By Miranda Shaw
The crowning cultural success of medieval India, Tantric Buddhism is understood within the West essentially for the sexual practices of its adherents, who attempt to remodel erotic ardour into non secular ecstasy. Historians of faith have lengthy held that the enlightenment hence tried was once for males merely, and that girls within the circulation have been at most sensible marginal and subordinated and at worst degraded and exploited. Miranda Shaw argues on the contrary, providing broad new proof of the outspoken and autonomous lady founders of the Tantric stream and their artistic function in shaping its distinct imaginative and prescient of gender kin and sacred sexuality.
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The crowning cultural fulfillment of medieval India, Tantric Buddhism is understood within the West basically for the sexual practices of its adherents, who try to rework erotic ardour into religious ecstasy. Historians of faith have lengthy held that the enlightenment hence tried was once for males in simple terms, and that ladies within the move have been at top marginal and subordinated and at worst degraded and exploited.
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Extra info for Passionate Enlightenment
Tantric texts articulate a profound and appreciative metaphysical understanding of female embodiment. Tantric works depict spiritually independent and powerful women who inspired awe and dependence and demanded respect and obeisance. Consistent with these depictions, Tantric texts are remarkably free of the condemnations of women that blemish so ~uch religious literature. There are no pronouncements of women's Inferiority or religious incapacity. Conspicuously absent are portraits ~£submissive, oppressed women and depictions of abusive, exploitative relationships.
I am most grateful that the experts and practitioners I met generously shared some of the most closely guarded aspects of their tradition. 52 It was clear that those whose assistance I sought were intent to discern my motives and seriousness of purpose. The fact that I was a doctoral student at Harvard carried little weight, since most of those I met had never heard of Harvard. Being a scholar garnered some respect but was not in itself regarded as a sufficient qualification for gaining Tantric teachings.
Mahayana teaches that the world, which seems so flawed to 24 CHAPTER TWO unenlightened awareness, is actually a sparkling Buddha-land and indeed is just one jewel in an infinite lattice of interlacing Buddha-lands. Tantra shares this ontological perspective but developed different methods for its realization. Whereas Mahayana offers a gradual process of purification over many lifetimes of perfecting wisdom, compassion, patience, and other virtues, Tantric Buddhism insisted that enlightenment is attainable in a single lifetime.