Posted inDharma, Videos, Women in Zen

The Capacity to Awaken, Valerie Forstman

February 12, 2023

In this talk from the first Zazenkai of 2023 at Mountain Cloud, Valerie turns to Mahapajapati, mother to Siddhartha Gautama after his birth mother dies and the first female dharma ancestor of the Buddha. After a long absence, Mahapajapati sees the Buddha and recognizes his deep transformation. Her heart is pierced. She asks – for herself and on behalf of the many women gathered in practice – for the chance to be ordained and enter the order. The Buddha repeatedly refuses. Ananda, seeing the dedication to practice and the pain of being excluded, asks the Buddha if women have the capacity to awaken. This the Awakened One cannot deny.

The talk recounts Mahapajapati’s story, including her long barefoot trek to the Buddha’s teaching home in Vesali. Along the way, another women’s march (2017) yields its own ‘fierce compassion,’ pointing to an inheritance of freedom and compassion that is never exhausted – and never done calling to us.

Women’s March 2017 – Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Featured photo by Nathan Cima, Unsplash

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