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Buddhism and women: calling for Bhikkhuni ordination and gender equality in the Forest Sangha

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Dear petitioners, this petition was closed to further signatures at 8am, Monday 21 December 2009 GMT/UTC. Thank you for signing. If you have given your consent, we will contact you shortly with an email update on the petition. See fourfoldsangha.org for more.

In the spirit of respect and gratitude for the Venerable Elders and Bhikkhu Sangha, we bring our considered and heartfelt reflection for your consideration.

This petition is a means for members of the four-fold sangha to express our deep concerns to the Forest Sangha of the late Ven. Ajahn Chah about the events surrounding and challenging the Bhikkhuni ordination in Perth, Australia, in October 2009, and the placement of women in the tradition.

The Forest Sangha has roots in the Wat Pah Pong (WPP) community in Thailand and includes its branch monasteries in the West, among which are: Amaravati (UK), Cittaviveka (UK), Abhayagiri (USA), Bodhinyanarama (NZ), and all its associated monasteries around the world.

  • We who have signed this petition are disheartened by and disagree with the expulsion of Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso and Bodhinyana Monastery (AUS) from the Ajahn Chah community as a consequence of his participation in a recent Bhikkhuni ordination in Australia.
  • We are disheartened by and disagree with the Sangha’s lack of acknowledgement regarding the legitimacy of Bhikkhuni ordination in this tradition.
  • We are disheartened by and disagree with the recent legislation of 5 points created at Amaravati (UK) and Cittaviveka (UK) by Ven. Ajahn Sumedho and the monks of the Elders' Council, which imposes on nuns a two-tier discriminatory power structure favouring monks over nuns in these and associated monasteries.
  • We are disheartened by and disagree with the continued gender inequity played out in the monastic form, particularly in Western cultures where this is a direct affront to prevailing social and legal standards of equality and mutual respect between men and women.
  • We request that the WPP community, particularly those members in leadership positions in the Western monasteries, consider their position and responsibility to the four-fold sangha and initiate dialogue to mend the split that has been caused in the fabric of this larger community.
  • We request that the Elders of the Forest Sangha of the Ven. Ajahn Chah make efforts to address the issues of Bhikkhuni ordination, recognising that there are many well informed members of the four-fold sangha who see this as a real possibility and wish to see it happen. We particularly urge the Western Elders of the Forest Sangha to work openly and honestly within its own cultural context, inviting and listening to feedback from the four-fold sangha, as the Buddha modelled.
  • We request that the new legislation imposed upon the nuns of Amaravati and Cittaviveka be revoked and a new dialogue be initiated to discuss what would mutually support the monks' and nuns' orders to thrive in their Western communities.
  • We request that a dialogue be initiated, including representatives of all four components of the four-fold sangha in the West, which directly addresses gender inequity within the monastic form and how it impacts on people in this tradition, ordained or lay, with the aim of finding a way to move forward in mutual respect as members of this sangha in a Western context.
We hereby express our dissent and make these requests in the spirit of the Dhamma — that the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha may find a healthy ground to grow and flourish in the world for the benefit of all beings.



This petition was developed by a number of concerned Buddhist practitioners in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA, in the hope that expressing our concerns may lead to the change that we believe, without doubt, is right for our times: Bhikkhuni ordination. Not one minute more should be wasted.


Other places to show your support:

Support Bhikkhunis website

Women & the Forest Sangha (on facebook)

Sujato's Blog — Buddhism for a small world: views and opinions

See fourfoldsangha.org for links to more information on these issues.

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