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|Born||August 20, 1912|
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
|Died||May 6, 2004 91)(aged|
|Successor||Zenson Gifford, Albert Low, Mitra Bishop, Sunyana Graef, Danan Henry, |
Bodhin Kjolhede, Sunya Kjolhede, Lawson Sachter
Philip Kapleau (August 20, 1912 – May 6, 2004) was a teacher of Zen Buddhism in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition, a blending of Japanese Sōtō and Rinzai schools.
Kapleau was born in New Haven, Connecticut. As a teenager he worked as a bookkeeper. He briefly studied law and later became an accomplished court reporter. In 1945 he served as chief Allied court reporter for the "Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal", which judged the leaders of Nazi Germany. This was the first of the series commonly known as the Nuremberg Trials.
Kapleau later covered the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, commonly known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. While in Japan he became intrigued by Zen Buddhism. During the tribunal he became acquainted with Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, then a prisoner at Sugamo Prison, who recommended that Kapleau attend informal lectures given by D.T. Suzuki in Kita-Kamakura.After returning to America, Kapleau renewed his acquaintance with D.T. Suzuki who had left Kita-Kamakura to lecture on Zen at Columbia University. But disaffected with a primarily intellectual treatment of Zen, he moved to Japan in 1953 to seek Zen's deeper truth.
He trained initially with Soen Nakagawa, then rigorously with Daiun Harada at the temple Hosshin-ji. Later he became a disciple of Hakuun Yasutani, a dharma heir of Harada.After 13 years' training, Kapleau was ordained by Yasutani in 1965 and given permission to teach. Kapleau ended his relationship with Yasutani formally in 1967 over disagreements about teaching and other personal issues. According to James Ishmael Ford, "Kapleau had completed about half of the Harada-Yasutani kōan curriculum, the koans in the Gateless Gate and the Blue Cliff Record ." In fact, Kapleau had not completed even a third of the koan curriculum. By his own admission, Kapleau had gone no farther than the Blue Cliff Record although Yamada Koun (who had received Kapleau in private interview during Yasutani Roshi's absence) claimed that Kapleau had only finished about a third of the Blue Cliff Record. Therefore, according to Andrew Rawlinson, "Kapleau has created his own Zen lineage" since he is not part of any lineage whatsoever.
During a book tour in 1965 he was invited to teach meditation at a gathering in Rochester, New York[ citation needed ]. In 1966 he left Japan to create the Rochester Zen Center.
For almost 40 years, Kapleau taught at the Center and in many other settings around the world, and provided his own dharma transmission to several disciples. He also introduced many modifications to the Japanese Zen tradition, such as chanting the Heart Sutra in the local language, English in the U.S., or Polish at the Center he founded in Katowice. He often emphasized that Zen Buddhism adapted so readily to new cultures because it was not dependent upon a dogmatic external form. At the same time he recognized that it was not always easy to discern the form from the essence, and one had to be careful not to "throw the baby out with the bathwater."
He suffered from Parkinson’s Disease for several years. While his physical mobility was reduced, he enjoyed lively and trenchant interactions with a steady stream of visitors throughout his life. On May 6, 2004, he died peacefully in the backyard of the Rochester Zen Center, surrounded by many of his closest disciples and friends.
Kapleau transcribed other Zen teachers' talks, interviewed lay students and monks, and recorded the practical details of Zen Buddhist practice. His book, The Three Pillars of Zen, published in 1965, has been translated into 12 languages, and is still in print.It was one of the first English-language books to present Zen Buddhism not as philosophy, but as a pragmatic and salutary way of training and living. Michael Alan Singer, New York Times bestselling author and former CEO of WebMD, identified that the Three Pillars of Zen was the source which embarked him on his spiritual journey.
Kapleau was an articulate and passionate writer. His emphasis in writing and teaching was that insight and enlightenment are available to anyone, not just austere and isolated Zen monks. Also well known for his views on vegetarianism, peace and compassion, he remains widely read, and is a notable influence on Zen Buddhism as it is practiced in the West. Today, his dharma heirs and former students teach at Zen centers around the world.
A favorite saying of Philip Kapleau was "Grist for the mill" which means that all of our troubles and trials can be useful or contain some profit to us. In this spirit, his gravestone is one of the millstones from Chapin Mill, the 135-acre (0.55 km2) Buddhist retreat center whose land was donated by a founding member of the Rochester Zen Center, Ralph Chapin.
Philip Kapleau appointed several successors, some of whom have subsequently appointed successors or authorized teachers:
Two students ended their formal affiliation with Philip Kapleau, establishing independent teaching-careers:
First published in 1965, it has not been out of print ever since, has been translated into ten languages and, perhaps most importantly, still inspires newcomers to take up the practice of Zen Buddhism.
Zazen is a meditative discipline that is typically the primary practice of the Zen Buddhist tradition. The meaning and method of zazen varies from school to school, but in general it can be regarded as a means of insight into the nature of existence. In the Japanese Rinzai school, zazen is usually associated with the study of koans. The Sōtō School of Japan, on the other hand, only rarely incorporates koans into zazen, preferring an approach where the mind has no object at all, known as shikantaza.
Robert Baker Dairyu Chotan Aitken Rōshi was a Zen teacher in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. He co-founded the Honolulu Diamond Sangha in 1959 together with his wife, Anne Hopkins Aitken. Aitken received Dharma transmission from Koun Yamada in 1985 but decided to live as a layperson. He was a socialist advocating social justice for gays, women and Native Hawaiians throughout his life, and was one of the original founders of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.
The Kwan Um School of Zen (관음선종회) (KUSZ) is an international school of zen centers and groups founded in 1983 by Seungsahn. The school's international head temple is located at the Providence Zen Center in Cumberland, Rhode Island, which was founded in 1972 shortly after Seungsahn first came to the United States. The Kwan Um style of Buddhist practice combines ritual common both to Korean Buddhism as well as Rinzai school of Zen, and their morning and evening services include elements of Huayan and Pure Land Buddhism. While the Kwan Um Zen School comes under the banner of the Jogye Order of Korean Seon, the school has been adapted by Seungsahn to the needs of Westerners. According to James Ishmael Ford, the Kwan Um School of Zen is the largest Zen school in the Western world.
Sanbo Kyodan is a lay Zen sect derived from both the Soto (Caodong) and the Rinzai (Linji) traditions. It was renamed Sanbo-Zen International in 2014. The term Sanbo Kyodan has often been used to refer to the Harada-Yasutani zen lineage. However, a number of Yasutani’s students have started their own teaching lines that are independent from Sanbo Kyodan. Strictly speaking, Sanbo Kyodan refers only to the organization that is now known as Sanbo-Zen International.
Japanese Zen refers to the Japanese forms of Zen Buddhism, an originally Chinese Mahāyāna school of Buddhism that strongly emphasizes dhyāna, the meditative training of awareness and equanimity. This practice, according to Zen proponents, gives insight into one's true nature, or the emptiness of inherent existence, which opens the way to a liberated way of living.
Daiun Sogaku Harada was a Sōtō Zen monk who trained under both Sōtō and Rinzai teachers and became known for his teaching combining methods from both schools.
Yamada Koun Zenshin, or Koun Yamada, was a Japanese Buddhist who was the leader of the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Zen Buddhism, the Dharma heir of his teacher Yasutani Haku'un Ryoko. Yamada was appointed the leader of the Sanbo Kyodan in 1967, 1970 or 1973 and continued to differentiate the lineage from other Japanese Zen traditions by deemphasizing the separation between laypeople and the ordained—just as his teacher Yasutani had done. Yamada was also instrumental in bringing Christians to the practice of Zen that “by the end of Yamada’s teaching career approximately one quarter of the participants at his sesshins were Christians”.
Toni Packer was a teacher of "meditative inquiry", and the founder of Springwater Center. Packer was a former student in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Zen Buddhism, and was previously in line to be the successor of Phillip Kapleau at the Rochester Zen Center.
The Rochester Zen Center (RZC) is a Sōtō and Rinzai Zen Buddhist sangha in the Kapleau lineage, located in Rochester, New York and established in 1966 by Philip Kapleau. It is one of the oldest Zen centers in the United States.
Hakuun Yasutani was a Sōtō rōshi, the founder of the Sanbo Kyodan organization of Japanese Zen.
Bodhin Kjolhede is a Sōtō/Rinzai Zen roshi and Abbot of the Rochester Zen Center (RZC), a position he assumed when Philip Kapleau retired from teaching in 1986. He was ordained as a priest in 1976 and received Dharma transmission in 1986. He has authorized six of his disciples as teachers in their own right: Sante Poromaa, Kanja Odland, Sevan Ross, Gerardo Gally, Amala Wrightson, and Robert Goldmann. Additionally, Kjolhede has been offered transmission in a Sōtō lineage, but has thus far chosen to decline.
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is a book of teachings by the late Shunryu Suzuki, a compilation of talks given to his satellite Zen center in Los Altos, California. Published in 1970 by Weatherhill, the book is not academic, but contains frank and direct transcriptions of Suzuki's talks recorded by his student Marian Derby. Trudy Dixon and Richard Baker edited the talks by choosing those most relevant, arranging them into chapters. According to some, it has become a spiritual classic, helping readers to steer clear from the trap of intellectualism. Bodhin Kjolhede, Abbot of the Rochester Zen Center, writes that, together with Philip Kapleau's The Three Pillars of Zen (1965), it is one of the two most influential books on Zen in the west.
Below is a timeline of important events regarding Zen Buddhism in the United States. Dates with "?" are approximate.
The Pacific Zen Institute (PZI), is a Zen Buddhist practice center in Santa Rosa, California. Established in 1999, it has several affiliate centers in the lineage of John Tarrant, a dharma heir of Robert Baker Aitken, and formerly of the Sanbo Kyodan school of Zen.
Still Mind Zendo, a Zen meditation center formed in 1994, is in the Soto lineage of the late Taizan Maezumi Roshi and the White Plum Asanga. The founder and resident teacher of Still Mind Zendo, Sensei Janet Jiryu Abels, is a dharma successor of Roshi Robert Jinsen Kennedy as is Sensei Gregory Hosho Abels, the co-resident teacher at the center.
The Toronto Zen Centre, is a Sanbo Kyodan Zen Buddhist practice center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is modeled after the Rochester Zen Center. They offer introductory workshops in Zen Buddhism. The Toronto Zen Centre offers a couple of unique Buddhist course in Loving Kindness Meditation and periodically offers Mastering Breath Awareness or an MBA.
Michael Danan Henry is an American Roshi in the Harada-Yasutani lineage, a Zen sect derived from both the Rinzai and Sōtō traditions of Japanese Zen), practicing in the Diamond Sangha lineage of Robert Baker Aitken. The founding teacher of the Zen Center of Denver, Henry received Dharma transmission from Philip Kapleau Roshi in 1989 and was subsequently recognized as a Diamond Sangha teacher and Diamond Sangha master by Robert Baker Aitken. Danan Henry Roshi created and implemented the Monastery Without Walls training program; the Lotus in the Flame Lay Order; and the "Every Minute Zen" mindfulness practice as abbot and spiritual director of the Zen Center of Denver.
Brigitte D'Ortschy, or Koun-An Doru Chiko, was an architect, journalist, translator, author, and the first Zen master from Germany in the Sanbo Kyodan school of Japan.
Sante Poromaa Roshi is a Zen Buddhist priest and teacher, in the lineage of Harada-Yasutani. He was born in 1958 in Kiruna, Sweden, and commenced his Zen training in the early eighties, as a student of Roshi Philip Kapleau. When Roshi Kapleau went into semi-retirement, he also became a student of Kapleau's successor, Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede.
Zen was introduced in the United States at the end of the 19th century by Japanese teachers who went to America to serve groups of Japanese immigrants and become acquainted with the American culture. After World War II, interest from non-Asian Americans grew rapidly. This resulted in the commencement of an indigenous American Zen tradition which also influences the larger western (Zen) world.
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