Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun

Hardback: $49.00
ISBN-13: 9780824838782
Published: March 2014

Additional Information

320 pages | 1 b&w image
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  • About the Book
  • The life and work of Kim Iryŏp (1896–1971) bear witness to Korea’s encounter with modernity. A prolific writer, Iryŏp reflected on identity and existential loneliness in her poems, short stories, and autobiographical essays. As a pioneering feminist intellectual, she dedicated herself to gender issues and understanding the changing role of women in Korean society. As an influential Buddhist nun, she examined religious teachings and strove to interpret modern human existence through a religious world view. Originally published in Korea when Iryŏp was in her sixties, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun (Ŏnŭ sudoin ŭi hoesang) makes available for the first time in English a rich, intimate, and unfailingly candid source of material with which to understand modern Korea, Korean women, and Korean Buddhism.

    Throughout her writing, Iryŏp poses such questions as: How does one come to terms with one’s identity? What is the meaning of revolt and what are its limitations? How do we understand the different dimensions of love in the context of Buddhist teachings? What is Buddhist awakening? How do we attain it? How do we understand God and the relationship between good and evil? What is the meaning of religious practice in our time? We see through her thought and life experiences the co-existence of seemingly conflicting ideas and ideals—Christianity and Buddhism, sexual liberalism and religious celibacy, among others.

    In Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun, Iryŏp challenges readers with her creative interpretations of Buddhist doctrine and her reflections on the meaning of Buddhist practice. In the process she offers insight into a time when the ideas and contributions of women to twentieth-century Korean society and intellectual life were just beginning to emerge from the shadows, where they had been obscured in the name of modernization and nation-building.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Kim Iryŏp, Author

    • Jin Y. Park, Translator

      Jin Y. Park is professor of Asian and comparative philosophy and religion and founding director of the Asian studies program at American University.
    • Robert E. Buswell, Jr., Series Editor

      Robert E. Buswell, Jr. holds the Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he is also Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and founding director of the university’s Center for Buddhist Studies and Center for Korean Studies.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Park’s important edition of Iryŏp’s writings will interest those readers concerned not only with modern Korean intellectual history and Korean Buddhism but also with examples of reflective or philosophical autobiography, experiences of crisis and conversion, and how one singular person responds to her existential condition.
      —Philosophy East & West
    • Author Jin Park packs a lot into the small book: A biography of Korean Buddhist writer Iryop Kim, Asian studies Buddhism and women, comparative philosophies, and feminism. The significant part of the book is the biography of Korean Zen Buddhist Iryop Kim (1896-1970). . . . the book is a rewarding read, and an important one. Kim's writings have contributed to the cultural heritage of a nation, offering relevant wisdom and insights to the modem reader, East or West.
      —Korean Quarterly
    • Park’s translations of Kim Iryop provide a valuable glimpse of the diversity of individuals that comprise Korean modernism and Buddhism in the early twentieth century.
      —Religious Studies Review