Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In the Company of Spiritual Friends: Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Nuns

by Susanne Mrozik

Author Susanne Mrozik with a spiritual friend

This article was first published by the Alliance for Bhikkhunis in the summer 2011 edition of  Present, a journal that documents the voices and activities of Theravada Buddhist women.

It is, once again, a very hot and humid day in Sri Lanka. I prepare to board one of several buses I will take today to travel to a meeting that I'm not sure I really want to attend. Sweaty and grimy, dreading the hours of uncomfortable travel ahead of me, I am in a bad mood. But as I step into the bus, I see a Buddhist nun seated in the front row. I sit down next to her, we smile at each other, and my bad mood lifts. I am in the company of a kalyanamitta, or spiritual friend.

Ven. Payutto, a Thai monk-scholar, tells us that a spiritual friend is anyone “who is well prepared with the proper qualities to teach, suggest, point out, encourage, assist, and give guidance for getting started on the path of Buddhist training.” Buddhist scriptures also tell us that spiritual friends, like the nun seated next to me, can teach without even saying a word. This nun’s kind, but disciplined demeanor visibly embodies her Buddhist training. Seeing her, I come back to the present moment, briefly letting go of my aversion to the physical discomforts of the day, and open up to the possibility of joyful human connection even on a really hot bus.

Sri Lankan Bhikkhunis Today

Anyone can serve as a spiritual friend to another Buddhist practitioner, but Sri Lankans (like other Buddhists) have traditionally regarded monastics as the ideal spiritual friends because of their extensive Buddhist educations. Until recently, however, the Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist sangha consisted only of bhikkhus, or fully ordained monks. For many centuries there were no bhikkhunis or fully ordained nuns. Although women, in their capacities as mothers, teachers, and lay supporters of Buddhist temples, surely served as spiritual friends to others then (as now), in the past, the ideal spiritual friend would have been a male monastic. Today this is no longer the case. As of the late 1990s there are both bhikkhus and bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. 

Briefly, here’s what happened: The Sri Lankan bhikkhuni order was originally established in the third century BCE. Together with the bhikkhu order, the bhikkhuni order flourished in Sri Lanka until the late tenth or early eleventh century when a period of warfare rendered both orders defunct. Although the bhikkhu order was revived several times thereafter with the help of bhikkhus from Burma and Thailand, the bhikkhuni order unfortunately was not. By the time progressive Sri Lankan Buddhists began to advocate for a Theravada bhikkhuni revival in the twentieth century, there were no more Theravada bhikkhunis anywhere in the world to perform the ordination ceremony, although there were many Mahayana bhikkhunis qualified to do so. For roughly ten centuries there were no bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. Fortunately, progressive Sri Lankan bhikkhus joined South Korean bhikkhus and bhikkhunis in 1996, and Taiwanese bhikkhus and bhikkhunis (among others) in 1998 to hold two international bhikkhuni ordination ceremonies in India. More than thirty Sri Lankan women were ordained as Theravada bhikkhunis in the course of these ordination ceremonies. Since 1998 bhikkhuni ordination ceremonies (called upasampadas) occur regularly in Sri Lanka in three locations (and perhaps more in the future): Dambulla, Dekanduwala, and Navugala. Because bhikkhunis tend to identify with the temple where they received their ordinations, distinct bhikkhuni “nikayas,” or monastic sects, have begun to emerge in Sri Lanka. This has long been the case for bhikkhus as well.

The bhikkhuni order is growing in Sri Lanka. Currently there are about 1,000 bhikkhunis and about 1,000 samaneris, or novice nuns, who are training to become bhikkhunis. Additionally, there are between 2,000 and 4,000 dasasil, or ten-precept nuns who observe the same ten novice precepts as samaneris, but do not necessarily aspire to become bhikkhunis. Dasasil nuns belong to an alternative order of nuns, which was established in Sri Lanka in 1905 when there was still insufficient support for a bhikkhuni revival. Although many dasasil nuns have ordained as bhikkhunis since the late 1990s, many others have not done so. Thus there are two different kinds of nuns in Sri Lanka today—samaneris/bhikkhunis and dasasil nuns—both of whom make important contributions to their communities.

Inevitably, the first women to become bhikkhunis came largely from the ranks of the dasasil nuns. Many of these women had lived for decades as dasasil nuns before getting the opportunity to ordain as bhikkhunis. Today, however, large numbers of young women are ordaining directly into the bhikkhuni order. In the course of my research on the Sri Lankan bhikkhuni revival, I have even met groups of sisters and/or cousins who ordained together in their teenage years. Several senior bhikkhunis have stressed the importance of attracting girls and young women to the bhikkhuni order. According to them, these are easier to teach than middle-aged or elderly women because their bodies and minds are more flexible, adapting more easily to the rigors of monastic training and education. They regard this younger generation of nuns as especially important to the development and dissemination of the order in Sri Lanka. That said, there is no official age limit to bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka. I am fifty years old and have been encouraged on more than one occasion to ordain!

Whenever I meet a bhikkhuni who had lived as a dasasil nun in the past, I ask her how different her life is now. Bhikkhunis always begin by explaining that the biggest difference is the number of monastic precepts that they now observe. Bhikkhunis observe 311 precepts, whereas dasasil nuns observe ten precepts. Even though they readily admit that it is much harder to observe 311 than ten precepts, they routinely express gratitude for their many precepts. Why? Because the precepts help them to discipline their bodies and minds, which in turn, helps them to refrain from unethical conduct. As one senior nun put it: the precepts protect her from her own mind, which might crave something that can lead to unethical conduct. She, and others like her, emphasize both the negative social and karmic consequences of unethical conduct. From the perspective of these nuns, the precepts protect them from these negative consequences in a variety of ways, including limiting their opportunities for misconduct, disciplining their bodies and minds through constant mindfulness of the precepts, and, perhaps most importantly, teaching them to relinquish craving for anything that leads away from the path to nibbana.

Some of my readers may be surprised by the extent to which Sri Lankan bhikkhunis focus on the negative consequences of unethical conduct. Please be aware that Sri Lankan Buddhists take karma very, very seriously. Further, they regard fear (along with shame) as virtues precisely because they help us to refrain from unethical conduct. This is, in fact, also a common point of view in Buddhist scriptures, however strange it might sound to some modern ears. The bottom line is that Sri Lankan bhikkhunis express tremendous gratitude for their precepts. When I asked one senior bhikkhuni what she wanted me to tell the readers of Present, she said that former dasasil nuns like herself “were thirsty for higher [bhikkhuni] ordination! Fortunately in 1998 we got it. Now nuns in Sri Lanka are very, very happy!”

The precepts are not the only issue bhikkhunis bring up when contrasting their lives today with their lives as dasasil nuns. They also emphasize that they are now members of the Buddhist sangha. (Dasasil nuns are not considered part of the sangha, occupying instead a religious position somewhere in between that of a layperson and that of a samaneri.) Thus they are now able to perform all of the same religious rituals that bhikkhus perform. For example, unlike dasasil nuns, they regularly receive atapirikara, or the eightfold “requisites” such as monastic robes and begging bowls from lay Buddhists. Lay Buddhists also invite bhikkhunis to participate in sanghika danas, which are almsgiving ceremonies in which the alms offered to a group of bhikkhus or bhikkhunis are symbolically offered to the entire sangha. Bhikkhunis tell me that they feel better able to serve the needs of their lay communities now that they can perform any ritual requested of them.

Perhaps the most visible marker of the difference between bhikkhunis and dasasil nuns is their robes. Although both bhikkhunis and dasasil nuns wear the traditional Theravada orange-colored robes, there is a subtle difference between the robes of bhikkhunis and those of dasasil nuns. Bhikkhunis, like bhikkhus, wear an outer robe made of cut cloth. As one nun put it, the robe looks like a rice paddy field. The outer robe of dasasil nuns is made from a solid, uncut cloth.

Yet however different these robes look to the trained eye, to the untrained eye they look exactly alike. That may be one reason why so many Sri Lankans still have no idea that the bhikkhuni order was revived in their country! Even those who do know find it very difficult to tell bhikkhunis and dasasil nuns apart. Consequently there is also frequent confusion about how to address bhikkhunis (please say “bhikkhuni vahanse” or “mehenin vahanse”)—an important issue in a country where the sangha is addressed with a special honorific vocabulary. I have been surprised to find that even some lay supporters of bhikkhuni temples do not always know what the difference is between a bhikkhuni and a dasasil nun—or even that there is a difference! For these lay supporters, the only thing that matters is that their nuns are good nuns, that is, that they are virtuous and compassionate, and that they are skilled teachers of the Dhamma.

Sri Lankan Dasasil Nuns Today

Like bhikkhunis, dasasil nuns also make import contributions to their communities by offering religious programs (including meditation programs) at their temples, performing rituals for lay Buddhists, and engaging in various kinds of social work. Let us please continue to show our respect and gratitude to the Sri Lankan dasasil nuns for their religious and social services, even if we are also supporters of the bhikkhuni revival! It is a tribute to the tremendous courage and dedication of Theravada Buddhist women that, when blocked from access to bhikkhuni ordination, they developed alternative orders of nuns in Sri Lanka, as in Southeast Asia.

But if bhikkhuni ordination is now available to Sri Lankan women, why don’t all dasasil nuns become bhikkhunis? And why are some Sri Lankan women and girls still choosing to ordain as dasasil nuns rather than bhikkhunis?

I think the reasons are complicated and varied. On the surface you might be told that it is because these women believe that the newly revived Sri Lankan bhikkhuni order is not legitimate. Why not? Because the 1996 and 1998 international ordination ceremonies, which revived the Sri Lankan bhikkhuni order, required the participation of South Korean and Taiwanese bhikkhunis who follow Mahayana rather than Theravada Buddhism. Thus some dasasil nuns believe that any Sri Lankan bhikkhuni is a Mahayana bhikkhuni rather than a Theravada bhikkhuni. This is a common argument on the part of those who reject the Sri Lankan bhikkhuni revival. I have heard it many times in Sri Lanka from many different people: Buddhist monks, Buddhist laymen and women, and dasasil nuns. Although bhikkhunis have lots of supporters, including Buddhist monks, their order is still controversial in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s bhikkhunis are most definitely Theravada bhikkhunis, not Mahayana bhikkhunis. They follow the Theravada Pali Vinaya, and the Buddhism they practice and teach in their temples is Theravada Buddhism. Readers who want to know more about the debate over the alleged Mahayana affiliation of Sri Lankan bhikkhunis should consult the excellent essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi on the topic.[4]  I will not go into the details of this debate myself, both because Bhikkhu Bodhi’s essay is available and because it isn’t the only—or even most important reason—why some dasasil nuns choose to remain dasasil nuns.

So why do these nuns reject the option of bhikkhuni ordination? Firstly, it is not difficult to imagine that dasasil nuns, who may have given years of their lives to developing their order (especially those in administrative positions in the order) would feel a great deal of loyalty to the order.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, Sri Lanka is a society in which people routinely show respect, verbally and physically, to those whom they regard as their superiors, such as parents, teachers, monks and nuns, and elders of any kind. When two nuns meet, the junior nun shows respect for the senior nun. One very common reason why some of the younger dasasil nuns do not want to ordain as bhikkhunis is because their teacher-nuns may be too old to withstand the rigors of bhikkhuni training and ordination. Technically, a bhikkhuni is senior to a dasasil nun because she is a fully ordained nun and the dasasil nun is not. Thus when a dasasil nun greets a bhikkhuni, she must worship that bhikkhuni by bowing to her. Many dasasil nuns believe it would be disrespectful to put their teacher-nuns in a position of having to bow to her former students. (And, of course, some teacher-nuns actively discourage their students from entering the bhikkhuni order, as do some monks connected to dasasil temples.)

Similarly, some dasasil nuns are also uncomfortable with the fact that senior dasasil nuns, who may have ordained several decades ago, suddenly become very junior bhikkhunis if they enter the bhikkhuni order. Seniority is calculated by the number of years a person has been ordained, but no credit is given for the years a bhikkhuni was a dasasil nun. That means older bhikkhunis with a lifetime of experience as dasasil nuns might have to worship much younger bhikkhunis just because the younger bhikkhunis happened to ordain before the dasasil nuns made their decision to become bhikkhunis. Furthermore, one dasasil nun, who is strongly opposed to the bhikkhuni revival, informed me that she had been snubbed by former dasasil nun friends after those friends became bhikkhunis.

The confusion of social and religious hierarchy created by the bhikkhuni revival is a significant factor in dasasil opposition to that revival. Of course, this confusion could have been avoided if Sri Lankan women had been given access to bhikkhuni ordination back in 1905! Women would not have had to create alternative orders of nuns in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia if they had been given access to bhikkhuni ordination all along!

But why would lay girls and women choose to ordain today as dasasil nuns rather than as bhikkhunis? I think it is largely a matter of who one happens to know. For example, I interviewed a woman recently who ordained for the first time at the age of sixty-four. She told me that when she was considering ordination, she was still unsure if she would ordain as a dasasil nun or a bhikkhuni. But she happened to have an acquaintance with ties to a bhikkhuni temple. So her acquaintance directed her to the head nun of that temple and she became a samaneri and eventually a bhikkhuni. The choice whether to become a bhikkhuni or to become a dasasil nun (as well as which temple to join) is frequently a matter of the accident of personal connections.

Recently I interviewed a nun who resisted my repeated attempts (and those of my research assistant) to find out whether she belonged to the dasasil or bhikkhuni order (we couldn’t tell by her robes). She told us that virtue, or sil, doesn't reside in one’s robes, but in one’s person. A case in point is the nun who was seated next to me on that very hot bus ride. She was a dasasil nun, but she was just as much of a spiritual friend to me that day as the bhikkhunis whom I have met. Even though I personally support the bhikkhuni revival in Sri Lanka (and elsewhere), I also have great reverence for the many nuns in alternative orders such as Sri Lanka’s dasasil nuns.

Legal Status of Bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka

The bhikkhuni order is still not formally recognized by the Sri Lankan government, a process that involves obtaining the support of some key politicians and monks. As already noted, the bhikkhuni revival remains controversial in Sri Lanka and certainly not only because of its alleged Mahayana affiliation. There are a lot of people who have stakes in the bhikkhuni revival—whether pro or con—for economic, social, and political, as well as religious reasons. It is a complicated situation.

The immediate consequence of the lack of formal recognition is financial. Bhikkhus, and to a much lesser extent dasasil nuns, receive financial support from the government. (This financial support is another reason why some dasasil nuns are reluctant to become bhikkhunis.) For instance, the government helps to fund pirivenas, or monastic schools for monks and dasasil nuns. But there is still not a single government-funded pirivena for samaneris and bhikkhunis in the entire country. Bhikkhuni temples must come up with the money to pay teachers to educate their nuns. Even when those teachers offer their services for free (and only some do), bhikkhuni temples must still pay the transportation costs of those teachers. This alone is a significant hardship for many bhikkhuni temples. Bhikkhunis do not need formal government recognition to live as bhikkhunis—no one can prevent them from doing so in Sri Lanka—but they do need formal recognition to establish the pirivenas vital to the successful development of the bhikkhuni order.

Although bhikkhunis do not receive government support, they do receive considerable private support from lay Buddhists (including some government officials) and Buddhist monks. It is difficult to determine the percentage of Sri Lankans who support the bhikkhuni revival, especially since a good number do not even realize that such a revival has taken place, or are confused about what this revival actually means. The most I can say at this time is that support for bhikkhunis is mixed. The temples I have visited enjoy excellent reputations in their communities. It appears that the more direct contact people have with bhikkhunis themselves, the more likely they are to actually support these bhikkhunis.

Bhikkhu Support for Bhikkhunis

There would be no Sri Lankan bhikkhuni order without the support of Sri Lankan bhikkhus. The groundbreaking 1996 and 1998 international ordinations could never have happened without the active participation of Sri Lankan bhikkhus. Further, the bhikkhuni order would not be about 1,000-strong today without the continued active support of Sri Lankan bhikkhus. Their support includes participating in bhikkhuni ordination ceremonies, advocating publically and privately for bhikkhunis (including for formal government recognition of the bhikkhuni order), holding almsgiving ceremonies for bhikkhunis, serving as teachers and advisors of bhikkhunis, and donating lands and buildings for bhikkhuni facilities. I cannot emphasize enough how much many bhikkhus are doing to support bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. Bhikkhunis routinely express gratitude in my presence for this support.

But bhikkhu support is, of course, mixed. I have occasionally been shocked by the hostility a monk expresses toward Sri Lankan bhikkhunis upon learning that I am conducting research on them. For example, one monk claimed that Sri Lankan bhikkhunis just care about money. This is, sadly, a stereotype I have heard on more than one occasion. The (false) logic behind the stereotype is as follows: Sri Lankan bhikkhunis are really Mahayana bhikkhunis. Most Sri Lankans know nothing about Mahayana Buddhism. They nevertheless reject it because a) it is a “foreign” kind of Buddhism and/or b) they believe that Mahayana monks and nuns don't maintain celibacy (wrongly assuming that the Japanese model of married priests is the norm for all Mahayana clergy). At the same time, it is also a common assumption in Sri Lanka that foreigners are rich. So some opponents of the Sri Lankan bhikkhuni revival, like this monk, believe that Sri Lankan bhikkhunis took ordination primarily in order to get money from their alledgedly rich, foreign Mahayana friends.

I also have been informed of monks deliberately undermining the work of bhikkhuni temples. For example, one bhikkhuni temple was told to stop holding religious programs on monthly full-moon (poya) days because too many laypeople were going there instead of to the local bhikkhu temple. One laywoman told me that the monk in her local temple—and even some of the lay supporters of that temple—give her a hard time for patronizing a bhikkhuni temple instead of their bhikkhu temple.

Again, it is impossible to know the percentage of bhikkhus who support bhikkhunis. Suffice it to say that there is a great deal of support for bhikkhunis within the Sri Lankan sangha, but it is not unanimous.

Lay Support for Bhikkhunis

A bhikkhuni greets a laywoman
A foreign bhikkhuni who has lived for many years in Sri Lanka told me once that if the Sri Lankan laypeople support bhikkhunis then no one, not even bhikkhus, will be able to stop the bhikkhuni sasana, or lineage. I am happy to report that there is strong lay support for bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. Of course not all laypeople support bhikkhunis, but those who have had the chance to visit bhikkhuni temples speak very, very highly of these nuns.

Bhikkhunis, like dasasil nuns, engage in a wide range of activities on behalf of their communities. These include children's religious and secular educational programs, healthcare educational programs, outreach to the poor and sick, psychological counseling, and of course, a range of religious programs for all ages such as meditation classes, all-night pirith (protective scripture) chanting, almsgiving ceremonies, and Dhamma instruction of various kinds.

Bhikkhunis are especially in demand to teach meditation, something that doesn't happen routinely in Sri Lankan Buddhist temples. Several lay supporters have told me that they patronize a bhikkhuni temple because their local bhikkhu temples do not offer meditation programs. Knowing their reputations for good meditation instruction, bhikkhus themselves sometimes invite bhikkhunis to offer meditation programs for laity in their temples.

Mother and son at temple
I have been especially touched by the interactions between bhikkhunis and village children. When we talk about lay support, we have to keep in mind that whole families are connected to these bhikkhuni temples, not just individual adults. My own local bhikkhuni temple places children front and center in all temple activities. For example, on one full-moon day, the children gave small sermons to all of us; a few of the older children chanted alongside the nuns during an all-night pirith chanting ceremony, and they were all invited, along with their parents, for a day of traditional games at the temple during the Sri Lankan New Year celebrations. Recently, I also heard a bhikkhuni at this same temple counseling some adults on how to treat a child who was acting out at home because he is jealous of a younger brother. Her advice was to refrain from scolding the jealous boy and instead shower him with love. I have often have heard these bhikkhunis telling parents to be gentle and patient with their children. Additionally, I have heard them instruct adults and children alike on the application of metta meditation to home life, making the Dhamma relevant to families.

The one religious practice prevalent in Sri Lanka that I have not found at bhikkhuni temples is the worship of gods and goddesses, who are propitiated for worldly gains such as passing exams, bearing children, or curing illness. Many bhikkhu temples house devalayas, or deity shrines, but this is uncommon, to say the least, at bhikkhuni temples.

The adjectives that lay supporters most commonly use to describe samaneris and bhikkhunis are compassionate (karunavanta) and virtuous (silvat)—especially with respect to keeping their monastic precepts. Laywomen, in particular, stress how accessible they find nuns, whether seeking advice on family problems or instruction on some aspect of Dhamma. Indeed, I have been told several times by laywomen that they feel much freer discussing such matters with nuns than with monks. Why? Because they know that monks and nuns are not supposed to associate too much with members of the opposite sex. And because they sometimes find monks intimidating since they hold such a high social and religious status in Sri Lanka. As one laywoman put it:When we are with monks, we cannot be so [physically] close with them. We can be [physically close] with nuns and ask them questions, talk with them. We can talk about anything [with nuns]. We can ask them about anything. . . . We can ask nuns things we can’t ask monks. . . . Even when we are practicing meditation . . . we can ask monks questions [about meditation] too, but we [do so from a distance] . . . with nuns we can even ask our question several times if we don’t understand [the answer]. We don’t question monks like that.” Her hesitation to question monks during meditation instruction was due to the fact that she had to ask her questions from a physical distance and because she was intimidated to admit to a monk that she hadn’t understood his answer.

It is especially the adjective “virtuous” (silvat) that I hear again and again concerning nuns, which is not surprising since bhikkhunis are meticulous about observing their 311 monastic precepts, even the minor ones. Quite a number of lay Buddhists have confided to me that they find bhikkhunis more virtuous than bhikkhus. For example, lay Buddhists complain that bhikkhus sometimes request meat when laity are giving alms, something bhikkhunis never do. Lay Buddhists also complain about a perceived materialism on the part of some monks, who might own lots of fancy electronic equipment or, more rarely, their own cars. Again this is not the case for bhikkhunis, who are quite poor.

Of course, there are many virtuous (silvat) bhikkhus in Sri Lanka! The point I am trying make, however, is that bhikkhunis are routinely singled out for their high degree of virtue. One of the ironies of the bhikkhuni controversy in Sri Lanka is that both sides seem to believe that the very integrity of Theravada Buddhism is at stake in the bhikkhuni revival. Those who oppose the revival believe that the integrity of Theravada Buddhism is threatened by the alleged Mahayana affiliation of the Sri Lankan bhikkhuni order. Those who support the revival believe that bhikkhunis guarantee the integrity of Theravada Buddhism because they are so virtuous. Thus there are many supporters, like myself, who believe that Sri Lanka’s bhikkhunis (along with their bhikkhu supporters) are spiritual friends to the Theravada sasana, as a whole.

- End Notes -

[1] Phra Prayudh Payutto, Buddhadhamma: Natural Laws and Values for Life, trans. Grant A. Olson (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 224-225.

[2] Please see my Virtuous Bodies: The Physical Dimensions of Morality in Buddhist Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2007).

[3] There is no official list of bhikkhunis and samaneris in the country although Ven. Chandima Thero of Manelwatta Temple has begun the process of compiling such a list. There should be an official list of all registered dasasil nuns, but I was not able to access it as this article goes to press. Further, as my student Gihani de Silva reminds me, many dasasil nuns are not registered with their national or local organizations. Premakumara de Silva states that there are 3,500 dasasil nuns in “Discourse and Counter-discourse(s) on the New Bhikkhuni Order in Sri Lanka: An Ethnographical Inquiry,” Nivedini 15 (Nov.–Dec. 2009): 28. All statistics are tentative, since exact figures are not available. I thank my research assistant Chamila Somiratna for obtaining these statistics.

[4] Bhikkhu Bodhi, “The Revival of the Bhikkhuni Ordination in the Theravada Tradition,” in Dignity and Discipline: Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns, ed. Thea Mohr and Jampa Tsedroen (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2010), 99–142. I have also summarized some of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s points in “Celebrating the Revival of the Bhikkhuni Order,” which was published in Budusarana April 17 (p. 5) and 25 (p. 4), 2011. Please note that the editors of the Budusarana article changed my original title. The title should have been “Celebrating the Revival of the Buddha’s Fourfold Sangha.” The editors also added subtitles, one of which is incorrect: “Tibetan Buddhism” should have been “Mahayana Buddhism.” The Sinhala version of the article, published May 24, 2011, contains some factual errors and should be used with caution.

Susanne Mrozik: Professor & Author

Susanne Mrozik is Associate Professor of Religion at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, USA. She received her PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University in 1999 and her MTS in world religions from Harvard Divinity School in 1990. The recipient of Fulbright and American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies grants, Mrozik spent 2010-2012 in Sri Lanka researching the Sri Lankan bhikkhuni revival. She is the author of Virtuous Bodies: The Physical Dimensions of Morality in Buddhist Ethics, and the co-author of Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences.

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