Stories of past masters are central to Zen practice. They’re meant to teach lessons about the dharma and to inspire practice by demonstrating an ideal—that ideal, however, is almost always male. It is time to return the feminine to our sacred stories. In this series, Tenku Ruff, Osho, shines a light on the lives of exemplary Zen women who embody the qualities of compassion, strength, equanimity, authenticity, and selflessness.
In these four talks, we’ll explore the stories of four dedicated female practitioners who demonstrate dharma’s unique expressions in female form. Joshin, a young Japanese nun living near Hiroshima during World War II, rose to the occasion when the atomic bomb decimated her community and found courage through compassion. Shundo Aoyama Roshi, one of the foremost contemporary Japanese Zen teachers and the highest-ranking nun in Soto Zen history, exemplifies equanimity and dignity. Kanehira-san, a laywoman and temple caretaker, exemplifies strength through humility and service. And Maura Soshin O’Halloran, one of the first Western women to study Zen in Japan, reaped the fruits of selflessness and spiritual attainment from her dedicated practice.
Tenku Ruff, Osho, a Soto Zen priest and chaplain, is President of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and a teacher at Beacon Zen Center in Beacon, New York. Learn more about her in our Visting Teacher profile.
Shundo Aoyama Roshi pictured with Tenku Ruff, Osho in Japan.
Kanehira-san (Ryu Tetsuma) at a birthday celebration at Kannonji temple.
Maura Soshin O’Halloran working in the kitchen at Kannonji temple.