Nov 062013

Possibly my understanding of Japanese Zen is not sufficient to allow commenting on something which on the outside very much looks like a family-owned business of funeral parlours with associated boot-camp and a few beautiful sightseeing spots.

But I have been long enough involved in “Western Zen” to observe my patience wearing thin. I wrote up a few questions, not even 95, and lacking a Zen-Temple’s door nearby to post them, I will just post them in my blog:

  • Where is the truly homeless Zen-Monk, living in celibacy, having nothing more than a bowl and his robes made out of ragged cloth?
  • When and where do the Master and the Beginner’s Mind meet as true human beings without rank (一無位真人)?
  • How many are known to have received and passed on the Dharma and yet behaved like
  • Which honest follower of the Zen Way abides with his Master, in spite of all his proven misconducts and crimes, striving not to put at risk the own Zen-career instead of standing by the side of his fallen teacher’s victims?
  • Who pretends to hold ranks and titles authorised by this and that Masteror tradition, charges high fees from his students while it is all too easy to find out this is altogether fake and self-deceiving illusion?
  • Who proudly boasts to be a Zen-Monk or Zen-Nun, dressed up in fancy robes from time to time, but usually just lives an ordinary lay person’s life with job and family, savings-account, insurance and pension-scheme, re-interpreting the once publicly received percepts into quite something else?
  • Who got lost in endless rituals and routines year after year in the Temple or Dojo and became nothing but a 僧堂バカ (sodo baka), a “practice hall blockhead”, yet willing to advice other people who take responsibility for a family and society?

And all those Buddhists who now quickly point with their finger on Zen-Buddhism derived from a Japanese origin, I ask:

  • Who flies far by plane to take the holy vows and already plans to keep them just for the time being, while living from the poor hard-working peasants donations – and yet calls himself the only true Buddhist Monk?

There is not so much anger in my questions as it may sound. I feel more sad, since I truly believe in the Way of Zen and yet find all wide open doors leading into a maze of darkness. A week or so ago I wrote:

It is up to us now. In the face of all these victims, we deserve a true Zen revolution, at least!

More than ever I believe this is true. We have to re-invent Zen from scratch, and that might be by going our own true way of life and practice.