Dec 16, 2009

Elder's Statement

While I would like to start blogging on other topics, both serious and light-hearted, I don't think we can leave the Perth Bhikkhuni controversy behind just yet.

To bring everyone up to date; the World Abbot's Meeting has concluded and the western elders have issued an official statement. This statement states the position of the sangha leadership in a clear and concise manner. The statement agrees with what I've said here, that the main problem with Ajahn Brahm's action has been in the method and the timing. There is a definite conciliatory element as it leaves the door open for consideration of bhikkhuni ordination in the future. It rightly notes that the Vinaya issues are not completely settled.

Already there is a flurry of postings and comments on various sites. The tone of most of these on the Women's Sangha Facebook page and on Sujato's Blog is highly critical. What I find troubling about these is something I've pointed out before; the arguments are framed in secular political terms and not in terms of Dhammavinaya. I have tried to elaborate my thoughts about the difference in the post below, Enlightenment vs Enlightenment.


Unknown said...

Dear Bhante,
I will let a respected former president and religious leader in his own right respond to your comment about secular arguments. Metta

Anonymous said...

Most respectable Bhante,

Namo Buddhayo,

Bhante, we lay people are bombarded daily with different views and opinions in the Net, so much so we are confused with all these arguments that are going on in the various posts(who is right and who is wrong?).

What we want to know (as the verdict is not conclusive) whether those 4 Bhikkhunis are still valid under the theravada tradition and is Bodhiyana monastery still valid under the theravada tradition (as we find that it is
"business" as usual for the Dhammasara Bhikkhunis and AB in Bodhiyana as though oblivious of the issue).There is still a lot of obscurity in this area.

The other thing we lay people want to know is, does this tantamount to a schism in the Sangha (of course no one wanted to admit it or wanted this to happen, but in reality it smelled or looked like it). We need some kind of concrete clarifications to enlighten us in this controversy that is still very loosely formatted and enforced with no clarity, worse still, seems like, with no light in the tunnel yet, to settle this issue amicably,harmoniously & unanimously as it looks like all of those involved could not see eye to eye, as relationships have been strained.

Very sad in the history of Buddhism in this century!Hope this could be settled with harmony restored.Hopefully, this does not mark the beginning of the diminishing of the true Dhamma as predicted by our Gautama Buddha. Also quoted by the late Ven K.Sri Dhammananda Thera before his passing away, that when materialism increased, spiritualism decreased. It is definitely evolving. No wonder, Buddha has this symbol of the turning wheel with no beginning and end.Sadhu.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ajahn, The comment from Yokie shows the real danger of the situation. I was told by Aj. Amaro that "no one" is any more interested in trying to overturn the Australian bhikkhuni's ordination ... but because of unclear and ambiguous statements by the Thai Sangha and Group of Elders, the laity are left in a state of confusion.

I respectfully ask you to answer these questions very clearly: Are the Dhammasara nuns bhikkhunis? Are Aj. Brahm and the Bodhinyana Sangha still Theravada bhikkhus?

Thanks for your friendship.

Anonymous said...

I am a lay person and I personally feel more confused by the sometimes accusing comments in some blogs than by the statements of the Thai Sangha and Group of Elders.

I don't want to criticize the discussion on facebook and some blogs but I personally feel that these comments against the thai sangha and the Elders don't represent the buddhist lay community in general.

I am sure that there are a lot of people like myself who think that women ordination should be possible in every buddhist tradition and in every branch but nevertheless feel that this ordination was a big mistake.

But as Ajahn Punnadhammo wrote, now there should be the time to restore some harmony again.

With metta


Dhamma101 said...

Dear Ajahn

I am wondering who wrote the statement from the WAM as it was not signed. Which monks were actually at the WAM and who is this report supposed to represent?

LV said...

"I will let a respected former president and religious leader in his own right respond to your comment about secular arguments."

As Ven. Dhammanando pointed out, those who are trying to revive the Bhikkhuni order should be careful what they wish for and should understand the full implications of their position. In a lot of ways, the women are better off than the men. They have a chance to create their own renunciate community that can evolve on a trial and error basis. If the bhikkhuni order is revived, then this opportunity may be lost:

"Quite so. There are practical solutions such as nunneries. If there is a bhikkhuni revival then there may not be a practical solution such as nunneries. The bhikkhuni Vinaya does not in fact allow bhikkhunis to live apart from bhikkhus. I am not just referring to the eight garudhammas. If you read Ven. Thanissaro's recent translation of the bhikkhuni patimokkha you will see that there are no end of rules requiring regular and ongoing contact between the two sanghas, such that they would need to reside in the same location. So if it is independence that women want, bhikkhuni revival is the last thing they should be pushing for. The existing womens' ordinations give them all the independence they could wish for, since there is no formally defined relationship between, say, a Thai mae chee and the Thai bhikkhusangha. Such relations as exist are fluid and negotiable. This would not be the case if the bhikkhunisangha were revived.

"Ah, but we can revive the bhikkhunisangha but cut out all the special discriminatory rules!" (as Stephen never tires of reminding us).

But why bother? If one is not reviving the bhikkhunisangha as the Buddha constituted it, then one is not in fact reviving the bhikkhunisangha at all. One is creating a new type of order. To ordain as a bhikkhuni but not live according to the bhikkhuni Vinaya is to be a bhikkhuni in name only. But no ordination is necessary for a woman to be a bhikkhuni in name only."

Paul Sewick said...


I should respectfully point out that Ajahn Brahm was not expelled from WPP because of his "method" and "timing", but because he refused to declare the bhikkhuni ordination "invalid", which he did not have the power to do.

-Paul Szewczyk

Ajahn Punnadhammo said...

To Dhamma 101

I don't know who drafted the statement, but it was a consensus agreement of the Ajahns attending the WAM. These would be the abbots of all the branch monasteries worldwide who were able to attend.

Dhamma101 said...

Dear Ajahn
Do you think that most of the Western Elders think, as you do, that the ordination of the bhikkhunis in Perth is valid? And if so, surely it is a loss to the Thai Forest tradition that they now do not have these bhikkhunis as part of their sangha?

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