Gerry Shishen Wick, Roshi is a dual-lineage holder of both the Soto and Rinzai schools of Zen.
He explains that the koan system includes many different kinds of koans, each with different purposes. Roshi: Yes, his Soto lineage comes through his father, Baian Hakujun Kuroda and he trained with him and went through the traditional Soto protocols and training and then while he was a university student he lived at a dojo of Koryu Osaka Roshi who he was a lay Rinzai teacher and he did Koans with him. And during that time there were some Japanese teachers and most notably Harada-Yasutani Roshi who came to this country.
Then, in the Rinzai tradition there is a curriculum, or we call them upayas, or skillful means…which are called Koans.
And then there is a whole series of Koans, depending upon which lineage one is in when you finish them usually the teacher will feel that you are prepared to be an independent teacher. Roshi: Okay, and so that is where you just totally put all of your energy into just being present without focusing on anything in particular.
Vince: Gotcha, and so, you do basically, in your teaching, all of these different kinds of practices? Vince: So it sounds like if the reasons are constantly changing then as a teacher your methods or your suggestions are probably changing as well? Vince: And you mentioned before the interview started, that your teacher had actually encouraged you in some ways to make Zen its own here in the West.
Vince: Something we will get into a little later is that something that you are developing called The Great Heart Way. Vince: And one of the things I was surprised to learn when I was in your class and learning about the Zen Koan system is that it actually is a system.
My teacher, Maezumi Roshi would comment to me that it was like being in a dark cave, and even the glow from a tip of a stick of incense is enough to see something. Now, what you are alluding to, Vince, from the class, is that there are different kinds of Koans. Roshi: Yeah, and there is a hundred Koans that have to do with the relationship between the relative and the absolute.
Roshi: Yeah, they might have discussion groups about it or something like that and now a Rinzai teacher, or a Rinzai Zen master would just kind of roll his eyes when he hears something like that.
Vem ao Rio dar um retiro de meditacao, de 17 a 19 de abril, o monge da linhagem do budismo tibetano Segyu Rinpoche, numa casa no Alto da Boa Vista.
Nos EUA, o monge carioca teve como um dos seus seguidores mais conhecidos, entre artistas e executivos, Steve Jobs, a quem acompanhou nos momentos finais da sua vida – assistencia que ele costuma dar a seus pacientes terminais. Um grupo de empresarios e amigos cariocas esta terminando as obras num imovel, no Jardim Botanico, que vai servir de centro de meditacao do monge – mas a grande vontade de Segyu e construir, tambem, uma clinica no Rio.
Fechado desde junho do ano passado, o Cine Odeon vai reabrir, em maio, como Centro Cultural Luiz Severiano Ribeiro.
Em parceria com a PUC e outras universidades, vao ser oferecidos cursos para formacao de cineastas. Depois do Iberico, de Jan Santos, primeiro restaurante sustentavel do Rio, o chef Pedro Siqueira abre seu restaurante, tambem no Jardim Botanico e da mesma maneira com preocupacoes ecologicas.
Pedro passou por restaurantes como o Dom, de Alex Atala, o Fasano Al Mare, onde foi subchef de Luca Gozzani, e o Taillevent, restaurante tres estrelas Michelin, em Paris. A Expoarte – Feira Internacional de Artesanato chega a praca de eventos do Shopping Tijuca, sabado. Lu Lacerda, jornalista, pesquisadora, fotografa, ama a terra, ama o mar, ama o sol, ama homem, ama comer, ama beber, ama o Rio, com os pes no Sertao e a cabeca no mundo. Com consultorio novo na Barra, no Americas Medical City, o cirurgiao plastico Luiz Haroldo Pereira esta tambem operando na unidade do Samaritano desse mesmo complexo medico. The monks of the Shaolin temple, which is the world of Zen and martial arts, regard kung fu training as practice of Buddhism. His teacher Maezumi Roshi passed along both lineages, and so we take this unique opportunity to ask Roshi to compare these two different approaches.
Some are meant to reveal the oneness of reality, while others are point to the multiplicity within that oneness. He is the Abbot of the Great Mountain Zen Center in Lafayette Colorado, which is just a few miles down the road from Boulder. And then Maezumi Roshi came to the United States in the mid-50s but he was part of what they called the Japanese Soto Zen mission, which was the Soto temple and Japanese community center in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. And these are the Upayas, or the skillful techniques or skillful means that came to us from Japan, and the Japanese Zen tradition.
And at our center we have developed meditative practices that deal with negative habit patterns, emotions, and using meditation on how to bring them into the conscious mind and transform them. It fits in nicely with this series of different approaches that the Maezumi Roshi’s students have taken. It’s called Buddha Mind or Big Self or all kinds of names that we have for it and Koans are a very effective way of doing it. In the tradition that I studied with Maezumi Roshi, there are 700 Koans that we studied together. I mean a transmission means that when the teacher decides to give transmission to a student he feels that the student has the same understanding and that they see eye to eye…face to face. But, there are strengths and weaknesses in both traditions and that’s what Yasutani Roshi and Maezumi Roshi tried to do is bring the strength of both traditions together.

Com a saida da administracao do espaco do Grupo Estacao e sem o patrocinio da Petrobras, o Grupo Severiano Ribeiro vai manter a sala de exibicao, que esta passando por uma grande reforma. O Cine Odeon, inaugurado em 1926, e a principal sala usada para pre-estreias na cidade e sede da abertura do Festival do Rio. E tambem esta tendo uma mostra dos cineastas Nicolas Philibert e Rithy Panh na Cinemateca do MAM, de sexta a domingo, ate o dia 29 de marco. O Puro, que comeca a funcionar na proxima semana, vai ter produtos comprados de fornecedores locais, de no maximo 200km de distancia, o que ajuda no controle da emissao de carbono – distancias mais curtas, menos deslocamento no transito.
Na cozinha aparente, ele promete preparar pratos contemporaneos, com influencia caseira e que valorizem a gastronomia brasileira. No mix de pecas estao brincos, aneis, colares, pulseiras e braceletes em prata950 e em ouro 18k. He talks about shikantaza (Just Sitting) and also about koan practice–sometimes referred to as logical paradoxes. And he’s also a faculty member at Naropa, where I took Zen Buddhism with him a few years ago and he teaches that each year. But he was looking for practitioners…people who would sit meditation with him, and the Japanese community was more into ceremonial activities and social activities and eventually he broke away and formed a small zendo with some western students. And if you are too loose and not paying attention you know you are going to spill it as well. So, I wanted to get back into Koans, because this is something that we haven’t really talked much about on the show.
And, the initial Koan is the most difficult one because that is the one where you have to open up your eye of wisdom and begin to see what we call the mysterious source of all things. And then the final hundred Koans have to do with the precepts, which are the ethical and moral teachings of Zen.
And you wrote a book a few years ago called The Book of Equanimity and it looked at a hundred of these Koans that I guess were traditionally found in the Soto school and I as wondering if you could say a little bit about those and how they fit in.
In about the 10th century of the Christian era various masters collected these Koans together and used them as teaching devices for their students. Ele vive ha muitos anos na California (EUA), onde tem uma clinica, em Redwood City, e esta construindo outra em Sao Francisco.
Nao se sabe ainda se a programacao da sala sera comercial ou dedicada ao chamado cinema de arte. Alem disso, o projeto arquitetonico valoriza muito a iluminacao natural – um dos destaques da casa e a vista do Cristo Redentor. Com dez artesaos de diferentes paises, como India, Paquistao, Russia, Chile, Italia, Turquia, Bolivia e Brasil, a exposicao tem entrada franca e traz produtos a partir de R$ 10. Vai ter, tambem, sessoes no Planetario Inflavel e a Observacao do Sol,  nos dois dias de evento, das 10h as 12h e das 14h as 16h. And finally he’s a lineage holder of Maezumi Roshi and the president of the White Plum Sangha which is a group of his lineage holders and you may have heard of a few of them. Yasutani Roshi’s teacher, Harada Roshi is the first one to merge the Rinzai and Soto traditions.
Like in the practice that we do in Zen is called zazen and za is sitting …sitting zen, and zen actually means meditation. So, you have to find that just that right balance, like finely tuning a string on a violin or a guitar.
And that is one of the strengths of Buddhism, that no matter what country it moves to, It can adapt itself to the personality and to the other traditions that already exist in that country. And the way I think about it, is that we are looking at this reality which is like a big jewel, and when you have your first opening you begin to see the nature of that jewel. I mentioned already the Mumon Koans or the gateless gate, which is used very frequently, that collection. So Harada Roshi and Yasutani Roshi were Soto priests who studied with Rinzai teachers and developed the Rinzai practices.
We have a phrase which is used in many traditions – monkey mind, where the mind just jumps around after one thought and then another thought, whatever is bright and shiny they go after. A Koan that you might relate to is “what is your original face before your parents were born”?
But then that intensity comes about, where, Yasutani Roshi said, walking behind you is a soldier with a drawn sword, and if you spill a drop, he’s going to cut off your head. For example, Zen Buddhism arose in China about a 1,000 years after the death of the Buddha.
Some of the prominent ones are Genpo Roshi, who developed his own style of Big Mind, and Bernie Glassman has developed the Zen Peacemaker Order, and of course Daido Loori is also a dharma brother, and he developed The Zen Mountain Monastery, which is more traditional but he brings the arts in very strongly to it. Although at the beginning you receive the precepts, but the formal study of them is at the end. Sao atendimentos de 50 minutos, para verificar como estao se organizando as tres forcas que regem a saude (ar, bile e fleuma), com prescricao de tratamento, que pode ser um medicamento, moxabustao, dieta, massagem kum nye, energizacao por imposicao de maos, mantas ou visualizacao de cores. That’s the history, and so Maezumi Roshi was also a successor in that hybrid tradition and he was a successor in pure Soto and pure Rinzai. And, first thing is to learn how to sit still and quiet the mind so that we don’t keep distracting ourselves and constantly amusing ourselves by doing things that take us away from the present moment.
And in the Three Pillars of Zen, Yasutani Roshi gave a transcription of these talks that he gives.

And it evolved through a combination of the Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Chinese Daoism with a sprinkling of Confucianism in there as well. And of course Joko Beck who has the Ordinary Mind School, which has focused a lot upon emotional aspects of practice.
About 1,000 years in the Rinzai Zen tradition as the first Koan and it is the first case in a collection called the Muman Koan, which means the gateless gate or the barrierless barrier. And clearly delineate what the facets are but some of the Koans will drive you very much deeper into your opening in your awareness. And there is another collection called The Book of Equanimity which came out about the same time.
Essentially he talks about how the personality of the student determines what practice is assigned to them.
So, in this country, and in the west…I’ll say not just necessarily this country, there are new Upayas and what they revolve around is the particular characteristics of the American psyche and the people who are practicing.
And what we mean is “live words” as opposed to “dead words.” So, live words are words that come directly from your experience. And The Blue Cliff Records was compiled by a Rinzai teacher and The Book of Equanimity was compiled by a Soto teacher.
And the Koan the way people usually report it is “what is the sound of one hand clapping”? For example, there are a lot more women practicing in this country and the traditions that came to this country from Japan and from the Southeast Asia or Tibet, and China are very patriarchal, and women have an inferior position and that is not particularly true in this country and it’s changing very quickly. I mean there is a whole class of Koans, which are called Nanto Koans which means difficult to pass through. I don’t think at that time that there were such big differences between the two traditions. And the clapping is not part of the original Koan but it has been added in order to make it more rational or logical or so people can wrap their heads around it.
I mean If a student has, or is primarily motivated by faith in that practice, then Shikantaza is appropriate practice for them.
Having been teaching Koans now for about 20 years, I can see that certain Koans are hard for almost everybody, but some students breeze through Koans that other students get stuck on for months. And Soen Nakagawa is one of those Japanese teachers who came to this country and left a legacy here.
And those are Koans that quite often my teacher would be really demanding on and one of the Koans is from a Chinese teacher named Nansen. Now, interesting thing is that I did a count and about a third of the Koans overlap between the two collections. But the purpose of Koans is to drive the student out of the logical, rational mode in order to penetrate into their intuitive being, and to see these Koans. But if they are motivated by a strong aspiration or determination to be enlightened, then Koans are more appropriate. They are not monks, they are not monastics…you know so there have to be Upayas for householders. So, the Koan is to take mu and get in touch and not just get in touch with but actually reveal your inherent buddha nature, your inherent unconditioned self. And the story that I heard was that he was visited by a biblical scholar and they were having tea. And if somebody is coming just to relax themselves, to get the health benefits and so forth, then just counting or following the breath would be an appropriate practice. And then the other thing is that Americans are always interested in their psychological well-being. So, students will sit with that Koan and we direct them in private interviews how to work with it, and students have varying degrees of openings on these first Koans. And Soen Roshi asked him, “what were the last words that Christ uttered on the cross”? However, the way that they are interpreted sometimes is different between the two compiled.
And the first basis is to see the essential impermanence or we use the word emptiness of all things and then coming from that place how you can relate to these Koans.
But the reasons that bring people to practice whether it is Zen or any other form of contemplative practice…it doesn’t necessarily have to be Buddhism…the reasons that bring them to practice are not the reasons why they continue to do it.
The collection although it was collected by a master in the Soto lineage, The Book of Equanimity, they are treated as Koans in the Rinzai, some Rinzai schools, and the Soto school studied them, but more as liturgy, rather than as Koans. And so the biblical scholar was getting a bit annoyed and finally, he said, “okay, you seem to know. And Soen Roshi jumped up and threw his arms out like in a crucifix, and said, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME”? And Soen Roshi WAS Christ on the cross, whereas the scholar was talking about Christ on the cross, and that is what we mean when we present Koans, it has to come from your experience. From listening, from singing, from to going to the bathroom, from cleaning yourself, and you know, and how we just really don’t pay attention to what we are doing.

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