The Position of Women in Buddhism

Nowadays, women play an increasing influence on society. What we are doing now is to look at the role of women from a Buddhist perspective.

Women in Early Buddhism
Gautama Buddha, the creator of Buddhism, allowed women to participate in his monastic community and fully join in the practice of Buddhist teachings. However, it is said that women have to be reborn male if they want to pursue spiritual progress and final liberation. The early texts state that a nun had to bow to a monk as a show of inferiority to males.

Gender limit was seen as a hindrance to achieve nirvana at that time, and records of women’s potential for spiritual attainment were rare.

Women and Buddhahood

The Buddha did admit that a woman could attain enlightenment, pointing out that there can be a female Buddha. Yeshe Tsogyal, is one example of a woman accepted as a female Buddha. She transcended from a worldly existence to become a fully enlightened Buddha.

According to The Dalai Lama, men are primarily responsible for warfare, since they are physically good at aggressive behaviors. However, women are more likely to be sensitive to others’ sufferings. If the world is controlled by women, there will be less danger and war in this world. On the other hand, women tend to be difficult if they really take charge of world issues. Apparently, The Dalai Lama is not that supportive of women’s influences in society.

Buddhist View on Women’s Marriage
Buddhism considers death as a natural thing, so a woman won’t suffer moral degradation if she becomes a widow. Her social status will remain the same as before. Nor does she have to isolate herself from social ceremonies and events. Most importantly, she can get remarried without bearing insult or religious blame.

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