Please Stop!

Yes, of course.
And.
There is paramattha and there is puññati.
You can’t live in absolute reality.
It doesn’t pay rent, or the doctor, or supply the body with nutriment.
And with a very few exceptions, situations for female monastics do not allow much if any support for these and whatever else one needs to keep it together.
Which as I understood it, was the point of Ayya’s OP.

It is complicated.
And a patchwork of many colors.
We can argue until we die about who is the ‘real renunciate,’ and it’s a pathetic discussion.

But the support? Practical, worldly support, rather than metta wishes and sadhus: that is what is needed.

For ALL of us. In fact, it is those who have chosen not to take up the bhikkhuni form (for whatever reason, and there are some good ones) who are often least supported, in spite of in some cases having taken up monastic life and the practice decades before.

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@Vimala, sounds tough! I extend my sympathies!

I don’t mean this in a condescending way, but rather in an inspiring way given the situation: maybe a solution is to find an inspiring nun!

One of my friends made a bhikkhuni nunnery in Thailand. The nuns there must be feel so lucky :slight_smile: And another made a nunnery for nuns of the border reagions, in India.

These are both very inspiring people, and I expect that the nuns there in both places will do far better than monks at any average monastery!

Even getting together as a group (if there are many nuns living by themselves around) without a particularly advanced teacher, could be great. To inspire each other. To invite good teachers to come to teach, whether they be male or female. To live an inspiring lifestyle, supporting each other in that.

I know finance is a huge issue, and as you said, hard to get funds for nuns! Maybe one solution could even be based on a more Christian model - making a business together to earn a living. I have always liked that idea. For example, thogh it might be against the vinaya, I admired monasteries in China which grew tea, and/or vegetables. And I heard of Christian nuns in the US making a cannabis company. They seemed really happy :slight_smile: And the Desert Fathers way back, didn;t they make baskets and sell them at market to support their hermit lifestyles? I even have some beer in my cupboard made by Trappist monks :slight_smile:

I would seem very sad for half of the population to feel lost because of not having access to teachings from the other half. I would expect that women could make a far better system, and better teachers, than men!

I hope this doesn’t come across badly. Just trying to see a positive way forward.

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Reluctantly, I agree- it becomes an obsession, a defilement- better to focus on more peaceful past-times. Though at the same time one must work towards improving, educating and working on incorrect and outdated outlooks of others. Misogyny will probably be around for another 500 years and we have only one lifetime to live as a monk or nun. I think everything else should be secondary. Nobody will ever thank you for giving advice to let go of the prized fight, unfortunately.

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One is a free temporary collection of aggregates in the same sort of decaying sacks of flesh as is every one else. Effort has effect. The Four Noble Truths and their proclamation had, have, will have effect. May all beings be happy, and ultimately liberated.

Realizing that i always have been talking mostly to myself, I’ve looked for something that could be of real help and this touching and deep teaching by a sister was to me very helpful , and one can hope that others find some value in it … :slight_smile:

THE BOOK THAT YOU are now going to read is the story of the Dhamma practice of a female
Buddhist from Norway. She started to practise after having experienced extreme suffering in
her life. She did not give up, but fought with patience, energy and endurance. With firm
resolution she investigated thoroughly, using the full force of vigilance in order to find the
cause of this suffering, until the heart finally found the Buddha Truth in all phenomena. This
resulted in freedom from the power of Suffering. It gave her energy to endure, to live at ease
and be free from danger in the midst of “the Stream of the World”, which is full of suffering.
This happened before she had learned of the Buddhist Religion.

issues_through _the_moss-mali_bagoie-version_1.0.pdf (520.9 KB)

I love especially her sweet self made meditation, pictured with this image

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In many instances, I think open-hearted listening is what can be most helpful.

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I think so to, and are very happy we both think in the same stream

:slight_smile:

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The above advice isn’t just an ideal to live up to, I would call it “required survival advice for monastics.” You will live or die as a monastic through your own choices in how carefully you guard your “gum lung jai” (bright heart energy). That’s where you get the thick skin to withstand all sorts of emotional difficulties. Blaming others will pretty much get you nowhere fast, no matter how well-deserved and accurate that blame might be.

It’s been my own experience from the get-go (as a monk) that if one cannot find peace and happiness from one’s own practice on a regular basis, wether a male monastic or a female monastic, you’re pretty much toast as a monastic. By and large, that’s where the emotional happy juices come from, not other people behaving in emotionally supportive ways. The monastic life is very carefully designed to deny you getting emotional happy juices from pretty much any other place. Contemplate that.

My teacher was virtually never interested in cheering me up, or asking how I was doing. In fact he would pretty much entirely do the opposite: either leave me alone (when I was doing well), or indirectly rebuke me harshly for letting my heart get too run down (from having chased after any worldly thing too much). That’s what the training pretty much entirely consisted of. You had to be emotionally as tough as nails to survive.

While it is true that female monastics have it tougher than male monastics, please don’t be so quick to conclude that male monastics have it easy. Becoming a monk was the hardest thing I have ever done, by far, so please don’t make out like it’s a cake walk for monks (at least not the Westerner monks).

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What about the freedom, to meditate to your hearts content? One monk told me they get to see the good side of most people they meet and that can be inspiring to them to be a better person.

:open_mouth:

“Bless me father, for I have sinned, it has been nearly 50 years since my last confession so we are going to be here for some time…” :yum:

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@Vimala :anjal:

When the fight is harder victory is sweeter !

:anjal::anjal::anjal:

For some one not versed in the dhamma suffering is a curse. But for one well versed in the dhamma it can be made in to a blessing. It is the whip that drives one towards nibbana.
:anjal:

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Just to contrast your teacher to this one.

First the introduction of the student: (from SN 22.84 at suttacentral)

At Savatthi. Now on that occasion the Venerable Tissa, the Blessed One’s paternal cousin, informed a number of bhikkhus: “Friends, my body seems as if it has been drugged, I have become disoriented, the teachings are no longer clear to me. Sloth and torpor persist obsessing my mind. I am leading the holy life dissatisfied, and I have doubt about the teachings.

The teacher let him come to him to look at it and then to give him some advice.
Closing with

“Rejoice, Tissa! Rejoice, Tissa! I am here to exhort, I am here to assist, I am here to instruct!”

This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, the Venerable Tissa delighted in the Blessed One’s statement.

My comment: there is something with “compassion” what seemingly some teachers do not sign up to very well…

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This is an important teaching for contemplating monastic life. Now, I did find an element of collegiality when I lived for a brief period in robes in a wat, though my abbot was strict and I felt that the further I advanced with my training the harder he was on me. It reminded me of days when I was a competitive wrestler, and my coach, who was somewhat famous in our region, barely acknowledged me, criticized me daily, and there was rarely a word of praise. This kind of training drove me to want to push myself, as a young man, to at least succeed to the point where I could prove myself even worthy of his attention. Such is the psychology of these kinds of “sports,” be they athletics or other trainings, including monastic training in some wats.

My sense from Bodhinyana, having never visited but studying it from afar, is that there is a strong element of strict discipline and training there, along with a number of monastics with high levels of EQ, that provide a measure of encouragement and support. Certainly young monastics need both the the strict training and the EQ support from their teachers, I feel. Training new monastics for the future there will need to be some adjustments; the days of “crunchy frog” soup, unbearable heat and mosquitoes, and harsh training may not be the best program for the training of new monastics this century. Such is the high respect that I have for those that survived the training at Wat N and WPP…

It seems to me that some of the best monastics are well trained intellectuals that have this degree of individualism, and a willingness to set their own individualized courses in terms of their practice and they way that they teach. They do well in groups, have high levels of IQ and EQ, yet at the same time, thrive and are highly productive when in solitary circumstances. In the end, this kind of strength of character does breed very positive qualities in monastics, both as practitioners and as teachers, it seems to me.

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Oh, certainly, going forth is a feat for anyone, and gender or any amount of discussions we want to have on how gender impacts that feat, it does not change the fact that it is still a feat regardless of gender considerations.

What experiences did you have that made you feel othered, as a “Western” monk? In my experience, this is not something that people like to talk about, for various reasons, but what factors made it difficult for you specifically as a Westerner making the decision to go forth and ordain, and also as a Westerning actually going through that very process.

If you do not mind me asking, that is. I would also like to tag Venerables @sujato & @Dhammanando as well, as they are also Westerners who have gone forth, if they have a desire to also respond to this.

If it please you (all).

If anyone take those Pali Nikayas literally true, they risk becoming a Pali Fundamentalist. The late Ajahn Buddhadasa Bikkhu rebutted the notion of compulsory monastic arahant. We should not make unqualify comment about arahantship. In the Chinese Chan tradition, the 6th Patriach Huineng achieved enlightenment before full ordination. He was in fugitive, when he arrived in Guangdong, his insight was fully recognised by the Sanghas of Bikkhu and Bikkhunis, he was fully ordained and that’s it, the beginning of Buddhist renaissance in China. The Chan Zen practitioners historically had the greatest numbers of arahant.
It is sad to learn that our Theravada counterpart are still adhere to myth like a Fundamentalist. If so, this is harmful to the tradition, women cannot
Obtained full ordination and hence not a single chance to achieve full nibbana.
The core issue about arahantship should be the capacity to be free from list and sexual desires like Bikkhu Bakula in the Majhima Nikaya, Madhya a Agamas. The freedom from sexual desires should not be judged by ritual of ordination or robes.

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Seems like it women had to “fight for their robes” today just as they had to back in the day during the lifetime of the Buddha:

Then Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī had her hair cut off and dressed in ocher robes. Together with several Sakyan ladies she set out for Vesālī.
Traveling stage by stage, she arrived at Vesālī and went to the Great Wood, the hall with the peaked roof.
Then Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī stood crying outside the gate, her feet swollen, her limbs covered with dust, miserable and sad, with tearful face.
SuttaCentral

I am sorry that you all are going through the problems that you all are as nuns.
I hope that I am able to help as suitably as I can over time, even if not right away.
Meanwhile, I hope to learn what I can about this problem.

  • I agree: anger, resentment, and faultfinding seem quite harmful.
  • Not sure if Vinaya is to be blamed for it though…Vinaya doesn’t “cause” anger!
  • Beings who get upset on the account of Vinaya seem blame-worthy.
  • But even this can be a tricky issue - would one blame the monastics who uphold the Vinaya for “being/seeming angry” and praise the ones who compromise it in order to “avoid blaming and fault-finding”?
  • Does the Vinaya itself have rules against illegitimate blame and fault-finding?
    Aren’t the monastics supposed to invite criticism every new- and full-moon day?
    There are just some of the questions that come to mind.
  • This seems to be bordering on quite a dangerous sentiment in some sense, at least from my perspective. Perhaps, I am misunderstanding what you mean.
  • It seems to be a kind of slippery slope that that I think the Buddha warned about and a sentiment I seem to hear in some sects of Buddhism who treat the Vinaya as “just a bunch of rules.”
  • It seems to show a lack of regard for the very rules the Buddha himself likely laid down (to some degree since there are discrepancies between Vinayas) for the welfare and happiness of all his monastics, female and male.
  • As a layperson, it further decreases the confidence that I would have in a monastic who doesn’t seem to respect or tries to downplay the value of the Vinaya.
  • Similarly, as a layperson with limited resources to give, I would definitely likely prioritize those who are able to uphold the full Vinaya than 8 or 10 precepts - I don’t think this can be called discrimination in the sense of unfairness - it seems more unfair to treat individuals who are only taking 8 and 10 precepts as equals to those taking up all the Vinaya rules.
    Equality is not necessarily fair. Discrimination is not the same as discernment.
    Furthermore, I would likely wish to prioritize those who try to uphold the entire Vinaya over those who break many of the Vinaya rules often because they just think the Vinaya is “just a guideline” that can be broken as one sees fit or breaking it can still lead one to Nibbana anyway.
    This is just one individual current layperson’s perspective on this issue,
    which I just found parts of it echoed to some degree another user’s comment:

:raised_hands:t3:

  • In at least one sutta, the Buddha connected the training in the Patimokkha with the ability to get the requisites - so in this sense, the Vinaya could be seen as one of many possible solutions to the problem of acquiring requisites.
    I’m forgetting which suttas this connection can be found in, but it basically went something like if one wishes to secure the 4 requisites, one should train in the patimokkha.

  • To avoid blaming the Vinaya per se for anything (aside from the false additions to and distortions of it), especially since the Dhamma-Vinaya was formulated by the Buddha himself for the happiness of humans and gods, I thought this discourse can help troubleshoot the problem more directly and identify possible longer-term solutions, both in this lifetime and in future lifetimes. It also seems to show the way for the following two wishes as well:

Now on that occasion Princess Sumana — with an entourage of 500 ladies-in-waiting riding on 500 carriages — went to where the Buddha was staying. On arrival, having bowed down, she sat to one side. As she was sitting there, she said to the Blessed One, “Suppose there were two disciples of the Blessed One, equal in conviction, virtue, and discernment, but one was a giver of alms and the other was not. At the break-up of the body, after death, they would reappear in a good destination, in the heavenly world. Having become devas, would there be any distinction, any difference between the two?”

“Yes, there would,” said the Blessed One. “The one who was a giver of alms, on becoming a deva, would surpass the other in five areas: in divine life span, divine beauty, divine pleasure, divine status, and divine power…”

“And if they were to fall from there and reappear in this world: Having become human beings, would there be any distinction, any difference between the two?”

“Yes, there would,” said the Blessed One. “The one who was a giver of alms, on becoming a human being, would surpass the other in five areas: in human life span, human beauty, human pleasure, human status, and human power…”

"And if they were to go forth from home into the homeless life of a monk: Having gone forth, would there be any distinction, any difference between the two?"

"Yes, there would," said the Blessed One. "The one who was a giver of alms, on going forth, would surpass the other in five areas: He would often be asked to make use of robes; it would be rare that he wouldn’t be asked. He would often be asked to take food… to make use of shelter… to make use of medicine; it would be rare that he wouldn’t be asked. His companions in the holy life would often treat him with pleasing actions… pleasing words… pleasing thoughts… and present him with pleasing gifts, and rarely with unpleasing…"

“And if both were to attain arahantship, would there be any distinction, any difference between their attainments of arahantship?”

“In that case, I tell you that there would be no difference between the two as to their release.”

“It’s awesome, lord, and astounding. Just this is reason enough to give alms, to make merit, in that it benefits one as a deva, as a human being, and as a monk.”
— AN 5.31

My guess is that this discourse applies to all beings regardless of gender.

Sometimes, I get concerned that liberal political philosophy, perhaps subconsciously, becomes a default explanation for problems regarding disparity between the genders - even in Buddhist forums. I say this as someone who stubbornly thought this way prior to learning more about Dhamma-Vinaya.

The reasoning could go something like:
males and females as a whole are facing disparity in accessing material resources. (fact)
Thus, males must be oppressing females. (conclusion)
Or
Thus, patriarchal society is oppressing females. (conclusion)

Despite how compelling this explanation and leaving aside the question of whether it is right or not: it is still fundamentally a view. It must be carefully considered and examined alongside all other views and perhaps tested against the Dhamma-Vinaya.

Liberal political views can be contrary to or in accordance with what the Buddha taught.
Liberal political views seem shape actions, which in turns leads to certain results.

This is not to say sexism, discrimination, and unfairness against females doesn’t exist.
It most certainly does. Sexism against females certainly exists.
According to Buddhism, these are harmful mental qualities.
Sexism against females can exist in the minds of both males and females.
Thus, it seems - ironically - sexist to implicitly or explicitly blame the “male gender” as opposed to each and every female and male being to the degree sexism exist in their minds!
Furthermore, it is a form of unfairness (lack of upekkha) for which the sexist individuals, both females and males, seems to reap what they would sow in due time.
Being “biased in favor of females” seems to the flip side of the same coin of being “biased against females.”

Unfairness/Biases:
Bias against females.
Bias against males.
Bias for females.
Bias for males.

All 4 of these seem to be traps to be avoided, whether for a female or male being.

Fighting bias with bias just doesn’t seem to work.

But liberal political views seem like they can seduce us into losing sight and focus on the law of actions and results.

Instead, it seems to me:
“a female being who is a non-giver of alms”
and
“a female being who is a giver of alms”
will certainly experience differential results in terms of accessing material supports.

Even if the vast amounts of funding was pumped into the Sangha, which is something that I think seemed like it was done during the time of the Buddha and was one of the conditions that prompted him to establish the Vinaya rules in the first place, the “the female being who was a non-giver of alms” will somehow struggle to obtain requisites even then, whereas the “the female being who was a giver of alms” would somehow manage to access them.

This seems to be how the laws of the universe operate and none of us can bend it for ourselves or anyone, female or male. Test it by trying to bend it if you wish lol.

The best that it seems like we can do is to do what the Buddha did:
he taught the Dhamma-Vinaya to help address and solve such problems.

According to the Dhamma-Vinaya, it seems ultimately up each of us as individuals to learn and try to act not contrary to and in accordance with it as we ourselves will reap what we sow regardless of what “society” thinks or does.

I agree.
Neither are inherently better than the other.
Both seem like forms of unfairness.

  • For example, in the discourse above related to generosity and others that explain the way to obtain material necessities as a monastic (i.e. the Dhamma that the Buddha advised Ananda to rely exclusively on) - are these not practical, realistic, etc.?
  • I am confused because what you say seems to portray the Buddha’s admonition to Ananda as impractical, unrealistic, not conducive to surviving materially in this world.
  • It seems concerning to me that the Buddha’s admonition would be portrayed as insufficient - that it wouldn’t address the problem of obtaining material supports.
  • It seems to relegate being an island unto oneself with no other island aside from the Dhamma-Vinaya to a fantasy world in which “material concerns” are largely ignored.
  • I’m not sure if I am misunderstanding the intended meaning of what you said.
    Some clarification would be helpful!
  • It seems to me that acting in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya ensures that both material and spiritual needs would both be met gradually in the long-run, even if not right away!

I agree.
But the question still remains: how?
It must be done in a suitable way for the solution to be sustainable long-term.
If the answer was that easy and obvious, this problem would probably have been solved by now!

What a wonderful, sharp, and astute assessment of the problem!

Do you have any resources that one can consult to get a more comprehensive, objective, and accurate understanding of this complex problem?

I would like to learn about this problem in more depth.
So resource recommendations would be much appreciated!

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Uncannily, it just so happens that prior to coming across this post, I recently created another thread related to the issue materially supporting monastics.

When I created that that thread, I honestly had no idea just how serious the problem was for female monastics. I was simply thinking about suitably trying to meet the needs of the Sangha as a whole.

Thus, I would very much appreciate if the problem of materially supporting 8-precept nuns, 10-precept nuns, and bhikkhunis can be raised and clearly explained in detail there as well, especially in the larger context of supporting the Sangha as a whole!

I am closing this thread. It is an essay and has generated much discussion. If it generates new points for further discussion, it would be best to start a new specific topic, in the appropriate category, with a link back to the essay.

Metta

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