11. Women in Buddhism
Although in Asia women and men have practiced Buddhism throughout history, there’s little doubt that the practice of men has predominated. Nevertheless, since the Buddha’s time, there have always been powerful and sincere women practitioners and teachers, who have practiced with great intensity and compassionate wisdom often in the face of tremendous societal oppression and barriers to formal study. A
s Buddhism has come to the West, there has been a flowering of women teachers in all traditions, and many scholars are studying and exploring the history of women within Buddhism. The Soto Zen teachers in America have recently recognized the role of women in our tradition by creating a document of women ancestors, honoring the women throughout history whose practice still inspires us. Whether you are male or female, knowing the stories and teachings of these courageous women can deepen your own practice.
Florence Caplow and Sue Moon, from our Everyday Zen sangha, have edited and compiled The Hidden Lamp, an essential collection of Buddhist women’s stories, with commentaries by contemporary women teachers. Collections of talks and teachings by contemporary women teachers related to our Dharma family are also listed below.