Posted on Facebook 23 January 2021
Bhikkhuni Canda is the founder of Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project, UK
“The First Free Women” book by Matty Weingast is immensely popular and has created controversy within Buddhist circles. In this important and highly engaging talk, Bhante Sujato clarifies why the book must not be regarded as a translation or even a “re-imagining” of the Therigatha (verses of the Enlightened Bhikkhuni Elders) and inspires us with an insightful analysis of the original poems compared to Matty’s compositions that re-centres the realisations and voices of these great bhikkhunis.
Bhante says: “I go into a number of issues, including the racial and cultural appropriation in the book. But perhaps the most surprising thing for me was how, in a book relentlessly marketed as feminist, Weingast chooses to systematically diminish or eliminate the spiritual achievements of the women, shifting the focus to traditional gender roles of motherhood and marriage.”
I (Ven Canda) want to acknowledge that I made a mistake by endorsing the book without reading it properly and apologise for that. I have contacted Matty and the publishers, Shambhala, to ask that my endorsement be removed from the book.
If you do enjoy and find inspiration for your practice in “The First Free Women” that is great, but please be very clear that this is the contemporary creative work of a white American man, (very loosely inspired by the Therigatha) and does NOT contain the authentic voices of those Enlightened Indian Bhikkhunis of the Buddha’s day, whom the poems are named after.
It is critical to make this distinction in order to preserve the Buddha’s teachings conveyed by these great Bhikkhuni Elders (Theri’s) for future generations, as well as honour the immense efforts of those who have preserved them for at least the last 2,500 years. You can make your own mind up – enjoy!https://discourse.suttacentral.net/…/when-is-a…/18657