SuttaCentral

General Feeling of Discussions on Garudhammas and Bhikkhunī Ordination on SC

Edit: My initial post (this one) about the issue and topic wasn’t adequately expressed. I apologize if there are or have been any misunderstandings about what I have been wanting to convey. For much more accurately expressed posts, please read this and this post.

I’m not for the garudhammas, nor against bhikkhunī ordination (apart from that, I currently don’t have a position/side on the matter). However, the anti-bhikkhunī posts aside—which to this point, you could say is illogical background noise (although surely still damaging to bhukkhunīs)—I’ve found that when these topics are discussed on SuttaCentral, the general feeling or implicit message seems to be along the lines of “bhukkhus are oppressive against bhukkhunīs”, “bhikkhus intentionally control bhukkhunīs”, “bhikkhunīs should break off from bhikkhus to avoid oppression/being controlled”, “male lay practitioners are also against bhikkhunīs”, or variations of these (again, implicitly).

But aren’t these sweeping generalizations—and most importantly for something like discrimination, which is serious? Are all bhikkhus actively oppressive against and want to control bhukkhunīs? Are most genuinely-practicing bhikkhus and lay male practitioners out to oppress and control bhikkhunīs?

When you think about it, is it not that some views and rules were created and established by a handful of wrong-minded bhikkhus (many centuries ago), which were then perpetuated, and which created the result that we see today? Still, even though I am sure there are many oppressive lay and monastic people, is there not a majority of (practicing) Buddhists/bhikkhus who see clearly and don’t discriminate against bhikkhunīs?

Personally, I’ve read a large portion of the bhikkhunī ordination and garudhamma discussions on SuttaCentral (at least the main ones, and many off-topic ones). I understand this is a sensitive topic, in part due to the backlash and politics that was and is still associated with this. However, the generalizations and the very present “men are the cause of the issue” and “men vs. women” overtones of the debate have left me negatively in awe every time I read such a discussion.

Personally, I’m for equality and positive changes, but when opinions and positions are generalized, for serious things such as the blaming of discrimination and oppression, when I (or other practicing Buddhists) have no participation or belief in such opinions… I don’t want any part of it anymore. Why should someone, who is opposed to oppressive behaviour, speak out against oppressive behaviour, when being blamed for the oppression itself?

Note: This will possibly be my last post about the garudhammas/bhikkhunī ordination. I mostly wanted to get this out there, since these seem to be recurring themes on SC. I probably won’t reply/participate in the topic, but please feel free to reply. I hope the thread doesn’t get locked (please remain respectful and thoughtful). Also, please note that this topic is not about bhikkhunī ordination or the garudhammas, but the general overtones of how they are discussed (here on SC).

With mettā.

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It’s interesting how perceptions differ isn’t it? I guess that’s because of conditionality. How interesting that you took such discussions as an attack on the male Sangha or on males in general…or even as some kind of personal attack.

To me, with whatever has conditoned me (and perhaps not being a bloke - gender really does come into it doesn’t it?) the primary negative perceptions are the

which are, as you’ve said, the

For me these have been the ones that I have found the most discriminatory, strange and harmful and productive of a bunch of different combinations of hindrances in my own mind!

I would be intrigued to review some actual examples of the following:

Because without them, I’m just going to have to, sorry, think that these are personal, though gendered, insecurities which you are projecting on to others; an overlay of your own perceptions, rather than another’s intentions. I’m not saying your feelings aren’t valid for you; but I can’t help wondering if your central argument is. If you could post some actual examples, I might be able to assess them better. Personally, I can’t think of one single phrase or sentence that ever gave me the impression that anyone was blaming monks or men in the context of Bhikkhunis or their rules. Because it was never about men or monks - it was about women or nuns.

Interestingly, I always felt that the bulk of the “noise” was overwhelmingly supportive of nuns - regardless of whether they kept all their rules or not. Indeed, I often felt heartened by, what seemed to me, the many male voices - some of which were quietly expressed in “likes”. So I must confess I am surprised.

And, as this thread is about saying how you feel and sharing your feelings, I would like to share mine - which are disappointment. How often, in history, does a woman - or a collective of women - try to talk about her troubles, and how her gender might have something to do with it; and a man/men comes along and makes it about him? It’ll be a long list. And there it is Samseva, it is gendered. It is about men vs women. But to me, nobody wanted to say it…everyone that talks about such things here knows good men, supportive men - so not once did they actually say it. It’s not the “tone” of the discussion that is men vs women Samseva. It is at the heart of the very discussion itself. But if you are taking it personally, you’re never going detach your sense of self from the issue and see the bigger picture - that it’s a collective human problem. Because, as anyone that works for NGOs and charities in poverty stricken parts of our planet will tell you, there is a correlation between the well being of a woman, and the well being of her family/community. When the nuns are attracting more nuns, when they’re feeling respected and supported and feel their rules are supportive - imagine the flow on effect on all humans.

Having said this, Samseva, I want to reitierate my sense of respect for much of what you have posted and continue to respect the fact that you’re allowed to say how you feel. But forgive me, it is not men or monks that are struggling to find opportunites to ordain, it is women. I would like to hear how more women/nuns feel too, so far, not one of them that I can think of has ever blamed their feelings on men; rather they have talked about the rules they have inherited. I can only imagine how these nuns and any female aspirants must be feeling after reading this thread… I wonder if any of them will ever feel safe to say what they do feel about any of these things now…imagine…they might hurt some bloke’s feelings…

I want to tell you that sometimes, it actually is

and sadly, I know examples of this. But, these aren’t my stories to tell. I know of one nuns experience in Thailand, but she is so humble and gentle; she’s asked that her particular story not be told.

But look, you can just look at some of the stuff that goes on in Burma. I’m sure there’s enough stuff online and you could find heaps of examples. Oh…I’m just remembering that poor Nepalese nun a few years back who was raped on a bus…

But despite these actual examples, not one single woman or nun has, to my mind, on this forum, ever made the debate about

But Samseva, with respect to you personally and indeed with metta towards you, I have to point out, that you have done more to make it about

by choosing to make your feelings on this topic public. I would, somewhat sadly, ask you to remember that the Buddha asked us not to buy into our thoughts/emotions too much - I believe this is directly linked in with that element of Right Speech which called us to reflect upon whether our speech was beneficial or not. Some things should just be dealt with in the privacy of our own Practice or with one-on-one or face-to-face conversations.


I am an unashamed fan of “positive discrimination”. Thus if a particular group has historically been conditoned for 1000s of years by unfair discrimination, we should do all we can to help them overcome the emotional and financial and social hurdles they have faced for generations. Sometimes that means doing extra things to be supportive of them…this means those who didn’t face this particular conditioning might be left out at times. It is rare for a nun to exist - let alone have access to any kind of public forum where she can say how she feels about anything that may be causing her pain. I’m always going to support her right to express herself publicly over a bloke’s - especially when it comes to issues that relate directly to her!! There is a context to be considered when you choose to air your feelings on such matters. And it matters a great deal that you consider it.


I have said elsewhere, I don’t care too much what minor rules etc. are flexibily followed (or not), as long as it is a kind and peaceful community devoted to the Dhamma and its Practice. Basically I’ll support any monastic community if they’re genuine renunciants devoted to the ultimate goal and the process of getting there.

But…

I do have my opinions and I think I would like to share a couple of them:

  1. There are actual rules (not actual men or monks) but rules…that are worded in such a way that nuns are dependent on monks.

Happily, all the monks’ communities I know of would never use this to take advantage of nuns and would only use this to try and help and support them; which is what I see happening in our local Sanghas.

But…imagine the Bhikkhuni Sangha spreads widely… It is existing in both SL and Thailand. And you must know what many, many of the monks in SL and Thailand are like…? Corrupt. Imagine such monks being the ones interacting with the nuns.

  1. The power of symbolism is profound. I know for a fact that the Bhikkhuni Sangha will not grow as it could, because this inherent dependence - this potential for exploitation as well as the symbolic teaching it gives about a woman being less than fully human (which is of course not the truth - but symbolism is a powerhouse conditioning/teaching tool) - puts some aspirants off. There is a very real loss of faith - faith in ourselves as humans capable of the highest, faith in the Triple Gem - this weakens the Sasana.

With support for your private feelings, with apologies for any bluntness that caused offence, with metta and respect towards you and with some sadness and disappointment too.

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I would like to suggest that the reason you feel so personally attacked is because these rules make you feel that way too…

I suggest it’s not the tone of the debate/conversation…

It’s not the people doing the sharing…

It’s the knowledge of what some of the actual rules are.

But imagine how they make the nuns who keep them feel? Especially, when she’s already given so much up, out of faith and love for the Triple Gem. Imagine what it must be like for her to walk around with the sorts of feelings you have shared - but still to take up the burden of these rules, still to live with them. She’s my hero…whoever she is.

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You know, I think I’m going to be taking my own advice.

I think Bhante Sujato (a man and a monk!) was right, it’s time to stop all this focus on negativity whenever nuns are mentioned. So, while I may respond to tags/quotes - I may well not bother. But that’s just me - I think I’m getting to a certain point in my own journey - and I feel less and less inclined to engage in such things. To me it feels as if you talk to a bunch of people about stuff and then everyone moves on and then suddenly a new bunch of people are talking about the same old stuff… It’s endless and I’m tired. I’m bowing out…but I’m sure there are others who are still feeling energised. :slight_smile:

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Wow, my post was really misinterpreted.

3 important points:

  • I am not pointing fingers at nuns, but rather the general discussions on the forum, and all the participants, being either a man, woman, monastic or lay person.

  • I agree that the bhukkhunīs have experienced horrendous things, and continue to do so, and I am probably only knowledgeable of a tiny portion of that—I am not discrediting this.

  • What I am saying is that—and my previous point, as well as yours, which is all the reason more because of it—is as a man and practicing Buddhist who is against such horrendous and unjust discrimination, I do not want to categorically be associated with these—that is the single and only point I have made.

To answer your question, as to where such posts have been made, simply look back to a post from 7 hours ago (which has since been edited 5 times—the original can be seen by pressing the crayon button and rewinding to the first version). Feel free to read the rest of the discussion.

Hi Samseva

Thank you for that example.

A couple of things:

  1. I can now understand what you are referring to when you talk about the “tone”. Thanks again for the example.

You see, you talked about all the discussions on SC/D&D. So I remembered most of them. And you left out the anti-bhikkhuni lot. And you said it was a tone that seemed to be attacking men and monks…or words to that effect!

So what was I supposed to think…

EDIT: I want to add that it is very difficult to work out what people’s intentions are. And tone, especially on online discussions, is never going to be the best marker because our own conditoned perceptions are going to distort them. It’s best to try (I know it’s tricky at times!!) and stick to responding to content.

  1. I have looked at the original and the final copy of the example you have given and I cannot see that this has anything to do with attacking men or monks or making it men vs women… I really can’t. But I’m open to further explanation of this from your side.

With thanks for your response. :slight_smile:

Me too.
:grin:

…and with apologies again for any offense caused and for any misunderstanding. :anjal: :heartpulse:

I 100% believe you. I am absolutely certain you wish the nuns well. :slight_smile: This is why I was so saddened and disappointed by the wording in your OP. Perceptions really are unreliable!! Especially in online discussions. :slight_smile:

Okay…well I think I can make a contribution - finally - to the intention behind your OP.

I think it’s too complicated, too tricky to expect that everyone’s going to say everything the way we want them to. I’ve noticed that among the pro-bhikkhuni crowd, (which now I realise is what you meant, when you wanted to leave the anti-bhikkhuni lot out of it) there are a variety of different opinions and approaches and personalities. One person’s pleasant tone is another’s unpleasant one! Some times it’s clear that Wrong Speech has been used. But at other times, it’s just personality or passion.

Yes, I think we might be on the same page with this one. But others are on different pages and sometimes they’re going to argue or share differently. You just have to pick your battles.

I’m glad I picked this one though :slight_smile: If I hadn’t, I would’ve walked away being very saddened and disappointed :slight_smile: But now you’ve set me straight, I feel better. Though I’m over being on a soap box on this one…I’ll find other ways of supporting the nuns. Which is not to say that it’s wrong for someone else to be on a soap box - it’s the wrong thing for me in my life right now but perhaps it’s just the right thing for others.

EDIT:
So perhaps it does still come back to letting go of how we feel about these entanglements in the privacy of our own Practice? I’ve tried so hard in my life to control all my interactions so they’re safe and pleasant - especially when I was younger. But it’s not always going to work. And it hasn’t. It’s only when I can be at peace with these messy interactions that I know I’ve learned something.

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I don’t want to debate with anyone, nor do I expect administrative changes. The only thing I wanted to do was to point out how, when all the problems and oppression against bhukkhunīs are being attributed (subtely or not;explicitely or implicitely;intentionally or not) to bhikkhus, or the bhikkhu sangha, or to patriarchy, or to any variation of which the common thread is men, whether or not this is valid to you or others, many men—who are wholeheartedly for the bhukkhinī sangha—are being inadvertenly grouped/associated to these horrendous and oppressive acts.

That’s all.

It may not sound logical, and I can easily brush off a false comment or generalization, but like you said, when the same discussions and negative remarks are constantly being repeated—although, I am sure bhukkhunīs have it a thousand times worse—it still eventually gets to you.

No worries. :slight_smile:

Sure, I can appreciate you feel that way.

If I may…you know “patriarchy” doesn’t equate to every individual man and it’s a system that is often perpetuated by women too.

Here’s what you get if you google, “define patriarchy”:

patriarchy
ˈpeɪtrɪɑːki/Submit
noun
noun: patriarchy
a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line.
"the thematic relationships of the ballad are worked out according to the conventional archetypes of the patriarchy"
a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
“the dominant ideology of patriarchy"
a society or community organized on patriarchal lines.
plural noun: patriarchies
"we live in a patriarchy”

and here’s a link to the graph at the bottom of the definition:

https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwjD68WF7s_YAhVBtZQKHXHCC3kQhCwINDAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbooks.google.com%2Fngrams%2Fgraph%3Fyear_start%3D1800%26year_end%3D2008%26corpus%3D15%26smoothing%3D7%26case_insensitive%3Don%26content%3Dpatriarchy&usg=AOvVaw08vaqVXDuJvnDOdvFYQ_y7

This graph shows usage over time. It’s interesting that the word is used more nowadays. I think it’s because people are beginning to be more aware of it and its impact.

:bouquet: :heartpulse: :bouquet: :heartpulse: :bouquet:

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Yes, and I don’t deny that it exists, nor do I think someone who uses this term intends to include all men—although, it does depend on the context and how the word is used.

Still, take any word—even an inoffensive one—and repeat it numerous times, and it will eventually affect the person. I’m not complaining that it’s affecting me, I’m saying that repeatedly attributing problems affecting the bhukhhunīs (whether male, female, monastic or not) to bhikkhus, patriarchy, and so on (where the common thread is men), repeatedly, for one, doesn’t do much to fix things, and for two, it to a certain degree alienates men who are for the bhukkhunīs. Again, bhukkhunīs without a doubt have had it a thousand times worse, but still.

I guess its up to you to feel awe or, whatever you like - for whatever reason you choose. I don’t see patriarchy as a men vs. women issue - nothing of the sort. Patriarchy is a system that oppresses men and women in many ways - directly and indirectly. Even oppressors are oppressed by their own ignorance. Matriarchy is also problematic - any kind of gender-based discrimination is problematic - period. If you are mystified by these ideas I will be happy to clarify them for you. If you cannot see how chauvinism and the oppression of females is problematic for males then let me know? I don’t know why you would turn discussions of this nature into a battle of the sexes scenario - if you feel you must then go for it!

Have you even read the definition of the word ‘patriarchy’ (it’s two posts above this one, if you’ve missed it)?

Yes, they are, but chauvinism isn’t what is being discussed at all. Why do you keep bringing up negative social constructs I haven’t talked about and attributing them to me?

Laurence, Samseva, you’re both “the good guys” here… You’re both on the same team.

Laurence, is there another way of phrasing this:

Perhaps without the “If you cannot see how…” It’s not a personal battle, yeah?

I apologise if I misunderstand what you are saying - or wanting to say. I am simply reading what you have said and somehow I seem to be misunderstanding your intended meaning. Take the quote from you above, when you say you perceive ‘overtones’ of a man versus woman debate, this mystifies me. I don’t perceive any overtones of a man versus woman debate, instead, I perceive a patriarchy versus non-patriarchal discussion about women’s rights and mens rights - (human rights) for short. A right to not be oppressed by patriarchal power - period!

I would have to construe this discussion - turn it into a ‘man versus woman’ exercise to perceive it the way you are characterising it. You seem to deliberately want to change the discussion into a man versus woman debate for reasons unknown.

I’m not trying to turn this into a men versus women debate—the opposite, actually—nor am I trying to turn this into a debate at all.

OK, thats wonderful, but you are insinuating that others characterise it as a man versus woman debate. Hence, your comment cited above (and below):

The strange thing is your perception that someone/anyone is ‘generalising’ in this way is something you seem to perceive and, I do not perceive - at all. You seem to want to insist that others are engaging in these generalisations but nobody seems to be ‘putting their hand up’ and conceding that that is what they have actually done. You would have to cite specific examples of this man versus woman phenomena to substantiate your claim that generalisations of this nature have taken place. If you cannot provide any concrete examples of what it is you claim has taken place - then what am I to conclude? You may be perceiving generalisations that simply do not exist anywhere beyond your own mind?

Those are indeed sweeping generalizations, but I don’t share your impression that these generalizations reflect the general feeling or implicit message of the posts here.

Also, it is important to recognize that institutional practices can be very oppressive or discriminatory, even if it is not the personal intent of the people functioning within, and adhering to the rules of, those institutions to be oppressive and discriminatory.

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I am relieved to hear that sweeping generalisations have taken place - that they were not merely imagined. If this has happened that is unfortunate! Perhaps, there are those who see this as a men versus women issue - but the fact remains that it isn’t. It has nothing to do with a battle of the sexes. It has to do with an oppressive ideology and practice that serves no useful purpose and needs to be challenged an overcome if we are going to respect and promote human rights - as detailed in the millennial goals of the United Nations.