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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:30 am 
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rory wrote:
Ven Huifeng;
apologies I couldn't find my long post about FGS. First let me say the positive things:


Thanks, Rory. Maybe it disappeared into that black hole where lost internet posts go!
Thanks for taking the time to restate the situation, it is appreciated.

Quote:
1. The center is very inclusive of non-Chinese and big on outreach in English. There are Buddhism courses;non-Asians are warmly welcomed, dharma talks are translated, the laypeople are friendly, welcome newcomers & help in learning temple etiquette.

2. Two nuns run the center.

3. The quality of the Dharma teachings; the materials for services was really first class. If I were a Ch'an practitioner as opposed to Pure Land I would have made the effort and stayed.


Thanks for the positive feedback. Glad to know that this is the situation there.

Quote:
why I left; Confucian culture. I was constantly asked by the friendly 1 generation Chinese members are you married; do you have children & they looked shocked when I said, no. I would have like to have said I have a girlfriend but I just couldn't cope having to deal with coming out to an entire temple. It was just easier to return to my old Japanese-American sect Jodo Shu which happily marries same sex couples. And the more I thought about FGS the worse I felt as really you, I, the nuns know that Buddhism has no issues with same sex preference. So why is it an issue? Because centuries ago Buddhism incorporated Confucianism, where family, reproduction & having a son is everything.


So, in the end, they didn't actually know that you are gay, right? And you think that the nuns there at least wouldn't have had a problem with that, right?
So, I'm wondering, as you say - Why is it an issue? But of course, I'm asking why you are making an issue of it, not why is it an issue for them - because you seem to admit that it isn't an issue for them.

In general, it seems fairly common to ask somebody if they are married, and have kids. It's not an insult, just trying to get to know you.
And obviously, being a center run by buddhist monastics - two nuns as you say - "family, reproduction & having a son is everything" is simply not the case at all.

Quote:
It's pretty grim as a woman to think Buddhism sold out on radical non-discrimination , the radical view of Gautama, to co-exist with the status quo & the low position of women. The demand for equality for women in Buddhism came from the West. It's Greek philosophy and Roman law that led to women having so many rights as early as 200 C.E. and then again in the late 19th cent when Christian ideas were discarded.


Hmm, okay.

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So in all conscience as a feminist how can I promote Buddhism when it has done zero for women? I turned East as I found a philosophy that explained the world to me in a rational way. But years later I've read Greek philosophy: Heraclitus everything is flux Democritus, Pythagoras, Epicurus etc & I've found everything in Buddhism there. It's better for women, I don't have to deal with male hierarchical institutions or the hypocrisy.
gassho
Rory


I've got over 1000 Dharma sisters that may disagree with you on the "Buddhism... done zero for women" point.
And none of the Greeks, etc. teach dependent origination, or the path to liberation from cyclic existence. Which is the whole point of Buddhism, isn't it?

I just want to back track a second. Originally you said (emphasis added):

Rory wrote:
But this brings up a good point, that is a definite problem for me; the sexist character of Buddhism that is unhappily reinforced by cultural influences such as Confucianism etc... Sometimes as a woman I've think I've had enough of men being in charge, disparaging women & that it's hopeless. I really couldn't take FGS locally because of that & additionally I'm gay.... I belong to a Japanese Pure Land sect that's been in America for at least 3 gens, so that helps enormously.
gassho
Rory


Here, you basically said that you "couldn't take FGS locally" because you'd "had enough of men being in charge, disparaging women" - but you admit that the place is run by a couple of nuns. And also you "couldn't take FGS locally" because "additionally [you're] gay" - even when the temple didn't even know that you are gay - you didn't tell them, and you think that they wouldn't have had a problem with it anyway. And also the notions of "the sexist character of Buddhism that is unhappily reinforced by cultural influences such as Confucianism" - but apparently without giving any actual examples. Asking if one is married and has children is, in my experience, a rather common human issue which I've encountered in very non-Confucian New Zealand and very much so in non-Confucian Africa, too. And the Indians also seem to ask such questions, too.

Yes, maybe I am making a big deal out of what you said. But earlier in this thread several people decided to launch into a rather unfounded criticism of Fo Guang Shan, based on some one sided events at a single temple. And now it seems to me that you are willing to sort of argue that somehow FGS is discriminatory against women and gays, but seemingly without any evidence for that.

Criticism I don't mind. Actually, I go actively looking for it - anyone who knows me fairly well can vouch for that. But criticism without basis, that I don't have much time for.

~~ Huifeng

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:38 am 
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xylem wrote:
What I shared paraphrases my own teachers and is nothing particularly "fast and loose" or novel.

deepbluehum wrote:
xylem wrote:
Attributing the bigotries of Buddhists to the dharma is as ill directed as attributing the same bigotries of Christians to the Bible.


I don't give novel interpretations to straightforward dharma teachings. People are always trying to reinterpret things to fit their own biases. Obviously being bigoted and biased is not cool dharma. But, playing fast and loose with the lineage teachings isn't cool either. The teaching on precious human life is rooted in sutras which is pure dharma.


With all due respect to you teachers, I cannot ascribe to their commentary. For example, you said:

Quote:
As one of my teachers has said: there are many people walking around that aren't human. That includes a huge number of white affluent privileged males.


This itself seems to be loaded with a very Western oriented set of anti-establishment biases. To determine whether a human birth is precious you look at whether that birth is subject to two qualities of leisure and endowment and a mind which holds the three faiths.

Leisure means from the 8 unfavorable conditions: not being born in hell, as a hungry ghost, a Barbarian, a long-life god, holding wrong views, and being born in a time with the absence of a Buddha who has taught and whose teachings still exist.

Endowment means being human, being born in a central country, having all the senses, not reverting to evil deeds, and having devotion to the teachings.

Three faiths are faith trusting in the truth of karma, faith that understands the value of unsurpassable enlightenment, and faith in the Three Jewels.

So pertaining to our discussion, under leisure, being born a Barbarian is an unfortunate state because there is no chance to practice virtue. A barbarian is someone not born in a central country.

Under endowment, a human being means being born a human with male or female organs. A central country means a place where there is a chance to attend holy beings (dharma gurus). Having all the senses means not being mute, not blind, not subject to stupidiy and having a chance to practice the virtuous Dharma. Having devotion to the teachings means having faith that the Vinaya taught by the Buddha is the basis for all Dharma practice.

Perhaps your white affluent privileged males don't have faith in the teachings, such that the merit of their human life has not ripened into a "precious" one, but they are certainly human.

My take is say things like "white affluent males aren't even human," is the kind of dehumanization the revolutionary fighters would do when fighting the establishment, calling their chosen enemy, "pigs," "rats," or "dogs."

Why is this important for dharma people not to do? Because the human life is hard to attain more rare that a sea turtle randomly sliding his neck into a yoke were it to rise for air every 100 years. In the grand cosmic scheme any human being must have committed uncountable good deeds to be born human. As Buddhists we must take the four immeasurables as the essence of our path: loving kindness, compassion, appreciation of others' merits, and equanimity.

That some affluent white male has not realized the preciousness of his existence is not the cause for scorn or animosity, but the cause for extending to him our loving kindness, compassion for him due to the shortness and rareness of his life, our appreciation of his good merit to be born with or to have achieved affluence through good birth or through intelligence, and to join these three wholesome mental states to the exalted state of holy equanimity that realizes the true nature of existence.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:44 am 
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deepbluehum wrote:
Perhaps your white affluent privileged males don't have faith in the teachings, such that the merit of their human life has not ripened into a "precious" one, but they are certainly human.

Someone might have a human body but could have the mind of an animal, hungry ghost or hell being and in that sense not be really human.
There are many examples of this. I think this is what the lama might have meant.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:21 am 
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rory wrote:
I know about Pema Chodron, she's Western. Where are the Asian Buddhist women top leaders? There aren't any because Buddhism which is a big part of Asian culture has done zero for them. They certainly have made lay people aware of vegetarianism. So why not women.

Master Cheng Yen is a top leader in Taiwan Buddhism. The FGS leader in Malaysia, Ven. Jue Cheng is another example. There are still others, 悟因,昭慧,性廣。。。


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:10 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:13 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:56 pm 
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xylem wrote:
Attributing "Western oriented anti-establishment biases" to my lama is taken as a compliment since he was teaching a group of privileged white Americans who needed their chops busted and self importance lanced-- myself included. Based on your response, I suspect you wouldn't have appreciated the presentation.


Americans can be very mean spirited people. In general when I'm away from the US I tend to stay away from Americans and hide my citizenship (also not to become a target).

How do you know that the other people fit these characteristics: privileged, their needed their chops busted, they were feeling self-important? You also determined that the other people were white. Of course I look like the whitest man who ever lived but I'm not 100% white (only 7/8ths thank you). You investigated and determined that the other people in the group also considered themselves white? That they were privileged?

Race issues lead to arrogance all the way around.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:04 pm 
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deepbluehum wrote:
This itself seems to be loaded with a very Western oriented set of anti-establishment biases. To determine whether a human birth is precious you look at whether that birth is subject to two qualities of leisure and endowment and a mind which holds the three faiths.

Leisure means from the 8 unfavorable conditions: not being born in hell, as a hungry ghost, a Barbarian, a long-life god, holding wrong views, and being born in a time with the absence of a Buddha who has taught and whose teachings still exist.

Endowment means being human, being born in a central country, having all the senses, not reverting to evil deeds, and having devotion to the teachings.

Three faiths are faith trusting in the truth of karma, faith that understands the value of unsurpassable enlightenment, and faith in the Three Jewels.

So pertaining to our discussion, under leisure, being born a Barbarian is an unfortunate state because there is no chance to practice virtue. A barbarian is someone not born in a central country.

Under endowment, a human being means being born a human with male or female organs. A central country means a place where there is a chance to attend holy beings (dharma gurus). Having all the senses means not being mute, not blind, not subject to stupidiy and having a chance to practice the virtuous Dharma. Having devotion to the teachings means having faith that the Vinaya taught by the Buddha is the basis for all Dharma practice.

Perhaps your white affluent privileged males don't have faith in the teachings, such that the merit of their human life has not ripened into a "precious" one, but they are certainly human.

My take is say things like "white affluent males aren't even human," is the kind of dehumanization the revolutionary fighters would do when fighting the establishment, calling their chosen enemy, "pigs," "rats," or "dogs."

Why is this important for dharma people not to do? Because the human life is hard to attain more rare that a sea turtle randomly sliding his neck into a yoke were it to rise for air every 100 years. In the grand cosmic scheme any human being must have committed uncountable good deeds to be born human. As Buddhists we must take the four immeasurables as the essence of our path: loving kindness, compassion, appreciation of others' merits, and equanimity.

That some affluent white male has not realized the preciousness of his existence is not the cause for scorn or animosity, but the cause for extending to him our loving kindness, compassion for him due to the shortness and rareness of his life, our appreciation of his good merit to be born with or to have achieved affluence through good birth or through intelligence, and to join these three wholesome mental states to the exalted state of holy equanimity that realizes the true nature of existence.


:good:

Very nice summary & comments.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:31 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:23 pm 
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Amituofo

I do not believe that it's just white women buying that rag or it's sister, it's a magazine with a very narrow elite audience and loads of advertising for pop Buddhism. They hurt themselves with trying to dominate Buddhism with a narrow invite of their authors to that teacher council.

I'm a bhikshuni with mixed ancestory with a roly poly white body showing all the time. I can't agree that it's a white women thing. It's more of a type of westerner thing. Or rather a mindset.

The mindset of one no matter what their race or lifestyle who does this: says they are Buddhist, disparages the Triple Jewels by refusing to support with words, actions, donations to the temple or monastery or individuals who are members of the resident Sangha who are the third jewel of the Triple Jewel. In one breath ask for dharma teachings and in the next refuse to respect the Sangha. This includes those who devalue taking precepts and encourage others to not ask ordained Sangha for dharma teachings.

Western ppl need to grow up a bit. I'm from the West, midwest, so I speak from experience. While a young woman and before I ever heard of Buddhim I would never consider it proper to disparge groups of religious persons like I read on Buddhism forums, which I hope does not happen here much; I find it very odd to see it here.

I just counselled a young bhikshuni who almost slid off the monastic grid due to her student's insistance that it didn't matter to take formal lay precepts as long as she lived them daily; she was nearly convinced due to the power her new student had in her own wrong views. It's very bad karma to dissuade Sangha let alone devalue your own precepts.

Regard FGS and other temples who downsize, it's largely due to sheer economics, we all can understand that! In these past years have you not seen the huge crises worldwide? Temples close their doors real fast when donations are nil. So what surpise is it when a large one decides to trim their offerings, that's really ok; we don't know exactly why but who cares? Respect the facts of the closure of some of their programs for whatever reason without disparaging it. For those who complain: Did you make sizable donations? or were you the typical nose in the air haughty type who feels they deserve everything for free; especially from other or faithful/ethnic Buddhists, our temples and our Sangha! With this view being so popular in the west how can places offer more or even stay open? Can you logic it?

The last, sexualty in temples, I am going post another link from my blog on wordpress.com buddhafolk. I am so sick of ppl politicizing their sexuality in Buddhist temples and monasteries. Sangha does not need to know your orientation or have a view on it; it's irrelevant. We are celibate in mind and vow. So to approach us for our view on sexuality is not proper.

It's not really a white women issue as the OP proposes, it's more a western culture or rather a perversion of it. Because I grew up white and am a woman and I never got on that bandwagon some like to ride on.

Amituofo, practice more fodder less.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:58 pm 
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Excellent post venerable. :thanks:

Ven Hong yang wrote:
Regard FGS and other temples who downsize, it's largely due to sheer economics, we all can understand that! In these past years have you not seen the huge crises worldwide? Temples close their doors real fast when donations are nil. So what surpise is it when a large one decides to trim their offerings, that's really ok; we don't know exactly why but who cares? Respect the facts of the closure of some of their programs for whatever reason without disparaging it. For those who complain: Did you make sizable donations? or were you the typical nose in the air haughty type who feels they deserve everything for free; especially from other or faithful/ethnic Buddhists, our temples and our Sangha! With this view being so popular in the west how can places offer more or even stay open? Can you logic it?


All the Asian Buddhists I've ever met have been very, very generous when giving donations of time and money. They very clearly have an appreciation of merit that is very solid, something that can be lacking in Western converts.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:20 am 
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deepbluehum wrote:
catmoon wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:
That Buddha is always a man is standard.



Gaun Yin. Tara.


Guan Yin is a chinese revision of Avalokiteshvara, a male Mahayana deity. Tara is a Vajrayana Buddha. I mentioned Vajrayana includes women as Buddhas. I meant Buddha is always a man is standard of Mahayana and Hinayana.


Ok. But Buddha was in fact a boy, right? Surely you are not advocating changing his gender. Are you?

As for Tara, as far as I'm concerned an emanation of Buddha nature is a Buddha. For many the Tara sadhana is the meat and potatoes of practice; their Buddha is in effect, Tara.

There is no shortage of female Buddhas, considering the breadth of their appeal. Much of the Buddha statuary I've seen lately, most notably the Jade Buddha for Peace, is very androgenous, sometimes to the point that non-Buddhists unhesitatingly identify the statue as female. I don't see how things could go much farther without simply rewriting history with a known falsehood, and asserting Buddha was a girl.

All the same it's a pity you did not find acceptance. I find that kind of weird and not very Buddhist. Maybe that's because I'm in a Sangha where the main teacher is female, all four people who have here taught are female, the head of the organization is female, and 85% of the members are female. Fortunately I have not met with any acceptance problems due to being the minority gender. I hope you will soon become as fortunate as I. People need a good Sangha home.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:43 pm 
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rory wrote:
I know about Pema Chodron, she's Western. Where are the Asian Buddhist women top leaders? There aren't any because Buddhism which is a big part of Asian culture has done zero for them.

Ah, sorry, I guess she's off-topic. I also mentioned HE Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche earlier who is a great Tibetan female lama. I think any Vajrayana practioner alive--male or female--would feel extremely blessed to have the chance to meet her--I know I would!
http://mjkr.org/index.cfm


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:01 am 
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There are a large number of great women Buddhist leaders in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
However, because they are Chinese, most of their activities are known in the Sinosphere, not in the Anglosphere.
Just because we haven't heard of them does not mean that they don't exist, however. (Sorry for pointing out the obvious.)

~~ Huifeng

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:02 pm 
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Huifeng wrote:
There are a large number of great women Buddhist leaders in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
However, because they are Chinese, most of their activities are known in the Sinosphere, not in the Anglosphere.
Just because we haven't heard of them does not mean that they don't exist, however.

Indeed.

All the best,

Geoff


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:29 pm 
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rory wrote:
So in all conscience as a feminist how can I promote Buddhism when it has done zero for women? I turned East as I found a philosophy that explained the world to me in a rational way. But years later I've read Greek philosophy: Heraclitus everything is flux Democritus, Pythagoras, Epicurus etc & I've found everything in Buddhism there. It's better for women, I don't have to deal with male hierarchical institutions or the hypocrisy.


Ancient Greece and Rome were fine patriarchal societies. In Athens women were simply confined to their homes just like in the Chinese Empire; in Rome, although they had lot of freedom until Christianity took over, were not allowed any political position. Also, the philosophers you listed were all men, just like all the others who are considered outstanding. So it seems to me that there's nothing special about ancient Western cultures and philosophies compared to the Eastern ones regarding the role of women. It shouldn't be forgotten either that Buddhism is not a culture but a religion, and as such its philosophy may not be - and cannot be - adequately mirrored in its socio-historical appearance.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:34 pm 
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deepbluehum wrote:
No. I would have to say dharma is sexist, homophobic and racist. From the earliest suttas the superiority of men and inferiority of women has been reiterated many times. That Buddha is always a man is standard. Vajrayana changes this and gives women Buddha status. However, it is explained in Vajrayana that you have to have a "precious human body" meaning it has certain endowments (for practicing tantra). For example, being a hermaphrodite is not a "precious human body." So homosexual bodies are not invited to the karmamudra. Being blind or deaf or missing any of the sense faculties is also not a "precious human body." Being mentally disabled is not "precious." You also have to be born in a "central country" where dharma is taught. So being in a tribal culture in some distant island is not a "precious human body" either. That country must be mostly peaceful with high institutions. So most of Africa is excluded. You can see how dharma is a rather exclusive club and is not all inclusive. In a sense it is justified because achieving Buddhahood is something winning a gold medal in the Olympics (if meditation were a sport). You would have to be world class.


This is a distorted interpretation of such terms. Talks of precious human body and fortunate birth is about motivating people who hear and learn about the Dharma, not about talking against those who are outside of such disciples. It is absolutely not a "hate speech" but a "motivational speech". And yes, being able to learn about the Dharma and practice it is a privilege, an elite club in samsara.

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"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:03 am 
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Astus:
you need to update your history so you don't repeat the Victorian take on the past. Modern scholarship,especially by women has changes so many assumptions.

Early Ancient Rome was excessively patriarchal but from the late Republic 30 B.C. up to Christianity women had more rights than Western Women up to the late 19th Century: women had the right to divorce, own property, run a business, make contracts, appear in court, control fertility, make wills, adopt children: rights which are massively important. Women in ancient Rome were also public priestesses, supported political candidates, put up public monuments. So let's be clear, that culture gave women more value. Women also studied law,philosophy were doctors, surgeons, had access to education and literacy.

In ancient Greece go to Sparta and you'll see women who also were trained to speak, lead and participate in athletics. Greek society wasn't Athens. Those philosophers, especially Epicurus had women followers who were treated as equals. Pythagoras's wife & daughter led his school after his death, and he was famous for his female followers who were distinguished philosophers, mathematicians.

Show me something similar in China, Tibet, Vietnam, Korea? I'd be happy to be proven wrong. My female friends from China are just now talking about their rights, remember an entire generation of women are missing - either aborted or abandoned. Women are so devalued. I understand that most accept it, just like I didn't really care how gay people were treated by Buddhism until I came out.

all in all I do love Pure Land due to an inspiring teacher who was a Jodo Shu monk and gave me so much. He never asked for anything but poured his teacher's wisdom out freely and generously. This is what the Dharma is meant to be. Really why am I surprised that people are corrupt in this Dharma-ending age? Mappo.
gassho
Rory

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:31 pm 
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Rory,

"Show me something similar in China, Tibet, Vietnam, Korea? "
Nothing similar to that that I know of, and I know little. Beata Grant has some interesting studies on women and Chan, and there's Faure of course. However, if you look at it, it's not Buddhism itself that had a campaign against women. Sure, there was no big social liberation because of Buddhism, but that was never its purpose anyway.

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"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:57 pm 
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True, I ventilated quite a bit & in thinking about social action in Buddhism, past and present. Modern Buddhism + Western culture is doing a lot for women, especially the Dalit women in India. Also Nichiren Buddhism from Japan is very powerful in empowering the individual.

I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water. I do find tons to value in Buddhism. Ironically this makes me re-evaluate Nichiren Buddhism, which I'd practiced in the past & left to return to Pure Land.
gasso
Rory

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