Did you know that at one time women’s lay groups were the driving force behind Buddhism in China?
Throughout its history, Buddhism has always been changing, taking slightly different shapes according to the social and political climate of the times. There is a lot we don’t know. Much of it has been lost or destroyed, and there are numerous historical accounts not yet translated into Western languages.
I suspect there have been more than a few periods when women took a leading role on the Buddhist stage. I know, from my own experience in several traditions, that without women working behind the scenes, Buddhism would not be what it is today.
So what about Buddhism today, and women? Here’s some interesting information from Sakyadhita, “Daughters of the Buddha,” the world’s leading international organization of Buddhist women:
There are an estimated 300 million Buddhist women worldwide, including more than 130,000 nuns. Many of these women live in poverty, without adequate opportunities for education or facilities for Buddhist practice. Although the Buddha acknowledged women’s equal spiritual potential and established a monastic order for women, as Buddhism spread abroad, patterns of male dominance persisted. In only three traditions today – Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese – can women achieve ordination status equal to men. Sakyadhita members are working to achieve gender equity in Buddhism and equal opportunities for education and training for Buddhist women around the world.
I am inspired by what these women are doing and invite you to visit their website here.