Women and the Dharma

November 6, 2014 by     Print This Post Print This Post


Prajnaparamita, mother of all the buddhas.


59 Responses to “Women and the Dharma”

  1. rita on February 10th, 2015 2:53 am

    Janelle, great article from Pam Rubin thanks for posting it –will use it as a reference for things that I may get involved in in the future re possible formations of groups-both dharmic and non-dharmic.

    Yes imitation of the guru always a problem I think and since VCTR died, people are wondering how what they ‘got’ or ‘received’ from him should be taken forward in an appropriate manner, so more thinking and discussion has to take place as to Care and Conduct for the student I agree.

    Hopefully the groups that have split will be thinking about this and coming up with something in the years to come. I am involved in a beginning dharmic network myself and this issue is one we should consider and indeed we have been having talks on Women and Gender at our convention in the city.

    Also have you yourself thought of writing such a piece on Care and Conduct as somewhat of a proposal for others and organisations. Perhaps indeed also the zen community has come up with such a document for you to consider aswell.

    Yes I come from a region of the UK, the north which has many feminist historical roots particularly as regards to the suffragette movement because the Pankhursts came from this city of Manchester, and indeed here women tend to be more outward going as to their rights even in the present sense of economic decline.

    And strangely at the moment I seem myself to be being surrounded by so many powerful women from the Arts and other spheres-so a veritable wave of feminine energy happening. So I dont know could you pursue this issue of Care and Conduct with others both men and women, and indeed maybe some former VCTR students? I also think Mark of rfs would be willing to publish a longer article on Care and Conduct for people to consider and reflect upon.
    Best Rita Ashworth

  2. John Tischer on February 10th, 2015 3:48 pm

    No…I was there. VCTR never mistreated women It was consensual…

    Christakes….he fucked all my wives, lovers……I was glad about it

    no, you can’t touch him

  3. rita on February 11th, 2015 2:41 am

    Aok Janelle.

    Yes dont know if it is the result of historical process of feminism, the times we are in, or that debated karma ha, but I am meeting now incredible women who are spiritual and use their power so wisely in both conventional faith formats and non-faith arenas. So this another ‘reason’, though maybe not of the logical variety ha that I think some semblance of Open Dojo will be more present in the world.

    Indeed we can see this openness and kind of feminine energy happening all over in the conventional ‘political’ world too from Iceland to Burma. So we seem to be coming into another age in terms of deep governance and abandonment of old hierarchies.

    This is another ‘reason’ as to where I have placed myself where I am now ‘spiritually’ in this world of dissembling institutions and outdated forms of organisation in religion and politics.

    So I look forward to more spiritual questioning of structure as it is now in the coming years from yourself and other women.

    Well best and hope things go well for you across the pond. Best Rita Ashworth

  4. rita on February 12th, 2015 3:26 am

    A-ha …yeh Mark of rfs wrote an article on Open Dojo which is on this site under Shambhala Vision which you can see on the front page…..the argy-bargies as to what is Open Dojo went on for some time I was perusing them myself last night to read what everyone had posted.

    Anyway still somewhat have a feeling that Open Dojo is the way to go – can now see this being reflected even in the practicalities of our world re politics and its tumbling out of its buildings and fortresses of the present.
    Indeed over in ol GB we are having seven parties debate policies on the BBC in the general election period –quite something even the Green Party getting a shot with public nationally now. Wonder what would happen in the US if the Green Party got such a platform there?

    Meanwhile I have read and heard of Presidents Reoch’s ‘resignation’ from office-quite something, so now in western terms SI has an absolute monarchical system-wonder how that is going to go or not go?Haha.

    For myself still exploring Open Dojo for sure in realms that even have not the semblance of dharma now, but do have an edge of the feminine energy thing to them in that they are open and fluid.

    Yes beginning to think lots of dharmic forms are slowly going the way of the dinosaur, and that these dinosaur forms are slowly playing out their last dances in what has occurred after CTR’s death in the US.

    Yeh for me surely Over and ………………….out….with the whole thing stateside.
    Well best Rita

  5. Damchö on March 27th, 2015 7:24 pm

    (1 of 5) I visited RFS yesterday for the first time in I guess a couple of months. A day after my last post I had a delayed reaction to the experience of this thread. What happened back then was that I received an email from someone who’d been posting here, informing me matter-of-factly that I was clearly a “sociopath.” Even worse, the person had actually leapt to the conclusion that I must be, in fact, a veritable rapist, and had written a number of posts speculating on this idea.

    After the “sociopath” email, gradually my correspondent seemed to realize what she had done, apologized several times, fully took down all the relevant posts by the following day, and asked me if there was anything she could do to help. I said I couldn’t think of anything, and not to worry. But as I say, it took until the next day for all this to properly sink in.

    In fact the experience has been quite traumatic for me. I got very run down. Basically stopped sleeping, fell into a blacker depression — everything. After about ten days of that I got a bad case of the flu. I rarely get the flu, but this was probably the worst I’ve ever been through. Very high fever for five days, could barely move, no appetite at all for a week. I also live alone and am isolated, and honestly there were days when I felt the body was testing the will to live, in a sense, and that I was close to failing. I’m not being melodramatic: it was (is) an especially grim time.

    After about two weeks I regained ordinary health, but couldn’t figure out what, if anything, to do about this. For one thing, saying anything more risks generating further wildness. In addition, I truly don’t wish to make the other person feel worse about her actions (which is why I’m not using her name — I notice that she’s deleted all her posts on this thread, as on the other thread, so I feel that if some random visitor chances on this post in the future, they would not have anyone to associate it with).

    I kept being torn. And then … I quickly started getting run down again, and am now sick a second time (not flu, but not good). Not sleeping and no energy. One night after slicing my finger washing the dishes and having to visit the ER, I discovered also that my blood pressure is high for the first time in my life; it was considerably higher than it has ever been. So I guess I’ve decided to say something.

  6. Damchö on March 27th, 2015 7:30 pm

    (2 of 5) I realized that two things were nagging me, at the back of my mind. The first was that I never saw three of the four posts that were put up. The person concerned very briefly summarized what she put in them to me in an email, but I have no idea if that was everything she said. When I went over to the site after receiving her email there was only one post intact and three that contained a single word or letter (she said she was having trouble deleting entire posts). So I am haunted by that.

    And then the second thing is this: in another email she said “you could definitely sue me for libel if you wanted.” And over the course of these weeks I would find myself thinking about what that meant. I mean, just who read those posts? And what did they make of them? I have no idea. But as I say, I’m tired of being this run down and feeling this appalling. So I’m going to say a few things about this.

    Evidently this person, having my first (English) name and the knowledge that I once — somewhere, and at some time — lived in the country of Britain, did a search and discovered a man in London who’d once been in prison for a sex crime. Since he lived in a country I once lived in, and had the same first name (a very common one even), she thought that maybe that person was me! Then, searching Facebook profiles, she discovered another person with the same first name, living at the other end of the country, in Newcastle. This person was a buddhist, and had done a 3-year retreat. She noticed that the retreat years matched the years this other person in London was in prison, and decided for some reason that, thus, they were the same person — ie, that the person in London had actually invented a 3-year retreat, and a persona in Newcastle, to cover the period they were in prison. Again, on the basis of having the same first name.

    Well, that might work as a plot twist in a film somehow (with some fine-tuning). As far as how it relates to me, it suffers from just a few little problems: 1) I’ve never lived in London; 2) I’ve never even set foot in Newcastle; 3) I’ve never been on Facebook; 4) I’ve never pretended to have done a 3-year retreat; oh, and 5) I’ve never been in prison nor committed a sex crime. Apart from that…

  7. Damchö on March 27th, 2015 7:40 pm

    (3 of 5) Then, this composite English person (I’m not even English) is said to be the same person who was let go from an American retreat centre — again because of a shared first name… Her automatic assumption was that this person was kicked out for … rape. And letting the whole black fantasy swirl around in my mind, I found myself getting sucked into the darkness.

    As I emailed her, there are a great many reasons why people have to leave a retreat centre. They might have been seen partaking of a substance which happens to be unapproved by the State. They might have been seen drinking alcohol outside of specified times/places. They might have missed too many rota or work shifts. They might be deemed for one reason or another not to be “fitting in” (permutations of which have been expressed for years on this site). A teacher or centre director might not have processed something negative in their own past very well, and — like all the rest of us — be subject to projections.

    Some of those in authority just abuse power sometimes, or are actually not very compassionate people, and — as some of us have been saying here for a long time — power reliably corrupts within certain kinds of dynamics. Most of those who have ever posted on this website know instances of serious injustice within Shambhala. Ironically, even this person herself had experienced ostracism within the sangha! And thus should know better how dysfunctional (and deeply cruel) it can be.

    Then, over the course of time, I realized that the reason why I had become *that* run down was because it was this, the very core set of experiences which has most harmed me in my life, and from which I definitely have not recovered, which was being wielded as a weapon by this person against me. And I began to ask myself: does it never end?! I mean, what is *wrong* with this sangha?

  8. Damchö on March 27th, 2015 7:44 pm

    (4 of 5) I came to this site because it was a space outside the Matrix, as it were, where people could express themselves freely within Buddhist and Shambhalian View. Anyone who has read even a few of the many dozens, maybe even hundreds, of posts I have made here over the years knows that I always strive to practice mindful and kind speech. No one is perfect, but I really do take a lot of care with what I write, and try very hard to be fair and decent in what I say.

    In fact, I began posting again here, for the first time in a year or two, precisely because I empathized with this person’s words on the other thread. In all, I spent quite a few hours communicating with her there in a way that was 100% supportive, and then, further, decided to email her too, in case I might be able to find a way of helping better. And my reward was: being called a “sociopath”! To be fair, she also said that there seemed to be *some* good in me too, that I wasn’t wholly evil. Well golly, thanks.

    I need this like I need a hole in the head.

    Of course, nothing I’ve said on this thread isn’t being said by any number of women commentators / journalists / academics, most of whom even identify broadly as feminists — and they are being said ever more prominently as each year goes by. But I’m a man, and thus am not allowed to say them.

    Incidentally, I also chose to use an English name in emailing her, but told her that, due to issues of trust, when I write about the sangha online here I need to do so at a slight distance, as it were. I told her that this was crucial for me: I’d had more than enough experience for a lifetime in how twisted things can become when people within a community who have rejected someone hear things at one, two, and three removes. She firmly promised she would never reveal it. Right, okay.

  9. Damchö on March 27th, 2015 7:52 pm

    (5 of 5) There are a number of Shambhalian lessons here, but I don’t have the energy for them just now. I do want to say this though: it’s no trifling matter to spin fantasies of this kind out loud, especially online.

    Really I think that everything we’ve been told — in talks on the precepts, for example — about the multiple harms of unmindful speech within a community should be understood as applying a thousand fold when the internet is at issue. At least within a community people can come face to face (if said community is functional) and relate to the full humanity of each other.

    Online, however, most people, leaping about from page to page, skimming rather than reading, taking insufficient care regarding the veracity of source, will often at least provisionally believe much of what they hear about a stranger or acquaintance — and then, time being what it is — never inquire further. These can even be people one has applied to for a job, or a hoped-for friend.

    I recently discovered that in the Jewish tradition ill speech is considered to be a kind of murder. This is so because it can destroy a person’s reputation and poison all sorts of relationships. An old Hasidic tale says it well I think:

    A man found himself spreading negative rumours about a rabbi. Then one day he realized what he’d been doing and felt remorse. He went to the rabbi and told him this, asking what he could do to make reparations.

    The rabbi told him that first he would have to take a preparatory step. The man said: “anything, anything.” So the rabbi instructed him to take several large feather pillows outdoors on a windy day, then to open the pillows and let all of the feathers fly away. After doing so, he was to return to see the rabbi on the following day.

    The man was a little puzzled but did as he was asked, then, returning, begged the rabbi to tell him what he could now do to make reparations. The rabbi replied: “okay, now go out and collect every last feather you released yesterday and bring them all back to me.”

    The man didn’t understand: “But that’s impossible.”

    To which the rabbi responded: “Indeed it is. And speech is like the wind. The damage is done, despite your good intentions now.”