premiere femme bouddhiste

According to the principles of Buddhism, integration into a monastic community requires a lot of will on the part of the apprentice monk. Only four basic needs are available to them: food, shelter, clothing, primary care. Is it the same for the nun's apprentice? Who was the first woman to be subject to these rules?

Mahaprajapati Gautami, the dean of the Buddhist Sangha

Buddha founded the order of male monks called “Bhikkus” in the 5th century. Then 5 years later, the order of “Bhikkunis” was born, that is to say the Buddhist female monastic order. At that time, the Great Master of Wisdom ordained Mahaprajapati Gautami, his aunt and adoptive mother, and became the dean of this first female order. In fact, she went through all the stages to achieve ordination. To do this, she had to obtain the consent of her husband and his family.

However, within the framework of the Buddhist movement, certain laws are in force and govern ordination. In the case of Mahaprajapati Gautami, two monks were present. But in our time, the requirements for the ordination of a new nun depend on each country and its practices. In some countries, such as Sri Lanka, the order of Bhikkunis had been extinct for several years.

About Buddhist ordination

Like all religious practices, ordination is the most sacred ritual of Buddhism, just like ordination between Catholics and Orthodox. According to the Dalai Lama, three prerequisites are necessary to become a monk or nun, which are:

  • Have a broad knowledge of Buddhist teachings. This procedure is essential because before a student can fully engage, it is imperative that he or she have a thorough knowledge of Buddhism and related teachings. Consider the teachings on the stages of the path to spiritual enlightenment known as "Lam-Rim", the Four Noble Truths or the Eight Times Trail. Indeed, the young monk or nun can request ordination after several years of study and practice with the support of their Master;
  • Having a spiritual guide, that is to say that each apprentice monk or nun has their own teacher who accompanies them throughout their journey, including the different practices, the pronunciation of lay and monastic vows, etc. ;
  • Prepare for ordination. Ordination is a commitment that must be experienced beforehand. The passage within a monastic community is therefore recommended in order to have an insight into the future life of a monk or nun, to have assurance and above all to benefit from the advice and opinions of elders. In recent years, a program linked to the understanding of monastic life has been put in place to better help novices.

The three stages of Buddhist practices

According to Buddhist practices, the first step is to reduce attachment to life, the second step is to eliminate attachment and desire for samsara, and the last step is to eliminate self-healing. To better understand each step, you will find their explanation below:

Step 1. Reducing attachment to life: when a monk or nun makes their last vows. This admits a detachment from daily life, that is to say a break with the past, whatever its nature and extent. Furthermore, this step is crucial because it offers the young monk or nun the opportunity to make a lifelong commitment to monastic life;

Step 2. Eliminate attachment and desire for samsara: the apprentice has the obligation to concentrate on this step , because this is the only way to submit to suffering and attachment and then be reborn. In other words, it is the cycle of transmigration from lay people to monks/nuns. It is also a journey during which the latter joins a new community called “Sangha”;

Step 3. Eliminate self-cherishing: Every human being feels the need to love and satisfy themselves. Generally speaking, it is a desire. However, Sangha integration requires a willingness to detach from desire. There is even a code of conduct called the Vinya Rules which prohibits monks and nuns from pursuing any worldly profession that allows them to support themselves other than their basic needs.

The rebirth of the female Buddhist order

The treatment imposed on Bhikkkus, monks, and Bhikkunis, nuns, is different. Nuns are subject to eight laws, that is, they are subject to monks. In this community, women take care of the monastery, bow to a man, etc. In general, Buddhists never accept the ordination of a nun, because they believe that being born female is a sign of bad karma. However, this principle goes against that of Buddha because he never perceived women as such.

This is why, in his time, he ordained Bhikkunis. For around ten years, the order of Bhikkkunis has been authorized thanks to the enthusiasm of Buddhist women. Indeed, Dhammananda declared that the monks are in error since the ordination of the female Buddhist order comes from the Buddha himself. Since then, the nuns, led by Karma Lekshe Tsomo, wanted to regain their status and overcome the judgments of the Bhikkus. She is the founder of a female Buddhist organization.

The feminine figure of Buddhism through Tara

Buddha is in principle the first human being, Buddhist, to have reached the degrees of perfection. However, in the 10th century, a Buddhist woman almost achieved the wisdom of the Buddha, Tara. Since then, she has continued to watch over humanity and the Buddhist community, hence her name "Benevolent and Protective Buddhist Mother" due to her native Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism.

She is also the female figure of Siddhartha Gautama known as Buddha. It is also the latter who names him “Tara”, his first name refers to compassion. At the time, she promised to promote the welfare of humanity. History tells us that this goddess protects us from dangers, guides us, encourages us and accompanies us in everything we do.

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