As a Western woman and a Buddhist, my own work is not only in the West but in the East as well. I, like some of my sister practitioners, return to Asia, year after year. We go as ordained Buddhist priests, practitioners, and nuns to share with Asian men and women the relevance of Engaged Buddhism in our world today. I do not take for granted the responsibility that my sisters and I have in carrying the dharma into diverse and fairly inaccessible worlds, from remote hospices and clinics in India and Nepal, to refugee communities in Thailand and the Americas. We also find ourselves invited to such places as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and renowned Buddhist universities in Asia and the Americas to present our views regarding modern Buddhism, a Buddhism that is grounded in the essential teachings of the Buddha, but one that is socially engaged, systems-based, and environmentally active.
Buddha said, “My dharma is against the stream.” I believe that we women who have been given the opportunity to teach in countries other than their own have had the wonderful chance to push the river of gender parity in the right direction, toward women’s rights, including the right to fully ordain and to be fully authorized at the highest level by their schools of Buddhism. We also have been given the opportunity to challenge the relevance of Buddhism as it relates to modern life in our profoundly imperiled world, and to set in place educational programs, policies and projects that are focused on social as well as personal transformation, places like Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico or the International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice and its BEST program in Buddhist Education in Social Transformation.