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Women Zen Masters In Dogen's RAIHAI TOKUZUI (& Related Sites)
Zen Master Dogen's Gender-Inclusive Studies of the Way
Julia Nakamura's Japanese Tea Ceremony
Women Masters in the Chuang-Tzu
Calligraphic Drawings for Dogen's Eco-Spirituality
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Women Zen Masters In Dogen's RAIHAI TOKUZUI Although written by a Japanese monk in the year 1240, the "Raihai Tokuzui" (Attaining the Marrow Through Reverence), is considered one of the most insightful and essential teachings on the subject of women's equality in Zen Buddhism. Excerpts from this essay by Zen Master Dogen are presented here (edited and adpated with line breaks) from translations in Hee-Jin Kim's "Flowers of Emptiness," Lewiston NY: E. Mellen Press, 1985; and the Nishiyama and Stevens translation of the "Shobogenzo," Tokyo: Japan Publications Trading Company, 1977.)
    Most difficult for the person engaged in training
    for supreme, perfect enlightenment
    is to find a guide.

    It is irrelevant whether a guide
    has male or female characteristics,
    and the like;
    what counts is that the guide be
    a being of virtue, of thusness.

    One need not be of the past or of the present;
    even the spirit of a wild fox may be a qualified mentor.
    Such is the way of the attainment of the marrow:
    a mentor guides and assists
    without obscuring cause and effect,
    and may well be you, me or another...

    Shakyamuni Buddha said:

    "When you meet a mentor
    who expounds supreme enlightenment,
    you should notice neither its lineage nor its appearance;
    neither should you detest its faults
    or concern yourself with its conduct.
    Because you treasure wisdom alone,
    you should feed it daily
    hundreds of thousands of taels in gold.
    Pay homage to it
    by offering heavenly meals
    and sprinkling celestial flowers...

    Ever since I first aroused my mind,
    I have applied myself to training in this manner
    and have now attained supreme, perfect enlightenment."

    When Kuan-ch'i Chih-hsien
    arrived at the place of nun Mo-shan,
    Mo-shan asked:

    "Where did you come from?"
    Chih-hsien replied: "From the open road."
    Mo-shan asked: "Then why did you not cover it?"

    The master was wordless.
    Immediately he made obeisance and became her disciple.

    The master later asked Mo-shan:
    "What kind of mountain is Mo-shan [Mt. Mo]?"
    Mo-shan replied: "Its summit is not visible."

    The master asked:
    "Who is the person in this mountain?"
    Mo-shan replied: "It has nothing to do
    with male or female features or the like."

    The master asked: "Why do you not change yourself ?"
    Mo-shan answered: "Since I am not the spirit of a wild fox,
    how can I change?"

    The master bowed in reverence.
    Eventually he aroused his mind,
    and worked as the monk in charge of the vegetable garden
    for three years.

    Later when he became abbot of a monastery,
    Chih-hsien instructed the assembly saying:
    "I attained a half ladle of dharma-water
    at the venerable father Lin-shi's place
    and another half at the venerable mother Mo-shan's.
    The two together making a full ladle,
    I drank it up and have been thoroughly full ever since."


    Nun Myoshin was a disciple of Gyozan.

    Once Gyozan was looking for a suitable candidate
    for the monastery's administrative chief.
    He asked the senior experienced monks
    to recommend a good person.
    Many opinions were offered and finally Gyozan said,

    "The nun Myoshin from the Wai river district is a woman,
    but she has a superior spirit
    and is the best qualified person for administrative chief."

    All agreed and Myoshin was appointed to the position.
    At that time
    there were many excellent disciples under Gyozan
    but no one was dissatisfied with the decision.

    Although her position was not the most important one
    she did her best and loved others as herself.

    Once she was working in the administrative quarters
    and seventeen monks from the Shoku district
    came to see her master.

    They wanted to climb the mountain right away
    but it was too late
    and they had to spend the night
    at the administrative quarters.

    At night they began to discuss the famous story
    of the sixth buddha-ancestor and the wind and flag.*
    All of the seventeen monks gave their respective opinions
    but all were off the mark.

    *[Story of the WIND & THE FLAG
    also discussed in Dogen's IMMO fascicle:

    Before the thirty-third buddha-ancestor
    Ta-chien (Hui-neng) became a full-fledged monk,
    he was staying at the Fa-shih Temple of Kuang-chou,
    when two monks crossed words with each other.
    One of them said, "A banner is fluttering."
    The other said, "No, the wind is blowing."
    There seemed to be no end to their discussion.
    Then Ta-chien (Hui-neng) said, '"Neither of them
    is moving. Your minds are moving." On hearing this,
    they agreed with him.]

    Myoshin overheard the discussion and said,
    "It's a pity that the seventeen donkeys have worn out
    so many pairs of straw sandals on pilgrimages
    and still cannot even dream about the Buddhist dharma."

    A little later Myoshin's attendant told them
    what his master thought about their discussion,
    but none of them were dissatisfied,
    or resentful about it.
    On the contrary, they were ashamed
    at their lack of attainment of the Way.

    They straightened up their robes,
    offered incense,
    made prostrations
    and sought her instruction.

    She said, "Please come closer."
    But before they could come closer she shouted,
    "The wind is not moving,
    the flag is not moving,
    the mind is not moving!"

    When they heard that
    all of them reflected on their own hearts,
    then bowed to her in gratitude and became her disciples.
    Soon after that they returned to Seishu
    without even visiting Gyozan.

    Truly Myoshin's level is not surpassed
    by the three sages and ten saints
    and her actions
    are those of one who transmits the right stream
    of the Buddhas and Buddha ancestors.

Related Sites:

Calligraphic Drawings for Dogen's Eco-Spirituality
Julia Nakamura's Japanese Tea Ceremony
Women Masters in the Chuang-Tzu
Tibetan Buddhist Master, Machig Lapdron