The Plight of the First Women Converts to Buddhism
The beauty of the stories about the first Buddhist women is not only shown by the virtue earned but more by the struggle they had in encroaching into a new field, religion, which was previously dominated by men. Growing in a world of gender trends which only favored occasional consumption and human selfness, the Therigatha nuns made it prioritize prayers and meditation in spirits. This marked a beginning of a life of self and emotional development above the material wellbeing of people. This depends on the foundational explanations of Buddhism. “It is enabling people understand that there exist a life beyond the illusion of materialism and selfness” This means that beyond the desire to own properties and promotion of self development, there is still a mean to life. (Winston 35). The poems illustrate further in union with the Buddhism teaching that cars, houses, lands and money are not what life is made of. The two most conception points in life are perhaps the birth attained through women and practiced religious teachings. These women created a trait and long-lived character which still presumed to remain. It is not appreciative that the women turned away from materialism, but the most important are that they walked into a spiritual principle. Having been brought up in a diversified background, the women intertwined their goal to one. These also shared in experience and reality of the Buddhism (Murcott 54). For instance, they attached their lives to the Buddhist phrase, “Look within, thou art the Buddha” to which their poems are built on. This also reaffirms their position as the first women Buddhist converts. This paper therefore emphasizes on the plight and experience of the first women converts to Buddhism.
The women developed a legacy out of their way of living. In the same manner the old monks, they managed to live on less food. Making reference to the religion’s concepts and beliefs, the women survived through practicing indulgence and asceticism. This was an unusual way of setting themselves for deliverance. The women wondered between Buddhism, more so Theravadin fellowship of the Buddhist (Paul, Diana, & Wilson 64). At the current generation, the model refers to the sustainable era where only a few people may be entitled to spiritual exploits. The greatest concern of the women detailed by the poems was an urge to subscribe to an identified faith. Portraying characters of an old prophet, the women share in the plight of their struggle. Much of this need to be changed to a goal-oriented scheme which foresaw of people suffering from the guilt of self-satisfaction. However, this never became of the case at a practical level. They created acts of simplicity which made them and their immediate followers have ample spiritual growth. This example of the life of the first women stands as testimonies for special relevance contrary to the times they stood to put down the earth out of wasteful consumption. However, all these were built of self-discipline and sacrifice, living in seven perquisites, immense focus, right attitude, and self-virtues.
Nevertheless, these never came easy for the first Buddhist women. As highlighted in the poems, the women experience challenges. First, the idea of gender and social superiority by the male counterparts. Women being accepted into Buddhist religion were bit sluggish since for a long timed based on inherited tradition. Abhirupa-Nanda’s poem highlights on the demands of being a spirited Buddhist woman. A section of the poem reads, “Get rid of the tendency to judge yourself above, below or equal to others.” This indicates that the women were expected to remain themselves without making a comparison of a check to other women. This is perhaps the course of deceit was merely a different scenario in their lives and would require contentment and self-satisfaction above all. On a wider religious perspective, the stanza of the poem implies that the women had to put in order positive attitudes towards themselves by noting judging themselves about others. Suppose this thought of the poet is put on a social life, none would have men retained in their male dominated sectors. As a matter of fact, the comparison would be exogenous and more women would rise above the social neglects and discrimination they face based on gender. Such would have more ladies encroach into faith leadership without necessarily clinging to men as the ladder up the case. Above all, the first Buddhist woman had to preserver by holding the above words as strength to maneuver beyond the impossible grounds.
Another poem by Sundari gives a clue to how huge the struggle to be a Buddhist was for ordinary women. It typically meant giving up they normal routine to follow religion. This is less taking off to the wilderness of search for religious knowledge. The poem outlays on the temporal cry of a father who loses a child and concurrently shifts the relational effect of it on the woman. Such is in view to the Buddha teaching that “life begins with the woman”. However, there is bit of the poem which states of the entitlement of a girl child in the traditional society. They seemed to be worth nothing and if they do, they would only be deemed for leftovers. The part of stanza of the Sundari’s poem states, “may you find what you long for, gleanings and left overs, a rob of rag from the trash heap….” These sentences seem mockery to the struggle of women Buddhists. As much as they are encourage to go for what they desire, they are also reminded of their worthlessness minutes entitlements. The idea here is the overall desperation and plight that the women faced in becoming Buddhist but the good news is that there was hope, which kept them going.
In line with the discussion, it is made clear that the course of embracing the religion, Buddhism witnessed a number of sacrifices from different group of persons. The struggles to embrace the religion are presented to be very stiff. Owing to the tradition of the religion, embracing Buddhism highly influenced individuals’ lives to a greater extent. Women are placed to be highly affected by the adoption of the new religious cultures.
Murcott, Susan. First Buddhist Women: Poems & Stories of Awakening. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2006. Print.
Paul, Diana Y, and Frances Wilson. Women in Buddhism: Images of the Feminine in Mahāyāna Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. Print.
Winston, Diana. Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens. New York: Perigee Book, 2003. Print.