Social and Engaged: Learning Transformations, Gender and Trans-Formations in Buddhist Teaching
A good friend is a good sharer – one who learns, listens, shares and teaches. I am very grateful for the opportunity to write a paper for my friend and (all who know her will recognise), sharer, Peggy Morgan. In the writing of the paper I have been able to recover memories in the history of our friendship and reacquaint myself with aspects of Peggy’s work in the academic study of religion. The focus of this paper is to bring some personal elements of our friendship within the light cast by one of Peggy’s particular and lasting interests, Buddhism and the academic study of it.
This is not a scholarly study for Buddhologists, with refined denominational distinctions and novel transliterations. Rather it is a consideration both of a modern form of Buddhism, which resonates with Peggy’s own interests in Buddhism, the area of Buddhist practice and thought called ‘Socially Engaged Buddhism’, and an examination of a key text in Mahayana Buddhism, the Lotus Sutra. Moreover, it offers an interpretation of the Lotus Sutra that at first chimes with Peggy’s strong espousal of feminist readings of the Buddhist tradition, then highlights further modern tones in transforming the teachings to a wider inclusivity of transformation and transgender in the ascription of personhood and identity in the sutra.
Keywords: Buddhism; Gender; Engaged; Trans-Formation; Lotus
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