Bhaddā was a true original. An ascetic, a philosopher, and a murderer, who became one of the best-loved of all the bhikkhunis. Here is a vivid re-imagining of her story: a Buddhist nun like you’ve never seen before.
Enchanting, powerful, horrific, beautiful, wise, deadly, compassionate, seductive. Women in Buddhist story and image are all these things and more. She takes the signs of the ancient goddess – the lotus, the sacred grove, the serpent, the sacrifice – and uses them in astonishing new ways. Her story is one of suffering and great trials, and through it all an unquenchable longing to be free. This beautifully illustrated work is as layered and subversive as mythology itself. Based directly on authentic Buddhist texts, and informed with insights from psychology and comparative mythology, it takes a fresh look at how Buddhist women have been depicted by men and how they have depicted themselves.
Although historically marginalized, Buddhist nuns are taking their place in modern Buddhism. Like the monks, Buddhist nuns live by an ancient system of monastic law, the Vinaya. This work investigates various areas of uncertainty and controversy in how the Vinaya is to be understood and applied today.
The Buddhist monastic codes (Vinayas) include a provision for a training period of two years for candidates for bhikkhuni ordination. This is one of the few aspects of bhikkhuni ordination that has no parallel in the ordination for monks. The sikkhamana training period is controversial, and is often not followed in modern practice. Santipada undertook a research project to bring together, translate, and analyze the major passages from all Vinayas that deal with the sikkhamana. While incomplete, this project still comprises the largest resource available on this topic.
How monastics, especially nuns, are trained at Santi Forest Monastery, in accordance with the original Vinaya, and incorporating the best modern practices.
In the debate about bhikkhuni ordination, information plays a key role. We have made substantial strides in our understanding of Buddhism in history, the relation between different Buddhist traditions, and so on. Unfortunately, little of this information has permeated into the tradition Sangha bodies. Century-old textbooks are not corrected, not matter how obvious their mistakes are.
This essay focusses on saṅkhāra, the use of will. In spiritual circles, relinquishing will is often touted as the route to enlightenment, whereas in fact it is an essential part of healthy human development.
While discussion on women’s role in the Sangha proceeds, those who most need to take part in the discussion — the monks — are conspicuously absent. The issue is not so much a dialogue as a call to the darkness, for a sympathetic hearing that is just not there.
Paper presented at the discussion panel with HH Dalai Lama on the final day of the First International Congress on Buddhist Women’s Role in the Sangha.
Ordination is more than a change in lifestyle. It is a fundamental shift in the orientation of one’s very being. While denied bhikkhuni ordination, women are forever excluded from the heart of the Buddha’s community.