How will you observe Kathina?

Last year’s bhikkhuni ordination in Australia prompted an unprecedented outpouring of support for the Theravada bhikkhuni movement. It was certainly a tipping point. The center of discussion in the wider community has begun to shift from questions about ordination to questions about how to support and nurture the growing community of nuns. This was the first year that the “Theravada Buddhist women’s monastic community has gathered together to observe the vassatime retreat.” Tomorrow will mark their first Kathina ceremony at the Aranya Bodhi Hermitage.

The Kathina ceremony follows the end of Vassa, the rains retreat. Commonly known as the robe offering ceremony, it’s an important occasion for the laity to extend support to the monastic community. For those who have never before participated in Kathina, or provided direct support to the monastic sangha, this is a great opportunity to make a donation, either by purchasing an item off a “Useful Things List” (see here, for example) or just write a check, and let someone else handle the logistics. Spending your hard-earned cash is important. Aside from providing material benefit, every dollar spent towards the bhikkhuni community is a dollar that didn’t go to any other cause. And money speaks.

If you’re a little more ambitious, you could even sponsor an individual bhikkhuni. Everyone must deal with ongoing costs including food, shelter, transportation, health care, etc. These costs can be monetized. If you have the financial means to do so on your own, you could purchase a solid health insurance plan, for example. But sponsorship isn’t restricted to the wealthiest in the community. You could get a group of individuals to sponsor a nun together, spreading the costs across several individuals. Not only does this group sponsorship provide direct material support at a more affordable level, it also strengthens the relationship between the monastic community and the lay community. People pay attention to where their money goes.

Those are just a couple suggestions. What do you plan to do this Kathina?

5 comments

  1. BUDDHISM IS RELIGION

    OPEN LETTER TO THE FOLLOWING SCHOLARS:

    Dan Arnold; Richard Mahoney; Franz Metcalf ; Charles Muller; Gail Chin; Paul Hackett; Gereon Kopf; Dan Lusthaus; Boris Oguibenine; John Powers; Jin Y. Park; Alexander Soucy; Will Tuladhar-Douglas; Bill Kirtz; Christian Wittern; William Bodiford; Jamie Hubbard; John McRae; Charles Prebish.

    According to your: http://www.h-net.org/~buddhism/

    “The Buddhist Scholars Information Network (H-Buddhism) … is not a list intended for general discussions of issues regarding Buddhism as a religion, …”

    BUDDHISM IS RELIGION

    There is no other way to regard Buddhism except as a Religion.

    And ‘Buddhist Scholars’ are supposed to be members of the Buddhist religion, by way of any of its traditional schools of Buddhism, otherwise they do not have the legal right to entitle themselves ‘Buddhist’.

    BUDDHISM IS RELIGION!

  2. Hun Tun says:

    Arhat Aryashakya,

    With respect, I think you have completely misunderstood the statement on the website you linked to. The authors do not claim Buddhism is not a religion. Rather, they are simply explaining the purpose of their website, which “serves as a medium for the exchange of information regarding academic resources, new research projects, scholarly publications, university job listings, and so forth.

  3. Hun Tun says:

    Thanks for sharing this Arun. I’m a convert to Buddhism and I have to say that learning about the treatment of women in many sanghas has been an uncomfortable experience for me. I realize that Buddhism is hardly unique amongst religions in this respect, that mistreatment of women is a serious problem in many human societies, and the institutions of Buddhism are run by human beings subject to human failings born out of the klesas. Nevertheless, it’s still been disturbing for me to learn about the discrimination women have historically faced and in some cases still face. I’m glad to hear about a growing community of bhikkunis in the Theravada tradition.

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