The Buddha established an order of bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs (monks/nuns) in order to protect his teaching for future generations. Up to this day, Saṅgha passes the teaching on to generations of monks and nuns as well as lay followers.
At the present, Venerable bhikkhunī Visuddhi resides and practices in the Czech Republic, which is in the heart of Europe. This gives us an extraordinary and rare opportunity to receive directly her teachings to develop our mindfulness and practise meditation.
The Buddha kept reminding his followers that Dhamma-Vinaya
is the essential part of the practice. If the practitioner follows the rules heedfully, they will set up the most suitable conditions for their higher attainments in the Path and in their life.
It is of utmost importance that lay people get familiar with the rules of conduct that they have to respect when having any contact with a member of the Sangha community. In Buddhist countries, like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, etc, monks and nuns are highly respected and revered for their dedication to the Supreme Practice. Lay practitioners are like the pupils of a great teacher. As such, they are requested to respect their teacher and follow the rules of conduct. Although in the west we do not have a strong culture of respecting our teachers, in Buddhism this reverence is fundamental.
We kindly ask all lay practitioners who are interested in meeting Bhikkhunī Visuddhi to carefully read and follow the guidelines, and learn some basic information about Bhikkhunīs.
Bhikkhunīs observe 311 vinaya rules (See: Pāḷi Theravāda Vinaya - Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha)
Bhikkhunīs do not use money and do not consume foods or drinks that have not been formally offered to them.
Bhikkhunīs cannot travel on their own according to the Vinaya rules, the use of public transportation is tolerated. However, it is more appropriate if she is accompanied by a laywoman.
Bhikkhunīs can receive invitations from the lay community. In that case, the host is requested to provide for the transportation and accompaniment (picking up at the railway station, airport). If this person happens to be a man, it is necessary (to ensure) that at least a laywoman is present.
Bhikkhunīs are not allowed to travel at night and walk the streets after dark. Thus, all the appointments and traveling should take place in daylight.
“Therefore, Ānanda, live with yourself as an island,
yourself as a refuge, with no other refuge,
with the Teaching as an island, the Teaching as a refuge,
with no other refuge.”
Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, D.16
- We NEVER address Bhikkhunī by her name, instead we use the title “bhikkhunī”, “venerable” or “ayya”.
- It would be appropriate to bow down three times to pay respect to a Bhikkhunī.
- We kneel or sit in a position that is lower than that of the Bhikkhunī, and we stay at an appropriate distance.
- We NEVER touch a Bhikkhunī.
- We should touch neither Bhikkhunī’s robe nor take or use her personal belongings and requisites.
- When making an offering to a Bhikkhunī, it is advised to be concentrated on the ritual and be aware that by our kind action we are gaining merit (puñña).
- It is INADMISSIBLE flirting or flattery.
We hand the gift with both hands as a formal sign of respect, which is also fitting to avoid physical contact.
- When meeting Bhikkhunī, if she addresses us in her conversation, or if she gives us a gift, the most convenient expression of gratitude is with joined palms (añjali).
In western culture, when meeting other people, it is a custom to hug, kiss, shake hands, and pat each other’s back as ways of greeting. However, we need to remember that in Buddhist culture the greeting process is quite different. In Buddhist countries the common form of greeting is with joined palms.
Being “giving” a pure voluntary act, the Buddha reminds us that nothing in return should be expected from our giving. We often expect a “thank you”, but that also is considered an expectation in exchange for our gift. For this reason, we should not expect any expressions of emotion and gratitude from the Bhikkhunī when we offer our gifts.
Special rules for men
As Bhikkhus (fully ordained male monks) are not allowed to have personal and close contact with any woman, also Bhikkhunīs (fully ordained female nuns), in the same way, are not allowed to have any personal and close contact with any man. This leads to the respect of some extra rules for men in case of meeting with a Bhikkhunī.
- Men are requested to keep an appropriate distance from Bhikkhunī, this is called “hatapasa” and it is a distance of an arm stretched out sideways.
- It is not fitting for men to arrange a meeting with a bhikkhunī in a private, confidential place and alone. A man can certainly meet Venerable Bhikkhunī Visuddhi, but he is required to have a female accompaniment.
- It is not appropriate to discuss intimate relations with a Bhikkhunī.
- It is important to understand that Bhikkhunīs are fully celibate and have renounced sensual pleasures.
We understand that all the rules may feel overwhelming at the beginning, but we are confident that our devotion will help us to keep an open heart and to cultivate mutual respect and regard.
Thank you for respecting the Saṅgha and their dedicated life.