Monday, December 30, 2013

A Buddhist Pilgrimage and “the Way of Saint James”

Diane Wilde

Photo courtesy of St. Joseph Catholic Church and School

The El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of Saint James of the Field of Stars) was unknown to me until about one year ago. I had not heard of it, had no interest in it when I did hear about it, and wondered why someone attempting to live the path according to the Buddha’s teachings would even consider walking this traditional Catholic pilgrimage. When I was invited to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of Bay Area friend Gail Seneca by hiking the El Camino (the Way) along with twenty-three others, my first reaction was “no way!” The no way was based on my misguided sense that I should concentrate my free time traveling in Buddhist countries and engaging in Buddhist-type pilgrimages. However, the idea of hiking eight to fourteen miles a day in northern Spain was appealing. I assured myself this was only due to my own love of roaming―and certainly not desire for a pilgrimage! After all, according to Webster’s Dictionary, the first definition of a pilgrimage is defined as: “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion, a pilgrimage to Lourdes for example.” How errant and shortsighted my view turned out to be.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jewels of the Sunset: Bhikkhunis Awaken in San Francisco

Mary King

Ayya Santacitta with Jill Boone, then-president of Saranaloka Foundation

I often marvel at how life is full of surprises—at how our spiritual paths have many an unexpected twist and turn.

Certainly, when my heart is open to the road of life it can turn out to be a really wondrous journey. Even the most difficult roads can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. And, I'm sure that the nuns at Aloka Vihara in San Francisco would agree with me.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Privilege and Prajna

Lori Pierce

Photo: Bellah via Compfight cc
It is famously said that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. Churches and religious spaces are stubbornly resistant to integration. In some ways it makes sense; religious communities are supposed to be intimate. They mirror the relationship we want with the divine when we sit closely together, like a family, sharing a meal, confessing our shortcomings, being asked to feel our most authentic self in a room full of strangers. You don’t want to go to a church, temple, or mosque and feel uncomfortable. You want to be there, alone together, with people who are in superficial and profound ways just like you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Where Does the Buddha Live Now?

Paula Arai

Kito Sensei

Remnants of injustices of the slave trade were seething and erupted onto the streets of Detroit in the summer of 1967. I was only six when I saw black plumes of smoke billow ominously over the city where I was born to an Anglo-American father and an especially dark-skinned Japanese mother. I was not aware of any Buddhas living around there. We had, however, been blessed the following year by the presence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who addressed an overflowing throng at our gothic-style Methodist church. Just as its spire towered in the center of downtown Detroit, this church stood out against injustice. Holding my mom’s hand that day, I felt her excitement as I peered over the balcony to see every inch of every pew filled with people I did not recognize. I sensed that something momentous was happening. My mother walked with a proud gait I had not seen before. Hope laced with tension filled the air. I do not remember King’s words that morning, but even now excerpts of his “I Have a Dream” speech evoke a visceral memory of what it felt like to have his sonorous voice reverberate in my heart. If I had been able to see as I do now, I would have recognized him as a Buddha, one who devotes his life to alleviating suffering through non-violent protest and acts of justice.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Involving Men and Media in Buddhist Women's Causes

by Raymond Lam

Bhikkhuni ordination in 2011 received strong support
from bhikkhus and laymen (photo: khemarama.com)
As I begin this contribution for a women’s blog, I have to first acknowledge my background and privilege. I am constructed as a man and all men in a patriarchal society possess male privilege. Initially, I thought a publication tailored for women’s experiences didn’t need yet another man’s intrusion. Yet maleness need not be a disqualification. Men have an essential role in the Buddhist women’s movement and they can bring tangible benefits. When I began editing Buddhistdoor International, I allied the publication with Sakyadhita to learn more about Buddhist women’s progress and struggles on the ground. Over half of Buddhistdoor’s columns and opinion now belong to female voices, lay and monastic. The gender imbalance is intentional. Furthermore, in less than a year this blog has become one of the best resources for reading the stories of Buddhist women.