It was as if the religious landscape of our country changed overnight and was suddenly populated with Hindu swamis, New Age gurus, mystical Jewish rabbis, South American shamans, American Indian leaders, Sufi imams, Tibetan lamas, Japanese roshis
, Yoga teachers, martial arts instructors, and Reiki masters!
Though he visited several different roshis
and halfheartedly continued to sit while in Kyoto, it was not until his return to Bolinas in the summer of 1971, at which time he was invited by the Bakers to move into the Zen Center shortly after Suzuki Roshi
's death, that he finally took the steps to become a monk.
After much research and experience I have come up with this rather terse definition of religion: "An explanation of the ultimate meaning of life, and how to live accordingly, based on some notion and experience of the Transcendent." Each religion has four C's: Creed (the "explanation"), Code (of behavior, "how to live"), Cult (relations to the Transcendent, that is, all the "externals," such as prayers, fasting, clothing, buildings, etc., and "internals," meditation, contemplation, mysticism, etc.), and Community-Structure (leadership and decision-making structures, such as priests, rabbis, imams, roshis
One lies in the means Zen roshis use in preparing their "students" for having this experience they call satori.
Zen roshis put their "students" in various situations designed to weaken their belief that words (Reality 2) are identical with Reality 1.
Only if you have experienced Zen satori can you be sure you understand the roshi's paradoxical descriptions of that state.
In Zen in the Art of Archery, Eugen Herrigel, a German professor in a Japanese university, tells how he experienced satori after practicing archery under the guidance of a Zen roshi. It wasn't until he was able to purge himself completely of any verbal behavior while shooting that he experienced the feeling that "It shoots." Something happened in Reality 1--the arrow was loosed and hit the bull's-eye without Herrigel's conscious willing of the act.
In Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi spoke of his training.
Its most characteristic Chinese form, Ch'an, scraps the scriptures, despises language, and relies instead on an intuitive "direct transmission" between heroic "patriarchs" and roshis, "Masters," who radiate instruction through their very beings.(8)
(8) Zen was a "special transmission outside the scripture" from the roshi or Master.
As women take on roles of teachers, roshis
, Zen masters?