The author is Senior Lecturer in Buddhist Studies, SOAS, London, U.K.=英國倫敦大學亞非研究學院佛教研究教授
The aim of reinstating the Theravada nuns’ lineage has been a major motivating force in the production of Buddhist feminist and Buddhological gynocentric writings. While this is inspired by the wealth of evidence in Theravada literature for the intended inclusion of women on the soteriological path, so far the literatures of Mahayana and VajrayAna Buddhism have been far more productive than Theravada sources for the creation of modern feminist eadings. Nevertheless, there has been something of an imbalance in the chronological spectrum of sources used, with Mahayana and VajrayAna literature being drawn from across the centuries, while most examinations of Theravada sources confine themselves, with rare exceptions, to the Theravada canon. Even within the canon the focus for eliciting paradigms of Theravada approaches to the feminine has tended to be a relatively narrow selection of texts. My purpose here is to look at how current categorisations of the ways in which the feminine is represented in Buddhist literature are affected if we examine a broader range of Theravada literature and related practice. In this paper, I shall draw on material from the earliest, the ‘medieval’ and the pre-modern periods of Theravada to extend and qualify how Theravada is currently represented in Buddhist feminist writings. In so doing, I show a far greater range of the appropriation of feminine and androgynous symbols within Theravada soteriology and cosmography than previously observed. These provide authority for some of the positive feminist readings of Theravada similar to those found in relation to Mahayana and VajrayAna Buddhist symbolism.