Review: “Dharma Matters”

Review: “Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra” by Jan Willis.

Andrea Miller12 August 2020

Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra

Collected Essays by Jan Willis
Wisdom Publications 2020;
384 pp., $25.49 (paper)

Jan Willis, professor emerita of religion and a leading thinker on gender and race in contemporary Buddhism, offers a collection of popular and scholarly essays spanning thirty-five years. Through sacred texts, historical perspectives, and lived experiences, Willis looks at four topics and how they intersect: the role of women; race and ethnicity; the “life stories” in ancient sacred texts, as well as the stories of living Tantric saints; and parallels between the Christian and Buddhist traditions. These thought-provoking essays are highly relevant to conversations we’re having—and need to have—today. Willis writes, “[International Buddhist leaders and their American counterparts] would do well, it seems to me, to devote efforts toward trying to make Buddhism in all its forms more readily available and accessible to a wider cross-section of the American population. Indeed, such efforts would go a long way toward helping a truly ‘American’ Buddhism to emerge.”

Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller is the deputy editor of Lion’s Roar magazine. She’s the author of Awakening My Heart: Essays, Articles, and Interviews on the Buddhist Life, as well as the picture book The Day the Buddha Woke Up.