One Bird, One Stone: 108 Contemporary Zen Stories

One Bird, One Stone: 108 Contemporary Zen Stories

Sean Murphy

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1571746978

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Drawn from the archives of major Zen centers in America and interviews with some of the most seminal figures of American Zen, including Philip Kapleau, Bernie Glassman, Gary Snyder, and Walter Nowick, One Bird, One Stone presents the notable encounters between teachers and students, the moments of insight and wisdom, the quotable quotes, and the humor of Zen as it has flowered in America over the last one hundred-plus years.

Murphy, a Zen student and an accomplished writer, conducted numerous personal interviews and distilled over one hundred pithy stories. He covers Zen masters Suzuki, Maezumi, Seung Sahn, Robert Aitken, and Philip Kapleau along with earnest students Gary Snyder, Alan Watts, and Philip Whalen and others.

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violently upon Loori and began to strangle him. Gasping for breath, Loori struggled to escape, tried to push him off, but to no avail. Finally he swung back his fist and struck his teacher, knocking him aside. Maezumi rose to his feet and brushed himself off. “Resolved the question of life and death, eh?” he laughed, and walked off. Later Loori, still bearing the marks of his teacher's fingers on his throat, passed a senior monk, Genpo Sensei. On seeing the bruises, Genpo did a double take.

practice, “I was working at Greens [Zen Center's vegetarian restaurant], and it was a very chaotic situation. You'd really be pressed, getting up very early in the morning and working very hard. At the time I'd started to study the Lotus Sutra and I thought ‘studying the Lotus Sutra—now that's what I really want to be doing.’ But instead I was working very hard at the restaurant. “I was wanting to see the Lotus Sutra as this idealistic, religious thing—but the Lotus Sutra is about what is

almighty.” “After having gained some Understanding,” says Kapleau, “I knew that God is neither good nor almighty nor anything else. In fact, God isn't even God!” There is some controversy over whether Zen in particular, and Buddhism in general, qualifies as a religion. What, after all, is one to make of a tradition that refuses to conceptualize absolute reality, or hypothesize the existence of a divine force, much less a divine being? The position remains ambiguous enough that the more liberal

experience, and create a new self to replace the one we've “forgotten”—a new, “enlightened” self perhaps, who goes around dispensing wisdom or—God forbid—spouting falsely Zennish aphorisms. The ancient masters pointed to this as one of the easiest places to get stuck in practice; and they regarded this type of “stinky,” self-conscious Zen as a great embarrassment. A true Zen teacher is supposed to manifest the greatest ordinariness. When you've reached the top of the mountain, says the Zen

“Katagiri Roshi once said . . .” Goldberg, Natalie. Personal interview, Nov. 2000. Zen Story: “Changing the World.” Schelling, Andrew. Personal interview, Oct. 2000. Zen Story: “No Thought Required.” Goodman, Trudy. Personal interview, Feb. 2000. Zen Story: “New Tricks?” Boissevain, Angie. Personal interview, Spring, 2000. Zen Story: “Form Is Emptiness.” Boissevain, Angie. Personal interview, Spring, 2000. “I'm not sitting only . . .” Reported by Natalie Goldberg. Personal interview, Summer

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