top of page

Project on Women Ancestors

Some 2500 years ago in India, women were seen as less than:

According to the Buddhist tradition, women cannot ascend to the status of a Buddha — one who is awake, enlightened and emancipated from samsāra, the cycle of birth and death — because their bodies grow and give birth to children. That ties them metaphorically to samsāra.

To attain Buddha status — the ultimate goal of the religion — a woman must become a man, by dying and being reborn. But in many Buddhist texts, an advanced practitioner of Buddhism might miraculously change her form, in this life, at her own will.

This should come as no shock given the cultural values and social norms of the time. Men were men and...women were not, and you were born into a caste which allotted status and the hope of status improvement along with gender supremacy, required rebirth if you were not Brahmin and male.

In the beginning legend has it that Shakyamuni Buddha was approached by Ananda, his friend and chief aid, at the request of his foster mother, Mahāpajāpatī Gautami, to allow women to follow his teachings. The irony is that to follow had three meanings. First to follow the sangha as it moved from place to place, second to follow the teachings and the third turned out to be, if not meant, to follow the monks at a distance, not to commingle. Separated but equal?

During his lifetime the Buddha, and his stepmother reach a rapprochement. This understanding would then fray after the first Buddhist council held by Mahākāśyapa sometime after Mahāpajāpatī and the Buddha’s death.

The way of women in Buddhism has come more and more into focus as decades of research on women ancestors are now being published and sanghas have elevated these ancestors' teaching in the practice path of members.

Please join us Tuesday Nov 16, 2021as we talk about our Project on Women Ancestors:

Mokuo Nancy Sherwood Facilitator

Mission Statement: Collaboratively research the women ancestors of the Silent Thunder Order. By creating a document that provides a brief biography, writings, and contributions of each, to honor these women in our Order.

Vision Statement: Provide a written document to honor the lives and contributions of the Buddhist women ancestors of the Silent Thunder Order, to be used as teachings for all practitioners.

1. In addition all members of Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha, beginning in 2022, will explore each ancestor offering comments about the ancestor.

2. We will combine man and women ancestor “enzos” to see who were alive during the same period.

3. We will look into the teachings of men women of the same era to explore similarity and differences of their teaching

We acknowledge and bow to the members of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association who compiled the list of ancestors that serve as the baseline for this project.

Please feel free to ask questions and join us in developing our database.

Tonight we will demonstrate the project as we discuss two early women ancestors and their teachings.

108 Bows


29 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha Monthly Calendar JUNE 2024

Zoom: Password FSZS Dokusan with Sangaku-sensei by appointment •Remember Each Morning Zazen (30 min. then talk) on


bottom of page