Women cannot become Buddhas?

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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby beeblebrox » Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:09 pm

Well... it seems impossible to argue with that.

But on the (small?) upside, when someone thinks he's encountered Mara, he needs to keep in mind that it's not the female.

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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:04 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:
Jhana4 wrote:Do not Buddhas have abilities that arahants do not, like the ability to communicate the dhamma well?


There was a very good discussion a few months ago about the (absence of) differences between some arahats and the Buddha. I remember Tiltbillings participated actively in that one, so maybe he knows which thread is it.
I an not sure which thread you are referring to, but this may be of interest: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=9747&p=149864&#p149864 this msg and several of mine that directly follow it in that thread.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Feathers » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:04 pm

I don't know Pali or Sanskrit, so can anyone tell me: in that text about how only male's become Buddhas, Mara etc. are the words for male/female strictly indicative of biology, or could they be taken as gender detached from biology, or was that distinction simply not in existence at the time?
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby manas » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:49 am

I wonder what the official, traditional explanation is, as to why a human being with a female body, could not also discover the Four Noble Truths on their own after much striving over many lifetimes, as the Buddha did. I for one cannot see how having a womb could prevent this, from being at least a possibility. Maybe in some other Universe, a female Buddha is appearing right now, and will soon give Her first sermon.

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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Maitri » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:56 am

What also may be interesting is a more academic review of the Sutta in question:

When it comes to the issue of being a Buddha, however, tradition takes the position that only a male is capable of fulfilling such a role. In the early discourses, the locus classicus for this position is the Bahudhatuka-sutta of the Majjhima-nikaya, according to which a woman is incapable of occupying various positions, one of them being that of a Buddha. (9) The Bahudhatuka-sutta has several parallels which show some variations in their presentation of these impossibilities. Of particular significance is a Madhyama-agama parallel which does not mention any inability of women at all.

This Madhyama-agama parallel to the Bahudhatuka-sutta was translated into Chinese by Gautama Sarighadeva towards the end of the fourth century, (10) apparently based on a Prakrit original transmitted within the Sarvastivada tradition(s). (11) Besides this Madhyama-agama discourse and the Pali Bahudhatuka-sutta, other parallel versions are a discourse translated individually into Chinese; (12) a discourse preserved in Tibetan translation; (13) a full satra quotation in the Dharmaskandha of the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, preserved in Chinese; (14) and a full satra quotation in Samathadeva's commentary on the Abhidharmakosabhasya, preserved in Tibetan. (15)

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+bahudhatuka-sutta+and+its+parallels+on+women%27s+inabilities.-a0229832356

The author then goes on to state that the Pali version of the text may reflect a newer development in which women had become more excluded from Buddhist religious life.

In sum, since an accidental loss or an intentional omission of an exposition on the inabilities of women in the Madhyama-agama discourse seems improbable, the most straightforward conclusion would be that the theme of women's inability is a later addition to the exposition on impossibilities in the different versions of the Discourse on Many Elements. Thus in this respect the Madhyama-agama version quite probably testifies to an early stage, when the theme of what women cannot achieve had not yet become part of the discourse.


I think the important thing is not to endlessly debate the text's contents or if it really means what it says- it's pretty clear that it does discriminate against women- but rather how do we work with a perspective that is not in accord with our modern paradigm. The agama version may then supersede the Pali version for our preference in this case.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Maitri » Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:09 am

manas wrote:I wonder what the official, traditional explanation is, as to why a human being with a female body, could not also discover the Four Noble Truths on their own after much striving over many lifetimes, as the Buddha did. I for one cannot see how having a womb could prevent this, from being at least a possibility. Maybe in some other Universe, a female Buddha is appearing right now, and will soon give Her first sermon.

manas


You question is addressed in this thread:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=407

The official explanation is pretty clear. The can't attain Buddhahood because they are women. Whether you agree with it or not is another issue.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby cooran » Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:19 am

The second article The Buddha and The Arahant by Lily de Silva is interesting:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el407.html

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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:15 am

manas wrote:I wonder what the official, traditional explanation is, as to why a human being with a female body, could not also discover the Four Noble Truths on their own after much striving over many lifetimes, as the Buddha did.


It’s part and parcel of the general doctrine that in their final life bodhisattas will be reborn in circumstances that permit them to have the optimal impact upon devas and men.[1] For example, it is said that they will be reborn in whatever happens to be reckoned as the highest social class at that time; the place of their birth will be a cultured and not a barbarous one; they will be physically attractive, possessed of a good voice, etc. etc.

The texts don’t spell out precisely why it would be better for them to be men rather than women, but it's not hard to guess. As far as we know, all human societies are patriarchal, always have been, and most probably always will be.[2] So, if you’re intent on making a really big splash in the world, other things being equal, possession of a male body will stand you in better stead than possession of a female one.


_______
Notes

[1] This point is very commonly misstated, with claims being made to the effect that a bodhisatta, in his penultimate life in the Tusita heaven, gets to choose the circumstances of his final birth. But this isn’t what the Suttas say. They say only that before passing away he foresees what the circumstances of his final life will be, not that he chooses them. As with any other saṃsāric being, the bodhisatta, after passing away from Tusita, fares according to his kamma. It just happens that by the time he is ripe for awakening, the power of his accumulations of paramī and his resolve for sammāsambodhi will be such as will lead to rebirth in optimal circumstances. Pace the Tibetans, it doesn’t mean that he is in possession of the power to say: “Let my rebirth be such and such!”

[2] For any readers who've been taken in by the matriarchal myth-making peddled by loony feminists (i.e., supposedly matriarchal prehistoric societies, or presently existing ones among the Iroquois, or in the South Seas, etc.), I offer the following reading suggestions (especially Goldberg’s book, which in its most recent edition carries the new title, Why Men Rule):

• Cynthia Eller, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future (Boston, Beacon Press, 2001).
• Donald E. Brown, Human Universals (Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1991)
• Joan Bamberger, The Myth of Matriarchy: Why Men Rule in Primitive Society, in M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere, Women, Culture, and Society, (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1974).
• Steven Goldberg, The Inevitability of Patriarchy, (William Morrow & Company, 1973).
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:14 pm

Thank you Tilt. I'm not sure if it was that one but, looking at it quickly, it probably has the relevant information.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby zamotcr » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:02 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
manas wrote:I wonder what the official, traditional explanation is, as to why a human being with a female body, could not also discover the Four Noble Truths on their own after much striving over many lifetimes, as the Buddha did.


It’s part and parcel of the general doctrine that in their final life bodhisattas will be reborn in circumstances that permit them to have the optimal impact upon devas and men.[1] For example, it is said that they will be reborn in whatever happens to be reckoned as the highest social class at that time; the place of their birth will be a cultured and not a barbarous one; they will be physically attractive, possessed of a good voice, etc. etc.

The texts don’t spell out precisely why it would be better for them to be men rather than women, but it's not hard to guess. As far as we know, all human societies are patriarchal, always have been, and most probably always will be.[2] So, if you’re intent on making a really big splash in the world, other things being equal, possession of a male body will stand you in better stead than possession of a female one.


Venerable Dhammanando, so, if we make the hypothetical assumption that in a long future, the dominant society is matriarchal, we could expect a female Buddha? Hypothetically talking of course, because you already said with strong bibliography that is highly unlikely that such society could exist.
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby plwk » Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:06 am

Naturally zamotcr. And next thing you'll be expecting is the re-alignment of the 32 Great Marks/Signs of a woman instead of a man...
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If this single thing is recollected and made much,
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:25 am

plwk wrote:Naturally zamotcr. And next thing you'll be expecting is the re-alignment of the 32 Great Marks/Signs of a woman instead of a man...
Given how utterly strange those are for a man, what would they be for a woman? Probably some something on the line of a Barbie Doll.

The 32 marks and the Buddha needing to be a man are reflections of culture. These things were very likely part of the Indian milieu, taken up by the Buddhists.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Aloka » Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:24 am

tiltbillings wrote: The 32 marks and the Buddha needing to be a man are reflections of culture. These things were very likely part of the Indian milieu, taken up by the Buddhists.


I remember Ajahn Sujato writing "On the 32 marks" in his blog a couple of years ago:


There is plenty of incidental detail in the Suttas and Vinaya that show that the Buddha was normal in appearance, so any freakish or supernatural interpretation of the marks must be wrong. Leaving a few of the bizarre elements aside, most of the marks are straightforward signs of physical beauty: black hair, white teeth, gold skin, and the like.

The Suttas themselves attribute the marks to ancient Brahmanical texts, although strangely enough they are not found in any extant Brahmanical works.

There is some suggestion that they may be Babylonian in origin: one of the early texts that features them (Parayanavagga) speaks of a Brahman called ‘Bavari’, which is just the Pali spelling of ‘Babylonian’; marks and omens of all kinds are rampant in Babylon and related cultures. In addition, the 32 marks are closely connected with the idea that the Buddha is a ‘Great man’, who has to choose between spiritual and royal dominion. This choice is first expressed in the myth of Gilgamesh, thousands of years before the Buddha, the most famous myth throughout the Babylonian region.

It is quite normal to have a child inspected for various auspicious marks, and so on, and so there is little reason to doubt that this happened to Siddhattha. It is also normal, indeed, essential, for the hero to fulfill ancient prophecies. While we can’t say what marks the Buddha actually had, we can be sure that if he did not fulfill an ancient prophecy, one would have been invented for him.

http://sujato.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/on-the-32-marks/



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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby manas » Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:22 am

Dhammanando wrote:
manas wrote:I wonder what the official, traditional explanation is, as to why a human being with a female body, could not also discover the Four Noble Truths on their own after much striving over many lifetimes, as the Buddha did.


It’s part and parcel of the general doctrine that in their final life bodhisattas will be reborn in circumstances that permit them to have the optimal impact upon devas and men.[1] For example, it is said that they will be reborn in whatever happens to be reckoned as the highest social class at that time; the place of their birth will be a cultured and not a barbarous one; they will be physically attractive, possessed of a good voice, etc. etc.

The texts don’t spell out precisely why it would be better for them to be men rather than women, but it's not hard to guess. As far as we know, all human societies are patriarchal, always have been, and most probably always will be.[2] So, if you’re intent on making a really big splash in the world, other things being equal, possession of a male body will stand you in better stead than possession of a female one.


_______
Notes ....
Thanks Bhante, your answer clarified my understanding of this issue.

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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:44 am

zamotcr wrote:Venerable Dhammanando, so, if we make the hypothetical assumption that in a long future, the dominant society is matriarchal, we could expect a female Buddha?


In your hypothetical future it would presumably depend on which of the two regularities (dhammatā) were the dominant one: that Buddhas are always born in the optimal state for carrying out their task or that they are never female. If the former is dominant then we'll get Buddhas who are female but nonetheless optimal; if the latter then the Buddhas will be male but sub-optimal.
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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: Women cannot become Buddhas?

Postby Virgo » Sun Sep 22, 2013 4:16 pm

It's not really a big deal either way is it? It is not like Buddhas are sexist and refuse to be women! (not that it is a choice either way). It's just that if the society is patriarchal - which almost all are - then the Buddha-to-be will be born with a male body, since that is what will give him the most power and influence. Likewise, whatever the highest caste is, he is born in ...
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