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Speech by Khenpo Bumdhen on International Women’s Day 2018 : Appreciating Her

Speech by Khenpo Bumdhen on International Women’s Day 2018 : Appreciating Her

In the Buddhist teachings, women and men are held as equals with both possessing
the same potential to achieve enlightenment. Therefore, any discrimination towards
women is considered a major transgression.
Specifically, in the Vajrayana teachings, among the fourteen root precepts that cannot
be transgressed to be a genuine practitioner on the path of Vajrayana, the 14th precept
relates directly to the tenet of cherishing and honoring women and their wisdom.
Thus, it is held that any kind of discrimination against women is a serious violation of
the core Vajrayana precepts.
The Buddha stated in the Tantra:
བུད་མེད་ཤེས་རབ་རང་བཞིན་ལ།།་སྨོས་པ་བྱེད་པ་བཅུ་བཞི་པ།།བཅུ་བཞི་ཕོག་པ་མཐོལ་ལོ་བཤགས།།
Which translates to:
I confess the 14th Root Downfall of disparaging women who embody the essential
nature of Wisdom.
It is evident from the history of the great wisdom traditions of the world that all of the
greatest saints and enlightened beings such as Buddha Shakyamuni, Zhabdrung
Ngawang Namgyal, Jesus Christ, Prophet Moses, etc were all conceived and nurtured
by gracious women. It is thanks to all such gracious women that we are blessed with
these great teachers.
Moreover, the legacy of Vajrayana Buddhism celebrates and reveres highly
accomplished and powerful women such as Jetsun Dolma or Tara, Niguma, Yeshe
Tshogyal, Mendarava, Machi-labdron, and some amazingly accomplished Bhutanese
women like Khandro Sonam Peldon from Thimphu, Tashi Kheuden from Khoma,
Lhuntsi, Lhachik Bumdhen from Bumthang, Ani Choeten Zangmo also from
Bumthang who founded the great monastic seat of Drametse, to name a few. All of
these women who overcame many obstacles and attained the highest levels of
realization in order to benefit all beings.
Similarly, in Mahayana Buddhism, women are believed to represent wisdom. It is this
wisdom that is reverentially held to give birth to all the Buddhas of the past, present
and future. Therefore, such a tradition of elevating and honoring woman-hood is
evident in the honorific reference to Transcendental Wisdom – the highest state of
realization – as Mother Prajnaparamita or Yum Chenmo Sherab Ki Pharol-tu-chinpa.
In the Prajnaparamitra sutra, the Buddha said;
སྨྲ་བསམ་བརྗོད་མེད་ཤེས་རབ་ཕ་རོལ་ཕྱིན།།
མ་སྐྱེས་མི་འགག་ནམ་མཁའི་ངོ་བོ་ཉིད།།
སོ་སོ་རང་རིག་ཡེ་ཤེས་སྤྱོད་ཡུལ་བ།།
དུས་གསུམ་རྒྱལ་བའི་ཡུམ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ།།