Thesis: Healing and Experiencing Interdependence

Jun 4th, 2017

Image copyright: Daria Nepriakhina

I have been inspired by some recent posts by Rev. Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler over at the website No Zen in The West. He has posted two posts (First this one and then this one) that resonate with the third chapter of my thesis called “Paula Arai’s Theory of Experiencing Interdependence”  I thought I would share it.  I realize that the formatting is a bit messed up.  I will see what I can do to fix it.

“As important as these [diet, exercise, drugs, and surgery] are, I have found that perhaps the most powerful intervention… is the healing power of love and intimacy, and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often results from these” – Dr. Ornish[1] as quoted by Paula Arai[2]


In her book Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals, Arai maps out ten principles and creates a definition of healing based in Buddhist teachings and practices. Her work developed through skillful ethnographic research of Japanese Buddhist laywomen. These ten principles not only provide an assessment tool that can point out barriers to healing but also provide a guide for what healing means in a Buddhist and/or chaplaincy context. In this chapter, I will clarify and explore the relationship of the Buddhist teaching of interdependence as Arai’s first principle of healing, “experiencing interrelatedness.” I will argue that this “experiencing interrelatedness” is foundational to Arai’s concept of healing and how Arai’s ideas can be extrapolated to show the healing power of communities. I will begin by providing an historical and broader understanding of the Buddhist concept of interdependence and then I will concentrate on how Arai shapes this broad idea into her first principle.

Arai sees healing as “a path of retraining themselves [her Japanese women consociates] to act in harmony with the way that things are: impermanent and interrelated.”[3] Arai’s ethnographic research was centered on twelve laywomen consociates that she interviewed and spent time with in ritual as well as personal settings. Her work centers on the lived experience of the women and what these women have to say. Rather than impose her own Western understanding on these women’s experiences, Arai conducts her study up close and personal by allowing the women to speak for themselves as much as possible.

For Arai and her consociates, healing is not a static state of being one arrives at, but instead it is a way of being. This healing is directly connected to an embodied spiritual practice in the context and experience of one’s immediate life. When I was a spiritual caregiver at Zen Hospice Project from 2003-2007, I often came across people who were healed while still dying. Like Arai’s consociates, these people were healed because they began to engage in the experiences of right now in an embodied way. The healing wasn’t physical or curative, this was truly the end of their lives, and yet there were those actively engaged in the art and process of healing. The understanding of healing as more than a physical act is also demonstrated by what I see as chaplains, social workers, psychotherapists, and others caregivers (other than doctors and nurses) on patient-centered care teams in hospitals around the country. This would not be so evident in my experience if healing were largely viewed as only a curative or allopathic. Arai’s particular articulation reaches deeply into Buddhist history and teachings in order to illuminate this in a particular kind of way. Drawing on the concept of “do” (道)[4] defined sometimes as “way” as in Butsudo (Buddha way) or Chado (way of tea) etc.[5] points to more than just an intellectual study, instead it indicates a full body /mind experiential undertaking that transcends the physical and intellectual enactment for complete experience.[6] Giving clarity to this in her work, Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals, Arai uses the phrase yudo, (way of healing) to describe her use of this conceptual marker.[7]

Pratityasamutpada[8] (interdependence) is a predominate theory in Buddhism which states that all things arise together and because of each other. Another way to think of this is that all things depend on or are mutually reliant on all other things for existence. An example could be how when we eat a carrot, we are not just eating the carrot. We are eating the soil, and the sun and the rain. The soil is made up of organic matter that was likely alive at some point, and then decomposed. The carrot takes up these nutrients and, through the act of photosynthesis, uses the energy of the sun to extract and move the nutrients needed throughout the plant so it can grow into what we call “carrot.” This carrot you eat has been planted by someone, tended by someone, picked by someone, packed by someone, shipped by someone, stocked by someone, and sold to you by someone. All of these people are in existence because of the myriad causes and conditions of their lives. All of this they bring to the moment they interact with your carrot. This influences the carrot and thereby influences you. Perhaps someone else cooked the carrot and served it to you. We could follow any of these trails down to atoms of energy that are circling each other and it would still be endless. Arai calls this interrelatedness. I will use interrelatedness and interdependence interchangeably.

The original statement of Interdependence, stated in the Loka Sutta as:

This is because that is

This is not because that is not

This ceases to be because that ceases to be.[9]

“This” and “that” is referring to all things. The Buddha also taught that there is no abiding or permanent self which is the teaching on no-self (anatta in Pali or anatman in Sanskrit).[10] Since the Buddha refused to answer when questioned about whether the teaching on no self was a metaphysical or ontological statement, it has become a much discussed and commented on subject after the historical Buddha’s death. [11] Either way, in my experience, this should not be understood as a nihilistic approach or a question of existence or non-existence, but simply a statement on the nature of there being no abiding, unchanging self.

Being that all things (including any “self” that we can point to) arise due to causes and conditions, there can be nothing that can be said to have any abiding or unchanging nature or essence. The self that can be connected to or experienced is empty of any substance or essence that can be ultimately grasped with any certainty. That is not to say that we do not exist. We obviously have bodies and these bodies “belong” to us. They are not someone else’s body. We have thoughts and lives that seem to be different and distinct from the lives and thoughts of others. This question of how we, as humans, can be ultimately without an abiding nature, and yet also exist as separate has been debated for centuries in a variety of ways and with varying success.

Both the concept of interdependence and no self were later developed in the Mahayana tradition by Nagarajuna in the Mulamadhyamakakarika and are understood as sunyata or “emptiness.”[12] He states in the Mulamadhyamakakaria[13]

Whatever arises dependently

Is explained as empty.
Thus dependent attribution
Is the middle way.

Since there is nothing whatever
That is not dependently existent,
For that reason there is nothing
Whatsoever that is not empty.

Emptiness then becomes the marker by which one can understand interdependence or conditioned arising. When modern Buddhists speak of “emptiness” or “something is empty of a self,” what they are saying is that there is nothing with an abiding, independent, or unconditioned self.

When studying the self, it is important to clearly and carefully understand the teachings on the Two Truths. [14] How is it that something exists and does not exist at the same time? The theory of “two truths” was discussed by Nagarajuna in the Mulamadyamakakarika.[15] In this work, Nagarajuna uses the two truths to analyze the relationship between dependent origination and the emptiness teachings. According to the two truths, there is an ultimate and a conventional reality that arise simultaneously and fully in operation in each moment. Nagarajuna states: “The Buddha’s teaching of the Dharma is based on two truths: A truth of worldly convention and an ultimate truth.”[16]

In the book Trust, Realization and the Self, Daijaku Kinst repeatedly uses the metaphor of a tapestry and a thread to illustrate the self, and also how we can illustrate the conventional and the ultimate truths.[17] For Kinst, the thread is the conventional truth of an individual experience I call “me.” This thread has its function as part of a tapestry and it is a function that only it can perform. The thread and “me” are distinct and totally different in form and function from the other thread “you.” The tapestry is the ultimate truth where we are interdependently connected. The threads are then lost in the view of the totality of the tapestry. When one senses the whole of the tapestry, there is no individual thread that can be really spoken of. Yet the tapestry does not exist without the thread. It is important to know that we can only know the tapestry through the thread. Neither thread nor tapestry is more important than the other. They arise together, and because of each other. This is true for the two truths as well. It is important that we notice first that the two truths are not set up as one being superior to the other, and that they are distinct as two views. The conventional and the ultimate truths exist because of and simultaneously with each other.

It is very tempting, given human desire, to classify and categorize, to set up the ultimate view as superior to the conventional. Our human tendency seems to lean towards categorization and dualistic systems of this over that, good over bad, right over wrong and so on. It is possible for a person to get lost in the ultimate view and discount the conventional, thereby denying the real suffering of oppression happening in a lived experience. Nagarajuna warns against this when he writes:

Those who do not understand the distinction drawn between these two truths do not understand the Buddha’s profound truth. Without a foundation in the conventional truth, the significance of the ultimate cannot be taught. Without understanding the significance of the ultimate, liberation is not achieved. By a misperception of emptiness a person of little intelligence is destroyed. Like a snake incorrectly seized, or like a spell incorrectly cast.”[18]


A snake picked up the wrong way will bite us. Just as a teaching that places ultimate above conventional or that incorrectly transmits the importance of them both. As a queer activist, my earliest questions as I began to study Buddhism and noticed the subtle heteronormative teachers and teachings was how does this work for this queer body? How can I understand Buddhism’s teachings on no-self in light of my own queer lived experience? When I consider that simply coming to wholeness and healing with a queer identity took a concerted effort to overcome denial and erasure by the mainstream, this became a very important question. For example there was the time I found myself sitting in a temple in Berkeley in 2004 where I asked a white celibate monk in a Chinese Buddhist lineage where do I as a queer person sit, since the room was divided by men and women in order to address “desires that may arise if they are practicing next to each other.” The question was lost on the monk, whose only response was a long pause, followed by, “We are a celibate order and therefore there is no homosexuality.” This monk was grasping the snake incorrectly. Given my own experiences of celibacy, I knew that my identity was not merely connected to activity. This monk was lost in his view of the tapestry and did not see the thread that was asking a question, seeking an end to his suffering. It would be many more years before I would find clarity to this question.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, a Zen teacher, activist, writer, and black queer woman, in her book, The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality and Gender, speaks about this snake and underlines the importance of lived experience and lived embodiment when she writes:

We must acknowledge the relevancy of our lived experience, even within the absoluteness of our being, beyond our material embodiment. There is a relational self on the path of spirit. In other words, our identities in terms of race, sexuality and gender cannot be ignored for the sake of some kind of imagined invisibility or to attain spiritual transcendence. We are not capable of being “embodied” Selves, nor are we meant to be. We cannot become the Self that we cannot touch, that does not suffer, that has no name, no color, no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue. No matter how many labels we drop we cannot become that Self. [19]


This points to a very important concept. If we, in fact, only have access to the perceptions we receive through our embodied experience (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch, and mind) how else will we be able to access whatever there is beyond those? Whatever is beyond our embodied experience and our perception of that experience, because it is an ultimate view and ungraspable by its nature we cannot really describe it. Yet it is still part of Nagarjuna’s snake. It must be considered correctly and experienced as separate from whatever conventional ideas we may have about it. What gate can be offered outside of an embodied experience? Zenju points out that there is something beyond this, yet we only can touch it by going through the gate of our lived experience.

In the book Sitting with Koans, in the chapter titled “Keizan, Koans, and Succession in the Soto School”, Francis Cook writes:

…Thus, it is argued, we can never know events as they truly are, apart from our interpretation of them, because we can never transcend those factors that condition our experience of events. We are necessarily and forever locked within our minds, and our minds are conditioned. On the other hand, Buddhism has claimed for well over two thousand years that a pure, unconditioned way of knowing is indeed possible and we can know events just as they are, undistorted by culture or personality.[20]


This is the essence of Buddhist thought for me. If we were to believe that we had no access to the ultimate, then there could be no such thing as liberation, enlightenment, Nirvana, or realization. Cook seems to be following along with what Nagarajuna states from the earlier discussion; we understand the ultimate by developing a firm foundation in the conventional.

The conventional is the form realm. It is the place where we realize that we are separate individuals with our own physicality, emotionality, consciousness, and relationship to time. It is this place where we perceive the world around us and try to make sense of it.

Understanding these two views, the conventional and the ultimate, properly––neither being “more” or “less” than the other, and also the simultaneity of each arising in each moment–can be used to help explain how it is that we can understand being simultaneously individual or singular, but also ultimately the same or without separation. This helps us understand emptiness in a more complex way and may be related to how we experience it day to day. Arai sees the emptiness of the ultimate as the flip side of interrelatedness, which she equates with the conventional and which she explains when she writes, “Interrelatedness stresses the connections and mutual causality of phenomenal reality. Emptiness highlights the view that everything is empty of intrinsically individual substance.”[21]

As discussed earlier, Arai creates the phrase yudo or the way of healing to discuss her theory of healing which was developed through her study of Japanese Buddhist laywomen and the powerful examples of healing that can be seen in their lives. Her discussion of this way starts with a quote from one of the women she studied that sums up Arai’s view of healing perfectly, “I know I am healed when I am kind.”[22] This phrase harkens back to the various ways Arai talks about how Zen Buddhist religious-cultural influence is permeated throughout Japanese life. She states how the expressions of the way of calligraphy (shodo), the way of tea (chado), the way of unifying life energy (Aikido), the way of the bow (Kyudo) and so many other “ways” is borrowed from the close cultural ties with China’s concept of “Dao.” In China “Dao” referred to the activity of aligning oneself with the activity of the universe, which in its transfer to Japan, was used as a way of participating in an activity so fully that the separation between one’s body-mind is no longer separate from the activity being performed. [23] The Japanese see “do” as more than just the performance or mastery of a skill, but as individual activity as spiritual practice. Arai says:

Healing here is not a result of action. It is, rather, a way of crafting, seeing, thinking and “holding your heart.” It is an art to seek out ways to heal and not suffer. More specifically, it is an art of choosing to be grateful in the face of fear-driven and torment-ridden possibilities. This way of living and interpreting the world, self, events, and others requires practice and discipline. It is more an orientation to living than a clearly delineated and consciously followed course.[24]


This is exactly what Arai does with the idea of healing. Her Yudo rests on ten principles that she garnered from the ethnographic study of these women over the course of her investigation. They are:

(1). Experiencing interrelatedness:

This is discussed in depth in this thesis. The foundation of Arai’s work on healing is in the experience of interrelatedness. The first sentence of her section on this says, “Buddhism is an experiential tradition.” [25] This points directly to the experiencing over theorizing interrelatedness.

(2). Living body-mind:

The understanding that body and mind are one is, according to Arai, embedded in the Japanese culture of which her consociates are a part. She states: “It is so ‘normal’ to them it did not seem to warrant mention. Yet, this view of body-mind as one is a significant component of their healing paradigm because it explains how they can turn to chanting and prayer in the face of terminal illness and believe those activities will help them heal.”[26]

(3). Engaging in rituals:

Rituals both formal, in the sense of created and performed as part of a collective religious body, and personal or what Arai calls “homemade” serve to provide a container for the complex and sometimes messy work of healing body-mind. Arai says, “Healing is messy. Engaging in rituals to heal can be especially helpful, because rituals thrive in complex and emotionally charged conditions.”[27]

(4). Nurturing the self:

Arai is talking about the self in the Buddhist sense of an interdependent “self” that is independent and yet part of a greater whole. Arai lists concrete examples of the activity that these women undertake in an effort to care for themselves as being conscious and careful about food, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, not having attachment and living consciously, taking walks in nature, write poetry, etc. “Nurturing the self is a critical component of their paradigm on two different levels. First, it is essential on a mundane level, because no matter what happens, you still need to eat, bathe, and take out the trash. Second, skills that nurture the self affirm your self-worth in the face of uncontrollable circumstances.”[28]

(5). Enjoying life:

Intentionally seeking and finding pleasure in the experience of living is another way of considering this. Arai explains how there are always things one could complain about. In our troubled times and moments of great suffering, the joyful parts of life are still there, they simply must be looked for a little harder. This is not about escapism as she explains: “What they mean by enjoying life is not about seeking out methods of being entertained. It is about realizing a supple and flexible body-mind.”[29]

(6). Creating beauty:

Being aware of beauty is similar in its engagement as the above-mentioned enjoying life. Arai states: “Being aware of beauty is fundamental to healing. Living itself comes from multiple elements working together to support life. If this fundamental condition is not recognized you can not see clearly… Seeing beauty is based on a penetrating awareness of the fundamental nature of how things work.”[30]

(7). Cultivating gratitude:

The gratitude Arai and her consociates are speaking of is the natural arising out of the awareness of the interrelated and connected nature of the universe. When we see that while we are responsible to and for everyone and everything, we are simultaneously aware that everyone and everything is responsible to and for us gratitude naturally arises. This awareness of support and connectedness automatically inspires gratitude. “If we are aware that we are already—without having to do anything special – an integral part of the world that is in a vast mutually influential web of give and take, gratitude is a natural response. “[31]

(8). Accepting reality as it is:

In my view, this is a fundamental practice of Buddhism and the most difficult part of healing. Who wants to accept suffering? Arai says it this way, “Rejecting your actual situation and condition, however, consumes vital energy. Wishing things were different from what they are causes suffering. If we fight within ourselves, we cannot relax. If we are not relaxed, then there is stress, which weakens our immune system.”[32]

(9). Expanding perspectives:

Attempting to see the current moment in a broader context is often a key to enjoying life, cultivating gratitude, creating beauty and accepting reality as it is. With a more expansive view, one can allow for possibilities often overlooked in moments of tightened narrow-mindedness. Arai argues: “Ever adjusting their perspective with the vicissitudes of life enables them to accept their lives into their hearts, to feel grateful for and create beauty out of what is. To do this is to embody compassion. Embodying compassion is the ultimate healing. “[33]

(10). Embodying compassion:

Again this is an experiential part of a healing practice. To act compassionately in the world, not simply thinking compassion. “In one of Suzuki Kakuzen Roshi’s last Dharma talks at the Zen Nunnery in Nagoya, he spoke about the meaning of compassion. He wrote on the chalkboard the pictogram (kanji) for compassion (jihi). The word is a combination of the characters for loving affection (utsukushimi) and sadness (kanashimi). Sadness is a part of compassion, because to be compassionate requires that you understand but not be limited by suffering.”[34]

I appreciate Arai’s way of talking about this list of principles as she explains:

Each principle is distinct. Although there is overlap, there is no redundancy. Each adds a dimension to the healing paradigm. Often one element augments another—for instance, interrelatedness increases a person’s feelings of thankfulness and heightens her sense of beauty. This in turn commonly sharpens her sense of fun. Performing rituals sometimes manifests in a deepening of the body-mind connection and results in a person taking better care of herself. Indeed, any factor can initiate an increase in any of the other factors. The more this happens, the more quickly and thoroughly a person heals. [35]


Although these principles may appear similar, they are distinct. It is also easy to see how it is that one could enter the list at any point and begin the healing process. For example, perhaps in our healing journey we begin performing rituals to connect to and express our grief. Perhaps we go to a funeral or memorial for a dear friend who dies. This is not the end of our healing in and of itself, but instead can provide an avenue where perhaps we begin to create art to express the ineffable nature of our grief. Creating beauty nurtures ourselves in a way that encourages us to do more things that nourish us. We begin to appreciate how it is that these healing principles are helping us accept the reality of our friend’s death, and how it is that we continue be connected to them through love. Through experiencing interrelatedness we begin to develop compassion for our other friends who are grieving, perhaps reaching out to comfort and support them, and slowly we notice, we are healed, almost without our knowing. We have begun a practice of healing as a way of life.

What stands out for me is that the first principle, “experiencing interrelatedness,” is necessary, at least in a small portion, in order to fully engage the other principles and is supported by them as well. It would seem no matter where you started out engaging the list of healing principles; you would need to have some experience of interdependence in order to be able to engage any of them fully. No matter where you started practicing healing, there also would be an increase in the experience of interdependence from the activity of each of the other principles on the list.

A very important piece of this first and foundational principle of healing is the experiencing in “experiencing interrelatedness.” This experiencing isn’t just to point one back to the before mentioned concept of Yudo or spiritual engagement of healing activity, but to also begin to relate to yourself in a very specific kind of way. In order to experience interrelatedness, one must first be able to understand and perceive one’s experience, to notice that you are having an experience. I cannot simply begin to study the interrelated nature of my grief. I first must realize that I am grieving. Furthermore, I must begin to seek out those experiences that offer a deeper sense of interrelatedness and to avoid those experiences which do not or which hinder its expression. Arai studies the experience of her consociate, Tanaka-san, to show her relatedness with the concept of time: “All time is empty.”[36] Arai points out that Tanaka-san’s seeing the interrelated nature of existence in this way, on top of her lived reality, helps her to put whatever is happening currently into a wider perspective that allows her to see what really matters.

Arai also profiles a woman called Kawasaki-san who has the healing activity of viewing herself as part of a span of five billion years into the past and into the future. Kawasaki-san heals herself by engaging in the activity of seeing herself in the totality of the universe.[37] Arai includes these words from Kawasaki-san: “Just being aware of this is healing. If you think this way, death is not a big deal. I don’t feel fear. You received your form from others and then it goes to others.”[38]

These experiences of interrelatedness are not simply an intellectual or theoretical understanding of cosmology, ontology, or even metaphysics. I see this as fundamental to Arai’s proposal and perhaps one that sometimes can be overlooked. The difference between “understanding” or “studying” interrelatedness and “experiencing” interrelatedness is the difference between the intellectual pursuit of healing ideology and the practice of healing as described by Yudo. For example, I can study the anthropological nature of oppression in the lives of women and intellectually investigate the foundational ideas of bell hooks, Audre Lorde or other womanist theorists. Or I can sit down, have tea, and develop a relationship with women and allow that shared experience to inform my understanding of the oppression in their lives and the impact on their lived experience. The one most likely to lead to healing for myself and for the women is likely to be more pronounced and nuanced when based in the actual lived experience and intimacy of our tea together.

Having over twenty-five years of Buddhist practice, I have come to believe that the purpose of the practice of Soto Zen, the practice I find myself in currently, if there is indeed a purpose, is to go beyond our pursuit of perceptions of reality and come to relationship with and directly express an appropriate response to each moment. This means to move through both our mental ministrations and our habitual perceptions of reality and have some experience with the unencumbered nature of the moment without anything extra. For example, in recent months, I have noticed the sense of loneliness and isolation, despite living in community. As I began to notice this, at first I was attempting to “find reasons” for it. “I am lonely because…”, I would tell myself. This was a fruitless endeavor as it only served to further entrench a dualistic notion that I was separate from this experience. Then I just began to look at what it was like to be lonely. What were the sensations in my body? What was the nature of the things my mind was perceiving, what was happening before and after these moments? In this way, I could develop a relationship with this moment and myself in order to respond to the actual experience rather than my stories about the experience and its causes. Rather than seeking relief, I began to see that I could just open my heart/mind to the tenderness of lonely and from that place consider all the other lonely people who might be sharing this moment with me. In this appropriate response I was healed.

The founder of Soto Zen in Japan, in his most fundamental work, Genjo Koan, Eihei Dogen says:

To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things. To be verified by all things is to let the body and mind of the self and the body and mind of others drop off. There is a trace of realization that cannot be grasped. We endlessly express this ungraspable trace of realization.[39]


Dogen is, in my view, pointing us towards an experience of a different kind with reality. If one considers that all of reality is interrelated, we then can see how he might be inviting us to examine how it is that we experience this interrelatedness. He seems to follow this up by saying that when we have this experience of the interrelated, we then must “forget” that or drop our ideas about that too and allow ourselves to experience this moment in a different kind of way (dropping off mind and body of self and other). This is to go beyond. This is what it is to experience interrelatedness. Neither Dogen, Arai, nor her consociates are pointing at some intellectual endeavor of study to understand how we are all connected and/or involved in each moment. Instead, it is to experience this understanding in a deep and very intimate way. By connecting first to the one thing we always have access to, one can truly experience some approximation of the interrelatedness of all being.

Umemura-san’s kindness, Tanaka-san’s emptiness and Kawasaki-san’s billions of years all arise out of something other than knowledge, something other than simple “doing.” Instead they come to fruition from an intimate participation in what is actually happening in their lives. They view themselves in relationship to all things and all of the perceptions they may be engaged with in a particular moment. This intimacy creates a new orientation to their lives and reality itself. For Arai and her women, this is the practice of healing.

This practice of healing, built on a foundation of the experience of interrelatedness, is embedded in our various communities. As described earlier, community can be any group of people. How these groups come together and their ability to engage in the practice of healing as a community influences their ability to help facilitate healing for the individual members. If one is suffering from the effects and experiences of oppression, which is happening inside of one’s community, the healing possible must also be based inside of community.

How we build and establish Buddhist communities will influence the community’s access to and ability to offer healing. We will now take up the example of one such community that has been a healing refuge for me in my own practice of healing in oppression and has the signifiers of a healing community.

[1] The first medical doctor to scientifically prove the reversal of heart disease by changing lifestyle.

[2] Paula Kane Robinson Arai, Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011), 60.

[3] Arai, (2011) p. 31.

[4] Hisao Inagaki, Nichi-Ei Bukkyōgo Jiten =: A Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist Terms, 5th ed. (Berkeley, Calif.: Stone Bridge Press, 2007)

[5] Arai, (2011) p. 31.

[6] The character道means “way,” “path,” or “road.” It is also an indigenous Chinese concept referring to a meaningful course of action that enacts the deepest values and concerns of a tradition, like Confucianism or Taoism. Hence, when used in Japanese in conjunction with other characters (such as tea ceremony, archery, martial arts, or Buddhist practice, etc.), it invokes a more complex meaning than simply the performance of an act, but instead is the whole-hearted practice of embodiment in action of a particular activity.

[7] Arai, 31.

[8] Chaisit Suwanvarangkul, “Pratītyasamutpāda,” Oxford Bibliographies, last modified April 29, 2015, [accessed January 27, 2017].

[9] Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “Loka Sutta: The World,” Access to Insight, November 30, 2013,, [accessed October 15, 2016].

[10] Peter Harvey. An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History, and Practices. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press, 1990, 50.

[11] Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “Questions of Skill,” Access to Insight, June 05, 2010, [accessed January 9, 2017].

[12] Lim Yang and Ke Rong, “Sunyata (Emptiness) in the Mahayana Context,” Buddhanet – Teachings in Chinese Buddhism, September 29, 1991, [accessed February 3, 2016].

[13] Mabja Jangchub Tsondru, Ornament of Reason: the Great Commentary to Nagarjuna’s Root of the Middle Way (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2011), 67-71.

[14] Tsondru, 67-71

[15] Tsondru, 67-71

[16] Tsondru, 67-71.

[17] Daijaku Kinst, Trust, Realization, and the Self in Sōtō Zen Practice (Moraga, CA: BDK America, Inc., 2015), 24. Her metaphor of tapestry and thread starts on page 24 and continues throughout the book as Kinst builds her case about Sōtō Zen practice.

[18] Tsondru, 67-71

[19] Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality, and Gender (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2015), 41-42.


[20] Francis Dojun Cook, “Keizan Koans, and Succession in the Soto School”, John Daido Loori, ed., Sitting with Koans: Essential Writings On Zen Koan Introspection (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2006), 169.

[21] Arai, (2011) p. 33.

[22] The quote is attributed to Umemura, Japanese Buddhist Woman (Arai 29)

[23] Arai, 31

[24] Arai, (2011) p. 31.

[25] Arai, (2011) p. 33.

[26] Arai, (2011) p. 34.

[27] Arai, (2011) p. 39.

[28] Arai, (2011) p. 44.

[29] Arai, (2011) p. 47.

[30] Arai, (2011) p. 48.

[31] Arai, (2011) p. 48

[32] Arai, (2011) p. 50.

[33] Arai, (2011) p. 58.

[34] Arai, (2011) p. 58.

[35] Arai, (2011) p. 32.

[36] Arai, (2011) p. 34.

[37] Arai, (2011) p. 34.

[38] Arai, (2011) p. 34.

[39] Shohaku Okumura, Realizing Genjōkōan: The Key to Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2010), 2.


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