Zen Women Chapter 7, Pages 147 - 154

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  • Byokan
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Apr 2014
    • 4280

    Zen Women Chapter 7, Pages 147 - 154

    Hi All,

    In this section we learn about Kasai Joshin, whose sewing practice contributed greatly to the character of Zen in the west. Her devotion to sewing the robe and the rakusu by hand has been passed along and has become an important part of our practice today. How do you feel about our sewing practice? Does it reach you in a different way than a Dharma talk or other ways of practicing/learning?

    Joshin-san had a male Teacher and once again we see the combination of rigorous teaching along with adaptation. Schireson notes that many times the Teacher who broke the rules to teach women was from an impeccable lineage with a more famous Teacher than himself. Indeed, this describes our Jundo, whose lineage is as good as it gets, and who has dedicated his life to sharing the Dharma with anyone who wishes sincerely to practice, inventing adaptations while upholding rigorous standards. When we adapt a practice to make it more accessible, is it “watered down”, just “good enough”, or is it truly still the real thing? How can you know?

    On page 152, Schireson notes that, “Mysteriously, the female lineage, once started, does not seem able to sustain and continue itself.” She offers a few possible reasons. What’s your opinion on why this has historically been true? Do you think this will change, going forward?

    She concludes, “Male Zen masters willingness to teach women was clearly essential to the survival of the female Zen tradition.” What are your thoughts on this?

    Anything else pique your interest in this weeks reading? Please share.


    Oh, and thankfully we only have one small section of a finger being severed this week. But it took all night!! Don't try this at home!

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    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.
  • Stewart
    Member
    • May 2017
    • 152

    #2
    I thought over the text and these questions while I was gardening yesterday. I can't help avoiding the conclusion that the issue is rooted in Buddhism's 'original sin' of mysogyny. Women were allowed into monastic practice because a high status woman (the Buddha's step mother) begged to be allowed to do so. The system was set up as dependent on and subservient to the male order which almost a recipe for failure in the long term as it prevents women being seen as co-equal adults along with the men. This pattern seems to have been repeated endlessly through Buddhist history - a high status woman is able to leverage her position to gain access to monastic practice and for a while a line develops under her but as the new generation emerges without that immunity from social pressure then the line is snuffed out. I think it is only when women are admitted to full practice alongside men and transmission happens from teacher to student with no reference to gender then this will end.

    Stewart
    Sat

    Comment

    • Byokan
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Apr 2014
      • 4280

      #3
      Originally posted by Stewart
      I thought over the text and these questions while I was gardening yesterday. I can't help avoiding the conclusion that the issue is rooted in Buddhism's 'original sin' of mysogyny. Women were allowed into monastic practice because a high status woman (the Buddha's step mother) begged to be allowed to do so. The system was set up as dependent on and subservient to the male order which almost a recipe for failure in the long term as it prevents women being seen as co-equal adults along with the men. This pattern seems to have been repeated endlessly through Buddhist history - a high status woman is able to leverage her position to gain access to monastic practice and for a while a line develops under her but as the new generation emerges without that immunity from social pressure then the line is snuffed out. I think it is only when women are admitted to full practice alongside men and transmission happens from teacher to student with no reference to gender then this will end.

      Stewart
      Sat
      Thanks Stewart,

      I think you go right to the heart of this issue. Schireson gets near it, but the way you spell it out really makes sense to me.

      Gassho
      Byōkan
      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.

      Comment

      • Heiso
        Member
        • Jan 2019
        • 824

        #4
        That's a great point. There's definitely a pattern of these women only being allowed in to practice and study because of either another high place woman or because a man lets her in. Even if a man does let her in this, as we see here right up to the 20th century, this is seen as an exception and is entirely dependent on a man being 'open-minded'.

        Gassho,

        Heiso

        StLah

        Sent from my RMX2001 using Tapatalk

        Comment

        • Bokucho
          Member
          • Dec 2018
          • 264

          #5
          I personally found the sewing to be a great addition to the practice and found it to be a really helpful opportunity to manifest so many teachings. I wasn't incredibly familiar with the history, so this chapter was a good read.

          As far as more accessible practice being "watered down" I do understand how it could seem that way to an outside observer, but really any practice is a product of the time and effort you put in. Ultimately it's a personal practice and up to the individual, so other's perceptions on whether or not it's a legitimate practice or watered down is wholly irrelevant. That also ties in to the potential lessons learned from sewing, we do it ourselves and no one can sew the rakusu for me. The rakusu is a product if my time and effort and symbolizes my practice. What someone else thinks it looks like really has no bearing.

          In this chapter I very much enjoyed the Buddha's robe legacy chart, it's always enjoyable to trace transmission histories.

          Gassho,

          Bokuchō
          SatToday/LAH

          Sent from my SM-N986U using Tapatalk

          Comment

          • Byokan
            Treeleaf Unsui
            • Apr 2014
            • 4280

            #6
            Originally posted by Bokucho
            ... As far as more accessible practice being "watered down" I do understand how it could seem that way to an outside observer, but really any practice is a product of the time and effort you put in. Ultimately it's a personal practice and up to the individual, so other's perceptions on whether or not it's a legitimate practice or watered down is wholly irrelevant...
            Nicely said. I agree!

            Gassho
            Byōkan
            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.

            Comment

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