Opening the Lotus: A Woman's Guide to Buddhism

Overview

Part primer, part personal history, part guide to spiritual practice, this book opens the door to an understanding of Buddhist spirituality, which engages more and more Westerners as the millennium approaches. Through personal anecdotes, lively explanations, and thoughtful discussions, Sandy Boucher presents a female perspective on fundamental Buddhist teachings such as compassion, detachment, and enlightenment.

Includes a directory of women ...

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Overview

Part primer, part personal history, part guide to spiritual practice, this book opens the door to an understanding of Buddhist spirituality, which engages more and more Westerners as the millennium approaches. Through personal anecdotes, lively explanations, and thoughtful discussions, Sandy Boucher presents a female perspective on fundamental Buddhist teachings such as compassion, detachment, and enlightenment.

Includes a directory of women teachers in the United States, Canada, and abroad.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Here is a trustworthy traveling companion for the countless Western women who desire, and deserve, to venture on the Dharma path.—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

"I found Opening the Lotus illuminating in its clarity, depth, and patient guidance and could see it appreciated in numerous settings, from meditation centers to college classrooms." —Ellyn Kaschak, professor of psychology, San Jose State University, author of Engendered Lives

"An energetic and useful recasting of Buddhism's beliefs for contemporary women."
-Publishers Weekly

"Opening the Lotus is a triumph of clarity and feminine wisdom."—Frederic A. Brussat, Body Mind Spirit

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For American women who wish to understand both the basics of Buddhism and its teachings and attitudes toward women, Boucher, a practitioner of Theravada Buddhism since 1980, offers a simple and enthusiastic primer. She first introduces readers to essential Buddhist concepts like mindfulness, the Five Precepts don't kill, don't steal, don't lie, avoid sexual misconduct, shun intoxicants and the differences among the three major Buddhist traditions Theravada, Mahayana and Vajraya. She nicely answers the question, "What can I expect in a meditation hall?" by describing typical scenes at each Buddhist branch, from a Vipassana hall in northern California to a Southeast Asian Temple. She then tackles issues that specifically concern women, including an exploration of the kinds of Buddhism most open to women priests and teachers Zen and Vipassana and vivid descriptions of two great women bodhisattvas, the Chinese Kwan Yin and the Tibetan Tara, both of whom have been spiritual role models to women for centuries. Finally, she explores major Buddhist teachings from a woman's perspective, emphasizing the differences between the West's understanding of compassion and selflessness as stereotypically female traits and the quite broader meanings that these ideas enjoy in Buddhism's spiritual landscape. A directory of American women teachers rounds out this energetic and useful recasting of Buddhism's beliefs for contemporary women. May
Library Journal
While the juxtaposition of feminism and Buddhism might seem peculiar, this book is delightfully free of cant. The author offers examples of her experiences as a lesbian spiritual seeker who at the age of 60 has arrived at a good balance of goals. Since nearly all religions suffer from patriarchal bias, Boucher's search has not been easy, and any reader can relate to it. Because of her maturity and sincerity, the usual feminist outrage has faded into Buddhist calm detachment and Boucher's determined focus on her practice. Boucher offers mediation techniques, with attention to such goddesses as Kwan Yin and Tara to coincide with timeless Buddhist principles. There is a helpful annotated and international directory of women's Buddhist centers and teachers, as well as a brief bibliography. Recommended for all libraries.Jeanne S. Bagby, formerly Tucson P.L., Ariz.
Sandra Bell
Boucher has an audience in mind....American, female, and inquisitive about Buddhism....One thing seems fairly certain and that is the arrival of a full post bag of letters from women for whom this book will have proved a first step towards becoming Buddhist, and who will want to express thanks to the author for her good sense and practical wisdom.
Journal of Buddhist Ethics
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807073094
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandy Boucher is a writer, editor, and longtime Buddhist practitioner. Her book Turning the Wheel: American Women Creating the New Buddhism is also published by Beacon Press. She lives in Oakland, California.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
I The Heart of the Matter: Buddhist Basics 1
What Is Buddhism? 7
Taking Refuge 10
A Way of Life 15
The Precepts 17
Mindfulness 24
Compassion 26
What Can I Expect in a Buddhist Meditation Hall? 28
Doing a Buddhist Practice 32
A Practice to Begin With 36
II The Dance of Gender 41
Women Teachers 42
Who Is Welcome? 44
Do Women Do It Differently? 47
How Have Feminists Affected American Buddhism? 50
Can Women Be Buddhist Leaders? 52
Are There Goddesses in Buddhism? 54
A Practice to Begin With 66
III Ancient Beginnings 71
How the Nuns' Order Was Founded 72
Who Were the Women of Early Buddhism? 74
How did Buddhism Develop So Many Different Styles? 87
How Have Women Fared in Buddhist History? 91
Could Women Become Bodhisattvas and Buddhas? 94
How Are Women Viewed in Present-Day Buddhism? 97
A Practice to Begin With 100
IV The Teachings from a Woman's Perspective 104
Suffering as a Beginning 107
Do I Have to Let Go of My "Self"? 109
How Does Buddhism Relate to Bodies? 114
What about Sex? 119
What Place Do Emotions Have? 120
What Is the Meaning of Detachment? 123
How Can I Understand Enlightenment? 124
Is Compassion a Trap for Women? 126
A Practice to Begin With 131
V A Woman on the Path 136
My Own Trajectory 136
Final Practice 151
Resources 155
Directory of Women Teachers 155
Publications with Retreat Schedules, and Buddhist Centers Offering Retreats by Women 179
Books and Articles for Further Reading 181
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