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  • Status of nuns at dhamaloka

    I know there has been a problem traditionally in theravada with the status of nuns.

    At dhammaloka, are they treated equally? Do they get access to the same teachings? Have the rules of nuns been modernised to make sense in the 21st century or are they still required to follow the traditional rules.

    Even if in theory, could a nun become the head of this organisation or they are ruled out of such a position on the grounds of their gender. If acceptable in theory, do the males consciously try to bear in mind that women should hold equal opportunity and have any mechanisms been put in place to ensure nuns are given all the same opportunities.

    I ask these questions, because as someone who is considering coming to spend some time at dhammaloka, i am very sensitive to gender slights. (even if this is my ego, i still hold that that the objecive position should ensure deep equality.)

    I did a goenka retreat and was very aware that there was no difference of opportunity between the genders. I was very impressed with goenka's modern and up to date approach, in this and other respects. However, i do not wish to pursue the meditation technique he taught.

  • #2
    Dear Andrea,

    From my perspective the nuns are treated as equals. But it is probably better to ask this question of the nuns. They certainly have access to the same teachings. The "modernizing" of the rules (which really means looking at the rules with fresh eyes and see if they can interpreted differently) is a work in progress, both on the monks' side and the nuns' side.

    A nun could certainly become the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. As it is, the two senior nuns share the position of Assistant Spiritual Director, while Ajahn Brahm is the Spiritual Director. But there is absolutely no barrier to a nun becoming the Spiritual Director in the future.

    Again, please put these questions to the nuns themselves, since their take on these things may be different from mine.

    With metta.

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    • #3
      Its difficult to these questions directly to the nuns, as they do not use the internet. I think that's what you've told me. So i have to write to them.

      Anyway your post is reassuring. thanks.

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      • #4
        Hi Andrea,

        Monks and nuns are completely equal at 'our' 2 monasteries, as implemented by the Buddha 2500 years ago.

        The nun's monastery has it's own website: dhammasara.org.au

        The contact details are available there. You live in Australia, so it would be very easy to call them and speak to them about all your questions. In Theravada, the original teachings of the Buddha, leading the holy (monastic) life involves giving up possessions, living on alms, keeping many precepts. This is in distinct contrast with lay Buddhists who support the monastics and can therefore only practice to a lesser extent (5 Precepts) while still working, having possessions, families and the like.

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        • #5
          bo completely equal does not include having more rules for women to abide by in my book. However if those rules are basically irrelevant and not particularly bothersome to a nun, then it might not bother me either.

          that said, i do find the rule about high beds very strange. It notice it makes everyone else chuckle as well. You'd think either that everyone should be sleeping on the floor or that the precept would be consigned to the dustbin by now. Do monks and nuns sleep on the floor there or is everyone breaking this precept?

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          • #6
            Yes i suppose i could telephone to get some questions answered.

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            • #7
              Andrea,

              From what I know the 9th precept goes something like this:
              "Refrain from sitting on high chairs and sleeping on luxurious, soft beds."

              I think that "high" refers to status, rather than distance from the floor. So they should not sit on thrones or places of status and pride.
              As for sleep and beds I think it only refers to luxury. Most likely it is allowable nowadays for a monk to sleep on a common bed with a mattress and a pillow. It is not a luxury anymore. Funny thing is a harder mattress and no pillow is actually healthier.

              Hope I am correct.
              Metta,
              Daniel

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