I must profess, my sympathies lie with Ajahn Brahm on this, at first blush. The whole post is interesting on this issue that has been much on the mind of many Western monastics in recent years. Thoughts? See Ajahn Brahm’s interesting biography here:
The popular monk Ajahn Brahm has been disciplined by the Thai forest monastery sangha founded by the Venerable Ajahn Chah because he was involved in ordaining four women as nuns, or bhikkunis, in a ceremony on October 22 at his Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Australia. The Wat Pah Pong Sangha’s action of excommunication (revoking Bodhinyana’s status as a branch monastery) has resulted in a firestorm of controversy in the Theravada Buddhist world.
The ordination of nuns is illegal under Thai Buddhist law because the order of nuns became extinct sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries, after which, the argument goes, no new bhikkhunis could be ordained since there were none left to preside over an ordination. However, nuns currently may be ordained in the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka, and also in Mahayana Buddhist countries, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and China where the religious authorities are not so conservative. According to an official statement from the Thai forest sangha, Ajahn Brahm’s decision to ordain nuns without permission “may cause wrong understanding among Buddhists throughout the world, and division of views regarding this issue.” Called to Wat Pah Pong a week after the ordination, Ajahn Brahm was told the ordination at his monastery was invalid and the senior monks asked him to recant. He refused .. | Read on
Ajahn Brahm (above). His monastery’s website does not appear to have posted anything as yet and says succinctly: ‘Ajahn Brahm is currently teaching the Dhamma.’
douglas | meditation circle member
Do these women continue to be nuns, or does someone have the authority to rescind the ordination?
Not sure. This doesn’t happen much in the Buddhist world with which I am familiar. But this issue has been roiling for awhile, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
The story game me something to think about along the lines of who owns a ‘religion’, transmission of Buddhist practise to the West. I think it parrallels the recent controversies in ‘Christian’ churches on ordination of women and ‘gay’ bishops. Thank you for keeping the website running Doug, and bring this story to our attention. Some lovely pictures througout here.
Thanks, Chris. Your observation is spot on.