Paula Arai

‘When I was beginning the field research for this book, I had the tremendous good fortune to listen once again to one of Soto Zen’s greatly respected Scholar-Zen masters, Suzuki Kakuzen Roshi. He had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer; although he was in the advanced stages of progression of the disease, he kept up a rigorous teaching schedule. Everyone who saw him during this time commented how he glowed with an incandescent wisdom. He was teaching about the Dharma with an urgency and clarity that surpassed even his brilliant publications and lectures at Komazawa University–the highly prestigious Soto Zen University– where he was a senior professor. I sneaked back to the formal guest quarters (shoin) where he was staying at the Zen nunnery in Nagoya because I sensed this would probably be the last time I would see him (and so it was). Since he had a no-nonsense approach to things, I dared to ask him as he was facing his death what he thought about healing. He responded in this way: “Nobody at Komazawa knows anything about healing. They won’t tell you this there. You must take death as the point of departure to understand healing. It is only then that you will see that you are already healed. This is the vow of Hotoke [Buddha], of Kannon [Bodhisattva of Compassion]. It is not that you pray and then receive the compassion of Kannon. It is only a matter of whether or not you become aware that you are already healed.”‘ (Bringing Zen Home)

This was the third of the books I picked up at Zen Center recently, and the last that I picked up. It is more scholarly than the other two, but I know I am going to find it fascinating.

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