Meeting the Great Bliss Queen: Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self

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Overview

Despite the daunting barriers of geography and language that separate them, Buddhism and contemporary feminism have much to say to each other. Buddhist practices such as mindfulness (in which calm centering and keen awareness of change coexist) and compassion (in which the self is recognized as both powerful in itself and interdependently connected with all others) can be important resources for contemporary women, while feminism can expand the traditional horizons of Buddhist concerns to include social, historical, and psychological issues. The image and ritual of the Great Bliss Queen, an important Buddhist figure of enlightenment, form the unifying theme of the book modeling the practices and theory that can assist each of us in being at one with ourselves and fully engaged with others.
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Editorial Reviews

Tibet Journal
Tibet Journal Anne Carolyn Klein lays bare the interface between Buddhism and the feminist world view with deep grasp of both. This is a lucid and scholarly explanation of the western feminist stand point placed in matrix of the Buddhist thought process.
From the Publisher
"At the same time there is an element of personal reflection in Klein's work that makes the book immediately approachable and that contextualizes the scholarly material in a way that is rare in contemporary writing in the field of Buddhist studies. A work of great erudition and sensitivity. A must-read for anyone interested in the dialogue between Buddhism and feminism."—José Ignacio Cabezón, Iliff School of Theology

"An astute and absorbing exploration of the interface between Buddhism and Feminist perspectives."—Tsultrim Allione, founder of Tara Mandala and author of Women of Wisdom

"A groundbreaking and important book. Klein is one of the few scholars in the Buddhist studies field who has devoted serious attention to the literature of Western feminism; likewise her long experience in the field of Tibetan Buddhist study and practice provides her with the solid grounding necessary to speak for that tradition. The bringing together of these totally dissimilar worlds holds great promise for adding new insights to contemporary discussions of the nature of the self; indeed it is difficult to imagine that the kind of conversation Klein proposes will not end by profoundly transforming the participants on both sides."—Jan Nattier, Indiana University

"This book is a breakthrough in feminist cross-cultural reflection on self and subjectivity. An eminent scholar of Tibetan Buddhist studies has distilled twenty-five years of her rich research and personal experience in this compelling study. She succeeds in showing the current relevance of Buddhism to Western feminists without minimizing any of its challenge to certain notions about selfhood. The conversation constructed around the Great Bliss Queen is artful, elegant, and of importance to anyone interested in feminist theory Buddhist religious philosophy in America and different meanings of the self."—Nancy K. Frankenberry, Dartmouth College

"Through the symbol of the Great Bliss Queen, a mythical figure of Tibetan Buddhism, she explores the problems of a cross-cultural dialogue between women. Klein's well-wrought work challenges traditional understandings of Buddhist textual and interpretive traditions as well as a number of feminist assumptions. The book will be welcomed by those of us who examine gender issues in the classroom as well as in our own work. Meeting the Great Bliss Queen moves the debate forward and opens it to new participants."—Bernard Faure, Stanford University

"Anne Carolyn Klein lays bare the interface between Buddhism and the feminist world view with deep grasp of both. This is a lucid and scholarly explanation of the western feminist standpoint placed in matrix of the Buddhist thought process."—Tibet Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite their formidable differences, Buddhism and feminism share common ground, according to Klein, who has studied with refugee Tibetan lamas in India, Nepal and the U.S. and is an associate professor of religious studies at Rice University. In this erudite tome, she suggests that the open boundary between self and cosmos in Tibetan Buddhism can offer inspiration to Western women seeking to redefine interdependent selfhood in a male-centered world dominated by individualism. Klein describes Buddhist meditation techniques for cultivating compassion, then links these practices to feminists' quests to overcome dualisms (active/passive, reason/emotion) that tend to marginalize women in the West. Eighth-century Tibetan queen Teshel Tsogyel encouraged the spread of Buddhism and is identified today with the largely mystical Great Bliss Queen of wisdom and compassion. Klein sifts the literature on the blissful red queen for her relevance to women seeking connectedness, self-empowerment and active engagement with the world. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The paradox of identity-self with others-is examined by a Buddhist feminist and author who has studied under Tibetan lamas. After joining a women's studies program at Harvard Divinity School in 1982, Klein hoped to reshape dialog between the essentialist and postmodern feminists by encouraging selected Buddhist practices. Mindfulness, for instance, can foster a sense of uniqueness in women's caretaking roles. Visualizing Tibetan Queen Yeshey Tsogyel (eighth century) for meditation, women can be empowered by the "unconditioned self" to surpass personhood and transcend linguistic constraints. Recognizing that some feminists, especially postmodern constructivists, will find an "ungendered essence" distasteful, Klein uses Yeshey Tsogyel, the Great Bliss Queen, as an emblem of the clear mind sphere, beyond dualities and available to all. Rather difficult reading, this treatise is recommended for academic libraries.-Dara Eklund, Los Angeles P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559392914
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,008,943
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne C. Klein is professor and chair of Religious Studies at Rice University. She is also a founding director and resident teacher of Dawn Mountain, a center for contemplative study and practice in Houston. Her publications include Path to the Middle (SUNY Press), Unbounded Wholeness, coauthored with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (Oxford University Press), and Knowledge and Liberation (Snow Lion Publications).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
I Terms of the Discussion
1 Introduction: Opening the Conversation and Meeting the Great Bliss Queen 3
2 Persons: Then and Now, Here and There 25
II Practice and Theory
3 Mindfulness and Subjectivity 61
4 Gain or Drain? Compassion and the Self-Other Boundary 89
5 Self: One Exists, the Other Doesn't 123
III Women and the Great Bliss Queen
6 Nondualism and the Great Bliss Queen 149
7 Becoming the Great Bliss Queen: Her Ritual 170
8 Inconclusion 195
Notes 207
Glossary 277
Bibliography 283
Index 303
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