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A Perspective of Women in Koans

Male perspective of women in Buddhism has changed over the millennia (as have those of contemporary women practitioners).

Shakyamuni Buddha liberated how members of the Sangha viewed the caste system and women, 2500 years ago.

It was a small step and found difficult to maintain with the larger cultural context of the time. Two steps forward and one back is the story of equanimity as a staple of Buddhism and Zen.

In early koans women were seen in limited although significant ways. Their appearance in stories usually suggest wisdom, cleverness, sometimes beauty, and they are usually nameless. At the same time women were Buddhist matriarchs in their own right. In the Silent Thunder Order we speak the name of both men and women in our lineage during Founders' Month each November.

In other legends and stories characters sometime are referred to as male or female and some are not described by gender, although the inference is usually taken as male. There have been in the last ten years several books that speak of these women: Zen Women and, The Hidden Lamp are two. Barbara O'Brien in article entitled: "Women Ancestors of Zen Buddhism," writes of several individuals making it clear we have miles to go to understand how all practioners are enriched by their contributions to Zen Buddhism-

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 we will meet and visit with a Gatekeeper of Chan. Unnamed and described as old, she is the center of a mosaic of interconnectedness at the crossroads of decision-making on the way to Mount Wutai. How can this be? Do we accept directions? Who wants to know, and who are we anyway? And, what about Manjushri?

All awaits...join us for the story...

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