The Millions

Unsung Women: Buddhist Women’s Poetry and the Revival of the Female Teaching Lineage

One of the holiest forms of practice in Zen is the chanting of names of one’s Buddhist ancestors and teachers. In Japan, China, and Korea, prayers reciting one’s teaching lineage are a common part of the rituals, soaring back in Japanese, Korean or classical Chinese through the venerable line of monks, masters and saints, all the way back to , the monk credited with bringing Buddhism from India to China. Every Zendo has a different founder and thus a different lineage; teachers proudly recite these chains as pedigrees of legitimacy and power. The thing all these traditional teaching lineages have in common is that they are made up almost exclusively of men. Women have participated in Buddhist traditions as far back as the time of the , but they exist only tenuously in the stories, poems, and songs: a nun in a folktale here, a relative

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