Hakuin Walks into his Therapist’s Office for a Family Session with Dogen…

Hakuin Walks into his Therapist’s Office for a Family Session with Dogen… April 7, 2012

But it turns out they don’t have any real conflict after all so they end the session early with a long tender stare, an explosive fist bump, and a warm (yet pelvis inverted) hug. Then they go out for sake.

More on that in a minute.

First, though, I want to note that my last post, “Did Hakuin Need Therapy?” was kidnapped by pirates over at Zen Forum International and as of this writing has had 900-some views and 90-some comments.

I skimmed through the comments for those that support or assault my self-serving dream and wasn’t disappointed, especially in the latter case. Apparently, I write these things for admiration (it isn’t working so well) and donations (not working so well either but there is a PayPal button over on the right side bar in case you’d like to rectify that – I threw it up in a particularly difficult financial period and I invite you to exercise it liberally).

No offense taken.

Nevertheless, the interest in the “Did Hakuin Need Therapy?” post is surprising to me. In my world, therapy is a wonderful, normal thing (given the right time, place, therapist, and client willing to work). And because there are few things I enjoy more than sitting around and talking about myself, I’ve done a bunch.

Also, don’t you know, a lot of what I say here is “tongue in cheek.” I’ve even been accused of being way too glib for a Zen priest. Having given up being holier than you (whoops, maybe not!), all I can say is, “Guilty as charged.”

I have wondered a bit if those who think Hakuin didn’t need therapy, need therapy. However, I don’t want to go all Brad Warner on you so will just move on.

In all seriousness, I meant old Hakuin no offense nor did I intend to diminish his enormous contribution to our practice.

So here’s the second point of this post – Hakuin’s work is not in conflict with Dogen’s (as is commonly believed) but is more like a software upgrade or two.

First and foremost, Hakuin and his successors clearly and precisely defined the essence of practicing enlightenment and with stunning brilliance that I believe would even awe the great Dogen, operationalized it. They also organized the koan system, especially the checking questions and miscellaneous koans, so that we too could clearly and precisely re-discover what practicing enlightenment is all about.

Secondly, Hakuin’s humanity is so available to us today through his rolling discourses, rough letters, and his powerful paintings and calligraphy. He viscerally brings Zen, the same-one Zen of Dogen, down to earth.

The Rinzai vs. Soto spats of the past few hundred years don’t need to be replicated here now in the global culure. But if they are, we would be better served by going to therapy together than hanging onto “whose founder is bigger?” arguments for another few hundred years.

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