Seeking guidance and motivation after placing too much importance on a single text

I sincerely hope my concerns are met with patience, understanding, and compassion.
As found inside the Anguttara Nikāya, in the book of the eights, is a passage of which does regard Gotamī asking for permission to ordainment; many-times over I have read the passage, but for the sake of identifying which I seek aid for:
“*Ānanda, if females had not gained the going forth from the lay life to homelessness in the teaching and training proclaimed by the Realized One, the spiritual life would have lasted long. The true teaching would have remained for a thousand years. But since they have gained the going forth, now the spiritual life will not last long. The true teaching will remain only five hundred years. *
*It’s like those families with many women and few men. They’re easy prey for bandits and thieves. In the same way, the spiritual life does not last long in a teaching and training where females gain the going forth. *
*It’s like a field full of rice. Once the disease called ‘white bones’ attacks, it doesn’t last long. In the same way, the spiritual life does not last long in a teaching and training where females gain the going forth. *
*It’s like a field full of sugar cane. Once the disease called ‘red rot’ attacks, it doesn’t last long. In the same way, the spiritual life does not last long in a teaching and training where females gain the going forth. *
As a man might build a dyke around a large lake as a precaution against the water overflowing, in the same way as a precaution I’ve prescribed the eight principles of respect as not to be transgressed so long as life lasts.”

The quoted text, is a mere few excerpts from a single sutta inside the Book of the Eights. They are minute and few compared to the whole of the teaching, but after reading them recently…they have consumed my waking and sleeping thoughts, left me discouraged, and affected my emotional wellbeing. I rationally know, I am making more of a single text than I should be; but when it won’t get out of my head, it becomes difficult to be hopeful and OK.

I have read many of the suttas, and keep book on them for where I may find certain passages and lessons. I will admit, too, that I am relatively new and inexperienced in the officially teaching, and lack a locally accessible manner in which to communicate with a spiritual advisor. I have a mind which is afflicted by several various disorders, and it is important to realise that this alone makes it difficult for me to proceed the same manner in which most might find works. Perhaps, too, this fact makes my progress along the path slower.

I am very susceptible to taking the words of someone I revere and relying on them to form the basis of my thought, and any sense of value I could possibly have of myself. I have come out of my worst mental states because of realising many aspects of Buddhism, and I respect the Buddha and the path immensely.

I know the passage is speaking of the ordainment of a female follower, and not the capability of females to achieve enlightenment as a whole. But, in my mind, I have unfortunately taken any slight suggestion of a female being incapable of pursuing the path to the same extent and manner as a male to heart; as a reason to return to the belief that something is wrong with being a female and a follower.

Everything is impermanent, and is constantly changing; what Buddhist could refute that? The societal regard and the way in which it acts is just as susceptible to change, as is the seasons and the perspectives of one’s own self.
I know, the Buddha denied the notion he was superhuman, a figure that nobody else could ever hope to be even close to being like — but is he not the Perfected One? He was accomplished in all ways, he had freed himself entirely from the cycle of rebirth. If he of all beings is so reluctant to ordain females…what right would a layperson have to dispute that? Other-where in the canon, it is even stated that as the processes worked for him, if they do not work for us, we must look to where we must improve or change.

I understand that the passage directly confirms that females, too, can obtain enlightenment — and I have read within the canon, too, the proof that the Buddha was not discriminatory or hypocritical as my brain is trying to force me to believe. But this alone doesn’t ease my mind, and I’m a little scared at the thought maybe I shouldn’t pursue enlightenment until I have a life reborn in a male body. It’s stupid, I know, but please understand it is hard to change this way of thinking. I’m trying my best, I really am, but sometimes I just need a little support and the minds of others to help me.

I know this perhaps comes-across as a rant — but it isn’t my intention. In a time of trouble, and not knowing where to turn, I have decided to try and be reminded of the truth by those who can say it best. Please be patient with me. I’ve reached out to various online communities before, which should have been places of compassion and kindness, to have my words received with vileness and exasperation. I need whoever chooses to respond to this to keep-in-mind I have a very afflicted way of thinking, and a concerningly low self-regard. I don’t have anywhere else to turn with this, and I’m not looking for honeyed words. Please, I just want someone to explain to me why this shouldn’t change how I feel about the Buddha and the path. I really am relying on gentle words.

I apologise with addition, that I typically refuse to write when my mind sways into this train of thought; normally, I am able to write a comprehensive, logical argument devoid of emotional influence. But in this moment, I am trapped within a cycle of uncertainty and emotional chaos that needs to hear the voice of another Buddhist. Please understand, personality disorders are difficult to function with. I have faith that if anyone is capable of such, it is the people of here.

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I have always felt that the AN contained a number of Suttas with very shallow ethics, unworthy of being compared with the rest of the material. I think it is reasonable to assume that these do not go back to the original Buddha, but were added later (by rather petty-minded individuals).

Also the fact that the spiritual life did last until now (way more than 500 or even 1000 years) seems to speak against the authenticity of the Sutta.

But this is just my personal oppinion.

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Hi Tin :pray:,

Welcome to the forum!

Most reasonable and appropriate! :slightly_smiling_face:

The sutta you’re quoting may be a later addition, by monks who opposed the ordination of women.
In either case, women were of course ordained in the Buddha’s time and are being ordained now. During the Buddha’s time several attained full awakening and there are suttas with their teachings in the Canon. So your participation in the Dhamma would not in any way disturb its perpetuation and beneficial effects, (I offer this because it appears to be a concern of yours, as I see only beauty and benefits from the participation of all people, all genders, in the Dhamma, including you).

At the same time, and you may be aware of this, therapy and counseling can be very helpful for emotional and psychological support and you may wish to participate in this even while you practice the Dhamma, should you choose to do so. Something to consider.

What’s most important is our awakening and the ending of dukkha. That’s the overarching goal of the practice.
And since, as you wrote, you understand that females (and persons of any gender or who are non-gendered) can realize awakening, why not focus on this important and happy aspect of the Teachings? It’s truly true! :slightly_smiling_face:

We do need experienced and legitimate Buddhist teachers for guidance. There are some who offer online sittings and online meetings, as you indicated that there are no Dhamma communities near you. You may wish to look at several online and see what works for you.

Hope this is helpful!

Offering you all best wishes, peace, and blessings. :pray:

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Perhaps an advice from a Dhamma sister to another Dhamma sister can be received with much increased sympathy. And furthermore, when that Dhamma sister is an enlightenment nun, that advice seems to be even more relevant.

Below is such advice from bhikkhuni Somā in Somāsutta SN 5.2:

“What does womanhood matter at all
When the mind is concentrated well,
When knowledge flows on steadily
As one sees correctly into Dhamma.

“One to whom it might occur,
‘I’m a woman’ or ‘I’m a man’
Or ‘I’m anything at all’—
Is fit for Mara to address.”

In short: When you no longer consider yourself a female or a male or any kind of gender at all or even anything at all, then, whatsoever doubt about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha will be dispelled.

Bhikkhuni Somā was an enlightenment nun and that beautiful verse above was her advice to you, so now please put aside these doubts, it’s time to bring forth faith and then you will finally arrive at such stage where doubts can no longer arise. Time to defeat Mara!



The sutta is found at AN8.51

Of interest may be the book “Buddhism after Patriachy” by Rita Gross.

My 2 cents:

This is yet another example that is immensly suggestive of the EBT being a genre of literature primarily composed by sedentary urban monastics in a rigidly institutional setting.

These texts do not go back to the Buddha. They are the product of the monastic legacy he left in his wake.

They are full of incidents that ovlbviously took place after he was long dead, like the reform to a single meal, the transition to breath meditation, the acceptance of female monastics and so on.

He’s not even that, hes a literary device, used by old men who controlled buildings full of young men (and later also young women) to do what they were told.

I personally lean towards thinking that there was an individual who founded “buddhism”, mostly because the core approach seems so shockingly radical when compared with upanishadic and jain ideas roughly contemporaneous, but the suttas as a whole present much more evidence to the contrary than they do to thenaffirmative imv.

This sutta is a good example of that.

The buddha in it is a number of things, including misogynist, but much more importantly, fickle, that pretty much by definition, an awakened person could not be. This means either the historical buddha was in fact a fickle, moody mysoginist, and “awakening” frees us from not much worth freeing ourselves from, or the earliest buddhist texts are already literary and mythalogical in charector and put into the mouth of the “buddha” things convenient for the community recieving that literature to hear and convey.

I opt for the latter, as the core ideas preserved tell us something about the path, and once one stops beleiving that all 4 million or so words in just the sutta pitaka are direct from gods mouth to our ears, we can concentrate on what is important and let go of the rest.

Anyway, good luck!

I was going to say something about the ambiguities that accompany humans in relation to character, but I thought that would open up touchy areas. Probably what we are looking at here are some of the tensions that led to the split between Mahayana and Hinayana that we were taught about.

My impression of the passage is that it is saying women are weak, limited by menstruation and poor at the type of debate necessary to defend dhamma. From what I understand, at a certain point in time that tradition was quite actually a life or death circumstance.

As far as I know it was the Mahīśāsaka school that actively brought into Buddhism the belief that women are not able to attain Awakening.

I see the sprawling collections in a completely different way, but there’s no need to go into that here.

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This passage is inauthenthic. There is already topic on that where you can read Bhante Analayo great article about it:

So you can rest easily, these are not the words of the Buddha. :slight_smile:

With metta :slight_smile:

Bhante Sujato has written a whole book based on this.
White bones, Red rot, Black snakes. It’s available for free download


Might as well follow an established tradition! If what you say about the canon is true, any attempt to identify original or "important’ materials in the text would look equally arbitrary.

How many children are born purely out of interest for the future child?


This is of course what traditionalists would say, but they are thereby commited to beleiving that women ruin the religion the way disease ruins the crop, which is gross, whereas I am under no such requirement.

Secondly there are absolutely no grounds for claiming that any attempt to interrogate the material for the parts which are most fundemental are all “equally arbitrary”. Different methadologies will have different outcomes, and ones informed by criticality and natrualistic scholarship will be less arbitrary than say throwing darts.

I would happily follow an established tradition if i could find one not riddled with hubris, complacency, credulity, corruption and foolishness, unfortunatly, i have not found one yet.

In the meantime i try to understand the EBT and practice ots advice, and where i have commonality with traditionalists and others i try and discuss the teaching.

For the time being thatbwill have to be enough.

No one mentioned this obvious thing yet, so here’s the logical take.

Assume it’s all true, there’s nothing that you do now that affects what happened.

  1. More than 500 years had passed, so either there’s no true teaching left, or it is diluted with other traditions, confusing people of what is the true teaching. Over here we have the effort to go back to ebt to try to shift the true teachings from later add ons. So any damage done here had been done long ago and repairs are being made.

  2. The prediction didn’t say if the Bhikkhuni lineage dies out the dhamma will last longer. So reviving it and joining in the revival doesn’t affect the predictions, which time effect is in the past anyway.

In conclusion, it’s all done and gone now. Just do what is best for you right now with the opportunities that you have. One cannot change the past, but one can direct one’s own future.

Also, Buddha clearly said the attainments are superhumans, and therefore, indeed, Buddha is superhuman.

Maybe an example could be in harry potter where harry discovered that the prophecy regarding who is able to bring down the dark lord fits both him and Neville, he didn’t break down due to it could had been another person.

It’s all in the past, whatever he does now, he couldn’t change the past, even though there’s time travel in that universe. Does he feel that he is not the choosen one and it is actually Neville? And thus lose the confidence to defeat Voldemort? The choosen one prophecy is nothing useful, but his own strength is developed via his own efforts.

I beg your pardon???

I believe we probably all have this inner scheme :

-“I fight, so I exist. I exist because I fight”.

But i tend to believe man have even more of this. This fighting mentallity. This urge to fight, battle.
And this disarray when there is nothing to fight. There is nothing more frightening than nothing to fight anymore. Or, nothing more frightening than Nibbana.
To have something to fight for is like having a goal, a meaning of life and like to exist, I am.

Look at the Bodhisattva, trying to force a happiness upon himself, trying to control the passions, energies, thoughts etc. Always intervening, changing, taming, surpressing, trying to control. Maybe we all hate to be not in controll and want to rule. But I think this is even more intens in man.

Man are fundamentally lost, as small children they are. Wanting to rule we do not rule. Wanting controll we are not in controll. When the Bodhisattva dropped this wanting he found the Path. He became, finally, tolerant to all aspect of life. Especially the dark side represented in Mara.

I know it is only my personal impression as a man (at least something that looks like that) but i feel this tendency to fight everything, and try to rule and be in controll, is a more masculine side of the mind.
While welcoming, embracing, loving, accepting is a more feminine side of the mind. Maybe this is seen as offensive. I hope not.

Pali Buddhism is very masculine, i feel, but it is overlooked, i feel, that all that socalled masculine power and effort, all that wanting to rule and control, did not lead to Buddha’s awakening and did not lead to the goal. Buddha found the Path in non-doing. He found the noble Path in non-intervening, not judging, not categorising, not labeling, nor accepting nor rejecting what arises. He stopped to fight things.

I think this is a great lesson. There is use in effort, but one also must see the limitations.

A masculine Dhamma is a poor Dhamma.

Furthermore, take another teacher who is an oral transmitter, who takes oral transmission to be the truth.
Puna caparaṁ, sandaka, idhekacco satthā anussaviko hoti anussavasacco.
They teach by oral transmission, by the lineage of testament, by canonical authority.
So anussavena itihitihaparamparāya piṭakasampadāya dhammaṁ deseti.
But when a teacher takes oral transmission to be the truth, some of that is well learned, some poorly learned, some true, and some otherwise.
Anussavikassa kho pana, sandaka, satthuno anussavasaccassa sussutampi hoti dussutampi hoti tathāpi hoti aññathāpi hoti.

A sensible person reflects on this matter in this way:
Tatra, sandaka, viññū puriso iti paṭisañcikkhati:
‘This teacher takes oral transmission to be the truth. He teaches by oral transmission, by the lineage of testament, by canonical authority.
‘ayaṁ kho bhavaṁ satthā anussaviko anussavasacco so anussavena itihitihaparamparāya piṭakasampadāya dhammaṁ deseti.
But when a teacher takes oral transmission to be the truth, some of that is well learned, some poorly learned, some true, and some otherwise.
Anussavikassa kho pana satthuno anussavasaccassa sussutampi hoti dussutampi hoti tathāpi hoti aññathāpi hoti’.
This spiritual life is unreliable.’
So ‘anassāsikaṁ idaṁ brahmacariyan’ti—
Realizing this, they leave disappointed.
iti viditvā tasmā brahmacariyā nibbijja pakkamati.

Tell that to the people who keep flagging women who say anything at all about patriarchy and patriarchal behaviour here, just to shut them up. You think this comment board is free of hate toward women? It’s why there are few here and most are silent.

I am sorry to hear that Megan.

You should see what they did to me here. It’s very much about men beating up each other over opinions on this site. And the few females who do appear are usually clutching pearls. It’s one of those things I do agree with @josephzizys about. It’s mostly an unhealthy place to be.

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I am sorry for my comment, Meggers. I am surely not against women in any way, nor do I think that they are inferior. But you yourself were calling nuns ignorant. And I was just trying to show that they may have a point. I think that having children is almost always an ego project, on the side of the father as well as the mother.

Anyway, all of this will not help to assert the OP, who, after all was looking for help, that she can and should discard that particular Sutta. Everybody in this thread agrees that the Buddha was not a mysoginist - he founded the first Bhikkhuni Shangha during his lifetime!

If the core of the Buddhist teachings are within the Dīgha, Majjhima, and Samyutta Nikāyas, anywhere they are repeated is simply a confirmation and reminder of the path. If something is not found within the core teachings, and only far-and-few-between in smaller collections…perhaps it is rational to acknowledge, that it was likely a later addition - as you said.

I appreciate your words and time taken to comment, and I believe your perspective of the Anguttara Nikāya is insightful. You, too, have helped me to broaden my understanding and open my mind to how to judge the Suttas. Thank-you, truly.

I realise there is a grandiose deal of hypocrisy on my behalf; to not even identify or believe in the concept of gender, yet to cling so strongly to the fact that the body I happen to possess is female in anatomy. To cling onto that while acknowledging that it is just another attachment…contradictory, but I know which I truly wish to take refuge and solace in.

I appreciate your kind-toned words and the time taken to respond; even-the-more, I appreciate the confirmation that there is no reason to fret about the concept of “value”. If compassion should be extended towards both great Kings and little fish, there’d be not a logical argument to say I am the sole exception. Once-the-more, I sincerely thank-you.