Thursday, December 03, 2009

Nyogen Senzaki vs. Genpo Merzel

Tricycle revisits the Dharma Wars with a "we're open to all points of view." (HT: NellaLou)

Would Tricycle publish what's in this post? I doubt it somehow. I do wish they'd publish and adhere to certain ethical standards...

The point of view here:

is somewhat in conflict with that of seminal teachers of Zen in the west, notably Nyogen Senzaki (who was certainly in the "humble business" out of obligation to his teacher Soyen Roshi as well as his dire economic straits). (You can read of him on Wikipedia, and "How the Swans Came to the Lake" for more on him.)

It is also at odds with the practice of ethics and the precepts, and, as I've learned it, welcoming all without regard to position. Plus, as a guy who manages people, I can say categorically if you don't care for people as people, and exercise authority when needed, you don't cut it. My authority as a manager flows from my responsibilities of my position, and in that sense I cannot act authoritatively save out of the fiduciary responsibility I have to my employer. Analogously, what Merzel and Cohen are saying here is the hierarchical equivalent of "God gives me the authority," and one must call BS on that. If Genpo is a decent, ethical teacher he has a fiduciary responsibility to his sangha, and his sangha is composed of people not "vessels for transmitting the Dharma."

Gniz wonders how one can sit on a cushion for many years and yet be a jerk. I would answer it has to do with the lack of dedication to practice, as well as the practice, of mindfulness and ethics in everyday situations.

I don't want to see you "only as a vessel for transmitting the Dharma," because that makes you some object of my desires for whatever I think/feel/act is the Dharma. You're a human being for Void's sake. If I don't see you first and foremost that way, and welcome you without regard to your status (even if you are a fundamentalist or Genpo Roshi), then I am putting another head where mine is, and you won't like it and you won't benefit from it.

P.S., I'd never heard of this Andrew Cohen guy until recently, but I can't quite get why anyone would think this guy who wants to "enlighten the world" is any kind of a "spiritual teacher."

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