Sorry, but I’m not interested in saying more than I already have. I don’t think I’ll be baited into further discussion, especially when it seems you are doing a pretty good job of proving my point. With Metta.
best wishes with your practice
With all this negativity, I thought it important to quote two posts on this discussion.
Thank you Anāgārikā Sabbamitta and Bhante for your thoughtful posts on the issue. They are very much encouraging and heartening (although, if you would rather not have them quoted, just send me a message and I will edit my post; kind regards).
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein
All Buddhists in the four-fold assembly are my spiritual family. In many ways our spiritual family is the most important family we will ever have. If, we saw the female members of our immediate family being treated unjustly, being discriminated against, being treated as second-class citizens, we would be ‘instantly’ moved to right-the -wrong. We would do everything we could without delay to act out of love and a sense of responsibility. I would anyway - what others choose to do or, not do, is something that they will have to live with.
My motivation here - on this site - has been to cut-through the 10,000 reasons for procrastination, indifference, complacency, and worst of all - pragmatism. I am happy to be pragmatic about things of little consequence. The rights - human rights - of females in the four-fold assembly (as in my family) is not something I wish to be ‘pragmatic’ about. I will negotiate many differences - and celebrate many - but not when it comes to patriarchy, the oppression of minorities, environmental vandalism and, the rights of those who have nothing, to have the basic requisites - and more. You can all make up your own minds and I hope you come up with the right decisions for your practice and, for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The thing is that there are in fact very few, very very few, if any, venues and forums where people, particularly women lay and monastic practitioners, have the opportunity to openly and freely discuss such concerns without exposing themselves to abuse as a result. D&D is one such rare forum. For this reason we are much more inclined to celebrate and support such venue rather than find faults in it and complain about its imperfections. And in truth, a certain measure of hostility against the very idea of discussing these concerns appears here still despite of all the efforts done to keep the forum safe and immune. And it speaks so much in favour of this forum and its moderators that when this does happen, it is then handled with much patience and restraint rather than with passionate reactionariness.
Also, oftentimes such gender over-generalisations are not meant to be taken literally, as in “literally all men/women are bad/responsible”, but non of this means that your observations are without foundation, and I congratulate you for openly expressing them here. Of course once you open a safe and free environment such as this we have here, views of the “other extreme” will appear too (such as when someone argues that the origin of gender prejudice and bias is “manhood” itself, and that men have no options other than to be bad! Etc.). I think these views are unavoidable too; but it would constitute a problem for us here only if it happens all the time or a lot, and I really don’t think this is the case, as far as I was able to observe. Further, I trust that most participants here would also withdraw from such kind of statements rather than support them. Therefore we better be able to keep with the real issue at hand: though you and I, and so many other men, could be utterly decent, this does not mean that the phenomenon of gender prejudice, and brute violence and abuse as well, are not substantial, extensive, and far reaching in their impact, even on institutional levels.
How to engage with this without getting caught in an awkward position is not always easy, and I myself have learnt that there is nothing I can do that will please everybody: even the silence and absence of men has been equated with complacency and blessing of the subjugation of women, and anything you advocate by way of women empowerment can always be viewed as ignorant and patronising male meddling and infringement on an issue that should be handled by women alone, etc. The most important thing is that “you know” that you have done no harm to anybody, and that you have asked forgiveness for any harm that may have been done previously, and that you are now satisfied with your own Sila and sense of conscience, in line with Dhamma and regardless of what others think of you.
When the heart is thus released, inwardly, I believe one is no longer easily upset even by such excessive views that one encounters every now and then. One is more able to listen to what the speaker is feeling rather than just what they are saying! There is almost always a gap, and a vast one, between what is felt and what is said! And then it might dawn on one that not all over-generalisations are born of cruelty; and that some are born of agony! For it takes a person to be bitten by a dog just once, in order to subsequently fear all dogs! And the sum of suffering inflected upon ‘many’ women by ‘many’ men in this world, is hard for us even to imagine, though it is very real!
Extend, then, your forbearance, friend Samseva.
Sadhu! I was a bit saddened by a suggestion earlier on that my heartfelt discussion was making the issue about ‘me’. I am a father of two daughters and I love them dearly and I also love Buddhism and free speech about things that really matter.
I would have been happy to have taken a back-seat if others had been prepared to really think about what was being said when the discussion was being reduced to a gender-war or, dismissed as irrelevant and/or one-sided or, dismissed completely as if nobody had a right to challenge patriarchy and discrimination in the monastic code of discipline or, question it.
In the earlier thread, it was suggested there is no grounds for questioning these matters as these are time-honoured ‘traditions’ - a standard template of behaviour in Asian cultures and societies and, it is cultural imperialism to contemplate the need for change. I wonder if all the people in that part of the world would agree with this view?
I understand this reticence - or disdain - if mittas genuinely believe this is about a ‘men versus women’ issue, as was stated earlier or, they believe it is only women who have the right to discuss this issue or, nobody has a right to contemplate or advocate change or, they accept the ‘indefinite’ continuance of discriminatory rules in the ‘codes of discipline’ because meaningful change is to difficult in an institution where everybody has to agree on a course of action before anything can happen.
Regarding the last scenario, this makes all opposition to discrimination deeply problematic as all it would take to scuttle meaningful change is one voice of decent among a thousand others and, technically, things would have to remain the same.
The only realistic option in a situation like that - if the consensus-rule was to be observed (unconditionally) - would be for practitioners who have the ‘courage of their convictions’ to make a decision to act ‘independently’ or collaboratively. However, only after seeing there was no other ‘reasonable’ alternative.
The very mention or suggestion of this rather obvious fact seemed to be received with gasps of indignation or incredulity.
I find this reaction incomprehensible when it comes from people who live in - and have benefitted from - democratic societies, where a diversity of developmental options - policy positions - are presented to enfranchised citizens who are free to make decisions based on their own convictions. Those whose choices are not ‘popularly’ endorsed do not get to scuttle the process of change - if the majority see the need for it.
This ‘glitch’ in Buddhist consensus decision making seems to be playing a central role here in preventing meaningful and supported change in the community. Very few practitioners seem to question this process openly for reasons that have not been specified. So I will have to specify one because nobody else wants to go there. There is the ‘rule’ against ‘schism’ and therefore, any kind dissent - or actual opposition when it comes to standard-practice - enforced by authority figures - is a worrying prospect. Independent or collaborative initiatives to bring about change can cause fear, discomfort etc.
This is the kind of suffering- or challenging situation - that can lead to progress without ‘useless’ compromise, as in the case of bhikkhuni ordination in the ‘Ajahn Brahm tradition’.
Involvement in meaningful change can make us feel uncomfortable or, heaven forbid, it may lead to a temporary reduction in our equanimity and, this would be a sign - to some - that something has gone wrong! Hmm … I wonder if that needs to be questioned - on occasion? Would anyone care to comment?
Laurence, I think you still don’t understand that every single monastery makes independent decisions. There is no hierarchy that can impose rules on communities from outside, unless the monastery is a branch of an extended lineage (such as for example the Ajahn Chah monasteries).
If you disagree with how the Ajahn Brahm monasteries keep their vinaya, then it’s your choice to go somewhere else.
Yes, change is painful and the traditionalists will oppose to new ways of interpreting the vinaya. But that doesn’t mean that nobody is doing it. We have been having debates about vinaya reform on this forum for a long while now. Monastics are experimenting with all sorts of ways of how to keep their vinaya, and how to adapt it to the modern world. The Buddha allowed for minor rules to be abandoned, and monastics are doing that all the time.
This is a common misconception. But if the community in one monastery keeps vinaya differently from others, that is not a schism.
OK, lets say there is a big monastery with a thousand monastics in the community - or just a large Sangha. 999 members of the community want something to change and, one individual decides this is not a good idea! You end up in the same pickle - don’t you? I actually do understand - and have understood all along - what it is you are saying and, I still see problems with it. There are strengths and weaknesses in this method of decision making. They are not difficult to see - are they? One possible advantage is it creates cohesion and continuity over time - which has its good and bad points? Can you think of any other advantages and drawbacks?
Yes, but I am not only referring to nuns at all. I am talking about everyone—monastic, lay, male or female. And although this is not the main point of your message, and this doesn’t come only from your post, I am confused as to why this topic is being taken as a kind of attack against bhukkhunīs, when it is clearly not. My intention (of which what I wanted to say was a lot more clearly expressed in the subsequent posts rather than the first) was simply to point out false, unbalanced and slightly discriminatory positions.
Is this not normal in any conversation? No matter the topic, why would it be fine to accept false and unbalanced ideas? Should we accept such ideas—again, from a male, female, monastic or lay person—“out of compassion for bhukkhinīs”? Sorry, but that doesn’t make sense. I agree that in some circumstances, just ignoring a skewed comment is the better approach, but on a forum where the goal is to express, reflect and, when needed, debate ideas—where things are written and documented—I think it is important to address various false and unbalanced approaches (if only occasionally). And I also don’t think that avoiding expressing oneself regarding any discriminatory position helps bhukkhunīs at all (it is much more the opposite).
I agree. Again, my only intention with this was to point it out—to see/read about this slightly false and unbalanced position, so that in the near future it is proposed less, or viewed differently for those who read such positions.
Yes, but sometimes, when repeated, you end up feeling responsible and/or guilty (even if you aren’t or shouldn’t be). Is the issue the repeated unbalanced position, or the individual (or both)? The main culprit might be repetition, and expressing oneself can be helpful, but still, one’s emotional kamma and to what one applies his/her attention to are still the determining factors (all the while, avoiding positive, or negative, discussions on the bhukkhunī movement doesn’t seem like a good thing).
Thank you very much. This is beautifully said and filled with wisdom.
Its a good idea to point out false, unbalanced and discriminatory positions. It is something else again to suggest:
I think you will find that nobody is troubled - overly - with questioning gender-biased views and opinions. However, when they are told they are doing this - explicitly or implicitly - and it is not actually happening then, that will invite a considered response - as it should. This assertion - as stated in the quote above - requires evidence to validate it.
You did not provide any direct quotes from the discussion - past or present - and, most significantly, in the context of this discussion (also from the thread discussing meddling-monastics), to demonstrate gender-bias IMO - women being unfair to men, blaming men etc.* Please do so and, then, we will have an example of what you mean to convey. It has already been pointed out - clearly - both men and women do not benefit from theses kinds of social, cultural, religious dynamics. This is why they are not acceptable. That seemed to be the main point of the discussion as to why we need to get rid of these discriminatory practices?
It is interesting how you conflate the issue of gender-bias with the issue of noncooperation with unjust and discriminatory practices. I don’t support or encourage ‘men versus women’ arguments or vice-versa but, I do believe that people have a right to not cooperate with discriminatory practices even if this means they need to act independently or, in collaboration with others who feel the need. It is up to them to decide and it should not be imposed by others.
I do believe people have a right - and a responsibility - to consider their options when they are subject to unjust and discriminatory forms of control if, the issue is dismissed, trivialised, swept under the carpet, told that it is impracticable and/or unpragmatic to think otherwise, tradition demands compliance etc. Sometimes, we just need to question what is handed down because it would be ‘avoidance behaviour’ or unrealistic to pretend that we are powerless - or hapless victims.
When someone - or a group of people - have a legitimate complaint about their treatment in an unfair or troubling relationship they are not obliged to remain in that relationship. This is particularly true if there is an unwillingness to meaningfully address the issue/issues that have created the problem.
Most everyone/anyone who has challenged the status-quo has met with resistance from opponents and pragmatists. From those who feel they have a vested interest in maintaining the old-order and by those who remained committed to doing nothing substantive about it and, so it goes … Welcome to the human race and its terrifying inertia! Welcome, to the future that we have created - or ignored - together!
*“A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man”.” - Wikipedia
In a bygone era there may have been some kind of justification for ‘some’ of the rules - in question - and others seem to be later add-ons. Perhaps, we live in a different world now - its possible isn’t it - so why not recognise that fact and do something about it. I agree - if peoples practices are affected in negative ways then its not a good idea. However, if it turns out that the basic purpose of the teachings - liberation from suffering - remains intact, despite the removal of redundant rules then, I guess its a win/win situation?
Somehow, I find it hard to believe there will be a need to bring these practices ‘back on board’ once they are let go of - for ‘individual’ reasons - by those who practice them. It’s always good to keep an open mind - don’t you think? They may be beneficial for reasons mere-mortals are unable to fathom - this is one of the traditional arguments - correct? I believe the Buddha encouraged wise discernment among his students. He did not intend to turn us into people who were incapable of seeing clearly and acting appropriately when there is a justifiable need - that was not his intention IMO.
To say no to these kinds of changes is to say no to basic human rights - as a shared and universal ethos. Others may be willing to make that call - justify it - rationalise it etc. Don’t complain to me about it - talk to the U.N. - they came up with the millennium goals that I happen to agree with - thats all!
If anyone would like to share reasons - views - for why these discriminatory practices are ‘beneficial’ then lets hear them? We can pay close attention and notice if there is a problem with these views - do they actually make sense? If anybody would like to list the benefits accrued to monastics, the four-fold assembly or, to humanity as a whole, as a consequence of endlessly delayed change then, feel free to share your insights? Lets be open-minded and inclusive and share the variety of perspectives found in ‘this’ community. Sharing openly and freely is much to be encouraged IMO.
It makes little sense to question the validity of what has been shared and not offer cogent and persuasive ‘alternative views’ that help us to ‘see’ where mistakes have been made - there may have been oversights? The objections that most of you have had to what I have said I have taken the time and effort to discuss - out of respect - as best I can. Unfortunately, I have heard many of the justifications for endless delay or, just giving up, already. I have heard many of the arguments for keeping the status-quo permanently, we all have, haven’t we? What is the end result? More of the same ‘lack of relevance’ in a world that has ‘heard about’ human rights - they are not going away - thank goodness!
Buddhism could make a significant contribution when it comes to turning back the tide of destruction that is taking all of us - Buddhist or otherwise - into a perilous future. There is no ‘logical’ reason why that would happen if it does not resolve its own ethical dilemmas - apparent here and now!
Thank you for participating in the discussion, everyone. Although there were some misunderstandings, it went relatively well.
I’m sorry if my initial post gave a wrong impression, or created misunderstandings—I really didn’t express myself correctly.
What I wanted to say, as well as the the goal of the topic was to point out that the bhukkhunī situation is a lot more complex than how some people on the forum think it is—and that it doesn’t ressemble a “men against women” or “bhikkhus against bhukkhunīs” situation at all. I do agree this isn’t what the majority of people think, but I thought maybe a similar discussion could possibly put this false understanding to rest, or at least to some degree.
Like any relationship, where discussion and communication both help fix issues, my intention was simply to point something out hoping it could improve things, as well as unite instead of continue dividing.
Thank you for this clarification as your ‘wrong impression’ did seem to reinforce a common misunderstanding. Equality and respect for the rights of women is not a ‘men versus women’ issue or vice versa. Its a human rights issue that is important to anyone who wants to create a fairer world. The ‘women versus men’ - or reverse-discrimination - argument is often employed by male-chauvinists in an attempt to disparage and undermine feminists, human rights activists and, ordinary people who do not accept the unfair treatment of over half the population.
The problem here is the idea of an invisible partiarchy existing and holding back woman, a patriarchy made up by man for their own serfish and evil interest. This is what is causing such generalizations to be made about all men in general. Supposedly every man is responsible for perpetuating this invisible partiarchy through the simple act of being born a man. The patriarchy theory by deffinition places guilt on man for simply being born as man. Luckily the theory is only popular in the english world and not in continental europe.
The problem with this theory is that there are countless legal laws dicriminating against man and not a single law discriminating against woman. As for how society in general is behaving, take for examle the case of Thomas James Bell that commited suicide by setting himself on fire in front of the court that destroyed his life with anti-man laws. His case was not covered by the press, you probably never heard of him. The wikipedia entry about him has been deleted and to this day it still remains deleted. Imagine if a woman would have set herself on fire in front of a US court for anti-woman laws. The media would have exploded, in no case would they have censored the incident.
Besides considering all man guilty because of their birth, the theory also claims man can not experience discrimination because the theory says that there is this invisible system that is giving them an advantage. This is why we see feminist violently trying to shut down talks about man suicide statistics or man rights meetings, while man rights groups have never tried to shut down feminist meetings or feminist speekers.
The theory itself is flawed, it’s simply a wrong theory. It’s claims have also been disproven by countless scientifical studies, started by initial proponents of the theory themseles. And this theory is causing the generalizations made here on this forum. As long as there will be this theory, there will be generalizations about men being made.
When it comes to bhikkhuni ordination, the situation is of course reversed and laws are highly against woman. But this is not because of some evil patriachy propagated by selfish man, it is due entirely to dogmatism, same as identical rules existing in all branches of christianity, especially the orthodox christian branch. On mount athos, womans are not even allowed to step foot.
Theravada is orthodox too and it is very similar in behavior to orthodox christianity. By deffinition, such a tradition is extremelly resistant to change. This has very good positive effects, such as preserving the dhamma for 2500 years while mahayana has transformed into a new age religion that has almost nothing to do with what the historical Buddha taught. The downsides are things such as arhaic laws against womans continuing to exist.
If there is anything woman should be acusing here, that is dogmatism and not some invisible patriarchy or all kind fo funky stuff. And it is good to remember all religions, especially orthodox ones, have a very archaic attitude in general. These laws are not gona change to soon no matter how unfair they are.
Whenever we feel unfaired, this is what we need to do: Think of the smart people living in te middle ages. There were smart people then too. Imagine how they felt seeing people burning witches and vampires. They were no doubt pretty revolted against what was going on. And still, hundreds of years had to pass for something to change, they never lived to see it. Sometimes it’s good not to be too attached to things we don’t like in society cause that is only gona produce stress for us.
It’s also good to remember that these dogmatic people are just as good intented as you. Even people hunting witches and vampires thaught they are doing a good thing. Communist thought they are doing great things and many had great intentions. It’s wrong to consider them evil, hateful of woman or bad intented. This is something many often forget, as can be shown by this post above:
Most everyone/anyone who has challenged the status-quo has met with resistance from opponents and pragmatists. From those who feel they have a vested interest in maintaining the old-order and by those who remained committed to doing nothing substantive about it and, so it goes …
There is this assumption that ill-motivated man are doing this out of a desire to preserve a favorable status quo, according to patriarchy theory. In reality such ideas probably never passed their mind and their are doing it out of true conviction that it’s the good thing to do, same as woman trying to violently shut down talks about men suicide statistics or other ridiculous stuff are convinced it’s the right thing to do. Many bad things in this world happen because of wrong ideas and good intentions, not bad and selfish intentions.
Patriarchy is not invisible. Its reality is manifest in the institutions and practices of our societies, insofar as these institutions and practices enhance and protect male power and privileges, and resist changes to these power relations.
You mean there exist state laws that discriminate against woman ? As far as I know, there exist dozens of laws that discriminate against men and not a single one discriminating against woman.
I understand the idea behind the patriarchy theory. Supposedly because there were laws discriminating against woman in the past (such as not being able to vote, etc.) there still exist such laws in the present. Yet, no one can point to a single such law existing in the present. That’s why it’s simply a wrong theory that has nothing to do with reality.
It’s a theory that also works on the primitive christian ideas of inherited sin and collective sin. (idea that sin is not individual but a whole group can have a sin for simply being of the same gender, like in Adam and Eve story) Because there were laws discriminating against woman in the past, then today man inherited the sin from their forefathers, despite them not even being alive back then. Society today has generally moved past such primitive ideas of inherited sin. You will never see a tribunal, not even in the most backwards of countries, punishing the child of a person or punishing 2-3 generations for the sin of their grandfather. (Actually you do, in North Korea they can send you to the labor camp for 3 generations and some people are born and die in the labor camp, but other than this I know of no other such cases)
“Aristotle believed that women had colder blood than men, which made women not evolve into men, the sex that Aristotle believed to be perfect and superior.” - Wikipedia
Perhaps Aristotle came up with this idea in order to make men feel guilty for being born ‘male’ - that would explain a few things or, maybe not?
My thought is that such discussions are much better served by giving a couple of examples or illustrations of sentences, phrases or words that you want to draw attention to.
It’s fine if you want to make up representative examples - exact quotes are not required.
But if we can’t speak/write plainly about the words or phrases that we find objectionable then I’d say that the pattern or practice of dialog is broken. If dialog is broken then the brokenness becomes itself a form of oppression.
Having specific illustrations in mind works well as a outlining tool to help focus your thoughts – even if you don’t use all the quotes in the final piece.
“Those are some brave words” I’m thinking to myself. They do go against the tendency and general practice in the western societies I know. But when done with kindness I don’t see a better one.
A really nice video on this issue