Sex, Power, and Conflict

James-William Coleman

in The New Buddhism

Published in print May 2002 | ISBN: 9780195152418
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849314 | DOI:
Sex, Power, and Conflict

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This chapter examines the issues of sex and power in Western Buddhism. Buddhism entered the West during a time of growing spiritual thirst, but Western society lacked the cultural matrix necessary to evaluate the claims and the behavior of the teachers working to quench that thirst. In Asia, everyone knows how Buddhist teachers are supposed to behave, and someone who violates those expectations is likely to be viewed with a skeptical eye. Many of the problems that have surfaced in the West can be traced to the lack of the cultural background necessary to provide Buddhist centers and their students and teachers a framework to guide and evaluate their endeavors. But the spread of Buddhism and other forms of spirituality new to the West are inevitably laying the foundation for a cultural matrix that may eventually turn these kind of difficulties into self-limiting problems. The most important transformation Buddhism has undergone, and the one that seems most likely to be a permanent fixture in the West, has been the growing power of women and the trend toward full gender equality.

Keywords: sex; power; Western Buddhism; Buddhists; women; gender equality

Chapter.  18307 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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