Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

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

Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby BlackBird » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:35 pm

I think Ayya Khema and her Nun's we're pretty strict on the Vinaya code?
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:44 pm

notself wrote:Just out of curiosity, how would you rate the compliance to the Vinaya by the lineage of Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (if you know)? He is the abbot of the Bhavana Society of West Virginia, USA.


I have visited his temple and met with the monks and nuns and they appear to follow the Vinaya very well.

Bhante Gunaratana is the head of the Siam Nikaya sect of [Sri Lankan] Theravada Buddhism for North America (entire continent).
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:47 pm

BlackBird wrote:I think Ayya Khema and her Nun's we're pretty strict on the Vinaya code?


Yes, as well as most of the bhikkhunis I have had the pleasure to meet. Once I tried to give some cash to Ayya Tathaaloka and she refused due to the Vinaya rule of handling cash. Only after my insistence did she direct me to a lay attendant for her monastery who could accept the dana.
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby notself » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:29 pm

I assume that we need not be concerned that these fully ordained Bhikkhunis are slack in following the code even though they have not been ordained in a Forest lineage. This is good news. :anjali:
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby gavesako » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:10 pm

BlackBird wrote:I think Ayya Khema and her Nun's we're pretty strict on the Vinaya code?


Some of these Vinaya details might not be apparent to a layman, but I can assure you that even minor points of etiquette can create major divisions between those monastics who think they are "doing it right" and those who are "slack".

Talking about Vinaya proper, it is known that most of the Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis outside the forest tradition accept and handle money just like laypeople do, which is of course looked down upon by those living in forest monasteries. I think both Bhante G and Ayya Khema did so. The latter actually said (I am told) that the Vinaya is not really necessary and that one only needs to keep the basic ethical precepts, so she was eating in the afternoon, etc. This raises some doubts naturally about the need to obtain the status of "bhikkhuni" in the first place.

However, one should not therefore assume that all those living in forest monasteries understand and keep the Vinaya properly, it is simply that they follow the established regulations as they have been told. There are areas of Vinaya which are not well known or applied in forest monasteries, for example the adhikarana-samatha principles which have to do with communal decision-making (due to the emphasis on following a Guru-like master). Also many forest monasteries are very rich these days, and even though the abbot does not need to handle money personally, he has pretty much complete control over it and how it is going to be spent. So sometimes merely keeping the correct form does not guarantee freedom from defilements.
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby Bankei » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:14 pm

pilgrim wrote:Ajahn Chandako, in his letter, says:
""If the ordination had been independent of Bodhinyana Monastery, Ajahn Brahm would not have been able to take credit for it. Many people I have spoken to think that what was most important to Ajahns Brahm and Sujato was that they go down in history as the ones who revived the bhikkhuni order in the Theravada tradition."
I know the Ajahn is a forest monk, but surely he must know that the bhikkhuni order was revived in the eighties and that there are now hundreds of bhikkhunis all over the world including the west. Or is he is talking about western monks only. Ordinations by Asian monks don't count?



Yes, that is a good point. The Bhikkhuni lineage has already been re-established. It is just that the WPP group doesn't recognise the ordination as being valid.

I think some Dhammayut monks do not recognise the validity of the Mahanikaya lineage. WPP monks are ordained under this lineage. King Mongkut (before he was king) certainly thought the lineage was broken and corrupt otherwise he wouldn't have sought out a Mon lineage to re-ordain in and 'create' a separate Nikaya.

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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby BudSas » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:18 pm

notself wrote:I for one do not consider Thailand to be the sole arbiter of Theravada Buddhism. If Thailand doesn't want to follow the wishes of the Buddha that is their affair, but I think that the leadership of Theravada will shift to those groups and nations who do recognize Bhikkhunis. I fear that Thailand will become a backwater of Buddhist thought and practice.


To be fair, on the issue of bhikkhuni ordination, I believe Myanmar is mor conservative than Thailand. Although not officially recognized, Bhikkhuni Dhammanada and her monastery are allowed to operate in Thailand.

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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby BudSas » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:23 pm

Bankei wrote:I think some Dhammayut monks do not recognise the validity of the Mahanikaya lineage. WPP monks are ordained under this lineage. King Mongkut (before he was king) certainly thought the lineage was broken and corrupt otherwise he wouldn't have sought out a Mon lineage to re-ordain in and 'create' a separate Nikaya.



Ven Gavesako may like to comment on this. I believe that Ven Ajahn Chah was ordained in the Mahanikaya lineage.

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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby notself » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:32 pm

BudSas wrote:To be fair, on the issue of bhikkhuni ordination, I believe Myanmar is mor conservative than Thailand. Although not officially recognized, Bhikkhuni Dhammanada and her monastery are allowed to operate in Thailand.
BDS


I believe you are correct about Myanmar. Sri Lanka appears to be "unofficially" accepting of Bhikkhuni ordination. Perhaps they will be officially accepted in the near future.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby Kester » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:30 am

Hi

I used to be a monk in the Thai forest tradition six years, a friend of Ven. Gavesako, and also used to study Vinaya a lot. In particular I did a lot of research on the neglected communal legal procedures (adhikarana-samatha-dhamma), and was preparing a book basically about them including a chapter discussing the exact meaning of 'schism' and everything related to it in Vinaya.

The latest draft is more than three years old now and I haven't looked at it all since, and I wasn't completely happy with it then- some niggling complications I never fully sorted out, but overall I'm very confident that the gist is right, i.e. the usage of the term 'schism' and 'harmony' by the Thai traditionalist faction for basically suppressing any kind of dissent and imposing superficial conformity while refusing to acknowledge let alone examine genuine issues, is wrong morally and further has no validity in terms of Vinaya.

The essence of the blameworthy kind of schism is invoking authority independent of Dhamma-Vinaya (in the original strict sense= the most reasonably probably historically authentic/original recension(s)/representations of those passages among the Suttas and Vinaya which are literally 'Word of the Buddha' or were spoken by a disciple but explicitly endorsed by the Buddha in his lifetime so long as that record of endorsement is considered probably historically authentic -anything else, spoken by disciples or by outsiders, is at best legitimate if in conformity (anulomika), but cannot ever be authoritative).

So, to invoke the authority of a Mahatherasamaghorn or Thai State law over Sangha legal issues is essentially to rely (take refuge in) an alternative religious authority, a different 'sarana', independent from Dhamma-Vinaya, and that is the essence of schism -dividing the basis for cohesion of the Sangha, which can only be Dhamma-Vinaya as taught and formulated by the Buddha, only. It is the Thai traditionalists who are responsible and blameworthy for the schism, if it is that now, and they are the Adhammapakkha -the faction of Non-Dhamma, or the ka.nhapakkha -the Dark faction. They use the same terminology, but it is all distorted, and they use it as rhetoric to threaten and bully, but they are not willing to look at evidence actually from the Suttas and Vinaya, nor examine the case properly by comparison to original Dhamma-Vinaya as the criterion, and they do not attempt to persuade reasonably or argue reasonably -which are all characteristics defined as distinguishing the adhammapakkha in the Vinaya.

The point about rushing this through to avoid discussion at the WAM is nonsense on multiple levels, but for starters -the monks interested in helping to revive the bhikkhuni ordination have been fairly patiently and deferentially trying to raise it repeatedly at WPP Thera's Council meetings for many years, and just finding it dismissed without examination and being personally ridiculed and attacked for it. The Thai faction have had more than enough opportunities to discuss it reasonably, and have failed to show any signs of intention to do so sincerely on the basis of Dhamma-Vinaya, repeatedly, over many years, so it is completely understandable that Aj Brahm and Aj Sujato have eventually gone ahead without them.

I believe it may actually turn out for the best if this division (probably 'schism' in the full technical sense, now) does not get hastily patched up and covered up, but remains. To truly resolve it down to its roots would be miraculous, but sadly extremely improbable in the foreseeable future. This is not a new division, but only a formal acknowledgment of a situation which has actually been developing gradually for many years. The Thai traditionalist faction and the radically scripturally orthodox faction (two descriptions I just made up, not the names they give themselves) have been not truly in harmony for many years, it's better to at least acknowledge the problem and now the Thai side is forced to consciously handle the problem, they can't carry on just suppressing it and covering it up with their totalitarian 'harmony' rhetoric.

At least my draft chapter explaining 'schism' contains, as far as I know/can remember, ALL of the passages from the Suttas and Vinaya referring to schism and its related terms, and a few from the commentaries, one parallel from the Mulasarvastivadin Vinaya recension on the definition of 'different communion' with a bit more built-in commentary, mostly with the original and then a translation right underneath, so you can also look for yourselves and check out the sources, and you don't just have to believe me.

I'm now at Uni in my second year and involved with about five societies and getting a bit crazily busy, so I don't want to get too involved with this really (despite the appearance of writing a loony length reply!), just wanted to offer some hard information (i.e. the chapter analysing the technical meaning of 'schism' which attached, not my personal opinions above) into the melting pot and stand back and let it stew.

metta
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(formerly Bhikkhu Santi(dhammo))

p.s. I couldn't get the attachment thingeemajiggy to work, so here's a link to it uploaded: http://sites.google.com/site/bitsandbobsofmine/draft-schism-chapter
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:48 am

Greetings Kester,

Thank you for the insightful overview and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!

:buddha2:

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:11 am

HI Kester,

Thank you for your insights and knowledge you bring to this discussion.

Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:17 am

Kester wrote:Hi

I used to be a monk in the Thai forest tradition six years, ...metta
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Thanks for the post. I was wondering where you were. I always enjoyed your postings on Websangha, and I hope you will stop post here as you schedule allows.
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby Bankei » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:11 am

Hidden away in a comment on Sujato Bhikkhu's blog is a long reply to Ajahn chandako Posted on behalf of the Ajahn Brahmali & the Bodhinyana Sangha.

It is easy to miss so here is the link:

http://sujato.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/ ... /#comments
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby BlackBird » Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:04 am

gavesako wrote:
BlackBird wrote:I think Ayya Khema and her Nun's we're pretty strict on the Vinaya code?


I think both Bhante G and Ayya Khema did so. The latter actually said (I am told) that the Vinaya is not really necessary and that one only needs to keep the basic ethical precepts, so she was eating in the afternoon, etc. This raises some doubts naturally about the need to obtain the status of "bhikkhuni" in the first place.


Oh really... Oh :|
Hmm...

Thank you for your response Bhante.
:anjali:
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:01 pm

I think that this is all very sad...metta to all concerned.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby Thanavuddho » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:58 pm

-
Last edited by Thanavuddho on Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby Guy » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:18 pm

Hi All,

I just went to tonight's talk by Ajahn Brahm and he basically said that the expulsion is "no big deal" and that it will be "business as usual" here in Perth. He also mentioned that he is still good friends with all the monks involved and says that they are all good monks despite the disagreements.

Ajahn Bramali has written the following on the BSWA website:-

...

To summarize, the ordination of bhikkhunis at Bodhinyana Monastery happened as it did because it seemed clear that any consultation with the Wat Pah Pong Sangha would have led to it being blocked. It is indeed regrettable that the ordination had to happen in this way, but sometimes, as in the present case, there is no good alternative. However, I do not believe that any irreparable rift in the Sangha has been created. There is a storm right now, but like all storms it will pass. I firmly believe that in the long run this decision to ordain bhikkhunis will be regarded as appropriate given the difficult circumstances. Now we all need to act for conciliation and understanding, to look to the future good of Buddhism and let go of any remaining bad feelings.


http://www.bswa.org/modules/news/article.php?storyid=769

With Metta,

Guy
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2) Throwing things away
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby Bankei » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:56 am

I wonder if the ordination was done properly according to the vinaya procedures (pali).

eg.
Was the Bhikkhuni preceptor a Bhikkhuni with 12 years standing?
Did the 4 applicants each have 2 years as a sikkhamana or probabtionary trainee?

The reintroduction of Bhikkhuni into Theravada has happened recently - hopefully it was more than 12 years ago!

I know all the women were 'nuns' for long periods prior, but I don't know if there is any special requirement to be a sikkhamana.

Hope they complied completely.
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Re: Bhikkhuni Ordination performed - by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:21 am

Bankei wrote:Was the Bhikkhuni preceptor a Bhikkhuni with 12 years standing?


Yes, Ayya Tathaaloka has 12 years standing. She ordained in Los Angeles in 1997. See her bio:

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... Tathaaloka
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