Interpreting Buddhist Representations of Motherhood and Mothering
This essay explores a feminist-ethical hermeneutic for the study of Buddhist texts with the aim of promoting justice as a valid criterion for making interpretive choices and for defining ethical scholarship. This hermeneutic needs to account for the complexity of historical contexts but also recognize Buddhist texts as part of living traditions with futures that may be shaped by interpretations. In addition to making interpretive choices and agendas transparent, it is also necessary to uncover assumptions and atrophied perspectives, especially those that are shaped by the still entrenched and dominating misogynistic interpretations of Buddhist literature that perpetuate the diminishing of women. One such assumption Derris seeks to address with this essay is that mothering is an obstacle to Buddhist soteriological transformations. When left unchallenged, this assumption limits the empathetic imagination to witness and respond to the suffering of others.
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