Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns

ISBN : 9780199928682

Paula Kane Robinson Arai
268 ページ
156 x 234 mm

"A long overdue corrective to the androcentric scholarship that has ignored Zen nuns' importance...This very readable book is ideal for classroom use."-Religious Studies Review "Arai's sensitive first-hand account is at times emotional, but the reflexive recollections that derive from her personal experiences and interactions with the nuns are insightful and well documented...the book is valuable in providing us with a different mode of appreciation in order to understand the position of women living in [an]other religious and cultural context."-Japanese Journal of Religious Studies "This is an anthropological study, carried out with love, care, and attention to detail...By the end of the journey, readers will find themselves moved, their humanity reassured and refreshed."-Journal of Asian Studies In this study, based on both historical evidence and ethnographic data, Paula Arai shows that nuns were central agents in the foundation of Buddhism in Japan in the sixth century. They were active participants in the Soto Zen sect, and have continued to contribute to the advancement of the sect to the present day. Drawing on her fieldwork among Soto nuns, Arai demonstrates that the lives of many of these women embody classical Buddhist ideals. They have chosen to lead a strictly disciplined monastic life instead of pursuing careers or leading an unconstrained contemporary secular lifestyle. In this, and other respects, they can be shown to stand in stark contrast to their male counterparts.


Transliteration Guide
One: Introduction
Scholarly Contexts
Theoretical Considerations
Methodological Considerations
Two: Historical Background
Pioneering Monastics
Dogen and Women
Tokugawa Encroachments
Meiji Reclamations
Three: Twentieth-Century Leadership
First Generation: Rapid Ascent Through Education
Second Generation: Stategists of Egalitarianism
Third Generation: Zen Master of a New Tradition
Four: The Monastic Practices of Zen Nuns
Nuns' Vision of Monastic Life
Daily Life in a Monastery of Zen Nuns
Divisions within the Monastery
Ceremonial Rituals and Activities
Educational Curriculum and Degrees
The Aesthetics of Discipline
Five: Motivations, Commitments, and Self-Perceptions
Changing Life Patterns of Twentieth-Century Zen
Buddhist Practice: Meaning and Action
Nuns' Views on Monastic Life
Six: Conclusion: Innovators for the Sake of Tradition
Preservers and Creators of Buddhist Tradition
Bearers and Transmitters of Traditional Japanese Culture
Appendix A: Questionnaire
Appendix B: Glossary of Japanese Terms


Paula Arai is associate professor of Asian religions at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include Japanese Buddhist rituals, arts, and practices; women's experiences and contributions; and healing. Her primary research is based on anthropological fieldwork in Japan and has been supported by Fulbright, American Council of Learned Societies, Mellon Foundation, and the Reischauer Institute of Harvard University. In addition to numerous articles and chapters in edited volumes, Arai is also the author of Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women's Rituals.