Video Available! Paula Arai: "Blossoming in the Mud: Healing Practices of Japanese Buddhist Women"

Paula Arai
Thursday October 14th 2021, 7:00 - 8:30PM
Event Sponsor
The Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford


The prodigious stream of Japanese Buddhist women in roles of leadership and healing extends the length of Japanese Buddhist history. Buddhist women’s wisdom is manifest in both monastic and domestic spheres. Ethnographically driven research has been essential to learn about them, for even textual materials about them are rarely catalogued in libraries or included in collected works purporting to be “complete.” In domestic contexts, women’s influence is imparted through embodying the teachings in daily life. Examining this realm opens a window into the creative healing practices that characterizes women’s activity in the home.


Paula K. R. Arai received her PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University, specializing in Japanese Sōtō Zen. She is author of Women Living Zen: Japanese Sōtō Buddhist Nuns (Oxford University Press, 2012), Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Buddhist Women’s Rituals (University of Hawai`i Press, 2011), and Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart SūtraThe Buddhist Art of Iwasaki Tsuneo (Shambhala Publications). Her research has received a range of support, including from the Fulbright Program and the American Council of Learned Societies. She trained at Aichi Senmon Nisōdō under the tutelage of Aoyama Shundō Rōshi. Arai is currently a professor of Buddhist Studies at Louisiana State University, where she holds the Urmila Gopal Singhal Professorship in Religions of India.


Japanese calligraphy in black ink on white paper that reads, "Hey, you can do it!"

“Hey, you can do it!”

Calligraphy of Kojima Kendō (1898–1995) at age 94, the nun who persevered to establish nuns’ rules on a par with monks’ rules.