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I, Virginia Bergman, pledge not to vote for a male presidential candidate in 2016 just because he's male.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sexual Responsibility and Patriarchal Structures

My Unitarian-Universalist fellowship’s book group is currently reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s For a Possible Future, first published in 1993 by the Unified Buddhist Church. Considering that a major theme in my posts at Katalusis since its inception in August 2007 has been women’s rights, I was deeply moved by the modern day relevance of Buddhism’s Third Mindfulness Training, which addresses sexual responsibility, followed by Sulak Sivaraksa’s comment on patriarchal structures.

The Third Mindfulness Training:

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

Sivaraksa wrote:

‘“We have to look at the structures of male dominance and the exploitation of women worldwide. The structures of patriarchal greed, hatred, and delusion are interrelated with the violence in the world. Modern militarism is also closely associated with patriarchy. Buddhist practice points toward the development of full and balanced human beings, free from the socially-learned “masculine” and “feminine” patterns of thought, speech, and behavior, in touch with both aspects of themselves.”’

For a Possible Future presents each of the five mindfulness trainings followed by Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful book!

    I am also a UU. And my son will be ordained a UU minister this summer.

    I hope that I'll get a chance to discuss the book with some of the congregations I visit some time....

  2. Hey, SYD,

    So fantastic that you're also a UU and congratulations to your son. I love it!

    You can google Thich Nhat Hanh or the Five Mindfulness Trainings or the title of the book for more info.

    Keep in touch!