Women and Buddhism

with Jan Willis

July 20th

Date details +
    Price:
  • $100 Program Price
  • $125 Patron Price

The Buddhist community has always consisted of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, in that order, largely in deference to the social and cultural structures and conditions of its birth in northern India. However, the question of women's place and standing within Buddhism has remained throughout a problematic and, sometimes, contentious one. In this daylong exploration, we will investigate the complex, and changing, status of women within Buddhism--in relationship to Buddhist doctrine and its practice.

During the first half of the day, we shall focus on women in Buddhist literature-- examining both early Buddhist history and the imaging and portrayal of women in Buddhist literature over time--in order to draw conclusions about women's place and status according to doctrinal sources. It will also be our intention to critique such sources and the conditions which gave rise to their production.

Thereafter, during the second half of the day, we will focus on women in Buddhism, looking particularly at the lives of some ancient and contemporary Buddhist women, with the aim of understanding the values and concerns which have sustained, driven, and empowered them.

This course will ask you to think, engage with others, write a bit, and imagine together a Buddhist women’s lineage.

Course Resources:

  1. Diana Paul, Women in Buddhism.
  2. Christine Toomey, In Search of Buddha’s Daughters.
  3. Jan Willis, Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra.

About the Teacher:

Jan Willis is Professor of Religion, Emerita, at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Ct. (BA in Philosophy and PhD in Indic and Buddhist Studies), an award-winning teacher, and the author of six books, five on Buddhist meditation, Women in Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhist biography, and a memoir, Dreaming Me, Black, Baptist, and Buddhist.