Saturday, May 14, 2011

Former Jesuit Ruben L.F. Habito On His Jesuit And Zen Experience

I went to Japan in 1970 in my early 20s, sent by the Jesuits to help out in the work there. And so, when I arrived I was enrolled in a language school and there I learned about Japanese culture and language and how to accustom myself to living and working in Japan. My spiritual director at the time, at the language school in Kamakura, was Fr. Thomas Hand. He was an American Jesuit from California who had already been practicing Zen himself under Yamada Koun-Roshi (whose Zen center was right there, in Kamakura). So, he recommended that I join him there at the San’un Zendo. So I did. That is what got me into the practice of Zen. This was as I was preparing my own studies for the priesthood in the Jesuit order.

And what was it about the practice of zazen that stuck?

I found it a very simple and direct way of coming to a point of stillness, without using discursive thought and without a lot of preliminaries. Of course there are physical and other preliminaries such as taking the posture, and so on. We had to go through eight introductory talks in the San’un Zendo as beginners before we could even join the rest of the group of sitters or being introduced to the Roshi. Again, the basic practice of zazen, is a very direct and simple way of being still. I found that very attractive and also very powerful. I came from a tradition of spiritual practice in the Jesuit order based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. These spiritual exercises can also lead to a very deep spiritual experience but it arrives there going through a lot of discursive language and theological presuppositions, and so forth, beginning with considerations of how the world is in a mess, and how I am part of that mess.
Link (here) to read the full interview of Ruben L.F. Habito at Sweeping Zen


Maria said...

"Basically, the New Age Movement is, I repeat, Oriental Meditation, Oriental Prayer, or Mysticism that has penetrated many Christian circles. There are communities that follow that pattern. For example, there are Religious communities of women that follow the New Age pattern in meditation and prayer. And all I can say is that those communities, which have adopted these New Age ideas are all - I mean this sincerely - in danger of dissolusion. At the root of the New Age Movement, is the denial of an infinite, personal God, who created the world. And consequently, once you say that than how much you use the name God, no matter how much you talk about prayer and meditation, that prayer and mediation is no longer to God, but either to the unknown forces in the world or to one's self. And, you know, all I can say is, that one reason the New Age Movement has so deeply infected, as I should say, the Western world is because the Western world, unlike the Oriental world, has become very materialistic. Preoccupied with things that you can touch, taste, feel, see, experience with your body. The Western world needs a reformation. It needs to discover that there is a real world that you cannot touch, taste, see with your bodily eyes, or hear with the bodily ears. The real world - God is very real, God is God, does not have a body or extension in space, or size or weight. There is the angelic world, which is, as we say purely spiritual. Each angel is an individual person. Each of us, we believe, has a spirit; our souls dwelling within us. We believe this spirit, our soul, continues living consciously after the body dies".

--John Hardon SJ

They are smarter, and always, always know better.

Anonymous said...

To equate the ancient tradition of Zen Buddhism and the practice of zazen with "New Age movements" is laughable.