Journey in Search of the Way

The Spiritual Autobiography of Satomi Myōdō

By Sallie B. King

Subjects: Zen Buddhism
Paperback : 9780791419724, 232 pages, October 1993
Hardcover : 9780791419717, 232 pages, October 1993

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Table of contents



Part One: The Spiritual Autobiography of Satomi Myodo

1 Moral Education

2 Sincerity

3 My Strange Mental Condition

4 I Lose My Baby

5 Complete Nervous Breakdown

6 Kageki Actress

7 I Find a Teacher

8 Leaving Ryo-chan

9 A Fool's Freedom

10 Shinto Shamaness

11 Possessed by Spirits

12 Return to My Village

13 A Heart Full of Longing

14 Knocking at the Gates of Zen

15 Sick of Chasing Satori

16 "I Can't Die Before Making You Buddhas!"

17 Dharma Friend

18 Two Cracks in the Rice Paper

19 Knocking Over Flagpoles

20 Joy


Notes for Part One

Part Two: Commentary by Sallie B. King

The World of Satomi-san

Religion in the Prewar Era

Kami, Buddha, Bodhisattva

Makoto and Kokoro


Women in Japanese Religion

Encounters with Spirits

Mysteries and Marvels

The New Religions

Pure Land Buddhism

Zen Buddhism

Notes for Part Two


A rich and detailed autobiography of one Japanese woman’s journey through life.


This autobiography describes a woman's attainment of enlightenment in modern Japan. Satomi Myōdō rejected the traditional roles of good wife and wise mother, broke with her unhappy past, and followed her spiritual path beginning as the disciple of a Shinto priest. At midlife she turned to Zen Buddhism encouraged by a female dharma friend and by various teachers. Under the guidance of Yasutani Rōshi she attained Kenshō, the goal of her lifetime's search.

Sallie B. King heads the Department of Philosophy and Religion at James Madison University. She has been the recipient of several honors and awards, including a professional scholarship from the Japan Foundation and a summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has published many articles and is the author of Buddha Nature, also published by SUNY Press.


"…Journey has stayed with me for the unselfconscious cheer with which Myōdō recounts her misery … As Myōdō tells it, frustration and misery are not the final word, but are part of a wholly ordinary, if dramatic, confusion, from which one may emerge. Her voice is quite a tonic for these times. " — Theo Davis, Public Books

"The second half of the book is devoted to a commentary by Sallie King relating the autobiography to various aspects of Japanese history and religion. The topics are well chosen and will be especially helpful for readers with little or no background in Japanese religion. This book is to be highly recommended, especially for college courses on Japanese religion, anthropology, women's studies, and human development. It offers a rich and detailed account of one Japanese woman's journey through life. " — Winston Davis, Journal of Asian Studies