Your story is heart breaking…thank you for courage to share it. I’ve had no idea how difficult is for ordained women have same practice privileges as ordained men. It feels infuriating considering women are the ones who cook clean and make it possible for monks to practice. I bet if women will stop bringing food to monasteries for one week monks attitudes toward nuns will change drastically and quickly.
Your determination and commitment to practice is so deep and impressive monks should feel privileged to be in your presence. Whatever you will decide continue with your practice or not I would like you to know that your honesty made deep impact on me.
I wonder how can I help? I am not rich but I can make small donations. What do you think is best way to help you and other nuns?
With metta, Alona.
I am coming late to this, but am very happy to offer a heartfelt “Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!” to you, Ayya, for this wonderful essay and its plea for respect and kindness.
It could not be said better.
Been a while since I said something here, and i’m going to continue that noble silence, and just share a dhamma talk from one of my favorite teachers (listning to it right now), and i don’t even care to mention what kind of being this is, because wisdom has no distinctions to me
So the op is “Please Stop”, and I just add silently in my mind: I love to give you something, but what would help?
Started this little gem right now, and Venerable Sundara really can put a big silly smile on my face, so maybe there are some good stand up comedians out in the real world, but I do prefer our sit down comedians a lot more
I agree with you here.
For a few years, that was what I did and I enjoyed myself immensely as I had the freedom to keep precepts while listening to my teachers’ dhamma teachings on the ‘Laptop Temple’.
I empathise with @Vimala regarding having no teachers to live with. I didn’t get ordained because I was living in Thailand and my teacher was in Perth, and most important of all, my teacher was a Bhikkhu, so I couldn’t live with him.
So, yes, my solution was to do what @Gabriel suggested. I’m not saying that this is the best solution, but it is for me.
My post here is not to negate all the difficulties nuns face that are raised here. My post is a simple response to @Gabriel, based on my personal experience and decision.
Anumodana to you all brave women who are trying to practice the dhamma!
Evaṃ kho, ānanda, bhikkhu attadīpo viharati attasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo, dhammadīpo dhammasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo
Therefore, Ānanda, live with yourself as an island, yourself as a refuge, with no other refuge, with the Teaching as an island, the Teaching as a refuge, with no other refuge.
And this means to me that one doesn’t have to remove anybody or have special conditions to reach this goal. It makes no difference what gender and so on, it depends on one’s own attitude and diligence.
Yes, of course.
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.
@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 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 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
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.
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.
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 …
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.
I love especially her sweet self made meditation, pictured with this image
In many instances, I think open-hearted listening is what can be most helpful.
I think so to, and are very happy we both think in the same stream
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).
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.
“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…”
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.
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.
“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…
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.