using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : July 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2006 66 “Does this sound familiar?” I asked and then belted out the first line of the early morning chant that preceded putting on our rakusus. At this moment in the zendo our hands would be clasped in front of us with the lay ordination cloth on top of our heads. I saw the whole scene unfold as I chanted Dai Sai Ge Da Pu Ku in the coffee shop. “Never heard of it,” both Kenji and Tomoko shook their heads. They must have learned that head shake in England. When I shook my head No here, everyone looked at me blankly. “You’re kidding.” What had I been studying all these years? “What does it mean?” Tomoko asked. I was too disappointed to be embarrassed. “Great robe of liberation.” They both stared at me. “This coffee is delicious,” Michele quickly interjected and downed her cup. They explained where they were going to take us. All I caught was “famous temples.” I was templed out. Everyplace Michele and I went no one was meditating—just beautiful buildings, or- nate altars, highly waxed, fine wood floors. I hadn’t realized it, but what I’d come for was sixteenth-century Japan. I was looking for the descendants of Linji and Hakuin. Where were the kick- ass practitioners, like the wild Americans back in the States who were imitating the monks we thought were over here? We woke at four a.m., meditated all day, sewed robes, ate in formal style with three enamel bowls, even had miso soup for breakfast. I let Michele do the socializing as I sat looking out the car window in the backseat next to Tomoko. Michele shifted the The four of us sat at a small square table, elbow to elbow. “So how do you know English so well?” I asked. The white cups were placed in front of us. I took a sip. The black blend cut off the top of my head, hair and all. My eyes darted around the room. No tea, cookies, buns, rolls, rice cakes. Zen purity had been translated into a single-taste caffeine shop. “We lived in England for four years. I was getting a Ph.D. in philosophy,” Kenji explained. “Really? Who did you study over there?” I’d done my master’s in Western philosophy in my early twenties. But soon after I’d discovered Zen, I never thought of Bergson or Heidegger again. “Immanuel Kant.” “You’re kidding.” My mouth fell open. “I did my thesis on him. You went all the way over to Europe for Kant?” I was incredulous. “In America we want to study Dogen.” It was Kenji’s turn to be dumbstruck. “Ugh, no one understands Dogen. He’s much too difficult.” His nose crunched up. Then I let the bomb drop. “I’ve been a Zen student for over two decades.” Now Tomoko grimaced. “That’s aw- ful. No one here likes Zen.” I had suddenly become peculiar to this Japanese couple. Kenji injected, “Zen monks all die young.” I already knew, but asked, anyway, “Why?” I swallowed another gulp of cof- fee. I was never able to admit the answer through years of knee-aching, back- breaking sitting on little sleep. “The training’s too hard for a human being,” he said. My teacher had died in his early sixties. I could name several other Zen masters who had died too early. I had hoped it was the difficult shift they had made to America. The conversation slid into pleasantries. Yes, I was a writer. Yes, my first book had been translated into Japanese. Michele offered to meet them in New York the next time they visited. She described her family’s apartment in that favor- ite of cities. I was watchful for my next opportunity to gather another crumb of information, a morsel of understanding, to slip in another question about my old practice. My cup was almost empty. If I took one more sip I’d buzz out the window. I threw care to the neon lights above the en- trance and put liquid to mouth. I leaned in close. “Can I ask you a question?” They both nodded simultaneously. Michele rolled her eyes. She knew where this was going. That morning in bed I had had a realization. Maybe I did know a little Japa- nese after all. In the zendo we chanted from cards that trans- lated Japanese sounds into English syllables. A rock garden at Daitokuji Temple