Master Dharma Talks From Mt. Baldy
“Seasoned practitioners will find Manifesting Zen an exciting invitation to drop any vestiges of complacency, to investigate further, to enter into “no-conflict samadhi,” and to realize that we cannot dwell there. Beginning students will be inspired to find out for themselves what it means to go beyond ideas and concepts, to rely upon their own inner light, as the Buddha called us to do, and to continue on the path with a no-knowing mind. The Introduction by editor Kendō Hal Roth, who practiced under Jōshū Rōshi for forty-two years, is a masterful presentation of key Buddhist principles, as well as a personal tribute to Jōshū Rōshi’s original, unconventional way of teaching. . . .
Jōshū Rōshi’s articulation of the process of expansion and contraction in Dharma activity suggests nuclear fission and fusion. He exhorts us to dive into the manifestation of the vibrant self that is liberated from personality, to break through the usual constraints and fixed perspectives of human consciousness. With uncompromising yet compassionate directness, he says his intention as a teacher is ‘to give birth to a lot of people who do not make themselves sick’ by holding onto the incomplete self, ‘the self that has will and desire.’ . . . Thank you, Kyōzan Jōshū Sasaki, for encouraging us all to dissolve the self and, in so doing, manifest the complete self. Thank you, Kendō Hal Roth, for your diligent work in making these radical teachings available to Zen students everywhere.”
“Jōshū Sasaki was one of a small handful of mid-twentieth century Japanese Zen masters who left their home culture to devote their lives to Zen students in the West. Thick and compact as a bowling ball, he kept to a rigorous Zen routine well past his 100th birthday, having spent more than half his life teaching in America. Part round-and-round explanation, part patient demonstration, informal, challenging, compassionate, improvised, his energetic sesshin (retreat) talks inspired generations of students, expressing Sasaki’s unique approach to a lively tradition as it was being established on new ground. Although his last years were marred by the surfacing of long-standing allegations of sexual misconduct, which caused pain to many, his words—here recorded and wonderfully edited and introduced by his senior disciples—clearly express the Dharma gift he crossed the ocean to give.”
“This treasury, beautifully edited and framed, introduces us to the heart of the elusive Sasaki Rōshi, the audacious tiger who established Rinzai Zen in America. Reluctant to publish, he nevertheless authorized his student, Hal Roth, to share these remarkable teachings after his death at 107. The result is extraordinary.”
“What’s recorded here is something extraordinary and rare: a completely new way to think about enlightened consciousness. Sasaki Rōshi describes the experience of Zen adepts in terms of spontaneous, effortless expansion and contraction in both perception (what you see, hear, and feel) and expression (how you think, speak, and move). He presents this as a grand theory of everything, a point of view that connects consciousness and human relationships to the nature of nature itself. That’s a big claim. But this much I can say with confidence: pedagogically speaking, Sasaki’s paradigm of expansion and contraction solves several problems that commonly come up for students. Specifically, it helps students get over the perception of a fixated meditator doing an observing practice. Also, it provides a precise and tangible way to talk about the oneness of form and void. On a more speculative note, the Zen concept of Original Mind (aka your Buddha nature) may correspond to what a neuroscientist would call early sensory-motor processing. Early sensory-motor processing likely arises through a free energy change. And free energy change is part of the way science defines ‘spontaneity.’ So it’s possible that the practice of Zen, which can sometimes seem a bit mystical, is in fact deeply connected to some sharply defined and fundamental notions in the physical sciences.”