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THE WISDOM BLOG: CLASSIC &


CONTEMPORARY BUDDHISM
The Dalai Lama on full
ordination for women
by The Dalai Lama

February 4, 2015

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Lama

From Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions by the Dalai


Lama and Thubten Chodron.

Over the years I have spoken many times about bhiku

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ordination and expressed my wish and hope that this


ordination will be given in our Mlasarvstivda vinaya
tradition. When ntarakita brought the bhiku ordination
lineage to Tibet in the eighth century, he unfortunately did

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not bring bhikus too, and thus the bhiku ordination

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never took root in Tibet. However, our Teacher, the Buddha

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himself, established the bhiku order during his lifetime,

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and at the same time he airmed womens ability to attain

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both liberation and full awakening. He also expressed his

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wish for the fourfold assembly to exist and said that these
four groups harmoniously practicing the Buddhadharma
will make his teachings last a long time in this world. For all
these reasons, it is important that bhikus exist in our

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Tibetan community. This is especially true now, when the

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quality of the nuns education has vastly improved. We now

October 2013 (68)

see many nuns becoming good scholars; some nuns are

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now receiving their geshema degrees, signifying their


mastery of Buddhist philosophy.
Wherever I go in the world, I see multitudes of women
devotees; in many places they outnumber the men.

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Therefore it is only right that women have access to the

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responsibilities and privileges that full ordination brings. As

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one individual, I do not have the authority to institute

About.com Buddhism

bhiku ordination in the Tibetan community. This is an


issue that the sagha as a group must decide. For many
years now I have suggested there be an international
meeting of the sagha to decide this issue. In preparation
for that, it would be good if Tibetan bhikus could agree on
a way to give the Mlasarvstivda bhiku ordination. I
am pleased to see the support for this from many of heads
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The Dalai Lama on full ordination for women | Wisdom Publi...

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of Tibetan lineages. I have also shared some vinaya


material with Laotian and Burmese Buddhist leaders. We
will have a serious discussion, and I am quite sure some

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agreement will be achieved eventually.

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We Tibetans were very fortunate that after persecution by

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King Langdarma in the ninth century, we were able to

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restore the bhiku lineage, which was on the verge of

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extinction in Tibet. As a result, so many men have been

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able to listen, reflect, and meditate on the Dharma as fully


ordained monks, and this has benefited Tibetan society as
well as the world. Therefore, let us do our best to research
this issue and find a way to establish the bhiku sagha
as well. In countries that currently have bhiku
ordination, such as Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam, bhikus
benefit the Dharma and society in many ways. Recently
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Lankathere were about one thousand bhikkhuns as of

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2012and there are now even some bhikkhuns in

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Thailand.
Equal opportunity regarding ordination is important. Citing
passages in the vinaya, some Tibetan vinaya masters
suggest that under special circumstances, a bhiku
ordination performed by the bhiku sagha alone is valid.

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These special circumstances include a place where

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bhikus are not available to give the ordination because

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no bhikus reside in that area or because it is too


dangerous for bhikus to travel to that place. Previous
and contemporary vinaya masters in the Chinese
community agree with this.
In the meantime, several women who practice Tibetan

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Buddhism have received bhiku ordination in the

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Dharmaguptaka vinaya from Chinese, Vietnamese, or

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Korean saghas. We recognize them as bhikus. I

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The Dalai Lama on full ordination for women | Wisdom Publi...

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encourage them to do the three main sagha activities


together.

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In addition to introducing bhiku ordination, bhikus


must also become objects of reverence. Therefore, we
must examine passages in Buddhist texts as well as
attitudes and practices in our communities that are biased
against women. The Buddha wanted his sagha to
conform with many of the cultural attitudes of the time. As
the sagha, we must do this in the twenty-first century as
well. Since modern societies, as well as the United Nations,

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stress the importance of gender equality and respect for

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women, we Buddhists must do so as well.

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