[Buddha-l] liturgical languages

Dan Lusthaus dlusthau at mailer.fsu.edu
Sat May 7 09:53:20 MDT 2005

Stuart wrote:

>I think it is a big mistake to impute
> only positive or  the best of possible explanations/spin when we are
> 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-

I agree with this, and wasn't exactly whitewashing Kapleau. The motivations
I speculatively suggested -- "embarrassment, self-protection, or nobility" -
and those would not be an exhaustive list of possibilities -- are not
whitewash, enlightened attributes (even the third wouldn't necessarily have
enlightenment as a prerequisite, though it would be more in concert with
what we imagine an enlightened attitude would be). I think he went through
some messy internal conflicts, but basically chose to address it in the
public sphere in a fairly noble way: relative silence, and avoiding ad
hominems. Clamoring for copies of Yasutani's letter seems, to me, salacious.

> 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
> 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.

So embarrassment and self-protection were not that far off the mark. My
sense is that things were more complicated still, but to say how would
invite/require more speculation.

Dan Lusthaus

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