Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Conflicts in Buddhist Life, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships

Crimes against Nuns recent reports

A nun is gangraped by a bus driver and his busload of men who drag her off the bus to commit the deed.  What were they thinking, a robed nun! Whats wrong with those men! What’s wrong with that society! Nepal is the birth place of the Buddha! where is the justice!

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A 21-year-old Buddhist nun was gangraped by five men inside a bus in eastern Nepal, media reports said Monday.  The victim, a resident of Bhojpur district in eastern Nepal, was travelling by bus when she was attacked by the group, which also included the driver of the bus.,10274,0,0,1,0

CHINATOWN — A Buddhist nun giving out prayer beads on Canal Street to raise  money to rebuild her burned down temple was arrested and detained for several  hours without an interpreter, she told DNAinfo.

Police charged Baojing Li, 48, with  acting as an unlicensed vendor, a misdemeanor. They claim she hawked costume  jewelry at the corner of Canal and Mott Streets on June 2 without a license from  the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

But the religious woman, who wears a traditional Buddhist robe and has a  shaven head, says she was not selling the 50-cent strands of prayer beads, but  handing them out to generous people who dropped donations in her collection  tin.

Read more:

Posted in On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

Common Sangha titles part 2 – use what we tell you


In Buddhism, the Western style of Venerable (also abbreviated as Ven.) is entitled to ordained  Buddhist monks  and  nuns  and also to novices ( shramaneras ). The title of Master may be followed for senior members of the  Sangha . Venerable, along with “” Reverend “” (Rev.) is used as a western alternative to Maha Thera in the  Theravada  branch and Shì (釋, as in “Sakya”) in  Chinese  Mahayana  branch.

法師 fashi is the most common form among the Chinese Buddhist community.  It means Dharma Master, and is used for all ranks of monastics from sramaneras to bhikshus and bhikshuni; this is not a term for married clergy as in the laity or for non-Buddhists.

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]


venerable : (adj.) mahanīya; garukātabba; sambhāvanīya; gāravāraha.

Source: Buddhistdoor


喇嘛A transcription of the Tibetan bla ma, usually rendered in English as lama. A Buddhist priest of the Tibetan tradition. The Through Tibetan cultural influence, the terms is also seen used in Mongolia, Nepal, Northeast India, Bhutan, etc.

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]


Lama:(m.) Tibbatīya-yati.

Wikipedia source:

Lama  ( Tibetan : བླ་མ་;  Wylie : bla-ma; “chief” or “high priest”) is a title for a  Tibetan  teacher of the  Dharma . The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru    (see  Tibetan Buddhism  and  Bön ).

Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters  or heads of monasteries.  Today the title can be used as an honorific title conferred on a  monk ,  nun or (in the  Nyingma ,  Kagyu  and  Sakya  schools) advanced  tantric  practitioner to designate a level of spiritual attainment and authority to teach, or may be part of a title such as Dalai Lama  or  Panchen Lama applied to a lineage of reincarnate lamas ( Tulkus ).  Perhaps due to misunderstandings by early western scholars attempting to understand Tibetan Buddhism, the term Lama has historically been erroneously applied to Tibetan monks generally. Similarly, Tibetan Buddhism was referred to as Lamaism by early western scholars and travelers who perhaps did not understand that what they were witnessing was a form of Buddhism; they may also have been unaware of the distinction between Tibetan Buddhism and  Bön . The term Lamaism is now considered by some to be derogatory.

In the  Vajrayana  practice path of Tibetan Buddhism, the lama is often the tantric spiritual guide, the  guru  to the aspiring Buddhist  yogi  or  yogini . As such, the lama will then appear as one of the  Three Roots  (a variant of the  Three Jewels ), alongside the  yidam  and protector (who may be a  dakini ,  dharmapala  or other Buddhist deity figure).


Source: A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 2003, 2004 (which is available in electronic version from



A Tibetan title of respect usually reserved for tülkus. The term means ‘precious guru’.


Rōshi  (老師 ? ) (Chinese  pinyin : Lǎoshī; Sanskrit : ṛṣi ) is a  Japanese  non-official honorific title used in  Zen Buddhism  that literally means “old teacher” or “elder master” and sometimes denotes a person who gives spiritual guidance to a Zen sangha or congregation. Traditionally, it was applied as a respectful honorific to an older (usually over 60) Zen teacher who was perceived by a sangha to have realized a superior understanding of the  Dharma . Despite this, it has come in some modern Zen schools to be applied as a semi-official title that doesn’t have to do with the age of the individual who receives it. This is especially true in the United States. There is sometimes dispute about use of the term rōshi, and there is wide variance in its application.

Most teachers called rōshi have undergone many years of arduous training. In some  Rinzai  organizations, a monastic is sometimes called rōshi after they have received inka  shōmei, meaning they have completed kōan study and received  Dharma transmission  from their master (full authorization to teach and pass on the lineage). In the  Harada-Yasutani  school, a lay organization that combines Soto and Rinzai elements, a person is called rōshi when they have received inka, indicating they have passed the kōan curriculum and received Dharma transmission.

In the  Sōtō  organization, a person is sometimes called rōshi after they have received the title of shike, but this is by no means standard practice.

Many Zen communities in the  United States  confer the title of rōshi to their teachers in deference to perceived Japanese Zen tradition, and in most instances it is used synonymously with the term  Zen master . However, in Japanese tradition the term’s usage has never been standardized. Its use in this way in the U.S. and Europe has at times led to confusion and controversy.

Chinese  Chán Buddhism  uses the semantically related title sifu (師父, literally “master father” or “father of masters”, or 師傅, literally “master teacher” or “teacher of masters”; both pronounced “shīfu”) as an honorific title for the highest masters, but it also may be used in respectful address of monks and nuns generally.

Stuart Lachs has argued that Zen institutions in the West have often attributed a mythic status to the title rōshi with harmful consequences.


Source: Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, G P Malalasekera (1899-1973), which is available as printed version from


Thera.-Name of a monk in Rājagaha. He lived in solitude, the virtues of which state he extolled. Hearing this, the Buddha sent for him and taught him how the solitary life could be perfected in detail (S.ii.282f).

Source: A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 2003, 2004 (which is available in electronic version from

Description: thera

Pāli honorific term meaning ‘old’ or ‘venerable’, and used with reference to the senior monks of the Buddhist monastic order (Saṃgha). The seniority of a monk is determined not by age but by the time elapsed since ordination. Normally ten years’ standing is required for a monk to be considered as a thera.

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]

Description: thera : [m.] an elder; a senior; a monk who has spent 10 years from his upasampadā. adj. old; elder.

Source: Pali-English Dictionary, TW Rhys Davids, William Stede,


Thera [Vedic sthavira. Derivation uncertain. It may come from sthā in sense of standing over, lasting (one year or more), cp. thāvara old age, then “old=venerable”; (in meaning to be compared w. Lat. senior, etc. from num. sem “one”=one year old, i. e. lasting over one and many more years). Cp. also vetus=Gr. e)/tos, year, E. wether, one year old ram, as cpd. w. veteran, old man. Or it may come from sthā in der. *stheṷā in sthūra (sthūla: see etym. under thūla) thus, “strong= venerable”] t.t. only used with ref. to the bhikkhus of Gotama Buddha’s community. — (a) (adj.) senior, Vin i.47, 290 (th. bhikkhū opp. navā bh.), 159 (th. bhikkhu a senior bh. opp. to navaka bh. a novice), 187; ii.16, 212. Therânutherā bhikkhū seniors & those next to them in age dating not from birth, but from admission to the Order). Three grades are distinguished, thera bh., majjhima bh., nava bh., at D i.78. — See also A ii.23, 147, 168; v.201, 348; D iii.123 sq., 218; Dh 260, 261. In Sangha — thera, used of Bhikkhus not senior in the Order, the word thera means distinguished. Vin ii.212, 303. In Mahāthera the meaning, as applied to the 80 bhikkhus so called, must also have some similar meaning Dīpv iv.5 Psalms of the Brethren xxxvi.; J v.456. At A ii.22 it is said that a bhikkhu, however junior, may be called thera on account of his wisdom. It is added that four characteristics make a man a thera — high character, knowing the essential doctrines by heart, practising the four Jhānas, and being conscious of having attained freedom through the destruction of the mental intoxications. It is already clear that at a very early date, before the Anguttara reached its extant shape, a secondary meaning of thera was tending to supplant that of senior — that is, not the senior of the whole Order, but the senior of such a part of the Sangha as live in the same locality, or are carrying out the same function. — Note. thera in thero vassiko at S iv.161 is to be read tero — vassiko.
— gāthā hymns of senior bhikkhus, N. of a canonical book, incorporated in the Khuddaka — Nikāya. Theratara, very senior, oppd to navatara, novice D ii.154. — vāda the doctrine of the Theras, the original Buddhist doctrine M i.164; Dpvs iv.6, 13.


Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]


therī : [f.] a senior nun; and old woman.

Elder Sister:

Source: A.P. Buddhadatta Mahathera, Concise Pali-English and English-Pali Dictionary [available as digital version from Metta Net, Sri Lanka]

Description: elder sister : (f.) jeṭṭhabhaginī.

和尚he shang – Buddhist monk (Bhikshu), Sanskrit: upadhyaya/Pali: upajjhaya

和尚尼 heshangni – Buddhist nun (Bhikshuni), Sanskrit: upadhyayani/Pali: upajjhayani (SAME as acaryani)

Posted in On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

More on Precept Levels See Sept 29

Thank you Lee for your questions about the precepts. Yes, there are a variety of choices regarding the precepts for laity and those interested in monastic life may consider variations on what level they want to achieve.


Beginners – 3 Refuges (in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha)
and the 5 precepts (no killing, no stealing, no lying, to sexual misconduct, no intoxicants). This starts your offical life as a Buddhist…. and usually the temple offers both together and some may choose to wait until they study Buddhism more to accept the 5 precepts separately.

PERMIT me a RAMBLE…. This category of people are not automatically Buddhists: scholars of Buddhism, students of Buddhism, admirers of Buddha, people who know who Buddha is, tourists, members of Buddhist forums, friends of Buddhists, catholic priests and nuns, ex-monks, ex-nuns, temporary ordained for: a day, a hour, a week, a month, a year type layperson; those christian pastors/reverends who spent a days’ visit in a temple and are claiming expertise or ordination, one who meditates or used Buddhist methods, anyone confusing hari-krishna or hindu practice with being a buddhist monk or nun, anyone who reads Vinaya is NOT automatically Buddhist or ordained in anyway whatsoever by wish, thought or deed, etc. You need to take the 3 Refuges and the 5 Precepts to be considered Buddhist and seek out proper training on your role as Buddhist laity….and then progress under a great deal of real supervision by proper Sangha monks or nuns. Nothing is immediate; it’s all properly guided and in due time. UNramble.

Bodhisattva precepts – laity may take 48 precepts for guidance not for ordination, it means they get to use a blank robe (laity having taken the 8 precepts may be issued or not a 3 or 5 strip robe) depending upon the temple conferring the precepts… MOST just issue a blank robe with no strips at all…

Laity living in a temple

Must agree to observe the 6 harmony rules, may be offered 8 laity monastic precepts (Shegu-women, forgot the word for layman… foguang shan has this group). This group wears modest street clothes, or gray laity clothing as designated by the temple itself… not monastic wear nor may they be allowed to wear monastic shirts and trousers or vests or overcoats, they do not shave their heads nor look like monks or nuns; nor may they claim to be monks or nuns. They are more often stewards or liason officers for the general town or visitors.

10 precepts of novice are offered to laity after observing their life in the temple and by agreement of their division monastic leader or community vote of monastic sangha.

Monastic Life continues for the novice from this point

10 precepts and 6 harmonies are important to be able to get along as well as are the special temple rules set up by the common vote of the monastic resident sangha.

If the novice is not willing to or is unqualified to undertake higher ordination then they may with temple consent remain a novice for their monastic life. This is a case by case basis and determined by monastic consent of the temple.

Novices for life

This category of monastics are found in Theravada and Mahayana… they are special group of men and women who have realized they do not want to progress in their precepts nor return to lay life.

Due to lack of higher ordinations in Theravada orders for women you find there are novices of considerable years more than 10 many over 20 years before they cross into higher ordination due to unfavorable rulings by the Theravada councils against ordaining women after it was destroyed in 10th or 11th centuries CE, even this is largely unavalable to theravadan laywomen…

You find this also true for Tibetan Buddhist order in the Mahayana tradition as well.. In order for them to become ordained they must go to Taiwan, Korea or Vietnam for bhikshuni ordinatin.

Novices returning 10 precepts to 8 laity precepts or returning to laylife. Once one is done it’s done… Then the layperson can ask to become novice again in the same place or different place. Nobody will mind unless there is a fault of a major nature like breaking the 5 precepts, or being forced to leave the temple. The fault should not be hidden for that would be lying, so be sure to reveal any type of dismissal with the new temple or when seeking novice ordination at the same temple.

Higher ordination

This level is purely monastic Sangha level and gender based, preceptors are the sponsors for the male novice or the female siksmana (novice of 2 years study of bhikshuni precepts), application is formal and requested of a elder Sangha council (not the temple itself, unless it has enough qualified elder Sangha members to conduct the ordination) and by admission to the training program before the ordination itself takes place. During the training period, the candidate may be re-ordained as novice or not, may be dismissed for being unqualified or inappropriate during training, may quit the training and forfeit the ordination (this requires home temple to act whether they accept the candidate back or the candidate returns to laylife or remains a novice upon returning… DO not just quit like a job… risking expulsion from your preceptor. There are monastic helpers around during training if you find your confused or need help… quickly ask and they will guide you or contact your sponsor for you… don’t do it alone.. or you will be alone!)

If a novice doesn’t observe specific guidelines like separation from opposite sex: going with someone, even going for coffee or lunch is being with opposite sex person; this is the core of monastic protocol… we just don’t mix the genders due to the training rules and that includes in person conversations with opposite gendered persons including higher ordained Sangha members… If your meeting your classmates in mixed company then it’s seen as a potential flaw… you can’t continue to do this as a monk or nun without proper monastic companions.

OK HIGHEST ordained

Once you get your bhikshuni or bhikshu ordination no matter whether it’s Theravada or Mahayana; you get to keep it voluntarily for your life as long as your observing the vinaya precepts…

Exceptions… you know you don’t want to be a monk or nun anymore and want to give back your precepts… You can absolutely do this… Your not locked in for life unless you are capable and want to.

Parajika a defeat, is immediately upon the act and confession or revelation of the defeat.. Robes are surrendered, immediately returned to lay life and not able in this life to return as a monk or nun in any Buddhist Vinaya tradition.

Parajika learner a special unsual category of monastic who is defeated but wishes to avoid being disrobed declares an intention to become a parjika-learner to the monastic Sangha. This is a very serious matter that Sangha is required to review and decide whether it would be granted or not. I’ve not ever met anyone of this status in my young years as Bhikshuni. And I would think the person undergoing this status is under hardship and would remain humble in their community. I would think that this would be like being in living limbo… but the good karma of the parajika-learner would be an intensive lifelong study of Vinaya thus improving the next life chance for encountering Buddhism and hopefully a return to proper monastic conduct in the next possible life.

CHALLENGES to Higher Ordinatinon

This is done usually by temples or competing orders or due to lack of information or mis-information by Sangha members only. Protocol demands exploration into the history of newly arrived Sangha members or those requesting higher ordiantion… This is to protect the Sangha order, never is it done out of politics or spite…

A bhikshu or bhikshuni may challenge another’s ordiantion only to clarify and in cases where it will damange the Maha Sangha reputation, cause harm to the order, cause harm to the orginal ordination, in evidence of a crime, in cases where inapropriate claim of seniority, use of conflabulated titles, use of extrodinary claims of exceptional abilities, mental illness manifesting in a way that is immediately harmful to Sangha; lack of evidence of ordination having taken place, fakery of any kind, lack of qualifications in public and private conduct of the bhikshu or bhikshuni, obvious breaking of parjika precepts, criminal convinction requiring meetings about status. THIS IS SANGHA TO SANGHA NOT LAITY TO SANGHA EVER…

Sangha members are obligated to speak up to support their brothers and sisters it’s in our Vinaya precepts. Bhikshuni may address only bhikshuni/bhikkhuni and bhikshu may address only bhikshu/bhikkhu. Abbot/Abbess trumps everyone, and the legal system of your resident country trumps them.

IN THE WEST – There is no Country Sangha council in places like the USA… therefor the Sangha is not guided by anything other than Vinaya and their own best judgement in temples (guided by overseas national councils in their own countries culture) or monasteries or living in solitude doing dharma study or dharma work…. It’s still developing here.

There are new orders appearing in a new form of Theravada for bhikkhunis now, since 2009 there have been many sudden ordinations within the USA (three maybe four in 2010 alone) and in the western countries. This is an unsual trend and worth watching. It’s also encouraging that new statement by the Tibetan Karmapa to offer Tibetan Buddhist women a chance to ordain within the Tibetan Buddhist Vinaya…