A Perth Buddhist monastery has been expelled by its temple community in Thailand after ordaining four women but remains defiant, saying it was very likely it would continue the practice.
Thai Buddhist religious authorities backed eastern Thailand-based group Wat Nong Pah Pong's move to revoke Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery's membership because it allowed the female ordinations.
Thai Buddhist leaders took exception to the Serpentine monastery carrying out the first full ordinations of female Buddhist monks, or Bhikkhunis, in Australia. The monastery has ordained four women from the Dhammasara Nuns' Monastery in Gidgegannup since October.
Ajahn Brahmali, from the Bodhinyana Monastery, said they were surprised at the controversy generated by the female ordinations and the reactions from Thailand which resulted in the monastery's expulsion and its abbot's excommunication.
"I think it was unnecessary," he said. "The important thing is the way these things look in Thailand compared to the way they look in the West are very different.
"In the West it's required that you have equality between men and women and because of that we thought if we are going to be taken seriously in the West, we are going to have to have fully ordained women as well as men," he said.
"If they had been wise, they would have sat back and said, 'you know this is in the West, we have to do things differently to the way they are done in Thailand and be open-minded'."
The most senior Buddhist religious body in Thailand, the Sangha Supreme Council, said it upheld the Ubon Ratchathani temple's decision to exclude the Australian monastery from its community.
Somdet Phutthacham, an adviser to the head of the Buddhist faith in Thailand, said women could not be ordained into the Thai Theravada sector of Buddhism, even though they could be in Buddhist sects in other countries.
Bodhinyana Monastery was set up as a branch of Wat Nong Pah Pong, a forest-based monastery community in the eastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, 630km from Bangkok, 26 years ago.
The monastery's British-born Abbot Ajahn Brahmvasmo, who is also the spiritual director of the Buddhist Society of WA, said on his website that he had been excommunicated.
"The selfless action of providing an authentic pathway for women to lead the holy life led to a reaction from fundamentalist elements within his original training Sangha (Buddhist group) who excommunicated him," his website said yesterday.
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