AN 5.55 Even when dead, a woman obsesses the mind of a man

excerpt from AN 5.55, bodhi trans.:

“Bhikkhus, did that foolish man think: ‘A mother does not fall in love with her son, or a son with his mother’? (1) Bhikkhus , I do not see even one other form that is as tantalizing, sensuous, intoxicating, captivating, infatuating, and as much of an obstacle to achieving the unsurpassed security from bondage as the form of a woman. Beings who are lustful for the form of a woman—ravenous, tied to it, infatuated, and blindly absorbed in it1051""—sorrow for a long time under the control of a woman’s form. (2) I do not see even one other sound … (3) … even one other odor … (4) … even one other taste … (5) … even one other touch that is as tantalizing, sensuous, intoxicating, captivating, infatuating, and as much of an obstacle to achieving the unsurpassed security from bondage as the touch of a woman. Beings who are lustful for the touch of a woman—ravenous, tied to it, infatuated, and blindly absorbed in it—sorrow for a long time under the control of a woman’s touch.

296“Bhikkhus, while walking, a woman obsesses the mind of a man; while standing … while sitting … while lying down … while laughing … while speaking … while singing … while crying a woman obsesses the mind of a man. When swollen,1052"" too, a woman obsesses the mind of a man. Even when dead, a woman obsesses the mind of a man. If, bhikkhus, one could rightly say of anything: ‘Entirely a snare of Māra,’ it is precisely of women that one could say this.”1053"" [69]

297One might talk with a murderous foe,
one might talk with an evil spirit,
one might even approach a viper
whose bite means certain death;
but with a woman, one to one,
one should never talk.

298They bind one whose mind is muddled
with a glance and a smile,
with their dress in disarray,
and with gentle speech.
It is not safe to approach1054"" such a person
though she is swollen and dead.

299These five objects of sensual pleasure
are seen in a woman’s body:
forms, sounds, tastes, and odors,
and also delightful touches.

300Those swept up by the flood of sensuality,
who do not fully understand sense pleasures,
are plunged headlong into saṃsāra, [into] time,
destination, and existence upon existence.1055""

301But those who have fully understood sense pleasures
live without fear from any quarter.
Having attained the destruction of the taints,
while in the world, they have gone beyond.

And that’s why when the Buddha talks about different meditation techniques, you always see asubha, 31 body parts contemplation, as the first method listed, on so many numbered lists.

And that’s why there are misogynistic rules in the vinaya, IMO. The Buddha was a pragmatist trying to find an effective solution to govern groups of disciples from danger, the goal is nirvana, not a utopia where all beings of all races, genders, ages, class, have equal civil rights. I fully support the bhikkhuni movement, BTW, and don’t think the Theravada orthodox is doing things in a sensible or useful way, but it’s good to keep in mind the goal is nirvana.

This post is not meant to be inflammatory or start a discussion, I just came across this sutta passage as I was searching for something else and wanted to share.

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I suspect that lust for the form of the opposite gender is exactly what got us in a womb the first place! :sweat: This is the tragicomedy of rebirth …

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There is the experience of infatuation with another. There may be a desire - or aspiration - to annihilate this possibility. That’s understandable after experiencing the disorder and chaos infatuation can give rise to - its not hard to find. However, it’s also the case that human beings can be aware of whats going on in their relationships with others and not behave like ‘drug addicts’. When there is infatuation - a drivenness - the so-called other is related to in a way that makes no sense. Its not just sexuality that can be the the locus of an unhealthy dependency. Our intelligence can be clouded over for sure but, it could also be clouded over if there is an outright rejection and denial of the ‘other’. We might perceive those who we have a sexual-orientation towards as a potential problem, a trap laid by Mara, a danger to our spirituality. That can’t be healthy - is it? Lets say, we don’t properly investigate what’s going on within when the hormones do there thing. Instead there is a suppression or denial of that and, as a consequence of this it may be possible to maintain celibacy for a long time. The act of feeling what arises and ceases - sexual desire - is a tricky one. The mind seems to get swept up in the movement of sexual desire and loses its equilibrium. Seclusion , or keeping exclusive company, might be a way of minimising the ‘perceived’ danger. This may give a practitioner a sense of pride in their achievement of celibacy. They may come to see themselves as highly evolved practitioners - holy ones. The answer may be a lot simpler than running in circles on these psychic hamster-wheels. I WONDER WHAT THAT MIGHT BE?

The same is true for the opposite as well; that is, the sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch of a man are obstacles for a woman to reach extinguishment according to AN 1.6-10/EA 9.8/T 792.

EA 9.8 says that the sight of a man doesn’t lead a woman to permanent peace; it fetters her to a “prison” (judging from the context of the passage, I think it means rebirth); there’s no liberation for her; it leads her to the cycle of “going and coming” (death and rebirth), this world and the next, the cycle of the “five destinies” (hell, the animal realm, the ghost realm, the human realm, and the heavenly realm) for a long time.

T 792 says that the sight of a man leads impurity to a woman, sinks her to the bottomless pit of delusion and misery; it prevents her from reaching the supreme sanctuary. The said discourse also says that the sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch of a man lead a woman to defilement, intoxication, craving, impurity, affliction, attachment, existence, clinging, a man’s form (I’m not sure what this word means here, perhaps rebirth as a man?), and suffering of “going and coming” (death and rebirth) for a long time.

The Buddha is indeed pragmatic, but he is also wise and compassionate at the same time. There is no way that the Buddha would think of misogynistic rules as “effective solution to govern groups of disciples from danger”. Misogyny is clearly unwholesome. Those who make unwholesome deeds by body, speech, and mind are fools according to AN 3.6/EA 22.6; the Buddha is definitely not a fool.

The fact that misogynist passages are later additions to the early discourses is very clear. In AN 10.75 (its parallel is SA 990), the laywoman Migasala was criticised as “an incompetent matron, with a matron’s wit”; this doesn’t occur in SA 990 at all. In AN 7.63 (one of its parallels is EA 51.9), the laywoman Sujata was criticised as “what’s with the people making that dreadful racket in your home? You’d think it was fishermen hauling in a catch!”; this passage is entirely absent in EA 51.9. In MN 146 (its parallels are SA 276 and a discourse in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya in both Chinese and Tibetan), the nuns are portrayed in a negative light and Venerable Nandaka acts confidently in not teaching the nuns; its the opposite in SA 276 and the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya in both Chinese and Tibetan according to Venerable Analayo’s Attitudes Towards Nuns – A Case Study of the Nandakovāda in the Light of its Parallels. In DN 16, there’s a passage where Venerable Ananda is told to avoid women; such passage is absent in its reconsctructed Sanskrit parallel according to Venerable Sujato in What the Buddha said to Ānanda about women: some textual issues. These are among some examples where misogynist passages are later additions to the early discourses

The monastic rules, as a whole, are later than the early discourses, so it is natural that there would be many later additions and alterations to them.

According to Venerable Analayo’s The Foundation History of the Nuns’ Order, he talked about a particular passage in some of the monastic rules regarding the Buddha’s refusal of ordaining women at first that:

The Mahīśāsaka, Mūlasarvāstivāda, and Sarvāstivāda versions report that he suggested an alternative of shaving off the hair and donning robes, apparently so as to cultivate a life of celibacy in a protected environment at home.

Misogynistic rules in the monastic rules have been studied in detail by Venerable Analayo and Venerable Sujato, and it seems that those rules are a result of redactions. They are either entirely later additions, or alterations of the existing texts. Venerable Analayo briefly talked about misogynist passages from 1:35:02 to 1:38:52 here: YouTube. In the topic of where Venerable Sujato talked about DN 16’s Sanskrit parallel where the passage about avoiding women is absent, he said the following:

More specifically, they agree with my theory that such passages, advocating a significantly harsher attitude to women, were the result of a “rigorist” movement within the Sangha around the time of the Second Council.

It’s true that the aim of practising the Buddha’s teachings is not “a utopia where all beings of all races, genders, ages, class, have equal civil rights”, but the Buddha does teach that one should give up bad conduct by way of body, speech, and mind; instead, one should develop good conduct by way of body, speech, and mind according to AN 2.11/SA 661/SA3 16.

In any case, we learn from the Buddha’s teachings that all things are nonself, and giving up what doesn’t belong to a self, especially unwholesomeness, will be for one’s welfare and happiness. So, according to the Buddha’s teachings towards both mendicants and laypeople, we should ultimately aim for extinguishment.

Seclusion and segregated communities I imagine are great tools, but even then the mind is tricky.

Reminds me of a story I’ve heard Ven. Hasapanna tell in dhamma talk videos a couple times: about a monk that had an anger problem and went to live on an island by himself to eliminate his anger. After three years he thinks he’s overcome it since he hasn’t been angry in so long and goes back to the monastery on the mainland. He declares he’s extinguished his anger and the abbot easily bates the monk into anger in moments after his return.

:heart:️:100:

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Also I’ve always suspected that sex-drive/appetite are personality traits that transfer over with the bhavaṅga to the next rebirth. My thought on this being that it is a very primal aspect of a being and is usually immensely ingrained.

Maybe that’s what the Buddha means when he says women obsess the mind of me after dead. Because the infatuation transfers after death.