Author Topic: Sexism in buddhism??  (Read 22163 times)

DSFriend

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Sexism in buddhism??
« on: May 23, 2011, 04:43:09 PM »
As we know, there are female enlightened deities but female tulkus are unheard of, if not rare. I believe that the enlightened beings can take on as many forms.

I believe female tulkus do exists as there are female enlightened female buddhas. But are they recognized if not why?

jessicajameson

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 07:30:52 PM »
On Encyclopedia.com (it may not be the most accurate site for Buddhist terminology, but nonetheless), the "Term for a Tibetan entity recognized in a present incarnation. Tibetan Buddhism teaches that highly evolved individuals become spiritually liberated by abandoning the sense of ego or separate identity, but the spiritual forces comprising such an individual may still elect to be reborn for the benefit of other people."

It can't possibly be that highly attained beings all reincarnate back as males. What about Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, Ven Khandro Tsering Paldron Rinpoche etc?

They're all very compassionate beings who show signs of a true Bodhisattva - are they not in control of their rebirth, and hence didn't intentionally be reborn to benefit others?

What is the criteria to be recognized as a tulku?

Positive Change

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2011, 05:51:40 AM »
It is interesting to find very few female tulkus indeed. I have read somewhere that the most prestigious female tulku lineage is that of the Dorje Phagmo of Samding Monastery. Perhaps it is due to geography rather than sexism as the link below illustrates how certain countries tend to have more males than females and vice versa:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_sex_ratio

However, according to the Fisher's Principle, it explains why the sex ratio of most species is approximately 1:1. It was famously outlined by Ronald Fisher in his 1930 book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection.

W.D. Hamilton gave the following basic explanation in his 1967 paper on "Extraordinary sex ratios", given the condition that males and females cost equal amounts to produce:

1. Suppose male births are less common than female.
2. A newborn male then has better mating prospects than a newborn female, and therefore can expect to have more offspring.
3. Therefore parents genetically disposed to produce males tend to have more than average numbers of grandchildren born to them.
4. Therefore the genes for male-producing tendencies spread, and male births become more common.
5. As the 1:1 sex ratio is approached, the advantage associated with producing males dies away.
6. The same reasoning holds if females are substituted for males through-out. Therefore 1:1 is the equilibrium ratio.

Hence, from my basic understanding, when a tulku chooses to take rebirth in a particular country in this worldly realm they do so with the intent to best serve the Dharma and if being male accomplishes this better (no disrespect to females) in this day and age, it is not Buddhism that says men are better than women but our deluded world that projects this.

Having said that, we have come a long way since the days of the feminist movement for equality yet we somehow remain where we were in our mindset... That is my two cents worth anyway...

WisdomBeing

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 10:19:54 AM »
i do think there is some sexism in Buddhism which is probably the result of the patriarchal society we live in.

I was quite shocked to read a few days ago, an article on the huffingtonpost which said that it was only recently that Geshe degrees were granted to women!! (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michaela-haas/buddhism-women_b_862798.html). Venerable Kelsang Wangmo is the first to receive this degree, which is the equivalent of a doctorate in Western universities. It's interesting that 'Wangmo' means 'female power'! I had not thought that nuns were so discriminated against!

I also didn't know that Tibetan Buddhists did not allow full ordination of women. This same article states that the 14th Dalai Lama has been advocating change... he says, "This has made me somewhat uncomfortable, especially since the Buddha gave equal opportunities to women. But we, even as followers of Buddha, neglected that. In the last few centuries, we completely neglected the quality of religious studies in nunneries. For the last forty years, ever since we've been in India, nunneries have developed better. Then, we introduced the same levels of studies for both males and females. Now it is possible for both men and women to get doctorates in Buddhist studies."

However, in this same article, the Dalai Lama stresses that he cannot simply dictate change -- the whole community of senior Tibetan masters would need to agree to change the traditional rules.

Going back to one of the raison d'etre of this website - i find it very interesting that he says he cannot simply dictate change when he did just do that with regard to Shugden! But anyway, I shall not digress.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

Helena

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2011, 03:33:54 PM »
Interesting discussion!

Sorry, I have been travelling a lot and have not been checking into the Forum lately. But this thread does provoke some unanswered questions.

1) WHY IS IT SO RARE TO FIND FEMALE TULKUS?

2) WHY A FEMALE COULDN'T BE FULLY ORDAINED?

3) WHY IS IT ONLY RECENTLY THAT FEMALES CAN STUDY FOR THE GESHE TITLE?

If Buddhism is all fair, then why the different treatment?

There must be some logical explanation to all of this. I would love to learn more if anyone has some more information to share.

I am also aware that Buddhism does evolve with the times, to suit the mentality of the people of that era. However the essence of Buddhism will not change.

WB, you made an interesting comment about HH Dalai Lama's comment on how he cannot simply make a change. Yet, he rightly did so with Dorje Shugden.

I am beginning to think that the contradictions are deliberate in the grand theatre of illusory play.

Helena

DSFriend

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 06:55:00 AM »
i do think there is some sexism in Buddhism which is probably the result of the patriarchal society we live in.

I was quite shocked to read a few days ago, an article on the huffingtonpost which said that it was only recently that Geshe degrees were granted to women!! (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michaela-haas/buddhism-women_b_862798.html). Venerable Kelsang Wangmo is the first to receive this degree, which is the equivalent of a doctorate in Western universities. It's interesting that 'Wangmo' means 'female power'! I had not thought that nuns were so discriminated against!


I certainly wasn't aware of this information. What I knew of the difficulties in obtaining teachings was from reading Vicky Mackenzie's book  "Cave in the Snow" about the inspiring biography of Tenzin Palmo. Somehow I just presumed that the situation has changed.

From what you have provided, I googled and found this post with pictures http://ibd-buddhist.blogspot.com/2011/04/geshe-kelsang-wangmo-graduation-day.html.  I rejoice very much for Geshe Kelsang Wangmo.

I also didn't know that Tibetan Buddhists did not allow full ordination of women. This same article states that the 14th Dalai Lama has been advocating change... he says, "This has made me somewhat uncomfortable, especially since the Buddha gave equal opportunities to women. But we, even as followers of Buddha, neglected that. In the last few centuries, we completely neglected the quality of religious studies in nunneries. For the last forty years, ever since we've been in India, nunneries have developed better. Then, we introduced the same levels of studies for both males and females. Now it is possible for both men and women to get doctorates in Buddhist studies."

However, in this same article, the Dalai Lama stresses that he cannot simply dictate change -- the whole community of senior Tibetan masters would need to agree to change the traditional rules.

Going back to one of the raison d'etre of this website - i find it very interesting that he says he cannot simply dictate change when he did just do that with regard to Shugden! But anyway, I shall not digress.


So there are not that many nunneries, besides women not getting full ordination and accessibility to teachings. I have been curious as to the reasons, and am looking forward to the sharing in here...

much thanks

hope rainbow

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2011, 10:52:37 AM »
One could argue that in ancient India and Tibet, being a woman made it more risky to venture alone.
For example, a woman meditating alone in a cave for a long time could be subjected to rape, when that is an unlikely event for a man.
Then there may be cultural imprints that tainted some aspects of the monastical rules.

hope rainbow

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2011, 10:53:09 AM »
In the lamrim (LITPOYH) there is also mention that hermaphrodites and eunuchs are not allowed to become monks, I also wonder why in these cases...

LosangKhyentse

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2011, 06:29:34 AM »
Seated (full body) is a picture of Pakpa Samding Rinpoche. A very high ranking female Tulku. She is considered an emanation of Vajra Yogini. She is alive in residing in Lhasa now.

Jetsun Shungsep Rinpoche (with glasses on) who lived beyond 100 and was considered to have become one with 1,000 Armed Avalokitesvara. She had visions of Lokeshvara always and many saw her as Lokesvara in visions.

TK
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 06:37:16 AM by Admin »

jessicajameson

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2011, 07:14:54 AM »
In Liberation in the Palm of your hands, one of the 8 ripen effects is to be born as a man.

I honestly don't see any disadvantages of being born as a woman, and think that there are actually a few advantages of being born as a woman in THIS lifetime. Times are different, society now respect women.

We have the freedom to choose what we want to do, whether it be climbing the corporate ladder in a multi-national firm, working in the U.N and creating a change or choosing to use ones life to serve the Dharma.

However, being born during the time Shakyamuni Buddha walked on Earth, I don't think that women had the same level of equality . The women had to serve the men who were working, by taking care of the children, elderly parents, cooking, cleaning etc. Time for Dharma would be minimal.

I think that even if you were born a tulku, proper grooming and upbringing is needed to be "spotted" and then recognized as a tulku. So even if you did show signs that you were, say, inclined to the Dharma, society would have pressured you to do what women were suppose to do.

If a tulku thought that by being reborn as woman in his/her next lifetime would benefit many, I'm sure he/she would choose to do so.

Thank you tk for the photos of Pakpa Samding Rinpoche and Jetsun Shungsep Rinpoche.

If you guys don't mind me asking, does someone have to have the word "tulku" in their name/title to be seen and recognized as one?

jessicajameson

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2011, 07:23:08 AM »
This thread is quite interesting, and it links to "Sexism in Buddhism":

http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=1102.0

DSFriend talked about how Tenzin Palmo was not allowed "to learn rituals, receive higher empowerments, and teachings other than just listening to some buddhist stories...all because the female form is considered a weaker sex, an inferior born, filthy and not a vessel of the Law.

... and then she (Tenzin Palmo) made a vow to return again and again to show that Enlightenment can be attained thru this form. Sure does brings to mind how Goddess Tara arose."

Tenzin Palmo spent 12 years in solitary retreat in a cave.

Maybe to go through "hardships" faced by women doing Dharma, they are mere obstacles that, if overcome can accelerate our practice, or if not overcome can decline our practice!

heartjewel

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 10:48:23 AM »
I think in these days women are more powerful than men in all respects. When we say there are no female Tulkus in this age and era. Without being recognised as a Tulku the female who are strong and powerful these days may be the manisfestation of Tulkus. In Tibetan Buddhism we can only tell that there are only male Tulkus. What about in other types of Buddhism or Religion like mother Theresa or the many other females who are outstanding in their many works of compassion and charity. They can be in the guise of Samaric Beings. Buddhism or Tulkus are just labels pasted on any sentient beings.  If you ask me I would say sexism still exits in Buddhism. In the tradition and culture  of the older generation female should be considered the weaker and more submissive sex even though they have power or intelligence. The younger generation have a different sort of perception that as long you are capable there is no line drawn to your status.

Helena

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2011, 06:02:55 PM »
I can't get my mind off this topic and it has led me to find out more. Thanks, TK for posting the valuable information on the female Tullkus.

There is actually a movie coming up on Tulkus. It's made by Gesar Mukpo. It offers an interesting perspective, although it may not entirely explain why there are no female Tulkus. You can view the trailer here http://fullcontactenlightenment.com/2010/04/tulku-film-by-gesar-mukpo-is-now-available-for-order/

This is their description of the film -

Tulku is a documentary film about young people caught between the modern culture they were born into and the ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture from which they were reborn. They are Western tulkus ‐ all of them recognized when they were children as reincarnations of great Tibetan Buddhist masters. Filmmaker Gesar Mukpo is one of them. In this film, he sets out to meet others like him ‐ young people struggling between modern and ancient, East and West.

As I scanned through the net, I discovered that there are some practical explanations offered on why there were so few female Tulkus.

For one, the females' roles were mostly confined as home makers, wives and motherhood in the past. Those roles have evolved into traditions in some cultures. And the fact that we live in a largely patriarch society, women roles are not 'traditionally' synonymous with powerful positions.

So, if we look at Tibet, it is really even more patriachial than most. And its spiritual positions were really powerful positions. The most powerful Tulku being the HHDL. Hence, I would say, some measure of enforcement from the men had something to do with the very lack of female Tulkus. Reinforced by the fact that women did not really venture into monastic life but more of life of marriage and motherhood.

The below is extracted from wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Buddhism

Limitations on Women's Attainments in Buddhism
According to Bernard Faure, "Like most clerical discourses, Buddhism is indeed relentlessly misogynist, but as far as misogynist discourses go, it is one of the most flexible and open to multiplicity and contradiction."[17]
In the Buddhist tradition, positions of apparently worldly power are often a reflection of the spiritual achievements of the individual. For example, any gods are living in higher realms than a human being and therefore have a certain level of spiritual attainment. Cakravartins and Buddhas are also more spiritual advanced than an ordinary human being. However, as Zen nun Heng-Ching Shih states, women in Buddhism are said to have five obstacles, namely being incapable of becoming a Brahma King, `Sakra` , King `Mara` , Cakravartin or Buddha.[16] This is based on the statement of Gautama Buddha in the Bahudh?tuka-sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya in the Pali Canon that it is impossible that a woman should be "the perfectly rightfully Enlightened One'", "the Universal Monarch", "the King of Gods", "the King of Death" or "Brahmaa'".[18]


This is extracted from Shambala Sun - http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=1506

In most Buddhist cultures throughout history, women have been seen as lesser beings. The dominant view has been that they’re not capable of achieving enlightenment, and that their births are lower ones. There are nunneries in Tibet and in exile in India, but the religious education offered to the nuns has generally been poor. With the help of the Dalai Lama and others, this is changing now. Still, with the exception of Jetsun Khusola, who lives in Vancouver and doesn’t teach much anymore, Khandro Rinpoche is the only female Tibetan teacher to have come to the West. It’s not that there aren’t any excellent female practitioners and teachers in Tibet and India—there are—but they have chosen, for a variety of reasons, to remain under the radar, to have few students, or no students at all. They don’t want to teach publicly to large groups, they don’t want a name. Khandro Rinpoche, on the other hand, understands her responsibility: it is, in part, to encourage and inspire women, particularly Tibetan women, to take their seats as teachers of the dharma. This trailblazing is bold, for obvious reasons, and it’s brave.

“Women in patriarchal systems are haunted by lack of confidence and fear of being leaders,” says Judith Simmer-Brown, author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. “But Khandro Rinpoche has unfailingly challenged women to take a risk in their practice and their lives, even while she has cautioned them about excessive emotionality or a merely political response.  She is deeply committed to practice and realization as the key to empowerment for women.”


This topic reminds me the story of TARA and why she chose to always come back as a woman to prove that women can be ordained and enlightened.

However history and tradition have set the stage, it doesn't mean that the play has to continue that way and things cannot change.

Vajrayogini is definitely female from head to toe and all the most powerful Masters of the past and present hold HER in such high regard.

Times do evolve and things do change. It may take a while but things are changing as it is.

The fact that there are female Tulkus means that the possibility is real and it can be so. Whether female Tulkus will appear more than before, than it is entirely up to the females of our time and the future.

This is an interesting article - THE GRAND FINALE

Source: http://www.drukpacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=171%3Athe-grand-finale&catid=65%3Alive-news&Itemid=113&lang=en

Prior to the closing ceremonies, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa surprised the participants by enthroning a female tulku. After the enthronement, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa shared with the participants that a reincarnate tulku may return in any form, so certainly a female tulku is possible. In a previous interview during ADC, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa expressed his sadness over the loss of the female lineage holders and the Bhikshuni tradition. When journalists asked His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa if He was attempting to “modernize” religion, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa responded that he is not “modernizing” religion, but reviving its ancient traditions. Originally female and male practitioners were considered equal, but during modern times this was altered. As such, His Holiness is reviving old traditions for modern times, rather than “modernizing” religion.


I believe the change is already here.  :)
Helena

shugdentruth

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2011, 01:55:42 PM »
Very interesting topic. But can't a dakini or a female buddha manifest as a man? Isn't the mind stream more important that the physical appearance?
In my opinion, I think in this current time, it is more suitable for Tulkus to manifest as men simply because, like stated by many, its safer for a man to go around alone and also the monastries are occupied majority by men. Having a female there may not be so good for the minds of non-tulkus or normal people who want to become a monk. A lady can be very distracting.
But times may be changing, in the past, women were never involved in politics. But in current times, there are many women in politics. Perhaps the time will come where tulkus will manifest as ladies.

Douglas Royce

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Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2011, 02:04:37 PM »
This is interesting. I hadn't thought about that.

What comes to my mind immediately is that it may not be a case of fewer female Tulkus in the past, but may be a case of the timing was right for female tulkus to manifest as yet. As many already have shared, the past was dominated by men and controlled by men. Hence, it would not have made any sense or bring any benefit for any female tulkus to manifest. But times are changing and perhaps, it would be more beneficial for female tulkus to appear now.

I like what Shugdentruth suggested - who is to say that female Buddhas were not manifesting as men and vice versa. There is no distinction in gender for Enlightened Beings.
Doug