helgaferae

Women in Eastern Tradition (taboo)

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Women are not considered as a complete entity in Buddhism. Their body is not considered fit to attain enlightenment and become Buddha. There is a concept that women are not complete until they attain enlightenment to become reborn as a man.

Discussion welcome. 

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Always nice to see some source for such a claim. Also there are many forms of Buddhism, so what form of Buddhism do you claim considers women as incomplete entities? And if they do what arguments (if any) are given for that?

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Yes, ime Eastern tradition is unhelpful for women. Confucius did not even count a woman in the room as there being a human in the room. In writings about yin/yang,  I often see women equated with negativity, evil, coldness and darkness. Historically things happened like: female-feet-mutilation, the discarding of female children, widows encouraged to kill themselves. 

 

@helgaferae¬†őēőĮŌÉőĪőĻ őąőĽőĽő∑őĹőĪŌā;

 

 

Edited by Cobie
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I found:

 

‚ÄúWomen, with their two-fingered wisdom [i.e. stupid], have a difficult time [understanding what I teach].‚ÄĚ ‚ÄstGautama Buddha, SaŠĻÉyutta NikńĀya 4
 
‚ÄúIt cannot happen that a woman may become a TathńĀgata, a Sammsambuddha.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄstGautama Buddha, AŠĻÖguttara NikńĀya 3.14
 
 
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I read Women In Buddhism by Diana Paul some thirty or so years ago and was appalled by what it said, here is the short summary from the University of California website, which originally published it back in 1985:

 

Quote

"In seeking to explore the interrelationships between, and mutual influence of, varieties of sexual stereotypes and religious views of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, Women in Buddhism succeeds in drawing our attention to matters of philosophical importance. Paul examines the 'image' of women which arise in a number of Buddhist texts associated with Mahayana and finds that, while ideally the tradition purports to be egalitarian, in actual practice it often betrayed a strong misogynist prejudice. Sanskrit and Chinese texts are organized by theme and type, progressing from those which treat the traditionally orthodox and negative to those which set forth a positive consideration of soteriological paths for women. . . . In Women in Buddhism, Diana Paul may be forcing our consideration of the problem of female enlightenment. Thus the main purport and accomplishment of her scholarship is revolutionary."‚ÄĒPhilosophy East and West

 

As a man, who even as a teenager back in the late Sixties understood the deleterious effects of misogynist ideas and attitudes in society, I was, as I said above, pretty appalled by this book about a religious tradition for which I had previously had much respect.  When I compare it to the Platonism, which basically advocated a relationship of equality between men and women, documented in Plato's Republic for almost 2500 years, I can only wonder what kind of enlightenment one gets from Buddhism.  Daoism also has had issues, but Confucianism, about which I have read more than most Dao Bums, seems to have had a more complex attitude, which I don't have time to address here, but I don't think many aspects of misogyny in the far East can be fairly blamed on it, but rather on the preexisting patriarchal social structure, which regrettably seems to have been and still be, a worldwide problem in both East and West.  I have Posted on Plato's attitude to women in my thread Plato and Platonism 101.

 

Zhongyongdaoist

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4 hours ago, Bindi said:

‚ÄúIt cannot happen that a woman may become a TathńĀgata, a Sammsambuddha.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄstGautama Buddha, AŠĻÖguttara NikńĀya 3.14

wrong attribution. there is no such passage in¬†AŠĻÖguttara NikńĀya 3.14

https://suttacentral.net/an3.14/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin

 

the passage comes from Majjhima Nikaya, the Discourse on Many Element (115)

https://suttacentral.net/mn115/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin

 

Quote

They understand: ‚ÄėIt‚Äôs impossible for a woman to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.¬†But it is possible for a man to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.‚Äô¬†They understand: ‚ÄėIt‚Äôs impossible for a woman to be a wheel-turning monarch.¬†But it is possible for a man to be a wheel-turning monarch.‚Äô¬†They understand: ‚ÄėIt‚Äôs impossible for a woman to perform the role of Sakka, MńĀra, or BrahmńĀ.¬†But it is possible for a man to perform the role of Sakka, MńĀra, or BrahmńĀ.‚Äô

 

 As par for the course a popular opinion is a direct opposite of the tradition. There is absolutely no female discrimination in budddhism. It is a ridiculously ignorant myth that there is.

 

This passage states that a spontaneously originating Buddha manifests himself as a male. (Similarly to the universe creating god Brahma or the  universe destroying demon Mara)

 

It absolutely does not mean that a woman cannot become a buddha.

 

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn05/sn05.002.olen.html

 

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17 hours ago, Zhongyongdaoist said:

I read Women In Buddhism by Diana Paul

Contemplating reading this... "Buddhist literature implies that woman is biologically determined to be sexually uncontrollable...the `eternal feminine' as temptress & seductress is a common element in religious thought,"

Edited by helgaferae

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I have tried to read the article but as far as I got it was all about Buddhism as an organized religion, and thus as a (historical) social phenomenon. It doesn't surprise me that women were historically discriminated against in Buddhism as an organized religion as that happened a lot in the society at large in the old days, and even today. I don't like joining an organized religion anyway as I'm old enough to make up my own mind on things. In western Buddhism as a philosophy I haven't seen any discrimination against women, but maybe I haven't looked hard enough...

Edited by wandelaar

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My understanding is "Buddhist" texts were first written down ~hundreds of yrs after the Buddha actually taught, so it's quite possible that much was lost in interpretation/mixed with cultural norms that had nothing to do with what was actually taught over a dozen plus generations of oral transmission.

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One reason taoism resonated with me from the get-go while the rest of the world's institutionalized "paths" seemed belonging to the genre of patriarchy-approved fantasy self.

 

Despite all the fossilized patriarchal crap many of its schools picked up along the way and incorporated on misogynistic autopilot, taoism remains the only "path" with a physiologically sound premise -- the Great Mother. 

 

In alchemical taoist cultivation (barring all the aforementioned crap) a man is often expected to start out by creating a virtual womb and conceiving, and giving birth to, an "immortal fetus" -- a rather challenging sine qua non for someone with zero real-life experience.  A woman who has a non-virtual womb and has, historically in the vast majority of cases, conceived, nourished and given birth to the actual fetus is halfway there already, by virtue of embodying the prerequisites ziran.  Though social conditions are a great equalizer -- a woman has a much harder time moving on from the prerequisites to the actualization.  She's busy with the daily process of creating the world...  often terminally busy, spending all her qi till nothing is left for her own advancement.  It's no surprise that of the Eight Immortals, only one was a woman -- who had to be a virgin to focus on her cultivation properly or else she would have been too busy with family chores.          

 

Edited by Taomeow
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Of course men historically didn't have any chores of their own outside of family life, and thus could invest most of their time and chi in their own cultivation. :blink:

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16 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

Of course men historically didn't have any chores of their own outside of family life, and thus could invest most of their time and chi in their own cultivation. :blink:

 

Yeah, historically...  all that history of billions of abandoned single dads struggling to raise their children on their own...  of sons left penniless and powerless because the daughter had to inherit it all...  of husbands cooking three times a day every day and cleaning nonstop so their wives and children could flow through their own far more important and lucrative work without the bother...  of fathers always busy tending to their family's emotional needs, wiping tears and asses, spending countless sleepless nights giving medicine and comfort to the sick...  of bosses eagerly and preferentially advancing the careers of women who they knew would never inconvenience them with distractions like pregnancies and childbirths and troubleshooting at home because their husbands will surely take care of all that job-irrelevant nonsense...  Tell me where I can read up on that historical injustice.  Because what I observe in real life doesn't quite compute into that (in)equation.    

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Women have had to endure millennia of male ignorance, misogyny, patriarchy, and abuse in so many cultures around the world. The regions that birthed and embraced Buddhism are no exception. As I've said elsewhere and has been mentioned in this thread, teachings of Gautama were not written down until about five centuries after his death. While it is possible that he preached such garbage as women being incomplete, somehow inferior, and incapable of enlightenment; I personally would attribute such ignorance to the prevailing ignorance and misogyny of the times, the responsibilities and limited opportunities for women, and so forth, rather than to Buddhism per se. That said, it is certainly true that Buddhism as an institution has been agonizingly slow to recognize and acknowledge equality for women in its ranks. While there are stories of female masters dating back millennia in Tibetan Bön and Buddhism, women were not permitted to study for the geshe/geshema degree (esentially the Western equivalent of a PhD in Buddhism) until the 21st century with the first graduating Buddhist geshema class being in 2016 and the first graduating Bön geshema class in 2018. At least things are changing..... finally!

 

There is precedence for enlightened female masters in the Bön tradition dating back many centuries although they certainly are in the minority. There are also many beloved and powerful female deities and khandros holding a central role in Tibetan Bön and Buddhist teachings. One of the four major dzogchen lineages in Bön is called Yetri Thasel. This teaching was passed down by the master Drenpa Namkha (male) but transmits teachings of a female lineage of masters. Here is a wonderful book transmitting the herstories (see what I did there?) and pith instructions of 30 female lineage holders and enlightened masters in the Bön dzogchen tradition:

 

https://ligmincha.org/product/the-heart-essence-of-the-khandro-experiential-instructions-on-bonpo-dzogchen/

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Thanks steve! Much better to get the topic back on track by providing some useful information, than for me to engage in a developing shouting match with Taomeow. I should have known better. 

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Just a quick point: Enlightened beings do not have genders. This is not to say that they belong to some other popular contemporary category, but rather to say that Buddhas, like all things you might consider having intrinsic existence, are ultimately "empty" in the absolute understanding. A Buddha sees that ALL conceptual categories are arbitrary and dream-like, having no substantial reality. Buddhas and the fabric of reality in this moment are identity-free, indistinguishable, and seamlessly unified. 

 

It is not the Buddha himself that would have had these sorts of biases, but rather cultures that reified his teachings and turned them into systems or processes of enlightenment. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, stirling said:

It is not the Buddha himself that would have had these sorts of biases

One would certainly hope this to be the case...and yet it may not have been so. Oh - to have been a fly on the wall in the mind of the Buddha! 

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1 hour ago, wandelaar said:

Thanks steve! Much better to get the topic back on track by providing some useful information, than for me to engage in a developing shouting match with Taomeow. I should have known better. 

 

Classy!  Talking about a present party to the conversation to a third party as though she's an irrelevance to the disagreement you started (and possibly planned to escalate into a shouting match...  the party to the conversation you casually brushed aside wasn't planning on any shouting, I can vouch for that.)  That'll surely put her in her place.  

 

 

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12 minutes ago, helgaferae said:

One would certainly hope this to be the case...and yet it may not have been so. Oh - to have been a fly on the wall in the mind of the Buddha! 

 

It is the case for ANY enlightened "being" then or now. :)

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30 minutes ago, helgaferae said:

Oh - to have been a fly on the wall in the mind of the Buddha! 

 

I love this, each and every one of us is a "fly on the wall in the mind of the Buddha."

I find that to be a wonderful metaphor for the dichotomy of samsara and nirvana.

:D

 

 

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8 hours ago, steve said:

Women have had to endure millennia of male ignorance, misogyny, patriarchy, and abuse in so many cultures around the world. The regions that birthed and embraced Buddhism are no exception. As I've said elsewhere and has been mentioned in this thread, teachings of Gautama were not written down until about five centuries after his death. While it is possible that he preached such garbage as women being incomplete, somehow inferior, and incapable of enlightenment; I personally would attribute such ignorance to the prevailing ignorance and misogyny of the times, the responsibilities and limited opportunities for women, and so forth, rather than to Buddhism per se.

 

I think these grand masters had ways to ensure their core teaching are intact very the ages.  Otherwise whatever they preach would be unreliable.

 

And it was not easy to write something in the old days.  Paper and pen were not easily available.  So any writer would take great care when the wrote something.

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