Can the Buddha ever be a woman?

41

10

Is it true that the Buddha will never be a woman? If so, why is this?

To be specific, I am particularly asking whether or not the Buddha itself can be female. I am not asking whether a woman can become a Buddha in her future life.

Jordy van Ekelen

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 900

1There are many Buddhas, not just one “the Buddha.”Simon White 2016-02-28T14:36:29.393

1

Beside saying that a woman cannot be a SammaSamBuddha, MN 115 (http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Bahudhatuka_Sutta) also says that a woman cannot be Mara the Evil One. What's really interesting is that all Buddhist internet forums only inquire about the former statement but never the latter one..

santa100 2016-03-01T03:35:43.837

So it might be the yin-yang principle afterall. If there's a man named Siddartha Gautama, there's gotta be a another man named Genghis Khan. No female version of Genghis? then it's unlikely there'd be a female version of Siddhartha..santa100 2016-03-01T03:51:33.393

4It might help if you clarify whether you are asking a) if a Buddha cannot be female, or b) if a female cannot ever hope to become a Buddha in a future lifetime. Also, answers to this question vary from tradition to tradition, so you might want to make it clearer which tradition you are asking about.yuttadhammo 2014-09-08T17:03:23.833

4You may also read it as 'Can a woman become a Buddha in her current life?'Jordy van Ekelen 2014-09-08T17:31:15.637

4Look up: Guanyin/Kwan Yin/Kuan Yin,,, various spellings; also Avelokitesvara. Clearly a female manifestation of Buddha since ancient days. – None – 2014-09-08T21:56:29.607

1@yuttadhammo Current answers to this question reference the Pali canon's quoting the Buddha as saying that the answer is "no". Are you able/willing to mention what other traditions have a different viewpoint, and summarize why or how their answer can vary from the Pali canon's?ChrisW 2014-09-09T10:54:56.170

1Great idea, it would be really helpful to summarize the viewpoint of different traditions in an answer instead of asking for one as it brings more clarity to the overall perspective as well as it prevents users from asking similar questions for each tradition.Jordy van Ekelen 2014-09-09T13:43:48.223

Answers

32

In the (translated into English) Pali text that I have, there's a section titled "The Admission of Women to the Order" within a chapter titled "Stability of Societies". This section describes Ananda's asking the Buddha whether Maha-Pajapati could join the order.

When Ananda asks for the third time, he asks,

"Lord, are women capable, after going forth from the home unto the homeless life under the Norm-Discipline set forth by the Tathagata, -- are they capable of realizing the Fruit of Stream-winning, of Once-returning, of Never-returning, of Arahantship?

And the Buddha's reply to that question,

"Women are capable ... of doing so, Ananda."

(Which is why and how Ananda persuaded the Buddha to allow women to be ordained.)


FYI I did a Google search for Bahudhātuka Sutta -- because that seems to be the one/only basis on which other answers claim that a woman's being a Buddha is impossible.

The first search result is this paper, The Bahudhātuka-sutta and its Parallels On Women’s Inabilities.

The Abstract for this paper says,

The present article offers a comparative study of the Bahudhātuka-sutta, based on a translation of one of its parallels found in the Madhyama-āgama preserved in Chinese translation. The study focuses in particular on the dictum that a woman cannot be a Buddha, which is absent from the Madhyama-āgama version.

Its conclusions is (page 166),

the inability of a woman to be a Buddha can still be seen as an expression of leadership conceptions held in ancient Indian patriarchal society

and (page 166)

This tendency can safely be assumed to stand in contrast to the original teachings of early Buddhism, where -- as far as the texts allow us to judge -- gender was not considered to have an impact on spiritual abilities.

and (page 185)

Kajiyama (58) concludes that, regarding the listing of inabilities of women, “it is most likely that the dictum did not exist when the Buddhist Order maintained one and the same tradition, but that it was created after the Order was divided into many schools and was inserted into sūtras of various schools.” However, the suggestion by Kajiyama (70) that “the dictum that a woman is incapable of becoming a Buddha arose probably in the first century B.C.” may be putting things at too late a time.

The arguments for why is this is a late addition start in the section titled Comparison of the Parallel Versions of the Bahudhātuka Bahudhātuka-sutta on page 151 and can be summarized as:

  • Evidence that other parts were added:

    • "Aggregates" seems to be new

    • Items were added to the "elements" topic

    Therefore it's possible that an item (the item regarding women) was added to the "impossibilities" section.

  • The difference between versions could be explained as a later addition (into some versions), or as a later loss (from the other versions); but an addition is more likely.

  • There are various other differences in the "impossibilities" section.

  • The "impossibilities for women" doesn't exist in all versions

  • In the versions which do include the "impossibilities for women" section, there are differences between versions.

  • Buddha's being a woman, or low-caste, would be incompatible with contemporary society (because they wouldn't be respected when alive), which was the reason for the argument that a woman would have to be reborn as a man before she could be the Buddha

  • Some versions (not the Pali) say that a woman cannot even be a Paccekabuddha, which is proof that more and more degradation of women's abilities were added over time. (page 164)

  • It's therefore significant that one of the versions doesn't mention it at all (i.e. it implies that it wasn't original)

  • The addition doesn't fit, wasn't useful in the context of other information which was intended to be practical (page 166)


Maybe could better link the transition of the context? (from arahantship being possible to women, to the question at hand)

I think you're asking why my first quote (the Buddha's reply to Ananda's question, which was about "Arahantship") is relevant to this question, which is about the Buddha.

The paper I linked to above says that, at that time, no-one had the ambition of becoming the future Buddha: perhaps Arahant was synonymous with the highest feasible spiritual attainment, and that women were able no less than men to achieve it (page 163):

Here it needs also to be taken into account that the presentation in the Bahudhātuka-sutta and its parallels still stems from a period in the development of Buddhist thought when the idea of aspiring to Buddhahood had not yet become a general option. As pointed out by Kajiyama (64), “the dictum that a woman cannot become a Buddha ... did not have a target to which it could have been directed,” since at that time “no one, neither man nor woman, aspired to Buddhahood.”53 In sum, then, the inability of a woman to assume the position of a ruler on earth, a ruler in various heavenly realms, or a ruler in the field of Dharma reflects leadership conceptions in ancient India.

The footnote says,

53 Romberg (164) notes that once “the aim was no longer to become an Arhat, but to become Buddha ... this shift made, in fact, the situation for women worse, because a doctrinal foundation was laid for the necessity of changing the sex before being able to become enlightened.” In fact the Bodhisattvabhūmi explains that a woman will not realize the awakening of a Buddha because already an advanced bodhisattva has left behind womanhood for good and will not be reborn again as a female, Wogihara (94,3): na ca strī anuttarāṃ samyaksaṃbodhim abhisaṃbudhyate. tat kasya hetoḥ? tathā hi bodhisattvaḥ prathamasyaiva kalpāsaṃkhyeyasyātyayāt strībhāvaṃ vijahāti bodhimaṇḍaniṣadanam upādāya na punar jātu strī bhavati; cf. also Paul (212 note 7). Harrison (78) concludes that “women ... are generally represented in such an unfavourable light as to vitiate any notion of the Mahāyāna as a movement for sexual equality. Compared with the situation in the Pāli Canon, in which women are at least as capable as men of attaining the highest goal, arhatship, the position of women in Mahāyāna has hardly changed for the better.”

ChrisW

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 23 386

MN 115 is not referring to an arahant. MN 115 is referring to a Samma Sambuddha, which is the arahant/Buddha that gains enlightenment without a teacher & commences the Buddhist religion. A woman can be an arahant but a woman cannot be a Samma Sambuddha. Thus MN 115 does not contradict any other scriptures & also shows Bhikkhu Analayo did not argue his case correctly. This is a very straightforward matter.Dhammadhatu 2016-11-06T12:14:36.787

@Dhammadhatu I think that part of the argument was that in Early Buddhism the intention/ambition was to become an arhat; and the idea that people generally might aspire to Buddhahood happened a few centuries later (at which, later, time it was mixed with contemporary "leadership conceptions in ancient India") -- page 163 and footnote 53.ChrisW 2016-11-06T17:16:47.303

I think the main issue/confusion is the terms arahant & buddha. Originally, the term "buddha" was not used generically/interchangeably with "arahant". But later it was. My point it is a ordinary later-day distinction that there are 4 kinds of buddha: (i) self-enlightened that teaches (eg Gotama); (ii) self-enlightened that is silent (eg, unknown); (iii) taught-enlightened that teaches (eg. Sariputta); (iv) taught-enlightened that does not teach (eg. Rahula). Thus there is only one Sammasambuddha,namely, Gotama. MN 115 states a woman cannot be the 1st kind of buddha. RegardsDhammadhatu 2016-11-06T20:02:37.060

@Dhammadhatu Yes and I think that part of the "argument" is that that kind of distinction is late (though probably earlier than the first century AD). I think that the whole of the article examines reasons for believing that that one line is a late addition to the sutta: e.g. that it's anachronistic, and that it's not found in other versions (e.g. the Chinese translation) of the sutta.ChrisW 2016-11-06T20:16:46.720

Respectfully, what is "late" is anything Chinese. Where as the term "Sammasamuddha" is found everywhere in the Pali suttas. Everyday, Buddhists chant: "Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammasumbuddhasa". Bhikkhu Analayo is obviously incorrect. The Chinese parallels to suttas are generally extremely poor transmissions of dhamma. The Sutta Central rationale/methodology of parallel studies is weak. I have read the article previously. Bhikkhu Analayo's arguments, to me, are based on poor definitions.Dhammadhatu 2016-11-07T00:25:45.593

1This is great info!Thiago 2014-09-08T17:28:19.753

Yes indeed, well found.Jordy van Ekelen 2014-09-08T18:58:34.343

1+2 - you've hit the nail with the hammer with those comments! great kudos!vaxquis 2014-09-08T19:22:52.893

Women being able to attain Arahantship is common knowledge and well supported by the Suttas. But it is not related to this question. Becoming a Buddha is not the same as becoming an Arahath.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T20:44:52.047

1Maybe could better link the transition of the context? (from arahantship being possible to women, to the question at hand).Thiago 2014-09-09T13:50:42.367

1

@ThiagoSilva I added to the answer to try to link the transition. Notwhithstanding your answer on that subject it says (something like) it wasn't useful/relevant to distinguish between "Arahant" and "the Buddha".

ChrisW 2014-09-09T15:30:45.700

@ChrisW thank you! About my answer, I didn't conclude from the texts the distinction wasn't useful/relevant, as I collected a few places were distinctions were brought to attention (using the sutta in question as well). I do think its useful/relevant. However, my understanding agrees with the questioner when he says the attainment reached by arahants and buddhas are the same.Thiago 2014-09-09T18:50:28.700

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! The analysis of the parallel sutta in the Madhyama Agama is wonderful! That puts my heart at ease.Bakmoon 2014-09-10T03:16:56.343

18

Can the Buddha never be a woman? If it is true, why can't they?

According to MN 115, a woman cannot be a Buddha and, as far as I know, the reason is not explained anywhere in the canon.

He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a woman could be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a man might be an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One ― there is such a possibility.’
-MN 115, The Many Kinds of Elements

Unrul3r

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 3 287

14

This reminds me of a Zen story. A North-American female student approaches her Zen master and asks: "Is it true that a woman can never become a Buddha?" Zen master says "yup". The student gets into a long rant about women discrimination, equal rights, and how deluded the Zen master must be in his culturally-inherited biases. Zen master waits until she runs out of steam and says: "Wait. Are you a woman?!"

In AN 7.48 Buddha clearly explains that the person must transcend their gender biases, both masculine and feminine:

"And how is there lack of bondage? A woman does not attend inwardly to her feminine faculties, her feminine gestures, her feminine manners, feminine poise, feminine desires, feminine voice, feminine charms. She is not excited by that, not delighted by that [...] This is how a woman transcends her femininity.

"A man does not attend inwardly to his masculine faculties, masculine gestures, masculine manners, masculine poise, masculine desires, masculine voice, masculine charms. He is not excited by that, not delighted by that [...] This is how a man transcends his masculinity.

In SN 5.2 a nun named Soma says:

What
difference
does being a woman make
when the mind's well-centered,
when knowledge is progressing,
seeing clearly, rightly,
into the Dhamma.

Anyone who thinks
'I'm a woman'
or 'a man'
or 'Am I anything at all?' —
that's who Mara's
fit to address.

If any gender bias was seen as bondage by the Buddha, why would he say (in MN 115) that a woman cannot be an Accomplished One, but a man can? Here's what I think (assuming that paragraph wasn't added later):

Historically, back in Buddha's times, women were seen as inherently sloppy in their logical reasoning and analysis, not serious about large-scale spiritual matters, not willing to push themselves to the edge and beyond, very prone to the blinding emotions, unmindful, undisciplined etc.

So when Buddha said "it cannot happen that a woman could be an Accomplished One" -- this is what he meant, that someone sloppy-thinking, petty-minded, without the drive, not calm, not mindful, undisciplined, complacent -- like a (stereotypical) woman -- cannot attain Liberating Realization. However, if they work on their qualities, in order to become precise in their thinking, serious about Dharma's large-scale implications, determined and energetic, sober and controlled, mindful, rebellious etc. -- then at later time, once they have acquired and developed such qualities -- whether man or woman -- they can attain Liberating Realization.

Andrei Volkov

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 29 109

4'whether man or woman', Are you sure about that? It seems kind of strange to me that the texts explicitly state that women, according to Unrul3r's answer, will never become a Fully Enlightened One without making any remarks about whether they were seen as sloppy or not?Jordy van Ekelen 2014-09-08T12:20:22.550

6As sure as sure can be! :) Have you ever seen an unsure srotapanna? I don't know what Gautama was thinking when he said that thing in MN 115, but I have no doubts about Sat-Dharma. Maybe some idiot added that paragraph at a later time. And now we have to fix it! Luckily, this seems to be the only place in the entire Canon.Andrei Volkov 2014-09-08T14:21:08.577

1@ Andrei Volkov : your starightforwardness is quite appealing. I strongly believe that Buddhist text was attacked and especially Brahminism tried to insert many things which are basically contradictory to Buddhist teaching at later stage. So I appreciate your answer but impressed more by the above comment.sangharsh 2014-09-09T16:27:42.803

3Not necessarily Brahmins. It could be the Buddhists themselves. Not all Buddhists really understand what "Sat" in "Sat-Dharma" really means. It does not mean our Dharma is always mysteriously right even when it's wrong. It means our Dharma is to always align with truth, to align with how the world works. That's why it's always true, because we make sure it's always true, by dropping the false. If some of our ideas about the world ends up being mistaken, we drop it with no hesitation, and re-align with how the world works.Andrei Volkov 2014-09-09T17:00:11.287

6

This is not an easy question because in one sense the Buddha can never be a man or a woman, because the Buddha is not a physical object. Yet every man and woman is within its core the essence of the Buddha nature. The mask we wear is our human identity. What is behind the mask, meditation gives us glimpses of, yet who we really are is always a mystery or uncertain. If you are asking can a woman realize the Buddha nature in this lifetime, perhaps we should look at all the nuns that Shakyamuni Buddha initiated. He did not discriminate but freely invited all to drink the wisdom of wonder. Sometimes the questions are only answered in the depths of our own meditation.

soulsings

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 2 772

excellent answer. Would also like to refer the asker of this question to the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra (a Mahayana text)sova 2015-10-29T03:36:37.643

Thank you sova for your kind words. I appreciate your comments. Sorry for my delayed response.soulsings 2015-11-09T02:15:09.697

5

A woman can become a Buddha in a future birth. Gautama the Buddha was once a woman when 1st thought becoming a Buddha was planted in her mind. [p8 Practising the Dhamma with a View to Nibbana, Ch1 Eminent Buddhist Women by Karma Lekshe Tsomo]

The Bodhisattva and Buddhas are always male so you have to be born in latter lives as a male to complete your Bodhisattva career and become a Buddha.

After the definite prediction of future Buddhahood you will always be male. Before that there is a chance Bodhisattva may change between male and female.

Though is modern times this might seem controversial Bahu Dhātuka Sutta mentions certain things a woman cannot achieve:

He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that a woman would become a worthy fully self awakened one—this is not possible.

And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that a man would become a worthy fully self-awakened—this is possible.

He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that a woman would become a universal monarch—this is not possible.

And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that only a man would become a universal monarch —this is possible.

He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that a woman would attain the state of Sakra—this is not possible

...

For more comparative discussion on this matter see: On Women’s Inabilities by Piya Tan and The Bahudhātuka-sutta and its Parallels On Women’s Inabilities by Ven. Anālayo

Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 28 635

1I know a few women who are enlightened but being a buddha is more than being enlightened...it is about making others enlightened. Women have a drawback - they can follow well but cannot lead. It needs slight aggression a masculine quality. Its a difficult preposition but not an impossible one.Shashank Khare 2016-02-29T19:03:27.983

the above comments are rooted in human bias. who says that leading needs to be a quality of buddhahood? and who told you women cannot lead? who told you buddhahood needs aggression?frei 2017-03-29T03:05:00.767

@frei Some explanation is already available in the comments of this answer

Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena 2017-03-29T03:10:14.773

So if I don't misinterpret, a Buddha itself will never be female?Jordy van Ekelen 2014-09-08T11:57:03.183

Yes. A Buddha is always male though a woman can aspire to be a Buddha.Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena 2014-09-08T12:39:40.093

4

A woman cannot be a Sammasabuddha, Pacceka Buddha, Maha Brahma, Devaputta Māra , god Sakka or a Cakkavatti. Even if a woman aspires to become a Buddha in the future, she won't get the Niyatha Vivarana(confirmation) by another Buddha until she's born as a man. - MN 115.

This might not sit well with the modern social standards which are big on gender equality. But that's how it is when it comes to laws of nature.

As a side note, Theravada tradition does not drop/add or change Suttas to fit well with the social standards of the time. That's one reason why it is still the tradition that is closest to the original teachings of the Buddha.

Sankha Kulathantille

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 19 618

“This might not sit well with the modern social standards which are big on gender equality. But that's how it is when it comes to laws of nature.” So what you are saying is a) we cannot evolve, and b) we cannot relieve the suffering of women under gender discrimination?Simon White 2016-02-28T14:43:43.207

1a) No, we do evolve. But evolution doesn't change the word of the Buddha. It is for all times. b) All kinds of sufferings are relieved when one becomes an Arahant. Women are perfectly capable of achieving that. Do men need to be relieved of not being able to get pregnant? Is that gender discrimination too or is it the way nature works? :)Sankha Kulathantille 2016-02-28T15:18:06.543

5"This might not sit well with the modern social standards which are big on gender equality. But that's how it is when it comes to laws of nature." - well, I'd say you overdid it, mate... in my opinion, you're not a person to tell other people "how it is when it comes to laws of nature" - it's rather unwise to claim such wisdom.vaxquis 2014-09-08T14:50:47.633

2your opinion supports my point about it not sitting well with modern social views. :)Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T15:02:20.027

I'm not a gender person myself - and it's not about modern times nor my opinion, mind me; I'm a patriarchist myself. It's about you claiming you know the laws of nature better than other people, having a biased POV and failing to comply with Noble Eightfold Path; claiming to have wisdom is the highest proof of lacking it. Wise people seek wisdom, because they know they lack it. Unwise people claim wisdom, because they think they have it. If you desire truth, you want to be criticized and you want to be wrong. If you don't desire truth, you seek only to be right.vaxquis 2014-09-08T15:07:54.007

Nope! I'm not claiming direct knowledge on this matter. I don't think anyone other than the Buddha could. I'm simply claiming "Thus have I heard" and I believe in what I have heard. :)Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T15:13:15.400

You haven't ever used the words "Thus have I heard" in your answer. You used words "cannot", "won't" and the phrase "that's how it is when it comes to laws of nature"; those are unwise words to use unless you are completely sure of something, by having highest possible confidence in the source and/or having verified it by your self, in an unbiased way. I agree that no-one other than the Buddha could know how the laws of nature work in their intricacy. As such, it's exactly what I stated before - you overdid it, using words too big and too confident for a mere assumption.vaxquis 2014-09-08T15:19:01.300

It's not a mere assumption. It's the confidence in the Buddha and the Dhamma to be the truth. According to you, almost every answer in this site should start with "thus have i heard" since it's not right to claim direct knowledge even if you do have it. It's implied for these type of questions by default. Anyway, I think your misunderstanding about me claiming direct knowledge is cleared by now. :)Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T15:27:05.670

You haven't quoted scriptures nowhere. You haven't provided any source nor verification. As such, your opinion is based on interpretation of rumours. Don't claim on Buddha what he haven't said. Also, questions imply the desire to gain knowledge, not opinions nor rumours. Some of the other authors of answers understand this. They either quote the scriptures or explicitly highlight that something is their opinion, view, understanding or interpretation. Sadly, you don't, and you claim the lack of wisdom on the reader. "Blame the writer, don't blame the reader"... look it up yourself.vaxquis 2014-09-08T15:49:24.740

1"Don't claim on Buddha what he haven't said". This is your opinion. But I put my confidence in the sermons I have heard and the teachers I have learned from. I will update the answer with scripture references when I find them. My intention was never to make you sad or feel offended. So maybe you can try Metta meditation while I find a reference. :)Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T16:00:56.070

Yes, it is my opinion that you shouldn't put words into Buddha's mouth. I assume you disagree with it? Pity. Anyway, if you find a scripture saying "This might not sit well with the modern social standards which are big on gender equality. But that's how it is when it comes to laws of nature.", I'll be most enlightened. I wish you the best of luck on this search, hope you'll be able to prove to me and other people that is what Buddha's said.vaxquis 2014-09-08T16:04:53.700

The scripture reference is the same, verse 15 of MN 115 as referenced in other answers.

ChrisW 2014-09-08T16:05:07.280

@ChrisW Please read my request before attempting to fullfil it. I'm not asking for scripture reference for his 1st paragraph; I'm asking reference for the second. I don't recall Buddha's discussing gender studies nor making political/sociological assumptions and converting them into "laws of nature"; yet I may be wrong - I'm open to proofs of that, as I consider my knowledge on this matter lacking.vaxquis 2014-09-08T16:06:12.183

@ChrisW: Thanks for saving me the trouble. :) vaxquis, I thought you are referring to the whole answer. The second paragraph needs no scripture references. "This might not" already implies that it's my opinion.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T16:10:05.023

2FYI I found a paper (referenced in my answer) which claims that was a later addition (I'm not enough of a scholar to assess the historicity of the texts myself).ChrisW 2014-09-08T16:54:25.450

People say similar things about the Abhidhamma too. But it is probably appease the modern day readers.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T17:21:30.783

2

Are you claiming that the Pali canon is an (or is the) infallible record of what the Buddha said? The article Sources on Pre-sectarian Buddhism say it's worth comparing the Pali with the Chinese sources, and explains why. And, are you saying that this (sexism) is not your opinion at all, and that instead you're only repeating what you were told the Buddha said? If so, is that contradicted by the Kalama Sutta?

ChrisW 2014-09-08T19:55:02.850

6It doesn't contradict with Kalama sutta. Kalama sutta allows for accepting what is praised by the wise. You cannot know the answer to this question by direct knowledge, in any case. So I go by faith and yes, I do treat the Pali canon as the word of the Buddha. It's usually the practice of the Theravada tradition to preserve the Suttas and not to tamper with them to fit the attitude of the time. No, I don't see this as sexist. It is as sexist as saying that it is not fair for only women to have a menstrual cycle. I simply see it as a law of nature.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T20:26:41.753

@Sankha I guess Śrāddha is at different levels among the people here. It takes time to grow as Śrāddha indriya once you enter the path right? Later I guess when people understand the suttas and realize them through their own experience, they will understand what the 'laws of nature' you are talking about is. :)dmsp 2014-09-08T21:27:52.787

@dmsp, yes, it is important to have Saddha when you are studying the aspects of the Dhamma which you can't verify with direct knowledge. "I know everything that is possible" attitude will only strengthen the doubt in one's mind.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T21:39:35.417

1I apologize but "sexism" is man-made: sexism says that because women have a menstrual cycle, therefore they cannot be... (land-owner; politician; head of a family; head of a country; priest; judge; athlete; monk; doctor). It remains sexism whether it says so "because they have a menstrual cycle", or "because they are not allowed to go to boys' school", or "because that's what our fathers and great-grandfathers decided to teach". It seems to me possible, even plausible, that the verse was added to please contemporary society after the Buddha died: not a law of nature but a law of men / society.ChrisW 2014-09-09T10:19:11.810

3The Sutta has survived so many Buddhist councils which were designed to eliminate tampering and alien elements. I'm not assuming myself to be a better judge of what the Buddha taught compared to the learned Sangha who headed those councils, specially when I do not have direct knowledge on the matter. Also, I don't know if things like menstrual cycle, being physically weak, comparatively more emotional etc. have anything to do with women not being able to attain Buddhahood. But that is what the Sutta says and I'm not uncomfortable in accepting it.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-09T10:30:52.330

Also, it's not just this Sutta. None of the Buddhas described in Buddhawamsa are female. There were many Buddhas in the past who appeared in virtuous societies. They had similar life spans to Buddha Maitreya who will appear in the future. None of them were female.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-09T10:41:47.433

1Guys, would you please kindly stop arguing?Andrei Volkov 2014-09-09T11:52:14.720

4

I suppose the misunderstanding about this comes from the fact that "man" can mean two different things, while a woman can mean only one. The problem is present in virtually all contemporary languages - man can mean "male" or "human being". As such, my interpretation of MN 115 is simple and consistent with both AN 7.48 and SN 5.2 - only a man (a human being by itself) can achieve higher; being only a man or a woman, limited by gender, means you're limited to Māyā.

Also, I agree 100% with Andrei on Realization.

vaxquis

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 143

3

I've wondered about this myself. One way to think about it is that the Karma of a Bodhisattva always leads them to possess the best possible qualities to allow them to teach when they become a Buddha, and in societies with sexism, it would make it harder to teach and be taken seriously by the general public, so therefore, a Bodhisattva would be born as a male in a sexist society in order to be able to teach widely. If this is so, that would mean that the reason that Buddhas aren't women isn't that women are inferior, but because Buddhas always have to approach societies in a way that will allow them to be effective.

That's just my personal interpretation. I also think this principle would only apply in a sexist society, so if by the time the Buddha Metteyya will come it won't be taboo for a woman to be a leader, I think Metteyya might be born as a woman.

Bakmoon

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 6 852

1According to Anagathawamsa Maithriya Bodhisatva will have a wife called Candramukhi and a son called Brahmavaddana. His family name is mentioned as Maithriya and the first name is said to be Ajitha. So he can't be a woman.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T16:34:41.117

2I personally have a lot of problems accepting the material from the commentaries when they talk about things outside of the current Buddha Sasana. I wonder how that kind of information could be known unless it was explained by a Sammasambuddha, and if the Buddha Gotama explained it, then it would have been preserved in the Suttas. I'm not saying these kinds of stories are wrong and should be rejected, I'm just saying that for me personally it's a stretch to believe them.Bakmoon 2014-09-08T17:27:37.133

Well, the details about the Maithrya Buddha are preached by the Buddha himself. "The Buddha with His divine vision and insight predicted that there will be a kingdom in Benares known as Kethumathie, which will be a glorious city inhabited by very rich people..." More at http://www.ceylontoday.lk/64-47781-news-detail-buddhahood-of-maithreya-bodhisatva-announced.html I don't find it hard to believe the additional details in the commentaries. It is not unrealistic that when they wrote down the Tipitaka, they left out detailed explanations of many stories.

Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T17:59:12.980

4@Sankha I agree that the commentaries contain material from the time of the Buddha, but that doesn't mean that all of the stories in them are true. For me personally a lot of these stories are quite different in character and content from the early suttas and so I don't think they should be understood as literal historical accounts. I'm not saying it is wrong to believe in these stories, but I do think it means that we shouldn't treat them as being mandatory belief.Bakmoon 2014-09-08T18:35:16.887

One may not even treat the Tipitaka as mandatory belief. The commentaries were written by different authors at a later time. So you would expect them to be different in style. But that shouldn't necessarily cast doubts on the content.Sankha Kulathantille 2014-09-08T19:38:56.760

2

MN 115 (Bahudhātuka Sutta) does not state a woman cannot be an arahant (fully enlightened being). MN 115 (Bahudhātuka Sutta) only states a woman cannot be the Sammasambuddha.

There is only one Sammasambuddha in a world system. In the current world system, the only Sammasambuddha is Gotama.

Importantly, a Sammasambuddha is the Buddha that:

(i) discovers enlightenment without a teacher, when Buddhism does not exist in the world; and

(ii) commences the Buddhist religion by teaching his discovery.

A Buddha that attains or discovers enlightenment without a teacher but does not teach & does not start the Buddhism religion is not a Sammasambuddha. Instead, they are a silent Buddha.

Thus, a woman cannot be a Sammasambuddha. This is not an unreasonable point of view since it is difficult for a woman to convince men who believe in God or Atman that all things are not-self.

In the future, if the Buddha-Dhamma disappears, it is unlikely (impossible) the new Sammasambuddha will be a woman for the same reasons.

Since woman are not particularly to partial to the teaching of anatta (not-self), it is unlikely a female Sammasambuddha would arise in a matriarchal society since women are less likely than men to accept the teaching of anatta because the majority of women have stronger reproductive instincts than men.

Thus, it is likely MN 115 is correct when it states it is impossible for a Sammasambuddha to be a woman. Modern ideas of "feminism" will not change this.

Dhammadhatu

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 20 581

Just a small correction. Only one Buddha appear in all the world systems. As far as I know the Buddha can contact one billion fold world systems and preach Dhamma at once. So only one Buddha within that time. :)Akila Hettiarachchi 2017-02-17T17:26:29.873

1

The Pali texts are quite misogynistic and clearly state that a female can never become a Buddha due to the fact that she experiences several karmic disadvantages compared to males, especially menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth, but also including inferior social status (see Peter Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism, p. 285).

Moreover, females are the "door" through which rebirth occurs, and are thus identified with samsara. Since the bodhisattva in his final birth must be the "best of men," free of all ordinary afflictions, though not yet a Buddha, a bodhisattva will never be reborn as a female in his final rebirth. The 32 marks of a great man clearly include exclusively male attributes. There is no denying that this is the orthodox or traditional attitude of those who accept the Pali Canon as their basis.

Whether this was the actual teaching of the Buddha is less clear, since the Buddha stated that females could attain nirvana and clearly ordained nuns. He also implied that the sangha must include nuns to be complete, and explicitly affirmed women's rights as the fifth principle of a good and strong society. One can criticize this view logically on the grounds that men also suffer various gender-related afflictions, such as excessive lust, aggression, violence, etc. More than five hundred female arhants are mentioned in the Pali Canon (ibid). The Chinese Tientai school and Tibetan Buddhism both recognize female Buddhas (op. cit., p. 186).

The Dalai Lama has clearly stated that a female could become a Dalai Lama, but of course the Dalai Lama is a bodhisattva, not a Buddha, and is not experiencing his final birth (otherwise there would be no lineage of Dalai Lamas). Ajahn Brahm has criticized this doctrine publicly, for which offence he was expelled from his lineage in Thailand. Female ordination is still prohibited in Thailand so far as I know. I have presented a talk on this topic entitled "The Status of Women in Ancient India and the Pali Tradition."

user4970

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation:

1Why don't you read my correct answer rather than assert "the Buddha was unclear" & try to reinvent the wheel like everyone else? Also, which misogynistic Pali texts are being referred to? Please quote them. Thank youDhammadhatu 2016-11-11T19:21:09.653

I quote many of these texts in the talk I cited, q.v. They are too numerous to quote in a comment. I have however found additional texts, so give me a few days and I will collect the references in a comment if there is enough space. They are quite offensive but also interesting as a reflection of the misogyny of the Sri Lankan male monastic redactors of the Pali Canon. – None – 2016-11-11T19:27:56.047

DN 16:5-9 (ii 143); 19:49 (ii 246); 21:1.12 (ii 273); 23:13 (ii 332); 32:7 (iii 200) (Walshe); MN 21; 67.19 (I 462); 73.11 I 491); 115.15 (iii 66) (Nanamoli); SN I.III.3.I.16(6); I.IX.9.6; II.IX.20.10; IV.III.37.I.1(1); IV.III.37.IIV.III.37.I(3) (Bodhi); AN I.XV (i, 27); II.VI(10) (i, 77); III.I.VIII.79(ii) (III, 8, 78); III.I.XIII.127(i, 281); IV.II.VIII.x(80); IV.II.XX.vii(197) (ii, 202); V.III.IV.iii(33) (iii, 36). V.III.VI.v(55) (v, vi, 54). V.III.XXIII.v(225) (V, XXIII, 222); V.III.XXIII.vi(226) (iii, 259); V,III,XXIII.ix(220) (V, XXIII, 227); V.III.XXIIII.x(230) (iii, 261); VI.V.x(52) (i – None – 2016-11-12T06:24:17.167

ii, 362); VII.IV.V.viii(48) (iv, 54); VIII.II.v(15) (IV, 194); VIII.II.vii(17) (VIII, II, 16); VIII.III.vii(27) (IV, 221); VIII.V.vi(46) (IV, 263); VIII.V.ix(49)(iv, 266); VIII.VI.1(51) (VIII, vi, 51); X.V.VIII.ii(72) (v, 134); X.VIIIv(75) (X, VIII, 75); X.VIII.v(75)[143] (V, 141) (Hare); AN I.I.1(1); I.XV.279(12)-283(16) (I 28); II.VI.61(10); III.III.129(7)(1) (I 282); IV.III.80(10); V.I.II.I.55(5) (III 69); V.III.229(9) (III 261); VIII.V.46(6) (IV 265); VIII.V.47(7) (IV 270); VIII.V.48(8) (IV 270); VIII.V.49(9) (IV 270, 271, 273); VIII.II.I.51(1) (IV 274); X.III.75(5) (V 140); X.V.I.213(3) ( – None – 2016-11-12T06:26:34.940

V 287); X.V.I.214(4) (V 287); X.V.I.215(5) (V 287) (Bodhi) – None – 2016-11-12T06:28:35.780

0

Neither a man nor a woman can become a Buddha. Only a Bodhisattva having completed the necessary parami can become a Buddha. In that last life of the Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva takes on a masculine shape. This is what is said in the Theravada texts.

Kaveenga Wijayasekara

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 1 325

-4

‎“If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.” - The 14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama has said that if somebody proves to him that reincarnation is not real, he will stop believing in it. That is because truth trumps scripture. We learn more and more as time goes on, and in fact we are encouraged to in scripture. We are not stuck in a past century with the limited knowledge of that century.

Today, male-female equality is a scientifically-proven fact.

Therefore you cannot truthfully say “only men can …” or “only women can …” because you are wrong in both cases.

For any man that doubts this, you can pick any field of human endeavor, and there is a woman alive somewhere right now who is better at it than you. Doesn’t matter if it is science or fighting or what. There is a female mathematician somewhere right now who can run circles around you in math. There is a female special forces soldier somewhere who could kill you in 2 seconds before you got a punch in.

Science has also shown that we all start out in the womb as female. So if you believe only men can be buddhas, why would a male buddha who can only be reincarnated as a male buddha start out in the womb as female?

So, yes, if men can be buddhas women can be buddhas because women are scientifically-proven to be equal to men. Any particular buddha you want to refer to can be reincarnated as a woman or a man, and any man or woman can become a buddha in this life or the next. No distinction based on gender can be truthfully made. Again, doesn’t matter what scripture says.

Simon White

Posted 2014-09-08T11:02:53.233

Reputation: 121

1

Actually science has revealed in great detail the physical and mental differences between the sexes. For instance almost no female will have a grip strength greater than the median male. "The results of female national elite athletes even indicate that the strength level attainable by extremely high training will rarely surpass the 50th percentile of untrained or not specifically trained men." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17186303

WorBlux 2016-03-05T22:18:27.317