The full ordination of women in Theravāda Buddhism is one of the most important issues in Theravāda Buddhism at present, and it’s a topic that has caused much controversy and is still opposed by the main Sangha Councils, although lay support, and individual support from monastics, is quite strong.
This film, from Voice of America, looks at how the bhikkhuni revival has been accomplished in Thailand and in the USA, with interviews with two of the prime movers behind the movement: Ayyā Tathāloka in the USA, and Ven Dhammananda in Thailand.
The thing that comes across so clearly in the film is that women seeking ordination are doing so, as the title suggests, in order to fulfil the Buddha’s vision of having both a male and female monastic lineage, and to lead a full and authentic monastic life.
Despite being met with opposition at every step of the way these women have persevered in their belief, and not only have survived but are flourishing, with literally thousands of bhikkhunis now ordained throughout the Theravāda world.
The film hears from various nuns and lay supporters, and also from monastic supporters, and from those who oppose ordination. Through the story of these two lineages we learn a lot about the struggles and successes of the past 25 years in the revival of the Theravāda bhikkhuni order.
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