“Gesshin Greenwood is the real deal. That’s what makes this book so valuable. It’s rare that someone from the West does any of this stuff, rarer still when they write about it, and yet even more rare that their writing is as good as Gesshin’s is. This is a truly unique document of a truly unique lived experience.”
—from the foreword by Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen and Don’t Be A Jerk
What happens when a free-spirited, modern American girl goes on a spiritual quest into structured, traditional Japanese Zen life?
Gesshin Claire Greenwood was a liberal, free-spirited American girl who found meaning and freedom in disciplined, traditional Japanese Zen life. However, she came to question not only contemporary American values but also traditional monastic ones.
This book is about becoming an adult—about sexuality, religion, work, ethics, and individuality—but it is also about being a human being trying to be happy. Questioning is a theme that runs throughout the book: How can I be happy? What is true? What is authentic? The reader is invited along a journey that is difficult, inspiring, sad, funny, and sincere.
Gesshin Claire Greenwood spent the majority of her twenties in India and Japan practicing Buddhism. She ordained with Seido Suzuki Roshi in 2010, and received dharma transmission in 2015. She is currently completing a master’s in East Asian Studies from the University of Southern California, where she focuses on women in Buddhism and feminism in a transnational perspective.
“When the reader is ready, the right book comes along; Bow First, Ask Questions Later is that book. With rigor, honesty, hilarity and joy, Gesshin shows us how to grapple with the great matter of life and death—as well as with lesser matters, like capitalism, sexism, religious dogma, sex, love, fashion and Kyoto nightclubs. The result is an inspiring book that I couldn't put down, even when I’d finished reading it.”
—Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
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On sale 5/08/18