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Buddhadharma : Winter 2009
77 winter 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly So here’s the thumbnail review: Read this book. What we know of Zen has been incomplete, because the part about women—their stories and their teachings through the ages—has mostly remained hidden from ordinary sight. Grace Schireson’s book is an important contribution toward making our understanding of Zen whole. The heart of Zen Women is a survey of women practicing and teaching in China, Korea, and Japan from the earliest times to the present. The author connects this history to the Indian Buddhism that preceded it and to how things are evolving in the West, particularly in North America. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but much of this material has been available only in scholarly publications, and making it easily accessible, even in survey form, is a great gift. Part 1 is called “Zen’s Women” and touches on the way women were portrayed in classical Buddhist and Zen literature. The arrangement of part 2, “Women’s Zen,” is especially engaging: the stories cluster around themes like nuns and family practice, and nuns and sexuality, showing how women in different cultures and eras have dealt with the same challenges—over and over again. Part 3, “Women and Zen in Western Practice,” consists largely of the author’s analysis of our current situation and her proposals for the future. It’s written from a particular point of view rather than surveying a variety of views, and so it will probably speak best to readers who essentially agree with the author. Reviews HIDDEN NO MORE Zen wOMen Beyond tea-Ladies, iron Maidens, and Macho Masters By Grace Schireson wisdom Publications, 2009 $16.95; 375 pages (paperback) JOAN SUTHERLAND, ROSHI is a teacher in the Zen koan tradition and the founder of Awakened Life in Santa Fe, New Mexico. RenshinBunce reviewed by Joan Sutherland