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关于阿姜布拉姆擅自决定剃度比丘尼一事的二三事

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发表于 2020-11-24 01:04:34 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 nanadipa 于 2020-11-24 01:05 编辑

เรื่องเกี่ยวกับ อดีตลูกศิษย์ หลวงพ่อชา พระอาจารย์ พรหม พระวิสุทธิสังวรเถร
(ปีเตอร์ พรหมวํโส) บวชภิกษุณี และถูกตัดออกจากบัญชี ลูกศิษย์ หลวงพ่อชา และ สายคณะสงฆ์ไทย หลายปีที่แล้วครับ

Some articles about Ajan Brahm's ordination for Bhikkhunis in Australia few years ago ..

关于阿姜布拉姆(前 泰国 阿姜查 的澳洲弟子)擅自决定剃度比丘尼一事的二三事:

Ajahn Chandako 参加2009年澳洲珀斯比丘尼授戒律
Ajahn Chandako on the Bhikkhuni Ordination in Perth 2009

作者:Ajahn Chandako
佛教频道(buddhistchannel)2009年11月5日

这封信最初是作为给西澳大利亚佛教协会会员的公开信而写的,但也可以与其他有兴趣的人分享。

新西兰奥克兰-西澳大利亚佛教协会的问候成员。

原因是由于阿姜·布拉姆尊者最近的作为和态度。这是关于如何在僧团中做出决定以及关于尊重长者和同辈的。

10月22日,在没有广大的僧团寺院的事先支持下,比丘尼授戒在Bodhinyana寺院举行了。结果,世界各地产生了巨大的分歧。对此授戒的相关问题充分的了解需要作一些解释。

我对此事的相关人员都非常了解。十年前,我在Bodhinyana寺院住了两次雨安居,在这段时间裡,我非常尊敬阿姜·布拉姆(Ajahn Brahm)尊者。阿姜布拉姆是个好朋友。我曾与阿姜·瓦雅马(Ajahn Vayama)一起去印度旅行,而我与阿姜·苏迦托(Ajahn Sujato)相识已有17年。在过去的一年中,我结识了艾雅·塔达洛卡(Ayya Tathaaloka),而Ayya Sucinta 则留在了我们新西兰的寺院中。在与所有人交谈或收到有关此次授戒的电子邮件后,我认为我了解他们的观点和动机。

就个人而言,我完全支持女性以比丘尼的身分修习佛法的愿望,如果那是她们所希望的。今年6月,我在美国加利福尼亚教了一个比丘尼寺院指导禅修,目的是帮助她们接受适当的培训,并表明我对她们在佛教中争取女性平等权利的艰难追求。我为比丘尼通讯撰写了一篇支持文章。我从泰国为她们安排了必需品,并邀请她们花一些时间在我们新西兰的寺院裡静修。所以我绝对是不反对比丘尼的。

但是我认为这次比丘尼授戒是一个严重的错误。为什么?

首先,此次比丘尼授戒的保密性严重损害了与其他僧团的信任度。我们作为国际寺院社区的正常运作方式是基于开放和讨论。但是,参加了此次比丘尼授戒事件的一些尼师和僧侣告诉我,他们被要求对此次授戒活动保密。他们说,这是刻意的保持静默,以减少其他人提出反对的可能性。直到几天前才发佈公告,而其馀的僧团当时仅仅是间接发现的。阿姜·布拉姆(Ajahn Brahm)没有告知他的泰国导师(泰国僧团的首席执行长老)或阿姜查(Ajahn Chah)传承的负责人隆波连(Luang Por Liem)。许多人认为他们被故意蒙蔽了。

其次是时机。在短短几个月内,自四年前的上一次WAM(World Abbots Meeting,世界主持集会)以来,我们传承中的大多数高级僧侣和戒尼们会集中开会,比丘尼戒律将会是要讨论的主要议题之一。在将举行比丘尼授戒前,阿姜·布拉姆和澳洲珀斯的僧团有效地切断了有关该议题的任何讨论,并自行做出了决定。一个寺院的决定不仅会影响该寺院,还会影响世界上所有其他分支寺院。阿姜·布拉姆的决定已经对我们其他人产生了重大的有害影响。在诸如比丘尼戒律之类的敏感问题上单方面进行而未谘询其他高级僧侣或尼师的做法,是公然无礼和麻木不仁的。

这裡的主要问题实际上不是比丘尼授戒。事实是,全世界绝大多数西方高阶僧侣都对比丘尼授戒的想法表示同情,而在亚洲上座部佛教的主流国家中,这一点也正在取得进展。如果阿姜·布拉姆等待与WAM的同僚讨论这个问题,那麽现实的希望是,比丘尼授戒将很快会被接受。这样,整个僧团本可以以和睦的精神一致地往前推进。我强烈怀疑在Bodhinyana的这一授戒事件将使这一主流接受进程倒退很多年。

如果您知道诸如Luang Por Sumedho,Ajahn Sucitto,Ajahn Pasanno,Ajahn Tiradhammo,Ajahn Candasiri,Ajahn Amaro等僧人,您就会知道他们是明智,富有同情心和宽容的人。尤其是Luang Por Sumedho和Ajahn Sucitto已投入大量时间来为女性提供高质量的修道培训。因此,对那些反对此次比丘尼授戒的人,描述为反对比丘尼或者性别歧视并使其永久化是不准确的,而且肯定是无助的。使用两极分化的语言试图将佛教徒分为赞成与反对派,保守与自由派,好的与坏的派,这是对更为複杂的情况的不合理的过度简化。

11月1日,比丘尼授戒事件仅一周后,在阿姜查传承的寺院巴蓬寺(Wat Pah Pong)召集了一次会议,并邀请阿姜·布拉姆澄清和解释发生了何事。这不仅仅是一次泰国和西方高阶僧侣的聚会。实际上,仅几天之内就有160名泰国最高阶的森林派僧侣来自全泰国各地参加这次讨论。这是一个公开会议,向所有希望参加的人开放。直到实际发生事件的细节得到确认,阿姜查传承的僧团决定让阿姜·布拉姆做选择,是将比丘尼授戒事件作为无效,还是脱离了阿姜查僧团传承。他选择了第二个选项。

通过以他的处理比丘尼授戒事件的方式,阿姜·布拉姆将阿姜查传承的僧团置于一个别无选择的位置,只能将他的寺院从阿姜查传承中开除。这是非常可预见的。泰国的高阶僧侣告诉我的是,泰国有一项法律规定,未经泰国大长老理事会(Mahathera Samakom)同意的比丘尼授戒确定为非法。尽管阿姜·布拉姆不在泰国,但如果他希望与泰国僧团保持联系,即使他认为关于比丘尼之法是不公正的,他也应遵守泰国僧团的法律。阿姜·布拉姆在接受泰国国王(类似于被任命为主教)的昭坤(Chao Khun)称号后,也同意了遵守泰国法律和大长老理事会的规定。致力改变泰国法律虽具有建设性,但明知而违反法律,和保留泰国的传承是不相容的。

当被从阿姜查传承僧团中开除是如此明显地可预见时,人们又想知道为什麽还要按照这样的方式举办比丘尼授戒。似乎阿姜·布拉姆故意强行运作此事件,既为了脱离并独立于阿姜查传承,又使他与僧团的其他成员完全脱节。

参加阿姜查僧团会议的长老是当今世界上最好的森林派僧侣。有些是真正的禅修大师,他们绝对没有从世俗的角度来对待这个问题。他们大多数是佛教教义的杰出典范僧侣:他们毕生致力于修行佛法,睿智而又谨慎。最近有关此事件的所有信函都已翻译成泰文,因此他们对此问题有充分的了解。虽然他们都是男性,或者几乎都是男性,因此有些人可能会觉得这是一个性别歧视运动,旨在压制妇女的平等权利,而事实并非如此。阿姜·查在泰国建立了规模最大,训练有素的戒尼社区之一,他的继任者阿姜·连(Ajahn Liem)在僧团会议上说,他一生中很大一部分的时间都是给女性教导解脱之道。

阿姜·苏迦托(Ajahn Sujato)也是这一系列活动的积极参与者。但是,由于他已经宣布过自己独立于阿姜查传承和Bodhinyana寺院,因此他的行动和言论被认为与此事件不相关。据我所知,阿姜·布拉姆和阿姜·苏迦托从未尝试在阿姜查僧团会议上提交过他们的议案,也没有在WAM会议上讨论过此议题。如果他们有提出,并且确实被判定为绝对无望解决,那麽也许像这样举行授戒似乎才看起来是合理的。

对于阿姜查传承的所有西方住持者(他们通常对僧团事务有非常独立的看法),在任何事情上都完全团结起来是罕见的。对于他们所有人来说,谴责阿姜·布拉姆的行为都是史无前例的。他们中的许多人已经成为阿姜·布拉姆(Ajahn Brahm)的私人朋友30多年了。对于他们而言,取消参加WAM会议,并经历改变航程和牺牲机票的所有困难,表明问题的严重性;然而,从未听闻过要从阿姜查传承中开除一个西方国家的分支寺院,这种事情从未发生过。只有从不表现出任何悔过之心的极端行为,才值得全球其他所有寺院住持联合作出这样的回应。

在此过程中,阿姜·布拉姆和阿姜·苏迦托没有表现出任何妥协的意愿。他们寄给僧团的电子邮件似乎是居高临下的,致力于制造分裂,指责其他人是性别歧视者,并试图将僧团归并到实际上不存在的不同阵营。那些不同意授戒的人被说成是一种边缘保守派分子。而实际上,更准确地说,上座部佛教僧侣中有95%都认为此比丘尼授戒的方式是一个严重的错误。

不幸的是,我相信这一事件对所涉及的尼众的危害更大,而不是有益的。例如,尼众们可能会变得更加孤立,很少有寺院会欢迎或会认可她们。在纷争之中举办了授戒并不是以比丘尼为生的最吉祥开始方式,甚至一次授戒多个比丘尼在比丘尼戒律中都是确定违律的。遗憾的是,她们的行为可能会对上座部佛教传统对妇女接受完整授戒产生不利影响。同样,所有这些都是很容易预测和避免的,但是所涉及的尼众似乎很少或根本不知道这种授戒会带来负面影响。

随著事情的发展,越来越清楚的是,真正的问题并不是在于尼众。如果涉及的四名女性的福利是首要问题,那么阿姜·布拉姆就可以轻易地利用自己的影响力与其他非阿姜·查传承的僧侣一起举办比丘尼授戒。那样就可以实现他们完整授戒的目标。它本来可以独立于阿姜查僧团之外发生的,也不会引起抗议浪潮。主流可能将朝著完全可接受的进程会发展下去,像我这样的僧人会很乐意支持和认可这样授戒。

因此,问题就来了:“为什麽要在阿姜·布拉姆的寺院裡进行这个授戒?” 授戒前几天,我与艾雅·塔达洛卡(Ayya Tathaaloka)进行了长时间的交谈,以了解正在发生的事情并讨论一些可预见的结果,以便女众能够做出明智的决定。通常,这些女众不知道此授戒会带来任何重大问题。我建议尽可能选择独立于阿姜·查僧团之外举行授戒。我认为这是可能缓解局势的同时,又实现其目的的一种方式。

第二天,艾雅·塔达洛卡回电话说,女众们一致投票赞成在Dhammasara(不是阿姜查的分支寺院)举行授戒,而不是让阿姜·布拉姆在授戒仪式上担任正式戒师角色。她们相信,这仍将构成有效的比丘尼授戒。此决定需征求阿姜·布拉姆和Bodhinyana僧人的同意。然后,艾雅·塔达洛卡和Ajahn Vayama前往Bodhinyana与阿姜·苏迦托讨论此事,并致电当时在英国的阿姜·布拉姆。艾雅·塔达洛卡说,女众们无法说服高级僧侣同意她们的替代主意,因此女众们同意按原计划继续举行。

如果授戒独立于Bodhinyana寺院举办,那麽这将不能算是阿姜·布拉姆的功劳。尽管我不知道他们这样行为背后的动机,但我与许多人交谈过,他们认为,对阿姜·布拉姆和阿姜·苏迦托来说,重要的是,他们将作为复兴了上座部佛教传统中比丘尼传承的人而载入史册。这仅仅是猜测,但是如果这是真的,那么在某些方面,女众们本身就被这一巨大的野心利用了。

在比丘尼授戒前的几天,我写信给住在Dhammasara的尼众们:

“女众们有一个非常正确的观点,就是许多高阶僧侣根本不想处理比丘尼授戒的问题,缺乏认真的关注一直是不屑一顾和有害的。好吧,现在你们已经受到全世界的关注,这对你们好!此时,你们仍然可以选择。如果你们推迟受戒,几乎每个人都会赞扬你们的克制,每个人都必须认真讨论如何将比丘尼纳入僧团的主流。现在所有人都得面对它。如果泰国的阿姜查寺院给予官方的推进,那么我们所有人都准备好为珀斯的比丘尼受戒提供支持。如果你们现在继续进行受戒,我想实际上会是一团糟。人们对阿姜斯·布拉姆/阿姜斯·苏迦托与欧洲寺院和泰国之间的不和谐已经感到非常难过。阿姜·布拉姆正在让这种状况更加严重。”

在世界范围内将阿姜查僧团联系在一起的最大优势是相互倾听,相互信任和共同决定问题。这是佛陀教导的榜样。如果在阿姜·查(Ajahn Chah)去世后,每座寺院只是简单地决定走自己的路,独立遵循其住持各自的意见,而无视同辈和长老的意见,那将导致传承的虚弱和脱节。

阿姜·查建立的公共架构可以容纳广大差异的各种僧侣,尼众,不同观点和生活方式,但阿姜·布拉姆已超越了公认的限制。对此问题感到悲伤的原因之一是,这是阿姜·查传承系统中的西方寺院第一次决定开除出传承体系。如果阿姜·布拉姆等到WAM会议通知我们的僧团其他成员他更愿意独立出去,那虽然被认为是令人遗憾的,但却是勇敢而又光荣的。取而代之的是,阿姜·布拉姆这次处理比丘尼授戒事件的方式,在寺院和居士社团导致了许多不和谐,不信任和不良情绪。

这封信只是从我的角度而写的,因此请您接受它即如此。我不是代表僧团而写。澳洲珀斯僧团和居士社团的孤立状况,因没有太多机会听到不同的观点,可能会导致某些特定观点的强化,而至少我们之间的交流有所增加。如果我在这封信中说了冒犯任何人的内容,我深表歉意,并请您原谅。

With metta,
Ajahn Chandako

----------------------
Ajahn Chandako于1990年在泰国森林传统中的阿姜查传承中出家受戒为佛教僧人。Ajahn Chandako现在是新西兰奥克兰附近的Vimutti佛教寺院的住持。

Ajahn Chandako on the Bhikkhuni Ordination in Perth 2009

by Ajahn Chandako, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 5, 2009

This letter was originally written as an open letter to the members of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, but it may also be shared with others who are interested.
Auckland, New Zealand -- Greetings members of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

The reason is because of the recent actions and attitude of Venerable Ajahn Brahmavamso. It’s about how decisions are made in the Sangha and about respect for elders and peers.
On October 22nd a bhikkhuni ordination was held at Bodhinyana Monastery without the prior support of the wider monastic Sangha. As a result there have been huge ramifications felt around the world. Fully comprehending the issues surrounding the ordination takes some explanation.

I know the people involved pretty well. I lived at Bodhinyana Monastery for two rains retreats ten years ago, and throughout that time I had very high regard for Venerable Ajahn Brahm. Ajahn Brahmali is a good friend. I have been to India with Ajahn Vayama on pilgrimage, and I have known Ajahn Sujato for 17 years. In the past year I have gotten to know Ayya Tathaaloka, and Ayya Sucinta has stayed at our monastery in New Zealand. Having spoken with or gotten emails from all of them concerning the ordination, I think I understand their perspectives and motivations.

Personally, I fully support women’s aspirations to practice the Dhamma in the form of a bhikkhuni if that is their wish. In June of this year I taught a bhikkhuni monastic training retreat in California in order to help them receive proper training and to demonstrate my support for their difficult quest for equal rights for women in Buddhism. I wrote a supportive article for a bhikkhuni newsletter. I arranged and brought requisites for them from Thailand, and invited some to spend time on retreat at our monastery in New Zealand. So I’m definitely not anti-bhikkhuni.

And yet I feel this particular ordination was a serious mistake. Why?

First of all, the secrecy with which the ordination was planned and carried out has significantly damaged trust levels with the rest of the Sangha. The normal way we operate as an international monastic community is based on openness and discussion. However, some of the nuns and monks who participated in the ordination told me that they were requested to keep the event secret. They said it was intentionally kept quiet in order to reduce the possibility of other people voicing objections. There was no public announcement until a couple of days beforehand, and the rest of the Sangha only found out indirectly at that time. Ajahn Brahm did not inform his preceptor (the acting head of the Sangha in Thailand) or the head of the Ajahn Chah lineage, Luang Por Liem. Many people feel that they were intentionally deceived.

Secondly is the timing. In just a few months, most of the senior monks and nuns from our tradition would have come together for the first time since the last WAM four years ago. Bhikkhuni ordination was one of the main topics to be discussed. In holding the ordination beforehand, Ajahn Brahm and the Sangha in Perth effectively cut off any discussion on the issue and decided it for themselves. What one monastery decides does not simply affect that monastery, but affects all the other branch monasteries around the world as well. Ajahn Brahm’s decision has already had major harmful effects on the rest of us. To proceed unilaterally on such a sensitive issue as bhikkhuni ordination without consulting other senior monks or nuns came across as blatantly disrespectful and insensitive.

The main issue here is not actually bhikkhuni ordination. The fact is, the vast majority of the senior western monks worldwide are sympathetic to the idea of bhikkhuni ordination, and progress in that direction was also being made in the mainstream of the Asian Theravada Buddhist countries. If Ajahn Brahm had waited to discuss the issue with his peers at the WAM, there was a realistic hope that bhikkhuni ordination would soon be accepted. Then the entire Sangha could have moved forward in unison with a spirit of harmony. I strongly suspect that this ordination at Bodhinyana will set this process of mainstream acceptance back many years.

If you know monastics like Luang Por Sumedho, Ajahn Sucitto, Ajahn Pasanno, Ajahn Tiradhammo, Ajahn Candasiri, Ajahn Amaro, etc, you know that they are wise, compassionate and tolerant people. Luang Por Sumedho and Ajahn Sucitto in particular have invested a huge amount of their time to make high quality monastic training available to women. So creating and perpetuating portrayals of those who opposed this ordination as anti-bhikkhuni or sexist is simply not accurate and certainly not helpful. Using polarizing language that tries to divide Buddhists into factions of pro and con, conservative and liberal, good and bad is an unreasonable oversimplification of a far more complex situation.

On November 1, only a week after the bhikkhuni ordination, a meeting was called at Ajahn Chah’s monastery, Wat Pah Pong, and Ajahn Brahm was invited to clarify and explain what had taken place. This was not just a meeting of a few senior Thai and western monks. In fact, 160 of the most senior Thai forest monks came from around the country with only a few days notice to take part in this discussion. It was a public meeting that was open to anyone who wished to attend. Once the details of what actually took place were verified, the Ajahn Chah Sangha gave Ajahn Brahm the choice of either considering the ordination as null and void or being cut off from the Ajahn Chah tradition. He chose the second option.

By handling the bhikkhuni ordination in the way that he did, Ajahn Brahm put the Sangha of Ajahn Chah in a position where they basically had no choice but to remove his monastery from the Ajahn Chah lineage. This was very predictable. What I have been told by senior monks in Thailand is that there is a law in Thailand that makes it illegal to ordain bhikkhunis without the consent of the Great Council of Elders, the Mahathera Samakom. Although Ajahn Brahm does not reside in Thailand, if he wishes to retain a connection to the Thai Sangha, he is expected to abide by Thai Sangha laws. Even if he considered the bhikkhuni law unjust, in accepting his Chao Khun status from the King of Thailand (similar to being appointed a bishop), Ajahn Brahm agreed to uphold Thai law and the regulations of the Great Council of Elders. Working to change that Thai law would be constructive, but knowingly breaking the law and remaining part of the Thai lineage are incompatible.

When being removed from the Ajahn Chah Sangha was so obviously predictable, one again wonders why the ordination was handled the way it was. It seems that either Ajahn Brahm intentionally forced the issue in order to be able to go independent from the Ajahn Chah lineage; or that he was very much out of touch with the rest of the Sangha.

Those present at the Ajahn Chah Sangha meeting were some of the best forests monks in the world today. Some are true meditation masters and were definitely not approaching the issue from the standpoint of worldly ego. Most are monks who are excellent examples of the Buddhist teachings: wise and circumspect people who have dedicated their lives to practicing the Dhamma. All of the recent correspondence concerning the ordination had been translated into Thai, so they were well informed on the issues. They were however all, or nearly all, men, so some might get the impression that this was a sexist movement to repress equal rights for women even though this was not the case. Ajahn Chah set up one of the largest and best trained nuns communities in Thailand, and his successor, Ajahn Liem, said at the Sangha meeting that he has also spent a great portion of his life teaching the path of liberation to women.

Ajahn Sujato has also been a very vocal participant in this series of events. However, since he had already declared himself independent of the Ajahn Chah lineage and Bodhinyana Monastery, his actions and statements have been considered tangential to the main issue. To the best of my knowledge, Ajahns Brahm and Sujato have never tried to present their case at an Ajahn Chah Sangha meeting or discuss it at the WAM. If they had, and it really was clearly a hopeless dead end, then maybe an ordination like this might seem reasonable.
For all the western abbots of the Ajahn Chah lineage (who often have very independent views on Sangha matters) to be totally united on anything is rare. For all of them to condemn Ajahn Brahm’s actions is unprecedented. Many of them have been personal friends of Ajahn Brahm for over 30 years. For them to cancel their attendance at the WAM and to go through all the difficulty of changing their flights and/or sacrificing their airfares shows how serious the matter is; however, for a western branch monastery to be removed from the Ajahn Chah lineage is unheard of. Nothing even close to this has ever happened. Only extreme behavior by someone who showed no remorse would warrant such a response by the rest of the abbots worldwide.

During this process Ajahns Brahm and Sujato displayed no willingness to compromise. Their emails to the Sangha seemed condescending, focused on creating divisiveness, accusing others of being sexist and trying to pigeonhole the Sangha into distinct camps that in fact do not exist. Those who did not agree with the ordination were spoken of as a fringe conservative element, when realistically it would be more accurate to say that 95% of the ordained Theravada monastics feel that the manner in which this ordination was held was a serious mistake.

Unfortunately, I believe that this ordination will be more harmful to the nuns involved than helpful. For example, the nuns will likely become even more isolated. There will be very few monasteries where they will be welcome or their ordination recognised. Ordaining in the midst of discord is not the most auspicious way to begin a life as a bhikkhuni, and even ordaining more than one bhikkhuni at a time is an offense in the bhikkhuni Vinaya. Regrettably, their actions will likely have detrimental effects on the mainstream acceptance of full ordination for women in the Theravada tradition. Again, all of this was easily predictable and avoidable, and yet the nuns involved seemed to have little or no idea that there would be negative effects resulting from this ordination.

As this drama unfolded, it became increasingly clear that the real issue was not really the nuns. If the welfare of the four women involved was the primary concern, Ajahn Brahm could have easily used his influence to arrange a bhikkhuni ordination elsewhere with other non-Ajahn Chah monks. That would have achieved their aim of full ordination. It could have all happened independent of the Ajahn Chah Sangha, and it would not have resulted in waves of protest. The progress within the mainstream towards full acceptance could have continued, and monks like myself would have been happy to support and recognise the ordination.

So the question then arises, 'why did this ordination have to take place at Ajahn Brahm's monastery?' A few days before the ordination, I had a long conversation with Ayya Tathaaloka to find out what was happening and to discuss some of the predictable outcomes, so that the nuns could make an informed decision. Generally, the women were not aware that there would be any major problems arising from this ordination. I suggested the option of having the ordination as independent from the Ajahn Chah Sangha as possible. I thought that this might be a way to achieve their aims while defusing the situation.

The next day, Ayya Tathaaloka phoned back to say that the nuns had voted unanimously to have the ordination at Dhammasara (not a branch monastery of Ajahn Chah) and not to have Ajahn Brahm play an official role in the ordination. They were confident that this would still constitute a valid bhikkhuni ordination. This decision was subject to the agreement of Ajahn Brahm and the monks at Bodhinyana. Ayya Tathaloka and Ajahn Vayama then went to Bodhinyana to discuss the matter with Ajahn Sujato and to phone Ajahn Brahm, who was in England at the time. Ayya Tathaloka said that the nuns were not able to convince the senior monks of their alternate idea, so the nuns agreed to go ahead as originally planned.

If the ordination had been independent of Bodhinyana Monastery, Ajahn Brahm would not have been able to take credit for it. Although I cannot know the motivations behind their actions, many people I have spoken to think that what was important to Ajahns Brahm and Sujato was that they go down in history as the ones who revived the bhikkhuni order in the Theravada tradition. This is only speculation, but if this is true, then in some ways the nuns themselves seemed to have been used as pawns in this greater ambition.

In the days before the ordination I wrote to the nuns staying at Dhammasara:

“The nuns have a very valid point in that many of the senior monks have simply not wanted to deal with the issue of bhikkhuni ordination, and the lack of serious attention has been dismissive and harmful. Well, now you have the world's attention. Good on you! At this point you still have a choice. If you hold off on the ordination, almost everyone will praise your restraint, and everyone will have to seriously discuss bringing bhikkhunis into the mainstream of the Sangha. It's currently in everyone's face. If Ajahn Chah’s monastery in Thailand gives the official go ahead, then we are all ready to happily support bhikkhuni ordination in Perth. If you go ahead with the ordination now, I think it will be a big mess, actually. There is already much sadness about the disharmony between Ajahns Brahm/Sujato and the European monasteries and Thailand. Ajahn Brahm is digging his heels in even deeper.”

One of the great strengths that holds the Ajahn Chah Sangha together worldwide is a sense of listening to each other, mutual trust and deciding issues together. This is the example set by the Buddha. If, after Ajahn Chah passed away, each monastery had simply decided to go its own way, independently following the opinions of their various abbots while disregarding the views of peers and elders, that would have led to a weak and disjointed lineage.

The communal framework set up by Ajahn Chah can accommodate a wide diversity of monks, nuns, views and lifestyles, but Ajahn Brahm has taken it way past the accepted limit. One of the reasons there is sadness around this issue is because this is the first time any of the western monasteries of Ajahn Chah has decided to split away from the group. If Ajahn Brahm had waited until the WAM to inform the rest of our Sangha that he would prefer to go independent, that would have been considered regrettable but brave and honourable. Instead, the way Ajahn Brahm has handled this bhikkhuni ordination has led to much disharmony, mistrust and bad feelings, both in monastic and lay communities.

This letter is written merely from my perspective, so please accept it as just that. I am not writing as a representative of the Sangha. The isolation of the Perth Sangha and lay community can lead to a reinforcing of particular views without having much opportunity to hear different perspectives, so at least communication among us has increased. If I have said anything in this letter that has caused anyone offense, I apologise and ask for your forgiveness.

With metta,

Ajahn Chandako
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Ajahn Chandako was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1990 in the Thai Forest Tradition in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Ajahn Chandako is now the abbot of Vimutti Buddhist Monastery, near Auckland, New Zealand.

See also : Why Ajahn Brahmavamso was excluded from the Wat Pa Phong Sangha


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