Power of Denial
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Power of Denial

Buddhism, Purity, and Gender
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Bernard Faure
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xiIntroduction: "Soaring and Settling"--Too Soon? 2The Cultural Approach 6Gender Revisited 8Gendering Buddhism 15PART ONE: BUDDHISM AND WOMEN 21CHAPTER ONEThe Second Order 23The Evolution of the Female Sanngha 24The Female Order in Japan 28The Issue of Ordination 36Sociological Context(s)38Sorely Missed 47Nunhood and Feminism 51CHAPTER TWOThe Rhetoric of Subordination 55A Theodicy of Disprivilege 57The Five Obstacles and the Three Dependences 62A Case of Blood Poisoning 66Drinking from the Blood Bowl 73The "Facts" of Life 79The Red and the White 81CHAPTER THREEThe Rhetoric of Salvation 91The Legend of the Naga-Girl 91Becoming Male 99Interpretative Divergences 103Amida's Vow and Its Implications 106A Feminine Topos 116CHAPTER FOURThe Rhetoric of Equality 119Gender Equality in Mahayana 120Gender Equality in Vajrayana 122Chan/Zen Egalitarianism 127PART TWO: IMAGINING BUDDHIST WOMEN 143CHAPTER FIVEMonks, Mothers, and Motherhood 145Bad Mothers 146The Ambivalent Mother 148Mater Dolorosa 148The Forsaken Mother 152The Changing Image of Motherhood 160Varieties of Motherly Experience 163Mad Mothers 167The Law of Alliance 168CHAPTER SIXConflicting Images 181Women in the Life of the Buddha 182Queens, Empresses, and Other Impressive Ladies 188Eminent Nuns 198Femmes Fatales 204Of Women and Jewels 205PART THREE: WOMEN AGAINST BUDDHISM 217CHAPTER SEVENCrossing the Line 219The Utopian Topos 222Stopped in Their Tracks 224Kukai's Mother 228The Kekkai Stone 233Conflicting Interpretations 235The Symbolic Reading of Transgression 238The Kekkai and the Logic of Muen 243CHAPTER EIGHTWomen on the Move 250The "Nuns of Kumano" 250What's in a Name 254Down by the River 261The Monk and the Bayadère 262The Discourteous Courtesan 267Paradigms 269CHAPTER NINEThe Power of Women 287The Myth of Tamayorihime 290The Miko and the Monk 304Women on the Edge 310Women, Dragons, and Snakes 316AFTERTHOUGHTS 325NOTES 341BIBLIOGRAPHY 401INDEX 459
Innumerable studies have appeared in recent decades about practically every aspect of women's lives in Western societies. The few such works on Buddhism have been quite limited in scope. In The Power of Denial, Bernard Faure takes an important step toward redressing this situation by boldly asking: does Buddhism offer women liberation or limitation? Continuing the innovative exploration of sexuality in Buddhism he began in The Red Thread, here he moves from his earlier focus on male monastic sexuality to Buddhist conceptions of women and constructions of gender. Faure argues that Buddhism is neither as sexist nor as egalitarian as is usually thought. Above all, he asserts, the study of Buddhism through the gender lens leads us to question what we uncritically call Buddhism, in the singular.

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