Khalil Bodhi wrote:Interesting that he gives Sanskrit terms for vipassana and samatha (vipayshana and shamatha) as being Pali. It makes one wonder how much he knows about the Theravada.
This is a typo I think since the same terms are introduced in the text (on the same page) as sanskrit.
What I do wonder is who this man studied with and for how long.
That's certainly a typo. Shinzen did doctoral work in the University of Wisconsin in Buddhist Studies and Asian Languages. He knows extensively about Theravada, Pali, and the Pali canon. He's "ABD" (all but dissertation) because he went to Japan to study Shingon, but in order to study them they required him to ordain as a monk. He disrobed several years later and has been a meditation teacher full-time ever since. Here he talks about the etymology of vipashyana/vipassana: http://www.youtube.com/user/expandcontr ... uRbQsQxDRk
Shinzen has training in Vajrayana (e.g. deity yoga, chanting, etc.) from his Shingon training. However he has also done extensive training in the U Ba Khin lineage and has done months in retreat with U Pandita (i.e. Mahasi Sayadaw tradition). For the past 20 years or so, he has studied under Joshu Sasaki Roshi. (Incidentally Sasaki Roshi is 103 years old, and he ordained as a Zen monk when he was 14. So he's been practicing intensively for about 90 years, longer than most people have been alive.) Sasaki Roshi is Rinzai, but Shinzen doesn't teach koans, only vipassana. He emphasizes mindfulness of body sensations, like U Ba Khin (along with other aspects of experience), but also incorporates a simplified form of noting from the Mahasi Sayadaw lineage.
He talks about his influences here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoUJPcWBgXk
An interesting story about his first meditation retreat. He did 100 days in isolation in a shack on Mt. Koya, Japan. There was no external heat source, only the clothes he was wearing. Every day at noon (I think) he had to go out to a well, crack the ice, and pour a bucket of ice water over his head. It was so cold that the towel he used to dry himself was freezing as he was drying himself, so that he had to whack the towel and break up the ice. However, by day 3 he realized that when he was in a state of samadhi, it wasn't so bad. It was tolerable. So he either could spend the next 97 days in misery, give up, or stay in samadhi as much as possible. He chose the latter and said that that state of high concentration has never left him since. The Japanese monks had effectively developed a giant biofeedback mechanism to get people into samadhi.