Who were the women in Buddha’s life? What do we know about them? The conventional Buddha biography tells us very little, but casting a wider net we find an abundance of wonderful stories that flowed from early oral traditions to now overlooked Pali and Sanskrit sources. During this weekend course we will discuss and reflect on the stories of Maya, Gotami, Yashodhara and the harem wives, Sujata, Visakha, and others whose lives were inextricably bound with the Buddha’s, first as laywomen and some later as nuns. We’ll also explore stories of the sacred feminine or yakshis who helped guide the struggling Siddhartha on his path to enlightenment. These stories invite us to re-frame the earliest Buddhist paradigm as one that was not only inclusive of women, but that valorized women, their spiritual aspirations, and their potential. They offer us an opportunity to reclaim a past and bring to light a refreshed, more gender-balanced view of the roots of Buddhism. Together we’ll reflect on the past and share insights into contemporary meaning and relevance of the stories for today’s practitioners. This program is gender-neutral and men are welcome.
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The Women in Buddha’s Life: Stories and Reflections
Days: Fri - Sun (2 Nights)
Instructor(s): Wendy Garling
Wendy Garling is the author of Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha’s Life. She has an MA in Sanskrit language and literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and authorized dharma teacher. She has taught women's spirituality with a focus on women’s stories and the sacred feminine for many years. She also co-leads a Buddhist pilgrimage in India and Nepal, “Women in the Buddha’s Life: A Journey in Search of Buddhism’s Feminine Roots.”