In Memory of Her: Rita M. Gross

In Memory of Her

Rita M. Gross


WATER joins family, friends, and colleagues who mourn the untimely death of Rita M. Gross, Buddhist feminist scholar, practitioner, and teacher. She retired from the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire where she was Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies in Religion. She served as president of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies and was a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.

Rita wrote an early dissertation on women’s studies in religion and pioneered gender studies in Buddhism. Her appointment as a lopon or senior teacher reflected the esteem in which she was held among Buddhists.

Professor Gross was a longtime colleague in feminist studies in religion. Her January 2015 WATER teleconference, “Religious Diversity: What’s the Problem?” is a wonderful example of her skillful teaching and her deep commitment to global sharing.

She summed up her approach very clearly in this talk: “Whatever your views are, there are ways that religions can cooperate together. If people can develop flexibility of mind, lack of dogmatism…and get rid of the certainty that ‘I know the truth,’ they can start to see where others are coming from. If religions would teach their followers to be less dogmatic and kinder, and more flexible…the world would be a much better place.”

Let this teaching be her legacy.