Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends, People, and Ideas

Tag: gender

The 15th Sakyadhita Conference in Hong Kong: Women’s Empowerment through Diversity and Plurality

Although gender equality has enjoyed progress in many sectors of our society, we can still see that discrimination against women in varying degrees is a feature of most societies. Gender casts a shadow in ongoing discussions about the re-establishment of Bhikkhuni Order, one of the crucial fourfold assemblies in the Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions.

Historically, it is evident that the Buddha recognized women’s capabilities in the society of monastics and their spiritual potential in becoming fully ordained nuns. In our time, this concern remains one of the most urgent and defining issues and was recently addressed in a conference on Buddhist women held at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

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Exploration and Freedom: Womanhood, Relationships, and Love

Making women’s issues more visible is not just about putting more females in positions of religious authority, like fully ordained bhikkhunis. It is about discussing and acting out ways of relating and loving that women feel liberated by and unleash everyone’s potential to provide fulfillment, satisfaction, and even enlightenment for others. When it comes to the thorny subject of love, I want to look at relationships beyond the simple dichotomy of non-attachment or pure passion and possession. Life is not so simple and I firmly believe that Buddhism understands this.

I was struck and inspired by a post from fellow blogger Lyudmila Klasanova, which was about the “Dharmodaya”: a sacred tetrahedron that symbolizes the female reproductive organ and the source of wisdom and birth.

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A Conversation with Tenzin Palmo on Nuns and Challenging Sexism

In this extended discussion recorded on the spot by Sónia Gomes, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo discusses important but often uncomfortable gender issues in Vajrayana, including the need to challenge engrained cultural sexism in monasteries and the plight of ordained Western women, who more often than not have no institutional, psychological, or moral support after becoming nuns.

 

Buddhist Masculinity: Living a Well-Weathered Life

Raymond Lam

Our musings on gender in Buddhism rightly focus on the feminine, underrepresented voice that it is. However, Buddhism’s gentle values and ethics often seem to be in (apparent) conflict with the toxic masculinity of today’s pop culture, where men are caricatured as avatars of explosions and gods of war, their churning inner lives spitting out destruction like a tornado or volcano. More enlightened perspectives are emerging, sometimes prevailing, but too often masculinity is still defined as or framed through dubious and harmful traits: violence and anger, a propensity to control others, predatory and rapacious attitudes to women, and all-round selfishness.

In the real world this vision of a negative masculinity does not bear out. A domineering or deceitful man will always be looking over his shoulder for the revenge of those he has mistreated. The overwhelming majority of women gravitate toward considerate, generous, and attentive men. Even in macho male circles, honourable ideals endure, like keeping one’s word and looking out for each other in solidarity. A sense of teamwork and self-sacrifice are prized, while a man who only looks out for number one or betrays his mates will be quickly isolated or shamed, much like a wolf ostracized from its pack.

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