Essay Difficulties of Buddhist Nuns

Essay Difficulties of Buddhist Nuns

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For the purpose of this essay, I have chosen to expand my forum post for the reading on Buddhist nuns and the difficulties they face due to the institutionalized misogyny present in Buddhist traditions. I selected this topic of wimmin in Buddhism because I am similarly interested in wimmin as my primary academic focus, and thus have found this topic one of the most engaging from the course so far. I believe that it is especially important to think about the roles of wimmin in Buddhism, and, more than that, why they do – and have – occupied these roles, both in history and as they continue to do so into current times, due to the simple fact that they are undeniably important members of communities, but culturally-normalized negative attitudes towards them have often implied otherwise.
In the chapter of Being a Buddhist Nun: the Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas that was assigned for class, Gutschow does not go much beyond the issue of the clerical hierarchy’s unequal power distributions. Zher focus is on the way that this hierarchy has historically exercised its power, both by granting power and by exclusionary tactics such as acknowledgment and acceptance (Gutschow 168-169). While ordination is, and has, been possible for nuns in the various schools of Buddhism, the question of available opportunities (“After she has been ordained by the bhikshuni sangha, she [a female novice] must then present herself before a quorum (at least ten members) of the local chapter of bhikshu and go through the entire ceremony again, after which she is recognized as a bhikshuni who has received the double ordination from both sanghas” (Barnes 262)) is an extremely pressing one. Important to this issue, however, is locating the motivation ...


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...tly mythic and mystical, and had then subconsciously othered and exoticized it as a kind of paradise. Resetting my own white womyn Western perceptions is hard to do, and I’m disappointed in myself for not having noticed my error until I’d done it; however, moving on from that and looking simply at the issue itself, I’m left differently conflicted about Buddhism itself, for the reasons I’ve presented. There are too many layers and facets of Buddhism to count, and certainly I can’t expect to understand any part of it thoroughly yet. Even so, the struggle of reconciling what I thought were even the most basic Buddhist principles with the unabashed inequalities in the habits of the sangha is one that I think I only have hope of working through with further research on the various handlings of the matter (of wimmin) within canons and the commonly-accepted commentaries.

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