If she is speaking the truth,
what is the use of bullying and lies?
If she is not speaking the truth,
what is the use of bullying and lies?—Shantideva’s reasoning
May all females everywhere
Plagued by sufferings created by patriarchy and sexism,
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.
May no female suffer,
From those who think females inferior and unworthy.
Merely due to her gender.
May no girl be told to look pretty to be valued.
And slim-bodied to fit in,
With a mind weighed down by depression.
May slaves and child labourers,
And bruised and beaten housewives,
whose bodies are worn with toil
Be restored on finding repose.
May naked rape victims find justice,
The hungry for truth find truth;
May the thirsty for love find love
And generous reparations.
May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy;
May the forlorn find hope,
Constant happiness, and prosperity.
May there be timely rains
And bountiful harvests;
May all medicines be effective
And wholesome prayers bear fruit.
May all who are sick and ill from pregnancy and menstruation,
Quickly be freed from their bloody aches.
Whatever forced, clitoral circumcisions are in the world,
May they never occur again.
May frightened, downtrodden wives cease to be afraid,
And those bound by sexual slavery and prostitution be freed;
May powerless, single mothers find power,
And may sons think of benefiting them.
For as long as space remains,
For as long as men and women remain,
Until then may I too remain
To dispel the miseries of woman!
This updated version of the famous ‘Shantideva’s Prayer’ was written with both a little humour and weariness. May boys and men also be free of the sufferings they inflict on themselves and others in the name of spirituality, sex, power and money. All beings suffer under patriarchal, sexist norms, conduct and leaders.
Written quickly and spontaneously by Adele Tomlin, December 2020 (from forthcoming publication of collected articles and poems: ‘The Lioness Begins to Roar’). Copyright 2020.