Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the Footsteps of the Elder Nuns

I have spent a lot of time lately, immersed 'In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon', by Bhikkhu Bodhi. This morning was the part where The Blessed One addresses householders, meaning lay folks like you and I. An interesting smorgasbord of patriarchal rants, mixed in with some good Dharma talk, which then led to an interesting thread on Twitter between @crazywisdom, @josephzizys, and myself:

minddeep: Continuing reading of 'In the Buddha's Words' - interesting to note Buddha's dated views on gender roles . . .
crazywizdom: although, to be fair, we don't know what the #Buddha said. We just have "the echoes of echoes" - as one C.19th #tibetan lama said
minddeep: I wish I could go back in time & hear firsthand what Buddha actually said, minus filter of male transcribers
crazywizdom: interesting #Buddhist text to be aware of is the therigatha - thought to be the songs of realisation of the 1st female arhats :-)
josephzizys: Here is the whole thing translated by one of the greatest Buddhist scholars of the Victorian era http://bit.ly/4x2MT4
josephzizys: And it is a fantastic and harrowing collection of real, humble and courageous womens experience of enlightenment.

Needless to say, I had to leave the Buddha, and spend some time in the company of the Elder Nuns, instead. And what a spiritual feast it was! Joseph was right. Ubbiri, the grieving mother,  Baddha Kapilani, the old woman, Vimala, the ex-prostitute, Mittakali, the wanderer, Canda, the homeless, Anopama, the millionaire's daughter, Gotami, the Buddha's stepmother, Gutta, the childless one, Punnika, the servant, . . . and my favorite, Mutta, the one who leaves her crooked old husband behind:
So freed! So thoroughly freed am I! 
from three crooked things set free:
from mortar, pestle,
and crooked old husband.
Having uprooted the craving  
that leads to becoming,
I'm set free from aging and death.
Women, young and old, rich and poor, single and married, with or without children . . . Women from all walks of life, who touched me with the rawness of their honest tales about their liberation, all told straight from the heart.  Ordinary women, just like me, who make the path to enlightenment, seem so much more approachable.


  1. Beautiful, thank you for this.

  2. Yes, I was so incredibly moved . . . Thanks for sharing my joy.

    Deep bow,


  3. Happy for your! Thanks for sharing!


  4. I missed your twitter conversation, but this looks exquisite!

    I will definitely check it out. (At some kinder hour when I am not supposed to be sleeping.)

    Love the new header, too.

  5. Thank you Mahala. Exquisite indeed. So much so that I keep on revisiting. I love going back and forth between men and women's writings. Makes for a nice balance.