Women can't become Buddhas?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:30 pm

Isnt this all coming from assuptions that all men and women are the same.

That all men are strong and all women have grace and negotiating skills etc

Some men arent strong and do acctualy get this from their female partner and some women can learn grace etc from their male partner.

Also the conditions in which the old evolutionary traits of males as hunters and females as nest builders no longer apply in any real sense in the modern world, at least not in first world countries as these societies are man made constructs, shaped by ideas of equality and individual rights and so are far removed from natural habbitat so any natural evolutionary traits no longer have any meaning.

:focus: In reguards to this threads title, yes a women can become enlightened. If a women can become a buddha, most likely we will never know for sure but it doesnt really matter. "Women" is just a convenient description as is "Man" that involves identification with one or more aggregates and a Buddha cannot be pinned down as being one of the aggregates.

A Buddha is neither man nor women in reality.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:04 pm

Feminism is mostly a whole lot of hot wind and empty talk.


I understand feminism as a social movement :shrug:

All of these generalizations about qualities that are specific to gender will fall short.

True bliss and emptiness involves the unification/lack of differentiation between male and female qualities anyhow. Best to not invest too much effort in defining differences.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:11 pm

Element wrote:It is best to remove the delusions of female power, like the view a women are powerful and can 'save' or 'sustain' a man.

The delusion of male power too.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:15 pm

Individual wrote: The delusion of male power too.

No. Power of compassion is in the male. Neediness is in the woman. When a woman suckles a child this is not compassion but her own inner need. Or lets say, natures need to reproduce itself through female reproductive elements or energy. For example, femanists say men force women to reproduce. I say this is delusion.

There are two kinds of power. Worldly power & spiritual power.
Last edited by Element on Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Element » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:21 pm

Drolma wrote:All of these generalizations about qualities that are specific to gender will fall short.

Possibilty. But the thread must remain vital. There must be some Mara. :P
True bliss and emptiness involves the unification/lack of differentiation between male and female qualities anyhow. Best to not invest too much effort in defining differences.

Maybe in Mahayana but in Theravada Buddha said there are three faculities. Faculty of life, faculty of male & faculty of female. I think it is wiser to be able to discern male & female elements rather than dwell in undifferentiated white-darkness. I think however integrating, empathising and reconciling our notions of male and female is useful for our moral or social development & relationships.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:26 pm

Element wrote:
Individual wrote: The delusion of male power too.

No. Power of compassion is in the male. Neediness is in the woman. When a woman suckles a child this is not compassion but her own inner need. Or lets say, natures need to reproduce itself through female reproductive elements or energy. For example, femanists say men force women to reproduce. I say this is delusion.

There are two kinds of power. Worldly power & spiritual power.

Can you cite suttas where the Buddha said that compassion was a "male" quality and neediness was a "female" quality?
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:44 pm

Element wrote:
Drolma wrote:All of these generalizations about qualities that are specific to gender will fall short.

Possibilty. But the thread must remain vital. There must be some Mara. :P
True bliss and emptiness involves the unification/lack of differentiation between male and female qualities anyhow. Best to not invest too much effort in defining differences.

Maybe in Mahayana but in Theravada Buddha said there are three faculities. Faculty of life, faculty of male & faculty of female. I think it is wiser to be able to discern male & female elements rather than dwell in undifferentiated white-darkness. I think however integrating, empathising and reconciling our notions of male and female is useful for our moral or social development & relationships.


Oh yes. We want to have discernment, and to see things how they really are are, by all means. I was really speaking to creating extra conventional divisions that may not be very useful or productive.

However, if the Buddha said that we should, then I'll defer to Him of course :buddha2:

Actually, male/female qualities, mother/father tantras are spelled out very specifically in TB. My statement has more to do with our focus on social structures and norms. I'm all for Engaged buddhism and getting involved in social issues, don't get me wrong. But at the practice level, I feel that development of insight beyond preconceived notions about gender is useful.

But maybe that's just me :toast:
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:46 pm

Greetings,

My take is that we need to renounce both masculinity and feminity.

The Buddha merely defines and differentiates them to provide clarity for us on what needs to be renounced.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:48 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

My take is that we need to renounce both masculinity and feminity.

The Buddha merely defines and differentiates them to provide clarity for us on what needs to be renounced.

Metta,
Retro. :)


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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:52 pm

Hi Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

My take is that we need to renounce both masculinity and feminity.

The Buddha merely defines and differentiates them to provide clarity for us on what needs to be renounced.

Metta,
Retro. :)


You remind me of something a teacher I know has mentioned a couple of times to me.
If you look at a statue of the Buddha can you actually tell if it is of a man or a woman?
yes there are no breasts but the look is quite feminine as well as masculine, and I would say (can't remember the lists name properly) that the description of the Buddha (Long elegant fingers etc) has allot of stereotypical feminine qualities
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammakid » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:06 pm

Hello Sangha,
It seems Bhante and a few others are basically saying the same thing: feminine dhammas are the result of unwholesome kamma ripening during an age where men have gained dominance and control over society. It's the harsh truth from a Buddhist point of view, just as a "good" person being tortured to death by a serial killer is also the harsh truth. Kamma is a universal law. Compassion evolves out of noticing how kamma affects us based on our actions, and teaching all beings to change their ways in order to cultivate wholesome kamma and eventually attain liberation.

I personally believe I have many feminine dhammas, although obviously they have not manifested as female biology. But I ruminate quite often, I show great compassion and I tend far more to female company than male. Then again, I'm not the only male in the world like this. Gender is a spectrum, and is not the equal to biological sex.

Analogy: I'm an African American male. Statistics show I will likely end up dead or in prison. Furthermore, my people are bound by so much racism and classism still prevalent in today's world. Yet, I am heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, abide supported by my kamma. It has nothing to do inherently with me being Black, but rather I have cultivated unwholesome conditions for myself, and those with higher status and power have cultivated some wholesome kamma for themselves to be in power (although I guess it can be argued that being a racists/classists is either the result of unwholesome kamma or is actively creating unwholesome kamma).

I also have depression, and no health insurance to pay for medication or check-ups. I had to drop out of school due to lack of funds. And, worst of all, I was born in the States! (Haha). And yet, I have to listen to all you elitist Buddhist hippies tell me it's my fault? Well, yes, kind of, because I am heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, abide supported by my kamma.

That doesn't negate women's struggle for equality and fair treatment in society (I am a feminist, after all). But it also means we should be wise and listen to the compassionate teaching when it's available to us, so we can cultivate the conditions for a favorable rebirth.

I, for one, hope to cultivate the conditions to be born as a woman during an aeon when women dominate society. Why not? The point is to eliminate suffering, and right practice now makes it possible later.

Consider the fact that the Buddha was the victim of an apparent murder attempt by his own family member and was forced to endure a quite excruciating stab to the foot by a sliver of hard rock. Did he complain? No. He guarded his sense-doors and gained the devas' applause. True compassion for all beings sees through the delusion of others, even when it's male chauvinists and misogynists ruining society as we know it. Because true compassion is selfless, and understands we are all deluded in some way. And when the powerful are deluded, they show it in more outwardly devastating ways than the delusion of the subordinate. All it means is the Dhamma is that much more important to society.

I love the explanation that the Enlightenment of a male Sammasambuddha is no different than the Enlightenment of a female Arahant. That pretty much answers the question.

I'm either right, wrong, or neither - but I guess I'll find out! (Thanks, Manapa!)

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:25 pm

It seems Bhante and a few others are basically saying the same thing: feminine dhammas are the result of unwholesome kamma ripening during an age where men have gained dominance and control over society. It's the harsh truth from a Buddhist point of view...


Yes, nicely stated! It may seem harsh to some. But there's a whole lot of other births that are more seriously unfortunate!

I find no offense in what Bhante has to say. According to my belief system, we all have all been all kinds of beings. For those of us in the form of female or male humans, it's very temporary. Like a flash in the pan.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:54 am

Dhammakid wrote:It seems Bhante and a few others are basically saying the same thing: feminine dhammas are the result of unwholesome kamma ripening during an age where men have gained dominance and control over society.


Not quite. Theravada doctrine is that "female" characteristics are produced from inferior kamma, period. Theravada does not accept the possibility that a woman can become a Buddha in any age for this reason.
Last edited by Jason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:00 am

Drolma wrote:I find no offense in what Bhante has to say. According to my belief system, we all have all been all kinds of beings.


I do not take offense to what the Ven. Dhammanando is saying either, even though I do not agree with such ideas.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby cooran » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:10 am

Hello Elohim,

Which particular things do you disagree with, and why? Not arguing, just interested.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:15 am

this is a topic that really goes nowhere, and doesnt make anyone happy. really doesnt seem to serve any purpose either...

but i keep thinking about it now, and i cant think of any examples of women going off to do anything similar to the Buddha. well going off to join spiritual comunities, yes, but just going off into the wilderness alone, no. its only desert sages, recluses, hermits and crazy old men.

and other than those rare few guys who go off alone it's not even a matter of men vs women...
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:23 am

Chris,

Chris wrote:Which particular things do you disagree with, and why? Not arguing, just interested.


I thought it was obvious, but I disagree that a woman is incapable of being a Buddha.

Jason
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammakid » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:39 am

Elohim wrote:
Dhammakid wrote:It seems Bhante and a few others are basically saying the same thing: feminine dhammas are the result of unwholesome kamma ripening during an age where men have gained dominance and control over society.


Not quite. Theravada doctrine is that "female" characteristics are produced from inferior kamma, period. Theravada does not accept the possibility that a woman can become a Buddha in any age for this reason.


Hello Elohim,
Can you explain how you derive this from Bhante's explanations and/or the suttas?

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammakid » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:41 am

Elohim wrote:...I disagree that a woman is incapable of being a Buddha.


As do I. And if the statement "Theravada rejects the idea that females can become Buddhas because feminine dhammas are a result of inferior kammas in any age" is true, then I cannot agree with that either. Althought I guess I have to say I have no direct knowledge to dispute it.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:57 am

Dhammakid wrote:Can you explain how you derive this from Bhante's explanations and/or the suttas?


I did not derived it from anything, Dhammakid, that is what I have been explicitly told in the past. To put it simply, Theravada doctrine is pretty adamant that when it is stated it is impossible for a woman to become a Buddha (such as in MN 115), that means it is impossible.
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