In this episode, I have the great pleasure of talking with Dr. Paula Arai, Ph.d., about her most recent book, The Little Book of Zen Healing: Japanese Rituals for Beauty, Harmony, & Love. We discuss the following:
her life growing up in post-WW II Detroit, MI, with a Japanese mother and an Anglo father
how her mother imparted the ethos and aesthetic of Zen Buddhism through her everyday actions
the ten healing rituals practiced by Japanese women to blossom like lotuses amid the everyday mud of daily live
how to apply the these rituals to “nourish and reap a healing bounty of connection, joy, and compassion.”
In January 2023, Paula Arai joined the faculty of the Institute of Buddhist Studies from her position as the Gopal Singhal Professorship at Louisiana State University. Her work is grounded in ethnographic research while applying a broader historical and cultural comparative lens to her interpretations. She engages in immersive poetic storytelling as a medium for conveying the experiential dimension of Buddhist practices and teachings. As a specialist in Japanese Sōtō Zen women, Arai trained at the Aichi Senmon Nisōdō nunnery under the tutelage of Aoyama Shundō Rōshi and has maintained decades-long relationships with the Japanese laywomen who figure in her studies. Arai has received generous grant support from such sources as the Fulbright Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, Mellon Foundation, American Academy of Religion, and Reischauer Institute of Harvard University. She curated exhibits of a Japanese scientist’s Heart Sutra paintings at museums, universities, and conferences over the past eight years. Active as a public speaker, Arai also leads workshops on healing rituals and presents in a range of Buddhist settings.
Women Living Zen: Japanese Sōtō Buddhist Nuns. Oxford University Press, 1999.
Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals. University of
Hawaii Press, 2011.
Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra–The Buddhist Art of
Iwasaki Tsuneo. Shambhala Publications, 2019
The Little Book of Zen Healing: Japanese Rituals for Beauty, Harmony, & Love.
Shambhala Publications, 2023.
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