Mahayana sutras and woman

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Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby zamotcr » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:31 am

Hello community, I'm kinda new to Mahayana Buddhism but I'm worried about some topics, because I don´t know how to interpret it.

I want to know how is the position of women in Mahayana. Lotus Sutra said that a woman have to transform into a man to become a Buddha. This kind of stuff disappoint me, I always believed that both women and men have full potentialities to become a Buddha. Another one is the vow 35 of Amitabha, I don’t know how to take it. Some masters says that a women after die will rebirth as a men Western Paradise. The Master Sheng Yen said that woman can’t be a Buddha. I think Vimalakirti Sutra says something else as a contraposition.

I don’t know how to take this. There seems to be a lot of Sutras, some saying a thing, others saying another. Which one should I take? It is hard to make a conclusion about all of this.
Hope you can guide me to clear all of this mess.

Sadhu! :anjali:
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:54 am

My advice is, always start with clear present awareness of your current state of being. Learn to be patient enough to sit in meditation consistently for some time. Then be aware of how your mind works, what the issues are in life, means of livelihood, relationships, and all of those things. That is the most important aspect, in my view.

As for interpretation of sutras, that is also a good thing to study, but the approach I would take is to do a lot of reading, understand a bit about the history of the development of Mahayana, the social context in which these scriptures were spoken, and so on.

I think if you put questions of gender identity and 'sexual politics' first, you won't really see the point of any of it.

That would be my advice.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Jnana » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:09 am

zamotcr wrote:I want to know how is the position of women in Mahayana. Lotus Sutra said that a woman have to transform into a man to become a Buddha. This kind of stuff disappoint me, I always believed that both women and men have full potentialities to become a Buddha. Another one is the vow 35 of Amitabha, I don’t know how to take it. Some masters says that a women after die will rebirth as a men Western Paradise. The Master Sheng Yen said that woman can’t be a Buddha. I think Vimalakirti Sutra says something else as a contraposition.

The mainstream view that was widespread in India during approx. the first 1000 years after the Buddha's parinirvāṇa (and not just confined to the Mahāyāna sūtras) was that to become a buddha one has to basically follow a similar history to that of Śākyamuni, which includes taking birth as a man prior to full awakening. Later, with the advent of the Vajrayāna this situation seems to have changed to be more inclusive.
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Huifeng » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:21 am

Jnana wrote:
zamotcr wrote:I want to know how is the position of women in Mahayana. Lotus Sutra said that a woman have to transform into a man to become a Buddha. This kind of stuff disappoint me, I always believed that both women and men have full potentialities to become a Buddha. Another one is the vow 35 of Amitabha, I don’t know how to take it. Some masters says that a women after die will rebirth as a men Western Paradise. The Master Sheng Yen said that woman can’t be a Buddha. I think Vimalakirti Sutra says something else as a contraposition.

The mainstream view that was widespread in India during approx. the first 1000 years after the Buddha's parinirvāṇa (and not just confined to the Mahāyāna sūtras) was that to become a buddha one has to basically follow a similar history to that of Śākyamuni, which includes taking birth as a man prior to full awakening. Later, with the advent of the Vajrayāna this situation seems to have changed to be more inclusive.


Not to mention that of the very definition of what a "buddha" was, apart from the internal aspects of wisdom and compassion, externally the physical form included a list of 32 physical features, of which at least one is explicitly masculine and others implicitly so.

The later Mahayana tradition tended to shy away from these external features, and move in the direction of defining a "buddha" in entirely internal if not more abstract terms. This opened the possibility of transcending the narrow definition of a "buddha" being necessarily masculine.

Note too, that while pre-Mahayana Buddhism was largely in a sramana religious culture which was generally fairly open to feminine religious practice, after Asoka the dominance of brahmanism as the de facto social norm of most of the Indian sub-continent prevailed, and with it the subjugation of women in religion. It was during this period that mahayana development.

Skipping to the modern period, many wish to show how Buddhism is open to gender equality. For various reasons, they may overstate or understate the situation. Modern interpretations that are quite different from mere literal readings of classical texts are not uncommon, but this is a living tradition, after all.

So, there are a number of factors on both sides, at least. The above are just a couple of points to consider, but historical reality is usually fair more complex.

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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:29 am

Padmashambhava said this in "THe pointing-out instruction to the Old Lady" in Treasures from Juniper Ridge

"First of all, the basic material of buddhahoos is within you. In particular, it is in human beings who have obtained the freedoms and riches. Morever, it is not such that the basic material for buddhahood is abundant in men and deficient in women. Thus, even though you have taken rebirth as a woman, you are not prevented from attaining buddhahood.


However, he did say something about women in "Instruction for Women on Attaining Enlightenment Without Abandoning Daily Activities" in Treasures from Juniper Ridge:
... Nevertheless, simple women like you have little fortitude. Having physical enemies, you cannot practice the Dharma but are forced into marriage. Your bad karma involves you in countless task, so you never think of the Dharma. Very few women succeed in Dharma practice, so embolden yourself with perseverance...


If you really honest and look carefully, generally woman is more emotional than a man. I don't know why, but this is the fact that I have seen in my life. This is also described in the book "Men from Mars, Women from Venus".

I actually read somewhere that it has something to do with the energy flow. Energy flow in the woman is slightly different with man.

Buddhist widom is very difficult to be penetrated with emotions. We need clear mind which is unaffected by emotions.

Dealing with error views itself is already very difficult.
Can you imagine if we need to deal error views + emotions, it becomes more more difficult.

Unfortunately, in past life and in the modern life within certain cultures, women have less freedom than a man. They have more works to do, that make them having less time to contemplate. It really makes things difficult for them.

Please don't misunderstand, it is not woman cannot become a buddha, but it is more difficult for a woman to become a buddha.
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I do not exist neither non-exist.
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Virgo » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:12 am

Women are just as capable of attaining Buddhahood as men are. Have no fear.

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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Virgo » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:19 am

DarwidHalim wrote:Buddhist widom is very difficult to be penetrated with emotions. We need clear mind which is unaffected by emotions.

Dealing with error views itself is already very difficult.
Can you imagine if we need to deal error views + emotions, it becomes more more difficult.


Please don't misunderstand, it is not woman cannot become a buddha, but it is more difficult for a woman to become a buddha.

I am sorry but this is the biggest bullshit I have ever heard. I have met a number of women who are realized.

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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Ogyen » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:23 am

DarwidHalim wrote:Padmashambhava said this in "THe pointing-out instruction to the Old Lady" in Treasures from Juniper Ridge

"First of all, the basic material of buddhahoos is within you. In particular, it is in human beings who have obtained the freedoms and riches. Morever, it is not such that the basic material for buddhahood is abundant in men and deficient in women. Thus, even though you have taken rebirth as a woman, you are not prevented from attaining buddhahood.


However, he did say something about women in "Instruction for Women on Attaining Enlightenment Without Abandoning Daily Activities" in Treasures from Juniper Ridge:
... Nevertheless, simple women like you have little fortitude. Having physical enemies, you cannot practice the Dharma but are forced into marriage. Your bad karma involves you in countless task, so you never think of the Dharma. Very few women succeed in Dharma practice, so embolden yourself with perseverance...


If you really honest and look carefully, generally woman is more emotional than a man. I don't know why, but this is the fact that I have seen in my life. This is also described in the book "Men from Mars, Women from Venus".

I actually read somewhere that it has something to do with the energy flow. Energy flow in the woman is slightly different with man.

Buddhist widom is very difficult to be penetrated with emotions. We need clear mind which is unaffected by emotions.

Dealing with error views itself is already very difficult.
Can you imagine if we need to deal error views + emotions, it becomes more more difficult.

Unfortunately, in past life and in the modern life within certain cultures, women have less freedom than a man. They have more works to do, that make them having less time to contemplate. It really makes things difficult for them.

Please don't misunderstand, it is not woman cannot become a buddha, but it is more difficult for a woman to become a buddha.



:jawdrop:
Speaking of errors in view... Where did you get yours?? You have evident bias towards female and have bought into some serious delusion or don't actually understand the context of that quoted passage. Many cultures define their male/female roles in specific ways, but it does not speak to either the male or female capability of realizing emptiness. Cultural and social conditioning have nothing to do with practice or Buddhahood. There are buddhas and women who have vowed to take their final rebirth in female form - Tara is one of them. To be woman is to be put against the grind of trial every day for everything you are and aren't worth just because of what's between your legs. It makes for great Buddhist practice. More men should vow to take rebirth as women. Unity means not one-sided. The unity of life is non-dual.

That women are 'more emotional' or 'less logical' is a myth. Women are conditioned in different ways from birth in how to express themselves-their focus is to harmonize with their environment-they are conditioned to see the world through the relationships between objects. Men are just as emotional, they are simply conditioned to view the world through object-oriented ways. Their focus is geared towards social dominance, if and when they're allowed to have an emotionality acknowledged at all by their own culture. It's a question of what priorities of that culture-type shapes in terms of its social norms of what is 'male' and what is 'female.'

This fact you've observed is your own creation. It is not a fact, it is a misperception, you are imputing cause to the object of 'emotional' to the being "woman" and not to the actual context of conditions within which woman operates. By the same token one could say, it is a fact men are more violent and rape, I don't know why, but it is fact. I call bullsh*t. It is a broad and gross generalization that shows your lack of understanding of women or men, but primarily, it demonstrates a lack of understanding of yourself.

In cultures where female is negative or weak, the repression in men's own 'inner feminine' can render the experience of their natural emotions more unstable, leading to all kinds of misdirected behaviors. IF anything, men who are given less tools to manage vulnerability because of a conditioning that habitually diminishes the qualities that would make them 'less of a man' can make men more 'emotional' when they feel those things that will expose them as 'lesser men.' You need tools to stay grounded. It is a male misunderstanding that vulnerability equals weakness.

For what Guru Rinpoche says in that second quote - Women have had physical enemies for a long time, it's called subjugation, so of course obtaining the means of realization is politically stifled for them. Marriage is a form of social protection for a woman in those environments, but with it come a lot of duties that can prevent a woman from meditating all day and having their laundry done for them. They have people to serve outside of themselves. We live in a world where the dominant perception is effectively male superiority towards the female gender. But if you are really honest with yourself, woman is the bearer of life. Men simply forget that they were loved unconditionally first by a woman - their mother.

Women and men are equally capable of reaching Buddhahood. In practice, women have to persevere harder to get any form of respect from men in this world, that of Buddhism is no exception. In truth, women have no greater obstacle to realization itself, they just have greater obstacles in men. Realization is between you and your nature, no one else has the ability to stop it but you. Man or woman.
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:52 am

Padmashambava said "very few woman succeed in dharma practice".

He didnt say you can't achieve buddhahood. He said between man and woman they are no difference in terms of potentiality. But at the same time, he also said only few women succeed.

Why? Only you yourself know why.

It is good if you believe you can, because we need that spirit to become Buddha.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Simon E. » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:20 am

Context please ?
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby underthetree » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:33 am

Male.

Female.

Clinging.
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby zamotcr » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:36 am

What I can conclude studying this is that men and women are the same and have the same potentialities, both are empty, as Vimalakirti teach us. This issues like men are superior and that I think is just a cultural influence, as all of us know, sutras were written by human monks, so maybe.

But this is how I can interpret it right now, I don't know if I am correct or if there is another explanation.

How do we have to take this male chauvinistic sutras? Should we have to interpret it "globally" with other sutras like Vimalakirti or similar, with all the doctrines of emptyness?
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:39 am

zamotcr wrote:Lotus Sutra said that a woman have to transform into a man to become a Buddha.
Tara and Padmasambhava disagree.

zamotcr wrote:Another one is the vow 35 of Amitabha, I don’t know how to take it.
If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my Name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for the Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

http://venchinkung.com/48-vows-of-amitabha/

wish to renounce womanhood
In other words, she doesn't have to. But if she's been abused or oppressed or fears she'll be reborn in rural Afghanistan or something, she CAN be reborn as a man.

~EDIT~

DarwidHalim wrote:Padmashambhava said this in "THe pointing-out instruction to the Old Lady" in Treasures from Juniper Ridge

"First of all, the basic material of buddhahoos is within you. In particular, it is in human beings who have obtained the freedoms and riches. Morever, it is not such that the basic material for buddhahood is abundant in men and deficient in women. Thus, even though you have taken rebirth as a woman, you are not prevented from attaining buddhahood.


However, he did say something about women in "Instruction for Women on Attaining Enlightenment Without Abandoning Daily Activities" in Treasures from Juniper Ridge:
... Nevertheless, simple women like you have little fortitude. Having physical enemies, you cannot practice the Dharma but are forced into marriage. Your bad karma involves you in countless task, so you never think of the Dharma. Very few women succeed in Dharma practice, so embolden yourself with perseverance...
Thanks for these. I referenced these above. My understanding of these quotes is that women are equally capable of gaining enlightenment as men BUT due to oppressive cultural practices in most premodern societies, it is harder for women to gain enlightenment. For example, Yeshe Tsogyal would never had done serious practice if Trisong Detsen hadn't GIVEN her (like she was a possession) to Padmasambhava. She would have lived out her life as an average concubine.

So to repeat: women are equally capable of gaining enlightenment IN THEORY, but in practice various circumstances create inequality. Therefore, some women MAY want to be reborn as men to make enlightenment easier.
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Simon E. » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:02 am

DarwidHalim wrote:Padmashambava said "very few woman succeed in dharma practice".

He didnt say you can't achieve buddhahood. He said between man and woman they are no difference in terms of potentiality. But at the same time, he also said only few women succeed.

Why? Only you yourself know why.

It is good if you believe you can, because we need that spirit to become Buddha.

Can you attribute the source for this quotation please, in context ?

Thank you.

:namaste:
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Seishin » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:14 am

zamotcr wrote:I want to know how is the position of women in Mahayana. Lotus Sutra said that a woman have to transform into a man to become a Buddha.


In the Lotus Sutra, the Dragon Kings daughter, a young girl no less, was already Enlightened, but the un-enlightened and the ignorant among the crowds didn't believe her, so she turned herself into a man to prove it. http://www.sgilibrary.org/search_dict.php?id=483

So, the sutra is not saying that woman have to be a man to be enlightened, it is saying that the "society" at the time was misogynistic, so she proved herself by turning into a man. When you think about the context of when this sutra was written, this story would have been mind blowing for the men and inspiring for women. Not only is it saying that a female can become a Buddha, it's also saying that a little girl can become enlightened quicker than an adult male :o

Gassho,
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby rory » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:56 am

Thank you Seishin for posting that, I could have but as a woman I really couldn't bear this nauseating discussion;
this is a big reason I'm a follower of the Lotus Sutra and also Nichiren's totally open & receptive attitude towards women. How many remember that Mahaprajapati and Yashodhara both became Buddhas?
We all have Buddha-nature along with dogs,cat's insects and the capacity to become Buddhas anything else is sexism pure and simple.
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Seishin » Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:44 am

No problem Rory. It's a shame the male dominant society had skewed the meaning of the Lotus Sutra and many others.

Gassho,
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Simon E. » Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:49 am

Simon E. wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:Padmashambava said "very few woman succeed in dharma practice".

He didnt say you can't achieve buddhahood. He said between man and woman they are no difference in terms of potentiality. But at the same time, he also said only few women succeed.

Why? Only you yourself know why.

It is good if you believe you can, because we need that spirit to become Buddha.

Can you attribute the source for this quotation please, in context ?

Thank you.

:namaste:

Yes ? No ?
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby Pero » Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:27 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Simon E. wrote:
DarwidHalim wrote:Padmashambava said "very few woman succeed in dharma practice".

He didnt say you can't achieve buddhahood. He said between man and woman they are no difference in terms of potentiality. But at the same time, he also said only few women succeed.

Why? Only you yourself know why.

It is good if you believe you can, because we need that spirit to become Buddha.

Can you attribute the source for this quotation please, in context ?

Thank you.

:namaste:

Yes ? No ?

He gave it in his first post in this thread.
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: Mahayana sutras and woman

Postby ram peswani » Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:08 pm

Seishin wrote:
zamotcr wrote:I want to know how is the position of women in Mahayana. Lotus Sutra said that a woman have to transform into a man to become a Buddha.


In the Lotus Sutra, the Dragon Kings daughter, a young girl no less, was already Enlightened, but the un-enlightened and the ignorant among the crowds didn't believe her, so she turned herself into a man to prove it. http://www.sgilibrary.org/search_dict.php?id=483

So, the sutra is not saying that woman have to be a man to be enlightened, it is saying that the "society" at the time was misogynistic, so she proved herself by turning into a man. When you think about the context of when this sutra was written, this story would have been mind blowing for the men and inspiring for women. Not only is it saying that a female can become a Buddha, it's also saying that a little girl can become enlightened quicker than an adult male :o

Gassho,
Seishin



This is misleading. There is no mention of society pressure in lotus sutra.
Only males can become Buddhas.
I have read the site you have mentioned. It writes prehaps......etc. and is not sure of himself.
All guess work on your side.
Lotus sutra is the final authority.
In original post I had given the technical reasons.
I do not want to repeat those reasons as that reasoning had disturbed the whole thread.
No master can challange Wisdom of Buddha and lotus sutra is very explicit about it.
Why should any one feel disturbed by the truth. All females at the end of the road will become Buddhas after becoming males.
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