Monday, July 29, 2013

A Female Dalai Lama: Why It Matters

by Michaela Haas

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting a young Tibetan girl upon his arrival at Tumkur University to inaugurate an international conference entitled "Contemporary Human Suffering: Wisdom of Bhagwan Buddha," organized by Tumkur University. Photo courtesy of www.facebook.com/DalaiLama

There is no hope for a female pope, but there might be one for a female Buddhist leader.

When Pope Francis washed the feet of two young women during Easter, this provoked the criticism of conservative Catholics who pointed out that the liturgies only allow men's feet to be washed, and cheers of progressives who saw it as an omen for a change in the Church's stance toward women. Many hope that the new pope will be a little more inclusive, especially when it comes to women's issues and questions concerning sexuality and contraception. More than 70 percent of American Catholics want the new pope to ordain women, approve the use of contraception, and let priests get married. Theoretically, any Catholic male can be elected pope, but women are the only group categorically excluded.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interviewing Buddhist Women: Venerable Suniti

By Willow Myers

Ven. Suniti, in bright orange robes, enjoys the 13th International Sakyadhita Conference with other
monastics in Vaishali, India, January 2013.

When I met Venerable Suniti the first thing I noticed was her eyes, her bright, bright eyes. These eyes are brilliant dark orbs framed in rectangular black glasses perched on her nose. Her look quickly breaks my stereotype of a demure nun. With a look that is congruent with her personality, Venerable Suniti proves to be a real dynamo.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Buddhism for Women, Women for Buddhism: Change is Coming

Interview by Raymond Lam

Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo is the Branch and Chapter Coordinator of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women. In this series of seven questions we presented to her, she reflects on some key issues about Buddhist women and the long road ahead.

Buddhist Door: My interest has always been how Buddhism can empower and transform women, and how women can in turn empower and transform women. I want to see this virtuous cycle happen because I can see that many old institutions—once run exclusively for men, most of them still run by men—need a fresh voice that can actually bring people back to Buddhism again and grow all three traditions. Do you think this is still a fair charge to make, or are we seeing genuine if slow progress across the board?

KLT: Change is gradually happening, but Buddhist institutes are still run almost exclusively by men. As an ancient tradition struggling to survive under very different social conditions and faced by intensive conversion attempts in many countries, Buddhism needs to utilize all of its human resources, especially women. Overall, women have proven themselves to be competent, honest, and enthusiastic about preserving Buddhist traditions, though their contributions have rarely been acknowledged.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Can the Theravada Bhikkhuni Order be Re-established?

A Response by
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Sri Lankan bhikkhuni from Karuna Sevena visiting Angela Home near Colombo

This article was written in response to a statement issued by the Concise Tripitaka Editorial Board and published in the Daily News (Colombo) on March 29, 2012, under the heading: “Can the Theravada Bhikkhuni Order be Re-established?” The Board, expressing the viewpoint of the Mahanayaka Theras (the chief elders of the Buddhist monastic establishment in Sri Lanka) offered a negative answer to this question, but the author takes a different point of view. He contends not only that the Theravada Bhikkhuni Order can be re-established, but that it has already been re-established and that, by taking a liberal attitude, the ordination can be regarded as valid.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kindhearted Companionship

by Anja Tanhane

Charlotte Joko Beck
I’m in an unusual position for a Buddhist, as I belong to Ordinary Mind Zen, a Buddhist school founded by a woman, Charlotte Joko Beck, in 1995. This means that even though my teacher, Geoff Dawson, is a man, his teacher was a woman. One of Joko Beck’s innovations in Zen was to emphasize the importance of working with everyday emotions, rather than trying to escape them. It’s no coincidence that several of her dharma heirs, including Geoff Dawson, are practicing psychologists/psychiatrists.

We learn in our guts, not just in our brain, that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of our life as they are, not in fulfilling personal wants, but in fulfilling the needs of life.  Charlotte Joko Beck