Saturday, April 25, 2009

Excellent article

Dear everyone,

Kurt has recommended this article as an example of how Zen can be practiced incorrectly. He said that "The point of the article", as he understood it, "is that people can use Zen and the teaching of no-self to run away from their life and problems instead of dealing with them. They try to live up to an idealized image of superhuman perfection.This is one of the reasons that Bodhidharma (i.e., Mahayana) emphasized True Nature, rather than no-self. It's crucial for people to inhabit their personal lives in a healthy way. Even after Dai Kensho (great awakening, satori), people must continue to confront and work through their karmic obstacles. Working through can be hard, but the result is always a richer, happier life."..... Also, this article is clearly not right about one thing. While comparing Zen with psychoanalysis, it suggests that Zen is only concerned with awareness of the present moment but not so much with the authority of the unconscious mind. Zen is quite concerned with the unconscious.

(In my own practice with Kurt, I don't think he has encouraged only trying to sit in deep mushin (blankness) forever except when we are just beginning with breath or Mu koan)-- I have encountered many pains, fears and attachments and episodes of abandonment and he hasn't ever said "Forget emotions or past". Instead he has always said, "Face this completely. Work through this. This is rice." Eventually, sometimes after days and sometimes after months, I have felt at ease and very often heart has been full of love and "forgiveness". Infact he gave a teisho very recently (Feb 14th, 2009), that dealt with issues of no-self vs. true-self. The audio quality isn't great for some reason.

I guess, the article might seem a bit disconcerting at first. Initially, I liked to look at Zen teachers as mostly at ease with themselves, their past and present; genuinely caring and compassionate - and many of them are.
But I have also found many teachers who are frequently put on pedestal can't/don't live upto the expectations of themselves and their students . It still doesn't mean that the zen path is not genuine and enlightenment is not real. Here someone is teaching from his "failure" of not being able to go beyond no-self for a long time.

Also, it has not been easy to find out what is natural and what is my "true self" saying but I see that for me it has been important and extremely "helpful" to keep going back to cushion even when the process seems confusing and frustrating;
We probably could use some integration with psychotherapy which many teachers around the U.S. seem to be doing consciously and subconsciously but we would keep going - won't we?)


  1. Your comments on the article are interesting. It should cause questions from practitioners, and counter the idealization of teachers.

    You really should not, however, include the whole text in your blog. It is disrespectful to the author and publisher, and violates fair use of copyrighted material as well. A link is enough.

  2. I have removed the entire article after seeing the comment above - We are new to blogging and I got carried away about this beautiful article which must have required careful work by the author and the people involved. Sincere apologies.

  3. Someone has been leaving anonymous comments on our blog and we feel it is not sincere to keep doing this, so we will not be accepting the comments unless someone in the sangha (any author) knows the author of the comments. --Kriti

  4. Here is a more recent article form NYtimes that might be interesting to some people:

    Some aspects of this article might be true for people who have practiced zen for long and routinely "help" others!