Abstract: Building Bridges for Theravadin Bhikkhuni Sangha in diverse worlds

by Bhikkhuni Ayya Gunasari

This paper discusses in (four) major areas.

1. A brief overview of Buddhist women in Myanmar

A brief overview of Buddhist women in Myanmar, including lay Buddhist women, lay Buddhist women teachers, silashins (non-ordained nuns or precepts holder) fully ordained bhikkhunis in Theravada tradition and their relationship with the community of bhikkhu Sangha order. It is my personal view that there is a very critical need to build bridges to connect the gaps that seems to be widening by the passage of time, between the ancient women’s tradition of Buddha’s time and that of Theravada Buddhist women of today.

2. Education as a bridge

There is a commonality between the community of Sangha and the group of Theravada women in the dissemination of Buddha’s teaching, to carry out the work of Buddha ministerial work in the most effective way to the lay community in to days’ environment and condition. To carry out this work, in my humble opinion, we need education on the part of both the community of Bhikkhuni Sangha and the emerging women Sangha (both fully ordained and non-ordained sila shins). There are as a general rule, the dhamma teaching and learning (pariyatti) and the training practice (patipatti) work. Given the modern day conditions and the overall educational level of the lay community, it has become critically important that dhamma workers be better educated both in theory (pariyatti) and the training practices (patipatti). To disseminate the Buddha dhamma effectively, we dhamma workers must have proper divisions of work: for example, Buddhist women from diverse worlds (psychologists, lawyers, social workers, writers, artists, technologists, etc. each and every one of them has a role to play in their appropriate way according to their specialized skill to carrying out the dhamma work.

3.  Applying Ten Perfections as Bridges

The modern day Theravada dhamma works must have the liberal attitude of sharing the dhamma dissemination work between both sexes – male and female dhamma workers. We both are working to fulfill the ten perfections – paramita. Our Lord Buddha taught us that to fulfill one’s perfection, one has to work diligently for it. No one can fulfill it for you; and no one could take it away from fulfilling one’s perfection. In keeping with this noble teaching, let us use this as the bridge between the community of male Sangha and the female Sangha and working together in unison the work left over or that he bequeathed to us, by our teacher. In keeping this as our ultimate goal, I propose to work together and reach out for our final goal of Nibbana.

4.   Epilogue

a.    Mythology Vs Reality
b.    Risk Vs Benefit
c.    Liabilities Vs assets
d.    How long do we have to wait to realize our goal, Buddha bequeathed to us – the four bodies – Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Upasaka and Upasika.