June 4, 2012
Buddhism Reading Report
Religions have set rules and ways of living for civilizations for thousands of years. Among some of the greatest existing religions now is Buddhism. Buddhism for many is now a way of life that makes no distinction between an individual and its environment. The Dharma or Buddha’s teachings like stated in The Buddha’s Early Life reading, dictate to treat others with patience and compassion whether at home or out in the world with strangers. Since one’s happiness and living conditions are the product of each individual’s actions. In an excerpt from the Digha Nikaya 31, a Buddhist scripture from the Sutta Pikata that forms ...view middle of the document...
However, it greatly contradicts with other Buddhist historical views of the same period.
Although Buddhism promotes equal respect and compassion for each it did not eliminate the historically engraved inferiority views towards women, which contradicts the Digha Nikaya. In the reading, The Position Of Women In Buddhism by Dr. L. S. Dewaraja we see perfect examples of the varying statuses of women in different civilizations who practiced the Buddha’s teachings. For instance, in ancient India women held an honorable place in early society. They could participate in all religious ceremonies and had access to the highest knowledge of Buddhism. As the religion became a mass ritual, there appeared a downward trend for women, which put them in an inferior status in society. The reading includes references made that described being reborn as a woman as bad Karma or as a sanction. In Thailand, in 1399 A.D. the Queen Mother founded a monastery and stated the following quote at the observance, “ By the power of merit, may I be reborn as a male…” The Queen is obviously in a high socio-economic status. She sees being reborn as man as an even higher prestigious state to attain for spiritual reasons. Which demonstrates that women whatever their status was, had accepted the notion of female inferiority and it influenced all her aspects of life in society. In addition, we find a compulsive argument made in Cullavagga, Ch. 10 Part of the Vinaya (Rules of Monastics) Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu that says in the Buddha’s eyes, only through male leadership will the survival of the true Dhamma prolong. Yet, the story makes clear that it is not a gender issue of whether women can form part of Sangha’s institution structure but if women are given the chance to obtain noble attainments it is their weakness that will cut in half the existence of the true Dhamma from 1,000 to 500 years. Thus, women were seen as weak beings whose only purpose was to please men and reproduce. There is a sea of examples that demonstrate beliefs of women as inferior throughout the lay people.
Now according to Digha Nikaya 31 a wife has different but specific duties herself as well depicted in the following excerpt from the, “In five ways should a wife, ministered to by her husband… love him: performing her duties as well, by giving hospitality to their relatives, by being faithful to him, by supervising their money and by skillfully doing all her work. DN31”. Women are expected to supervise the household, which includes arranging hospitality for the husband’s relatives and making sure she is a good, skillful host. Even though the duties expected from each other were different they all carried equal weight and both are required to be faithful. The depiction of the excerpt in the text goes on explaining, “ Only in that integrity and commitment can a lasting relationship blossom”, which goes back to the essence of the Buddha’s teaching of having patience and treating others in...