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Buddhist Schism Over Nuns' Ordination
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 07, 2009
Posted by: Scott McMahan | more..
2,400+ views | 110+ clicks
For those who like to follow religious developments/news...

The Buddhist Society of Western Australia (www.bswa.org) has, within the past few weeks, ordained bikkhuni, i.e. female monks, nuns. This is an historical practice mentioned in the vast canon of Buddhist literature (accesstoinsight.org).

This practice of ordaining nuns has died out of the Therevada tradition that the BSWA is part of. They no longer do this, and, in fact, prohibit it.

BSWA is run by Ajahn Brahm, a Western monk (bikkhu) from England. ("Ajahn" is a title that means "teacher".) He studied under Ajahn Cha in Thailand and is part of the forest tradition of Therevadan Buddhism. Ajahn Cha was a highly influential Thai monk who trained many westerners, and most (but not all) of the Therevadan tradition in the English-speaking world today traces back to his teaching. Ajahn Cha has had a huge influence on western Buddhism.

Anyhow, the BSWA and Ajahn Brahm were nominally under the umbrella of Ajahn Cha's old monastery in Thailand (Wat Pah Pong). They learned that the BSWA was ordaining female monks and basically did the Buddhist equivalent of excommunicating the BSWA and Ajahn Brahm.

The link is to Ajahn Brahm's page of downloadable talks. There are two that touch on this subject. 2009-11-06 is from after the "excommunication" and 2009-10-30 is from the day of the ordination.

It is fascinating to watch this schism unfold in real-time. Ajahn Brahm considers himself to be true to the original Buddhist teachings, and places that higher than the nominal authority of Ajahn Cha's monastery. The monastery considers Ajahn Brahm to be an apostate and has severed ties with him. The BSWA is an independent organization and will continue its operations.

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