Enlightenment has been the center of my life since I was a small child. And I am a woman. At a young age, I also became aware that some religions don’t believe that women can achieve enlightenment or even be allowed into sections of an all-male heaven. I was perplexed.
Are you going to tell me that I won’t be allowed into the boys club of enlightened beings because I have been blessed with certain physical attributes or a certain distribution of hormones in my system?
Whether we have testosterone running through our veins or estrogen has nothing whatsoever to do with our Soul’s path. Those things belong to the body and determine whether we are male or female strictly for reproductive purposes.
From an enlightened point of view, we are not our bodies. They are the vehicles through which our Souls experience physical existence as part of their karmic journeys. It’s absurd to think that a male, regardless of how he behaved in this life, has a better chance of going to heaven than a female who has led a life of caring and spiritual pursuits.
One example is Digambar Jains. I am generally a big fan of Jains except on this one point. They believe that women are not capable of being enlightened. Svetambar Jains have opposite beliefs, believing that women are capable of enlightened and can become religious role models. But women, especially among Svetambar Jains, are believed to be deceitful. They believe that deceit is the foundation of their character. The reason they were reborn as a woman is because they were deceitful in a former life.
One of their sacred texts states:
“As the result of manifesting deception, a man in this world becomes a woman. As a woman, if her heart is pure, she becomes a man in this world.”
And men aren’t deceitful? That is my question. What does gender have to do with it? According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 93.% of the population in prisons are males and 6.7% are females. Is it not deceit to steal peoples lives through murder, theft, racketeering, con artistry, and other crimes? So please don’t tell me how holy the male population is, based on their criminal behavior.
According to a study entitled: Women in the Afterlife: The Islamic View as Seen from Quran and Tradition by Jane I. Smith and Yvonne Y. Haddad:
“The most basic relationship in Islamic society is not between a man and a woman but between a man and God: It is definitely not between woman and God.
. . .men, have, upon occasion, apparently used the assurance of their own place in eternity as a tool of control and of dominance.”
Yet other religious systems based on the Goddess, instead of a patriarchal punitive God, have deemed women as the leaders in enlightenment.
Heaven, (which I have experienced as enlightenment here on earth) is not a physical place of luxury where women take a subservient role as they wait upon men. This is fun fantasy for the male ego. This fairytale is not based on spirituality or any of my own deeply-held experiences of enlightenment. It looks like a pride-based and greedy imaginary man-made creation, based on physical dominance, very similar to life on earth.