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Comments and Feedback on: ‘Rinzai Zen In The Modern World’

I am so appreciative of Jeff writing this paper on the history of Rinzai Zen in the West. It provides important historical information. The first part of the paper, which discusses the early years of the West’s introduction to Rinzai Zen, opens up a discussion about equating Rinzai Zen with koans. I look forward to more about this in the future. To me what was most important is Jeff’s discussion about the abuse of spiritual seeker in the West by teachers. Unfortunately, this abuse has been going on for decades and it is rare for those in the know to stand-up and speak out about the abuse.
I have followed some of what Jeff has been saying to those in the States who do not wish to look into the abuses which have taken place. I think that the paper which Jeff has written is important for all to review, think about and discuss within the Sangha. Particularly important is the last footnote in the paper which contains an email exchange between Jeff and others in the States. I recommend that all read that footnote to get a better understanding.
As students of the Dharma, it is imperative that we acknowledge that abuse has taken place and that the so-called teachers have more than just hidden it but have allowed it to continue. How clear-eyed are these individuals? And what does it say about those of us who are not willing to enter into a full discussion?
I look forward to this discussion in the future. Not one which blames, criticizes or condemns but one where an open and frank discussion ensues about inquiry into the “Great Matter” and why we in the West, in particular, feel it necessary to put the teacher on a pedestal above this inquiry. Personally, I like the way in which the Japanese Zen layman Shin’ichi Hisamatsu discusses mutual inquiry when he says that there is no master apart from our own true selves, nor is there verification apart from our actual awakening. He also emphasizes that seeking an external authority causes all kinds of problems, and that what in Zen is called “clarifying the matter of self” cannot be imposed from without by another, but emerges from within.

With Deep Bows to All, Lowell, Yardley, Pennsylvania, USA.

Jeff was recently interviewed by the ‘The Zen Gateway’ regarding this paper. The article can be found here:

On Rinzai Zen in the Modern World

Digging through the filth of the real world and uncovering the pearl of filth itself is not a matter of receiving a transmission and being able to be in authority positions. Having sat for many years in the American Zen Sanghas of several locals, and in the Vipassana tradition as well, I feel that the discussion is ripe.
Are we here to follow a program; or, to realise what is Here? Is any teacher going to experience what is here for us?
Until we take responsibility and do the work of Buddha, sitting under the very tree that we live by, and challenge our teachers with authentic realisation, Zen is merely a mystique.
No-one to do the work for us. Free at last to do it Now. This is the point.
– Baruch S.