Stirling, Isabel 1948- (Isabel Ann Stirling)

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Stirling, Isabel 1948- (Isabel Ann Stirling)


Born 1948, in San Jose, CA. Education: University of California at Riverside, B.A., 1970; Western Michigan University, M.L.S., 1977. Hobbies and other interests: Handloom and fiber arts.


Home—Sausalito, CA.


University of California, Riverside, head of bio-agricultural library, 1977-82; University of Oregon, Eugene, former head of science library and professor, beginning 1982; University of California, Berkeley, currently associate university librarian.


International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, Oregon Library Association.


Self-Paced Library Instruction Workbook for the Sciences, 1981.

Zen Pioneer: The Life and Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki, foreword by Gary Snyder, Shoemaker & Hoard (Emeryville, CA), 2006, 2nd edition, 2007.

Contributor to periodicals.


Librarian and professor Isabel Stirling is the author of Zen Pioneer: The Life and Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki. Sasaki was an upper-class woman from Chicago who seemed to be destined for a lifetime role as a society matron. Instead, Sasaki chose a path almost unheard of for an American woman in the early twentieth century. Accompanying her first husband on his international business travels, Sasaki encountered famed Zen master D.T. Suzuki in Japan during the 1930s. This meeting proved to be immensely influential. Sasaki took up Buddhism and became the first woman and first Westerner to be ordained a Zen Buddhist priest, serving at the Daitoku-ji temple. Sasaki's ordination occurred against long-standing rules against women and foreigners becoming Zen Buddhist clerics, but she was sincere in her adherence to Zen Buddhism. Stirling describes how Sasaki helped establish the First Zen institute in New York, with Sasaki Sokei-an Roshi, who became her husband after being released from American internment following World War II. Afterward, Sasaki moved to Kyoto, where she wrote about Zen, translated important Zen documents into English, and helped forge links between Zen Buddhism in Japan and the keen interest in Zen that had begun to evolve in America. Stirling includes translations of three of Sasaki's more important treatises, as well as photographs and a detailed chronology of her life.

In her portrait, Stirling "crisply portrays the famously rigorous Sasaki," commented Booklist critic Donna Seaman. Constituting a "blend of biography and religious literature," Stirling's biography "can't be beat," remarked a reviewer in California Bookwatch. Seaman concluded that "this meticulous and fascinating volume celebrates a visionary scholar, translator, and bridge builder."



Booklist, October 1, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Zen Pioneer: The Life and Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki, p. 30.

California Bookwatch, December 1, 2006, review of Zen Pioneer.