The inference is that men have much to learn from women about life and nature and our own purpose in the scheme of things. When we devalue or reject their intuitive knowledge, or ignore their intellectual capabilities, which are considerable, we do so at our own peril, and at the peril of the world we live in.
Ayya Vimala, I agree with your idea here. A coed community of monastics would have many positives, including helping the cultivation of one’s own development; a true community of kalyana mitta. I can see that the lay community would enjoy and benefit from this diversity as well.
I’ve always had female friends as friends. I think many men can identify with the idea that women and men can be great friends, without the relationship becoming romantic or sexual. I recall a talk from a former monk at Suan Mokkh who valued his connections with the female monastics and lay supporters; they who he felt had far more emotional intelligence and capacity for deeper discussion. Some of the male monks could be kind of isolated or even difficult to be around, and I can empathize with this feeling having lived in a wat for some time. I believe he stayed in robes as long as he did as he had these female friends to share ideas with and to support each other’s practice.
There’d just be a more dynamic energy in a coed environment, and more opportunities for collegiality and growth in the Dhamma. If any worried about possible dalliances, at the end of the day, as monastics there is this fundamental rejection of these base sensual impulses as part of the ordination and practice…it seems to me that a suggestion that mature men and women in practice is a risk is demeaning and a pejorative with respect to the strength and fidelity to the Path that one brings to ordained life. In other words, if monks and nuns are prone to fool around, they were likely not to be in robes long in any case.
A well managed coed Wat in the west would be a great experiment, and ultimately a great success. I’d like to see, as part of the growth of Theravada in the west an inclination toward monastic practice centers that are coed, an environment sure to bring strength and support. This might be just one more way that monastic life flourishes in the west.