Sunday, November 20, 2016

15th Sakyadhita International Conference Workshop: Rotraut Jampa Wurst on Sakyadhita Herstory, LGBTQQI, Buddhist Women and Science Fiction, and Dharma Rap

Rotraut Jampa Wurst leading the Dharma Rap Workshop at the 14th Sakyadhita International
held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2015. Photo by Olivier Adam.

The 15th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women

What an auspicious conference we will celebrate in Hong Kong in 2017! You know, it's Sakyadhita's  30th Anniversary!!! Unbelievable, isn´t it? Thank you to Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo, who keeps this wonderful project going over so many years, as founder, former Sakyadhita International President, and also as the one who is taking care for all the Sakyadhita branches around the world.

We all, my Sakyadhita sisters, we have to meet on this very, very special Sakyadhita conference, and we have to share Sakyadhita's herstory.

Therefore I had an idea... I asked my Sakyadhita brother, Phan Tuấn Quốc, from Vietnam, who was one of the volunteers at the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women in Ho Chich Minh City, Vietnam if he would like to prepare a workshop with me on this amazing herstory. And hey! He said “Yes!” So cool :) And then also former Sakyadhita International President Ranjani de Silva, who too, happened to be a co-founder of Sakyadhita agreed to contribute her experience. Now, we are preparing a workshop, called;

Sakyadhita´s Herstory, a Puppet Theatre

Rotraut Jampa Wurst at the Tibetan Centre in Hamburg, Germany during a visit from Ven. Jetsunma tenzin Palmo.

The idea of this workshop is to tell the story of the 30 year Sakyadhita herstory (1987–2017) through puppet theatre, using rhymes, various musical genres, mantras, rap, and folksongs. Reciting this herstory will commemorate Sakyadhita’s thirtieth anniversary of giving Buddhist women a voice. The workshop will engage young people by letting them tell their stories based on a common understanding of Buddhism.

Participants will discover the power of puppetry arts as a popular tool to share ideas for sustainable development. They will learn how to make puppets using basic materials such as paper, markers, and cartons. We will have the collaboration of puppetry experts and young puppeteers from Mekong Youth Puppetry Group, a network of colleagues based in Mekong region, to share their experience of our common Buddhism heritage. Together, we will bring new inspiration to the Sakyadhita International Conference for Buddhist Women. 

And, as a tradition I will hold a workshop, called


When the word “lesbian” was mentioned in a talk for the first time at the 10th Sakyadhita Conference in Ulaan Batar, Mongolia (2008), I thought, “wow”; it’s good that this is mentioned. There are different people in the world. And there are different Buddhists on the world. Great! Let’s talk! But the path was somehow much more difficult than I expected. After several Sakyadhita workshops from 2010 onwards, I thought it would be much easier to talk about LGBTQQI issues in Germany, where I come from, and to show that people can confront prejudice, whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, or intersexual. But I was mistaken. The situation in Germany was not easier. Often women, especially Buddhist women, are not willing to talk openly about what they think, how they live, what they know about Buddhism and diversity, and similar issues, even if they are living in a diverse partnership.

At the last Sakyadhita conference, in Indonesia (2015), we were fortunate to have two different LGBTQQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, or intersexual) workshops and a panel on Diversity and Multiculturalism. It is clear that there is a strong need to discuss the topic, to get people together, and to share ideas and experiences of Buddhism and diverse lifestyles. At this workshop, we will continue the conversation. I am looking forward to seeing those of you who have attended the previous workshops, and you, those newly interested in this workshop! Oh, by the way, you don´t have to be scared: We don´t bite :D

Another idea came up after the last Sakyadhita Conference in Indonesia, the 14th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women. On this conference me and Dr. Hsiao-Lan Hu had done a workshop, called Nerdvana: The final Frontier, a very nerdy Buddhist workshop. Much fun. This time I have again asked Dr. Hsiao-Lan Hu to help co-lead a workshop, and also Diana Ingalls-Farrell to do the following workshop on this topic, called

Find Your Path: Buddhist Women and Science Fiction

Rotraut Jampa Wurst at the 14th Sakyadhita International Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Imagine you are a woman. You are a woman? Oh, congratulations because you are who we are looking for! No matter in which place, dimension, galaxy, or universe you live, being a woman means you have got a problem or being a woman may be seen as a problem. In society, women are not considered as important as men, are not paid equally at work, and do not have the same chances professionally. In Buddhist communities, women need to navigate through layers of hierarchy that block their access to Buddhist education and ordination, and female monastics are still not as well accepted as male monastics. Whether monastic or lay, many texts tell women that the female body presents an obstacle on the path to enlightenment; in fact, they say that women are a problem for men on their path to enlightenment.

In “nerd” circles, that is, among intelligent people with a keen interest in academic, technical, technological and scientific subjects, being a woman is also a problem. Just as in the Buddhist traditions, these circles mostly cater to men. In science fiction, for example, meaningful characters are overwhelmingly male, just as the enlightened figures in Buddhist traditions are overwhelmingly male. When female characters are found, they are either trivial and/or sexualized, defined by their relations to male characters. Both Buddhism and science fiction point to the possibility of being free from business-as-usual thinking, and Buddhists and nerds both walk unconventional paths. Yet that path is often marked as male. Female Buddhists and female nerds are easily left with the feeling that there is no path for them, just like career women in “boys’ clubs” often feel there is no way to break the glass ceiling.

The good news is that things are changing, even though very slowly. Since the 1980s, there have been books on Buddhist women and female masters, deities, bodhisattvas, and Buddhas. In science fiction, meaningful female characters have also emerged. Now it seems there is a path for women, but one still needs to look for it, and look hard. This workshop invites participants to find the path through creating skits based on Buddhist women’s experience and science fiction characters. It is a difficult task, but the joy of accomplishing a difficult task is tremendous, and we will enjoy camaraderie along the way, as we explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no [wo]man has gone before.”

So, join in and find your path :)

You might be wondering, is there one more workshop? You are right!

Here it is :)

Dharma Rap 

Rotraut Jampa Wurst and workshop participants performing Dharma Rap at the
10th Sakyadhita International Conference
held in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

Since the 8th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women in Mongolia, rap has been part of the Sakyadhita gatherings. This contemporary musical form, the rhythmic intoning of texts, is a way to impart Dharma in a practical way that may help link the generations. Those of us who have been members of Sakyadhita International for many years are getting older. Rap holds the potential to open up the conferences to the next generation in an appealing way and help transmit the Dharma to future generations. Rap is a creative way to motivate people to come together, share ideas about Buddhism, talk about these ideas, and come up with new raps. It is an easy way to put Buddhist ideas into sentences that can be remembered like mantras. Rap is a rhythm that motivates young people, a musical form that they are familiar with. It is also a fun and easy way for those of us who are older to share the experience of learning Dharma with young people.

Rotraut Jamp Wurst and workshop participants
performing Dharma Rap at the
13th Sakyadhita International Conference
held in Vaishali, Indiana in 2013.
This workshop will be an opportunity for participants from many traditions to get together and create international Buddhist rap that can be performed and shared with others. We will not only perform rap at this workshop. At the last conference in Indonesia, we also began writing and drawing graffiti, and we began to dance or move, with a little bit hip hop. These three pillars of Dharma rap are new ways to convey Buddhist texts and ideas: through rap, images or graffiti, and dance moves or hip hop.

Looking forward to rapping with you, doing hip hop, drawing graffiti and having much fun together :)

Visit my website for more information, photos, and links to videos on Youtube.

Sakyadhita Germany

Sakyadhita Germany was founded in 2013. Would you like to get more info or you like to join Sakyadhita? Great! Send me an email or visit our website. Post a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. We are waiting for you :)

Dr. Rotraut Jampa Wurst,
AKA, DJ Jampa Sausage, the Dharma Rapper

Rotraut Jampa Wurst and Ven. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo at the Tibetan Centre in Hamburg

Rotraut Jampa Wurst has been a member of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women since 1988. She studied Protestant Theology and Comparative Studies in Religion at the Freie Universität in Berlin and receiving a Ph.D. in 1999. Wurst's dissertation research was on Tibetan Buddhist nuns and the Sakyadhita network, published as Identität im Exil in 2001. She also took exams in the seven-year systematic Buddhist studies program at the Tibetan Centre in Hamburg in 1998, under the guidance of Geshe Thubten Ngawang. Since 2001 she has worked with young people and disabled adults, offering courses in stress relaxation and meditation. Her focus is especially on motivating people who have a high IQ but problems in school. Wurst is a lifetime member of Sakyadhita and has attended ten international conferences, giving talks and workshops, especially on Dharma rap, of which she is the creator. In 2013, she founded the Sakyadhita Germany branch, which has organized many meetings with Sakyadhita International leaders.

Contact information:

Dr. Rotraut Jampa Wurst
Sakyadhita Germany
Stralsunder Weg 22 D-24161
ph. +49(0)431-328208
jampawurst@t-online.de | hilfe@drwurst.de
http://www.drwurst.de | https://www.facebook.com/Sakyadhita.Germany | http://sakyadhita-germany.blogspot.de/

Dharma Rap

Rotraut Jampa Wurst at the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

DJ Jampa Sausage created Dharma rap, a form of conscious rap or education rap, how she calls her raps, for the 10th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, in 2008. There she did a rap about her work engaging or motivating the younger generation, before her talk, so that the audience became engaged in listening to that topic.

Dharma rap is about Buddhist ethics. It is also about sharing all of our knowledge on Buddhism.

After her first rap at this awesome conference, she was asked by Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo to hold a workshop on "Buddhism and Popculture," to which 13 participants of different countries, cultures, traditions and generations then performed a rap together, educated by DJ Jampa Sausage, or Jampa the Rapper, as she is known among Sakyadhita sisters. The Dharma rap was a text on the topic "From Dharma to Nirvana," a text, that was originally in Newari, a Tibeto-Burmese language, translated and recited by Theravada nuns, who attended the workshop. They performed the baseline by reciting the text, while others raped in English. It was a great success, and since then Dharma rap has spread throughout Buddhist countries and become a tradition at the Sakyadhita conferences.

Learn More About the 15th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women

The theme for the 2017 conference to be held at The University of Hong Kong is “Contemporary Buddhist Women: Contemplation, Cultural Exchange & Social Action.” This theme highlights the diversity of contemporary Buddhist women throughout the world.

For more information on the conference please visit the Sakyadhita International website and download a brochure.

No comments:

Post a Comment