Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns

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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.