Thursday, July 14, 2016

80th Birthday Celebration: Ven. Pema Chodron

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of Sakyadhita International's co-founders, Ven. Pema Chodron who was born Diedre Blomfield in 1936 in New York City. She grew up in a Catholic family in New Jersey, earned a master's in education from the University of California, Berkeley and taught elementary school in California and New Mexico. In 1972, after 2 marriages and 2 children, she discovered Tibetan Buddhism. From 1974 until his death in 1987, Ven. Pema studied under Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of the Shambhala school of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. In 1981, at the age of 45, Ven. Pema became the first American in the vajrayana tradition to become a fully ordained Bhikshuni. 

We invite you to celebrate Ven. Pema's 80th birthday with an article that first appeared in Shambhala Sun (Sept '98), republished here with the gracious permission of Lion's Roar.

Ven. Pema Chodron, a co-founder of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women,  at the 1st Sakyadhita International Conference held on Bodhgaya, India in 1987.
Ven. Pema Chodron, a co-founder of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women,
at the 1st Sakyadhita International Conference held on Bodhgaya, India in 1987.
Pictured top row, 2nd from right.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Announcement: Sakyadhita E-Book Now Available

The Compassion and Social Justice E-Book is now available online as both a PDF and a Bookmarked PDF. Please visit our Sakyadhita Publications Page to view our E-Publications, as well as available print publications and conference materials.

Additionally, Buddhist Women in A Global Multicultural Community is also available as an e-book.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Settle Into The Bliss: An interview with Shaila Catherine

by Vlad Moskovski

Photo courtesy of Freepik.com.

Shaila begins to speak. Her voice, like her personality, fits her well. It is like a warm whisper that washes over the gathered crowd at this public talk. I am moved by her peaceful and calm demeanor and awed by her experience in meditation and the clarity with which she is able to describe the most subtle of concepts. Shaila has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience and has studied with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand. She has taught since 1996 in the USA and internationally, and is the founder/lead teacher at Insight Meditation South Bay.

Monday, June 6, 2016

In Memory of Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016)

Zenkei Blanche Hartman from Boundless Life: A Chronicle Dedicated to Zenkei Blanche Hartman

Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016) was a Soto Zen teacher practicing in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. From 1996 to 2002 she served two terms as co-abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center. She was the first woman to assume such a leadership position at the center. A member of the American Zen Teachers Association, Blanche was especially known for her expertise in the ancient ritual of sewing a kesa, called Nyoho-e, the practice of sewing Zen ceremonial robes in the lineage of Sawaki Kodo Roshi, which she had learned during the 1970s from Kasai Joshin Sensei, formerly of Antaiji. She taught this unique form of Zen practice to hundreds of students at the San Francisco Zen Center, and played an important role in establishing the practice in North America.

Lou and Blanche Wed from Boundless Life:
A Chronicle Dedicated to Zenkei Blanche Hartman
Born in Birmingham, Alabama to non-practicing Jewish parents in 1926. Blanche was educated in the Catholic school system in the early 1930s, but in 1943 her family moved to California, where her father served in the military. After taking up biochemistry and chemistry at the University of California she married Lou Hartman in 1947, giving birth to four children. In the late 1950s she found work as a chemist, though by 1968 she began questioning the direction of her life. She and her husband began sitting zazen regularly at the Berkeley Zen Center in Berkeley, California in 1969, and in 1972 the two entered Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. The couple lived at all of the other San Francisco Zen Center sites, including City Center and Green Gulch Farm. Shuun Lou Hartman passed away in 2011.

Friday, May 20, 2016

On Vesak: Venerable Patacara

Author Anonymous

Vesak Day honors the birth, Enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.

It is very useful to regularly reflect on how the things we do affect our minds. When you have done something well, how do you feel about it? There is a feeling of satisfaction and happiness. In turn, this feeling of happiness supports your daily practice, as well as a cause for a successful meditation practice. When we know what habits support the generation of good states of mind we are inclined to develop those habits.

Again and again, looking at the mind, we can see that the actions, tendencies, and habits are very important. The actions and habits we cultivate in the mind are all important factors contributing to the success of our meditation.

Illustration from thebitterstickgirl.sg
Today being the day we commemorate the birth of the Buddha (Vesak), I want to recount a story that will remind us of the qualities that the Buddha possessed. 

This is the story of Patacara, a very important female disciple of the Buddha. In fact, she became the chief disciple of the Buddha with the role of taking care of the training of the monastic rules (vinaya) for female disciples, i.e. the bhikkhuni sangha. According to the story, once she realised all that had to be realised, she became the vinaya expert. Over time Patacara had a huge following of female disciples and students, all of whom also bore the name of Patacara.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Nuns at Yarchen Gar Monastery in Sichuan Province Defy Poverty in Pursuit of Learning

Craig Lewis

 Yarchen Gar Monastery in Gandze Prefecture, Sichuan Province. From smh.com.au

Situated high on the Tibetan Plateau, Yarchen Gar Monastery nestles at an elevation of more than 13,000 feet in a remote valley of the Hengduan mountain range in China‘s southwestern Sichuan Province. With a monastic population numbering about 10,000—most of them nuns—Yarchen Gar is widely considered to be the world’s largest monastery.

Monday, April 18, 2016

15th Sakyadhita International Conference: Call for Papers

The 2017 Sakyadhita International Conference theme, “Contemporary Buddhist Women: Contemplation, Cultural Exchange & Social Action,” highlights the diversity of contemporary Buddhist women throughout the world.

Buddhism is a significant cultural force in our world, influencing virtually every sphere of human activity from business to popular music. This global spread of Buddhist ethics, iconography, meditation, and philosophy is having an impact on science, psychology, government, and the arts. Today, women have more pathways to self-enrichment than at any time in recorded history. Whether the choice is career, family, or monastery, women are expanding beyond traditional roles in creative and beneficial ways. Women also take different paths and approaches to spirituality. Depending on their cultural backgrounds and personal interests, they may be inclined to meditation, scholarship, social activism, or the arts. The 2017 conference theme is broad enough to encompass the many aspects of what Buddhism means to women and to embrace the range of Buddhist women's experiences.