Read Smoothing the Way * (pdf file), a personal reflection on my journey in the holy life and my hopes for future nuns, published online by Alliance for Bhikkhunis (AfB) in mid-2012.

Excerpt: **

   “Venerable Ayye (Ladies) Sangha, I request ordination. In your    compassion, Ayye, raise me up.” …

By the end of the ceremony, nothing much has happened, just some words said, a carefully rehearsed script in an ancient language to affirm her basic qualifications

and her acceptance into the Order—a little skit really, reportedly directed by the Buddha himself, in which the junior nun plays a petitioner and others play her advocates or adjudicators. The candidate’s training and qualifications were long ago assessed; there are no surprises on this day. It is all a mere formality.

Yet something extraordinary has occurred. A woman crossed over from the fringes of monastic life into full center, a rite of passage. Many onlookers weep. For me it was like a spiritual rebirth–

Click the link to read the entire article


** Abbreviated excerpt.

(For interviews with ordaining nuns mentioned in this article:


3 thoughts on “Smoothing the Way (ordination)

  1. onewildpreciouslife

    Dear Ayye,
    Thank you so much for your work, your journey and this article. As a young woman contemplating ordination, there are not words to describe my happiness, gratefulness, joy or relief for finding such information. I’m an Australian travelling in Asia studying meditation, I never had a second thought about gender issues until I really got into Theravada Buddhism and stayed in Asia. I never conceived of being in this situation.
    But blogs and articles like yours make me weep with joy and relief that I am not alone, that if I wish to devote my life to Dhamma, the path is a little smoother, a little straighter, a little less lonely.
    For the meantime I carry on my journey with faith, strengthened by the example you and other strong women have set. I long to meet female Dhamma companions on my journey, but now know it will only be a matter of time.
    Thank you, thank you.
    Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

    1. ayyasudhamma Post author

      Blessings to you, dear Dhamma Sister.

      Thank you for your encouraging words of appreciation, which make me smile even as my heart breaks for you. Yes the gross gender discrimination is a bit of a shock at first. Rest assured that the Buddha did not endorse these imbalances; contrary to popular belief he made every practical effort to smooth the way for women to enjoy the fruits of the holy life. You can soothe your heart when encountering these things by reflecting not on the injustices but instead on how fortunate you have been to never experience these things before and not develop throughout girlhood the terrible burdens and inner limitations that come when raised under suffocating ideas of inferiority. Always protect your mind, especially being careful not to harbor resentful thoughts against otherwise good monks who believe anti-woman ideas that they were taught; it is so strong in the culture that such monks may nonetheless hold liberating Right View of the Dhamma path.

      And yes, connecting with your elder sisters on the path should be just a matter of time. I wonder in which country you may be staying right now. In Thailand last I heard there are about 50 fully ordained bhikkhunis at various centres, including at least one Westerner, the austere and impressive Ayya Phalanyani of Germany. Her current blog is here: Her past blog, which chronicled her painful and difficult early efforts to find her path as a renunciate in Thailand, is here:

      Ayya Sudhamma

      1. onewildpreciouslife

        Dear Ayye,
        Thank you, thank you, so so much. Your words are beautiful, encouraging and give me strength.
        Most importantly they cut straight to the heart, of what’s really important.
        It’s our first 2 weeks in a wat in Thailand, and I’ve been so caught up in my ‘shock’ as you say, my restless thoughts about this and my subtle ill-will and anger. And doubt, mostly about my own capability to deal with it all, and my sanity! Multiple hindrance attack… I see that this is the most important thing for me to work on first- my own mind! (Of course 🙂 as always!)
        So that’s my focus for the days of meditation ahead. You’re so right, I do have a lot to be grateful for, so many opportunities and advantages, not least, somewhere to sleep and a meal here to support practice. So indeed, much to be humbly grateful for, and not angry.
        I will research Ayya Phalanyani, thank you for the wonderful suggestion. I have two bhikkhuni monasteries in my list so far, Songdhammakalyani I found on the internet, and Nirodharam, as suggested by Bhante Sujato. When I get the chance I plan to visit them.
        Once again, I can’t thank you enough for your priceless advice and beautiful kindness! Sadhu sadhu sadhu!

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