Enchanting, powerful, horrific, beautiful, wise, deadly, compassionate, seductive. Women in Buddhist story and image are all these things and more. She takes the signs of the ancient goddess – the lotus, the sacred grove, the serpent, the sacrifice – and uses them in astonishing new ways. Her story is one of suffering and great trials, and through it all an unquenchable longing to be free. This beautifully illustrated work is as layered and subversive as mythology itself. Based directly on authentic Buddhist texts, and informed with insights from psychology and comparative mythology, it takes a fresh look at how Buddhist women have been depicted by men and how they have depicted themselves.
Although historically marginalized, Buddhist nuns are taking their place in modern Buddhism. Like the monks, Buddhist nuns live by an ancient system of monastic law, the Vinaya. This work investigates various areas of uncertainty and controversy in how the Vinaya is to be understood and applied today.
This essay focusses on saṅkhāra, the use of will. In spiritual circles, relinquishing will is often touted as the route to enlightenment, whereas in fact it is an essential part of healthy human development.
While discussion on women’s role in the Sangha proceeds, those who most need to take part in the discussion — the monks — are conspicuously absent. The issue is not so much a dialogue as a call to the darkness, for a sympathetic hearing that is just not there.
The depiction of women in Buddhist texts is deeply ambiguous. We are told that women can become fully awakened; and then in the next breath, that they will destroy Buddhism. This ambiguity is deeply revealing. Even though we traditionally see our texts as the products of pure awakened beings, the reality is far more complex, and hence, far more interesting.