Please Stop!

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.

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:


  • 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)
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.”

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”
“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!


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.