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Gisho's Work

Gisho was ordained as a nun when she was just ten years old. She received training just as the little boys did. When she reached the age of sixteen she traveled from one Zen master to another, studying with them all. She remained three years with Unzan, six years with Gukei, but was unable to obtain a clear vision. At last she went to the master Inzan. Inzan showed her no distinction at all on account of her sex. He scolded her like a thunderstorm. He cuffed her to awaken her inner nature. Gisho remained with Inzan thirteen years, and then she found that which she was seeking! In her honor, Inzan wrote a poem: This nun studied thirteen years under my guidance. In the evening she considered the deepest koans, In the morning she was wrapped in other koans. The Chinese nun Tetsuma surpassed all before her, And since Mujaku none has been so genuine as this Gisho! Yet there are many more gates for her to pass through. She should receive still more blows from my iron fist. After Gisho was enlightened she went to the province of Banshu, started her own Zen temple, and taught two hundred other nuns until she passed away one year in the month of August.


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