One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same any place in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear. — Dave Brubeck

Showing posts with label Robert Aitken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Aitken. Show all posts

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Zen Master looks at Same-Gender Marriage, by Robert Aitken Roshi

Two years before his death in 2010, I asked Bob to write a piece about same sex marriage that could be used as an op-ed in heated debate before California voted on Prop 8 which sought to reverse the decision by the State Supreme Court to open legal marriage to same sex couples. He was a Zen Master who did not shy away from taking a active stance in the world. I am posting it as a tribute to Bob and the ever present encouragement in his teaching,
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A Zen Master looks at Same-Gender Marriage
by Robert Aitken
October 2008

Robert Aitken Roshi is one of the most widely respected American Zen teachers. In 1959 he and his wife, Anne Hopkins Aitken, founded a Zen Meditation community in Hawaii, the Honolulu Diamond Sangha. Today there are Diamond Sangha affiliated centers in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. He is also co-founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Now 91 years old, he lives in Honolulu with his son Tom.

The word Zen means "exacting meditation," which describes the central practice of the Zen Buddhist and from which emerge certain quite profound realizations that can be applied in daily life. Most practitioners come to a deep understanding that all life is connected and that we are each a boundless container that includes all other beings. The application of this kind of intimacy can be framed in the classic Buddhist teaching of the Four Noble Abodes: loving kindness, compassion, joy in the attainment of others, and equanimity.

Applying these Four Noble Abodes to the issue of same-sex marriage, I find it clear that encouragement is my recommendation. Over my long career of teaching, I have had students who were gay, lesbian, trans-sexual and bisexual, as well as heterosexual. These orientations have seemed to me to be quite specific, much akin to the innate proclivities which lead people to varied careers or take paths in life that are uniquely their own. We are all human, and within my own container, I find compassion—not just for—but with the gay or lesbian couple who wish to confirm their love in a legal marriage.

Although historically Zen has been a monastic tradition, there have always been prominent lay adherents. Those who enter the state of marriage vow to live their lives according to the same sixteen precepts that ground the Buddhist monk’s and nun’s life in the world. This way of living opens our path into life. Like life itself, marriage is absolutely non-discriminatory and open to all.

Buddhist teaching regarding sexuality is expressed in the precept of "taking up the way of not misusing sex." I understand this precept to mean that any self-centered sexual conduct is exploitative, non-consensual—sex that harms others. In the context of young men or young women confined within monastery walls for periods of years, one might expect rules and teachings relating to homosexuality, but they don't appear. Homosexuality seems to be overlooked in Zen teachings, and indeed in classical Buddhist texts. However, my own monastic experience leads me to believe that homosexuality was not taken as an aberration, and so did not receive comment.

All societies have from earliest times across the world formalized sexual love in marriage ceremonies that give the new couple standing and rights in the community. Currently both rights and standing are denied to gays and lesbians who wish to marry in all but three of the United States. If every State acknowledged the basic married rights of gay and lesbian couples, young men and women just beginning their lives together, as well as those who have shared their lives for decades, a long-standing injustice would be corrected, and these fellow citizens would feel accepted in the way they deserve to be. This would stabilize a significant segment of our society, and we would all of us be better able to acknowledge our diversity. I urge the voters of California to keep gay and lesbian marriages legal. This is the most humane course of action and in keeping with perennial principles of decency and mutual encouragement.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Koan Bibliography

Koan Collections

The Blue Cliff Record

The Blue Cliff Record (Chinese: (碧巖錄) Bìyán Lù; Japanese: Hekiganroku (碧巌録?); Korean: Byeokamrok, 벽암록(碧巖錄);Vietnamese: Bích nham lục (碧巖錄)) is a collection of Chán Buddhist koans originally compiled in China during the Song dynasty in 1125 (宋宣和七年) and then expanded into its present form by the Chán master Yuanwu Keqin (圜悟克勤 1063 – 1135).

The book includes Yuanwu's annotations and commentary on Xuedou Zhongxian's (雪竇重顯 980 – 1052) collection 100 Verses on Old Cases (頌古百則) — a compilation of 100 koans. Xuedou selected 82 of these from the Jingde Chuandeng Lu (景德傳燈錄) (Jingde era Record of the Transmission of the Lamp), with the remainder selected from the Yunmen Guanglu (雲門廣録), Extensive Record of Yunmen Wenyan (864 – 949).

Another key legend regards Dogen Zenji (道元禅師; 1200 – 1253), who brought the Soto Zen sect to Japan. After an extended visit to China for the purpose of studying Zen, on the night before his planned return to Japan, Dogen saw the Bìyán Lù for the first time, and stayed up all night making a handwritten copy of the book. Given the size of the book, this story is almost certainly apocryphal.

The most widely used translation is The Blue Cliff Record, J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary, trans.

The Gateless Gate

The Gateless Gate (無門關, Mandarin. Wúménguān, Japanese. 無門関, Mumonkan) is a collection of 48 Chan (Zen) koans compiled in the early 13th century by the Chinese Zen master Wumen Hui-k'ai (無門慧開)(1183–1260) (Japanese: Mumon Ekai). Wumen's preface indicates that the volume was published in 1228. Each koan is accompanied by a commentary and verse by Wumen. A classic edition includes a 49th case composed by Anwan (pen name for Cheng Ch'ing-Chih) in 1246. Wu-liang Tsung-shou also supplemented the volume with a verse of four stanzas composed in 1230 about the three checkpoints of Zen master Huanglong. These three checkpoints of Huanglong should not be confused with Doushuai's Three Checkpoints found in Case 47.

Along with the Blue Cliff Record and the oral tradition of Hakuin Ekaku, The Gateless Gate is a central work much used in Rinzai School practice. Five of the koans in the work concern the sayings and doings of Zhaozhou; four concern Ummon.

There are 3 widely used English translations:

Yamada, Koun, The Gateless Gate, Center Publications, Wisdom Publications. 2004

Aitken, Robert, The Gateless Barrier, The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumokan), North Point Press, San Francisco. 1991

Gateless Barrier: Zen Comments on the Mumonkan by Zenkei Shibayama is somewhat hard to find in print. 

Other Koan Collections

Book of Serenity: One Hundred Zen Dialogues Shoyo Roku, Hung-chih Cheng-chüeh, Cleary, Thomas, trans., Shambhala, 1998

Entangling Vines, Shumon kattoshu, is one of the few major koan texts to have been compiled in Japan rather than China. Thomas Yuho Kirchner (Translator), Nelson Foster (Foreword), Ueda Shizuteru (Introduction).

Shōbōgenzō (正法眼蔵, lit. "Treasury of the True Dharma Eye")

Master Dogen’s Shinji Shobogenzo: 301 Koan Stories, Nishijima, Gudo, Michael Luetchford & Jeremy Pearson (eds), Windbell Publications, Woking. 2003

The True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koans, John Daido Loori,  Kazuaki Tanahashi (Translator)

Other Books

Cleary, Thomas, Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record: Zen Comments by Hakuin and Tenkei, Shambhala, Boston & London. 2000

Cleary, Rational Zen; The Mind of Dogen Zenji, Shambhala, Boston & London. 1993

Cleary, No Barrier: Unlocking the Zen Koan, Aquarian/Thorsons, London. 1993

James Ishmael Ford  (Ed), Melissa Myozen Blacker (Ed), John Tarrant (Foreword) The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen's Most Important Koan. 2011

Heine, Steven, Dogen and the Koan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shobogenzo Texts, SUNY, Albany. 1994

Hori, Victor Sogen, Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice, University of  Hawai'i Press,  Honolulu, 2003

MacInnes, Elaine  Ruben L. F. Habito (Foreword)The Flowing Bridge: Guidance on Beginning Zen Koans 

Miura, Isshu & Sasaki, Ruth Fuller, The Zen Koan: Its History and Use in Rinzai Zen, Harcourt Brace & Co., San Diego. 1965

Nishijima, Gudo & Cross, Chodo, Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo, Book 1, Windbell Publications, Woking. 1994

O'Halloran, Maura, Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind: The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint 

Japanese Buddhism and the Meiji Restoration, The American Academy of Religion, 1997

Sasaki, Ruth Fuller, A Man of Zen: The Recorded Sayings of Layman P'ang

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