View Full Version : Zen Women, Chapter 8, Pages 174-183

05-12-2021, 12:08 AM
Hello everyone!

In this portion we look at Someko, a woman who received awakening and a subtle ordination from her teacher despite her being married and sexually active, Satsu, who began to practice as a fiery teenager and was prescribed by Hakuin to marry and go out and practice in worldly life, Satsu, who fell in love with her teacher, and Gyokusen, and artist who may have also had a relationship with her teacher. This portion ends with some thoughts on having a relationship with a teacher.

I don't have any particular thoughts on this section, or prompts, only that I enjoyed this chapter very much.

Please share your thoughts, if you wish!

Sat, lah

05-13-2021, 01:58 PM
I really enjoyed this chapter too and I like the sound of Satsu.

I thought the Teishin/Ryokan relationship was interesting. Whatever was going on there, they produced some beautiful poetry particularly:

We monastics are said
To overcome the realm
Of life and death -
Yes I cannot bear the
Sorrow of our parting



05-14-2021, 06:59 PM
I do have a great deal of fondness for Ryōkan and his relationship with Teishin, although I am not sure it would be viewed with as much sympathy if it happened now. I think there is something very touching about it.

Teishin gathered together many of his poems after his death in 1831, and was with him at his passing, publishing a collection of work called Hachisu no Tsuyu (Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf) in 1835.

In Sky Above, Great Wind (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13414919-sky-above-great-wind), Kaz Tanahashi shares a lovely squence of poems that occur after Teishin compares the middle-aged Ryōkan, weathered in his old black robe, to a crow:

I will fly away
to who knows where
as someone has made me
a crow

Teishin asks in response:

Oh mountain crow
if you are going home
please bring along
a young crow
even one with fragile wings.

Ryōkan, however, worried for both of their reputations:

I wish I could
bring you along
but what would become of us
if people started
to talk?

Teishin was having none of it:

A kite is a kite
a sparrow is a sparrow
a heron is a heron
but a crow with a crow --
who should suspect?

This was also an interesting chapter in terms of looking at the different expectations on men and women in Japan after ordination, with it being much harder for women to take on the role of a temple priest whilst being married, and having children. I am glad that we have members of different genders here at Treeleaf with younger families.


05-15-2021, 04:29 AM
Lovely, Kokuu.

Sat, lah

05-16-2021, 12:31 AM
I really like Satsu, she must have kept Hakuin on his toes and he was no slouch either.

With regard to Teishin, it looks like transference from the partial evidence on view. Unresolved issues concerning her husbands death? A father substitute? But, I don’t get the feeling that Ryokan was manipulating or abusing the relationship.