an excellent read, Bhante!
Just a few quotes:
As I have said before, the inability to be ordained as bhikkhunis is not a matter
exclusive to women—the same case can occur for men. If the bhikkhu order dies
out, men still have the right to be ordained, but they won’t be able to do so. It is the
same for both genders. The Theravadan bhikkhuni order died out. Eventually, the
bhikkhu order will die out too, although we don’t know when this will happen or
due to what circumstances.
This is not an issue requiring a claim to women’s rights. To do so stems from a
misunderstanding. Why make such claims?—the right for women to ordain as
bhikkhunis still exists. The question is where women can be ordained—who has the
authority to give them ordination?
Therefore, I say this matter is being acted on too rashly, with a lack of
adequate clarity. It is the future bhikkhunis who will encounter a problem. This first
group of bhikkhunis may not doubt the validity of their ordination because their
determination is so strong, but later generations of bhikkhunis may doubt
themselves and not be at peace.
We need to show loving-kindness towards those future ordination candidates. We
need to consider the well-being of women who come to be ordained in the long
term. One shouldn’t simply think: ‘I have been successfully ordained. I follow my
own convictions and ideas on this matter, which I have been able to bring to
completion.’ But in the end the people who incur the consequences are other
If those women who come forward to be ordained do not clearly see the
legitimacy of their ordination and harbour unresolved doubts, they will face a
danger and have issues to resolve. How will they be able to speak with confidence?
Therefore, clarity and precision are of utmost importance. If one truly cares for
their well-being, one will act openly and clearly. These women will then not have to
struggle with confusion and anxiety.
To use an analogy, it is as if someone were to say: ‘I would like to apply for a
position to work in the Siam Air Conditioning Company.’ This company, however,
went out of business thirty-eight years ago. That person then complains and asks
why he is not allowed to work for this company.
One can reply to that person by saying that if he has the proper credentials, he
can apply for a position, but at this time no such company exists. To fulfil this
desire one must first reestablish a company with this name. If this is accomplished
the person can apply for a position. The problem does not lie with the person—no
one is blocking this person. The problem lies with the fact that this company
doesn’t presently exist; it has not yet been reestablished.
Another example is that of a pupil or the parents of a pupil who say that they like
the seventh grade of elementary school. ‘We want our child to study in 7th grade.
Why can’t our child study in 7th grade? Why is he not given the right to study in 7th
One can answer: ‘Your child has the right to study in 7th grade if he fulfils the
criteria, but the 7th grade of elementary school has been done away with for about
‘So what can we do so that our child can study in 7th grade?’ The answer is: ‘You
can encourage the government to reestablish the 7th grade of elementary school.
The problem does not rest with your child—no one is keeping your child out. The
problem is that the 7th grade has been dissolved; there is thus no 7th grade for your
child to enrol in.’
Whether the Siam Air Conditioning Company or the 7th grade of elementary
school will be restored is dependent on various conditions, some of them similar,
some not. For example: money and capital, government policy, the needs and
desires of the public, the suitability according to the present time, etc.
For the restoration of the bhikkhuni sangha, however, a crucial stipulation
besides the wishes of women and of society is the Buddha’s regulation in regard to
the ordination of bhikkhunis. The specific regulation here is that the bhikkhuni
sangha is entrusted with the authority to perform the first stage of bhikkhuni
ordinations. In the case that the bhikkhuni sangha no longer exists, who has the
power to take this authority away
Personally, based on my desires, I wish to see a legitimate Bhikkhuni Theravadan Order being reestablished, but after reading this book and scanning the web and the Vinaya-Discussion abroad on that subject I can't see one yet. This makes me sad and I want to make clear that I was hoping to find a more optimistic and pro-bhikkhuni-ordination picture. I'm sympathetic of Ajahn Brahm and think of him as a wonderful teacher, but I fear that through this (group?) ordination more confusion and future suffering has been created. But who am I... I wish that one day a unanimous decision within the Theravadan Sangha as a whole can be found, a true and acceptable way for all. But I fear there won't be such a thing.