Women and Zen

March is Women's History Month. In celebration, we offer two teachings from female Zen Practitioners/Teachers.  The first is from Zen Master Bon Shim, the regional Zen Master of the Kwan Um School of Zen (our parent organization) in Europe.  Her bio can be found here:
https://kwanumzen.org/teaching-library?author=591a241e86e6c040750ff524
 
This is a teaching of hers from a dharma talk given during winter Kyol Che at Wu Bong Sa Temple:
 
"The most common explanation about karma is cause and effect. What that means is that whatever happens in our life, whatever we are facing, what we are dealing with, whatever obstacles and hindrances and pain and suffering—whatever we have comes from some primary cause. But if you practice for some time then you see the meaning of karma in a broader way. That means that karma does not define our situation. What’s important is what kind of choices we make.
 
This is an important point. You cannot make excuses like “that is my karma” because it’s an open situation. What’s important is what you do with your karma, what kind of choices you make. And if you make right choices, then your karma might become your dharma. And then you can get free of your karma. Or at least you can control your karma. It always works in this way. Either karma controls you, or you control your karma. Having a human body means we have some karma. You cannot get rid of it, but you can use it."
 

Our next teaching comes from Charlotte Joko Beck (pictured above left) – a teacher who practiced in a Japanese tradition.  Her bio can be read here - https://www.ordinarymind.com/charlotte-joko-beck
 
“Life always gives us 
exactly the teacher we need 
at every moment. 
This includes every mosquito, 
every misfortune, 
every red light, 
every traffic jam, 
every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), 
every illness, every loss, 
every moment of joy or depression, 
every addiction, 
every piece of garbage, 
every breath. 

Every moment is the guru.” 
― Charlotte Joko Beck

Matthew Kamm