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Buddhism and women: Calling for Bhikkhuni ordination and gender equality in the Forest Sangha

Dear friends,

Thanissara just sent me this letter. Having known her as a nun at Amaravati and having just come out of the community from which these events have been occurring, I would encourage you to read the letter below and sign the petition if you too are concerned and agree with the points.
Ajahn Thanasanti

Dear friends,
I invite you to consider signing this petition

You will see that it is an expression of concern and disagreement in view of:
the lack of acknowledgment regards the legitimacy of the recent Perth Bhikkhuni ordinations undertaken by Ajahn Brahm by the Forest Sangha elders Ajahn Brahm’s consequent expulsion and the delisting of Wat Bodinyana from the lineage of Ajahn Chah the un-negotiated 5 point agreement placed upon the nuns at Chithurst and Amaravati monasteries by the UK male elder council. The UK nuns signed under pressure, in an atmosphere of secrecy, having been made clear to them that no further ordinations would happen without their consent to these five points (which mirror the garudhammas but go further in disallowing them from seeking Bhikkhuni ordination)
This is challenging territory. In the transmission of the Buddhadhamma in the West, in which the monastic community plays a vital role, a culture of dissent is not usually encouraged, or necessarily seen as conducive for practice. However there are moments when right speech is not silence, but is challenge and a respectful invitation into dialogue. I believe in the light of these recent events, this is such a moment.



Over 30 years, inspired by meeting Ajahn Chah in the UK in 1977, and consequently visiting Ajahn Chah’s first Western nun Kum fa at Wat Nanachat; further since ordaining as one of the first four nuns in the UK in 1979, I have been party to both the extraordinary blessings of the dharma transmission of this lineage, but also very sadly, the painful and complex ambivalence regards the placement of nuns within this same order. This has had repercussions for women lay practitioners as well as implications for the wider community.

With the recent events mentioned above, I believe we have reached a possible ‘zeitgeist’ moment when much that has been held in the shadows can come to light. At the very least, a positive outcome of this petition and further letters to the Western elder council would be an open space for considered, wise and compassionate dialogue within the four fold sangha regards the issues contained within the petition.

Thank you for your kind attention
in dhamma

This site on Face Book ‘Women & The Forest Sangha’ has relevent links to all sides of the discussion posted on its Discussion Board.

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