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Seven Arguments for Empowering Zen Women: Dogen

Receiving The Marrow Edited by Eido Frances Carney Sangaku Dan Joslyn, 5/8/22

Welcome, every month, I’ll ask each person to take one minute to share an initial impression about the author’s commentary. I’ll take five-seven minutes to make opening comments.

The remainder of the time we’ll have a general discussion, as the Dharma moves us…

Chapter Four Dogen’s Seven Arguments for Empowering Zen Women: Raihaitokuzui By Grace Jill Schireson

Grace Jill Schireson-Roshi is a Dharma heir of Mel Weitsman, founder and Abbess of the Empty Nest Zen Group as well as four other centers and associations. She also trained in Rinzai in Japan and is a clinical psychologist


Dharma Sister Chi earnestly begged me (Dogen) for the custody of the ashes of the late master. Her dedication to Master Myozen is firm and deep. Her ardent request is to be honored. ¯ Therefore, I entrusted them to her. In this act of transmission, I wish to express my loving respect for my former teacher, and I pray that this sincere act of transmission of ashes will contribute to the dissemination of the genuine teaching [of Buddhism in Japan].21 This “Chishi” is identified as Myochi ¯ 明智. 22 She was the mother of Ekan, or Ekan Daishi 慧観大姉 (1232–1316), who was the mother of Keizan Jokin ¯ 瑩山紹瑾 (1268–1325). Myochi raised her grandson, ¯ took the eight-year-old boy to Eiheiji, where she knew Ejo and Gikai from her days of zazen practice, ¯ asked them to admit her grandson as a novice monk, and placed him under the care of Gikai 義介, the third abbot of Eiheiji.23 Years later in 1312 Keizan established a chapel Entsuin, on the compound of ¯ Yok¯ oji in Hakui on the Noto Peninsula. It was a chapel specifically dedicated to the female practitioners ¯ of zazen, as Keizan wished to pay tribute to his grandmother Myochi in his loving memory of her and ¯ the gratitude for her

Master Cheng Yen points out that this truth of equality is at the heart of religion:

The truth is that all human beings, no matter their race or religion, are in essence equal. Religion, in fact, is about the true principles of life. When a religion offers a correct teaching of these principles, by following the teachings, people will be able to do a lot of good and benefit all humankind. But, some people, speaking in the name of religion, use it to establish a sense of supremacy or superiority. True, authentic religions always hope people can understand that all human beings are inherently equal and possess the same true nature. They will teach people that they too are capable of achieving the kind of unsurpassed wisdom that the most exalted sage or holy person. has achieved – in other words, each and every one of us has the same, an ‘Enlightened One’.


  1. Master Dogen’s being-time was writing and building a sangha aligned with teaching he found and formulated after returning from China (p.57-66)

  2. Essence of Buddhadharma as expressed by Bodhidharma is equal transmission of Dharma, yet prejudice regarding women’s worthiness prevaled (p.58).

  3. Dogen wished to develop a complete Sangha but did not occur until 1989 in Japan (p.58)

  4. Raihaitokuzui:

    1. Whether male or female all teachers should be people of thusness (Inmo)...not making personal judgements and as such is an expression of marrow (p.59-60)...bowing

    2. Whether male or female bow to a teachers’ instructions (p.60)...the Dharma has more weight than his or her body…putting away one’s own ‘head’ bowing to the teacher inwardly…women taught by male teachers– Mosahn and Miaoxin…

    3. Whether male or female the teachings were authentic (p.62)

    4. Whether male or female teaching flows from teacher to student and men have recognized this in men have recognized this in the past (p.62). Could it be that these men received more than less?

    5. Whether male or female it is the way of true ancestors to see the thusness and the Sung period was more advanced in this regard. (p.62)

    6. Whether male or female no inherent self or emptiness speaks to equality of women…(p.63).

    7. Whether male or female should be able to have full access to teachings, sites, and ceremonies…(p.64)

  5. The foolishness body hindrances and other such drunken delusions…(p.64-66)

  6. Dogen set the stage for women equality in Soto Zen tradition… (p.66)

  7. Footnote #3 (p.67) Around the time of Buddha inhibited women from being equal to men to hear the Dharma, teach the Dharma, and be of equal status of the Dharma…

  8. Footnote #4 (p.67) identifies Bodhidharma, Joshu,Yuanwu, Dahui, Keizan, Hakuin, Man’ gong, Yasutani, Shibiayama as masters who taught women…

Our next meeting will be June 28, 2022. My bows to Hojo-san for switching Tuesdays next month so I can officiate at my daughter’s wedding in California:

Chapter Five Astride the Highest Mountain: Dogen’s Being/Time, A Practitioner’s Guide Uji Shinshu Roberts

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