Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ajahn Brahm excommunicated for performing Bhikkhuni Ordination in Australia

From The Buddhist Channel, Nov 5, 2009

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- On Thursday 22nd October 2009, Sisters Vayama, Nirodha, Seri and Hassapañña were ordained as Theravada Bhikkhunis in a dual ordination ceremony held at Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Western Australia.

Ayya Tathaaloka, from the United States, was the Preceptor. Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato performed the certifying acariya chanting in the bhikkhu's part of the ceremony.

The ordination of Theravada Bhikkhunis in Australia was fully supported by the Australian Buddhist community.

However, no such support came from the Western monks in Europe associated with Thailand. Indeed, the leading Western monks in England, together with the Western monks in Thailand, formally requested Ajahn Brahm to be excommunicated from Wat Pah Pong, which is the monastery where he was trained under Ajahn Chah.

He was summoned to a meeting in Thailand on Sunday November 1st where, after much harsh discussion, he was given the choice of publicly stating that the ordination was invalid or else be excommunicated from the Wat Pah Pong community.

He refused to recant, as he was not willing to disavow an ordination procedure which was valid according to the Vinaya (the monastic rules established by the Buddha), nor was he willing to go against the wishes of the Australian Sangha Association and the thousands of lay Buddhists from around the world who supported the full integration of women into Theravada Buddhism.

In many people's opinion, it is a sad day when monks who believe in the ordination did not speak up to support Ajahn Brahm's courageous act. Instead, a group of monks at Wat Pah Pong who lacked foundation in the monastic rules laid down by the Buddha, use excommunication as a means for imposing control and to preserve "tradition".

However, support for Ajahn Brahm from around the world is building up, including Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, the translator of the Buddha's suttas, Majjhima Nikaya, and the author of "The Buddha's Words", and his large following in Singapore, the members of the Buddhist Fellowship.

Update: On 22 October 2009 Brahm facilitated an ordination ceremony for bhikkhunis where four female Buddhists, Venerable Ajahn Vayama, and Venerables Nirodha, Seri and Hasapanna, were ordained into the Western Theravada bhikkhuni sangha. The ordination ceremony took place at Ajahn Brahm's Bodhinyana Monastery at Serpentine (near Perth, WA), Australia. For his actions of 22 October 2009, on 1 November 2009, at a meeting of senior members of the Thai monastic sangha, held at Wat Pah Pong, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, Brahm was removed from the Ajahn Chah Forest Sangha lineage and is no longer associated with the main monastery in Thailand, Wat Pah Pong, nor with any of the other Western Forest Sangha branch monasteries of the Ajahn Chah tradition.


Blogger Renata said...

Thanks for posting this- I did not know this turn of events had taken place. Rampant sexism is a problem in the Sangha in some parts of the world, but I think people in the west don't talk about it much (or are even aware of it). Ajahn Brahm is to be commended for doing what he thought was right.

This article is about events from 2009- are there any more recent updates available? Also, why did you choose to post about this particular issue today?

Thanks again!

May 23, 2012 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heard a lot about the bhikkhuni ordination, seems like lot of hatred. One ex-monk informed me about this document, it can be downloaded from http://www.scribd.com/doc/64780914/The-Nude-Monk-s-Burning-Robes

In this document a Sri Lankan senior monk called Ariyadhamma says (on page 99), “starting a bhikkhuni dispensation means ‘grabbing the key to hell’s gate.” I was shocked how a Buddhist monk can hold such a narrow minded view, but then after reading the whole document it became clear, knowing lot of Dhamma superficially doesn’t mean that one has Dhamma within.

Truth is fascinating than fiction, one can learn a lot about modern Theravada Buddhism.


July 11, 2012 at 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a practitioner of Tibetan tradition since 1978. I recently retired to Chiang Mai, Thailand and had a most unpleasant experience at this same Wat that denounced Ajahn Brahm by asking to leave a retreat as I was told by the head Abbott that I would basically contaminate his pure lineage. I smiled politely and said "isn't it wonderful that Lord Buddha taught 84,000 different teachings to accommodate all the various propensities and capacities of humans". It was quite shocking and sad to have witnessed this in a Buddhist monastery.

Cheers to you Ajahn Brahm for receiving the love and light into your heart.


January 9, 2013 at 6:13 AM  

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