Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Buddha - From "The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva" (Commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua - in America)


Buddha: "If there are women who detest the body of a woman, and who full-heartedly make offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva's image, whether the image be a painting or made of earth, stone, lacquerware, brass, iron, or some other material, and if they do so day after day without fail, using flowers, incense, food, drink, clothing, colored silks, banners, money, jewels, and other items as offerings, when the female retribution body of those good women is exhausted, for hundreds of thousands of aeons they will never again be born in the worlds where there are women, much less be one, unless it be through the strength of their compassionate vows to liberate living beings. From the power of the meritorious virtues resulting from these offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva, they will not receive the bodies of women throughout hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands of aeons.


Do not think that being a woman is a good thing, for being a woman involves a great deal of trouble. There are women who do not like it and always wonder why they have to be women; they want to learn what they can do about it. Through worship of Earth Store Bodhisattva these questions can be resolved.

What is the trouble involved in being a woman? Because there are people who might like to investigate this further, I will go into a bit more detail. You should not think of this as an attempt to cause women to dislike their state and leave home. If that occurred then there might be even more problems for me to deal with.

There are Five Obstructions and Ten Evils encountered by women. First we will discuss the Five Obstructions. The first is that women are not able to become the Great Brahma Lord because that position is accomplished through purity, and the body of a woman has a great many impurities. Second, women cannot become Sakra. An astute student may object that earlier we discussed the thirty-three women who became lords of the heavens. This objection is a valid one, but it should be realized that upon reaching the heavens their bodies became male, because only males can be lords of the heavens. Although Sakra has some desire remaining, that desire is quite light; women, on the other hand, are extremely libidinous and consequently cannot become Sakra.

Third, women cannot become demon kings. This is not too bad. They cannot attain this position because demons are extremely hard, solid, and firm, while women are extremely soft and weak. As soon as anything unusual comes up they are at a loss and have to seek help. Fourth, beings cannot be wise wheel-turning kings - the gold, silver, copper, and iron wheel-turning kings - as long as they have female bodies. Wise kings have hearts of great compassion and kindness; they teach people to maintain the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Deeds. Whenever women see something good occur to others, they become jealous, and this keeps them from having great compassion. Because of this basic problem, they cannot become Buddhas. Buddhas have ten thousand virtues; women have many evils. They are jealous and obstructive, and their hearts are about the size of a sesame seed.

If, however, women are able to rid themselves of jealousy, desire, weakness, defilement, and of all evils, they may become men, and so theirs is not a hopeless plight. There is, for example, the case of the dragon king's daughter. When Sariputra said that she could not become a Buddha, she took a precious gem, her most valuable and cherished possession, and offered it to the Buddha, who accepted it. She then asked Sariputra if the Buddha's acceptance of her offering was fast, and he replied that, indeed, it had been quick. "I shall become a Buddha that quickly," she said and then she became a Buddha. This is proof that women's lot is not hopeless. All they must do is resolve to cultivate courageously and they too can become Buddhas.

There are also Ten Evils that pertain to women. First, at their birth their parents are displeased. Although it is not always the case that parents are displeased at the birth of a daughter, in most societies this is the case, and a daughter starts out life by making a bad impression on her parents.

The second evil is that raising daughters is not a very interesting task. The third is that women are always afraid of people. Boys are not usually afraid, but girls almost always are. The fourth evil connected with women is that their parents undergo a great deal of worry about their daughters' marriage. In America this is not a major matter, but in most other countries parents have to give a great deal of consideration to finding good husbands for their daughters.

Once girls grow up, the fifth of the Ten Evils occurs, when they have to leave their parents alone. The sixth comes after they have been married and are in constant fear of their husbands. When a husband likes something, they are pleased, and when he is angry, they cower in terror. The seventh evil of women is the difficulty and fear of giving birth.

The eighth difficulty is that no matter what they do or say, the report gets back to their parents that they are not good. Although the good remains, it is a goodness that does not influence their parents. The ninth is that they are always controlled by their husbands and are subject to many restrictions, which, if broken, can lead to divorce.

The above nine evils apply to women in their youth. They are old when the tenth arrives and their own children and grandchildren slight them. As the proverb says, "To be old and not yet dead is to be a thief." These are only a few of the many problems involved with being a woman. To explain all of them in detail would be an unending task.