Kyoto Journal Issue 32
Shakuhachi: Orthodoxy and Heresy
Geisha, Kouta and Karaoke
Souls: Portraits by Lisa Mahoney
Boycott Campaigns in Burma
The Social Life of Japanese Architecture
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The oversight of the first wave of Western Zen and East-West culture enthusiasts in the 1950s and Sixties was its neglect of the basic Asian example by which Self-realization is achieved: Practice. Practice means following a regular path. A true path is learned only sketchily from books; it requires a teacher. Acquiring mastery ourselves involves acquiescing to the example of one knowledgeable in the path we wish to tread. In agreeing to follow the teacher’s example we offer our tacit approval of the means of instruction he or she employs. In essence, we submit.
Submission is problematic for Westerners. It is hard to call another “Master.” The West is a highly individualistic civilization; from our early years we are educated to cherish the Self and not to surrender it on pain of annihilation. Spiritual submission though does not involve “surrender.” We can view it as an alchemical reaction in the way that clay submits to the potter in order to become an urn, or that gold submits to the forge to emerge as a chalice.
The most comic part of the process is the discovery of how effortless the correct path really is. Hard work we go through to achieve what is really only a small and simple reward! Enlightenment after all is no big thing: the real challenge as three thousand years of mystics remind us lies in simple everyday living. The reward, however, is astonishing: The Great Jewel of Thanks.
On Mastery – Trevor Carolan
Peace or war? This is really the ongoing dilemma that has persisted throughout the entire history of humanity. Across the centuries, throughout the unlimited development of literature, millions of pages have been dedicated to the subject of peace, to the vital necessity of its defense. People have always understood that, as Lord Byron said, “War endangers both the roots and the crown.” But at the same time wars have continued unchecked. In most cases, when disputes and conflicts arise, reasonable arguments have receded in the face of arguments favoring brute force. Furthermore, the legal norms elaborated in the past and still existing until recent times considered war to be the legal way to do politics.
An Initiative Full of Life –
I have lived the past twenty-four years of my life as a federal prisoner with the Bureau of Prisons’ number 35316-136 appended to my name. For those of you who have never been inside a maximum security penitentiary, it might be difficult, if not impossible, to imagine it as a place where the plaintive sounds of shakuhachi can be heard. Ah! But it is true.
Healing Meditation with Shakuhachi –
Peace and its Discontents, by Edward Said — Philip Grant
The Book of Happiness, by Bo Yin Ra — John Koerner
Cover Image by Don Ed Hardy
published June 4, 1996
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