RANDOM QUESTION 1:
I have sat with both Soto and Rinzai teachers and I am still debating about which school is the best for me. I was wondering what I should look for in myself to help me decide which suits me better. I realize you don't know me to answer that question, so any advice on how I should decide would be helpful. I am 28 years old and have practiced (admittedly off and on) for 12 years. I am not sure about the outlook of both of these schools when it comes to women and equal rights, I wouldn't think either are misogynistic, however, I would like to know their differences, due to the fact that I am a woman and such issues matter a great deal to me. Last but not least, your books are great, they are down to earth and a great read. I appreciate your writing style a great deal and your straight up answer.
RANDOM ANSWER 1:
There really is no answer as to what the views of the Rinzai and Soto schools are in terms of women and equal rights.
As for Rinzai, there is no real school as such. At least as far as I'm aware, there is no central organizational body. So it would be impossible to determine the school's views on anything at all. You might try looking up the words of Master Lin Chi (aka Master Rinzai). But I wouldn't know where to find anything regarding women and equal rights. These were probably not big concerns in medieval China. Besides that, the Rinzai school doesn't necessarily derive from the teachings of Master Lin Chi in the way that Christianity supposedly derives from the teachings of Jesus and Islam from the teachings of Mohammed.
Dogen Zenji is generally considered to be the founder of contemporary Soto Zen. In 1240 he composed a piece called Raihai Tokuzui, which means roughly "Bowing to What (or Who) Has Attained The Marrow (of the Truth)." In this piece he is very clear that women, children and even animals can attain the truth as surely as any man. It appears to have been written to counter what we today would call sexist and racist views among the monks who practiced under his guidance.
Here is an article I found in a very lazy Google search on the subject. I typed in "Dogen women" and this was the first thing that came up.
Here is one translation of Raihai Tokzui. I just skimmed over it, but it seems like a good one. The scholars who made it are pretty reputable.
However, even this isn't really what you might call the view of the Soto School. I doubt that the Soto-shu headquarters in Japan has ever issued anything resembling an official statement on the subject of women and equal rights.
The book Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens, and Macho Masters might be useful to answer your question more thoroughly. The book The Zen of Meeting Women probably will not.
RANDOM QUESTION 2:
You describe zazen in the last chapter of Hardcore Zen. In it you say that you don’t need to try and stop your thoughts. You go on to say that straightening your posture should slow your mind. I’m a little confused about this. Is it not a goal of zazen to clear your mind of thoughts?
RANDOM ANSWER 2:
No. The goal (or even "a goal") of zazen is not to clear your mind of thoughts. There is no goal of zazen.
This is the hardest part of zazen practice; that there is no goal or point to it. You just sit and experience what you experience while sitting. That's it.
If you think a lot, then that is the content of your experience. If you transcend all thought and zone out into pure white light or whatever, then that is the content of your experience. Neither one is better or worse than the other. Our habit of defining certain experiences as better or worse than others is the problem.
Of course it's best not to use your zazen as a time to sit and ponder stuff. You are encouraged to let your thoughts go as soon as they appear. But that's not the same as trying to clear your mind of thoughts. Attempting to clear your mind of thoughts is just another type of goal-oriented intentional activity. Goal-oriented intentional activity is always problematic because it separates you from the real moment of the present.
PLUG FOR SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL:
The folks who are making the film I'm in, are getting down to the wire in their fund raising campaign. Below is a message from the director.
Note that for a donation of $25 you get all kinds of neat stuff including a DVD of the film, a T-shirt and the soundtrack. I don't know how he's doing this. But it's a really good deal if you ask me. $25 is less than you'd pay for all that stuff if you decided to buy it retail after the movie came out.
Take it away, director Pirooz Kaleyah:
"This is our very first fundraising drive for SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL and we are aiming to raise $10,000 for production costs. This includes casting, location scouting, art direction, equipment and crew. Any remaining funds from this drive will go straight to post-production. Almost as importantly, other potential donors and investors will use our success at IndieGoGo as a gauge by which to measure the public appeal of our project, so your donation may be worth twice as much!
"Also, be sure to let everyone know that there are all kinds of PERKS for donating depending on how much one donates. For $25 they get a t-shirt, soundtrack, special thanks credit AND a DVD! For $100 they also get a limited edition chapbook of poetry with contributions from all the writers involved in the film and a movie poster, ETC."