Showing posts from February, 2013

Buddhism and the Suspension of Critical Thinking

A convergence of three different but related events – any one of which could be written about at length – has prompted me to compose this current post. I’ll speak of each of these events in turn, but let me just tease you here at the outset by stating that one of these events is the recent ‘coming to a head’ of the apparently festering boil that has been Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s alleged long-term sexual abuse of at least some of his female students. If you would like more information before reading on, please see the related New York Times article and the Sweeping Zen blog post by Eshu Martin, the former student of Sasaki’s who publicly brought forth these allegations of abuse.

First, however, let me begin with some very broad background information – and a promise that all of this will tie together by the close of this post. Within the United States, faith in organized religion is presently at its lowest point in recent years. According to Gallup: “Forty-four percent of Americans have…

Book Review: Okumura's 'Living By Vow'

Not too long ago, the post that I’ll refer to here as A Defense of Ritual brought to a close a three-part exploration of what I termed ‘the dichotomy between universality and ritual,’ i.e., the dichotomy between the universal practice of zazen (seated meditation) and those idiosyncratic rituals that, directly or indirectly and to varying degrees, support it. Regular readers will recall that I used the chanting of the Three Refuges as an example. I noted then that, while the act of reciting “I take refuge in the Buddha... I take refuge in the Dharma... I take refuge in the Sangha...” might have everything to do with the practice of Buddhism, it simply does not rise to the level of universality. What it does do, however, is provide a philosophical context for the universal practice of zazen – context that many practitioners require in order to feel grounded in their sitting practice.
The reason for revisiting this ostensibly closed exploration of the dichotomy between universality and …