Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who have, in one way or another, helped me to bring this book to completion. There is no way of acknowledging each and every individual who has participated in this dialogical process. A short list of the usual suspects would include: Wendi Adamek, Alice Bach, Ursula-Angelika Cedzich, Wendy Doniger...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

This book is the second part of a project on the place of sexuality and gender in Buddhism. The first part, published under the title The Red Thread, dealt with the question of monastic discipline, especially the rule against illicit sex and its transgression. It also addressed the question of the so-called degeneration of the monastic order in Japan...

Part 1. Buddhism and Women

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1. The Second Order

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pp. 23-54

Buddhist gender discrimination is usually traced back to the founding story of the female sangha, in which Śākyamuni repeatedly denied entrance into his community to his own aunt and adoptive mother, Mahāprajāpatī Gotamī, arguing that it would bring about the decline of his teaching.1 The historicity of this well-known episode is quite dubious, if only because of its parallelism with that of the foundation of the Jain female order, initiated by Mahāvira’s aunt Canda...

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2. The Rhetoric of Subordination

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pp. 55-90

In his Mirror for Women (Tsuma kagami), Mujū Ichien provides a good summary of the Buddhist grievances toward the “weaker sex.” He lists as the “seven vices” of women their lack of compunction about arousing sexual desire in men, constant jealousy, deceitful ways, frivolous attachment to their own appearance, duplicity, shameless desire, and, last but not least, their defilement by menstrual blood and blood of childbirth...

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3. The Rhetoric of Salvation

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pp. 91-118

The Nō play Genzai Shichimen describes the encounter between the holy monk Nichiren and a female nāga on Mount Minobu. A woman regularly comes to listen to Nichiren’s teaching and to make offerings to the Buddha. One day, as Nichiren resorts to the exemplum of the nāga-girl to illustrate the possibility of female buddhahood...

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4. The Rhetoric of Equality

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pp. 119-142

According to Max Weber, the “equalization of the sexes in principle . . . may coexist with the complete monopolization by men of the priestly functions, of law, and of the right to active participation in community affairs; men only are admitted to special professional training or assumed to possess the necessary qualifications.”1 The same view can be found among feminist historians like Joan Kelly...

Part 2. Imagining Buddhist Women

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5. Monks, Mothers, and Motherhood

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pp. 145-180

One type of woman that the Buddhist monk could not simply ignore or debase was his mother. The feeling of guilt or longing toward the woman he had left behind to enter the Buddhist order forced him to confront the issue of motherhood. Maternal imagery, of the type found in Christian monachism, where the abbot of a monastery often described himself as a “mother,” is not totally absent in Buddhist monachism...

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6. Conflicting Images

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pp. 181-216

The various forms of Buddhist rhetoric discussed so far represent aspects of the normative discourse of canonical Buddhism. Parallel to this, popular tradition offers a slightly different, and at first glance more positive, attitude toward women.1 Thus, after discussing the theoretical Buddhist discourse about gender, we need to examine emblematic representations of women...

Part 3. Women Against Buddhism

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7. Crossing the Line

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pp. 219-249

One of the major components in the Buddhist rhetoric of inequality was the belief that women should be excluded from sacred places (nyonin kekkai). Indeed, the evolution of this belief constitutes a good index of the changing perceptions of women during the medieval period. The locus classicus for the description of this locus purissimus called kekkai (restricted area) can be found...

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8. Women on the Move

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pp. 250-286

During a journey from Nagasaki to Edo in 1692, the Dutch doctor Engelbert Kaempfer came across a group of “singing nuns” who, despite their shaven heads, behaved like prostitutes: To this shav’d begging tribe belongs a certain remarkable religious order of young Girls, call’d Bikuni, which is as much as to say, Nuns...

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9. The Power of Women

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pp. 287-324

In a seminal work entitled The Power of the Younger Sister (Imōto no chikara), Yanagita Kunio discusses the religious situation in contemporary Japan: Although world religions [like Buddhism and Christianity] have been brought in on a large scale, when it comes to the insecurity of our life and our doubts and anxiety regarding the future, there is something lacking in them. They have proved to be insufficient as methods of happiness in this world...

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Afterthoughts

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pp. 325-340

Starting from the most visible female group, that of the regular nuns, we ended up with wayward “nuns” and other unruly females. The brief history of the female order, and cursory survey of the various motivations of the female ordination, has revealed that it was a polymorphous group, neither as pure in its intentions nor as “regular” as has been claimed...

Notes

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pp. 341-400

Bibliography

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pp. 401-458

Index

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pp. 459-467