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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
8 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 2 the dharma than to wake up to the fact that the dharma has been seriously gen- derized in Buddhist texts and by Bud- dhist institutions. I didn’t do it! I once gave a talk on Buddhism and gender at a major Buddhist center dur- ing a study and practice program. As I often do in such talks, I pointed out that the chants routinely used at this center were in the generic masculine. That is to say, the meditator is always referred to as “he” or “him.” When used in a liturgy, women are somehow supposed to feel included in the word “men.” So why doesn’t it have the same meaning when it appears on a restroom door? Male meditators are never subjected to such ambiguity, whereas female medi- tators are regularly assaulted with such doublethink. After the talk, a woman approached me. There was a sense of discovery in her manner, but she also seemed upset. Excit- edly, she said, “I never noticed before that our chants don’t really include me.” Then she expressed disappoint- ment. “But I always enjoyed doing the chants before,” she said, as she began to assimilate a painful reality. Rather than face her pain, she then became angry. “You spoiled it for me!” So we come full circle to blaming the messenger, who did not write the chants, but only pointed out what they really say. Who gender- ized the dharma? The authors, or, more likely, the translators of the liturgies, who could have translated their mean- ing more accurately by using terms like “human,” which clearly indicates that all people, both women and men, are being referred to. Rather than genderizing the dharma, work such as mine degenderizes the dharma. We inherited a genderized dharma. Pointing out the lack of gen- der neutrality and gender equality in Buddhist traditions is a necessary step to overcoming the male dominance and misogyny that have so often marred Buddhist traditions. In Buddhism, awareness always trumps ignorance. But please, if you don’t like the message, do something to change the situation! Don’t just blame the messenger. 30 CHURCH STREET, BARNET, VERMONT 05821 samadhicushions.com 1.800.331.7751 A COMPLETE ONLINE SOURCE FOR MEDITATORS. SINCE 1975. 000582 582 582 5 00 AAARN RN RN TTT, BA BA BA i 3 VE VE VE 30303030 TRE TRE TREEEE CHU CHU CHURRRCCCHS HS HSTTT NT0 TT0 111 EEETTT MON MON MON Don’t just do somethinngg. Sit there. MEDITATION CUSHIONS MEDITATION BENCHES GONGS INCENSE MALAS MEDITATION TABLES BOOKS AND MEDIA BEGINNER SETS Sales support Karmê Chöling here in Vermont and other Shambhala Buddhist Centers worldwide.