In March 2015—eight months before her death—Rita Gross was interviewed at Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India about her feminist roots, finding a teacher, and gender identity in Buddhism.
Gross, a Buddhist scholar, dharma teacher, and frequent Tricycle contributor, was the author of numerous books that included Buddhism After Patriarchy and Feminism and Religion: An Introduction.
The two-part video series is now available from Yogini Project, a nonprofit organization that was started in 2011 by Michael Ash—with the blessing of his teacher, Tsoknyi Rinpoche—as a way to showcase women in the dharma.
“Now is quite an interesting time: the majority of meditators in the world are women; greater numbers are practicing now than ever before,” Ash told Tricycle. “I feel often that the Yogini Project is there to announce a vast movement that is hidden even to its own members . . . There are truly many stories to tell and lessons to be learned from women at all stages of the path.”
“What I loved about this interview was how Rita gracefully pointed out the way to a transgender space is through the mindfulness of gender,” Ash recalled. “Her intent was clearly on removing the cause of suffering. And so her focus was on becoming aware of any reified self-identity, and that, as she points out, is unavoidable to some degree with gender. Only by becoming aware of it—not by passing it over—are we actually able to apply the teachings and move beyond any latent or immediate suffering it may be creating.”
Watch a 15-minute clip of Gross’s talk below: