The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women

Language: English

Pages: 440

ISBN: 0861716590

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Hidden Lamp is a collection of one hundred koans and stories of Buddhist women from the time of the Buddha to the present day. This revolutionary book brings together many teaching stories that were hidden for centuries, unknown until this volume. These stories are extraordinary expressions of freedom and fearlessness, relevant for men and women of any time or place. In these pages we meet nuns, laywomen practicing with their families, famous teachers honored by emperors, and old women selling tea on the side of the road.

Each story is accompanied by a reflection by a contemporary woman teacher--personal responses that help bring the old stories alive for readers today--and concluded by a final meditation for the reader, a question from the editors meant to spark further rumination and inquiry. These are the voices of the women ancestors of every contemporary Buddhist.

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parents’ death, she ran a bathhouse and wrote Dharma poetry on the walls. She was praised by masters like Yuanwu and Foyan, and she finally became a nun in old age. She was also known as Weiju, or by her lay name, Zhidong. Kuan Yin (known as Kannon in Japan or Guanyin in China) is the female manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. She is an important figure in China, Japan, and Korea. Kye Jeon Sunim (Korean, 1891–1995) was a Korean Zen nun who lived to be 104. Langye

Savatti, and Buddha’s disciple Shariputra came forward to engage her in a public debate. First she asked a series of philosophical questions of Shariputra, and he was able to answer them all. Then he said, “You have asked many questions. I would like to ask only one.” She said, “Please ask, venerable one.” He asked, “One—what is that?” She was unable to answer. He said, “If you don’t even know that, how could you know anything else?” and began to teach her the Dharma. She was so moved by the

relaxing than going head-to-head in a tiny room with a Zen master waving a stick, as has happened in my past. “The koan implies this question,” Jim said, “How were the fishes fed?” Perhaps the waters of Lake Biwa were cold and dark that day, and the fishes remained hungry. Or maybe it was sunny, and they rose cheerfully to the surface to gulp down mosquitoes. I was not there and I do not know. But I am glad that Ikkyu didn’t jump, and I am happy he went instead to see his mother, and I imagine

these qualities too, for good reason. On the path, we need to be both challenged and supported, as the naga princess was in this story, and as I was, when I first arrived at the retreat residence of the legendary Geshe Wangyal. It was a hot summer day and he was outside, watering the garden. As I nervously approached, he shifted the angle of his wrist and started watering me. The sheer surprise relaxed my worry and also kept me watchful about what might happen next. Ocean-like wisdom is both the

patriarchal assumptions of Japanese Zen, showing that her practice was not an escape but a way to come face to face with the truth of her times. She was asked if she was capable of expounding the Dharma. Although she respected those teachers who gave discourses, she had lived too long on the edge of the dagger to look beyond the truth that was right in front of her. The dagger is so unpretentious it heals. I got my formal warrior’s training in the late 1960s with the first Japanese Rinzai Zen

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