Arthur Braverman

A Monk and a Zendo, by Arthur Braverman

The Japanese worship tragic heroes, and I’m afraid some of that romanticism has rubbed off on me. He had a quiet dignity, even in difficult times, that I always admired. Though he may not have been a confident teacher, he persevered when others would have thrown in the towel. I think that even his lack of confidence appealed to me; having seen so many teachers over the years whose confidence seemed to be nothing more than self-deception…

The Community, by Arthur Braverman

These intensive meditation retreats, though somewhat mechanical themselves, seem to be designed to awaken you from mechanical, unaware existence. Long and consecutive days of intensive zazen require new ways of dealing with physical and mental pain, boredom, and fear…

Motoko Ikebe, by Arthur Braverman

Historically, the Japanese have considered women to be the proper interpreters of the teaching of the gods. In fact, the first spiritual and political leader of Japan on record was Himiko (or Pimiko), a queen whose authority was based on her religious or magical powers. She was a Shaman who the Chinese chronicles describe as unmarried with a thousand women attendants and one man, and who spent her time with magic and sorcery. She was a mediator between the people and their gods…

Zazen is Buddha

That’s true (laughs). My teacher said that I should go to Eiheiji, not for practice but to see what it’s like there. You hear Eiheiji, Eiheiji, all the time and you think it must be an extraordinary place, but you go there and see it for yourself and you realize that it is nothing special — ‘This is all it is?’ Then you can relax and get down to practising. That’s the reality, isn’t it?