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Japan Station 06: Talking Zen with Gesshin Claire Greenwood

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Episode six of the Japan Station podcast is here and this time we’re talking about Zen.

Gesshin Claire Greenwood is a Zen priest and the author of the book Bow First, Ask Questions Later: Ordination, Love, and Monastic Zen in Japan. Funny, intense, and thought-provoking, the book chronicles the more than five years Gesshin spent in Japan training in Zen and living in monasteries. During her time in Japan she trained at both a temple monastery in Okayama Prefecture called Toshō-ji and an extremely strict monastery for Zen nuns in Aichi Prefecture called Niso-do. In this episode we talk about whether Zen is a religion, what led Gesshin to go to Japan, whether not knowing Japanese when she began training in Japan was an advantage, the difficulties of monastic life, a hilarious story involving a bullet train ride and faxed instructions on how to put on her kesagōri (a type of monastic pack for carrying one’s belongings), a famous Koan about a monk killing a cat, and much much more.

You won’t achieve enlightenment after listening to this episode, but it certainly won’t hurt!

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Extra Stuff

If you’d like to find out more about Gesshin’s story, then make sure to check out her book: Bow First, Ask Questions Later: Ordination, Love, and Monastic Zen in Japan.

Buy Bow First, Ask Questions Later on Amazon

You can also check out her website.

Gesshin.net

And her blog, That’s So Zen.

That’s So Zen

And here’s the article she mentioned about enlightenment being a male fantasy.

Enlightenment Is a Male Fantasy

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena
To listen to more of Yunomi’s music, check out his Souncloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Gesshin Claire Greenwood

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