by Lisa Tully
The world will be saved by the Western woman
– The Dalai Lama
In the world of Tibetan Buddhism, if you dig deep, you will find a belief that women are considered to be a lesser rebirth. In other words the only way to truly attain liberation or enlightenment is in a man’s body.
Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha, who is the founder of Buddhism, strongly resisted his aunt becoming his first nun. Some say this was due to the fact that he believed the monks would just have the nuns running around after them doing their cooking and cleaning.
And if we consider this particular Buddha was alive circa 600BC or maybe even earlier, he definitely had a point wouldn’t you agree?
However I feel the later belief of women being a lesser rebirth was a man-made confusion, which evolved after Buddha’s initial timely concerns.
And things have come a long way for women now especially in the West. We have a lot more freedom although there is still work to be done. And I believe that is why the Dalai Lama said what he said about us.
For we are not any better than our Eastern sisters, we simply have more freedom and can therefore have more influence.
We are all equal.
The masculine & the feminine are like day and night. We need both. And we have been without that for so long and it manifests in how badly we treat our mother earth.
But knowing all this I couldn’t sit with this seemingly patriarchal belief in Tibetan Buddhism so I set off on a mission to find a female master to explore this with. I came across an incredible Western woman living in India, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.
Originally from the East London she now runs a nunnery where she is totally devoted to reviving the female yogini in Tibetan Buddhism. On top of that her personal goal is to become the first enlightened female master whom upon death returns back to earth to help everyone else achieve the same. This is what is known as a Bodhisattva.
As luck would have it or rather the magic of India willed it, I managed to get a one-hour private audience with her to explore my burning question around women in Buddhism.
Her response was that even in a group of women, some things that work for one, don’t necessarily work for another. That there are no specific methods that suit just the feminine or the masculine and it is my job to check what works for me as an individual, in everything that I am taught.
Those words brought me great peace.
For ultimately whether we are in a female body or a male body we have free will. We have discernment. We can sense if something is right or wrong for us and hopefully have the courage to enact upon that despite what may be going on around us.
And if we embrace that, each and everyone of us, men and women, brother and sister, husband and wife, we might…we just might get to save our feminine planet before she is all but destroyed. For after all, the microcosm has the power to affect the macrocosm right?
Om Tara Toh Tara Ture Soha
Lisa Tully leads spiritual tours to India. For more information visit http://bodymindspiritjourneys.com/ladakh-tour.html
by Rev. Dr. Karen Tate
In ever-increasing numbers women and men are seeking spirituality beyond traditional religious institutions and more and more their new normal includes the deities, ideals and archetypes of the Sacred Feminine. They have a desire to get beyond the patriarchal dogma of the Abrahamic religions that so often perpetuates sexism, homophobia and the domination of Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. Women, in particular, are hearing and heeding their calling, stepping forth to take on their mantle of leadership as rabbis, ministers, priestesses, Nuns on the Bus and Womanpriests. They are exercising their spiritual authority in circles at their kitchen tables, in their living rooms and classrooms, in brick and mortar churches and temples, in political arenas and groves. They are flexing their spiritual wings and allowing themselves to be guided by their intuition, innate female wisdom and inner-knowing. They encourage their congregations to know and feel the essence of Goddess and understand what that new knowledge might mean for themselves personally and the world. They refuse to go back to a time when men have dominion over women’s bodies and tell them to put an aspirin between their knees as a form of birth control!
Often the shared message of these like-minded women and men is one of female empowerment, equality, social justice and environmental responsibility, sometimes referred to as eco-feminist spirituality. The liturgy may contain social, cultural and political messages of liberation thealogy using Goddess mythology, archetypes and metaphors as benchmarks and templates for a more just, peaceful and sustainable future. Gone altogether or tempered is the message of the strict authoritarian Father whose mythology gives license for a male-dominated society with women in a subordinate role. Nothing less than peace, partnership, justice, equality and care for the planet are at the heart of this Sacred Feminine wisdom. Gone are the greed is good or survival of the fittest mentalities. As more and more people find themselves “the other” and with little hope of achieving the American Dream, they are willing to rethink the status quo and vision another future and a government that serves more than the 1%.
In answer to this collective call to restore and re-write our values and find a new social and spiritual path women and men are blazing a trail using their pink handled machetes to find their way. Within religious groups it might manifest in progressive churches using gender neutral names for God in prayer and song. Others include liturgy embracing the Divine Mother in equal partnership alongside the Father. Altars might not be dominated only by male images. Still others give themselves permission to conduct women-only services and exhibit only female images of deity at their gatherings. Congregants worship together in circles rather than in hierarchical configurations with a male intermediary between them and deity. In fact, these groups and gatherings might be leaderless, egalitarian or organizers might share leadership.
To push these new values forward in society Goddess advocates recognize the need to stand in solidarity with pro-worker, pro-women, pro-science, pro-immigrant, pro-peace, and pro-environmental groups who feel the weight of rich, white, male privilege on their neck. It means partnering with secular people, particularly the millenials, who feel the most disenfranchised with the current state of the economy, their crushing student loan debt and their hopelessness about the future. It means legislating real family values, restoring worker stability, shoring up the depleted social safety net and investing in people and jobs.
Social justice and uplifting the common good are key and those values are not only prevalent in ideals of the Sacred Feminine but their importance is punctuated in a newly released documentary that addresses the issues of patriarchy, women’s rights, and our desperate need for partnership. Femme: Women Healing the World is a brave film that starts at the beginning, unafraid to talk about pre-patriarchal times, when women and Goddess were revered and people were more concerned about the We and the Us instead of the current climate of greed and selfishness, aka, the I and the Me. Femme is unafraid to examine the relationship between religion and the oppression of women and the economic disparity that is the result of our following a patriarchal or male-dominated agenda.
With Red States and Republicans around the country taking away women’s freedom and dignity in mandating they be penetrated with state sanctioned vaginal probes and limiting access to birth control in the year 2013, never has such a film been more needed. With women doing 80% of the work with only 20% of the assets, never has a film been more important. With so many hungry children, women retiring in poverty and austerity measures being thrust upon the poor and middle class, disproportionately affecting women and their kids, information in this film is vital to help shift consciousness toward a more equitable and sustainable future. With Republicans about to destroy the full faith and credibility of the United States with needless manufactured crises, it’s time to step up and demand a return to balance, sanity and majority rule. With the daily assaults on our finite resources and Mother Earth, it is time to awaken and this film is a wake-up call!
The Dalai Lamma said it would be Western women who would save the world. Certainly it can be women across the globe, stepping up, taking on their mantle of leadership, demanding they no longer be diminished and oppressed under male authority, and with that, a tipping point toward love, balance, peace and an inter-connection among us all. Nothing less is acceptable. Nothing less will save humankind and the planet. Femme features American women Jean Houston, Marianne Williamson, Celeste Yarnall, Riane Eisler, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Sharon Stone, Gloria Steinem, Barbara Marx Hubbard, myself, and numerous other women across the globe speaking out on how we might change the world along-side our beloved men. Most importantly, it offers real solutions for a sustainable world and should be required viewing in religious, corporate and educational settings the world over. If we can vision it, we can manifest it, and manifesting a new world is our moral imperative for the majority of us on this planet.
About Femme: Women Healing the World
Click here to watch: http://ykr.be/4ik59m1n6
You can download the video or stream it for only $4.99
Or DVD copies of Femme will be available in early 2014
For more information about the movie, go to
READ ABOUT FEMME –
About Rev. Dr. Karen Tate
Author of Walking An Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth, Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations and the soon to be released Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages and Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy and Voices of the Sacred Feminine: Conversations to ReShape Our World. Karen is a speaker, social justice activist, sacred tour leader, workshop presenter and host of the long running radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine Radio. She can be reached at www.karentate.com or on Facebook and Twitter and can be seen in the documentary, Femme: Women Healing the World. She resides in Venice, CA with Roy, her husband of thirty years who she describes as the wind beneath her wings.
More men than women define the good life as including a strong and loving marriage with children – 79 percent, compared to 66 percent of women. And 9 percent of women do not include personal relationships in their pursuit of success – up from 5 percent in the previous survey.
“This study may be an indicator not so much that women want less than men; it may simply mean that women are feeling overwhelmed by the many roles they accept in life, and they believe wanting a happy work-life balance is asking for too much,” says Dr. Jaime Kulaga, a practicing therapist, life coach and author of “Type ‘S’uperWoman – Finding the Work-Life Balance: A Self-Searching Book for Women,” (www.mindfulrehab.com).
“In fact, I haven’t met a woman in my life who hasn’t taken on an exponential amount of roles – far more than is good for any one person. From wife to professional to cook to chauffeur, women simply do not know how to say no, even when they want to.”
While the holiday season is supposed to be a time when family members rejoice with family and free time, Dr. Kulaga says women often dread this time of year because of the additional roles to be taken on. She offers perspective for why saying “no” more often is good for them.
• An inability to say “no” is based in fear. Why can’t we just say no? It’s because we’re afraid of the consequences. Mostly, we are afraid of feeling guilt, feeling a sense that we are diminished in the eyes of others and, overall, that we will somehow lose something. Decisions based in fear, however, are often negative ones as they tend to be entrenched in irrationality or impulsivity. Try to decide things based on what you want, and not what you’re attempting to avoid.
• Women who can’t say “no” have less, not more; be mindful. Mindfulness is an excellent way to pare down the number of roles so many women assume; it’s the antidote for women who smile and nod “yes” when their brains are screaming “no,” and then go into the bathroom to cry. There is plenty of talk about women who “want it all” – and we can have it all, if we focus on what is really important and narrow the list of roles down to a manageable number.
• By saying “no” to some things, you’re saying “yes” to others. As mortal individuals, our time and resources are limited. We simply cannot take on all the roles others would have us accept and still have time for the things that truly matter to us. Working late each night, for example, means having less time for your family – or yourself! When women list their priorities, it’s almost always in relation to the needs of others, and not themselves. It’s not only OK, it’s healthy to want time and other things for oneself!
Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D, LMHC, CPC
Motivated by watching those she coaches become successful and with a true passion for helping others, Dr. Jaime Kulaga earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and master’s and doctorate’s in counseling. As a licensed mental health counselor and certified professional coach, she has a special interest in the complex lives of today’s women. She serves as a go-to expert resource for Bay News 9, the Tampa Bay area’s 24-hour news channel, and as a coach for individuals, couples and business people.
While Many Faiths Have Evolved, Too Many Have Not, Former Jehovah’s Witness Says
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has become much more accustomed to the culture and religion of Middle Eastern and North African countries. One sharp difference is the role of half of that region’s population: girls and women.
“Unfortunately for many Muslims, half of their human capital is repressed or completely silenced, and many academics and reporters who are knowledgeable about the region cite this one fact for lack of progress there,” says Richard E. Kelly, a self-described “survivor” of Jehovah’s Witness.
“But many of us here in the West also come from a religious tradition that has repressed women, and some Christian sects remain faithful to ancient, Old Testament dogmas.”
In the New Testament, gospel writers clearly show Jesus to be a non-sexist, pro-woman figure, says Kelly, www.richardekelly.com, author of “Growing Up in Mama’s Club: A Childhood Perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses” and its sequel, “The Ghosts from Mama’s Club.” Christians are forced to choose between two points of view on women – that represented by the four Gospel writers in the New Testament and the teachings of the Old. Unfortunately, the latter too often prevails, he says.
“Because we are a pluralistic society that respects differing religious perspectives, we are sometimes afraid to be frank about certain beliefs,” says Kelly, who escaped the “cult” of Jehovah’s Witness as a young man.
Women, who are viewed as being below men, but above animals, in the faith are the most negatively affected by ancient beliefs, he says. Kelly reviews why religions should update their take on women:
- The whole world is watching: In what may be the most stubbornly religious part of the world, rural Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, 15, may be doing more than all military campaigns to turn the tide of Islamic extremism in the Middle East. Yousafzai was shot in the head by members of the Taliban for standing up for girls’ right to be educated. In this day of instant global communication among the masses, Yousafzai’s story has reached millions. The Arab Spring should be a powerful lesson of the effects of social media in uniting people against tyrants.
- Women’s repression insults men: Because the cultural and religious traditions of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) view women as little more than chattel, members with this perspective are unable to enjoy a healthy relationship. “I’ve experienced the tragic consequences of this view,” he says. “My sister, Marilyn, grew up believing she had less value, because that’s what Jehovah’s Witnesses taught her. Consequently, she suffered abuse at the hands of three husbands, the last of whom took her life.” By viewing women as inferior, men are also victims. They’re denied the mutual respect, trust and shared decision-making of a healthy male-female relationship, Kelly says.
- A moderating influence: Kelly echoes the concerns of other whistle blowers – world-renowned scientists like Richard Dawkins – who worry over the plausible circumstances of world destruction at the hands of religious extremists. “We’re dealing with those who believe that the world’s fate was literally given to them by their God; people who don’t believe in the values of the Enlightenment, but who have the fruits of today’s nuclear technology,” he says. “In any group, women tend to have a moderating influence, and introducing more female influence over and within religious groups may literally mean the difference between the future of the world and the end of it.”
About Richard E. Kelly
Richard E. Kelly grew up as a Jehovah’s Witnesses. At 20, while working at the religion’s headquarters, he left the group to live with his wife, Helen, in New York City. Because Kelly’s family believed Armageddon was imminent, his education was limited to what was required by law, since there would be no future. However, he went on to earn a bachelor’s in accounting, a master’s in business and become president of a Michigan manufacturing company. He now enjoys retirement with his family and friends.