Awakened Woman: The freedom of letting go

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The awakened woman emerges from the chrysalis of her own inner resources.  She is established in freedom, she manifests her freedom in the celebration of her interconnectedness with all of life.

Christina Feldman

These dancers are practicing a sequence of a dance routine at Colorado University. I used this photo from a class I took on photography to illustrate an idea of letting go in a TedxBoulder talk I gave last week.  Here is a brief quote from the talk:

We need examine our failings and our fears and then let them go.  May all of us, you and I, be a bucket full of lessons, overflowing with wisdom and love.

Christina’s quote seems to also illustrate the freedom, interconnectedness and celebration of the dancer in trusting the process of letting go!

The link to my Tedx talk should be available soon.  I can’t wait to send it to you!

Deborah

Anita Hill is a Bodhisattva: Quote and Book Review

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We must all understand that there is great merit in sacrificing for others and that by so doing we live the full life.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Aung San Suu Kyi is considered a bodhisattva in her country.  I would consider Anita a bodhisattva in the USA.  Both have led full lives of compassionate giving.  Below is my book review of Hill’s book from goodreads.

Anita Hill tells her story with courage and heart. Her incise arguments to every sexist and racist claim made against her had me riveted. Her stories were both moving and offered insight into several generations of an African-American family meeting degradation with strength and unrelenting dignity. The recent documentary film, Anita, is a great compliment to her writing and helps us understand the tenor of the Hill-Thomas hearing of 1991 by the power of it’s visual impact. We also have the opportunity to see the continuation of her impactful work against sexual harassment two decades after the event. Although the book was published in 1998, I found it vital in describing a historical event, Anita Hill speaking truth to power, that has changed the lives of women worldwide.

The Patience of a Mother

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Patience takes courage.  It is not an ideal state of calm.  In fact, when we practice patience we will see our agitation far more clearly.

Pema Chodron

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I took these photos at the Denver Botanical Gardens several years ago when there was a show of African Sculpture in the Gardens.  This figure was one of my favorites.  The top photo shows the mother and the bottom photo shows her two children leaning against her large figure.

The quote from Pema reminded me of her patience and eternal support for her children, something the stone sculpture seems to reinforce. And what patience demonstrated by the artist!

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The Female Buddha book

The Female Buddha book

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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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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Tara: The Spirituality of Wrath

Wrathful Tara

Wrathful Tara

When we begin to accept that our anger and grief are as valid sources of learning as our quietness and detachment, we begin to accept ourselves, to heal our selves and to transform ourselves.

Christina Feldman

In the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism Tara is a beloved figure of compassion.  Her wrathful energy is understood to serve others and to cut through to truth.  In this form she is a protector and uses her energy wisely.

Tara is one of the few female figures of divinity that shows a full range of expression.  The figure above is from the Tara Mandala in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  She is one of 21 Tara figures, each one with a specific expression and meaning.  Her hand is in a teaching  mudra and a Vajra emanates from her arm.  The Vajra is a symbol of discriminating awareness and represents a thunderbolt.

Tara’s wisdom is expressed through the clarity and strength of a thunderbolt.  Imagine a mother tiger protecting her young, ready to pounce if necessary.  Her kindness is as powerful and direct.  She teaches us to appreciate our emotions and channel our passions as devotion to others.

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Click on the link below to view my talk on The Female Buddha at Boulder Bookstore, 2013:

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http://www.thefemalebuddha.com

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!

Light of Consciousness: Journal of Spiritual Awakening

Light of Consciousness Magazine

Light of Consciousness Magazine

This wonderful magazine, Light of Consciousness, has a five page article, including seven photos, that I wrote on Visions of The Female Buddha.  Please check it out!

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Learning to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important.  The reason it’s important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering.  We’re discovering the universe.

Pema Chodron.

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Kindness: A nun in Taiwan

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We need to remember that most of practice can be summed up in kindness.

Charlotte Joko Beck

I feel blessed to include this photo in my book, The Female Buddha: Discovering the Heart of Liberation and Love.  My host in Taiwan, Venerable Jenkir Shih, is pictured on the right with one of her elder students from one of her classes on Buddhism.  She brought me with her to visit this lovely woman after the death of her husband.  Many family members gathered for the visit with Ven. Jenkir and I was treated to the warmth of an extended Chinese family honoring a loved one.

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If you are in Boulder don’t miss my book signing at the Boulder Bookstore, Weds, Apr 24, 7:30 – 8:30.  I will be presenting a slideshow of photos from the book and talking about the quotes from women teachers that accompany the photos.

In Vietnam with Guanyin

Deborah Bowman in a temple in Hoi An, Vietnam

Poetry of Women Chinese Chan Masters: Ziyong

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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

I took this photo at the monastic center of the Luminary Order of nuns in Taipei on the first day I arrived in the country.  This order has been described by American scholars as a “quiet” feminist center of activity.  During the five days I spent in Taiwan they guided me to sites where miracles occurred at or near Guanyin statues.      You can read more about the rise of Guanyin East and West in my new article in elephant journal on Celebrating the Divine Feminine.

The poet Ziyong was a Chinese Buddhist nun in the 18th century and an exceptional poet.  This poem was written on her year off from intense practice, teaching and administrative duties as the abbess of numerous monastic sites.  During her time off she wandered the countryside and mountains as her poem suggests.

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Last weekend a gathering of 12 women joined me in contemplating other poems and verses of the wise women of the Buddhist tradition.  We meditated, made art and shared tender stories of our own struggles, insights and awakenings.  The time together at this Female Buddha workshop was declared “Transformational!”  Please stay in touch for the next workshop announcement at http://www.thefemalebuddha.com.

Books available at www.thefemalebuddha.com or www.amazon.com

Book imageAvailable at www.thefemalebuddha.com or www.amazon.com