Is the Buddha sexist

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Is the Buddha sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:56 am

It is possible that a man should be the perfect rightfully Enlightened One. It is impossible that a woman should be the Universal Monarch It is possible that a man should be the Universal Monarch. It is impossible that a woman should be the King of Gods. It is possible that a man should be the King of Gods. It is impossible that a woman should be the King of Death. It is possible that a man should be the King of Death. It is impossible that a woman should be Brahmaa. It is possible that a man should be Brahmaa.


The Bhikkuni vinaya say she should stand even if senior to a young monk.

Someone said there is a sutta buddha saying bhikkuni will destroy the sangha one day like some disease that spread to rice plants.

Make me wonder if Buddha is sexist. What do you make of these historical records of his words?

Note: I do not intend to insult Buddha to which I have great respect. Just trying to understand his words
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby Thanavuddho » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:07 am

It could be that there is corruption in the suttas regarding this matter. The fact is that the Buddha ordained bhikkhunis. Very radical move in that age.
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:14 am

Thanavuddho wrote:It could be that there is corruption in the suttas regarding this matter. The fact is that the Buddha ordained bhikkhunis. Very radical move in that age.
Extremely radical, as is the assertion that women could become awakened, and there is the Therigatha, Verses of the Elder Nuns that is part of the Pali suttas.

I don't think we need to try to dismiss the man stuff as being corruptions; rather, it is more likely a reflection of the age and probably some editing, but the Buddha probably was also quite realistic in terms of just how much he could have pushed the equality of women notion in the context of the culture in which he found himself.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:I don't think we need to try to dismiss the man stuff as being corruptions; rather, it is more likely a reflection of the age


About nuns vinaya I can think this is true. I can think he set the rules to make nuns accept in the old society. But about saying women can never be the self enlighten one -- it is something he could not have said right?
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:09 am

How will you ever know? I would put it to the side if it's causing you much consternation.
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:44 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:How will you ever know? I would put it to the side if it's causing you much consternation.


Im thinking maybe he is right that a woman can not become the enlighten one. But who knows.
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:56 am

I second your "Who knows?" Also, gender need not be nearly as divisive as it is in our society when you consider the reality of rebirth. Mettaya. :heart:
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:57 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:I second your "Who knows?" Also, gender need not be nearly as divisive as it is in our society when you consider the reality of rebirth. Mettaya. :heart:


Im a man full of doubt. I dont sure of rebirth too
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby Mal » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:47 pm

Isn't the Buddha just stating the facts as he sees them? So just as a woman can't get an erection, she can't be Boss of the Gods. Simple fact, it's just that we can't see it, but the Buddha can (the Boss of the Gods that is...)

Women needn't despair though, they can be reborn as a man, and, therefore, as Boss of the Gods. I've just been reading the Dalai Lama's "Spiritual Autobiography" and he thinks he might be reborn as a woman.
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:33 pm

The Buddha was asked in so many words, "is there even one woman nun who is fully enlightened?" The Buddha responded, "There are not only one hundred . . . or five hundred, but far more bhikkhunis, my disciples, who by realizing for themselves with direct knowledge here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom . . ." Sutta 73 Majjhima Nikaya and also in other suttas too.

Here is an article I have written on this subject: Buddhism and Misogyny
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby santa100 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:39 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
But about saying women can never be the self enlighten one -- it is something he could not have said right?


Well, I'm a man and I still wonder if I'll ever become self enlightened. That's my most immediate concern for now... :tongue:
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:54 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:The Buddha was asked in so many words, "is there even one woman nun who is fully enlightened?" The Buddha responded, "There are not only one hundred . . . or five hundred, but far more bhikkhunis, my disciples, who by realizing for themselves with direct knowledge here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom . . ." Sutta 73 Majjhima Nikaya and also in other suttas too.


Yes but this is about being just enlightened disciple. Question is about being "THE BUDDHA" or "the load of gods" or "the ruler". Buddha is said to really laugh at the cast system in old days and not care for it at all. So why was he trying to adjust to a society with 8 heavy rules etc just to be acceptable? Why did he say a nun should stand and respect a young monk all the time? :juggling:
Last edited by BlueLotus on Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:01 pm

I don't see the Buddha being sexist; I see the culturally-laden Sangha having something of a conniption about teachings which ignore gender, apart from setting up separate communities; the Pali recitation traditions in particular tend to downgrade nuns' achievements, as compared to the Chinese versions, though both have negative tales of what women are capable of; one Mahayana text even ends up suggesting that women can turn into men, if they meditate the right way - after all, every bodhisatva has to become male at some point.

:rolleye:

The same misogyny occurs in the writings of the Desert Fathers; frankly, monastic misogyny is par for the course; I simply don't see any evidence for housing the origin in the Buddha or the Dhamma.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:07 pm

daverupa wrote:I don't see the Buddha being sexist; I see the culturally-laden Sangha having something of a conniption about teachings which ignore gender, apart from setting up separate communities; the Pali recitation traditions in particular tend to downgrade nuns' achievements, as compared to the Chinese versions, though both have negative tales of what women are capable of; one Mahayana text even ends up suggesting that women can turn into men, if they meditate the right way - after all, every bodhisatva has to become male at some point.

:rolleye:

The same misogyny occurs in the writings of the Desert Fathers; frankly, monastic misogyny is par for the course; I simply don't see any evidence for housing the origin in the Buddha or the Dhamma.

Are you saying these suttas must be corrupted?
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby Jason » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:28 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
It is possible that a man should be the perfect rightfully Enlightened One. It is impossible that a woman should be the Universal Monarch It is possible that a man should be the Universal Monarch. It is impossible that a woman should be the King of Gods. It is possible that a man should be the King of Gods. It is impossible that a woman should be the King of Death. It is possible that a man should be the King of Death. It is impossible that a woman should be Brahmaa. It is possible that a man should be Brahmaa.


The Bhikkuni vinaya say she should stand even if senior to a young monk.

Someone said there is a sutta buddha saying bhikkuni will destroy the sangha one day like some disease that spread to rice plants.

Make me wonder if Buddha is sexist. What do you make of these historical records of his words?

Note: I do not intend to insult Buddha to which I have great respect. Just trying to understand his words


For what it's worth, I agree with Richard Gombrich (via email) that this sutta is likely a piece of 'abhidhamma catechism' dating after the Buddha's lifetime; and like him, I sincerely doubt that the Buddha ever concerned himself with who could or couldn't become a Buddha, Mara, etc. In addition, Gombrich notes in What The Buddha Thought that he's "convinced by the arguments of Ute Husken that the story of the Buddha's reluctance to allow nuns into the Sangha does not date from his lifetime" (p. 53). You can also find some of my thoughts on this topic from two year ago here if you're interested.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:08 pm

Jason wrote:For what it's worth, I agree with Richard Gombrich (via email) that this sutta is likely a piece of 'abhidhamma catechism' dating after the Buddha's lifetime; and like him, I sincerely doubt that the Buddha ever concerned himself with who could or couldn't become a Buddha, Mara, etc. In addition, Gombrich notes in What The Buddha Thought that he's "convinced by the arguments of Ute Husken that the story of the Buddha's reluctance to allow nuns into the Sangha does not date from his lifetime" (p. 53). You can also find some of my thoughts on this topic from two year ago here if you're interested.


OK! That's good to hear because we can not convince well that he is not sexist if we also say he said those things. It is hard to believe. because the Buddha was against other stuff in society like cast. He stood against it. No reason why he allows discrimination. Even if to adjust to old society. It does not match his other teachings.
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:17 pm

Dear Jason,

I read your nice article. I wonder.... was the state of women that bad in old India? I think it was not as bad as we think. It looked like women had some decision making power and good social state too. Look at the queens and princesses and lay women like vishaka etc who were respected. Even before buddha came they did not live like slaves
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:22 pm

BlueLotus wrote:It does not match his other teachings.


Precisely so.

It isn't that the texts are 'corrupted', because I'm not sure about that word - but, the Nikayas, which contain most of the earliest material, also contain much that is late, as already noted, and these later components were thoroughly spliced into the Nikaya recitations in the first few centuries.

So, the whole thing requires careful attention. We aren't in a position to collect the texts and say this is pristine, this is not... but, as you say, we can compare these sorts of things to the teachings, and see what is in accord with that and what is not.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:29 pm

daverupa wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:It does not match his other teachings.


Precisely so.

It isn't that the texts are 'corrupted', because I'm not sure about that word - but, the Nikayas, which contain most of the earliest material, also contain much that is late, as already noted, and these later components were thoroughly spliced into the Nikaya recitations in the first few centuries.

So, the whole thing requires careful attention. We aren't in a position to collect the texts and say this is pristine, this is not... but, as you say, we can compare these sorts of things to the teachings, and see what is in accord with that and what is not.


Ohh yes. I think i now understand what you have been saying about suttas. :heart: Thank you
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Re: Is the Buddhs sexist

Postby Jason » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:35 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Dear Jason,

I read your nice article. I wonder.... was the state of women that bad in old India? I think it was not as bad as we think. It looked like women had some decision making power and good social state too. Look at the queens and princesses and lay women like vishaka etc who were respected. Even before buddha came they did not live like slaves


Compared to today, I think it was pretty bad, just as it was in ancient Greece and countless other places where women were excluded from many spheres of life and generally had far less social status than men. Certainly women were respected and had some decision making power in ancient India, but just like today in many parts of the world, women were often treated more as property (whether of her family or her husband) than autonomous individuals.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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