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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 13 SOUL WOMAN I enjoyed reading Barry Boyce’s profile of bell hooks in your July 2006 issue. She is awesome— someone I admire. Since Daugh- ters of the Dust, hooks has been growing, and now I see her blos- som. She’s a soul woman through and through—and I want some of what she’s got. Troy Longmire Chicago, Illinois Shambhala Sun, you missed an opportunity to radi- calize, empower, and revision the practice of Bud- dhism via discomfort. bell hooks’ work explores the dance between love and oppression in the American politico-psychic system. She does this by training one exquisite critical eye on the culture while turning the other toward her visceral personal psychology and laying both bare for readers. In both dimensions of her work, hooks functions as a teacher in ways paral- leling the work of many eastern rinpoches and lamas. I believe Barry Boyce didn’t let down his guard with Ms. hooks and failed to see her as a teacher. For hooks is a teacher in both the spiritual and political fashion, just as was the Buddha and Martin Luther King Jr. I’m afraid that asking a white man like Mr. Boyce to open to the dark feminine personified in hooks is too radical for a journal making its money from ads for retreats and seat cushions. As a white guy, I need to be made uncomfort- able in my psychology by seeing my racism, my oppres- sion, and my sexism in my practice of spirituality. That discomfort was missing from Mr. Boyce’s profile. Kevan Jenson Venice, California GENTLE MEN I enjoyed reading Christina Feldman’s “She Who Hears the Cries of the World” (May 2006) on the bodhisattva known in Eastern Asia as Kwan-Yin/Guan Yin (Chi- nese), Gwan-eum (Korean), Kannon (Japanese), and Quan Âm (Vietnamese). I realize Feldman’s article was not meant to be an academic one, but I would have liked to find in it a little more background information for the benefit of the novice reader. While Feldman mentions that this bodhisattva is usually portrayed as a female in eastern Asia, she fails to mention that the popularized Kuan Shih Yin is a result of feminization of the male bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Before the spread of Buddhism the secular male prototypes that ancient China knew were warriors, scholar- administrators, and merchants. At that time in most parts of Eurasia, loving-kindness and compassion belonged to the female prototype, the maternal goddess—hence the bodhisattva’s sex change during China’s Sung dynasty (960-1279). I respect and honor the feminization tradition and understand its importance. However, it is empowering to me personally as a male, and perhaps to other male Bud- dhists, that we have a male embodiment of uncondi- tional, all-encompassing lov- ing compassion, not only in the form of an evil-fighting warrior, but as a gentle spirit that disarms by means of un- conditional love. This is a quality that in almost all Eurasian traditions is portrayed as innately feminine, which in my opinion has been inhibiting most secu- lar males’ personal and spiritual growth, and has thus impeded the salvation of sentient beings as a whole. Reinhard F. Hahn Seattle, Washington THE MEATLESS PATH I appreciated Noa Jones’s honesty and forthrightness in tackling the vegetarian question (“The Accidental Vegetarian,” May 2006), never easy to do in our culture. However, she erred in her understanding of the dhar- Letters to the Editor