What do we already know about Buddhism?
Religion shapes what we do, to a very considerable extent. The notion of aSupreme Being makes religious teachings very influential in a person’s way of living. Yet even in godless religions like Buddhism, religious precepts constitutethe rules by which people negotiate a personal as well as a social life. SiddhartaGautama, The Buddha, was the first religious teacher who gave opportunities for spiritual development to women with a status equal to that of men(Dhammananda, 1989). The Buddhist life, as prescribed by The Buddha, thereforecarries with it an innate emancipatory character that ought to be practiced by hisfollowers. It is from this context that I will set out to delve into the present practices of Buddhism in relation to the feminist vision of gender justice.
What are the two main traditions of Buddhism?
Buddhism has two main traditions, namely the Mahayana tradition and theTheravada tradition. These traditions differ in their philosophical interpretation of the dharma. The Mahayana tradition is widespread in China, Taiwan, Korea, Japanand Tibet, while the Theravada tradition is common in Sri Lanka, Thailand,Cambodia, Lao and Burma. “The position of nuns [female Buddhists in thereligious order] is different in the Mahayana and Theravada traditions. While bothtraditions originally permitted nuns, there are currently no surviving orders of fully-ordained nuns in the Theravada countries.” (Fitz-Gerald, 1992).
How was the general aim of this paper approached?
In this paper I critically reviewed existing articles on the status of women inBuddhism. These articles were acquired from the books available in the SakyaBuddhist Temple in Cabaguio Avenue, Davao City. I also conducted an onlinesearch for articles on the subject matter. The search brought me to some websitesand online journals specializing on women and Buddhism, from which I gotrelevant articles.A second methodology I employed in approaching the objective of this paper is akey person interview with a Buddhist. Mr Nhuan Pham is an English-speakingmale Vietnamese who is a member of the Sakya Buddhist community here inDavao. He was a monk aspirant when he came to Davao City seven years ago. Hestayed in the Sakya Buddhist Temple in Cabaguio for 2 ½ years before he decidedto pursue a Buddhist layman’s life and eventually got married.