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Borrowing, reforming, and recreating the cultural containers of Zen Barry Magid April 14th 2018

When we practice Zen we enact forms that exist at the intersection of Western and Asian, particularly Japanese, culture. And so, there's a basic question of what's involved in trying to do that. Some American Zen teachers believe Zen won't really come to America until we replicate Eiheiji so Americans can undergo the same type of training that monks do. That represents a certain type of assumption about what it means to import something from one culture to another. We all need to ask ourselves how possible is that? To what extent is studying Zen studying how to be Japanese? The question is whether we will be proudly mongrels and feel that intermingling is the point, or will we try to breed pure Japanese monastic monks here in America so the tradition is preserved. And yet, in the midst of this question, everything we have to understand about this practice is not something we have to cultivate. It's something already present, already right here.

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