I am currently reading To Meet the Real Dragon, by Gudo Wadu Nishijima Roshi; and Jeff Bailey. I wanted to get a little more insight into who Gudo Roshi was and this book is definitely worth the time in my opinion. Some of the concepts that Gudo Roshi discusses have been discussed previously regarding some of his ideas, particularly about merging Buddhist concepts with Western scientific concepts like the Autonomic Nervous System and philosophy such as Idealism, Materialism etc.
Here is a very good thread where Jundo discusses this for a frame of reference.
There were a couple things that came up for me reading this that I wish to share/ have some clarity on.
The first is, Gudo Roshi doesn't really mince words when he talks about the state of Zen Buddhism in modern Japan as having largely deteriorated into a Funeral Practice in which priest really don't practice that much instead of basically serving as a function for society. According to them many don't have or find the time to sit much. This was around 20 years ago. I wonder if anyone who knows could comment on the situation now? and also on his impression of it.
The second has to do with something that has been nagging in the back of my mind since I began this practice last summer. Gudo Roshi talks about how one of the struggles he has/had with conventional Buddhist thinking is the very premise of the first Noble Truth. That yes life CAN be suffering, but it isn't JUST suffering either. He then goes on at great length to talk about how this understanding of the First Noble Truth may not have been quite historically accurate, that through time and translations through various languages that something is missing from the original explanation or intent of this understanding. As other's have suggested in the post link I cited above, the conclusions about what this all DOES mean, that Gudo Roshi comes up with about separating the 4 Noble truths into levels of Western Philosophy do seem a bit of a stretch. And YET, does he perhaps not have a point with his original question about the "true" understanding of the First Noble Truth? There does seem to be SOMETHING in what Roshi is saying that resonates with me here.
I have stirred the pot now I will let other's taste