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Lions Roar : September 2019
leader, you’re not the authority, you’re not the teacher, so that you can keep developing these other dynamics and other dimensions of your practice. Myoan Grace Schireson (Shogaku Zen Institute): I think, as a psy- chologist, that women tend to be a little more emotional than men, and because of that, we’ve been taught to suppress our feelings. We’re considered too emotional, even hys- terical. As a female teacher, as you enter the fray, when you feel something, make a note of it, review it, explore it. Don’t just push it away, saying, “Everything is empty, and I need to be humble, and who am I?” Really make note of discomforts that are arising. Explore when you feel like you’ve been put down. You don’t have to blow up in that moment. But do stay with it. Rebecca Li (Chan Dharma Community): I’m a sociologist, so what I would say to women teachers is to understand the gender norms we have in our society so that you don’t think “It’s me, something’s wrong with me that I’m being treated this way.” Specifically, be aware of this phe- nomenon of a double standard for men and women. Study after study shows that women have to work harder—and achieve more—to maybe be seen as Myokei Caine- Barrett (Bishop of the Nicheren Shu Order of North America): I would say to fol- low your heart, because we are all uniquely equipped. Rather than looking elsewhere, you’ll need to go deep into yourself, find your own strengths, and learn to rely on those pretty exclusively. You’ll also need a good sup- port system, other women just to talk to, to let it all out. You need the freedom to be absolutely truthful to at least one other person. And practice a lot, a whole lot. Continue to deepen faith and practice, and never stop studying, because the more you know, the more you will grow through all of the experiences that you need to have. Pema Khandro Rinpoche (Ngakpa International): What I would pass on to a young teacher is to really sit inside your values and your love of dharma. Because if you are following the teachings as they have been taught to you, if you’re practic- ing dharma in a way that not only brings you light but illuminates everyone who’s connected to you, then focus on only that and let all of the other noise subside. I would also add the importance of having times when you’re not a teacher— to always also make time, if you can, to be a student. It’s important to have spaces or relationships in which you’re not the INSIDE BUDDHADHARMA Advice to a Young Woman Teacher In this selection from the special all-women’s issue of Buddhadharma, five prominent Buddhist teachers were asked what advice they would give to a young woman just starting out as a Buddhist teacher. This selection is from the Fall issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, published by Lion’s Roar. For more in- depth teachings, commentary, and reviews from Buddhadharma and to subscribe, go to lionsroar.com/buddhadharma. almost the same as a man in a similar position. Understanding that has helped me to not take things so personally. Narayan Helen Liebenson (Cam- bridge Insight Med- itation Center): One thing I find to be really important is confidence. It’s easy for younger women to be knocked off course, particularly by older men tell- ing them how they should be offering the dharma. The other is the encouragement to find your own voice. It’s just so impor- tant that the voice be authentic. When I was a young teacher, an older male teacher told me over and over again that I was “out of control.” And I was speaking in the calmest, quietest voice one can imagine. It took me awhile to see that what was really being said to me was, “Don’t stand your ground.” I think women teachers are allowed less space than men—they can play with fewer colors of the rainbow in terms of tone of voice and vocabulary, that kind of thing. Show the tiniest bit of annoyance and people get upset. So I say, find your own voice and share the dharma in as powerful a way as the moment calls for. We must encourage younger women teachers to find their own voice and to find a kind of authenticity within their own experiences, whatever their experi- ences have been. You can be married or unmarried, have children or not. Get behind the form you’ve chosen, without shame. Really be out front with it. ♦ LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 27 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE