Women can't become Buddhas?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:50 pm

Peter wrote:
Drolma wrote:One thing I considered is, a logical reason that a female can't become a sammasambuddha is because of the condition of outer society, not a female's inner condition.

That is my supposition as well. Frankly I'm stumped as to why so many people in this thread assume it must have something to do with a person's inner condition. :shrug: Perhaps people get some sort of thrill being offended. :guns:

From everything I've read in this thread it doesn't seem that the Buddha gave a lot of detail to explain what he said.

Nor does it seem to have any impact whatsoever on how we are to develop our practice. It seems to me one can assume there's a good reason behind this teaching and move on with their lives, or one can assume there's a bad reason behind it and let it knock their practice off track. It's our choice. We're never going to know for sure either way.


Frankly I'm stumped as to why so many people in this thread assume it must have something to do with a person's inner condition.


Nobody said that.

:shrug: Perhaps people get some sort of thrill being offended.


No. On the contrary. You were asked to stop twisting words around.

Please oblige.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:09 pm

Hi Piotr,

piotr wrote:Isn't it also connected to the idea that one's vows can be fulfilled only when one has the same sex as when was making a vow?


Maybe. One of the eight conditions for a vow made before a Buddha to be effective is that one must be a male human at the time of making it. Having made it and received a prediction, from then on there are eighteen states he can never fall into. One of these eighteen is to change one's sex, but does this mean the Bodhisatta can never be born female or that he will never undergo a change of sex in the course of a life? I'm not sure about this.

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 Annapurna » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:17 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Piotr,

piotr wrote:Isn't it also connected to the idea that one's vows can be fulfilled only when one has the same sex as when was making a vow?


Maybe. One of the eight conditions for a vow made before a Buddha to be effective is that one must be a male human at the time of making it. Having made it and received a prediction, from then on there are eighteen states he can never fall into. One of these eighteen is to change one's sex, but does this mean the Bodhisatta can never be born female or that he will never undergo a change of sex in the course of a life? I'm not sure about this.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


One of the eight conditions for a vow made before a Buddha to be effective is that one must be a male human at the time of making it.


Huh?

Care to explain? Which vows? Why shouldn't a woman be able to make an effective vow?

This makes no sense to me.

Are there also racial restrictions,or are just women declared inadequate?


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Re: No record of Women Buddhas

Postby Will » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:09 pm

Have not read every post here, so apologies if this was mentioned.

Instead of arguing about Buddha's motives, whether he said what he said or it was tampered with, whether patriarchy rules etc.- why not just search the records for a female Buddha? There have been many buddhas before Gotama and there will be more. The next one will be male, as were all that came before, so far as I know of. The Jains (a non-theistic group) have a very long list of Tirthankaras - they were all male.

The Mahayana and Hinduism have very high avatars or bodhisattvas that are female - Tara & Parvati for example. But as far as Buddhas go, I am not aware of any females. (If one wants to add "yet" - feel free.)
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:15 pm

i think one of the jain Tirthankaras was female

19th Tirthankar, Malli Nath,

oh and it seems only one sect of jains believes it
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:17 pm

Annabel wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:Hi Piotr,

piotr wrote:Isn't it also connected to the idea that one's vows can be fulfilled only when one has the same sex as when was making a vow?


Maybe. One of the eight conditions for a vow made before a Buddha to be effective is that one must be a male human at the time of making it. Having made it and received a prediction, from then on there are eighteen states he can never fall into. One of these eighteen is to change one's sex, but does this mean the Bodhisatta can never be born female or that he will never undergo a change of sex in the course of a life? I'm not sure about this.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


One of the eight conditions for a vow made before a Buddha to be effective is that one must be a male human at the time of making it.


Huh?

Care to explain? Which vows? Why shouldn't a woman be able to make an effective vow?

This makes no sense to me.

Are there also racial restrictions,or are just women declared inadequate?


.


the vow to become a buddha, which must be made at the feet of a buddha

i doubt race would play a role as race is a pretty modern idea
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 Will » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:25 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:i think one of the jain Tirthankaras was female

19th Tirthankar, Malli Nath,

oh and it seems only one sect of jains believes it


I stand corrected JC - unless the Digambaras were right.

The nineteenth Tirthankara is the most interesting of all, for owing to deceitfulness in a previous life this saint was born as a woman; having, however, done all the twenty things that make an ascetic a Tirthankara, nothing could prevent his becoming one; but his previous deceitfulness resulted in his becoming a female Tirthankara. She was born in Mithila, where her parents, king Kumbera and Queen Prabhavati, ruled. Before her birth her mother longed to wear a garland (malli) woven of the flowers of all seasons. Mallinatha's symbol is a water-jar, and she also passed to moksa from Sameta Sikhara. The Digambaras, who deny that any woman can pass to moksa without rebirth as a man, deny of course that Mallinatha could have been a woman.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:54 am

Hi Annabel,

Annabel wrote:Care to explain? Which vows?


An effective vow to become a Sammāsambuddha.

Why shouldn't a woman be able to make an effective vow?

This makes no sense to me.

Are there also racial restrictions,


No.

or are just women declared inadequate?


Almost everybody is declared inadequate. In Theravāda teaching the vow can be made effectively only when there is a concurrence of eight conditions:

1. Manussatta: the human state. The resolve to become a Sammāsambuddha can be made only during a life in which one is a human being.
2. Liṅgasampatti: possession of the right sex. One must be a man, not a woman, a congenital eunuch, or a hermaphrodite.
3. Hetu: cause. Possessing the supporting conditions for attaining arahantship in that same life, if he were to exert himself towards this end.
4. Satthāradassana: the sight of the Teacher. This means an encounter with a Sammāsambuddha, as when Sumedha met the Buddha Dīpaṅkara and declared his resolve in his presence.
5. Pabbajjā: going forth into the homeless life. One must have left the household life and be an ascetic who holds to the doctrine of the efficacy of kamma, like the ascetic Sumedha when he made his resolve.
6. Guṇasampatti: attainment of special qualities. One must have attained special or distinctive qualities, beginning with the jhānas, like Sumedha, who had attained the five mundane higher knowledges (abhiññā) and the eight attainments (samāpatti) when he made his resolve before the Buddha Dīpaṅkara.
7. Adhikāra: extreme dedication. At the time of making one's resolve to become a Sammāsambuddha one must be prepared to sacrifice everything, even one's life.
5. Chandatā: strong desire. Having a strong desire to become a Sammāsambuddha, no matter how great the difficulties and obstacles one may encounter. For example, if he were told that to attain sammāsambodhi it would be necessary to tread his way across an entire world-system filled with flameless hot coals, or tread his way across an entire world-system whose ground was bespread with spears and sharp-pointed bamboo sticks, or wade across an entire world-system filled with water, or cut his way through an entire world-system choked with thorny bamboo plants, — he would reply: "I can do that."

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 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:12 am

Annabel: There is more to becoming a Buddha than even the vow. Study chapter one of http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Ledi/Uttama/uttama.html
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammakid » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:43 am

Bhante,
Yes, that exhaustive list is what I keep going back to as well. However...

I still can't help but point out one thing: If someone in our world system is to become a Sammasambuddha, then, according to the suttas, they will most definitely be a man. So pointing out that it's hard for anyone to attain it doesn't defeat the fact that women can't do it and men can. Obviously women and those concerned with women's equality will have a problem with this interpretation.

Furthermore, the status of Sammasambuddha-ship in all of world Buddhism further makes this an issue of concern. I mean, I could understand if becoming a teaching Buddha wasn't a big deal. But it is. And it's considered the utmost goal, especially in Mahayana. Even more reason to question it. And specifically for the Mahayana, women can't vow to save all beings - because they literally can't save all beings. They have to first hope to be reborn as a male and then make the vow.

C'mon people! Maybe excepting Element, how can anyone in this forum just take this for face value?

There might be an easy answer, but I have to ask this: how is this any different than the Christian viewpoint that women can't become priests or bishops?

But to respond to your response to my post earlier - yes, I am sorry I forgot about the idea that the commentators draw no parallels between kamma manifestation in sex and the inability of women to attain teaching Buddha status. I at least find that comforting. However, they didn't try to tackle this issue - why? I guess because it wasn't an issue at the time. But it is now, and so maybe monks an academics should spend more time on it.

Sure, this idea has no bearing on my actual practice. But it does have bearing on the propagation of the Dhamma to the world and to the discussion of the Dhamma with others. And so we shouldn't just dismiss it as useless. If we actually do want to become teaching Buddhas, then we most definitely won't be able to avoid this discussion. Best get it right when we can.

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Re: No record of Women Buddhas

Postby Dhammakid » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:46 am

Will wrote:Have not read every post here, so apologies if this was mentioned.

Instead of arguing about Buddha's motives, whether he said what he said or it was tampered with, whether patriarchy rules etc.- why not just search the records for a female Buddha? There have been many buddhas before Gotama and there will be more. The next one will be male, as were all that came before, so far as I know of. The Jains (a non-theistic group) have a very long list of Tirthankaras - they were all male.

The Mahayana and Hinduism have very high avatars or bodhisattvas that are female - Tara & Parvati for example. But as far as Buddhas go, I am not aware of any females. (If one wants to add "yet" - feel free.)


There might be an easy answer to this, but correct me if I'm wrong: the suttas and commentaries were compiled by men (except for the Verses of the Elder Nuns)...Is it possible sexist monks/scholars ignored female Sammasambuddhas?

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:09 am

Dhammakid wrote:If we actually do want to become teaching Buddhas, then we most definitely won't be able to avoid this discussion.

Whether we want to become teaching Buddhas or not is irrelevant as there is currently no teaching Buddha around to make a vow in front of. And by the time the next one arises who knows what gender we'll be?
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammakid » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:11 am

Peter wrote:
Dhammakid wrote:If we actually do want to become teaching Buddhas, then we most definitely won't be able to avoid this discussion.

Whether we want to become teaching Buddhas or not is irrelevant as there is currently no teaching Buddha around to make a vow in front of. And by the time the next one arises who knows what gender we'll be?


Yes, good point. But it still doesn't defeat the fact that women can't do it. By the time Maitreya comes around, I might be a woman, and then I'll most definitely have to deal with this discussion.

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:16 am

Dhammakid wrote:
Peter wrote:
Dhammakid wrote:If we actually do want to become teaching Buddhas, then we most definitely won't be able to avoid this discussion.
Whether we want to become teaching Buddhas or not is irrelevant as there is currently no teaching Buddha around to make a vow in front of. And by the time the next one arises who knows what gender we'll be?
Yes, good point. But it still doesn't defeat the fact that women can't do it. By the time Maitreya comes around, I might be a woman, and then I'll most definitely have to deal with this discussion.

By the time Maitreya comes around the existing teachings will have been long lost. So you won't even know of this discussion.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammakid » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:24 am

Peter wrote:By the time Maitreya comes around the existing teachings will have been long lost. So you won't even know of this discussion.


Sure, but I will eventually learn of this idea. Or are you thinking that maybe, as a female practitioner in a future life, I won't ever hear about this rule?

Why are we still trying to downplay this?

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:34 am

If we actually do want to become teaching Buddhas, then we most definitely won't be able to avoid this discussion.


We can aspire to be anything we want. Hopefully someone is guiding. If not, I would guess that anyone can ask the experienced practitioners or Venerables here about the good directions to take in one's practice.

Maybe a split thread about the nature of vows and aspirations in buddhism would be appealing to folks?

Best wishes,
Drolma
Last edited by Ngawang Drolma. on Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammakid » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:36 am

Drolma wrote:We can aspire to be anything we want. Hopefully someone is guiding. If not, I would guess that anyone can ask the experienced practitioners or Venerables here about the good directions to take in one's practice.

Maybe a split thread about the nature of vows and aspirations in buddhism would be appealing to folks?

Best wishes,
Drolma


I beat ya to it. viewtopic.php?f=13&t=474

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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:37 am

Dhammakid wrote:
Drolma wrote:We can aspire to be anything we want. Hopefully someone is guiding. If not, I would guess that anyone can ask the experienced practitioners or Venerables here about the good directions to take in one's practice.

Maybe a split thread about the nature of vows and aspirations in buddhism would be appealing to folks?

Best wishes,
Drolma


I beat ya to it. viewtopic.php?f=13&t=474

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You are way ahead of me! :toast:
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:42 am

Hi Dhammakid,

Dhammakid wrote:Why are we still trying to downplay this?


I downplay it because I think a preoccupation with it indicates a seriously misplaced sense of priorities and a lack of awareness of just how perilous our present lot is.

For example, did you know that according to the Suttas the great majority of humans will be reborn after death in the lower realms? Hardly any of us will even manage to be human beings in the next life, let alone Sammāsambuddhas billions of lives from now.

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 Ngawang Drolma. » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:44 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Dhammakid,

Dhammakid wrote:Why are we still trying to downplay this?


I downplay it because I think a preoccupation with it indicates a seriously misplaced sense of priorities and a lack of awareness of just how perilous our present lot is.

For example, did you know that according to the Suttas the great majority of humans will be reborn after death in the lower realms? Hardly any of us will even manage to be human beings in the next life, let alone Sammāsambuddhas billions of lives from now.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


Hi Venerable,

If we have taken sincere refuge (or formal refuge) in the triple gem are we automatically protected from falling into the lower realms?

Thank you,
Drolma
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