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Zen MiraclesFinding Peace in an Insane WorldBrenda Shoshanna, Ph.D.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Zen MiraclesFinding Peace in an Insane WorldBrenda Shoshanna, Ph.D.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Copyright 2002 by Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D. All rights reserved Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York Published simultaneously in Canada The author and publisher gratefully acknowledge the following sources for their permission to include copyrighted material: from The Kabir Book by Robert Bly, 1971, 1977 by Robert Bly, 1977 by the Seventies Press, reprinted with permission of Beacon Press, Boston; from Tao of Zen by Ray Grigg, reprinted with permission of Charles E. Tuttle Co., Boston, Mass. and Tokyo, Japan; from Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh by Thich Nhat Hanh, reprinted with permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, Calif. 1999; from The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kaplean, reprinted with permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House; from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, 1994 by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, www.shambhala.com; from Delicious Laughter by Jelaluddin Rumi, reprinted with permission of Maypop Books 1990; from Two Zen Classics by Katsuki Sekida, reprinted with permission of Weatherhill Publishers 1977. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 7508400, fax (978) 7504744. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 101580012, (212) 8506011, fax (212) 8506008, e-mail: PERMREQ@WILEY.COM. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Shoshanna, Brenda. Zen miracles : nding peace in an insane world / Brenda Shoshanna. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-471-41481-6 1. Peace of mindReligious aspectsZen Buddhism. 2. MeditationZen Buddhism. I. Title. BQ9265.4 .S48 2002 294.3444dc21 Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
This book is dedicated to the Innite One whose great miracle allowed me to meet this teaching, to practice, and to make an offering of what I have begun to learn.
Acknowledge Him in all your ways, And He will direct the steps of your feet. the Torah
ContentsAcknowledgments Special Thanks Introduction xi xiii 1
part one Getting Started1. 2. 3. 4. 5. What Is Zen? How to Do It Welcome to the World of Koans Peeling Onions Day by Day Doing Nothing 9 17 29 37 47
part two Cravings and Compulsions6. 7. 8. 9. Quieting the Monkey Mind Loneliness and Separation Feeding the Hungry Heart Ambition: Taming the Violent Mind 57 75 85 97
part three Letting Go10. Grasping and Holding On 11. Empty Hands 12. Pilgrimage 117 131 141ix
part four Dissolving the False Self13. 14. 15. 16. Putting Toys Away When Medicine Turns to Poison The True Man of No Rank The Zen Fisherman 151 161 171 187
part five Zen, God, and Enlightenment17. Walking Through the Gateless Gate 18. Zen and God Zen Cautions Zen Miracle Commandments Bibliography Index 199 217 221 223 225 227
AcknowledgmentsTo the lively, courageous spirit of my original teachers, Soen Nakagawa Roshi and Eido Roshi, and to my grandfather, Reb Moshe Yitzchak Snitofsky, who loved God so much his entire life turned into a song.
SPECIAL THANKSFirst and foremost let me acknowledge my outstanding agent, Noah Lukeman, without whose continuous support, effort, and inspiration this book would never have been written. I also wish to especially thank my ne editor, Tom Miller, whose enthusiasm, guidance, and excellent direction helped make the book what it is. Without the tireless efforts of my teachers, I would never have been able to put these words on paper, or to have the smallest taste of practice. I wish to acknowledge and thank my teachers, Soen Roshi, Eido Roshi, and Joko Charlotte Beck, without whom my practice would never be what it is. Many beautiful dharma friends have guided, encouraged, and deeply inspired me, and continue to do sorst, with particular thanks for their outstanding support, Jeffrey Azbell, Daniel Myerson, Carolyn Stark, Fran Perillo, Fay Tabakman, and William Solomon. I also thank Yoshi Amakawa, Kuju, Sara Birnbaum, Seppo, Ed Ferrey, Peter Gamby, Chinshu Scott Young, Wado, Vicky Gerdy, Bompo, Haskell Fleishaker, Yayoi, Karen Matsumoto, Katsuro, Anthony McKiernen, Kushu, Master Min Pai, Kanzan, Bruce Rickenbacker, Dogo, Don Scanlon, Enyo, Carolyn Stark, Kyoshin, and Jacques Van Engel. With loving appreciation I also offer deep thanks for the wisdom and inspiration received from Rabbi Ephraim Wolf and the Lubovitcher Rebbe. For all of this I am immensely grateful. Last, but not least of all, without my wonderful family and their continual love, it would have been impossible to even dream of embarking upon such a project. Great thanks to all of them, Gerry, Leah, Melissa and Abram, Joshua and Yana, Adam, Taisan, Zoe, Remy, and the amazing Jacob Benjamin.
IntroductionA young shoot has borne Beautiful flowers Growing upon an aged plum tree
We all want life to be miraculous, and it is. We pray for miracles, seek miracles, listen to stories about miracles, and think miracles will happen someday in the future, or happened thousands of years ago. So few realize that the great miracle is happening in our lives, right now. Zen is simply the practice of waking up so we can see the miracle, give thanks, and live with it wholeheartedly. The practice of Zen has befuddled and fascinated people throughout time. A true description of what it is cannot be given in words. In Zen, we say as soon as you speak, you are far from the mark. According to an ancient Zen saying, Wash out your mouth before you speak about Zen. Words limit, cheapen, and distort understanding. And yet, remaining silent will not do, either. This itself is a koana Zen riddleor challenge for us. Zen descends from a monastic tradition. It has traveled through many nations and cultures, and now is being brought to this country, where it is greatly needed. We must learn to integrate it, along with its ancient traditions, into our culture and our everyday lives. I was raised in a Hasidic Jewish environment, in Borough Park, Brooklyn, yet in a family where each person strongly held a different point of view. I was fascinated by koans (which Ill explain later) right from the start, though I did not call them that. A longing for God, mixed with confusion, conflict, and divided loyalties besieged me. Then, one day, at the age of fifteen, hav1
ing been ripped out of Yeshiva and now attending public high school, a strange thing happened. A history teacher came over and gave me a gift wrapped in a brown paper bag. Dont tell anyone about this, he said secretively. Its perfect for you and I know it. I had no idea what it was. I went home and undid the package. Inside was a book by D. T. Suzuki on Zen. I opened the pages, began to read, and was filled with inexplicable joy. I read one koan after another, had no idea what they meant, but knew that this could finally lead me to exactly what Id been yearning for. I held on to that book for many years, taking it wherever I went, and reading it over and over again. When friends asked what it meant, I couldnt say. I only felt strongly that this was a passageway to the truth. For many years I did not realize that there was a specific practice of Zen. I also had no idea where I would ever find a teacher. At times I would ask friends if they thought I would have to go to Japan to find a teacher. A particularly kind and wise friend, Gerry, used to tell me, Nope, I think hell just arrive one day by himself. About seventeen years after that, it happened. I found a teacher, a place to practice, and was instructed in zazen, or sitting meditation. Day by day, a whole new life opened up, including powerful memories and longings of childhood. Sitting on the cushion was not an escape from anything, nor was it, for me, the acceptance of a new religion. It was practice, practice, practice. It made me tackle all parts of my life, including my own connection to God and my heritage, which grew deeper and more vivid each day as I sat. It also forced me to look differently at my psychological practice, my patients, marriage, childrenevery part of my life. Conventional wisdom has a saying, You cannot return home again. Zen practice disagrees. Each time we sit, we return home. Eventually, some of us may also have to actually return to the streets and the background we came from, bringing along what we found. Zen Miracles is an attempt to digest my experience as a Westerner, a practicing psychologist, a therapist, a mother, and a
householder with Zen, and to offer whatever I may have learned to whomever it may be helpful. Having worked as a psychologist and therapist for over