral culture of the tribe still does not legitimate that, it’s still an egalitarian culture just having a troublesome episode with a deviant. That’s also the gist of why some say the ‘Big Man’ in New Guinea is not necessarily a real exception, it may be a way of circumscribing the boundaries around a man who is on the border between tolerably having more wealth and power than normal and getting perilously close to claiming cultural special extra legitimacy or authority for his position. Anyway in New Guinea, the ‘Big Men’ are listened to as long as they’re trusted and liked, but as soon as they go too far, the people make a point of publicly ignoring them.

      I don’t know much detail about potlatch ceremonies in particular, but I did read and think about sumptuary feasts in general, or obligatory communal feasting on extraordinary individual gains. They can have multiple functions which compete and their overall effect can depend on how they’re micromanaged by the community or by the individual with the surplus wealth. If the community wins, then it prevents any excessive surplus wealth accumulating that could destabilise their culture. Also if the ‘prestige’ (not necessarily prestige of leadership qualities) or more generally good social standing is in exchange for sacrificing any economic power to dominate the community, then again the community wins. If the individual manages to distort it into a way of gaining legitimation while not actually sacrificing enough of his individual wealth to become incapable of holding the community to ransom or economically tyrannizing them, then he wins. These are basically guesses about possibilities, my main point is that I think the external form of holding a potlatch ceremony or not holding one is not sufficient to discern its meaning, I think it’d be necessary to observe a lot more closely than that.

      To your second paragraph, I’m not really sure -I definitely felt there was some significant difference between the way the hierarchy in western and thai communities worked, but I’m not absolutely sure why it felt so different. To clarify what I meant about ‘for self-interest/ for social good’ -I didn’t mean that it’s overtly, grossly like that, or that the Thai abbots are all or most actually acting hierarchically for the social good, but what I meant was that on the level of their legitimative claims and rhetoric, social good is more important in the Thai rhetoric, whereas Westerners are more used to the idea of hierarchy ‘red in tooth and claw’. I don’t think the difference can be merely a ‘personal dimension’, because I felt the difference in the way Western abbots picked up the concept was consistently different from the Thais and also more similar to each other. Being under 30, it seems most obvious to me that it’s probably due to the political culture in USA-UK and I guess Australia in the last 30 years, but then a lot of the abbots are much older than that, so maybe that’s not so likely. I don’t think the idea of hierarchy in Thai monasteries is so much a matter of chain of command, it’s more a moral idea than just a political one, whereas in the western monasteries the emphasis in justifying it seems to be more plainly political -that it’s necessary/unavoidable rather than that it’s ultimately morally and cosmologically “right” ‘as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be’ kind of thing. Your comments certainly relate to what I was saying with that part, because I was just poking around in the abscess trying to work out what the root of the infection is -I’m not sure still, maybe it’s a combination of things? The greater emphasis on ‘face’ or the importance of public rhetorical coherence or appearance of integrity must be one factor, I think the political-cultural background of the Western monks and the secular political culture they’re also living in surrounded by must be another, the radically different attitude and beliefs about ‘rationality’ in mainstream western and thai cultures must be another factor, and there’s probably more factors which overlap more or less.

      Those books I mentioned before are much better than my ramblings anyway, here are the titles again:

      Chris Boehm; Hierarchy in the Forest: the evolution of egalitarianism (2000).
      David Sloan Wilson; Darwin’s Cathedral: evolution, religion and the nature of society.
      Pierre Clastres; Society Against the State (this one’s old, 70s, but sort of a classic)

    • Dear Kester,

      My goodness, I hope you’re getting better, that sounds dreadful! …arogya parama sukha…

      Regarding the Thai monks being more motivated by a sense of social good; this certainly corresponds with the essentially ‘secular’, even ‘atheistic’ Buddhism of Mongkut. He was sometimes so sceptical that his western friends were shocked. It’s pretty clear he didn’t believe it’s possible to attain Nibbana any more; and it seems likely he didn’t actually believe in rebirth. The Thai Buddhism that stems from his partially-successful reforms is clearly oriented towards maintaining the Thai social fabric, and actual spiritual beliefs and practices are more or less irrelevant. Ajahn Maha Bua talks of how when he was a young monk in bangkok trying to meditate, the other monks would ridicule him.

      It reminds me of the latter days in Greece and Rome, when the sophisticates had largely given up belief in the gods in any conventional sense, and yet continued to serve the cults. Or even in modern Christianity; Bishop Spong talks about how they received an intelligent, sceptical, and inquiring theological education at the seminary, which practically exploded any belief in the pious conventions of Christianity such as the Virgin Birth; but when the priests went back into the community, it was all too hard, and they just went back to the old platitudes.

  51. TCL :
    Dee dear
    But..don’t you think it should be done unanimously & harmoniously with consensus by all the Theravada traditions in the world? AB cannot say that he is only doing this in his monastery in Perth and he doesn’t care about the others, he just wanted it for his nuns.
    But in reality, AB is a theravada monk and he belongs to the theravada Sangha and by so doing, it also affected the rest of the theravada sangha all over the world. He should not take this into his hands alone, it involved the world theravada community and Sangha.
    The revival of bhikkhunis in the theravada tradition is a big thing. If it was not executed harmoniously with every one rejoicing it, it means it was not doing it right. It is just like, when someone commits an adultery, he/she had to do it discreetly as he/she knew it was a wrong thing to do.Sorry for the comparison (not to be understood directly), just using it to make my point.Thank you for your reply.

    In the Vinaya, there is no such thing as a “Theravada Sangha” -there is just the universal ordained Sangha and then particular local sanghas which are supposed to operate under the same laws but with the right to apply them independently from each other -‘autochthonous’.

    If one or a group of local sanghas are misinterpreting and misapplying Dhamma-Vinaya, the Vinaya requires that each monk or nun and each sangha take responsibility ‘from the bottom up’ for not following what they sincerely believe (even if they’re mistaken) to be wrong, but only follow Dhamma-Vinaya.

    ‘Dhamma-Vinaya’ in all the records of early/presectarian/probably mostly original Buddhism basically means the scriptures, but since the meaning of the word ‘sutta’ changed, now we say “Suttas/Sutras and Vinaya” to mean the same.

    Nikayas (lineages, schools) do not exist in Vinaya, the nearest match for the concept is samvasas -‘communions’, but the boundaries of communions are simply agreement on Dhamma-Vinaya -presently- not historically. E.g. if a monk from a Tibetan community comes to a ‘Theravada’ monastery, the monks there are supposed to ask him questions if they doubt whether they are of the same communion, and if they have no significant disagreements, they must accept him as of the same communion and do all sanghakamma together. By the same principle, if two groups of historically “WPP” monks have significant differences over Dhamma-Vinaya, they are different communions and are not permitted to do sanghakamma together until they have settled their differences down to the roots.

    A bhikkhu or bhikkhuni does not belong to “Theravada” and has no special obligations to any ‘Theravada’ Sangha, he or she is just Buddhist, and the only obligation is to Dhamma and Vinaya.

    The community exists through that shared commitment to Dhamma-Vinaya, not by relying on anything else or by compromising on the actual practical basis of the communion to maintain a mere appearance of ‘harmony’. ‘Harmony’ in Vinaya is actually defined as agreement on Dhamma as Dhamma, Vinaya as Vinaya, etc. the eighteen points.

    In terms of Vinaya, it was executed harmoniously because all the bhikkhus of the local sangha in the boundary agreed.

    There is always a balance in any society to be found between minimising centralisation of power, which is dangerous to society, and maximising cooperation, which creates society. But cooperation has to be through moral unity in Dhamma-Vinaya. A religious community can only exist by relying on a communal ethos, not by compromise or by peer conformity.

  52. I don’t have the time to read over everything in this blog. Anyway, the time and energy used up in doing so could be much better spent on studying and contemplating a sutta, or actually practising meditation. I have been practising Buddha-Dhamma to the humble extent I am able to for about 20 years now (with many stops and/or sidetracks along the way), so it is with humility that I say that since none of us can claim to be utterly free from mental defilements, how can any of us make an ultimate pronouncement on this issue? I wish Ajahn Chah WAS here to sort this mess out, I’m sure he would say we are mostly missing the main point of Buddhist practice, the ‘heartwood’, and are getting lost debating the arrangement of it’s outer ‘bark’. I’m off to investigate my own mind, there is no salvation other than in this, as far as I can see.

  53. Lord Buddha’s Dhamma may be relevant to understand this incident.
    “Daruno bhikkhave labha-sakkara-siloko”
    A full chapter of Samyutta is devoted to this topic. [I am writing from memory. I do not remember the exact point]
    Lord Buddha, The Dhamma of Lord Buddha, and the Savakasangha do not exist.
    Lord Buddha’s Vinaya has nothing to do with the present “Buddhist monks” or really from the time of the first Split, historically speaking. The “monks” who split do not belong to Savakasangha.
    So the best one can do is to forget about the matter.

    • Yes, in a sense. However, please understand that I am not criticizing or disparanging anybody or the Bhikkhu community today.
      What I said is based on the Vinaya Mahavagga.
      The Lord instructed the 61 Arahants to “point out the Dhamma”. This is where the Lord instructed them to go in different directions and point out the Dhamma. “caratha bhikkhave carikam bahujanahitaya, bahujanasukhaay”. The mission of the Arahants. The story is in pp. 28-29. P
      The Lord delegated the powers to Arhants for Pabbajja and Upasampada–p 30 Horners translation. “Anujanami bhiikkave, pabbajjam..upasampada”.
      The powers were delegated to Arahants. They have achieved Sambodhi.
      Now the Sangha officially split at the first Schism. I think it happened long before but this is history.
      Thereafter there were no Arahants in the world. This is true of Theravada Mahayana Vajrayana…etc.
      In our parts of the world there exists only the “Sammuti Sangha” but not “SavakaSangha”.
      Rules of Sammuti Sangha are not the Vinaya rules promulgated by the Lord.
      I hope that clarifies my position.
      Thank you for asking the question.

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