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The Women in Buddha’s Life: Stories and Reflections
Dates: May 11, 2018 - May 13, 2018
Days: Fri - Sun (2 Nights)

Instructor(s): Wendy Garling

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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.

  • Wendy Garling is a writer, mother, independent scholar, and authorized dharma teacher with a BA from Wellesley College and an MA in Sanskrit language and literature from the University of California, Berkeley. A Tibetan Buddhist practitioner since her twenties, she took refuge with His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and studied for many years under the kind guidance of her root lama, the late Geshe Acharya Thubten Loden. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha's Life (2016, Shambhala), and has recently completed her second book, The Woman Who Raised the Buddha: The Extraordinary Life of Mahaprajapati (March 2021, Shambhala).