When I was a whole lot younger, the mantra was that punk was dead, long live punk.
We said this because of the “selling out” of the punk scene to corporate money making and more people friendly venues.  Punk, was dead.  It was dead as soon as it was born really.  And the Punk scene had died long before I ever picked up that mantra.  

The same has happened to Zen of course.  It has been dead for a long time, only living in the minds of those who freshly discover it and those who reinvent it.  But mostly it is a decayed old corpse.  Mostly just dust now. 

Every now and then a hero may come along and breathe fresh life into the buddha dharma.  And then the organizers who want zen to have teeth lambast them for not falling in line with the very system that is killing the real spirit of Zen.  

Let the organizations that want to regulate and fix onto views die.  Let the real seekers go on seeking.  Let the real heroes go on spreading the teachings in living rooms, under bridges, in yoga studios, etc.  As soon as a view of a fixed organization comes up, strike it down.  Fixed organizations always fail.  some may last a bit, heck, rome lasted a pretty long time.  But the longer they are around the more corrupted they become.  The decay of dead zen is already stinking up the place here.  Maybe that is why I haven’t been posting much of late.  I am thinking of moving over to yoga.  That looks a whole lot more promising than Zen.


jundo cohen said...
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jundo cohen said...

Hi Jordan,

I agree with you comment about organizations that want to stifle things and have everyone walk in lockstep, but why do you think that everyone in such organizations has thus been stifled and is walking in lockstep? And is there a difference between just having an organization to hold up some common sense ethical standards where someone might get hurt and an organization that wants to work as some court of doctrinal orthodoxy? And where is the "real spirit" that existed in the "good old days" but in one's mind? 'Tis as real now as real then, as real as real can be. Also, the "golden good old days" were often not anywhere near as golden and good as we like to uphold in our idealized dreams ... just old. What happens in a living room or under a bridge or seedy dance club can be strange and corrupt, while what happens in the most orthodox of institutional settings (like a classical concert hall) can sometimes be majestic. Don't be locked into images and bound by setting or location or judging by the outwork packaging. Gassho, Jundo

genkaku said...

Jordan -- Make whatever move you consider sensible. Your life, your practice, your choice. But go with care. Not care for Zen or care for yoga, but care for you.

Negative and positive aspects of spiritual persuasions are a dime a dozen. What counts is what works and what works is not the persuasion. What works is you. All formats are, in one sense, lies, and yet those lies are the precise tools needed to find whatever you choose to call the truth.

Perhaps you too saw the Bruce Lee movie that tracked his training through a variety of martial arts styles. When Lee finished, he decided to teach his students "the style of no style." The only problem was that his students didn't get it and were left, in effect, with ineffectual training and ineffective skills.

To find some format or training ground that is not littered with horseshit is impossible. What is possible is for you to find a format or lie that will be unbounded or reveal the truth in you. Purity and virtue are impossible. Impurity and lack of virtue are impossible. Now ... what is possible?

Your life, your call.

Best wishes,


Robin said...

Well Jordan, as you know I agree that Zen needs a reformation. And I believe that we in the West are best called to provide it, given our radically different cultural context. (I'm not alone in that, either. Many of the Asian teachers who brought Zen to the West did so precisely because they were trying to "save" it from Asia. SFZC's Suzuki is perhaps the most prominent example.) Much of my fervour for restoring and revitalising the hermit path is based on my own conviction that valid religion requires equal tension between organisation and individual discovery. It's the hermits that keep the ordained types honest.

I wish you good roads on whatever path you are called to take, my brother. In the meantime, here's an favourite teaching you may find worthwhile: "I do not say there is no Ch'an. Just no teachers." (Huangbo)

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

Thanks for looking!