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    The Mushroom Monk: Nyogen Senzaki Paid Member

    “THE LAND OF THE WHITE BARBARIANS is beneath the dignity of a Zen master," argued Soyen Shaku's monks when Soyen was invited to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. But the Japanese abbot already had high expectations for the new world. Disregarding the objections of his monks, Soyen Shaku (1859-1919) became the first Zen priest to visit the United States. In Chicago, he represented Zen Buddhism with diplomatic discretion. Privately, however, Soyen felt that Zen in Japan had grown impoverished, sapped of true spiritual inquiry. On Soyen's horizon, the future of Zen rested with the barbarians in the West. For the first half of the twentieth century, Zen activity in the United States was carried out by Soyen Shaku's lineage alone, its influence continuing through his two messengers to the West: the world-famous D. T. Suzuki (1869-1966), who became the popularized voice of Zen, and the little-known Zen saint and monk Nyogen Senzaki (1876-1958). More »
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    Letter to the Schools of the Buddha Paid Member

    On April 15, 1925, the French founder of the Theatre of the Absurd, Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) published his "Letter to the Schools of the Buddha" in the third issue of La Revolution Surrealiste. In the same issue were addresses to the Dalai Lama and the Pope and a "Letter to the Directors of Insane Assylums." The issue was subtitled "1925: End of the Christian Era."Read in the context of the artistic movement from which it came, Artaud's "Letter" is less an espousal of Buddhist ideas than an expression of dissatisfaction with the materialism of modern society. That dissatisfaction, in turn, led many artists and intellectuals to embrace Buddhism in the twenties and thirties, when gradually the actual teachings of Buddhism came more to the fore. More »
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    The Sensualist Paid Member

    While the usually sleepy English village of Chislehurst was being bombarded by German aircraft in the early morning of January 6, 1915, Alan Watts—who was to become one of the foremost interpreters of ancient Eastern wisdom for the modern West—was born to Laurence Wilson Watts and Emily Mary Buchan. The elder Watts was an executive with the Michelin tire company in London, and his wife taught at a local school for daughters of missionaries to China. It was because of his mother that Alan had early exposure to Asian culture, via art and other gifts brought by parents returning from China. A Sinophile all his life, Alan attributed the start of his interest in the writings of Chinese poets and sages to his mother’s gift of a Chinese translation of the New Testament. More »
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    Remembering Alan Watts Paid Member

    The remarkable life of Zen pioneer Alan Watts [1915-1973] is featured in the Fall 2007 issue ("The Sensualist," by Mira Tweti). In this special web exclusive we celebrate the work and legacy of Watts with audio, video, and art by and about Alan Watts. Enjoy!   Alan Watts Theater. Several animated movies from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The image pictured is from an animation by Tim Sisco.   Also, take a look at the Alan Watts Story featuring his TV and autobiographic lecture series.   Excerpt from Eastern Wisdom. Modern Life by Alan Watts, published by New World Library.   More »
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    Lost Stories Paid Member

    My sangha chants a lineage of female ancestors, alternating day by day with our traditional lineage. When we began doing this a few years ago, it was like harvesting fruit from a very old tree. The seeds were planted when Mahapajapati became the first female Buddhist monk and leader of a thriving women’s monastic community in ancient India. From the beginning of my Soto Zen practice, I’ve known both male and female monks, priests and lay students, and have seen men and women holding equal ranks. In my own sangha, men and women serve in varying roles without gender distinction. More »