Introduction: Shit on the Right Dharma of the Patriarchs
The Subtle Truth of Sitting! Supreme, and Very Deep!
But hard to meet, even in a billion ages.
I now, being witness to it, might make it my own.
Let us pray to understand what the Buddha truly and really meant.
Among the so-called Dharma-heirs of Gudo Nishijima is a liar/lawyer called James Cohen. When I call him a liar, I mean that he is a man who has a tendency not to tell the truth, but to twist the truth and, going beyond that, to tell lies. This is what I have observed to be the case, when James Cohen has written lies about things I know to have been otherwise.
How can this be? How is it possible for a man like James Cohen to exist as a Zen Patriarch who has received the Dharma from a Zen Patriarch in a lineage going up through Dogen, Nagarjuna, and Gautama, up to the Seven Buddhas?
If you look up James Cohen on the internet, you will find a picture of him sitting next to Gudo, both wearing formal robes, the latter wearing a big authority-conferring hat. Cohen uses the picture to convey the impression of himself as a legitimate, lawful, rightful Dharma-heir of the Zen Patriarch Gudo Nishijima.
A more recent Dharma-heir is Michel Proulx in France, who tells me that he teaches his students "to sit concentrating on their posture." Cohen writes emails to Proulx calling him "Venerable Michel." What is venerable about Michel? Michel has received the Dharma from Gudo, but Michel has not glimpsed the supreme, deep and subtle truth of Master Dogen's sitting, even in a dream. What is venerable about him? Yet Cohen calls him "Venerable Michel." It is all just the hugest crock of horseshit.
In 1989 a film crew from BBC Midlands visited me in Tokyo and filmed me as part of a half-hour documentary, titled "Turning Japanese," on midlanders living in Japan. The film showed me sitting, working on Shobogenzo, and visiting Gudo's old Zazen dojo. When the documentary was broadcast around the end of 1989, I was on a visit back to my parents house in Birmingham. So Jeremy Pearson, who was living near Warwick at the time, was able to phone up the BBC, get my phone number, and visit me at my parents' house. I remember picking up the phone and hearing Jeremy's voice, full of nervous anticipation and sincerity.
When Jeremy came to Japan shortly thereafter, I took him to meet Gudo at Gudo's office and recommended to him that the best way for him to get to know Gudo's teaching intimately was to serve Gudo in some concrete job, for example, taking dictations. So Jeremy started his service of Gudo like that, straight away, with notepad and pen in hand.
Several years later, after I had returned to England to train as an Alexander teacher, Jeremy visited me at the house in Aylesbury where I now am, and what a difference had come over him. His attitude towards me had changed to one of smiling condescension. He had become a Dharma-heir of Gudo, a Zen Patriarch, whereas I, at that time, had not taken that step.
As the Dharma-heir of Gudo, when Gudo decided to go ahead and violate our fifty : fifty agreement, Jeremy failed to do what I was relying on him to do -- to protect me from Michael Luetchford's intervention, which I was expecting. Jeremy didn't let me know about it. He didn't tell me the truth. So my question to Jeremy and others is this: If becoming a legitimate Zen Patriarch causes you not to tell the truth to your friend and mentor, then what is the fucking point of becoming a legitimate Zen Patriarch?
By transmitting the Dharma to the likes of Michael Luetchford, Jeremy Pearson, and latterly me, Gudo has made it more difficult for us to tell the truth about goings on in Dogen Sangha. Michael Luetchford carried on for years, biting his lip and pulling in his chin, suppressing himself, until Gudo nominated the Ven. Bradley Warner as his successor, at which time Michael Luetchford could not prevent himself from, briefly, blowing the whistle.
Since then Michael Luetchford has, apparently, gone back to biting his lip. He knows that his criticisms of the master from whom he received the Dharma would only undermine his own credibility as a legitimate Zen Patriarch.
But I come back to this question: If being a legitimate Zen Patriarch causes you not to tell the truth to your friend and mentor, as in Jeremy's case, what is the fucking point? If being a lawful Zen Patriarch causes you to tell lies, as in Cohen's case, what is the fucking point? If the prospect of being nominated as a Zen Patriarch's rightful successor causes you to twist the truth, putting your own spin on something you know nothing about, as in Brad's case, what is the fucking point?
My own answer is this: I will leave to Brad the preaching of the Right Dharma of the Zen Patriarchs. My consolation is to be found in Master Dogen's teaching that Bodhidharma's lifeblood is nothing but full lotus sitting, and to be found in common or garden telling of the truth.
To all people who, like my old friend Jeremy, are in awe of the Right Dharma of the Zen Patriarchs, let me tell you just this truth: You think that there is something called the Right Dharma that has been transmitted from Zen Patriarch to Zen Patriarch, but there is no such thing at all. So shit on the Right Dharma of the Zen Patriarchs. The lifeblood of the ancestors is nothing but full lotus sitting.
Our buddha-ancestors become real when we remember and honour our buddha-ancestors -- an act which is not only of the past, present, and future but which may ascend even beyond buddha ascending beyond. Truly, when we rummage through those who have kept up, and let be, their buddha-ancestor faces and eyes, we bow down before them and we bump into each other. By making the virtues of our buddha-ancestors real and using them, we have already been inhabiting them; we have already been saluting them, and experiencing them.
Opening paragraph rummaged again on the morning of Sunday 4th April 2008. Translation provoked by Gudo Nishijima.
Copyright Mike Cross, 2008.