No need to hurry I can wait!
Anyone who has ever read the Therigatha would get the impression that the rule was observed mainly in the breaking…
The first thing I did after I realised Saddha, was to visit Bodhgaya! What a wonderful place! But there, I saw Theravadin bhikkhunis and I was under the impression that, just like Mahayana, Theravada was fully charged with women renunciates! When I was reading the therigatha I knew nothing about Vinaya, Sanghadisesa 3, and about the troubles of women in getting ordained.
So the scope of this rule is not as clear-cut as one might think. After the vassa, I’m starting a project to translate the Chinese bhiksuni Pratimoksas into English for Suttacentral. Hopefully that will make them more accessible to people.
Wow! That’s a wonderful news! And a great project. Please let us know if we can support in any way! Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!
And how very curious! Very recently I just came across the research and translations of Ann Heirman and I even posted about them.
You know for me I don’t care about the historicity of rules; I just judge whether they make sense or not - I mean even with regard to the text in relation with its own self!! But we might have to toil with research still to convince other people with what is otherwise already self-evident and commonsensical!
A while ago I have done a survey of the Sutta-EBTs collecting all instances where bhikkhunis, nuns, women, or any other kind of “female words” (mothers, sisters, wives, females, devis, goddesses, brahminis, female wanderers …) are mentioned. Quite interesting what came up. There are many independent and empowered women there.
It was only a short period of time for me, between reading about the Four Sublime Truths for the first time, and realising saddha in the Buddha’s enlightenment. During this short time of uncertainty about the Buddha’s enlightenment, I decided that I will look in his speech for faults, or for any such thing that I deem cannot possibly be uttered by a fully enlightened being. And I had two particular criteria: (1) superstition, (2) problematic views or statements about women.
Guess what! Both do exist in the suttas; but luckily they did not appear so immediately, and by the time I found them, I had already been completely owned by all the other beautiful things that the Buddha had said! So when I found them later, my reaction was like: “nooo way! This ain’t Buddha saying this! Get outta here!”
But I was taking notes! So I too noted all those sutta instances I came across, where utterances about women were made! But not as extensively as you did. I remember noting feeling uneasy at various instances in SN 1, then feeling relieved at SN 5 (bhikkhunisamyutta) for example. Later on I also came to realise that the Buddha’s repeated warnings to the monks against women, were for the mere reason that he was talking to male renunciates! Had he been talking to female renunciates, it would have been exactly the other way round! It wasn’t about something inherent in this or that gender! It was about something inherent in leading a renunciate life.
There is a big delusion that we’ve made great progress in the world comparing to ancient times. Materially yeah, surely, but I don’t see the slightest evidence of progress socially or spiritually. Rather the opposite sometimes. And I have absolutely no difficulty believing that women in ancient India and elsewhere in those times, were far more empowered and respected than is the case today! But this is another big issue and we’ve gone completely off topic now!
But you and Ayya @Vimala are heroines! Struggling in not one, but ‘two’ of the most male-dominated fields there are in this fierce world! You are both monastics and geeks!!
If you are interested, I could start a thread to share references for that, too.
Absolutely! We should pool our resources together!
“What does womanhood matter at all
When the mind is concentrated well,
When knowledge flows on steadily
As one sees correctly into Dhamma.
“One to whom it might occur,
‘I’m a woman’ or ‘I’m a man’
Or ‘I’m anything at all’—
Is fit for Mara to address.”
_ Bhikkhuni Soma (SN 5.2).