The goal of Mahayana's bodhisattva path is Samyaksambuddhahood, so that one may benefit all sentient beings by teaching them the path of cessation of dukkha. Mahayana theory contrasts this with the goal of the Theravada path, where the goal is individual arhatship.
In Theravada Buddhism, Buddha refers to one who has become awake through their own efforts and insight, without a teacher to point out the dharma (Sanskrit; Pali dhamma; "right way of living"). A samyaksambuddha re-discovered the truths and the path to awakening and teaches these to others after his awakening. A pratyekabuddha also reaches Nirvana through his own efforts, but does not teach the dharma to others. An arhat needs to follow the teaching of a Buddha to attain Nirvana, but can also preach the dharma after attaining Nirvana. In one instance the term buddha is also used in Theravada to refer to all who attain Nirvana, using the term Sāvakabuddha to designate an arhat, someone who depends on the teachings of a Buddha to attain Nirvana. In this broader sense it is equivalent to the arhat.
Buddhahood is the state of an awakened being, who having found the path of cessation of dukkha ("suffering", as created by attachment to desires and distorted perception and thinking) is in the state of "No-more-Learning".
There is a broad spectrum of opinion on the universality and method of attainment of Buddhahood, depending on Gautama Buddha's teachings that a school of Buddhism emphasizes. The level to which this manifestation requires ascetic practices varies from none at all to an absolute requirement, dependent on doctrine. Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the bodhisattva ideal instead of the Arhat.
The Tathagatagarba and Buddha-nature doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism consider Buddhahood to be a universal and innate property of absolute wisdom. This wisdom is revealed in a person's current lifetime through Buddhist practice, without any specific relinquishment of pleasures or "earthly desires".
Buddhists do not consider Gautama to have been the only Buddha. The Pāli Canon refers to many previous ones (see list of the named Buddhas), while the Mahayana tradition additionally has many Buddhas of celestial origin (see Amitābha or Vairocana as examples, for lists of many thousands of Buddha names (see Taishō Tripiṭaka numbers 439–448).
The various Buddhist schools hold some varying interpretations on the nature of Buddha (see below).
All Buddhist traditions hold that a Buddha is fully awakened and has completely purified his mind of the three poisons of craving, aversion and ignorance. A Buddha is no longer bound by saṃsāra, and has ended the suffering which unawakened people experience in life.
Some Buddhists meditate on (or contemplate) the Buddha as having ten characteristics (Ch./Jp. 十號). These characteristics are frequently mentioned in the Pāli Canon as well as Mahayana teachings, and are chanted daily in many Buddhist monasteries:
The tenth epithet is sometimes listed as "The World Honored Enlightened One" (Skt. Buddha-Lokanatha) or "The Blessed Enlightened One" (Skt. Buddha-Bhagavan).
According to Buddhist texts, upon reaching Buddhahood each Buddha must perform ten acts during his life to complete his duty as a Buddha.
In the Pāli Canon, Gautama Buddha is known as being a "teacher of the gods and humans", superior to both the gods and humans in the sense of having nirvana or the greatest bliss, whereas the devas, or gods, are still subject to anger, fear and sorrow.
In the Madhupindika Sutta (MN 18), Buddha is described in powerful terms as the Lord of the Dhamma (Pali: Dhammasami, skt.: Dharma Swami) and the bestower of immortality (Pali: Amatassadata).
Similarly, in the Anuradha Sutta (SN 44.2) Buddha is described as
the Tathagata—the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment.
[Buddha is asked about what happens to the Tathagatha after death of the physical body. Buddha replies],
"And so, Anuradha—when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life—is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathagata—the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment—being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?
In the Vakkali Sutta (SN 22.87) Buddha identifies himself with the Dhamma:
O Vakkali, whoever sees the Dhamma, sees me [the Buddha]
O Vasettha! The Word of Dhammakaya is indeed the name of the Tathagata
Shravasti Dhammika, a Theravada monk, writes:
In the centuries after his final Nibbāna it sometimes got to the stage that the legends and myths obscured the very real human being behind them and the Buddha came to be looked upon as a god. Actually, the Buddha was a human being, not a 'mere human being' as is sometimes said but a special class of human called a 'complete person' (mahāparisa). Such complete persons are born no different from others and indeed they physically remain quite ordinary.
Sangharakshita also states that "The first thing we have to understand - and this is very important - is that the Buddha is a human being. But a special kind of human being, in fact the highest kind, so far as we know."
When asked whether he was a deva or a human, he replied that he had eliminated the deep-rooted unconscious traits that would make him either one, and should instead be called a Buddha; one who had grown up in the world but had now gone beyond it, as a lotus grows from the water but blossoms above it, unsoiled.
Andrew Skilton writes that the Buddha was never historically regarded by Buddhist traditions as being merely human:
It is important to stress that, despite modern Theravada teachings to the contrary (often a sop to skeptical Western pupils), he was never seen as being merely human. For instance, he is often described as having the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks or signs of a mahāpuruṣa, "superman"; the Buddha himself denied that he was either a man or a god; and in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta he states that he could live for an aeon were he asked to do so.
Jack Maguire writes that Buddha is inspirational based on his humanness.
A fundamental part of Buddhism's appeal to billions of people over the past two and a half millennia is the fact that the central figure, commonly referred to by the title "Buddha", was not a god, or a special kind of spiritual being, or even a prophet or an emissary of one. On the contrary, he was a human being like the rest of us who quite simply woke up to full aliveness.
Basing his teachings on the Lotus Sutra, the Chinese monk Chi-hi (the founder of the Tendai Sect) developed an explanation of life "three thousand realms in a single moment", which posits a Buddha nature that can be awakened in any life, and that it is possible for a person to become "enlightened to the Law". In this view, the state of Buddhahood and the states of ordinary people are exist with and within each other.
Nichiren, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism states that the real meaning of the Lord Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world lay in his behavior as a human being.:336¬-37 He also stated that "Shakyamuni Buddha . . . the Lotus Sutra . . . and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate drom each other".
In the early Buddhist schools, the Mahāsāṃghika branch regarded the buddhas as being characterized primarily by their supramundane nature. The Mahāsāṃghikas advocated the transcendental and supramundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the fallibility of arhats. Of the 48 special theses attributed by the Samayabhedoparacanacakra to the Mahāsāṃghika Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, and the Kukkuṭika, 20 points concern the supramundane nature of buddhas and bodhisattvas. According to the Samayabhedoparacanacakra, these four groups held that the Buddha is able to know all dharmas in a single moment of the mind. Yao Zhihua writes:
In their view, the Buddha is equipped with the following supernatural qualities: transcendence (lokottara), lack of defilements, all of his utterances preaching his teaching, expounding all his teachings in a single utterance, all of his sayings being true, his physical body being limitless, his power (prabhāva) being limitless, the length of his life being limitless, never tiring of enlightening sentient beings and awakening pure faith in them, having no sleep or dreams, no pause in answering a question, and always in meditation (samādhi).
A doctrine ascribed to the Mahāsāṃghikas is, "The power of the tathāgatas is unlimited, and the life of the buddhas is unlimited." According to Guang Xing, two main aspects of the Buddha can be seen in Mahāsāṃghika teachings: the true Buddha who is omniscient and omnipotent, and the manifested forms through which he liberates sentient beings through skillful means. For the Mahāsaṃghikas, the historical Gautama Buddha was one of these transformation bodies (Skt. nirmāṇakāya), while the essential real Buddha is equated with the Dharmakāya.
As in Mahāyāna traditions, the Mahāsāṃghikas held the doctrine of the existence of many contemporaneous buddhas throughout the ten directions. In the Mahāsāṃghika Lokānuvartana Sūtra, it is stated, "The Buddha knows all the dharmas of the countless buddhas of the ten directions." It is also stated, "All buddhas have one body, the body of the Dharma." The concept of many bodhisattvas simultaneously working toward buddhahood is also found among the Mahāsāṃghika tradition, and further evidence of this is given in the Samayabhedoparacanacakra, which describes the doctrines of the Mahāsāṃghikas.
Buddhas are frequently represented in the form of statues and paintings. Commonly seen designs include:
The Buddha statue shown calling for rain is a pose common in Laos.
Most depictions of Buddha contain a certain number of markings, which are considered the signs of his enlightenment. These signs vary regionally, but two are common:
In the Pāli Canon, there is frequent mention of a list of thirty-two physical characteristics of the Buddha.
The poses and hand-gestures of these statues, known respectively as asanas and mudras, are significant to their overall meaning. The popularity of any particular mudra or asana tends to be region-specific, such as the Vajra (or Chi Ken-in) mudra, which is popular in Japan and Korea but rarely seen in India. Others are more common; for example, the Varada (Wish Granting) mudra is common among standing statues of the Buddha, particularly when coupled with the Abhaya (Fearlessness and Protection) mudra.
Anuttarayoga Tantra (Sanskrit, Tibetan: bla na med pa'i rgyud), often translated as Unexcelled Yoga Tantra or Highest Yoga Tantra, is a term used in Tibetan Buddhism in the categorization of esoteric tantric Indian Buddhist texts that constitute part of the Kangyur, or the 'translated words of the Buddha' in the Tibetan Buddhist canon.
In the New Schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Anuttarayoga Tantra is the highest of four classes and is associated with the Mahamudra route to enlightenment. According to the Gelugpa tradition, in Highest Yoga Tantra, the Buddha taught the most profound instructions for transforming sensual pleasure into the quick path to enlightenment, which in turn depends upon the ability to gather and dissolve the inner winds (Sanskrit: prana) into the central channel through the power of meditation.In the classification of the Dzogchen system, used by the Nyingma, it is considered equivalent to the Mahayoga tantras. The Dalai Lama XIV states: "old translation Dzogchen and new translation anuttarayoga tantra offer equivalent paths that can bring the practitioner to the same resultant state of Buddhahood".The practice of Anuttarayoga Tantra in the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism is characterized by the requirement of empowerment from a qualified guru, usually a lama, use of ritual techniques, and the practice of various meditative and subtle body yogas, to effect personal transformation and to attain enlightenment through the realization of the mindstream as a Meditational Deity, or a Yidam. According to Miranda Shaw, Anuttarayoga Tantra texts "have remained at the forefront of contemplation, ritual, and interpretation throughout the Himalayan Buddhist sphere".Arhat
Theravada Buddhism defines arahant (Pali: Sanskrit: arhat) as one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana. Other Buddhist traditions have used the term for people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood.The understanding of the concept has changed over the centuries, and varies between different schools of Buddhism and different regions. A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools. The Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīya, Prajñaptivāda, and Caitika schools all regarded arhats as imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas.Mahayana Buddhist teachings urge followers to take up the path of a bodhisattva, and to not fall back to the level of arhats and śrāvakas. The arhats, or at least the senior arhats, came to be widely regarded as "moving beyond the state of personal freedom to join the Bodhisattva enterprise in their own way".Mahayana Buddhism regarded a group of Eighteen Arhats (with names and personalities) as awaiting the return of the Buddha as Maitreya, and other groupings of 6, 8, 16, 100, and 500 also appear in tradition and Buddhist art, especially in East Asia. They can be seen as the Buddhist equivalents of the Christian saints, apostles or early disciples and leaders of the faith.Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva ( BOH-dee-SUT-və) is any person who is on the path towards Buddhahood but has not yet attained it.
In the Early Buddhist schools as well as modern Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Pali: bodhisatta) refers to anyone who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and has also received a confirmation or prediction from a living Buddha that this will be so.In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature or Buddha Principle refers to several related terms, most notably tathāgatagarbha and buddhadhātu. Tathāgatagarbha means "the womb" or "embryo" (garbha) of the "thus-gone" (tathagata), or "containing a tathagata", while buddhadhātu literally means "Buddha-realm" or "Buddha-substrate".Tathāgatagarbha has a wide range of (sometimes conflicting) meanings in Indian and later East Asian and Tibetan Buddhist literature. Debates on what the term means continues to be a major part of Mahayana Buddhist scholastics.
For example, the Tibetan scholar Go Lotsawa outlined four meanings of the term Tathāgatagarbha as used by Indian Buddhist scholars generally: (1) As an emptiness that is a nonimplicative negation, (2) the luminous nature of the mind, (3) alaya-vijñana (store-consciousness), (4) all bodhisattvas and sentient beings.Buddharupa
Buddharūpa (literally, "Form of the Awakened One") is the Sanskrit and Pali term used in Buddhism for statues or models of beings who have obtained buddhahood, including the historical Buddha.Buddhist studies
Buddhist studies, also known as Buddhology, is the academic study of Buddhism. The term Buddhology was coined in the early 20th-century by Estlin Carpenter – a Unitarian minister, to mean the "study of Buddhahood, the nature of the Buddha, and doctrines of a Buddha", but the terms Buddhology and Buddhist studies are generally synonymous in the contemporary context. According to William M. Johnston, in some specific contexts, Buddhology may be viewed as a subset of Buddhist studies, with a focus on Buddhist hermeneutics, exegesis, ontology and Buddha's attributes. Scholars of Buddhist studies focus on the history, culture, archaeology, arts, philology, anthropology, sociology, theology, philosophy, practices, interreligious comparative studies and other subjects related to Buddhism.In contrast to the study of Judaism or Christianity, the field of Buddhist studies has been dominated by "outsiders" to Buddhist cultures and traditions. However, Japanese universities have also made major contributions, as have Asian immigrants to Western countries, and Western converts to Buddhism.Enlightenment in Buddhism
The English term enlightenment is the western translation of the abstract noun bodhi, (; Sanskrit: बोधि; Pali: bodhi), the knowledge or wisdom, or awakened intellect, of a Buddha. The verbal root budh- means "to awaken," and its literal meaning is closer to "awakening." Although its most common usage is in the context of Buddhism, the term buddhi is also used in other Indian philosophies and traditions. The term "enlightenment" was popularised in the Western world through the 19th century translations of Max Müller. It has the western connotation of a sudden insight into a transcendental truth or reality.
The term is also being used to translate several other Buddhist terms and concepts, which are used to denote insight (prajna, kensho and satori); knowledge (vidhya); the "blowing out" (Nirvana) of disturbing emotions and desires and the subsequent freedom or release (vimutti); and the attainment of Buddhahood, as exemplified by Gautama Buddha.
What exactly constituted the Buddha's awakening is unknown. It may probably have involved the knowledge that liberation was attained by the combination of mindfulness and dhyāna, applied to the understanding of the arising and ceasing of craving. The relation between dhyana and insight is a core problem in the study of Buddhism, and is one of the fundamentals of Buddhist practice.
In the western world the concept of (spiritual) enlightenment has taken on a romantic meaning. It has become synonymous with self-realization and the true self and false self, being regarded as a substantial essence being covered over by social conditioning., , ,Galdan Namchot
Galdan Namchot is a festival celebrated in Tibet, Mongolia and many regions of Himalaya and particularly in Ladakh, India. It is to commemorate the birth as well as parinirvana (death) and the Buddhahood of Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419 AD), a famous Scholar/teacher of Tibetan Buddhism whose activities led to the formation of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Galdan Namchot also marks the beginning of the new year celebrations in Ladakh.Hsuan Hua
Hsuan Hua (Chinese: 宣化; pinyin: Xuānhuà; literally: 'proclaim and transform'; April 16, 1918 – June 7, 1995), also known as An Tzu and Tu Lun, was a monk of Chan Buddhism and a contributing figure in bringing Chinese Buddhism to the United States in the 20th century.
Hsuan Hua founded several institutions in the US. The Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA) is a Buddhist organization with chapters in North America, Australia and Asia. The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) in Ukiah, California, is one of the first Chan Buddhist monasteries in America. Venerable Master Hsuan Hua founded Dharma Realm Buddhist University at CTTB. The Buddhist Text Translation Society works on the phonetics and translation of Buddhist scriptures from Chinese into English, Vietnamese, Spanish, and many other languages.List of bodhisattvas
In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist thought, a bodhisattva (Chinese: 菩薩; pinyin: púsà; Japanese pronunciation: bosatsu; Korean pronunciation: bosal) is a being who is dedicated to achieving complete Buddhahood. Conventionally, the term is applied to beings with a high degree of enlightenment. Bodhisattva literally means a "bodhi (enlightenment) being" in Sanskrit. Mahayana practitioners have historically lived in many other countries that are now predominantly Hindu, Muslim or Theravada Buddhist; remnants of reverence for bodhisattvas has continued in some of these regions.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of bodhisattvas primarily respected in Indian, Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism.List of the named Buddhas
In countries where Theravāda Buddhism is practiced by the majority of people, such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, it is customary for Buddhists to hold elaborate festivals, especially during the fair weather season, paying homage to the 28 Buddhas described in the Buddhavamsa. The Buddhavamsa is a text which describes the life of Gautama Buddha and the 27 Buddhas who preceded him. The Buddhavamsa is part of the Khuddaka Nikāya, which in turn is part of the Sutta Piṭaka. The Sutta Piṭaka is one of three main sections of the Pāli Canon of Theravāda Buddhism.
The first three of these Buddhas—Taṇhaṅkara, Medhaṅkara, and Saraṇaṅkara—lived before the time of Dīpankara Buddha. The fourth Buddha, Dīpankara, is especially important, as he was the Buddha who gave niyatha vivarana (prediction of future Buddhahood) to the Brahmin youth who would in the distant future become the bodhisattva Gautama Buddha. After Dīpankara, 23 more noble people (ariya-puggala) would attain enlightenment before Gautama, the historical Buddha.
Many Buddhists also pay homage to the future (and 29th) Buddha, Maitreya. According to Buddhist scripture, Maitreya will be a successor of Gautama who will appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure Dharma. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya is found in the canonical literature of all Buddhist sects (Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana), and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an event that will take place when the Dharma will have been forgotten on Jambudvipa (the terrestrial realm, where ordinary human beings live).Satori
Satori (悟り) (Chinese: 悟; pinyin: wù; Korean: 오 o; Vietnamese: ngộ) is a Japanese Buddhist term for awakening, "comprehension; understanding". It is derived from the Japanese verb satoru.In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to the experience of kenshō, "seeing into one's true nature". Ken means "seeing," shō means "nature" or "essence".Satori and kenshō are commonly translated as enlightenment, a word that is also used to translate bodhi, prajna and buddhahood.Sentient beings (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, sentient beings are beings with consciousness, sentience, or in some contexts life itself. Sentient beings are composed of the five aggregates, or skandhas: matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness. In the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha is recorded as saying that "just as the word 'chariot' exists on the basis of the aggregation of parts, even so the concept of 'being' exists when the five aggregates are available." While distinctions in usage and potential subdivisions or classes of sentient beings vary from one school, teacher, or thinker to another, it principally refers to beings in contrast with buddhahood. That is, sentient beings are characteristically not enlightened, and are thus confined to the death, rebirth, and dukkha (suffering) characteristic of saṃsāra.
However, Mahayana Buddhism simultaneously teaches that sentient beings also contain Buddha-nature—the intrinsic potential to transcend the conditions of saṃsāra and attain enlightenment, thereby obtaining Buddhahood.Those who greatly enlighten illusion are Buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about enlightenment are sentient beings."
In Mahayana Buddhism, it is to sentient beings that the Bodhisattva vow of compassion is pledged. Furthermore, and particularly in Tibetan Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism, all beings (including plant life and even inanimate objects or entities considered "spiritual" or "metaphysical" by conventional Western thought) are or may be considered sentient beings.Supratisthitacaritra
Supratiṣṭhitacāritra (Sanskrit: सुप्रतिष्ठितचारित्र; also known as Firm Practice), is one of the four great perfected bodhisattvas mentioned in the 15th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He is believed to represent the "bliss" characteristic of Buddhahood, which is the liberation from suffering.Tantra techniques (Vajrayana)
Tantra techniques in Vajrayana Buddhism are techniques used to attain Buddhahood.Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism (also Indo-Tibetan Buddhism) is the form of Buddhism named after the lands of Tibet where it is the dominant religion. It is also found in the regions surrounding the Himalayas (such as Bhutan, Ladakh, and Sikkim), much of Chinese Central Asia, the Southern Siberian regions such as Tuva, as well as in Mongolia.
Tibetan Buddhism is a form of Mahayana Buddhism stemming from the latest stages of Indian Buddhism (and so is also part of the tantric Vajrayana tradition). It thus preserves "the Tantric status quo of eighth-century India." However, it also includes native Tibetan developments and practices. In the pre-modern era, Tibetan Buddhism spread outside of Tibet primarily due to the influence of the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), founded by Kublai Khan, which ruled China, Mongolia and parts of Siberia. In the modern era, it has spread outside of Asia due to the efforts of the Tibetan diaspora.
Apart from classical Mahayana Buddhist practices like the six perfections, Tibetan Buddhism also includes Tantric practices, such as deity yoga and the Six Dharmas of Naropa. Its main goal is Buddhahood or rainbow body. The main language of scriptural study in this tradition is classical Tibetan.
Tibetan Buddhism has four major schools, namely Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. The Jonang is a smaller school, and the Rimé movement is a recent nonsectarian movement which cuts across the different schools. Each school is independent and has its own monastic institutions and leaders.Trikaya
The Trikāya doctrine (Sanskrit, literally "three bodies"; Chinese: 三身; pinyin: sānshēn; Japanese pronunciation: sanjin, sanshin; Korean pronunciation: samsin; Vietnamese: tam thân, Tibetan: སྐུ་གསུམ, Wylie: sku gsum) is a Mahayana Buddhist teaching on both the nature of reality and the nature of Buddhahood.Visistacaritra
Viśiṣṭacāritra (Sanskrit: विशिष्टचारित्र; also known as Superior Practice) is a bodhisattva mentioned in the 15th, 21st, and 22nd chapters of the Lotus Sutra. He is one of the four great perfected bodhisattvas who attends Gautama Buddha and protects the Lotus Sutra and its devotees. The other three are Anantacaritra, Visuddhacaritra, and Supratisthitacaritra; together they make up the four great primarily evolved bodhisattvas. Viśiṣṭacāritra is also believed to represent the "true self" characteristic of buddhahood, which is the selflessness of Nirvana.Women in Buddhism
Women in Buddhism is a topic that can be approached from varied perspectives including those of theology, history, anthropology and feminism. Topical interests include the theological status of women, the treatment of women in Buddhist societies at home and in public, the history of women in Buddhism, and a comparison of the experiences of women across different forms of Buddhism. As in other religions, the experiences of Buddhist women have varied considerably.
Scholars such as Bernard Faure and Miranda Shaw are in agreement that Buddhist studies is in its infancy in terms of addressing gender issues. Shaw gave an overview of the situation in 1994:
In the case of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism some progress has been made in the areas of women in early Buddhism, monasticism and Mahayana Buddhism. Two articles have seriously broached the subject of women in Indian tantric Buddhism, while somewhat more attention has been paid to Tibetan nuns and lay yoginis.
However Khandro Rinpoche, a female lama in Tibetan Buddhism, downplays the significance of growing attention to the topic:
When there is a talk about women and Buddhism, I have noticed that people often regard the topic as something new and different. They believe that women in Buddhism has become an important topic because we live in modern times and so many women are practicing the Dharma now. However, this is not the case. The female sangha has been here for centuries. We are not bringing something new into a 2,500-year-old tradition. The roots are there, and we are simply re-energizing them.
As a present evaluation of women (and equality) in Buddhism, Masatoshi Ueki gave a diachronic textual interpretation of Buddhist texts from Early Buddhism to the Lotus Sutra. Ueki examined the terms 'male' and 'female' as based not solely on the physical characteristics of each sex biologically but also on their functional roles within society, calling them the 'male principle' and 'female principle,' and concluded that no difference is preached in the Shakyamuni's teachings regarding the enlightenment of woman.
The establishment of the male principle in equal measure with the female principle is the natural order of things. They should never exist in a mutually exclusive relationship. They should not be an emphasis on one at the expense of the other, for both are indispensable. ... will the establishment of the true self be a fact of reality for both men and women.
Topics in Buddhism