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Lions Roar : November 2015
ADVICE FOR DIFFICULT TIMES Can I Serve Others Without Falling into a Gender Trap? Women don’t have to sacrifice themselves to be good Buddhists, says BRENDA SALGADO. Helping others starts with honoring yourself. Question: Women are all too often expected to sacrifice their own needs in order to serve others. As a feminist, I believe it’s important not to fall into that stereotype, but at the same time I respect the Buddhist ideal of a life of service. How can I dedicate myself to serving oth- ers in a way that doesn’t force me into an uncomfortable gender role? Answer: Being raised by women who were often taught to put their own needs last, this has been a question I have sat with in meditation. I am grateful for spir- itual teachers, in particular indigenous elders, who have helped me remember wisdom about how to walk this balance. One of my teachers, Grandmother Amalia from Mexico, shared a healing practice with me that includes the affirma- tions: “From this moment on, I choose to LOVE myself, I choose to CARE for myself, and I choose to RESPECT myself. When you love, care, and respect yourself first, you will be better able to do the same for those you love.” I have found this to be true. When I make time to honor my mind, body, and spirit, I find it easier to be more spacious and loving to those around me. Years ago, the Dalai Lama opined that “Western women will save the world.” Even the Buddha spoke of mothers’ devoted love and compassion as a model for the spiritual path. When we honor all beings, particularly women and those who have been most oppressed in our culture, we create the conditions for a society based in collective wisdom and balance, where all humans and Earth are valued and respected. We are modeling for future generations what service, jus- tice, dignity, and power can look like. As we work for joy and liberation for future generations, we can start by practicing it in the present ourselves. ♦ ©KELVINTT/DREAMSTIME.COM Send your question to