May 30th, 1998, Serial No. 01800

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Gil (Intro)

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as i've been learning about suzuki roshi in the last a year one of the remarkable things that to
for me has been the tremendous cultural difference between his upbringing in japan and and when he came to in america and the late fifties and sixties and early seventies i i can almost can't almost imagine more separate different kind of cultures and it wasn't just simply a japanese culture
a of of the time but he came out of a very poor rural part of japanese culture that seemingly was very traditional and now and i think in order to understand suzuki roshi i think we need to understand little bit
that background that he came out of and so today we have richard jaffe and cornmeal felt who will talk little bit about that background richard jaffe with a student at zen center for many years was the director at tassajara
and then he went off to get a phd in buddhist studies and he did did a dissertation on a on soto's n or of the meiji period of about one hundred years ago is particularly looking at how are these priests and end up getting married
and he's made me going to touch on that little bit today and is a great privilege that their richard is here
also i might say that we have appear in the front
images of suzuki roshi teachers

got a clerk nice prominent placed for prominently here i see as because a warning
i'll try to keep my remarks brief it's a pleasure to be here one correction or are one or two corrections to gills comments i wasn't director at tassajara i was ten zo and i have to honestly say i still feel like i'm on vacation now that i'm no longer ten zone at tassajara i felt that way about it a few cases

in in many ways although i don't have response was quite the right word but suzuki roshi is in in in some way responsible for the the topic i chose is my my dissertation is go pointed out to you like karl of my path to becoming up a i'm a buddhist scholar which instead
bentley robert thurman his is a recently written or said in an interview that a scholar is kind of western analog to the mungkin in tibet in other cultures i've been i don't know about that but well i guess incense sense that i'll be poor for the rest of my life it's probably are some element of truth there
nonetheless my path to becoming a scholar lead through zen center where i did spend a number of years and
my arriving exist and are really came about in part because i stumbled on a copy of his in mind beginner's mind when i was eighteen picking it up off the library shelf the university of michigan thinking it was another book by d t suzuki i grabbed it and read it and liked it and it stayed with me and in fact
it served as a catalyst for my own research and there's one passage in particular that i'd like to read you from the epilogue that really became the the seed for what what grew into my dissertation it's a passage the beginning of the epilogue which rick referred to in his talk i were a sissy girl
she says here in america we cannot define zen buddhists the same way we do in japan
american students are not priests and yet not completely laming i understand it this way that you are not priests is an easy matter but you that you are not exactly layman is more difficult i think you are special people and want some special practice that is not exactly priests practice and not exactly layman's practice
you are on your way to discovering some appropriate way of life i think that is our and community our group
the title of my dissertation the the which i'm hoping eventually to get published ominous the feminine remain a scholar is neither monk nor layman and when i read this passage by suzuki roshi i didn't realize it but he's actually alluding to a very famous statement of shin rods were ron refers to himself
self as being having taken a wife and now being no longer monk nor layman that he's a the stubble haired one who's neither monk nor layman so it's a kind of illusion to to shimmer on and the passage intrigued me and as i practice to zeus and or i
he wrestled with the question of what exactly does it mean to be a priest when you no longer are differentiated from lay people with this fundamental difference of of being a celebrate or at least unmarried and
as i spent years studying this problem the emergence of the married clergy in japan it also as i think about suzuki roshi life it it it dawned on me that
in some ways he's not just talking about us he's talking about himself and he's talking about japanese soto clergy about japanese buddhist priests from all the monastic denominations in general that they are really are neither a monk nor layman now and so in some ways the problem that he's talk
about us wrestling with is a problem that he wrestled with and it's important to understand the background out of which he came in order to really i think understand his teaching
now my study of clerical marriage in japan sort of impelled me to take a look at the the the origins of of their practice and i i've limited myself in my study to the period starting around eighteen sixty eight i touch on some stuff alone
but before that but basically deal with the period from eighteen sixty eight until the war and then a little bit on the postwar period
and one of the first things i noticed when i began to look at this material was there really wasn't much that there's a gap and japanese scholars and most of us western scholars who followed in their footsteps of tended to take a look at
either modern japanese buddhism and people like suzuki roshi for even a current generation of teachers or people like a dog and back in the medieval period and there's a kind of connection between today and medieval period and this whole intervening period is something of a black hole and one of the
nice things about a conference like this is that we actually can talk a little bit about how it came about have we got from this period this go so-called golden age to today and the kind of forms and practices that we see in japanese buddhism today that have been transmitted to this country
in fact as as i found in in in my research
in many ways that the japanese clergy in japanese buddhism as we know it today is really a product of a massive re-engineering that took place in buddhism at the around in the late nineteenth century beginning around eighteen sixty eight at the time of the meiji restoration
in fact i think that without these changes that these changes had not occurred
it's quite possible that suzuki roshi wouldn't have been born
that his descendants his fans familial descendants would not have remained in control of in serene that we would not refer to him in any case is suzuki you and that he would not have come to united states
the soto shoe itself would also have quite a different structure it not been for these changes
we wouldn't be talking about so gg and ag as to head temples with one essence and we wouldn't be talking about what is now the largest single denomination in japan
it would not be headed by a single chief abbot or concho the position which alternates between so gg in a haiti
it would not be comprised around ninety percent married clerics as it is today many of these changes many of these institutional structures that we see i really a product of
the meiji period and changes that were instituted in the meiji period and i think it's important to see suzuki roshi not just as a pioneer here in the united states but actually in by default he and his generation in many ways were pioneers in japan they were of had thrust upon them a situ
ation that was knew they were he was in the first generation of a openly married the child of an openly married a buddhist soto cleric for example and so and was dealing with all these institutional changes so in these ways he actually
was sort of exposed to a kind of change and openness of situation that i think served and probably in good stead when he came to united states are the the having to wing it here may have been a little easier for the fact that he'd grown up among a generation of soto clerics that had to pretty much wing it
well a large extent had to wing it in japan because of all these changes
well what are some of the ways in which ah
a cleric like suzuki roshi would have been affected by these changes what kind of interventions and withdraws and changes took place in the meiji period and how did soto zen as we know today really get built during that time
i'll let me just add a little note here that there really was no one soto response to these changes either that soto shoe was something that eighteen eighties there was something like fourteen thousand soto temples in japan probably about twelve thousand six hundred abbott's
and there were a lot of very diverse responses to these changes different reactions to these changes that were taking place but one of the changes that i think would have had an impact on suzuki roshi life in japan is the overwhelming loss of status now status really can mean a lot of things there's a
kind of informal status a respected you receive from the laity from the non buddhist world is as as a result of being a monk and are a cleric and over the hundreds of years the edo period the tokugawa period in japan up until eighteen sixty eight the buddhist clergy have been losing that sort of status
what i'm referring to more pointedly here is that formal status that is formal recognition by the state was also lost at the beginning of the meiji period by the buddhist clergy in an effort to modernize japan the the system of status that had been in place in
which the buddhist clergy were placed relatively high and were almost quasi government officials with a whole number of
perquisites that came with that position for example lenient treatment for minor legal missteps
responsibility for taking care of census related issues ah
freedom from certain states service and so on those sorts of privileges were all lost at the beginning of the meiji period by the buddhist clergy
all legal recognition during the meiji period for ordination
in effect becoming a monk went from being a public act in which one was changing one's actual officials status in society shifted to being just an occupational choice like becoming a brick mason a funeral home director
at school teacher it was a private decision it became a private decision
at the same time the clergy were also also lost the deferment from the draft
and they lost the ability to run for public office when elected assemblies came into being in the mid eighteen eighties in japan
another important factor that again the fact that we call suzuki roshi suzuki roshi that came about in meiji as well in eighteen seventy two the buddhist clergy were ordered to take surnames now this may not seem like that big a deal but again
for hundreds of years in east asia and as a practice in japan the clergy had abandoned their family name had left the family household register and became part of the clerical family when they were ordained when they underwent shoot kit which literally means leaving home i and that's one of the important things about leaving home is that you give up
your identification with the family well at the start of the meiji period the government ordered all the clergy to take surnames
it was in order to circumvent this law for it by this order to take surnames
just a little side note here that a number of people took the name surname shaku which means shocking money the japanese for shock shock you running like shock was showing the teacher of a d t suzuki took the name shocker was his surname
there was also some clerics as a way of protesting this decision took the surname jiegu the indian and one cleverly guy who could york i took the name fukuda which translates as
a field of merit his name fukuda as his surname as a pretty to a field of merit a good name for for a cleric as well as one way of circumventing this this requirement suzuki roshi his father so gakuen who became a habit of his own eaten in eighteen around eighteen ninety one
i would have been among the first generation of clerics to keep his surname after ordination
and suzuki roshi would have been among the second generation to keep their surname when they were or ordained
and that brings me to another major change in the one that i devoted a lot of energy to over the last few years and that is that suzuki roshi was born in a temple openly
it was legal in the eyes of the meiji authorities it had not been legal during the edo period it was prohibited and in fact that we're very very severe punishments for a cleric who openly for indicated or hand relations liaisons with a woman or lived with a woman
exile beheading
i were among the penalties or public exposure where you'd be made to kneel in some public place for a long period of time to be derided by the city by the subjects
we're all penalties for a cleric who'd been caught fornicating if the state decided to actually enforce the rules at that time in eighteen seventy two the government however the meiji government passed the law that basically decriminalized a marriage law stated in and this is a a try
buddhist clerics shall be free to eat meat mary grow their hair and so on furthermore there shall be no penalty if they were ordinary clothing when not engaged in religious activities
there was enormous protest among the buddhists in japan against that law particularly people like a older clerics like fukuda yokai the more conservative clerics who felt that it really was going to destroy buddhism and as a result the government sort of backed away from its original position around eighteen seventy eight and what the government
did was they basically said okay you guys are complaining so much about this you decide what you want your clerics to do should they marry or not it's up to you this was an eighteen seventy eight and in the wake of that clarification policy one of the sternest measures taken against clerical marriage
was in the soto shoe actually
which by eighteen eighty five adopted a law that banned the lodging of women and temples and in that law it also stated that as before marriage of the soto clergy would be completely banned
that last state on the books until
nineteen oh six when it finally without a word of comment from the soto establishment disappeared from the regulations there was never a positive statement made it's okay to marry it's okay to have live with a woman temple but the law prohibiting that the the sec law prohibiting disappeared from the books
as a result when suzuki roshi father married when suzuki roshi his father and mother gave birth to him on his mother gave birth to him and that was all in violation of a law sec law that was on the books for the so doshi
now they weren't the only wants to disregard this rule disregard for this rule was widespread and in fact by late meiji by the end of the meiji period around the nineteen eleven as best as i can determine something like half of the soto clergy were already married and many of them in an indirect this regard of this
to this rule and how sternly was ever enforced by the soto leadership is is very very unclear but having been born into a temple family at the turn of the century the a suzuki roshi was would have had an impact upon for one thing the temples were very very poor this was partially result of of other major policies that have been
an inactive by the state of stripping of the temples of their lands and so on
the situation the lot of temple families when he was a boy was a very very difficult one i let me quote here from a newspaper article published by a chromosome a university professor who was an advocate of open marriage it was trying to get the denomination to change its policies describing the lot of temple families at once
suzuki roshi was youngest was written in nineteen eleven
a guy named motto gamma professor mater yamas how is identified in this article and it reads most of those who are members of temple for households are miserable individuals they are wretched old maids forced into marriage he's talking about the wives now or they are former licensed prostitutes who serve as
die cooker other the woman in the kitchen die cook was the god of kitchen woman in the kitchen a wife of a mock kind of a slang for the wife of a monk the temple household is an ephemeral thing the temple wife is not a legal wife taken through proper procedures she is a defacto wife or she is manipulated as
if she were a mistress the temple household is a pitiable sad thing if the abbot were to die his wife and children would not be given the means to provide for themselves the worst thing is that outsiders will gang up on the family and forcibly transferred all of the so-called temple possessions to the next abbott they really had the wife had no rights to remain in
the temple showed her husband i she wasn't really a legal wife and oftentimes these women were just thrown out destitute to fend for themselves but two or three children should the next abbott decide they didn't want them in the temple
if the successor such as despise a female success of the widow than that especially as the end for he will happily find an excuse to dismiss her naked and barefoot it was that way in the past is that way now and it will probably be that way in the future
the children also where the subject of derision and again this is something that does suzuki roshi would have encountered as a boy going to school education was compulsory it was clear he was from a temple household he would have been teased and derided as as the son of a priest he was in the eyes of many pro
parishioners in the eyes of many people a bastard basically because clerical marriage was still a legitimate and illegitimate in the eyes of many people writing his latest nineteen seventeen there's another a soto clerical became a habit of so gg a man named i'm a tie on who was in favor of opened acknowledge
judgment of clerical marriage he wrote about the children and the wives in the following way he said that quote the children born at temples are called venerable rahul the name of of shakyamuni son kind of teasingly the temple wife and mother of the children is called princess just showed her the wife of
shock him of said arthur or it is common to call her diet coke or bonsai meaning buddhist wife not that little trees
they endure vehement reproaches the truly are the extremes of insult are these not undivided unavoidable phenomenon during the transitional period in which the problem of clerical marriage remains unresolved
these problems continued well into the nineteen thirties and
at that time and nineteen thirty eight something like eighty one percent there was a survey down on the sofa school eighty one percent of the clergy had married and it was finally at that time they had some soto regulations were put into place that actually legitimated at least succession from father to son in the temple
to blood descendant
and made provisions for the wife should the husband die before the sun could take over the temp that was in nineteen thirty eight or so when that took place now i'm running out of time your that's one of these big changes that would very much been part and parcel of
suzuki roshi his life now what he made of that what he thought of this how he experienced it is it's an open question for me
and something that may be people who've been working on his biography may know something about but in any case it must have been a big influence now just briefly organizationally the sort of shoe had changed in dramatic ways as well as i mentioned to you at the start of the meiji period the government
in an effort to centralize buddhist institutions created buddhism as we know today so of structures we know it today they created the system of chief abbot with each denomination
ten directions i saw on each having a chief abbot in charge of that denomination with a sect headquarters a shoe mucho in tokyo at first actually the meiji government only had seven there were seven denominations and for example they must have figured you've seen one zen school you've seen them all because
since i soto and the third school of of japanese then obama who all had one a chief abbot and that quickly broke down there were so much disagreement about do you know how to even go about choosing the chief a habit for are three
that by eighteen seventy four rings and soto had gone their separate ways and by eighteen seventy six or barker was a school but that whole centralization under a chief abbot who would then it with a committee draft uniform sect law would draft
compose the sectarian organization of the ranks of abbott's and so on all of that is is a change that would have taken place shortly before suzuki roshi was was born
one bit to fall out from this that he certainly would have been privy to and would have had an influence on him is the rivalry that it reignited between so gg and a haiti which he want to spend any time in japan know is still exists the eight there's incredible disdain of for so gg monks by ag monks often times and
vice versa
the people are from one segment or and other there's incredible tension there that manifests from time to time
the other issue that i'd like to just mentioned briefly that i think may have are certainly did he have an impact was the growing conservatism of the so ta school douglass of zero she's lifetime through the meiji period and on into up to the the end of the war
oh and by conserve is my mean support for imperialist ventures active support for japan's imperial as ventures in asia in korea support for the annexation of korea mission ising in korea de soto who took a very prominent position in that
effort and in fact one a haiti monk that one suzuki roshi was at a haiti he held up as a bit of an example caetano campo in nineteen eleven was appointed the second supervisor of missionary activity in korea i went suzuki roshi was a young boy
that bugbear of socialism and anarchism really was beaten out of the soto school lena
soto monk named which yama goodell who was an anarchist communist who was wrongly implicated in the plot twists in a plot to assassinate the emperor
he was put to death in nineteen eleven and suzuki roshi would have been seven at the time whether or not he remembered it or not i is is very very difficult to say of course probably not but this are growing conservatism as the soto she really joined arms linked arms with the state i would say
certainly have been a major factor played a major factor in in the environment in which suzuki roshi
came to maturity so with that i've gone over by a few minutes i i'd like to stop and we can open us up for further questions later but i i i do think it's important to emphasize that
all of these changes he that there really weren't forms for dealing with temple succession with being a married cleric
with these new institutional structures and so he came of age learning how to deal with those and i think that that's certainly must have made him a little more adept in agile when he came
the united states and and where there were he's even more chaos and fewer forms for him to turn to stuff i'll stop there thank you very much for your attention