Women in Pure Land

Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:30 pm

In the absolute sense we are not men (or women ). We were not men before our birth as men. Our feelings and emotions are to a large extent caused by our body, by the production of sperm in our body, ( or production of ova in the female case).

In Buddhism at least Aryadeva makes this point when he says that we see women as attractive bacause we are born as men. If we were born as male crows we'd see female crows as attractive, and so on... Women are not attractive in the absolute sense, they are so only because of our biological conditioning as men. (Aryadeva: 400 Stanzas )

Some Mahayana sutras say that in the absolute sense we are not men or women, (atleast the Vimalakirti Nirdesa, can't remember where else it is said). The biological urge to propagate the species, to acquire offspring, to protect them, and so on... is Samsara. It is very strong, it commands powerful emotions, it demands from us everything.
Liberation is unnatural, it is against biological existence, it is against Nature.

Men and women do not attain enlightenment. Men and women die, and a new being, an Arhat or a Bodhisattva, is born and becomes manifest.

Men and women are biologically functioning organisms. It is impossible for the biological existence to understand or to attain enlightenment that is beyond the merely biological. Enlightenment is Death for the biologically determined life.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:49 pm

I think there is an important point that some have missed. The path of Pure Land is not only for those who can detach from the body and say that there are no sexes and this body is just a momentary conglomeration of the four elements. This path is also (or as Shinran would say: especially) for those who are fully loaded with attachments and karma and so identifying with our present sex is nothing extraordinary at all. Indeed, if we didn't do that we would be free from all our lust toward others. So to say that no women but only men are born there is explicit chauvinism - not that it doesn't exist in many Buddhist texts - and it is also a projection into the three essential Pure Land sutras as they don't exclude women at all, not to mention the part of Vaidehi in the propagation of this teaching by the Buddha.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:36 pm

As Thrangu Rimpoche says it, "when we die it is like a hair being pulled from a block of butter, everything is left behind". Do you understand ? Your body and property is left behind, everything you are attached to is left behind, your body is rotting in the grave or has been cremated, there is nothing by which you could call yourself a "man".
Vaidehi too did die, as did thousands and millions of the followers of the Pureland School, they left their human life behind.
Your body is not your self, neither do you own your body, it returns to the four elements, you only had it on loan for a short while.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 30, 2011 5:22 pm

Aemelius,

Tell me, if gender doesn't matter, why is it that Amitabha is male and Guanyin is female?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby rory » Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:40 am

in the Lotus Sutra, the dragon king's daughter attains buddhahood in her female form. If you read some of the later sutras, namely the Blood Pool Sutra, wherein women go to a special hell just for having menses, you see how the desire to escape the female form became ingrained with the misogyny.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:52 am

rory wrote:in the Lotus Sutra, the dragon king's daughter attains buddhahood in her female form.


Actually the dragon princess had to change first into male, a classical case.

Śāriputra spoke to the daughter of the nāga king, saying:
“You say that you will soon attain the highest path. This is difficult to believe. Why is this? The female body is polluted; it is not a fit vessel for the Dharma. How can you attain highest enlightenment?
“The buddha path is long. One can only attain it after diligently carrying out severe practices, and completely practicing the perfections over immeasurable kalpas. Moreover, the female body has five obstructions. The first is the inability to become a great Brahma. The second is the inability to become Śakra. The third is the inability to become Māra, and the fourth is the inability to become a universal monarch (cakravartin). The fifth is the inability to become a buddha. How can you with your female body quickly become a buddha?”
...
Then the assembly there all saw the daughter of the nāga king instantly transform into a man, perfect the bodhisattva practices, go to the vimalā world in the south, sit on a jeweled lotus flower, and attain highest, complete enlightenment, become endowed with the thirty-two marks and eighty excellent characteristics, and expound the True Dharma universally for the sake of all sentient beings in the ten directions.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Madhyama Pratipada » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:43 pm

Also common to Buddhism are the five obstructions - 五障 (Japanese: gosho; Chinese: wǔ zhàng) – faced by women. They are limitations dependent solely on the body. According to the fifth of the five obstructions, a woman cannot become a Buddha.

It seems that the only thing barring the dragon king's daughter from Buddhahood is the impurity of the female form, which would not be suitable for residence in the Pure Land. Otherwise, she has attained the highest attainment. Some would argue that the dragon king's daughter, an advanced practitioner of the Dharma, disproves this longstanding misconception when she refutes Śāriputra's position that enlightenment is available only to men. Yet she must indeed undergo a sex change in order to attain perfect enlightenment. The one thing prohibiting her from doing so as a woman is her gender.

Why would the Buddha, whose teachings on non-self and the five aggregates explicitly denounce self-identification with the body, and by inference with gender, anywhere say that a woman, by the nature of her physical sex alone, cannot accomplish the same as a man?
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:42 pm

MP,

Indeed, more reasons why people have thought that there can be no women in Pure Land.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby rory » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:04 am

MP; that's exactly how that passage of the dragon king's daughter's 'male' transformation is interpreted; as foolish. A rebuke to those who think that way. I've never heard it expounded by any priest other than this way. The Buddha's aunt Prajapati became enlightened in her female body & countless women in the Therigatha, it's only later that such false ideas and discrimination took hold. That passage is a rebuke to such discrimination.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:34 am

Rory,

Arhats and bodhisattvas can be either males or females but not buddhas, it is because of the mentioned hindrances (五障 - pañca āvaranāni) of women that they can't become Brahmā-kings, Indras, Māra-kings, Cakravarti-kings, or Buddhas. Later Mahayana (especially Vajrayana) did overwrite that theoretically.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:53 pm

Astus wrote:Aemelius,

Tell me, if gender doesn't matter, why is it that Amitabha is male and Guanyin is female?


People here seem to think that attaining enlightenment is like acquiring a car or a new house or an estate, they themselves remain the same, they only get a new thing added to their identity, a thing that is called "liberation" or "enlightenment".
This is contrary to the actual truth of the matter.
If you become a new being, a higher being, your previous identity as a man or a woman dissolves and dies.

The appearence of bodhisattvas and buddhas is an other issue, it need not be taken up here, in case of Avalokiteshvara you can read his set of bodhisattva vows, they make it clear that he manifests in many different shapes of beings.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:08 pm

Astus wrote:MP,

Indeed, more reasons why people have thought that there can be no women in Pure Land.



Do you believe that the three planes of existence (tridhatu) do not really exist ?
If you could understand that the kamadhatu, rupadhatu and arupadhatu are distinct planes of existence, far from each other, there would not be so much difficulty in this issue.
Beings in different spheres of existence are normally never aware of the other planes.
To call a being a man or woman belongs to the human realm where people copulate and are born from a womb.
This does not belong to the realm of Sukhavati nor to the realm of Rupadhatu or the realm of Arupadhatu, where beings are born through transformation.
In the vows of Amitabha Sukhavati is likened to the third Dhyana level of the Rupadhatu.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:10 pm

Aemilius wrote: People here seem to think that attaining enlightenment is like acquiring a car or a new house or an estate, they themselves remain the same, they only get a new thing added to their identity, a thing that is called "liberation" or "enlightenment".
This is contrary to the actual truth of the matter.
If you become a new being, a higher being, your previous identity as a man or a woman dissolves and dies.


So, are you on the position that beings in the Pure Land are without gender, they have a non-human body?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:18 pm

Astus wrote:
Aemilius wrote: People here seem to think that attaining enlightenment is like acquiring a car or a new house or an estate, they themselves remain the same, they only get a new thing added to their identity, a thing that is called "liberation" or "enlightenment".
This is contrary to the actual truth of the matter.
If you become a new being, a higher being, your previous identity as a man or a woman dissolves and dies.


So, are you on the position that beings in the Pure Land are without gender, they have a non-human body?


Yes, I think it ( gender) is one of the deep seated attachments and identities that we have, it is impermanent and illusory, dependently arisen.

Another angle to the Pureland method & doctrine:
It uses the process of old age and dying. Old age is a merciless thing, it lasts for 20, 30, or 40 years ! It is like a forced retreat , a compulsory retreat, slowly you experience the disappearing of your physical and mental faculties, very slowly it strips you naked. It is a cruel retreat master, you have no idea of it yet as you are still young and vigorous. This means that all normal people (belonging to the Pureland School & others) go through this long process of old age, and finally through the process of dying. In many ways old age is like a real meditation, you have nothing more to do, you are forced to remain neutral, forced to remain outside of everything. This is like attaining equality, and no one thinks you are something because of it. Gradually and cruelly your status crumbles and falls away. There is not much left that you can hope for. Maybe you fear hell or bad rebirth, may be you have visions of these sometimes. When you were young and vigorous you really had no idea what the ordinary ngondro practices meant.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby rory » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:47 pm

Okay, I looked through my books & can clear this up: in Japanese Buddhism: 'Original Enlightenment' hongaku theory: we are inherently enlightened became the leading thought and quite normative for Japanese sects except for the Jodo sects.
. Read Jacqueline Stone's "Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism" on p. 346-347 she discusses the Dragon King's daughter & how clerics square this with their interpretation of the Lotus Sutra via hongaku thought. Soshun a 15th century Tendai monk says:

"however from the perspective of original enlightenment , delusion and enlightenment are originally inherent; thus a man as a man [on realizing original enlightenment] pervades and illuminates the dharma realm, and woman as a woman, just as she is, [likewise] pervades the dharma realm. Because [these transmissions] teach that one's present status is precisely the wonderful [Dharma], they teach that there are female Buddhas." p. 347

Honen Shonin, the founder of the Jodo school didn't adhere to Original Enlightenment theory, but I've just looked through his letters to women who worry about the 5 hindrances & he tells them they will be born in the Pure Land. He doesn't mention turning into a male at all. It's not an issue for him. We're all defiled and need Sukhavati.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:53 pm

Thanks Rory, great job. :thumbsup:
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Nosta » Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:36 pm

Here is what i think about the problem "women and Pure Land":
1) Women are not exactly more "impure" than men. In fact, men are always "thinking with their penis". Sorry for being so brutal but i just used a known expression to better explain my toughts. Everybody knows that men can easly fall in the webs of passion, love and sex, more than women. So, who is impure here?

2) Not any being can achieve Pure Land: beings must have a physical form that allow them to hear buddhist teachings and they must born in a place and time where they can acess such teachings and put them in practice. In this way, a dog, a ghost, a monkey or a spider wont have any acess to Pure Land teachings (at least in this life) and consequently they wont get the luck to achieve Sukhavati for now. We could say the same about egyptians from 3000 bC for example. Or about an African tribe from nowdays, living far away from everything. Could we say the same about women in general? No! Many women have acess to Pure Land teachings, so, what can prevent women to get away from achieving Sukhavati?

3) One of the things that makes me most sad about buddhism is the fealings and attitude toward women. And if i get to the conclusion that women are like demons, in buddhism eyes, i will abandon buddhism. Why? Because i cannot accept a religion that speakd on equality and compassion and then sees women as garbage. In fact, i get sad everytime i think on the episode of Buddha life, where he denied his teachings to women, until he was convinced to teach them...a real Buddha would never have the need to be convinced. He is a Buddha afterall!
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:13 pm

Nosta,

1) Sexism can be applied to both sexes.
3) Fortunately there is no such thing as "Buddhism's eyes" but a large variety of teachings and interpretations.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Belincia » Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:03 pm

Nosta wrote:3) One of the things that makes me most sad about buddhism is the fealings and attitude toward women. And if i get to the conclusion that women are like demons, in buddhism eyes, i will abandon buddhism. Why? Because i cannot accept a religion that speakd on equality and compassion and then sees women as garbage. In fact, i get sad everytime i think on the episode of Buddha life, where he denied his teachings to women, until he was convinced to teach them...a real Buddha would never have the need to be convinced. He is a Buddha afterall!


I don't think you need to abandon buddhism. You just need to abandon those few things. Here's why we are taught to contemplate on teachings and only accept them if they seem right and makes sense. Because not all the teachings we hear 2500 years after Buddha are necessarily even originally from the Buddha. Personally at least I'm quite doubtful each and every word of scriptures would have stayed original.
If a single teachings seems to oppose the main idea of buddhism (especially if it seems harmful for beings), then just skip that single teaching.
Either it simply isn't original word of the Buddha, or it just needs some more explanations to understand correctly. Or of course, Buddha might just not be omniscient and compassionate (but I doubt that).

I'm sure women aren't demons on Buddha's eyes, or maybe are but then men are too. We both genders are having a lot of mental poisons (unless we practise, and through practise we all can get over them).
Anyway... I don't see reason to believe that Buddha would have thought of women as garbage. Why would Buddha think that of any single being, anyway? He's got the limitless compassion toward all beings and wishes to free everyone from suffering, even just tiny flies and worms, and horrible people like rapists and murderers... Doesn't Buddha see them all as ignorant beings who are just creating suffering to themselves? And wish to help them all equally?

Rebirth as a woman can often be less fortunate one (my opinion), just for some simple reasons... Those are... Because on many many cultures women has less freedom and in general more causes of suffering than men (globally things like... forced marriages, rapes, suffering and dying on pregnancy and childbirth, being under control of husband/father/someone, etc etc)... I think for that reason it can be said that rebirth as a woman is (generally; doesn't apply so much in modern rich countries) lower than as a man.
It has nothing to do with intelligence or capacity to achieve enlightenment, but with the amount of suffering.
And as buddhists, our goal is to free all beings from suffering. So, if rebirth as a woman is lower than as man, then certainly we will all need to try and live on a way that helps to reduce those sufferings... Other way of acting is certainly against compassion.

----

Beings in pureland probably aren't so gendercentered, that they would even think of their gender. I suppose they are pretty much occupied in gathering merit and wisdom to reach enlightenment. So for that reason, whatever the gender doesn't matter anything. But it's just my opinion, I might be wrong.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Nosta » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:23 pm

I wont abandon buddhism. Let me explain better: if i kew that buddha and buddhism were against women i would abandon it.

I know that they are not against women. I just still font understand the position of Buddha in his life towards not teaching women at first.
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