The eight heavy rules need to be addressed both because of
their detrimental impact on the aura of the new bhikshunis and
for the harm they do to the reputation of Buddhism among civilized
nations everywhere. To do this would not mean that the
Buddhist leadership is acquiescing to popular trends and public
opinion. Rather, it is essential to realize that image, respect,
and prestige underlie the very nature of Buddhist monasticism
from the start. The Buddhist sangha was designed precisely
as an exemplar of the optimum religious lifestyle. Its survival
depends on the generosity of the lay, whose support fluctuates
in exact proportion to their conviction that the monastic community
is maintaining its purity and the highest standards of
behavior and wisdom. Indeed, the eight heavy rules themselves
are cast in the story as necessary precisely in order to assuage
the concerns of the Buddhist lay community.
The same is true now, except that lay expectations have
shifted: There are different sets of concerns in the global lay
community. We need to have a public pronouncement stating
that in the Buddhist sangha of the twenty-first century, despite
the technical inclusion of the eight heavy rules in the Vinaya
texts, bhikshus and bhikshunis will be considered to have
equal status and prestige, and be subject to the same rules of
seniority; there shall be in practice no difference based on sex
or gender alone. Buddhist leaders need to affirm that the eight
heavy rules had their time and place but their conditions no
longer remain. They need to do this to retain the respect and
support of the lay Buddhist world.
Bankei wrote:At http://sujato.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/the-time-has-come.pdf there are a collection of articles on the recent Bhikkhuni ordination controversy. They will be published in the summer 2010 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly magazine.
The Time Has Come
The traditional “eight heavy rules” institutionalize women’s second-class status in Buddhist monasteries—women must submit to male leadership,senior nuns must take their place
behind junior monks—and in most Buddhist lineages women are denied full ordination. Former nuns Thanissara, Jitindriya, and Elizabeth Day look at new controversies that are focusing attention on this long-standing injustice and call on Buddhist leaders to engage in a genuine dialogue for change.
I believe that one should not become a monk or a nun to gain "equality" or "status", otherwise the very objective of being a nun would be null. The objective of becoming a monk or a nun is to renunciate, not to gain anything except egolessness.
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