Greetings from the forest at Yarrahappani in NSW, Australia where I have been following developments of the flow on from the bhikkuni ordination in October. (See earlier posting in November).http://sujato.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/where_we_are_now.pdf
I have seen the PDF file of the senior Ajahns of the Ajahn Chah tradition “Where we are now” – sadly, I would venture to respond with – currently, wedged between a rock and a hard place.
There is surely a middle way in this issue.
I carefully read the Ajahns’ 7400 word article in the above PDF file. There is an expression of a particular range of views of the Vinaya and well worth reading. As far as I understand from my days as a Thai monk in the Theravada tradition, the traditional Vinaya makes clear that the samanera and samaneri (male and female novices) act as the stepping stone for the full bhikkhu and bhikkhuni ordination. The Vinaya has never regarded the samaneri role as an end in itself.
I believe there is a middle way between strict adherence to a view of the Vinaya as advocated in the article and expulsion of Ajahn Bramhs, Ajahn Sujato and their branch monasteries. The senior Ajahns could recommend the siladhara ordinations while allowing siladharas ready and wishing to take up bhikkhuni ordination, to go to the monastery in Perth for full ordination.
All the other monasteries in the Ajahn Chah tradition could keep to the adoption of the siladhara model – conceived within the Theravada tradition. Each monastery takes responsibility for its direction. I believe the Thai religious authorities need to be approached to see whether they would accept such a view to meet the needs and the aspirations of different women and different monasteries. I believe they would treat this conciliatory course as a satisfactory understanding.
Perhaps this approach could be mentioned to Ajahn Sumedho when seniors in the Dharma present the petition, the statement of around 12 Australian teachers and myself of Insight Meditation on the bhikkhuni ordination and other statements. There is a genuine need for some reconciliation to find a meeting point between traditional and contemporary wisdom, ancient forms and progressive forms. Sabbe sankhara anicca.
I believe the fourfold assembly of senior monks, nuns, laywomen and laymen share in many respects a common vision. We trust that seniors in the Western tradition neither hold to a hierarchy of roles or wisdom nor reduce everyone to sameness.
This is an important time for the Western tradition of Dharma and one of its important expressions through the ongoing dedication of Theravada monks and nuns. There are plenty of us dedicated to the Dharma who are following developments with much interest.
We look forward to the response of the senior Ajahns who are meeting in Thailand from December 7 – 9, 2009, to discuss various matters including the Australian ordination of bhokkhunis in October.We trust they wil bring their considerable wisdom to the situation for the welfare of one and all.