8/17/2010

Burning Times, Andocentrism in Sangha-Society, Dalai Lama and Karmapa's Forecast

There was mass incarceration of millions of women during the Nazi Holocaust era. Not only Jewish women, but Polish, Roma (gypsy) and disable institutionalized women. Read their story here.


All religions and cultures contain strains of misogyny (prejudice, fear and aversion of women that is culturally sanctioned and socially accepted). See youtube "Women in Buddhism" by Venerable Karma Lekshe,
and "Women in Tibetan Buddhism" by Sarah Riser.

HH Dalai Lama commented recently that Buddhism has no gender bias and next Dalai Lama could be a female, if that form is more suitable for propagating dharma, but it better be an attractive female. [Read more here] :). He also commented earlier in Vancouver that the world will be saved by Western women. [Source Link]The Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa stunned an international audience in Bodhgaya last winter by making an unprecedented declaration of commitment to ordaining women as bhikshunis in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Asked when there would be bhikshuni ordination in the Tibetan tradition,he leaned forward and said, in English, “I will do it. The traditional “eight heavy rules” institutionalize women’s second-class status in Buddhist monasteries―women must submit to male leadership, senior nuns must take their place behind junior monks―and in most Buddhist lineages women are denied full ordination. [The Time Has Come - Article, Buddhadharma, S.2010]

It is interesting to note that in the Sutta on Bondage, Buddha spoke about transcending gender identification as part of his teaching on anatta and enlightenment. Here is a thoughtful blog by Bhikkhu Sujato of Australia on the prevalence of sexism, andocentrism and misogyny in Buddhist Sanghas. He says "Sexism is irrelevant or disproportional discrimination against a person based on their gender. Sexism is by definition wrong, since it harms women by depriving them of their full humanity. In a more subtle sense, sexism harms men too, since men’s sense of security is maintained by harming the ones they love."
 
I was quite moved by reading the life stories of some leading Women in Buddha's time, especially of Mallika (my grandma's namesake). They must be read in the social, cultural, spiritual context and ethos of the time.
The feminine principle in Vajrayana tradition signifies knowledge or wisdom, as well as the experience of sunyata. "Sunyata which is emptiness and openness, is also described in terms of the feminine principle - as the consort of all the buddhas. Prajna, or discriminating awareness, is described in terms of feminine principle too as the mother of all the Buddhas, she who gives birth to the very idea of enlightenment. This very notion of enlightenment was started by her, by prajna. But she who made the Buddhas speak, communicate, is sunyata. With sunyata there is a lot of room, openness, groundlessness, no one is standing on any ground, so communication can take place freely." - Chyogyam Trungpa (Nalanda Translation Committee 2008-09 newsletter)

A new dawn is emerging here for American Engaged Buddhism with the first historic ordination of Theravada nuns in the US and the western hemisphere! (see images 8/29/2010).

Wondering...what could be the effect of some traumatic ancient cultural traditions like male-female circumcision on the development of individual and collective male-female psyche? Does the drug of the new millenium alter our brain and our mutual capacity to co-evolve and experience the sacred?

And how could Board Members and Sangha members stop enabling behaviors and compliance patterns that are harmful for the individual member and the Sangha? [NY Times reports Scandal in a NY Zen Sangha 8-20-2010]

The science of epigenetics (beyond genetics) show that DNA  is not the only controller of traits or habits. The expression of genes (switching mechanism) is largeley dependent on and influenced by the living environment including psycho-social, cultural and emotional environment.