Skip to main content

Dogen Practiced for His Mother and Aunt

Investigating what makes issues around patriarchy alive for me I found this again:

"It is not enough for us to be “good guys”. It is not enough to personally refrain from exploiting women. It is not enough for us to be personally conscientious and respectful to women. It is not enough to maintain equality in our own relationships with women. While all of those things are important, abstaining personally from outright oppressive behavior doesn’t challenge patriarchy as a system of power. Basic decency commands that we work alongside women to uproot and dismantle this entire patriarchal system– within ourselves, within our groups and communities, and within institutions and the culture at large." 

-Guidelines for Male Allies from Deep Green Resistance

The institution I am a part of is women lead; My practice leader is Meiya Wender and I am Anja for the Abbess, Linda Ruth Cutts. The Ino is Carolyn. The Tenzo is Steph. The director is Sara. The head of guest services is Anna. Head of grounds is Sukey. Fu leads this practice period. All of these great strong women inspire me to do more than be a "good guy." 

I'm speaking out for my sisters, my wife, my mothers and grandmothers, both victims of domestic violence (my grandmother was stabbed in the chest). Like Dogen practiced for his mother and aunt, I too practice for all of these women, which is to say I practice for peace, equality, awakening, and the heart of the Buddha's teaching. 

Here are some guidelines for male allies if you want to practice with me: 

1. Learn to be silent, hold back, be humble, and to listen to women’s voices. Be aware of subtle ways that you may devalue women or treat them unfairly.
2. Hear what individual women are saying. Acknowledge what they say and respond appropriately. Respect women enough to disagree with them, rather than pretending to go along with something you obviously disagree with; when you do agree, make this known.
3. We must follow the lead of women, and prioritize issues that are brought forth by women or concern women. The culture we want to move into will be women-centered: we should move in this direction ourselves. Make it a priority to have women in positions of power, and to foster new woman leaders. This includes recognizing how women leaders are objectified and silenced, and having zero tolerance for such behavior.
4. It is inappropriate for us to speak as authorities on subjects that women directly experience. As men we do not and cannot understand these experiences. If we are to speak at all on such subjects, it should only be after women or if women ask us to do so, and never from our own perspective.
5. We must challenge our own patriarchal behavior, such as patterns of silencing or devaluing women, and using patriarchal language (such as hate speech, jokes based on humiliation and degradation, and male-identified generalities e.g. ‘mankind,’ ‘manpower,’ ‘hey man’).
6. Do not use pornography or prostitution. Free your sexuality from patriarchal capitalist structures that exploit women. Be vocal in challenging the sex-exploitation industry.
7. Challenge entitlement. Women do not owe men anything, including a smile, a conversation, a hug, a relationship, or intimacy of any kind. Men do not have the right to take up space at the expense of women’s comfort or personal boundaries.
8. Challenge sexist behavior in your friends, family, associates, and political allies. End relationships with men who continue to encourage or practice sexism. We do not need permission to call out men on patriarchal behavior; it is our baseline responsibility. Calling out men in male-only spaces and groups, is a priority.
9. “Mansplaining” is not tolerated. By this we mean male speech that is arrogant, patronizing, condescending, or in some other way talks down to women or attempts to put the male speaker on a pedestal.
10. While patriarchy does hurt men in some ways, the intended target is women. Thus, while we may feel hurt by masculinity, we are not oppressed by it.
11. We must familiarize ourselves with issues affecting women, and with feminist theory and history. We should not expect to be spoon-fed a feminist understanding.
12. Within the dominant culture males are perpetrators of harassment and violence. Many women are survivors of this violence – studies estimate that nearly 1/3 of all women have been sexually assaulted or beaten by men, and many women say these numbers are low. It is not any woman’s responsibility to assume that men are safe to be around.
13. We are not here to save or rescue women. We are not here to be heroes. We are not here to be protectors of women; women can protect themselves. Our job is not to protect women, its to respect their wishes and work in solidarity with them to dismantle patriarchy. If we take on these roles against the wishes of the particular women involved in a situation, we are violating boundaries.
14. The guidelines established above represent a baseline for acceptable behavior. Following them is not exceptional, and does not merit reward. Conversely, choosing to ignore sexist behavior will be seen as an act of collaboration with the culture of male dominance.


Popular posts from this blog

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…

Goodbye Green Gulch Sama! Hello Tassajara!

About two years ago I left Mid City Zen in New Orleans. I feared I was leaving something, and now I'm about to leave Green Gulch and that same fear has arisen. I imagined there was wealth, a sort of freedom, and a lot to "renounce."  I had a car (a fast one!), a playstation 3, many books, many articles of clothing, and as I look around our little cabin, that same perception has arisen- I have too much stuff! And I like it!

My book collection that I sold or gave away in New Orleans has somehow manifested out here. And I have quite the collection of farm hats and farm boots. Rubber ones, Redwings, Ropers, Bogs to the ankle, Bogs to the knee, a navy seal Solomon for the wet spring weather. Most of them are fit to throw away, glued back together and stitched with fishing line, and just so smelly, so smelly my wife won't let me keep them in the cabin, so I hide them all around Green Gulch.

So I started packing, and while that fear of renunciation has arisen, it's not …

Vows and Compass

Being in new Orleans reminds me that my way seeking mind ripened here. Maybe it was the level of maturity my father's recovery actualized. Maybe it was the Ben Wren book I found at Beaucoup Books on my lunch break. Maybe it was my step mom's copy of things fall apart by Pema Chodron sitting in the bathroom.

Later I would witness the host of suffering post-katrina offered to a young public school teacher. How could I help? I took my first set of vows not really knowing where they would lead, like the old black metal compass my dad put in my Christmas stocking when I was about ten. Beautiful to hold, difficult to understand.

Now, years later, I feel a bit subdued as form,sensation, perception, impulse, and thought tag everything, beckoning some purchase for the price of belief. I'm home, but a home leaver. People wonder when I'll move back and being a home leaver means being ready to leave home again and again, which could mean coming back.

How will I actually engage all…