Women cannot become Buddhas?

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Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Ajisai » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:15 am

Hi,

I read somewhere on this forum (though cannot remember where) that women cannot become Buddhas. Is it true and why?
Being a women myself, does it mean that my practice can only aim for a next life in which I could reach enlightment?
I am not really seeking for enlightment really; I just want to understand the Dhamma and practice the Dhamma at its fullest. Even though, I would like to know how things are.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby appicchato » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:53 am

Ajisai wrote:...does it mean that my practice can only aim for a next life in which I could reach enlightenment?


Welcome to DhammaWheel Ajisai...

Not being certain of the specifics I can't comment confidently on your query, but did want to address your question above...no, it doesn't mean that...it is possible to become enlightened, by both male and female, in this very lifetime...this is my understanding, and I'm sorry I don't have a reference for you...all the very best in your endeavors...
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Dhammavaro » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:14 am

If you believe that you are a women or men...you have no chance.
^^The Greatest Gift to Buddha, our Parents, our teacher..is to open the eye of dhamma^^
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:16 am

Ajisai wrote:Hi,

I read somewhere on this forum (though cannot remember where) that women cannot become Buddhas. Is it true and why?
Being a women myself, does it mean that my practice can only aim for a next life in which I could reach enlightment?
I am not really seeking for enlightment really; I just want to understand the Dhamma and practice the Dhamma at its fullest. Even though, I would like to know how things are.


Hi Ajisai,

I'm a woman too and as far as I know, women became enlightened arahants in the time of the Buddha as well as men and can still do so now.

Here's a sutta I really like:



SN 5.2 Soma Sutta: Sister Soma

At Savatthi. Then, early in the morning, Soma the nun put on her robes and, taking her bowl & outer robe, went into Savatthi for alms. When she had gone for alms in Savatthi and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Grove of the Blind to spend the day. Having gone deep into the Grove of the Blind, she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day's abiding.

Then Mara the Evil One, wanting to arouse fear, horripilation, & terror in her, wanting to make her fall away from concentration, approached her & addressed her in verse:


"That which is to be attained by seers
— the place so very hard to reach —
women
can't
— with their two-inch discernment —
attain."

Then the thought occurred to Soma the nun: "Now who has recited this verse — a human being or a non-human one?" Then it occurred to her: "This is Mara the Evil One, who has recited this verse wanting to arouse fear, horripilation, & terror in me, wanting to make me fall away from concentration."

Then, having understood that "This is Mara the Evil One," she replied to him in verses:

"What difference
does being a woman make
when the mind's well-centered,
when knowledge is progressing,
seeing clearly, rightly,
into the Dhamma.

Anyone who thinks
'I'm a woman'
or 'a man'
or 'Am I anything at all?' —
that's who Mara's
fit to address."

Then Mara the Evil One — sad & dejected at realizing, "Soma the nun knows me" — vanished right there.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn05/sn05.002.than.html


With metta,

Aloka
Last edited by Aloka on Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:16 am

There were many enlightened women who practiced the Buddha's path to get there.

In Theravada there is a distinction between arahat and buddha. We call arahat to every enlightened person. We call a buddha any person who has rediscovered the dhamma by himself, in a time where it is forgoten, and attained enlightenment.

The bit you read was probably that women can't become buddhas, not arahats. That's a different question. I see no reason to believe this as a categorical statement. What I mean is that if we were living in a matriarcal society in which there was no dhamma, I'm sure that there would be the possibility of a female buddha to appear.

Anyway, the important part is that you can attain enlightenment in this life if you practice acordingly.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:18 am

Beautiful sutta, Aloka. Thank you. :)
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Ajisai » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:35 pm

Everyone, thank you for your answers, it is all very clear now !

First it seems I mistook the Buddha term with the arahat one. I'm new to Buddhism and I still have a lot to learn :reading:

Dhammavaro, your answer if short but full of meaning.
Aloka, thanks for this sutta, it is great (and it is just like Dahammavaro said above you).

That is also why I could not get why 'men could do it but women could not'. It did not make sense to what I had read so far.

Thanks again !
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:00 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:There were many enlightened women who practiced the Buddha's path to get there.

In Theravada there is a distinction between arahat and buddha. We call arahat to every enlightened person. We call a buddha any person who has rediscovered the dhamma by himself, in a time where it is forgoten, and attained enlightenment.

The bit you read was probably that women can't become buddhas, not arahats. That's a different question. I see no reason to believe this as a categorical statement. What I mean is that if we were living in a matriarcal society in which there was no dhamma, I'm sure that there would be the possibility of a female buddha to appear.

Anyway, the important part is that you can attain enlightenment in this life if you practice acordingly.


Do not Buddhas have abilities that arahants do not, like the ability to communicate the dhamma well?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby equilibrium » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:13 pm

Jhana4 wrote:Do not Buddhas have abilities that arahants do not, like the ability to communicate the dhamma well?

Buddhas has abilities that Arahants will not have.....and within Arahants, they have different abilities too.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:21 pm

Jhana4 wrote:Do not Buddhas have abilities that arahants do not, like the ability to communicate the dhamma well?


There was a very good discussion a few months ago about the (absence of) differences between some arahats and the Buddha. I remember Tiltbillings participated actively in that one, so maybe he knows which thread is it.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:33 pm

Inspiration from enlightened nuns

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 (nuns), 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.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Kingdubrock » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:09 pm

I don't know about Buddha's - male or female. I have never met one, or at least that I could discern. Or anyone worth thinkng about who claims to be one. Only people who claim or believe their teacher or some well loved person is one.
I have had about 6 close, in-person teachers, and value them all, but the ones who really had the most profound and lasting effect on me were women. This even carries out into non-Buddhist contexts. Almost all the doctors, writers, teachers, thinkers, mentors etc who have really indluenced and helped me, come to think of it have been women.
My guess is, if there is scripture that says otherwise it was slipped in there by a "respected" monk who was getting his enlightenment butt kicked by a woman. :tongue:
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Aloka » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:59 pm

Kingdubrock wrote:
My guess is, if there is scripture that says otherwise it was slipped in there by a "respected" monk who was getting his enlightenment butt kicked by a woman. :tongue:


I don't know anything about that, but you might like this verse:

I.11 — Mutta {v. 11}

So freed! So thoroughly freed am I! —
from three crooked things set free:
from mortar, pestle,
& crooked old husband.
Having uprooted the craving
that leads to becoming,
I'm set free from aging & death

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/thig.01.00x.than.html#sutta-11


:)
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Kingdubrock » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:20 pm

Aloka wrote:
Kingdubrock wrote:
My guess is, if there is scripture that says otherwise it was slipped in there by a "respected" monk who was getting his enlightenment butt kicked by a woman. :tongue:


I don't know anything about that, but you might like this verse:

I.11 — Mutta {v. 11}

So freed! So thoroughly freed am I! —
from three crooked things set free:
from mortar, pestle,
& crooked old husband.
Having uprooted the craving
that leads to becoming,
I'm set free from aging & death

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/thig.01.00x.than.html#sutta-11


:)


:clap:
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby cooran » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:15 am

This article may be of interest:

Arahants, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas - by Bhikkhu Bodhi

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ttvas.html

With metta,
Chris
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---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby dagon » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:34 pm

i came across this thread "The Wisdom of Ariyan Women" and thought it relevant to the discussion.

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=492&p=5627&hilit=house+holder#p5627

metta
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby dxm_dxm » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:48 pm

There are 3 times more buddhist nuns than monks and females even have some skills necesary for practice more developed than man (patience, resistance to pain, things like this) but the differences between the 2 sexes are insignificant as far as meditation practice is concerned.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Maitri » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:21 pm

The original question is not whether women could be enlightened, but if they could become Buddhas. From my reading, the answer is no. According to the Bahudatuka Sutta MN 115:

“He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a woman could be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One—there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a man might be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One—there is such a possibility.’ He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a woman could be a Wheel-turning Monarch…that a woman could occupy the position of Sakka [66]…that a woman could occupy the position of Māra…that a woman could occupy the position of Brahmā—there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a man might be a Wheel-turning Monarch…that a man might occupy the position of Sakka…that a man might occupy the position of Māra…that a man might occupy the position of Brahmā—there is such a possibility.’


This assertion from that you have to go beyond "male" and "female" concepts to become a Buddha clearly has nothing to do with what is found in the texts. From this it's clear that a male body is required to be a fully awakened Buddha.

The goal in Theravada practice is not to become a Buddha, but to attain liberation. The arising of a Buddha is a very, very rare occurrence.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:38 pm

Maitri wrote:The original question is not whether women could be enlightened, but if they could become Buddhas.


Hi Maitri,

Thank you for pointing this out. I noticed it, too... but couldn't figure out how to mention it, and still be confident that there will be a useful discussion.

“He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a woman could be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One—there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a man might be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One—there is such a possibility.’ He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a woman could be a Wheel-turning Monarch…that a woman could occupy the position of Sakka [66]…that a woman could occupy the position of Māra…that a woman could occupy the position of Brahmā—there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a man might be a Wheel-turning Monarch…that a man might occupy the position of Sakka…that a man might occupy the position of Māra…that a man might occupy the position of Brahmā—there is such a possibility.’


This assertion from that you have to go beyond "male" and "female" concepts to become a Buddha clearly has nothing to do with what is found in the texts. From this it's clear that a male body is required to be a fully awakened Buddha.


It also seems interesting in that passage, it mentions that it's impossible for a woman to be Mara... what could that mean? Does this modify (or clarify) the statement of not being a Buddha into something else at least different?

Also, I think we should take care in saying that a male body "is required" to be a fully awakened Buddha. The way that I read the text, the Buddha only said that it's impossible for a woman, and possible for a man... and that was said for every position including Mara, apparently.

What does that mean?

:anjali:
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Maitri » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:59 pm

Hello beeblebrox,
It also seems interesting in that passage, it mentions that it's impossible for a woman to be Mara... what could that mean? Does this modify (or clarify) the statement of not being a Buddha into something else at least different?

Also, I think we should take care in saying that a male body "is required" to be a fully awakened Buddha. The way that I read the text, the Buddha only said that it's impossible for a woman, and possible for a man... and that was said for every position including Mara, apparently.


It is among the classes of beings that will not be female- not only Buddhas and Chakravartins but leaders of the God realms. As a result of karma beings are born into those stations, sans Buddha who achieves it due to cultivation. A woman who is now female may be reborn as Mara, but it will be in the body of a male. It falls within the concept of Mahapurisa http://www.palikanon.com/namen/maha/mahapurisa.htm and most importantly, the idea that the male privates are covered in a sheath.

I say "required" because a Buddha is born as a human. Humans are either male or female biologically speaking. As the Buddha states a female human may not become a Buddha, a human male body is required. These scenarios of the lineage of each Buddha are mentioned in Mahâpadāna Sutta DN14.

I'm not saying I agree with this, just that this appears to be the textual presentation of these concepts. So often nowadays, Theravada and Mahayana teachings get cross-wired and one doesn't necessarily speak for the other. Although it's out of bounds for this forum, the Mahayana tradition has its own problems with women becoming Buddhas.
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