INTERBEING by Elizabeth Ann Bartlett

“Every life bears in some way on every other.”

                                                                                -Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones

This line from Susan Griffin’s profound investigation into the ways our lives are interwoven through war has been echoing in my mind frequently in recent days, as we find our hearts breaking and outraged by a distant war. In the depths of our compassion, we ache with the suffering of families huddling together in bomb shelters, a birthing woman and her baby dying on a stretcher after a maternity hospital is bombed, the poignant strains of a Chopin etude played by a woman on her piano – the only thing to survive her bombed out home.

This truth of Griffin’s words echoes throughout ancient wisdom traditions — in the indigenous recognition that all our relations — animals, plants, water, earth, stone — are kin; in the African concept of Ubuntu — “I am because we are;” in the Buddhist precept of interdependent co-arising, which Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh called simply “interbeing.” As he described it:

Continue reading “INTERBEING by Elizabeth Ann Bartlett”

Buddhist Misogyny Revisited – Part II by Barbara McHugh

Read Part I here first

Webster defines myth as “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon,” and in this way myths tell us who we are. Unfortunately, they include stories, from Adam and Eve to Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, that define women by using criteria such as gullibility, passivity, and the size of their feet.

But today women are shining light on the likes of Circe, Mary Magdalene, and Briseus, the young woman dismissed by Homer as an impediment to Achilles’s higher purposes. These stories counter the traditional narratives that restrict women, as well as men, to roles that rob them of their full humanity. In my novel, Bride of the Buddha, the Buddha’s wife embarks on a spiritual journey of her own. When her quest leads her to the Buddha’s all-male sangha, she disguises herself as a monk, eventually becoming Ananda, who in the scriptures is the Buddha’s attendant, the one who struggles with all the questions unenlightened practitioners face today.  The answers to these questions cannot be stated as propositions; they must be felt and lived. Hopefully, my version of Ananda suggests new possibilities for feeling and living these responses. If this “violates” the myth, it does not violate the Buddha’s fundamental views.

Continue reading “Buddhist Misogyny Revisited – Part II by Barbara McHugh”

Mantra and Meditation in Buddhist Hospice Chaplaincy to Alleviate Anxiety by Karen Nelson Villanueva

Karen Nelson Villanueva has recently successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, “Invoking the Blessings of the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess Tara Through Chanting Her Mantra to Overcome Fear,”

Mantras are not just the prescribed sound formulas or sentences found in Eastern religions, but they can also be thought of as the words or phrases that we continually repeat to ourselves. The word mantra comes from Sanskrit and its roots are manas-, meaning “mind,” and -tras, which can be translated as “tool.” Thus, mantra is a tool to protect the mind.

How often do we engage in negative self-talk like “It’s my fault” or “I’m to blame for what’s happened to me” or “No one loves me”? These expressions can become mantras, as we believe their messages from constant repetition. In hospice and hospital settings, one often finds patients who have convinced themselves that “This is God’s punishment” or “Everyone has forgotten me” or “I’m so scared.” These phrases, rather than protect the mind, become what is believed by the mind and may lead to increased anxiety, stress, and depression, and consequently the need for spiritual and emotional support.

Chaplains, as members of the care team in hospice and hospitals, provide spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families. Most often, chaplains attentively listen to patients and their caregivers (often family members) about the patients’ life story, their relationships, their dreams unfulfilled, and their wishes for those whom they are leaving behind. Chaplains take part in family meetings where decisions are made about patients’ care, sometimes interjecting to ask for clarification of medical terms and to ensure that the family understands. Sometimes, the chaplain will lead prayer with the patients and their families, and at other times, the chaplain will pull other tools from her toolbox such as mantra meditation.

Continue reading “Mantra and Meditation in Buddhist Hospice Chaplaincy to Alleviate Anxiety by Karen Nelson Villanueva”

Sacred Activism through Lucid Dreams: A Dream of Enthronement by Alaya A. Dannu

I am a Vajrayana Buddhist. I follow the Buddha Dharma via the Vajra path. My journey to the Dharma was through lucid dreams. I have not once had a human teacher, in this lifetime, to teach or guide me to/on this path. My teachers have been the Dakinis, the Mothers, or a variety of emanations of the Divine Feminine embodying many forms of wisdom. They are the ones that have provided me with the practices to engage and the ways in which I need to BE, in order to DO, in this lifetime.

“How do you know these dreams are not from your mind?”

Do you know how many times I have heard this question, from sangha members of less melanin? Did you know that it has always been a Western Buddhist that has challenged my experiences, yet those that follow the Buddha Dharma in Asia would always inquire about them from a place of curiosity?

Continue reading “Sacred Activism through Lucid Dreams: A Dream of Enthronement by Alaya A. Dannu”

Beyond Human Rights by Esther Nelson

For way too long, the only meaning I found in my life happened when peering through one specific, religious prism. Then I discovered what’s called the academic study of religion.  Observing the many ways people find meaning through their own experiences with God (or their “ultimate concern”) shattered the tightly-sealed insulation around my worldview.  Those things that comprise religion (stories, concepts of the holy, ritual, symbols, social structures), coupled with our individual experiences create a powerful reality affecting us individually and communally.

Some of my students identify as agnostic or atheist. They’re happy to have shed (or never put on) garments they perceive as obstacles.  Rarely do they realize that religious “truths,” because they are taken to heart by people and implemented into the social fabric, shape the world they inhabit. When we discuss the ways religion affects women within society, they are far more likely to think about women’s lived realities in terms of human rights, not religious identity.  Religion is seen as something superfluous (at best) or an impediment towards progress (at worst).

Continue reading “Beyond Human Rights by Esther Nelson”

In the footprints of Machig Lapdron by Mary Sharratt


Machig Labdrön with Padampasangye

Machig Lapdron, female Tantric Buddhist mystic and lineage founder

I’ve just returned from an illuminating trip to Bhutan, high in the Himalayas. Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and the world’s youngest democracy.

On our last full day in this enchanting land, my husband and I drove with our guide over the nearly 4000 meter pass of Chelela and into the Haa Valley which doesn’t see that many tourists. Our goal was the Hermitage of Juneydrak, where Machig Lapdron (1055-1145 CE), the famous female Tantric mystic, master, and lineage founder, once meditated.

Continue reading “In the footprints of Machig Lapdron by Mary Sharratt”

“When You Know for Yourselves” by Oxana Poberejnaia

A female friend recently posted an article by a woman writer about motherhood. The article was entitled “Children are NOT life’s flowers” (referring to a famous Russian saying which means that children are what makes life beautiful).

A number of women contributed comments under this post. The discussion revolved around the image of an ideal mother and how we real mothers should relate to it.

It is amazing that in the current atmosphere of bringing out into the open so many issues, motherhood is not much discussed. Sexuality, gender and abuse are OK to speak about and question. At the same time, it is only within medical profession that such issues as “baby blues” or post-partum depression are valid topics.

Continue reading ““When You Know for Yourselves” by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Who is the Perpetrator? by Oxana Poberejnaia

A poem by Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, “Call Me By My True Names,” lists various situations from natural world and the world of humans, most of them to do with violence and death. He claims in the poem to be both: the victim and the perpetrator of violence.

This poem has always bothered me. I can understand a world perspective where you express solidarity with all the sufferers, but how to come to terms with identifying oneself with the oppressors and murderers?

At my current limited level of understanding of the Buddhist teaching I can only say that perhaps the words: “I am a rapist and a murderer” point to tendencies that are present in all of us. First and foremost it is a tendency to divide, to separate. The most noticeable separation is between the “I” and the “outside” world.

First we counter position ourselves against all the others. Next we start believing that it is possible to achieve happiness just for ourselves, at the expense of the others. So we live egotistically. From here, I suppose, there is only a small step to rape and murder.

Continue reading “Who is the Perpetrator? by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Householders’ Superstitions and the Higher Truth by Oxana Poberejnaia

I watched this short video on facebook about Sisa, an Egyptian woman who spent forty years a man in order provide for her family. There is a longer version on YouTube. Sisa, a widow, decided to work to feed her children, and consequently grandchildren. In Egypt, a woman can only do unpaid jobs within a home. So Sisa had to pretend to be a man by wearing male clothing and head wear. She takes casual jobs, such as shoe shining or brick laying.

Then Sisa made the news and was honoured by governmental officials. There is footage in the report of Egyptian men watching that footage. Apparently, the men were impressed by Sisa’s efforts and they developed respect for her. One man, who knows Sisa personally, says for camera: “I treat her like a man, because she works like a man”.

The implication being, I assume, that Sisa is only worthy of respect because she acts like a man is expected to act. And another implication is that Sisa is an exception. He only prepared to treat her differently, as all the rest of the women in Egypt apparently cannot work as men.

Continue reading “Householders’ Superstitions and the Higher Truth by Oxana Poberejnaia”

The Authentic Self? No-Self by Elisabeth Schilling

IMG_0617When I was in high school, I remember being preoccupied with being my “authentic” self. I am quite sure I had little idea of what that meant because I think it was akin to knowing the content of my ego, my likes and dislikes, and simply being honest about them. For someone who avoids confrontation and tends to hide or lie about the truth far too often with the more persistent people in her life, this might not have been a bad ethics to practice; although, if that was what I was aiming for, I didn’t achieve my goal then and still have not. Continue reading “The Authentic Self? No-Self by Elisabeth Schilling”

Babies and Bathwater by Oxana Poberejnaia

Since patriarchy is atrocious, and capitalism is currently driving the earth to a very real catastrophe, we can get passionate about these issues. We can get angry. We can get self-righteous.

However, as one of the most famous verses of Dhammapada goes:

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

Dhp I:5, translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita

 We may ask: why should we be patient and kind while we are the ones who are being oppressed and wronged? I don’t have an answer for that, only that through history positive change has ever been affected only by people who made more effort than the ones who wanted to keep the status quo.

Abolitionists, Suffragettes, Socialists and Civil Rights activists all had to be more altruistic, better educated, and more open-minded than their contemporaries. Continue reading “Babies and Bathwater by Oxana Poberejnaia”

The Pull of Mara by Oxana Poberejnaia

Recently I need to take a deep breath every time I glance at the news headlines. There are terror attacks and military conflicts. People kill each other and cause each other immense suffering. The worst thing is that so many of these conflicts are between people who have lived side by side for centuries: between related ethnic groups or neighbouring people.

I have found that often, while reading news items about tragedies and injustices, I often take sides. I seem to “naturally” support one warring party. This would depend on ideology, ethnicity, or culture that I share with one of the rivals. This is nothing new. People have been joining their brethren in war for the history of humanity.

However, our time is interesting in that we have access to many opposing views. In my life, every time I take a side, eventually I manage to find information or discover a point of view, which supports the opposite side.

Continue reading “The Pull of Mara by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Internal Strife – External Conflict by Oxana Poberejnaia

As Po said in “Kung Fu Panda”: “I’m gonna get myself some Inner Peace… Inner piece of what?”

This basically lays out a path of spiritual work for most of us. We aim for peace, yet somehow we feel that we must do something in order to achieve it – rather than just be peaceful.

Another joke that captures this paradox perfectly is:

“My son started doing meditation. Well, that’s something. At least he’s not sitting around doing nothing.”

Sitting around doing nothing seems to be the worst sin in our society. Buddhism is quite radical in this regard. The path to Enlightenment leads through sitting around and doing nothing. Anything and everything else that we do to keep ourselves busy is determined by society, hence impermanent, hence not the truth. Continue reading “Internal Strife – External Conflict by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Ending Suffering for the Sake of Others by Oxana Poberejnaia

I have recently noticed an interesting thing: just like the Buddhist goal of ending suffering requires consideration of others, so often feminist change requires thinking about other women.

I often had conversations with people on both these subjects. I heard actual people say: “I do not want to end my suffering, the reason being…” And the reasons can differ. Some consider suffering to be part of genuine human experience, some find a spiritual advantage in having suffered. While some simply say that they are fine with their suffering; they are used to it; change would bring even more suffering. Continue reading “Ending Suffering for the Sake of Others by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Stories vs. What Is by Oxana Poberejnaia

I have recently watched one of these real life entertainment documentaries. This one was on plastic surgery. A woman went under the knife to enlarge her breasts. The female presenter, wearing sterile white, peeped into the operation theatre and, facing the camera, said excitedly: “This operation might be life-changing!”

I thought: “Yes, precisely.” The money that the patient spent on breast implants could have bought – what? A trip to a strange land. A course for her to improve her employment prospects or to broaden her horizons. Art supplies for her to create something. A water pump to provide clean water in a village somewhere in the world where children die from preventable diseases caused by dirty water. Part of a salary for a teacher who works in a school for girls somewhere in the world where girls need extra help getting education.


What we choose to spend money, or indeed any resources (time, energy) on depends on our story of life. What is life for us: a race to the unattainable ideal of glossy magazine covers or a spiritual journey we share with every other creature on earth? Continue reading “Stories vs. What Is by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Religion, Race, and Feminism in an Era of Elusive Enlightenment by Salaam Green

The warrior spirit is not only the coherent ability to resist circumstances outside of one’s making; but the ability to fight the war within all of us thus managing discomfort and chaos with the force of authenticity.

Recently an enlightened friend on social media reminded me of the importance of not only portraying an awakened consciousness in the fight towards enlightened morays in an age of fascist’s dictatorships but actually waking up to unresolved veracities.

Hurriedly, I searched for a working definition of enlightenment consistent with my Christian beliefs. I finally found several however, none exactly measured up to the values that are interlaced within scriptures and thus are founding principles of Christianity and religious fundamentals.

Continue reading “Religion, Race, and Feminism in an Era of Elusive Enlightenment by Salaam Green”

The Burden of Shame by Oxana Poberejnaia

I know a man who says to his daughter: “You should be ashamed of yourself” when he wants to imbue some good habits in her. One example would be not putting her dirty socks in the laundry basket. It might seem trivial, but I don’t think it is. I feel that shame is a toxic element of our personalities. I believe shame results in negative consequences, such as sabotaging oneself and health problems.

Many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, perceive guilt as a trigger for moral development. The rational is, when we feel bad about something we had done, we will change our behaviour for better. The question is: how bad exactly are we supposed to feel, both in terms of quality and quantity of that feeling? Continue reading “The Burden of Shame by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Get Serious: Don’t Die in Character by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaRecently I had a few experiences that brought home to me the meaning of a saying by the Buddha:

What’s the laughter, why the joy,

When the world is ever burning?

Plunged into darkness,

Won’t you look for a lamp?

Dhammapada, 146, translated by Valerie J. Roebuck

dhammapada-logo-2This saying is one of those that sound a bit curious to a Western ear. It is almost as if the Buddha was against fun or humour. However, we all are familiar with the Buddha’s depictions where he smiles. The canonical texts also bear witness to the Buddha’s smiling.

It has become clear to me that the Buddha points here at the preciousness of the limited time we have in this human life. In short, he was saying that suffering is not a laughing matter, and life is not a joke.

Time is running out – the message that is even more relevant today, as it relates now not only to each of us individually, but to all of us as a species.

Continue reading “Get Serious: Don’t Die in Character by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Viśākhā: Surrogate Mother of Buddhism by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaViśākhā is often called the greatest female lay follower of the Buddha. She prompted the Buddha to give numerous teachings. She also donated generously to the Sangha (monastic order). Her crowning contribution was building a monastery called Migāramātupāsāda.

Visakha Directing the Construction of the Eastern Monastery in Savatthi, at the Nava Jetavana, Shravasti
Visakha Directing the Construction of the Eastern Monastery in Savatthi, at the Nava Jetavana, Shravasti

She is said to either die as a “stream-enterer” (a person who will definitely become enlightened, no matter how many life times it will take). Another account about her afterlife says that she would live for eons in happiness in one of the divine realms before achieving the final Liberation there and then.

Viśākhā appears in numerous Suttas of Theravadin Canon. From the modern feminist point of view, the content of these discourses reinforces patriarchal gender stereotypes. In particular, Viśākhā is portrayed as a caring Mother for her relatives, Bhikkhus (Buddhist monks and nuns), and other people.

Continue reading “Viśākhā: Surrogate Mother of Buddhism by Oxana Poberejnaia”

The Elusive Patriarchy by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaThe sense of separate personal identity is elusive. It is difficult to observe, find and bring to the surface of consciousness where, according to Buddhist beliefs, it dissipates naturally, like a bubble of foam popping. In the same way patriarchy is entrenched in so many different ways and on so many different levels in society that it is as difficult to reach out to it and weed it.

tharavadamonkThere is a Sutta in Theravadin Canon called “Khemaka Sutta” (About Khemaka). The main character in the Sutta, Buddhist monk Khemaka explains his understanding of the “lingering residual ‘I am’ conceit, an ‘I am’ desire, an ‘I am’ obsession.” Khemaka says that it is as difficult to capture and wash away as the remaining scents in clothes that have been washed over and over again.

In Western psychology, there is a notion of catharsis: allowing one self to experience previously repressed emotions. For instance, ancient Greek tragedies like Oedipus are seen as these psychological journeys for the audience. The spectators initially refuse to admit they have certain forbidden impulses. However, through empathising with the protagonist they unwittingly allow themselves to experience those. Healing happens as a result.

Continue reading “The Elusive Patriarchy by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Like Birds in the Sky by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaI once heard an educated non-feminist say that it would not matter if women came into positions of power. He gave examples of Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and other women and pointed out that once in power they started wars and engaged in other aggressive tactics, just like men politicians.


Firstly, the obvious logical mistake is that not every woman is a feminist, in the same way as not every man is an agent of patriarchy. Secondly, when talking about systems and key positions within these systems, one can see that these posts will play the role that is predetermined by the system.


systemIt would not matter if a head of a patriarchal organisation is a feminist or not. She or he will play a role of a head of a patriarchal system. That is, unless she changes the system altogether and it ceases to be patriarchal.


This reminded me of verses from The Dhammapada, a collection of ancient Buddhist verses, which speak about having no home and leaving no trace. By behaving thus, we remain independent of the dominant systems and give our opponents no opportunity to control us.

Continue reading “Like Birds in the Sky by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Touch the Earth by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaI suddenly felt sad. Not depressed, but low and sorrowful. I realised that it must have been because I had just exploded and answered my husband in an angry, tense voice. He had said something and I reacted in this overblown manner. What he said could have been construed as an encroachment on my rights as a woman and a human. Whether this was the case or not, I was saddened by my own violent reaction.

How did that happen? Earlier that very day I was walking outside, quietly surveying autumn scenery of the North West England. The leaves were starting to turn in earnest. The birch trees sent their yellow carved leaves to the other side of the road, which did not have birch trees. I was in a state where my “I”, my “Ego” was relaxed and not constricted to just the confines of my body. I became conscious of this fact and a thought arose: “Here we go, finally I am getting close to Liberation.”

Continue reading “Touch the Earth by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Hard Work without Getting Anywhere by Elisabeth Schilling

BeachWhen my students read about the Buddhist concepts of non-resistance, non-attachment, and living in the present, one of the first protests I end up addressing is how these ideas seem to negate progress, goal-setting, or success. What my students don’t yet see is how clinging to a particular end can hinder creativity and the pleasure of the journey to a degree that sometimes compromises success.

For instance, when writers create for academic purposes, they/we can feel desperate to finish a project.  We can feel overwhelmed by the need for perfectionism or by the fear of failure. Perhaps even the hard work it takes layered with the uncertainty of really getting anywhere is what stirs feelings of resistance. Writing seems to transmit the energy frequencies of the writer, and what I do not want is for any reader of mine to feel that kind of struggle. Instead, I hope for narratives with at least some level of warmth, compassion, and generosity.

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, zen spiritual practitioner and author, says that we know we have done something well when we have been nourished by the experience of the doing. Wow. I love this. Yet how forgetful I can be when getting to that sticky spot in my own writing, when I could pause to take a deep breath or walk around the neighborhood or do whatever it might take to refresh and reset my mind. Continue reading “Hard Work without Getting Anywhere by Elisabeth Schilling”

Whose life is this: yours or your identity’s? By Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaWhat is, would you think, one of the foremost problems that my Russian friends and relatives mention to me? Economy? Politics? Personal and family issues? Nope. It is immigrants in Europe. I hear genuine concern and aversion when my friends mention the number of Muslims in the UK or the fact that there are predominantly black arrondissements (city districts) in Paris.

This mystified me. I sensed that although they were talking about countries foreign to them, they perceived the situation as a personal threat. Why should this be so?

I postulate that it is my old frenemy, identity (or “ego”, or “self” – whichever you prefer) that is at work here. I also realised that the same mechanism works wherever people protest against feminism, contrary to all and any rational arguments. Very often, even women protest, to their detriment.

Continue reading “Whose life is this: yours or your identity’s? By Oxana Poberejnaia”

A Maternal Perspective Towards the Body by Elisabeth Schilling

IMG_0617Separatism and dualism do not usually serve me. I understand that denying unity and reducing the multi-prismatic complexity of existence muddies up our vision of reality and can sometimes clog up the channels to compassion. So knowing that this perspective is not universal, but temporarily (at least) healing to me, a particular body with a life situation that gives me access to this kind of thinking, I explore taking a maternal perspective toward my body.

In Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara’s Most Intimate, she mentions the “freedom of experiencing myself [the self] as relationship” (23). I was confused when I first read this.  Relationships are usually outside of me or with me, but not what I am. Yet, after thinking about it, I know that I have been in relationship with myself. We (my body and whatever the “me” is) have been simply so enmeshed and mottled with my perspective of possession, owning, unrealistically demanding and having authority over that body, that it was just not a healthy relationship. Continue reading “A Maternal Perspective Towards the Body by Elisabeth Schilling”

The Fringe is Our Stronghold by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaRecently I have come across several stories of women’s fringe spiritual movements or practices. This made me think about the role of outsiders’ or minority views in religions and society.

Patriarchy pushes women and their issues to the margins of society and religion. It seems that there women sometimes invent their own spiritual practices. These allow women to stand their own ground in religious matters, to preserve self-respect and to keep the hope of the highest spiritual attainment.

Quite often these beliefs and practices seem shocking in their bizarreness and their stubbornness not to accept orthodox norms.

Continue reading “The Fringe is Our Stronghold by Oxana Poberejnaia”

20 Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Become Geshemas — An Update by Karen Nelson Villanueva

KarenIn the winter of 2013, I went on pilgrimage to Kathmandu, Nepal. While there, I visited the Khachoe Ghakyil Ling (Pure Land of Bliss) Tibetan Buddhist nunnery, the largest in Nepal with about 400 nuns. It’s affiliated with the nearby Kopan monastery where I stayed in the retreat housing. The nuns gave a group of us a tour of the gompa  (meditation room), classrooms, workshops, and kitchen. The studies at the nunnery include math, science, and English, Nepali, and Tibetan languages, as well as meditation, debate, ritual arts, and chanting, the same education that the monks receive at the monastery. When not engaged in prayer and education, the nuns produce herbal incense renowned for its healing properties, which clear and uplift the mind. Not surprisingly for their ambitious program, a nun’s average day is 14 hours long.

Young Nuns - KopanSince I am averse to crowds and rebellious by nature, I ducked out of much of the sight-seeing and instead spent my time engaging with the novitiates, the young nuns who were milling about before dinner because they had completed their classes, daytime prayers, and other duties. We asked each other questions like “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” Then I was treated to “Watch me do this!” and “Can you do this?” because the language of children is universal. Yet, what was special about these girls was that they were being given food, shelter, and an education — opportunities that many their ages, especially girls, would never know. Continue reading “20 Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Become Geshemas — An Update by Karen Nelson Villanueva”

O Tempora o mores by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaI have entitled this post O Tempora o mores after a sentence by Cicero, meaning “Oh what times! Oh what customs!” I would like to discuss how some of the messages we get from religious writings are defined by the age in which they were written.

As a result, I argue that it is wiser to pay more attention to the overall message of a given spiritual tradition, rather than to subject our view on a single quote.

Phra_Malai_Manuscript_LACMA_M.76.93.2_(11_of_21)One of the most popular texts in Thai Buddhism (which is of Theravada tradition) is called Phra Malai Klon Suat, “Chanted Version of Phra Malai.” It was reproduced copiously in the 19th century, with the earliest version dating from the 18th century. However, its origins are believed to be more ancient, coming from the original Indian Buddhism.

Continue reading “O Tempora o mores by Oxana Poberejnaia”

The good vs the better by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaToday let’s talk about the relationship between the Ultimate and the relative. I do not have the answers to these tricky questions, I would just like to outline the problems. Why, on the Buddhist path, do I often tell myself and others not to rush to get Enlightened immediately? Why do I often keep silent about my friends’ attitudes that I find not so feminist?

There is an old platitude that the theme of the Soviet films about social problems was the “struggle of the good against the better.” This was the case because in the USSR there supposedly was no class struggle and no problems proceeding from the rule of the Communist Party. So in the scripts the conflict was set up between good Soviet people and even better Soviet people, the latter even more dedicated to the Communist ideals.

The fact that I am a feminist and follow a Buddhist path must mean that in principle I am all for “the better” and even, “the best” – that is, a social world where women and men enjoy equal rights and everyone is enlightened.

Continue reading “The good vs the better by Oxana Poberejnaia”

“Suchness” of inequality vs. the “story” of patriarchy by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaIn the TV film about American suffragists “Iron Jawed AngelsAlice Paul (played by Hilary Swank) says to a psychiatrist who came to prison to assess her mental state during her hunger strike:

You asked me to explain myself. I just wonder what needs to be explained. Let me be very clear. Look into your own heart. I swear to you, mine’s no different. You want a place in the trades and professions where you can earn your bread? So do I. You want some means of self expression? Some way of satisfying your own personal ambitions? So do I. You want a voice in the government in which you live? So do I. What is there to explain? Continue reading ““Suchness” of inequality vs. the “story” of patriarchy by Oxana Poberejnaia”

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