Pagan Kennedy’s account of Michael Dillon’s quest to become a Buddhist monk (“Man-Made Monk,” Summer 2007), and the bigotry he encountered, hits a tender spot in me. In 2005, having studied Buddhism for ten years, I cut off my hair and aborted my four-year-long transition from male to female to seek ordination as a Gelug monk. Careful research revealed, though, that as a “eunuch” I was ineligible to become even a novice monk.
My ensuing disenchantment with Buddhist monasticism propelled me to seek my own truth, and at long last I joyfully completed my transition to womanhood in the spring of 2006. My disillusionment with Tibetan Buddhism became complete last fall when an American laywoman with whom I studied traditonal Tibetan dance repeatedly put me down in front of the other women. Currently I sit zazen while writing my autobiography and deciding whether I’ll continue to study Buddhism or move on in search of a religion that isn’t steeped in sexism.
Joni Kay Rose
Rio Rancho, NM
The Cream and the Cake
I was delighted to read “Losing Our Religion,” the interview with Professor Robert Sharf in the Summer 2007 issue of Tricycle. I am a Burmese-born dharma teacher, and I’ve been teaching Theravada Buddhism and the practice of Vipassana in the U.S. for seventeen years. Sharf very succinctly described the “quick fix” technique of Vipassana that has been imported to the States while pointing out that what has been left behind is the sangha or community that holds the Buddhist heart and soul. When asked what I think of Theravada Buddhism in America, I often say, “Americans brought the cream but left the cake behind.”
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