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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
FALL 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 59 PHOTOS(LEFT—RIGHT):RENSHINBUNCE;©CHRISTINEALICINO;MARCIALIEBERMAN;LIPINGZHU his fullest attention to those people who came to sit with him every day. It happened that the first few were women, because he spoke at a class where several women were interested in learning more about Zen. So he said, well, I sit every day and if you want to come sit with me, you can. Zazen was always the focus. STEVE STÜCKY: I was sitting in New York with another Japanese teacher when I heard that Suzuki Roshi had died. This was December of 1971, and I found out that he had named an American as his successor. In 1971 that was a very interesting situation, so I traveled across the country to San Francisco partly to see how this would work—actually making the shift from a Japanese teacher to an American in charge. I read it as a statement of the tremendous confidence that Suzuki Roshi had placed in the sincerity of American practitioners. For me, that was a breath of fresh air, and I stayed at Zen Center partly because he had this confidence in the sincerity of his American students. Monastic and Lay Practice BUDDHADHARMA: There is another creative tension we all deal with between deep practice and study on the one hand, and on the other, making the dharma available to all who would benefit from it by engaging the wider society. At Zen Center, this is reflected in a unique combination of residential monastic training and a diverse lay community. MARY MORGAN: It’s not easy meeting the needs of all these different kinds of practitioners, because there are limited resources. How much energy do we put into our training program for our priests? Isn’t Zen Center really about training teachers for the future? What about all the people who continue to knock on our door and say we want attention and training from the teachers? This is one of those dynamic tensions that doesn’t have an easy resolution. Yet Zen Center continues to respond to all the needs that are presented. NORMAN FISCHER: Most Zen groups across the country offer retreats, or sesshins, but don’t provide opportunities to live in a monastic practice environment for months or years. There are only a few Zen sanghas that do that, and of those, I think Zen Center has the highest number of people who can do monastic residential practice for one month, six months, five years, ten years, thirty years. This is very difficult to do, and I think Zen Center has done a fantastic job figuring out how to support people for five or ten years or a whole lifetime of practice. It seems to me this is a unique situation in Zen—life as practice lived in a practice community. It’s not just retreat or deep meditation, but everyday life completely surrounded by zazen. You can’t fully appreciate Zen unless you appreciate Shunryu Suzuki Roshi at City Center, ca 1970 PHOTOKATHERINETHANAS,COURTESYOFSFZC