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.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Sweetest Daughters of the Buddha

by Dita Sudarmawan 

Indonesian Volunteers with Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo at the 14th Sakyadhita International
Conference held inYogakarta, Indonesia during the summer of 2015.

Imagine that you are a young woman with a very limited view of yourself and your future. And then one day, you learn that an organization is having their international gathering in your hometown. They put a call out for volunteers, and you find yourself saying “yes” to their request for assistance. And that “yes” leads to a chance encounter that alters your view of the world and what you choose to do with your life.

Hardita “Dita” Libriasanti Sudarmawan was 23 years old when she agreed to volunteer at the 14th Sakyadhita International Conference held just outside of her hometown, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in June 2015 where she lives with her mother and brother. As the conference planning evolved, she found herself leading a culturally diverse group of dedicated volunteers in an uncharted adventure. Together, they created fond memories for all!

This is her story.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Curiosity and Doubt: The Spiritual Career of Judith Simmer-Brown

By Caitlin Dwyer
Teaching on the Dakini in Tibetan Buddhism at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat.
Watch teaching on YouTube.

Small-town Nebraska is about as far from India as a person can get, but for Buddhist scholar and acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, who grew up there, that faraway place always had a particular draw. Located in the Midwest of the United States, Nebraska has wide swaths of flat farmland sliced by paths for pickup trucks, wind plucking through the fields of corn.

“As a child, I had tremendous religious and spiritual curiosity,” recalls Simmer-Brown, the daughter of a Methodist minister. “I asked a lot of people, I read biographies . . . I started a methodical prayer practice. I feel like I had some kind of past-life affinity for meditation.”

That curiosity has carried Simmer-Brown through a lifetime of religious study—leading her to India, where she was first exposed to meditation, to an early devotion to Zen, to a doctorate in Buddhism, and eventually, to a position as an acharya, or senior Dharma teacher, in the Shambhala lineage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and to a teaching role at Naropa University in Colorado. Curious and questioning, her spiritual intellect has driven her to embody a unique position bridging the divide between the practice of Dharma and the analytical study of religion.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Announcement: 2016 Numata Center for Buddhist Studies E-Learning Course

Photo: Anandajoti Bhikkhu

The University of Nuremburg's Numata Center for Buddhist Studies in cooperation with Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts offers an e-learning course on the topic of Asian Buddhist Women. The course consists of a series of lectures by a group of international scholars who will present their research on the situation of women during various periods in the history of Asian Buddhism, based on textual studies and archaeological evidence. Participation is free of charge but requires online registration. The registration period will be from the 15th of February until the end of March.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Gyalwang Karmapa Teaches on Bodhichitta &
Discusses Bhikshuni Ordination Plans

His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa during the Third Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering.

January 15, 2016 -Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar India 

During the second day of the Third Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his teaching on Gampopa’s Ornament of Precious Liberation, describing the causes for arousing bodhichitta. He also discussed the issue of the nun’s ordination, indicating that although he had hoped to initiate the process of giving Bhikshuni ordination this year, it had to be postponed for a variety of reasons.

The teaching today was focused on the four causes of arousing bodhichitta presented in the Levels of the Bodhisattva by Asanga. The first cause of arousing bodhichitta is seeing or hearing of the powers of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The Karmapa explained that for this reason, studying the life stories of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the past is important.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Earning a Degree: Tibetan Nuns Break Through Barriers

Rio Helmi

Délek Dölma left her home in Kham in Tibet's eastern regions at the age of 20. Ordained but illiterate, she yearned to study Buddhism in a more profound way. Délek Wangmo was 16, also ordained, could barely read but was equally determined to deepen her knowledge and understanding of Buddhism. In traditional Tibetan society, when it comes to opportunity to study, nuns are at the bottom end of the priority list. Painfully aware of the fact that in Tibet they hardly stood a chance of studying, much less achieving a scholastic degree, they resolved to escape to India to pursue their dream within the Tibetan community in exile.

They also resolved to generate the "merit" -- which in Buddhist terms refers to the expansive power of the mind generated by virtuous acts -- for this bold undertaking in a uniquely Tibetan way. They journeyed from Lithang to Lhasa by doing full-length prostrations the whole way. To get an idea of what that entails: with your mind focused on the Buddha first you do a full-length prostration flat on the ground, with arms out, then stand up, and then move to the mark where the tips of your fingers touched the ground. And then you start again. Repeat for as many times as it takes to cover 1,475 kilometers. It took them a year and a half.

A philosophy class at Dolma Ling nunnery, via Rio Helmi
It would seem the merit they generated helped: once in India they were soon taken under the wing of the Tibetan Nun's Project created by the Tibetan Women's Association to provide education for nuns. By 1993 they were both were inscribed in a long-term study program, the first of its kind. In 2005 the Dolma Ling nunnery, spearheaded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama's sister-in-law Rinchen Khando, opened its doors. To date over 200 nuns have joined the two in this nunnery.