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Thread: When a Zen Priest Looses

  1. #1

    When a Zen Priest Looses

    His Patience.

    I got by mail a used copy of "Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki." Really well written bio and interesting look into S. Suzuki's life.

    As I read this book, it really brings it back to home that no matter how much you practice zazen and the precepts.....we are still very much human.

    This really hit me when I got to page 197:

    Kato always remarked how nothing ever bother Suzuki , but there were exceptions. Tobase's nephew used to come to Sokoji frequently to raid the kitchen, smoke, and chat in Japanese. As is common with people living abroad, he complained about his new country. Suzuki didn't like to hear petty complaints. One day in the office with Suzuki, Kato, and their good friend and temple elder George Hagiwara, the young Tobase was sitting on the couch going on about all the things that irritated him about America. Suddenly Suzuki leaped from his chair and slapped Tobase's face five times ( :shock: ), rapid-fire. Kato and Hagiwara were astounded. "There--that's what you get!" he said, "and if you complain more you'll get more!" Tobase was humiliated. He left and stopped comming. Two weeks later Suzuki called him up. "Hey, Tobase-san, why don't you come over? We have too much food here, and we miss you." So he started coming again.
    Both the gates of Hell and Heaven are within us.

    A samurai came across an old monk sitting by the city gate and asked:

    "Master, tell me the difference between the gates of heaven and the gates of hell?"

    The old master sniffed and said:

    "Who are you to ask? You smell from not bathing."

    "Somebody as filthy as you could not understand!"

    The samurai was insulted by the old monk and started to draw his sword.

    "Here, open the gates of hell!" said the old monk.

    The samurai re-sheathed his sword.

    "And here open the gates of heaven!" said the old monk.

    In gratitude for the lesson, the samurai bowed deeply and went on his way.

  2. #2

    Re: When a Zen Priest Looses


    I have heard two conflicting perspectives regarding aggression and zen. One is the totally passive non-violent perspective, the other -- as I understand it -- says that such acts are "ok" if they are done with the right intention. The latter seems more inline with writings like the Tao te Ching that emphasize "the right time and place" for various types of actions.

    But, then again, I could be totally wrong.

    BTW, below is a link to a 30 min. show interviewing the author of the book.

  3. #3

    Re: When a Zen Priest Looses

    Anger clouds our judgment, often preventing us from acting in a way is most helpful to all parties involved (hence the precept that . However, there are times when being stern, serious, firm, passionate, or whatever term you might use for actions that would appear on the surface very similar to anger. With my kids, I will often have to be stern when trying to adjust their behavior. They often think I am mad, when actually I'm not angry at all but am trying to give them some idea of the seriousness of the situation. So, maybe it is like that.

    Occasionally, however, we raise the voice and assume a stern countenance. In appropriate circumstances, where the practice of others may be enhanced, this is not a violation of the precept. Robert Aitken on the precept regarding anger in Taking the Path of Zen p. 85-86.


  4. #4

    Re: When a Zen Priest Looses

    Quote Originally Posted by Mushin

    BTW, below is a link to a 30 min. show interviewing the author of the book.
    Thanks! I really enjoyed the interview. Really, really good book.

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