[Buddha-l] liturgical languages

Stuart Lachs slachs at worldnet.att.net
Thu May 5 20:17:48 MDT 2005

Dan wrote:

> Here we only have the speculations -- not the actual details. Again,
> probably just call this spin, but my sense is that part of Kapleau's
> reticence to publicly air the details possibly stemmed from a desire to
> avoid degenerating to an ad hominem attack on Yasutani (the same can't be
> said for the other side). Whether that reticence was purely noble (being
> above all that), or emanated from a more complicated inner ambivalence -- 
> not wanting to undermine the validity of his own transmission, not wanting
> to get into the name calling that would also call into doubt his initial
> judgements about Yasutani, etc. -- is another matter. Whether out of
> embarrassment, self-protection, or nobility, he probably did the right
> staying quiet rather than feeding our useless curiosities, and letting the
> relatively mild rumors have their day.

You are correct Dan, I call it "spin." I think it is a big mistake to impute
only positive or  the best of possible explanations/spin when we are talking
about Zen masters/roshi. The tradition does that for us already! In doing
so, it tells its followers that everything the roshi does is enlightened
behavior, if only you can see it.  We need to keep a critical eye- a bit of
Harry Truman's, "I'm from Missouri, show me" attitude.

You wrote above, "not wanting to undermine the validity of his own
Kapleau had NO TRANSMISSION from Yasutani or any one else.  He was given
permission to teach beginners but not to do formal dokusan [see below]. He
was given permission to teach some thing in some way, again not clear. But
he was never given [Dharma] transmission whatever that may or may not mean.
I personally don't think it means that much or anything at all, but that is
another story.
I wrote:
> >" Kapleau could have cleared up much of the speculation as to the why of
> their
> > break, if he had shown the letter that Yasutani sent him ending the
> > relation. He chose not to."
Dan wrote:
>" I speculated on some possible reasons above."

The other night I contacted an old friend, Hugh Curran who happened to be
Kapleau's head monk for some time before and after the break up with
Yasutani. I asked him about the matter with Shimano mentioned in the
Yamada/Kapleau letter exchange of 1986.

He replied that it was more complicated. He said that Kapleau and Shimano
did not get on because Shimano had publicly insulted Kapleau earlier. He
added that Kapleau was not experienced at running a zendo, that Yasutani did
not like the way he did it. Yasutani publicly corrected him a number of
times during the last seshin. Whatever one may say about Shimano, he has
some flair when it comes to running a zendo. Yasutani also wanted Kapleau to
come down to NYC and take part in the sesshins their to do more koan work in
the hope of finishing his training. Now according to Hugh , Kapleau did not
want to go to NYC to do sesshin at Shimano's
Zen Studies Society because he did not want to be publicly insulted again by
Shimano and perhaps Yasutani and he did not want to be seen as a student
under both Shimano and Yasutani in front of some of his students who would
also be attending sesshin in NYC.  At anyrate, the last sesshin had a funny
atmosphere with Yasutani correcting Kapleau both in the zendo and during his
translating for others in dokusan.
By the end of the sesshin, Kapleau kind of knew that things were pretty much
over between him and Yasutani. Kapleau sent Hugh out to get a small gift for
Yasutani, an inexpensive jar of strawberry jam.
Hugh mentioned that after the break-up Kapleau started stressing that the
important thing was what the students thought of the teacher. Interestingly,
Kapleau took the title roshi shorly after Richard Baker  received the title
from Shunryu Suzuki at the San Francisco Zen Center.
I would add that Hugh was the person closest to Kapleau at the time. Hugh
says Kapleau discussed the Yasutani issue with him much.

> > I think the topic of antisemiticism is interesting and very important,
> > however I do not think Buddha-L is the place to continue this.
> When it's coming out of the mouths of high profile Buddhists, it is. But I
> think we've already said what needs to be said for now.

Agreed. I meant that Buddha-L was not the place to discuss antisemiticism in
theory or the many ramifications of it in the world at large. When a high
profile Buddhist speaks this way, it should definitely be pointed out and
dealt with.

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