Saturday, 26 December 2009

Wither the direction of Theravadin Buddhism?

This was how I spent my Christmas this year: attending a talk on Buddhism by Ajahn Brahmavamso (more popularly known as Ajahn Brahm), abbot of the Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery and spiritual director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

He was at the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Kampar Road, Penang to conduct an annual retreat for followers and was speaking about the creation or origin of the Universe from the Buddhist point of view. I found the topic very interesting but unfortunately, my wife was lost in space.

Nevertheless after the talk, we went up to him. We told him that we had actually gone to the BSWA at Serpentine on 1 Nov 2009, hoping to meet him but was informed that he was away in Thailand. Apparently, at that time, he was embroiled with fundamentalists within the Theravadan branch of Buddhism in Thailand. From his website:
Ajahn Brahm has also been influential in establishing Dhammasara Nuns' Monastery at Gidgegannup in the hills north-east of Perth to be a wholly independent monastery for nuns, where the Sri Lankan trained, Australian nun Ajahn Vayama is currently abbess. He has been instrumental in providing full Bhikkhuni ordination at this monastery, thereby re-establishing the Buddha's lineage of nuns which had died out in Theravadan countries (October 2009). The selfless action of providing an authentic pathway for women to lead the Holy Life led to a reaction from fundamentalist elements within his original training Sangha who excommunicated him. Large parts of the the international Buddhist community have since rallied and campaigned in support of him.

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