A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

The hind legs of the elephant

I used this popular Thai saying to title this post, because even though it is Thai, it can be said to be the attitude of many cultures to women’s subordinate role to men. In many countries this still exists in practice if not officially proclaimed. In traditional Asian societies women are still considered to be the weaker sex. They also earn less than males for similar work. Yet when they get home they are expected to be the manager, workforce and entertainment director for the family. That most of them do all of this with such grace and dignity, humbles me.

In the west you may hear the term glass ceiling. This term refers to the virtually impenetrable, yet invisible barrier that keeps women and visible minorities from reaching the uppermost rungs of the corporate ladder. this regardless of their abilities, qualifications or achievements.

Perhaps we as men need to quit thinking of front and back, or who leads and who follows. Rather we should consider left and right sides. If men are the right side legs of the elephant then women are the left side legs, then together they carry the family on their back. This would help both sexes understand their relationship to each other as equal partners, who jointly move forward in life. At times the right foot leads, then the left foot advances further forward. If both sides carry their fair share in advancing the family all will be in harmony. If only one side is doing all the advancing, then just as an elephant, we would just be going around in a small circle. The Buddha said women have the same innate abilities as men to achieve enlightenment. Perhaps it is time we males helped then carry the load more equitably. If we do then we honor our mothers, sisters, daughters and wife as beings worthy of  our love and respect.

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