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Bringing Forth Buddhism’s Invisible Women


February 3, 2014
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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A lecture by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon. Part of a lecture series on  Sexuality, Gender, and Religion. Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies and co-sponsored by the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Free and open to the public. For more information about the series, please contact Prof. Linda Hess. Stanford students can register for the entire series as a 2-unit course: RELIGST 24 / FEMGEN 24.

As in many world religions, the teachings of women in Buddhism have been largely hidden. But there are traces of women’s lives and practice throughout the history of Buddhism, often buried in larger texts or collections of male voices and teachings.  Zen Buddhist teachers and writers Florence Caplow and Susan Moon have collected 100 short teaching stories and koans featuring women, drawn from texts originating in India, Vietnam, China, Korea, Japan, and the West. In traditional Zen koan collections, the teachers, students, and commentators are all male.  These stories of awakened women are presented with commentaries by contemporary women Buddhist teachers from all major Buddhist traditions. The speakers will explore questions of gender, sexuality, embodiment and awakening that arise in the stories. During much of Buddhist history, it was believed (and in some places is still believed) that while enlightenment is beyond gender, enlightenment is possible only in a male body. Many stories in The Hidden Lamp question this paradox through playfulness, sexuality, and ambiguity.