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September 17, 2005


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If memory serves me well, Stephen Bachelor was a student of Korean Seon (Zen) Master Ku San of Son Kwang Sa Monastery who died around 20 years ago. Korean Zen is very traditional in it's approach which led Japanese Rinzai Zen Master Joshu Sasaki to comment that Korean Zen was "Stuck Zen" although I'm not at all convinced that his opinion is correct.
The point of all this is that each commentator is coming at Buddhism from the level of understanding they have and the tradition they have trained in.
Not to have trained in any tradition is however even more fraught with pitfalls in attempting to get an understanding of what Buddhisnm is about. One Master who has trained under the best that China could produce in the two main Chan (Zen) lineages
ie.T'sao-Tung and Lin-Chi, and has also conducted retreats in USA England and Europe is Taiwanese Chan Master Shen-Yen. He has several books on offer(one "Illuminating Silence" has a foreword by Stephen Bachelor) which give the reader some idea of the seriousness with which training is conducted in these traditions.
My point is this, to venture into a discussion of the more esoteric aspects of Buddhist Dharma outside of the frame work of a Buddhist tradition whether Zen or otherwise is just as unhelpful now as it was back in the days of Beat Zen and even the later commentaries of Alan Watts and the like. You can get lost in that stuff without the disipline and hard work that goes with it in the traditional practice of Buddhism whichever school or sect is chosen. To quote one Japanese Roshi "Do you think Zen is taught with words? why worry about words?"
I feel the same as Brian about reading books for spiritual inspiration and haven't been able to enthuse about anything of a dogmatic nature for some 20 years or more. Not since I attended retreats conducted by Joshu Sasaki back in 1980's in fact. Even the Abbidharma based lectures of a traditional Burmese Vipassana teacher left me cold. Although at present I'm reading Brian's "Return to the One" about Plotinus and finding some simillarity with what strikes a chord with me, whoever "me" is.

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