More on Bhikkhunī Ordination by Bhikkhus only

Here I wish to briefly add to the earlier discussion on the validity of bhikkhunī ordination by bhikkhus only.

One of the main bones of contention between Venerable Analāyo (VA) and Ajahn Ṭhānissaro (AT) is whether the Vinaya narrative, also known as the origin stories, can be used in the interpretation of the rules. VA has relied on the narrative to make sense of the Khandhaka rules on the ordination of bhikkhunīs, whereas AT has argued quite forcefully that this is inappropriate. To try to find a resolution to this, I have recently written a short paper on this issue as part of a longer paper co-authored with VA. The conclusion of the paper is that not only is it permissible to use the origin stories to interpret the Khandhaka rules, it is absolutely necessary. The rules can in fact not be understood without the narrative framework.

The actual paper can be read here: VinayaComy, final, as published.pdf (177.1 KB).


Has Ajahn Thanissaro responded to this yet?

Can black people only be ordained by other black people? Can yellow people only be ordained by yellow people? Only if my presupposition is racism, that there are inherent differences between people of different skin colors, could such reasoning possibly make sense. If, however, I am not a racist, then black people, yellow people, white people or whatever color of skin they might have are all humans and can be ordained by other humans. The sangha would have to look at each candidate individually and decide whether or not the person in question has the necessary qualifications for ordination. Skin color is irrelevant.

The same reasoning applies to sexism. Women are humans and can be ordained by other humans.

Indeed, if eight legged intelligent creatures from the planet Zog were to land on earth and they had roughly the same mental qualities as homo sapiens, bhikkhus could appropriately call them humans too and allow them to be ordained, should they want to.


Not that I am aware of.


Is this a fair understanding of the situation?:

The bhikkhu and bhikkhuní sanghas are different establishments and as such, ordination rubrics for bhikkhuní specify a “nun” (presumably of high rank?) performs ordination.

The conservative position on this is hardline observation of this rubric: the lineage is no more, it’s sad, but deal with it, basically.

In Christianity, this kind of clinging to rules and ordinances beyond reason is called “rubricism”, and I can’t help think the word applies here. Am I misunderstanding anything?