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Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters Paperback – October 27, 2009
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"Encouraging, inspiring, and profoundly useful. A kind of Blue Cliff Record for our own time." (Jane Hirshfield)
"An exceptional and powerful classic with great depth, humor, and clarity." (Joan Halifax, abbess of Upaya Zen Center)
"This book changes everything! Zen Women is about all of us. It resets the common understanding of Zen history with eye-opening stories. A must-read." (Pat Enkyo O'Hara, abbess of the Village Zendo)
"These pages come alive with the power to inspire." (Sojun Mel Weitsman, abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center)
"Full inclusion of women is the single most revolutionary development in religion for our time. This book is crucial for anyone who wants to understand contemporary spiritual practice." (Norman Fischer, author of Sailing Home)
"Men and women alike will weep to read these stories of generations of Zen women who risked everything-sometimes even their lives-to study the Dharma. This book should be required reading for truth seekers of every faith." (Lewis Richmond, author of Work as a Spiritual Practice)
"With passion and verve, this inspiring work is a significant step towards filling the gaping holes in Buddhist literature on women's practice. Read it, laugh, and weep-and most of all, feel empowered." (Wendy Egyoku Nakao, abbess of the Zen Center Los Angeles)
"Fascinating and delightful. This book will overturn many long-held stereotypes about Zen." (Ruben L.F. Habito, author of Living Zen, Loving God)
"Zen Women opens, onto millennia and across continents, women's places in Zen. The word beyond in the subtitle charges us to pass by the common yet limiting images of our possibilities as Buddhist women and move toward those that make us proud and ready to build an American Zen. Schireson is making a new record for the future. She seeks to resolve contradictions and missing stories in the record not by claiming victimization of women and calling for restitution but by revising the record and reinterpreting the Zen lineage for our own time. The stories function as case studies of women's social engagement and encouragement for women's leadership in the sangha and in society." (Inquiring Mind)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Having said that, the author has no axe to grind, preferring to invite these women to the table of Zen's official history and, whenever possible, let them speak for themselves, rather than simply lament (and lay blame for) their often historical exclusion.
Excellent, incredibly important book.
"I actually had problems with that book, to the point I had to just stop reading it. In my opinion, the author has a clear agenda and I disliked her constant dismissing of the stories of female teachers in the lineage as being too masculinized. I thought it belittled and did a disservice to what few women teachers in Zen history that we have stories about. As a woman who enjoys being female yet who is drawn to things or acting in ways that our culture stereotypes as male or masculine, I don't think that I am somehow not an authentic female because of it. I respect and admire the stories of the tough Zen women and "iron maidens" that have gotten passed down through the generations. While some of the author's research was compelling, it was lost in the constant criticism of these stories as not truly representing women. I, for one, relate to these stories! But by the author's account I don't really count as a real woman so that doesn't matter.
So I consider "Zen Women" to be more of a feminist polemic... more fit for a Women's Studies class about theories of gender constructions in narrative histories... than any sort of record or reverential account of our female Zen ancestors. I sort of like to imagine one of these "iron maidens" whacking Grace Schireson over the head with a kyosaku.
I far prefer Sallie Tisdale's book Women of the Way as a record of women's stories in the lineage. It includes early Indian Buddhist women ancestors but also includes many Chan and Zen female ancestors... without the annoying critical interpolations that bog down Zen Women."
So keep in mind what you're getting when you buy this book. If you want to be inspired by stories of female Zen ancestors, you may be disappointed, as I was. The author has no more respect for these women than the patriarchs who ignored and neglected their stories.
In specific - This text includes lives of active & engaged compassion as part of Buddhist practice. A surprising side-effect for our Zendo was inspiration of organized charitable work as a natural outgrowth of practice. This will linger with us as a book that changed us for the better.
Grace Schireson helps us learn in her fun, factual, forward, fascinating style. Yes, a Great Gift to give to us and a Must Read for women and men who want to continue a path of empowerment
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had no idea the scope of Buddhist nuns over time and their perseverance was totally impressive. No wimps there!!!Published on October 8, 2013 by Baking Fool
Feminist propaganda the likes of the most extreme "women's rights activists" (ie Gloria Steinem).
I began reading this book to gain wisdom that would challenge the often... Read more
The book presents great history, and ties it into relevant application to present day zen women. I highly recommend it.Published on February 26, 2013 by Jan
This book which was intented to be a gift for my wife has become extremely valuable for me also. We practice together, we read the book together, shared the deep understanding and... Read morePublished on September 28, 2011 by Reginald
I'm grateful to Grace Schireson for providing us with a much needed history of women in Zen. As a woman, mother, Zen teacher, psychologist, she brings a broad understanding to the... Read morePublished on May 30, 2010 by Susan Moon
An amazing book which chronicles the historical treatment of women in Zen. Time and again as we read this, the thought kept coming up - why haven't we ever heard these stories... Read morePublished on May 13, 2010 by crowtales
Grace Schireson shines her light on (in this exceptional account of) women in Zen history. In what could have been a portrayal of women as victims (again) instead, is an uplifting... Read morePublished on May 3, 2010 by Baika