Letter to Perth Thai Community from the BSWA

Here’s the Buddhist Society of WA’s official response to the allegations made by Wat Pah Pong stemming from the press conference on 28 December, 2009. It is signed by present and past Presidents of the Society.

4 January 2010

To Members of the Perth Thai Community,

It has come to my attention that a senior Thai monk from Wat Pah Pong has been phoning some of the Thai people here in Perth with the intention of trying to get them to ask Ajahn Brahmawamso to resign. Following this action I have heard that three Thai ladies have started a petition for this purpose and are waiting around outside Nollamara on the weekends urging our Thai community to sign.

The allegations of misconduct made against Ajahn Brahm include the incorrect statements that Bodhinyana was built primarily with money donated by the Thai disciples of the late Ajahn Chah, and that Ajahn Chah had visited Perth, and further, that Bodhinyana had once been given to Wat Pah Pong or to Ajahn Chah. The allegations also include falsehoods that relate to the recent Bhikkuni ordinations.

I intend to set out below a response to all the allegations that have been made, so our members and the community in general will know the truth of all these matters. There has been some mischief perpetrated by some members of the Wat Pah Pong community in order to try and weaken our Nuns’ fully ordained status. My intention is not to be scornful of the Thai community or to belittle any aspect of Thai culture. The truth is that I and the committee have the greatest respect for Thai culture and the fact that Ajahn Chah has had such a wonderful influence on us all here in Perth, is a blessing for us all. My intention is to be truthful in the hope that I will not offend, but clarify the issues for us all.

Firstly, and by way of setting the scene, a Press Conference was held in Bangkok recently by the “Wat Pah Pong Executive Council”. For the first time, these WPP elder monks revealed officially and publicly that their problem with us was not with any secrecy or lack of consultation but with the Bhikkhuni Ordination itself. They are implacably opposed to the reintroduction of the Bhikkuni order. Phra Khru Opaswuthikon said:

“If action is not taken, the council fears that more women could be ordained in the West. Sooner or later, we’ll see female monks everywhere”.

He added that the introduction of the Siladhara order, or 10-precept nuns which was set up by the most senior western monk, Ajahn Sumedho, as an alternative to female monks in Thailand was also “unthinkable”.

I along with our committee believe this unbending stance has justified our decision not to consult with Wat Pah Pong before the Bhikkhuni Ordination, as such consultation would have been not only a waste of time, but also may have led to the Bhikkhuni Ordination being blocked.

The following points will set the record straight with the allegations that have been made.

Bodhinyana Monastery was never given to Ajahn Chah, nor to Wat Pa Pong. Ajahn Chah had a stroke during the Rains Retreat of 1983 and was subsequently unable to speak or travel. A few months later, on December 1st 1983, the vacant land for Bodhinyana Monastery was purchased. It is not possible that Bodhinyana Monastery could have been given to Ajahn Chah because he was incapacitated before the land was purchased. Nor was Bodhinyana Monastery ever given to Wat Pah Pong. From the very beginning, Bodhinyana Monastery remained the property of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, not of any monk. According to Australian Law, it would be illegal to give Bodhinyana Monastery to Wat Pah Pong or to any other organisation.

Bodhinyana Monastery was not “built primarily with money donated by the Thai disciples of Ajahn Chah”. It was built with donations coming mostly from within Australia, from Sri Lankan, Burmese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Thai and Australian members of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, out of faith in the monks at Bodhinyana. Significant overseas funds came early on from Chao Khun Pannyananda of Bangkok, Somchai’s “Esso Buddhist Group”, Khun Prayoonsri of Bangkok, and later from Malaysia and Singapore. These were given out of faith in Ajahn Jagaro, and later in Ajahn Brahm.

Bodhinyana Monastery is not a Thai Temple, it is a Theravada Buddhist Monastery open to all nationalities. It has a wide support base consisting of Buddhists of many nationalities. Nevertheless, most Thai Buddhists in Perth go to Bodhinyana Monastery, and the associated Dhammaloka Centre in Perth, out of faith in the teachings, compassion and conduct, that they have observed in the monks of Bodhinyana for over 26 years.

Ajahn Brahm has never been accused of Temple mismanagement. Because of Australian Law, all donations and payments are audited by a professional outside accountant and the audited statements are presented to the members of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia every year at the annual AGM. No Temple in Thailand has to undergo such meticulous scrutiny.

Ajahn Brahm has never changed the Temple bylaws. According to Australian Law, it is impossible for a monk or any one person to change the bylaws in the Constitution of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. Such changes can only be done at an Annual General Meeting, or at a Special General Meeting, with a two thirds majority of members agreeing to the change. Consequently, Ajahn Brahm has not made such changes “in his own interest”, nor “despite any disagreement from the Bodhinyana Sangha”. The Bodhinyana Sangha has always supported Ajahn Brahm.

Temple Ownership has not “greatly troubled the Thai Buddhists in Australia”. There have been no problems in this area.

The Bhikkhuni Ordination was fully supported by the members of The Buddhist Society of Western Australia, and most Thai Buddhists in Perth have no problem with supporting the new Bhikkhunis. Some senior Thai Buddhists living in Perth attended the Ordination ceremony to show their support.

Ajahn Brahm did not ordain the four Bhikkhunis. The preceptor was the American born Theravada Bhikkhuni, Ayya Tathaloka. Another American born Theravada Bhikkhuni, Ayya Sobhana, together with a German born Theravada Bhikkhuni, Ayya Sucinta, chanted the “Kammavaca”. The four women were ordained by Bhikkhunis. Ajahn Brahm participated in the “Confirming” ceremony performed by the Bhikkhu Sangha that followed the ordination, as required by the Vinaya.

Since the lineage follows that of the preceptor, the four Bhikkhunis in Australia belong to the “Nikaya” of their preceptor, which is the Syam Nikaya of Sri Lanka. Therefore, they should be of no concern to the Thai Buddhist authorities.

Vinaya Masters are clear that Ajahn Brahm did not break any rule of Vinaya. Moreover, as he was not the Preceptor, or Upajjhaya, he did not transgress long established Thai Sangha Law.

Ajahn Brahm did not receive any invitation to the meeting of monks at Wat Pah Pong on 16th January 2010. Having not been invited, he cannot have refused any invitation.

As current and a past President of the Buddhist Society I know that the above account of the issues involved is correct, but as you will see I have asked those past Presidents that are currently available to counter sign this letter. I personally have not had any contact, in any way, with anyone, who has had any issues with the way our Buddhist Society has handled the Bhikkuni ordination, apart from people being disappointed that they could not attend. If you do have any further concerns, I would be happy to receive your question or queries directly. My telephone number is (08) 9367 3918.

I am disappointed that Ajahn Brahm is being treated with such disrespect, and I know that most people reading this letter will concur. However, I also know that Ajahn Brahm has very broad shoulders and will let this issue flow away “like water off a ducks back”. Having said this I call on all of our members to come together with good will and show support for Ajahn Brahm and the Buddhist Society of WA.

Yours very respectfully,

Dennis Sheppard
President BSWA

Counter signed by Past Presidents
Rachel Green
Don Weerakody
Sol Hanna
James Pinakus
Binh Anson

189 thoughts on “Letter to Perth Thai Community from the BSWA

  1. Dear Readers

    Could someone pls invite the BSWA committee to seriously consider writing to WPP to impose the Act of Reconciliation (patisaraniyakamma) on Phra Kru Opas for his scurillious attacks and suggestions wrt Ajahn Brahm and Bodhinyana?

    If that Sangha does not respond, perhaps we can write to Phra Kru Opas’ administrative superiors, ie the Mahatherasamakom, asking for the same sanction? That may not technically be a “sangha” for Vinaya purposes, but I do not see this council shying away from conduct that is ex-Vinaya, so they should have no qualms about exercising another ex-Vinaya deed.

    • Dear Sylvester,

      Well, I think such a complaint would be justified, but whether the BSWA wants to inflame things even more is another matter. They’ve made their response, and I don’t think there will be any practical effect in Perth, except a small number of dissaffected Thai Buddhists.

  2. What about re-framing this issue to conceive of Thai Buddhism as the minority position? Such a move might be a great boon to the growth and authentication of a uniquely Western monastic Buddhism, suited to the common denominators of the developed world. Historically other countries were allowed such leeway, often with the result of splicing in some culture alongside the Dhamma, so I see no reason why a strong Western monastic Sangha can’t be where we go from here.

  3. Dear Dennis & all past presidents of BSWA,

    thank you for posting this letter of clarification to the Perth Thai community (hopefully it has been translated into Thai). I can not believe that any long term Thai supporters of Bodhinyana Monastery would seriously consider acting on the instructions of senior Thai monks to remove Ajahn Brahm as abbot, nor attempt to claim the monastery as a “Thai Wat”. These good people have had more than 26 years to observe Ajahn’s conduct, teachings and virtue close up, and in a wide variety of circumstances.

    Whoever is agitating for disharmony within BSWA and the local Thai community, by spreading falsehood and slander can not know the purity and integrity of Ajahn Brahm’s character. I feel much sympathy for them. Our loyalty as Buddhists should be to the Dhamma, truth and compassion, not to nationalism or political power. As John Milton wisely said: “The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words” (Apology for Smectymnuus (1642).) I apologise for not following Milton’s exacting words here! Also, one should heed the advice from the Dhammapada:

    Whosoever offends a harmless person,
    One pure and guiltless,
    Upon that very fool the evil recoils
    Even as fine dust thrown against the wind.

    Yours sincerely,

    Michael Percy (ex-Mudita Bhikkhu)

    • What a lovely message, Michael.

      We in Singapore miss that enormous cankama caterpillar you created in the Buddhist Fellowship’s small Dhamma hall.🙂

      Hope you’re doing well.

    • Hi Sylvester,

      yes, I’m doing well thanks. My wife Dania & I have been invited by Ajahn Brahm to be the new caretakers of Jhana Grove Retreat Centre. Plenty of room for walking meditation there! Look forward to seeing you & my friends from BF Singapore, when you’re next in Perth.

    • Michael, in response to your apology, I hope you’ll forgive my cheek…but you may not have followed Milton’s exacting words but you may have followed Ajahn Brahm’s not so exacting ones… Cos you hissed…but you did not bite. (Anyone one who doesn’t get this reference, I refer to the story of the Snake who wanted to keep the precepts…I think its in the book Opening the Door of Your Heart.)

      You and Dania will be fabulous caretakers; you’ll both be perfect for J. Grove and J. Grove will be perfect for you both.🙂 Much Mudita to you both.

  4. To set the record straight, since Bswa is sincere in proving innocence on their part publicly, how about posting publicly the audited account of bodhiyana,dammasara & jhana grove centre to settle the allegations once & for all & have closure instead of dragging on with blind accusations.

    • As far as i know, the audited accounts of the BSWA are in fact made publicly available. But the BSWA is the proper place to address this question.

      Since the accusations are purely malicious and have no basis in fact, personally I doubt whether actual facts will make any difference to WPP’s accusations.

  5. Hello

    I recall that Ajahn Mahabua recently criticised a certain forest temple in Korat.

    I believe that Phra Opas is Abbott of a temple it Korat. Wonder if is the same one?

    • Dear Thomas,

      I’ve written here somewhere about Phra Opas after I did some search on the monks at the Press Conference.

      If my memory serves me right, Phra Kru Opas is an abbot of the 20th WPP branch monastery in Ayuddhaya, and Phra Kamphong, anothr monk at the press conference, is an abbot of a monastery in Korat or Nakhon Ratchasima.

  6. Quote: “Ajahn Brahm did not ordain the four Bhikkhunis. The preceptor was the American born Theravada Bhikkhuni, Ayya Tathaloka. Another American born Theravada Bhikkhuni, Ayya Sobhana, together with a German born Theravada Bhikkhuni, Ayya Sucinta, chanted the “Kammavaca”. The four women were ordained by Bhikkhunis. Ajahn Brahm participated in the “Confirming” ceremony performed by the Bhikkhu Sangha that followed the ordination, as required by the Vinaya.”
    Was this the position presented to WPP elders when Ajahn Brahm was called to explain? According to the Vinaya and the Theravada tradition, how is a num ordained?

    • Dear Aah-haa,

      Yes that how it was presented to them by Ajahn Brahm. It is also the way prescribed in the Vinaya of the Tharavada Tradition.

      The WPP monks however, were not familiar with the Vinaya procedures to ordain nuns, it was explained to them by Ajahn Brahm at the meeting in which he was delisted from WPP. You can read it in the transcript of the november 1 meeting.

      bye

    • Thank you Marc for the clarification. I took some time to read thru some other postings. It is a pity that elder monks at WPP are not familiar with the Vinaya. If this is the case, it is a sad reflection of not just the Thai Sangha but the Buddha Sangha in general. I thought all monks spend a good part of their ‘dedication’ to learning the Dhamma. I could be wrong.
      I see the objection by WPP to ordination of Theravada Bhikkhuni as confined to Thailand and it is just unfortunate that Ajahn Brahm came from there. Naturally, that association has also led to his disassociation. The Thai Sangha was concerned about preserving tradition and the monk who gave the ruling that there should be no ordination of Bhikkhuni in Thailand was unwise. He had the wrong view! And so is the Thai Sangha for not correcting that view for a long time.
      To quote 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.”
      Divorce is seldom without acrimony. One party has to pay alimony. Harmony is unlikely for now. The cacophony will give way to a symphony of concerted efforts to mend the schism (whether one like the word or not but it has happened).

  7. Dear Kind Bhante Sujato, please can you bring some comfort to lay people watching these events unfold. What causes the WPP sangha to do such things. Even lay people I know, with no spiritual practice or experience of the dhamma wouldn’t indulge in such vindictive and vengeful behaviour. They cannot get the monastery and lands so now they direct all their attack against removing Ajahn Brahm. He didn’t inform them properly when he was going to ordain Bhikkhuni’s in Australia. OK. Ajahn apologised he had not followed WPP rules according to Thai law and took the consequences of being expelled. End of story. Why these endless attacks? What is wrong with these people? They slander and lie. They stoke the fires of discontent. They persuade Thai ladies to create bad kamma for themselves. Bhante, please can you offer any comfort.

    • Apologies to most noble monk Ajahn Brahm. I said above that he ordained Bhikkhuni’s, but I mean he allowed them to be ordained within him sima. Sorry for the mistake, but I think you all know what I mean. When I read the post above this morning I was so upset I cried. It was as if a dream was dying. Westerners had such a wonderful picture of Ajahn Chah’s teachings and the Thai forest sangha monks. It was like the last true place of the Buddha’s refuge. I think I felt that way too, that’s why I’m so broken hearted. Where can we go who have sincere spiritual aspiration to shake of this world, cease our suffering and achieve enlightenment?

    • ‘Where can we go who have sincere spiritual aspiration to shake of this world, cease our suffering and achieve enlightenment?’

      With the guidance of buddha-vacana (the original pali suttas) – this very mind-and-body is where we can go to ‘shake off this world, cease our suffering and achieve enlightenment’.

      Peace.

    • Dear Florentyna,
      There are times when I feel a hint of what Rumi must have felt when he discovered the fate of Shams of Tabriz.
      Extrapolating this little grief to what the Siladaras and Ajahns and other practitioners must feel only makes it worse.
      For months I have told myself this is not so bad. And that was true. But truth – at a deeper level- be told – I have been completely frozen. Perhaps for a time, I was rationalizing instead of deeper listening to the little Song of Grief. After sheltering my heart, now I turn to face the grief, one which is and is not my own.
      I don’t care about the details anymore.
      I am concerned now for my spiritual well being.
      May I share this grief with you, dear Dhamma Sister?
      For now I drink from Rumi’s poetry to begin the gardening. I find some comfort there…Little Joy I know you are there somewhere…but I must work through this rich earth first…From grief the Wellspring of Joy?

    • Dear sister Lisa Karuna, thank you so much for your kind words. I can understand how you feel completely. I love Rumi too. Please continue with your wonderful poetic references. I like to learn more poetry too. With our hearts breaking open at this latest shameful attack, I’m reminded of Leonard Cohen – Ring out the bells you still can ring – forget your foolish offering – everything has got a crack in it – and that is where the light shines in ^__^

    • Dhamma Sister,
      Very nice Leonard quote! Who by the way while he was a monk for 10 years lent his home in Montreal to a fully ordained female Zen teacher from the same Mt. Baldy monastery to start a new centre in Montreal which is very popular now. Centre Zen de la Main. Her name is Myokyo.🙂

  8. http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/international/2158/monks_with_guns:_discovering_buddhist_violence

    “The constant fear and violence took a toll on them. Monks talked about the guns they had bought and now kept at their bedsides. Others spoke heatedly about the violent militant attacks on Buddhist civilians and monasteries. Although the cause of the violence is multi-layered, owing much to corruption, drug trade, and corporatization, many monks also felt Islam was to blame. In their minds, the conflict was anchored to the larger discussion of religious violence: Muslims against Buddhists.
    One day after teaching an English class for Buddhist novices at a monastery a young monk came over and pulled back the folds of his robe to reveal a Smith & Wesson. I later learned that he was a military monk—one of many covert, fully ordained soldiers placed in monasteries throughout Thailand. To these monks peacemaking requires militancy.”

    • Read ‘Buddhist Warfare’ by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer
      ISBN13: 9780195394832ISBN10: 0195394836 Hardback, 272 pages
      Description
      Though traditionally regarded as a peaceful religion, Buddhism has a dark side. On multiple occasions over the past fifteen centuries, Buddhist leaders have sanctioned violence, and even war. The eight essays in this book focus on a variety of Buddhist traditions, from antiquity to the present, and show that Buddhist organizations have used religious images and rhetoric to support military conquest throughout history.

  9. So Ajahn Brahm didn’t ordain the nuns and in “lineage” terms they are Sri Lankan, not Thai, through the nuns who actually did perform the ordination.

    So what’s all the fuss about?

    • Was the Preceptor from Sri Lankan lineage? What about the second ordination in the dual ordination procedure? Did Ajahn Brahm perform the ‘confirming’ (or whatever it is called) ordination? And Ajahn Brahm was from Thai Theravada.
      So in the dual ordination in Perth, what does it become?

  10. BSWA said:

    “a senior Thai monk from Wat Pah Pong has been phoning some of the Thai people here in Perth with the intention of trying to get them to ask Ajahn Brahmawamso to resign… three Thai ladies have started a petition for this purpose and are waiting around outside Nollamara on the weekends urging our Thai community to sign.”

    This is really sad. Please some wise enlightened monks of the WPP Sangha kindly put a stop to this.

  11. As I read this I can still hear Ajahn Brahm say “Shake it off, stamp in it and rise a little higher” from the buried donkey story.

    Wonderful!

    Metta
    -Jean-Loup

  12. my sympathy with Ajahn Brahm, the four-fold assembly in Perth and BSWA for having to endure these malicious rumours and actions – the truth will out in the end – and thanks to Dennis Sheppard for writing this clear response – and A.Sujato for posting it…

  13. A very nice, gentle yet firm response, something that was needed to counteract and highlight the emotive remarks from WPP. Thank you.

  14. Dear Dennis,

    Not trying to get personal with you here, but it looked like you were now accusing that there were some mischief in WPP . Wasn’t the Bhikkhunis ordination a mischief?

    In fact, it is quite obvious that the Bhikkhunis ordination was all mischieviously & quietly planned & plotted by some hidden hands in Bodhiyana for some time. Despite being advised by the Western Elders,especially by a respectable and long standing Western monk like Ajahn Sumedho not to proceed with it as yet, AB & the Bhikkhunis took no heed and went against that wise piece of advice. The English newspapers in Thailand were also playing mischief in the allegedly deliberate misinterpretion of the WPP press release to sensationalise the news. So, who is more of a mischief in this issue?

    For the Thai Government to confer a non-Thai foreign monk with the highest title “Chao Khun” to AB was unprecedented as a mark of high respect and full trust in AB, but they now, i believe, felt betrayed of that trust and felt like “stabbed in the back”, hurt and being ridiculed by AB with his Bhikkhunis ordination (although technically you can argue AB was not the Preceptor, but who was the spear head?), was regarded as a serious offence in the eyes of the Thai Theravada Sangha & the Thai Government.

    Who then is the bigger mischief?

    • Dear Samsara,

      Just to respond to a few of your points – I don’t know if Dennis is reading this himself!

      You repeat the allegation that the English newspapers in Thailand misrepresented the WPP press release. But this has been strongly denied by the author, Sanitsuda, and the reality is that the Thai newspapers printed substantially the same story, as admitted in private by Dhammalight itself.

      The chao kuhn title for Ajahn Brahm is hardly unprecedented. Anyway, who is it that disrespects the title: a monk like Ajahn Brahm who acts in accord with Dhamma-vinaya, or the majority of Thai monks who use the title solely as a means to worldly power and prestige? Sidebar: At the ceremony when the title was presented, Ajahn Brahm was absent, as it was the same time as the Global Conference on Buddhism in Perth organized by the BSWA. When his name was called at the ceremony in Bangkok, after a moment’s silence, a random Thai monk realized there was no Brahmavamso present, so he got up and went to the front, hoping to get the title by claiming to himself be Ajahn Brahmavamso! While this behaviour is pretty outrageous by any standards, it reveals a fairly normal attitude to these titles in Thailand.

      You claim that the ‘Thai government’ who conferred the title (in fact it was a royal bestowal on the recommendation of Somdet Buddhajahn) feel ‘betrayed”. On what grounds? There has been precisely no public comments on the matter by the Mahatherasamakhom, except to acknowledge that Bodhinyana has been delisted as a branch monastery of WPP. Even the report by WPP of their interview with Somdet Buddhajahn carried no sense that he felt betrayed, nor that the Chao Kuhn title was in any way an issue. It was only raised as an issue at one point by WPP, who claimed that the Chao Kuhn certificate stated that the recipient was to uphold the rules of the Mahatherasamakhom; this claim is false, the certificate says no such thing.

      And where, exactly, has Ajahn Brahm ridiculed anyone? I was at the ordination and just saw a solemn ceremony in line with Dhamma-Vinaya.

      And finally, on what grounds do you believe the ordination was “regarded as a serious offence in the eyes of the Thai Theravada Sangha & the Thai Government.” What statements by any official organ of the Thai Sangha or the Thai government say such a thing? In particular, I would remind you that the 1928 ruling against bhikkhuni ordination was investigated in 2003 by a Thai senate sub-committee. It was found to contravene the Thai constitution, especially the clauses guaranteeing gender equality and freedom of religious practice. Thus the highest level advice to the Thai government as of this date is that the ruling against bhikkhuni ordination is against the constitution, and hence invalid. I would imagine that there are quite a few people in the Thai government who are thrilled to see some sangha members finally acting on this advice.

    • I wish people would leave poor Ajahn Brahm alone. All he did was participate in a normal sanghakamma. Somehow doing a thing that the Buddha instructed us to do has become a mischief.

      Language is so easily abused. Perception reversed. Like China calling itself the Democratic People’s Republic of China.

      Here, it is the Walters who are acting underhand, who are skulking about like thieves, who are stabbing friends in the back, who are sensationalising facts, who are lying, who are letting down the faith of the faithful.

      Yet the Walters would twist language, call themselves things like ‘Dhammalight’, all while slandering a true man.

      What mischief it would be to not stand up to such outrages.

      >j<

    • Dear Samsara

      I laughed as I read your post. I’ll tell you why. It was this line that you wrote, in particular that made me smile:

      “In fact, it is quite obvious that the Bhikkhunis ordination was all mischieviously & quietly planned & plotted by some hidden hands in Bodhiyana for some time.”
      🙂🙂🙂 Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! The very idea is thoroughly funny!!! Dear Samsara, you do not know our monks here!!!

      They are so virtuous and yet don’t always realise how virtuous they are. They are so harmless that the birds and kangaroos gather in greater numbers within the monastary than without (walk throught the gates and you may notice an instant difference in the amount and intensity of bird calls). They are so simple and clean living that a conversation about the ins and outs of an environmentally friendly septic system or about a small l.e.d torch can seem interesting. They are so generous and kind but this way of being is so normal to them that they do not seem to realise that they are unusually virtuous. As visitors you and I would notice it instantly; because we would have been in the coarser world first and would feel the difference in virtue.

      I can well imagine the surprise and bemusement they would feel if they read your post!

      How do I know this? Because a very close relative lived there for many years and because I have been lucky enough to have done many retreats at Bodhinyana. I have taken food there many times. And I have also been fortunate enough to observe and talk with these beautiful monks.

      Please be careful Samsara that you write of what you know for sure. I have written about what I have experienced and seen.

      You have stated: ‘…but they now, i believe, felt betrayed of that trust and felt like “stabbed in the back”, hurt and being ridiculed by AB with his Bhikkhunis ordination…’ The crux of this paragraph are the words ‘I believe’. Yes, your belief. Your beliefs as others have already pointed out in reply to you (primarily Ajahn Sujato) are incorrect. Are not facts.

      As for mischief…well…by spreading incorrect statements about such matters, surely our stay in Samsara is only going to be prolonged?

      I wish you well. Please do get your facts straight.

  15. Oooh…so “there has been some mischief perpetrated by some members of WPP” – an accusation quoted by Mr. Dennis.

    Mr. Dennis, Don’t you think there has also been some mischief perpetrated by some members of Bodhiyana Monastery? Who was a more mischief monk..ey? It is like a pot calling a kettle black.

    • Umm…no…

      Oooh do get your facts straight…

      Mr Dennis Sheppard has given his phone number in this letter. Why not ring the pot and find out from him if he really is as black as the kettle. Go to the source dear metaphorical Oooh then you can get it straight from the horse’s mouth!

    • Dear Oooh, Samsara, Dhammalight, and other non-namers,

      please show some moral courage. Have the balls to put your name to what you write, rather than hiding behind pseudonyms. It’s easy to throw barbs from the dark, but not so easy to throw them in plain daylight. Be accountable for your actions.

      Yours in Dhamma,

      Michael Percy

    • Mr Michael,
      Please stop being a control freak. Pls. do not dictate others and try to change others to your satisfaction and expectation. Even if i put barbara whatever, it is also a pseudonym in a blog, your name Michael Percy may not be your real name it can also be a pseudonym to readers. It is a blog not a petition. Why must you always have your way just like the Perth ordination? Pls. have respect for others choice.

  16. I am a Mahayana Buddhist nun, born in the West. When I took ordination in a southeast Asian country, I was told by my Master … “You are not Asian, so, although you follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, you must find your own way in order to adapt Buddhism to the West.” My Master was a wise and compassionate man, trained in both the Mahayana and Theravadan traditions.

    • Sadhu Sister,
      This form – and all the “Mahayana vs. Theravada” – this sect vs. that sect – WPP vs Brahm – I am “holier than thou” noise. In all my years exploring Christianity – at least we did not hear day in day out – this teacher, that teacher does not teach according to … this tradition, that tradition is …isnt…this practitioner that practitioner does not practice according to… it is only those like your Master and those seeking a deeper truth that are holding my ears close to this Dhamma before I release the binding to any form.
      I can recall so few conversations in Sangha circles (of any tradition) where there was truly a concept of Sangha that embraces all of humanity in the way that the founders of our inherited spiritual traditions did. Some kind of posturing eventually creeps in.
      Was it luck that in my 5 years at a catholic convent school (I am not catholic) that I never heard a single disparaging word against another sect (including my own- even though I was the only one of 500 who sat out of daily mass) or religion?
      This legacy is not to be postured over and ownership and bragging rights tossed about. This legacy is to cherish and nurture ourselves and our fellow human beings.
      Identity as this Yana or that Yana this camp or that camp male or female leads to small and big violence. May we keep carving out that new way as you have done.
      Blessings and thank you for sharing.

  17. Was the Preceptor from Sri Lankan lineage? What about the second ordination in the dual ordination procedure? Did Ajahn Brahm perform the ‘confirming’ (or whatever it is called) ordination? And Ajahn Brahm was from Thai Theravada.
    So in the dual ordination in Perth, what does it become?

  18. Good morning everyone!

    Here’s a poem.

    A Recollection for Difficult Times

    For I follow the Tathagatha
    A man of conscience, not conformity.
    And though afeared,
    I enter the fray.

    >j<

  19. Dear aah-haa,

    Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato were the announcing monks for the bhikkhu sangha. Ajahn Brahm was not the Preceptor, or Upajjhaya. Ayya Tathaaloka from the USA was the female preceptor . The above article mentioned that “Since the lineage follows that of the preceptor, the four Bhikkhunis in Australia belong to the “Nikaya” of their preceptor, which is the Syam Nikaya of Sri Lanka.”

    • Thank you for the elaboration. Ajahn Brahm had explained to WPP that he was not the Preceptor which did not matter much to WPP. I think the point was AB participated in the Ordination which would otherwise be incomplete or ‘invalid’ without part 2 of the procedure. And the entire procedure was held in an WPP-affilated monastery.
      What grated the senior monks of the WPP tradition (I hope I gathered this correctly) is that the planned Ordination should be first discussed and consulted at the WAM to be held in Perth.
      AB knew all along that WPP would not agree, so the ordination had to be planned, prepared in ‘secrecy’ and proceeded with before the abbots of WPP-affilated monasteries meet. AB later promised not to hold or participate in future ordinations unless there is a change or there is approval. Was this promise a way out of the sticking situation he faced in Thailand or it is a ‘tacit’ admission that it was in retrospect not a very good initiative?
      That AB would not recant is obvious and he shouldn’t because the Ordination was correct according to the Vinaya. But WPP tried and failed. Hence, their dissatisfactions and miseries. The rest if it could be said is history and the cycle of suffering!
      May I wish the four Bhikkhunis stay true to their callings.

    • But you know what? Other WPP monks have participated as chanting Acaryas at other Bhikkuni ordinations prior to this! How come their was no fuss made? Others can, I’m sure, confirm the details of the statement I’ve made. For instance, I think Ajahn Amaro has done this too? Can someone please confirm?

    • Thank you for the elaboration. Ajahn Brahm had explained to WPP that he was not the Preceptor but it did not matter to the monks gathered there. AB had participated in part 2 of the procedure which would otherwise be incomplete, and it was held at a WPP-affiliated monastery.
      What grated the elders was that AB went ahead with the Ordination when the matter could be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of abbots in Perth. AB knew all along that WPP would not agree (thus pointless to discuss), and so planned, prepared in ‘secrecy’ and proceeded with the Ordination ahead of the meeting.
      AB promised not to hold or participate in further Bhikkhuni ordination unless there was a change or approval. Was the promise a way to pacify the elders and to get out of a sticky situation in Thailand? Or was the promise a ‘tacit’ admission that in retrospect the Ordination was not a good initiative?
      That AB could not recant is obvious and he shouldn’t as the procedure was according to the Vinaya. WPP tried but failed to get AB to recant or declare the ordination invalid. Hence, the dissatisfactions and even acrimony. The rest (as they say) is history and cycle of sufferings!
      I hope the four Bhikkhunis stay true to their callings. And I wish BSWA and others as well as the Sangha not to solicit or use the lay for their agenda or to justify it.

    • I believe “AB promised not to hold or participate in further Bhikkhuni ordination unless there was a change or approval” not because it was not a good initiative, but rather to maintain the relationship with his fellow monks. He felt very close to them.

      I believe that this is a good initiation because it is in line with Dhamma -Vinaya.

      Ajahn Sujato also pointed out that the 1928 ruling against bhikkhuni ordination was found to be against the Thai constitution ( Australia, U.S., other countries as well) , especially the clauses guaranteeing gender equality and freedom of religious practice, and therefore invalid.

      I don’t believe that the overreaction and expulsion was a good initiative, because Ajahn Brahm did not violate the Dhamma-Vinaya or the law of religious freedom. Perhaps a skillful reaction in this case for WPP is to use this as an opportunity re-examine their misconceptions or preconceived notions regarding bhikkhuni ordination, and change their ways for the good of the general female population.

      Unfortunately, they decided to expel . As a result of the expulsion, numerous lay devotees of Ajahn Brahm in Thailand and elsewhere heard the senior Ajahns talked negatively about Ajahn Brahm and about the expulsion. Many were confused about the story behind the expulsion and the issue became the topic of discussion. We are trying to figure out what’s the deal behind Ajahn Brahm’s expulsion. Just because a group of monks expelled someone, it doesn’t necessary means that the monk being expelled is wrong. There have been cases of a group of monks expelling a pure bhikkhu for reasons of their own and not founded in Dhamma-Vinaya during the time of the Buddha. For example, in the Mahâvagga-Ninth Khandhaka:

      ” At that time there was in the country of Kâsi (a village) called Vâsabha-gâma. There a Bhikkhu called Kassapa-gotta had his residence, who was bound (to that place) by the string (of the religious duties which he had to perform there ), and who exerted himself to the end that clever Bhikkhus from a distance might come to that place, and the clever Bhikkhus therein might live at ease, and that (religious life at that residence might progress, advance, and reach a high state.

      Now at that time a number of Bhikkhus, making their pilgrimage in the country of Kâsi, came to Vâsabha-gâma. And the Bhikkhu Kassapa-gotta saw those Bhikkhus coming from afar; when he saw them, he prepared seats for them, brought water for the washing of their feet, a foot-stool, and a towel .

      Then he went forth to meet them, took their bowls and their robes, offered them (water) to drink, and provided a bath for them, and provided also rice-milk and food hard and soft.

      Now those stranger Bhikkhus thought: ‘The resident Bhikkhu here, O friends, is indeed good-natured; he provides a bath for us and provides also rice-milk, and food, hard and soft. What if we were to stay here, friends, at Vâsabha-gâma.’ Thus those stranger Bhikkhus stayed there at Vâsabha-gâma.

      2. Now the Bhikkhu Kassapa-gotta thought: ‘These stranger Bhikkhus are rested now from their travel-weariness; they did not know their way here before, but now they know their way. It is trouble-some indeed to be busy all one’s life for people not related to one’s self, and being asked is disagreeable to men. What if I were to provide no longer rice-milk, and food, hard and soft (for those Bhikkhus).’ Thus he did not provide any more (for them) rice-milk, and food, hard and soft.

      Then those stranger Bhikkhus thought: ‘Formerly, friends, this resident Bhikkhu used to provide baths for us, and to provide also rice-milk, and food, hard and soft. But now he does not provide any more rice-milk, and food, hard and soft. This resident Bhikkhu, friends, is in anger with us now. Well, friends, let us pronounce expulsion against this resident Bhikkhu.’

      3. Then those stranger Bhikkhus assembled and said to the Bhikkhu’ Kassapa-gotta: ‘Formerly, friend, you used to provide baths for us and to provide also rice-milk, and food, hard and soft. But now you do not provide any more rice-milk, and food, hard and soft. You have committed an offence, friend; do you see that offence?’

      ‘There is no offence, friends, for me to see.’

      Then those stranger Bhikkhus pronounced expulsion against the Bhikkhu Kassapa-gotta for his refusal to see that (pretended) offence. Then the Bhikkhu Kassapa-gotta thought: ‘I do not know indeed whether this is an offence or not, and whether I have made myself guilty of an offence or not, and whether I have been expelled or not, and whether that sentence is lawful or unlawful, objectionable or unobjectionable, valid or invalid. What if I were to go to Kampâ and to ask the Blessed One about this matter?’

      4. And the Bhikkhu Kassapa-gotta put his resting-place in order, took up his alms-bowl and his robe, and went forth toKampâ; and in due course he came toKampâ and to the place where the Blessed One was. Having approached him and respectfully saluted the Blessed One, he sat down near him.

      Now it is the custom of the blessed Buddhas to exchange greeting with incoming Bhikkhus. And the Blessed One said to the Bhikkhu Kassapa-gotta: ‘Is it all well with you, O Bhikkhu? Do you find your living? Have you made your journey without too much fatigue? And from what plate do you come, O Bhikkhu?’

      ‘It is all well, Lord; I find my living, Lord; I have made the journey, Lord, without too much fatigue:

      5. ‘There is in the country of Kâsi, Lord, (a village) called Vâsabha-gâma. There I had my residence, Lord, (&c. , down to:) Then those stranger Bhikkhus, Lord, pronounced against me expulsion for my refusal to see that offence. Then I thought, Lord: “I do not know indeed whether this is an offence or not, and whether I have made myself guilty of an offence or not, and whether I have been expelled or not, and whether that sentence is lawful or unlawful, objectionable or unobjectionable, valid or invalid. What if I were to go to Kampâ and to ask the Blessed One about this matter.” Thus I have come here, Lord.’

      6. (Buddha replied): ‘This is no offence, O Bhikkhu; it is not an offence. You are innocent; you are not guilty of an offence. You are not expelled, and have not been expelled; the sentence by which you have been expelled is unlawful, objectionable, and invalid. Go, O Bhikkhu, and settle yourself again at Vâsabha-gâma.’

      The Bhikkhu Kassapa-gotta expressed his assent to the Blessed One (by saying), ‘Yes, Lord,’ rose from his seat, and having respectfully saluted the Blessed One and walked round him with his right side towards him, he went on his way to Vâsabha-gâma.

      7. Now those stranger Bhikkhus (at Vâsabha-gâma) were overcome by scruples and remorse: It is all loss to us indeed, it is no gain to us; we will fare ill indeed, we will not fare well, in this that we have expelled that pure, guiltless Bhikkhu without any cause and reason. Well, friends, let us go to Kampâ and let us confess there in the Blessed One’s presence our sin in its sinfulness.’ And those stranger Bhikkhus put their resting-places in order, took up their alms-bowls and their robes, and went forth to Kampâ, and in due course they came to Kampâ and to the place where the Blessed One was. Having approached him and respectfully saluted the Blessed One, they sat down near him. Now it is the custom of the blessed Buddhas (&c. , down to:) ‘It is all well, Lord; we find our living, Lord; we have made the journey, Lord, without too much fatigue. There is in the country of Kâsi, Lord, (a village) called Vâsabha-gâma; from that place we come, Lord.’

      8. ‘So are you, O Bhikkhus, those who have expelled the resident Bhikkhu there?’

      ‘We are, Lord.’

      ‘For what cause, O Bhikkhus, and for what reason?’

      ‘Without any cause and reason, Lord.’

      Then the Blessed One rebuked those Bhikkhus: ‘That is improper, O Bhikkhus, it is unbecoming, indecent, unworthy of Samanas, unallowable, and to be avoided. How can you, O fools, expel a pure and guiltless Bhikkhu, without any cause and reason? This will not do, O Bhikkhus, for converting the unconverted.’ Having thus rebuked them and delivered a religious discourse, he thus addressed the Bhikkhus: ‘Let no one, O Bhikkhus, expel a pure and guiltless Bhikkhu without cause and reason. He who does, commits a dukkata offence.’

      9. Then those Bhikkhus rose from their seats, adjusted their upper robes so as to cover one shoulder, prostrated themselves, inclining their heads to the feet of the Blessed One, and said to the Blessed One: ‘Transgression, O Lord, has overcome us like the foolish, like the erring, like the unhappy, in this that we have expelled a pure, guiltless Bhikkhu without any cause and reason. May, O Lord, the Blessed One accept (the confession of) our sin in its sinfulness, and we will refrain from it in future.’

      ‘Truly, O Bhikkhus, transgression has overcome you like the foolish, like the erring, like the unhappy, in that you have expelled a pure, guiltless Bhikkhu without any cause and reason. But as you see, O Bhikkhus, your sin in its sinfulness, and duly make amends for it, we accept it from you. For this, O Bhikkhus, is called progress in the discipline of the noble one, if one sees his sin in its sinfulness, and duly makes amends for it, and refrains from it in future.’

      – Mahâvagga-Ninth Khandhaka:

    • Dear iMeditation,
      again ~ all thanks to you, for again bringing the enlightened excellence of the Buddha’s words to us by quoting a very beautiful and relevant passage from the suttas.
      Thankyou true Dhamma friend.

    • Hi,

      I read somewhere that the Dammasara Nuns wanted the ordination to be held in Dammasara Monastery and not involved A.Brahm and Bodhiyana as the gals knew it was against their theravada lineage, BUT A.Brahm with his other monks insisted it to be held in Bodhiyana. So, technically although A.Brahm might not be the immediate Preceptor but on a more serious note, he was the brainchild of this motivation of the Bhikkhunis ordination but elusively hide behind the veil.

      A.Brahm could have prevented or postponed the ordination until after the WAM meeting where a wider approval and reception obtained, if not, to be honest and sincere about it by, at least make it known in the meeting and informed decision can be made. This went to show there was an agenda to belittle the Thai Elders and the Western Elders. This is seriously & morally not right, no matter how technically right it is in the Vinaya (no matter what).

      A.Brahm, his monks and lady monks might be planning to dissociate from their lineage as they thought they could be independant, no longer needed to be told and dictated by the Elders and abide by its rules as A.Brahm & his monastery were now well established and self-sufficient and A.Brahm was now popular with his supporters.

      He now claims that he is Buddha’s disciple (no longer the late Ajahn Chah’s disciple) by going against his lineage with his citing of the technicality of the Vinaya on the 4-fold assembly to justify his Bhikkhunis ordination.

      In his talks,A.Brahm did say to the audience, “why we must always change things and why we cannot leave things alone (but he did exactly that). What exactly is all this?

    • Dear Mona Lisa,

      Thanks for your comments, they’re appreciated as always.

      Your first paragraph repeats the claim that Ajahn Brahm ‘insisted’ that the ordination be held at Bodhinyana rather than Dhammasara. This is a continuation of a misinterpretation of what happened. I know, i was there.

      The nuns came to Bodhinyana and they raised the question of doing the ordination in Dhammasara for a few reasons. This had been discussed among the nuns, most of whom were visiting from elsewhere. You will understand that the details of this had all been worked out and agreed between Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Vayama earlier.

      There were several reasons why they suggested moving it over to Dhammasara; one was so that Dhammasara would be more intimately the ‘spiritual home’ of the ordination; another was that they had received such bullying phone calls from Western Ajahns overseas that they feared that a monk would come to Perth specifically to disrupt the ordination. They were also concerned whether Ajahn Brahm or the monks in Bodhinyana would be subject to punitive measures. I was with Ajahn Brahmali at the time, and we reassured them that this was not a concern for us.

      We rang Ajahn Brahm, who was in a taxi on his way to the Oslo airport at the time. He said he would prefer to continue as planned with the ordination in Bodhinyana, as the plans had already been made, and as the sima there was an officially established and recognized one. It is not uncommon for ordinations to be criticized or even done again because of perceived flaws in the sima, so he wanted to remove this potential source of criticism. The nuns were perfectly happy with this suggestion – not insistence – and so we all agreed.

      At no time in the process was there any thought of dissociating from a lineage or whatever, nor was there any agenda to belittle anyone – these are just the projections and responses of others. All we were interested to do was to use the Dhamma Vinaya as best we knew how in order to support the spiritual growth of suffering beings, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, some people have a problem with this.

      Citing the 4-fold assembly is not a ‘technicality of the Vinaya’, but is in fact the very foundation of the Buddha’s dispensation. The entire Vinaya is constructed on the basis of a ‘dual Sangha’ of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis.

  20. aah-haa :
    The cacophony will give way to a symphony of concerted efforts to mend the schism (whether one like the word or not but it has happened).

    Schism has a specific meaning in Vinaya circles. This situation might be called a fracture or rift but it cannot be called a schism unless you’re using the term very vaguely, without deference to it’s popularly accepted meaning, which is sure to cause confusion in discussion.

    If you wish to investigate this further it is explained in detail in BMC1 under Sanghadisesa 10 and 11, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/bmc1/bmc1.ch05.html#Sg10

    • Thank you for directing to me the BMC site. I quote: “Still, even minor disputes can be potentially schismatic. ……… , it is possible to act in a divisive way prior to a dispute without yet broaching the questions around which a dispute could develop.”
      I am not using schism in the context of violating Vinaya codes. As you suggested, a rift or rapture is more appropriate. Loung Por Liem, the abbot of WPP put it as
      a form of divorce.
      Thus, have I changed: Divorce is seldom without acrimony. One party has to pay alimony. Harmony is unlikely for now. The cacophony will give way to a symphony of concerted efforts to mend the rift.

  21. Samsara :Dear Dennis,
    The English newspapers in Thailand were also playing mischief in the allegedly deliberate misinterpretion of the WPP press release to sensationalise the news. So, who is more of a mischief in this issue?

    Actually, it was reported as fact in both the English and Thai newspapers. If all these newspapers reported it as such, then it is Dhammalight who is reporting a falsehood.

  22. Next sunday at a ceremony, (http://www.ajahnchahrd.com/)I will be making offerings to the sangha including several senior ajahns from the WPP sangha. I will continue to support this sangha, but it will be with a heavy heart that I can summon a lot less saddha than before.

    • Dear Pilgrim,
      Would it be Right Speech to share with them that you have a heavy heart? It may be that many around you on that day are grieving at some level…even those senior ajahns. Courage to you and as your Sangha sister I support your path whatever you choose. May we all find our True Sangha be that in the old or the new. …Metta

  23. To Samsara,

    I have written some strong rebuttals to your recent post about ‘Who is the bigger mischief”.

    “Not trying to get personal with you here, but it looked like you were now accusing that there were some mischief in WPP . Wasn’t the Bhikkhunis ordination a mischief?”

    Yes. Dennis is accusing a member of WPP of mischief. There is ‘looked like’ in Dennis’ actions. He has come out – clear as crystal. He has checked his facts, and has made his accusation publicly, signing off with his own name, and with the cross signatures of past Presidents of the BSWA.

    And no. The bhikkhuni ordinations were not a mischief. They were a standard sanghakamma fully in accordance with the Dhamma and Vinaya.

    “In fact, it is quite obvious that the Bhikkhunis ordination was all mischieviously & quietly planned & plotted by some hidden hands in Bodhiyana for some time. Despite being advised by the Western Elders,especially by a respectable and long standing Western monk like Ajahn Sumedho not to proceed with it as yet, AB & the Bhikkhunis took no heed and went against that wise piece of advice. The English newspapers in Thailand were also playing mischief in the allegedly deliberate misinterpretion of the WPP press release to sensationalise the news. So, who is more of a mischief in this issue?”

    It is not a mischief for a human being, each of us fully responsible and accountable for our own kamma, to act against advice if we believe that advice to be unconscienable. Acting conscientiously is not mischievous, it is how the Buddha taught us to live.

    The Buddha set up the Vinaya in way that empowers every local sangha to be autonomous within their own sima. What a local sangha does within its own sima is its own business. For a person who does not belong to the BSWA or the Perth sangha to accuse Ajahn Brahm of ‘plotting’ to ordain bhikkhunis is like a person accusing the man next door of ‘plotting’ to cook dinner for his wife, and then complaining that men should not cook for women.

    Ajahn Brahm and the Perth sangha have asked nothing of anyone outside their sima. They just want to get on with their lives. The opposite has been the case. People with no business meddling with the Perth sangha’s affairs have, without authority from the Dhamma or Vinaya, taken it upon themselves to interfere where their presence is neither helpful nor authorised.

    “For the Thai Government to confer a non-Thai foreign monk with the highest title “Chao Khun” to AB was unprecedented as a mark of high respect and full trust in AB, but they now, i believe, felt betrayed of that trust and felt like “stabbed in the back”, hurt and being ridiculed by AB with his Bhikkhunis ordination (although technically you can argue AB was not the Preceptor, but who was the spear head?), was regarded as a serious offence in the eyes of the Thai Theravada Sangha & the Thai Government.”

    Ajahn Brahm never asked to be conferred the title of Chao Khun. If it was unprecedented, then that only demonstrates the brilliance of Ajahn Brahm’s virtues. Whatever honour and respect that was given by this conferral, the point is that it was given. It was a gift. To give a gift only to take it back or threaten to take it back because the recipient chooses to follow the Dhamma and Vinaya, is an act of authoritarianism, repugnant to both the letter and spirit of the Buddha’s teaching.

    Who was the spearhead of the bhikkhuni ordinations? The bhikkhunis. The women of courage who decided for themselves that the time had come to brave the opposition of an orthodoxy steeped in misinformation, willful blindness, prejudice and ignorance. The women who are but four out of an emerging groundswell of well-practising women with the aspiration to ordain as bhikkhunis for the welfare and the good of gods and men. Women who will, together with like-minded men, by the power of their virtue, stillness and wisdom, shake off this miserable sickness known as patriarchy.

    And if the orthodoxy feels hurt and betrayed, then what of that? That is samsara. We must all take responsibility for our own actions and reactions. That is what the Buddha taught. For particular members the orthodoxy to blame Ajahn Brahm for their own hurt feelings, is an evasion of personal responsibility. We all have choices. They could choose to forgive. They could choose dialogue and understanding. Instead, these members of the orthodoxy have chosen the path of blame, vengeance and dogma.

    “Who then is the bigger mischief?”
    The bigger mischief comes from those who attack Ajahn Brahm for participating in the recent bhikkhuni ordinations.

    Unequivocally,

    >j<

    • Well, you only chose to see the faults of others but failed to see one’s own faults, like the parable, you could see an elephant across the river but failed to see the mouse in front of one’s eyes. It’s all Samsara whichever way you look at it.Who says the world is fair? Give up arguing (wasting time and energy)as your mindset are already concrete embedded. No point. Leave it to the Law of Existence and Law of Kamma to unfold itself.When there is fire and smoke, our vision is impaired without clarity.This fire would not be put off easily, if both ends do not compromise.

    • Correction: sorry, it should be “you could see a mouse across the river but failed to see an elephant in front of one’s eyes”.

    • Respectfully sister Samsara, I think Western followers of Ajahn Chah monks have probably been too generous in not noticing the behaviour of some monks. That is why there is so much heart break now. We believed WPP monks to be wise and compasionate and have achieved levels of enlightenment. Now we see they are more petty and vindictive than some of our own friends, regular people who just have kind hearts. Once again, Ajahn Brahm ordained women as Bhikkhuni. The Buddha ordained women as Bhikkhuni and asked that monks should care about the Bhikkhuni sangha. There are Theravada Bhikkhuni’s now in most other countries, and the ordinations can take place. Only in Thailand is it against Thai state law, not vinaya or Buddha’s teachings. Ajahn Brahm apologiesed to WPP for causing them a problem – he offered not to ordain any further Bhikkhuni’s until the law was changed in Thailand, even though his monastery is in Australia where he can ordain who he likes. They still wanted him to perform an act against the vinaya. Ajahn Brahm refused to do that one thing and he accepted being expelled. END OF STORY. We go our separate ways and every lay person still respects WPP sangha and still respects Ajahn Brahm. So then why the attempts to blacken Ajahn Brahms character as a person, why the press conference, why accusing Ajahn Brahm of mismanagement, why phoning Thai ladies asking them to create bad kamma for themselves. Why such vindictive behaviour. Now everyone is losing respect for the WPP monks – even those WPP western monks who do not stand up and say – this is enough – stop it. They hide in the background and pretend to support the ordination of women – but they say nothing and protect themselves. This is really sad behaviour. Many people are broken hearted watching this Samsara. Don’t quip that we only see the faults of others. Many people in the west have seen a lot of things and kept quiet trying so hard to believe the best. There is nothing wrong – in fact everything right – in ordaining women to this wonderful aspiration. What is wrong is the vindictive actions coming from WPP and the western WPP sangha refusing to stand up and defend women’s ordinations or make clear that they don’t want to ordain women. Then people in the west can make a clear and honest choice based on what their hearts tell them.

    • Dear Samsara,
      May you be well, in love and friendship in the Dhamma. May we work together to build a strong Sangha. The door of my heart is open to you even though I may not agree with everything. You have been courageous to investigate the other point of view. And for that I show gratitude. Please continue to investigate and I will do the same. And maybe one day we will be a little closer together.
      Metta (sincerely) Metta again,🙂

    • I agree with you Florentyna.

      By the way, loved the ‘conversation’ you and Lisa Karuna were having about poetry etc…🙂 Metta

    • Dear Dhamma Bro

      Pls. don’t forget one thing, that Bodhiyana Monastery is (now was) a branch monastery of Ajahn Chah of WPP. Good for Bodhiyana now, they are now independant.

      Btw, just curious, why all the 4 Bhikkhunis were ordained at the same time? Normally, the most senior nun would be the first to be ordained. What was the purpose of ordaining all the 4 especially there were 2 of them still very young and new in the monastery?

      “Ajahn Brahm and the Perth sangha have asked nothing of anyone outside their sima. They just want to get on with their lives. The opposite has been the case. People with no business meddling with the Perth sangha’s affairs have, without authority from the Dhamma or Vinaya, taken it upon themselves to interfere where their presence is neither helpful nor authorised.”- said Anagarika

      – It implied that you were asking the Thai WPP Sangha to mind their own business, that it is non of their business?

      If AB and Bodhiyana were not the lineage and branch of Ajahn Chah respectively,don’t think the Thai WPP Sangha would bother to interfer.

      Did you hear the Thai WPP Sangha interfere with the other theravada Bhikkhunis ordinations elsewhere eg in Sri Lanka or Burma?

      Bswa should now be happy that they have full control and authority over Bodhiyana and Ajahn Brahm with the de-listing as they find no pleasure in associating it with a Thai lineage. Good for them, mission accomplished!

    • Btw, just curious, why all the 4 Bhikkhunis were ordained at the same time? Normally, the most senior nun would be the first to be ordained. What was the purpose of ordaining all the 4 especially there were 2 of them still very young and new in the monastery?

      Normally ordinations are done in small groups of up to three. The senior most person in the group is nominally the first, even though the ordination takes place at the same time. the Dhammasara bhikkhuni ordination was done in two groups of two, with Ajahn Vayama as the first. There were no new nuns in the group. All of them have been in the monastery for several years. This is unlike Thailand and Myanmar, where men can get ordination immediately without any training.

  24. Leaves a lot of disappointment about some people in robes who claim or known to have gained some supra mundane states. Fortunately, I have met so many very ordinary lay people who never stoop to such a low level display of vengeance and anger – and that gives me confidence in the goodness of most people in this world.

    What is tragic is that every time the representatives of WPP speak or act they reveal yet another dark and ugly side of their existence. Keep it up WPP – you guys have done brilliantly thus far!

  25. Apology for the multiple postings as there was an error or problem:
    Ajahn Brahm had explained to WPP that he was not the Preceptor but it did not matter to the monks gathered there. AB had participated in part 2 of the procedure which would otherwise be incomplete, and it was held at a WPP-affiliated monastery.
    What grated the elders was that AB went ahead with the Ordination when the matter could be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of abbots in Perth. AB knew all along that WPP would not agree (thus pointless to discuss), and so planned, prepared in ‘secrecy’ and proceeded with the Ordination ahead of the meeting.
    AB promised not to hold or participate in further Bhikkhuni ordination unless there was a change or approval. Was the promise a way to pacify the elders and to get out of a sticky situation in Thailand? Or was the promise a ‘tacit’ admission that in retrospect the Ordination was not a good initiative?
    That AB could not recant is obvious and he shouldn’t as the procedure was according to the Vinaya. WPP tried but failed to get AB to recant or declare the ordination invalid. Hence, the dissatisfactions and even acrimony. The rest (as they say) is history and cycle of sufferings!
    I hope the four Bhikkhunis stay true to their callings. And I wish BSWA and others as well as the Sangha not to solicit or use the lay for their agenda or to justify it.

    • Thank goodness they didn’t accept Ajahn Brahm’s offer not to ‘ordain’ anymore nuns. Now he’s free to be present and chant at many a bhikkuni ordinations!! Hooray!

      Harmony is the reason by the way. Why because he LOVES those monks, that tradition and his teacher Ajahn Chah. I’ve been listening to Ajahn Brahm speak for about 20 years…this LOVE and gratitude is always obvious. It was also obvious to me when I read the transcript of the ‘excommunication’ meeting.

  26. Many years ago I went to Wat Pah Nanachat in the hope of ordaining as a monk. Along the way I stayed at many Thai temples and experienced great and friendly hospitality and kindness. Eventually I arrived at WPN and found a bunch of unfriendly, rude and arrogant monks. I left the temple after a few days, fleeing! and left Buddhism for many years because of those monks.

    It is only by chance that I have come to appreciate the Buddha’s teachings again.

    Tom

    • Dear Tom,

      I went to Wat Pah Nanachat for a self-imposed 10-day retreat earlier last year. during my stay, my heart didn’t feel ‘peace’ though I learnt a lot about ‘being mindful’ of our negative emotions.

      I didn’t want to blame it on the monks or the laypeople or the self-imposed retreatants there; let’s just say that that monastery is not for us. 🙂

  27. Forgot to praise Dennis for giving his phone number. I hope that he will get phone calls asking for facts – which would lead to mutual understandings and harmony, but not those harrassing calls.

    • Yes, not only has he given his name, but his number. Brave, accountable, transparent! 3 cheers for Dennis!🙂

  28. Dear iMeditation
    I think you misunderstood what I meant by initiative. That initiative refers to AB’s going ahead with the ordination in Perth.
    As for “Ajahn Sujato also pointed out that the 1928 ruling against bhikkhuni ordination was found to be against the Thai constitution (Australia, U.S., other countries as well), especially the clauses guaranteeing gender equality and freedom of religious practice, and therefore invalid.”, let me say this: IF your daughter refused your advice not to marry a certain man, are you saying you have violated the Constitution? And your objection or refusual to bless her marriage is invalid?
    I interpret the 1928 ruling as codifying the tradition or desire to continue the tradition and it is confined to the Thai Sangha which had agreed and adopted it. To me, it is like saying the group does not want to shave women’s hairs but that doesn’t mean women cannot shave their hairs.
    Many see the issue as sexism, unconstitutional and lack of knowledge of the Vinaya. I see AB’s initiative as going against the wishes of the Elders who are steeped in tradition regardless whether right or wrong.
    The proper comment would be to criticise the Elders as clinging to a tradition which does not accord with reason. And the criticism of Ajahn Brahm is that he went against a tradition he knew WPP would uphold. Every action when made is justifiable, one way or another. The masses are then mobilised to take sides. To me, the Dhamma lesson from this episode is CLINGING vs GRAVING.

    • Dear aah haa,

      I am refering AB’s going ahead with the ordination when saying ” THIS is a good initiation because it is in line with Dhamma -Vinaya.” Perhaps I should use the words ‘The bhikkhuni ordination initiation is a good initiation…’ instead of ‘This initiation’. I thought it would be clearer that way right after posting but there is no edit function , it is too late.

      The mention about ” the 1928 ruling against bhikkhuni ordination was investigated in 2003 by a Thai senate sub-committee. It was found to contravene the Thai constitution, especially the clauses guaranteeing gender equality and freedom of religious practice. ” was to illustrate that the bhikkhuni ordination initiation was in line with the constitution, and law relating to religious freedom in addition to being in-line with the Dhamma- Vinaya. This is another reason why it a good initiation.

      I am glad that finally someone takes the initiative to participate in bhikkhuni ordination. I don’t think it is realistic to suggest that Ajahn Brahm wait until various elders re-examine their misconceptions or preconceived notions regarding bhikkhuni ordination, and change their ways before actually proceeding with bhikkhuni ordination. We don’t know when or if they will. Meanwhile the other 50% of the population are being obstructed needlessly. It is not proper to expect the female gender continue to suffer because some monks refuse to let go of their misconceptions and bias preconceived notions.

  29. Imo, we do not have to second-guess the “intentions” behind either Ajahn Brahm’s or the WPP representatives’ actions/statements. Remember? “Khamma will get the [guys] anyway”, so based on the wholesomeness of their intention, they will reap consequences.

    At the moment, I am not seeing that Ajahn Brahm is suffering from adverse consequences; and no, negative or perhaps slanderous gossip or comments do not count as adverse consequence for me, as – from a purely psychological effect- it has been found generally, that negative gossip is attributed to the “gossiper”, not the target. I.e. WPP has been shooting themselves in the knee in many ways, so why fan the fuel? Let each party reap their khamma – and the results will speak for themselves. If WPP has been guided by right intentions (I am taking this as a given for AB, as I have outlined in some other blog contribution here and I won’t go into that part again), khamma will reflect this; if not, khamma will reflect that too ….

    PS and on personal note: While I am not in any way entitled to assess past BSWA activities, I have gladly received my membership card, today. So, for what it’s worth and as I have mentioned in my “this will be my last post on this matter” (= famous last words better not been said), I am off the fence due to this whole discussions where otherwise I might have not become involved

    So, to all contributors here: Thank you for shaping the path for each of us, whichever scenery we currently perceive. So be at peace, we are where we are for a (kharmic) reason😉

    with metta,
    A.

    • Kamma according to the teaching of Buddha should be properly understood and not branded about lightly as it may cause misunderstanding. Many Buddhists have misunderstood kamma and non-Buddhists are even more confused.
      “At the moment, I am not seeing that Ajahn Brahm is suffering from adverse consequences …” – what you don’t see is the internal feeling, emotion. I can safely said that AB is not exactly happy or smiling or smarting over all these.

  30. Ace :
    … so why fan the fuel?

    That was typing too fast: It was supposed to read either “fanning” or “fueling” the fire, go figure😉

  31. The whole issue here was not about the Vinaya. The disatisfaction was about AB & the Bhikkhunis being ungrateful and disrespectful to their teacher, Ajahn Chah and WPP for the opportunity and fertile fields for them to be what they are today. Sorry, IMO three words to describe them are 1.Ungrateful (no gratitude) 2. Disrespectful & 3. Arrogance. Don’t you agree? (Leave the Vinaya aside, let’s deal with human relationship).

    • Confess shall I do
      To a future Bhikkhu
      That I once belonged to an anonymous brigade
      In this brigade, have no fear
      For Tara is here
      In turbulent waters does she wade
      As Mara’s Army advances
      Tara readies her lances
      Her form visible to Mara as jade
      While Mara is seduced by the treasure (oh no not again!)
      Tara aims with good measure
      And aeons of dark clouds fade
      The sun of Non Judgement arises
      And full of surprises
      The Sangha begins a new day
      (A few more cracks at this and we should catch up to Rumi any time soon…)

    • Dear Metta, Ajahn Chah died 18 years ago. He has the deep respect of everyone who every knew him or read any of his teachings. Who can say what his hopes for Buddhism in the West would have been. He was certainly interested in bringing Buddhism to the West. Perhaps he would be ordaining Bhikkhunis in Thailand today – the truth is we don’t know. The Dhamma is a gift that he taught freely, and I’m sure it did not come with conditions, other than to encourage everyone to practice to develop their dhamma. Like everyone else who achieves something in this life, Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Vayama are what they are today because of hard work – endurance – diligence and relying on the Buddha Dhamma, which is freely available. Lets deal with human relationships in a Buddhist way. Lets’ forgive each other – part company as friends – and move on. In the West we are happy to have Bhikkhunis. We want to learn the Buddha’s teaching and dhamma free of cultural bias. Please, no more bad words about Ajahn Brahm or the Bhikkhunis. Lets be friends.

    • Yeah, good…human relationships…I agree…

      Lets start with truthfulness. Thats always a good basis for a relationship.

      The truth is that they were NOT 1. disrespectful. 2. arrogant. 3.or ungrateful.

      I can honestly and safely say that I know this for a fact.

      Please make sure you know people before you publicly make assumptions about their thoughts/feelings or intentions. A lot of harm comes about from such actions.

    • Hi Kanchana,

      Sorry, for me, it seemed like basic human principles and the core teachings of the Buddha have been breached.

      When Buddha became enlightened under the Bodhi tree, Buddha paid respect to the Bodhi Tree for 7 days and wanted to repay his gratitude to His First Jhana Teachers, but learned that they had passed away.

      For me, they had gone against one’s principle and conscience, although would like to support their vision and mission, but would be hypocritic to do so.Sorry, just being truthful to my opinion. Sorry, do not mean to offend anyone.

    • Let me put it this way: WPP and the Thai Sangha believed that Theravada bhikkhuni Order had died and cannot be revived. There is nothing wrong technically because what is dead cannot become alive. But whether this belief is right or wrong is another matter because if we argue on this point, then many beliefs of Buddhists are also not right.
      Ajahn Brahm and other Theravada monks believed otherwise. They see no reason why Theravada nuns cannot be ordained if not in Thailand, then outside. The WPP Elders don’t see it this way. Ajahn Brahm was instrumental and participated actively in the Ordination. And AB is of the WPP tradition and Thai lineage. Since the Group was not consulted and the matter could be discussed at the WAM in Perth due in a couple of months, the Elders were obviously upset and rightly so. Why would I not be if a member of my group wants to do his own things?
      That AB was given a chance to explain, to recant or declare the Ordination invalid, or face expulsion follows the rule of natural justice. The point is: AB is of the WPP tradition and his Preceptor was of the Thai lineage. They expect AB to be one of them. And WPP uphold the 1928 ruling which obligated monks from WPP to follow. The issue was not about discrimination, sexism, unconstitutionality, legality, Vinaya-lity, compassion, enlightenment, whether AB was the Preceptor or not, blah, blah, blah.
      The abbot of WPP said: “So our meeting here has reached an agreement ….. finally agreed in the form of divorce.”

    • * They (‘the Group’) were consulted. They just didn’t want to discuss it. Ask Ajahn Sujato…he was there at lots of these attempts and knows quite a bit about the matter.

      * This is I believe the correct timeline: 1. WAM meeting date set up. 2. AB goes to England and speaks to Ajahn Sumedho who doesn’t approve and says so. 3. Pro bhikkuni monastics realise that WAM meeting may look to block bhikkuni ordinations altogether. (Ordinations would have been invalid according to Vinaya if monks/nuns present had objected). 4. So pro bhikkuni monastics made the call to go a head with ordinations, not for a moment dreaming that some of the consequences of their actions would be as ridiculous and over the top as they have been.

      * You said: ‘The Elders were obviously upset and rightly so.’ Respectfully, I fully disagree with you. Be upset if they wish to be… but rightly so? And the way they handled their upset-ness was certainly not a display worth modelling to us lay people. Their behaviour was certainly not an example of the metta sutta in practise. Nor was it in accordance with their own rules as set down by the Buddha (they don’t seem to know these terribly well) about how to behave towards each other and about how to view different monastarys. Different monastarys. Not groups of monastarys. Buddha didn’t talk about groups. He made each monastary independent.

      * Natural justice? You mean the law of the jungle as opposed to the laws set down by the Buddha? I’ll take the democratic justice set down by the Buddha.

      Certainly was the law of the jungle in asking AB to ‘declare the Ordiantion invalid’ since they were asking him to tell a deliberate lie!! Disgusting but understandable since they don’t seem to know their own Vinaya terribly well.

      * You state: ‘The issue was not about discrimination, sexism, unconstitutionality, legality, Vinaya-lity, compassion, enlightenment, whether AB was the Preceptor or not, blah, blah, blah.’ So you are saying that anyone that says that these issues are relevant should just shut up and go away? Well that’s in line with the type of ‘consultation’ that went on about Bhikkuni ordination prior to all this.

    • Why the keenness to make the ‘conformity to group’ theme the most important one?

      Seems you’d only do this if you realised that any rational argument based on these other themes cannot be properly supported.

      Otherwise why try and get people to stop talking about this?

    • Kanchana,
      Every action can be justified and whatever you said you have justified. But it does not necessary mean you are right. Granted that I am not privy to all the internal and behind the scene conversations or consultations, I don’t have the complete picture. Perhaps, you have. To bring in any other matters which are purely conjectures and speculatives is not very wise. As I see it, the Elders at WPP cling to a tradition which by all quarters seemed to be wrong but that is the viewpoint of the opposite camp. Similarly, AB went ahead with the Ordination for whatever reasons he felt right but the opposition camp don’t see it that way. Thus, we can all argue until the Buddha comes again but neither you nor I are any wiser. A simple analogy I used earlier was: if a member of my group wants to do his own thing however right, noble, legal, constitutional, etc., against the wishes of rule of the group and its leaders, that member should quit or be expelled.
      Btw, you don’t know the meaning of ‘rule of natural justice’ and loudly shout it as the ‘law of the jungle’. So much for your ‘enlightenment’ which is slightly above ‘ignorance’.

    • Thanks for all your comments; I respect how you can maintain a position of clear principle amid a complex argument with people who strongly disagree with you. However, with respect, I think your last comment was out of line. If Kanchana did not understand the concept of natural justice, the proper thing to do is explain it or provide a link that would explain it.

    • sujato :
      Thanks for all your comments; I respect how you can maintain a position of clear principle amid a complex argument with people who strongly disagree with you. However, with respect, I think your last comment was out of line. If Kanchana did not understand the concept of natural justice, the proper thing to do is explain it or provide a link that would explain it.

      Just for the late-comers, I believe Bhante is referring to the following statement by aah-haa …

      ‘Btw, you don’t know the meaning of ‘rule of natural justice’ and loudly shout it as the ‘law of the jungle’. So much for your ‘enlightenment’ which is slightly above ‘ignorance’.’

      >j<

    • I wasn’t planning to respond to this comment but then realised that anyone reading it might assume that i was claiming some lofty state of being. I have never and would never claim to be ‘enlightened’.

      Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    • Sorry, I wasn’t able to post at the right place:
      Kanchana, the meaning of natural justice implies that if anyone is to be disciplined there should be proper procedures, constituents of hearing panel and opportunity to defend an allegation or accusation. I want to say this so as rebut those who think the WPP’s action was arbitrary and unilateral. If you cannot agree on this, then interpret natural justice your way with more justifications.
      And thank you Ajahn Sujato for your long script of a possible movie scenario on filial piety (or lack of it). My analogy is straightforward; how one wants to associate or connect it with AB or some other is immaterial. And all the conditions, legality like age, ‘racist’, etc, etc. are not the issues. The propensity to attach many other ‘factors’ in order to answer a simple question can be mind-boggling. If I give you an indication that the ‘certain’ man is a serial rapist, killer, drug trafficker – what would you say now?
      Like I said before, whatever one said, there will be always be justifications but that doesn’t necessarily mean one is absolutely right. Justification is not the same as right.
      Perhaps, those who claimed to know the inside may be able to throw some light as to why the Thai elders are upset? Surely they must be upset over the ordination otherwise why the divorce? Kanchana said the elders are not rightly upset, then what? Maybe they disliked AB or BM?

    • Hi Aah-haa,

      For the record, i just took down the marriage post, as on reflection i thought it was too inflammatory.

      In reply to your last question, there is definitely a personal element involved in this – how could there not be? It comes out in the WPP meeting, where Ajahn Brahm is accused of, I think, being too attached to his success. i think some of the Ajahns believe Ajahn Brahm is intoxicated by success, and hence his actions demonstrate his arrogance. The flip side of this is of course jealousy, and if we can’t read the minds of these people probably all we can do is note that these worldly dhammas play some part.

      There are more specific personal issues involved, as well, but in the main the tension that comes out again and again is simply two quite different perspectives of what we are doing when we practice ‘Buddhism’.

      For Thais, for the most part, Buddhism is what they see around them, what they grew up with, and what their teachers say. For Ajahn Brahm and myself, Buddhism is primarily what we have learned from the Suttas and experienced in our practice, and what we have learned and experienced from Thai teachers is a complement to this. For myself, I know very well that my Buddhist practice would ultimately not be very different if i had ordained in Sri lanka, for example. From the beginning it was the Suttas and meditation, everything else was a long way second.

      I should really stick to my own perspective here, but I believe that in these matters Ajahn Brahm is similar. I see myself as an interpreter, student, and practitioner of the Buddhist tradition, and wish to be in a state of mature dialogue with that tradition. I study it, learn from it, and respect it, but I enter in to that relationship consciously as an adult, and regard disagreement and independence as an intrinsic part of that relationship.

      Another way to see it is this. notice how in the WPP meeting, Ajahn Brahm raised a question of Vinaya, and the thai monks said, now now, there’s no need to talk about Vinaya, we all know the Vinaya here. For Ajahn Brahm, Vinaya is something objective, which we can sit around as equals and discuss. For the Ajahns of WPP, it is something assumed and embodied in the teachers. To question Vinaya is to personally threaten the teachers.

      i know Ajahn Brahm well, and i know that you can disagree with him strongly, even bitterly, and he will just let it go. In this blog, I have been speaking in his defence, as I am his student and it is my duty to defend my teacher when he is unjustly attacked. But i have had my share of conflicts with him, in fact two very painful and long lasting ones – one of which is not yet resolved. But we get on with life, we argue about what we disagree on, and then move on to what’s next. In all my disagreements with him, i have never felt the slightest sense that he is holding a grudge, or any personal animosity. We just disagree on some things, that’s all. And I think this kind of attitude is just not how things are done in Thailand.

    • Dear Ajahn
      We tend to forget that in a disagreement, it is the issue and not the person, personality or persona that matters. Unfortunately, disagreement is between people and it is quite difficult to exclude the personality and persona. Take an example: if someone complains a product is not up to standard. Instead of fixing the quality issue, the seller accused the buyer of being fussy, difficult or unhappy. Similarly, a view is a view but when held by the Buddha it becomes a Noble View. There are many ordinary folks without any distinctions who may have the same view as the Buddha but would somewhat be considered nothing extraordinary.
      Monks are no less or more human. Despite their training and dedication to the Dhamma, they are not free of defilements.
      Also, trying to maintain equal distance between two camps is not easy when we have an opinion or stand. Which camp to align with depends on association, affiliation, affinity, proximity, culture, and backgrounds. Where I come from, I am about equal geographical distance between Thailand and Australia and I don’t know WPP or BM. My orientation is towards the East though I am educated in the West.
      I see a lot of arguments based on rights, legality, constitutionality, written rules, expressed thoughts, explicit statements – that’s how the West see many issues in these perspectives. On the other hand, the East doesn’t see issues from these angles very rigidly. A lot of matters are not expressly said but implied, less explicit and more subtlety. Tradition, custom, obedience, harmony and Confucianist values are more important than laws, rights, independence, and personal freedom. Take marriage for instance: arranged marriage is traditional (and still practiced in the East) but the West would see it as an infringement of personal choice and freedom. A European was quite perplexed why a certain Asian government was so concerned about its citizens not getting married. To him, it is encroachment on personal freedom and it is none of the ‘paternal’ government business to interfere! When I put it to him that if his highly educated, pretty daughter choose to be single, won’t he be concerned and want to do something? He remained silent.
      What is Noble Silence?

    • You are quite right, there are different modes of dialogue at work, which has certainly contributed to the problem. But it’s much more complex; even within Asia there are different styles. I once read and article in the Malaysian papers saying that often tensions between Malaysia and Singapore arise because the politicians have such different modes of dialogue; the Malaysians tend to be more playful and sarcastic, while the Singaporeans are much more straight-laced. Jokes or pregnant asides from the Malaysians can be seen as great insults.

      In our current situation there are many things to consider, such as the fact that the opposition to Ajahn Brahm was spearheaded from the Western monks, and the Thais followed on. And if the modes of discourse are so different – which they indeed are – then why has there not been more effort to bridge this gap?

      For example, I would have liked to see some efforts being made by the western Ajahns to raise their own issues with the Thai Ajahns, with bhikkhunis being one of them. To have a regular forum or channel where they can say, ‘Well, these are issues for us; we understand that bhikkhunis are not accepted in Thailand; nevertheless they are widely accepted elsewhere’. To be able to not merely comply with the ever-repeated statements of the Thai Ajahns, but to say, ‘Actually, the Thai understanding of bhikkhuni ordination is based on a very narrow range of sources and ideas, and many of the presumptions have been disproven years ago.’

      For this to work, it is not just a matter of the western monks misunderstanding the subteleties of Asian culture. We’ve been there, learnt the language, tried our hardest to fit in, for years. But I don’t see anything like the same reciprocal effort on the part of the Thai monks. No concession to say, ‘Having the western monks around is a great benefit, because it allows us to learn from the advances that have been made internationally in understanding Buddhism, and to broaden our own understanding of our religion.’ Dialogue can’t be one way.

      To be honest, I know perfectly well how to play the game. I know how to say the right things and fit in with the expectations of Thai society. The reason i don’t do that is because I choose not to. I choose to treat Thai culture like any other, and to engage with it in a mature and critical way, as I do with my own culture.

      But this kind of dialogue just doesn’t happen in WPP circles. I’ve never seen it take place since I’ve been a monk. And this is one of the reasons I left Thailand.

      Dialogue does in fact happen across cultures. It’s not rocket science. Governments can do it, companies can do it, travel agents can do it. I’ve lived in mixed western/Asian environments for most of my adult life. We have plenty of Asians and westerners contributing to this blog, and we get our ideas across just fine. The reason it has failed in this case is simply because, in my opinion, the monks involved have been too complacent. They have big meetings where they discuss whether cheese is allowable in the afternoon, and important questions are just left off the agenda. This is my own experience in meetings at WPN, and also what I have heard reported from others. There’s a kind of moral decadence that comes with being obsessive about the tiniest details of etiquette, and having no place to discuss such crucial matters of social injustice.

      We can see this from the WPP press conference: the Western monk Ajahn Kevali expresses that he is not opposed to bhikkhunis as such, and supports the siladharas, while the Thai Phra Khru Opas says that these are completely unacceptable. This is a major difference between the western Ajahns, most of whom support the idea of bhikkhuni ordination in principle, and do not accept the historical arguments against it, and those of the Thai monks who are in opposition. There has never developed a culture of dialogue that would make this issue dealable in any reasonable way. It would take years, and more importantly, the will to do it. But that will is utterly lacking.

      You ask, ‘what is noble silence’. the Buddha defined it as second jhana; more broadly, it is keeping silent when there is nothing beneficial to say.

    • What a strange coincident that you mentioned Malaysia-Singapore spate because I see a parallel here with the rift between WPP/Thai Sangha and BM/Australian Sangha. Those familiar with post-colonial SEA history would know that Singapore was part of Federation of Malaysia but got booted out because then Singapore leader LKY had a different vision and calling – Malaysia for Malaysian of all races. The leadership in Peninsula Malaya had something else in mind. Seeing that LKY would be a threat and that tiny Singapore would not survive without natural resources and even water supply, the Tuanku unilaterally declared a divorce. Malaysia considers itself the big brother and Singapore has to be subservient. That Singapore succeeded against the odds put Malaysia in an embarrassing situation. Now and then, Singapore would be made the whipping boy by the Malaysian dominant political party to gain political mileage. It is no joke that sarcastic remarks were ever made in humour which Singapore leaders cannot laugh them off. Malaysia never had a good word for Singapore. As a matter of fact, the Malaysian rhetoric is actually an insult to them rather than to Singapore.
      I supposed different cultures and situations would render it difficult to find a suitable mode of dialogue. So the channels will have to remain open. It is going to take a long time for WPP/Thai Sangha and BM/Australian Sangha to reconcile because like Malaysia-Singapore political relationship the historical baggage will burden the generation to come.
      Thanks for the explanation on noble silence. It can also be interpreted as no answer or unable to answer at best, or ignoring the questioner at worst. Perhaps, the classic modern response would be ‘no comment’ to a question.

    • Huh, that’s an interesting parallel. I’m not really familiar with the issues, but living there you could definitely feel a tension in the political sphere – although, thankfully, the ordinary people didn’t seem to take it very seriously.

    • “This is a major difference between the western Ajahns, most of whom support the idea of bhikkhuni ordination in principle, and do not accept the historical arguments against it, and those of the Thai monks who are in opposition. There has never developed a culture of dialogue that would make this issue dealable in any reasonable way. It would take years, and more importantly, the will to do it. But that will is utterly lacking.”

      This is something I have noted and reflected upon. If these guys actually sat down and discussed Bhikkhuni’s, letting their feelings out into the open, it would quickly become a very heated argument, since there is a very strong conflict of opinions. Those views are simply not reconcilable, and are likely to be highly inflammatory.
      My thought is, that the only way to keep the peace and harmony – is to not talk about it at all. Bhikkhuni’s are the proverbial elephant in the corner.

    • Blake,

      It may be that you are quite correct. However, it seems that this is what has happened… After dialogue failed, a group decided to stop talking and just do it. And then they get accused of not being consultative enough.

      For my part, I’m happy to support any well practising Sangha. I just wish that now that this split has ocurred, that the group in Perth is left in peace. If people don’t wish to support them, fine. But I really wish people would not try and deliberately hinder and harm them.

      Anyway, for me personally, my energies are starting to go into other places now… I think talking has done what it can do for now. Thanks to you and all those who have participated in this forum. Thanks Ajahn Sujato for making it possible to have these conversations. I believe everyone that has commented on this blog has done so because they care very deeply about what has happened and that they only want what’s best for the Buddha Sasana. In that spirit, we are all companions and friends. May we all be well and happy and at peace. If we ever meet, may it be in good will, if not agreement. Much metta to you all.🙂

      By the way, what’s an elephant in the corner? Haven’t heard that one before.🙂

    • Hello dear Kanchana, I agree totally with everything you have written above. Thank you Ajahn Sujato, sincerely from the bottom of my heart, for giving us this blog and the fast track learning experience I’ve had here. It’s been life changing. I’m really going to miss my friends on this blog. I’ve learned so much from you all – whether we agree or disagree – I have a greater understanding. And thank you for the poems. I feel we’ve connected as real spiritual friends. You’ve carried me over a very difficult time. It’s scary to have to move on and find another place to practice. I’m not in Australia so no Ajahn Brahm and no Ajahn Sujato – and I can’t support the Western WPP monasteries in the UK any longer – having seen the kind of organisation they belong to. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I’m not sure I’m worried about peace and harmony any more either. If black people were worried about keeping peace and harmony, they would still be sitting at the back of the bus and eating in separate restaurants. Crumbs, I don’t even know if I’m still a Buddhist anymore :O) Thank you again everyone. You’ve made my heart a much bigger place.

    • Dear Florentyna, you have brought tears to my eyes. I’m not sure what to say but I want you to know that you are not without support. I fully respect your decision, your choice to not engage with the UK Sangha. But may I respectfully offer an observation? I do not know any of those monks and nuns personally. You are perhaps in a position to visit them all and talk to them about this issue; after such conversations you may find one/some that you may feel that your heart can support. I’m sure there must still be much good in the UK Sangha. Perhaps it needs good kind people such as yourself to find it and nurture it. What ever you decide, whether Buddhist or not, I still see you as a friend in the Dhamma and will think of you often, with love and respect. I hope you find good friends and good role models. All the very best to you, journeywoman on a spiritual path, may all good forces look out for you, may all the good you have ever done in all your lives support you. Metta.

    • Dearest Florentyna,
      I am with you every step. These are strong winds.
      At this frenetic time in my current life, with little time for sitting, I can still see that what is happening is a death of some kind. And from a spiritual perspective, we know these deaths are good (provided they remain buoyant). I can’t articulate it yet but I can understand parts of it.
      At the start of Bhante’s blog and throughout we have seen both male and female practitioners going through much the same process. It is painful. But there is much to be learned about self and not-self. How we relate wisely to Sangha. How to find or build a true Sangha. What is true Sangha for us.
      I confess, at the gross level I am only vaguely interested in all of that and have indulged in a few forms of consolation. One of them is Rumi. Rejoicing in new Kalyanamittas. Seeking (which is what brought me to the Buddha’s Dhamma). Spending time meeting friends from interfaith communities. With the latter we share much in common, much of it transcends the form of our faith traditions.
      If Bhante forgives me, again, I would like to share from Rumi’s Die Before you Die:
      “Love’s sun is the face of the Friend. This other sunlight covers that. The day and the daily bread that come are not to be worshipped for themselves. Praise the great heart within those, and the loving ache within yourself that is part of that. Be one of God’s fish who receives what it needs directly from the ocean it swims – food, shelter, sleep, medicine. A lover is like a baby at its mother’s breast, knowing nothing of the visible or the invisible worlds. Everything is milk, though it could not define that. It can’t talk! This is the riddle that drives the mind crazy: that the opener and what is opened are the same! It’s the ocean inside the fish that bears it along, not the river water. The time river spreads and disappears into the ocean with the fish. Seeds break open and dissolve in ground. Only then do new fig trees come into being. So you must die before you die.”
      I am moderately excited for the new little saplings🙂
      And grateful to be witness to your transformation, Dear Sister, as you are to mine.

    • Dear Kanchana and Lisa Karuna, thank you so much for your very kind words in response to my blog. I deeply appreciate all the kindness I have been shown here – even just putting down all my sadness and reading other people’s sadness. Most especially learning from so many people, reading what the Buddha actually taught – not asian convention and rules. I want to learn more because my heart tells me it will free my head and that’s my longing. I want to find a vessel to grow my spiritual self in – but I can’t do that in the same room as the elephant. There are a lot of good sangha at the UK WPP monasteries. When I speak with them they say they support Bhikkhuni’s and looking after Bhikkhuni’s. But where are their voices now when it matters. They could have been honest about their own feelings and how things were in the west and helped to calm and moderate the actions taken against Ajahn Brahm. Or been honest with us and said they didn’t want Bhikkhuni’s. I don’t know what to believe now. I said I wasn’t very worried about peace and harmony anymore, because keeping quiet is not agreeing, and when good people keep quiet, bad things can happen and trust is destroyed. So, having woken up I will send you a favourite piece of Rumi…. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you …. Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want……. Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.

    • Dear Florentyna,
      At times I feel my love for my teachers (and A/C and the Buddha) is too deep to sit by and watch their communities bleed and die in the way that they are. And to allow an inner circle driven by the new Sanghas (and what I feel is violence, though they have not realized it) take over AC’s entire community and cause the harm this has caused.
      But I could easily move to one of the new joyful Sanghas I have discovered, which are in fact empowering of their practitioners, communicative and support the practice of all beings without exception…
      …so I examine this intention. Why? Why would I “waste” precious time when life is so short and the opportunity is there to practice fully in a supportive environment somewhere else?
      It is a little like our duty to repay our parents…the gift of the Dhamma, though not always perfectly offered, remains invaluable. I can never repay my teachers. And I can take action in ways they clearly cannot. And I have overwhelming compassion for their vulnerability.
      Yes, they are vulnerable.
      Last night in Thay’s Sangha, we read aloud each of us a paragraph from an article by one of his new lay teachers. She works in the area of restorative justice. And she quoted something to the effect that – it is not redemption that brings forgiveness but forgiveness by the victim that brings redemption…
      We can contribute to change. It is not too late. Never too late.
      But there is a lot of work to do then.
      My teachers may be afraid of these men.
      But I am not.
      I have nothing to lose. And if I do, I may be willing to lose it.
      We deal with many lifetimes.
      The key is not to go back to sleep.😉

    • Dear aah-haa

      Most parents want their daughters to conform to societal norms / get marry because they want to fit in with their peers in society and don’t want others to think negatively about them because their daughters are not married. Others think that having a husband is the necessary ingredient for their daughter’s happiness . But that is just what they learn from the culture around them. The Buddha discovered a different path, where happiness can arise from within. If the path found by the Buddha is truly a noble path that leads to the highest happiness, then why do parents wants to stop their daughters from following in the footsteps of the Buddha? To do so is an ” encroachment on personal freedom ” of a living being. Parents and government should not interfere or obstruct. Instead they should help their daughters when and if they feel the inspiration to take up the spiritual life as prescribed by the Buddha. The way I see it, the number of female in the population who appreciate the Dhamma enough to want to go forth are few. If there are such women then we should not deter them. The Dhamma when practiced properly can give rise to so much inner peace and contentment that are not dependent on external stimulus such us attaching oneself to another person , or chasing after desires endlessly and restlessly. The need to go into the world for sensory enjoyment is hardly there when piti-sukkha arises within. Spiritual happiness is more refined than most coarser sensory enjoyment of the physical world. Not to mention the possibility of liberation from the endless cycle of dhukkha. Why would we want to obstruct our daughters and other females from such a wonderful path set in motion by Lord Buddha himself.

    • Dear iMeditation
      On parents and daughters, I think you have mistaken my point or analogy. Reading thru your posts, I see that you almost interpret everything literally and out of context. Nowhere did I say parents want to stop their daughters from following the footsteps of the Buddha.
      There is more than one path to happiness. And happiness is a momentary state. The Chinese character for marriage is Double Happiness! Having said that, there is no universal truth that all marriages are happy and all singles are happy. And for that matter all monks and nuns are happy. If so, why do some disrobe?
      While the Buddha has found a way to happiness, he didn’t say that one must join the Sangha of bikkhus or bhikkhunis in order to attain happiness. Parents do have a certain expectation of their children and even if they do have misgivings about given total freedom to their children, it is out of love rather than in the context of ‘encroachment of personal freedom’. I don’t think parents see it this way even if you disagree. The Asian culture is quite different from the West. Family and society comes first before the individual whereas the West emphasizes on “I”, “Me”, “My Rights”, “Legal Age”. Parents and concerned governments should ‘facilitate’ singles in finding life partners but ultimately the choice rest with the individuals. You have to see it as their expression of concern and love not in your context of ‘encroaching on personal freedom’ or ‘interfere’. That’s where your view and my view differ.
      I think it is a misconception that spiritual pursuit can only be accomplished according to what the ‘Buddha prescribed’. Practising the Dhamma requires diligence and concentration, not according to gender or single status. The Precepts are gender-free, parent-free, Buddha-free, marital-free.
      I hope you have not confused parental advice (which I suggested) with your expression here about parental objection to their daughters joining the Sangha.
      The parent-daughter analogy I used was not about deterring women who want to ‘go forth’ or the ‘obstructions’ you so described.

    • Dear ahh-haa,

      You wrote in another post that:
      ” When I put it to him that if his highly educated, pretty daughter choose to be single, won’t he be concerned and want to do something? He remained silent.”

      So I was just sharing my personal view about the common situation of certain parents not wanting their daughters to renounce the world and not get marry. It has nothing to do with any analogy that you yourself may have posted. I believe you have misunderstood me once again.

    • Dear iMeditation
      There were a couple of postings on parent-daughter analogy which included marriage. The context was about women choosing to remain single and not about their wanting to join the bhikkuni order, which you wrote. While you may be sharing a ‘common situation’ which I think it is not common, it is quite expected for parents, especially Asian ones to object to their sons joining whatever religious order that requires celibacy.
      If your sharing has nothing to do with my analogy, then I have misunderstood you.

    • Hi Aah-haa, I think the post numbers change as others post. My reply was made on Jan 18, 7.40 am, blog-time – cos its the afternoon for me.

    • Dear Kanchana
      A plethora of comments both sensible and insensible is expected from all quarters. The tricky part is to stay objective, not so emotive and also not easily swayed even by the most romantic and eloquent arguments. The moment we stand on a certain ground, we are bound to dig in and get entrenched in the fox-hole. One has to take the ‘helicopter’ view, not the ‘crap-hole’ view, be able to hover above all the dins and dust and not be sand over by the next rushing wave.
      In any forum or blog, robust exchanges are expected. At times, not so kind words are thrown in – part and parcel of any row. Perhaps, we should be slow to shoot, quick to apologise.
      Falsehoods, subjective truths, wrong information, and ignorance are common. That’s why it necessary to correct, challenge, verify and prompt questions. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations do occur. No offence is taken where none is intended. We live and learn, and let live.
      So, let Ajahn Chah rest in peace and the four Bhikkhunis be true to their calling.
      With metta.

    • Dear ahh haa,

      ahh haa wrote:
      “, it is quite expected for parents, especially Asian ones to object to their sons joining whatever religious order that requires celibacy.”

      This is the reason why I think it is a common situation when it comes to a child wanting to ordain.

      Even if there are people who disrobe , it doesn’t mean that other people should not embark on the journey and ordain. Just because there are people that quit their jobs, it doesn’t mean that we should discourage an offspring from taking up a career.

      Of course someone may say that it is not necessary to ordain to practice the Middle Path to its fullest. This is only true if the necessary conducive conditions are available at home. But often it is the case that when living at home, parents or relative would pressure the person to get marry, have children, run in the rat race,etc. These distractions would take up so much time and energy away from from practice.

    • **Proper procedures.

      What proper procedures were followed at the excommunication meeting?

      **Opportunity to defend.

      What were the opportunities to defend?

    • This was what I feared; opening a new can of worms. Hopefully, there will be no arguments from quarters adding to the complexity of what I thought was rather a straightforward issue. But I reckon that this is where any form of alignment is going to result in tangential trajectory rather than convergence.
      Emotions must not be set in motion.

    • Sorry, this reply is for Kanchana
      This was what I feared, opening a new can of worms. Hopefully, there will be no arguments from quarters adding to the complexity of what I thought was rather a straightforward issue. But I reckon that this is where any form of alignment is going to result in tangential trajectory than convergence.
      Emotions must not be set in motion.

    • Kanchana,
      Why would the WPP elders be upset and rightly so? The answer was there but you choose to ignore: “The point is: AB is of the WPP tradition and his Preceptor was of the Thai lineage. They expect AB to be one of them. And WPP uphold the 1928 ruling which obligated monks from WPP to follow.”
      This is also what my analogy is about – the expectation of the Group. If there is no importance in conformity, then why talk about conforming to the Vinaya?

    • Dear Dhamma Friend,
      Thank you for posting here. I believe your intention is to help us come a little closer together.
      What has disappointed me as a member of the Sangha is one of the options you have not presented here. That some of our beloved Venerables would be offended does not surprise me. That a number reacted as they did does not either.
      But the greatest responsibility in their careful hands in my humble opinion, is the spiritual well being of the greater Sangha. People without the benefit of an immediate monastic community around them, people exploring this path, people aspiring to ordain, people who have committed themselves to the spirit of this Dhamma, with their hearts and whatever means at their disposal.
      I can see this matters to you. And for this I am very grateful that you are contributing here.
      People’s hearts are breaking. People are leaving this Sangha, leaving Buddhism. The Vinaya, the rules, the Thai laws, natural justice, much of this is over everyone’s heads and of little interest in the face of a splitting family and spiteful reactions by people we held to be wise.
      People want to see Sangha building, not destruction. And they want to feel in the care of others who are committed to this.
      A spiritual commitment (I dont need to tell you) in the context of community is one that can involve great mental, psychological, sometimes financial and/or physical vulnerability.
      Regardless of views and what transpires, one wants to be held in a safe place, where one can look to one’s community to resolve things amicably, a community whose elders can demonastrate that the well-being of the greater community are on their minds and in their hearts to protect.
      Respectfully.

    • Metta wrote: “The disatisfaction was about AB & the Bhikkhunis being ungrateful and disrespectful to their teacher, Ajahn Chah and WPP”

      There are two ways of perceiving this situation. It can also be seen as a wake up call, an opportunity to re-examine their preconceived notions about bhikkhuni ordination . No one can decide for them how they would choose to interpret the situation. Whether Ajahn Brahm appreciates Ajahn Chah or not , is independent of what others may choose to perceive or interpret. Let’s go beyond obsessing about how hurt our egos are because we are not being obeyed and focus more on opening the door of dhamma for others on the spiritual path in accordance with the Buddha’s Dhamma.

      aah-haa wrote: “The point is: AB is of the WPP tradition and his Preceptor was of the Thai lineage. They expect AB to be one of them. ”

      WPP is of the Buddha’s tradition, it should not put itself above his vinaya. The Buddha never said to listen to your Elders regardless of what the Buddha might have said. Sorry if it hurts anyone’s ego that Ajahn Brahm chooses the rules of the Buddha over that of WPP. But Elders just means they get to go first or ahead in the food line and get the best hut, robes, etc..This rule started when all the other monks occupied all the beds, and one of the elder was left with no bed to sleep in. So the Buddha made a rule that the Elders should get the best food and lodging first as a courstesy. It doesn’t mean that their words will replace the Buddha’s words when he is gone.

      aah-haa wrote: “This is also what my analogy is about – the expectation of the Group. If there is no importance in conformity, then why talk about conforming to the Vinaya? ”

      Given the choice between whatever rules that the group came up with ( ie..no bhikkhunis) and the Vinaya, a monk can choose to upheld the Vinaya and disregard the rule made up by the group. Let’s not forget that WPP is a Buddhist group. It is also not above the Vinaya.

      ahh-haa wrote: ” WPP uphold the 1928 ruling which obligated monks from WPP to follow.”

      In 2003 a Thai senate sub-committee investigated the 1928 ruling , and they found that the ruling ” contravene the Thai constitution, especially the clauses guaranteeing gender equality and freedom of religious practice. ” I wonder why WPP is still upholding the 1928 ruling when it was overturned in 2003 . Also is there a need to make all other monasteries around the world make the same mistake as they do.

    • Hi iMeditation,

      Thanks so much for another incisive, to-the-point comment. I’d just like to clarify the point in your last paragraph about the 1928 ruling.

      The 2003 senate subcommittee advised that the ruling contravened the constitution. The National Office of Buddhism declared it would stand by the ruling, without, so far as I am aware, explaining how they thought it did not violate the constitution. Then the Deputy prime minister stepped in and said the sangha should look after its own affairs, and the question was dropped. The matter has not been tested in court, and so remains unsettled.

      Nevertheless, I have been advised that the normal principle in a situation such as this is that, if there is a question whether a law is valid or not, one should normally follow the position of the highest authority that has pronounced on the matter, which in this case is the senate sub-committee. Until and unless that advice is overturned by a higher authority – say the supreme Court, or a constitutional change – it is reasonable to assume that its advice is correct. The Thai constitution has in fact changed a couple of times since 2003, but the relevant clauses on gender equality and freedom of religious belief and practice remain. As far as i am aware, WPP has expressed no opinion on this question.

    • Dear Ajahn Sujato,

      The non-ordination of women really reflects badly on Buddhism, if it is in line with the Vinaya to ordain women then there is no reason for this situation to continue. I am glad that you , Ajahn Brahm, as well as many other monks from Sri Lanka have put forth great effort into restoring the Fourfold Sangha. Or else, I am afraid Buddhism might become outdated in the near future because of what others have added (non-ordination of women).

      Anyways, I guess it is time to return to meditation. I hope WPP stop harrassing you and Ajahn Brahm for following the Vinaya and restoring the Fourfold Sangha. It is rare to find a sangha like yours and Ajahn Brahm anywhere in the world. Too bad, your’s and Ajahn Brahm’s monateries are all the way in Australia.

    • Hi florentya

      Factually, this blog has harmed the reputation of WPP and the Thai/Western Elders and discredit the integrity of WPP and the Thai/Western Elders more than it caused harm to the Perth Sangha or Ajahn Brahm, with all the vicious comments directing at the two Elders to overthrow WPP with sole purpose to gain victory and justify one “mistake” in the female monks made by Ajahn Brahm in the name of Buddha and the Vinaya.

      To gauge the authenticity of all the comments, Ajahn Sujato & BSWA should have the courage to have comments through Google Accounts or Blogger Account (as in genuine blogs like Bikkhu’s blog where you need an account to blog) if not, any Tom, Dick & Harry could simply blog (without an identity)and it could come from within and be bias, therefore eliminate a lot of nonsense and rubbish in this blog.

  32. Confession of a Theravadan Blogaholic

    Repent I this dour sin.

    I am waylaid
    By a ridiculous din
    With an anonymous brigade

    Of pseudonyms.

    >j<

    • Dear Jason,

      Nice poetic retort! When you ordain as a monk, will your monk name be a pseudonym or the real deal? I am amused by how it is mostly those who refuse to use their real names who perpetuate the “ridiculous din”. But one man’s din may be another’s din-ner! And the non-namer(s) have the guile to suggest that everyone else may just as well be guilty of faking it. Will the 3fold assembly blogaholics please stand up – tell us who you are! Was the Buddha wrong to create the bhikkhuni sangha? Are Samsara, Ooh, Ahh, Glenn McGrath, Dhammalight, et al – just a smokescreen for Mara? Why are they afraid of owning their words? Anyway, if it wasn’t for the acrimony of the anti-bhikkhuni brigade, then we’d have to spend less time at the Sujato Blog answering off-beam claims, and spend more time watching the rise and fall of the breath. May all contributors to this blog, seen or unseen, those living near or far away be free from RSI and enmity!

      BTW, tomorrow is Australia Day – does anyone care? I reckon Jan 1st (1901 Federation) is a more appropriate day (if any is required at all). But I digress …

  33. Lisa, for you and Florentyna and anyone else that doesn’t mind…

    ‘Tis a common tale told by a beggar of egos
    told in the most yearning and barren years of youth
    The tale of an abandoned half formed poet
    who gives away his truths.

    She gives them up as Silence
    dawns upon her new found quest
    To still the words upon her lips
    and those that swell upon the crest
    of foamy half thought thoughts.

    To steal a gaze into the void
    he gives up all his words,
    gives up all his worlds
    and with a fist of heartfelt
    silence, beats upon the airy door
    that somehow doesn’t yield.

    Broken, he thinks perhaps
    his time has not yet come.
    He leaves the blessed footprints
    and ceases the use of fists.

    He picks up the words that in all truth
    He had never really layed down.
    Looks again with different eyes
    and sees his quest anew.

    Perhaps, she thinks,
    this word is not the best friend she could meet.
    But a companion on the gentle path
    to finding all her needs
    and to finding all the silences that finally are revealed
    the truest friend there at the end she hopes but gently now
    the Buddha in the middle of the lotus growing in a pond of weeds.

    • Isn’t it wonderful that we can end up with poems :o) I think that’s the beginning of the new flowering – the ‘little joy’ is starting to appear. Spring time is on the way. The storm is passing and we are left with a fresh start. Sory, my English isn’t good enough to write poems but I love reading them. Somehow my heart translates to my brain.

      I hope Ajahn Brahm, the new Bhikkhuni and Ajahn Sujato are left alone now to get on with their practice – and be supported by all those interested in the dhamma, the Buddha’s teachings. “They have shown themselves to be worth of offering and worth of respect”.

    • Dearest Florentyna

      I think the little joy was always there but we weren’t seeing it. I know I do that many times. My heart sees the stormy weather even though my head knows that it is just a spring shower and the flowers are open, sucking up all the water and the sun is still out, warming their roots…rainbow weather. Their really is always a silver lining. We just forget about it or we forget where to look. I think that’s what friends are for…to remind us. Lots of metta.

    • Very nice indeed!
      Transformative too.
      I know one Sangha Sister who may consider continuing this form of practice to develop right speech and transform some of the heavy (and light!) states of the heart…:-)
      Sadhu! Sisters K and F!
      (Bhante, I hope you forgive us. Thank you for providing a space for healing and Sangha building.)

    • All the best to you Sister L!🙂

      It ain’t easy transforming those heavy states, translating them to right right speech and action, nevermind intention!!! But it so worthwhile. Oh boy! I feel all inspired to go and sit and do some metta now! Thanks Lisa! What a good influence you are!🙂

    • Hi Kanchana,

      Yes. It’s a difficult and painful path, this negotiation of the relationship between words and silence. Between speaking and listening. Just as I crave expression, I am equally addicted to silence. And till the day of my final passing – may it come sooner rather than later – all my actions of body, speech and mind will be a very human-muddle somewhere in between.

      >j<

    • Dear Jason,

      I really appreciate your comment.

      Do you think though that as you get closer to your final awakening (rather than passing), that your words will slowly still all by themselves? That your addiction to silence will naturally increase until your mind embodies it more and more?

      I know what you mean by the human-muddle somewhere in between… A very dear friend of mine, some of you may know her but I won’t mention names, spoke of her practise in the following way: there are times when it is intense and times when it is more of the world and that is the normal pattern of things.

      This friend is a woman who has been practising for a long time, a mother of 3, a wife, a healer, a friend and helper to the many folk who seek her help. Her defining feature, to me any way, is her honesty. After years of struggling honestly with the whole ‘I’m just not sitting often/regualarly enough’ battle…she gave up the struggle and allowed the natural pattern of intense practise, easing off, intense pracise, easing off… to happen.

      I remember the relief washing over me as she confided to me that she had noticed this about her self. Looking back on my life I see it littered with laziness, selfishness, grumpyness…I also see moments of clarity, moving on with a new attitude to life, moments where my personality shifted and changed…also moments of regression to bad habits when life became stressful…but always there was my faith that pulled me back, pushed me on and each time I returned to a more grounded place, it seemed better, stronger, surer than before. I don’t know what the future holds; what states of hell or heaven I may still pass through on my way but my apiration remains to return to this path each time, to remember it, to cultivate it as best i can.

      I’m sure your aspiration is pure. I’m sure your faith will keep you going. Faith is just a mental construct. But a very useful one to feed and grow. (Also its quite fun and feels jolly nice!)🙂 All the best.

  34. Convalescence

    Waiting in the fourth ward
    For sufferers of the seventh degree,
    I think on why it is
    Time and again
    My hand returns to that fearsome pyre.

    For while anger’s fire racks,
    The harvest of vengeance is honey-sweet.

    So strenuously I must stay,
    That the hand of vengeance may be still
    And anger’s boil heal
    With time.

    >j<

    • Apologies. The above is mine. I used a computer that Ayya Citta happened to use last, and it was automatically signed in as her.

      >j<

  35. Hi everyone,

    Between stints in Buddhism, I was an avid reader of the works of an American philosopher, Ken Wilber. Wilber is well-known for his writings on trans-personal psychology, and a developmental meta-framework known as integral theory. This comment is my attempt to relevantly rehash some his ideas into the context of this thread.

    I think it is true to say that debate and discussion are endless, conducive to social disharmony and productive of dukkha . It would, however, be overshooting the mark to conclude that discussion and debate are to be approached with a negative or fearful attitude. Discussion and debate, in the long term, are also conducive to social harmony, individual path-development and, ultimately, Enlightenment. It just depends on how they are used.

    It is of practical importance to those with inquiring minds who would develop a full and rich relationship with their practice, that a positive understanding of discussion and debate be developed. It is repulsive to those with inquiring minds that discussion and debate be treated insensitively with approaches (whether explicit or implicit) like ‘you’ll never talk your way into Nibbana’ or ‘views are all the product of the defiled mind, but your views are quite surely more defiled than mine’.

    Furthermore, because it is a simple fact that young people are increasingly inquiring of mind, and are rightly encouraged to be this way by modern culture and education, Buddhism in general, and monasticism in particular, will continue to turn off young people, and especially the talented ones, until it can fruitfully and relaxedly integrate discussion and debate into their cultures.

    I am particularly interested in this aspect of Buddhism as it establishes itself in the English speaking world because as a young man aspiring to ordain, I do not wish to condemn myself to a religious culture, and linguistic environment of dogma, denial, and fundamentalism.

    Wilber puts it well when he says that personal and social development can be, broad speaking, usefully understood in terms of three stages: pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional (which also correlate with the movement from ego-centric to ethno-centric to world-centric ways of thinking).

    These three stages were researched in the States during the Vietnam War. The reasons for why college students opposed the Vietnam War were collated and analysed, and it was found that although all the interviewees were agreed in terms of their opposition to the war, it was found that they were against it for different reasons. Broadly speaking, those reasons can be characterised as follows…

    1. “I don’t care what anybody thinks, I think its wrong.” – selfish/pre-conventional/ego-centric.
    2. “My friends and people I respect think its wrong.” – conformist/conventional/ethno-centric.
    3. “I’ve thought about the ethical dimensions carefull, and I think its wrong.” – conscientious/post-conventional/world-centric.

    The reason why discussion and debate lead to disharmony and dukkha is because, empirically speaking, people in group 1 are impervious to any kind of persuasion, and because people in any particular group are usually so identified with their own way of being that they believe that they tend to feel (usually at a gut-level) that there is something fundamentally wrong with the people in the other groups.

    (A quick digression. A widespread phenomenon, is something Wilber terms the ‘pre-trans fallacy’. This refers to when one mistakes what is pre-conventional as post-conventional, or post-conventional as pre-conventional simply because they have one thing in common – they are both not conventional.)

    Actually, there’s nothing particularly wrong with any of the groups, they just reflect different aspects of the mind. It should be said, however, that these aspects are stages (broadly speaking) and they follow each other chronologically, although not necessarily linearly. Also, each stage-group holds potentials for both healthy and pathological manifestations and developments.

    The fourth group, is what Wilber calls ‘integral’. What characterises this stage is an emphasis on, to use Buddhist language, acceptance and forgiveness. In this context, it is the acceptance and forgiveness of all people, no matter what stage-group they happen to be in generally, or ‘just today’. Acceptance and forgiveness that comes because all stage-groups are aspects of the mind, they are our common heritage, and they all operate internally and externally in and for each of us in different combinations and ways.

    The reason why discussion and debate can be conducive, in the long term, to social harmony, individual path-development and, ultimately, Enlightenment is that wherever we happen to be at, in order to move on, we need to dis-identify with the way of think-doing that we are currently immersed in. Practically speaking, this can only occur if we are challenged – discussion and debate being a major pair in a set of ways this can occur. The trick is, to not let the challenge create even more sticky identification with where we are at, and to use it as a motivation to move on.

    Whether we choose to dig a deeper trench or move on, it’s a painful process either way. So courage is needed.

    >j<

    • Brilliant AJ. That is what leaders can do. They can help us understand the broader context and help us redirect our energies towards our shared aspirations.

  36. Metta :
    Hi Kanchana,
    Sorry, for me, it seemed like basic human principles and the core teachings of the Buddha have been breached.
    When Buddha became enlightened under the Bodhi tree, Buddha paid respect to the Bodhi Tree for 7 days and wanted to repay his gratitude to His First Jhana Teachers, but learned that they had passed away.
    For me, they had gone against one’s principle and conscience, although would like to support their vision and mission, but would be hypocritic to do so.Sorry, just being truthful to my opinion. Sorry, do not mean to offend anyone.

    Hi Metta,

    There’s no need to be sorry for this comment. To disagree is not the same as causing offence. Though I disagree with you, I support your authenticity.

    You make a good point about the Buddha wanting to return to his former teachers. This, however, is not the full story. The Buddha wanted to return only after rejecting the practice his former teachers taught because their teachings did not lead to Enlightenment.

    He left his first teachers, and only after he worked things out for himself, did he develop the intention to return to his former teachers, specifically with the compassionate intention to correct their wrong view so that they could attain Nibbana. See Ariyapariyesana Sutta, MN 26.

    This sutta shows that Buddhism is rich and complex in relation to the role of respect. The Buddha did respect his teachers, but he was not afraid of disagreeing with them.

    >j<

  37. I should have provided the link that would explain the principle of natural justice. But in this Google age, one can easily find many links because one link may not be adequate.
    Less I be mistaken and not to complicate the matter with a lot of conjectures and speculations, my focus is on the official statement of WPP and Ajahn Brahm. All others including me are just bystanders who have a lot of emotions in motions.
    Fact: WPP and Thai Sangha are not in favour of reviving Theravada ordination of women because they believed it is dead and set the rule to settle the issue once and for all. Whether this rule is right or wrong is subjected to lots of debates just as like the Vinaya rules are also debatable and I do not for one moment believed that ALL monks agree to the Vinaya codes though they have vowed to follow them.
    Fact: Ajahn Brahm was from WPP and so was his Preceptor. Bodhiyana is also of the forest monastery tradition. AB was instrumental in the bhikkhuni ordination and participated in it as announcer (or whatever) to complete the dual procedure. The entire proceeding was held in BM. AB is abbot of BM. AB and BM are associated with WPP.
    Fact: AB was called to WPP and given the opportunity to present his side. He could not accede to what the elders demanded (whether right or not is another matter).
    Fact: WPP considers AB and BM as part of the Group. As such, there is the expectation that the Group must prevail over individual member (notwithstanding that monasteries are independent, Thai law is not extraterritorial, etc.). The meeting in Thailand concluded that there is agreement to a form of divorce.
    Analogy: If your daughter goes against your advice to marry a certain man (regardless of how she sees the goodness in that man), are you saying you have been unjust, discriminative, unconstitutional, etc.? Please answer this question because I noticed that none did.

    • You previously asked: IF your daughter refused your advice not to marry a certain man, are you saying you have violated the Constitution? And your objection or refusual to bless her marriage is invalid?

      First of all, not being the cleverest cookie and subject to bouts of the ‘i just don’t get it!’ syndrome…I would be most grateful if you could specifically explain to me what you mean. Is the daughter in this analogy meant to be Ajahn Brahm? Are you in this analogy meant to mean Ajahn Sumedho or just the WAM or just the WPP? I just want to make sure I understand you correctly.

      However, assuming that I have understood you. In my very humble opinion, yes you are being unjust, discriminative and unconstitutional and your objection to bless the marriage would be quite invalid.

      Your feelings about the matter are fully valid. And most certainly you are entitled to your opinions and you are also entitled to withhold your personal blessing. It’s a free country after all…or a democratic one at any rate…well, the one I live in is…

      However, in terms of laws and indeed natural justice (thank you so much Ajahn Sujato for the link) you would be unfair. Especially as you state ‘regardless of how she sees the goodness in that man’. Looking at the Wikipedia definition of natural justice, what you are suggesting is not natural justice at all. Happy to be corrected by any one if I am in error here.

      In terms of laws and constitutions…well I suppose it might also depend on the age/maturity of the daughter. In the country I am in, if she’s over 18, you would be entitled to not speak to her again but you wouldn’t be allowed to harass her after you had kicked her out of your home. A court of law would probably impose a restraining order against you if you tried to take away her property. You may find yourself being sued for slander if you told public lies about her. It would be entirely your business if you never wanted her in your home and perhaps you could even have her arrested for trespassing if she attempted to contact you by trespassing on your property…but attempting to make her life difficult for her in these other ways would be against the law and the constitution.

      Having said all this, you are a private individual. The WPP is not. The WPP is a group that is supported by many private individuals who have immense faith in the Triple Gem and who look to them for inspiration and teaching. They should be setting a good example. They should be showing how the metta sutta is practised even when they disagree with the actions of one of their own. That is the highest standard of conduct that they should have displayed. They are role models and should have known better.

      I am not kicking them out of my heart though. I would still support them if I could and if they needed it. Especially because there are so many beautiful, truthful, faithful beings still residing within the WPP Sangha.

      Thank you for the opportunity for hearing your voice. I have learned a little bit more.

  38. Lisa Karuna :Metta,Why was it Ok for Ajahn Amaro and not Ajahn Brahm?

    I think this is a very good question and the answer to it points to why some of the WAM monks have behaved the way they have.

  39. aah-haa :Kanchana,Why would the WPP elders be upset and rightly so? The answer was there but you choose to ignore: “The point is: AB is of the WPP tradition and his Preceptor was of the Thai lineage. They expect AB to be one of them. And WPP uphold the 1928 ruling which obligated monks from WPP to follow.”This is also what my analogy is about – the expectation of the Group. If there is no importance in conformity, then why talk about conforming to the Vinaya?

    The Vinaya is not a group.

  40. iMediation said: ‘Let’s go beyond obsessing about how hurt our egos are because we are not being obeyed and focus more on opening the door of dhamma for others on the spiritual path in accordance with the Buddha’s Dhamma.’

    Well said!

  41. Metta :The whole issue here was not about the Vinaya. The disatisfaction was about AB & the Bhikkhunis being ungrateful and disrespectful to their teacher, Ajahn Chah and WPP for the opportunity and fertile fields for them to be what they are today. Sorry, IMO three words to describe them are 1.Ungrateful (no gratitude) 2. Disrespectful & 3. Arrogance. Don’t you agree? (Leave the Vinaya aside, let’s deal with human relationship).

    Dear Metta,

    I thank you for the cordiality of your responses.

    I feel I must respond again to the above statement.

    1. If by magic you could summon all the words Ajahn Brahm has spoken and then by magic summon all the times he mentions Ajahn Chah and then by magic have each of these instances written out… You would, without a shadow of a doubt, find a man talking lovingly, respectfully and reverently about a teacher whom he saw as a father. To state that Ajahn Brahm disrespects Ajahn Chah or was ungrateful or anything of this sort is simply not true.

    2. When Ajahn Vayama was the only nun at Dhammasara and living in a caravan (many years ago in the early days) I asked her once who her teacher was and she replied the Buddha. She is not disrespecting her teacher.

    3. The other 3 nuns, their preceptor is Ayya Tattaloka, they often listen to teachings from Ajahn Brahm and they have been trained by Ajahn Vayama. They are not being disrespectful to their teachers.

    4. Many years ago I visited the nuns and through a window saw an Angarikaa reverently reading one of Ajahn Chah’s books. That Angarikaa is now one of the Bhikkunis whom you are accusing of not having enough respect.

    5. Dear Metta, in asking us to leave the Vinaya aside you are (it seems to me) admitting that the Vinaya is supportive of Ajahn Brahm and the Bhikkunis. Which it is.

    6. Before he parinibbaned, the Buddha said that we are to take the Dhamma and the Vinaya as our leaders and guides. How can you suggest that we leave the Vinaya aside? The Suttas (the Dhamma) and the Vinaya need to be carefully studied so that we can get as close to the truth of the Buddha’s intentions as possible.

    7. As far as I am aware He did not state that we should let he Dhamma and the Sangha be our leaders and guide. As far as I am aware, he said Dhamma and the Vinaya.

    With Metta.

  42. Kanchana, the meaning of natural justice implies that if anyone is to be disciplined there should be proper procedures, constituents of hearing panel and opportunity to defend an allegation or accusation. I want to say this so as rebut those who think the WPP’s action was arbitrary and unilateral. If you cannot agree on this, then interpret natural justice your way with more justifications.
    And thank you Ajahn Sujato for your long script of a possible movie scenario on filial piety (or lack of it). My analogy is straightforward; how one wants to associate or connect it with AB or some other is immaterial. And all the conditions, legality like age, ‘racist’, etc, etc. are not the issues. The propensity to attach many other ‘factors’ in order to answer a simple question can be mind-boggling. If I give you an indication that the ‘certain’ man is a serial rapist, killer, drug trafficker – what would you say now?
    Like I said before, whatever one said, there will be always be justifications but that doesn’t necessarily mean one is absolutely right. Justification is not the same as right.
    Perhaps, those who claimed to know the inside may be able to throw some light as to why the Thai elders are upset? Surely they must be upset over the ordination otherwise why the divorce? Kanchana said the elders are not rightly upset, then what? Maybe they disliked AB or BM?

  43. There seems to be a theme emerging here. A number of our fellow bloggers feel that Ajahn Brahm owes WPP something for having heard the Buddhas teachings in Thailand. And it is because of this ‘owing’ that the WPP Elders are upset. I don’t think we can in any way include Ajahn Vayama in this ‘owing’ because she received ordination in Sri Lanka with Aya Khema and lived there, and in England and Australia. In the UK we are told in the Western WPP monasteries that the teachings are free. They do, after all, belong to the Buddha. We are also told that any ‘offerings’ that we make out of gratitude are unconditional unless we write on the envelope ‘for electricity’ – ‘for food’ etc. We also see monks ordain and monks disrobe. No one asks for them to give anything back. Can friends aah-haa or Metta please explain to me what is owed to WPP so that we can make clear choices when we get involved?

  44. (Copy and paste from other blog)

    “”Dear All,
    “”On 16/1/10 is Ajahn Chah’s remembrance Day! If Ajahn Chah was still alive, he would not like this “fire” going on and would be dissapointed and his advice would be “Go with your pure heart & mind” & “live in harmony with Nature””Be at peace with the world” & not be slaves to books.

    Pls. have some respect for the late Ajahn Chah.

    Nuns need not become female monks to get to arahantship as confirmed by our Buddha. In the West, the females want equal rights as the male monks, but can the female monks live up to the standard of the male monks in practising austherity in the forest,caves,cemetary,dense forest like our Ajahn Chah & his disciples monks? If not, by being equal in monkhood and not going forth would be indirectly and eventually bring down the standard of forest monkhood and their tradition of practice objectively. Can the female monks live with tigers and snakes in the forest alone? That was the obvious reason why the Bhikkhunis Sangha died off a thousand years ago. Do we want to revive it to later have it died off because it was near impossible for female monks to live in austherity (it was Buddha’s wisdom to object Mahapati to “gone forth” but encouraged them with the 8 rules for life).

    Please reflect and contemplate before the female ask for monkhood for equal status.(not anti Bhikkhunis, but please be real & practical).Buddhism has survived 2,600 years todate and hope it would go on another 2,600 years for the future generations by preserving the rules that the Elders and fore-Sangha had left to us to protect, follow and practice as inheritance.

    Happy Peaceful Remembrance Day, in honour of our late Ajahn Chah!Metta to the agreeable and the disagreeable.”””

    “”Agreeable – theravada bhikkhunis in Perth should have more understanding of WPP as a Forest Sangha tradition i.e the monks practise in solitute in the forest. By ordaining the Bhikkhunis under this tradition would be that the Bhikkhunis would also be regarded as Forest female monks. This inevitably would undermine the male chauvinism of the forest monks who had emulated the Buddha in forest living & practise.

    Hope the Bhikkhunis in Perth could reconsider their aspiration to be forest female monks as if WPP accepted Bhikkhunis, it would be of equal practising conditions and environment. Female nuns (being compassionate by nature) will do well in serving the lay community and at the same time aspire spiritually. What do you think, ladies?

    Wishing all disciples of Ajahn Chah traditions A Happy Harmonious Remembrance Day & May all attain Nibbana. May the late Ajahn Chah be in Nibbanic Bliss! Peace not War.””

    Please make Peace.Anumodana.

    • Friend. If your purpose is Sangha building, then read the previous responses here,
      reflect, return to us and share your thoughts. If your purpose is not Sangha building and if you are not opening your heart to your Sangha brothers and sisters, then there is no need for a response, is there?

    • Dear Laity,

      Laity wrote: “theravada bhikkhunis in Perth should have more understanding of WPP as a Forest Sangha tradition i.e the monks practise in solitute in the forest…..Hope the Bhikkhunis in Perth could reconsider their aspiration to be forest female monks as if WPP accepted Bhikkhunis, it would be of equal practising conditions and environment. ”

      I believe the living condition for Dhammasary Nuns Monastery is very similar to other forest monasteries for monks, such as Wat Pah Nananchat , Abhayagiri, Wat Metta, Bhodinyana, etc..There are hardly any issues. Most of these monasteries are pretty safe. The issue of safety have improved a great deal for forest monks nowadays. I believe, living in monasteries amidst the forest is way more peaceful than living in the ” concrete jungle”. Being surrounded by nature can be so healing and therapeutic to body and mind. On the other hand, living in the ” concrete jungle” can cut us off from this source of wellness. The feeling of being in solitude in nature is indescribable. It is not something to be feared.

  45. Kanchana :
    Dear Jason,
    I really appreciate your comment.
    Do you think though that as you get closer to your final awakening (rather than passing), that your words will slowly still all by themselves? That your addiction to silence will naturally increase until your mind embodies it more and more?

    Hi Kanchana,

    Hmmm … maybe. My current understanding of the Path, however, has it that progress is generally indicated by decreases in addiction, even to wholesome things, and increases in the ability to choose free of the push and pull of habit.

    I think the over-praise accorded to silence by certain understandings of Buddhism is related to the conception of precepts generally as negative injunctions. This conception is directly dealt with and refuted by the Buddha in the Samanamandikaputta Sutta (MN 78).

    In this sutta the carpenter Pancakanga is given the following teaching by a wanderer called Samanamandikaputta. I quote in length to bring out the unequivocal nature of the Buddha’s teaching in this regard.

    “Carpenter, when a man possesses four qualities, I describe him as accomplished in what is wholesome, perfected in what is wholesome, an ascetic invincible attained to the supreme attainment. What are the four? Here he does no evil bodily actions, he utters no evil speech, he has no evil intentions, and he does not make his living by any evil livelihood.”

    When Pancakanga repeats this to the Buddha, he receives the following reply:

    “If that were so, carpenter, then a young tender infant lying prone is accomplished in what is wholesome, perfected in what is wholesome, an ascetic invincible attained to the supreme attainment, according to the wanderer…’s statement. For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘body’, so how should he do an evil bodily action beyond mere wriggling? [He] does not even have the notion ‘speech’, so how should he utter evil speech beyond mere whining? [He] does not even have the notion ‘intention’, so how should he have evil intentions beyond mere sulking? [He] does not even have the notion ‘livelihood,’ so how should he make his living by evil beyond being suckled at his mother’s breast?”

    The Buddha could be pretty funny, possible even sardonic?

    The question of addiction is also addressed a bit later in the same sutta:

    “And where do these wholesome habits cease without remainder? Their cessation is stated: here a bhikkhu is virtuous, but he does not identify with his virtue, and he understands as it actually is that deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom where these wholesome habits cease without remainder.”

    As for the see-sawing nature of practice, I definitely agree that this is normal and nothing to fret about. My current understanding is derived from a combination of Buddhism and a developmental theory known as ‘spiral dynamics’.

    Imagine a spiral that has a very broad base but reaches a tip at the top. When seen from the top it looks like a snake coiling itself into the centre. From the side it looks like an upward moving wave of gradually decreasing range and periodicity. The first perspective explains why we so often feel like we are going in circles. The second, why it feels like we’re on a wave. Actually, we’re on a spiral, but sometimes our perspective gets flattened or narrowed into two-dimensions.

    The circle, the wave, the spiral reaches final stillness at the tip. But on the way there, the range and period of the wave seems to decrease with practice. Thus a general movement from long lasting movements from extreme to extreme, to short-live deviations from the centre. Regression, short and long term are also normal though.

    I’m speculating here, but I suspect that one reason why the bodhi tree was chosen as a symbol for Buddhism is because, at the point of stream entry the range and periodicity of the spiral decreases dramatically, in the same way that the width of the leaf of the bodhi tree sudden drops off.

    >j<

    • Oh yes … as to faith – donned.

      It seems to me that one way to think about how to progress is by seeing the indriyas -faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom – as what power the upward movement along the spiral.

      The seesawing is just the defilements fading away.

      >j<

    • Once again Jason, I really appreciate your responses!🙂

      I particularly the see-sawing spiral… I’ve been thinking of it like that myself for a while now. I still don’t know if I’m correct but this is certainly the pattern that I am perceiving.

      Thanks for the extracts from the Samanamandikaputta Sutta (MN 78). A very good reminder. Though I am reminded of Ajahn Brahm telling us that our practise is like climbing a ladder, to reach the next rung we need to let go of our attachment to the previous rung. So maybe we need to have a degree of attachment to silence, virtue etc.? What do you think?🙂

    • Hi Kanchana,

      Yups, a degree of attachment to virtue is necessary (although whether silence is virtuous is context-dependent).

      According to the Samanamandikaputta Sutta it’s a three step process. Abandon unwholesome habits. Develop wholesome habits. Abandon attachment to the wholesome.

      So, it seems, no category of phenomena within the five aggregates, not even the commonly maligned ones like emotion, discursive thought, speech, discussion and debate can be said to be bad outright. The striving, the training and purification seems to pertain to what is unwholesome and habitual within each category.

      So while it cannot be doubted that unwholesome and habitual emotion, discursive thought, speech, discussion and debate may arise, silence and non-engagement are no less susceptible to unwholesomeness and habituation. Indeed, depending on time, place and person/s involved, silence and non-engagement may be even more susceptible.

      But unwholesomeness and habit cannot magically disappear, nor can the unwholesome and autonomy magically arise. We have to each day, to paraphrase Pema Chodren, start from where we’re at.

      So, obviously, I disagree with aah-haa in relation to the danger of setting off emotions. Nothing is as simple as it seems. I am reminded of a post by Richie under Bhante’s post on ‘Projection’ where Richie asks us to imagine a tree in the fullest detail possible, and then go out and look at that tree, and realise we have been doing this to people all our lives.

      I would add that we have been doing this to social situations all our lives too.

      Not even monasteries, institutions one might think would be the simplest forms of society possible, are simple – not even the ones where there are only men.

      They are eco-systems, rich, interconnected, complex, full of feedback loops and uncertainty – dependently arisen, impermanent, reasons to be humble, reasons to listen, reasons to forgive.

      >j<

    • Oops. Typo: in the fifth paragrah above I meant, ‘nor can the wholesome and autonomy magically arise.’

    • Thanks for having this conversation with me Jason. Much appreciated. I particularly liked: ‘We have to each day, to paraphrase Pema Chodren, start from where we’re at.’ Cos its so easy to think that some small insight has magically transformed everything…but actually everyday is going to be unexpected in that we can’t necessarily count on our small insights to be around to support us all the time. In a way I feel that this makes life easier. Some how the pressure to be perfect is not so great. Thanks very much again Jason.🙂🙂

    • Hi Kanchana,

      Yeah … there’s enough things to worry about without having to add whether we’re ‘perfect’ Buddhists to the list.

      Thanks to you too. It’s been a fun conversation.

      >j<

  46. Thank you Bhante for this:
    “For Ajahn Brahm and myself, Buddhism is primarily what we have learned from the Suttas and experienced in our practice, and what we have learned and experienced from Thai teachers is a complement to this. For myself, I know very well that my Buddhist practice would ultimately not be very different if i had ordained in Sri lanka, for example. From the beginning it was the Suttas and meditation, everything else was a long way second.
    I should really stick to my own perspective here, but I believe that in these matters Ajahn Brahm is similar. I see myself as an interpreter, student, and practitioner of the Buddhist tradition, and wish to be in a state of mature dialogue with that tradition. I study it, learn from it, and respect it, but I enter in to that relationship consciously as an adult, and regard disagreement and independence as an intrinsic part of that relationship.”

    I think there is something seriously amiss when this kind of attitude is not respected, let alone not encouraged.

    I was just on the Access to Insight website, and clicked on “random article” and was struck with what popped up. It’s a booklet by the late Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo, (as most of you probably know, he was one of Thailand’s great masters in the Forest Tradition). The booklet is entitled What is the Triple Gem? (translated by Venerable Thanissaro). It is too long to post in its entirety, but here are some notable quotes from the introduction:

    “…I have decided to expand it into a handbook for all Buddhist adherents — i.e., for all who have declared the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha to be their refuge. Once we have made such a declaration, we are duty-bound to learn exactly what the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are. Otherwise, we will follow our religion blindly, without realizing its aims or the benefits — called ‘puñña,’ or merit — that come from its practice, inasmuch as Buddhism is a religion of self-help.
    Furthermore, we as Thai people are known throughout the world as Buddhists, but my feeling is that there are very few of us who know the standards of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. Although many of us are ‘Buddhist,’ we are Buddhist mostly through custom, not through informed awareness.

    Altogether, there are two ways of adhering to the religion: rationally and irrationally. To adhere to the religion irrationally means to adhere to it blindly, following one’s teachers or companions, holding to whatever they say is good without showing any interest as to whether it really is good or not. This is like a person of no discernment who uses whatever paper money comes his way: If it turns out to be counterfeit, he’ll be punished and fined in a variety of ways. This is what it means to adhere to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha irrationally.

    To adhere to the religion rationally means not to follow one’s own prejudices or those of one’s teachers or companions, but to follow the principles of the texts; holding to the Dhamma-Vinaya as one’s standard… If we want to know if a practice is good or bad, right or wrong, worthy of respect or not, we should check it against the standards established by the Buddha…

    As for the duties enjoined by the religion, they are two:
    1 Gantha-dhura: studying the scriptures. Once we know the scriptures, though, we can’t stop there. We have to put them into practice…
    2 Vipassana-dhura: the practice of tranquillity and insight meditation…

    …Thus I ask all Buddhists not to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to these problems. If we hold that it’s none of our business, the consequences could well flare up and spread to burn us. For this reason, I ask that we all help one another to look after the religion…

    …Whatever is already good, we should maintain with respect. Whatever isn’t, we should exert pressure to improve. We’ll then meet with what’s truly good, like rice: If you cook good, clean, husked white rice, you’ll eat with pleasure. If you cook unhusked rice, or a potful of husks, they’ll stick in your own throat. If we let any bad factions go uncorrected, they will burden the hearts of their supporters, who will become like people who cook rice husks to eat. Are we going to let one another be so stupid as to eat rice husks?”

    While the booklet makes no mention of Bhikkhunis, his words are well worth pondering, which is something I think we are all engaged in doing as we reflect on the current distressing and sad events related to WPP, especially the treatment of Ajahn Brahm and the general silence (at least publicly) on the part of the western WPP monks (with the exception of the two rather disappointing official responses).
    Link to article: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/triplegem.html

    With metta,
    Linda

    • Thanks so much for that quote, i haven’t read that for a long time now.

      …Whatever is already good, we should maintain with respect. Whatever isn’t, we should exert pressure to improve.

      And that’s really it in a nutshell.

  47. Sujato, Just some general points here — I have been a layman for about twenty years, and it’s refreshing to see a challenging Theravadin teacher like yourself emerging.

    Having said that — I absolutely don’t wish to overly criticise the ‘established’ South East Asian Sanghas and their Western devotee monks who are opposing you and Brahm — mainly because I have no idea how it is to live within the conventional SE Asian Sangha or the Australian ‘progressive’ Sangha and to live within those respective diverse cultural, social and psychological parameters.

    For that reason — a layman such as myself, can only partially understand the position of you and Brahm — and the position of the ‘established’ Thai Sangha that opposes you.

    However, I will make some observations which, hopefully, may have some relevance.

    It’s good you seem willing to stand up as a challenging Monastic thinker, even to the point that you call yourself an ‘anarchist’ — that interests me, and I have long felt that their were powerful similarities with a Tolstoy-ian Anarchist vision, even Max Stirner’s Anarchism, and the teachings of Buddhism. ( Of course, there are glaring contrasts between Proudhon, Bakukin, and other Anarchist schools and Buddhism since the former were worldly thinkers and both embraced violence ). Let’s not forget that in the conventional world of the Catholics, Meister Eckhardt was considered someone who was certainly challenging, as were the Egyptian and Syrian Desert Monks, and in modern times,so was Thomas Merton. To me, that’s a deeply valuable input within ‘tradition.’

    It’s also great to see that you are a well read man, who clearly knows a vast range of other literature from post Modernist, psychological and diverse political discourse. I think the Sangha really needs someone who is well versed ( such as you seem to be ) in that discourse and dialectic.( So far, the only Sangha who seem to have engaged with that wider thought are the FWBO — but I think we all know the failings of that group, who to me at least, verge on a business and a cult, and I have seen people damaged by them, and thus could never support them.)

    I also like the way you direct people to the Scriptures themselves as teachers — your directing people straight to the Suttas as you seem to be doing , is commendable in my view.

    All the Best ! I do look forward to watching more of your talks on you tube.

    Greg.

    PS My only reservation is your namedropping of Ken Wilber ! He’s a snake oil peddler,a dry good salesman and has obvious commercial intent, and apparently, is connected to cultish figures such as Andrew Cohen. To me, these are businessmen who pray on the weak and confused.

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for the kind observations.

      Regarding anarchy, I have little knowledge of it as a political philosophy, although I did hang out with a few anarchists in my activist days. Obviously I don’t condone violence, nor do I have any opinions about anarchy as a broader political ideology. But from my understanding some of the basic tenets of anarchy are: decision making by consensus, not majority; direct democracy, not representational; property held in common. All these are exactly how the Vinaya texts work. And they give quite a detailed and careful account of how to make it work; together with this is what seems to me a very humble and pragmatic acceptance of when it will not work. In particular, it won’t work as soon as members of the Sangha stop agreeing with it. This is why, of course, the Sangha has been so tolerant of State involvement in Sangha affairs.

      And re Ken Wilber: umm, I’m not name dropping: his work has been a profound influence on me, and there are certain things he’s done that I’ve not been able to learn from elsewhere. Yes, he has a commercial side, but so what? He makes a living, like any other writer or academic. What matters is the quality of his goods. i realize there are genuine problems with his work, and his association with some figures is troubling. there are personal accounts that hint at less pleasant aspects of his personality; but again, so what? there are less than pleasant aspects to my personality, too – so shoot me. I’m not asking for perfection, merely for knowledge. I find Ken Wilber’s approach is excellent for certain kinds of things; most obviously, getting a perspective on how Buddhism relates to various psychologies. Also, his pre/trans fallacy and understanding how modern spiritual movements got so narcissistic. Also, seeing how different aspects of spiritual practice are essential, not just so-called ‘bare awareness’; fair enough, this is obvious enough from, say, the eightfold path, but it does seem to get ignored quite a bit, and it’s nice to see it reaffimed in a modern context. Also – well, quite a few things actually. Anyway, keep disagreeing and we can have some nice chats about it!

  48. Dear Ajahn Sujato said :
    “You ask, ‘what is noble silence’. the Buddha defined it as second jhana; more broadly, it is keeping silent when there is nothing beneficial to say.”

    Thankyou.
    Very good and clear definition.

  49. Sorry, this reply was for Kanchana:
    This was what I feared, opening a new can of worms. Hopefully, there will be no arguments from quarters adding to the complexity of what I thought was rather a straightforward issue. But I reckon that this is where any form of alignment is going to result in tangential trajectory than convergence.
    Emotions must not be set in motion.

  50. Sujato, thanks for your thoughtful and insightful reply. I strongly agree with your analysis of the ( non violent ) aspects of Anarchism and its relevance to the lay and ordained Buddhist community. I am so glad to see Monks at last making reference to wider societal , historical and ethical discourse when they feel it’s relevant to do so.

    Regarding ‘pacifist and community oriented’ Anarchism, I consider that Tolstoy was one of it’s most impressive exponents. Tolstoy’s “Esarhaddon, King of Assyria” is to me, very reminiscent of Buddhist philosophy and ethics and had significant effect on my belief in following a Buddhist path, and on a practical level, encourages me further to see vegetarianism as the right choice for an ethical/spiritual life, though I don’t find being vegetarian easy. Is your Monastery vegetarian? ( I know the early Theravada Suttas don’t emphasise that.)

    Regarding Wilber, whilst it might take some convincing for me to ‘trust’ his motivations, I do understand what you see in Wilber, and regarding his ‘commerciality’ , then yes, you are right of course — everyone has to make a living, and functioning and operating as we do in an ‘exchange market place,’ then it should not be surprising that many of us have to conform to the ‘inner logic’ of that market place, even if that means reproducing ones alienation, or reifying ideals and relationships in ways which are not always in keeping with the Dhamma. You mention that Wilber writes on narcissism in the spiritual life — can you direct me to any of his talks on that point? Thanks. I am interested in his take on it.

    I am very interested indeed too, in reading more about your views the psychological aspects of Buddhism,in particular concerning narcissism within the Sangha and the lay community too. I read your earlier articles on it with great interest, and I see that Shravasti Dhammika has linked to it and others of your groundbreaking talks on his Buddhist Blog too.

    I’d be very interested to read your further thoughts on the ‘narcissism/projections’ issues. For my part as a layman, I have seen lay people get very wrapped up in solipsistic narcissism and projection onto Monks, which may well have some significant and meaningful value in that they are modelling their behaviour on the Sila and insights of others who have already found their footing, but that ‘narcissistic projection’ is ( in my view ) not always healthy . Practitioners , with the best of intentions, and whilst really practising energetically — can unwittingly end up covering up their own immaturity and illusion under a whole blanket of image making, which may appear ‘spiritual’ and full of ‘pure intention’ — but may actually be dysfunctional, a chimera covering up all kinds of personality disorders and unhappiness that could, or should, be resolved in other ways.

    I’d say it’s far more common than many of us think. Have you read Spiro on the point of narcissism that is psychologically concealed under atavistic orthodoxy in the Burmese Sangha ? Here’s the Google Books link.

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=x3k3Sr56lIQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Buddhism+and+Society&hl=ko&cd=1#v=onepage&q=narcissism&f=false

    and here —

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=x3k3Sr56lIQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Buddhism+and+Society&hl=ko&cd=1#v=snippet&q=narcissistic&f=false

    Anway, thanks for your time — if you have any time ( I know you are very busy ) I’d be interested in your views.

    Greg.

    PS Thanks for the tip on the Google book, “The origins and history of consciousness” — I look forward to reading it. Have you read Mircea Eliade on similar points and related areas ?

    • Hi Greg,
      This has struck a chord with me. I look forward to further elaborations. It is very important to go beyond the immediate experience and understand what is happening to us psychologically in these relationships. I believe we are very delicately connected to our Sangha at a psychic level (havent found the right words yet) and this is a major factor at the moment in my withdrawing from all of it. Before I re-engage, I wish to have a deeper understanding of some of these psychological filaments. Before, I simply trusted.
      But I realize now the matter requires considered investigation. I have been searching for a community to spend long retreats with. I do not need to find the perfect community nor do I wish to spend my whole life searching. But I do need a deeper understanding in some of the areas you have raised. After all that has transpired, I had better have a good understanding of what I am getting into…

    • Lisa, thanks for your reply, and I do agree with all your points,in particular, that we have to look carefully at our psychological mind states and try to understand or uncover our deep motivations,hopes and expectations when practising Dhamma.

      I think it’s true to say that many of us arrive at Dhamma not only out of a strong desire for wisdom and insight, but also because we are suffering in some way, and are looking for a way out of unhappiness. In that case, it’s sometimes difficult for us to know if our Dhamma practice is actually confronting that suffering, understanding it,resolving and dissolving it — or,conversely, with all best intentions — actually covering it up and avoiding it.

      It’s not always easy to see.

      Ajahn Sujato has written some good article on these very points here on the blog, one of them under the heading of misogyny in the Sangha, and another on narcissism and projection in the Sangha, lay and ordained, both of which offer much food for thought I think.

      Greg.

    • PS Lisa, just to add, I would also say that some Dhamma discourse/Dhamma desanas actually use a kind of coded therapy, or ‘psychology speak’ dressed up in ‘Dhamma’ externals. Some of it seems to me to actually be counselling for a troubled audience.

      I am not implying there is something consciously ‘dishonest’ in that — far from it. On the contrary, I think a lot of it is well intentioned, and a good attempt to tackle psychological pain.

      However, there can be a danger that Dhamma in that counselling guise, or ‘pop psychology’ form, whilst well meant, can actually act as a ‘palliative’, an avoidance of the real underlying problems, which in some cases, perhaps might be better helped and addressed by other means.

      Sujato has written critically about these points very well I think.

      Greg.

  51. aah-haa :This was what I feared; opening a new can of worms. Hopefully, there will be no arguments from quarters adding to the complexity of what I thought was rather a straightforward issue. But I reckon that this is where any form of alignment is going to result in tangential trajectory rather than convergence.Emotions must not be set in motion.

    My understanding of your straightforward issue: AB kicked out of a group. This is what happens in groups (regardless of whether its right or wrong) when one party doesn’t want to follow the general group policy. We should all just accept this and move.

    Is this what you are essentially saying?

    May I ask, respectfully and sincerely, what is your purpose/goal in making this sort of statement (assuming I’ve understood you correctly) and what would you like to see happen now?

    Thank you for the reply.

  52. Somehow, I have difficulty placing my reply at the right place, so repeat again.
    Kanchana,
    I would reiterate this way if I had not said more clearly or essentially:
    WPP/Thai Sangha has a view and belief, and upholds the ruling made. Whether these view/belief/ruling are right, acceptable, legal, constitutional or not is one camp of opinions while the WPP/Thai Sangha has theirs.
    Similarly, BM/Australian Sangha has its view and belief, and upholds certain convention. Again, whether these are acceptable or not is one camp of opinions vs another.
    Observation: WPP/Thai Sangha considered Ajahn Brahm and BM as part of them – the ‘Group’. Whether the Group has control or not and whether BM is autonomous or not, and whether Thai law is extra-territorial or not, were not what the Group was thinking and considering. If these were what they considered, then it is obvious that ‘divorce’ has no meaning and an exercise in futility.
    The divorce action is clearly an indication that AB and BM were considered part of the wider community of associated WPP monks and monasteries. There need not be any expressed statement or contract on this if all along there was implicit understanding and acceptance. As such, the independence of monks, autonomy of monasteries, extra-territorial jurisdiction, and even the Vinaya should not be brought up at all.
    Remember that not so long ago, marriage is an association without any form of legality, documentation, registry, or pre-nuptial agreement.
    If AB and BM did not consider themselves as part of the Group, they should have said so, objected to, leave and not even think of hosting the WAM in Perth.
    To me, WPP’s action – divorce or ‘ex-communication’ [was this what WPP said?], was an appropriate one. It is the parting of ways because each way is no longer the same and it does not make sense to get into each other’s way. Which means AB and BM can do what they liked.
    Everything else said by any Sangha, any lay, any Buddhist society or bystander, to me, is crap for the fodder than food for thought. Do not confuse after-thoughts, emotive reactions and misguided comments to be part of the issue. This is the purpose of my statement.
    What would I like to see happening from now? Not so much as I liked but what I see as going forward: a minor schism has taken place and it will take time to mend the rift. A divorce does not mean no more communication or reaching the middle ground. If there still exists a fragile thread linking the two, it would not help if tensions are build up on both ends by partisan parties.

    • Okay, that’s fair enough. I see your point.

      I’m still very grateful to some of the ‘crap for the fodder’ as you called it.🙂

      Some of the new information I have now as a result of this ‘crap’🙂 has been helpful to me in my life, my practise and in coming to a greater sense of personal peace and compassion about what has happened.

      To try and keep emotive reactions or to invalidate someone’s comments doesn’t seem very kind or thougtful; these are part of our human-ness, our natural weaknesses. To try and stopper them, control them, stamp them out is not seeing how the consequences of this divorce has affected many other living beings and as I see it, is not the best way to handle these human weaknesses. Negative reactions are best handled with love and gentleness. I’m certainly no expert, but every now and then I’m reminded of this aspect of Buddhism. I am sure I perceived some of your earlier comments as being negative (I’m not saying they are, just that I perceived them that way) and I want to say I am very sorry for not having handled these perceptions of mine with enough love and gentleness.

      We have been trying to make personal sense of this split. I am assuming that your very valid and sensible point is also a way for you to make sense of and deal with the split. I am very grateful for the range of voices and the space to hear them; including yours. Thankyou for bringing your voice to this forum. My apologies if I have caused offense or have misunderstood you and indeed I think now I do see your point and I am grateful you have made it; for what it’s worth, I think the point you make is very important and must become an aspect of the journey to healing for us all; but with respect (and perhaps we may have to agree to disagree🙂 ) i don’t think it is the only aspect of the healing journey that has validity. Some of us may still need to talk things through, may be not now, may be later but there has to be a chance for people to be able to talk if they need to.

      I also feel that when falsehoods have been told, intentionally or unintentionally, then it becomes very very important to try and find out the truth and make it known. Even if it is just ‘our’ subjective truth, it is still valid if we are to be seen as human and worthwhile. And somethings are objective, such as the fact that Bodhinyana was never offered to Ajahn Chah and that it belongs to the Buddhist Society of WA. There are other such facts that are objective truths which need to be made known when it is the skillful and beneficial thing to do; for instance if the BSWA presidents hadn’t written the above letter to the Thai community in Perth, perhaps some would have believed some of the falsehoods that were circulating and have created bad kamma for themselves through their ignorance of the facts. As a result, a place of good people (who keep the precepts and practise dana and metta) might have faded from the world and that would be a loss to all beings.

      I hope that all that is good (and I believe there is so much of it) in both camps will find each other and help each other again. All the best to you Ahh-haa.🙂 Much metta.

  53. Dear Ajahn Sujato and my elder brothers and sisters in Buddhism,

    From several weeks now, I have been following Ajahn’s blog with the greatest interest but had dared not comment on any matter. Actually, it’s from a reluctance of saying something wrong or silly in front of all of you who are so learned in Buddhism. I am just someone who follows my wife to the Buddhist Hermitage Lunas in Malaysia every few weeks.

    I am still very reluctant to say anything more than this as an introduction, but I would very much like to bring your attention to this news report that appeared online today: http://themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/world/50255-french-court-hands-nice-cathedral-to-russia

    Of course, the news report has nothing to do with Buddhism and I may just be an alarmist, but I really hope that nobody in Thailand gets any idea from it.

    Thank you very much for reading this. With the warmest metta….

    • Dear SS Quah

      Understand that Malaysian theravada Buddhists are big fans of Ajahn Brham. I guess if Ajahn Brahm was not from the Ajahn Chah lineage, don’t think AB would be so popular there, as they respected Ajahn Chah’s down to earth teachings (most Malaysians knew Ajahn Chah as they have good relation with most of the Ajahn Chah’s forest disciples and hold very high regard and respect for any of Ajahn Chah’s disciple including AB.

      The one decision by AB to go against the lineage’s rules hurt the sangha of WPP. Made to believe that the consensus for expelling AB was not only made by the Thai Elders but also the West Elders comprising of about 150 monks without any objection indicated the justification (although saddened by it as it was most unfortunate).

      AB got his popularity because of the late Ajahn Chah. If the late Ajahn Chah was still alive, don’t think AB would consent to the ordination.AB should not have gone against the wishes of the Thai theravada Sangha and should at least had the courtesy to refer or get the advice of his Preceptor Luang Por. This issue had inadvertently split the lay devotees, as some were in favour and the rest were not.There is now 2 camps in the theravada tradition over the ordination. Wonder how these Bhikkhunis feel for causing such split? Proud or remorse?

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