Can an Arahant be against bhikkhuni ordination?

I absolutely agree with you. I don’t think an arahant would hold gender identity. But this revelation is very different to how the bhikkhuni situation has been recorded, and is progressing today.

The Buddha himself says gender is no obstacle to spiritual achievement, acknowledging that women who went forth would be able to attain the highest goal. Yet he still (according to legend) initially refused the request.

The problem is not value-based (value of woman vs. man) it’s ‘practical’.

Right now we have rules about how ordination must occur, which create barriers for men and women to recognize the legitimacy of bhikkhuni ordination.

Then we have the vinaya that bhikkhuni must follow. This set of rules is in itself patriarchal and at times sexist, and proves a stumbling block once again for both men, women and female aspirants to reach the freedom of spiritual livelihood. The very fact that vinaya is split along gender lines ‘contradicts’ the fact that the arahant is beyond gender identity (and no, the genderised vinaya is not merely ‘practical’ ie. menstruation hygiene. there are rules in there that are expressly designed to subordinate women).

With these structures built into the texts and core values of what it is to be a bhikkhuni, how can there be genderless-ness or gender equity?


You make an excellent point! Well said!


Yes! And this separate and unequal distinction of Vinaya rules makes no sense especially at the anagami and Arahant levels, where lust and sexual identity is supposed to be extinguished. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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Well I agree, but even at a lower level too. Of course the Vinaya needs to be kept because there are those in the Sangha who aren’t at that level and need to be protected. I think the Bhikkhu vinaya, which is tried and tested for thousands of year is a good benchmark.

But what justification is there for a differentiating Vinaya based on gender when by different I mean usually stricter, more difficult and more obstructive? The only reasons I see as a common thread are that women are weaker, inferior, more cunning, subversive and immature.

But anyway, excuse me, I am sidetracking the topic :speak_no_evil: my bad!! If we continue to talk on this topic we should start a new thread :blush:

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Please let me disagree. This is not why Buddha himself was opposing it. He was opposing it because it would shorthen the lifespan of clear Dhamma in this word, and further explained that stricter rules were necessary to keep it longer than it would be otherwise.

There lies the difference, however. While in other teachings women often are inferior on the spiritual level, in Buddhism, this equality has always been there. For human beings, ability to awaken depends only on their actions.
And, frankly, I have very serious doubts in the power or “our [current] wisdom”. The fact that today Vinaya rules are broken constantly by everyone (and it is not my own statement) means one of three things: 1) the conditions of the world today are less favourable for Buddhist monasticism; 2) the quality of humans actually declined; 3) both 1 and 2 to some extent. Each of these things does not speak favourably of the contemporary wisdom.

Ordination is not a prerequisite and not a guarantee to following the Path correctly. Spiritual achievements and color of the robe are not too tightly connected.

From our moden western point of view yes. But this is relative and changes across time and cultures.

Vinaya was not spoken for the Arahants. If someone achieves arahantship, he/she already has the perfect virtue. Vinaya is for the beginners, still drowning in defilements.
And today beginners for some reason decided that they know better.

Because it was spoken this way by the founder of the Teaching. We do not have any right to decide which of these are right and wrong. If someone goes forth, like, really goes forth, this should not be an issue. All the pride and other mental formations are conditioned. These are to go away eventually. For you see, the issue is pretty much centered on the fact that the gender differentiation of the Vinaya rules does not conform to the contemporary gender equality ideas. But gender equality ideas are a product of mundane society for mundane purposes, this is Samsara, its phenomenon. It should be left in samsaric society where it belongs. Speaking of relativity, at the time of Buddha this allowance to go forth for women was kind of revolutionary. This is to stress the relativity of our perception of things.

Yes but why would it shorten lifespan of Dhamma in this world?
I can’t believe that is true anyway, because we still have true dhamma and true teachings of the Buddha, so the prediction is wrong. OR will you argue the Dhamma we have is not true and in that case it should be disregarded anyway.

There is no such thing as ‘comteporary’ and ‘past’ wisdom. Wisdom is wisdom. The Buddha and arahants of the past were humans just like us. They inspected, evaluated and knew this world and it’s problems for themselves, and won their liberation for themselves, just as we can.

I disagree, at least regarding the patriarchal assessment. That can be ascertained objectively, that society followed a patriarchal pattern.

So you are saying that beginners should operate according to gender identity, even though it is ultimately false? That unenlightened women need to be held to a stricter and more punitive standard than unenlightened men?

Who might not have been aware how things changed for women of the future.

So in this case, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering’ — then you should abandon them.

Yes but why should this be the case? If we cannot find a good reason that supports skillfulness, then why? ‘Just cause’ is not a good answer.

Not true, there were other female ascetics and nun orders.


This is what Bhante Sujato has to say on the matter:


The answer to why is written in the sutta and parallels.

Yes, that is true. Perhaps, my statement was too vague. I meant that I doubt this (previously described) is wisdom at all.

Yes, but this has nothing to do with the path to enlightenment.

I am saying the should follow Vinaya, and should not modify it according to their ideas, which are samsaric defilements anyway.[quote=“Cara, post:16, topic:6699”]
Not true, there were other female ascetics and nun orders.

This talks about personal qualities, as you can see, not about Vinaya. Besides, what is often missed out is that kalamas were laypeople and not Buddha’s followers. From what I see from the dhammic point of view, all the social justice movements are unskillful, they certainly do not decrease the strife, anger, hatred and delusions.

Vinaya rules even in their current “sexist” version do not prevent and do not make it harder for women to cultivate good qualities, abandon bad qualities, gain correct views and abandon incorrect views.

This is actually a whole new topic. I am not sure how to create a new one from here, linking them together, so if any of the moderators were to help me, I would be grateful.

We still have true dhamma which is mixed with untrue dhamma. This whole topic arose from the fact that maybe Pali texts are wrong and edited. So how is this pure dhamma? And I am not even talking about ideas of other schools that sometimes are the opposite of the Pali texts. So no, we do not have pure dhamma anymore. Every edit to a sutta is a stain on the dhamma. And you know there are edits.
The best we can do is: analyze, try to grasp the core ideas and practice as best as we can without trying to make it even worse by editing further.
So I do not see any proofs that the prediction is wrong, quite the opposite.
Have a look at SN20.7.
So what I am saying is: do not attempt to edit the texts anymore because you personally don’t like something in them. It is no better than those making those previous edits. It will just add more noise to the signal.

Ok I am a mod but I can’t make this a new topic for you it seems. What you need to do is copy the entire contents of this post, or go back to the main page and select create new topic. Then choose your category and put your new post into the topic. Once you’ve done that it would be a good idea to come back here and delete this post. Otherwise I can do that for you .

That’s extremely vague. Perhaps you could give a clearer answer with greater basis.

Yes, it does. Patriarchial society subordinates and tramples women -> less women joining the order -> less opportunities for women to practice -> less women have the potential to pursue renunciation as a path.

I wouldn’t be the best person to answer this, but I think the Jains had a female order? Some bhikkhunis were ascetics and renunciants of other sects and crossed over to Buddhism when they heard the Dhamma, i.e. Bhadda Kundalakesa.

Yes. They do. They make it harder for women to become nuns. People constantly criticize nuns’ keeping of vinaya because it’s so unreasonable most expect no-one will do it (just see higher in this thread!)

If women cannot access opportunities of renunciation, they cannot develop as fully spiritually. For example, because of the difficulty of keeping Bhikkhuni vinaya, I fear ordaining. Therefore I have to work to support myself. Therefore I have less time to practice. Having to work means I can’t be secluded, which is also an important support to practice. So yes, this does have real impacts on real people. Of course it’s difficult to see them when they don’t affect you personally, believe me, I do get that.


I speculate that to those who came up with it, having women able to ordain could contribute to making harder for Buddhist families to be formed.

When we look at the mythos around stream entry present in EBTs and the idea of kolaṅkola sotāpanna, it is possible that guaranteeing the continuity of Buddhist clans into the future would have been a way to guaranteeing the gradual awakening would reach its conclusion within the span of Buddha Gotama’s dispensation.

Now, let me make clear I don’t subscribe to this view and am here only trying to make sense of the hypothesis. :sweat_smile:

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You could also speculate that the push for bhikkhuni ordination today will shorten the lifespan of Dhamma because of the strife in the sangha it has/will cause(d).

Playing devil’s advocate there FYI.


To get back on topic :stuck_out_tongue:, it seems to me that an Arahant would, out of pure loving-kindness and compassion, dust off any negative cultural views regarding women, and ordain any woman willing and worthy of becoming a bhikkhuni. The Buddha set the example, and I don’t see why others should go against it.


Haha, sure! No sweat :wink: But I disagree. Women could still have families before they ordained.

Bhante addressed this in White Bones… as well. True, bringing women into an order of men creates certain issues that need to be addressed, as he says namely sex and power. And these are with certain rules in the Vinaya. So here I also disagree.

Anyway, a reason for this assessment is in fact given in the sutta, that allowing women into the Sangha would weaken it, like a house with many women and few men can’t stand up to robbers. Or a stream with no dam will overflow destroy a village. As Bhante points out in White Bones… These are irrational fears pushed by deep unconscious associations. My question is rhetorical. The answer is, it wouldn’t.


Ānanda, if women did not obtain the going forth from the household as homeless, in the dispensation of the Thus Gone One, the dispensation would have lasted longer a thousand years Ānanda, as women have obtined the going forth from the household to become homeless, it will not last long, the good Teaching will last only five hundred years.
Ānanda, just as families which have more women and few men are attacked by robbers and cheaters in the same manner in a dispensation in which there is the going forth for women, the holy life does not last long.
Ānanda, just as in an accomplished rice field, there falls an illness named white seeds and it does not last long. In the same manner in a dispensation in which there is the going forth for women, the holy life does not last long.
Ānanda, just as in an accomplished cane field, there comes an illness named turning red and it does not last long. In the same manner in a dispensation in which there is the going forth for women, the holy life does not last long.
Ānanda, just as a man was to build an embankment as a future protection for a huge reservoir, so that water would not reach over the boundary these eight strong rules are declared to the bhikkhunis not to be thrown out until life lasts, as future protection.

Not that I liked this too, but this is how it’s stated.

Will it be harder than in the times of the Buddha? Why was it possible for women to reap the fruits of the Dhamma and follow Vinaya back then but is not nowadays? I would even dare to voice an opinion that the reason behind perceiving the nuns’ Vinaya to be “impossible” comes from the the mundane equality ideas where a woman bowing before the man is retarded and unthinkable.
I know of successful Maechi communities in Thailand and Myanmar.

I don’t think it’s completely true.
AN7.50: Laywoman Uttara Nandamata is a non-returner
AN5.176: Buddha tells laypeople to practice reclusion
Most importantly, MN73 states that many laypeople will achieve non-returner fruit.

Buddha had irrational fears and was commanded by deep unconscious associations?.. o_O

That is stating the sutta not answering why these assertions are stated.

You yourself said times are different now, some ways it is harder, some easier.

The vinaya is certainly an early text, yet we find other early texts describing bhikkhunis doing things that break the bhikkhuni vinaya, such as wandering alone/abiding alone. So even then, the theris were not keeping these absurd rules!

Yes but what about arahantship? What about the highest spiritual goal? Mate I’ve seen suffering as a woman, I’m not here to muck around :wink:


This is just a question , not opinion .
Would you think being a female is a kind of kamma (negatively) by birth ? Not being inferior but disadvantages . Just like being born intelligent versus low IQ .

In my humble opinion, the fact that many bhukunis became arahants in the Buddha’s time and afterwards suggests to me that ordination for them is the right thing to do.
As for the extra vinaya rules that reflexts the patriarchal society of ancient India, for the protection of the Bhikunis themselves. Obviously some Vinaya rules no longer apply or are transformed for modern living, eg., not driving a cart (maybe having to whip a horse or bullock)= not driving a car.
The 8 garudammas could be a later addition to the texts as there are inconsistencies in its application, ie., it was mandatory for Mahapatti, his aunt and the 500 ladies of her court but there is no mention of them with some other female ordinations such as Baddha.


The above translated tales make it clear that in the Buddhist traditions
responsible for the arising and transmission of these stories, female birth
was not seen as something negative.

Karma and Female Birth by Analayo.