Revista Estudos Feministas
Print version ISSN 0104-026X
GROSS, Rita M.. Buddhist women as leaders and teachers. Rev. Estud. Fem. [online]. 2005, vol.13, n.2, pp. 415-423. ISSN 0104-026X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-026X2005000200015.
In Buddhism, the role of the dharma (religious) teacher is the most prestigious role, and dharma teachers have more authority that any other leaders. Though the Buddhist teachings contain no doctrines that limit this role to men, in practice throughout Buddhist history, very few women have been publicly acknowledged as dharma teachers. Some people claim that this practice does not harm women because women can, nevertheless, receive teachings, do advanced practices, and attain high states of spiritual realization. However, I claim that the practice of not recognizing women as dharma teachers has been very harmful both to Buddhist women and to Buddhism itself. It has lead to the demise of the nuns' community in many parts of the Buddhist world, to lower standards of education for women, to lower prestige for women practitioners, to the lack of role models for women, and to the loss of women's wisdom from the heritage of Buddhist thought. Until women dharma teachers are widely recognized and honored, Buddhism will continue to be haunted by its patriarchal past, to the loss of everyone concerned.
Keywords : Buddhism; dharma teacher; nuns' community (sangha); role models.