I inherited from my Zen Teacher, Suzuki Roshi:
A ‘What’ of Zen practice. (A particular Soto Zen Lineage.)
A ‘How’ of Zen practice. (A realizational craft.)
A ‘Where’ of Zen practice. (A realizational locus.)
• He taught and showed me ‘what’ are the basic Buddhist and Zen Teachings of our Lineage Tree.
• He taught and showed me ‘how’ these teachings are practiced realizationally – the crafts of Zen Practice.
• He taught and showed me how Zen Practice has traditionally been based on practicing face-to-face in a mandalically conceived space, a ‘whereness’.
This is why he asked me to find a place where he could live with practitioners, which would be completely dedicated to face-to-face, gesturally, embodied, Zen practice – away from most of the dust of the world. That place became Tassajara, then Crestone and Johanneshof.
GO cannot be played without a GO board. And you cannot play GO on a chess board. The GO Board instrumentalizes the GO Stones and makes the moves and the relational-field possible. In a metaphorically similar way, yogic culture instrumentalizes the teachings and craft of Zen Practice: postural stillness, nondual-phenomenality, shareable awakening, and paratactically-successional attentionality.
I received Transmission from Suzuki Roshi at Rinsoin in Japan in 1970. The Initiatory Ceremony was important, but the actual process of Transmission begins from a shared commitment followed by years of study and practice together. For me, this began in 1960 and continued until Suzuki Roshi’s death in 1971.
The guided and simultaneously auto-didactic development of the realizational craft of Zen Practice requires sustained, repeated, and mutually scrutinized investigation of oneself, of the disciple-teacher relationship, and of the inseparable, inter-relationality of the world. This apprenticeship has almost always been a monastic practice.
As it says in Koan 98 of the Book of Serenity: “In the emptiness of the pot of ages, there is a family tradition.”
However, since this extended living together with a teacher and within a sangha is not possible for most seekers; every day I ask myself how can this potentially-world-saving, personally transformative practice, become more accessible.
Even though Realizational Practice has traditionally been monastic, I am sure such Practice must be possible for non-monastic lay seekers. Of course, there are seekers who have realized Zen practice on their own, but a personally developed path is not easy to share with others.
I hope the Dharma Sangha can contribute to, participate in, exploring a non-monastic, realizational, Lay Zen practice. Such a path will still have to be intentional, attentionality-sustained (even if intermittent usually), scrutinizable, rooted in the crafts of Zen, and an investigation of how we actually exist.
It’s a Path for the Future of this Lay World, however, we need to develop it now.
"An ancient embankment, the boat returns” –– to where? Who would have known that in the distant misty waves there is another, better realm of thought?” (Koan 98, Book of Serenity.)