Buddhism And Woman Rights

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Buddhism and Woman Rights

Buddhism and Woman Rights

Religion, gender, and the spaces where the two meet are undergoing transformation. Religion in this context refers to systems and institutions that provide for the development of individual and collective spiritualities (Adiele, 2005). These world religions, the largest today being Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, have long-established traditions but are also changing as new generations of adherents work out how to practice their faith in different locations. Although inhabitants of Western countries often see religions as privatized arenas, religions are also intertwined with social life, especially in non-Western contexts in which religious concepts of gender are central to society. Migration and travel, especially more recently, have brought religious diversity to countries with singularly focused religious histories. In Western countries, the emergence of new forms of Buddhism and the growth of Islam through migration, conversion, and higher birthrates are two significant phenomena (Cabezon, 1991).

A primary place in Buddhist ethics is reserved for the act of giving. Buddha's teaching emphasized the positive results that generosity generated in this life and the next: “Who gives food gives four things to the receiver thereof (Cousins, 2004). What four? She gives life, she gives beauty, she gives happiness, she gives strength. Moreover, giving life she is a partaker of life, be it as deva or human: giving beauty she is a partaker of beauty, be it as deva or human: giving happiness she is a partaker of happiness, be it as deva or human: giving strength she is a partaker of strength, be it as deva or human” (Anguttara Nikaya 2.62 [a Buddhist holy text]). The constant practice of giving produces an openhearted, sensitive, and wholesome attitude: doing to others as one would do to oneself and as they wish one to do to them (Eckel, 2007). By contrast, the radical vice of human nature exists in selfishness.

Loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity are called the four divine abidings. Loving-kindness toward all living beings in the universe aims to reduce hatred and fear: “Worse of the two is one who, when reviled, reviles again. Who doth not, when reviled, revile again, a two-fold victory wins” (Samyutta Nikaya 1.162 [a Buddhist holy text]). Compassion for all sentient creatures is expected to eliminate cruelty (Findly, 2000). Sympathetic joy should suppress jealousy and discontent, while equanimity should eliminate partiality.

The code of ethical conduct prescribed for women regulates proper relationships between wife and husband, parent and child, worker and employer, teacher and pupil, friend and companion (Mehta, 2006). In general, women are regarded as less capable of perfect morality, because of their alleged natural weakness and defects. Parents are exhorted to cultivate virtue in their children, while the latter should take responsibility for the maintenance of parents in old age. Husbands should courteously respect their wives, while wives should love their husbands. Friends should give mutual assistance and advice. Attention on the part of pupils toward their work complements the responsibility of the teacher to give instruction in every ...
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