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Thread: Zen Women chapters 11, 12, & 13 Pages 233 to 246

  1. #1

    Zen Women chapters 11, 12, & 13 Pages 233 to 246

    Hi All,

    This week weíll look at 3 very short sections, chapters 11, 12, and 13.

    Learning about these women and their practice really brings us face to face with the issues that are currently affecting Zen development in the West. In our practice we meet each moment as it is, and learn to respond in accordance. As we sincerely allow ourselves to be transformed by Zen practice, Zen practice will also be transformed by our wholehearted engagement with family, work, and society. Itís kind of exciting to be here at this moment, knowing that our daily practice is not only affecting our own lives but also shaping Zen practice for a whole new era. What will we offer to those who will come after us? What do you think are the most important practices in Zen to preserve? What do you feel are the parts of practice that will benefit from growth, change and adaptation?

    On the topic of Zen and sexuality, specifically as it plays out in the Sangha, there are so many things to consider. What do you feel is needed to avoid the inappropriate and harmful relationships we have seen in many Sanghas? How can we practice together in a healthier way? Is it better to just leave your sexuality at the door? Do you think we are immune to such issues as a mostly online Sangha?

    Chapter 13 talks about Zen and our emotions and relationships. Look out for the Zen Zombies! I really like what Schireson says here:

    We need to integrate meditationís energetic awareness into our personal traumas, our wounds, and our defense mechanisms. Zen practice means finding the mind of meditation in times of fear, anger, and desire, rather than trying to banish fear, anger, and desire from our consciousness. We need to practice what we preach in intimate relationships that affect us on a daily basis.

    What caught your attention in these chapters? Feel free to ignore my questions if you like, and explore your own. Share your thoughts!

    sat + lah
    展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

  2. #2
    Thank you for great post Byōkan.

    This looks like an interesting book.
    Please tell me what is the name of the book?

    Thank you

    With deep bows,
    Life itself is the only teacher.
    一 Joko Beck

    安知 Anchi

  3. #3
    Hi omom,

    yes, I'm really enjoying this book, it's called Zen Women by Grace Schireson. Really interesting, and inspiring too!

    sat + lah
    展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

  4. #4
    Thanks, Byōkan! I found these chapters really interesting as we move from historical and traditional Zen into looking at women practicing in a modern, western environment. For me, the arising for so many great female teachers in the west has been a really positive part of Buddhism coming to the west.

    The issues that Grace touches on with regard to monasticism, relationships and how most people in the west actually train is interesting. As I have probably mentioned before, my ex-wife practices in the Thai Forest tradition, and they are incredibly traditional in terms of their model of monasticism with celibacy being part of the package. Monastics are also mostly younger people rather than including possibilities for people, especially women, who wish to undertake this training after raising children. The model we tend to use in western Zen seems much more open and, maybe as a result, we have seen the rise of many great women teachers such as Grace, who have not had to choose between lay life and spiritual life. Further, this inclusion of all parts of life in practice seems to me to be incredibly likely to give them a better ability to communicate the Zen way to other householders rather than having to bridge the distance between monastic and householder.

    It is sad that male teachers in the west have abused their power over female students. As Grace says, it may be a human desire on the side of female students to want to be close to a male teacher and use sexual attraction as a way to obtain that, perhaps even unconsciously. However, as she also says, a good teacher should be able to use this as part of teaching and keep appropriate boundaries. To me, the onus is completely on the side of the teacher. I think that this kind of attraction needs to be spoken about more openly and acknowledged just as we talk about transference in therapeutic settings.

    Note: I am using gender binary language here as this is pretty much the language of the book but acknowledge the growing presence of non-binary folk in Zen which is another aspect to consider.


  5. #5
    I thought the comments on traditional versus western training interesting too and I liked the way it built on the previous chapters on how women in the past have practiced as householders. It was also timely as I'd just been listening to Jundo's podcast about traditional training compared to how he trained.

    The issue of male teachers in the west is sad but not altogether suprising given what we've seen come out post the Me Too movement and various church scandals although I wasn't altogether convinced about the Jungian approach Grace mentioned. I agree with Kokuu though about how boundaries need to be enforced and attraction needs be discussed openly.




  6. #6
    Hi All

    thanks for such thoughtful responses! I totally agree with you that boundaries + openness is the key.

    sat + lah
    展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

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