John Teramoto, president of SKA’s Black Belt Council, spent some years as Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Kansas and as Curator of Asian Art at the Spencer Museum of Art. During his tenure at K.U., Dr. Teramoto introduced members of KC Shotokan to the lectures and instruction of Fukushima Keido Roshi, Chief Abbot of the Tofukuji Zen Sect in Kyoto, Japan.
Keidô Fukushima (福島 慶道, March 1, 1933 – March 1, 2011) began visiting the United States and the Spencer Museum in 1989. There he has presented an annual calligraphy demonstration and lecture and has given instruction in Zen Sitting.
The following are notes taken by Mike Lyon during a March 8, 2001 Lecture by Fukushima Roshi, Chief Abbot of the Tofuku-ji Zen Buddhist Sect of Kyoto. The lecture was presented at the University of Kansas’ Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas. Mike Novak acted as Fukushima Roshi’s English translator, as the lecture was in Japanese.
Fukushima Roshi was introduced by the director of the Spencer Museum, Andrea S. Norris:
This is Fukushima Roshi’s 13th annual visit to the Spencer Museum. The Tofuku-ji sect has 170 monasteries with the main one in Kyoto (beautiful slides). Fukushima Roshi is the 303rd chief abbot of the Tofuku-ji sect since it began in the 13th century. The Friends of the Spencer Museum will make a visit to Tofuku-ji around October 17.
Fukushima Roshi, Chief Abbot of Tofuku-ji Zen Buddhist Sect in Kyoto.
I first came to the US in 1969 and stayed in Claremont, California. The second time I came to the US was in 1973 to Claremont.. So, Claremont, CA is like a first home to me in the US. Since 1989, I have come to KU each year, so KU is like my 2nd home in the US. The first time I came, I gave (a lot of) public lectures, four calligraphy demonstrations, (and other activities).
When I first came to KU, I lectured in a small room which wasn’t full. lectured in this auditorium, and it was pretty full. I thought, “I want to lecture in THAT auditorium!” So today I am very happy to lecture in the auditorium, and I see that it is full. More than full. People have to bring chairs in and still there are not enough places to sit. But I see people sitting on the floor in front of me, and there is room for about six more people to come sit close to me right up here in front. You know, the closer you sit to a Zen Master, the quicker you can reach enlightenment!
The topic of my lecture this evening is “The Zen of Zen Master Rinzai”.
The Zen in the United States is Chinese Zen, but the original Zen was Indian. In India it was called ‘Dhiana’ (?) which is a Sanscrit word meaning, “To concentrate on one thing”. It was also called ‘Samahdi’ in Sanskrit. Bodhidharma was the 28th successor to Buddha. He brought Zen to China. The Buddhism taught by Bodhidharma was different. This new form of Buddhism eventually became known as Zen, and became practical and pragmatic, well suited to the Chinese (not philosophical like the Indians).
Bodhidharma went to Byo in the south of China. The emperor of Byo was Bu. Buddhism was already practiced by Bu and his subjects, having been brought there earlier, but Bodhidharma’s Buddhism was different. Bu was interested in Zen, and studied for a long time until he reached understanding. But the priests of Bu hated Bodhidharma. They tried to kill him. Bodhidharma fled north to an area of the Yellow River called Shorinji (Shaolin). That place is famous now for its Kung Fu.
During the Sui (589-618 ad) and T’ang Dynasties (618-907 ad), Zen became widespread and reached perfection during the T’ang Dynasty in a place near the Yang Tze River. But it had been born on the Yellow River, and the Yellow River Zen continued to exist.
In the T’ang Dynasty there were two great masters North of the Yellow River, Rinzai and Joshu. I lectured on Joshu here last year. I feel like Joshu is like my grandfather. Of the Zens which were practiced in the Sui and T’ang dynasties, it was the Northern Zen which survived. Master Rinzai founded the Rinzai Sect. During the T’ang dynasty, there were five sects. During the S’ung Dynasty, there were seven sects. It was during the Song (Sung) Dynasty (960 ad) that Zen was brought to Japan.. Of all the sects, Rinzai was the most successful. I am Rinzai.
It was a great shame that China went through the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) several decades ago. There were five periods of repression of Zen in Chinese History. Recently, in Afghanistan, Buddhist statues are being destroyed. In China, Byumo in Rapuyo (??) has many Buddha statues. The main Buddha statue was OK when I visited about ten years ago, but the smaller ones were all decapitated during the Cultural Revolution. Young men couldn’t become priests during that time. So there are no priests there in their 50’s. 40’s, 60’s, 70’s – yes, but not 60’s.
Master Joi (like Joey) there has taken over and has been a good friend for over 20 years. I visit every fall and the last time, Joi was out in the field, so his second (a priest in his 40’s) greeted me. I explained that since I couldn’t speak Chinese, we’d have to use an interpreter. But he suggested English. His English was perfect!
The Rinzai monks outnumber monks of all other sects. Rinzai was famous for his severity. He said, “If you want to practice Zen, you have to sacrifice your whole life to it.” He was famous for his shout. There is a good storty about Rinzai which I want to tell, but you will misunderstand. It is called, “Rinzai Killing a Cat”. I will tell it in three or four years. If I tell it now, you will misunderstand. It is not a story about cruelty.
During the T’ung Dynasty there were more and more Zen masters, so they greeted each other with Zen Qeustions, and practice became more and more severe.
Huke. Huke (Hukei?) was a master who didn’t even want to be burdened with his own temple. Huke would sneak into the Rinzai’s kitchen and eat raw vegetables. Rinzai caught him with raw vegetables sticking out of his mouth and said, “You look like a donkey!”
“HEE HAW”, replied Huke.
Once a monk asked, “How deep is this river?” Huke just grabbed him and threw him in. This was very Zen. They could get away with this in T’ang China. Not today. If one of my monks threw a lay person into a river for asking how deep it is, I’d never be able to post bail! But in T’ang, Zen was very extreme.
There’s a Zen saying, “Ichi mui no shinei.”
“Ichi” means “one.”
“Mui” means “non-titled.”
“Shinei” means “true person.”
“Mu” means “no” or “not”.
“Mu-e” means not depending on.
“Mu-shin” means “no mind”
“Mu-shu” means “no practice”
This is from the Chinese Taoism. Taoism and Zen do have a connection. When I go to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, they have a big Taoism Exhibit right now (this is the one I saw in Chicago in the fall). For the Chinese populace to understand Zen, they expressed it in Taoist terms, but the exxence is different. In Tao, everything exists under Heaven which is absolute. But in Zen, we have no absolutes; no God or Heaven.
“Mui” means “non-titled.” Each of us has a title or position in life, but in this teaching it says “non-titled”, free titled, adapting freely to any title or position, people like this. “Mui” is the point. “True Person” is the key point. If Rinzai had just said, “Mui,” and left it at that, it would have been completely philosophical. But saying, “The true person is untitled,” it is completely concrete. Bodhidharma taught Zen mind. See your own Buddha Nature. “Ken-sho” means to become your own Buddha. In Enno, the sixth patriarch, there is still some philosophical component. But rinzai is completely concrete.
“Transcending Dualism”, penned by D.T. Suzuki is philosophical. Suzuki started me coming to America. Suzuki recommended my second Zen master, ____________, in 1969 to come to America. I went with him to the U.S., but he was already in his 70’s. In 1973, he recommended I come to the States on my own.
I only visit universities, not Zen centers. First, because I am following in D.T. Suzuki’s footsteps. Second, because Zen centers already have their own leaders. D.T. Suzuki realized that Americans are very intellectual. In other words, they like to argue. Indian Buddhism was very philosophical in keeping with the temperament of the Indian people. In China, Buddhism became very concrete because that is how the Chinese were. Japan followed China. D.T. Suzuki made Zen philosophical again – he had to when he came to the United States.
But Rinzai never used such philosophical expressions. Rinzai said, “Zui tsutonich tsukaro” (?) means “Everywhere, all the time, become a master.” Master is a very concrete way to describe a Zen Person, a person who has cut off his ego. Rinzai said, “Soko mokoden” (Now, in front of me) “chubote ni” (listening, that person, to a sermon). I teach, “Here, sitting in front of me, listening, is you!”
Zen is a religion which focuses on Here and Now and Myself. Zen teaches, “Here, Now, How I Myself should live.”
Here is a story for new students. You won’t find it published in any book. It is a story about D.T. Suzuki and his friend, Mr. Siegal. In his later years, D.T. Suzuki taught at Columbia University in New York. While he was in New York, he would stay with his friend, Mr. Siegal. Mr. Siegal had great respect for D.T. Suzuki. He read D.T. Suzuki’s books and practiced sitting. After D.T. Suzuki died, Mr. Siegal wanted to reminisce about D.T. Suzuki, so Mr. and Mrs. Siegal came to Tofuku-ji and we talked about our memories.
D.T. Suzuki stayed at Mr. Siegal’s home, and Mr. Siegal asked D.T. Suzuki, “What is Zen all about?” D.T. Suzuki said nothing. He kept silent. Finally, he just slapped his knee. Mr. Siegal nodded deeply.
Three days later over breakfast, D.T. Suzuki asked Mr. Siegal a question, “Why the hell did you nod deeply like that?” “Well,” Mr. Siegal replied, “Zen is Here and Now, isn’t it?”
Now, we say Zen is, “Here, now, and about myself,” which comes from Rinzai’s, “Now, in front of me, a person listening to a sermon.”
Don’t go to sleep while listening to my sermon!
Zen begins and ends in mushin. Question in mushin. Answer in Mushin. Listen in mushin. When our minds are empty, we can respond to anything in freedom. This is “Samadhi.” Our self, full of illusion, is able to become an enlightened self just as Rinzai said, “You are the theme!”
(End of lecture. Questions from the audience.)
Q: What was your koan, and what was your answer?
A: This is so typical for an American female to stand up and ask about my koan. There are about 1700 Questions. Some of the Questions also have sub-questions. Altogether, there are about 1300 sub-questions, so 3,000 Questions in all. The first 200 Questions are considered fundamental. Just the first two Questions each have about 100 sub-questions.
Through studying, a monk tries to penetrate each Question in turn. It takes between three and seven years to study just the first 200 Questions, and these are the easy ones! To study all 1,700 Questions and 1,300 sub-questions can be completed in as short as ten years, to as long as fifteen years. This must be completed before you can become a Master.
But just answering them doesn’t make you a master. Then a monk must then undergo “Special Training” by himself. He usually returns to his master three times a year during his period of “Special Training.” This “Special Training” continues for at least ten years. So, after ten to fifteen years of koan study plus at least ten years of “Special Training,” a person may become a Master. So it takes a minimum of twenty years of training to become a Master.
I have twenty-five American disciples. For an American disciple, it will take an extra five years. Not because they are less talented than Japanese disciples, but because it will take an extra five years of study so they can read Japanese and Chinese. A disciple must be able to read Japanese and Chinese in order to read the traditional answer to the koan. So it takes at least twenty-five years to train a good American Zen master.
The foundation of Zen training is koan study. In America, there are people who are said to be Zen masters who were trained in as little as seven years! That’s impossible! As far as I know, there are about fifty American Zen masters. Some are incomplete masters. An incomplete Zen master can only train other incomplete Zen masters. This is a problem.
A Japanese Zen master must check the American Zen masters. The Japanese master is like an older brother to the American master like a younger brother. In the next generation, the American Zen masters will teach the next generation.
Generally, Americans like new things. There is nothing wrong with the new, but new forms of Practice aren’t necessarily good forms of Practice. I have heard that some American master has disciples practicing koan over the telephone! In order to practice koan, master and disciple must be face to face! After a monk has penetrated a koan, he is shown the traditional answer for the koan so that he can see how much poorer is his answer and how much richer is the traditional answer. One Question is, “To become a mountain.” How do you ‘become a mountain’ over the phone. There are many ways to become a mountain, so each monk has freedom in that, but the monk has to actually ‘become a mountain’ in front of the master. Phone practice? Ridiculous!
Incomplete masters will eventually die out since…
Q: Why did Rinzai kill the cat?
A: I’ll tell it in three or four years. Believe me, it’s a good story! It’s not just a violent story! But you are not ready to hear it yet.
Q: Do women make good Zen students?
A: Of course! Buddhism began in India and then spread to China. There has been a distinction between monks, nuns, temples, and the lay population. Zen was brought to Japan in the 1200’s. since then, all but one of the historic Zen masters were males. Even today there are only ten female Zen masters. In the U.S., both men and women practice, so there will be equal numbers of male and female Zen masters.
I remember two females participated in intensive training week. They passed it very well. One was slim and one was kind of fat, and everyone thought she would have trouble sitting. During intensive training week we are not supposed to speak, but after a long time, one kind monk leaned over and whispered, “do you give up?” She said, “How about you!” So she passed perfectly!
You are all invited to come to practice – it’s free! Anyone who wants to is welcome to come. You can stay as long as you want. After a few years, if you don’t want to go home, you can stay and become a Zen master yourself!
Q: Can you give an example of one of the 200 fundamental Questions?
A: Americans always ask this. OK, here are three questions from the first 200. Japanese temples are traditionally made of wood, and are supported by many wooden columns. So
- “Enter that pillar.” (this is an easy one)
- “Two people are walking. It begins to rain. One does not get wet. Why?” (this one is easy, too)
- “It is not affirmative. It is not negative. What is it?” (this one is kind of tough)
Once, when I presented these three examples, a man in the audience stood up. He was a professor of philosophy at that university. He said, “I know the answer to the second one: One of them doesn’t get wet because he has an umbrella!” That was the stupidest answer, and only revealed his selfish, unempathic nature. For if he’d had an umbrella, wouldn’t he have shared it with the other person? Then neither would have gotten wet!
Knowing the traditional answer is a great hindrance to Zen. There was an American who studied Zen in Japan with a Japanese master. After he had answered about 500 questions, he returned to the United States and published a book called which presented the first 500 koan along with their traditional answers. If you read the traditional answers before you have answered yourself, it is a great hindrance. You become attached to the traditional answer and won’t be able to give an answer from your experience.
Q: Has any western philosophy interested you?
A: In graduate school, I studied lots of philosophy. Here’s a story…
D. T. Suzuki met with the German philosopher, Heidiger, when I was a freshman. I was reading the first edition of a book co-authored by D.T Suzuki and Prof. Heidiger. There was a photo reproduced in the front of the book with the caption, “D.T. Suzuki and Prof. Heidiger.” When I looked at that picture, I thought that without the caption all you could see was two stubborn old men – D.T. Suzuki was standing on one side looking away from Heidiger, and Heidiger was standing on the other side, looking away from Suzuki.
“Mu.” To exist but not exist. To not exist but exist.” This is difficult for a philosopher. Heidiger said to D.T. Suzuki, “Oh, so, that is Zen?” D.T. Suzuki slapped the table and said, “Yes! That is what I have been trying to explain to you for the past three days!”
Zen is not a philosophy, it is a religion. I worry about this even in Japan. There are some Zen scholars who try, through intellectual understanding, to reduce Zen to a philosophy. It’s not. It’s experiential!
Q: Are there any good Zen masters in the United States?
A: In New York, Roshi . In Los Angeles, Roshi Sasaki. Both are good Zen masters. And John Loren in upstate New York. I haven’t met him face to face, but he sends me his books, and by reputation and by the content of his books, he is a good Zen master. There is one in Maine who is a good Zen master, but I don’t know his name.
It’s easy to tell a good Zen master from an incomplete Zen master. Just ask how long it took to become a Zen master.
Q: How did you choose the Rinzai sect and your master?
A: When I was thirteen, my __________ died and I decided to become a monk because I had learned that if one person became a monk, his whole family would go to heaven. I already knew my master through my family, so I chose him. I could have joined any sect, but because I knew him, I became a Zen monk.
Q: Are there secret teachings in Zen?
A:Some Buddhist sects have secret teachings. The Bui Shingon sect has secret teachings. But Zen has no secrets. Zen is also like “Pure Land” Buddhism which has Amitaba Buddha, and they attain salvation through chanting. Zen is similar to Christianity in dogma, except in Christianity you don’t become God. But in all Buddhism, you finally become Buddha. You have Buddha nature. In the end you become Buddha.