What is the reason for following all the rules of the Vinaya?

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how would you differentiate between ‘receiving a lower form of ordination’ and being ‘in a subordinate position’? Is it a question of accepting and being happy with the lower ordination so that you don’t feel you are in a subordinate position?


I think it’s important to remember that for some women higher ordination is not an option, such as in Myanmar and Thailand where seeking bhikkhuni ordination could put their lives and wellbeing in danger. For instance, there have been women jailed in both countries in the past for pretending or masquerading as bhikkhus. Thus, many women in these cases do not have the resources to seek out a safe form of higher ordination that is accepted by their communities and government. I think in these cases one can argue that they take a lower form of ordination because there are not other options that are feasibly available.

I think that subordination is a different matter entirely that doesn’t have to do with level of ordination, but rather with dynamics between the monks and nuns. I think subordination depends more on the value of women in community and their ability to attain nibbana than it does on ordination level. I say this because I think it can be argued both in the Vinaya and in the Suttas that women are automatically subordinate to men, and that acknowledging this history is important.

So, while bhikkhuni ordination is an important step in establishing equality, I don’t think it automatically grants release from systems and ideas of subordination that have dominated Buddhist thought for centuries.


I wonder if the thread has gone off topic. Perhaps someone could start a new thread if there is anything else to discuss about ordination levels. Or tie it back into the original post.


Buddhism is a religion of Effort. What kind of effort? See AN10.51 Peace may or may not be found while on the path! It’s not until one becomes fully enlightened and an Arahant that the fetters of anger and ill will are permanently done away with. The rest of us, lamentably, are still quite human. :laughing:


O.P. What is the reason for following all the rules of the Vinaya?

I have to laugh when I see how my own views and perceptions regarding this question have changed! I started quite incredulous about some of the rules, especially some of the rules in the Bikkhuni Vinaya.

However, with deeper understanding and more practice, I have gained a greater appreciation for them.

One of the things not yet fully explored, relates to the fact that the Buddha laid these down as a template that facilitates the conditions for liberation. On the one hand they are rules that facilitate a harmonious communal life. They also provide a structure, whereby a practitioner, does not need to deliberate over each decision in a day. This is the aspect that I want to highlight.
The very act of deliberation, actively engages discursive thought and debate, which naturally stimulates a proliferation of views, and which makes the attainment of stillness more difficult.

When striving to still the mind, and to work towards understanding Self, Impermanence, and Delusion, one of the areas of training is to be aware of the cause and effect of views. From there the work involves, careful observation of the formation of new, and detachment from existing views. One also needs to be aware of the action of asavas, and cut off/limit the minds propensity for engagement.

As such, I’ve come to the ‘view’ :smile::wink:, that the Vinaya provides a structure, that can be used for the minimization of engagement in the constant proliferation of views.

In my current understanding, if one is trying to reduce places for the consciousnesses to land, one needs to still the action of asavas, which is extremely difficult … so all the supportive structures, such as Vinaya, can be seen to be very valuable in this process, they can reduce the need to ‘think’ or cogitate over so many routine things. :slight_smile:

As always this is just my opinion, at this point in time, along this long and surprising path :smiley:

I would also be grateful, if this contains some wrong understanding, to be corrected and directed to appropriate teachings :slight_smile: :pray:


Ajahn Jayasaro’s book The Real Practice addresses some of the issues raised in this thread.


Indeed. But just to clarify, the siladhara ordination was also rejected by the Thai Sangharaja. It has no place within the Ajahn Chah lineage, a point that was clearly made by the Wat Pa Pong Ajahns during the bhikkhuni kerfuffle. It is still technically illegal in Thailand for a woman to take the going forth or to wear the brown robes.

The difference between siladhara and bhikkhuni is not a matter of legality, but of perception, a perception that was energetically constructed by those who oppose equality for women.

De facto, of course, hundreds of bhikkhunis live in Thailand and are not considered illegal, although they do not receive proper legal recognition for things such as health services that monks take for granted.

There is no reason why they should not be accepted in the Ajahn Chah Sangha as well, except for the fact that some monks decided not to. They also never accepted the siladhara, they just didn’t make a fuss about it. We must avoid shifting responsibility to an amorphous conception of “Thai forest tradition” or something like that: it is the way it it is because that is how monks made it.


The ordination of bhikkhunīs has gone against the grain of the entire Theravādin world. There are many things that can come up in the Vinaya in which we may inspired to do what feel is “right” and yet the Vinaya should and must take precedence over that. We have a code to adhere to and for me personally I choose to maintain it in it’s current state, because it is the law that has been passed down from the time of the Buddha. We do it out of respect to him. Not to abolish old rules nor to propagate new ones but to dwell in accordance with how the Vinaya is. When we begin to mold and shape the Vinaya to our own wishes and perceptions of what is right, there can potentially be no end to how much the Vinaya will change. And this goes the same for men.

For me this has nothing to do with women. Instead it is about preserving the Saṅgha. There was no procedure left by the Buddha for reviving any Saṅgha once it has died out. If there are only 4 bhikkhus left, or 5, yet, none of there are eligible to give ordination, then the Saṅgha is finished, regardless of what we feel is right. Yet, because of, at least what I think, political inclinations, we are trying to revive a dead order.

The Buddha was not one for making political movements or for fighting for equality… or even gender identity politics. That is quite clear. What he taught us was to make an end of suffering. To go beyond identifying with “he”, “she”, “it”, or whatever pronoun one wants to be called.

“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.

The level of ordination deals exactly with the level of ordination and, at least originally, had nothing to do with the value of women or their ability to attain nibbāna. It is clear that in the time of the Buddha that women were seen to be just as capable as men in attaining the goal. However, due to how women were treated by society, the danger of living a renunciate life as a woman, and the potential implications of placing women higher than the bhikkhus for the longevity of the Saṅgha, they were made junior. The Bhikkhunī Saṅgha is junior to the Bhikkhus because of the Vinaya. Which shouldn’t be looked upon negatively. The Saṅgha is the first religious order in the world to allow women into it’s ranks.


Forgive me for not providing links to all the places in various discussions where this has been disproven, but I highly recommend using the forum’s search function to bring yourself up to speed.


Some thoughts:
Habits are a comfort & defense as aging occurs. This is one reason why building very good habits is worthwhile.
Every life, and everything that begins, ages.

Good habits can help one avoid distraction & inappropriate attention & efforts, as one ages.
This is another reason why building very good habits is worthwhile.
The world is on fire. There is no safety, or exceptions.


“The Saṅgha is the first religious order in the world to allow women into it’s ranks.”
Is this true?
Can you know this?

Of the four sanghas, which was appointed in charge, to make determinations for one or all of the others?
I think none was so appointed.

The Buddha appointed no successor among the monks. He sent forth mendicants, and the sanghas spread in many directions. No one was appointed to rule this extended and extending community.
So if a continuous lineage of ordained nuns returned the gift they were given, in ordination, and if the nuns sangha was to order itself with bhikkhus prohibited from taking on authority over the nuns’ sangha… why is it ok for contemporary bhikkhus to take on this authority?


Correct. I failed to put “as far as we know”. However, upon some brief research I don’t see anything to contradict my statement.

The bhikkhu Saṅgha was founded first and is thus senior in terms of existence. From BMC 2: “When the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha was first founded, the bhikkhus were instructed to teach them the Vinaya and to conduct their Community transactions.” This later changed through the suspicion of foul play. Then the bhikkhu’s rule was to only teach the bhikkhunīs how to recite the Patimokkha and perform confessions.

More from BMC 2: “In other areas, however, the bhikkhus continued to play a role in the bhikkhunī’s Community transactions. If the bhikkhunīs were planning to impose a disciplinary transaction on another bhikkhunī, they were to consult with the bhikkhus as to what the precise punishment should be and were bound by the bhikkhus’ decision… Bhikkhunīs were not allowed to cancel the uposatha or invitation of a bhikkhu, or to set in motion or to participate in any investigation of a bhikkhu’s offense. Bhikkhus, however, were allowed to cancel the uposatha or invitation of a bhikkhunī, and could set in motion and participate in an investigation of a bhikkhunī’s offense.”

Ordination relies on the bhikkhus to give full acceptance. The bhikkhunīs are also to receive teachings from the bhikkhus every fortnight.

Well the bhikkhunīs aren’t supposed to order themselves that rely on the bhikkhu Saṅgha for a myriad of things whereas the bhikkhu Saṅgha is autonomous. See my above references. And since the bhikkhu Saṅgha is the only living lineage, the bhikkhunī Saṅgha having died off 1000 years ago, I would say that it is within their authority to do what is fit for the preservation of the Sāsana. Because when you look into re-ordaining bhikkhunīs there is a lot of controversy. Often times fueled by political motive. Motive that is interested in twisting the Vinaya to meet a desired goal regardless of what it could potentially do to the Community.


I do not know this, nor is it something I can know. Rebirth upon rebirth, extending beyond the reach of what can be known. Perhaps in past aeons, this might be inaccurate. This is not something I would say, as it is unknowable; further, it might be an obstacle to some to say such a thing, as I know some would dispute or ridicule the statement. Please, reconsider.

Motive that is interested in twisting the Vinaya to meet a desired goal regardless of what it could potentially do to the Community.

Again, something it is doubtful you can know, creates obstacles, and possibly more. Please, reconsider.

I asked about authority. You reply regarding chronology and interdependence. By your logic, the laymen and especially laywomen would have authority over bhikkhus, from the first sermon, and from dependence upon laity for basic daily requisites.
AFAIK this is incorrect.


What about the Jains? I believe they make the same claim for their order of nuns (aryikā / sādhvī), saying that it was founded by Pārśvanātha, the ‘fordmaker’ who preceded Mahāvīra. And the Jain claim to anteriority seems to have been accepted by at least some Buddhists, for the Aṅguttara and Therīgāthā commentaries have Bhaddā Kuṇḍalakesā entering the homeless life as a Jain nun a long time before she becomes a bhikkhunī. Also, the Suttas and Vinaya make occasional mention of female religious wanderers (paribbājikā) of unspecified affiliation.

Then elsewhere in the world we have the libationists (jijiu) of primitive Daoism, some of whom were female; the priestesses of the Sumerians, Babylonians and Hittites; the God’s Wives of Amun and other classes of priestess in Egypt; the Vestal virgins and sacerdotes in Rome; the Pythias and Sibyls in Greece; and the gallizenae and bandruís of the Druids.

And if we stretch “religious order” to include the ancient philosophical guilds, Mary Ellen Waithe’s A History of Women Philosophers tells of a number of celebrated female Pythagoreans, Milesians and Cynics.


Hence the “as far as we know”, in our known history. Or perhaps as far as I know

You are asking me to reconsider without offering reasons to.

There isn’t interdependence, the bhikkhunī Saṅgha is dependent on the bhikkhu Saṅgha. One Saṅgha isn’t autonomous, the other one is.

The lay community is not a monastic order, it wasn’t founded by anyone, wasn’t brought into existence by anyone. They are not bound by monastic codes.

Here I will somewhat agree. “Paṭibaddhā me jīvikā” ti – “My very life is sustained through the gifts of others”. However, I wouldn’t say that gives them authority over the bhikkhus.

Here my response was:

And since the bhikkhu Saṅgha is the only living lineage, the bhikkhunī Saṅgha having died off 1000 years ago, I would say that it is within their authority to do what is fit for the preservation of the Sāsana.

I stand corrected.


The four sanghas were founded by the Buddha. Not all lay are Buddhist, just as all monastics are not Buddhist. When the Buddha decided to teach, and did so, he turned the Wheel. From that moment, there could be Buddhist followers. Is this not correct?

You are asking me to reconsider without offering reasons to.

On the contrary, you have already begun to reconsider your verbal and mental behavior.

“Paṭibaddhā me jīvikā” ti – “My very life is sustained through the gifts of others”.

The bhikkhu sangha is not autonomous; it is dependent upon the lay sanghas.

I wouldn’t say that gives them authority over the bhikkhus.
The lay community… [is] not bound by monastic codes.

I agree. And we are all dependent upon the words and work of the Buddha. This is imo cause for gratitude.

@Dhammanando thank you for educating us.


Do we even know that much? Given how careless most Bhikkhus are about the Vinaya, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some error in the ordination process over the past 2400 of buddhist history that technically renders the modern male monastic sangha invalid. It’s not like we have unbroken written records to prove its validity.

This isn’t a rhetorical point, BTW. I’m genuinely curious if someone thinks there is good reason for assuming that the ordination procedure has been reliably intact for 2400 years.


Posted on Facebook today:

Samanadipa Monks

1 hr ·

Did you ever wonder how big is our Monastic Code or Vinaya Pitaka? Here you have it: 3000 pages. We wonder how many monks know it. :slight_smile: At Samanadipa we take it seriously and we will have some studies.


So much Vinaya activity recently! And all using Horner’s translation… When will Ajahn @brahmali’s be ready??! I’m getting impatient! :joy:


Uncertain. Now there is a surprise for you! :grinning:

It’s too hard to say, but don’t hold your breath. It depends on a number of factors beyond my control. It could be several months, perhaps even a couple of years. It might be never. Like I said, don’t hold your breath.