Filed in Zen (Chan), Koans, History

Yasutani Roshi: The Hardest Koan

Brian Victoria uncovers the wartime anti-Semitism of one of America’s most seminal Zen masters. Responses to this material from: Robert Aitken, Bernie Glassman, Bodhin Kjolhede, and Lawrence Shainberg

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A look at the nationalism, militarism, and anti-Semitism of the Zen master whose teachings (through The Three Pillars of Zen and numerous disciples) place him among the most influential voices in the transmission of Japanese Zen to the West.


Bodhin Kjolhede Responds

They took over half a century to reach us, but the revelations about Yasutani Roshi, like a long-range missile launched from the other side of the world, have hit the Western Zen community hard. The chief casualty: The Enlightened Person. Good riddance! Maybe now we can get out from his or her shadow and see that there has never been an Enlightened Person. There are only enlightened activities—that is, activities (or words, or thoughts) that do or don’t reflect a direct experience of the nondual nature of reality.

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