Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts

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Author of this essay:

Abbot John
(May 10, 2005)

by Abbot John

Let me thank all of you from everywhere... from Bologna, Rome, Bucharest, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires, from Kansas City, San Francisco, Sioux Falls, Las Vegas, Gauteng - South Africa, Eugene, Seattle, and Chibi City in Hubei Province, China. I haven't exhausted the list - just my memory's ability.

The planet may have had its ups and downs in 2005, but ZBOHY has remained steady and forward in its trajectory, exactly as Newton said it would... inertia he called it in one of his laws of motion. However much I personally would have preferred another term, inertia it is.

Big Ball

Eight years is a long track record in Zen groups - surely the longest in no-cost Internet Zen groups. Thanks mainly to our inability to get organized, we are able to pride ourselves on not having any dues, subscriptions, salable items, fees of any kind, and, as a notable result of our disorganization which has left us with a Treasurer and a Corporate Charter but no bank account, for not even accepting donations.

We do accept talent... and for this Bob who contributes his haunting poetry; and Jeff who gives us insight into that most ancient of symbols, the snake; and Daniel who takes time away from his engineering desk to create artworks for us; and Scott who uses his artistic talent to heal, instruct, and entertain; and Barry who has devoted so much effort to restoring an ancient Buddhist temple in China, and Kathy who is determined to restore the practical simplicity of Zen - without the need for religious conversion - to Karate; and Sifu Steve whose Lohan Gung Fu school in Chinatown, Las Vegas, has been a hub of that wheel within a wheel that is the martial arts; and to Je whose knowledge of Computer Science has been a special blessing to our efforts; and Mike who is probably the most adept of Zen meditators anywhere in the U.S. and who, thank God, is on our teaching staff; and Giovanni whose photographs and insight into interior martial arts discipline will become even more evident in our upcoming advanced zen text, Assault On The Summit (which is a kind of sequel to the Seventh World of Chan Buddhism); and to Ming Zhen who claims that sitting at her iMac working on all the stuff we send her is making her fat, all I can say is Thank You.

As to the future, ZBOHY and our little website at ZATMA (Zen And The Martial Arts) look forward to having a useful presence on the United States' Karate website where we'll answer questions about Zen that some martial artists may have, as well as contribute some "connective tissue" as Ming Zhen puts it by way of articles about the Samurai and a few notable Japanese film makers, poets, and novelists, as their works relate to the Zen experience.

We also look forward to generating help to Venerable Master Ming Zhao in his efforts to restore Jiang Jun Si, a Tang Dynasty Temple on a beautiful section of the Yangtze River in Hubei Province. The temple had been destroyed during the 1960s Cultural Revolution; and like a field that has lain fallow for many years, it will respond to his cultivation if only he can receive a few of the tools and supplies from us. He hopes to make it the center for Buddhist cultural activity for which it was once famous.

We'll also be publishing the advanced Zen text I previously mentioned. While it will be free, the accessibility may present a challenge. Advanced texts are not the "open to all" programs of Revival Tent meetings; and so we will have to give its distribution some thought.

As to the past, it's been due to all of you that 2005 has been such a very good year for the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun. Needless to say, I am damned proud to have been the Abbot for 2005 and to be re-elected by acclimation for 2006. (When I ventured to ask who it was who acclaimed me, I was told that that person was no longer with the group. I can only hope that the voice that cried out from the wilderness left for reasons other than poor health.)

My sincerest hope is that all of you have found ways to further your quest in the past year and that this year will prove to bring all the blessings of all the Buddhas to you. Don't despair and do be steadfast. It does not serve the interests of prandial conviviality to regurgitate your failures and crowing over your victories only irritates neighbors who like to sleep.

Don't get enmeshed in arguments about methods and schools. Use whatever free time you have to contemplate life's mysteries, to read an essay or two on our website, or to practice any of the lessons we give in our books. Remember this is not psychotherapy we're engaged in. Follow the Buddha's directive. When asked what it was that he was trying to teach he said:

I teach only the reality of suffering, the reasons for it, and the way to end it.

Of the first part, you will need no convincing; of the second part, perhaps a little consideration will suffice; and as to the way to end it, you can consult some of our signposts but the traveling will be by your own legs and you will need all the strength you can summon.

Grace will help. It always does. May you be given more than your share of it.

Abbott John

Humming Bird
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