Bow First, Ask Questions Later

Ordination, Love, and Monastic Zen in Japan

“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



232 pages, 5 x 8 inches


ISBN 9781614293972

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eBook Bundle (PDF, epub, mobi)


ISBN 9781614294115

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Wed, 02/28/2018 - 16:05 -- Dana Guth

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.