Thailand's rebel female Buddhist monks defy tradition

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Disir, Jan 5, 2019.

  1. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    Boodsabann Chanthawong recently joined a growing number of women defying generations of Thai Buddhist tradition by becoming ordained as novice monks at an unrecognized all-female monastery outside Bangkok.

    Leading a procession of 21 other women — from teenagers to senior citizens — to a chapel in the Songdhammakalyani monastery in Nakhon Pathom province, Boodsabann teared up as she prepared to exchange her white garments for the distinctive saffron robes otherwise seen almost exclusively on male monks.

    I'm going to overcome this obstacle and become ordained like I've always wanted," the 49-year-old businesswoman said before the ceremony on Dec. 5, where she would have her head shaved. She stayed for nine days at the temple.


    Officially, only men can become monks and novices in Thailand under a Buddhist order that since 1928 has forbidden the ordination of women. The country does not recognize female monks or novices.

    One option for devout Thai women is to become white-clad Buddhist nuns, who follow a less-strict religious regimen than monks and are often relegated to housekeeping tasks in temples.

    In recent years, more Thai Buddhist women seeking to become full-fledged "bhikkunis," or female monks, have been defying the tradition by pursuing the other option: getting ordained overseas, usually in Sri Lanka or India.

    Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the 74-year-old abbess of the Songdhammakalyani monastery, flew to Sri Lanka to be ordained in 2001 as Thailand's first female monk.

    Since then, she has helped women like Boodsabann join the Buddhist order as novices at the monastery's ordination ceremonies every April and December.

    Thailand's rebel female Buddhist monks defy tradition

    Yep, bucking the Thailand system.
     
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  2. Rigby5
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    Rigby5 VIP Member

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    Cool. But I can't really see the incentive to become a monk?
     
  3. Lysistrata
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    Lysistrata Gold Member

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    Excellent news! Almost all of the world's religions have been overly male-identified, to the degree that they really have become pointless to the other half of the human population.

    It's good to see the female half of humanity finally claiming its rightful role in religion rather than having males acting as sole gatekeepers to the spiritual realm, which they were never entitled to do in the first place..
     
  4. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    I have to be very careful when judging gender inequality or motivations with Thailand. I was born in the US and have a completely different world view.

    That said, people join religious orders in order to focus on serving their deity and community without the distractions that come with sexual relationships, children and work. Historically, women/girls were chosen from families with money like the Vestal Virgins who served for 30 years and were emancipated from their father. Early Christianity had a game going especially with people like John Chrysostom who made it possible for rich women to circumvent laws forcing them to marry or remarry in exchange for their wealth. Then women went to monasteries because childbirth was a real killer or to maintain a level of independence, some were sent there as punishment. There is an argument that has been made that early Christian monasteries had men that opted to hand over their wealth to the Church because of taxes.

    I know that domestic violence is an issue in Thailand. I don't know if that plays a role in some of the decision making. I'm sure that just like other religious orders there are those women that are 100% focused on meditation, simplicity and serving.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  5. Blackrook
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    Blackrook Gold Member

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    Buddhism doesn't have nuns?
     
  6. sparky
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    sparky Gold Member

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    grand news! ....someone tell Sinead...

    [​IMG]
     
  7. RodISHI
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    RodISHI Gold Member

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    Not too many years ago females were also sold basically into slavery there also. I'd say that may still be the case in some instances.
     
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