Lotus Sutra Class

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SF-03484
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Dining Room Class

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Recording ends before end of talk.

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Good morning. I realize we haven't had class since the day after the election, since November 3rd, so it's been a while. Today I wanted to continue with Chapter 12, the Devadatta chapter and move on to the second half of it, which is the story of the Naga princess. And this particular chapter, I think it was at this point when we were reading this out loud, when we were reading the Lotus Sutra for morning service, that there were some objections and people said, I can't read this, I can't, I don't want to say these words. So the, I think the chapter brings up, well, you can decide for yourself, but I think it's

[01:02]

addressing some painful issues that are in, that were prevalent at the time in the society and to this day regarding who is a fit vessel for the Dharma, you know. So I think the attempt in the Mahayana and the Lotus especially is to overturn some very strongly held views about women and women's capacity for Dharma and spiritual study and attainment. Whether it's successful or not or to what degree it is, I think we can discuss that. I think that I'm interested in hearing what you all have to say. So there's a lot of material and also I just wanted to say that in the Kaleidoscope there's an essay by Miriam Levering, who's been a help to Zen Center actually. She's visited and helped with this, the new, the names in the, that the women

[02:11]

that were chanting. Anyway, there's a essay, Is the Lotus Sutra Good News for Women in this book, which you might find interesting. And a lot of points that I'm bringing up come out of here. Some of the things she, as a scholar, is bringing up. And then in Buddhism After Patriarchy, Rita Gross, she has a discussion about femaleness and Buddhahood and this motif of, that comes up in the Lotus Sutra, that comes up in other Mahayana Sutras as well, the sex change, which we'll talk about. How many of you have read Chapter 12? So you're familiar somewhat, some of you are. So I thought we'd start with the actual Lotus with the chapter and go through and then kind of go back and comment on various parts. Oh, you're right, you're right, you're right. It's been so long.

[03:12]

Thank you. Let's see, who are the recitation people? We had Danny from before, Judith, Devin, was there one more? Oh, nice. Judith, Devin, and Danny, right. Well, let's do the recitations. It is like a great cloud, rising over the world, covering all things everywhere. A voice of thunder vibrates afar, bringing gladness and ease to all. The sun's rays are veiled,

[04:19]

the earth is cool. The cloud lowers and spreads, as if it might be caught and gathered. Its rain, everywhere, equally, descends on all sides, streaming and pouring without stint, enriching all the land. On mountains, by rivers, in steep valleys, in hidden recesses, there grow the plants, trees, and herbs. Trees, big and small, the shoots of all the ripening grain, sugar cane, and grapevine, all these, by the rain, are fertilized, and the herbs and the trees flourish

[05:22]

together. You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees through the desert for a hundred miles, repenting. All you have to do is let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile, the world goes on. Meanwhile, the sun and the soft pebbles of the rain move across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your

[06:31]

imagination, calls to you over and over, announcing your place in the family of things. It is like a great cloud, a beneficent cloud full of moisture. Its rain everywhere equally descends on all sides. The sun and the soft pebbles of the rain move across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. On mountains, by rivers, in steep valleys, in hidden recesses, grow the plants, trees, and herbs. The world, like the wild geese, calls to you again and again, announcing your place in the family of things, and the herbs and the trees flourish together.

[07:33]

Just as the rich elder, knowing her daughter's inferior disposition, by her tactfulness, seduces her mind, and afterward gives her all her wealth, so is it with the Buddha in his display of rarities. Knowing those who delight in trifles, and subduing by his tactfulness, subduing their minds, he instructs them in the greater wisdom. Today we have obtained that which we have never had before, what we have not previously looked for, now we have unexpectedly obtained, just as that poor daughter obtained inestimable treasures. World-honored one, now we have got the way and got the fruit, and in the faultless law, attained to clear vision. We for long, having kept the Buddha's pure commands, today for the first time obtain our fruit and reward. Having long practiced holy deeds, now we have attained to the faultless, peerless, great fruit. Now we are really hearers

[08:53]

of the sound, who cause all beings to hear the sound of the Buddha way. Now we are really arhats, who in all the worlds of gods, men, Maras, and Brahmins, universally by them, are worthy of worship. The world-honored one, in his great grace, by things which are rare, has compassion for, and instructs and benefits us. Through countless kotes of kalpas, who could repay him? Yet one would be unable to repay. Buddhas rarely appear with their infinite and boundless, inconceivably great transcendent powers. They are faultless and effortless, the kings of the law, who are able for inferior minds, patiently divide their time in this matter. And for common folk, attached to externals, to preach as is befitting. Buddhas in the law attain to supreme power, knowing all living beings, with their various desires and pleasures, and their powers. So,

[09:59]

according to their capacities, by innumerable parables, they preach the law to them. If there be any who slander such a sutra as this, who, seeing those who read and recite, write or hold this sutra, scorn and despise, hate and envy them, and bear them a tenacious grudge, concerning the recompense of such people's sin, listen now again. After their lifetime's end, they will enter into the avicci hell for a complete kalpa, being born again at each kalpa's end, and thus revolving in innumerable kalpas. When they come out of hell, they will be degraded to animals, such as dogs or jackals, with lean-cheeked forms, blue-black, with scabs and sores, knocked about by men, moreover by men hated and scorned, constantly suffering hunger and thirst,

[11:01]

bones and flesh withered, during life beaten with thorns, and after death with puttures and stones. Because of cutting themselves off from the buddhaseed, they receive such recompense for their sin. Perhaps they become camels, or are born amongst asses, always carrying burdens on their backs, being beaten with sticks, thinking only of water and grass, knowing nothing else, because of slandering the sutra, such as their punishment. Sometimes becoming jackals, they enter a village, their bodies scabbed with sores, having not even an eye, by all the boys beaten and stoned, suffering bitter pains, at times even beaten to death. Having thus died, again they receive a serpent's body, of a shape as long as five hundred yojanas, deaf and stupid, without feet, they wriggle about on their bellies, by many kinds of insects, stung and devoured, day and night in misery, with never any rest, because of slandering the sutra, such as their punishment. Should they become human beings, their powers of life are blunted, short and ugly,

[12:07]

palsied and lame, blind, deaf and humpbacked, whatever they may say, people do not believe, their breath is vile, they are possessed by demons, needy and menial, ordered about by others, often ill and emaciated, having none on whom to rely, though they are dependent on others, these take no notice of them, even if they gain anything, they instantly forget and lose it, if they make use of means of healing, and follow the usual methods of treatment, other ailments will only be added, or again they will cause their patients to die, if they themselves are ill, none will save and cure them, though they take good medicine, their disease becomes increasingly severe, if other people cause rebellion, and plunder and rob, for such crimes as these, the retribution pervertedly falls on them, such sinners as these never see the Buddha, the king of all the holy ones, who preaches the dharma, instructs and transforms, such sinners as these are always born in distress, mad, deaf and confused in mind, they never hear the dharma,

[13:12]

during kalpas innumerable as the sands of the Ganges, whenever they are born, they are deaf and dumb, and with deficient natural powers, they constantly dwell in the hells as their pleasure gardens, or in other evil states as their dwelling, among asses, hogs and dogs are the places where they must go, because of slandering the sutra, such as their punishment, if they become human beings, they are deaf, blind and dumb, poor, needy and feeble, as their own ornament, dropsy and skirt, scabs, sores and abscesses, all such ills as these will be their apparel, their bodies are always feeded abodes, filthy and unclean, they are deeply absorbed in themselves, they become angrier and angrier, their carnal passions are utterly inflamed, they are no better than animals, because of slandering the sutra, such as their punishment, I say to you, shariputra, those who slander the sutra, if I told the tale of their evils, I could not exhaust them in a whole kalpa, for this cause and reason, I especially say to you, amongst undiscerning people, do not preach the sutra.

[14:15]

Thank you very much for your recitations and creative Mary Oliver lotus inclusions, and your selections, I think it's good to have all the different kinds of selections that are in the Lotus Sutra, I think we're gonna have another class, would somebody else like to volunteer to recite? Okay, let's see, I see David, Kathy, so let us turn to page 210, and it's the last paragraph on 210, so what's just happened is

[16:00]

the Buddha's been talking about Devadatta, and how Devadatta in the past was a teacher for him, and predicts him, and then as you recall, there's the stupa in the sky, and the two Buddhas are sitting there, and all the assembly is up in the air listening, and then the abundant treasures, you know, is inside the stupa with the Buddha, and his Jisha, his attendant Bodhisattva named Wisdom Accumulation said to the Buddha, abundant treasures, let's go home now, right, he said, let's return to our own land, and then Shakyamuni Buddha said, wait, wait, Manjushri, I want you to discuss with Manjushri, meet and discuss with him the wonderful law before you go, so then Manjushri appears sitting on a thousand petal lotus flower as large as a carriage wheel, with various

[17:05]

Bodhisattvas who are accompanying him also on jeweled lotus flowers, they unaided sprang up from the ocean, where they had been visiting the Sagara Dragon King, and they took up their place in the sky, and they got off their lotus flowers, they went to the two Buddhas, and paid their respects, and expressed their reverence, after expressing his reverence, then Manjushri went over to this attendant Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulation, who was sitting on the side, and they asked after each other's welfare, and a very polite way of meeting each other, and then Wisdom Accumulation said to Manjushri, sir, virtuous sir, since you went to the Dragon Palace, how many beings have you converted? And Manjushri reports that there were innumerable, immeasurable numbers,

[18:06]

they can't be calculated, nor expressed in words, nor fathomed by the mind, just wait a moment, one must bring the proof, so I converted innumerable beings down there in the Dragon Palace, and you know, you've got to see it to believe it, one moment here, one must bring the proof, and before he'd finished speaking, numberless Bodhisattvas sitting on jeweled lotus flowers sprang up from the sea, and advanced into the air to this divine vulture peak, and took up their places in the sky, and they all, all these Bodhisattvas had been under the sea, they had been converted, and saved, had become perfect in Bodhisattva deeds, and together discussed and expounded the six Paramitas. So those who had been Shravakas now maintain the spiritual principle of the Great Vehicle. So after all these innumerable Bodhisattvas rising up on lotuses come out of the sea, then Manjushri

[19:14]

said, such has been the result of my course of instruction in the ocean, this is what the results were, and the Bodhisattva wisdom accumulation extolled Manjushri in verse, why don't we read that all together. Most wise, virtuous, brave, and strong one, thou hast converted innumerable beings, as now this great assembly and I have all seen, expounding the principle of reality, revealing the one vehicle law, extensively hast thou led living beings to attain with speed, Bodhi. So then Manjushri says, what I was preaching down there all the whole time was the Lota Sutra, that's what I was preaching down there under the ocean, the wonderful Law Flower Sutra, and then wisdom accumulation asked Manjushri, this sutra is really profound, it's the pearl of all the sutras, rare in the world, was there any being who diligently and zealously practicing this sutra can attain

[20:17]

speedily Buddhahood? So you taught the Law Flower Sutra, was there anybody down there who could you know, speedily attain Buddhahood, and Manjushri said yes, yes there happened to be, there is one down there, this is the daughter of the Dragon King Sagara, just eight years old, and then he describes her, this eight-year-old Naga princess, wise and of keen faculties, well acquainted with the karma arising from the roots of action of all creatures, who's obtained Dharani, has been able to receive and keep all the most profound and mystic treasuries revealed by Buddhas, and has deeply entered into meditations and penetrated into all dharmas, all laws, in a moment of time she resolved on Bodhi and attained non-relapse into mortality, she has unembarrassed powers of

[21:20]

argument and a compassionate mind for all the living as if they were her children, her merits are complete and the thoughts of her mind and explanations of her mouth are both subtle and great, kind and compassionate, virtuous and modest, gentle and beautiful, in her disposition she has been able to attain Bodhi, so this is quite a strong and beautiful explanation of her attainments and her realization and where she's at, this eight-year-old non-human dragon princess, so then the Bodhisattva Wisdom Accumulation says, and this is important what he says, as in contrast to what Sariputra says coming up, but Wisdom Accumulation basically says, you know, I've seen how Shakyamuni Tathagata during innumerable kalpas, doing arduous and painful deeds, accumulated merit,

[22:24]

heaping up virtue, sought the way of Bodhi ceaselessly and without rest, I have observed that in the three thousand great thousandfold world, there is not even a spot as small as a mustard seed, where he has not laid down his body and life as a Bodhisattva for the sake of the living, and only after that did he attain Bodhi, it's incredible that this girl in but a moment should become perfectly enlightened, so just I have to stop here to say that the point that Wisdom Accumulation is making is not so much that she's a girl or a woman, but that it went so fast after Shakyamuni Buddha for kalpas, you know, did all these virtuous deeds, there's not a spot of ground the size of a mustard seed where the Buddha Shakyamuni didn't, you know, give up and renounce his life for the sake of others, so the speed that this is happening is really remarkable, it's incredible that this girl in but a moment, so that's the main point of this, that Wisdom Accumulation is making, how fast,

[23:25]

but before he had ceased talking, he's saying, gee, you know, compared to Shakyamuni Buddha, this is really fast, before he had ceased talking, the daughter of the Dragon King suddenly appeared before them, and after making reverent obeisance, obeisance to the Buddha, withdrew to one side and extolled the Buddha in verse, let's read that, profound of insight into sin and blessedness, he illuminates the universe, his spiritual body, ethereal and pure, has the 32 perfect signs, with the 80 kinds of excellence in his spiritual body adorn, to whom gods and men look up, dragons and spirits pay reverence, and all species of living beings to worship and honor, that having heard the truth, I attain bodhi, only the Buddha may bear witness, I will reveal the teachings of the great vehicle, which delivers creatures from suffering, so she arises up out of the ocean,

[24:27]

pays honor to the Buddha, and you know, how he illuminates the universe in his 32 marks and all, and then she says, that having heard the truth, I attain bodhi, so she, she's listened to the teaching of the Buddha, which is this Lotus Sutra that Manjushri had been teaching, having heard the truth, I attain bodhi, or awakening, or bodhicitta, the thought of awakening, but only the Buddha may bear witness, only the Buddha can say for sure whether this is true or not, only a Buddha together with a Buddha, so only the Buddha can bear witness, I will reveal the teaching of the great vehicle, which delivers creatures from suffering, so I am going to teach, so this eight-year-old proclaims she's received the teachings and awakened bodhi mind, attained awakening, attained bodhi, and now she's going to teach, thereupon Shariputra said to the daughter of the dragon, so now it switches, so the

[25:32]

bodhisattva wisdom accumulation made mention of the speed, but then Shariputra comes in, Shariputra as you know, traditionally the, this contrast of the conservative Shravaka Arhat says to the daughter of the dragon, you state that in no length of time you attain the supreme way, this thing is hard to believe, wherefore, because the body of a woman is filthy and not a vessel of the law, how can she attain supreme bodhi, how can she attain supreme bodhi, the Buddha way is so vast that only after passing through innumerable kalpas and during hardship accumulating good works and perfectly practicing the perfections can it be accomplished, so he restates kind of what wisdom accumulation was saying, but then he goes on, moreover a woman by her body still has five hindrances, she, and then he

[26:33]

names them, she cannot become first king of the Brahma heaven, second chakra, third Amara king, fourth a holy wheel rolling king, and fifth the Buddha, how then could a woman's body so speedily become a Buddha, now we'll go back over this, but he really is in the mouth of Shariputra comes the most kind of conservative well-known thinking and views held at that time about the the five stations of women, so now the dragon's daughter possessed a precious pearl worth three thousand great thousand fold world worth a three thousand great thousand fold world which he held up and presented to the Buddha and the Buddha immediately accepted it, and the dragon's daughter then said to Bodhisattva wisdom accumulation and the honored Shariputra I've offered my pearl and the world honored one has

[27:33]

accepted it, was this action speedy, they answered most speedy, and the daughter said by your supernatural powers behold me become a Buddha even more rapidly than that, and at that moment the entire congregation not just wisdom accumulation in Shariputra but the whole group that was there up at the sky saw the dragon's daughter suddenly transformed into a male perfect in perfect in Bodhisattva deeds who instantly went to the world spotless in the southern quarter where she sat on a precious lotus flower attained perfect enlightenment with the 32 signs and the 80 kinds of excellence and universally proclaimed the wonderful law to all living creatures in the universe, so she gives the pearl to the Buddha and then the Buddha accepts it right away then she says to Shariputra and wisdom accumulation I offered my pearl worth you know you know

[28:36]

immeasurable value and that did the Buddha take it quickly yes most speedy watch this I'm going to turn into a Buddha even more rapidly than that then she turns into a man goes to the southern quarter spotless perfects perfect in Bodhisattva deeds sits on the lotus attains perfect enlightenment with all the signs and then preaches proclaims the wonderful law to all the living creatures then the Saha world of Bodhisattva Shravakas the eight groups of gods and dragons and human and non-human beings all from afar beholding the dragon's daughter become a Buddha and universally preach the law to God's men and others amongst that congregation all rejoiced greatly and made reverent salutation from afar and then the countless multitude on hearing her preach the law were aroused to apprehension wonder what another translation of that is entertained never sliding back into mortality and they all received their prediction and the world spotless made that

[29:42]

sixfold movement trembling in six different ways three thousand living beings in the Saha world took up their abode in the stage of never returning three thousand set their minds on Bodhi and obtain their predictions so if she had a you know great effect many many people turn their mind towards the teaching and achieved their predictions and and then the Bodhisattva wisdom accumulation and Shariputra and all the congregation silently believed yeah they were kind of dumb silently Wow but the other beings the rejoiced amongst the congregation oh well it says all rejoice greatly in that paragraph right before so there's a lot of maybe I'll just ask you your

[30:47]

kind of take on this or your maybe response just from different quarters yes the Nagas are considered not human non-human so you've so you've got a number of things in here you've got women you've got a non-human there are Nagas are considered animals so you've got it somebody from the animal realm Nagas I'll just say a word about Nagas they're serpent like beings with human faces and lower extremities like a snake they have extraordinary power sometimes they resemble Devas they're very very beautiful have superior intelligence they're believed to inhabit water places lakes rivers streams the oceans and to live in these aquatic palaces that are very beautiful they're also able to take full human form and there's in Indian folklore mythology they often

[31:52]

I think like mermaids do sometimes humans fall in love with them and then you know they change back and that kind of thing they also are guardians of the treasures of the sea and I thought of as protectors and guardians of the Dharma and Nagarjuna you know went down supposedly and got Prashaparamita from the Nagas who had been protecting and caring for it so there was a very high compliment for a woman in India is to say that she was like a Naga so it's it's thought of very as these beautiful incredible creatures that are highly regarded but still animals yeah yeah no I think there's the dragon king her dad so they're not there's different

[32:54]

Nagas but a female Nagas I thought of in this way as being you know ethereal beauty and wit and intelligence and creativity yeah in Chinese they translated that Naga to dragon so we think about the dragon king but then Naga yeah my question basically is from animal to woman to male yeah transition what's being said here about that yeah what do you transform as in order to become yes well this is let's hold that just for a second because I think that's kind of the crux you know of this and I just I would if there are just some reactions that anybody has to this just briefly Jackie I think that if I had read this before I had read anything else I wouldn't be

[33:57]

Buddhist I go well that's it for that you know it it's anti-woman it's too much of a one-way right way kind of teaching too much somebody said the other day reminiscence of why I left stop being Christian and it's interesting that there are other sutras earlier and I think later that have much more open to other belief systems and although I really like the parables a lot the teaching about women and teaching about other groups which really are yes

[35:01]

came up for me when I read this was I wonder what people 1700 years from now which is our distance from perhaps the creation of a little sutra what they will be appalled and what words of ours that they don't want to speak because of the people that we leave out and so that's the way I took it and what particularly comes to mind is children and criminals they might be appalled population and I read it as a cautionary tale for whoever's reading it in your particular time to wonder about who we in this time don't think is worthy of the teaching because I think I really do I can see those people 1700 years from now looking back at us perhaps and being horrified about what we left out so that's the way I read I think it's a pretty strong I read this and then

[36:10]

I read Marion Levering's commentary I wondered also is this good news for women and I didn't think it was but she says that in some way it is good news for women because the Naga King's daughter is teaching she ends up preaching and being an effective teacher and that partly because of the conventions of the time they couldn't it was maybe unthinkable to have her do it in the form in a female body but she did become a teacher of the law and that's the positive side of it so that was helpful for me mm-hmm yes yes well it's outrageous first off and then on seems to be doing two things one it's kind of

[37:40]

good news for the Buddha Dharma like it's through wondrous things are possible you can see it's inconceivable it's wondrous it's wonderful and you too can be a part of this in a way but then the other side of it this is wonderful but it's saying to me also but it's over here and people like the society that we're in like women and also the society with caste systems and all this kind of stuff we're a limited Buddha Dharma is unlimited but we're limited and so on one side it's not only as part of this bad news for women but human humanity that we're somehow separate yes and the question arises for me though which I've been thinking about lately is how far would

[38:44]

a person be willing to go to be with people so that people can hear I mean it couldn't have so great change especially being eight years old well that's a another just I I want to move in but good a couple of reactions and it's like to me one of the questions is what is that girl that she's giving and the only way I can read it and be comfortable with it is to to reject the idea that she has to give up her womanhood in order to become a Buddha but that Buddha by accepting that becomes a woman thank you yes I'm just wondering how it is that one true she was preaching the

[39:50]

I'm not I mean the Buddha's been teaching this for a while here and maybe Manjushri went I mean on Vulture Peak now they're up in the air and maybe instead of going up in there he said well I'll go down to the ocean you know I mean this this particular instance up in the air it's been going on for a while so there's some time in there where Manjushri could have gone down to yeah yeah so let let's um I think there's quite a wide range let's see where do I want to start the Mahayana and the teachings are within just like our lives

[41:02]

and our teachings are within the context of a society right and a they're in context right so the context at the time there were various prevailing views about women that were broadly held some of the things were for example the stereotypes for women which are not necessarily you know have not necessarily vanished are that they're less intelligent they have less control sexually they're more interested in worldly affairs they have less inclinations for spiritual discipline these are gender stereotypes that come out of patriarchy or male-centered so as a kind of given and I think we could say you know in our diversity work and so forth we we can all types of

[42:12]

diversity work we can see and uncover all sorts of stereotypes that we also hold that me we we maybe didn't think we did but that they're so close to us that we can't even recognize them you know so I think in in terms of some of the work we've been doing over the years and multiculturalism and so forth things get uncovered that we we didn't even realize we were thinking in that way because it was it seemed like what the natural thing and I think to realize a culture where those what I just mentioned some of those things are are just accepted as as true along with that in terms of Buddhist teachings there was this teaching called the five stations and the stations were thought that only man could be in the five stations and these will come up other places a wheel rolling king a chakravartin king a Buddha a Mara Brahma neshravaka I think I mean a

[43:20]

chakra great king universal monarch irreversible bodhi sattva Brahma anyway these five stations according to Miriam Levering when you look at the Mahayana Sutras and they bring up these five stations in the Mahayana whenever they're brought up that women can't attain these along with that they're undercut so they're brought up and paid lip service to in a certain way like yes this is this is the prevailing teachings but then they're undercut so I thought that was interesting that the five hindrance doctrine in the Mahayana in this scholars survey she said it could be argued that whenever they're brought up they're kind of undercut so Shariputra brings them up right and and then the dragon princess proves him wrong not only before before she turns into the male with

[44:27]

the 32 marks and all she says I have attained bodhi when part of the five hindrances is you can't that's that station in some places it says that women can't even resolve can't even have bodhicitta and but she says I have bodhi and not only that I'm going to teach and only a Buddha can witness this so she before she makes the change she that's been undercut you know this prevailing teaching so they're technically technically affirmed by Shariputra saying bringing them up but undercut so that I thought was a an interesting point another thing this teaching that a woman that the 32 marks of a Buddha include there's various marks you know

[45:29]

the webbed fingers and golden body and all this but one of the main things is is the that the sexual organs the lower organs are concealed in a sheath now this is a kind of doctrinal point here but it's brought up all the time well that means a Buddha can only be male you know so I think um anyway Rita gross goes into a very funny thing about well what are if you want to talk about concealed lower sexual organs looks like the women have that taking care pretty well so you know but she does that in a way to show how ridiculous it is to to have that be used in some way to support male centered thinking you know oh I see I didn't I didn't know you meant that yeah so yeah her feeling or the scholars feeling is that the the point is is a sexuality

[46:42]

rather than you know the organs themselves but more that that that is not a prominent force that's running the show this is a kind of calming of that so that's one point the other thing is that women's lives at the time in India for women they were under the three subserviences they they were under their father's care then their husband's care and then their sons they were they didn't have control of their life and their decisions and their they were under control in that way and life was difficult and hard so this idea of having a changing and having a rebirth as a male you can take it as misogynist or or you know glorifying male or another way you can think of it and I think I feel more comfortable with this that it's out of compassion this you know these

[47:49]

paradises and so forth are taking a male body in the next rebirth is out of compassion for the difficulty that women had at that time so now from from our times we might think well that's an excuse but to to actually think of teachers feeling compassion and seeing that as an answer to to a difficult situation also nuns you know there was the nuns order but it was less well taken care of than the men because of the eight special rules they weren't allowed to teach males they could teach females but not males and they were under the control in certain ways of the monks they couldn't do certain ceremonies without monks present they couldn't ordain without monks presence and they had to bow down you know the the different eight rules even a nun of a hundred

[48:51]

years had to bow and let a monk who was ordained that day go before her they had seniority so those rules made conditions for the women were less trained had less experience and therefore receive less donations and the order I think there's some descriptions of Chinese pilgrims who came and said that the nuns there in India were you know raggedy and not treated didn't didn't have the material well-being that the the nuns did in China so so this these situations one remedy was this male birth but not but the emphasis being out of compassion so that's that's kind of background for for this the Mahayana texts the old school you can find a lot of misogynist teachings

[49:55]

the Mahayana you can find both you can find some misogynist teachings but on but more places where a woman is the teacher the one who's attained the one that teaches shravakas you know the Vimalakirti Sutra where there's a in that one the the goddess switches with Shariputra and he becomes the goddess there's a lot of humor in that one then they switch back so this particular motif of the switch and just the the fact that there are women lay teachers and different beings who are teaching Dharma and are the ones that are in contrast to the more conservative old school and that they

[50:56]

best them in their teaching of Dharma so this is this is the Mahayana's attempt to turn this and and switch it through the teachings great did you have your hand up there yes I was thinking like even now people are told something you know like throughout their lives and it's just part of the culture you know you're not quite up to par you're you know your kind isn't quite good enough that the people that are being told that might actually believe it it's internalized yes yeah so I was thinking that maybe at that time it was seen as an auspicious thing to be of like to be able to turn into a man like not only should get language you got to be a man you know how fortunate because that's a great karmic you know and that might be the general kind of thought

[51:56]

that it was seen as a positive thing at that time as a positive thing just you know in that context because they just could maybe everyone thought that that was true you know that you know if the monk if the nun of 100 years had the bow you know to a monk of a week and she did it you know maybe she actually thought that she wasn't good enough because that's what everyone else thought yeah yeah I just wanted to say something about the difference to we can't really compare it to our way of thinking because it's India and India is totally their way of thinking about this and the idea of the Brahmanism and the different castes is so entrenched in their thinking that even you know really modern highly educated people today still think of you know dark-skinned people as being somehow very very different spiritually and so it's not just men women but it's thinking of all

[53:04]

beings is fitting into this system yeah it's so so strong in their thinking very different from my mind and one of the underpinnings of the Mahayana is the teaching of emptiness where the the Dharma there is no fixed inherent self and entities and I think this is this is the underpinning of these sutras both Vimalakirti and the Lotus and the there's another woman teacher who uh in the or maybe many in the Avatamsaka and other sutras so the teaching of emptiness and no inherent fixed traits or characteristics where there's the impermanence of those characteristics and the Dharma is neither male nor female and so this this motif of the switch kind of points to what is what is female what is male if it can be transformed like that this is so we have these fixed ideas this is this and that's that and you're here and you're there but actually in the pure Dharma realm there is

[54:07]

no in emptiness there is no such thing as male or female or these traits that we get so lodged in and attached to and uh hung up on about ourselves and others so from their point of view this was really radical this is radical this is a radical emptiness teaching this transformation I think um that there's also she wasn't reborn you know this thing of being reborn as a male she magically did a transformation body you know so in some ways uh it's called an act of truth she said you want to see you think the Buddha took that speedily um watch this you know and then this magical transformation which bodhisattvas you know one of the things we can read about bodhisattvas at certain levels it's is they're able to have transformation bodies in order to help beings I think you know we've read that in various places and here she did this magical

[55:09]

thing she wasn't then reborn as if it were a karmic thing reborn as a man she instantaneously turned which is kind of points to the emptiness of inherent self was she a naga was she a girl was she a female what was she she's just teaching you know the lotus yes and that also brings up their sex change exactly because because in that one if you know that story chaiputra trains changes into the goddess and he's like yeah what happened you know who am I and she's and she's chariputra and she said so and then changes back so that's another this demonstration of the emptiness of inherent self yes I had that feeling as you were talking that this this this buddha energy came into naga came up into this assembly and then said well I'll do whatever you need me to do

[56:14]

just but it but but in it all or behind it all was this formless genderless yeah to teach out of for skill and means okay you what how's she gonna how's she gonna show really show well I'll just turn into a buddha in front of them and the buddha at this time look like this fine but basically I'm going to teach and all these people were you know converted and predicted and you know she had a big effect yes um I had two things to say one is that um you read it um it says they saw her change which um sort of leaves open to interpretation whether she actually changed or they saw what they needed to see which I think is really interesting and here

[57:21]

no I won't say that drop that um but I do want to say that there are sutras in the Pali canon that support equality and enlightenment uh where uh nuns outwit ma basically tell him off and he sulks away so uh even though uh it's happening here in this it also was happening very early that that kind of split where some of the sutras are really anti-woman and some of them are so pro quality they've been written in berkeley yeah I think that's true you can find within the buddha's canon you know quite a range big range so you know can and and this it's also interesting in this that it's the buddha it doesn't come out of the buddha's mouth anything about her abilities or not he just accepts her gift and and also the

[58:27]

bodhisattvas don't speak that she's not this is impossible the um what what are as rita gross calls it usable stories you know which ones is it okay to say you know this one it just doesn't ring true to me you know to talk about anybody like that um male or female I think you know this it's it's kind of a method of of we've heard before women's bodies are filthy but to say you know if you were to read a male's body is filthy we don't come upon that often you know unless in a in a general way about bodies in general we we have that but it's there goes the kitchen um so to be able to pick and pick stories that are we feel stories and teachings that go to the most basic of teachings which is like in the story of of the nuns order

[59:30]

when they asked to become start the nuns order and the buddha refused three times and then ananda said is it possible for women to attain perfect enlightenment is there any problem with that and he said no all right then let's establish the order you know so that particular words that the buddha said you know as foundational is a very is a usable you know kind of a usable story and some of these other ones um that don't ring true as the the buddha's heart of great compassion we can let go so how this story works for us I think is um uh is interesting it's got parts that are very um um you know good news she somebody so speedily heard the lotus I mean it's the lotus

[60:30]

sutra is this all-inclusive teaching and here's this young girl eight years old who who really got it you know right away and not only got it but then is able to preach beautifully I think it says with arguments um unembarrassed yeah and that uh to be able to to speak beautifully and eloquently is you know the these chapters about the preacher um that we read before um this is very important in the lotus to be able to pass it on and and tell it and she's able to do that and it says the dragon's daughter became a buddha and universally preached the law um anyway it's like is it the dragon's daughter preaching as buddha you know somehow that sentence beings are all from afar beholding the dragon's daughter become a buddha and preach

[61:31]

somehow seems like it's she didn't stop being the dragon's daughter and become a buddha it seems like it's one thing the dragon started became a buddha it's dragon's daughter buddha the dragon's daughter buddha um yes for me this is sort of calling out to say let's move beyond our bias thoughts let's let's try and realize that anybody who thinks a dragon or what in that day was considered a vehicle that couldn't couldn't think that actually anybody that has a potential any living being has a potential of elimination so yeah i think that the caveat from 2004 would be well then what about a female buddha how come not you

[62:32]

know that and i think that's you know from our standpoint we might think that would have really done it you know if that were but at that time this was the most skillful thing i think i've also been doing some studies uh in another book and i keep finding things that are really closely related uh-huh like um um it says that uh this is uh from berkeley studies volume one it involves uh work from kanza and uh boners and um it says here in this one paragraph that in this text the ikian is clearly formulated as the outcome of a method which by which other sectarians can be lured to the abandonment of morality and gradually obtain access to the ikiana significant enough there are a listing of five rather than the more frequent two or three vehicles five uh-huh and then in the end of this

[63:33]

paragraph i notice at the near the end of the paragraph on 214 in the end of this paragraph on this page in the brooklyn book it says the five vehicles and non-vehicles constitute the six-fold nirvana and over here i said that the world's thoughtless made with made the six-fold movement and it seemed like there's some sort of connection there well there is a connection with the number six i i don't know what is the six-fold movement talking about moving into nirvana i think the six-fold movement is referring to where when the world responds by moving in six different ways shaking and all that i believe um often that happens when something really great happens and there's great rejoicing and then the world moves in six ways trembles and so i'm not sure it goes along with this is that a metaphor or it's supposed to be taken literally um i think it's a poetic description of great joy you know oh really

[64:44]

yeah yeah i mean i mean sometimes we feel like what do we say the world you know that it the ground shook under my feet or you know we have we feel like we've been right yeah so i think i think it's it's that but i'm not familiar with the five or six yeah well we've been talking about three and this adds to the brahmanana uh-huh the brahmanana okay thank you erin did you ever end up yeah i was just gonna say that um listening to this uh this summer i was looking on the internet and i was looking at looking up the vinya just to kind of see what is it um and there's like this set of precepts that are before the vinya the shramanera precepts and i think it's really interesting listening to this that some of the the prerequisites for receiving these precepts which are kind of the middle before you can

[65:51]

receive the vinya include that you can't um you can't have had a sex change and you can't uh have both sexes and you have to be human and i was wondering like what is that supposed to mean i think that's the last one and then somebody was it steven steven told me that he found some information about that and that was actually because of magas right right so even still when people and this is a modern you know this is like a modern introduction to the shramanera oh so you're interested in receiving the shramanera precepts and then it has this whole questionnaire are you human so it's not like it's said really 1700 years ago i mean really like it's still mind is still thinking this way there is a story where a naga um it's in the i think it might be in miriam leverings where a naga um male naga uh passed as human and was ordained and then in the

[67:00]

night when he was asleep he reverted back to being a naga and they caught him and told the buddha and the buddha said you you have to you know you can't be ordained anymore and from there that's they began to ask people are you human before they received yeah um but there is tara who um said she would only take on uh out of compassion take on a feminine form yes and then also i think seven appearances of avalokiteshvara and she's over 30 years of our female yes you know that that's very old i think so um i don't know well i think tara um tara buddha is how yes tara made a vow to always be reborn in a woman's body and to teach and and and she's thought of as a buddha yes tara buddha you can find it and maybe you can find that she's not a buddha or just a bodhisattva not

[68:04]

but a bodhisattva but also tara buddha i've seen and so and that it is very old but it doesn't seem to be coming up in this as a as an option you know the 32 marks are very particular about what a buddha looks like so but yeah as as buddhism developed that there is um female forms of um infinite compassion of course and also does anybody know who lochana is appears because my understanding is that lochana is female and i haven't been able to find anything on lochana buddha it's in japanese it's road rochana anyway lochana is sanskrit i guess there's nothing in shambhala dictionary oh see what you can find all right yes um is it true that the buddha ordained

[69:07]

people of the lowest caste and and are there and if so are there any stories that when we hear we're hearing a lot about women and the context and all that but are there is it questioned by characters or anybody why is this person being ordained or can this person be or was that just that it just was okay in terms of the caste yes my understanding is the buddha did ordain and that within the order there was no caste system you know it it didn't transpose or once you once you entered the buddha's order then that was a different the seniority and all that was was not based on caste um and also today i think the in india there's a resurgence of buddhism for that very reason for that that lowest caste which must have been extremely radical i think that that was radical

[70:08]

they don't seem to have stories maybe you know a story yes uh well first off i think it's interesting that buddhism from the time of shakti muni they had their own ordination age system you know they had their order right so it wasn't he didn't acknowledge the caste system no but yes as a schoolful means uh shakti muni ordained his barber ahead of a whole bunch of royalty so that they would all have to sit further down the tongue from his barber say that again it was the princess that came and they said will you please ordain our servant ahead of us to help us work with our pride is everyone hearing these stories can you hear yeah um that's uh interesting very interesting stories yes so there you go yeah these precepts it says

[71:11]

are you of the lowest caste and like you can't receive them yeah it says what are you of the lowest caste or do you look like it has all these because i have to i have in my room it's really kind of strange for what this is like the veneer no it's the veneer yeah but don't say then you can't ordain or just just asking you can't i will know this is like you're not supposed to be able to just see if these precepts if you don't you know the answer yes there you think about the caste system in india it seems that the women even if they belongs to one uh single caste they are a caste apart that goes diagonal away from the uh brahmin to the outcast and so to answer what she was asking is a kind of different because castes are for men

[72:17]

again is another way of uh putting women uh aside so women so you're saying that the women it's a separate kind of caste system in some ways something in particular even if a woman is from the kshatriya caste anyway is a woman so in some way is something separate and each caste has its own uh manual or book where it explain what to do and because every caste has its own duties and so every single person should study this manual and do the what the caste ask and women have their own old women of all the old castes yeah their book is kamasutra because the the the duty of a woman is to make his husband happy

[73:23]

her husband and that cuts through all the and so that's why it was difficult for them to accept women as well it seems that he wanted to but it was extremely uh revolutionary to accept all the caste and to say that for women as well more difficult yeah because it was even lower than the upcast so he ate buddha for um going ahead with the women's order even though it rocked that world right you mean women are going to live outside of the confines of the home and wander in the forest and live apart and do spiritual practice and not you know not do their duties and so forth something else that still today in some years ago it was legal sati yeah yes a woman had to kill herself on the on the moral power yeah and now it is uh forbidden but still still it happens

[74:28]

yeah because they are kind of every caste doesn't matter they belong to the man and so they if the man died they should do that so buddha was walking with that kind of mentality and the sutra is working with it too you know because think about that that to have a sutra and a teaching come out in the context of that what daryo just said and then saying that an eight-year-old female naga is proclaiming the law not only that doing these gifts to the buddha and talking back to bodhisattvas and shramaneras and and expressing herself beautifully you know it's it is i mean i just somehow listening to you i i got this feeling of oh how that must have been from 2004 it's like well come on why didn't she how come she had to turn into a man as if we get i think a little bit caught on that point rather than the how you know revolutionary it was

[75:33]

to to to have it come from her these teachings did you find it lochana no i didn't yeah it's maybe somebody could take that on as a project to find out who lochana buddha is i think it's female but i'm not sure yes yeah i just wanted to mention that that thing about women you know persisted in our own tradition through medieval so it was in bodhi fern's book he talks about case on joking i think in particular um having different rights that he would perform for women so that they would be reborn as men they even had special papers that they would be cremated with or buried with or whatever that would you know free them from their woman's karma yeah so it's in our tradition at least also the the pure land supposedly is without women um yes the western that's right but akshobya's land which is an eastern pure land has women but what it doesn't

[76:38]

have is jealousy and a whole bunch of other stuff it's very it's interesting that that um no beings have to be you know removed but certain difficulties are removed from that one there was was there something here yes um yeah i wanted to say something means jumping ahead to the next chapter a little bit but um it's about mahapajapati and yasodhara who um are predicted to become buddhas in the future and marina levering talks about that too as good news for women and mahapajapati with all her 6 000 followers exactly so so in terms of this chapter was inserted later the devadatta chapter um so taking the lotus and realizing hey we didn't really you know completely include this and we should add a little here because we forgot this so those those chapters were supposedly came later you know and right

[77:44]

mahapajapati and they're predicted as buddhas now it leaves off whether they will be they are predicted but it doesn't say there's a disagreement about whether it has to be in a male body or not the agreement is that they are predicted but what kind of body you know so that's still left um yes um when uh um when case i was brought up i was i was noticed recently that a lot of the um about three of the women ancestors that we shared the morning were related to case i one of them was his was his mom and um uh they got uh something about dharma transmission and a lot of this sometimes i feel like saying things or like maybe it's getting i don't want to do something then i'm like oh that's not going to go up so i shouldn't say that because no one wants to hear that and that's what i kind of see this as you kind of have this intention but you're

[78:46]

like you know what let's not go overboard and freak all these people out and have them you know not want to hear what we're saying at all so we can just kind of skillfully i think that's been said but and then um i feel from what from my point of view chronologically you can kind of see things getting better and better throughout the history of buddhism maybe i'm not saying things completely but i was reading uh heihei kuroku today and dogen talks to real men and every time he mentions her name he follows it up by saying that she's like his best student he says that you know wayfarer rionan is truly unsurpassable and students of the way and stuff like that that was 800 years ago so i think it's kind of exciting we um for those of you who haven't read the fascicle raihei tokutsui dogen's fascicle where he he basically just it's like a diatribe you know about people who think women cannot practice and cannot be on holy ground and he

[79:47]

he just really lays it out in a strong strong way about people on mount hiei where women aren't allowed on the grounds whereas the the gardeners and the groundskeepers can go on there and ordained women can't and he just says it's ridiculous and anyway it's it's great because he's you you feel that energy there and then there's other places where he might have changed a little bit in his later years but you know the the lineage that we chant uh it's not a lineage the women that we chant is this celebration of this family tree right what and so there's rionan there's some of dogen's disciples and yet that ehe koroku he's got three or four dharma talks where he he mentions her name those of you who ordered the book can look them up and kaizan supposedly ordained a lot of women so anyway they're in there as this celebration uh feeling yeah let's see um i want to just see something about um i think this the point that's gone over several times

[80:54]

in the commentary is that it's not that she turned into a man and then could preach she already had the capacity as an eight-year-old dragon princess she was fully endowed she had attained bodhi she she and was saying only a buddha can can verify this but i've you know she had completed her work and been um she already had the capacity before and then through the power of that perfected capacity she did this transformation power of that

[81:34]

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