The Nation has published an interview with Bhikkhuni Dhammananda this week. No surprise that it is all about women ordaining in the Thai Sangha. It is a shame really; she is very knowledgeable about both Dhamma and meditation but somehow the topic always gets turned back to this one issue.
The Sangha Council of Thailand seems not want to make any sudden changes to Thai culture and Sangha, but they are not opposed to evolution. The Senior monks of the Sangha Council reside at Wat Saket, Wat Pak Nam and Wat Rakhang. Certainly the first two temples have hosted Bhikkhunis several times before – Bhikkhuni Tathaaloka had an extended stay at WPM temple. A sudden proclamation putting Bhikkhunis on an even footing with the monks would be a shock to this culturally conservative (and culturally rich) country, and so is unlikely to happen soon. But it will come. In the mean time the good examples of the Bhikkhunis is serving them in good stead. The next important step will be to grant visa and travel rights for Bhikkhunis equally to the monks – as of 2008 Bhikkhunis still have to travel and register for visa’s as laypeople. This policy lies with the National Buddhism Office (effectively the Ministry for Buddhism) and not with the Sangha council or Dept. of Immigration.
We have our own Interview with Bhikkhuni Dhammananda which goes into more depth.