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Monday, February 25, 2013

Dakini Power by Michaela Haas

Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West is an ARC from Net Galley and Shambhala Publications and will be released April 9.
ISBN-10: 1559394072

Michaela Haas, a reporter, lecturer, and consultant  has been practicing Buddhism for twenty years.  A visiting scholar in Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara, Haas profiles twelve impressive women whose efforts are having tremendous influence in the spread of Buddhist philosophy and the inclusion of women in a male dominated hierarchy.

The stories of these twelve women are interesting and inspirational, and following the paths they have taken provides a fascinating look at the way these different women have met the challenges they've faced.

Dagmola Sakya giving a teaching in MalibuDagmola Kusho Sakya is the first Tibetan woman to immigrate to America. Born in pre-Communist China Tibet, she and her family escaped Chinese persecution and settled in Seattle.  Since I've read several books, fiction and nonfiction, about the Chinese take over of Tibet, her story was of particular interest.

The majority of dakinis in the book are Western women who decided to follow the path of Buddhism, and there were some surprising aspects (for me) concerning not only the kind of women who abandoned their Western lives to become Buddhist nuns and practioners, but in the way each one found a teacher.

As in any hierarchical system, religious or not, there is room for abuse of power, and I found it interesting that the dakinis chose to discuss the kinds of abuse that can take place and the differences in the way monks and nuns are treated.  Traditionally, nuns get little support and no real education, while monks are well-supported and spend a majority of their lives receiving teachings that are usually denied to the women.  These women were courageous enough, or lucky enough, to find teachers that gave them the respect and spiritual education they so badly wanted and needed.

You can find more at Dakini Power about each of these women, and Michaela Haas has a blog.

Although I could never become a Buddhist, I'm fascinated by the spiritual aspect of Buddhism and found this book thought-provoking and informative.  I eagerly read each profile and found each one intensely interesting.  I also enjoyed the further information found at the above links.

Nonfiction.  April 9, 2013.  print version 344 pages.


  1. Nice review! I couldn't be a Buddhist either, but I'd love to learn more about Buddhism in general. Sounds like a fascinating book.

  2. That's a book I'd love to read. Thanks for the review. It sounds fascinating.

  3. Marie - The book is more about the women, and the way Buddhism has influenced their lives. I'd like to learn more about Buddhist philosophy.

    Caroline - The book revealed problems I'd never associated with Buddhism. Naive of me to think there is a perfect religion.