Saturday, February 10, 2007

How Dharma combat could get bloody...

Put Zenmar and Ken Wilber and/or Genpo Merzel in a room...

Seriously, though....looking at Merzel's website, I see terms related to money in a lot of places...moreover this is, shall I dare to say, a bit de trop...

Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, one of the preeminent Zen Masters in the Western world, has developed a unique and revolutionary approach for transmitting the authentic teachings that emerged from Buddha's enlightenment experience. With a mastery born of more than thirty years of teaching, Genpo Roshi has enabled thousands of participants in Big Mind workshops to gain profound insights and taste for themselves the illuminating experience from which Buddhism and all the world's great religions originate.

It is of course being promoted as "quick enlightenment."

When Dennis Merzel began his formal Zen studies three decades ago, his Japanese Zen master's methods left him perplexed. "DIE ON YOUR CUSHION!" Koryu Roshi exhorted his novices who sat cross-legged on cushions facing a wall at the Los Angeles Zen Center. "BECOME THE WALL!"

"I don't know what the hell he's talking about," Merzel remembers thinking. "And even if I knew, I'm not doing it."

From that unlikely beginning, Brooklyn-born Merzel has gone on to become spiritual leader to thousands of Zen Buddhists around the world.

But Merzel--now called Genpo Roshi--always knew the traditional Eastern approach to Zen didn't work for many Westerners. They don't like being told to die. Although he eventually realized the Zen master was commanding him to "die" in order to be reborn as a more compassionate being, he thought there had to be a better way to unlock the Zen door to Westerners.

For decades, Genpo searched for the key to enable Westerners to shift from identifying with their own self to being identified with the whole cosmos--to the Universal or Big Mind. Three years ago, he finally found it.

Call it the Western path to enlightenment.

Through a combination of Western therapy and Zen practice, Roshi now shows Zen beginners in one-day seminars at Salt Lake City's Kanzeon Zen Center how to achieve an awakening that has taken many Zen practitioners years.

And it's all possible, he says, because Westerners are suckers for a magic word: Please.

"We'll do anything for anyone if they say please," Roshi says.

At recent Saturday seminar, Roshi--wearing khakis and a short-sleeved black shirt--strode into an airy upstairs room to take his place in a director's chair before a room of 60 people sitting in padded chairs grouped in a half-circle.

"This might seem bold, this might seem strange," he tells the group, "that you will have in one day--before lunch actually --the clarity and experience that a Zen master has. But Zen is seen as the school of sudden enlightenment. And we're just making sure it remains sudden."

His technique to temporarily silence the "controller"--one's ego or commanding voice--is so simple that it's surprising it wasn't discovered earlier, he says. But such an insight wasn't possible as long as Zen remained an Eastern-centered discipline.

It is no wonder why Ken Wilber, (see the Wikipedia entry on him for more) gushes:

Let me state this as strongly as I can: the Big Mind Process (founded by Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi) is arguably the most important and original discovery in the last two centuries of Buddhism. It is an astonishingly original, profound, and effective path for waking up, or seeing one’s True Nature. It is such a simple and universal practice it can be used in any spiritual path you wish, or even just alone, by itself, as a practice for realizing your True Nature—which you can call God, Allah, Jahweh, Brahman, Tao, Ein Sof—it doesn’t really matter, because the core of the Big Mind Process is Emptiness itself, which, having no specific content at all, can and does embrace anything that arises, integrating it all. What Dennis Genpo Roshi has done is not only the most original discovery in Buddhism in the last two centuries, it is unbelievably simple, quick, and effective. In Zen, this realization of one’s True Nature, or Ultimate Reality, is called kensho or satori (“seeing into one’s True Nature,” or discovering Big Mind and Big Heart). It often takes five years or more of extremely difficult practice (I know, I’ve done it) in order for a profound satori to occur. With the Big Mind Process, a genuine kensho can occur in about an hour—seriously. Once you get it, you can do it virtually any time you wish, and almost instantaneously. It is nothing less than the discovery of your True and Unique Self, Ultimately Reality, the Ground of All Being—again, call it what you like, for “they call it Many which is really One.”

While it was Huineng who is said to have become enlightened after hearing the Diamond-Cutter Sutra, he was illiterate, and besides, he was actually training for years before that, albeit not formally as a monastic.

You can't buy enlightenment. At least, not the good kind, or not without a nasty hangover.

OK, that was a bit of sarcasm, but you can't buy enlightment: at best Merzel's "process" might get you to discover some ox footprints. Maybe. Because you don't get to those other stages of "enlightenment" without that Big Mindset permeating the interstices of your most mundane aspects of your existence. And there's no book that will teach you how to do that: you have to live it and practice it. Period. And nobody of any note is going to certify that, or give you a seal of approval eventually, and even if they did it wouldn't be worth whatever it's calligraphied on.

Reading Merzel's book to become enlightened is like reading "Tennis for Dummies" and expecting to be top seeded.

(Note to self: Huineng's temple's in Guandong province, and Huang Po's temple (黄檗山) should be in Fujian province - next time I go to China I want to go there.)

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