“According to D.T. Suzuki, one of the most influential Zen Buddhist teachers of the 20th century, Zen is not a system of philosophy, religion, mysticism, nihilism, or even Buddhism. He says, “Zen has nothing to teach us in the way of intellectual analysis; nor has it any set doctrines which are imposed on its followers for acceptance.” Then what is Zen? More importantly, what led D.T. Suzuki to teach Zen Buddhism in this way? This course will start by reading a number of popular books on Zen Buddhism in America, followed by a close analysis of their tenets. We will then move on to study Mahayana Buddhist philosophy and Daoist thought, which influenced the rise of Zen Buddhism. We will also explore Koan and Zazen meditation practices, Zen lineage, monasticism and Satori (Enlightenment) experience. Finally, the course will focus on late 19th and early 20th century Japanese Buddhist history, which is intimately tied to a particular interpretation of Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki and other modern Zen masters in America.”
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
If you awaken from this illusion, and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death — or shall I say, death implies life — you can conceive yourself. Not conceive, but feel yourself, not as a stranger in the world, not as someone here on sufferance, on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke, but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental. What you are basically, deep, deep down, far, far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself. So, say in Hindu mythology, they say that the world is the drama of God. God is not something in Hindu mythology with a white beard that sits on a throne, that has royal perogatives. God in Indian mythology is the self, Satcitananda. Which means sat, that which is, chit, that which is consciousness; that which is ananda is bliss. In other words, what exists, reality itself is gorgeous, it is the fullness of total joy.
There may be an intellectual element in Zen, for Zen is the whole mind, and in it we find a great many things; but the mind is not a composite thing that is to be divided into so many faculties, leaving behind nothing behind when the dissection is over. Zen has nothing to teach us in the way of intellectual analysis; nor has it any set doctrines which are imposed on its followers for acceptance. In this respect Zen is quite chaotic if you choose to say so. […] If I am asked, then, what Zen teaches, I would answer, Zen teaches nothing. Whatever teachings there are in Zen, they come out of one own’s mind. We teach ourselves; Zen merely points the way.