Women can't become Buddhas?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: No record of Women Buddhas

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:34 am

Dhammakid wrote:Bhante,
I don't appreciate the sarcasm at all, mostly because it's not even applicable. No one here in their right mind would speculate on the Buddhahood of animals. Completely unnecessary. Furthermore, I find it likely that at least a few monks could have been influenced by their biases, just as those in any other religion are, or any other social group or community or chess club or whatever. I'm an African American - the entire western world conspired against us. So your words are so poorly placed.:namaste:
Dhammakid

i didn't appreciate the scarasm either so thanks for saying so. But I didn't appreciate it because it didn't honor animals and was making fun of someone talking about women by using animals inappropriately.

As Peter mentioned, there is a legitimate discussion about the nature of "Buddhahood" regarding all beings in the entire universe including animals. I'm not suggesting that dogs "awaken" to become Buddhas, because it is difficult to say that dogs are deluded in the human sense. However, if one accepts the scheme of the Wheel of Life with six realms including hell, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, titans, and heavenly beings, then, to my knowledge it has always been theoretically possible for a being in any of the six realms to awaken to bodhi. It has only been limited to humans as a practical matter not as a dogmatic matter. Because of the distractions, heavenly beings are too attached to pleasures and hell beings too tormented to awaken. Because animals are considered too dull they are not prone to awakening. Being born a human is the best birth in terms of the balances between pleasure and pain, self-consciousness and samadhi, etc. But, again, at least theoretically animals could be awakened and realize nirvana, because any being can theoretically awaken from any where in the Wheel of Life.

One should also remember that the past lives of Gotama Buddha included animal lives in which his conscious bodhisattva acts led to his eventual awakening. So animals should never be denigrated as not being on the path to buddhahood.

There is a legitimate question about the issue of women's awakening. and it does include the question of the development of the Theravada canon and control of the early sangha by the patriarchal society of monks. However, is this the right forum to go into those issues?
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Re: No record of Women Buddhas

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:41 am

Greetings Gregory,

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:There is a legitimate question about the issue of women's awakening. and it does include the question of the development of the Theravada canon and control of the early sangha by the patriarchal society of monks. However, is this the right forum to go into those issues?

Right forum, yes. Right thread, depends on how tightly you can hold to the topic, remembering that despite the title, this isn't about whether women can be enlightened, but whether they can be Buddhas.

Actually, keeping that in mind, I'll change the subject heading now.

Metta,
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Re: No record of Women Buddhas

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:43 am

Dhammakid wrote:C'mon Peter. You know very well this isn't even close to what I meant. I know the koan, as I used to practice Zen, and the koan is speaking to Buddha-nature, not Buddha-hood; the ability to become a Buddha in the future, not the current status of a Buddha. Animals can't be Buddhas, and everyone here knows that. So, as I said before, no one here in their right mind would speculate on the Buddhahood of animals, thus making Bhante's comments unnecessary.

:namaste:
Dhammakid

Okay, so say that I'm not in my "right" mind. How would you know whether or not an animal has the current status of a Buddha? Do you speak elephant? Do you speak lion? Do you speak parrot? Unless you are asserting that you speak animal languages how can you say whether or not the animal has awakened to Buddhahood and is not living out the remainder of his or her life until parinirvana just like Siddathartha Gotama did? Certainly you don't expect that an animal realizing Buddhahood would all of a sudden begin speaking human languages. Or do you?

_/|\_
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Re: No record of Women Buddhas

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:47 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Gregory,

this isn't about whether women can be enlightened, but whether they can be Buddhas.
Metta,
Retro. :)

Okay, this is an interesting question. From the Theravada view, what then is the difference between being enlightened and being a Buddha? What is the basis that a woman can be enligtened but not be a Buddha?

_/|\_
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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:57 am

we've already gone over that ,several times i think, in this thread.

the way we mean buddha here, is someone who ,on their own, in a time when the dhamma doesnt exist, awakens and starts a dispensation, such as siddhartha
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 Heavenstorm » Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:31 am

Dhammakid wrote: 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.


That is quite wrong. In Mahayana, its pretty common for female devotees to take the Bodhisattva vows. One can spot that in certain events conducted in temples at special festivals.


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.


I think many people in this thread seem to ignore the following requirement for Bodhisattva:

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.


Basically, in Theravada, without the Buddha, one can't take the vow. Gender equality is a fairly modern development and I speculate that Buddhas only appear at times where males authority in the society will be predominant but at the same times, it is also where right conditions for achieving and teaching Dharma could be found. Don't ask me how and those two seem to go in hand in hand. I never read any stories in sutta to suggest that Buddha appears in a society where the equality of sexes as held strongly as per now.

As proven that its only in the Dharma ending times like now, female power will rise and surpass the guys. By that time, Buddha is no longer around..............
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:31 pm

Dhammakid wrote:But for some reason, I'm getting the vibe that in-depth discussion on the status of females in Sammasambuddha-hood is being nixed.

There's nothing much to discuss. Bhante Dhammanando provided all that the scriptures say about it - and that wasn't much. There is no why, there is no detailed description. Since there is no actual information, the discussion has moved from "What is the teaching?" to "How do we feel about this teaching?" The bulk of the thread has been taken up with people complaining that it isn't fair, that it's sexist, that it's the result of scriptural tampering... all speculation, all expressions of our own inner defilements. There's no evidence of sexism or scriptural tampering so it is merely an assumption we can make or not make. The point some of us are trying to get across is that making those assumption is not skillful, is not helpful to one's practice.

It's not that discussion is being nixed. It is that the discussion has not been about the teaching for a few pages; it has been about how we feel about the teaching.

I am being told to downplay it because it has no pertinence to my everyday practice. But neither does a lot of stuff we talk about on here. And those discussions are never discouraged.

A discussion that's merely a waste of time does less harm than this discussion which has been focused on cultivating doubt in the Buddha (he was sexist), the Dhamma (it is flawed or changed), and the Sangha (they were sexist or corrupt). Cultivating doubt in the Triple Gem in oneself and in others is not conducive to practice.

no one has offered an explanation of why.

The Buddha didn't explain why. So what do you expect from us? How could we explain something the Buddha himself didn't explain?
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:48 pm

Peter wrote:
Dhammakid wrote:But for some reason, I'm getting the vibe that in-depth discussion on the status of females in Sammasambuddha-hood is being nixed.

There's nothing to discuss. Bhante Dhammanando provided all that the scriptures say about it - and that wasn't much. There is no why, there is no detailed description. Since there is no actual information, the discussion has moved from "What is the teaching?" to "How do we feel about this teaching?" The bulk of the thread has been taken up with people complaining that it isn't fair, that it's sexist, that it's the result of scriptural tampering... all speculation, all expressions of our own inner defilements. There's no evidence of sexism or scriptural tampering so it is merely an assumption we can make or not make. The point some of us are trying to get across is that making those assumption is not skillful, is not helpful to one's practice.

It's not that discussion is being nixed. It is that the discussion has not been about the teaching for a few pages; it has been about how we feel about the teaching.

I am being told to downplay it because it has no pertinence to my everyday practice. But neither does a lot of stuff we talk about on here. And those discussions are never discouraged.

A discussion that's merely a waste of time does less harm than this discussion which has been focused on cultivating doubt in the Buddha (he was sexist), the Dhamma (it is flawed or changed), and the Sangha (they were sexist or corrupt). Cultivating doubt in oneself and in others is not conducive to practice.

no one has offered an explanation of why.

The Buddha didn't explain why. So what do you expect from us? How could we explain something the Buddha himself didn't explain?


The bulk of the thread has been taken up with people complaining that it isn't fair, that it's sexist, that it's the result of scriptural tampering... all speculation, all expressions of our own inner defilements.


No no no .

I disagree with the argumentation that questions about possible sexism are a defilement.

Accepting sexism would be a defilement in most parts of our modern world, even illegal, albeit it was the norm in earlier and in Buddhas times.

Since we live today, where such issues evoke critical thoughts, because we are not used to such notions anymore it is proper to ask, and proper to dig deeper.

Your fear that it may cause doubt in the teachings is your problem, I haven't even thought of doubt YET:

Btw, fear is a defilement. Let go of it....

But not by stifling a discussion, by declaring it's a waste of time.

It is far more dangerous to stifle conversation than to allow it, because stifling it is counterproductive.

If you don't want to discuss it, we do.
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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby Heavenstorm » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:54 pm

Besides, gender equality is a rare occurrence. Rarely are females being treated as equal in the history of humans, even in many countries today, notable outside the West, women are clearly not viewed or treated as equal and its doubtful such practices will sustain in the future if mankind returns to stone age technology.

Since its a rare event, Its understandable why Buddha was not willing to elaborate on the issue. In His times, those ideas would have been unthinkable for the society at large.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:58 pm

Heavenstorm wrote:..... Buddhas only appear at times where males authority in the society will be predominant


= when the dhamma is lost completely.

Thank you.
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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby Heavenstorm » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:07 pm

Thats my speculation until you can give us an example of a Buddha being born in the times where female is held to be greater than or equal to their male counterpart. Your rhetoric is simply useless.

when the dhamma is lost completely


Not really, given that Buddha treated female much better than any other religions that existed in His times.
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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:13 pm

Heavenstorm wrote:Thats my speculation until you can give us an example of a Buddha being born in the times where female is held to be greater than or equal to their male counterpart. Your rhetoric is simply useless.

when the dhamma is lost completely


Not really, given that Buddha treated female much better than any other religions that existed in His times.


Your rhetoric is simply useless.


Are you talking to me...? :shock:
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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby Heavenstorm » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:19 pm

I misread, sorry.........
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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby Annapurna » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:42 pm

No problem. :smile:

(A Sammasambuddha appears....) when the dhamma is lost completely.


That is what the teachings say, do you agree ?

So, If this is agreed, and we also know that the Buddha appeared in a time where the dhamma was lost completely, and we also see that a symptom of those times was the suppression and exploitation of women, then we see that one of the symptoms of the times without dhamma is, that 1/2 of humankind suppresses the other, which is not a dhammic teaching:

201. Victory begets enmity; the defeated dwell in pain. Happily the peaceful live, discarding both victory and defeat.

Do we agree on this?

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Re: the attached cannot be enlightened

Postby Will » Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:30 pm

Dhammakid wrote:
Will wrote:Consider looking at this subject a little differently. There are so many skillful & unskillful actions. The former group lead toward virtue; the latter toward vice. We also have dozens of innate tendencies & qualities of mind & feeling. Sex is just one factor among all these others.

One cannot become a buddha with hatred toward beings dominating one. One cannot become a buddha with attachment to beautiful sunsets. The list is long.

So why this kerfuffle over sex? Is it because we are powerfully identified with not only ego, but our ego's sex? Yes indeed. There is also a strong era bonding, if I may call it such. During this "progressive" time everything that is better must be identified with, because I live now and here.

Place bonding, era bonding, sex bonding, ego bonding are major obstacles to any form of bodhi, never mind buddhahood.

In addition we are not always born males, nor always females.

Equanimity toward this subject would be beneficial.


Sure. But you've stated things we have already discussed.

And providing a reason - a why - for this belief to hold true would also be beneficial, just as we do with everything else in Buddhism.

Since it seems unlikely a why will be given, I'm going to back out gracefully.

Goodnight...or morning. Whichever applies.

:namaste:
Dhammakid


Sounds like you want a satisfying reason Kid. Even Buddha did not supply that, because you have to supply the satisfaction. And if I recall rightly, Buddha taught there is no satisfaction.

The Dhamma gives reasons, causes - the how of things. Purpose is in the mind of the beholder.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Jechbi » Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:51 pm

Annabel wrote:
Heavenstorm wrote:..... Buddhas only appear at times where males authority in the society will be predominant


= when the dhamma is lost completely.

Thank you.

:goodpost:

Personally I don't see any problem with continuing to discuss this. As long as people have a realistic expectation of what's going on here. We're probably not going to find an explanation that will satisfy anyone. Meanwhile, we're stirring up emotions, and that's going to cause some to feel upset. Whether that's justified or not, I think we have to expect it will happen. I suggest we give each other space for that.

For my part, I don't believe Ven. Dhammanando intended any sarcasm whatever, and I feel his comparisons were apt if one reads them without inserting baggage that is not really there.

Also, I think the question needs to be framed: "Why can't Buddha be a woman," rather than "Why can't a woman become a Buddha." It's a subtle difference. Again, nobody here has questioned the ability of women, nobody here has said women are less capable than men in any way.

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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:02 pm

Moderator note:

Please keep conversation to the point of the thread. Please keep conversation to the ideas raised when responding to others. Responses that address supposed motivations and personal qualities that the others supposedly may have or lack address neither the topic subject nor ideas raised by the other to whom such personal comments are addressed. Such ad hominem comments, which add an unnecessary negative tone to the conversation, will require, unfortunately, a moderator response, deletion.
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel » Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:29 am

Heavenstorm wrote:Basically, in Theravada, without the Buddha, one can't take the vow. Gender equality is a fairly modern development and I speculate that Buddhas only appear at times where males authority in the society will be predominant but at the same times, it is also where right conditions for achieving and teaching Dharma could be found. Don't ask me how and those two seem to go in hand in hand. I never read any stories in sutta to suggest that Buddha appears in a society where the equality of sexes as held strongly as per now.

As proven that its only in the Dharma ending times like now, female power will rise and surpass the guys. By that time, Buddha is no longer around..............

What I get from this discussion thread is that the Theravada framing of a worldview is too constricting for me.

The idea that because it was said in one or two places of ancient oral traditions written down several hundreds of years later that a Buddha is a man, therefore no Buddha can be a woman, as if the pariarchial worldview of India in 500 BC is the inherent worldview of the cosmos is just too silly for me.

Also the literalization of a the Buddhist version of the "end times" of a Dharma ending age appears to be a mythological comfort blanket. Anyone who thinks that today there is less Dharma present in the world compared to 500 or 1000 years ago seems to be living in a fantasy world to me. Today the Dharma is flowing around the awareness of the entire planet and is certainly not "ending."

I guess the great attraction of the Mahayana and EKayana for me is that these Dharmas and dharmas are not taken literally. The images and myths of Buddhism are to be taken as the means to talk to people at different levels of development of consciousness, and not to be taken literally as actual dogmatic statements about the structure of reality.

The idea that female equality is somehow tied to the Dharma ending age and the ending of Buddha teaching in the world is to me ignorant and superstitious and just the rationalization of male Buddhists who want to keep their power and control over women and use theor rationalizations of the Suttas to keep their power. It is no better than the Catholic church using the Bible to rationalize their patriarchial power over society.


_/|\_
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Re: Women can't be enlightened?

Postby pink_trike » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:07 am

Peter wrote: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.


I don't get this. Could you be more specific? It seems to me it would be the opposite...but I often see things backwards.
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Re: Women can't become Buddhas?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:10 am

The idea that because it was said in one or two places of ancient oral traditions written down several hundreds of years later that a Buddha is a man, therefore no Buddha can be a woman, as if the pariarchial worldview of India in 500 BC is the inherent worldview of the cosmos is just too silly for me.



I guess the great attraction of the Mahayana and EKayana for me is that these Dharmas and dharmas are not taken literally. The images and myths of Buddhism are to be taken as the means to talk to people at different levels of development of consciousness, and not to be taken literally as actual dogmatic statements about the structure of reality.


You may not take “Dharmas and dharmas” literally, but I have seen plenty of Mahayanists that do, vehemently. Equally, I know of plenty of Theravadins who understand ”The images and myths of Buddhism are to be taken as the means to talk to people at different levels of development of consciousness, and not to be taken literally as actual dogmatic statements about the structure of reality.”
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