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Thread: Teachers, expectations, and being let down. A look back at WWII Roshi's teachings.

  1. #1

    Teachers, expectations, and being let down. A look back at WWII Roshi's teachings.

    I am particularly interested in Jundo and Taigu's thoughts, although I look forward to reading the Sangha's as well. This has been on my mind for the past few days.

    I have been reading on Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, who was formerly a prolific Soto Roshi before founding the Sanbo Kyodan Zen Buddhist organization. I find his teachings fascinating. However, he is also well-known to have have preached right-wing and anti-semetic ideology during and after WWII. I also recall reading about Kishizawa Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki's teacher, who lent Buddhist teachings to the war effort and encouraged young men to shoot their guns with the Buddha in mind.

    The Buddha taught us to not believe a word he said. To experience it for ourselves, the direct-experience, and make our own judgement to the validity of his teachings. I am still wrestling with how such teachers, having transcended delusional, or perhaps not transcended, thinking to encourage behavior wildly out of line with Buddhism. (note to self: look back at the threads we are discussing re: Precepts..)

    Was it a "had to be there in the midst of the Imperial Emperor" movement-moment-confusion? Jundo, Taigu, you both are in Japan and have a cultural sensitivity to the collective-thought during that period. I would love to hear your thoughts..

    We will all face instances in our lives, when the popular decision is not the right decision. I sit, and pray, that we all have the ability to the Truth as best as we can at that moment.


    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

  2. #2
    Hi Lu,

    Folks should get beyond the very romantic and narrow-sighted idea that being a Zen Teacher cleanses one of all all humanness, for better or worse. Oh, Enlightenment is the piercing of this Samsaric realm, to a clear and peaceful realm free of "me vs. you", free of greed or anger, a realm of "Perfection" for its very Wholeness both surpassing and including small human judgments of "perfect vs. imperfect by human eyes". Such is Absolutely So! Yet, at the same time, the Zen Teacher is also a human being with rough edges living in this world of Samsara, a world of "me" and "you", judgments, categories, aversions and attractions, opinions and sometime political views. (It is is a bit like having one leg standing in each realm). Hopefully, all the years of Buddhist Practice will round and smooth many of those rough edges, and lead one to make Wise and Compassionate choices ... but not always. (I sometimes joke that the only "flawless Zen and Buddhist Masters" are the dead ones!)

    Most Zen Teachers I know are good and gentle folks who live in Wisdom and Compassion ... and thus get little if any attention. It is the small handful who "crash and burn" who get attention. I have compared this to all the safe landings of aircraft each day, carrying millions of passengers, that garner no news coverage for that very reason. Only the rare fall and crash draws all eyes and news cameras.

    I have written a few times on Yasutani Roshi's political views and related cases of "fallen Roshi's". Would you have a look, and then we can talk more?

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Safe Landings

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - IX (Bad Roshis)

    I believe that, like so many in Japan of the early 20th Century, Yasutani Roshi was caught up in the nationalism of the time, and bought much of the propaganda of the times. For those not familiar with the story, Sanbokyodan issued an apology a few years ago.

    Let me also mention that Brian Victoria's book "Zen at War" did a real service to the Zen world by bringing this story to wide attention. However, as I recently wrote, one must take much in that book with many grains of salt.


    After you look at those, let me know if you have any specific points or questions you want to ask, please let us continue the discussion.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-29-2013 at 10:27 AM.

  3. #3

    Many, many thank you's for those links. There is just so much volume to process and contemplate, that I plan on re-reading the postings and your review of Brian's book, and formulate a few thoughts or questions I have for you.

    Deep Gassho,

    Shinjin datsuraku, datsuraku shinjin..Body-mind drop off, mind-body drop off..

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