Monday, April 29, 2013

No Longer MIA in History

by Munissara Bhikkhuni

Recently I was reading a report on the activities of a monks’ monastery in the local Buddhist group´s newsletter. I knew that the monks, especially the abbot, had been very kind and allowed a Buddhist nun to stay at the limited women´s quarters in the monastery to do a three-month retreat during the traditional rainy season retreat period. I was therefore expecting that the nun would be included in the report’s description of the community that spent the rains retreat and was surprised to find it made no mention of her at all. It enumerated only monks, postulants training to be monks, and laypeople.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

DANAM: Call for Papers

Every year, DANAM (Dharma Academy of North America) convenes a conference in conjunction with the AAR (American Academy of Religion). This year the AAR will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, from November 23-26, with the DANAM conference generally held the day before. The theme for this year's gathering is “Modern Masters.”
Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo has been asked to help convene a DANAM panel and has proposed the topic "Buddhist Women Masters." A subtitle will be selected based on the papers selected. If you would like to submit a proposal for this panel, please send it to Ven. Lekshe by May 1: tsomo@sandiego.edu. You are welcome to circulate this announcement to your colleagues and students.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Sakyadhita is Important: A look at Buddhist women's experience from the Therigatha and today

by Sarana Nona Olivia

Female monastics and Buddhist laywomen listen to His Holiness the Karmapa
at the 13th International Sakyadhita Conference, January 2013.

With a desire to translate the Therigatha and a small grant from Naropa, I spent part of summer 2000 at the Barre Center, learning Pali. Lucky for me, Pali is a close cognate to ancient Greek so with Andy generously answering questions and Mu Seong and Sumi making me feel at home, I was able to complete the 522 stanzas, or some 72 poems. Included in the Khuddaka Nikaya, the Therigatha is said to be verses composed by the first bhikkhunis, contemporaneous to the historical Buddha. Having been trained as a classicist and always looking for extant material composed by women, I was drawn to the Therigatha partly because it is among the oldest texts attributed to women and also because I wanted to see how it could be used as a teaching text. Clearly, since it had been preserved, it must have had a purpose.

Monday, April 15, 2013

In Tribute to Mother Beings

by Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni

Compassion From the Heart of Mother Southard
via seescapes.com
To those who are mothers themselves; to the mothers of all of us—to whom we owe our lives, and to the loving mother within you—within all of us.

If we share more than fifty percent of our DNA with carrots, imagine how much all of us of every gender share the kamma or the capacity for loving mothering!

During our last year's “Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering,” an eminent psychologist gave a presentation on “Spiritual Bypassing.” In his introductory lecture, he mentioned that at the heart of all religious and spiritual practices, we share the anxiety of our incarnation as beings that grew in the exquisitely nourished and protected environment of the womb and were then expelled from this primal, genitive Eden. And then feeling the agony of separation, a feeling attenuated by the mother’s holding, that mutual beholding in enraptured loving attention when child and mother gaze into each other's eyes. Then that changes. He said that our whole lives and our spiritual journeys are then based upon and centered in that love, that separation, and then the finding within ourselves and our later relationships (including our relationships with ourselves) that reunion, or relegare. Relagare is Latin for religion—that is, reunion.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Working with Obstacles: Is Female Rebirth an Obstacle?

 by Rita M. Gross

This post originally appeared in full in Feminism and Religion on February 6, 2013.

Buddhist teachings recommend appreciating obstacles because they are helpful to our practice.  Without obstacles we would never develop profound understanding or compassion. Buddhists have also frequently claimed that female rebirth is an obstacle. If obstacles are of great benefit, shouldn’t women, who encounter more obstacles than  men, rise to the top of the hierarchy of  revered Buddhist teachers? But that has not happened. Is this obstacle actually of benefit to women, as teachings on the helpfulness of obstacles would suggest? After practicing Buddhism for almost forty years, I have come to appreciate how much the many obstacles I faced over the years have taught me. For a woman of my generation (born 1943), none has been greater than the limitations placed on me as a woman, both by Western culture and by Buddhism. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Buddhist Women Awaken

by Tenzin Palmo

Recently a busload of nuns from the Dongyu Gatsal Ling nunnery went off to Dharamsala to participate in the One Billion Rising candlelight procession protesting violence against women. It was an encouraging sign that many men joined alongside carrying banners proclaiming their support. The One Billion Rising demonstration had celebration as an integral part of its expression. The "rising" is joyful because it is bringing the energies of the world into balance.