Ajahn Brahm, gender equality, and the international Day of Vesak: a petition

A petition has been set up in response to the banning of Ajahn Brahm’s paper on gender equality at the International Day of Vesak in Hanoi. It’s important that we make our voices heard.

Bhikkhu Bodhi has lent his support via Facebook:

For Buddhism to flourish in the modern world Buddhists must recognize that in regard to their capacities to understand and practice the Dharma, and to contribute to the spread of Buddhism, there are no essential differences between the genders. All human beings, regardless of gender, have the potential to learn, practice, realize, and serve the Dharma.


103 thoughts on “Ajahn Brahm, gender equality, and the international Day of Vesak: a petition

    • Ajahn Brahm was invited by this group, which is run by mainly Vietnamese and Thais, to speak on the UN Millennium Development Goals. These are goals that were adopted by the world’s international community, with a special focus on helping those less fortunate. One of our tasks is to discuss how Buddhist values fit or don’t fit with contemporary ways of talking about ethics, and with various practices carried out in contemporary Asian cultures.

      The values that Ajahn Brahm and myself talk about are Buddhist values. The Buddha used an analytical method to distinguish between what was good and what isn’t, what should be preserved and what should be rejected. Ajahn Brahm was following his example. The Buddha was, of course, Asian, so these Buddhist values are Asian values, if you want to talk about that sort of thing. But it is not about culture, it is about what is right. The Buddha represents what is best of humanity, and humans have much to learn from his teachings, wherever they are from.

      The whole point of discussing ethical issues is to raise people’s standards. If our ethical messaging was simply to tell everyone that everything’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with Buddhist cultures, not only would that be a lie, it would be useless. We are having our say, just as many monks and others from an Asian Buddhist background also have their say. Differences of opinions are fine, but underhand repression and censorship, which has happened at this conference for many years, is not.

  1. Dear Bhante,

    As of 21:35 hrs Perth time, there are 656 signers from 41 countries. 🙂

    With gratitude,


  2. I was born in Asia. It is insulting to me and to all Asians really, to suggest that being, kind, inclusive, tolerant, wise and helpful to others, is somehow not Asian, that somehow these are just “Western” values. So what if the first person to coin the phrase “Human Rights” was fair skinned? Who cares? Big deal. More of us really need to get over that one. Luckily, enough clever, sensitive people in the East have realised that it’s just the language of the heart, of kindness and fairness; it’s just a language couched in different terms and phrases; but it’s the same stuff Eastern philosophers and wise people in the East have taught for centuries.

    I’m also female. I am sick and tired of people getting defensive about the in roads that Western cultures have made in the East and using this as an excuse to tolerate (even celebrate) some of the rubbish that needs to be cleaned up within their own cultures. Perhaps it’s just “cultural” for women from very poor families in some parts of the world to choose or be “encouraged” into prosititution and the like…whilst their brothers can go and be ordained as monks. That’s cultural is it?

    When do we get to use the word “culture” to stop anything rotten being questioned? Perhaps it’s because the sexploitation industry in some places brings in lots of money. Imagine if all those women in that industry decided to try ordination? Ha! Well, some might worry about where their regular supplies of $ and other things will come from. Personally, I think it’ll lead to women having a sense of themselves as being perfectly capable and worthwhile human beings. Let’s have “female monks” everywhere so that when little boys and young men (it might be too late for all the old men) start to see them, they realise that women can be worthy of respect…maybe that’ll inform the way they choose to be around their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, girlfriends. What a thought! A society that has a healthy esteem for all it’s members. You might even start to see social problems decline with that sort of positive mental health becoming common place.

    What a whole cultural group with the majority of it’s women feeling good about themselves? Go on! But isn’t it common knowledge amongst those who’ve studied development issues, poverty and the like…that in most cases…if you lift the women in the family…the rest of the family follows suit? I dunno, haven’t looked closely at this stuff for a long time. But it does make sense. A friend of a friend, had a personal experience in one particular Asian country…I won’t say which one…I think this was an “ordinary” family. The blokes loafed around at a cafe or bar, played cards and drank and were very “respectful” of one aspect of one woman who happened to be passed around. Then went home and were served like all conquering heros when they got home to the women who’d been working all day. That’s just rubbish but I’m sure it was a deep comfort to all the ladies to know that it was just their “culture”. And I’m sure they felt really good about themselves and felt enabled to lead positive, clear, bright lives in the knowledge that this was all “cultural”. Yeah, sure…

    Culture isn’t static. We choose to inform it. West and East aren’t clear, defined boundaries…humanity has been travelling the globe for centuries…since we came out of Africa…we’ve been teaching and influencing each other along the way. Apparently, the Vikings were in Constantinople! Go figure! Yeah, nobody likes being imposed upon. But we need to grow up and be able to listen to what people are saying even if we don’t like it and “let go” of things that are clearly harmful to others!

  3. I think we seem to be going back in time, in particular to October 2009, when Ajahn Brahm took part in Bhikkhuni ordinations.

    What we should keep in mind is there seem to be two issues of the same incident. One is opposition to gender equality in the Sangha and the other is personal feelings towards Ajahn Brahm.

    I don’t think many men, including monks — who are supposed to be honest, would come out and say that they disprove gender equality. Many have chosen to cite their interpretation of the ‘vinayas’ to support their misogynist stance. Others prefer to be ignorant of facts and happy enough to repeat what others say: it’s against the vinyana. But if one’s mind can be dissected in a lab, we might find that the deep cause of their attitude is that they think men are and deserve to be superior to women. How they are conditioned that way is another long story.

    Another issue is attacks against Ajahn Brahm. If one cares to remember the events after the Oct 2009 Bhikkhuni ordinations, one can see that the ‘hunt’ to take Ajahn Brahm down (attempts to dispose of Ajahn Brahm as the abbot of Bodhinyana, to claim Bodhinyana as belonging to the Thai Sangha in Thailand, and even to disrobe Ajahn Brahm) is beyond a reasonable response towards an act that one disagrees with.

    Five years later some people haven’t moved on, but are still doing their best to get in the way of Ajahn Brahm’s efforts to support gender equality. Why do they do that? It’s the question we all should ask. If it’s against Ajahn Brahm personally, well, it seems a conduct unbecoming of monastics. If it’s against gender equality, it definitely is un-Buddhist.

    As for imposing Western ideas upon the East, well, the forum was ‘United Nations Day of Vesak’. Those who obstructed Ajahn Brahm’s presentation of the paper were imposing their ‘personal’ desires upon an international forum.

    As a member of the international community, will you allow a handful of defiled people to tarnish the ideology that we all are hoping to reach?

  4. it’s not the name of the event which matters but who has power to influence its agenda, to be blatant, many ugly things bear beautiful names just for the sake of deceit, for instance in an attempt to appear as being in conformity with the ‘generally accepted’ norm, or rather the norm which is being promoted as such by the more powerful

    international community is diverse and certainly not everybody shares western values, though many leaders and public figures do declare commitment to them being interested in closer economical and political ties with the West, which these declarations are supposed to furnish, and so in many cases this is plain out hypocrisy, just playing along, but when it comes to issues in which they have advantage, they don’t hesitate to force through their own real agendas
    as soon as the West gives in, you will see what values the so called international community really shares

    as far as attribution of values is concerned, the principle of gender equality is indeed buddhist, it’s just so happened that it concurs with the Western values, but if this is the case, ideology of people who disagree with or oppose this principle must be called unbuddhist as dheerayupa said, or not fully buddhist, it just follows

    now such type of implications and labeling doesn’t make finding consensus with SEA sangha clergy any easier, that’s why i believe that what is easier must be done instead

    • The problem is, many, perhaps most, of the traditional monastics actually support bhikkhuni ordination, or at least have no real problem with it. The actions of a few in power should not be taken to represent the whole. All of the nuns I’ve spoken to who have lived in Thailand have said that the people were wonderful, and they had plenty of support from sympathetic monks. There is no monolithic opposition to bhikkhunis by Asian monks; this is just a myth that is spread by the opponents of equality. The reality is that Thai and other Asian cultures are complex and nuanced, like all cultures, and that there is a diversity of views.

      The underlying problem in Thai Buddhism, in my opinion, is not opposition to women—although that is a real problem—but opposition to change. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the Sangha was able to get in front of cultural changes and reform itself in positive ways. It seems to have lost this capacity, and is just fighting rearguard actions, trying to keep what it has. Anyone with a scrap of vision, not to speak of ethical integrity, can see that equality is the future.

  5. Those who are responsible for this shameful attitude, has shown their objection to the Buddha and Dhamma.

  6. Hi Bhante
    “The problem is, many, perhaps most, of the traditional monastics actually support bhikkhuni ordination, or at least have no real problem with it.” That is a pretty bold claim and I would imagine unsubstantiated. My perception would be that most monastics don’t even think on the issue and believe that the bhikkhuni order has gone and cannot be revived. If there is “no monolithic opposition” I would imagine that is partly because it is not even on the agenda.

    If there is to be a large scale bhihhuni revival in Asia. I would imagine that the driving force would be Asian woman.

    • Yeah, no, it really is on the agenda. I have never met a single monk who had no opinions on the topic. Even in Jetavana Sayadaw’s essay, written in the early 20th century, he remarks that it was a matter much discussed in the Sangha.

      After the ordination of bhikkhunis at Ajahn Brahm’s monastery, the senior Thai monk in the US, Chao Kuhn Maha Pasert, said that he was sure that 80% of Thai monks would approve.

      As for the leaders of the revival, of course it is Asian women who are the leaders, in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and elsewhere. They do the hard work, we just lend our support when we can.

  7. Dear venerables, brothers sisters in the dhamma. I don’t know but it sounds to me like giving others the impression that women were deprived to learn practice realize serve the dhamma in the East. For those Westerners who have never been to the East or not familiar, for your information, women here had never been deprived, discriminated or marginalized in learning practicing realizing serving the dhamma or any religion for that matter. Can’t speak for others but in SEA never heard of such a thing. Quite shocking to hear the unfounded accusation. Women here enjoyed total freedom and opportunity to actively learn practice serve the dhamma. I think the problem is that the West is trying very hard to push or pressure the East with bhikkhuni ordinations in the theravada tradition that many in the East believed could not be revived and not true and proper as the bhikkhuni lineage is non existence for a century, but that did not become an obstacle for women here in learning and serving the dhamma or to become enlightened. Understand that there’re already bhikkhuni ordinations and bhikkhunis in the West but don’t understand why is there a dire need for the West to aggressively trying to influence the East or intervene in the East who mostly believed that it’s not proper to do so? I think, it’s not about equality but being cautious and true to the lineage. There’s no inequality in SEA as far as learning practising realizing serving the dhamma or buddhim is concerned. I’m of the opinion that monastic issues or bhikkhuni ordination should be dwelt with collectively and unanimously within the house of monastics. My humble opinion and view. Thank you.

    • Hi Caroline,

      Sorry, but this just isn’t the case. The reality for women in South East Asia is that they are systematically discriminated against in all aspects of religious life. This is why they have decided that enough is enough, and have begun making the changes, such as taking bhikkhuni ordination, that will overcome this injustice.

  8. Hi Bhante
    But isn’t that 80% figure just a number pulled out of the air? My perception would be for the large majority of monastics and laity (in Thailand) it is a non-issue, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    It’s good to hear that the movement is indigenous and being led by woman.

    • The point is, those who oppose bhikkhuni ordination like to say or imply that “Asian” monastics will never support it, while in fact the situation is complex, and in fact many Buddhists from all backgrounds support ordination regardless of gender.

  9. Dear Bhante, hopefully both parties could compromise by being kind, compassionate and understanding towards each other and to respect each other’s rights on bhikkhuni ordination in the theravada lineage, as no one knows exactly who is right and who is wrong and what is the right thing to do. Well, but now things inevitably turned out perfectly well as there’s now more choices readily available for those women who are interested to ordain. I think those in favour of bhikkhuni ordination in the theravada lineage have also to be kind compassionate and understanding to those who believe bhikkhuni ordinations in the theravada lineage could not be revived, as who knows who is right, maybe they are right. Hopefully the dispute would not drag on unnecessarily and indefinitely. It ‘s getting very uncomfortable and disturbing not only to the monastics but also to the lay people as well with the petition. I believe everyone is suffering. Hope both parties could come to a compromise and respect each other’s rights. Thank you.

  10. As someone who attends a Theravadin temple which supports a small, nascent Nun’s Monastery and receives teachings from bhikkhunis as well as bhikkhus, it is difficult to understand why there is a fuss. This is not an Eastern vs. Western issue. The robe and the teachings are what’s important, not whether one has a Y chromosome or not. The ordination lineage is and was unbroken when the Mahayana Sangha is included (and surely no-one would proclaim the Mahayana lineages as outside Buddhism). The ordinations have been done consistent with the Vinaya. If women find that their path includes ordination, then why not? We all get the benefits from enabling women’s ordination, and men’s ordination.

  11. Much of the problem here is related to outdated notions of tribalism and nationalism. By outdated, I mean outdated for those who wish to evolve beyond such limiting concepts. This is liberation – such letting go.

  12. Dear bro David , you ‘re right. This dispute is not about gender inequality as there is no such thing as gender inequality exist in SEA where women were deprived to learn practice realize and serve buddhism . It ‘s therefore an unfair statement and inaccurate to accuse that there is gender inequality in South East Asia when women are well respected and encouraged in propagating buddhism in SEA. So the issue is not about gender inequality but about revival of bhikkhuni ordinations in the the Theravada lineage where, in my opinion , both parties should respect each other because in actual fact according to record, it is recorded that the Theravada bhikkhuni lineage has died out and is non existence for a century. As such, my humble opinion, Ajahn Brahm’s papershould be amended from ‘gender inequality’ to ‘revival of bhikkhuni lineage in the Theravada, as it’s more accurate and true. Therefore I find the petition on gender inequality unnecessary. Moreover, it is deemed revived by the West with so many bhikkhunis ordinations already being carried out in the past years in Sri Lanka and now in the West and Thailand. The only problem now is for them to get proper recognition as Theravada bhikkhunis as the line of transmission is in actual fact from Dharmagupta bhikkhuni lineage, since the Theravada bhikkhuni lineage is non existence. In my opinion, I think Ajahn Brahm’s paper was banned because it’ s about bhikkhuni revival and not about gender inequality. Perhaps, at the 11th hour it occurred to them that the paper was inaccurate and ambiguous. Therefore in my opinion, the petition is unnecessary as it gives a wrong impression of gender inequality in SEA, as THERE IS NO GENDER INEQUALITY IN SOUTH EAST ASIA! Thank you.

    • Dear Caroline,

      Very interesting how you keep reiterating that there is no gender inequality in SEA. May I ask what nationality you are and how long have you been living in a SEA country? 😉

  13. Dear sis Dheerayupa, I am a citizen of one of the nations in SEA. I hope you are not implying that I made this thing up about no gender inequality in SEA? Let us be very specific. The revival of bhikkhuni lineage in the Theravada is not about gender inequality but it’s about whether it could be revived since there was no actual bhikkhuni from the bhikhuni lineage in the Theravada, recorded as the original Sangha of Siddhartha Buddha. Later, the theravada bhikkuni lineage was recorded as gone extinct, I think, in Sri Lanka. The theravada bhikkhu lineage also died out in Sri Lanka but according to record, it was later revived by the theravada bhikkhus from Thailand or Burma (correct me). As for the theravada bhikkhuni lineage, unfortunately it could not be revived as there were no theravada bhikkhunis available to revive it in Sri Lanka, according to buddhism history. Later, the Mahayana bhikkhunis from SEA like Vietnam, Korea, China, Taiwan were invited to Sri Lanka to ordain the bhikkhuni in Theravada with an attempt to revive the bhikkhuni lineage in theravada with the existing transmisiion line that still exists i.e. the Dharmagupta lineage, together with some Theravada bhikkhus, in Sri Lanka and it was deemed revived but was also deemed controversial and not yet widely accepted by the Theravada Sangha Council both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. I know and I am sure you already know these historical facts, but I said it here again to prove that there were no sign of any gender inequality whatsoever in SEA, both in the past and in the present. The logic is, if there were gender inequality in SEA, there would not be any bhikkhunis available from SEA to go to Sri Lanka to ordain and revive the Theravada bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. There would also be no bhikkhunis in the West as buddhism originated from the East and spread to the West. Interestingly, some of those bhikkhunis ordained in Sri Lanka were revived by some Mahayana bhikkhunis from Vietnam (correct me). Therefore, I think, I could understand how the Vietnam committee must have felt, when they were inaccurately accused of gender inequality in Ajahn’s Brahm paper, when as a matter of fact, those Western bhikkhunis were in fact revived by the Mahayana bhikkhunis from Vietnam and other SEA countries. So, tell me, where is gender inequality in SEA? For those who don’t know, for your information, there are plenty of bhikkhunis, samaneries and many women renunciants, women lay teachers and practitioners in SEA, both in the past and present, having full freedom and opportunity in practicing and propagating buddhism and any religion. There is no gender inequality issue in any religion here, as each nation here too has its own national federal constitution in religion freedom. We are not that backward or primitive as thought by some westerners who have never heard of us or never been to SEA. We are very progressive and open minded. We are also very fortunate and blessed to have buddhism flourished here, with a few nations declared as buddhist countries. Hope this clears up the gender inequality concern in SEA. There was no such an issue. It was probably misunderstood by some Westerners.Thank you for all the kind concern.

  14. How an earth can you tell where someone is from based on what country they live in and how their names are spelled? I know there are people who are SEA “natives” who have “western” names. And what about the SA “natives” (South Asian)…it seems there’s a huge pile of them in the mix.

    Anyway…who cares! Why are people getting bogged down in these pointless details? They are pointless. Stick with the program…oh…but wait…I bet none of the people who are getting into what are clearly not pointless details for them, have even read Ajahn Brahm’s paper. So I guess they can’t stick with the program. So much easier to talk about things that don’t make sense when looked at within context of the actual discussion, when one hasn’t educated oneself on what the details of that discussion actually are. For instance, what a complete fallacy to suggest as one commentator on this thread has done, to suggest that Ajahn Brahm accused the Vietnamese committee of gender inequality. This person hasn’t even read the paper!! It’s almost funny….I’d laugh if it wasn’t so sad.

  15. Hi Bhante
    It’s not just South East Asia and not just religious life were women are discriminated against. Surely the aspiration behind taking bhikkhuni ordination is a spiritual one, an aspiration to live the life of a mendicant rather than to overcome social injustice?

    • This is an artificial distinction, and one which, once again, misplaces the problem. The status quo is that some monks, who control vast resources and enjoy unparalleled prestige, use their power to deny the spiritual aspirations of people who wish to practice Dhamma, on the grounds that their genital organs are shaped differently. This is the problem. Speaking of equality, and wanting to change the situation, is not the problem.

  16. Dear Bhante, I don’ know, maybe you are right. If you’re talking about bhikkhuni ordinations in the Theravada, I can understand your frustrations, in this case. It cannot be denied that it is indeed extremely complicated and complex, due to differentiation and diversity of views and interpretations of the sutta vinaya, in addition to the validity of the garudhammas, believed by some Elders to be rules laid down by the Buddha whereas some others believed it to be not by the Buddha but was a latter addition with yet proof of who added it, yet with some seeing it as gender inequality while others seeing it as for the safety benefit of the bhikkhunis and for the protection and longevity of the Dhamma and Sassana. It’s indeed another problem on top of the problem of the non-existence of the bhikkhuni lineage in the Theravada. It’s indeed very complicated and definitely not easy to resolve quickly! However, this technical glitch should not be viewed as gender discrimination or inequality, pending unanimous agreement and should not be an obstacle for women to practice spiritually and serve buddhism. There isn’t any problem or objections of bhikkhuni ordinations in the Mahayana lineage and other sub-lineages since their bhikkhuni lineage is unbroken, according to buddhism. Similarly with other religions, there are those that follow strictly to their holy scriptures on women monastic ordinations and those that don’t. Who is right or who is wrong, no one knows. I don’t know, but I think, it was not deliberately out to discriminate women, but they are those that go strictly according to their faiths, beliefs, intuition, interpretations, instructions and scriptures. Other than this controversy, generally I personally don’t see any discrimination or any gender inequality as far as practice and realize the dhamma or serving buddhism is concerned. Hope everything turns out fine. Thank you.

  17. Dear sis Kenchana, I have the feeling that you are sarcastically referring to me. So much for racism, freedom of speech, equality, human rights, personal choice and open-mindedness. Btw,FYI, caroline is my English name and low my surname not necessarily western, in case you are new to this and felt uneasy. Hope you are not one of those control freaks! Metta to you.

  18. Racism, freedom of speech etc.. What does any of that have to do with what I said? No, there was no sarcasm. I was quite genuinely saddened at the fallacy…that means false speech directed at AB. Sure…though…you’re perfectly free to utter false speech…that’s your choice. And you’re perfectly free to not have read the paper in question and continue to malign it at the same time. That’s your choice too. One of those control freaks…what…aren’t you? I’ll admit I am…sorry to dash your hopes…but like all unenlightened beings…I am basically a control freak too. I have no problem in admitting I’m completely and utterly imperfect. 🙂 What about you? What is it you would like people to think? Or perhaps you can’t admit that you’d prefer Bhante S and others to think in some way that you believe is more accurate? Lol…Caroline…it’s not that important to me how you think or whether you are or aren’t a “control freak”. I will admit, it would be nice if you could answer my implicit question from my last poster; let me make it more explicit: have you read AB’s paper? And here’s another one, do you admit that the truth that these monks you refer to on the committee, invited and approved this paper (that is they’d have read it) long before AB arrived and those who donated his airfare had paid for his flight? In the end, it’s not about race or gender…but common courtesy…or a lack of it…down right rude actually. Couldn’t they at least tell him before he got on the plane, before the petrol was wasted to drive him to the airport, before the donors had paid for his air fare, so some other person could have benefited from the plane ticket. Just rude. Not racist. Not even sexist in this one very specific instance. Just rude.

  19. Lol… this is getting silly now… I didn’t want to get caught up in all this again.
    So, sis Caro…I invite you…most un-sarcastically and you can be sure, truthfully…to happily have the last word… With metta 🙂

  20. Kanchana says: How an earth can you tell where someone is from based on what country they live in and how their names are spelled? I know there are people who are SEA “natives” who have “western” names. And what about the SA “natives” (South Asian)…it seems there’s a huge pile of them in the mix.

    this was meant for me apparently
    i admit that a more appropriate word would have been ‘nationals’ instead of ‘natives’, and a certain percentage of the signees based in the Western world countries can be SEA nationals temporarily living abroad, i didn’t read all of their names, i mostly looked at the names of the countries
    but even considering possible inconsistency between people’s names and their country of residence, this has negligible bearing on the bigger picture of the signees distribution across the world’s map

    by SEA I meant Theravada buddhist countries since these are directly related to the subject we’re discussing, maybe also not quite accurate, but now it’s clear

  21. There are more than two sides of a story. 😉 So, I will accept Caroline’s word that there is no gender inequality in SEA as true according to her reality. She might be one of the few lucky ones to see only beautiful things in life. 🙂

    What I see in a SEA country where I was born and raised and have been living for several decades is a bit different from what Caroline sees. And what I see and know has more than convinced me that religious reform is needed in some SEA countries.

    You are free to disagree with me and I will not argue with you.

  22. here’s a point of view of Ajahn Succito

    In Thailand the monastery I was living in had many maechees, that is shaven-headed women keeping the Eight Precepts, practising meditation, virtue and renunciation, and often making commitments of many years. Yet the culture then as now, to a large extent, did not regard them as a female equivalent to the monks – the bhikkhus. The status of the bhikkhus, independent of their personal qualities, was totemic: their form carried the weight, sanctity and auspiciousness of the Buddha- Dhamma in a society where correct ritual observance, and charismatic qualities carry as much and even more significance than the teachings themselves. For a son to become a bhikkhu is a source of great merit to a parent; for a daughter to become a maechee is likely to be a disappointment. She may well be seen, not as a daughter of the Buddha, but as a misfit who doesn’t have a husband and won’t bear children. However crude these generalizations may seem, they do carry a good deal of truth.

    Meanwhile, although I didn’t see them that often, the maechees themselves seemed content to have a place to practise and offer service to the monastery. Maybe what they had was good enough for Dhamma practice … and anyway I had enough to be dealing with in my own mind to even offer much consideration to the state of nuns, the monastery or even Buddhism. The whole thing seemed to be chugging along in some mysterious way, offering support and benefits to many folk. Everything seemed stable, unquestioned, and contented: this set-up had been going on for over seven hundred years.

  23. Dear Kanchana, sorry, my understanding of English is terrible as i’m not a westerner. l had to read Ajahn Brahm’s paper a few times to really get it. 🙂 To me, I find it was mainly on the need to accept bhikkhuni ordination in the theravada to justify gender equality. BTW Kanchana, I want to thank you for bringing up the western name, as it made me think hard on why and how on earth most of us here adopt a christian name. It’s very common and normal for us here. Maybe it sounds strange and weird to others especially to the westerners. We would do the same if a westerner were to have say a chinese name. I don’t blame you. I think we had western influence since young and during schooldays. We were mostly educated in English under the British Torrent system because at that time we were colonized by the British before gaining independence. I remember when we were young we were often asked “do you have a christian name?” Buddhism came very much later than Christianity here. I was schooled in a convent school and headmistress was a christian nun and went for catheteism (spell?) class. Besides, we were brought up watching english movies, english TV channels, communicate in english, read english storybooks like enid blyton mills and boone famous five in school 🙂 Fluency in english was then like a hyppe. But I think all of us here are very grateful for the enlish education as it is an international language. Our native name is hard to remember and pronounced by others, so I think that geared most of us here to adopt a christian name as it’s easier to remember and pronounce. We are now starting to adopt buddhist names. I think we are funny people having multi names. sometimes some of us even change our christian name over the years when we get bored with it or for other personal reasons, but we maintain our native name which is our only official id name. Thought I share this for those who are curious why we are so crazy having a western name when we are not even a westerner. Sorry for the poor english. I’ve talked too much and said enough. I’m outta here. My sincere apology if I’ve upset you Kanchana or anyone. Bhante, I ask for forgiveness for any wrong or inaccurate speech here. Thank you. Metta.

  24. Hi Bhante
    The fundamental problem is that the tradition of the Bhikkuni had died out in the Theravada. I do not believe that the key motivating factor is a wish to “deny the spiritual aspirations of people who wish to practice Dhamma, on the grounds that their genital organs are shaped differently”. In my opinion this is another misrepresentation of what you had earlier said is a complex situation. Your wording is also crude and inflammatory.

    Earlier you posted “The underlying problem in Thai Buddhism, in my opinion, is not opposition to women—although that is a real problem—but opposition to change.”, which is, in my opinion, more accurate.

    • Hi again Peter,

      I didn’t say anything about a key motivating factor. I was talking about people’s actions, and this is simply a straightforward description of what happens. I am well aware that people don’t like being called out on their sexism, but once again, the problem is not mine, it is sexism. I’m not going to apologize for calling a spade a spade.

      This is something that’s really important to understand. What you’re doing is s standard trick in the anti-feminism rhetoric. Whenever sexism is called out for what it is, the people naming it are immediately blamed, for putting it the wrong way, for being insensitive, for misusing terms, or for whatever. This happens constantly, and it has become so well known in feminist circles that it was one of the forces behind the recent #YesAllWomen meme. That’s why I won’t back down or change my language. I’m not being stubborn, I have just been down these byways too many times and I won’t be distracted.

      We need to keep the blame where it belongs: with the massive weight of institutional sexism which causes incalculable harm, violence, death, rape, and abuse, every day. Spiritual leaders should be part of the solution, but as long as they are allowed to get away with their medieval sexist practices and attitudes, they are part of the problem.

  25. Sorry if I’m off the topic a little bit but this question troubles me for some time:
    At the time of the Buddha there was no Theravada, no Mahayana etc. There were no Theravada bhikkhunis and no Mahayana bhikkhunis. But there were bhikkhunis. The Buddha didn’t start Theravada or Mahayana, he taught the Dhamma. Can someone please explain me why for some people the fact that the order of bhikkhunis died out in the Theravada tradition is more important than the fact that there were bhikkhunis at the time of the Buddha. Why some unfortunate events in one of the traditions is more important than the Buddha’s wish to have the fourfold Assembly of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen?

    With metta,

    • Exactly! Most Buddhists these days, in Theravada at least, identify more with “Theravada” than they do with Buddhism; if truth be told, they identify mostly with nationalist religious identity. They want to keep their “Thai” Buddhism or “Burmese” Buddhism or whatever, and this means much more to them than the Buddha’s Buddhism.

      When I spoke to Ajahn Liem, the abbot of Wat Pa Pong, about bhikkhunis several years ago, he remarked that it was hard to find someone to ordain bhikkhunis, because it had been like this “since the beginning”. But what does this mean? Obviously, since the beginnings of Buddhism there have been bhikkhunis; since the beginnings of Theravada there have been bhikkhunis; and even since the beginnings of Buddhism in the Thai region there have been bhikkhunis (according to the Samantapasadika, the oldest historical record, not to mention the multiple references to bhikkhunis in Thailand throughout history). “Since the beginning” really means, “in popular Thai Buddhist history”. And hardly anyone is the slightest bit interested to learn anything more than that.

  26. Dear Bhante,

    Perhaps to say that many monks are anti-Bhikkhuni ordinations might be wrong. Only a number do, and only some do so strongly and unfortunately some of those who oppose have power to do things to affect the general norm of the society. I think that a great number of monks who are not supportive of Bhikkhuni ordinations in the Theravada tradition seems to belong to this statement of yours:

    “hardly anyone is the slightest bit interested to learn anything more than that”

    Lack of interest, empathy and sympathy, and finally Karuna for women who aspire to live a life of renunciates laid down by the Buddha…

    I think that only when those countries which are not really supportive of Bhikkhuni ordinations have fully legally supported them will people from the outside fully understand what ‘gender inequality’ and ‘lack of real compassion’ have been practiced in those countries.

    With gratitude to you for your support,


  27. Hi Bhante
    The problem is that your statement is not factual :

    “The status quo is that some monks, who control vast resources and enjoy unparalleled prestige, use their power to deny the spiritual aspirations of people who wish to practice Dhamma, on the grounds that their genital organs are shaped differently.”

    It really is just “rhetoric”.

    And then you go on to use the standard trick of reversing the blame by accusing me of using “anti-feminism rhetoric”.


    Would you say that the Theravada tradition is intrinsically sexist?
    Do you think that there will be a time when you will formally cease to identify with the that tradition?

    • Well, Peter, as I showed in my previous comment, you had badly misrepresented what I said. The proper thing to do in civil discourse is to then apologize and retract your statement. If you just keep on not learning from past comments and just throwing out new criticisms, this will not get anywhere. I stick by all my statements, they are simply a straightforward description of what happens.

      FYI, I have not called myself a Theravadin for more than 10 years. It is irrelevant for me as a Buddhist monk. But no-one is “intrinsically” anything. It is just conditions. And conditions are complex and always changing.

  28. Hi Rudite
    May i try to explain.Come to think of it, your detractors were the ones who really embraced change & lived in the present.They were literally bashed up by those fighting for the revival of theravada bhikkhuni ordination for not willing to accept change.Buddhsim never stopped changing over the period of 2,600.Since the 2nd council,it has changed & divided into many sects & schools of buddhism till today.It changed rapidly with the creation of many other schools of buddhism other than theravada, such as Mahayana,Tibetan,Zen,Vajrhana & many others.Similarly,Theravada bhikkhuni lineage was subject to change too all along since its establishment during Buddha’s time till it finally died out a century ago.

    Sorry to say this,but this is the truth.If you think carefully,those who revived the theravada bhikkhuni lineage that had died out are the ones really not accepting change & literally living in the past thinking the bhikkhuni lineage still exists.Buddhism keeps changing & we should accept the change that the theravada bhikkhuni lineage is said to have died out.No offence.

  29. It is striking how people continue to cling to their own defilements where all is so obvious: it was indeed an INTERNATIONAl event (not just a private party for some retrogrades from SEA) and all of these attempts to stop spreading the truly Buddhist idea of equality of human beings are nothing more than bureaucratic subterfuges in Mara spirit.

    To those who think that modern Western values of democracy and liberalism have nothing to do with the original Buddhism, I’d recommend reading any historic work on democracy in ancient Indian republics and Buddhist sangha as well. For example, this one: As for roots of modern human rights in Buddhism, take a look at the essay by Damien Keown:

  30. Agreed Victoria and well said.

    Buddhism is international. It was intended to be…for everyone. It was never intended to be something where someone told someone else how to be. Yet, it was always intended to be something where people were unafraid to communicate, discuss and debate. Where it was quite correct to change one’s mind if one found that someone else made more sense. Particularly if, following the Buddha’s recorded advise, what someone said was in accord with the Dhamma. That is, it was for the welfare of oneself and many and it went in the direction of peace, wisdom, compassion.

    So, it’s okay to have a conversation about Bhikkhuni ordination. There’s no need to feel threatened by the simple presentation of a paper at an International (not just Asian) Buddhist event. However, it is the duty of monastics to set the standards for ethical behaviour. It is their duty to speak out, as the Buddha is recorded to have done in his time, against social injustices also. However, there is no need to be frightened of them speaking out. Unless of course, you know that lots of people will agree with those speaking out and you know you’ll lose some power and authority as a result.

    No one who supports Bhikkhuni ordination, I can say that with confidence, wishes anything more than a sense of openness and dialogue. A fair go, as they say in Australia. And is seems that over 2700 people (that’s as it is right now) from about 70 nations, agree with this. An individual (as far as know, she doesn’t represent anyone but herself) started this petition. And this many people, from around the globe, from this religion that was intended to be spread far and wide, have supported her intention.

  31. Hi there
    Somehow,i’m getting suck into this debate.I’m not sure if you guys agree with me.I find this very confusing & messy.First,it’s said that the Theravada bhikkhuni lineage has died out.Now,after the so called revival,there are now Theravada bhikkhunis all of a sudden.Don’t you guys find it confusing?Sorry,i do.

    Those bhikkhunis were said to be jointly ordained by Dharmaguptaka bhikkhunis & Theravada bhikkhus.The bhikkhunis followed dharmaguptaka vinaya &bhikkhus followed theravada vinaya.D.bhikkhunis is said to chant in chinese “namo amitabha” & T.bhikkhus in pali “namo buddhaya”.The truth is,the bhikkhunis are a mix breed.Now they want others to accept them as pure theravada bhikkhunis.The truth is,it contradicts the truth.

    They then seemed to self-proclaimed themselves as theravada bhikkhunis when they’re not pure theravada.How is that possible?Now they seem to try to dominate &blame the detractors for gender inequality,social injustice etc,when the truth is,in the first place the procedure was not properly &purely executed.The truth is,it obviously looks to me like a new mixed breed of bhikkhunis.It is certainly unprecedented.Do you guys agree with me?Sorry,it doesn’t seem to make sense to me,somehow.No offence.

    • Hi Angel,

      Thanks for your thoughts, I understand that these things can be confusing, especially when you have been conditioned to take for granted the things that have been told to you in Buddhist temples. But many of those things are just traditions, which are so long standing that people have forgotten that things have not always been that way. That’s why a careful study of the earliest Buddhist teachings, as well as Buddhist history, is so important.

      Briefly put: the Buddha ordained both men and women into the Sangha. The guidelines for running the Sangha was codified as the canonical Vinaya texts. The essential parts of these were formulated long before the arising of different schools of Buddhism, which was roughly 200 years after the Buddha passed away. Thus all of the extant Vinayas (there are about 7 or so fairly complete Vinayas) are essentially identical, and only differ in unimportant details.

      None of these Vinayas refer to any schools of Buddhism, such as Theravada, etc. Thus the Sangha as established by the Buddha does not have any schools, and the notion of “lineage” is not mentioned. All the current lineages of Buddhism descend from traditions who use these canonical Vinayas as their basic guidelines. While they vary in the way they interpret them and apply them, essential matters such as ordination procedure are adhered to strictly and uniformly across the Buddhist world.

      The Chinese Vinaya lineage is descended, as you say, from the Dharmaguptaka school. This was a school of early Buddhism that was established in Gandhara in north-west India (modern Pakistan/Afghanistan). This school was virtually indistinguishable from the school that settled in Sri Lanka, so much so that the founder of the Dharmauptakas, Yonaka Dhammarakkhita, was an honored guest at the establishment of the great stupa in the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura. He was also consulted by the Sri Lankans on matters of Abhidhamma. In fact, both he and Mahinda, the founder of “Theravada”, were friends who had been ordained in part of the same close circle of monks in the time of Ashoka. Clearly the founders of these “schools” did not regard themselves as of different ordination lineages.

      In the 400s CE, Sri Lankan bhikkhunis arrived in China, where they performed bhikkhuni ordination together with the Chinese bhikkhus to start the Chinese bhikkhuni lineage. In doing so, they were adhering to the original, non-sectarian spirit and letter of the Vinaya as laid down by the Buddha.

      Unfortunately, in later days, many monks have not kept this spirit, but have come to regard themselves as primarily adherents of a particular schools, or sect within that school, or, in modern times, followers of a nationalist religion (“Thai Buddhism”, etc.) Such notions have nothing to do with what the Buddha taught. Those of us who regard ourselves as followers of the Buddha have respect and appreciation for the schools, since it is through them that the teachings have been passed down; but we refuse to be bound by sectarian or nationalist prejudice.

  32. Dear Kanchana,
    I also agree with all of your words above. You wrote:
    “Particularly if, following the Buddha’s recorded advise, what someone said was in accord with the Dhamma”

    Absolutely. And what do we hear in response? – “Do not impose your alien values on Asian/Eastern/Eurasian/Non-Western etc culture, leave our local colour alone!” These people don’t even hide their heavily conditioned motivation which has nothing to do with Buddhism at all. So it’s not about any threat to local cultures, it’s about obvious unwillingness to transform oneself according to real Buddhist values.

  33. Hi Bhante
    I’m not sure how, where or why you think you were “badly misrepresented” by me but I’m not going to go down that route thanks.

    It’s interesting that you don’t see yourself as a Theravadin. And that you see the Dharmaguptaka and Theravada ordinations as essentially the same. Are the bhikkhunis who ordain at Perth ordaining as Theravada bhikkhunis or just as bhikkhunis? Do you know if Ajahn Brahm identifies himself as a Theravadin?

  34. Hi Bhante
    Firstly,with due respect,it’s not true what you said that i’ve been conditioned to take for granted the things i’ve been told in buddhist temples.I’m not sure where you got that idea &facts as alleged.I’m not representing anyone.It was my unbiased views &opinions based on my own observations,knowledge from my present observations &experience.Facts from my own reading available from reliable sources on the internet.

    It’s true what you said that there’s no theravada, mahayana etc during buddha’s time.But,in reality & in today’s real life,the original buddhism is said to have split & it was said that there was a great schism during the 2nd council & many schools of buddhism were created as a result.Mahayana school with its sub-schools were subsequently created over the years.According to history,it is said that buddhism then spread to Afghanistan,where the Gandharas(Greek) school was created.The Greeks were the first to sculpture Buddha images & statues after 500 years from buddha’s mahaparinibbana.In the original buddhism,Buddha did not asked people to make statues for worship &there was no Buddha image in India then before the Greeks(Gandharas) made the first Buddha statue.Buddhism then spread to China &other parts of Asia.The original buddhsim was later conventionally referred to as theravada i.e.elders tradition(the unbroken lineage of gautama buddha),during the rapid change & spread of buddhism.Buddhism was a conventional term to refer to Gautama Buddha’s dhamma (teachings which were recited originally by the 500 Arahants &recorded now in Pali Canon).Over the period of 2,600 years,Buddhism has split into many sects or lineages,each adopting their own local cultures during the spread.Mahayana lineage has spread to China,Tibet,Korea,Mongolia,Japan,Vietnam,Taiwan & only quite recently to the West.The Theravada tradition has spread its wings as well,mainly to Sri Lanka,Thailand,Laos,Cambodia &other parts of South East Asia & only recently to the West.This historical facts are gathered from my own knowledge of buddhism,subject to reliability &verification.

    I’ve read that there’re now more than 3 major different vinayas i.e. the Theravāda Vinaya, Dharmaguptaka Vinaya & Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya.I’m not sure about what is earliest buddhism that you’re referring to.I only have knowledge of the fact that the theravada tradition is the elders lineage unbroken from the time of Gautama Buddha.Texts aside, as texts too can be subject to later alterations or additions according to change &cultures.That being said,theravada took the pali tipitaka(pali canon)as their legitimate authoritative text,said to be original words uttered by our Gautama Buddha &his disciples.FWIU,the dharmaguptaka is one of the schools of mahayana.Mahayana emphasized on the lotus sutra or heart sutra.From my own knowledge &observation,in the present day,some mahayana bhikkhunis wear black robes etc &their main practice is said to enlighten others by way of compassion & ideally to be a bodhisattva in this lifetime for the purpose to get enlightened & their goal is to go to Pureland.This practice &belief distinctively contradicts the theravada.Theravada is said to practice enlightenment for oneself based on the Pali Canon to become an ariya(the 8 pairs of individuals worthy of gifts &reverence which is the merits to the world) & their goal is Nibbana (i.e.end of suffering/dukkha).

    Thanks for your brief information on the so called earliest buddhsm &history.Sorry,I’m not qualified enough to comment on this or its vinaya,as I’m neither a buddhist scholar nor a monastic.I find it confusing &complex.It would require enormous time &expertise to carefully research them based on real facts & evidences.I only find the contradictions based on my knowledge from my own personal reading,reasoning &common sense.No offence.

    • Hi Angel,

      Sorry if I jumped to conclusions, it’s just that many of the things that you’ve said, including in this most recent post, reminded me of the traditional Theravadin “party line”. You’ve obviously taken the time and trouble to learn about these things, so congratulations. If you’d like to go deeper into it, I wrote a book on the topic a number of years ago, called Sects & Sectarianism, which you can read here, if you’re interested.

      Just a few corrections to your previous comments. The main one is that the Dharmaguptaka has nothing to do with Mahayana. As I explained in my previous comment they were one of the early schools of Buddhism. Also, while many modern sources say the first schism happened after the Second Council, they’re wrong; there’s no reliable ancient sources that put the schism so early, and in fact it must have been some time after Ashoka.

      That the Theravada is the elder’s lineage unbroken from the time of the Buddha is not a fact, but a claim to authority, one which has no supporting evidence. Other schools make similar claims, and if we’re interested in the truth we should be careful to distinguish between sectarian myth-making and history.

  35. Баян Купи-ка wrote: “as some say: ‘those who wish, look for opportunities, those who don’t, look for excuses’ ”

    …for a delay in reaching the Unconditioned because of one’s own obsession with gender identity

  36. May the powers and blessings of all the Buddhas Dhammas Sanghas of the past present future bless all of us with peace love happiness prosperity harmony and unity. May we come together as good sons and daughters of all the Buddhas in learning and serving the dhamma and Buddhism together regardless of genders nations traditions and cultures respecting one another. Put away all our differences. We are all brothers and sisters in the dhamma. Make peace and be joyful. Thank you.

  37. Hi Bhante
    Thanks for the information & the link to Sect&sectarian.It’s very lengthy but i promise to read it.Firstly,i didn’t say this “the Chinese Vinaya lineage is descended, as you say, from the dharmaguptaka school.” Sorry,I’m still very new to the history of buddhism.I always thought dharmaguptaka was one of the mahayana schools of buddhism,as i know mahayana lineage is said to worship amitabha buddha & bodhisattva kwan imm (“tara” to tibetan) & chant namo amitabha.

    You said “In the 400s CE, Sri Lankan bhikkhunis arrived in China, where they performed bhikkhuni ordination together with the Chinese bhikkhus to start the Chinese bhikkhuni lineage.” So,were you saying that it is legitimate to have mixed lineages ordination.This is something that i’m not aware of.If that is so,then it makes sense to me that those newly joint bhikkhunis ordinations between the theravada bhikkhus & dharmaguptaka bhikkhunis was to revive the dharmaguptaka lineage.It makes sense if mixed ordination is considered legitimate.Sorry,for using the term “mix breed” in my earlier comments.I’ve heard one of ajahn brahm’s talk on youtube about this greek(ghandhara) lineage.

    I think for convenience,the theravada school of buddhism classified zen,tibetan,vajhrana etc all under Mahayana schools of buddhism.Now it looks like it makes more sense to me & it is also clearer in terms of identity,when it’s dharmaguptaka(greek) lineage & not mahayana.

    This is my own thinking & interpretation on these 2 controversial issues.Personally,I find “the garudhammas” authentic.They’re plausible rules laid down by the Buddha.It’s not about inequality nor eastern,as perceived &thought by some people.It’s a timeless ancient wisdom for the welfare of the bhikkhunis,for the harmony of the sangha &for the prolongation of the dhamma.Personally,I find in “the Mara’s former temptation”(mahaparinibbana sutta),it was very likely the buddha’s prophecy,as the buddha has supra-mundane powers.I personally think,it was not buddha’s declared wish,as interpreted by some people.Hopefully,those make sense.Sorry,for my poor english grammar.Anyway,this is not a grammar school.No offence.

  38. angel lau,

    Why not think big? You actually may even say that Buddha dictated every word of the entire Pali canon. It would be quite in the spirit of medieval uncritical thinking.

  39. Hi victoria
    I only wish my small medieval uncritical thinking was not true.I only worry that it’s true.What if it’s true?Isn’t that slandering the buddha?Anyway,pls. don’t have the thought that i’m against bhikkhunis which is not true.My only interest with all of my comments is solely out to protect the buddha’s dhamma & the original sangha of the buddha in my capacity in a small way.Pls, bear in mind that the buddha’s dhamma is not only precious to humans but to the devas as well,i.e. gods in the celestial realm.It’s up to you guys to think critically.No offence.

  40. Angel,
    “Pls, bear in mind that the buddha’s dhamma is not only precious to humans but to the devas as well,i.e. gods in the celestial realm”

    Are you trying to scare me with a celestial anger? 🙂

  41. Hi victoria
    No,that is absolutely not true.That must be your own critical thinking.My name happens to be a pleasant coincidence.Anyway,who am i to scare you?

    In the pali canon,it is said buddha frequently preached the dhamma to the devas in the celestial realms.It is said Buddha had even conversation with the king of devas &it is said,it was brahma sahampati that asked buddha to teach the dhamma to human beings,as there were those with little dust in their eyes(lit., those who could understand).There would be no dhamma no buddhism today,if not for his request to buddha.

    I’m not sure if you have even read the pali canon.Looks like you haven’t,since you said “You actually may even say that Buddha dictated every word of the entire Pali canon. It would be quite in the spirit of medieval uncritical thinking.”.

    Perhaps,this sort of things are not relevant to you,depending on your faith in them.

  42. Hi Bhante
    Firstly,sorry to disturb you so much here.After much critical thinking,I could not help noticing that you seemed to not recognize the various sects,traditions,vinaya or lineages in buddhism(i may be wrong but this is what i observed).

    In reality,over a period of 2,600 years,buddhists all over the world,have associated & identified themselves according to the various sects,traditions &lineages.We can’t deny the historical fact that buddhism did really split conventionally into these various sects,traditions,vinaya&lineages,over the centuries after the mahaparinibbana of gotama budda.Surely,over 2,600 years,there were bound to have changes,although we may not want it to change but change happens’s quite hard to believe &quite impossible for buddhism to stay unchanged,when it has spread from it’s origin in india to other continents in the world,without cross-culture.If it stayed unchanged,this would contradict not only the buddha’s dhamma,but the truth.

    From my own observation,I noticed that buddhism has further split from the various sects,traditions,vinaya & lineages such as theravada,mahayana,dharmaguptaka etc to a further subdivision of races &countries.Previously,I’ve only heard of theravada tradition,forest tradition & other traditions or lineages etc in Thailand,Sri Lanka etc. I’ve never heard of Thai buddhism,Sri Lanka bhikkhunis,Chinese bhikkhus,until quite recently & after you mentioned them.With due respect,were those terms coined or were they how they associate themselves? If it’s true, then buddhism now has conventionally split further from the identification of sects,traditions,vinaya &lineages to the identification of race & country,for example,Tibetan buddhism. Tibetan buddhism has spread &become popular in the United states in the 20th century. Theravada buddhism only spread to the West,if not mistaken,in the 1970’s.I’ve also noticed that buddhism in the West now is distinctively identified as Western buddhism,American folk buddhism,Australian buddhism etc. It’s said change is permanent. Anyway,the truth is, we are permanently impermanent & perfectly imperfect. Pls. take what is agreeable to you & ignore what is not.No offence.

    • Hi Angel,

      You’re quite right, there are many sects and this is the reality we are in. This is why I called my book “Sects & Sectarianism”; the point being, there’s nothing wrong with having different sects as such; it can be perfectly healthy, as different people like to practice Dhamma differently. The problem, as I see it, is “sectarianism”, which is where the sect becomes the main thing, where allegiance to one’s lineage/teacher/tradition or whatever supersedes the Dhamma. The end result of this is, for example, in some Tibetan traditions they place the teacher above the Buddha; or in Sri Lankan Buddhist extremists the Bodu Bala Sena, where violence can be justified in the name of Buddhism, or the 969 cult in Myanmar, and so on. I’ve never had a problem with people practicing their traditions, as long as there is some perspective that that is what they are doing. When someone says, “My tradition is the one and only true way”, I get suspicious.

      For me, the purpose of studying early Buddhism is not so that we can throw away the traditions and start afresh. This will never work, for the simple reason that there are countless things that are assumed in the early texts, but not stated, and anyone trying to start from a blank slate will simply fill in the gaps according to their ideas. Rather, we should use our study of early Buddhism as a point of reference by which to assess, appreciate, and sometimes criticize the traditions, and, combined with an understanding of Buddhist history, to understand how we got from there to here.

  43. sujato:

    When someone says, “My tradition is the one and only true way”, I get suspicious.

    Sakkapanha sutta (DN 21)

    “Why, dear sir, don’t all brahmans & contemplatives teach the same doctrine, adhere to the same precepts, desire the same thing, aim at the same goal?”

    “The world is made up of many properties, various properties. Because of the many & various properties in the world, then whichever property living beings get fixated on, they become entrenched & latch onto it, saying, ‘Only this is true; anything else is worthless.’ This is why not all brahmans & contemplatives teach the same doctrine, adhere to the same precepts, desire the same thing, aim at the same goal.”

  44. Hi Bhante
    I’ve read the beginning of your “sects&sectarians”.So far,i find that they were more of your views(i may be wrong).To clarify my doubt,now i think i know what is the “early buddhism” that you’ve been talking about.My knowledge tells me that it is the agamas&dharmaguptaka ghandaran buddhist text. Wait a minute,you said they were not mahayana,but i think,FWIU,they’re mahayana.Here are some interesting facts i found from reliable source on the internet(subject to reliability).

    “Among the Dharmaguptaka Gandhāran Buddhist texts in the Schøyen Collection, is a fragment in the Kharoṣṭhī script referencing the Six Pāramitās, a central practice for bodhisattvas in Mahāyāna doctrine.Between 250 and 255 CE, the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage was established in China, after Indian monks were invited to help with ordination in China. In the early 5th century CE, Dharmaguptaka Vinaya was translated into Chinese by the Dharmaguptaka monk Buddhayaśas (佛陀耶舍) of Kashmir.”

    “The Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, or monastic rules, are still followed today in Taiwan, China, Vietnam and Korea, and its lineage for the ordination of monks and nuns has survived uninterrupted to this day. The name of the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya in this tradition is the Si Fen Lü (四分律), or Four-Part Vinaya, and the equivalent Sanskrit title would be Caturvargika Vinaya.A complete version of the Dīrgha Āgama of the Dharmaguptaka sect was translated by Buddhayaśas and Zhu Fonian (竺佛念) in theLater Qin dynasty, dated to 413 CE. It contains 30 sūtras in contrast to the 34 suttas of the Theravadin Dīgha Nikāya.However, according to A.K. Warder, the Ekottara Āgama references 250 prātimokṣa rules for monks, which agrees only with the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya. He also views some of the doctrine as contradicting tenets of the Mahāsāṃghika school, and states that they agree with Dharmaguptaka views currently known. He therefore concludes that the extant Ekottara Āgama is that of the Dharmaguptakas.The Śāriputra Abhidharma Śāstra (舍利弗阿毘曇論 Shèlìfú Āpítán Lùn) (T. 1548) is a complete abhidharma text that is thought to come from the Dharmaguptaka sect. The only complete edition of this text is that in Chinese. Sanskrit fragments from this text have been found in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, and are now part of the Schøyen Collection (MS 2375/08). The Dharmaguptaka Tripiṭaka is said to have contained two extra sections that were not included by some other schools. These included a Bodhisattva Piṭaka and a Mantra Piṭaka (咒藏 Zhòu Zàng), also sometimes called a Dhāraṇī Piṭaka.”

    “According to the 5th century Dharmaguptaka monk Buddhayaśas, the translator of the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya into Chinese, the Dharmaguptaka school had assimilated the “Mahāyāna Tripiṭaka” (大乘三藏 Dàchéng Sānzàng).Paramārtha, a 6th-century CE Indian monk from Ujjain, unequivocally associates the Dharmaguptaka school with the Mahāyāna, and portrays the Dharmaguptakas as being perhaps the closest to a straightforward Mahāyāna sect.According to Joseph Walser, there is evidence that the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (25,000 lines) and the Śatasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (100,000 lines) have a connection with the Dharmaguptaka sect, while the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (8000 lines) does not.”

    The “sri lankan bhikkhunis” you mentioned earlier,were in fact,under this dharmaguptaka (mahayana) lineage.They jointly ordained the new bhikkhunis together with the “chinese bhikkhus” (mahayana),to create chinese bhikkhunis.It seemed legitimate,since the mahayana lineage is unbroken.The so called “sri lankan bhikkhunis” were same lineage & vinaya as those so called “chinese bhikkhus” i.e. dharmaguptaka vinaya.But,it sure looks funny &confusing to me,in the case of those new bhikkhunis who self-proclaimed themselves “theravada bhikkhunis” who were,in fact, ordained by a group of pure theravada bhikkhus co-jointly with a group of pure dharmaguptaka(mahayana) bhikkhunis.Does it make sense then for the new bhikkhunis to proclaim as “theravada bhikkhunis”?.Sorry,it sure doesn’t seem to make sense to me. Rightfully (technically),the bhikkhunis should invite mahayana(dharmaguptaka) bhikkhus instead of theravada bhikkhus together with the mahayana bhikkhunis,to ordain new bhikkhunis.Isn’t that more proper & legitimate?

    It is said the dharmaguptaka claimed themselves to be “more superior” than the arahants (in other words theravada).Their texts is said to be in chinese &sanskrit.It is widely accepted that gautama buddha taught in pali,which is said to be a magadha dialect.It makes sense,as buddha also taught to scavengers,courtesans during his time.My thinking tells me that if buddha taught in sanskrit,then only the brahmins could have access to buddha’s dhamma as sanksrit was only taught to the brahmins during buddha’s time.In this respect,the dharmaguptaka is in fact,one of the later schools after buddhism split from the original sangha.Theravada tradition is the elders lineage(thera means elder) said to be the oldest tradition of buddhism,whose authoritative text is the pali canon(pali tipitaka).Pali canon is said to be compiled &collated from the original oral recording of the buddha &his disciples passed down from the 500 arahants of the first council.Of course,there’s bound to have human errors in any text compilation or oral transmission,but the essence of the teachings remained intact & pure.So far,I’ve not found anything in the suttas that i disagree.Now,I can understand why some wanted to do away with pali &the garudhammas.

    It seems to me that there’s a lot of contradictions in the recent conflict within the theravada tradition,including the recent call for gender equality by ajahn brahm & allies.My critical thinking tell me that,in the spirit of equality,should’t ajahn brahm be giving equality to the bhikkhunis to speak for themselves on gender equality?Somehow,it appears to people that he seemed to be the spokesman for the bhikkhunis & monopolize the agenda.Don’t the bhikkhunis have the freedom &equality to speak solely for themselves,raise their own funds &be the spokewoman of their own bhikkhunis sangha to spearhead their aspiration &agenda? Why it seems, ajahn brahm is the one said to be desperately going around raising funds particularly in SEAsia & Asia,for the bhikkhunis, & putting himself for instance “for sale”, apparently said to be for the bhikkhunis? Looks to me, he is dominating the show which appear to me, to be an obvious contradiction of gender equality. Aren’t the bhikkhunis supposed to have their own equality?Does that make sense? No offence.

    Anyway,since you claimed in your earlier post that you were no more a theravadin for 10 years now, to clear our doubts,does that also mean that, ajahn brahm, analayo bhikkhu, ayya taathaaloka & allies,are all equally no more a theravadin or were not a theravadin all along but led us to believe so? And that all along they have also been following this dharmaguptaka or agama lineage & vinaya? If it’s true,i can understand all the fuss behind the garudhammas, gender inequality,thai theravada disputes & controversy. I also can’t help noticing (i may be wrong on this),the jhana that ajahn brahm taught seems to be very different from the jhanas taught in the pali canon.His dhamma talks &his unprecedented ascending shout of the three sadhus are also all very different from the other theravada monks.If it’s true,then somehow,can’t help feeling betrayed. Pls. ignore those comments that are not agreeable to you. It’s up to people to think critically in the spirit of equality.

    • Hi Angel,

      Regarding the information on the Dharmaguptakas, this is all interesting stuff, but it’s hard to know what any of it means without a close examination of the original sources. Most of the things that are said about the Dharmaguptakas applies at a late period, is spoken by people partisan to the Mahayana, and/or also applies to the Sri Lankan Theravada. The only texts that we have that are unequivocally of the Dharmaguptakas are their Vinaya, the Dirgha Agama, the Sariputrabhidharmasastra, and some Gandhari fragments. None of these have any Mahayanist elements, with the exception of some of the fragments, which of course are likely to be extra-canonical. These are, it must be remembered, remnants of things that were once in a monastery library; you will find Mahayana books in Theravada monasteries in plenty of places today. There are stacks of similar Mahayana-type influences all over ancient Sri Lanka, this is nothing unusual; treatises on the paramis, dharani-type literature, Bodhisattva images, and so on. Mahayana was a movement that grew up alongside and intertwined with the early schools, and none of them, claims to doctrinal purity aside, remained uninfluenced.

      Your statements about Ajahn Brahm not giving the bhikkhunis equality to speak are ridiculous. We support fair treatment of all human beings. We’re not the ones silencing anyone: on the contrary, the patriarchy specializes in silencing the voices of women. Look around, you’ll see plenty of vocal and articulate bhikkhunis speaking for themselves.

  45. angel lau says:

    But,it sure looks funny &confusing to me,in the case of those new bhikkhunis who self-proclaimed themselves “theravada bhikkhunis” who were,in fact, ordained by a group of pure theravada bhikkhus co-jointly with a group of pure dharmaguptaka(mahayana) bhikkhunis.Does it make sense then for the new bhikkhunis to proclaim as “theravada bhikkhunis”?.Sorry,it sure doesn’t seem to make sense to me. Rightfully (technically),the bhikkhunis should invite mahayana(dharmaguptaka) bhikkhus instead of theravada bhikkhus together with the mahayana bhikkhunis,to ordain new bhikkhunis.Isn’t that more proper & legitimate?

    In this respect,the dharmaguptaka is in fact,one of the later schools after buddhism split from the original sangha.

    from the Vinaya perspective there’re no theravada, dharmaguptaka, whatever monks and nuns, there’re just Vinaya monks and nuns
    why would they need Mahayana monks if they have their own? it’s the nuns who were lacking
    plus it adds to the legitimacy to the ordination in the eyes of the traditionalists

    suppose for certain recipe you need eggs and sugar, eggs you have, but not the sugar, when you go to the local store you don’t buy eggs, because you already have them, you only buy sugar

    there’s no split in the Sangha as long as Vinaya is maintained, Vinaya doesn’t recognize sects, it only recognizes the procedure

    imagine football, as long as a player adheres to the rules of the game he can play for any football club anywhere in the universe, it’s only the violation of the rules which disqualifies him, and so although clubs are many and different, all their players are football players regardless of the club’s name, location and branding

    i invite you to read Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s illuminating essay “The Revival of Bhikkhuni Ordination in the Theravada Tradition”

  46. Hi Баян Купи-ка
    So the Theravada and Dharmaguptaka vinaya are the same? The idea that monks or nuns have ordained as Theravada monastics is incorrect?

  47. Hi Баян Купи-ка
    Nice egg & football analogies.
    It’s true that all bhikkhus & bhikkhunis follow the vinaya,otherwise they’re not considered fully-ordained.Pls. allow me to provide here brief information (copy & paste from reliable source on the internet) on the schools & division of buddhism,to see if there’s any possibility to reconcile the two schools.Hopefully Bhante doesn’t mind.

    “”Divisions among the early Buddhist schools came about due to doctrinal or practical differences in the views of the Buddhist Sangha following the death of the Buddha.The first division occurred around 100 years after the death of the Buddha, and resulted in the Sthaviravādin and Mahāsanghaka schools. Opinions differ on the cause of the split with the Sthaviravādins recording that the other party were lax monks who had ceased to follow all the Vinaya rules. The Mahāsanghikas, however, pointed to the Sthaviravādin wishing to add more rules to the Vinaya.Following the first division, the Mahāsanghikas split into several sub-schools of minor importance.The Sthaviravādin School had, by the time of King Ashoka divided into three sub-schools. It was regrouped during the Third Council under the name of Vibhajjavdins, but later it reverted back to its old name in the Pali language as Theravada.The Sammitīya School later became known as the Pudgalavādin but died out around the 9th or 10th century CE. The Sarvāstivādin school was most prominent in the northwest of India and provided some of the doctrines that would later be adopted by the Mahāyana. It split into two major sub-sects, the Vaibhāsika and Sautrāntika Schools.The Theravāda School of Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand is descended from the Sthaviravādin School.The schools of Tibetan Buddhism still use a Sarvāstivāda vinaya, and Chinese schools use one from the Dharmagupta school.

    Another term for Buddhism is dharmavinaya..At the heart of the Vinaya is a set of rules known as Patimokkha (Pali), or Pratimoksha (Sanskrit). The Vinaya was orally passed down from the Buddha to his disciples. Eventually, three different Vinayas arose in Buddhism, based upon geographical/cultural differences and the different Buddhist schools that developed. Buddhists in Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand follow the Theravadin Vinaya, which has 227 rules for the bhikkhus (male monastics)and 311 for the bhikkhunis (female monastics). Buddhists in China, parts of Japan, and Korea follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, which has 250 rules for the bhikkhus and 348 rules for the bhikkhunis. Buddhists in Tibet and part of Japan follow the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, which has 253 rules for the bhikkhus and 364 rules for bhikkhunis.The Dharmaguptaka doctrine appears to have been characterized by an understanding of the Buddha as separate in essence, and superior to, the monastic community, in opposition to the belief of other schools.

    The Gandharan Buddhist texts, the earliest Buddhist texts ever discovered, are apparently dedicated to the teachers of the Dharmaguptaka school.They tend to confirm a flourishing of the Dharmaguptaka school in northwestern India around the 1st century CE, and this would explain the subsequent influence of the Dharmaguptakas in Central Asia and then northeastern Asia.The Dharmaguptakas regarded the path of a śrāvaka (śrāvakayāna) and the path of a bodhisattva (bodhisattvayāna) to be separate.””

    In the theravada tradition,firstly,the fundamental problem now is,there’s no theravada bhikkhunis to ordain new bhikkhunis,as it is said the bhikkhuni lineage has died out.On top of that,it is said they do not recognize dual ordination with Dharmaguptaka(Mahayana) bhikkhunis.I think,to the theravada, it’s considered not legitimate & it made sense based on the.distinct differences in vinayas & the main fact that “The Dharmaguptaka doctrine appears to have been characterized by an understanding of the Buddha as separate in essence, and superior to, the monastic community, in opposition to the belief of other schools.” I’ve read somewhere,some dharmaguptaka school adopt tantra. Tantra is a practice in Tibetan buddhism which has adopted the hindu culture or religion of Bonism.The other fundamental problem is the garudhamma. Another is,whether it was the declared wish of the Buddha. Many tend to use the four fold assembly as justification,which to me, is misleading, as there is no mention in the pali canon of any four fold assembly in mahaparinibbana except the 8 assemblies.To me,assembly is to assemble all the bhikkhu,bhikkhunis,laymen &laywomen together in one gathering,I may be wrong.

    I also find that to revive means is to go back to the time of the buddha i.e.the past.In the pali canon,the first sermon of the buddha is dhammacakkapavattana sutta i.e. turning of the Wheel of dhamma in motion.In motion means the dhamma is not stagnant but moving forward according to time & space i.e. changes.My thinking is that it is not real or true to revive a past event & it’s not a true dhamma to revive something based on concept or ideology.It seems to me too idealistic. Ain’t we supposed to live in the present moment? Hopefully,my arguments make sense. Pls ignore what is not agreeable to you.No offence.

  48. angel lau says:

    In motion means the dhamma is not stagnant but moving forward according to time & space i.e. changes.My thinking is that it is not real or true to revive a past event & it’s not a true dhamma to revive something based on concept or ideology.It seems to me too idealistic. Ain’t we supposed to live in the present moment? Hopefully,my arguments make sense.

    they totally do since they perfectly fit the position of bhikkhuni ordination proponents, namely: the times have changed, there’re women who want to ordain, let’s go with the flow and since there’s demand lets furnish the supply

  49. Peter Durham says:

    Hi Баян Купи-ка
    So the Theravada and Dharmaguptaka vinaya are the same? The idea that monks or nuns have ordained as Theravada monastics is incorrect?

    they are not entirely the same, but as far as i understand the existing differences don’t render conjoint ordination impossible and cannot serve as ground for its subsequent defeat

    to the best of my knowledge there’s no mention of Theravada in the Vinaya, therefore the conclusion is that they ordained as Vinaya monastics

  50. Peter Durham, my conclusion is shared by the author of the very blog entry you gave a link to, namely Ven. Sujato
    or rather it’s his conclusion which is shared by myself

    It was decided not to include any bhikkhunis from the Mahayana tradition, since some conservative Theravadins might object to this. For the same reason, the two Korean bhikkhus who were staying at Bodhinyana were respectfully asked to remain outside the sīmā boundary. This by no means implies that the presence of Mahayana Sangha would in any way affect the ordination. On the contrary, as qualified bhikkhus and bhikkhunis ordained according to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, they are clearly saṁvāsa (in communion) according to the Vinaya, and none of the monastics who took part in the ordination had any problem with including them. Nevertheless, many Theravadin Sangha perceive Mahayanists as belonging to a fundamentally different order, if not indeed a different religion, and could use their inclusion as a way of criticizing the procedure.
    […] emails were sent to the Western Ajahns around the world, and there was an instantaneous reaction against the ordination.
    […] The majority of the messages we received expressed support for bhikkhuni ordination in principle, but not the way it was done.
    […] A few responses were much more aggressive, with implied and explicit threats from Ajahns expressed in email, fax, and phone calls. I called their bluff in emails on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the threatening, aggressive messages stopped cold.

    or do you refer me to the 68 comments under the entry?

  51. Баян Купи-ка The title of the blog post is ““How Australia’s first Theravada bhikkhuni ordination happened” but you seem to be saying they are “Vinaya monastics” (bhikkhuni). You don’t seem to acknowledge “Theravada bhikkhuni”.

  52. a think it’s just conventional speech to maintain some coherence and emphasize that the ordination occurred within Theravada school

    Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso says:

    The different sects of Theravada are called “nanasamvasa” in the Vinaya. They are separate communities each performing their own acts of governance (Sanghakamma), even within the same monastic boundary. The Vinaya states that there are only two origins of separate communities (nanasamvasabhumi – Vinaya Mahavagga, chapter 10, verse 1.10):
    1. A monk decides for himself to belong to a community separate from others, or

    2. The Sangha forces a monk out of their community by enacting the severe penalty of Ukkhepaniyakamma by a motion and three announcements.

    The second cause for a separate community is not used these days. This leaves only the first, that of personal choice. Put simply, according to Vinaya, a monk may choose to perform Sanghakamma with any group of monks he feels comfortable with. There is no legal impediment preventing a Theravada bhikkhu from performing a Sanghakamma with a Mahayana bhikksu. Indeed, it may be accurately said that there are no Theravada or Mahayana bhikkhus, there are just bhikkhus, according to the Vinaya, who happen to follow Theravada customs or Mahayana practices. Thus, a monk ordained in a Theravada ceremony may join a Mahayana monastery without needing to be re-ordained.

    as far as i understand Ven. Sujato is in agreement with this point of view, so are you forcing on him a different one using a title of his own article?

  53. Баян Купи-ка I am not forcing a point of view on Ven. Sujato. It just seems like an inconsistency in message. Баян Купи-ка are you a student of Ajahn Brahm?

  54. Hi Баян Купи-ка
    Pls. don’t take my interpretation of “in motion” as what the Buddha actually meant.It could have meant literally to move or spread the Buddha’s dhamma. I said it in the context of change & the factual divisions in buddhism.It cannot be refuted that buddhism did indeed split into many traditions & sects or schools of buddhism,according to the history of buddhism, with each now having their own vinayas & teachings, quite distinctively different from one another.For instance,some schools is said that the buddha’s teaching is kept secret & exclusive only to those who must first received an initiation from a teacher in a teacher-student relationship.Is this what the buddha taught?From what i read, all the teachings were revealed to us. In this respect,in this present time,we’ve to acknowledge the various traditions that exist todate due to the various teachings & vinayas in each tradition.

    I think,what you said is an idea from what ajahn brahm said in his paper, “Indeed, it may be accurately said that there are no Theravada or Mahayana bhikkhus, there are just bhikkhus, according to the Vinaya, who happen to follow Theravada customs or Mahayana practices. Thus, a monk ordained in a Theravada ceremony may join a Mahayana monastery without needing to be re-ordained.” My understanding is,that is what he said & that could be his own idea & interpretation,not what the Theravada tradition or Mahayana tradition entailed, neither was it unanimously agreeable by the theravada or mahayana tradition & sangha.I don’t know if you agree,but it sure doesn’t make sense to me,when in the present times there is existence of the various traditions & sects. IMO,we need to be very clear in terms of traditions as the teachings & vinayas (precepts) are each very different.For instance,the theravada tradition takes only one meal but the mahayana tradition takes 2 or more meals.There’re many more other differences both in terms of spiritual practice & spiritual aspirations in each tradition. In conclusion,to me,it’s not true that they’re the same.

    Back to the topic of what you said, “the times have changed, there’re women who want to ordain, let’s go with the flow and since there’s demand lets furnish the supply”.Yes,we have to acknowledge this change in time,equally,we have to acknowledge that the theravada bhikkhuni lineage has died out with no existing theravada bhikkhunis available to ordain new bhikkhunis,so for the theravada tradition.Based on that,it is said the revival of bhikkhunis in the theravada tradition is deemed not legitimate. However,I noticed that there’s currently legitimate nuns in the theravada tradition. In addition,since you said they are all bhikkhunis ordained following the same vinaya,then why is there a need to proclaim themselves as theravada? Why not Mahayana, since they’re the same & since they were actually ordained under the dharmaguptaka vinaya &by their bhikkhunis?

    In the theravada,it is said,even the minor rules laid down by the buddha was kept intact,what more the heavy rule like the garudhamma? I’m not sure how far this is true, but it sure appears to me that those new bhikkhunis who wanted to ordain under the theravada were not only wanted to ordain, but they also wanted to fight for gender equality in the monastic.It is also said,they do not honor the garudhamma claiming that it’s not from the buddha.but a later addition.Anyway,all my comments &opinions are mine alone & do not represent anyone or the theravada tradition & sangha. With this,I hope the sangha members could research more in-depthly on the interpretation of the “Mara former temptation” so as not to misinterpret the buddha or slander the buddha. I think I’ve taken too much space here,so no further comments. I thank &appreciate Bhante for allowing me to post all my comments without censorship.I may be wrong in some of my comments,Pls. do your own research & critical thinking. Pls do not take them personally or take them to be correct. Hopefully,there’s amicable & mutual understanding within the myriads of traditions & schools of buddhism in Buddhism.

  55. Peter Durham, no i’m not Ajahn Brahmavamso’s student

    angel lau says

    buddhism did indeed split into many traditions & sects or schools of buddhism,according to the history of buddhism, with each now having their own vinayas & teachings, quite distinctively different from one another.
    … vinayas (precepts) are each very different
    … it’s not true that they’re the same

    There’re many more other differences both in terms of spiritual practice & spiritual aspirations in each tradition. In conclusion,to me,it’s not true that they’re the same.
    why is there a need to proclaim themselves as theravada? Why not Mahayana
    In the theravada,it is said,even the minor rules laid down by the buddha was kept intact,what more the heavy rule like the garudhamma?

    you say they’re distinctively and very different, some scholars say the discrepancies are minor, to me the scholars opinion is more trustworthy
    it’s not true they’re the same, but then nobody said they were, at least not in this discussion
    please remember that we’re only speaking of Vinaya, therefore differences in spiritual practice & spiritual aspirations are irrelevant
    why Theravada and not Mahayana is because as far as Dhamma tenets are concerned they follow Theravada tradition
    here’s some opinion on Theravada adherence to the rules
    Paul David Numrich says:

    “The Master did not hesitate to modify the rules to make the life of monks and nuns easier in different climatic and social conditions” (Wijayaratna 1990:53). Before the Buddha died, he granted the bhikkhu- sangha permission to make necessary modifications of minor vinaya rules, but the bhikkhu-sangha has never been able to determine just which rules the Buddha considered “minor.”[6] Consequently, the Theravāda tradition devised a paradoxical hermeneutic of vinaya adaptation which included, on the one hand, strict adherence to the ancient disciplinary code, and, on the other hand, a set of “amendments” or “new rules” standing outside the ancient texts (pālimuttaka-vinicchaya) and reached through consensual agreement among the monks (katikāvata). In this way, “without changing the letter of the law, monks discovered ways and means of overcoming the difficulty [of following some rules in their original form] by interpreting the law without compromising themselves” (W. Rahula 1978:63; cf. Wimalaratna 1991).

    [6] The Theravāda texts tell us that the Buddha’s beloved disciple, Aananda, neglected to query the Buddha about the “minor” rules and that the First Buddhist Council could not make a determination thereupon (see Dīgha Nikāya Ī, 154; Vinaya Ī, 287-8).

    Paul David Numrich: Vinaya in Theravada Temples in the United States, University of Illinois at Chicago
    ISSN 1076-9005; Volume 1 1994

    it appears that Theravada tradition follows some rules which weren’t laid down by the Buddha and so it’s incorrect to claim its practices to be entirely pure, original and unadulterated

    to back up your opinion of incompatibility of ordination status across different traditions you would need to prove that a bhikkhu/ni ordained in any of the traditions which use Vinaya must re-ordain upon transition to another tradition, Ajahn Brahmavamso says they must not

  56. Баян Купи So when you make the suggestion to “break away”. Who should be breaking away and from what?

  57. Peter Durham, Western Sangha breaking away from Asian Theravada tradition or its certain branches institutionally so consensus with them isn’t required

    It seems you’re mostly asking questions without offering your own opinion, i don’t see a discussion happening, if you disagree, see flaws, inconsistencies, say so openly and unequivocally, we’re not in a interrogation session, are we?

    on an unrelated note, interesting perspective:

    Yet, though the Buddha issued a licence for the sangha to modify or abolish minor rules, none has dared to do so. But in order to meet changing circumstances, the sangha has resorted to ways and means which, without changing the letter of the law, has enabled them to interpret the Vinaya Rules to achieve their desired goals. These interpretations were first made at the Mahaviharaya at Anuradhapura and are known as palimuttaka-vinicchaya which means decisions not found in the original canonical text. The desired aim is achieved but the rule remains ostensibly the same. The façade is faithfully maintained. Behind it, though, the practice has changed.

    This was the device that was resorted to ‘religionise’ lands gifted to the temples and the monks soon agreed upon a new Vinaya convention known as ‘labha-sima’, income boundaries. As can be seen, where there’s a will, there’s a way and the sangha did not tarry when it came to accepting the land donated, even tanks or irrigational reservoirs. But today when there is a mounting massive clamour to restore the old Theravada Bhikkuni Order and permit women to participate in monastic life as Bhikkunis, Lanka’s monks stubbornly refuse to shift from their stance, religiously pointing to the vinaya code and holding it inviolable.
    If down the ages the bhikku-sangha did not show any tardiness to modify vinaya rules when it came to issues material, like land, then why should they now tarry and refuse to do likewise when it comes to matters spiritual, like the restoration of the Bhikkuni Order?

  58. Баян Купи-ка Well it would seem that the community of Ajahn Brahm has already broken away and has shown that consensus is not required.
    I’m sorry if you feel that this is an interrogation session but if you look back at my previous posts you will see that I have mentioned openly where I have perceived there to be inconsistencies.
    My own opinion is that if the conditions are right for Theravada Bhikkuni to flourish they will flourish and this won’t be dependent on a “Mandela” or “Gandhi” type character but will come from a groundswell (possibly this already happening).
    I am not a scholar but it would seem (from my non expert opinion) that an overly legalistic approach is always going to meet hurdles. What happens when a transgender person who has been assigned a new gender by law wishes to ordain? I imagine that if we look at that situation from a vinaya perspective that would possibly not be possible but it might bring the Sangha into conflict with the values/laws of some societies.
    I think that for Bhikkuni to flourish in traditional Theravada countries there needs to be an acknowledgment of a Theravada lineage (in a practical sense) and that the Bhikkuni order is seen/perceived to have been re-established rather than this notion, which may or may not be correct, that Dharmagupta and Theravada are the same.
    I think there needs to be deep respect and sensitivity to the cultures which have allowed the Buddha’s teaching to travel through time up to this point.
    My opinions on the subject are non static.

  59. Peter Durham says:

    What happens when a transgender person who has been assigned a new gender by law wishes to ordain?

    that’s a good question, don’t know if this is what inspired it, but there’s a short Thai movie ‘Bhikkhuni’ tackling the same question

    as for the rest, Ajahn Brahm didn’t break away of his own accord, he was expelled, i’m not sure if performance of ordination without elders consent is a good reason for expulsion, maybe it is

    i think legalistic and historical approach has been assumed exactly in order to overcome the hurdle of the traditionalists obstinacy in an attempt to persuade them as well as to influence public opinion with reason

    but even if the Western Sangha breaks away formally, the suggested legalistic solutions are still relevant and viable, because it’s Vinaya which the ordination procedure must adhere to and the restoration of bhikkhuni Sangha be based on

  60. Баян Купи-ка if you read the question and answer sessions with Phra Payutto you will see that there are good arguments which would negate the legalistic and historical route that has been trodden by some and the notion of unified “Vinaya monastics”

    I do not believe there is a consensus of view amongst the “Western Sangha”. I don’t even think there is a western Theravada sangha which is distinct accept possibly in Australia.

  61. Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso says:

    Dear Thanissara, I have just read your excellent article in “Present”, but would like to correct a couple of minor points. Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth was never a member of the “Elders Council”, I was never invited to any of their meetings, nor was I ever informed of what they discussed or agreed upon. This council was made up of senior monks from Amaravati, Chithurst, Harnham, Devon Vihara, the Swiss monastery, the Italian monastery, Abhayagiri and Bodhinyanarama in New Zealand. This was because Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth began when Ajahn Chah sent Ajahn Jagaro to Australia. It was a direct offshoot of Wat Pah Pong. It did not originate as an offshoot of Amaravati/Chithurst, and so was never under Ajahn Sumedho. This was why we were never part of the “Amaravati Group”. For this reason, the Sangha in Perth felt no obligation to consult with this council prior to the Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations last year. That I did personally inform Ajahn Sumedho and Vajiro about the ordinations about 10 days’ beforehand was out of courtesy, not obligation. However, I did consult the Thai Elders Council (Mahatherasamakom) through its leader, Somdej Pootajarn. He famously told me three times in response to my direct question on Bhikkhuni ordination in Australia that “Thai Sangha Law does not extend to the West”. I also consulted with Phra Prom Gunaporn (Phra Payutto), probably the most esteemed scholar currently in Thailand, and he advised to act compassionately. A copy of his letter is posted on Ajahn Sujato’s Blog. I also consulted with the head of Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, Phra Dhammakosajarn, but he declined to reply.The oft repeated charge against the Perth Sangha of non consultation is a myth. Lastly. I was organising the 2009 WAM. When I asked for subjects to discuss, only Ajahn Sucitto gave any suggestions. All the other Theras supplied nothing. It was myself who suggested that we discuss Bhikkhuni Ordination at the WAM. No-one else showed any interest. Once I discovered in November about the Five Points, I realised why none of these monks were interested in discussing Bhikkhuni Ordination. All is well in Perth. The Sanghas are thriving, the lay supporters are growing in numbers, and tonight I give my first talk in Bangkok since the Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations. With Mega Metta, Ajahn Brahm

    so Phra Payutto didn’t advise against the ordination
    but then, judging by his answers presented in the books you referred to, he’s a great diplomat, and he even admits that he seldom implicates his personal opinion on matters discussed, this type of diplomacy is known for never giving a definitive answer to any question and rather asking rhetoric questions in return
    he depicts hypothetical situations implying that this is what will be detrimental to the further existence and general good of the Sangha
    alright maybe for the Asian or Thai Sangha it will, but hardly for the Western, which is not yet entrapped in the web of prejudices and ‘traditions’ and not plagued with inertia and entropy

    the following passage basically sums up his entire argument and gives the answer for him

    Phra Payutto says:

    There are no historical accounts of a bhikkhuni order existing in Thailand. The closest thing
    that exists is a legend describing the time when Ven. Soṇa and Ven. Uttara first came to Suvarnabhumi. According to this legend there was a terrible child-eating yakkha1 rampant in the land, and these two monks were able to subdue it. The people thus developed great faith in Buddhism and thousands of them, both men and women, went forth as renunciants. There is, however, no trace of a bhikkhuni order existing in Suvarnabhumi or in Thailand.

    not in Thailand, because it’s inconceivable

    there’s no reason however that it must be inconceivable elsewhere

  62. I don’t know but it sounds like the west kept accusing the east especially the thai theravada sangha and wat pah pong endlessly for what they did not do wrong. It was ajahn brahm who went ahead with the Perth bhikkhini ordination few days before the Western Annual Meeting 2009 in Perth. It looks like he was the one anxious and impatient about it, in what looks like a modus operandi. So far, the east and thai theravada or wat pah pong did not interfere or obstruct any bhikkhuni ordinations in Perth or in any other countries in the west. All those females in the west and east who wanted to ordain have managed to successfully ordained. This bhikkhuni ordination has perhaps been amplified unnecessarily and out of control by ajahn brahm with his gender equality. For many years, buddhists from SEA have been supporting Perth monastery and have made substantial financial contributions to their projects in jhana grove and now the bhikkhuni project in Perth. I also contributed four figure of my hard earned money during ajahn brahm’s fund raising here. It hurts and it’s painful to hear all the baseless blames and accusations hurled at us in the east and especially towards the thai theravada sangha and wat pah pong who were innocent as they were abiding their country’s monastic law and their legal rights which is unfairly criticized by the west especially by Perth. Sorry to say this, it looks like there’s lack of gratitude, respect and brotherhood.

  63. Баян Купи-ка I linked to Phra Payutto because he offers a differing point of view on legalistic and historical route (Dharmaguptaka) and the notion of unified “Vinaya monastics”.

    I am still not clear who the Western Sangha is?

  64. Peter Durham, a read the part where he discusses restoration through single ordination by the bhikkhus only, which is supposed to be a less controversial route thanks to complete elimination of external factors, which nevertheless still inspires him to raise numerous rhetoric questions

    Western Sangha is the Sangha based in the Western countries, manned and governed mainly by residents of these countries, if there’s none yet as a single organization or association, one ought to come into being

    possible internal obstacle which it might need to deal with if nuns ordination process goes forward, is rejection on the part of Asian immigrant communities, who as far as i understand are the principal supporters of the Sangha in the West

    therefore Western Sangha will benefit from developing reliance on the natives, not in the least because second generation immigrants generally tend to not uphold their parents customs

  65. I was just about to post a pdf of a booklet by Ven. Analayo discussing the legality of Bhikkhuni ordination within the Theravadan lineage, as I thought it might be of interest to some people discussing the issue here. However, I cannot see how/if i can attach a pdf here. If someone can let me know I would be happy to do so. Otherwise, perhaps Ven Sujato could do so (Bhante, I’m referring to the little booklet printed for free distribution (includes multiple languages), without any copyright restrictions. I assume you probably have copy.)

    • Yes, thanks Peter. This is the same material. It was made into a booklet “for free distribution” which includes not only the English, but also translations in Sinhala, Thai & Burmese. (sorry if it has already been posted; I haven’t read all the discussions)

  66. Hi Bhante
    Wait a minute.This is very interesting.Fyi,those information on the dharmaguptaka is said to be written by those early renowned scholars & historians,not by buddhologists (i may be wrong).So,according to you,those information on dharmaguptakas “were spoken by people partisan to the Mahayana, and/or also applies to the Sri Lankan Theravada in the later period .The only texts that we have that are unequivocally of the Dharmaguptakas are their Vinaya, the Dirgha Agama, the Sariputrabhidharmasastra, and some Gandhari fragments.” By this, does it mean that there was a separate independent tradition of this early dharmaguptaka school which is neither the present mahayana nor theravada(elder)?It sure looks to me,it predates the early mahayana & theravada schools. Or,were you saying that both the early &present mahayana &theravada(elder) schools came from this early dharmaguptaka source? If it’s true, then, what exactly is the original source of this early dharmaguptaka school &who was the original spiritual founder & teacher? This is getting very confusing for me. I’m afraid i don’t see any sensible connection or co-relation there between the early dharmaguptaka & the theravada(elder) schools.According to the history of buddhism, the theravada(elder) school is said to have it’s original source from Gotama Buddha & his disciples,later their teachings passed down to us by the 500 arahants from the 1st buddhist council.

    Currently,there’re some modern buddhologists & modern scholars that claimed that there’s no such religion as buddhism;that the Buddha did not call his followers “bhikkhus or bhikkhunis”,but “devotees”; that the buddha taught the religion of ‘brahman’ or ‘brahmayana’ (a.k.a. godhead or absolute); that the ‘tathagata’ is a brahman & there’s a Self or soul (a.k.a. metaphysic); that the doctrine is in sanskrit & claimed as “original buddhism”. By these,the only school or religion that i can think of which predates buddhism is the Upanishads or Vedanta (Vedic) said to have its origin from Hindu lineage/religion.These buddhologists is said to claim that there’s no “theravada” & they tend to condemn “theravada” claiming themselves as ‘more superior’ & the “original buddhism”.Some went on to say that Gotama Buddha was not the founder of the Four Noble Truths but got the teaching from the sanskrit doctrine of this so called “original buddhism”. Currently in the west,there’re many new forms of schools with different names,claiming to be buddhism & based on what the buddha taught. With this,to me,I find that it is very crucial to identify with the lineage/tradition/school in modern buddhism, to avoid confusion due to the vast disparity in terms of spiritual beliefs & spiritual practice, and now its origins.

    Bhante,so,with due respect,is this early dharmaguptaka school that you were talking about,referring to or related to this so called “original buddhism”? And is this the original source of the early dharmaguptaka that you were referring to? If it’s true, then it sure looks to me contradicting the Buddha’s core teaching in the Pali Canon. If it’s not true,then exactly what is this early dharmaguptaka that you’ve been talking about,& what is the original source of this school? Appreciate,if you could clarify.

    According to the pali canon,it is said the Buddha taught that all conditioned things are subject to change,there’s no permanent entity in this world & everything arises & ceases due to causes and conditions.According to the Pali canon,the Buddha taught the dependent origination; eight fold noble path which include the four noble truth during his first sermon (dhammacakkapavatthana sutta),after his supra-mundane enlightenment.

    On my above statement on ajahn brahm,I said that based on what I noticed. I noticed that ajahn brahm was the one who frequently travels around overseas to raise funds for the bhikkhunis in the past 10 years, based on his overseas travel schedule & from the announcements put up by those overseas buddhist societies. Thought,since it’s about equality for bhikkhunis,thought the bhikkhunis themselves should be doing the travelling overseas to give dhamma talks & to raise their own funds.Thought it didn’t quite make sense as it’s an obvious contradiction of gender equality.Nothing personal against ajahn brahm. No offence.

  67. Angel: “IMO,we need to be very clear in terms of traditions as the teachings & vinayas (precepts) are each very different. For instance, the theravada tradition takes only one meal but the mahayana tradition takes 2 or more meals”

    You made my day 🙂

  68. In this Ajahn Brahm’s You Tube video on Buddhism and Christianity (part 1),it is said:
    “Philo Alexandria mentioned there was a great monastery & that monastery had these monks & nuns called the therapeutae.” “The idea of celibate monks & nuns especially bald headed was actually pre-European culture.” “There’s a strong argument that “therapeutae” was “theravada”.” To me, this is so not true. It could be a juggling of words & facts.

    “Theravada” is a Pali word which means “doctrine of the elders”. “Thera” means elders & “vada” means doctrine.

    Whereas,”therapeutae” according to merriam-webster:
    “”Ther·a·peu·tae plural noun \ˌtherəˈpyü(ˌ)tē\
    Full Definition of THERAPEUTAE: ascetics of both sexes held to have dwelt anciently near Alexandria and described by Philo as devoted to contemplation and meditation.
    Origin of THERAPEUTAE
    New Latin, from Greek therapeutai, plural of therapeutēs attendant, worshiper, medical attendant, from therapeuein to attend.
    Therapeutae (Concise Encyclopedia)
    Sect of Jewish ascetics believed to have settled along Lake Mareotis near Alexandria in the 1st century AD. Their origin and fate are unknown, and the only account of them is attributed to Philo Judaeus. They shared with the Essenes a dualistic view of the body and soul (see dualism) but differed from them in that their objective was “wisdom.” They viewed the scriptures as allegorical. Devoting themselves entirely to prayer and spiritual exercise, members lived in isolation for six days of the week and met on the Sabbath for discourse and a common meal.

    The Therapeutae were a Jewish sect which flourished in Alexandria and other parts of the Diaspora of Hellenistic Judaism in the final years of the Second Temple period.The primary source concerning the Therapeutae is the account De vita contemplativa (“The Contemplative Life”), purportedly by the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BCE – 50 CE). The authorship has been called into question because of the different stance on Greek philosophy of this work from that of other works that were written by Philo and because elsewhere Philo makes no mention of the Therapeutae[1] although this article will refer to the author as Philo. The author appears to have been personally acquainted with them. The pseudepigraphic Testament of Job is possibly also a Therapeutae text.[2][3]””

    “”Philo records that they were “philosophers” (cf. I.2) and speaks specifically about a group that lived on a low hill by the Lake Mareotis close to Alexandria in circumstances resembling lavrite life (cf. III.22), and were “the best” of a kind given to “perfect goodness” that “exists in many places in the inhabited world” (cf. III.21). Philo was unsure of the origin of the name and derives the name Therapeutae/Therapeutides from Greek θεραπεύω in the sense of “cure” or “worship” (cf. I.2).
    The term Therapeutae (plural) is Latin, from Philo’s Greek plural Therapeutai (Θεραπευταί). The term therapeutes means one who is attendant to the gods[4] although the term, and the related adjective therapeutikos[5] carry in later texts the meaning of attending to heal, or treating in a spiritual or medical sense. The Greek feminine plural Therapeutrides (Θεραπευτρίδες) is sometimes encountered for their female members.[6][7][8] The term therapeutae may occur in relation to followers of Asclepius at Pergamon, and therapeutai may also occur in relation to worshippers of Sarapis in inscriptions, such as on Delos.[9] See Therapeutae of Asclepius.””

    I also read that these ghandarans greeks are good in art of war. Alexander the Great?For me,I find there’s a big difference between “therapeutae & “theravada”,one is Greek the other Pali. No idea how some people could have this ridiculous idea that “theravada” actually came from “therapeutae”.Somehow, I’m beginning to see the big picture.

  69. angel lau says:

    For me,I find there’s a big difference between “therapeutae & “theravada”,one is Greek the other Pali.
    No idea how some people could have this ridiculous idea that “theravada” actually came from “therapeutae”.Somehow, I’m beginning to see the big picture.

    Angel, could you please clarify from what statement of Ven. Brahmavamso follows the conclusion that Theravada originates with the Middle Eastern Therapeutae sect?

  70. Hi Баян Купи-ка
    I’d love to clarify. I’m afraid that was not precisely what I said. I wasn’t even talking about sect. I was talking about the words quote unquote therapeutae & theravada mentioned in the video. Not sure if you listened to the whole video. From @7.30 it says “And many people said that there’s a very strong argument that “therapeutae” was “theravada”.” Another problem I find with this statement is that there’s no solid reference & credibility of who exactly are these “many people said”. It looks to me that there’s no solid legitimate evidence to the claim that ” ‘therapeutae’ was ‘theravada’ “. It was solely based on the “many people said” ‘s speculation or imagination & play of words. So far, I’ve checked both the pali & english dictionaries but there wasn’t anything said that the word ‘therapeutae’ was ‘theravada’. Not sure if you agree with me but hopefully it makes sense.

  71. angel lau

    Ok, thank you for clarification

    actually interesting theory and a piece of work for historians, anthropologists and archaeologists unless it in advance is known to be false

    in fact he talks about both the sect and the name as harking back to Theravada, so in theory it is plausible that Therapeutae is warped Theravada

    what must be established though is whether at that time the word Theravada was already in use

    and he actually makes sense of the popular hypothesis that Jesus was a Buddhist monk, because it would be much easier for him to travel to Egypt to practise Buddhism than to India or Central Asia, all the more so that his family fled there

  72. Hi Баян Купи-ка
    You’re welcome. Based on fundamentals, imo,no way the two were related.”The term therapeutes means one who is attendant to the gods. The term therapeutae may occur in relation to followers of Asclepius at Pergamon, and therapeutai may also occur in relation to worshippers of Sarapis in inscriptions, such as on Delos.[9] See Therapeutae of Asclepius.”” Serapis (Σέραπις, Attic/Ionian Greek) or Sarapis (Σάραπις, Doric Greek) is a Graeco-Egyptian god. Asclepius (/æsˈkliːpiəs/; Greek: Ἀσκληπιός, Asklēpiós [asklɛːpiós]; Latin: Aesculapius) was a god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion.

    Please take a look at Merriam webster’s definition of “theravada” to have a better discernment of the two words.
    “”Definition of THERAVADA: a conservative branch of Buddhism comprising sects chiefly in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia and adhering to the original Pali scriptures alone and to the non theistic ideal of nirvana for a limited select number — compare mahayana
    Origin of THERAVADA
    Pali theravāda, literally, doctrine of the elders
    Theravada noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
    Major form of Buddhism, prevalent in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. It is the only survivor among the Hinayana schools of Buddhism, and it is generally regarded as the oldest, most orthodox, and most conservative form of Buddhism. It is relatively uninfluenced by other indigenous belief systems. It is believed to have survived intact from the 500 Elders, who followed in the tradition of the monks of the first Buddhist sangha. Theravada has no hierarchical authority structure, though seniority is respected in the sangha. It accepts the Pali canon (see Tripitaka) as authoritative scripture. Theravadins revere the historical Buddha but do not recognize the various celestial buddhas and ancillary gods associated with Mahayana Buddhism.””
    “Hinayana” is no longer used as it is a derogatory term)

    I find there’s another misconception @6.24 (Ajahn Brahm Buddhism & Christianity part 2) It says “In Asia the feet is supposed to be the lowest part of the body the dirtiest part of the body & anything respectable is not connected with the feet.” Don’t mean to revile or find fault with this, but thought this is very important to point out, since one of the Buddha’s symbols & objects of veneration is the feet. From what I know, in Indian culture, the feet is regarded as sacred.They would bow at sages or elders’s feet as a mark of respect & humility. It is a norm for them to kiss or touch the feet of their parents as a mark of respect & humility. I personally find the feet is worthy of honor & is to be grateful for.My argument is,the feet is the first contact with the ground earth. The feet is an important part of our body as they carry our whole body everywhere we go.The sole of the feet is sensitive, all the nerve endings conveyed at the feet, reason why we feel ticklish. The chinese foot reflexologists would treat the sole of the feet as the whole body organs. Does that make sense? With this, imo, sorry to say that the feet don’t deserve to be regarded as the dirtiest part of the body. I think everyone can agree that the dirtiest part of the body is the anus & bowel. Just out to straighten some misconceptions according to my understanding. No offence.

  73. angel lau

    if there’s indeed any link between Therapeutae and Theravada it doesn’t have to be etymological or semantic, therefore definitions from dictionaries are of little relevance, especially when they don’t confirm this link, the similarity lies in the assonance of the two words, the Greeks having heard a foreign word could have adapted it to pronunciation of their own language

    as for reverence expressed via bowing to the feet in Indian culture i fully agree with you, that is pretty obvious

  74. Hi Баян Купи-ка
    It’s an unproven assumption. According to Merriam-webster – Origin of THERAVADA Pali theravāda, literally, doctrine of the elders.First Known Use: 1882.

    I’m also able to find a few unproven assumptions & obvious mistakes in Ajahn Brahm’s paper on “gender equality”,but it’s enough I’m not going there. Do your own critical thinking.

  75. angel lau says:

    It’s an unproven assumption

    i don’t think he said it was proven

    assumptions are one of the driving force of science, scholars make assumptions then go on a scientific research in an attempt to confirm them

    Ajahn Brahm is not forbidden from making his own assumptions, is he?

  76. Hi Баян Купи-ка
    I think one should ask what is the intention behind the assumption. To buddhists,imo,intention is more important than assumption.Not sure if you agree with this one.

  77. Баян: «popular hypothesis that Jesus was a Buddhist monk, because it would be much easier for him to travel to Egypt to practise Buddhism than to India or Central Asia, all the more so that his family fled there»

    Not necessarily. At that period the entire Middle East was already covered by Greek colonies. In particular, we may recall the cities of Decapolis (a greek conglomerate in the Middle East since BC era:, where Jesus preached constantly and that his native Nazareth in Syria (Galilee) had much more in common with the Greek city-states than with more southern Judea. Thanks to active trading activities, those Greek city-states never lost communication with their compatriots in the Greek colonies of Central Asia and India, also established before AD and even before the invasion of Alexandr the Great. Besides, trade routes contributed to the rapid spread of various new teachings, so Jesus didn’t even have to go anywhere to learn about Buddhism.

    And by the way, one should not forget the New Testament also underwent massive editing like any other ancient text. So it’s unlikely that Jesus’ family travelled to Egypt. Biblical scholars confirm this.

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