Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:55 am

rowyourboat wrote:I think the Buddha could see far more than we can see in our limited logical ways of viewing the world. All our arguments amount to nothing if the Buddha could (and it is said that he can) see the outcomes of current causes (ie future effects). He proclaimed that what he taught was like a handful of leaves and what he could see was like all the leaves in the forest. So I think we need to be a bit humble in our judgements of his decisions.

with metta

Matheesha


The question is: was it a decision of his to lay down the 8 rules?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:40 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:I think the Buddha could see far more than we can see in our limited logical ways of viewing the world. All our arguments amount to nothing if the Buddha could (and it is said that he can) see the outcomes of current causes (ie future effects). He proclaimed that what he taught was like a handful of leaves and what he could see was like all the leaves in the forest. So I think we need to be a bit humble in our judgements of his decisions.

with metta

Matheesha


The question is: was it a decision of his to lay down the 8 rules?


We the answer is: we don't know.

Now sit.

with metta
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby Gharchaina » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:36 am

Frankly I would rather believe the Eight Weighty Rules were and interpolation than that the Buddha taught them.
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby Modus.Ponens » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:40 am

rowyourboat wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote:
The question is: was it a decision of his to lay down the 8 rules?


We the answer is: we don't know.

Now sit.

with metta


No, the answer is that we have clues that he didn't decide that.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby Dan74 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:29 am

One aspect of this discussion that I would like to comment on is the absurd assertion that monks and nuns cannot coexist in the same monastery. It is reminiscent of some of the reasoning adduced for the decision against Ajahn Brahm by the Thai Forest hierarchy. To me this is insulting to the Sangha and also borne out to be false by more monasteries than I can count. People sometimes need to look further than their own backyard.
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby yuttadhammo » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:50 pm

Here are some words I received today from an anonymous Bhikkhuni:
Since quite a while I wanted to write a note on your post about the garudhammas in Dhammawheel. If they have been stated by the Buddha he must have done it with more love, wisdom and compassion I will ever be able to imagine, so I trusted and tried. After some experience I can say I like and appreciate them, foremost the greeting-monks. It makes things so easy, creates a harmonious atmosphere and prevents to get too close together.

Honestly, I probably wouldn't complain myself if I came in contact with Bhikkhunis that didn't follow the garu dhamma; I just think it's a shame to throw away any of the Buddha's teaching, and am not particularly biased in regards to Bhikkhunis one way or the other. I just wanted to argue that if there is proof that the garu dhamma are not Buddhavacana, it will have to come solely from scriptural analysis and comparison, not from value judgments like, "the Buddha wasn't sexist. The garu dhamma are sexist. Therefore, the garudhamma are not Buddhavacana." That was really the point intended.

As for scriptural analysis and comparison, we should agree that this is not the same as conjecture and speculation. If there is no compelling reason to discard the garu dhamma based on what is in the scriptures themselves, there is no good reason to discard them at all. I agree, for example, that there is some chronological discrepancy between one of the garu dhamma (the ordination procedure) and the rest of Cv 10. This is not adequate reason to, as many have done in this case, jump to the conclusion that the garu dhamma must be a later inclusion. If anything, the apparent gradual development of the Bhikkhuni ordination procedure is probably just following the formalization of all of the vinaya, i.e. origin stories for every rule.

Anyway, back to meditation :)
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:15 pm

Sasana wrote:
Individual wrote:
Sasana wrote:Sorry but that to me sounds silly, I think in reality whatever differences lie underneath they do not qualify as superiority or inferiority.

Now I'm not sure if you meant in the fact that women are not equal in terms of in society now, which I would agree. But if you meant women are not equal at all to men then I must simply disagree with this evaluation.

With Metta,

Adam

"Superior," means in terms of authority or status, not personal value.

I acknowledge women and men are equal in some cases and different in some cases. What I'm saying that their similarities might be good basis to get rid of the old rules, but their differences might be a good basis to keep the old rules. :)


I think it will be a case of agreeing to disagree. There cannot be a major enough difference that would warrant such blatant segregation, it is merely a symptom of the times in which they were written and more than likely the outcome of a male dominated forte.

With Metta,

Adam

I think that the reverse is the truth. Its the currently held view based on a platform of a kind of egalitarianism which is the received opinion du jour, and which is only ever found in theory and never in nature and which distorts our view of the what the Buddha is saying.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby phalanyani » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:53 am

I'm not as anonymous a Yuttadhammo said, just had no time and inspiration to get involved into discussions.
Here is some firsthand experience of somebody involved:
Since one (or two?) month(s) now I stay in Thailand as a Bhikkhuni. (more about that maybe later on another post)

I was not convinced (and still am not) that the garudhammas were really stated by the Buddha, there are some weird passages in the Maha Parinibbana Sutta that make me hesitate.
Anyway, as I have no proof of whether or not they were laied down to Mahapajapati for all Bhikkhunis or added later or what ever, I decided that I will try to keep them as good as I can for the sake of peace and harmony. If they were given by the Buddha to all Bhikkhunis, then they must have been given with more love, wisdom and compassion I will ever be able to imagine. If I don’t see their benefit it doesn’t mean that there is non. So I trusted and tried.

To my own surprise it turns out that I like and appreciate them now and do see their benefit: peace and harmony.

In Thailand are quite some Monks to greet, believe me. I stay in a large monastery and meet the monks for alm sround. I’m happy that my bowl is hanging on a cord around my neck, so I have the hands free for a Wai (anjali, greeting with palms together) I do greet all the monks who look in my direction. They are so appreciative. I wai, smile and look to the floor, most times they greet back somehow with a halfwai, a nodd, a waving, a smile. It creates a really nice, friendly atmosphere while at the same time it prevents from getting too close together. There is no: ”How many vassas do you have?”chatter. Polite distance. Without judging, like thinking if a monk might be worthy of being greeted or not, I just do it, I don’t have to leave seclusion of mind for that - peace for my mind and harmony in the Sangha.

The other rules of the garudhammas are part of the Bhikkhuni patimokkha and it would not have been necessary to repeat them in the garudhammas, but well, they are repeated.

For me it is good that I have to ask a monk about uposatha days. I have no calendar, rarely watch the moon, cannot calculate and lose the sense of time when I’m meditating and do sometimes really not know if one week passed or two, so the most convenient is to ask a monk, any monk, and he has to know or find out. More peace of mind for the Bhikkhunis.

Ovada (vada means “pleasant speech”, as far as I know, and it should be an inspiring teaching of the Dhamma from a learned Thera to the Bhikkhunis every two weeks on uposatha day) seems to be nothing monks are keen on, hence it’s good to remember them that it’s about time for some Dhamma by asking friendly for it. For a Bhikkhuni this means closer access to a teacher who is normally only available for the monks. More Dhamma for Bhikkhunis.

The two rules of not insult (7) and not criticizing (8) monks … the vinaya clearly says how one should react when one becomes aware of the fault of a fellowmonastic. Scolding, insulting and criticizing is not on the list of things to do, no matter what gender. The policy always is to consider carefully if one can handle the situation peacefully, if one is pure enough oneself to be in a position to talk about the faults of others, does one have enough peace in mind or is it better to wait until one cooled down … There is no room at all neither for monks nor for nuns, to just go and criticize, to insult.
How can I not agree in these rules? They are keeping the mind at peace.

Thinking about the garudhammas as unfair or the fact that patimaokkha for Bhikkhunis has 311 rules and “only” 227 for Bhikkhus is a great waste of time. There might be rules that I don’t like or find difficult to practice, in patimokkha and vinaya (the garudhammas are part of neither) but I have deep faith that they were stated to help deluded, defiled beings like me to become enlightened. Every rule came into being because of the great ignorance of a monk or nun and the wisdom and compassion of the Lord Buddha. They are there for the comfort of well behaved nuns and monks (and 9 further reasons). Comfort here does not necessarily mean the same for a renunciate, a recluse as it does for a lay person. For one earnestly striving comfort is found in seclusion, disentanglement, a mind not looking for fault and trouble but for peace and liberation. That’s why one usually ordains. To ordain does not mean to be perfected instantly but to strive with diligence, to train, to one day become free from suffering. Therefore one accepts to train the rules of the order.

The question should not be: is it sexist? is it wrong? is it right? but: does it support me to become enlightened? If the answer is "yes" one should accept it, if it is "no", away with it. Greeting monks in the end seems to be more supportive on the way to enlightenment than pondering over being mistreated in a sexist manner by the Buddha , by monks, by men in general, since years, centuries, ages, kalpas.

The Buddha said:
>> Whoever construes 'equal,' 'superior,' or 'inferior,' by that he'd dispute;
whereas to one unaffected by these three, 'equal,' 'superior,' or ‘inferior’ do not occur.<< Snp 4.9
means - what ever view one holds on to, either about equality, superiority or inferiority of gender or whatever else, it's a view and for ones views one tends to dispute. If one doesn't have such categories in mind, one will not have to bother or dispute about them.

with love
Phalanyani Bhikkhuni
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:32 am

Thank you for taking the time to give us the benefit of your experience, Venerable.

:anjali:
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:59 am

Thank you, Bikkhuni Phalayani. May you attain nibbana.

with metta

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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby balaji » Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:26 am

My respects to Bhikku Yuttadhammo. :anjali:

Let us consider the following:
1. No form of physical contact, whether with males or females is skillful for the monk. It is well know that homosexuality is quite possible too. Can we completely dismantle the Sangha for this reason alone? As I understand it, sensuality grows on the human mind. What appears repulsive now, with time, may appear attractive later. If this is the case, the body of another male, which may not appeal sexually to a monk, may later appeal sexually too! Then how do we prevent this from happening? Can we dismantle the Sangha entirely?
2. In reality, the actual benefit of monasticism is not necessarily separation from women, but in general, seclusion. Seclusion is most important, seclude yourself from men as well as women. In view of this, therefore, it should not really matter if there is one Sangha containing all members, or two Sanghas, independently working parallelly, accepting the same Dhamma-Vinaya.
3. The Sangha is also supposed to contain laymen and laywomen. If that is the case, should monastics live among the lay men and lay women? And yet, can they live isolating themselves completely from the lay people? They need the laity for food. So has the Sangha undergone a schism just because the laity is separate from the monastics? And now, having the Vinaya as a single body, the laity does not observe all the rules for the monks. Does it then imply that we have two separate bodies accepting separate Dhammas?
4. Ranking the males as senior to the females, arbitrarily, regardless of how long the Bhikkuni has been ordained as a nun is a stretch too far. This clearly shows that the intent of this garudhamma was sexist. Show me why you think it is not the case. This garudhamma seems to imply that a monk can instruct a nun in the Dhamma regardless of how wise the nun is and how long she has been ordained. I will agree if you were to say that time you spend in the Sangha is not a determinant of how wise you actually are. But that does not imply that a nun having spent 10 years in the Sangha need not be any wiser than a young boy just joining the Sangha. If that is possible, then it is equally possible, that you (Bhikku Yuttadhammo), having ordained for several years as a monk, may not be as wise as me! If that were to be true, then what is the benefit of monasticism at all? If after several years of seclusion, one cannot become wiser than a layperson, what is the benefit in monasticism? In that case, perhaps the lay women are in a position to become wiser than the monks!
5. The Dhamma is basically summarized simply in terms of skillful and unskillful qualities. Abandoning the unskillful, and developing the skillful, this is the teaching of the Awakened. When skill has been perfected, wisdom has arisen, avijja averted and the holy life has served its purpose. So do you really think it is impossible to be skillful in avoiding contact with women, and yet giving them complete access to the Dhamma by allowing them to ordain? Now, if the only skillful way you can identify is by subjugating the other, where is the skill in that? Subjugating is something even lay people can do. Why is it impossible simply relegate them to their own affairs, completely keep aloof from them, have no contact with the bhikkunis, and yet, allow them to function as an independent, autonomous body in the Sangha, that does not answer to the Bhikkus? Is this impossible?

Now let me explore a possible model to allow for Bhikkunis and see how you may react to it. There are three steps in this:
1. Rejection of garudhamma: Reject the eight garudhammas, uniformly. Both the monks and the nuns should not accept the garudhammas. Allow Bhikkunis to accept the authority of none other than the Pali Canon alone - minus the garudhammas. Simultaneously ensure all monks also accept the authority of the Pali Canon - minus the garudhammas. So this way, both the Bhikkus and the Bhikkunis accept the same Vinaya, they accept the same Sutta, and yet remain completely separated. They are both autonomous and both take the Buddhavacana from the Pali Canon as their authority.
2. Separation of the sexes: Bhikku sangha and Bhikkuni Sangha should both spend the rains retreats separately, so that they may not interact at all. Ideally, Bhikkus and Bhikkunis should utilize the time to be secluded from everyone - even their own gender - except for their preceptor or perhaps their current rains-retreat teacher. There is no need for any cross-teaching between the Bhikkus and Bhikkunis - a Bhikku need not be necessarily wiser than a Bhikkuni, and therefore, need not teach her. If a monk and a nun, somehow, due to their "supermagnetic attraction" come together, it is a parajika (this parajka is consistent with already known parajikas in the Vinaya).
3. Seclusion even within the Sangha: Even among the Bhikkus and Bhikkunis separately, there should be minimal interaction, and maximum seclusion. Each monastic should remain secluded from everyone else, except when they go on almsround, or if there is a serious question regarding the Dhamma that requires them to meet their master, or else for a Dhamma talk by the leader of their own gender's Sangha. Therefore, not only am I recommending seclusion from the opposite sex, I am recommending seclusion from one's own gender too.

I wanted to know what you would say if this model were already present, and the garudhamma were absent. Would you still want to re-introduce the garudhamma? Do you really think they alone are the best solution possible?

Finally, the Buddha recommended that one should not cling even to the Vinaya. Clinging to the Vinaya is one of the five fetters binding us to samsara. Although I know that to gain release, we need to accept the Vinaya to begin with, the Vinaya itself is not imposed as a set of rules. The Vinaya rules are for our protection from unskillful qualities, and unskillful actions, they are not for the purpose of governing an office, or a group. Thus Vinaya is for personal application far more than for group application.

As an example, if having learned the Dhamma and the Vinaya from a teacher in a particular Theravada tradition, a monk leaves the group, or tradition, being dissatisfied, he cannot be accused of causing a schism. He can still go to another Theravada tradition and ordain there, or alternatively, like the Buddha did, go into seclusion on his own and attain nirvana on his own. Thus statutory unity of all monks and all nuns as a single organized unit does not seem necessary.

In fact, therefore, I would go as far as to say that the Vinaya rule that claims that causing a schism in the Sangha is as serious as to result in him boiling in hell for aeon, is only a later addition, made to make it a very serious matter to cause schisms in the Sangha. It appears to me that if the Buddha really coded this as part of the Vinaya, he himself was very unskillful in preventing schisms from occurring in the future. We know very well of many schisms that have taken place in the Sangha over the centuries.

On the contrary, it seems the Buddha was fairly successful in ensuring that the monks and nuns don't begin to... you know what. He coded rules that separated the men from the women, and so it appears that he was quite skillful in this regard. So in line with what the Buddha himself said, why not stick to whatever rules were skillful and have stood the test of time, and reject those that have not? (I know it is not entirely possible, but I'm asking something more fundamental here, if you could understand it. I'm asking you why we cannot take those rules that mother nature gave us - the rules the wilderness provides us - rules that predate the Buddha by aeons? In other words, why do we have to stick to specific rules, instead why not understand the general principles and skillfully apply ourselves?)
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby puppha » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:53 am

Dear Bhante,

I found this article on the internet about the non-historicity of the 8 garudhammas:
https://sites.google.com/site/dhammadharini/dhamma-talks-from-the-bhikkhuni-sangha/aranya-bodhi-hermitage/non-historicity-of-the-eight-garudhammas
The author (who is a bhikkhuni) makes quite compelling arguments to show that these rules were created quite late and back-inserted.
I am not an expert on the vinaya, though, so I would not be able to comment.

With Metta
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby manas » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:17 am

Greetings Venerables, and everyone,

In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta the Buddha is recorded as having said, "If it is desired, Ananda, the Sangha may, when I am gone, abolish the lesser and minor rules". Now I'm no Vinaya expert, but those 'eight gurudhammas' sound like minor rules to me. If the Sangha wished, they could have a vote and 'abolish' them. But, sadly, I don't think a consensus on this issue is likely at this time.

I too wish we could have a bit more concord, amity & maybe even (one day) some unity on this issue. On that note, is there ever held a kind of 'mega-gathering' of all the main branches of the Theravada, where the issue could be threshed out?

:anjali:
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby robertk » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:29 am

manas wrote:Greetings Venerables, and everyone,

In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta the Buddha is recorded as having said, "If it is desired, Ananda, the Sangha may, when I am gone, abolish the lesser and minor rules". Now I'm no Vinaya expert, but those 'eight gurudhammas' sound like minor rules to me. If the Sangha wished, they could have a vote and 'abolish' them. But, sadly, I don't think a consensus on this issue is likely at this time.

I too wish we could have a bit more concord, amity & maybe even (one day) some unity on this issue. On that note, is there ever held a kind of 'mega-gathering' of all the main branches of the Theravada, where the issue could be threshed out?

:anjali:

Garu means Weighty, hardly indicative of a minor matter
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Re: Canonicity of the Bhikkhuni Garu Dhamma

Postby daverupa » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:32 am

Why isn't killing considered 'weighty' through the use of such a term, then?

---

Something else to consider, in this light:

MN 104:

“A dispute about livelihood or about the Pātimokkha would be trifling, Ānanda. But should a dispute arise in the Sangha about the path or the way, such a dispute would be for the harm and unhappiness of many, for the loss, harm, and suffering of gods and humans."
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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