Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Those Nice Buddhists Again

In an extract from his book A Rare and Precious Thing: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Working with a Spiritual Teacher, John Kain recalls a story told him by his teacher John Daido Loori Roshi. The extract appears in the latest issue of Tricycle:

Daido Roshi is a tall, lanky, olive-skinned Italian American from Jersey City, New Jersey, with the requisite Buddhist shaved head . . . He's telling me a story about his late Japanese teacher, Maezumi Roshi . . .

"I'd been living at the Zen Center for a number of years," he told me. "The practice was hard . . . but I loved it and came, after time, to have confidence in my own spiritual wisdom. At some point I figured that I'd come to understand death. So during a private and casual conversation I told Maezumi I'd sorted out the whole death thing."

"Maezumi looked me straight in the eye and said, 'So you've figured out the great matter of life and death, have you?'" Daido continued. "Before I could answer, he leapt from his seat, knocked me to the floor, and began choking me. At first I began to laugh. I'm big, and Maezumi is a little guy, so I wasn't that worried. But quickly it got very hard to breathe and I could feel the ends of his fingers pushing deeper into my windpipe. I began to choke and sputter and I realized that Maezumi was serious, so I began to struggle, but he was incredibly strong. Without thinking, I managed a roundhouse right punch to Maezumi's jaw and knocked him to the floor. He didn't stop laughing for five minutes and then said, 'Conquered death! Ha!' I had bruises on my neck for a week."

Presumably this is where Steven Seagal learned his Buddhism.

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