So I am making a guess and assuming that these texts have only started to be “lived” in the last twenty years or so… Prior to that they were “gathering dust on a shelf” as it were…? At least in the Theravada tradition?
I suggest that they were initially formulated primarily as “lived” texts. That is they weren’t created out of thin air. They were not created in a vacuum. And they were created for living breathing women to make use of them and live well and happily with them.
They may have been added to here and there…corrupted and turned into an intellectual relic. They weren’t intended to be such a relic.
But what I am trying to get to is that to really understand what these texts are about, you have to live them. That’s how they were (mostly?) created and that’s how they were intended to be used.
In doing this, I would suggest, without wanting to hinder anyone’s contribution here, that it is those who are currently living these texts that we should be hearing from the most.
Further, with regard to how a woman’s body works, how her sexuality might play out in relation to her biology and how her mind might interact with this…well…I think again…we should take care, extra care, to attempt to redress the common historical tragedy of humanity and to avoid re-creating it here; that is we have to be careful that we do encourage women to record their experiences, and that we do acknowledge these voices and experiences as being, in some particular respects unique.
I am not, in any way suggesting anyone is discouraging in an opposite way to this… And I do very humbly apologise if any offense is caused.
Indeed, I feel everyone here is genuine in their concern and desire to address these issues and support the nuns to find their way to once again understanding their texts, moving towards a more useful removal of them from the shelves of academia to lived experience. But I am, perhaps pre-emptively, suggesting that we take an extra care here.
The nuns’ voices have mostly been lost in time. I confess to feeling cheated by this. I confess to feeling that not enough people thought it important to attempt to preserve more records by them (or at least about them) in the Buddhist traditions of the Indian Subcontinent.
I would like to hear their voices more clearly now. I don’t want the voices of those attempting to find their way to living these texts in honesty, to be drowned out.
I say all this with deepest respect for all of you and your clearly, beautifully, well intentioned responses. But I do call on the nuns out there, the bhikkhunis, the women studying and practising or training in this or interested in this and other related issues, to take a more active role in discussions/sharings such as these; really for all our sakes.
With much metta and anjali to all