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Is the Vinaya fit for purpose?

This is interesting. How do you know? Is there studies of other species where this has happened?

@Media & others.
It’s amusing to see you envisaging a genderless monastic community when women are still struggling to propagate a sangha of their own!! :slight_smile: And i’m aware that it is 2017, but i haven’t an idea which society is that which has transcended binary gender consciousness! Anyways, in ‘that’ genderless society, it will be both suitable and desirable to establish the genderless monastic community, for the Buddha does emphasise that he wishes monastics to respond to society in a meaningful way, which is precisely the reason we ‘still’ have those gender-segregated monasteries going on in those societies which, have not yet transcended binary consciousness at 2017! :wink:

Whether this is scientific, good, or bad, is beside the point. The point is that the purpose of monastic life is to enhance the potential of practitioners to persevere in their “renunciate” efforts, starting precisely from whatever conditioning they have already acquired since birth from society. For as far as I can tell, a genderless human who actually identifies (itself) as such is still conditioned by the fundamental need, or habit, to identify (itself) in some way or another, even if by declaring: “I am only human” or likewise “I am not even a human!”. Only an arahant is free from this recursive curse! Before arahantship, we humbly recognise self-identification, all self-identification, as a curse, not as a good or bad, right or wrong, scientific or unscientific issue! Simply a curse, a snare, a rotten swamp in which we are plunged and can’t even figure bottom from top, as we fail even to begin, as men, women, or neither, to truly desist from lust.

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Thank you Venerable, you always write such things that are pleasing to the ear (or eye in this case). Sadhu!

I read your blog about Vinaya in fact, which really touched on what I saw in sanghas around the world, and how I feel as a woman potential aspirant looking at the vinaya. For me, the greatest thing is this cognitive dissonance about taking on rules that seem to have no further basis in skillfulness to me, and which I would rather not, or cannot keep.

This is very true, although I guess these exercises are here to try and help us understand what gender is and how much it should matter. An excellent point is -

which I think reaches the crux of the issue. We know the female sangha has died out before due to hostile conditions, what are we doing to prevent this happening again? This cognitive/vinaya dissonance is a significant issue that needs to be understood, even from the laypeople’s perspective to ensure their continued support.

In the rest, I agree with you, which is why I asked the question - Forgetting about gender for a moment and whether they are equal, lesser or superior - what is the benefit of subjugating one group (or sangha) to the other? I think in many cultures these days, this is unskillfull, I don’t think it is giving rise to confidence in those without it, no increasing the confidence of those who have it. My female friends often express criticism of the attitude and rules for women, even those who have been brought up with more traditional backgrounds, but in a Western environment.

Although it may seem like it, I promise I’m not trying to be irritating or obtuse :smile:.
It’s a genuine question, for which I would like to hear a skillful reason. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a big and sometimes scary sangha, asking ‘why’? Why should I play along and accept the role of the ‘lesser’? What is the benefit of making one group dependent on and inferior to the other?

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I completely agree.

And yet I support the presence of @Media’s questions and this very thread.

This is a thing that is part of Dhamma when it’s being understood, untangled, let go of.

But the rest of the time it’s outside Dhamma. Threads like this, and statements like this…

…are part of the very fabric of what creates the non-fixity of

Such conversations are never going to contribute to any harm; but they might contribute to a change in society which might promote less division. Perhaps for most of the planet, this is a very long way off. But…changes happen in ways we can’t predict. The future is open and uncertain. Perhaps, Media, there will be a future where such rules will be set aside because the very definitions they rest on are overturned.

But…right now…as Ven Dhammarakkhita says

And as far as the conversations in this thread go, two things concern me very much.

  1. Our relationship with each other, not as individual beings, but as representatives of different perceptions.

People’s ideas about gender are very different. We really can be using the same words, and meaning very different things. It’s easy for misunderstandings to arise. But it’s not that hard to work out if a particular view is going to cause real harm or not; especially if you really are good at listening to someone with a very different view to yours.

I find most of the problems in the world arise when we get really anxious and fearful of someone else thinking differently to us. It’s our reaction of fear that is the problem and can even cause some of us humans to take up arms against others of us humans. This is when we stop being kind because our views are more important than simple kindness. That’s when things have really gone to #*&%! :wink:

As long as no real harm is being done, let’s have a chat and share our views, but also, let people be. :slight_smile: I think this thread is so far and mostly (I haven’t read everything, so it could be all of it) an outstanding example of civilised debate.

  1. The relationship of laity to Sangha

This is, I think, partly what @Cara is pointing to. And @Bhikkhu_Jayasara has also pointed to this.

I think I’ve been extraordinarily lucky. I am part of a community which includes well practising, sila-valuing lay women, lay men, Bhikkunis and Bhikkhus. And we support each other in whatever ways we can. And we’ve flourished.

There’s no chance of our monks and nuns touching money. They’ve got heaps of lay support. So they get to live as real renunciants and I imagine the psychological impact of this on their meditation practice and Practice in general will be significant.

There’s no chance of our nuns’ community going hungry. Too many people think they’re awesome and want to support them.

I know these conversations happen in our community too. But I think what overrides these concerns is observing the 4 facets of our community in action. I mean I watch our nuns, I talk to them, I’ve briefly lived with them. There isn’t anything about them which suggests that they are subjagated or that they see themselves as inferior. These are confident women. But there confidence doesn’t come from any notion of gender.

It comes from within them. From their deeper understanding that gender is part of the picture that they might need to understand; not the whole of it. It comes from a cultivation of renunciation that is so well supported that they have the conditions necessary to take it where it needs to go.

I used to say that I think I considered myself a feminist when I was 8 years old - only I didn’t know at the time that a word existed to describe how I felt and perceived. And then I learned more about it and found it to be a wonderful model to analyse society and to foster more kindness in the world.

Then I was fortunate enough to be brought into contact with an extraordinary Buddhist community. At some point, I can’t remember when, even though I continue to retain my respect for feminism, I stopped calling myself a feminist. For me, being a feminist had become another brick in the wall of avija and self identity. Indeed, I started to see the Buddha as having been one of the first real feminists around. But he offers proper transcendence: not just from gender, but from a lot of other stuff too.

For me, it was about looking at the

and seeing the problem within, rather than without.

These external conditons are always in flux. In a 100 years, historians might look back at this thread and cite Media’s words and questions here as a crucial turning point. :slight_smile: Who knows? And the Sanghas in a 1000 years might do the same. They might view their gender rules like a lot of Bhikkhus view that rule about not eating undamaged fruit…but they might still keep them…for a number of reasons which I can imagine but won’t go into right now (this comment is already way too long).

As long as you can view a “lived monasticism” - not one of ideas and words - that really has no notion of superiority and inferiority in it’s lived practical reality, showing us how to hold the rules lightly, respectfully and in a way where the focus is on kindness coupled with letting go, then I think the concerns of lay people, lay women, melt away… They just want to be part of such communities. But you have to have the chance to view and be with such communities. That won’t happen if you don’t take a leap of faith, and recognise your duty as lay people; to work out which groups are really practising well (or want to), and support them.

This is what needs to happen. For me, it’s not about whether the Vinaya is fit for purpose. It’s about whether lay people are willing to support communites of Sangha that are really looking to grow peace, be kind, show wisdom even under fire, and live harmoniously.

To put it even more coarsely, lay people need to put their money, their time, their energy into supporting genuine Sangha. That’s what’s really needed right now. And also, we all, all four groups of us, need to Practice; otherwise none of this will happen.

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Thank you Kay! You are indeed lucky to live amongst and practice in such a rich, strong environment - anumodana!

To this I respectfully disagree. While the opinions and feelings of present day nuns are very important and significant to me, it doesn’t change the actual written structure of the Vinaya which makes monks the ‘custodians’ of the nuns. Now many women may find this arrangement pleasing, or even rely on it. But the question is, is it truly beneficial and skillful? Not just on an individual level, but how we view and compare the two sanghas, and in the long term?

Also, with respect to the dreaded F-word! It becomes such a dirty word, particularly in religious circles. It is not that I call myself a feminist, so I have to contort my values to conform with that. It’s that my core values, in some ways, reflect the label of ‘feminist’. Core values that I have seen, evaluated and tested for myself. Just as I have absolute faith that the noble truths and path the Buddha taught will lead to liberation, I also have seen and know that as a woman I am no less equipped to attain that liberation compared to a man, and furthermore, I do not need to be held under the authority of a man/men to attain that.
So my curiosity continues, what is the benefit of a structure like that?

I fully get that “it’s all part of self-view, just give it up, be satisfied playing along with the rules, it’s actually better for you this way, it’s better to keep people happy than make waves”, but that to me is the very definition of not being genuine (obviously, the people doing that are being genuine for them, and I am not criticizing, I’m just saying it’s not enough for me).

But you are of course 100% right, as lay people, we need to put our support behind what is important to us. For me, that’s a re-evaluation of what ‘genuine-ness’ means which is an interesting journey in itself!

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I think in most places this is the case.

But I know that conversations have happened elsewhere that have unearthed little nuggets of schorlarly wisdom that suggest that this isn’t historically accurate.

I have heard, I can’t remember the references, that the nuns’ communities in the Buddha’s time were quite independent.

I understand Cara. It’s your journey and only you can travel it. I wish you all happiness and joy and all the other good stuff, along the way. :heartpulse: :heartpulse: :heartpulse:

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Very, very beautiful Kay!!! Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu! I rejoice in it :pray: :bowing_woman:

I see it that we do have a chance to be a part of this right now. We are the ones who can. Keeping all the rules is the goal, it is beautiful, truly inspiration worthy, and a thing I hope all nuns can do.

I know, because I am coming from a critical angle, this can be uncomfortable. But let me say that I am not endorsing we should abandon or change any rules right now, I am merely asking questions. Because I need to understand how this is done, with a pure heart.

I long to find a way to keep the rules in perfection, but I have seen many communities, and while I think it may be possible, I am not sure it is beneficial. I know how self-hatred and self-doubt can destroy, which is why I need to keep asking questions, keep exploring, keep understanding.

Thank you for being a part of that journey and understanding :heartbeat::heartpulse::heartbeat::heartpulse:

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This section that I’ve highlighted is highly problematic.

Within this last decade, we’ve seen people “revive” the Bhikkhuni ordination in the West. Some people, some monks, in the West, opposed this. Actively. (And in some cases rather repulsively.)

One of their arguements was this highlighted section above. In my opinion they took elements of Right View and twisted them and misunderstood them (or else it was deliberate) and misused them to keep others down. This was, obviously rather wrong.

I believe, one of the reasons they may have done this is because when a lot of them went looking for Buddhism, they found it in a contemporary, “Eastern” culture which was steeped in a mix of peace, harmful conservatism, beauty, rigidity, wholesomeness, blindness, wisdom, innovation, simplicity, mosquitoes, humidity and tradition. I reckon they found it hard to separate the good bits from the bad bits. Particularly because, I imagine it would have been somewhat shocking to be transplanted from their home culture into one that would have been so different, and so they just adopted the lot!

Thus their notions about “letting go” were heavily influenced by all this.

Anyway…I think over the last 8 years…this error on their part has created a sort of twisting in perception in some, of those of us, who resisted them. I think we need to take back ownership of these ideas. On our terms. On the Buddha’s terms.

So referring again to the highlighted section and this bit in particular:

it’s better to keep people happy than make waves

I would never, ever give this as a piece of advice to anyone. It’s the sort of advice that is only suitable in certain circumstances and could never be applied generally.

Renunciation should never be about doing something for someone else which harms me. And as long as I see something as harming, I should never do it. Only when my journey brings me to see something as being harmless could I really even think about give my heart to it.

The mistake those monks made was not seeing that all three aspects of Right Intention need to be present: not just Renunciation; but Kindness and Compassion too. Unfortunately, we’ve (in a general sense) through our resistance to this mistake, bought into it too.

So I guess what I’m wondering is: has recent history influenced how we view renunciation and its place in relating to the Vinaya?


Furthermore, referring again to the quoted section; the sentiment/spirit these words point to, (and I understand they’re not your sentiments and indeed you’re, quite rightly, questioning them) are not useful in approaching any kind of Sila - even the 5 precepts. I can’t get any benefit from keeping my precepts when I coming from a place of not wanting to rock the boat, because I want approval or feel guilty about not making others happy or 'am busy taking responsibility for other people’s journeys and therefore want to be some kind, overly quiet role model or whatever. Gross! I feel sickened by the notion.

My original cultural background is traditional Buddhist, but then I chose Buddhism later in my life. I know when culture is being used to disguise some forms of meanness which keep groups of people limited and stop them reaching their highest human potential.

A potential which can only benefit everyone anyway - but not in a way that harms me first and silences me first and doesn’t recognise my humanity first. Practice is not Real if it ignores and doesn’t kindly open itself to our conditioned, in flux, humanity. Years ago I read this book and it was called, “When Helping You is Hurting Me”. I can’t remember the author but reading that book was like looking into a mirror. However, it took me years to even begin to understand my khandas remotely well enough to see with even a little bit of wisdom and begin to let go of this harmful inner perception I carried.

So I guess I was talking from personal experience when I said this:

But I get what you’re sayng Cara. I feel it.

:sparkling_heart: :heartpulse: :heartbeat: Good. Very, very, very good. :slight_smile: You keep at it!

Right back at you! :hugs: :dharmawheel: :white_flower: :sunglasses:
:sunflower: :sunflower: :sunflower: :tulip: :tulip: :tulip: :blossom: :blossom: :blossom:

I’m still on my journey too Cara. I know I have too many attachments and probably won’t become a nun; these obstacles are probably a bit different to yours, but still a big part of my inner journey.

:anjal: :white_flower: :white_flower: :white_flower: :anjal:

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:slight_smile: I agree. :upside_down_face:

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Great perspective for reflecting on - thank you!

Possibly! I think it’s very easy to admire this attitude without looking at whether it’s really skillful.

Re: what you say on precepts, I absolutely agree! I take a pretty strict approach on the 5 precepts (+celibacy) because doing so produces great happiness and stability for my mind. I can see for myself that they are skillful, they are wholesome, they produce an advancement towards skillfulness and wholesomeness. But I couldn’t say the same of taking on a few of the bhikkhuni vinaya rules. Which is where my conflict lies. Of course I have not been a bhikkhuni or claim to understand what it is really like. But I have stayed with female communities who have been under the same or similar rules and have seen this effect and am not convinced of any benefit beyond satisfying an individual’s faith, or maintaining status quo.

Maybe I won’t know until I try it. If I were to ordain right now, I would try to keep all the rules. But it would be out of a sense of faith and devotion, rather than truly believing that they are beneficial to myself and the community. The very accepting of things based of faith and devotion, as noble as it is, leads to the end of reason and compassion. An approach I don’t think I agree with, one reason I am not ordaining now!
This is the point that I am trying to get at, I think, in my questioning :smile:

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Yes, I see. :slight_smile:

And I guess…

…this is a big one. If you can’t see any other benefit, then it’s a no go for you.

I would probably insert the word “only” here, after the word “based”… :slight_smile:

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Hey Media :slight_smile:

I was just thinking about the title of your thread, not so much the specifics of your OP (which are also very interesting ), and I think, to answer more simply than I am sometimes capable of (I talk/write too much sometimes!), I would say as an answer that works for me:

Yes, the Vinaya is fit for purpose. Particularly if you define this Purpose as Full Enlightenment and the cultivation of the Path leading to this. But, I would also say it depends at least partly on interpretation, the presence of compassion and supportive conditions; like an intelligent, committed, well practising lay community surrounding the Sangha that are attempting to keep this Vinaya.

Thank you for this most interesting thread. :anjal:

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Oh yes, thank you! That is correct :smile:

Yup :pensive:
I really feel like the vinaya was put forth as a reasonable and sensible way for the sangha to self govern. For such a system of rules to work, I think it needs to be seen as ‘fair’ and meaningful (in that it directly promotes skillfulness), which for the sake of a positive example, I think the bhikkhu vinaya is.

I believe that when it comes to living the Vinaya, the reality is that flexibility rules the day; and when this is coming from Compassion and Dhamma-sense (as opposed to the more “common” variety), then you might just get communities that can see the sense in ditching the rules, especially when there’s evidence to suggest that they’re not EBT based. My understanding is that the garudhammas, for instance, are part of this.

So only two things to be done Cara. Keep questioning, keep having conversations. Keep supporting people who come from Compassion and Dhamma-sense and you might end up promoting the fairness/kindness you seek. You might find a monastic community where this kind of interpretation prevails.

That’s the other thing I’ve heard again and again…people love to talk about monastics “keeping their rules”…but really we have no idea. Because I’ve heard the reality is that, in pretty much every monastery, this is open to particular interpretations!

Once the Nuns have some solid history behind them (they really need support for this people!!) then they might have more confidence in trusting their own Dhamma-sense and following their own flexible, compassionate interpretations. It does require lay people around them to appreciate this though. Right now I think they’re just so grateful to be having the chance to renounce and to get some support and are probably aware that there’s opposition to their very existence; it must be hard not to keep your head down in this situation.

The thing is though, I’ve often thought that this issue isn’t just about gender. It’s about culture. And here in the West, we’ve a unique opportunity to really support our nuns in a way that is still Dhamma and Vinaya, but also “us”.

As an aside, I’ve no idea if the Dhammasara nuns keep the garudhamma rules or not.

Are the 8 the only ones you’ve got a problem with Cara? I’m just assuming they’re the ones.

Oh…actually…isn’t it the case that some of these 8 are also found in the monks rules and it’s just one or two that reallly deserve to be labelled as blatently unfair?

Perhaps @vimalanyani, @Vimala, and @Bhikkhu_Jayasara and @Dhammarakkhita can help us out with such questions? :anjal:

Also Ayyas and Bhantes, is the following accurate?

…and how do you see your rules? Do you ever feel they’re unfair or without meaning? And if so, what brings you to peace with these perceptions.

Much metta :grin:

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Correct, I certainly don’t blame anyone for keeping their head down. That’s another one of the reasons I don’t ordain yet, I need to be able to air my complaints freely and openly until I can get a little clearer on them :laughing:

Well, yes and no. I’m pretty satisfied with the scholarly work on these and understand that many communities don’t follow them. But yes, I do have a problem with them.

Basically my problem is with the first chunkish of the bhikkhunikkhandaka (containing the 8 rules) as well as some paccitiyas which are related to them. Then I also have a problem that nuns have to do penance for sanghadisesa under both sanghas.

The reason I am opposed to these rules is that they make the bhikkhuni sangha acquiescent, submissive and dependent on the bhikkhu sangha. The reason I am opposed to this arrangement is because I can see no objective benefit to it other than satisfying the male ego, confirming a fault in the female being, maintaining society’s expectation or ‘following the rule for the sake of following it’.

I am actually okay with the bhikhhuni parajikas and sanghdisesas because of certain interpretations I’ve heard, and I think that most of them are skillful in practice. But I still think we need to continue to look at them critically, because the differences between the genders point out potentially problematic ideas about women ie, is the addition of parajika 6 in bhikkhuni vinaya an assertion that women are deceptive? etc… I could go on but won’t. Anyway, because there are differences between the gendered vinayas I see the bhikkhuni parajika and sanghadisesa as skillful, but unfair.

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There is a distinction between emptiness (as understood in Mahayana Buddhism) and nihilism. Emptiness means that nothing has an inner defining essence that makes it what it is. It lacks inherent existence. It doesn’t exist from its own side as they would say in Tibetan Buddhism. This is true of gender, sex, social class and absolutely any and all nouns. A more modern word would be social constructs. Gender is socially constructed, and so is sex. Some may think biology is more objective than other social constructs, but it is also a human language game which comes with its own rules and regulations that have evolved in human culture. Even science and studies that you refer to are socially constructed.

Humans find the language of science useful. There are a set of rules on how to conduct science that through trial and error have become adapted such that they often produce the desired results. These rules did not fall out of the sky but evolved as part of human language and culture. The language of philosophy is sometimes different, and comes with its own set of rules that produce results desirable to those who engage in philosophy. There is no meta view that can judge between all the different languages that have evolved and judge which is better. It is always going to be a matter of preference. Even ultimate truth is not a meta view. More about this later.

However, the lack of an inner defining essence, and the socially constructed nature of all our different languages of art, chemistry, biology, spirituality, religion, etc., does not mean that nothing at all exists. The objects of our diverse forms of languages exist in the only way they can: socially conditioned and constructed, empty of inherent existence. That is not existence in an essentialist sense of the word, nor is it nihilism, as the denial of any and all existence. It is the middle path. Empty of inner essence.

Knowing the empty nature of all categories and roles, one can let go of clinging to any of them. In one setting I can be an IT-consultant. In another setting I can be a patient. In a third setting I can be a bag of atoms. In a fourth setting I can be a man. In a fifth a son. In a sixth a brother. The different roles I can be assigned to in different human language games are almost endless. I can wear different hats and glasses as the situation demands, and knowing their emptiness allows me not to take such categories more seriously than they warrant. They are pragmatically useful and enable me to communicate with others. That’s it.

Sometimes they are unfortunately also used for great harm and can cause great suffering. Humans tend to reify these empty labels and use them in order to discriminate against people they do not even know. In such cases I certainly see merit in pointing out that our human language distinctions are conditioned and empty – to the extent that the other party is willing to listen. So I do think that the nihilistic denial of gender and sex is done by well minded people. They see the suffering such terms have caused throughout history and want to discard them altogether for that reason. It may be that society would be better off without using these categories anymore, and when humans stop using them, they will be truly non-existent instead of just empty.

What about ultimate truths in Buddhism? They as empty and conditioned as all other truths. The only reason we choose to label them ultimate is because of their capacity for liberating from suffering. The four noble truths could be labelled ultimate truths, not because they exist in some transcendent, divine or platonic sphere, independent of the evolution of human language and culture. They simply have the capacity to lead people to liberation, and for that reason some Buddhists refer to them as ultimate.

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Well I think you should! And create a new post on it too! :slight_smile:

Well…exactly…I think you ought to air your concerns!

Also…there’s a bunch of stuff here that most of us haven’t a clue about and really, we ought to get more educated on it…so it would be nice for the rest of us if you did this. :slight_smile: But no pressure :wink:

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None of them are found in the monks’ rules and all of them are subjugating the nuns under the authority of the monks. Also, most of them are also pacittiyas, so even if you decide not to follow the garudhammas as such, will you also ditch these pacittiya rules?
But in fact, as @Cara pointed out, it’s not just the garudhammas. The whole structure of the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha seems to imply that nuns need to be more heavily controlled than monks. There are twice as many parajikas, and it is not immediately clear why the additional four should be in that category at all. There are rules like sanghadisesa 3, which according to some popular interpretations means that a nun can’t leave the monastery alone, thus massively restricting her freedom of movement and ability to practice in seclusion.
If I may ask you @Kay, when you said that if you became a nun you’d keep the rules, were you not clear what that entails? Why did you say that? How would you “compassionately keep these rules” that subjugate women under men? (This is not intended as criticism. I do see the beauty of keeping Vinaya purely and I’m very touched by your enthusiasm. I am just genuinely puzzled what you meant.) :sunflower::rose:

In my own experience (and others might disagree) this is a very widespread belief in bhikkhuni monasteries. It can often seem that keeping quiet and not asking questions is a prerequisite for ordination, for if you are perceived as a troublemaker, you will not find a community that will take you in.
Also, most monasteries cannot afford to make waves, since they are already struggeling to survive, and can’t afford to alienate people even more.
In a similar vein, the coginitive dissonance that @Cara mentioned is a huge problem and I have met more than one senior nun who had psychological problems due to prolonged practise in this way.

To simplify the problem very much:
Nuns are subjugated under monks, thus both they and also the monks and laypeople feel that they are inferior (often as an unexpressed subconscious issue, but also quite openly),
thus they loose faith in themselves,
thus they cling tightly to rules, because they need the monks’s approval,
thus they can’t practise freely, don’t have trust in themselves and as a result their practise goes nowhere,
since they make no progress, they will just pass on to the next generation of nuns exactly the same unwholesome things that already got them nowhere.
It’s a vicious cycle.

That all said, if you ditch the garudhammas and related pacittiyas, and find a community that has a reasonable interpretation of things like sanghadisesa 3, and that does not expect you to be a docile poster nun to impress the monks and laypeople, then the vinaya can be kept reasonably well without causing harm.

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Thanks so much Ayya!

Okay, first of all, it’s easy for me to say things like “if I become a nun…” because I know the chances are I won’t! Whereas you’re actually living it.

But, as I said before I jumped head first into my rather long winded “poem”,

I wasn’t thinking at all…I didn’t plan it. I just typed the words as they came. They were a thoroughly emotional response, I freely admit, based on insufficient knowledge. EDIT: I deleted the poem…it needed to be much more than it was considering the subject matter, and I think something like that is better off coming from a real nun!! :slight_smile:

I’m really glad you and @Cara have been so open. I would think it good if more women with solid experience and knowledge, particularly who are or were ordained could be more open. I think this may contribute to reducing the likely hood of passing all this stuff

It certainly educates the wider community and gives further motivation into looking closely at these rules. I mean, if monastics are constantly bending rules anyway, and sometimes super important ones and getting away with it, why can’t some of these be bent? I think the more nuns and committed lay women like Cara go into the specifics of these issues, on forums like this where perhaps it’s easier to do (?) the more likely the rest of us can have an appreciation of the problem and be likely to be understanding about this kind of compassionate flexibility.

Going on a bit of faith based on my perceptions of you and Cara both, I reckon I would support you if you explained to me what the rules were and why you were interpreting them in whatever way you were and if you then wanted to just set them aside…I think I’d support that. And I was one of those who was even more clueless than I am now; I mean, I blithely thought that one wasn’t a good monk/nun if one didn’t rigidly follow every rule to the letter; because that’s all I knew. It’s only when Bhante Sujato and others started presenting people with different information that I began to change my mind. My point is, people’s minds do change if presented with information in a reasonable manner and like I said before, I think it’s more likely to happen here in the West.

One of the other vicious circles I see is that lay people in the West think it’s all too awful and don’t support the monastics and then the thing dies out anyway. I think it’s important to speak openly about these things. Lay people need to know what’s going on so they can become part of the support network; and hopefully one that creates a strong, fair, western nuns community.

I know I talk a lot! But I think it’s possible to break that other vicious cycle you mentioned. But what do you think?

:anjal:

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I mean…are there rules that stop you from talking more openly about these things on forums like this at least?

And…I wonder if there are monks who feel similarly about some of their rules - though I doubt it would have anything to do with gender? I mean I am guessing, from monk to monk, how they relate to some of their rules would be different and some of them, I daresay, wouldn’t stay in robes based on these reasons. I wonder how the ones that do stay manage; what aspects of the Dhamma could they use to get around this stuff?

Also

I guess I meant, be flexible!! And I wasn’t thinking about subjugation specifically when I wrote that highly emotional, somewhat thoughtless poem!!
But I do think there’s too many instances of monks being flexible, even good ones in small ways, why can’t the nuns?

And frankly, everything else aside, just focusing on whether texts are early or not; if you told me there was evidence to suggest that these rules weren’t laid down by the Buddha…that would be enough for me to say, “ditch them”! This, I suppose, is at least partly what I mean by compassion ruling interpretation. Compassion has to lead the way a bit more I think.

I remember someone saying once…I can’t remember who…imagine where you want it to be and the work backwards in your mind to work out how you got there from where you actually are now. I’m not a nun. I’m not in a monastery. But I would hope that nuns I support would discuss such things, if not for themselves, but for the sake of future generations.

So again, thanks so much to you and @Cara for your courage and openness. It’s greatly appreciated.

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