Is there a "place" in the west for a monastery that is home to Bhikkhus AND Bhikkhunis?

Thank you for acknowledging my ‘experience’.

I would speculate when monastics help laypeople with problems, such as providing counselling, they majority of people helped are women. Of course, the more bhikkhunis the better so to relieve the monks of this.

My point is, from the outset, that monks are not intrinsically sexist bad guys towards women.

[quote=“Brenna, post:13, topic:3209”]
I did not mean to infer that women’s roles in monasteries are exclusively negotiated by men – but historically and in the present day they often are; to imply that women have a valued and equal voice in proportion to men would be simplistic and unrealistic.[/quote]

I am not sure what is being referred to above. When I lived in a monastery, everyone, both men & women, had their communal duties to perform. I did not notice any power issues there since two primary activities occurred: (i) meditating; and (ii) service (apart from some power relationships between individuals).

That is why I previously asked Sujato what the fuss is all about (apart from the petty squabbles that occur over worldly matters).

[quote=“Brenna, post:13, topic:3209”]
I don’t understand why useful is in quotation marks. Was she not useful? [/quote]
The nun provided a useful & important social function. However, I was not prepared to emotionally support the nun because I am a stronger believer in the goals of meditation, which is liberation. I enjoy solitude.

Overall, I was providing an example of nuns relying on monks (since you seemed to provide a link to an article that seemed to assert monastics view women as sexual hindrances, power threats or similar, as though women are ‘all-powerful’). I was pointing out that monks & men in monasteries are often required to help women.

Naturally, I cannot agree here since I do not regard the attachment or clinging of women to their families, spouse & offspring and their instincts towards nurturing as “degrading”. To the contrary, I find it ethical, virtuous & life affirming; just as my own mother clung to her family, through thick & thin, to provide for their welfare.

[quote=“Brenna, post:13, topic:3209”]
These ideals were prominent 2600 years ago, but as a modern practice are greatly un-beneficial. Merely because the suttas state women’s ‘intentions’ does not suggest that they are correct. Also, be mindful of the fact that these ideals were vocalized and written down by men who potentially had very little direct experience and interaction with women.[/quote]
In my sincere opinion, I find the above ideals are greatly un-beneficial since, as a man, I have no issues in viewing women as assertive, goal orientated, demanding & domineering. In my life experience, the sutta is an accurate representation.

Do you expect me to disregard the sutta & my own experience and accept your portrait that women are generally meek, pure, saintly & non-demanding, who act without any self-interest like Mahayana Bodhisatvas?

I personally have no issues with assertive & domineering women (although, naturally, I am not prepared to marry them & fulfill their expectations towards men. Instead, I choose a celibate life of freedom).

My post was merely about underlying tendencies & monastic ‘dynamics’ rather than a condemnation of what I regard as a woman’s domineering tendency, which I view positively (since I am not partial to submissive women).

I do not recall commenting on monks criticizing nuns. I am sure there are rules about this. I doubt young monks are allowed to criticize senior nuns.

I personally have never experienced women forbidden to teach the Dhamma. Even the 10-precept- nuns from Amaravati were flying around the world (in planes rather than by using psychic powers) as world-wide Dhamma teachers. Personally, I don’t really know what the issue is here? In every Dhamma centre & monastery I have visited, be it Theravada or Mahayana, women teach.

My point was the monastery has always been essentially a male domain since it was the men that left the household life for freedom. To accommodate women in the monastery, I trust the monks have had to take up many responsibilities, burdens & sacrifices; just like monks are often counselling women.

It is wonderful bhikkhunis can currently establish monasteries in relative safety but that has not always been the case.

I did not post what you have inferred. I merely referred to a tendency or anusaya. Are you denying women search for mates? Do you hold the view that it is men that impregnate women by force, against the will of women?

As for ‘an androcentric framework’, I do not recall mentioning such a concept. I merely made an argument for the separation of the sexes & particularly problems in nuns teaching monks. I certainly am in favour of bhikkhuni empowerment in primarily supervising their own monastic affairs.

I do think women are useful for teaching worldly men morality (sila), such as sexual morals that fulfil the moral expectations of women (rather than leaving the difficult tasks to monks of trying to explain sexual misconduct to men). Apart from that, the Dhamma is the teacher thus I see no reason why a women in particular needs to preach Dhamma to me. If I hear a ‘woman’ preaching about Emptiness (Sunnata), like Tenzin Palmo used to do when she was fresh & clear from her cave, that inspired me. As a man, I am inspired to hear a woman talk about her own freedom.

Why? Because I have spent lots of time in my life trying to help women & the more women that find freedom the better. I suppose that is why I personally disagree with sexist feminist comments degrading male monastics & men in general.

With metta & equality in discussion :evergreen_tree:


Thank you for your encouragement Stu but I left my workplace & am now self-employed. That being said, the outlook for my former workplace is bleak, probably beyond redemption. Even some of the highly competent female bosses departed.

With metta :koala:

Thank you @Russell for you reply. It gave me such a belly laugh, but also echoed my thoughts.
I’m of the hope that as we see more senior Bhikkunis as role models for women in our Western Sanghas more women will have the courage to go forth. Until recently the situation was not one which was encouraging for women more used to equality, but as we move forward more ‘strong’ female role models I believe we will come to a point where fully ordained women as as normal as fully ordained men. Then this will be reflected in the monasteries.
Much gratitude to those who have forged the way for the Bhikkhunis!


This would be a terrific project, a precursor to, perhaps, a “white paper” on the organization and management of a Bhikkhuni/Bhikkhu monastery and training center in the west. South Korea? Taiwan? I’ll go. To be serious, though, it would be good to have a project that looks to support and propagate the Dhamma in the west, through the lens of correct Bhikkhuni/Bhikkhu Vinaya monastic practice. As has been said before, there’s a lot of Buddhism being taught in the west, and not much Dhamma. One way to invigorate the availability of the Dhamma in the west might be a cohesive effort to study the development and management of a thriving “coed” training wat. There seems to be enough of group of caring wise people here that could work on a project like this over the next year or two.


Haha nice! Me too! Actually I’m planning to go to both those places in about 8 months. Anyone got some contacts?

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The only fragment of direction I have is that Ayya Thathaaloka trained under Bhikkhuni Elder Myeong Seong Sunim (Former abbess of Unmoonsa (Unmunsa, 운문사 雲門寺) Cloud Gate Monastery in the Leaping Tiger Mountain (호거산 虎距山) area of Southern Kyeongsang Province (경상북도 慶尙北道), in the ancient Shilla Kingdom area.)

I tried to help via email correspondence Ayya Tathaaloka with some small financing issues in the early stages of Dhammadharini Vihara. My help didn’t help in the end but I learned a lot. She’s brilliant, and would be a good source for direction for your journey in South Korea @Cara. Her Facebook link is here, FYI :


@Anagarika cheers thanks, I met Ayya T when I stayed at Dhammadharini briefly, perhaps I’ll shoot her an email after Vassa :blush:

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Yep, gets an enthusiastic vote from me, although I would probably drop the ‘a’ (making the necessary pluralisation in turn), and the ‘the west’ (beyond being a handy phrase of convention, I’m not sure it’s a meaningful enough idea/division to base efficacious protocols on).

In fact, waaaaaaay back in the early parts of this of this thread, reading:

and remembering that Ven. Bodhi is just about to come out with a book on the Buddha’s teachings on social and communal harmony and I wondered if Ven. @sujato would be so kind as to offer a little sketch of the syllabus for the Leadership As Taught By The Buddha class.


The Newbury Buddhist Monastery is based on the early teachings found in the Suttas (the Buddha’s teachings) and Vinaya (monastic rules) that are shared by all Buddhist traditions. Hence, we welcome monastics from all traditions and countries to stay.

The BSV saw a great need for this facility as there are currently very few forest monasteries in the world that support Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni ordination and practice. There is a lack of monastic educational facilities in the world where women can ordain as Bhikkhunis and receive training according to the early teachings of the Buddha.

this is EXACTLY what I was talking about. I will be looking at the growth of this monastery and I hope it does well :).


speaking of leadership and Dhamma, one example of how it can go wrong

I have been doing meditation for long time and have felt a change in me. I have started developing strong compassion, and due to this I am speaking very politely to everyone and always agreeing with the views of others. In fact, I am helping others in their work. However, now people have started taking me for granted.

As I speak kindly with my subordinates, they are taking advantage of me by commanding me to do their work and are trying to dominate. They have started speaking in rude ways to me as they have started feeling that I am not harmful for them and cannot do anything. I am now becoming a victim of their politics.


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Dear @LXNDR,

Interesting you brought this up. I just recently experienced a similar situation at a previous job as a lead technician and it was obvious that they played office politics. I’ve stepped down from that position and gotten my old job back to save myself from all that nonsense.

Happy vassa!

in mettā,


Thanks, Stu!

Deeele, I am not going to go through your argument point by point to try to dispute it, as it is evident that we have fundamentally different opinions, and thus, we would only end up going in circles. :weary:

A couple of notes:

Allison Goodwin’s essay discusses how (and perhaps even why) women have been viewed as inferior beings within Buddhism throughout history, often due to aspects of their biology such as menstruation and child-bearing.

This is not the portrait of women I’m suggesting at all. I’m arguing, counter to your point, that women are not ‘either or’; they do not exist in a binary of “assertive, goal orientated, demanding & domineering” or “meek, pure, saintly & non-demanding.” I’m suggesting that the “monastic ‘dynamics’” you’re describing are far more complex.

Yes, but in citing the eighth garudhamma you are automatically inferring the second part of the rule, for example:

“From today admonition of monks by nuns is forbidden, admonition of nuns by monks is not forbidden. This rule too is to be honoured, respected, revered, venerated, never to be transgressed during her life.”

Hence my previous point about how the rule leaves the nuns voiceless.

Yes, but women also left the household for freedom during the Buddha’s time. It was not exclusively men who sought liberation from suffering.

I don’t understand what you mean by this, could you elaborate? [quote=“Deeele, post:21, topic:3209”]


Feminism is not the elevation of one sex over another, but rather the equality of the sexes. This equality can be realized through understanding the patterns of male-superiority that have existed over time.

And thus, “sexist feminist” is an oxymoron.

With upekkha.


I would be feeling so good being a Canadian right now. From what I’ve seen, Justin Trudeau is an exemplary leader. Here’s yet another example why:

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@Brenna Thanks for the link to the Newbury Monastery. I reviewed their website and viewed a youtube regarding its launch and financial support. Wow. It’s a massive, exciting project, with a substantial debt load, that must obviously be well supported by the Melbourne community. I truly wish them great success, and having Ajahn Brahm’s leadership is no doubt significant to its certain success.

I sometimes think that a startup US Bhikkhuni/Bhikkhu monastic training Wat, with its core focus on the EBTs and Vinaya, might do well to launch from a pre-exisiting campus, such as City of 10,000 Buddhas (near Abhayagiri) , or New York’s Chuang Yen ( Bhikkhu Bodhi’s residence) . This would obviate the need for a massive land purchase and assumption of huge debt and difficult monthly operating budgets. An alliance like this might be one way to launch a novel training center for EBT trained Forest Bhikkhunis and Bhikkhus, living and training together, but in an already established coed campus. The scholars at 10,000 Buddhas or Chuang Yen might enjoy and benefit from having monks and nuns in the " Ajahn Brahm/Sujato/Brahmali Forest EBT lineage" learning and teaching there.

This concept would be an interesting project to explore. I don’t mean to limit the focus to the US. but I have a personal bias in seeing an “Ajahn Brahm Wat” in the US one day. Thanks, @Aminah for the proper suggestion of multiple “white papers” on this subject.


Currently attending an IT conference where this morning’s session was “Women in Technology”. Unfortunately women are drastically underrepresented in IT. Many women don’t feel like a ‘good fit’ in IT industries. One reason seems to be that men are often not aware of underlying “sexist values” in the work environmement. Making these ‘covert’ values ‘overt’ through strategies such as honest discussion can help address this and hopefully create a more inclusive environment.

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human society is not profoundly different from the animal world, for all the civilization and cultural superstructure of the former both environments are competitive, where success is determined by competitive skills, and just as in the animal world competition is the purview of male individuals, women in general are not built for nor interested in competition of the sort present in certain professional areas, that’s why i think they don’t feel comfortable in competitive environments and therefore tend to avoid them

integration of women into environments where they are underrepresented for natural reasons just outlined, sets out some requirements for them as well, not only the male dominated fields need to have less sexism, female population too needs to step up its competitiveness and display greater ambition

i don’t think males are the only reason for disproportional representation of women in certain areas of expertise and sectors of employment

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Well, actually I more had several monasteries rather than several white papers in mind, but if more white papers will lead to a reduction of suffering, I’m all for it. :wink:

I’d actually like to see the opposite happening - that the back-stabbing bullshitting dog-eats-dog playing field men have created is leveled enough so that co-operation and kindness, not competition and cruelty, can shine forth and show a more sustainable way of doing things for workers, customers and even shareholders, not to mention the environment and society in general.

Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I do think the internet and changes in education are starting to make such a thing possible. Let’s just hope we make it before there are mobs of people with pitchforks breaking into gated communities and the planet is completely wrecked…


competition is not cruelty, back-stabbing and conspiring, as they say in Russian “let’s separate flies from the patties”, competition advances progress in nature, to whos laws humans are still a subject

gender roles are allocated for a reason, messing with them is akin to messing with genetics because social experimentation could be as dangerous, destructive and detrimental as biological and signs of that i think we may observe in Europe right now

I agree that theoretically there is such a thing as friendly competition, but as the stakes get higher things seem to inevitably end up like in the Buddha’s simile of the piece of meat with crows attacking each-other for a piece of meat.

Is there really such a thing as progress in nature? To me there only seems to be a continual process of rise and fall centered around a point of equilibrium. I think progress is a man-made concept that is really out of sync with nature.