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”

Friendships That Save Lives: For Rita M. Gross 1943-2015, by Carol P. Christ

Carol Eftalou - Michael HonnegerWhen Rita Gross visited me in Lesbos two summers ago, we spent many long hours discussing our lives and work. Rita and I met at the Conference of Women Theologians at Alverno College in June, 1971 when we were young women. We did not know it then, but our lives would continue to be intertwined through our common interests, first in the Women and Religion section of the American Academy of Religion, and then through our work on Goddesses and feminist theology.

When we met, Rita was a convert to Judaism working on her dissertation on Australian Aboriginal women’s religious lives, and I was a Christian about to begin a dissertation on Elie Wiesel’s stories that would lead me to express my own anger at God. Continue reading “Friendships That Save Lives: For Rita M. Gross 1943-2015, by Carol P. Christ”

Buddhism and Feminism: Is Female Rebirth an Obstacle? by Rita M. Gross

rita1Feminist foremother in the field of women and religion and Buddhist feminist theologian Rita Gross died on November 11, 2015 in her beautiful home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, surrounded by symbols of Buddhist art and the loving presence of her cats. Rita suffered a massive stroke in late October, and in accord with her wishes to refuse extraordinary care, she was provided with hospice care in her home, which kept her comfortable as she died. Those who were with her said that she entered into an advanced meditative state in her last days.

In gratitude for her life and work, FAR republishes her reflections on the Buddhist notion that female rebirth is an obstacle.

Buddhist teachings recommend appreciating obstacles because they are helpful to our practice.  Without obstacles we would never develop profound understanding or compassion.  Buddhists have also frequently claimed that female rebirth is an obstacle.  If obstacles are of great benefit, shouldn’t women, who encounter more obstacles than  men, rise to the top of the hierarchy of  revered Buddhist teachers? But that has not happened.

Is this obstacle actually of benefit to women, as teachings on the helpfulness of obstacles would suggest? After practicing Buddhism for almost forty years, I have come to appreciate how much the many obstacles I faced over the years have taught me.  For a woman of my generation (born 1943), none has been greater than the limitations placed on me as a woman, both by Western culture and by Buddhism.   Continue reading “Buddhism and Feminism: Is Female Rebirth an Obstacle? by Rita M. Gross”

Blindness of the Gals by Oxana Poberejnaia

Oxana PoberejnaiaWomen (and men) are often blind to women’s inequality. I, as a Buddhist practitioner, have been blind to the reality of women’s second-class status in sacred texts of Buddhism and practice.

In her book “Buddhism After Patriarchy” Rita M. Gross describes how her fellow western Buddhist women completely overlooked the fact that women are not allowed into Rumtek Buddhist monastery in Sikkim, even after watching a video of a woman leaving an offering outside the gate and walking away.

Continue reading “Blindness of the Gals by Oxana Poberejnaia”

What Do Women Bring to the Interfaith Table? by Rita M. Gross

The most important thing that women bring to the interfaith table is our sheer presence. I do not support theories of gender essentialism, which claim that women and men are fundamentally different, that men have a masculine essence different from women’s feminine essence. Regarding most interfaith issues, I do not think that women offer different insights than men could. But because religions have been such a boys-only club, the presence of women at the interfaith table loudly proclaims a critical message that can be proclaimed no other way. Religions are no longer going to be male sanctuaries, closed off to women except for the supportive roles we have traditionally played. Continue reading “What Do Women Bring to the Interfaith Table? by Rita M. Gross”

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