Women in Buddhism: Questions & Answers


In the role of female followers, what should Buddhist women do?


Buddhism will prosper or decline depending on the establishment of the four groups of Buddhists: monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. However, when we see some shortcomings in our society, we are accustomed to pointing our fingers towards the monks holding responsibility for the problems. In fact the monks are only one of the four groups in Buddhist community. All of us, laymen and laywomen, hold equal responsibility for the problems.

When the Buddha established the four groups of Buddhists, he wanted to make sure that this establishment will be solid foundation. Each one shares equal responsibility towards the development of Buddhism. Three important factors are involved in this establishment i.e. they have studied and understood the teaching, they put the teaching into practice and they are able to defend and explain the teaching correctly. As female followers of the Buddha, Buddhist women must be aware to fulfil each one’s duty and responsibility towards this establishment.

Generally Thai Buddhists tend to hold on to an attitude “If it is bad, its up to the nuns, if it is good, it is up to the monks,” that is, if the monks or nuns should do anything bad, it is their business, we as laypeople should not interfere. This attitude is harmful for the establishment of Buddhism. If we see one of the four members of the groups do wrong we remain silent, our silence, our non-interference, actually promotes wrong doing and further harms the growth of Buddhism. It is therefore important that each one of the Buddhist groups must bear equal responsibility and see themselves as one united community. If one is doing something harmful, it is going to harm the rest of the community and with the age of globalisation the negative acts result in a domino effect.