Nowhere that is not a Wisdom Hall

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I still recall, how with my bag on a pole,

I forgot my yesterdays,

Wandering the hills, played in the waters,

went to the land of the clouds.

The lift of an eyebrow, the blink of an eye–

all of it is samadhi;

In this great world there is nowhere that is

not a wisdom hall.

~ Ziyong

 

This poem by the 18th century Chinese nun, Ziyong, provided the anchor for the faculty commencement speech I gave this year the Naropa University.  I spoke about the lessons I learned from a climbing accident I barely survived in 1979. It taught me to look for the wisdom in every moment!  Please check it out by clicking on: 12 minute speech

In gratitude,

Deborah

P.S. I took this photo at Wat Arun in Bangkok.  He reminds me of the joy of living.

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The Female Buddha book

The Female Buddha book

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The Floating Market: Mindful Beauty

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Mindfulness enables us to cultivate a different quality of attention, one where we relate to what we see before us not just as an echo of the past or a foreshadowing of the future, but more as it is right now.  Here too we find the power of kindness because we can connect to things as they are.                                    ~ Sharon Salzberg

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Sharon’s quote brings us to the here and now.  We can see the beauty in simple things, the fruits of our labor and the tranquility of rest.  I was struck by these images in at the floating market, a place where chaos can seem to reign until you notice the details.

Each individual paddling her or his boat was attentive in the crowded canal to every other person and their needs.  The boats full of fruit or vegetables were objects of art, the empty boats like fallow fields. I felt blessed to be brought to moments of contemplation in the bustle of the market place.

IMG_4653Thank you for your continued support and subscriptions to Follow the Female Buddha.

Best wishes in the New Year,

Deborah

www.thefemalebuddha.com 

Enlightened Women of the Therigatha

Therigatha Altar

Therigatha Altar

There are women teachers everywhere.  It is for me to recognize and acknowledge this fact.

China Galland

The hand formed clay figures above represent the 12 women who were recognized by the Buddha for having exceptional skills and enlightenment.  They are known as Therigatha, or women elders in the early Buddhist tradition.  These figures were made by the Venerable Dhammananda, the abbess of the Songdhammakalyani monastery for women in Thailand.

I had the delight and honor to spend 3 days practicing and photographing the nuns at the monastery.  The clay figures were one of the priceless finds on the altar in one of the temples where we practiced meditation.

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Below are just a few of the photographs from The Female Buddha book on sale for the Holiday season at 40% off.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE

Watermoon Guanyin, Sanyi, Taiwan

Guanyin at Wat Pho

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Generosity on this Path of Love

Chinese Statue at Wat Arun, Bangkok

Chinese Statue at Wat Arun, Bangkok

Together on this path of love, we can try to make a small difference in someone’s life.  What else is there to do?

Sister Chan Khong

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I’m in China this month studying and practicing at Putuoshan, an island dedicated to Guanyin since the last millennium.  My husband and I received generous scholarships from a Chinese and American organization and are grateful for the opportunity to share our experience when we return.

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Concentration: Returning the Market Place

Bangkok Floating Market 1

Bangkok Floating Market 1

My mind has three qualities: concentration, equanimity and loving kindness.  That’s it.

Dipa Ma

In a famous Zen proverb, one returns to the market place after the work of enlightenment. One brings the skills he or she has developed back into the world.  These women at the floating market south of Bangkok reminded me of this proverb.  Tourists are brought in hordes to this place yet the people marketing their wares go about their business with a calm and concentration that is notable.  It may not be enlightenment but I witnessed something we do not observe in many parts of the world; a people at peace with the bustle about them.

I went to photograph the floating market several years ago during a trip to Bangkok and was first horrified by the insane tourist “scene.”  It was only when I got inside the crammed water course that I began to notice the remarkable individuals in their boats and by the riverside.  What a delight  trying to capture their dignified essence!  I was lucky they were happy to ignore another curiosity seeker with her clicking camera.

Bangkok Floating Market

Bangkok Floating Market

Bangkok Floating Market 2

Bangkok Floating Market 2

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The Female Buddha book

The Female Buddha book

At a reduced price at Amazon now!

Vietnamese Temple: Male and Female Spiritual Icons

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“I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon.  That is the secret.  Start right now. ”

Sister Chan Khong

I choose this quote by the foremost disciple Thich Nhat Hanh to match the photograph I took in a Vietnamese temple in the middle of Bangkok.  I noticed the colorful exterior and wandered into the grounds to be met by a kindly young monk who spoke enough English to describe its Vietnamese origins.  He invited me to explore the temple and went back to his work.

The figures in the photo are among many on an elaborate altar that include a possible Taoist warrior and a praying figure that may represent the Buddha or the monk that brought Buddhism to China.  The female icon in the background is not identified but may represent one of the Chinese female deities commonly seen in temples in Vietnam.

Below are two of the several statues of Guanyin in this temple and an unidentified Bodhisattva image in the background.  Discovering female images in temples in Thailand is unusual and I was delightfully surprised to stumble upon a Mahayana temple in the heart of Bangkok.

Guanyin

Guanyin

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A third wonderful book review from Buddhist Art News.   http://buddhistartnews.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/book-review-the-female-buddha/  

The Monk and the Woman: Greatness is not related to Gender

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Being a great human being is not related to gender, it depends on caring about the well-being of all our fellow sentient beings.

Wu Yin

This photo was taken in the amulet market in downtown Bangkok.  The monk is looking at a ring with an inscribed Buddha figure while a woman in the background looks on.  What a lucky shot with the purple and orange colors reiterating in their clothing and her hair.

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Please read my latest article on Celebrating the Divine Feminine in elephant journal.

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www.thefemalebuddha.com

The Feminine and Birth of the Buddha

In Thailand it is very difficult to find female imagery in a traditional temple.   These figures are at Wat Arun, one of the oldest and most revered temple in Bangkok.  Wat Arun was built to evoke Mount Meru, a famous spiritual mountain said to be the center of the universe.  Very steep steps lead up its spire with niches where statues portray important stories from the Buddha’s life.

At his birth it was said that the Buddha stood up, took seven steps and pointing to the heavens and the earth, declared himself  to be the “world honored one.”

While the story is laden with the mythology of India, significant to this depiction are the two female figures on each side of him.  Are they his mother and aunt, the former giving him birth and the latter raising him after his mother died seven days following his birth?  If this were true both women play significant roles in the history of Buddhism. His aunt, Mahaprajapati became a follower of the adult Buddha, organized the first sangha of women nuns and reached enlightenment through her practice and study.

I’d love to know more about this lovely work of art.  The women could be guardian figures or dieties known as asuras associated with Mount Meru. I am so happy to have found it and invite anyone with more scholarly information to share what you know.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ENLIGHTENED WOMEN

CLICK HERE to receive The Female Buddha book and other lovely gifts with you donation to our Indiegogo campaign.

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The Indiegogo campaign has raised 91% of it’s goal so far and your timely donation now offers the opportunity to receive gifts by Christmas. These include signed copy of the Female Buddha book, lovely notecardsphotographs, a workshop, consulting or other generous rewards for your donations.

Please join us today in bringing her quotes and photographs to an audience eager for her wisdom, compassion and beauty. check her out!

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Be the Lotus: Emerging From the Mire

Lotus Buds

Don’t you know that afflictions are nothing more

than wisdom?

And that the purest of blossoms emerges from

the mire?

  Benming

Lotus Buds, Flower Market, Bangkok, Thailand

The lotus represents the interdependent nature of samsara and nirvana, or suffering and enlightenment. Blooming out of the muck and mire of worldly existence into a pure, beautiful flower, the lotus blossom represents the enlightened mind.  The lotus bud symbolizes inner purity and our potential to awaken at any moment.

Lotus Bud Bouquets, Flower Market, Bangkok, Thailand

The lotus buds have begun to open and will be bought by individuals and families to offer at temple sites through out Bangkok.
Mother and Daughter offering Lotus Flowers

Mother and Daughter Offerings, Wat Phra Kaeo, Bangkok

These two women offer individual lotus blossoms, incense and candles at an altar to Guanyin within the Royal Palace complex in Bangkok.  The presence of Guanyin figures at sites in Thailand is seen in large cities where Chinese practitioners also come to visit. Guanyin is becoming an important figure for a growing number of Thai women.

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Dear friends,

The Female Buddha book is available this Christmas!

You can receive a signed gift copy by donating through the Indigogo Campaign beginning Nov 1. through Dec 7.  Other valuable gifts include notecards, photographic prints and a weekend workshop in February.

Go to www.thefemalebuddha.com to see the offerings. Be the first to receive a book  and support a great cause.

Yours most appreciatively, Deborah

P.S. don’t miss the Discovering the Female Buddha slide presentation and lecture in Boulder on Fri, Nov 2, 7 – 9 pm.  READ MORE

Deborah Bowman with Guanyin statue

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see more images at www.thefemalebuddha.com  or  www.luminousbuddha.com

Guanyin: One with Nature

Guanyin on a Lion

Sit like a mountain. Sit with a sense of strength and dignity.  Be steadfast, be majestic, be natural and at ease in awareness.  No matter how many winds are blowing, no matter how many clouds are swirling, no matter how many lions are prowling, be intimate with everything, and sit like a mountain.

                                                                      Sharon Salzberg

Sitting on a Lion, Marble Mountain, Vietnam

Outside the Marble Mountain caves many large sculptures of Guanyin stand along the roadside, commissioned by temples or waiting for potential buyers.  This fifteen-foot sculpture shows her in the royal ease posture, calmly sitting on the back of a ferocious lion, confident and at one with all of life.

Guanyin and Parrot, Phouc An Hoc Quan Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Carrying Guanyin’s beads, the parrot flying next to Guanyin vowed to forever accompany her after she relieved him of consuming grief after the death of his mother.  He has become a symbol of filial piety, an attitude of deep respect towards one’s parents and ancestors. In most depictions the parrot is white and in a few tales the parrot represents Guanyins loyal husband.

Horse Mounted Guanyin, Wat Indravihan, Bangkok, Thailand

Guanyin is depicted in meditation posture on the back of a horse, her power in harmony with the natural world.  She tames and subdues dangerous outer circumstances as well as painful inner emotions run amok.  Behind her is a framed image of Guanyin with squares of gold leaf placed on her in acts of loving devotion by visiting practitioners.

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Don’t miss…..

DISCOVERING THE FEMALE BUDDHA:  The Heart of Liberation and Love

by Deborah Bowman, Ph.D.

  Slide Presentation & Lecture:   Fri., Nov. 2, 2012
    7  – 9 p.m.

Sponsored by Boulder Friends of Jung  $15.00

The First Congregational Church, 1128 Pine Street  
Boulder, CO 80302

On the altar of the most visited temple in Taipei sits a fire-haloed Guanyin, one hand holding a sacred scroll and the other in a teaching gesture. A few years ago, I photographed her among a throng of worshipers hoping to add her to my book.

Over twenty years ago, I had a dream of walking in a garden surrounded by three immense sculptures of female Buddhas. My dream has manifest in ways I never would have imagined.

Pursuing her image across Eastern Asia, I’ve discovered she is the representation of wisdom and compassion in several countries. In Vietnam, when asking directions to the temples of Guanyin, people would say, “you mean the female Buddha?”  This is when I was inspired to entitle my book, The Female Buddha.

Looking at Guanyin through the lens of Jungian psychology, we see a feminine figure distinct in her all-knowing capacity and power to transform through lovingkindness. She is a guiding light, completely free yet thoroughly relational. In this slide presentation, we will look at her unique iconography and well as the evolution of Guanyin throughout history and what she means to us today.

Deborah Bowman, Ph.D. is a psychologist, photographer and professor of Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at Naropa University. She has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for 25 year and is a trainer with the Boulder Psychotherapy Institute. She is author of When Your Spouse Comes OutThe Luminous Buddha and The Female Buddha.

Deborah Bowman with Guanyin statue

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see more images at www.thefemalebuddha.com  or  www.luminousbuddha.com