WoW Study Circle 2018
Feminine expressions of wisdom (dharma, truth).
Some themes from the check-in (what brought you here?): curiosity, fertile space, at the growing edge, alchemy, no expectation, community, revolution. We reviewed some of the insights from last fall's WoW topics, sparked by video clips of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (changing role of women in monasticism), Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel and Lama Tsultrim (what is enlightenment?), and Roshi Joan Halifax (social engagement).
Embodying feminine power
Hannah Gadsby's Nanette on Netflix (1 hr. 9 min.). Be sure to watch it all the way to the end.
(Optional) Charlotte Rotterdam's latest blog, Jewel of the Charnel Ground.
When we met
Questions we explored: Why is Hannah's story resonating with so many women right now? How can we step into the power of the feminine without aggression and self-deception? Who is "dakini"?
Themes: Standing in our truth=power. Hannah brought her anger laced with hard-won compassion for herself and her audience, moving from the margins to (literally) centre stage and defining that stage for herself. The #metoo and #whyididntreport movements have been revealing the suppressed howl all around us. Many of us are recognizing our blindness and waking up, which is uncomfortable. Some expressed deep sadness and others rage. We also explored how victim-shame transforms into anger and then further into a voice that creates change (e.g., Hannah). Similarly, privilege-shame transforms into a sense of responsibility and learning how to hold space, or step back and make space, for those whose voices have been missing. We watched a clip of translator Sarah Harding speculating on how the dakini principle migrated from India to Tibet and then the West. We have a responsibility to sort through the traditions we adopt, to ensure we aren't conflating essential teachings with cultural attitudes that harm and/or disempower women.
Tara the activist
Bring the name or photo of a woman activist who inspires you.
When we met
Tara is "swift and courageous, her gaze quick as a flash of lightning." She was born from a tear on the face of Avalokiteśvara and represents the active aspect of compassion. She vowed, "May I, until this world is emptied out, work for the benefit of sentient beings in a woman’s body." Jan Morrison, who recently returned from five years of living, working and practicing art, dharma and activism in Labrador, co-hosted our session. We praised historical and contemporary women activists who inspire us, and Jan shared some of her beautiful Tara paintings, each one blending the image of a woman activist with the iconography (hand mudra of protection, blue lotus) of Tara. See a few examples below. We also passed around a photo of women activists from the Idle No More movement and sang the 21 Praises of Tara.
Healing ourselves and our communities
26-minute CBC podcast (Sept. 29), Healing One Stitch at a Time.
When we met
What can feminine wisdom bring to communities that have been wounded by patriarchal and colonial oppression? What can we learn from Indigenous communities? Co-hosted (by Zoom) with Andrea Currie, healer, writer, musician from the Metis Nation. Andrea is President of the Indigenous Circle Chapter of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association and mentor for the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership Program at Coady Institute/StFX. Andrea shared her own story, intertwined with her experience of working with We'koqma'q Residential School survivors for the past 15 years.
Real love. An evening with Sharon Salzberg.
What is "real love" and how do we keep missing it? In this interactive talk, Sharon shared practical advice and guided meditations that uncover a truer meaning of love for ourselves, those close to us, and all beings everywhere. Sharon is a world-renowned mindfulness teacher, podcast host, and author of many books, including the NYT best-seller Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection (2017). She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and has been a contributing editor to Oprah’s O Magazine. The talk will take place at Mount Saint Vincent University and is co-sponsored by mindful Magazine. Tickets can be purchased here. See also Sharon's website.
Positive role of men
Given the emerging feminine as a spiritual force, how do men want to be with that? And what do women want from men's engagement? One theme in our discussion was the hidden trauma of men which most often isn't expressed, leaving a gap in our understanding of the whole picture. As for "what can men do," some in our group focused more on men stepping back, others on men living more clearly and strongly from their core and walking in parallel with women. Like so many of our topics, it was a rich conversation while also seeming that we only began to scratch the surface of an inquiry that is vitally important for our communities.
What role does (and could) the feminine play in bringing about fundamental social change–in Nova Scotia, for example? As the fields of social innovation, systems change and community development increasingly recognize the importance of working with emergence, complexity, interdependence, healing, reconnection with place (localism) and embodiment, it is clear that feminine insight is more important than ever. How do we bring that insight forward? How do we bridge spiritual practice and social practice? What positive examples can we learn from? How do we sustain ourselves in these times?
Bring drink and food to share. We will celebrate the journey so far and look ahead to winter and spring.