Dharma Brothers Kodo and Tokujoo

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Try as he might to run from his destiny—and he does try by running away from teachers and monasteries of several sects repeatedly—Tokujoo finally runs straight into his destiny through directed koan practice with his master Kumoshitsu.


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Time after time Tokujoo abandons his responsibilities with the excuse that he is not ready for this or that position of responsibility in a temple because he has limited insight—only to be saddled with another set of responsibilities in his next situation. Each time he runs away he acknowledges that he might have been selfish last time he abandoned his duty, but this time he is following a higher path.


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  4. These are, perhaps, examples of bonno soku bodai , finding wisdom through delusion. The final koan he is assigned has to do with the story ascribed variously to Hunan and Hakuin about a girl who lies that a monk has impregnated her. The monk raises the child without revealing the lie.

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    How Tokujoo wrestles with this koan provides his breakthrough in Book IV. Unlike Kodo, whose purist path leads him to reestablish the ancient practice of shikantaza just sitting , Tukujoo is a modern monk whose path meanders through both koan practice and shikantaza, ending in a combination of the two that reflects his dual vocations of Zen priest and family man. If Kodo is the intellectual monastic who fancies himself iconoclastic, the avuncular Tokujoo is the monk who appears to be a failure by some definitions and yet has the broader experience not only of Zen practice but also of life as it is lived by most of us, a true bodhisattva living in the world.

    That the two monks come to a mutual respect shows the capaciousness of Zen in the real world, even as some in our midst would narrow the path from monastic training to Zen teaching. Labels: reviews.


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    Dharma Brothers Kodo and Tokujoo

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