Women in Buddhism Annual Dialogue: A Conversation with Dr. Alison Melnick Dyer and Dr. Elisabeth Benard

Thursday, October 27th at 7PM EST

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This year, Khenmo will be spending the evening with two dedicated scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, Dr. Alison Melnick Dyer and Dr. Elisabeth Benard, who have both published books on the history of women in Tibetan Buddhism. The three will discuss spiritual attainment, gender, class, and practice lineages from female teachers to their disciples.

Dr. Alison Melnick Dyer is Associate Professor of Asian Religions at Bates College. She is an expert on gender and Tibetan Buddhism. Melnick Dyer is especially interested in the ways that privilege influences gender in religious communities. Her book, The Tibetan Nun Mingyur Peldrön: A Woman of Power and Privilege has just been published. José Ignacio Cabezón, coauthor of Sera Monastery, says that “Melnick Dyer’s study of the life of Mingyur Peldrön, a nun from an important Tibetan religious family, enhances our understanding of the lives of Tibetan women saints…. More than a simple retelling of Mingyur Peldrön’s life, the book is a sophisticated analysis of the role of gender, authority, and privilege in the life of Tibetan religious adepts. A real contribution to Tibetan and Buddhist Studies.” After finishing The Tibetan Nun Mingyur Peldrön, Melnick Dyer is beginning a project focusing on Achi Chokyi Drolma.

Dr. Elisabeth Benard is Professor Emerita at University of Washington Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Since her retirement, she has continued to pursue her interest in goddesses and spiritual women, compiling biographies of hidden yoginis in Tibetan Buddhism. She is a long-time student of H.H. the Forty-First Sakya Trizen (now Trichen) and H.E. Jetsun Kushok. Her book, The Sakya Jetsunmas: The Hidden World of Tibetan Female Lamas, is the first in-depth study of the great female practitioners born into the Sakya Khon family, one of the most prestigious families of wisdom-holders in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. For over a millennium, these jetsunmas (“venerable women”) have received the same religious training as their brothers, are taught by eminent lamas and at times, have transmitted wisdom from one female adept to another. BuddhaWeekly.com says of Dr. Benard’s book, “While this highly readable book is certainly a valuable scholarly contribution, Elisabeth writes an engaging and fascinating account that goes beyond the riveting history — an easy-to-enjoy book that should appeal to both Tibetan Buddhists and readers of biographies.”

Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 7PM via Zoom (link will be shared upon registration)


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