A 21st Century Koan: Why Swallowing Fish Has Everything to do with the Evolution of the Dharma. Part 1. Finding a Teacher.  
Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei
Diane Hamilton is one of the most skilled and popular presenters at our Integral Institute five-day seminars, and as anyone who has been lucky enough to see her work will tell you, she's a total star. An authorized teacher of Genpo Roshi's Big Mind process, she and Genpo have been introducing seminar participants to some of the extraordinary aspects of enlightened being and awareness that are available here and now, to anyone willing to inquire into their existence.

Stuart Davis, himself a long-term Zen practitioner, begins the dialogue by asking Diane if she could speak about the role of "finding a teacher" on the spiritual path. She explains that after becoming attracted to Buddhism in her mid-twenties, her first relationship with a teacher was with Trungpa Rinpoche during the last few years of his life (roughly 1984-86), after which she was married, had a son, was divorced, and then in 1996 began working with Genpo Roshi. She comments that for both her and Genpo, "There was a moment for both of us when we recognized we needed a teacher to go further... and that didn't come from an idea we had previously, it just was a very spontaneous recognition of where we were and what we needed."

Genpo's primary teacher was Maezumi Roshi, who was one of the first great Zen masters to come to America from Japan. At times Genpo has mentioned that his relationship with his teacher could be characterized by what Maezumi called, "swallowing the whole fish." If you really wanted to receive the teaching, you were fully committed to that process—you swallowed the whole fish, no questions asked. It's fair to say that that's a rather traditional model for a student-teacher relationship, and so in that sense Maezumi could be considered traditional. But what also must be recognized is that, for a variety of reasons, Maezumi's coming to America was a distinct act of rebellion, and perhaps in line with that rebelliousness was Maezumi's second set of instructions to Genpo: after "swallowing the whole fish," you must "spit out the bones." Maezumi empowered Genpo (and his dharma siblings) to do what was necessary for Zen to take root in a culture so radically different from its Eastern heritage.

As Diane and Stu discuss, Genpo's Big Mind process—in which Diane has had a very active role—is one of the ways that Genpo has honored the process of "bringing dharma to the West" that Maezumi started in 1956 when he first set foot in Los Angeles. As with any kind of true developmental unfolding, what came before is transcended-and-included in the new emergent. The Big Mind process is not an alternative to traditional Zen practice; it is supplemental, in the best sense of the word. At Integral Spiritual Center we in no way wish to replace or reinvent the invaluable teachings and practices the great wisdom traditions have to offer, which is why fully transmitted teachers like Genpo—in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Kashmir Shaivism, and so on—are forming the core of ISC. Only those who have seen everything that a tradition has to offer have the authority to suggest how that tradition might change to meet today's world.

Diane and Stu go on to explore the role of family in the dharma and how healthy student-teacher relationships—indeed, spirituality as a whole—might manifest in light of modern and postmodern sensibilities. "Spitting out the bones" was a great start; we invite you to join us on this exploration of what might come next in the ever-evolving, ever-embracing story of Spirit's journey towards deeper and deeper levels of Self-recognition....
transmission time: 32 minutes
keywords: Salt Lake City, Boulder, Genpo Roshi, Naropa University, Trungpa Rinpoche, mediation, Big Mind, kensho, personality structures, pandit, Maezumi Roshi, Integral Spiritual Center, Integral Institute Seminars, Big Heart, "What Is Integral?"
most memorable moment: "I got remarried seven years ago and inherited three daughters whose mother had died about ten years ago—and I had no idea what I was getting into. That has been as important a training in my understanding of this practice as anything I've ever done...."

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