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Context, context, context
September 13th, 2015

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Context, context, context…

   Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu has majorly contributed to the diffusion of Theravāda, he is the translator of many resources and the author of many explanations accessible at For this, his views should be "taken into consideration"… but this doesn't imply "necessarily agreed with".
   He's recently degraded himself by rejecting the reintroduction of the order of nuns with On Ordaining Bhikkhunīs Unilaterally  (saṅ;dl=get246). 

   The saṅgha is meant to be four-fold (monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen). In opposition to the clear desire of the Buddha though, Ṭhānissaro's analogy (the religion is like an elephant with a severed leg [the nun order]. A doctor wants to reattach the leg, even though it has long been dead, and his tools [intentions, means] for doing so are contaminated. If the operation goes forward, it will hasten the elephant’s death) just favours the traditionally sexist status quo over Wisdom, creative appropriate engagement and the four immeasurables.

   It has to be repeated that it is a mental fabrications by arahants with karmic residues  (cf. sa-upādi-sesa-nibbāna,  the Buddha himself had residues until he entered parinibbāna!) that the Buddha voluntarily took upon himself to halve the period during which the Dharma would be available by accepting women in the monastic community.
   Who is manipulating history is easily grasped when reading the account of the first Council, notably the 'accusations' against Ananda: it is laughable that some arahants felt it was adequate to blame Ananda for the decision of the Buddha to create the nun order. For such an accusation to stick, it would require to believe Ananda could force or manipulate the Buddha into any decision! This would also require to believe the Buddha made a wrong choice! The arrogance of these arahants visibly knew few bounds, and it isn't a surprise that not all arahants recognised themselves in this bunch ( To give solidity to their version of history, these monks of the first council even were stupid enough to even associate a number of years (1,000 down to 500) to their mental fabrications… forcing a revision a few centuries later, when it could only be observed that Buddhism was thriving (descendants suddenly pretended the Buddha was misheard —but only on this number, of course!— and the numbers should be 10,000 and 5,000).

   Today, we hear enough sexist ineptitudes from monks clinging to the supposed superiority of their birth ( for Ṭhānissaro not to add to the collective ignorance (,
   Traditional views are not valuable merely for being traditional (, rejecting the 'tradition' logical fallacy even is a basis for the kalama sutta!
   Lovingkindness or mettā  (, isn't facultative practice, and it includes women (and not just wishing them to have a male rebirth).
   "Do not harm" starts with us (! It's too easy to just argue that reality is the result of history, when we can change things (,

   Another famous translator and teacher, Bhikkhu Bodhi, has taken pro-nun positions e.g. in The Revival of Bhikkhunī Ordination in the Theravāda Tradition  (pp. 99–142 in Dignity & Discipline, Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns,  edited by T. Mohr and J. Tsedroen, Wisdom publications, 2010, 
   Given Bhikkhu Bodhi's many contributions and celebrated translations, his views also should be "taken into consideration"… and, granted, this doesn't imply "necessarily agreed with" either. In the above reference, he very much focused on using our wisdom and intelligence over clinging (to rules decontextualised and made generic and absolute, when they never were created as such!); this definitely sounds a lot more like what the Buddha promoted, impermanent, without intrinsic essence, context-dependent (requiring mindful engagement rather than certainties)!

   It is fortunate that Bhikkhu Anālayo (who regularly organises courses available online for free,, from Hamburg university) has also responded clearly to Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu's views, in The Cullavagga on Bhikkhunī Ordination,  Journal of Buddhist Ethics, vol. 21, 2014 (

   Buddhist ethics are 'situational' (
   Precepts have always been 'contextualised' (as required by understanding selflessness!), as I explained e.g. in With regard to women, establish the attitude you would have toward… (
   Selflessness is to be realised to allow acting without clinging (
   Selflessness is to be realised to see through the veils of saṃsāra, into the harmony of difference and equality  (

   Men do not awaken merely by entering a monastery, not even by founding or leading a monastery… And the accusations by monks against women, for the monks' inability or discomfort to restrain from craving when seeing women, are just an undignified rejection of blame for one's own mistakes and a denial of one's own responsibilities. Blaming others for one's inability to let go of unwholesome intentions is ridiculous, and a serious contradiction of equanimity and of freedom (from conditioned habits).
   Even from a Theravāda  perspective, it's also long due to be consistent with the abhidhamma  teachings: neither the male (purisa bhāva)  nor the female (itthi bhāva) dasaka kalāpa  conditions nibbāna!  Although 'dhamma', they're among the conditioned  dhammas… i.e. they're selfless (co-arising with the context) and cannot 'intrinsically' favour males or prevent females from attaining nibbāna! Indeed, many nuns at the time of the Buddha became arahants! In a modern social context more supportive for women than before, rejecting the re-creation of the nun order today is merely clinging to the (sexist) past.

   Experiencing is genderless: what is experienced might be conditioned by one's sex or gender (in co-dependence with how one relates to it, how others relate to it, how one relates to others, etc.), but the experiencing itself is tied to a genderless awareness. The dhammas of sex are not citta,  not the mental dhammas: the distinction might be conditioned, but it remains discernible (sabhāva, Moreover, nibbāna is genderless, not male by default.

   It's time to give their full place to women within the saṅgha; it's time to stop looking for copouts not to. Not giving, and in this case not supporting women, is discriminatory and harming (!

#Buddhism   #Dharma  
illustration:  "Indian fountain" at Engelbecken, Berlin, Germany