See: MatriTalks 9
I am a Buddhist 1
See: MatriTalks 59
I am a Buddhist 2
From an old file
(Will be continued soon)
Q. As a universal teacher you represent a
different view on how Zen should be. Could you comment on that?
A. Whether you practice Zen, TM or
"who am I" your deepest motivation is decisive. Traditionally this motivation is
to escape from suffering, to reject the body and to transcend the world. I call those
traditions "patriarchal spirituality". Trying "to escape from birth, life,
death and rebirth" - the core of the efforts - means rejecting life. It is e.g.
caused by fear for life, the world, relationship, commitment, women, the body, sex and
Q. Do you mean that everything is based on
denial and rejection?
A. Patriarchal spirituality is based on a
dual attitude in which "the world" is excluded in favor of the non-worldly, the
spirit, the Light. Subsequently this non-worldly realm is pursued as the non-dual.
Q. But isn't it Zen saying that it is
simply about becoming aware and nothing else?
A. To become aware usually serves a
personal goal, while I advocate the practice of no-self right from the beginning.
Moreover, even considering that Zen has been changing since it came to the West, it is
still a fact that for most teachers "becoming aware" automatically presupposes a
hierarchy of values: e.g. spirit over
Q. That means?
A. That means that before starting
practicing a strong mindset has - consciously or unconsciously - occupied your mind. It
says that the current situation - entangled as you are in the sea of samsara - means
suffering and that you therefore should seek liberation. However subtle it may be, there
is always a purpose, a goal behind. This ambition has been always "to overcome
desire, suffering and the world" and to become Enlightened. Spiritual desire simply
replaces worldly ones. While in sitting the body is used as a tool to achieve liberation.
There is a subtle! utilitarian attitude behind it.
Q. So the motivation behind determines
A. That is exactly what I try to say here.
Even if the outcome of your practice would be liberation, the underlying schizophrenia
will be still there. Everything becomes a confirmation of your preconceived ideas: that
only by rejecting the world true liberation is possible. The notion that you don't have to
become liberated any way doesn't occur to you. You don't have to reject this in order to
realize that. You don't have to reject the body, the senses, desires or the world in order
to become Enlightened.
Q. Are you denying the traditional aim of
Buddhism, namely liberation?
A. Since the days of the Buddha, the
cultural context has changed drastically. In a time in which "personal freedom"
has become an excrescence, the motor behind growth, profit, accumulation and exploitation,
"liberation" appears to serve different aims. Rather than seeking liberation
from greed (or the identification with it), liberation itself has become an object of
desire. Good things have become bad things nowadays. I am here to help you re-think.
Q. A Zen master has written:
"experiencing Ultimate Perfection, the apple tree will disclose its perfect Wholeness
to you". Isn't this a prove that Zen embraces common reality as it is?
A. What your Zen master and many others
with him have written is certainly beautiful. It describes how reality is once you have
attained (Enlightenment). I know by Experience that it is true what they are saying. But
yet...it may sound strange to you, reality should not be looked at from the perspective of
Enlightenment. Common reality should not be compared with perfection and thus be
"denunciated". This cannot be justified by "once you are Enlightened...then
you may see the apple tree how he really is". Not "perfection" should be
taken as a reference, but the common reality as it is. No comparison whatsoever should be
made. And the reality is, that people are disconnected both from their deeper Self and
from the world. The tree should not be revered only for its essence, but for its simple
appearance to start with. The body is not a means in order to attain something else, but
revered as a value in itself. In sitting I love and celebrate the body, connecting to it
joyfully, rather than using it for my spiritual goals...And the miracle is this: by fully
becoming the body suddenly the transcendence is there. It is not an achievement, it is a
Q. It thus depends how you analyze the
situation people are in?
A. Compassion doesn't mean "seeing
the ignorance" (of not being Enlightened) of other people, but to connect to their
situation as it is, not from your perspective, but from theirs. Then you see that people
don't have contact with the apple tree even on a very basic level: on the level of the
senses for instance. The first step is to connect with the tree on the level of its
appearance, rather than its "higher Reality" (which in a very subtle way
denounces the tree in its earthly aspect...). Seeing, feeling and touching the tree
in the first place, that is where it is all about. Now, in order to feel the tree you
don't have to become Enlightened first. You simply should see, feel and touch him. But
because "feelings" and "senses" are considered inferior (and
dangerous!) by patriarchal spirituality, people are misguided and don't see the point.
Their "simple", but o so important first awakening is sacrificed on the altar of
Q. Does that explain the life-denunciating
attitude of traditional Japanese Zen?
A. Immediately from the start (1974) I
have seen the underlying attitude of traditional Zen. Like all patriarchal religions there
has been a glorifying of the Transcendence, while (secretly) rejecting common life.
Against the context of a militant society excesses were hardly avoidable, e.g. those
Japanese Zen masters supporting war and killing. Hence, my efforts to transform
traditional Zen into a life affirming practice. Ever since, my whole life's work is to
overcome this dualism. It has not been very much understood though. Hopefully this scandal
contributes to the insight that apologizing is not enough. The underlying principles have
to be reconsidered.
Q. What are you suggesting then?
A. The purity of intention is decisive. To
me siting is not trying to get anywhere, but simply to relax in what I am already, to
restore contact with those "parts" from which I am disconnected: both awareness
and the body. The longing behind is not to attain something, but as a part to fit in into
the Whole. It is a longing for homecoming. This reconnecting is achieved through watching
and feeling, feeling and watching. They appear to have a positive feedback towards each
other. By feeling the sensations of my foot, my awareness gains in clarity, by becoming
more aware the sensations become more intense. It is reflecting the basic Law of the
Universe: Emptiness (awareness) is form (energy) and voiceovers. It is the first time in
history that "theory and practice" are one. Hence, "feeling awareness"
is the key of Living Zen.
Q. Did your view on reality has changed
through your practice?
A. Very much so. First you should take the
actual situation as a starting point: man alienated from his/her deeper Self and isolated
from the body and from nature. Spiritual practice should connect to this reality. Only
true compassion is able to see the actual suffering, rather than referring people to some
idea of perfection, which isn't compassion at all. Once you see this, you start to adjust
your teaching, even if it has to go against many centuries of accumulated wisdom. The
outcome is this. What is most needed - both individually and culturally - is that we as
mankind have to become part of the Whole again. Our extreme individualism - including our
personal desire for Enlightenment, which is only a part of it - has to be overcome. That
is the meaning of the global crisis. Spirituality should be vertical and horizontal,
transcendental and ecological, both. All paths that reject the body, feelings, women, sex
and nature, belong to an old paradigm, something that should be abandoned. The
discriminating and exploiting attitude of patriarchy has to be given up. If you discover
that (bodily) feelings and awareness are not opposites, but rather stimulate each other,
then you know reality as it really is. Feelings are part of you and awareness appears to
be all embracing.
Q. What is crucial in your teaching?
A. In a time in which everything has
become part of a personal enterprise including liberation suffering has to
be re-defined. In order for Buddhism "to save all sentient and non-sentient
beings", Buddhism itself has to be saved first. It then appears, that the core
suffering of modern people is alienation and isolation, the loss of contact, both with
their "inner Self" as well as with their environment. To restore contact with
reality is where it is all about.
Q. You have said, that the "Great
Mother has appeared at the right time". What do you mean by that?
A. Because Buddhahood has become the
object of greed, fuelling personal ambition rather than cutting it, Buddhism will not be
able to play the role it wants to play. It has become counterproductive. Just like the
rest of society it has become victim of (spiritual) materialism. The Great Mother,
representing the Law of Destruction and Rebirth is the only One who can save here. Only
She can strip you of your layers, bringing you back to your original innocence, making you
a "looser" again. To fit in into Her Law without the prospect of "gaining
something from it" will be the test of true spirituality, of your purity of
intention. The shift is from personal ambition to becoming part of the Whole again. The
latter is not possible without letting go of all your excesses on all levels.
Q. Is the Great Mother part of the
A. The Great Mother confronts Buddhism
with its own principles. She - as the Vacuum - reveals the limitations of the "law of
impermanence" as it is "commonly" understood. Because of Her, not only the
relative world, but all levels of existence are bottomless, including Buddhahood. Not the
Light, but the unattainable Void appears to be the Ultimate Reality.
Q. But isn't Nirvana or Emptiness beyond
Emptiness the core teaching of Buddhism? I cannot see what is new about your insight.
A. Very much so. To understand this we
have to go back to the beginning of patriarchal religion in which the Vacuum was stripped
of Her dynamic aspects: death, permanence and rebirth. It was the aim of Buddhism to
eliminate it, in its effort to "overcome the cycle of birth and death". What
remained was an abstract concept: "Nirvana". The consequences were manifold.
Because the loss of Her dynamic aspect, the relationship between "Nirvana" and
other Planes of Consciousness was lost e.g. Enlightenment "born out" of Nirvana.
The notion, that "Light is (continuously) born out of Darkness" was forgotten.
Hence, Enlightenment did not derive its status from Its Beyond anymore, but exclusively
from itself: Buddhahood as the highest Realization. Of course, this outcome was exactly
what the patriarchs wanted for themselves: the power of supreme authority.
Q. What are the consequences?
A. The consequences are far reaching. The
concept of "Nirvana" is not adding anything to our understanding of the Cosmos.
The Vacuum on the other hand reveals the "Law of the Universe", something to
which our lives should accommodate. Living according Her Law our life will be in perfect
balance. Secondly, with Buddhahood born out of the Womb* - as "secondary
reality" - no identity can be derived from it. The lineage of patriarchs and (male)
masters have thus no justification for dominance anymore. Ambition proves to be futile.
Their claims have lost their absolute authority. Like everybody else, they also have to
prostrate themselves to the Great Unknown.
Q. Are you against patriarchy?
A. The feminist movement, in its turn
identifying with the "Great Mother" as a counterbalance to patriarchal religion,
should be aware of the same trap. If the greed for power is behind it, it will equally
become corrupted from the very start. Of course the female lineage should take refuge in
the Great Mother. The Great Mother is the Ultimate Reality in which everything dies
naturally - according to the universal Law of Destruction, Preservation and Rebirth - and
is born out of it. We cannot claim, possess or use Her, just revere, worship and
* It is continuously dying in the
Void, while in the selfsame Eternal Moment being reborn, hence it is called the
Unborn, the Unchanging, the Absolute.
Q. Isn't there anything positive in
developing a feminine lineage?
A. To search for accounts of enlightened
females in Buddhism is tremendously important. What is of concern here is, that it should
not be "designed and promoted" in competition with the masculine system, but
rather finds its home in the Great Mother. Instead of being "constructed" by
your own (mind) effort, the feminine lineage should be reconnected to its Original Source
again. It is the Source that will then give it all the power, renewal, inspiration,
realization, radiance and compassion it needs. In Great Mother Buddhism spiritual guidance
should be in the hands of women: at least for the coming decades. Those who would like to
become initiated or ordained may wish to first receive a basic training. To make it very
clear: my role will only be that of a mediator, a bridge between the old and the new era.
Q. How to understand in this respect the
emphasis on the coming of Maitreya Buddha?
A. We have entered a new era, in which a
totally new approach is required. The old dharma has to be put in a new context. The
recognition of the Great Mother is putting an end to patriarchal hierarchy.
Furthermore, the crisis in the outer world reflects our inner situation of which Buddhism
also is a part. You cannot work with the tools that have caused the trouble. The sooner
people realize this, the better. A fresh wave has to clean up attachments, lift the hearts
and bring new insights, while finding a new balance. We have to put the HereNow in the
service of the future. The next Buddha - Maitreya - acknowledges his descent from the
Mother's Womb. As a Son/Daughter of the Great Mother he/she is embodying a new era,
advocating a "feminine" world view, thus saving all sentient and non-sentient
Q. Is this a concrete person?
A. He/she could be a woman (smiling). The
answer is this: Emptiness contains all forms. Hence, the seed of Maitreya is in everybody:
men and women. To develop your Maitreya Mind, that which is letting his old self
"die" in order to be reborn, bringing renewal and regeneration "to all
directions", is the challenge we are facing. It is an invitation to all of us.
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