Since becoming a Buddhist practitioner about half a year ago, I’ve been wondering about the best option/place for female practitioners. The Buddha taught us that we need conducive conditions for our practice - quiet place, good support, and not too many duties to perform. As a lay practitioner working and living in a turbulent society, together with some often overstressed and trouble-making worldlings, I can hardly maintain such conducive conditions.
I thought about becoming a nun, but the advice given by a monk discouraged this attempt. He told me that the conditions in monasteries for nuns (and in fact, many monks, too) are not the most conducive. That is from the insider information that he has gleaned from his various nun contacts. According to him, the main problems are not chauvinist monks, but are due to 1) life with other women, 2) the western female Buddhist monasticism being highly politicized, which makes it very unsuitable for meditative practice and monastic training of junior monastics, and tends to attract people who are interested in such issues; for those over thirty years old, the monastic life is even more unsuitable because those people just tend to be too set in their ways for hardcore monastic training and mastering hundreds or thousands of regulations and clauses, and most teachers groan privately if they have to train somebody monastically who is entering their third decade or above. He advised me that many or most great woman lay practitioners who have battled with that question have decided on the lay life, since there are not many (or no?) ideal solutions out there.
Well, I surely trust him but I’d like to hear more opinions, especially from those “insiders” or who know the “inside information”. I'd greatly appreciate the answers to the following questions:Are the nuns covered with medical insurance and etc.? Is there a more(if not the most) conducive place for women to practice Dhamma out there? Or should we just keep our struggle and wait until we retire to gain such conducive conditions (hopefully)?
Your kind help has been and would be most appreciated. Metta,
PS: "There is no perfect place in saṃsāra and as long as one is not liberated from mental defilements one will sooner or later start to find fault with a monastery which at first appeared to be great. There is no monastery which is perfectly quiet and where the monks are all arahants. So, this guide is not intended as a guide to find the perfect place, as a bible for restless monks. There was one user of this guide who went to many of the forest monasteries in this guide but still could not find the perfect conditions he was seeking. So rather than trying to find the perfect external place, which does not exist, it is more realistic to be content with an imperfect place and learn to deal with the defilements that come up in one’s mind. Nevertheless, there are particular conditions such as climate and food which affect each person differently and this guide can be used to find a place which matches one’s physical constitution and temperament. It can also be used when travelling or going on cārikā, a walking journey, so that one can walk from forest monastery to forest monastery or stay in other places with a reasonable vinaya practice." -- from Buddhist Forest Monasteries and Meditation Centres in Sri Lanka http://www.bps.lk/olib/mi/mi008.pdf
[Added on 07/21/2013]