Rev. Danny Fisher, at his Off the Cushion blog, has assembled a roundup of news and opinion concerning the abrupt cancellation of Australian monk Ajahn Brahm’s delivery of a paper on gender equality in the Buddhist sangha.
He was to give the speech at the 11th Annual UN Day of Vesak Convention in Vietnam last month. The convention was organized as a way to share “Buddhist perspectives towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.” According to the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, Ajahn Brahm’s paper in support of the third of those goals “presented a solid case for the full ordination of women in the Theravadin tradition, supported by references from the Buddha and the Vinaya rules that govern Buddhist monastic life.”
The paper had apparently been preapproved by the convention’s organizing committee in February, with Ajahn Brahm receiving an official invitation to present it that same month. He traveled to Vietnam for the convention and was notified of the cancellation only the day before he was due to deliver his speech.
Rev. Fisher links to commentary at New Lotus in which Ajahn Brahm is quoted as saying, “I was told by Ven. Thich Nhat Tu that the Vietnamese supported my paper, but the others led by the Thai members on the organizing committee objected. I was told two days later by the Sri Lankan monk, Ven. Dhammaratana, that the Vietnamese objected! The former statement was the most likely.”
New Lotus’s commentary continues, “This indeed seems the most likely explanation, especially given Ajahn Brahm’s rocky history with the Thai lineage of Ajahn Chah. October 2009 was a turning point for his relationship with a section of the Thai sangha after he ordained four women and had to relinquish his membership of the Wat Pa Pong circle of monastaries.”
Read Rev. Fisher’s full roundup, which includes a link to the full text of Ajahn Brahm’s cancelled speech.