Friday, 26 August 2016

Henry Shukman

                Henry Shukman of the Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe spent a long while looking for an appropriate teacher. Finally he met John Gaynor at the Oxford Zen Center originally established by Sister Elaine MacInnes. I asked Henry how long he worked with Gaynor, and he told me:           
                “Well, I’m actually still with him. I still sit with him. That’s something that I liked, that he too still had his teacher, whom he was seeing regularly. I believe that is a significant difference from other places I’d been, where the teachers had been cut loose—or had cut themselves loose—and were sort of meteors floating around on their own without any real backup let alone any people they were answerable to. This may be one of the most important problems in contemporary American Zen, the breaking-away of teachers from their own teachers. No doubt people can get into situations where it may seem they have no choice. And their teacher may die, of course. But the cost to the very young Dharma in this country of some teachers having rather recklessly broken from theirs may be immeasurable. When I found John, one reason it felt so much better with him was precisely that true sense of lineage, which, for me, means an on-going relationship; it doesn’t just mean a picture of an ancestor on a wall. He, to this day, is not really anything other than a student even though he’s a marvelous teacher.”

[Henry Shukman – Cypress Trees in the Garden: 145-154, 173, 174, 213, 377, 473]
[See also: Mountain Cloud Zen Center]

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