Thursday, January 24, 2008

wat hoppin'

i spent many hours today wandering from wat to wat (temple to temple)...bowing upon entry into each sanctuary, before each giant buddha statue...i began to feel curiosity about all the bowing i was doing...what exactly does this act mean to me right now?
i spent the day letting that inquiry float in and out through my experience...

as much as i love and feel devoted to practicing and studying the buddha's teachings, i do not identify as buddhist. i simply cannot get behind the age-old patriarchal storyline that men should have more power and privilege than women...even if the bearer of such news is dressed in monk's robes, head bowed, carrying an alms bowl. as i have visited more and more temples throughout asia, i have noticed an excessive amount of statuary to men and their power trips. when i come upon these areas within the temple complexes, i just have to roll my eyes and walk on by...i simply don't care to know any more about it. however, i whole-heartedly appreciate the temples and the buddhas for their quiet and their beauty...they feel like a refuge within an overgrown modernity...for the weary, over-stimulated body and the frantic, racing mind.
when i see a statue or image of the buddha i do not see a god, a savior, a lord, or even a man. i see equanimity, compassion, kindness, right mind and wise effort, concentration, peace...a mirror of all beings' true nature...and so i bow to that, out of the deepest gratitude within me...and for a moment the rest just melts away.


marcie said...

Oh yes, i too have walked the tracks of the awareness that you are voicing. Those tracks also lead me to the heart of compassion, the Great Mother, and the creatrix of All. Blessings as you journey on.

jennifer said...

I love this post and your honesty. Yes, I feel that way all the time, just last fall, I was cursing how all I hear from are male teachers--Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hah, Buddha, Maharishi, Guru Rinpoche, Lama Suyra Das, Jack Kornfield...and on and on. "Where are the women?" I asked, grumbling with irritation and then, underfoot, there she Joanna Macy says..."Big Mama." I laughed so hard I cried. I got "it". Big Mama doesn't need anyone to quote her, she doesn't need to be The Teacher or even to use the language of man. She's under us, in action in the wind, rising under the wing of a bird, singing in a language that has no vowels or consonants. I fell in love, at that moment...remembering how it was the earth who witnessed Buddha's enlightenment and shook with her truth. Her truth of recognition blows my mind. Without this great feminine body...where would all these men sit as they suppress women?

Thank you for your voice Jessa, keep speaking up and out. We need you!!!

marcie said...

Jessa in re-reading your post and Jennifer's comment i remember something that Mata Amritanandamayi said, 'the Mother is the container of the universe, just like the male member is contained in the female's body the masculine is contanined within the female.' see that truth expressed in the symbol of the Tao with the Great Mother (the circle) containing both the masculine and the feminine. We can dance back and forth in the tension of the opposites but it is the Great Mother that hold the tension of the opposites much like what you express of the Buddha's middle path of compassion. Surely Buddha was more aligned with Great Mother than a boy. Another beautiful example is how Ramakrishna embodied the Divine Mother, and would not refer to himself , but would point to his heart and indicate the Mother. Jai Ma

Jessa Walters said...

thank you both so much for your wisdom and blessings...i'm sitting here in this buzzy chiang mai internet cafe feeling the fullness of all you've said...suddenly so beautifully reminded of the vastness of HER...big mama!! and feeling a smile coming to my lips...a resurgence of deeper knowing, hope, and energy for the road ahead.

calling all women:

greenfrog said...


I share your sense of dis-ease with identifying with a tradition that embeds oppression, though I love the improvement in my life from following the Buddha's teachings (and especially as they've been articulated by Pema Chodron).

Perhaps your blog and the network of aligned hearts is a part of something new.