38. Gi-Sho's Work

    Gi-Sho1 was ordained as a nun when she was ten years old. She received training just as the little boys did. When she reached the age of sixteen, she travelled from one Zen master to another, studying with them all.

    She remained three years with Un-Zan2, six years with Gu-Kei3, but was unable to obtain a clear vision. At last she went to the master In-Zan4.

    In-Zan 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. Gi-Sho remained with In-Zan thirteen years, and then she found that which she was seeking!

    In her honour, In-Zan wrote a poem:

    This nun studied thirteen years under my guidance.

    In the evening she considered the deepest Ko-Ans,

    In the morning she was wrapped in other Ko-Ans.

    The Chinese nun, Tetsu-Ma5, surpassed all before her,

    And since Mu-Jaku6, none has been so genuine as this Gi-Sho!

    Yet there are many more gates for her to pass through. She should receive still more blows from my iron fist.

After Gi-Sho was enlightened, she went to the province of Banshu7, started her own Zen temple, and taught two hundred other nuns until she passed away in the month of August.


1. Gi-Sho

2. Un-Zan

3. Gu-Kei

4. In-Zan

5. Tetsu-Ma

6. Mu-Jaku

7. Banshu