A fascinating biography of Freda Bedi, an English woman who broke all the rules of gender, race, and religious background to become both a revolutionary in the fight for Indian independence and then a Buddhist icon. She was the first Western woman to become a Tibetan Buddhist nun—but that pioneering ordination was really just one in a life full of revolutionary acts. Freda Bedi (1911–1977) broke the rules of gender, race, and religion—in many cases before it was thought that the rules were ready to be challenged. She was at various times a force in the struggle for Indian independence, spiritual seeker, scholar, professor, journalist, author, social worker, wife, and mother of four children. She counted among her friends, colleagues, and teachers Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and many others. She was a woman of spiritual focus and compassion who was also not without contradictions. Vicki Mackenzie gives a nuanced view of Bedi and of the forces that shaped and motivated this complex and compelling figure.
"A fascinating biography of Freda Bedi, an English woman who broke all the rules of gender, race, and religious background to become both a revolutionary in the fight for Indian independence and then a Buddhist icon. Freda Bedi (1911-1977) was one of the most remarkable and iconoclastic figures in Buddhism's movement to the West. Born in England, educated at Oxford, and married to a Sikh, she became a major force both in shaping modern-day Buddhism and Indian history. In her life she had many roles--political freedom fighter, spiritual seeker, scholar, professor, journalist, author, social worker, wife, and mother of four children (one of whom is a well-known actor). Vicki MacKenzie's lively biography captures what a trailblazer Bedi was in both the secular and spiritual realms. She studied meditation with Burmese meditation masters. She was the first English woman to be accepted by Gandhi into his elite band of Satyagrahi, delivering rousing speeches to thousands of Indians urging them to revolt, and then was imprisoned for subversion. She was asked by Nehru to help resettle Tibetan refugees, and she aided the Dalai Lama when he went into exile. Bedi established a school for young Tibetan lamas and also a nunnery, which still exists, to provide nuns equal religious opportunities. She was also the first woman, of any nationality, to receive the full Bikshuni ordination, making her the highest-ranking Tibetan Buddhist nun in India. MacKenzie, a well-known journalist in Britain, has forty years of experience writing about Buddhism in the West. For this book, she traced Bedi's footsteps and conducted many in-depth interviews with those who knew her, including friends, family, government officials, lamas, and nuns. She also drew heavily from Bedi's own writings, diaries, and recordings--all provided by Bedi's family--and the book includes many photographs"--
The story of Tenzin Palmo, an Englishwoman, the daughter of a fishmonger from London's East End, who spent 12 years alone in a cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas and became a world-renowned spiritual leader and champion of the right of women to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Diane Perry grew up in London's East End. At the age of 18 however, she read a book on Buddhism and realised that this might fill a long-sensed void in her life. In 1963, at the age of 20, she went to India, where she eventually entered a monastery. Being the only woman amongst hundreds of monks, she began her battle against the prejudice that has excluded women from enlightenment for thousands of years. In 1976 she secluded herself in a remote cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, where she stayed for 12 years between the ages of 33 and 45. In this mountain hideaway she faced unimaginable cold, wild animals, floods, snow and rockfalls, grew her own food and slept in a traditional wooden meditation box, three feet square - she never lay down. In 1988 she emerged from the cave with a determination to build a convent in northern India to revive the Togdenma lineage, a long-forgotten female spiritual elite.
Author: Vicki Mackenzie
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: 2001-04-01
Genre: Body, Mind & Spirit
Why Buddhism? is a series of interviews through which Vicki McKenzie (author of Cave in the Snow) explores the reason for Buddhism's growing appeal in western society. Through personal examples, this book will reveal what Buddhism means to a wide range of people in the UK, Australia and US. The interviews are inspiring and informative, covering the process each person went through in becoming involved in Buddhism, as well as the effect it has had on their lives and any difficulties they've encountered. The subjects interviewed in Why Buddhism? range from the famous, like composer Phillip Glass, actor Tracy Mann, and author/teacher Robert Thurman, to the heroic, such as the nun who brings Buddhist teachings to hardened criminals in jail, the extraordinary - like the Buddhist diamond merchant, and the ordinary made remarkable - like the woman Queensland woman dying a good Buddhist death. Popular rather than scholarly in tone, Why Buddhism? should appeal to those of us who are keen to know more about a religion that is much talked about but little understood.
In this retelling of the ancient legends of the women in the Buddha’s intimate circle, lesser-known stories from Sanskrit and Pali sources are for the first time woven into an illuminating, coherent narrative. Interspersed with original insights, fresh interpretations, and bold challenges to the status quo, these stories invite us to open our minds to a new understanding of women's roles in the Buddha's life and in early Buddhism.
This book tells the remarkable story of Soname's triumph over adversity, told against the backdrop of a turbulent and dangerous Tibet. Soname was born in the harsh Tibetan countryside during the Chinese occupation. When she was just sixteen Soname risked death in a freedom trek across the Himalayas, finally arriving in Dharamsala, home in exile of the Dalai Lama. Even after managing to escape from Tibet, she faced further dangers and heartache in India, being forced by destitution to give her daughter away. Soname later managed to reach England, where she met and married an Englishman and came to live in Brighton. Her hidden talent was discovered when she sang a traditional Tibetan song at a wedding reception, unaware that a member of a famous band was a guest. Concerts followed. Tracing her long-lost daughter has long been Soname's preoccupation, and it is hoped that her daughter will finally join her in England later this year. Hers is a story of immense will, unbelievable courage and, above all, an indomitable soaring free spirit.
What drives a young London librarian to board a ship to India, meditate in a remote cave by herself for twelve years, and then build a flourishing nunnery in the Himalayas? How does a surfer girl from Malibu become the head of the main international organization for Buddhist women? Why does the daughter of a music executive in Santa Monica dream so vividly of peacocks one night that she chases these images to Nepal, where she finds the love of her life in an unconventional young Tibetan master? The women featured in Dakini Power—contemporary teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, both Asians and Westerners, who teach in the West—have been universally recognized as accomplished practitioners and brilliant teachers whose life stories demonstrate their immense determination and bravery. Meeting them in this book, readers will be inspired to let go of old fears, explore new paths, and lead the lives they envision. Featured here are: • Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche (This Precious Life) • Dagmola Sakya (Princess in the Land of Snows) • Jetsun Tenzin Palmo (Diane Perry) (Into the Heart of Life) • Pema Chödrön (Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) (When Things Fall Apart; Start Where You Are) • Khandro Tsering Chödron (most familiar to readers as the late aunt of Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) • Thubten Chodron (Cherry Greene) (Buddhism for Beginners; Taming the Mind) • Karma Lekshe Tsomo (Patricia Zenn) (Buddhism Through American Women’s Eyes) • Chagdud Khadro (Jane Dedman) (P’howa Commentary; Life in Relation to Death) • Sangye Khandro (Nanci Gay Gustafson) (Meditation, Transformation, and Dream Yoga) • Roshi Joan Halifax (Being with Dying) • Lama Tsultrim Allione (Joan Rousmanière Ewing) (Women of Wisdom; Feeding Your Demons) • Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel (The Power of an Open Question)
Author: Paul Hackett
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Release Date: 2012-03-27
"Theos Bernard, the White Lama" recounts the real story behind the purported adventures of Theos Casimir Bernard (1908--1947), the self-proclaimed "White Lama" who in 1937 became the third American in history to reach Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Bernard met, associated, and corresponded with the major social, political, and cultural leaders of his day, from the Regent and high politicians of Tibet to saints, scholars, and diplomats of British India, and from Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Gandhi and Nehru. But he also had his flaws. He was an entrepreneur propelled by grandiose schemes, a handsome man who shamelessly used his looks to bounce from rich wife to rich wife to support his activities, and a master manipulator who concocted his own interpretations of Eastern wisdom to suit his own ends. Despite the bright future ahead of him, Bernard disappeared in India during the communal violence of the 1947 Partition, never to be seen again. Through diaries, interviews, and previously unstudied documents, Paul G. Hackett shares Bernard's compelling life story, along with his efforts to awaken America's religious counterculture to the unfolding events in India, Tibet, and the Himalayas.
Author: Michael Dillon
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2016-11-01
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
"Now available for the first time--more than 50 years after it was written--is the memoir of Michael Dillon/Lobzang Jivaka (1915-62), the British doctor and Buddhist monastic novice chiefly known to scholars of sex, gender, and sexuality for his pioneering transition from female to male between 1939 and 1949, and for his groundbreaking 1946 book Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology. Here at last is Dillon/Jivaka's extraordinary life story told in his own words. Out of the Ordinary captures Dillon/Jivaka's various journeys--to Oxford, into medicine, across the world by ship--within the major narratives of his gender and religious journeys. Moving chronologically, Dillon/Jivaka begins with his childhood in Folkestone, England, where he was raised by his spinster aunts, and tells of his days at Oxford immersed in theology, classics, and rowing. He recounts his hormonal transition while working as an auto mechanic and fire watcher during World War II and his surgical transition under Sir Harold Gillies while Dillon himself attended medical school. He details his worldwide travel as a ship's surgeon in the British Merchant Navy with extensive commentary on his interactions with colonial and postcolonial subjects, followed by his 'outing' by the British press while he was serving aboard The City of Bath. Out of the Ordinary is not only a salient record of an early sex transition but also a unique account of religious conversion in the mid-twentieth century. Dillon/Jivaka chronicles his gradual shift from Anglican Christianity to the esoteric spiritual systems of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky to Theravada and finally Mahayana Buddhism. He concludes his memoir with the contested circumstances of his Buddhist monastic ordination in India and Tibet. Ultimately, while Dillon/Jivaka died before becoming a monk, his novice ordination was significant: It made him the first white European man to be ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Out of the Ordinary is a landmark publication that sets free a distinct voice from the history of the transgender movement"--Provided by publisher.
Renowned meditation master Chögyam Trungpa retells the stories and realization songs of Tibet's best-known and most-beloved religious figure--and reveals how they relate to our everyday lives. He went from being the worst kind of malevolent sorcerer to a devoted and ascetic Buddhist practitioner to a completely enlightened being all in a single lifetime. The story of Milarepa (1040–1123) is a tale of such extreme and powerful transformation that it might be thought not to have much direct application to our own less dramatic lives—but Chögyam Trungpa shows otherwise. This collection of his teachings on the life and songs of the great Tibetan Buddhist poet-saint reveals how Milarepa’s difficulties can be a source of guidance and inspiration for anyone. His struggles, his awakening, and the teachings from his remarkable songs provide precious wisdom for all us practitioners and show what devoted and diligent practice can achieve.
Author: Raymond L. Sickinger
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Pess
Release Date: 2017-06-30
Raymond Sickinger’s biography of Antoine Frédéric Ozanam is more than a chronological account of Ozanam’s relatively brief but extraordinary life. It is also a comprehensive study of a man who touched many lives as a teacher, writer, and principal founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Ozanam’s life encompassed a particularly turbulent time in French history, and he was a witness to two major political upheavals—the overthrow of the Bourbon dynasty that brought Louis Philippe to power in 1830, and the end of Louis Philippe’s “Bourgeois Monarchy” as a result of the 1848 Revolutions. This book examines Ozanam’s life in a variety of ways. First, it explores the various roles he played throughout his life—son, sibling, student, member of and an inspiration for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, spouse and father, scholar, and spokesperson for the common people. Second, it examines the lessons he learned in his life, including the importance of friendship, the meaning of solidarity, and the role and purpose of suffering, among many others that he shares with those who study his thought and work. It concludes with an account of Ozanam's enduring legacy. Antoine Frédéric Ozanam feared that he would not have a fruitful career, but his legacy remains a powerful testimony to his greatness. This book will interest scholars wishing to know more about Ozanam and the period in which he lived, as well as a wider audience including those who are aware or are members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
‘The man with the gun pushed me down onto the carpet. I tried to cower to make my body curl smaller, instinctively covering my head. ‘Oh God, please don’t kill me.’ My words clung to my teeth and now my whole body was so cold. All I had left were these words. ‘Please. Please don’t kill me. Jesus. God. Please.’ I wanted to live and I knew it with absolute certainty. I don’t want to die.’ Emma Slade was a high-flying debt analyst for a large investment bank, when she was taken hostage in a hotel room on a business trip to Jakarta. She thought she was lucky to come out of it unscathed, but over the ensuing weeks and months, as the financial markets crashed, Emma became her own distressed asset as the trauma following the event took hold. Realising her view on life had profoundly changed she embarked upon a journey, discovering the healing power of yoga and, in Bhutan, opening her eyes to a kinder, more peaceful way of living. From fast-paced City life to the stillness of Bhutan’s Himalayan mountains, ‘Set Free’ is the inspiring true story of Emma’s astonishing life lived to extremes and all that that entails: work, travel, spirituality, Buddhism, relationships, and the underlying question of what makes a meaningful life.