In this series, Pamela Weiss, author of A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism, shares stories of Buddhist women past and present that illuminate how feminine energy can support people of all genders in their practice. These often-overlooked figures not only exemplify qualities cultivated on the Buddhist path but provide an important counterbalance to the historically patriarchal tradition. Weiss tells the stories of Mahapajapati, the Buddha’s aunt and foster mother, and her dual capacity for nurturing compassion and fierce advocacy for women’s inclusion in the sangha. Prajnaparamita, the archetypical figure of “Perfection of Wisdom,” invites us to embrace the unknown and the wisdom it contains. And Yasodhara, the wife the Buddha left behind, offers an example of integrating our practice and mundane daily responsibilities. 

Pamela Weiss led a live meditation, dharma talk, and Q&A session on Thursday, November 19th. See the recording here.

Pamela Weiss has been practicing Buddhism since 1987, including several years of Zen monastic training. She serves on the Spirit Rock Teachers Council and was the founder of Appropriate Response, an organization dedicated to bringing mindful awareness to the workplace. She is the author of A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism (2020).

Editor’s Note (2/16/21): In this series Pamela Weiss shares excerpts from a book of Matty Weingast’s original poetry inspired by the Therigatha, a collection of verses on awakening by some of Buddhism’s earliest nuns. Due to criticism that Weingast’s book was falsely presented as a direct translation, Shambhala Publications republished it as The First Free Women: Original Poems Inspired by the Early Buddhist Nuns in 2021.