When Buddha is not enough

Posted on December 8, 2019
Image for Prith B blog 'When Buddha is not enough'

In January 2020 I begin the year with an artist residency with the arts organisation ‘Made in Roath’ at their premises 1a Inverness Place, Cardiff.

The subject matter for the residency is based on a poem I submitted titled ‘When Buddha’s not enough’.

So why this title? There was a point earlier this year that I realised that the images we look to for spirituality and connection are predominantly male. At that particular point in time, let’s just say I was keenly aware of the prevalence of patriarchy in society and how it can covertly eat into everything including the closest relationships…with detrimental effects. (Perhaps I’ll share the specifics at some point- but it’s whole other story that may even have its own body of work.)

As a feminist, however much I admire the teachings of the Buddha, I realised this beautifully carved figurine sitting on my desk, no longer offered me the sanctuary I needed. I now saw him as just another man who had been elevated to this grand position- the face of Buddhism. Where were the women/ the female deities?

I was born into the Sikh religion which has 10 Gurus all of whom are men. Christianity has Jesus. The only female presence I was aware of was Hinduism which has several Goddesses but the main deities are Krishna and Shiva.

This residency is about looking to create something that someone like me, who is spiritual, without identifying with any particular religion, might look to when they need comfort, guidance, spiritual support.

Is it female based? Is it without gender? Can it be drawn? Does it need to be 3D? Does it need to be something more complex? I want to keep the door open and trust that I have the ability to create what comes to me. If I feel it needs to incorporate sound or music I will invite musicians into the process.

I have yet to decide on my approach. I could research world religions and see what has come before, or I could tune in and meditate and see what comes through.

One thing I do want to do is to start a dialogue with other people that this resonates with. Are you tired of what’s on offer- in your quieter moments do you crave for an alternative? Would you be interested in coming on this journey with me?

Email me and we’ll work something out.

9 Responses

  1. Lindsay Doyle
    December 24, 2019

    I sometimes wonder about my beliefs.

    I love the peace and love message that Buddhism emits but I also feel I border on the edges of humanism and atheism.
    Our 20th wedding anniversary in sept 2020 with see us renew our commitment to each other in a humanist ceremony.
    I think it will raise some questions from the Christians we know will be attending.
    I would love to be part of your journey. x

    • Prith B
      December 29, 2019

      Hi Lindsay, thanks for commenting. Love that you are renewing your vows in that way. Good to have you involved xx

  2. Juliette
    December 27, 2019

    Hi Prith. Please contact me. I am definitely interested in joining this journey.
    Luve and light

    • Prith B
      December 29, 2019

      Fantastic- good to have you on board- look forward to chatting- much love xx

  3. Simon Rodgers
    December 28, 2019

    Hi Prith!

    thanks for a fascinating topic … reading your thoughts made me think of *v* old African sculptures, many of which were female forms, maybe fertility goddesses? … but before written language or cities

    my vote for an alternative would be to think not in terms of males and females, but male and female energies, each present in each individual and always in flow and flux.

    a candidate for modern spirituality might be appreciating the flows of energies within a person/between people/in communities of people/with nature/with the cosmos


    will be great to see how your residency takes shape – congrats!

    Simon x

    • Prith B
      December 29, 2019

      Hi Simon, thank you- yes will think on that- flow of energies- like that. I’m excited x

  4. Louise Weinzweig
    January 1, 2020

    Wow that really resonates with me Prith. I’m a regular yoga practitioner and teacher (as you know!) and I’ve been really struggling this year with the male dominance in my lineage of teachers. I want to recognise and honor the teachings of yoga but they’re all bloody men! I’ve started to incorporate the idea of Mother India into my gratitude practice to get some female energy in there. PS I love the old African fertility figures as well as the previous commenter 😊

    • Prith B
      January 4, 2020

      Hi Louise, thanks for reading and commenting. That’s really interesting to hear- I also like your frankness 🙂 I was in a bookshop in Bath yesterday searching around the subject. A lovely lady overheard what I was looking for and mentioned a book called Cave in the Snow by a Buddhist nun, Tenzin Palmo. I am going to read it -may be you’d like that too? Also, the book shop owners, and it was an amazing bookshop, said there ought to be a book on the subject but isn’t! Who knows where this could lead…working title:’In search of the divine feminine- an artist’s journey’
      Do you know there is a classic black and white Bollywood film called ‘Mother India’? I am going to check out the African figures too. A trip to a museum may be called for.

  5. Paul
    January 6, 2020

    Hi Priti

    Long time no speak, great to see your practice ever expanding.

    As a man born into a Protestant Christian society it has been hard to escape the fundamental prevalence of male hegemony in religion, which seem to be particularly strong in the Abrahamic religions. In my upbringing, even the significance of Mary the divine mother was played down. The idea of a vindictive male ‘head’ God turned me into a militantly atheistic teenager.

    At that time, however, I was drawn to eastern mysticism, which to my limited experience has I feel a much more balanced approach. I am no expert, but am aware of the importance of Tara / Gwanyin in the Mahayana Buddhism I understand more about.

    While the form body of the person we call “Buddha” took 2500 years ago was male, there is nothing fundamentally gendered about a buddha, and there are infinite numbers of Buddhas transcending conception of gender.

    Traditional animist religions across the world also seem to have more affinity with the female divine principle. I love reading Joseph Campbell’s work, lots of analysis of creation myths and their relative levels of misogyny.

    All the best with the project, and please let me know if you think I can help x


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