When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.
At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!
In commemoration, she wrote a poem:
In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!
When Eshun, the Zen nun, was past sixty and about to leave this world, she asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard.
Seating herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it set fire around the edges.
“O nun!” shouted one monk, “is it hot in there?”
“Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself,” answered Eshun. The flames arose, and she passed away.
Gisho 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 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 obtained 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.
have a zen-sational day