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Record Type: Review   ID: 710

Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism

Gross, Rita M.

 The author is eminently qualified to write this book because she is not only a feminist scholar specializing in Buddhism, but she is a Buddhist meditator and practitioner. She used both personal experience and scholarly knowledge in writing the book. She says she works "simultaneously both as an insider and outsider. I see no conflict in this method; rather, it is a complete and well-rounded approach" (p. 5). This abstract is best completed by again quoting Gross, who succinctly describes the book’s aim: "My primary task in this book is a feminist revalorization of Buddhism. In feminist theology in general, the task of ‘revalorization’ involves working with the categories and concepts of a traditional religion in the light of feminist values. This task is double-edged, for, on the one hand, feminist analysis of any major world religion reveals massive undercurrents of sexism and prejudice against women, especially in realms of religious praxis. On the other hand, the very term "revalorization" contains an implicit judgment. To revalorize is to have determined that, however sexist a religious tradition may be, it is not irreparably so. Revalorizing is, in fact, doing that work of repairing the tradition, often bringing it much more into line with its own fundamental values and vision than was its patriarchal form. My strategies for this revalorization involve first studying Buddhist history and then analyzing key concepts of the Buddhist worldview from a feminist point of view. Utilizing the results of those studies, I finally pursue a feminist reconstruction of Buddhism" (p. 3). In essence, her aim in revisioning Buddhism is the aim implicit in exceptional human experience: the sacred is not outside or beyond the secular world. The secular world is the sacred. - R.A.W.
Publisher Information:Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993. 366p. Bibl: 339-356; Chap. notes: 319-338; Index: 357-365
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