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The Dalai Lama and the "Age of the Woman"

By Matthieu Ricard on June 02, 2012

Recently, during his visit to Yeunten Ling, a well-known Buddhist center in Huy, Belgium. His Holiness spoke about the role of women :

‟Ancient nomadic tribes were egalitarian and not governed by chiefs. Then came the age of sedentary agriculture and the beginning of the accumulation of wealth. Some troublemakers emerged and it became necessary to call on leaders to keep things in order. Physical strength was essential and naturally male domination took hold.

‟Then came the age of education, intelligence, and reason. Women and men are equal in these areas. Nowadays, although there remains much progress to be accomplished, we have entered the age of equality between men and women.

‟If we look ahead, it seems that the essential qualities society will need are affection, concern for others, altruism, and compassion. It is clear that women are naturally more inclined to be caring and more compassionate than men. This probably comes from the maternal instinct to care for a child who depends on her, to be concerned with its sufferings and happiness. Faced with the need to promote a more altruistic society, it seems that we might be entering the ‟age of the woman.”

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And the Dalai Lama concluded : ‟For my part, I consider myself as a ‟feminist.”

When the Dalai Lama expounded this view in the Peace Summit in Vancouver in 2009 in which five women winners of the Nobel Peace Prize participated, Mary Robinson, the first woman president of Ireland and former High Commissioner to the United Nations Human Rights, commented: ‟If I tell that I am a feminist, it surprises no one. But if the Dalai Lama says he is a feminist, that's really something special ! ‟

The Dalai Lama often says that if a time came when women could exert a greater and more beneficial influence in society, the next Dalai Lama not only could be female, but should be.