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    Hail to the Maha Leprechaunavana

    I am an unabashed and avowed 'Buddhist modernist' who is in favor of getting rid of superstitious beliefs in Buddhist practice ...

    ... BUT ONLY for those of us who wish to be rid of superstitious beliefs, let alone view them as "superstitious."

    It is vital to understand the distinction, and that while 'my way' may be right for me and those who feel the same way, it may not be right in other ways for everyone going their own way.

    I may not believe in leprechauns (or the equivalent within the Zen and other Buddhist traditions to belief in leprechauns), but others may find great value and inspiration in leprechauns. Good for them, and let us celebrate their right to do so, and the beauty and power they find in such beliefs. The others may not see leprechauns as leprechauns at all, but as wondrous beings or miraculous sages, and that is their precious perspective too. They may be right, those of us who do not believe may be wrong.

    But I also speak for the beauty and power and right of interpretation of those of us who do not wish to believe in leprechauns, or to have leprechauns as a part of our practice. Leprechauns are not crucial to Zen practice (others may disagree in their view of Zen practice however, and let us celebrate their beliefs too. Cheers to those who believe and search for the pot of gold!)

    As well, even a leprechaun skeptic like me will make room for some leprechauns --if-- I find reason in my heart in terms that make sense to me. Sorry, I cannot believe in something that seems silly to me like leprechauns (silly to me anyway, even if not silly to others), yet I can also find many reasons why what seems silly at first is not so silly. For example, I may conclude that leprechauns are just symbols for something without being literally true, such as the "pot of gold" at the end of enlightenment's rainbow or the "lucky charms" that work no actual magic yet help us realize life as "lucky" just by being life. Thus I still keep some statues and pictures of leprechauns (or their Buddhist equivalents) around our Zendo, and recount leprechaun legends in some of my books for the wise lessons they express. Or, I might see how belief in leprechauns may bring comfort to somebody's heart in times of struggle, so that belief in leprechauns helps people who need. However, short of that, I personally will not believe in leprechauns, Buddhist or otherwise.

    I do think that Stephen Batchelor went too far in his way of rejecting leprechauns, modernizing Buddhism, trying to recast the historical Buddha as merely an ethicist and modern thinker, stripping away any belief that the Buddha happened to share with another Indian religion or philosophy. For Batchelor, if the Brahmans also believed in leprechauns in some way, then the Buddha could not believe in leprechauns (simply because, somehow, the Buddha had to be a completely original thinker), even though it seems quite likely that the Buddha believed and taught about leprechauns. (Granted, there is much about the magical stories and wondrous claims regarding the Buddha too that seem themselves quite "leprechauny," so who can know even a totally leprechaun-free Buddha!?) Batchelor is as much a fundamentalist in some ways as the people he criticizes. For me, there is no reason to think that the historical Buddha had to agree with all modern interpretations of Buddhism or reject leprechauns. That is fine, but I am still going to maintain my stance as an "open minded" agnostical skeptic about such things, including whether there is a Deva-realm of leprechauns (even if the Buddha is quoted as saying just that in the Maha Leprechaunavana Sutra).

    Maybe leprechauns exist in the world, playing their tin whistles, and not just in our hearts or peoples' imaginations. It could be. I am open to it, but I am rather doubtful.

    In any case, leprechauns or no leprechauns ... chop wood, fetch water, live gently, sit Zazen. In Zazen, one sits as what is. If there are leprechauns, then sit as leprechauns. If there are no leprechauns, then sit as no leprechauns. In any case, Just Sit. If there are leprechauns, they are sitting on this Zafu too.

    Gassho, Jundo


    Last edited by Jundo; 03-12-2021 at 09:58 PM.

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