Wow, what a topic.
What kind of astonishes me, is how modern people – including Buddhists! - are centred on the current state of affairs, prevalent ideas and default thinking patterns. The Blessed One, Supreme Buddha proclaimed his Dhamma for liberation of every living being that can comprehend it. He also started an order of his followers, so His teaching can stay for a while for others to grasp. He established clear rules and principles for this to be as effective and as durable as possible. Let’s revisit the Gotami Sutta and see why exactly He did not want initially to ordain women: because he foresaw that it will shorten the lifespan of the pure Dhamma, and not because of some kind of sexism. On the contrary, several times he emphasized that for a striving person it does not matter whether this person is male, female, brahman, khattiya or anyone else: in the face of Dhamma all are equal.
But in order to preserve the Teachings, He set rules. We don’t suppose that we here are cleverer than Him in this respect, do we? Then why do we have any right to cancel or amend the rules because of our likings or ideas that are prevalent? First of all, there is no sexism whatsoever in the Buddha’s Dhamma, because Dhamma is for everybody. If someone sees it there, I would suggest careful reflection into own mind. Vinaya rules may be a different thing – but! Again, the same question, why are we cleverer than him in terms of what rules to keep, what rules to bend, and what rules to cancel completely? Because it does not fit the modern society, or maybe because it’s against someone’s tanha to “have” things go their way? Well, it has to be noted here that for some reason Buddha appeared among humans in “unequal” and “primitive” India 2500 years ago, not now among our equality movements and other wonders – hence, now it’s worse time for Dhamma than it was then.
My post is not about whether it’s “legal” or not to ordain bhikkunis, my post is about a way of thinking where we are the clever ones, and Buddha and ancient Indians – his followers – are not. We absolutely should not adapt His teachings and rules for the sake of adaptation, because for us it “does not make sense”. If we do that, the only thing we do is bring the end of the Dhamma closer.
I do not understand why this issue with nuns’ ordination has arisen in the first place. Suppose the Theravadin bhikkhuni lineage is broken, and there’s no valid way to ordain. Then why violate the Buddha’s rules and ordain in the Theravada tradition in the first place? If East Asian Mahayana’s claim for the unbroken lineage is true, why just not ordain there? (Another question of course is why all different branches do not recognize each other if they all stem from Buddha) Or stay as a lay follower, but keep all the percepts and practice, after all, it’s not the robe and status that drive you on the Path, it’s the belief in the Triple Gem, Four Noble Truths, virtue, views, practice. But it seems that people are obsessed with what they shouldn’t be if they claim to understand the Teaching. I doubt that kammic consequence of breaking Vinaya, seeding disagreement in Sangha and lay community and very probable shortening of Dhamma’s lifespan in this world in attempt to override Buddha’s directives is somehow justified. Women today would not be barred from reaching the Fruits of the Path by the fact that they can’t wear orange robes.
Once again: it’s not the ordination which is wrong or not, it’s the disrespect for the Buddha’s word for the sake of “fitting” into the modern agenda and conditioned ideas and views in our minds. For you see, it does not have to fit. It is not it’s purpose. Such a voluntaristic approach and open advocacy of “let’s change it because it’s not nice” sets a very dangerous precedent. The next step would be to reject everything from the teaching that does not fit current scientific models, for example.
I do not intend to show any disrespect to anyone, and I wish everyone willing to establish themselves firmly on the Path. The Path is not about modern understanding of equality, social justice movements or any other views and ideas. Don’t allow Mara to cloud your vision with all this, shift your attention away and create unwholesome states. It’s not some harmless discussion like the location of Mount Meru, it directly concerns how Dhamma is spread and taught, and it is a very serious matter.
P.S. I realize it is not exactly clear how Buddha ordered to ordain women, because there are discrepancies between various sutta parallels. But it means also we should be double-cautious, because evidently someone already tried to tamper with the process. Trying to do better we in fact may do worse, and in the areas we never anticipated.