Manly strength may not be what we think it is

Unless there is some reason that it has to be masculine, I’d err on a more generic or gender-neutral translation. But when referring to the Buddha, I’ve often seen mahāpuruṣa translated as superman or great man. Both of those seem fine and idiomatic when referring to the Buddha specifically.

The Chinese translations may use a gendered term like great man 大丈夫, or the more gender-neutral great person 大人. The more general and gender-neutral form 大人 seems to be about twice as common.


The “marks of a great man” include a description of the Buddha’s genitals, so there’s that. But the actual description is intriguingly ambiguous.


Nor mine. Warriors have physical strength, and too often in warfare, with that comes the power to rape, plunder and pillage. (None of which were recommended by the Buddha. :upside_down_face: ) Physical strength more than physical weakness needs to be tempered with wisdom and compassion or it gets into serious trouble.

On the other hand, my yoga teachers does a sequence of mudras in which the class draws in masculine and feminine energies and then balances them. And there is the Yin-Yang symbol with its balance of energies. I’ve not studied these traditions properly, but the brushes I’ve had with them suggest to me that the Western European tradition does a very bad job in making male-female attributes and energies oppositional rather than complementary. (And this, it seems to me, has a lot to do with its traditional condemnation of LGBTQIA+ people.)

I wrote these comment before noticing that they gel well with the following:

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Tsukahara Bokuden was a famous Samurai and sword master in the Sengoku era. A brash young warrior, he became much more introspective with age. One day, he was taking a boat across lake Biwa with a group if people. Among that group was a braggart Samurai who boasted of his skills, intimidating everyone. The braggart noticed Bokuden’s swords, and asked him his school. Bokuden replied that he followed the “No Hands School”. Laughing and sensing an easy victory, the braggart challenged him to a duel. Bokuden agreed, but stated it would be inappropriate to duel in the boat, and suggested a small island instead. The braggart agreed.

After reaching the island, the braggart disembarked first. Bokuden stood up, strutted imperiously to the fore, and handed his swords to the ferryman as if to disembark, and…

…pivoted on his leg, grabbed the oar pole, and shoved off from the island. As the the braggart went insane with fury, running up and down the island shouting curses, Bokuden shouted back ,“This is my no hands school!”.

The use of physical strength in otself without wisdom or temperance doesn’t make you a warrior, it makes you a thug and a bully. Unfortunately, there is much on western culture these days that idolizes that behavior