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?
Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
summer 2005| 38 |buddhadharma The Zen DebaTe Joan Sutherland compares the Rinzai and Soto schools ask anYone who’s pRacticed in both the Rinzai and soto Zen traditions how they’re different, and they’re likely to tell you about walking meditation. soto walking is slow and deliberate, emphasiz- ing mindfulness and careful attention to each action. the charac- teristic Rinzai style is more like a running meditation, an expression of spontaneous, natural action unimpeded by thought. this fundamental difference in approach has been a source of cre- ative tension and bitter debate in Zen since its chinese beginnings. the tension erupted in the rivalry between the northern school, which taught that enlightenment was gradual, and the southern, which said that since there were no stages in enlightenment, it could only occur suddenly. though the southern school largely won that round, by the end of the sung dynasty in the thirteenth century, when Zen began moving to japan, the split had re-emerged in the divergence between the practices of silent illumination and koan introspection. in japan, this split was reproduced in the soto and Rinzai schools. the soto approach was defined quite early on by dogen, who said that we are already inherently enlightened, and meditation is the activity of that enlightenment. the characteristic soto meditation is shikantaza, just sitting, a state of bare attention supported by deep concentration, through which the mind is gradually purified so that its state of inherent enlightenment emerges. in contrast, the Rinzai school emphasizes a dynamic form of medi- tation that involves taking a koan – a word, phrase, or story – as the focus of attention. the aim is to break through our ordinary ways of seeing things into the state of consciousness expressed by the koan itself. Rinzai practice puts a certain pressure on the meditator to help induce the breakthrough. the meditator then takes up a long series of koans that deepen the initial experience and help integrate it into daily life. the conviction that such a breakthrough is not only possible but essential is the fundamental difference between Rinzai and soto practices. while soto emphasizes a formal perfection – in pos- ture, breathing, and all the other activities that are a part of prac- tice – Rinzai focuses its laserlike beam on the possibilities for the transformation of consciousness in any moment, anywhere. students of the “sudden” school should always be ready for a plunge into the vastness, and always alert to the ways the vast perspective can be embodied in everyday life. Rinzai’s founding ancestor, the ninth-century chinese teacher linji (pronounced Rinzai in japanese), was fierce, direct, and uncompro- mising. he used to say, “there is nothing i dislike” – as subversive and thoroughgoing a koan as you’ll find. though he was famous for hitting and shouting at his students, he also constantly encouraged them to stop looking outside themselves for answers, to question even his teachings, and to trust their own experiences. in japan, this style of Zen appealed to artists and literati, and above all to the warrior class. early Rinzai stories tell of monks and nuns who could wound and even kill with their shouts. over time the Rinzai school lost its vigor as it became entangled with japan’s ruling institutions, but it was revived in the eighteenth century by hakuin, another innovative teacher. hakuin settled well away from the centers of power and taught farmers and housewives as well as monastics. he saved Rinzai from its worldly success and showed that country folk could practice with as much dedication as samurai. we largely owe hakuin for the way koans have been used in the Rinzai school for the last 250 years. Rinzai koan practice transmits to us some of the best of Zen – qualities such as spontaneity and courage; trust in the dynamic nature of the human mind; and valuing the transformation of consciousness. it takes the mahayana emphasis on relatedness seriously – what, after all, is working with a koan but an intense and intimate relationship? it encourages not just introverted experience but creative expression and generally jumping into life. eido shimano points out that the Rinzai school has a reputation for being harsh and militaristic. one of our tasks as inheritors of this tradition in the west is to tease apart those aspects of the tradition that are essential, and those that are accretions of the cultures through which it passes. in the spirit of hakuin, some westerners are now applying what we consider the essential Rinzai spirit to ways of practice that are neither martial nor monastic, but remain deeply anchored in the poet mary oliver’s very Rinzai question: “tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?” Joan Sutherland is the founder of The open Source project, a collaborative network of Zen practitioners in the western united States. She has studied in both the Rinzai and Soto traditions.