From ‘On Respectful Bowing Will Secure the Very Marrow of the Way’, in the “Shōbōgenzō”, by Eihei Dōgen

Kuan-yan_bodhisattva,_Northern_Sung_dynasty,_China,_c._1025,_wood,_Honolulu_Academy_of_Arts
Bodhisattva Guanyin, the Chinese form of Avalokiteśvara (wood carving from 1025)

[The Shōbōgenzō, written in 1230-1250, is one of Buddhism’s key texts. These excerpts from the above fascicle give us an idea of Buddhism’s views on gender 800 years ago]

“Shikan asked, “What kind of person dwells in this mountain?”
Massan answered, “One whose characteristics are neither masculine nor feminine.”
Shikan asked, “Why do you not transform yourself into a male?”
Massan replied, “Not being a fox spirit, why should I transform myself into anything?”

[ …]

” And also, even today there are people, wretched from their folly, whose unconverted thinking has not gone beyond looking upon women simply as objects in the world of sensual desire. Disciples of Buddha should not be this way. Should you detest women because you think that they must be objects in the world of sensual desire, would you also detest all men? What causes staining and defilement to arise is treating men as comprising one world and women as another. ”

[…]

“if you dislike women because you think that they must be objects in the world of sensual desire, then males and females will end up mutually disliking each other, and it is unlikely that there will be any opportunity for either to find a way to the Other Shore. You should explore this principle in detail.”

[…]

“What fault is there in being female? What virtue in being male? When it comes to being wicked, there have been men who were wicked; when it comes to being virtuous, there have been women who were virtuous. To respectfully ask to hear the Teaching and to long to leave the world of delusion behind certainly do not depend on one’s being male or female. When people have not yet cut themselves off from their delusions, they are equally attached to delusion whether they be male or female. ”

[…]

” And also, should you despise women because you think that in ancient times they have committed some offense, then you must despise all bodhisattvas as well. Or, should you despise women because you think that at some later date they will surely commit some offense, then you must despise all bodhisattvas who have given rise to the intention to realise Buddhahood. If you despise women in any such ways, you must despise every single person, so how will you make manifest the Buddha’s Dharma?”

[…]

“Who can ever possibly prevent anyone from doing his or her daily training in the Way? And also, the wondrous, fully perfected enlightenment is the highest level. Since women are already acting as Buddhas, which of all the Teachings may they not thoroughly master? Who could presume to hamper them or prevent them from realising the goal? They already have spiritual merits that are said to illumine the whole universe in all ten directions, so who can put limits on them?

[full text – page 89]

From ‘On Respectful Bowing Will Secure the Very Marrow of the Way’, in the “Shōbōgenzō”, by Eihei Dōgen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s