Autonomy of the Bhikkhūnī Sangha-Aj. Hiriko

Could you find some quotes for these ‘teachings’?

With metta

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I actually started this thread because I wanted to show that the monks are listening. In the same week that this came out we also had this talk from Ajahn Brahmali and there are many other monks contributing in big and small ways to the support and growth of the bhikkhuni sangha and the removal of discriminating practices. So we have bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, lay-men and lay-women all working towards the growth and benefit of the Bhikkuni Sangha.

In only a few years time there will be a wave of Theris (10+ vassa bhikkhunis) in the Western world from the ordinations in Perth and California. California already has several Theris and Mahatheris. To have more Theris and Mahatheris in the world will do amazing things for equality. There will be real depth and real leadership from the female sangha. I find this so exciting. I really feel this is where some big transformations will occur. But we do need to get the nuns there first!

This is not to say that we should do nothing, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Western Theravada and the revived Bhikkhuni Sangha are still just small saplings. They need be nurtured to grow into big healthy trees. Sure we can do a bit of gentle pruning but mostly water, sunshine and nutrients are needed.


That’s a good question Mat, where do these teachings come from? We do need to leave all our concerns behind in order to settle down, relax, deepen in tranquility. In our daily lives there is a time and a place to be working with our duties and, challenges we may face. We may also feel the need to be involved in wider concerns and issues.

I am not taking issue with these teachings but they could be taken the wrong way?

I am ‘questioning’ the received wisdom of the elders - the consensus-view about sexism in the tradition. Nobody seems to be denying that it actually exists? Having a different view on this topic could be seen as the ‘fault-finding mind’ up to its usual antics. It could be perceived as a lack of appreciation for what has been achieved. A lack of gratitude for the good work of so many wonderful and praiseworthy people etc.

This could create a situation where those who ‘beg to differ’ when it comes to issues like this are problematised - viewed with suspicion etc. I certainly don’t intend to ruffle any feathers but there has been a bit of disquiet expressed in this discussion and, in the earlier threads. In fact, right from the outset I was told that it was not a good idea to even think about these matters. I was directed to only reflect on the the things we can celebrate about the progress that has been made and, reflect on the ancient writings of awakened bhikkhunis.

I am happy to celebrate what we have at the moment and what has come down to us from the early Sangha but, I also feel it’s worthwhile to reflect on where we would like to find ourselves - sooner rather than later. With a form of Buddhist practice that we can celebrate unconditionally - without reservations.

I feel the only way we can get there is to end sexual discrimination completely - which means Vinaya reform. Permanently removing discriminatory rules and forms of etiquette from Buddhism within ‘our’ practice community’s ???

I genuinely feel that this would make our tradition truly progressive. An unsurpassed field of merit for the ‘modern’ world that is in desperate need of moral leadership and guidance.

OK, fair enough! How long are you prepared to wait for sexual discrimination to completely end in the Buddhist community you practice in? If it never actually happens is that something you are willing to envisage?

There are systemic checks and balances in the tradition which guide practitioners with regard to what they can think and, not think, when they reflect on the 3-fold training in all its aspects and particulars. It seems like its OK to think about sexism but there is a taboo against dealing with the issue head-on! Everyone is required to just put up with it whether they like it - or not. Many of us can see that these discriminatory practices serve no useful purpose but are troubled by the prospect of living without them - permanently. Nobody seems willing to stick their neck out to far and say enough is enough which demonstrates the power of Buddhist ideology. We might be better off without the ‘Kalama Sutta’ - it does not seem to belong.