Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Dharma Speech

Two thousand five hundred years ago, the sangha asked Śakyamuni Buddha to share his Dharma with the assembly, to which Buddha held up a single flower.

Hold up Zen stick…………hit

One Thousand four hundred years ago, Chán Master Juzhi was asked, “What is Buddha?” to which he only held up his finger.

Hold up Zen stick…………hit

Fifty years ago, Soen Master Seung Sahn was asked, “What is the teaching of Soen?” to which he only held up his Soen Stick.

Hold up Zen stick…………hit

I aspire to ensure that the teaching continues, so allowing the diversity, as was done in Ancient China for a thousand years seems like a prudent step forward. The Línjì Lu in China had no real central doctrine or hierarchy; it was just a Lineage of Teachers who shared a common root. The Japanese created central organizations like Soto-shu and Rinzai-shu, which I believe the Koreans may have copied during the occupation by the Japanese. In Korea, Bojo Jinul consolidated the Nine Mountain schools to a common form, which was loosely related and contains many different forms to this day; including the last remaining true Huáyán School (Under the Jögye Order).

My point is that I believe large organizations like Soto, Rinzai, Jögye, Táego, Kwan Um, San Francisco Zen, Mountain and Rivers Order, and the Zen Studies Society, may by their structures, become a hindrance to the continuing evolution of Zen in the West. The current model of the White Plum Asangha and the Diamond Sangha, along with their off-shoot organizations, which are not centrally controlled or governed, seems more tenable and suited for resurgence, and these types of experimental groups will allow the growth of Zen into the 21st Century and beyond. We all have such divergent backgrounds, in education, profession, martial arts, philosophy, as well as exposure to other forms of Religion and Sects of Buddhism that it would be a shame not to encourage each teacher to seek their own path and find their own voice. We live in a multi-culture and have free access to teaching from Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Mystical Christianity, Sufism, Kabbalah , Advaita Vedānta, Psychology, Quantum Physics and so forth. By limiting the scope of our efforts, we would restrict Zen’s possible evolution into a force that can truly help transform the future of humanity.

Therefore, for each of us, the Ordination of a Priest/Monk/Layperson might look completely different; however, we are doing it under the auspices of the Five Mountain Zen Order. Perhaps the Five Mountain Zen Order becomes just that, kind of amorphous and not narrowly defined. In addition, in the spirit of the College of Zen Buddhist Studies both Organizations would continue to be eclectic in approach, with the Seminary under the Guidance of the Teachers and the Five Mountain Zen Order being the DNA from which we all spring forth. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi once said, “The best way to control someone is put them out in a large spacious meadow and just watch them. If you try to pen them in they will resist and possibly will rebel because of this control.” (I am paraphrasing obviously but you get the point.)

More freedom and less control, more action and less checking, more encouragement and less dominance is what I would aspire towards in the future. This allows us all the freedom to move in divergent directions without the baggage of a large and weighty organization, we will change as the local conditions arise and some may want to build larger Sanghas which evolve out of Five Mountain; whereas, other Teachers might want to only teach a select number of students.

I hope this helps.

One thousand five hundred years ago someone asked Chán Master Mǎzŭ, “What is Buddha?” to which he responded, “Mind is Buddha, Buddha is mind.”

Hold up Zen stick…………hit

Thirty years ago someone asked Zen Master Subong, “How is it when the nose is no longer vertical and the eyes are no longer horizontal?” to which he responded by twisting the questioners nose hard to the right.

Hold up Zen stick…………hit

Today I hold up this Zen stick, are these actions the same or are they different?

Today is the fourth anniversary of my fathers passing, and we are in a beautiful meditation room of smiling faces.

Peace, peace, and peace be upon you


Anonymous said...

thank you for your speech. but you're making differences that are ephemeral for the sake of argument

eg. Kwan Um school is diverse and anarchical in its own way. We have common practice forms, a network of practice and residential centers, we gather together as a school for holidays and we have a teaching lineage. beyond that what forms of centralized control and structure do you think we have or exert? Ditto for yr other examples of big schools. We're not very big anyway. I'd guess our active sangha worldwide is in the 100's. modest. And we have all sorts of connections to other buddhist teachers and schools. we sponsor all kinds of workshops that relate to but are not directly about zen. our network of centers support the others. that in turn supports our teachers, monks, nuns, and all sangha members its a network not a hierarchy. Our current head teacher ZM bon haeng is modest to a fault, dedicated, but open to any and all suggestions to make the school more useful to the Kwan um sangha and the world.

put it all down!

Kwan Um Sangha member

Anonymous said...

excuse me. Kwan Um's head teacher is ZM Song Haeng!