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Flashcards in Buddhism and gender Deck (45)
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What is sexual equality means from a Buddhist perspective?

Qualities as generosity, non-attachment, calm, kindness, compassion, clarity of mind and awareness of an insight into the nature of reality


What are some of the key challenges the Sakyadhita (daughters of the Buddha) International Association of Buddhist Women in Buddhism?

- Nuns receive little respect, cooking and cleaning most of the time (Burma, Thailand, Cambodia)
- Some countries don't have the equal amount of opportunities to be fully ordained as a monk
- Some don't have a voice in organisations
- Not giving the economic support than the males
200 million Buddhist women


What was the position of women like during the time of the Vedic religion?

- Difficult for Brahmins to be women
- Status defined by husband or father
- Rituals to ensure wife to NOT have daughter
- Men were allowed to divorce but women weren't
- Few goddesses were worshipped
- Wife seen as child-bearer/ subservient to husband and his parent
- Saw women as temptresses


Buddha's perspective on the spiritual potential of women

- Spiritual path equal to both, for sex and gender differences
- Alan Sponberg describes ' soteriological inclusive'- liberation/ freedom
- Basic view found in Buddhist literature e.g. Pali Canon
- The Buddha thought that women could be arahats


Key reasons why women could be become arahats

- Far more than 500 in each of the categories: monks, nuns, celibate laymen who are non-returners, celebate laywomen who are non-returners
- Sumedha recalls that prior to her ordination, she has been acknowledged as virtuous, a brilliant speaker, having great learning
- Therigatha- 73 verses attributed to 102 early nuns/ arahats


The 'Historical' Buddha (FT)

- He did ordain women
- Women can attain enlightenment
- Rebirth and anatta indicate that gender is in a way incidental to identity- "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form" (Heart Sutra)
- Some Buddhists excuse/ explain sexist and misogynistic statements in the Pali Canon as either understandable given the culture and society of his time
- Mahapajapati was his aunt and like to mother to him
- Buddha was persuaded by Ananda


Status of women: Jetsumma Tenzin Palmo

- Lack of role models
- Low self esteem and lack of confidence
- Men have more opportunities, more superior
- Getting more degrees to become Geshe's
- In 2013, Tibetan women were able to take the Geshe exams
- In 2016, 20 Tibetan Buddhist nuns became the first Tibetan women to earn geshema degrees


Questions faced by status of women?

- Spiritually equal BUT society not? Does ordination matter?
- If more emphasise is put on lay Buddhist then women and women's customs become more prominent


What was the historical origins of the Buddhist Sangha of nuns?

- Buddha founded the Sangha 5 years after enlightenment
- Therevada: Vinaya ordination of nuns arises with Mahaprajapati who is repeatedly refused by the Buddha
- Ananda persuaded the Buddha- who agrees, on the condition that nuns accepted the Garudhammas


Why was the Buddha reticent about ordaining Mahaprajapati?

- Buddhism was a small religion at the time and needed supporters
- The men will go against him if all the women followed him
- Buddhism was part of the shrammana movement
- The sangha was hugely supported by the lay people of the Vedic religion


What are the 3 baskets in Theravada?

1) The Vinaya Pitaka- "basket of discipline"
2) The Sutta Pitaka- "basket of discouses"
Buddha's tecahings
3) The Abhidhamma Pitaka- "basket of higher teachings"
Philosophy ideas about the nature of the mind, matter and time


Why was the Buddha cautious of the ordination of women?

1) Social pressure against putting women in a respected position
2) Fearful of the disdain of menfolk against the monastic sangha and women per se
3) Potential vulnerability of women e.g. getting raped/ attacked
4) Accusations of sexual relationships between monks and nuns
5) Sangha would die out without the support of the laity


What is the female ordination process?

1) Probationer for 2 years (only applied to women)
2) Need to be ordained by monks AND nuns
3) Ordination ceremony- need parent's permission. Later, need husband permission
4) If a nun left the sangha to join a non- Buddhist sect she would not be re-ordained


What are the 8 Garudhammas?

1) However old she may be, she must pay respect even to a merely ordained monk and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life
2) A bhikkuni must not stay at a nunnery to observe the Buddhist Lent where there is no Bhikkhu nearby
3) A Bhikkhuni must invite a Bhikkhu every fortnight to fix the date of Sabbath and to listen to the exhortation of the monks
4) A Bhikkhuni must perform the ceremony of Confession and taking advice both in the Bhikkhu sangha and the Bhikkhuni sangha
5) A Bhikkhuni who has broken any vows of respect must undergo penance for half a month under both sanghas
6) When as a probationer , she has trained in the six rules for two years, she should seek higher ordination from both orders
7) A Bhikkhuni must not admonish a Bhikkhu and should learn and practice this dhamma throughout her life
8) Since having become a nun, she should be receptive to learning and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life


Implications of the 8 Garudhammas?

- Bhikkhus were always to have precedence over Bhikkhunis in matter of salutation
- Bhikkhunis could not observe the annual retreat in a district where there were no Bhikkhus
- Bhikkhus had to set the date for Bhikkhuni Upasatha ceremonies
- A Bhikkhuni who has broken any of the vows of respect must undergo penance for half a month under both sanghas
- Certain judicial processes in case of Bhikkhunis had to be undertaken by both the sanghas
- Upasamapada initiation of Bhikkhunis should be given by the Bhikkhu sangha as well
- A Bhikkhuni should never abuse a Bhikhu
- There more rules for nuns than the rules for monks , but primarily dealt with the protection of the nuns



Mother of liberation and represents the virtue of success and achievements



Type of deity associated with tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism said to be manifestations of Buddhahood or enlightened mind.


Tantric texts

Refers to numerous and varied scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy



Type of sacred female spirit in Vajrayana Buddhism and the term can also be applied to human women with a certain amount of spiritual development.


Kyanyin or Guanyin

Bodhisattva of compassion and mercy


Indian Tantric texts e.g. yab-yum symbolism

Common symbol in the Buddhist art of India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. It represents the union of wisdom and compassion, depicted as a male deity in union with his female consort


Reasons why female rebirth is not quite as good as a male one? ( Theravada)

- " The male appearance is higher, the female appearance is lower"
- " Women perform service to men"
- " Women being born is due unwholesome karmic actions"


Reasons why female rebirth is not quite as good as a male one? ( Mahyana)

1) Sutra on ' Changing the female sex'- status and women have more greed, hatred and delusion than a man
2) Buddha answers- giving an envy, being devout, giving up attachment (not being a women)
3) Pure Land will only be populated by make humans and gods


Reasons why female birth is not quite good as male ones?

- A women faces 5 forms of suffering than men do not:
1) Socially/cultural- status is defined by men
2) Biological- menstruation
3) Pregnancy
4) Giving birth ( e.g. Queen Maya died shortly after giving birth)


What is the Dragon King's daughter?

In the Lotus Sutra's story, the dragon princess became a man in the process of becoming a Buddha. But when the story began, the sutra says that she was already enlightened. The dragon princess only transforms into a male after the spiritual attainment is doubted. The dragon princess' changing her gender is an act of expedient means, for those who need to see her as a male form


What is the significance of the Lotus sutra story?

- ANYONE can achieve enlightenment doesn't matter which gender
- The Dragon King's daughter presents her priceless jewel to the Buddha
- It shows that gender is significance even though it's taught anatta. Shows the social/ cultural of the times
In Zen Buddhism, the story was taken as an example to emphasise the potential of sudden awakening


What were the few additional requirements for ordination that men do not?

- Not be pregnant
- that she not be nursing
- that if she has a child who depends upon her, that other care be arranged for the child or children


Problems with Lineage

- Female sangha grew very quickly
- First written records came from the reign of King Ashoka.
- The transmission of the order in Sri Lanka was due to the daughter of King Ashoka named Sanghamitta Theri
- Around 11th century it was in serious decline and eventually died out. Due to wras and invaders from Tamil Nadu
- With the fall of Anuradhapura to the Chola invaders in D 1017, the Bhikkhuni order disappeared and became non operational
- In 1996 through the effort of Sakyadita the Theravada bhikkhuni order was revived when 11 Sr Lankan women recieved full ordination in Sarnath, India


Ven Karma Lekshe Tsomo

- Buddha was male so shows enlightenment can only be gained by men
- Radha- first person to take refuge
- Maha (Buddha aunt)- leader for Buddhist women
- Women becoming associated with compassion ( China)
- Women roles tend to be indicated for the kitchen
- Female nuns in Vietnam becoming leaders
- Young novices from different countries
- Monasteries in Vietnam lead by women
- Sujata- gave milk rice to the Buddha
- Discipline by women is impeccable
- Buddhism needs to become a MODEL for SOCIAL CHANGE
- Discrepancy between theory and everyday relaity


Ven Dr. Dhammananda and Ven Dr. Kusuma

- There are verses in the Suttas where the Buddha pointed out some bad monks to some nuns
- The Buddha told the nuns to not respect these bad monks
- A nun does not have to bow down to every monk but only a monk worthy of respect
- Requires both monks and nuns to be present for initiation