|Ani Choying Drolma has done what she can in this situation|
The twenty nine year old Buddhist nun from Nepal, was allegedly raped by five men on a bus in July of 2011. Following the horrendous attack, at least a dozen Eastern Buddhist organizations signed a statement that said she should no longer be a nun because she had lost her virginity.
This obvious travesty further exemplifies the current gap between Eastern and Western interpretations of the Buddhadharma, I am saddened that arcane social convention is overriding common sense and compassion in this case. Śakyamuni Buddha was a radical who did not follow the social mores of his day, he did not discriminate based upon Caste or Sex which did not make him popular with the local powers of his time. The point is that he was pushing the boundaries of what was and was not acceptable.
Buddha taught us “to do no harm.” It seems that this is another case of societal mores and conventions becoming more important to the Nepalese than Śakyamuni’s exhortation to put an end to suffering.
Compounding the stress of being raped to discover that your Sangha is willing to abandon their support of your original dedication for some external event totally outside of your control. This is simple male misogynistic rhetoric, which dominates the current incarnation of Eastern Buddhism.
The Nepal Buddhist Federation’s official stance on this matter is, “Such a thing never happened in the Buddha’s lifetime . . . So he did not leave instructions about how to deal with the situation.” This is mere pipelining to state this publically, it is the purest form of fundamental legalizism that destroys all religions in the end. It now seems that the federation has been strongly urged to reconsider their judgement following repeated complaints from the International Community. Their current stance is, "[The federation] will do everything in its power to help restore the dignity of the nun and continue to fight for justice," found recently on a statement from their website.
The nun was a member of the Karma Samtenling Monastery at Pharping in Nepal; and at the time she was in India expanding her Buddhist education.
Ani Choying Drolma, who has come to fame in the West as a Buddhist Nun who has received recent success in popularizing traditional Buddhist Chanting, spoke up immediately and came to the victim’s defense. She has offered her a place to live as well as helping with medical expenses. “The most important thing is to treat her like a human being and then later we can look into the matter of whether she is still a nun," Drolma told news outlets.
Drolma, like others in the East, are not allowed to speak out against the hierarchy for fear of reprisals. These issues exist in Nepal, India, China, Korea and Japan and are deeply embedded in the cultures in which they prosper. It is easy for us in the West who are on the other side of our cultural revolution that took place in the 50’s and 60’s to perhaps sit in judgment of these actions. However, we also have Western Buddhist Organizations who wield power absolutely with little regard for compassion and understanding. I do not know what can be done about the overriding social mores that exist in the East, but let us not become too arrogant and assume our own shit does not stink. Think globally and act locally, compassion needs to be cultivated from our hearts moment after moment after moment.
The best outcome for this situation is that the Nun lives in a nurturing and supportive environment and gets the kind of counseling she needs to recover from her trauma and is allowed to get back to her life of service to others. Let us all hope that this is the outcome of this tragic event. In the mean time, let us take this as a wakeup call to connect deeper to manifesting compassion in our own lives.