Monday, 14 December 2009

Honoring the Feminine in Buddhism

Female Buddha - Orin Zebest


Five Women Buddhas
On the Winter Solstice (21st December) the FWBO will be celebrating the festival of Akasadhatesvari, as part of their cycle of honoring the Five Prajnas (five female Buddhas of the Mandala) on the day and time of the year associated with each of them.
There are many female deities in Buddhism which embody the wisdom aspect of enlightenment. Praj├▒a means 'wisdom', for example Praj├▒aparamita means 'Perfection of Wisdom' and is the name of a golden female Buddha.




 Reblogged from Dancing Dakini Wisdom:



anhonestdrug:

dancingdakini:

serendipitybylee:

The eighth day of every month, today included, is Buddha Tara Day. Tara is a female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism. She represents the virtues of success in work and achievements, and is known as the “Mother of Liberation.” According to legend, she became a Bodhisattva during her life as a princess, when she had devoted herself to the teachings of the Buddha. She eventually attained the “Thought of Enlightenment” in order to save all beings. Prior to, it was unheard of for a woman to perform this deed, so the monks (called bhiksus) advised her to pray to be reborn as a male in order to properly fulfill the teachings. Tara told the bhiksus that in the realm of Bodhisattva there is neither male nor female but only androgynous being (androgynous meaning ‘partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex’).  Tara made a promise: “There are many who desire Enlightenment in a man’s body, but none who work for the benefit of sentient beings in the body of a woman. Therefore, until samsara is empty, I shall work for the benefit of sentient beings in a woman’s body.” Samsara is a result of the accumulation of bad karma. It is the endless cycle of death and rebirth, forever bounding that person to the material world. Tara’s main purpose is to free us from this suffering, liberating us and getting us closer to reaching full enlightenment. She acts as a spiritual facilitator, guiding us through potentially difficult times and helping us to overcome samsara. “Tara is the power to transcend all things.” Isn’t it amazing how, even so many years ago, there were women who stood up for themselves and denied that men were superior? This story can be so inspiring, especially if you look deep. Don’t forget to always believe in yourself. Stand strong when you know you’re right, and stay poised even when you’re not.
(read more on tara here)

Thank you for adding Tara’s story; I was thinking of doing the same thing today and you beat me to it :) Her story is one of my favorites, and I credit Mother Tara with bringing me to the Buddhist path.

I have so much respect for Buddhism. I remember distinctly the story of a buddhist teacher (I unfortunately can’t remember the name of his role) who was asked about the lack of female buddhist teachers. He apologised, stating that it wasn’t the fault of Buddhism or in the teachings of the Buddha that this occurred, but a result of the cultural influences on people themselves and serious issue.

That was Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, my Guru/Spiritual Guide, who gave that reply to a woman who asked him that question. He’s done a lot to remove the sexism within Mahayana Buddhism, or within the New Kadampa Tradition at least, which is one big reason why myself am in the NKT.
anhonestdrug:
dancingdakini:
serendipitybylee:
The eighth day of every month, today included, is Buddha Tara Day. Tara is a female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism. She represents the virtues of success in work and achievements, and is known as the “Mother of Liberation.”

According to legend, she became a Bodhisattva during her life as a princess, when she had devoted herself to the teachings of the Buddha. She eventually attained the “Thought of Enlightenment” in order to save all beings. Prior to, it was unheard of for a woman to perform this deed, so the monks (called bhiksus) advised her to pray to be reborn as a male in order to properly fulfill the teachings. Tara told the bhiksus that in the realm of Bodhisattva there is neither male nor female but only androgynous being (androgynous meaning ‘partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex’).

 Tara made a promise:

“There are many who desire Enlightenment in a man’s body, but none who work for the benefit of sentient beings in the body of a woman. Therefore, until samsara is empty, I shall work for the benefit of sentient beings in a woman’s body.”

Samsara is a result of the accumulation of bad karma. It is the endless cycle of death and rebirth, forever bounding that person to the material world. Tara’s main purpose is to free us from this suffering, liberating us and getting us closer to reaching full enlightenment. She acts as a spiritual facilitator, guiding us through potentially difficult times and helping us to overcome samsara.

“Tara is the power to transcend all things.”

Isn’t it amazing how, even so many years ago, there were women who stood up for themselves and denied that men were superior? This story can be so inspiring, especially if you look deep.

Don’t forget to always believe in yourself. Stand strong when you know you’re right, and stay poised even when you’re not.

(read more on tara here)
Thank you for adding Tara’s story; I was thinking of doing the same thing today and you beat me to it :) Her story is one of my favorites, and I credit Mother Tara with bringing me to the Buddhist path.
I have so much respect for Buddhism. I remember distinctly the story of a buddhist teacher (I unfortunately can’t remember the name of his role) who was asked about the lack of female buddhist teachers. He apologised, stating that it wasn’t the fault of Buddhism or in the teachings of the Buddha that this occurred, but a result of the cultural influences on people themselves and serious issue.
That was Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, my Guru/Spiritual Guide, who gave that reply to a woman who asked him that question. He’s done a lot to remove the sexism within Mahayana Buddhism, or within the New Kadampa Tradition at least, which is one big reason why myself am in the NKT.




Kadampa teachings

"...It is important that we make a distinction between acknowledging gender differences and passing value judgments about those differences.  For a variety of social and cultural reasons, it is true that women are more likely to get socialized into certain values and behaviors and men are more likely to get socialized into different values and behaviors.  Different life experiences will naturally wire our mind in different ways.  Acknowledging this is not a problem.  The problems come when we grasp at these differences as being somehow inherent between the two different genders.  Such differences are the product of cultural and social forces, as well as a question of what karmic tendencies happen to be ripening in any particular life.  The second problem comes when we pass value judgments about these differences saying some qualities and characteristics are better than others in a universal sense, and so therefore one gender is better than another.  The most we can say is for certain activities certain characteristics or qualities are more effective, for example being really strong will make you a better lumberjack and being very patient will make you a better kindergarten teacher.

Fortunately, modern societies are definitively moving in the direction of a more balanced attitude between women and men, though there still remains many negative stereotypes.  But professionally speaking, a modern economy tends to favor qualities typically associated with women, such as patience, a caring and nurturing attitude, social sense and so forth.  Jobs in medicine, education, basically any service are more geared towards these qualities.  Unsurprisingly, women today are graduating at higher rates than men, and entering the professional work force at higher rates than men.  But there still tends to be prejudice against women who occupy higher positions where decisions are made, and in the math and sciences.  We should make a point to be mindful where we might have prejudicial attitudes against women, and actively seek to correct them.

Likewise, there is also a growing tendency for some women to realize that the modern world is breaking in their direction and they conclude that they are better than men in some universal sense.  It is perfectly conceivable as the economy evolves for in a few hundred years attitudes reverse and we have a societal problem of reverse sexism against men.  Both attitudes are equally wrong.

Finally, it should also be noted that there still tends to be a great deal of prejudicial attitudes that show up with respect to fixed notions of sexual identity and preference.  Sexual identity is how much one conventionally identifies with being male or female.  Previously, thinking was if you have a male body you should identify with being male, and if you don’t, then there is something wrong with you.  Highly effeminate individuals who happen to be in a male body are considered an aberration. Likewise highly masculine individuals who happen to be in a female body are considered an aberration.  The reality is there is a full spectrum of possibilities of highly effeminate individuals in female bodies to highly masculine individuals in male bodies, and all sorts of permutations in between.

What we identify with is the fruit of what ripened effects, what tendencies similar to the cause ripened in any given life, and what environmental effects one is exposed to.  The ripened effect determines what body we take on, the tendencies similar to the cause determine what qualities we identify with.  Our life experience, upbringing and socio-cultural environment are all the fruit of karmic environmental effects.  Just as there are infinite karmic combinations possible, so too there will be infinite combinations of bodies and senses of identity.  All are equally good, just different.

In the same way, there is a wide variety of sexual preferences one could have.  What we are attracted to sexually is likewise a product of different ripened effects, tendencies similar to the cause and environmental effects.  For a variety of biological reasons, those born male are more likely to be attracted to those born female, but not absolutely so.  For purely karmic reasons, it is perfect possible that the tendencies similar to the cause of being attracted to women could ripen at the same time as the ripened effect of being born a woman ripens.  This would karmically create a lesbian.  Someone could grow up in a social environment where different sexual preferences are fully respected or fully persecuted.  This will also have an effect on how the different karma ripens over the course of an individual’s lifetime.  Once again, there is a full spectrum of possibilities of a highly effeminate individual born into a female body who is intensely and unambiguously attracted to men to a highly masculine individual born into a male body who is intensely and unambiguously attracted to women, and there is every possible combination in between.  From a spiritual point of view, all of these different combinations are equally good, just in different ways.  From a Buddhist point of view, there is no basis for discriminatory or judgmental attitudes towards any of these combinations.

The Tantric solution to all of these forms of prejudicial attitudes is to view everyone equally as emanations of Heruka and Vajrayogini.  Whether you view somebody as Heruka or as Vajrayogini, both deities are there.  Both are filled with great and powerful sexual energy, both male and female, in perfect harmony though slightly different balances.  Whether somebody is a Heruka or Vajrayogini practitioner has absolutely nothing to do with whether they are male or female, gay or straight, or anything else.  It is all a function of different karmic feeling and predisposition.  From a spiritual point of view, both are equally good just in different ways."   From Kadampa Working Dad




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