Through the Eye of a Needle

Before I start-- a few exciting things about my book(s). My first book--halfway between a memoir and dharma book-- will be called Bow First, Ask Questions Later: Ordination, Love, and Zen in Japan. It's due to come out May 2018. And, I'm not quite ready to announce the publisher yet, but I will be signing this month for my second book, a Japanese cookbook and meditation on the philosophy of "just enough." That should be out in the fall of 2019, if all goes to plan. 
As I struggled this week through book deals, contracts, part-time jobs, and watched the train wreck that is our political system take a bizarre and unexpectedly pleasant detour into "don't fuck with female senators" land (while still being, by all objective accounts, a train wreck), I found myself thinking about Jesus. Odd, really, because I've never believed in the God of Abraham and was never all that interested in what Jesus has said, even the good and noble things. But as I watched …

Karma: Cosmic Re-gifting for the Whole Family

I think one of the biggest lies Buddhism teaches is about karma. The lie is not that karma exists, but that we can know when and exactly how it will "ripen." There are many scriptures and writings you can read detailing what results from specific actions; for example, in the ancient Indian system, being a thief led to deformed nails or black teeth. Dogen also explicitly instructs repentance to correct bad karma.

It is probably my *karma* as the child of two medical professionals that I don't think getting cancer is caused by bad karma. I also don't really believe in future lives. Or, who knows.

This week I got back from a long trip to Japan, where I did some research for my master's thesis and completed Zuise, the final step in dharma transmission, in which you visit both Eiheiji and Sojiji to be "abbot for a day." "Zuise" means "auspicious occasion for coming out in the world," and it is supposed to signify moving into some kind o…

Does feminism have a role in Buddhism?

This is a paper I wrote for my feminist theory class about whether or not Western feminists should judge other cultures. It's long and has big words in it. 

Phantom Imaginings of the Hegemonized: The Problem of Renunciation in the Study of Buddhist Women

We would sleep on the floor on futons laid out side-by-side, so close that if we rolled over in our sleep we would end up touching the nun sleeping next to us. I remember waking up once and seeing Senju-san beside me, her shaved head pressed against her own futon as she prostrated. Before sleeping and getting out of bed we were instructed to do three full bows, starting in standing and then lowering down to touch our foreheads to the floor. I remember seeing her and how even in the darkness, some light reflected off her white kimono and onto her bald head.In the convent, we were all supposed to wear white kimono to sleep, but only Senju-san and a few other nuns did this. The rest of us wore pajamas, because they were easier and mo…