Paula Arai

Retreat Leader

Paula Arai received her Ph.D. in Japanese Buddhism from Harvard University. She is the author of Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra––The Buddhist Art of Iwasaki Tsuneo; and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals, and Women Living Zen: Japanese Sōtō Buddhist Nuns.

Having been raised by her Japanese mother, she has found her home in the aesthetic, moral, and contemplative modes stressed in Sōtō Zen. Spending time with family and living with and near her research consociates in Japan animates her insights. Each of her bodies of research emerge out of deep relationships and she offers them to others as a way of connecting and contributing to our shared condition. Her research has been generously supported by Fulbright and American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships and grants from Reischauer Institute of Harvard University and ATLAS (Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars). Teaching Buddhist Studies for over 26 years, she currently holds the Urmila Gopal Singhal Professorship in Religions of India at Louisiana State University. She enjoys being a mother, creating healing rituals, writing poetry, playing the violin, and walking in the woods.