Program Details

Reclaiming Women's Stories in Buddhism

with Holly Gayley
September 13 / 6:30 PM - September 14 / 6:00 PM

As Buddhist practitioners we have heard many stories of accomplished masters, but few about accomplished women, who have remained in the shadows of history. Retrieving these stories can enliven our understanding of the dharma and the various ways that wisdom and compassion are embodied. A broader spectrum of role models for awakening is vital for people of all genders to help restore balance in our practice and everyday lives.

Acharya Holly Gayley, a professor of Buddhist Studies and senior teacher in the Shambhala lineage, has focused her research and writings on the stories of Buddhist women practitioners. Most recently, in her book Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet, Gayley chronicles the courtship between two Buddhist tantric masters, Tāre Lhamo and Namtrul Rinpoche, and their and their role in reinvigorating Buddhism in eastern Tibet during the post-Mao era.

Friday Night: Reclaiming Women's Stories of Resilience & Accomplishment
6:30 to 9 PM
Explore the lives of women meditation practitioners from different times and places in Buddhist history. Their stories of resilience and accomplishment can give us insight into how to use challenge, disappointment, and loss as fuel along the path of liberation. Through recovering women’s voices and experiences, we can reimagine our own approach to the spiritual journey as both individuals and as a community.

This Friday night talk is open to the public and has a suggested donation of . Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

If you wish to attend the Friday night talk only, please register on this page. 

10 AM to 6PM
Join us as we explore the social relevance of the classic Mahayana teachings on emptiness and compassion. How do we recognize habitual patterns and conditioning that keep us from recovering a sense of wholeness and connection? The Mahayana offers playful tales to see through the apparent solidity of dualism, including gender binaries, and heartfelt practices to break down the barriers between self and other. We will evoke the great mother Prajnaparamita and the female bodhisattva Tara through the teachings and practices they embody.

The day will include engaging in compassion practice, dialogues and movement exercises. This program will assist us in understanding how we have been shaped by social conditioning, foster healing and resilience, and connect us to the play of open space.

10 AMTalk: Beyond Binaries—Prajnaparamita, Gender Fluidity, & Incongruity
11 AMMovement Exercise
12 NoonLunch
1:30 PMGuided Tonglen Practice
2 PMTalk: Compassion & Discernment—The Eyes of Tara
3 PM Tea Break
3:30 PMMovement Exercise
4:30 PMClosing Circle
5 PM End

Sunday Vajrayana Circle
9 AM to 12 Noon
Vajrayana practitioners are invited to gather to deepen our exploration of the themes from this weekend through stories of women in terma lineages in eastern Tibet. How do we understand our own emerging lineage and current situation in relation to traditional Buddhist understandings of transmission and the feminine principle?

This part of the program is restricted to people who have received vajrayana transmission with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, The Vajra Regent, or Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. 

If you wish to attend both the Friday/Saturday program, and the Sunday Vajrayana Circle, you will need to register for the separately. It is possible to only attend this Sunday circle. You can register for the Vajrayana Circle here

Acharya Holly GayleyAcharya Holly Gayley completed her M.A. in Buddhist Studies at Naropa University (2000) and Ph.D. in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at Harvard (2009). Her research into contemporary Buddhist literature and its lived contexts has taken her to eastern Tibet on research trips since 2004. Currently, she is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Boulder Colorado, where she teaches courses on Tibetan Buddhism, Women in Buddhism, Gender in Hagiography, Buddhist Ethics, and Transnational Buddhism. She has been a member of the Shambhala community for over twenty years and regularly leads meditation workshops.

Acharya Gayley’s writings can be found on her website.

Program Price 0
*Patron Price 5
Friday Night Talk Only (register here)
Vajrayana Circle (register here)

*Paying the patron price allows those who are unable to pay full price to attend this program. Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. 

Please register and pay online in advance of the program to save your place and let us know to expect you. 

If you have any questions, please contact Elena at education [at] berkeleyshambhala [dot] org.

Go to Berkeley's website