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
obtain 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
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.