Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

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Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

Postby darvki » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:12 pm

The topic of the Buddha's initial reluctance to form the Bhikkhuni Sangha and its implications is discussed fairly frequently. I read somewhere the interpretation that the rape of Uppalavanna Theri was an example of what the Buddha was afraid would happen if he ordained bhikkhunis. I think this makes a lot of sense and I don't believe I've ever read it mentioned on this forum. The responsibility of monitoring a large number of women's safety to a satisfactory degree is great, even impossible. For me, that initial reluctance no longer has any substantial degree of mystery to it.

Thoughts? Disagreements? Other factors to consider?
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Re: Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

Postby befriend » Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:18 am

the monks at first would be teaching the newly ordained bhikkhuni's and this would cause the bikkhus to interact with them. this might cause lust to arise. isnt there a quote where buddha tells a monk to not look, or talk, to a woman, and if he does have to talk to one be mindful?
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Re: Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:38 am

...

In the first place, there's little reason to think that the bhikkhuni order was going against social norms. There are some examples of female wanderers in the Nikayas, and we know the Jains allowed nuns as well. So it doesn't make sense to presume social stigma.

This also goes to the allegations of security; the Vinaya does dictate traveling in pairs, and other rules ward against the possibilities of gossip. When comparing the Theri- and Thera-gathas, you will note that most of the forest imagery comes from the anchoretic bhikkhus, while bhikkhunis were perhaps more likely to live as cenobites in small huts. Protections could be secured, nevertheless.

So the Buddha probably said, "Come, nun" at first, just as with monks - this is, in fact, recorded in passing somewhere in the Vinaya, or perhaps in the Therigatha.

In any event, these pieces of evidence are strong largely because they are in passing; the presence of female ascetics of various kinds alongside Buddhist nuns was accepted and taking as a matter of course. It is only later that we can see a concerted effort to denigrate nuns' achievements, impose the garudhammas, and so forth.

The advice to Ananda is a case in point; 'be mindful' is sound Dhamma, and elsewhere the Buddha describes metta, and so forth, as appropriate approaches. There is an occasional suggestion that thinking of women in terms of 'sister', 'mother', 'daughter' is of use, but in these contexts clear mindfulness is always held up as the ideal. So the advice to Ananda referred to earlier really starts to look like the hand of an editor - it sticks out against the rest of the Dhamma like a sore thumb.

It's helpful, especially in connection with modern issues such as this, to take a soft and wide gaze at the Nikayas in order to discern the regularity of the Teaching, rather than trying to pierce the meaning through tiddles and jots.

:heart:
    "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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Re: Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:24 am

Hello all,

These articles may be of interest:

Buddha's initial reluctance to ordain women
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... reluctance

Buddhism and Misogyny
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... d_Misogyny

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

Postby darvki » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:04 am

daverupa wrote:...

Thanks for this. A highly informative and sound post, as usual.
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Re: Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

Postby Cassandra » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:29 pm

daverupa wrote:The advice to Ananda is a case in point; 'be mindful' is sound Dhamma, and elsewhere the Buddha describes metta, and so forth, as appropriate approaches. There is an occasional suggestion that thinking of women in terms of 'sister', 'mother', 'daughter' is of use, but in these contexts clear mindfulness is always held up as the ideal. So the advice to Ananda referred to earlier really starts to look like the hand of an editor - it sticks out against the rest of the Dhamma like a sore thumb.


I guess you are referring to the instance where the Buddha asked Ananda to literally 'ignore' women?
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Re: Buddha's Reluctance - Original Bhikkhuni Sangha

Postby daverupa » Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:41 pm

Cassandra wrote:
daverupa wrote:The advice to Ananda is a case in point; 'be mindful' is sound Dhamma, and elsewhere the Buddha describes metta, and so forth, as appropriate approaches. There is an occasional suggestion that thinking of women in terms of 'sister', 'mother', 'daughter' is of use, but in these contexts clear mindfulness is always held up as the ideal. So the advice to Ananda referred to earlier really starts to look like the hand of an editor - it sticks out against the rest of the Dhamma like a sore thumb.


I guess you are referring to the instance where the Buddha asked Ananda to literally 'ignore' women?


Yes; befriend made a passing reference to this in the second post.
    "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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