Monday, May 27, 2013

Ordination of Buddhist Nuns: The Ice Seems to Be Broken

by Jampa Tsedroen (Carola Roloff)

His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama at the First International Sangha Conference

For forty years, His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet has stood firmly in support of the revival of the ordination of nuns. In a forward written recently for a booklet on Tibetan nuns, [1]  H.H. the Dalai Lama explains how, in the eighth century, when the Indian master Śāntarakṣita (725–788) brought the ordination lineage for monks (bhikṣus) to Tibet, he did not bring nuns (bhikṣuṇīs), thus the ordination lineage for nuns could not take root in Tibet.

“It would be good if Tibetan bhikṣus were to agree upon a way in which the Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī ordination could be given. . . . We Tibetans were very fortunate,” the Dalai Lama continues, “that after a decline during the reign of King Langdarma in the ninth century, we were able to restore the bhikṣu lineage which was on the verge of extinction in Tibet. As a result, many people have been able to listen, reflect, and meditate on the Dharma as fully ordained monks, and this has been of great benefit to Tibetan society and sentient beings in general. It is my hope that we may also find a way to establish the bhikṣuṇī saṅgha in the Tibetan community as well.”

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.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Liberation in the Midst of Suffering

by Ryūmon Hilda Gutierrez Baldoquín Sensei

"Taj Mohammad, center, borrowed money to pay for hospital treatment for his wife
and medical care for some of his children." Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Recently two articles leading with pause-moment headlines landed in my inbox within twenty-four hours of each other. The first one in the Atlantic reminds me “How Racism is Bad for Our Bodies” and the second one, in the Huffington Post, reminds me “Buddhist ‘People Of Color Sanghas,’ Diversity Efforts Address Conflict About Race Among Meditators.”

Monday, May 6, 2013

What is “Feminine”?

by Jacqueline Kramer

Guan Yin of the Southern Sea, painted wood, Chinese, Liao (9071125), Jin Dynasty (11151234),
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The Vimalakirtinirdesha Sutra tells the tale of the great layman Vimalakirti who lives in a home that offers shelter to a seemingly endless parade of beings. One of the beings who has taken up residence in his home is a goddess. One day, the Buddha’s great disciple, Shariputra, comes to call on Vimalakirti and encounters the goddess. Not one to mince words, or perhaps shocked to see a female in the great Vimalakirti’s home, Shariputra asks the goddess, “Why don’t you change your female sex?”