Women in Buddhism: Introduction to the Course
Where: Jefferson Market Library
425 Ave. of the Americas
212-243-4334 Price: Free
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Buddhism is often considered an uncommonly egalitarian and, indeed, universally accessible religion. Its very existence entails a disruption of racial and economic class hierarchies, and many of its tales and teachings explicitly reject the idea that spiritual power is only available to those born into it. Nevertheless, Buddhist texts, cultures, and institutions throughout history have often undermined and underserved Buddhist women. In this 5 session course, we will examine a number of questions concerning the presence and status of women in Buddhist cultures and institutions. Looking at a variety of texts (sutras, folk poems, scholarship, etc.) from a variety of cultural contexts (ancient India, medieval China, early modern Sri Lanka, contemporary US, etc.), we will examine tensions between Buddhist teachings and Buddhist institutions. We will listen to the voices of Buddhist women—and reflect on the scores of women whose voices were not preserved or promoted over the centuries.
Week 1: Introduction to the course / introduction to the order of nuns
Week 2: Who says women can’t reach enlightenment?
Week 3: Mothers, wives, practitioners
Week 4: Women as sources of power/danger
Week 5: Lay Buddhist women in the modern world