The Dick Nixon of Zen

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Wed Mar 13 10:12:25 MST 2002


> Two decades later, speaking more candidly to Downing, Baker admitted
> that he had entertained other reasons for wanting a sporty
> Beemer. "I decided I would try to prove that you could be fully a
> layperson and a monk," he said. "...I thought, okay, I'll drive a
> nice car, and I'll have girlfriends, and I'll go to dinner.... I was
> trying an all-fronts experiment."

the fact is that Baker is correct on this point, Zen students are
constantly asking themselves whether they can follow the path of their
great leaders (in zen one typically chants the names of the
patriarchal line between one's teacher and Buddha on a daily basis)
and still lead a "normal" life in the "work world".

in this sense Baker and his students are a fine example of the well
known buddhist symbol of a snake devouring its own tail -- the wheel
of life turning on itself.

this is not to excuse his sexual politics -- i dont intend to blame
the victim on that score, but it doesnt surprise me that Baker
rationalizes his choice of a BMW as he did.

i used to be in the zen world enough that i would hear the inside
scuttlebutt on these types of affairs. it wouldnt surprise me if Baker
has a story to tell as well.

Crewes reviews reads quite perceptively on the zen state of affairs. i
notice he's also done a series of pieces on Darwin for NY Review of
Books. probably worth a read.

les schaffer


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