Archive | October 2011

2. The Discourse about Soma

Thus I have heard:

at one time the Gracious One was dwelling near Sāvatthī at Anāthapiṇḍika’s grounds in Jeta’s Wood.

Then the nun Somā, having dressed in the morning time, after picking up her bowl and robe, was entering Sāvatthī for alms. After walking for alms in Sāvatthī, and returning from the alms-round after the meal, she approached the Blind Man’s Wood to pass the day, and having entered Blind Man’s Wood, she sat down at the root of a certain tree to pass the day.

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Poems from the Therigatha by Shi Faxun – 2

Shi Faxun

Shi Faxun

Kisāgotamī

213.
The state of having noble friends has been praised by the sage with reference to the world; if he resorted to noble friends, even a fool would be wise.

214.
Good men are to be resorted to; in this way this wisdom of those who resort to them increases. Resorting to good men one would be released from all pains.

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Photos from the Bhikkhuni Ordination at Spirit Rock

Ayya Anandabodhi, Ayya Santacitta & Ayya Nimmala, receiving ordination at Spirit Rock Meditation Center on October 17th 2011, with Ayya Tathaaloka as preceptor.

Photos by ED RITGER © 2011 Ed Ritger; thanks to Ayya Anandabodhi for permission to share from her Facebook.

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1. The Discourse about Alavika

Thus I have heard:

at one time the Gracious One was dwelling near Sāvatthī at Anāthapiṇḍika’s grounds in Jeta’s Wood.

Then the nun Āḷavikā, 1 having dressed in the morning time, after picking up her bowl and robe, was entering Sāvatthī for alms. After walking for alms in Sāvatthī, and returning from the alms-round after the meal, she approached the Blind Man’s Wood 2 seeking for seclusion.

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Poems from the Therigatha by Shi Faxun – 1

Shi Faxun

Shi Faxun

Muttā

11.
I am well-released, properly released by my release by means of the three crooked things, [from] the mortar, pestle, and my crooked husband. I am released from birth and death; everything which leads to renewed existence has been rooted out.
Saṅghā

18.
Giving up my house, gone forth, giving up son, cattle, and whatever was dear to me, giving up desire and hatred, and discarding ignorance, plucking out craving root and all, I have become stilled, quenched.

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The First Chinese Bhikkhunis 3

“Lives of the Bhikkhunis” by Bao Chang, Liang Dynasty: A biography of Pu-Xian Temple Bhikkhuni Bao-Xianiv 1

Bhante Sujāto

Bhante Sujāto

Bao-Xian; Lay family name Chen; Chen city citizen.

At age sixteen her mother passed away. In memory of her, Bao-Xian did not eat rice for 3 years, surviving on beans and taro. She did not wear silk fabrics or cotton; neither did she use a bed and woven mat.

Aged nineteen she renounced and resided at Jian-An Temple. Her conduct in devel­oping her practice was very refined; she had a broad under­standing of medit­ation and Vinaya. Emperor Wen of the Song dynasty paid respects to Bao-Xian by making offerings of clothing and food requisites. Subsequently, emperor Xiao-Wu honored her with an allowance of ten thousand chen monthly. When emperor Ming ascended the throne, he received her with great respect and offerings. By the first year of emperor Tai-Shi she was made abbess of Pu-Xian Temple by imperial decree. In the second year of Tai-Shi’s reign she was again honored by imperial decree being made a Sangha judge in the capital city of the province.

She was a greatly impressive, determined character, with brilliant judgement, as if she had psychic powers. Skilled in the logic of debate, she was certainly capable of releasing any person who was wrongly accused. Her temperament was upright and forth­right, she would never compromise on what she knew was right.

In the early peaceful period of the Jin dynasty [335 – 342 C.E.], the nun Jing-Jian was the first Chinese Bhikkhuni. Initially, they received the ordin­ation from the monks only. The nuns Hui-Guo and Jing-Yin from Ying-Fu temple once questioned Ven. Gunav­arman regarding this, Ven. Gunav­arman said: ‘In this country, in this territory there is no two-fold assembly. However, receiving the ordin­ation from the monks only is adequate.’

Later, nuns Hui-Guo and others encountered foreign Bhikkhunis when they arrived [in China], Ayyā Sārā and others. In the eleventh year of the reign of emperor Yuan-Jia [434 C.E.] they re-received full ordin­ation at Nan-Lin Temple from Ven. Sanghav­arman. This does not mean that the former one-fold assembly ordin­ation was not allowable. It is said that re-ordination was for the sake of improving their Vinaya. Later, many of those who were inter­ested re-ordained.

However, problems arose when they ordained without invest­ig­ating. In the time of emperor Yong-Hui, in the second year of his reign [650 C.E.], Vinaya master Ven. Fa-Ying at Jin-Xing Temple started to explain the Sarvāstivāda Vinaya. That day there were more than 10 nuns wishing to receive ordin­ation again. Bhikkhuni Bao-Xian dispatched the head of the Sangha Bureau with an order to assemble the nuns in the Dharma hall. They made an announcement with the wooden knocker and commanded that all nuns not be allowed to receive a second ordin­ation without official approval. [The problem arose because] some of those who were ordained, when invest­igated, were not old enough to be ordained. Their upajjhāyinīs were told to assemble in advance and confess in front of the Sangha. In future those seeking reordin­ation were made to report to the Sangha Bureau to check that they were qualified. Ven. Bao-Xian also requested a person to supervise and examine the candidates to ascertain whether they are able to re-ordain. If they disobeyed or resisted, it was commanded to dismiss them and not [allow] them to remain in the community. After this, the wave of re-ordination was controlled.

In her duties as a Sangha Judge she was incor­ruptible and discerning. She gave comfort to the multitude and bestowed kindness on disciples. She was sober, with few desires, and was highly respected in the world. In the first year of the reign of emperor Sheng-Ming, aged 77, she passed away.

End Notes

1 CBETA, T50, no. 2063, p. 941, a8-b2.


Editor’s note: This text has been translated from the Chinese by Bhikkhunī Samacittā, and edited by Bhikkhu Sujāto, who gave permission for the serialisation here.

The First Chinese Bhikkhunis 2

“Lives of the Bhikkhunis” by Bao Chang, Liang Dynasty: A biography of Bhikkhuni Seng-Guo of Kuang-Ling city 1

Bhante Sujāto

Bhante Sujāto

Bhikkhuni Seng-Guo; Original lay family name Zhao, first name Fa-You; born in Ji region, Xiu-Wu city.

From her birth she had a sincere, honest, pure, and simple nature. As a baby girl when her mother breast fed her she would not suckle after midday. Her parents were both surprised and joyful about her excep­tional qualities. When she grew up, even though her mind was devoted to Buddhism, there were many obstructive condi­tions that made it too difficult for her to ordain.

Only at twenty seven did she finally receive permission to renounce and follow her teacher Hui-Cong in Kuang-Ling city. Seng-Guo was firm in her practice of Vinaya, and her medit­ative insight was clear. Often when she entered samadhi she would sit from sunset to dawn, or from dawn to sunset. Her breath was soft like cotton, and she was always abiding in a pure state of mind. Her silhouette was like a dried out tree. Still those with little faith doubted her.

In the sixth year of emperor Yuan-Jia, a foreigner shipowner, called Nandi, brought Bhikkhunis from Sri Lanka. They arrived at Song capital city and the bhikkhunis resided at Jing-Fu temple. Soon after they arrived, they [the Sri Lankan Bhikkhunis] asked Ven. Seng-Guo: ‘Have any foreign nuns arrived here before?’ She answered: ‘Never!’ Again they asked: ‘When the first Bhikkhunis here received ordin­ation, where did you receive the ordin­ation from the two assem­blies?’ She answered: ‘[The precepts] were received from the monks alone.’ The reason they ordained them with only the monks’ assembly was to give women the chance to ordain and inspire them with respect for living within the Vinaya — it was a skilful means. For example, Mahāpra­jāpatī, after accepting the eight garud­hammas, was therefore allowed to ordain. The 500 Sakyan women then followed Mahāpra­jāpatī as upajjhāyinī and ordained. This is the earliest example.

Although Ven. Guo gave such an answer to the Sri Lanka nuns in her own mind she had doubt. Therefore she went and consulted the Tripitaka master, who gave the same opinion. But still she asked: ‘Should I renew the ordin­ation?’ He answered: ‘Virtue, concen­tration, and wisdom are all gradual practices. So to renew the ordin­ation would be better.’ Not until the year 10 (433 C.E.) did the ship owner, Nandi, again convey eleven Bhikkhunis from Sri Lanka, including Bhikkhuni Ayyā Sārā. By that time, the Bhikkhunis who had arrived previ­ously could already speak the Song language [Chinese]. They requested Ven. Sanghav­arman to set up the ordin­ation altar at Nan-Ling temple. In succession, more than 300 Bhikkhunis took re-ordination.

During the eight­eenth year of the reign of emperor Yuan-Jia, at age 34, once she meditated for several days. The Karmadana delib­er­ately touched her and announced that she was dead. He was shocked and informed the temple admin­is­trators. They invest­igated her together. Ven. Guo’s body was cold but her muscles were still firm. However, her breath started to move slightly. As soon as they began to move her body she opened her eyes, smiled and talked as usual. Therefore, the people with little faith were surprised and became devoted to her. There is no record about her later life.

End Notes

1 CBETA, T50, no. 2059, p. 342, b11-c7. The Liang Biographies (‘Lives of the Buddhist Monks’) was completed by Huijiao (497~554) in the Liang dynasty.


Editor’s note: This text has been translated from the Chinese by Bhikkhunī Samacittā, and edited by Bhikkhu Sujāto, who gave permission for the serialisation here.