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Lenore Friedman and Susan Moon
Being Bodies; Buddhist Women on the Paradox of Embodiment
Boston, Shambhala Publications, 1997.

When my health went south, I found that the beauty in my garden sustained me spiritually. I have a passionate relationship with my garden. The plants, the place, and I have been learning together how to embody wonder — how to en-garden it.

The nourishment I have received from this mystery: relationship to the earth, to beauty — is one of the main problems I have with the negative attitude toward embodiment that I often find in traditional Buddhism.

But hatred & disgust are not non-attachment! So some — notably western women — are re-visioning this.

Being Bodies is a substantial contribution: challenging and heartening. Thirty-five women have contributed to the collection, grouped in five parts:

Body as Suffering

  • Joan Iten Sutherland, "Body of Radiant Knots"
  • Darlene Cohen, "The Only way I Know of to Alleviate Suffering"
  • Joan Tollifson, "Enjoying the Perfection of Imperfection"
    - "It is in fully meeting whatever appears as pure sensation (without interpretation) that we discover the emptiness of form — the undivided wholeness of being that has no solidity, no boundaries, no limits —that which no word or image can capture, in which every thing is included." (p. 19)
  • Barbara Gates, "A Mama Raccoon in the Net of Indra"
  • Barbara Brodsky, "No Eye, Ear, Nose...
  • Katherine Thanas, "Hearing the Voice of the Body"
  • Naomi Newman, "About Death"

Body as Nature

  • Kuya Minogue, "Running the Bush"
  • Linda Chrisman, "Birth"
  • Connie Batten, "Midlife Sacrament"
  • Lenore Friedman, "Aging as a Russian Doll"
  • Helena Norberg-Hodge "Our Body and Our Economy"
    - "It is the acceptance of connection that our body teaches us, and that our society so often denies. We must trust our interconnectedness and reweave the fabric of meaning through relationship." (p.82)

Body as Gender

  • Fran Tribe, "Piecing Together a Life"
    "I will never fit my teacher's image of a priest any more than I fit my mother's image of a proper daughter. I need all the pieces of myself to make a life that hangs together." (p.93)
  • Rita M.Gross, "Anger and Meditation"
  • Linda Ruth Cutts, "Breaking through the Concrete"
  • Jisho Warner, "What Do Lesbians Do in the Daytime?"
  • Maylie Scott, "Celibate"

Body as Vehicle

  • Bobby Rhodes, "Bowing to the Great Mirror"
  • Ruth Zaporah, "Dance: A Body with a Mind of Its Own"
  • Phyllis Pay, "Meeting Vajrayogini"
  • Anne C. Klein, "Grounding and Opening"
    - "We have hardened the internal mind-body boundary as well as the boundary between ourselves and the outside." As a result, "we are "less present, less grounded, less available to ourselves, to to others, and to the powerful currents of the practices we undertake."(p. 146) (And what to do about this.)
  • Casey Hayden, "Body on the Line"
    - The common factor between her nonviolent activism and her Buddhist practice.
  • Michele Martin, "On the Other Side of Attachment"
    - Chod: seeing your body as a corpse — a practice for releasing attachment to your body.
  • Pema Chodron," Three Methods for Working with Chaos"

Body as Self

  • Jan Chozen Bays, "Embodiment"
  • Michele McDonald-Smith, "Of Mud and Broken Windows" Emotional healing as a necessary part of meditation practice.
  • Toni Packer and Lenore Friedman, "Tracking the Two Bodies"
  • China Galland, "The Formless Form: Buddhism and the Community of Recovery"
  • Linda Hess, "Craving"
    - Excerpts from her journal on compusive overeating. "I began to see addiction as the whole problem of human life, the cause of suffering that the Buddha tried to help people understand." (p. 197)
  • Furyu Nancy Schroeder and Grace Dammann, "A Conduit for Love: Adopting a Positive Daughter"
  • Julie Henderson, "Tulku"
  • Susan Moon, "The Lonely Body"
    - "If we're going to transcend separateness, we've got only our bodies to do it in. But this is increasingly difficult in our Western culture, because we are so alienated from our bodies." (p. 228)
  • Charlotte Joko Beck, "Our Substitute Life"

One unfortunate gap: there's no discussion of sexuality.

15 November 2000