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Past Treats of the Month


 

Autumn 1999 - Windhorse: A film about Tibetan human rights

The film Windhorse is the most recent big-screen release on the subject of Tibet.  While it is not explicitly a Buddhist film, Windhorse is a passionate and moving treatment of the lack of religious and human freedom endured by modern-day Tibetans living under Chinese occupation.  It focuses largely on the ethical dilemma of two women:   Dolkar, a young Tibetan woman who has forged a career for herself as a singer of Chinese pop, and her cousin Pema, who has followed a different path as a Buddhist nun.   The secondary characters include other memorable women, such as Dolkar's feisty elderly grandmother (who unwaveringly hates all Chinese), and Amy, a kind-hearted American tourist who befriends Dolkar's dissolute brother Dorjee.  The film follows all of them as their separate lives gradually converge towards a single fate.

Dolkar tends her cousin Pema (a nun who was imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese) in a scene from Windhorse

 

Nuns performing the Dakini Dance

Spring 1999 - Tibetan Nuns of Kathmandu - 1999 North American Tour

The Tibetan Buddhist nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal, presented Women’s Freedom and Spiritual Liberation:  An Evening of Sacred Performance in numerous cities across North America from April through December 1999.  The North American tour of the nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery marks the first time a troupe of Tibetan nuns has gone on tour in the West to stage performances of sacred art (sand mandalas), music, dance, theatre and debate, and to introduce audiences to the central role women have played in the spiritual life of Tibet.  A primary reason for this not-for-profit North American tour is to raise funds so that facilities can be expanded to accommodate the many women who are desperate to join the nunnery.

 

February 1999 - Who is Arya Tara?

The feminine aspect of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, known as the "Mother of All the Buddhas", Tara protects the welfare of all beings; those who are devoted to her are especially fortunate.  Thus begins Who is Arya Tara?, a lovely little webpage with plenty of links for further exploration of the story and practice of Tara the saviouress.

Who is Arya Tara?

 

Khyungchen Aro Lingma

October 1998 - The Aro gTér Tradition

The Aro gTér is a small family lineage within the Nyingma tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism which "emanates from a succession of enlightened women cuminating in the visionary genius of Khyungchen Aro Lingma (19986-1923) and her son Aro Yeshé.  The Aro gTér is a non-liturgical, non-monastic tradition which emphasizes the practice of dzog chen, the importance of integrating practice with everyday working life, sexual equality, and the spiritual dimension of romantic relationship and artistic creativity. Ngak'chang Rinpoche and his wife and teaching partner Khandro Déchen are the current holders of the Aro gTér lineage.  Somewhat rarely within Tibetan Buddhism, this tradition has a high number of female lineage-holders and teachers, as well as ordained and lay practitioners -- perhaps due to its non-monastic emphasis.

 

Summer 1998 - Theravadan Buddhist Women's Resources

Theravadan Buddhist Women's Resources is a new webpage created by Steve, webmaster of The Vipassana Page (a website dedicated to Theravada).  His women's resources page includes a magnificent archive of online Dhamma by Theravadan women authors, several online suttas containing teachings by women, and a lot of other inspiring reading.

Utpala lotus

 

Sakya Chao-Fei, Taiwanese nun, at an anti-nuclear demonstration

Summer 1998 - Daughters of the Buddha
"Daughters of the Buddha" in Chinese  

Daughters of the Buddha (now no longer available) took a personal look at the strong and committed community of ordained Buddhist women in "Kuan Yin's nunnery" - the island of Taiwan.  Including numerous colour photographs, this wonderful article was first printed in the January 1998 issue of Sinorama.  Chinese-speaking readers were also able to read it in GIF format or Big5 Chinese.

 

May 1998 - "Unity and Diversity" conference

"Unity and Diversity", the first North American conference on women and Buddhism, took place in Claremont, California from June 3-7.  There were plenary panels on Gender, Race, and Class; Genders and Sexualities; and Women's Ordination and Nunneries.  Workshop topics included:  Asian and Asian American women in Buddhism, Buddhism and human rights, engaged Buddhism, feminism and Buddhism, recent scholarship on Buddhist women, relations between teacher and disciple, and women as Buddhist teachers.  The conference was hosted by Sakyadhita and the Claremont Colleges.

Sakyadhita conference

 

Jiyu-Kennett Roshi

May 1997 - Memories of Roshi Jiyu-Kennett

The May/June issue of Stillpoint, the marvellous on-line newsletter of the Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon, includes "Memories of Roshi Jiyu-Kennett by women who were touched by her life", a marvellous tribute to this great woman and teacher.   One of the first Western-born Zen Masters, Jiyu-Kennett founded the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (Soto Zen), and several centres including Shasta Abbey in California and Throssel Hole Priory in England.   Several lengthier portraits of Jiyu-Kennett, such as "On the Arrangement of Shoes" and "Memories of Jiyu-Kennett Roshi", can be found in the March/April issue.

 

April 1997 - The Magic Life of Milarepa by Eva van Dam

Eva van Dam is a Dutch artist and illustrator who lived for several years in Nepal, where she studied the iconography of Tibetan religious art.  The Magic Life of Milarepa is an online, abbreviated version of her delightful illustrated book on the extraordinary life of Milarepa, Tibet's most renowned Buddhist saint.  (This image-packed site uses frames and takes ages to download, but it's worth the wait!)

Eva van Dam

 

Aung San Suu Kyi March 1997 - Aung San Suu Kyi

"Burma's Gandhi", the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is possibly the best-known example of a woman devoted to the principles of engaged Buddhism.   See Free Burma's excellent webpage dedicated to her, as well as Suu Kyi's thoughts on Buddhism, powerlessness and freedom in interview with the Shambhala Sun.

 

February 1997 - The Tale of Kisa Gotami

To my mind the story of Kisa Gotami is one of the most moving stories to be found in the Buddhist canon.  Kisa Gotami, a young woman distraught with grief, approaches Sakyamuni Buddha ... begging him to restore the life to her dead baby.  The Buddhist equivalent of the Lazarus tale -- with a very different ending.  The original story (from which  our illustration comes) is no longer on the Web.  If anyone knows of any good versions of this story on the Web, please e-mail me at waibsite@yahoo.com.

Kisa Gotami

 

Jetsun Ahkon Lhamo January 1997
"Motivation - Those Who Have Hopes of Us"

A beautiful Dharma teaching on what moves us to practise, whether we're new or 'old' students.  A talk by Jetsunma Ahkön Norbu Lhamo, the American-born resident teacher of Kunzang Palyul Chöling in Maryland.

 

December 1996
The Tara Page

Dedicated to the female Buddha of Compassion according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  Exquisite images and prayers on this page by Richmond Puntsog in Singapore.  This site, too, has vanished.  A meditation on impermanence!

Tara statue

 

Looking for Nirvana November 1996
Looking for Nirvana by Diana Winston

Engaging reflections by a young writer in San Francisco on integrating Dharma practice into daily life.   This is one cool site, with many dazzling illustrations.


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