using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2007
buddhadharma| 33 |winter 2007 peoples’ ordinary hopes and fears that they would never be taught as the result of a popular vote. This is why democracy is a poor tool for deciding what should be taught at a dharma center. Author- itative teachers are unlikely to become unnecessary in genuine Buddhism anytime soon. On the other hand, the authority of dharma teachers pertains to dharma, to the teachings and practices of Buddhism, not to a sangha’s institu- tional life, which can be decided by the commu- nity. Even though dharma teachers have spiritual authority, they must be subject to judgment by the community if they engage in inappropriate behavior, such as sexual misconduct or the mis- appropriation of funds. Because dharma teaching is so important in Buddhism, the acid test for whether or not Bud- dhism has overcome its male-dominant heritage is the frequency with which women become dharma teachers. There is no logical reason why half the dharma teachers should not be women, yet histori- cally men have monopolized teaching roles. This can be traced to two factors: the male-dominated cultures in which Buddhism was founded and in which it has always been practiced, and some of the rules of Buddhist institutional life. Some people think that this historical gener- alization is no longer relevant because of the vis- ibility and popularity of some North American women dharma teachers, such as Pema Chödrön, and the fact that many North American women are senior teachers. Buddhism, however, is a much larger and longer-lived phenomenon than Western- convert Buddhism, and those historical norms are still widespread in much of the Buddhist world. Even among North American Buddhists, a dis- proportionate percentage of the most respected and authoritative teachers are men, especially in Tibetan Buddhism. This claim can readily be verified by looking at teachers’ ads in North American Bud- dhist publications. In a recent issue of Buddhad- harma, thirteen teachers were pictured in ads for dharma programs that they were leading; twelve of them were men. The Shambhala Sun ads pictured nineteen male teachers and no female teachers. In Tricycle, the ratio was fifteen male teachers to two women teachers. That magazine was advertising its own “Tele-Teachings” series, featuring six male teachers and one female teacher. North American Buddhists tout the fact that roughly half of the people teaching at Western dharma centers are women. Nevertheless, a phe- nomenon I have long observed still prevails: within the hierarchy of those who have teaching titles and authority, men dominate at the top ranks, while women do most of the teaching at the lower ranks. Given these facts, it’s premature to congratulate ourselves or to deny the relevance of the issue. Instead, we should question more deeply why women teachers are so important and consider what institutional forms promote or discourage their presence. Moreover, we need to look at what factors in the contemporary situation, at least for North Americans, could help promote an actual presence of women teachers that would be more in accord with dharma. Some modern people are truly mystified as to why the Buddha seemingly concurred with the male dominance of his culture, but there is little question that he did, or at least that he is portrayed as hav- ing done so in the stories that were told about him and that became authoritative. Historical records, which may or may not go back to the Buddha him- self, not only portray the Buddha as concurring with the male dominance of the times but also as initiating rules that ensured male dominance in his sangha and made it difficult for women to attain the status of a major dharma teacher. Monastic rules declare that all nuns are junior to even the most recently ordained monk. (Laypeople, of course, are junior to monastics.) It is recorded that when Prajapati, the first nun, suggested that senior- ity should be determined by how long one has been ordained, rather than by one’s gender, the Buddha replied that even in sects with poor leadership, men never regarded women as their superiors, so how could such behavior occur in his sangha? Some have argued that women are not harmed by not becoming dharma teachers, so long as they receive the same training as men. Such commenta- tors emphasize that the point of Buddhism is to practice meditation and attain enlightenment, not to attain a prestigious reputation as a teacher. Some have even argued that institutional male domi- nance actually benefits women. They suggest that because women have no hope of attaining status and fame as a dharma teacher, they are free to prac- tice sincerely and well, unencumbered by the eight worldly concerns. Men, by contrast, it is claimed, often take up monastic life as a career path and become more concerned about their prestige and position than about their practice and attainment, holGeRGRossliBByViGeon/insiGhtMeditationsociety