Good News for Nuns

There has been some wonderful progress for nuns and bhikkhunis in the Tibetan tradition in recent months. I’ve been kept up to date by Ven Jampa Tsedroen. Here’s a summary.

In May there was a decision to allow Tibetan nuns of the Gelugpa tradition to receive a geshe title. This has been controversial in the past due mainly to the requirement for full Vinaya studies. The geshe degree is the highest title in Tibetan Buddhist studies, and it requires a thorough training in all areas of Buddhist texts in the Tibetan canon. This includes the Vinaya, traditionally the last section to be taught. According to the Tibetan tradition, however (shared also with the Chinese tradition), Vinaya may only be taught to those fully ordained. (This idea probably originated in a misunderstanding of some passages in the early Vinaya, but that’s beside the point here.) Since nuns cannot be fully ordained, they cannot complete the studies and therefore cannot become geshe. Now the full course of study has become available on a non-sectarian basis.

Here is an article about the issue by Ven Jampa Tsedroen.

In addition, the Tibetan department of Religion and Culture has organized a high level committee to support the introduction of full ordination for women in the Mulasarvastivada tradition. The committee includes two members from each of the four main Tibetan sects, as well as two representatives from the nuns.

The committee has invited Ven Jampa and others to present research results in the last two weeks of October. They have received specific requests as to the texts that the committee is interested in, and these are being prepared. There seems to be a good chance that some genuine progress is at last at hand.

In other news, congratulations for the new samaneris ordained at Aranyabodhi and at Santi! It feels strange not to be there, but I couldn’t be happier.

3 thoughts on “Good News for Nuns

  1. Hello Ajahn Sujato,

    I was reading your post on the good news for Tibetan Buddhist nuns and followed the link to the article on the establishment of a high level committee to review the introduction of the full ordination for women in the Mulasarvastivadin lineage. However, from there, I couldn’t find any follow up (this was in August 2012). Do you know if anything has emerged from the work of the committee. I couldn’t find anything either on the Committee for Bhikshuni Ordination (established by HHDL in 2005). I keep hopeful, but isn’t the endless setting up of committees a way to avoid doing what’s right? Do you have any further information on this?
    Thank you.

    • Thanks, Pascale, that’s a good question. Let me make some inquiries and I’ll let you know what’s happening when I get the latest news.

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