Nun's ordination

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tellyontellyon
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Nun's ordination

Post by tellyontellyon » Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:43 pm

The Karmapa has indicated that he is going to start the process of giving nuns full ordination:
http://kagyuoffice.org/gyalwang-karmapa ... rdination/


This is a link to the thread in the Kagyu forum: http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... on#p269756



My question is about how this discussion is developing across the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Although the Karmapa is taking a lead on this issue, it is not only a Kagyu issue and relates to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism?

Does anybody have any news or feedback about this issue?

I myself am looking forward to the full ordination being awailable to all nuns in the Tibetan traditions.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by tellyontellyon » Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:35 pm

:?

Perhaps this is a non-issue for many people... but it is such a big change, I can't help noticing that there doesn't seem to be much said about it? Or at least I can't find much.
Oh well.
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Malcolm
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:56 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:The Karmapa has indicated that he is going to start the process of giving nuns full ordination:
http://kagyuoffice.org/gyalwang-karmapa ... rdination/


This is a link to the thread in the Kagyu forum: http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... on#p269756



My question is about how this discussion is developing across the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Although the Karmapa is taking a lead on this issue, it is not only a Kagyu issue and relates to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism?

Does anybody have any news or feedback about this issue?

I myself am looking forward to the full ordination being awailable to all nuns in the Tibetan traditions.

Well, the problem is that they will not be Mulasarvastivadin bhikṣunis, since that ordination never even reached Tibet and died out in India. They will be Dharmaguptaka bhikṣunis, which is not our tradition. It is fine, but we have to be clear what is actually happening. We will have an odd situation where bhikṣus will be ordained according to one Vinaya, and bhikṣunis according to another.

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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by yan kong » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:24 am

Malcolm, is there no way to revive the Mulasarvastivadin
Nuns lineage? Did they not revive the Theravadin nuns ordination in Sri Lanka?
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:29 am

yan kong wrote: Nuns lineage? Did they not revive the Theravadin nuns ordination in Sri Lanka?
In the absence of any living lineage of bhikṣuṇīs, a bhikṣu has the right to ordain new bhikṣuṇīs.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:31 am

Please also see the following article on the subject:

http://www.chibs.edu.tw/ch_html/chbj/13/chbj1344.htm
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Jim1 » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:02 am

Indrajala wrote:Please also see the following article on the subject:

http://www.chibs.edu.tw/ch_html/chbj/13/chbj1344.htm
Well it looks like the Dalia Lama is certainly trying to do his part. I always liked him. :thumbsup:
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:07 am

I don't think people understand the vinaya enough to realize ordaining bhikṣuṇīs won't address the issue of gender inequality in the sangha. According to vinaya law, bhikṣuṇīs are subordinate to the bhikṣu sangha and require both their supervision and sanction. This has to do with the administrative karma proceedings. Whether these are actually followed or not aside, the actual vinaya system relegates females to a subordinate position, so it begs the question why advocate for a system that lowers you in the name of equality and freedom?
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Jim1 » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:26 am

Indrajala wrote:I don't think people understand the vinaya enough to realize ordaining bhikṣuṇīs won't address the issue of gender inequality in the sangha. According to vinaya law, bhikṣuṇīs are subordinate to the bhikṣu sangha and require both their supervision and sanction. This has to do with the administrative karma proceedings. Whether these are actually followed or not aside, the actual vinaya system relegates females to a subordinate position, so it begs the question why advocate for a system that lowers you in the name of equality and freedom?
Oh that ain't right. I think in general though he tends to be very pro women's rights.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens ... emale.html
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:56 am

Indrajala wrote:
yan kong wrote: Nuns lineage? Did they not revive the Theravadin nuns ordination in Sri Lanka?
In the absence of any living lineage of bhikṣuṇīs, a bhikṣu has the right to ordain new bhikṣuṇīs.
No. Otherwise Tibetans would have done this long ago. This issue has been under discussion since at least the 15th century among Tibetans, and the general consensus has been there is no way to revive the Mulasarvastivada bhikshuni vows.

For example Gorampa Sonam Senge adresses this issue in his sdom gsum kha skong.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by plwk » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:04 am

Well Indrajala, as you may already know, that many sources have stated that the very idea of a bhiksuni order was considered as a great advancement back then, for their time, so it's really tough to expect them to come to our present standards back when few would even allow women to advance much in spirituality and hierarchy. And it's not that simple to just change things which have lineage and doctrinal issues either unless they intend to follow the radical example of Japan in ditching the Vinaya in favor of the Bodhisattva.

The Eight Garudharmas has been a source of sticky contention for many quarters and regarded as a later inclusion even. But let's face it, even in bodhisattva ordination scenarios, nothing much has dented the male patriarchy pride in ensuring that women are put in their traditional place, whatever that may mean. Look at most East Asian countries for instance like Japan, Korea and China where plentiful examples of how women are not allowed on exclusive male playgrounds like Koyasan & Hieisan until the late 1800s (I still recall seeing that pathetic little 女人堂 for women last year at Koyasan) and even in Taiwan where the female Dharma Masters outnumber the male and yet their grasping on Confucian ethics and Vinaya meant the usual deference of the former to the latter despite holding the Bodhisattva Precepts.

Malcolm is spot on for the reminder on what's really happening. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition has to date yet to decisively resolve the ongoing issue of reintroducing the complete Mulasarvastivadin bhikṣuni process and have over the years resulted in many obtaining higher ordination in the Chinese Dharmaguptaka side. I recall on reading a past Sakyadhita conference on this issue, where HHDL has mentioned on how his hands are tied up and the need for serious action and consideration is now in the court of the senior prelates. And the OP is right on how the Karmapa cannot act alone as this involves the entire Tibetan Buddhist community on the mechanics and future of the complete process of female ordination.

It's still a long road to Rome, so to speak...

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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:26 am

Malcolm wrote: No. Otherwise Tibetans would have done this long ago.
I don't know if the following scripture is available in Tibetan, but it does state the following:
  • 《大愛道比丘尼經》:「阿難復問佛言:『便當令比丘作[比丘尼]師耶?』佛言:『不也。當令大比丘尼作師。若無比丘尼者,比丘僧可。』」

    Mahāprajāpatī Bhikṣuni Sūtra: "Ānanda further asked the Buddha, 'Is it then permissible for a bhikṣu to act as a master [to a bhikṣuṇī]?' The Buddha said, 'No. It should be that a great bhikṣuṇī acts as master. If there are no bhikṣuṇīs, then the bhikṣu sangha is permitted [to carry out the ordination].'”
Elsewhere in the Chinese canon the following convention is established:
  • 《沙彌尼離戒文》:「佛告諸弟子:汝慎莫妄度沙彌離,女人姿態難保悅,在須臾以復更生惡意,……自非菩薩、阿羅漢,不可度尼。」

    Sūtra on Śrāmaṇerī Precepts (沙彌尼離戒文):“The Buddha spoke to the disciples, 'You must be careful not to carelessly ordain śrāmaṇerī-s. It is difficult to guard against delighting in a woman's charming presence. In a moment one will further produce unwholesome thoughts. … If one is not a bodhisattva or arhat, ordination of nuns may not be carried out.'”
Thus it is understood in the absence of any living lineage of bhikṣuṇīs, a bhikṣu has the right to ordain new bhikṣuṇīs, but the presiding preceptor should be a bodhisattva or arhat.

I believe a similar understanding exists in Theravada, which legitimized Ajahn Brahm's decision to ordain bhikkunis despite protests from the Thai sangha.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:08 am

plwk wrote:And it's not that simple to just change things which have lineage and doctrinal issues either unless they intend to follow the radical example of Japan in ditching the Vinaya in favor of the Bodhisattva.
You can't have your orthodoxy AND women's rights / gender equality in Buddhism. I could point to countless examples in Buddhist literature from India that denigrate women and continually remind the nuns that they're subordinate to the male sangha. Feminism and gender equality are incompatible with the vinaya, unless you rewrite it. The Brahma Net bodhisattva precept set actually is egalitarian because, in theory, the order of precedence is determined by seniority, not gender or social status, so a female slave can sit ahead of a king (at least on paper), but as you're aware this isn't implemented and arguably never has been.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:13 am

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: No. Otherwise Tibetans would have done this long ago.
I don't know if the following scripture is available in Tibetan, but it does state the following:
  • 《大愛道比丘尼經》:「阿難復問佛言:『便當令比丘作[比丘尼]師耶?』佛言:『不也。當令大比丘尼作師。若無比丘尼者,比丘僧可。』」

    Mahāprajāpatī Bhikṣuni Sūtra: "Ānanda further asked the Buddha, 'Is it then permissible for a bhikṣu to act as a master [to a bhikṣuṇī]?' The Buddha said, 'No. It should be that a great bhikṣuṇī acts as master. If there are no bhikṣuṇīs, then the bhikṣu sangha is permitted [to carry out the ordination].'”
Elsewhere in the Chinese canon the following convention is established:
  • 《沙彌尼離戒文》:「佛告諸弟子:汝慎莫妄度沙彌離,女人姿態難保悅,在須臾以復更生惡意,……自非菩薩、阿羅漢,不可度尼。」

    Sūtra on Śrāmaṇerī Precepts (沙彌尼離戒文):“The Buddha spoke to the disciples, 'You must be careful not to carelessly ordain śrāmaṇerī-s. It is difficult to guard against delighting in a woman's charming presence. In a moment one will further produce unwholesome thoughts. … If one is not a bodhisattva or arhat, ordination of nuns may not be carried out.'”
Thus it is understood in the absence of any living lineage of bhikṣuṇīs, a bhikṣu has the right to ordain new bhikṣuṇīs, but the presiding preceptor should be a bodhisattva or arhat.

I believe a similar understanding exists in Theravada, which legitimized Ajahn Brahm's decision to ordain bhikkunis despite protests from the Thai sangha.
There is no such text in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya. If there were, the question of ordaining bhikshunis would not be an issue and the Tibetans would have restored the bhikshuni ordination six hundred years ago or more.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:18 am

Malcolm wrote: There is no such text in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya. If there were, the question of ordaining bhikshunis would not be an issue and the Tibetans would have restored the bhikshuni ordination six hundred years ago or more.
In today's world where Tibetans have access to Indian literature not included in the Tibetan canon, perhaps they can refer to such texts in their discussions and easily resolve their dilemma.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:21 am

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: There is no such text in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya. If there were, the question of ordaining bhikshunis would not be an issue and the Tibetans would have restored the bhikshuni ordination six hundred years ago or more.
In today's world where Tibetans have access to Indian literature not included in the Tibetan canon, perhaps they can refer to such texts in their discussions and easily resolve their dilemma.
Yeah, it just does not work like that. The Mukasarvastivada bhikshuni ordination is dead and cannot be revived.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Indrajala » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:24 am

Malcolm wrote: Yeah, it just does not work like that. The Mukasarvastivada bhikshuni ordination is dead and cannot be revived.
Their loss then. They have access to scriptures which are supposed to be buddhavacana and would resolve the issue at hand immediately, but then maybe that's too easy a solution for a debate stretching back centuries, as it would make the parties concerned look bad.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:30 am

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Yeah, it just does not work like that. The Mukasarvastivada bhikshuni ordination is dead and cannot be revived.
Their loss then. They have access to scriptures which are supposed to be buddhavacana and would resolve the issue at hand immediately, but then maybe that's too easy a solution for a debate stretching back centuries, as it would make the parties concerned look bad.
In genral, tibetan vinayadharas are quite resistant to mixing amd matching vinayas. Tnere simply is no precedent for such a revival in the Mulasarvastivada literature. This is why the Karmapa is having nuns ordained according to the Dharmaguptaka lineage. Fortunately the Karmapa is satisfied it is intact and valid.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by tellyontellyon » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:47 pm

This is another interesting article with quotes from HHK:
http://nunscommunity.net/womens_issues.html
e.g.:
A major objection lodged against dual sangha ordination has been that it would entail a “mixing” of traditions, potentially raising questions as to which vinaya lineage the bhikshunis would then hold, or which procedural rules should prevail during the ceremony itself. But His Holiness dismisses the gravity of this concern. “I do not think this is a major problem,” he said. “Why? There are many sources, but basically Buddhism evolved into 18 different sects, but they are all pure. They all proceed according to the Dharma. Each school has a different vinaya, and according to their own vinaya and rituals, the vows can be generated. This means it is not a problem to hold dual sangha ordination with different vinaya lineages.”

In such a scenario, the vows that the new bhikshunis receive would be Mūlasarvāstivāda, the tradition followed by Tibetan Buddhism. According to Mūlasarvāstivāda ordination procedures, “the bhikshuni vows actually come from primarily the bhikshu sangha, not the bhikshuni sangha,” His Holiness explained. “Since in the dual sangha ordination, the bhikshu sangha will be from the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition, this means the bhikshuni vows will be from the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition.”
His Holiness points out that there have been nuns given ordination in Tibet, even though these isolated ordinations didn't end up with a bhikshuni sangha being formed, so this a historical precedent for nuns being ordained by monks alone even in Tibet.

I know that it has been said that if it was possible it would have been done before, but perhaps what's possible and what gets done in practice are not always the same things. There is a conservatism and respect for how things have been done in the past, that I respect, but it can sometimes get in the way unnecessarily. Social and political tendencies can sometimes get in the way.... so I don't think we just just rely on what has been done in the past.
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Re: Nun's ordination

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:56 pm

tellyontellyon wrote:
His Holiness points out that there have been nuns given ordination in Tibet, even though these isolated ordinations didn't end up with a bhikshuni sangha being formed, so this a historical precedent for nuns being ordained by monks alone even in Tibet.
It is considered a broken ordination, even when it was performed, and was highly controversial. Such ordainees cannot themselves ordain novices in turn.
...so I don't think we just just rely on what has been done in the past.
The consensus has come down this: in order for there to be an order of nuns in Tibetan Buddhism, they must receive a living lineage from other nuns. Luckily, this still exists in Chinese Buddhism, in the Dharmaguptaka order. The main difficulty here is that these nuns are not and never will be Mulasarvastivadin nuns. But on the face of it, that is not what these women care about (i.e. which order into which they are ordained), they want to be bhikṣunis.
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