Tag Archives: dakini power

My personal year-in-review (is less about me than others)

photoAs so many of us are contemplating what we want out of the new year that’s dawning, I found myself making a list of what I managed to get accomplished over the last year, which happened to be my 50th.

While I didn’t do anything that by conventional standards was notable or headline-worthy (no bestsellers, no blockbuster deals, no gorgeous bouncing babies, house purchases, etc.) I was happy to see, in review, that it’s been productive–and more importantly, productive in a way that helps other people, my own personal mandate.

(Note: Only one of the things on this list involves making money.  Also note: This list is not in any particular order.)

Women of the DWC bake for their coffeeshop

Women of the DWC bake for their coffeeshop

1. The cooking group I lead at the Downtown Women’s Center (for women in need) helped them win a $25k grant from the Halo Foundation. We can’t solve homelessness by making dinner for people in need, but we can feel a part of our community and provide a healthy meal for those who don’t have access to what most of us take for granted.  Even better that we stoked their coffers, too.

2. I researched and spearheaded a movement that led to a rent abatement for over 100 of our neighbors due to the loss of our beloved swimming pool and other services here on my beloved Bunker Hill.  (I also managed to keep swimming, elsewhere.)

3. Working with another neighbor, we managed to clean up a deteriorating area of our community and involve/alert local officials, as well as draw media attention to the problem.

4. I’ve been working with Bhutanese refugees to help them with their all-volunteer media service that chronicles their resettlement around the world, a fascinating experience for me and important work for them.  Very interesting counterpoint to what I encountered while in Bhutan volunteering at a radio station there.

Academy of our Lady of Peace goes to Bhutan

Academy of our Lady of Peace examines Shangri-La

5. Of all the interesting places where I am fortunate to be asked to talk about the themes in my book, Radio Shangri-La, an all-girls Catholic school in San Diego and a gathering of hundreds of youth at the Kroc Peace Center were two highlights.  Love talking to kids.

6. I interviewed Deepak Chopra and his brother Dr. Sanjiv in front of 500 people at an Episcopalian church.

7. I interviewed Michaela Haas, the author of a compelling book about female Buddhist spiritual leaders, at a meditation center.

Vince at the gleaming Marlins stadium

Vince at the gleaming Marlins stadium

8. Along with my brother and boyfriend, we wrangled my parents and elderly aunt to a baseball game (a dream of theirs to see the new stadium in Miami.)  Later in the summer, we corralled my boyfriend’s infirm mother for a fun outing that involved ice cream and “freaking unbelievable hamburgers.”  Seeing her laugh was worth the entire trip.

9. I’ve read a lot, lot, lot, partially for my research on my Joan Kroc book but partially just because, which makes me happy especially when I hear people complain they don’t have time to read; I feel lucky that I do make time for this.

10. My part-time paying job, at KCRW, allows me to meet and talk with incredibly interesting people doing incredibly interesting things, usually having to do with art, usually mostly underfunded and otherwise unpublicized. Being able to share those conversations with the radio-listening and Web-viewing public is an honor and a delight.  It’s a rewarding (to me) application of my media background–which I resolved to put to better use after my book sold and allowed me to “retire” from daily news back in 2008.

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Upcoming talk about female Buddhist spiritual leaders with the author of Dakini Power

On Saturday, June 22nd at Insight LA in Santa Monica, writer Michaela Haas and I are going to have a conversation about her new book, Dakini Power, which is all about women spiritual leaders in Buddhism.  Join us?Image

As I’ve written here before, this book is a fascinating read and Michaela’s personal story is intriguing, too.  (She was on a fast-track journalism career when she had a spiritual awakening in Bhutan, and changed course.)

Come hear us and see some pictures of these important spiritual leaders, too.



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Women, power, and Buddhism

ImageThere’s a new book out from Snow Lion/Shambhala called Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.  The author is Michaela Haas, a journalist who earned a phD in Buddhist studies after a transformative trip to Bhutan; she lives in both Malibu and her native Germany.

The book offers biographical sketches of influential women in Buddhism, from nuns immersed in service work, to women who are wives of spiritual masters, to show that it is not a man’s world only.

It’s a riveting read.  People who dedicate their lives to any religion fascinate me, and there’s something otherworldly about westerners who immerse themselves in Buddhism, particularly the storied and sometimes fantastic traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

ImageTo some of the stories in the book, I found myself wondering: Is it feminist (and/or religious) to marry your spiritual master, and then, as he ages, bring another man into the home?  Is a solitary retreat a solitary retreat when one interrupts to tend to their family?

The whole “spiritual master” thing, as I’ve written here before, makes me uncomfortable, but Haas introduces these stories with an even hand that made me think, more than I usually do, about it–as well as the nature of devotion and spirituality and feminism.

The book also made me wonder: Is there something to this idea of a person being an “emanation’ or “reincarnation” or able to transmit or receive teachings–versus simply practicing the basic precepts of Buddhism and living kindly and peacefully, mindful of your impact on the earth?  Can one person be more holy than another, really?

If you’re reading this un-review (I’d rather talk about it with you in person than try to play book reviewer, which I am not!) all I’m saying is: Dakini Power might make you ask some questions, too.  At the very least it’ll introduce you to some interesting and indeed powerful women who have made some very interesting life choices in the name of their spiritual path.

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