Zen 101

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A talk on the Zen of Trauma in Kansas City

The Zen of Trauma: a talk with Roshi Daiho Hilbert, PhD

Thursday, June 25
at 6:30pm                               
3405 Highland Ave, Kansas City, MO

On Thursday evening, at a nearby Buddhist Temple the Rev. Dr. Harvey Daiho Hilbert Roshi, a Zen Master in the Soto lineage will offer a talk on “The Zen of Trauma.”  The Rev. Dr. Hilbert began studying Zen in 1966 after being shot in the head during combat in Vietnam.

Educated as a psychotherapist, Roshi spent many years in private practice, and in service to in-need communities in the southwest United States. Daiho was ordained as a Priest in 2000, and received transmission of the Dharma in 2005 as the sole successor of Rev. Ken Hogaku Shozen McGuire-roshi, a Chief Disciple of Zen Master Rev. Dr. Soyu Matsuoka-roshi. 

Zen Master Daiho will facilitate a discussion around the practice of Zen, through the experience of trauma. Ven. Sunyananda of Dharmakaya Buddhist Association highly recommends this event as a rare opportunity to engage a clear-eyed Buddhist master. 

Donations for the teacher will be kindly accepted, and a few copies of his chap book "The Zen of Trauma: A Practice for Life" will be available to interested participants.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


With respect to all,

The other day in a conversation with a biker veteran who, I might add, is just completing his Masters degree,  I was reminded of the difference between tolerance and acceptance.  When I worked in the T or C school system I recall receiving teaching materials related to tolerance.  At the time I didn't give it much thought, though I believe I thought it was a good idea.  I think now, I was wrong.  Teaching tolerance is about teaching us to use forbearance in order not to rock the boat.  We stifle ourselves when we come across something that really bothers us.  I ask a simple question, then, how does a stifling of meaningful difference help us get along?  It doesn't.  What it teaches us to do is "tolerate" each other, in spite of our differences.  While this approach allows each faith tradition to practice, it does nothing to bring us together since we are simply tolerating each other.  The problem then is this: how can we come to accept difference between faith traditions?

One way, I've learned, is to seek commonalities.  When we can see that we have things in common, compassion, for example, we may have something to build on.  Finding commonalities is easy, actually, I've done it many times in mediation sessions with clients.  What is not so easy is finding ways to live with the differences  An example:  I lived for years in the deep[ south where fundamentalist Christians are in the majority.  These are caring people, though (IMHO) misguided.  Blue laws prevailed there.  These were laws based on Christian understanding of their bible.  So, stores, by law, had to be closed on Sunday.  Nothing really wrong with that, right?  Wrong.  From my religious POV, the Sabbath is on a Saturday, and this, folks, is what that very same bible actually says.  If a Jew wanted to shop on Sunday he was out of luck.  Conversely, the fact that stores were allowed to be open on Saturday desecrated the sabbath from a Jewish point of view.  We could say, "so what" there aren't that many Jews, besides we're a Christian country aren't we?  Not really, but we can avoid the facts and stick to the myth...

Which brings us to this, should Jews in our example simply tolerate the desecration of the sabbath?  Or should Christians understand there are differences between faith traditions within the same Abrahamic line (in this case)  and be willing to see and understand difference.  Tolerate?  Respect?

For me the key is to learn, deeply learn, about each faith tradition.  Once we actually know something about a tradition we are in a place where mutual respect can arise.  Even if we differ on issues it is possible to respect those differences and, at times, even learn to appreciate them.  As an aside, I disliked Shakespeare a great deal in college, though the fact was, I had not read much of his work.  Then, an English class helped me understand what I was reading.  I became a fan of the Bard and even taught a college class in Shakespearean tragedies. Teaching something almost always deepens our understanding and appreciation of that which we are teaching.  The thing is, many of us are convinced that we...or our faith tradition, is the one and only truth.  So convinced are we that we cannot or will not learn.  Tolerance, in such circumstances may be a good thing because it can be a beginning step on a path that leads to true respect and love of each other regardless of our beliefs.

When Blue laws were repealed, the sky did not fall down on our heads, but something did happen:  People had to look at their own conscience when it came to shopping on a Sunday. And, I believe introspection is always a good thing...

May we each build bridges toward a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other.

Be well