Viveka and Vimalasara, members of the Triratna Buddhist Order in San Francisco and Vancouver respectively, are among 100 contemporary female Buddhist teachers asked to contribute to The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women;a book of 100 stories and koans about women achieving awakening, each accompanied by a reflection by a contemporary woman teacher.
Viveka writes: “The invitation to contribute to The Hidden Lamp brought to mind memories of female hermit meditators, living in the clouds of Wu Tai Mountain, China. For one month in 2003, I camped near them in an uninhabited valley, on solitary retreat. I have marvelled since that the world is mostly unaware of these women of fearless, committed practice and their wisdom, born of remote regions, difficult to find. How amazing to have 100 inspiring women’s stories and 100 contemporary women teachers’ commentaries in one volume, right in the palm of my hand!”
Vimalasara didn’t get quite what she hoped for. “I was hoping for the story of Kisagotami, grieving over her dead baby. I was dismayed to be asked to comment instead on the story of Sujata giving rice milk to Shakyamuni before his Enlightenment.
However when I began to reflect on it, I realized how important it was. Sujata became Enlightened. Female Dharma practitioners need to be reminded that of course we can become Enlightened, just as Shakyamuni did. To become Enlightened he let go of all conditioning labels: ‘deva’, ‘god’, ‘Buddha’, ‘human being’. Sujata, too, had to let go of her conditioning and labels: ‘mother’, ‘woman’, ‘human being’. It was most liberating to perform her story at the launch.”
Triratna’s San Francisco Buddhist Center recently hosted a public reading of The Hidden Lamp, at which Viveka expressed a strong wish that the book not be marginalised as a Dharma book for women. “The writing is powerful and provocative. These women’s stories and Dharma teachings are of value for all sentient beings.”
Listen to the San Francisco Buddhist Center Hidden Lamp reading.: Buy the book. Follow the book on Facebook.