Where does your conviction come from? By Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaI sometimes feel a bit awkward about not having read a lot of feminist books and not knowing a lot of feminist theory. However, I draw support from the example of Zen, “the teaching beyond letters.”

zen_logo_by_vargux-d4lwlr5The number and scope of different Buddhist traditions might overwhelm non-Buddhists reading my ramblings or any other writings about Buddhism. Even Buddhists, as those who come to Manchester Buddhist Convention, of which I am a co-organiser, every year discover new Buddhist groups that have been hitherto unknown to them.

All these traditions claim to be an authentic form of Buddhism and those that are concerned with such things, trace direct lineage of teaching coming all the way from the Buddha. As the editor of the volume “Buddhist Scriptures” Donald S Lopez Jr notes (Penguin Classics, 2004), such diversity requires certain means of ensuring that this school’s particular teachings are still in line if not with the letter, then with the spirit of the historic Buddha’s teaching.

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Bodies of More and Less Value by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaThere is a story in the collection called Avadanasataka (One Hundred Legends) of the Sarvastivadin school, one of the schools of early Indian Buddhism that did not survive to present day, relating one episode from the Buddha’s previous lives. The story is about king Padmaka who sacrificed his life to cure his subjects of a disease. Here is an academic article about this episode.

The Buddha was prompted to tell this story of his previous life in order to illustrate to his monks, once again, the workings of karma. All of the monks in the Buddha’s milieu were sick with a digestive disorder, while he remained well. The Buddha presented the story of king Padmaka as a proof that no good deed is ever lost and that what he had done then has an effect now in that the Buddha has good digestion.

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Happy International Women’s Day, Men and Women of the World by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaI am writing this on International Women’s Day. I know from living in three different countries what different faces this day can have. And I can see how these different perceptions are informed by each country’s history and political situation. This is a Buddhist principle of dependent co-arising: nothing exists in separation from anything else, all phenomena arise in dependence on everything else.

8 Marta - 8 March Russian card
8 Marta – 8 March Russian card

For instance, the Soviet 8th March was a public holiday and culturally it was a day to celebrate femininity, and – separately but connected – awakening of nature in spring. In the US, International Women’s Day was next to non-existing when I lived there in mid-1990s, apart from for hardcore Communists and Socialists, who celebrated it as a milestone on the road to Socialist equality. In the UK nowadays, International Women’s Day takes on a shape of a women-only day, a statement of women’s independence and very often celebration of same-sex love between women.

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