Womens limited role in buddhism

As Susan Murcott comments, "The nun's sangha was a radical experiment for its time. But the presence of some clearly misogynist doctrines does not mean that the whole of ancient Indian Buddhism was misogynist. However, in societies where men have always retained access to authority and wider choices, a negative judgement on women's fate might be seen as simply reflecting the empirical political reality. Furthermore, the religious literature is more likely to address men, and hence we find the Buddhist emphasis on renunciation of sensual desires expressed in terms of the male attachment to women more frequently than we find the reverse.

Womens limited role in buddhism

Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa February 18, The relationship between gender and authority in Buddhist traditions is a contested one, and is made all the more complex by the diversity of Buddhist communities. These narratives state that enlightenment is only possible for women if they gain good karma and are reborn as men beforehand.

Others posit that as women edge closer to enlightenment, they will spontaneously transform into a male form as a prerequisite for attaining final awakening. Other historical narratives can be interpreted as similarly disparaging toward women.

However, while these narratives may seem discouraging, branding them sexist or as examples of the lack of agency for women in the Buddhist tradition is only one potential interpretation of this Buddhist doctrine and history.

For example, key concepts in Buddhism, including the inherent emptiness of the self, may be read as radical rejections of static ideas of gender and the championing of stereotypically feminine characteristics. Compassion in Buddhist traditions demonstrate the potential for women as well as men to attain the highest goals of the tradition.

The vastness of Buddhist literary traditions, as well as its sheer diversity across time and space, leaves it open to multiple interpretations, and similarly, the role of women in the tradition and their potential as leaders also remains open to discussion and debate.

One such debate over the possibility for women in certain monastic traditions to gain ordination has been raging for over a century.

Women's Limited Role in Buddhism Essay Example | Hstreasures

In both Asian and contemporary global contexts, some groups of nuns and their supporters argue for the importance of ordination as a platform of authority and representation for women in Buddhist communities.

Others argue that these nuns should focus instead on their practice and service and leave aside matters of worldly rank. Additional groups argue that ordination is often secondary to the immediate challenges faced by female renunciants in these Buddhist cultures, who are often housed in economically-marginalized institutions and require institutional and educational support, rather than debates over Buddhist monastic jurisprudence.

While the ordination debate remains an important one, it also tends to obscure alternative narratives and opportunities open to both lay and renunciant Buddhist women for leadership in their communities. Throughout the Buddhist world, women play important roles that are often overlooked in popular discourse.

Historically, laywomen were crucial patrons of the Buddhist sangha, funding the building of monastic institutions, the composition and publication of Buddhist texts, and the performance of rituals for the upkeep of the cosmos.

Buddhist women also acted as authors of texts and hold their own ritual responsibilities. In the Himalayas, communities devoted to the fasting practice of the Bodhisattva of Compassion known as Nyungne are often dominated by women, who fundraise to build their own temples, organize their own retreats, and choose mentors from their own peers.

Politically powerful women such as the Chinese Empress Wu Zetian used Buddhism to legitimate their authority just as their male counterparts did. After founding her own short-lived dynasty during the Tang, Empress Wu built Buddhist institutions and sponsored sacred sites and the publication of books.

In Asia and other global contexts, Buddhist women act as teachers. In fact, in South Korea today, more nuns than monks hold Ph.

Womens limited role in buddhism

These examples demonstrate the potentialities for leadership in the Buddhist community in diverse contexts. As Chandra Mohanty has pointed out in her seminal work Feminism Without Bordersfeminism is not a homogenous construct and can at times act as a form of imperialism and oppression for women in non-Western societies.

In Japan, one of the pioneers of the feminist movement, Raicho Hiratsukasaw her practice of Zen Buddhism and its ideas of deconstruction as a cornerstone to her feminist philosophy and social activism.

Historically, as Buddhism has travelled, local cultural attitudes toward women have influenced the opportunities provided for women in complex ways, as in denying full ordination to women in Sri Lanka and Tibetan societies. On the other hand, Buddhism has also opened up new opportunities, particularly in Confucian societies of East Asia, where it allows women to attain literacy and spiritual agency.

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Some Buddhist philosophers have both denied the opportunity for women to attain enlightenment, while other traditions have argued that women are inherent manifestations of enlightened energy. This array of attitudes illustrates the diversity of Buddhism, or perhaps more accurately, Buddhisms, and the importance of considering the agency of human communities, not just textual authorities, in providing women opportunities.

While some communities may argue that gender egalitarianism is an offshoot of forms of Buddhist modernity molded in interaction with other forms of globalization, the historical heterogeneity of Buddhist women and their activities demonstrate the importance of context in the interpretation of Buddhist narrative tradition and the possibility of individual agency in its practice.

In the public and academic sphere, Buddhist women are often incorrectly seen as marginalized, which can contribute to actual marginalization for their activities inside and out of institutions; however, they are present and remain crucial in Buddhist communities. Discover similar content through these related topics and regions.Willis, Jan.

“Nuns and Benefactresses: The Role of Women in the Development of Buddhism.” In Women, Religion, and Social Change. Edited by Yvonne Haddad and Ellison Banks Findly, 59– Albany: State University of New York Press, E-mail Citation» Discusses the critical role that women have played in Buddhist literature, distinguishing major attitudes in early Indian, Mahayana, and later Vajrayana texts.

Women in Buddhism Buddhism, unlike many other early religions/ societies, does not consider women inferior to men. The Buddha emphasized the fruitful role women can (and, according to Buddha) should play as a wife and mother.

The vastness of Buddhist literary traditions, as well as its sheer diversity across time and space, leaves it open to multiple interpretations, and similarly, the role of women in the tradition and their potential as leaders also remains open to discussion and debate.

The Role of Women In Buddhism; The Role of Women In Buddhism.

By Amy Long on March 29, 0. During 5th century India, women were considered to be inferior to men. Having no opportunities for schooling, and limited personal freedom, women of all castes had been considered to be on the same level with the lowest of the castes, the Sudra.

The Role of Women In Buddhism; The Role of Women In Buddhism; The Role of Women In Buddhism women were considered to be inferior to men. Having no opportunities for schooling, and limited personal freedom, women of all castes had been considered to be on the same level with the lowest of the castes, the Sudra.

Women In Theravada Buddhism - Alliance for Bhikkhunis

and the . There are notable women in prominent roles in other denominations, too. Female deities abound in Tibetan Buddhism. The matriarch of the Drigung Kagyu lineage is grandmother, Achi Chokyi Drolma.

See also, Deities in Female Form. Tara; One of the fundamental Vajrayana vows is not to denigrate women.

Women in Buddhism - Buddhism - Oxford Bibliographies