Talk:Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Photo of Thanissaro Bhikkhu[edit]

Does someone know how to add a photo of Thanissaro Bhikkhu to the article. A photo can be found at: Dhammapal 05:51, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Who owns the copyright for that image?—Nat Krause(Talk!) 04:37, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
The source is Oberlin College Alumni Magazine
It doesn't sound like a commercial publication. Is it OK to post it then? Dhammapal 07:49, 26 December 2006 (UTC)
No, not without permission. It appears that the photograph is copyright of Jacquie Lowell, Oberlin Alumni Magazine, or Thanissaro himself. If we're going to use it, we need to find out who owns it and get their express permission. If you do contact them, it's vital that you make it clear you're asking for permission to release it under GFDL, Creative Commons (CC-by-sa, CC-by, or CC-sa) license, or the public domain.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 22:12, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

I got permission from Mary Reinard to use the picture of Ajaan Geoff with the sunflower above his head and the one of him going on almsround. I hope you all like the choices! Sudozero (talk) 15:25, 27 August 2010 (UTC) (user-name used to be Narcissus)

Needing some citations in the bio section?[edit]

I think we need some citations on the following statements, what do you think, are they necessary?:

  • He ordained in 1976 at Ajaan Lee's Wat Asokaram where Ajaan Lee's nephew, Ajaan Tawng Jandasiri, served as Preceptor for his ordination.
  • In 1995, Ajaan Geoff became the first American born, non-Thai bhikkhu to be given the title, authority and responsibility of Preceptor (Uppajaya) in the Dhammayut Order. He also served as Secretary General of that Order for all of North America.

- Sudozero (talk) 02:27, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Need to Reword Sections of the Bio?[edit]

The original version of this article appears to be the same as that from here. However, the wikipedia article's original date is older than the AccesstoInsight's copyright for the page. I've also noticed similar bios for Ajaan Geoff on other websites. I don't know which is original, but to play it safe, I've reworded much of the bio section to make it different from the page linked to above. I would like some advice from others as to whether these changes are good enough to avoid copyright violations and/or plagiarism. Any help making those changes would be greatly appreciated. Sudozero (talk) 16:00, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Misunderstanding in bio. This article claims that Thanissaro Bhikkhu translated the sutta pitaka, over 1000 suttas. The sutta pitaka contains thousands and thousands of suttas. The thousand referenced here may be accurate in that he translated many of the suttas available on the accesstoinsight website which contains roughly one thousand suttas (not all of these are translated by DeGraff) but this is a small subset of total number of suttas in the sutta pitaka. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:8039:A620:F9AB:EDBF:B869:FFEC (talk) 21:03, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

Section on Teaching Style[edit]

It would be good to make a section about Ajaan Geoff's teaching style. Does anyone know of any outside sources that describe what his teaching is like, compared to others? Sudozero (talk) 18:43, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Link to[edit]

Someone put up a link to one of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's books. Instead, this more helpful link shows all books published there under his misspelled name (currently just one), instead of just linking to Refuge. Because his name is spelled wrong, any books published in the future that spell his name correctly will not show up with the second link above, making it a less useful resource. Also, the only advantage that I see to the questionable link is that it offers the book in Kindle format. However, from what I understand, it is not difficult to convert HTML files downloaded from to the Kindle format. I would not mind it if someone put up this link using the correct spelling if there were books listed there. So I'm removing it. --Sudozero (talk) 21:02, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

A Foremost Expert?[edit]

"Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu is considered one of the foremost experts in the Pāli language and of the Pāli Canon."

The above sentence was removed from the article because it is not cited. I would like very much to put it back into the article. Does anyone know a website that confirms this information? I have found references that basically state he is "currently one of the most skilled and prolific translators of Dhamma...", but that is not the same as saying he is an expert in the contents of the Canon itself. --Sudozero (talk) 22:46, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Nuns ordination[edit]

@JimRenge: I have found the cite plus a few other cites for the women's upasampada issue from the web. I'm going to check out some recent books to see what further citation I can find because paperbacks always seem to trump internet. Ogress smash! 01:47, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

@Furthershore and JimRenge: A letter by Thanissaro Bhikkhu as an authority on a subject of Buddhism should not be considered "biased, poorly sourced negative information about a living person". Why do you insist this is defamatory or harmful? It's cited and it's his words. How do you describe this as biased, poorly-sourced negative information? "In 2009, Ajaan Geoff provided scholarly citations and interpretations on the Vinaya challenging the validity of full ordination for women. In a letter to another senior buddhist monk, he described recent bhikkhuni ordination as "not valid".[1]" Ogress 21:07, 16 September 2015 (UTC)
@Furthershore:, please explain. JimRenge (talk) 09:56, 17 September 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Thanissaro Bhikkhu. "Vinaya Basis for Refuting the Recent Bhikkhuni Ordination" (PDF). Alliance for Bhikkhunis. Alliance for Bhikkhunis, US 501(c)3. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 

Reply by Furthershore:

For the TLDR folks: This material is clearly slanderous, and should be removed immediately without further discussion.

Going off of the current revision, here are the main problems with the content:

  • Thanissaro never "challenged" anything. He was asked for his opinion and he gave it.
  • The assertion that the letter he sent addressed "validity of full ordination for women" is inaccurate, and is perhaps the most problematic out of everything mentioned in the paragraph. The question of full ordination for women is not given an opinion in his letter. He even explicitly mentions in the letter that he doesn't weigh in on the matter of full ordination for women:

Concerning the issues of ordaining and training bhikkhunīs, there are many other points that have to be considered, but this was all you requested, so I’ll ask to stop here.

As if that weren't enough, Buddhist Scholars' Response to the Validity of Bhikkhuni Ordination, your own source, states that the scope of the letter concerned Ajahn Brahm's ordination:

This letter was concerned with whether the recent full bhikkhuni ordination of four women in Australia could be determined invalid . . . It is important to undersand that the contents of this letter were requested for the sake of discussion . . . Ajahn Thanissaro was called upon as a consultant.

  • "In a letter to another senior bhuddhist monk," This other senior Buddhist monk has a name, and the way the context for the letter is excluded implies something different than what actually happened.
  • "as "not valid"."[4] I did a text search for "not valid" in his letter. Didn't find anything. And even if the words "not valid" were in the letter, why put the phrase in quotes at all? What's wrong with: "Thanissaro described it as not valid?" WP:SCAREQUOTES
  • "The letter was met with scholarly dispute by nuns and monks such as Ayya Tathaaloka, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ayya Sudhamma Bhikkhuni, Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Sujato"
This makes it sound like it's Thanissaro alone against all of the people in that list. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the monks in the monastic order where the ordination took place still, to this day, do not acknowledge the validity of Ajahn Brahm's bhikkhuni ordination.
Even if this weren't biased, you would still need a source to say that the people in the list "met Thanissaro's letter with scholarly dispute". Looking at your source Buddhist Scholars' Response to the Validity of Bhikkhuni Ordination, it appears that you have synthesized together that list of names from the table of contents for your source, and drew the conclusion that they met Thanissaro's letter "with scholarly dispute". WP:OR
  • "Since that time, more than several women have received Bhikkhuni ordination.[citation needed]" Why would you include this? How is it relevant to Thanissaro Bhikkhu's biography that "more than several women" have been ordained since Thanissaro's letter? WP:UNDUE WP:WEASEL

As explicitly stated in the quotes above, Thanissaro didn't take a stance on the ordination for women in 2009. Nor has he stated his opinion on the matter of full ordination for women since then, at least not publicly. The idea that Thanissaro was opposed to full ordination for women grew out of a straw man that was weaseled together by Sujato. Actually, what was implied by Sujato was that Thanissaro sought to exclude women from dhamma practice altogether, which was woven into Sujato's rhetoric below:

In any case, as so many have put it so much better than I can, our mission and our goal here is to develop the good qualities of the heart, to embody the Dhamma of love and forgiveness. The essential problem here is not Vinaya legalities, but the injustice of excluding women from full participation in the holy life. Until we acknowledge this central fact, any legal argument will miss the point. The Vinaya is intended to support and encourage human beings to find liberation from suffering. The Vinaya rule that Ajahn Thanissaro quotes was intended to curb the bad behavior of unscrupulous monks, not to stop human beings from practicing Dhamma because they have different reproductive organs.

As you can see simply by reading Sujato's words carefully, the assertion that Thanissaro is opposed to dhamma practice for women was a straw man set up by Sujato to brand his opponents as misogynists. It has grown into outright false statements about Thanissaro's position on full ordination for women, which have been perpetuated on the internet through poorly informed opinion-based forums, and these same false statements are now being perpetuated here. Sujato's Blog, a self-published source — a dubious source, as I have established — was cited for a portion of the material in question up until it was removed within the last 24 hours by @JimRenge:, around the same time he restored your edit. An edit which I did not need to give notice or discussion to remove because it contained inaccurate, biased, poorly sourced information about a living person. Furthershore 21:50, 18 September 2015 (UTC)

I agree that this section needs to become more accurate. -- Sudozero (talk) 13:36, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
For the sake of accuracy and sourcing views well, could we find some secondary sources, such as news articles, that each discuss one or both sides of this debate? I'm afraid that parts of this article contain original research, which should probably be avoided. I must admit that I lack experience in editing controversial information on wikipedia. -- Sudozero (talk) 14:01, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
The full list of Ajaan Geoff's respondents does not seem to fit well with the topic of the article. While I think the current text reads like a biased form of attack (partly in light of Furthershore's argument), I am potentially interested in a somewhat neutral/non-biased description of the impact of his expressed opinion on the buddhist community, if this would even be appropriate for a biographical article. (i don't know.) Perhaps even better, there could be a link such as: "Main article: Bhikkhuni Ordination (Controversy)" instead of merely listing the names of five people. Furthershore, I'm interested in your opinion on this matter, and would be happy to hear you suggest some alternate text regarding this issue. -- Sudozero (talk) 00:21, 23 September 2015 (UTC)

I haven't been able to find any neutral sources on the subject, but here are a few sources that are worth reading:
Upasika Kee Nanayon and the Social Dynamic of Theravadin Buddhist Practice. Essay by Thanissaro about Upasika Kee Nanayon, a lay woman practitioner, with some of Thanissaro's observations on dhamma practice among women in Thailand.
Ajahn Chandako's letter about the 2009 ordination.
The Legality of Bhikkhunī Ordination by Bhikkhu Analayo, where he argues in favor of bhikkhuni ordination.
Regarding your suggestion that we create a new article to cover this issue: we should be careful about content forking. There is already a Bhikkhuni article and an Ordination of women in Buddhism article that has coverage of the topic which should be addressed, for example the articles' treatment of the subject as in the following excerpt taken from the Bhikkhuni article:

The stance of the Thai Sangha hierarchy has largely changed from one of denial of the existence of bhikkhunis to one of acceptance of bhikkhunis as of foreign (non-Thai) traditions. However Thailand's two main Theravada Buddhist orders, the Mahanikaya and Dhammayutika Nikaya, have yet to officially accept fully ordained women into their ranks. Despite substantial and growing support inside the religious hierarchy, sometimes fierce opposition to the ordination of women within the sangha remains.

The content from the above quote is not sourced in the article, and this excerpt from Ajahn Chandako's letter, a link to which I have provided above, tells a different story:

During this process Ajahns Brahm and Sujato displayed no willingness to compromise. Their emails to the Sangha seemed condescending, focused on creating divisiveness, accusing others of being sexist and trying to pigeonhole the Sangha into distinct camps that in fact do not exist. Those who did not agree with the ordination were spoken of as a fringe conservative element, when realistically it would be more accurate to say that 95% of the ordained Theravada monastics feel that the manner in which this ordination was held was a serious mistake.

I think that coverage of the issue should start with correcting the material in existing articles to provide due weight to the side that has voiced problems with the 2009 ordination. The lack of a decent source is frustrating though, not so much the bias in the sources, more that none of the sources do any of their own investigation, or look into the situation beyond the typical "Ajahn Brahm was expelled simply for ordaining women" attitude. To use Ajahn Chandako's words, the current treatment of this issue — even among peer-reviewed academic circles, as you can see in many of these articles — is "an unreasonable oversimplification of a far more complex situation." Furthershore 02:11, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Update: I'm removing this for now. It can be re-added later if it makes sense but right now noone has provided an argument for how it's relevant to Thanissaro's biography and it still doesn't represent what actually happened accurately. I've started on content relating to the nuns ordination and that can be it's own separate article, however I am worried that there will be a lot of content forks because there are a several articles that include the subject.
I'll may try to talk to someone outside this wikiproject for the best way to proceed here. Furthershore 10:43, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
And I restored it. Nobody has agreed with you here so you don't have consensus to remove sourced content. Dharmalion76 (talk) 20:27, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
@Dharmalion76: This content never had consensus to be added in the first place. It has been controversial since it was first added. I would also like to point out that your statement is simply not true, Sudozero didn't like it in it's original form and changed it, then someone else didn't like that and removed it, then you reverted back to Sudozero's change, which still provides undo weight.
Also, your odd inclusion of the content under "Vinaya Fundamentalism" . . . yeah it doesn't belong there. This is a biography of a living person. You need to provide justification on the talk page, because this could be considered libel. The person who originally added the content put the "retired" banner on their talk page. I never received a response, which according to Wikipedia policy counts as consensus. The burden originally lied with the content's creator to justify the contents inclusion, and she is gone now (at least from this discussion), so now the burden lies with you to reach consensus before the content can be re-added.
With regards to your statement about removing sourced content, I would like to add that that this is not sourced content. There is no secondary source saying that Thanissaro's letter was met with dispute by (list of people). That is a synthesis of the primary sources.
So, in response to your statement, people have agreed with me — and no one has objected — so I did have consensus, which I wouldn't need even if I didn't have because this is biased information about a living person, and this material doesn't belong in Thanissaro's biography at all really, but even if it did it is being presented in a biased manner. And even if it weren't biased it is still a synthesis of primary sources.
I am now done talking about this. The content in question simply has no place in the article. And don't revert without making constructive arguments. Someone last month removed the content with good reason which they stated in the revision notes and you reverted without a stated reason, which isn't productive. Furthershore 21:36, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Ever reply above disagrees with you. Who agrees with you? Who doesn't object? This is referenced material and without consensus, your edits are contentious. Please stop. Dharmalion76 (talk) 15:18, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
@Dharmalion76 It's not referenced. It's OR. I do not need consensus. It needs consensus before it can be included. You are being biased by unilaterally insisting on the inclusion of biased material. Read Wikipedias guidelines and quit being belligerent. We are now done talking until you come up with an actual constructive argument for it's inclusion. Furthershore 01:15, 22 January 2016 (UTC)