DANCING IN THE DHARMA: The Life And Teachings of Ruth Denison Sandy Boucher
"What was it about Ruth that drew me back, year after year, for almost three decades?" Sandy Boucher asks herself early in Dancing in the Dharma. Delving into Denison’s dramatic and sometimes tragic past, Boucher examines the life of this beloved and controversial teacher to try to understand what shaped her and informed her teaching. In the great movement of Buddhism to the West, Ruth Denison pioneered and innovated with her own quintessentially female and unique way of teaching the Dharma. She was the first Buddhist teacher to lead an all-women’s retreat and the first teacher to use movement and dance to train her students in mindfulness. As Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society, remembers, "The wisdom, and the emptiness side of things, were very clear in her. She expressed all that very, very well." Catching the unique charm of Ruth’s voice in vivid scenes and anecdotes, Boucher tells the gripping story of Ruth’s youth in Nazi-dominated Germany, her years in Hollywood in the sixties and seventies as a participant in the counterculture, her world travels to study with the major spiritual teachers of the twentieth century in Asia and Europe, and her flowering as a Buddhist teacher. Along the way, Boucher also addresses the hard question of how to continue to learn from a spiritual teacher while responding to that teacher’s complex personality.
FIRST BUDDHIST WOMEN: Songs And Stories from the Therigatha by Susan Murcott
First Buddhist Women is a readable, contemporary translation of and commentary on the enlightenment verses of the first female disciples of the Buddha. Through the study of the Therigatha, the earliest-known collection of women’s religious poetry, the book explores Buddhism's 2,600-year-long liberal attitude toward women. Utilizing commentary and storytelling, author Susan Murcott traces the journey of wives, mothers, teachers, courtesans, prostitutes, and wanderers who became leaders in the Buddhist community, acquiring roles that even today are rarely filled by women in other, patriarchal religions.
MEETING THE GREAT BLISS QUEEN: Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self, 2nd edition by Anne Carolyn Klein
Despite the daunting barriers of geography and language that separate them, Buddhism and contemporary feminism have much to say to each other. Buddhist practices such as mindfulness (in which calm centering and keen awareness of change co-exist) and compassion (in which the self is recognized as both powerful in itself and interdependently connected with all others) can be important resources for contemprary women, while feminism can expand the traditional horizons of Buddhist concerns to include social, historical, and psychological issues. The image and ritual of the Great Bliss Queen, an important Buddhist figure of enlightenment, form the unifying theme of the book, modeling the practices and theory that can assist each of us in being at one with ourselves and fully engaged with others.
"Anne Klein's Meeting the Great Bliss Queen presents us with a new and welcomed approach to the conversation between Buddhism and feminist thought. With 'the self' and 'subjectivity' as its central themes, the work is a lively yet rigorous discussion of Buddhist textual traditions in light of contemporary feminist theory. At the same time there is an element of personal reflection in Klein's work that makes the book immediately approachable, and that contextualizes the scholarly material in a way that is rare in contemporary writing in the field of Buddhist studies. A work of great erudition and sensitivity. A must read for anyone interested in the dialogue between Buddhism and feminism."--José Ignacio Cabezón, Iliff School of Theology
"An astute and absorbing exploration of the interface between Buddhism and Feminist perspectives."--Tsultrim Allione, founder of Tara Mandala and author of Women of Wisdom
"A groundbreaking and important book. Klein is one of the few scholars in the Buddhist studies field who has devoted serious attention to the literature of Western feminism; likewise, her long experience in the field of Tibetan Buddhist study and practice provides her with the solid grounding necessary to speak for that tradition. The bringing together of these totally dissimilar worlds holds great promise for adding new insights to contemporary discussions of the nature of the self; indeed, it is difficult to imagine that the kind of conversation Klein proposes will not end by profoundly transforming the participants on both sides."--Jan Nattier, Indiana University
"This book is a breakthrough in feminist cross-cultural reflection on self and subjectivity. An eminent scholar of Tibetan Buddhist studies, Anne Klein has distilled twenty-five years of her rich research and personal experience in this compelling study. She succeeds in showing the current relevance of Buddhism to Western feminists without minimizing any of its challenge to certain notions about selfhood. The conversation constructed around the Great Bliss Queen is artful, elegant, and of importance to anyone interested in feminist theory, Buddhist religious philosophy in America, and different meanings of the self."--Nancy K. Frankenberry, Dartmouth College
"In this highly personal reflection about the construction of identity in Tibetan and Western cultures, Anne Klein weaves together various strands of Buddhist and Western philosophy, deconstructionism, and feminism and provides numerous insights into Tibetan Buddhist meditation, ritual, and doctrine. Through the symbol of the Great Bliss Queen, a mythical figure of Tibetan Buddhism, she explores the problems of a cross-cultural dialogue between women.