First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening

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Parallax Press, Feb 9, 2002 - Religion - 240 pages
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First Buddhist Women is a readable, contemporary translation of and commentary on the enlightenment verses of the first female disciples of the Buddha. The book explores Buddhism’s relatively liberal attitude towards women since its founding nearly 2,600 years ago, through the study of the Therigatham, the earliest know collection of women’s religious poetry. Through commentary and storytelling, author Susan Murcott traces the journey of the wives, mothers, teachers, courtesan, prostitutes, and wanderers who became leaders in the Buddhist community, roles that even today are rarely filled by women in other patriarchal religions. Their poetry beautifully expresses their search for spiritual attainment and their struggles in society.
 

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Contents

Foreword by Diana Winston
11
Chapter One Mahapajapati Gotami Her Disciples
25
Chapter Two Patacara Her Disciples
43
Chapter Three Wanderers Disciples
53
Chapter Four Wise Women Teachers
71
Chapter Five Mothers
87
Chapter Six Wives
105
Chapter Seven Old Women
127
Chapter Nine Friends Sisters
153
Chapter Ten Buddhist Nuns Nature
169
Chapter Eleven Dialogue Poems
185
Chapter Twelve The Legacy of the First Buddhist Women
207
Rules of the Nuns Sangha
213
Glossary of Terms and Places
219
Index of Therigatha Poems
225
Acknowledgements
235

Chapter Eight Prostitutes Courtesans Beautiful Women
133

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About the author (2002)

Susan Murcott was draw to Buddhism as a peace activist in Boston in the late 1960’s. She traveled to Japan, Australia, and Hawaii to study Zen and Buddhist philosophy, and spent more than 10 years researching and translating this text. She was a co-founder and editor of Kahawai: Journal of Women and Zen for many years, and taught meditation at Wellesley College while completing her graduate studies in environmental engineering at M.I.T. Today, Susan Murcott is a world expert in safe drinking water technologies for developing countries.

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