Accepting those with grattude to Buddha and Dhamma

by PJ Pilgrim, Malaysia, The Budhist Channel, Jan 25, 2010

I refer to the interview with Ajahn Sumedho where he described his position on bhikkhuni ordination. He explains that he opposes bhikkhuni ordination because he views the arguments in favour of re-establishing this order as premised on modern, western demands for gender equality, individual rights and social justice and fall outside the practice of Dhamma-vinaya.

Although I have great respect for the Ajahn, I disagree with his views on this issue. I believe his views, which may be representative of many in the western sangha, takes this position because they see this issue from a westerner's perspective. I believe this issue should be viewed on a more macro perspective, independent of the position or experience of any one section of the Sangha.

I am very supportive of the bhikkhuni sangha. I am an Asian male and have traveled to the West only once in my life for a period of less than a week. I do not see my support for bhikkhunis as anything related to western, modern or feminist agendas, even if they may be relevant. I see the initiative to re-establish the bhikkhuni order as a valid effort based on the Vinaya in accordance with the original intentions of the Buddha.

Today, most bhikkhunis are Asians, not westerners. Half of the four new bhikkhunis from the Perth ordination are Asians. Ordinations have largely taken place in Asia. The efforts to re-establish the bhikkhuni order is neither modern nor western; it is an effort to re-establish an ancient order sanctioned by the Buddha himself and which thrived over large parts of Asia for centuries, in accordance with the procedures set out in the Vinaya. It is therefore unfortunate that the western sangha continues to view the calls for the re-establishment of the bhikkhuni sangha as part of a modernist, western, socially engineered agenda.

I would suggest that the monks who choose to support bhikkhuni ordinations, be allowed to do so without condemnation or opposition. One can happily choose to play the violin, without opposing those who choose to play the piano.

Many of us have great gratitude to the Thai elders, and rightly so. But we should also be accepting of those who act out of gratitude and allegiance to the Buddha and his Dhamma.