Zen Women, Chapter 8, Pages 174-183

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  • Geika
    Treeleaf Unsui
    • Jan 2010
    • 4978

    Zen Women, Chapter 8, Pages 174-183

    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
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.
  • Heiso
    • Jan 2019
    • 824

    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




    • Kokuu
      Treeleaf Priest
      • Nov 2012
      • 6755

      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, 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.



      • Geika
        Treeleaf Unsui
        • Jan 2010
        • 4978

        Lovely, Kokuu.

        Sat, lah
        求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
        I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.


        • Stewart
          • May 2017
          • 152

          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.