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Ordination for Bhikkhunis....

federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Interesting. Thank you for sharing. I know that in Thailand it will a very difficult change because of the all male Supreme Sangha and its semi-governmental status, and the government is pretty much all male, too.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Jobs for the boys. * Roll-eyes * ....

    Honestly, I'm truly struggling to see how they can maintain this for any indefinite period of time.

    While they might be holding onto the premise that they are supreme in ruling on such matters, as was pointed out in the video, different groups/locations are autonomous.

    They can refuse to recognise the ordinations all they want....They're going to find themselves pretty isolated in the not-too-distant future.

    Is my view....

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited June 17

    This issue of not recognizing ordinations for women seems to pertain mainly to Thailand or to Theravada Buddhism? Except there was an example of a nun who was ordained in Sri Lanka, and attained a leadership role there, with public support. So maybe it's a Thai or SE Asian problem?

    The film omits the work that Taiwan's ordained nuns have had in ordaining nuns throughout the Buddhist world. They've ordained the few Tibetan nuns who have been able to travel to Taiwan, and I don't know if the Taiwanese ordained nuns have travelled to the Himalayan region or India to ordain nuns, but if that's happened, it was on a very small scale. Perhaps Thailand's Buddhist officials don't recognize ordinations granted by Mahayana authorities? I'd like to see a film focusing on Taiwan's efforts in this regard, which have been going on for 20-30 years, at this point.

    In Ladakh, there is a proverb: "In Enlightened thought, there is no male or female. In Enlightened thought, there is no near and far." Although this speaks to the heart of the Buddha's teachings about no-self and the illusory nature of reality, nuns are still treated prejudicially in Ladakhi society. Nunneries don't receive as much support in donations of food and money as monasteries, so women have to work to earn their keep; they hire themselves out to farmers, or work in their parents' fields in exchange for food. And while it's considered prestigious to go into the monkhood, and to have a son in the monkhood, girls and young women are told they're being foolish and selfish to aspire to be a nun.

    There's a good book that discusses all aspects of nuns' status and life in Ladakh; Being a Buddhist Nun, by Kim Gutschow, if anyone's interested.

    Shoshinlobster
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @federica said:

    ...

    Honestly, I'm truly struggling to see how they can maintain this for any indefinite period of time.

    While they might be holding onto the premise that they are supreme in ruling on such matters, as was pointed out in the video, different groups/locations are autonomous.

    They can refuse to recognise the ordinations all they want....They're going to find themselves pretty isolated in the not-too-distant future.

    Is my view....

    I'm not speaking in favor of their system, but to answer your question about how they can maintain this (at least in Thailand):

    1. Thai government is strongly dominated by the Thai military...and guess who makes up the Thai military...men.

    2. Thai temples are not autonomous from the government. For example, if an adult monk is in a scandal of having sex with an adult lay woman, he is often arrested.

    3. What do the everyday people of Thailand want? I have talked with some men and women about this, and I have yet to find any who would prefer to go to a female monk for ceremonies. They seem to have no problem with a woman being ordained, but they would still go to a male monk for guidance.

    I have met several Thai mae chee (nuns). Such wonderful people. They are frustrated (in a very gentle way) over the situation. And in fact, that is another of the issues -- Thai Buddhists mostly believe in a high degree of passiveness.

    But, just to put some balance in it, I know of a Christian church here in Colorado Springs that "went out of business" when the male minister left and a female minister took over. The congregation pretty much deserted the church until it was no longer economically feasible to continue the church.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @vinlyn interesting indeed. Yes, we still seem to have a problem with accepting in some circles that women can be leaders. I find that interesting because in a spiritual realm in my experience women seem to have the ability to be more open than men. Not all, of course. Just very generally speaking. But also what I have noted is that people who are real and living out of their true nature attract those who are prepared for that. People who are not real themselves and live out of their fake/ego nature are uncomfortable with those who are more real. I'm not saying in the case of the church that the female minister was more real. Perhaps it was the other way around. But I've sensed that multiple times, that the people who are the most fakey and uncomfortable with who they are have a real problem with those who are not. In the US of course we definitely have continuing issues with accepting women can hold any positions of authority. So many people are still hung up on the idea that women have a "place" and it's anywhere but at the top of anything or in any leadership role. Crazy to me!

    In a city near us, they have a female Rabbi, and she has done quite well. But it has taken time, and the congregation (if that's the right word) changed greatly when she came into leadership. Many left. But many new people showed up.

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @karasti said:
    In a city near us, they have a female Rabbi, and she has done quite well. But it has taken time, and the congregation (if that's the right word) changed greatly when she came into leadership. Many left. But many new people showed up.

    If it's the synagogue I have read about, the issue is many members disagreed because in Orthodox Judaism all Rabbis must be male. In other paths of Judaism - Liberal, Reform and Conservative - female Rabbis are more acceptable. In Reform it's been considered a norm for a long time.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    This is in Duluth, MN so it's unlikely it's been widely/internationally mentioned. Actually I just went to look her up and she has moved to another place. But this has her bio on their page if you scroll down, Amy Bernstein is her name. No idea if they would be considered liberal Judaism, but seems likely if she is in the PNW which is generally pretty liberal. She was the Rabbi in Duluth for 14 years, and often made the local news but was always highly regarded.
    http://ourki.org/who-we-are/

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    As I was thinking more about this topic, it occurred to me that there may be Thais who say -- The mae chees should stop clinging to the desire to be monks.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    This issue of not recognizing ordinations for women seems to pertain mainly to Thailand or to Theravada Buddhism? Except there was an example of a nun who was ordained in Sri Lanka, and attained a leadership role there, with public support. So maybe it's a Thai or SE Asian problem?

    The film omits the work that Taiwan's ordained nuns have had in ordaining nuns throughout the Buddhist world. They've ordained the few Tibetan nuns who have been able to travel to Taiwan, and I don't know if the Taiwanese ordained nuns have travelled to the Himalayan region or India to ordain nuns, but if that's happened, it was on a very small scale. Perhaps Thailand's Buddhist officials don't recognize ordinations granted by Mahayana authorities? I'd like to see a film focusing on Taiwan's efforts in this regard, which have been going on for 20-30 years, at this point.

    In Ladakh, there is a proverb: "In Enlightened thought, there is no male or female. In Enlightened thought, there is no near and far." Although this speaks to the heart of the Buddha's teachings about no-self and the illusory nature of reality, nuns are still treated prejudicially in Ladakhi society. Nunneries don't receive as much support in donations of food and money as monasteries, so women have to work to earn their keep; they hire themselves out to farmers, or work in their parents' fields in exchange for food. And while it's considered prestigious to go into the monkhood, and to have a son in the monkhood, girls and young women are told they're being foolish and selfish to aspire to be a nun.

    There's a good book that discusses all aspects of nuns' status and life in Ladakh; Being a Buddhist Nun, by Kim Gutschow, if anyone's interested.

    There are two different lines of monastic vows between the Mahayana and Theravada. So that is part of the reason given for not letting Mahayana nuns bestow ordination on Theravada practitioners.

    They say the unbroken Vinaya lineage for Theravada nuns died out and it can't be restored. I don't understand all the legalistic arguments pro and con but I don't see why rules can't be bent or exceptions made in the spirit of getting women ordained again. I support Ajahn Brahm's decision to ordain women, he makes some kind of rule based argument that allows it but he's received a lot of heat from the patriarchy.

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @karasti said:
    This is in Duluth, MN so it's unlikely it's been widely/internationally mentioned. Actually I just went to look her up and she has moved to another place. But this has her bio on their page if you scroll down, Amy Bernstein is her name. No idea if they would be considered liberal Judaism, but seems likely if she is in the PNW which is generally pretty liberal. She was the Rabbi in Duluth for 14 years, and often made the local news but was always highly regarded.
    http://ourki.org/who-we-are/

    They're a reconstructionist temple (their words) so yes they are liberal 😊😊

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @vinlyn said:
    As I was thinking more about this topic, it occurred to me that there may be Thais who say -- The mae chees should stop clinging to the desire to be monks.

    Doubtless some Thais might think this way...

    Well, two things: First of all, they don't want to be monks, they want to be nuns. It seems that either way, the door is being held fast shut to them...If they were men, it wouldn't be, would it..?

    Secondly, their desire is based on a dedicated wish to devote themselves to Practice.
    What is the refusal based on? it seems to be standing on rocky foundations in shifting sands, because whatever 'logical' argument they bring up, it seems there is a more valid one to demolish it....

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    In reality is based entirely on male dominance. No question about it. The excuses the Supreme Sangha gives are nothing more than excuses.

    There is one other factor, however. I think there is a worry about sexual contact between men/women. I was on a flight to northern Thailand one year, and sitting one row up and to the left was a monk. Because it was a small plane, there was only one flight attendant, and she was female. He didn't know how to fasten his seat belt, and she could not help him because it would have required touching him. She was quite flustered. Finally another Thai man came to the rescue. The touching thing is a VERY strict rule, and as the monk I am meeting with weekly explained recently to me when I asked about it, if a woman touches him -- even accidentally -- there is a ritual he must go through as part of his daily chanting to cleanse himself of a defilement that he should have avoided.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Well, it has been said by many, (and I echo this) that this issue is more one for men, than women. It's a shaming blame-thing: if a man is aroused, it must be the woman's fault.

    No mention is made of how men should exercise self-control (This is a wildly general observation. I know, meticulously dissected, this does not apply to all men and all situations). But it seems to be the issue here.

    If women are ordained, then it will obviously lead to indiscretion, deliberate or otherwise.

    Other Monasteries do not seem to have this problem.

    And if I am not mistaken there have been some incidents (although I'm not sure where) of monks being guilty of assault and of rape.
    It would seem the discipline would be too much for some.
    In which case, the blame - in such a culture - would be laid uniquely at the woman's feet.

    Hozan
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It seems to me that much of Thailand's way of dealing with sexuality is not healthy in any way so it makes sense it would extend into their monastic lives as well. Despite being such a Buddhist country, they are one of the worst places for child sex trafficking, for example. They don't exactly hold healthy cultural views of sex which of course then leads to unhealthy views of women as well. We have related problems in the US because of our puritanical Christian values that so many hold. And as usual, those who are the most vocal about those topics are always the ones you find have abused children or cheated on their wives etc. I would bet that a lot of individuals in Thailand hold unhealthy views as a result of their culture and this leads to problems yet no accountability. I would not be surprised to find that Thai monastics run into similar problems as Catholic priests or "family values" politicians. They are so tight about their sexual views because of how they are taught and it results in abnormal expressions. A few years ago a ring of Thai monks were convicted of running a child sex ring. Not surprising. I would guess there is quite a lot of that out of the sexual repression of their society/culture.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @federica said:
    Well, it has been said by many, (and I echo this) that this issue is more one for men, than women. It's a shaming blame-thing: if a man is aroused, it must be the woman's fault.

    No mention is made of how men should exercise self-control (This is a wildly general observation. I know, meticulously dissected, this does not apply to all men and all situations). But it seems to be the issue here.

    If women are ordained, then it will obviously lead to indiscretion, deliberate or otherwise.

    Other Monasteries do not seem to have this problem.

    And if I am not mistaken there have been some incidents (although I'm not sure where) of monks being guilty of assault and of rape.
    It would seem the discipline would be too much for some.
    In which case, the blame - in such a culture - would be laid uniquely at the woman's feet.

    In my time visiting and then living in Thailand, every once in a while there was a monk scandal involving sex. Humans are humans, even when they're monks. There will always be a few who are deficient in behaviors ranging from sex to temple funds.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    That is true, but it seems that monastics in any tradition are suffering the same troubles. Buddhism, Christianity and otherwise. We don't really know if they do it because they suppress their normal human feeling (and take it out on people who they feel are weaker than them in the hopes they then won't get caught) or if they had urges and thought joining monastic orders would quell them. Though within Buddhism so many are monks as children it's hard to believe they entered due to their sexual thoughts. It does make one wonder how many of them were abused as children as well.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    After my session of teaching "better" English to the 2 monks today, as we were just chatting I gently rose this issue. They immediately sent to the fall back "official" explanation that the mae chee line died out so it is impossible to revive it. Sigh.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Another article of interest.
    How long can the male bastion keep up the facade of tradition and dig its heels in? Something's got to give....

  • yagryagr Veteran

    @karasti said:
    Yes, we still seem to have a problem with accepting in some circles that women can be leaders.

    I am writing, although these days most of that writing occurs in my head, about the characters in a story I shared here (The Master Apprentice for any who remember). In it, they find themselves in the United States in the nineteen fifties. One of the issues that my heroes run into repeatedly as they try to navigate high school and society in general, is that they often treat women and members of other minority classes as equals. The push back, which sometimes becomes violent, comes from both sides.

    Imagine, a young man in high school in the fifties, giving a young woman your phone number and asking her to give you a call when she's free for coffee. Or perhaps asking a young black woman to be part of a study group you were creating.

    We might be able to see the problems that would have created using hindsight. These groups might respond suspiciously to being treated equally and frankly, felt like they didn't deserve it. I suspect in another sixty or seventy years, we'll be able to look back and see more easily where we fall short today - not so much in how we treat women and minorities, but how they treat and think of themselves.

    I think that last line is the most difficult problem, though perhaps not the greatest one.

    karastiShoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Sadly though, this kind of discrimination - and worse - has been going on for millennia; worse still, it is still prevalent in many countries.
    Sadly, it's going to take more than a few decades in the future for any inroads to be made, particularly in countries where females are most certainly at best, second-class citizens, at worst mere numbers and a countable chattel.

    It is the only discrimination that is entirely global to one degree or another, and has no frontiers, borders, boundaries, classes, social levels or, it seems, limitations.
    Even within the sectors of those who claim to be discriminated against, they are themselves guilty of this.

    lobster
  • yagryagr Veteran

    @yagr said:

    • not so much in how we treat women and minorities, but how they treat and think of themselves.

    One more thing to add on this thought. I belong to two forums - this one and a mental health forum where I interact with others who have DID which, as anyone who has read my posts know, I have been diagnosed with. I'm not really shy about my dx, though I was - terribly so. Most of the progress I've made in that department came with your help here rather than the mental health forum.

    Here, after my admission, you all more or less continued to treat me with the same dignity, love and respect you had always given me. On the DID forum, most see themselves as less than, damaged, unworthy, etc., as a result of their dx. As a result, they tend to hide from others, nurture a low self-esteem and overall think less of themselves. I don't.

    I work in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States. I have two security badges - one with my name, picture, birthdate, and federal identification number, and another with Sonseearea's name, photo, birthdate and federal identification number. (yeah federica, that one picture you I shared with you). No one treats me differently. There's a lot of power in being comfortable in one's own skin and knowing that you are not less than. Likewise, there's a lot of power in not being comfortable in one's own skin and believing that you are less than.

    I wouldn't dream of suggesting that society in general and men in particular haven't done much to shape women's opinion of themselves as less than but not feeding that lie will cause its death.

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