"On White Women and Buddhism"

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby conebeckham » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:05 pm

Rory, sorry if I offended you, or anyone else....
But I was making a "tongue in cheek" point, in support of the feeling many have, that in "Tricycle," Asian women's views are not well-represented, though "views of Asian women" are, if you take my meaning. This point directly speaks to gender and race. Along the way, I tried to inject a bit of humor, but you should understand that I never bought Tricycle to "stare at ads" or any such thing. Well, okay, there was this one really cool Thangka for sale..... :tongue:

Look, in all seriousness, Tricycle reflects the mission of it's directors and administrators. These are all non-Asian, as far as I know. I quote their mission statement:
The mission of The Tricycle Foundation is to create forums for exploring contemporary and historic Buddhist activity, examine the impact of its new context in the democratic traditions of the West, and introduce fresh views and attainable methods for enlightened living to the culture at large


I've bought maybe four issues of Tricycle in my lifetime, the last one at least a decade ago. It does not speak to me, frankly.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby rory » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:58 pm

Okay I appreciate your apologies.. Right now frankly I'm having a hard time after about 20 years of Buddhism justifying my participation in a religion/philosophy that's keeps women down. Not now in India where there is good work with the dalits, but that's modern. I don't see any evidence, despite Buddhist leaders knowing better of sexual non-discrimination.

As for Trike, this issue they printed an article on my friend Myokei who is Japanese-African American and a Nichiren Shu priest. Finally, but Trike is terrible in equating Western = Caucasian, as in the US we now have 3rd gen Western Japanese, Chinese & Vietnamese buddhists. But they seemingly don't count. I haven't bought an issue in 5 years and I'm not going to.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby xylem » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:04 am

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Huifeng » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:52 am

Bump (from page 3):

In response to this from Rory:

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


I asked:

Huifeng wrote:Rory,

Was the FGS center you went to run by an Abbess or an Abbot?
A lot of FGS both in Taiwan and abroad is run by nuns, not at all "behind the scenes".

And, if I may, were you actually deliberately and explicitly disadvantaged due to sexual orientation?

~~ Huifeng


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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:44 am

xylem wrote:I confess that as a white male I didn't pay too much attention to issues of gender or racial equity in my sanghas. .... What's tragic to me is that as a Tibetan Buddhist, my teachers want us to address such issues as race and gender. We're not keeping our samaya by ignoring these issues.


So address them. From your statement I take it that you are a native English speaker and probably American (but if not then probably Australian). Native English speakers are all messed up culturally. As a Gay man I insist that we throw in sexual orientation issues. And since I'm now older we have to consider age discrimination too (age discrimination - it's not just for the workplace).

Here's something (and this will sound inflammatory - but I can be legitimately inflammatory all day): in Washington DC I find many African-American people decide upon seeing me that I am what they call "white". Sometimes I correct people in interactions (because my "racial" background - something very important in barely post-Apartheid America - isn't just "white" or European) but I'm blown off and explicitly told that since I look "white" I'm "white" (and also I wa born and partly raised in Europe which adds to the problem). But my mother claims other ethnicity as well. So now on Census forms people can choose any ethnicity they wish - but in daily interactions it's often not like that. I know this because I taught high school in a predominantly African-American high school in DC and was frequently perplexed by the assumptions students and their parents often made. Their rules seemed to be if a person looked like a duck to other people then they were a duck. There's a Mark Twain story about this phenomena.

Anyway, in our local groups these issues don't come up but we don't have frequent African-American Tibetan Buddhist visitors (I'm not sure why) although there are some African-American Tibetan Buddhists in DC. I also don't see gender issues per se although I have been disturbed by women always serving the lamas when they come - I have volunteered for this and sometimes have been able to serve lamas and their families dinner but come tea time it's always females doing the serving and usually Tibetan women.

Anyways, I hope we can eliminate all types of bigotry, if it exists (and even if it doesn't).

Maybe tomorrow I can bring up discrimination BY Asian/Pacific Islander kids growing up (however does it count as discrimination if they thought I was a dick? That just seems like basic kid, and esp. male kid, fair game).

Kirt

PS: Sorry if it seems like the boys are hijacking the thread again - maybe we need to break some of the posts out into another thread?
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:11 am

rory wrote:Right now frankly I'm having a hard time after about 20 years of Buddhism justifying my participation in a religion/philosophy that's keeps women down. Not now in India where there is good work with the dalits, but that's modern. I don't see any evidence, despite Buddhist leaders knowing better of sexual non-discrimination.


In the US there has been a rise in leadership of female and nuns in Zen Buddhist, Vipassana and many Tibetan Buddhist groups. Several Zen Buddhist women have received dharma transmission and inka for example.

As for Trike, this issue they printed an article on my friend Myokei who is Japanese-African American and a Nichiren Shu priest. Finally, but Trike is terrible in equating Western = Caucasian, as in the US we now have 3rd gen Western Japanese, Chinese & Vietnamese buddhists. But they seemingly don't count. I haven't bought an issue in 5 years and I'm not going to.


Well no - in Hawai'i we have at least 4th generation Western Japanese Buddhists and they very much do count.

Why do you feel that:
but Trike is terrible in equating Western = Caucasian, as in the US we now have 3rd gen Western Japanese, Chinese & Vietnamese buddhists. But they seemingly don't count.


What would need to change to change your feelings about this perception?

Unfortunately it is true that Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans often remain in their own communities but things are changing.

And at least in the DC area Vietnamese are openly taking up Vajrayana and women are leading this (anyway go to a Vietnamese temple and it's almost all women run anyway).

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby xylem » Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:32 pm

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby xylem » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:07 pm

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:36 pm

kirtu wrote:
xylem wrote:in Washington DC I find many African-American people decide upon seeing me that I am what they call "white".


I have met you. In this country, you are white.

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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Luke » Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:47 pm

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.

Hi Rory,

Do you truly feel that Buddhism itself is sexist? Or do you do just think that the sexism comes from the ancient cultures of the countries where Buddhism originated?

What do you think about female lamas, such as Pema Chodron and Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche? They are modern examples of female Buddhist teachers who lead sanghas and who are highly respected.

http://mjkr.org/biography.cfm
http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/biography.php
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby rory » Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:09 pm

Ven Huifeng; I replied directly to your questions in my previous post. Why can't I tell my friends at FGS "I'm a lesbian" without being shunned?

We can have a separate discussion of experiences, but I want right now to discuss Buddhism's long history of the non-equality of women! I realize it may not interest men & that's the issue too. Let's have a mature,thoughtful discussion. I just can't see how I can continue to support an institution, Buddhism, that doesn't teach what it promotes, except by those in the West with a different cultural background or those in the East (I'm thinking of the Sri Lankan nuns) supported by Western ideas of equality.

Why isn't the next Dalai Lama female, or the top lamas. Why aren't the heads of Jodo Shinshu (biggest Japanese sect) Soto shu, Nichiren Shu female? Why should any woman support Buddhism? I just see it as totally hypocritical. In the West yes Buddhism is less sexist, because of our historical background (Roman Law, Greek democracy) ....so that again makes me ask ; why should I import this philosophy/religion that discriminates against women?

Apropos of the long Buddhist-American tradition in Hawai'i, I think it's great , I don't understand why Trike ignores it, I think it's due to the inherent assumption, that only white male intellectuals- the beloved Beat generation really count
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Luke » Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:48 pm

rory wrote:We can have a separate discussion of experiences, but I want right now to discuss Buddhism's long history of the non-equality of women! I realize it may not interest men & that's the issue too.

You're talking to an interested man here! The more types of people I can understand, the more types of people I will be able to interact with positively.

rory wrote:I just can't see how I can continue to support an institution, Buddhism, that doesn't teach what it promotes

You are of course free to do what you wish. If being involved with Buddhism causes you so much suffering and disturbs your peace of mind, then maybe it's not the best path for you at the present moment.

I think the key question is "Do you feel hatred towards Shakyamuni Buddha and consider him sexist?" Although he grew up in a sexist culture, I think he was more progressive than most people of his time. And certainly as a Buddhist, I truly believe that he cared about all living creatures.

rory wrote:Why isn't the next Dalai Lama female, or the top lamas.

The next Dalai Lama very well could be female!
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... woman.html

I realize that this might not be satisfying to you until it happens, but I think it's significant that HHDL mentioned this possibility. As far as female "top lamas" go, I think Pema Chodron is a "top lama" in terms of popularity, if not in terms of rank. As far as rank goes, HE Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche is very much a "top lama" and is highly respected by all the top male lamas. In fact, many of her mannerisms while speaking remind me of the Dalai Lama. If the next Dalai Lama is female, I think she will be very similar to Khandro Rinpoche.

As far as historical figures go, have you ever read about Machig Labdron? She was an extraordinary female yogi who created many of the Chod lineages.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machig_Labdr%C3%B6n

rory wrote:Why should any woman support Buddhism?

Each woman will have to answer that for herself, but here are some possible answers which I can conceive of right now:
-Because Buddhism leads to the cessation of mental suffering. Other samsaric institutions, however noble in their ideals, do not have these methods which lead to total liberation.
-Because Buddhism helps them enjoy their present lives more fully and helps them care for others more deeply.

rory wrote:Apropos of the long Buddhist-American tradition in Hawai'i, I think it's great , I don't understand why Trike ignores it, I think it's due to the inherent assumption, that only white male intellectuals- the beloved Beat generation really count.

You could start a thread about the Buddhist-American tradition in Hawai'i. I don't know anything about it because no one mentions it in the usual western Buddhist media, as you mentioned above, and I would be curious to hear more about it.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:01 pm

Namdrol wrote:
kirtu wrote:
xylem wrote:in Washington DC I find many African-American people decide upon seeing me that I am what they call "white".


I have met you. In this country, you are white.


And what of my non-white relatives and ancestors from my mother's family? Are they just wiped away?

Look if we assert racial silliness (and unfortunately our history does) we get in trouble. The classic examples: Barak Obama : is he black or white?

Wentworth Miller: is he black or white?
wmiller.jpeg


Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby AilurusFulgens » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:49 pm

rory wrote:Ven Huifeng; I replied directly to your questions in my previous post. Why can't I tell my friends at FGS "I'm a lesbian" without being shunned?

We can have a separate discussion of experiences, but I want right now to discuss Buddhism's long history of the non-equality of women! I realize it may not interest men & that's the issue too. Let's have a mature,thoughtful discussion. I just can't see how I can continue to support an institution, Buddhism, that doesn't teach what it promotes, except by those in the West with a different cultural background or those in the East (I'm thinking of the Sri Lankan nuns) supported by Western ideas of equality.

Why isn't the next Dalai Lama female, or the top lamas. Why aren't the heads of Jodo Shinshu (biggest Japanese sect) Soto shu, Nichiren Shu female? Why should any woman support Buddhism? I just see it as totally hypocritical. In the West yes Buddhism is less sexist, because of our historical background (Roman Law, Greek democracy) ....so that again makes me ask ; why should I import this philosophy/religion that discriminates against women?

Apropos of the long Buddhist-American tradition in Hawai'i, I think it's great , I don't understand why Trike ignores it, I think it's due to the inherent assumption, that only white male intellectuals- the beloved Beat generation really count
gassho
rory


I don't want to stirr up any negative emotions with my post, but I read your entry quoted above and although I do not agree with everything you are saying, I do feel sympathy for your position. It is clear that you are suffering and I feel sorry for your pain.

I am drawn to Buddhadharma, but before embarking on the path I want to resolve certain questions I have.

In this regard I post many rather exotic inquiries and in this vein I recently concluded writting a post over at the Tibetan Buddhism thread (subsection Dzogchen). As a sidenote to that entry I offered an opinion of mine, namely:

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=5270&p=55919#p55919 wrote:
Sidenote: In light of the above quote from Agganna Sutta, where it is stated that these original beings of light were neither male nor female in the beginning, the whole historical as well as modern antagonism between male and female seems redundant. Male and female seem to be 2 complementary parts of one being. Neither of them being higher or lower, but rather different i.e. each having what the other needs. This also seems to be perfectly exemplified in certain so-called sexual practices of Tibetan Vajrayana, where the male and female practitioner provide for each other, what they individually lack or have trouble to obtain.


I am offering it again here for whatever it is worth.

This is at least my position on the relationship between male and female.

The problem nowadays is that the world is on fire with strife between nations, races, genders and generations. All too often we are forgetting our common humanity. This strife though is not something accidental or a consequence of historical development, but rather bears the stamp of certain systematic, organized, highly hostile and negative influences.

At the risk of being branded a staunch traditionalist I would like to quote the following words of the highly controversial Italian thinker, the late Julius Evola. (DISCLAIMER: I do not agree with Julius Evola on many, many positions. Further I believe that Evola had a very skewed perception of certain things.):


About Modern Civilization’s Contagion

(from "Revolt Against the Modern World")

[…] This present "civilization," starting from Western hotbeds, has extended the contagion to every land that was still healthy and has brought to all strata of society and all races the following "gifts": restlessness, dissatisfaction, resentment, the need to go further and faster, and the inability to possess one's life in simplicity, independence, and balance. Modern civilization has pushed man onward; it has generated in him the need for an increasingly greater number of things; it has made him more and more insufficient to himself and powerless. Thus, every new invention and technological discovery, rather than a conquest, really represents a defeat and a new whiplash in an ever faster race blindly taking place within a system of conditionings that are increasingly serious and irreversible and that for the most part go unnoticed. This is how the various paths converge: technological civilization, the dominant role of the economy, and the civilization of production and consumption all complement the exaltation of becoming and progress; in other words, they contribute to the manifestation of the "demonic" element in the modern world." (1) [...]

JULIUS EVOLA

(1) The word "demonic" is obviously not to be understood in the Christian sense of the word. The expression "demonic people" found in the Bhagavadgita applies very much to our contemporaries: "Thus they are beset with innumerable cares which last long, all their life, until death. Their highest aim is sensual enjoyment, and they firmly think that this is all" (16.11).


The moderators of the forum may freely remove my post if there will be any complaints.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:00 pm

kirtu wrote:And what of my non-white relatives and ancestors from my mother's family? Are they just wiped away?



No.



Look if we assert racial silliness (and unfortunately our history does) we get in trouble. The classic examples: Barak Obama : is he black or white?


Black. Yes, I know he has a white mother. I know black people with white mothers and white people with black mothers and some people of mixed parentage who don't identify with either.



Wentworth Miller: is he black or white?
wmiller.jpeg




I don't know. He could be either, that is up to him.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Jikan » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:10 pm

he'll know if he's white or black when it's night and he needs a cab.
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:47 pm

Jikan wrote:he'll know if he's white or black when it's night and he needs a cab.


So you are agreeing with the statement that race is a social construct that others use to define you (or impose their view of you on you) and then to execute social rules or prejudices about you?

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:31 am

kirtu wrote:
Jikan wrote:he'll know if he's white or black when it's night and he needs a cab.


So you are agreeing with the statement that race is a social construct that others use to define you (or impose their view of you on you) and then to execute social rules or prejudices about you?

Kirt



Of course "race" is a social construct, it has no genetic basis.

N
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http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby kirtu » Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:47 am

Namdrol wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Jikan wrote:he'll know if he's white or black when it's night and he needs a cab.


So you are agreeing with the statement that race is a social construct that others use to define you (or impose their view of you on you) and then to execute social rules or prejudices about you?

Kirt



Of course "race" is a social construct, it has no genetic basis.


So why should we continue to propagate the concept given the immense suffering it has caused (other than to wind it down and make restitution)? From the Vajrayana side we can just conclude that we are one Vajra people (and this too could be twisted to hide history and sweep injustice under the rug but that is not the intention here). One people but with respected different cultures.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: "On White Women and Buddhism"

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:07 pm

kirtu wrote:
So why should we continue to propagate the concept...


People think tribally. And as long as we continue to look different from one another, for that long people will continue to think in terms of "races" because race is a an effect of culture. "Race" is a result of attraction choices, environment, wealth, and a whole host of other things which result in non-verbal behaviorial cues. These behavarial cues are utilized in establishing human dominance patterns and social heirarchies.

We are all hutus and tutsis.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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