Author Topic: Sexism in buddhism??  (Read 22477 times)

diamond girl

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2011, 03:32:49 PM »
While reading this thread, my thoughts are all over the place...

I even had this thought: "Women are needed to give birth to the male tulkus...." Then again it would then endorse the argument that women's role is to give birth... If giving birth to tulkus made one enlightened then we would have more female tulkus... I should not be disrespectful now... So this thought shall halt here.

I do feel it is a shame that for whatever reasons in modern times that female tulkus are not that prevalent, my point is : Is it not that people relate Compassion as the embodiment of a female figure? And is it not Compassion the is one important definition of Buddhism?

I like this and I hope that reinstating traditions will happen soon:

"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. "


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2096
    • Add me to your facebook!
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2011, 07:34:57 AM »
Just to share this article i came across on Khandro Tsering Chödrön who just passed away yesterday.

Khandro Tsering Chödrön (Wyl. mkha’ ‘gro tshe ring chos sgron) (1929-2011), the spiritual wife of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, was universally acknowledged as one of the foremost female practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism of recent times and was considered to be an emanation of Shelkar Dorje Tso.

Khandro was born in the Earth Snake year (1929) into the Aduk Lakar family of Kham Trehor, an ancient family of benefactors who supported many monasteries and teachers in Tibet dating back to the time of Je Tsongkhapa. Her mother was Dechen Tso, a princess of Ling, who was married to the two Lakar brothers Tutob Namgyal and Sonam Tobgyal. She became Jamyang Khyentse's spiritual wife in 1948, at a time when he was in poor health and many of his disciples were urging him to take a consort to prolong his life. For the next eleven years she served as his attendant and devoted companion, receiving countless teachings and transmissions, requesting practices and prayers and putting questions to him in the form of songs.

According to Dzongsar Ngari Tulku (Tenzin Khedrup Gyatso), on one occasion [c.1952], when Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö was opening the sacred place of Khyungchen Paldzong (khyung chen dpal rdzong), known locally as Gyalgen Khyungtak (rgya rgan khyung ltag), above Dzongsar Monastery, Jamyang Khyentse, Gyarong Khandro, Khandro Tsering Chödrön and Sogyal Rinpoche all left their handprints in the solid rock.

Together with her elder sister, Tsering Wangmo whose husband Tsewang Paljor was Jamyang Khyentse's private secretary, the young Sogyal Rinpoche, Lama Chokden and a small party of family and attendants, she accompanied Jamyang Khyentse to Central Tibet in 1955, during which time her tutor Lama Tseten passed away near Yamdrok Tso. From Central Tibet the party went to India and to Sikkim, making their residence at the temple of the Royal Palace in Gangtok. Khandro continued to live there for many years after Jamyang Khyentse passed away in 1959, quietly devoting her life to constant prayer in the presence of his reliquary stupa. She has travelled to Europe and America several times at the request of her nephew Sogyal Rinpoche.

Khandro Tsering Chödrön passed away on the 30th of May 2011 in Lerab Ling. Sogyal Rinpoche and Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche were both present at the moment of her passing where she showed all the signs of attaining the final accomplishment of a great Dzogchen practitioner.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

hope rainbow

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 947
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #17 on: June 01, 2011, 03:25:00 AM »
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.

The outwards workings of Buddhism reflect the society in which Buddhism is practiced.
When there is no more sexism, or other "ost-(xyz)ism" to reflect, we'll be closer to a time when Buddhism is not needed anymore.

Big Uncle

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1995
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2011, 04:38:01 AM »
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.

Actually, I view things slightly different. What you seem to be saying, sexism is existing in Buddhism because traditional values dictates women are weaker and submissive. I beg to differ - female Tulkus are rarer in Buddhism not because Buddhist leaders recognizing them are sexist! Female Tulkus are rarer because Tulkus keep returning in a male form to benefit others. They do not pray or aspire to be male but the students and groups require that so they return in the form of a man, a male Lama. Lama Yeshe's previous live was an Abbess of a nunnery but due to her powerful aspirational prayers, he return as a man. I don't think he prayed to be a man because being a man is stronger.

On top of that, there is so much in Buddhism, especially in Tantra that venerate women. Some of the most powerful Tantric deities are female, like Tara and Vajrayogini. If you take higher Tantric initiation, part of one's vows is never to deride women. In the practice of developing compassion, we are to meditate that all beings had been our mother once before and so we have to extend our compassion to all beings with this thought in mind. All the Buddhas and Bodhisattva's are traditionally depicted slightly 'effeminate' to depict visual compassion on the beholder. Hence, there is just so much in Buddhism that uphold women as sacred, compassionate and powerful. So I don't get why you would say that sexism exists in Buddhism.


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 292
    • Email
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2011, 12:48:46 PM »
Women have always been downplayed in their spiritual roles for practical reasons. Due to men's own weakness,women are not given equal opportunity in many areas including spiritual learning. This inequality is very obvious in most of the major religions in the world.

By comparison, Buddhism is more liberal. In Vajrayana, the female energy is recognized and venerated.  We have Tara, Vajrayogini, Prajnaparamita etc.

Gender is a not an issue with the enlightened beings. The inequality between men and women is purely created by our deluded minds. With education , progressive and open views; when mental qualities are more valued than brute strength, I'm sure more female tulkus will manifest.The Buddhas will manifest according to our needs when the conditions are right.

Positive Change

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1008
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2011, 06:44:09 AM »
Most interesting indeed that the issue of sexism pervades even the sanctity of Buddhism which in all respects seems to be the most 'accepting' of all religions/schools of thought.

After all, I ask myself, why should there even be a debate/discussion whether or not there are female tulkus etc. Buddhas manifest in whatever shape or form which is most advantageous hence why not a highly attained being. Male, female, it does not really matter should it but it is so often society and it's perceptions that cloud or misguide us.


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 185
    • Email
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2011, 04:44:01 PM »
I believe this question has been satisfactorily answered, thanks to all the in depth contemplation and analysis presented here.There is no inconsistency in Buddhism, only our misconception.

Some gems which strike me most are:

1. An accomplished female practitioner could manifest as a male tulku. Therefore, there can be as many realized female masters as males. Lama Yeshe's previous incarnation was a female.

2. Enlightened beings will manifest any form  according to  which will benefit  people most. It has nothing to do with gender preferences. If people will have more faith in a male form, so be it and vice versa.

3. Enlightened beings have attained non dual wisdom  unlike ordinary folks like us who are still stuck with polarity of I and you , male and
   female, right and wrong etc.Sexism and all that it implies is an invention of ordinary minds.

4. Being reborn as a male during a time when society is patriach centred is considered  an attribute. It is not about sexism at all. it is about being born with optimum conditions to practice within a particular evolutionary period, people's spiritual level and environment. In another period, the attribute could switch to that of female.

Voila !


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 365
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2011, 09:05:32 PM »
Very nice topic to think about.  I see nuns since young and still see many of them.  But I couldn't recall one female tulku but there are many females Buddhas around! Very interesting points pointed out by all.  I personally think that gender is not a problem as a buddha female or not for the benefit of others would choose the best form to manifest. 

However, it leads me into thinking, if Vajra Yogini can manifest as a naked supreme buddha "specialize" in dispelling desire, ignorant & hatred, wouldn't it be appropriate for female tulkus to manifest likewise  into "attracting" the same like minded people? So many people these days are attracted to Vajra Yogini's practice, not because she is naked but the benefits of her supreme practice but i don't think it is convenient for a highly attained female tulku to appear in this way and talked about desire etc... Not that it will bother her, but it is what our perception of our society is today.  Clearly it shows that the society is not ready therefore i think this is part of the reason why many choose not to reincarnate to be a female tulku.  But i believe one day it will come, many more females tulkus will come because the time needed it.


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 341
    • Email
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2012, 01:27:56 PM »
Today, Buddhist women in the West generally consider institutional sexism to be vestiges of Asian culture that can be surgically excised from dharma. Some western monastic orders are co-ed, with men and women following the same rules.

In Asia, nuns' orders are working for better conditions and education, but in many countries they have a long way to go. Centuries of discrimination will not be undone overnight. Equality will be more of a struggle in some schools and cultures than in others. But there is momentum toward equality, and I see no reason why that momentum will not continue.


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 319
Re: Sexism in buddhism??
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2012, 02:49:17 PM »
It's is not sexism in Buddhism but sexism in the culture and in our mind.

Traditionally, male are looked upon as more superior than female because they were stronger in terms of their physics which was far more suitable for hunting and hard labour such as agricultural activities. Whilst female spent much of their married life in child-bearing hence they were forced to stay home to help in domestic activities.

Hence men were perceived as stronger of the two sexes and they took on the dominating role domestically, socially and politically.

I believe it is based on this scenario that most high lamas had chosen to be born as a man rather than a woman, to secure a better chance of taking a leading role in society that they were born into and in a better position to be heard, hence spread dharma. Therefore we see far more male Tulkus than their female counterparts.

It is NOT the religion that is gender bias but the environmental factors had influence the choice of gender when Tulkus planned for their own reincarnation..

Above its my thoughts, anyone has anything to add on this??
Down with the BAN!!!