Choosing Simplicity

A commentary on the “Bhikshuni Pratimoksha”

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This text is best read by fully ordained Buddhist monastics.

Over twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha’s stepmother, Mahaprajapati and five hundred women from the Shakya clan went through incredible difficulties to request bhikshuni ordination from the Buddha. In giving them permission to enter the order, the Buddha affirmed women’s ability to practice the Dharma, to liberate themselves from cyclic existence, and to become enlightened. For over twenty-five centuries, women have practiced the Dharma and achieved the beneficial results. Now we are reaping the benefit of their practice and of the Dharma that they preserved and passed down. It is our privilege and responsibility to learn and practice the Dharma not only to attain spiritual realizations, but also to benefit others by preserving and passing on these precious teachings to future generations.

Choosing Simplicity presents the nuns’ monastic life as a living tradition. It describes the meaning and purpose of being a Buddhist nun and explains the precepts according to the themes or topics with which they deal. Venerable Bhikshuni Master Wu Yin, president of Gaya Foundation and founder of Luminary Temple in Taiwan gave the teachings contained in this book to Western nuns at the 1996 program Life as a Western Buddhist Nun, in Bodhgaya, India.

Choosing Simplicity is of interest to monastics and lay followers, women and men. By knowing about the lifestyle of monastics, people’s faith in the Dharma will increase, and they will see that monastics can help and inspire them along the path. Those considering taking ordination will gain a better understanding of monastic life and be able to make well-informed and thoughtful decisions about ordination. Those who are novices will learn the full precepts and be able to train in them before actually receiving them, while those who are fully ordained will understand what to practice and what to abandon on the path, thus enabling them to keep their precepts purely and progress on the path.

The story behind the book

Choosing Simplicity Introduction 01-01-01

Venerable Thubten Chodron reads an excerpt

Choosing Simplicity Reading 01-01-01

The story behind Choosing Simplicity

Behind each page of a book lies a story. This story is not necessarily expressed in the content of the book; rather, it is the story of the lives of the people involved in writing and producing it. In the case of Choosing Simplicity, the story encompasses the lives of many people and the way those lives intersected at certain times in history.

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“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 Chödrön, 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.”
—Venerable Mitra Bishop, Sensei, Resident Teacher at Mountain Gate in northern New Mexico and Spiritual Director of Hidden Valley Zen Center in San Marcos, California

“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, Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women

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