A little while ago i posted the new article called ‘The Time Has Come’, by several former siladharas. As always, articles on bhikkhuni ordination evoke the most comments and response on this blog. We were delighted to have a post by Ajahn Brahm, which, as one of our commenters mentioned, was in danger of being buried beneath the weight of the comment thread. So i’ve lifted that comment and re-posted it here.
The discussion on these matters can get a little intense, so if I could ask you to read the ‘About‘ page, which has guidelines for posting, before making comments.
“What would it look like to relocate the ‘problem’ of bhikkhuni ordination and gender equity within Buddhism to where it really belongs? … with those who fear women’s full participation”
Having read the comments in this thread with interest, as I am inextricably involved, I think they have drifted away from the main thrust of the Buddhadharma magazine article as expressed in the quote above. That is, for too long Ajahn Sujato, myself and the participating Bhikkhunis, have been asked to justify our actions in facilitating the Perth Bhikkhuni ordinations.
Now it is the time for those Western monks, and Thai monks who either live in the West or regularly travel there, to either show their support for Bhikkhuni ordination in the West,or justify their opposition to it.
Ajahn Sumedho is leaving Amaravati at the end of this year, so is the Thai monk Ven Pannyasaro who, I was told, drafted the notorious Five Points. Ajahn Amaro, currently at Abhayagiri Monastery in California, is to take over leadership of the Amaravati group. It seems appropriate that he makes his position on Bhikkhuni ordination clear, in plain English not in Amaravati-speak, to the supporters of his future monastery. Other influential monks such as Ajahn Vajiro of Amaravati, Ajahn Nyanadhammo in Thailand, Ajahn Pasanno of Abhayagiri, the Thai monk Ajahn Preecha in Italy, Ajahn Tiradhammo in New Zealand, the Thai monk Ajahn Anan who visits the West regularly, they should also be pressed by their lay supporters to publicly explain their position, not as a group but as individuals. If they have nothing to be ashamed of, they should have no fear in articulating their position in public clearly and independently. I ask this because I understand that straightforward honesty, not deafening silence, is necessary for moving forward on this painful issue.
Unfortunately, I do not have the power to compel these good monks to explain whatever position they hold on Bhikkhuni ordination, or to question them on why they refused my genuine offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. But you, the lay people who feed these monks and provide the funds that support their other needs, do have that power. Maybe it is the time to exercise that power.
It is now the time, as a result of The Buddhadharma magazine’s article, for them to personally explain themselves to the Buddhist world.
With Mega Metta, Ajahn Brahm.
294 thoughts on “Ajahn Brahm’s response to ‘The Time Has Come’”
Saddhu Ajahn Brahm.
I remember when I called my long-term friend Ajahn Chandako soon after the Bhikkhuni Ordination (actually to tell him that I had decided to train at Santi – which was awkward, but we inevitably talked about Bhikkhuni’s too). Anyway I thanked Ajahn Chandako for actually speaking for the opposition, I couldn’t agree with him, but I certainly respected him for sharing his perspective and felt it was a well-needed thing to do.
Here’s hoping that there will be more Ajahn’s willing to speak up, and less ignoble silence on this issue.
The best solution to end this “quarrel or feud” is to ignore the party that is babbling and the other party to observe noble silent.So, no additional “fuel” to make the “fire” becomes fiercer.
What exactly does Ajahn Brahm want now??? Hasn’t he have caused enough trouble to the rest of the Sangha? He had already achieved his goal with his 4-fully ordained female monks (Bhikkhunis) and no one was disturbing him from doing what he liked or prevented him from traveling wherever he wanted and he had in the process accumulated many followers & fans around the world. What more does he want from other Sangha? Does he want to control everybody and everything or be a Modern-age Buddha?
He is now asking the lay people to rebel those poor Western monks who were against his Bhikkhuni ordination by not providing them almsfood and funds, to compel them to bow down to his “views”.
I think that was very selfish and self-centred. He seems to have no consideration for his other fellow Western monks who like him before, are still training as monks or are resident monks in Thailand, in particular those in Wat NaNa Chat (Ajahn Chah’s western monks monastery in NE Thailand).
I would like to suggest a new post for Ajahn Brahm. Since he is ambitious and likes to talk (a good orator & a good salesperson) and cannot be still and silent, he will make a good politician in Australia.
His passion is to talk, marketing himself and his “product”, luring crowds, championing rights and equality, reform and change rules & policies etc, so it is very suitable for him to be a politician (he will make a good politician in Australia), and not a monk (my sincere advice and sorry for that comment as it is my personal view and observation).
Please stop disturbing others and peace in Buddhism.- Be peaceful.
Ajahn Brahm has merely responded compassionately to the pain and outrage felt amongst the lay people.
This is what the LAY men and women want!
Please stop with this scapegoating and blaming, it is not the reality of the situation. Ajahn Brahm is a holy man, not a politician.
It the Lay member all over the world who wish for gender equality and we can choose whatever Sangha we wish to follow and support. We will make a choice whether we will support Sangha’s that discriminate against women. I think you will find that many will choose to walk away and find their inspiration elsewhere.
The Buddha should have said the same thing to all those women who came to him and wanted to be ordained. I bet the Buddha caused so much disharmony, upheaval and stirred up peoples’ emotions and disturbed their ‘holy peace’ by letting women ordained at a time when such an action would have been unthinkable and incomprehensible.
It is time that people come out of their samadhi and other blissful and peaceful states of mind and show some compassion towards half the humanity who is being told to ‘put up or shut up’.
Wow- who are you La-Sila? your words sound very familiar. I have a feeling when the man ‘Maria the freak’ left the forum because of his uncivil speech, La-Sila enters the bloging.
Perhaps it is the same person.
Your views are upright nutty and not based on the Dhamma.
Basically, you don’t know what you are talking about and shouldn’t speak based on such delusion.
I am shuddering at the bad kamma you have made in writing in this way about someone you have clearly never met in person and whom you have clearly never done a retreat with…
What ever I have said/written about other monks in this affair, I hope i have tried to be very careful about NOT making personal attacks.
I am especially frightened for you because you have (I hope it is through ignorance and not deliberate because that i think makes it worse) spread some horrible lies about Ajahn’s intentions, actions and character.
Furthermore, you have neglected to carefully read Ajahn Brahm’s statements.
It does not suggest the horrible act of not feeding anyone.
That you think Ajahn Brahm would ever ask another to harm anyone in this way shows you do not know him at all.
It is horrible, the kamma you have made.
I am sorry, i disagree with you, you quote *he will make a good politician in Australia.*
With due respect to AB, if he is a politician, he will want to change everything. At it is now as a monk, he already wants to change Buddhism,and comments on other religions in their traditions and practices (seen as meaningless rituals or non-scientific rituals).
Imo, he will make a very good scientist or physic expert, as he needs scientific proof to everything before he says Yikes, that is the Truth as science proved it. No proof, no Truth in it – that is his policy.
The above is my undivided comment only, not to be contrued or taken to be conclusive.
The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now,
I would be most interested to hear a clear statement of support or otherwise for Bhikkuni ordination from the other Western Ajahns. Who will have the courage to do so?
So far I count Bhikkhu Bodhi (although critical of ABs “lack of consultation”), Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato as clearly for ordination. I count Ajahn Sumedho, Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Ajahn Chandako as clearly against. I have heard rumours about others but no clear statement.
I personally feel unable to support monastics who thinkl it is acceptable to deny the full ordination and best chance for Nibbana to half the human population.
Thanks Anagarika Blake for your comments. Good choice on going to Santi!
New Zealand has always been a very progressive country where social equality and justice is concerned, for example, it gave women the rght to vote in 1919.
It appears quite apparent that Ajahn Chandako (an American I think?) has not adapted to the local culture by not being a proponent for Bhikkhuni ordination.
I would think New Zealanders who are lay men/womnen there would find this stance quite offensive and against everything that New Zealand stands for.
I will be writing letters to the Vihara’s there. I encourage other New Zealanders to do the same.
of course both you and Ajahn Brahm have been caught in the middle of this dispute over bhikkhuni ordination and imo “villainised” (does this word exist in English?!) unjustly.
So I do understand you speaking out and demanding answers from those who either stand against you or seemingly by the side.
Please be assured if my continuous support as a laywoman on this matter and my deep appreciation of your faithfulness on this matter.
However, may I kindly point out that silence actually IS an answer – an answer that speaks loudly – and for me clearly – for itself! It might not be the answer we hoped for. But then, I am drawing this conclusion purely based on my personal observations about people, in general, in that actions speak louder than words.
Yet I do not know those monks in person whereas you do, so I hope that you personal knowledge and conviction will lead to a more promising outcome of your appeal, than I would expect.
Thank you for remaining faithful in the face of injustice.
with metta and deep respect,
I fully agree with Ace’s comment…in fact, I too can hear ‘THE SOUND OF SILENCE’ 🙂
Yes, silence is an answer….perhaps there is also wisdom in silence..
I feel discomfort with the overall tone of the recent postings. Yes, gender equality renders passion and conviction, but dipolomacy, receptivity, and respect to those who hold different opinions is of utmost importance in affecting change.
While I support ordination, I am slowly releasing my attatched views, so that I can look at both sides without personalization and with greater clarity.
Wise words indeed A.Natta.
I, for one, am guilty for passionately fighting for gender equality in Buddhism and at times have spoken harshly in my tone, obviously offending others who do not share my view. This only serves to evoke venomous responses to those i admire and respect. It seems to me and others they have been unfairly villianised, just for doing what they believed was the right thing.
Perhaps we all have to take a deep breath and just agree to disagree?
Obviously cultural differences are at play here too.
Perhaps those of us who do support Bhikkuni ordination could provide support and encouragment for those women who have already gone forth. In doing so, the spread of female Bhikkunis everywhere will just naturally evolve organically on their own.
With Metta, A.Natta.
With metta, Anne.
Yes, let us not put our venerable teachers, elders and those who hold “high” positions on public trial.
Perceptions, feelings and layers of superimposing our personal beliefs, can easily cloud our judgements.
If we are to create dialogue, let us consider our audience and cultural approaches to communication. From an eastern perspective, blunt and to the point is considered rude and disrespectful, often taken on by personal shame–not very inviting to mutual communication.
The Tao Te Ching states that “softness overcomes hardness”. May we all soften in our attachments to our points of view.
Thanks for the advice Ajahn. How do you suggest we deal with the pain this issue causes us from an emotional and spiritual perspective?
Sorry, I meant A.Natta.
Rest assured I am not an Ajahn, but a mere simpleton. Thus, I have a simple answer to your question below about dealing with the pain…
Cultivate and sustain deep, abiding self compassion which will naturally extend to others.
Wishing you well,
Ajahn Brahm’s quotes:
“Unfortunately, I do not have the power to compel these good monks to explain whatever position they hold on Bhikkhuni ordination, or to question them on why they refused my genuine offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. But you, the lay people who feed these monks and provide the funds that support their other needs, do have that power. Maybe it is the time to exercise that power.”
Ajahn, are you asking the lay people to be your front line in this confrontation with other Sangha? Are you threatening others to get what you want?
Ajahn Brahm, you sound like a rebel leader?
Don’t you think you are being a tad dramatic? Seriously, your accusation is laughable. Thanks for the giggle. 🙂
Right on Anne, I honestly thought La-sila might be the man Maria again!
La-sila, you must read what is said and not what you want to read:)
Ajahn is supporting and encouraging us to question the monks we support. That it is our right to ask these questions and we shouldn’t feel afraid.
Dania & others
Sorry to chip in and intrude.
Why must AB involve you guys, why can’t he and his Perth Sangha members do it? This is Sangha matters on Vinaya and they are contract-bound by 227 Rules for Monks or 331 Rules for Nuns.
From my understanding, all decisions and efforts to be executed by monks/nuns should be collectively and severally agreed upon and not individually.
For me, Monks and Nuns are in training themselves to discard or shed “Self”, so they have to battle with their identity view of “I”, Mine, Myself”. They will be regarded “defeated” if they still have this individuality or personality or identity.
They are merge into one unit i.e the Sangha and they represent one Buddha-Sasana whose core responsibility is to propagate & prolong Buddha’s Teachings.
You seem to be suggesting that Ajahn Brahm has been instigating us to militate and forment troubles. Let me assure you that the agent provocateur is not Ajahn Brahm or his disciples, but the Blessed One himself. In the words of the Buddha –
“I shall not come to my final passing away, Evil One, until my bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen, have come to be true disciples — wise, well disciplined, apt and learned, preservers of the Dhamma, living according to the Dhamma, abiding by appropriate conduct and, having learned the Master’s word, are able to expound it, preach it, proclaim it, establish it, reveal it, explain it in detail, and make it clear; until, when adverse opinions arise, they shall be able to refute them thoroughly and well, and to preach this convincing and liberating Dhamma.”
Mahaparinibbana Sutta, DN 16.
The Buddha’s hope and vision was the 4-fold parisa was that it be whole. The laity’s function was not to feed and medicate monks, but to practise and to defend the Dhamma.
I may not have Citta Gahapati’s sekkha patisambhidananas, but I know the Buddha praised this lay-person who could teach monks for a good reason. Citta is an ideal that layfolk can aspire to, and I will certainly try to live up to the Buddha’s hope for a lay Buddhist.
And let’s not forget that lay-people were not uneducated and blind to the Vinaya. Think of how Ven Yasa educated the laity of Rajagaha on a Vinaya issue – Cv III p386 (12th Khandhaka)
Just an observation about your assertion on “defeated” monks. I trust you are not referring to “defeated” in the technical Vinaya sense of a Parajika.
If you did, that must mean that Ven Ananda was “defeated” all those years before his head hit the pillow. Likewise for Ven Sariputta in his 14 day interlude between his ordination and his vimutti. The list goes on and on.
I am assuming that you are a Buddhist who is just as concern about the state of Buddhism as anyone else here. Personally, I have a hard time living with the fact that discriminative treatment is happening right inside of the Buddha’s roof ( monastery). Or that people are closing the door to laywomen from entering fully into the path. This is a serious issue when it comes to a religion that teaches about a transcendental reality beyond form.
I believe many people are not satisfied with the justification that some monastics give for continuing in this fashion. The Buddha only stated that you need a bhikkhuni of 10 vassa to be at the ceremony for the dual ordination. He doesn’t specify that a Theravedan Bhikkhuni is required in order to carry out a Bhikkhuni ordination. That comes from the monks themselves.
The Mahayana Bhikkhunis first received their ordination through the single- ordination . Later on they found out that there are Bhikkhuni’s available in Sri-Lanka. So they asked the Theravedan Bhikkhunis to come and have an dual-ordination. They still get to remain as Mahayana , because the Mahayana Bhikkhus acted as their preceptor at the ceremony.
It only make sense that when there are no more Theravedan Bhikkhunis available, we should go with the Original single-ordination method, or invite bhikkhunis from other parts of the world.
I feel that some monks are being unnecessarily picky. Usually, you would just let them do what they want. But this is effecting the spiritual lives of so many aspiring women from the laywomen part of the sangha, as well as detrimental to the Bhikkhuni sangha. That is half of the Fourfold sangha already. If their action only effect their spiritual lives, no one would dare to interfere.
This is against the spirit of the Dhamma. How can the laymen and laywomen continue to respect and support this kind of practice. That is why we want to communicate with them about our concerns. I believe many people really want to support the sangha that the Buddha established. But at the same time, we need the monastics to truly embodies the dharma , not just in theory but also in practice. You can’t teach people one thing, and do something that totally contradicts that concept/ theory. At the same time, expecting people to remain devoted.
Some suggested that we leave this to the monastic sangha. And the monastic sangha specifically said that this is just politics ( after they made it into a big issue), they don’t want to involve themselves. So how is this issue ever going to get resolve ?
The sangha is Fourfold like one table with four legs. How can it stand firmly rooted if one leg gets severed ( Bhikkhuni Sangha), two legs ( laymen & laywomen) are greatly weakened from not encouraging them to study the dharma or practice. That’s three legs already. Where do the Bhikkhu sangha come from, the laymen population. If laymen are not well prepared in the dhamma, how can we even expect the remaining Bhikkhu sangha to be strong. The way I see it, the set up is pretty lopsided, and it is not at all the way the Buddha had intended. Because we care about the Dhamma that is why we are addressing these issues. Please relax Yoh. We just want to have a healthy Fourfold sangha, not an empty shell that is beautiful to look at on the outside, but hollow inside.
Beautifully explained, iMeditation.
I appreciate your explanation. Please do not misinterpret me. I did not say i opposed Bhikkhuni ordination.
To me, there is a distinction between Bhikkhu Sangha and four-fold assembly.An assembly is a gathering or audience of, and not necessarily means the establishment of Sangha.
I have also heard from a CD talk by a long standing Theravada monk who is an expert in the original Suttas that mentioned Buddha only established the Bhikkhu Sangha.
My understanding is, Of course Buddha also could not stop those women like Gotami who wanted to go forth (Buddha also cannot obstruct her kamma despite 3 times earlier objection by Buddha)and to form their own Bhikkhuni Sangha, but Buddha advised Gotami to pledge the lifetime 8 rules.
With this birth of the first Bhikkhunis, the four-fold assembly came into existence. To me the Bhikkhuni Sangha was not initially established by Buddha but by Gotami.Buddha graciously embraced the Bhikkhunis into his Bhikkhu Sangha.So, there is one Bhikkhu Sangha with 4-fold assembly. Correct me if i am wrong.
To substantiate my interpretation, here is another source:-
I found this article in Theravada blog and wish to share it with you (with open mind and heart).
(Below is the link)Introduction:
“This general introduction briefly explains the history of the Novice Ordination (pabbajjá or `going forth’), the Higher Ordination ( upasampadá) and the functions of a novice (sámanera) and a monk (bhikkhu), in Theraváda Buddhism.
The article that follows gives a graphic account of a Higher Ordination ceremony as witnessed by Mr. J. F. Dickson at Malwatta monastery, Kandy, Sri Lanka, in 1872. A few shortcomings and errors in the essay have been corrected.”
“The followers of the Buddha are four-fold: monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen (bhikkhu, bhikkhunì, upásaka, upásiká). The Bhikkhunì Sásana or the Order of the Nuns has ceased to exist, and in the absence of a Buddha and the bhikkhunis the Order cannot be resuscitated. Today, however, we are left with the Bhikkhu Order and the laity.”
Thank you. With Peace
Yoh wrote: “I appreciate your explanation. Please do not misinterpret me. I did not say i opposed Bhikkhuni ordination.”
Sorry, but I wasn’t refering to you at all above. I was actually refering to the monks who oppose Bhikkhuni ordination.
Yoh wrote:” Buddha only established the Bhikkhu Sangha.”
Sorry, I have to disagree on this.
Yoh wrote: “My understanding is, Of course Buddha also could not stop those women like Gotami who wanted to go forth (Buddha also cannot obstruct her kamma despite 3 times earlier objection by Buddha)and to form their own Bhikkhuni Sangha, but Buddha advised Gotami to pledge the lifetime 8 rules.”
Your premise is based on a story that some would consider a myth. The reasons have been discussed multiple times on this blog. Of course, you free to ignore these questionable aspects if you choose.
I guess we are all entitled to choose for ourselves, as long as it doesn’t obstruct other peoples spiritual path.
It’s also a serious issue when it comes to the Buddhadhamma.
la sila its really sad that such unwarranted and absurd comments are made about a monk who is loved and venerated by millions across the globe. Infact with the level of wisdom he has acted on this issue if we can even use a pint of that in our daily life a lot benefit we can derive for ourselves. please think and know more abt the venerable master before you speak or write anything about him.
I must say that except for Ajahn Chandako I do not know of any other monk, nun or layperson who had the courage to support the view opposing Bhikkhuni Ordinations – my apologies to anyone I would have missed. All the others chose to hide behind the organisation labels such as ‘Monks of Wat Pah Phong’, ‘Forest Sangha, ‘True Dhamma’ etc. Those who have seen the movie ‘The Corporation’ will note the striking similarity where modern corporations can do most unethical things because no one can pin point on who is actually responsible for such actions.
As I mentioned some time ago, I do not think there will be too many Buddhists who will not respect those who have different views although they may not agree with the opposing view. By hiding behind organisation titles and labels, unfortunately, the only outcome was that the proponents of ‘No Bhikkhunis’ just lost respect of the lay community. But the good news is that it is still not too late to come out openly and state one’s personal view on this matter.
I actually think Ajahn Chandako, despite his public letter when all this started, privately supports Bhikkuni ordination. Just not in his temple perhaps.
Ajahn Chandako’s organisation’s (it looks like a lovely group) website had the following email address:
Perhaps it is worth questioning him directly about why he isn’t more open about his support and what he thinks will happen if he is more open about it.
He seems to be a very sincere monk with good intentions.
But i wonder if perhaps in not wishing to go public he is playing into the politics of those who oppose Bhikkuni ordination because they fear women; those who keep their faces and identities hidden even from him.
Vimutti, recently i believe, became a branch monastary of WPP and my recent browse of their website showed many pictures of Thai elders; the attachment and respect for lineage and tradition are very evident.
I just want to add (especially for the information of any one that is close enough to ask face-to-face questions) that there have been serious misunderstandings between this good monk and Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahm. In our attempts to question these good monks we may find we are go betweens, bringers of reconciliation, creators of harmony.
Hi Kancana and all, yeah maybe Ajahn Chandako supports bhikkhunis since he led the first “bhikkhuni sangha training retreat”.
But of course, it would be good to hear him express his feeling about this openly and honestly
The place to go to send an email to Abhayagiri Monastary. This page also has the address.
This is where Ajahns Amaro (future Amaravati Abbot) and Pasanno reside.
May those of you in the US use the phone!
May those of you in California (I’m thinking of you Californian!!!) go and ask directly!
This is an extract of the letter i wrote; i asked:
1. Do you, not your organisations or affiliated bodies, but you personally, support Bhikkuni ordination?
2. If not I respectfully ask you to state your objections to me.
3. If you do support Bhikkuni ordination, when will you publicly state this?
4. If you do support Bhikkuni ordination and you do not wish to make your support public, I ask you, what are your reasons for this?
(In my country our Prime Minister made a powerful public apology to the Aboriginal community. It was symbolic. But we all felt the power of it, the healing of it. It was the PUBLIC, formal nature of this act that made it so important; it meant we all shared in it’s power to heal; it meant everyone was included in the acknowledgement of what was happening; it meant validation and legitimisation.)
5. Did you refuse Ajahn Brahm’s offer of forgiveness and reconciliation?
6. If so on what grounds?
7. Does such a refusal have any basis in the Buddha’s Teaching?
8. …When will you show the international Buddhist Community what Forgiveness, Open Hearted Appamana Metta looks like in Practise? Will this happen soon? Respectfully and humbly I ask again, when?
9. Publicly, fearlessly living up to the name of your Monastary, how will you show the international community what courageous faith in the Buddha Dhamma looks like as opposed to faith in a tradition.
I ask these questions as a concerned member of the Buddhist religion.
My questions are blunt but they are genuine, sincere. I am an honest person with real faith. I love Buddhism, it has saved my life. Please answer my questions even though they may be challenging. Please don’t ignore me. I am waiting for your honest and clear response.
I think it best for each of us to use our own words. Since I am asking for an individual (independent of organisations) explanation, I am trying not to use a stock standard letter for everyone i write to.
I just thought i’d share this first letter (or rather this extract) just in case it inspires anyone else!
Unfortunately when i tried to submit the above mentioned letter i was met with the following:
You are not authorized to perform this action
So I’ve copied it into my wordprocessing software and i’ll send it the old fashioned way!!
I hope i am not ignored.
it’s a good letter Kancana! I support you. We know that it feels right in our heart if more of the leaders publicly announce their support. It would warm and soften people’s heart and surely bring huge smiles on people’s faces. It’s the right thing to do. Thank you for starting this process.
As I wrote in another thread, the Thai monk that I asked about bhukkhuni ordinations cited the ‘vinaya’, which states that a more-than-10-vassa bhikkhuni is needed as an Upajaya but the Theravad’s bhikkhuni lineage extinct several hundred years ago as reasons for his opposition to Theravadin bhikkhuni ordinations. Of course, he doesn’t approve using Mahayana bhikkhunis as Upajaya. This monk is a rather senior monk at Pra Brahmakunabhorn’s, a most respected scholar monk in Thailand, monastery.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but I’m afraid that this is going to be a stock answer for most monks.
I remember listening to Ajahn Sumedho’s talk not long after the bhikkhuni ordination where he said he felt sad that he was misunderstood.
Could we misunderstand him, or we simply don’t understand him? After all, no one can imagine what kind of pressure other people are under.
I’m going to England in July for a few days. I don’t know if I will have a chance to visit Amaravati or not. If I do, I would like to ask Ajahn Sumedho face to face. Because I have very high regard for him, I care a lot about what he thinks and why he thinks that way.
Perhaps someone in England might have a better chance to kindly ask him?
the stock reply is that the mahayanas follow the same vinaya as the theravada and being ‘mahayana’ or ‘theravada’ is not a question of vinaya and ordination procedures but their personal views. I think the reasoning is something along those lines but I’m no way a vinaya expert. Bhante Sujato talked about this already so I’m surprised it’s being repeated again. if someone has the energy to find Bhante Sujato’s response and copy paste it that would be good.
A monk answered that, a more-than-10-vassa bhikkhuni is needed as an Upajaya but the Theravad’s bhikkhuni lineage extinct several hundred years ago as reasons for his opposition to Theravadin bhikkhuni ordinations. He doesn’t approve using Mahayana bhikkhunis as Upajaya.
I was wondering where in the Vinaya does it say that the Bhikkhuni has to be Theravedan in particular. Besides, isn’t it the case that if a Theravedan Bhikkhu acts as the Upajjhaya at the dual-ordination with Mahayana Bhikkhunis instead of the Mahayana Bhikkhuni acting as the preceptor, then the newly ordained bhikkhunis will follow the tradition of their preceptor/ Upajjhaya (Theravedan).
Besides, the single ordination was never uplifted by the Buddha. If the Buddha didn’t uplift it, then why would any monk want to uplift it:
Ven.Kosila Maha Thera from Thailand pointed out that the development for the bhikkhu ordination started out by the simple ordination by the Buddha (Ehibhikkhu Upasampada), then by receiving the refuge in the Triple Gem (Tisaranagamana) then by the pronouncement of the Sangha (natti catutthakammavaca). On his death bed, the Buddha went back to still give Ehibhikkhu upasampada to Subhadda. This is a proof that when latter requirement of the ordination were added, the Buddha never uplift the previously given allowances.
The fact that the Sri Lankan Theravada bhikkhu Sangha resorted to give ordination to bhikkhunis by single ordination may be taken as valid for this reason.
By single ordination, the newly ordained bhikkhuni sangha can overcome both the objection of nanasamvasa (mixed sangha) and Mahayana lineage.
In the spirit of the Buddha, when the Buddha gave ordination, there was neither Theravada nor Mahayana.
“In the same year 1998, Ven.Sumangalo Maha Thero (Now Maha Nayaka of Dambulla, Syamvamsa) and his sangha appointed two newly ordained bhikkhunis with long standing in monastic life as upajjhayas. He also for the first time in the history of Sri lanka The recorded History of Sri Lanka boasts of 25 chronicled centuries. It begins in the 6th century BC, with North Indian settlers and develops a unique hydraulic civilization, enormous pyramid-like Stupa architecture, within an exceptional culture nourished by Buddhism. and in fact Theravada, arranged for ordination for bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka.
There were some hundred of Sri Lankan monks participating at this history making event. Since then Dambulla has been hosting the ordination for bhikkhunis on a yearly basis. Up to date (2006) there are already 350 bhikkhunis in his lineage, strongest bhikkhuni sangha in Sri Lanka. These bhikkhunis do not stay in one place but rather scattered Scattered throughout the island. However, they come to perform the samghakamma of recitation of patimokkha together twice a month.
Dambulla provides for 3-month training for those who have been selected to receive the annual bhikkhuni ordination. Once ordained they are registered and given ID card. Even after ordination the bhikkhunis are still under the instruction from the chief monk monk: see monasticism. . A point to note also, that both the Maha Nayaka of Malwata and Asgiri, the most senior of the Maha Nayakas of Syamvamsa supported the Dambulla bhikkhuni ordination. Early in 2005 Ven.Sumangalo Maha Thera was given the title of Maha Nayaka. This proved the acceptance from the Syamvamsa sangha.”
Thanks this is perfect.
The stock response that will come from some monks should be met with further comments/questions using the sort of information you have provided.
And i think ending on a question more likely to keep the conversation going rather than ending on a comment. A question invites further exploration of a topic.
And that i think is the whole point…keep the conversation going.
Listening to what others have said/written…it seems that has been too much ignoring/cold shoulders/silence (and not in the sense of good Buddhist silence!!).
The point is not to expect change now or ever…
The point is to start the dialogue and keep it going so that there is, if not agreement, respect and understanding; the basis for possible future friendliness and mutual support.
Dheerayupa, next time a monk tells you that don’t stop there. Keep the conversation going. Maybe after a while you go away, let it be. Maybe another day you go back to that possibly uncomfortable place and ask further questions, have further discussions.
It’s terrifying sometimes to ask these questions, especially with an audience watching, but it’s so worth it…well…it was for me. I remember once, shaking all over, feeling every eye on me but somehow i had to ask. It seemed too important not to. Manys the time I’ve peppered a poor Ajahn with question after nervously uttered question (i still get nervous face to face) despite the fact that i was soaked with embarrassment and anxiety and a sense of being highly self-conscious…now looking back…i’m so glad i did it…i’d be much stupider than i am now if i hadn’t! I love Buddhism!! I wouldn’t love Buddhism as much if i hadn’t asked all those questions.
One thing I’ve learnt from listening to Ajahn Brahm’s talks is that we don’t simply listen to their words but to ‘them’.
Meditators should find this not too difficult. I myself have found out that after meditating for several months, I’ve become more sensitive to the atmosphere around me and what people are feeling without them saying out loud.
I told you about that episode with a sad heart. I respected that monk a lot. It’s always sad to see that those you respect do not live up to your own expectations.
After my gently encouraging him to consider other aspects about bhikkhuni ordinations, I found that his view was set firmly and I’m in no position to convince him otherwise.
In my humble opinion, the only monk whose voice would get most monks to review their opinion is Phra Bhrama Khunabarana (Venerable Bhikkhu P.A. Payutto). Unfortunately, he is ill and recieves few guests. My search on his view on the issue has been unsatisfactory.
Perhaps Bhante Sujato might be able to explain how our view is set and how difficult it is to have it changed.
BTW, I’ve sent you the email addresses you required.
With mega metta,
I think it would be too much to ask of Phra Brahmagunabhorn to throw his weight into the bhikkhuni issue. I was told last Sep that he was already planning to enter a retreat away from his main monastery, so that he could start work on translating the rest of Buddhadhamma into English.
Sad to hear about his indisposition; let alone the bhikkhuni issue, but it’s sure to impede his translation burden as well. I just hope he will be well enough to tackle both; he did give some thoughts about bhikkhuni ordination last year, which if I recall well, were quite supportive.
Phra Bhrama Khunabarana has been ill for the past few years. He is actually retiring and will be officially retiring from his abbotship soon.
Apart from him, I can see no one single monk in Thailand whose words could be received as well as his.
But the bottom line is what his view is. Do you have any info on his view?
As a note for non-Thai readers, the monk that Dheerayupa refers to as “Phra Bhrama Khunabarana” and Sydlvester refers to as “Phra Brahmagunabhorn” is better known in English circles as Phra Payutto. He has received so many changing titles in his monks life, sticking to Payutto is the only way to keep track…
I thought his opposition to bhikkhuni ordination was well known, as stated here; and here he even gets a whole page to himself on Dhammalight!
Actually, it was reading the first article, from the Bangkok Post, when it was originally printed, that got me more interested in bhikkhuni ordination, and disillusioned with Thai Buddhism. Here is the monk who, of all others, is regarded as intelligent, progressive, and educated, and this is all he can come up with? I know that Phra Payutto is well known and liked by Ajahns Pasanno and especially Jayasaro, so there is no doubt his views on bhikkhunis are influential in the Western Sangha. I have spent a little time with him, and he is indeed a very gentle, acute, and virtuous monk. Yet when I read his article it seemed so incoherent and inadequate I could hardly restrain myself from writing in protest to the Bangkok Post. I only thought of what the monks at Wat nanachat would think, and that at the time I was staying in Thailand because they had kindly offered to do my visa for me, so I said nothing. But the experience of feeling that I could not speak Dhamma out of fear of bureaucracy was one of the things that made me decide to leave Thailand.
Oops, my mistake. Phra Brahmagunabhorn’s views were not expressed last year, but in 2001 –
Thanks for the link. If you read carefully this part:
Q: Today we have fewer problems regarding safety and women are enjoying a better status. What do you think should be done to help women who want to devote themselves to an ordained life?
Answer: Our ancestors faced the same question. That is why we have nuns as an alternative. Nunhood was established to answer the need of religious women who want to live their lives in search of spiritual truth when there were no Theravada Bhikkhuni left to ordain them… As for those who are struggling for such status, there is still the alternative of ordination in the Mahayana sect. To be a Bhikkhuni is still possible.
You can see that though he has compassion for women, his view about bhikkhuni ordinations mainly concerns the ‘Therabada rules’.
If he had been asked to explore further the possibilities of establishing Bhikkhuni Sangha in Thailand (such as single ordinations instead of dual ordinations), perhaps the situation might not be as depressing as it is now.
The misconception about not being able to carry out a bhikkhuni ordination ceremony because there are no more Bhikkhuni is something that have been drilled into some people’s mind since birth. It might take a while to unravel/ undo. Despite the fact that some Theraveda countries have seen through this misconception, some still refuse to look at, and acknowledge it. If we don’t communicate and exchange ideas, it is unlikely that people will stop to re-examine their social conditionings or dedicate time into gathering facts before coming to a conclusion. It is more like a knee- jerk reflex that happens automatically due to deeply engraved subconscious patterns. You are right about the for communicating and exchanging ideas.
“The misconception about not being able to carry out a bhikkhuni ordination ceremony because there are no more Bhikkhuni is something that have been drilled into some people’s mind since birth. It might take a while to unravel/ undo. Despite the fact that some Theraveda countries have seen through this misconception, some still refuse to look at, and acknowledge it.”
You have summed up what has been happpening in Thailand so very well indeed!
For eveyone’s information, I did consult Phra Brahmagunabhorn (P.A. Payutto) prior to the Perth Bhikkhuni ordinations. He sent his reply in a letter to me dated September 30, 2009. It gives the Venerable’s latest opinion on Bhikkhuni ordination. I did send the letter to Dhammalight’s website, but it was not published. The relevant part of his response is as follows:
“Eight years ago, in 2001,I was asked some questions on the ordination of Bhikkhunis. It was tape-recorded and later in that year published as a book, the gist of which can be represented by a heading called, (Thai name),(Something like, “What is to be maintained is: Let women gain while not spoiling the Dhamma-Vinaya”) I tend not to speak of, or even to have, an opinion. My position seems to be that the knowledge and the observence of the principles, esp., of the Vinaya rules should be as complete as possible on the one hand, and the matter should be treated with as best Metta and compassion as possible on the other. Decision should be made by the Sangha that is best informed and compassionate.
I deeply appreciate your care for the stability of the Sasana along with the welfare and happiness of all people.
Phra brahmagunabhorn (P. A. Payutto)
It was noteworthy that the esteemed elder included “Metta and compassion” as equally important.
Iam technically unable to post the complete letter on this blog. I will try again later.
With Metta, Ajahn Brahm
Thanks, Ajahn, that’s a terrific update.
Dear Ajahn Brahm,
The letter said ” Decision should be made by the Sangha that is best informed and compassionate.”
No doubt Bhikkhuni ordination doesn’t violate the Vinaya in anyway. And it is an external expression of compassion.
From what I read about the Buddha, he seems to be very flexible, accomodating, compassionate, at the same time reasonable and logical. He is not at all rigid, and dogmatic like we sometime encounter today.
You, the Buddha, as well is his dhamma keep my faith in Buddhism alive Ajahn Brahm. I wish there are more monks like you in the future. But one is good enough for me. I won’t complain. May the Buddha be with you.
I just noticed this bit from Ven Payutto’s letter –
“…Decision should be made by the Sangha that is best informed and compassionate.”
It is so so refreshing that an iconic Thai institution like Ven Payutto can tackle a difficult Thai monastic issue without appealing to “Thai Sangha” or “custom” or “Nikaya” or “lineage”. Instead, his reference to “the Sangha” is nothing less than a genuine resort to that Vinayaic creature – a sangha defined by a siima with a proper quorum.
I hope the elders of WPP will take the hint.
Is it possible that many western monks do not publicly voice their opinion because they fear the same “punishment” from Amaravati? Not all monasteries are self sustaining and still need resources from the mother monastery.
If a Western Abbot from any other branch monastery goes ahead with Bhikkhuni ordination it is pretty likely that they too would get cut off from the Thai Wat Pah Pong Tradition by the Thai hierarchy. I don’t think most abbots would be happy to “suffer” that even if they personally may be fine with Bhikkuhuni Ordination as a disconnection with WPP means the loss of great prestige & great friendship. So this essentially means that WPP can and is remotely controlling what other Abbots do. It is so political isnt’t it?
Ajahns Chandako’s and Amaro’s stance is up on the Internet and that was that they are both pro-Bhikkhuni Ordination but do not agree with the way Ajahn Brahm went about doing it.
At least Ajahn Chandako and Amaro are honest and open about this.
As to how Ajahn Brahm went about doing this… I hope Ajahn Chandako and Ajahn Amaro can display forgiveness and reconciliation as publicly as they can show disapproval. I’d love to see something on the Internet about that.
Good point pj.pilgrim. This is why it is very important for lay members to really put their financial support behind monasteries that publicly support equality and non-discrimination, and steer away from those who don’t.
I was part of the group who got the petition together to send to the WAM meeting back in December. I have an up to date and comprehensive list of contact details of most monks over 10 years standing in the LP Chah lineage. If anyone would like this list then please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to send it to you.
Thank you Rebecca. I will contact you. In particular, I think I will be asking the monks in the Amaravati group of monasteries in the UK on their position.
For those of us who have learned from, lived with, and supported various of these ajahns, this is a painful and unavoidable issue. Since October, I’ve been waiting and weighing, weighing and waiting in vain, hoping they would ‘personally explain themselves to the Buddhist world.’ The petition and the eloquent, heartfelt letters submitted to the WAM requested dialogue with the concerned lay community, but none has been forthcoming. I’ve doubted that anything I could personally add to these efforts would make a difference. But seeing that the offensive against bhikkhunis and supporters of bhikkhunis continues in public and in private, the ‘deafening silence’ is becoming more and more thunderous. When this article goes live in Buddhadharma this week, there will be an opportunity for online discussion. Thanissara wrote: ‘It will go live May 12th – on line debate/ discussion from May 25th – after it is published.’ Let’s hope for (and demand) a genuine response from these ajahns, and let’s participate responsibly and thoughtfully ourselves.
The comments above regarding Aj. Chandako remind me that it’s not such a simple matter to ask or answer whether an ajahn ‘supports bhikkhunis’. We’ve heard several western ajahns state that they ‘support bhikkhuni ordination’ in theory, but in reality they vehemently oppose the Perth ordinations, or they think it’s suitable to consider bhikkhuni ordinations several decades from now, or bhikkhuni ordination is fine so long as it’s not in their own sub-tradition, or it’s perfectly valid, but only in Mahayana, etc. I want to respect that there are complexities to the issue, but also not allow details to be used as a smoke-screen. I think it’s worth revisiting the petition submitted to the WAM meeting (at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bhikkhuni-ordination/) and the official response from the WAM (https://sujato.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/statement-from-the-wam/). We can start by pointing out the inadequacy of this response, particularly the failure to engage in some form of public dialogue.
Or….we can establish our own forums for dialogue…as Thanissara, Cintamani and Jitindriya have done…(and Bhante Sujato, of course) this can be undertaken in myriad ways…in ways that could really benefit everyone in their practice and in the building of a new code of ethics for the Sanghas (in addition to what Anagarika Jason posted a few blogs back- those guidelines established by the Buddha for community – the Vinaya – and the grey areas of ethics and community building that seem to be missing in soooo many Sanghas! Yet the world is chock FULL of social leaders, experiements and innovations we can learn from. Other faiths and faith leaders, other communities, other leaders … our own small elarnings and examples…other Buddhist sanghas …seize the day…conflict can be such a great ground for growing sweeet mangoes! Albeit I seem to have forgotten all of this somewhere between November/December and today…
(Sorry for the endless string of type-os)
I would like to apologise if I have misrepresented or misunderstood Ajahn Chandako’s position on Bikkhuni ordination. If he “privately” supports it that is good. But his public comments do not sound supportive, and I can only really judge by those.
And of course many of the Theravadin monks will say its fine for Bikkhuni’s to ordain in the Mahayana, or even in Australia – but not in Thai Theravada, and not with our beloved Ajahn Chah tradition.
It is not dissimilar to racists who say they are not racist just as long as [insert race of choice] live elsewhere.
haha spot on WTP. I am not a racist but…
I am not against Bhikkhuni ordination but…
I am not a racist but…
I am not against Bhikkhuni ordination but…
That is exactly what I’ve heard during the many debates I’ve had.
…I’m not against Bhikkhuni ordination at all but…(old vinaya excuses cited)… However, you can ordain in the Mahayana tradition. Why do you have to insist on getting ordained in our tradition? We are the only tradition that is pure because we have strictly followed the vinaya. Now you want us to stop maintaining our ‘strict’ compliance to the ‘pure’ vinaya?…
So, may I end my comment by saying…
I’m not against those who are against bhikkhuni ordinations but…
All of you are just concern about your own rights and not others’ rights.
The Thai Theravada Sangha has their every rights to maintain their Doctrine of Elders and Sangha Law.
Don’t you find it very selfish to ask them to break their law and disrespect the Doctrine of Elders to accommodate you?
It is their choice to upkeep and uphold their Thai Theravada Tradition. There are so many choices of Traditions out there for you to choose from according to your needs and suitability.
Why must Ajahn Brahm and Perth Sangha force others to break their noble monastic law to suit everybody and why must Ajahn Brahm ask others to rebel their law who had successfully “gave birth” to so many noble wonderful adorable Western monks, including Ajahn Brahm, to fit into your “law and order”?
If anyone is not happy with their Doctrine of Elders or their monastic law, they can form their own sect or tradition, just like what Mahayana did? There is no law saying you cannot do that. Today, Mahayana sect is worldwide and very successful, one example, Tzu Chi (Mahayana tradition).
Why is Ajahn Brahm hesitating in forming his own Perth tradition/sect and his very own Doctrine? Why keep disturbing others’ peace and harmony? This is a democratic world. No one is above the law including monastic law in a particular country.
Sorry, i don’t agree with those that try to impose their views and ideology on others. This is a free & democratic world. No two persons is the same.
To have an amicable settlement, you do your thing, they do their thing and respect each other. Is that a deal?
(I thought i quit blogging here, but i just cannot restrain myself).
Yoh, you ask “why?”
Because it’s not just his affair. Don’t you get it? The sangha and lay people depend upon each other and whatever happens in one of the fourfold assemblies affects another.
We’re in this together.
Yoh, the only code that monastics live by is the vinaya which was already laid down by the Buddha.
If someone follows some ‘thai rules’ which contradict the Buddha’s teachings then they are not Buddhists.
The Buddha established the fourfold assembly: Bhikkhus/Bhikkhunis/laymen and laywomen. Period. check out DN16. Anyone who does not follow the Buddha’s teachings and only wants a threefold assembly is making some very bad kamma.
Yoh, relax a bit and stop trying to impose your views on others. Chill out 🙂 give yourself a big hug and a tap on the head. You’re alright Yoh. Give yourself a break.
You refer to the Thai Theravada “Sangha”. If you are familiar with the Vinaya, you will realise that this appeal to a Thai “Sangha” is misplaced, unless –
1. the Thai Sangha Act(s) recognise such a legal entity itself under Thai Civil Law; and
2. the proper action was taken to regularise and harmonise the Thai Sangha Act(s) with the Vinaya by “determining” the entire territories of Thailand as a siima for the purposes of determining the Thai “Sangha”.
I’m sure you know that #2 is impossible under the Vinaya, so where does this Thai “Sangha” stand in relation to the Vinaya?
Or did the Government sponsor a giant “fang roop nimmit” to create a Thai siima, in total disregard of the Vinaya?
Why does nationalistic sentiment creep into this type of discourses?
I am male and I have no desire to ordain as a Bhikkhuni, ever. So I am campaigning on behalf of the women who aspire for that ideal; not for my own right as you put it Yoh. Or do you want Siladharas themselves to campaign if they so want it? Now that would be really shameful wouldn’t it.
Some of the ladies probably wouldn’t even care about whether it is as a Bhikkhuni/ Siladhara/ 10-precept nun/ Mai Chee they ordain as. But it is lay people’s responsibility to make available the Bhikkhuni status should someone wishes to go down that option. There is no justifiable reason to block it.
I acknowledge that the Thai Forest Sangha tradition is awesome and I have learn’t a lot from them but it is not unimpeachable! Their stance on Bhikkhuni ordination is not in line with what the Buddha wanted.
Beautifully said Grasshoper! Wonderful:)
Grasshoper: “But it is lay people’s responsibility to make available the Bhikkhuni status should someone wishes to go down that option. There is no justifiable reason to block it.
I acknowledge that the Thai Forest Sangha tradition is awesome and I have learn’t a lot from them but it is not unimpeachable! Their stance on Bhikkhuni ordination is not in line with what the Buddha wanted.”
You are still repeating things that have already been discussed. Don’t you read people’s replies? That’s a bit rude. I always read your replies.
It’s NOT actually Thai LAW.
It’s just something some one of prominence SAID back in 1928 and everyone’s forgotten that.
It’s not in legislation, as far as i know.
Actually what they are doing is possibly breaking their own actual LAWS.
A free and democratic world????
Are you blogging from another planet?
I’m on Earth. It’s not a free and democratic world.
It’s because it’s a world full of suffering that (even though we may respect and love aspects of other traditions) some of us basically fell in love with the Theravada Forest Tradition; specifically as it existed in Thailand and even more specifically as it existed in the Ajahn Chah tradition.
WE LOVE IT. It helped us. We value it immensely. It’s like our home. PLEASE don’t tell us to go elsewhere. We love and need our home to grow. It’s where we fit. It’s where we belong. We are lost without our home and the family that resides there.
That’s why we are jumping up and down.
I got frustrated the other day and suggested the Siladharas leave if their current monastic environments are too painful. Leave and start a Bhikkuni monastary. I’d still support that.
But the thing is…Why should they? Why should they not have any say at all in how a place – that is as much their monastic home as their brothers’ – changes and grows? Why shouldn’t their home and family not accomodate their needs, not just their brothers’?
😦 There i was suggesting someone else was rude when i was being rude too…
I apologise to everyone for any unpleasant tones in my posts immediately above.
I think that’s what Ajahn Brahm did – went out to do his thing. But as a result, he is being persecuted, threatened that his monastery will be reclaimed, invitations cancelled, etc
I know what you mean and i get it.
I know how you guys feel and i guess the other party is also very hurt & disturbed by this incident and having to put up with all the unfriendly accusations, criticisms and remarks hurled at them to discredit them must have really hurt their feelings for them to take such drastic measure.
Must have also been painful for AB and the rest. All can appreciate the pain AB and his disciples are going through.We feel the pain too otherwise we would not blog like crazy.
We bloggers are trying to take an arbitrary stand.
Anyway, time heals all pains.
I guess the other party did not persecute AB just over the ordination (that is one crucial technical point, no doubt) but from what i read (all the facts are in dhammalight.com) it is more of the non-consultation and the trust element thingy (my own assumption not conclusive).
The best solution is to let this issue takes its natural course. Let the dust settle for clarity of mind.Peace to all.
That’s your source?
Ha ha ha! Know wonder you keep getting it wrong!!! You are basing your assumptions on theirs! I read enough of their so called information when all this started and found it to be full of ignorance on several counts…
They’ve certainly fooled you with their fancy looking website! We don’t even know who runs it? It could be anyone!
Once again i must apologise for the tone of the above post…
However i stand behind the content.
The fact that they didn’t publish the letter to Ajahn Brahm from Phra Brahmagunabhorn (P.A. Payutto) is further evidence that they are a thoroughly unreliable source of information.
Oh the mind-made ‘laws’ are a drag aren’t they? Mostly man-made too.
And I’m sure we all know that “Man made God in his own image”, not the other way around.
What a load of old cobblers this whole affair is!
Mana +++ (Polynesian mana, not Pali mana) to Ajahn Brahm for breaking out of the man-mind-made anachronistic shell which ensconces many of the WPP Ajahns.
Comparison to Augusta National (Masters Golf Tournament venue) and their Men Only membership is quite valid I believe. Women play golf as well as men but they are forbidden from the Holy Grail of Golf.
It’s embarrassing to be a man sometimes.
Barry Hoben, a 50 yr old man.
By the way, Hoben, the support of our Dhamma lay brothers should not be underestimated. Thank you for speaking out openly and especially given it may be a sensitive issue among your loved ones. I would be just as vocal if we started saying that people who started out from specific religious backgrounds could not become fully ordained or people from certain racial or caste backgrounds…and if one day women ruled the world and tried to abolish the Bikkhu Sangha in this or future lives, I would speak on their behalf too.
Exacly iMeditation! I bow to your statement. Metta.
I just think we are going around in circles now. I’m copying in the post from Anagarika Jason Chan a couple of posts ago which I support wholeheartedly.
Hi Yoh and all,
Absolutely. We certainly cannot impose reform on others. Indeed, the corporate governance structure of the Vinaya is local. Each and every Sima is empowered to conscientiously and reasonably govern itself in accordance with Dhamma and Vinaya.
There may be differing interpretations of Dhamma and Vinaya, but I no longer believe the interpretations of the same that have led some Buddhists to oppose Bhikkhuni ordination to be outside the bounds of reason or conscience.
There is a real and very important value in discussing and debating views on issues, but at a certain point it must be conceded that that value has been exhausted. Why is this? Because views and opinions (here defined at mental conceptions not based on direct and undeluded knowledge) can only give us clues as to where we ought to take our practice. In order to move beyond this small world of views and opinions, direct and undeluded knowledge must be established, and that can only be done by each person individually by practising the Eightfold Noble Path. Or in relation to the question of whether social structures are viable and conducive to deep practice (a kind of knowledge that arahants – or even Buddhas – do not necessarily have) then it is a case of ‘try and see what happens’. In neither case is lauding ourselves and criticising others helpful.
For me, just as pressing as whether a genuine bhikkhuni Sangha will survive is whether a genuine bhikkhu Sangha, or assembly of laymen or laywomen practitioners will survive. And, I think this concern has been common for all diligent disciples of the Buddha ever since he passed.
Let this not become a motive for us to dispute. Rather let our common love for the Triple Gem be a reason to wish each other well if, after rigorous and in depth discussion we still conscientiously and reasonably arrive at divergent interpretations of Dhammavinaya. After all, whatever I happen to think, I could be wrong and going the wrong way. Therefore, being on good terms with fellow travelers who have taken another route is of great benefit.
Whatever the outcome, whether it be one side is right, the other is right, both are right, both are wrong, or neither are right nor wrong (he he he) — and in relation to bhikkhunis none of us really know (and many many many other things!) — let us be like a well fired family, who will stick by each other through thick and thin no matter our differences.
Surely in this way the Sasana will see growth and not decline.
Just to point to this particular section of Jason’s post:
‘Rather let our common love for the Triple Gem be a reason to wish each other well if, after rigorous and in depth discussion we still conscientiously and reasonably arrive at divergent interpretations of Dhammavinaya.’
As far as i know there has been no ‘rigorous and in depth discussion’. There has been a wall of silence. There has been quiet support that hasn’t been strong enough to be public support.
Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Sujato are trying to encourage ‘rigorous and in depth discussion’.
I think that Ajahn Brahm has asked for forgiveness and sought reconciliation; it seems that he does, as Jason’s post suggests, wish others well. Yet it doesn’t sound as if others wish him well.
This is not just about changing minds.
This is about what ‘wishing each other well’ looks like in practise, not just in theory.
This is about talking and also listening.
It’s about asking and not being afraid to say, ‘i disagree for these reasons but i’m still coming back to offer dana and chat about it some more.’ Or variations on that sort of thing… I think as laypeople we need to educate ourselves about all sides of these issues if we are to have real conversations of substance with our Sangha.
I can’t remember who gave this example some blogs ago (same one as where the Jason comment came from) but they wondered why we couldn’t just get on with each other the way that the different Christian traditions did. I’m sure Australia is like the UK and has a huge range of different Christian denominations – all catering for lay peoples different individual needs. Everything from the Roman Catholic Church that does not allow female priests – to the reformist churches where women are Vicars. Bothe the ordained and lay people can choose which tradition suits their disposition and go towards that church. Why do we have to keep arguing with each other in public – giving people such a really bad picture of our own Buddhists traditions. I think we all agree we want to have Bhikkhuni and it’s great that there are bhikkhuni in Australia and Sri Lanka and Tai Wan etc etc. If the Thai Forest Sangha and Thai people wants to keep their own historic tradition, what is wrong with that. Let a hundred flowers blossom. Surely we can do at least as much at the Christian church and accept other Buddhist traditions without trying to make everyone do what WE want them to do. Metta to all brothers and sisters here.
Well said sis, i seconder you. Remember..? Open the door of your heart (By Ajahn Brahm)?
Love to all, Peace to all. No two countries are the same; no two traditions are the same. Hope all of us are like you with such big open heart embrace with open arms and accept everyone as different, not homogeneous and rigid.
There is now light in the tunnel to harmony, brother(sis)hood and goodwill restored in the name of Buddhism.
We are all kalyanamitras.
Like you say, we should agree to disagree and treat each other with respect . Just as certain monks would want their choice respected , they should also respect other’s choice also. However, Bhikkhuni Ordination was met with much hostility. The monks that carry out Bhikkhuni ordination received much harassment as well as underground activities to hinder their activities and development. Since we are all part of the Buddha’s sangha, peaceful reconciliation was something that Ajahn Brahm suggested very early on. He suggested they meet up together and have a forgiveness ceremony. But it was refused and he was treated in a very unskillful manner (I am not sure if that has stopped yet or it just moved underground). Right now it appears that there are still monks out there who support bhikkhuni but are unable to do so. Would this be the case if the pro-bhikkhuni monks are allowed to follow their choice, and their decisions respected.
We have been trying our best in communicating and giving our reasons for supporting Bhikkhuni ordination. So far I haven’t heard of any substantial reason for continuing to obstruct half of the Buddha’s sangha from entering into the path fully. Therefore, I wish that those opposing bhikkhuni ordination would re-examine their beliefs/ preconceived notions regarding their actions.
If they still can’t find it within themselves to open the door of dharma to the female members, the least they can do is not to interfere when other monks do so and respect their stance like they would want their stance respected. Otherwise, we need to know their justification for continuing to keep the door of dharma close to female members and/or suppressing the monks who choose to open the door of dharma to others regardless of gender.
We all want peaceful reconciliation, but it is only practical if both sides agree to commit to this.
The Christian traditions do argue with each other.
The healthiest relationships between Christian Churches exists when they are able to argue with each.
It would be impolite of me not to reciprocate.(i wish to end blogging here, so i will not give further reply).Nice blogging with you. All of us seem to enjoy blogging albeit a lot of disagreement (a fertile field for our practice of tolerance & patience). Its fun but addictive.
I don’t think anyone can act like a world police to prevent others from making their choices. Even AB was given a choice and he made his choice in favour of his Bhikkhunis over his affiliation.
I guess it is impossible to have the best of both worlds.
For those Western monks who are pro-bhikkhunis, it is their choice and preference to choose which tradition or affiliation they prefer.They have a choice to join AB and no one can make the decision for them or compel them to make the decision.
All Rules are made collectively and any Rules are to be undone or amended collectively and severally, for harmony in the Sangha and Sasana.
Of course, anyone can also become an independant and no one has the right to stop that. It is a personal choice, decision and rights. With Peace & Metta.
Bhante can you please provide some reputable links to correct this misinformation?
I know he’s probably not reading a word i type…but Yoh, i don’t know which monk told you this stuff but while he may be virtuous and wise in his knowledge of the 4 noble truths…he doesn’t know his Buddhist history. Do you respect Bhikku Bodhi? Go and read his RECENT works. Especially his Booklet on this very issue.
I owe you an apology.
I shouldn’t have said: ‘i know he’s probably not reading a word i type’. That was a very mean thing of me to write. I’m awfully sorry.
Wishing you well.
My dear Kanchana
Dude, no problem at all. We forgive each other (no one is perfect). I am cool.
There is no make-up if there is not break-up.
🙂 🙂 🙂
Bhante Sujato said: Phra Payutto is regarded as intelligent, progressive, and educated… there is no doubt his views on bhikkhunis are influential in the Western Sangha. I have spent a little time with him, and he is indeed a very gentle, acute, and virtuous monk.
iMeditation said: The misconception about not being able to carry out a bhikkhuni ordination ceremony because there are no more Bhikkhuni is something that have been drilled into some people’s mind since birth… If we don’t communicate and exchange ideas, it is unlikely that people will stop to re-examine their social conditionings or dedicate time into gathering facts before coming to a conclusion.
My humble two cents: Phra Payutto can be said to be a most respected, if not the only, authority on academic Buddhism in Thailand. Only a handful, if not none at all, dare question his virtue or his words. For instance, when the Dhammagaya temple said that Nibbana is not Anatta, Phra Payutto’s counter response ended the debate.
If Phra Payutto does not have time to investigate in depth the bhikkhuni issue and advocate that bhikkhuni ordinations do not violate the vinaya, Thai people can easily give up hope that Theravadin bhikkhuni ordinations will be allowed in our country.
I’m not saying that Phra Payutto does not want to take time to pursue this issue, but perhaps no one female aspirant has ever come to him for serious assistance and also, his health has been frail for so long he has to arrange his priorities carefully. So many books are waiting to be written and edited by him.
Isn’t it sad that Thailand has very few widely respected monks?
Oops, Big apology. I posted this on the wrong thread.
Dear Ajahn Brahm,
This is wonderful news! I hope the technical problems clear up soon so you can post the complete letter on this blog!
Thank you so much. 🙂
Interesting that Dhammalight did not publish this letter.
It’s unfortunate, especially since it seems some readers/bloggers get their information from Dhammalight.
I wonder what the real agenda of the person or persons who run Dhammalight can be? It doesn’t seem to be to find the Truth…odd considering they named themselves Dhammalight or Truth/Teachings-Light.
I wonder what your friend would say about P.A.Payutto’s letter? 🙂
Remember…the friend you told us about who differed with you about Bhikkuni ordination…the one you’ve known for 30 years… 🙂
Thank you Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Sujato for your efforts in order to offer to women the possibility to be fully ordained, as the Buddha wanted.
One of the wetsern Ajahn, Ajahn Succito, has an interesting reflection on this topic : http://sucitto.blogspot.com/2010/03/knowing-where-you-are.html
Recently, despite their different viewpoints, I heard kind words from western Ajahns speaking about Ajahn Brahm. This true spirit of Metta makes my heart warmer.
May all we be well and happy.
Vincent said: ‘Recently, despite their different viewpoints, I heard kind words from western Ajahns speaking about Ajahn Brahm. This true spirit of Metta makes my heart warmer.’
Thanks so much for sharing that. 🙂
Thanks for sharing Vincent. Ajahn Succito seems very understanding of other’s circumstances. I believe there are many other monks out there that are just as supportive of women’s spiritual practice if their personal stance is respected. One thing that everyone seem to agree on is that it is important to respect other’s personal choice. I hope that people will find it in themselves to also show respect for a monk’s choice to support bhikkhuni ordination without suppression , alienation, or censure, who ever or where ever they are.
One thing I’ve learnt from Ajahn Brahm’s teaching is that we should try to understand humans’ mind.
One thing I’ve learnt about humans’ mind is that people’s view is easiest to be influenced but most difficult to be made to change.
Presenting evidence contrary to a person’s belief can hardly change their attitude. In fact, most become more defensive. (Look at all our responses on this blog, for instance.) We need right situations to repeatedly ‘feed’ them the info at right intervals.
Since I don’t have much time to spend with this friend of mine, I decided to avoid talking about it to ‘conserve’ teh friendship of 30 years. Perhaps when the right situation arises, I will try again.
Thank you for your kind suggestion. 🙂
Warm loving kindness to you, dear.
And warm loving kindness to you to… 🙂 🙂
Your comments are very wise…I agree, time and place is very important.
I too have an old friend that i cannot discuss this issue with. My friend doesn’t live in the same region as me so i don’t see her often; however i do talk with her regularly over the phone. I love my friend and am grateful to her but I’m also finding it painful not discussing something that is so important to me; in the past i never felt such a restriction with her. It’s harder because she’s physically rather fragile, i don’t want to cause her more distress. Next time i speak with her, I’ll remember you and i know that will console me because i’ll remember that you can do it and that i’m not the only one in this situation! Thanks Dheerayupa. Thanks so very much for sharing and for your good wise comments. 🙂
Perhaps one day a miracle might happen and the Theravadin Buddhist world can see that bhikkhuni ordinations are not violating any vinaya. And we all then live in peace and harmony.
Dear Ajahns & all with due respect,
THE TIME HAS COME, FOR ME to comment after reading all the comments in this blog with amusement and dismay.
We are all, in fact, like spectators of two Teams battling out their wits. Team B rep. Ajahn Brahm and Team C rep. Ajahn Chah.
Team B : 4-fold assembly with Bhikkhunis Sangha in Vinaya.
Team C : Bhikkhu Sangha with 4-fold assembly in Vinaya.
Team B : 8 rules for Bhikkhunis is a myth.
Team C : 8 rules for Bhikkhunis is not a myth but in the Suttas.(Gotamai Sutta)and advised by Buddha, to prolong the Buddha-Sasana.
Team B : Forgiveness & reconciliation but with Bhikkhunis in Perth still valid in Ajahn Chah Forest Teravada Tradition.
Team C : Forgiveness & reconciliation on condition Bhikkhunis not valid in Ajahn Chah Forest Theravada Tradition (only mai chees allowed).
Team B : Doctrine of Elders & heirarchy system are irrelevant in modern world.
Team C : Doctrine of Elders & heirarchy system are still relevant in modern world.
Team B : Disciples of the Buddha/Vinaya and not Tradition or Lineage (i.e. blind obedience).
Team C : Disciples of the Buddha, Teacher, Tradition & Lineage (i.e. obedience).
In my opinion, as both Teams find it hard to reconcile their differences in the understanding and interpretation of the Dhamma & Vinaya with two school of thoughts, THE TIME HAS COME for both Teams TO END this battling of wits and move on by having TWO separate lineages according to their two schools of thoughts:-
1. Ajahn Brahm Forest Sangha Lineage (based on Bodhi Bhikkhu’s version); and
2. Ajahn Chah Forest Sangha Lineage (based on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s version).
THE TIME HAS COME for these two school of thoughts to move on and go back to monastic loperation as usual.
– PEACE NOT WAR.
Thanks for the summary. May I suggest that we leave Ajahn Chah out of this. Perhaps using a different name for C. They are all disciples of Ajahn Chah with different views. We can also say that if Ajahn Chah is still alive, he would allow Bhikkhuni Ordination for various reasons. But let’s not go there. I don’t think neither side should claim to represent Ajahn Chah’s view. I don’t think it is fair for Ajahn Chah if we say that he is against Bhikkhuni Ordination. It is possible that it can ruin his good name.
Correction, my friend.I was just trying to mend and not to sprinkle salt into the wound.
I thought I said Team, and not Ajahn Chah himself. Team means us,the spectators and supporters, those that support Ajahn Brahm’s views and those that oppose and support Ajahn Chah’s heritage.
I was not representing Ajahn Chah at all! It did not at all implied such but you chose to misinterpret me such. I am only referring to the two distinct Teams comprising all of us here in this blog, with one Team in favour and the other, against.
I am no body neither am I in any position to represent Ajahn Chah. Can you please not put words into my mouth and you also cannot put words into the late Ajahn Chah’s, in saying IF he was still alive he would allow Bhikkhunis ordination (a hypothetical assumption). He would have done that when he was alive, however he had mai chees.
That was just my observation here and my humble proposal with an intention to reconcile the differences and school of thoughts amongst us.
I find that it is difficult to penetrate a preconceived mind.
You may not agree with me. Do you choose to continue retaliating and antagonizing each other for what is just a simple problem of difference in views, opinions and analysis of the Dhamma-Vinaya. This difference will go on now and in future unless there we have like a Tribunal in the Sangha (Theravada tradition). Is there one, anyway? I am not here to antagonize anyone. The End.
I think you represent the two viewpoints reasonably well, and yes we may have to agree to disagree.
However this is not just a simple disagreement in interpretation of the Dhamma and Vinaya and I think you are wrong to suggest that. We are not talking about how many meals a day a monastic should eat or the merits of sitting vs walking meditation. This is an issue of human dignity, of justice and of discrimination.
In my view the perpetuation of a sytem that denigrates and disenfranchises half the community that makes up Buddhists is not something that can be, or should be, left to rest. Yes change is painful, but it does need to happen.
While the Thai monastics at least have the excuse of growing up in a society that has yet to embrace equal opportunity for women, the Western monastics have no such excuse. I think Ajahn Brahm’s call for these Western monastics to justify their standpoint is very reasonable.
wtp : This is an issue of human dignity, of justice and of discrimination.
Bro, Buddhism, like any other religions IS spiritual, not political. Do not bring Buddhism to the political arena champion for justice, equality and human dignity, to justify one’s agenda.
Ajahn Brahm tried to legislate and overturn the Buddha’s Vinaya in the name of modernization and both he and Sujato tried to reform by trying to brainwash their followers and the lay people with their own views, own interpretation by now saying: this is not said by the Buddha, this is a later addition to the Sutta, blah blah blah etc, all to deviate from the authentic Dhamma according to their whimps and fancy.
Frankly, with due respect, Ajahn Brahm tried to change the Buddha’s Vinaya.
Buddha laid down strictly in the Vinaya: No gays/lesbians (something like pandukka or hemaprodisite) in the Order, but Ajahn Brahm did declare openly he has very good gay monk ordained by him in his monastery.
In the Sutta, Buddha discouraged Mahapati (aunt) i.e women, not to ask for Going Forth, but Ajahn Brahm in his talks urged women to leave the ladle i.e cooking/household and crooked husband, like a household breaker, to join the monastic protraying it like a relax easy life in monastic.
Now, he is trying to justify Bhikkhunis ordination.
Now, he is trying to abolish traditions and cultures of other countries. Buddha’s teachings are mostly concerned with cultures and traditions like: the gesture of anjali, the bowing, sleeping on hard bed etc etc etc.
Today, mankind (not so kind anymore) has taken away our land for development, our rivers (water) & air (pollution) our forests and mountains, in the name of modernization and technology advancement.
There is nothing left now except our cultures and traditions remained.
Do not take these away from us. Like the West, they have the turkey tradition during X’mas, the Christian tradition of bowing in grace in church in front of the cross, all these are traditions too.
All cultures and traditions are mostly wholesome and pure with sincerity and warm the hearts.We do not have to justify every culture or tradition with an intectual meaning or answer.
Do not “rape” our Eastern cultures and traditions.
The West should first do away with their traditions of mass destruction, violence, guns and ammunition.
No one can take away one’s cultures and traditions – these are intangible.
Do not be the slaves to modernization. We need cultures and tradition to balance modernization to maintain a healthy and sane community and world.
wtp quotes *This is an issue of human dignity, of justice and of discrimination.*
Buddhism or Buddha’s Teachings is a science in spirituality and not legislations. It is a Truth in spirituality and need not be challenged by scientists as it is science in itself, for us to study, practise & realized for those who have “saddha” in the Buddha (like those monastics)for salvation or eradicate mental sufferings. “Sufferings” in our body (form) is inevitable as long as there is becoming and our body is part of Nature and belongs to Nature like trees and plants.
Buddhism has nothing to do with rights, inequality,justice and all those human laws and legislations, so it does not do any justice to drage Buddhism into the political ring. There are a lot of things in spirituality that cannot be proven or analysed under the microscope, but that does not mean they do not exist. It may be proven but it would take a loooong time for evidences. Buddhism is a science expounded by Buddha. Scientist can explore & challenge it but will be defeated with it as it is the Truth of Science in spirituality. Buddha is a living example of this. Why waste time on it. Isn’t it better to practise it than doubt it?
Bud wrote: “Buddhism or Buddha’s Teachings is a science in spirituality and not legislations. ….Buddhism has nothing to do with rights, inequality,justice and all those human laws and legislations, so it does not do any justice to drage Buddhism into the political ring.”
I would agree with you if the reason for supporting Bhikkhuni Ordination is only due to human ethics or law. Abolishing bhikkhuni ordination is not universally practiced in Theraveda Buddhism or other tradition. The reason is that it is possible to revive bhikkhuni ordination according to the Dhamma and Vinaya. It is too simplistic to say that it is only due to political reason. Also , the practicing condition given to women as machees are hard conducive for them. What is necessary sometimes get left out, what might not be necessary is enforced (or added). Being cramp up together (in many places) doesn’t give them enough solitude and seclusion. The 8 heavy rules might not be created by the Buddha are heavilly enforced. Many might just end up in a wild goose chase after leaving their family and life behind to enter the machee “order” that someone just made up later on. The best bet is practice as the Buddha set up.
And how are we so sure that the banning of Bhikkhuni ordination in certain country has nothing to do with politics.
Yes it is a Science that has to be practised otherwise there’s no point to it.
Bud wrote: “Buddhism or Buddha’s Teachings is a science in spirituality and not legislations. ….Buddhism has nothing to do with rights, inequality,justice and all those human laws and legislations, so it does not do any justice to drage Buddhism into the political ring.”
But what is the container that this Science is practised in?
It is the container of Sila. That is Right Intention, Right Speech and Right Action and Right Livelihood. These four factors of the path have EVERYTHING to do with ‘rights, inequality, justice and’ most (not all, i certainly agree on that point) of ‘those human laws and legislations.
Right Intention: Renunciation/peace, compassion and kindness. This is what rights, equality and justice are all GOOD human laws are about.
Right Speech: Abstaining from Lying, Abstaining from Tale-Bearing, Abstaining from Harsh Language, Abstaining from Vain Talk. This is what rights, equality and justice are all GOOD human laws are about.
Right Action: Abstaining from Killing, Abstaining from Stealing, Abstaining from Adultery. This is what rights, equality and justice are all GOOD human laws are about.
Right Livelihood: Not to practise deceit, treachery, soothsaying, trickery, usury, trading in arms, in living beings, in flesh, in intoxicating drinks and in poison… This is what rights, equality and justice are all GOOD human laws are about.
Furthermore Bud…the Vinaya itself is used by the Sangha as a legal code. Arguably the oldest legal code. It is not simply a set of rigid rules. If any legal code were simply a set of rigid rules…we wouldn’t need lawyers to interpret them!!
Moreover, your assertion that ‘it does not do any justice to drage Buddhism into the political ring’ is about 2500 too late. Buddhism was dragged into the political Arena by the Buddha. It happened when families were broken up because people went forth, it happened when people argued with him and hurled criticism upon him, tried to frame him for misdeeds, it happened when he became the spiritual advisors of great kings… Interacting with people, with groups…this is politics…this is the arena in which Sila comes into play.
Emperor Asoka is the next prominent example of some one who understood the politics of being a Dhamma practioner as well as the politics of being a leader who was a Dhamma practitioner.
Wishing you well in Dhamma.
I meant: ‘This is what rights, equality and justice AND all GOOD human laws are about.’
Also I meant: 2500 years!
Really? Ever heard of sila and not harming?
a href=”#comment-5635″>Bud :
Isn’t it better to practise it than doubt it?
Certainly. And the start of the eightfold path is sila. You need a sound basis in ethical action if meditation is to be more than superficial and any “science of spirituality” is to be more than theory.
I believe Edgar is extending an olive branch. Peace and Metta to you dear Edgar.
I appreciate your contribution and it probably helps you to frame the mindboggling heaps of information, allegiances, events of the last months. It would indeed be nice to put all of this aside! This is a wholesome wish indeed, for harsh words and feelings to be put aside.
If things were as simple as the A and B teams you describe, people might have been off on their merry ways by now. IMO, and respectfully, they are more layered and nuanced than that (ample details available on this site so I won’t rehash.) It is worth noting that there have been changes in the Sangha that may reflect this complexity and allow for some of the more deficient areas in the building of this Sangha to be worked on in the future. Which makes me optimistic – but it does not make me want to stick around.
I appreciate your effort to mend the issue. And I do realize that you are referring to the team when calling the it Ajahn Chah’s team. But that would appear as if Ajahn Chah is against bhikkhuni ordination. I was simply making a small suggestion that we should perhaps use one of Ajahn Chah’s other disciple’s name who oppose Bhikkhuni perhaps. It is only fair for Ajahn Chah.
” cannot put words into the late Ajahn Chah’s, in saying IF he was still alive he would allow Bhikkhunis ordination (a hypothetical assumption). ”
Perhaps you have missed the next lines where I wrote: “But let’s not go there. I don’t think neither side should claim to represent Ajahn Chah’s view.”
Edgar wrote: “He would have done that when he was alive, however he had mai chees.”
There are a lot of monks who support bhikkhunis but still have machees at their monastery due to not feeling comfortable to express their stance or other reasons. Ajahn Brahm used to have machees. Having machees doesn’t mean that a person necessarily oppose bhikkhuni ordination.
Edgar wrote: “You may not agree with me. Do you choose to continue retaliating and antagonizing each other for what is just a simple problem of difference in views, opinions and analysis of the Dhamma-Vinaya. ”
Actually I am not disagree with your suggestion about peaceful reconciliation. I was just suggesting that it is better to use another disciple’s name who oppose bhikkhuni ordination to represent those who oppose bhikkhunis and let Ajahn Chah rest in peace.
About extending the olive branch. Ajahn Brahm himself had done that. It is the other monks who refused. Perhaps, we should give this advice to the other disciples of Ajahn Chah. Ajahn Brahm is still wondering why they haven’t accept his invitation to sit down together and forgive each other.
May I offer a speculation regarding Mae Chees in Ajahn Chah’s monastery?
Is it possible that no woman ever asked Ajahn Chah’s assistance with a bhikkhuni ordination?
It is too simplistic to jump to a conclusion that Ajahn Chah opposed Bhikkhuni ordinations in the forest tradition simply because he didn’t ordain one.
That’s a good point. Many women maybe never imagined it or would have been too afraid to ask. It is true, we can’t assume what someone would say without actually asking.
By the way…is Ajahn Gunhah Ajahn Chah’s nephew? Dheerayupa, do you know? I think he is but I could be wrong.
I’ve heard that he too was excommunicated from WPP some years back for ordaining (not facilitating and being the chanting monk, but actually ordaining) 10 precept nuns!!
I understand he is much loved and highly respected in Thailand.
I believe he is the monk referred to in the tale of the monk, the mayor and the snake in Ajahn Brahm’s book ‘Opening The Door of Your Heart’.
From what I’ve known, yes, Ajahn Gunha is Ajahn Chah’s newphew. I met him twice. He radiated kindness.
But I don’t know about him being excommunicated.
I became interested in Ajahn Chah’s teachings only two years ago after I heard Ajahn Brahm’s amazing talks! 🙂
Error : Team B : Team C : Disciples of the Buddha, Teacher, Tradition & Lineage (i.e. obedience).
Amend to: (i.e. not blind obedience).
For the record, Ajahn Brahm was finally given the ultimatum: Say that the ordination was invalid,that these women are not Bhikkhuni’s. He had to say this in order for things to move forward.
Because, in his mind, the ordination was valid and the women were Bhikkhuni’s, in order to pacify ‘his affiliation’ he would have had to knowingly utter a deliberate lie.
In short, Ajahn Brahm didn’t make a choice. The choice was made for him. There was only one way he could go: The way of truth and integrity.
The kinder interpretation for WPP’s actions (than it being a dirty and underhanded move), is that many Monks genuinely believe that Bhikkhuni ordination is impossible and Bhikkhuni’s are impossible.
Anagarika Blake, thank you for the gently skillful way you’ve put this. I particularly liked:
‘The kinder interpretation for WPP’s actions (than it being a dirty and underhanded move), is that many Monks genuinely believe that Bhikkhuni ordination is impossible and Bhikkhuni’s are impossible.’
I’d never thought of it that way…it makes my heart feel a less pained about the events of this meeting. 🙂 Thank you.
Thank you for the complement, I deserve that :).
It’s a funny thing isn’t it, the pain of our love for the Sangha being put through the meat-grinder.
And yet, the very foundation of Buddhism is unconditional love… We should not let their actions pain us, we should still have love towards them.
One thing I am grateful for, is that the WPP Sangha chose to relinquish their control over Ajahn Brahm, essentially giving him permission to act as he likes. They could have gone for the compromise that AB suggested – he would ordain no more Bhikkhunis until it was approved by WPP. But instead AB was (forcefully) set free to act as he sees fit. For us, his disciples, this is good.
We can presume that any venerable sir or group who continues to try and persecute AB, is acting against the decision by the WPP Sangha to grant AB autonomy.
I know the hardest part of unconditional love, is giving someone the freedom to be defiled, afflicted. I mean wouldn’t we all like it much more if WPP had a healthy attitude towards Bhikkhuni’s? Yet, we need to remember how Ajahn Brahm says to interact with a sick person – pay attention to the part of them that isn’t sick.
Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.
Yes you do deserve that! 🙂 🙂
I really appreciate the reminders Blake. Thanks so much! 🙂 🙂
Hi Anagarika Blake
I am compelled to reciprocate (i wish to stop blogging as i am afraid i might hurt others’ feelings in the process of justification).
FYI, i am a neutral party, as i am not on any side but endeavour with the hope that unity and harmony will be restored speedily.
My contention was that, AB knew he was affiliated with this lineage that did not allow Bhikkhunis ordination, by virtue of their monastic law.
Bodhiyana is said or deemed to be another branch monastery of AC’s lineage and AC’s lineage regarded AB as the Abbot of their branch monastery.
Whereas, on record, Dhammasara is not affiliated or a branch monastery of AC’s lineage. It was set up jointly by the Bhikkhunis and AB and is considered a separate & independent entity. Therefore, it would be fine, if the Bhikkhunis ordinination was held there as they are not under the jurisdiction of AC’s lineage.
AB would not have been disaffiliated had he allowed the ordination to be held in Dhammasara and not in Bodhiyana and not participate in it, and perhaps requested other Sangha who has legitimate Bhikkhunis to perform the ordination.
It appeared that AB had the intention to revive the Bhikkhunis in Theravada Tradition & in AC’s lineage which is still controversial, citing it is valid in the Vinaya and went ahead to breach it unilaterally, with the Vinaya as his valid justification and authority.
The decision to disaffiliate him was not done unilaterally by WPP but collectively & severally by all the Sangha in AC’s lineage, citing breach of Rules and Trust.In fact according to the Minutes in WAM, the Sangha tried to forgive AB.
This is my humble suggestion, if AB sincerely wanted to forgive and reconcile, he had an option.
He had the option and power to invalid the 4 Bhikkhunis and re-perform the ordination in Dhammasara without him officially involved, by another Theravada Sangha who has legitimate existing Bhikkunis. In that way, he would have respected his lineage as well as the Bhikkhunis’ aspiration.
In that way, i think AB would not be disaffiliate but he would be praised for his sensitivity, consideration & wisdom to preserve harmony within his affiliations.
The biggest problem here is not the Bhikkhunis, but with AB and a few others, trying to revive the Bhikkhunis Order in the Theravada Tradition in Buddhism without yet a full support and consensus of the wider Sangha and all the Elders in the Theravada Traditions, which include Sri Lanka, Tibet, Burma and other parts of the world.
We all want to see the Bhikkhunis ordained but at the same time not going against any informed rules in any tradition. All will rejoice with the Bhikkhunis and no one gets hurt.
(Sorry Anagarika, i love to blog with you but i wish to stop blogging, as i have hurt a lot of people here with my comments, so i ask for your understanding if you do not get a reply from me. Nevertheless, i will continue reading this blog with an open heart for a better understanding of the situation and i kind of enjoy reading it, as it is enriching).
My apology to you & all, if my comments are too harsh and offensive to some. May you be in Nibbana in this Samsara. All d best.
I don’t think you’ve ever said anything offensive or harsh.
Sometimes I have thought you have not got the facts right but then quite often I haven’t got my facts right and that’s not really a crime is it?
I’m sorry if I’ve been too harsh or offensive in my responses. I hope you’ll forgive me.
I’d just like to point out a couple things:
1. You said: ‘The biggest problem here is not the Bhikkhunis, but with AB and a few others, trying to revive the Bhikkhunis Order in the Theravada Tradition in Buddhism without yet a full support and consensus of the wider Sangha and all the Elders in the Theravada Traditions, which include Sri Lanka, Tibet, Burma and other parts of the world.’
Regarding Sri Lanka: This is where the modern revival began in the 1990s. There are hundreds or fully ordained Bhikkunis in Sri Lanka as i write this.
It seems it is parts of the West, most/parts of Thailand and Burma that is holding out.
Regarding Tibet: I believe prominent elements of Tibet Buddhism are very pro-Bhikkuni. I believe the Dalai Lama is very supportive. And by the way Tibet was never Theravada.
2. Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it…?
My sincere belief (i can’t say i know this for a fact) is that Ajahn Brahm did not realise that his actions would result in his excommunication. It’s entirely possible that he would have done things differently if he’d known this.
I believe some WPP monks intentions would have been sincere as Anagarika Blake suggests but I believe what Ajahn Brahm perhaps didn’t realise is the personal jealousy that i really believe a few members of WPP had/have towards him.
‘In that way, i think AB would not be disaffiliate but he would be praised for his sensitivity, consideration & wisdom to preserve harmony within his affiliations.’
Ah, hindsight. 🙂 If only we could go back and check!
But Yoh, I seriously doubt that this would have been the case. I think some would still have poured criticism on his actions. He was asked at the WPP meeting if he agreed to have his monastary demoted in status. He agrees. Yet despite his agreement he is asked this same question again and again. To me that shows some sort of unsatiated vindictiveness towards Ajahn Brahm.
You said: ‘He had the option and power to invalid the 4 Bhikkhunis and re-perform the ordination in Dhammasara without him officially involved, by another Theravada Sangha who has legitimate existing Bhikkunis. In that way, he would have respected his lineage as well as the Bhikkhunis’ aspiration.’
Once again…hindsight is a beautiful thing. I don’t understand the point of saying all this. We are here and now…what ever has happened there should now be forgiveness and dialogue. Both forgiveness and dialogue are crucial to move on. I suggest that because of the public and international nature of this affair, it is not enough for Western Monks to agree in private and then show a different face in public. Indeed one could view that as being dishonest, perhaps even shallow.
I also think it is unfair to keep this information private since so many of us would love further evidence of reconciliation happening. If you are a western monk and you’ve forgiven Ajahn Brahm and you are talking with him…I think it would be very healing for the rest of us to know about it! 🙂
Furthermore (in reference again to your statement quoted above) at that moment, in that intense situation…would you have remembered all possible options?
I suggest that Ajahn Brahm acted in what he thought was the most truthful way. I suggest that his ‘affiliations’ are to those whom he spends the most time working, living with and helping. i.e: The Buddhist community in Perth which includes the 4 nuns. He not only chose to honour the Truth, the Dhamma and Vinaya (instead of an allegiance to tradition) he also chose to honour as well as support those of us who he serves and who serve him here in Perth.
If the Buddha were faced with these two choices: 1. Dhamma-Vinaya and 2. Allegiance to Tradition/Group of Origin, which do you think he would have chosen?
Wishing you well.
Yoh, please try to understand this:
1) there is no other law that monastics are bound to except only by the Buddha’s monastic discipline: the vinaya.
2) The vinaya has both Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni
3) The “Thai law” is ONLY a cultural make up by only a small majority of monks and has NO authority. It’s only some monks who invented this with no foundation and not based on the Buddha’s teachings. Basically, it can be ignored.
4) ALL monks are part of the SAME tradition: Buddha – Sasana. there is no such thing as ‘thai monks’ or this monk or sumedho lineage or whatever. They are all part of the same tradition and that is the tradition of the BUddha’s teachings: Buddha Sasana. That’s it. Do you understand this Yoh?
Hi Sis Dania,
Gosh, i am back.
But, Dania, we lay Buddhists have no problem at all with the existence of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, the more the merrier (more meritorious for us and for them and more Saints/angels beings in future).
However, there are still a majority of Sangha in the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka and other parts of the world that still hold firm to their different views and different interpretation of the Suttas and Vinaya from us.
There are those that think they are right and they want to uphold their inheritance and the Suttas & Vinaya they believed are authentic.
Who are we to judge and say they are wrong and that those stuff like the 8 rules embankment by Buddha and ” no Buddha and Bhikkunis around to resuscitate the Bhikkhunis Order ” are wrong? There is no Buddha now to help us with this, so they depend on the DhammaVinaya as their Buddha.
No one knows and can claim they are wrong and we are right?. So, the best solution for now, is to do what is right for us and let them do what is right for them, and do not judge and compel others to be what we want for others.
I believe there will be a time (if it is according to the law of dhamma or law of nature) where the “two rivers” merge into “one sea”. We need patience for this things to evolve or grow, just like, if we want a tree to grow stronger, we have to allow the tree to grow naturally according to its causes and conditions, and natural environment(its Nature).
I guess most of us, people, are impatient. We want everything fast-track now in this fast track world.We want to realize enlightenment now in this life.
(IMO)The revival will evolve naturally without resistance and disturbance or interference by us when the condition is right, no one could stop it from existing when it is due to bear fruits. We just watch and allow it to grow gently, without a need to justify it, dictate it or command it.I hope i don’t sound too philosophical.
(Sis Dania, I wish to stop blogging now, forgive me, as I find the more I speak the more mistakes I will make, so I want to avoid that, otherwise i will have to spend a longer time in Samsara to purify my wrong speech and thoughts. All d best to you. I want out).
Just to make the point that not all lay Buddhists understand the need or the validity of Bhikkuni ordination. Just like some sangha, some lay people dwell in ignorance on this matter.
Also…as to not knowing who is right and who is wrong… Respectfully, i do not agree with this at all.
The Buddha left us with very clear guidelines about telling what was ethically right and what was not. He also instructed us to think for ourselves using his Teachings as a framework. Buddhism encourages us to decide for ourselves who is right and who is wrong after investigating carefully.
Here again (i’ve posted it elsewhere as well today) is the link to Bhikku Bodhi’s booklet (many thanks to Bhikkhu Brahmali for posting it in the thread on Buddhist Jokes) which presents the case for and against Bhikkuni ordination. It is compelling.
Click to access revivalbhkni_final4.pdf
After reading this, i encourage you to decide what is right and what is wrong for yourself. 🙂
Furthermore dear Yoh, I must PARTIALLY disagree with the notion that things will just happen naturally in there own time.
To some extent this is how things are.
Yet this ignores the very real impact our actions have on the world. Our actions are a part of this ‘naturally ocurring change’. It would be negligent of us to not recognise that we are part of the world and have the ability to shape it for good or for ill.
The Buddha taught us that even our own Enlightenment is subject to the work that we do with our own mind. In meditation, to a large extent we ‘do nothing’ and wait for things to naturally unfold…but there are many moments when we have to choose which decisions we are going to make, which fork in the road we are going to take.
Their are decisions to be made and things to be done in the world of conventional reality. We are not doing our duty as Buddhists if we don’t recognise this. It’s a part of living ethically and lovingly in the world. It’s a part of our practise of both dana and sila. Even the Buddha had to do this in order to set up his religion.
Yes of course we should all agree to disagree, and yes if Thai sangha wish to not ordain women it is their right (even though it is against basic human rights and the Buddha’s teachings!). And yes silence IS an option in reponse to a question, BUT it does not mean that you silence the questioner!
We have to ask why is it that AB has been dis-invited to the UNDV in Bangkok? And please remember it is _not_ simply a case of electing not to invite him – because it is after inviting him that they have subsequently, in a covert manner, dis-invited him. My understanding is that they did not send and official invitation _after_ accepting a Buddhist paper for presentation at the UNDV some months ago.
Clearly AB has been dis-invited because of pressure from certain sectors of the Thai sangha over the bhikkhuni issue. Why call the UNDV in Bangkok an international Buddhist forum if it practices this sort of unilateral censorship?
My point is this: it is clear that the anti-bhikkhunists are waging a campaign against AB and not the other way around.
And besides in the Buddhist tradition, when a question is repeated three times, an answer becomes obligatory – we are all waiting for indivdual answers from all the senior Ajahns please.
And to another matter: the use of computers.. I have read in this blog someone criticising the Ajahns for “using the computer” to express their views!
I am sure there had been similar opposition to spreading the Dhamma by radio and TV when radio and TV techonology was something of a novelty.
Communicating by phone and internet is here to stay and a perfectly valid way of communication and debate. And yet the very same person who said that Ajahn should not be blogging was quite comfortable to use the internet as platform to express his own views! Is this not how a shady politician would try and cloud the issue instead of debating it?
And by the way not all politicians are bad, some are actually trying to improve the world. And if you think about it; politics and religion are similar in that they are both concerned with views
about the proper conduct of persons and society. So please let us not side-step the issue by unfair labelling of those opposed to our own views.
And just as internet is a way of life, so is equality of gender, race and creed. We should get used to this and adapt.
I note no-one has yet asked the troubling question: what is the status of Thai women compared to that of women in other parts of the world? Of course the status of women is generally lower than that of men throughout the world, but what I am asking is “what specifically is the status of Thai women? Is Thailand perceived as a paradise for men?” If it is agreed that Thai women do not enjoy a good status and reputation then the Thai sangha better ask themselves if they are partly to blame for this!
My dear brother Yoh,
Thank you for explaining further the other point of view in assisting us all to reach a better understanding of this very complex issue. It is clear you are giving this whole situation a lot of thought and insight and have a sincere wish to restore peace and harmony amongst us all. For this you are to be commended.
But what is done is done, and cannot be undone. All we can do now is move forward to the domain of respect, forgiveness and understanding and restore our Sangha to completeness.
I am coming off here too….just happy to see you again 🙂
Dear Anagarika Blake,
I totally agree with your interpretation. Some WPP monks may have their own hidden agenda, but I do believe that many honestly believe that bhikkhuni ordinations are impossible. That is why I said that the only solution to the ‘Thai’ Theravadin bhikkhuni issue is for a most and widely respected scholar THAI monk, such as Phra Payutto, to come out and show proof that a bhikkhuni ordination is not against the vinaya at all.
I am praying for that mirable.
Dheerayupa what did you think of Ajahn Brahm’s post made above on the 15th May? He has posted an extract of a letter from P.A.Payutto.
Dear Kanchana, I would rather wait till I see the whole letter before making any comment.
I believe that Phra Payutto is virtous, kind and compassionate.
The whole letter from Phre Payutto reads as follows:
“Dear Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso,
Thank you very much for your letter of Friday, 12 June 2009 with an enclosed book, and also for your good wishes for my improved health.
Please excuse me for the long delay in replying your letter. The continual attacks of some disease of the respiratory system complicated by the disorder of the carotid and vertebral arteries have made it difficult for me to speak and work so much as I should. So far, I have not read through the attached book by a very famous respected Thera.
Eight years ago, in 2001,I was asked some questions on the ordination of Bhikkhunis. It was tape-recorded and later in that year published as a book, the gist of which can be represented by a heading called, [Thai name],(Something like, “What is to be maintained is: Let women gain while not spoiling the Dhamma-Vinaya”). I tend not to speak of, or even to have, an opinion. My position seems to be that the knowledge and the observence of the principles, esp., of the Vinaya rules should be as complete as possible on the one hand, and the matter should be treated with as best Metta and compassion as possible on the other. Decision should be made by the Sangha that is best informed and compassionate.
I deeply appreciate your care for the stability of the Sasana along with the welfare and happiness of all people.
Phra Brahmagunabhorn (P.A. Payutto)”
Thank you Ven Sir for posting the letter here.
Dheerayupa, What do you think?
His stance is made clear: vinaya and compassion. Well-informed and compassionate.
The problem is: “So far, I have not read through the attached book by a very famous respected Thera.”
We could interpret his statement that he supports bhikkhunis but he has yet to be ‘well-informed’.
The problem remains that he is very ill and cannot do much.
Not until Phra Payyutto has read the whole book written by ‘a very famous respected Thera’ and done some research himself to confirm the information can he ‘officially clearly’ say that bhikkhuni ordinations are legitimate in the Theravadin tradition.
Another interpretation could be that the Sangha should be compassionate towards the bhikkhuni aspirants and thus try their best to seek all information before making a ‘well-informed’ decision.
The problem is most Thai monks do not bother to do such a research. Most of them think that they are compassionate, but they actually are only half-heartedly.
I’m sorry if my humble opinion might be interpreted as offensive.
If anyone is interested in seeing a scan of Phra Payutto’s letter, here it is:
With mega metta.
May I add that in my humble opinion, the only way to get bhikkhuni ordinations acceptable in the Thai Theravadin tradition is to present all the research done on the vinaya to Phra Payutto or a monk of a similar status.
When Phra Payutto formally validates the research and agrees that bhikkhuni ordinations are possible, everyone will readily accept bhikkhuni ordinations and that will be the end of the academic conflict Ajahn Chah’s disciples are facing right now. (The personal conflicts aused by jealousy or whatsoever could be solved only when the jealous party understands what Ajahn Chah taught.)
The problem is Phra Payutto is ill and should not be bothered. Also, he doesn’t have much time to do so many big projects at the same time.
My aforementioned opinion is based on a simple psychological fact. We, humans, are usually ready to believe what is said by the person we respect/admire. For instance, I believe in rebirth because Ajahn Brahm said so. (Though it is against what the Buddha taught 🙂 )
With much metta.
I can assure you that rebirth is not against what the Buddha taught. In fact rebirth is an absolutely essential part of the Buddha’s teaching – without rebirth there simply is no Buddhism. I suspect you have heard this from certain contemporay teachers (?). This shows me yet again the importance of always going back to the suttas to find out what the Buddha really taught.
Perhaps you would enjoy reading the suttas? I have been told that the translations into Thai are very difficult to read even for Thais. But the English translations by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi are easy to read and well-annotated with introductions and notes. Just a suggestion, but you may find it an eye-opening experience.
With much metta.
And Bhante Brahmali has a great talk on rebirth – will try to find the link for you Sister Dee. Not sure if the new site has all the old talks. Metta
Dear Bhante and Avuso Dheerayupa
If I may be so bold, I think Dheerayupa did not mean to say that rebirth is against what the Buddha taught. I think she most probably meant to say that her belief in rebirth is founded on what Ajahn Brahm taught, while the suttas recommended another epistimological approach to her saddha.
Dear Bhante Brahmali,
I’m sorry for my BIG omission, resulting in some misunderstanding. _/\_
What I meant was I should not believe in something simply because my teacher said so. (Kalama Sutta?)
However, thank you for your suggestion and I’m planning to start reading the Suttas translated into English. I agree with you that the Thai translation is rather difficult to understand.
Even the chanting is made to sound so sacred and beautiful that the gist of the chanting could be buried under the Pali-tainted Thai translation.
Thank you again, Bhante, for your kind advice.
However, even after reading the suttas, I will try not to wholeheartedly believe in rebirth (Don’t believe in books – Kalama Sutta) 🙂 . I will work harder on my meditaion and perhaps I will see it for myself that I have been born many times before.
With deepest gratitude.
You know me so well.
Looking forward to seeing you in person in June.
Much respectful Ajahns, I am not sure whether this is Bhikkhu or Ajahn as sometimes you are Ajahn Brahm and sometimes you are Bhikkhu in blog. Anyway, either one, may I have your permission to share my thoughts on the posted letter from Phra. I noticed in his letter a few points:-
Bear in mind, please feel free to correct me or scold me if you find that my points are inaccurate or perceived incorrectly, I take offence but I can be vulnerable to offence. I am taking the middle path in my points.
1. Phra is impartial in his letter on Bhikkhunis Ordination (hereinafter known as B.O.);
2. Phra did not make his personal opinion;
3. Phra did not represent any Sangha in Thailand;
4. Phra is not against B.O. if any particular Sangha wishes to go ahead with with B.O. Provided it is best informed and out of compassion while not spoiling the Dhamma Vinaya;
5. Phra gives the Sangha the liberty but his main concern is that the Sangha maintain the stability of the Sasana; and
6. Phra’s advice was a very open and liberal one and yet a very cautious one with prudence and wisdom required for B.O.
By this advice, you have his blessings in B.O. in Perth subject to his above advices, but it was not clear if he meant the revival of the Bhikkhunis Sangha, as it was not explicitly mentioned in his letter to you.
I am interested to know others views and explanation to have closure on this subject in the revival of Bhikkunis Sangha.
Thank you for the opportunity to point out my still poor understanding of this matter and to air my frustration over this matter with the hope to see a concrete solution for harmony and goodwill within us.
Yes, I believe he was excommunicated from WPP for giving the going forth to women! Dania, do you remember this being mentioned at the recent retreat?
It’s interesting that this doesn’t seem to be as widely known.
Hi Kancana, I do remember AB mentioning another monk being excommunicated, i forgot who. We have to listen to those retreat talks again:)
Ajahn Brahm’s Friday Night Talk: “TRUTH & TRADITION”
[audio src="http://media.bswa.org/mp3/Brahmavamso_2010_05_14.mp3" /]
Also, might take a peek at “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes or High” on Google Books pg. 47. Not directly related, but perhaps a timely reminder for when we’re engaged in difficult conversations and want to be as effective and compassionate (with regard to ourselves and others) as possible. It’s not only what we say or do that’s important, but how we say and do it. It’s easy to lose track of this perspective when we are caught up with trying to achieve a goal and the frustrations our struggles may entail, not to mention how others might respond and how we try to deal with their response. Hard enough to understand ourselves, let alone others. We make our best effort, with whatever peace and wisdom and kindness we can muster, but in the end whether we fail or succeed, the level at which people are able relate to one another is more important than their views. NOTE: I’ve never read the book (don’t read these kinds), and only know of it from an extracted quote so can’t guarantee it’s validity or usefulness.
More directly related, as mentioned in Ajahn Brahm’s talk, the Buddha said he never contends with the world, the world contends with him.
As in the Aranavibhanga Sutta, I appreciate the emphasis the Buddha gave (when speaking about what it is to extoll or disparage, section 8) to the action that is done or not done, rather than focusing on the person doing it. This does not imply evasion of responsibility for our actions, but reminds us that it’s just ‘action’ going on, a series of actions, not a ‘being’ in the ultimate sense behind it all, and so much easier for us to focus on where change can happen, and much easier for us to open our hearts and minds to others and their views, and to respond in a more effective way. There is no right or wrong way, just different degrees of effectiveness, based on what we want to achieve and our mental conditioning. As long as there is honesty, learning, forgiveness, and growth, we can use any situation for our long-term benefit and eventual liberation.
When our actions and thoughts change, we are changed ‘people’. Very liberating teaching which we can practice towards ourselves, and a liberating gift we can give to others.
The talk cuts through to the heart of another issue that is prevalent religion. That is merely performing a ritual or following a certain custom without knowing what is it really for, whether it is beneficial or create more suffering.
Some insist that Ajahn Brahm start to define his spiritual practice with a label/tradition as quickly as possible, as if one can’t be a Buddhist or practice the path without a label. The idea of tradition in Buddhism is a later invention. The way I see it, the monks belong to the sangha of Buddha. This is the sangha that includes all four directions, East, West, North, South. No matter where you are in the world. It’s great to see that people from different culture can get together at a Monastery to learn to transcend the limitation/dysfunction of the mind. How can we be awakened if we cling to our old mental patterns. I believe Buddha’s teaching is about liberation and transcending the limitations of the mind or going beyond it through meditation. When I think of Buddhism I think of liberation and freedom, instead of bondage to conditioning and blind obedience.
Some criticize Ajahn Brahm for not obeying or wait until he receives an order before doing what is clearly the necessary thing. When we want to change something that is dysfunctional , the excuse we always get is “Why not put it off until tomorrow”, and the next,next, day! People get uncomfortable when others address the various issues that are present in Buddhism. However, I believe that it is great that some are inquiring about the meaning and reason behind the practices that they do. That way they don’t waste time doing things that doesn’t take them any closer to Liberation.
Well put iMeditation.
Traditions are typical human constructs and are frequently misused by followers to massage their egos. Claiming superiority of their tradition results in hubris and inability to change. This leads to all sorts of conflicts within religions and without.
Take for example Japan’s justification of whaling as a national tradition in defiance of pleas by other nations. Anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd sent their ships to confront the Japanese whaling fleet resulting in rammings and one activist ship being sunk this year. One may question whether a national tradition immutable?
Sadly human nature being such, I don’t think we’ll ever see the number of traditions diminish. Rather the opposite will happen and Ajahn Brahm is very wise not to start another tradition. Enough is enough.
Very inspiring talk by Ajahn Brahm again 🙂
I really appreciate his emphasis on using one’s own judgement in the pursuit of truth instead of blindly following and copying rules and cultural context or to even blindly follow one’s teacher.
Thank you, Ajahn!
Yes, we all need to be guided by the Buddha’s own words to the Kalamas where the Buddha himself told the Kalamas to question the traditions, techers etc before accepting them as the truth.
Those who feel scared to question traditions, lineages, whether they are Thai or something else, should reflect on this great discourse given by the Master himself.
If I am not mistaken, the Buddha is the only religious leader to make such a bold statement – unshackle those chains even if they are made of gold!
It’s a very very fine line between inquiry and faith, as I understand it.
On the one hand, faith (saddha) is certainly a means by which a person can enter the “fixed course of rightness”, ie the saddhanusari. See the Kitagiri Sutta, MN 70 for a brief description of such a “faith follower”. Faith is in fact one of the 5 Indriyas (spiritual faculties), and I wonder if its role is not to tackle the Hindrance of doubt that blocks Jhana.
Yet there is no doubting that this Dhamma is also a Dhamma of enquiry and an experiantial one. The Cula-hatthipadopama Sutta, MN 27 traces the development of a trainee who keeps back from forming any inferential conclusion about the Buddha, even as he/she experiences each signpost on the Path, until he/she sees the 4 Noble Truths directly.
I think that until a person attains Arahanta, he/she will not really have any direct nana, but only an inferential one. Faith will be needed to support that inferential knowledge. Of course, once one enters the Stream, one’s faith in the Triple Gems becomes unshakeable. At that point, the Kalama Sutta probably becomes irrelevant to a Stream Winner. She can no more doubt than she could choose to believe – her faith is just a function of her attainment.
You said: “Of course, once one enters the Stream, one’s faith in the Triple Gems becomes unshakeable. At that point, the Kalama Sutta probably becomes irrelevant to a Stream Winner. She can no more doubt than she could choose to believe – her faith is just a function of her attainment.”
I’m wondering if it is a fraudian slip that you used the personal pronoun “she”. 🙂
Thank you for reminding us how important saddha is. At this moment, I’m grateful for knowing many wonderful kalayanamittata here on this blog. Thank you for helping me maintain my faith in the Buddha Nature in humanity.
Yours in dhamma,
I decided to give the female gender more prominence and dropped the “he”. 🙂
I noticed that AB has taken the Kalama Sutta out of context. It is a convenient way to lump everthing he doubts or disagree into this Sutta.He has generalized this Sutta. He has misinterpret it. This is my view of his generalization.
Not at all.
Here is athe Kalama Sutta as translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
Here is a discussion about how we can take the Kalama Sutta out of context, by Bhikkhu Bodhi:
As can be seen upon reading both of the above and carefully listening to Ajahn Brahm’s talk, he has not taken the Sutta out of context nor has he misinterpreted it.
Clearly the Kalama Sutta is something that would be very useful to those new to Buddhism who have not yet acquired faith in the Blessed One.
However it is equally clear that this sutta is useful for those of us who have acquired faith in the Buddha. For armed with this faith we can test out the Dhamma, investigate it as it manifests in our lives and experiences, question it carefully…but we – as those who have acquired faith – do so within the context of the Buddha Dhamma. Thus when question i don’t do it using my own preferences as a guide. I do so using the Buddha’s Dhamma as a guide.
Indeed this is what Ajahn Brahm is suggesting. He redefines ‘tradition’ suggesting that in looking at ‘traditions’ we often look at the outward labels, containers or manifestations; he suggests that we don’t look inside the ‘container’ to the ‘contents’. And what are the contents in a Buddhist container. They are non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusio. This is actually very specific to the Kalama Sutta and is exactly what Ajahn Brahm’s talk was about; thus your assertion that Ajahn Brahm was generalising is also incorrect. He was indeed quite specific, going so far as to use real, concrete examples to illustrate his points.
Furthermore, you state ‘It is a convenient way to lump everthing he doubts or disagree into this Sutta.’ I listened to the carefully to the entire talk and could not find a single point at which he does this.
Sincerely in Dhamma, wishing you well.
Not at all.
Here is the Kalama Sutta as translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
Here is a discussion about how we can take the Kalama Sutta out of context, by Bhikkhu Bodhi:
As can be seen upon reading both of the above and carefully listening to Ajahn Brahm’s talk, he has not taken the Sutta out of context nor has he misinterpreted it.
Clearly the Kalama Sutta is something that would be very useful to those new to Buddhism who have not yet acquired faith in the Blessed One.
However it is equally clear that this sutta is useful for those of us who have acquired faith in the Buddha. For armed with this faith we can test out the Dhamma, investigate it as it manifests in our lives and experiences, question it carefully…but we – as those who have acquired faith – do so within the context of the Buddha Dhamma. Thus when i question i don’t do it using my own preferences as a guide. I do so using the Buddha’s Dhamma as a guide.
Indeed this is what Ajahn Brahm is suggesting. He redefines ‘tradition’ suggesting that in looking at ‘traditions’ we often look at the outward labels, ‘containers’ or manifestations; he suggests that we should look inside the ‘container’ to see what the ‘contents’ are. And what are the contents in a Buddhist container. They are non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion. This is actually very specific to the Kalama Sutta and is exactly what Ajahn Brahm’s talk was about; thus your assertion that Ajahn Brahm was generalising is also incorrect. He was indeed quite specific, going so far as to use real, concrete examples to illustrate his points.
Furthermore, you state ‘It is a convenient way to lump everthing he doubts or disagree into this Sutta.’ I listened to the talk most carefully and could not find a single point at which he does this.
Sincerely in Dhamma, wishing you well.
Sorry again for the extra posts!!
Thank you for the above link. I would like to share my comments on this talk by AB.
I strongly encouraged people not to abolish traditions and cultures if they are wholesome and harmless but instead helped in one’s confidence, beliefs, well-being although they may appeared not making sense to some people, like AB.
For instance, AB mentioned about circumsition,baptizm rituals and for Thais, giving away new borns to monks. They are all symbolic. I view all these as harmless and wholesome although still bound in rites and rituals, but it each has its undelying goodness, wholesomeness, and benefits by their unconditional love for the newborns, perhaps out of wholesome desire,fear and lack of security.
According to Muslims, circumsition at birth may appeared a ritual to AB, but does he know that it is for hygienic reason (check out how many Muslims men have prostrate cancer compared to Western men).
To the Christians, baptizm ritual is giving one a sense of belonging and a sense of security in the parents (a psychological effect and well-being) that the baby is in God’s hands giving new parents confidence, relief and with this in their mind (as mind is powerful)it would helped them tremendously although it may look meaningless and silly to AB. Has he been a parent to know their fear and concern in bringing up new born?
Similarly, to the Thais in their ritual in “giving” their new borns to monks (symbolically), giving them a sense of confidence and protection thinking that their new borns are being blessed (a kind of relief and confidence) as they perceived monks brings good luck and holy. Thais are rich in culture and traditions but they are all wholesome and harmless and most of the time helpful (of course don’t expect them to be like monks and nuns) to householders.
AB, ARE ALL THESE RITUALS SO CALLED “TRADITIONS” HARMFUL OR HELPFUL TO HOUSEHOLDERS???
There was also one part where AB was indirectly “hitting out” at the Thai Elders in his story on the indegenious parent who forgive the other parent and regarded as worthy of an Elder.
I am not trying to be personal, but I do not know why I think that AB is portraying himself like an upper class and others as inferior, peasant mentality especially when directing at Asians. Is he trying to be a racist?
From my knowledge, I know AB is not an Australian, if I am not mistaken he is an English man. By his outspoken uncensored views and opinions of others critically and biasly, would make us have a bad impression not only towards him but to the Australian people, as he is representing the Australian Buddhist community and Sangha.
Personally, I find he is too critical of others, those whom he dislikes. That being said, I wonder whether his Jhana he is practising is the Right Jhana or the Wrong Jhana, as he seemed to still cling to his own views, likes and dislikes, defilements (irritation,anger,hatred and envy) and Ego.
I am not sure whether this is true or valid, but I heard that if one practised the Wrong Jhana, one would be deeply absorbed, indulged and engulfed by the Jhana as one wants to stay blissful there and do not want to get out of it, but that it does not help one to eradicate defilements or to help one to have Insight (wisdom) of Annica, Dukkha, Annata, as one is too bliss out there (like what AB said that “the bliss is better than sex”: what exactly is that? Is it a higher form of orgasm).
I came across this link about Jhana (full account of Jhanas) which I personally find it helpful in the knowledge of Jhana.
No offense. Just sharing my views.
Hi Edgar, do you think you like the traditions because you were brought up on them and they shape who you are? Who would you be without the traditions? Perhaps it’s attachment.
The reason i say this is because my father, (who isn’t buddhist) identifies with his culture and traditions. He has his sense of ‘self’ depending on them that is why if anyone says that traditions aren’t important, he gets very touchy and defensive since they are suggesting to abandon his attachments and ego: his traditions.
It is important to really see WHY you think traditions are important. I suspect it might be because they define who you are.
Your mention of the sense of ‘self’ reminds me of the TV series “Star Trek: Voyager”, in which a human, who was assimilated to become half-robot, was retrained to be a human by creating her human ‘identity’ and ‘individuality’. For a long time, I also was hopelessly drowned in that sense of ‘self’. (I’m still under this ‘self’ ocean.) This tradition of having a ‘self’ is deeply ingrained in human minds. The sense of self, in turn, creates needs for clinging to traditions, etc. The chain reaction goes on…
Ajahn Brahm once talked about a Singaporean who asked him to give a talk on deeper topics than dealing with problems in everyday life. He thus talked about Anatta, and the following day the same guy came to him and told him that he felt so uncomfortable that he could not sleep the previous night after learning that he did not have a self!
Clinging to traditions is fine as long as you know what they are really about. As a Thai, I can start a whole new thread to tell you about seemingly illogical rites and rituals and beliefs as well as traditions in our culture.
Hey, I keep coming back. Hard is the restraint of silence.
For me, the only tradition I disapprove is.. the tradition of criticism, sarcasm, insult, belittle and humiliation.
It looks to me like, respectfully, Ajahn Brahm, in most of his talks, is only propagating the tradition of:-
(All the Emotional Wholesome Qualities),
but… he has missed out the other
2. Patience &
3. Understanding (
(All the Non-Emotional Wholesome
Hi Dheerayupa, I don’t know thai culture but I do know polish catholic culture and my father’s sense of identity is totally based on him being polish catholic. it’s quite funny and sad. He keeps telling me, “don’t forget dania that you’re polish catholic” (which i’m not). But he must have his rituals of going to church just because he was raised like that not because of any deep beliefs. By having an understanding that clinging to traditions is an attachment, we can be more patient and tolerant towards other religions or views. However it is still important to point attention to where we form attachments so it can be easier to let go:)
However it is important that we challenge these old ways of doing things.
Personally, coming from the West, what I valued from the Dhamma is because it lessened suffering and brought peace and clarity to the mind. I then got faith in the rest of the Buddha’s teachings. However, the rituals put me off from Buddhism. I am saying this only because this might put other westerners off from Buddhism. There are many rituals that we Buddhists should re-evaluate whether they are useful or not. If they are not useful then we should chuck them in the bin. And if we don’t want to chuch useless traditions, then we should invstigate “why am i clinging to it?”
I agree with you on two counts and i disagree with you on two counts!!
1. Ajahn Brahm does talk a lot about Love,
Peace, Kindness,& Compassion!
2. Both groups that you’ve mentioned are certainly wholesome. 🙂
1. in my humble opinion…and I’d like to add…in my humble experience…both groups are referring to emotional experiences.
2. i’ve been listening to Ajahn Brahm speak for about 20 years now… He has not missed out: Tolerance, Patience and Understanding! And i’m pretty sure that 100s of others who have also been listening for 10, 20 years will be in agreement with me!
I would say that these two groups are intimately related and that one cannot have Love, Peace, Kindness,& Compassion without Tolerance, Patience and Understanding and vice-versa!
From 20 years of listening, questioning, observing Ajahn Brahm i can say that he practises what he preaches. He doesn’t claim perfection. In fact he claims to make mistakes. But he is a fantastic role model in forgiving himself and others…i believe he really does display metta to self and others without discrimination.
I guess you may have already listened to Ajahn’s talk on rites and rituals a few months ago and Bhante Brahmali’s talk on tradition.
There are many rituals in Thai Buddhism. Many people follow them blindly, but I might be a bit un-Thai as I always question ‘why’.
For instance, after making merits, we have a ritual of pouring water to share the merits with the deceased (our ancestors for instance). I think Ajahn Brahm said that the water helps you concentrate better on what you are doing – sharing the merits.
For many Thais, the ritual is not only for sharing the merits but also to receive the blessings from the monks. The tradition for this ‘water pouring’ ceremony is that you pour the water from a bottle onto a container, and if you can’t hold the water bottle, you have to touch the water container. And if you can’t, you have to touch the body of the person who pours the water. And if you still can’t, you have to touch the body of the person who touches the body of the person who pours the water. and on and on. So, when you go to a Thai temple, you can see a funny sight of people touching the person in front of them in the belief that they will receive the blessings from the monks!
Do I pour water after making merits? Not always. I will if it’s available as it is true that water can help me concentrate better on extending loving kindness and sharing merits to other beings. If it’s not plausible, I will just have to concentrate hard on my mind.
Just a little example of ‘interesting’ rituals in Thai Buddhism. BUT please don’t condemn the rituals; they may have hidden meanings that have been forgotten through time…
Warm loving kindness to you (no water pouring this time 🙂 )
Mistake: if you can’t hold the water bottle, you have to touch the water container.
Correction: if you can’t hold the water bottle and pour it yourself, you have to touch the water bottle.
If you can’t touch the water bottle, you have to touch the body of the one who pours the water,…
2. i’ve been listening to Ajahn Brahm speak for about 20 years now… He has not missed out: Tolerance, Patience and Understanding! And i’m pretty sure that 100s of others who have also been listening for 10, 20 years will be in agreement with me!
I’ve been listening to Ajahn Brahm for a bit over TWO years now 🙂 and I’ve listened to over 300 talks of his. I am in total agreement with Kanchana that Ajahn Brahm has not missed out on the topics of tolerance, endurance, patience and knid understanding at all.
I can’t vouch that Ajahn Brahm walks the talks as I am not as lucky as Kanchana for living in a most wonderful city in the world, but I’m more than sure that he is a very good human being, if not yet an Araya.
Personally, I love the “kruat nam” ritual. It’s a very beautiful ceremony and it allows the participants to have a very powerful relational device to “see” merit.
Plus, the Commentaries claim that the countless kruat nam ceremonies performed by the Bodhisatta (our Buddha) allowed all that water to accumulate in Mae Thoranee’s tresses that He was able to rely on his punna (symbolised by the water) to wash away Mara’s hordes.
As an allegory, that really stands up there as a moving testament to good kamma!
I, too, like ‘Kruad Nam’ rituals. For one thing, I like water. 🙂
It is a beautiful happiness-promoting ceremony, but when we are earnestly poked and urged by people near us to touch the body of the person in front of us to ensure that we are blessed by the monks, it’s a bit difficult to remain unaffected by their blind clinging to the rituals.
I know, Sylvester, I need to practice harder on metta.
With Metta 🙂
You do not have to agree with me, if you don’t agree.
I find that those lay people who are still practising rites and rituals have different levels of understanding (of the Dhamma) & not so fortunate as you people who are literate and educated, but I find they are more honest, pure in heart, simple and happier than us, and not any inferior than us.
They did not abuse Buddhism like some of us who, go about doing business with Buddhism like phychotherapist, writing books on Buddhism and copyright them for sale etc using Buddha’s principle to do business for their own gain and reputation.
Therefore, imo, those with rituals are more straightforward and truthful people.
No, I don’t have to agree with you if I don’t, BUT I do 🙂 though not totally.
I admit I sometimes get irritated by people who follow rituals so blindly and ‘criticise’ others who don’t strictly conform with the tradition.
But I’ve also seen some people who don’t understand the reasons behind the rites and rituals, but they have a beautiful heart and strong faith to practice dhamma.
I’ve met some at Wat Pah Nanachat; they are elderly laywomen with a big heart. They don’t understand the deep dhamma. They even don’t understand much of what the western monks said, but they are so kind-hearted. You can feel ‘metta’ radiating from them.
I know that those ladies are not reading this blog, but may I express my gratitude to them for their mega ‘metta’ to a stranger they’ve just met.
With gratitude to the dhamma and those who practice dhamma.
Hehe. Nothing like a 5 day Songkran thrashing to cleanse the cupboard of anger, ill-will, pent up frustration and anxieties. How did it get from small ritual using a cup of water to become such a big water battle extravaganza? Dee do you know? Not sure it has a rightful place in Buddhism but it sure works for me! hehe.
Bud wrote: “They did not abuse Buddhism like some of us who, go about doing business with Buddhism like phychotherapist, writing books on Buddhism and copyright them for sale etc using Buddha’s principle to do business for their own gain and reputation.”
That is one way we can choose to interpret other people’s intention and project on to them. Personally, I believe that bookstore like Borders, Barnes & Noble, online stores like Amazon, and other big bookstores around the world are places where a lot of people would go to when looking for books to read. It would be a loss to many if dharma books are absent in these outlets of distribution. For people that have never heard of the Buddha’s teaching, they might not go to a Buddhist monastery to look for a good dhamma book to read. These bookstores are also great outlet for distribution . And I believe that can also be the reason why some decided to distribute their dhamma books through these outlets . I for one am grateful that great books are made available in these places. If it was printed out and only kept in the monastery to be given out when someone visit, be distributed locally , or put on the website as free pdf I would never have the opportunity to read and benefit from Ajahn Brahm’s book. My first encounter with his teaching is in a local bookstore. I would have missed out on this rare book if it was not made available in these outlets. It would have been a great loss to me. So I wouldn’t recommend great Buddhist authors (ie..Thich Nhat Hanh,Dalai LLama,and many others) to pull their book from the bookstores around the world, because it can be the source of dhamma for many people who doesn’t know about Buddhist monastery. Like Dania mentioned, the robe and shaved head can seem strange to people in various countries. These books in the bookstore can be their first encounter to Buddhist concepts instead of from the monks at the monastery or their Buddhist websites. So for the sake of these people, I don’t recommend people withdrawing dhamma books from all the bookstores around the world.
Sometimes if we have been the victims of racism, it is easy to view every criticism that somebody who is different from us makes, as a racist one. Thus we become a bit racist too. We slowly become unable to hear any criticism from these people because whatever they say is seen to be a racist comment against us.
I know what it’s like to experience racism. I know what it’s like to feel that I’m extremely different to those around me and to view those around me as also being acutely aware of that difference. It’s an alienating, painful feeling.
So I know what the opposite of that feeling feels like. Because I have experienced the opposite too. I know what it feels like to be surrounded by many different people and to feel a sense of comradeship and peace. This is how I feel about being a member of the Buddhist Society of WA. This is how I feel when I talk to, question and listen to Ajahn Brahm. The reason he has such a wide, diverse following, an international following, is because he goes beyond all the external labels. That’s why we can sit in front of him listen to him tell a usually awful (in the sense that it’s rather corny, harmless and funny) joke at our expense and still laugh! We know it’s a joke. But more importantly we know him well enough to know that he is one of the most loving, caring, kind beings we are ever likely to meet. He never claims to be perfect but he’ll talk to anyone, receive any question and is open to being challenged. I’ve seen him change his mind when someone questions something he’s said because he takes on board the new information they’ve presented him with.
Thus I turn to the examples you have mentioned from his talk. Upon receiving such information my informed (because I know him a bit) guess is that he would agree with you and may be even thank you for telling him something he didn’t know. (In particular I’m referring to the information you’ve presented about circumsition; I never knew about the prostate cancer statistics.) I’ve heard him say to people, ‘oh, I didn’t know that’. That’s how he works. Never thinks he’s perfect. Questions but is also open to being questioned.
These examples you’ve mentioned…well that’s what they are…examples; Ajahn often uses stories and examples and even jokes to make a point. It’s a technique known and used by any effective teacher of any discipline. Edgar, they way you’ve stated things, it sounds as if this is all the talk was about!! I’m glad I actually listened to the real talk and got it from his mouth. It seems to me that you have got a little hung up on certain aspects of this talk. I suggest that something hurt you and instead of seeing what aspect of your ego was injured, you blamed the speaker who had no intention at all of hurting you. No offense, that’s my perception of your motivation.
‘I strongly encouraged people not to abolish traditions and cultures if they are wholesome and harmless but instead helped in one’s confidence, beliefs, well-being although they may appeared not making sense to some people, like AB’.
The only thing that you got wrong in this statement are the words ‘like AB’. Because if you listen carefully he is in full agreement with you…only he is more specific about what ‘one’s confidence, beliefs, well-being’ is…he is very specific and basically states that well being is love, peace, compassion and caring. I strongly agree with you that if a Buddhist tradition fosters ‘confidence, beliefs’…that is, faith in Right View…then we should uphold it. I fairly confident that Ajahn Brahm would agree too.
It’s interesting that you’ve referred to him as an English monk. I once heard him say that his home is where he is; that when he’s in Singapore, the lovely folk there are his family and friends; when he’s in Perth that is his home; when he’s in Thailand that is his home; when he’s in England those who are there are his friends and family.
Dear Edgar you have completely misunderstood the story in this statement:
‘There was also one part where AB was indirectly “hitting out” at the Thai Elders in his story on the indegenious parent who forgive the other parent and regarded as worthy of an Elder.’
Ajahn Brahm was using the word ‘Elder’ as it is used in Australian Indigenous society, not as it is used in Theravada societies!! When he said that this man became an Elder he meant it literally, not symbolically. Being an Elder in Australian Aboriginal culture is a position that commands respect and provides leadership within that community and is often a point of liaison between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal culture. You’ve read too much into it and I suggest that is because you have a predisposition to view anything that comes out of Ajahn Brahm’s mouth as being harmful and incorrect. This is obvious from your post; your post shows that you have chosen to focus on a few aspects of the talk and have ignored the vast bulk of the talk and thus has successfully missed the main point of the talk which was that, to paraphrase Ajahn Brahm, we need to get behind/beyond the layers getting to the core of what we share with our each other as humans: love, compassion, freedom, peace, these are things we can all rely on.
It takes immense fearlessness to criticise one’s group, one’s tradition. That sort of courage comes from a heart that is confident in the Dhamma. The man radiates loving kindness and when he’s not doing that he’s just a very quiet, certain, equanimous monk. I’m fairly certain you’ve never given him a real chance, never met him or challenged him in person.
Wishing you well in Dhamma.
I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful reply to Edgar’s post. I’ve never met Ajahn Brahm, but I have been listening to all of his talks for the past several years. The Ajahn Brahm you described matches perfectly with the Ajahn Brahm that I’ve gotten to know through those mp3 recordings on my ipod. He is such a wise and loving teacher, and I don’t know how anyone could have had the heart to attack him. (Edgar: By attacking, I am not referring to your post.)
That is why the whole incident after the Perth Ordination has been very painful to me. Luckily, I have this website to come for support and information. I sincerely thank Bhante Sujato and the fellow bloggers. Sorry that I’ve never written anything here before, but I cherished many of the posts I read.
This whole incident has also allowed me to be better informed about Thai Buddhism and the various teachers in the Forest tradition. I don’t think I should be wasting any more time. Instead, I plan to be flying to Perth for the 9-day retreat with Ajahn Brahm this November. It is a long journey from Boston to Perth, but I am really really looking forward to it. Maybe I will see you there!
I also know Ajahn Brahm from his talks. I am sure that he is truly a good compasionate monk because Ajahn Brahm’s teachings on dhamma has been constant in all the 300+ MP3 I’ve listened (except those when he taught the monastics – they are more focused on ‘renunciation’ and contain no jokes).
Kanchana and Dania are truly lucky. Continue practicing good kamma, dear dhamma friends!
I hope I can get a seat at the November retreat in November too!
If the flight from Boston to Perth is a little too daunting, might you wish to try the upcoming retreat in Chiang Rai, Thailand between 12 June to 19 June?
It’s organised by the Buddhist Fellowship from Singapore and will be held on the grounds of the Le Meridien Chiang Rai. Don’t worry about being overwhelmed by the 5 cords of sensual pleasures of the resort – you’ll get over it within a day or 2.
Here’s a link to the Buddhist Fellowship’s page on the retreat –
May I add that ‘surprisingly’ staying at a five-star hotel did not promote indulgence in sensual pleasures when I attended AB’s retreat in Hua Hin last year. On the contrary, it freed me from physical annoyances, which usually occur when staying in a very basic accommmodation at a forest monastery in rural areas of Thailand.
Hope to see you in Chiang Rai, na ka.
Indeed, dear Dheerayupa.
It’s very skilfull of Ajahn Brahm to take advantage of that sutta teaching about manasikara constantly drawing us away from the present moment, if external conditions are just too harsh for us poor gahapatis to ignore. The “surprise”, as you put it, is why our minds do not get drawn by the subha aspects of the resort instead.
Dear Jun Pan,
I’m so glad if anything i may have said has helped you. So thank you kindly for this feedback.
I too felt pained to see how misunderstood and mistreated Ajahn Brahm was by others. I don’t pretend to know him very well but i have been ‘around’ for the past 20 years and i consider it to be my great good fortune to be able to refer to him as my teacher. It’s wonderful that you’re able to listen to him from all the way over there…I remember when one of the BSWA past presidents first suggested putting the talks online…it was a really good idea… 🙂
It is amazing that you will fly such a long way to come to Perth. All that effort…all that good kamma! Even the intention itself is so wonderful! 🙂 🙂 I hope you make it and yes, maybe i will see you here! 🙂
Much metta 🙂
Hi Kanchana, dheerayupa, and Sylvester,
I am sorry that I saw your replies only just now! I hope that you didn’t think I was being rude. Let me explain…
After posting the reply back in May, I came back to the website several times to search for my own posting, but was not able to find it. So I thought it didn’t go through and decided to let it go. What a surprise to know (only with a four-month lag) that my reply was actually posted and thank you so much for your warm replies!
By now, I am not sure if you will be able to read this. In any case, I just wanted to let you know that I am coming to Perth very soon. In fact, I managed to get into both the Singapore retreat in late October and the 9-day retreat in early November. So all of your suggestions and encouragements somehow worked their way into the final outcome!
So Kanchana, I’ll be in JG for over three weeks and look forward to seeing you in person. And dheerayupa: I hope that you also got into the November retreat? And finally, Sylvester, will I see you in the Singapore retreat?
ps, this time, I checked the box “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.”
I’ll see you in Perth!
You are so very lucky. Well, lucky in that you have made a wonderful decision to attend Ajahn Brahm’s retreats and that you have succeeded in securing the seats! I’m truly happy for you. 🙂
I was thinking about attending the BF’s October retreat, but… I’ll have to be content with waiting another 9 months for the June retreat. Or, if things go well for me, I might be able to go to Jhana Grove in April. 🙂
Wish you peace and happiness.
With mega metta,
Just seen that you are going to Perth, too. Good for you!!!
Please give His Emptiness three lowest bows on my behalf. _/\_
Your wish is my command!
The link you provided may well be a good one…I have a lot of respect for Ven Gunaratne and I believe that he and Ajahn Brahm have much mutual respect and metta for each other. This is my informed guess.
Your question: ‘ “the bliss is better than sex”: what exactly is that?’ I suggest the only way to know the answer for sure without any shadow of a doubt is to experience it for yourself. The teachers only point the way. I suggest, as the Lord Buddha advised to the those with little faith, the Kalamas, that we test out their teachings. Since we’ve got a lot more faith than the Kalamas did (at the start, by the end they seemed to have lots of faith) we’ll probably have more confidence and energy in what we’re doing and have a fair chance of being in a position to answer such questions for ourselves. I believe this is exactly what Ajahn Brahm is suggesting at the end of his talk.
sorry for the double post!! i tried to stop it going through the first time to change the end but it went through! anyway…it’s time to meditate! 🙂
The link you provided may well be a good one…I have a lot of respect for Ven Gunaratne and I believe that he and Ajahn Brahm have much mutual respect and metta for each other. This is my informed guess.
Your question: ‘ “the bliss is better than sex”: what exactly is that?’ I suggest the only way to know the answer for sure without any shadow of a doubt is to experience it for yourself. The teachers only point the way. I suggest, as the Lord Buddha advised to the those with little faith, the Kalamas, that we test out their teachings. Since we’ve got a lot more faith than the Kalamas did (at the start, by the end they seemed to have lots of faith) we’ll probably have more confidence and energy in what we’re doing and have a fair chance of being in a position to answer such questions for ourselves. I believe this is exactly what Ajahn Brahm is suggesting at the end of his talk.
🙂 On that note…I’m off to meditate!!! 🙂
On your concern on Jhana, the late Ajahn Chah talked a little of it in his Book “A taste of freedom” (On Dangers of Samadhi). Part of it, like here :-
“Samadhi is capable of bringing much harm or much benefit to the meditator..”
“That which can be most harmful to the meditator is Absorption Samadhi (Jhana), the samadhi with deep, sustained calm. This samadhi brings great peace. When there is peace there is happiness,when there is happiness, attachment and clinging to that hapiness arise. The meditator doesn’t want to contemplate anything else, he just wants to indulge in that pleasant feeling.”
“We must use Upacara Samadhi. Here, we enter calm and then, when the mind is sufficiently calm, we come out and look at outer activity(refers to all manner of sense impressions. It is used in contrast to the “inner inactivity” of absorption samadhi i.e. jhana, where the mind does not “go out” to external sense impressions). Looking at the outside with a calm mind gives rise to wisdom.” – Ajahn Chah pg 18,19.
All d best.
Hi Yoh, In order to give your opinion about jhanas and it’s usefulness you must know what you’re talking about i.e. experienced jhanas and be enlightened so that you can know about their function in the path.
The main teacher is the Buddha. Buddha says that he only recommends 4 types of meditation: first, second, third and fourth jhana. Everywhere in the suttas the buddha talks about jhanas jhanas jhanas. Just open up a sutta and see for yourself. In the Digha it’s everywhere! There is NO doubt that the Buddha taught jhanas and it’s essential nature.
The buddha never mentioned ‘upacara samadhi’
Perhaps Ajahn Chah is talking to non-returners who already have jhanas and have a level of enlightenment so he just wants to take them to that last step of arahant? But I am assuming that most people would like to at least see the Dhamma first and having pleasure in meditation is good in (Pasadika sutta). As the Buddha said in the Pasadika Sutta (DN 29), four things can be expected, four benefits, from practising the jhanas: the four stages of Enlightenment.
I used to be intractably opposed to the concept of “upacara samadhi” – dismissing it as nothing more than a Commentarial invention. This, of course, made it rather difficult for me to fully accept Ajahn Brahm’s travelogue of the Jhanas, what with its resort to nimittas and upacara samadhi.
My position has changed, even since I found the canonical/sutta references to the nimittas and upacara samadhi. The latter is found in suttas such as the Upakkilesa Sutta, MN 128 where we have the Buddha himself describing to Ven Anuruddha his pre-Enlightenment experience with nimittas! As Ajahn Sujato has pointed out previously, the suttas simply use a different nomenclature – calling them “perception of light and a vision of forms”.
As for upacara samadhi, I found a sutta in the SN’s Mahavagga where a clear distinction is drawn between development of a mind free of the nirvaranas and the development of Jhana. That sounds very much like the Commentaries description of upacara samadhi.
sounds good Sylvester, very good of you to have reference! 🙂 I remember hearing Ajahn Brahm encourage that we must know samadhi (jhana) first before knowing what’s right before jhana (neighborhood/upacara samadhi). That made sense. But the main point here is not to aim for upacara, since we don’t know what upacara is without having experienced jhana. It seems that aomw people take upacara as an excuse not to experience jhana.
Diana Wrote :”Perhaps Ajahn Chah is talking to non-returners who already have jhanas and have a level of enlightenment so he just wants to take them to that last step of arahant?”
I also believe that this is the case.
But what is the consequences of attachment to Jhana anyways ? It just means that you can’t go pass the stage of Non-Returning ( Anagami). You might end up in the Pure Abode and practice to become an Arahant from there. Also you never have to come back to be reborn on earth again. I wouldn’t worry so much about attachment to Jhana until after actually experiencing jhana.
Some feel that Jhana absorption doesn’t produce liberating insights. However, it has been pointed out that after emerging from a Jhana, it is the best time to contemplate Suffering, Impermanence,and Non-self. When the mind is still restless, and filled with other hindrances it is not easy to penetrate these concepts. Right after a jhana, the hindrances are still pretty tamed. Jhana is conducive to wisdom/ liberating insights, instead of hindering it. In a way, insight is a by product of Jhana.
It’s lovely to see such engaging discussion on the Jhanas.
I just want to add a comment on Ajahn Chah’s talk regarding Absorption Samadhi and its danger.
This brings us to face squarely the issue of Tradition – should the elders of WPP prefer Ajahn Chah’s comment about the perils of Jhana or should the Suttas be the “gold standard” reference point?
As the preface to one of the anthologies of Ajahn Chah’s talks acknowledges, Ajahn Chah does sometimes use terminology in a way that does not conform strictly with standard Buddhist discourse. Should we not acknowledge that, no matter how great a monk and teacher he was, some of Ajahn Chah’s divergence from the Suttas are simply the product of his exposure to Commentarial Buddhism floating “out there”?
As a wandering forest monk, Ajahn Chah’s opportunity to be exposed to textual Buddhism would by necessity be very, very limited. I seriously doubt if any of his hagiographers would have us believe that he acquired an eidetic memory of the entire Tipitaka during his early Nak Tham studies.
So, how much of his views on Absorption informed by the general breadth of the suttas, and how much by the portable primers that were a tudong monk’s sole textual resource?
I have heard in a Dhammatube video (either by Ajahn Sujato or Ajahn Jayassaro or another) that at his meeting with Ajahn Mun, Ajahn Chah expressed his frustration in being able to cope with the Vinayaic and Dhamma minutae. The former from a Thai commentary and the latter from the Visudhimagga.
If the Visudhimagga was correctly attributed as being a source of Ajahn Chah’s Dhamma headache, perhaps that might explain why some of his discourses continued to be influenced by Commentarial concepts such as the danger of “clinging to Jhana”. His warning about peaceful states sounds just like the Commentarial caution against the Vipassanupakilesa of Passadhi.
Is this consistent with the general tenor of the Suttas? I can’t pretend to have covered the Anguttara, but my readings of the other 3 old Nikayas have yielded only ONE sutta that warns of the danger of being attached to Jhana, versus the hundreds (if not thousands) that extol Jhana.
I think we should try to have the courage to acknowledge that even esteemed teachers will have different capacities to teach, and this capacity is conditioned not just by their spiritual attainment, but also by the breadth of their socio-didactic conditioning.
I’m extremely hesitant to make any kind of comment about jhanas… I feel a bit of a fraud saying anything as i’m simply not qualified to do so…
However if i may very humbly suggest the possibility that Ajahn Chah may have been referring to someone or someone(s) in his audience at the time that this talk was actually given?
Possibly this person or persons ‘had’ jhanas in the sense that they knew intimately and almost habitually and therefore easily the path to access these profound states. My suggestion is that Ajahn Chah was referring to someone who was an expert in attaining these states.
For those of us still working with the preliminary stages of purification, understanding and renunciation, i suggest that to suggest to us that we must not get attached to something that we don’t know the path to, that we don’t know the feel of, is to close that path off to us forever.
It is the very idea of the jhana that hangs like a carrot or reward over my head. Yet the closer i get, the more i have to release my attachment to that idea.
I think Ajahn Chah was talking to those who were very familiar with jhanas…not to the likes of me…to people who were able to understand very deeply what he meant. I’m still a person who is trying to look in the right direction…which direction is this elusive jhana…’am i going that way? Once i’ve got the direction correct, i might see it in the distance…even at this point, if i let go of my attachment to my goal…i’ll never reach it… But as i get closer…as i’ve reached it…again and again…get to know it…become familiar with it…so that i have a mind that is frequently free of hindrances…a mind that sees clearly…then i feel and hope the teachings on non-attachment come flying home to me…releasing me from my bondage forever… 🙂
Possibly the most important thing i’ve understood about meditation from listening and testing out Ajahn Brahm’s teachings on the path to jhana and insight…
…is that – as Ajahn Brahm says – these are stages of letting go…
you can’t get attached/cling if you are letting go
the closer you get…the more you let go
at each stage you let go of something more…i suggest Ajahn Chah was trying to get someone or someones to ‘do’ the ultimate letting go…
…so much for being hesitant to say anything about a topic i know so little about… 🙂
May I complete the sentence that Yoh has not completed?
“Samadhi is capable of bringing much benefit or much harm to the meditator. For one who has no wisdom, it is harmful, but for one who has wisdom it can bring real benfit, for it can lead to insight…
“There can be right samadhi and wrong samadhi. Wrong samadhi is where the mind enters calm and there’s no awareness at all… This is a deluded type of calm, because there is not much awareness… Samadhi can be an enemy at this level. Wisdom cannot arise because there is no awareness of right and wrong.
“With right samadhi, no matter what level of calim is reached, there is awareness… This is the samadhi that gives rise to wisdom; one cannot get lost in it… This kind of samadhi has no danger.”
Sadhu _/\_ Sadhu _/\_ Sadhu _/\_ .
May I copy what Ajahn Chah said about the Power of Samadhi?
Background: Ajahn Chah was describing his “Spontaneous Combustion” experience: when his mind unified in Samadhi.
“When your practice reaches the stage that I’ve been describing, afterward the whole world is turned upside down. Your understanding of the reality is completely different. Your view is utterly transformed… This level of Samadhi is at its ultimate… If you were to switch to vipassana meditation at this pointm the contemplation would be uninterrupted and insightful…”
I did not expect my reply to Edgar on Jhana would generate so much controversy on Jhana. I want to clarify here that, it did not reflect my view of Jhana,it was purely meant for sharing as i personally had no experience in Jhana, so I couldn’t dwell in it but i trusted it based on my trust and faith in Ajahn Chah’s strict practice and meditation achievement.
However, i have also heard from another Meditation Master that the Absorption Jhana could overpower the practitioner (if not properly guided and taught by experienced meditation teacher)in that emotions would be amplified and magnified (perhaps, emotions and feelings become very sensitive and clear due to the deep concentration/samadhi)and it could become one extreme which would be more harmful to the practitioner as one would would be overwhelmed by it (Perhaps this was meant by the Danger of Samadhi described by Ajahn Chah).
Buddha actually wanted us to take the Middle Way from the two extremes to become sorrowless and stainless to see things as they really are or the reality of existence (Samsara)without clinging to emotions or non-emotions (my unenlightened understanding of the Middle Way).
So, i think too much of emotions although wholesome may be considered as one extreme and without it another extreme.
My explanation may be misleading or misinterpreted as i am not good in explaining, so i have search for a good link here:-
[audio src="http://bhavana.us/mp3/TheMiddlePath04.04.09.mp3" /]
for a better explanation and would like to leave you with this, for your own interpretation of Ajahn Chah’s “Danger of Samadhi”.
Yoh wrote: ” emotions would be amplified and magnified (perhaps, emotions and feelings become very sensitive and clear due to the deep concentration/samadhi)and it could become one extreme which would be more harmful to the practitioner as one would would be overwhelmed by it ”
When others talked about being sensitive in relation to jhana , I believe they might be refering to sensing other’s feelings. For example, if you get into a dispute with someone, usually you might or might not understand why the other person acted the way they acted. But in the case of jhana, you might be sensitive enough to sense the how the other person feels and understand why they might have done what they did .
Jhana enables you to transcend feelings by letting go of identification with it, instead of being engulf by it.
In the Sathipatthana Sutta the Buddha taught four focuses for mindfulness for people to contemplate after a jhana :
4. Objects of mind
These are the four major aspects that we often believe make us who we are. So after a jhana when mindfulness is still strong, we then direct this strong mindfulness on each of these four aspects in order to unravel the illusion of the self. Jhana prepares the mind for successful practice of Satipatthana , in which you penetrate the the nature of FEELING, body, mind, and mental objects as non-self. Jhana gives you the tool to beyond/ transcend feelings instead of being overwhelmed by it.
If you read the sutta, you will find that it is difficult if not impossible to experience Once-returning, Non-returning, and Arahantship without jhana.
My apology for my poor explanation that caused you to misinterprete me on Jhana. If I am not mistaken, Buddha emphasized on the Right Jhana for enlightenment(no dount about it). The four Jhanas are the essence of Buddha’s Teachings as frequently mentioned in the Suttas.
What i meant earlier was, Ajahn Chah could mean like this- There would be danger of being drawn or submerged into the pleasures or deep peace of Jhana and refused to do any other thing (as what Ajahn Chah described) and not coming out of it to do Satipathana like what you mentioned ( is like, Working = doing Satipathana to see the characteristics of Anicca,Dukkha,Annata vs. Relaxing = peace, tranquility,bliss in Jhana ).
Of course it is nothing wrong with that if one chooses to be in deep peace or bliss.
By nature, we tend to incline to pleasure and peace than Satipathana i.e contemplation of the 3 characteristics via the 5 khandhas (like working vs relaxing).
I think that was what Ajahn Chah was trying to caution and i agree with that, if one wants to see the reality of existence over Peace (i.e.Tranquility) & Pleasures(i.e. Bliss) in Jhanas.
For an experienced meditator, they know how to do both the Samadhi & Vipassana(the contemplation), but for people like us, lay people, this is, i think what Ajahn Chah was trying to caution us.
Buddha is right. HE SAID, Our Mind has feelings,PERCEPTION,memory, volition,& consciousness; so we perceived things or ideas differently according to each of our perceptions due to our conditioning (to be corrected if wrong). I am learning from all of you.
I hope i am not making you more confused.
Hi Edgar, Instead of reading about jhana it’s best we just practice so that it can happen. But Edgar, when Ajahn says it’s better than sex it’s in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings that existence is dukkha. 5 senses are dukkha by their nature so any form of 5 sense activity is suffering compared to when they disappear, which is happiness. So even the most pleasurable form of pleasure in the 5 sense world is intrinsically suffering compared to when the 5 sense world disappears. It’s like shit, even the less smelly, is still shit and smelly compared to there’s no shit. So jhana is not a higher more intense form of shit, it’s just ‘no shit’ so ahhh it’s nice when there’s no shit 😉
By the way, you say he’s critical, by reading your post, it sounds your critics are very critical! Anyways, just take the advice from the talks that are useful to you. When you listen to a Dhamma talk, you’ll get most benefit from it if you are quiet in your mind rather than criticize or compare while he’s speaking. Take what you find useful from the talks. I find him a very humble peaceful kind monk and the talks are very peaceful to listen to.
Dania said: ‘ But Edgar, when Ajahn says it’s better than sex it’s in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings that existence is dukkha. 5 senses are dukkha by their nature so any form of 5 sense activity is suffering compared to when they disappear, which is happiness. So even the most pleasurable form of pleasure in the 5 sense world is intrinsically suffering compared to when the 5 sense world disappears. ‘
Perfectly said! 🙂
AB seems always to talk about the kind of sex which is greedy, sense-craving and basically using the other person as a masturbation aid. This is harmful to both people concerned and of course jhana’s are better than that.
There however something else about sex – there is always someone else there. There is another kind of sex which many committed couples know, which is about mutuality and presence, and definitely not about any kind of craving. Are jhana’s better than that? I don’t know that it’s a meaningful question. It’s like saying are strawberries better than finishing your tax return, or is waking up from a good night’s sleep better than a visit to the chiropractor or receiving a letter from an old friend or getting some new shoes. They are just completely different kinds of thing.
Perhaps it’s because it’s outside his experience (I don’t actually know), but I think it’s real pity that AB portrays sex in a constantly negative light, when what’s actually negative is the sense-craving and misuse of another person (and of oneself), which disappear in jhanas – and in the right kind of sex.
And the 5 sense world doesn’t disappear more than temporarily. That’s why sila matters.
There’s a lot more to life than dukkha, once you get over it. You’re left with Nagarjuna’s question: “What do you make of a life that won’t go away?” You can see that as a burden or an opportunity, a blessing.
I believe the idea is not to do something simply because it is tradition. Some might misinterpret that we meant to suggest people to abolish all traditional practices. Far from it, it simply means that we should understand the meaning behind whatever rituals / ceremony that we participate in or carry out. When it comes to taking up a certain spiritual practices, it is a good idea to understand if it will contribute to taking you further on the path. Which ritual or spiritual disciple to take up is entirely up to each person to decide, with proper understanding of the meaning and purpose behind it of course.
Edgar wrote: ” AB, ARE ALL THESE RITUALS SO CALLED “TRADITIONS” HARMFUL OR HELPFUL TO HOUSEHOLDERS???”
I am not AB, but I would like to say that if these rituals mean something to you then go for it. But I wouldn’t say that everyone else should have to do it if they don’t feel that it is helpful in their lives or spiritual practice, nor should they do it simply because everyone else have been doing it for generations. Rituals can be time consuming sometimes. Especially when it is something you have to carry it out on a regular basis (ie. daily, weekly, etc..) ,or when you take up a lot of rituals.
Personally, I would just skip many rituals that doesn’t contribute to taking you further on the path. After all, the Buddha prescribed enough of spiritual disciplines for his disciples to practice. For example, the precepts (5,8,10,and more) . There is also meditation (ie..walking, sitting..) and a lot sutras to learn. Just these alone would take up most of my time, the other practices would have to wait until I have time to get to it, if I have any time left at all.
Edgar wrote: “I am not trying to be personal, but I do not know why I think that AB is portraying himself like an upper class and others as inferior, peasant mentality especially when directing at Asians. Is he trying to be a racist?”
I don’t know why the other party seems to focus on the topic of race or East and West a lot. For example, some would repeatedly urge AB to clearly distinguish himself by setting up a Western Sangha that is separate from them because they want people to be clear that he is no longer a part of the Thai Forrest Sangha. Also, saying that Bhikkhuni ordination is a Western idea. In fact, this same controversy took place in another Eastern country long before this occurred. Not to mention that there are both Westerners and Easterners that are for or against Bhikkhuni ordination. I don’t understand why it some framed it in terms of East vs. West. I am supporting bhikkhuni ordination and I am actually Asian. Division of territory and border, this country, that country, East or West, all these have more to do with politics. Why do we have to bring these up repeatedly in a religious debate. Diogenes said in the 4th Century B.C. ” I am a citizen of the world.” I think it is a good idea to follow that example instead of identifying with this label and that label. Borders are man made, it is not something natural. Maybe that is why the Buddha didn’t establish the Sangha of India, he established the Sangha of Four Directions.
Edgar Wrote: ” I heard that if one practised the Wrong Jhana, one would be deeply absorbed, indulged and engulfed by the Jhana as one wants to stay blissful there and do not want to get out of it, but that it does not help one to eradicate defilements or to help one to have Insight (wisdom) of Annica, Dukkha, Annata, as one is too bliss out there .”
I believe he clearly explains that right after a Jhana , the 5 hindrances are still pretty suppressed. This degree of mental clarity is ideal for contemplating Annica, Dukkha, Annata. From there liberating insights can arise. It is difficult to see things as they truly are with the 5 hindrancess still present.
Edgar wrote: “(like what AB said that “the bliss is better than sex”: what exactly is that? Is it a higher form of orgasm).”
Just the first few stages can give rise to so much contentment that it makes worldly pleasures lose its attractiveness. However, the desire for sex can still have an effect on people. They may still want to leave the practice and go back to it. I believe he is trying to say that the bliss of jhana is even better than that. It can make the pleasure of sex lose its power over you, or appear not that tempting anymore when comparing to the bliss of jhana.
I know I will be disliked and unpopular here with my statement on cultures and traditions.
My critique is that traditions and cultures make us called ourselves “human beings” without which we are no better than animal beings who do not have traditions and cultures , and sometimes we are considered worse as we exploit,abuse and destroy this Mother Earth to feed our defilements. Cultures & traditions can help to balance our progressive desires.
I may be wrong in my statement, so I am open to criticism from you for us to explore ourselves to justify being called “humann beings” (in Pali = manusa).
It’s an interesting notion Bud…
I’d like to suggest extending your idea… 🙂 …by putting it within a Buddhist framework.
Let’s put your idea within the Buddha’s teaching on cultivating the wholesome. The ‘wholesome’ in Buddhism is that which leads in the direction of Enlightenment…that is, anything that will fit within the parameters of the 8 fold path.
Thus I suggest that we can draw a distintion between that which causes harm and that which does not cause harm. So some human traditions – such as female genital circumsision – causes great harm and fear. Others, like the festival of Holi…brings people together and generates comraderie and good feeling.
I also suggest a distinction between that which increases peace and that which does not. Thus the tradition of gyrating in a mosh pit is less wholesome than the tradition of chanting the Metta Sutta in front of one’s shrine.
I suggest that a distinction be drawn between that which increases wisdom and that which does not… Thus the ancient tradition of Bhikkuni Ordination would be better than say the tradition of killing one’s infant because it is not male.
What does the culture do? What does the tradition do? What are the effects (kamma) caused by following it…does it cause more pain or less? If it causes less then it may even lead to an animal birth…like those practises carried out by the Dog duty Ascetic in the Majjhima Nikaya…luckily for him the Buddha rescued him through the ‘new’ tradition He had just created…the ‘new’ tradition of taking refuge in Virtue, Stillness and Wisdom…that is the Triple Gem!!
Obvious stuff, but apparently it needs to be said. Good talk.
smiley face with the shades was meant to be 8.
Here’s the link to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s booklet; as posted by Ven. Brahmali in the thread on Buddhist Jokes. I didn’t want it to get lost there!! 🙂
Click to access revivalbhkni_final4.pdf
It’s really worth a read. It presents the case for and against Bhikkhuni Ordination.
Error: an intectual meaning = should be “an intellectual meaning”.
Thank you for that, Sylvester. So will I.
Bhante Sujato, do you think it’s bad kamma being born a woman? It seems that way since it would have been much easier to live monastic life and nibbana if one would be born a man. However personally I don’t think being born female or male is anything to do with wholesome or unwholesome kamma, it seems it’s just to do with tendencies. I don’t think i could have been born a man even though i would have liked to ordain. Anyways, someone just told me it’s just tough luck or bad kamma being born a woman and i’m starting to believe him! (yup, coming from a guy). Any insight into this?
Whenever a girl says to me that it’s easy being a man because you can just go to Thailand and ordain immediately, my rather poignant retort is “Yes, but then I’d be in a Thai monastery”.
The status of the male bhikkhu is so cheapened by the decadence, corruption and loss of the path (in most monastic circles – including, I would say, western) that it scarcely seems worth the bother.
The ‘correct’ reason to ordain, if there is one, is to associate with superior people, which is the start of the gradual training (‘superior person’ in the sense that they know a thing or two or four about suffering). The value of ordination here depends on the Bhikkhus actually being ‘superior people’ rather than just selfish men in robes.
There is the observation made by me, and at least also made by Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahm, that, women are often better spiritual practitioners than men – if only because women are conditioned to be nurturing, open to emotion and to have a sense of shame (which works better than the hard-man or tough-guy conditioning men get…)
In my life, as a man, I have more often than not relied on females as my spiritual guides, for me Ajahn Brahm is the single male exception (There are certain other Monks whom I admire and appreciate, but do not consider them suitable guides or role-models). While I do not believe even a single one of these women have been ariya-puggala’s (of course I could be wrong), they have at least had a sufficient sense of compassion, kindness and discernment to be very useful to me as companions.
Given this, for me, ordaining as a man, would be cutting myself off from the better half of humanity! This also for me is THE most important reason to make Bhikkhuni ordination a reality, because the robes are a powerful symbol of a teacher/guide, and some women make VERY good teachers/guides, and even if only for selfish reasons, seeking my own good, I would want good women in that role!
In fact, the only reason I pursue ordination, is because Ajahn Brahm has shown me what a great Monk can do for the world, I am, in effect, mandated to ordain by my gratitude towards Ajahn Brahm.
Can a woman be a Great Nun and do the same thing as Ajahn Brahm? Hell yes! If she developed the same wisdom and confidence as Ajahn Brahm, she could do just the same. For example Bhikkhuni Dhammananda has no trouble pulling in crowds and making people listen.
I USED to subscribe to the theory that being born a woman is slightly worse kamma, in the sense that a female birth might like winning a million dollars, and a male birth winning a million dollars and a lollipop.
I abandoned this theory after listening to Bhikkhuni Dhammananda, when, on his very topic, she talked about a sutta called “The five sufferings unique to women” (a sutta I was familiar with), anyway she says, one is “The pain of childbirth” and she said that, far from being painful, giving birth to her sons was the greatest bliss of her life! Her point was, that sutta was written by men who knew nothing about women!!!
She left unsaid that the vast majority of buddhist literature is a work of men. Given the certainty of bias, I decided it is better to have no views on this matter.
Dear Anagarika Blake,
May I beg to disagree with you in one trivial point?
“Can a woman be a Great Nun and do the same thing as Ajahn Brahm? Hell yes!”
Well, I’d rather say:
Can a woman be a Great Nun and do the same thing as Ajahn Brahm? HEAVEN yes!
🙂 🙂 🙂
Phew. It’s nice to hear another man say stuff like that. Thank you.
Dear Anagarika Blake,
Anagarika Blake wrote: ” In fact, the only reason I pursue ordination, is because Ajahn Brahm has shown me what a great Monk can do for the world, I am, in effect, mandated to ordain by my gratitude towards Ajahn Brahm.”
I thinks it’s great to be able to ordain under AB . He gives good guidance. We need more monks like that. I wish you the best on your path.
Being the devil’s advocate, I heard that Buddhist monastics at the time of the Buddha didn’t look that much different from non-monastics. Is this true? This is perhaps a question for scholars (or anyone who remembers a past life at the time of the Buddha:) Did laypeople at the time of the Buddha also wear robes or did they wear pants? If indeed monastics and lay people did NOT look totally different but rather monastics were just more simply dressed and weren’t ‘weird looking’, then is it necessary for monastics of our time to wear robes and shave their head? Especially in cold climates like Germany and Canada, a little bit of hair is important to keep the head warm!
I am not saying this because I’m against robes or shaven head (in fact the robes look quite comfy and it would be cool if we’d all wear them 🙂 I am just questioning this tradition. I am questioning this tradition because as a Buddhist traveling in Europe, other cultures looked upon the Buddhist monastic dress as ‘weird’ and because they thought it was weird, they were repelled and didn’t even want to listen to the teachings.
Some of my family ‘disowned’ me when i lived in a monastary because they just noticed the shaven heads and men in dresses (as one literally said). Because of this outer form, they did not even open their heart to the teachings and missed their chance in this lifetime to hearing the Dhamma.
Perhaps buddhism would have more of an impact if buddhist monastics “fitted in” to our modern culture? Now honestly, I do not have a preference, and actually I am attached to the current buddhist form, but I am questioning and re-evaluating this tradition if indeed it is the most useful outer form for gaining faith in laypeople. Also, is looking very different what the Buddha had in mind when he established the Vinaya or did they just look more simple?
Which outer form would encourage non-buddhists to hear the Dhamma and gain faith? Purety of conduct is imperative, but before you hear someone’s teachings or observe their behavior, you see a picture of the person and hear their name. When I tell my friends or family about “Ajahn Brahm” they just hear the name and see a baldy in a dress… and many don’t even play the cd because they think he’s a freak! I know Ajahn is not offended by me saying this, perhaps would just laugh:)
Does any monastic have a say on this?
This is very interesting…
I must say I love the sight of monks and nuns in robes!
It makes me think of the time of the Buddha and that makes me think of the Buddha and that makes me feel happy! That’s got to be a good thing and I doubt I’m alone in that so I say this is a tradition worth keeping because it increases faith and inspiration in that which is wholesome.
However, your points must not be ignored as they are very valid. Perhaps this is where lay teachers come in and after a while an introduction to a monk/nun might not seem so ‘weird’. What do you think?
Hi Kancana, hmm that’s a good point! The lay teachers can be the introduction and once they gain faith they will get joy upon seeing the robes representing the Buddha. But for those that were buddhists in a past life they will recognize and be familiar with the outer forms. I must say that I too feel lots of inspiration and happiness when i see monastics since they are following the path the Buddha recommended. I am happy that people are living monastic life and following the Buddha’s teachings! It brings a lot of joy and gladness. In fact, I think it’s really the only worthwhile thing to do in life. There’s nothing better to do then ordain and get out of samsara (if possibel!) 🙂 It also brings joy since they are rebelling against what the world is telling them: to get wealthy, own things etc etc. So yes I too like that tradition. However as i said in the first sentence, i was merely playing the devil’s advocate and challenging the pros and cons of this tradition. Also noticing the reaction of non-buddhists was saddening since they were preventing the outer form from being open to the teachings. For sure the robes look like they’re here to stay but it’s interesting to question them and understand what the Buddha had in mind, robes were common clothing perhaps at the time of the Buddha for laypeople too? Whereas pants are common clothing now. Dunno.
can you imagine ajahn brahm and bhante sujato in pants? nah, robes are better! it has an innocence to it, that they are not men nor women but monastics.
“can you imagine ajahn brahm and bhante sujato in pants?”
I’d rather not, that’s underwear in English! Trousers?
Pants/trousers/leggings require a lot more stitching and upkeep than robes, and they also have a tendency to make ones crotch or rump rather salient, depending on the posture taken, which seems to go against the purpose.
Furthermore, pants were originally invented for horseback riding, a mode of transport monks are not supposed to use (iirc). In ancient China, trousers were only worn by soldiers, and this theme of trousers only being used by those engaged in violent or heavy physical activity showcases that trousers are simply unnecessary for monastics.
I personally look at the monks’ robe as a uniform and it is a very simple and clever uniform. An admirable tradition to maintain…
However, I agree with you about the bald head in cold weather.
If a monk did not have to shave his head,… well, can you imagine Ajahn Brahm with his ‘doughnut’ look? 🙂
Please forgive me, Venerable Ajahn Brahm, for my inappropriate joke, but I believe you know where I get the image from!
“I personally look at the monks’ robe as a uniform and it is a very simple and clever uniform”
A monk’s robe does promote simplicity, because it means that they don’t have to chase after the latest fashion. They use clothing for the sole purpose of covering the body and keeping it warm. For that purpose, just a few pieces of cloth does the job. Also,it is easy for people to offer clothing to the sangha. Monks come in all shapes and sizes. The robe is like a one size fits all type of clothing. We don’t have to decide what size to get , and the answer to that depends on who is it for. The Buddha recommends that we should just offer it to the sangha without distinguishing who is it for.
I totally agree with you, but there is a trivial point I beg to disagree with you 🙂
“The robe is like a one size fits all type of clothing. We don’t have to decide what size to get.”
In Thailand, there are a few sizes for monk robes. We tell the vendors how tall the monk is and they give you the appropriate size. 🙂
As for one size fits all, Ajahn Sumedho jokingly told a story of him wearing ‘mini-skirt’ robes during his first years as a monk in Thailand. 🙂
What about when you just want to offer the robe to the entire sangha with no specific monk in mind ?
Dheerayupa wrote: “As for one size fits all, Ajahn Sumedho jokingly told a story of him wearing ‘mini-skirt’ robes during his first years as a monk in Thailand. :)”
LoL, that’s really funny when I picture it in my mind.
The fact is we usually choose which temple to go, so I would roughly estimate the size of the monks at that temple. For intance, if you want to offer robes to Wat Pah Nanachat, you should buy big sizes.
Ajahn Sumedho is really funny. He has told so many episodes about him being conceited and laughed at himself. That is why I respect him. He knew he was conceited. If he has not transcended his ‘big ego’ yet, at least he is a good monk who has been trying his hardest to follow the Buddha’s teachings.
For me, I would be extremely forgiving of “conceit”/Māna.
As a Higher Fetter, it’s one of the last 5 to be abandoned in a Non-Returner. Even the humility (one of the 3 kinds of Māna) of Hatthaka Alavaka was praised by the Buddha. As such, I tip-toe around any manifest conceit, as I can’t be sure that the manifestor may not already be an Anagami. 🙂
Dheerayupa wrote:”The fact is we usually choose which temple to go, so I would roughly estimate the size of the monks at that temple. For intance, if you want to offer robes to Wat Pah Nanachat, you should buy big sizes. ”
That’s a good idea Dheerayupa.
I wholeheartedly agree with you.
That is why I have great respect for Ajahn Sumedho. He realised he had been conceited and was not embarrassed to use his own mistakes as lessons to teach us.
I don’t know if he is enlightened or not, but I really respect him.
In the Buddha’s time, lay people and Monks dressed in a similar way (there are vinaya rules against wearing robes “in the manner of a lay person” – this should be borne in mind, a Monk should not be easily mistaken for a householder)
However the brown robes are also a spiritual ‘symbol’ of very deep power for some. For example, when I first saw Ajahn Brahm (on Youtube!), I thought “Wow! A Monk!” and was overcame by great happiness.
I feel, that when one IS different in desires, wishes, aims, intentions, to the average person, it is also helpful to APPEAR different. Otherwise people are even MORE challenged (and perhaps even offended) when they discover the person in front of them is a doppelganger.
For example, as a man, I want it to be absolutely crystal clear to women that I am celibate. In practice, I’ve found it makes things much easier. I used to be afraid of offending/hurting girls by being celibate (as in: having them know I’m celibate), but this turned out to be deluded thinking (what a surprise). In practice I’ve found things are much more straightforward when the matter is made clear from the start. In this regard, I’m sure wearing a dress is very helpful for emasculating my image.
Dear Anagarika Blake,
Sadhu to you for such a courageous step. The robes I find in no way emasculating. In fact I find monks to be quite masculine! Not in a sexual way at all. The robe removes any sexual element. Beyond the robes it is really the field of merit around the monastic that protects mind from any wandering to sexual thoughts – and the gentle mindful manner in which they interact with the world around them.
Removing any sexual possibilities is really liberating for women. One of the reasons we love to hang out with gay men. We can be totally free and natural – we feel safe and secure (there is rampant sexual violence in the world. so it is always a concern in the back of your mind as a female woving through Samsara) and not worry about all the complicated distractions that arise related to or totally unrelated to our natural behaviours. Being in the company of male monastics, provided of course the community is of integrity (I have not met one that isnt but we have heard they exist) is so utterly pleasant again because this layer of complicated social conditioning and communication – if one is mindful and respectful- is removed.
I find as a layperson, who has moved towards celibacy, again if my field of merit is good and samadhi strong, and I abandon my creative clothing Diva practices (which oddly has been more difficult than abandoning sexual activity. hehe. fabric and colour do give us energy. and the beings we interact with respond in certain ways skillful or unskillful to our appearance) then I can move through male company stress free as a celibate lay person. Alas, I am very blessed to live ina culture where this is possible. 98% of the female popolation does not have this freedom. It is a great blessing indeed.
In my experience the average man in a robe is not that much different from the average man not in a robe.
It is of course liberating to stop viewing a person in as a ‘sex-object’ (women are just as guilty as this as men – even if it’s starting with the assumption “he is a man therefore he wishes only to have sex with me. Only this is plausible and anything else is implausible”).
When a man puts on a robe, what changes dramatically, is not the man, but the filters through which other people see the man.
While still in my lay life, before I had any contact with buddhist monasticism (but did have some contact with buddhist teachings), I discovered I could leave out the lust from my feelings towards a woman, in brief, that I could love her without needing to posses her and without needing to obsess over distinctions (unconditional love).
This was immensely liberating, but it was a purely mental feat – and had nothing to do with the woman – she was still perfectly straight and sexual (in fact she’s one of the most gorgeous women I know) – I had simply changed my own attitudes towards her of my own volition, I changed the ‘filters’, and discovered this was sublime, this was liberating, this was blissful. That is – to not hold her gender or age or looks or anything against her.
I have seen – numerous times – women in monasteries who have a good attitude towards the monks and suspicious, paranoid attitudes towards the laymen (and even anagarikas/pahkows)
Of course such women have a more positive experience from the men-in-robes compared with the men-not-in-robes, not because the men are different, but because their attitude and actions towards the men are different.
namarupa, in brief, what we label a thing as based on it’s appearances, is a critical step in dependent origination, it is with namarupa (‘labeling bodies’) as a basis that all sorts of things, including feelings and infatuation with feelings, arise. If you ‘label’ a guy as ‘monk’, you feel ‘comfort’ around him, and become infatuated with that feeling. This process should be investigated.
Thank you for reminding us of “Ahipasigo’ (Encouraging investigation).
Thank you so much.
Men and women have both been stuck in the same dance for the last few hundred (thousand?)years. Since it has been men who’ve had the power and done the oppressing, it’s been up to them to remove the shackles and stop dancing the same old dance.
What is dispiriting is when I find perfectly liberated and intelligent women assuming that all men think of them as sex objects and then end up either treating themselves like sex objects in order to get men’s approval by doing what they imagine that they want, or shunning all men.
Or … taking a kind of revenge on men by disrespecting them, telling them they’re stupid, can’t multi-task and can’t live a proper life because they think of sex every ten seconds. I guess this treatment pales in comparison with what women have had to suffer for the last few thousand years, but it will only keep the situation stuck, not liberate it.
Even more dispiritingly, I haven’t just found these patterns of behaviour in “ordinary” life, but in “spiritual” circles too.
As they say, it takes two to tango. If we are going to dance a different dance, we are both going to have to change our steps.
Geez you Guys! Have I been going to the wrong monasteries or have I just missed all of this? hehe. Seriously! Must have been infactuated with Samadhi. Or they’ve been darned good monks in charge! Hehe. Probably a bit of both.
Give us the address!
Pooh David, You dont need the addresses. 🙂 I can tell you have found your way quite well and full of blessings.
I am back to say Dear Brother Blake, that your response deserves considered reflection. Mine was rather pat owing to another trip across the ocean, my first trip to Africa, where our dialogue would assume many hues and conditions so different from ours and diverse again depending on the country or religious background, etc. But this concern for stereotypes, bias, perceptions and how our interactions are shaped by them…and how to engage both men and women to as David says, release the bindings is dear to my heart. So…when I have a little more time I shall explain a little behind what I meant regarding female perception around these issues based on my work…and personal experience…suffice for now to say I do not assume “ALL MEN” to be anything homogeneous or have uniform intentions of any kind…and to say that I am in Canada…where my experience such interactions has been vastly different even from Europe or Australia…while my experience in monasteries around the globe have always been “safe” and totally free from this kind of agitation…I have been lucky, I am gathering from the comments…and from the events of late in the TFS…
Lisa said: “Pooh David”.
PS I’m serious. It would be great to find a monastery in Europe where they actually practice and it’s not just either a cult or a social club / holiday camp.
May you continue seeking, David. I too have reembarked on such a journey. It is not so easy. Leaving a Sangha family is like leaving a giant, virtual Sima.
Thay says once you leave you are like a tiger that has left the safety of its mountain…but I believe if we continue on sincerely, our motivation is sincere, and we are seeking out of love for all beings and ourselves…we will not be disappointed.
Yeah, I’ve never really agreed with Thich Nhat Hanh on that. Sometimes you have to leave home.
Pooh David as in lighthearted nonsense. I should know better! Cross cultural ambiguities …ahem…I associate Pooh with Pooh Corner…yes yes to your comment about leaving home…Metta _/\_
No cross cultural confusion here. I was thinking of “Winnie ther” too. The game of Pooh sticks came to mind. I’ve always thought that the Pooh stories were teaching stories really.
One of the Pooh stories was used at a dharma talk at Plum Village because Thay likes them. Afterwards, try explaining Piglet living under the name of Sanders and his grandfather being called Trespassers William to a somewhat mystified bunch of people most of whom don’t speak English except very simply, or who come from English speaking cultures that don’t do absurdity and gentle irony. And, once you’ve done that, then explain what it’s got to do with the dharma!
In fact that could be a Buddhist “charades”. Someone gets given a film, book, play or song amd they have to make a dharma talk out of it.
The Buddhist Publication Society has as it’s Vesak book a scholarly book by Dr. Mohan Wijayaratana called Buddhist Nuns — the Birth and Development of a Woman’s Monastic Order. Available through the BPS website.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention Visakha! _/\_
I guess that must be why female genital mutilation is carried out in some West African nations…must help prevent cervical cancer?? So why not support female genital mutilation all over the world – after all it is a well respected tradition in some countries…
Anyone who has lived with cancer would know that it is dangerous to make such sweeping statements about a disease which has eluded the humanity for such a long time and it also belittles the pain of those who have (and are) going through cancer.
Female circumcision is not for health reasons and if anything increases health risks (physical and psychological). It is done to remove the pleasure from the experience for women because traditional beliefs dictate that the woman should be the vehicle for the man’s pleasure and she does not have the right to her own. You can google sexual rights. There is also the practice of infibulation and other horrendous things you probably dont want to read about. We call these harmful traditional practices and they are carried out on hundreds of millions of girls every year, along with others such as bride burning, forced child marriages (millions. not hundreds or thousands. Millions) These practices are often sheltered by clerics and religious or tribal leaders. Mothers and aunts will also bear the flag of tradition. Dogma and religious conservatism are trotted out in their defense…just like anything that is harmful to women…But people are working successfully against these practices. Slowly but surely. Men and women, boys and girls together as it should be.
Male circumcision is apparently encouraged for health reasons in developing countries. It is said to reduce the chances of HIV transmission. I would never advocate for something like this and would leave it to my brothers! As far as I know it bears no relation to prostate cancer. Did you read about such a link somewhere? I doubt it. (I have in one of my incarnations worked for the STI/HIV prevention centre at Canada’s only Centre for Disease Control. But I am not a doctor or a medical reseacher 🙂
Having followed the discussion surrounding Ajahns Brahms ordination of 4 women monks in Perth since November, it is evident that there is no end to the folly of men, in this instance the male Wat Pa Pong Ajahns!
The question I have for them is does conciousness have a sex?
consciousness has no gender. The jhana realms which is pure mind has no gender.
Well…in this form realm, I would say we are all influenced to various degrees by male energy and female energy…not entirely dependant upon form but influenced by it and vice versa, no?
Wilc, I remember part of the joy in attending the Bhikkhuni Congress in 2007 was being in the midst of so many Bhikkhus and male lay friends who were supportive. This really gives us courage and it touches the heart. And I pledge to stand up for this in part because I believe it also allows men to practice more freely, released from the code of silence and double speak, released froma culture of bullying which turns its ugly head on anyone really, especially when there are no more women to target; free to be as masculine or feminine as they are, free to support the Dhamma in its fullest truth…and not squish it into a limiting form…My concerns in all of the events has been as much for my male teachers and the male novices as for the Siladhara and the Bhikkhunis (and me) Metta _/\_
You are quite right, and thank you for having the compassion to see it and say it. To free women is to free men too – we’re all in the same dance. I refuse to bind myself as much as I refuse to bind any woman.
Exactly. Which is why there can be no reason for denying access to practice to anyone on grounds of gender.
I just want to say that you all rock!!! 🙂
All this talk of meditation and letting go… It’s (deep long sigh of delight) lovely… There…I’m ‘attaching’ to letting go which is weird because you can’t have attachment if you are letting go!!! As oxymorons go that’s got to win the gold medal for the most blissfully satisfying concept!!
🙂 🙂 🙂
Hmmm. But you can “bind” to a practice, no? _/\_
Indeed… I guess that’s where the ‘attachment’ part of the oxymoron could come in! 🙂
I guess it’s about learning to get to know the feeling of real genuine letting go and learning to trust that…
Sometimes if i’ve been very busy and go to have a sit…it takes a while for me to remember that i can’t make/do/get to the place of letting go… I just have to stop trying to control my thinking/feeling etc… Just let them settle in their own time… I’ve often liked the similie of a wind blowing autumn leaves off a tree. As long as the wind blows and as long as the leaves haven’t touched the ground…there is movement. But the minute both things cease, there’s stillness. When i remember to try not to control my mind (to make it be still) that’s when the force causing the wind starts to settle…then the leaves of my thoughts/emotions start to slowly spin to earth. Eventually i start to become aware of an ever increasing stillness. It’s kind of nice… It’s a technique i’m very happy to get attached to because it always brings good results (the only time that it doesn’t work is when i think i’m letting go of controlling but am actually still doing things…i guess that’s Delusion at work). A few sits like this and i’m a slightly wiser person for as long as the kamma of making such stillness lasts…which is not usually that long because i’m a total novice and this is all new to me!!
🙂 Metta, metta 🙂
Hey, any women on this blog looking to ordain?
Perhaps we can gather up a list of available nunneries, and women who went to them can give their feedback? I don’t know of many, only a few. There is one in Canada that seems good (although I have not personally gone there). Has anyone been to Ayya Mahanandhi’s hermitage? I sent her an email inquiring on her methods of guiding others and even though she didn’t answer my question she gave a very soft, gentle and kind response which I found quite inspiring. I know there’s Ayya Thataaloka and I heard there’s one near Melbourne? Anyone know about those? This would be good to converse so that those looking to ordain know what’s out there and get feedback on the way the monastery is set up (ex: seclusion, meditation, or social club etc)
I believe Dhammasara is the place to go.
When were you there?
How long have you stayed there.
What do you base this on.
You can tell us then your experience of staying at this monastery and please do tell me your name since I live in Perth and perhaps we have met?
I haven’t been there before. But I believe it was set up in a way that is very conducive to the practice of meditation. Also, they might be practicing the meditation technique clearly explained by AB. I really recommend the technique. You are really lucky to live in Perth.
But AB doesn’t run the nun’s monastery didn’t you know that? Ajahn Vayama is abbott of Dhammasara not AB. She is also unfortunately quite ill at the moment so we can’t assume what goes on somewhere or recommend a place without having spend a considerable amount of time there.
I am saying this because a friend recommended me a place in Europe (without him actually living there) and when i went there i didn’t like it at all! So be careful iMeditation not to recommend anything without having lived there. I haven’t lived in Dhammasara either so i can’t say 🙂
all the best in your path! I’ve been to Santi 6 months and Bhante SUjato is good abbott! He allows people to practice and give guidance when people want. He does not dictate or impose his views on anyone which I find quite inspiring and admirable. He respects every guest and visitor and offers opportunity to practice as they need. Whether they want to study suttas or meditate all day (nearly) he offers them that chance with support. He by no means tries to control anyones practice:) I felt relax and comfortable while staying there. It was a bit more busy in the common area when i was there because they were renovating and in the early stages of the monastery setup, so for those who don’t like much activity, one can get distracted. BUt everyone has a hut in the forest far from another which is GREAT since you can go into seclusion:) There are sutta classes and pali classes once a week too:) But all this was 2 years ago so it must have chanced a bit since then. Amaravati seemed more social rather than focused on meditation and Chithurst when i was there had morning and afternoon work (maybe it changed) and didn’t have much seclusion but more ‘group’ activities.
Hope all’s well!:) and may everyone have a happy smooth path to nibbana! 🙂 Anyone though been to the hermitage Ayya Mehanandhi or Ayya Thataaloka’s?
Hi iMeditation, you’re right in the sense that AB is a very cool abbot, I spent much time at Bodhinyana in the women’s guest quarters on and off and it’s very relax, no schedule, seclusion, very peaceful atmosphere and very easy to enjoy that peace and meditate nearly all day:) AB doesn’t dictate or control people at all which is lovely. The feel there is very comfortable, relax and conducive to developing the eithfold path and meditation. Before I wished I was born a man so i can ordain there! 🙂 Maybe i couldn’ve been enlightened by now 😉 I’m saying this only to emphasise the importance of having more availability for women to practice since having that opportunity will surely give rise to female ariyans who will later teach and strengthen the Dhamma in the world. We just need that opportunity and possibility to practice in a conducive environment. A place that does not dictate or give rise to tension but relax comfortable atmosphere. All women need are the empty hut and there you go, “here are these empty huts, meditate or you will regret it later” as the Buddha said (paraphrasing):)
Because of technology now, we don’t necessarily need a physical teacher beside us, we have ‘ajahn ipod’ and all the dhamma on a little mp3 player. So having a physical teacher to live with perhaps was good for 2600 years ago (without ipod) but now it does not seem necessary. Just throwing it into the air… Of course it’s better to have a teacher, but in the meantime women just need a quiet relax place to be in seclusion and perhaps meet together once in a while to practice their kindness and discuss dhamma but then go back into seclusion and their ajahn ipod to the rescue when they need guidance
Your ‘ipod’ teacher reminds me of Ajahn Brahm’s jokingly saying that we did not need AB in person; just put an MP3 into a robot and there you go – AB robot. Ha! Ha!
Sorry I should have been more clear when I wrote “I believe Dhammasara is the place to go.” It wasn’t meant to be a serious suggestion to anyone. It was just a fun shout out or cheer for Dhammasara. That is why it is just one line, similar to ” Lakers is the best” , or ” Go Lakers” something like that. And the reason I gave them a shout out is because they are given the conducive conditions and a good technique to practice. Maybe it wasn’t the right time for me to mess around when someone is serious about something. I would like to apologize for being playful at the wrong time and place. Posting that in another thread would have been more appropriate.
I am fully aware that Ajahn Brahm said in an interview that he pretty much let the bhikkhunis run their own monastery independently. I am aware that Ajahn Vayama is pretty sick that’s why we don’t hear her dhamma talks that much anymore for while now. I really enjoyed her dhamma talk and the guided meditation is pretty similar to AB’s technique, if not the same one. I believe the bhikkhunis at Dhammasara can download great dhamma talks from the world wide web, it wouldn’t be an obstacle.
AB’s style sounds great. If I ever ordain at all, I would want it to be with Ajahn Brahm or one of his disciples, because I am practicing his technique in particular. Aside from the conducive conditions, the technique that you follow is very important as well. And this is where external conducive conditions and proper technique meet.
Dania wrote: ” a quiet relax place to be in seclusion and perhaps meet together once in a while to practice their kindness and discuss dhamma but then go back into seclusion and their ajahn ipod to the rescue when they need guidance”
That’s what I have in mind when it comes to finding a great location with external conducive conditions to practice meditation. But that is just it. The rest depends on the inner work that we do and applying right effort. What I realized is that even the most conducive place in the world can’t make us happy if the mind is not tamed. This reminds me of the saying ” Happiness is a state of mind”( that is still). That’s where the real work begin.
But that’s the thing, you’re assuming again what goes on somewhere without having lived there. In principle that isn’t right since by recommending a place you haven’t lived in might mislead people.
I also find Ajahn Brahm’s talks very inspiring. It actually led me to become a Buddhist and practice the Dhamma and meditation! His talks lead to peace, harmony, forgiveness etc. Very wholesome. I practice that way and it only lead to wholesome states of mind, inspiration in the Dhamma and more understanding about the mind and perspective on things. But the thing is that the nun’s monastery is more than 100kms from Bodhinyana and they are independent. They don’t have internet either so can’t download AB and we don’t know if they are listening to Ajahn Brahm. You can’t assume that. I haven’t stayed there, I have stayed at Bodhinyana which is a wonderful peaceful monastery.
The reason I take this seriously is because someone recommended to me a monastery without actually having stayed there and it wasn’t a conducive monastery at all, it led people to be very tight and angry inside. Another recommendation I got was a monastery in Europe which was like a social club, and again that person hasn’t stayed there but just assumed.
That is why i want to point out that it is important to know exactly and stay in a monastery before recommending it since it’s people’s lives we are dealing with and their faith in the Dhamma. We have to be careful 🙂 Although I do cheer also “go bhikkhuni ordination! ” “hip hip hurray for Dhamma! 🙂
So because of 2 experiences where i was recommended to go somewhere by someone who hasn’t lived there, I realize that it is important to be careful how one guides another, especially in Dhamma! 🙂
I agree with you that even a conducive environment is not everything since we have to apply right effort within. That is true, but in reality we aren’t all arahants and the environment and people we encounter do have an effect on us, just conditioning, anatta 🙂
Dania wrote: “But that’s the thing, you’re assuming again what goes on somewhere without having lived there. In principle that isn’t right since by recommending a place you haven’t lived in might mislead people.”
In these days and age there are numerous ways of gathering information about a place without ever been there. It says ” I believe” at the beginning to denote that it is only my personal opinion. I understand you had a bad experience following someone else’s advice because they haven’t lived there. But it wouldn’t be accurate to come to a generalization that everyone is wrong if they share an opinion that way. Even if someone had lived there and share their opinion with you because they personally feel that it is a great place, but it is still possible that you might not like it after you get there because you have a different idea of how a monastery should be like or have different taste. There are people who have never seen an atom but can tell others a lot about it and can even use these concepts to create things for others to use in life. The senses of seeing, and touching are not the only acurate ways of knowing things. It may be the criteria for sharing an opinion in your book, but not everyone go by that criteria.
I am fully aware of the various factors that you have mentioned about Dhammasara, and don’t consider these to be a hindrance to progress in the holy life.
” But the thing is that the nun’s monastery is more than 100kms from Bodhinyana and they are independent. They don’t have internet either so can’t download AB and we don’t know if they are listening to Ajahn Brahm. You can’t assume that. ”
I am aware that they are roughly 30 mins away , and Ajahn Vayama mentioned a while back in the ” Enlightened Times” that they are just a tadpole in the bush of Australia without an internet connection. If they wanted to listen to Ajahn Brahm’s talk, I don’t think they will have a hard time. After all, the risked so much to provide them the conducive conditions that they need to practice, I doubt that he will withheld the Cd’s back from them. Again , we never know if they already have cd’s of the talks that he gives to the monks at his monastery ( which are not available on the internet). Other options would be to study the Suttras, or look to the words of the Buddha as a source of inspiration . However they decide to practice, that is up to them. But my point is, I don’t see Ajahn Vayama being sick as an obstacle in any way. Therefore, it doesn’t stop me from expressing my personal opinion that it is a great place to practice.
Dania wrote: “That is why i want to point out that it is important to know exactly and stay in a monastery before recommending it since it’s people’s lives we are dealing with and their faith in the Dhamma. We have to be careful 🙂 Although I do cheer also “go bhikkhuni ordination! ” “hip hip hurray for Dhamma! :)”
If I had known about your sensitive spot , I would have posted that casual ” Hip, Hip, Hooray” for Dhammasara in another thread. I am sorry if I stirred up negative feelings. I still think that Dhammasara provides better conditions to practice than most place I know. Of course, everyone have different ideas of what is important/ necessary in a place of practice, so I don’t expect you to agree with me. 🙂
Dear Dania and iMed,
May I share my experience staying at a temple with you?
I thought I found a place that was rather conducive. I spent many weekends there – happily. I got into deep meditation, and even, once without really knowing what was going on, had a ‘preview of nimitta’ (Ajahn Brahm’s term).
However, the last time I stayed there, I was sarcastically criticised by a well-educated dedicated Upasika of that temple for not sitting in the Thai traditional style while chanting.
Am I happy going back there? Well, to be honest with you, I feel apprehensive. Would I recommend this place to others. I had done so, but I don’t think I will do now without telling them the details of my experience.
My point is there are good places but sometimes we are not lucky to be at the right place at the right time.
BTW, I’ve found Ajahn Brahm’s talks to monastics on http://diydharma.org/Brahmavamso.
You can see for yourself how much Ajahn Brahm’s talks differ when given to laypeople and to renunciates.
With warm loving kindness to both of you.
These are the only ones I have found a while back also. I love the rains retreat talks. I wish the new ones are available also, but that’s about it. Maybe I am not ready for it, better wait.
I totally agree with you. The rains retreat talks (to monastics) are really good for serious practitioners.
I wonder why more of such talks are not available. Perhaps because some of the contents are not suitable for laypeople? (such as when AB might have slipped that he had psychic powers – hehe 🙂 )
One small issue that might slip your mind: visa problems for women of some nationalities.
Dheerayupa wrote: “One small issue that might slip your mind: visa problems for women of some nationalities.”
This is part of the reason why we have been trying to encourage other Ajahns to lend a hand and support Bhikkhuni ordination also so that women in other countries can have access to the conducive conditions to practice . It is definitely not far from my mind . I hope that the Ajahns that want to lend a hand will be able to do so without obstructions .
Are you referring to any particular ‘Ajahns’?
Though a Thai, I admit I have rather limited knowledge about good monasteries and good monks in Thailand. I’m still searching for conducive environments, including kalayanamittatas with Right View.
For the time being, I may have to be content with attending a retreat at a peaceful/conducive place with dhamma friends from several countries and with Ajahn Brahm as our dhamma guide – once a year.
At least until my good kamma rewards me with both Patirupadesavasa and Kalayanamittata.
With mega metta,
Dear fellow Ajahn Brahm supporters,
Has it ever occurred to you that kamma has its way of working?
If you have followed what has been happening in Thailand right now, you may now think that it is not very safe to travel to Bangkok.
Perhaps Ajahn Brahm ‘should not’ attend the Vesak event because his life is too precious to risk for such a small event?
We, unenlightened beings, do not know kamma works. 🙂
I’m so very glad he is not scheduled to fly to Bangkok this weekend.
Just my two humble cents,
Dheerayupa, this did cross my mind…
I hope you are somewhere safe and are well and happy despite the current events.
May things settle soon.
Wishing you well. 🙂
Thank you very much for your concern. My family and I are safe, but I can’t say we are happy. Our country has been greatly damaged physically and psychologically. I am so saddened to see how devastating greed and delusions can be…
Yes… greed delusion hatred … it’s everywhere. 😦
At least it’s a verification of the First and Second Noble Truths.
I’m glad you and your family are safe.
Hi everyone, i hope thailand along with the rest of the world breaks free of capitalism for the benefit of mind! the great teacher of heart practice is all of us everyday…just go to a major city when you live in the country, there’s a lesson! LOL
Dear kind Bloggers, I found this talk by Stephen Batchelor very liberating and helps me to get out of the circile of stressing about Thai FS – not Thai FS – fully ordained women – not ordained women – discussions continuing here. It would be very interesting to hear Ajahn Sujato’s opinions of this view and how it relates to the clinging views we all seem to have. Its worth listening to the whole talk as it interesting to the very end. With deep metta.
[audio src="http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/stephen%20talks/SB069.DemocracyoftheImagination.July06.mp3" /]
Sorry, I don’t get it… 😦 What’s the problem with Bhikkuni ordination ?? What’s the big fuss ?….. After reading so much about it, I don’t understand why it is … wrong?
there’s not much kindness being demonstrated between those of you who are for and those who are against this in your replies to each other.
I couldn’t think you are more right.
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