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In the stream of blessings: ordained Buddhist women in Britain

Starkey, Caroline (2014) In the stream of blessings: ordained Buddhist women in Britain. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Although a number of scholars have investigated the ways in which Buddhism has adapted to the British cultural environment, the experiences of ordained women have been afforded comparatively little academic attention. Although Buddhism in the West is typically perceived as more conducive of lay practice, the numbers of ordained women are growing (particularly within certain Buddhist groups in Britain). However, some Buddhist traditions have been embroiled in heated controversies in relation to female ordination and gender inequality which has had a significant impact on particular communities of ordained women. Research into these experiences uncovers a great deal about the manner in which Buddhism continues to develop in Britain, and a cross-tradition inquiry into the perspectives of ordained women themselves is over-due. Using ethnographic research methods, this study centres on the narratives of twenty-four ordained (and one formerly ordained) Buddhist women, drawn from seven Buddhist groups in Britain (Forest Sangha/Theravāda; Tibetan Karma Kagyu, Gelug, and Nyingma; Triratna; the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition/Order of Buddhist Contemplatives; and Amida Trust). The thesis is driven by three over-arching research concerns: women’s motivations for ordination, their attitudes to feminism and gender equality, and the role of the British location in shaping their experiences. Whilst there is a marked level of plurality in the attitudes and lifestyles of the participants in this study, challenging any attempt at simplistic representation, overall they demonstrate a strong dedication to putting Buddhist teachings and discipline into practice. Yet, ordination is understood not only as an opportunity to further individual spiritual aspirations but also as chance to belong and contribute to the development of Buddhist communities in Britain. Although cognisant of the impact of their geographic and cultural location, the thesis accentuates the complex combination of influences which contribute to shaping ordained Buddhist women’s religious practices in 21st Century Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Buddhism, Britain, Gender, Ordination, Nun
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.646985
Depositing User: Dr Caroline Starkey
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2015 08:55
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8675

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