Theologian Gross to speak on gender in Buddhism



Buddhism and religious diversity expert Rita Gross will speak at the Ellsworth Meditation Center, 161 State St. on Monday, Nov. 3. Gross will speak the next day, Nov. 4, at the McCormick Lecture Hall on the College of the Atlantic campus in Bar Harbor. Both events are free, but space at the Ellsworth event is limited. PHOTO COURTESY COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC

Buddhism and religious diversity expert Rita Gross will speak at the Ellsworth Meditation Center, 161 State St. on Monday, Nov. 3. Gross will speak the next day, Nov. 4, at the McCormick Lecture Hall on the College of the Atlantic campus in Bar Harbor. Both events are free, but space at the Ellsworth event is limited. PHOTO COURTESY COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC

BAR HARBOR — Rita Gross, an American Buddhist, feminist theologian, and author, will speak on gender identity and enlightenment at the next Human Ecology Forum at the College of the Atlantic McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 4:10 p.m.

A common Buddhist premise claims the “enlightened mind is beyond gender, neither male nor female.” Nevertheless, Buddhist institutions have traditionally been male dominated, and Buddhism has oppressed women as much as any other religion. How can both these facts be accurate?

Gross’ talk, titled “How Clinging to Gender Identity Subverts Enlightenment,” will discuss how basic Buddhist teachings and practices support gender neutrality and equality, and how inappropriate gender hierarchy is in Buddhism.

“The key word in the title of the discussion is ‘clinging,’” according to Gross. “It is well known that Buddhist teachings show how clinging is at the basis of all suffering. But that teaching has seldom been used to show how any fixation on gender identity actually harms those who cling to gender identity and privilege. This talk delves into that area of inquiry.”

Gross is a well-known scholar and former professor of comparative studies in religion at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire who earned her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in history of religions. Her doctoral dissertation, “Exclusion and Participation: The Role of Women in Aboriginal Australian Religion,” was the first dissertation ever on women’s studies in religion.

A student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and senior teacher appointed by Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, she is internationally known for her writings and teachings on religious diversity, Buddhism, Buddhist history, gender issues and ecology. Her Buddhist teachings are non-sectarian.

Gross also will appear at the Ellsworth Meditation Center, 161 State Street, Ellsworth, on Monday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. to speak about her latest book, “Religious Diversity. What’s the Problem? Buddhist Advice for Flourishing with Religious Diversity.”

Both events are free and open to all, but as seating is limited at the Ellsworth Meditation Center, please preregister for the Monday evening talk at [email protected]

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