The Dharma of Gender

Rita M. Gross

in A Garland of Feminist Reflections

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780520255852
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943667 | DOI:
The Dharma of Gender

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This chapter explains a classic meditation practice in Vajrayana Buddhism, called the Mahamudra Investigations. It invites the meditator to search for the nature of unfettered mind. The meditator is instructed to search diligently, exhausting all possibilities, instead of concluding on the basis of knowledge of Buddhist doctrine that unfettered mind could not possibly be found in any of these places. This chapter raises the question of whether the mind has a gender. On the one hand, it could be contended, and often is contended in Buddhist traditions, that gender is obviously not relevant to discussions of unfettered mind, making it unnecessary to investigate whether the mind has a gender. Many systems of thought, including certain strands of feminism, have claimed that there are invariant traits or behaviors essential to each gender. Many traditional claims about what makes women inferior, such as their purported emotionalism and lack of rationality, are based on such gender essentialism.

Keywords: meditation practice; Mahamudra Investigations; Buddhist doctrine; Buddhist traditions; gender essentialism

Chapter.  5875 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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