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.