A genuinely progressive Buddhism?

The situation may not be something confined to Thailand judging from the following quotes from an earlier thread:

1 Like

Yes, I agree, not a problem originating or specific to Thailand; however, considered the recent influences of Thai Forest Sangha, I think it might be perceived that way!

But my point is that a discriminatory organization or world view is not imo good buddhist practice. So no matter how many names, titles, degrees, appointments, or lineage responsibilities a sexist monk has… he is not presently acting as a member of the Sangha, or as a disciple of the Buddha.

Harsh opinion, maybe. But truth can set them free, and their own efforts.

1 Like

I am sure that many monastics feel the dissonance - as we do - but feel powerless to do anything about it. It does not have to be this way - IMO. Its good to be mindful and observe feelings as they arise and cease. Understand how they change, they are not reliable and, not-self. This does not mean we should ignore what is going on - what our feelings are telling us! We should give little importance to some and be heedful of others.

We have much to be grateful for - we are blessed through practicing the Dhamma, supporting the Sangha and, through honouring the Buddha. We honour and respect each other through taking care, through kindness and, taking responsibility for what we think, say and, do!

The sublime emotions and the peace, happiness and joy that is found in tranquility - in calm abiding - is wholesome and beneficial (good-medicine for the heart). We feel our way to awakening - we cannot think our way to freedom.

There is a time and place for rights and rituals that are celebratory and reverential but there is no point in continuing ritualistic observances and practices that serve no useful purpose. I know its hard to believe, but everything written in the good-books ain’t necessarily true or, good-advice? Some of what was said in the good-old-days may have exceeded its use by date.

“Best before date is about quality and not safety. … After the use by date, … [don’t practice] it, … or freeze it.” - Food Standards Agency

We just have to acknowledge the issue ‘fully’ and be willing to break with convention to resolve the ethical dilemma. Regardless, of what the traditionalists - and fundamentalists - say or do (that is up to them). May they be well and happy!

I agree. :slight_smile:

I mostly these days try to focus on my own practice and education. I read on SC last week about near and far enemies of compassion (if I recall correctly!) It seems so relevant I’ll share even though it borders on offering advice!

The far extreme enemy is cruelty; that is what the opposite is. But the near enemy to compassion is sadness… Don’t burn out, or endulge too much in feeling frustrated or sad, if you want to have endurance as an activist.

Buddha didnt raise any of us to be sexist. :wink: Knowing that feels good.

1 Like

Our own practice and healthy relationships in the entire Buddhist community are interrelated. We don’t just practice alone we rely on each other for support and guidance. If the monastics have healthy and respectful ways of relating to each other all our hearts are gladdened. We know that the Sangha is filled with wonderful people who we love and respect. We know that they care for each other and support each others practice in any way they can. I am not trying to make life difficult for people. I think the situation would improve a great deal for everyone if discrimination against women ended in every shape and form. It may be scary to break away from dysfunctional rules but in the end, Buddhism will gain in relevance and, more people will benefit from its teachings - as we have. At the moment, people have good reason to think twice about Buddhism if it does not respect human rights. Women’s rights are human rights - plain and simple. May all beings be liberated!


The importance of bhikkhuni ordination is something like 0.000000000000000001% compared to the importance of preserving and popularising the true dhamma, the one that is thaught in the suttas.

The true dhamma has pretty much dissappeared ever since monks didn’t need to memorize it anymore. Almost no monk reads suttas in asia and even in the west few do that.

What’s the point of woman ordination or other secondary things when 99.99% buddhist monks in asia are in a way monks of another religion that share some similarieties with buddhism, same as christian monks and nuns ? What’s the point of spending so much effort in this bhikkhuni ordination problem instead of rather investing all that energy into the promotion of the nikayas ?

What’s the point of being outraged about such stuff when here in the west a kindle version of the nikaya that costs nothing to produce and was translated freely by B.Bodhi costs 200$ ? Name me another religion where this has ever happened except scientology. I repeat, name me a single one.

Instead of having people ouraged about that, we have them outraged about other things, forgetting what is by far the most important thing when it comes to buddhism: spreading the dhamma and preserving it, the real one not the fake one.

1 Like

Ah there’s the rub.

At some point, the cognitive dissonance, the pain and cost of maintaining a delusion becomes a benefit. Everything conducive to liberation is a benefit. Because… the investment of people time etc etc etc is optional.

What if ordinary Buddhists just renounced their delusions? Stop trapping themselves or men and boys and the Buddha’s daughters? Stop settling with corruption, and start practicing, only embodying dhamma, every day, just keep working relentlessly on only this?

Problems are opportunities.

But not all opportunities are for everyone. Sometimes, walk out. Sit down and focus. :slight_smile: Work on your opportunities, as if it were a sacred trust that no one else will nurture if you do not…

And “you” is just a mental construct, impermanent. But not something to waste or ignore or to be discounted. lol

1 Like

The dhamma is whatever is conducive to true liberation of the heart. The Buddhist path to liberation depends on the ongoing creation and flourishing of communities of people who can live the Holy Life away from the snares of worldly attachments, and provide a clear example of the kind of liberation that is possible. If some people are denied entry to such communities based on worldly norms of hierarchy, control and subordination, that’s not the dhamma, it is the intrusion of harmful samsaric value systems and patterns of control and exploitation into the holy realm.


Yes, we need to be kind and wise! We need to discern the difference between that which is beneficial in the tradition and that which does not serve a useful purpose. It is important to be careful and keep anything that is useful and beneficial. However, if we find something that is clearly discriminatory and, by implication, unwholesome, of no benefit, then, what should be done about that? Should we delay in changing that situation in the hope that someone else might fix it for us?

All you can do is express your opinion, and offer material support to sanghas that run themselves according to rules you are willing to support.

1 Like

That ("However, if we find something that is clearly discriminatory and, by implication, unwholesome, of no benefit, then, what should be done about that? Should we delay in changing that situation in the hope that someone else might fix it for us? ")
would be negligent, careless of the dhamma and our lives, and of the time of those who come after us…

But. Building from the positive, using positive reinforcement, repetition, compassion, works. So. Practice, individually, collectively.

This moment:

1 Like

That sounds like D. T. Suzuki’s description of Mahayana Buddhism:

If we take it to mean the lifeless preservation of the original, we should say that Mahayanism is not the genuine teaching of the Buddha, and we may add that Mahayanists would be proud of the tact, because being a living religious force it would never condescend to be the corpse of a by-gone faith. The fossils, however faithfully preserved, are nothing but rigid inorganic substances from which life is forever departed.

Mahayanism is far from this; it is an ever-growing faith and ready in all times to cast off its old garments as soon as they are worn out. But its spirit originally inspired by the [the Buddha] is most jealously guarded against pollution and degeneration. Therefore, as far as its spirit is concerned, there is no room left to doubt its genuineness ; and those who desire to have a complete survey of Buddhism cannot ignore the significance of Mahayanism.

It is naught but an idle talk to question the historical value of an organism, which is now full of vitality and active in all its functions, and to treat it like an archeological object, dug out from the depths of the earth, or like a piece of bric-&-brac, discovered in the ruins of an ancient royal palace.

Mahayanism is not an object of historical curiosity. Its vitality and activity concern us in our daily life. It is a great spiritual organism; its moral and religious forces are still exercising an enormous power over millions of souls; and its further development is sure to be a very valuable contribution to the world-progress of the religious consciousness. What does it matter, then, whether or not Mahayanism is the genuine teaching of the Buddha?

1 Like

I am glad you have found your spiritual home in Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana practitioners may draw the longbow when it comes to promoting their traditions. However, the truth is sobering! There is a lot of discrimination against female practitioners - particularly bhikshunis - in some Mahayana schools/traditions. There is no need to convert to the Mahayana ‘faith’ as wonderful as it is, in order to have a progressive outlook and a proactive approach. Let the Mahayana end its own discrimination and then your heart-felt beliefs may gain in ‘moral-force’ (truth-power). Best wishes for your practice. May you realise your highest aspirations. May all beings be liberated!

That’s your story and your sticken to it! All the best with that strategy - its not an either/or situation! It’s actually possible to create an alternative approach through networking with people who wish to create a Buddhism that is not discriminatory - that ‘is’ progressive - that fully embraces human rights. All it would take is for interest to grow and develop - plain and simple. I feel its time for something like this to emerge? Its up to each one of us to decide what we would like to do - or not do - about our shared Buddhist future. There are 10 thousand reasons to procrastinate and 3.76 billion* reasons to move forward for the benefit of humanity - and the Planet - its a no-brainer!

This coursework is available on a a related theme:

*Assuming that girls and women can be used interchangeably then 49.558% of the world population are female. This equates to roughly 3,761,257,679.89 (3.76 billion). - Ronnie Grondin

For me this article addresses a lot of the concerns re Bhikkhunis.


Such forms of Buddhism already exist. People who want to practice those forms of Buddhism can join the communities that follow those practices. Or they can create entirely new communities and set up entirely new systems of practice.

People who prefer more traditional forms of practice will be compelled to accept the practice norms of communities that already exist, and that are often affiliated with very large and powerful religious institutions. As part of such an institution, one’s ability to change the practice norms of one’s practice community will be, if not entirely non-existent, at least severely limited.


Yes there are Buddhist groups - and Dhamma circles - that are not affiliated with mainstream Buddhism. I have practiced in some of these groups. There are also many Mahayana Buddhist groups who have embraced progressive views. They are not sexist i.e. they do not have rules that discriminate against women and, they often have strong environmental ethics and social programs etc. This is not what I have in mind!

I have already outlined what my interests are in considerable detail and you still don’t seem to understand what it is I am trying to say. Never mind, you don’t seem to be all that interested anyway judging from what you have had to say about my reflections on this site so there isn’t much of a point explaining it in detail.

I am talking about a four-fold assembly that has an interest in the early strata of the teachings that does not ignore, overlook, rationalise, excuse, explain away, or refuse to address discrimination head-on. A form of Buddhism that embraces human rights unconditionally and, does what it can to address social and environmental issues beyond their fence-line. A genuinely progressive alternative to old-school Buddhism. A Buddhism that has its house in order, that looks nice from the outside but is also user-friendly when you enter the premises. Its surprising it hasn’t already happened. Why anyone would not wish to see this happen is mysterious. It could be mass hypnosis?

You lost me when you said your goal was to end discriminatory practices in Buddhism “quickly and decisively.” To me that suggests a degree of magical thinking or megalomania with which it is difficult to engage constructively. One can certainly imagine creating new breakaway forms of reformed Buddhism that come nearer to western progressive modernist ideals. But that will not make all of the more traditional and conservative forms of Buddhism go away, along with their discriminatory practices.


I understand that there is no magic cure to end discrimination particularly in a Sangha that is committed to keeping discriminatory rules. I am just a Buddhist who would like to see positive change and would be happy to network with others to create an alternative - not try to fix something that appears to be unfixable. By creating an alternative it means that people can choose to participate in a discriminatory form of practice or adopt a form of practice that respects and honours their human rights - and the rights of others. If these kinds of values and aspirations are signs of megalomania then lock me up and throw away the key!