First of all, I don’t just refer to them as “female monks”. As I said before, I am against the gender binary, and prefer not to label things by gender whenever possible. But I understand that sometimes it is useful and convenient to do so.
Furthermore, I believe It is important to address the issues that exist within Buddhism as a whole. People tend to think of Buddhism as this perfect religion, but like all institutions, it has its problems. We need to be able to critically assess Buddhism as a whole if we wish to improve the conditions that exist within the monastic institutions. I think to do so, we need to be able to look at Buddhism through a different methodology, including looking at it through a gendered lense.
“it is necessary as a strategic method to illustrate how systems of power limit others based on categories created by words… . it takes a keen awareness to be able to mention those words in order to not make an argument too abstract where potential to create meaning is lost.”
It is a shame that women in monastic communities do not have the same rights, privileges, and opportunities afforded to men. That is something that has to change.
In general, we need to stop expecting people to conform to these arbitrary and generated cultural standards, and part of it stops when we start being more critical about the type of words we use, and the stereotypes that we perpetuate.
“However, to disregard them as just “female monks” is to ignore a lot of the problems that go on within Buddhist monastic institutions. After all, women in the monastic community do have to adhere to more rules and don’t move up like males do.”
Or you can just say, “Buddhist Nuns”. I think that’s the more appropriate term.
While some may refer to themselves in the West as “nuns” that is not a term used by The Buddha and his original Sangha. The Buddhist term is Bhikku, which translates to monk, and for women Bhikkuni and in keeping with the idea that there is no difference between a Buddhist woman and a Buddhist man, no i DID mean “Female Monk”.
The term nun differentiates one from the other. There should not be a difference and many women and females both laypeople and those who have taken their vows are using this term of monk for both genders now.
that is nothing against those schools who DO choose to use the word nun, but these are shoalin monks and from the source of the photo, they do seem to prefer the translation monk for either gender.
I like the term “female monk” better, and as I am reading a book that uses these terms it feels right.
I hope that we all can learn from this, and view it as a mere scholarly discussion, as opposed to an argument. I will answer to your response point-by-point:
“While some may refer to themselves in the West as “nuns” that is not a term used by The Buddha and his original Sangha”.
Indeed that is correct. The Buddha, however, did not use the word “bikkhu” nor “bikkhuni” to refer to his monastic community, either. That’s because the word “bikkhu” and “bikkhuni” are from the Pali language. Contrary to popular belief, the Buddha did not speak Pali. Pali is a central-Indian language, and we know that the Buddha originated from northern India. Not only that, but Pali is a newer dialect that emerged after the Buddha’s death. He actually spoke an earlier language called Maghadi.
I am not certain of what the word equivalent to “bhikkhu” and “bhikkhuni” are in Maghadi, unfortunately.
“The Buddhist term is Bhikku, which translates to monk, and for women Bhikkuni and in keeping with the idea that there is no difference between a Buddhist woman and a Buddhist man, no i DID mean “Female Monk” “.
The term “bhikkhuni” actually translates to “one who begs” . ”Bhikkhuni” is just the female version of one who begs. Therefore, from the very beginning, there was indeed distinction between the two.
As a matter of fact—and I do think this is unfortunate—women in the monastic community have been treated differently from the start. If we look at the Vinayas there are actually more rules laid out for women than there are to the men.“That is nothing against those schools who DO choose to use the word nun,”
I agree with you there. Whatever the term it is that they choose for themselves, I am willing to respect. In fact, this is more convenient for the people who have different gender identity, sexuality, etc.
I just wanted to point out some historical references to clarify a few things. But I do hope that in the near future, women are able to enjoy equality, not just in the religious aspect of their lives, but in all aspects in general.
im really sorry if that came off as argumentative, sorry ! the internet makes all my typing seem so blunt.
I am learning from this, thank you for your lesson on the origin of Bhikku, I assumed the use from the translation I have read of Buddha’s words that uses the term. Sorry. What I meant by the use of Bhikku and Bhikkuni is that it is merely the feminine form of “one who begs” just as you say, whereas nun is a role given exclusively to women and to me there is a distinction. “Actor” and “Actress” are masculine and feminine forms of the same “job”. Both are “one who acts”, but nun is not really a feminine form of what monks are, it distinguishes that these are women first and Buddhist practitioners who have taken vows second. I hope to move to a time where we can just use “monk” for all Buddhists in English, since there is not a direct translation for bhikku and bhikuuni (like yogi and yogini, i suppose).
My main point, i suppose, is that I personally (and I should have used the word personally in the first post) feel that nun is a separation of gender. The monks I have spoken to use the word monk and I too prefer it. Sorry for the tone seeming argumentative again!
GREAT insight on the use of words provided by zen’s response, what do you all think?
the non-dualist has really summarized my feelings on this issue far more succinctly and eloquently than i was doing. please read through her responses! especially when she talks about the institution of Buddhism.
I personally believe that the Eightfold Path is the path to end suffering, BUT BUDDHISM is a religion formed and practiced and organized by human beings, many of whom are not enlightened yet and we must look at what they are doing MINDFULLY. and many of these institutions are surprisingly unfair in the equality front.
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