Shozan Jack Haubner is the pen name of a Zen monk who has written two books and a number of essays for The Sun, Tricycle, Buddhadharma, Lion's Roar and the New York Times, and the Best Buddhist Writing series. He won the Pushcart Prize in 2012. Haubner's books, portions of which have been excerpted in essays, present partially fictionalized accounts of life with Kyozan Joshu Sasaki and associated Rinzai-Ji zen centers.
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I thought I wanted his love, but really I wanted his pity. I wanted to quit. But he wouldn't let me. "A good doctor can cure your illness, but only the greatest doctor can show you you were never sick," Roshi has said.
You'd never walk into the forest with the radio blasting and expect wild animals to appear by your side. Yet it never occurs to you to unplug the inner jukebox and get quiet inside so that a natural, organic state of mind can reorganize you and your life from within.
Zen attacks that one last thing you hold dear: your precious self-conception. It unravels any notion of a freestanding, unconditional "I" and shows it to be a lie, a fabrication, a construction. True realization, the old masters tell us, takes bone-crushing effort. We pulverize the very skeleton of ego—upon which the meat and skin and organs of our illusions hang—and we do it through intense, hurtle-yourself-off-the-cliffs-and-into-the-chasm practice.
The Qabalists believed that the universe was created from sound. Thus by reciting sacred sounds, changes or transformations of matter could take place. Healing could simply consist of reinvoking those sacred sounds in the body. . . . Perhaps this is what the shamans do when they chant.