Abstract: Future Perspectives and Necessities of Bhikshuni Ordination

by Janet Gyatso

Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies
The Divinity School, Harvard University

My talk will contrast some of the reasons for the relative lower status and decline of the bhiksuni order historically with the promise of the new bhiksuni order today.  I will argue that a celibate and fully ordained female order has unprecedented potential and symbolic capital in the particular circumstances of 21st century global culture.  I will also maintain that outstanding members of the new bhiksuni order will likely become leaders in world Buddhism more generally. My remarks will combine Buddhological scholarship with theoretical reflections on the category of gender in a Buddhist context.