A Trojan horse: thanissaro bhikkhus response to Analayo


And with that basis, the urgency of speaking publicly about this now would be debatable. Therefore, Ven. Ṭhānissaro, knowing this, is speaking about a perceived current danger. I would note, that in cases of urgent danger, I myself would choose to use fewer words understood by all. For example. “Fire!”


I share your general sentiment.

My personal concern in regards to female ordination has always been of the nature pertaining to where are they ordaining and what are they being taught and these are my primary concerns when it comes to ordination in general.

IE i wish my sister would practice the Dhamma in it’s purety but i don’t want my sister to ordain just for the sake of ordaining nor would i myself ordain anywhere.

Therefore i think it is important to occasionally scrutinize and investigate what is controversial and to use wisdom to refute what can be established as malpractices.


Oh and I would also add that the future dispensation of Maitreyabuddha is totally Mahāyāna Buddhism.

I kid! :astonished: :see_no_evil::hear_no_evil::speak_no_evil:
I kid! It’s all for “teh lulz”.

I must be channeling


Here’s a birthday cake for the trouble :cake:


This is one of those rare instances where the old saw that Theravada monks are obsessed with picayune rules and the legal minutia of their implementation at the expense of the real core values of the Dhamma is on full display


Your approach is very earnest. So let me offer my contrary and much more more cynical view. This is mainly a debate about money, authority and power, not worries that Bhikkunis will be led astray and corrupted by inadequate teaching.


It hasn’t been brought up because almost no one in this thread has even read the article. It must be easier to cling to self-righteous views about what they think compassion means than to actually engage with a legal matter in an institution that they claim to follow.

Anyone dismissing it as clear misogyny and proof of Thanissaro’s sexism clearly lack any understanding of how Buddhism has survived up until now as an institution, and they obviously have never met Thanissaro.

I’ve always been of the opinion that if the rules are this ambiguous, there should be ways to ordain nuns, and that it would be the right thing to do. However, I’ve for the most part stayed out of the debate, as I don’t know nearly enough about the issue and am by no means a scholar.

To see everyone throw around slander without even reading or comment on the article makes worry about the future the Buddha’s teachings.

It’s also discouraging to see @sujato respond in such a sarcastically contemptuous way. Obviously you have your opinion and have investigated this issue more than anyone here, but to respond like your view is clearly so much better that Thanissaro shouldn’t be taken seriously is quite unsightly. Analayo is one of the great scholars we have for early Buddhism today, and he evidently understands the magnitude of the issue and the importance of responding to Thanissaro’s points individually.

I know you’ve spoken about this many times and have done great work in establishing textual evidence for re-creating the nuns order, but to speak so flippantly about another monk (the video link), who is also one of the great scholars of our time and has done much to establish the Thai Forest Tradition in the west, seems…strange to say the least.


I agree. There is a lot of condemnation and little reading.

For what it is worth, I am reading the whole document, but it takes time.

One issue is that there is a disagreement between one camp and the other over whether or not the vinaya itself is “legal” it seems. Or if it is simply a set of absolutely superb (or horrible) ideas that worked at the time, likely work now, but may not.


Ven Ṭhānissaro is another bhikṣu who claims to follow the suttāni in an “earl(y/ier) Buddhism”.

He seems to treat the vinaya as a whole. He is ok with throwing out certain suttāni if they are “clearly” late, but, the vinaya is treated as a whole. Curious, IMO.

I wonder if this reflects a division with regards to the vinaya amongst EBT devotees. Is the vinaya to be taken as a whole, or as a stratified conglomeration of authenticity and innovation?


Hmm. If so then I wonder about the following and how it might affect his argument:

6.3.1If it wishes, after my passing the Saṅgha may abolish the lesser and minor training rules.


This is the healthiest sort of aspirin I’ve ever come across, with no bad side effects. :wink:

The problem in this debate is that it is already going on for quite a while, and I don’t see much hope that there will be a way of understanding the matter to which both sides could agree. I have read most of the documents quoted in the article, but not the article itself—it’s just too much for me right now. I think trying to analyse Ven. Thanissaro’s arguments and to respond to them one by one only will lead to more proliferation of arguments, and not to an agreement. And I’d not like to enter into that.


I did read through the article earlier, albeit quickly, and stated what appeared to me to be the crucial, doubtful assumption.


Humor can lift grief.

Perhaps we should not indulge in assuming we each know what others think or feel, or escalate this with charges of slander.


It is most emphatically the latter. Since the 19th century it has been recognized that the Vinaya is more clearly and deeply stratified in terms of history as compared with the Suttas. The patimokkhas are mostly early, but the Vibhanga material and much else is clearly late.

“Late” of course does not mean wrong, or even inauthentic (in the sense that it can stem from an early tradition even if the formulation is late). But there is a clear historical evolution going on: heck, the Vinaya texts themselves describe the evolution in no uncertain terms.


I must agree with this assessment, unfortunately.

Ajahn Geoff has in many ways been my teacher over the years. Why? I have found him to be wise, methodical, and generous, and has excellent sila. He is furthermore very respectful and considerate, even of those who disagree with him or criticize him.


Thank you for pointing out the elephant in the room. I have much respect for Venerable Sujato’s work on this site, but to read snarky remarks by some frequent posters who do not follow the discussion’s own “rules” for right speech makes me disillusioned about the dearth of respectful, “meaningful”, and “pleasing” discussions.


Quoting from the reading:

He (Venerable Analayo) has refused to acknowledge a crucial difference between our present situation and that of the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha when it was first founded. At that time, the True Dhamma had not yet disappeared. Now it has—as we can see in all the many alternative versions of the Dhamma all around us in the Buddhist world, and that Anālayo exploits in his “historical-critical” writings. This fact, in particular, creates a very detrimental situation for women ordained as bhikkhunīs but living with no trained teacher. It encourages them to cherry-pick the texts from different traditions, choosing whatever makes immediate sense to them, without having to submit to the training from a bhikkhunī who is truly qualified to know what is True Dhamma and what is not. This, too, creates a situation that is compassionate for no one.



I don’t understand that quote. Just because there are many varieties of Buddhist thinking, some of which might be described as “false dhamma”, how does that show that the true dhamma has disappeared? Does Ajahn Thanissaro think he knows what the true dhamma is? If he does, then it hasn’t disappeared. And if he doesn’t, then why is he lecturing others on the true dhamma?


Ven Thanissaro’s understanding of the sutta talking about what is meant by the disappearance of the true dhamma is that the true dhamma disappears with the appearance of counterfeit dhamma alongside it. So it isn’t a total disappearance but a qualified one. You can see this if you go look at his essay again.


So you mean the true dhamma has not really disappeared, but is somewhat occluded, for some people, by the presence of possibly misleading false dhammas? OK, but the point still stands that if Ajahn Thanissaro thinks he knows what the true dhamma is, then surely he can teach it to others - including women. If the vinaya doesn’t allow close intimate proximity with women, then he can instruct and hear reports from designated female preceptors, who can then be responsible for the direct training.

But honestly, I think he is making a mountain out of a molehill here. Because if sincere women want to lead the holy life, they can learn how to do it from some combination of friendly and appropriate instruction from Bhikkhus, and reading from ancient sources. But also by trial and error, since the dhamma is open to investigation by wise people.


Yeah, I don’t agree with his training argument for a couple of reasons but I just wanted to point out that he has a specific understanding of what it means for the sadhamma to disappear.

Also, to preemptively defend myself, I think Bhikkhunis are here to stay. And I’ve donated more money to support bhikkhunis than I have for bhikkhus simply because it seemed like the place where funding was more readily needed. But I do think Ajahn Geoff has some good points in his article (while not agreeing that bhikkhunis do not or should not exist) and was concerned to hear about Ven Anālayo, who I greatly admire, to be throwing so much shade Mahakassapa’s way.

I’ve spent some time at Ajahn Thanissaro’s monastery and have appreciated his help and his goodwill. But he has his own specific understanding of how the dhamma-vinaya is or should play out and he isn’t particularly sentimental. I would encourage people not to take his Vinaya opinions personally.