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Bhikkhuni ordination - Dhamma Wheel

Bhikkhuni ordination

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Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:45 am


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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:51 am

an old letter from R. Eddison ( venerable Dhammanando).




Jinavamsa wrote:

J: Now, here is my question: when the first three bhikkhunis were ordinated originally, this could not have been through there being 3 earlier bhikkhunis to make up a quorum for such a sanghakamma, a community action. How was that accomplished? My guess is that it was through the Buddha and/or community performing with them an ordination ceremony. ("Come and see" or some other wording being used at the time, depending on what the situation/timing was, I would again guess.)

R: Yes, that seems to have been the case. There are actually several of the eight 'weighty principles' (garudhamma) that would have been impossible to implement immediately upon the ordination of Mahapajapati and the Sakyan ladies. The Vinaya Pitaka's narrative depicts a gradual implementation of these when suitable occasions arose.

J: What in vinaya is prohibiting such an ordination from occurring once again, until there are 3 Theravada bhikkhunis who could them ordinate other women into the Theravada bhikkhuni sangha?

R: Essentially it is by analogy with other Vinaya rules and procedures. Most of these evolved in stages. The modified form of a rule at each stage entirely superceded the previous form, and the form a rule had assumed by the time of the Buddha's parinibbana is taken as definitive.

Examples:

When the third parajika rule was originally laid down it only prohibited a bhikkhu from deliberately killing a human being. As the rule evolved its scope was extended to cover other killing-related actions, e.g. ordering someone to kill someone else, persuading someone to commit suicide, and counselling a woman to have an abortion. As each amendment to the rule was added, the earlier and laxer form of the rule was abandoned.

When the practice of meeting to recite the patimokkha on uposatha days was established, the former practice of meeting in silence was abandoned. Likewise, when the rule requiring dual ordination was implemented, the practice of ordination being granted by the bhikkhusangha alone was abandoned.

The only cases where the later form of a rule or procedure did not entirely supplant the earlier one are those in which the Buddha was exercising his own prerogative. For example, the Buddha established a procedure whereby a man who had formerly been a follower of some other teacher was required to undergo a period of probation before he could be accepted as a bhikkhu. Yet on some occasions the Buddha would make exceptions for particular individuals, giving them ordination at once just as he had done in the early days of his ministry.

It is noteworthy that there is no mention of bhikkhus in the Buddha's day making exceptions in such cases, or even thinking themselves qualified to do so.

So, if modern bhikkhus were to suggest that they could discard the definitive form of the rules about ordination and revert to an earlier phase in the rules' evolution, then they would be...

1) claiming a prerogative that even the Buddha's own disciples did not presume to claim for themselves.

2) setting a precedent that could conceivably be applied to other Vinaya rules.

As an example of the latter, one might imagine a liberal modernist bhikkhu with pro-abortion views proposing that the third parajika rule should be observed in its earlier form, where only killing with one's own hands was prohibited. This would allow him to preach his views and to counsel abortion (which at present he may not and would be disrobed if he did).

J: I assume there must be something about that. What could it be, and what is it status held to be?

R: Its status is very weighty. The Theravadin sangha tends to exercise great caution in establishing precedents and does so only when they can be clearly supported by the Vinaya.

In two and a half millenia I don't think there is even one single case of a Theravadin Vinaya master proposing that bhikkhus should revert to observing a Vinaya rule in its primitive rather than its definitive state.* I think it would be an extraordinary precedent if bhikkhus did so today.

Best wishes,

Robert

* There are, however, well-documented cases of Chinese Vinaya masters doing so during the Sung Dynasty, precisely in order to justify the ordination of bhikshunis by the bhikkhusangha alone. One modern Taiwanese Vinaya master has argued that the Chinese bhikshuni lineage became irreparably broken as a result of this policy.

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:54 am

Greetings Robert,

Good analysis. Indeed, it appears as if Bhikkuni Kusuma did not do sufficient research prior to making her claims, as the pitakas clearly provide evidence contrary to her opinion.

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Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:55 am

Last edited by robertk on Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:04 am

This is an old post from Venerable Dhammanando (hope he doesn't mind me reposting his letters ) tp ven sujato.
In [email protected], Dhammanando Bhikkhu <[email protected]> wrote:

Bhante,

Thank you for your response.
"
Sujato: That's an important point: the 'victors' are not necessarily the majority, but those on the side of Dhamma-Vinaya. Leaving aside qualms about how this event has been used to justify sectarianism."

Dhammanando: It might also be a good idea to leave aside this rather loaded word "sectarian," or at least restrict it to the sort of mental attitude conveyed by the words, "My sect is right because it's my sect." The word ceases to be of much value if one simply applies it to anyone who uncompromisingly adheres to what he believes to be sound doctrine and practice, or to a tradition that he believes embodies this.
The Buddha instituted procedures for varying degrees of ostracism and banishment to be applied to monks who were holders of wrong view or indulgers in various sorts of wrong conduct. Although the aim of these was to apply pressure to these monks to mend their ways, inevitably there would be situations where the banished monks were convinced that they were in the right and rather than seeking to be reconciled would instead turn the tables and banish their banishers. Assuming that the original act of banishment was well-founded according to Dhamma and Vinaya, the scrupulous monks' refusal to associate with the banished monks was simply the sangha taking the necessary steps to preserve its integrity. That it might appear to some as "sectarian" or "bigotted" or "sanctimonious" is just too bad.



Sujato"...
"Do you mean that the Vajjiputtakas' ten theses are notexplicitly stated in the Mahasa`nghika *paatimokkha*? If so, then this would not be surprising, for most of the ten have to do with how the training rules are interpreted, not with how they are stated, and not all of them even pertain to Paatimokkha rules.

"This is clearly not the case with the money rules, which are
stated quite clearly and explicitly in the Vinaya (and
Sutta)."


D: I did not mean to suggest otherwise. I was drawing a distinction between the Paatimokkha training rules and the Vinaya as a whole. My point was that from bare statements like...

"yo pana bhikkhu vikaale khaadaniiya.m vaa ...."

and...

"yo pana bhikkhu jaataruuparajata.m ugga.nheyya vaa ...."

one cannot draw any particular conclusion about what time is "wrong" for eating, or how wide is the scope of "gold and silver". The solution to these questions needs to be sought elsewhere in the texts. Therefore the fact that the Mahaasanghika version of the Paatimokkha may phrase the relevant rules the same way as the Pali offers no evidence as to what view they took on the ten Vajjiputtaka theses.

For example, a Mahaasanghika might have phrased NP 18 the same as in the Pali, but then glossed "goldand silver" as "large quantities of bullion to be used in land transactions or for the purchase of elephants" (or whatever).

So what I was asking Stephen was whether he was drawing his conclusion merely from the Mahaasanghikas' Paatimokkha or from their Vinaya exegeses.



Sujato: "As per my previous message, contra Stephen, the Mahasanghika Vinaya maintains an identical attitude to the Theravada over money. How far this reflects actual practice is of course a different matter.

"So far, no-one has tried to answer my question: since there are monks and nuns of all schools today who handle money; and other monks and nuns of all schools who do not handle money, should we not regard the ones who do not handle money as the true heirs of the ancient Theriyas, regardless of which school they belong to?"


Dhammanando:No, not on that account alone.

Proper Vinaya observance is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to make a monk a true heir of the ancient theras.

According to one Chinese pilgrim the monasteries of one of the Puggalavaadin schools (I think it was the Sammitiyas) had the strictest Vinaya observance in the whole of India. Should we on that account consider the Puggalavaadins to have been the "true heirs of the ancient Theriyas" ?

I trust that you will answer no and agree that a monk's view is also of some relevance here. So, there is Vinaya, and there is right view. A third condition, I would suggest, is a Theravaadin upasampadaa, but this is a view based upon the Pali Atthakathaas, so I suppose there is little likelihood of our agreeing on this point.

_________________________

In another post you wrote:


Sujato: "In the rule against using money, (Pali Nissagiya Pacittiya 18) Pachow pg 104 for Mahasanghika Vinaya does not note any relevant difference. He merely notes the Chinese translation 'sheng she shih she' for 'jaataruuparajata'. He also adds 'or has attachment for it', which presumably stands for the Pali 'saadiyeyya'. In other words, apart from translation issues, the rule seems to be identical."

Dhammananado: I have not read the Mahaasanghika recension of the Paatimokkha in any original language, so I'm dependent on Charles Prebish's translation of it (together with the Muulasarvaastivaada version) in his _Buddhist Monastic Discipline_. If his translation is accurate, then it seems to me that its differences from the Pali version are more substantial than you and Dr. Pachow suggest. Overall the impression I get is that the Muulasarvaastivaadins weren't much different to us in their Vinaya, but the Mahaasanghikas come across as a downright sleazy bunch. They remind me of the pigs in Orwell's _Animal Farm_, who kept altering the rules to make life more comfortable for themselves ("No animal shall sleep in a bed ... with sheets."). At first sight their rules don't seem much different to ours, but examine each one closely with alawyer's attention to detail and you will often find that some tiny addition, or subtraction, or just the alteration of a single wordhas changed the training rule entirely, either to make it easier to observe or in some cases almost impossible to transgress.

Let's take a look at three of the examples in your post...

QUOTE
"The other rules involving money are NP 19 (trading precious things) and NP 20 (buying and selling), and in both of thes the other schools, including Mahasanghika, add no variations of interest."

No variations of interest!? Good gracious, in Prebish's translation of NP 20 the Mahaasanghikas have inserted a loophole as wide as the Mersey Tunnel:

"Whatever monk should undertake activity in various sorts of sales *in gold and silver*, that is a ni.hsargika-paacattika."

The Pali says nothing about gold and silver. If the Mahaasanghika version means using gold and silver as the means of exchange, then it would permit activities like bartering that are prohibited in the Pali. If it means only that a bhikkhu may not sell gold and silver, then it would permit almost everything that is prohibited in the Pali ! If the latter is the case, then just by the insertion of one compound word the Mahaasanghikas have whittled down the obligation to almost nothing.

"Nor is NP 10, about how to appoint a kappiya for receiving funds, significantly different."


I disagree. In this case too the Mahaasanghikas' phrasing completely undermines the rule. In all recensions of the Vinaya the last part of NP 10 begins in essentially the same way, with the monk asking the sangha steward for a robe up to three times and if that fails then hinting by standing in silence up to six times. The Pali version then continues:

tato ce uttari.m vaayamamaano ta.m ciivara.m
abhinipphaadeyya, nissaggiya.m paacittiya.m

...then, [having stood silently up to six times],
if upon exerting himself further that robe is
obtained [by the monk], it entails expiation with
forfeiture.

So in this version (and in that of the Muulasarvaastivaada) the monk, having stood silently up to six times, is prohibited from making *any further effort* to obtain the robe. But the Mahaasanghika version only prohibits him from *asking* further. There is nothing to stop him from exerting himself by other means, such as the various forms of hinting. The Mahaasanghika monk can carry on pestering the sangha steward till the end of the kalpa and he still won't have broken any rule.


sujato
"Finally Pacittiya 84, the ratanapaacittiya (about picking up valuable items) is also substantially identical, except the Mula- sarv, evidently by mistake, adds an exception for when in the house of a householder (whereas the exception should be when in a monastery only)."


D: The Mahaasanghika version seems to have a much more serious flaw: it leaves out the word "nikkhipitabba" from the final clause. So, it would appear that if a lady were to mislay her diamond tiara in a Mahaasanghika monastery, a resident monk might pick it up and give it to his mother as a Christmas present without breaking any rule. He is only obliged to pick up the tiara, not to look after it for the owner as a Theravaadin bhikkhu must.

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:10 am

Thanks for sharing some orthodox Classic Theravada views on the other schools, RobertK.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:23 am


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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:25 am


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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:30 am

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby Bankei » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:34 am

Thanks for collecting this Robert as the old esangha is now dead. There was some good debates on their.
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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:35 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:47 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:50 am

Last edited by robertk on Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby Bankei » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:59 am

I would also like to point out that the Bhikkhuni who went from Sri Lanka to China to establish the lineage there were from the Mahisasaka vinaya lineage. Somehow the vinaya they used in China changed sometime in the distant past.
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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:06 am


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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby Bankei » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:54 am

Hi Robert

Do you believe the Bhikkhu lineage is valid? If so which Nikaya?
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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:10 am


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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:25 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby robertk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:40 am


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Re: Bhikkhuni ordination

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:49 am

Hi Robert,
I don't mean restart the bhikkhuni order with a wink and a blind eye, which I think you may of thought I meant, but rather roses are red & violets are blue, similar plants in some respects but different in others.

a new order rather than a restarted dead one. its own distinct history but the same rules, maybe (slightly) different clarification on procedures, as Thanissaro points out in the letter on Dhammalight, some of the procedures aren't necessarily valid from a legalistic point of view, but they are essentially both the same thing, a higher ordination for women within Theravada, which conforms to the Dhammavinaya.


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.


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