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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.
Metta,
Ajahn Thanasanti

Dear friends,
I invite you to consider signing this petition http://new.ipetitions.com/petition/bhikkhuni-ordination/

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.

 

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Present Moment – Appropriate Response

There are times in life when the situations one finds oneself in present challenges that do not have simple solutions. When what one has been familiar with suddenly becomes non-existent, the challenge in practice is to accept things the way they are and find an appropriate response. Often there can be an overlay of the “way it use to be” and “should be” obscuring what is. It is the meditator’s way to recognize such obstacles for what they are and return to what actually is and knowing how one can respond that leads to balance and well-being.

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Dipa Ma, The Story of a Great Master

Dipa Ma, The Story of a Great Master
March 25, 1911 – September 1, 1989

I first heard about Dipa Ma in 1979 while I was a student at the University of California at Santa Cruz. I was taking a course with Jack Engler and the stories he told about Dipa Ma’s depth of suffering and level of transformation after she began meditating left a deep impression in me. I had a deep and strong aspiration to meet her and I did. In honor of the anniversary of her death and in celebration of her life, may I recount some of what I have learned about this remarkable woman and how she touched my life.

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Love, Belonging and Existential Emptiness

I live in no man’s land, right next to a piece of road that is unincorporated by the county. Sandwiched between the cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, it seems to belong to no one.

In England I was part of a large community of monastics in a well-established tradition with excellent support. I left all this behind when I returned to the US. I live without a community of other Buddhist monastics near by, where wearing robes and living as an alms mendicant continue to be foreign to most people I encounter. As a female Buddhist monastic in a secular world, I live in my own no man’s land. I sometimes ask, where do I belong?

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Changing Tides

We live in a time where we have little faith. Our leaders have spent too long saying things that are untrue; using distortions to promote the privilege of some at the expense of others; promoting policy that makes no sense. Discernment has seen this for what it is. We have listened to rhetoric and party lines, hearts numbed and despairing. For many it has seemed like this is the way it is and the way it is going to be.

What happens when there is a leader who speaks in language that resonates? What happens when what is being said is congruent with values that are held as true? What happens when there is an ability to name dishonesty, and greed for what it is and say that to hold the safety of a society above its core values is to be taken as false? What happens when there is both the willingness and strategies that may begin to address the global and social issues at hand?

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