“The topics of women and feminist interpretation have become very important in many academic fields in the humanities and social sciences. A Buddhist study is no exception. Indeed, the feminine, women, sexuality, and gender have virtually become a subfield in Buddhist studies. So, the topic of this book is important in its own right but also for what it contributes to other fields. What strikes me as especially valuable about this volume is its relatively synoptic/inclusive nature, thereby giving it a very timely role in the current literature on Buddhism, women, and sexuality.”
Scholars And practitioners from a variety of Buddhist cultures, philosophical traditions, and academic disciplines analyze important dimensions of the new cross- cultural Buddhist women’s movement: the status and experiences of women in Buddhist societies, feminist interpretation of Buddhist tenets, and the relationship 0f women to Buddhist institutions. Buddhist Women Across Cultures documents both women’s struggle for religious equality in Asian Buddhist cultures as well as the process of creating Buddhist feminist identity across national and ethnic boundaries as Buddhism gains attention in the West. The book contributes significantly to an understanding of women and religion in both Western and non-Western cultures,
“What I like most about this book is the scope — feminism/Buddhism — in cross-cultural contexts. There is no other book like it. Buddhist Women Across Cultures articulates vital strands of the process which the author so aptly terms the ‘feminization of Buddhism.’
“This is the only anthology that really works with these issues from cross-cultural and feminist perspectives. This insight makes the anthology stand out in the rapidly growing area of Buddhism/feminism—perhaps the key book to reconfigure the field at resent and for some time to come.”
Kanna Lekshe Tsomo is Instructor of Buddhism at Chaminade University and Degree Fellow at the East-West Center. She has written several b00k5 including Sisters in Solitude: Two Tra3iiions of Buddhist Monastic Ethics for Women, also published by SUNY Press, and most recently, Living and Dying bi Buddhist Cultures (with David W. Chappell).
The creation of this book has spanned many years and represents the dedication of hundreds of women, and men, from many cultures. The initial impetus grew from a dream spun by Ayya Khema, Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, and myself, in 1986. Over the years the dream has become tangible through the efforts of the women who worked to inspire and organize the Sakyadhita conferences throughout Asia, particularly lItikit1 Ayya Khema; Chatsumarn Kabilsingh of Sakyadhita Thaihind; Ranjani de Silva and Bhiksuni Kusuma Devendra of Sakyadhita Srilanka; Wendy Barzetovic of Sakyadhita U.K.; Rani Sarla Chhewang, Ithy Angmo, and Tashi Yangskit of Sakyadhita Ladakh; arid Ok-sun At, Margaret Coberly, Karla Kral, and Bhiksuni Tian Chang (Meihuang Lee) of Sakyadhita Hawai’i
For their valuable editorial suggestions while compiling this diverse collection of ideas, I am deeply grateful to Donna Marie Anderson, Nancy Branch, Margaret Coberly, Donne Florence, Ephrosine Danggelis, Rebecca French (for literally cutting and pasting my introduction onto twenty-six sheets of paper on the floor), Ramdas Lamb (my computer guru, for tirelessly illuminating the mysteries of technology), my daughter, Emily Mariko, Patricia Masters, Sramanerika Nyuyet
Thanh Minh (Lorena Cassady), Nikko Odiseos, Sharon Rowe, Sramanerika Damcho Thinley (Jackie Minari, for also cheerfully retyping Sakyadhita mailing list in Bodhgaya), and Alison Williams. For administrative assistance far beyond the call of duty, I sincerely thank
Betty Chinn, Sandy Ozaki, June Sakaba, Hanna Santos, and Anna Tanaka of the East -West Center in Honolulu. For their research on Vinaya and the vital issue of full ordination for Buddhist women, I appreciate the pioneering scholarship of Kusuma Devendra, Friedgard Lotermoser, Geshe Thubten Ngawang, and Bhiksuni Jampa Tsedroen. For being crucial catalysts for ideas and inspiration, I am indebted to many spiritual sisters, including Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron, Sierra Crawford, Bhiksuni Sungak, Emila Heller, Gabriele Kustermann, Bhiksuni Tenzin Palmo, and Yvonne Vaucher, without whose kindhearted support and stint, I would have been tempted to go meditate in a cave.
As earlier edition of Elizabeth Harris’ article appeared in Aloysius Pieris, S.J., “Special Issue on Women and Man in Buddhism and Christianity,” Dialogue new series, 19-20 (Colombo: The Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue, 1992-93). I gratefully acknowledge the Institute’s kind cooperation.
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