Explorations in Women, Rights, and Religions - Morny Joy

Explorations in Women, Rights, and Religions - Morny Joy

Caring Detachment in Buddhism and Implications for Women’s Rights

Explorations in Women, Rights, and Religions - Morny Joy

Suwanna Satha-Anand [+-]
Chulalongkorn University
Professor Suwanna Satha-Anand’s interests cover the fields of Buddhist Philosophy, Confucian Ethics, Women and Buddhism, and Religion. Currently she is invited Professor, Philosophy Department, Chulalongkorn University and Senior Research Scholar, The Buddhist Pluralism Project. Her major publications include Faith and Reason: A Philosophical Dialogue on Religion and Ethics of Reciprocity in Confucius’ Philosophy. She wrote the first philosophical translation into Thai of the Analects of Confucius. Besides being the first woman President Philosophy and Religion Society of Thailand, at the 24th World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing 2018, she was elected Secretary General of the International Philosophical Societies.


Despite its seemingly limiting force for women’s liberation, caring is a core value that defines various key relationships in human co-existence. On the other hand, detachment is an illustration of spiritual liberation in Buddhism. These two aspects of human experience seem to cancel each other out. This paper is an attempt to illustrate and investigate ‘caring detachment’ in Buddhism by exploring and analyzing the ways in which the Buddha deals with two cases of women who are in deep and extreme sorrow, namely the cases of Paṭācārā, the mad and naked woman who lost all her family members in one day of storm and torrential rain, and Kisā Gotamī the mother who cannot come to terms with the fact that her dear son had died. It will be argued that, for the Buddha, detachment does not cancel out caring. In these two cases, the Buddha shows great compassion in his positive engagement in the emotional turmoil of Paṭācārā and Kisā Gotamī, while simultaneously instructing them out of the entrapment of deep and extreme sorrow. Implications for the respect of human rights for women in Buddhism will be discussed.

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Satha-Anand, Suwanna. Caring Detachment in Buddhism and Implications for Women’s Rights. Explorations in Women, Rights, and Religions. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 278-294 Feb 2020. ISBN 9781781798393. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=38854. Date accessed: 20 Jan 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.38854. Feb 2020

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