In the sixth century before the Christian era, religion was forgotten in India. The lofty teachings of the vedas were thrown into the background. There was much priestcraft everywhere. The insincere priests traded on religion. They duped the people in a variety of ways and amassed wealth for themselves. They were quite irreligious. In the name of religion, people followed in the footsteps of the cruel priests and performed meaningless rituals. They killed innocent dumb animals and did various sacrifices. The country was in dire need of a reformer of Buddha's type. At such a critical period, when there were cruelty, degeneration and unrighteousness everywhere, reformer Buddha was born to put down priestcraft and animal sacrifices, to save the people and disseminate the message of equality, unity and cosmic love everywhere.
Buddha's father was Suddhodana, king of the Sakhyas. Buddha's mother was named Maya. Buddha was born in B.C. 560 and died at the age of eighty in B.C. 480. The place of his birth was a grove known as Lumbini, near the city of Kapilavastu, at the foot of Mount Palpa in the Himalayan ranges within Nepal. This small city Kapilavastu stood on the bank of the little river Rohini, some hundred miles north-east of the city of Varnasi. As the time drew nigh for Buddha to enter the world, the gods themselves prepared the way before him with celestial portents and signs. Flowers bloomed and gentle rains fell, although out of season; heavenly music was heard, delicious scents filled the air. The body of the child bore at birth the thirty-two auspicious marks (Mahavyanjana) which indicated his future greatness, besides secondary marks (Anuvyanjana) in large numbers. Maya died seven days after her son's birth. The child was brought up by Maya's sister Mahaprajapati, who became its foster-mother.
Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of life. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow a path — a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood.
Because Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god, some people do not see it as a religion in the normal, Western sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. Thus Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, or gender. It teaches practical methods (such as meditation) which enable people to realise and utilise its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives and to develop the qualities of Wisdom and Compassion.
There are around 350 million Buddhists and a growing number of them are Westerners. They follow many different forms of Buddhism, but all traditions are characterised by non-violence, lack of dogma, tolerance of differences, and, usually, by the practice of meditation .
Regarding the current Bhikkhuni ordination excitement in Ajahn Chah’s Sangha and the resulting “excommunication” (LOL) of Bhikkhu Brahmavamsa, the following Dhammapada verse came to mind:
Other’s faults are easy to see
yet hard it is to see one’s own,
and so one winnows just like chaff
the faults of other people, while
hiding away those of one’s own
as crafty cheat the losing throw.
When such a great number of contemporary monks show such a plain disregard for even the most basic precepts (think 10 sīla etc…), it seems almost like a joke that they would so vehemently oppose Bhikkhuni ordination pointing towards the Vinaya and tradition.
Personally, I yet have to meet any dedicated practicing monk who was absolutely against reinstating the Bhikkhuni ordination. Never met anyone who would dispute the Buddha’s decision to allow women to enter the order and find a spiritual home.
BTW, as Bhikkhu Bodhi made the case, legally it should be no problem at all – and practically speaking: The Ayya Khema tradition in Germany and several other female meditation centers in Sri Lanka perform Bhikkhuni ordinations for more than 10, 20 years now.However, now that the Bhikkhunī Sangha has been reconstituted in Sri Lanka,
there is no longer any justification for using ordination by a Sangha composed solely of bhikkhus. If any woman wants to receive bhikkhunī ordination in the Theravāda tradition, she should receive training as a sikkhamānā and eventual bhikkhunī ordination in Sri Lanka itself. No doubt, in time the opportunity for bhikkhunī ordination will also spread to the West.