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Buddhadharma : Winter 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 10 90 or not, you do need to be prepared when you speak up on these matters, because no matter how careful we are there’s going to be some reactivity or even an attack. Buddhadharma: What hope do you see for resolving the issue of gender in Buddhism? Can you share some of your own inspiration? rita Gross: One of the things I’ve changed in relating with these issues is that I’m no longer so interested in the outstand- ing role models like Yeshe Tsogyal, who would be very hard to emulate anyway. I’m interested in the notion that ordinary life is adequate for enlightenment. You don’t have to be unusual and exotic and one in a thousand. That’s not really the goal. The idea of just being oneself and becoming enlightened as one is has been a new take for me, and very refreshing. We really have everything we need, and all we need to do is work with that. Lama PaLden droLma: Yes, this is such an important point. One other thing I want to share is that high teachers are mak- ing corrections. For example, about eight years ago there were empowerments given in the Darjeeling area for a lot of Shangpa practitioners, our particular lineage. In the seat- ing for the empowerments, Bokar Rinpoche put the Western female lamas ahead of the male monastics. That was a big thing, and a statement to the monastic community. I think a lot of the rinpoches are seeing the inequality and wanting to remedy that—there’s the wish for women to come forward. GraCe sChireson: As Westerners become more confident in the practice and in standing on their own two feet, they’re will- ing to change things, and to me this is the most encouraging point. For example, this ordination of bhikkhunis was made possible because Westerners said, “We can change this. There’s been some mistake in not allowing this tradition to continue or to be revived.” The same has been true in my tradition—the national organization of Zen teachers is now interested in collect- ing the names of the female ancestors, because we have a chant that places us in the Buddhist family and there are no women’s names in it. So we’ve taken on the job of collecting those women ancestors’ names and we’re creating a docu- ment, which will be approved by the national organization of teachers. This group is made up of men and women who are acknowledging the mistake and saying, “We have the confi- dence now to add documents to the ones we inherited in our lineage. We have the confidence to correct these mistakes.” rita Gross: I’m glad to hear that this finally is going to be offi- cially accepted. The controversy about the women ancestors’ list has gone on for years, and it disappointed me a lot. Christina FeLdman: What is most inspiring to me is that I see around me a generation of practitioners, sincere practitioners, women and men who have actually reclaimed the possibility of awakening, and I think this is one of the most extraordinary steps that this generation could ever have made. ➤ continued from page 47 INQUIRE NOW FOR 2011 ENTRY Maitripa College www.maitripa.org Master of Arts (MA) in Buddhist Studies Master of Divinity (MDiv) Tibetan Language Program Electives Include East/West Psychology, Engaged Buddhism, Meditation for Mental Health, Leadership, & More Continuing Education & Online Study 1119 SE Market Street | Portland, Oregon 97214 telephone: 503-235-2477 | email: firstname.lastname@example.org Scholarship . Meditation . Service