In addition to A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation, this Spring marks the release of another Shambhala Sun book, Buddha’s Daughters, edited by Shambhala Sun Deputy Editor Andrea Miller. The book is available now — click here to order or for more information. Below, you can read Andrea’s introduction to the book (as well as browse its chock-full Table of Contents).
Buddha’s Daughters: Introduction
I had my first taste of Buddhism in university when I took a class on Chinese and Japanese religions. Since the presentation was dryly academic, I didn’t immediately connect with the Four Noble Truths. Truth be told, I can barely remember taking notes on them, but what did spark my interest was the dissemination of Buddhism. My professor explained that as the Buddha’s teachings fanned out across Asia, they took on the flavor of each culture they encountered. And the result—from Tibet to Thailand and beyond— was that Buddhist traditions came to be so varied that early Western colonialists and missionaries were not always aware they embodied a single religion.
My professor did not go on to address modern Buddhism’s state of flux—that was beyond the scope of our class. Yet Buddhism is indeed still transforming. Now it’s taking root in the West, and decade by decade it’s developing into its own Western strain, or strains. Admittedly, the results are mixed. It’s uncomfortable, for instance, to see the Western vice of materialism seeping into Buddhist practice. But to date there is one hallmark of Western Buddhism that I believe is cause for unreserved celebration. In the West, women teachers play a prominent role; their wise voices are strong and getting stronger. Continued