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Buddhadharma : Fall 2010
9 FALL 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Bravo Buddhadhar ma! Thank you so very much for addressing the issue of equality for Buddhist nuns, which is vitally important to the flourishing of the Buddha’s teaching in the West (“The Time Has Come,” Sum- mer 2010). I had been fearing that a cloak of silence had descended. With great sadness, I finally realized that the Western sangha of Ajahn Chah was truly intent upon maintaining a rigid patriarchal stance around bhikkhuni ordinations. They could have made such a difference if they had given their influential support to the growing movement to return the Buddha’s sangha to being a truly fourfold sangha. But they have chosen to shut the door on the future. I was heartened recently to read Grace Schireson’s book, Zen Women, which is full of great stories of strong women, the kinds of role models that patriarchal Buddhism has so ignored. It seems that the first Sung emperor in China—in his devotion to Confucian ideals which held women to be such ignoble crea- tures that men should only have contact with them within the home —put away the “eight heavy rules” so monks would no longer need to come into contact with nuns. This had the unexpected result of freeing the nuns from the monks’ control and allowing them to conduct their own ordinations, without the monks being able to obstruct the growth of the bhikkhuni lineage. Thus, they were able to survive. I think there is a lesson for all nuns here. It is time to move on and no longer look for support from the Ajahn Chah tradition, but create our own Theravada tradition and mon- asteries for nuns of all persuasions. Women’s awakening looks different from men’s —more nurturing, yet whipcord strong with the cou- rageous heart of Kuan Yin and the Taras. Lisa Elander Squamish, British Columbia Is there any sense in which the failure to fully ordain Buddhist nuns and grant them equal status with monks cannot be seen as tenacious clinging to culturally bound scrip- tures that common sense reveals as patently unjust today? Buddhism in the West will come of age when we acknowledge the exclusionary and arbitrary aspects that are built into many sects, lineages, transmissions, and ritual trap- pings. We need to take inherited conventions and texts into respectful deliberative account, but with a readiness to adapt, change, and jettison when needed. The Buddha explic- itly urged us not to go by reports, traditions, scriptures, or the authority of teachers, but to find for ourselves qualities that are conducive to welfare and happiness. The earlier forms of Buddhism might not resemble its effective manifestation here and now. Let’s celebrate that. I believe that free- range Buddhism, “Plan B” Buddhism, the dharma as a living legacy, will be the most fruitful path for its growth in the West. Charles Suhor Montgomery, Alabama Thank you for the “The Time Has Come.” You have done a masterful job in tying together a number of difficult threads in a way that is illuminating. I hope it has a wide audience, and that it helps to dispel the darkness. Ajahn Thanasanti Colorado Springs, Colorado Iread with great interest Thanissaro Bhik- khu’s article on dana, “No Donation LeTTers we welcome your comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org for Buddhist nuns, which is vitally important to the flourishing of the Buddha’s teaching in the West (“The Time Has Come,” Sum- mer 2010). I had been fearing that a cloak of With great sadness, I finally realized that the Western sangha of Ajahn Chah was truly intent upon maintaining a rigid patriarchal stance around bhikkhuni ordinations. They could have made such a difference if they had given their influential support to the growing movement to return the Buddha’s sangha to being a truly fourfold sangha. But they have unjust today? Buddhism in the West will come of age when we acknowledge the exclusionary and