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Lions Roar : November 2013
PHOTOCOURTESYOFTHEARTISTANDJESSICABRADLEYGALLERY YOSHIHIME WAS A NUN at Tokeiji and the daughter of a general. She was very strong, and her nickname was “Devil- girl.” She wanted to meet with the teacher at the monastery of Engakuji, but the gatekeeper monk barred her way with a shout: “What is it, the gate through which the buddhas come into the world?” Yoshihime grabbed his head and forced it between her legs, saying, “Look, look!” The monk said, “In the middle, there is a fragrance of wind and dew.” Yoshihime said, “This monk! He’s not fit to keep the gate; he ought to be looking after the garden.” The gatekeeper ran into the temple and reported this to the teacher’s attendant, who said, “Let me test her.” So the attendant went to the gate and asked her again, “What is it, the gate through which the buddhas come into the world?” Yoshihime grabbed his head and held it between her legs, say- ing, “Look, look!” The attendant said, “The buddhas of the three worlds come, giving light.” Yoshihime said, “This monk is one with the eye; he saw the eighty-four thousand gates all thrown open.” This koan makes me laugh with delight! All those old monks of Engakuji were so afraid of women in their midst that they were compelled to test the women’s dharma insight in order to allow them entrance. They were no match for our devil-girl Yoshihime! “Look, Look!” The nun Yoshihime thrusts the gatekeeper’s head between her legs. Here is the gate through which the buddhas come into the world, born of women, born of wisdom. JUDITH SIMMER-BROWN comments on this ancient Zen story. Venusblumen by Shary Boyle, 2009, porcelain JUDITH SIMMER-BROWN is professor of religious studies at Naropa University and the author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Prin- ciple in Tibetan Buddhism. SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 17