February 6, 2007

Women Practice Religion Differently Than Men

Gwen put into words so well what I have often thought while reading about Zen Buddhism. I appreciate what Pema Chodron has to say about Zen Buddhism because she is a woman. She doesn't address it directly. You can see it in subtle ways in her writing compared to say, Thich Nhat Hanh. So much of the sitting and mindfulness practice revolves around the male way of dealing with the world.

For me, sitting does help with non-attachment and loving-kindness. But a large part of how women relate to the world is communication. When I'm stressed, sitting is hard for me, because I need to connect with another human being. Sitting helps, but what helps FAR more is to sit at a cafe with a friend, or even a stranger, and talk.

Also, men tend to internalize pain, and so sitting in silence is a natural way for them to get in touch with their emotions, or to recognize them and let them go. Women, from my experience, ARE emotion. We can't just "let them go". Our way to being non-attached to our feelings and strong emotions, and to other people is going to be a much different path than men, many of whom already have a natural non-attachment to others on an emotional level.

Whereas women can usually unattach themselves from things, it's very difficult to unattach from emotions and connections with the people in our lives. And, I think women have a harder time with the concept of beginner's mind, simply because women tend to hold on to things longer than men do (of course, always exceptions). Especially in relationships with other people.

What do you think about your religion? Do women and men practice it in different ways, and understand the concepts from a different point of view?

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