The most wonderful aspect of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is the teaching of gender equality found in the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha of ancient India taught in the Lotus Sutra that all livings beings possess within them the world of Buddhahood, or enlightenment. Shakyamuni Buddha lived in an incredibly discriminatory society, yet he preached the equality of all people, regardless of sex, social status, or wealth. He taught that discriminating against another person is the same as discriminating against ourselves.
Discrimination, racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia are still alive and well in the U.S. today. We see it on the evening news every night. From the recently expelled University of Oklahoma students, to the newly released Department of Justice report that found Ferguson police and courts’ abusive behavior disproportionately targeted African-Americans. There are just as many instances of discrimination which target other racial/ethnic groups, gays and lesbians, and or course, women.
2015 isn’t so different from Shakyamuni’s time. “Shakyamuni was seen as a dangerous person by conservative elements of society who stood by the status quo.” This is exactly what happened when Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan in October 2012. The Taliban viewed Malala as a dangerous person who was advocating for a girl’s right to an education, something they do not believe in. The Taliban, and many other conservative sectors of society, whether they be political, religious, or social, appear to fear equality in all its forms.