Whenever I go on a trip, whether it be a short distance or long distance, I always take at least a little bit of time and do some people observing. Most times I’ll learn something new each time. I still remember one of the teachings that the Venerable Master Hsing Yun taught about spreading Buddhism locally was to just go out there. He said that in encouragement to the monastic disciples and lay teachers to break out from the temple/monastery setting and serve people that way. I take that teaching to heart myself and try to break from the comfortable environment and bring the Dharma to the people, or in this case bring spiritual care to the people.
In Half the Sky, the authors Kristof and WuDunn made some recommendations to some young people who asked about how they help address issues like poverty or inequality, and right off the bat the first recommendation was to “get out and see the world.”[i] I felt like that and what Venerable Master Hsing Yun taught was like two hands clapping together. Even though I felt a little joyous that east and west have met again in theory, I also felt bummed, because, in order to get out there and discover stuff, I would need resources, especially monetary resources. Kristof and WuDunn talked about one of the great failings of the American education system is not including studying abroad. I myself never had any chance to study abroad because my major wouldn’t be able to accept the transfer credits and I just simply did not have enough money. I already carry a lot of weight for not making time to exercise and I have to carry more weight on my back because I have a lot of student loans to repay when I graduate. This may be tied back to the capitalism themes in the previous weeks’ discussions but if the economic system allowed for some flexibility or something then maybe I could pursue something like studying abroad or teaching English abroad. Then again, especially with the new administration, this will continue to be a challenge.
When I read the chapter in Power, Privilege and Difference about the lingo that differentiates men and women, I had this rumbling feeling in my stomach. I think it is because after reading the chapter I want to find a level that I can connect with women but at the same time, I find it real difficult. Maybe it is because like what I mentioned previously that I have not been exposed enough to environments where the men are the dominant authority? Or could it be because I was born and raised and still currently living under female authority that I am almost clueless about what male authority is like? I’m not sure. In the book the author states, “[i]n short, men are the cultural standard for humanity; women are just women.”[ii] I really wouldn’t know how to react. I know that men are the norm for cultural standards, but to have that out in black and white for me was a little bit of a shock, though I have to agree with it fully because it is the truth. It is the same in the Buddhist community as well, but luckily that is gradually improving. Another thought that came up for me in that statement was the professional dress code standard, men are usually in a shirt and tie with slacks and women are also given a the standard with a top and dress which I think has since later evolved into the blouse and slacks in order to be at the same level as men. I’m not an expert in fashion but I am curious if this will evolve further?
[i] Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. Page 88. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
[ii] Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, power, and difference. Page 104. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Pub., 2001.