Is Pure Land Sexist?

Question: Is Pure Land sexist?

Answer: In his 35th Vow, Dharmakara Bodhisattva stated this — ‘If I attain Buddhahood [as Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha)], in all immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha Lands of the ten directions, there are women who hear my Name [Amituofo], rejoice with faith, give rise to Bodhicitta, and detest the female body, after the end of [their] lives, again have female form, [I shall] not attain right awakening.’ (设我得佛,十方无量不可思议诸佛世界,其有女人闻我名字,欢喜信乐,发菩提心,厌恶女身,寿终之后,复为女像者,不取正觉。)

Unfortunately, this vow is sometimes mistaken as being sexist. Nothing is further from the truth, as all Buddhas are masters of perfect equanimity. This vow empowers all females instead, just as it does all males, to rise above gender limitations, as the forms we attain in Pure Land are functionally non-sexual and pure.

Since ancient times, the average female generally suffers from more societal disadvantages. (If not, there would be no feminist movements till today.) Seeing this, Amituofo made this Vow to enable escape from the female form, by mindfulness of his name, through which he is able to share his blessings, that does not even require birth in his Pure Land if not aspired.

In the karmic scheme of things over time, there is no actual injustice. That there are some treating females unfairly means two things — the abusers are creating negative karma, while the abused born into male chauvinistic societies are experiencing collective negative karma. Yes, we must do what we can to uphold fair rights for all, as part of our practice of compassion. Meanwhile, Amituofo already offers a solution to break free — through this blessings and entry into his Pure Land.

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  • With rights come responsibilities too. We all tend to want more rights for personal benefits, while not wanting more responsibilities that bog us down. Take compulsory male national military conscription in some nations for instance. Looking at survey results for women’s response, most females want the best of both worlds – wanting equal rights in all aspects of life, including right not to go to the army, thus being without such responsibilities. This contrasts with males not having the right to not go to the army, to be free from such responsibilities. Do feminists speak up for males to have the right to not go to the army? Not much it seems, if at all? It seems that only the Buddhas’ Pure Lands are truly equanimous societies.

  • Not that it pertains to everyone, but some (not all) feminists are over-sensitive, to the extent of accusing some non-sexists as being sexist. When over-enthusiastic feminists go overboard, this creates the undesired effect of negatively ‘stereotyping’ themselves as being unfair and quick to accuse. (An additional problem is that the over-sensitive usually deny that they are over-sensitive.) Overly eager feminists can even be seen as misandrists (men-haters), whether mistakenly or not, to as if prefer to be empowered all the way, till they are able to lord over all men. Instead of going towards equality, this ironically becomes sexist in the opposite direction.

    Feminism Is In Danger Of Becoming Toxic:

    There is the similar problem of some (not all) over-sensitive ones accusing some whites as being racist when the latter are not. Jokes along this line continue to be portrayed in popular comedies and even non-whites laugh at them, when they understand there is no actual ill intention. It shows their graciousness too. A mature society is able to laugh at itself where appropriate. The same problem applies to some (not all) overly touchy ones wanting gay empowerment, imagining they are discriminated in all areas – even for aspects which they are not, thus self-discriminating themselves, turning off those negatively affected.

    Sensitivity is surely a virtue, while insensitivity and over-sensitivity are not.

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