Nun Fights Gender Bias in Buddhism
CAVE IN THE SNOW. Directed by Liz Thompson, with Tenzin Palmo.
Review: JANE MAYNE
It's no secret that throughout history, women's disempowerment has taken many forms.
Within patriarchal culture, access to knowledge has been a primary area where women have come off second best.
In the light of skewed gender dynamics this comes as no surprise, but not many people stop to consider that a respected spiritual tradition such as Buddhism, would apply discriminatory politicking in the delivery of their teachings.
Despite age-old tradition, British-born Tenzin Palmo is questioning this boys-club mentality, and Liz Thompson's Cave in the Snow follows her journey to raise the educational status of nuns within Tibetan Buddhism.
After meeting her guru in India in 1964, Palmo was ordained as one of the first western Tibetan Buddhist nuns.
Her search for perfection saw her isolate herself for 12 years in a remote Himalayan cave.
Here she studied classical Tibetan texts which described complex meditation techniques.
A tenacious student, she faced unimaginable cold, wild animals, near-starvation and avalanches. She grew her own food, and slept in a wooden meditation box, never lying down. Her goal being to gain enlightenment as a woman.
After this epic retreat, Palmo saw that other nuns had little opportunity for deeper study and practice, as many simply became servants for monks. …