VictoryInTruth wrote:Why did the Buddha look so negatively on women and blame them as the cause for the Dhamma lasting only 500 years? It seems like he did not have that high of a view of women in the religious life and some 2,500 years later his words on the Dhamma lasting only 500 years has pretty much been proven wrong.
As a woman this makes it seem like there is something wrong with us as we are being made out to be the primary cause for the disappearance of the Dhamma. What are the thoughts of others on this?
I may be opening a can of worms here.
Firstly, I don't think the Buddha looked negatively on women as people. He stated that women have the same ability to achieve nibbana as men. I think the Buddha however recognized that men and women's minds operate in different ways. Women give more precedence to their feelings than to logical underpinnings and tend to act in a way that adheres to their emotional integrity. Men in their natural capacity make for better decision makers, and women in positions of leadership tend to have to learn to think like a man. An example was the Prime Minister of New Zealand - Helen Clark. She was a brilliant politician, but she was emotionally removed - Some might even have described her as a little cold. In order to be successful in the holy life one has to generate a great deal of equanimity. Especially during the Buddha's time conditions for a mendicant were quite harsh, this was one reason for the Buddha's reluctance to ordain women in the first place.
The Buddha's Dhamma requires a sacrifice of your own opinions and feelings on matters, it may be that the Buddha saw that women would have a tougher time abandoning their predilections and emotional biases. A view is a pleasure and an attachment, conflicting views are the source of a lot of conflict, it may have been that the Buddha had seen that because women put more trust in their feelings, that they could be led astray by them. Speaking from my own experience, women tend to have a stronger set of values than men, they have a stronger idea of how they like things to be in their experience, and when this is violated they find the violation 'offensive'.
It's not that the way a woman's mind operates should be thought of as lesser. As far as evolutionary psychology is concerned it is of an equal and synergistic value to that of a man's mind. But as far as women's abilities to thrive in an environment of sensual and emotional deprivation, I think they have a tougher time, and it's not hard to imagine that in general more conflict would arise among groups of women than among groups of men. Speaking from experience, living in a monastic environment with women, a lot more conflict and disharmony arises when women are present in a monastic environment than when it's just men.
Finally it's important to note that '500' and '1000' years are two terms that in India of that time were used in the general sense of being 'large numbers' and were not taken as exact amounts. We can see this through the many suttas that speak of "travelling with a great company of monks - 500 monks" or "with an assembly of 1000 monks." these are not literal.
I imagine I will be grilled as a sexist for this, I can accept that but don't think that I view women negatively, I don't - I have the utmost admiration for women who chose to pursue the holy life and I am in favor of Bhikkhuni ordination. I do however think there are inherent differences between men and women in behavior and that these differences may have been the source of the Buddha's proclamation that his Dhamma would only last half as long if women were to be ordained in the Sangha.
"But, Udāyi, let be the past, let be the future, I shall set you forth the Teaching: When there is this this is, with arising of this this arises; when there is not this this is not, with cessation of this this ceases." - Majjhima ii,32
Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma:http://bit.ly/LDsGHg