Passionate Enlightenment

ISBN 0.691.01090.0

Miranda Shaw

Passionate Enlightenment

Women in Tantric Buddhism

Princeton University Press, 1994.
Paperback, 291 pages

A very good Beginning

A unique and truly interesting book for those who do not shy away from reading serious and scholarly literature concerning Tantra; in this case of the Buddhist variety. Miranda Shaw (1954) is to be congratulated for her choice of topic and for her diligence in studying and researching the important role women have played in this tradition.

Other than most works, usually translated by men who all too often sketch women as mere providers - rather passively - of male enlightenment, this one clearly shows that such representation is dependent on the author's and translator's vision rather than on historical facts.

Although Passionate Enlightenment does not succeed in treating this topic in all completeness - such study needs more than one person's effort - it does succeed in making a well founded beginning of describing the truly important role women had in the development and evolution of Tibetan Tantra.

Several good examples acquaint the reader not only with how contemporary translators and commentators misrepresent the contributions of women, but also - in several cases - the true nature of the teachings. However, the male need to undervalue female contributions and to overvalue those of male adepts did not arise in the West only; the book clearly documents how such gender-betrayal has taken shape throughout the centuries and among allegedly enlightened Tibetan lamas impartial to ego- and power games.

I can only recommend this book to everyone interested in Tibetan history and/or in the teachings of the diamond vehicle and its unexcelled yogas of the Inner Tantras. The work also contains a great number of hitherto seldomly printed quotes from original texts.

Review: RCC
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