This blog is a breath of fresh air. I have long been searching for answers to my qualms about zen practice, especially as a woman (and gads! an ecofeminist!). While the lineage I practice in has gone a long way toward addressing some of the issues you raise in your article: "Means of Authorization...", I have still felt underlying power imbalances and problems with the structure of hierarchy itself. These concerns are often met with expressions of puzzlement, or sighs, or with an admonishment to be patient--after all, it took 500 years for zen to change when it went from India to China, China to Japan, etc. I feel I have also been passed over for advancement in the hierarchy because of my critical approach to this structure--but I haven't said much about this, as I'm sure it will just be seen as sour grapes. Actually, I am now grateful that it happened, because I am doubting the validity of priesthood and teacher status the way it is currently bequeathed.

So I just want to express my deepest gratitude for this thorough acknowledgement of the issue. I am currently, after 8 years of practice, questioning whether I can continue in Soto Zen. You article has given me food for thought with regard to how to at least approach and deepen my questions, and your suggestions for how to establish spiritual friendships is sympatico with my own thoughts on how to continue. I look forward to reading more. Thank you.