Dharma World

April-June 2011, Volume 38

Religion and the Power of Women

Women in Religion and in Buddhism

by Gene Reeves

It can be argued that subjugation and subordination of women does not come so much from Buddhist teachings as from the customs of societies in which Buddhism exists.

Gene Reeves has done research and lectured on the Lotus Sutra worldwide for more than a quarter century. He is a professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing and serves as an international advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai. Before coming to Japan in 1989, he was head of Meadville Lombard Theological School and a lecturer at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His recent works include The Stories of the Lotus Sutra (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2010).

The Future of Women in Buddhism

by Karma Lekshe Tsomo

We can no longer afford to squander half of our precious human resources by ignoring or devaluing women’s spiritual potential. Nowhere do the Buddhist texts say that teachers need to be male.

Karma Lekshe Tsomo is an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego. She has a PhD in comparative philosophy from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her primary academic interests include women in Buddhism, and Buddhism and bioethics. She integrates scholarship and social activism through the Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women and Jamyang Foundation, an innovative education project for women in developing countries.

Women Building a Just Society

by Sharon D. Welch

“The ennobling truths are not just challenges to act with wisdom and compassion but challenges to act with creativity and aesthetic awareness. . . . The human world is like a vast musical instrument on which we simultaneously play our part while listening to the compositions of others. The creation of ourself in the image of awakening is not a subjective but an intersubjective process. We cannot choose whether to engage with the world, only how to.”
– Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

Sharon D. Welch is provost and professor of religion and society at Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago. She received a PhD in theology from Vanderbilt University. For many years she was professor of religious studies and women’s studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. Dr. Welch is the recipient of numerous awards, many of which recognize her excellence in teaching. Her recent works include Real Peace, Real Security: The Challenges of Global Citizenship.

Being a North American Buddhist Woman: Reflections of a Feminist Pioneer
by Rita M. Gross

The process of contemplating and the encouragement to investigate for oneself mean that Buddhism is alive and that its insights can be applied to any situation or problem one might encounter.

Rita M. Gross, professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, is internationally known for her innovative work on gender and religion. She is also a Buddhist Dharma teacher, having been appointed to that position by Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including A Garland of Feminist Reflections: Forty Years of Religious Exploration (University of California Press, 2009).

Islam and the Status of Women
by Yoshiaki Sanada

Islamic teaching itself is not the source of discrimination against women, this writer argues. There are no expressions of sexual discrimination, such as that women were created from men, in Islamic human creationism.

Until March 2007, Yoshiaki Sanada served as a professor of law at Chuo University in Tokyo, where he is now professor emeritus. He has also been a guest professor at the Institute of Comparative Law of the China University of Politics and Law in Beijing. He is director of the Peace Research Institute of the Japanese Committee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace.>

Japan’s Traditional Buddhism and the Gender Issue
by Noriko Kawahashi

Inherently, the teachings of Buddhism point the way to equality among all human beings.
We must not lose sight of the fact that the Buddha did not discriminate among human beings
by their birth regardless of race, ethnic group, gender, or anything else.

Noriko Kawahashi is an associate professor at the Graduate School of the Nagoya Institute of Technology. She received a PhD from Princeton University and specializes in religion and gender studies. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Japanese Association for Religious Studies and of the Advisory Committee on International Exchange of the Japan Buddhist Federation. She has authored and edited several books on religion and gender issues.

Religion and the Power of Women as Agents of Peace
by Lilian J. Sison

Dedicated women of faith, Christian and Muslim alike, have worked successfully to advocate peace and reconciliation in violence-torn Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

Lilian J. Sison is the secretary general of Religions for Peace Philippines, and coordinator of the Asia and the Pacific Women of Faith Network. Dr. Sison is also currently dean of the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas, in Manila. Her advocacy for interreligious dialogue and peace initiatives has brought her to become deeply concerned about the conflict areas of Central Mindanao.

Religions for Peace: Promoting the Roles of Women of Faith in Peace Building
by Jackie Ogega

The international nonsectarian organization is explicitly dedicated to mobilizing religious communities to collaborate for peace. Through its Women’s Mobilization Program, it works with others to develop programs that engage both men and women in efforts to empower women and girls.

Jackie Ogega is the director of the Women’s Mobilization Program at Religions for Peace. In addition to strategic program development, fund-raising, and partnership development, she manages and coordinates the Religions for Peace Global Women of Faith Network, with its regional and national networks around the world. Ms. Ogega is a doctoral candidate in peace studies at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. She also serves as adjunct professor at the School for International Training in Vermont.

Religion and Women: “Empower Women – Empower the Future”
by Johanna Boeke

The valley spirit never dies.
It is the woman, primal mother.
Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.
It is like a veil rarely seen.
Use it. It will never fail.
– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Johanna Boeke was born and raised in the Netherlands, where she met her husband, Richard Boeke, at a congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom in The Hague in 1964. She is a Unitarian Universalist minister and past president of the International Association of Liberal Religious Women. She and her husband have served churches in the United States and England. They live in the United Kingdom and continue to be active in interfaith organizations.

Empower Women through Faithful Connections Around the World
by Barbara Kres Beach

The oldest international women’s organization and the youngest agree. Their principles are solidly in accord, and their members work hard, dedicated to their faiths and to their actions.

Barbara Kres Beach is executive director of Strategic Relations for Management Concepts, one of the leading training and professional development companies in the United States. She is past president of the Partner Church Council and current president of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women. She became committed to international work and interfaith dialogue at her first congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom in Japan in 1984. She and her husband, the Reverend Dr. George K. Beach, live in Virginia.


Women and Nonviolence – Clearing a Path for the Future
The Twenty-seventh Niwano Peace Prize Commemorative Dialogue between Ms. Ela Ramesh Bhatt and Rev. Nichiko Niwano

The twenty-seventh Niwano Peace Prize was awarded to Ms. Ela Ramesh Bhatt of India, founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a women’s labor union with more than 1.2 million members throughout India. She was honored for her contributions of more than thirty years to improving the lives of her country’s poorest and most oppressed women workers. In this commemorative dialogue with Rev. Nichiko Niwano, president of the Niwano Peace Foundation, on the theme “Women and Nonviolence – Clearing a Path for the Future,” held on May 12, 2010, in Tokyo, she emphasized the importance of realizing that we are all bound together at all levels, now and for centuries.


Like a Mother’s Love
by Nichiko Niwano

We should consider others’ suffering as our own and comfort them with the selfless love that a mother gives her child.

Nichiko Niwano is president of Rissho Kosei-kai and the Niwano Peace Foundation, a president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and special advisor to Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan).

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (104)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 17: Discrimination of Merits (2)
by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the 104th installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.

Dharma World

  1. Autumn 2019, Volume 46

    Manga, Anime, and Contemporary Religion

  2. Spring 2019, Volume 46

    Is Emptiness the Goal?

  3. July-December 2018, Volume 45

    The Buddhahood of Plants and Trees: The Environment and Buddha-Nature

  4. January-June 2018, Volume 45

    Buddhism’s One Vehicle in a World of Many Religions

  5. July-December 2017, Volume 44

    Religions Tackling Extremism

  6. January-June 2017, Volume 44

    Religion and Animals

  7. October-December 2016, Volume 43

    Features: Listening

  8. July-September 2016, Volume 43

    Contemporary Ideas about Karma

  9. April-June 2016, Volume 43

    Buddhism and Food

  10. January-March 2016, Volume 43

    Dual Religious Identity: Can One Practice Two Religions?

  11. October-December 2015, Volume 42

    The Modern Significance of Meditative Practices in Religions

  12. July-September 2015, Volume 42

    Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

  13. April-June 2015, Volume 42

    Religion's Contributions to Society

  14. January-March 2015, Volume 42

    Cultivating Hearts That Welcome the Other

  15. October-December 2014, Volume 41

    Buddhism and Language

  16. July-September 2014, Volume 41

    Life After Death

  17. April-June 2014, Volume 41

    Building an East Asian Community: Roles of Religions

  18. January-March 2014, Volume 41

    Aging Societies and Religion

  19. October-December 2013, Volume 40

    Nuclear Power and Contemporary Religion

  20. July-September 2013, Volume 40

    Where Does the Buddha Live Now?

  21. April-June 2013, Volume 40

    Modern Meanings of Festivals

  22. January-March 2013, Volume 40

    Transforming Greed

  23. October-December 2012, Volume 39

    Religions Coping with Prejudice

  24. July-September 2012, Volume 39

    The Significance of Religious Communities

  25. April-June 2012, Volume 39

    Buddhist Teachings on Spiritual Liberation

  26. January-March 2012, Volume 39

    The Meaning of Modern Pilgrimage

  27. October-December 2011, Volume 38

    The Evolution of Funerals in Japan

  28. July-September 2011, Volume 38

    Buddhism in North America

  29. April-June 2011, Volume 38

    Religion and the Power of Women

  30. January-March 2011, Volume 38

    What Is True Wealth?

  31. October-December 2010, Volume 37

    Dialogue Draws Religions Closer

  32. July-September 2010, Volume 37

    Tackling the Question "What Is the Lotus Sutra?"

  33. April-June 2010, Volume 37

    Religion's Role in Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

  34. January-March 2010, Volume 37

    Help in Overcoming Alienation

  35. October-December 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Prayer

  36. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Media

  37. April-June 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Health

  38. January-March 2009, Volume 36

    The Changing Forms of the Family and the Role of Religion

  39. October-December 2008, Volume 35

    The Meaning of Giving in the Contemporary World

  40. July-September 2008, Volume 35

    Buddhism in the Face of Environmental Crisis

  41. April-June 2008, Volume 35

    The Many Forms of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin

  42. January-March 2008, Volume 35

    Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

  43. October-December 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Bioethics

  44. July-September 2007, Volume 34

    Respect for Ancestors

  45. April-June 2007, Volume 34

    Self-Examination and Peace Work

  46. January-March 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Social Responsibility: Boddhisattva Practice Today

  47. October-December 2006, Volume 33

    Buddishm in Dialogue

  48. July-September 2006, Volume 33

    Religions Working for Peace

  49. April-June 2006, Volume 33

    Creating the World of the One Vehicle: The Centennial of the Birth of Rev. Nikkyo Niwano

  50. January-February 2006, Volume 33

    The Human Condition and Religion: A Global Future?

  51. November-December 2005, Volume 32

    Remembering Hiroshima

  52. September-October 2005, Volume 32

    Spirituality and Development

  53. July-August 2005, Volume 32

    Women in Contemporary Japanese Religion and Society

  54. May-June 2005, Volume 32

    Rissho Kosei-kai 67th

  55. March-April 2005, Volume 32

    "Thousand Buddhas," Sanbanggulsa Temple, South Korea

  56. January-February 2005, Volume 32

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  57. November-December 2004, Volume 31

    Peace Building Through Multi-Religious Cooperation

  58. September-October 2004, Volume 31

    The Increasing Importance of Dialogue and Cooperation

  59. July-August 2004, Volume 31

    Paths to Reconciliation

  60. May-June 2004, Volume 31

    Religion in Crisis

  61. March-April 2004, Volume 31

    Spiritual Friendship

  62. January-February 2004, Volume 31

    Resolving Conflict

  63. November-December 2003, Volume 30

    Dividing Good From Evil

  64. September-October 2003, Volume 30

    Common Truths: Cooperation Among Religions

  65. July-August 2003, Volume 30

    Niwano Peace Foundation

  66. May-June 2003, Volume 30

    Religionists United in Prayer for Peace

  67. March-April 2003, Volume 30

    Life is Larger Than Globalization

  68. January-February 2003, Volume 30

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  69. November-December 2002, Volume 29

    Roundtable Disscussion at the World Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom

  70. September-October 2002, Volume 29

    Sixth Assembly of the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

  71. July-August 2002, Volume 29

    The Most Reverend Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Recipient of the 19th Niwano Peace Prize

  72. May-June 2002, Volume 29

    National Treasure Tapestry Illustrating Shakyamuni Sermon to the Faithful

  73. March-April 2002, Volume 29

    Celebration of the Anniversary of Shakyamuni's Birth

  74. January-February 2002, Volume 29

    Religious Delegates Gather in New York for WCRP Symposium