The Real Buddha—An Oppressed and Forgotten Woman

The Real Buddha—
An Oppressed and Forgotten Woman

This post is a revisioning of the answers to How did Buddhism begin? and How did Buddha achieve enlightenment?

My revisioning started with a vision. Then I built on that otherworldly experience using reason–including plain old common sense.

Buddhism is a beautiful religion. However, I know remarkable women who are devoted Buddhist practitioners and suffered from Buddhism as an institution. A few of these women came to me to heal these traumas.

I am afraid to post this. People are quick to attack. Buddhism is supposedly beyond reproach. And as a woman, I am not supposed to speak truths about oppression. But knowing the suffering some Buddhist groups caused the women who came to me, I can’t stay silent. I have to publish this in hopes it will keep others from suffering.

This post started as musings written for my own sake. I never intended to publish them. Here’s more about why I, eventually, felt compelled to post such a personal piece:

The healing I did for the aforementioned women included reading to them the musings that I later expanded into this post. They reported that my ideas were an important healing for them. So here are those ideas, in hopes they help other people.

As you will see, I am criticizing neither Buddhist practitioners nor Buddhism, but rather Buddhism as an institution. All religions offer vital messages. Among Buddhism’s are the importance of compassion, gentleness, and meditation. However, religious institutions often betray the principles they are meant to uphold.

Criticism of a religious institution is not wholesale criticism of the religion itself, nor its practice, texts, beliefs, or practitioners.

Nor is criticism condemnation.

And with that, I share my musings:

A Revisioning of How Buddhism Began

I’m not interested in Buddha’s teachings. I want to learn from the woman who intentionally created an opportunity for his enlightenment by bringing him a bowl of rice. She was the real Buddha.

A False Buddha

Here is a widespread account of how Siddhartha Gautama became Buddha:

A prince renounced his wealth and privilege to seek spirituality. All his efforts were for naught.

Then one day, a happenstance passerby brought him a bowl of rice. Due to all the spiritual work Siddhartha Gautama had already done, he became enlightened at that moment.

The passerby was a mere woman and thus of no significance; anyone could have offered rice, and enlightenment would’ve occurred.

No. I don’t believe that story.

Who Is Buddha—the Real Buddha

Here’s my revisioning of the bowl of rice tale.

Buddha was a woman.

The real Buddha was the rice-giver. Her action was the catalyst for his enlightenment, and she acted intentionally. She was the original Buddhist teacher. She was Buddha. He was a false Buddha—a spoiled, entitled prince who ran from responsibilities instead of using his royal power to make a positive difference. And, as this essay will demonstrate, he wielded his power to oppress the real Buddha. But her?

I imagine she was the enlightened one with the true teachings. I imagine her as the consummate Shamanic guide. I imagine she knew exactly how to shift the cells of the prince in the exact state he was in that moment, including his state of mind, body, and spirit: offer him rice.

The true Buddha, she was immensely skilled and advanced spiritually and mystically. Thus, she could help transform a soul with a simple bowl of rice, coupled with a psychic technique that I’ll address in a moment.

His previous spiritual strivings built a foundation for enlightenment surely. That doesn’t disprove my theory but reinforces it. A good Shamanic teacher recognizes the student’s brilliance, abilities, and readiness to receive specific lessons. That teacher also understands how to create that lesson. She co-created Siddhartha Gautama’s breakthrough. She too was its foundation.

His denial of co-creation caused him to eventually, if not immediately, lose the lesson. More about that in a bit.

Perhaps I should not criticize Siddhartha Gautama. Jesus’s message was wonderful until Paul turned it into a rant that enforced a free-for-all hatred of women. Perhaps those who came after Siddhartha Gautama betrayed his teachings by rewriting his story and messages.

If my criticisms should be aimed at the Pauls of Buddhism, everything I say herein can serve as my feminist evaluation, criticism, and revisioning of their story rather than of the story that perhaps was told by their tradition’s originator but has since been buried.

Too often, religious institutions obstruct spiritual seekers. Achievement of Buddhism’s ethics, beauties, and powers is attainable only if we honor the woman who was quite possibly the source of Buddhism’s ethics, beauties, and powers (except for what was borrowed from other spiritual paths).

An example: A woman who’d been a devoted Buddhist practitioner for decades attended my classes. You don’t have to identify as Pagan to work with me. I intuited I should read her the early version of this essay. She told me the piece lifted years of pain and confusion from her. She said I helped her have significant breakthroughs. Now, she can practice Buddhism with sovereignty and greater power. Feminist Buddhism.

I wrote that initial version in Sept 2019. I didn’t fully know why I’d written it. I didn’t know whether I should do anything with it. (As I said, it’s a personal piece.) Shortly afterwards, I read the essay to the aforementioned student who helped me understand it was useful to someone other than me. Her shock at hearing the truth and being relieved of her pain, as well as her gratitude for that, showed me how different my perspective on Buddhism’s origins is, and how that perspective is needed. But the essay sat idle for a few more years. Then my Fairy Gods told me the time is now. So I expanded the early version to create what you’re reading. Then, long story short, sigh, the new version sat a good while. Maybe a year or two. Anyway, if you know why my Gods told me the time is now, please tell me.

Three important asides:

This sigil heals and brings overall luck. I channeled the sigil and placed it here to bless my work, that I may do it in the spirit of service and love.1) This post might have a few incorrect historical or religious details (religious not being synonymous with spiritual). This is not an academic historical treatise. Applying academic standards would miss the mark. Possible historical and religious errors did not stop my ideas from empowering the aforementioned student.

2) A friend pointed out that this post uses language that frames my revisioning as fact. I disagree. Long ago, I wrote, “I think…” in a class, and the teacher said, “Don’t ever say that in anything you write. Of course we know the ideas you’re writing down are what you think. You’re the one writing the essay.”

Patriarchal versions of history are just as much up for grabs as any other version. They are expressed as fact. A woman explaining that her counters to those assumptions are just her thoughts diminishes her and her contributions. It is also an apology for speaking her mind. This post expresses opinions, not attempts to enforce them.

3) Racism, classism, and other isms are inextricably of a piece and need to be addressed as such. Each is also a distinct problem that must be addressed individually.

As a teacher, I want shamanic lessons I give to help fight isms, in a consistent, embodied manner as opposed to mere occasional rhetoric.

My musings about the original Buddha focus on sexism. However, when I mention patriarchy here, I’m referring to all isms, to a degree. All of them are inherent to patriarchy. And isms always weave together.

Buddhism’s Real Founder Is Denied

In one way, I don’t want to call that woman the founder of Buddhism because she is not responsible for the sexism I have seen inflicted on some Buddhist women.

But the established story is slanted, as if she, a mere woman, could not possibly have been intelligent enough, sophisticated enough, and spiritual enough to know what she was doing with that bowl of rice, right? The student—Siddhartha Gautama—took credit for his teacher’s insights, work, and abilities.

She understood about the rice bowl! She passed that understanding on to Siddhartha Gautama.

Equally important, she added psychic underpinnings to her gesture. As is often the case in traditional teachings, she psychically passed to him, along with the bowl of rice, an experience. The combination facilitated enlightenment.

In other words, she not only understood an offer of rice embodied the experiential lesson he needed, she also elevated that lesson to yet another level through her mystical abilities. The mystical power she applied is called a direct spiritual transmission. If you want to know more about direct spiritual transmissions, click here.

The gift she gave was an enormous act of generosity.

Then he—or his Pauls—used her the way women are constantly used, as if they have no value: He took credit for her work.

How many years did that woman work on her spirituality and otherworldly techniques to reach the point where she could immediately understand what a passerby needed to reach an illumination of their soul? How many years until she could help create illumination with a direct spiritual transmission? How many years until she could help create illumination in so simple and humble a manner?

Recorded History Is Often Erasure
of the Exceptional by the Mediocre

Innovators and great souls often die nameless, defamed, or relegated to a footnote. Mary Magdalene was supposedly a prostitute as opposed to one of Christ’s apostles. Einstein obscured the brilliant work of Mileva Marić Einstein, the woman who developed the theory of relativity with him.

Without her tutelage, there is a good chance he wouldn’t have gotten through school. Like many oppressors, he married a brilliant woman then did everything possible to not only obscure her contributions but to crush her. For example, a single cruel remark of his shows he tried to erase her work and break her: When asked about his wife, he postured as the absent-minded genius and referred to her as “the woman who darns my socks.” Mind-boggling cruelty.

History gives the name Sujata to the woman I believe was Siddhartha Gautama’s teacher. I think of her as erased and forgotten nonetheless. If my revisioning is correct, the world has no knowledge of the actual person. A convenient depiction of her, formulated by her oppressors, is all that remains. I hope this post begins to correct that.

Ruthless erasure of the exceptional by the mediocre is the norm. This makes my story about Sujata more believable to me than the story that enlightenment was Siddhartha’s alone, accidentally helped by her. Maybe there’s no way of ever knowing the truth. So I choose the version most believable and most helpful to me spiritually. Sujata, to my mind, was the original Buddha.

A Feminist Prayer to the Real Buddha

In some ways, I don’t care what names history gives Sujata because they could be part of the lies. I call upon her as Sujata and by what names I imagine:

Sujata, original Buddha,
Bringer of Rice,
Bringer of Truth,
Humble Power-Giver,
I recognize you.
I pray to you.
Please teach me your wisdoms
So that I may study from greatness.
Please help me embody your wisdoms.
Please help me be the teacher I want to be.
Please help me focus on spirit
instead of false ego
in all the classes I teach,
all the lessons I channel,
and all my moments.
Thank you!

Toxic Religion Bolsters Patriarchy

Has there ever been a female Dalai Lama?

Remember that everything I say herein might need to be applied to Buddhism’s “Paul” instead of to Siddhartha Gautama. My revisioning continues:

Siddhartha Gautama poisoned his enlightenment by hiding the rice-giver’s enlightenment and taking credit for her wisdom. He passed this poison down, creating toxic elements in institutionalized Buddhism.

No religion or institution is free of oppressive elements. I am not suggesting that all Buddhist teachings, principles, texts, or structures across all cultures are toxic. I’m positing that parts foster sexism, classism, and other oppressive hierarchies. I’m pointing out how Buddhism’s origin story might feed oppressive aspects of Buddhism.

Lack of attribution is typical in patriarchal society and engenders spiritual illness. Bear with me as I explain:

Anyone can access the ultimate sources of power, beauty, and all other things—Divinity and Nature. (Nature is surely part of the Divine, as much as anything could be.) Patriarchy tries to strip us of this human heritage and insists we instead obey our oppressor to receive power from the Divine.

Patriarchy also teaches that some of life’s crucial necessities can be bestowed upon us solely by the magnanimity of a ruling class.

I developed Shamanic methods to counter this. I won’t list them all here, but they include rites that clear away internalized oppression—inhumane programming—and thus open our innate connections to Divinity and Nature, so we can receive all bounty, beauty, and power. Click here to receive announcements of my events. They support your relationship with the Divine.

Along with inner transformation, society needs to change. This brings us back to the origin of Buddhism:

Connection to Spirit Requires Honoring All Sources

Some individuals devote themselves to spiritual growth, psychic development, and creating spiritual material that assists other people’s connections to Divinity and Nature.

When these intermediaries empower us to access the Divine and Nature as sources, those intermediaries are sources.

Our connection to Nature and the Divine is diminished to whatever degree we disclaim our worldly and spiritual sources. To whatever degree we lose connection to the Divine, we lose the same degree of spiritual health.

In other words, not attributing individual women and Shamans as the source of the material they create and/or convey orally, experientially, or in print feeds the patriarchal agenda of disconnecting us from the ultimate source, even if that is not one’s intent.

Whether it is one’s intention or not to steal, stolen lessons disconnect the thief from the Divine. I’m not chastising anyone who does this unintentionally or learns lessons they did not know were stolen. I am providing information so they have alternatives.

Honoring Shamanic Lessons Taught Experientially

Matriarchal culture is Shamanic culture and has egalitarian organization. In matriarchal teachings, many lessons are not conveyed through abstract, theoretical lectures but by submerging a person in this culture. It embodies the principles being taught. A bowl of rice.

My personal experiences help explain this further:

When I teach, I talk about Shamanism very little compared to the time I spend trying to embody the nuts and bolts of Shamanism and teaching others how to do the same. A bowl of rice.

I analyze everything around me. I’m an excellent theorist. But analysis and theory are not enough. Shamanic practices that help my students and me embody our visions, ethics, and dreams are pivotal to Shamanism as I view it.

It is important to embody Shamanism–embody, body, body. Patriarchy wants us to stay in the head, in theory, in analysis, away from the body, with disdain for our human bodies, disregard for the body that is the living earth, and distance from the body of un-stifled movement that is daily life.

In that vein, my teaching methods set up a cultural matrix in which my classes take place. Best as I’m able, the matrix embodies—and thus conveys—the following practices and cosmology:
* honor for the life, sacredness, and beauty that abides in all things
* power that is not dominance but found in personal wholeness, tribal participation, and the enchantment that flows throughout the universe—connectivity and cooperation instead of trying to control everything and everybody. This includes connecting and cooperating with the various parts of oneself.
* sexual and other pleasures without shame
* abundance on the physical plane, instead of a “spiritual” path that fosters self-neglect

It is said Siddhartha Gautama spent almost no time teaching theory or cosmology because it left little time for practices. He got that right. It is part of the lessons he stole, learned through an experiential lesson—a bowl of rice offered as embodied wisdom.

Stolen Lessons Become Toxic Teachings

I’ve touched on this topic already, but it should be explored more.

Women’s and Pagan cultures are often oral traditions. Repeatedly, Shamans’ and women’s innovations in theories, practices, and sacred art are unattributed, misattributed, or cited as “traditional.”

For a long time, I didn’t care when my work was used without my name on it. I didn’t want my ego to get out of hand. Ultimately, everything comes from the Gods. But I learned that lack of attribution is not healthy for anyone involved.

Lack of attribution is spiritual, emotional, and financial oppression, even if unintended.

Physical, spiritual, and emotional oppressions are of a piece. Inflict one, and you inflict the others. So I’ll discuss them all together.

First, I’ll share personal experiences about how stolen lessons cause spiritual, emotional, and material harm to people who receive those lessons.

Backstory: Throughout the resurgence of Goddess spirituality in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, I created a massive body of material, including rituals, chants, other liturgies, lyrical meditations, poems (often presented as prose lectures or liturgy), Shamanic theories and methods, and a cosmology consistent with all this work. Some material has been conveyed in print, other orally, and some channeled in the middle of a class and never repeated by me. I have been a seminal influence.

A great deal of my poetry anonymously entered the oral and written literature of earth-centered and other alternative spirituality. My innovative liturgy, Shamanic techniques, and theories have become just as ubiquitous and are likely to appear anonymously, misattributed, or as “traditional,” not only in Pagan circles but also in non-Pagan systems of self-help and inner change. A lot of my work is now considered standard material, unattributed worldwide.

A great deal of the work was bastardized—rewritten so it no longer frees people but can instead be used as a tool to uphold systemic oppression. End of backstory.

My heart aches because I have repeatedly seen thieves misapply–or rewrite—my material so that it supports oppression. I watch material I spent decades developing to uplift people being used instead for evil, rewritten to become an asset for oppressors.

I have wept for the people who unwittingly studied the bastardizations and suffered terribly as a result.

I grieve for the lost power those people endure, the years they lost studying with bad teachers, and the tragedies they met.

These tragedies were caused by the bastardizations or were challenging situations that anyone might encounter—for example, a financial crisis—and get stuck in when ill-advised.

I watched thieves of my material misapply it in ways that demoralized their students who otherwise might’ve been able to, for example, get ahead financially. This litany of terrible things I’ve observed just begins the list.

Lack of attribution is stealing. Stolen spiritual material is toxic not only to the thief but also to their students. After all, the means define the end.

What’s more, if someone intentionally steals spiritual credit, they do not understand the teachings they stole. Thus they pass on their ego-driven, selfish misunderstandings—teachings that are not a good lineage, not conducive to honorable living, spiritual growth, or powerful, effective magic.

A Religious Elite Causes
Poverty and a Toxic Economy

I want to further discuss the systemic financial oppression that patriarchy inflicts on creators. Let’s return to the common argument that caring about whether one’s work is used without permission or attribution is succumbing to greed and ego. The argument sometimes includes, “Ultimately, everything comes from the Gods anyway.”

That is all a high-brow, holier-than-thou way of shaming someone for their healthy reactions.

The desires to get credit for your work and own the hard won fruits of your labor are good. If people know the source of material, they can learn it rather than a stolen, bastardized harmful version.

Also, receiving credit for your work can be financially vital. Gautama’s disregard for his teacher followed the economic norm of his social class. Groups in power claim ownership of everything, stealing it all, which leaves a large portion of the population in poverty and the brutal life thereof.

Lack of attribution is financial oppression. Stealing material someone developed is economic brutality.

The accepted norm is to not only steal a woman’s innovations in science, commerce, art, etc., but to also bastardize her gentleness, genius, soul, or other strengths, and profit from them. This norm is applied to other oppressed groups.

Destroy Systemic Oppression:
Accredit Your Sources

Accrediting source material—including what you’ve learned orally and experientially—helps dismantle systemic oppression.

Accreditation is not always possible, not by a long shot. But we do what we can to have each other’s backs.

When you attribute your source, you claim your worth because it won’t be based on false ego but on truths. One of those truths is that you are an ally to creators, and as such, you help destroy systemic oppression. So mote it be!

Take Credit for Your Work:
Destroy Systemic Oppression

Taking credit for your work helps dismantle systemic oppression.

To anyone whose work has been stolen … or not: Claim your worth. It is not false ego to want credit for your work. Taking credit helps everyone because it helps destroy systemic thieving norms.

Taking steps to earn a reasonable living from your creations is a way to stand up for all oppressed individuals. If that doesn’t make sense, think of someone who stood up for their own rights and how their actions inspired other people to do the same.

Healing from Religious Trauma

Though some women experienced major healing from the earlier version of this essay, they nonetheless needed more support. I gave it to them. If you’d like that for yourself, click here to schedule a spiritual transmission.

It will address what you need to heal from oppression.

My transmissions don’t focus on facilitating enlightenment, not in the way usual transmissions do. My Gods are Pagan. They want to help you be happy on the spiritual and mundane planes. My transmissions focus on soul-healing, money, good luck, health, enlightenment, or whatever else is important to you. I do not consider enlightenment separate from the rest of life. So mote it be!

More about Healing through Spiritual Transmissions

If an individual needs healing from trauma, my transmission focuses on whatever that person needs in order to heal. For example:

A transmission can give you insights into how to earn a good living from your creations. Then, abundance can contribute to healing trauma. Healing is not separate from life. Life’s goodness heals us. Life’s goodness—for example, abundance—can be pivotal to healing.

This is not to say that healing from trauma never requires a focus on inner transformation in itself. I work a lot on that with my clients. But often, there’s another step: life’s sweet goodness is a healing agent.

We can create the lives we choose for ourselves and enjoy life’s sweetness. We can help others do the same. We can have power over our lives—together!

Click here for a spiritual transmission

This entry was posted in Community, Spirit, The Whole Thing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.