Item Details

Women, Ordination, and a Buddhist Perspective: A Violation of Rights?

Issue: Vol 36 No. 2 (2017) Religious Studies and Theology

Journal: Religious Studies and Theology

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Buddhist Studies Islamic Studies Biblical Studies

DOI: 10.1558/rsth.35158


Taking women’s ordination—a main gender issue debated in Buddhism—as an example, I reason why discrimination against women in religion not only violates women’s human rights but also basic Buddhist principles such as non-violence. I question whether from a Buddhist perspective religion and rights are two mutually exclusive terms, and then discuss two areas of tension: a tension between religious and secular law, on the one hand, and a tension between religious freedom and gender equality, on the other. Based on this, I analyse how the dynamics of these areas of tension and gender issues could become a driving force for interreligious dialogue and for dialogue between religions and secular societies.

Author: Carola Roloff (Bhiksuni Jampa Tsedroen)

View Full Text

References :

Amirpur, Katajun. 2011. “Islamischer Feminismus.” In Unbeschreiblich weib¬lich? Neue Fragestellungen zur Geschlechterdifferenz in den Religionen, edited by Christine Gerber, Silke Petersen, and Wolfram Weiße, 195–213, Berlin: LIT Verlag.

Ahlers, Stella. 2005. Gleichstellung der Frau in Staat und Kirche—ein problem¬atisches Spannungsverhältnis. ReligionsRecht im Dialog 2. Berlin: LIT.

Amirpur, Katajun, Knauth, Thorsten, Roloff, Carola, and Weiße, Wolfram, eds. 2016. Perspektiven dialogischer Theologie: Offenheit in den Religionen und eine Hermeneutik des interreligiösen Dialogs. Religionen im Dialog 10. Münster: Waxmann.

Anālayo, Bhikkhu. 2009. “The Bahudhatuka-sutta and its Parallels. On Women’s Inabilities.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 16: 136–90. http://www.buddhis¬
———. 2013. “The Legality of Bhikkhuni Ordination.” Journal of Buddhist Eth¬ics 20: 310–33.
———. 2014. “Karma and Female Birth.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 21, 109–153.
———. 2016. The Foundation History of the Nuns’ Order. Hamburg Buddhist Studies 6. Bochum: Projektverlag.

Bapat, P. V. 1970. Samantapāsādikā. Shan-Chien-P’i-P’o-Sha: A Chinese ver¬sion by Saṅghabhadra of Samantapāsādikā. Bhandarkar Oriental Series 10. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

Brodbeck, Karl-Heinz. 2008. “Buddhismus und die Idee der Menschenrechte.” In Wege zu Menschenrechten: Geschichten und Inhalte eines umstrittenen Begriffs, edited by Hamid R. Yousefi, Klaus Fischer, Ina Braun, and Peter Gerdsen, 155–175. Nordhausen: Bautz.
Butet, Dominique. 2016. “Exclusive Interview: The 17th Karmapa and the Bud¬dhist Nuns of the Tibetan Tradition.”¬tures/exclusive-interview-the-17th-karmapa-and-the-buddhist-nuns-of-the-tibetan-tradition

Ceming, Katharina. 2010. Ernstfall Menschenrechte: Die Würde des Menschen und die Weltreligionen. München: Kösel.

Council of Europe. 2016. “Are Religions a Place of Emancipation for Women? Pro¬gress and Setbacks.” Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe. Stras¬bourg. June 21.

Dalai Lama XIV. 2008. “Human Rights, Democracy and Freedom.” Accessed November 18, 2017. human-rights-democracy-and-freedom.

Dalai Lama XIV. 1988. “Opening Speech of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” In Sakyadhītā: Daughters of the Buddha, edited by Karma L. Tsomo, 39–46. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lions.

Dalai Lama XIV. 1988. “Opening Speech of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” In Sakyadhītā: Daughters of the Buddha, edited by Karma L. Tsomo, 39–46. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lions.

DeVido, Elise A. 2010. Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Dhammananda, Bhikkhunī. 2010. “A Need to Take a Fresh Look at Popular In¬terpretations of the Tripiṭaka: Theravāda Context in Thailand.” In Dignity and Discipline: Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns, edited by Thea Mohr and Jampa Tsedroen, 149–160. Boston: Wisdom.

European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights. 2013. “Landmark Strasbourg ruling: Religious beliefs are no reason to oppose rights of same-sex cou¬ples.”¬ples/

Federal Republic of Germany. 2014. Federal Law Gazette. Part III, classifica¬tion number 100–101. englisch_gg.html

Gerber, Christine, Silke Petersen, and Wolfram Weiße, eds. 2011. Unbeschreib¬lich weiblich? Neue Fragestellungen zur Geschlechterdifferenz in den Re¬ligionen. Berlin: LIT.

Goodman-Thau, Eveline. 2011. “Ethos und Eros im Judentum.” In Unbeschreib¬lich weiblich? Neue Fragestellungen zur Geschlechterdifferenz in den Re¬ligionen, edited by Christine Gerber, Silke Petersen, and Wolfram Weiße, 215–239. Berlin: LIT.

Gyatso, Janet. 2010. “Female Ordination in Buddhism: Looking into a Crystal Ball, Making a Future.” In Dignity and Discipline: Reviving Full Ordina¬tion for Buddhist Nuns, edited by Thea Mohr and Jampa Tsedroen, 1–21. Boston: Wisdom.

Hüsken, Ute. 1997. Die Vorschriften für die Buddhistische Nonnengemeinde im Vinaya-Piṭaka der Theravādin. Monographien zur Indischen Archäologie, Kunst und Philologie 2. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.

International Network of Engaged Buddhists. 2013. “A Statement to Support Establishing the Bhikkhuni Sangha in Siam (Thailand).” https://www.¬ing-the-bhikkhuni-sangha-in-siam-thailand

Jackson, Robert. 2014. Signposts—Policy and Practice for Teaching About Re¬ligions and Non-Religious World Views. Intercultural Education. Stras¬bourg: Council of Europe.

John XXIII. 1963. Pacem in Terris. Encyclical Letter on Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty. April 11. Vatican City, Italy: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.¬cyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem.html

Jyväsjärvi, Mari J. 2011. “Fragile Virtue: Interpreting Women’s Monastic Prac¬tice in Early Medieval India.” Doctoral Dissertation, Harvard University.

Joy, Morny. 2006. “Gender and Religion: A Volatile Mixture.” Temenos 42(1): 7–30.
———. 2008. “Women’s Human Rights in the Context of Religious Studies.” In Svensk religionshitorisk årsskrift 2006–2007, Volume 15, edited by M. L. Keinänen, 181–199. Göteborg: Svenska samfundet för religionshistorisk forskning.

Karmapa XVII, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. 2017. “The Historic Revival of Full Ordi¬nation for Tibetan Buddhist Nuns: March 3, 2017.” http://the17thkarmapa.

King, Sallie B. 2005. Being Benevolence: The Social Ethics of Engaged Bud¬dhism. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
———. 2009. Socially Engaged Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Koggel, Christine M. 2011. “Global Feminism.” In The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy, edited by Jay L. Garfield and William Edelglass, 549–561. Oxford: Oxford University Press. oxfordhb/9780195328998.003.0047

Küster, Volker. 2011. Einführung in die Interkulturelle Theologie. Stuttgart: Van¬denhoeck & Ruprecht.

Loretan, Adrian. 2010. Religionen im Kontext der Menschenrechte. Religions-rechtliche Studien 1. Zürich: Theologischer.

Meinert, Carmen, and Hans-Bernd Zöllner, eds. 2010. Buddhist Approaches to Human Rights: Dissonances and Resonances. Being Human 3. Bielefeld: Transcript.

Mohagheghi, Hamideh. 2011. “Gleichberechtigte Teilhabe der Frauen.” In Un¬beschreiblich weiblich? Neue Fragestellungen zur Geschlechterdifferenz in den Religionen, edited by Christine Gerber, Silke Petersen, and Wol¬fram Weiße, 177–194, Berlin: LIT.

Mohr, Thea, and Jampa Tsedroen, eds. 2010. Dignity & Discipline: Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns. Boston: Wisdom.

Pabongka Rinpoche. 2006 [1991]. Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. A Con¬cise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment, edited by Trijang Rinpoche. Translated by Michael Richards. New Revised Edition. Boston: Wisdom.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 2005. Resolution 1464. Wom¬en and Religion in Europe. 4 October . XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=17372&lang=en

Parliamentary Council. 2014. Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany.

Pollack, Detlef, Olaf Müller, Gergely Rosta, and Anna Dieler. 2016. “Integration and Religion as seen by People of Turkish Origin in Germany: Represen¬tative survey of TNS Emnid on behalf of Münster University’s Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics.” md/content/religion_und_politik/aktuelles/2016/06_2016/study_integra-tion_and_religion_as_seen_by_people_of_turkish_origin_in_germany. pdf

Roloff, Carola. 2015. “Menschenrechte im Buddhismus im Spannungsfeld zwis¬chen Religionsfreiheit und Geschlechtergerechtigkeit.” In Religionen-Di¬alog-Gesellschaft: Analysen zur gegenwärtigen Situation und Impulse für eine Theologie im Plural, edited by K. Amirpur and W. Weiße, 207–232. Religionen im Dialog 8. Münster: Waxmann.
———. 2014. “Interreligious Dialogue in Buddhism from a Gender Per¬spec¬tive.” In Religions and Dialogue: International Approaches, edited by W. Weiße, K. Amirpur, A. Körs, and D. Vieregge, 245–281, Religions in Dia¬logue. Academy of World Religions, Series 7. Münster: Waxmann.

Schmidt-Leukel, Perry. 2010. “Buddhism and the Idea of Human Rights. Reso¬nances and Dissonances.” In Buddhist Approaches to Human Rights: Dissonances and Resonances, edited by Carmen Meinert and Hans-Bernd Zöllner, 41–61. Bielefeld: Transcript.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. 1984. Bread not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation. Boston: Beacon.
———. 2001. Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation. Mary¬knoll, NY: Orbis [Kindle version].

Tomalin, Emma. 2006. “The Thai bhikkhuni movement and women’s em¬powerment.” Gender & Development 14.3: 385–397. https://doi. org/10.1080/13552070600980492

Tsedroen, Jampa.20 “Women’s Rights in the Vajrayāna Tradition.” In Buddhist Approaches to Human Rights: Dissonances and Resonances, edited by Carmen Meinert and Hans-Bernd Zöllner, 195– 210, Bielefeld: Transcript.
———. 2016. “Buddhist Nuns’ Ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya Tradi¬tion: Two Possible Approaches.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 23: 165–246.

Tsedroen, Jampa and Bhikkhu Anālayo. 2013. “The Gurudharma on Bhikṣuṇī Ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Tradition.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 20: 743–774.

Tsering, Dechen. 2014. “Keine Gewalt gegen Frauen! Tibeterinnen werden ak¬tiv.” Tibet und Buddhismus: Vierteljahresheft des Tibetischen Zentrums 28.3: 32–35.

United Nations. 2017. Human Rights by Country. Geneva: United Nations. http://

United Nations Economic and Social Council. 2002. Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Religious Intolerance. Report submitted by Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur, in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/42. Addendum. Study on freedom of religion or belief and the status of women in the light of religion and tra¬ditions. PDF/G0811035.pdf?OpenElement.

United Nations General Assembly. 1993. Declaration on the Elimination of Vi¬olence against Women. 20 December. res/48/a48r104.htm
———. 1948. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 10 December. Geneva: United Nations.

Vatican Radio. 2016. “Commemoration of St. Mary Magdalene raised to a Feast.” Vatican \ Activities. October 6. /commemoration_of_st_marcy_magdalene_raised_to_a_feast/1236157