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Amida Buddha's 48 Vows

 
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Tornadoes28
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:23 pm    Post subject: Amida Buddha's 48 Vows Reply with quote
For Jodo Shin Buddhists, the 18th vow of the 48 vows of Amida Buddha is the primary vow. I actually had not previously read all the other vows until today. The 35th vow made me curious. It reads:

Quote:
If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.


I understand that women in historical or ancient Buddhism are held at lower or different standard or level but this vow is still unusual to read. Does anyone know how Buddhist or Buddhist teachers today would explain this vow? Obviously modern Buddhism I believe does not treat women differently but if Jodo Shin Buddhists believe one vow, why not all. How can certain vows be given strong faith but others explained away or ignored?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It is still there in cases. When monks go 托鉢 takahatsu some sects will not receive a gift from a woman's hand. Things evolve, but slowly. The monastic orders of most religions have historically considered a woman's touch as a distraction from religious pursuit. It could lead to sin. We must remember these are patriarchal institutions that have come from elimination of the female aspects in their early history. Misogyny at a fundamental level and insidious. John
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Tornadoes28
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks John. I have read elsewhere that this vow from Chinese could be translated a little differently as well. Basically that the word for female-person could also be translated as "effeminate" (weak, wimpy). Not sure if that is much better though.

Below is the explanation from this website:
http://www.livingdharma.org/Living.Dharma.Articles/WomenInBuddhism4.html


Quote:
During my studies in Japan, I found there is a different way of interpreting the 35th vow. One of my professors at Otani University, Akira Hataya, said the use of the word nyonin in Chinese translations of Buddhist texts, though normally read as a compound noun "female-person" (i.e., woman), could also be read as an adjective and noun memeshii hito, "effeminate (weak, wimpy) person," referring to either a man or a woman. From this, I came to feel that Buddhist texts are not trying to exclude women from the path to enlightenment, but rather the Teachings admonish both sexes not to fall into the negative traits stereotyped as "feminine" - that is, being cowardly, manipulative, or parasitic on others.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
"sexes not to fall into the negative traits stereotyped as "feminine" - that is, being cowardly, manipulative, or parasitic on others"
Either way it relegates the feminine as something less. This polarisation is strongly influenced by the duality of eastern philosophy found in Yin/ Yang. Man Woman, Light Dark, Strong Weak. Although one can not exist without the other it is easy to fall into the trap of abhoring one to the detriment of the other. In physics the strong force and the weak force are essential for universal integuement, the oneness of it all, just as the Buddha realms are supposed to be. John
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Amida Buddha's 48 Vows Reply with quote
Tornadoes28 wrote:
How can certain vows be given strong faith but others explained away or ignored?


Inconsistencies in religion?? Never!
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
If I were going to rationalize it, I would note that it is for those who *want* to renounce womanhood. So the main problem would actually be that there isn't a corresponding vow for men Wink

Also, as an interesting side note: While women are requested not to touch monks in Thailand (because the monks are not supposed to touch women unless they are in a "pure" state of mind--and you can't know someone else's mind), they are at least consistent about it and request the same treatment of nuns by men.
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