Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexually as

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

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Part 1 of 2

Can Killing a Living Being Ever Be an Act of Compassion? The analysis of the act of killing in the Abhidhamma and Pali Commentaries
by Rupert Gethin
Centre for Buddhist Studies
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Bristol



Abstract: In the Theravadin exegetical tradition, the notion that intentionally killing a living being is wrong involves a claim that when certain mental states (such as compassion) are present in the mind, it is simply impossible that one could act in certain ways (such as to intentionally kill). Contrary to what Keown has claimed, the only criterion for judging whether an act is “moral” (kusala) or “immoral” (akusala) in Indian systematic Buddhist thought is the quality of the intention that motivates it. The idea that killing a living being might be a solution to the problem of suffering runs counter to the Buddhist emphasis on dukkha as a reality that must be understood. The cultivation of friendliness in the face of suffering is seen as something that can bring beneficial effects for self and others in a situation where it might seem that compassion should lead one to kill.1

Killing and Buddhist Ethics

In a number of contexts, the discourses of the Buddha that have come down to us in the four Pali Nikayas present the act of killing a living being as an unwholesome (akusala) act and, as such, to be avoided. The first of the ten courses of unwholesome action (akusala-kammapatha) is “to kill living beings.” The third of the eight elements that make up the Buddha’s eightfold path is “right action”; one of the three forms that right action takes is “refraining from killing living beings.” The first of the five precepts or “rules of training” (sikkhapada) that are undertaken by all lay Buddhists takes the form, “I undertake the rule of training to refrain from harming living beings.” The ten courses of unwholesome action, the eightfold path, and the five precepts are all standard elements in the teaching of the Buddha as presented in the Pali Nikayas. But we also find the injunction not to kill or harm living beings spelled out in other ways and in specific contexts. Let me cite just two of the many possible examples. In the Brahmajala Sutta we are told how the Buddha “refrains from killing living creatures, discards sticks and swords, and is considerate and full of concern, remaining sympathetic and well disposed towards all creatures and beings.”2 And a verse from the Suttanipata (394) states, “Laying aside violence in respect of all living beings in the world, both those which are still and those which move, he should not kill a living creature, not cause to kill, nor allow others to kill.”3 In the Cula-Kammavibhanga Sutta we are told of the results of killing living beings:

Some man or woman kills living beings and is murderous, has blood on his hands, is given to blows and violence, is without pity for living beings. Because of performing and carrying out such action, at the breaking up of the body, after death he reappears in a state of misfortune, an unhappy destiny, a state of affliction, hell.4

The well known Metta Sutta or “discourse on friendliness,” a text frequently chanted in Buddhist ritual and considered one that brings protection or safety (paritta), sums up the positive corollary of not killing living beings as follows:

One should not wish another pain out of anger or thoughts of enmity. Just as a mother would protect with her life her own son, her only son, so one should cultivate the immeasurable mind towards all living beings and friendliness towards the whole world.5

So, prima facie, the picture is clear: killing living beings — any living being — is a bad thing that leads to an unpleasant rebirth; following the Buddha’s path involves refraining from killing living beings, laying aside weapons, and cultivating the compassion of the Buddha — end of story. But, one might ask, are all kinds of killing the same? Is there not a difference between killing a human being and squashing a mosquito? And what of our motivations in killing? Is “putting down” an ailing cat or dog not rather different from, say, hunting animals for sport? What of acts of “mercy-killing” or euthanasia in the case of the sick and dying? What of abortion? What of war? While not all these questions are directly and explicitly addressed in traditional Buddhist writings, a number of statements and discussions in the Pali texts touch on these issues in various ways.

In recent years a number of scholars have drawn on some of these discussions in order to try to begin to map out something of the traditional Buddhist approach to some of the ethical issues surrounding the act of killing, and also to introduce a Buddhist perspective into the contemporary discussion of such issues as abortion, euthanasia, and general bioethics.6 While this work has certainly succeeded in clarifying Buddhist thinking on ethical issues, I also think that by too readily transposing Buddhist discourse into the framework of contemporary ethical discourse it has sometimes inadvertently distorted what I see as the distinctively Buddhist psychological take on ethical issues.

I do not mean to suggest here that the scholars working in this area have got their Buddhist ethics wrong, but rather that they tend at crucial points to force Buddhist texts to conform to the idiom of contemporary ethical discourse, rather than allowing them their own distinctive voice. One reason for this, I think, is because existing discussions do not pay sufficient attention to the Pali commentaries and Abhidhamma framework in which their discussions of the finer points of Buddhist thought are set. The basic relevance of the Abhidhamma to what in the Western intellectual tradition is called “ethics” was in fact recognized a century ago by Mrs. Rhys Davids when she translated the first book of the Abhidhamma Pitaka under the title of Buddhist Psychological Ethics.7 The present paper is in part an attempt to follow her lead and consider more fully some details of the treatment found in the Theravada Abhidhamma and Pali commentaries of one particular unwholesome course of action and the related training rules in the Vinaya.

The Vinaya Rules

The monastic code for Buddhist monks includes 227 rules; these are divided into groups according to the seriousness of the offence that follows from breaking the rule. The first four, the parajikas, are the most serious: breaking any one of them involves the monk in “defeat” (expulsion from the order).8 The third of the parajika offences is a rule against intentionally killing another human being:

Whatever bhikkhu should intentionally deprive a human being of life, or seek a weapon for him for taking [life], or should utter praise of death, or should urge him towards death saying, “Good man, what use to you is this miserable life? Death is better than life.” Or, having such thoughts and intentions in mind, should in several ways utter praise of death, or should urge him towards death, he too becomes defeated, is not in communion.9

Killing a living being other than a human being is distinguished as a lesser offence (pacittiya sixty-one): “If any bhikkhu should intentionally deprive a living being of life, there is an offence entailing expiation.”10

Two things are clear in the formulation of these rules: (1) that whether or not we do things intentionally and with full consciousness is a crucial determinant of responsibility in the Buddhist view of things; (2) killing a human being is to be distinguished from killing other living beings.

Of course, we must tread carefully here. The canonical and commentarial Vinaya texts are not simply concerned with ethical issues and matters of morality; they are also concerned with legal questions — with how to determine whether or not a monk or nun has broken one of a set of 227 or 311 rules. As the texts are well aware, breaking a rule of law may or may not be the same thing as doing a moral wrong. The ancient Buddhist texts make a clear distinction between that which is loka-vajja and that which is pannatti-vajja — deeds that offend against a universally accepted moral principle and those that offend against a conventionally designated rule. I shall return to this distinction presently.

If we examine the Vinaya texts and the “case histories” (vinita-vatthu) that accompany the various rules, the question of a monk’s intentions and of his state of mind is raised again and again in determining whether or not a rule has been broken: accidentally killing someone or killing someone when one is in a confused state of mind is quite a different matter from deliberately and consciously killing someone. Of course, the importance of intention in the Buddhist understanding of what constitutes moral or immoral action is brought out in an often quoted statement of the Buddha’s: “It is intention that I call action (kamma); having formed an intention one acts.”11 In other words, actions that carry moral responsibility — which will lead to pleasant or unpleasant results — are those which one does with clear intention.12 As in a modern court of law, intentions and state of mind are important considerations.

The old Vinaya exposition (vibhanga) of the third parajika offence also gives us some other details and clues: encouraging someone to commit suicide who then does so, carrying out an abortion or intentionally being instrumental in an abortion are both considered as constituting intentional killing of a human being and hence an offence involving “defeat” or “expulsion” (parajika).13

The Commentarial Discussion

There are two main contexts in which the Pali atthakathas provide an analysis of the act of killing a being: (1) in commenting on the list of ten akusala-kammapatha;14 (2) in commenting on the third parajika rule and pacittiya sixty-one.

Let us turn first to the commentarial analysis of the “courses of action.” In their treatment of the courses of action, the commentaries imply a distinction between kamma in general — any good or bad action that carries some degree of moral responsibility and which will have a desirable or undesirable result — and kamma-patha — a complete course of action. This last expression characterizes a completed and fully intentional morally good or bad action. The distinction at work here is perhaps comparable to the distinction made between venial and mortal sin in medieval Christian theology. So what do the commentaries have to say about what is involved in the course of action of killing a living being? The following passage occurs in at least five places in the atthakathas, which no doubt indicates that it has been drawn from the earlier Sinhala commentaries as an authoritative statement of the relevant issues. In part it seems in turn to have drawn on and developed discussions found in the canonical Vinaya analysis of the third parajika.15

The word “living creature” means, in conventional discourse, a being; in the ultimate sense it is the faculty of life. Killing a living creature is the intention to kill in one who perceives a living creature as such, when this occurs through the door of either the body or of speech and produces the exertion that cuts off the life-faculty [of that living being].]

In the case of living creatures without [moral] virtues, such as animals, [the act of killing] is less blameworthy when the creature has a small body, and more blameworthy when the being has a large body. Why? Because of the greater effort [required] in killing a being with a large body; and even when the effort is the same, [the act of killing a large-bodied creature is still more blameworthy] because of its greater physical substance. In the case of beings that possess [moral] virtues, such as human beings, the act of killing is less blameworthy when the being is of little virtue and more blameworthy when the being is of great virtue. But when the body and virtue [of creatures] are equal, [the act of killing] is less blameworthy when the defilements and force of the effort are mild, more blameworthy when they are powerful.

The act of killing has five components: a living being, the perception of the living being as such, the thought of killing, the action, and the death [of the being] as a result. There are six means:16 one’s own person, giving orders, missiles, stationary devices, magical spells, and psychic power.17

So for the killing of a living being to be classified as a kamma-patha, five conditions need to be fulfilled. If any one of the five conditions is not fulfilled, then it is not a completed course of action, although it may still be an unwholesome or immoral act of some sort and degree. From this idea it would seem to follow that any intentional killing of any living being whatsoever should be regarded as an unwholesome course of kamma, and as morally blameworthy. I will return to the question of intention presently. First I wish to consider briefly the three factors the commentary singles out as affecting the degree of seriousness or moral blameworthiness of the deed:

• Size: in the case of animals, the bigger the animal, the more serious the act of killing.

• Virtue: in the case of humans, the more virtuous the human, the more serious the act of killing.

• The intensity of the desire to kill coupled with the effort involved in the actual act of killing.

These criteria have been briefly discussed by Damien Keown.18 His discussion seems to assume that these factors are offered as a more or less exact way of calculating the relative blame that accrues to unwholesome deeds. But to read them in this way may land us in unnecessary difficulties. I would prefer to take them as articulating what is in many ways a “common sense” attitude towards the relative blameworthiness of different unwholesome acts — an attitude that has much in common with the attitudes of a contemporary court of law.

The first criterion is something that I would argue is taken for granted in contemporary society. Most of us would regard the swatting of a fly or a mosquito as different and qualitatively distinct from the killing of a mouse or rat; most would regard the killing of a mouse or a rat as different and qualitatively distinct from the killing of a horse, gorilla, or elephant. As long as we take the question of size as a general rule of thumb, and not as a strict and exact method of calculating moral blame, it would seem to work. Of course, some might want to argue that although we certainly do regard the killing of mosquitoes in a different light from that in which we regard the killing of, say, horses or humans, this difference is really just a measure of our moral confusion: in truth we really should not, since all life is of equal moral worth.

At first sight the second is more difficult and, some might feel, a more morally dangerous if not positively morally repugnant idea because it might be taken as allowing us to conclude that those whom we consider as morally degenerate are somehow morally less valuable, and so can be disposed of with impunity. I would suggest that this is the wrong conclusion. The view expressed here is that killing living beings is always wrong, and never right.

What the commentary is trying to get at, I think, is the psychological attitude, the quality of intention that might be involved in killing different human beings: that is, we tend to feel differently about and find it harder to understand — and perhaps regard as more blameworthy — the killing of innocents than we do the killing of some serial murderer, for example. Think for a moment of the murder of “a sweet old lady” who had never done anyone any harm and of the murder (or execution) of some notorious criminal; imagine for a moment the assassination of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin alongside that of Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King.

The third criterion seems to have to do with the interplay between the viciousness and depravity of the act of killing; compare killings that are acts of uncharacteristic and sudden anger with those that are premeditated, sadistic acts. The relationship between effort and the intensity of the defilements is no doubt of some complexity: a casual act of killing without any thought for the victim might involve little effort and thought, yet that very fact might be taken as an indicator of deep-rooted and strong defilements.

Of course, in matters of morals we like to think that we can find universals, and the preceding discussion raises all sorts of questions about the extent to which we have to do here with socially and culturally conditioned values as opposed to universal human and moral values. Different cultures, different societies, have quite different attitudes towards certain animals. But whatever we precisely think of the moral suitability of the criteria suggested, we at least can see that the commentaries are attempting to articulate an attitude which views killing living beings as in all circumstances an unwholesome kamma, an action leading to unpleasant results in future births, but nevertheless allows that some acts of killing are worse than others.

The Intention to Kill: The Abhidhamma Perspective

The particular detail of the commentarial analyses that I wish to focus on in the present context is the way that “killing a being” is defined not as the actual act of killing itself but as the mental intention or will (cetana) that prompts the act of killing:

Killing a living being is the intention to kill in one who is aware of a living being as a living being when this occurs through either the door of the body or of speech and produces the exertion that cuts off the life-faculty.

Or, as the Samantapasadika puts it, “The intention to kill as a result of which one produces the activity that cuts off [a being’s] life-faculty is called ‘killing a living being’; ‘the one who kills a living being’ should be understood as the person possessing that intention.”19

In both these commentarial passages, in line with the general tendency in Buddhist thought, the emphasis is on an unwholesome action (kamma) as consisting at least in part in the underlying mental intention (cetana). While the commentaries do not state the intention to kill as a sufficient condition for the course of action that is killing a living being, they do clearly state it as one of the five necessary conditions (sambhara): a living being, awareness of the living being, a mind that intends to kill, the exertion, and death as a result.

In the present context, what I wish to establish is the Theravada analysis of the nature of the mind that might produce in someone the intention or will to kill: what kinds of motivation might characterize the mind at the time of killing? In fact, within the general framework of Abhidhamma psychology, the commentarial analysis of the nature of the intention to kill (vadhakacitta/ vadhaka-cetana) seems clear and unambiguous.

After the initial analysis of the ten akusala kammapathas, the commentarial analysis sets out five ways for defining (vinicchaya) their nature: by way of intrinsic nature (dhamma/sabhava), grouping (kotthasa), object (arammana), feeling (vedana), and root (mula). For present purposes, it is the definition by way of feeling and root that is particularly relevant. The definition by way of intrinsic nature reaffirms the point already made, namely that the act of killing is essentially the intention to kill.20 When it comes to the definition of killing a being by way of feeling, it is stated that it “has painful feeling, for even though kings presented with a thief say with a smile, “Go and execute him,” nevertheless the decisive intention (sannitthapaka-cetana) is only associated with painful feeling.”21 As to root, killing a living being has two roots, namely hate and delusion.

This set of definitions keys the kamma-pathas quite precisely into the Abhidhamma system of classes of consciousness. The fact that intention to kill is accompanied by only painful feeling and has as its roots hate and delusion means that it can only be constituted by two of the standard list of eighty-nine classes of consciousness: the two classes of sense-sphere consciousness rooted in hate and accompanied by unhappiness.22 The possibility that the intention to kill might ever be constituted by one or other of the eight classes of sense-sphere consciousness rooted in lack of greed, lack of hate, and lack of ignorance is apparently simply excluded. In other words the intention to kill is understood as exclusively unwholesome, and the possibility that it might ever be something wholesome prompted by thoughts of compassion is not countenanced.

Of course, one might try to argue that wholesome minds are not included here by definition: what is under discussion here are the ten courses of unwholesome action, and if one kills a living being out of compassion it is by definition not an unwholesome course of action and hence not “killing a living being” (panatipata). But, as we shall see, the way in which the Vinaya does allow for the fact that some rules can be broken with wholesome (kusala) and undetermined (avyakata) consciousness seems to exclude this interpretation. In the Sutta context, the point is that there simply is no wholesome course of action that is killing a living being.

The two older extant commentaries to the Vinaya, the Samantapasadika and the Kankhavitarani, give a set of eight categories by which to analyze each rule of the Patimokkha.23 These categories concern (1) the nature of the “arising” or “origin” of an offence (samutthana); (2) whether it arises from activity (kiriya) or inactivity; (3) whether there needs to be full awareness (sanna) of what one is doing (or not doing) for something to constitute an offence;24 (4) whether the mind (citta) is involved in the offence’s arising or origin; (5) whether an offence constitutes something that is universally a fault (loka-vajja) or whether it is something that is merely a fault by designation (pannatti-vajja) as such in the Vinaya;25 (6) whether an offence concerns an act (kamma) of body, speech, or mind; (7) whether at the time of committing an offence one’s mind is constituted by unwholesome consciousness, or by either wholesome or undetermined consciousness;26 and (8) whether the mind at the time of committing an offence will be associated with unpleasant feeling, pleasant feeling, or neutral feeling.27

The seventh and eighth categories in this list once again key into the Abhidhamma classification of consciousness. The Samantapasadika makes this quite explicit:

There are wholesome rules, unwholesome rules and undetermined rules. For just thirty-two classes of consciousness can produce an offence: the eight wholesome sense-sphere consciousnesses, the twelve unwholesome and ten kiriya sense-sphere consciousnesses, 28 and the two wholesome and kiriya higher knowledge consciousnesses. A rule which one breaks with wholesome consciousness is [classified as] wholesome, [those which one breaks] with the other kinds are classified accordingly.29

What this makes clear is that for the Samantapasadika, while in many circumstances Vinaya rules will be broken, as one might expect, when the mind is constituted by unwholesome consciousness and motivated by some combination of greed, hatred, and delusion, at least certain rules in certain circumstances may be broken when the mind is constituted by wholesome consciousness and motivated by nonattachment, friendliness, and wisdom. Moreover, this being the case, it is explicitly stated that again at least certain rules in certain circumstances may be broken when the mind is constituted by various classes of undetermined or kiriya consciousness. In other words, the Vinaya commentary recognizes that in certain circumstances a purely wholesome (kusala) intention will lead someone to break a Vinaya rule; even arahats in certain circumstance will — quite rightly and properly in that they are acting from the motivations of nonattachment (alobha), friendliness (adosa), and wisdom (amoha) — break Vinaya rules. In the course of commenting on the 227 rules of the Patimokkha the Samantapasadika and Kankhavitarani spell out which rules can be broken when the mind is constituted by these different types of consciousness. Commenting on the third parajika, the Samantapasadika states:

As for arising, etc., this rule has three arisings (it arises from body and mind, from speech and mind, and from body, speech and mind); it concerns activity, it is rendered void by [the absence of] full awareness, it is associated with the mind, it concerns a universal fault, it is an act of the body, or an act of speech, it is connected with unwholesome consciousness, and painful feeling. For even when a king seated on his throne enjoying the pleasure of political power responds to the news that a thief has been arrested with a smile, saying, “Go and execute him!,” it should be understood that he does so only with a mind associated with unhappiness. But because this unhappiness is mixed with pleasure and is also not sustained, it is difficult for ordinary people to notice.30

In the case of Pacittiya sixty-one, Samantapasadika makes the following comment:

In the context of this rule, “living creature” refers only to animals; whether one kills a small or large creature, there is no variation in the offence, but in the case of a large animal there is more unwholesomeness because of the greater effort [involved]. Perceiving a living creature as such means that even when in the course of cleaning one’s mattress one perceives just a bedbug egg as a living creature and without compassion removes it by crushing it, there is an offence entailing expiation. Therefore by establishing compassion in such circumstances, one who is heedful will fulfil his obligations. The rest should be understood in exactly the same way — with the [same] arisings, etc. — as has been stated in the case of killing a human being.31

The fact that the Vinaya commentary does not allow for the possibility that one might break these two Vinaya rules when the mind is constituted by anything other than unwholesome consciousness and associated with anything other than painful feeling makes it clear that it considers only two of the eighty-nine classes of consciousness as relevant to the breaking of these rules: the two sense-sphere consciousnesses rooted in aversion/hate (dosa) and accompanied by unhappiness.32 As we are here dealing with the motivations for breaking a legal rule rather than for an ethical rule, the possibility that wholesome consciousness is not considered as a motivation by definition, as in the case of the unwholesome courses of kamma, seems to be excluded.

The case of the laughing king cited here was also cited in the commentarial analysis of the kamma-patha. Its significance might be interpreted in two slightly different ways: (1) even a king who takes pleasure in ordering the execution of criminals, at the moment he orders the execution does so with unwholesome consciousness motivated by aversion; (2) even a king merely carrying out the duties of government, at the moment he orders the execution of a criminal does so with unwholesome consciousness motivated by aversion.

According to Abhidhamma theory, beings may smile or laugh with any of the thirteen sense-sphere consciousnesses accompanied by happy feeling: four unwholesome, four wholesome, and five kiriya.33 The four unwholesome are rooted in greed (happy feeling never accompanies consciousness rooted in aversion); the four wholesome are rooted in nonattachment and friendliness or nonattachment, friendliness and wisdom, likewise four of the five kiriya; arahats and Buddhas may in addition smile with the unmotivated consciousness that produces smiles. The point the commentary seems to want to make here — and, as we saw above, in the context of the unwholesome course of kamma that constitutes killing a living being — is that while unwholesome consciousness rooted in greed and accompanied with happy feeling may arise close to the time of the intention to kill and thus superficially appear to be directly and immediately associated with an act of killing, this is not strictly the case: the actual intention that directly leads to the act of killing is always motivated by some kind of aversion and hence accompanied by unhappy feeling. What is revealed here then is what, in the Abhidhamma view of things, is a fundamental principle of the way in which the mind and intention operate.

The Abhidhamma appears quite uncompromising here: it is a psychological impossibility, a psychological contradiction in terms that one should, when motivated by nonattachment, friendliness (and wisdom), intentionally kill another living being.34 The Abhidhamma and Theravadin exegetical tradition just do not seem to countenance the possibility.35

Compassion as a Motive for Killing

Given that in contemporary discussions of euthanasia (both in the case of sick animals and dying human beings) and abortion, a motivation of compassion is at least partly appealed to by those seeking an ethical justification,36 it seems worth trying to pursue the question of just why the Abhidhamma traditions puts forward what might appear a somewhat uncompromising view. How does this view fit within the broader framework of the values that underpin Buddhist thought and practice?

The case histories that the canonical Vinaya appends to each of the rules of the Patimokkha outline several situations that are potentially relevant to the issue of euthanasia. These have been discussed by Damien Keown and others.37 In the present context I would like to focus on the one instance where the motivation associated with the breaking of the third parajika offence is explicitly stated to be compassion (karunna):

At that time a certain monk was ill. Out of compassion monks spoke in praise of death to him, and the monk died. Those monks were full of regret, thinking, “The Blessed One has laid down a precept. What if we have committed an offence involving defeat?” They informed the Blessed One of the situation. [He said,] “Monks, you have committed an offence involving defeat.38

In his analysis of this case,39 Damien Keown argues that since the Buddha rules that the monks are guilty of a parajika offence despite their having acted out of compassion, it shows that the motivation of an act — here the good motivation of compassion — is an insufficient condition for determining whether an act is moral or immoral in Buddhist thought. Since the monks’ motivation is good, their wrongdoing must lie in something else.40 Keown suggests that the solution to the puzzle is to be found by employing a legal distinction between motivation and intention: the monks’ motive (compassion) is good, but what they intend (the death of the sick monk) is bad. Intending the death of the sick monk is bad because “it involves intentionally turning against a basic good,” the basic good in question being “karmic life.” So,

While motive is of great importance in Buddhist ethics it does not by itself guarantee moral rightness. If it did, it would be impossible to do wrong from a good motive. We see here that the Buddha felt this was only too possible.41

It seems to me that Keown’s analysis of this case is a prime example of the problem I referred to at the beginning of this article: distorting Buddhist ethical discourse by slipping into a contemporary idiom in which the categories are derived from a quite different and specific tradition of ethical discussion. A concept such as “basic good” is not found in the Pali Buddhist texts; by using it and driving a wedge between “moral rightness” and “motive,” Keown begins to talk in terms and categories that lack a firm foundation in Buddhist thought, at least as expounded in the Pali canon and its oldest extant commentaries. For these texts, the concepts of moral right and moral wrong can only meaningfully be discussed in terms of what is kusala and akusala, what is wholesome and unwholesome.42 And the terms kusala and akusala are not applied with reference to “basic goods” such as “karmic life” in Buddhist thought; they are applied to the particular mentalities (cetasika) that motivate the mind and thus lead to acts of body and speech. In order to determine an act as “moral” or “immoral” in the framework of Buddhist thought assumed by the Pali commentarial tradition, we have to ask whether it is kusala or akusala, and this is a question about the nature of the motivations (hetu) that function as the roots (mula) of and so underlie the intention or will (cetana) to act, nothing else. The Theravadin Abhidhamma defines these motivations or roots as essentially six in number: greed (lobha), hatred (dosa), and delusion (moha) on the unwholesome or akusala side; and lack of greed (alobha), lack of hatred (adosa), and lack of delusion (amoha) on the wholesome or kusala side.43 The latter three are understood as positive virtues equivalent to generosity (dana), friendliness (metta) and wisdom (panna).44 What I wish to argue is that, contrary to Keown, for Theravada Buddhist thought it is indeed impossible to do wrong (such as perform an act that is akusala) from an immediate motive that is good (kusala).

In his discussion of the Vinaya case referred to above, Keown cites the Samantapasadika’s comments, although he does not quote these in full, and, in part as a consequence, his understanding of these is, I think, flawed. The following is a full translation:

Out of compassion: seeing that he was in great pain as a result of his illness, those monks felt compassion and, wanting his death yet not realizing that his death is what they wanted, spoke in praise of death, saying, “You are virtuous and have done wholesome deeds. Why should you be afraid of dying? For someone who is virtuous certainly the only thing that can follow from death is heaven.” And as a result of their praising death, that monk stopped taking his food and died prematurely. Therefore they committed the offence. But that they spoke in praise of death out of compassion is said by way of the common way of speaking. So even now a wise monk should not speak in praise of death like this to a sick monk. For if after hearing him praise [death] the sick monk makes the effort to stop taking food and as a result dies prematurely, even if all that remains to him of life is one process of impulsion, then it is he who has brought about the sick monk’s death. However, a sick monk should be given the following sort of instruction, “For one who is virtuous the path and fruit can arise unexpectedly, so forget your attachment to such things as the monastery, and establish mindfulness of the Buddha, Dhamma, Samgha and the body, and pay attention to [the manner of] bringing [things] to mind.” But even when death is praised, if the person makes no effort [to die] as a result of the praise and dies according to his own nature in accordance with his own life-span and the natural course of events, then for this reason the person who speaks in praise of death is not to be accused of an offence.45

The term antara, which I have translated as “prematurely,” Keown renders as “shortly after.” But as A Critical Pali Dictionary points out, antara can have the connotation of “untimely,”46 and the specific background to the Samantapasadika’s comments here is surely the technical notion of timely (kala-) and untimely death (akala-marana). As the Visuddhimagga states, one of the factors in determining death as timely or untimely is the exhaustion or otherwise of a being’s natural lifespan (ayus).47 Only if one understands antara as “prematurely” does the sense of the statement about one course of impulsion being all that remains of life (eka-javana-varavasese pi ayusmim) become clear — and also the point made subsequently  which Keown omits) about the monk dying in accordance with his lifespan (yathayuna).

Having cited the Samantapasadika’s comments on this Vinaya case, Keown himself goes on to comment that the monks’ motivation in speaking in praise of death in the present context “is not in question since we are explicitly told that they acted out of compassion.” However, the Samantapasadika precisely does question the motivation of compassion here, in the first place with the following significant clause: maranatthika va hutva maranatthika-bhavam ajananta. Keown renders this “they made death their aim. . . although ignorant of the state of being one who makes death his aim,” explaining in a note that “this is because no case of this kind had arisen hitherto, and the implication of their actions occurred to them after the death of the patient.”48 I think this rendering represents a misunderstanding. Above, I have rendered this clause “wanting his death yet not realizing that his death is what they wanted.” The subcommentaries explain the clause as meaning that the monks in question did not know their own state of mind of intending death, and were thus not aware of the nature of the consciousness that had arisen in their own minds.49 In other words, they wanted the sick monk’s death, but lacked the self-awareness to see that this is what they wanted. This view of the matter is consonant with the observation regarding the king who superficially appears to be ordering the execution of a criminal with a mind accompanied by pleasant feeling, when in fact according to the psychological analysis of Abhidhamma, the decisive state of mind must be accompanied by unpleasant feeling. In precisely the same way the commentary and subcommentaries want to suggest that although the monks in the present case think they are acting out of compassion and only have the dying monk’s welfare at heart, if they were able to see their motivations more clearly they would see that in fact this was not so.

Thus the commentary goes on to state quite explicitly that when it is said the monks spoke in praise of death out of compassion, this is said “by way of the common way of speaking” (vohara-vasena). Significantly, Keown omits this sentence from his quotation. But, in the light of our earlier discussion, it is quite clear why the Samantapasadika says this. For the Samantapasadika, it simply cannot be that the mind that directly intends the death of a living being is other than one of the two classes of unwholesome consciousness rooted in aversion; and the mental factors (cetasika) of friendliness (adosa, metta) and compassion (karuna, karunna) cannot be associated with such a consciousness. As the subcommentaries explain, that these monks acted out of compassion is said with reference to their earlier motivation, because compassion is absent at the moment of the decisive intention in one who intends death; so the present case is precisely not like the setting free out of compassion of a boar caught in a trap.50

While it is impossible to demonstrate conclusively that the Samantapasadika’s and subcommentaries’ understanding of the situation conforms to the spirit of the original Vinaya case, it is clear that Keown’s suggestion that this case shows that for Buddhism “a good motive is thus a necessary but not a sufficient condition for a moral act”51 does not hold good for the Theravadin Abhidhamma and exegetical tradition. Indeed, I think his attempt to employ a legal distinction between motive and intention (“if I kill you from the motive of compassion . . . I nevertheless intend to kill you”)52 in the present context is misconceived. I am not suggesting that the distinction is necessarily an invalid one in a Buddhist Abhidhamma framework, merely that in that framework it is considered psychologically impossible to intend to kill someone when motivated by compassion. Thus I am not convinced that there is a concept of “karmic life” as a “basic good” in mainstream Indian Buddhist thought as he maintains.53

The manner in which the commentary understands the present case as an instance of parajika is clear: it fulfils the conditions for being classified as an unwholesome course of action. There is a living being, the monks are fully aware that he is a living being, they intend that the sick monk should die, they carry out the necessary action in speaking in praise of death to the sick monk, and the sick monk dies as result of their action. Moreover the commentary simply does not allow that the decisive (sanitthapaka) intention or motivation is one of compassion (karunna). The decisive intention in this case — as in all cases of intentionally killing a living being — is to be understood in terms of one of the two classes of consciousness rooted in aversion and accompanied by unpleasant feeling.

It is important to note, however, that this does not mean that in the Abhidhamma view of things the motive of compassion is necessarily completely divorced from each and every act of killing. The example adduced by the commentaries of a laughing king ordering the execution of a criminal reveals an understanding that allows for the rapid change from pleasant feeling to unpleasant feeling, and hence from greed to aversion in the motivations of the mind.54 Such a model of the way consciousness processes work suggests the possibility of situations where there is a similarly rapid change from wholesome consciousness to unwholesome consciousness, and if that is so the Abhidhamma model can accommodate the possibility of wholesome consciousnesses rooted in nonattachment and friendliness (with or without in addition wisdom) being relatively closely associated in time with an act of killing — indeed, as we have seen, this appears to be how the subcommentaries understand the Vinaya case we have just been considering. Thus it can appear — when the rapid flow of different consciousnesses is not closely examined — that in certain circumstances a being is killed simply out of compassion. Nevertheless, the possibility of the decisive (sanitthapaka) intention being motivated by these wholesome roots is simply ruled out. So while it is possible, on this view of the matter, that an act of killing a living being may in part be associated with compassion, the Abhidhamma wants to exclude the possibility that such an act could ever be wholly so: the arising of consciousness rooted in aversion at the decisive moment is a necessary condition of all intentional acts of killing. Hence that an awakened being — whether sammasambuddha or arahat — might intentionally kill a living being is not countenanced.

So why is it that the Theravada exegetical tradition wants to exclude compassion as the simple motivation for killing a living being? What is wrong with compassion as a motive for killing a living being? An initial answer to this question is apparent in the advice about what kind of instruction should be given to a sick monk. What the commentary suggests is that it is quite proper to recommend death to the dying as an occasion when there is a special opportunity for making crucial advances on the path: it is a time when the paths and fruits of stream-entry, once-return, never-return or even arahatship might be attained.55 But this opportunity is grasped not by actively hastening death, by willing the advent of death, but rather by renewing one’s commitment to one’s practice and cultivating mindfulness.

In taking up Keown’s discussion of the case of the sick monk, Peter Harvey gives only a partial rendering of the commentary’s advice;56 nonetheless, the conclusion he draws from it seems basically sound:

This suggests that a person should use the process of dying as an opportunity for reflection, so as to see clearly the error of attachment to anything which is impermanent, be it the body, other people, possessions, or worldly achievements. Dying presents the reality of the components of body and mind as impermanent, dukkha, and not-Self in stark form; it is thus an opportunity for gaining insight into these.57

As Harvey’s observations suggest, the answer to why mainstream Indian Buddhist thought does not allow compassion as a motive for killing seems in part to lie with very fundamental Buddhist principles. As the first of the four truths or realities (sacca), suffering or dukkha is something that must be fully comprehended (parinneyya). And indeed the Nikayas’ shorthand definition of dukkha is the five upadanakkhandhas.58 Death, the breaking up of the khandhas, is an opportunity par excellence to understand the nature of dukkha, its arising, its ceasing, and the way leading to its ceasing. If in the case of deliberately hastening a sick being’s death, compassion and wisdom are excluded by the Abhidhamma from being considered the decisive motivations, then what we are left with as motivations are aversion and delusion. Aversion to what? The answer must surely be aversion towards the being’s suffering, which amounts to a refusal to face the reality of suffering with true compassion and wisdom. Killing the being is certainly a solution to the problem of suffering in this situation: by getting rid of the being who is suffering, it gets rid of the suffering. But in the Abhidhamma view of things it can hardly be a wise solution: it is rather a quick fix that precisely avoids confronting the problem of suffering, that precisely avoids looking at its true nature.59 So while on the Abhidhamma psychological model it is possible to envisage situations where at least some of the consciousnesses associated with an act of killing might be wholesome and genuinely motivated by the two or three wholesome roots, it would seem that the decisive motivation in such a case would be regarded as some form of refusal to face the reality of suffering — a reality that real wisdom and compassion faces up to.

The understanding that I have been trying to articulate on the basis of the ancient texts has been recently quite precisely stated in an essay on Thai Buddhist perspectives on euthanasia:

In Buddhist psychology, “mercy killing” or active euthanasia cannot be carried out without ill-will or feeling of repugnance (dosa) of the perpetrator toward the fact of the patient’s suffering. Even though the motivation behind this action may have been good, namely to prevent further suffering for the patient, as soon as it becomes action to terminate life it becomes an act of aversion. So when a doctor performs what, he believes is “mercy-killing,” actually it is due to his repugnance of the patient’s pain and suffering which disturb his mind. . . . If he understood this psychological process he would recognize the hidden hatred that arises in his mind at the time of performing the lethal deed and would not deceive himself with the belief that this deed was motivated by benevolence alone.60
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Part 2 of 2

The Significance of Metta

In the context of contemporary ethical discourse (and contemporary attitudes), the Abhidhamma analysis might seem rather bleak — almost heartless. If Abhidhamma Buddhist thought denies that euthanasia is ever a truly wholesome solution, does it offer an alternative approach — other than simply to sit and witness the death throes of some poor creature? I think in fact that an alternative approach is indeed taken for granted by the texts — but this approach, I would guess, is likely to appear at best somewhat idealistic and at worst hopelessly naive to modern sensibilities. For this alternative highlights what I think amounts to a crucial difference in perspective between the worldview of ancient Buddhist texts and contemporary ethical and philosophical discourse. Put simply, in Buddhist discourse metta and karuna are regarded as potentially rather more powerful and effective responses to suffering than contemporary ethical discourse would normally allow.

At the beginning of this article I quoted the Metta Sutta:

One should not wish another pain out of anger or a notion of enmity. Just as a mother would protect with her life her own son, her only son, so one should cultivate the immeasurable mind towards all living beings and friendliness towards the whole world.

What I want to suggest is that in the Buddhist (and to some extent general Indian religious) framework, cultivating friendliness and compassion in the face of suffering is seen not simply as a question of the religious contemplative turning inward and refusing to act or intervene, but also in a certain sense as a very practical response to the problem of suffering brought about by sickness and old age.

A recent essay by Lambert Schmithausen focuses on the Buddhist attitude towards the dangerous and fearful in nature, and considers how the cultivation of friendliness (maitri/metta) is presented as offering some kind of protection.61 Schmithausen’s study is primarily concerned with friendliness as a means of giving oneself protection from dangers rather than as a means of helping others. Having reviewed the “snake charm” of the Upasena Sutra and Khandha Paritta, followed by the Vedic background, he concludes that in its “typically Buddhist form” the cultivation of friendliness as a means of protection against potentially dangerous creatures “is the cultivation of a friendly mind with regard to them, which is supposed to engender a similar attitude in the addressee(s)” (p. 49). It seems to me that this entails a further dimension to the protective power of friendliness envisaged by traditional Buddhist texts. As Schmithausen notes, the cultivation of friendliness is seen as not only having the power to protect oneself, but as also having the power to engender friendliness in others. And if this is so it has the potential to engender its beneficial effects in others — such beneficial effects as those listed as the eleven benefits that come to someone who develops the liberation of the heart through friendliness (mettaya cetovimutti): he sleeps happily; he wakes happily; he dreams no bad dreams; he is dear to human beings; he is dear to nonhuman beings; the gods protect him; fire, poison and weapons do not harm him; his mind easily attains concentration; the expression on his face is serene; he dies unconfused; and if he reaches no higher he is born in the world of Brahma.62 Of course, this old list of the benefits of friendliness is understood as presenting the benefits that come to one who cultivates metta as a subject of meditation practice (kammatthana), but the list assuredly points to an attitude that assumes friendliness to be generally beneficial to all concerned. But there are in the canonical and commentarial texts incidents recounted where the power of friendliness and compassion is in effect employed to the benefit of those who are suffering and in pain. There is a story repeated in at least three places in the atthakatha literature that tells of what happened when a young boy’s mother fell seriously ill:

It is told that when he was still a boy Cakkana’s mother fell ill, and the doctor said that she needed fresh hare’s meat. So Cakkana’s brother sent him off to wander through the fields. Off he went and at that time a hare had come there to eat the tender young crop. When the hare saw him, it ran off fast and got caught in a creeper and cried out. Following the sound Cakkana grabbed the hare thinking that he could make the medicine for his mother. Then he thought, “It is not right that I should take the life of another for the sake of my mother’s life.” So he let the hare go, saying, “Go and enjoy the grass and water in the woods with the other hares.” When his brother asked him if he had caught a hare, Cakkana told him what had happened. His brother scolded him. Cakkana went to his mother and stood [by her] affirming a truth, “Since I was born I am not aware that I have intentionally taken the life of a living creature.” Immediately his mother recovered from her illness.63

Here then the boy’s firm, unwavering commitment to not harming a living creature provides the basis for an affirmation of truth (sacca-kiriya) that has the effect of curing his mother. It is worth noting that Cakkana’s unwavering commitment to avoiding killing is precisely not presented by the commentaries as a blind, uncompromising adherence to the first precept. In the commentarial understanding there are three ways in which one can refrain from unwholesome action through the arising of wholesome consciousness: (1) one can naturally refrain from wrong action, etc., when the opportunity for wrong action, etc. has arisen; (2) one can refrain because one has previously undertaken the precepts; or (3) one can refrain by cutting off all desire for wrong action, etc. by reaching the noble path. The story of Cakkana is told as an illustration of the first kind of circumstance.

Interestingly Cakkana’s words here echo almost precisely another famous affirmation of truth, that of the serial murderer “reborn” as an arahat, Angulimala. Wandering in Savatthi for alms, Angulimala comes across a woman struggling with the pains of birth. He is moved, saying to himself, “How beings suffer! How beings suffer!” A little later he tells the Buddha who instructs him to return to Savatthi and utter the words: “Lady, since I was born into the noble birth I am not aware that I have intentionally taken the life of a living creature. By this truth may you be safe, may your child be safe.” And indeed the woman was safe, the child was safe.64 These two stories show the power of what is in effect metta — a commitment to not harming living creatures — being employed by means of an affirmation of truth to help someone who is sick and in pain by in one case an arahat and in the other just a boy.65

Beyond the Theravada: The Sarvastivada and the Upayakausalya Sutra

While it goes beyond the scope of the present paper (and of my competence) to attempt to explore in depth the issue under discussion in the Sarvastvadin-Vaibhasika Abhidharma, it is perhaps worth pointing out that its understanding of the principles involved seems to be for the most part consonant with the Theravada. Thus the Abhidharmakosa distinguishes two types of “origin” for acts: the general cause (hetu-samutthana) and the immediate cause (tatksana-samutthana); the latter seems to correspond more or less to the Theravada notion of the decisive intention (sanitthapaka-cetana). The Kosa also distinguishes between the courses of action (karma-patha) proper and preliminary (samantaka) or preparatory (prayoga) acts.66 On this basis the Kosa goes on to point out that the acts that form the preliminary to each of the ten akusala-karma-patha may be motivated by any of the three basic unwholesome causes: greed (lobha), hatred (dvesa), or wrong-view (mithya-drstti), and gives examples of this in the case of killing a living being.67 However, the karma-patha proper of killing a living being is exclusively accomplished by hatred.68 An understanding that corresponds more or less to the Theravada account of the five necessary conditions (sambhara) for the course of action is also found.69

Having considered the Abhidhamma and commentarial analysis of the act of killing a living being, it is perhaps worth briefly turning to a well known story where the bodhisattva is represented as killing a living being apparently out of compassionate motives. The Upayakausalya Sutra tells the story of how the bodhisattva in a life when he is indeed called “Great Compassion” kills a man in order to prevent him from killing 500 others — also bodhisattvas.70 The motivation for this act is thus compassionate on two accounts: by killing the man he prevents him from killing others and thus prevents him from committing an unwholesome act that would result in his being reborn and suffering in hell; the bodhisattva also by his act saves the lives of the 500 others. Interestingly the way in which the bodhisattva’s act of killing is presented seems to accept the basic outlook that I have presented above: acts of killing are instances of unwholesome karma. Thus in deciding to kill the man the bodhisattva is presented as accepting that this is an unwholesome act, the unpleasant consequences of which he will have to suffer in hell. Thus the Sutra does not, initially at least, try to justify the act as one that is kusala. However, the Sutra goes on to relate how the bodhisattva in fact avoided the sufferings of rebirth in hell; much later, as a Buddha, he lets his foot be pierced by a thorn in apparent retribution for this act of killing. There are perhaps two ways of reading this: (1) the bodhisattva’s compassion was such that it was able to transform the unwholesome nature of the act and render it an entirely wholesome act such that it had no unpleasant results whatsoever; (2) alternatively the compassionate component of the act was strong enough to override its unwholesome elements such that their ripening was indefinitely delayed allowing the bodhisattva to avoid the karmic fruit despite the fact that certain aspects of the act were in actual fact akusala.71

Whichever way we read it though, it seems to me that the story should be understood in the context of the kind of Abhidhamma and commentarial analysis of the act of killing that I have tried to set out above. For while I have been presenting the details of the specifically Theravada viewpoint, I think the evidence of the Abhidharmakosa is sufficient for us to conclude that it represents the mainstream approach of Indian Buddhist thought to the act of killing. The Upayakausalya Sutra thus perhaps represents a deliberate challenge to mainstream Buddhist ethics.


In the course of this paper I have tried to show, taking the act of killing a living being as an example, how an appreciation of the Abhidhamma framework is crucial in assessing the Pali commentarial approach to ethical questions. I have argued, contrary to Keown’s claim, that for Theravada Buddhist thought the motivation underlying the intention or will to act is sufficient to determine an act as “moral” (kusala) or “immoral” (akusala).

In the particular case of killing a living being, I have argued that for Theravada Buddhist thought — and probably mainstream Indian Buddhist thought—intentionally killing a living being can never be considered wholly an act of compassion. Although the Abhidhamma model of the way in which the mind works can accommodate a set of circumstances where genuine compassion might play some part in an act of killing a living being, it does not allow that the decisive intention leading to the killing of a living can ever be other than unwholesome and associated with some form of aversion (dosa).

I have suggested two reasons why such an outlook should be characteristic of the Buddhist perspective on ”mercy killing.” The first is that the very idea that killing a living being might be the solution to the problem of suffering runs counter to the Buddhist emphasis on dukkha as the first of the four truths. As the first truth, its reality must be fully understood (parinneyya). The second is that the cultivation of friendliness and compassion in the face of suffering is seen as an appropriate and even practical alternative that can bring beneficial effects for self and others in a situation where it might seem that compassion should lead one to kill.

I would like to finish with a general comment about the nature of Buddhist ethics. Abhidhamma — and hence I think mainstream Buddhist ethics — is not ultimately concerned to lay down ethical rules, or even ethical principles. It seeks instead to articulate a spiritual psychology focusing on the root causes that motivate us to act: greed, hatred, and delusion, or nonattachment, friendliness, and wisdom. Thus that intentionally killing a living being is wrong is not in fact presented in Buddhist thought as an ethical principle at all; it is a claim about how the mind works, about the nature of certain mental states and the kinds of action they give rise to. It is a claim that when certain mental states (compassion) are in the mind it is simply impossible that one could act in certain ways (intentionally kill). For the Theravada Buddhist tradition there is in the end only one question one has to ask to determine whether an act is wholesome (kusala) or unwholesome (akusala): is it motivated by greed, hatred, and delusion, or is it motivated by nonattachment, friendliness, and wisdom. So if one were to respond to the Abhidhamma claim that an act of intentional killing motivated by compassion is a psychological impossibility, that it simply runs counter to actual experience, then what the Abhidhamma analysis offers is a kind of psychoethical puzzle or riddle. If you can intentionally kill out of compassion, then fine, go ahead. But are you sure? Are you sure that what you think are friendliness and compassion are really friendliness and compassion? Are you sure that some subtle aversion and delusion have not surfaced in the mind? In the end ethical principles cannot solve the problem of how to act in the world. If we want to know how to act in accordance with Dhamma, we must know our own minds. In the words of the Dhammapada, “ceasing to do all that is bad, accomplishing what is wholesome, and purifying the mind — this is the teaching of the buddhas.”72


Unless otherwise stated editions of Pali texts are those of the Pali Text Society, Oxford.

Anguttara Nikaya
Abhidharmakosa-bhas.ya: edited by P. Pradhan (Patna: Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute, 1967). Abhidh-s
Abhidhammatthasangaha-mahatika (= Abhidhammatthavibhavini-tika).
Atthasalini (= Dhammasangani-atthakatha)
edition in Burmese script
V. Trenckner et al., A Critical Pali Dictionary (Copenhagen: Royal Danish Academy, 1924-).
Chattha Sangayana CD-ROM, Version 3.0 (Igatpuri: Vipassana Research Institute, 1999).
Digha Nikaya
Dhammasangani-atthakatha (= As)
G. P. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names (London: PTS, 1974).
Vinayatthamanjusa (Be CSCD)
Majjhima Nikaya
Palimuttakavinayavinicchayasangaha (Be CSCD)
Samyutta Nikaya
Saratthadipani (Be CSCD)


* Centre for Buddhist Studies, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University  of Bristol, E-mail:
1 This article is a revised version of a paper presented at the Fourth Chung-Hwa International Conference on Buddhism held in Taipei in January 2002. I am grateful to the organizers of this conference for their invitation and for permission to publish the revised version. I am also grateful to Peter Harvey, Rita Langer and Mudugamuwe Maithrimurthi for their comments on and criticisms of the earlier version.

2 D i 3-4: panatipatam pahaya panatipata pativirato [. . . ] nihita-dando nihita-sattho lajjidayapanno sabba-pana-bhuta-hitanukampi viharati. This passage is repeated throughout the Silakkhandha-vagga of the Digha Nikaya, and in the extended accounts of the path in the Majjhima Nikaya, e.g. M i 345.

3 Sn 394: panam na hane na ca ghatayeyya na canujanna hanatam paresam / sabbesu bhutesu nidhaya dandam. ye thavara ye ca tasanti loke. Translation adapted from K. R. Norman (trans.), The Group of Discourses, 2nd edition (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1992).

4 M iii 203: ekacco itthi va puriso va panatipati hoti luddo lohitapani hatapahate nivittho adayapanno pana-bhutesu so tena kammena evam samattena evam samadinnena kayassa bheda param marana apayam duggatim vinipatam nirayam upapajjati.

5 Sn 148-150: vyarosana patigha-sanna nannam annassa dukkham iccheyya // mata yatha niyam puttam ayusa ekaputtam anurakkhe / evam pi sabba-bhutesu manasam bhavaye aparimanam // mettan ca sabba-lokasmim manasam bhavaye aparimanam (Translation adapted from Norman, Group of Discourses.)

6 See, for example: Tessa Bartholomeusz, “In Defence of Dharma: Just- War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999), p. 1-11; Peter Harvey, “Vinaya Principles for Assigning Degrees of Culpability,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999), p. 271-91, An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Damien Keown, The Nature of Buddhist Ethics (London: Macmillan, 1992), Buddhism and Bioethics (London: Macmillan, 1995), (ed.), Buddhism and Abortion (London: Macmillan, 1998), “Attitudes to Euthanasia in the Vinaya and Commentary,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999), p. 260-70 ,(ed.), Contemporary Buddhist Ethics (Richmond: Curzon, 2000); Lambert Schmithausen, The Problem of the Sentience of Plants in Earliest Buddhism (Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1991), Maitrii and Magic: Aspects of the Buddhist Attitude Toward the Dangerous in Nature (Vienna: Oseterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1997), “Aspects of the Buddhist Attitude to War” in Violence Denied: Violence, Non-Violence and the Rationalization of Violence in South Asian Cultural History, edited by J. E. M. Houben and K. R. van Kooij (Leiden: Brill, 1999), p. 45-67.

7 C. A. F. Rhys Davids (trans.), Buddhist Psychological Ethics (London: PaliText Society, 1900).

8 On the etymology and original meaning of parajika, see Oskar von Hin¨uber, A Handbook of Pali Literature (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1996), p. 10; Juo-Hs¨ueh Shih, Controversies over Buddhist Nuns (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 2000), p. 126-128.

9 Vin iii 73: yo pana bhikkhu sancicca manussa-viggaham jivita voropeyya sattha-harakam va’ssa pariyeseyya marana-vannam va samvanneyya maranaya va samadapeyya, ambho purisa, kim tuyh’ imina papakena dujjivitena, matam te jivita seyyo ti, iti citta-mano citta-sam kappo aneka-pariyayena sam vann eyya, maranaya va samadapeyya, ayam pi parajiko hoti asamvaso. Translation adapted from William Pruitt (ed.) and K. R. Norman (trans.), The Patimokkha (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 2001), p. 9.

10 Vin iv 124: yo pana bhikkhu sancicca panam jivita voropeyya, pacittiyam. Translation from Pruitt Norman, Patimokkha, p. 69.

11 A iii 415: cetanaham bhikkhave kammam. vadami. cetayitva kammam karoti.

12 cf. Peter Harvey, “Vinaya Principles for Assigning Degrees of Culpability,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999), p. 271-291.

13 Vin iii 73-74; a human being is defined as existing from the first arising of consciousness in the mother’s womb (yam matukucchismim pathamam cittam uppannam pathamam vinnanam patubhutam, yava maranakala etthantare eso manussaviggaho nama); cf. Vin i 97, Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 313.

14 The commentarial analysis of the five precepts (Vibh-a 381ff; Moh (Be) 254ff) covers some of the same ground.

15 Vin iii 68-86; cf. Thanissaro Bhikkhu, The Buddhist Monastic Code (Metta Forest Monastery: Valley Center, Calif., 1994), p. 66-78.

16 These six means are discussed in full at Sp 439-441.

17 Sv 69-70 = Ps i 198 = Spk ii 144 = Nidd-a 115 = As 97: pano ti c’ ettha voharato satto, paramatthato jivitindriyam. tasmim pana pane panasannino jivitindriyupacchedaka-upakkama-samutthapika kaya-vaci-dvaranam annatara-dvara-ppavatta vadhaka-cetana panatipato. so guna-virahitesu tiracch ana-gatadisu panesu khuddake pane appa-savajjo mahasarire maha-savajjo. kasma. payoga-mahantataya. payoga-samattepi vatthu-mahantataya. gunavantesu manussadisu appa-gune pane appa-savajjo maha-gune maha-savajjo. sarira-gunanam pana samabhave sati kilesanam upakkamanan ca mudutaya appa-savajjo tibbataya maha-savajjo ti veditabbo. tassa panca sambhara honti pano pana-sannita vadhaka-cittam upakkamo tena maranan ti. cha payoga sahatthiko anattiko nissaggiyo thavaro vijjamayo iddhimayo ti.

18 Damien Keown, Buddhism and Bioethics (London: Macmillan, 1995), p. 96-100.

19 Sp 439: yaya cetanaya jivitindriyupacchedakam payogam samutthapeti sa vadhaka-cetana panatipato ti vuccati. panatipatiti vutta-cetana-samangi puggalo datthabbo.

20 Sv 1049 = Ps i 202 = Spk ii 148 = Patis-a I 223 = As 101: “By way of essential nature, the first seven are simply intention, the other three beginning with longing are associated with intention (dhammato [It-a ii 54: sabhavato] ti etesu hi patipatiya satta cetana-dhamma va honti abhijjhadayo tayo cetana-sampayutta).” The point here is that abhijjha, vyapada and miccha-ditthi are from the point of view of their essential natures (dhammato/ sabhavato) the cetasikas “greed” (lobha), “hate” (dosa) and “view” (ditthi) respectively and hence not themselves types of the cetasika “intention” (cetana) but rather associated with particular types of that cetasika.

21 Sv 1050 = Ps i 202 = Spk ii 148 = I 223 = As 102: vedanato ti panatipato dukkha-vedano hoti. kincapi hi rajano coram disva hasamanapi gacchatha nam ghatetha ti vadanti, sannitthapaka-cetana pana dukkha-sampayutta va hoti.)(cf. It-a ii 54.)

22 Dhs 83 (§413), 85 (§421); Vism 454 (xiv 92); Abhidh-s 1.

23 These have been partially discussed by Oskar von Hin¨uber, “The Arising of an Offence: apattisamutthana,” Journal of the Pali Text Society 16 (1992), p. 55-69, and Juo-Hs¨ueh, Controversies over Buddhist Nuns, p. 60- 64. These categories appear in part at least to be derived from the Parivara, cf. Vin v 120, 206-207.

24 Kkh 24: “An offence which is void in the absence of full awareness of committing the transgression is one that is void by [absence of] full awareness, others are not void by [absence of] full awareness (yato vitikkamasannaya abhavena muccati ayam sannavimokkha, itara no sannavimokkha.).” This means not that one must be aware that a given act is an infringement of the Patimokkha but that one must be fully aware of what it is one is doing for certain acts to constitute offences.

25 Kkh 24: “In the category of offences that involve mind, those where the mind is exclusively unwholesome are universal faults, the rest are faults by designation (tattha yassa sacittaka-pakkhe cittam akusalam eva hoti, ayam loka-vajja, sesa pannatti-vajja).” Effectively the same distinction is found in the North Indian Buddhist sources, cf. Lambert Schmithausen, The Problem of the Sentience of Plants in Earliest Buddhism (Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1991), p. 16. O. von Hinuber (“The Arising of an Offence,” p. 66-69) discusses a discrepancy between the Milindapanha and the Vinaya commentaries over the classification of udake hasadhammam. pacittiyam (Vin iv 22); the former (Mil 266) speaks of this offence as “not blameworthy in the world” (lokassa anavajjam), while the latter (Sp 861, Kkh 119) regards it as exclusively “blameworthy in the world” (lokavajja). In fact this disagreement would appear to hinge on the Abhidhamma understanding of which classes of consciousness one laughs with (see note 33): the Vinaya commentaries appear to be suggesting that in the context of playing in water one must inevitably be laughing and smiling with greed consciousness, though curiously the rule is classified as having three feelings, though perhaps the fact that the commentary glosses hasa in this context as kilika means that the commentary is not thinking exclusively in terms of laughing here: perhaps playing in water might occasion anger and unpleasant feeling too.

26 Kkh 24: apattim apajjamano hi akusala-citto va apajjati kusalavyakatacitto va.

27 Kkh 24: tatha dukkha-vedana-samangi va itara-vedana-dvaya-samangi va.

28 Sp-t. (Be) ii 98 (CSCD): hasituppada-votthabbanehi saddhim attha mahakiriya- cittani. The inclusion of the kiriya mind-door adverting consciousness here should probably be seen as relating to the sense-door process with a “slight” (paritta) object that ends in two or three occurrences of mind-door adverting; cf. Abhidh-s 18 (iv 13); Abhidh-s-mht. 112.

29 Sp 271: atthi pana sikkha-padam kusalam atthi akusalam.atthi avyakatam. dvattims’ eva hi apatti-samautthapaka-cittani: attha kamavacara-kusalani dvadasa akusalani dasa kamavacara-kiriya-cittani kusalato ca kiriyato ca dve abhinna-cittani ti. tesu yam kusala-cittena apajjati, tam kusalam, itarehi itaram.

30 Sp 463-464 (re parajika 3): samutthanadisu idam sikkhapadam ti-samutthanam kaya-cittato ca vaca-cittato ca kaya-vaca-cittato ca samutthati, kiriyam, sanna-vimokkham, sacittakam, loka-vajjam, kaya-kammam, vaci-kammam, akusala-cittam, dukkha-vedanam. sace pi hi sirisayanam arulho rajja-sampattisukham anubhavanto raja coro deva anito ti vutte gacchatha nam maretha ti hasamano va bhanati, domanassa-citten’ eva bhanati ti veditabbo. sukhavokinnatta pana anuppabandhabhava ca dujjanam etam puthujjanehi ti. This passage is quoted at Kkh-t. (Be) 218 (CSCD); cf. Abhidh-s-mht. 134, 21: hasamana pi rajano dosa-citten’ eva pana-vadham anapenti.

31 Sp 864-865: imasmin ca sikkha-pade tiracchanagato yeva pano ti veditabbo. tam khuddakam pi mahantam pi marentassa apatti-nanakaranam natthi. mahante pana upakkama-mahantatta akusala-mahattam hoti. pane panasanni ti antamaso manca-pit.ham sodhento mangula-bijake pi pana-sanni nikkarunikataya tam bhindanto apaneti pacittiyam. tasma evarupesu thanesu karunnam upatthapetva appamattena vattam katabbam. sesam manussaviggahe vutta-nayen’ eva veditabbam saddhim samutthanadihi ti.

32 See note 22.

33 As 295.

34 Of course, it is possible to counter the Abhidhamma claim that it is simply wrong about this. But, lest there be misunderstanding, I am not concerned here with whether the Abhidhamma is right or wrong to make the claim it does, I am merely concerned to articulate a clearer understanding of the nature of the claim.

35 Their treatment of the issue is, perhaps, in part just to be seen as a working out and restatement of the old Nikaya tradition that it is straightforwardly impossible for an arahat to intentionally take the life of a living being: abhabbo khinasavo bhikkhu sancicca panam jivita voropetum. (D iii 235).

36 cf. Harvey, Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, p. 295.

37 Keown, Buddhism and Bioethics, p. 60-64, 168-173; “Attitudes to Euthanasia in the Vinaya and Commentary,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999), p. 260-270; Harvey,Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, p. 292-305.

38 Vin iii 79: tena kho pana samayena annataro bhikkhu gilano hoti. tassa bhikkhu karunnena marana-vannam. samvannesum. so bhikkhu kalam akasi. tesam kukkuccam ahosi bhagavata sikkhapadam pannattam, kacci nu kho mayam parajikam apattim apanna ti. bhagavato etam attham arocesum. apattim tumhe, bhikkhave, apanna parajikan ti.

39 Keown, Buddhism and Bioethics, p. 62-64; cf. Keown, Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999), p. 265-266.

40 Keown does not consider the possible relevance here of the fact that deciding whether a Vinaya rule has been broken is essentially a legal judgement rather than necessarily a moral judgement. But as we have seen, in this instance the commentaries agree, to break the third parajika is necessarily a “universal wrong” (loka-vajja).

41 Id., p. 63

42 I do not mean to suggest by this that kusala and akusala straightforwardly mean “morally right” and “morally wrong” respectively, but rather that they are the two technical terms that best represent the Abhidhamma and Theravada exegetical tradition’s specific understanding of what it means for something to be a moral or an immoral act. On the problem of the meaning of kusala, see L. S. Cousins, “Good or skilful? Kusala in Canon and Commentary,” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 3 (1996), p. 136-164.

43 Dhs 188-192; As 46; Abhidh-s 12-13 (hetusangaha); Abhidh-s-mht. 95-96 (hetusangaha-vannana).

44 When these three “good” roots operate in the mind of an arahat or buddha they are strictly speaking not to be classified as kusala, but as “undetermined” (avyakata); see Dhs 190-191.

45 Sp 464: karunnena ti te bhikkhu tassa mahantam gelanna-dukkham disva karunnam uppadetva silava tvam kata-kusalo, kasma miyamano bhayasi, nanu silavato saggo nama marana-matta-pat.ibaddho yeva ti evam maran. atthika va hutva maranatthika-bhavam ajananta marana-vannam. samvannesum. so pi bhikkhu tesam samvannanaya aharupacchedam katva antara va kalam akasi. tasma apattim apanna. vohara-vasena pana vuttam karunnena maranavannam. samvannesun ti. tasma idani pi panditena bhikkhuna gilanassa bhikkhuno evam marana-vanno na samvannetabbo. sace hi tassa samvannanam sutva aharupacchedadina upakkamena eka-javana-varavasese pi ayusmim antara kalamkaroti, imina va marito hoti. imina pana nayena anusitthi databba: silavato nama anacchariya magga-phaluppatti, tasma viharadisu asattim akatva buddha-gatam dhamma-gatam sangha-gatam kaya-gatan ca satim upatthapetva manasikare appamado katabbo ti. marana-vanne ca samvannite pi yo taya samvannanaya kan ci upakkamam akatva attano dhammataya yathayuna yathanusandhina va marati, tappaccaya samvannako apattiya na karetabbo ti. (Cf. Palim (Be) 428-429 (CSCD).)

46 CPD, s.v. antara, (d): “beforehand,” untimely.” Several examples of the usage of antara in this sense with verbs meaning “to die” are cited; at Ja iv 54 antara is juxtaposed with akala-marana.

47 Vism 229 (viii 2): yam pi c’ etam adhippetam, tam kala-maranam akala-maranan ti duvidham hoti. tattha kala-maranam punna-kkhayena va ayukkhayena va ubhaya-kkhayena va hoti. akala-maranam kammupacchedakakamma- vasena.

48 Keown, Buddhism and Bioethics, p. 61, 191 (n. 102). cf. Keown, Journal of Buddhist Ethics 6 (1999), p. 266.

49 Sp-t. (Be) ii 272 and Palim-nt. (Be) ii 323: maranatthika-bhavam ajananta ti evam adhippayino maranatthika nama honti ti attano maranatthika-bhavam ajananta. na hi te attano citta-ppavattim na jananti.

50 Sp-t. (Be) ii 272: vohara-vasena ti pubbabhaga-vohara-vasena, maranadhippayassa sannitthapaka-cetana-kkhane karunaya abhavato karunnena pase baddhas ukara-mocanam viya na hoti ti adhippayo.

51 Keown, Buddhism and Bioethics, p. 63.

52 Ibid.; quoted from Lord Robert Goff, “The mental element in the crime of murder,” Law Quarterly Review 104 (1988), 41-42.

53 Keown, Buddhism and Bioethics, p. 63: “The implication of this case for our present concerns could be summed up in the following principle: Karmic life must never be destroyed intentionally regardless of the quality of motivation behind the act or the good consequences which may be thought to flow from it.” I understand “mainstream” Buddhism in the manner of Paul Harrison and Paul Williams who both use it to refer to those elements of Buddhist thought and practice held in common by the schools of non- Mahayana Buddhism and in large part by Mahayana Buddhism itself.

54 I take it that this is what the commentary probably understands, rather than the change from wholesome consciousness with happy feeling to unwholesome with unhappy feeling, which is theoretically possible.

55 There are possible parallels with the attitude to death as a particular opportunity for spiritual progress presented in the Bar-do-thos-grol.

56 He translates (Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, p. 296), “as the paths and fruits have arisen, it is not surprising you are virtuous: therefore do not be attached to residence etc., setting up mindfulness in respect of the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and the body, develop heedfulness in attention,” giving also a reference to the Chinese rendering of Samanatapasadika, see P. V. Bapat and A. Hirakawa, Shan-Chien-P’i-P’o-Sha: A Chinese Version by Sanghabhadra of Samantapasadika (Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Institute, 1970), p. 326.

57 Harvey, Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, p. 296. Cf. the attitude to his own death of the Thai monk Buddhadasa as recounted in Pinit Ratanakul, “To Save or Let Go: Thai Buddhist Perspectives on Euthanasia” in Damien Keown (ed.), Contemporary Buddhist Ethics (Richmond: Curzon, 2000), p. 169-182.

58 D ii 305.

59 As examples of Buddhist narratives concerned with facing the reality of suffering one thinks of the story of the bodhisatta’s encounter with the first three sights (D ii 21-27) or that of Kisa Gotami (Dhp-a ii 270-275).

60 Ratanakul, “To Save or Let Go,” p. 175-176.

61 Lambert Schmithausen, Maitri and Magic: Aspects of the Buddhist Attitude Toward the Dangerous in Nature (Vienna: Oseterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1997).

62 A v 342: mettaya kho bhikkhave ceto-vimuttiya asevitaya bhavitaya bahulikat aya yanikataya vatthukataya anutthitaya paricitaya susamaraddhaya ekadas anisam sa patikankha. katame ekadasa. sukham supati sukham patibujjhati na papakam supinam passati manussanam piyo hoti amanussanam piyo hoti devata rakkhanti nassa aggi va visam va sattham va kamati tuvatam cittam samadhiyati mukhavanno vippasidati asammulho kalankaroti uttarimappativijjhanto brahmalokupago hoti. These eleven benefits of the liberation of friendliness are explained in full at Vism 299 (ix 37), 311-314 (ix 60-76).

63 Ps i 203-204 = Spk ii 149-150 = As 103: tattha asamadinna-sikkhapadanam attano jati-vaya-bahusaccadini paccavekkhitva ayuttam amhakam evarupam papam katun ti sampattam vatthum avitikkamantanam uppajjamana virati sampatta-virati ti veditabba sihala-dipe cakkana-upasakassa viya. tassa kira dahara-kale yeva matuya rogo uppajji. vejjena ca alla-sasa-mamsam laddhum vattati ti vuttam. tato cakkanassa bhata gaccha tata khettam ahindahi ti cakkanam pesesi. so tattha gato. tasmin ca samaye eko saso tarunasassam khaditum agato hoti. so tam disva va vegena dhavanto valliya baddho kiri kiri ti saddam akasi. cakkano tena saddena gantva tam gahetva cintesi matu bhesajjam karomi ti. puna cintesi na metam patirepam yvaham matu jivita-karana param jivita voropeyyan ti. atha nam gaccha, aranne sasehi saddhim. tinodakam paribhunja ti munci. bhatara ca kim tata saso laddho ti pucchito tam pavattim acikkhi. tato nam bhata paribhasi. so matu-santikam gantva yato aham jato nabhijanami sancicca panam jivita voropeta ti saccam. vatva atthasi. tavad ev’ assa mata aroga ahosi. DPPN, s.v. Cakkana, mistakenly cites Ps I 165 for this story and comments that the Majjhima commentary’s version differs slightly, but in fact all three versions agree.

64 M ii 103: yato ’ham bhagini ariyaya jatiya jato nabhijanami sancicca panam jivita voropeta, tena saccena sotthi te hotu sotthi gabbhassa ti. atha khvassa itthiya sotthi ahosi sotthi gabbhassa.

65 According to DPPN, s.v. Cakkana, this story is all we know of Cakkana from the Pali texts.

66 Abhidh-k-bh iv 10, 68.

67 Abhidh-k-bh iv 68 d.

68 Abhidh-k-bh iv 70 a-b.

69 Abhidh-k-bh iv 73 a-b. Lamotte, Traite ii 784 cites sources from the northern tradition that give precisely the same five conditions.

70 See Paul Williams, Mahayana Buddhism (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 144-145; Garma C. C. Chang, A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1983), p. 456-457. The incident is said to have taken place during the era of Dipamkara, so is placed close to the bodhisattva’s vow. The notion that killing a being might be for the sake of yet another being is relevant to abortion: the argument is that the foetus is aborted for the sake of or in order to alleviate the mother’s suffering. The Upayakausalya Sutra story also contains a story of the bodhisattva having sex out of compassion (id. p. 433).

71 Harvey, Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, p. 135-137 discusses some of the problems associated with this story.

72 Dhp 183: sabba-papassa akaranam kusalassa upasampada / sacitta-pariyodapanam etam buddhana sasanam.
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Into nothingness: In the 1940s, Japan’s search for a national philosophy became a battle for existence. Did Zen ideas create the kamikaze?
by Christopher Harding



Dusk, that most beautiful moment
With no pattern.
Millions of images appear and disappear.
Beloved people.
How unbearable to die in the sky.

Hours after writing these lines, the 24-year-old Tadao Hayashi fuelled a battered Mitsubishi A6M Zero and flew it towards an American aircraft carrier – and into nothingness. It was late July 1945. A few days later, the United States would drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A war sold to the Japanese public as a struggle for national survival would be over.

In contemporary Western memory, still stocked for the most part by wartime propaganda imagery of mad, rodent-like Japanese, those final weeks are a swirl of brainwashed fanaticism, reaching its apotheosis as hundreds of kamikaze planes slammed into the US ships closing in around Japan’s home islands. Three thousand raids and innumerable scouting missions were launched during the climax of the conflict, designed to show the US the terrible cost it would pay for an all-out invasion of Japan.

Yet the vast majority of planes never made it to their attack or reconnaissance targets; they were lost instead at sea. And war’s end failed to yield the apocalyptic romance for which Japan’s leaders so fervently hoped. By late 1944 and early ’45, the only ‘life or death struggle’ was the routine misery to which the empire itself had reduced its soldiers and civilians. Conscripts were trained and goaded to fire their rifles into their own heads, to gather around an activated grenade, to charge into Allied machine-gun fire. Civilians jumped off cliffs, as Saipan and later Okinawa were taken by the Allies. Citizens of great cities such as Tokyo and Osaka had their buildings torn town and turned into ammunition.

Nor do clichés of unthinking ultranationalism fit the experiences of many kamikaze pilots. For each one willing to crash-dive the bridge of a US ship mouthing militarist one-liners, others lived and died less gloriously: cursing their leaders, rioting in their barracks or forcing their planes into the sea. A few took their senninbari – thousand-stitch sashes, each stitch sewn by a different well-wisher – and burned them in disgust. At least one pilot turned back on his final flight and strafed his commanding officers.

And then there were the university students. Hundreds of thousands of young men such as Tadao Hayashi were pulled from lives of Goethe and Flaubert, classical music concerts and debates about Marxism, and forced to enlist. Around 1,000 of them ended up on kamikaze missions, alongside boys of a similar age who had never got further than elementary school. Earlier in the war, university students had been able to put off conscription while they studied. By the autumn of 1943, only those majoring in science or education retained that privilege, so desperate were Japan’s leaders for recruits.

By day these student pilots were beaten – often unconscious – by superiors and non-student conscripts who resented their privilege. By night, they wrote: letters, diaries, poetry, struggling to imagine being here today and not tomorrow, to justify their own deaths in the way they had been taught by their leaders. Wasn’t Japan a nation under threat of extinction, hemmed in spiritually and strategically by the US and Britain? Weren’t they obliged to defend their people and values against the nihilistic hyper-individualism of two once-great nations?

Most of these students were a good deal more sophisticated than the ideologues who ranted to them about the evils of Western materialism. But wartime caricature had its roots in peacetime critique. Ever since the 1890s, Japanese scholars had warned that Western metaphysics, epistemology and morality were so profoundly hard-wired into the technological culture of the US and Europe that, by importing this culture, Japan had let in all the rest and stood now on the verge of forgetting itself.

How did Japanese intellectuals let an anxiety become a call to arms? It is hard enough to analyse the process in retrospect, the dust of conflict having long ago settled. For many student soldiers living through the drama of 1944 and ’45, this sort of discernment was simply beyond them. In search of meaning, they fled the vacuous slogans of the military, only to end up in the embrace of pioneering thinkers whose distinctly ‘Japanese’ philosophy increasingly pointed in just one direction: the battlefield.

One of the most ambitious schemes for a Japanese philosophy – where nothing by that name had existed before – was emerging at Hayashi’s own institution in 1943, just when he was forcibly removed from it. The great project of Kitarō Nishida, a seasoned Zen practitioner and the founder of what became the ‘Kyoto School’ of philosophy at Kyoto Imperial University, was to do what many Zen Buddhists insisted was impossible: to describe the picture of reality revealed in meditation.

Nishida sought to reverse the key premise of Western philosophy, writing not about ‘being’ or ‘what is’, but instead about ‘nothingness’. His was not the relative nothingness of non-being – the world of the gone-away, the not-yet or the might-be. He meant absolute nothingness: an unfathomable ‘place’ or horizon upon which both being and non-being arise.

To help students make sense of this idea, Nishida liked to draw a cluster of small circles on the lecture-hall board. This is how people usually see the world, he would say: a collection of objects, and judgments about those objects. Take a simple sentence: ‘The flower is yellow.’ We tend to focus on the flower, reinforcing in the process the idea that objects are somehow primary. But what if we turn it around, focusing instead on the quality of yellowness? What if we say to ourselves ‘the flower is yellow’, and allow ourselves to become perceptually engrossed in that yellowness? Something interesting happens: our concern with the ‘is-ness’ of the flower, and also the is-ness of ourselves, begins to recede. By making ‘yellowness’ the subject of our investigation – trying to complete the sentence ‘Yellowness is…’ – we end up thinking not in terms of substance, but in terms of place. The question isn’t so much ‘What is yellowness?’ as ‘Where is yellowness?’ Against what broader backdrop does ‘yellowness’ emerge?

For Nishida, the answer was a special sort of consciousness: not first-person reflection, where consciousness is the possession of an individual, but rather a consciousness that possesses people. It becomes less true to say that ‘an individual has experiences’ than that ‘experience has individuals’.

‘Absolute nothingness’, after all, is not an idea to be grasped: it is a provocation, a literal insult to the intelligence

But if consciousness is the horizon beyond ‘yellow’, what is the further horizon? Where is consciousness? Nishida drew a dotted, all-encompassing line on the board. This, he said, is ‘absolute nothingness’, producing and interpenetrating every other plane of reality. Absolute nothingness is God. And God is absolute nothingness.

One wonders how many students filed out of Nishida’s lecture hall thinking: ‘A-ha! Now I get it!’ They could surely be forgiven for trying to understand absolute nothingness the same way we understand most things: by making it into an object of thought, placing ourselves outside it and perusing it from all angles. Yet a nothingness to which you could do this would not be absolute: it would just be one among that cluster of small circles on the board.

Nishida probably wouldn’t have minded such doomed attempts at understanding. ‘Absolute nothingness’, after all, is not an idea to be grasped: it is a provocation, a literal insult to the intelligence. It was already de rigueur in the Zen circles of Nishida’s day to scoff at the limited reach of conceptual knowing, treasuring instead the koan, the meditation cushion and the knowing look. But Nishida and his colleagues in the Kyoto School preferred not to write it off until it had been tested to the limits – tested, one might say, to destruction. ‘Absolute nothingness’ had the potential to perform that function. It promised to bring about the realisation that the idea of knowledge ‘from the outside’ must largely be a fiction.

The trouble was, as an idea, it had other sorts of potential too. The war was dragging on. Japan’s chances of winning – or even achieving a respectable peace – were fading. There is a fine line between understanding an idea such as ‘absolute nothingness’ and deploying it as a rationalisation, and it appears that Nishida and his colleagues crossed it – and encouraged their readers to do so, too. A relatively abstract set of ideas were allowed to take on potent political form.

Neither Nishida nor his great friend and rival Hajime Tanabe – who trained with Martin Heidegger before joining Nishida at Kyoto – ever put their talents unreservedly at the service of Japan’s political leaders. Tanabe was in fact an early and vocal critic of Heidegger’s involvement with Nazism. But caught up in Japan’s crisis, and fearful of following fellow academics who equivocated in their support for the regime out of their university posts and into the jail cells of the ‘Special Higher Police’, they began to explore how metaphysics, politics, and war might fit together.

Nishida, a one-time devotee of Hegel and Heidegger, returned to his Zen Buddhist roots to ask whether mistaken subject-object dualisms in human thinking – that cluster of circles on the lecture-hall board – might be to blame for Western nations’ ‘imperialist squabbling’. A case of politics rooted in culture, rooted in turn in an error of perception.

Tanabe went much further. By what means, he asked, does absolute nothingness manifest itself in the world of being? Not directly, in an individual’s inner life. No, between absolute nothingness and the individual there must be some kind of mediating power. Looking around, Tanabe saw only one obvious candidate. ‘God does not act directly on the individual,’ he wrote. ‘The salvation of the individual is accomplished through the mediation of nation and society.’

Talk of ‘the’ nation turned to talk of ‘our’ nation, its ultimate symbolisation in the emperor, and even the possible necessity of death in the service of both

This was still a fairly innocuous observation about how Japan was being held back by what Tanabe regarded as a clan mentality: people brought up in a closed society were struggling to open themselves to the wider world. The trouble, in a sense, was that they were poor internationalists. And Tanabe owed as much here to Hegel as to Buddhism – he understood individual lives to be shaped entirely by the ebb and flow of historical time, itself part of a great metaphysical unfolding.

Things changed, however, when Tanabe started to insist on the nation as the fundamental context in which individuals and society mediate one another, the realm in which individuals work out their salvation. Perhaps the nation was what made philosophy possible at all. Then talk of ‘the’ nation turned to talk of ‘our’ nation, its ultimate symbolisation in the emperor, and even the possible necessity of death in the service of both. ‘Our nation is the supreme archetype of existence,’ Tanabe concluded. (His one-time mentor, Nishida, is rumoured to have whispered to a friend: ‘This Tanabe stuff is completely fascist!’)

The same dark times that rendered two of Japan’s best-known philosophers unusually susceptible to political and public pressure softened up students for their grand ideas and bold claims. In the spring of 1943, Tadao Hayashi went to see Tanabe lecture. ‘The only salvation for us, according to Professor T, is to realise that one must die,’ he wrote with enthusiasm in his diary. ‘We should live our lives prepared to plunge into death at any moment… Professor T [said] … that humans and God do not come into direct contact. Instead, a nation mediates between the two’.

Months later, when Hayashi was drafted to serve that nation, Tanabe had this message for him and his fellow student conscripts:

You are to learn the spirit of the Imperial Army… which is none other than the quintessential flowering of the spirit of the nation… Take the lead in breaking through the pass between life and death… By serving the honourable callings of the Sovereign as the one whose person brings together God and country, you will share in the creation of the eternal life of the state. Is this not truly the highest glory?

Tanabe’s words were now not far off the surreal language of a kamikaze training manual, aimed at the sort of people who liked to beat up the Hayashis of this world for being too smart:

Do your best. Every deity and the spirits of your dead comrades are watching you intently. It is essential that you do not shut your eyes for a moment so as not to miss the target. Many have crashed into the targets with wide-open eyes. They will tell you what fun they had.

No wonder that the last letters and diary entries of young men such as Hayashi were full of confusions and contradictions. They were summoning all the resources of an elite education to try to cast their tragic situations in a meaningful light. For the most part, they failed. At their most convincing, they set politics and philosophy aside and invested themselves instead in letters to their families – and particularly to their mothers. ‘I am happy to go,’ wrote one pilot to his mother, ‘but I begin to cry when I think of you. I want to be held in your arms and sleep… I have a great deal more to say, but I will stop here. [Tomorrow is] the final sortie. Goodbye.’

As his students piloted their Zeros out towards the sea in 1944, Tanabe sat at home, trying to decide whether the time had at last come to speak out against the conflict, influential figure that he was. Could he help to achieve a surrender? Or would an intervention merely place Japan in even greater peril? The more Tanabe tried to find a rational answer, the more frustrated he became with himself and with the pursuit of philosophy altogether. What was the point of it, if it offered no answers at precisely the moment they were most needed?

In the end, the strain caused something to break inside him, and he found himself flooded with what he later called zange: repentance. It was a shattering encounter with the power of absolute nothingness, not as the ‘place’ talked about by Nishida but as the dynamic ‘Other-power’ in which many Japanese shinshū Buddhists placed their faith. The result was a new and totally foreign sense of self – one that was ‘given’ and raw, rather than owned and honed. Tanabe was moved to adapt the words of St Paul: ‘It seems no longer I who pursue philosophy, but zange that thinks through me’.

Finally now renouncing his old assertions about the Japanese nation, and working behind the scenes to try to end the war, Tanabe felt that nothing less than human reason itself had been ‘shattered’ inside him. Human will, too: his new ‘absolute critique’ of reason implied a total admission of defeat, on all fronts. Everything had to go.

For Tanabe’s critics, these dramatic events came too late, and in Japan’s bitter post-war accounting he was numbered amongst those – lawyers, philosophers, novelists, cultural critics – who could have spoken out against the war but chose not to. Worse, he had actively peddled what one critic called a ‘philosophy of death’.

Were Tanabe’s simply a darkness-into-light conversion story, one would certainly find the convenience of its timing suspect, and its dismissal of reason a little humdrum. But this picture of surrender and insight, reason and rationalisation, was at once less hopeful and more compelling.

The search for a truly ‘Japanese’ philosophy ended instead with a picture of the human condition as caught between death and rebirth

For a start, humans don’t turn their backs on reason, Tanabe insisted. It has its obvious merits, and to imagine that we’re not stuck with it as a fundamental part of who we are is to become lost in mystical fantasy. Rather than give up on it, we have to reason at full-throttle – until it gives up on us. Until the plane breaks apart or careers into the sea. Only at that point might we find ourselves so completely humiliated, so bereft of slogans and comforting stories to tell ourselves, that we dissolve into ‘absolute nothingness’, and absolute nothingness works unimpeded through what is left.

Even then, the journey is not over. Tanabe discovered something in himself that sought always to possess any new experience or idea, no matter how profound or engrossing. A desire to manage life from the margins soon reasserted itself, deploying insights rather than sacrificing oneself to them. Tanabe’s was not, then, a philosophy of death, nor even of death and rebirth. The search for a truly ‘Japanese’ philosophy ended instead, for him, with a picture of the human condition as caught between an unsought shattering in zange and an unwanted re-formation of the pieces – back and forth between death and rebirth.

It is hard to fathom Tanabe’s reasons for never apologising clearly over the ultranationalist turn that his wartime thought briefly took. But part of the story might have been this: after August 1945, he saw people all around him making apologies, hurriedly drawing lines under the past – trying to turn darkness into light. And all the while Tanabe’s best guess, hard won, was that such shifts simply don’t last. Sooner or later the darkness will be back.
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Part 1 of 2

Zen as a Cult of Death in the Wartime Writings of D.T. Suzuki
by Brian Victoria
August 2, 2013
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11 | Issue 30 | Number 4




The publication of Zen at War in 1997 and, to a lesser extent, Zen War Stories in 2003 sent shock waves through Zen Buddhist circles not only in Japan, but also in the U.S. and Europe.

These books revealed that many leading Zen masters and scholars, some of whom became well known in the West in the postwar era, had been vehement if not fanatical supporters of Japanese militarism. In the aftermath of these revelations, a number of branches of the Zen school, including the Myōshinji branch of the Rinzai Zen sect, acknowledged their war responsibility. A proclamation issued on 27 September 2001 by the Myōshinji General Assembly included the following passage:

As we reflect on the recent events [of 11 September 2001] in the U.S. we recognize that in the past our country engaged in hostilities, calling it a “holy war,” and inflicting great pain and damage in various countries. Even though it was national policy at the time, it is truly regrettable that our sect, in the midst of wartime passions, was unable to maintain a resolute anti-war stance and ended up cooperating with the war effort. In light of this we wish to confess our past transgressions and critically reflect on our conduct.1

On 19 October 2001 the sect’s branch administrators issued a follow-up statement:

It was the publication of the book Zen to Sensō [i.e., the Japanese edition of Zen at War], etc. that provided the opportunity for us to address the issue of our war responsibility. It is truly a matter of regret that our sect has for so long been unable to seriously grapple with this issue. Still, due to the General Assembly’s adoption of its recent “Proclamation” we have been able to take the first step in addressing this issue. This is a very significant development.2

In the same year, the smaller Tenryūji branch of the Rinzai Zen sect issued a similar statement, again citing the Japanese edition of Zen at War as a catalyst leading to their belated recognition of war responsibility.

In reading these apologies, one is reminded of the “Stuttgart Confession of Religious Guilt,” issued by Protestant church leaders in postwar Germany, in which they repented their support of Hitler and the Nazis. The Confession’s second paragraph read in part: “With great anguish we state: Through us has endless suffering been brought upon many peoples and countries. . . . We accuse ourselves for not witnessing more courageously, for not praying more faithfully, for not believing more joyously, and for not loving more ardently.”3 Nevertheless, there is one significant difference between religious leaders in Japan and Germany, i.e., while the Stuttgart Confession was also issued on 19 October, it was 19 October 1945 not 2001.

It is also true that a relatively small number of German Christians resisted the Nazis, Father Maximillian Kolbe, Martin Niemöller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer being among the best known. Similarly a small number of Buddhist priests, both within the Zen school and other sects, also opposed Japanese imperialism. The common denominator between the two groups, however, was their overall ineffectiveness.4 This is no doubt because no matter what the faith or country involved, institutional religion, with but few exceptions, staunchly supports its own nation in wartime.

The Background to D.T. Suzuki’s Wartime Role

There is now near universal recognition, including in Japan, that the Zen school, both Rinzai and Sōtō, strongly supported Japanese imperialism. Nevertheless, there is one Zen figure whose relationship to wartime Japan remains a subject of ongoing, sometimes deeply emotional, controversy: Daisetz Teitarō Suzuki, better known as D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966).5

Given Suzuki’s position as the most important figure in the introduction of Zen to the West, it is hardly surprising that the nature of his relationship to Japanese imperialism should prove controversial, for if he, too, were an imperialist supporter, what would this imply about the nature of the Zen he introduced to the West?

If the following discussion of Suzuki’s wartime record appears to lack balance, or shades of gray, it is not done out of ignorance, let alone denial, of exculpatory evidence concerning this period in his life. However, evidence of Suzuki’s alleged anti-war stance is well known and, indeed, readily accessible on the Internet.6 Hence, there is no need to repeat it here. That said, interested readers are encouraged to review all relevant materials related to Suzuki’s wartime record before reaching their own conclusions.

As important as Suzuki may be, the debate goes far beyond either the record or reputation of a single man. As recent scholarship suggests, Suzuki was in fact no more than one part, albeit a significant part, of a much larger movement. Oleg Benesch described Suzuki’s role as follows:

[Suzuki’s] writings on bushidō and Zen during the period immediately after the Russo-Japanese War [1904-05] are not extensive, but are significant in light of his role in spreading the concept of the connection of Zen and bushidō, especially during the last four decades of his life. Suzuki can be seen as the most significant figure in this context, especially with regard to the dissemination of a Zen-based bushidō outside of Japan.7 (Italics mine)

While these comments may not seem particularly controversial, Benesch also provided a detailed history of the manner in which Suzuki and other early twentieth century Japanese intellectuals, including such luminaries as Nitobe Inazō (1862-1933) and Inoue Tetsujirō (1855-1944), essentially invented a unified bushidō tradition for nationalist use both at home and abroad. Benesch writes:

The development and dissemination of bushidō from the 1880s onward was an organic process initiated by a diverse group of thinkers who were more strongly influenced by the dominant Zeitgeist and Japan’s changing geopolitical position than by any traditional moral code. These individuals were concerned less with Japan’s past than the nation’s future, and their interest in bushidō was prompted primarily by their considerable exposure to the West, pronounced shifts in the popular perception of China, and an apprehensiveness regarding Japan’s relative strength among nations.8

Benesch later added:

The bushidō that developed in Meiji [1868-1912] was not a continuation of any earlier ethic, but it contained factual elements that were carefully selected and reinterpreted by its promoters. . . .concepts such as loyalty, self-sacrifice, duty, and honor, all of which existed in considerably different forms and contexts to those in which they were incorporated into modern bushidō theories. . . .The most important factor in the relatively rapid dissemination of bushidō was the growth of nationalistic sentiments around the time of the Sino-Japanese [1894-95] and Russo-Japanese wars.9

As this article reveals, Suzuki’s writings on the newly created bushidō ‘code’ were very much a part of this larger nationalist discourse. His personal contribution to this discourse was the presentation of bushidō, primarily to a Western audience, as the very embodiment of Zen, including the modern Japanese soldier’s alleged “joyfulness of heart at the time of death.” In 1906, the year following Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War, Suzuki wrote:

The Lebensanschauung of Bushidō is no more nor less than that of Zen. The calmness and even joyfulness of heart at the moment of death which is conspicuously observable in the Japanese, the intrepidity which is generally shown by the Japanese soldiers in the face of an overwhelming enemy; and the fairness of play to an opponent, so strongly taught by Bushidō – all of these come from the spirit of the Zen training, and not from any such blind, fatalistic conception as is sometimes thought to be a trait peculiar to Orientals.10

Suzuki’s praise for, and defense of, Japan’s soldiers as “Orientals” is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that only two years earlier, i.e., in 1904, Suzuki had himself invoked Buddhism in attempting to convince Japanese youth to die willingly for their country: “Let us then shuffle off this mortal coil whenever it becomes necessary, and not raise a grunting voice against the fates. . . . Resting in this conviction, Buddhists carry the banner of Dharma over the dead and dying until they gain final victory.”11

While comments like these may be interpreted as Suzuki’s ad hoc responses to national events beyond his control, in fact they accurately represent his underlying belief in the appropriate role of religion in a Japan at war. This is clearly demonstrated by the following comments in the very first book Suzuki published in November 1896, entitled A Treatise on the New Meaning of Religion (Shin Shūkyō-ron):

At the time of the commencement of hostilities with a foreign country, marines fight on the sea and soldiers fight in the fields, swords flashing and cannon smoke belching, moving this way and that. In so doing, our soldiers regard their own lives as being as light as goose feathers while their devotion to duty is as heavy as Mount Tai [in China]. Should they fall on the battlefield they have no regrets. This is what is called “religion during a [national] emergency.”12

The year 1896 is significant for two reasons, the first of which is that Suzuki’s book appeared in the immediate aftermath of Japan’s victory in the Sino-Japanese War. This was not only Japan’s first major war abroad but, with the resultant acquisition of Taiwan, marked a major milestone in the growth of Japanese imperialism. Thus, Suzuki’s call for Japan’s religionists to resolutely support the state whenever it went to war could not have been more timely. At a personal level, it was also in December of that year, i.e., just one month after his book appeared, that Suzuki had his initial enlightenment experience (kenshō). This occurred at the time of his participation as a layman in an intensive meditation retreat (sesshin) at Engakuji in Kamakura, and shortly before his departure for more than a decade-long period of study and writing in the U.S. (1897-1908).

As Suzuki’s subsequent statements make clear, his kenshō experience did not alter his view of “religion during a [national] emergency.” Again, this is hardly surprising in light of the fact that Suzuki’s own Rinzai Zen master, Shaku Sōen [1860-1919], Engakuji’s abbot, was also a strong supporter of Japan’s war efforts.

In fact, Shaku’s support of Japan was so strong that during the Russo-Japanese War he volunteered to go to the battlefields in Manchuria as a military chaplain. Shaku explained: “. . . I also wished to inspire, if I could, our valiant soldiers with the ennobling thoughts of the Buddha, so as to enable them to die on the battlefield with the confidence that the task in which they are engaged is great and noble.”13

Once Japan had defeated Russia, its imperial rival, it immediately forced Korea to become a Japanese protectorate in November 1905. This was followed by Japan’s complete annexation of Korea in August 1910, thereby cementing the expansion of the Japanese empire onto the Asian continent. For his part, Suzuki avidly supported Japan’s takeover of Korea as revealed by comments he made in 1912 about that “poor country,” i.e., Korea, as he traversed it on his way to Europe via the Trans-Siberian railroad:

They [Koreans] don’t know how fortunate they are to have been returned to the hands of the Japanese government. It’s all well and good to talk independence and the like, but it’s useless for them to call for independence when they lack the capability and vitality to stand on their own. Looked at from the point of view of someone like myself who is just passing through, I think Korea ought to count the day that it was annexed to Japan as the day of its revival.14

Suzuki’s comments reveal not only his support for Japanese colonialism but also his dismissal of the Korean people’s deep desire for independence. For Suzuki, the future of a poverty-stricken Korea depended on Japanese colonial beneficence.

While no doubt many if not most of Suzuki’s countrymen would have agreed with his position at the time, readers of Zen at War will recognize in both Suzuki and Shaku’s comments early examples of the jingoism that characterized Zen leaders’ war-related pronouncements through the end of the Asia-Pacific War in 1945. Not only did Suzuki admonish Buddhist soldiers to “carry the banner of Dharma over the dead and dying,” they were also directed “not to raise a grunting voice against the fates” as they “shuffle off this mortal coil.” In point of fact, approximately 47,000 young Japanese laid down their lives in the Russo-Japanese War exactly as Suzuki, Shaku and many other Buddhist leaders urged them to do.

The Background to Suzuki’s Article

While the preceding material introduces Suzuki’s attitude to the Russo-Japanese War and his country’s early colonial efforts, it fails to clarify his attitude toward Japan’s subsequent military activities, especially Japan’s aggression against China initiated by the Manchurian Incident of 1931. This aggression would continue and expand for a full fifteen years thereafter, i.e., until Japan’s defeat in August 1945. Suzuki did, however, write an article, “Bushidō to Zen” (Bushidō and Zen), that was included in a 1941 government-endorsed anthology entitled Bushidō no Shinzui (Essence of Bushidō). With additional articles contributed by leading army and navy figures, this book clearly sought to mobilize support for the war effort, both military and civilian. While not originally written for the book, the fact that Suzuki allowed his article to be included indicated at least a sympathetic attitude to this endeavor though it only indirectly referenced the war with China.15

There is, however, yet another lengthy article that appeared in June 1941 in the Imperial Army’s premier journal for its officer corps. The journal, taking its name in part from its parent organization, was entitled: Kaikō-sha Kiji (Kaikō Association Report). Although not formally a government organization, the parent Kaikō-sha (lit. “let’s join the military together”) had been created in 1877 for the purpose of creating Imperial Army officers who were to be of “one mind and body.”16

The Kaikō Association Report was a monthly professional journal dating from July 1888. The journal contained articles on such topics as the latest developments in weaponry, mechanization and aviation but also featured yearly special editions devoted to such military events as the Russo-Japanese War and the Manchurian Incident of 1931. In addition, it regularly devoted substantial space to articles on “thought warfare” (shisō-sen), Japanese spirit (Yamato-damashii), national polity of Japan (kokutai), and “spiritual education” (seishin kyōiku), all key components of wartime ideology.

The journal’s ideological orientation can be seen in the articles that both preceded and followed Suzuki’s own contribution. The article preceding his was entitled “The Philosophical Basis of Spiritual Culture,” and included such statements as: “By comparison with Western laws based on rights, our laws are based on duties. By comparison with a [Western] world that operates according to individualism (kobetsusei), we have created a Japan that operates according to the principles of totality (zentaisei).”17 The article following his, entitled “Concerning the Indispensable Spiritual Elements of Military Aviators,” consisted of a speech by officer candidate Yamaguchi Bunji delivered at the graduation ceremony for the fifty-first class of the Japan Army Aviation Officer Candidate School on March 28, 1941.

As will be seen, Suzuki’s article fit in perfectly with the strong emphasis on “spirit” in this military journal. “Spiritual education” was one of the most important duties for Imperial Army officers. Officers were required to hold regular sessions with the troops under their command in order to introduce examples from Japanese history of the utterly loyal, fearless, and self-sacrificial warrior spirit. That the historical figures Suzuki introduced had acquired their fearlessness in the face of death through Zen practice was clearly welcomed by the journal’s editors, as it was by the leadership of the Imperial Army.18

The article was published in June 1941, i.e., less than six months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. By then Japan had been fighting in China for four years, and while Japanese forces held most major Chinese cities, they were unable, to their great frustration, to either pacify the countryside or defeat the Nationalist and Communist forces deployed against them. The war was effectively stalemated, yet the death tolls, both Japanese and Chinese, continued to rise relentlessly as Japanese forces took the offensive in a bid to force surrender.

Suzuki Addresses Imperial Army Officers

Suzuki’s contribution took as its title the well-known Zen phrase: “Makujiki Kōzen,” i.e., Rush Forward Without Hesitation!19 Note that the complete English translation of Suzuki’s article is included in Appendix I. Some readers may wish to read the translation prior to reading the following commentary though this is not necessary. In addition, Appendix II contains the entire text of the original article in Japanese.

In the article’s opening paragraphs we find that Suzuki, like his Zen contemporaries, faced an awkward problem. That is to say, on the one hand he could not help but acknowledge that the Zen (Ch., Chan) school had come to fruition, if not created, in China, a country with which Japan had been at war for some four years. Given the massive death and destruction Japan’s invasion of China had caused, including its priceless Buddhist heritage, how could Japanese Zen leaders justify the ongoing destruction of the very country that had contributed so much to their school of Buddhism?

Suzuki addresses this issue by positing Japanese Zen’s superiority to Chinese Zen (Chan) Buddhism. That is to say, Suzuki notes that Zen’s “real efficacy” had only been realized after its arrival in Japan. One proof of this is that in Chinese monasteries meditation monitors use only one hand to hold a short ‘waking stick,’ while their Japanese counterparts hold long waking sticks with both hands just as warriors of old held their long single sword with both hands.

“The meaning of the fact that the waking stick is employed with two hands is that one is able to pour one’s entire strength into its use,” Suzuki claims.

Pouring one’s entire strength into the effort, whether it be waking a dozing meditator or cutting down an opponent, was, for Suzuki, the critical element that Zen and the warrior shared in common. There was no hint of an ethical distinction between the two. Nor did Suzuki acknowledge that in the Sōtō Zen sect, masters continue to employ the short, ‘Chinese-style’ waking stick (tansaku). This last omission is not surprising in that Suzuki typically either ignored, or dismissed, the practice and teachings of this sect.

Suzuki was, furthermore, not content with simply identifying the deficiencies in Chinese Zen, but went on to identify related deficiencies in the “world at large,” including Europe with its single-handed rapiers. That is to say, when non-Japanese fighters wield the sword they do so holding a sword in only one hand in order to hold a shield in the other hand. In so doing, they seek not only to slay their enemy but also to protect themselves, hoping to emerge both victorious and alive from the contest. By contrast, a Japanese warrior holds his sword with two hands because: “There is no attempt to defend oneself. There is only striking down the other.”

Was Suzuki accurate in his implied criticism of non-Japanese fighters for attempting to defend themselves in the midst of combat? While Suzuki didn’t name the “countries other than Japan” he was referring to, when discussing this question with undergraduates in my Japanese culture class, a student well versed in the history of European knighthood replied, “As far as Europe is concerned, there is a long history of employing duel-edged “long swords” with both hands just as in Japan. Further, if Japanese warriors were so unconcerned about their own lives, why did they develop what was at the time some of the strongest armor in the world to protect themselves?”

I had to agree with this student inasmuch as I had observed the same two-handed long swords when visiting the European sword exhibit housed in Edinburgh Castle in the spring of 2012. In any event, by elevating the alleged fearlessness of Japan’s warriors above that of their non-Japanese counterparts, Suzuki clearly demonstrates his nationalistic stance. A nationalism, it must be noted, that was deeply seeped in blood, both in the past and the war then underway.

It should also be noted that the Japanese military had long believed, dating from their victory in the Russo-Japanese War, that they could emerge victorious over a militarily superior (in terms of industrial capacity and weaponry) opponent. In this view, victory over a superior Western opponent, let alone China, was possible exactly because of the willingness of Japanese soldiers to die selflessly and unhesitatingly in battle. By contrast, the soldiers of other countries were seen as desiring nothing so much as to return home alive, thereby weakening their fighting spirit. Suzuki’s words could not have but lent credence to the Japanese military’s (over)confidence.

The themes introduced in his article, especially concerning the relationship of Zen to bushidō and samurai, are all topics that Suzuki had previously written about in both Japanese and English. For example, readers familiar with Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture (published in 1938 and reprinted in the postwar period as Zen and Japanese Culture) will recall that at the beginning of Chapter IV, “Zen and the Samurai,” Suzuki wrote:

In Japan, Zen was intimately related from the beginning of its history to the life of the samurai. Although it has never actively incited them to carry on their violent profession, it has passively sustained them when they have for whatever reason once entered into it. Zen has sustained them in two ways, morally and philosophically. Morally, because Zen is a religion which teaches us not to look backward once the course is decided upon; philosophically because it treats life and death indifferently. . . . Therefore, morally and philosophically, there is in Zen a great deal of attraction for the military classes. The military mind, being – and this is one of the essential qualities of the fighter – comparatively simple and not at all addicted to philosophizing finds a congenial spirit in Zen. This is probably one of the main reasons for the close relationship between Zen and the samurai.20 (Italics mine)

While Suzuki’s officer readers probably would not have welcomed his reference to their “comparatively simple” military minds, the preceding quote nevertheless accurately summarizes the article under discussion here. And to his credit, unlike most other wartime Japanese Zen leaders, Suzuki did not actively incite his officer readers to carry on their violent profession. By contrast, for example, in 1943 Sōtō Zen master Yasutani Haku’un [1885–1973] wrote:

Of course one should kill, killing as many as possible. One should, fighting hard, kill every one in the enemy army. The reason for this is that in order to carry [Buddhist] compassion and filial obedience through to perfection it is necessary to assist good and punish evil. . . . Failing to kill an evil man who ought to be killed, or destroying an enemy army that ought to be destroyed, would be to betray compassion and filial obedience, to break the precept forbidding the taking of life. This is a special characteristic of the Mahāyāna precepts.21

While these kinds of bellicose statements are notably absent from Suzuki’s writings, the current article, when read in its entirety, makes it clear that Suzuki did in fact seek to passively sustain Japan’s officers and men through his repeated advocacy of such things as “not look[ing] backward once the course is decided upon” and “treat[ing] life and death indifferently.” This leads to the question of just how different Suzuki was from someone like Yasutani given that Suzuki’s officer readers were also encouraged to “pour their entire body and mind into the attack” in the midst of an unprovoked invasion of China that resulted in the deaths of many millions of its citizens?

Even readers who haven’t served in the military can readily appreciate the fact that there are two fundamental questions that engulf a soldier’s mind prior to going into battle. First and foremost is the question of self-preservation, i.e., will I return alive? And a close second is - am I prepared to die if necessary? It is in answering the second question, i.e., in providing the mental preparation necessary for possible death, that a soldier’s religious faith is typically of paramount importance. Suzuki was well aware of this, for in promoting Zen training for warriors he wrote elsewhere: “Death now loses its sting altogether, and this is where the samurai training joins hands with Zen.”22

In short, read in its entirety Suzuki seeks in this article to prepare his officer readers, and through them ordinary soldiers, for death by weaponizing Zen, i.e., turning Zen into nothing less than a cult of death. The word ‘cult’ is used here to refer to one of its many meanings, i.e., a religious system devoted to only one thing -- death in this instance. On no less that six occasions throughout his article Suzuki stresses just how important being “prepared to die” (shineru) is, noting that Zen is “the best shortcut to acquire this frame of mind.”

Even if it could be demonstrated that this article was not written specifically for Japan’s Imperial Army officers, little would change, for there cannot be the slightest doubt that Suzuki’s words were intended for a wartime Japanese audience. This is made clear by Suzuki’s statement later in the article that “I think the extent of the crisis experienced then cannot be compared with the ordeal we are undergoing today.” As revealed in Zen at War, by 1941, if not before, all Japanese, young and old, civilian and military, were subject to a massive propaganda campaign, promulgated by government, Buddhist and educational leaders, to accept the death-embracing values of bushidō as their own. Or as expressed by Suzuki in this article: “. . . in undertaking any work one should be prepared to die.” (Italics mine)

Here, the question must be asked as to where this Zen shortcut to being prepared to die came from? Did it come from India, Buddhism’s birthplace, or China, Zen (Chan)’s sectarian home? It most definitely did not, for, as already noted, Suzuki tells us that Zen’s “real efficacy was supplied to a great extent after coming to Japan.” And as he further notes, it was only after arrival in Japan “that Zen became united with the sword.” Unlike the studied ambiguity that typically characterized his war and warrior-related writings in English, and oft-times in Japanese as well, Suzuki was clearly not speaking in this article of some metaphysical sword cutting through mental illusion.

Instead, Suzuki was referring to real swords wielded by some of Japan’s greatest Zen-trained warlords as, over the centuries, they and their subordinates cut through the flesh and bones of many thousands of their opponents on the battlefield, fully prepared to die in the process, using Zen as “the best shortcut to acquire this frame of mind.”

Interestingly, Suzuki admits in this article that some of the famous Zen-related anecdotes associated with Kamakura Regent Hōjō Tokimune (1251-84) may not have taken place.

He writes: “The following story has been handed down to us though I don’t know how much of this legend is actually true.” Compare this admission with Suzuki’s presentation of the same material in Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture. Addressing his English readers, Suzuki wrote that while the exchange between Tokimune and National Master Bukkō (1226-86) is “not quite authenticated,” it nevertheless “gives support to our imaginative reconstruction of his [Tokimune’s] attitude towards Zen.”23

One is left to speculate what Suzuki’s officer readers knew about these allegedly Zen-related anecdotes that his Western readers didn’t know (or perhaps more accurately, weren’t supposed to know).

In any event, when reading Suzuki’s repeated claims about the similarities between Zen and the Japanese, one is left to wonder whether it was Zen that shaped “the characteristics of the Japanese people” or, on the contrary, was it “the characteristics of the Japanese people” that shaped Zen? Or perhaps there was some mystical karmic connection that led both of them down the same path – a path in which to “rush forward without hesitation” and “cease discriminating thought” came to mean “one should abandon life and rush ahead”?

Furthermore, Suzuki is quite willing to privilege his fellow Japanese with a national character that almost inherently disposes them to Zen. For example, Suzuki claims “there are things about the Japanese character that are amazingly consistent with Zen.” That is to say, the Japanese people “rush forward to the heart of things without meandering about” and “go directly forward to that goal without looking either to the right or to the left.” In so doing they “forget where they are.”

If only in hindsight, in reading words like these, it is difficult not be reminded of the infamous and tactically futile “banzai charges” of the wartime Imperial Army let alone the tactics of kamikaze pilots and the manned torpedoes (kaiten) of the Imperial Navy.

Yet, is it fair to interpret Suzuki’s words as expressions of support for such suicidal acts?

One of Suzuki’s defenders who strongly opposes such an interpretation is Kemmyō Taira Satō, a Shin (True Pure Land) Buddhist priest who identifies himself as one of Suzuki’s postwar disciples. Satō writes: “Apart from his silence on Bushido after the early 1940s, Suzuki was active as an author during all of the war years, submitting to Buddhist journals numerous articles that conspicuously avoided mention of the ongoing conflict.” (Italics mine)

As further proof, Sato cites an article written by the noted Suzuki scholar Kirita Kiyohide:

During this [war] period one of the journals Suzuki contributed to frequently, Daijōzen [Mahayana Zen], fairly bristled with pro-militarist articles. In issues filled with essays proclaiming “Victory in the Holy War!” and bearing such titles as “Death Is the Last Battle,” “Certain Victory for Kamikaze and Torpedoes,” and “The Noble Sacrifice of a Hundred Million,” Suzuki continued with contributions on subjects like “Zen and Culture.”24

On the one hand, these statements inevitably raise the question of Suzuki’s attitude to Japan’s attack on the U.S. in December 1941. That is to say, what was it that caused Suzuki to stop writing about such war-related topics as bushidō in the early 1940s? Could it have been his opposition to war with the U.S. versus his earlier support for Japan’s full-scale invasion of China from 1937 onwards? Setting this topic aside for further exploration below, the question remains, inasmuch as Suzuki, at least in June 1941, affirmed such things as the acceptability of a dog’s, i.e., meaningless, death, and noted that “in undertaking any work one should be prepared to die” what basis would he have had for opposing such suicidal attacks?

Yet another of Chan’s deficiencies is that in China, Chan had been almost entirely bereft of a military connection. By contrast, it was only after Chan became Zen in Japan that it was linked to Zen-practicing warriors. In fact, Suzuki claims that from the Kamakura period onwards, all Japanese warriors practiced Zen. Suzuki makes this claim despite the fact that the greatest of all Japan’s medieval warriors, i.e., Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), was an adherent of the Pure Land sect (J. Jōdo-shū) Buddhism, not Zen. Suzuki also urges his readers to pay special attention to the fact that “Zen became united with the sword” only after its arrival in Japan.

For Suzuki it was such great medieval warlords as Hōjō Tokimune, Uesugi Kenshin (1530-78), and Takeda Shingen (1521-73) who demonstrated the impact the unity of Zen and the sword had on the subsequent development of Japan. It was their Zen training that allowed these men to “rush forward without hesitation” and “cease discriminating thought.” If, in the case of Hōjō Tokimune, it can be said that at least his was a defensive war against invading Mongols, the same cannot be said for such warlords as Uesugi and Takeda. They were responsible for the deaths of thousands of their enemies and their own forces, each one of them attempting to conquer Japan. Suzuki lumps these warlords together as exemplars of what can be accomplished with the proper mental attitude acquired through Zen training. Suzuki does not even hint at the possibility that in the massive carnage these warlords collectively reaped, the Buddhist precept against the taking of life might have been violated.

It is instructive here to compare Suzuki’s words with those of Japan’s most celebrated, Zen-trained “god of war” (gunshin) of the Asia-Pacific War. I refer to Lt. Col. Sugimoto Gorō, whose posthumous book, Taigi (Great Duty), first published in 1938, sold over a million copies, a far greater number than I first realized when writing Zen at War.

Sugimoto provided the following rationale for Zen’s importance to the Imperial military: “Through my practice of Zen I am able to get rid of my ego. In facilitating the accomplishment of this, Zen becomes, as it is, the true spirit of the Imperial military.”25 Suzuki was clearly in basic agreement with Sugimoto’s claim.

Suzuki argues that it isn’t sufficient to simply discard life and death. Instead, one should “live on the basis of something larger than life and death. That is to say, one must live on the basis of great affirmation.” But what did this “great affirmation” consist of? Suzuki fails to elaborate beyond stating that it is “faith that is great affirmation.” Yet, what should the object of one’s faith be?

Once again Suzuki remains silent on this critical question apart from stating that the way to encounter this great affirmation is to dig ever deeper to the bottom of one’s mind, digging until there is nothing left to dig. It was only then, he claims, that “one can, for the first time, encounter great affirmation.”
Suzuki admits, however, that this great affirmation is not a single entity but “takes on various forms for the peoples of every country.” Yet, what form does or should it take in a Japan that had invaded and was fighting a long and bitter war with China?

As in many other instances of his wartime writings, and as alluded to above, Suzuki maintains a studied ambiguity that makes it impossible to state with certainty what he was referring to. That said, it is clear that nothing in his article would have served to dissuade his readers from fulfilling, let alone questioning, their duties as Imperial Army officers or soldiers in China or elsewhere. Had there been the slightest question that anything Suzuki wrote might have negatively impacted Imperial Army officers who were to be of “one mind and body,” it is inconceivable that the editors of the Kaikō Association Report would have published it.

In asserting this, let me express my appreciation to Sueki Fumihiko, one of Japan’s leading historians of modern Japanese Buddhism. In an article entitled “Daisetsu hihan saikō” (Rethinking Criticisms of Daisetsu [Suzuki]), Sueki first presented the arguments made by some of Suzuki’s most prominent defenders, namely, that when some of Suzuki’s wartime writings are closely parsed it is possible to interpret them as containing criticisms of the Imperial Army’s recklessness as well as its abuse of the alleged magnanimity and compassion of the true bushidō spirit. Further, Sueki acknowledges, as do I, that in the days leading up to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor Suzuki opposed war with the U.S. Nevertheless, Sueki came to the following conclusion: “When we frankly accept Suzuki’s words at face value, we must also consider how, in the midst of the [war] situation as it was then, his words would have been understood.”26

As for Suzuki’s opposition to war with the U.S., it is significant that his one and only public warning did not come until September 1941, i.e., only three months before Pearl Harbor. The unlikely occasion was a guest lecture Suzuki delivered at Kyoto University entitled “Zen and Japanese Culture.” Upon finishing his lecture, Suzuki initially stepped down from the podium but then returned to add:

Japan must evaluate more calmly and accurately the awesome reality of America’s industrial productivity. Present-day wars will no longer be determined as in the past by military strategy and tactics, courage and fearlessness alone. This is because of the large role now played by production capacity and mechanical power. 27

As his words clearly reveal, Suzuki’s opposition to the approaching war with the U.S. had nothing to do with his Buddhist faith or a commitment to peace. Rather, having lived in America for more than a decade, Suzuki knew only too well that Japan was no match for such a large and powerful industrial nation. In short, Suzuki’s words might best be described as a statement of “common sense” though by 1941 this was clearly a commodity in short supply in Japan.

Be that as it may, when we ask how Suzuki’s Imperial Army officer readers would have interpreted the “great affirmation” he referred to, there can be no doubt they would have understood this to be an affirmation, if not an exhortation, for total loyalty unto death to an emperor who was held to be the divine embodiment of the state. The following calligraphic statement, displayed prominently in every Imperial Army barracks, testified to this: “We are the arms and legs of the emperor.” Due to its ubiquitous nature, Suzuki could not help but have been aware of this “affirmation.” Thus, whatever Suzuki’s personal opinion may have been, he would have been well aware that his officer readers would understand his words to mean absolute loyalty to the emperor.

Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that in one important aspect Suzuki did part way with other wartime Zen enthusiasts, for not withstanding his emphasis on “great affirmation,” Suzuki does not explicitly link Zen to the emperor. Compare this absence to the previously introduced Lt. Col. Sugimoto who wrote: “The reason that Zen is important for soldiers is that all Japanese, especially soldiers, must live in the spirit of the unity of sovereign and subjects, eliminating their ego and getting rid of their self. It is exactly the awakening to the nothingness (mu) of Zen that is the fundamental spirit of the unity of sovereign and subjects.”28

By not engaging in emperor adulation in his wartime writings, Suzuki was unique among his Zen contemporaries. Yet this does not mean that he either opposed the emperor system per se or lacked respect for the emperor. This is revealed by the following statement Suzuki made to Gerhard Rosenkrantz, a German missionary visiting Japan in 1939, in the library of Otani University:

We Buddhists bow in front of the emperor’s image, but for us this is not a religious act. The emperor is not a god because for Buddhists a [Shinto] god can be something very low. We see the emperor in an area high above all religions. Trying to make him a god today means a reduction in the status of the emperor. This brings confusion to Buddhism, Shinto and Christianity.29

Thus, even while denying the emperor’s divinity, Suzuki nevertheless justified bowing to the emperor’s image inasmuch he was a personage “in an area high above all religions.”

Nor should it be forgotten that Suzuki’s article was not written exclusively on behalf of Imperial Army officers alone. As previously noted, a key responsibility of the officer corps was to provide “spiritual education” for their soldiers. Thus, they were in constant need of additional historical examples of the attitude that all Imperial subjects, starting with Imperial soldiers, were expected to possess, i.e., an unquestioning, unhesitant and unthinking willingness to die in the war effort. Suzuki’s writings clearly contributed to this effort though it is, of course, impossible to quantify the impact his writings had.


Let me begin this section in something of an unusual manner, i.e., by offering a “defense” of what Suzuki has written in this and similar articles dealing with warriors, bushidō, and the alleged unity of Zen and the sword. That said, while a genuine defense is offered, it is one that nevertheless has a “hook in the tail.”

My contention is that Suzuki should not be blamed for having distorted or mischaracterized Zen history or practice, especially in Japan, to make it a useful tool in the hands of Japanese militarists. That is to say, on the one hand Suzuki can and should be held responsible for the purely nationalistic elements in his writings, including collaboration in the modern fabrication of an ancient and unified bushidō tradition with Zen as its core. Yet, on the other hand, the seven hundred year long history of the close relationship between Zen and the warrior class, hence Zen and the sword, was most definitely not a Suzuki fabrication. There are simply too many historical records of this close relationship to claim that Suzuki simply invented the relationship out of whole cloth.

Thus, Suzuki might best be described as a skilled, modern day, nationalistic proponent of that close relationship in the deadly context of Japan’s invasion of China. Further, in his English writings, Suzuki did his best to convince gullible Westerners that the so-called “unity of Zen and the sword” he described was an authentic expression of Buddhist teachings. In this effort, it must be said, Suzuki has been, at least until recently, eminently successful.

Some Suzuki scholars attempt to defend the most egregious aspects of Suzuki’s nationalist and wartime writings by pointing out that he may have been coerced into writing them by the then totalitarian state. Certainly, there can be no doubt that Suzuki wrote in an era of intense governmental censorship, with authorities ever vigilant against the slightest ideological deviancy. Nevertheless, the most striking features of Suzuki’s substantive wartime writings are, first of all, that they were never censored, and, secondly, their consistency with his earlier writings, dating back to 1896. That is to say, over a span of forty-five years Suzuki repeatedly yoked religion, Buddhism and Zen to the Japanese soldiers’ willingness to die. Certainly no one would claim that Suzuki was writing under fear of government censorship or imprisonment in 1896.

Where Suzuki did break with the past close relationship of Zen to the warrior class was in transmuting this feudal relationship into one encompassing Zen and the modern Japanese state albeit not specifically with the personage of the emperor. It is in having done this that he can rightly be identified as a “Zen nationalist.”30 Needless to say, he was only one of many such Zen leaders, and when compared with the likes of Yasutani Haku’un, Suzuki was clearly less extreme.31

When we inquire as to the cause or reason for the close relationship between Zen, violence, and the modern state that Suzuki promoted, the answer is not hard to find. In his book, Buddhism without Beliefs, Stephan Bachelor [Stephen Batchelor] provides the following explanation regarding not just Zen but all faiths, i.e., "the power of organized religion to provide sovereign states with a bulwark of moral legitimacy. . .”32 To which I would add in this instance, the power of Zen training to mentally prepare warriors/soldiers to both kill and be killed. Or as Suzuki would have it, to “passively sustain” them on the battlefield.

Having said this, I would ask readers to reflect on the historical relationship of their own faith, should they have one, to the state, and state-initiated violence. Was Batchelor correct in his observation with regard to the reader’s faith? That is to say, have not all of the world’s major religions, like Buddhism, provided moral legitimacy for the state’s use of violence? Is Buddhism unique in having done this or only one further example of Chicago University Martin Marty’s insightful comment that “one must note the feature of religion that keeps it on the front page and on prime time -- it kills”?33

To answer yes to any of these questions is not to excuse, let alone justify, Zen or any other school of Buddhism’s moral lapses in this or any instance. Yet, it does suggest the enormity of the problem facing all faiths if they are to remain true to their tenets, all of which number love and compassion among their highest ideals. At the end of his life Buddha Shakyamuni is recorded as having urged his followers to “work out your salvation with diligence.” In the face of continuing, if not increasing, religious violence in today’s world, is his advice any less relevant to all who, if only in terms of their own faith, seek to create a religion truly dedicated to world peace and our shared humanity?

Brian Daizen Victoria is a Visiting Research Fellow, International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto, Japan.
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Part 2 of 2

Appendix I (Complete English Translation of Article)

“Makujiki Kōzen” (Rush Forward Without Hesitation).34

I think that most scholars and informed persons will agree that Zen thought is one of the most important factors forming the basis of Japanese culture. Although Zen originally came from India, in reality it was brought to fruition in China while its real efficacy was achieved to a great extent after coming to Japan.

The reason for this is that there are things about the Japanese character that are amazingly consistent with Zen. I think the most visible of these is rushing forward to the heart of things without meandering about. Once the goal has been determined, one goes directly forward to that goal without looking either to the right or to the left. One goes forward, forgetting where one is. I think this is the most essential element of the Japanese character. In this, I think, Zen is one of the strongest factors allowing the Japanese people to rush forward.

For example, the Japanese hold a sword with both hands, not one. Although I have not researched this question extensively, in countries other than Japan they use only one hand to hold a sword. Further, they use their left hand to hold a shield. That is to say, they use one hand to defend themselves while they use the other hand to strike the enemy. Although my knowledge is limited, this is what I think as I observe the world at large. However, a sword in Japan is held with two hands. There is no attempt to defend oneself. There is only striking down the other. That is to say, one discards the body and plunges toward the other. This is the Japanese people’s way of doing things. And it also happens to be the Zen way of doing things.

I became aware of this from [my experience in] a Zen meditation hall. In a Japanese meditation hall there is something called a waking stick (keisaku). A waking stick is made of wood and is about 121 cm long. It is an implement used to strike someone who is practicing zazen in a situation where their shoulders become stiff from having put too much strength into them. At that time, both hands are used to wield the waking stick.

In China, too, there is a kind of waking stick. Although I don’t know what was used in the past, the waking stick that is used today is approximately 76 cm long and is used for striking with only one hand. However, in Japan we use both hands. Given this, it may be that only at the time the waking stick first arrived in Japan was it held with one hand. Then, after coming to Japan, it became used with two hands.

The meaning of the fact that the waking stick is employed with two hands is that one is able to pour one’s entire strength into its use. That doesn’t mean that it is impossible to pour one’s entire strength into wielding the waking stick with only one hand, but I think that using both hands, rather than one, is better and enables one to more fully put one’s entire strength into the effort. In Europe there is something known as fencing which employs a thin blade using only one hand. In this instance the left hand is simply held high above the shoulder while one thrusts forward with all one’s might. However, the place at which one’s power emerges is the very tip of the blade being held with one hand. In a situation where one holds a sword with both hands, there is no doubt that, in comparison with holding it with one hand, one is better able to exert one’s full strength. While I don’t know what a practitioner of swordsmanship would say about this, seen from the point of view of an outsider like myself, this is how it appears.

Although it is said that [the famous swordsman] Miyamoto Musashi used two swords, I have heard that in an actual swordsmanship match he never used two swords though I don’t know how true that is. Furthermore, I think that in a situation where Musashi used two swords, one of them was simply used for defense.

It was not a question of both swords being used independently by each hand, but a situation in which the movement of one mind expressed itself, depending on the situation, with each of two swords. For that reason it was not a question of thrusting with each one of two swords but of either thrusting with both hands or slicing with both hands at the same time. The truth is that while he appeared to use two swords, I think the reality was that he employed the swords in both hands as if he were grasping a single long sword.

Be that as it may, the character of the Japanese people is to come straight to the point and pour their entire body and mind into the attack. This is the character of the Japanese people and, at the same time, the essence of Zen.

The Meaning of Being Prepared to Die

The Hagakure states that bushidō means to be prepared to die. That is to say, in undertaking any kind of work it is said that one must “die first.” It may be that in such a situation there is something known as a dog’s [i.e., pointless] death. It may be that when it is the right time to die one should simply die in that situation. In any event, what the Hagakure states is that even a dog’s death is all right. That is to say, in undertaking any work one should be prepared to die.

This is the way it is written [in the Hagakure], and seen from a psychological point of view this is, I think, truly the way it ought to be. In human beings there is, in general, something known as the self. The concept of an individual self is not something easily gotten rid of. In Buddhism this is something known as illusion. Illusion is made up of fine threads that are strung together in such a way as to make it impossible to move freely. Although the threads are extremely fine, one is incessantly caught in their grasp. The decision to be prepared to die means the cutting of these threads. To truly be able to do this is not possible simply by deciding to die in the course of working. There is something far deeper than this that must be done.

In this connection there is the following story. In medieval Europe there was a lady who decided to enter a nunnery to engage in religious practice, but her family wasn’t willing to let her go. Although a number of years passed, she had no opportunity to make good her escape. Then, one night a good opportunity came, and she managed to leave home. She intended to go to a monastery and spend the rest of her life in religious practice. Upon leaving home she took some money with her because she felt that without money she wouldn’t be able to buy something to eat along the way.

What can be said in this regard is that her attraction to money was a symbol of just how hard it was for her to overcome attachment to a world she claimed to have cast aside. At that point the lady thought to herself how lamentable it was that in the midst of having discarded the world, her parents and siblings, in order to dedicate herself to God, she was still attached to money. She became worried about the money she had taken, thinking that she would be unable to accomplish anything. Thinking to herself that she had to cast aside the money, she decided to get rid of it. As a result, the story goes, her mood underwent a drastic change, and she acquired a frame of mind in which she was readily able to do what had to be done.

In the past, there was a Buddhist priest by the name of St. Kūya. St. Kūya constantly recited the phrase, Namu Amida-butsu [Hail to Amitābha Buddha], as he walked about. There is a story that at one point someone asked him, “What is the purpose of Buddhist practice?” He replied, “Discard everything!” as he quickly walked past. This “discard” is the main point of Buddhism and also the spirit of Zen.

Discarding a sum of money is the same as discarding one’s life. Now in the case of the Christian woman, money represented the same bond of life and death as it does to an ordinary warrior who fails to become free due to his routine mental state. In the past, a warrior was someone who discarded his life on behalf of his master. It meant that he could discard his life in the midst of battle.

It may well be that discarding one’s life in the midst of battle is relatively easy, for I think it isn’t too difficult for ordinary people to discard their lives when the entire environment calls for it. However, what is difficult is to give up one’s life in peacetime. That is to say, when the world is at peace. It is then that it is difficult to have a frame of mind in which one is prepared to give up everything one has. Yet, someone who is able to do so is completely free, though this mental state is quite difficult to acquire.

In the past they discussed this problem in China, too. A nation would fall, they said, in a situation where warriors, becoming cautious, were reluctant to lose their lives while, at the same time, government officials sought to enrich themselves. Should there be military men who were reluctant to lose their lives they would be of no use whatsoever. Should there be any like that, they ought to stop being military men. When this is applied to government officials, this is not simply a question of their loving money or fame. Rather, I believe it is possible to say that they, too, must try to discard their lives. In the past there was no special class known as government officials, for warriors were both military men and government officials. In peacetime warriors engaged in politics in government offices while in wartime they took up the sword and charged ahead. Military men became political figures, and political figures were originally military men.

In any event, it isn’t easy to acquire the mental state in which one is prepared to die. I think the best shortcut to acquire this frame of mind is none other than Zen, for Zen is the fundamental ideal of religion. It isn’t simply a question of being prepared to die, as Zen is prepared to transcend death. This is called the “unity of life and death” in which living and dying are viewed as one. The fact that these two are one represents Zen’s view of human life and the world.

In the past there was [a Zen priest by the name of] National Teacher Sekizan. A story describes a disciple who asked him, “I and others are imprisoned by life and death and cannot become free. What can we do to realize the unity of life and death?” Sekizan taught him, saying, “You don’t have such trivial things as life and death!”

Rushing Forward Without Hesitation

At present I am in Kamakura where I live within Engakuji temple’s precincts. I would like to discuss Hōjō Tokimune and National Teacher Bukkō who constructed Engakuji temple. Tokimune became regent when he was only eighteen years old and died at the age of thirty-four. His rule of seventeen years began and ended with a foreign policy directed against the Mongols. Were something like this to take place today when transportation is readily available, I think it would be easy to get information about the enemy. However, in the Kamakura period it was almost impossible to get information about either the enemy or their disposition. Still, communication was possible through people who either went to China from Japan or came to Japan from China, so I think there was quite a lot of information available.

That said, in one sense one nevertheless encountered a large unknown. The large unknown was exactly when and under what conditions the enemy would arrive. I think that as far as Tokimune, their opponent, was concerned, it was not sufficient to be just politically or militarily prepared. One is able to fight well only when one knows both the enemy and those at one’s side. Because it was an unknown enemy, it was very difficult to determine the size of the force that would be sufficient to oppose them. Nevertheless, it was a situation in which, moment by moment, the crisis drew nearer. I think the extent of the crisis experienced then cannot be compared with the ordeal we are undergoing today. I would like to imagine the frame of mind that made it possible to surmount the hardships of those times.

At long last, a massive Mongol army invaded on two occasions. In opposing them, Tokimune never once set foot out of Kamakura. The war took place within the confines of [the southern island of] Kyushu. Today we wouldn’t describe such a place as being far away, but rather, close at hand. However, in the Kamakura period, in an age when travel was difficult, it must be said that Kyushu was indeed a distant place. Further, although Tokimune didn’t relocate the Shogunate [military] government, he was still able to gather soldiers together from throughout the country of their own free will.

Tokimune didn’t accomplish this by himself. Instead, it was the nature of Kamakura in those days that made it possible for him, due to his virtue, to unite all the people together in a harmonious whole, not simply through the exercise of his power. I think this was not something he was able to do on his own. True enough, there were Shinto shrines flourishing throughout the country, not to mention [the protection of] various gods and Buddhas. Yet, while it is fine to pray to them, the power of prayer by itself would not serve to defeat the enemy. I think one must have material goods such as tanks to counter tanks in order to accomplish this. When the Mongolian soldiers attacked, merely praying for their death would be insufficient. That is to say, it was necessary to prepare a sufficient military force. It is said there was a divine wind [kamikaze], but the blowing of such a divine wind was recognized only after the fact, not before it occurred. That is to say, it was impossible to depend on a divine wind before it had blown. If, in anticipation of a divine wind, Tokimune had failed to make preparations, it may well be that the Mongol soldiers would have advanced as far as Kyoto at some point.

Although people like myself are not familiar with strategic military terminology, I am sure Tokimune must have had a plan prepared consisting of a first, second and third stage. I’m sure he wouldn’t have done something so reckless as to construct a fortress and then tell everyone to take it easy. If this is true, then he simply didn’t remain in Kamakura unperturbed. Being the type of person he was, there can be no doubt that he must have first thought of the preparations and methods that would allow him to remain calm. It is unthinkable that it could simply be a question of his attitude or daring alone.

Without observing the other side, nothing can be accomplished. Even if there were such a thing as bravery unconcerned about the other side, there must be appropriate methods for the effective utilization of such bravery. If it were possible to pray for the death of the enemy without using appropriate methods, i.e., by means of spirit alone, it may well be that there are enemies who can be killed in this way. But it may also be there are enemies who cannot be killed through the power of prayer. This way [of defeating the enemy] simply can’t be counted on. There must be other effective methods that can be utilized. I believe it is only common sense to think that Tokimune must have possessed such methods. While my knowledge of history is limited, not to mention that I have no knowledge of military strategy, nevertheless, as someone with common sense, what I have said is quite possible when one considers the state of affairs at that time.

The following story has been handed down to us though I don’t know how much of this legend is actually true. Nevertheless, it is clear that even if a legend didn’t actually occur at the time and place claimed, there was a background to asserting that the events in the legend actually happened. If may well be that not all historical facts that have been transmitted down to us are true. But the reason we accept something that didn’t actually happen is because we must have already prepared something within our minds that allows us to accept it as fact. This becomes reflected in the environment and is transmitted to us as fact. And for this reason persons who hear facts like these can immediately believe them.

The significance of the preceding discussion concerns the moment when, having received news that the Mongolian soldiers were on their way, Tokimune approached National Master Bukkō to inform him that a fearful situation confronted him. In response National Master Bukkō immediately said, “Rush forward without hesitation!”

In addition, there is also this exchange between the two. Tokimune asked National Master Bukkō, “When various incidents occur, and I am perplexed by things that happen here, and by things that happen there, what frame of mind should I have in seeking to deal with them?” It is said that National Master Bukkō immediately responded, “Cease discriminating thought!”

Either expression, i.e., “rush forward without hesitation” or “cease discriminating thought,” is fine. Further, whether National Master Bukkō actually said these words or, instead, Tokimune expressed his own belief, is likewise fine. In any event, it is sufficient to imagine that at some point National Master Bukkō and Tokimune had a conversation like this.

These exchanges point to the fact that by the time the Mongol soldiers arrived, Tokimune was already mentally prepared. I think this means there was no need for Tokimune to make a specific visit to National Master Bukkō to show his determination. I imagine that these exchanges, like something out of a drama or novel, were created in order to effectively reveal his frame of mind. This is because Tokimune had already undergone sufficient mental training during the course of his life. This wasn’t a situation in which the matter would be resolved simply by asking something like what I should do now that the Mongols have arrived. The greater the power someone has developed is, the greater its application is to be commended. As we have all already experienced, momentary pretense is of no use.

Leaving aside the question of whether the preceding exchanges actually occurred at a particular point in time, there can be no doubt that Tokimune was wont to use “rush forward without hesitation” and “cease discriminating thought” as the core of his methods for mental training. In one sense it can be said that “rush forward without hesitation” and “cease discriminating thought” are characteristics of the Japanese people. Their implication is that, disregarding birth and death, one should abandon life and rush ahead. It is here, I think, that Zen and the Japanese people’s, especially the warriors,’ basic outlook are in agreement.

The Essence of Things

In China, Zen served, on the one hand, as a kind of philosophy and, on the other hand, as religious belief. Although in China there were quite a few scholars, religious persons and artists who practiced Zen, it appears that it did not become the basis of Chinese life. In particular, one hears almost nothing about military men and warriors who practiced Zen. If we consider Wang Yangming to have been a military man, his main profession was nevertheless that of a scholar or, more specifically, a scholar of Confucianism. However, it is true that he did fight and was very successful. As far as military men who practiced Zen in China, he was, I think, probably the only one to have done so.

However, when Zen came to Japan things were completely different. In Japan warriors have, for the most part, practiced Zen. Especially from the Kamakura period [1185-1333] through the Ashikaga [1337-1573] and Warring States period [1467-1567], it is correct to say that all of them practiced Zen. This is clear when one looks at such famous examples as [warlords] Uesugi Kenshin, Takeda Shingen, and others. And then, with the advent of the Tokugawa period [1603-1868], we find Zen was very popular among famous painters.

I believe one should pay special attention to the fact that Zen became united with the sword. When we look at the inner essence of swordsmanship, or its secret teachings, or its oral transmission, it can be said that all of them added an element of Zen. There is no need to give various examples of this inasmuch as those who have researched this question even slightly would readily agree.
That said, one of the clearest examples can be seen in the relationship between [Zen Master] Takuan and [sword master] Yagyū Tajima no kami. And while not as well known as Yagyū Tajima-no-kami, there is also the relationship between Katō Dewa-no-kami Taikō, Lord of the Iyō Ōzu [region], and Zen Master Bankei. Lord Katō of Ōzu was an expert with a spear. While I don’t know how skilled Zen Master Bankei was with a spear, given that he was a Buddhist priest I think he may not have been all that skilled. Nevertheless Katō Taikō received a secret transmission concerning the spear from Zen Master Bankei.

Whether we are talking about the inner essence of swordsmanship or that of politics, or battle, the most important question for all persons is that of the self. One must begin to discard the individual self. When you have something called a self you are slave to the self. This is because the self is something that, by nature, is born and dies. If one attempts to distance oneself from life and death, one must not have a self.

One must transcend the self. However, this is not a question of discarding or eliminating the self. In order to eliminate the self one must find something that is larger than the self. Human beings are unable to accomplish anything by being passive. On the other hand, when they actively affirm something they are able to act. By nature human beings die through negation and live through affirmation. One mustn’t simply discard life and death but, instead, live on the basis of something larger that life and death. That is to say, one must live on the basis of great affirmation. If it were simply a question of discarding that would be negation, not affirmation.

To be more precise, it is faith that is great affirmation. One must encounter this great affirmation. Depending on the person, this great affirmation can take many forms. Further, I think that it takes on various forms for the peoples of every country. Still further, I think that it takes on various forms depending on the social class of the person in question. Nevertheless, if it is a question of true affirmation, it must consist of digging deeply to the bottom of one’s mind, then more deeply and still more deeply to the point where there is nothing left to dig. It is only then that one can, for the first time, encounter great affirmation.

When this is expressed in a Confucian context it is called sincerity. In the Shinto tradition it can be called being without artifice. Whether it is called sincerity or being without artifice, these are not things that can be acquired in a whimsical manner. Nor are they things that, as ordinary people never tire of saying, can be united together. This great affirmation is something that people must experience for themselves, not bragging about it boisterously and indiscriminately in front of others. This must be thoroughly understood. Rather than rambling on about this great affirmation in front of others, it should be stored in one’s mind and taken out and used as necessary.

A 17th century] scholar by the name of Yamaga Sokō [1622-85] wrote a work entitled Seikyō-yōron [A Summary of Confucian Teachings]. In this work he defines sincerity as meaning “something unavoidable.” Sincerity, then, is something that cannot be avoided. The meaning of “something unavoidable” is that one digs deep, deeper and still deeper into the innermost recesses of the mind. Having reached the culmination of digging deep into the mind, one encounters a moving object. The moving object encountered is “something unavoidable.” That which people never tire of talking about is not “something unavoidable,” but rather something that is nothing more than an aspect of the self. Therefore, it is not a moving object that comes from the innermost depth of the mind. Further, Yamaga Sokō states “something unavoidable” is “something natural.” This “something natural” ought to be seen as the equivalent of “being without artifice.”

Finally, there is this poem. In the Tokugawa era there was a person by the name of Zen Master Shidō Bunan. Among his poems is the following:

Become a dead man while still alive and do so thoroughly.
Then you will be able to live as your heart leads you.35

There is no need for further explanation. I leave this up to my readers to interpret as they wish.

Brian Victoria, Visiting Research Fellow, International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto. Brian Daizen Victoria holds an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Sōtō Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University. In addition to a 2nd, enlarged edition of Zen At War (Rowman & Littlefield), major writings include Zen War Stories (RoutledgeCurzon); an autobiographical work in Japanese entitled Gaijin de ari, Zen bozu de ari (As a Foreigner, As a Zen Priest); Zen Master Dōgen, coauthored with Prof. Yokoi Yūhō of Aichi-gakuin University (Weatherhill); and a translation of The Zen Life by Sato Koji (Weatherhill). He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (aka Nichibunken) in Kyoto.

Recommended citation: Brian Daizen Victoria, "Zen as a Cult of Death in the Wartime Writings of D.T. Suzuki," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 30, No. 5. August 5, 2013.

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• Brian Victoria, Karma, War and Inequality in Twentieth Century Japan


1 Quoted in Victoria, Zen at War, 2nd ed., p. ix.

2 Ibid., p. x.

3 Quoted in Hockenos, A Church Divided: German Protestants Confront the Nazi Past, p. 76.

4 For examples of Buddhist clerical resistance to Japanese militarism, see Zen at War, especially pp. 66-78. For a more detailed discussion of the nature of so-called “holy war” as found in all of the world’s major religions, see Victoria, “Holy War: Toward a Holistic Understanding,” in the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Fall 2007. Available on the Web: here (accessed 24 July 2013).

5 For a sampling of this controversy, including criticisms of my understanding of D.T. Suzuki, see the two articles written by Satō Gemmyō Taira included in the Bibliography section of this paper. They are readily accessible on the Web.

6 The evidence is most readily available in the following two articles: 1) Kemmyō Taira Satō, “D. T. Suzuki and the Question of War.” Translated in collaboration with Thomas Kirchner. The Eastern Buddhist 39/1: 61–120. Available on the web at: ... of-War.pdf ; and 2) Kemmyō Taira Satō, “Brian Victoria and the Question of Scholarship.” The Eastern Buddhist 41/2: 139–166. Available on the web at: this location.

7 Benesch, “Bushido: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan,” p. 245. Available on the Web at: this location.

8 Ibid., p. 3.

9 Ibid., pp. 305-6.

10 Suzuki, “The Zen Sect of Buddhism,” Journal of the Pali Text Society, p. 34.

11 Suzuki, “A Buddhist View of War.” Light of Dharma 4, 1904, pp. 181–82.

12 Suzuki, A Treatise on the New Meaning of Religion (Shin Shūkyō-ron). Quoted in Suzuki Daisetsu Zenshū, vol. 23, p. 140.

13 Shaku, Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot, p. 203. The entire book is available on the Web at The last three chapters are particularly relevant.

14 Suzuki, Shin-Bukkyō-to (New Buddhists) magazine, vol. 13, no. 10, p. 1005. I am grateful to Takahashi Hara of Tokyo University for having brought the Japanese original of this quotation to my attention.

15 For a brief introduction to Suzuki’s contribution to Bushidō no Shinzui, i.e., his article entitled “Zen and Bushidō,” see Victoria, Zen at War, pp. 110-11.

16 Although the Kaikō-sha was disbanded with Japan’s defeat in August 1945, it was reconstituted following the end of the US Occupation of Japan in 1952. The organization’s website, including a Japanese language history of the Kaikō-sha, can be accessed here:

17 “Seishin Bunka no Kiban toshite no Tetsugaku” (The Philosophical Foundation of Spiritual Culture) Kaikō-sha Kiji, June 1941, p. 16.

18 For an introduction to the role that Zen played in the Imperial Army, see Chapter Eight, “The Emergence of Imperial-State Zen and Soldier-Zen,” in Zen at War, pp. 95-129.

19 Suzuki, “Makujiki Kōzen,” published in Kaikō-sha kiji, June 1941, pp. 17-26. This article was anthologized in Suzuki’s book, Isshinjitsu no Sekai, also published in 1941.

20 Suzuki, Zen Buddhism And Its Influence on Japanese Culture, pp. 34-35.

21 Quoted in Victoria, Zen War Stories, p. 72.

22 Suzuki, Zen Buddhism And Its Influence on Japanese Culture, p. 46.

23 Suzuki, Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture, p. 40.

24 Satō, “D. T. Suzuki and the Question of War,” p. 102.

25 Quoted in Victoria, Zen War Stories, p. 124.

26 Sueki, “Daisetsu hihan saikō,” p. 8.

27 Quoted in Zen at War, pp. 151-52. Suzuki’s remarks have long been invoked as proof of his “anti-war” stance, but he was merely warning against fighting a war with a much stronger country, i.e., the U.S. and its allies, that a relatively small country like Japan was bound to lose. The date of these remarks, i.e., September 1941, is also important in that it appears to be the only time Suzuki publicly expressed, if only indirectly, his opposition to an attack on the U.S. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 Suzuki only voiced his opposition in a muted manner in private correspondence. Suzuki’s voice was, of course, not the only one warning against war with the U.S. For example, even Imperial Navy Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku opposed war with the U.S. for the same reasons as Suzuki. Nevertheless, being the professional military man that he was, Yamamoto went on to plan and execute the attack on Pearl Harbor.

28 Quoted in Victoria, Zen War Stories, p. 124.

29 Rosenkranz, Fernost - wohin? Begegnungen mit den Religionen Japans und Chinas im Umbruch der Gegenwart. Heilbronn, Verlag Eugen Salzer 1940. Available on the web in German at: this location.

30 For further exploration of the nationalist elements in Suzuki’s understanding of Zen, see the two following articles by Robert Sharf: 1) “The Zen of Japanese Nationalism.” History of Religions, Vol. 33, No. 1. (Aug., 1993), pp. 1-43. Available on the web at: this site and 2) “Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited” in Rude Awakenings: Zen the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism, James W. Heisig and John C. Maraldo, eds., pp. 40–51. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Available on the web at: this site.

31 Yasutani was also connected to both a major Nazi figure resident in Japan and Nazi ideology, particularly anti-Semitism. For details, see Chapter Five, “Zen Master Dōgen Goes To War,” in Victoria, Zen War Stories, especially pp. 88-90. That said, while Yasutani’s Nazi connection is now known, the author is currently preparing an article on Suzuki’s personal and ideological connection to the Nazis.

32 Bachelor, Buddhism without Beliefs, p. 16.

33 Marty, “An Exuberant Adventure: The Academic Study and Teaching of Religion,” p. 14.

34 The phrase, ““Makujiki Kōzen” (驀直向前), i.e. rush forward without hesitation, is, as noted in the text of the article, believed to have been part of a conversation between Hōjō Tokimune and his Chinese Zen Master, National Teacher Bukkō, that took place at the time of the second Mongol invasion of Japan in 1281. These words were an admonition to Tokimune to resolutely face the eminent invasion by rushing forward to engage the enemy without the slightest hesitation. This phrase came to epitomize the proper mental attitude warriors should possess upon going into battle. There are two additional variations of this phrase though both of them express similar meanings. The variations are: 1) 驀直去(maku-jikini-sare) and 2) 驀直前進 (baku-choku-zenshin).

35 Needless to say, this poem lends itself to various interpretations, something Suzuki himself recognized when he stated that he left it up to his readers “to interpret as they wish.” It can be argued, for example, that Bunan was referring to the freedom of action that comes from the state of enlightenment, i.e., when one is no longer shackled by the three ‘poisons’ of Mahāyāna Buddhism, i.e., greed, anger and illusion. That said, the critical question is how Suzuki’s officer readers would have interpreted this poem? It is highly likely they would have understood these words to mean that once they were fully resigned to their own deaths on the battlefield they would be able to fight more effectively in China. I would also like to think the late Kyoko Selden for her assistance in ensuring this poem was translated accurately.


Bachelor, Stephan. Buddhism without Beliefs, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1998.

Benesch, Oleg. “Bushido: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2011, pp. 1-358. Available on the web at: ... sequence=1

Cleary, Thomas. Code of the Samurai. Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 1999.

Hockenos, Matthew. A Church Divided: German Protestants Confront the Nazi Past. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Marty, Martin E. “An Exuberant Adventure: The Academic Study and Teaching of Religion,” Academe, 82, no. 6, 1996, pp. 14-17.

Rosenkranz, Gerhard. Fernost - wohin? Begegnungen mit den Religionen Japans und Chinas im Umbruch der Gegenwart. Heilbronn Verlag Eugen Salzer, 1940. Available on the Web in German: here

Satō, Kemmyō Taira. “Brian Victoria and the Question of Scholarship.” The Eastern Buddhist 41/2: 139–166. Available on the web: here

-----. “D. T. Suzuki and the Question of War.” Translated in collaboration with Thomas Kirchner. The Eastern Buddhist 39/1: 61–120. Available on the web at: ... of-War.pdf

Shaku, Soyen [Sōen]. Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot. In Zen for Americans. Translated by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1974. The entire book is available on the Web at

Sharf, Robert H. “The Zen of Japanese Nationalism.” History of Religions, Vol. 33, No. 1. (Aug., 1993), pp. 1-43. Available on the web: here.

-----. “Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited” in Rude Awakenings: Zen the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism, James W. Heisig and John C. Maraldo, eds., pp. 40–51. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Available on the web: here

Snyder, Gary and Nelson Foster, “The Fog of World War II” in tricycle (Summer 2010). Available on the web at:

Sueki Fumihiko, “Daisetsu hihan saikō,” Matsugaoka bunko kenkyū nenpō 27, 2010.

Suzuki, Daisetsu (also Daisetz, D.T., Teitaro). Shin Shūkyō Ron (A Treatise on the New Meaning of Religion), 1896. In vol. 23, Suzuki Daisetsu Zenshū. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1969, pp. 1-147.

-----. “Makujiki Kōzen” (Rush Forward without Hesitation), June 1941. In vol. 16, Suzuki Daisetsu Zenshū. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2001, pp. 121-135. Originally published in Kaikō-sha kiji, June 1941, pp. 17-26.

-----. “A Buddhist View of War.” Light of Dharma 4, 1904.

-----. “The Zen Sect of Buddhism,” Journal of the Pali Text Society, 1906.

-----. Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture. Kyoto: The Eastern Buddhist Society, Otani Buddhist College, 1938. Later reprinted in the postwar period in multiple, expanded editions by Princeton University Press as Zen and Japanese Culture.

Victoria, Brian. “The ‘Negative Side’ of D. T. Suzuki's Relationship to War.” The Eastern Buddhist 41/2: 97–138. Available on the web at: this location.

-----. Zen at War, 2nd ed., Rowman & Littlefield, Boulder, Colorado, 2006.

-----. Zen War Stories, RoutledgeCurzon, London and New York, 2003.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:52 am

Part 1 of 2

Behind the Veil of Boulder Buddhism: Ed Sanders, The Party
When the Party's Over: An Interview with Allen Ginsberg

by Ed Sanders
Boulder Monthly
March, 1979
The Party: A chronological perspective on a confrontation at a Buddhist Seminary









That fall while Rinpoche was away, after one particularly difficult week, I phoned him to ask again for his help. He was at the 1975 seminary in Snowmass, Colorado, a program that lasted three months, and wouldn't be back for at least another month. The seminary that year in Snowmass ended up being quite difficult in certain respects. Against his better judgment, Rinpoche had allowed the American poet W S. Merwin, who had spent the summer at Naropa, and his girlfriend, Dana, to attend the seminary, although they were extremely new to our community. As the Vajrayana section of the seminary approached, Bill (Merwin) and Dana remained isolated from the rest of the participants, and Rinpoche felt they weren't connecting with him or with what he was trying to teach.

On Halloween things turned ugly. There was a costume party that night, which Bill and Dana tried to duck out of.
From what I heard, the situation got quite extreme. Rinpoche had suggested that rather than using costumes to disguise themselves, people should unmask and expose themselves. He told people that they should literally unmask by taking their clothes off. Everybody got naked. Rinpoche noticed that Bill and Dana weren't there. He insisted that they should come to the party too and sent students to rouse them from their room at the hotel. When they didn't answer the door, the messengers broke in through the balcony. Bill became alarmed and fearful, and he cut one of them with a jagged piece of broken glass. He and Dana were eventually brought down to the ballroom, where they were stripped of their clothing. It was pretty shocking.

A day or two later, Rinpoche told Merwin and Dana, as well as all the other participants, that they could leave the seminary or they could stay. They remained, but after the program ended, they left for good. The story filtered out of the seminary -- in fact, nobody was trying to hide what had happened. Investigating the incident actually became a class project in the poetics department at Naropa Institute a year or two later, and the story made its way into an article in Harper's magazine in 1979. Although I wasn't there when these events transpired, I was with Rinpoche in situations that were probably as extreme as that. If he felt that the elements of a situation were ripe to puncture delusion or self-deception, he never held back -- though I don't expect people to understand or accept this at face value.

-- Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa, by Diana J. Mukpo with Carolyn Rose Gimian


I was invited to teach a course at the Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in June and July of 1977. I decided to title the course Investigative Poetry, based on the poetic principles explored in my book of the same name published by City Lights Books.

I prepared a series of lectures around the central themes of Investigative Poetry, namely that poets assume a greater portion of the description of historical events, as in ancient civilizations, utilizing data-collection and investigative techniques of a data retentive era such as ours.

It was my objective to encourage students to write samples of investigative verse, and for the entire group to take on an investigative project on an issue in the Denver-Boulder area. I had thought the group might choose to undertake some bardic sleuthery out at Rocky Flats, or to examine the strike that was then going on at the Coors company, or perhaps to fan out in the direction of Sterling, Colorado, to try to beam some hard Sophoclean light on the cattle mutilations case.

Prior to arrival at Naropa Institute I had never heard of the stripping incident at Snowmass, Colorado. Better to fill one's mind with the Galactic Land-Fill than the gossip of bard-babble. At an early meeting of the Investigative Poetry class, there was a general discussion on what sort of bardic sleuthery to undertake. To my surprise the class decided overwhelmingly to take a look at the circumstances of the Halloween party. Robert Bly had recently read in Boulder, and had delivered an energetic stage rendition of the stripping, which had created quite a stir. Wherever one went on the Boulder literary scene that summer, the matter was dancing on many lips, yet few seemed certain as to what actually had transpired at Snowmass. The National Endowment for the Arts had recently turned down a grant request from the Kerouac School, in part, it was thought, because of gossip about the Merwin-Naone-Trungpa matter spreading in literary circles. The case, as they say, was hot.

It seemed like a matter fit for careful elucidation. I agreed to procede, serving as project coordinator, with "Not to assume facts not in evidence" to be the guiding principle of the investigation. The main ground rules were that everyone participating should prepare detailed question lists, or Q-Lists, prior to interviews, and to try to tape record interviews where possible, and to write detailed reports and transcripts of interviews.

The Investigative Poetry Group was extremely eager to work, and the walls of my apartment at Naropa faculty housing grew fairly filled with large "now charts" tracing in chronological detail what was known about the stripping incident at that time. My apartment became the "Squad Room." The work was ceaseless. Investigators arrived early in the morning, to prepare Q-lists, to work on the now charts, to prepare transcripts of interviews. Sometimes there were five typewriters being used at once in the living room. A couple of times the work lasted till dawn.

The bulk of the 179-page report was finished in less than a month. Only the inspired dedication of the 24 people in the Investigative Poetry Group made it possible. Anyone who has spent time at Naropa will know the distractions -- the rounds of dinners, the readings, the lectures, the lure of the mountains, the parties, the logging of thrill-units.

It would be proper to say that Naropa was less than eager for the report to be written, but on the other hand at no time, then or now, did anyone try to suppress the investigation, or to harass anyone who was preparing it. In addition, the Kerouac School in my opinion is an important and unique institution of poetics in America. It bubbles with creativity; with the exchange of ideas on an elevated plateau. It has brought a vast spectrum of poets to Boulder from many different poetic and metaphysical perspectives. People no doubt will soon, if not already, begin to write PhD theses on the Kerouac School.

On the other hand, the incident at Snowmass was an encroachment that should not be allowed to be repeated. One sure way to prevent such encroachments among sane people is through relentless, ethical investigations such as the one that produced The Party.

Regarding publication of The Party, the Investigative Poetry Group proceded democratically. During the summer of 1977 the group voted to delay any decision on publication for a few months. In October-November of 1978 a vote was conducted by mail, with the result being 14-4 to publish. The full text will be published this year by Poetry, Crime, and Culture Books, Woodstock, New York.

-- Ed Sanders

Anne Waldman suggests Naropa to Merwin, New Year 1975

Anne and Merwin ran into each other in NYC street just before New Year 1975. Anne had met Merwin once or twice before but didn't know him personally very well, though she knew and respected his work.

Anne and Merwin met for a New Year's toast and had intense spiritual discussion -- "Meaning of life, death, pain."

"Merwin was asking me about teachers. Tibetan teachers. So he was interested in some way connecting with a teacher ... I don't think he had a clear idea of what he wanted to connect with, necessarily. We didn't know each other terribly well, but I guess he knew that Michael and I and John Giorno had travelled to India and connected with certain lamas there and he was curious about connecting himself in some way -- and I think it was fear of death, getting older, some kind of quest in his own life. We had a very interesting conversation about Buddhism and my relationship to it. I said I was not going back to India, in fact. I was going out to Naropa that summer, '75, to work and run the Kerouac School, but that it was a Buddhist situation and perhaps he could connect this way. Connect with Chogyam Trungpa. And I think he knew something about Chogyam Trungpa, perhaps read his books, I don't know.

"... I felt genuine warmth and compassion from Merwin in his wanting to come (to Naropa) and study Buddhism... It was Merwin's own decision to come. I merely suggested he come. He was very ripe for a move toward this."

-- Anne Waldman (Santoli) 6/23/77

Merwin at Naropa as a Buddhist student

Summer of '75 Merwin was interested in Trungpa as a teacher, was very adamant about his desire to go to the seminary. It was somewhat out of the ordinary ... people are supposed to apply a long time ahead of time ... there are certain advance requirements. "So it was a favor."

-- David Bolduc (M. McCabe) 6/24/77

Merwin came to Colorado with the idea of studying Buddhism and for the mountains ... had been interested in Buddhism for a long time: sat in meditation long before anyone knew ... had had contact with Trungpa before summer of '75 (lectures, might have met him informally) ... he has a strong belief in book learning and western intellectual study which set him in immediate temperamental opposition to Trungpa's 'crazy wisdom' direct experience ... he also has a strong populist belief in the complete privacy of individuals and of not submitting to external controls (he once turned down a lucrative teaching job because of his refusal to pledge allegiance to N.Y. Constitution) ... thought he could go to the seminary and study Tibetan Buddhism in a scholarly way without committing himself to the dogma or initiation ... thought he could simply live his own life there.

Matthews sees the incident as an inevitable clash of two entirely different ethos ... thinks there was no way to avoid it, though it needn't have taken such a vicious form.

-- Wm. Matthews (Blair) 6/24/ 77

"Merwin was at Naropa on the Path. He wasn't here for the poetry scene, that was the last thing he wanted to get involved with. In fact, he always kept a bit of a distance because he sees himself as a loner (in the literary scene) ... But he was very very generous in terms of the poetry scene because he was here for another ultimate purpose."

-- Anne Waldman (Santoli) 6/23/77

Merwin & Dana Naone

Merwin and Dana had gotten together just prior to Naropa. Newly connected. Like on their honeymoon. Dana is quite a bit younger than Merwin.

-- Anne Waldman (Santoli) 6/23/77

Merwin knew he would be treated special as poet laureate of New Yorker -- guest star of Trungpa and Trungpa's scene ... assured that he wouldn't be "Everyman." Merwin was invited to everything all summer at Naropa.

Merwin had very horny mentality -- liked girls a lot -- considered himself 'dashing.'

During the summer Merwin and Dana were overcompensating physically.

-- John Steinbeck IV (Santoli) 6/ 21/77

Dana was mannerly, from an aristocratic Hawaiian family. She was very happy about being with Bill -- "everything is wonderful" -- they never fought. She missed Hawaii. She and Bill had recently met in Hawaii. Dana was extremely possessive of Bill and jealous of the possibility of him flirting with other women.

-- Simone Lazzeri (Santoli) 7/5/77

Merwin got very seriously into the Buddhist practice -- meditating diligently and studying. Dana also got into it -- Dana is not a frivolous character.

-- Jim Hartz (Santoli) 6/28/77

Merwin teaches at Naropa

"Merwin was here as a student and prospective Buddhist ... and attended poetry classes. Dana was a student in the Visiting Poets Class. Merwin visited and participated out of his own generosity, got paid something but not officially paid like other poets. He told me he wanted to be here as a student rather than Bill Merwin the poet.

"He gave a reading with John Ashbery, two lectures in the Visiting Poets Academy and one special workshop to go over students' works."

Merwin asked Anne how she taught poetry, not believing you can actually teach poetry.

-- Anne Waldman (Santoli) 6/23/77

Merwin & Dana Naone attend the Trungpa ITS at RMDC following Naropa summer

Merwin and Dana went to the ITS (Intensive Training Seminar) taught by Trungpa at RMDC (Rocky Mt. Dharma Center, Livermore, Colorado) after the Naropa summer ended.

-- Anne Waldman (Santoli) 6/23/77

"Merwin and Dana had the nicest house at RMDC ... Before one of the last ITS Trungpa lectures, Merwin and Dana talked with Jeanine Hughes and I about seminary. Jeanine told Bill and Dana about the claustrophobia of being indoors with all those people ... Dana replied, 'But you can always go in your room and lock the door, right?'"

-- Tom Hast (Santoli) 7/5/77

Trungpa invites Merwin to seminary

"I think they [Merwin and Trungpa] had gotten friendly socially. Merwin had gotten very involved with Trungpa's weekly lectures and being a good student -- studying, reading the recommended material, taking notes." Merwin and Dana were sitting regularly.

"... so I really don't know what passed between them (Merwin and Trungpa). I would imagine it was some talk about poetry, some dharma talk, although at the time Merwin was really a beginning student although I think he was really applying himself and felt ready to jump in, and convinced Trungpa of that, you know, that he was ready for seminary. Just by his eagerness, curiosity, energy, attention, brightness, facility, all those things."

-- Anne Waldman (Santoli) 6/23/77

A lot of people said good things to Trungpa about Merwin that summer. Trungpa was seemingly more impressed with Merwin than any other of the poets -- he didn't invite any other of the poets to the seminary. Trungpa is usually skeptical of poets because of the way they work with ego.

-- Tom Hast (Santoli) 7/5/77

"Requirements [seminary] are more in the terms of understanding the three Marks of Existence. So it's not purely a question of how long have you been a member of Vajradhatu, but what kind of understanding you have ... Really, the fundamental basis is the sense of spiritual materialism. (Which is) 'Am I going to get something out of this?' . . . The basic criterion for going to the seminary, really, is understanding that that doesn't work, which is the same thing as understanding egolessness and impermanence."

No one quite knows if Merwin and Dana had that understanding. Rinpoche goes through the applications.

-- Jeremy Hayward (A. Trupp) 6/26/77

"Merwin very much wanted to go to seminary. During the time he was waiting to know he was very anxious, hoping it would work out.

"I don't think he knew what he was getting into (Merwin). And I really think he might have been much better off going to Tassajara and just sitting for a year. He had never done a retreat before he went to the seminary. He had never done a week retreat that I knew of. He was always with his woman, which you kind of put that aside when you go off on an individual retreat and so on. I really don't think he was really ready for the power of the teachings. As a Tantra student I have access to transcripts of that seminary -- it's very powerful. Very very powerful material.

"Trungpa is the one to say who's ready for it ... Right, he accepted Merwin. Well, maybe this is what's supposed to happen. Part of, ah, Merwin's journey."

-- Anne Waldman (Santoli) 6/23/77

On learning of his seminary acceptance, Merwin had to rearrange his plans for going back to France.

At a cliff house dinner party, a couple of days after Merwin's seminary acceptance, Dana's unusual nervousness gave Simone the impression that Dana was curious and fearing the seminary.

-- Simone Lazzeri (Santoli) 7/5/77

"If Dana had not been along, things might have been different for Merwin at the seminary ... she wasn't into anything at all except Bill. She was all excited about going to seminary but had absolutely no idea what was involved." Dana wasn't properly taken into account by Trungpa or Merwin in the seminary invitation.

-- Tom Hast (Santoli) 7/5/77

At the cliff house dinner a couple days after seminary acceptance Merwin said that Trungpa said something to him about giving up private space during the seminary acceptance conversation.

-- Simone Lazzeri (Santoli) 7/5/77

"The only person who is still a private individual in Germany is somebody who is asleep."

-- Robert Ley, from "The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt

The Vajradhatu Seminary

The Seminary was held for three months, beginning around Saturday, September 1, 1975, and lasting till around Thanksgiving, November 27, 1975. It was held at a rented ski lodge (the Eldorado Lodge) in Snowmass, Colorado, located on Route 82, approximately 14 miles northwest of Aspen.

The layout of the lodge and grounds is important in understanding some of the events transpiring at the Seminary.

The ski lodge was located on a hill about three stone's throws from the meditation hall (a converted bar) which lay down the hill from the lodge. Living quarters, the swimming pool, and the room where the Halloween party was later held, all were located at the lodge.

Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, lived at a separate house during the seminary.

-- Interviews with Alan Marlowe 6/26/77 and Paul Shippee 6/30/77 (Sanders)

According to an interview with Alan Marlowe, couples without children were housed on the top floor, including William Merwin, and Dana Naone: the middle floors by singles: and the basement by people with children.

General Information about the Seminary

Ron Stubbert was the coordinator of the 1975 Seminary. In an interview with Al Santoli on July 6, 1977, he related the following information about it:

- Cost for seminary was $550.00.

- The sponsoring group was Vajradhatu.

- Seminarians came from all over the United States.

- There were 125-130 people in attendance, chosen from around 450-600 applications.

- The seminary involved a great amount of sitting and disciplined study, so that spouses, unless part of the seminary, were discouraged from visiting: although in certain situations outside visitors were allowed.


How were individuals selected for the Seminary?

In an interview with Joshua Zim conducted on June 20, 1977, Zim stated that the final choice of people to attend Seminary was Trungpa, Rinpoche's. The usual qualifications were having previously sat a dathun (30 day sitting period) and taking courses at Naropa or study groups through Karma Dzong. However, the selection process was very subjective on Rinpoche's part, and involved "ripeness" and Rinpoche's "cooking up chemistry" and creating a group process. Zim said persons who were otherwise qualified by study and length of association with Rinpoche might not be selected to attend the seminary because they didn't fit in with the group Rinpoche was creating.

-- Joshua Zim (Al Sobel) 6/20/77

"... Rinpoche's been working with students for six years, seven years now, and all of us are constantly understanding new complexities and new subtleties of what the student-teacher relationship is, which is extremely central to vajrayana Buddhism and those of us who are Buddhists, and just as of the one hundred and thirty-five (135) persons at Seminary, you'd probably get 135 different understandings and emotional reactions as to what happened ... "

-- William Mc Keever (La Haye) 6/27/77

"No one was allowed in the seminary ... where Rinpoche didn't feel he had enough feeling of what was going on."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

The Course of Study

At the seminary, approximately a month's time each was devoted to Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana study, with Vajrayana study reserved for the concluding month of the seminary.

The schedule involved two weeks of lectures and classes followed by two weeks "where you'd do nothing but sit."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"The discipline was kept by keeping records publicly posted of how much each person was sitting ... attendance was taken six times a day ... very boot camp, in that sense, that there was no honor system going on here at all."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"It's like joining the army. You know what's going on, and you know what you're gonna get, what's going on ... You had to sit so many times ... pass so many examinations in Hinayana, Mahayana ... very structured."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

The Vajradhatu Seminary and perceptions of Merwin on the part of witnesses and friends.

1. Merwin thought he could go to the Seminary and study Tibetan Buddhism in a scholarly way without committing himself to the dogma or initiation ... (He) thought he could simply live his own life there.

-- Interview with William Matthew's (R. Blair) 6/24/77

2. Merwin has a strong belief in book learning, and western intellectual study, which set him in immediate temperamental opposition to Trungpa's 'crazy wisdom' direct experience. (He) also had a strong belief in the complete privacy of individuals, and of not submitting to external controls. He once turned down a lucrative teaching job because of his refusal to pledge allegiance to the N.Y. Constitution.

-- Interview with William Matthews (R. Blair) 6/24/77

Merwin and chanting at the Seminary

Merwin gave off a clean, pure image -- no meat, no bloody chants. He refused to gekkho because he would not recite the violent chants.

-- Interview with Persis McMillen (Santoli) 7/1/77

"... but the kind of vajrayana chants that we were doing from the beginning, vitality chants that have a good deal of very wrathful images in them -- you know, cutting off the heads of people and leaving them to Dharmadhatu ... Tibetan vajrayana art ... based on compassionate anger, where if you can't subdue your ego then you call upon wisdom to cut the aorta of ego . .. but everyone knows by then that the violent images are totally the idea of enlightened anger, vajra anger ... not to totally destroy you, but to only destroy your problem ... And that Merwin, in his questions, was constantly talking about God as a reference point and very peace and lighty, you know. He would do the chants that were very peaceful chants ... but whenever it came to a chant that had anything ... any kind of deity holding a sword in his or her hand ... he would make sort of a big point of not doing it ... putting his chant down and not chanting." [/b]

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

William Merwin describes seminary, and the violent chants, and a possible Trungpa grudge

Question 3 (whether Trungpa might have borne a grudge because of anything before the party.) Speculation on Trungpa's state of mind, I think, is unlikely to lead very far. Doubly so since much of the information that he had about those studying at the seminary apparently was carried to him by confidants, his guards in particular. But at our one private meeting with him before the party, we had spoken of our objections to the bloodthirsty nature of some of the chants, and more particularly to his increasingly frequent and heavy sneers at other religious and contemplative traditions. We said that the attitude he was expressing toward other traditions was making us less and less open to the idea of taking vows with him. Incidentally, we were only in a limited sense students of Trungpa's. We had read his books and seminary transcripts, listened to tapes, and attended his lectures during the summer, and before seminary I had had one short interview with him. But we were members of no group in his organizations, had taken no vows at all with him, had made no promises to obey him. On the few occasions at which we'd spoken with Trungpa socially, during the summer, and at the one meeting with him at seminary before the party (and even at the one after it) we seemed to be able to speak together directly, relatively openly, and with good feeling; when he referred to the same subjects later, in public, his tone and manner were in sharp contrast with the way he talked with us in private.

-- William S. Merwin, letter to Pope, Pickering, and Trupp 7/20/77

Concerning the so-called Vajra Guards

According to several interviews, the Vajrayana Security Guards had not been formally constituted at the time of the 1975 Seminary. There is some indication (interview with Alan Marlowe on 6/26/77) that events transpiring at the Seminary may have been a factor in the formal organizing of the guards. According to an interview with Persis McMillen (Santoli, 7/1/77) the idea of "guards" at the seminary bothered Bill Merwin and others a lot: that a built-in power structure can appear, on its surface, to be a totalitarian venture.

"People would volunteer ... There would always be a ... a guard is kind of a loaded name ... loaded word. People would volunteer to keep watch over Rinpoche's house, so nobody would break in: so he wouldn't be disturbed by any crazy people around, which there were a few .... Someone ... a snowman at Aspen ... been known to harass in the past ... 1975.

"People volunteered, not specifically for that -- it was more out of devotion, friendliness with Rinpoche, to take some kind of delight in being in his house, letting people in, letting people out, that kind of thing. Also ... when he entertained."

-- Interview with Richard Assally (Faigao) 5/27/77

Merwin and Dana at the Seminary

"If one of them was sick, the other one would stay home. If one of them had kitchen duty, the other one would just do it anyway. So, they would be together ... They were never apart, and when they were together ... they were always entwined in some absurd physical contortion ... it was actually a joke."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

"The main point was: Seminary is the kind of experience where everything is shaken up. Bill's reaction was to make himself even more solid in terms of his relationship to things. Bill's (goal) was to grow ... to sort of drown himself in this thing ... but he was also holding back. They [he and Dana] had their meals in their room ... Up to the point of the party he was fairly comfortable ... but his participation was not that ... I mean of all people there he was probably the most out of it."

-- Interview with David Bolduc (McCabe) 6/24/77

"Merwin had his very definite lifestyle, which included, for instance (at Zendo-like dinner in shrine room), he would have Dana wait on him ... She would go up and get his food and kind of serve it to him, sort of very, you know, slave-like."

-- Interview with Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

The Pea Shooters

Allegations had been made that Trungpa Rinpoche had, on occasion, shot people with peas through a pea shooter, during the early parts of the seminary: and that at some point had issued peas, peashooters, and goggles to his guards.

According to an interview with Paul Shippee (Sanders, 6/30/77) on one occasion a guard zapped Alan Marlowe in the eye with a pea, and Marlowe punched the guard out.

The Talk on Discipline

"What happened was that oddly enough Rinpoche thought we were all being too good ... trying too hard, and that was very suspicious."

It was in the middle of Mahayana study, about halfway through the seminary, when there was a meeting called for the lecture hall down the hill from the hotel.

"Absolute total attendance was required ... roll call.... The hotel was emptied. Then we were told that Rinpoche decided to cancel his talk on discipline."

Rinpoche was playing "an enormous practical joke on us."

The guards were outside, with "a huge stockpile of snowballs and peashooters ... " which "bombarded us."

"Everyone had a sack of peas, and it was like blasting your way back into the hotel.... It really got carried away ... squirting fire hoses up and down the hotel. People were shoveling snow into the hotel, as we took over floor by floor.... It was just like being kids .... Well, unfortunately, it got a little serious and people got genuinely pissed off."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77


The snowball fight, the Toyota packed with snow, and the inidents between Trungpa's guards and the seminarians.

Regarding the night of the snowball fight (Ron Barnstone, one of the guards, objected in interview [Blair, 6/24/77] to calling incident a "snowball fight"). Alan Marlowe said that everybody was required to attend a lecture in the hall (the converted bar) down the hill from the lodge. The lecture was scheduled for 4:30 in the afternoon. Whereas, though, Trungpa is often late for lectures, it became apparent after a wait on this occasion of about one and one-half hours, that he was not going to show up, so people began leaving. When they left the lecture hall, they noted that the hotel up the hill was manned by snowball-hurling guards, on the roof and on the balconies.

-- Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

There were also guards "armed" with pea shooters outside the lecture hall, and apparently they spat dried legumes at the exiting seminarians, through plastic tubes.

-- Interview with Paul Shippee (Sanders) 6/30/77

Sides were quickly drawn. "We moved up the hill. They were throwing snowballs from the roof, and from the balconies," said Alan Marlowe. Marlowe felt that Trungpa wanted them to respond to the attack with maximum efficiency, so he led a small group that attempted to break into Trungpa's room. (Trungpa apparently was in a room on the top floor of the lodge.) Marlowe relates that he managed to get his arm inside Rinpoche's door, but that his cohorts waxed hesitant at that critical moment, and that his arm was thereupon nearly broken.

-- Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

Rinpoche apparently offered hmself upon a balcony as a snowball target. "... Rinpoche was standing up there on the balcony like this general leading his troops. Rinpoche to me was setting himself up as a target, 'cause he stayed on that balcony ... ice balls ... and he let everyone throw snowballs at him ... Rinpoche undermining our tight little concept of discipline ...

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Marlowe related that they had Rinpoche trapped on the top floor: he mentioned turning off the elevator buttons, and that the only exits were a couple of staircases. The staircases were being patrolled by people with fire hoses, who had in mind spraying Trungpa and guards with water.

Trungpa finally left the building and managed to get into his car, a Toyota owned by a couple attending the seminary, (Marty and Jane Janowitz [phonetic). Marlowe 6/26/77), one who was his driver, and one who was cooking for him. The Toyota, with Trungpa inside, was spritzed, with the result that water froze all over it. They then rocked the car back and forth, as if to overturn it, but relented, and Trungpa was borne away.

-- Interview with Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

Marlowe said that Merwin was assisting with the fire hoses.

-- Interview with Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

Blocking Rinpoche's car

"... People immediately went and sort of blocked Rinpoche's car and then the guards came and took the cars that were blocking and pushed them into a gully...."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Retributive Plans and Plots

"... In the room, we're all goofing around on the idea of Paris Underground, getting code words, and now and then we'd say, 'oh, he's a spy (for Trungpa)' -- and it was all like this WWII espionage trip: and to see Merwin totally behind this, who was so uptight before, and wouldn't chant the violent chants, was just concerned about replanting flowers and recycling garbage ... He had so many crazy ideas about revenge, and I said, you know, he's not quite the ivory tower poet he pretends to be ..."

One of the ideas Niland recalls Merwin had, was to manufacture nitrous oxide, apparently for the purpose of zapping Trungpa during a lecture. "Merwin," he recalled, "was trying to definitely organize people to go into town to get these chemicals .... I just said, oh forget it, I'm just gonna go downstairs and get drunk ... that's chemical warfare, man ... but he knew how to make laughing gas .... And he was talking about a lot of other very preposterous schemes, most of which I've forgotten -- the only one I can think of was a weather balloon or something."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"... Merwin was in this room ... and he was planning these wild things . .. he said that he knew how to make some kind of laughing gas ... we could go to Denver ... combine certain chemicals to make laughing gas ... and then there was all this talk about really getting back at Rinpoche, going over and trashing out his house and everything...."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

The Trash-out of Trungpa's House and the delivery of the pizzas

On the night of the snowball fight, Marlowe was in the group that ordered various deliveries to be made to Trungpa's house. He ordered 300 dollars worth of champagne and expensive alcoholic beverages to be delivered. They also called the fire department, the gas and electric company, and various pizzerias and taxi services, ordering deliveries: the aim being a batch of deliveries and arrivals around the same time.

Marlowe confirmed that while Trungpa was trapped in the hotel, his house was entered, and his clothing was removed, and his liquor. When Trungpa's possessions were finally returned, and his quarters were being straightened, that's when all the pizzas, liquor, taxis, et al., began arriving.

-- Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

Other allegations have been made that Trungpa's automobile was totally filled with snow.

The peashooter/snowball trash-out of Trungpa's house confrontation took place approximately two weeks prior to the Halloween party, which is the subject of this examination. It felt like a couple of weeks (later) ... everything had completely calmed down: everyone had completely forgotten about it -- time went by (chuckle) and we're in the middle of a sitting period (just before Halloween)."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"One day during a lecture someone asked Kalu Rinpoche why lamas aren't like Marpa anymore, beating their disciples, giving them horrendous tasks to fulfill. He said these days the disciples' faith isn't strong enough. They would think that the lama was bad, maybe call the police if the lama beat them. Then he laughed."

-- Darjeeling Journal article by Bryan Miller in LOKA 2.

Concerning "Night Porter"

"Jack (Niland) had seen it in N.Y..... and said, 'oh, we all have to go,' and he organized essentially just through his chatter in the lounge; he created this whole environment where everybody was anxious to go to it."

-- Barbara Meier (Bataan Faigao) 6/29/77

Barbara Meier was asked how many seminarians had attended the movie. She replied, "I would say -- couple of dozen. I don't think Rinpoche went to that. He went and saw "Chinatown.'"

-- The Halloween Party 10/31/75

"The set-up of the Halloween party took us all totally by surprise, because it was the middle of a sitting period. Halloween fell in the middle of a week's sitting, so we just assumed that we weren't going to have a Halloween party. So the word came out that Rinpoche ordered us to have a Halloween party; nobody was particularly into it."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Ron Barnstone was asked whether Rinpoche called the Halloween party. Barnstone responded: "That's just bullshit." Rinpoche did not call the party .... It was a spontaneous Halloween party ... though some people had been preparing costumes ....

-- Ron Barnstone (R. Blair) 6/24/77

Some people went into town to see "Night Porter" on their own accord a few nights before the Halloween party. Some people made jokes about it after the Merwin incident occurred.

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/27/77

"It came out that the end of this sitting period we were going to have Vajrayana (they had gone through Hinayana and Mahayana). So ... Rinpoche ... not only did he command to have a Halloween party, but he also commanded that every one attend and wear a costume. It was very definitely set up as a kind of pre-Vajrayana feast, because the idea of Halloween, with all these bizarre costumes, and putting on masks -- it's kind of like admitting your neurosis -- like, who you come as, Halloween, on our scene, has been ... adopted as our Tantric holiday: because there's so many contradictions in it: the idea of unmasking and putting on masks, and dressing up: it's kind of getting totally samsaric, in other words.

"Vajrayana has a good deal to do with totally connecting with Samsara. So, the word was out, and everyone was quite shocked that we were going to have a party, that Rinpoche announced he was going to attend, that there was going to be very formal -- that Rinpoche had something in mind: that he wanted to have kind of a 'courtlike' atmosphere, and that every(one) had to wear a costume.

"So there was a good deal of problem .. .. because no one could go to town to buy a costume, because we weren't allowed to go to town then, even though a bunch of people snuck off and bought wigs and funny things.

"And the other problem was how can we get ready for it, because we had to sit right up to five o'clock (the evening of the party)."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

For another version, Barbara Meier was asked by Bataan Faigao if Rinpoche announced there was to be a party. She replied, "No, there was nothing: there was no announcement. .... All I knew was the year before there'd been a Halloween party. And it was in the middle of Ninthum (sitting) too: it wasn't during the study part at all.... I did know that everybody was going into Aspen to get a costume, or making a costume. Everyone was working on one, everybody knows that everyone was doing it ... I had to clean the shrine room that night, so I arrived late, but I put my costume on first, and then went. And people were doing incredibly elaborate things: building boxes and things. Some people spent a lot of money, and a lot of time, and a lot of energy on their trips."

"It was just some sense of it being a tradition, and that we were totally claustrophobic: we'd been sitting all too long: we'd been all holed up in this place together much too long; we wanted a real blow-out. .. . I remember sitting in the lounge, and it was just like a fashion show: people would walk by around the balcony."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Bataan Faigao ) 6/29/77

"Everyone spent a lot of time on costumes. I spent a good deal of the day painting peaceful and wrathful deities (on two people's bodies) with their cocks as tongues."

-- Interview with artist Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Merwin's recollections of parties at the seminary and of early events at the Halloween Party.

Questions 4, 5, 6, 8. Concerning the incident itself, Robert's got the sequence wrong -- and the nature of the liquid Trungpa threw in my face.

In the days after the Halloween happenings, we both wrote detailed accounts of what we remembered, and have them here.

We were at the seminary on an odd footing, in the first place. At a social meeting, in Boulder, during the previous summer, we'd said to Trungpa that we would like to continue to study Buddhism in the autumn, at his seminary, which we knew about through Allen and other friends. Trungpa had said that the fall list was already full, but that if openings occurred he'd put us in. Later we were informed that we'd been admitted, but were asked to say nothing about it until seminary itself, because we'd been put in over a long waiting list, at Trungpa's own decision. So we felt that we'd been accorded a privilege -- which came to seem an awkward one. One of the assumptions of the seminary was a much older involvement with Trungpa and his methods, and a far less questioning commitment to them, than we, in fact, had.

I don't know of other public incidents of sexual or other violence, apart from the snowball happening. There'd been two other parties before the one on Halloween -- official parties, anyway. It had become a tradition to have such parties, blow-outs, before the few days off, after a period of some days of sitting practice. We'd left the other two parties early. There were many rumors of sexual activities, all sorts of partner-changing, at the seminary. That, and drinking, were both said to be encouraged as part of the teaching, though I have to say that Trungpa had never personally spoken to us on the subject. Dana never drinks: I drink along with friends I'm happy to be with, but not much. At the parties we danced together and went home together -- real squares. But not unique, there: other couples at the seminary did the same.

The Halloween party had been a topic for some weeks beforehand including doubts as to whether there would be an official party at all or not. Big deal, anyway. There had also been a build-up about the heaviness of the Tantric teachings that were about to descend on us through the medium of Trungpa, and blow all our minds.

I had been in bed for several days before the party with an allergy attack, but got up to go to it, for a while, at least. Semi-dark ski-lodge dining room: a unit of recent boom-resort architecture, by then much the worse for two months of seminary. We danced to records for an hour or so: stayed together despite several attempts, one of them pretty drunk, to separate us. Trungpa arrived around 10:30, looking baleful. Butch haircut. Flanked by guards -- fortunately, because he was very drunk, and they caught him twice, when he fell. He whispered with the guards. Something was said to be brewing: one of the secrets he'd been preparing. A few minutes later a woman student in her sixties was borne in, naked, held high by guards. She let them carry her around the room, then struggled to be let down. Finally she was released. and ran out. Trungpa giggled, did a strip tease, was carried around, in turn. Dressed again.

-- Wm. Merwin, letter to Pope, Trupp, and Pickering, 7/20/77
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

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Part 2 of 2

The ecdysis of Persis McMillen

Persis McMillen was one of those first stripped at the Halloween party. Early in the evening Persis met Trungpa and he told her that he was going to take off people's clothes. She thought he was kidding, didn't take it very seriously. After talking to her, Trungpa disappeared for an extended period of time.

-- Interview with Persis McMillen (Santoli) 7/1/77

Regarding the actual stripping, Persis McMillen recalled, "It happened so fast." She remembers the guards surrounding her, and it took them two minutes to take off her clothes. She was shocked: she didn't resist. The guards hoisted her while nude, aloft. Being a dancer, at first she took a poised dance pose, but after a few seconds felt differently: felt, in her words, "really trashed out." She ran upstairs. In her own words, she "felt sick," and "literally stripped," and " ... very, very upsetting."

-- Interview with Persis McMillen (Santoli) 7/1/77

After she went upstairs, Persis McMillen later put on her longest dress and came back down to the party.

-- Interview with Persis McMillen (Santoli) 7/1/77

Alan Marlowe pointed out that Rinpoche was "in the process of stripping everybody" when the issue of Merwin coming down to the party came up. So, in that context, Merwin was not singled out for ecdysis.

-- Interview with Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

"This stuff was happening with Persis McMillen. They were passing her around, and somebody else, I can't remember ... They took off all her clothes and they were passing her around."

-- Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

In Satanic rites a woman, a virgin is much better, acting as an "altar" is essential. In the US I've seen wooden supports anatomically shaped so as to host the priestess in a laid down position. In Italy it's usually an uncomfortable table.

-- What I Saw at a Black Mass: An Interview with Massimo Introvigne, by Maria Grazia Cutulu

THE Jataka Tales, stories of the previous incarnations of Shakyamuni Buddha, as men, women, animals, in the long climb of the Bodhisattva to Buddha, are usually considered simply folk stories. They are more than that, they are a philosophy of history. They always end, "Monks, the wicked hunter was Devadatta, the helpless child was Ananda, and the kindly tiger, monks, was no other than myself."

Devadatta is the counter Buddha, sometimes considered his brother, who always goes about seeking whom he may devour with ignorance and trying to destroy the Buddha word. In some texts he is the actual leader of an anti-Buddha sect in the days of the historic Shakyamuni. He is always with us, spokesman for illusion.

Many believe Chogyam Trungpa has unquestionably done more harm to Buddhism in the United States than any man living. He has identified the Buddha Word with a gospel of illusions. But he will pass, as Devadatta passes, always a failure, through the Jataka Tales.

I do not believe in invoking the State, a deity of illusion, least of all against its own hallucinations. The CIA giveth, the CIA taketh away. But the powers that be would be well advised, to deport Trungpa to his native land, where after due reprocessing he might be given a hoe and sent to a commune in Northwest Tibet. One Aleister Crowley was enough for the Twentieth century. No matter, all passes. The Buddha Dharma alone endures.

 -- KENNETH REXROTH, from "The Great Naropa Poetry Wars: With a copious collection of germane documents assembled by the author, by Tom Clark

The ecdysis of Trungpa, Rinpoche

According to an interview with Alan Marlowe, Trungpa himself was nude for a while, apparently early in the party. Marlowe, it will be recalled, came nude to the party in the first place. Marlowe mentioned that he, Marlowe, was wearing Persis McMillen's red scarf tied around his membrum virile, while he and a woman named Diane Moberg lifted the nude Trungpa upon their shoulders.

-- Interview with Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

Trungpa earlier in the evening was carried nude over people's heads.

-- Interview with Richard Assally (Faigao and Santoli) 6/27/77

The ecdysis of Jack Niland

Jack Niland relates that he came to the party dressed as Enlightenment, wrapped in aluminum foil, with a burning candle atop his head. His costume tended to cause him to heat up, so, prior to the arrival of Trungpa, Niland removed it, and was sitting in the lobby by the fire. Then Trungpa arrived.

"All of a sudden Rinpoche walks in: and he walks in like Vajra Cop -- he walks in with four guards .... He looked at me, and said, 'You're not wearing a costume.'

''I'm sitting there (in the lobby) and all of a sudden I see this woman (Persis McMillen) come running out of the dining room stark naked .... She was giggling like mad ... Then a few other people came out and said, 'hey, somebody else is naked in there....'

"Then Rinpoche comes down the hallway again, and he said, 'Jack, you're not wearing a costume.' And I said. 'I told you Rinpoche, I had this great costume, and you missed it. It got too hot and I took it off.' ... He said. 'As long as you 're not going to wear a costume, you 're really not going to wear a costume. I have this great costume for you.' He said, 'Boys, do it,' and these four boys came over and grabbed me, and started to unbutton my clothes. I said, 'Wait a minute, what's going on?'

"... Then I said, wait a minute, this is a unique experience ... The only way to combat something like this is to go overboard into -- more than other people want you to. So I said. 'Wait a minute: you're not going to take my clothes off; I'm going to do a strip tease in the lobby ... I command you all to pick me up and take me into the dining room,' which was what they had in mind anyway.

"So the four guys pick me up, and they proceed to race me into the dining room ... They were bored because I wasn't resisting ... They finally just grabbed me and took me outside and threw me in the pool, which luckily was heated. All these people kept coming out and kidding me ... and I would reach up and pull them into the pool. So, there were people with wigs on and these costumes, in the pool, and everyone was just going crazy."

-- Interview with Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

After Trungpa arrives at the party

"I had a whole interchange with Rinpoche. I can't remember the order. I think it must have happened before ... He called me up to him. He saw me, and ... we got into this whole thing. He was picking up on my costume. The whole aggression. (She was in costume as a biker.) We started sort of like making out. I mean it was very lavish, and all these people were dancing, and sitting around (laughs), and we just started doing this whole thing. And he was being so brutal. He was being so physically brutal, and like, clawing my arm, and just, biting my lip, just so vicious. And then he did this whole thing with my cheek (bit into the skin, leaving tooth marks), and I was in this state of mind -- well, if that's what he wants, that's what I'll give him too. And I just came back with it. And we're in this intense, you know (makes unh-ing sound) like this you know, very tense, very, very tense ... Somebody else came up or something and I managed to get away. But it was very nonverbal, direct, powerful, intense brutal communication. I didn't know what to make of it at all."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier
(Faigao) 6/29/77

The Party and Vajra Feast Tradition

"They were just having a ball. It was this dynamite party: fantastic costumes. And then Rinpoche shows up and said he wanted to give us a talk about Vajrayana. And unmasking, and the idea of dancing and the vajra master. There's a very famous thing about vajra feasts in the old days in Tibet -- thousands upon thousands of people would have it in cemeteries ... and he was just having a mini-version of this.

"It's sort of a challenge to how enlightened or cool you are -- that you can get totally drunk and still know what you're doing. It's a very definite Tantric teaching that you can get as drunk as you want: you can still do it with dignity and awareness. That was a kind of teaching -- that you have to be able to handle the wildest kind of energy and still maintain your awareness."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"Is everybody here?"

"... Rinpoche sat down, very dark room: this plate glass picture window is behind him, starry sky, snowy, moonlit landscape of snow -- very beautiful .... It started out simply, (Rinpoche) saying he wanted to give us a little talk, congratulate us all, talk about becoming a Vajrayana; and then he started saying, 'is everyone here?' ... Well, so and so isn't here. 'Knock on the door: go get them .... ' Very simple.

"Then it got down to 'who else isn't here?' -- 'Well, I noticed the Merwins (sic) aren't here.' 'All right, knock on the door: say that Rinpoche has invited you to the Vajra Dance, to the Vajra Feast ... ' It should be the ultimate privilege in our lifetime to go to something like this..."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77


Demands from Trungpa for Merwin and Naone to come back to the Party.

We got ready for bed. Knock on the door. McKeaver (whom neither of us knew) saying that Rinpoche wanted us to come to the party. We talked it over, and answered that we'd been there, and now were going to bed. He said Rinpoche wanted to talk with us. We repeated that we were going to bed, and suggested that talking could wait until the next day. McKeaver insisted. Neither of us wanted to go down, but we said ok, we'd come. He left. We dressed and went down, peered in at the door, and thought it looked as bad as ever. We had no more wish to stay than before, and we went upstairs again. We thought they might not leave it at that, in the mood that seemed to prevail in the dining room, and that we'd do better to drive into town. As we were getting ready to go, another knock at the door. This time it was an order to come down. We said we'd been, and weren't coming down again. The pause that followed was full of McKeaver's shock. As he left I looked down the hall after him and saw heads peering around the corner. Guards, I suppose, or eager spectators, or both. McKeaver came back to say he had orders to take us down. We had locked the door, then, and I locked the big glass door onto the balcony. A crowd could be heard in the hall. Then threats began: they were going to break down the door if we didn't open it, and come in and get us, etc. Attempts at the lock, and at persuasion at the same time. 'Why didn't we want to come down?' We said we could see no reason to come down when neither of us wanted to. Laughs; jeers. The hall evidently pretty crowded. More threats. Who did I think I was, setting myself up to protect Dana? Sound of pass-keys being inserted. I held the button locked. Kicks and battering at the door. We moved a long chest of drawers against it -- the only piece of furniture that was much to the purpose. The telephones, by the way, had been disconnected in the rooms.

Figures appeared on the balcony, tried the glass door. We turned off the lights. Then a long session of alternate and mixed threats and coaxing us to open up, come down, "get it over with" -- the overall tone menacing, angry, contemptuous. I said that we didn't mean to open the door to them: that there were only two of us, and heaven knew how many of them, and that if they did break the door down to come in and get us, I would hurt the first ones in, if I could. There was a case of empty beer bottles in the bathroom, near the door. Loring Palmer, a former student of Suzuki Roshi's, and a friend, came to the door and asked me to let him in, to talk about it. I said I couldn't, with that crowd behind him. I begged him to keep out of it. Carl Springer, a Naropa director (whom we didn't know) came and pled at the door, very emotional, saying that he was our friend, and that this was our last chance: urging us to open the door for him (and the crowd) and come down.

-- from letter, W.S. Merwin to Trupp, Pickering, Pope, 7/20/77


Alan Marlowe recalls that negotiations with Merwin and Dana to get them to come to the party began circa 9 p.m., and went on and on, maybe for a couple of hours, with the stripping incident not occurring until around midnight.

-- Interview with Alan Marlowe (Sanders ) 6/23/77

"Oh, Merwin says that he's very tired and he and Dana would like to go to sleep so they can get up early the next morning and sit. Rinpoche saying, would you please tell them the Vajra Master has extended an invitation to Mr. Merwin to attend the Vajra Dance...

"Merwin says that he's definitely gone to sleep, and he definitely was at the dance: there's no reason for coming back, and he's already in bed, and that's it.

"Rinpoche going back and saying that this is part of the thing, and he's not only requested, he's sort of required to come ... that Rinpoche wants him there.

"Coming back down: Merwin: Rinpoche cannot tell him when he goes to bed: Rinpoche can tell him when to sit, and when to study, but no one is going to tell him when to go to bed.

"Then things got heavier and heavier. Rinpoche would start out by giving a talk, saying, 'I really admire Merwin's poetry, and I'm a great fan of his, and I think he's doing really well, but there's a certain kind of resistance going on, and he's under the idea that he wants to study Vajrayana and he really wants to practice Buddhism, and I want you to realize that I'm really going to insist that Merwin come down here no matter what, or what it takes.'

"... Everyone was getting very tired by then: it was getting late, around midnight. People were exhausted, drunk ... My own particular take was, God, Merwin, the worst that could happen is you get your clothes taken off ... 'OK, tell Merwin we're going to break down the door if he doesn't want to come down.

"... And no one wanted to do it; nobody wanted to do it. No one knows how to break down a door. And then ... loads of people are saying. 'Drop it, Rinpoche.'"

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"This one guard in particular [Ron Barnstone] ... people were worried about breaking the door because it had been bad enough trashing out the hotel with the fire hoses (the night of the snowball fight) ... people started really freaking out. What is Rinpoche trying to do? ... endless discussion ... if you guys want to stay here and study vajrayana you have to attend, or split immediately. Rinpoche saying, 'I want that door broken down.'"

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

The Breaking-in of Bill Merwin's and Dana Naone's door

"They went down and told Rinpoche, 'Merwin's barricaded himself and there is no way to break down the door, can't we drop it?' Rinpoche says, 'Break through the plate glass window' ... So the guards ... decided to simultaneously break through the door and enter the plate glass window."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

In an interview, Randy Blair asked Ron Barnstone about Niland's story that Barnstone may have intervened with Rinpoche, asking him not to order Merwin's door broken down. Barnstone laughed, and said, "No, that's not true."

-- Interview with Ron Barnstone (Blair) 6/24/77

"All these tough guys trying to decide who's going to do it. So finally they decided on a plan of action. Merwin had a balcony. It was a three or four foot leap from the next balcony. People said, we'll never be able to break down this door, so let's leap over there and see if we can get through the sliding glass door ... They could see through the sliding glass door that not only had Merwin locked it, but he had barricaded himself in the room with huge amounts of furniture piled against the door."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

The Glass Storm

"David Darwent -- he was the person who broke in through the glass window -- it was three stories up, and he climbs over, broke the window ... This whole thing about a 'glass storm.' I remember that vision, that image, very powerful -- A rain, a rain of glass, shattered glass."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

"... The first guy to break through the plate glass window [David Darwent] throws a chair through it and cuts himself up."

"... People were worried about breaking the door, because it had been bad enough trashing out the hotel with the fire hoses .... People started really freaking out -- What is Rinpoche trying to do? ... Endless discussion ... 'If you guys want to stay here and study Vajrayana, you have to attend, or split immediately: Rinpoche saying, 'I want that door broken down.'"

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

William S. Merwin cuts some faces

Although a long time member of the American pacifist community, Merwin, striking with beer bottles, caused them to break, and cut several people who were entering his room, creating wounds, one of which reportedly required 18 stitches, and the other 12, to close.

"Loring [Palmer, the first to enter] was this totally gentle guy, ex-Zenny ya know, just the most gentle guy in the world, I mean just so sweet ... He was the cook there, into organic foods, and he went and tried to have a long talk ... So once the door was broken down, the furniture pushed aside, Loring was the first one in: luckily the first two guys in wore glasses, cause Merwin came out with a broken beer bottle and went straight for their eyes. Loring got some really bad cuts."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"Loring gets cut up, and Loring was on the trip of 'hey, I'm your friend!' and he just got cut, really badly around the eye, chin, cheek, and this guy is one of these guys that's very delicate looking, so it really shows up."

-- Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"The next guy in, after Loring, was this very macho guy that prides himself on his karate knowledge, Ron Barnstone. So he went charging in ... So Barnstone got cut as if the beer bottle went around the eye like he was aiming so exactly, you know; the circle went like this. If he'd been an inch off, someone would have been eyeless, but he was so exact in his aim."

-- Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

After entering the room

"When I went into the room, he was quite berserk and came at me with a broken beer bottle, and I said again, sort of to indicate where the aggression was coming from, I just stood there and I said, 'Bill, I'm your friend. Why don't you come down?' And he said, just kind of went berserk ... And I said, 'If you're going to hit me, go ahead.' And he stopped for a minute, but then a minute later he gave me a good punch in the eye. And I had a black eye for a while."

-- Interview with William McKeever (LaHaye) 6/27/77

"So apparently they just grabbed him and the word got back that Rinpoche had sent out the word ... that Merwin was not to be harmed at all, because by then people were getting pissed. And the word was out that no matter what Merwin does to anyone, he is not to be harmed, except for physically subduing him. So, by then the guys charged in -- the story we were getting back was that Merwin, ya know, they got the beer bottle out of his hand, and a bunch of guys grabbed him and did a hammerlock on him. He started ranting and raving that he basically was trying to protect his girl friend, and that became his central theme ..."

-- Interview with Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"He (Merwin) did say that when he saw the blood dripping out of Loring's eye, he realized that he had to [inaudible -- let go of?] something but it was only in as much as he would go downstairs, and stop putting up a fight."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

At the party while waiting for the couple to be brought down

"... And then Rinpoche went into the thing, before Merwin got down, about this is obviously Vajrayana -- the idea here is to unmask. Before we study Vajrayana we have to be willing to expose every bit of our neurosis ... and it's all very symbolic and obvious: that exposing yourself sometimes means literally doing it, and that you can't hope to deal with your neuroses if you're not going to admit them to anyone ....

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Breaking, Cutting, Resisting, Surrendering

Then someone announced, with satisfaction, that Rinpoche had sent an order to bring us down "at any cost". Evidently it was just what some had been waiting for. They started to smash at the door in unison with something heavy; I never saw what it was, but I'd heard something earlier about getting a beam from somewhere. We pushed as hard as we could, but finally the lock (a brass knob) was forced through the wood, and that door gave way. As the first hand came through I hit it with a bottle, and as the opening widened I reached around and struck down, hitting something I couldn't see. The bottle broke. I passed the broken top of it to my left hand, took another, reached through and struck downward again, not seeing who or what I was hitting at, and again the bottle broke. At that point Dana shrieked, and there was a loud crashing as the big glass balcony door was smashed, by McKeaver, among others, with another heavy object -- a large rock, I think. It was taken away afterwards before I had a chance to look closely. I crossed the room and started to beat the remnants of the glass door outward onto the balcony, pushing with the broken bottles, but meanwhile the crowd forced its way into the room behind us, from the hall. Dana was shouting, "Police! why doesn't somebody call the police?" but they laughed at her, women too, and Trungpa later mocked her for that, in one of his lectures.

They surrounded us. Dana was backed into a corner. They kept away from the broken bottles I was holding out. It was then that McKeaver asked if I wanted to kill him. As I remember, my answer was to tell him to keep his distance. If I'd "gone berserk", or hit him, as he claims, he'd probably have scars. The way he'd just made his way into the room, for one thing, would seem inconsistent with his statement that "all physical damage" was my doing. If he told me at that moment that he was my friend, as he says he did, I may not have taken the statement very seriously. Another disciple of Trungpa's, Richard Assally (?), was trying to edge along the wall toward Dana, meanwhile coaxing us both, sentimentally, to come and
"dance with the energies" -- a phrase that was getting a lot of use.

It was at this point that they led my (in fact) friend Loring up in front of me, and I saw that his face had been cut by a bottle at the door, and was streaming blood. At the sight, I suddenly fell helpless, put my arms out, and let them take the bottles. They bent my arms back and piled onto me, and as they did, Dana started to fight. It was she who dealt out the black eye -- or eyes. (We thought there was only one: a tall man named Hirsch. Neither of us remembers that McKeever got one. Oh well.)

-- W.S. Merwin, letter to Pope, Pickering, and Trupp, 7-20-77

Were Bill Merwin and Dana Naone dragged downstairs to the party?

Randy Blair asked guard Ron Barnstone if the couple were dragged downstairs. Barnstone replied that they went under their own power.

-- Interview with Ron Barnstone (Blair) 6/24/77

Persis McMillen said that Merwin and Dana were definitely dragged down.

-- Interview with Persis McMillen (Santoli) 7/1/77

What was Trungpa's costume?

At this point you and I are in costume. He wore what he usually was wearing ... At this time this was jeans, and suspenders, and a checkered flannel shirt."

-- Interview with Richard Assally (Faigao) 6/27/77


Tableau for the Confrontation

"Here's Rinpoche, here's the other door, and they brought them in like this. Merwin and Dana are standing here like this and I was right here ... Maybe like three people between me and Rinpoche. And then this whole crowd of people like this. I felt almost very 'on stage' myself. And the other stairway was over here. I can remember feeling -- had no idea what was going on, I had no idea. I got a whiff of Rinpoche's power, and I realized that like anything could happen, anything. And my mind started going crazy. I started having, like, hallucinations in terms of what could happen. Meanwhile, this is all going just more and more intense.

"And Merwin's calling Rinpoche names. Like, I think even names like 'charlatan' and 'why do you have to drag people out of their rooms -- what is this -- who do you think you are -- I don't have to -- you're not my teacher, you're not my guru.' Meanwhile, Dana is screaming, and I responded much more powerfully to her than to him."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

Dana Naone describes being brought down

"... We were let up, and walked down to the dining hall escorted by guards.

"Everyone in the dining hall (a number of people had gone to bed earlier) was ranged in a semi-circle around Trungpa. As we entered the circle, I said they were all "a bunch of cowards." There was a terrific argument with Trungpa -- angry and heated, though neither of us shouted. He said we had not accepted his invitation, and talked about our aggressions and violent acts."

-- Dana Naone, letter dated July 25, 1977, to Trupp, Pickering, Tom Pope

The Putative Orientality Rap

Allegations have been made that Trungpa spoke to Dana, when she was brought before him, of her orientality.

"Rinpoche talking to Dana, said, 'You're oriental; you're smarter than this. You might be playing slave to this white man but you and I know where it's at. We're both oriental ... we know where it's at.' Then he started to talk about 'my country being ripped out from under me, and it was the Chinese communists who did it ... If there's one thing I want to see in my lifetime, it's to see my country back. Only one oriental to another can understand that.' He said, 'I know your background, Dana ... ' He kept doing this super racist thing ... very cutting, and her only response was, 'You're a Nazi, you're a Nazi,' and 'Someone call the police.' She was completely freaking out."

-- Interview with Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Trungpa told Dana that he wanted Tibet back. In an interview Persis McMillen stated she had the feeling Trungpa was saying 'you are oriental, you shouldn't be opposing ...' in "seductive manner."

-- Interview with Persis McMillen (Santoli) 7/1/77

"He started commenting on her orientalness."

-- Interview with Paul Shippee (Sanders) 6/30/77

Dana Naone remembers the rap

"William characterized his use of guards and physical force as fascistic; 'What about the people who instigate wars?' I asked. His response was the Chinese communists had ripped off his country, and he wanted to rip off theirs. Leaning forward, over me (he was seated in a chair, and we were sitting on the floor in front of him), he said that he and I understood each other, and could talk to each other, but that William was a white man. We had something between us because of our ancestry, which excluded William, he repeated, and I felt he was trying to use that as a seductive argument to divide William and me. I told him that he was barking up the wrong tree. Several times we were asked. 'What's your secret? 'No secret,' we said."

-- Dana Naone, letter dated July 25, 1977 to Trupp, Pickering, and Pope.

W.S. Merwin recalls being taken down to the Party, the orientality rap, the "lion's mouth" discussion, and a brief exchange regarding fascism, plus the stripping.

They piled onto Dana, too, until someone, probably Tom Reikan, told them to lay off, and they let us go. We said we'd go down by ourselves, if they kept their hands off us. Tom told us they would, and we went down. The hall was crowded with onlookers. Dana shouted again. "Why doesn't somebody call the police?" One of the women insulted her, told her to shut up. One of the male disciples threw a glass of wine in her face. I didn't see it, and she said nothing about it until afterwards.

In the dining-room, Trungpa seated in a chair: a ring of subdued party-goers sitting on the floor. As we walked in, Dana looked around and said loudly, "You're all a bunch of cowards."

Trungpa called us to come over in front of him, looked up at me, and said. "I hear you've been making a lot of trouble." Grabbed my free hand to try to force me down, saying, "Sit down." (The other hand had been bleeding a lot and was wrapped in a towel.) When he let go, we sat down on the floor. He said we hadn't accepted his invitation. I said that if we had to accept it it wasn't an invitation. He insisted that it was an invitation. An invitation, I said, allowed the other person the privilege of declining. We pushed that around a bit. The way he saw it, no force seemed to have been used, except by us. I reminded him that we'd never promised to obey him. He said, "Ah, but you asked to come." Then, dramatically, "into the lion's mouth!" I said that they'd developed big corkscrews, new, for forcing coyotes out of their burrows, and that maybe he ought to get one, to do his job more easily. He said he wasn't interested. Cross. That he wanted us to join in his celebration. I said that we'd thought it was lugubrious, and that as I understood it, one couldn't be forced to celebrate, if it was to mean anything. In one of these exchanges he got angry and threw his glass of sake in my face. "That's sake," he told me. He turned to Dana and said. "You and I can understand each other better. You're an Asiatic." And more on that tack. I think Dana should recount what their conversation consisted of. She was very clear, and she I turned him off that one. In an exchange with us both the subjects of fascism came up. I said I thought his use of a gang, and of intimidation, was fascistic. He said the Chinese had ripped off his country, and that he wanted to rip off theirs. The whole question of violence, then. How violent we were. Dana asked him, "And what about the people who start violence and wars in the first place?" He said, "What's the matter with wars?" And in the pause that followed that, he changed the subject, said he wanted us to join in the dance and celebration and take our clothes off." At that point; then and there, we both refused, saying that it was one more non-invitation. He asked, "Why not? What was our secret? Why didn't we want to undress?" To Dana he said, "Are you afraid to show your pubic hair?" We said there was no secret: we didn't dig his party, weren't there at our own choice, and didn't feel like undressing. He said that if we wouldn't undress, we'd be stripped, and he ordered his guards to do the job. They dragged us apart, and it was then that Dana started screaming. Several of them on each of us, holding us down. Only two men, Dennis White and Bill King, both of whom were married, with small children there at the seminary, said a word to try to stop it, on Dana's behalf. Trungpa stood up and punched Bill King in the face, called him a son-of-a-bitch, and told him not to interfere. The guards grabbed Bill King and got him out of there. One of the guards who'd stayed out of it, went out and vomited, as we heard later. When I was let go I got up and lunged at Trungpa. But there were three guards in between, and all I could swing at him, through the crowd, was a left, which was wrapped in the towel, and scarcely reached his mouth. It didn't amount to much, and I was dragged off, of course.

"See?" Trungpa said, "It's not so bad, is it?" When I asked, "Why us?" I meant not just the stripping, but why had we been chosen, out of all the others who'd retired early from the "celebration." But I dropped the subject -- what was the point? Everybody rushed and took their clothes off, as though that was all it was really about. It must have been a relief. Some of them said it was: that they'd shared the whole thing with us. I asked if he was ready to call off his dogs and let us go. He said yes, and as we started out he came after us, saying something about how he really loved us. We went up to the room, where a few people were starting to pick up the broken glass and stretch plastic over the balcony door. (Laura Kaufman, whom we know only slightly, meticulously cleaned the whole bathroom.) And from there a friend drove us to the hospital.

-- William S. Merwin letter to Pope, Pickering, and Trupp, 7/20/77

The stripping

Niland recalls Trungpa saying "You still have to be stripped." Niland relates: "That's when Merwin said, 'all along I've just been trying to protect my woman. No one's going to see her naked body ... ' So first they said, 'O.K. Merwin, take your clothes off.' He said, 'I refuse, you'll have to take them off ...' So he (Trungpa) said, 'Guards, take his clothes off ...' And he passively let people undress him."

After Merwin, Niland recalls Rinpoche saying, "Now Dana." Then, Niland relates: "He (Merwin) said, 'No, not Dana.' (Rinpoche began) talking to him in his own terms about poetry ... that any poet worth his salt has to be willing to take his clothes off, even sometimes literally. Rinpoche was saying, 'I mean you no harm, I really like you.' ... He was in a position to be very gracious at that point.

"Merwin wasn't buying any of it. He was screaming: 'Hitler, bastard, Nazi, cop!' Then they went to strip Dana . . . and she fought back! .. . Then Dana was standing there, perfectly pretty girl, no scars, everyone 's wondering, does she have scars or something? A long discourse went down about art and poetry and Vajrayana and Rinpoche assuring them ...."

-- Interview with Jack Niland (Santoli ) 6/23/77

The stripping

The only nude people during the Trungpa and Merwin confrontation were two nude people who came to the party that way -- standing next to Trungpa.

-- Interview with Richard Assally, (Faigao & Santoli) 6/27/77

Richard Assally, who removed her clothing, recalled her as being rather passive while her clothes were taken off. He asked her to relax.

-- Interview with Richard Assally (Faigao & Santoli) 6/27/77

Barbara Meier watched the incident, standing on a nearby table

"We (Dana and she) were just trying to become slight friends. She was hysterical and she was looking around the room. 'What's the matter with you? Won't anybody help me? Won't someone help me? Won't someone call the police? Please, please call the police, somebody stop, stop this.'

"And she'd say, 'Joseph! what's the matter with you? Help me!' And she'd look at somebody else. 'Help me! Who are you? What kind of a friend are you? How can you let them do this to us; you're all cowards! You're all cowards! ... '
Well, that was very powerful. It was very heavy -- I just -- my feminine button was pushed. I just really wanted to go out there and help her and I swear to God, I mean, I was just -- just on the verge of like, you know, doing something ... and the next thing, man, her clothes were off, and Merwin's clothes were off and she's screaming and ... kicking, and flailing around, and there's like sort of an instant circle of guards around them. I mean, everybody's bristled like that.

"And the things that were going through my mind ... Oh my God, I don't believe this. I just really can't believe this is happening; what's gonna happen next. I had just had this whole thing with Rinpoche too -- which was incomprehensible to me. I just didn't understand what was going on. It was like his vajra anger somehow. His wrath, like all of a sudden he was a Mahakala, he was a wrathful deity ... And somehow the whole 'take' on it was that this was an expression of our own lack of ... this was how our frivolity and indulgence was met. And was thrown back at us. And I had no idea how far it had to go, for us ... to realize it, and I really regretted getting so stoned ... because I did realize something very powerful and potent was going on.

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

Cursing the vajra master

"She's screaming, Rinpoche and Merwin are fighting, arguing, and Rinpoche is sitting up in his chair like this; I'd never seen him like that before; but I'd never seen him come back so fast from these name callings. I'd never heard anyone call him names before. Insults. I'd never heard that -- I was shocked.

-- Barbaro Meier (Bataan Faigao) 6/29/77

Did somebody come to Dana Naone's assistance?

"I think, well, Ricky (Richard Assally), I think, started to, and then Rinpoche hit him in the face ... Richard Assally, Rinpoche hit him in the face, and said, 'strip her,' -- Oh, maybe he said 'strip her' and then Richard hesitated for a minute. I think he was, I'm pretty sure he was hit, and then he just like, 'snap', and did it. He said it was very 'powerful: like a heavy thing to do, you know, he felt close to her. I mean he was relating with her, and so it was very hard to 'obey' the guru. There was like this twist happening. So at a certain point he just did it, he (Assally) just cut through his own attachment and did it.

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

Dana Naone's account of the stripping

"Trungpa said we were invited to take our clothes off, or have them taken off for us. Neither of us felt it was an invitation, and the guards were ordered to do the job. I tried to hang on to William but we were pulled apart, and I lunged at Trungpa and twisted my fingers in his belt. Guards dragged me off and pinned me to the floor. I could see William struggling a few feet away from me. I fought, and called to friends, men and women, whose faces I saw in the crowd -- to call the police. No one did. Only one man, Bill King, broke through to where I was lying at Trungpa's feet, shouting. "Leave her alone" and "Stop it." Trungpa rose above me, from his chair, and knocked Bill King down with a punch, swearing at him, and ordering that no one interfere. He was dragged away. (Dennis White was the only other person in the crowd who tried to protest: he appealed to Trungpa -- during the argument William and I were having with him -- to leave me out of it, but Trungpa told him to shut up.) Richard Assally was stripping me, while others held me down. Trungpa began punching Assally in the head, and urging him to do it faster. The rest of my clothes were torn off."

-- Dana Naone, letter dated July 25, 1977 to Trupp, Pickering, and Pope

Dana called out to Landy [Landon] Mallery for help, while in front of Trungpa. Mallery informed Al Santoli in an interview that he wouldn't help her because he knew Rinpoche "well enough." A few people, recalled Mallery, did try to help.

-- Interview with Landy [Landon] Mallery (Santoli) 6/30/77

Bill King tried to help her, but three guys pulled him away.

-- Interview with Paul Shippee (Sanders) 6/30/77

Bill King was hit. Phil Richmond was also hit.

-- Interview with Barbara Meier ( Faigao) 6/29/77

According to Allen Ginsberg, Merwin's version of the seminary incident included this verbal exchange between Merwin and Trungpa:

Merwin: "I didn't make any promises to you."

Trungpa: "You put your head in the lion's mouth."

-- Interview with Allen Ginsberg, 6/24/77 (Dorskind, Fryberger, Nager)

Ginsberg said Merwin's view or the "upshot" was: "'I respect Trungpa a great deal.' 'I love Trungpa a great deal,' or something like: 'I've learned a great deal from him, and I never want to see him again.'"

-- Interview with Alan Ginsberg, 6/24/77 (Dorskind, Fryberger, Nager)

"The next thing after that I remember is that Merwin and Dana are standing together, facing Rinpoche, just completely huddled around each other. (They are nude.) Very beautiful. Adam and Eve. They are (laughs) gorgeous bodies ... The whole thing, just visually, was very elegant somehow. It was like a melodrama ... He's protecting her, and she's sobbing, and she's yelling. 'How could you do this to us?' And he's saying something about. 'Well, I'm not ashamed,' and then the next thing I can remember, is him saying something about 'Well, if we have the guts to do it, what's the matter with the rest of you cowards?' At which point, it was just amazing, without any hesitation whatsoever, everyone else, a hundred other people in that room, took off their clothes ... The music went back on, they left the room, and people started dancing again."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

Pan-Party Ecdysis

"... Then Merwin said, 'Why us? ... Why are we the only two people in this room standing here naked in front of you?' ... Someone in the audience cried out, 'OK Merwin, we're all going to be naked.' And every fucking person in the place took their clothes off. The music went back on. Rinpoche said. 'let's dance'.

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Text of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche letter to seminarians, placed in mail boxes morning after Halloween party:

"Evening of October 31, 1975

Dear friends.

In order to present comprehensive communication between the students and myself, I have come to the conclusion that we need to break the ice of our personal concealment. It is time for us all to be honest. If you want to maintain your patterns of hiding your deception, you are invited to leave the seminary before the Vajrayana teachings begin. Since your neurosis is already an open secret, you could be braver in unmasking it. Without commitment to yourself, there is no ground to present the Vajrayana teachings to you. I invite you to be yourself, without trips. I would like to encourage you to make a proper relationship to the coming Vajrayana talks. This requires of you the understanding that we are not fooling each other. Since you are all pretty involved in the teachings, your attempt at deception is a useless hesitation. In order to recognize your personal deceit, you must understand the umbilical cord between you and me. You must offer your neurosis as a feast to celebrate your entrance into the vajra teachings. Those of you who wish to leave will not be given a refund, but your karmic debt will continue as the vividness of your memory cannot be forgotten.


Chogyam Trungpa, the Venerable Vajra, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche."

(Text not paragraphed: text delivered via taped interview by Jack Niland, 6/23/77 to A. Santoli.)


[Hiroko Nagata] Toyama, why did you come to the mountain?


[Mieko Toyama] Why? I came for military training.

[Hiroko Nagata] No, I mean what feelings prompted you to come?


[Mieko Toyama] In order to advance the revolutionary war,
I understood that I would have to become a soldier.
In the enduring stage of conflict of the global revolutionary war,
we must develop the revolutionary war in advanced countries ...

[Hiroko Nagata] But you, why did you come here?


You haven't said a word about yourself.
Why did you come to the mountain?


[Mieko Toyama] What do you want me to say?

[Hiroko Nagata] We don't want to hear those kinds of things, but your actual feelings.
We want to know why you want to be a revolutionary soldier.

[Mieko Toyama] For the revolutionary war, we must take on a militant quality and ...


[Hiroko Nagata] No, that's not it. In more practical terms.
Because it is an extremely real situation we face.
why did you put on makeup this morning?
Why do you need makeup in the mountains?


Why are you growing your hair out?

[Mieko Toyama] Before, my hair was short, and the police knew that so
I decided to grow it in order to do underground activities.

[Hiroko Nagata] If that's the case, why not just use a wig?
I think there's another reason.
What is it?

[Kaneko] Toyama, why don't you take off your ring?


[Mieko Toyama] It's important. My mom gave it to me.


[Kaneko] Aren't you brushing your hair during meetings?


[Shindo] She just became a soldier, and we haven't addressed the female issues yet.
I accept responsibility for addressing the issue.

[Ozaki] This is probably a difference between city safe houses and mountain bases.
I think it's a difference in style between the RAF and the RLF.

[Hiroko Nagata] What have you all done since you came to the mountain?
You haven't done a thing.
The RAF doesn't understand anything.


You have this great mountain hut and plenty of food.
But living in a mountain base isn't so simple.
If things are like this,


all the work put in by the RLF will be meaningless


There's no way we can work together.


[Tsuneo Mori] We accept the RLF's criticisms of Toyama as general critiques of the RAF.


Though the RLF's group and self-criticisms emerged naturally,


evaluation from the perspective of the communist movement is also worthy.


We must address the relations between each revolutionary group from that perspective.
Through mutual critique, from each individual becoming communist
the all-out war can be won.
No objection!
Thus, until comrade Toyama criticizes her activities and becomes a communist,
we will not let her leave the mountain.
All of us will support comrade Toyama's self-critique.
She herself must work hard to go through critique.
Additionally, self-criticism is demanded of all others who require it.
Anyone leaving the mountain for something other than prescribed duty
will be executed.
No objection!

[Everyone] No objection!

-- United Red Army, directed by Koji Wakamatsu

William Merwin and Dana Naone decide to stay on at the seminary

"He went and had a talk with Trungpa the next day, in which Rinpoche said he no longer had to attend classes because Merwin said he felt very self conscious. He stuck it out; he showed up every time for Rinpoche's talks only. Otherwise he just stuck it out in his room, seemed to go for long drives in the country, and show up only in the evening."

Santoli asked Jack Niland if Merwin actually went through Vajrayana. Niland replied, "Absolutely -- Sat there every day."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

It is reported that William Merwin, during a meeting apparently subsequent to the stripping, gave Trungpa a present of a sheath knife.

-- Interview with Paul Shippee (Sanders) 6/30/77

Jack Niland, in the company of Persis McMillen, ran into Merwin in Aspen the next day. Niland recalls: "He (Merwin) said something about Rinpoche being drunk and really blowing it. He was on the trip that he was perfectly correct in his behavior and Rinpoche blew it, that he was just human. He said 'Rinpoche really made a fool of himself last night, didn't he?' This guy didn't get it at all."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

Alan Marlowe saw William Merwin at lunch the next day, after the party, and Merwin expressed sorrow over the cutting up of Loring Palmer and sending him to the hospital.

-- Alan Marlowe (Sanders) 6/26/77

Persis McMillen also, like Merwin and Dana Naone, stayed on at the seminary after the stripping. In an interview McMillen recalled that Trungpa extended Merwin and Dana a personal invitation to stay. They stayed on nearly to the end of the seminary. Trungpa seemed open and tolerant to Merwin and Dana.

-- Persis McMillen (Santoli) 7/1/77

"The second from the last night of the seminary ... it was announced that they were going to have a ... party and show slides of the dance (Halloween party) ... Merwin split about an hour before the slide show and party."

-- Jack Niland (Santoli) 6/23/77

"Joseph and I went up to their room, or they came into our rooms. They were talking about the invasion of their privacy. And the brutality, and the violence. And they were just appalled. They couldn't reconcile that experience with their conception of Buddhism, and meditation. It was just incomprehensible to them ... It was very difficult for me because I remembered the sort of bleary space that I'd been in that night, the impulse to want to help Dana, and I didn't want to apologize to them for not having helped, and they were really at fault at that, that no one had helped them, that no one had stood up for them, that we were all sheep, on and on ... just completely relentless in their version of the situation. But here we were, actually sitting down, talking; we had been friends, there was some notion that we might conceivably continue to be friends, and yet, this schism had occurred, and I really didn't want to cop out on any level. I was trying to say, 'well, vajrayana teachings were ruthless; compassion takes many forms.' And they had some rapid fire answer to every statement, which in one way or another defended their sense of 'self' -- their sense of propriety. It was impenetrable.

"I actually burst into tears. I felt so frustrated ... The situation was so impossible."

-- Interview with Barbara Meier (Faigao) 6/29/77

The reasons for staying on at the seminary

Questions 9 & 10. About why we stayed on: whether he apologized.

The day after the happenings, as his letter was tacked up, a verbal message came to us through the officers of the seminary, inviting us (yes) to stay on, "either as students or as guests". We sent back another, saying that we needed to know what he meant by those terms, and asking to see him. Several days later we were granted an interview. Quiet and polite. More on the subject of the invitation which we'd refused, and his disappointment. He asked us to stay on. I said the decision must be Dana's, since I thought she had had much the worst of it. He urged her to please stay. Said there would be no more incidents: "one landmark was enough". We had talked it over, of course, and we did so again, in front of him. We'd come to study the whole course; we'd taken it (as he knew) seriously: we wanted to finish what we'd begun, and not be scared off. The last lap, about to begin, was the famous Tantric teachings. We said that if we stayed, it would be with no guarantees of obedience, trust, or personal devotion to him. He said alright: so did we, and we shook hands. No apology on either side. He said he was disappointed in our trying to hold ourselves together after the incident: going to class, talking to people as normally as possible. In his view we should have broken down, in some public way. I said I was appalled at what had happened, but that if the circumstances were to repeat themselves, I imagined that I would act in the same way. We stayed on until the end of the Tantric teachings, the last examination, three weeks later, attending his lectures, but going to other things irregularly. The day after the examinations, the prospect of another seminary party (including slides of Halloween) and of a coming blizzard forecast on the radio, that might keep us snowbound there for several more days, did not seem like things we wanted to hang around for, and we left.

-- W.S. Merwin, letter to Pope, Trupp, and Pickering, 7/20/77

Ed Sanders on Poetry, Crime and Culture


A native of Kansas, youthful figure skating champion, collegiate classics scholar at New York University, Ed Sanders first assaulted the world of contemporary culture and politics in the early 60's when he swam out to the Polaris nuclear submarine in a Connecticut harbor and boarded it illegally as a gesture of pacifist protest. This episode he celebrated in a work of verse, Poem From Jail. Soon thereafter he became editor of a seminal New York City mimeograph publication, Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts: manager of the Peace Eye Bookshop; and founder-composer-vocalist of The Fugs, a rock 'n roll group of legendary stature. He published Peace Eye Poems and gathered prosaic Lower East Side street data for his later Tales of Beatnik Glory. Moving west, he spent a year covering the Charles Manson affair, first for the L.A. Free Press and later in an epic narrative, The Family: and made two albums of free-form country rock for Warners, Ed Sander's Truck Stop and Beer Cans on the Moon. Since then he has published 20,000 A.D., a book of poems manifesting his concerns with ancient history, and has done extensive investigative research in such fields as political assassinations, cattle mutilations and domestic intelligence. His current projects include the development of an "electronic pulse lyre" and the preparation of a performance piece called "The Karen Silkwood Cantata." He currently resides with his wife and daughter in Woodstock, NY., where he edits the Poetry, Crime and Culture Press.

But what I, and everyone else at the paper, could have done without was the Mansonoids.

Kirby had brought in poet and former Fug Ed Sanders from New York to cover the murder trial of Charlie Manson. As soon as he hit the tarmac at LAX, Ed was writing stuff about how the Establishment was railroading this innocent hippie tribe in order to crush the Counterculture.

Charlie and his Family loved the coverage. They loved the paper. They loved Ed. There were more of them on the loose than anybody not at the Freep realized. And as the trial progressed, every stoned-out nut in California seemed to want to join the Manson Family too...

The Mansonoids trusted Ed. They trusted him so much that they told him about all these other neat snuffs they had done that only their good buddies at the Free Press now knew about, hee, hee, hee....

So early on we all knew that Manson & Co. were indeed the crazed killers the wicked Establishment claimed they were, but Kirby had to keep on their good side, such as it was, the Freep had to hew to the Mansonsoid line, print Charlie's poems and manifestos, or the murderous creeps hanging around the paper might not like us any more....

-- Norman Spinrad: Autobiography, by Norman Spinrad

Report prepared and written by members of the Investigative Poetry Group, at the Naropa Institute, June 16-July 13, 1977, with additions in August & September, 1977.

The Investigative Poetry Group included members of the Investigative Poetry class, first session, Naropa Institute: Antler, Arnold Aprill, Randy Blair, Whitney Blauvellt, Glenn Dorskind, Philip Fryberger, Wayne Hall, Jan Johnson, Simon La Haye, Helen Luster, Matthew McCabe, Richard Nager, Brad Pearman, Mark Pickering, Tom Pope, Al Santoli, Mark Sargent, Alan Sobel, and Arthur Trupp, with special additional work by Balaan Faigao, Tasha Robbins, Miriam Sanders, and Simone Lazzeri.

Ed Sanders, investigative coordinator. Albert Santoli, associate. Title by Deirdre Sanders & Rick Nager.

The Party: A Chronological Perspective on a Confrontation at a Buddhist Seminary

© 1977 Poetry, Crime, & Culture Press

Box 729 Woodstock, N.Y. 12498

No portion of this report may be copied without written permission of Poetry, Crime & Culture Press. Illustrations by Glenn Eddy © 1973 Shambhala.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:59 pm

What I Saw at a Black Mass: An Interview with Massimo Introvigne
by Maria Grazia Cutuli
From "The Devil is Among Us", published by Epoca on September 28, 1993.



"The climate wasn't an orgiastic one. I didn't hear teeth grinding like you can read in the books. There was a sacred atmosphere though. And no doubt it was sinister". It's May 1989. After a number of months spent seeking out contacts, assuring they would remain anonymous, finally Massimo Introvigne is allowed to attend a black mass, celebrated by one of the two Churches of Satan in Turin.

The Catholic scientist, since 1998 Director of CESNUR -- Center of Studies on New Religions whose members are both laymen and clerics [its President is the Bishop of Foggia, Mons. Casale] including scholars from all over the world -- had previously attended the Satanic rites of Satanists in New York and in San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles. But there, The Churches of Satan are public organizations and their addresses are even included in the yellow pages. Nothing to do with the discretion and mystery surrounding secretive cults like those in Turin.

EPOCA: Mr. Introvigne, how did you succeed in overcoming the mistrust of the people from Turin?

INTROVIGNE: I've frequented cult circles for years. I found my Satanist contacts among people practising sex magic. Although I'm a Catholic, I enjoy a good reputation. It was they who sought me out. At times, we met in neutral territories; then they allowed me to attend their rites.

EPOCA: Where did the rite take place?

INTROVIGNE: In a private apartment of the old part of town, probably used as a storehouse, with a room nearly ten meters long.

EPOCA: How was the furniture?

INTROVIGNE: Essential. With no black painted walls, like you can see in the US or in other deserted Satanic chapels discovered also in Turin. Just an altar, at the center, with a dark pall, similar to those used for funerals. There was a statuette showing the devil with a erect phallus, at least 30 centimetres long ... A lot of devil shaped red candles, a "hand of glory" and a presumably human skull.

EPOCA: Who attended the mass?

INTROVIGNE: There were about twenty people, all standing. On average, they were quite young, 30 years or more, I guess. There were a few women: not more than seven or eight. They all wore normal clothes, except the celebrant who was black dressed, with a mantle reaching his feet and a hood on his shoulders.

EPOCA: How was the rite held?

INTROVIGNE: It started by invoking Satan, in a shaky Latin, according to the classic liturgy which turns the Catholic liturgy upside down. The faithful replied to the texts by heart. There was a sequel of ritual acts such as: lighting candles, Satanic spells, manipulation of objects, which lasted about twenty minutes. Then a priestess came in.

EPOCA: What do you mean?

INTROVIGNE: In Satanic rites a woman, a virgin is much better, acting as an "altar" is essential. In the US I've seen wooden supports anatomically shaped so as to host the priestess in a laid down position. In Italy it's usually an uncomfortable table. That's why, I guess, the woman came in after the rite had already started.

EPOCA: How old did she appear to be?

INTROVIGNE: I don't think she was a chaste young woman. She was 40, more or less, good-looking, but really embarrassed. Maybe it was her first experience in this field. Again, in America I've seen naked women moving with extreme naturalness. Not in this case. She entered covered with a bathrobe. She took it off and stretched out on the altar.

EPOCA: What happened then?

INTROVIGNE: The "priest" carried out the rite with the deconsecration of the Host(they assured me it wasn't a stolen host). He put it on the woman's body and then he quickly, quite in a furtive manner, dipped it in her vagina.Then he raised the chalice. The elixir, a mixture of sperm and vaginal secretions which serves for giving immortality and creating the "body of glory", had been prepared in advance and was ready.

EPOCA: Did any copulation take place?

INTROVIGNE: Yes it did, soon after. But it was quite short. It lasted a couple of minutes more or less. And it was just between the priest and the woman-altar. It was like if the act was mimed, unlike the ceremonies where I've seen celebrant and "altar" find pleasure while executing the rite, a rite where the faithful as well took part.

EPOCA: What did the followers do meanwhile?

INTROVIGNE: They drank from the chalice. But they remained rigorously dressed.

EPOCA: Did they sing any hymn?

INTROVIGNE: No, they didn't. They mumbled some invocations to the devil, while there was an atmosphere of strong emotional tension. There were neither songs, nor musical instruments, unlike the US where you can often hear a pianola accompaniment.

EPOCA: In what manner did the ceremony end?

INTROVIGNE: The priest blessed the faithful using a liquid which I guess was water. Manuals talk about urine ... and it should be the woman-altar who produces it. But I don't definitely believe that the lady from Turin, who was already really embarrassed, could be willing to be of any help.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:22 pm

Satanism Black Mass



"Satanism", is the worship and imitation of the biblical Satan or Lucifer. It is the antithesis of Judaism and Christianity. Satan is referred as the brother of Christ, the one who was cast out of heaven, and whom the Satanists worship. Condemned by the Bible and the Church.

The "emblem", is a pentagram, like the one of witchcraft, but inverted, with the face of Satan on it. It is not witchcraft, although in practice the edges of Satanism and Witchcraft are blurred.

The "credo", is summed up in "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law",coined by Crowley in "The Book of the Law".

There are two kinds of Satanism:

1- Those who believe that Satan exists and is a powerful force ... withanimals and children sacrificed to worship him and get his favors, and theBlack Mass as the main rite.

2- Those who believe that Satan does not exist, but it is merely the symbol or personification of fleshy human desires and appetites ... and they try to imitate it, with all kind of sins, pleasures and selfishness,lying, steeling, killing ...

Categories of Satanists:

There are not many Satanists, may be less than 10,000 in the world! ...only curiosity and sensationalism pays them much attention, and the actual satanic activity has been greatly exaggerated.

But there are several categories:

1- Group secretive Satanists: They believe that Satan really exists.

The "Traditional", hate Christianity, celebrate the Black Mass, in the cup they drink blood of a sacrificial animal or human, to mimic the Mass.

"Nontraditional", from Neo-Platonism, Eastern Mysticism, and Islam, or off-shots of the Kabbalah, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry ... the"blood" they drink is not necessarily a parody of the Catholic Mass, butto partake of the "fire energy" that blood provides.

2- Public Church Satanists:

No secret, hold worship services open to the public, based mostly on the writings of Anton LaVey's "Satanic Bible", and they believe that Satan is a symbolic force: The Church of Satan of LaVey, Temple of Set. The Church of Thelema of Crowley, the Order of the Golden Down, and derivations of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), may also be included in this category.

3- Youth Gang Satanists, that may or may not believe that Satan exists: "Dabblers" who see Satanism as a symbol of rebellion against any authority. For most, interest in Satanism is a passing fad influenced by drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll, but with serious consequences, like in the spectacular case of Charles Mason, or Andrew Newell who stabbed his mate to death, or Peter McKenzie who sexually abused 13 children.

4- Individual Satanists, often disturbed individuals,neurotic or psychotic, like most Satanists!

Morality of Satanism:

"Do what you will" is the general principle. What is "bad" in the Bible becomes "good"; sin!, and Satan will be with you! ... they call it"freedom of choice"; they believe to get powers to perform magic by doing evil acts.

At the low level, they burn crosses, spray Satanic graffiti, dig up graves...

A higher level is by burning churches, doing all kind of sexual aberrations,stealing, drugs ...

Children sexual abuse is a higher level ... and, of course,the ultimate evil is "killing", children or adults, the greatest release of magical energy.

Black Mass:

This is the ultimate rite for a real Satanist to obtain magic powers: A blasphemous Mass, where the altar is a nude woman, and the vagina is the tabernacle. If possible, a real Host stolen from a Catholic Church is placed in the vagina in the midst of reciting distorted psalms with hot music and all kind of obscenities, cursing Jesus and honoring Satan. The fake priest ends up having real sex, with the Host still in the vagina.

If a baby can be slaughtered during the ritual, they will drink his blood and eat his flesh, to mimic the most the Eucharist ...

Ideally, a Black Mass is to be celebrated by a "real heretic Priest",that, even in sin, can celebrate Mass effectively.

The prayers end with the strongest expression of Satanism: "Shemhaforash",the word pronounced by God when he created the World, and, while spitting on a cross or stepping on it, they all cry out "Hail, Satan".

And,of course, it may end up with a sexual orgy with all kind of abominations and abuses, under the influence of drugs.

Groups of Satanists Today:

1-The "Traditional Secretive Satanists":

They are the "real thing", with the Black Mass, and their number is unknown, though it is estimated in "hundreds" in the world.

2- The "Non-Traditional" Satanists:

These believe that Satan exists, honor him, pray to him, but the celebrations are very different in each group.

3- "Aleister Crowley", (1875-1947) never considered himself a Satanist, but his writings, "The Book of the Law" and "The Equinox" became the basis for modern Satanism. In 1920 he founded an "Abbey of Thelema" in Cefalu, Sicily, considered Satanism, to destroy Christianity. It was brought to America by Jack Parsons who blew up himself experimenting with drugs. Crowley did in England what LaVey did in America, he became a drug addict, and his son mysteriously died during a private ritual that only the two attended. Afterward, Crowley became a babbling, incoherent idiot.A Black Mass was performed at his funeral.

4- "Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO)", emphasizes sexual magic. Some derivative satanic groups have come forth from OTO in America: OTO, in Fort Myers, Florida; in Dublin, California; Ordo Templi Astarte (O.T.A.),or Church of Hermetic Science; Bennu Phoenix Temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Down ...

5- The Church of Satan:

Founded, by Anton S. LaVey in San Francisco, California, in 1966, on Walpurgisnach or April 30, the most celebrated feast of the Witchcraft.

LaVey, appeared as the Devil in the film "Rosemary's Baby", and was technical director of another film, "The Devil's Rain". His most famous disciple was Sammy Davis Junior, who later regretted experimenting with Satanism. Film star Jaine Mansfield was also a member of the Church of Satan, which has an estimated 5,000 members.

On "The Satanic Bible", the "9 Satanic Statements" claim that "Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence". Represents materialism, instead of pipe dreams. Vengeance,instead of turning the other cheek. Satan represents man as just another animal, more often worse, the most vicious animal of all!.

"Here and now is our day of joy", proclaims, "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, aye four-fold, a hundred fold!"... kindness to those who deserve it, but if you want to kill them, do it!, morally or physically, because the main doctrine is "do what you want".

It falls in the category of "public Satanism", with a symbolic Satan...but in the rites, "a nude woman" is the altar... and that's non only symbolic!.

In the prayers, Satan is invoked and honored, and Jesus Christ is cursed ... and that's not jut a symbol !... 19 prayers are recited in "enochian language", a kind of old Arabic not spoken by anyone,and some of them end with this English translation: "Be friendly unto me, for I am the same!- the true worshiper of the highest and ineffable King of Hell".

In "The Satanic Rituals", there are some of the highly offensive and blasphemous words for a Black Mass: "Thou, thou who, in my capacity of Priest, I force, weather thou wilt or no, to descend into this host, to incarnate thyself into this bread Jesus,artisan of hoaxes, bandit of homages, robber of affection- hear!... O lasting foulness of Bethlehem, we would have thee confess thy impudent cheats, thy inexplicable crimes!. We would drive deeper the nails into thy hands, press down the crown of thorns upon thy brow, and bring blood from the dry wounds...

...cursed Nazarene, abstractor of stupid parities, impotent king, fugitive god!... O Infernal Majesty, condemn him to the pit, evermore to suffer in perpetual anguish. Bring Thy wrath upon him, O Prince of Darkness..."

But what is more scary, is to think that every time "we sin", you and I, "we crucify again the Son of God, making a public mockery of Him" (Hebrews 6:6)... my be LaVey is right in something!... when we sin, you and I, are worse than animals, the most vicious animals of all!... may Jesus have mercy of all of us!. Thank you, glorious Jesus, my Redeemer, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords... and in the name of Jesus Christ I order Satan to get out of the heart of any Satanist or Witch who may read these lines. Thank you, dear Jesus, the King of Glory, you are dethroning Satan from many hearts every day, right now!. Praise to you, Jesus of Nazareth,the only one God, to whom is all the praise and glory and honor for ever and ever. Amen.

6- "Temple of Set":

It is an offspring of LaVey's Church of Satan, founded in 1975 by US Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aquino,with 1,000 members. The name "Set" comes from the Egyptian god Set-Ham. It claims to be more moral than the Church of Satan! ... but Aquino maintains an avid interest in Nazi culture, and Nazi insignia are occasionally worn by members of the Temple.

It has a functioning British branch, with only 55 members, but well-organized: David Austern sits in his word processor and instructions zipto and fro across the Atlantic. The "Temple" is a black fabric-lined garage, with black carpet and a black-draped altar decorated with black candles and a plastic skull. Austern is a homosexual.

7- "The Society of the Dark Lily", is run by a women who suffers from multiple sclerosis. The farm in Scotland where she lives is the headquarters of the organization, and the scene of debauched, sadistic beating of naked young girls.

8- "Young Gang Satanists":

Teenage dabblers is the third category of Satanists mentioned, and probably the largest.

Adolescents, are notoriously easily bored,perpetually on a quest for the different. They are naturally curious about spiritual matters, and are likely to rebel against the conventions of their upbringing. The occult, and especially its false promise of powers to change both themselves and the world, is a compelling lure, and there are "many points of entry" of Satan:

1- "A Friend",is the main "point of entry" of Satan: Many teenagers become "rebels"against their parents and the establishment, but "slaves" to their friends:

If the friend uses pants with a hole in the back, he is got to use it! ... if he is on the occult, he is got to try it, and be even more daring! ...

2- "Fantasy Games",are also good points of entry: of Satan Ouija, Tarot Cards, Dungeons and Dragons (D and D) ... This one, the respectable D and D, is very dangerous: You don't need boards, only a pencil, paper, and your imagination. Each player assumes the identity of a character of his choice, he becomes an "actor", and so familiar with the character, that he may end up becoming one with him ... most characters worship a deity, and some of them can cast spells and do magic ...

Don't get into these apparent respectable games. They may look harmless fun ... but many have end up in sexual abuse, insanity, suicide, murder... and they are an easy point of entry into the dabbling Occult and Satanism ...

3- "Heavy Metal Music",is another good route into the Occult and Satanism, and into death and suicide: Among the songs that blatantly proselytize Satanic rituals and the Occult, are:
- "Show no Mercy", by Kerr King, who shuts out, "in Lord Satan we trust".
- "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", by Black Sabbath.
- "Shout at the Devil", by Motley Crue.
- "Holy Hell" by Possessed, with references to defiled crosses, black masses, magic, and ends up with "kill the people, cut the heads, cut the throats".
- Ozzy Osbourne, in "Suicide Solution".
- "Kill 'Em All", by Metallica.
- The groups Judas Priest, KISS, Iron Maden...

4- "Adults", also actively recruit youngsters into the Occult and Satanism, with the lure of free drugs, drink and promiscuous sex ...

Satanism in the"Catholic Church"?:

Satan attacks the Church from "without" (1 Peter), and from "within" (2 Peter). There is a kind of Satanism when someone proclaims in the Church:
- The Bible is "not" the word of God.
- A person called "Satan" does not exist.
- We do not have to accept the teachings of the Church or the Pope on matters of faith and morals
- Christ did not resurrected physically.
- Jesus in not really present in the Eucharist.
- Fornication, adultery, abortion, homosexual relations, masturbation is not always wrong.
- If you have a "mortal sin", you do not have to confess before receiving the Holy Eucharist.

These "Satanic doctrines" are taught in some Catholic seminaries,universities, work-shops, and have found the way in some textbooks and pulpits.

4- Fetishes, Talismans,Amulets, Charms, Superstitions, Potions,Curses, Spells, Magic Prayers, Spoils (In Spanish: Despojos, Riegos,Velaciones).

This is the fourth group of "Magic".

-Some of them may look harmless, but all of them are to honor the Devil and trust in him, not in God!, and that's why the Bible condemns all of them as "prostitution against God".

There is much "ignorance" on this, not usually malice ... but if you drink a poison by ignorance, you are going to die, even without malice... and in the name of Jesus Christ I order the Devil to get out of any person who reads these lines and is wearing or practicing any of the above... Thank you, Jesus, I praise you, because you are enlightening and delivering many people every day ... right now!

"Fetish":A Portuguese word meaning "enchantment", is an object or potion or writing given by a witch with false magic powers.

"Talisman": An Arabic word, "tilsman",meaning "magnet of power", is an object held to have magical or protective powers: A rock, a crystal, a metal, a doll, a cloth... a ring, a bracelet,a chain... throw them away!... Trust in Jesus!... get a crucifix... the rings, bracelets, and colors of Astrology honor Satan... those wore just for adornment or therapy have nothing to do with this.

"Amulet":An Arabic word, "hamelet", which means "hanging": It is like a talisman against evil or injury, or for good luck: A medal with a chain around the neck, a stone hanging in the neck, a pendent... the difference between an"Amulet" and a "Christian Medal", is that the Amulet honors Satan and his Demons, placing the trust in them, while the Christian Medal honors God and his Saints, placing the trust in them...

The Astrological or Santeria medals honor the Devil ... throw them away, wear instead a medal of Jesus or his Mother, or any real Christian Saint ...the Astrological or Santeria collars, honor Satan ... get rid of them !...wear instead a Christian Rosary.

"Charm": A small ornament worn on a chain or bracelet. When worn for its purported magical or luck effects, they are of Satan, like any amulet or talisman.

"Superstition":It is a belief, practice, or rite, that is maintained despite evidence that it is unfounded or irrational ... we all know about them ... forget them!, don't place your life on an irrational chance or magic, place it in the hands of the real God ... trust in God!.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:12 am

Part 1 of 2

The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant [EXCERPT]
by John Riley Perks [John Andrews]
© 2004 by John Riley Perks



My mother was a Wicca spiritual healer and practical nurse. My grandmother, who was a nurse physician, would take my mother along on her rounds. One of the stories my mother liked to tell of her childhood travels with my grandmother was about the death of Freedom. Freedom was the first name of an old woman of the village who lived in a cottage where the animals still lived in the bottom half of the house, providing winter heat for the humans who lived upstairs. Word had come that Freedom was dying and my grandmother and mother went to the house where the old woman now lived alone with a cow. They climbed the ladder and found Freedom lying on her straw-mattress bed, her breathing shallow and her consciousness coming and going. My grandmother told my mother to stay with Freedom and to lay her out after she died. This entailed plugging her anus and vagina with cotton and tying closed her mouth. Then my grandmother left to visit another patient.

It was night and although it was not my mother's first experience with death, it was her first time of being alone with a dying person. She was terrified. The wind blew out the kerosene lamp. My mother clung to Freedom's hand, asking and praying for her not to die before my grandmother returned. The cow below made sounds like demons ascending the ladder and with the labored breathing and twitching of Freedom, the screeching of owls, the yelling of night hawks, and the house moving in the night wind, my mother was near to fainting.

It was at least two hours before my grandmother returned to find my frightened mother still grasping Freedom's hand. Lighting the lamp and inspecting Freedom, my grandmother exclaimed in a sharp tone, "Dolly, Freedom is dead. Go and get the Vicar's dining room table leaf and we will lay her out." I can always see my mother as a fourteen-year-old girl terrified and beset by spirits, yet crossing the village alone at night to return with the table leaf under her arm to lay out the dead Freedom. It was this story and her act of bravery that always inspired me to go beyond my fears. Even at an early age I admired her willingness to tell me this story, not only of her bravery, but of her fears in handling the beings and spirits that surrounded her.


I had decided to make a sacred object out of Rinpoche. In order to do that I would be very formal in a British way. Now Max, who was more laid-back, California-style, would greet Rinpoche in the morning by saying, "Hi, Rinpoche, I suppose you want breakfast." Max would not even get up out of his chair, but would continue to read the newspaper. This pissed the hell out of me. The more formally British I got, the more relaxed Max seemed to get.

This got to the point where I really wanted to throttle Max for not behaving correctly as I thought he should, and I told Rinpoche I was ready to knock some sense into him.

"Well, we can't do that," he said. "Let's play some tricks on him."

Max was a speed freak whenever he got up, whether it was morning or evening. He would throw on his kimono and jump into his slippers, which he kept outside his bedroom door. He would just slide his feet into the slippers and take off down the hall. One night Rinpoche sent the grateful Max off to bed early.

"You look tired, Max; better go to bed," he said.

We waited about an hour or two and then we went upstairs and securely glued Max's slippers to the floor. Rinpoche was rolling around stifling his laughter. The next morning we were up before Max, sitting in the kitchen having tea. The kitchen was right under Max's room. We heard him get up, rush out his door, and then, bang! He hit hard on the upstairs floor. Down he came to the kitchen.

"Say, Rinpoche," he exclaimed, "someone glued my slippers to the floor." I burst out laughing.

Rinpoche looked at him and said, "Perhaps it was an illusion." Then he started to chuckle.

The following week was passing in an unusually quiet and peaceful manner when Rinpoche said to me, "Johnny, can you put something that will smell in Max's room."

"You mean like scent, Sir?" I asked, not really understanding his intent.

"No, no," he looked at me like I was crazy. "Something that will stink."

We were eating fish, so I said, "Well, Sir, I could nail a piece of fish up under his bed."

"Great," he said, nodding his head.

So I put a large piece of halibut into a net bag and nailed it to the underside of Max's bed. When I opened my bedroom door the next morning the entire hallway smelled like Fulton's fish market. Max said nothing and both Rinpoche and I were quite surprised. We thought that he must have twigged it but the next day the whole house smelled of rotten fish. Max dame downstairs and said, "John, I think there is a dead mouse in the wall in my room. Could you take a look? I'm going to move to another room."

That same day, believe it or not, I found a dead mouse on the lawn. As Max was moving over to the new room I went upstairs and chipped away at part of the wall and pretended to find the dead mouse.

After Max moved everything into his new room, I nailed the dead fish to the bottom of his new bed. When Max complained about the smell again, Rinpoche said, "Your smell must be following you around."

I had always been a hunter. It was part of my self-sufficient trip of taking care of myself in the wilderness -- not just of the forest but of the world. Now that I was a Buddhist I reacted in horror to killing, although playing with guns for purely self-defense was something I was sure that the Buddha would have agreed with. In any case, hunting seemed more humane than a slaughterhouse.

When I was a young farmhand I had never been to a state-registered slaughterhouse. I had no more idea of the procedure than did the black-and-white cow we were taking there. The inside was stainless steel and white tile with a cement floor. An electric hoist with a hook on it ran down the center of the room. The place reeked of Pine-Sol. The smell made the atmosphere even more surrealistic. We had to coerce the cow into the room by twisting her tail. She was wide-eyed with terror. One of the fellows attached chain cuffs to her rear legs and ran the chain up the hook on the electric hoist. He pressed the red button on the wall and the hoist slowly gathered in the chain and lifted the animal. The cow's body hung in the air only inches above the floor. A pair of pliers attached to a rope was put into the cow's flaring nostrils. I was told to pull the rope so that the cow's neck was stretch tight. The other fellow took a large butcher's knife and with a swift swing he struck the cow's stretched neck. The cow's blood burst out across the room with great force. I was so shocked I let go of the rope. The head of the cow was only half severed. The cow, swinging slightly, convulsed while it hung suspended in the center of the room. Blood spewed out of her severed neck in all directions. Her mouth opened and closed in silent bellows as air rushed in and out of her exposed windpipe.

One of the fellows, enjoying my shock, took a cup and filled it with blood from the cow's streaming jugular vein. He offered the steaming cup to me. "Want some? It puts lead in your pencil." Now, thoroughly amused by my repulsion, he laughed loudly and drank the hot blood, leaving red stains on his lips. Within an hour the cow was skinned, disemboweled, cut into sections, and hung in the cooler. I decided I liked hunting -- it was more romantic.

In order to be a successful hunter you had to first understand and appreciate the hunted animal. You had to know its lifestyle, its nature, its habitat. You had to actually enter its world. You had to realize that like yourself, an animal and its world are alive, and that life and death, being alive, have a quality of magic -- a sacredness.

I had a holy concept of sacredness, regarding some things as holy and others as untouchable. My shrine in my Buddhist practice was like something out of House & Garden magazine -- flowers, candles and incense, and beautiful Tibetan pictures. I was on my way to becoming a real holy man.

Rinpoche could see my progress in practicing Buddhism and he started to bother me about hunting. He wanted me to take him hunting. "I want to kill something," he said. "I have never killed anything. I've just been a Buddhist monk all my life."

I would always refuse. "It would not be right for you to kill something, Sir."

Seeing Rinpoche in a slaughterhouse or even hunting didn't seem right to me. It didn't fit my concept of a holy man. The hunting queries continued for some time until one morning a flock of snowbirds gathered on the frozen lawn where I had thrown some old bread. Rinpoche picked up the .22 rifle from the kitchen corner. He walked toward the window and said, "Right, Johnny? We're going to shoot some birds."

I protested. "Sir, we've been through this a mission times. Please hand me back the gun."

Rinpoche, always one to enjoy himself, began to leap around the room in his kimono singing, "I'm going to kill. I'm going to kill." I didn't like the way it sounded at all. I took the gun from him and loaded it. But I also moved the rear sight out of line. I opened the kitchen window.

"Here you are, Sir," I said as I handed the gun to Rinpoche. "It's all ready to fire."

Rinpoche took aim at the birds and fired the single-shot rifle into the morning air. The birds flew off and not one was left dead. I threw more bread out and Rinpoche fired and again no birds were killed. We both laughed. I wasn't surprised, as he probably couldn't have hit the barn with those readjusted sights.

Rinpoche looked directly at me and said, "Oh, you're just an English gentleman, you couldn't kill a bird either." It was a challenge and I took the bait.

"Oh?" I said, accepting the wager.

So I took the gun and aimed, using only the front sights on the rifle and picturing the rear sights in my mind. I killed a bird, much to my own delight and Rinpoche's surprise. I walked out, picked up the bird's carcass, and wave it to Rinpoche and Max.

As I helped Rinpoche up the stairs to bed that night he said, "Johnny, do you know what killing that bird means?

"No, Sir," I said.

"It means you will get married and your first child will be a boy will be a tulku. Also it will cause a slight interruption in our living situation.

I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what relationship there was between the events of that morning and my having a son. Rinpoche didn't expand on it, so I let it go and silently put him to bed.

Two days later Rinpoche and Max were in town shopping and got stuck in a heavy snowstorm. They had to stay overnight at an inn. Rinpoche called and told me with a chuckle, "We've been held up by a snowbird." A slight interruption. Interestingly, I have not killed anything since. Later I did get married and our first child was a daughter whom we called Sophie. Rinpoche announced that she was a reincarnation of G.I. Gurdjieff.

"But Gurdjieff was a man," I said.

"Yes," said Rinpoche, "that's Gurdjieff's joke on us."


Somehow during this winter of the retreat year my handle on what I thought of as reality was becoming a little insecure. Out of seemingly nowhere I started having panic attacks, rapid heartbeat, and hyperventilation. I was sure I was going to die on the spot and I was certain there was a ghost following me around the house. So I asked Rinpoche if he had seen any ghosts in the house.

"Only two," he replied.

I almost fainted.

One night I had a dream of talking to a woman in her late thirties. She was wearing a long dress and holding my outstretched hand. She was talking about building the farmhouse where we were staying. "When were you born?" I asked.

"May, 1853," she said.

I did the math in my dreaming mind, pulled my hand away and sat up in the bed, awake, with my heart racing.

When I was physically with Rinpoche I did not have panic attacks but I was certain that he was somehow the cause of it all. It did not occur to me that Buddha's message, "Nothing whatsoever should be clung to," applied to me. My Britishness was part of "me." I had made my living by being British and if I gave that up what would I become? American, French, Italian? I mean, you can't just become nothing. But the fear was growing in me that Rinpoche was somehow nothing -- a gap. How could "I" act as nothing? Where do you start? After all, the Path of Accumulation was the Path of Accumulating, not the Path of Nothingness. The Path of Accumulation meant that I was going to get something. Here I was being invited to jump into empty nothingness. Not even invited, I was being pushed -- caught between a rock and a hard place. My memories of war became a welcome and safe distraction. I felt that if I could keep these away from Rinpoche I could hang on to some semblance of sanity. Every time the world would start melting around him I would take refuge in the only thing left in my thinking mind, my memories.

Rinpoche said he would like to target shoot. I had my .38 revolver, which I had purchased to protect Rinpoche (some joke), and a .22-caliber single-shot rifle. Now I went out and purchased a ruger .223-caliber semiautomatic with a thirty-round clip. I set up a target area in the garden that resembled World War II in miniature, with plastic soldiers, tanks, and trucks. Rinpoche, Max, and I would go out and blast them. Rinpoche called them the Mara Army. "You could be victorious over the troops of Mara, Johnny," he said. That sounded good but what the hell did it mean? I looked up Mara in the encyclopedia and it said "Mara is the Lord of the Sixth Heaven of the Desire Realm and is often depicted with a hundred arms and riding on an elephant."

Oh, I thought, mythology. I felt better. It's not real. But just in case, I started to look for an elephant rifle. Perhaps a Winchester .375 H and H Magnum might do the trick.

One evening Rinpoche and I were sitting in the kitchen. Max rushed in from shopping in town. Now, the closet and basement doors were next to each other and both doors looked the same. The basement stairs were very steep and ran down about twelve feet. Max was distractedly talking to us as he took off his coat, opened the wrong door, and, not looking, reached in to hang it up. Rinpoche yelled, "Shunyata," as Max and his coat fell into the basement. Unhurt except for a few scrapes, Max climbed out.

"Rinpoche," said Max, "You should have yelled to stop me."

"Why?" replied Rinpoche. "You could have gotten enlightened."

That night we went out to dinner at the local inn. Rinpoche had me purchase some cigars and secretly put some gunpowder in one of them for Max. the three of us sat in the inn causally smoking our stogies, two of us waiting in anticipation for the other one to explode. This went on for some time until Max, with the cigar still in his mouth, took a big puff and the cigar let out a big whoosh rather than an explosion. Flaming sparks and smoke shot out across the room from the cigar. Max remained pretty cool and said, "Your idea, I expect, Rinpoche." The three of us laughed.

However, the truth was that Max was a nervous wreck, and beneath my dignified British facade so was I. Finally, Max asked Rinpoche if he could go back to Boulder for a few weeks. Rinpoche gave his okay and Max departed, leaving Rinpoche and me alone in a house surrounded by deep snow. By necessity Max left his dog, Myson, with us. One night after supper Rinpoche said, "Get Myson and bring him in here." I dragged the shaking dog into the kitchen and following Rinpoche's instructions I sat him on the floor and covered his eyes with a blindfold. I set up stands with lighted candles by either side of his head. Myson couldn't move his head without being burned. Rinpoche took a potato and hit Myson on the head with it. When the dog moved, the fur on his ear would catch on fire. I put out the flames. Now and then Rinpoche would scrape his chair across the tiled floor and whack him again on the head with a potato.

"Sir," I began hesitantly, trying to stop him.

"Shut up," snapped Rinpoche, "and hand me another potato."

I started to empathize with the dog. In fact, I became the dog. I was blindfolded and was banged on the head with a spud and if I turned my head my hears would burn and there was the squealing sound of the chair on the floor. Pissing in my pants I was that dog not being able to move, feeling terrified and at the same time excited. Finally, the scraping chair and the potato throwing stopped and we released the shaking dog, who ran upstairs to Max's empty room.

"That's how you train students," Rinpoche calmly stated to me.

"Jesus," I thought, "that's pretty barbaric."

Rinpoche had me change the telephone number so that Max could not call us before he came back. He arrived, bags in hand, concerned that he had not been able to reach us. Before he could say much else, Myson rushed in and jumped all over him in exuberant delight. Rinpoche deliberately scraped the kitchen chair across the tiled floor. The terrified dog shot out of the house and fled across the field. Max was shocked and pointedly asked, "Rinpoche, what did you do to my dog?"

"I don't see any dog," he replied, looking at me.

"I got it!" I said, with the realization of being blindfolded and having three things happen to you at once, knowing the scraping and the disappearance of the dog were both somehow illusion. In fact, it was all illusion. Everything was illusion, but real. Rinpoche smiled and warmly greeted Max.

Did I get it? Not then.

“It was summer of 1985. I "married" Rinpoche on June 12th of that year. I met him around May 31st at a wedding of Jackie Rushforth and Bakes Mitchell in the back yard of Marlow and Michael Root's home. That year, we had our wedding at RMDC a few days before Assembly, then we had Seminary and Encampment happened during Seminary.

That was the year he spoke of limited bloodshed and taking over the city of Halifax and the Provence of Nova Scotia. We were in the middle of the Mahayana portion of seminary teachings. For weeks, CTR (Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche) had been asking everyone he saw if they had seen a cat. He asked the head cook, the shrine master, and all of his servants if they'd seen one. We returned to our cabin late one night after a talk and there was this beautiful tabby cat sitting on the porch. I said, "Here kitty, kitty" and it came right over to me, purring and rubbing against my legs. I picked it up and said: "Here, Sweetie. Here's the cat you've been wanting."

I can't remember exactly which guard was on duty, but I think it was Jim Gimian, and of course Mitchell Levy. Someone took the cat from me and Rinpoche ordered them to tie him to the table on the porch. He instructed them to make a tight noose out of a rope so the cat didn't get away. He stood over his guards to examine the knots and make sure they were secure. I was curious at this point, wondering what this enlightened master had in mind for the cat. I knew there were serious rodent problems on the land and I assumed he wanted to use the cat for this problem.

Then, he instructed the guard to bring him some logs from the fire pit that was in front of the porch, down a slight slope. We took our seats. Rinpoche was seated to my right and there was a table between us for his drinks. He ordered a sake. The logs were on his right side, so he could use his good arm. (His left side was paralyzed due to a car accident that happened in his late twenties.)

The cat was still tied by a noose to the table. Rinpoche picked up a log and hurled it at the cat, which jumped off the table and hung from the noose. It was making a terrible gurgling sound. He finally got some footing on the edge of the deck and made it back onto the porch. Rinpoche hurled another log, making contact and the cat let out a horrible scream as the air was knocked out of him.

I said: "Sweetie, stop! What are you doing? Why are you doing this?" He said something about hating cats because they played with their food and didn't cry at the Buddha’s funeral. He continued to torture the poor animal. I was crying and begging him to stop.

I said, "I gave you the cat. Please stop it!" I'll never forget his response. He looked at me and said: "You are responsible for this karma" and he giggled. I got up to try and stop him and he firmly told me to sit down. One of the guards stepped closer to me and stood in a threatening manner to keep me in my place.

The torture went on for what seemed like hours, until finally the poor cat made a run for his life with the patio table bouncing after him. It was clear he had a broken back leg. I'm sure that cat died. I looked for him or the table for the rest of Seminary and never found either. I imagined him fleeing up the mountain and the table catching on something and strangling him.

I was completely traumatized by the event, but it was never spoken of again. Rinpoche told me the "karma" from this event was good. I was dumbfounded. A common feeling I had when around Rinpoche was that there were things going on that I simply could not understand. It seemed like other people, with a knowing nod of their heads, understood things on a deeper level than I. I was in fear of exposing my ignorance, so i learned not to question and to go with the crowd around him. They didn't appear to have any problems with what he did. Such was the depth of their devotion. I just needed to generate more devotion to Rinpoche and one day I might understand.”

-- by Leslie Hays

It was during this retreat in Massachusetts that Rinpoche started envisioning a developing the Kingdom of Shambhala. The Kalapa Court would be Rinpoche's home and it was to be in my charge. Instead of being Rinpoche's butler I would soon be Master of the House. I would become a Dapon in charge of the Court Kusung, or servant guards -- in Buddhist terms, Bodhisattva Guardians. Molly, one of Rinpoche's students, came down from Karme Choling. She was an illustration artist and she and Rinpoche together designed the Shambhala flag -- a white ground with blue, red, white, and orange stripes on the leading edge and the yellow sun in the white field. Rinpoche designed and drew the Shambhala arms of the tiger, lion, garuda, and dragon, which are soon on the cover of Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior (published by Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1984)

I was excited about this creative time. This was going to be a real kingdom with its location in Nova Scotia, Canada. I would be safe within that reality, or so I thought. One day Rinpoche said to me, "Well, you know, Johnny, someone has to ask me."

"Ask you what?" I said.

"Ask me to become Earth Holder, the Monarch of Shambhala."

"Well, I'll ask you," I replied.

"Great!" said Rinpoche. We planed the event for the Tibetan New Year. I cut a tree for a flagpole and Max planned a dinner. Then at sunrise on the New Year the three of us got up and dressed in our best attire. As the sun rose in the eastern sky I asked Rinpoche formally if he would become Sakyong for the benefit of all beings.

He replied, "Yes."

I fired off a twenty-one shot salute from my pistol and Max ran the Shambhala flag up the pole. We saluted and shouted "Hip, hip, hurray!" then followed up by singing the Shambhala anthem. Max and I went into the dining room and feasted with the new Sakyong. I was joyful and excited, but underneath, my uneasiness continued to alternately swell and subside. Somehow the reality of the "gap" was still lurking below my world of this-and-that. On an intellectual level that was still fairly primitive I had some understanding of Buddhism. I knew what it was supposed to look like -- peaceful, calm, wise, compassionate. I knew enough to say, "Yes, I got it," but at the same time it was not in my gut on a visceral level. I thought perhaps I should do a retreat, since it would give me a change to get away, relax, and get myself together before things went too far.

I could see myself robed, sitting under a pine tree in meditation posture with the sunlight playing on my shoulders and the wind in the pines. "Yes, that's it," I concluded, so I asked Rinpoche.

"Not a chance," he growled.

"But, Sir, I could finish my prostrations and do the other practices ... take the Vajrayogini abhisheka with David and the Regent and ..."

"No hope of that," he snapped.

Shit. I was trapped again, stuck in the life of a servant bursting with resentment. Then he gave me one of those smiles that light up the whole dark universe. It penetrated into my murk and dissolved it and I was better and worse off simultaneously.

"One day you will be Sir John Perks," he said.

Wow, I thought. Sir John Perks of the Kingdom of Shambhala. I was full of hope again.

Aloneness, when it hit, ruined my hopes and expectations. I was walking to the car in Greenfield, having done the shopping, when it struck. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of total aloneness and stopped dead in my tracks. There was no John Perks. There was nothing to be alone. Had "nothing" been a mental concept, it would have been something to hold onto. Then I panicked.

Only now, looking back, can I say that it was an overwhelming realization of nonexistence. The only way that I can convey what the experience was like is to ask the reader to imagine that all you think you are is totally fabricated. What you are is totally manipulated and conditioned by your own mind. Had I completely realized this at the time I would have died on the spot from a heart attack. For what was under assault was my thinking mind, its solid reality, what and who I thought I was. That which I thought was reality was, in fact, totally empty. This was the great "switcheroo," or turnaround.

Desperately trying to get back to what I still thought was my solidity I staggered to the car, trying not to hyperventilate. I managed to drive to the Howard Johnson's Motel bar. I ordered a double gin and tonic and drank it down like a glass of water.

"Are you okay?" asked the bartender. Where had I heard that phrase before?

"Fine, fine," I said and ordered another double. Sir John Perks had better get a suit of armor, I thought wryly.

But the attacks became more frequent. Then I had a realization. Sex! If I felt so alone why not have a partner? I asked Rinpoche if I could have a lady friend up on some weekends. To my surprise he said yes. So I invited a friend from Boston to visit. But it gave me no relief. In fact, it made the aloneness sharper and I felt as if I were going to die any second. One day at breakfast Rinpoche said to me, "Johnny, isn't it strange how orgasm and death feel the same?"

I blocked his words for the moment and panicked later.

Relief came several days later when he said, "Johnny, let's take a trip to London."

I pretended not to be excited, and to make sure, I asked, "To London, England, Sir?"

"Yes," he answered matter-of-factly. "We need to get some Shambhala medals made there and we could get some military uniforms." I brightened up. Trooping of the Colors meets sir John Perks. I had a mission.

"Let's stay at the Winston Churchill Hotel," he suggested.

National pride swelled in my chest. Shambhala was going to be British after all. As a safety procedure I went to the local doctor and got prescriptions of Librium and Tagamet for my panic and stomach pain. Sam, the publisher of Shambhala publications, was to meet us in London where he had an office. On the aircraft Rinpoche and I sat together. He was quite upbeat and talked about all the things we would do in London: restaurants, nightclubs, theater, and clothing stores. The air stewardess asked what we would like to drink. Rinpoche ordered his usual. "Ginandtonicus," pronounced as the name of the Roman general from the Asterisk Comic Books.

"You could teach people etiquette, Johnny," said Rinpoche. He went on talking about military uniforms, tuxedos, evening dress, balls, dancing, and formal dinners. Excitedly I joined in with further ideas. Rinpoche said, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Let's do it. We will grow old together." Bliss and joy returned, drowning out the emptiness.

And so it came to pass. In London we stayed at the Winston Churchill. We took the designs of the Shambhala medals to the jewelers to be made. We ordered uniforms at Grieves and Hawks on Savile Row -- a general's uniform for Rinpoche, a major's uniform for me. Rinpoche used his family name on the order form, Mr. C.T. Mukpo. I used my original birth name, John Andrews. The clerk looked at Rinpoche's form in a quizzical way and asked, "Who is Mr. C.T. Mukpo?"

I hesitated, my mind searching for a realistic answer. Finally I said the first true thing I had ever said in my life.

"I have absolutely no idea."
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