Discussion of Amy Langenberg's Birth in Buddhism

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Thanks for sharing, Dan! I really want to read Professor Langenberg’s new book but it’s so expensive…:grimacing:.

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Same thought here, Brenna. At least we have this interview for now.

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As far as I know, birth and Asubha as suffering is not a gendered teaching. However scholars can twist such elements to write the next paper (peer reviewed) or as in this case hypothetical fictional situations (‘author argues…’) which is not even going to receive a peer review, but depends on utilizing a the latest hot topic for the best financial return.

All the while readers get the impression it is true, because a professor conjured it up.

with metta

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Her book focuses on a particular Sanskrit Buddhist text. As I understand it, she doesn’t argue that suffering itself is gendered in the sense that it applies more to one of the human genders than another, or is attributable more to one gender than another, but that the explanation of suffering in much Indian Buddhism appeals to a dominant metaphor about childbirth as a painful process.


Perhaps it’s a difference in conceptions on what makes a good forum post … but I am a loss to understand why the OP doesn’t quote the following:

Amy takes as her focus an early first millennium work, the Garbhavakranti-sutra, or Descent of the Embryo Scripture. Using this text as her point of departure, and reading across a wide range of genres, Amy explores birth metaphors, the journey of the fetus, and the concepts of purity, auspiciousness, and disgust, showing how the Buddhist depiction of female bodies operated against a backdrop of earlier South Asian ideas. The Descent of the Embryo Scripture speaks to the human condition, but especially to the status of women, fertility, the female body, and mothers. Amy argues that this Buddhist depiction of women’s bodies as disgusting and impure opened the way for a different kind of femininity for Buddhist nuns.

Q: Is the Garbhavakranti-sutra considered a Early Buddhist Text?

Sorry Feynman, but I guess I forgot to read your latest Powerpoint presentation on good posting technique! :slight_smile:

In seriousness, given the fact that these kinds of contents tend to raise so many hackles, I thought it was sufficient just to pass along the link to something I thought many people here would be interested in, without the need for further comment or captioning on my part.

Anyway, I just finished listening to the podcast, and the book sounds super-interesting. Langenberg’s path into these issues goes from an interest in ancient Indian culture in general, though Brahmaninical literature, Tibetan and North Indian Sanskrit sutra Buddhism, and into vinaya literature. She wraps up by talking about her latest projects, which include deeper engagement with vinaya texts. Although she is very interested in the role of woman in Buddhist asceticism, she doesn’t discuss the Therigatha - which I hope is something she eventually gets to.