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Thread: Zen Women – Chapter 5, 82-87

  1. #1

    Zen Women – Chapter 5, 82-87

    My apologies to everyone, my weekend got sidetracked by life and work… so I am very late in posting this week’s reading. But it is another short section to finish out the chapter.

    In this section we hear the stories of the Soto Zen Female Founders, two of the names most of us should recognize as they are chanted during the Women Ancestors at each Rohatsu.

    One thing that came across in both the stories of Myochi and Ekan Daishi is the importance the affect of your devotion to practice can have on others. Ekan, the mother of Keizan was fundamental in forming the women’s order and training opportunities.
    The following passage really resonates with me:

    The plum tree is the first to bloom in early spring, and its delicate blossoms often meet with now and cold. It is said that the plum blossom teaches us how to be gentle even in the hardest conditions.
    I work in a male dominated industry, so I’m often the only woman. But over the years I have learned to meet screaming and yelling, with a smile and laugh. It’s amazing how much harshness can be melted with gentleness. And it makes the jobsite a much nicer place for everyone when they know I’m not going to scream when something goes wrong, but instead smile and say “ok, how can we fix it?”

    What is your take away from the stories of these ladies who shaped the future of zen?
    Please talk amongst yourselves here too, comment on each other’s comments, and allow time for others to comment. This is a book discussion group, so let’s make it a conversation.


  2. #2
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    May 2019
    Rural Queensland, so-called Australia
    The biggest takeaway for me is humility. I bow deeply in gratitude to these founders. It's also quite a lovely slap in the face to this working class transwoman in that without the Dharma being reluctantly shared with determined female identifying folk of privilege, wealth and societal stature, less privileged female identifying folk like myself may not have ever had access to the Dharma.
    Within the words I read I'm constantly taken aback by realising that we as female identifying folk have a looooooong way to go.
    Gassho to moving ever forward with determination and peace in our hearts.
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)

  3. #3

    I would agree. Reading the stories of what the women have overcome to be able to access teachings makes me so grateful to them for their sacrifice and determination. It makes me feel very humble about the some hurdles we often complain about... poor me for having to get up at 5 a.m. to attend an event. But it does shine a light on how important it is to continue to fight for access. Imagine how today would look without these women.

    As with so many things in zen, we just continue to see that so much work has been done... and yet there is always more to do.


  4. #4
    There were two particular parts of this section that stood out to me - the first is as Shoka said the potential to influence others with our practice. I think of this particularly in light of being a parent and constantly asking myself to what extent I teach the kids about my zen practice.

    The second, is that I really need to learn more about Keizan.

    As ever, an inspiring read about important ancestors whose footsteps I'm proud to follow in.




  5. #5
    Like Onka I was struck by the key to the door opening for these dharma matriarchs was their determination plus their privileged status. It reminded me of a story of one of Hakuin’s students in the 1700s. When he visited Hakuin he used to visit the local brothels and was impressed by the Buddhist devotion of one of the women he paid for. After a few years he bought her out of slavery so that she could become a nun. She could practice as best she could in her situation but had no freedom of choice as to the nature of her life or employment.


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