Choosing Simplicity: a commentary on the Bhikshuni pratimoksa
Choosing Simplicity discusses the precepts and lifestyle of fully ordained nuns within the Buddhist tradition. The ordination vows act as guidelines to promote harmony both within the individual and within the community by regulating and thereby simplifying one's relationships to other sangha members and laypeople, as well as to the needs of daily life. Observing these precepts and practicing the Buddhadharma brings incredible benefit to oneself and others. Since the nuns' precepts include those for monks and have additional rules for nuns, this book is useful for anyone interested in monastic life.
"As a record of women's struggle not only to achieve a life of self-discipline, but also to create harmonious independent religious communities of women, Choosing Simplicity is a pioneering work. By providing an insider's perspective on the challenges of being a Buddhist monastic and a woman, the book makes a valuable contribution to the fields of religious history, anthropology, ethics, and women's history."
—The Journal of Asian Studies
"Choosing simplicity in our affluent society means choosing sanity. Christians as well as Buddhists are discovering how monastic values can enrich their lives as lay people. For monastics and lay people alike, Choosing Simplicity will be a book worth reading."
—Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B. author of A Listening Heart
"It is of great importance that Buddhist monasticism become firmly established in the West. This excellent book makes a major contribution to this becoming a reality."
—Pema Chodron, Director of Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia
"Until now there has been no comprehensive translation nor commentary on the precepts for Buddhist nuns available in English… includes fascinating accounts of the history behind the vows and the reasons for keeping them."
—Ven. Mitra Bishop, Sensei, Resident Teacher, Mountain Gate in northern New Mexico and Spiritual Director, Hidden Valley Zen Center, San Marcos, California
"More than a handbook to a Buddhist monastic life, this text offers guidelines to all who wish to conduct their day-to-day lives more mindfully. Choosing Simplicity can mean saving time and energy for the important things."
—Karey Solomon, Continuing Threads
"The book not only helps nurture an understanding of the meaning and value of Buddhist monasticism, but also offers essential commentary in simple language for Buddhists in the West who choose a monastic lifestyle."
—Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Univ. of Hawaii
"Far from being just a dry list of rules, the material comes alive thanks to Master Wu Yin's approach, as she discusses them based on her years of experience in living and working with them in her monastery in Taiwan. She presents the Bhikshuni Pratimoksa, rules developed by the Buddha himself, as a living body of material that is still relevant in modern life."
—Elizabeth Napper, author of Mind in Tibetan Buddhism
Choosing Simplicity is a guide to the lifestyle of Buddhist monastics—it is also a fun book to read. In it you can discover the whys and wherefores of the simple life that provides the basis for spiritual growth. The stories of the Buddha's solutions to the problems that arose in the sangha are also entertaining—they expose the many ways people complicate their lives and how the Buddha provided his followers with simple guidelines for harmonious living."
—Jeff Cox, Snow Lion
"By examining how the ordination vows act as guidelines to promote individual peace and personal simplicity, Choosing Simplicity: A Commentary on the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha by Venerable Bhikshuni Wu Yin… is a glance at a feminine lifestyle that utterly challenges the attainment-based culture that women, and particularly American women, have been so thoroughly sold on. So what stress-beating experiences could reading a manual on the female Buddhist relationships to food, clothing, shelter and possessions possibly offer? All I can tell you is that such an immersion is like taking a trip to sanity for a while; people of all faiths and cultures can benefit from even such random samples of monastic experience. Just completing a chapter, I felt more mindful than when I started. And as weeks passed, the precepts crept through my consciousness as I went about my days."
Venerable Bhikshuni Wu Yin received her novice vows in 1957 and her bhikshuni vows in 1959. She is the leader of the Luminary International Buddhist Society, which oversees study programs for nuns and laypeople, as well as translation and publishing projects.
Foreword: A Message from Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
A Contemporary Cultural Perspective on Monastic Life
The Motivation for and the Benefits of Monastic Ordination
1. The Importance of the Precepts
2. An Overview of the Vinaya
3. The Members of the Sangha
4. Joining the Sangha
5. Poshadha: Purifying and Restoring Our Precepts
6. The Boundaries for Remaining a Monastic
7. Working with Attachment: Root Precepts Regarding Sexual Contact
8. The Sticky Nature of Attachment: More Precepts Concerning Sexual and Physical Conduct
9. Taking What Has Not Been Freely Given: Precepts Regarding Stealing
10. The Remaining Root Precepts: Abandoning Killing, Lying, Concealing Others' Transgressions, and Going against the
11. Looking at Our Stubborn and Rebellious Side: Precepts about Refusing to Accept Admonition
12. Right Livelihood
13. Resources for Monastic Life: Robes
14. Resources for Monastic Life: Food, Medicine, Lodging, and
15. Organization in the Buddhist Community
16. Community Life
Appendix: Preliminary and Concluding Rituals for the Recital
of the Bhikshuni Pratimoksha Sutra