Our community has particular commitments to two social issues—gender justice and women’s empowerment, and environmental protection—and hold these to be integral to our spiritual work. On the most fundamental level, the struggle for gender justice and the struggle for environmental protection form part of a common cause that is ultimately spiritual in nature. Both are rooted in the struggle to heal the millennial damage of the thinking that what is not the same as us is ‘other.’ Both in the end must put an end to the habitual way of relating to the “other”—be it Nature or other people—as an object that can be dominated, exploited and finally discarded, as if it what we did to it could have nothing to do with us.
The Buddhist path offers an alternative to this mode of relating, teaching us to recognize and embrace our profound interdependence with one another and with the planet. On this path we are seeking to live with full awareness that the “other” is fundamentally part of us. As such, the spiritual work to liberate our minds and hearts from harmful alienating attitudes is perfectly continuous with the work to liberate society from the sense of separation from our natural environment and from limiting notions of gender.
Living as a community of women committed to support and empower one another in our work to grow and awaken personally is itself a form of gender intervention. Living a monastic way of life means adopting a life that is not only sustainable but of radical simplicity, and bearing the smallest possible ecological footprint.
We find in the Buddha’s teachings important tools for establishing gender equality, for recognizing the socially constructed nature of identity (including gender identities), as well as for liberating ourselves from limiting internalized identities. We also find major resources for identifying the radical interdependence of all beings and the environment, for cultivating a sense of closeness and responsibility for the well-being of the environment as well as for liberating ourselves from the cycles of inner poverty, greed and consumption that are driving the environmental devastation.