Bringing Zen HomeThe Healing Heart of Japanese Women's Rituals

Bringing Zen HomeThe Healing Heart of Japanese Women's Rituals

Paula Arai

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824835354

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press


Healing lies at the heart of Zen. This book reveals a vital stream of religious practice that flourishes outside the bounds of formal institutions through sacred rites that women develop and transmit to one another. Everyday objects and common materials are used in inventive ways. The book brings a fresh perspective to Zen scholarship by uncovering a previously unrecognized but nonetheless vibrant strand of lay practice. The creativity of domestic Zen is evident in the ritual activities that women fashion, weaving tradition and innovation, to gain a sense of wholeness and balance in the midst of illness, loss, and anguish. Their rituals include chanting, ingesting elixirs and consecrated substances, and contemplative approaches that elevate cleaning, cooking, child-rearing, and caring for the sick and dying into spiritual disciplines. Creating beauty is central to domestic Zen and figures prominently in the book’s analyses. This book, the first study of the ritual lives of Zen laywomen, applies a cutting-edge ethnographic method to reveal a thriving domain of religious practice.