I Hear Her Words: An Introduction to Women in Buddhism
Is there gender equality in Buddhist traditions? What do Buddhist texts say about women? Do Buddhist ethics support prejudice against women? Are there Buddhist doctrines that imply that women are inferior to men?
Scholarship on the topic of women and Buddhism has exploded in the last few decades and this book is an accessible survey of recent research. It offers an introduction and overview on women in Buddhism aimed at the interested reader and student.
Collett shows that core Buddhist doctrines and ethical formulations provide no justification for the notion that women are inferior to men. But Buddhism was born and took root in ancient and medieval societies that held traditional views of women. In this way social and cultural norms that position women as inferior to men found their way into Buddhist tradition and some Buddhist texts. Certain of these views became mainstays of the tradition, such that members of Buddhist communities have, throughout history, attempted to subjugate women.
This book offers unique access to the more rarely told histories of the many inspiring Buddhist women who fought against attempted constraint, often in the calmest and most compassionate ways imaginable; that is, simply by being themselves. From examples of women who were direct disciples of the historical Buddha, through Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Tibet, to Buddhist women today, we hear about the many female exemplars of Buddhist tradition who became devoted disciples, innovative leaders and esteemed teachers. Not only do we hear about them in this book, but we also hear from them in their own words.
To ignore the contributions of such women to Buddhist tradition hides from view the history, struggles and liberation of the many women who have shaped and continue to shape Buddhist tradition.