In Search of Buddha's Daughters: The Hidden Lives and Fearless Work of Buddhist Nuns (Paperback)
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A 60,000-mile odyssey in search of Buddhist nuns—hailed as “inspiring and necessary” (Kirkus), “ambitious” (Tricycle), and “compelling” (Financial Times)
They come to the monastic Buddhist life from every faith and career: a policewoman, a princess, a Bollywood star, a violinist. Out of the public eye, despite hardship and even persecution, they vow to seek enlightenment in a world full of noise.
Who are these women? What motivates them, and what stands in their way? Award-winning journalist Christine Toomey investigates. From Nepal to California, she encounters unforgettable nuns who reveal the blessings—and perils—of carrying a 2,500-year tradition into the twenty-first century. Often denied equal status with monks, they are nonetheless devoted—to their faith, and to change.
About the Author
Christine Toomey is an award-winning journalist and author who has reported from over 60 countries worldwide. Speaking five languages, she has covered foreign affairs for the Sunday Times for more than 20 years, and her journalism has been syndicated globally. Previously based as a correspondent in Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, and elsewhere, she has twice won Amnesty International Awards for Magazine Story of the Year. She divides her time between London and a small medieval town in the Apennines of central Italy.
“[Toomey] travels around the world staying with nuns from Burma to California, drawing the reader inside their unexpectedly fascinating lives. . . . The women come from East and West and span a broad range of backgrounds, from princess to pilot, but all share a desire to shed worldly trappings and search within.”
—Mara Hvistendahl, The Wall Street Journal
“Intelligent and informative, Toomey's book reveals the hidden lives of women who have been neglected by Buddhist discourse. . . . Inspiring and necessary.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Toomey is at her best when bringing her journalist’s eyes to describe scenes and her investigative skills to portray the women she meets.”—Spirituality & Health
“Illuminating . . . As well as affording her interviewees ample room, Toomey admirably attempts to place herself in the footsteps of those she studies, adding depth to her reporting. In some ways, this story can be seen as the unraveling of Toomey’s idealized vision of Buddhist nuns. Instead of peaceful, woman-centered, enlightened people ready to offer healing to the world, Toomey finds the much more interesting story of Buddhist women throughout the world.”—Times Literary Supplement
“The book’s perspective on Buddhism is rarely found in other sources, revealing room for invention and ingenuity within the tradition, as well as a great variety in women’s experiences as devotees. A worthwhile read for those seeking accounts on the intersection of feminism and Buddhism.”—Publishers Weekly
“[An] ambitious and thoughtful book . . . Toomey paints vivid portraits of women who are emboldened in the face of gender discrimination.”—Tricycle
“Seamlessly narrated, this book reveals the varied paths available to women seeking to dedicate their lives to Buddhist practice.”—Buddhadharma
“Openness may explain why In Search of Buddha’s Daughters is so much more than a sum of its parts. With a rich and compelling narrative voice, it is a text with the power to inspire a new perspective on how to live, how to view those around us, and how to find deep and lasting happiness in what we already possess”—Financial Times
“Toomey articulates, over and over, that women around the world, regardless of their ethnicity or their social class, honor the fire that rages in their spirits and claim the right to define their own happiness.”—Cargo Literary
“Toomey reveals the stories of women who personify strength, perseverance and peace in the face of discrimination, sexism, imprisonment, exile and war. A profound and moving portrait of Buddhism’s little-known spiritual sisters.”—BookTrib
“Toomey’s dedication to covering her subject thoroughly is a great gift to the reader: without having to go anywhere, we are able to intimately encounter a wide breadth of lives and traditions.”—Harvard Divinity Bulletin
“In Search of Buddha’s Daughters is a gift for troubled times, a profoundly beautiful and inspiring spiritual odyssey that traces the lineages and present day lives of Buddhist nuns around the world. I am moved and heartened by these women, who dedicate their lives to the awakening of all beings, and deeply grateful, as well, to Christine Toomey, for bringing us their remarkable stories.”
—Ruth Ozeki, Zen Buddhist priest and New York Times—bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being
“In Search of Buddha’s Daughters beautifully depicts the quintessential personal journey to find freedom, as exemplified by Buddhist nuns. These stories of courage and inspiration may be contemporary–but they connect us to a timeless quest for a better life.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
“Like all memorable nonfiction, In Search of Buddha's Daughters is about storytelling—and Christine Toomey is a masterful storyteller. What emerges, Chaucer-like, is a cycle of stories within a story that irresistibly propels readers forward. The sum is even greater than the parts and a deeply moving experience.”
—Mark Kurlansky, New York Times bestselling author of over twenty books including Salt and Cod
“What a MARVELOUS JOURNEY shared with such sensitivity, eloquence, and heart! We meet extraordinary women through Christine’s kindness and courage—it is a privilege to read and travel with her. Everyone should try it—you will not be disappointed.”
—Professor Robert Tenzin Thurman, author of Why the Dalai Lama Matters and Love Your Enemies
“In Search of Buddha’s Daughters takes us on a journey, both personal and historical, that explores the brave and challenging process of creating change, and equality, in Buddhist monastic life. A fabulous contribution to the growing literature exploring women in Buddhism.”
—Lama Tsultrim Allione, founder and spiritual director of Tara Mandala