Women can't become Buddhas?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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kc2dpt
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:29 am

- Peter


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby thecap » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:41 am


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:46 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:43 am


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:34 pm

The best things in life aren't things.


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kc2dpt
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:53 pm

- Peter


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:11 pm

Honestly, I find this entire topic confounding from a Theravadin standpoint. To begin with, you have people who declare Theravada Buddhism to be a philosophy, religion, or ethical way of life free from any form of discrimination. These people claim that everything the Buddha taught was true, and that everything he said is exactly the way it is. Moreover, these people often state that the commentaries faithfully represent the Buddha's message. Whatever he said, whether it appears to contradict this assumption or not, must be taken at face value. Therefore, teachings that state a woman is incapable of becoming a Fully Awakened Buddha are taken to mean that women are incapable of ever achieving this level of spiritual attainment, and at least one commentary states that, "The masculine sex is superior, the women inferior" (Pe Maung Tin, The Expositor, 420).

What I find so bizarre and contradictory is that the assertion is made that gender is nothing more than a conventional distinction, one that contains no inherent meaning or reality; however, you find teachings stating that "women" are unable to do something spiritually that "men" are capable of doing. If this is true, then for what reason is a woman, or a stream of consciousness in the form of a woman, unable to do become a samma-sambuddha? If it merely depends upon your level of accomplishment through aeons of effort, I do not see what would prevent a woman, or a stream of consciousness in the form of a woman, after developing the perfections and being reborn countless times while doing so in all the realms of existence, finally taking rebirth as a female and bringing back the Dhamma to the world after it has died out completely.

It could very well be, as Peter has suggested, that the reason the Buddha said this was due to the societal conditions at that time. Perhaps the Buddha himself never said that women are inferior to men, or in other words, that being born as a woman is inferior to being born as a man; nevertheless, you have commentarial literature stating that this is indeed the case. So even if the Buddha himself did not say this, that is the way it is interpreted in the "classical" Theravada Tradition in which the entire Tipitaka and its commentaries are considered authoritative. My opinion is that an element of sexism may have found its way into the interpretation of the Buddha's words recorded in the Pali Canon, and that this is not as unlikely as it sounds considering that these teachings have been transmitted through a predominately patriarchal society for almost 2,600 years.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kowtaaia » Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:41 pm


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:09 pm

Another thing I thought I would mention is that this idea that only a man can become a samma-sambuddha may have arisen in relation to the idea that the Buddha possessed all "." One of the marks is said to be "the part which should be concealed by garments, is covered by a bag," which is interpreted to mean that the penis is sheathed and can be drawn into the body and remain there. Obviously, the mark of having a sheathed penis would exclude women. Nevertheless, I do not take these marks to be a literally description of the Buddha himself. For example, I have always found MN 140 interesting in that the wanderer Pukkusati did not immediately recognize the Buddha when he saw him, but only realized who he was after hearing him teach a profound discourse on four determinations and the six properties of experience. That is hard to imagine if the Buddha literally possessed all thirty-two marks. To me, it is obvious that these marks were metaphorical (i.e., representative of various characters and qualities) or the result of psychic powers (i.e., visions that were given certain brahmins and wanderers who accepted the ancient Indian tradition regarding the "thirty-two marks of a great man"), and were used by the Buddha and the Sangha to entice certain brahmins and wanderers who accepted the ancient Indian tradition regarding the "thirty-two marks of a great man" to learn the Dhamma. In other words, it was just clever marketing.
Last edited by Jason on Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:18 pm


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:03 pm


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:09 am

i dont know if i brought this up here or on the other forum but
i think women cant be buddhas in the same way a woman cant be a king
a woman can be a queen, she can rule with the same same authority and power of a king, but she is always a queen, never a king

maybe there is the female equivilent to a buddha? who knows.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:23 am


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:30 am

there have always been women religious leaders, but no matter how good their teachings seem to be they seem to either get upstaged by a male student, or their sect gets relegated to cult status. most societies seem to find the idea of a female religious leader a threat , this goes for women as well as men. i've known many christian woman who believe women are inferior to men , or shouldnt teach men.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:46 am

By nature, it is a woman's role to teach a man morality. However, once a man is moral, it is not a woman's role to teach a man about the supramundane.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:47 am


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:07 am


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:12 am


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:26 am


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:58 am

Last edited by Jason on Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:49 am, edited 3 times in total.
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