Women were active practitioners and teachers from the time of the Buddha. The books listed here are just a few contemporary works which document a history that was too often unknown outside women’s monastic institutions.

Susan Murcot, The First Buddhist Women describes the lives and translates the poems of women disciples of the Buddha.

Grace Schierson, Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters: an overview of the role women played in Zen, covering China, Korea and Japan.

Beata Grant, Daughters of Emptiness: Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns, and Eminent Nuns: Women Chan Masters of 17th Century China

The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, ed. by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon: An interesting compilation of kong-ans from a particular standpoint, with commentary by one hundred contemporary Buddhist teachers, all of them women, most of them Zen, many from our school. 

Wendy Garling, Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha’s Life mines sutras for information about the women who lived with and practiced with Sakyamuni, from before his birth to his death, as well as what Sakyamuni’s life would have been like in the palace and after.