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Week #11 Reading Reflection Assignment

REMINDER: visit on April 2 by Pat Darling to talk about her experiences with contemporary Buddhist practice.

Due for full credit on April 2; due for "grace period" 1 point down on April 9.

These articles reflect a wide range of perspectives of American women who have embraced Buddhist practice. They move away from primary concerns of inclusion and battling sexism to more exploration of the value of Buddhist practice. Respond to the following prompts in your reading reflection:
-- What, on the whole, do these writers feel is the attraction of Buddhist practice to contemporary American women?
-- How can women be able to benefit from Buddhist practice in the face of ongoing social difficulties (sexism being one of them) that are part of the human dimension of any religious organization with thousands of years of tradition?
-- For you, what were some of the highlights or things you found interesting about Buddhism that you learned from these articles?
-- For the two African American women, bell hooks and Jan Willis, what do they articulate about how Buddhist practice is helpful to them in terms of their own traditions and their own situations as women of color in America? Do they have particular insights / concerns / unique experiences because of their situation as women of color?
-- What would you like to know more about regarding Buddhism? (If you get this posted before Pat Darling comes to talk to us on April 2, we can give her the questions you post.)

Comments

This question is difficult for me because I didn’t really see anything that correlated throughout all the articles. However, each author talked about their own sense of peace and balance that has come from practicing Buddhism and in our “Western” society that can be a huge appeal for women. Especially those that are middle and upper class, like the authors keep referring to. Women that have worked hard to get where they are a lot of times would love to find a balance in their lives and Buddhism is a religion that can offer that to them. I think that is the biggest draw because so many people do feel burnt out at work because they work too much and then go home to their family who just takes more energy. A good balance is what a lot of people are looking for, why not get that from your religion?

I think that women can benefit greatly from Buddhism because of the ongoing difficulties. A few of the authors talked about how the challenges in their study helped them to become more enlightened. I like how Thubten Chodron explained that when she found herself getting angry that the monks were able to do something that she was not she realized that she would get mad if the roles were reversed as well (p. 231). Without the blatant sexism in Buddhism Chodron would not have come to this realization and move closer to becoming enlightened. If one doesn’t face challenges and adversity then there would be nothing for them to grow from. You have to have something forcing you out of your comfort zone and challenging you to be able to learn and grow, so if women didn’t have any social challenges then how would they learn and grow?

The thing that really stuck out for me was the example that I used above when Thubten Chodron came to the realization that if the role of the nun and the monk were reversed that she would still be angry. This realization is how I think of all oppression, that no matter how many things we are able to do and how equal we are people will always find a reason to claim that they are oppressed and that someone else has more rights than they do. It’s all relative to each individual and their situation. No one is ever going to be equal with everyone else, that’s just life. This article was the first one that actually pointed that out, at least that’s how I took it.

Both authors touched on there not being enough people of color in the Buddhist religion and also that Buddhism seemed geared towards wealthy and middle class people. Both also commented on how people of color are basically excluded because of their social status. However, the thing that stuck out for me in these two articles was not that they were oppressed by their religion, but the sense of hope that both of them seemed to come back to. Willis concluded her article talking about how Buddhism will be improved upon with some changes, which she suggests in the text and Hooks had a generally positive message throughout her writing. Both women also talked about how if they want to see any changes made to their religion then colored people, as a group, cannot continue to have an attitude of victimization.(p.291) I think that this is a really important message reiterated by both authors. Nothing will be changed if people have the mentality that things happen to them instead of the mentality that they are going to change things so this doesn’t happen again.

Personally, since I’m pretty unfamiliar with Buddhism, I’d like to know the basis of the beliefs behind the religion. What are the core things that a Buddhist, regardless of which sect, believes in?

1) What, on the whole, do these writers feel is the attraction of Buddhist practice to contemporary American women?
Some of the reasons these writers mentioned for why they feel that contemporary American women are attracted to Buddhist practice are because of some of the principles it teaches like to love, to have confidence, and to have compassion for other. Pema Chodron states on page 301, “But actually Buddhism is about diving into your real issues and fearlessly befriending the difficult and blocked areas and deep-seated habitual patterns that keep us stuck in ignorance and confusion”. Other reasons mentioned were that Buddhism gives people a sense of peace and answers unexplained questions, much like other religions. For example, Thubten Chodron talks about how Buddhism answered a lot of the questions that she’s had about the world. She states on page 224, “I was surprised when the teachings by Ven. Lama Yeshe and Ven. Zopa Rinpoche proposed answers to the questions that had been with me since childhood. Rebirth and karma explained how we got here. Attachment, anger, and ignorance as the source of our problems explained why people are dissatisfied and quarrel with each other”. Having questions to life’s mystery’s answered is something that attracts people to Christianity as well. The Bible tells us where we came from and how we got here and what our purpose here is. These authors also talked about feeling more at peace while practicing Buddhism. This point ties in to the next question:
2) How can women be able to benefit from Buddhist practice in the face of ongoing social difficulties (sexism being one of them) that are part of the human dimension of any religious organization with thousands of years of tradition?
The reasons given for women wanting to practice Buddhism are directly related to how women can benefit from Buddhist practice in the face of ongoing social difficulties. Buddhism teaches change through peace and nonviolence. “In this life we are not going to solve all the problems. But if you yourself are working with non-aggression and honesty, that can change the balance of aggression in the world”(Chodron 303). Believing in peace is common to many religions. Women can continue to fight social difficulties like sexism nonviolently.
3) For you, what were some of the highlights or things you found interesting about Buddhism that you learned from these articles?
Learning about Buddhism has been pretty interesting so far. The way these religions are so similar really surprises me. “Monastic ordination centers around four root precepts: to avoid killing, stealing, sexual relations, and lying about spiritual attainment”(Chodron 226). This reminds me of Christianity and some of the beliefs outlined in The Ten Commandments. What I like about Buddhism is that it promotes living a simple life. I think this is good because less confusion with materialistic things will help a person be more in touch with their spiritual side. “As a monastic, I endeavor to live simply – without many possessions, entangled emotional relationships, or preoccupation with looks, and so I have more time for the inner exploration Dharma practice requires and for service-oriented activities”(Chodron225).
4) For the two African American women, Bell Hooks and Jan Willis, what do they articulate about how Buddhist practice is helpful to them in terms of their own traditions and their own situations as women of color in America? Do they have particular insights / concerns / unique experiences because of their situation as women of color?
The two African-American women on the whole believe that Buddhist practice is helpful to them as women of color in America because it helps with confidence and being proud of who you are. The two authors talk about how black people feel a sense of inferiority because of the history of slavery and how Buddhist practice has helped them to feel a sense of confidence. Being women of color, the unique insights that these women have are of course related to racism. They discuss topics related to racism like being a minority in the religion, Buddhism’s lack of an open-door policy, and feeling a lack of connection.
5) What would you like to know more about regarding Buddhism?
I would like to know more about what the book calls obtaining enlightenment. It’s not really clear to me exactly how this is accomplished.

-- What, on the whole, do these writers feel is the attraction of Buddhist practice to contemporary American women?
The one writer who is Jan Willis is said of the answer is of confidence. This is enhanced through the Buddhism that she practices. This confidence that she has learned to have is been taught to her through the people that she has meet. The other is that they feel strong. Another thing they find is the help in learning to deal with life’s daily activities. They find peace and support through other Buddhist. There has been a hint that there was not much of a support from the other areas of human or women groups.

-- How can women be able to benefit from Buddhist practice in the face of ongoing social difficulties (sexism being one of them) that are part of the human dimension of any religious organization with thousands of years of tradition?
As for Jan she was able to learn from the Tibetan Buddhists. She saw all they had gone through and still maintained the peace that they carried. Jan considered this to be wisdom that she was missing and longed for.
-- For you, what were some of the highlights or things you found interesting about Buddhism that you learned from these articles?

Some of the things in the readings that I have read were some of the things that as a bornagain believer I have learned. As I read I see a lot of similarities in the to walks of life. The reason I say life is that Buddhism and bornagain is not a religion but a life. You live it not just claim it which is who you are.
-- For the two African American women, bell hooks and Jan Willis, what do they articulate about how Buddhist practice is helpful to them in terms of their own traditions and their own situations as women of color in America? Do they have particular insights / concerns / unique experiences because of their situation as women of color?
As far as being helpful to them what I see is that it helped them to better lifestyle. They have found things that will help them deal with the issues of life. The same way that the way of life has helped me. As for the color of people I do not have any insight to anything except one that people that do not have a background in any area such as Buddhism, Muslim, Brornagain, or anything else I wish that they would learn first before speaking. For many do and bring a bad name to many people that do. This is also not toward any gender.

-- What would you like to know more about regarding Buddhism? (If you get this posted before Pat Darling comes to talk to us on April 2, we can give her the questions you post.)
I know from some resources of people who described the way of Buddhism that they do not push spiritual insights. What I mean by spiritual insights is like bornagain, Judaism, or Muslim. Is there anyone that puts to practice of the teachings of any particular spiritual background.

Information on the first page of our assignment about Jewish young people who are converting or at least are interested and practice Buddhism surprised me, and was absolutely new to me. We learnt that in America Buddhism practices are getting more and more popular, if not as a main religion at least as a source for a spiritual development. I was appealing to learn that it requires a pretty solid saving account; at the same time it was kind of obvious that Buddhism is time consuming.
The article about the Buddhism for the women of color had a pretty strong note of discrimination. I found an answer of Jan Willis “it’s what I do and who I am” as an excellent explanation in very short but sharp words for her “anomaly.” She admits that sometimes racial comments on her involvement in Buddhism are “hurtful,” but she also emphases that after all the troubles that black women had to go through she is strong and ready to fight for her point of view. In spite of a small, very insignificant amount of African-American women in Buddhism, there is a Black woman who became a first nun, and currently she lives in Thailand. I also found it possible that African-American women stay in Buddhism, and continue their practices, inspire of obvious policy against “open-door,” because of the unity inside their minority. Jan Willis noticed that they “always seem to find one another.”
Through our last readings I was wondering how the American people who are interested in Buddhism are able to follow the prayers. I couldn’t believe that devoted religious people of Buddhism from overseas study English in order to do the services in the USA. It is obvious that some of them know English, but not all of them. And it doesn’t seem possible to lead the meditation with the assistance of the interpreter. On the page 84 it says that the “prayers are recited in English,” which left me wonder for an answer.
I found the comment ”if you cannot sit properly on the mat and cushion, then you cannot practice Zen meditation” hilarious, but it does make a perfect sense.
It was interesting to find an answer of what actually Buddhism is offering to Americans? A complete transformation of us as human beings, open minded view on who we are, helps us to get rid of every day negativity, boost our self confidence and gives our life a lot of meaning, lifts our self-image and so on - the list that can be continued, but I think it gives us a main idea of the Buddhism’s importance. I also came up with the point of view, that if people who were born in Buddhism Religion practice it more for spiritual reasons, a lot of Americans find it as a way for a better life, a way out of sufferings, humiliation, degradation, and misery.
I found an attitude of Lama towards Jan Willis impressive and contradicting. At first Jan says that Buddhism isn’t very hospitable to African-Americans, and after she gives an example that no matter where you come from, what religion background you have, if you practice you will be recognized and respected. However “leisure time and money” can be very useful to stimulate it.
The reading shows us how meditation can help us to get rid of stress, disappointment, frustration and many other negative emotions. Willis also highlights that Buddhism like any other religion has mismatches between its teaching and practices.
The reading shows us the attitude of Buddhists towards nature, animals, and the importance of caring about them, the impact of place on the meditation procedures. It was interesting how beautiful a sixty year old woman was described in the chapter of Sandy Boucher. It is surprising how open can be views of an older generation on homosexuality. Sandy explains us that as soon as women understand the connection among all of us, they don’t find the lesbian relationship weird.
Buddhism like Jewish and Muslim religions talks about woman’s hair as a very private part in a body. I actually totally agree with this. I was also impressed by the good, warm memories that are illustrated on page 205 toward childhood religion of the Buddhist woman. She doesn’t say that Buddhism is right or better, she just mentions Christianity in a good word, but stays a Buddhists woman. Her discussion about forgiveness, on the example of what was done to her in childhood by men, deserves to be learnt by everyone as a lesson how to forgive and forget. She says that it is not easy, but it worthies it. It makes your own life better.

Hooks talked about Loves power to erode the dualism found in our culture. She talked about how ten years ago when woman would have asked to be humble they would of argued they have been humble long enough. But now with more equality in our society, that call to be humble and let go of the ego is resonating with more and more woman. Chodron says that giving up the security we cling to is the only way to understand our limitations. And through these limitations we can be humble.
I found it interesting that most of the people drawn to Buddhism in America were white and middle or upper middle class. I wonder how much of this has to do with not finding satisfaction in material wealth, so they turn to a religion that teaches that wealth doesn’t bring happiness.
From these articles it seems that Buddhism doesn’t offer hope in an afterlife but instead offers a way to deal with the ups and downs of life. Victimhood is one thing that is talked about and that staying attached to the idea only brings misery letting go of it brings hope.
The most interesting thing I found was the variation in beliefs about the strictness of practicing the Buddhist religion. Chodron talked about how her teacher would use his position to sleep with his female students. This just seemed creepy. But then was the Rev Suhita who founded a center for the poor.
Hooks and Willis both talked about the need to heal and let go of the oppressions of the past. Letting go seemed to be the only way for the African American community to heal. Meditating and understanding divine visualization would bring the confidence needed for the community to heal.

What is the attraction to Buddhist practice by American women? I believe it has to do with the redefining of our social norms. Women are no longer (exclusively) expected to stay home and rear children while relinquishing their desires for their husband’s. We, as women, have more options—more choices—and as a result, we are putting to action our quest for meaning and purpose. For those that don’t feel the pull to marry or have children, and for those that do, conversely, there is an insatiable need to connect with others, to discover our inner selves, and to unfold the ‘mysteries’ of life and Buddhism is one way of doing that. I found one or more of these to be a common thread when reading this week’s articles. Also, another common thread was the quest for self-acceptance beyond the material world.

How can women benefit from Buddhist practice in spite of social difficulties that are a part of the human dimension of any religion? Well, it is because of these challenges that women can benefit from the teachings of Buddhism—it causes one to question, to explore, to rethink the existing constraints of one’s thinking. If to compare it to Christianity it’s the “die to self” teaching where we abandon our selfish needs (or attachments) in an attempt to connect to something more meaningful—whether that be an external God or an internal enlightenment (Buddha).

For me, what are some highlights or interesting things found? Pema Chodron’s article pointed out that “the habitual human pattern is to try to get rid of our own suffering by blaming it on someone else, or by blaming it on oneself [in an attempt to] make somebody wrong” (303) resignated with me; it is something that is so ingrained in our personal and social fabric that we often don’t recognize it’s occurrence. It’s the idea that we attach meaning to things, people, events, etc. in an attempt to find a “cure” where all we need is “healing”. I thought this was especially thought provoking and profound. Another idea that resignated with me was Thubten Chodron’s assertion that she is “committed to the spiritual path, not to an institution” (229) and this ties into the second question in that Buddhism as a spiritual path has many things to offer women in spite of the ‘institutions’ short-falls.

How is Buddhism helpful to bell hooks and Jan Willis? For Jan Willis, she claims that her tradition has afforded her “a methodology for enhancing [self] confidence” by transforming the “ordinary and limited perception of who we are” (85). It also has helped her reconcile the “trauma of slavery” by recognizing the indiscriminant act of suffering, thereby bridging the gap between races and allowing healing to take place. For bell hooks, it was the “call to move beyond dualisms” that spoke to her. It has given her the ability to discern whether internal or external action is required and has given her a “redemptive model” for overcoming victimization.

What, on the whole, do these writers feel is the attraction of Buddhist practice to contemporary American women?
The writers felt the attraction of Buddhist practice to contemporary American women for unconditional love and teaching that Pema Chodron talked about in her article. When she was depressed, there is no one to be found around her, at that time she met her teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and received blessing for her inner peace. Jan Willis mentioned that “Buddhism offer methodology for enhancing our confidence” (pg 85). As for Thupten Chodron, she was also brought coincide with the Vietnam War and the protests against racial and sexual discrimination (pg 223) and had many questions that she could not get any answers before she become a Buddhist nun. Tantric Buddhism offers some tools to help accomplish them to heal inner wound. Tantric Buddhism aims at nothing less than the complete transformation of our ordinary and limited perception of who we are as human being (pg 86).
How can women be able to benefit from Buddhist practice in the face of ongoing social difficulties (sexism being one of them) that are part of the human dimension of any religious organization with thousands of years of tradition?
Basically, all the religions are same in terms of dualism making good over bad choices. “Predictions from the time of the Buddha that say that the rules and regulations become emphasized over liberation or realization it is the sign of decline of Buddhism” (pg. 298). Buddha himself had written on the scripture that reflect that anyone including human, animals, insects, and etc have chance to become a Buddha. Thupten Chodron wrote in her article that “They point to the essence of being a human being with the potential to become a Buddha” (pg. 233). Pema Chodron mentioned that one of the advantages in Buddhism was that working with real issues and it will be more effective if it work together with in balance with psychotherapy. Gross mentioned about the “enlightenment” that everyone can achieve if you are ready to give up your materialism world, to detach from community, work, relationship, and family. In order to achieve that it did not say anything about the sexism.

For you, what were some of the highlights or things you found interesting about Buddhism that you learned from these articles?
Even I am a Buddhist; there are many things that I should learn from these writers. One thing, as for me American Buddhism has an advantage of asking questions or talk openly about the difficulties or doubts but Thupten Chodron described as challenge in her article (pg. 232) which can become a hindrance to practice Buddhism.
For the two African American women, bell hooks and Jan Willis, what do they articulate about how Buddhist practice is helpful to them in terms of their own traditions and their own situations as women of color in America? Do they have particular insights / concerns / unique experiences because of their situation as women of color?
Jan Willis mentioned that Buddhist centers in this country are not open to toward people of color (pg. 84). Early 1980s, there are not many foreign people who practice Buddhism in these developing countries which is very odd to see people of color who wanted to come to the Buddhist center.. Furthermore, one of the characteristic as Tibetan is conservative and does not like to engage with outsiders in term of their religious beliefs, their personal life and so on.
Now I admit that western people have more Knowledge about Buddhism than people who born as Buddhism. Willis also mentioned about her insight of helping other through her knowledge “Helpful for other African American women and other people of the color” pg (81). Buddhism teaching does not mention anything about the racism or socioeconomic differentiation as Willis claimed “The various form of Buddhism offered freely to Americans of all racial and economic back ground” (pg 90).
Hell hooks focus on contemplation and Transformation, as she mentioned about giving up your comfort in order to practice Buddhism. Hook also mentioned that “The willingness to surrender to attachment to duality” (289), which can transform your thinking as Dualities serve your own purpose (pg. 289).

What would you like to know more about regarding Buddhism? (If you get this posted before Pat Darling comes to talk to us on April 2, we can give her the questions you post.)
1. What do you think that more and more people becoming a Buddhist even though there is less population as compared to other religion in the United State?
2. After many western feminist wrote many articles about their experiences about Buddhism and arguments about their position in Buddhism. Did they able to renew anything in term of women’s position in Buddhism? Any changes regarding religious leader’s thoughts and opinions?

It said in the story that some Americans are attracted to Buddhist women since they are taught to learn a few things and know how to do them. Like n example of something they need to learn is how to love and have compassion, so according to the book, it says that Americans will like Buddhist women because of this. Another thing in there was that it shows to have confidence. I think this is reasonable to want someone with these traits. I would want to be with a person who is confident in what they want and what they believe in. The confidence the person has learned has to be through who she knows and who she has to met in the future. I think thats a great way to get confidence. By having the Tibetan Buddhists Jan was able to gain a lot of different information. There was a lot she had to watch and go through, but she remained herself and was peacefully and okay the whole time, which takes a lot I think. The two African women thought that the Buddhist practice was helpful to them as being African American and living in America. In the book it talked how African Americans may feel different because of the fact of slavery. I thought that was pretty cool, that that helped them as being African Americans and living in America. Both of the authors in the stories spoke about there not being enough colored Buddhist people in the religion. It also mentioned that Buddhist was mostly attracted towards people in the middle class and wealthy classes. I don’t think it should be towards a certain type of people since I don’t think God really cares what class you are. I was always told we are all the same no matter how much more you give or don’t give.

I have a friend that is Buddhist so a lot of my questions were answered that I have. I want to know about how they mediate and what they are doing the whole time they are doing it. I would also want to know more of the history of it and where it came from exactly. I don’t know how many people practice in the religion and what the percentage of Buddhist people take over the world. I can goggle this information or ask my friend to know more on it. I think it would be interesting to find out more on this topic.

On the whole, I think that the writers are attracted to Buddhism because of the wisdom and opportunity for personal improvement that the practice offers. Thubten Chodron makes it quite clear that she was drawn to Buddhism because of the insight it was able to present on the big questions in life. Thubten felt that “investigation and understanding, not blind faith, led to wisdom (p 224).” The Buddha’s teachings endorsed this kind of approach, he “encouraged us to ask questions and to accept things only when we understood them (p 224).” This sort of intellectual approach to practice seems to resonate with many people who want to improve themselves, and hope to impact those around them in a positive way, without the involvement of the debate of God and “saving” people from eternal damnation. In my experience, many Christians feel that “saving” people is the best way to “help” people; this may not come off as positive of an impact as many would hope.

Women can benefit from Buddhist practice regardless of social difficulties. Yes, it is apparent that sexism is present, but, there will always be some challenge or hurtle that we, as humans, have to face. Buddhism is all about learning how to decrease the suffering, no matter what the source. It is my impression that the goal is to improve quality of life, decrease suffering, and the pursuit of wisdom and serenity. With these goals, and the ever changing society, and different ways in which Buddhism is practiced; inevitably there will be improvement in the areas where there is conflict, unrest, and general difficulties.

Pema Chodron is really interesting to me. I kept thinking about the interview that we watched last week, and saw this article as just further explanation of her teaching. The idea of groundlessness and the pursuit of the Big Mind, is fascinating and a little confusing. I’m still going over it in my head, and I think I’d have to try some meditation, or at least have some quiet time to sort it out. I think I’d like to know what it feels like to “relax into the courage of living in the ambiguity (p298).” I liked the perspective about compassion. “Genuine compassion comes from the fact that you see your own limitations (p300).” I really think there is truth to the idea that we react/get angry/upset, at certain things because of something in us. I feel that it is a peaceful way to deal with conflict; to look inside ourselves and see why this particular thing is pushing a button, and to deal with that. We may not be able to fix everything around us, but we can control how we react to injustice/hate/violence.

Jan Willis and bell hooks both use Buddhism to help them deal with issues related to being an African American minority. Willis used Buddhist practice to facilitate confidence building by Yeshe’s teaching on tantra and divine self-visualization (p 86). Hooks discusses the need for people to build up their ego as well as increasing humility. She states that people can find healing by letting go of the attachment to being a victim. “Marginalized groups…cling to dualisms as a means of resistance….inverts the dualistic thinking that supports and maintains domination (p289).” The cycle of domination is hurtful, and finding self esteem to heal your ego, and finding humility to help you let go of a desire to dominate, can curve this behavior. She also helps the reader learn what to do with rage: “The point is not to give up rage, rather that we use it to deepen the contemplation to illuminate compassion and struggle (p 292).” I liked that statement, because they do not ask you to deny, or suppress your feelings, but to use them to make a difference for improvement.

Some contemporary American women who have sought liberation from oppression through the laws and principles of feminism and equality still find themselves struggling to find liberation from “the inner lack that binds them to the notion of being a victim” (291). They may find themselves still bound by feelings of rage, dysfunction in the family unit, emptiness not filled by material possessions. In Buddhist practice, some women have found the tools to overcome “this deep-seated sense of unworthiness that is potentially more life-threatening than structures of domination” (291). This also applies to feelings about racism, and explains the attraction discontent middle-class white people may have to the practice, as they find themselves psychologically dissatisfied despite having ample material possessions for physical comfort.

I think the very nature of Buddhist practice allows women to view sexist rituals or attitudes as an opportunity to find enlightenment or strengthen their resolve. Thubten Chodron describes this well as she explains how she used her practice to let go of her attachments and discomforts in several situations involving the sexist hierarchy of monastic life (232). Pema Chodron suggests an unexpected viewpoint in her discussion of the relationships between male teachers and their women students, which can include sexual come-ons, and she does not necessarily excuse the male teacher for potential inappropriateness but does seem to place the burden of managing the situation on the woman student’s shoulders. Having a background in mental health, I was always taught the “teacher” (counselor) has the burden of ensuring an appropriate interaction.

hooks and Willis both spoke of feeling isolated within a practice that values interconnectedness and using that awareness to enhance their own practice and help “stir changes in ritual and, perhaps more straightforward and honest behavior” (90) within American Buddhist organizations. As Willis points out, one is usually not aware they are being un-inclusive until the un-included points it out. hooks strives to make Buddhism more accessible to exploited or abused people who feel like they have nothing to give up and nothing to gain from Buddhist principles, so they may step outside of the psychology of domination, and realize they are more than their pain (291-292).

I had some trouble with Gross’s discussion on the attitudes people should take with family life. I agree parents should have lives outside of their children, and that it’s better for children to have stable, satisfied, somewhat detached parents rather than unstable, irrational parents who are totally focused on their children. I want a better understanding of Buddhist views on parenthood, child development and the family unit.

These articles reflect a wide range of perspectives of American women who have embraced Buddhist practice. They move away from primary concerns of inclusion and battling sexism to more exploration of the value of Buddhist practice. Respond to the following prompts in your reading reflection:
-- What, on the whole, do these writers feel is the attraction of Buddhist practice to contemporary American women?
I believe again we see people who have been un-happy with their own faith, whether it is because of oppression or just don’t believe what they have learned growing up or have questions without answers. I believe that Buddhism seems to have the most welcoming hand for women even though they are still put outside the circle.

-- How can women be able to benefit from Buddhist practice in the face of ongoing social difficulties (sexism being one of them) that are part of the human dimension of any religious organization with thousands of years of tradition?
In Buddhism it surrounds the idea of being at peace with yourself and the world. If we could reach the plateau we would have another way have handling our anger and stress. In the religion we have studied I do not seem to see another better way of handling these feelings. Our society is so centered another self the that we should express our feeling it is as if we moved to the extreme left.
-- For you, what were some of the highlights or things you found interesting about Buddhism that you learned from these articles?

-- For the two African American women, bell hooks and Jan Willis, what do they articulate about how Buddhist practice is helpful to them in terms of their own traditions and their own situations as women of color in America? Do they have particular insights / concerns / unique experiences because of their situation as women of color?
I think just the way bell hooks first line reads she uses her gender first and foremost to describe herself. Jan Willis speaks about how she her Buddhism to help other African Women. It was interesting when she spoke about the order of NSA how they meditate to receive worldly things which were confusing to me because I thought Buddhism was getting separated from the material world. It was amazing about reading about the great difference of people of color, and again this religion does not seem to be very welcoming. Regarding NSP I wonder if the reason it draw more people of color is because it is located in the inner city making it more available to everyone, or is it because of our human mind telling us that we are worthless because we don’t own anything material.

What, on the whole, do these writers feel is the attraction of Buddhist practice to contemporary American women? There are a few things in my opinion that attracted the writers to Buddhism. Love of family, a community, acceptance of others, no one right or wrong way, care of the earth and all its living creatures, and that some practices are simple. One thing that bell hooks writes about in her essay is it’s a living practice (I paraphrased it. Pg 290). It is a practice that one has to be present in, consciously aware all the time.
How can women be able to benefit from Buddhist practice in the face of ongoing social difficulties (sexism being one of them) that are part of the human dimension of any religious organization with thousands of years of tradition? On pg 291 bell hooks writes about one of her liberating moments, ‘I am more than my pain.’ She further wrote about Holocaust survivors talking about having to transcend all the death, pain and suffering that was around them. Ms. Hooks uses this to tie it into her life when she experiences racism. She is more than her pain. She acknowledges that it happened, gives it it’s name yet remembers she is more than its victim. I can only imagine that at times this was hard to put into practice. I can see where this would be beneficial for victims of abuse, among other things. For by choosing, (victims of abuse have to be reminded and shown they have choices.) to focus ones attention and thoughts on ‘I am moe than my pain’ change happens. One starts to heal, to forgive, and to love again.
-- For you, what were some of the highlights or things you found interesting about Buddhism that you learned from these articles? On pg 291 bell hooks writes about one of her liberating moments, ‘I am more than my pain.’ She further wrote about Holocaust survivors talking about having to transcend all the death, pain and suffering that was around them. Ms. Hooks uses this to tie it into her life when she experiences racism. She is more than her pain. She acknowledges that it happened, gives it it’s name yet remembers she is more than its victim. I can only imagine that at times this was hard to put into practice. I can see where this would be beneficial for victims of abuse, among other things. For by choosing, (victims of abuse have to be reminded and shown they have choices.) to focus ones attention and thoughts on ‘I am moe than my pain’ change happens. One starts to heal, to forgive, and to love again.

1.the major attractions to Buddhism to contemporary American women is mayb the answers that they get to their questions. In the quest of life people ar filled with questions that they are longing to be answered. When they find a religion in this case Buddhism that seems to give them that they get attracted. Also the fact that it teaches about love, self confidence and compassion. We live in a world where it is so hard to find among others these three things, so when one finds true religion that emphasizes that and practices they are easily and truly attracted to it.

Women can benefit from Bhuddism by their teachings and by how the people live. In the readings there were women who had struggled nad gone trough hard times but were able to come through and maintained peace through all that. This is very encouraging especially to women in times when a lot is going on, to fine peace in religion or a group of people.

For me the one thing that i found attractive is the fact that peace, and compassion among other things was reinforced. Also the togetherness was equally attractive. There seemed to be asense of transcending peace.

For the two women Bell and Hooks, they found an enhanced sense of self confidence. This is very important especially when you are a woman of color, because you have more struglles maybe than the next woma. Hence if you can find strength and confidence in yourself, you will have won part of the struggles.

I am a christian and maybe Buddhism seems a ways off, but when you are learning about their beliefs and practices, you realise that they do have some beliefs that are similar to what i belief. So I would like to know more about their beliefs like about death, life after death and salvation.