From Prachathai by Surapot Thaweesak

Here is another article giving a Thai perspective on the bhikkhuni ordination, from http://www.prachathai.com.

Buddhist circles have recently received important news. The Sangha of Wat Nong Pa Pong in Ubon Rajathani province announced they were expelling Bodhinyana Monastery of Perth, Western Australia from its membership. This is because the Sangha of Bodhinyana performed bhikkhuni ordination. From now on Bodhinyana Monastery will not be a member of the Ajahn Chah circle of monasteries, and will no longer be supported by the Department of National Buddhist Affairs and the Council of Elders.

The reason behind the expulsion is that ordination of bhikkhunis is against the order of the Sangharaja Krom Luang Jinavornsirivatna of 1928 in which he forbade the Sangha in Thailand to give ordination to women. The Sangharaja’s order was re-affirmed in the meetings of the Council of Elders in 1984 and 1987.

The author is not surprised that the Thai Sangha should punish the Sangha of Bodhinyana Monastery by expelling them, and also I am not surprised that the Sangha of the Bodhinyana should decide to go ahead with the ordination of the bhikkhunis knowing well that it is against the Order and would incur punishment from the Thai Sangha.

I am not surprised at the punishment because it is a familiar technique for the Thai Sangha to punish a group of people who think differently by making them ‘the other’. It is the same technique used on the ‘Santi Asok’ group, and tried unsuccessfully with the ‘Dhammakaya’ group.

I am not surprised that the Bodhinyana Sangha went ahead regardless, as the stand on bhikkhunis which the Sangha of Bodhinyana has taken up is in line with the social value of respect for gender equality, and also emphasizes the spirit of the Buddha’s same message of equality.

Bearing in mind the spirit of the Buddha and the right to gender equality in contemporary society there is no reason to follow the stern ruling of the Thai Sangha.

One who has some understanding of Buddhism knows that originally the Buddha did not allow women to be ordained. But when Ananda asked if women were capable of equal spiritual attainment, the Buddha confirmed that they did, and for that reason he allowed women to join the Sangha.

We may call that this the reason ‘according to the true nature of humanity’, which affirms the truth that men and women both have equal potential to be enlightened. Thus everyone should have the same opportunity to study and practice towards enlightenment.

However, the status of being ‘ordained’ in Buddhism, apart from being a status to allow individuals to study and practice towards enlightenment, is also a ‘social status’ that depends on social and cultural context. Therefore when the Buddha gave permission for women to be ordained there were also tight conditions as seen in the eight garudhammas, starting with the rule: ‘A bhikkhuni ordained even for 100 years will pay respect to a monk ordained but that day.’

This reflects the social context within Indian society which did not recognize gender equality. In Brahmanistic culture not only were women not allowed to be ordained, they were not allowed even to read the Veda. But in Buddhist culture women were given opportunity to study and to practice towards enlightenment since the time of the conception of Buddhism.

Therefore when the Buddha allowed women to become bhikkhunis, in spite of the fact that women have the same spiritual potential to become enlightened like men, there was also the social context of the time where there was no gender equality to be taken into consideration.

But now Buddhism is in the modern world, which accepts and recognizes more of the equality between men and women. If we accept the reason ‘according to the true nature of humanity’, to accept ordination of women in the present social context would be much easier than in the Buddha’s time.

But the reaction of the Thai Sangha to the Sangha of Bodhinyana Monastery (and to Bhikkhuni Dhammananda few years earlier) reflects how the Thai Sangha is not ready to face any new challenge. Not to mention the new challenges which come with the globalization in economics, society, or politics, even when it comes to an old challenge like bhikkhuni ordination, the Thai Sangha can only make them ‘the other’. They push their own people who are more progressive to become ‘the other’. This is not solving the problem but pushing it away.

From now on, the monks who remain warmly preserved in the arms of the Thai Sangha and the Department of National Buddhist Affairs will be only those monks who are good at making amulets and engaged in business under the name of Buddhism, taking money from the public by various means. These monks in fact are ‘the others’ from the true teaching of the Buddha, but become the same flesh and bone with the Thai Sangha. Meanwhile the Sangha who are truly following the teaching and the spirit of the Buddha are being pushed out and become more and more ‘the other’.

In fact, if we look closely at the case of Bodhinyana Monastery having ordained bhikkhunis and being pushed out, the problem does not lie with the Sangha of Bodhinyana Monastery but with the Thai Sangha. It is an attempt to cover up the true reason for ordaining women as accepted and initiated by the Buddha. It is the problem of adjusting and changing to accommodate co-existence in the modern world.

Let me speak very frankly: this is a problem of isolating oneself from reason and truth in the modern world. Eventually it will be a case of missing the boat when the Thai Sangha is not able to adjust Buddhist teaching to accommodate and benefit the modern lifestyle. The Buddhist leaders the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh both emphasise that ‘the world still has Buddhism to free society from suffering.’

42 thoughts on “From Prachathai by Surapot Thaweesak

  1. Its interesting that this article as well as the previous post which quotes Professor Nidhi Eausivong both speak (from a Thai perspective) of the concern that the Thai Sangha are not rising to meet the challenges of the modern world.

    As such they are doing a grave disservice to not only the people of Thailand but to Buddism which if practised correctly, provides a timeless guidebook for life.

    ***

    I really liked this bit🙂

    ‘This reflects the social context within Indian society which did not recognize gender equality. In Brahmanistic culture not only were women not allowed to be ordained, they were not allowed even to read the Veda. But in Buddhist culture women were given opportunity to study and to practice towards enlightenment since the time of the conception of Buddhism.

    Therefore when the Buddha allowed women to become bhikkhunis, in spite of the fact that women have the same spiritual potential to become enlightened like men, there was also the social context of the time where there was no gender equality to be taken into consideration.

    But now Buddhism is in the modern world, which accepts and recognizes more of the equality between men and women. If we accept the reason ‘according to the true nature of humanity’, to accept ordination of women in the present social context would be much easier than in the Buddha’s time.’

    ***

    An intelligent and mature article. It says a lot that it came out of Thailand; it would seem that the WPP are out of touch with the wider community that they ought to be in symbiosis with. Thanks Ajahn Sujato for posting it here for all to see.

  2. I don’t think it’s fair to say that WPP specifically are being short-sighted; regardless of what has been said by both themselves and others these past few months. By far the most vocal and out of touch criticisms have been made by the city monks on the council, or those who are part of the government-sangha beaurocracy. Arguably WPP are one of the most in touch communities, what with its wide western sangha and connection to the siladhara order. Neither of these two things are perfect, as has been shown all too well, but they are factors which contribute to one of the most progressive groups in thai buddhism.
    However, given the overwhelming conservative trend within the whole of thai buddhism, I think that the reformist attitude is forcibly curved within the individual or group where it is present. What we then see is a spectrum of consevatism if you like, with liberal-conservatism at one end (i.e. WPP) and arch-conservatism at the other (i.e. the somdet and mahatherasomakom). There are clear differences, but both must be classed as consevative.
    With this in mind, it seems that the Western Ajahns are not simply procrastinating when they say they are held back by the general trend of thai buddhism. If the westerners and WPP are short-sighted, it’s because the view of the monks in bangkok is forcibly rubbing off on them. I may simply be restating the view of the Western Ajahns here, I hope not, and I don’t want to come across as defending the decision against Ajahn Brahm. All I’m saying is that I think it’s very unfair to criticize WPP specifically as if they are the sole source of the problems here, when we know full well that the source is the politician-monks who really hold the power.

    • Dear Tom,

      Thanks for your remarks, and you are quite right that we need to be careful who we criticize. But I think you are incorrect to see the acts of the Bangkok authorities as more conservative than WPP. In fact, this whole issue has been driven by WPP, not the Bangkok authorities. All I have seen from the Mahatherasamakhom is a mention on their website that Bodhinyana is no longer registered as a branch of WPP. That’s it. Everything else has come from WPP itself, through direct actions or its various grey proxies such as dhammalight; or from independent figures such as the monks at Wat Thai Las Vegas. The recent press conference was precisely about WPP leveraging the Bangkok authorities to do something, not the other way around. My sense is that left to themselves, the Bangkok authorities would have done nothing; probably followed the course suggested by Dr Nidhi, that is, use the uncertain legal situation to neither accept nor reject, but wait and see how matters unfold.

      It has been apparent to us for a long time that WPP has been drifting to the conservative end of the political spectrum. In fact, in most of Thailand the bhikkhunis have lived without disturbance for several years now. Many Thai monks have been happy to offer them various forms of support. But WPP has done nothing but squash the issue time and time again.

      One might imagine that the influence of the Western monks would lead WPP to a more liberal stance, but that has clearly not been the case. This, I believe is for two reasons: the Western monks who remain close to WPP are themselves highly conservative and opposed to bhikkhunis; and the more liberal ones do not have much to do with WPP monks. There is, in fact, little meaningful dialogue between the Western and Thai Ajahns on such issue of import.

      You reference WPP’s ‘connection’ with the siladhara order. But no such connection exists. The siladhara are excluded from WPP’s own list of what they consider to be ‘monastics’ (nak buat), even though anagarikas (pah khao, white-robed lay postulants) are included. The siladharas are never consulted or referred to in any WPP documents. The idea that they are somehow an officially recognized and accepted part of WPP is a polite fiction maintained by western monks. As Pra Opas (Luang Po Sophon) made clear, siladhara are no more accepted than bhikkhunis are. Frankly, I would expect that there are rumblings going on in WPP that the siladhara order was a mistake, and I would not be surprised if Ajahn Sumedho is asked to disband it.

      It is very true that there are diverse viewpoints within any organization. It is wrong to blame all the members of the organization for the acts of some members. Nevertheless, there is a sense of corporate responsibility. This is particularly the case now, as one of the chief grievances of the western Ajahns is that Ajahn Brahm did not follow acceptable corporate procedure. Having depicted WPP as following a consensual, communal approach, they cannot turn around and disclaim association from WPP’s more extreme statements. The claims made by Pra Opas in the recent press conference were made by him as the senior monk in the formal committee charged by WPP with this task. Unless we hear otherwise, we must take them as representative of the WPP tradition as a whole, including the western Ajahns.

  3. Tom is making some good points there, imo.

    I think it is important to keep in mind that nothing useful can come out criticising this group or that group. Even though there might be individuals in any group who act less than skillful, I think we should keep in mind that Ajahn Brahm, WPP, WAM and perhaps the overall Thai sangha “clergy” act as they see right and proper.

    Note that considering something right and proper does not mean that it is right and proper when seen in a different/wider context (though I have already expressed my personal and highly subjected view on this).

    It shows, however, that within any of the groups, there is “limited” and conditioned understanding not yet free of defilements. This does apply to us and many if not most/all of the monks on either side of this rift. I think we should keep this in our mind and try not to foster ill-will or “blame” towards the proponents of either stance, but use this to apply to all parties🙂

    A.

    • Givf edit button please😉

      My last half sentence was supposed to read “but use this to apply METTA to all parties :)”

  4. sujato :
    Nevertheless, there is a sense of corporate responsibility. This is particularly the case now, as one of the chief grievances of the western Ajahns is that Ajahn Brahm did not follow acceptable corporate procedure. Having depicted WPP as following a consensual, communal approach, they cannot turn around and disclaim association from WPP’s more extreme statements. The claims made by Pra Opas in the recent press conference were made by him as the senior monk in the formal committee charged by WPP with this task. Unless we hear otherwise, we must take them as representative of the WPP tradition as a whole, including the western Ajahns.

    Dear Bhante, I fully agree with you here and am interested to see how the Western representative are going to handle this discrepancy.

    Metta,
    A.

    • I totally agree with Ace. We should not judge a forest for a tree. [In fact, Ajahn Brahm always tells us not to judge anyone at all.🙂 ] On the other hand, if Phra Kru Opas and some other monks claimed at the press conference that they represented the WPP Sangha, which included western monks, we have to give them the benefits of the doubt that they were not lying. Afterall, they have 227 precepts.

      So, I beg other Ajahns who are skilled in goodness to come out and lend a hand in making things truthful as well as peaceful.

      Metta to all,

  5. it is very heartening to see the WWP doing their best to bring Bhikkhuni ordination to fruition, it reminds me of when the berlin wall came down, the more the authorities tried to persist the more they galvanized opposition and action, through suppression the brought action, very similar to what is happening and gathering momentum in IRAN. Suppression repression as oppossed to restraint can only last so long the will to freedom can not be denied for ever

  6. Sorry this is slighty off subject from the post above,but i was wondering if Bhante Sujato(or anyone else on this blog) can point me to the suttas where the Buddha states that he can pass into Parinibbana now that he has established the Fourfold Assembly i.e that monks AND nuns where part of his vison of the Sangha. I also seem to recall that there was a small essay written on it(or the subject was covered in an essay),however i cant remember where i read it or who wrote it.

    Also,does anyone know whether when the Buddha mentions the Buddhas of the past – is there any mention of them having established a community of monks AND nuns?

    If anyone could point me in the right direction for any of the above – this would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,

    Ben

    • Hi Ben,

      The Buddha talks about not passing into final nibbana until he has established a well-practising community of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (DN 246).

      I’m looking at page 247 of the translation by Maurish Walsh entitled The Long Discourses of the Buddha and published by Wisdom.

      Not sure about your second questions though.

      >j<

    • Hi Ben,

      It’s a standard piece of Buddhology that all Buddhas have the fourfold assembly. For example, in the Lakkhana Sutta (DN 30), several of the special marks shared by all Buddhas are representative of the fourfold assembly. In some versions of the origin story for bhikkhunis, Ananda argues that the Buddha should ordain women, since all Buddhas, past and future, have the fourfold assembly.

      These, together with the passage cited by jason, are just a few contexts, but throughout the Buddhist texts the shape of the complete sasana is always the fourfold assembly.

    • Dear Ben, responding to your question about past buddhas having ordained bhikkhus and bhikkhunis:
      Don’t overlook the “Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta” MN 142 (“The Exposition of Offerings”), in which the Buddha described “seven kinds of offerings made to the Sangha,” explaining the relative levels of merit resulting from gifts to seven types of groupings of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, and both bhikkhus & bhikkhunis. The Buddha reportedly spoke it to Mahapajapati Gotami while she was still a laywoman, that is, before our Buddha established a Bhikkhuni Sangha.

      (Some readers may be fascinated to know something else about this discourse. The Buddha gave this teaching in response to Mahapajapati Gotami’s failed attempt to get the Buddha to personally accept cloth that she had made by hand, which the Buddha refused while insisting that she receive the (greater) merit of giving the cloth to the Sangha. On this occasion Ananda intervened on Mahapajapati Gotami’s behalf and pleaded with the Buddha to receive the cloth, using words similar to his later plea that reportedly caused the Buddha to allow the bhikkhunis to go forth, but in this case Ananda’s plea for cloth acceptance was more elaborate –and yet unsuccessful. This sutta thus quietly refutes the idea that Ananda talked the Buddha into accepting women into the Sangha against the Buddha’s better judgement.)

  7. “Let me speak very frankly: this is a problem of isolating oneself from reason and truth in the modern world”

    WPP: Isolating ourselves from reason and truth is not the problem, it is the solution!

    It is said, that like the great ocean, the Sangha does not tolerate a corpse, it expels it.
    But to me it seems, the corpses expel themselves.

    Something I find very interesting – is that even ordinary, not well-informed, non-Buddhists… have a strong instinctive idea of what a Monk shouldn’t do.
    They have the idea that Monk’s shouldn’t be arrogant, opinionated, bigoted, mean-hearted, back-biters. Even if westerners don’t necessarily approve of even the good Monks, they CERTAINLY know to say “A MONK shouldn’t do that kind of thing!”.
    This is perhaps a bit different to the loyal lay Buddhists who tend to support all Monks without much discrimination – even if only out of a wish to fulfill the Buddha’s teachings on universal compassion (ie they KNOW the Monks are rotten, but support them anyway).

    The Anti-Bhikkuni element used to be hiding in plain sight. Now they’re exposing themselves in plain site (excuse me for being crude, but it’s about as ugly). Those westerners who are interested in Buddhism (but not yet committed) are CERTAINLY going to know who are worth supporting. And it’s also not just the westerners, but also the modern generation of educated Asians who have higher expectations.

    I’ll forgive a Monk for actions which make my less devoted friends want to vomit in disgust, and I’ll bow to him as an exercise in humbling myself. This is perhaps, something that cloistered Monks, who are only ever exposed to people like myself, aren’t really aware of. These guys just can’t survive in the real world.

  8. Theravada – the Way/Teachings of the Elders: if I may interpret it must surely be about tradition, lineage, homage and respect for elders. What Ajahn Brahm did, and he so proudly justified and knew too well that WPP would not agree. Out of respect, Ajahn Brahm should remove the Theravada robe, find another tradition, and do what he liked or believed in. One cannot wear the uniform of an air-force captain and be the navy’s rear admiral!
    This is not about east or west and if so, the two will never meet!

    • Respectfully aah-haa,I hope that someone more skilled in the teachings than myself will answer you fully, but as an ‘eastern’ woman, I thought that we love and praise the Theravada teachings because we believe they are most authentic to what the Buddha actually taught about the dhamma. We have to go back to what the Buddha taught. The debate here has been trying to uncover what the Buddha taught compared to what is being taught now. Not always the same thing. This is bigger than WPP and Ajahn Brahm, though because of what has happened, they have bought clarity to this question and given us all the opportunity to see if its right or wrong to ordain women. Neither does WPP speak for all Theravada. There are Theravada monks and nuns in Sri Lanka etc. With respect aah-haa, both you and I love the dhamma and want it to flourish as it should. The Buddha ordained Bhikkhuni and had many Bhikkhuni in that time. Nothing in the Buddhas teachings say it is wrong to ordain Bhikkhuni now. It’s not about east and west. It’s about the truth and what is righ and good. Is it good to deny 50% of world the opportunity to practice as nun if they wish to achieve enlightenment? The Buddha did not deny women this wonderful aspiration. I am learning from this blog what the Buddha said. The people blogging here have a lot of knowledge of the Buddha’s teachings. And I have deep respect for anyone who teaches the dhamma as given in the suttas, free of cultural bias. This is what my heart is interested in.

    • Yups. I’m an Australian born Chinese man. If east and west cannot meet, then I do not exist.

      >j<

    • Hi aah-haa,

      The Sangha is not an army unit. A close study of the Vinaya reveals that it is more like a handbook for harmony among anarchists than a military code. For example, few people know that there are no abbots (let alone airforce captains) mentioned in the Vinaya. Also, the Vinaya does not invest anyone with the power to command others.

      Poor Ajahn Brahm. He has already been rejected by the brothers that he loves. Now you would even have him remove the clothes on his back!

      Fortunately for Ajahn Brahm, the robes he wears are not the robes of Theravada They are the robes of the Buddhasassana.

      And should we ask that the robes of all the Sri Lankan Theravadans who have ordained bhikkhunis be removed also? This would be a delicious irony as Sri Lankan Theravada is an elder lineage to Thai Theravada. After all, Theravada started in the Mahaviraha of Sri Lanka.

      However imperfect we may perceive him to be, Ajahn Brahm is a fellow Buddhist, so let him keep his robes. Whatever harm he may have had a part in creating, he is a human being, so let us forgive him.

      >j<

    • “One cannot wear the uniform of an air-force captain and be the navy’s rear admiral!”

      This sounds like the birth of Buddhist Nazism! Heil ‘Theravada’!!

    • You mentioned “Theravada – the Way/Teachings of the Elders: if I may interpret it must surely be about tradition, lineage, homage and respect for elders”.

      Simple question: How many of the Theravadan monks today are TRULY following the Ways/Teachings of the Elders??? Or are they simply interpreting the Teachings to suit their selfish Way which is so often labelled as lineage, tradition.

      There is only one lineage, the Buddha, The others are man-made, self-interest projection of the BIG EGO, be it ethnicity, Sectarianism, West or East.

  9. I really love you all for taking a simple analogy to the extreme – Nazism. Was Hitler a Buddhist and the Third Reich a Buddhist organisation with the swastika symbol? The fact that there are so many schools/traditions showed that someday, somehow, someone will come with yet another. I already sensed this is in the process.
    The Thai Sangha and WPP in particular may be archaic in preserving a tradition or whatever you wish to call it. Ajahn Brahm wanted to break it and have justified, and so are the thousands out there having similar thoughts. The issue in perspective was not about sexism, equality, right to practice and to achieve Enlightenment, and many other senseless points brought up by detractors because WPP had never considered these as reasons for booting Bodhinyana out. Period. Finito. Chao.
    My use of air-force and navy uniform is not about militarism but just an illustration that one can’t be a member of one group and try to do another. Unfortunately, the twisted minds of some would-be enlightened have become disillusioned. Similarly, taking off the robe is symbolic; to show that one is no longer, say in the air-force because he now wants to be a navy seal. There was no suggestion that Ajahn Brahm could not remain a monk.
    I will put it simply: if a member of my group no longer wants to uphold the tenets that he originally accepted but now wants to do his own things no matter how right, how good, how noble, how sacrificing, how acceptable, how modern – the right thing for that member to do – is to honourable quit before being dishonourably discharged.
    Mark Twain said: East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. If one happens to be an Asian living in the West and is living in comfort, then well and good for him. That is not the issue. Also the issue of expulsion was not about East and West, if so the two will never meet – as Mark Twain claimed.

    • With respect aah-haa, the Theravada robe does not belong to WPP or even Thailand. There are Theravada monks and nuns in Sri Lanka and other countries. They do not have to take off their robes because their disagree with WPP. Why should they? They may not even have heard of WPP. Forgive me, but I don’t see what you are trying to say.

    • Hmmm.. the robe is just a piece of cloth. I am sure Ajahn Brahm’ one is Theravada of the WPP lineage. The Ajahn can of course wear those from Sri Lanka.
      What you don’t see is the cryptic message I made. What you see is the physical act to disrobe!

    • WPP doesn’t have specific robes does it? Because I think you’re getting WPP and Thailand confused with Theravada.

    • aah-haa, you make a good point that booted out of the club simply because he wasn’t willing to do what he was told, and not for any other reason. He was told to declare the ordination null and void, but wouldn’t because he knew it was valid and that his statement wouldn’t change that validity – as such he’d be making a deliberate nonfactual statement which might be considered a lie.
      WPP essentially said: “Lie” and Brahm said “I wont lie” and WPP said “If you don’t lie we’ll expel you” and Brahm said “I wont lie, do what you will”.
      An interesting question is whether WPP knew what they were asking, the ploy of asking someone to do something impossible, then punishing them for failing to comply, is an old favorite.

      But anyway, the point other people are making, is that the robes are not a WPP ‘club uniform’. The robes are generic forest Monk robes. Monks who practice under Maha Boowa wear just the same kind of robes as Ajahn’s Chah’s Monks, despite the former being thammayut nikaya while the latter are maha nikaya. Even though these two different traditions (sometimes) refuse to chant patimoka together, they can still wear exactly the same robes without friction. Ajahn Brahm would probably be welcome to join/lead the Patimoka in most Ajahn Chah branches, so the degree of separation is much less in this case.

    • WPP essentially said: “Lie” and Brahm said “I wont lie” and WPP said “If you don’t lie we’ll expel you” and Brahm said “I wont lie, do what you will”.
      Could you confirm if this was a conjecture or actual recorded statements?

    • Dear Aah-haa,

      Thanks for your comments. There’s a few things i could raise in what you say, but it seems to me you express the crux of your argument very well:

      if a member of my group no longer wants to uphold the tenets that he originally accepted …. – the right thing for that member to do – is to honourable quit before being dishonourably discharged.

      The problem here is that opposing bhikkhunis was never a ‘tenet’ of WPP when we joined it. It was simply a non-issue. It wasn’t spoken of. Of course we knew that there were no bhikkhunis in Thailand (at that time), but no-one ever told us that we could never support bhikkhuni ordination. Indeed, no-one ever told me that I had to follow the rules of the Mahatherasamakhom, especially overseas.

      WPP made a rule against bhikkhunis just a couple of years ago. They did this without consulting any of those who are supporting bhikkhunis, and without discussing and studying the issues. Nor did they lay down any penalty for someone who disobeys the rule.

      WPP has many rules, and monks disobey them all the time. It’s against WPP rules to make holy water, but they all do it. It’s the same for the rules of any any organization, including the Vinaya; most rules are guidelines, and people break them with no penalty or some kind of redressable penalty. Only in the case of a few very serious offences is there instant expulsion.

      If someone today joins WPP, then yes, they should be aware that there is an absolute and permanent prohibition against bhikkhuni ordination, and they should not join it if they disagree with this. But even now, the WPP Western Ajahns are trying to maintain the position that they’re not really opposed to bhikkhuni ordination.

    • Thank you Ajahn for your reply. There are many rules as in any other organisations. I plead ignorance of WPP rules. However, it is interesting to note that monks break rules and sometimes get away with little penalty. A non-issue becomes an issue when raised just like if one does not have to cross a river, bridge or no bridge is non-issue.
      Having said what I said, the point again is about membership of an association that is fraud with rules, traditions, idiosyncrasies and even clinging. Needless to say WPP wasn’t happy about the bhikkuni ordination and Ajahn Brahm knew full well there will be opposition. That being the case, the right thing to do is to disassociate with WPP.
      Now that Bodhinyana is expelled, isn’t the outcome similar?

    • Yes, if WPP was happy to let matters rest. However, as the press conference shows, and the acts of the Ajahns trying to have Ajahn Brahm removed as abbot of BSWA, there are forces within WPP that are not content.

    • This isn’t good. Divorce is seldom without acrimony. Some monks in the Group have yet to learn how to let go. But letting go is easier said than done. The hurt is deep. The monks saw it as betrayal and reneging an unspoken pledge. Seriously, I don’t see the sense of urgency in the ordination of the four bhikkhunis ahead of the WAM. What is so urgent? Is there a race to Nibbanna?
      Maybe a thought for reflection: if it is possible to unwind the clock, would AB and BM, Preceptor and others, do things differently?

    • Perhaps it was suspected that the discussion of Bhikkhuni’s at the WAM, would lead not to a decision to support Bhikkhuni’s, but instead a decision to toughen up the anti-Bhikkhuni stance.
      There has been that trend, for example the five points where the siladhara’s were forced to accept that their training would never lead to Bhikkhunihood.

    • The agenda item to discuss bhikkhunis was orginally proposed by Ajahn Kevali. Once he said to me, ‘No Theravadin monk will ever support bhikkhuni ordination.’ I think we can safely say that it’s unlikely he proposed this discussion point in order to support bhikkhuni ordination. However, this was not a factor in the decision, as this was an obscure detail we came across by accident just days before the ordination.

      Kevali also arranged for Ajahn Liem to be at the meeting, which was clearly intended to reinforce the unity and orthodoxy of WPP policies.

  10. about people being pushed out ….. the other …. yes you can see many examples
    of that…. religious elites protecting their pre-eminence………..hmmmm

  11. aah-haa :
    WPP essentially said: “Lie” and Brahm said “I wont lie” and WPP said “If you don’t lie we’ll expel you” and Brahm said “I wont lie, do what you will”.
    Could you confirm if this was a conjecture or actual recorded statements?

    It’s neither conjecture or an actual recorded statement. That is why I use the “essentially” word, the crux of the matter is that there was only two ways for Ajahn Brahm to fulfill the request. He had to either utter a deliberate lie, or he had to thoroughly convince himself of what he knew was a falsehood and then speak from that place of self-deception. Which would probably also count as a lie.

    Please note, that Brahm stated very clearly that he was willing to follow the consensus of WPP. But he was then asked to reverse what he had already done. But Bhikkhuni acceptance is not a reversible transaction unless it was flawed (ie the candidate was under 20 years old).
    Even if Ajahn Brahm had agreed and said “The ordination was not valid, those women are not Bhikkhuni’s” (which is the statement WPP wanted him to make) – his statement would not make the ordination invalid, nor would it make the Bhikkhuni’s non-Bhikkhunis. And thus his statement would be a deliberate lie.

    I may be cynical – but I think at least one of the Theras angles was basically that if he spoke thus, his followers would believe him. Which is basically a blatant disregard for truth in favor of politics.
    When religions get too much power, they would often force people to proclaim the religions view, and threatened them with death, bodily harm or other actions if they didn’t. The people doing the forcing didn’t care how the person rationalized making the statement, they just wanted to hear it. Whether through being convinced, self-deception or a lie – they just wanted to hear the statement. In part because it would cause other peoples faith to waver.

    I really think exactly the same thing was going on. They THREATENED Ajahn Brahm that if he didn’t make a statement which supported WPP views, he would be expelled. There’s generally laws against that kind of thing in civilized countries.

    • I am in favour of a balanced approach. Lie, truth, threat, and other conjectures are purely speculative. Clinging to tradition is not acceptable unless it accords with reason (Kalama Sutta). Note that Buddha was reluctant to set up the Bhikkhuni Order and the reasons were explained to me by of all persons a Bhikkhuni herself. If WPP and the Thai Sangha were not in favour for some reasons, I am sure Ajahn Brahm and all monks from WPP lineage should know already even if it was a non-issue at whatever point in time.
      Ajahn Brahm had his agenda and the women he ordained have cravings. The Sangha as I understood was founded by Buddha to fast track those who are desirous of reaching Enlightenment. All others take the slow route! The Buddha was not against women who wanted to be Bhikkhunis and I don’t think WPP was, as many had mistaken.
      That Thai Theravadans considers ordination of Bhikkhuni had died a long time ago and cannot be revived is short-sighted. Rules are man-made and they are meant to be broken. And monks break rules regularly! So new rules have to be made. The Vinaya will need more than a basket to hold! How one is going to take refuge in the Sangha is a big question and I supposed it was a non-issue until I mention it now! What Ajahn Brahm did for all his belief that he was right, doing good, following Buddha and so forth, he did one thing for sure – caused schism in the Sangha and the lay is confused. This blog and many others are evident and all are suffering!
      As I allegorised earlier, if one wants to be a navy seal, he can’t continue to be in an air-force uniform. To remain so is CLINGING. And out of FEAR.

    • Dear aah-haa,

      Oooh.. i think what you were trying to say was, if AB still wanted to be accepted in the Aj Chah lineage, he should not have gone against their House rules or Constitution? AB cannot expect to still be in the lineage and at the same time violate the lineage’s House rules or Constitution laid down. A Resolution had to be passed for any decision to be made, to have order in the House. Right?

      What is the problem now. AB can now be free to do what he likes or what robes he likes to wear without being bound and dictated by his Thai & Western Elders. He now can have a free hand to start his own Australian Elders lineage and his Bhikkhunis lineage like a “Reformed Buddhist” or “Born Again Buddhist” without the Thai lineage. Yeah, new branding!Congratulations AB!

  12. “WPP made a rule against bhikkhunis just a couple of years ago.”

    — But in the context of the 1928 Sangha Act and a tradition of distaste towards women; it wasn’t a brand new idea a couple of years back.

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