At the heart of Buddhism is the notion of egolessness—“forgetting the self”—as the path to awakening. In fact, attachment to views of any kind only leads to more suffering for ourselves and others. And what has a greater hold on people’s imaginations or limits them more, asks Rita Gross, than ideas about biological sex and what she calls “the prison of gender roles”? Yet if clinging to gender identity does, indeed, create obstacles for us, why does the prison of gender roles remain so inescapable? Gross uses the lenses of Buddhist philosophy to deconstruct the powerful concept of gender and its impact on our lives. In revealing the inadequacies involved in clinging to gender identity, she illuminates the suffering that results from clinging to any kind of identity at all.
"Rita Gross offers readers an amazing example of a lifelong, ongoing commitment to feminist thinking and practice. Her visionary insistence that the path to ending patriarchal domination must lead us beyond gender is a revolutionary paradigm shift, one that can lead to greater freedom for everyone." —bell hooks
"The Buddhist scriptures tell us that we are neither male nor female—that gender is an illusion, and that clinging to it just brings suffering. In this, her last book, Rita Gross, one of the founding figures in the feminist study of religion, explains why this is so. One of the few academics to speak from an insider’s perspective, Professor Gross devoted most of her life to challenging the structures of patriarchy and oppression in the Buddhist tradition—to ‘repairing’ the tradition and making it more just. Buddhism beyond Gender is Rita Gross at her very best: clear, direct, insightful, and uncompromising. The book is not just an important contribution to Buddhism and gender studies, it is a practical guidebook on how to see through the fictions of gender identity and free oneself from the prison of gender roles so as to lead a more liberated life." —José Ignacio Cabezón, Dalai Lama Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
"This book represents the culmination of Rita Gross’s many years of serious practice, reflection, academic study, and scholarship. Rita really dug in! Here she generously shares her innermost thoughts, passions, and struggles in what has become the last memoir of one fiercely dedicated to the Buddhist women’s movement." —Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, author of The Power of an Open Question and The Logic of Faith
"In this final book, Rita M. Gross’s insights into both the Buddha’s classical teachings on identification, self and no-self, and the present-day challenges of gender roles in Western Buddhism shine through. Useful to Buddhist practitioners, students of gender roles in religion, those working for gender equality, and anyone interested in the process of Buddhism’s assimilation in the West, Buddhism beyond Gender contains thought-provoking material to further any discussion of these." —Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Love