Women can't become Buddhas?

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:41 am

I don't see why we have to tiptoe around the fact that most cultures on earth today are male-dominated. If I were a Buddha about to come here and teach I would choose a male form. Buddha's are wise [understatement here]. As I understand it, Buddhas are able to know all things that are knowable, and Lord Buddha explained what to expect in the future from teaching-buddhas.

If this is a horrid or politically incorrect thing to say, I'm sorry. I just don't see why anyone would find it disturbing, it's just how things are. There's been improvement regarding the position of women in society over time, but we've still got a ways to go.

Just my two cents :namaste:
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:35 am

Drolma wrote:I don't see why we have to tiptoe around the fact that most cultures on earth today are male-dominated.

Society was once female dominated. This is theorised by the multitude of ancient Goddesses. However, the female dominated societies gave birth to the accumulation of wealth and the need for men to protect it. When this militarism occurred, men began dominating society.

Thus it is not possible for a Buddha to arise in a female dominated society because these societies occur during the "upside" of sensual and material development rather than the peak. Women are by nature nest builders thus being accumulators of good things, man must always protect what women value. When a Buddha renounced the world, he basically renounces female materialistic values.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:32 am

Element wrote:
Manapa wrote:If that is the case I think what ever form the next Buddha will take will be the form most easily listened to, and understood.

Dhamma is always the same. The last Buddha is always with us in the suttas. If one does not listen and understand the last Buddha, one will not listen and understand the next one.

:popcorn:


well considering the next Buddha will be after the teachings have vanished from the world, so listening and understanding one is not a prerequisite for listening and understanding the next.
liking one person is not a prerequisite for liking another
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:56 am

Hi Jason,

Elohim wrote:Even taken in context, though, it still seems like it is saying roughly the same thing, i.e., that the conventionally observable marks of the male sex are produced from superior kamma while the conventionally observable marks of the female sex are produced from inferior kamma. It begs to question why "male" characteristics such as beards, moustaches, etc. are produced from superior kamma while "female" characteristics such as breast, round hips, etc. are produced from inferior kamma. I would appreciate it if you could explain the meaning of this passage in more detail when you have the time.


I don’t know if this is ever spelt out in the texts, but I doubt it, for the abhidhammikas’ priority is to describe the dhammas themselves, rather than their conventional consequences. I would suggest, however, that the sexual differences produced by the gender-controlling faculties are indeed of a sort that tend to make a male body something more to be wished for than a female one, all other things being equal. If one considers those features of men's and women's bodies that are differentiated by the gender-controlling faculties, it seems that in every case the male features are stronger, less susceptible to injury, and more versatile for nearly every end save that of attracting mates and child-rearing.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:03 am

i guess this is a modern phenomenon but i keep comming across asian teachers saying females make better meditators then men, that they advance quicker.
i mostly see it in burmese traditions
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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 thecap » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:04 pm

Dhammanando wrote: If one considers those features of men's and women's bodies that are differentiated by the gender-controlling faculties, it seems that in every case the male features are stronger, less susceptible to injury, and more versatile for nearly every end save that of attracting mates and child-rearing.


Hello Venerable Dhammanando

Thanks for your comment.

In the process you describe though, you seem to have missed one important fact.
Women can and do well pretend to be weaker than they are in order to attract mates, for this is what usually pleases the male ego.

Then still remains the question, to what extent is this portrayed female weakness an over-simplification and a self-fulfilling prophecy?

At least, from personal observation, even though females usually have weaker body features, as you say, they are also more persistent than males.
This seems to be an evolutionary coincidence that is necessary for what you deprecatingly described as "child-rearing".

Perhaps, we should not forget that the Dhamma, as well and perfectly spoken by the Buddha as it is, is none the less adapted to the dusty ears of the people who used to listen to it 2600 years ago; and it probably requires no less examination by reason than it did when the Buddha invited us to examine it by reason.

:namaste:
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:04 pm

Hi Cap,

thecap wrote:In the process you describe though, you seem to have missed one important fact.
Women can and do well pretend to be weaker than they are in order to attract mates, for this is what usually pleases the male ego.


I didn't miss it. It just isn't relevant to the question that Jason was raising. The fact that women's bodies are weaker and more easily injured than those of men lends support to the abhidhammikas' claim that the femininity rūpadhammas are generated by past akusala kamma and masculinity rūpadhammas by past kusala kammas. The fact that women have the canniness to make the best of a bad lot doesn't negate this. A one-legged beggar, by eliciting more sympathy from passers-by, might well make a better living than a two-legged beggar; nonetheless, it remains the case that two-leggedness is the more desirable state.

Then still remains the question, to what extent is this portrayed female weakness an over-simplification and a self-fulfilling prophecy?

At least, from personal observation, even though females usually have weaker body features, as you say, they are also more persistent than males.


This may be the case, but it goes beyond the issue that my reply to Jason was addressing, which was male and female physical features considered in themselves.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Will » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:30 pm

I did not read the entire thread very closely, so pardon if this point was already raised.

Gotama Buddha was not eager to have a bhikkuni order. He even said it would shorten or weaken his Dhamma (something like that). Perhaps it was only the quality of women in his time, perhaps not.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:36 pm

Will,

Will wrote:I did not read the entire thread very closely, so pardon if this point was already raised.

Gotama Buddha was not eager to have a bhikkuni order. He even said it would shorten or weaken his Dhamma (something like that). Perhaps it was only the quality of women in his time, perhaps not.


I do not think it has been discussed in this thread, but that topic has been raised here.

Jason
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby piotr » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:07 pm

Hi,

It seems to me that the statement "It is impossible that a woman should be the perfect rightfully Enlightened One", is unendearing and disagreeable to some people here. Therefore I would like to raise another question regarding this matter. Since Tathāgata's speech, according to Abhaya-sutta (MN 58), is only about what is both factual, true, & beneficial, then what is beneficial and conducive to the practice in this statement? I don't think that it was meant to despise anybody.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:28 pm

That is a good question, piotr.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jechbi » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:59 pm

Elohim wrote:That is a good question, piotr.

I suspect the answer is that the entire "Discourse on Many Elements," when read in context, appears to an encouragement to understand things in a manner similar to the way they are presented in the Abhidhamma (although I realize that came later). Ven. Dhammanando seems to be hinting at something along these lines, tho I might have misunderstood him. Remember that the discourse was given to monks, not lay people.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:03 pm

Dhammanando wrote:I would suggest, however, that the sexual differences produced by the gender-controlling faculties are indeed of a sort that tend to make a male body something more to be wished for than a female one, all other things being equal. If one considers those features of men's and women's bodies that are differentiated by the gender-controlling faculties, it seems that in every case the male features are stronger, less susceptible to injury, and more versatile for nearly every end save that of attracting mates and child-rearing.

I would go even further and say that being born a man in a male-dominated society is the product of better karma than being born a woman in a male-dominated society. Just as being born rich is from better karma than being born poor. Note that just as this doesn't make a rich man superior to a poor man, it doesn't make a man superior to a woman.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:04 pm

piotr wrote:what is beneficial and conducive to the practice in this statement?

I do not know, but keep in mind it was a] beneficial to the people the Buddha said it to, b] probably beneficial to certain types of people today, and c] probably not beneficial to certain other types of people today.

We today are in the unfortunate position of being able to read everything the Buddha said, instead of just those bits that are beneficial to our own practice.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 7:44 pm

Hi Piotr,

piotr wrote:then what is beneficial and conducive to the practice in this statement?


In the Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (MN. 12) the first of the ten Tathāgata powers is called "knowledge of the possible and the impossible" (ṭhānaṭṭhāna-ñāṇa):

    “Here, the Tathāgata understands as it actually is the possible as possible and the impossible as impossible. And that is a Tathāgata’s power that the Tathāgata has, by virtue of which he claims the herd-leader’s place, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets rolling the Wheel of Brahma.

And in the Vibhanga the Buddha's knowledge of the impossibility of a woman being a Sammāsambuddha, a universal monarch, Māra, Brahmā etc. is classed as part of this Tathāgata power.

So perhaps his statements are simply a demonstration of this power, aimed at reinforcing his disciples' faith.

    ye bhikkhave buddhe pasannā, agge te pasannā
    agge kho pana pasannānaṃ aggo vipāko hoti.

    “Those, bhikkhus, who have faith in the Buddha, have faith in the best;
    And those who have faith in the best, theirs is the best result.”
    (AN.ii.35)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:10 pm

Element wrote:
Individual wrote:Before trying to provide a good answer to your question, it would be good to first distinguish several bad answers to this question. A person could not rightfully say that women cannot become Buddhas because it's been repeatedly said, because it's traditional belief, because it's in scripture, because it's logical, it's an assumption of Theravada, it's a bias, or because it has been said by many monks over the years.

Theravada asserts that Buddhas and Arahants are essentially equal (that the Buddha's enlightenment isn't superior to the Arahant's), but only that Buddhas achieve such enlightenment of their own effort, without outside help, but Arahants rely on Buddhas. In this regard, Buddhas might have more siddhis and more expansive knowledge, but the essential enlightenment (into the nature of notself, impermanence, dukkha, and liberation from samsara) is said to be same.

Now, considering that a Buddha's enlightenment is roughly the same as an Arahant's, and considering that there have been female Arahants, it seems difficult to claim that women can never be Buddhas... ever. We also have to consider that fatalism is a wrong view, so saying that women can't become Buddhas, doesn't seem to be justified. Peter's and Drolma's theory seems to be the correct one, although I'm not certain if it's a Classical Theravadin perspective.

Dear Individual

A woman cannot attain Buddhahood through her own efforts and then establish the Buddhist religion. That is impossible.

First, a woman has little natural spiritual authority & power and would be readily dismissed by spiritual seekers, kings, the powerful, etc. For a person to establish a religion, they must exude a natural authority and awe, as we read of the Buddha or Jesus.

Second, I theorise, much of a woman's attainment depends in part or initially on the sublimation of her feminine affections upon a man. Most female practitioners are caught up in some kind of guru yoga.

Temples and churches are full of women but the world is not full of female arahants. If Jesus or the Buddha was a woman, the temples and churches would not be full of women, praying for their hopes and wishes and fears.

It is like on Buddhachat. I little birdie has told me you have a female admirer, who thinks you have authority. :heart:

For your consideration,

Element


.... a woman has little natural spiritual authority & power ...
.:lol:

You don't seem to have met women of spiritual value in person so far. Luckily, I can say I have, but most men would have easily overlooked them, blinded by the physical surface of a taller man.

I theorise, much of a woman's attainment depends in part or initially on the sublimation of her feminine affections upon a man. Most female practitioners are caught up in some kind of guru yoga.


Yes, you theorize, but I would recommend first hand experience instead..

Temples and churches are full of women but the world is not full of female arahants. If Jesus or the Buddha was a woman, the temples and churches would not be full of women, praying for their hopes and wishes and fears.


Many of Women's hopes and wishes and fears are for men, ignorant, selfish, abusive and unenlightened husbands, who carefully avoid temples, so they can merrily continue on their sex craving, power obsessed downward course, until they hit bottom in hell. :evil:

Typically, when the woman finally denies her love and finds more happiness in churches and temples, men become bitter misogynists badmouthing what they have lost control over.

:zzz:
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby thecap » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:08 pm

Peter wrote:We today are in the unfortunate position of being able to read everything the Buddha said, instead of just those bits that are beneficial to our own practice.


And perhaps, it also gives us the unique opportunity to practise thinking for ourselves and investigating the Dhamma with reason. :console:
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:15 pm

thecap wrote:
Peter wrote:We today are in the unfortunate position of being able to read everything the Buddha said, instead of just those bits that are beneficial to our own practice.
And perhaps, it also gives us the unique opportunity to practise thinking for ourselves and investigating the Dhamma with reason. :console:

What do you mean? :?
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby thecap » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:28 am

Peter wrote:What do you mean? :?


I meant that I don't think it's an unfortunate position to have Dhamma at our fingertips.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby thecap » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:11 am

Dhammanando wrote:I didn't miss it. It just isn't relevant to the question that Jason was raising.


It is relevant to the topic.

The fact that women's bodies are weaker and more easily injured than those of men lends support to the abhidhammikas' claim that the femininity rūpadhammas are generated by past akusala kamma and masculinity rūpadhammas by past kusala kammas.


Does this mean that being a woman is a punishment for past misdeeds?

The fact that women have the canniness to make the best of a bad lot doesn't negate this.


What "bad lot", Bhante?

A one-legged beggar, by eliciting more sympathy from passers-by, might well make a better living than a two-legged beggar; nonetheless, it remains the case that two-leggedness is the more desirable state.


Women aren't cripples.
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