This book was the fruit of a conference of female ordained Buddhist monastics. Like all essay collections, this is a mixed bag, but contains at least three or four very interesting chapters. The book is organized into two main sections. The first is a series of essays by Buddhist nuns from different monastic traditions--Zen, Theravadin, Tibetan Kagyu, etc. They describe the routine in their monasteries, the rhythm of collective life. This section begins with an excellent article by Professor Chatsumarn Kabilsingh of Bangkok on "The History of the Bhikkhuni Sangha." She raises some interesting points concerning the historical Buddha's efforts to improve the status of the nuns (bikshunis) in relation to the monks (bikshus). The second section consists of brief dharma teachings by some of the nuns. Most notable is an essay by Khandro Rinpoche, a female Tibetan tulku and daughter of the head of the Mindrolling lineage. Another very good essay is about "How to Rely On A Spiritual Teacher" by Bhikshuni Jampa Chokyi, from Spain.
These essays shine with intelligence and compassion. They also fill in so many little details about nuns' lives, dreams, obstacles and the work ahead. I was stunned by the book's vivid descriptions and its practical approach to everyday problems. Buddhist nuns are regular people, of course, but have focused their energy on the monastic discipline which supports a solid spiritual way of life. The essays break these things down, giving them a human face, a view of spiritual matters in perspective. Most of all, the book imparts a precious gift - an opportunity to imagine what it would be like. We can all rejoice.