As a Mae Chee I sometimes go on almsround - among villages - alone. Could a Bhikkhunī do the same? What about river-crossing? Spending a night alone in her kutī ? I have downloaded Bhante Sujāto’s book on vinaya studies, but can’t open the file.
Hi @Varada, welcome.
Bhante Sujato’s Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies covers this rule in a lot of detail in chapter 3, and I really can’t recommend enough trying to get a copy for yourself. There’s numerous versions online in different formats so one should work. Try searching for “Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies” and the first option should be a pdf version, and the second a plain text. It’s also on Google books.
I hope one of these works for you. As you may find from reading the chapter, the answer to your question is not entirely simple. I have met several bhikkhunī from different communities and backgrounds in different parts of the world, and when I asked about their interpretation and practice of this rule, I think pretty much every one, or at least every community, gave a different answer.
This interpretative difference is very interesting (of course, not limited to bhikkhunī), and something I would like to investigate more in the future. Interpretation of bhikkhuni vinaya still seems to be a subject giving rise to confusion for both male and female monastics and women who are interested in ordaining. Sometimes I feel like a consensus on approach to bhikkhuni vinaya could be helpful, even if not universal. But apart from the myriad issues that would no doubt arise trying to do this, maybe the point is making our own decisions and taking our own responsibility for sila. Perhaps more research in the same vein of Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies could help facilitate this.
Please forgive me if I have spoken out of line - I am not a monastic. Just very interested in this subject
It’s not just nuns who disagree about everything—monks get to do that too! Otherwise, what would we have to argue about at evening tea?
Thank you so much Cara. You are not talking out of line and I am grateful to anyone who can help me to understand this and some others rules. Ayye Vimala has kindly copied and emailed Bhante Sujāto’s chapter on this rule. it’s a lot to take in but I will read it carefully. I also hope to get a hard copy for a nun’s library I’m hoping to set up at our wat.
The academic answers are difficult for me to follow - I don’t have an academic mind. It’s the practical application of these rules that I want to fathom. There are some - well intentioned- people who think I should not go pindapat alone when the other Mae Chees are away. The villagers however, were pleased I went as they had thought they would not have a chance to sai baht that day. As I don’t have that rule, for me there is no offence. But I do hope to take ordination one day and meanwhile am using the pātimokkha rules for reflection. Any help towards understanding how the Lord Buddha wanted his nuns to use these rules is much appreciated thank you.
How wonderful to hear about your path. Your experience mirrors what I also observed in Thailand (the only place I was able to follow bhikkhunī on pindapat - an experience that brought a tear to my eye!), the people are so happy to offer, and inspired to do so for a female renunciate.
I hope you will have the chance to meet more excellent bhikkhunī as you head towards ordination, I rejoice in it
Thanks for the links!