Taking a comparative approach, this fieldwork-based study explores the lives and thoughts of Buddhist nuns in present-day Taiwan and Sri Lanka. The author examines the postcolonial background and its influence on the modern situation, as well as surveying the main historical, economic, and social factors which influence the position of nuns in society.
Based on original research, including interviews with nuns in both countries, the book examines their perspectives on controversial issues and in particular those concerning the status of women in Buddhism. Concerns discussed include allegedly misogynist teachings relating to women’s inferior karma, that they cannot become Buddhas, and that nuns have to follow additional rules that monks do not.
Bridging the gap between feminist theory and the reality of women in religion, the book makes a distinct contribution to the study of women in Buddhism by focusing on nuns from both of the main wings of Buddhism (Theravada and Mahayana) as well as furthering feminist studies of Buddhism and religion in general.
Table of Contents
1. Theological and Methodological Standpoint 2. Buddhist Women in Sri Lanka and Taiwan 2.1 Buddhist Women in Sri Lanka 2.2 Buddhist Women in Taiwan 3. Buddhist Nuns at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century 3.1 Scriptural Influence 3.2 Renunciation 3.3 Education 3.4 The Mixed-Sex Sangha 3.5 The Bhikkhuni Ordination 3.11 Buddhist Scriptures and Buddhists 3.12 Women’s Karma 3.13 Ultimate Goal 3.14 The Eight Special Rules 4. Conclusion. Bibliography
Wei-Yi Cheng is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Hsuan Chuang University, Taiwan. Her research interests include the Feminist study of Religions, Women in Buddhism, Buddhism in Taiwan, Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Postcolonialism.
'The strength of this book lies in its wealth of historical, descriptive and statistical details about Buddhist women in Taiwan and Sri Lanka, its informative, specialized Bibliography, its overall Conclusion with its valuable comparative insights and its recommendations regarding future research and developments among Buddhist women in Sri Lanka and Taiwan. Wei-Yi Cheng is to be congratulated on undertaking this important, innovative research which sets a new trail and is a real inspiration for doing more research on Buddhist nuns, opening up many new perspectives of enquiry for other scholars in the field.' - Ursula King, Religions of South Asia
"Buddhist Nuns in Taiwan and Sri Lanka: A Critique of the Feminist Perspective, provides readers a thought-provoking interpretation of the nuns’ experiences and their perspectives on the monastic life...It is a book to be appreciated—despite the need for significant editorial attention—both for what she reports about Buddhist nuns in Asia and what scholars can glean from it regarding how to take future research on nuns’ roles and responsibilities one step farther in the future."- RELIGIOUS STUDIES REVIEW Vol 39, Number 1, March 2013.