American Zen - A Brief History

Discussion of Zen Buddhism.
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seigan
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by seigan » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:56 am

Is there a distinct “American Zen”? And if there is, how would you describe it?
For what it is worth, you can find the precursors to any of the forms that you see emphasised more in America in Japanese Zen. For example, the lay practice you could be compared the Ningen Zen movement/organization in Japan. For social activism, there have been many examples of individual monks who took strong social stands.

The flavor of Zen in America can't be pinned down to a single set of attributes because it is a fluid activity done by people who are also changing. Yet, the environment is different so the form adapts to the environment in some common ways.

In my not strongly held opinion, the following factors help give American Zen its flavor:
  • Large lay practices
  • Social activism
  • Little budget for "Zen" architecture like the historical temples in Japan or China - meaning much practice is utilitarian
  • Few Americans have a Buddhist studies background which many (most?) new monks have before starting their training in Japan
  • Few Americans have a knowledge of Chinese characters which makes directly accessing Chinese texts more difficult
  • Blending with other age practices is commonplace
  • Sanghas provide a social network much like a Church
  • Practice is not as physically demanding and is thus far more accessible (and this is valued)
  • More permissiveness in discipline
This all could be totally wrong, so I'm a little hesitant to be putting it out there as I'm no expert...

Honestly, I think the form of American Zen as much as I can articulate it is refreshing and I am appreciative of the American Zen ancestors who worked so hard to bring Zen across the water.

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desert_woodworker
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:04 am

Clyde,

Thanks for considering my comment.
clyde wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:15 pm
No, I didn’t miss “peculiarities” and if this is how you denote forms, then OK. And just as Ch’an and Zen have evolved over time, American Zen, in its multitudinous forms, will not remain static.
Static? Sure. But a particularly American Ch'an and Zen have not yet even begun to manifest and be nourished in a sustainable way. I think this is good!, because first we must be assured about what Ch'an or Zen IS. This requires a good number of deep practitioners and generations of native teachers. Check back (let's make a date to do so) in 150 years. All we have now is "samples". I honor the samples, but it is (...our Ch'an/Zen... ) still diverse, and not consolidated. It's good days!, these days. Early days. And good!! Those practicing with a teacher and sangha know this, and probably they have visions of a future state of affairs, here and in other Western places. I hope so... . But it's a long view we must have to envision something almost native to the new environs that Zen/Ch'an/Son/Thien may find itself in. It's still early days.

--Joe

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KeithA
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by KeithA » Thu Sep 05, 2019 1:29 am

seigan wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:56 am
Is there a distinct “American Zen”? And if there is, how would you describe it?
For what it is worth, you can find the precursors to any of the forms that you see emphasised more in America in Japanese Zen. For example, the lay practice you could be compared the Ningen Zen movement/organization in Japan. For social activism, there have been many examples of individual monks who took strong social stands.

The flavor of Zen in America can't be pinned down to a single set of attributes because it is a fluid activity done by people who are also changing. Yet, the environment is different so the form adapts to the environment in some common ways.

In my not strongly held opinion, the following factors help give American Zen its flavor:
  • Large lay practices
  • Social activism
  • Little budget for "Zen" architecture like the historical temples in Japan or China - meaning much practice is utilitarian
  • Few Americans have a Buddhist studies background which many (most?) new monks have before starting their training in Japan
  • Few Americans have a knowledge of Chinese characters which makes directly accessing Chinese texts more difficult
  • Blending with other age practices is commonplace
  • Sanghas provide a social network much like a Church
  • Practice is not as physically demanding and is thus far more accessible (and this is valued)
  • More permissiveness in discipline
This all could be totally wrong, so I'm a little hesitant to be putting it out there as I'm no expert...

Honestly, I think the form of American Zen as much as I can articulate it is refreshing and I am appreciative of the American Zen ancestors who worked so hard to bring Zen across the water.
Indian silence, Chinese Silence, Thai Silence, Korean Silence, Japanese Silence, American Silence, European Silence - same or different?

Having said that, what has been put forward here is pretty much my own experience, for better or worse.

_/|\_
Keith
You make, you get.

New Haven Zen Center

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lindama
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by lindama » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:45 am

150 years from now... :112: we'll all be dead. as far as I know, zen has nothing to do with the future. There is nothing to achieve, there never was and there never will be. who would say so?

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fuki
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by fuki » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:00 am

lindama wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:45 am
150 years from now... :112: we'll all be dead. as far as I know, zen has nothing to do with the future. There is nothing to achieve, there never was and there never will be. who would say so?
:hatsoff:

Thanks Linda, yes all talk about time comes from the illusion of an individual entity, much ado about nothing...
ps I'm sure 150 years from now "Americans" still narcissisistically love to talk about them-selves and their "role in the world"
:P
[SPOILER]
thanks to WWII I guess
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Spike
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by Spike » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:55 am

If Tumpism is the new American role, in 150 years all the talk/ads will probably be about the "beautiful" real estate developments in Russia and along the North Korean coast. That is, if the 'Fake News Media' is allowed to report it (or is even still around).
Meido Moore's monastery and contact info:
www.korinji.org

Genjo Marinello's temple and contact info:
https://choboji.org/

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lindama
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by lindama » Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:59 pm

fuki wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:00 am
lindama wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:45 am
150 years from now... :112: we'll all be dead. as far as I know, zen has nothing to do with the future. There is nothing to achieve, there never was and there never will be. who would say so?
:hatsoff:

Thanks Linda, yes all talk about time comes from the illusion of an individual entity, much ado about nothing...
ps I'm sure 150 years from now "Americans" still narcissisistically love to talk about them-selves and their "role in the world"
:P
[SPOILER]
thanks to WWII I guess
I can only hope you are wrong Fuki... ofc, I'm coming from illusion of time and national entity. The empire is showing many signs of failure as they all do. we may see our just deserts (karma), we've earned it, sadly. Fake news is a grand distraction with it's own religion. :558:

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fuki
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by fuki » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:42 pm

lindama wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:59 pm

I can only hope you are wrong Fuki... ofc, I'm coming from illusion of time and national entity. The empire is showing many signs of failure as they all do. we may see our just deserts (karma), we've earned it, sadly. Fake news is a grand distraction with it's own religion. :558:
Yet how few investigate the fake news of "I am a body-mind, I was born, I will die etc"
We are 'all' creations of fake news, seperation causes the three poisons, all aggression, violence all darkness and deserts, who is responsible for the darkness in a room? Open the door and all that remains is light, there never was no darkness to begin with. The state of human/earth/multiverse affairs it's all us, really no one in particular is to blame. So who will set it right? This is sadhana (practise) :115:
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
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fuki
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by fuki » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:48 pm

Spike wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:55 am
If Tumpism is the new American role, in 150 years all the talk/ads will probably be about the "beautiful" real estate developments in Russia and along the North Korean coast. That is, if the 'Fake News Media' is allowed to report it (or is even still around).
Nah Trumpism is merely a temporary manifestation of our collective psyche/poison, new people will appear, like good cop/bad cop thingy, (or lesser of two evil cops)
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

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Spike
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by Spike » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:32 pm

fuki wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:48 pm
Spike wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:55 am
If Tumpism is the new American role, in 150 years all the talk/ads will probably be about the "beautiful" real estate developments in Russia and along the North Korean coast. That is, if the 'Fake News Media' is allowed to report it (or is even still around).
Nah Trumpism is merely a temporary manifestation of our collective psyche/poison . . .
Hopefully!
fuki wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:48 pm
. . . new people will appear, like good cop/bad cop thingy, (or lesser of two evil cops)
"All indicators, indeed, show that the Dutch population rank among the lowest in authoritarian attitudes, and The Netherlands among the lowest in state authoritarianism, together with the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Canada and New Zealand."
-Meleon, Jos.: Authoritarianism in The Netherlands: Mission Completed?

There is a basis for your optimism. But socially and politically the USA may be different. The court system here has been badly co-opted by a slew of Trumpist judge lifetime appointments, which will hamstring progressivism for decades. And white nationalism, popular with some disaffected white men, including many youths, may not just fade away. A byproduct is no world leadership pushback against (other) tyrants or would-be tyrants, as we can see with NK and Russia (even when one messes with our elections!).

Hopefully, a sane immigration policy leading to a majority diverse population can help this situation with new citizens' democratic votes.
Meido Moore's monastery and contact info:
www.korinji.org

Genjo Marinello's temple and contact info:
https://choboji.org/

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fuki
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by fuki » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:08 am

Spike wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:32 pm

There is a basis for your optimism. But socially and politically the USA may be different.
I'm aware of the differences, the point offered was that its global/collective, not very long ago Dutchies were all about war, white supremacy, genocide etc etc you name it, whatever is subject to change will change, so the "USA" will be like "Dutchies" and vice versa, politically/socially etc, but taking the vicious animal aka humans as a collective not much has changed, only the appearance of societies, but "inside" most humans are capable of the worst atrocities when opportunity is there or conditions meet. (so much for 'optimism') ofcourse with the current state of affairs we might not have a planet to keep this cycle of change up (evil government/lesser of two evil governments) but the human situation is not different then what it was thousands of years ago and unless there's a collective shift in consciousness will not be much different in the future (or what we think the future is)
Some countries might appear more poisonous then others, but "beneath appearances" we're (almost) all ready to be "Trumpistists" here too, when conditions are "right" for it, this applies to psychotic politicians as well as ordinary civilians. When the Endlösung der Judenfrage (final solution) was announced, so called "good everyday/common Joe citizens" were happy to start murdering their jew neighbours, helping the nazi deathsquads all over Europe (but mostly east-europe) at any point almost every human is capable of atrocities. A few hundred years ago Dutchies were masters of invading countries, slavery, genocide, rape, torture, you name it. What we seem today is just appearances.
[SPOILER]
ps a "bodhisattva" pigeon appeared here yesterday, though there are fine humans too ;)
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lindama
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by lindama » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:33 am

well, golly gee.... this is a brief history of American Zen if I ever heard one. It's all a maybe, the best place to be in zen. If you ask me, the US, socially and politically, has not changed in 300 yrs... it's just a whole lot more obvious.... and not much new in the history of human atrocities. The Apple Pie is, for the moment, rotten to the core. The smooth speakers, who are generally admired, are not a whole lot diff from the demonized DT, if we look closely. It's just that the scab has been scratched and all the pus is spurting out, big time. It's the best ... an opening for self-reflection. it could happen that the pus will further infect, and the patient will have a deadly fever before it recovers. It's also most important to recognize that the disease goes farther than the patient. In the whole wide world, millions have been killed as a result of our hegemony. God help us all.

This is not to be conflated with the goodness of people, the generosity, hard work, wish for peace, prosperity and humor that is also here. The Wizard of OZ is an appearance calling us to grow up. There is no Wizard, there is no Witch.....

American zen can lend a hand to those close to us in need when the confusion, fear and uncertainty happen. Sure, it is all appearances, yet my friend still hurts. We can greet it with an open heart and a spirit of DO NO HARM. There is no finer reason to practice.... no one is needed to certify anything. American zen has gone past the personal... it's time to get it... we're not doing this for our benefit any longer. Buckle up kids.

As Joe would say: it's turtles all the way down. :111:

:115:
Last edited by lindama on Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

Spike
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Re: American Zen - A Brief History

Post by Spike » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:50 am

fuki wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:08 am
Spike wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:32 pm
There is a basis for your optimism. But socially and politically the USA may be different.
I'm aware of the differences, the point offered was that its global/collective, not very long ago Dutchies were all about war, white supremacy, genocide etc etc you name it . . .
I'm glad that things have changed for you and your countrymen . . .
fuki wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:08 am
A few hundred years ago Dutchies were masters of invading countries, slavery, genocide, rape, torture, you name it. What we seem today is just appearances.
I don''t know about Dutchy appearances, fuk-i, at least in your case. Well, maybe some of your darker musical interests might reflect a certain hidden atavism?

:D
Meido Moore's monastery and contact info:
www.korinji.org

Genjo Marinello's temple and contact info:
https://choboji.org/

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