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Please Stop!


#21

There is the Alliance for Bhikkhunis. They are doing great work, and Brenna could probably say more about them.
But that system doesn’t reach many nuns in need.

For one it seems easier to access their support if you have a specific one-off project to accomplish, such as a large building construction, etc., rather than ongoing simple needs.

Another important point is that it is not enough to focus on bhikkhunis only. A very large number of nuns, because of lack of support and lack of opportunity to ordain, chooses to remain on 8 or 10 precepts. It does not feel honest to many of them to take higher precepts if you know that you don’t have the support to keep your precepts purely. So these “long-term samaneris / sayalays / mae chis etc” also need support, but are completely left out by an organization like the alliance for bhikkhunis.
For nuns there is such a diversity of ordinations and forms of practise that just focussing on one group such as bhikkhunis will bar the majority from accessing that support network.


#22

Having given such a clear, succinct analysis of the various difficulties (for which I offer thanks), it would be nice to hear what, from your perspective, might be effective ways to approach them.


#23
  1. Consider supporting nuns. Even if you are not rich, every little bit helps! :wink:
    (Many of them may not live in established monasteries, so they may not be easy to find and you may need some detective work. If they live in a monks’ monastery, consider offering specifically dedicated to them, because they can’t access general sangha resources of the monks.)

  2. Don’t discriminate against “lower” forms of ordination. The type of ordination says nothing about the sincerity of the practitioner.

  3. Actively challenge structures that discriminate against nuns. Laypeople have so much more influence on monks than nuns. After all, monks only survive dependent on laypeople as well! :wink: It is well-known that for example a certain famous monk :wink: started supporting bhikkhuni ordination because laywomen kept nagging him (among other factors…). Keep nagging for more equality!

  4. If there is a possibility for a more low-key support network to cover basic needs instead of large-scale projects, that might be worthwhile to think about. Ongoing support for health care for example would be a big help for many.

That’s what comes to my mind now. I guess other people have more ideas too.


#24

I’d also be curious about the possibilities/resources for 8 or 10 precept nuns/mae chees to live in monasteries and receive instruction from monks?


#25

Thanks!

It would strike me that points 1 (more specifically its detective aspect) and 4 might be married together quite well. And further that nuns (as well as monks) may also have an important roll to play in that. Perhaps I’m just speaking from my own position of disconnection from, well… most things, and just muddling on in my own quiet, independent way, but it seems that you have been in a position to highlight (as a result of direct contact) the cases of individuals who most participants in this thread (which I wildly assume is a reasonable reflection of folk more broadly) wouldn’t necessarily have much of a clue of.


#26

That’s possible in some monasteries that also accomodate lay visitors. But usually the nuns live in the laypeople’s accomodation and don’t have access to the resources of the monks.


#27

Thank you so much everybody for your kindness and compassion. And thank you Ayya Kathrin @vimalanyani for answering some of the questions.

I’m afraid I have a bad migraine at the moment so I apologise for not being here right now. I will try to make up for it when I feel better.


#28

Thank you for this. :pray:


#29

I am with you in this wholeheartedly. It seems that issues at hand are complicated and doing anything in a very substantial way addressing all issues at once will be a formidable task. Why don’t we do something to address Ayya Vimala’s constraints for a start and as we proceed it can be gradually expanded to cover others.?.
Just my thoughts please.
With Metta


#30

I hope this is something temporary and you get well soon.
I suffered from a severe migraine for about ten years and suddenly it disappeared.
My suspicion is that it caused by two reasons.

  • bacterial infection (inflammation)
  • stress due to heavy workload.

Hope this may be some help for you.


#31

This is so helpful - thank-you very much.

I had a look at the Alliance for Bikkhunis, and it seems a great organisation, with an excellent mission statement.

When trying to address such a vast array of needs, and on a global scale, it is difficult to select the activities to focus on. There is no sense replicating what the AFB is doing, but it strikes me that there is a gap for ongoing requisites including housing. I feel it is a tragedy to see nuns disrobing only because they cannot find the resources to live. In ‘wordly’ terms, these individuals represent a huge investment squandered. The effort, wisdom and diligence to get to that stage is allowed to disappear.

I think this is a do-able sized undertaking that would be of great benefit to all beings in search of liberation.

In practical terms it would require a group of lay practitioners to come together to set up a small NFP - just like AFB. Charity status is great (but a lot more complicated) as it enables tax deduction on donations (very attractive for company/corporate donors). There are many online vehicles for fundraising. It would also allow groups of interested lay followers to undertake specific fundraising events… Just requires organisation…

An additional idea that is emerging for me, is that by having such an established entity, established temples with large followings etc could be approached and asked to support this. It would accomplish 2 things. 1) Educate the 4-fold Sangha about Bikkhunis, and inform them of the current issues. and 2) Allow them to express their compassion and earn merit by making a specific (or ongoing) donation to the group.

Then there would need to be a mechanism whereby nuns, not attached to formal supports, can be identified.

I suppose I’m envisioning a support service whose mission is to provide small scale requisite supports. The AFB is already focusing on the larger needs, but it seems that the things needed for living; food, shelter and medical supplies (requisites) are an essential, that is not being addressed in any systematic way.

I am ignorant of most of the issues, and have very limited understanding of the vinaya as it would impact on this - but still, that can be overcome and a system could be devised around it.

It would be a lot of work, but perhaps 6-8 people could be found. Great trees grow from small seeds…

Proliferation of thoughts from me for your consideration :smile:


#32

The very first task would be to try and get an idea of the numbers of nuns affected and their locations. From this a targetted response can be developed.


#33

A priciple I have found useful in my life is

Do not take authority without first taking responsibility.

A collorary: do not accept authority when responsibility is not first accepted.

I am a lay woman, and I do not know what suttas or vinaya may say on this concept, developed experientially in my life. But it seems to me consistent with Right {lots of things}. (Thoughtful comments welcome).

From one perspective, it seems that not discriminating about lower or higher ordination may not be possible. For resources dedicated by lay for bhikkhunis to be diverted to support of other forms of ordination, for women or men… might be unethical and even criminal (in the US it would be at least technically illegal.)

There is discrimination, and discrimination.

Meanwhile “no you cannot do it your way, you must do it my way or starve” seems to be not an exaggeration summary of some situations.

May all beings liberate. Also wish I were rich, though I have been content otherwise living without income. (Yes, odd for lay; complicated; not relevant beyond this atm.)


#34

It’s a little bit beside the point, but if I imagined to ordain I certainly wouldn’t want to get into a systemic struggle, fighting not just the battles of the mind but also the structures of my own spiritual institution!

I still believe that for some people (not meaning the present sisters) to be a simple reclusive householder with a minimum income and otherwise devoted to practice is more practical than ordaining. Even I as a man watch with some horror the authority structures in Buddhism, the years long dependence, the difficulties in monastic communities etc., and even if I wanted to go forth I would do it internally.

At the same time I admire the brave nuns and monks who do take up the challenge and actually want to improve the existing system. I hope it works out.


#35

Hi Ayya,

Thanks for bringing up these points.

You’re definitely right. The AfB only supports Theravada bhikkhunis. This is due on one hand to being a very small non-profit, but on the other to wanting to support women who have received higher ordination. The organization was founded over ten years ago, during a time when bhikkhunis were still relatively new (revival wise) and trying to find their footing. Thus, there was a need to support the bhikkhunis that were beginning to receive higher ordination, and that became the AfB’s mission.

This is not the case. For medical needs, the AfB has a project to provide bhikkhunis with medical care and requisites. We are currently covering the medical expenses of two bhikkhunis.

The main projects are mostly for which AfB acts as an intermediary; i.e. if you donate to Anukampa through us then we send that money to Anukampa. But we also have a general fund which is intended to support the basic needs of bhikkhunis. Often it is used for travel expenses, but it has been used for many things in the past, and we try to accommodate whatever is needed at the time.

So please, Ayyas, if you need anything please ask us! That is why we are here! :blush:

I agree with Ayya that the need to support 8- and 10-precept nuns is great and I would like to do something to support them. If anyone is interested in helping to create an organization as Mara has suggested, we should chat, I would love to get involved! :pray:


#36

Hello everyone,

So, should we have a page / thread of all the places where we lay people of the Internet can support Bhikkuni’s all over the world?

I know about 2 (great :smiley: ) places that accept web donations already, but more would be good too I think!

Edit: Adding the AfB directory here as you can donate to the AfB and find monasteries to donate directly (including the 2 I listed above), based on your own preferences or aspirations!.

:anjal:


#37

Thanks for setting that out Brenna. :slight_smile:

Is there anything in AfB’s objects, or constitution, or whatever that explicitly prohibits it from supporting nuns who have not yet taken higher ordination? It might be argued (not that I necessarily do or do not) that supporting 8 / 10 precept nuns is, indeed, to support the proper restoration of the bhikkhuni community and see it florish.

Sounds like splendid idea. I recently had the peculiar fortune of coming by a wage and, in turn, attempt to make humble, little donations here and there. In one instance, I spent some time trying to figure out how to donate directly to a couple of nuns projects (one in Thailand, the other in Sri Lanka), but hit a deadend and ultimately gave up.


#38

Well, part of our mission statement says, “[to] work diligently toward the establishment of a thriving Theravada bhikkhuni sangha in the U.S. and abroad.” So, we generally only support bhikkhunis. We will, however, support samaneris who are seeking higher ordination. For instance, we sometimes pay travel expenses so that a novice can attend her higher ordination.

True, but not all 8/10 precept nuns are seeking bhikkhuni ordination. I think it is also, unfortunately, a matter of breadth. We don’t have the money and resources to support 8/10 precept nuns - it is difficult enough to fulfill our mission to the bhikkhuni sangha. :slightly_frowning_face: I think, ideally, the goal would be to support all nuns everywhere, but at least right now, that’s not feasible.


#39

Yep, quite so!

Likewise, entirely true. Just as a moment of abstract (rather than practical) thought, it could well be considered in broader community terms rather than at the level of individual practitioners; basically if you have more people heading in that direction, the chances of inspiring and giving confidence to yet others who may go on to full ordination are raised. But as I say, it’s neither here nor there in immediate, practical terms.

Well, yes, of course, limits are limits. Still, there is support and support :grin:. I’m sure the AfB still has a lot to offer to all nuns (and in turn everyone else) in terms of, knowledge, connections and so on. I guess an aliance of aliances should be forged. :wink:


#40

I should think that having some time to discuss your practice with an elder bhikku or bhikkhuni in your tradition (or other tradition for that matter), every 2-4 weekly, like we do with our trainee junior doctors, would be rather helpful. I recall Ven Anurudha would be silent for a week and then meet to discuss the dhamma one a week. This link would serve as a sort of ‘lifeline’ and possibly mentoring. It can be very isolating and this is not very helpful generally. Someone said even the Buddha did not isolate himself in the junlge for more than two weeks at stretch. If there is clinical depression, contact with people should be more often and busier the better! Therapy is very much along the lines of Dhamma so they are evidence based to reduce depression too, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which sometimes even uses mindfulness. Even the Buddha went to the doctor, so medication can also be very beneficial- sometimes when our defilements overpower us getting a helping hand is appropriate! Sometimes mental health issues can manifest as behavioral issues- they may need therapy or at the very least good boundaries and moral guidance too. I think the general environment is conducive to these things fading with time as well.

I think maybe directory of nuns might be in order- to link into the AfB’s resources. AfB should look into better organizing themselves to support individual nuns on the ground wherever they are. They are precious and must be protected and given the space and support to flourish! I’m quite certain things will improve for them, as the dispensation grows. I wonder if the monks are equally well supported? We musn’t forget them! Maybe we will learn how best to look after monastics, from all this.

with metta