Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Enlightenment of All

I thought this might be of interest:

Open Zen Recognizes Enlightenment of All

04/01/2006 Sutton, PA. Martin Lloyd Roshi is not what you might expect from a Zen Master. His rather nasal voice, thick retro-style glasses, New York accent, and anxious manner seem to contrast with the stereotype.

“I just saw a need for a modern American Zen to reflect our values, not transplant the social hierarchy of Japan here.” He says with enthusiasm, while sipping a cup of what I hope is decaffeinated coffee. “We need the freedom to be enlightened!”

Martin Roshi studied Buddhism for many years before founding the Open Zen School. “I tried to make progress in the old system, but the doors were closed. That's why I call it 'Open' Zen.” He makes an expansive gesture when he says “open” that is genuinely welcoming. “Not 'Closed' Zen, that exists only to maintain a hierarchy of a few, while the rest of us chop wood and carry water.”

After his last attempt to be recognized as an enlightened teacher in the Zen tradition failed in 2003, Martin Roshi was “devastated.”

“I hardly got out of bed for weeks,” he confides. “They ended up kicking me out of the monastery. It was then that I realized that this wasn't the way enlightened people acted. I mean, they're supposed to be 'enlightened,' right?”

That epiphany lead Martin Roshi to the radical idea of founding a new Zen School, one that would follow an open egalitarian model. “Not to talk about enlightenment as something you need to get, and to try to do things to get it. I wanted a place to be enlightened. And it worked! I went from hardly getting out of bed to being very happy. My level of enlightenment didn't change, only the recognition of it changed.”

“I'm offering an alternative to hierarchical Zen. That branch (hierarchical Zen) can be seen as the right arm of the second Patriarch, and Open Zen can be seen as the left.”

While membership in the Open Zen School has not grown significantly, Martin Roshi is proud of his accomplishments and optimistic about the future. “It's about empowering people to be enlightened. If they get everything they need out of my Introduction to Open Zen class with their installation as Roshi at the end, then that's great!”


jp said...

Interesting! Do you have a link to the article?

Rev. Troy said...


Adaire said...

So it exists in the Zen world too. People always say they don't want someone telling them what to do but true enlightenment, sometimes involves realizing that that's what they have been subjecting themselves to and that they just need to stop.