SuttaCentral

Please Stop!


#1

As a nun you are not only a pioneer, with much less support than the monks, both spiritually and financially and often don’t have a place to stay. Many monks pretend you don’t exist or treat you like some contageous disease because they fear their own defilements. You are cut off from your male friends because you have the wrong gender. Nuns try to find fault with other nuns for not keeping the rules the way they feel they should be kept out of fear of not being accepted themselves. And lay people often have all kinds of preconceived ideas of what a nun should be like, almost like a picture of perfection, always smiling and happy. But the truth of the matter is that we are just people, and yes, I’m depressed at times too. I don’t always smile and am not always happy. Does that make me a bad nun? Or does it make me human?

Sometimes I envy those monks who can live the monastic life with an inspiring teacher and learn the living Dhamma. I never had that. Most other nuns never had that. Our teacher is the internet. We have to find our own way. And yes, it can be very lonely at times. Even if you are lucky enough to be able to stay near an inspiring monk for a few months, you are never accepted into the community, always kept at a distance; there is always this tension because you are seen as a danger to their monastic life. It it is sometimes hard not to buy into that feeling of inferiority, of feeling you are just not good enough.

I admire all those women, whether they have 8 or 10 precepts or are fully ordained, who have to fight every day to keep in the robes, to battle the depressions and the setbacks, who have no place to stay and no support, because they have the sincere wish to follow the Dhamma. It is not up to me to find fault with the way they keep their rules. Many have to use money or cook for themselves; they just don’t have the support. If I would criticize them for that, I would not be following the Buddha’s teachings. Instead, I should look at their conduct. Do they show compassion and help each other? Do they try to overcome their defilements and pardon each other’s faults, acknowledging that we all want to learn, to develop ourselves? The Vinaya are the guidelines for our practice, not the be-all and end-all of all things. If the Vinaya becomes a cause for anger, resentment and faultfinding, we have lost the way.

So can we please stop faultfinding and criticizing each other and try to develop ourselves in the Dhamma and support each other in that? If somebody has the wholesome intention of ordaining, and at least 10-20 monastics come together to confirm this wholesome intention, should we then try to find fault in all the details of the procedure and accuse that person of not being actually ordained? Should we not stop all this faultfinding and help each other? Is that not the Buddha’s intention? Isn’t it difficult enough to live this monastic life?

The Sangha should be a refuge, we should all help each other, regardless of our gender or our background, regardless of our ordination lineage, regardless of how we interpret the Vinaya, or if we are not ordained at all. We should stop finding fault with each other and putting each other down, but ask ourselves how we can support each other. Life is hard enough.


Just another brick in the wall
#2

Ayya @Vimala, thank you very much for sharing that! I think it really captures the experience of so many women in robes!
I can relate very much, and it makes my heart ache because it is so real and so painful at the same time…


#3

Well said.

Yes. We should.

Absolutely in line with what the Buddha taught. kusala and akusala.

It saddens me to hear that nuns are treated this way. It is my wish that the sangha as a whole (ordained and lay) would change this very soon. :heart:


#4

Vimala, are there vinaya rules that can be a resort when someone falsely accuses another of improper ordination?


#5

Thank you Vimala for your very heartfelt and honest post. I think this part here is perhaps the crux of the matter AND one of the most painful pieces, particularly so with ardent practitioners such as yourself.


#6

I am very sad to hear this. In fact my eyes welled with tears when I read it. I am sure this post is only part of the picture. Is there any thing we all as users of this forum can do in whatever way to help?. Please let us all discuss what we can do.
With Metta


#7

Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts, Ayya. They make my heart hurt. :broken_heart:

Yes, please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help or be more considerate in the future. I’m sure I stand with others when I say, we are with you all the way. :pray: :sparkling_heart:


#8

This is not a bad thing.
My teacher also the internet.
Having said that I have the access to many of the the great teacher such as yourself and not to mention the rest.
Do not forget that Dhamm is your teacher.


#9

Don’t you think this is a blessing?
Empty of male friends so one less thing to worry about.


#10

Yes I expect monks to be perfect.
Otherwise what is the difference between a lay person and monk?


#11

Where is the “insensitive clod” button when you need it? :wink:


#12

Ayya Vimala, as always, has a voice well worth listening to.

I look at communities like City of 10,000 Buddhas, or Plum Village, and wonder what the common denominator is that allows these co-ed communities to thrive, to build sangha and to have the support and community conviviality that is sometimes lacking in Theravada communities? I appreciate that the traditions (going back 2600 years) and the Vinayas are different, but it seems to me that some thought be given to what needs to be done to build communities like a Plum Village, represented in other communities around the world.

Ajahn Brahm’s template is a perfect one, but it seems that there may be challenges in developing “franchises” of Bodhinyana even in other regions of Australia, much less around the world.

I’m in Thailand now, watching at a Chiang Mai Tesco last night some Mae Chees in light violet robes happily buying groceries, and at the same time, interacting with a Bhikkhuni issue in Bangkok where there is little to no support, and even a recent challenge of rejection from a wat for a brief stay as the abbot felt that having a Bhikkhuni there would create problems.

I am an optimist, and believe that for the EBT/Theravada/Forest tradition there is a way forward for women, and for the pioneers on this path (Ayya Vimala being one of the best and most insightful examples). The road, as is true for many pioneers, will be one of ups and downs. But this path is so important, and so critical to the sustainability of the EBT Dhamma, that men within, for example, Thai Theravada, need to open their hearts and their treasuries to support Bhikkhunis, and to dispense with these antiquated ideas that ordained women are a threat or imposition to a Thai wat. The Plum Village example proves that a thriving co-ed community can be built with strict standards; perhaps something can be learned from examples like this?


#13

Building a “franchise temple” mentality is a dangerous one. One of my friend said AB (franchise) temples are strictly controlled by the WA head office.
I hope we are not end up creating a Roman Catholic church.
Back to the original post.


#14

Then you will be perpetually disappointed.
Expecting perfection is completely unreasonable and borderline cruel. Laypeople and monastics differ only in the “container” in which their practice is held. We can hope that a monastic, given that their “container” is ideally more suited to progress, will have enough experience to guide others, but this is not guaranteed.


#15

Agree.
This is what happening in Sri Lanka.
People do not have much faith in monks.
Sometimes their behaviour is worse than lay people.
People are reluctant to bow down to them let alone listen to their Dhamma.
What is the use of preaching if you can’t practice it?


#16

Not even the Roman Catholic Church is like this; it might not be noticeable from a distance, but the Catholic Church at this time (last 30 or so years) it not what has been described. It has one or more significants scisms (SSPX; sedevacantists; Christ or Chaos hate group; Society of Jesus Christ the Priest) and defiance from US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The lay membership has been reduced, with liberal Catholics encouraged or forced out, almost as a Purge.

But that sort of reactionary behavior appears in contemporary Buddhism too; perhaps it is just a dynamic in the rise and decline of organizations.

It remains stunning and horrific to me, that bhikkhunis are not welcomed by some monastic or lay; especially when the quality of practice of some monks is blatantly inconsistent with vinaya or even Dhamma. Too many gangsters…

Bhikkhunis and bhikkus working together in ordinations gave and sustain faith for this life. That wordly sangha lags in supporting bhikkhunis is painful. It suggests that to some, women are less than human, for how can a believer stand in the way of practice by any human??


#17

Thanks for this post. I’m really saddened to hear about this state of affairs. Can I ask, how many would be in the position of having nowhere to stay and no requisites?


#18

It’s really very common. To share a few examples of Western nuns:
In the last three months, three of my nun friends disrobed, even though they are very committed Dhamma practitioners, because of not having a place to stay.
Of the roughly 4 years that I have been ordained, I did not have a place to stay for 3 years, and lived in tents, people’s spare bedrooms, etc.
Others who have a place to stay in monks’ monasteries have to live with the laypeople - which in Asia can be very noisy - and have no access to the sangha resources, except for the food. One nun friend of mine has to live on about 100 Euros per year (for clothes, travel, health care, personal care items, etc.).
Another nun friend in the US lives on food stamps.
Many nuns can’t affort health care.
Generally, the situation is especially bad for younger nuns. Older nuns are often retired and therefore have a regular income from a pension fund.


#19

That’s frightening.


#20

Thank-you for making the situation real, and not just theoretical.

Is there any formal network among Theravada Bikkhunis?

From my past experience I realise that there is greater strength in greater unity and organisation. I would be interested in exploring this further with the aim of assisting a more predictable and larger pool of requisites. This could then be distributed on a wider level, rather than leaving individual Bikkhunis to just fend for themselves.

It seems as though getting the required level of support from ‘traditional’ Bikkhu Sanghas hasn’t worked very well (except for some great exceptions :slight_smile: )

In which case there is little option but to try to replicate a support network from scratch?

It is times like this when I wish I was wealthy!! But all I have to give is myself, skills and support.