Buddhism and Women - Jan Willis
Our new series starts this autumn:
Gender, Identity & Spirituality
Wherever you look, on TV, online or nearby, heated discussions are going on all around us. The subject doesn't seem to matter that much, it’s quickly about who can and cannot speak out, about who is or is not heard. About who can participate and who is excluded.
Until we have trained our minds, we all tend to divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. We select futile individual characteristics to distinguish between ‘us and them’, or we use an imaginary order - something that is only perpetuated because we believe in that particular story. Even though these distinctions are not reflected in the world, we act upon these perspectives and thereby they do have real -often devastating- consequences.
What actually determines what the ‘I’ is and how does that relate to ‘us’?
What exactly is ‘us’? And ‘them’?
Why identity? Weren’t we the group that posits selflessness?
The Buddha spoke of letting go of grasping onto individual or group identity and embracing our fellow humanity. About equanimity and loving kindness towards all living beings. In short: enlightenment is something you do together. Also -perhaps especially- with those who are ‘not-us’, those beings who act in a way that we find horrific or who think we have no right to speak. How do you handle that without becoming passive towards injustice, or look away under the guise of ‘all being one’?
What about ‘us’, anyway? Do we exclude people? Which us/them plays among Buddhist practitioners and between the different traditions? And what about 'our' Tibetan tradition?
These are uncomfortable questions and that is why we do Darshan: we visit the sages. Or rather, the wise visit us: every month a guest teacher will help us explore different perspectives on identity, inclusivity and exclusion. These teachers come from different spiritual traditions and from the academic world. We will examine ideas and especially our own hearts and minds to explore how we relate to ourselves, to ‘us’ and to others who fall outside that ‘we’ category.
We will start the series close to home, with ‘us’ and ‘them’ based on characteristics that are quite trivial in the context of social functioning, but that have significant consequences for the way people are viewed in the world: gender.
September 21, 19.00 - 21.30 hrs
Gender, Identity and Spirituality
Bee Scherer - Professor, Faculty of Religion and Theology at VU, Director Incise
October 19, 19.00 - 21.30 hrs
Buddhism and Women
Jan Willis - Professor Emerita of Religion at Wesleyan University
Suggested donation 25 euro per evening, both onsite and online. Please register beforehand through the button on the right (will be added soon). More information: firstname.lastname@example.org.