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Anne Carolyn Klein

Meeting the Great Bliss Queen; Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self
Boston: Beacon Press, 1995
The Great Bliss Queen is Yeshey Tsogyel, a historic woman acknowledged as a Buddha ("awakened one"). What makes her relevant to feminists, Klein says, is her unique contribution to Buddhist theory of the self: she was the first person to say that the path of struggle to develop oneself / to grow spiritually / to discipline the mind, and the apparently contradictory path of letting go / discovering one's essential nature / authentic spontaneity, are two sides of the same coin, and necessary to each other.
Feminists, Klein observes, have been split by a similar dichotomy between "postmodern" analyses of the self as a cultural construct, and "essentialist" theory drawing on "an empowering sense of being clearly located within one's own mind and body." The Great Bliss Queen gives us an image and a path of healing this dichotomy, grasping it as a living paradox, grokking it as a koan--and being nourished thereby.
Note in particular her discussion of "collateral coherence," her term for the "centering associated with mindfulness." This effect of Buddhist practice is another powerful tool not available [as far as I have found] in Western philosphy, psychology or theology. When I read it I realized why vipassana is more meaningful to me than anything else I have done in 35 years of active spiritual work.
Other recommended reviews of this book:
    • Review from Philosophy East & West, Vol. 46 No.2 (Apr 1996), pp.295-296.
      (no author credited)
      - A brief general review, but more complete than mine.
    • Review by Brian Karafin of Ithaca College, from the Journal of Buddhist-Christian Studies Vol. 19 No.1 (1999) pp. 227-232
      - A critical review, in depth; gives background of the subject and analysis of Klein's argument.
© Copyright Catherine Holmes Clark 1996; last updated 27 Feb 2001