A STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FROM INSIGHT MEDITATION TEACHERS IN AUSTRALIA FOR THE FULL ORDINATION OF FOUR BHIKKHUNIS IN PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
We wish to express our support and appreciation for the first Theravada bhikkhuni ordination to take place in Australia on October 22, 2009. We rejoice with the four new bhikkhunis, Venerable Sisters Vayama (Australia), Nirdoha (Germany/Australia), Seri (Malaysia/Australia) and Hassapanna (Malaysia/Australia).
We wish to thank Venerable Ajahn Brahmvamso, along with the monks, nuns and laypeople connected with Bodhinyana Monastery and Dhammasara Monastery for Nuns, for creating the conditions that allowed the Sangha of nuns to become confident and strong enough to be able to take such a progressive step, despite criticism from senior teachers in their own lineage. We also wish to thank the eight senior bhikkhunis who travelled to Perth to ordain the new bhikkhunis, including Venerable Tathaloka, preceptor, and Venerables Sucinta and Sobhna, reciters of the formal act of full admission.
These new bhikkhunis have embraced the highest level of the Buddha's Dharma-Vinaya (teaching and training). We know they will need the daily kindness and support of the ordained and lay sangha for such a difficult life. We trust that they will deepen their commitment to and love for the bhikkhuni way of life and become an inspiration for other women to follow in their footsteps.
We regard this revival of the Theravada Bhikkhuni order as a sign of the coming of age of Western Buddhism. It is now possible for women to undertake the discipline of the Vinaya equally with men, shouldering an equal responsibility to share the Dharma. The co-operation of fully ordained men and women will contribute greatly to the welfare, happiness and benefit of many. This was the original vision of the Buddha 2500 years ago, in far less enlightened times than today.
We understand that the ordination of the bhikkhunis has generated considerable disquiet among senior ajahns and bhikkhus at Wat Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand, Wat Amaravati in Britain, and among various branch monasteries of Wat Pah Pong in Western countries. These monasteries have raised objections that Ajahn Brahmvamso and Ajahn Sujato failed to consult adequately with the elders of the tradition or with Thai Buddhist authorities.
We regret that senior bhikkhus in the Ajahn Chah tradition took the view that the current level of training in Thailand and elsewhere for ordained women could not be "a step in the evolution towards a different form such as bhikkhuni ordination," We also regret the decision to expel Bodhinyana Monastery from their lineage.
We continue to respect the role of the ordained Sangha of Wat Pah Pong and its branch monasteries in ensuring a high standard of Vinaya training for monks, the opportunity for women to take robes as siladhara (holders of the precepts) and offering of teachings to householders.
We support the decision of Bodhinyana Monastery to embark on a vision of shared responsibility of the Dharma Vinaya between monks and nuns. The fourfold assembly of fully ordained Buddhist monks and Buddhist nuns, laywomen and laymen has been restored, honouring the original spirit of the Buddha's teachings and making accessible the Dharma to one and all.
SADHU! SADHU! SADHU!
Signed by Insight Meditation Teachers, Australia.
Anna Markey, Adelaide
Anton Eastick (Canberra)
Bobbi Allan, The Channon
Carol Perry, The Channon, NSW
Christopher Titmuss, Totnes, UK (visiting teacher)
Ellen Davison, The Channon, NSW
Jess Huon, Melbourne
Patrick Kearney, Woodford (Blue Mountains)
Radha Nicholson, Byron Bay, NSW
Sexton Burke, Bellingen, NSW
Will James, Bellingen, NSW