using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : January 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2009 62 Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, intervened, and Tendzin went into re- treat. He died of complications from AIDS in 1990, and leader- ship of the community was taken over by Trungpa Rinpoche’s son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. How did these and other, less-publicized crises in Buddhist communities of the day happen? Several people I spoke with noted that the first Westerners to take spiritual leadership had to skip many levels of progressive spiritual development, and learn while in the teaching seat. Blanche Hartman, a senior dharma teacher who was Zen Center’s first abbess, recalls that “it was Su- zuki Roshi’s intention to give dharma transmission to about a dozen people he had ordained, and they would all be peers. But he was too sick, so he gave dharma transmission to the person he thought had the best chance of keeping it going. He was accurate about that. I don’t think we’d be here today if it were not for Richard Baker. Unfortunately, he got put in that position before he had had enough time to finish his training.” Hartman’s colleague Mel Weitsman feels sad that some have concluded that dharma leaders are not needed. “Dharma com- munities require spiritual leaders at the top of a pyramid,” he says, “but it is a shallow pyramid with people at all levels who are learning and leading.” Of the first period of organization- building, he says, “It was too much, too quick, too much dream- ing, ambition. The bubble had to burst.” Jeremy Hayward, a close student of Trungpa Rinpoche and author of a memoir about his teacher, Warrior King of Sham- bhala, suggests that teachers falling from grace offer a caution- ary tale about the traps that dharma teachers can fall into: “The teachings are so true and loving, and freeing, that it’s very easy for students to project that onto the personality of the teacher. You have to be a really strong teacher to realize, ‘No! I’m just wearing the coat.’ Many teachers have corrupted their position, not maliciously, but by believing they had achieved something and that the students were falling in love with them and they were falling in love with the students, in a dangerous way.” In the early years, the meeting ground between the students and the teachers, including Asian teachers, was often shaky, and a number of the teachers’ mores were called into question. Weits- man talks about how “Asians on the surface have strictness about sex, as Buddhists, but in actuality, in Japan for example, there were always women in the monasteries who were mistresses of the priests. It’s a surface show of propriety, but as long as you don’t make waves, you can have various outlets.” Many saw the crises of power and sex in the 1980s as manifes- tations of an imbalance of male and female energy in the lead- ership, and they were determined to do something about that. While the crises brought about a great deal of self-examination, the changing role of American women in the dharma represent- ed a revolution in Buddhism itself. Most of the teachers coming west had broken with the way Buddhism traditionally regarded women. They took women on as serious students and empow- ered them as teachers. But by the eighties, it was becoming clear there still was a glass barrier in the dharma. Blanche Hartman remembers “sitting around a table at Zen Center with some women, and we were talking about male dominance. Someone mentioned that Yvonne Rand was the only woman on the board, and I remember saying passionately, ‘I don’t care about the po- litical power. I want dharma power.’ I wanted to be one of those who marched out of the zendo first, because in our tradition the leaders of the practice went out first, and they were all men.” Hartman is sheepish about the surge of ambition now, and feels she needed to work through it to truly become an abbess, but she recognizes how important it was for women to see other women in roles of spiritual authority. She consciously chose the term “abbess” because the title “Abbott Zenkei Hartman” would not have made clear that she was a woman. The differing gender relations between traditional Asian models and Buddhism as it is evolving in the West deserves, and has been given, book-length treatment, several times. Rita Gross, author of Buddhism after Patriarchy, writing in a special issue of this magazine called Women of Wisdom (June, 2005), talked about the paradox of what women, most deeply committed to femi- nism, found when they initially encountered Buddhism. “On the one hand,” she wrote, “the basic teachings were gender-free and gender-neutral, and many found the practice of meditation not only gender-free but intensely liberating. ... On the other hand, the forms through which these teachings and practices were de- livered were as male-dominated as those of any other religion.” This recognition led many women to make a strong distinction between the cultural structures that carried the dharma and the dharma itself, and they forged new kinds of teachers and orga- nizations as a result. The testament to women’s “dharma power” in the West is the number of renowned women teachers and prominent senior students and leaders, including Pema Chödrön, Sharon Salzberg, and Charlotte Joko Beck, to name just one from each of the three major traditions. Hartman emphasizes that, “Nowadays, wheth- er someone is male or female has nothing whatever to do with whether they’re ordained or not in our tradition. That is a clear departure.” Weitsman mentions that when students go to Japan, they notice “how far we’ve come in our approach to women here. I call this the feminization of Zen. Zen has a kind of macho male attitude, and because of the absorption of women into a male practice, the practice has become more fluid, feminized.” While Buddhist communities were remaking themselves dur- ing their adolescence, the outside world was about to take notice of Buddhism in a very big way. This time around the press would not be writing about “a blue-jeaned crowd” of drop outs or fo- cusing on the internal scandals of a few dharma groups.