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Buddhism Through American Women's Eyes [Paperback]

Karma Lekshe Tsomo

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Book Description

Jan. 1 1995
The Buddha's path to human transformation declares women and men equally capable of spiritual realization, yet throughout history most exemplars of this tradition have been men. Now, as Buddhism is transmitted to the West, women are playing a major role in its adaptation and development. The conversation presented here takes place among experienced practitioners from many Buddhist traditions who share their thoughts on the Buddhist outlook, its practical application in everyday life, and the challenges of practicing Buddhism in the Western world. Thirteen women contribute a wealth of thought-provoking material on topics such as bringing Dharma into relationships, dealing with stress, Buddhism and the Twelve Steps, mothering and meditation, the monastic experience, and forging a kind heart in an age of alienation.

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"Bravo! This book is so engaging so readable and so genuinely helpful I read it in one sitting. These are wonderful voices brimming with life experience and practical, on-the-ground advice. A treasure trove of advice for all practitioners."—Jan Willis, author of Dreaming Me

"A refreshing, experientially based, and enriching contribution of American women to Buddhism in the West."—Thubten Chodron, author of Buddhism for Beginners

"There are such loving, truthful, practical voices in this collection. . . . The writers lucidly express themselves on the Dharma and how it applies to their daily lives. . . . The challenges and the solutions are many and varied. Buddhism emerges as a practical way for women to deal with their complex lives."—Mandala Magazine, Editor's Choice

"As Western women in particular are increasingly able to experience Buddhist practices and teaching, their involvement with and contributions to the spiritual tradition are increasing. The time is certainly right for a book like Buddhism Through American Women's Eyes. It is a book of conversations for and about women. It arises from the grassroots movement which is working to make women better able to fully participate in Buddhist spiritual practice. Issues like the mixed signals sent to women about practicing Buddhism, the relationship of the spiritual practice to everyday life, and the lack of access to female interpretations of the teachings are explored by women who are struggling with those issues on a daily basis."—New Age Retailer

"Contributors do an excellent job of framing Buddhist philosophy within an everyday Western context, giving readers examples of Buddhism in practice, ranging from meditation to grief and death to relationships to abortion, among other topics. In addition to presenting the female voice within Buddhism, this book effectively illustrates Buddhist philosophy so that readers may fully comprehend the practical aspects of difficult concepts. A particularly nice chapter relates the experiences of several of the contributors as ordained priests and nuns in various Buddhist traditions."—Choice magazine

About the Author

Karma Lekshe Tsomo is an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, where she teaches Buddhism, World Religions, and Comparative Religious Ethics. She studied Buddhism in Dharamsala, India, for fifteen years and received a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii. She is a founder and past president of Sakyadhita: International Association of Buddhist Women, and director of Jamyang Foundation, an innovative education project for women in developing countries.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine discussion of "The Monastic Experience" and more March 29 2005
By Neal J. Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
This book originated at a California retreat in 8/89. It consists of essays by individual American women Buddhists as well as some discussions amongst them, including some basic Buddhist principles and personal insights: p. 57: Tsering Everest: "As we mature in our practice, we gradually stop attempting to separate mediation and real life. Eventually, we find that there is no difference between the two" and p. 59: Eko Susan Noble [Shingon priest]: "In a spirit of openness and inclusiveness, we can dispel all the ordinary value judgments that constantly propel the wheel of samsara. We become empowered by our diversity." But it also addresses sensitive feminist points: p. 53: Jacqueline Mandell: "If the word for `woman' means `lesser birth' and this word has been used for thousands of years, it has an effect on people. We need to dispel the myth that being a woman is a lower birth, not only on a societal level, but also on levels we have unconsciously internalized" and p. 129: Eko Susan Noble [Shingon priest]: "It is an open secret that it was actually women who first brought Buddhism to Japan." But, IMHO, the best part is the discussion amongst the contributors in "Chapter 12. The Monastic Experience," especially the comments of concerning changes in Buddhism: p. 129: Eko Susan Noble [Shingon priest]: "The Buddha made a statement that some of the minor precepts could be changed and certainly in Japan there have been some very radical changes...Tendai Master Saicho...felt that adherence to the full 250 precepts codified in India was inappropriate for the Japanese people" and p. 137: Bhikshuni Nora Kunli Shih: "Here in the West, the Buddhist traditions that are transmitted to us are more or less spliced together with Eastern culture...In my experience, the Asian acceptance of hierarchy is quite different from what many Western women are prepared to handle. I sometimes seriously question seriously whether this is really what the Buddha's teachings are all about...For me to prove that I am as capable as a man serves no purpose, for a man is not something that I want to be...Many useful Western ideas are not accepted simply because they are not a part of tradition and don't fit the structure...Thus it is important to consider what is of intrinsic value in the Buddha's teachings and how the teachings address the problems of today, here and now." This chapter alone is worth the read, raising its contribution to the future of Buddhism.

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