Wise Words

Occasionally I read a bit in the blogs of other Zen people, with a strong preference for those who actively engage in teaching Zen(*). It is interesting to see that many Zen Centres and Dojos in the Western world fight similar problems, which are either gathering sufficient members to pay the rent, or a cancer-like growth towards business-oriented sect-like structure organised around a (dead or alive) leading figure, who is typically described as an “Enlightened Zen Master” (regardless of his or her actual educational background).

In the blog of the American Zen teacher Brad Warner I found a few wise words perfectly describing the approach our own small Dojo follows, so I want to quote them here:

I have no interest at all in starting yet another Zen megachurch or commercial meditation superstore.

I don’t want a thing that needs to grow, that needs to keep adding new members in order to survive, compelling us to try to convince people to come. I’d like to have a space available for people who are serious about practice, who already know that they need it. I do not want be forced to accept people who aren’t actually serious just because we need more butts on cushions and more dollar bills in the collection plate.

I do not have any interest in spending a single moment trying to teach someone about Zen who has been convinced to come […]. It’s because doing that is a complete waste of my time and theirs. Zen is not for people who have been convinced or sold on it. It can’t do any good at all for someone who has come for that reason.

Brad Warner, The Zen Gospel of Prosperity

Yet the one question remains: how to pay the Dojo’s rent? And since we are talking about “Zen in the West”, how to pay the Dojo’s heating? I might well continue month after month deciding to not yet cancel my Dojo’s contract…

(*) The others often show a certain tendency to get either lost in theoretical speculations (all the more when their education does not allow them to read the sources in their original language), or personal disputes with other Zen people, or both.