Monday, March 25, 2013

From Our History to Our Future

by Sandy Boucher

Women began voicing the Dharma two and a half centuries ago during the Buddha’s lifetime. The Buddha’s aunt, Pajapati, led the first women’s liberation march to demand ordination, a successful demonstration that resulted in the Buddha’s establishing the bhikkhuni order.

Now 2,500 years later, we are continuing that legacy and addressing the still-unfinished business around the world of changing patriarchal dominance and exclusion into equality and justice. In the United States, we have made large strides in the last twenty-five years since 1980 when I first did zazen in a Zen center where I found my Theravada teacher Ruth Denison and began the vipassana practice that I continue to this day. We have participated in the great adventure of Buddhism’s coming to the West and have transformed many elements of this spiritual path in the movement toward the evolution of a distinctively American form of Buddhism. We can be proud of our accomplishments. But for successive generations of Buddhist women to come, there is much unfinished business!

I want to give a brief appraisal of what feminist work in Buddhism has accomplished, and perhaps what it has failed to do.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Auspicious Beginnings: The Inception of Sakyadhita

Female monastics and laypeople at the 12th International Sakyadhita Conference
held in Bangkok, Thailand in 2011
by Karma Lekshe Tsomo
Until 1987 most Buddhist women lived isolated lives in their own communities, without even meeting Buddhists of other traditions. The 300 million Buddhist women in the world constituted a significant silent majority. If the uncounted millions of Buddhist women in China and North Korea are added to that figure, this silent majority becomes even more significant. One big change in the last 20 years is that Buddhist women are no longer isolated. The electronic revolution has made organizing women much easier than before. Since 1987 Sakyadhita has put new technologies to work to ensure that Buddhist women can no longer be ignored.