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Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka, eds.

To review: these books are ones I'm eager to get, or on my shelf waiting to be read, or that I've read and am trying to get time to write about.

The Faces of Buddhism in America
Berkeley, University of California Press: 1998.

"Contains sixteen essays by different authors, along with an introduction by Charles Prebish and an epilogue by Kenneth Tanaka. The essays are divided into two parts, the first designed to provide general information about Buddhist traditions in America and the second addressing thematic issues."

"[Rita] Gross considers the abuses of power especially sexual misconduct by male teachers in American Buddhist centers, then suggests a model for authority appropriate for Western Buddhism. Because Gross is a disciple of the late Chogyam Trungpa, as well as one of the most notable scholars of women and Buddhism, she is well-suited for taking
on such a subject. Gross is reluctant to condemn all sexual interactions between teacher and student, as long as they are not coercive or abusive. She cautions against expecting gurus to be perfect, to be authorities on all issues, or to be models for the student in all aspects of his or her life. Further, she argues, women who have been in sexual relationships with their male teachers should not be seen as victims, but as agents and adults making their own moral decisions. The model of authority that she proposes is one in which a community operates according to a 'natural hierarchy,' with each person fulfilling different roles that seem suited to him or her and functioning at different levels in the hierarchy at different times. How such an idea would work in concrete situations and how roles are determined to be 'naturally' suitable to particular individuals something that could be quite sensitive in any community is left somewhat vague; nevertheless, this is a potentially productive model for a more egalitarian sangha structure."

-- David L. McMahan; see his whole review: PDF format; HTML format.

© copyright Catherine Holmes Clark, 2001; last updated 12 December 2001