Buddhist Women Across Cultures


Edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Subjects: Religion
Series: SUNY series, Feminist Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791441381, 336 pages, April 1999
Hardcover : 9780791441374, 336 pages, April 1999

Table of contents


Mahaprajapati's Legacy: The Buddhist Women's Movement: An Introduction
Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Part I: Buddhist Women in Asian Traditions

South Asian Traditions

1. The Female in Buddhism
Elizabeth J. Harris

2. Buddhist Women in India and Precolonial Sri Lanka
Lorna Dewaraja

3. Restoring the Order of Nuns to the Theravadin Tradition
Senarat Wijayasundara

East Asian Traditions

4. The Red Cord Untied: Buddhist Nuns in Eighteenth-Century China
Beata Grant

5. Japanese Buddhist Nuns: Innovators for the Sake of Tradition
Paula K. R. Arai

6. Can Women Achieve Enlightenment? A Critique of Sexual Transformation for Enlightenment
Hae-ju Sunim (Ho-Ryeon Jeon)

The Tibetan Tradition

7. Tibetan Buddhist Women Practitioners, Past and Present: A Garland to Delight Those Wishing Inspiration
Janice D. Willis

8. Pregnancy and Childbirth in Tibetan Culture
Sarah Pinto

9. Change in Consciousness: Women's Religious Identity in Himalayan Buddhist Cultures
Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Part II: Contemporary Buddhist Women

Forging Identity

10. Conception and the Entry of Consciousness: When Does a Life Begin?
Cait Collins

11. East, West, Women, and Self
Anne C. Klein

12. Appropriate Treasure? Reflections on Women, Buddhism, and Cross-Cultural Exchange
Sara Shneiderman

Shaping New Traditions: Unity and Diversity

13. Comparing Buddhist and Christian Women's Experiences
Karma Lekshe Tsomo

14. Aung San Suu Kyi: A Woman of Conscience in Burma
Theja Gunawardhana

15. A Model for Laywomen in Buddhism: The Western Buddhist Order
Dharmacharini Sanghadevi

16. Feminism, Lay Buddhism, and the Future of Buddhism
Rita M. Gross

Karma Lekshe Tsomo


List of Contributors


Illuminates the lives and thought of women in Buddhist cultures, integrating them more fully into the feminist conversation.


Scholars and practitioners from a variety of Buddhist cultures, philosophical traditions, and academic disciplines analyze important dimensions of the new cross-cultural Buddhist women's movement: the status and experiences of women in Buddhist societies, feminist interpretation of Buddhist tenets, and the relationship of women to Buddhist institutions. Buddhist Women Across Cultures documents both women's struggle for religious equality in Asian Buddhist cultures as well as the process of creating Buddhist feminist identity across national and ethnic boundaries as Buddhism gains attention in the West. The book contributes significantly to an understanding of women and religion in both Western and non-Western cultures.

[Contributors include Paula Arai, Cait Collins, Lorna Devaraja, Beata Grant, Rita Gross, Theja Gunawardhana, Elizabeth Harris, Anne Klein, Sarah Pinto, Dharmacharini Sanghadevi, Sara Shneiderman, Haeju Sunim (Ho-Ryeaon Jeon), Senarat Wijayasundara, and Janice D. Willis. ]

Karma Lekshe Tsomo is Instructor of Buddhism at Chaminade University and Degree Fellow at the East-West Center. She has written several books including Sisters in Solitude: Two Traditions of Buddhist Monastic Ethics for Women, also published by SUNY Press, and most recently, Living and Dying in Buddhist Cultures (with David W. Chappell).


"The topics of women and feminist interpretation have become very important in many academic fields in the humanities and social sciences. Buddhist studies is no exception. Indeed, the feminine, women, sexuality, and gender have virtually become a subfield in Buddhist studies. So, the topic of this book is important in its own right but also for what it contributes to other fields. What strikes me as especially valuable about this volume is its relatively synoptic/inclusive nature, thereby giving it a very timely role in the current literature on Buddhism, women, and sexuality. " — Donald K. Swearer, author of The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia

"What I like most about this book is the scope—feminism/Buddhism—in cross- cultural contexts. There is no other book like it. Buddhist Women Across Cultures articulates vital strands of the process which the author so aptly terms the 'feminization of Buddhism. '

"This is the only anthology that really works with these issues from cross-cultural and feminist perspectives. This insight makes the anthology stand out in the rapidly growing area of Buddhism/feminism—perhaps the key book to reconfigure the field at present and for some time to come. " — Jeffner Allen, State University of New York at Binghamton