Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Buddhist-Benedictine Dialogue on Women, Spirituality, and Social Change

Dr. Teresa Forcades' latest dialogue project follows in the great tradition of Catholic dialogue with the Eastern religions such as Thomas Merton's extensive explorations of Buddhism and dialogues with such prominent representatives of that tradition as D.T. Suzuki (Zen and the Birds of Appetite). One can also think of Jesuit Daniel Berrigan's dialogues with the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (The Raft Is Not the Shore).

In June 2013, Dr. Forcades, a Benedictine nun and theologian, sat down with American Buddhist (in the Tibetan tradition) nun Dr. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, a professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of San Diego in California. Dr. Tsomo, who has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Hawai'i, is the author of Sisters in Solitude: Two Traditions of Monastic Ethics for Women and Into the Jaws of Yama, Lord of Death: Buddhism, Bioethics, and Death, and she edited Buddhist Women and Social Justice: Ideals, Challenges, and Achievements; Innovative Buddhist Women: Swimming Against the Stream; Buddhist Women Across Cultures: Realizations; Out of the Shadows: Socially Engaged Buddhist Women; and Sakyadhita: Daughters of the Buddha, and a forthcoming book Eminent Buddhist Women. Dr. Forcades, who has a PhD in Theology from the Facultat de Teologia de Catalunya, has written numerous books including La teologia feminista en la història and Ser persona, avui. She has several previous "conversation" books with journalists Eulalia Tort (Diálogos con Teresa Forcades) and Esther Vivas (Sin Miedo), and with Italian mystic Angela Volpini (Una nueva imagen de Dios y del ser humano).

Meeting at the Fundació Casa del Tibet in Barcelona, the two nun scholars conversed on the topic "Women, Spirituality, and Social Change", moderated by La Vanguardia journalist Ima Sanchis. The sponsors are hoping that the Forcades-Tsomo dialogue will be the first in an ongoing series on this subject.

Now Plecs Budistes Edicions, a nonprofit association and co-sponsor of the event, is seeking to publish a book of that dialogue. The book will initially be in Catalan, although they promise a later edition in Spanish. To that end, they are raising funds through Internet solicitation. Those who contribute to the project will receive copies of the book and be mentioned in the acknowledgments. If you would like to join me in supporting this feminist interfaith project, go to Verkami and click on the amount (in euros) you want to give under "Make a Pledge". The fundraising pledge deadline is March 24, 2014, but it looks like the book will probably be a "go" since they have already passed their goal of 1,600 euros.

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