Bhikkhuni Ordination

ajahn21Regarding the current Bhikkhuni ordination excitement in Ajahn Chah’s Sangha and the resulting “excommunication”  (LOL) of Bhikkhu Brahmavamsa, the following Dhammapada verse came to mind:

Other’s faults are easy to see
yet hard it is to see one’s own,
and so one winnows just like chaff
the faults of other people, while
hiding away those of one’s own
as crafty cheat the losing throw. Dhp. 252

When such a great number of contemporary monks show such a plain disregard for even the most basic precepts (think 10 sīla etc…), it seems almost like a joke that they would so vehemently oppose Bhikkhuni ordination pointing towards the Vinaya and tradition.

Personally, I yet have to meet any dedicated practicing monk who was absolutely against reinstating the Bhikkhuni ordination. Never met anyone who would dispute the Buddha’s decision to allow women to enter the order and find a spiritual home.

BTW, as Bhikkhu Bodhi made the case, legally it should be no problem at all – and practically speaking: The Ayya Khema tradition in Germany and several other female meditation centers in Sri Lanka perform Bhikkhuni ordinations for more than 10, 20 years now.

However, now that the Bhikkhunī Sangha has been reconstituted in Sri Lanka,
there is no longer any justification for using ordination by a Sangha composed solely of bhikkhus. If any woman wants to receive bhikkhunī ordination in the Theravāda tradition, she should receive training as a sikkhamānā and eventual bhikkhunī ordination in Sri Lanka itself. No doubt, in time the opportunity for bhikkhunī ordination will also spread to the West. [link]

My biggest wish would be that we do not just see women in robes or Bhikkhuni titles on conference papers but Arahant nuns,

very much like these:

Four times, five, I ran amok from my dwelling,
having gained no peace of awareness,
my thoughts out of control.
So I went to a trustworthy nun.
She taught me the Dhamma:
aggregates, sense spheres, & elements.
Hearing the Dhamma,
I did as she said.
For seven days I sat in one spot,
absorbed in rapture & bliss.
On the eighth, I stretched out my legs,
having burst the mass
of darkness.        Uttama Therī, [Thig.3.2]

On the topic: Bodhi Aranya

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  1. buddhanandabhikkhu

    Oy veh!

    Tempest in a teapot or ego gone a tad off. ewww

    Ajahn Sujato (also of Australia) has been a great champion of Bhikkhuni ordination. How is it that Sri Lanka seems to assert its claim to being the only place women can be ordained?

    Next week, we are hosting Ayya Medhanandi who, to the best of my knowledge, was ordained in England in a Community started by one of Ajahn Chah’s disciples.

    This is rather an embarrassment, especially using a christian word like “excommunicate” which is about as applicable to Buddhism as trying to call the Sangha the Buddhist “communion”.

    My best wishes go out to Ajahn Brahmavamso and his dedication to the understanding of Buddhism.

  2. theravadin

    Hi Buddhananda,

    Yes, the terminology used is very strange…like the recent Sri Lankan “high priest” idea to set up an index for books which mispresent “Buddhism” (

    But then again, in many ways, the “clergy” of some of these powerful (and politically very active) “priest” establishments just use terms which actually describe their thinking best – maybe without even realizing it :-)

    About Sri Lanka: They really always had a very “relaxed” Vinaya understanding when compared to Thailand and even Burma…so it was just a matter of time that some Sri Lankan monks where the first ones of all Southeast Asian Theravada countries (as far as I know) to support Bhikkhuni ordination. Bhikkhu Bodhi, I think, was referring to that fore-runner rule.

    Another thing is that many women always did just take up the robes and tried to live by the Bhikkhuni Vibhanga, but it is a more recent development, that they get support and recognition from the male Sangha and do try to practice the full Bhikkhuni Sangha and not just 10 sila.

    I know of at least one place in Sri Lanka where women are “ordained” for at least 15 years now. They keep the Vinaya very strictly (and regard it as a support for their intensive meditation practice) with robes, bowls and all the rest. Very impressive people, compared to which many institutionalized monks do not stand a chance, unfortunately, neither in sila, samadhi, nor pannya :-)

  3. buddhanandabhikkhu

    It’s a sad day for Buddhism. In my own mind, I cannot separate the Dhamma from Monastics (male and female) and lay-followers (male and female). Ajahn Sujato has written and spoken extensively on the role of women in Buddhist Monasticism. I found it be not only ‘just’ of interest to review his insights.

    I only wish to live as Buddhist a life as I am able while wishing others who say they are Buddhist would do the same.

    Some wag opined that it would take about 300 years for a truly Western Buddhism to emerge. Whoever that person was, well, s/he seems to be on to something. Perhaps we are witnessing the birth pangs and struggles of something far greater labouring to emerge.

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