The Rise of Women in Buddhism – Suzanne Maresca via Lama Tsultrim Allione

White Tara – unknown artist

***

The Rise of Women in Buddhism

By Lama Tsultrim Allione on Saturday July 1st, 2017

 

Dissolving the Constructs of Inequality in Spirituality

When I think about women and Buddhism, the first thing that always comes to mind is the story of Tara’s vow. This story expresses our situation so very clearly and applies equally well to both ancient and modern times. It is a story that originated when Mahayana was integrating with tantra, ultimately forming what became Vajrayana in India. It is emblematic of a wave of stories that followed about powerful women who valued themselves as women within Buddhism. Many of the stories from that era in India (around 700–800 CE) tell us what was happening both sociologically in the culture, and developmentally in Vajrayana. During this period, for the first time, Buddhism had women teaching men. It was also the dawn of female Buddhas and the feminine wisdom principle, which began with Prajnaparamita, the ‘Mother of All the Buddhas,’ in the Mahayana period.

The story tells us that Tara was a princess named Wisdom Moon, who was very devoted to the dharma and had a deep meditation practice. When she was close to enlightenment, raising the intention to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, a monk approached her and said what a pity it was that she was in the body of a woman, because she would have to come back as a man before she could become enlightened. The princess answered back brilliantly, demonstrating her understanding of emptiness and absolute truth, saying:

Here there is no man; there is no woman, no self, no person, and no consciousness. Labelling ‘male’ or ‘female’ is hollow. Oh, how worldly fools delude themselves.

She went on to make the following vow: “Those who wish to attain supreme enlightenment in a man’s body are many, but those who wish to serve the aims of beings in a woman’s body are few indeed; therefore may I, until this world is emptied out, work for the benefit of sentient beings in a woman’s body.”

Tara became a symbol of feminine holinessTara’s story speaks of the early misunderstandings of gender in spirituality.

From that time onward, the princess dedicated herself to realizing complete enlightenment. Once she accomplished that goal, she came to be known as Tara, the Liberator. I like to say that Tara is the first ‘Women’s Libber’ and that Green Tara is the spiritual leader of the Green Party, guardian of the forest; fast acting and compassionate, with one foot in the world and one foot in meditation, a place where many of us find ourselves.

Embracing Non-Gender AND the Feminine

As a practitioner of Buddhism, I don’t think about myself in terms of gender. When I am in my retreat cabin meditating, I try to cut through such concepts and rest in the true condition of unborn and unceasing luminous emptiness, the ground of being. However, I have continued to be committed to the reemergence of the sacred feminine in the Buddhist tradition. I don’t see any conflict or dissonance in these two views. This commitment has manifested at Tara Mandala, my retreat center in southern Colorado, where we have built a three-story mandala temple dedicated to the twenty-one Taras; all various aspects of the enlightened feminine.

Having come from a family of accomplished women, who were respected and valued equally to men, I never felt that there were certain things a woman couldn’t or shouldn’t do. So when I began studying with the Tibetans in 1967, I had no particular awareness of gender prejudices. After my ordination by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa in Bodhgaya in January 1970, I set out on my life as a Buddhist nun. Because of the lack of available translations, I had only a general idea of the vows I had taken and lived blissfully unaware of the ingrained inequalities for several years.

Becoming a Buddhist Nun

I had been ordained as a sramanerika (getsulma in Tibetan), or novice, with just thirty-six vows, and didn’t learn until later that the Buddha had given extra rules of discipline to fully ordained women. According to some Vinaya traditions, there are 311 vows for fully ordained women bhiskunis, or gelongma, compared with 227 vows for men who become bhikshus. Many of the extra vows have to do with nuns’ subordination to monks.

A getsulma is a novice monk or nunA getsulma is a novice monk or nun.

According to stories in the Vinaya, Gautama Buddha refused to admit women to the monastic order several times before he finally agreed to do so at the persistent request of his stepmother, Mahaprajapati, and the strong intervention of his cousin Ananda on her behalf. Mahaprajapati was not just any woman asking to become a nun. She was his own mother’s sister, and had nursed and raised the Buddha from the moment of his mother’s death, shortly after he was born. When he opened the sangha to women, it is said that the Buddha also made it more difficult for them to be ordained and made them subordinate to all monks. Supposedly, he also predicted that admitting women to the sangha would shorten the life of the sangha by five hundred years. However, it’s not known whether these stories are historically accurate or whether, as some Buddhist scholars suggest, they were written somewhat later by androcentric and patriarchal monks.

To the credit of my lamas, in my early days as a nun, I never felt any misogynist tendencies and had full confidence that I would have complete access to the teachings whenever I was ready for the next step. My first awakening to sexism in Buddhism came when I went to attend a three-month series of empowerments in India, given by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Tashi Jong, near Dharamsala, in 1973. When Ani Jinpa, a Dutch nun, and I were looking for seating, we were told that we had to sit behind all the monks, including the recently ordained, six-year-old squirming little monks who could not yet read. I was surprised and a little disappointed in my adopted religion. For three months, we sat way at the back of the temple, squeezed between the child monks and the constantly chatting laypeople. It got me thinking.

Finding the balanceThe balance of the masculine and the feminine within Buddhist teachings is awry.

That same year, I decided to disrobe — not because of the sexism I saw in Buddhism, but because I could see no future for myself as a nun. I was the only Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition in America, which was where I was trying to live and study with Chögyam Trungpa. At one point, I asked Trungpa Rinpoche for a text on the feminine principle in Buddhism, and he gave me a big Tibetan volume on Prajnaparamita. I never managed to do anything with this text because I was soon to become a mother of three.

Getting to Know the Women of Tradition

I really became interested in looking at the stories of women in Buddhism when I lost a child in the spring of 1980. She was the twin of my son, Costanzo, and succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome when she was two months old. After Chiara’s death, I felt a deep need for the stories of women in my tradition. I needed to know their lives. The biographies of men weren’t helping me.

I couldn’t find any of stories of women, and in the few references to women in The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa I read things like, “Because of my sinful karma, I was given this inferior female body.” I didn’t believe that.

In 1981, I travelled to India and Nepal looking for the biographies of great women practitioners from Tibet. This research led to my first book, Women of Wisdom. While writing the book, I journeyed through India and Nepal asking for stories of enlightened women. After I got a blank stare from one monk when I made this request, I further explained what I was looking for and he said, “Oh now I understand. You are not looking for women’s stories, you mean dakinis’ biographies.” I then realized that whenever a woman became enlightened, it was assumed that she had to have been a special dakini (female embodiment of wisdom) and not an ordinary woman. An ordinary woman would never get enlightened. In fact, the Tibetan word for woman means ‘lower birth.’

Seeking enlightened women in NepalLama Tsultrim Allione travelled to Nepal, seeking stories of enlightened women.

The stories that I finally found gave me strength and inspiration, and the research awakened me to a broader awareness of women, and women’s issues, around the world. The rebalancing of genders currently under way may be the greatest achievement of this century. It has been very moving to me to watch this movement going forward in various forms all over the planet. In some countries, old forms are being revolutionized, but in others, we can see resulting reactionary repression.

The rights of women, their freedom, safety, and protection, are essential to the survival of the human species. How can any of us thrive if the voices of half the population are not heard and valued? These are the voices of women, who have historically spoken overwhelmingly on the side of nonviolence, peace, and protection of the earth. And although many countries have put into place national policies for women’s rights and protection, that are consistent with steps taken at the international level, it is obvious that there are still obstacles to the elimination of discrimination and violence against women and to achieving gender equality. Recent statistics show that two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, and downward trends have deepened during the recent global economic and social crisis.

However, in recent years there has been a movement toward gender equality within Buddhism. The Dalai Lama has been speaking more and more about the importance of having women in government leadership positions in order for peace to be possible on the earth. The Seventeenth Karmapa has promised to do what he can to reinstate the full ordination of women in Vajrayana Buddhism. In the Theravada tradition, full ordination has returned.

At a recent conference with the Dalai Lama for Western teachers of Buddhism, women teachers filled more than half the room. As we look around the world, we can now see a greater presence of women in leadership positions in Buddhism than ever before, but there is still a long way to go.

The Dalai Lama is a feministHis Holiness the Dalai Lama is an advocate of womens rights.

Celebrating the Masculine

On July 22 of this year, I suddenly lost my husband of twenty-two years. He had a special death with auspicious signs, but it was a shock for him to pass away at fifty-four with no warning. I realized it was important to express the deep gratitude and appreciation I feel for the masculine. David was an embodiment of a powerful masculine force that actualized everything at our centre over the last seventeen years — from the first yurts and tents, to our community building, the residence hall, and finally the beautiful three-story mandala Tara Temple. He also stood by me through thick and thin, through the challenges of starting a center and through attacks on me for being ‘too feminist,’ and therefore ‘not understanding non-duality.’ He supported me in my stand against sexual exploitation of women by male teachers, and protected the women who came to Tara Mandala.

In the wake of his passing, I am acutely aware of the role that the positive masculine plays in the balancing of our world and how important deeply respectful partnership is in establishing Buddhism in the West. This is true not only between partners in a couple, but in our relationships with friends, families, teachers, students, and within the sangha. I feel it is important to acknowledge and value the great men who are actively engaged in bringing wholeness and equality to the Buddhist world, as well as to honor the many women who have struggled and sacrificed to this end.

The absolute truth of the emptiness of gender and the relative truth of a real historical misogynist attitude in Buddhism lay side by side in Tara’s story. Her final vow to always return as a woman, and to reach enlightenment as a woman, shows both her understanding of absolute reality and the relative need for women to be valued and treated equally in Buddhism.

Lama Tsultrim Allione is the founder and spiritual director of Tara Mandala, and an author and international teacher

http://goldenageofgaia.com/2017/07/11/the-rise-of-women-in-buddhism/

Waking UP to a NEW Reality ~ Birthing of Consciousness – L’Aura Pleiadian

***

Waking UP to a NEW Reality ~ Birthing of Consciousness

AS I sit here to open my lap top ~  the Divine Council of Overseers is having a Council Meeting. I Am there and I am here. It  begins.

It does not happen all at once.

This waking up to a New Reality.

It comes in waves in a non linear way.

One day everything smells different and the memories of how things smell no longer exist in your awareness.

You get accustomed to that.

The New Part being ~ the now new familiar.

Pain and sorrow leave.

Attachments to how things should be no longer exist within your awareness.

One day things look very different.

Places, people things are knowns as the result of your inner world. Your inner consciousness.

You become more free with every moment.

You no longer react ~ as the energetic memories are released.

Your mind knows they had to change as you don’t remember them like that.

Yet, it is you changing. Changed.

You can hardly remember who you were.

It is like waking and emerging from a deep sleep and you see things and understand things, unlike anything you were aware of before.

Every day things look different again.

You adjust.

Your consciousness and the LIGHT within your consciousness and heart keeps increasing and expanding every day you are aware of this.

The Intensity every day and night is beyond what you could ever have imagined before.

The Glory ~ the Light. The magic, love and Bliss.

Your Heart opens and everything is experienced as if for the first time ~ all the time.

You have begun to live as a child once again.

You no longer live externally ~ yet everything externally has changed.

You Live within the wonder within your own consciousness. Your Divine Being.

Immersed in the moment in the beauty and wonder of it al.

It is magic ~ you are magic, You SEE it now.

You remember everything. Where you came from before arriving here.

You connect with the Many dimensional versions of you.

YOUR Higher Self and Divine Presence reorganizes your thought processes.

Your identity now is of your Divine Self only.

This increases daily.

You enter the door way to the New Earth. Where you stay aware and exist in a WORLD ~ where dreams are made of.

It was always there waiting for you.

AS are all aspects of consciousness.

YOUR Light again increases beyond anything.

The Love and Bliss.

Everything is in perfect Divine Order.

Your Eternal Beloved is with you.

YOU now live your NEW as your Ascended Being Self.

Which was always YOU.

YOU Are here and planned to be here Before Earth was created.

This is Destiny.

It is YOU becoming YOU.

The Divine YOU.

Through your form on Planet Earth.

The grand meeting place and interfacing of dimensional awareness.

We are with you in the GRAND glory of it All.

In the Divine Love of it ALL.

In the Divine Light emerging of it ALL.

And it is NOW.

 

To Follow me on Facebook and receive The Hourly Activation “Divine Ascended Being Activation”

https://www.facebook.com/laurapleiadianthenewdivinehumanity

You may join this Group to Receive (or Intend to receive this) the Hourly 11 ~ 33 minutes after every hour:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/Frequency5thDimension.AgeofAquarius/?fref=ts

Please like my Page and Receive the Hourly 11 ~ 33 minutes after every hour Activation:

https://www.facebook.com/TheNewDivineHumanity/

To Listen to the Audio Frequency Transmissions, Initiations, Invocations and receive Light Code downloads for you:

L’Aura Pleiadian (The New Divine Humanity)

To Follow me on Twitter:

http://www.twitter.comLAuraPleiadian

Website:

http://www.pleiadiandelegate.com/

copyright L’Aura Pleiadian~ The New Divine Humanity 2012-2017.

 

Archangel Michael on Sacred Partnership – Steve Beckow @ Golden Age of Gaia

Eden Art by Ines Honfi

***

Archangel Michael on Sacred Partnership

Archangel Michael and I had a discussion about sacred partnership on Sept. 30, 2015. I’m researching an article on the subject and came across it again.

As always, he makes many matters clear. The interview bears re-reading.

Archangel Michael: There are many things that we bring forth. Sometimes it is slightly hidden.  Sometimes it is a bit of a puzzle. Sometimes it is not immediately clear and other times it is crystal clear and it is presented on a silver platter arranged amongst the roses.

And we will present these types of things, this variety of things, of situations, opportunities, growth patterns, etc. to humanity time and time and time again.

Too often, far too often, the offering is not accepted or picked up. So, when I tease you and I say the horse has already left the stable, I am saying to both of you that it is a gift not only to you but to us when the offering, when the opportunity, when the growth potential is seen, accepted, acted upon, nurtured and taken up.  And you have done this.

Now does this mean, my beloved friends, that there will never be any issues or conflict or disagreements? Of course there will be. That is part of the growth pattern. But is there also extraordinary potential for joy, for soaring, for expansion, for a deepening of the knowledge and the wisdom of who you are, in service to the Mother/Father One? Yes, the opportunity is extraordinary.

We have spoken to you previously about the opportunity to anchor into form and upon Nova Earth this patterning of what it means in human form – whether you are angelic, archangelic, starseed; it matters not – into human reality the pattern of relationship of divine masculine/divine feminine.

Now we could make this incredibly complex but you know this is not a lesson in quantum physics. This is a conversation, a delightful conversation about love, about sacred union about the fulfilment of promise and about the anchoring of human potential of Nova Being as Nova Gaians. And what does this really mean?

We have spoken a great deal on this topic. It means, sweet angels, that you come from the heart. That you refer and you reflect your brilliant minds – yes, your emotional and your mental knowingness and history – but that you come from the place of heart consciousness that is expanded to such a degree that what human beings have termed, conflict, disagreement, even what we call growth opportunities, are but the chance, the open door to expand towards and with and into one another.

Never does this patterning in the divine masculine and feminine mean surrender of the self. If anything, it is the enormous, beautiful expansion of the self. Are there times of surrender to one another? Of course there are. That is the nature of unity. Not just relationship; I am speaking of unity.

And are there times of standing stalwart, of knowing the truth of what you hold near and dear as truth to your beingness? Yes, there are. Are there times when there are different perceptions or experiences of this? Yes, of course there are. But that is the nature of conjoining and, might I ask, the willingness to complement one another, not simply to admire, to adore, to love but the willingness to complement.

Steve Beckow: What does that mean, Lord, “complement”?

AAM: Think of it in this way. I am the Archangel of Peace, the Warrior of Love and I have my mission and purpose and promises that I have made to the Mother, let us say before I get to return to my art and music; and I am sure before that she will have another task for me! But nevertheless….

Steve: (laughing)… Taking a few billion years!

AAM: Yes, just a few!

But what do I do? In everything I endeavor, whether it is in your terminology, thought or action, heart consciousness, love, I am but a complement to the Mother. That is the truth and purpose of every breath, every minuscule movement because that is the core of what you would think of or term my desires.

When one is truly in sacred union – and, concomitant to that, patterning in the divine feminine and masculine – what are you doing except complementing the Mother/Father One?

You are not merely emulating. You are inhabiting such a way of being that your totality, the wholeness, not just the composite parts, but the wholeness of your being is a complement to one another and, in turn, a complement to Mother/Father One.

So in this way, such things, such outmoded patterns as competition, as conflict, as disagreement in the old realm are not even possible because the totality of your being [is] as an individual to complement the Mother/Father but also to complement one another and thereby complement the Mother/Father.

So when I work with my beloved sister Gabrielle, we harmonize our energies. We complement one another although she always wants to take the lead! And in so doing we complement not only the Mother/Father but the One, the All, the Everything.

So that is what I mean. When you are taking action, let us be practical, does this grow, stretch, solidify, and harmonize the union? Harmonize the other in this union? Or does it detract? That is what I mean. (Archangel Michael in a personal reading with Steve Beckow through Linda Dillon, Sept. 30, 2015.)

***

Eden Art by Ines Honfi

http://goldenageofgaia.com/2017/07/11/archangel-michael-on-sacred-partnership/