Monday, August 18, 2008

Buddhism Post-Patriarchy

Buddhism after Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism
(Rita M. Gross, SUNY Press, 1993, 368 pages)

This book draws upon two major bodies of knowledge -- feminism as academic method and social vision and Buddhism.

The author's stated task is a feminist "revalorization." This involves working with the categories and concepts of a traditional religion in light of feminist values.

Doing so reveals massive undercurrents of sexism and prejudice, especially in practice, and contains an implicit judgment. To revalorize is to have determined that, however sexist, it is not irreparably so. Revalorizing is the work of repairing a tradition, often bringing it much more into line with its own fundamental values and vision than was its patriarchal form.


Acknowledgments ix
I. Orientations
1: Strategies for a Feminist Revalorization of Buddhism 3
2: Orientations to Buddhism: Approaches, Basics, and Contours 7
II. Toward an Accurate and Usable Past: A Feminist Sketch of Buddhist History
3: Why Bother? What Is an Accurate and Usable Past Good For? 17
4: Sakyadhita, Daughters of the Buddha: Roles and Images of Women in Early Indian Buddhism 29
5: Do Innate Female Traits and Characteristics Exist? Roles and Images of Women in Indian Mahayana Buddhism 55
6: The Feminine Principle: Roles and Images of Women in Indian and Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism 79
7: Conclusions: Heroines and Tokens 115
III. "The Dharma is Neither Male nor Female": A Feminist Analysis of Key Concepts in Buddhism
8: Resources for a Buddhist Feminism 125
9: Setting the Stage: Presuppositions of the Buddhist Worldview 137
10: Strategies for a Feminist Analysis of Key Buddhist Concepts 153
11: Gender and Egolessness: Feminist Comments on Basic Buddhist Teachings 157
12: Gender and Emptiness: Feminist Comments on Mahayana Teachings 173
13: Gender and Buddha-Nature: Feminist Comments on Third Turning Teachings and the Vajrayana 185
IV: The Dharnia is Both Female and Male: Toward an Androgynous Reconstruction of Buddhism 14: Verdicts and Judgments: Looking Backward; Looking Forward 209
15: Androgynous Institutions: Issues for Lay, Monastic and Yogic Practitioners 225
16: Androgynous View: New Concerns in Verbalizing the Dhanna 257
1 : "I Go for Refuge to the Sangha": Relationship and Enlightenment 258
2: Sacred Outlook and Everyday Life 269
3: Spiritual Discipline: Vision and Transcendence in Remaking the World 280
Methodological Appendices
A. Here I Stand: Feminism as Academic Method and as Social Vision 291
B. Religious Experience and the Study of Religion: The History of Religions 305
Notes 319
Bibliography 339

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