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  • Distribution Agreement In presenting this thesis or dissertation as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for an advanced degree from Emory University, I hereby grant to Emory University and its agents the non-exclusive license to archive, make accessible, and display my thesis or dissertation in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known, including display on the world wide web. I understand that I may select some access restrictions as part of the online submission of this thesis or dissertation. I retain all ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis or dissertation. Signature: __________________________________ _______________ Kim Boykin Date

  • Teaching Zen to Americans

    by

    Kim Boykin Doctor of Philosophy

    Graduate Division of Religion

    _____________________________________ Wendy Farley

    Co-adviser

    _____________________________________ Gary Laderman

    Co-adviser

    _____________________________________ Eric Reinders

    Committee Member

    _____________________________________ Steven Tipton

    Committee Member

    Accepted:

    _____________________________________ Lisa A. Tedesco, Ph.D.

    Dean of the Graduate School

    _____________________________________ Date

  • Teaching Zen to Americans

    By

    Kim Boykin B.A., Vassar College, 1987

    M.T.S., Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 1996

    Advisor: Wendy Farley, Ph.D. Advisor: Gary Laderman, Ph.D.

    An abstract of a dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the

    James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate Division of Religion

    American Religious Cultures 2010

  • Abstract

    Teaching Zen to Americans By Kim Boykin

    Teachers in the Zen Buddhist tradition have used a variety of strategies for describing Buddhist practice and its relationship to enlightenment or buddhahood. In examining the stream of Mahāyāna Buddhist thought and teaching that leads to and includes Japanese Zen, I find three main varieties of “instrumental” (goal-oriented) descriptions of Buddhist practice as a means to attain enlightenment: (1) practice as a means to attain prajñā (the wisdom of śūnyatā, or emptiness); (2) practice as a means to “uncover” inherent buddha-nature; and (3) practice as a means to “realize” inherent buddha-nature. I also find a “noninstrumental” description of Buddhist practice as manifestation or expression of inherent buddhahood—a description exemplified by the teachings of Dōgen. I then focus on descriptions of practice in three classic texts of American Zen: The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, and Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck. I argue that all teachers in the Zen tradition, even those who describe practice as instrumental for attaining enlightenment, are challenging, to one degree or another, an instrumental orientation to Buddhist practice in particular and life in general—that is, an orientation of striving to attain a goal—and in the American context, Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and Joko Beck’s Everyday Zen offer interesting new pedagogical strategies, challenging the instrumental orientation more strongly than do most of their predecessors other than Dōgen, while also incorporating an instrumental element that Dōgen eschews almost entirely and that is probably important for the instrumentally oriented Zen student.

  • Teaching Zen to Americans

    By

    Kim Boykin B.A., Vassar College, 1987

    M.T.S., Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 1996

    Advisor: Wendy Farley, Ph.D. Advisor: Gary Laderman, Ph.D.

    A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University

    in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    in the Graduate Division of Religion American Religious Cultures

    2010

  • Contents

    1. Introduction 1

    “Practice and Enlightenment”

    Instrumental and Noninstrumental Teachings

    Overview

    Previous Work Related to the Topic

    2. “Practice and Enlightenment” in the Asian Development of Zen 14

    Practice as Instrumental for Attaining Prajñā

    Practice as Instrumental for Uncovering Buddha-nature

    Practice as Instrumental for Realizing Buddha-nature

    Practice as Noninstrumental

    Practice as Both Instrumental and Noninstrumental

    Challenges to Instrumentality

    3. The Modernization and American Immigration of Zen 72

    The Modernization of Buddhism in Japan

  • Buddhism Comes to America

    Modernized Japanese Zen Comes to America

    4. Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen 98

    The Three Pillars of Zen and the Popularization of the Practice of Zen

    Practice as Instrumental for Attaining Prajñā

    Practice as Instrumental for Realizing Buddha-nature

    Practice as Instrumental for Realizing Buddha-nature and as

    a Manifestation of Buddhahood?

    Two Truths about Practice

    How to Practice to Attain Enlightenment

    Stressing the Instrumental

    5. Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind 138

    Shunryu Suzuki and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

    Descriptions of Practice in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

    Suzuki’s Complex Presentation of Practice

    How to Practice to Resume One’s Buddha-nature

    Suzuki’s Integration of the Instrumental and Noninstrumental

    6. Charlotte Joko Beck’s Everyday Zen 167

    Charlotte Joko Beck and Everyday Zen

    Practice as Instrumental for Attaining Prajñā

    Practice as Instrumental for Realizing the Perfection of Things as They Are

    Two Truths about Practice?

    How to Practice to Realize the Perfection of Things as They Are

  • Joko’s Integration of the Instrumental and Noninstrumental

    7. Conclusion 197

    Challenges to Instrumentality in the Asian Development of Zen

    Challenges to Instrumentality in Modern American Zen

    Appendix: Ch’an/Zen Lineage Chart 204

    References 208

  • 1

    1

    Introduction

    “PRACTICE AND ENLIGHTENMENT”

    A perennial issue in the thought and teaching of Zen Buddhism is the tension

    between two basic teachings of the tradition. First, Zen teaches that all beings inherently

    have the nature of buddhas—awakened or enlightened beings. Second, Zen teaches that

    we need to engage in practices such as meditation, listening to the teacher’s talks, and

    following the moral precepts. But if the ultimate aim of Zen is buddhahood and all beings

    inherently have the nature of buddhas, why does one need to engage in the practices of

    Zen, practices that can require a great deal of effort and discipline? Why exert oneself in

    this way if not as a means to attain buddhahood?

    This question plagued the young Dōgen, who would later found the Sōtō school

    of Zen in Japan, and led him on a journey from Japan to China in search of an answer.

    Buddhist scholar Francis Dojun Cook renders Dōgen’s question as “If one is in fact a

  • 2

    Buddha right now, why practice at all?”1 and Zen teacher Philip Kapleau renders it as

    “‘If, as the sutras say, our Essential-nature is Bodhi (perfection), why did all Buddhas

    have to strive for enlightenment and perfection?’”2

    This issue in Zen teaching—the tension between teaching the importance of

    practice and teaching that beings are inherently buddhas—is sometimes referred to as

    “practice and enlightenment.” This tension could be seen as a sort of doctrinal or

    metaphysical or philosophical issue in Zen teaching: how to philosophically reconcile a

    claim that beings inherently have the nature of buddhas with a claim that practice is

    necessary. But this tension can also be seen as an issue about how Zen students engage in

    Zen practice, or orient themselves toward Zen practice, and this practical and pedagogical

    angle is what especially interest me.

    On the one hand, Zen teachers sometimes stress the importance of engaging in the

    practice of Zen, encouraging an attitude of effort and discipline and, usually, of striving

    to attain a goal—the goal of enlightenment. On the other hand, Zen teachers sometimes

    stress that buddha-nature, or the nature of an enlightened being, is inherent in everyone,

    encouraging an attitude of acceptance and letting be and letting go of a supposed need to

    strive to attain a goal. Scholar John McRae, in examining teachings on “the basic attitude

    one that should be adopted toward Buddhist spiritual cultivation,” calls this issue “a

    notoriously refractory subject.”3

    I have struggled with the refractory subject of “practice and enlightenment”