The gender of “woman” has held and still holds a different, mostly lower, position in the different Buddhist traditions. The details are usually related to the culture of the surrounding society.
However, the Buddha himself admitted women fully to the order, after the logic was presented to him by Ananda:
- “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.”
- from the Pali Canon, quoted in Buddhism.Stackexchange.com
There are many stories in the Dhammapada about women in the enlightened state.
Women in Buddhism
Teachers and enlightened beings of the feminine persuasion — historical and otherwise.
- Mahapajapati Gotami [Gautama Buddha, ~600 BCE] the first bhikkhuni
- Motoko Ikebe
meditator and teacher
- Also available: from our server as PDF on usb drive after retreat“Truly, just sit … That’s all there is.”
About with many quotes.
- Pat Wilkinson [Thai Theravada, 1900s] one of the earliest Western Buddhist nuns.
- Sansanee Sthirasuta, Ven. Mae Chee [Thai Theravada, 1900s-present] founder and Director of Sathira-Dhammasathan Center in Bangkok.
- Search “famous female monks” at Google.com
Women in the Pali Canon
Suttas about specific Buddhist women, or about the role of women in general.
Women in Thailand Pāli tradition (Theravāda)
“Thailand has a rich and ancient history of women in Buddhism, from the 3rd century BCE, when Asokan-era arahant missionaries Sona and Uttara Thera came from India to the ancient land of Suvarnabhumi first sharing the Buddha’s teaching, ordaining more than 3,000 noble men and 1,500 noble women as bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. This was the foundation of Buddhism in Thailand.”[ref]
- Dhammananda, a female Thai monk
“Before Dhammananda, there were [no female monks] at all. Prohibited from ordination in Thailand, she hacked the system in 2001 by flying to Sri Lanka, which started ordaining women in the mid-1990s.”
Dhammananda says “My intention is to insist that we return to the right path.”
The state-backed Buddhist hierarchy regards Dhammananda and her flock as imposters. “That’s their problem,” Dhammananda says. “That’s their own ignorance, which they’ll have to overcome.” … “I cannot put the ignorance of all the people in the whole world on my shoulders.”
Dhammananda Bhikkhuni at Wikipedia.org
Books by Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
- Sansanee Sthirasuta, Ven. Mae Chee, founder and Director of Sathira-Dhammasathan Center in Bangkok.
- Thai Bhikkhunis website of Songdhammakalyani Monastery, near Bangkok.
- Thai Women in Buddhism, book by Chatsumarn Kabilsingh (now Dhammananda Bhikkhuni)
“The ‘core teaching of Buddhism that deals directly with the spiritual path … is free from contextual and gender bias by its very nature. … Buddha’s teachings transcend gender difference.’ The highest goal of Buddhism, enlightenment, and the spiritual path leading to it, are available to all sentient beings without discrimination.”
- Search “women in theravada” at Google.com
- Search “women in thai buddhism” at Google.com
More discussions about women in Buddhism
- Bhikkhunī, at Wikipedia
- Buddhism and women, at Wikipedia.
- Can the Buddha ever be a woman? Discussion at Buddhism.Stackexchange.com
- Also available (but without all the excellent comments) from our server as PDF
- International Congress on Buddhist Women’s Role in the Sangha, at Wikipedia